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No, any expert on coercive control and abuse will tell you that abusers always know how to switch off their violence when it benefits them, like when the police show up to their homes on a DV call. The core of an abuser's behavior is knowing how to manipulate a situation to their benefit to avoid detection, discredit their victim to others, or confuse their victim's mental state. That is the very sole of cunning, deliberate logical process aimed at the destruction of another human. Abusers use mental illness as a cover for their behavior, but mental illness does not cause an abuser to abuse others.

That might be uncomfortable and contentious, but do we really think that these perpetrators have no choice? That they have some illness or disorder that causes them to abuse their partners and children, but not their boss at work?

This is so important to remember. When I try to understand why my father was the way he was, it's so easy to say "he was mentally ill, he was a sociopath, he had a bad childhood, etc". And maybe those things did play a role in how he was. But he always had a choice, even though to us he seemed out of control. He never lashed out in public or work. Just in the privacy of home, at his dependent wife and children who couldn't fight back. He didn't lack control of his rage and violent urges. He deliberately chose us as his punching bags.

Thank you for posting this great article.

That was what made me get it, years ago. 'Sometimes I just get SO MAD I can't control my behaviour!' 'Do you ever get mad at your boss?' 'Sure, sometimes.' 'Have you ever hit your boss?' 'Are you crazy? I'd lose my job!'

Another sign that abusers are putting on an act is when they storm around breaking things they never break THEIR OWN things.

It took me a long time to get it. Reading "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy really helped me to understand that being abusive isn't a mental illness. I wish I'd heard of it and read it much earlier in life than I did.

And when male abusers are able to appear to be nice guys to everyone who knows them but exercise coercive control and violence over their families. Pretty selective "mental illness". I have a psychotic illness and it does not just rear its head at specific times and locations that are convenient to me. Not to mention, I comply with treatment for my condition and never become violent. I don't support the diagnosis of mental health conditions for male offenders who are acting in a violent way towards women, these behaviours are just extreme misogyny. I don't support the excuse of "mental illness" for the misogyny of TIMs, either. We rush to pathologise everything these days.

If criminals have mental illnesses, or physical illnesses then they should be treated.

Using them as an excuse to let them off the hook? Not so much.

This may be offensive, but anytime, yet another kid has been cruelly tortured to death or was so severely neglected it died and people come to plop down teddy bears, candles and signs asking "why?" or "rest i peace, little angel", I can't help but wonder if we may prefer our victims dead. If they survive, in all likelihood, they'd continue the cycle.

So, I believe that we should do anything in our power (and let's face it - we could do a lot better) to help people overcome violence, neglect and feelings of worthlessness as to make sure that we can prevent what is preventable. Will we eredicate violence? No, but we could most likely prevent a lot of people from becoming predators.

I know someone (and am very fond of him) who went through a severe and extended trauma that nearly destroyed him as a person. Watching him (he was pretty young) working and struggling to overcome it was heartbreaking and amazing at the same time. There were times when I thought he wouldn't survive it. Yet, he has. It is my firm belief that not only did he actually experience post traumatic growth but also that he will never be a threat to others. He has managed to break the chains of violence. However - he had been the victim and those who helped him were not afraid to openly discuss with him the risk of becoming a perpetrator (as i mentioned - I'm very fond of him, it feels disgustingly vile to approach the risk of turning into a perpetrator with someone who had been so horribly hurt).

It is my firm belief that, should he somehow end up a violent criminal after all, it will be his "choice" and therefore he should not be classified mentally ill then.

[–] DonnaFemina 2 points Edited

From what I understand (this is not my area of expertise), the Netherlands deals with mental illness among violent criminals like so:

(1) determine whether they are "wholly" or "partially" mentally ill; and then

(2) if "wholly," then they can't be considered morally responsible for their crime, but since they're dangerous and mentally ill, they get confined to a secure psychiatric hospital indefinitely, potentially forever (release is possible if by some miracle the therapy/drugs work and they're cured, but...); and

(3) if "partially," then they can be considered morally responsible, so you put them in prison to serve their sentence, and then when it's done, since they are mentally ill and dangerous as a result, you release them to either:

(i) a secure psychiatric hospital indefinitely (average stay is about 8 years but it could be forever -- it's until they recognize their guilt and are no longer dangerous, if that ever happens); or

(ii) for less-violent offenders, to mandatory outpatient intensive counseling -- but if they fuck that up, then they go to a secure psych ward.

That sounds appropriate to me. And it may be a good part of the reason that recidivism rates among Dutch violent criminals are much lower than ours.

Also I'm guessing criminals there don't raise frivolous insanity defenses NEARLY as much as they do here.