Thursday, April 19, 2007

The other Surge

If you think the word "Surge" applies only to Iraq, you're wrong. KTSP.com reports:

"The number of people coming to colleges who’ve had psychiatric treatment has increased tremendously," said Dr. Gerald Kay, a psychiatry professor at Wright State University and chair of the American Psychiatric Association committee on college mental health. ...

Reasons for the surge include the Americans with Disabilities Act, which gives mentally ill students the right to be at college, and increasingly sophisticated medications which enable them to function better than in the past. Recent surveys and studies underscore the scope of the increase.

A survey last year by the American College Health Association found that 8.5 percent of students had seriously considered suicide, and 15 percent were diagnosed for depression, up from 10 percent in 2000. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America found that 13 percent of students at major universities and 25 percent at liberal arts colleges are using campus mental health services.


So maybe Eugene Volkh is merely adapting to the changing times when he argues that qualified professors should not be prevented from carrying weapons to school.

Now of course if arming the five people for the extremely rare situation when they'll need to stop a madman will end up causing more harm than good in the much more common situations when there's no madman around, that might be a bad tradeoff. That is the argument I've heard against letting students possess weapons on-campus: They're young, they drink a lot, they'll start shooting when they get into a hot argument in class or at a debate. I'm not sure that's right, but let's say it is.

What, though, is the argument against allowing professors and other university staff to possess weapons, if they choose? (Assume the professors lack criminal records, and assume they go through whatever testing and modest training is required to get a concealed carry permit, or perhaps even some extra training.) One argument is that it's just dangerous for law-abiding citizens to have weapons, because they'll start shooting over arguments or fender-benders. But that's precisely the argument that has been rejected by the 38 states that allow any law-abiding citizen to get a concealed carry license (or, in 2 of the 38 states, to carry without a license). What's more, as I understand it, people who get such licenses have in fact almost never committed unjustified homicide or attempted homicide (or even lesser crimes) using their guns. Whatever the pluses or minuses of shall-issue, the "licenseholders will start shootouts over petty slights" theory has not been borne out.

But then flooding schools with people with mental problems and then arming professors seems like a hell of a way to run a railroad. Somewhere we have stumbled over a contradiction in our attitudes to modern life: that in pursuing our most altruistic instincts we have also opened the door to dangers against which we must defend ourselves. When we come forward with an open hand we are at our most vulnerable. Open societies are places of great possibility, for both good and evil.

27 Comments:

Blogger wretchard said...

Lockdown in California as man threatens schools. "Suspect threatened to ‘make Virginia Tech look mild,’ sheriff’s office says.

These are the kind of guys who watch Cho ranting on NBC and look forward to watching themselves on TV after they are dead.

4/19/2007 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Of course the man wasn't a student, just a guy who "called his pastor at the United Methodist Church on Wednesday evening and said he was armed with an AK-47 rifle, improvised explosive devices and poison and would seek to provoke a confrontation with police to 'commit suicide-by-cop.'"

Boy am I glad the pastor called the cops or otherwise let them know. The article goes on to say:

The scare comes as schools nationwide have been reporting would-be “copycat” threats in the wake of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech by Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people Monday before killing himself.

Maybe we ought to quit talking about this subject for a while.

4/19/2007 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Talking about mental hygiene or the lack thereof on campus:

Virginia Tech: "Muslims Cannot Pray For The Non-Muslim Dead

4/19/2007 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger ricpic said...

The only doctor worth a damn is time. With the exception of the truly miniscule psychotic population, what mental health professionals do to people who are going through what used to be called a bad patch, is criminal. Left alone, time heals periods of anxiety and melancholia. These two conditions, which afflict millions, are triggered by trauma of one sort or another. And just as they are triggered by trauma, the effects of the trauma wear off -- with time. No one knows how the mechanism works, but it does work for the overwhelming majority, who are ill, but only ill temporarily. The mental health industry wreaks havoc on the process with its coctail of chemicals and most of all, its insinuation that there is something radically wrong with these people. It is the infliction of another trauma on top of the trauma that got them into a bad state in the first place. No. Left to their own, people will simply recover themselves -- over time.

4/19/2007 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Tyler said...

ricpic- "The mental health industry wreaks havoc on the process with its coctail of chemicals and most of all, its insinuation that there is something radically wrong with these people"

First of all, there really IS something wrong with people who have severe mental illness. That's like saying that there is nothing radically wrong with someone who has heart disease. Offering time, and denying them current therapies seems cruel. Yes, time will cure that disease too, but mabye not the way we hope.

You're right that not all the drugs are great and can have mean side effects, but they have made huge advances and really help people today. I don't know if you've ever spoken with a schizophrenic patient starting meds, but it's a dramatic change.

One of the biggest advances in psychiatry came in the sixties with drugs like thorazine which allowed schizophrenics to be somewhat functional and convinced the public that they should de-institutionalize these people. Before these anti-psychotics were available, all society could do was lock them up and let time do its thing. Now we actually have meds to help these people get closer towards a functional life, which seems much more humane than having to lock them up in a crazy house.

