August 15, 2012
(special to the New York Times)
The American Psychiatric Association announced yesterday that rigorous scientific analysis of the newly adopted fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, often called its “diagnostic bible” and itself promulgated after rigorous scientific analysis, revealed that over 300 million Americans, or 95 per cent of the U.S. population, suffer from mental illness. The organization’s newly elected president, noted Harvard child psychiatrist Dr. Joeph Biederman, urged the country to “set other, petty concerns aside, and rally to ensure that these poor sick people get the help they so desperately need. Our rigorous scientific analysis tells us this is a problem that must not be ignored.”
The announcement threw the government into immediate crisis mode. Both President Obama and his Republican opponent in the presidential election, Mitt Romney, conceded that the newly discovered mental health crisis had to be addressed immediately. Mr.Obama said, ”You can’t argue with science,” and called on all Americans to support the “war on mental illness” that would have to be fought.
Mr. Romney issued a statement that read in part, ”This is real…But the crisis would never have happened but for President Obama’s reckless tax and spend policies. As President, I will use my business experience to solve this problem.”
U.S. Senator Paul Windebotham (D-Minnesota), chair of the Senate Special Committee on Mental Health, announced that his committee will hold immediate hearings on what he called “the gravest mental health crisis this country has ever faced.” Mr. Windebotham, a member of the National Alliance for Mental Illness and a noted advocate for more mental health funding, said, ”We must do all we can to assure that these poor sick people get the help they so desperately need.”
But economic advisors to the president warned that the cost of treating so many mentally ill patients would likely cause the American economy to go back into recession or worse.
Meanwhile, psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey of the Treatment Advocacy Center, known for his support of the right of psychiatric patients to be treated without their consent, said that, “Three hundred million untreated mentally ill people allowed to walk the streets means three hundred million walking time bombs that might explode at any minute.” He called on the president to use the army to round up any untreated patients and take them to treatment centers “where they can receive the medications they so desperately need.”
According to Dr. Torrey, “This is not the time to be concerned with the trivial niceties of ‘constitutional rights’ when our country’s survival is at stake. This problem could have been averted, were it not for misguided civil libertarians who don’t recognize that the only important right for mentally ill people is their right to treatment.”
However, a meeting of the National Security Council convened by the president ruled out the use of the army, since over ninety-five percent of the soldiers would also be mentally ill.
GlaxoNovartisPfizerLillyMerck, the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer and the owner of the psychiatric association, pointed out that this newly discovered crisis meant that the U.S. would be facing an unprecedented shortage of psychiatric drugs. But it pledged that it would do its part to produce the needed medications, provided that certain safety regulations were suspended and no taxes were levied on any profits it might make. The new CEO of the company, Ted Chabasinski, J.D., whose appointment last week shocked the business and mental health communities, suggested that the government enter into a “cost plus” arrangement used in previous wars, where companies were paid their cost plus a certain amount beyond cost, in this case, five hundred percent.
Mr. Chabasinski said that the company wanted to be a good corporate citizen, and realized its obligation to do its part to help deal with the crisis. “We recognize that all of us, no matter how much of a sacrifice it may be, must pitch in to make sure these poor sick people get the help they so desperately need.”
Meanwhile, Bob DeMent (R-Miss.), speaker of the House of Representatives, said his party was willing to make compromises to address the crisis. He proposed that the money to purchase the necessary medications be found by stopping all federal payments for education, food aid, unemployment insurance, Social Security, and Medicare, and reducing all taxes to zero on corporations and people earning more than $1,000,000. “These socialist giveaway programs only benefit useless eaters anyway. This way, we can help our patriotic corporations while making sure these millions of poor sick people get the help they so desperately need.”
Representative DeMent said he was willing to work with the Democrats to address this issue, in spite of the fact that many members of his party believe that the real problem facing the country is not mental illness, but witchcraft.
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