…no, this isn’t a joke.

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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86 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    Perhaps these Houston PD officers didn’t use careful handcuffing and frisking techniques, or perhaps the arrestee was training to become a circus contortionist. Or perhaps the explanation is, as Nob indicates, a bit too glib to evade skepticism. One wonders where on the decedent’s head the entry wound would be found.

    I’m reminded of Popehat’s satirical “police-glib” definitions of a “pit bill” and “rottweiler”: a “rottweiler” is any black dog shot by a police officer, and a “pit bill” is any non-black dog shot by a police officer.Report

  2. Damon says:

    “In a follow-up email to NBC News, Frey said the gun was apparently hidden well enough to evade detection when the student was frisked prior to being placed in the patrol car.”

    This is either incompetetance by the cop or a damn lie.Report

  3. Kazzy says:

    This is an old story, no? Or did it happen again?Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    I just hope that there is a full investigation.Report

    • M.A. in reply to Jaybird says:


      When I hear of some of these cases, and then consider that I’ve seen plenty of videos of police engaged in bad behavior (or for that matter, police abusing their power to shut down citizens who are recording the police engaging in other abuse!), I don’t give the “shot himself while handcuffed” claim much credence. It sounds facially ridiculous.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      Yeah, the thing is Internal Affairs asked the cops if they were going to change that idiotic story, and the cops said “No, we’re standing our ground.”Report

  5. Glyph says:

    Have I mentioned that I don’t trust cops?

    Yeah, I know; it’s just a few bad apples that ruin it for the other 5%.Report

    • zic in reply to Glyph says:

      belly laugh.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

      As Blaise et al have pointed out, my glib initial response here may been unwarranted. The cop may have made a mistake, rather than committed a crime/coverup. My apologies for going with the cheap shot without more info to go on.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

        That’s extraordinarily decent of you to admit, Glyph. I’ve often thought life in prison would be a worse fate than death: spending the rest of my life contemplating my crime has to be worse than mere death. There are worse things than death.Report

  6. BlaiseP says:

    Police officers live in a weird twilight of human existence. Soldiering I know, policing I don’t, that is to say, not terribly well. We tend to make heroes out of soldiers and that’s not wise. With police, there’s always some emotional reservation about their authority: it’s easily abused and that abuse easily covered up.

    But the same is true of soldiering. Both the soldier and the policeman live on the ragged edge of civilisation. They don’t see the rest of us at our best, to make the understatement of all time. This affects their judgement: to stay sane, they must harden themselves, assume that military posture of rigorous courtesy, all the while their own minds running a mile a minute. Is this domestic violence incident the one where I’m going to get shot?

    Maybe I’m projecting. Maybe it isn’t like soldiering. Can you imagine what that Houston police officer felt when that weapon went off in his squad car? Can you imagine what his unit commander had to say to him? I’m not feeling sorry for this cop. He screwed up. We used to say in the military “Confident, cocky, lazy, dead.” I do know prisoners are strip searched on entry to jails and a surprising variety of contraband is confiscated that way. Shit happens and it doesn’t have to happen more than once for a police officer to end up mortally wounded. They’re human, cops. They bleed out, just like their victims and the people they’re trying to help.

    I couldn’t do that job. Operating under colour of law might be a haven for would-be billy bad-asses, flaunting their power over others. I told my own children: don’t say anything to a police officer about a crime without a lawyer around. They’re not your friends, cops, even the good ones. But once you’re sure a lawyer’s there, you tell the lawyer the truth as much as you know and don’t exaggerate. It only happened once, with my son. He offered to go to the police station, my lawyer turned up within five minutes, the whole thing got sorted out quickly and the right person was arrested.

    It’s a sick world. That kid with the weapon could have shot the police officer. And people wonder why I have so little faith in humanity….. James Madison, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary…. Policemen aren’t angels and neither are we. The best we can hope for is what Madison calls Auxiliary Precautions. We can’t be trusted.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

      See, that’s interesting. My first thought was “that cop shot that kid and is covering it up”.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        Mine as well. I just have trouble understanding how the kid could have a weapon after being searched/handcuffed, and how he could fire it while handcuffed.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

          Handcuffs don’t totally immobilize a person. Even assuming the police followed the normal practice of handcuffing his hands behind his back, a limber person could slip their hands down below their legs and have their hands in front, where it’s still possible to draw and fire a weapon (the wrists are cuffed, which leaves the hands, at least the fingers, still somewhat mobile).

