Who’s to Blame for Iran’s Earthquake? Women

Who knew Pat Robertson had an Iranian clone?

Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, Tehran’s “acting Friday prayer leader,” is giving Robertson a run for his money.

After hearing predictions that an earthquake could hit Iran soon, Sedighi explained why that would be happening:

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes.”

That’s *totally* what my science textbooks all tell me…

Sedighi is full of shit, obviously.

But I’m fine with him saying it.

Religious zealots making irresponsible, irrational, inane statements that just make them look ridiculous and the rest of us automatically better by comparison.

(Thanks to Adam for the link!)

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    I looked but I couldn’t find the mechanism whereby Iranian women were causing earthquakes. Is it perhaps that the ground in Iran is made of women or something?

  • http://twitter.com/lauruhhpalooza Lauruhhpalooza

    I’ve been doing my part to cause earthquakes and lead men astray for a very, very long time. And based on the number of quakes we’ve had recently, I think I’m doing my job.

  • http://www.bornagainyesterday.com Justin

    I felt the Earth move several times.

  • gski

    They always blame the strong women of their society, for the faults of their weak men.

  • JT

    @gski:

    I wouldn’t say this is anything that is the fault of weak men. Just the fault of the Earth.

  • David D.G.

    I honestly don’t see how, in the 21st century, people like this get respectfully quoted in the mainstream media, when they should be getting carted off to the nearest mental health facility. It’s not even a matter of religious belief; it’s a matter of obviously delusional belief, on the same order as someone believing that he is Superman, or that he is a helium-filled balloon.

    When one’s beliefs are this badly oriented against reality, we usually call them “schizophrenic” (or some similar label) and lock them up or medicate them for their own good — unless the delusion is somehow cloaked in religious expression, especially by a high-ranking clergyman. Then it somehow becomes “an alternative opinion” to scientifically verified reality — as if reality cares what fanciful, magical tales people make up about it.

    Sorry, but earthquakes are caused by neither Poseidon nor by sex (other than metaphorically, of course). To claim causal connections such as this, especially in the modern world, is sheerest lunacy. Yet these people (Sedighi, Robertson, and others) not only roam around free, but they are given media attention rather than medical attention — and the craziest part of all is that millions of other people believe them.

    ~David D.G.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Excellent! I’ve been looking for something horrendous to blame on my ex.

  • SoonerHumanist

    Yeah, this guy is definitely full of it. The saddest part of this whole thing is not so much that people actually believe this nonsense, but that I can almost guarantee you that at least one or two women in Iran not wearing headscarves will be beaten, raped or murdered based on the religious justification from this man.

    There is absolutely no difference, other than theological, between radical Iranian clerics, people like Zawahiri, and Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell/Ted Haggard. They persist in willful ignorance and lead others into ignorance, and through that ignorance compound human misery upon human misery. Luckily, in America, most of us can just laugh the nutjobs out of the room. They sadly do not have that option in Iran (or any Islamic country, for that matter)

  • cathy

    @David, this “When one’s beliefs are this badly oriented against reality, we usually call them “schizophrenic” (or some similar label) and lock them up or medicate them for their own good” is an absolutely repulsive statement. Coercively medicating and imprisoning other people for ‘their own good’ is a human rights violation. People with mental illness are human beings who deserve to be treated with respect for their own bodily autonomy as much as anyone else. Blaming all of the world’s problems on us ‘crazy people’ is no better than blaming earthquakes on women’s clothing choices.

  • Headbhang

    It must have been quite a rack what shook those Tibetans recently…

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    From a religious perspective, this actually makes perfect sense.

    From a rational one, it’s batshit crazy.

    [Same with Robertson's comments on Haiti, a sentiment shared by Dawkins.]

  • gski

    @JT
    I was referring to the quote “Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society …”

  • nankay

    Well he’s just wrong. Everybody knows it’s teh Gays that cause the earthquakes.

  • mikespeir

    I thought so.

