Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, October 23, 2016

I cannot write this the way I want. Doing so would invade the privacy of too many people. But I can’t be silent, either.

Last week, you see, President Obama spoke before a conference of mental-health advocates at the White House. It is necessary, he said, to remove the stigma of mental illness and make sure “people aren’t suffering in silence,” that they know they are not alone, but are supported by the rest of us as they face this challenge.

It would seem a plain vanilla thing to say. But in this endless era of smash-mouth politics, nothing is plain vanilla anymore.

So one Neil Munro, a “reporter” for the right-wing Daily Caller website, duly took exception. Under the headline, “Obama urges public to use government mental-health programs,” Munro in essence accused mental health professionals of making up illnesses. “In recent decades,” he wrote, “the professionals have broadened the definition from severe, distinct and rare ailments, such as schizophrenia and compulsive behavior, to include a much wider set of personal troubles. Those broader problems include stress and sadness, which are medically dubbed ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ by professionals.”

Munro was having none of that. “Americans,” he wrote, “have typically responded to stress and sadness by urging stoicism, hard work, marriage, prayer and personal initiative. …”

In other words, we were self-reliant. We toughed it out. And if I could write this the way I want, I would tell you in detail about a friend who was self-reliant. She toughed it out. Right up until she shot herself.

If I could write this the way I want, I would gather people I know who suffer from the types of diseases Munro finds “real” — dissociative identity disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia — and I’d let them describe for you the stigma that attaches even to those sicknesses. The notion that mental illness — any mental illness — should be toughed out is asinine. Would you tough out diabetes? Would you tough out cancer?

  • gmccpa

    Dear Mr. Pitts.

    Where have you been? If Pres Obama announced that water is wet…the wingnuts will quickly and viciously denounce him…and his Kenyan, Marxist, communistic water is wet agenda.

    This is the world we live in. Please do not take it too personally, as they themselves are afflicted with Obama Derangement Syndrome.

    • idamag

      Maybe Munroe is like the latent gay person who attacks gays to make his own orientation go away.

      • RobertCHastings

        Ouch! By that thinking he must be OCD, paranoid, anxious, depressed – a pharmacologists nightmare. What would happen if he took pills for all of that at once. Maybe diarrhea would actually come out of his a–hole instead of his mouth.

  • stcroixcarp

    So according to the right wing, people who suffer from mental illness should just tough it out. We all know that tough guys who have guns and can tough it out on family members, school children, at a shopping center, anywhere, and then tough it out on themselves or have the police end their misery. I would welcome one word of peace, comfort or hope.

    • Canistercook

      In California many workers pay a 1% ‘mental health tax’ on their income and none of them know who gets that money so may be it is the government not the right wingers that should help them direct that money to really helping solve mental health problem and not paying for union formed bureaucracies! It’s easy to blame ‘the other side’ and not look within!

      • Predictable and off-topic reply. Normal for such an abnormal person.

      • RobertCHastings

        And just what is the point you are making, and do you think it is appropriate to this current topic?

  • Jim Myers

    President Obama appears to be quite intelligent. So, I do not understand why he doesn’t propose that ALL Tea party agendas be enacted into legislation immediately.

    The GOP in the House of Representatives would largely go into shock. Can you imagine trying to obstruct the President on every issue, while at the same time actually enacting those legislative measures?

    The paradox would be extremely entertaining to watch. Much better than anything Fox News could ever dream up.

    Heck, Murdock might even stroke out.

  • Allan Richardson

    The Tea Party and the “we hate the 47 percent” group, along with the Christian Taliban and their billionaire TV preachers, do not WANT more Americans to get legitimate help for legitimate mental illnesses, and do not WANT public schools to teach the art of critical thinking (much better to teach just what is needed to pass standardized tests), for a very simple reason. That would ERODE THEIR VOTER BASE!

  • Robert P. Robertson

    Mental illness always hurt the ones closest to it. It wrecks lives and families. The true victims are its loved ones. Republicunt/neo-Confederate Tea Bags would choose to minimize, marginalize, and criminalize it by closing down clinics and facilities that are experts that care for the mentally ill. They call giving the mentally ill a monthly payment, SSI, and closing down facilities and clinics would allow the mentally ill to self medicate, thereby saving the states tons of money to squander to the rich, industries, and corporations. Yet, their insane politics is causing what we are seeing in the string of mass shootings and murders across America. And who is the first victims of it: parents and siblings who, because of the love and bonds they feel, refuse to throw away in Ayn Rand fashion their loved ones. President Obama is only trying to bring into focus this social stigma that has been around every since Saint Reagan closed the mental health clinics and facilities across America and created the situation continued under Bush/Cheney.

