Evidence of American Insanity

"More Americans are on psychiatric medications than ever before, and in my experience they are staying on them far longer than was ever intended. Sales of antidepressants and antianxiety meds have been booming in the past two decades, and they’ve recently been outpaced by an antipsychotic, Abilify, that is the No. 1 seller among all drugs in the United States, not just psychiatric ones.

As a psychiatrist practicing for 20 years, I must tell you, this is insane.

At least one in four women in America now takes a psychiatric medication, compared with one in seven men."

- Medicating Women’s Feelings, Julie Holland, NYT, 03/01/2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/opinion/sunday/medicating-womens-feelings.html

Evidently America has a substantial insanity problem, where insanity is broadly defined to include all sorts of mental malfunction. Either the enormous increase in medications to treat mental problems reflects a great increase in insanity, or growing use of such medications when they are not needed is itself a manifestation of serious insanity. The lack of greater concern about widespread insanity is another indication of its pervasiveness.

Here's an interesting comment on Holland's article from "comp" in Maryland:

"As an upper middle-class suburban mother, I can tell you that virtually every woman I know is medicated. Why? The whole world is going to hell. Medication is the only way women are able to cope; it's a good way to keep us sedated enough to function as the whole planet melts down."

Allowing lunatics to buy automatic weapons is arguably insane:

And that brings me to the Orlando massacre — to what happens when, on a smaller scale, we refuse to reimagine the social and legal changes we need to manage a world where one loser can now kill so many innocent people. The notion that such a person — any person — should be able to buy a military-style assault rifle is insane.
- Thomas Friedman, Lessons of Hiroshima and Orlando, NYT, June 15, 2016

Influential historian David McCullough thinks giving Trump a shot at the presidency is crazy:

“When you think of how far we have come, and at what cost, and with what faith, to just turn it all over to this monstrous clown with a monstrous ego, with no experience, never served his country in any way — it’s just crazy,” he said.
- Jim Dwyer, Scholars Steeped in Dead Politicians Take On a Live One: Donald Trump, NYT, July 12, 2016

A Comment on Trump and His Followers:

The point is that he has neither the intelligence nor the character the office requires. Then there is the fact that Trump is an ignorant man, and proud of it.

I think that is what a lot of his followers find attractive. Life is very complicated today, more than many can cope with. So they have decided to think whatever they want to think, to hell with facts, logic, and intellectual integrity.
- comment from The Iconoclast from Oregon, in response to Nicholas Confessore, July 13, 2016 [typos corrected]

Kristof says that in the 1960's white Americans were delusional:

In 1962, 85 percent of white Americans told Gallup that black children had as good a chance as white kids of getting a good education. The next year, in another Gallup survey, almost half of whites said that blacks had just as good a chance as whites of getting a job.

In retrospect, we can see that these white beliefs were delusional....
- Nicholas Kristof, A History of White Delusion, NYT, July 14, 2016

Bruce Rozenblit, Kansas City, MO:

The older I get, the more knowledge and wisdom I acquire as I travel through life, the more disappointed and dejected I get about our citizenry. I can't believe how unbelievably stupid, gullible and ignorant large sections of the population are.
- Bruce Rozenblit comment on A Debate Disaster Waiting to Happen, NYT, Sept. 8, 2016

Congressional Republicans have a new fear when it comes to their two-year-old health care lawsuit against the Obama administration: They might win.

The incoming Trump administration could choose to no longer defend the executive branch against the suit, which challenges the administration’s authority to spend billions of dollars on health insurance subsidies for low- and moderate-income Americans, handing House Republicans a big victory on separation-of-power issues.

But a sudden loss of the disputed subsidies could conceivably cause the health care program to implode, leaving millions of people without access to health insurance before Republicans have prepared a replacement. That could lead to chaos in the insurance market and spur a political backlash just as Republicans gain full control of the government.

To stave off that outcome, Republicans could find themselves in the awkward position of appropriating huge sums to temporarily prop up the Obama health care law, angering conservative voters who have been demanding an end to the law for years.
- Carl Hulse, House Republicans Fret About Winning Their Health Care Suit, NYT, Dec. 31, 2016

Whether or not you believe the allegations, the jaw-dropping dossier of sins that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accuses the nation’s largest student loan servicer of committing is useful for two crucial reasons.

First, it’s a reminder of just how much can go wrong when we force inexperienced young adults, especially, to navigate a complex financial services offering. We shouldn’t be surprised, but we should be ashamed: Elected representatives cut support for higher education; sticker prices rose; teenagers and others applied for admission, signed up for debt and, in many cases, finished their degrees. Then came the bombardment of confusing loan and repayment options.

