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:
INTRODUCING THE PARENTAL CONSENT ACT ______ 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:
TRIBUTE TO 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 mind. 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 health. I will always be grateful for Szasz's courage and insight, and so should anyone who shares his passion against coercion. ____________________
Tags: Ron Paul, gun control, mental health screenming