Monday, September 20, 2010

Return of the Hospital Gulag?

It's the old Soviet model: Opposition to the State is by definition, insane. Therefore the proper place for political dissidents is jail or mental hospitals receiving... treatment.

Welcome to Canada in 2010:

Murray Dobbin writes about The BC Attorney General's argument for why a non-violent environmental protester should be imprisoned practically indefinitely:
"When an accused has been convicted of a serious crime in itself calling for a substantial sentence and when he suffers from some mental or personality disorder rendering him a danger to the community but not subjecting him to confinement in a mental institution and when it is uncertain when, if ever, the accused will be cured of his affliction, in my opinion the appropriate sentence is one of life."

The implications are unnerving. If you are someone prepared to fight for social justice or environmental stewardship the courts could start treating you as someone with a mental disorder that needs to be (forcibly?) cured. In short, democratic activism by citizens will be seen as pathological.

(There is a rally in support of Betty Krawczyk at Criminal and Appeals Court, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C. at 9:30 on Sept 22nd.)

Within hours of hearing about this draconian government assault on civil liberties, I got a link to a story about some planned additions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in the U.S. If that title doesn't scare you just on its own, one of the additions to the definition of crazy should.

According to Mark Nestmann -- on his financial advice blog -- one of the new mental illnesses is:

" ...‘oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).' DSM defines ODD as ‘an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior toward authority figures.' Symptoms include losing one's temper, annoying people and being ‘touchy.'

While diagnosis of ODD "victims" focuses on children, there's no reason why ODD can't exist in adults. Indeed, ODD can evolve into "conduct disorder" (CD), which DSM defines as ‘wherein the rights of others or social norms are violated."

As Nestmann points out there is a long and sordid history of the state using psychiatry for political repression. First they tried to brand political activists as terrorists following 9/11. Now we are mentally unbalanced. What's next?

To my mind 'hostile disobedience' is virtually the definition of adolescence, but soon it might be considered a mental illness that can be used to justify imprisonment or enforced treatment - for youth or adults.

If this doesn't scare the crap out of you, you have ice-water flowing through your veins Batman.

UPDATE: Become a 'troublemaker' to the government and your private medical and psychiatric records will be circulated widely among bureaucrats and government officials dealing with you.


Kim said...

Wow! I just found you via Creekside. Great blog, I'll be back!

Cliff said...

Hi Kim, glad you like it and thanks for visiting.

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