Nobody stitched this crazy quilt on purpose, but most clear-thinking humans who approach the system for the first time conclude that we are insane for allowing it to evolve this way.
- RON LIEBER, 6 Tips for Avoiding the Worst Student Loan Repayment Traps, NYT, JAN. 20, 2017

The Senate gave final approval to a measure eliminating a rule to prevent coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams, while the House backed a separate resolution doing away with extended background checks for gun purchases by some Social Security recipients with mental disabilities. ...
In the House, the issue was an Obama rule extending background checks for disabled Social Security recipients mentally incapable of managing their own affairs. The House voted 235-180 to scuttle it.
Under the rule, the Social Security Administration had to provide information to the gun-buying background check system on recipients with a mental disorder so severe they cannot work and need someone to handle their benefits. The rule, also finalized in December, would have affected an estimated 75,000 beneficiaries.
"There is no evidence suggesting that those receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration are a threat to public safety," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

"Once an unelected bureaucrat unfairly adds these folks to the federal background check system, they are no longer able to exercise their Second Amendment right," he said.

After the 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Obama directed the Justice Department to provide guidance to agencies regarding information they are obligated to report to the background check system.

In Newtown, 20 children and six educators were shot to death when a gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. The gunman had earlier killed his mother inside their home, and he used a gun and ammunition that she had purchased. His mental health problems have been extensively reported since the shooting.
- THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Congress Scraps Obama Rules on Coal Mining, Guns, NYT, FEB. 2, 2017. See also Nicholas Kristof, Husbands Are Deadlier Than Terrorists, NYT, FEB. 11, 2017.

In a New York Times review of a couple books about American entrepreneurs including Peter Thiel and Tony Hsieh, Nick Bolton writes:

It isn’t so much that I didn’t like both of these books as much as I didn’t like the people in them. They, frankly, come across as self-centered lunatics who are intent on making a dent in the universe, without an ounce of self-awareness for the repercussions of how those actions could harm others.
- NICK BILTON, Pet Projects of the New Billionaires, NYT, FEB. 14, 2017

On American politicians' refusal to rethink the country's failed drug strategy:

That approach is, to be blunt, insane.
- John Kroger, Convictions, p. 329

It costs as little as $10 and as much as $10,169 to get the same blood test in California. A lower-back M.R.I. priced at $199 at one Florida clinic goes for $6,221 in San Francisco. ...
Many things about health care delivery in the United States are insane.
- Bret Stephens, A Price for the G.O.P.’s Health Care Insanity, NYT, JUNE 30, 2017

"I was just so proud for beating this samurai wannabe crazy lady with hate in her heart," Lovell, 29, told The Oregonian/OregonLive in a Facebook message exchange Wednesday. "I've been preparing my whole life for something like this."

The woman? Emily Javier, 30, his girlfriend of two years. Javier faces attempted murder charges after she told police and a 911 dispatcher she attacked and repeatedly slashed Lovell with a samurai sword during the wee hours of March 3. ...
In an interview with police after the attack, Javier claimed she found a Tinder dating app on Lovell's phone and also fumed over his penchant for playing too many video games.

Lovell admits he may spend a bit too much time in front of a computer screen. But he insists he never cheated.

"I barely had time to hang out with my girlfriend, let alone another girl," he said.

In recent months, Lovell said he had spent 12 to 13 hours a day playing and training for "PlayerUnknown's Battleground," a computer game where players parachute onto an island, gather weapons and blow each other to bits.

The long hours also required him to spend time doing exercises for his hands, wrists and shoulders and also practicing mouse moves and techniques to maximize performance. ...
The distraught woman, who identifies herself as Emily Javier, tells a dispatcher she just stabbed her boyfriend repeatedly with a sword.

She tells the dispatcher she couldn't go into the bedroom because there was too much blood.

"I think he's dead. You need to hurry," the woman tells the dispatcher.

Officers arrived at the couple's Northeast Garfield Street home minutes after the 1:54 a.m. call. Officers entered the bedroom and found the walls splattered with blood and Lovell curled up in ball, the police report shows.

He was rushed to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
- Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, Boyfriend who survived samurai sword attack: 'It scared the living poop out of me', The Oregonian/OregonLive, March 14, 2018

If reason played any part in the American love affair with guns, things would have been different a long time ago and we would not have so many mass shootings like the one that took the lives of seventeen high school students in Parkland, Florida on February 14. Almost everywhere else in the world, if you proposed that virtually any adult not convicted of a felony should be allowed to carry a loaded pistol—openly or concealed—into a bar, a restaurant, or classroom, people would send you off for a psychiatric examination.
- Adam Hochschild, Bang for the Buck, New York Review of Books, APRIL 5, 2018

McCabe is, of course, the former deputy director of the F.B.I. who was fired last March, just 26 hours before his scheduled retirement. ...
He adds to our understanding of how deeply Trump remains under Vladimir Putin’s sway. After a North Korean ballistic missile test, Trump told an F.B.I. briefer that reports of the test were a hoax. McCabe writes, incredulously: “He said he knew this because Vladimir Putin had told him so.”
About Trump, the author asks, “What more could a person do to erode the credibility of the presidency?” He watches this moral limbo dancer go lower and lower. Yet he sees the president as a symptom as much as a disease. ...
“When is the right time,” he asks, “to give up on people’s general ability to understand any slightly complicated statement that they don’t agree with?”
- Dwight Garner, In ‘The Threat,’ Andrew McCabe Issues the Latest Warning Call About Trump’s America, NYT, Feb. 16, 2019

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