Sunday, May 19, 2013

What mental illness is

Mental illness is simply the problem of bad behavior, inseparable categorically from a continuum of crime.

Our attempts to distinguish mental illness from crime speak well of our human impulse to mercy. But often those efforts also point to our collective guilty conscience, and they present a terrible indictment of our organizational and logical evaluation life skills. Human nature and human society has not changed much in thousands of years, all triumphal pretenses to "science" aside.

This is an opinion which I come to from twelve years of legal representation and advocacy on behalf of involuntary mental patients (Tom Szasz called them psychiatric slaves). I have periodically had the same repeated realization: very few mental health professionals, lawyers, human rights activists or other critics of psychiatry, let alone all other people who pay bills and collect fees, are much oriented toward or even much conscious of, the issue of coercion in mental "treatment".

In the first article I ever wrote for this blog, I said everything starts and ends with the nuthouse. People who participate in the environment and operations of locked, maximum-security state institutions for psychotic killers and perverts have unassailable claims to citizenship. Anyone who has not been in a nuthouse has probably never had to confront certain questions... such as why we even try to separate so-called "mental illness" from crime.

The court says, "Hey, this guy did a terrible, disgusting thing. But maybe instead of just punishing him we can fix him."

Well, that's a good impulse. It's mercy.

Then we try to fix the murderer, or the child molester, with medicine. And these days we usually insist that he can be fixed only with medicine. If the criminal/patient doesn't agree with our medical approach, with the "diagnosis" and "treatment", then we fall back on a very complex and thorough system of enforcement.

This directly opposes our original impulse to mercy. We begin to remind ourselves of the Inquisition. We quickly become confused, start wasting blood and treasure, and look back at the continuing failure of humanity to progress or evolve.