Labeling people insane or calling them mentally ill is an all too common and accepted practice.

In politics, the pseudo psych illness labeling is all too common. Pundits from the bully pulpit quick label opponents with pedestrian diagnoses such as “crazy”, “mentally ill,” “certifiably nuts,” “insane,” “retarded,” or “mentally disordered.” Affixing medically charged terms upon an individual or whole group is demeaning to the people who truly do suffer with brain injuries, organic abnormalities, trauma induced mental disorders, or neurophysiological debilitating disease.

Anyone who has treated or personally knows people suffering from illnesses of the brain including neurophysiological trauma should support such insipid political punditry. Such inappropriate individual medical labeling is often extended to diagnoses cast upon group members and affiliations. Dehumanization is often the end game with this kind of pedestrian diagnostic practice.

We all catch ourselves commenting that someone is “nuts” or “crazy” now and again, mea culpa. Intensive or extended ideological or political debate can slide into extreme personal invective, particularly on the web.

When media professionals or politicians use the public’s ear to cast mental health aspersions with reckless abandon,  we arrive upon a dangerous and slippery slope. Do not frame differences in ideology, political persuasion, affiliation, or personal beliefs using pedestrian medical diagnoses. Such behavior is truly no different from publicly airing an opponents physical ailments, disease suffering, chronic illness, or physiological diagnosis. Both practices are an immoral attempt at damaging character.

There are many examples of powerful organizations acting upon the implication that group membership alone is enough justification for diagnosing groups of people and herding them into “psychiatric” treatment facilities against their will. State mandated diagnosis and treatment is present even among mildly totalitarian societies. Small numbers of  politically motivated, highly educated practitioners on state payroll codify and enforce diagnoses.

Following a group diagnosis, mandatory treatment is often executed by marching order of the ruling party holding power. The “legal” treatment mandates enacted by ruling authorities are enforced by state officials using weapons, drugs, and incarceration (aka treatment institutions). These practices occur in democracies, dictatorships, kingdoms, and every flavor in between.

A good primer for an interested reader is the book Psychiatric Terror,” by Sidney Bloch. The totalitarian Soviet Union of the 20th century used medical diagnosis (see “Sluggish Schizophrenia”) to label patients acting in political opposition to the communist party dogma. Physicians working under state auspices devised a medical diagnosis for the political miscreants. The mental illness diagnosis justified state mandated hospitalization and forced treatment. These practices are always “legal” of course. The concepts of “moral” and “legal” are often juxtaposed.

We must not fool ourselves into believing that such state sanctioned atrocities are relics of the 20th century. There are many examples around the globe where politically motivated psychiatric treatment exists today, on a large-scale with state support. Medically justified abuse exists in many forms, not just psychiatric, and we must remain vigilent.

We must not fool ourselves into believing abuse of psychiatric diagnoses can never happen “here;” it has and it does. Anyone not familiar with the abuses in western democracies, the United States included, where diagnosis of mental illness justifies arrest, detainment, horrific treatment, isolation, and punishment for purposes of political expediency, should do a simple search on the topic. One can start researching here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_abuse_of_psychiatry

We must call out ideological and political debate that uses mental illness diagnosis upon an individual or group. Remember, it can be dangerous for anyone on the receiving end of such invective. If we ignore this behavior, we imply consent, and the practice normalizes. As a culture we can become desensitized to the leveraging of dangerous diagnostic practices politically motivated. We must resist great powers stamping diagnostic labels upon people and groups even when the crowd screams long and loud for such misapplication.

One must never forget that institutionalized treatment is more palatable to the public, but if mandated for political correction it is no more humane than a firing squad for the squelching of dissenters. In a healthy marketplace of ideas, free and open discourse thrives when debate focuses on concepts and dogma using logic and criticism without medical diagnostics accompanying such discourse.

Pedestrian diagnoses stokes the savage beasts into believing that counter opinion holders are miscreant, subhumans, suffering mental illness, and thus deserving of long overdue medical intervention necessary to restore their minds unto a straight and narrow path.

We must not allow ourselves to foolishly believe that health care, drugs, psychiatric intervention, and incarceration are appropriate political, theological, or philosophical adjustment tools. If we carelessly drift into such a belief, we can easily be manipulated to feel good about supporting what is essentially forced indoctrination under the guise of healthcare intervention.

What we practice individually can be leveraged collectively. Beware the slippery slope.

Dutifully yours,

The Drill Sargent

“Now drop and give me twenty!”

Copyright © 18APR17 by Steven A. Schwab