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(NBC News)   Psychiatrist of the Colorado shooter warned his university about his murderous fantasies weeks before the shooting. University's response: "oh well we don't need to do anything cuz he's dropping out anyway"   (usnews.nbcnews.com) divider line 251
    More: Asinine, Colorado, Columbine High School, gag orders, magic, psychiatrists  
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10933 clicks; posted to Main » on 02 Aug 2012 at 10:00 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-08-02 01:09:06 PM  

BarkingUnicorn: Aunt Crabby: BarkingUnicorn: Aunt Crabby: Can someone explain how the university became the middle man here?

By establishing a threat-assessment procedure and then deliberately deciding not to use it.

How is the university threat assessment process on campus extended to the duty to police all of their students in every situation? I haven't read their policies, but I would guess the threat assessment is limited to threats to the university and not the public at large. Protecting the word in general is beyond the scope of their authority. Since there was no illegal act on campus there was nothing for the university to report. It is the therapist who had a legal duty to protect, so she should have told the police and not just the university. I think the duty still lies with the therapist unless threat assessment was part of a clinical service.

The school has a duty to do what it says it's going to do: assemble the threat-assessment team and assess the threat.

Colorado law required Fenton to report to law enforcement "a serious threat of imminent physical violence against a specific third party." I assume whatever "alarmed" Fenton did not meet that standard.

I also believe that standard is too high.


If he didn't meet the standard for telling the police (something which was not clear to me from the article), how could she break confidentiality by telling the university? If it is serious enough to break patient confidentiality, then it is serious enough to tell the police. As I understand it, the standard is the same.


I looked up the threat assessment team ("BETA") on the university web site. Link It states the purpose of the team is to "provide resources and information to faculty, staff or student community members who are confronted with individuals who may be threatening, disruptive, or otherwise problematic. The Team provides guidance and consultation and may make referrals to appropriate campus or community resources." They make no promise of assessing all potential threats nor to police students or reporting to the police. They state, "The BETA is not an administrative, treatment, or disciplinary body. The Team's purpose is to provide support, information and referrals to those dealing with threatening or disruptive situations." If a student drops out, he is not going to be disrupting class, and I doubt a referral to more campus resources would have helped him.

It's bad policy to punish universities for trying to provide resources and help keep campuses safe simply because they may chose to focus on cases involving people who will be staying at the university. If police can pick and choose which leads to follow, a team made up of various academics and assorted interested parties can choose when to gather more information for potential referrals to campus resources and when it does not concern the university. If he had actually threatened a someone associated with the university, they may have acted differently (at least that's what I gather from their web site).
 
2012-08-02 01:15:41 PM  

angrycrank: In hindsight it's easy to say she should have warned people. But the flip side is that if psychiatrists are too quick to report people who talk about less clear threats - general fantasies of violence without a specific plan, for example - it can deter people with such fantasies from talking about them with a professional and getting the help they need before they get to the point where they make concrete decisions to put plans in place.


This is true. However, I don't see how she could break confidentiality to tell the university if she didn't meet the standard you explained (thank you for that). Honestly, I am not out for her blood, but if anyone had a duty it was her, and not the university.
 
2012-08-02 01:24:11 PM  

ricochet4: tgambitg: vpb:
1. "A well regulated militia"

10 USC § 311 - Militia: composition and classes
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are-
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

This regulation defines militia.

so by citing this section of the USC, what you're saying here is, if you're over 45 and not in the organized militia (national guard, naval militia), you have no constitutional right to own a gun?


Keep reading the rest, being in the Militia is not a requirement for owning a gun. Nowhere in the amendment does it say that being in a militia is required. It's what's considered a descriptive modifier, not a constraint.
 
2012-08-02 01:34:53 PM  

Aunt Crabby: angrycrank: In hindsight it's easy to say she should have warned people. But the flip side is that if psychiatrists are too quick to report people who talk about less clear threats - general fantasies of violence without a specific plan, for example - it can deter people with such fantasies from talking about them with a professional and getting the help they need before they get to the point where they make concrete decisions to put plans in place.

This is true. However, I don't see how she could break confidentiality to tell the university if she didn't meet the standard you explained (thank you for that). Honestly, I am not out for her blood, but if anyone had a duty it was her, and not the university.


I'm not sure that the therapist or the university believed that the student met the legal standard of harm to others, and as I read the information you posted about the university's BETA team, I don't think they would have necessarily found a threat either. It depends on information we don't have. The info in your post about the BETA program reads, "...confronted with individuals who may be threatening, disruptive, or otherwise problematic." That's really broad. "Problematic" or "disruptive situations" could mean anything, really. For instance, maybe he was distraught over his inability to perform the work in the PhD program. What direction would his life go in if he couldn't hack it? Maybe the therapist wanted a little backup to help her guide him out of a tough spot. We simply don't know what he said. Maybe it was threatening, maybe it wasn't. But it doesn't seem that the BETA team is simply a group of professionals that weigh whether or not to go to the police. It sounds like they can be called for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with legal concerns.

I'm sure we'll learn a lot more about the nature of the therapist's concerns when it goes to trial.
 
2012-08-02 01:48:27 PM  

bluefelix: Happy Hours: DoBeDoBeDo: Happy Hours: DoBeDoBeDo: You do realize that in most states the mentally ill ARE barred from purchasing or owning firearms right?

We see this problem all the time when people bring up the insanity defense. Holmes was clearly insane (at least from a layperson's point of view), but it's doubtful that he would meet the criteria for being found not guilty by reason of insanity.


That's a good point. He was obviously mentally ill, but what has to happen for him to prove he was insane the whole time he planned this?


