Fearmongering toward the Mentally Ill is not a Solution to a Broken System

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Rich Rifkin’s column on mental illness last week published in the Davis Enterprise, spawned an unusual amount of anger and backlash. This is not the first time that Mr. Rifkin has provoked this sort of response. However, I believe his writing suffers from some fatal fallacies that require a lengthy response. An examination of the complaints–three letters to the editor and a number of emails to myself shows that there are two basic problems with Mr. Rifkin’s column. First, a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of mental illness. And second, the use of insulting and demeaning jargon to describe mental illness.

The substance of Mr. Rifkin’s column begins on solid ground but begins to devolve in the middle when it comes to the crux of his argument. He asks:

“Why was it that Cho was allowed to walk around freely after a court determined he was dangerous? Why didn’t the authorities in Virginia put him in a mental hospital where he could be treated by psychiatrists?

Crazy people are not responsible for their behavior. The fault lies with the rest of us who treat the mentally ill as if they are normal adults who can freely make choices for themselves.

We should not only keep madmen from purchasing, we shouldn’t let them walk the streets without supervision.”

The problem he suggests goes back to deinstitutionalization of the 1960s. The problem with institutionalization was that it categorized people according to assumed characteristics and our limited understanding both for mental illness and how to best treat it. Moreover there have been increasing breakthroughs with medication that have allowed a number of previously institutionalized individuals to live mostly normal lives.

Furthermore, Mr. Rifkin is correct to point out flaws in the mental illness system as many of the individuals who wrote to the Davis Enterprise made quite clear.

Mr. Rifkin’s opinion aside, he then supports his opinion by making sweeping assertions that are backward in terms of both causation and induction. In short, he commits a fundamental fallacy in his reasoning.

“Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics. It largely has put them out on the streets, where many become homeless and others wind up in prisons.

His evidence?

The Department of Justice estimates that one in six inmates in the United States is mentally ill.

The National Resource and Training Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness has found that 20 to 25 percent of homeless people in America suffer from serious mental disorders.”

What he has cited is evidence that a sizable but still minority percentage of individuals who are in jail and homeless suffer from mental illness. While that may be true, the inverse is not necessarily true–that a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or jail. The reasoning becomes flawed because he views the phenomena through the outcome of a specific deterministic behavioral feature rather than by examining the entire population of those who suffer from mental illness to determine whether they end up in jail or on the streets. In short, he commits what social scientists would call the problem of selecting on the dependent variable (the outcome) rather than the independent variable (a cause). He has reversed causation in his analysis by undertaking his reasoning in this manner.

What the letters to the editor cite are the statistics that demonstrate that those who are mentally ill are rarely either dangerous or criminals. As one writer suggests:

“Fewer than one in 500 people with significant mental illness display violent behavior. “

As a NAMI-Yolo member suggests in a letter to the Davis Enterprise Tuesday:

“Most people who suffer from serious mental illness hurt themselves or become victims of crime. They lose jobs, family and friends. Very few become violent like Cho. Locked facilities are not a permanent solution. Medical parity, community support and education of the public about the biological causes of these illnesses and treatment that works is the answer.”

So it may be true that a sizable population in prisons suffer from mental illness that does not mean that most mentally ill people are dangerous. This is very poorly constructed logic on the part of Mr. Rifkin. And he uses this leap in logic to justify his very draconian policy approach.

“Many mental disorders are treatable. If a patient can function in society under medication, he should be allowed to do so. But, at the same time, he shouldn’t be treated like a regular adult. He should be kept under the supervision of mental health professionals for the rest of his life. That is for the good of the patient and society.”

Thus even for people who show no signs of actually being dangerous, they “shouldn’t be treated like a regular” adult.

The final point which I almost do not want to bring up because it will strike some as political correctness, but his use of language is both inappropriate, insulting, and ultimately counterproductive.

Crazy people are not responsible for their behavior.”

“Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics.”

Such jargons indicate a prejudicial mindset that Rifkin in other writing so deplores. Why does he choose such language? Does he think about mentally ill people as somehow being less than full people? He certainly wants to throw away their rights without the due process of law and without much more than prejudicial evidence to back it up. Perhaps it is easier to do that after de-humanizing them by providing such dismissive labels to describe people who suffer from mental illness.

Everyone involved in this unfortunate incident realizes that our social services system has failed many individuals who suffer from mental illness. There are fundamental changes that need to occur in order to better diagnose and get help for those in need. What we do not need however is fearmongering and bigotry towards those who suffer from mental illness, because it is the last thing they need. Most of these people are no threat to anyone and are desperately in need of good quality care so that they can live as normal a quality of life as possible.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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116 thoughts on “Fearmongering toward the Mentally Ill is not a Solution to a Broken System”

  1. Richard

    this is just typical of Rifkin, his compadre, Dunning, and the Enterprise generally

    classic provincial Davis snarky superiority, and the use of rhetoric designed to inflame people against a vulnerable population of people

    curious that you underemphasized the elitism here, people like Rifkin know best and mentally disordered people should be dealt with as he prescribes

    more substantively, though, Rifkin, and some of the letter writers, fail to understand one of the basic reasons why the mentally disordered people who do find themselves in the criminal justice system end up there

    from my experience, some mentally disordered people have serious impulse control problems, and find themselves in situations with insufficient care and treatment, where they eventually act out, treatment that they, and their families, would be perfectly willing to accept it it were provided

    furthermore, Rifkin plays upon the misunderstanding that mentally disordered people cannot be held involuntarily if they become a danger to themselves or others

    this is manifestly untrue, I used to serve as a hearing officer for 5250 hearings in Sacramento County, where I decided if a mentally disordered patient could be held for up to two weeks involuntarily as a danger to themselves or others

    furthermore, mentally disordered patients can also be administered medication against their will in these situations as well, again, after a hearing

    it’s called due process, in other words, and there is no reason why Rifkin is entitled to it, and mentally disordered people are not

    finally, what I discovered as a result of this experience is that many of these patients, as I have already mentioned, suffered from the lack of care after the expiration of their involuntary commitment, after being held for 17 days total (3 on the 5150 hold and 14 on the 5250 hold, and, in some instances, 90 more days) in a county facility, they were then put out on the street with inadequate care and supervision, which most would have accepted, because there was no funding for such programs

    how did I discover this? because the patients would be recycled through the emergency involuntary care facilities again and again, 17 days, out, back in the facility a couple of months later, 17 days, out . . you get the idea

    –Richard Estes

  2. Richard

    this is just typical of Rifkin, his compadre, Dunning, and the Enterprise generally

    classic provincial Davis snarky superiority, and the use of rhetoric designed to inflame people against a vulnerable population of people

    curious that you underemphasized the elitism here, people like Rifkin know best and mentally disordered people should be dealt with as he prescribes

    more substantively, though, Rifkin, and some of the letter writers, fail to understand one of the basic reasons why the mentally disordered people who do find themselves in the criminal justice system end up there

    from my experience, some mentally disordered people have serious impulse control problems, and find themselves in situations with insufficient care and treatment, where they eventually act out, treatment that they, and their families, would be perfectly willing to accept it it were provided

    furthermore, Rifkin plays upon the misunderstanding that mentally disordered people cannot be held involuntarily if they become a danger to themselves or others

    this is manifestly untrue, I used to serve as a hearing officer for 5250 hearings in Sacramento County, where I decided if a mentally disordered patient could be held for up to two weeks involuntarily as a danger to themselves or others

    furthermore, mentally disordered patients can also be administered medication against their will in these situations as well, again, after a hearing

    it’s called due process, in other words, and there is no reason why Rifkin is entitled to it, and mentally disordered people are not

    finally, what I discovered as a result of this experience is that many of these patients, as I have already mentioned, suffered from the lack of care after the expiration of their involuntary commitment, after being held for 17 days total (3 on the 5150 hold and 14 on the 5250 hold, and, in some instances, 90 more days) in a county facility, they were then put out on the street with inadequate care and supervision, which most would have accepted, because there was no funding for such programs

    how did I discover this? because the patients would be recycled through the emergency involuntary care facilities again and again, 17 days, out, back in the facility a couple of months later, 17 days, out . . you get the idea

    –Richard Estes

  3. Richard

    this is just typical of Rifkin, his compadre, Dunning, and the Enterprise generally

    classic provincial Davis snarky superiority, and the use of rhetoric designed to inflame people against a vulnerable population of people

    curious that you underemphasized the elitism here, people like Rifkin know best and mentally disordered people should be dealt with as he prescribes

    more substantively, though, Rifkin, and some of the letter writers, fail to understand one of the basic reasons why the mentally disordered people who do find themselves in the criminal justice system end up there

    from my experience, some mentally disordered people have serious impulse control problems, and find themselves in situations with insufficient care and treatment, where they eventually act out, treatment that they, and their families, would be perfectly willing to accept it it were provided

    furthermore, Rifkin plays upon the misunderstanding that mentally disordered people cannot be held involuntarily if they become a danger to themselves or others

    this is manifestly untrue, I used to serve as a hearing officer for 5250 hearings in Sacramento County, where I decided if a mentally disordered patient could be held for up to two weeks involuntarily as a danger to themselves or others

    furthermore, mentally disordered patients can also be administered medication against their will in these situations as well, again, after a hearing

    it’s called due process, in other words, and there is no reason why Rifkin is entitled to it, and mentally disordered people are not

    finally, what I discovered as a result of this experience is that many of these patients, as I have already mentioned, suffered from the lack of care after the expiration of their involuntary commitment, after being held for 17 days total (3 on the 5150 hold and 14 on the 5250 hold, and, in some instances, 90 more days) in a county facility, they were then put out on the street with inadequate care and supervision, which most would have accepted, because there was no funding for such programs

    how did I discover this? because the patients would be recycled through the emergency involuntary care facilities again and again, 17 days, out, back in the facility a couple of months later, 17 days, out . . you get the idea

    –Richard Estes

  4. Richard

    this is just typical of Rifkin, his compadre, Dunning, and the Enterprise generally

    classic provincial Davis snarky superiority, and the use of rhetoric designed to inflame people against a vulnerable population of people

    curious that you underemphasized the elitism here, people like Rifkin know best and mentally disordered people should be dealt with as he prescribes

    more substantively, though, Rifkin, and some of the letter writers, fail to understand one of the basic reasons why the mentally disordered people who do find themselves in the criminal justice system end up there

    from my experience, some mentally disordered people have serious impulse control problems, and find themselves in situations with insufficient care and treatment, where they eventually act out, treatment that they, and their families, would be perfectly willing to accept it it were provided

    furthermore, Rifkin plays upon the misunderstanding that mentally disordered people cannot be held involuntarily if they become a danger to themselves or others

    this is manifestly untrue, I used to serve as a hearing officer for 5250 hearings in Sacramento County, where I decided if a mentally disordered patient could be held for up to two weeks involuntarily as a danger to themselves or others

    furthermore, mentally disordered patients can also be administered medication against their will in these situations as well, again, after a hearing

    it’s called due process, in other words, and there is no reason why Rifkin is entitled to it, and mentally disordered people are not

    finally, what I discovered as a result of this experience is that many of these patients, as I have already mentioned, suffered from the lack of care after the expiration of their involuntary commitment, after being held for 17 days total (3 on the 5150 hold and 14 on the 5250 hold, and, in some instances, 90 more days) in a county facility, they were then put out on the street with inadequate care and supervision, which most would have accepted, because there was no funding for such programs

    how did I discover this? because the patients would be recycled through the emergency involuntary care facilities again and again, 17 days, out, back in the facility a couple of months later, 17 days, out . . you get the idea

    –Richard Estes

  5. Sharla

    Mental Illness needs to be taken seriously, but appropriately.

    There are individuals here in Davis, one in particular, that fits the Cho’s profile – stalking and harrassment of women, threats of violence to themselves and others, ignoring explicit orders by the Court, etc. The concern is that nothing seems to happen to control their anti-social behaviour, until they go way over the edge and do actual physical harm. All the signs that this will eventually happen is there.

    However, most, close to all, people who I know who struggle with mental illness do not match this profile, but are struggling with other types of mental illness, but they obey laws or try to, hold down jobs or try to, have families or not. They are in their own quiet hell. Isolation and separation from family and community support would be devastating to these individuals and would not make the community any more secure. Compassion is plays a huge factor in helping these people. Fear has no place here.

  6. Sharla

    Mental Illness needs to be taken seriously, but appropriately.

    There are individuals here in Davis, one in particular, that fits the Cho’s profile – stalking and harrassment of women, threats of violence to themselves and others, ignoring explicit orders by the Court, etc. The concern is that nothing seems to happen to control their anti-social behaviour, until they go way over the edge and do actual physical harm. All the signs that this will eventually happen is there.

    However, most, close to all, people who I know who struggle with mental illness do not match this profile, but are struggling with other types of mental illness, but they obey laws or try to, hold down jobs or try to, have families or not. They are in their own quiet hell. Isolation and separation from family and community support would be devastating to these individuals and would not make the community any more secure. Compassion is plays a huge factor in helping these people. Fear has no place here.

  7. Sharla

    Mental Illness needs to be taken seriously, but appropriately.

    There are individuals here in Davis, one in particular, that fits the Cho’s profile – stalking and harrassment of women, threats of violence to themselves and others, ignoring explicit orders by the Court, etc. The concern is that nothing seems to happen to control their anti-social behaviour, until they go way over the edge and do actual physical harm. All the signs that this will eventually happen is there.

    However, most, close to all, people who I know who struggle with mental illness do not match this profile, but are struggling with other types of mental illness, but they obey laws or try to, hold down jobs or try to, have families or not. They are in their own quiet hell. Isolation and separation from family and community support would be devastating to these individuals and would not make the community any more secure. Compassion is plays a huge factor in helping these people. Fear has no place here.

  8. Sharla

    Mental Illness needs to be taken seriously, but appropriately.

    There are individuals here in Davis, one in particular, that fits the Cho’s profile – stalking and harrassment of women, threats of violence to themselves and others, ignoring explicit orders by the Court, etc. The concern is that nothing seems to happen to control their anti-social behaviour, until they go way over the edge and do actual physical harm. All the signs that this will eventually happen is there.

    However, most, close to all, people who I know who struggle with mental illness do not match this profile, but are struggling with other types of mental illness, but they obey laws or try to, hold down jobs or try to, have families or not. They are in their own quiet hell. Isolation and separation from family and community support would be devastating to these individuals and would not make the community any more secure. Compassion is plays a huge factor in helping these people. Fear has no place here.

  9. Anonymous

    Stuff like this in the Enterprise is an embarrassment to our community. Rifkin can’t help himself(whose keeping a clinical eye on HIM?) but Debbie Davis should know better than to use such knowingly provocative material to “stimulate” its bored Enterprise readership in lieu of informative and interesting journalism.

  10. Anonymous

    Stuff like this in the Enterprise is an embarrassment to our community. Rifkin can’t help himself(whose keeping a clinical eye on HIM?) but Debbie Davis should know better than to use such knowingly provocative material to “stimulate” its bored Enterprise readership in lieu of informative and interesting journalism.

  11. Anonymous

    Stuff like this in the Enterprise is an embarrassment to our community. Rifkin can’t help himself(whose keeping a clinical eye on HIM?) but Debbie Davis should know better than to use such knowingly provocative material to “stimulate” its bored Enterprise readership in lieu of informative and interesting journalism.

  12. Anonymous

    Stuff like this in the Enterprise is an embarrassment to our community. Rifkin can’t help himself(whose keeping a clinical eye on HIM?) but Debbie Davis should know better than to use such knowingly provocative material to “stimulate” its bored Enterprise readership in lieu of informative and interesting journalism.

  13. Anonymous

    Yet one more reason why the Enterprise’s circulation is relatively small compared to the overall population of Davis . . . it’s not called “The Emptyprise” for nothing . . .

  14. Anonymous

    Yet one more reason why the Enterprise’s circulation is relatively small compared to the overall population of Davis . . . it’s not called “The Emptyprise” for nothing . . .

  15. Anonymous

    Yet one more reason why the Enterprise’s circulation is relatively small compared to the overall population of Davis . . . it’s not called “The Emptyprise” for nothing . . .

  16. Anonymous

    Yet one more reason why the Enterprise’s circulation is relatively small compared to the overall population of Davis . . . it’s not called “The Emptyprise” for nothing . . .

  17. Anonymous

    Rifkins column actually reveals what Debbie Davis thinks about those who suffer from mental illness.

    The fact that she allows a columnist to write such an ignorant column that misleads readers and feeds into the stereotypes speaks volumes.

    I’m glad we have The Vanguard.

  18. Anonymous

    Rifkins column actually reveals what Debbie Davis thinks about those who suffer from mental illness.

    The fact that she allows a columnist to write such an ignorant column that misleads readers and feeds into the stereotypes speaks volumes.

    I’m glad we have The Vanguard.

  19. Anonymous

    Rifkins column actually reveals what Debbie Davis thinks about those who suffer from mental illness.

    The fact that she allows a columnist to write such an ignorant column that misleads readers and feeds into the stereotypes speaks volumes.

    I’m glad we have The Vanguard.

  20. Anonymous

    Rifkins column actually reveals what Debbie Davis thinks about those who suffer from mental illness.

    The fact that she allows a columnist to write such an ignorant column that misleads readers and feeds into the stereotypes speaks volumes.

    I’m glad we have The Vanguard.

  21. Rich Rifkin

    David,

    Unfortunately, I was not able to respond to your attack on my recent column more promptly, as I was away on business.

    Nevertheless, I will address point by point your attacks against me, as I have in letters to the many people who wrote me with their criticisms of my column on mental illness.

    You start with, “I believe his writing suffers from some fatal fallacies that require a lengthy response.”

    I’m very interested to know how I have misled my readers.

    You continue: “An examination of the complaints–three letters to the editor and a number of emails to myself shows that there are two basic problems with Mr. Rifkin’s column. First, a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of mental illness. And second, the use of insulting and demeaning jargon to describe mental illness.”

