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  #51  
Old 01-16-2011, 02:42 PM
MoMoNoMo MoMoNoMo is offline
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Exactly. The document was the imperfect product of gifted but imperfect men, the product of vast (if necessary) compromise, not a God-given compact with man. It dates from a time more than two centuries ago, reflecting the needs of a country wildly different from ours in racial, ethnic and cultural composition, in a time of horse-pulled carts and clipper ships.
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  #52  
Old 01-16-2011, 03:06 PM
KenA55 KenA55 is offline
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Not really a question of interpretation, but rather one of direction. The constitution exists to limit Federal government, and protect individual liberty from government intrusion. That's the heart and soul of the great experiment. Policy aimed at expanding the reach of Federal government into new areas is diametrically opposed to the intent of the constitution. There is no trace of libel in the observation that this administration is intent on pushing the Federal envelope outwards, as was the last, and the one previous to that. And so on... it isn't some sort of new and recent thing.

Forget interpretation, the principle at stake is whether centralized govt expansion can be limited by such a founding credo, the answer does seem to be probably not, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try (and try again as the present structures collapse into bankruptcy under their own weight).
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  #53  
Old 01-16-2011, 03:15 PM
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The constitution exists to limit Federal government, and protect individual liberty from government intrusion.

Technically, the founders claimed that they were writing the constitution " in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,"
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  #54  
Old 01-16-2011, 04:21 PM
MoMoNoMo MoMoNoMo is offline
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But perhaps we'd be wiser, on this thread, to focus on the questions raised by Zat about the inadequacies of mental health care (and related legal issues) in this country. I heard a psychologist on CNN say today that if Loughner's problem had been a sick kidney instead of a sick mind, he would have gotten speedy medical care. Sick bodies we can deal with; sick minds leave us perplexed.
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Old 01-16-2011, 04:24 PM
KenA55 KenA55 is offline
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If we could predict and control the output of everybody's melon, should we?
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  #56  
Old 01-16-2011, 04:33 PM
KKreme15 KKreme15 is offline
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If we could predict and control the output of everybody's melon, should we?
If the output of someone's melon puts society in danger, yes.
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  #57  
Old 01-17-2011, 02:32 PM
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If we could predict and control the output of everybody's melon, should we?
Exactly.

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If the output of someone's melon puts society in danger, yes.
Exactly again. But how do we know when that is?

Henry David Thoreau once said, "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." Right now, we have millions of people not even hacking at the branches of this problem; they're hacking at the leaves. Make that "leaf." And while I wouldn't use the term "evil" (though in some instances that's exactly what it is, rather than a psychiatric issue), Ken and KKreme have hit at least part of the root.

This is probably the biggest barrier to prevent incidents like we saw in Arizona. But it's also why everyone wants to talk about irrelevant and unrelated issues rather than tackle what's really at the core. This is a much harder subject than "so-and-so was mean and if they'd just be nice we wouldn't have all these problems."

Just because you're psychotic doesn't automatically make you dangerous. As I've said, many of these people aren't identified because the onset of some of these conditions doesn't occur until their 20s. They have no history of mental illness, and they slowly slip into psychosis. People around them may notice they're behaving oddly, but that's as far as it goes. Nobody knows what to do and even if they did, there's not much that can be done under our current system. Some aren't identified until they've already killed or injured themselves or someone else.

I want to focus on those we have identified, and we have, perhaps, some indications of a propensity to be dangerous. That's where I believe the greatest opportunities lie in correcting this situation.

I said earlier I would discuss a case I was involved in that is a microcosm. It's tough for me to write about this, so it took me a day or so to gear up. I was rushing when I mentioned it earlier, and said I was appointed as the guardian ad litem. I wasn't; I was appointed to represent the mom in a case where the boy had a guardian ad litem in a child in need of care case.

I have to ask you to go along with me for the ride: this story has a few twists. Here goes:

I used to office downtown, and every attorney who worked in that county was on the appointment list for family court. We all hated it, frankly.

