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Missing the Point About Aurora
Townhall.com ^ | July 24, 2012 | Mona Charen

Posted on 07/24/2012 7:11:15 AM PDT by Kaslin

Public discussion and debate about the Aurora, Colo., horror has missed the point. With numbing predictability, liberal opinion leaders in the press have focused on gun laws as the potential solution for such atrocities, while conservatives have responded that maniacs will find ways to kill people and therefore, nothing can be done about rampage shootings. Others have speculated that our excessively violent entertainments are tipping borderline types into spasms of real violence.

I'm no fan of degraded entertainment, yet I suspect that saturation media coverage of these events is probably more culpable. But surely a more fruitful avenue of inquiry concerns our utterly dysfunctional mental health system. We don't know much about the killer in Colorado yet, but in many cases of rampage shootings, family members, colleagues or teachers saw signs of trouble before the eruption of violence. Family reports of disturbing behavior are often not enough because too many state laws require that a person be "imminently dangerous" before he can be involuntarily committed -- even for a short time. Thus, we have failed utterly to protect those in dire need of treatment and also placed society at increased risk from the minority of mentally ill people who are dangerous.

For years, mental health authorities assured us that the mentally ill were no more dangerous than the average person. That's true of most, but not all. As Dr. E. Fuller Torrey documents in his essential book, "The Insanity Offense," rates of violence among the untreated mentally ill are significantly higher than among the general population and are also much higher than among those receiving medication. Between 5 and 10 percent of the untreated seriously mentally ill will commit violent crimes in any given year, accounting for at least 5 percent of homicides in the United States (a huge percentage in a nation of more than 300 million). For rampage crimes, such as the Aurora attack, the percentage of mentally ill perpetrators is much greater, as high as 50 percent.

Since the 1960s, when deinstitutionalization became intellectually fashionable and fiscally alluring to states looking to save money, the mentally ill have been dumped onto the streets. Today 95 percent of the in-patient beds that were available for psychiatric patients in 1955 are gone. The Treatment Advocacy Center explains that, "The consequences of the severe shortage of public psychiatric beds include increased homelessness; the incarceration of mentally ill individuals in jails and prisons; emergency rooms being overrun with patients waiting for a psychiatric bed; and an increase in violent behavior, including homicides, in communities across the nation." Imagine if we treated the mentally retarded this way.

In many cases of mental illness, a belief that one is not in need of treatment is part of the sickness. Yet most studies show that the majority of those who are medicated against their wishes retroactively approve and believe it should be done again if necessary. In New York, 62 percent reported that being ordered by a court into treatment was a good thing for them.

Additionally, a number of avenues are available to ensure that the mentally ill continue to take their medicines once discharged. Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and other public benefits can be tied to compliance. As in the case of tuberculosis, patients can be required, on pain of jail or loss of benefits, to take their medicines in the presence of a health professional.

According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, 42 states have adopted Assisted Outpatient Treatment, or AOT, programs, but only a minority uses them. AOTs require that patients comply with their treatment regimens or risk losing their housing and the right to live in the community. In New York, only 34 percent of patients regularly took their medicine before the AOT was implemented. Afterwards, 69 percent did so, resulting in a marked decline in hospital admissions. Other states have found that AOTs also reduced homelessness and the risk of being victimized among the mentally ill. In North Carolina, the use of AOTs also resulted in a decline in arrests from 45 percent to 12 percent in one year.

For the most dangerous mentally ill, estimated to number about 40,000 nationwide, a red-flag alert system could be adopted that would give mental health professionals, police and firearms dealers warning. With the proper safeguards, such a system would permit families of the mentally ill to get help for their relatives, as well as provide warnings to society.

There are partial solutions to atrocities like that in Colorado, but they require abandoning the extreme civil libertarian approach that has marked the treatment -- or mistreatment -- of the mentally ill for the past half-century.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; US: Colorado
KEYWORDS: aurorashooting; coloradoshooting; guncontrol; secondamendment

1 posted on 07/24/2012 7:11:23 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Question 1) Was James Holmes known to be mentally ill?
Question 2) Was James Holmes taking medication for mental illness?
Question 3) Were there red flags that should have indicated to friends and family that Holmes was a time bomb, ready to go off?

Question 4) If none of these things are true, then why are we having this conversation? Political agenda? Does everything have to be fodder for additional federal intervention?


