Mental Illness – You Wont Like What I have To Say

By John Farnam

Schizophrenic : This drawing was found in an old asylum, its artist was a paranoid schizophrenic.
Schizophrenic : This drawing was found in an old asylum, its artist was a paranoid schizophrenic. View more images by Schizophrenic
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-( Mental Illness:

This morning’s double-murder in VA brings up a difficult subject: “mental illness.” And one that is hard to discuss frankly without incurring criticism and hurting feelings.

So not all will like, nor appreciate, the following:

Whatever the current buzz-word/psycho-babble term in vogue, be it “ disturbed,” issues with “anger management,” “emotionally unstable,” “ schizophrenic” (whatever that means), “troubled”, “EDP,” “criminally insane,” “ crazy,” “psychopathic,” et al, these people are extremely dangerous, as we see!

Since we no longer have mental hospitals, people who are genuinely mentally ill are now freely mixed-in with the general population. Many make up the legions of “homeless.” Many more are in prison.

Others are supported by their families, but in most cases their families are as frightened of them as is everyone else, and thus want nothing to do with them!

Still others are semi-functional, are occasionally employed (but never for long), but people around them quickly pick-up on the fact that they have emotional issues. Like alcoholics, they learn ways to camouflage their “ craziness,” but it invariably leaks out often enough to put people on edge. That is why they are unable to hold a job for anything but brief periods.

What to do?

As a society, I don’t know!        Causes and cures are hard to come by. I’m not sure anyone really knows much about “mental illness.” Still fewer, despite all their degrees, have any capacity to “cure” the problem. We do know it represents a major issue in all cultures, races, and venues.

Should churches and other charitable groups try to “help” these people? Can they be helped? It’s, of course, a matter of personal conscience. But, we can never forget that any amount of exposure always entails real personal jeopardy.

Healthcare professionals and LEOs are, of course, expected to deal with the mentally ill, but they do so at great personal risk, and they know it!

As a family, or employer, should you “take-in” the “troubled” or “ disturbed” youth? Many do, and again, it is a decision of conscience. But, NEVER DISCOUNT THE SIGNIFICANT RISK TO YOU PERSONALLY! It is real and sometimes manifests itself as it did this morning! (warning disturbing video)

As an individual, the most pragmatic/practical advice I can render is:

Have nothing to do with these people. As soon as it becomes obvious that a person has pernicious emotional issues, separate from them immediately, permanently!

You probably cannot “help” them in any event, and significant risk attaches to every contact, as noted above. All of your regular friends should be stable, established, functional, “normal.” None are perfect, of course, but the chronically unstable make poor, and dangerous, company, as we see!

In the end, it comes down to personal management of “risk exposure.” None makes for a boring and pointless life. Too much makes for a frustrating, and short, life. Neither extreme is in your best interest.

My personal philosophy is that my share of danger, maybe more than my share, will likely come my way through no encouragement on my part. I’ll do my best to prepare for it, and deal with it appropriately when it rears its ugly head.

But, there must be an acceptable risk/benefit balance associated with everything I contemplate doing.

Great risk, associated with scant benefit is, in my view, the very definition of a “bad deal!

‘Happiness’ is nothing more than good health… and a bad memory” ~ Albert Schweitzer


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

  • 23 thoughts on “Mental Illness – You Wont Like What I have To Say

    1. You as the author are advocating shunning as the answer to association with mentally ill persons. That is not the answer. Would you shun your spouse because of depression?

    2. What an unadulterated load of BS!
      Lots of myths, stereotypes, unfounded opinions, bigotry…
      If any of your former students were really brave, willing to be honest with you after you’ve shown your ignorance & bigotry, you’d probably find that just like the national average, about 20% of them have some form of brain disease.

      Listen to the experts, the people who know what they’re talking about because of experience & education.
      And stick to your own area of expertise.
      I don’t listen to actors when they talk about politics, why should I listen to you in this case? Because the knowledge of the other topic is about equal in both cases.

      I’m a firearm safety instructor, and I live with a brain disease.
      The two are not mutually incompatible.
      The disease is long-term (chronic), debilitating if not treated, but it does not make me want to harm others.
      I came here because of a post on the Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership facebook page, and I see that their admin has already posted here & taken you to task.

