Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why expecting 'meds' to keep people from doing bad things fails

I live in a HUD complex where quite a number of mental patients on disability reside so we are always hearing discussion of how this one and that one went off their meds and on a rampage. A great deal of blame is sent the way of the prescribers who have often been sued in our city as ultimately responsible for some terrible murders because they did not monitor their patients close enough and somehow keep them from going off their meds and committing some ghastly crimes.
Another such crime is in the paper today which galvanizes me finally to speak out. A teacher at a Catholic school around 62 did not come to work and when police were sent to check on her uncharacteristic silence, she was found dead and her undoubtedly mentally ill son was digging a grave size hole in the backyard quite openly. All too often this kind of crime is splashed across the front pages.
Another mentally ill man committed the crime of bludgeoning to death two little boys playing in the park who were the same age of his own two boys who were living in another state at the time. This was such a henious crime that it hit national headlines.
A settlement was given by the jury of 36 million dollars recently to a family that sued after a mentally ill man came and shot a young father and another man who were gathering carts to take into a shopping center. The prescribers were the ones who were going to have to cough up this settlement. I don't know how Value Options and other such providers keep functioning with such ruinous judgments by jurors frustrated with crime after crime like this. Value Options lost the contract they had with the county to care for their mentally ill, and another company had taken over when the mentally ill man went on the rampage and killed the two little boys.
But such settlements will not bring back life, and I am thinking that we as a society are expecting the impossible of pills. The mentally ill patient always has the option of not taking them. Aren't we avoiding another conclusion we might come to about a society that would expect pills which the patient may or may not take to stop the savage beast from emerging to kill.
Nobody ever talks about a society that does not hold its self in check from killing policies and then expects pills to do the job in others. That is just not rational thinking.
Too many times families become unable to control a member who has begun to exhibit violent tendencies. I think we are seeing the break down in these cases of a society that does not constantly present a good example of restraint to its most unstable members. We are raising people to kill. And we don't know why?
I believe our society is suffering from a serious case of mental illness that pills will not cure. Only recognizing the malady and taking the steps to rid ourselves from such thinking is the only thing that is going to stop our progress into more and more violence. These unstable people are not getting the example they need from birth.
I am reading that one in five young people now days gets diagnosed with a mental illness. That should be enough to tell us right there that is a big fallout from compromising on acts of violence. We delude ourselves at our own peril.
Once a person is on the rampage, nobody can stop the carnage. Somebody is going to get hurt. The power of the mind and good example of restraint is what I think keeps people from committing violence. Stability in the parent and in the society around them is what builds sanity. We are expecting way too much from pills.


Missie said...

Great post! I also believe that a lot of "mental" disorders would not be, if the person was brought up in a stable home.

ADB said...

Pills alone won't do the job, Gerry. And helping people with mental illness should be a broad effort, involving every branch of the mental health and social services.

Lisa said...

Excellent entry Gerry. Pills are niot the answer for everything even though it seems many people think so. When they fail tragic situations like you write about then happen.


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