4/19/2007 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger JacksonvillePat said...

Perhaps the best solution to airline security was to place armed Air Marshals on planes. Not knowing who could be an armed air marshal on a plane has a great deterent effect upon hijackers. I wonder if there would have been a different outcome on 9-11 if there were Air marshals on the planes flown into the Towers.

I'm sure that there are many young Marines, proficient in the use of weapons with traits of remarkable discipline under extreme stress, who would be greatfull to have the opportunity for a free education by agreeing to sit in a classroom with a conceled weapon prepared to respond to a dangerous situation.

Those who have not served in combat with our Marines may be uncomfortable with this idea. I would welcome a former Marine with a concealed weapon in my daughter's classroom.

I also recall attending evening college many years ago when a police officer taking an evening class came from work in his uniform and an idiot disrupted the class insiting that no one be allowed in the classroom armed. Rather than being concerned I though that an Abnormal Psychology class was a good subject for a policeman to take in the evening.

4/19/2007 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger JacksonvillePat said...

Perhaps the best solution to airline security was to place armed Air Marshals on planes. Not knowing who could be an armed air marshal on a plane has a great deterent effect upon hijackers. I wonder if there would have been a different outcome on 9-11 if there were Air marshals on the planes flown into the Towers.

I'm sure that there are many young Marines, proficient in the use of weapons with traits of remarkable discipline under extreme stress, who would be greatfull to have the opportunity for a free education by agreeing to sit in a classroom with a conceled weapon prepared to respond to a dangerous situation.

Those who have not served in combat with our Marines may be uncomfortable with this idea. I would welcome a former Marine with a concealed weapon in my daughter's classroom.

I also recall attending evening college many years ago when a police officer taking an evening class came from work in his uniform and an idiot disrupted the class insiting that no one be allowed in the classroom armed. Rather than being concerned I though that an Abnormal Psychology class was a good subject for a policeman to take in the evening.

4/19/2007 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

wretchard:

The more I have thought about it, the more I think the late Cho Seung-hui's essential problem was that he was an immature young man with a lack of emotional self-control so severe that he wound up embarrassing, shaming, and angering his extended family.

Modern technology may be exciting, but it has also empowered the immature.

There comes a time when it should not matter what one's motivation for a crime is -- it ought to matter far more whether a crime is being committed. The mainstream media seem to be far too interested in whether an atrocity is attached to a political manifesto than whether the atrocity is the manifesto.

Jose Antonio Primo de la Rivera (leader of the Spanish Falange) had his own version of dialectical materialism. He called it the "pistol dialectic". What we see with the late Mr. Cho appears to be the pistol soliloquoy.

4/19/2007 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/20/2007 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

I suppose I land somewhere between ricpic and tyler on this. Ummm..

According to Dr. Kay, the number of people entertaining colleges who've experienced mental health treatment has increased tremendously. In and of itself, this is really no reason to think that the average student is any more troubled than in the past. Psychiatric treatment options have expanded dramatically in recent years and become more normal and to be expected. Undoubtedly the number of students who've accessed the internet is significantly higher than it was 20 years ago, too.

Even the numbers of those diagnosed with depression or claiming to have considered suicide don't exactly surprise me. Life has always been tough and for many people the period in life when they are in college is not exactly the fun and games of "Animal House" and other grand myths. In different times these problems were referred to as spiritual problems, angst, or the normal pressures of adapting to the world and finding one's place. Holden Caufield burst into the national consciousness in 1951 leading us to believe that we had screwed up people even in the good old days, as well as plenty of people who felt that they could relate to him. It seems as if nowadays we've characterized anything other than happiness and effortless living as a mental illness, complete with fancy diagnostic codes to apply for insurance benefits and disability claims.

Whether it's all good or bad, an improvement or a mass perversion, I'm not really comfortable with saying. Undoubtedly, there are many people who are getting help. And undoubtedly a vast array of litigators, chemists, marketers and counselors are able to make a comfortable living while doing very little to improve anyone's life. But in the meantime I'd encourage people to have a little skepticism towards such ostensibly shocking numbers and look a little less at what those numbers claim to be pointing at and look a little more closely at the vast array of interests who profit from creating a diagnostic label or a protected social class.

People are probably pretty much the same as they ever were. Overstimulation, information overload and even multiple synthetic chemicals in our food and environment can probably combine to produce some suboptimal or neurotic functioning. But on the other hand labor saving devices, surplus income and government largess can all combine to lead to vast numbers of idle minds looking for something to fix. There are more than a few social scientists who claim to have done research to indicate conservatives like those who read this blog *are* suffering from a variety of ailments.

Perhaps one day soon you, too, will be found mentally ill.

4/20/2007 01:00:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

The mind of Cho Seung-hui appears to have turned into the Rohrschach Inkblot Test of our time. That which we say about him tells at least as much about us as it does about him, much like blind men describing an elephant.

4/20/2007 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

And perhaps someday, you, JK, will be found sane.

4/20/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

The demons are legion. Here's another.

