Ron Paul Classic: No mandatory mental health screening

A popular trick of politicians who wish to placate both sides of the gun debate is to introduce legislation aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of those with "mental health" problems. For example, Texas Senator John Cornyn has introduced legislation creating a new federal grant program for states to share the names of people  with "serious" mental health problems with the national background check system.

This proposal could result in someone who has a serious, but temporary, struggle with depression being permanently deprived of their  second amendment rights.

Restricting the second amendment rights of those diagnosed with "mental health" problems could effect those who support individual liberty and limited constitutional government. Some mental health professionals have claimed that support for free-markets and limited government is a sign of mental illness--meaning most of the readers of this blog suffer from mental illnesses.

Libertarian psychiatrist Thomas Szasz famously pointed out that diagnoses of mental health can be quite subjective and thus are oftentimes used to deprive individuals of their liberties for engaging in "eccentric" behavior.

Those improperly diagnosed with  mental health problems are oftentimes prescribed  potentially dangerous psychotropic drugs. The overuse of psychotropic drugs like Ritalin is a serious problem in our nation's schools. Some children have actually been given drugs such as Ritalin against their parent's wishes.

President Bush's misnamed "New Freedom  Commission" on mental health recommended the government force all school children to undergo mandatory mental health screening. Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul led the fight against this proposal when he was in Congress. While the Commission's recommendation has not yet been implemented,there are still pushes for mandatory screening.

Just this year Texas Representative Jason Villalba introduced legislation giving Texas teachers the authority to force students suspected of having mental health problems to undergo mandatory mental health screenings. Fortunately, the Texas State Legislature did not consider this proposal.

Interestingly, Representative Villalba is also a promoter of mandatory vaccinations and even  introduced legislation making it a crime for citizens to film incidents of police misconduct.

Here and below is Dr. Paul's official statement on the Parental Consent Act, legislation forbidding the use of federal funds for mandatory mental health screenings conducted  without parental consent:



                             HON. RON PAUL

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                         Monday, August 1, 2011

  Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Parental Consent Act. 
This bill forbids federal funds from being used for any universal or 
mandatory mental-health screening of students without the express, 
written, voluntary, informed consent of their parents or legal 
guardians. This bill protects the fundamental right of parents to 
direct and control the upbringing and education of their children.
  The New Freedom Commission on Mental Health has recommended that the 
federal and state governments work toward the implementation of a 
comprehensive system of mental-health screening for all Americans. The 
commission recommends that universal or mandatory mental-health 
screening first be implemented in public schools as a prelude to 
expanding it to the general public. However, neither the commission's 
report nor any related mental-health screening proposal requires 
parental consent before a child is subjected to mental-health 
screening. Federally-funded universal or mandatory mental-health 
screening in schools without parental consent could lead to labeling 
more children as ``ADD'' or ``hyperactive'' and thus force more 
children to take psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, against their 
parents' wishes.
  Already, too many children are suffering from being prescribed 
psychotropic drugs for nothing more than children's typical 
rambunctious behavior. According to the article ``Better but Not Best: 
Recent Trends in the Well-Bering of The Mentally Ill'' (Health Affairs, 
May/June 2009) in 2006 more than one in 20 children were prescribed 
medications for mental-health conditions!


  Many children have suffered harmful side effects from using 
psychotropic drugs. Some of the possible side effects include mania, 
violence, dependence, and weight gain. Yet, parents are already being 
threatened with child abuse charges if they resist efforts to drug 
their children. Imagine how much easier it will be to drug children 
against their parents' wishes if a federally-funded mental-health 
screener makes the recommendation.
  Universal or mandatory mental-health screening could also provide a 
justification for stigmatizing children from families that support 
traditional values. Even the authors of mental-health diagnosis manuals 
admit that mental-health diagnoses are subjective and based on social 
constructions. Therefore, it is all too easy for a psychiatrist to 
label a person's disagreement with the psychiatrist's political beliefs 
a mental disorder. For example, a federally-funded school violence 
prevention program lists ``intolerance'' as a mental problem that may 
lead to school violence. Because ``intolerance'' is often a code word 
for believing in traditional values, children who share their parents' 
values could be labeled as having mental problems and a risk of causing 
violence. If the mandatory mental-health screening program applies to 
adults, everyone who believes in traditional values could have his or 
her beliefs stigmatized as a sign of a mental disorder. Taxpayer 
dollars should not support programs that may label those who adhere to 
traditional values as having a ``mental disorder.''
  Mr. Speaker, universal or mandatory mental-health screening threatens 
to undermine parents' right to raise their children as the parents see 
fit. Forced mental-health screening could also endanger the health of 
children by leading to more children being improperly placed on 
psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, or stigmatized as ``mentally ill'' 
or a risk of causing violence because they adhere to traditional 
values. Congress has a responsibility to the nation's parents and 
children to stop this from happening. I, therefore, urge my colleagues 
to cosponsor the Parental Consent Act.

