The Murphy Bill is a plea not just for the need for coercive psychiatry, not just a claim for the effectiveness of coercive psychiatry but ultimately a sermon about the inevitability of coercive psychiatry in a system that adequately serves the needs of what he calls the severely mentally ill. The justification of coercive psychiatry is based upon 6 fundamental pillars, ideas that justify it and provide a basis to convince others of its fundamental value and truth. The provisions of the Murphy Bill basically are all expressions of one or more of these pillars.
1. You either are or you are not. There is a clear distinction between those who are or are not severely disturbed. Psychiatric diagnoses are statements of medical fact and convey the essence of who a person is and what they can expect from life. Murphy defines away exceptions. “If you had a diagnosis of severe mental illness and are doing better in life the diagnosis was in error because people with severe mental illness will be forever limited by their illness. ”
2. If you have a severe mental illness we know how to help you. That help requires the advanced knowledge and skill of a psychiatrist. His knowledge and decisions should count more than anyone else and attempts to limit that authority are ultimately harmful to the people he alone knows best how to help.
3. The “severely mentally ill” are victimized by a system which ignores their needs, often for the personal gain or agenda of those who work in the system especially “mental health advocates”. This is the conspiratorial leg of the theory. It explains why many of the ideas they have meet a lot of resistance. If they can make the conspiracy claim seem real they marginalize any criticism of their position. They identify the bogeyman and define the battle as a holy crusade to save the “severely mentally ill” from those that would ignore them and leave their needs unmet.
4. The “severely mentally ill” have no insight into their problems and thus for their own good need to be forced to accept the treatment they need by people who know better. Any reluctance, criticism, or refusal of the treatment provided them does not reflect their real thoughts or decisions they wish to make but is instead a symptom of their illness.
5. There is a real limit to how far they can expect to improve. There is no point in false hope and unrealistic claims and all the recovery stuff needs to be strongly tempered. Their disease is life long and chronic and they will always be dependent on the help they get from the system.
6. And finally the crown jewel. Severe mental illness makes them dangerous and we must protect ourselves. We have had many, many tragedies that could have been avoided if people had been forced to accept the treatment they needed.
The whole campaign for the Murphy Bill has been based in one way or another on the claim these ideas represent gospel truth and people who really cared needed to unite and push for the right thing to finally be done. Left unchallenged they will leave us with a Murphy Law.
Right now Murphy is in a tough spot. Virtually everyone of these pillars has been attacked and questioned and the path forward for his bill looks very difficult right now. But never, never underestimate Rep Murphy. He will not quietly leave. He will not bow and be a good loser. Become as literate as you can in explaining why it is such a horrendously bad idea. Hopefully organizing your ideas around these pillars will help you to do this. There are many posts on this blog that question each of these pillars but there are many other people who have also written on these ideas.
I hope this brief post is at least a little helpful.