  • anomalie

    This makes perfect sense. Those un-modestly dressed women are rocking their world!
    /rim-shot

  • Richard Wade

    Apparently, Iranian seismologists aren’t using seismographs, gravitometers, rock gas analysis, and crustal distortions to make their predictions, they’re surveying the state of dress of Iranian women. Well, Iranian seismologists are probably all men, so it’s understandable that they’d rather do that than look at boring old graphs and computer readouts.

    This insight could explain why there are so many earthquakes here in California. All the women here look and dress like those on Baywatch. Honest.

    Yes, it’s dangerous to live here, but somebody has to do the surveying.

  • muggle

    Somewhere some woman bared a chin and the men of the land were so excited by the square inch of skin exposed that the stampede caused an earthquake.

    I can’t believe I got that out with a straight face.

    Cathy, you’re over-reacting, hon. There’s a difference between mental illness and batshit crazy and the fact of the matter, much as it’s not PC to admit this, is sometimes you do have to forcibly medicate people and sometimes even lock them up for their own good. Make a suicide attempt and watch how fast it happens. I have a daughter with depression and, trust me, she knows just how fast.

    Here in NY we have something called Kendra’s law (that I will invoke super-freaking fast should she ever refuse to take her medication) that even a roommate can use to have a judge order someone mentally ill to take their medications and they do enforce it. They will send someone to the house to watch them take it and if they don’t, they will arrest said mentally ill person.

    There is a reason for this. Google it. It’s named after a woman who was killed because a mentally ill person was off his meds. She was an innocent bystander. It may not have been his fault but, frankly, her rights trumped his.

  • ckitching

    Where is the obligatory, “you’d never say something like that about Muslims”?

  • jamssx

    Think he misunderstood when he overheard the phrase “did the earth move for you?”

  • Angie

    Nankay — Funny you should say that! An orthodox Israeli MP did blame gays for earthquakes back in 2008.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1579424/Israeli-earthquakes-are-gays-fault-says-MP.html

    Personally, I think bigoted fundamentalists are to blame for earthquakes. :D

  • Hazor

    @David/Cathy/Muggle:

    Yes, the mentally ill are people too – but the fact is that some are very dangerous because of a severely distorted sense of reality. They’re not medicated only for their own good, but also for the good of everyone who might be hurt, even killed, by them.

    Also, and I don’t mean to speak for him, I doubt David was intending to say that all of the worlds problems are caused by the mentally ill, only that what people like Sedighi and Pat Robertson say is blatantly delusional, and that the whole world would be better off if it were not for their ravings.

    Also, I might point out that it’s people like the aforementioned who said mental illness was things like demonic possession, and used burning at the stake or a drill to the forehead as a means to treat it instead of means empirically validated as effective, like medication and counseling.

    All of that said, I got a good laugh out of the plethora of jokes.. it replaced that bit of my mind which was damaged by Sedighi.

    Also, Rush Limbaugh blamed the recent volcano in Iceland on God, saying it was to punish America for the recently passed healthcare bill: http://thinkprogress.org/2010/04/17/limbaugh-volcano/
    Yes. Americans do evil, unchristiany things, like trying to take care of peoples’ health, and God punishes us by making a volcano erupt in Iceland. Brilliant.

  • Gibbon

    I think most people are reading too much into Sedighi’s remarks. I don’t think they should be read as an explanation for why earthquakes occur, if that were the case why the statement about adultery and the corruption of men. Rather what he is essentially saying is that the “immodesty” of women is disruptive to society. The bit about the earthquake is simply an example of the worst that could possibly occur in the world, regardless of the lack of any link between it and human behaviour. The basic message in Sedighi’s comment is that immoral or disruptive behaviour causes problems for society.

    The only debate regarding these remarks that is necessary, is what should be considered as modest and immodest, or moral and immoral.

  • medussa

    @Gibbon: what are you basing your statement on? I followed the link, and to me it seems plain Sedighi’s comment makes a direct causal connection between women’s dress habits and earthquakes.
    Granted, I can’t say how reliable the translation is, and maybe you have more insight there. Or some other information that leads you to mitigate the apparent connection.
    Please share.