2 posted on 07/24/2012 7:18:20 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Roger Taney? Not a bad Chief Justice. John Roberts? A really awful Chief Justice.)
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To: Kaslin

Mona says that better mental health medical practice will fix mass killings???

She is one naive lady.

Unleashing our psychiatrists, psychologists, and our social workers on the nation is....Well, it’s exactly what has been done.

When the defense has its psych and the prosecution has its psych, and they consistently say opposite things, then we realize this is a field that it pretty much at odds with itself.


3 posted on 07/24/2012 7:21:35 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for their victory!)
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To: ClearCase_guy
Does everything have to be fodder for additional federal intervention?

How about just a tad more fodder, but this time for liberty intervention?

Question 5) Did James have any reason to fear being shot back at while in the act of his massacre?

4 posted on 07/24/2012 7:23:51 AM PDT by C210N ("ask not what the candidate can do for you, ask what you can do for the candidate" (Breitbart, 2012))
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To: Kaslin

Last summer in Jackson Michigan a man beheaded an elderly neighbor because she was “emanating rays” at him. They found him wearing her clothes and holding a bag with her head in it.

It turned out that his family had repeatedly petitioned the court to lock him up for his own and public safety but the courts wouldn’t touch him.


5 posted on 07/24/2012 7:25:05 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: xzins

Unfortunately the psychological professions are almost exclusively the domain of the far left.


6 posted on 07/24/2012 7:27:46 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: ClearCase_guy
Does everything have to be fodder for additional federal intervention?

Of course it does. It might even work so well to flag and monitor people who have been treated for mental illness that we could extend that to include people who have seen a doctor for mild depression, or people who have simply acted a little unusual in a public venue, or hey, let's cover all the bases and just flag and monitor anyone who opposes the Democrat political agenda.

Mona Charen is the one who misses the point. The one about how easy it is to move from her supposedly simple solution to an effort to control the minds and acts of all citizens.

7 posted on 07/24/2012 7:28:16 AM PDT by newheart (At what point does policy become treason?)
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To: Kaslin

The point behind Aurora.. Gun Up America! Practice your tactics, luckily I have a husband who is with me ninety percent of the time. Two person tactics are much easier, be sure to plan for the event of one person unable to fire. I am sick of mass killings in “Gun Free Zones”. Big signs that say Gun Free clearly only disarm law- abiding folks and increase casualties in cases where insane people come to die in a dramatic way. That man came to die, it is most unfortunate he did not. (I say that knowing he will face his Final Judgement). Now, he will be protected, vehemently be the media, as a poster- child for “it wasn’t his fault”.
Gun Free = More Innocent Victims.


8 posted on 07/24/2012 7:35:11 AM PDT by momincombatboots (Back to West by G-d Virginia. 2016 starts today! Walker, Issa, Rubio,)
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To: newheart
It might even work so well to flag and monitor people who have been treated for mental illness that we could extend that to include people who have seen a doctor for mild depression, or people who have simply acted a little unusual in a public venue, or hey, let's cover all the bases and just flag and monitor anyone who opposes the Democrat political agenda.

Especially singled out for monitoring will be former military .... who knows, they might have PTSD (already happening).

9 posted on 07/24/2012 7:40:05 AM PDT by MissMagnolia (Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't. (M.Thatcher))
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To: Kaslin

What do you expect when even children carry around devices that can let them know and communicate and even fabricate, anything, at any time, to/from anywhere in the world.


10 posted on 07/24/2012 7:40:48 AM PDT by stuartcr ("When silence speaks, it speaks only to those that have already decided what they want to hear.")
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To: Kaslin

We and liberals have separate world views. Conservatives are generally Christians and as such believe that man is fallen and his only hope is Jesus Christ. Liberals believe man is basically good and unless he is corrupted by conservative talk show hosts or the site of hand guns then he cannot fall.


11 posted on 07/24/2012 7:44:18 AM PDT by Raycpa
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To: Raycpa

What about people that just believe man is man and things happen according to God’s plan?


12 posted on 07/24/2012 7:45:52 AM PDT by stuartcr ("When silence speaks, it speaks only to those that have already decided what they want to hear.")
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To: Kaslin
We don't treat the mentally ill in hospitals anymore, we treat them in prisons

http://community.nicic.gov/blogs/mentalhealth/archive/2011/01/28/more-mentally-ill-persons-are-in-jails-and-prisons-than-hospitals-a-survey-of-the-states.aspx

13 posted on 07/24/2012 7:49:13 AM PDT by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: cripplecreek
I shudder to think what looser re-education mental illness incarceration laws would produce in a 2nd Obama term.
14 posted on 07/24/2012 7:54:07 AM PDT by moovova (Ladies & Gentlemen...Pandora has left the box.)
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To: moovova

Mitt St Jesus isn’t going to make any difference on either.