I was appointed to represent the mother of a five-year-old boy who was the subject of a child in need of care (CINC, pronounced "sink") case. The mom and dad of the boy were married, and mom operated an in-home day care. Dad worked odd jobs sporadically outside the home, and was home a good amount of time.

The case had been opened because the mother had been accused of killing a three-year-old child in her in-home day care. The CINC case was opened to determine if there was any threat to the boy living in that home. He was placed in foster care with, appropriately enough, a family where the dad was child psychologist.

When I first received the file, there were scarce details: The three-year-old had died of blunt-force trauma to the head and all indications were that it happened while he was in mom's care. However, it had taken some time to pinpoint the time of the injury to mom's daycare. It was a few days before mom was arrested. Mom seemed erratic when interviewed by the police. There were apparently no witnesses, which struck me as odd for a few reasons.

Before I met with mom, I spoke to the guardian ad litem for the son told me that mom had some "extensive" psychiatric disorders, including multiple personality disorder. It was unclear when this first became known. She was now under a psychiatrists care and on various meds. I scribbled down the names and called a psychiatrist friend for some quick feedback regarding the meds. I wanted as much information as I could get before meeting with mom. He clued me in on what to expect, and it wasn't a very pretty picture.

Mom was in jail, being held without bond. I met with her in the county jail in an attorney meeting room. She was shackled, of course, but other than that appeared quite normal . . . at first. We introduced ourselves and I explained that I represented her in the case about her son. She knew about it, and understood I was not there for her criminal case. I started with a few very basic questions just to test her level of awareness (the experience of all of those commitment hearings and the thousands of pages of medical records and hours of expert testimony from psychiatrists came in handy).

She was, as the shrinks say, "oriented as to time, place and person." She knew who she was, who I was, where she was, when it was and why I was there. She understood our conversation was privileged and she could speak freely. Okay, I can work with this, I thought.

As we began retracing what happened, however, I began to see what my psychiatrist friend had described. Gradually I began to get a story that was basically told from the view of several different witnesses. Except . . . they were all her. And they all saw and heard different things. I managed to figure out that she had seen some kind of mental health professional in the past, but it wasn't clear who, when or why. I did get a consistent story that, for some reason, she sought counseling with some pastor she knew a day or two after the incident. It appeared that some kind of "casting out of demons" ceremony had taken place, but given the nature of her illness, I couldn't be sure about that.

However, as we were nearing the end of the interview, she suddenly seemed as lucid as she had been in the beginning, and she said something that surprised me. "I know I'll never see my son again, and I've already accepted that," she said, "so there isn't anything you can really do for me. But there is something you can do for my son." I asked what that was, and she said, "Make sure my husband doesn't get him. He's just as sick as I am, and I want our son to have a better chance. Please don't let the court give him to my husband." I told her I would do what I could, thanked her and left.

We also learned that numerous other injuries to other kids were now being traced back to mom. She'd been at this for a while, and hurt a lot of kids. It took finally killing one to get anything done.

As I was leaving the jail, I was puzzled. She seemed very lucid when she made those last statements, but I hadn't heard about any mental issues with dad. However, we were scheduled to depose dad in a few days and the attorney appointed to represent dad had been, coincidentally, my law journal editor in law school. Records for dad had been requested but wouldn't be available until the deposition.

Dad's deposition took a full afternoon. Dad seemed very slow, almost borderline mentally retarded, but his responses seemed honest. Something was bugging me, though, and I couldn't put my finger on it. I kept looking for whatever it was mom was talking about and didn't see it; I was beginning to think mom wasn't as lucid as I'd thought when she made those comments. Dad's records didn't really reveal anything, either. Still . . . I just couldn't put my finger on it but something didn't seem right. All of my spidey senses were tingling and they are almost never wrong in those situations. I've learned that when they tingle, to keep digging because there's something there. What wasn't I seeing?

As the afternoon wore on, we discovered that dad had been in bicycle accident when he was 14 and suffered a severe closed-head injury and had permanent brain damage. He never went to school again after the age of 14. I also began to figure out that dad had been in the home when not only this injury occurred but also most of the others that had been discovered. He seemed incredibly unaware of just about anything he was asked about. Continued questioning began to reveal that didn't know ANYTHING about children, not even his own son.

