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Judicial Interference--Justified Paternalism?
   Correspondence, Medical Sentinel, Volume 4, Number 4, July/August 1999
The Death of Ethics: A Human Construct

The Death of Ethics: A Human Construct
by Nelson Borelli, M.D.

The First-Family Forum on Mental Health televised on June 7 (1999) had the appearance of a presidential campaign opening rather than a medical discussion. The President, Vice-President, Cabinet Members, their spouses and media experts produced a sort of mental health ministry. The Credo was twofold: 1) mental illnesses are the cause of our social troubles such as the shooting in schools, and 2) and mental illnesses are curable. The speeches resemble conventional religious preaching calling for faith and support. It was an incredible, surreal, manufacturing of madness.

The Forum neglected to mention that there are scientific views in strong, radical opposition to theirs. Thomas S. Szasz , M.D. and others have written abundantly about the dangers implicit in the mental illness ideology. An ideology that offers an easy way out of difficult situations but neglects to tell the consequences or "side effects" of such an easy way out.

The public deserves to know some of the consequences.

The Mental Illness ideology advocates the notion that instincts and passions can overrule the person's intelligence and will; that due to Mental Illness persons may not know what they want; that a sick brain is the cause of mental illness and that there is little we can do about it but submit ourselves to mental health experts. This ideology belittles the strength of human will and is scientifically untrue. The truth is that there is no correlation between the shape of the brain, and a person's choice; e.g., to kill or not to kill, in a school or elsewhere.

Biological explanations for human ethics are an old story. In the Middle Ages the "witches" were "diagnosed" by certain physical characteristic known as "stigmata diaboli". In more recent times American of African ancestry and women of any ancestry were considered less than human also by the presence of certain physical characteristics. Now we have the shape of the brain. The brain is used like a crystal ball where the "expert" goes to learn how persons think and feel, whether the gunner meant to kill or not, whether the gunner is mentally ill or not. Never mind the overwhelming discrepancies between the "experts's" opinions as to willfulness or intent in any given case.

The mental illness ideology is a kind of rabbit-hole predicament: we know we are in it and at the same time we deny its existence. So we continue deeper and deeper into it.

Schoolchildren are one of the latest victims of the mental illness ideology. The teaching and cultivation of manners and civility as a moral proposition is all but gone. Instead; a medical-biological solution is applied to behavior considered undesirable. Schools are rapidly becoming a kind of day hospital staffed by an army of nurses, social workers and psychologists dispensing psychotropic drugs and politically correct advice or prophylactics. Parents are made to feel guilty if they refuse to submit their children to the "help" of the mental illness experts.

Teachers and students, as well as the public, have acquiesced to the idea that it is useless to teach and practice the curving of undesirable behavior because the "experts" say that, ultimately, it is biology that rules. Ultimately, they are all mental illness, more than five hundred types of it. Whether attention disorders, drug abuse, sex, gambling, gluttony or anorexia, they are all brain diseases according to the mental illness experts. Teachers know better but they dare not be labeled heretics.

Manner deterioration in schools is alarming. It has gone far beyond ordinary bad manners. The increasing gunfire and other crimes in school are forcing parents to provide a refuge by schooling at home. The most serious deterioration began eleven years ago with the shootings in a Winnetka school. It is noticed how that atrocity was not labeled the willful action of the perpetrator. Instead; it was seen as involuntary behavior due to brain disease, this is, mental illness. With that distortion of facts the schools closed their doors against morality. Ethics was no longer the accepted basis of civility. Instead; the schools open the doors to the ideology no-fault, non-willful, biologically-determined behavior.

The murders at Columbine high school is an extreme example of manners-deterioration in schools. It has much to do with the mental illness ideology, which is now used at the highest levels of government in demagogic pursuit of political power. Educators and others who heed these politicians will never get out of the rabbit-hole. They and their mental illness ideology, are sinking us ever deeper into the rabbit-hole.

Nelson Borelli, M.D.
Northwestern University

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