26 Aug 15

Mental Illness:

This morning’s double-murder in VA brings up a difficult subject: “mental illness.” And one that is hard to discuss frankly without incurring criticism and hurting feelings, so not all will like, nor appreciate, the following:

Whatever the current buzz-word/psycho-babble term in vogue, be it “disturbed,” issues with “anger management,” “emotionally unstable,” “schizophrenic” (whatever that means), “troubled”, “EDP,” “criminally insane,” “crazy,” “psychopathic,” et al, these people are extremely dangerous, as we see!

Since we no longer have mental hospitals, people who are genuinely mentally ill are now freely mixed-in with the general population. Many make up the legions of “homeless.” Many more are in prison. Others are supported by their families, but in most cases their families are as frightened of them as is everyone else, and thus want nothing to do with them!

Still others are semi-functional, are occasionally employed (but never for long), but people around them quickly pick-up on the fact that they have emotional issues. Like alcoholics, they learn ways to camouflage their “craziness,” but it invariably leaks out often enough to put people on edge. That is why they are unable to hold a job for anything but brief periods.

What to do?

As a society, I don’t know! Causes and cures are hard to come by. I’m not sure anyone really knows much about “mental illness.” Still fewer, despite all their degrees, have any capacity to “cure” the problem. We do know it represents a major issue in all cultures, races, and venues.

Should churches and other charitable groups try to “help” these people? Can they be helped? It’s, of course, a matter of personal conscience. But, we can never forget that any amount of exposure always entails real personal jeopardy. Healthcare professionals and LEOs are, of course, expected to deal with the mentally ill, but they do so at great personal risk, and they know it!

As a family, or employer, should you “take-in” the “troubled” or “disturbed” youth? Many do, and again, it is a decision of conscience. But, NEVER DISCOUNT THE SIGNIFICANT RISK TO YOU PERSONALLY! It is real and sometimes manifests itself as it did this morning!

As an individual, the most pragmatic/practical advice I can render is:

Have nothing to do with these people. As soon as it becomes obvious that a person has pernicious emotional issues, separate from them immediately, permanently!

You probably cannot “help” them in any event, and significant risk attaches to every contact, as noted above. All of your regular friends should be stable, established, functional, “normal.” None are perfect, of course, but the chronically unstable make poor, and dangerous, company, as we see!

In the end, it comes down to personal management of “risk exposure.” None makes for a boring and pointless life. Too much makes for a frustrating, and short, life. Neither extreme is in your best interest.

My personal philosophy is that my share of danger, maybe more than my share, will likely come my way through no encouragement on my part. I’ll do my best to prepare for it, and deal with it appropriately when it rears its ugly head.

But, there must be an acceptable risk/benefit balance associated with everything I contemplate doing.

Great risk, associated with scant benefit is, in my view, the very definition of a “bad deal!”

“‘Happiness’ is nothing more than good health… and a bad memory”

Albert Schweitzer