Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of thirteen books, including the bestselling Nickel and Dimed. This article was originally published in her blog. Leaving aside the issue of WMM (Weapons of Mass Murder, aka guns), the massacre at Virginia Tech has something to teach us about the American mental health system. It’s farcically easy for an American to be diagnosed as mentally ill: All you have to do is squirm in your fourth grade seat and you’re likely to be hit with the label of A.D.D. and a prescription for Ritalin. But when a genuine whack-job comes along–the kind of guy who calls himself “Question Mark” and turns in essays on bloodbaths–there’s apparently nothing to be done. While Cho Seung-Hui quietly – very quietly – pursued his studies, millions of ordinary, non-violent, folks were being subjected to heavy-duty labels ripped from the DSM-IV. An estimated 20 percent of American children and teenagers are diagnosed as mentally ill in the course of a year, and adults need not feel left out of the labeling spree: Watch enough commercials and you’ll learn that you suffer from social phobia, depression, stress, or some form of sexual indifference (at least I find it hard to… Read full this story
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