Monday, January 03, 2005

Don't Neglect the Newspapers

Letters to the editor can be effective in planting the thought that the mental-health establishment's worldview is, to say the least, flawed. Here's an example that I had published last summer in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
I am puzzled by your June 4 story about moving “criminally acquitted patients” from facilities in Little Rock to facilities in Corning (“Judges get final say in patients’ transfers”). If they have been acquitted, why are they being moved anywhere? Then I learned that the Arkansas Partnership Program “has provided treatment to those acquitted of crimes because of mental disease or defect since…1995.” It goes on: “Most have…years of mental health problems.” Yet I was not reassured. For as Thomas Szasz points out, no one, including psychiatrists, has ever seen a mental disease, mental defect, or mental health problem. When people say they’ve seen those things, all they really mean is that they’ve seen bad behavior. But behavior, however bad, is behavior, not disease, and behavior has reasons, not causes (such as disease), even if the reasons are not readily apparent to observers. (Don’t bring up brain scans: they do not show causes of behavior. Correlation, even if it exists, is not causation.)

So when you report that people acquitted of rape, murder, and aggravated robbery have histories of mental health problems, all you’re saying is that these people have histories of bothering and harming other people. Why not just say that? And if that’s the case, why were they acquitted and why are they locked in a “mental health facility”? They belong in prison. We can't excuse people of responsibility for their crimes, then wonder what happened to self-responsibility.


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