There is no chance for that. AFAIK the litmus test for insanity is you couldn't determine right from wrong at the time. I'm thinking if you booby trap your apartment and set your radio to go off so people would come to check on it thus blowing up all the evidence.......you KNEW right from wrong. Doesn't mean you aren't loony as hell just that you knew you were about to do something bad and wanted to cover your tracks.
 
2012-08-02 02:01:32 PM  

LL316: HotWingConspiracy: GoldSpider: But by all means, keep telling yourself it's the guns' fault.

It's actually the access to guns.

It's actually the desire to commit murder.


If your claim is accurate, then why did murder never occur until firearms were available to civilians?
 
2012-08-02 02:12:15 PM  

DoBeDoBeDo: You do realize that in most states the mentally ill ARE barred from purchasing or owning firearms right? That's one of the things the background checks are done for. The question is more how do we fix the reporting structures so that (like in the case of the VA Tech Shooter) the information actually gets put in the database, and determine where the line is drawn between mentally ill that will kill someone and mentally ill that just needs Paxil.


Shouldn't be a difference ... if you have psychological problems, no gun for you. The armed forced of this country exclude people exceedingly well. Just take the military's view on pysch diagnoses and apply it to the general public.
 
2012-08-02 02:25:14 PM  

DoBeDoBeDo: There is no chance for that. AFAIK the litmus test for insanity is you couldn't determine right from wrong at the time. I'm thinking if you booby trap your apartment and set your radio to go off so people would come to check on it thus blowing up all the evidence.......you KNEW right from wrong. Doesn't mean you aren't loony as hell just that you knew you were about to do something bad and wanted to cover your tracks.


I've always thought that argument is a bit of a cop-out. Even if you think Bob down the street is a space lizard who has come to Earth to corrupt humanity's precious bodily fluids, that does not preclude thinking that the local police don't know that or are in on it and will come after you if you interfere with his devious plans.
 
2012-08-02 02:32:01 PM  
Our university admin said they are not allowed to disclose that information. HIPPA or something like that. Regardless of the circumstances and public safety they are not required...or maybe not permitted to divulge the mental health status of a student. Yes. We're concerned about this...
 
2012-08-02 02:36:14 PM  
"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
-- George Bernard Shaw

This quotation is one of my touchstones. GBS said a number of very wise and clever things (and a few ludicrous things).

In my work, communication is very important and constantly failing for all the reasons which communications can fail:

1. Not my job. Yes, yes it is your job. Your idea of your job is faulty, but it includes going the extra distance to ensure that things work. People get into bad habits, such as gradually losing track of things, including what is and isn't in their job description.

2. Somebody else's problem now. If the problem is bad enough, it is never somebody else's problem. You should be on top of it even when your official duty is done.

3. It sits on somebody's desk. We expect too much of other people (honesty, competence, sanity, hard work, etc.) but unless we follow up effectively to confirm that communication has occurred, the information that needs to pass fails to pass. Communication, like common sense, is not all that common, and for the same reasons: laziness, stupidity, haste, lack of communication and random chance, such as somebody being out of the office, forgetting to check their emails every 2.1 seconds all day long, etc.

4. What are the odds? If something seems remote and unlikely, it is just ignored. This is the Black Swan phenomenon in a trivial form. People think because things are normal, that they will remain normal. But in reality, you are not dealing with normalcy in either the mathematical or the practical sense: the very rare but disastrous event must be prepared for, or else, when it happens, you are one of the 80% of people who can't cope or the 15-20% of people who actively make things worse. Only a small percentage, somewhere between 5% and 0% of people, can cope with a Black Swan because they have planned, practiced and prepared.

These and other problems explain most failures to communicate and thus most failures of the system. People are lazy, stupid and ignorant above and beyond our normal perceptions. They seem to be competent because they tell us they are competent and within normal ranges of expectations, get the job done, but in reality, most people are clueless outside of their always shrinking comfort zone of habit and careful instructions about what to do in normal situations.

This is why training is so worthless: 1) you don't pay attention; 2) you forget immediately, even as you learn; and 3), the worst of them all, you learn only how to do things right. You don't learn how things can go wrong and what to do when they do go wrong, inevitably, about the next day after taking the course.

I have gone through Hell because of my own failure to communicate or other people's failure to communicate, so I know these lessons well. Doesn't help to make it any easier, but at least you know what everything went to Hades in a hand cart.
 
2012-08-02 02:36:32 PM  

bluefelix: Aunt Crabby: angrycrank: In hindsight it's easy to say she should have warned people. But the flip side is that if psychiatrists are too quick to report people who talk about less clear threats - general fantasies of violence without a specific plan, for example - it can deter people with such fantasies from talking about them with a professional and getting the help they need before they get to the point where they make concrete decisions to put plans in place.

This is true. However, I don't see how she could break confidentiality to tell the university if she didn't meet the standard you explained (thank you for that). Honestly, I am not out for her blood, but if anyone had a duty it was her, and not the university.

I'm not sure that the therapist or the university believed that the student met the legal standard of harm to others, and as I read the information you posted about the university's BETA team, I don't think they would have necessarily found a threat either. It depends on information we don't have. The info in your post about the BETA program reads, "...confronted with individuals who may be threatening, disruptive, or otherwise problematic." That's really broad. "Problematic" or "disruptive situations" could mean anything, really. For instance, maybe he was distraught over his inability to perform the work in the PhD program. What direction would his life go in if he couldn't hack it? Maybe the therapist wanted a little backup to help her guide him out of a tough spot. We simply don't know what he said. Maybe it was threatening, maybe it wasn't. But it doesn't seem that the BETA team is simply a group of professionals that weigh whether or not to go to the police. It sounds like they can be called for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with legal concerns.

