Examining “Untreated” Mental Illness
With the national gun debate in full force post Sandy Hook, countless critics of gun safety measures have erroneously pointed to what they believe is the real reason for gun violence in America: Untreated mental illness. Ironically, it might just be the treated mental illness that we should really be concerned about (“treated” meaning psychotropic drugs that people are commonly prescribed, not traditional individual therapy).
Just this week yet another law suit was filed against Pfizer for its alleged over-hyping of the efficacy of Zoloft. This is not the first lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company, as there have been thousands before this one – with most citing lacking empirical evidence for the drug’s efficacy and/or the terrible side effects that have, in many cases, left individuals even more troubled than before they went on the drug in question (these are commonly known as the “black box warnings”).
As the number of lawsuits increase against the purported benefits of various psychotropic medications (not to mention lawsuits against drug companies for the side effects of these medications), we really must ask ourselves are we concerned about untreated mental illness, or should we have far greater concerns for treated mental illness? I believe there are far greater concerns about individuals quickly “treated” by being prescribed multiple medications for their mental illness — in fact, I would argue these individuals are by and large more of a danger than individuals receiving no treatment at all.
It will be interesting in the months and years ahead to learn how many of these school shooters were on various psychotropic medications. While many people still point to “mental illness” as being the reason for these horrific shootings, we really must ask if these crimes were caused by how these individuals were being treated — and what/how many medications they were using. My hunch is a trend will quickly emerge that clearly shows a positive correlation between individuals on psychotropic medications and school shootings.