Take a Look at Ourselves?

I read this great blog post by Katherine Gordy Levine recently, STOP NAME CALLING | Emotional Fitness.

We seem to do a fair amount of name calling as adults as well, especially in times of national crisis with which we’re continually struggling to cope. For example, one of the AMA MorningRounds  items in the last week or so mentioned that, in the wake of the most recent and tragic shooting rampage in Connecticut, lawmakers are planning to conduct a bipartisan examination of current legislation on access to firearms  for those with mental illness.

Hang on; are they saying that all those with mental illness of any kind are inherently dangerous? There are other opinions, such as the lack of access to psychiatric inpatient treatment and stabilization.  Some believe that mass shootings may be referable, not to easy availability of guns, but to inadequate treatment of mental illness and to deinstitutionalization, which led to a large drop in the available places in psychiatric institutions, down from 559, 000 a half-century ago to only 43, 000 nowadays, according to Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, MD who is a psychiatrist, and Doris A. Fuller, in an opinion piece for the 12/19/2012 Wall Street Journal (“The Potential Killers We Let Loose”, E.F. Torrey, MD & Doris A. Fuller, Wall Street Journal, 12/19/2012).

However, see the American Psychiatric Association (APA) letter to congress about the issue of gun availability linked to this matter:

APA Sends Letter to Congress Regarding Recent Shooting in Newtown,CT | psychiatry.org

There was a bit of finger-pointing about specific chronic mental disorders which commonly get stigmatized and probably scapegoated, leading to an immediate reminder from many experts that the vast majority of those with chronic, severe mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators. See also my previous post on this:

Let’s Count On Each Other – The Practical Psychosomaticist

It’s extraordinarily easy to unfairly promote stereotyping of those who happen to have mental illness. Some experts in psychiatry point out that this tends to occur more often than is warranted following catastrophes like mass shootings.

Disagreements like this needn’t paralyze us; we can still work together to address the important contributors to violence in our society–without name-calling or finger-pointing.

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