I'm sure we'll learn a lot more about the nature of the therapist's concerns when it goes to trial.


EXACTLY. The standards for reporting to the BETA team appear to be far less narrow than those that apply to duty to protect. And it's not clear at all what specifically she said and to whom, plus there's a good chance that the agreements signed by students who are users of the counselling service allow for limited disclosure to the BETA team under very specific circumstances. She may not have said anything to them that would constitute a breach of confidentiality. But all this is speculation - I'd wait to find out more details before we either string up OR exonerate the psychiatrist or the university.
 
2012-08-02 02:38:49 PM  

bluefelix: Aunt Crabby: angrycrank: I

I'm not sure that the therapist or the university believed that the student met the legal standard of harm to others, and as I read the information you posted about the university's BETA team, I don't think they would have necessarily found a threat either. It depends on information we don't have. The info in your post about the BETA program reads, "...confronted with individuals who may be threatening, disruptive, or otherwise problematic." That's really broad. "Problematic" or "disruptive situations" could mean anything, really. For instance, maybe he was distraught over his inability to perform the work in the PhD program. What direction would his life go in if he couldn't hack it? Maybe the therapist wanted a little backup to help her guide him out of a tough spot. We simply don't know what he said. Maybe it was threatening, maybe it wasn't. But it doesn't seem that the BETA team is simply a group of professionals that weigh whether or not to go to the police. It sounds like they can be called for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with legal concerns.

I'm sure we'll learn a lot more about the nature of the therapist's concerns when it goes to trial.



At this point, I think I am more concerned about the confidentiality issue. If the therapist didn't think the situation met the legal standard for reporting it, then confidentiality should have prevented her from going to BETA. I don't see how she could have justified giving his name and details to BETA if the situation didn't meet the standard for duty to protect. If she didn't have a duty to protect, and no one sues her for breaching confidentiality, then I doubt we'll ever know more about what happened in therapy.

If a therapist wants back up, he or she should go to the professional treatment team where they work or other professionals associated with their practice. Failing that, he or she should contact another more experienced mental health professional or professional mentor for advice (without breaking confidentiality). I suppose BETA could have referred the therapist to other resources if she felt threatened, but I would hope she knew about those resources already. It really doesn't sound like the kind of situation BETA describes on its webpage, so I wonder why she risked breaking confidentiality to report him to them.

I agree that BETA looks like a sort of multidisciplinary university support committee and its mission does not involve policing. It sounds to me like they gather information and sometimes make referrals to campus resources. He was already in therapy. If they had investigated, what further referrals would they make? Peer mentoring? The next exciting Writing Center seminar?
 
2012-08-02 02:47:02 PM  

ChipNASA: OK so serious question....

Next time I go out with the wife for sushi, do you think I'd cause a commotion .....stay with me here.....(visualize this) .. If I stand up and then unzip and then pull out my wang and slap it on the table and grab a *huge* pinch of nice creamy wasabi....and while stroking my manhood to make the insertion easier....take my meat missile and then start stuffing great gobs of green spicy condiment in my stretched open pee hole..... Maybe if I brought an industrial Q-Tip to facilitate insertion.....much like loading black powder and shot in to a cannon and then ramming it home.

do you think I'd cause a commotion??


It's little known here that in Japan, that's actually a ceremony meant to bring great honor to the chef. The Japanese don't have the same body issues as we do here, so no one there is surprised to see a diner's wang. Although fellow restaurant patrons might gasp, you can be assured that all the Japanese staff will smile knowingly and bow. The chef may shed a tear of gratitude.
 
2012-08-02 02:51:41 PM  

Aunt Crabby: It's bad policy to punish universities for trying to provide resources and help keep campuses safe simply because they may chose to focus on cases involving people who will be staying at the university.


it's moronic policy to suggest that their duty to warn the greater community is discharged as long as the threat is no longer enrolled in the program. you are creating really stupid incentives at that point.
 
2012-08-02 02:53:47 PM  

seadoo2006: DoBeDoBeDo: You do realize that in most states the mentally ill ARE barred from purchasing or owning firearms right? That's one of the things the background checks are done for. The question is more how do we fix the reporting structures so that (like in the case of the VA Tech Shooter) the information actually gets put in the database, and determine where the line is drawn between mentally ill that will kill someone and mentally ill that just needs Paxil.

Shouldn't be a difference ... if you have psychological problems, no gun for you. The armed forced of this country exclude people exceedingly well. Just take the military's view on pysch diagnoses and apply it to the general public.


My past use of Ritalin is not a compelling state interest to curtail my rights as protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
 
2012-08-02 02:55:28 PM  

Nem Wan: I'm very liberal but people who are using this case to push new gun laws are an embarrassment. Passing laws because of crazy people is like requiring all walls be padded.


Or is it like having bollards along dangerous curves? We all have a lot of laws specifically addressing the treatment of crazy people. What medications to give them, where they can live, when they have to be examined by psychiatrists, when they have to be released by the mental hospital unless they voluntarily check themselves in, etc. We lock some of them up and throw away the key, and force many of them out onto the street without proper follow-up to ensure they can live, let alone take their medication regularly.

Preventing crazy people or people at high risk of offending in a violent way is no different from putting up a snow fence when winter comes. It's a pain in the ass for the type of people who like to strike out across country on skies or snowshoes or snowmobiles (all legitimate sporting activities and fairly healthy, except for the snowmobiles) but there because it is more important to keep the roads passable than the cow pastures passable for sportsmen.

