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Old January 1, 2013, 12:50 PM   #1
Glenn E. Meyer
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The Language of Mental Illness in Gun Debates

Just an observation - in some threads, I see folks throwing around psychological or psychiatric terms that are misused, obsolete or misinterpreted.

If you want to claim someone is phobic - know what that means. If you want to use the term neurotic - that's quite out of style.

If you want to say that all should be tested for mental stability for getting a gun - what does that mean? Do you know anything about the predictive validity of current evaluative instruments?

Folks are emptying themselves into their underpants if someone seems to misuse clip, magazine, assault rife, assault weapon, etc. Thus, the misuse seems to be an argument that the anti's argument is unworthy because of misuse.

But then you argue about a technical field and sound to an expert, equally silly.

Think about it.
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Old January 1, 2013, 12:55 PM   #2
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It sounds much better as an argument than the politically incorrect truth that stuff happens and there are just plain mean hateful people in the world and we just need to be prepared to meet them head on. No laws or other restrictions will ever change that.
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Old January 1, 2013, 12:58 PM   #3
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Good point, Glenn, but the field changes its terminology regularly. My wife was an RN in a mental retardation/mental health/psychiatric facility for 30 years and she had trouble keeping up with the terms du jour. I currently work in a high school that has a notable percentage of MR/MH/Spec Ed students and sometimes when I overhear the professionals talking, it's as if they're using a language all their own.

Quote:
Do you know anything about the predictive validity of current evaluative instruments?
I admit that I do not, but after watching professionals work for several years, it seems to me that their methods have about the same predictive validity as a shaman reading goat entrails.

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. Purely a layman lost in a MH world.
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Old January 1, 2013, 01:12 PM   #4
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I particularly like the way you mods get in the last word then lock the thread.

You want monologue. Not dialogue. You've turned this place into a carbon copy of your own neurotic personalities.

It's no wonder people get tired of this place.

And Glenn, re my thread you closed, a neurosis is a mental disorder. It's a mild mental disorder that has the capability of negatively impacting one's life. Hoplophobia is definitely a neurosis and as such, a mental disorder.

You don't know all you think you know. But I get really tired of you and the other gunslingers/mudslingers micromanaging this place. You've managed to cull all who have an independent thought.

Just because you say something is true doesn't make it so, regardless how narrow your world is.
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Old January 1, 2013, 01:16 PM   #5
Glenn E. Meyer
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Sorry, you are wrong.

You are welcome to leave, Foghorn.

PawPaw - that's the point. There is a giant move to empirically based clinical science. In fact, a new journal has just started to concentrate the research.

The Association for Psychological Science has been making this point for several years now.

A very large and well-done meta-anlysis of violence prediction found we did not have good instruments. The FBI sponsored studies of such came to the same conclusion earlier.

Throwing around a term like hoplophobia - implying a true anxiety disorder is fairly useless. So is using the term neurosis in modern parlance when trying to put down an antigun person.
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Old January 1, 2013, 01:20 PM   #6
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No, you're wrong. And I'm not a bit sorry.

I'll stay. Thanx.
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Old January 1, 2013, 01:23 PM   #7
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Take my warning seriously. It's your choice until it becomes ours.

GEM
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Old January 1, 2013, 01:29 PM   #8
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This confusion is why to the utmost any type of additional restrictions against the mentally ill should be fought tooth and nail.

Also there will be many gun owners who out of fear of losing their guns or the ability to buy them will not seek treatment for a severe mental illness. The reality that they may be placed in a database that would forever mark them as if they were convicted felons is quite an intimidating fear.

Most mental illness is treatable and the patients can resume a normal life as long as they take their meds. A person that at one time may be a danger to himself or others is not necessarily one that will be for the rest of their lives.

If knowledgable laymen cannot decide what constitutes a predatory or malisciously bent mental illness, how can a lawmaker?
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Old January 1, 2013, 01:40 PM   #9
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In the field of mental health, I'm a layman. It's that simple. However, to my untrained eye, there are several issues at play here*:

1) Mental illness comes in shadings and degrees. It's not like a broken leg. Mental illness often (though not always) creeps in a little at a time, and the patient may or may not notice the symptoms.

2) Many mental illnesses are treatable, but from what little I know of the meds involved, they all seem to run the risk of allowing the patient to believe that he or she no longer needs them. Patient feels better, thinks problems are gone, stops taking meds.

