Beyond the Cusp

March 2, 2018

The Left Denies Mental Problems

 

This is not another article claiming that people on the left or far left are mentally challenged or lacking in sanity, as tempting as such might be. That does not mean that the left will be free from all blame. We may of done that back on December 19, 2012, with our article Gun Ban Whiplash Coming from Anti-Gun Progressives. There was a movement starting in the mid to late 1950’s which gained speed through the 1960’s finally taking full sweeping change throughout the 1970’s with the closing of many state and private institutes which treated the mentally challenged and mentally ill patients. The watershed moment came under President John F. Kennedy with the passage in 1963 of the Community Mental Health Act which posited that providing federal funding for community mental health centers and research facilities in the United States would then replace the State Hospitals and place the institutionalized patients out into the general public to be treated by clinics. This was then to facilitate the transition of the less mentally ill to treatment by these community mental health centers allowing them to reside in the real world where they would have examples of proper behavior which could become role models. It was posited by Dr. Henry N. Pratt, director of New York Hospital in Manhattan whose testimony is reported in the New York Times article How Release of Mental Patients Began. He told the subcommittee “striking proof of the advantages of local short-term intensive care of the mentally ill was brought out’” in a Missouri study. This Missouri study, which compared a group of 412 patients in two intensive treatment centers with patients admitted to five mental hospitals, showed that the average stays for patients in the large hospitals were two-hundred-thirty-seven days longer than for similarly diagnosed patients at the treatment centers. Dr. George A. Ulett of St. Louis, the psychiatrist who directed the study as head of Missouri’s Division of Mental Diseases, now says the numbers cited, though correct, were misinterpreted. This would become one of the quotes demanding more Federal dollars to fund the community mental health centers to pay for more psychiatrists and support staff. This would become the perpetual mantra from the left and even some centrists on the right despite further statements from Dr. Ulett and other psychiatrists that the system was misguided and overestimated the numbers which could be readily and properly treated by local mental health centers and did not require institutionalization. Dr. Frank R. Lipton and Dr. Albert Sabatini of Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in Manhattan were also quoted as decrying that research on the problems of the homeless, saying one of the major flaws in the concept of deinstitutionalization was the notion that serious, chronic mental disorders could be minimized, if not totally prevented, through care provided within the local community. Their exact words were, “This philosophical and ideological shift in thinking was not adequately validated, yet it became one of the major conceptual bases for moving the locus of care.”

 

The Sounds in My Head Will Not Stop

The Sounds in My Head Will Not Stop

 

The other problem is that initially the psychiatric specialists came to believe that the new drugs, especially psychotropic drugs, would be the panacea of cures for numerous mental disorders including some of the most serious disorders. This reliance on the new drugs and promise of even bigger and better drugs on the horizon actual success rates were grossly overestimated. There eventually became two obvious shortcomings of drug therapy. The first was that these drugs would work with little or no side-effects which proved to be dead wrong as prolonged use of many of these drugs proved to be disadvantageous and some even dangerous. The other is that you could expect that the patient would take care and religiously take their prescriptions in the correct doses and at the right time. Too many patients simply were not sufficiently and mentally capable of remembering to take their medications, operating within society, interacting with people or following the simple protocols of society such as laws, prevailing morals, personal interactions and, for some, any knowledge required to fit in or act as required in almost any situation, even the most ordinary and common daily interaction. Many of the problems associated with the homeless have come as a direct result of the deinstitutionalized mentally ill. The problem which has been created is one which will be a greater challenge to repair than it would have been to simply finance the existing system which deinstitutionalizing of the mentally challenged was presumed to be a repair and an improvement. The great idea has most definitely come home to roost, and it roosts largely in our city streets, under bridges, in emergency rooms and living wherever they can find a piece of dry where they can place their cardboard homes if they are fortunate to live where they can do so without running afoul of the legal systems.