    3. With the greatest regard for your extraordinary firearms training: No, John, I don’t like what you say.
      But I suspect that what I don’t know about defense training is comparable to what you don’t know about mental illness. The mentally ill act violently less than the general public.
      You’ve trained many thousands of people to shoot, John. You didn’t realize that about 1 in 5 of them had some psychiatric illness at the time, as is always the case. You can’t avoid them, because they don’t usually stand out. They’re just people like you and me dealing with their problems.
      — Robert B Young, MD, of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
      See “Who Are The Mass Murderers?” at

    4. “All of your regular friends should be stable, established, functional, “normal.”” Damn, I guess I’ll have to let go of my liberal friends.

    5. As one of those “mental health practitioners” who often work with mentally ill folks, I have a couple of pertinent observations about the article.
      1) The vast majority of citizens are not capable of recognizing mental illness when they see it in others. The media depictions are vastly off, and most people either blow off major symptoms as “personality quirks” or else see ANY sort of social oddity as proof positive of mental illness. This suggests that it may be very difficult to follow the article’s prescription to avoid people with mental illness.
      2) As far as being careful of those mentally ill folks who are likely to become violent – Good Luck in spotting them! To date, the profession has never been able to predict, with better than about 40 percent accuracy, who will become violent in the future. Even that 40 percent relied heavily on the use of past behavior as a predictor (it is still the BEST predictor) of future behavior. This is useless unless you have access to information about a person’s past behavior, which you rarely will, and is not too helpful in predicting the FIRST occurrence of violent behavior either.
      In general, I think most of us ALREADY avoid dealing with people we know to have been violent in the past – that’s a natural reaction.

      Lastly, while they may be a tad odd, the vast majority of mentally ill people are not, and will never become, physically violent, so there is no need to avoid them. Statistically, it is more reasonable to suggest that we avoid black people, since they appear to have a higher incidence of violent behavior, as a population sub-group, than the mentally ill do (and, “No,” I am not actually suggesting you do any such thing). However, I use this as an example, to highlight another perspective on the problem, and seen from THAT perspective, the inherent problems with the article’s recommended behavior seem more apparent.

      1. Good commentary on the article. In general I have to agree with the logic of the statement. Survival of the fittest in the long term is determined by cognitive dissonance. If someone appears to be unbalanced in some way the normal reaction from logical thought processes is to remove yourself from the influence.

        I fundamentally disagree with the article, however. I have mild depression and mild OCD. One of my best friends has compounded mental disorders. I have a family member with severe schizophrenic bipolar disorder. They both have conditions controlled by medicine while my issues don’t require it. But psychofarmacology isn’t the answer in a significant number of cases. This means, to me, that the common practice of the medical profession to medicate everything away is wrong-headed.

        Education is the best answer for recognizing mental disorders even if it’s not entirely accurate. The lack of education about mental disorders within general education prior to college is silly. We talk about sex, physical health, and physical disorders. Why don’t we discuss and educate about general mental disorders beyond basic depression? I have a passing familiarity with the DSM and some formal education about psychology so I’m a bit more familiar with these disorders and their accompanying symptoms. All of that education, beyond my own personal research due to a physical brain malady I deal with on a daily basis, accounts for less than 1 year yet I don’t succumb to the anxiety posed by the mentally ill.

        Education resolves all issues regarding a lack of knowledge. We should be educating the public about the real causes and symptoms of common mental disorders. We should also be educating, not just giving handouts to, those who have mental disorders so they can better understand their own issues and what it takes to remediate their symptoms. When you educate away ignorance you constructively remove or reduce fear and mistrust.

