Mental health experts say a new tougher New York state gun control law might interfere with treatment of potentially dangerous people and even discourage them from seeking help.

The law would require therapists, doctors, nurses and social workers to tell government authorities if they believe a patient is likely to harm himself or others. That could lead to revoking the patient's gun permit and seizing any guns. (source)

New laws tend to have unintended consequences worse than the conditions or situations they are intended to remedy. The hysteria over the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has such strange bedfellows as the NRA and some of the most liberal Democrats calling for psychological or psychiatric evaluations of potential gun owners. 

Question: Does the state have enough of an interest to require a breach of the privacy normally holding between a patient and his clinician making the state an invisible presence in the conference room?

Question: Might more mayhem be prevented by letting clinicians do their job rather than imposing requirements on them.?

Question: Might imposing a reporting requirement on clinicians expose them to homicidal danger once the client realizes that his counselor has breached the shell of confidentiality holding between them?

Question: Given the ambiguities holding between what clients talk about and what they might actually do might a reporting requirement expose clinicians to needless criminal and civil sanctions if their best guess turns out to be wrong and a client they thought safe did something horrendous? The point is, it's a lot easier to judge how dangerous a patient was in retrospect and hold a clinician responsible.

Tags: control, gun, psychiatry, psycology

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Hi Karl,

Alcohol here in the US is seen like pot might be seen in the UK.  Some people do it, but it's not considered to be a very adult thing to do.  I found the difference in alcohol perception here quite startling at first. (Beer is slightly more acceptable, but it is so watered down to what we are used to, it's practically Shandy without the lemonade flavour)

But when you come to realise that the USA is a heavily car-dependent country, because of distances, subsidised fuel prices and a lack of public transport, you can see that drunk driving (DUI=Driving Under the Influence) is considered an abomination.  Without drastic repercussions in the penal code as well as peer pressure, and with such a total dependency on cars, disaster is almost inevitable.  You can drive a car at sixteen in some states, whereas you must be 21 years old in any state, to drink alcohol - this includes a glass of wine with dinner at home.

Interestingly, you can see from Unseen's comment that alcohol=traffic deaths, although earlier he was comparing alcoholics to pedophiles.  It is very much a mindset in the US that if you drink regularly, you are an alcoholic. 

In the UK and the rest of Europe, the two are very separate.  Most people drink alcohol regularly, and most people are not alcoholics.  Here in the US, they are practically synonymous.

Strega, I think most of us Americans are wondering if you've ever really spent much time in the U.S. as you claim.

Alcohol here in the US is seen like pot might be seen in the UK.  Some people do it, but it's not considered to be a very adult thing to do. 

Not an adult thing to do? What? We leave it to the kids? Personally, I don't know many teatotalers. 

"alcohol=traffic deaths" was not meant as an actual equation. Just that a lot of traffic deaths are alcohol-related.

Americans, as a rule DO NOT equate any alcohol drinking with alcoholism. That is just absurd.

I just deleted a long response because I have just absorbed the fact that you think you speak for most Americans.  That's just too ridiculous for words. 

I don't speak for ALL AMERICANS but you painted a picture of a fairly small minority of Americans as though they were the majority.

The real reason you deleted it was in anticipation of all guffaws your post would have gotten. Don't believe me? Post it again!

Psychic, too?  My goodness.

Here you go, simply because I'm happy to cheer up those people who might like a chuckle.  I laugh at myself quite comfortably, and it really isn't a problem for me.

Is boiling water hot?  Yes.  Is boiling water hot compared to molten lava?  No.  You have to be aware of both items being compared before the comparison has significance.

In the UK, pot smoking is reasonably widespread.  Adults do it.  However, it isn't something you'd do with your boss, for example.

In the UK, terming something as "not very adult" does not mean that it is not done by adults.  It merely means that it does not garnish respect in adult circles.  It means that people under the age of say 25, are more likely to indulge.

In the UK, and even more so in Europe, you can drink alcohol at pretty much any age in your home - we have very fuzzy rules on that.  Once you are 16, you can drink in public. In parks, in public restaurants.  Once you are 18, you can buy a bottle of vodka and swig it neat, outside the shop in the main street, if you feel so inclined.

We (in the UK) have a big drinking culture.  Before young people become responsible through parenthood, lets say, it is totally expected that they will go out and get drunk a lot.  I can remember, in my twenties, drinking in the City at lunchtime every day with friends, maybe a bottle of red wine apiece.  In the evenings, more alcohol - you 'get a taste for it'.

In the UK we have extremely effective public transport.  We have special Night buses, mostly to cart the drunks home.  The tube (subway) in London will practically take you to your door.  Petrol (gas) is much more expensive.  At least double the price it is here.  I'm not going to make a direct estimate because a friend here at TA explained to me that a gallon in the UK is about 10% more in volume than a gallon in the US.  I'm sure Google can explain.

We do not have the same reliance on cars in the UK.  It is the prioritisation of car-based transport in the USA that, in my opinion (and I do believe these forums are where we voice opinions) leads to the antipathy towards drinking.  Let me be clear - when I say drinking, I mean at least three or four drinks daily, and a fair amount more when you go out to the pub with mates.

Unseen, I appreciate you may have felt that America was under attack in my post.  Not so. I think the American approach to alcohol may well be better than the European approach.  But it is certainly different.  Many things are different, and I spend time thinking about why they are so.  Some things are improvements, some are not.

In the UK, we are generally aghast at the thought of guns in peoples hands.  Here in Vermont, it astounds me that I can walk into a gun shop and buy one, with no background check, no police record check, nothing.  But I am not saying it is wrong, merely different.  I am exploring many differences.

