Lieberman Claims Mass Shooters are Untreated Mentally Ill in the ‘Times


Jeffrey Lieberman, past-president of the American Psychiatric Association, authored an Op-Ed in last Friday’s New York Times, calling for improved mental health screenings in schools and emergency rooms in the wake of the murder of Virginia journalists Alison Park and Adam Ward. In support of forced treatment mechanisms, Lieberman claims: “Almost every mentally ill perpetrator of mass violence had been symptomatic and untreated for lengthy periods of time before their crime, because they (or their families) did not seek treatment or they refused it.”

However, research on treatment-related-activation, by David Healy and others, has documented numerous cases of mass killings by those currently undergoing psychopharmacological treatment.  This research has also examined the possibility of drug-induced violence by those exposed to psychotropic medications shortly prior to the killings and going through drug withdrawal.

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  1. Well, Lieberman recently started following Donald Trump on Twitter. That does not surprise me in the least. I’d love to see the two of them at a speaking engagement toegther so I could here more from these two entertaining men. As Lieberman states: “I’ve treated thousands of patients with serious mental illness over my 30-year career and consulted on too many such criminal cases.” What further endorsement do we require? Who can argue with that? Sounds a lot like Donald Trump’s self endorsements.

    I do not think I have ever heard anyone who spoke with more hubris than Lieberman except maybe Donald Trump whose “Final Solution” is not so incompatible with the “The New World Order According to Lieberman”. In response to the Virginia shooting where the reporters were killed recently, he said, “In the [good] old days they had mental institutions for people like this because [Bryce Williams] was really, definitely borderline and definitely would have been and should have been institutionalized.” Apparently, Trump has been taking talking points from Lieberman.

    Lieberman and Trump love to point the finger at individuals rather than society. They like seemingly simple and straightforward solutions, which are really just ‘reactionary’ like drugging people and involunatrily locking people up (or in Trump’s case, rounding up all the illegals, sticking them in vans and within the first 24 hours he’s in office, those Mexican hoodlums will be out of the country).

    Trump’s basic attitude is: We all know that borderline crazies with guns should not be left wandering the streets. “They” are “sick” people that need to be treated as “sick”. “They” need to be off of the streets and out of our neighborhoods. The social order must be maintained at all costs, even at the cost of sacrificing individual freedoms and liberties.

    Lieberman states: “We are reluctant to infringe on people’s civil rights by forcing them to accept treatment, even though we do just that for communicable infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and various sexually transmitted diseases. But we must start using this law to treat patients in need, over their objections if necessary.”

    The question is, how is need defined? Who is to determine who is in need of treatment? Who defines who needs to be off the streets? Are psychiatrists the ultimate authority or is it the state that decides? Dr. Lieberman defers to the “law”.

    I think it is important to note that according to Lieberman, the power of the psychiatrist to exert his will over the patient comes from the letter of the “law” which is presumed to offer legitimacy for any decision the psychiatrist feels is in “society’s best interest’, not the individual’s. This does not sound all that different from the rhetoric of WWII Nazi Germany which legitimated the forced treatment of the undesirable elements of society.

    As Don Weitz notes in his article, Psychiatric Fascism ( ), FEAR, FORCE & FRAUD are the guiding principles that mental health experts and politicans use as part of an attempt to establish a new and improved social order which complies to their sense of an ideal world free of disruptive and chaotic elements.

    Welitz say, ” Hospital psychiatry with its emphasis on the control of inmate behaviour through high risk behaviour modification programs, biological “treatments”, physical and mechanical restraints, locked doors and wards, and seclusion/isolation rooms, have always exhibited several fascist elements. I want to focus on three: fear, force and fraud. These are the guiding principles and policies used to control citizens and groups in the population whom government leaders and other authorities, including the police and so-called mental health experts, have judged to be dissident, problematic or difficult to control.”

    Dr. Lieberman focuses on the need to control difficult patients through force if necessary. Of course, what Lieberman fails to acknowledge in his analysis is that many of the mass shooters were on anti depressant medications which can cause extreme forms of aggression when they committed their crimes which were ironically prescribed by psychiatrists (the kind of drugs he endorses). Many mass shooters have been known to have histories of profound childhood abuse and neglect (complex trauma/attachment disorders) which Lieberman will not acknowledge because it does not comform to his mental health paradigm according to the DSM. Lieberman does not mention that evidence has shown that many shooters lived troubled lives and often sought the help of family, friends and their community. While Lieberman may suggest a lack of appropriate intervention or services is the culprit, the fundamental issue that he fails to recognize is the social context: these troubled individuals were in deep pain and lacked healthy attachments to others, an adequate interpersonal support structure, love and empathy.