The liberal John Stuart Mill argued that your right to swing your fist ends at my face, and that smokers and non-smokers can not be equally free in a closed railway compartment--the rights of one will have to give way to the other. The conservative Thomas Hobbes argued that you give up your rights to Leviathan (a corporate entity, called Society or the State) in exchange for protection for those rights which remain and for protection generally.

In short, a policed society, as opposed to anarchy of the right or left wing variety (or a more centrists libertarian anarchy) restricts some of your rights for the sake of other rights which are deemed more important.

You have a right to health care, then you don't have a right to choose your medicine or doctor based solely on ability to pay. Money rationing or some other form of rationing is necesssary because the supply of expensive treatments and medicines is not infinite and the cost is not small.

If you have an absolute, unlimited right to weapons regardless of form, purpose, quantity, quality, expense, power, etc., then you have no right to be safe, because everybody else can out-gun you, always, even if you are a ridiculous hoarder of weapons and ammo.

The US system is absurd, but more or less works. The Feds, the States, local communities, well-meaning busibodies, non-government organizations, lawyers, doctors and manufacturers all lobby constantly, at tremendous expense, but a sort of equilibrium is maintained which means the USA is neither the best nor the worst gun-owning nation in the world. Proportionate to your population and arms supply, you're doing OK, perhaps even well, but proportionate to your population and what other countries with stricter controls do, you are doing fairly badly, third world badly. And you're the only one. All the other wealthy and liberal democratic nations have lower gun death rates and fewer accidents. Most have fewer suicides and certainly fewer gun-based suicides.

You have a choice between many different policies but you choose neither the best nor the worst because powers are divided and the parts of the system work against each other constantly.
 
2012-08-02 03:01:35 PM  

relcec: Aunt Crabby: It's bad policy to punish universities for trying to provide resources and help keep campuses safe simply because they may chose to focus on cases involving people who will be staying at the university.

it's moronic policy to suggest that their duty to warn the greater community is discharged as long as the threat is no longer enrolled in the program. you are creating really stupid incentives at that point.


What makes you think the university had a duty to warn in this case? If anyone had a duty to protect (which is a bit more than warn) it was the therapist. The university does not have a generally duty to assess all students for potential threats to the world at large, even if they set up a support committee that may gather information and make referrals to campus programs. Some vague "report" of a student to such a committee does not trigger a duty to investigate, assess, warn or protect. If you set a precedent that offing services to the university community makes the university responsible for all student conduct everywhere for all time, then universities will simply stop such services.
 
2012-08-02 03:11:54 PM  

Aunt Crabby: relcec: Aunt Crabby: It's bad policy to punish universities for trying to provide resources and help keep campuses safe simply because they may chose to focus on cases involving people who will be staying at the university.

it's moronic policy to suggest that their duty to warn the greater community is discharged as long as the threat is no longer enrolled in the program. you are creating really stupid incentives at that point.

What makes you think the university had a duty to warn in this case? If anyone had a duty to protect (which is a bit more than warn) it was the therapist.
The university does not have a generally duty to assess all students for potential threats to the world at large, even if they set up a support committee that may gather information and make referrals to campus programs. Some vague "report" of a student to such a committee does not trigger a duty to investigate, assess, warn or protect. If you set a precedent that offing services to the university community makes the university responsible for all student conduct everywhere for all time, then universities will simply stop such services.


a little something called respondeat superior.
the university is vicariously liable for the torts of its employees committed during the ordinary scope of employment and so if the likely victims were reasonably identifiable then the torts of the therapist will be imputed to the university as long as the therapist cannot be said to have been an independent contractor (which appears doubtful).
 
2012-08-02 03:13:22 PM  
and the idea that it would be good policy to let organizations off the hook as long as they first ensured the potential threat was no longer allowed back on campus is absolutely absurd.
 
2012-08-02 03:16:47 PM  
you could argue the victims were not identifiable, even though wee don;t have enough facts really.

but you just look like you are willing to sink to any depth to protect your cherished governmental organization when you argue that universities have no duty at all to the greater community they participate in.
 
2012-08-02 03:18:49 PM  

PsiChi: "Twenty-one Questions You Will Not Hear Asked About the Dark Knight Movie Massacre," by Kazi Kearse, a therapist from New York: Link


That post actually removed information from my brain as I read it. That has to be about the dumbest thing I've seen in months. If anyone deserves a psychiatric screening, it's the guy who typed that screed.
 
2012-08-02 03:23:06 PM  

angrycrank: there's a good chance that the agreements signed by students who are users of the counselling service allow for limited disclosure to the BETA team under very specific circumstances. She may not have said anything to them that would constitute a breach of confidentiality


There is a lot of speculation, however I would be extremely surprised if mental health services made all students sign a waiver of confidentiality, especially to give information to a general university committee that does nothing more than investigate man maybe make referrals to campus services. At most, there may be something that allows information to go to an insurance company for billing purposes. I realize standards vary depending on the state, but ethical therapist do not even mention who their clients may be.

I agree that we are missing information. As I said, I'm not out to get the therapist, but I do find it odd that she could "report" him if there was no duty to protect triggered. As a general practice, I would think students receiving mental health services have confidentiality unless a legal exception such as duty to protect applies.
 
2012-08-02 03:42:37 PM  
So... let me just get this straight:

Someone was given information about an individual committing a heinous crime
This person notified authorities about said individual's plans.
The authorities did nothing, and the heinous crime was allowed to continue.

And yet the masses aren't calling for this person who notified authorities to be drawn and quartered...