 

This was recently covered in an article by Walter Williams titled Another Liberal-Created Failure. Professor Williams pointed out research that, “according to professor William Gronfein at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, by 1955 there were nearly 560,000 patients housed in state mental institutions across the nation. By 1977, the population of mental institutions had dropped to about 160,000 patients.” But how did we get to the point where there were so many institutionalized mentally challenged patients. What was the initial reasoning behind the state institutions? These mental health state institutions were established to address an actual and real problem, the mentally ill were a sizeable percentage of the lawbreakers and when placed in prisons, they were mistreated, thus the state homes became the remedy to prevent further mistreatment of the mentally ill incarcerated in the prison system. The mental institutions were designed to provide the necessary treatment as well as separation from the normative society thus decreasing the problematic interactions between the mentally challenged and normative populations. State institutions, as noted by Dr. Williams, were initially founded in 1773 in Williamsburg, Virginia, as Eastern State Hospital became the first public hospital in America for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. They were followed by more state treatment hospitals throughout the United States as this was recognized as a much necessary and required solution to the obvious problem of the mistreatment of the mentally ill within the prison system. These systems continued as the best solution in a system where every solution is whatever is the least disadvantaging and least damaging to the people placed in these hospitals. What probably became lost with time is that the institutions for the mentally ill were not simply a prison for the mentally ill but hospitals where treatment and therapies could proceed under the supervision of licensed psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professional. Were there problems at some of these hospitals with certain staff members mistreating the patients? Yes, there were, but still the treatment generally was professional and caring and a far cry from what these unfortunates would have received if incarcerated in the prison systems.

 

This was lost sight when new drugs became available for the treatment of the mentally ill and many became somewhat overly optimistic over the results that these medications would in theory provide. The new and progressive idea for the treatment of the mentally challenged was that they could not really get better within the mental institutions as they had few examples of normative adult behavior. Should the mentally challenged be placed into an outpatient treatment center and placed into normal society, then they would recover more readily and adjust to regular life and improve. Also stated in Walter Williams article was, “Several studies summarized by the Treatment Advocacy Center show that untreated mentally ill are responsible for 10 percent of homicides (and a higher percentage of the mass killings). They are 20 percent of jail and prison inmates and more than 30 percent of the homeless.” One has to look at these numbers and one should stick out as an extremely counter productive result of treating them outside institutions, the system being pursued since the 1963 Community Mental Health Act. The twenty percent of jail and prison inmates should be shocking as the initial reason for programs for the treatment of the mentally ill was to take them from the prison systems as they suffered from mistreatment and lack of proper medication, therapy, treatment and other required needs of the mentally challenged. Apparently, the treatment of the mentally challenged is becoming full circle, to where the problem was first addressed when their mistreatment in the prisons was the driving force. From mistreatment in prisons we went to institutions dedicated to the proper, sensible and compassionate treatment of the mentally challenged providing them with a combination of drug treatment, individual or group therapy, counselling and separation from the general public for mutual protection we went to out patient clinics with a high reliance on drug treatments with minimal counselling and supervision which has now led society back to incarcerating far too many people with mental illness. There is also the problem of the increased criminal behavior caused by placing these mentally challenged patients into the general public. Additionally, too many of the mentally challenged patients placed into a self-care environment where they are responsible for assuring they take their medications as prescribed results in medications not being taken or being used improperly. Further, patients can often forget or skip their sessions for treatment and therapy and if they skip too many in succession, these outpatient treatment clinics being strapped for funds will often simply drop the patient from their schedules as their funding is dependent on patients treated and every missed session results in lost revenues. This allows for too many patients falling through the cracks and this eventually results in tragedy either for the individual mentally challenged individual or to society when they commit a violent act.

