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

In politics, the pseudo psych illness labeling is pervasive. 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 disease.

Anyone who has treated or personally knows people suffering from illnesses of the brain including physical trauma should not support such insipid political punditry. Inappropriate medical labeling often extends to diagnoses cast upon group members and group affiliations. Dehumanization of individuals or group members is often the end game with these politically motivated pedestrian diagnostic practices.

We all catch ourselves commenting that someone is “nuts” or “crazy” now and again, mea culpa. Intensive or extended ideological and political debate can slide into personal invective, particularly on the web. Labels get thrown around in anger or jest between friends or small groups, so be it.

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. Framing differences in ideology, political persuasion, affiliation, or personal beliefs using pedestrian medical diagnoses is truly no different from publicly airing an opponents alleged physical ailments, disease suffering, or chronic illness. Both practices are an immoral attempt at damaging character.

There are many examples of powerful organizations labeling and diagnosing whole groups of people to justify herding them into “psychiatric” treatment facilities against their will. State mandated diagnosis and treatment, motivated by political expediency exists even among mildly totalitarian societies. Highly educated practitioners on state payroll, and under direct order, can codify and enforce diagnoses.

Following group diagnosis, mandatory treatment can be 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). Examples of this practice can be found in democracies, dictatorships, and kingdoms.

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”) on patients acting in political opposition to the communist party dogma. Physicians working under state auspices devised a medical diagnosis for political miscreants. The mental illness diagnosis justified state mandated hospitalization and forced treatment.

These practices are always “legal” of course. The state ensures it. The concepts of “moral” and “legal” are often juxtaposed.

Such state sanctioned atrocities are not just relics of the 20th century. There are many current examples around the globe where politically motivated psychiatric treatment exists, even on a large-scale with state support. Medically justified abuse exists in many forms, not just psychiatric, but we must remain informed and alert to it.

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 should call out ideological and political debate that uses mental illness diagnosis slapped on  individuals or groups. It can be dangerous for anyone or any group on the receiving end of such invective.  We should not allow the practice to normalize.

We should rally against media organizations that foolishly stamp pedestrian diagnostic labels on people and groups, even when the crowd screams long and loud for such misapplication. Institutional mental health treatment is beneficial, 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 debating focuses on logic and criticism without non-professional medical diagnostics accompanying such discourse.

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

We must not allow ourselves to foolishly believe that mental health care, psychotropic 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