Skip to comments.The Psychopathology of a Hoplophobe
Posted on 11/05/2012 4:47:39 AM PST by marktwain
When I read the October 27 Quote of the Day my first thought was physician heal thyself (right after somebody call the guys in the white coats!). Anyone who can equate the ownership of semi-automatic weapons with the abuse of children is obviously teetering on the edge. Little did I know just how out there the good doctor really is, though. The quote came from Ronald Piess, Why Psychiatrists Must Confront Gun-related Violence. And as I started reading the whole thing, it became obvious that Dr. Ron may have suffered what those in the head shrinking biz call a break with reality . . .
During my recent stay in Scotland, I had a most peculiar experience while walking through the streets of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling, late at night: I felt safe. This is a sensation I almost never have while walking in American cities of comparable size.
Its nice to know that you felt safe, Ron, but the fact of the matter is that (apart from homicide) the violent crime rate in Scotland is almost eleven times that of the U.S. According to the Scots own government website, there were [a]pproximately 220,000 violent crimes of assault or robbery committed in Scotland in 2011. So given that the population of Scotland is about 5.2 million, that gives us a violent crime rate of 4230.8/100K. Then we look to the FBIs Uniform Crime Report and find that in 2011 the US violent crime rate was 386.3/100K.
And this isnt exactly a new phenomenon either. As pointed out in a 2000 article by Paul Gallant, Joanne Eisen and Dave Kopel,
To the great consternation of British authorities concerned about tourism revenue, a June  CBS News report proclaimed Great Britain one of the most violent urban societies in the Western world. Declared Dan Rather: This summer, thousands of Americans will travel to Britain expecting a civilized island free from crime and ugliness [But now] the U.K. has a crime problem .worse than ours.
As the 12-steppers say, denial aint just a river in Egypt. But then Ron explains how his freedom from fear came to pass:
As my wife and I learned during our stay there, Scotland has a violent and bloody history, going back many centuries. And, to be sure, modern-day Scotsa remarkably friendly and civil peoplemust deal with crime, drugs, and violence, just as Americans do. But they do not worry much about gun-related violence.
And there you have it; a tenfold increase in his chance of being robbed, raped and beaten is just fine as long as there arent any of those horrible, nasty, evil guns involved. I know man is a rationalizing animal, but how in the name of all that is holy can you rationalize that?
At least the good doctor admits that headline grabbing mass shootings arent really an issue:
Why should psychiatrists care about firearms regulation? The reason that might first come to mindthe putative role of mental illness in several recent mass shootingsis actually the least important. (As I write, reports of a new mass shooting in Wisconsin are trickling in). Aurora, Colorado-type mass shootingshorrific though they areactually amount to a minuscule percentage of gun-related deaths in the US. There are more compelling reasons why psychiatrists should be involved in the gun control debate.
Thanks for that tidbit of honesty before drifting back off into la-la land.
First, psychiatrists are experts in assessing risk factors for suicide, and gun possession is a major risk factor for completed suicide.
No. No it isnt. The fact that people who are contemplating suicide often obtain firearms in order to carry out their plans is completely divorced from the root causes of suicide; primarily untreated depression. And as I have mentioned before and no doubt will again, while restricting access to firearms may reduce firearm suicide rates, study after study has shown that it does not affect overall suicide rates. Ron even goes on to prove my point.
One study of handgun possession in California found that, in the first week after the purchase of a handgun, the rate of firearms suicide among purchasers is about 57 times as high as the adjusted rate in the general population.
Ill give you a hint, Ron; the evil Dark Jedi mind-control power of the firearm had nothing to do with those suicide numbers. Once someone has makes up their mind to commit suicide, theyre gonna find a way to do it unless they get help.
The US has a firearm- suicide rate almost 6 times higher than comparison countries.
