Saturday, March 25, 2023

Comments by John Shepard

Showing 5 of 5 comments.

  • >Excellent counterexamples of the “need for forced treatment!”

    Agreed, Steve McCrea!

    >And I think you are right, it remains invisible to most “insiders,” because those who have been essentially arrested and held against their wills are totally willing to say whatever they need to say to get the hell out of there.

    If the people who have coerced others were to come to view what they have done as evil, they could not live with themselves. (Perhaps that’s why there’s a high rate of suicide among psychiatrists.) So they will double down in self-defense and for dear life. They were, after all, only “following orders” or “following science,” etc.

    Nothing will change with respect to forced “psychiatric treatment,” until and unless people generally come to understand that nothing good is ever achieved by force, and repudiate all attempt to do so.

    Force is always destructive, even if it’s sometimes necessary (against those who initiate force in order to protect the rights of individuals to be free from force), but force and mind are opposite.

    To attempt to achieve the good by force is, as Ayn Rand put it, basically, an attempt to show someone great paintings by first cutting out their eyes.

    “Good” is an assessment based upon facts and in relation to an individuals own life and goals, according to his or her own judgment. It is not something intrinsic that can be forced on anyone.

    Force can ensure that individuals are free (from force) to think for themselves and to act on the basis of their own choices, as they should be, as long as they respect the same rights of others, but that is an idea that is entirely repudiated by the idea of forced “psychiatric treatment.”


    “Perhaps Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that we don’t learn from history. In the past, when people were obsessed with religion, they believed that the “true faith” justified depriving others of liberty. Now, when people are obsessed with medicine, they believe that “scientific treatment” justifies depriving others of liberty. But if we reject coercion in the name of salvation, why should we accept coercion in the name of treatment? And if we accept such coercion, do we not become—knowingly or otherwise—true believers in our own blind and bigoted brand of “therapeutic” despotism?”

    — Thomas Szasz, The Therapeutic State (1984), “Coerced Treatment for Addicts”

  • From Thomas Szasz:

    “For centuries, psychiatrists insisted that the intended and actual beneficiaries of involuntarily hospitalized mental patients were the coerced patients, not their families and society. Now, they insist that the intended and actual beneficiaries of involuntary outpatient commitment are the coerced patients, not their families and society.

    “In 2000, New York State enacted its version of an outpatient commitment law, named Kendra’s Law, after Kendra Webdale, a young woman pushed to her death under a subway train by a “schizophrenic” patient released from a mental hospital. This law, a psychiatrist states, “was originally going to be named the ‘Assisted Outpatient Treatment Act,’ to denote that its intent was to help patients in dire need of treatment.” The psychiatrist describing the development of the law does not cite the views of any patients allegedly benefited by the legally mandated treatment. Instead, she cites the views of a man whose schizophrenic son refused treatment and was forcibly medicated. Kendra’s law, said the father, “certainly helped my son.”

    “In no other area of medicine is a single anecdote permitted to be used to support a theory, much less a treatment or public health policy. In other areas of medical decision making, statistical outcomes of results based on studies of groups of similar cases are used to reach conclusions. Because one so-called schizophrenic kills a woman does not mean that the risk of being killed by a person with a psychiatric diagnosis is greater than the risk of being killed by someone in the general population without such a diagnosis. However, because such persons have been subjected, often over long periods, to systematic psychiatric humiliation and coercion, they finally may channel their anger and frustration randomly against others. That completes the circle: the psychiatrist is proved right.”

    — Thomas Szasz, Liberation by Oppression

  • >And what is your strategy for protecting people, their families, and society from the effects of psychotic illnesses?

    What “effects of psychotic illnesses” are you referring to, [email protected]?

    There’s a distinction between protecting people from coercion or force (properly defined as crimes), a proper purpose of government (to ensure that all relationships are voluntary), and protecting people from the effects of any illnesses, but that distinction becomes confused with respect to so-called psychotic illnesses, because the assumption is that such illnesses do or may cause someone to violate the rights of others (engage in criminal acts). Instead of viewing such person as moral agents responsible for their own choices and actions, there’s the psychiatric (reductionist and determinist) view that they are not moral agents and not responsible for their actions, because their actions are caused, by an illness (“of the brain,” it is typically asserted), not chosen.