Funny how it's so much worse when the name "Joe Paterno" is involved, isn't it? At least nobody was killed by Sandusky.

/It's because of JoePa that I could go to college, so fark off, haters.
//Paternoville still has a population of at least 1.
 
2012-08-02 03:46:04 PM  

mister aj: Universities that fail to act on vague rumours of serious criminal activity should have the death penalty applied to their athletics program.


Cry Pedo, cry.
 
2012-08-02 03:50:04 PM  

relcec: Aunt Crabby: relcec: Aunt Crabby: It's bad policy to punish universities for trying to provide resources and help keep campuses safe simply because they may chose to focus on cases involving people who will be staying at the university.

it's moronic policy to suggest that their duty to warn the greater community is discharged as long as the threat is no longer enrolled in the program. you are creating really stupid incentives at that point.

What makes you think the university had a duty to warn in this case? If anyone had a duty to protect (which is a bit more than warn) it was the therapist. The university does not have a generally duty to assess all students for potential threats to the world at large, even if they set up a support committee that may gather information and make referrals to campus programs. Some vague "report" of a student to such a committee does not trigger a duty to investigate, assess, warn or protect. If you set a precedent that offing services to the university community makes the university responsible for all student conduct everywhere for all time, then universities will simply stop such services.

a little something called respondeat superior.
the university is vicariously liable for the torts of its employees committed during the ordinary scope of employment and so if the likely victims were reasonably identifiable then the torts of the therapist will be imputed to the university as long as the therapist cannot be said to have been an independent contractor (which appears doubtful).


So you are saying the university has a duty because it employs the therapist and you believe a duty to protect was triggered by the situation? That would have nothing to do with the actions or inaction of BETA, which we have already established is a limited interdisciplinary university committee that does not involve mental health services or policing activities. By your argument, the duty would exist only if the the therapist had a duty to protect and you established that the university was her employer within the meaning of that doctrine and that she was acting (or not acting) with the scope of her duties instead of violating her employer's policy and breaking the law with regards to a duty to protect situation.
 
2012-08-02 03:54:16 PM  

Aunt Crabby: angrycrank: there's a good chance that the agreements signed by students who are users of the counselling service allow for limited disclosure to the BETA team under very specific circumstances. She may not have said anything to them that would constitute a breach of confidentiality

There is a lot of speculation, however I would be extremely surprised if mental health services made all students sign a waiver of confidentiality, especially to give information to a general university committee that does nothing more than investigate man maybe make referrals to campus services. At most, there may be something that allows information to go to an insurance company for billing purposes. I realize standards vary depending on the state, but ethical therapist do not even mention who their clients may be.

I agree that we are missing information. As I said, I'm not out to get the therapist, but I do find it odd that she could "report" him if there was no duty to protect triggered. As a general practice, I would think students receiving mental health services have confidentiality unless a legal exception such as duty to protect applies.


Yeah, too much speculation at this point. Since the BETA team does seem to include more than just clinical staff, there's probably no general waiver that allows disclosure of information to it. However, there are still myriad ways it could be permissible to disclose certain information to the committee without it rising to duty to warn requirements -including the possibility that the psychiatrist had Holmes' permission to go to the committee in an attempt to find resources to help him. When I supervised a university residence, we had students who would a) disclose their special needs to us, and b) give their counselors permission to tell specific people specific things in order to help us best support the student. We would similarly seek students' permission to disclose information to resources that might be helpful.
 
2012-08-02 04:00:30 PM  
It's interesting how people are suddenly mentioning their own DSM-IVR diagnoses. Why yes, according to that shrink you went to and that diagnosis, you are mentally ill. Depression, alcoholism, ADD, OCD, Borderline Personalities, Histrionic Personalities - these are all "mental diagnoses."

Now, how does the law handle this in real life? In real life, people who apply to get guns do not usually write on the application "Oh and I have a mental disorder." There's no crossover (yet) between that diagnosis (which no doubt your insurance company - or state health department - has in their files).

Will it have to be an Axis I diagnosis to get you disqualified from buying guns? Who knows? Will we ever make this connection between mental health and gun purchasing work out in a bureaucratic manner? Who knows?

At present, if you already own guns in states with laws prohibiting the mentally ill from buying guns, you're fine. Unless you are on probation for a crime and one of the terms of your probation is that you can't own guns, you can keep the guns you already own.

That's how it was explained to me at the Police Academy, anyway.
 
2012-08-02 04:03:51 PM  

angrycrank: I agree that we are missing information. As I said, I'm not out to get the therapist, but I do find it odd that she could "report" him if there was no duty to protect triggered. As a general practice, I would think students receiving mental health services have confidentiality unless a legal exception such as duty to protect applies.


Perhaps he frightened her directly, such as smashing something in her office or yellng at her. In that case it would appropriate to report it to her boss but not the police, as long as she didn't have any specific information that he was planning to harm her in the future.
 
2012-08-02 04:08:29 PM  

relcec: you could argue the victims were not identifiable, even though wee don;t have enough facts really.

but you just look like you are willing to sink to any depth to protect your cherished governmental organization when you argue that universities have no duty at all to the greater community they participate in.


In the US, we have no general legal duty to the community or others. This goes for universities and companies as well as individuals. As long as I am not breaking a law, I could see you drowning and refuse to throw you a life preserver or cal 911. Morally, it would be a shiatty thing to do, but there is no legal obligation. Legal duties arise from specific types or relationships and legal obligations.