          But that would mean the police didn’t frisk him thoroughly. That’s possible, since in any human process that is repeated thousands of times there will be occasional errors. But it doesn’t seem very likely because for police, frisking for weapons is a personal safety issue, not just a routine procedure issue (they’re far more likely to mess up their reports, than the frisk, I would wager).

          So it’s not physically impossible for the suspect to have pulled a gun even if handcuffed, but it’s very unlikely the police didn’t notice a gun when frisking (and if they didn’t, that’s obviously their fault), and we know that police shootings are not that uncommon, so it seems the most probable that the cops shot the kid. But obviously we can’t say with certainty that happened.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to James Hanley says:

            When you count up the total number of arrests every year in the country, even those two very unlikely things (failed frisk, contortionist getting the gun out while in handcuffs) seem… well, it seems like it would happen at least once. Having the guy be suicidal (if that’s actually the case) is a what, once-in-a-decade occurrence, maybe.

            Problem with these sorts of things is that the on-the-face-of-it much more seemingly plausible explanation (cop killed the guy) isn’t guaranteed to be correct.

            We’ll have to wait and see. Where did the gun come from, is the first question.Report

            • I agree that it’s possible. And to a non-trivial degree, I want to give the cops the benefit of the doubt. But I’m skeptical. “Skepticism” is not “disbelief.” Skepticism is saying, “Show me why I should believe this is true.”

              As Blaise points out, we rely on them and we trust and love our police officers. They get the job of dealing with a bunch of crap that can’t but mold their minds in ways that are sometimes ugly. And they have power which can be used with relative ease to cover up their own mistakes or worse, their own misdeeds. Contemplating that power being actually abused is quite frightening and even more so when one imagines the temptation to do so.

              This fear is articulated from a position in which I enjoy nearly every sort of social privilege imaginable: I’m white, male, straight, well-educated, occupy a respected position in society, and my economic challenges are closer to the apex than the base of Maslow’s hierarchy. The realistic chances of my being actually the victim of a non-trivial abuse of power by a police officer are quite low. A cop might write a ticket for me at 85 miles an hour when I was actually doing only 75. If I gave her attitude instead of deference. You know what, big whoop. How much more frightening would the prospect of police abuse be if one came from a background lacking my advantages? If your background was one in which the presumption is that the police will assume the worst of you when they step in to a situation, or even worse, that the presumption is that they will arrest and harm you regardless of the existence of good cause to do so — it gives a nuance to understanding the emotional state of the young man in the back of that police car. He wasn’t waiting to be in-processed to a holding cell and having to make an awkward and embarrasing phone call to his family. Whether it was the objective reality or not, in his mind, he was waiting to get beat up by people who knew they could get away with doing it and took pleasure in that fact.

              And football fans very recently got a graphic reminder of the psychological stress of a young man who really did do something awful, probably in a moment of passion and anger rather than the result of calculated intent. Who among us has not lost their temper and said or done something we instantly regret? Javon Belcher realized that he would face a profound consequence for what surely was a momentary and thoughtless action (a graphic and awful mistake indeed), and he chose suicide rather than prison. I suspect that serious intent of suicide in the mind of a first-time arrestee might be much more common than Patrick supposes.

              So yes, I can imagine that a young man, suddenly thrust into a world devoid of hope or any future but continuous incarceration and abuse from the authorities, might think that suicide was the least bad option and make an attempt if he could. I can see that part of it.

              But the circumstances of being searched, twice, and handcuffed, and placed in the confines of the back of a police car, and being able to manipulate a gun while in those environments and in those restraints, seems so unlikely that skepticism of that unlikely chain of events is warranted.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I … occupy a respected position in society,

                So you really are a potted plant?Report

              • Hopefully more like this one than this one, given my oath to uphold the laws of the United States.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Burt Likko says:

                But the circumstances of being searched, twice, and handcuffed, and placed in the confines of the back of a police car, and being able to manipulate a gun while in those environments and in those restraints, seems so unlikely that skepticism of that unlikely chain of events is warranted.