And the point is what exactly? Japan (which has insanely restrictive gun laws) has an overall suicide rate thats almost four times our firearm suicide rate. Or our non-firearm suicide rate for that matter. According to Wikipedia, Lithuania, South Korea, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Japan, Peoples Republic of China, Hungary, Sri Lanka, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia and Montenegro, Estonia, Belgium, Latvia, Moldova, Slovenia, Finland, Uruguay, South Africa, Poland, France, Croatia, Hong Kong, Suriname, New Zealand, Austria, Czech Republic, Sweden, Cuba, Bulgaria and Romania all have higher suicide rates than the US. And most have much stricter gun laws and less access to firearms than we do.
Ron restates his, um, argument against guns all kinds of ways, no doubt hoping we wont notice that:
1) Correlation does not equal causation
B} Guns, no matter how scary looking, cant make a healthy person commit suicide, and
III] Overall suicide rates are independent of means and method.
But then its time to riff on dangerousness and how easy access to guns in this country has led to higher homicide rates than any other high-income countries without ever addressing why the U.S. has significantly higher non-firearm related homicide rates. In other words even if you remove gun homicides from the statistics we still have a significantly higher homicide rate than these other countries which indicates that socio-economic and cultural factors are driving homicide rates in this country, not easy access to guns.
But then the Doc goes for a bridge too far. He finishes with the snide, after all, when was the last time you heard of a mass knifing? Well Ron, August 2, 2012 leaps to mind: Chinese teenager kills 8, injures 5 in knife attack. In fact (again according to Wikipedia) there have been a number of knife/cleaver/club attacks in schools in China in the last couple of years. Then there was the Osaka (Japan) school massacre which killed eight children and wounded 15 others in 2001, or the Akihabara massacre where, using a truck and a knife, a nut-job killed 7 and injured 8 people in a shopping arcade. Or the Santa Monica Farmers Market incident where (albeit accidentally) 10 people were killed and 63 injured by an out of control driver.
Again, though, since there were no scary guns involved such occurrences apparently pass beneath the notice of Dr. Ron. Oh, he also has some trenchant insights into the relationship of gun ownership, firearms laws, and violent crime in the US:
Of course, proving causal connections (vs mere associations) between gun regulations and violent crime rates is exceedingly difficult, given the multitude of confounding variables. Yet one myth that continues to be proffered by those who oppose any regulation of firearms is that gun ownership decreases crime rates and keeps people safe. In truth, there is little credible evidence to support these claims, and considerable evidence against them.
Apparently little credible evidence is hoplophobic shrink-speak for reams of data collected by Drs. Lott and Mustard correlating over a dozen factors showing more guns lead to less crime, which has been substantiated in 18 peer-reviewed studies while considerable evidence is a single peer-reviewed study coming from a pair of notoriously anti-gun researchers.
Of course, laws have other purposes, beyond the expectation that they will actually reduce or prevent a specific injurious or antisocial act. Laws also represent societys moral values, and our intention to set limits on certain types of behavior. Laws may also reflect societys wish to reduce the likelihood of certain types of injurious behavior, even while realizing that this wish may not be fulfilled. There are, of course, always people with evil intentions who will ignore the lawbut that is no reason to omit or expunge the law.
It may come as a surprise to some of my regular readers, but I am actually in favor of laws which punish injurious behavior, as long as the injury is to another (injure yourself all you want). Where I draw the line is when laws are passed in an attempt to prevent bad behavior. These mala prohibita laws, (Latin for bad because I say so) as opposed to mala in se (bad in and of itself) And just because a law represents societys moral values doesnt make it a good one (look up anti-miscegenation laws sometime).
The point of mala prohibita laws is not to punish bad behavior but to try and prevent it which is why what Dr. Ron says next is really kooky:
Similarly, even if we could not demonstrate that laws banning production and private ownership of rapid-fire, semi-automatic weapons actually reduced mass shootings, a civilized society would still have sound ethical reasons for retaining these laws. That is, these laws legitimately reflect societys value judgment that no good will come from the possession of such destructive weapons by private citizensand that much harm may ensue.