15 posted on 07/24/2012 8:05:55 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: cripplecreek
the domain of the far left

For the most part that's true.

The medical field's research into the brain and dysfunctions of the brain has borne some fruit in terms of medicine and problems that has validity.

Where they go way off base is with the counseling side of the field. They throw together a hodge-podge of theory, research, and philosophy into justifications for whatever happens to be the pet worldview of whichever psych you happen to be talking to at the moment.

16 posted on 07/24/2012 8:29:18 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for their victory!)
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To: KosmicKitty

Interesting chart.


17 posted on 07/24/2012 9:04:55 AM PDT by samtheman (Obama. Mugabe. Chavez. (Obamugavez))
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To: Kaslin
I don't think the basic point of discussion here should really revolve around "institutionalization" as a mechanism for dealing with loony-tunes. The basic problem, as I see it, is that you give enormous leeway to a government to declare people mentally unfit and put them away without due process.

The better approach would be to go back the way they did things in places where government was either non-existent or was incapable of dealing with this sort of thing. Every society in human history had their own way of dealing with various assorted freaks and misfits ... and it usually wasn't very pretty.

18 posted on 07/24/2012 9:18:07 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested.")
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To: Kaslin

You have to ask one more question:
What Obama problem is this taking our focus away from?


19 posted on 07/24/2012 9:50:53 AM PDT by BuffaloJack (Repeal Obamacare, the CITIZENSHIP TAX)
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To: stuartcr
What about people that just believe man is man and things happen according to God’s plan?

Most people believe that man acts badly- war, crimes, pour grammer, etc. Of that group a large subset thinks man can become good and therefore learn to live in a world without war, crimes or tooth decay. Of that subset I generally see two divides, one that believes man can create a utopia and the other that believes man cannot create a utopia.

You raise an interesting question. Of the first grouping there may well be more groups in addition to "Man acts badly". There could be "man acts just as he was designed" or "mans actions are purely random events" or "man actions are neither good nor bad".

Given these additional starting categories, I still see two main sub groups for each of those types. People who believe man can create his own utopia and those who believe that its not possible for man to create his own utopia.

I will agree that there is a small number of other people who fall into other non-utopia subgroups including "those who care more about American Idol than man's future" as well as the much misunderstood minority group of zombies, and then there is the French.

20 posted on 07/24/2012 1:06:52 PM PDT by Raycpa
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To: Raycpa

Why is the utopia thing necessary? What about life just as it is?


21 posted on 07/24/2012 1:16:26 PM PDT by stuartcr ("When silence speaks, it speaks only to those that have already decided what they want to hear.")
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To: stuartcr
What about life just as it is?

Then that would be your utopia. By observation, its obvious to me that people do not want to live "just as it is". If this were not so we would not have politicians, kings, armies, investors, entrepreneurs, children, marriages etc.

Your desire of "just as it is" would become your version of a utopia. If this were the goal, we would have to deal with people who acted badly by stealing, cheating and causing loud noises.

22 posted on 07/24/2012 1:39:15 PM PDT by Raycpa
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To: Kaslin
The Insanity Offense
23 posted on 07/24/2012 5:03:41 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: Raycpa

Sounds like you’re saying reality is the same as the utopia you speak of?


24 posted on 07/25/2012 8:12:50 AM PDT by stuartcr ("When silence speaks, it speaks only to those that have already decided what they want to hear.")
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To: stuartcr

Not mine but yours. No reality is constant.


25 posted on 07/25/2012 2:27:31 PM PDT by Raycpa
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To: Raycpa

So what is real, is not always real?


26 posted on 07/26/2012 6:21:58 AM PDT by stuartcr ("When silence speaks, it speaks only to those that have already decided what they want to hear.")
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To: KosmicKitty

Yep. Counties and cities abdicated their responsibility to those who need to be institutionalized. They opened the doors, closed the facilities and have been suffering ever since. They find money for cronies and high speed rail systems, but not for the street people. It is a full on travesty.


27 posted on 08/03/2012 7:41:09 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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