                That is something with which I’m well on board, certainly.

                So yes, I can imagine that a young man, suddenly thrust into a world devoid of hope or any future but continuous incarceration and abuse from the authorities, might think that suicide was the least bad option and make an attempt if he could. I can see that part of it.

                You know, I can see this myself, as well. Hadn’t thought about it in quite that light. Still, I don’t see that as commonly leading to “suicide as an outcome”. The numbers don’t back that up. But it’s certainly plausible.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              He’s not dead, at least at the last report I saw.

              According to HuffPo there was another case in Houston in 2006 where a suspect who’d been frisked, handcuffed, and placed in the back of a police car shot and killed a policeman. So this stuff can happen.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

            I betcha that they’ll find the handcuffs were still behind the kid’s back.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

        That’s what I was thinking, too, at first. Thing is, the kid was already suicidal, that much we do know. What’s the motive here? Kid turns up at high school, tells everyone goodbye, says he’s going to commit suicide, police are summoned, he’s frisked, cuffed, then shoots himself en route to the psych unit.

        I just don’t see this as a coverup.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

          That makes sense, Blaise. I’m just wondering if we have any info on how his interaction with the police went down? Was it fairly peaceful, or did it get really aggressive? I can picture a scenario where a suicidal bipolar person reacts very violently to the police, who get pretty, uhm… irritated in response, then that person continues to mouth off in the squad car until he says something pushes an officer over the edge.

          I’m not insinuating that happened here. I just wonder if we have any reliable reports of how his interaction with the police went.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

            As a bipolar person, I can say from personal authority that’s highly unlikely. Bipolar suicide is characterised by secrecy. There is one set of circumstances which does arise fairly often in this context: first-time arrests are often accompanied by suicide attempts. Jails routinely put a first-time arrestee, especially highly agitated kids, on suicide watch.

            We don’t have all the facts. It’s far too early to pass judgement. I’ve known soldiers who committed suicide and I’ve had to deal with the fallout from other suicides. Tell you this, I wouldn’t want to be in that police officer’s shoes. Nossir. He’ll be living with that incident for the rest of his life. Truth is, and this may be TMI, I’ve contemplated suicide. I concluded it’s as Sartre said:

            The absurd man will not commit suicide; he wants to live, without relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope, without illusions … and without resignation either. He stares at death with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him. He experiences the “divine irresponsibility” of the condemned man.

            Suicide damages everyone around the victim. Truth is, they’re not really victims. They’re damaging everyone who ever loved them. That poor bastard cop, what reason would he have to shoot the kid? Maybe he did have a reason. We don’t know. I’m saying the police officer lives in a weird twilight, armed with the mandate of his badge and the weapon in his holster. But inside that lobster shell, there’s still a human being, for better or worse, no different fundamentally from the people he arrests.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

              As a fellow bipolar person, I respectfully disagree on the likelihood. Bipolar disorder is often accompanied by excessive irritability and a tendency to lash out at others. Often, not always.

              what reason would he have to shoot the kid?
              What reason do other cops have to shoot other kids?

              Maybe he did have a reason. We don’t know.
              Fully agreed. At this point we don’t know. If the cop’s a decent guy and the error was an insufficient frisk, then I agree he’ll be dealing with this for the rest of his life.

              However one looks at this story, there is no actual good in it; just different types of bad.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                Every bipolar person suffers differently. All arguments from authority are fallacious anyway. These days I tend to put that caveat in “personal authority”, saves time and trouble.

                But all this Sea Lawyering, casting aspersions on the police officer, is patently ridiculous. The kid had a gun, said he was going to commit suicide and then did it. But somehow, despite none of us having a scrap of evidence, we must presume the officer’s guilt. It’s all so much tendentious bullshit. I’m off this thread. Have at it, folks.Report

              • Shazbot3 in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I don’t think Hanley meant to cast aspersions that the cops had bad intentions. More like “let’s wait and see” because we don’t know anything one way or the other, so let’s not give them the benefit of the doubt nor suspect them either.