 

Dr. Williams also linked to another article from the Wall Street Journal titled Fifty Years of Failing America’s Mentally Ill. This article takes in more statistics and failings of the system of outpatient treatment using community mental-health centers, or CMHC’s. The results of this new treatment system has been simply a tragedy which is thusfar continuing with little if anything being done. What would be preferable would be for the Federal Government to take the funds currently being spent on mental health directly for specific treatment systems and programs or specified in any way for treatment, housing, therapy, drugs or counselling and other treatments be repurposed as a block grant to the individual states to use as they feel is the most productive and best treatments for their mentally challenged individuals. The government might even consider partially paying for the construction, revitalization or refurbishing of institutions for the mentally ill who should be required to be kept in a whole treatment center where they are assured that their medications will be taken and they appear for their treatment sessions. Mentally ill patients who miss a set number of treatment sessions or are found to be skipping taking their medications should be reinstitutionalized for their own good and for the safety of the citizens as well. The state institutions were given a bad rap with their failings blown out of proportion in order to carry out the great experiment for the treatment of the mentally ill where placing them in the general public was to be the cure-all and end-all of mental illness. Well, the results of the grand experiment are in and have been fully examined and have been determined to be largely a failure. The experiment has cost us the health of many mental patients while also costing the public lives from homicides including over ten percent of the mass killings committed. These include the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and the Safeway food store shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords constituent meeting in Tucson, Arizona mass killings which took twenty-eight innocent lives including the shooter’s mother, twelve innocent lives and six respectively. These three shootings resulted in nearly fifty deaths and approaching one-hundred injuries which might have been avoided were there proper facilities in existence where people observed with mental challenges could be sent for observation and treatment and be kept for more treatment if so determined necessary. This would include families placing a troubled relative into treatment, police being able to bring before a court the need to place a troubled individual into such a facility for treatment, for a physician to advise for a patient be observed and treated if so determined, for courts to place somebody into an institution for determinations and treatment or for self-placement into such an institution for observation and treatment if necessary. The one item we can all be assured about is that the current system has some large holes through which treatments and societal safety are leaking forth and both the mentally challenged and the normative society are hurting from these problems. Perhaps it is time to turn everything back to the fifty states and allow each state to find their own particular solutions. Over time, some states will perform far better and others will fail catastrophically leading to the states desiring to perform better, they will have numerous proven solutions from which to choose. Eventually, the various fifty states will find a solution set from which a best system may soon emerge and over time, as new ideas and treatments present themselves, they will be tried in their many varied forms and ideas with the predictable range of results allowing each state to adopt that they find advantageous. Allowing the individual states to take their own paths in treating the mentally different, the potential for a near perfect set of policies and use of funds is far more likely to be found through fifty separate programs than in one directed from Washington D.C. Now all that need be achieved is getting Washington D.C. to agree to allow the states to be what they should be, the test laboratories of the numerous and varied approaches to a problem eventually seeking to optimize for the best results for the lowest cost.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 21, 2013

Why More Gun Laws Will Not Work

With two shootings on military installations in the news recently, the Major Nidal Malik Hasan trial and the Aaron Alexis shooting at the Navy Yard, some of the glaring deficiencies and misinformation which exist throughout the liberal mainstream media were exposed for all to witness. The worst of the offenders were at CNN where during the Piers Morgan coverage it was reported that the shooter had used an AR-15 shotgun, a firearm that does not exist. The mix-up probably resulted from the erroneous reporting that the shooter Aaron Alexis had used an AR-15 and the fact that he originally began his shooting spree utilizing a shotgun and the liberal mainstream media preoccupation with demonizing the AR-15 as the most evil and dangerous firearm ever produced. In a warped way, the erroneous reporting that an AR-15 was used when none was found at the scene simply served to display for all to see how the news sources have an agenda which they will go to any lengths to make every shooting a case of demonic possession where the presence of a firearm, especially the most demonic AR-15, drove a poor unfortunate over the edge pushing them into a murderous rage. What these two particular shootings have proven is how poorly the authorities, even the military who should be more proficient and knowledgeable, can miss even cases where the perpetrator ends up being somebody who should have set off alarms, warning that they should not be permitted anywhere near a firearm. Major Nidal Malik Hasan had given repeated instances of having taken an interest in Jihad and the Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis had numerous arrests and was disciplined numerous times while in the Naval Reserves. In both cases the authorities who should have easily caught at least some of the warning signs as there were more than enough to tip people off, but in both cases the authorities did not report or even make any records of obvious transgressions which would have prevented either perpetrator to have ever gotten to the point where they performed their murderous rampages. What these two particular shootings proved, as have many shootings over the years, is that had authorities actually done their jobs and made the proper reports when the signs of behavior problems were exhibited, then neither of these two murderous rampages would have gotten to the point where they endangered innocent people.