  • medussa

    @Cathy: I believe that you may be reading the worst possible interpretation into this. I agree with you that mentally ill people have rights, including the right to dignity and self determination. But I work in emergency services, and I frequently deal with patients who are off their meds and are in distress, either because they didn’t like the side effects, or because they ran out, or couldn’t afford them, or simply didn’t manage them well.
    And the fact is, they are often a danger to themselves, and to others. I won’t describe details in this forum, but I have seen some horrific self injury before we could subdue some of the patients. No one, and I mean NO ONE, can tell me I wasn’t acting in the patient’s best interest when I forcibly restrained them and brought them to the ER.
    The key is obviously to recognize the difference between a patient who has lost all touch with reality and one who has simply decided to live with their condition and not medicate it.
    I understood David to mean that the standard is adjusted when someones delusion is religiously motivated, and I agree with that. Just as the Pope right now is simply arguing about his complicity in covering up the crime of pedophilia, instead of being under arrest for aiding and abetting, religiously motivated insanity is excused, overlooked and apologized for, instead of being treated like any other mental illness.

  • http://www.givesgoodemail.com Givesgoodemail
  • Justin

    Problem is that there are probably people, and not necessarily a monitory, which believe this lunacy and then turn around and beef up oppressive attitudes towards society because they firmly believe this will suppress earthquakes.

  • cathy

    @medussa, if you believe that you can lock some one up and forcibly medicate them based on what you think is best for them, you do not think they have the right to self determination and bodily autonomy. People who commit voilent crimes against OTHERS may be locked up, but they may not be coerced to take personality altering medication in jail or as a condition of parole. It is considered cruel and unusual punishment when done to ‘sane’ people, but you’re okay with it being done to us crazies, because you don’t think we deserve full human rights.

    @muggle, I am aware of where the law stands, I just think it is a dehumanizing law which denies essential liberties to people with mental illness. People with mental illness DO NOT commit violent crimes at higher rates than people without mental illness and you willingness to force medical alteration of another human being based on your prejudice is repulsive. This is exactly why my response was not an overreaction, because shit like this, people being locked up against their will and forcibly medicated happens every fucking day and advocating for it means advocating against the rights of a group of people. I fucking hope your daughter moves far away from your abusive ass. Yes, it is abuse to deny threaten your children with imprisionment if they refuse the medical care you want them to have.

  • fiddler

    …aaaaannndddd cathy seems to have stopped taking her meds…
    A person that is a threat to others is jailed. A person that wants to harm others is jailed. A person that will continue to do both should be jailed.
    A person that does these things for a reason of mental illness is no different, except that they can have better facilities and hopefully learn that they need to remain medicated. The goal in these circumstances is to educate the person about themselves and their individual challenges and needs while also protecting society.
    Give over cathy, you need meds and so do others. It is for their own betterment and societies safety. Whether or not it offends you is beside the point. A man near here killed numerous people because he refused to take his meds and people like you defended him right up until the killing spree. His family was blocked from committing him by you well wishers. So I’ll accept that you feel those 7 people dying violently is better than poor little him taking medication…

  • fritzy

    Hmmm…Imagine that; a religiously delusional fuck-wit that’s scared shitless of female sexuality and doubly scared of his own. How original.

    It seems in cases such as this, the less actual evidence you have for such a bizarre and extravagent claim, the quicker the masses are to accept it unquestionably. Even more so when it concerns female skin.

    @Gibbon–it would appear you have read a different quote than the rest of us–it seems pretty clear from reading this that he is making a causal link between female flesh and seismic activity. Even if all he is saying, as you assert, is that “the “immodesty” of women is disruptive to society,” his claims are made with little basis in reality and a heavy dose of misogyny.

  • Hazor

    @cathy: “People with mental illness DO NOT commit violent crimes at higher rates than people without mental illness …”

    This only holds true if the entirety of the mentally ill population is counted – most of whom are indeed not violent by any means. But to count all illnesses here is misleading, because most disorders which do not lead the person to pose a threat to themselves or others are not forcibly medicated. Laws here vary by state, but as I understand it they usually must show a propensity or intent to cause harm before they can be forced. If you count only those disorders which are often forcibly medicated, paranoid schizophrenia as an example, the disparity in violent behavior is considerably large.