3) Where this really gets sticky is where science meets policy. Someone who seems just a little "off" might be diagnosed as having some minor degree of mental illness (science). Should that person be barred from owning firearms (policy)? Where should the two intersect? At what point and under what circumstances should mental illness result in the loss of this individual, fundamental right? Early-stage Alzheimer's? Mid-range OCD? PTSD? As a matter of policy, do we leave the law such that only involutary commitments count against one? Or do we start including voluntary commitments? Wouldn't that discourage folks from getting treatment that they need (in particular, veterans with PTSD come to mind)?

(* = I invite correction on these issues from those who know better than I.)
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Old January 1, 2013, 02:06 PM   #10
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The term that I have seen misused most frequently is "Psychopath". It is used as a "catch-all" phrase to indicate a dangerous mentally ill person. A dangerous paranoid schizophrenic does not a "psyocopath" make. They would be very surprised to find out what a psychopathic personality really is and how they act. Note: I am a former Army nero-psychiatric technician and was schooled relative to that term and observed the behavior and symptoms of such at Fitsimons General Hospital, Denver Colorado, (the Army hospital where Dwight Eisenhower was taken when he had his heart attack when president).
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Old January 1, 2013, 02:12 PM   #11
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"What is a 'red herring'?"

The more profoundly disturbing trend is the manner in which 'mental illness' has become a focal point in the national discussion regarding "how can we prevent mass shootings in schools?"

There are undoubtedly links between recent cases of mass shootings in malls, theatres, and classrooms involving shooters suffering from some variation of mental illness. Treatment of mental illness in the US is a topic that is worthy of far more discussion, however, to focus on mentally ill shooters in schools is to miss the point.

ANY shooter in an elementary school is a problem, whether they are mentally ill or not.

It may in fact be that the next 9-11-2001 might occur as a result of the same type of 19 perpetrators - Islamic militants bent on causing anguish to Americans - but instead of hijacking airplanes they take over 19 schools in 19 different states and martyr themselves murdering schoolchildren instead. Consider the prospect of 19 individual Beslan's.

In the matter of preventing mass shootings in American schools we need to recognize that 'mental illness' is a red herring. Not all shooters in schools may be mentally ill. Some may be there deliberately, in which case they'll bring their own weaons with them - an AWB will not deter Al Queda-like adversaries.

The challenge to effectively protect American schoolchildren is to first prevent the introduction of firearms into schools - by any unauthorized person - through a robust and rigorous physical security re-design; and second to ensure an effective armed response is available in the event that a shooter introduces a firearm regardless.

Any other discussions meandering down other pathways - such as 'banning guns' or 'mental health treatment in the US' - are likely to fail to reduce overall risk to schoolchildren, because other discussions are unlikely to achieve these two determining requirements.

If we want effective risk reduction, we need to focus on what will produce effective risk reduction. If we just want to pontificate and score political points, by all means the national discussion should continue to involve mental illness in the US and gun bans.

Just MHO.

YMMV.
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Old January 1, 2013, 05:18 PM   #12
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"If you want to use the term neurotic - that's quite out of style."

And the DSM-IV turns into the new DSM-V in May iirc. So a bunch of things will change some more.


"Many mental illnesses are treatable"

Speaking of the severe mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia and Borderline Personality Disorder, do they treat them successfully? I retired last year, but from the patients I've worked with and the treatment records I've seen since 1974, treatment is a long way from cure. Sure, some people make dramatic improvements, but many don't, even after years of trying this medication and that medication (and talk therapy if they can afford it.) And even those who are 'cured' often have relapses.
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Old January 1, 2013, 06:01 PM   #13
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schizophrenia and personality disorders are a small portion of most mental illness.

What about those who have suffered depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety, agoraphobia, sociophobia, post traumatic stress disorder?

Most people suffering from post traumatic stress would never hurt a soul. They just withdraw from people.

being an alcoholic is a mental illness. The person is using the alcohol to self medicate themselves because it gives them a way to escape from the mental illness they have for a little while. Mostly anxiety and stress but could also include any number of illnesses.

Should we refuse to allow alcoholics from owning guns as well?
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Old January 1, 2013, 06:21 PM   #14
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First the problem was "gun violence," then the problem was "crazy people can get guns," tomorrow the problem will be something else. And, whatever the politicians and mass media identify as the problem du jour ... won't be the problem.

I think (LTC (Ret)) Dave Grossman put his finger on the real problem: "Denial." The sense that we don't need to be serious about security issues because those kinds of things "don't happen in these parts."