The amount of medication, for example that is prescribed in the USA.  There seems to be a pill for everything.  It is very common to see a psychiatrist here.  You even have a nickname for them, you call them "shrinks".  In the UK, seeing a psychiatrist is not the norm for us.  We are slightly uncomfortable about the whole idea of psychiatry. Do I think this is as it should be?  I'm not sure - I'm still evaluating.

In order to contrast and compare, you have to have had substantial experience of both arenas.  I have been domiciled in the USA since obtaining my work visa in July 2011.  However, I had spent 129 days here the previous year (counted for visa requirements) and quite a lot of other weeks in previous years.

Before settling down with my (American) wife in Vermont, I had spent many years traveling around the world.  That kind of travel can be very educational, in ways that watching CNN on television or reading information on the internet can never match.  I learned that there are many ways to do things, and that the building blocks of individual societies may be very different.  Fascinating.

I like to think when I post.  I do appreciate the way you post and create debates where people have strong opinions.  Very often my opinions do not mirror yours, and I find that to be a good thing; nobody would post in an environment where we all agree.  It takes many kinds of posters to make a successful forum.  I believe your contribution plays a vital role in the success of the TA forums, because you incense people to argue and debate.  For that, I thank you, and I think you do a great job.

But when you post comments like:-

Strega, I think most of us Americans are wondering if you've ever really spent much time in the U.S. as you claim.

then I feel you are not doing yourself justice.  You sound, in that remark, very much like Donald Trump on the subject of Obama's birth certificate.

It is unnecessarily offensive, overly personal, and certainly unrepresentative of your hitherto evidenced abilities to post logical and considered opinions.

I think you protest overmuch.

My main point was that the things you were saying about the United States would not be observations we could relate to.

As for "Strega, I think most of us Americans are wondering if you've ever really spent much time in the U.S. as you claim," I was not calling you a liar, I was questioning (in what seemed a humorous way) the accuracy of your perceptions. 

But comparing me to Donald Trump on birtherism. That is unforgivable. ;~)

Anyway, anytime I can get anyone to write a bedsheet reply to a relatively small post, I feel my work for the day is done.

Grins, Peace, Unseen.

I'm still chuckling at the thought that I trumped you on the personal front ;)

I wish the U.S. would legalize marijuana. An unbelievable number of people, mostly racial/ethnic minorities are in prison for possession and/or sale, and it makes it difficult for them to find gainful employment when they get out, further impoverishing their communities and contributing to the crime rate because, often, reverting to crime is about the only available way to make a go of it. Often they graduate from selling this relatively harmless drug to more serious and dangerous crimes.

The Huffington Post ran an article 5 days ago claiming that Marijuana possession arrests exceed violent crime arrests. It's an interesting article.  Here is the link

(Karl, in my youth of course, many years ago, I won every spliff-rolling contest around - some of them were so perfect they should have been exhibits in the Modern Tate.  But they went up in a puff of smoke... ahhh.)

I understand there will be many ramifications of this law and others like it, but I am glad New York did SOMETHING.  Having worked in the New Hampshire state psychiatric hospital for 8 years, I have first-hand knowledge of people who absolutely should not have access to guns, period.  In practical terms, I don't know how effective this law will be, but if somebody is hinting to his or her care provider that people's lives are in danger, I think patient-care provider privacy should be considered but not so much that something isn't done.  If some disturbed individual, who was showing signs of having some kind of violent break, was ignored aqnd subsequently killed my child (or anybody), I would want to know, "Did anybody know this person was likely to do this?  If so, why didn't he or she do anything to stop it?"

I know it's a complicated topic and there's no easy solution.  However, I know and have worked with people with psychiatric issues who have shot others.  I know American have the right to bear arms, but I'm afraid if a person's judgment is so poor he thinks it is ok to shoot a neighbor because his stereo is too loud, he should not have been allowed access to guns.  Of course I don't know who knew what before he shot his neighbor, but that is the point.  

This is slightly different, but not so different...  I had the occasion to work with a serial rapist who had been in the secure psychiatric unit of the state prison for 10 years.  He came to my unit when he got out, on his way back into society.  Before he even got there I asked the team, "What happens when he ends up in the gym alone with one of the female workers?"  I was told I was being prejudicial and not thinking of his rights!  Bullshit! Mind you, I was pregnant at the time.   The guy, who was a decent enough guy on the surface, was sweet as pie for several months but eventually went after somebody.

Whatever happened to the guy to make him into a serial rapist is awful, I'm sure, but my sympathy stops at the point when society, knowing he is highly statistically likely to re-offend, lets him because of HIS rights.  Bullshit.  He should never have seen the light of day, if you want my opinion.

If someone has been incarcerated in a mental institution, perhaps they should never have legal access to guns, bearing in mind that so much gun harm is done with illegally acquired guns. However, if I'm so upset with my boss that I obsess about killing him, should I be able to discuss this in private with my therapist without the state being a fly on the wall?

Rights are not absolute, and rights can be overridden.  For example, certain rights are overridden when a person is arrested.  If someone has been proven to have a mental illness, then their "rights" to guns can be overridden. 

So, in the case if guns, we would not say that the mentally ill have "lost" the right to ber arms, we would say that their right is overridden by other rights, such as life rights.  An example of this would be when a prisoner is put in jail, his right to freedom is overridden by our right to be protected.  A gun wielding person who threatens the rights of others has his life right overridden by the police officers who defends the life rights of others. 

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