    While it is proper for government to be concerned with and to combat those who resort to the use of force against others, in violation of the right of the individual to be free from force, using force itself (that’s what government is, force) to combat the initiation of force (properly identified as crime), it is not proper for government to be concerned with people’s health per se. The individual’s health is his or her own responsibility, his or hers and those value him or her, etc., and not an issue to be addressed by force (everything government does is done with force).

    The basic issue with respect to government, given that everything done by government is done by the use of force against individuals, is when is it proper to use force against any individual. The concept of individual rights answers that it is never proper to initiate the use of force against any individual, that force should only be use to combat initiated force (for crimes like assault, rape, murder, theft, etc.), to secure every individual’s freedom from initiated force (that’s what a “free society” is, one in which individuals are free from force, initiated force — force properly used only to combat initiated force). But again that distinction becomes confused with respect to so-called psychotic illnesses. The question is, do such so-called illnesses cause crimes or not? Or, is someone with a so-called psychotic illness an inherent threat to others, or are they, like everyone else, only a threat to others if and when they act as a threat to others?

    To the extent that we view individuals with so-called psychotic illnesses to be a threat to others is the extent that we will think that government ought to use force against them (to protect others) and toward what end (to punish them for crimes or to “treat” them for their “psychotic illness”).

    If we view such individuals as moral agents, then, regardless of any so-called psychotic (or any other) illnesses they may be said to have, we will insist that our government treat them just as it does anyone else, as moral agents responsible for their own choices and actions, with a right to be free from force as long as they recognize and respect the rights of others, but to be met with force and punished for any specific crimes they commit, in accord with legally defined sanctions for such crimes as they are charged and convicted.

    If we do not view such individuals as moral agents, as rational beings, but as less-than-rational animals driven by causes (illnesses), not reasons, then we will view them as an inherent threat to others (like a rabid animal) and call for some means of segregating them from others for the protection of others, until or unless their so-called psychotic illnesses might be “cured.”

  • “Where are all of these people? Especially with the massive growth of social media helping give voice and space to those who were previously blocked out of centralized news media, why don’t we see these millions constantly speaking out and sharing their perspectives on involuntary commitment?”

    In a country and culture that recognizes that rape, for example, is a terrible injustice and a crime, then if one is raped, one can at least know that in principle the law and justice is on your side. In other words, one can at least know that one lives in a society that recognizes that rape is a grave injustice and does not tolerate it.

    With respect to involuntary psychiatric commitments or “treatments,” that is not the case. There is no legal recognition that such is a crime. Quite the contrary.

    And so everyone has to know in principle that we are all subject to the possibility of being committed and “treated” against our will if we do not behave in a psychiatrically-approved of manner. Those who have already experienced such force know more than others that it can happen and that they are in a more vulnerable position than others, given that it has happened once already, making it more likely that it may happen again against them as compared to those who have not been involuntarily committed and treated.

    One has to wonder at the profound dishonesty of a profession that claims to be just like others (other doctors or medical professionals and practices), because if any other doctor were to involuntarily treat someone it would be an obvious assault and battery of the most horrendous kind.

    Perhaps one reason that there’s so little said about such an experience is due to the fear of it happening again, perhaps in part due to speaking out against it.

    The question is, why do we as a society not only tolerate such things, but see them as good?

    “An attempt to achieve the good by force is like an attempt to provide a man with a picture gallery at the price of cutting out his eyes. Values cannot exist (cannot be valued) outside the full context of a man’s life, needs, goals, and knowledge.”

  • “An attempt to achieve the good by force is like an attempt to provide a man with a picture gallery at the price of cutting out his eyes. Values cannot exist (cannot be valued) outside the full context of a man’s life, needs, goals, and knowledge.”

    — Ayn Rand

    Those who believe that the good can be achieved by force are like a rapist who believes that sex is good and therefore forced sex is good. It’s not. It’s evil, and the same for any coercive “treatment” or “help.”