It was widely reported last week that James Holmes, the alleged cinema shooter, will be pursuing a “mental illness” defense. Details are scarce because the judge has issued a gag order, but it is likely, given the available information, that the lawyers will argue that because of his psychiatric history he is incompetent to stand trial. It is also likely that they will bring in some eminent psychiatrist(s) who will confirm his “diagnosis” and claim that at the time of the offense he didn’t know what he was doing, or something similar.
The logic (or perhaps I should say illogic) would look like this.
Q. Why did he shoot all those people?
A. Because he has an illness called schizophrenia.
Q. How do you know he has this illness?
A. Because he does crazy things – like shooting people at random in a movie theater.
It’s the same kind of circular reasoning that pervades the psychiatric world. The only evidence for the so-called diagnosis is the very behavior it purports to explain. The psychiatric-pharma consortium has successfully promoted the idea that all the individuals that they are “treating” for schizophrenia have something wrong with their brains. But there is no evidence to support this contention, unless, of course, they are referring to the damage done by the major tranquilizers! I know of no evidence that these individuals had anything wrong with their brains prior to the administration of major tranquilizers. The assumption that the major tranquilizers are correcting some chemical imbalance is a fiction.
I have written elsewhere on the condition know as “schizophrenia.” Basically my position is this. The transition from childhood to adulthood is not easy. It is fraught with traps and pitfalls. Most of us manage to stumble through reasonably unscathed. A few crash and burn. When you crash and burn, you have a choice – get up and try again – or go crazy. Of course it doesn’t happen all at once. The transition from childhood to adulthood starts around age 1. From infancy to 18 or so, there are many trials and tests. Sometimes we feel like we passed – other times we feel like we failed. But here again, most of us stumble along in an OK sort of way. But for some people childhood is a minefield. They seldom get it right – they seldom win – they seldom feel OK about themselves. They seldom experience the pressure of striving followed by the joy of succeeding. They perhaps don’t have adequate role models – or someone to correct and encourage them. As children they are lost – ostracized – seen as “geeks” or “dorks” or “losers” or “nerds” or “drips” – or whatever. And when their parents finally tip them out of the nest – they crash and burn.
Sometimes the crash comes in the job. They have few “people skills,” so they tell the boss to take a flying f., or worse still – tell a customer to shove the product you know where. Or perhaps they just cry all day because they miss their parents. Or perhaps they fail a critical exam. Or perhaps lots of little things build up inside until they can take it no more. Perhaps living in a new town they lack the social skills to make friends and so rather than acknowledge and do something about this skill deficit, they conclude that the community is plotting against them.
And so on. The possible scenarios are endless – but the essential reality is this: If a person lacks the skills needed to cope and survive in the real world, he can slip easily into craziness. Most of these individuals end up living in a world of destitution and hopelessness. A small percentage drift into anti-social acts, and in the absence of appropriate discipline and correction, can “graduate” to serious crime. And the bio-psychiatric faction has legitimized this role by calling it an incurable sickness for which one needs to take major tranquilizers for life.
But remember – the only evidence for this “sickness” is the very behavior it purports to explain. There’s nothing else to it. “Schizophrenia” is not something that people have. Rather it is something that people do. If you enact the role, then you have the illness.
Of course I have no inside details on the cinema shooter case, but if it follows well-established precedents, we will be told that the alleged killer “suffers from” this terrible “illness” and that the “illness” controls his actions, etc., etc..
Now the prosecution, of course, will get all over this in an attempt to secure a conviction – but what always amazes me is that they never ask what, for me, is the critical question: How do you know he has this illness?
What the psychiatric guys would have us believe is that the shooter was like an out-of-control machine – that he kind of stumbled into the cinema, having first randomly picked up a bunch of powerful weapons – that he randomly and uncontrollably pulled the trigger multiple times – that he randomly and uncontrollably hit 70 people with bullets – etc., etc..
The shooter, we will be told, had no more homicidal intent than a sudden massive hailstorm which killed a group of people caught outdoors by bashing them on the heads with large chunks of hail. And so on.
I am struck by the number of mass murderers who had been receiving psychiatric attention – sometimes for years – prior to the killings. Would it be fair to say that the “treatment” was not successful? Would it be fair to say that they did not receive real help for their problems? Could it even be – dare we ask – that psychiatry, with its falsely palliative message, has made things worse? Could it be that telling people the lie that they have a brain malfunction for which they need to take the magic pills is causing further deterioration in their adaptive skills? Have the past 60 years of bio-pharma psychiatry made our world more dangerous? Could it be – again dare we ask – that telling people the soothing lie that they are not responsible for their actions is a fundamentally bad idea?