                But I think you agree with the wait and see approach, too, no? (You did say that we shouldn’t assume that the police are more heroic than others.)

                I never give the police more of the benefit of the doubt about whether they had good intentions than I do to ordinary citizens. (I’ve met too many cops to think that they have better or worse intentions than the rest of us. Just the same.)

                For me, it’s hard to be totally neutral with any case in the news. It’s hard to say, “I don’t know, so I have no inclination to believing guilty or innocent without more evidence.” But that is what I think we need to do with this case.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

                I’ve already laid out my positions on police officers, talking about what I told my kids. If you find it difficult not to rush to judgement on someone or something, it always helps to realise it’s an actual person inside that uniform, not RoboCop.

                The dichotomy we’ve raised between Cops and Ordinary Citizens is exactly the aspersion over which I’ve been musing at length here. And absolutely nobody’s getting the point I’m trying to make.Report

            • Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

              RE: the suicidal impulse. I have never had it in an “active” manner, contemplating the choice or the methods too seriously, thank god (though my mother has, and required serious medication for a period in my youth; and her father did in fact kill himself).

              But in the times when I have had depressive periods, I have noted a “passive” manner – little things, like driving intentionally just a bit too fast and sans seatbelt, because you really just don’t care too much if you live or die; in fact, in the back of your mind you think it might be good if “something” just sort of “happened” to you.

              I used to get angry at people who committed or attempted suicide – I remember being just furious at Cobain when the news hit, not because he was the “voice of a generation” or an artist taken too soon or whatever (because truth be told, I think he was just OK); but because he had a small daughter and wife (nutso tho’ she is) and who the fish does that to other people that they claim to love?!

              In time I came to believe that very few people who are able to override the incredibly strong, irrationally blind biological instinct towards survival and self-preservation can be said to be “in their right minds” at the time they make the decision.

              Not saying the decision cannot be, or is never arrived at rationally (see: the 9/11 jumpers, or cultures that embrace seppuku or self-immolation or whatever); but I think that to override the survival instinct, in our culture at least, is usually indicative of a serious imbalance in brain chemistry, a medical condition for which we should never fault the suicidal person (though it’s interesting to think about how that social opprobrium, the old “suicides go to hell” business may have been the best attempt Western man, with no understanding of brain chemistry, could make at attempting to steer the suicidal away from a choice that we somehow instinctively know is indicative of “something’s not right”).

              Anyway, I hope this pontificating doesn’t come across as shallow or condescending, Blaise. Take care of yourself.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

                And holy cow, you too, James.

                Actually, this explains a LOT about the interactions you two sometimes have. 😉Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                James and I have our own rules in the ring. I do respect him rather more than I let on. If we don’t pull punches, we don’t hold grudges, either. He’s a fundamentally decent man.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                The hell I am! I’ll not have you casting aspersions that I’m a man of good character!

                But, yeah, right back at ya. I’ve been trying to keep it in mind that we’ve both got that damn thing going on. It reminds to keep thinking of you as in three dimensions.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                Nobody should cut his own hair, write his own contracts or edit his own books. In like measure, it’s a fool who who takes his own opinion of himself very seriously. I sensed you had similar issues to mine but never raised the point. Really, it’s true, you are a decent man. You’ve never argued dishonestly with me at any point.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                You’re determined to ruin my reputation, aren’t you? 😉Report

              • Glyph in reply to James Hanley says:

                Close the League down for the day, boys; this is as good as it’s gonna get.Report

              • DRS in reply to James Hanley says:

                You have a reputation to live down to. Don’t let anyone take it away from you.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                You bet your f**hing a**!Report

              • Kazzy in reply to James Hanley says:


                I had no idea. I just thought you were an ornery fuck.

                Thanks for your honesty and willingness to share. You, too, Blaise.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Kaz, I’m that, too. On my nicest days I still despise authority and find the mass of humanity barely tolerable.