After his head injury, he was raised largely in isolation by what can only be called a cult. A later interview with one of the members left me feeling ice cold. He never again received medical care of any kind at the choice of the "cult." Work eventually brought him to the metro area, where he stayed.

Slowly I began to get a realization that gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach: Dad was either (1) present and maybe even involved in inflicting these injuries or (2) so incredibly detached and unable to process events happening right in front of him that he didn't grasp what was going on in his own house, often right in his presence. Of the two, the second scenario actually concerned me more. It was also the one I feared was correct.

And I was about to see something that confirmed it.

We obtained the police video of the interview of the five-year-old son in the criminal case. The interview as conducted by a female court services case worker. It was conducted in the form of a play session. It began with small talk as she gradually asked questions about his family mixed in with his favorite sports and other things. Gradually the boy became more open. Slowly and very gently she turned to the day this incident happened.

Eventually, I got to watch this exchange on the video:

Court services worker: "So you were home that day?"
Boy: "Yeah, I was out of school." [he went to kindergarten 1/2 days]
CSW: "Did you know the little boy who got hurt?'
B: "Yeah, he was real nice."
CSW: "I haven't heard what happened to him."
B: "He was acting up. Mom held his arms like this [demonstrates] and hit his head against the kitchen chair until he settled down and would listen."
CSW: "Oh, I hadn't heard that." *hesitates*, then, "What kind of kitchen chairs do you have?"
B: "They're wood."
CSW: "And you saw this happen?"
B: "Yeah. Dad was there, too."
CSW: "He was? Did he see it?"
B: "Yeah."
CSW: "What did he do?"
B: "Nothin.' He just lets mom handle stuff."
CSW: "What happened after that?"
B: "He finally settled down but I guess mom musta hit him on the chair too hard or somethin.' I feel real bad he died. I liked him a lot."

The boy's version in the video was largely confirmed by other other evidence. I'll never forget watching a five-year-old boy describe his mother smashing the skull of three-year-old against a wooden chair. I can still picture the video today.

Mom would later testify that she thought the boy was possessed, and was trying to get the demon out of him. Shrinks testified that this was consistent with her condition and very unlikely to be a ploy for leniency.

I was convinced that mom was correct about dad, and so was everyone else involved. At the hearing, my focus was on the father not getting custody and that the best interests of the son were served by a termination of both parents rights. The expert testimony was unanimous on that as well and that was the ruling of the court.

The boy was eventually adopted by his foster family.

Along the way, we learned about how many people had encountered issues with mom and dad and either didn't know what to do or the system didn't have the right box to check to help them. Here are just a few of the missed opportunities:
  • Turns out mom had been diagnosed prior to this incident but didn't think she needed treatment. Because the mental health professional had no evidence that she was a threat to herself or others (he didn't know about the other injuries) there was no way to force mom into any kind of treatment.
  • Despite this diagnosis. mom maintained a day care license. The state knew nothing. Her medical records were private.
  • Mom and dad had been evaluated by the school because of issues with the son and concerns by teachers. Again, nothing to compel treatment, no way to seek a commitment because the harm component was missing.
  • There were lay clergy who were aware that mom was deeply disturbed but lacked the education or training to know who to refer her to or even what she needed.
  • Incident reports were filed on some of the other injuries, but no action was taken; investigators were unaware of mom's diagnosis.
  • Parents who observed odd behavior never reported it, and simply moved to a new day care.
  • Dad eventually had multiple diagnoses related to his closed-head injury and subsequent isolation in the cult. One doctor told me privately that the best way he could describe dad was "conscious and alert but comatose." Dad was never implicated.
What makes this such a good microcosm for the problem is that these people were on the radar of multiple people and agencies, but nobody could do anything because we don't have a way of treating these folks until law enforcement gets involved.

What has to be found is a way to get to these people before it's law enforcements problem. Ken and KKreme's quotes are a huge issue, and the potential for abuse in deciding who needs treatment, and then compelling them to get it, is enormous. It is the ultimate Big Brother scenario. We have to find a way to navigate all of this to find a solution that gets help to who needs it while preserving individual liberty and civil rights.