 

The politicians were quick, especially Ms. Pelosi, to start the call which rings out after every catastrophe for more laws against firearm ownership. The reality in both of these shootings on military installations is that if law enforcement and other public officials had performed their obligations to the public, otherwise known as their jobs, and completed and filed the appropriate paperwork instead of simply deciding that it was not that important and why ruin somebody’s life by making a permanent record, they ended up ruining many people’s lives that were taken or forever traumatically altered as a result of shootings committed by individuals who should never have been allowed to own firearms and had given overt signs that they were headed over the edge into violent rage shooting many innocents. The old adage that if only the authorities enforced the laws then there would be far less firearms violence as there are more than sufficient laws on the books to prevent the majority of shootings is quite true as these shootings prove. The other story line here is that if only we trusted our military personnel when on military grounds to carry their service weapon then such shootings would be ended before the numbers of people murdered mounted to such numbers as in these two cases. If we cannot trust out military personnel to have their service weapon with them while on duty and on military grounds, then who can we trust? A perfect example of allowing military personnel to carry their weapons at least on base being a preventive measure is proven in Israel where the majority of military personnel takes their service weapons with them everywhere, on base and into the public areas and this has proved to be a great deterrent to crime. The real crime of these two particular shootings was that they should have been easily preventable if only laws had been enforced, paperwork completed and filed with the appropriate departments and had the people assigned with doing the appropriate checks had actually taken their obligations to the public by performing their job requirements competently and completely.

 

There is one more item which people are not being informed of and it is simply because it does not serve the story line the press wishes to paint. Where you will likely hear that the number of firearm related deaths are approaching or even surpassing automobile related deaths, you probably missed the report that shows that firearm deaths have been falling on average for the past twenty years. Reporting that truth would not be as forceful to make you fearful of firearms as reporting that traffic deaths and firearm deaths are approaching parity, but the truth is that these statistics are good news for both statistics as vehicular fatalities have also been coming down as well. But as we know, in the news business if it bleeds it leads thus less fatalities is not news so they have to look for anything which they can imply that firearm fatalities are horrendous and a plague beyond your wildest fears. What is the most tragic side of firearm fatalities is where some of the worst statistics in firearm violence and fatalities are also the cities where they have the most stringent laws against firearm ownership and the average citizen can forget about procuring a concealed carry license despite the fact that these cities are the places where such a right is most needed. The shootings which have made the news recently out of Chicago have been newsworthy largely because they are taking place in President Obama’s home town and that supposedly makes these shootings more important than those in your or my town. Still, the deaths in Chicago are shocking and can be used to claim that as Chicago is our President’s hometown we should be ashamed that the gun violence is so rampant. The problem is that the violence in Chicago is actually predictable as it is in Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and way too many of our large cities which sit in blue states where gun ownership is treated as if it were a criminal offense which results in criminals being the ones with the guns. What the media will not tell you is that in the 1950s often children would bring their 22 rifle to school and place them in the coat room and take them when school let out and go hunt varmints such as squirrel, raccoon, rabbit or such for sport or even for dinner for some families. Of course such would be impossible today yet I would bet there are some who wish that schools still used flashcards to teach math tables and things were more like they were back in the day when spelling counted and you were required to get the correct answer to math problems.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