  • Gibbon

    medussa

    @Gibbon: what are you basing your statement on? I followed the link, and to me it seems plain Sedighi’s comment makes a direct causal connection between women’s dress habits and earthquakes.

    As both of us are aware, even if the women covered up the earthquake would not be less likely to occur. If the modesty of women was covered, then when the earthquake struck the cleric would “shift the blame” to another issue of moral concern. The man is not trying to intrude on or replace science; instead he is anthropomorphising a natural phenomenon to shock people into accepting his moral edicts.

    What one needs to understand is that naturally religion is not a scientific endeavour; it is not intended to explain the natural world. Religious scripture and statements from religious authorities are primarily social commentary or moral prescriptions; there is no intent for empirical explanations.

    And if you want to know what I’m basing my claims on, how about the fact that in any given religious text only a tiny fraction is devoted to providing what may be regarded as a scientific explanation for natural phenomena. If the Bible is intended as a scientific treatise then why is only a couple of pages worth of passages, out of hundreds of pages, making any such claims while the vast majority of it is commenting on social events and making statements on morality?

  • Frank Moorman

    I think the women have been so repressed for so long that some may be having such strong orgasms that it is causing the earth to move. Sex is obviously at the root of all evil.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Expect an earthquake on April 26, 2010.
    Jen of Blag Hag organizes Boobquake

  • cathy

    @ fiddler. “A person that is a threat to others is jailed. A person that wants to harm others is jailed” this is patently false for non-mentally ill people. In order to be jailed, a person must make a serious attempt at or actually commit an act of violence against others. We don’t jail people who wish others dead, we only jail people who actually commit acts of violence against others and even then only after they have been provided due process and have been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Unless they are mentally ill of course, then people like you presuppose their guilt and their innocence cannot be proved, because you see our very existence as criminal. No, beyond criminal, because sane criminals are protected by law from being drugged or medicated without their consent and sane criminals have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, mentally ill people only have the right to a preponderance of the evidence, a significantly lower legal protection. A sane serial killer has more legal rights than me, a person who has never committed a crime, should I admit to a serious contemplation of suicide. We don’t even have to commit crimes now, our thoughts alone are crime enough, and we can even be imprisoned for suspected thought crimes.

    Also, your logic is awful. I know a school teacher who raped a bunch of girls, so now we can jail all teachers under the assumption that they are a threat to society, being of the criminal class of teachers, right? And we can jail other groups we see as a risk class too right? They don’t have to actually commit any crimes, being a member of such a group is enough to give the presumpion of thought crime and hey, that’s good enough, right?

  • Steven

    I’m not sure how a discussion of delusional thinking regarding earthquakes turned into an acrimonious debate about the human rights of the mentally ill, but I’ll chime in with some personal experience. My uncle has been dealing with his schizophrenia for decades – an endless round of different doctors, different diagnoses, and different drugs. When they get the medication “right” he’s the nicest guy around with a passion for fishing and socializing. Off his meds he is paranoid and violent – not entirely safe to be around.
    My wife faces a similar situation as she has suffered from bi-polar disorder since her teens but was only properly diagnosed in her thirties. A few pills a day and she’s a hard worker, a great mom, and a true companion. If she misses a few doses I don’t even recognize her as she shifts between deep depression and rage.
    It’s true that I have no idea what it is like to have a mental illness but I’m intimately familiar with the challenges faced when you love someone who has one.
    I think I have a right and a responsibility to encourage them to get the best treatment available. In the case of my uncle, it’s a matter of both his own safety and that of the people around him. We may not like it, but some things really are for our own good.

  • fiddler

    >”this is patently false for non-mentally ill people”

    No, this is false for the MAJORITY of mentally ill people, learn the difference.