Here and below is Dr. Paul's tribute to libertarian scholar Thomas Szasz:



                             HON. RON PAUL

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, November 13, 2012

  Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert into the 
Congressional Record ``The Man versus the Therapeutic State,'' by Jacob 
Sullivan of Reason magazine. This piece pays tribute to Dr. Thomas 
Szasz, who passed away on September 8th of this year.
  Dr. Szasz, a trained psychiatrist, was the leading opponent of what 
he labeled the ``therapeutic state.'' For over fifty years, in 35 
books, and hundreds of articles, Dr. Szasz defended human liberty and 
dignity against modern psychiatry. Modern psychiatry, of course, 
insists that behaviors which deviate from some arbitrary norm serve as 
signs or symptoms of organic ``mental illnesses'' (although the 
physiological mechanisms never seem to be clearly identified, much less 
explained). Since ``sick people'' are incapable of controlling 
themselves, it is the responsibility of government to protect them by 
constraining their ability to make harmful choices.
  This is the mentality that Dr. Szasz fought against so valiantly. By 
applying the philosophy of liberty to psychiatry, Dr. Szasz undermined 
the ``individual as helpless victim'' mentality that helps justify 
restrictors on personal liberty when it comes to drugs, fatty foods, 
sodas, pornography, gambling, etc. Dr. Szasz clearly understood, and 
predicated, the rise of the therapeutic nanny state.
  No doubt Dr. Szasz could have enjoyed a successful career had he 
moderated his views or kept quiet instead of presenting a principled 
challenge to the psychiatric-government complex. But Dr. Szasz was one 
of those rare individuals who could not be silent when liberty was 
threatened. For his courage in speaking truth to power, Dr. Szasz was 
rewarded with ridicule and scorn from the gatekeepers of 
``respectable'' opinion. However, Dr. Szasz did find a receptive 
audience among the ranks of the liberty movement, where he quickly 
earned a place as one of the movement's most distinguished thinkers. 
With the recent growth of the liberty movement, I would not be 
surprised if Dr. Szasz's influence becomes greater in the next several 
years. Certainly, all of us who work for individual liberty should be 
grateful for Dr. Thomas Szasz's contributions to the cause of freedom.


                  The Man Versus the Therapeutic State

                           (By Jacob Sullum)

       The New York Times obituary for Thomas Szasz, who died this 
     month at the age of 92, says his critique of psychiatry ``had 
     some merit in the 1950s . . . but not later on, when the 
     field began developing more scientific approaches.'' That's a 
     paraphrase of historian Edward Shorter, whose judgment 
     reflects the conventional wisdom: Szasz called much-needed 
     attention to psychiatric abuses early in his career but went 
     too far by insisting on a fundamental distinction between 
     actual, biological diseases and metaphorical diseases of the 
       In fact, however, Szasz's radicalism, which he combined 
     with a sharp wit, a keen eye for obfuscating rhetoric, and an 
     uncompromising dedication to individual freedom and 
     responsibility, was one of his greatest strengths. Beginning 
     with The Myth of Mental Illness in 1961 and continuing 
     through 35 more books and hundreds of articles, the maverick 
     psychiatrist, driven by a ``passion against coercion,'' 
     zeroed in on the foundational fallacies underlying all manner 
     of medicalized tyranny.
       The idea that psychiatry became scientifically rigorous 
     soon after Szasz first likened it to alchemy and astrology is 
     hard to take seriously. After all, it was not until 1973 that 
     the American Psychiatric Association (APA) stopped calling 
     homosexuality a mental disorder.
       More often, psychiatry has expanded its domain. Today it 
     encompasses myriad sins and foibles, including smoking, 
     overeating, gambling, shoplifting, sexual promiscuity, 
     pederasty, rambunctiousness, inattentiveness, social 
     awkwardness, anxiety, sadness, and political extremism. If it 
     can be described, it can be diagnosed, but only if the APA 
     says so. Asperger's, for instance, will cease to exist when 
     the fifth edition of the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical 
     Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) comes out next year.
       As Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal 
     of Medicine, observed last year in The New York Review of 
     Books, ``there are no objective signs or tests for mental 
     illness--no lab data or MRI findings--and the boundaries 
     between normal and abnormal are often unclear. That makes it 
     possible to expand diagnostic boundaries or even create new 
     diagnoses in ways that would be impossible, say, in a field 
     like cardiology.'' In other words, mental illnesses are 
     whatever psychiatrists say they are.
       How ``scientific'' is that? Not very. In a 2010 Wired 
     interview, Allen Frances, lead editor of the current DSM, 
     despaired that defining mental disorders is ``bullshit.'' In 
     an online debate last month, he declared that ``mental 
     disorders most certainly are not diseases.''
       Then what exactly are they? For more than half a century, 
     Szasz stubbornly highlighted the hazards of joining such a 
     fuzzy, subjective concept with the force of law through 
     involuntary treatment, the insanity defense, and other 
     psychiatrically informed policies.
       Consider ``sexually violent predators,'' who are convicted 
     and imprisoned based on the premise that they could have 
     restrained themselves but failed to do so, then committed to 
     mental hospitals after completing their sentences based on 
     the premise that they suffer from irresistible urges and 
     therefore pose an intolerable threat to public safety. From a 
     Szaszian perspective, this incoherent theory is a cover for 
     what is really going on: the retroactive enhancement of duly 
     imposed sentences by politicians who decided certain 
     criminals were getting off too lightly--a policy so plainly 
     contrary to due process and the rule of law that it had to be 
     dressed up in quasi-medical, pseudoscientific justifications.
       Szasz specialized in puncturing such pretensions. He 
     relentlessly attacked the ``therapeutic state,'' the 
     unhealthy alliance of medicine and government that blesses 
     all sorts of unjustified limits on liberty, ranging from the 
     mandatory prescription system to laws against suicide. My own 
     work has been powerfully influenced by Szasz's arguments 
     against drug prohibition, especially his discussion of its 
     symbolism and its reliance on a mistaken understanding of 
     addiction, and his criticism of paternalistic interventions, 
     such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recently approved 
     soda serving ceiling, that conflate private and public 
       I will always be grateful for Szasz's courage and insight, 
     and so should anyone who shares his passion against coercion.




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