Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Government Controlled Health Care and Mental Illness

 My biggest concern over government controlled healthcare has less to do with party politics and more to do with giving any govermental body control over our minds. Once the government gets hold of the ever expanding Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR, 2000, Fourth Edition, which now has almost 1000 pages worth of mental illnesses, they hold the equivalent of The Malleus Maleficarum. This ancient text, first published in 1486-7, was the standard medieval text on witchcraft. It remained in print throughout the early modern period. Similar to the DSM it describes what is normal and what is not and the ways to "fix things" that don't fit into "normal" society. Thomas Szasz calls the modern  Western proclivity to resort to accusations of "mental illness" as being the equivalent of the Catholic Inquisition. We no longer accuse people of being possessed in order to ostracize them socio-politically, but resort to labeling them with pathologizing terminology. Szasz argues that the old religious model has been transferred to the modern medical psychiatric model. Same result: One receives an "authoritative" label, stigmatization follows, and then one is handed over to the state run institutions to be removed from normal society, treated and "fixed" or incarcerated by the new priests--therapists and social workers.

Recently, someone I know discovered who I was voting for in the 2012 presidential election and wrote me a concerned email saying, "Some of your friends think you have lost your sanity." I had to smile. The same person would mock Christians for accusing someone of demon possession, but unquestioningly resorted to the modern scientistic parallel of being possessed by "mental illness". I was clearly not in "the right, or left mind". I assured her that I was certainly insane, as the word in-sane can mean "partly there". I also made it clear that we are all somewhat insane, and thanked her for the compliment. Watch out for people who think they are sane--they are the most dangerous kind of people.

Now, back to the government controlling "mental health". Imagine either a democrat or a republican majority, or even both parties conjointly, appointing those who adjudicate what is "normal" and revising the DSM, which is done every few years, to reflect their judgments--adding illnesses like criticizing the president, disagreeing with the majority, being a Tea Party member or Occupy Wall Street member. It is a very short step to adding new mental illnesses to the "Book" and seizing control of the minds of the citizens, just as the Church tried to do in parts of Europe with their "Book" in the 15th century. I think Orwell called Governmentally run mental healthcare the Ministry of Love.

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