    >”then people like you presuppose their guilt and their innocence cannot be proved, because you see our very existence as criminal”

    No, I am one. You seem to think that people making claims of wanting to kill others or be dangerous to others should be given a pass when mentally ill. Please place that strawman near the door before your ire ignites it…

    >”mentally ill people only have the right to a preponderance of the evidence, a significantly lower legal protection”

    well, a criminal of the normal mind does things from maliciousness or sadism. A mentally ill person that commits crimes generally cannot understand that they are operating outside of reality.
    A criminal is incarcerated for his or her actions. A mentally ill person is allowed a treatment facility and “guarded” by people who want to help them rediscover reality by method of therapy and medication.

    >”They don’t have to actually commit any crimes, being a member of such a group is enough to give the presumpion of thought crime and hey, that’s good enough, right?”

    Again, please remove the strawman from your immediate vicinity. No one has suggested that there be a round-up of the mentally ill. No one has suggested that all mentally ill people have or will commit crimes. Those that condone/promote/promise violent action against others should be committed to a facility to prevent them acting on their fantasies. As in my previous and true example, everyone knew he would do this because he had described being commanded to by demons and angels. He had taken steps in that direction. You “defenders” of his are directly responsible for 7 people being brutally murdered while you fought for his right to not take the meds that EVERYONE knew he needed. So grow the $@#& up and take responsibility for the deaths that occured.

  • David D.G.

    Hazor wrote:

    @David/Cathy/Muggle:

    Yes, the mentally ill are people too – but the fact is that some are very dangerous because of a severely distorted sense of reality. They’re not medicated only for their own good, but also for the good of everyone who might be hurt, even killed, by them.

    Also, and I don’t mean to speak for him, I doubt David was intending to say that all of the worlds problems are caused by the mentally ill, only that what people like Sedighi and Pat Robertson say is blatantly delusional, and that the whole world would be better off if it were not for their ravings.

    Thanks, Hazor. Yes, I certainly wasn’t implying that “all the world’s problems” are caused by crazy people — religious or otherwise. Thanks for discerning that.

    @ Cathy:

    Although I think that you may have taken my original comment a bit more personally than was warranted, I do appreciate your response. I see now that my comment was insensitively phrased with regard to those who struggle with mental illness; I spoke recklessly, and I apologize for that.

    (I also apologize to Hemant for inadvertently hijacking the thread toward a subject I never intended to expound upon!)

    For the record, I do not advocate forcibly medicating everyone who falls outside a narrow, arbitrarily defined definition of mentally “normal.” However, I do support the voluntary use of medication therapy to help those who need it (including myself, for depression).

    I agree that forcibly incarcerating or medicating anyone for a medical condition should be a last resort; however, in my honest opinion, it still should be done if necessary, with due process, in cases in which someone shows a tendency toward harmful behavior as a result of his/her illness.

    I don’t expect anyone in that situation to enjoy having that happen to him/her, and I can appreciate your stand on personal body rights. (For what it’s worth, I am a staunch pro-choice advocate myself for much the same reasons.) However, the rights and safety of other individuals in society must be protected as well. It is doubtless a difficult balancing act, and there probably is no way to work it out that satisfies everyone.

    ~David D.G.

  • Anon

    Just on the mentally ill question (because I think there are some strawmen being used against cathy):

    ‘Mentally ill’ encompasses a very broad spectrum of people. You have people who suffer from depression, people with learning difficulties, and people who are bi-polar, schizophrenic, etc.. You have people who are completely in charge of their mental faculties, and people who are not in charge of them at all, and yet both types fall under the category of mentally ill. There are people who have chemical imbalances which can be controlled by medicine, and are completely different when on drugs to when not on them, and in these cases some of the things mentioned in this thread are appropriate. But they are not the only people that we are talking about here!

    This is important – you can be 100% ‘sane’ and yet still wish to commit suicide. You can have rational reasons for wishing to end your own life. However, because a large amount of people do not seem to be able to get their heads around this, they assume that anyone that wishes to die must be in need of ‘help’. (I use the quotes because help often would be appreciated, just not that kind – which is effectively incarceration until the person no longer wishes to end their own life). I suspect this is what cathy is particularly railing against.

