Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hinckley case reveals what a sham "treatment" for "mental illness" sometimes is (and how intrusive it can be)

The Washington Post front page today has a story by Del Quentin Wilber which questions just how much we  view “mental illness” as such (“nothing to be ashamed of” as they said in the 60s) or a way out of a legal trap. 

The story is “Hinckley: Man on the mend, or a danger?” in print, and online “’Flawed’ but improving, but a danger?”, link here.

The story details the psychiatric, court and Secret Service supervision of John W. Hinckley, Jr., now 56, on his “passes” to the “outside” world, visits to his mother, now 86, in Williamsburg, VA.  (For me, there is a bit of irony in that city, but that’s another matter.)

The story mentions his “narcissistic personality disorder” and, yes, he is treated with meds, but the therapy is intrusive beyond imagination.  The story relates his telling his therapist about the movies “Captain America” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” when actually he “skipped” them when driven to the mall and went to bookstores, where supposedly he looked at books on presidents. Well, maybe he didn’t.   The story also talks about his “inappropriate” attempts at socializing with women, which may be understandable for someone living life on a tether. 

Back in the 1980s, a forensic clinical psychologist whom I had befriended in Dallas just said, “insanity is a legal term. He is crazy, and he is guilty.”

I also remember, back in 1980, a sense of relief in the Dallas gay community when we learned that the “object of his affections” had indeed been female. 

Here's a Time editorial from March 24, 2011. It's titled "Freedom is too good for Hinckley".

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