December 19, 2012

Gun Ban Whiplash Coming from Anti-Gun Progressives

The sides are being drawn and the arguments built with a generous assist from the Progressive mainstream-media along with anti-gun, anti-freedoms and anti-right NGOs with full intent of doing compromising damage to the United States Constitution. Even the spate of recent shootings in malls and movie theaters before the horrid event at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut had not raised the ire and expectations of the anti-Second Amendment forces to the point where they had visions of making the United States just like much of Europe with strident anti-gun laws in addition to the other areas where it appears that Europe is the perfect model that our government is attempting to emulate. But with the death by the most vile and heinous actions by a deranged and sick mind beyond the ability of most people to grasp and get their mind around is now going to be utilized by people who almost appear delirious in their anticipation of an opportunity to finally force their weapons restrictions on the rest of the country almost standing on the corpses of these children. They have not even been placed in the ground and their eulogies given and the mourning begun to wane and these vultures are already swooping in and taking advantage of the raw emotions of the moment. This is nothing more than a sick and revulsive opportunism using the tragedy of twenty innocent young children having been gunned down by a young man with deep mental problems who experienced something in his life that triggered his violent and hideous acts that resulted in the carnage of which we have seen too many photos and now our raw emotions are being leveraged to pass laws before reason and normalcy returns allowing for rational, logical, fully thought out debate to be possible. This is pure exploitation of the deaths of these children and is a more ghoulish perversion of the national mourning than polite and respectful people would ever consider allowing, but these people are willing to use any serious crisis and refuse to allow such to ever be wasted.

If people want to make sure catastrophes and crisis such as what happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School from ever reoccurring, banning guns will not suffice and it would be more effective and equally effective to outlaw severe anger. It would be more effective to incarcerate people who have a likelihood of turning violent due to mental disorders, especially if they go off their medications. But that is no longer an option thanks to many of the same Progressives who are now decrying this tragedy and demanding we ban firearms and have argued starting in 1955 and continuing to the present that the vast majority of those we consider to have some form of mental illness or instability would be better served if allowed to live within our society, as being isolated in an institution removed them from examples of normalcy, making their opportunity to find role models impossible. They brought psychiatrists, psychologists and numerous other “experts” to testify that closing the mental institutions and other such facilities and placing the patients from these places into society where they would find role models and have to learn to cope with reality. The legislators were told that the institutions only served to guarantee that those with mental illness and related difficulties if left in institutions would likely never be cured and thus we were doing a great disservice to these unfortunate people by leaving them in a situation that simply reinforced their conditions and disallowed for recovery. The idea was put forth that if we simply treated these people as outpatients they would continue to receive the same level of supervision and care as they would in a State institution and even in the majority of the private institutions and their living in the real world would restore them to a normalcy unavailable in the accursed institutions. As a result, since 1960 we have closed in excess of 80% of the houses and institutions which held the mentally ill, mentally challenged, and the absolute psychotics and others who suffered from some form of mental troubles of maladjustments.

Some of those who were returned to the real world and were just dropped into society ended up living with relatives or others who attended to them and made sure their medications were kept up and that they visited their counselor, psychiatrist, or other care professional on a regular basis and were present to note any changes in their behavior and could arrange additional care when necessary. Others ended up in less appropriate conditions including a number who ended up being homeless and off of their medications and fell through the cracks and were no longer monitored. This is currently getting worse as President Obama has the Department of Justice applying a strict interpretation of the  Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision forcing states to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to move even more patients from being institutionalized into outpatient treatment programs. Needless to say, not just allowing but forcing the deinstitutionalization of people with mental disabilities and the placement of them into the society in an attempt to give them a more encouraging setting that would allow for easing their transition into societal normalized lives will have some failures which can have disastrous consequences. But woe be the anti-firearms proponents to even mention that this could possibly be a contributing factor. It is not the troubled individual who is the problem to these fanatics; it is a half-pound of metal formed, cast, bored and machined without a brain or any compulsions of its own that grabs these mentally unbalanced people and drags them into a target rich environment and makes them shoot people randomly and even possibly repeatedly.

The final item is the locations that these shooting take place. They happen in schools, movie theaters, malls, and other places where absolutely nobody except officials of the state, sometimes referred to as police, are permitted to have a firearm on their person. These bans include even those who are licensed by the state to carry a concealed firearm in public and force them to become as unarmed as everybody else who decides to make use of these premises. For reasons that escape my limited abilities in logic; I have never ever heard of one of these shootings taking place at a gun store or a gun range. I wonder why that is?

Beyond the Cusp

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