    • RobertCHastings

      As usual, excellent commentary.

  • Lovefacts

    This extremism in anything that would help people is an example of our direction. Where once we were a first world country, we are rapidly sliding toward third world status. Why? Because only military expenditures are okay with these people–just as in third world countries.

    Whereas, in first world countries money is spent primarily on education, health, scientific research, infrastructure, and, shock, of shock, high speed rail.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      IF you notice, most of these western countries that have low military budgets also are peace loving people, have a happy opinion of their lifestyles and know how to get along with their neighbors.

      The United States IS NOT a peace-loving country. We love war, we love death. This all is reflected in our Gun Crazed Society.

  • jointerjohn

    The right wing is scared to death that science might come up with a genuine cure for paranoia. That would slice their voter base in half in just one election cycle.

  • howa4x

    This is the tough guy thing that republicans have. They always talk about kicking the teeth in of the environmentalists. Or have Dirty Harry syndrome of Make my day. Anyone else is a wimp

  • july860

    Apparently this man has never seen the results of the stigma of the mentally ill first hand, or has never had a family member affected by it. I have worked in the mental health field for thirty years now, and unfortunately I have seen it all. It’s very sad to see all the people who self-medicate, rather than be put through the “system”, with the chance of this coming to light. My son has also been diagnosed as Bipolar; I have been working with him to not be ashamed of this, as it was not his fault, and he is a “person with Bipolar D/O, not a Bipolar person”. If the repubs had their way, I’m sure all the mentally ill would be rounded up and shoved into some sort of locked ward somewhere (or worse). Out of sight, out of mind, right? I will continued to help those who are afflicted with these unfortuante illnesses to find recovery, and to hope this diatribe from the right-wing idiots only strengthens their resolve, not deter it.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      Since you have experience first hand with the mentally ill, I want to ask you a question, perhaps several.

      Do you think the pressures and stress we experience in “our” society creates many of these illnesses? I believe our brains have not evolved enough yet to tolerate our “modern” society.

      I’ve also noticed over time, there seems to be more males than females in our school systems from grade school up to around just before high school years being put on psychotropic medications.

      Could this be caused by a “hidden” womens liberation agenda, to feminize boys and masculinize females? I believe this is true.

      Also, I would like to know if you are a man or a woman?

      • RobertCHastings

        Michael, have you gotten off your meds? Why are you bringing in these totally irrelevant topics? You are usually a person to be trusted to come up with reasoned arguments, and pose legitimate questions.

        • Michael Kollmorgen

          Actually, my questions are totally relevant to the issue of mental health and how and what is being done or NOT being done.

          I’ve had a theory for a long time, that our “modern” society is the root cause of much of our mental health problems.

          As far as the “agendas” go, it wouldn’t surprise me at all that some in key positions in our school systems do have their own self-serving agendas. So far, from what I have seen and heard, the evidence clearly points to people with agendas such as medicating male children and not female children.

          No one is going to tell me this isn’t happening. And, this is not only in our school systems either.

          And, don’t say it isn’t possible.

          • RobertCHastings

            I would never deign to say it is not possible, however unlikely it may appear. Most schools that I know of, in today’s current economic situation, have no facilities for the dispensing of medications, as very few have retained full time nurses. States generally do not permit teachers or assistants to dispense medications either, for fear of litigation should something bad happen.
            Some mental health issues have been tied to environmental issues, especially pollution and mercury poisoning. Stress seems to be a likely culprit in others. However, genetics is showing that many mental conditions, while not necessarily inherited, do have a genetic component. Schizophrenia and such disorders are linked to previous generations through genetics, and certain gene configurations predispose individuals to some mental illnesses. It is interesting that so many men exposed to terrible experiences in battle suffer from PTSD, while others exposed to the same experiences are apparently unscathed.

          • Michael Kollmorgen

            The situation doesn’t necessarily need a dispensing service in the school itself. All it takes is a court order to have the child show up at the local clinic and get their meds and take them when it is prescribed.

            What goes along with this is the counselling services that are prescribed and mandated.

            All this really takes is a school counselor or teacher with an agenda, reporting some activity they don’t like to the authorities which are mandated by law in investigate. Then, it goes down hill from that point on for the student.

            Yes, I would imagine a certain percentage is real. But, I believe most of this stuff is nothing more than someone with an agenda who’s authority isn’t questioned. Try questioning anyone in the teaching/counselling profession someday. Their Union will be on you faster than greased lightening.

            And, once a kid is diagnosed with a so-called mental disorder, everyone stands to make big bucks off it, in prescribed meds, counselling services, you name it – for the rest of its life. IF the parent can’t foot the bill, Medicare/Medicaid will instead. So, it’s really a win/win situation for everyone concerned, except of course for the kid and their parents. If it’s mandated by law, you know someone is going to stand to make major money off it.

            Your mental health field(s) have become an Industry, very similar to our “Industrial” Justice and Prison System.

            Heck, I know of one family, not far from my home. The entire family is on meds, parents and their kids alike. Maybe even the dog is on meds for all I know.

          • RobertCHastings

            I live in a state with no strong teachers’ union, for which I am thankful. Tenure is under fire here as in many other jurisdictions around the country. While I have supported the Union movement for a long time, teachers, like everyone else, should NOT be assured of a job merely because they have fifteen years under their belts. It is entirely too difficult to KEEP the good ones, as well as being too difficult to GET RID OF the bad ones. While there are many excellent, dedicated teachers, we must do everything possible to make them want to remain until their retirement. That being said, there are teachers who, as you say, have their own agendas which do not include the betterment of all the students in their care.

          • Michael Kollmorgen

            I also normally support teachers and their unions.

            But, I won’t support a bad teacher (I had a few of them bastards when I was in school 50 years ago), counselor or anyone else who flaunts and abuses their authority.

            Have a nice evening:)…………..

          • RobertCHastings

            Perhaps the weakest point of the union movement is tenure/seniority which effectively gives you the right to be a low performer as long as you have been in your job for more than a certain number of years. I recall years ago hearing from my father (who was the liaison between management and union in a large factory in Milwaukee) about how the railroad unions required the retaining of coal tenders, an obsolete job when diesels came along. I fully agree with you about not supporting bad teachers, or any other under-performing personnel in schools. Unfortunately, all to frequently, instead of being terminated, they are bumped into administration, taking their incompetence with them.

          • Michael Kollmorgen

            Hah, there is an old saying, goes like this:

            Everyone reaches their level of incompetence and stays there.

            I feel that unions perform a valuable service. However, there are certain instances when they can become over-burdensome, overbearing, dogmatic and over-protective.

            The Teachers Union, Police Unions, some city service unions are like this. In many of these places, you dam near have to commit premeditated murder to get fired.

            I know one company locally, Timken Bearing where it’s nearly impossible to get fired. Guys I know brag about being lazy, the boss can’t do anything about it. Yet they’re pulling $30+ an hour just sitting for 6 hours a day. Drug use is horrible in there, yet nothing can be done because of the Union.

            If the same thing would have happen to me today, as a kid in school by teachers 50 years ago, they would have been canned.

            Then, maybe not. I blame a lot of these school shooting on the teachers themselves not controlling bullying when they see it happen. Teachers Pets or the gym class jock gets away with a lot.

            Then we have the issue of what PARENTS do to the kid before they go to school, which is another ball of wax.

          • RobertCHastings

            What you speak of occurs in non-union shops, as well, except the malingerers don’t get paid as well as the unionized guys.

  • RobertCHastings

    Hey, all you sissies out there who think you need someone else to get your aspirin out of the cabinet for you, quit thinking you are anything special. If you know something is wrong with you, suck it up and get over it. Be a man, stop your whining. There is nothing a few days of rest and aspirin can’t cure. You need to be out there earning a living instead of sucking up all those taxpayer dollars on unneeded medical care. Everybody knows most doctors are in the business just to get rich off making people think they are sick.
    Does that sound like an A+ #1 asshole, or what? I hope I have effectively imitated Mr. Munro. It’s not that I am a misanthrope,, but if these people could see themselves in the mirror and see what others see, maybe they would just shut the f— up.