“If a South Korean student is regarded as a berserk killer for murdering thirty people what is President Bush, whose invasion to control oil-rich Iraq has cost nearly three quarters of a million lives, created four million refugees, and plunged the Middle East into turmoil?”

[…]

“Who is responsible for the killings in Iraq except the same now bereaved parents of the murdered students at Virginia Tech? It's not that some of them voted to elect George Bush. Anyone can be deceived, particularly by a notorious liar. But when the president broke the law and invaded Iraq, violating the UN Charter, how many of them protested? Today they are upset that a young, crazed gunman has ran amok on the campus of a peaceful university, but where were they when President Bush defied the United Nations and ran amok in Iraq?”

[…]

“America as a nation has become an organized nightmare. Yesterday, the nation woke up to the pain of the kind of killing it has been inflicting widely around the world since its fleets of bombers roared out to destroy Dresden…”

___Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based columnist. For comments or to arrange for speaking engagements contact him at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com.

Massacre at Va Tech

Someone should arrange to talk with Mr. Ross.

***

4/20/2007 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

At least to offer him a few sources for the UN history viz OIF, and viz the number of deaths in that war. He's just MSU.

And "Dresden" --what a dirty cheap shot. Wonder if he knows anything--anything at all--about WWII.

4/20/2007 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

re: And "Dresden" --what a dirty cheap shot. Wonder if he knows anything--anything at all--about WWII.

You cannot ask that question, per the Americans with Disabilities Act. Moreover, his Pell grants only took him to the Treaties of Münster and Osnabrück, and he was five minutes late for class that day.

4/20/2007 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

allen, exactly. He has a few bumper-sticker words.

4/20/2007 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

A light shining in the darkness:

A Hero Is Laid to Rest

H/T Gateway Pundit
c/o Pajamas Media

4/20/2007 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Should've heard what Dennis Miller said about him, on his Wed. O'Rielly segment.

Something about, "...he looked at that narrow window in the door, and saw the same eyes that he had seen as a child under the SS. And he went toward them, to save not himself but the rest."

Something like that. It was touching, alright.

4/20/2007 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I just wish the old man had had a weapon--now as then. "Gun-Free" zones, bah, now as then.

4/20/2007 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Three or four .45 ACP slugs going the other way through that door would've been a show-stopper.

4/20/2007 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

I can also imagine how Professor Liviu Librescu began his day. I doubt he hit the snooze button several times and barely made it to class, unkempt and groggy. He was probably up before dawn and working at his research hours before he had to lecture. He surely did not expect to encounter hell on earth once more, not on an April day at Virginia Tech. Yet when he heard the clang of gun shots, he knew what he was hearing, as he had heard it before — the shots of Nazi executioners when, as a young boy, he survived a concentration camp. Librescu ran to the door, blocked it, and told his students to escape.

While one man, with his freedom, was showing us a picture of hell, another was testifying with that same freedom to freedom’s source and purpose.


Hell On Earth

4/20/2007 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/20/2007 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

The professor may have been the only person in the building that day to have seen before genuine evil.

For those who watched the Cho tapes, evil incarnate was on display. When next someone hears that voice or stares into those eyes, an alarm will sound as it did with the professor. To that extent, NBC did the innocent a favor. This episode brings to mind the Screwtape Letters.

Of course, all those media moguls who hid the gross realities of 9/11 from the viewing public were incensed. After all, the public cannot be entrusted with such emotional baggage; why, what would happen if the American public began to act like the Americans of old when confronted by evil? Well, in all probability, justice would become speedy and final, and folk like Cho would be off the streets and in asylums*.

* For those too young to remember, asylums for the criminally insane were once respected and well used fixtures in every community of consequence.

4/20/2007 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

> When next someone hears that voice or stares into those eyes, an alarm will sound

That's why I agree with some portion of the killer's propaganda being broadcast. People will know once and for all that the killer was evil and crazy but nothing else, not a martyr, not a victim, ...

It also disproves the left wing idea that everyone is reasonable and we can have peace just by talking.

4/20/2007 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Part of the problem is defining mental illness down. Lot's of kids in middle and high school, not to mention elementary schools, are medicated to keep them from acting out. Especially boys. What used to be just a boisterous kid is now sent to counseling and diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, or some other newly discovered disorder.

Once they are diagnosed, they are now placed into the Special Ed programs and fall under the ADA and other legislation.

So, they are not only stigmatized as having a mental disorder, they are also tagged as needing special programs to learn.

Hence part of the increase in kids with mental disorders enrolling in college.

I speak from personal experience at seeing how the system "helps" a young boy adjust.

4/21/2007 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Josh Scholar said...

It occured to me after Beslan that if that trend ever continued, we would need to break up schools in to separate buildings and post armed guards for each class.

Of course arming the teachers could save a lot of money on armed guards.

4/22/2007 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

josh scholar:

Let's just hope none of the teachers is the kind of complete loser who might turn that gun against his students! I've had at least one teacher who wouldn't have surprised me if he had turned his gun on his students...

4/22/2007 09:21:00 PM  

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