Magazine February 7, 2011, Issue

Let Them Take Pills

Jared Loughner (U.S. Marshals/Reuters)
Misguided civil-liberties concerns hurt the mentally ill and the public

For many years it has been politically correct to claim that people with schizophrenia or other forms of mental illness are no more dangerous than the general population. Even after the recent homicides in Arizona attributed to Jared Lee Loughner, an obviously mentally ill young man, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law stated: “Studies show that having a mental illness, in itself, does not increase one’s propensity to commit serious violence.” Likewise, Mental Health America, previously known as the National Mental Health Association, publicly claimed that “people with mental health conditions are no more likely to be violent than

E. Fuller Torrey — Mr. Torrey, a psychiatrist, is the founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center ( and the author of The Insanity Offense: How America’s Failure to Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers Its Citizens (W. W. Norton).

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