    I only have so much space to write my columns, and my personal knowledge about the nature of mental illness was not the issue, here. Nonetheless, it happens to be the case that due to the sufferings of two of my family members, one of whom I was very close to, I know quite a lot about ‘the nature of mental illness’ and even more about what families go through in these circumstances, when the system we now have fails them. Unless you have experienced how completely worthless our current system can be, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

    I will address my choice of words in a moment.

    Greenwald writes: “The problem with institutionalization was that it categorized people according to assumed characteristics and our limited understanding both for mental illness and how to best treat it. Moreover there have been increasing breakthroughs with medication that have allowed a number of previously institutionalized individuals to live mostly normal lives.”

    I’m not sure for which ‘fallacy’ you are attacking me here. Did I ever say that people who can ‘live mostly normal lives’ need to be institutionalized? I pointed out in my column specifically that ‘Many mental disorders are treatable. If a patient can function in society under medication, he should be allowed to do so.’

    You go on, “Mr. Rifkin is correct to point out flaws in the mental illness system as many of the individuals who wrote to the Davis Enterprise made quite clear.”

    I don’t think those letter writers made that clear. I believe that our system is flawed, when dealing with a mentally ill person who is a danger to himself or others. Not one of the Enterprise letter writers, or you, addressed this crucial problem.

    Without getting into the details of what went on in my family, you need to understand how our system can and does fail (as it did with Mr. Cho): my family member began suffering from schizophrenia and soon developed severe paranoia. He was treatable with medications, but he found that he couldn’t do his work (as a carpenter/homebuilder) when he was medicated. So often times, he would stop taking his meds. And off his meds, he became delusional and paranoid and violent and abusive. (At one point he owned a large arsenal of guns.) Because of our bias in favor of civil liberties over common sense, he could not be forced to take his medications. And so his mild schizophrenia developed into a severe case and his life was essentially destroyed.

    What could have been done for him? I suggest we should have a law which — when at least two qualified psychiatrists determine that a patient needs to be medicated in order to function safely in society — forces patients to check in with their psychiatrists at least once a week, much like parolees check in with parole officers, to prove that they are keeping up with their medications and not devolving into madness.

    Greenwald continues: “Mr. Rifkin’s opinion aside, he then supports his opinion by making sweeping assertions that are backward in terms of both causation and induction. In short, he commits a fundamental fallacy in his reasoning. What he has cited is evidence that a sizable but still minority percentage of individuals who are in jail and homeless suffer from mental illness. While that may be true, the inverse is not necessarily true–that a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or jail.”

    If there is a fallacy of argument going on here, it is with Mr. Greenwald.

    I never said that “a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or in jail.” Please, David, tell me where I ever said or implied that.

    What I did imply, though never said, was that a sizable percentage of people who in former times would have been institutionalized in mental hospitals are now in prisons or are homeless. Insofar as that population is a small subset of the total population with mental disorders, then of course it is true that most mentally ill people are not in prison or homeless.

    The man who charges me with making fallacious arguments while being fallacious himself continues:

    “The reasoning becomes flawed because he views the phenomena through the outcome of a specific deterministic behavioral feature rather than by examining the entire population of those who suffer from mental illness to determine whether they end up in jail or on the streets.”

    No, you just can’t seem to think straight. I didn’t say that “the entire population of those who suffer from mental illness” is apt to be homeless or in prison. You misinterpreted my words and then leaped to conclusions that are based on your mistaken assumptions. That is the very nature of fallacy, in case you don’t own a dictionary.

    Greenwald keeps up his attack: “What the letters to the editor cite are the statistics that demonstrate that those who are mentally ill are rarely either dangerous or criminals. As one writer suggests: ‘Fewer than one in 500 people with significant mental illness display violent behavior.’

    Nothing in what I wrote contradicts that.

    Greenwald goes on: “As a NAMI-Yolo member suggests in a letter to the Davis Enterprise Tuesday: ‘Most people who suffer from serious mental illness hurt themselves or become victims of crime.’

    I don’t know if the statistics bear that out. However, it jives with what I have personally observed. And it jives with what I wrote in my column about people who are determined to be a danger to themselves.

    Greenwald continues to quote Marilyn Moyle’s letter: ‘They lose jobs, family and friends. Very few become violent like Cho.’

    I completely agree with Ms. Moyle, here. I said absolutely nothing in my column which would contradict this. As I spoke above about my family member with schizophrenia, I should note that he is ‘lost’ to us. I have no idea where he is, now. Had we been able to force him to stay on his meds, much heartache and pain and trauma could have been avoided. He could have had a nice life.

    In fact, as one psychiatrist in my family told me, he could have had an adjustment made to his medications which would have avoided the terrible drowsiness side effects, thus enabling him to continue working, even when medicated.

    Ms. Moyle is further quoted by Greenwald: ‘Locked facilities are not a permanent solution.’

    I don’t think Ms. Moyle is right here. For patients who cannot function safely in society, locked facilities are a permanent solution. I never said that are needed for people who can function safely outside.

    In the Enterprise letter by Derrick Wydick, who tells me that he is a psychologist associated with Sacramento City College, Wydick writes, “Lets’ be practical – no one in a mental hospital gets quality treatment.”

    Well, Mr. Wydick, as I told you myself, this is just an ignorant statement. We actually do have some very good mental hospitals in this country. And for a person who refers to himself as a mental health professional, such ignorance is appalling.

    I have been called a bigot, a fearmonger, a hater, prejudiced, etc. But what is abundantly clear to me in reading these criticisms from the politically correct left is that they are operating under a severe prejudice against mental hospitals and to some extent, against psychiatry. If you assume that no one gets help in a mental hospital, then of course you would react angrily toward my suggestion that there are some patients who need to be locked up in them, at least at some times, if not permanently, and others who need to be under the permanent care of a psychiatrist.

    I am not unaware that there are some crappy mental hospitals, and that in part led to the deinstitutionalization of the 1960s. But most of them today are far better with better oversight; and a blanket condemnation of them by ‘mental health professionals’ is pathetic.

    Greenwald keeps attacking me: “So it may be true that a sizable population in prisons suffer from mental illness that does not mean that most mentally ill people are dangerous.”

    True. I never said or implied anywhere in my column “that most mentally ill people are dangerous.”

    However, you clearly have implied that you think I said that. It’s too bad that the facts are getting in the way of your attack against me.

    Greenwald goes on: “This is very poorly constructed logic on the part of Mr. Rifkin. And he uses this leap in logic to justify his very draconian policy approach.”

    Wait a minute: my ‘very poorly constructed logic’? What are you talking about? You make false assumptions and then say I lack logic?

    Second, what is my ‘very draconian approach’? I wrote, “If someone is dangerous, he needs to be locked up.’ Is that draconian? I never, ever suggested people who can function in society need to be locked up.

    Greenwald adds, “Thus even for people who show no signs of actually being dangerous, they “shouldn’t be treated like a regular” adult.

    If a person is truly mentally ill, he should not be treated like a regular adult. That doesn’t mean he should not be allowed to function freely in society, if he can do so safely. But it does mean that he should be under the care of a psychiatrist for the rest of his life (unless the mental illness is cured). That is obviously in the best interests of the patient, his family and society.

    What is so wrong is that many mental patients don’t make good judgments about the care that they need, due to their mental disorders. As such, they can get much sicker, and no one can legally stop them from this kind of downward spiral, often until they do something much worse happens.

    However, if they were permanently under the care of a psychiatrists, such patients would not be allowed to spiral downhill without care, intervention and treatment.

    It is flip and easy to say such a solution is ‘draconian.’ But the fact is that many people are suffering because we just allow mental patients to determine their own course, often to their detriment.

    Greenwald writes: “The final point which I almost do not want to bring up because it will strike some as political correctness, but his use of language is both inappropriate, insulting, and ultimately counterproductive: ‘Crazy people are not responsible for their behavior; Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics.’ Such jargons indicate a prejudicial mindset that Rifkin in other writing so deplores. Why does he choose such language? Does he think about mentally ill people as somehow being less than full people?”

    Yes, in some cases, such as with Cho, I think he was ‘less than full.’ As I say in my column, I don’t blame Cho for what happened in Blacksburg. I blame the rest of us, the sane people. He was ‘less than full.’ He could not control the illness that apparently took over his mind.

    To say that I am prejudiced against the very people I am trying to help is beyond stupid. It’s Greenwaldian. I am not a prejudiced or bigoted man. I am not a hatemonger, as others have said.

    Calling a mental hospital a ‘loony bin’ is just colloquial speech. If you look up this term in a decent dictionary, it will tell you it is simply slang. It’s not hateful. Calling someone like Cho a madman or crazy is calling a spade a spade. Of course Cho was a madman. When political correctness constrains you so severely, as it seems to constrain some people who wrote to The Enterprise and to Greenwald, that you cannot express the thought that Cho was crazy or a lunatic without getting offended, it is time for the far left-wing politically correct crowd to rethink their entire approach to language.

    Greenwald lays it on some more, “He certainly wants to throw away their rights without the due process of law and without much more than prejudicial evidence to back it up.”

    Where did I say I want ‘to throw away their rights without the due process of law?’

    I never really got into this in this column, how the system should work with the mentally ill. However, I do believe in ‘the due process of law.’ For a person to be locked up on any kind of ongoing basis, I believe that at least two qualified, court-appointed psychiatrists need to determine that the person is a danger to himself or others. (For a temporary hold, the evidence could be less.)

    For the vast majority of people suffering from ongoing mental disorders, I do believe that they need to legally be forced to see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. (For those without means, the taxpayers should foot this bill.) I don’t think such a plan would ‘throw away their rights.’

    Further, I have no idea where Greenwald gets this notion about my suggesting ‘prejudicial evidence.’

    Greenwald jabs on, “Perhaps it is easier to do that after de-humanizing them by providing such dismissive labels to describe people who suffer from mental illness.”

    I have not de-humanized anyone. You are suffering terribly from the left-wing version of political correctness. (There is a different, albeit just as insidious form, of right-wing p.c. I deplore them both.)

    Greenwald continues: “What we do not need however is fearmongering and bigotry towards those who suffer from mental illness, because it is the last thing they need.”

    Calling a crazy person crazy is not ‘fearmongering.’

    Greenwald finishes, “Most of these people are no threat to anyone and are desperately in need of good quality care so that they can live as normal a quality of life as possible.”

    Of course, that is just what I said in my column. Too bad that most of it was misunderstood by Mr. Greenwald, who seems to have been so caught up in his political correctness about colloquial speech that he missed my entire point.

  22. Rich Rifkin

    David,

    Unfortunately, I was not able to respond to your attack on my recent column more promptly, as I was away on business.

    Nevertheless, I will address point by point your attacks against me, as I have in letters to the many people who wrote me with their criticisms of my column on mental illness.

    You start with, “I believe his writing suffers from some fatal fallacies that require a lengthy response.”

    I’m very interested to know how I have misled my readers.

    You continue: “An examination of the complaints–three letters to the editor and a number of emails to myself shows that there are two basic problems with Mr. Rifkin’s column. First, a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of mental illness. And second, the use of insulting and demeaning jargon to describe mental illness.”

    I only have so much space to write my columns, and my personal knowledge about the nature of mental illness was not the issue, here. Nonetheless, it happens to be the case that due to the sufferings of two of my family members, one of whom I was very close to, I know quite a lot about ‘the nature of mental illness’ and even more about what families go through in these circumstances, when the system we now have fails them. Unless you have experienced how completely worthless our current system can be, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

    I will address my choice of words in a moment.

    Greenwald writes: “The problem with institutionalization was that it categorized people according to assumed characteristics and our limited understanding both for mental illness and how to best treat it. Moreover there have been increasing breakthroughs with medication that have allowed a number of previously institutionalized individuals to live mostly normal lives.”

    I’m not sure for which ‘fallacy’ you are attacking me here. Did I ever say that people who can ‘live mostly normal lives’ need to be institutionalized? I pointed out in my column specifically that ‘Many mental disorders are treatable. If a patient can function in society under medication, he should be allowed to do so.’

    You go on, “Mr. Rifkin is correct to point out flaws in the mental illness system as many of the individuals who wrote to the Davis Enterprise made quite clear.”

    I don’t think those letter writers made that clear. I believe that our system is flawed, when dealing with a mentally ill person who is a danger to himself or others. Not one of the Enterprise letter writers, or you, addressed this crucial problem.

    Without getting into the details of what went on in my family, you need to understand how our system can and does fail (as it did with Mr. Cho): my family member began suffering from schizophrenia and soon developed severe paranoia. He was treatable with medications, but he found that he couldn’t do his work (as a carpenter/homebuilder) when he was medicated. So often times, he would stop taking his meds. And off his meds, he became delusional and paranoid and violent and abusive. (At one point he owned a large arsenal of guns.) Because of our bias in favor of civil liberties over common sense, he could not be forced to take his medications. And so his mild schizophrenia developed into a severe case and his life was essentially destroyed.

    What could have been done for him? I suggest we should have a law which — when at least two qualified psychiatrists determine that a patient needs to be medicated in order to function safely in society — forces patients to check in with their psychiatrists at least once a week, much like parolees check in with parole officers, to prove that they are keeping up with their medications and not devolving into madness.

    Greenwald continues: “Mr. Rifkin’s opinion aside, he then supports his opinion by making sweeping assertions that are backward in terms of both causation and induction. In short, he commits a fundamental fallacy in his reasoning. What he has cited is evidence that a sizable but still minority percentage of individuals who are in jail and homeless suffer from mental illness. While that may be true, the inverse is not necessarily true–that a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or jail.”

    If there is a fallacy of argument going on here, it is with Mr. Greenwald.

    I never said that “a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or in jail.” Please, David, tell me where I ever said or implied that.

    What I did imply, though never said, was that a sizable percentage of people who in former times would have been institutionalized in mental hospitals are now in prisons or are homeless. Insofar as that population is a small subset of the total population with mental disorders, then of course it is true that most mentally ill people are not in prison or homeless.

    The man who charges me with making fallacious arguments while being fallacious himself continues:

    “The reasoning becomes flawed because he views the phenomena through the outcome of a specific deterministic behavioral feature rather than by examining the entire population of those who suffer from mental illness to determine whether they end up in jail or on the streets.”

    No, you just can’t seem to think straight. I didn’t say that “the entire population of those who suffer from mental illness” is apt to be homeless or in prison. You misinterpreted my words and then leaped to conclusions that are based on your mistaken assumptions. That is the very nature of fallacy, in case you don’t own a dictionary.

    Greenwald keeps up his attack: “What the letters to the editor cite are the statistics that demonstrate that those who are mentally ill are rarely either dangerous or criminals. As one writer suggests: ‘Fewer than one in 500 people with significant mental illness display violent behavior.’

    Nothing in what I wrote contradicts that.

    Greenwald goes on: “As a NAMI-Yolo member suggests in a letter to the Davis Enterprise Tuesday: ‘Most people who suffer from serious mental illness hurt themselves or become victims of crime.’

    I don’t know if the statistics bear that out. However, it jives with what I have personally observed. And it jives with what I wrote in my column about people who are determined to be a danger to themselves.

    Greenwald continues to quote Marilyn Moyle’s letter: ‘They lose jobs, family and friends. Very few become violent like Cho.’

    I completely agree with Ms. Moyle, here. I said absolutely nothing in my column which would contradict this. As I spoke above about my family member with schizophrenia, I should note that he is ‘lost’ to us. I have no idea where he is, now. Had we been able to force him to stay on his meds, much heartache and pain and trauma could have been avoided. He could have had a nice life.

    In fact, as one psychiatrist in my family told me, he could have had an adjustment made to his medications which would have avoided the terrible drowsiness side effects, thus enabling him to continue working, even when medicated.

    Ms. Moyle is further quoted by Greenwald: ‘Locked facilities are not a permanent solution.’

    I don’t think Ms. Moyle is right here. For patients who cannot function safely in society, locked facilities are a permanent solution. I never said that are needed for people who can function safely outside.

    In the Enterprise letter by Derrick Wydick, who tells me that he is a psychologist associated with Sacramento City College, Wydick writes, “Lets’ be practical – no one in a mental hospital gets quality treatment.”

    Well, Mr. Wydick, as I told you myself, this is just an ignorant statement. We actually do have some very good mental hospitals in this country. And for a person who refers to himself as a mental health professional, such ignorance is appalling.

    I have been called a bigot, a fearmonger, a hater, prejudiced, etc. But what is abundantly clear to me in reading these criticisms from the politically correct left is that they are operating under a severe prejudice against mental hospitals and to some extent, against psychiatry. If you assume that no one gets help in a mental hospital, then of course you would react angrily toward my suggestion that there are some patients who need to be locked up in them, at least at some times, if not permanently, and others who need to be under the permanent care of a psychiatrist.

    I am not unaware that there are some crappy mental hospitals, and that in part led to the deinstitutionalization of the 1960s. But most of them today are far better with better oversight; and a blanket condemnation of them by ‘mental health professionals’ is pathetic.

    Greenwald keeps attacking me: “So it may be true that a sizable population in prisons suffer from mental illness that does not mean that most mentally ill people are dangerous.”

    True. I never said or implied anywhere in my column “that most mentally ill people are dangerous.”

    However, you clearly have implied that you think I said that. It’s too bad that the facts are getting in the way of your attack against me.

    Greenwald goes on: “This is very poorly constructed logic on the part of Mr. Rifkin. And he uses this leap in logic to justify his very draconian policy approach.”

    Wait a minute: my ‘very poorly constructed logic’? What are you talking about? You make false assumptions and then say I lack logic?

    Second, what is my ‘very draconian approach’? I wrote, “If someone is dangerous, he needs to be locked up.’ Is that draconian? I never, ever suggested people who can function in society need to be locked up.

    Greenwald adds, “Thus even for people who show no signs of actually being dangerous, they “shouldn’t be treated like a regular” adult.