    6. I suppose it could be said that anyone who willfully decides to obtain a weapon, knife, hammer, ball bat, iron pipe or even a firearm and kill another human being for merely existing probably has a few deck plates that are not securely fastened. I happen to be good friends with several people who work with and around the mentally disturbed among us and they are not optimistic about the probability of “curing” them. They persist in their efforts only out of a sense of duty and I admire them for that. Mr. Farnam is in some cases correct in warning people to put some distance between themselves and those who are obviously disturbed. If it is another family member then one would suppose they would be charitable enough to attempt to arrange some sort of counseling or psychiatric/medical care. The reliance on drugs these days to keep disturbed people, especially teenagers, calm and in the mainstream is misguided and in many cases has been a root cause of some of the multiple murders that we have witnessed. All of that being said, is there anyone out there who knows precisely what to do? I think not as it is a difficult problem long in search of a solution. Guns are not the cause and disarming the law abiding public is not the answer. That’s the venue of the tyrants among us.
      “The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.” Albert Camus

      1. I think yours is the most cogent comment on this article. I, too, believe that those who are adjudicated mentally ill must be separated from “normal” society for their own benefit and the benefit of society. As an inpatient in a mental institution they will always receive their medications and other treatment as prescribed by Competent physicians. My greatest fear is that the definition of mental illness would be left up to the government at some level. There lies the greatest danger to the public as that was what Stalin did to his opponents. He had them declared “mentally ill” and incarcerated in his Gulags.

    7. the author of the article hits the nail on the head . and also apparently a number of the easily offended , which is what america is made up of these days. the mentally ill are the main reason that these horrific crimes are so prevalent in america and maybe the rest of the civilized world . other than euthanizing the mentally ill or locking them up there is really no solution .

      1. “the mentally ill are the main reason these crimes are so prevalent”
        Um, no, the reason we have mass murders is because people can’t protect themselves.
        In the last 50 years, nearly all the mass murders have been in “gun-free” zones.
        And nearly all the street crime has been criminals killing criminals, often in the commission of other crimes.
        Very few have actually had a brain disease. The reason they show up in the news is because the news reports on UNUSUAL things.

        Also, do you have any clue how many different brain diseases there are? So saying “the mentally ill” is like saying “the disabled”. It’s such a huge category label, it’s meaningless. Most are not violent, or at worst only want to harm themselves.

        And are you aware that they are caused by chemical changes? They’re real, just like diabetes is a chemical problem, and they can usually be solved with medicine. Problem is in getting the person to continue taking it.

    8. The author was right, in that he would be attacked. But I’m glad that someone other than myself has brought up the pertinent issue, in that we have a lot of violent mentally ill people among us. When Ronald Reagan relaxed the mental health laws that we had protecting us, he unleashed a Pandora’s Box of evil upon us. Now, if we are to commit someone, they have to be an immediate danger to themselves or others before that can be done. What that means is that they have to attack someone in plain sight, or themselves. Only then can they be subjected to a 3 day mandatory psychological evaluation. It used to be that the mentally ill were evaluated by a panel of psychiatrists, and were treated as inpatients until they were better. That protected us, and them. Now, our treatment is “take these 2 pills and call me if the voices come back.” That program isn’t working, I offer up dead school children on the playground as proof.

      I’m not saying that all mentally ill people deserve to be institutionalized, but I am saying that we used to give them professional evaluations by qualified psychiatrists before that determination was made. A medical doctor has no clue how to treat mental illness, and they shouldn’t be allowed to “practice” at it, especially with lives of innocents at stake. We definitely need something better than what we’ve got. or are there not enough bodies on the ground yet for you to realize that?

      1. It wasn’t just Ronald Reagan who closed the Psychiatric Hospitals. Liberals sued claiming the mentally ill deserved their freedoms just like the rest of us. The US Constitution does not allow forced confinement except in criminal situations or with extreme judicial action. Most mentally ill are NOT violent. Many suffer from a neurological injury. Studies say 60 to 80%. Until recently, sports related mTBIs (mild traumatic brain injuries) were ignored and even denied they existed. The psychosis and cognitive struggles that can result from these injuries can make it very difficult to fit into and compete in society. One year, a man can be a star athlete on the grid iron. He can suffer a life changing head injury/concussion and within a few years, be struggling to make ends meet and end up on the street. Add some emotional trauma and we call him crazy.
        We create these problems by ignoring the underlying mechanisms.
        This monster in VA was not mentally ill. He was fueled by his own racist and homosexual perverted thought. He had anger and personality issues that went unresolved. Al Sharpton and the like fueled his anger. Then, when he acted out, he was fired when he should have been criminally prosecuted. But, people were afraid to file charges because he was a MINORITY x 2. Had he been criminally prosecuted, he likely would have lost his right to own a gun or at least been in the system on probation taking anger management classes and reporting to a probation officer or the court.
        So, we need to accept that we all have a responsibility to speak up. Turning away allows the problem to fester.
        btw, This author is dangerous in my view. No attempt to diffuse a situation. Abandon the person until they make trouble, then shoot them… Yes, that works…. Let’s return to the stone age. Survival of the fittest. Let the rest rot. That puts us right there with the animals of the jungle. We are much better than that.

