Apparent justification and endorsement of coercive psychiatry came yesterday afternoon from none other than the world’s richest—and many think smartest—man. At 12:14 pm on 5/07/23, he tweeted:
“Some individuals are a danger to themselves and society and it’s not fixable. Unfortunately, we do need to keep them in psychiatric facilities. ‘Normal’ people are sometimes afraid that perhaps they would be falsely committed to such an institution. They do not realize how far they are from true insanity.”
As I write this, the tweet has been viewed over 4 million times. It has inspired 2,436 comments, 4,146 retweets, and over 36,200 likes. Of course, I contributed several of those thousands of comments.
The obvious, reasonable argument is well-worn, and not unpredictable from a libertarian-populist. But it’s surprisingly facile for a person who has such superior means to acquire knowledge.
First of all, I wonder what Elon believes “true insanity” actually is, and how he knows, or how anyone knows, “how far (normal people) are from (that).”
Psychiatrists don’t know what insanity is, though they think they see it every day, and they have always presumed it to be brain disease. It’s not a medical idea in fact, it’s a legal one, and no such explanatory brain disease has ever been discovered.
I suggested, with one comment to Elon, a possible lesson about the distance or closeness between normality and insanity: clandestinely dose 10 “normal” people with about 300 mics of LSD, and just watch for a few hours. The CIA and various leading psychiatric researchers did that for at least a decade, and they carefully noted the results. Musk may not know the history (but I’d be surprised). The generally observed phenomenon in that secret research was: “normality” becomes “insanity” in about twenty minutes, in any human being.
My second point is that psychiatric facilities do NOT make dangerous people less dangerous, but only control dangerous people in the same sense that prisons or chains (or execution, for that matter) would control them.
And as a NYTimes book reviewer once wrote, our love affair with modern psychiatry is a sub-prime crisis waiting to happen. Maybe since the pandemic and the latest advent of radical political populism, it’s not really waiting anymore. Everybody tends to hate and rail against “experts” these days. There haven’t been literal heads on pikes yet, but we’ll see.
People are reasonably afraid that they could be “falsely” committed to a psychiatric facility. Psychiatric “diagnosis” is well known, and officially acknowledged, to be bullshit. With the suicide-inducing “treatments” of SSRI’s being prescribed so widely for the depression that we can all expect to come down with (like a virus) any day now, almost anyone might be alleged to be dangerous to him/herself in a dark moment.
But I’m not even sure what a “false commitment” would be, since no one can ever prove that they don’t have mental illness, or that they are not dangerous. I know many people who have tried, and it is actually an impossible legal argument.
If you get along well enough with your family and your neighbors, maybe no one will come after you; but if things go south, the “men in white coats” will be there on call.
We all know this, instinctively. Maybe only Elon Musk is sufficiently certain that things won’t go south for him.