    If a person is truly mentally ill, he should not be treated like a regular adult. That doesn’t mean he should not be allowed to function freely in society, if he can do so safely. But it does mean that he should be under the care of a psychiatrist for the rest of his life (unless the mental illness is cured). That is obviously in the best interests of the patient, his family and society.

    What is so wrong is that many mental patients don’t make good judgments about the care that they need, due to their mental disorders. As such, they can get much sicker, and no one can legally stop them from this kind of downward spiral, often until they do something much worse happens.

    However, if they were permanently under the care of a psychiatrists, such patients would not be allowed to spiral downhill without care, intervention and treatment.

    It is flip and easy to say such a solution is ‘draconian.’ But the fact is that many people are suffering because we just allow mental patients to determine their own course, often to their detriment.

    Greenwald writes: “The final point which I almost do not want to bring up because it will strike some as political correctness, but his use of language is both inappropriate, insulting, and ultimately counterproductive: ‘Crazy people are not responsible for their behavior; Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics.’ Such jargons indicate a prejudicial mindset that Rifkin in other writing so deplores. Why does he choose such language? Does he think about mentally ill people as somehow being less than full people?”

    Yes, in some cases, such as with Cho, I think he was ‘less than full.’ As I say in my column, I don’t blame Cho for what happened in Blacksburg. I blame the rest of us, the sane people. He was ‘less than full.’ He could not control the illness that apparently took over his mind.

    To say that I am prejudiced against the very people I am trying to help is beyond stupid. It’s Greenwaldian. I am not a prejudiced or bigoted man. I am not a hatemonger, as others have said.

    Calling a mental hospital a ‘loony bin’ is just colloquial speech. If you look up this term in a decent dictionary, it will tell you it is simply slang. It’s not hateful. Calling someone like Cho a madman or crazy is calling a spade a spade. Of course Cho was a madman. When political correctness constrains you so severely, as it seems to constrain some people who wrote to The Enterprise and to Greenwald, that you cannot express the thought that Cho was crazy or a lunatic without getting offended, it is time for the far left-wing politically correct crowd to rethink their entire approach to language.

    Greenwald lays it on some more, “He certainly wants to throw away their rights without the due process of law and without much more than prejudicial evidence to back it up.”

    Where did I say I want ‘to throw away their rights without the due process of law?’

    I never really got into this in this column, how the system should work with the mentally ill. However, I do believe in ‘the due process of law.’ For a person to be locked up on any kind of ongoing basis, I believe that at least two qualified, court-appointed psychiatrists need to determine that the person is a danger to himself or others. (For a temporary hold, the evidence could be less.)

    For the vast majority of people suffering from ongoing mental disorders, I do believe that they need to legally be forced to see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. (For those without means, the taxpayers should foot this bill.) I don’t think such a plan would ‘throw away their rights.’

    Further, I have no idea where Greenwald gets this notion about my suggesting ‘prejudicial evidence.’

    Greenwald jabs on, “Perhaps it is easier to do that after de-humanizing them by providing such dismissive labels to describe people who suffer from mental illness.”

    I have not de-humanized anyone. You are suffering terribly from the left-wing version of political correctness. (There is a different, albeit just as insidious form, of right-wing p.c. I deplore them both.)

    Greenwald continues: “What we do not need however is fearmongering and bigotry towards those who suffer from mental illness, because it is the last thing they need.”

    Calling a crazy person crazy is not ‘fearmongering.’

    Greenwald finishes, “Most of these people are no threat to anyone and are desperately in need of good quality care so that they can live as normal a quality of life as possible.”

    Of course, that is just what I said in my column. Too bad that most of it was misunderstood by Mr. Greenwald, who seems to have been so caught up in his political correctness about colloquial speech that he missed my entire point.

  23. Rich Rifkin

    David,

    Unfortunately, I was not able to respond to your attack on my recent column more promptly, as I was away on business.

    Nevertheless, I will address point by point your attacks against me, as I have in letters to the many people who wrote me with their criticisms of my column on mental illness.

    You start with, “I believe his writing suffers from some fatal fallacies that require a lengthy response.”

    I’m very interested to know how I have misled my readers.

    You continue: “An examination of the complaints–three letters to the editor and a number of emails to myself shows that there are two basic problems with Mr. Rifkin’s column. First, a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of mental illness. And second, the use of insulting and demeaning jargon to describe mental illness.”

    I only have so much space to write my columns, and my personal knowledge about the nature of mental illness was not the issue, here. Nonetheless, it happens to be the case that due to the sufferings of two of my family members, one of whom I was very close to, I know quite a lot about ‘the nature of mental illness’ and even more about what families go through in these circumstances, when the system we now have fails them. Unless you have experienced how completely worthless our current system can be, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

    I will address my choice of words in a moment.

    Greenwald writes: “The problem with institutionalization was that it categorized people according to assumed characteristics and our limited understanding both for mental illness and how to best treat it. Moreover there have been increasing breakthroughs with medication that have allowed a number of previously institutionalized individuals to live mostly normal lives.”

    I’m not sure for which ‘fallacy’ you are attacking me here. Did I ever say that people who can ‘live mostly normal lives’ need to be institutionalized? I pointed out in my column specifically that ‘Many mental disorders are treatable. If a patient can function in society under medication, he should be allowed to do so.’

    You go on, “Mr. Rifkin is correct to point out flaws in the mental illness system as many of the individuals who wrote to the Davis Enterprise made quite clear.”

    I don’t think those letter writers made that clear. I believe that our system is flawed, when dealing with a mentally ill person who is a danger to himself or others. Not one of the Enterprise letter writers, or you, addressed this crucial problem.

    Without getting into the details of what went on in my family, you need to understand how our system can and does fail (as it did with Mr. Cho): my family member began suffering from schizophrenia and soon developed severe paranoia. He was treatable with medications, but he found that he couldn’t do his work (as a carpenter/homebuilder) when he was medicated. So often times, he would stop taking his meds. And off his meds, he became delusional and paranoid and violent and abusive. (At one point he owned a large arsenal of guns.) Because of our bias in favor of civil liberties over common sense, he could not be forced to take his medications. And so his mild schizophrenia developed into a severe case and his life was essentially destroyed.

    What could have been done for him? I suggest we should have a law which — when at least two qualified psychiatrists determine that a patient needs to be medicated in order to function safely in society — forces patients to check in with their psychiatrists at least once a week, much like parolees check in with parole officers, to prove that they are keeping up with their medications and not devolving into madness.

    Greenwald continues: “Mr. Rifkin’s opinion aside, he then supports his opinion by making sweeping assertions that are backward in terms of both causation and induction. In short, he commits a fundamental fallacy in his reasoning. What he has cited is evidence that a sizable but still minority percentage of individuals who are in jail and homeless suffer from mental illness. While that may be true, the inverse is not necessarily true–that a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or jail.”

    If there is a fallacy of argument going on here, it is with Mr. Greenwald.

    I never said that “a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or in jail.” Please, David, tell me where I ever said or implied that.

    What I did imply, though never said, was that a sizable percentage of people who in former times would have been institutionalized in mental hospitals are now in prisons or are homeless. Insofar as that population is a small subset of the total population with mental disorders, then of course it is true that most mentally ill people are not in prison or homeless.

    The man who charges me with making fallacious arguments while being fallacious himself continues:

    “The reasoning becomes flawed because he views the phenomena through the outcome of a specific deterministic behavioral feature rather than by examining the entire population of those who suffer from mental illness to determine whether they end up in jail or on the streets.”

    No, you just can’t seem to think straight. I didn’t say that “the entire population of those who suffer from mental illness” is apt to be homeless or in prison. You misinterpreted my words and then leaped to conclusions that are based on your mistaken assumptions. That is the very nature of fallacy, in case you don’t own a dictionary.

    Greenwald keeps up his attack: “What the letters to the editor cite are the statistics that demonstrate that those who are mentally ill are rarely either dangerous or criminals. As one writer suggests: ‘Fewer than one in 500 people with significant mental illness display violent behavior.’

    Nothing in what I wrote contradicts that.

    Greenwald goes on: “As a NAMI-Yolo member suggests in a letter to the Davis Enterprise Tuesday: ‘Most people who suffer from serious mental illness hurt themselves or become victims of crime.’

    I don’t know if the statistics bear that out. However, it jives with what I have personally observed. And it jives with what I wrote in my column about people who are determined to be a danger to themselves.

    Greenwald continues to quote Marilyn Moyle’s letter: ‘They lose jobs, family and friends. Very few become violent like Cho.’

    I completely agree with Ms. Moyle, here. I said absolutely nothing in my column which would contradict this. As I spoke above about my family member with schizophrenia, I should note that he is ‘lost’ to us. I have no idea where he is, now. Had we been able to force him to stay on his meds, much heartache and pain and trauma could have been avoided. He could have had a nice life.

    In fact, as one psychiatrist in my family told me, he could have had an adjustment made to his medications which would have avoided the terrible drowsiness side effects, thus enabling him to continue working, even when medicated.

    Ms. Moyle is further quoted by Greenwald: ‘Locked facilities are not a permanent solution.’

    I don’t think Ms. Moyle is right here. For patients who cannot function safely in society, locked facilities are a permanent solution. I never said that are needed for people who can function safely outside.

    In the Enterprise letter by Derrick Wydick, who tells me that he is a psychologist associated with Sacramento City College, Wydick writes, “Lets’ be practical – no one in a mental hospital gets quality treatment.”

    Well, Mr. Wydick, as I told you myself, this is just an ignorant statement. We actually do have some very good mental hospitals in this country. And for a person who refers to himself as a mental health professional, such ignorance is appalling.

    I have been called a bigot, a fearmonger, a hater, prejudiced, etc. But what is abundantly clear to me in reading these criticisms from the politically correct left is that they are operating under a severe prejudice against mental hospitals and to some extent, against psychiatry. If you assume that no one gets help in a mental hospital, then of course you would react angrily toward my suggestion that there are some patients who need to be locked up in them, at least at some times, if not permanently, and others who need to be under the permanent care of a psychiatrist.

    I am not unaware that there are some crappy mental hospitals, and that in part led to the deinstitutionalization of the 1960s. But most of them today are far better with better oversight; and a blanket condemnation of them by ‘mental health professionals’ is pathetic.

    Greenwald keeps attacking me: “So it may be true that a sizable population in prisons suffer from mental illness that does not mean that most mentally ill people are dangerous.”

    True. I never said or implied anywhere in my column “that most mentally ill people are dangerous.”

    However, you clearly have implied that you think I said that. It’s too bad that the facts are getting in the way of your attack against me.

    Greenwald goes on: “This is very poorly constructed logic on the part of Mr. Rifkin. And he uses this leap in logic to justify his very draconian policy approach.”

    Wait a minute: my ‘very poorly constructed logic’? What are you talking about? You make false assumptions and then say I lack logic?

    Second, what is my ‘very draconian approach’? I wrote, “If someone is dangerous, he needs to be locked up.’ Is that draconian? I never, ever suggested people who can function in society need to be locked up.

    Greenwald adds, “Thus even for people who show no signs of actually being dangerous, they “shouldn’t be treated like a regular” adult.

    If a person is truly mentally ill, he should not be treated like a regular adult. That doesn’t mean he should not be allowed to function freely in society, if he can do so safely. But it does mean that he should be under the care of a psychiatrist for the rest of his life (unless the mental illness is cured). That is obviously in the best interests of the patient, his family and society.

    What is so wrong is that many mental patients don’t make good judgments about the care that they need, due to their mental disorders. As such, they can get much sicker, and no one can legally stop them from this kind of downward spiral, often until they do something much worse happens.

    However, if they were permanently under the care of a psychiatrists, such patients would not be allowed to spiral downhill without care, intervention and treatment.

    It is flip and easy to say such a solution is ‘draconian.’ But the fact is that many people are suffering because we just allow mental patients to determine their own course, often to their detriment.

    Greenwald writes: “The final point which I almost do not want to bring up because it will strike some as political correctness, but his use of language is both inappropriate, insulting, and ultimately counterproductive: ‘Crazy people are not responsible for their behavior; Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics.’ Such jargons indicate a prejudicial mindset that Rifkin in other writing so deplores. Why does he choose such language? Does he think about mentally ill people as somehow being less than full people?”

    Yes, in some cases, such as with Cho, I think he was ‘less than full.’ As I say in my column, I don’t blame Cho for what happened in Blacksburg. I blame the rest of us, the sane people. He was ‘less than full.’ He could not control the illness that apparently took over his mind.

    To say that I am prejudiced against the very people I am trying to help is beyond stupid. It’s Greenwaldian. I am not a prejudiced or bigoted man. I am not a hatemonger, as others have said.

    Calling a mental hospital a ‘loony bin’ is just colloquial speech. If you look up this term in a decent dictionary, it will tell you it is simply slang. It’s not hateful. Calling someone like Cho a madman or crazy is calling a spade a spade. Of course Cho was a madman. When political correctness constrains you so severely, as it seems to constrain some people who wrote to The Enterprise and to Greenwald, that you cannot express the thought that Cho was crazy or a lunatic without getting offended, it is time for the far left-wing politically correct crowd to rethink their entire approach to language.

    Greenwald lays it on some more, “He certainly wants to throw away their rights without the due process of law and without much more than prejudicial evidence to back it up.”

    Where did I say I want ‘to throw away their rights without the due process of law?’

    I never really got into this in this column, how the system should work with the mentally ill. However, I do believe in ‘the due process of law.’ For a person to be locked up on any kind of ongoing basis, I believe that at least two qualified, court-appointed psychiatrists need to determine that the person is a danger to himself or others. (For a temporary hold, the evidence could be less.)

    For the vast majority of people suffering from ongoing mental disorders, I do believe that they need to legally be forced to see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. (For those without means, the taxpayers should foot this bill.) I don’t think such a plan would ‘throw away their rights.’

    Further, I have no idea where Greenwald gets this notion about my suggesting ‘prejudicial evidence.’

    Greenwald jabs on, “Perhaps it is easier to do that after de-humanizing them by providing such dismissive labels to describe people who suffer from mental illness.”

    I have not de-humanized anyone. You are suffering terribly from the left-wing version of political correctness. (There is a different, albeit just as insidious form, of right-wing p.c. I deplore them both.)

    Greenwald continues: “What we do not need however is fearmongering and bigotry towards those who suffer from mental illness, because it is the last thing they need.”

    Calling a crazy person crazy is not ‘fearmongering.’

    Greenwald finishes, “Most of these people are no threat to anyone and are desperately in need of good quality care so that they can live as normal a quality of life as possible.”

    Of course, that is just what I said in my column. Too bad that most of it was misunderstood by Mr. Greenwald, who seems to have been so caught up in his political correctness about colloquial speech that he missed my entire point.

  24. Rich Rifkin

    David,

    Unfortunately, I was not able to respond to your attack on my recent column more promptly, as I was away on business.

    Nevertheless, I will address point by point your attacks against me, as I have in letters to the many people who wrote me with their criticisms of my column on mental illness.

    You start with, “I believe his writing suffers from some fatal fallacies that require a lengthy response.”

    I’m very interested to know how I have misled my readers.

    You continue: “An examination of the complaints–three letters to the editor and a number of emails to myself shows that there are two basic problems with Mr. Rifkin’s column. First, a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of mental illness. And second, the use of insulting and demeaning jargon to describe mental illness.”

    I only have so much space to write my columns, and my personal knowledge about the nature of mental illness was not the issue, here. Nonetheless, it happens to be the case that due to the sufferings of two of my family members, one of whom I was very close to, I know quite a lot about ‘the nature of mental illness’ and even more about what families go through in these circumstances, when the system we now have fails them. Unless you have experienced how completely worthless our current system can be, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

    I will address my choice of words in a moment.

    Greenwald writes: “The problem with institutionalization was that it categorized people according to assumed characteristics and our limited understanding both for mental illness and how to best treat it. Moreover there have been increasing breakthroughs with medication that have allowed a number of previously institutionalized individuals to live mostly normal lives.”

    I’m not sure for which ‘fallacy’ you are attacking me here. Did I ever say that people who can ‘live mostly normal lives’ need to be institutionalized? I pointed out in my column specifically that ‘Many mental disorders are treatable. If a patient can function in society under medication, he should be allowed to do so.’

    You go on, “Mr. Rifkin is correct to point out flaws in the mental illness system as many of the individuals who wrote to the Davis Enterprise made quite clear.”

    I don’t think those letter writers made that clear. I believe that our system is flawed, when dealing with a mentally ill person who is a danger to himself or others. Not one of the Enterprise letter writers, or you, addressed this crucial problem.

    Without getting into the details of what went on in my family, you need to understand how our system can and does fail (as it did with Mr. Cho): my family member began suffering from schizophrenia and soon developed severe paranoia. He was treatable with medications, but he found that he couldn’t do his work (as a carpenter/homebuilder) when he was medicated. So often times, he would stop taking his meds. And off his meds, he became delusional and paranoid and violent and abusive. (At one point he owned a large arsenal of guns.) Because of our bias in favor of civil liberties over common sense, he could not be forced to take his medications. And so his mild schizophrenia developed into a severe case and his life was essentially destroyed.

    What could have been done for him? I suggest we should have a law which — when at least two qualified psychiatrists determine that a patient needs to be medicated in order to function safely in society — forces patients to check in with their psychiatrists at least once a week, much like parolees check in with parole officers, to prove that they are keeping up with their medications and not devolving into madness.

    Greenwald continues: “Mr. Rifkin’s opinion aside, he then supports his opinion by making sweeping assertions that are backward in terms of both causation and induction. In short, he commits a fundamental fallacy in his reasoning. What he has cited is evidence that a sizable but still minority percentage of individuals who are in jail and homeless suffer from mental illness. While that may be true, the inverse is not necessarily true–that a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or jail.”

    If there is a fallacy of argument going on here, it is with Mr. Greenwald.

    I never said that “a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or in jail.” Please, David, tell me where I ever said or implied that.