To put it another way, it isn't the university's job to asses the mental health of its students or to protect the general community. It is the job of mental health professionals to assess clients' risk of harm to self or others, and the job of the police to protect the community. Frankly, I don't want universities to overreach their authority. They should stick to being universities.

BTW not all universities are government organizations. I think the police should police (under strict limits); universities should focus on research and education, and the duty to protect headache falls on mental health professionals.
 
2012-08-02 04:09:55 PM  
I've watched many 5150 proceedings (or been part of them - and no, not as the patient).

5150 is the California process by which someone gets reported to the police and can be placed on an involuntary hold for observation, due to being a danger to oneself or others, or unfit to care for oneself.

The psychiatrists I've seen need more than a thread - or a plan to threaten someone. What they need is the sort of thing that Holmes sent to his shrink - PLUS they need the patient to say that they actually have acquired the means to do the harm they intend. So, Holmes sent his plan to shoot people (and booby trap his apartment) to the shrink. The shrink should then ask Holmes if he has guns, ammo and bomb making materials. If the answer was yes, then she/he should have slapped a hold on him.

He did everything, from his side, to get himself put on a hold. He's practically a textbook example of someone who could be placed on involuntary hold (and perhaps on an extended hold after a hearing). The only thing he did wrong is trust the mail system.
 
2012-08-02 04:12:53 PM  

Aunt Crabby: BarkingUnicorn: Aunt Crabby: Can someone explain how the university became the middle man here?

By establishing a threat-assessment procedure and then deliberately deciding not to use it.

How is the university threat assessment process on campus extended to the duty to police all of their students in every situation? I haven't read their policies, but I would guess the threat assessment is limited to threats to the university and not the public at large. Protecting the word in general is beyond the scope of their authority. Since there was no illegal act on campus there was nothing for the university to report. It is the therapist who had a legal duty to protect, so she should have told the police and not just the university. I think the duty still lies with the therapist unless threat assessment was part of a clinical service.


I think the problem is the whole "told campus authorities" is the problem. By law it's what she should have done but as we've seen before universities can't handle it.

Anything beyond Academia should go straight to the local authorities. Campus admins should not be investigating claims of rape, sex abuse, violent crimes, threats, etc. The admins seem to only want to ignore or bury these issues so local authorities have to step in.

Timmy caught plagiarizing? - school can handle that
Timmy accused of rape? - cops
 
2012-08-02 04:16:52 PM  
The Psychiatrist had a larger duty. Although she reported it to the school. She should have had him hospitalized. Since he was a threat to PEOPLE. She could have done that. So she does actually have some responsibility for what occurred. Under her job description. She is suppose to keep crazy from killing itself or others. Her failure to do so is a huge problem.
 
2012-08-02 04:17:45 PM  

buckler: PsiChi: "Twenty-one Questions You Will Not Hear Asked About the Dark Knight Movie Massacre," by Kazi Kearse, a therapist from New York: Link

That post actually removed information from my brain as I read it. That has to be about the dumbest thing I've seen in months. If anyone deserves a psychiatric screening, it's the guy who typed that screed.


Would you have expected intelligent commentary in an editorial referenced by a birther?
 
2012-08-02 04:20:00 PM  
I have no problem with temporarily infringing on someone's second amendment rights if their psychiatrist thinks or even really gets a whiff that the person is dangerous. Take the guns until the person can be evaluated by a committee - gives a chance for rebuttal and explaination, keep the guns if the person won't cooperate, give the guns back if the person is deemed not a threat. This short period may be all a person needs to cool off before doing something they'll regret or may enable police to stop (well, at the very very least delay) a spontaneous attack.
 
2012-08-02 04:24:15 PM  

angrycrank: However, there are still myriad ways it could be permissible to disclose certain information to the committee without it rising to duty to warn requirements -including the possibility that the psychiatrist had Holmes' permission to go to the committee in an attempt to find resources to help him. When I supervised a university residence, we had students who would a) disclose their special needs to us, and b) give their counselors permission to tell specific people specific things in order to help us best support the student. We would similarly seek students' permission to disclose information to resources that might be helpful.


I'll but that for now. In my limited university experience, student only disclose to get accommodations or services, but you never know. Maybe he gave permission to see if they would stop him. Who knows? Personally I wouldn't give permission to be investigated as a threat to the university, but then again, I wouldn't shoot people either.
 
2012-08-02 04:33:43 PM  

Atypical Person Reading Fark: I've watched many 5150 proceedings (or been part of them - and no, not as the patient).

5150 is the California process by which someone gets reported to the police and can be placed on an involuntary hold for observation, due to being a danger to oneself or others, or unfit to care for oneself.

The psychiatrists I've seen need more than a thread - or a plan to threaten someone. What they need is the sort of thing that Holmes sent to his shrink - PLUS they need the patient to say that they actually have acquired the means to do the harm they intend. So, Holmes sent his plan to shoot people (and booby trap his apartment) to the shrink. The shrink should then ask Holmes if he has guns, ammo and bomb making materials. If the answer was yes, then she/he should have slapped a hold on him.

He did everything, from his side, to get himself put on a hold. He's practically a textbook example of someone who could be placed on involuntary hold (and perhaps on an extended hold after a hearing). The only thing he did wrong is trust the mail system.


You mean besides going to the movies that night, right?
 
2012-08-02 04:57:54 PM  

LL316: I notice you didn't blame the criminal.


Very observant of you. Wanna know why? did you notice the part where I said

"...demonstrably mentally ill people with homicidal ideation... "

of which there are always going to be in society -the people that put guns in their hands make it possible for them to do what they do.