Then there's the fact that the anti-gun forces don't want to look at the mental health issue, because they know the only way to address it is with money, and they don't have the money. I'm old enough to have been on the board of directors of a mental health halfway house back when the push was on to de-institutionalize a lot of people. Some of those who were cast out of involuntary (and sometimes voluntary) institutions were able to survive and sort of function with the help of places such as the halfway house with which I was associated. Others, however, were clearly not able to cope with society, even with the help of halfway houses. People were booted out with no safety net, and despite all the rhetoric about how "mainstreaming is good," the real reason was simply dollars. The .gov got tired of spending the money. The .gov did the same with prisons, which is why in some parts of the country "mandatory" sentences are meaningless because the reality of prison overcrowding is that most prisoners serve less than a half of whatever their "mandatory" sentence is.

And then there are just plain lies, and parsing of the facts. December is a good example.

Immediately after the Sandy Hook incident, New York City Mayor Bloomberg proclaimed that guns were the problem, and that schools would never be safe as long as people are allowed to own guns. Yet, within the month of December, two people were murdered in two separate incidents in New York City by being shoved into the path of an approaching subway train. In addressing those incidents, Mayor Bloomberg had the following to say:

“It's a very tragic case, but what we want to focus on today is the overall safety in New York." But how can this “perspective” be such a polar opposite to the mayor’s “perspective” surrounding the school massacre? Mayor Bloomberg dismisses the two subway murders as isolated incidents, negated by an overall trend of lower violent crime. Yet, certainly, Sandy Hook was also an isolated incident. On the same day, December 14, 2012, hundreds of millions of children attended schools all across the United States and were not shot at. Logically, if we forego rhetoric and apply statistical analysis, it was far safer to attend a public school in the United States during December than it was to stand on a subway platform in New York City, yet Mayor Bloomberg’s analysis is that the schools are unsafe, but the New York subways are safe. The cognitive dissonance in that analysis is overwhelming.

In response to the second subway murder, Mayor Bloomberg also said, “I don't think you have to sit there and worry every day about getting pushed over the platform," said Bloomberg, during a press conference at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. "It is such a rare occurrence that no matter how tragic it is, it shouldn't change our lifestyle.”

But being killed in a public elementary school is also a rare occurrence, yet because of one such incident the mayor thinks we should change our lifestyle.

“I don't know that there is a ways to prevent," Bloomberg said. "There's always going to be somebody, a deranged person. You can say it's only two out of the 3 or 4 million people that ride the subway every day, but two is two too many. Unfortunately, there are people who are mentally deranged.

Why does Mayor Bloomberg think the above statement is valid when the deranged person uses a subway as his/her weapon, but the statement is not valid when the deranged person uses a firearm? The Sandy Hook shooter was undeniably someone with mental issues, yet Mayor Bloomberg is willing to ignore that fact when it is convenient for him to focus on the gun used by the assailant so that he can use the incident to further his irrational attack on the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Yet, when incidents occur within his own bailiwick, the mayor is perfectly willing to parse the statistics, marginalize the victims, and proclaim that there’s nothing to worry about.

Mayor Bloomberg’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. Unfortunately, that same hypocrisy permeates the entire ranks of those who seeks to demonize inanimate objects and honest citizens in the furtherance of their own, selfish, paranoid agenda to circumvent the Constitution of the United States and to disarm the People of the United States.
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Old January 1, 2013, 08:35 PM   #15
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On Killing(2009), "gun safety"...

I'm now half way thru LTC Dave Grossman's On Killing(2009 ed).
I don't agree with all the points but it's a insightful read for any armed professional, US military service member or mental health industry worker.

I've noticed a new slant by a few media wonks & TV news pundits. Instead of "gun control" they now say; "gun safety".
I guess safety is a new form of control. Or some govt officials could say they aren't using more control they're increasing your safety.

Media spin & politics seem to seep into everything.

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Old January 2, 2013, 06:20 AM   #16
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My guns are safe. I carry 1911s, carried in Condition 1.

