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Mundus vult decipi: the world wants to be deceived. The truth is too complex and frightening; the taste for the truth is an acquired taste that few people acquire.

Not all deceptions are palatable. Untruths are too easy to come by, too quickly exploded, too cheap and ephemeral to give lasting comfort. Mundus vult decipi; but there is a hierarchy of deceptions.

On a higher level we find fictions that men eagerly believe, regardless of the evidence, because they gratify some wish.

Near the top of the ladder we encounter curious mixtures of untruth and truth that exert a lasting fascination on the intellectual community.

What cannot, on the face of it, be wholly true, although it is plain that there is some truth in it, evokes more discussion and dispute, divergent exegesis and attempts at emendations than what has been stated very carefully, without exaggeration or onesidedness.

Mundus vult decipi: The world winks at dishonesty. The world does not call it dishonesty.

Once a few respected men have fortified a brazen claim with their prestige, it becomes a cliché that gets repeated endlessly as if it were self-evident. Any protest is regarded as a heresy that shows how those who utter it do not belong: arguments are not met on their merits; instead one rehearses a few illustrious names and possibly deigns to contrast them with some horrible examples.

I And You: A Prologue
Walter Kaufman

Having read the report: The Current Status of Mental Health in Schools: A policy and Practice Analysis (3/2006), I find it difficult not to express concerns. The Center for Mental Health in Schools, authors of the report are good, caring and bright people. However, their thinking flawed, distorted by their perspective – and this is epitomized by it very name of the organization. The term ‘mental health’ is a euphemism that is a cohort of the euphemism ‘mental illness’. This belies the fundamental assumption of the ‘mental health’ system about atypical behavior that because of its distorted perspective has led to half a century of failure and continued preparation of psychologically distressed people, many of whom seek relief in drugs. These failures have been repeatedly documented in national studies over that time period , but unfortunately, none of the reports cites the real reason for the failure. Mundus vult decipi!

The worst part is that the Center is recommending to “enhance policy and practice in ways that directly connect various mental health agenda with the mission of schools”. It is not sufficient, it seems, that the destructive outcomes of a failed system are out in the community, we are now encouraging infection of children in our schools. It is time to STOP this nonsense.

There is no ‘mental illness’ and the assumption that there is has caused misery for uncountable numbers of people. This does not imply that there are not psychological problems, however, some of them quite serious. But there is no disease, chemistry or genetics that ‘cause’ these problems – the only toxic concern is the system charged with addressing these psychological issues. The worst of it is that many of the practitioners seem to believe that what they are doing is helpful and many clients have learned and avidly believe that they are helpless. The messages sent by this ‘expert’ system are disastrous to the population at large and children are particularly vulnerable.

There are some logical considerations that must be examined if one is to attempt to intervene in the psychological status of our children.

First, one must determine what is the fundamental assumption that the ‘helpers’ holds concerning atypical behavior.

Second, one must examine closely the policy framework of system – what is outcome intent of intervention?

Finally, one must examine closely the reward mechanisms of the system to determine what gets rewarded – for what gets rewarded, gets done.

The present system fails in all three of these principles: they believe in a myth, the propagate helplessness, and they reward longevity of discomfort. It is time to address the failures, not simply do more of the same.

Schools can address the social and psychological needs of their students effectively only by abandoning failed methods and addressing the issues coherently. Of the nine or ten major national reports, only the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health report: Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America, gives a clue to what is actually going on – with its reference to evidence-based interventions. However, to indicate the insidious nature of the problem, the sentence fully reads: In a transformed mental health system, consistent use of evidence-based, state-of-the-art medications and psychotherapies will be standard practice throughout the mental health system. Someone please point out that the ‘emperor has no clothes’! There are no evidence based medications or psychotherapies – unless one includes cognitive behavior management as a psychotherapy – which it definitely is not. The drugs are toxic, send the wrong message and divert the client from actual help. The ‘so-called’ psychotherapies are a failed system of supposition started by Freud and ending in morass. The cognitive behavior interventions are of an entirely different order – based on learning theory and non-medical in nature.