Bottom line: a bunch of people are dead and many more are maimed for life -personally, I kinda like to talk about who might be able to do something to prevent this from happening again. We can't stop people from being crazy, but we can stop people from putting guns all over the place, so to me that seems like a pretty good place to start.

-But by all means, if you feel it's more important to reassert blame on someone who's obviously too crazy to be held responsible for their actions, then who am I to think that you're a total douche-bag?
 
2012-08-02 05:13:31 PM  

Aunt Crabby: relcec: you could argue the victims were not identifiable, even though wee don;t have enough facts really.

but you just look like you are willing to sink to any depth to protect your cherished governmental organization when you argue that universities have no duty at all to the greater community they participate in.

In the US, we have no general legal duty to the community or others.
This goes for universities and companies as well as individuals. As long as I am not breaking a law, I could see you drowning and refuse to throw you a life preserver or cal 911. Morally, it would be a shiatty thing to do, but there is no legal obligation. Legal duties arise from specific types or relationships and legal obligations.



there is a legal duty for mental health professionals to notify (if not protect) reasonably identifiable potential victims of their clients in almost every jurisdiction. that's what we are talking about. I have no idea why you are bringing in good samaritain laws. it's completely unnecessary to go that far looking for a cause of action.
you can argue that the therapist, and therefore his/her employer, didn't have enough information to identify a threat or potential victims.
even though we have no idea what he/she did or didn't know so it is speculation, that is at least reasonable argument that has the potential to fit the facts at some point.

but you aren't doing that.
you appear to be trying to argue that liability can ever even potentially attach through a tarasoff duty and agency principles.
that's ridiculous, and it isn't the law.
 
2012-08-02 05:25:31 PM  

Dynascape: Wait.

How crazy is too crazy to have guns?

I have OCD... does that make me mentally unfit to go to the range?


If one of your rituals involves pointing the gun at your temple and saying "click" several times before firing down the range then perhaps so.
 
2012-08-02 06:01:00 PM  
People have the wrong ideas about mental illness.

I'd be willing to bet that for most people, its caused by outside influence/socialization and not physical problems. There may be physical symptoms but that doesn't necessarily mean the root cause of it is physical.

Most mental illness develops in people's 20's for a reason. For a lot of people, that's when they realize how truly shiatty the world is. When you're a child, your parents and those around you show you a Disney'fied version of the world. Then when you're in college you live for the moment and just think the future will turn out ok. At a certain point it all hits you, for certain people certain issues affect them. Its all about how you rationalize it and cope with it. Those who can't develop "mental illness".

The shooter? From what I've read, he'd lost his job, his g/f, and he either found out he wasn't intelligent enough to continue in his program of study or he really realized how shiatty the next decade would be just trying to setup his career. Factor in him moving far away from home for his doctorate and not having friends to talk to about his problems. Perfect storm of insanity.
 
2012-08-02 06:23:36 PM  

Tinton: People have the wrong ideas about mental illness.

I'd be willing to bet that for most people, its caused by outside influence/socialization and not physical problems. There may be physical symptoms but that doesn't necessarily mean the root cause of it is physical.

Most mental illness develops in people's 20's for a reason. For a lot of people, that's when they realize how truly shiatty the world is. When you're a child, your parents and those around you show you a Disney'fied version of the world. Then when you're in college you live for the moment and just think the future will turn out ok. At a certain point it all hits you, for certain people certain issues affect them. Its all about how you rationalize it and cope with it. Those who can't develop "mental illness".

The shooter? From what I've read, he'd lost his job, his g/f, and he either found out he wasn't intelligent enough to continue in his program of study or he really realized how shiatty the next decade would be just trying to setup his career. Factor in him moving far away from home for his doctorate and not having friends to talk to about his problems. Perfect storm of insanity.


You're adorable--NO
There is going through something---and needing therapy (Psychologist) then there is always had issues need Psychiatry. Psychiatry is particularly for medication. Once a person is medicated it could go all kinds of ways and needs to be observed. He was being observed-she warned the school. Did nothing else. THAT is a problem. Especially because for a psychiatrist to warn someone ya gotta be really talking shiat. Since they do not do talk therapy.
So now you get it.. Psychiatry is beyond "he was just having a hard time"
 
2012-08-02 06:36:46 PM  

GORDON: We need to just divide the country in half. This half is "the government," and the other half are "the citizens." "The government" half is above the law. A person from "the government" is paired off with a "citizen." The government person watches the citizen 24/7.

Then things like that shooting could never, ever happen.... if a person from "the government" shoots a place up, they are above the law and it isn't newsworthy.

Bigger government... is there anything it can't fix?


It can't fix weak, puerile satire, I'll give you that.
 
2012-08-02 06:38:39 PM  

McDougal: Atypical Person Reading Fark: I've watched many 5150 proceedings (or been part of them - and no, not as the patient).

5150 is the California process by which someone gets reported to the police and can be placed on an involuntary hold for observation, due to being a danger to oneself or others, or unfit to care for oneself.

The psychiatrists I've seen need more than a thread - or a plan to threaten someone. What they need is the sort of thing that Holmes sent to his shrink - PLUS they need the patient to say that they actually have acquired the means to do the harm they intend. So, Holmes sent his plan to shoot people (and booby trap his apartment) to the shrink. The shrink should then ask Holmes if he has guns, ammo and bomb making materials. If the answer was yes, then she/he should have slapped a hold on him.

He did everything, from his side, to get himself put on a hold. He's practically a textbook example of someone who could be placed on involuntary hold (and perhaps on an extended hold after a hearing). The only thing he did wrong is trust the mail system.

You mean besides going to the movies that night, right?