    What I did imply, though never said, was that a sizable percentage of people who in former times would have been institutionalized in mental hospitals are now in prisons or are homeless. Insofar as that population is a small subset of the total population with mental disorders, then of course it is true that most mentally ill people are not in prison or homeless.

    The man who charges me with making fallacious arguments while being fallacious himself continues:

    “The reasoning becomes flawed because he views the phenomena through the outcome of a specific deterministic behavioral feature rather than by examining the entire population of those who suffer from mental illness to determine whether they end up in jail or on the streets.”

    No, you just can’t seem to think straight. I didn’t say that “the entire population of those who suffer from mental illness” is apt to be homeless or in prison. You misinterpreted my words and then leaped to conclusions that are based on your mistaken assumptions. That is the very nature of fallacy, in case you don’t own a dictionary.

    Greenwald keeps up his attack: “What the letters to the editor cite are the statistics that demonstrate that those who are mentally ill are rarely either dangerous or criminals. As one writer suggests: ‘Fewer than one in 500 people with significant mental illness display violent behavior.’

    Nothing in what I wrote contradicts that.

    Greenwald goes on: “As a NAMI-Yolo member suggests in a letter to the Davis Enterprise Tuesday: ‘Most people who suffer from serious mental illness hurt themselves or become victims of crime.’

    I don’t know if the statistics bear that out. However, it jives with what I have personally observed. And it jives with what I wrote in my column about people who are determined to be a danger to themselves.

    Greenwald continues to quote Marilyn Moyle’s letter: ‘They lose jobs, family and friends. Very few become violent like Cho.’

    I completely agree with Ms. Moyle, here. I said absolutely nothing in my column which would contradict this. As I spoke above about my family member with schizophrenia, I should note that he is ‘lost’ to us. I have no idea where he is, now. Had we been able to force him to stay on his meds, much heartache and pain and trauma could have been avoided. He could have had a nice life.

    In fact, as one psychiatrist in my family told me, he could have had an adjustment made to his medications which would have avoided the terrible drowsiness side effects, thus enabling him to continue working, even when medicated.

    Ms. Moyle is further quoted by Greenwald: ‘Locked facilities are not a permanent solution.’

    I don’t think Ms. Moyle is right here. For patients who cannot function safely in society, locked facilities are a permanent solution. I never said that are needed for people who can function safely outside.

    In the Enterprise letter by Derrick Wydick, who tells me that he is a psychologist associated with Sacramento City College, Wydick writes, “Lets’ be practical – no one in a mental hospital gets quality treatment.”

    Well, Mr. Wydick, as I told you myself, this is just an ignorant statement. We actually do have some very good mental hospitals in this country. And for a person who refers to himself as a mental health professional, such ignorance is appalling.

    I have been called a bigot, a fearmonger, a hater, prejudiced, etc. But what is abundantly clear to me in reading these criticisms from the politically correct left is that they are operating under a severe prejudice against mental hospitals and to some extent, against psychiatry. If you assume that no one gets help in a mental hospital, then of course you would react angrily toward my suggestion that there are some patients who need to be locked up in them, at least at some times, if not permanently, and others who need to be under the permanent care of a psychiatrist.

    I am not unaware that there are some crappy mental hospitals, and that in part led to the deinstitutionalization of the 1960s. But most of them today are far better with better oversight; and a blanket condemnation of them by ‘mental health professionals’ is pathetic.

    Greenwald keeps attacking me: “So it may be true that a sizable population in prisons suffer from mental illness that does not mean that most mentally ill people are dangerous.”

    True. I never said or implied anywhere in my column “that most mentally ill people are dangerous.”

    However, you clearly have implied that you think I said that. It’s too bad that the facts are getting in the way of your attack against me.

    Greenwald goes on: “This is very poorly constructed logic on the part of Mr. Rifkin. And he uses this leap in logic to justify his very draconian policy approach.”

    Wait a minute: my ‘very poorly constructed logic’? What are you talking about? You make false assumptions and then say I lack logic?

    Second, what is my ‘very draconian approach’? I wrote, “If someone is dangerous, he needs to be locked up.’ Is that draconian? I never, ever suggested people who can function in society need to be locked up.

    Greenwald adds, “Thus even for people who show no signs of actually being dangerous, they “shouldn’t be treated like a regular” adult.

    If a person is truly mentally ill, he should not be treated like a regular adult. That doesn’t mean he should not be allowed to function freely in society, if he can do so safely. But it does mean that he should be under the care of a psychiatrist for the rest of his life (unless the mental illness is cured). That is obviously in the best interests of the patient, his family and society.

    What is so wrong is that many mental patients don’t make good judgments about the care that they need, due to their mental disorders. As such, they can get much sicker, and no one can legally stop them from this kind of downward spiral, often until they do something much worse happens.

    However, if they were permanently under the care of a psychiatrists, such patients would not be allowed to spiral downhill without care, intervention and treatment.

    It is flip and easy to say such a solution is ‘draconian.’ But the fact is that many people are suffering because we just allow mental patients to determine their own course, often to their detriment.

    Greenwald writes: “The final point which I almost do not want to bring up because it will strike some as political correctness, but his use of language is both inappropriate, insulting, and ultimately counterproductive: ‘Crazy people are not responsible for their behavior; Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics.’ Such jargons indicate a prejudicial mindset that Rifkin in other writing so deplores. Why does he choose such language? Does he think about mentally ill people as somehow being less than full people?”

    Yes, in some cases, such as with Cho, I think he was ‘less than full.’ As I say in my column, I don’t blame Cho for what happened in Blacksburg. I blame the rest of us, the sane people. He was ‘less than full.’ He could not control the illness that apparently took over his mind.

    To say that I am prejudiced against the very people I am trying to help is beyond stupid. It’s Greenwaldian. I am not a prejudiced or bigoted man. I am not a hatemonger, as others have said.

    Calling a mental hospital a ‘loony bin’ is just colloquial speech. If you look up this term in a decent dictionary, it will tell you it is simply slang. It’s not hateful. Calling someone like Cho a madman or crazy is calling a spade a spade. Of course Cho was a madman. When political correctness constrains you so severely, as it seems to constrain some people who wrote to The Enterprise and to Greenwald, that you cannot express the thought that Cho was crazy or a lunatic without getting offended, it is time for the far left-wing politically correct crowd to rethink their entire approach to language.

    Greenwald lays it on some more, “He certainly wants to throw away their rights without the due process of law and without much more than prejudicial evidence to back it up.”

    Where did I say I want ‘to throw away their rights without the due process of law?’

    I never really got into this in this column, how the system should work with the mentally ill. However, I do believe in ‘the due process of law.’ For a person to be locked up on any kind of ongoing basis, I believe that at least two qualified, court-appointed psychiatrists need to determine that the person is a danger to himself or others. (For a temporary hold, the evidence could be less.)

    For the vast majority of people suffering from ongoing mental disorders, I do believe that they need to legally be forced to see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. (For those without means, the taxpayers should foot this bill.) I don’t think such a plan would ‘throw away their rights.’

    Further, I have no idea where Greenwald gets this notion about my suggesting ‘prejudicial evidence.’

    Greenwald jabs on, “Perhaps it is easier to do that after de-humanizing them by providing such dismissive labels to describe people who suffer from mental illness.”

    I have not de-humanized anyone. You are suffering terribly from the left-wing version of political correctness. (There is a different, albeit just as insidious form, of right-wing p.c. I deplore them both.)

    Greenwald continues: “What we do not need however is fearmongering and bigotry towards those who suffer from mental illness, because it is the last thing they need.”

    Calling a crazy person crazy is not ‘fearmongering.’

    Greenwald finishes, “Most of these people are no threat to anyone and are desperately in need of good quality care so that they can live as normal a quality of life as possible.”

    Of course, that is just what I said in my column. Too bad that most of it was misunderstood by Mr. Greenwald, who seems to have been so caught up in his political correctness about colloquial speech that he missed my entire point.

  25. Rich Rifkin

    I will now respond to some of the comments made here:

    Richard Estes writes: “this is just typical of Rifkin, his compadre, Dunning, and the Enterprise generally”

    Richard, you told me that you don’t read my column. So how would you know what is typical?

    “from my experience, some mentally disordered people have serious impulse control problems, and find themselves in situations with insufficient care and treatment, where they eventually act out, treatment that they, and their families, would be perfectly willing to accept it it were provided.”

    Maybe if you had actually read my column, you would have understood that that is just what I wrote (though I don’t get into ‘impulse control problems.’ In fact, I think it is far more severe than that.). My column is an attack on the fact that too many mentally ill people are not getting the treatment that they need.

    “furthermore, Rifkin plays upon the misunderstanding that mentally disordered people cannot be held involuntarily if they become a danger to themselves or others”

    No, Rifkin did not say that. If you had read my column, you would know that. What I did say was that when a person has been determined to be dangerous, as Cho was, he needs to be involuntarily held. He needs to be under the care of a psychiatrist and not let out until he can operate safely in society.

    Sharla writes: “The concern is that nothing seems to happen to control their anti-social behaviour, until they go way over the edge and do actual physical harm. All the signs that this will eventually happen is there.”

    While I don’t know about the specific case she writes about, I think this illustrates my point quite well. I appreciate your pointing that out. Also, I would be surprised if there is just one person in Davis who meets this criteria. I have come across a couple of people in town who appeared (on the surface, to my untrained eye) to be severely mentally ill and homeless. I would hope that we, as a society, would have a system in place where they could be taken into custody and given the necessary psychiatric care.

    Anonymous writes: “Stuff like this in the Enterprise is an embarrassment to our community.”

    I don’t know what you are embarrassed about. Should I be fired because I believe we need to help mentally ill people?

    Another anonymous writes: “Rifkins column actually reveals what Debbie Davis thinks about those who suffer from mental illness.”

    Never mind that there is only one Rifkin writing for The Enterprise, my opinions are not censored by the editors. Debbie Davis does not necessarily agree with anything I write. I have no idea how she felt about this column. The same goes for what Gerald Heffernon writes, or Cindy Litman writes, or Jann Murray-Garcia writes. Each of us can write what opinions we like in our columns.

    I think the only time Debbie ever told me that she agreed with a political column that I wrote was when I suggested that we should not allow Target to build a 12 acre asphalt parking lot (which is just what they will be doing), but instead should be required to build a multi-story parking garage on much less acreage.

  26. Rich Rifkin

    I will now respond to some of the comments made here:

    Richard Estes writes: “this is just typical of Rifkin, his compadre, Dunning, and the Enterprise generally”

    Richard, you told me that you don’t read my column. So how would you know what is typical?

    “from my experience, some mentally disordered people have serious impulse control problems, and find themselves in situations with insufficient care and treatment, where they eventually act out, treatment that they, and their families, would be perfectly willing to accept it it were provided.”

    Maybe if you had actually read my column, you would have understood that that is just what I wrote (though I don’t get into ‘impulse control problems.’ In fact, I think it is far more severe than that.). My column is an attack on the fact that too many mentally ill people are not getting the treatment that they need.

    “furthermore, Rifkin plays upon the misunderstanding that mentally disordered people cannot be held involuntarily if they become a danger to themselves or others”

    No, Rifkin did not say that. If you had read my column, you would know that. What I did say was that when a person has been determined to be dangerous, as Cho was, he needs to be involuntarily held. He needs to be under the care of a psychiatrist and not let out until he can operate safely in society.

    Sharla writes: “The concern is that nothing seems to happen to control their anti-social behaviour, until they go way over the edge and do actual physical harm. All the signs that this will eventually happen is there.”

    While I don’t know about the specific case she writes about, I think this illustrates my point quite well. I appreciate your pointing that out. Also, I would be surprised if there is just one person in Davis who meets this criteria. I have come across a couple of people in town who appeared (on the surface, to my untrained eye) to be severely mentally ill and homeless. I would hope that we, as a society, would have a system in place where they could be taken into custody and given the necessary psychiatric care.

    Anonymous writes: “Stuff like this in the Enterprise is an embarrassment to our community.”

    I don’t know what you are embarrassed about. Should I be fired because I believe we need to help mentally ill people?

    Another anonymous writes: “Rifkins column actually reveals what Debbie Davis thinks about those who suffer from mental illness.”

    Never mind that there is only one Rifkin writing for The Enterprise, my opinions are not censored by the editors. Debbie Davis does not necessarily agree with anything I write. I have no idea how she felt about this column. The same goes for what Gerald Heffernon writes, or Cindy Litman writes, or Jann Murray-Garcia writes. Each of us can write what opinions we like in our columns.

    I think the only time Debbie ever told me that she agreed with a political column that I wrote was when I suggested that we should not allow Target to build a 12 acre asphalt parking lot (which is just what they will be doing), but instead should be required to build a multi-story parking garage on much less acreage.

  27. Rich Rifkin

    I will now respond to some of the comments made here:

    Richard Estes writes: “this is just typical of Rifkin, his compadre, Dunning, and the Enterprise generally”

    Richard, you told me that you don’t read my column. So how would you know what is typical?

    “from my experience, some mentally disordered people have serious impulse control problems, and find themselves in situations with insufficient care and treatment, where they eventually act out, treatment that they, and their families, would be perfectly willing to accept it it were provided.”

    Maybe if you had actually read my column, you would have understood that that is just what I wrote (though I don’t get into ‘impulse control problems.’ In fact, I think it is far more severe than that.). My column is an attack on the fact that too many mentally ill people are not getting the treatment that they need.

    “furthermore, Rifkin plays upon the misunderstanding that mentally disordered people cannot be held involuntarily if they become a danger to themselves or others”

    No, Rifkin did not say that. If you had read my column, you would know that. What I did say was that when a person has been determined to be dangerous, as Cho was, he needs to be involuntarily held. He needs to be under the care of a psychiatrist and not let out until he can operate safely in society.

    Sharla writes: “The concern is that nothing seems to happen to control their anti-social behaviour, until they go way over the edge and do actual physical harm. All the signs that this will eventually happen is there.”

    While I don’t know about the specific case she writes about, I think this illustrates my point quite well. I appreciate your pointing that out. Also, I would be surprised if there is just one person in Davis who meets this criteria. I have come across a couple of people in town who appeared (on the surface, to my untrained eye) to be severely mentally ill and homeless. I would hope that we, as a society, would have a system in place where they could be taken into custody and given the necessary psychiatric care.

    Anonymous writes: “Stuff like this in the Enterprise is an embarrassment to our community.”

    I don’t know what you are embarrassed about. Should I be fired because I believe we need to help mentally ill people?

    Another anonymous writes: “Rifkins column actually reveals what Debbie Davis thinks about those who suffer from mental illness.”

    Never mind that there is only one Rifkin writing for The Enterprise, my opinions are not censored by the editors. Debbie Davis does not necessarily agree with anything I write. I have no idea how she felt about this column. The same goes for what Gerald Heffernon writes, or Cindy Litman writes, or Jann Murray-Garcia writes. Each of us can write what opinions we like in our columns.

    I think the only time Debbie ever told me that she agreed with a political column that I wrote was when I suggested that we should not allow Target to build a 12 acre asphalt parking lot (which is just what they will be doing), but instead should be required to build a multi-story parking garage on much less acreage.

  28. Rich Rifkin

    I will now respond to some of the comments made here:

    Richard Estes writes: “this is just typical of Rifkin, his compadre, Dunning, and the Enterprise generally”

    Richard, you told me that you don’t read my column. So how would you know what is typical?

    “from my experience, some mentally disordered people have serious impulse control problems, and find themselves in situations with insufficient care and treatment, where they eventually act out, treatment that they, and their families, would be perfectly willing to accept it it were provided.”

    Maybe if you had actually read my column, you would have understood that that is just what I wrote (though I don’t get into ‘impulse control problems.’ In fact, I think it is far more severe than that.). My column is an attack on the fact that too many mentally ill people are not getting the treatment that they need.

    “furthermore, Rifkin plays upon the misunderstanding that mentally disordered people cannot be held involuntarily if they become a danger to themselves or others”

    No, Rifkin did not say that. If you had read my column, you would know that. What I did say was that when a person has been determined to be dangerous, as Cho was, he needs to be involuntarily held. He needs to be under the care of a psychiatrist and not let out until he can operate safely in society.

    Sharla writes: “The concern is that nothing seems to happen to control their anti-social behaviour, until they go way over the edge and do actual physical harm. All the signs that this will eventually happen is there.”

    While I don’t know about the specific case she writes about, I think this illustrates my point quite well. I appreciate your pointing that out. Also, I would be surprised if there is just one person in Davis who meets this criteria. I have come across a couple of people in town who appeared (on the surface, to my untrained eye) to be severely mentally ill and homeless. I would hope that we, as a society, would have a system in place where they could be taken into custody and given the necessary psychiatric care.

    Anonymous writes: “Stuff like this in the Enterprise is an embarrassment to our community.”

    I don’t know what you are embarrassed about. Should I be fired because I believe we need to help mentally ill people?

    Another anonymous writes: “Rifkins column actually reveals what Debbie Davis thinks about those who suffer from mental illness.”

    Never mind that there is only one Rifkin writing for The Enterprise, my opinions are not censored by the editors. Debbie Davis does not necessarily agree with anything I write. I have no idea how she felt about this column. The same goes for what Gerald Heffernon writes, or Cindy Litman writes, or Jann Murray-Garcia writes. Each of us can write what opinions we like in our columns.

    I think the only time Debbie ever told me that she agreed with a political column that I wrote was when I suggested that we should not allow Target to build a 12 acre asphalt parking lot (which is just what they will be doing), but instead should be required to build a multi-story parking garage on much less acreage.

  29. Vincente

    “Should I be fired because I believe we need to help mentally ill people?”

    As so often is the case, Mr. Rifkin misses out on the point in question which is not whether we need to help mentally ill people as you posit here and in your response to DPD, but rather how they should be helped and whether or not we can/ should employ such draconian and governmentally intrusive means as you suggest.

