23 Dec 12

This from a practicing psychologist:

“For twenty-five years, I have been asked to assess individuals who, for whatever reason, are suspected of being ‘not-quite-right.’ In the process, I have met murderers, child-molesters, thieves, and plenty of other dangerous characters.

I am routinely asked to predict who is about to ‘crack-up’ and who should thus have their personal freedom restricted in some way.

In all my years of direct experience, and with all my education, I can sum it all up briefly, and, I am quite certain the vast majority of my colleagues will agree with me:

(1) The only accurate predictor of future violent behavior, is past violent behavior.

(2) There is no other way to predict violent behavior at this time.

Sure, there are personality types that do not care about other people. We know there are disorders that include an inability to have compassion nor to experience other normal human emotions. But, even among people with these disorders, the vast majority never engage in violent behavior.

It makes us all feel better to believe, even hope, that there is a way to predict such horrible events as took place recently in CT. It makes us weak when we understand that we cannot.

Nonetheless, this is the truth.


Mental health professionals can sometimes help people cope with what we consider ‘disorders,’ and even resolve some. In the case of other conditions, as with Type I diabetes, we can intervene and help the person at least not get any worse.

However, will giving health-care professionals cart-blanch authority to throw people into prisons indefinitely, merely because one of us thinks they might be violent some day, be a good thing?

Would politicians and bureaucrats be tempted to abuse that authority?

You tell me!”

My comment: “I prefer dangerous liberty to peaceful slavery.”