    I have to say I have a lot of sympathy with cathy here – perhaps because I also fall into the category ‘mentally ill’, and I also fall into the category of someone who has seriously considered suicide. I have been diagnosed as having drug resistent depression, which will hopefully help make the point that it isn’t merely a chemical imbalance. (Ah, the wonders of the anonymity of the internet! No way I would have mentioned this otherwise! :))

    Hell – who am I kidding, I don’t just have sympathy with her, I completely agree with cathy here.

    Anon (for obvious reasons, call me a coward if you like!)

  • muggle

    Cathy, my willingness to invoke Kendra’s law should it be necessary is because of experience with my daughter’s dreadful disease. It would be to protect her and my grandson. What would be abusive would be to turn away from her when she is direly ill and needs me. Fortunately, she realizes the importance of taking her medication and would herself be angry at you for making such baseless accusations against me. She knows only too well that she still has her son because of me and that she and him are doing as well as they are because of my caring for them both just that deeply.

    Hazor, does have it right. You do have to go in front of a judge and show cause. There are conditions that have to be met. If my daughter did not have a history of hurting herself or someone else, I wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of invoking Kendra’s law. If she ever goes off her medication, that’s between her and her therapist but for him to agree to that, she’d have to display her ability to cope without. She hurt herself and she endangered my grandson. What the hell kind of parent and grandparent would I be if I were to disregard that? On her meds, my daughter has it together; off them, she just can’t cope. She is learning coping skills and this may or may not change. Obviously, her meds would have to be lowered cautiously before being ended and talk therapy is a must alternative. If she doesn’t cope, her meds have to be upped again.

    Also, go to family support perhaps with a family member that is already involved. Try to see what they’re dealing with. My daughter was nothing next to most of their loved ones. I’ve watched people weep over the things their mentally ill loved ones have done. I have watched them torn between child and grandchild as I have been and spouses torn between spouse and children. I have seen them having to protect adult children from those that exist in this world who are cruel enough to exploit and endanger the mentally ill for their own purposes. I have seen adult siblings try to cope with their sibling’s mental illness and help them. I have seen them all sacrifice much of themselves financially, emotionally and, yes, socially for mentally ill people they cared deeply about.

    To call them prejudiced and abusive is, frankly, an utterly callous thing to say. It is only family who love their ill relative deeply who intervene rather than turning away and allowing that person to be lost to the fates. Standing by a family member struggling with a mental illness takes strength and only love will give you that strength. No one calls the crisis unit on you if you are not out of control and/or delusional unless you have a previous history of being so and they are fearful of history repeating itself. Even then, they do not do so without some behavior on your part causing them to fear for your safety or the safety of those around you.

    I love my daughter and I am proud of her for having come so far. I am proud of her for taking bad and learning from it to make good of her life and turn it around, to do what she has to do to make her life work.

    Anon, all I can say is that I hope you have someone who loves you looking out for you. In any case, seek out some support, if you haven’t already. And you’re not a coward! Not if you’re brave enough to voice your opinion even on the internet.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    Women causing earthquakes? Gives a new meaning to “thunder thighs,” doesn’t it?

    (Note: I’m not trying to shame anyone who actually has large thighs or imply that large thighs are unattractive or bad, I just don’t want to upset anyone!)

    And I agree somewhat with everyone who has taken a stand on the rights of individuals with mental illness thing. I think David G.’s last post summed it up great. I also can say to cathy that I work within a psychology department where most of our mental health consumers are medicated and hospitalized, and I can say that they receive those treatments for a reason. I can also say that I and it seems like everyone else involved are staunch supporters of the rights of mental health consumers/patients/clients. It’s a hard balance to find, but please do be assured that many people who work with the mental health of others are working to do it in such a way as to afford both dignity and safety. Also, I think the way that the field of psychology views appropriate treatment is changing for the better.

    To whoever said that cathy was off her meds, not cool. I don’t think that personal insults have a place here.