    The point that DPD is making is that you have not established a standard by which we can evaluate the necessity of special treatment for a class of people and your statistics are reversed as you show a percentage (a minority percentage of that) of people who are either homeless or in jail who suffer from mental illness rather than the reverse as he suggests which would allow us to ascertain the danger or risk to society that mentally ill people present and to which your critics have suggested you have vastly overstated in your column.

    Those two aspects have wrought the criticism that you have receive and NOT any dispute about the point I have quoted above.

  30. Vincente

    “Should I be fired because I believe we need to help mentally ill people?”

    As so often is the case, Mr. Rifkin misses out on the point in question which is not whether we need to help mentally ill people as you posit here and in your response to DPD, but rather how they should be helped and whether or not we can/ should employ such draconian and governmentally intrusive means as you suggest.

    The point that DPD is making is that you have not established a standard by which we can evaluate the necessity of special treatment for a class of people and your statistics are reversed as you show a percentage (a minority percentage of that) of people who are either homeless or in jail who suffer from mental illness rather than the reverse as he suggests which would allow us to ascertain the danger or risk to society that mentally ill people present and to which your critics have suggested you have vastly overstated in your column.

    Those two aspects have wrought the criticism that you have receive and NOT any dispute about the point I have quoted above.

  31. Vincente

    “Should I be fired because I believe we need to help mentally ill people?”

    As so often is the case, Mr. Rifkin misses out on the point in question which is not whether we need to help mentally ill people as you posit here and in your response to DPD, but rather how they should be helped and whether or not we can/ should employ such draconian and governmentally intrusive means as you suggest.

    The point that DPD is making is that you have not established a standard by which we can evaluate the necessity of special treatment for a class of people and your statistics are reversed as you show a percentage (a minority percentage of that) of people who are either homeless or in jail who suffer from mental illness rather than the reverse as he suggests which would allow us to ascertain the danger or risk to society that mentally ill people present and to which your critics have suggested you have vastly overstated in your column.

    Those two aspects have wrought the criticism that you have receive and NOT any dispute about the point I have quoted above.

  32. Vincente

    “Should I be fired because I believe we need to help mentally ill people?”

    As so often is the case, Mr. Rifkin misses out on the point in question which is not whether we need to help mentally ill people as you posit here and in your response to DPD, but rather how they should be helped and whether or not we can/ should employ such draconian and governmentally intrusive means as you suggest.

    The point that DPD is making is that you have not established a standard by which we can evaluate the necessity of special treatment for a class of people and your statistics are reversed as you show a percentage (a minority percentage of that) of people who are either homeless or in jail who suffer from mental illness rather than the reverse as he suggests which would allow us to ascertain the danger or risk to society that mentally ill people present and to which your critics have suggested you have vastly overstated in your column.

    Those two aspects have wrought the criticism that you have receive and NOT any dispute about the point I have quoted above.

  33. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    I don’t have time to read let alone respond to your entire second column on this matter, but this is the core my criticism of your work.

    “I never said that “a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or in jail.” Please, David, tell me where I ever said or implied that.

    What I did imply, though never said, was that a sizable percentage of people who in former times would have been institutionalized in mental hospitals are now in prisons or are homeless. Insofar as that population is a small subset of the total population with mental disorders, then of course it is true that most mentally ill people are not in prison or homeless.”

    You are correct that you never mention in, and in fact never establish that a sizable percentage of the population… blah blah blah, ad nauseum.

    That is the core of my criticism of your work is that you in fact need to establish that in order to justify your conclusion.

    I don’t dispute that the system is not working. I dispute your proposed solutions to those problems. And I dispute the core of your contention which is based on a reverse reading of the statistics.

  34. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    I don’t have time to read let alone respond to your entire second column on this matter, but this is the core my criticism of your work.

    “I never said that “a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or in jail.” Please, David, tell me where I ever said or implied that.

    What I did imply, though never said, was that a sizable percentage of people who in former times would have been institutionalized in mental hospitals are now in prisons or are homeless. Insofar as that population is a small subset of the total population with mental disorders, then of course it is true that most mentally ill people are not in prison or homeless.”

    You are correct that you never mention in, and in fact never establish that a sizable percentage of the population… blah blah blah, ad nauseum.

    That is the core of my criticism of your work is that you in fact need to establish that in order to justify your conclusion.

    I don’t dispute that the system is not working. I dispute your proposed solutions to those problems. And I dispute the core of your contention which is based on a reverse reading of the statistics.

  35. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    I don’t have time to read let alone respond to your entire second column on this matter, but this is the core my criticism of your work.

    “I never said that “a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or in jail.” Please, David, tell me where I ever said or implied that.

    What I did imply, though never said, was that a sizable percentage of people who in former times would have been institutionalized in mental hospitals are now in prisons or are homeless. Insofar as that population is a small subset of the total population with mental disorders, then of course it is true that most mentally ill people are not in prison or homeless.”

    You are correct that you never mention in, and in fact never establish that a sizable percentage of the population… blah blah blah, ad nauseum.

    That is the core of my criticism of your work is that you in fact need to establish that in order to justify your conclusion.

    I don’t dispute that the system is not working. I dispute your proposed solutions to those problems. And I dispute the core of your contention which is based on a reverse reading of the statistics.

  36. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    I don’t have time to read let alone respond to your entire second column on this matter, but this is the core my criticism of your work.

    “I never said that “a sizable percentage of mentally ill end up homeless or in jail.” Please, David, tell me where I ever said or implied that.

    What I did imply, though never said, was that a sizable percentage of people who in former times would have been institutionalized in mental hospitals are now in prisons or are homeless. Insofar as that population is a small subset of the total population with mental disorders, then of course it is true that most mentally ill people are not in prison or homeless.”

    You are correct that you never mention in, and in fact never establish that a sizable percentage of the population… blah blah blah, ad nauseum.

    That is the core of my criticism of your work is that you in fact need to establish that in order to justify your conclusion.

    I don’t dispute that the system is not working. I dispute your proposed solutions to those problems. And I dispute the core of your contention which is based on a reverse reading of the statistics.

  37. Rich Rifkin

    Vincente begins: “[The question] is not whether we need to help mentally ill people as you posit here and in your response to DPD.”

    Why is that not the question? That of course is the very question I addressed in my column, which drew such vituperative rebuke.

    Vincente continues: “The point that DPD is making is that you have not established a standard by which we can evaluate the necessity of special treatment for a class of people.”

    Okay. Here is the standard. If a person is determined by a court to be a danger to himself or others, he should be held by authorities. He should be seen by psychiatrists. He should be given whatever medications he needs. If his psychiatrists determine that he can function safely in society, he should be free to do so. But as long as he still needs medications to do so, he should be required to regularly visit his psychiatrist.

    Vincente adds: “Your statistics are reversed as you show a percentage (a minority percentage of that) of people who are either homeless or in jail who suffer from mental illness rather than the reverse as he suggests which would allow us to ascertain the danger or risk to society that mentally ill people present and to which your critics have suggested you have vastly overstated in your column.”

    In my column I note that 1 in 6 prisoners and about 20-25 percent of homeless people are severely mentally ill: I pointed these numbers out solely to illustrate the fact that we are not helping a large number of people with severe mental illnesses. I don’t know how many people those numbers represent: but I would guess it in the hundreds of thousands.

    If I had my way, there would be no people with severe mental health problems in either situation.

    Nothing Greenwald wrote disputes that.

    Second, I never stated in my column the degree to which severely mentally ill people pose a threat to society. I have no idea about this. It is true that some critics have accused me (falsely as it happens) of having overstated how much of a threat this is, but because I never stated it in the first place — if you read my column, you know this — the criticism is misplaced.

    I do think, nonetheless, that when people with severe mental illnesses go untreated, they can be a danger to themselves, if not others. And in cases like with Cho, they are a threat to society. That is why I want such people to a) not have access to firearms and b) have proper psychiatric care.

  38. Rich Rifkin

    Vincente begins: “[The question] is not whether we need to help mentally ill people as you posit here and in your response to DPD.”

    Why is that not the question? That of course is the very question I addressed in my column, which drew such vituperative rebuke.

    Vincente continues: “The point that DPD is making is that you have not established a standard by which we can evaluate the necessity of special treatment for a class of people.”

    Okay. Here is the standard. If a person is determined by a court to be a danger to himself or others, he should be held by authorities. He should be seen by psychiatrists. He should be given whatever medications he needs. If his psychiatrists determine that he can function safely in society, he should be free to do so. But as long as he still needs medications to do so, he should be required to regularly visit his psychiatrist.

    Vincente adds: “Your statistics are reversed as you show a percentage (a minority percentage of that) of people who are either homeless or in jail who suffer from mental illness rather than the reverse as he suggests which would allow us to ascertain the danger or risk to society that mentally ill people present and to which your critics have suggested you have vastly overstated in your column.”

    In my column I note that 1 in 6 prisoners and about 20-25 percent of homeless people are severely mentally ill: I pointed these numbers out solely to illustrate the fact that we are not helping a large number of people with severe mental illnesses. I don’t know how many people those numbers represent: but I would guess it in the hundreds of thousands.

    If I had my way, there would be no people with severe mental health problems in either situation.

    Nothing Greenwald wrote disputes that.

    Second, I never stated in my column the degree to which severely mentally ill people pose a threat to society. I have no idea about this. It is true that some critics have accused me (falsely as it happens) of having overstated how much of a threat this is, but because I never stated it in the first place — if you read my column, you know this — the criticism is misplaced.

    I do think, nonetheless, that when people with severe mental illnesses go untreated, they can be a danger to themselves, if not others. And in cases like with Cho, they are a threat to society. That is why I want such people to a) not have access to firearms and b) have proper psychiatric care.

  39. Rich Rifkin

    Vincente begins: “[The question] is not whether we need to help mentally ill people as you posit here and in your response to DPD.”

    Why is that not the question? That of course is the very question I addressed in my column, which drew such vituperative rebuke.

    Vincente continues: “The point that DPD is making is that you have not established a standard by which we can evaluate the necessity of special treatment for a class of people.”

    Okay. Here is the standard. If a person is determined by a court to be a danger to himself or others, he should be held by authorities. He should be seen by psychiatrists. He should be given whatever medications he needs. If his psychiatrists determine that he can function safely in society, he should be free to do so. But as long as he still needs medications to do so, he should be required to regularly visit his psychiatrist.

    Vincente adds: “Your statistics are reversed as you show a percentage (a minority percentage of that) of people who are either homeless or in jail who suffer from mental illness rather than the reverse as he suggests which would allow us to ascertain the danger or risk to society that mentally ill people present and to which your critics have suggested you have vastly overstated in your column.”

    In my column I note that 1 in 6 prisoners and about 20-25 percent of homeless people are severely mentally ill: I pointed these numbers out solely to illustrate the fact that we are not helping a large number of people with severe mental illnesses. I don’t know how many people those numbers represent: but I would guess it in the hundreds of thousands.

    If I had my way, there would be no people with severe mental health problems in either situation.

    Nothing Greenwald wrote disputes that.

    Second, I never stated in my column the degree to which severely mentally ill people pose a threat to society. I have no idea about this. It is true that some critics have accused me (falsely as it happens) of having overstated how much of a threat this is, but because I never stated it in the first place — if you read my column, you know this — the criticism is misplaced.

    I do think, nonetheless, that when people with severe mental illnesses go untreated, they can be a danger to themselves, if not others. And in cases like with Cho, they are a threat to society. That is why I want such people to a) not have access to firearms and b) have proper psychiatric care.

  40. Rich Rifkin

    Vincente begins: “[The question] is not whether we need to help mentally ill people as you posit here and in your response to DPD.”

    Why is that not the question? That of course is the very question I addressed in my column, which drew such vituperative rebuke.

    Vincente continues: “The point that DPD is making is that you have not established a standard by which we can evaluate the necessity of special treatment for a class of people.”

    Okay. Here is the standard. If a person is determined by a court to be a danger to himself or others, he should be held by authorities. He should be seen by psychiatrists. He should be given whatever medications he needs. If his psychiatrists determine that he can function safely in society, he should be free to do so. But as long as he still needs medications to do so, he should be required to regularly visit his psychiatrist.

    Vincente adds: “Your statistics are reversed as you show a percentage (a minority percentage of that) of people who are either homeless or in jail who suffer from mental illness rather than the reverse as he suggests which would allow us to ascertain the danger or risk to society that mentally ill people present and to which your critics have suggested you have vastly overstated in your column.”

    In my column I note that 1 in 6 prisoners and about 20-25 percent of homeless people are severely mentally ill: I pointed these numbers out solely to illustrate the fact that we are not helping a large number of people with severe mental illnesses. I don’t know how many people those numbers represent: but I would guess it in the hundreds of thousands.

    If I had my way, there would be no people with severe mental health problems in either situation.

    Nothing Greenwald wrote disputes that.

    Second, I never stated in my column the degree to which severely mentally ill people pose a threat to society. I have no idea about this. It is true that some critics have accused me (falsely as it happens) of having overstated how much of a threat this is, but because I never stated it in the first place — if you read my column, you know this — the criticism is misplaced.

    I do think, nonetheless, that when people with severe mental illnesses go untreated, they can be a danger to themselves, if not others. And in cases like with Cho, they are a threat to society. That is why I want such people to a) not have access to firearms and b) have proper psychiatric care.

  41. Rich Rifkin

    Greenwald writes: “I don’t have time to read let alone respond to your entire second column on this matter, but this is the core my criticism of your work.”

    Well, when you have the time, please read what I wrote. It’s up to you, but it only seems fair that if you are going to harshly criticize me, you fully consider my response.

    “That is the core of my criticism of your work is that you in fact need to establish that in order to justify your conclusion.”

    What didn’t I establish here that I needed to in order to draw what conclusion?

    “I don’t dispute that the system is not working. I dispute your proposed solutions to those problems.”

    So then come up with a better solution.

    “And I dispute the core of your contention which is based on a reverse reading of the statistics.”

    The core of my contention? What is it that you think is the core of my contention?

    I contend that we have a lot of severely mentally ill people who are not getting the necessary psychiatric treatment they need. You’re attack on the numbers I pointed to was completely off-base.

    You mistakenly concluded that I argued that a high percentage of mentally ill people are in prison or are homeless. I never argued that, because that is irrelevant to everything that I wrote.

  42. Rich Rifkin

    Greenwald writes: “I don’t have time to read let alone respond to your entire second column on this matter, but this is the core my criticism of your work.”

    Well, when you have the time, please read what I wrote. It’s up to you, but it only seems fair that if you are going to harshly criticize me, you fully consider my response.

    “That is the core of my criticism of your work is that you in fact need to establish that in order to justify your conclusion.”

    What didn’t I establish here that I needed to in order to draw what conclusion?

    “I don’t dispute that the system is not working. I dispute your proposed solutions to those problems.”

    So then come up with a better solution.

    “And I dispute the core of your contention which is based on a reverse reading of the statistics.”

    The core of my contention? What is it that you think is the core of my contention?

    I contend that we have a lot of severely mentally ill people who are not getting the necessary psychiatric treatment they need. You’re attack on the numbers I pointed to was completely off-base.

    You mistakenly concluded that I argued that a high percentage of mentally ill people are in prison or are homeless. I never argued that, because that is irrelevant to everything that I wrote.

  43. Rich Rifkin

    Greenwald writes: “I don’t have time to read let alone respond to your entire second column on this matter, but this is the core my criticism of your work.”

    Well, when you have the time, please read what I wrote. It’s up to you, but it only seems fair that if you are going to harshly criticize me, you fully consider my response.

    “That is the core of my criticism of your work is that you in fact need to establish that in order to justify your conclusion.”

    What didn’t I establish here that I needed to in order to draw what conclusion?

    “I don’t dispute that the system is not working. I dispute your proposed solutions to those problems.”

    So then come up with a better solution.

    “And I dispute the core of your contention which is based on a reverse reading of the statistics.”

    The core of my contention? What is it that you think is the core of my contention?

    I contend that we have a lot of severely mentally ill people who are not getting the necessary psychiatric treatment they need. You’re attack on the numbers I pointed to was completely off-base.

    You mistakenly concluded that I argued that a high percentage of mentally ill people are in prison or are homeless. I never argued that, because that is irrelevant to everything that I wrote.

  44. Rich Rifkin

    Greenwald writes: “I don’t have time to read let alone respond to your entire second column on this matter, but this is the core my criticism of your work.”

    Well, when you have the time, please read what I wrote. It’s up to you, but it only seems fair that if you are going to harshly criticize me, you fully consider my response.

    “That is the core of my criticism of your work is that you in fact need to establish that in order to justify your conclusion.”

    What didn’t I establish here that I needed to in order to draw what conclusion?

    “I don’t dispute that the system is not working. I dispute your proposed solutions to those problems.”

    So then come up with a better solution.

    “And I dispute the core of your contention which is based on a reverse reading of the statistics.”

    The core of my contention? What is it that you think is the core of my contention?

    I contend that we have a lot of severely mentally ill people who are not getting the necessary psychiatric treatment they need. You’re attack on the numbers I pointed to was completely off-base.

    You mistakenly concluded that I argued that a high percentage of mentally ill people are in prison or are homeless. I never argued that, because that is irrelevant to everything that I wrote.

  45. Vincente

    Reading your response to both me and DPD I don’t think you understand our complaint.

    “Why is that not the question? That of course is the very question I addressed in my column, which drew such vituperative rebuke.”

    You pointing out a problem is not what drew the complaint, it was your solution to the problem that did.

    DPD specifically states that you are correct here:

    “Mr. Rifkin is correct to point out flaws in the mental illness system…”

    Here’s the point of departure:

    “Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics. It largely has put them out on the streets, where many become homeless and others wind up in prisons.”

    You explicitly state “it largely has put them out on the streets…”

    Actually it hasn’t largely put them out on the streets.

    That assumption is what is driving the criticism of your column and it also drives your conclusions about how to handle the problem.

  46. Vincente

    Reading your response to both me and DPD I don’t think you understand our complaint.