Setting aside the fact that the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right, what Pies is saying is that even with proof that these laws are useless (like statistics showing that in 2010 twice as many people were beaten to death with fists than were killed with any sort of rifle assault or not) its still good to have them because it makes people feel good.
So in Dr. Pies orange-skied world, rights dont matter, facts are inconsequential and reality is a trifle as long as people feel good about their laws. And they call us nuts.
Leftists have different assumptions about reality than we do.
The DSM is in its 4th edition now; Still no mention of hoplophobia.
It seems the DSM has become more political over the years. Wasn’t there an attempt, recently, to remove pedophilia from the DSM?
Yep. I went to a DSM website, typed ‘hoplophobia’ in the search, and got ‘No results found. Did you mean homophobia?’
The simple fact is that it is the shrink community who refuse to report the people who are truly a risk.
They are NOT the folks who need to know who owns weapons!
hoplophobia - fear of guns
Those who suffer from it are never going to document it as a problem. A person has to first admit that a problem exists before it can ever be cured. There’s a principle of psychology involved there, if I remember correctly.....
Yeah. Coined by Jeff Cooper.
While the article is a good one, the author misses a very important point in its title: the “psychopathology” of Ronald Pies.
Describing what a mentally ill person does or thinks may be descriptive of what their psychopathology is, but it does not specify the root causes, what their actual mental illness might be. And this would be illuminating especially in this case.
That is, Ronald Pies has a mental problem, but what kind of mental problem does he have? Here are some possibilities that should be considered for those who are rabid gun controllers:
Hoplophobia, the fear of firearms, is nonspecific, a “general” fear of a complex thing, like a “fear of machines”. Cars as well as inclined planes?
In truth the phobia is probably a subset of hoplophobia: fear of particular kinds of firearm, fear of unexpected acute noises, fear of firearms users, fear of loss of personal control in a situation, fear of a loss of authoritative (government) control, fear of a particular kind (race, gender usually) of person being armed, etc.
However, by his statements, some interesting guesses can be made.
His feelings of safety in Scotland, a much more per capita violent place, strongly reminded me of David Bowie’s (slightly NSFW) song, “I’m Afraid of Americans”.
Please notice the repeated use of handgun imagery in the video, people acting like they are shooting handguns with their fingers.
Likely this is not a psychopathology, a real mental illness, but a “sociopathology”. That is, people who are raised and trained to fear something. For example, Muslims who have never met a Jew, but have been raised and trained to hate and fear them. Or Europeans who are raised and trained to hate and fear firearms.
Importantly, sociopathology is dependent on its target being indeterminate and nebulous. If a sociopath is exposed to their target in a non-threatening and repeated manner, having to interact with it, they often lose much of their fear, and their hatred takes other, less direct forms. (Only young sociopaths have any chance to recover by losing their fear and hate, unfortunately.)
Moving back to psychopathology, however, it would be very interesting to measure Ronald Pies’ reactions to different kinds of people having guns.
While most people in the US would have a learned fear response to seeing particular people being armed: young males, minorities, dressed like street thugs, in a group, in an unfamiliar and run-down place; he would likely have a strong fear response to many more people being armed. Women, Tea Party people, polite people in business clothes in a familiar environment, etc.
People not inclined to aggressive or criminal gun violence would still elicit a strong negative response from him. And he could not help himself.
Another element in consideration are people who are psychologically entirely dependent on others, like the government, and are terrified by a lack of governmental control. They are very comfortable with a heavily armed government, but see any lack of submission as dangerous and menacing, or antisocial.
Another are people with strong inferiority complexes, who conceal this fear with arrogant, egotistical controlling behavior, wanting to have total control over everything in their environment, especially people. Some other person being armed likely brings out their concealed inferiority complex in spades.
Perhaps the oddest group are those who are deeply frightened of loud, unexpected noises. It is called “phonophobia”. They are not afraid of the gun, or the bullet, or the person, but as soon as they see the gun they are terrified, because it “might” go off, making an unexpected noise. One could get a similar response from then by inflating a balloon, and showing them a hatpin.