The Fraudulent Diagnosis for Mass Murderers; 'Mental illnessAAE Is a Metaphor, Not a Predictor

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Fraudulent Diagnosis for Mass Murderers; 'Mental illnessAAE Is a Metaphor, Not a Predictor


Byline: Richard E. Vatz, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The New York Times in More Diagnoses of A.D.H.D. Causing Concern, published April 1, has discovered what some of us have been saying for decades: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis is a function of interpreting mild [behavioral] symptoms, not pathological findings of disease.

So it is with all mental illness, including that which some politicians and opportunistic psychiatrists want to use to scare the public into believing that we can prevent mass murders through better diagnosing of sufferers.

National, state and local legislators in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., are all abuzz over the prospect of stopping such people as Adam Lanza by preventive diagnosis and possible preventive detention.

If my late friend, eminent psychiatric critic Dr. Thomas Szasz, were alive today and read about all of the references to mental illnesses and mental health as a way to lessen the number of mass killings, he would say, Am I surprised? No, of course not. This is a way to pretend that evil does not motivate such atrocities and a way for politicians to act as if they have discovered a way to stop them.

As Szasz wrote tirelessly in scores of books and thousands of articles, mental illness is a metaphor. Its prolific usage is a verbal way to throw up our hands and bewail the fact that the human condition includes violence Au and there will always be violent people Au while claiming that there is a way to prevent the made-up disease that causes it.

The Sandy Hook murderer, 20-year-old Lanza, is thought to have viewed killing as a contest, wherein he wanted to kill more people or commit a more memorable crime than Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in a shooting and bomb attack in Norway two years ago, and Seung-hui Cho, the mass murderer at Virginia Tech.

Throughout our society, immediate calls for gun control and more expensive control of the mentally ill abound.

What is mental illness? There are hundreds of categories of mental disorders, categories, incidentally, that do not include mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association. …

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