    “Why is that not the question? That of course is the very question I addressed in my column, which drew such vituperative rebuke.”

    You pointing out a problem is not what drew the complaint, it was your solution to the problem that did.

    DPD specifically states that you are correct here:

    “Mr. Rifkin is correct to point out flaws in the mental illness system…”

    Here’s the point of departure:

    “Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics. It largely has put them out on the streets, where many become homeless and others wind up in prisons.”

    You explicitly state “it largely has put them out on the streets…”

    Actually it hasn’t largely put them out on the streets.

    That assumption is what is driving the criticism of your column and it also drives your conclusions about how to handle the problem.

  47. Vincente

    Reading your response to both me and DPD I don’t think you understand our complaint.

    “Why is that not the question? That of course is the very question I addressed in my column, which drew such vituperative rebuke.”

    You pointing out a problem is not what drew the complaint, it was your solution to the problem that did.

    DPD specifically states that you are correct here:

    “Mr. Rifkin is correct to point out flaws in the mental illness system…”

    Here’s the point of departure:

    “Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics. It largely has put them out on the streets, where many become homeless and others wind up in prisons.”

    You explicitly state “it largely has put them out on the streets…”

    Actually it hasn’t largely put them out on the streets.

    That assumption is what is driving the criticism of your column and it also drives your conclusions about how to handle the problem.

  48. Vincente

    Reading your response to both me and DPD I don’t think you understand our complaint.

    “Why is that not the question? That of course is the very question I addressed in my column, which drew such vituperative rebuke.”

    You pointing out a problem is not what drew the complaint, it was your solution to the problem that did.

    DPD specifically states that you are correct here:

    “Mr. Rifkin is correct to point out flaws in the mental illness system…”

    Here’s the point of departure:

    “Closing down the loony bins didn’t get rid of psychotics. It largely has put them out on the streets, where many become homeless and others wind up in prisons.”

    You explicitly state “it largely has put them out on the streets…”

    Actually it hasn’t largely put them out on the streets.

    That assumption is what is driving the criticism of your column and it also drives your conclusions about how to handle the problem.

  49. Rich Rifkin

    “Actually [deinstitutionalization] hasn’t largely put them out on the streets.”

    If you are saying that I failed to statistically prove that most mental patients who were kept in mental hospitals prior to deinstitutionalization ended up homeless or imprisoned, you are right. I simply stated it and assume it to be a fact.

    I implied (and I believe it is true) that most mentally ill people who are on the streets today would have been institutionalized 40+ years ago.

    According to this website, “800,000 men, women, and children are homeless each night in this nation,” and “About 16% of the homeless in the U.S. have severe chronic mental illness.”

    So, doing the multiplication, that means that there are 128,000 severely mentally ill homeless people in the country right now. (The number is 50% higher if you believe the figures from the NRTCHMI, which I quoted in my column.)

    Back in the 1960s, when we routinely institutionalized the severely mentally ill, I believe virtually all of these 128,000 people would not be on the streets.

    I have no idea how old you are, but if you are in your 40s or more, you will remember that back in the 1960s, we did not have mentally ill people on our streets, certainly not in large numbers. That began in the 1970s, when the institutions were closed and more and more people began slipping through the cracks.

    Here is an interesting quote from Schizophrenia Digest, which I read prior to writing my column, but did not quote from. It is written by a mental patient who also holds advanced degrees in the subject:

    “From my experience in a large institution and my knowledge of the psychiatric sub-culture, many of the seriously ill were better off in the large hospitals than they are living on their own in the community. To say that deinstitutionalization increases community integration is a myth. It is a basic characteristic of those who suffer from severe psychiatric illness to shun society. They are not likely to become integrated into the community at large. On their own, they will isolate themselves in their apartments, or they will huddle in small groups of equally sick psychiatric patients in donut shops. The severely ill need the protective and sheltered artificial community that can be created in a hospital environment. They will be worse off living independently in the community. In a well run and well staffed institution, patients receive support and interaction from qualified and caring professionals and may have access (in larger hospitals) to workshops, gymnasiums and chapels. To suggest that integration into the community improves the health and well being of the mentally and emotionally ill is misleading. In reality, many who live in small group homes, special care homes, or alone do not receive an adequate level of support and interaction with healthy members of society. They do not become actively involved in community programs.”

  50. Rich Rifkin

    “Actually [deinstitutionalization] hasn’t largely put them out on the streets.”

    If you are saying that I failed to statistically prove that most mental patients who were kept in mental hospitals prior to deinstitutionalization ended up homeless or imprisoned, you are right. I simply stated it and assume it to be a fact.

    I implied (and I believe it is true) that most mentally ill people who are on the streets today would have been institutionalized 40+ years ago.

    According to this website, “800,000 men, women, and children are homeless each night in this nation,” and “About 16% of the homeless in the U.S. have severe chronic mental illness.”

    So, doing the multiplication, that means that there are 128,000 severely mentally ill homeless people in the country right now. (The number is 50% higher if you believe the figures from the NRTCHMI, which I quoted in my column.)

    Back in the 1960s, when we routinely institutionalized the severely mentally ill, I believe virtually all of these 128,000 people would not be on the streets.

    I have no idea how old you are, but if you are in your 40s or more, you will remember that back in the 1960s, we did not have mentally ill people on our streets, certainly not in large numbers. That began in the 1970s, when the institutions were closed and more and more people began slipping through the cracks.

    Here is an interesting quote from Schizophrenia Digest, which I read prior to writing my column, but did not quote from. It is written by a mental patient who also holds advanced degrees in the subject:

    “From my experience in a large institution and my knowledge of the psychiatric sub-culture, many of the seriously ill were better off in the large hospitals than they are living on their own in the community. To say that deinstitutionalization increases community integration is a myth. It is a basic characteristic of those who suffer from severe psychiatric illness to shun society. They are not likely to become integrated into the community at large. On their own, they will isolate themselves in their apartments, or they will huddle in small groups of equally sick psychiatric patients in donut shops. The severely ill need the protective and sheltered artificial community that can be created in a hospital environment. They will be worse off living independently in the community. In a well run and well staffed institution, patients receive support and interaction from qualified and caring professionals and may have access (in larger hospitals) to workshops, gymnasiums and chapels. To suggest that integration into the community improves the health and well being of the mentally and emotionally ill is misleading. In reality, many who live in small group homes, special care homes, or alone do not receive an adequate level of support and interaction with healthy members of society. They do not become actively involved in community programs.”

  51. Rich Rifkin

    “Actually [deinstitutionalization] hasn’t largely put them out on the streets.”

    If you are saying that I failed to statistically prove that most mental patients who were kept in mental hospitals prior to deinstitutionalization ended up homeless or imprisoned, you are right. I simply stated it and assume it to be a fact.

    I implied (and I believe it is true) that most mentally ill people who are on the streets today would have been institutionalized 40+ years ago.

    According to this website, “800,000 men, women, and children are homeless each night in this nation,” and “About 16% of the homeless in the U.S. have severe chronic mental illness.”

    So, doing the multiplication, that means that there are 128,000 severely mentally ill homeless people in the country right now. (The number is 50% higher if you believe the figures from the NRTCHMI, which I quoted in my column.)

    Back in the 1960s, when we routinely institutionalized the severely mentally ill, I believe virtually all of these 128,000 people would not be on the streets.

    I have no idea how old you are, but if you are in your 40s or more, you will remember that back in the 1960s, we did not have mentally ill people on our streets, certainly not in large numbers. That began in the 1970s, when the institutions were closed and more and more people began slipping through the cracks.

    Here is an interesting quote from Schizophrenia Digest, which I read prior to writing my column, but did not quote from. It is written by a mental patient who also holds advanced degrees in the subject:

    “From my experience in a large institution and my knowledge of the psychiatric sub-culture, many of the seriously ill were better off in the large hospitals than they are living on their own in the community. To say that deinstitutionalization increases community integration is a myth. It is a basic characteristic of those who suffer from severe psychiatric illness to shun society. They are not likely to become integrated into the community at large. On their own, they will isolate themselves in their apartments, or they will huddle in small groups of equally sick psychiatric patients in donut shops. The severely ill need the protective and sheltered artificial community that can be created in a hospital environment. They will be worse off living independently in the community. In a well run and well staffed institution, patients receive support and interaction from qualified and caring professionals and may have access (in larger hospitals) to workshops, gymnasiums and chapels. To suggest that integration into the community improves the health and well being of the mentally and emotionally ill is misleading. In reality, many who live in small group homes, special care homes, or alone do not receive an adequate level of support and interaction with healthy members of society. They do not become actively involved in community programs.”

  52. Rich Rifkin

    “Actually [deinstitutionalization] hasn’t largely put them out on the streets.”

    If you are saying that I failed to statistically prove that most mental patients who were kept in mental hospitals prior to deinstitutionalization ended up homeless or imprisoned, you are right. I simply stated it and assume it to be a fact.

    I implied (and I believe it is true) that most mentally ill people who are on the streets today would have been institutionalized 40+ years ago.

    According to this website, “800,000 men, women, and children are homeless each night in this nation,” and “About 16% of the homeless in the U.S. have severe chronic mental illness.”

    So, doing the multiplication, that means that there are 128,000 severely mentally ill homeless people in the country right now. (The number is 50% higher if you believe the figures from the NRTCHMI, which I quoted in my column.)

    Back in the 1960s, when we routinely institutionalized the severely mentally ill, I believe virtually all of these 128,000 people would not be on the streets.

    I have no idea how old you are, but if you are in your 40s or more, you will remember that back in the 1960s, we did not have mentally ill people on our streets, certainly not in large numbers. That began in the 1970s, when the institutions were closed and more and more people began slipping through the cracks.

    Here is an interesting quote from Schizophrenia Digest, which I read prior to writing my column, but did not quote from. It is written by a mental patient who also holds advanced degrees in the subject:

    “From my experience in a large institution and my knowledge of the psychiatric sub-culture, many of the seriously ill were better off in the large hospitals than they are living on their own in the community. To say that deinstitutionalization increases community integration is a myth. It is a basic characteristic of those who suffer from severe psychiatric illness to shun society. They are not likely to become integrated into the community at large. On their own, they will isolate themselves in their apartments, or they will huddle in small groups of equally sick psychiatric patients in donut shops. The severely ill need the protective and sheltered artificial community that can be created in a hospital environment. They will be worse off living independently in the community. In a well run and well staffed institution, patients receive support and interaction from qualified and caring professionals and may have access (in larger hospitals) to workshops, gymnasiums and chapels. To suggest that integration into the community improves the health and well being of the mentally and emotionally ill is misleading. In reality, many who live in small group homes, special care homes, or alone do not receive an adequate level of support and interaction with healthy members of society. They do not become actively involved in community programs.”

  53. Rich Rifkin

    This article, which is an extremely interesting account of why some people need to be institutionalized, written by a family member (and really telling the same story as my family could tell about our family member with paranoid schizophrenia), claims that there were 550,000 people in mental hospitals in 1960 and there are 100,000 today. Considering that the U.S. population has doubled, there should be 1,100,000 people in mental hospitals, today, if the percentages were to stay the same. (Of course, medications are far today, and that would account for a large part of the lower numbers, even without deinstitutionalization.) So let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that if there had been no deinstitutionalization, there would be 500,000 patients in mental hospitals, today. It is likely off one way or the other, but it seems like a reasonable number.

    The question then becomes, where are the 400,000 severely mentally ill who are not in mental hospitals but would have been had we had no deinstitutionalization?

    I don’t know for sure. But homelessness — 128,000 on the streets — and imprisonment — roughly 400,000 severely mentally ill people in U.S. prisons, today — would seem to account for a large percentage of those 400,000.

  54. Rich Rifkin

    This article, which is an extremely interesting account of why some people need to be institutionalized, written by a family member (and really telling the same story as my family could tell about our family member with paranoid schizophrenia), claims that there were 550,000 people in mental hospitals in 1960 and there are 100,000 today. Considering that the U.S. population has doubled, there should be 1,100,000 people in mental hospitals, today, if the percentages were to stay the same. (Of course, medications are far today, and that would account for a large part of the lower numbers, even without deinstitutionalization.) So let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that if there had been no deinstitutionalization, there would be 500,000 patients in mental hospitals, today. It is likely off one way or the other, but it seems like a reasonable number.

    The question then becomes, where are the 400,000 severely mentally ill who are not in mental hospitals but would have been had we had no deinstitutionalization?

    I don’t know for sure. But homelessness — 128,000 on the streets — and imprisonment — roughly 400,000 severely mentally ill people in U.S. prisons, today — would seem to account for a large percentage of those 400,000.

  55. Rich Rifkin

    This article, which is an extremely interesting account of why some people need to be institutionalized, written by a family member (and really telling the same story as my family could tell about our family member with paranoid schizophrenia), claims that there were 550,000 people in mental hospitals in 1960 and there are 100,000 today. Considering that the U.S. population has doubled, there should be 1,100,000 people in mental hospitals, today, if the percentages were to stay the same. (Of course, medications are far today, and that would account for a large part of the lower numbers, even without deinstitutionalization.) So let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that if there had been no deinstitutionalization, there would be 500,000 patients in mental hospitals, today. It is likely off one way or the other, but it seems like a reasonable number.

    The question then becomes, where are the 400,000 severely mentally ill who are not in mental hospitals but would have been had we had no deinstitutionalization?

    I don’t know for sure. But homelessness — 128,000 on the streets — and imprisonment — roughly 400,000 severely mentally ill people in U.S. prisons, today — would seem to account for a large percentage of those 400,000.

  56. Rich Rifkin

    This article, which is an extremely interesting account of why some people need to be institutionalized, written by a family member (and really telling the same story as my family could tell about our family member with paranoid schizophrenia), claims that there were 550,000 people in mental hospitals in 1960 and there are 100,000 today. Considering that the U.S. population has doubled, there should be 1,100,000 people in mental hospitals, today, if the percentages were to stay the same. (Of course, medications are far today, and that would account for a large part of the lower numbers, even without deinstitutionalization.) So let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that if there had been no deinstitutionalization, there would be 500,000 patients in mental hospitals, today. It is likely off one way or the other, but it seems like a reasonable number.

    The question then becomes, where are the 400,000 severely mentally ill who are not in mental hospitals but would have been had we had no deinstitutionalization?

    I don’t know for sure. But homelessness — 128,000 on the streets — and imprisonment — roughly 400,000 severely mentally ill people in U.S. prisons, today — would seem to account for a large percentage of those 400,000.

  57. Vincente

    And what you are failing to account for is that a lot of the people who were institutionalized back in the 1960s or before–a sizable percentage of them did not need to be, a sizable percentage of them now would be treatable with modern drugs and wouldn’t need to be institutionalized and are not in fact on the street.

  58. Vincente

    And what you are failing to account for is that a lot of the people who were institutionalized back in the 1960s or before–a sizable percentage of them did not need to be, a sizable percentage of them now would be treatable with modern drugs and wouldn’t need to be institutionalized and are not in fact on the street.

  59. Vincente

    And what you are failing to account for is that a lot of the people who were institutionalized back in the 1960s or before–a sizable percentage of them did not need to be, a sizable percentage of them now would be treatable with modern drugs and wouldn’t need to be institutionalized and are not in fact on the street.

  60. Vincente

    And what you are failing to account for is that a lot of the people who were institutionalized back in the 1960s or before–a sizable percentage of them did not need to be, a sizable percentage of them now would be treatable with modern drugs and wouldn’t need to be institutionalized and are not in fact on the street.

  61. Rich Rifkin

    Here is an interesting observation from that same article I quoted from above by the brother of a patient who could not be held in an institution, but should be:

    “Sadly, much of that drop in mental hospital patients wasn’t because the system is doing so much better of a job. We can see where at least some of those people went — suffering squalid, filthy, and miserable lives under overpasses, pushing all their worldly possessions around in shopping carts, begging in our streets, catching tuberculosis and pneumonia. They die of exposure, of murder, and quite often, when their delusions or their misery become unbearable, they die by their own hand. I have seen the claim that 15% of schizophrenics commit suicide. I don’t know if that is true, but I know some truly tragic stories. My mother has a friend who has two schizophrenic children; her daughter stopped taking her medicine, and was overwhelmed by her illness. She lay down on the railroad tracks near Barstow one night to die — and she did.”

    I should note, anecdotally, that a woman who was a close family friend of ours in Davis died in this exact same way. She was schizophrenic and committed suicide by the train tracks near 8th and H Streets. I have no doubt that this woman, who was very intelligent, would have been better served by being hospitalized, where she could have had full-time care.

    “For almost 20 years now, people calling themselves “homeless advocates” — meaning that they call themselves advocates for the homeless, not they themselves are homeless — have tried to use this tragedy as variously, an indictment of capitalism, Ronald Reagan, or the heartlessness of various city governments. It is clear, from surveys of the homeless, and from my own experience with my brother, as well as talking to and helping homeless people for more than 20 years, that this tragedy is mostly the result of a well-intentioned effort that started in the 1970s, to make it difficult to lock up mentally ill people against their will.

    Look around you in any big city, and you will find enormous numbers of people living on the streets, most of them mentally ill. What sane person would spend a single winter night sleeping on a bus bench if they had any alternative? It will take a psychiatrist to determine exactly what their mental illness is — but in most cases, it doesn’t take professional training to tell that there is something seriously disordered about their minds. A few minutes of conversation is usually quite sufficient.”

  62. Rich Rifkin

    Here is an interesting observation from that same article I quoted from above by the brother of a patient who could not be held in an institution, but should be:

    “Sadly, much of that drop in mental hospital patients wasn’t because the system is doing so much better of a job. We can see where at least some of those people went — suffering squalid, filthy, and miserable lives under overpasses, pushing all their worldly possessions around in shopping carts, begging in our streets, catching tuberculosis and pneumonia. They die of exposure, of murder, and quite often, when their delusions or their misery become unbearable, they die by their own hand. I have seen the claim that 15% of schizophrenics commit suicide. I don’t know if that is true, but I know some truly tragic stories. My mother has a friend who has two schizophrenic children; her daughter stopped taking her medicine, and was overwhelmed by her illness. She lay down on the railroad tracks near Barstow one night to die — and she did.”