Yes, exactly. -_-
 
2012-08-02 06:40:35 PM  

relcec: there is a legal duty for mental health professionals to notify (if not protect) reasonably identifiable potential victims of their clients in almost every jurisdiction. that's what we are talking about. I have no idea why you are bringing in good samaritain laws. it's completely unnecessary to go that far looking for a cause of action.
you can argue that the therapist, and therefore his/her employer, didn't have enough information to identify a threat or potential victims.
even though we have no idea what he/she did or didn't know so it is speculation, that is at least reasonable argument that has the potential to fit the facts at some point.

but you aren't doing that.
you appear to be trying to argue that liability can ever even potentially attach through a tarasoff duty and agency principles.
that's ridiculous, and it isn't the law.


No. I am saying that (1) If this was a duty to warn situation, the therapist should have told the police, and not BETA, an internal university committee which had nothing to do with mental health services or campus security and (2) the existence of a mixed committee that may gather facts and make referrals for campus services does not create a duty for the university when that committee is not a part of mental health services, university discipline or any police unit.

Universities do not have a general duty to assess all their students for potential risks and protect the public. Agency for the therapist's potentially wrongful actions does not attach unless the university was her employer, the criteria for duty to protect were met and the therapist was acting within the scope of her employment when she did not tell the police. The actions or inaction of BETA had nothing to do with it nor does the fact that he was dropping out.

The BETA committee was not part of his therapy or mental health services. They simply take information about potentially disruptive or threatening students and may provide referrals to campus services. If the therapist had a duty to protect, then it would not matter if he was dropping out. However, an interdisciplinary university committee that may provide referrals to campus services has no obligation to gather information about someone who will not be a student or on campus. Again, this is a completely separate issue from whatever duty the therapist may or may not have had. BETA is not a part of the mental health services team.

I am not even certain that you are correct about agency in this case. If the therapist did have a duty to protect and she failed to do so, she may not have been acting within the scope of her employment, assuming the employer made it clear what her legal obligations were and that she must follow them. Assuming the university and the mental health clinic had policies about the duty to protect and provided training and instruction so employees would follow the correct procedures, if she chooses to act illegally or ignore the law it is arguably not within the scope of her employment. Again, it comes down to the fact that if anyone had a duty to protect, it was the therapist.

Universities do not have a general duty to protect the public from any potential problems caused by one of their students. If the university has any liability, it would attach through the therapist's failure to protect and not because one of its internal interdisciplinary committees chose not to assess this soon to be former student for potential referral to campus services. Ultimate responsibility for such choices rest with mental health professionals and not university committees.
 
2012-08-02 08:02:09 PM  

BarkingUnicorn: MycroftHolmes: steklo: Well, that explains a lot. I would hate to be those people who made that decision. Several lives could've been spared or not injured.

I wonder how they sleep at night?

Also wonder if they can be sued...

Out of curiosity, what could or should they have done? From little that was written in the article, it did not sound like her concerns were concrete enough to be actionable. And her concerns were voiced a month before the shooting. Should the police have started tailing him indefinitely because of a vague concern? Should we now have a registry of all people who have ever expressed violent fantasies to their therapist, and have these individuals tracked?

Well, how else are we going to get nuts into treatment before they kill people?

Fenton was "alarmed" by Sideshow Bob's behavior. Shrinks hear a lot of shocking things; I doubt Fenton was alarmed for no specific reason. The reason(s) would be in her report to this "threat assessment" group that decided to kick the can down the road.

At the least, a "welfare check" at Sideshow Bob's apartment would have turned up his arsenal. And yeah, when your shrink is alarmed your guns and incendiary chemicals should be confiscated.


Oh for fark's sakes, he isn't sideshow bob. He murdered people.
 
2012-08-02 08:14:44 PM  

Andulamb: Will the public and news media crucify the psychiatrist for not doing more? Because, you know, Paterno told higher-ups about Sandusky, and those higher-ups did nothing, and Paterno was blamed for not doing more. This psychiatrist reported to higher-ups that Holmes was a dangerous lunatic, and those higher-ups did nothing, so of course she should also be blamed for not doing more. She could have gone to the police herself, right? And now a bunch of people are dead and injured. I think murder should trump sexual abuse.


The difference is that in the Sandusky case, the crime(s) had already occurred.
 
2012-08-02 09:03:52 PM  
So, don't your psychatrists have a form they fill out when they deal with a suicidal or possible public harming patient that goes to the police so they can't get a firearms licence?

I know we have them here.
 
2012-08-02 09:06:55 PM  
fortheloveofgod


>>> OnlyM3: It's not "hindsight" when you are told of the event before it occurs.

So you know with complete certainty that he told her "I'm going to go into this theater on this date and shoot the place up"?

And let's say that he really did tell her that and the cops show up and the guys says, "yeah, I told her that.

You're right. Nothing at all illegal about making death threats. Why don't you try it in your little town and get back to us on how it all works out for you.
 
2012-08-02 10:44:23 PM  

drjekel_mrhyde: Can your psychiatrist really do this? Doesn't it goes against their oath?


I breaking an oath can save lives then it should be broken.
 
2012-08-02 11:50:17 PM  
Kit Fister

Smartest
Funniest 2012-08-02 10:22:16 AM

mrEdude: what could they have done?

well if there were threats to other people involved in his fantasies, the cops could have paid him a visit

at which point they would have either found his cache of weapons or found him to be crazy.

duh.

and, done what with the weapons? If he had not yet committed a crime, just visiting him and finding him to own weapons would mean jack shia



threats plus weapons equals jack shiat?

You must be retarded or unaware of your country's laws.
 
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