    9. What I do know is growing up in the 50’s in Michigan there were Mental institutions that took care of the mentally Ill folks then the liberals got into their lets help them out and started closing all the Mental hospitals. So now what you have is they are either in prison with the criminals or they are walking among us. Thank to the bleeding heart Liberals, bottom line bring back the mental institutions so we can help them. The only problem now is how/who defines sane vs Insane, we probably should start in Washington DC.

    10. Wow, looks like Farnam has awakened some “mental health” activists (or just a couple of fruit cakes)! Bottom line is he is correct. There once was a time when these folks could be checked in to state home mental facilities for treatment by them selves, family or authorities after court hearings. Now they thanks to the ACLU, which and this is fact, is a communist found law organization, these folks run free on the streets-for a miserable life and are not to be helped. Many are the so-called homeless folks (which degrades the real homeless folks who are trying to get real help) you see on the streets with the only thing they have to run to or understand is alcohol or drugs. The major diagnosis is schizophrenia of one type or another and can result in aggressive behavior on the “homeless person’s” part depending on type and level of influence of the ailment and their perception of the citizen they may encounter.

      1. There are still psych hospitals, and people can still go there for treatment, or be compelled to do so by a court.
        And no, most people with a brain disease are not violent, not a threat to anyone. If they are, it’s usually only to themselves. You should be happy with that.
        But don’t let facts/reality change your opinion.
        Just like the anti-gun fanatics stick to their ideas.

    11. As having been a healthcare professional for over 40 years, I agree with Pete and Jamie. There are still mental health hospitals, there are cures, if only through medication and the last thing you want to do is shun these individuals. One thing you can do is to push for Congress not to cut mental healthcare through what might be termed, special interests or entitlements. The mentally ill are not all dangerous, but all do your help to secure them better available services.

    12. You say ” Have nothing to do with these people. As soon as it becomes obvious that a person has pernicious emotional issues, separate from them immediately, permanently!” What if one of them is a family member? 1 in 4 people have some sort of mental illness or personality disorder. Most of them are not dangerous and need our help. If you have a family member who has a serious mental illness you know the challenges that are facing these people. Hiding from them or burying your head in the sand does not help. Although there are some people that I really don’t even want to deal with myself. We need better mental health services in this country. Some of these people really need to be stopped from having access to guns and pose a serious risk to themselves and others. We need residential round the clock care for people with serious mental health issues.

      1. I agree and would hasten to add that we have to realize that government cannot and should not be expected to protect us from all threats. More laws are not the answer. As was pointed out, many who are mentally ill present no threat to society, the very few that do cannot always be detected and there is simply nothing we can do to prevent it.

    13. Sooooo…. you think the mentally ill are the new zombies? You’re a moron. Wait until you’re old and have dementia. I hope you’re shunned and your family fears you.

    14. The only thing I learned from this absurd article is that the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to mental illness. He needs to educate himself, and would be a good place for him to start.

    15. This “article” is hysterical garbage. You admit you don’t know much mental illness, you claim others like professionals don’t know much, but you know who to shun; the people with “pernicious” issues. Classy.

      1. You know I’m glad I came to the comment section to see that most people also thought this article was uninformed garbage. This article is just as bad as the hysterical illogical arguments of those who say we need to ban all guns.
        I have a very gifted brother who became schizophrenic during college. Luckily my family was able to get him the help he needed and after struggling to keep full employment (as the author notes) for a few years, he’s been able to regain the confidence he needed to survive in the workforce. The reason so many schizophrenic people become homeless is because their families can’t or won’t support them. My brother has no intention of getting a gun so why do we need to demonize this entire group of people?

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