The more time people waste jawing about the laughable nonsense about political speech, the more time we lose in educating the public and elected officials about this issue and getting them engaged in finding a solution.
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Last edited by Zat0pek : 01-17-2011 at 05:19 PM.
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  #58  
Old 01-20-2011, 02:25 PM
MoMoNoMo MoMoNoMo is offline
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Zat, that is a fascinating, if deeply disturbing, story. It's hard to imagine no parent had reported these folks to authorities sooner. Maybe I missed it, but what WAS the woman diagnosed with?
As to the whole political speech thing, I know you treat it with contempt, and clearly there was some early wrongful jumping to conclusions (and I'll admit to having leapt a bit too far myself) but I still don't see how you can completely dismiss the very possibility of an angry environment being A -- repeat A -- factor in tipping someone over the edge, unless you can somehow prove that a paranoid schizophrenic is utterly and completely unaffected by his/her environment. So far you've merely blown this point off.
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Old 01-20-2011, 02:46 PM
MoMoNoMo MoMoNoMo is offline
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After a little research, here's what I found in the "Clinical Handbook of Schizophrenia" on the question of whether environment plays a role in pushing such people to violence.

"The link between anger and violence is not a simple one. Whereas anger can be an activator of aggression, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to induce violence. ... This is very relevant for people with psychosis, whose experience and response to anger-provoking events may be partly influenced by not only their delusional thinking but also their day-to-day life within adverse, controlling, disrespectful and unempathic environments."

The handbook lists four factors to study in linking psychotics and violence: 1) the patient's underlying illness; 2) substance use; 3) anger; and 4) environmental factors.
***
It would be hard to argue that political speech these days -- when we are bombarded by largely negative and often hate-filled messages from television, radio and the Internet -- is not a part of the environment.
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  #60  
Old 01-21-2011, 08:20 AM
KenA55 KenA55 is offline
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In this particular case, though, I don't believe there was any real history of prior violence. Ultimately we can't predict who will erupt violently when there is no prior history of that, it's the track record that counts, and until there is such a record it becomes very problematic to apply controls to millions based on actions of a handful. I think the best solutions are the present solutions; keep our response retroactive rather than massively proactive. We can on the other hand work at doing a better job when it comes to failure to notice and document violent behavior when it does occur.

The whole political rhetoric angle is very much a non-issue both in this case as well as generally, in my opinion; more of an attempt to simply apply more political pressure against the other side than to actually fix anything that needs fixing. The best scenario is again already in play... the individual chooses his/her own positions and style of expression and the individual on the receiving end is the censor, free to walk away or shut the thing off in the case of media expression.

I thought the initial remarks of the local sheriff regarding political rhetoric, as reported far and wide right away in the media, were a huge leap toward judgment and very uncharacteristic of law enforcement, which generally stays pretty quiet in that regard pending actual investigation and the emergence of real facts. I still wonder and wondered right away whether he launched into those comments purely self-propelled, or whether interviewers drew that out of him prematurely because that was the primary line of inquiry. If he was self-propelled and pursuing his own political bent with those statements about political rhetoric as well as premature speculation about involvement of more than one person, then he's probably not a particularly good fit in his position in that regard at least, and hopefully has learned the value of silence until the facts come in. I think his statements, assuming they were accurately reported, really launched and added to the whole political rhetoric frenzy that the media attached to this story, became the story even to some degree. Much ado about nothing, in my opinion. I do think it would be a very negative thing for this country if such a frenzy were to lead to greater censorship of free speech, however that censorship were applied.

I lost count of how many commentators I heard deplore rhetoric draped in violent metaphor recently; I can only shake my head and remind everyone who cares that this country was conceived and delivered by citizens not only unshy about such metaphor, but willing to back that up with action. Without that, individual freedom and individual sovereignty will surely be lost and those who value the security of the all-encompassing government nanny-blanket will prevail in turning this country into something deplorably opposite what originally blossomed and grew here.
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