09 November 2005

And How is One Certified as Sane?

Although this story is a year old, one of our students brought it to my attention last evening. According to the British Medical Journal (and numerous other sources), Bush plans to screen whole US population for mental illness
A sweeping mental health initiative will be unveiled by President George W Bush in July. The plan promises to integrate mentally ill patients fully into the community by providing "services in the community, rather than institutions...

According to the commission, "Each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviours and emotional disorders." Schools, wrote the commission, are in a "key position" to screen the 52 million students and 6 million adults who work at the schools.

The commission also recommended "Linkage [of screening] with treatment and supports" including "state-of-the-art treatments" using "specific medications for specific conditions." The commission commended the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a "model" medication treatment plan that "illustrates an evidence-based practice that results in better consumer outcomes."
In other words, everyone gets screened, and issued the right drug to treat what ails 'em. One of the respondents to the article reports,
The Bush screening program asks a variety of questions about mental well-being. Examples include: "In the last year, has there been a time when nothing was fun for you and you just weren't interested in anything?" and "Has there been a time when you couldn't think as clearly or as fast as usual?"

Is this for real? Taken in account the abovementioned questions, every US citizen will be a candidate to be labelled mentally ill... So, according to this plan, which seems to be going ahead, EVERY man, woman and child in the United States is to be screened, analyzed and monitored by the US government and legal enforceable personalized "care" regimes applied to those exhibiting signs of "mental illness"
Imagine a society in which people who believe the government is acting against their interests, and that members of the government may be conspiring to commit nefarious acts, (like... I don't know... how about thrusting the country into a costly war under false pretenses that will benefit certain business interests while costing tens of thousands of lives, two thousand of which - and counting - are American lives), are mandatorily screened, diagnosed as being delusional with paranoid tendencies, and medicated to shut them up. This strategy is far more effective (in theory, at least) than directly suppressing their speech, or making them disappear, as often occurs in other, less sophisticated, fascist regimes. I'm just saying...

There is much discussion in response to the article on the BMJ site.
(Thanks Paula!)
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