  • fiddler

    @ Beth: Sometimes a personal affront is important to remind a person that they aren’t thinking clearly.
    If there were a method to medicate a murderer or rapist into being a productive member of society, would cathy and beth be so affronted? Probably not. You are worshipping a false paradigm if you think that trying to help people learn to be or be better is a bad thing. The simple fact is that many -NOT ALL- mentally ill people could and would be personally and societally better if they are on their meds. Thousands of murders and millions of dollars in property damage would be spared if there were a better understanding and system in place to help the maladjusted or mentally ill take their meds. Complaining about forced medication for the extreme and at risk people only helps keep the body count high!

  • deepwater805

    The clown prince of Persia hath spoken! Also mentioned in his speech, but not reported, was that wanking causes blindness. Which may explain my sudden need to get a stronger prescription for my glasses…..

  • cathy

    @fiddler “If there were a method to medicate a murderer or rapist into being a productive member of society, would cathy and beth be so affronted? Probably not” I have, in fact, been involved in discussions about protecting prisoners from unwanted medical experimentation (and how to balance that with ensuring they can consensually take part in medical trials when they wish to). It is in fact considered a violation of the Constitution to drug a prisoner or to perform castrations or other bodily alterations without consent. To treat a ‘sane’ prisoner the way you think mentally ill people should be treated is considered a serious crime and, under UN codes, is considered torture and a violation of the Geneva codes. The mentally ill, as a class, in the US have less rights than convicted violent criminals. When given a choice, many people will choose time in prison over time in a state run mental institution. As one young man I know put it “In prison, they may treat as a bad person, but they are still forced to treat you as a person.” If I had to choose between five years in an institution and five years in jail, I would pick the latter and would have more legal rights. No one who has actually been in a state institution paints the pretty picture of them that you people have, and no one who has ever dealt with the nonconsensually commited would ever believe that no one ever calls the police or tries to have someone locked up without violent behavior. I have a trans friend my age for whom her transition was enough for her to be labelled as out of control and in need of institutionalization for her schizophrenia. The mere fact of having a mental illness diagnosis makes you vulnerable to others abusing it as a means to control you, such as having you imprison for deciding not to utilize certain forms of medical intervention.

    “Anon, all I can say is that I hope you have someone who loves you looking out for you. In any case, seek out some support, if you haven’t already” Except then, you have a diagnosis, making you one of us dangerous mentals, and you have a ‘history’ meaning that your relatives can use it to imprison you. It means you will almost certainly be prevented from getting health insurance. It means you it will be impossible or highly unlikely for you to adopt children or gain custody in a dispute. It means you will be less able to be employed. It often means choosing between access to social services and unwanted medical procedures. It means loosing the right to due process. It means being able to be imprisoned without ever having commited a crime. It is precisely the denial of human rights of the mentally ill that prevents people from being able to have full options and choices.

  • muggle

    “No one who has actually been in a state institution paints the pretty picture of them that you people have,” Who’s painting a pretty picture of them? I haven’t and I don’t think they are any kind of a haven. I think they are a necessary evil. Because the mentally unbalanced can be dangerous to themselves and others.

    “no one who has ever dealt with the nonconsensually commited would ever believe that no one ever calls the police or tries to have someone locked up without violent behavior.” Actually, I think this now happens less in New York because of Kendra’s law. Worried loved ones now have another course of action. Doesn’t mean the crisis unit (unfortunately) never has to be called but it does give an avenue of preventing that kind of drama.

  • muggle

    As for Anon’s course of action, that’s up for him to decide.

    Depends on how he can cope on his own or not. Going to a therapist is pretty normal these days. Just that one action is not going to put all those labels on him.

    Ignoring a problem, on the other hand, could spiral him into crisis and if that happens, he will wind up with those labels. Wish my daughter had gone to therapy before she had a crisis. If she had, the crisis might have been avoided and she would not have endangered both herself and my grandson and would not carry all those labels as she now does.

    And it’s not like they can’t be overcome. It never goes completely away but she’s been controlling her illness long enough now to prove herself somewhat. If for instance, grandson’s daddy decided to sue for custody two years after the crisis, he’d have a harder time doing so.