Cognitive behavior management is evidence based – meaning that it has been tested in clinical laboratories and been found to have a effect size that is significant. While it is true that these have not been effectively tested in the field, this is partially because of the drug cartel and partially because the ‘mental illness’ euphemism is ‘common knowledge’ – Consensus ominium – What everyone believes is true [Aristotle].

The fundamental assumption of ‘mental health’ is pathology. The fundamental assumption of cognitive behavior management is that ‘people are the sum total of what they think’ and they will not change until they change the way they think. The constant barrage of negative self-reflection caused by the ‘mental health’ system and its corollary of ‘you will only feel good taking drugs’ is an anathema to growing children. A further flaw in thinking that grows out of this distorted assumption of pathology is the inability to create prevention programs because we don’t know what the pathology is, and cannot, therefore, immunize the population. As a result, we have ‘early identification’ or early labeling which begins the traumatizing process. Reuvan Feuerstein has articulated the difficulties caused by the extension of the early detection model to what he refers to areas related to the psychological, mental and developmental conditions of the individual [which] creates a large number of questions as to the nature of the effects that early detection may have. He then indicates two risks caused by medical model early detection in social arenas: first the tendency to over-attribute the meaning of certain signs, and second, deciding on the basis of developmental milestones which, as he points out, are malleable. The dangerous resulting response is to psychologically support the catastrophic nature of the presumed ‘illness’ and ignore the strengths that are there even if the malady is also present. He specifically discusses the responses to Down’s syndrome babies and how the responses firm up the disability and reduce malleability. Such is the nature of the ‘medical model’. The attributions of ‘unable to control his/her own behavior’, ‘will never get better’, ‘will always need to take drugs’, is unable to take responsibility for him or herself are a plague on society – becoming ‘self-fulfilling prophecies believed by the parents, the teachers, the clinicians, and worse, but the person himself.

Shall we duplicate these substantial efforts in the schools – I THINK NOT. We agree that schools have the opportunity to substantially reduce the degree of psychological problems in the society and potentially break the cycle of psychologically distressed children becoming psychologically distressed parents who raise psychologically distressed children. Schools are a valued setting with professional people overseeing the child management process. They have a universal population that can be addressed and can target children who manifest problems. However, this endeavor must be coherent with the nature of schools, not a medical practice. There is a fundamental difference between the practice of medicine and the practice of psychology and they evolved from two different traditions . “Real psychological diagnosis, therefore, is not the naming of the disorder, it’s the naming of the ‘Why’ of the disorder.” The ‘Why’ then becomes the basis for the intervention. Psychologists have also directed themselves toward the evidence that supports their use of an intervention as opposed to the speculations of Freud and following psychiatrists.

Schools are educational systems that have as reported by the Center ‘a primary thrust of improving instruction and school management’. It would seem that that both of these interests are amenable to dealing with psychological issues. For the first, there is ample evidence that social emotional learning for social competence improves attendance and learning. For the second, social competence is documented to reduce behavior problems, substance abuse and improve social intercourse. But these demonstrated endeavors are not the result of medical intervention. They are the result of an entirely different order of interventions that are primarily concerned with ‘messages’ and skill development. The messages are attributionally focused on personal responsibility and competence, not victimization and helplessness. The messages give hope and the skills provide opportunity. Since, unlike its medical counterpart, cognitive behavior management has no rationale for coercion, individuals choose to improve their way of life and exercise their right to grow and develop. The philosophy of service over control is re-established.

The fact is, however, that we are on the brink of losing this most promising future. The drug cartel will not take lightly to the collapse of the ‘Mental Health’ system for huge sums of money will drain away from them if this were to occur. Further the agents of the drug cartel are well entrenched in the ‘mental health’ system by law and regulation and will demand to be recognized as ‘experts’. We are poised for a great change in America. We cannot afford to allow the leaders of a failed system to regain control. End the ‘brazen claim with their prestige’ and the ‘cliché that gets repeated endlessly as if it were self-evident’ – SAVE THE CHILDREN!

Mundus vult decipi