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"Snitching" on the Mentally Ill...when Big Brother is You...

I've worked in the mental health legal field for years....and the voices back then were always hush hush...you kept it quiet it from the neighbors, family, from the world...and you certainly didn't "report" bad behavior or suspicious behavior in a mentally ill person that could go terribly wrong...why should you, why would you...because really who would care, and what would be done ?

Now I am hearing that "we should report 'suspicious' behavior if we see it in the mentally ill close to us...for example I know of someone with a mentally challenged family member and they too take them to gun shooting practice ! What can be done, should anything be done...do you ratt out the family, do you just cross your fingers....

Thoughts on this now in the open discussion ?

Tags: guns, illness, mental, snitches

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A sad comment on our times that such a matter should even be considered.

Rat them out to who? Law enforcement isn't interested unless a crime has been committed. If you are close to the family and can talk to them without them getting in your face, you might ask them if they should reconsider taking the mentally challenged person on outings with guns. It would also depend on what the challenge was. You could say you were concerned because of what happened with the children and adults who were slaughtered.

They might let you know more about the person who has the challenge and that persons stability or lack of same.

We have always have suspicions, and fear and and idea that most of what we see, we don't see.  We generally see what we want to see and if that is fear and suspicions, well, that is human nature.  

The other problem is most of us are not trained mental health clinicians who can successful diagnosis the human condition's most difficult status, the mental health of others.  In part, it is also because we are comfortable with normal, and uncomfortable with the different and seemingly abnormal which has as much to do with looks and actions of others.

And yet we espouse we are a free people, free with certain unalienable rights. including the right to be different.  And we have all learned that being different is not always a choice, or a sign of the hand of god, that because of birth, disease and trauma others are different, they look different and they act different due to no fault of their own.  

And we have come to accept the same is true of mental health, people are different.  However, different is not to discount danger, danger to others much less to the individual.  Suicide is a major motive of trauma death in this and many other countries.  The danger from the events like Virginia Tech, Columbine, Aurora,  Tuscon, the Oak Creek temple and others is much less likely to happen then the taking of one's own life by whatever means.

As we move on in the period of reflection and questions, the ideas that seem to solve one problem can and do create others and as a society, we will in the end react in ways that we can not expect and yet may regret as to what we lose as to as much as we gain. 

I heard of a story about a patient in a mental institution who has been there for several years for paranoid szophrenia and would hear voices. She was going to get her first weekend pass in over 2 years. On a Friday meeting with her and her counselor she told him she was talking to little people on her window. The shrink came in on Monday and asked how her visit was and she replied I could not go and he asked why and she told him about the conversation with little people. He said the next time that happens don't tell anyone.

In my opinion what we ordinarily call mentally challenged are rarely dangerous. Many of the killers that have brought some of these mental illness issues to the fore lived independently, took care of their own finances, sometimes were good students, were able to order things online, able to proficiently take weapons apart and put them back together, etc. Sometimes they caught the attention of teachers, advisors, or others, sometimes not. The same for many serial killers, rapists, etc.  The BTK killer "... was married with two children, was a Boy Scout leader, served honorably in
the U.S. Air Force, was employed as a local government official, and was president of his church." (From the FBI website).

I do think mental health issues warrant more attention but think it is largely a red herring in the discussion of what to do about mass shootings. People that are a threat to society or others or themselves maybe should be brought to the attention of someone whether mentally ill or not.

I have a son that has brain damage and mental illness.  He spends time in a mental hospital.  We both know that every so often he needs them to help straighten him and his meds out again.  Sometimes he has to go in because he stops taking his meds and starts acting in a manner that's dangerous to himself.  I just can't imagine taking him to a shooting range and teaching him how to shoot.  I worry about what he'd do to himself.  We're fortunate that he's never shown a propensity to hurt others, but from time to time I've been concerned about his possibly being a danger to himself.  I've usually been able to talk him into going voluntarily.  However, I wouldn't hesitate to call and have him admitted, if I was afraid he'd hurt himself or others.  However, I have two advantages.  I know for a fact he has a mental illness and he's court ordered to take his meds and they can enforce that order.  Not everyone has that on their side.  I also have a neighbor who is a cutter.  She likes to cut herself.  She has been diagnosed with mental illness.  If I saw her hurting herself, I would not hesitate to call the cops to stop her, but again, I know she has a diagnosed mental illness.  Many people we "think" have a mental illness likely may, but that's not enough to get them help.  The other thing is just because people don't act according to the norms of society, doesn't mean they are a danger to self or others.  I do believe the mother who's son killed all those children likely knew he was mentally ill and should have known he could be dangerous and never taught him how to use those guns.  She paid a terrible price for that mistake in judgement. 

"People with Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives"

Information about famous people throughout history who have had a serious mental illness.

Abraham Lincoln The revered sixteenth President of the United States suffered from severe and incapacitating depressions that occasionally led to thoughts of suicide, as documented in numerous biographies by Carl Sandburg.

Virginia Woolf The British novelist who wrote To the Lighthouse and Orlando experienced the mood swings of bipolar disorder characterized by feverish periods of writing and weeks immersed in gloom. Her story is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Eugene O'Neill The famous playwright, author of Long Day's Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness!, suffered from clinical depression, as documented in Eugene O'Neill by Olivia E. Coolidge

Ludwig van Beethoven The brilliant composer experienced bipolar disorder, as documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.

Gaetano Donizetti The famous opera singer suffered from bipolar disorder, as documented in Donizetti and the World Opera in Italy, Paris and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century by Herbert Weinstock.

Robert Schumann The "inspired poet of human suffering" experienced bipolar disorder, as discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Leo Tolstoy Author of War and Peace, Tolstoy revealed the extent of his own mental illness in the memoir Confession. His experiences is also discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Inner World of Mental Illness: A Series of First Person Accounts of What It Was Like by Bert Kaplan.

Vaslov Nijinsky The dancer's battle with schizophrenia is documented in his autobiography, The Diary of Vaslov Nijinksy.

John Keats The renowned poet's mental illness is documented in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Broken Brain: The biological Revolution in Psychiatry by Nancy Andreasen, M.D.

Tennessee Williams The playwright gave a personal account of his struggle with clinical depression in his own Memoirs. His experience is also documented in Five O'Clock Angel: Letters of Tennessee Williams to Maria St. Just, 1948-1982; The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams by Donald Spoto, and Tennessee: Cry of the Heart by Dotson.

Vincent Van Gogh The celebrated artist's bipolar disorder is discussed in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb and Dear Theo, The Autobiography of Van Gogh.

Isaac Newton The scientist's mental illness is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.

Ernest Hemingway The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist's suicidal depression is examined in the True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him by Denis Brian.

Sylvia Plath The poet and novelist ended her lifelong struggle with clinical depresion by taking own life, as reported in A Closer Look at Ariel: A Memory of Sylvia Plath by nancy Hunter-Steiner.

Michelangelo The mental illness of one of the world's greatest artistic geniuses is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.

Winston Churchill "Had he been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation. In 1940, when all the odds were against Britain, a leader of sober judgment might well have concluded that we were finished," wrote Anthony Storr about Churchill's bipolar disorder in Churchill's Black Dog, Kafka's Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind.

Charles Dickens One of the greatest authors in the English language suffered from clinical depression, as documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb, and Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph by Edgar Johnson

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