Diagnosed With … Gun Incompatibility Disorder

GUNS,Individual Rights,Pseudoscience,Psychiatry,Regulation

Scarcely had the cowardly attack on kids in Newtown, Con., transpired than forces on the left and right began clamoring to restrain “predisposed” individuals before they transgressed.

Any sweeping prior-restraint legal efforts will have “unintended” consequences. Since undesirable outcomes will follow such laws as night follows day—one wonders why they’re considered “unintended” or unforeseeable.

Expect a reduction in the use of counseling services among gun owners. If he thinks that his doctor is likely to pass on information about his mental state to federal or state authorities, how likely is a gun owner to seek help for psychological/marital/familial problems?

Not very likely.

The Psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), the Rosetta Stone of the profession, has grown since its inception in the 1950s from 60 categories of abnormal behavior to over 410 diagnostic labels and counting. Many of the disorders described in it are more about trend and niche than science.

In the late 1990s, I told readers of my Calgary Herald column about one Dr. John Ratey, a Harvard associate professor and a well-respected, prominent psychiatrist, who claimed, in his 1997 book Shadow Syndromes, that quirky behaviors were actually mild mental illnesses resulting from brain dysfunction.

The lout who is appropriately obsequious with the boss because he knows where his bread is buttered, but who is less dainty with the wife, even thumping her occasionally, would be a candidate for compassion. He is after all doing battle with what Dr. Ratey terms “Intermittent Rage Disorder”. And the dad who dotes on his children while they are with him, but fails to mail them child support money as soon as they are out of sight, is simply afflicted with “Environmental Dependency Disorder”: He remembers his kids only when they are around. Is there proof for these sub-rosa disease categories? None whatsoever, although this has not prevented Ratey and many like him from coating their pronouncements with a patina of scientific respectability—and then cashing in.

Given the tenuous ties between psychiatry and science, how likely is it that “evidence” for new diagnoses will be marshaled in order to keep more people from being able to defend their lives and loved ones with guns?

Very likely.


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