    I should note, anecdotally, that a woman who was a close family friend of ours in Davis died in this exact same way. She was schizophrenic and committed suicide by the train tracks near 8th and H Streets. I have no doubt that this woman, who was very intelligent, would have been better served by being hospitalized, where she could have had full-time care.

    “For almost 20 years now, people calling themselves “homeless advocates” — meaning that they call themselves advocates for the homeless, not they themselves are homeless — have tried to use this tragedy as variously, an indictment of capitalism, Ronald Reagan, or the heartlessness of various city governments. It is clear, from surveys of the homeless, and from my own experience with my brother, as well as talking to and helping homeless people for more than 20 years, that this tragedy is mostly the result of a well-intentioned effort that started in the 1970s, to make it difficult to lock up mentally ill people against their will.

    Look around you in any big city, and you will find enormous numbers of people living on the streets, most of them mentally ill. What sane person would spend a single winter night sleeping on a bus bench if they had any alternative? It will take a psychiatrist to determine exactly what their mental illness is — but in most cases, it doesn’t take professional training to tell that there is something seriously disordered about their minds. A few minutes of conversation is usually quite sufficient.”

  63. Rich Rifkin

    Here is an interesting observation from that same article I quoted from above by the brother of a patient who could not be held in an institution, but should be:

    “Sadly, much of that drop in mental hospital patients wasn’t because the system is doing so much better of a job. We can see where at least some of those people went — suffering squalid, filthy, and miserable lives under overpasses, pushing all their worldly possessions around in shopping carts, begging in our streets, catching tuberculosis and pneumonia. They die of exposure, of murder, and quite often, when their delusions or their misery become unbearable, they die by their own hand. I have seen the claim that 15% of schizophrenics commit suicide. I don’t know if that is true, but I know some truly tragic stories. My mother has a friend who has two schizophrenic children; her daughter stopped taking her medicine, and was overwhelmed by her illness. She lay down on the railroad tracks near Barstow one night to die — and she did.”

    I should note, anecdotally, that a woman who was a close family friend of ours in Davis died in this exact same way. She was schizophrenic and committed suicide by the train tracks near 8th and H Streets. I have no doubt that this woman, who was very intelligent, would have been better served by being hospitalized, where she could have had full-time care.

    “For almost 20 years now, people calling themselves “homeless advocates” — meaning that they call themselves advocates for the homeless, not they themselves are homeless — have tried to use this tragedy as variously, an indictment of capitalism, Ronald Reagan, or the heartlessness of various city governments. It is clear, from surveys of the homeless, and from my own experience with my brother, as well as talking to and helping homeless people for more than 20 years, that this tragedy is mostly the result of a well-intentioned effort that started in the 1970s, to make it difficult to lock up mentally ill people against their will.

    Look around you in any big city, and you will find enormous numbers of people living on the streets, most of them mentally ill. What sane person would spend a single winter night sleeping on a bus bench if they had any alternative? It will take a psychiatrist to determine exactly what their mental illness is — but in most cases, it doesn’t take professional training to tell that there is something seriously disordered about their minds. A few minutes of conversation is usually quite sufficient.”

  64. Rich Rifkin

    Here is an interesting observation from that same article I quoted from above by the brother of a patient who could not be held in an institution, but should be:

    “Sadly, much of that drop in mental hospital patients wasn’t because the system is doing so much better of a job. We can see where at least some of those people went — suffering squalid, filthy, and miserable lives under overpasses, pushing all their worldly possessions around in shopping carts, begging in our streets, catching tuberculosis and pneumonia. They die of exposure, of murder, and quite often, when their delusions or their misery become unbearable, they die by their own hand. I have seen the claim that 15% of schizophrenics commit suicide. I don’t know if that is true, but I know some truly tragic stories. My mother has a friend who has two schizophrenic children; her daughter stopped taking her medicine, and was overwhelmed by her illness. She lay down on the railroad tracks near Barstow one night to die — and she did.”

    I should note, anecdotally, that a woman who was a close family friend of ours in Davis died in this exact same way. She was schizophrenic and committed suicide by the train tracks near 8th and H Streets. I have no doubt that this woman, who was very intelligent, would have been better served by being hospitalized, where she could have had full-time care.

    “For almost 20 years now, people calling themselves “homeless advocates” — meaning that they call themselves advocates for the homeless, not they themselves are homeless — have tried to use this tragedy as variously, an indictment of capitalism, Ronald Reagan, or the heartlessness of various city governments. It is clear, from surveys of the homeless, and from my own experience with my brother, as well as talking to and helping homeless people for more than 20 years, that this tragedy is mostly the result of a well-intentioned effort that started in the 1970s, to make it difficult to lock up mentally ill people against their will.

    Look around you in any big city, and you will find enormous numbers of people living on the streets, most of them mentally ill. What sane person would spend a single winter night sleeping on a bus bench if they had any alternative? It will take a psychiatrist to determine exactly what their mental illness is — but in most cases, it doesn’t take professional training to tell that there is something seriously disordered about their minds. A few minutes of conversation is usually quite sufficient.”

  65. Rich Rifkin

    “a sizable percentage of them did not need to be, a sizable percentage of them now would be treatable with modern drugs and wouldn’t need to be institutionalized and are not in fact on the street.”

    I do account for this. Let me quote myself: “Of course, medications are far [better] today, and that would account for a large part of the lower numbers, even without deinstitutionalization.

  66. Rich Rifkin

    “a sizable percentage of them did not need to be, a sizable percentage of them now would be treatable with modern drugs and wouldn’t need to be institutionalized and are not in fact on the street.”

    I do account for this. Let me quote myself: “Of course, medications are far [better] today, and that would account for a large part of the lower numbers, even without deinstitutionalization.

  67. Rich Rifkin

    “a sizable percentage of them did not need to be, a sizable percentage of them now would be treatable with modern drugs and wouldn’t need to be institutionalized and are not in fact on the street.”

    I do account for this. Let me quote myself: “Of course, medications are far [better] today, and that would account for a large part of the lower numbers, even without deinstitutionalization.

  68. Rich Rifkin

    “a sizable percentage of them did not need to be, a sizable percentage of them now would be treatable with modern drugs and wouldn’t need to be institutionalized and are not in fact on the street.”

    I do account for this. Let me quote myself: “Of course, medications are far [better] today, and that would account for a large part of the lower numbers, even without deinstitutionalization.

  69. Rich Rifkin

    I’m sorry to be quoting such long passages, but this one, from that same writer, is really an indictment against the ACLU types, who in my opinion are the most guilty parties when it comes to abusing the homeless mentally ill:

    “Some years ago, when Ed Koch was mayor of New York City, there was a homeless woman living on a steam grate. Her clothes were filthy, covered with excrement; she was clearly insane. Mayor Koch finally became so upset about the continual news coverage of this tragedy that he ordered the police to take her to a mental hospital. They did so. The ACLU, incensed at this high-handed treatment of a homeless person, filed suit. While the lawyers filed briefs, and the judges pondered the question of due process, the mental hospital treated her.

    By the time the courts ordered her release, some time later, she was no longer incoherent. The lawyers doing this fine work for the ACLU hired her to work as a receptionist in their office. Eventually, the ACLU won a resounding victory for the Constitution, due process, and, in their eyes, for this homeless woman. The appellate court judges that heard the case decided that forcing her into a mental hospital denied the basic human dignity to make our own decisions.

    That’s not the end of the story, however. After a few months of not taking her medicine, this woman again became delusional. She started to act strangely enough that the lawyers finally had to let her go. Newspaper reporters were still following the case; and the last act I saw reported in this tragedy was that she was back on the steam grate, defecating in her pants. Isn’t human dignity wonderful?”

  70. Rich Rifkin

    I’m sorry to be quoting such long passages, but this one, from that same writer, is really an indictment against the ACLU types, who in my opinion are the most guilty parties when it comes to abusing the homeless mentally ill:

    “Some years ago, when Ed Koch was mayor of New York City, there was a homeless woman living on a steam grate. Her clothes were filthy, covered with excrement; she was clearly insane. Mayor Koch finally became so upset about the continual news coverage of this tragedy that he ordered the police to take her to a mental hospital. They did so. The ACLU, incensed at this high-handed treatment of a homeless person, filed suit. While the lawyers filed briefs, and the judges pondered the question of due process, the mental hospital treated her.

    By the time the courts ordered her release, some time later, she was no longer incoherent. The lawyers doing this fine work for the ACLU hired her to work as a receptionist in their office. Eventually, the ACLU won a resounding victory for the Constitution, due process, and, in their eyes, for this homeless woman. The appellate court judges that heard the case decided that forcing her into a mental hospital denied the basic human dignity to make our own decisions.

    That’s not the end of the story, however. After a few months of not taking her medicine, this woman again became delusional. She started to act strangely enough that the lawyers finally had to let her go. Newspaper reporters were still following the case; and the last act I saw reported in this tragedy was that she was back on the steam grate, defecating in her pants. Isn’t human dignity wonderful?”

  71. Rich Rifkin

    I’m sorry to be quoting such long passages, but this one, from that same writer, is really an indictment against the ACLU types, who in my opinion are the most guilty parties when it comes to abusing the homeless mentally ill:

    “Some years ago, when Ed Koch was mayor of New York City, there was a homeless woman living on a steam grate. Her clothes were filthy, covered with excrement; she was clearly insane. Mayor Koch finally became so upset about the continual news coverage of this tragedy that he ordered the police to take her to a mental hospital. They did so. The ACLU, incensed at this high-handed treatment of a homeless person, filed suit. While the lawyers filed briefs, and the judges pondered the question of due process, the mental hospital treated her.

    By the time the courts ordered her release, some time later, she was no longer incoherent. The lawyers doing this fine work for the ACLU hired her to work as a receptionist in their office. Eventually, the ACLU won a resounding victory for the Constitution, due process, and, in their eyes, for this homeless woman. The appellate court judges that heard the case decided that forcing her into a mental hospital denied the basic human dignity to make our own decisions.

    That’s not the end of the story, however. After a few months of not taking her medicine, this woman again became delusional. She started to act strangely enough that the lawyers finally had to let her go. Newspaper reporters were still following the case; and the last act I saw reported in this tragedy was that she was back on the steam grate, defecating in her pants. Isn’t human dignity wonderful?”

  72. Rich Rifkin

    I’m sorry to be quoting such long passages, but this one, from that same writer, is really an indictment against the ACLU types, who in my opinion are the most guilty parties when it comes to abusing the homeless mentally ill:

    “Some years ago, when Ed Koch was mayor of New York City, there was a homeless woman living on a steam grate. Her clothes were filthy, covered with excrement; she was clearly insane. Mayor Koch finally became so upset about the continual news coverage of this tragedy that he ordered the police to take her to a mental hospital. They did so. The ACLU, incensed at this high-handed treatment of a homeless person, filed suit. While the lawyers filed briefs, and the judges pondered the question of due process, the mental hospital treated her.

    By the time the courts ordered her release, some time later, she was no longer incoherent. The lawyers doing this fine work for the ACLU hired her to work as a receptionist in their office. Eventually, the ACLU won a resounding victory for the Constitution, due process, and, in their eyes, for this homeless woman. The appellate court judges that heard the case decided that forcing her into a mental hospital denied the basic human dignity to make our own decisions.

    That’s not the end of the story, however. After a few months of not taking her medicine, this woman again became delusional. She started to act strangely enough that the lawyers finally had to let her go. Newspaper reporters were still following the case; and the last act I saw reported in this tragedy was that she was back on the steam grate, defecating in her pants. Isn’t human dignity wonderful?”

  73. Sharla

    This IS life.

    I finally took the time to read Rich’s answer to DPD.

    Sifting through the antagonistic comments directed toward his critics, there is evidence of real concern about the care, or lack of, the mentally ill. I can imagine the frustration of watching someone you care about continue to make poor decisions about their life and health and not be able to do anything effective to stop them.

    I believe that you can’t force someone to accept health care, unless their illness causes a threat to the broader community. As long as the person is not a substantial threat, forced treatment is very dangerous.

    So my example of the local person who has a history of stalking and making violent threats – this is something that should be controlled and their threatening behavior is something that the Courts can address.

    Just having a mental illness is not a crime that would warrant taking away someone’s freedom and “punishing” them with psychiatry or forced drugging. Some mentally ill people often end up in Court due to nuisance crimes – loitering, illegal camping, substance abuse,etc. but, however well-intended, Rich’s suggestion of involuntary care which limits a person’s right to move freely and make decisions about the direction of their life – however limited – should only be reserved for those who are anti-social and a true danger to others.

  74. Rebecca

    I would think that because there are so many varied types of disorders that not Everyone should be forced to get medical attention for “the rest of his life.” Temporary disorders, Anxiety, or mild depression might be examples where one would not need forced treatment. Forced treatment might also contribute to the continuation of some mild disorders. The stress of being forced to get medical attention for example.
    I hope there is or will be a database connection between the people who have serious mental illness of a violent nature and that of the background check for gun purchases.
    Rebecca
    I think that

  75. Sharla

    This IS life.

    I finally took the time to read Rich’s answer to DPD.

    Sifting through the antagonistic comments directed toward his critics, there is evidence of real concern about the care, or lack of, the mentally ill. I can imagine the frustration of watching someone you care about continue to make poor decisions about their life and health and not be able to do anything effective to stop them.

    I believe that you can’t force someone to accept health care, unless their illness causes a threat to the broader community. As long as the person is not a substantial threat, forced treatment is very dangerous.

    So my example of the local person who has a history of stalking and making violent threats – this is something that should be controlled and their threatening behavior is something that the Courts can address.

    Just having a mental illness is not a crime that would warrant taking away someone’s freedom and “punishing” them with psychiatry or forced drugging. Some mentally ill people often end up in Court due to nuisance crimes – loitering, illegal camping, substance abuse,etc. but, however well-intended, Rich’s suggestion of involuntary care which limits a person’s right to move freely and make decisions about the direction of their life – however limited – should only be reserved for those who are anti-social and a true danger to others.

  76. Rebecca

    I would think that because there are so many varied types of disorders that not Everyone should be forced to get medical attention for “the rest of his life.” Temporary disorders, Anxiety, or mild depression might be examples where one would not need forced treatment. Forced treatment might also contribute to the continuation of some mild disorders. The stress of being forced to get medical attention for example.
    I hope there is or will be a database connection between the people who have serious mental illness of a violent nature and that of the background check for gun purchases.
    Rebecca
    I think that

  77. Sharla

    This IS life.

    I finally took the time to read Rich’s answer to DPD.

    Sifting through the antagonistic comments directed toward his critics, there is evidence of real concern about the care, or lack of, the mentally ill. I can imagine the frustration of watching someone you care about continue to make poor decisions about their life and health and not be able to do anything effective to stop them.

    I believe that you can’t force someone to accept health care, unless their illness causes a threat to the broader community. As long as the person is not a substantial threat, forced treatment is very dangerous.

    So my example of the local person who has a history of stalking and making violent threats – this is something that should be controlled and their threatening behavior is something that the Courts can address.

    Just having a mental illness is not a crime that would warrant taking away someone’s freedom and “punishing” them with psychiatry or forced drugging. Some mentally ill people often end up in Court due to nuisance crimes – loitering, illegal camping, substance abuse,etc. but, however well-intended, Rich’s suggestion of involuntary care which limits a person’s right to move freely and make decisions about the direction of their life – however limited – should only be reserved for those who are anti-social and a true danger to others.

  78. Rebecca

    I would think that because there are so many varied types of disorders that not Everyone should be forced to get medical attention for “the rest of his life.” Temporary disorders, Anxiety, or mild depression might be examples where one would not need forced treatment. Forced treatment might also contribute to the continuation of some mild disorders. The stress of being forced to get medical attention for example.
    I hope there is or will be a database connection between the people who have serious mental illness of a violent nature and that of the background check for gun purchases.
    Rebecca
    I think that

  79. Sharla

    This IS life.

    I finally took the time to read Rich’s answer to DPD.

    Sifting through the antagonistic comments directed toward his critics, there is evidence of real concern about the care, or lack of, the mentally ill. I can imagine the frustration of watching someone you care about continue to make poor decisions about their life and health and not be able to do anything effective to stop them.

    I believe that you can’t force someone to accept health care, unless their illness causes a threat to the broader community. As long as the person is not a substantial threat, forced treatment is very dangerous.

    So my example of the local person who has a history of stalking and making violent threats – this is something that should be controlled and their threatening behavior is something that the Courts can address.

    Just having a mental illness is not a crime that would warrant taking away someone’s freedom and “punishing” them with psychiatry or forced drugging. Some mentally ill people often end up in Court due to nuisance crimes – loitering, illegal camping, substance abuse,etc. but, however well-intended, Rich’s suggestion of involuntary care which limits a person’s right to move freely and make decisions about the direction of their life – however limited – should only be reserved for those who are anti-social and a true danger to others.

  80. Rebecca

    I would think that because there are so many varied types of disorders that not Everyone should be forced to get medical attention for “the rest of his life.” Temporary disorders, Anxiety, or mild depression might be examples where one would not need forced treatment. Forced treatment might also contribute to the continuation of some mild disorders. The stress of being forced to get medical attention for example.
    I hope there is or will be a database connection between the people who have serious mental illness of a violent nature and that of the background check for gun purchases.
    Rebecca
    I think that

  81. Rich Rifkin

    “Rich’s suggestion of involuntary care which limits a person’s right to move freely and make decisions about the direction of their life – however limited – should only be reserved for those who are anti-social and a true danger to others.”

    Here is obviously where we disagree. And very strongly so. You are treating a person who is biologically incapable of making reasonable decisions as ‘a regular adult.’ By doing so, you are condemning such a person to the fortunes of the woman living on the crate, I referred to above. That strikes me as horribly inhumane and cruel and uncaring. It’s the love of an idea — free choice — over the love of a real human being. I find it amoral in the extreme.