    I don’t know if she could adopt but she works with children who are autistic and one with Downes Syndrome now, providing respite. And she can become a pharmacist. She carefully checked that out before wasting her time on it.

    There’s still way too much stigma and way too much abuse of the system (as in the case of your transgendered friend) but it is improving.

  • fiddler

    @cathy Wow, you have serious issues. So far you have attributed arguments to a few people, myself included, that no one here even made, much less ourselves.

    What I do gather from your posts:
    Getting diagnosed with a disease or illness is bad because someone will discriminate against you.
    Medication is bad because someone will discriminate against you.
    Treating people for illnesses they have is bad because they have the right to have illnesses.
    Protecting people from harming themselves or others is bad because they have a right to harm themselves and others.
    Giving a prisoner medication to allow them to sleep or stop beating themselves to a pulp by banging their head on the floor “is considered torture and a violation of the Geneva codes.”

    You have serious issues and I’m very glad that no one I know with mental health problems will get advice from you…

  • Anon

    First off, thanks to muggle and cathy for the kind words. I am currently receiving treatment already – I have been for a few years now, after about 10-15 years of trying to keep going without any. I basically got to a point where continuing to struggle on was not an option, and since then have been receiving treatment. If this leads to discrimination, then there’s nothing I can do about it.

    I must confess, however, that I have never admitted to anyone I’ve seen the extent of any feelings/thoughts relating to suicide because of fear of what might happen. Either I’m being unreasonably frightened about it, or something is wrong about the system.

    Again, the thing that gets me is the ‘or harm towards oneself’ portion of the situation. (I have no problem with the action for the ‘harming other people’ part.) There may be some situations where it is reasonable (for example, with foregiven consent – implicit in taking drugs, if the harm is caused by their running out of the drugs), but that isn’t how it is implemented. For example, even during sessions with psychologists I have, in a small way, ‘self harmed’. Just simple things like pinching skin, and twisting, say.

    The thing is, there is actually a perfectly rational reason for this, and it serves a useful purpose – the pain allows me to focus, and prevent myself from getting lost in memories or unwelcome emotions. Physical pain can be a distraction from worse mental pain – it’s like if you have a scab you aren’t meant to scratch, you should scratch somewhere else to take your mind off it. It can actually be a coping mechanism. Suicide can be merely the ultimate instance of this.

    I know this is hard for people to get their heads around – I have had times when I didn’t feel the pain could get any worse, and it has, so I can understand that people find it hard to accept that someone can be compos mentis and want to end their life. I wonder if certain religions and their prohibitions against suicide are part of the problem, or if they are just a manifestation of what people think anyway. Maybe self harm is not the best possible coping method around, but you don’t solve matters by preventing people from using it – you solve matters by giving them a better one to replace it with.

    Apologies for the rambling.

    Even though I’m writing anonymously I think I’ll bow out of the conversation though – when you don’t want to be recognised, you worry about giving details about where you live, or people recognising your writing style etc. Or at least I do. :) Plus it is a subject that hits close to home, and although you two are treating it maturely – if passionately – not everyone who has posted here has.

    Oh I’ll say it. Fiddler, I don’t want this to appear mean spirited in any way, especially as I am anonymous, and said I’m probably going to drop out of the conversation, but you are not coming across very well at all. To be blunt, you are coming across as someone who is very aggressive, lacking in empathy, not trying/trying not to appreciate the position of the other person, and also without a very good grasp on the subject. I’d suggest you try to appear more thoughtful when putting forward your opinion, or perhaps, merely putting more thought into it.

    Anon

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    @ fiddler, I think you might have “productive member of society” confused with boiled into passivity by medication. Of course I know that medication has a place, and of course I know that most people with SMI need medication and function better with medication. I study psychology, for [deity]‘s sake! All I was saying is that it is not ok to personally insult or otherwise be a jerk to someone that you perceive as needing medication. People with mental illnesses do, in fact get discriminated against. I think you can get your point across other ways, thoughtful ways. You can be rational and not sound so harsh. I don’t take it as a personal affront, only as a sign that you are either misinformed or that you have misunderstood what I meant.


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