Sunday January 20, 2013

The Eagle on Jan. 13 reported that Wahconah Regional High School Assistant Principal Aaron Robb, following the weekend after the Newtown shootings, announced to the students "...violent acts such as the shooting in Newtown are designed to destroy our trust in one another -- we must strengthen our hope for a better tomorrow and we must continue to have faith in one another. The least we can do is commit ourselves to that."

But I would hope we would want to teach our high school students something as close to the medical truth as we can, such as: There are a few among us who gradually develop paranoid mental illness where they believe others are evil and should be annihilated or totally wiped out. They can become so agitated and taken over by these delusions that they can’t appreciate that they are intending to harm perfectly innocent people.

Antipsychotic medication can make their agitation and false beliefs go away in about a third, can make their agitation and false beliefs partially go away in another third, and can make their agitation partially go away but not their false beliefs in the final third. The improvement can occur within days or weeks. The way to increase trust and faith in one another is to report these folks who are verbally threatening others to your teacher, councilor, family, or the police. They usually deny that they are paranoid at the time because denial is part of their illness. Some require the judge to order the treatment, and after effective medication and case management, they are usually glad the judge ordered it. The majority that improve no longer believe others should be gotten rid of. The few that remain with a high potential for violence get long term locked hospital treatment.

The reason that this is not common public health information taught in the schools is that many in the mental health and the teaching professions have been so busy advocating for the mentally ill that they have created the illusion that they’re not mentally ill. This leads to neglect of adequate treatment which can endanger the community more than anything.

Teachers should be the first to teach the difference between politically distorted science and accurate science. This is what will increase the trust and hope in each other much more than a moral command.

AUGUSTUS F. KINZEL, M.D.

Canaan, N.Y.