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    • When the fascist state finally takes hold for good we know who’s a good candidate for a chief psychiatrist in charge of “euthanasia”. It all sounds like exaggerating and I hope it is but there’s a very ugly undercurrent in US and Europe right now.

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  2. It is unfortunate that none of the commenters seemed to notice that a huge percentage of the shooters are ALREADY RECEIVING PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT in the form of drugs! Yet the call is for MORE drugs, even when the drugs haven’t solved or may even have helped create the circumstances surrounding the mass murders. Kip Kinkel, Columbine, Red Lake, the Batman shooter, possibly Adam Lanza, both Fort Hood shooters… the list is long. If psych drugs stopped violence, why would all of these “treated” shooters have been violent? And why is that question not asked by the Times?

    —- Steve

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  3. Steve,
    I would like to read your comment on this op ed -Next best thing to a full counter argument to NY Times ?

    I wonder about Lieberman’s method for preventing these tragedies. He claims to have experience treating *these cases* – but doesn’t say how he is better than any other shrink at predicting these events- What’s he doing- reading tea leaves? Some other form of divination?

    Oh- wait a minute, he is really proposing the default mechanism for growing his business *round em up ; lock ’em up, drug ’em up* for their own good!
    A plug for applying the law(s) that will provide shrinks with the clientele needed to feed Pharma– the hand that feeds Lieberman. Lieberman is laying claim to expertise in collusion with wealth and power- What else?

    Like Donald Trump, he knows how to make deals.–

    Maybe a better strategy than writing counter point op eds to rubbish- would be to purchase a full page ad in the NY Times announcing the long awaited evidence that has potential to take some of the wind out of Lieberman’s sails:
    Will GO LIVE September 15th !


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  4. Last winter Lieberman was complaining that the New York Times has something against psychiatry because of another Op Ed.

    If it turns out that Bryce Williams was not involved in some form of treatment prior to the shootings, he will be the exception. Most of these shooters didnt act out until after they were involved in treatment. Its stunning and disheartening to read the comments.

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    • The “treatment” facilitates this kind of behaviour. Not only they give you drugs that give you total disinhibition, mood swings and in some cases full blown psychosis when no was present but they also tell you that you have no control over the situation. Well, if you have no control over your impulses and the drugs make you very angry, even more than you’d normally be, and kill any empathy you may still have then why not go and shoot up some people?
      I’ve never been homicidal but I know full well that I never had full blown panic attacks and other whacky emotional rides before I was started on an “anti-depressant”. “Mood stabilizers” didn’t make it better – when I was not binge eating seconds before falling asleep while standing I had withdrawal which was mood swing after mood swing. Seroquel made me feel like a zombie and I was acting out only so that I could feel anything at all. Prozac – total anxiety that made me feel stomach sick and gave me shaking hands. I’m so happy I never took any of these drugs for more than a month. I wonder why people in “treatment” sometimes kill themselves or others. Weird…

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  5. I wrote this comment in the NYT on Lieberman’s article.

    “Sure, let’s force the mentally ill to take antipsychotic medication that can result in inner agitation, weight gain, brain shrinkage, tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements), and reduced life spans. All on the off chance that we might, just might, prevent a few violent acts. Civil rights? Why should the mentally ill have any say whatsoever in their treatment? Do we really want to give psychiatrists, many of whom are notorious by the way for having extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry, the power to dictate who must take drugs? Jeffrey Lieberman, for one, has accepted money from companies that include AstraZenica, Bristol-Myers Squib, and GlaxoSmith Kleine. Surprise! He supports forced medication of the mentally ill, not all of them, he assures us. Just the ones psychiatrists (like him?) determine to be a danger, using their crystal balls, I assume.”

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  6. The nutsy hunt, in the interest of future violence prevention, expands. Big brother/big sister is invading the class room. Big brother/big sister is ratting out “loony toons”. Liberty is on the skids. Congrats, USSA! Jeffrey Lieberman, past president of the APA, always “important”, is on the ballot for Supreme Psychiatrist of the USSA Mental Health Facility. According to the print out, it’s either that, or a firing squad. Big bother/big sister is watching you. Cast your ballot today for the one person on the ticket, or else. Your vote counts!

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  7. “Almost every mentally ill perpetrator of mass violence had been symptomatic and untreated for lengthy periods of time before their crime,— because they (or their families) did not seek treatment or they refused it.”

    His argument is too facile and convenient.

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