Why aren't they happy with that?
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Old January 2, 2013, 08:25 AM   #17
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Until such time as mental illnesses are definitively diagnosable with a blood test or similar metric I am very skeptical about using this as a screening for eligibility for owning a firearm. I have a relative who as a child was diagnosed as bi-polar, only later to be changed to ADHD, then to ODD. One psychiatrist labeled him a sociopath, another said he just was as adolescent making some bad decisions. The bottom line is that mental health professionals are not dealing in hard science, have widely differing ideas on treatment, and are not very effective in doing much to change anything. I know how the leaders in the former Soviet Union used "mental illness" as an excuse to incarcerate their political enemies. Allowing too much mental health jargon into the gun rights discussion opens us up to those on the anti-gun side who truly believe that anyone who enjoys shooting a gun, who collects guns, and probably anyone who participates in a gun based internet forum, is by definition mentally ill. Lets focus on behavior, not the smoke and mirrors of "mental health".
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Old January 2, 2013, 09:06 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoghornLeghorn
No, you're wrong. And I'm not a bit sorry.

I'll stay. Thanx.
Most of us here on TFL use screen names and keep our real names to ourselves. Doctor Glenn E. Meyer Ph.D. however, does not. Doctor Meyer is a professor of psychology. For you, FoghornLeghorn, to claim that he is wrong, about his use of psychological terms is...I can't quite seem to think of a way to phrase it, without violating TFL rules against demeaning another member.

Which leads me to another point, TFL has very high standards of decorum. A higher standard than the rest of the internet and other venues of public discourse, such as politics and the media. Thats the way the owner of TFL Rich Lucibella and the long time members and staff want it. The 1st Amendment gives us the right to free speech, but it doesn't give us the right to be heard. Most especially when we are the guests, on a private web site. Why the high standard? because puriele bickering, conspiracy theories, discussions of politics and race and many other things, reflect poorly on gun owners and the RKBA.

So when the mods close a thread, warn members, etc it is because they are acting as agents of the owner and reflecting his wishes. Not because they are mean, small minded, or anything of the kind. In fact they are quite the opposite of any of those things.
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Old January 2, 2013, 09:47 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
Throwing around a term like hoplophobia - implying a true anxiety disorder is fairly useless. So is using the term neurosis in modern parlance when trying to put down an antigun person.
Agreed.

So, let a layman ask the question: If we agree that "hoplophobe" is a pejorative, what is the preferred term for someone who is afraid of guns? Or are labels useless in this debate?

We all live with certain labels. For example, I know without a doubt that I am white, male, middle aged. My physician tells me I'm fat. I can't do anything about white, male, or middle aged, but I can certainly do something about "Fat".
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Old January 2, 2013, 09:58 AM   #20
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But let's remember that the term "hoplophobia" and the notion that an irrational antagonism towards guns and gun rights were coined by Jeff Cooper. As much as I have the greatest respect for Col. Cooper, he was not a mental health clinician.

"Hoplophopia" is not in the DSM-IV (or is it "V" now?). It is not a true, recognized mental disorder.
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Old January 2, 2013, 10:16 AM   #21
Glenn E. Meyer
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Fat is not in the DSM - but - hey - why do I have belts that don't fit anymore.

Look at the debate about Lanza - he has a diagnosis of X - well, that's going away as it was found to be a distinction without use, now he will have Y.

So, if you proposed a new gun law that people with X couldn't own a gun = OOPS.

Using terms from ancient diagnostic categories or using them incorrectly, doesn't do us any good.

Antigunners propose stupid Freudian analogies on how gun folks have little ... and compensate. Cooper using a made up Freudian analogy had as much validity.

I should add that many of the foolish things said by folks like Bloomberg are part of selective information processing where you only pay attention to what confirms your beliefs. This is just normal cognition (see Kahneman) and is something everyone does across the political spectrum. I could cite blatant foolishness from left or right but won't to avoid politics. If those mechanisms are mental illness - then most people are nuts.
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Old January 2, 2013, 01:48 PM   #22
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sigmund freud was the first to recognize a mental condition pertaining to a fear of weapons.

He beleived that it was an indicator of sexual and social immaturity.
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Old January 2, 2013, 02:20 PM   #23
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Glenn, my dictionary defines a "phobia" as "an irrational fear of an object or situation". Is that what the professional definition is (this week)?
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Old January 2, 2013, 02:38 PM   #24
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You know, Glenn, I hear what you're saying, and I'm a quasi-mental health professional (MA in Counseling Psychology, Certificate in Clinical Hypnotherapy), but I'm not sure the '30s category of "Mad Dog Killer" isn't the most appropriate diagnosis.
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Old January 2, 2013, 02:43 PM   #25
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Quote:
Look at the debate about Lanza
I'd prefer not even to use his name. The sooner that he's consigned to the ash-heap of history, the better.
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