Blaming the mentally ill for violence is bad public policy as well as just plain misguided

Another repost of an article that talks sense from the last time we had a tragic shooting. The aftermath of these things are always horrifying in a completely other way as “normal” people completely lose all sense of reality and terror starts reigning supreme, leading to another sort of dangerousness, more insidious than what triggered it.

Commentary on the distinct lack of connection between the amount of violence in this country and mental illness from Miller-McCune By Emily Badger:

Obsessing over the role mental illness played in the Gabrielle Giffords shooting avoids the larger issue of gun violence, argues the former head of the American Psychiatric Association…. (Giving so much attention to the mentally ill distracts us from the much larger problem of gun violence and further stigmatizes the mentally ill who are rarely responsible for it.)

The best data Appelbaum has found, which dates to the late 1980s and early ’90s, also suggests that, at most, 3-5 percent of violent acts in the U.S. are attributable to serious mental illnesses as a risk factor — and most of those acts don’t involve guns. More recent studies in England and Sweden suggest that number for violent acts may be as low as 1-2 percent.

“To say that another way, if no one with a mental illness committed a violent act, we would still have 95-97 percent of the baseline level of violence,” Appelbaum said. “However you cut it, it looks as though we’re just talking about the tip of the iceberg in terms of problems of violence in our society, which raises the quite reasonable question as to why we’re so focused on the mentally ill?”

Not only is that focus a distraction, he adds, but it comes with the significant downside of further stigmatizing people with mental illness and confusing the public as to the notion that mental illness is a significant cause of violence in this country.

“To take an approach which has substantial costs — the states are spending a lot of money on these databases — and implement it without any evidence suggesting that it’s likely to be effective, and in fact a good deal of inferential reason to believe that it’s not likely to be effective,” Appelbaum said, “is simply not good public policy.” read the rest of the article here

In case you missed it look here for a piece by Glenn Greenwald on why forced commitment is not a good idea as well.

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Below are links to a few articles on gun violence and psychiatry from this site. Yes, they’re pretty clearly connected but we live in a world in which it’s members are encouraged to keep their heads up a small, dark, tight canal in the bottom half of the body.

⬤  Study shows 31 prescription drugs (mostly psychiatric) associated with reports of violence towards others

⬤  The pharmaceutical industry and the fight against gun control

⬤  Medicated America

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*it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care.  Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such.

See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page. 

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AND yes, I could use some compensation for the many 100s of hours I’ve worked with folks  and on this site over the years. Working like we do and not getting any sort of compensation that I might live more comfortably in the face of continued challenges continues to teach us what we’ve learned from psychiatry. We must not be worth it. Let’s change that patterning. If I helped you or a loved one out, please help me back now. thank you.

****We could  use some financial support at the moment! You know, for things like the mortgage so that we can maintain a roof over our heads. Yup. I do this all for no other compensation than  what the readers want to offer in support. Thank you!****

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page. 

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters