Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not those of St. George News.
OPINION – Just a few generations ago, when a person needed a credible witness to establish their personal character in a court of law, they would bring in a member of the clergy. Today, when a credible character witness is needed, we call a psychiatrist.
Though portrayed as a harmless, natural consequence of the progression of science, medicine and law, there is substantial risk that accompanies this shift in thinking. When the pseudo-science of psychiatry becomes an arm of the state, it enables abusers of state power to stigmatize and control people.
To illustrate how psychiatry is closer to social science than medical science, journalist Charley Reese used to contrast it with the actual science of neurology that studies the physical structures of the brain. He would point out how psychiatry claims to study the intangible products of the physical brain such as thought, behavior and imagination. Of these three areas, only behavior can actually be observed.
According to Dr. Thomas S. Szasz, psychiatry has consistently served as an arm of the law since its development nearly 300 years ago. Dr. Szasz claims that psychiatry provides the state with a means of dealing with those deemed inconvenient when he writes, “If we recognize that ‘mental illness’ is a metaphor for disapproved thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we are compelled to recognize as well that the primary function of psychiatry is to control thought, mood, and behavior.”
But what the state considers a nuisance isn’t strictly limited to those with true mental defects. It also applies to individuals who, for a variety of reasons, refuse to submit unconditionally to the state’s authority or demands.
Free thinkers, constitutionalists, Oath Keepers, nonconformists, peaceful activists or resisters, and those who question authority, or practice any degree of civil disobedience, now have their very own disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV-TR Fourth Edition.
Modern psychiatry calls this illness Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Among the gems found within this 3-page excerpt from the DSM-IV-TR Fourth Edition describing ODD and its diagnostic features: “The essential feature of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least 6 months.”
Those who question the wisdom of being electronically strip-searched or physically groped in order to board a commercial airline flight may now be singled out for “special attention.” Those who refuse an order to confiscate lawfully owned firearms from private citizens who have committed no crime are prime candidates for deep scrutiny of their mental health. Engaging in any form of civil disobedience, freethinking or non-conformity is an invitation to be treated as a direct threat to the authority of those in power.
Whenever medicine and the state become bedfellows, there is a tendency for newly “discovered” diseases to have political implications.
Gun owners find themselves increasingly painted into a corner where the criteria by which the state dictates whether one may legally possess or purchase a firearm includes the question of whether the individual has ever been “adjudicated as mentally defective or committed to a mental institution.” How difficult would it be to expand the definitions of what makes one “mentally defective” to include ODD?
The concern here is that when government and psychiatry team up to establish exactly what constitutes “acceptable” or “anti-social” attitudes, the conclusions always seem to miraculously fall in favor of the desired government result.
Countless dictators have used psychiatry as a tool of oppression through experts who labeled dissidents as mentally ill in order to discourage those who might be tempted to challenge the regime’s authority. Involuntary commitment and coercing or drugging non-conformists to solve their mental problems are handy ways to keep those who would make trouble for the regime under the state’s control and effectively marginalized from society.
One solution that Dr. Szasz advocates is the separation of psychiatry & the state: “Hence, like Church and State, Psychiatry and the State ought to be separated by a ‘wall.’ The role of psychiatrists and mental health experts with regard to law, the school system, and other organizations ought to be similar to the role of clergymen in those situations.”
The battle for freedom of thought is being fought on many levels. It’s critically important to know your opponent and his methods, especially those tactics that have been artfully concealed in plain sight.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.