    Rebecca: “I would think that because there are so many varied types of disorders that not Everyone should be forced to get medical attention for ‘the rest of his life.'”

    Of course. I’m not talking about mild disorders or diseases where a person, despite the ailment, can still make rational decisions. I am talking about severe psychiatric illnesses. For many people, these illnesses are treatable or at least treatable to the extent that drugs will make the person’s life much better, if not perfect. But at the same time, regardless of the treatability, these are the kind of diseases that, when untreated, get much, much worse. And because of that, the treatments need to go on for a lifetime; and because they take away a person’s rational cognitive function, the choice for treatment must be made by a qualified psychiatrist, not the patient himself. That sounds authoritarian. However, we know from experience that people with severe psychiatric diseases do not make good choices for their own health, because they are not capable of doing so.

  82. Rich Rifkin

    “Rich’s suggestion of involuntary care which limits a person’s right to move freely and make decisions about the direction of their life – however limited – should only be reserved for those who are anti-social and a true danger to others.”

    Here is obviously where we disagree. And very strongly so. You are treating a person who is biologically incapable of making reasonable decisions as ‘a regular adult.’ By doing so, you are condemning such a person to the fortunes of the woman living on the crate, I referred to above. That strikes me as horribly inhumane and cruel and uncaring. It’s the love of an idea — free choice — over the love of a real human being. I find it amoral in the extreme.

    Rebecca: “I would think that because there are so many varied types of disorders that not Everyone should be forced to get medical attention for ‘the rest of his life.'”

    Of course. I’m not talking about mild disorders or diseases where a person, despite the ailment, can still make rational decisions. I am talking about severe psychiatric illnesses. For many people, these illnesses are treatable or at least treatable to the extent that drugs will make the person’s life much better, if not perfect. But at the same time, regardless of the treatability, these are the kind of diseases that, when untreated, get much, much worse. And because of that, the treatments need to go on for a lifetime; and because they take away a person’s rational cognitive function, the choice for treatment must be made by a qualified psychiatrist, not the patient himself. That sounds authoritarian. However, we know from experience that people with severe psychiatric diseases do not make good choices for their own health, because they are not capable of doing so.

  83. Rich Rifkin

    “Rich’s suggestion of involuntary care which limits a person’s right to move freely and make decisions about the direction of their life – however limited – should only be reserved for those who are anti-social and a true danger to others.”

    Here is obviously where we disagree. And very strongly so. You are treating a person who is biologically incapable of making reasonable decisions as ‘a regular adult.’ By doing so, you are condemning such a person to the fortunes of the woman living on the crate, I referred to above. That strikes me as horribly inhumane and cruel and uncaring. It’s the love of an idea — free choice — over the love of a real human being. I find it amoral in the extreme.

    Rebecca: “I would think that because there are so many varied types of disorders that not Everyone should be forced to get medical attention for ‘the rest of his life.'”

    Of course. I’m not talking about mild disorders or diseases where a person, despite the ailment, can still make rational decisions. I am talking about severe psychiatric illnesses. For many people, these illnesses are treatable or at least treatable to the extent that drugs will make the person’s life much better, if not perfect. But at the same time, regardless of the treatability, these are the kind of diseases that, when untreated, get much, much worse. And because of that, the treatments need to go on for a lifetime; and because they take away a person’s rational cognitive function, the choice for treatment must be made by a qualified psychiatrist, not the patient himself. That sounds authoritarian. However, we know from experience that people with severe psychiatric diseases do not make good choices for their own health, because they are not capable of doing so.

  84. Rich Rifkin

    “Rich’s suggestion of involuntary care which limits a person’s right to move freely and make decisions about the direction of their life – however limited – should only be reserved for those who are anti-social and a true danger to others.”

    Here is obviously where we disagree. And very strongly so. You are treating a person who is biologically incapable of making reasonable decisions as ‘a regular adult.’ By doing so, you are condemning such a person to the fortunes of the woman living on the crate, I referred to above. That strikes me as horribly inhumane and cruel and uncaring. It’s the love of an idea — free choice — over the love of a real human being. I find it amoral in the extreme.

    Rebecca: “I would think that because there are so many varied types of disorders that not Everyone should be forced to get medical attention for ‘the rest of his life.'”

    Of course. I’m not talking about mild disorders or diseases where a person, despite the ailment, can still make rational decisions. I am talking about severe psychiatric illnesses. For many people, these illnesses are treatable or at least treatable to the extent that drugs will make the person’s life much better, if not perfect. But at the same time, regardless of the treatability, these are the kind of diseases that, when untreated, get much, much worse. And because of that, the treatments need to go on for a lifetime; and because they take away a person’s rational cognitive function, the choice for treatment must be made by a qualified psychiatrist, not the patient himself. That sounds authoritarian. However, we know from experience that people with severe psychiatric diseases do not make good choices for their own health, because they are not capable of doing so.

  85. Sharla

    Rich, This is very valuable to narrow down where we disagree. Again, I see your concern. You must agree that there are degrees of mental illness and there must be a clearly determined point where the individual’s personal rights are suspended or abuse will occur. This is where criminal behavior in the community becomes a factor and why there is such a push for Mental Health courts to offer help to these individuals instead of mere incarceration. The problem with forcing mental health care (or any health care) on someone willy-nilly is that we would be placing incredible power in the hands of another. Where would the check on that power come from? Who is to say what a good life or perfect life is? This is the mental health field’s challenge – to make receiving services clearly a better avenue. Medications have side effects that can be perceived to be just as bad. You have to wonder why people, who do well on medications, go off of them.

  86. Sharla

    Rich, This is very valuable to narrow down where we disagree. Again, I see your concern. You must agree that there are degrees of mental illness and there must be a clearly determined point where the individual’s personal rights are suspended or abuse will occur. This is where criminal behavior in the community becomes a factor and why there is such a push for Mental Health courts to offer help to these individuals instead of mere incarceration. The problem with forcing mental health care (or any health care) on someone willy-nilly is that we would be placing incredible power in the hands of another. Where would the check on that power come from? Who is to say what a good life or perfect life is? This is the mental health field’s challenge – to make receiving services clearly a better avenue. Medications have side effects that can be perceived to be just as bad. You have to wonder why people, who do well on medications, go off of them.

  87. Sharla

    Rich, This is very valuable to narrow down where we disagree. Again, I see your concern. You must agree that there are degrees of mental illness and there must be a clearly determined point where the individual’s personal rights are suspended or abuse will occur. This is where criminal behavior in the community becomes a factor and why there is such a push for Mental Health courts to offer help to these individuals instead of mere incarceration. The problem with forcing mental health care (or any health care) on someone willy-nilly is that we would be placing incredible power in the hands of another. Where would the check on that power come from? Who is to say what a good life or perfect life is? This is the mental health field’s challenge – to make receiving services clearly a better avenue. Medications have side effects that can be perceived to be just as bad. You have to wonder why people, who do well on medications, go off of them.

  88. Sharla

    Rich, This is very valuable to narrow down where we disagree. Again, I see your concern. You must agree that there are degrees of mental illness and there must be a clearly determined point where the individual’s personal rights are suspended or abuse will occur. This is where criminal behavior in the community becomes a factor and why there is such a push for Mental Health courts to offer help to these individuals instead of mere incarceration. The problem with forcing mental health care (or any health care) on someone willy-nilly is that we would be placing incredible power in the hands of another. Where would the check on that power come from? Who is to say what a good life or perfect life is? This is the mental health field’s challenge – to make receiving services clearly a better avenue. Medications have side effects that can be perceived to be just as bad. You have to wonder why people, who do well on medications, go off of them.

  89. Rich Rifkin

    Sharla,

    First, you know that it is obnoxious every time you say, “I see that you care.” Of course I care. You don’t have to state the obvious.

    You write: “The problem with forcing mental health care (or any health care) on someone willy-nilly is that we would be placing incredible power in the hands of another.”

    Willy-nilly? No, it would never be done willy-nilly. It would be done only upon the determination and diagnosis of qualified psychiatrists.

    Yes, it is placing power in the hands of another — in this case, qualified medical doctors.

    “Where would the check on that power come from?”

    It would come from our courts. A judge would appoint the psychiatrists to diagnose the disease. In cases where the patient had family who could take care of him, then the decision would be left to the family. In cases where the patient had no family, it would be left to a public guardian.

    What you may not realize is that now, because of our idiotic “free choice” system, families cannot force their psychotic loved ones to take their medicines, and hence are powerless when the victim of mental illness gets sicker and sicker and his life goes down the drain. I would, after a professional diagnosis, largely give the power to the family to be able to care for their loved one, as they and his doctors see fit.

    “Who is to say what a good life or perfect life is?”

    Let’s start with people who are sane.

    “You have to wonder why people, who do well on medications, go off of them.”

    They make terrible decisions, Sharla, because they are non compos mentis. You sound as if you’ve never had a loved one go through this. I have. And it’s rather obvious that people with severe mental illnesses cannot make good decisions about their own health care. Yes, there are bad side effects of some anti-psychotic meds. My family member with schizophrenia felt so groggy on his meds, that he could not work. He was a homebuilder, and he could not operate machinery. So, because he was not forced to take his meds, he stopped taking them. And the result was, metaphorically, a descent into hell over almost 10 years that he will likely never emerge from. I just pray that he doesn’t kill someone, before he kills himself.

  90. Rich Rifkin

    Sharla,

    First, you know that it is obnoxious every time you say, “I see that you care.” Of course I care. You don’t have to state the obvious.

    You write: “The problem with forcing mental health care (or any health care) on someone willy-nilly is that we would be placing incredible power in the hands of another.”

    Willy-nilly? No, it would never be done willy-nilly. It would be done only upon the determination and diagnosis of qualified psychiatrists.

    Yes, it is placing power in the hands of another — in this case, qualified medical doctors.

    “Where would the check on that power come from?”

    It would come from our courts. A judge would appoint the psychiatrists to diagnose the disease. In cases where the patient had family who could take care of him, then the decision would be left to the family. In cases where the patient had no family, it would be left to a public guardian.

    What you may not realize is that now, because of our idiotic “free choice” system, families cannot force their psychotic loved ones to take their medicines, and hence are powerless when the victim of mental illness gets sicker and sicker and his life goes down the drain. I would, after a professional diagnosis, largely give the power to the family to be able to care for their loved one, as they and his doctors see fit.

    “Who is to say what a good life or perfect life is?”

    Let’s start with people who are sane.

    “You have to wonder why people, who do well on medications, go off of them.”

    They make terrible decisions, Sharla, because they are non compos mentis. You sound as if you’ve never had a loved one go through this. I have. And it’s rather obvious that people with severe mental illnesses cannot make good decisions about their own health care. Yes, there are bad side effects of some anti-psychotic meds. My family member with schizophrenia felt so groggy on his meds, that he could not work. He was a homebuilder, and he could not operate machinery. So, because he was not forced to take his meds, he stopped taking them. And the result was, metaphorically, a descent into hell over almost 10 years that he will likely never emerge from. I just pray that he doesn’t kill someone, before he kills himself.

  91. Rich Rifkin

    Sharla,

    First, you know that it is obnoxious every time you say, “I see that you care.” Of course I care. You don’t have to state the obvious.

    You write: “The problem with forcing mental health care (or any health care) on someone willy-nilly is that we would be placing incredible power in the hands of another.”

    Willy-nilly? No, it would never be done willy-nilly. It would be done only upon the determination and diagnosis of qualified psychiatrists.

    Yes, it is placing power in the hands of another — in this case, qualified medical doctors.

    “Where would the check on that power come from?”

    It would come from our courts. A judge would appoint the psychiatrists to diagnose the disease. In cases where the patient had family who could take care of him, then the decision would be left to the family. In cases where the patient had no family, it would be left to a public guardian.

    What you may not realize is that now, because of our idiotic “free choice” system, families cannot force their psychotic loved ones to take their medicines, and hence are powerless when the victim of mental illness gets sicker and sicker and his life goes down the drain. I would, after a professional diagnosis, largely give the power to the family to be able to care for their loved one, as they and his doctors see fit.

    “Who is to say what a good life or perfect life is?”

    Let’s start with people who are sane.

    “You have to wonder why people, who do well on medications, go off of them.”

    They make terrible decisions, Sharla, because they are non compos mentis. You sound as if you’ve never had a loved one go through this. I have. And it’s rather obvious that people with severe mental illnesses cannot make good decisions about their own health care. Yes, there are bad side effects of some anti-psychotic meds. My family member with schizophrenia felt so groggy on his meds, that he could not work. He was a homebuilder, and he could not operate machinery. So, because he was not forced to take his meds, he stopped taking them. And the result was, metaphorically, a descent into hell over almost 10 years that he will likely never emerge from. I just pray that he doesn’t kill someone, before he kills himself.

  92. Rich Rifkin

    Sharla,

    First, you know that it is obnoxious every time you say, “I see that you care.” Of course I care. You don’t have to state the obvious.

    You write: “The problem with forcing mental health care (or any health care) on someone willy-nilly is that we would be placing incredible power in the hands of another.”

    Willy-nilly? No, it would never be done willy-nilly. It would be done only upon the determination and diagnosis of qualified psychiatrists.

    Yes, it is placing power in the hands of another — in this case, qualified medical doctors.

    “Where would the check on that power come from?”

    It would come from our courts. A judge would appoint the psychiatrists to diagnose the disease. In cases where the patient had family who could take care of him, then the decision would be left to the family. In cases where the patient had no family, it would be left to a public guardian.

    What you may not realize is that now, because of our idiotic “free choice” system, families cannot force their psychotic loved ones to take their medicines, and hence are powerless when the victim of mental illness gets sicker and sicker and his life goes down the drain. I would, after a professional diagnosis, largely give the power to the family to be able to care for their loved one, as they and his doctors see fit.

    “Who is to say what a good life or perfect life is?”

    Let’s start with people who are sane.

    “You have to wonder why people, who do well on medications, go off of them.”

    They make terrible decisions, Sharla, because they are non compos mentis. You sound as if you’ve never had a loved one go through this. I have. And it’s rather obvious that people with severe mental illnesses cannot make good decisions about their own health care. Yes, there are bad side effects of some anti-psychotic meds. My family member with schizophrenia felt so groggy on his meds, that he could not work. He was a homebuilder, and he could not operate machinery. So, because he was not forced to take his meds, he stopped taking them. And the result was, metaphorically, a descent into hell over almost 10 years that he will likely never emerge from. I just pray that he doesn’t kill someone, before he kills himself.

  93. Anonymous

    Dear Rich Rifkin,

    For someone who continues to claim that they are not prejudiced you sure seem to be drawing the same fire over and over again. I’ve never met anybody who claimed they were prejudiced but I’ve met many people who have prejudices. Since you keep getting the label maybe you ought to get over analysing everyone else and do some analysis of yourself.

  94. Anonymous

    Dear Rich Rifkin,

    For someone who continues to claim that they are not prejudiced you sure seem to be drawing the same fire over and over again. I’ve never met anybody who claimed they were prejudiced but I’ve met many people who have prejudices. Since you keep getting the label maybe you ought to get over analysing everyone else and do some analysis of yourself.

  95. Anonymous

    Dear Rich Rifkin,

    For someone who continues to claim that they are not prejudiced you sure seem to be drawing the same fire over and over again. I’ve never met anybody who claimed they were prejudiced but I’ve met many people who have prejudices. Since you keep getting the label maybe you ought to get over analysing everyone else and do some analysis of yourself.

  96. Anonymous

    Dear Rich Rifkin,

    For someone who continues to claim that they are not prejudiced you sure seem to be drawing the same fire over and over again. I’ve never met anybody who claimed they were prejudiced but I’ve met many people who have prejudices. Since you keep getting the label maybe you ought to get over analysing everyone else and do some analysis of yourself.

  97. Rich Rifkin

    Since you keep getting the label maybe you ought to get over analysing everyone else and do some analysis of yourself.

    I think it’s quite the opposite. The people who are always accusing others of ‘fearmongering’ and prejudice seem to be the real bigots among us. How else would you explain the fact that they toss these allegations at a person they do not know.

    No one who knows me would ever make your accusations. That is all that is important to me.

  98. Rich Rifkin

    Since you keep getting the label maybe you ought to get over analysing everyone else and do some analysis of yourself.

    I think it’s quite the opposite. The people who are always accusing others of ‘fearmongering’ and prejudice seem to be the real bigots among us. How else would you explain the fact that they toss these allegations at a person they do not know.

    No one who knows me would ever make your accusations. That is all that is important to me.

  99. Rich Rifkin

    Since you keep getting the label maybe you ought to get over analysing everyone else and do some analysis of yourself.

    I think it’s quite the opposite. The people who are always accusing others of ‘fearmongering’ and prejudice seem to be the real bigots among us. How else would you explain the fact that they toss these allegations at a person they do not know.

    No one who knows me would ever make your accusations. That is all that is important to me.

  100. Rich Rifkin

    Since you keep getting the label maybe you ought to get over analysing everyone else and do some analysis of yourself.

    I think it’s quite the opposite. The people who are always accusing others of ‘fearmongering’ and prejudice seem to be the real bigots among us. How else would you explain the fact that they toss these allegations at a person they do not know.

    No one who knows me would ever make your accusations. That is all that is important to me.

  101. Anonymous

    Posting as Anonymous may be therapeutic for those who have difficulty viewing issues except through the looking-glass of their own egos.

  102. Anonymous

    Posting as Anonymous may be therapeutic for those who have difficulty viewing issues except through the looking-glass of their own egos.

  103. Anonymous

    Posting as Anonymous may be therapeutic for those who have difficulty viewing issues except through the looking-glass of their own egos.

  104. Anonymous

    Posting as Anonymous may be therapeutic for those who have difficulty viewing issues except through the looking-glass of their own egos.

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