                I’ve been thinking about writing a post about being bipolar. It needs to be destigmatized. But it’s damned tough to talk about.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                I have this theory about Ornery. We’re only ornery with people we want to change. Assholes, hell, we just steer clear of them. Someone who’d been sent to Auschwitz or to the gulags, they would have reason to hate Hitler or Stalin or the like, but such monsters just aren’t hate-able for the rest of us. They’re asymptotes, abstract, beyond hatred and almost beyond debate which is why Godwin’s Law applies more often than not.

                There’s a strange story told about a Civil War reunion held at Gettysburg. Both Union and Confederate troops attended. There was a re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge. As the old Confederate troops came out of the woods and marched across that terrible field, the Union troops fell to weeping, leaped over the wall and embraced their erstwhile enemies.Report

              • zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                James, I’ve been thinking about writing a post about being bipolar. It needs to be destigmatized. But it’s damned tough to talk about.

                Please do. Because it is tough to talk about.

                But that stuff that’s tough to talk about is the stuff we need to talk about. Particularly because there’s a lot of sociopathy that gets swept up in the ‘bi-polar’ rug that could use some sorting out.Report

              • Let me echo Kazzy’s admiration. As I see it, the brain is an organ of the body like any other and sometimes parts of the body get out of whack and need attention. There’s no stigma to that, or at least there ought not to be.

                But the brain is different than a knee or a pancreas, in that it controls affect and cognition. In a setting like ours, affect and cognition are all that we have to relate to one another with. I just take for granted that I can control my own mind and don’t normally put a lot of attention or thought into that dimension of my expressions here. In contrast, you guys manage to produce fantastic cognition and often exemplary affect despite having to devote greater attention to that part of the body responsible for it than do people like myself.

                My bowler hat is off to you both.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                I have this theory (I think I’ll have that phrase put on my tombstone, heh) about mental illness. It arises from a great scam put over on us all since Plato and the Greeks. Oh, the mind’s over here, the body’s over there. Such thinking could only arise in a culture which countenanced slavery. It was the only way they could live with themselves, by sublimating away the mind from the body, the real from the ideal.

                The mind and body cannot be separated, as anyone who’s seen their own kids tear around the house on a sugar/caffeine high will tell you. Hence, mental illness is really not much different than any other sort of manifestation of illness, say an allergic reaction or pancreatitis.

                Once we’ve put the mind back in the body, the explanations get a lot simpler.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                Mental illnesses like bipolar disorder are just like diabetes. Correct the chemical imbalance, practice daily maintenance for life.

                But we tend not to sneer at people with diabetes.Report

              • Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

                sometimes chemical correction is worse than none at all.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:


                There’s a sometimes for everything. But to hell with you or anybody else who urges bipolar people to avoid medication.

                And I say that not passionately, but with the cold calculation of long consideration.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                I had a diabetic girlfriend many years ago. While she was on insulin, she was a sweet girl, God rest her soul. Off her meds, she went into paranoid fugues.

                I met her in the context of a group of college kids living together in a big old house. She was the only one who wasn’t in college: she worked downtown at an accounting firm. She was convinced the other people hated her, though they didn’t. They did resent her outbursts. So together we went looking for an apartment for her: I found her a nice place overlooking Lincoln Park zoo, she could take the bus downtown.

                I’d used up the very last of my Army savings to pay for the U-Haul truck to haul her from Wheaton to Chicago. I told her I would take the train back down and arrive late that night. Between the time I’d pulled out and the time I returned, she was convinced I was party to a ruse with her former housemates to get her out of that situation. It got pretty horrid. It was too late to take the train back to Wheaton: I spent the night in a coffee shop. I broke up with her and essentially went into hiding for a few weeks. She put personal ads with my name in the Chicago Reader, trying to get me back. It was beyond horrible.

                She eventually moved in with my parents and continued to go off the rails. Eventually she took up with an abusive boyfriend, the diabetes blinded her and she ended up dying at the age of 38.

                Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
                et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
                æternam habeas requiem.

                There’s no conclusion, no explanation to draw from this sad story. It just happened. Mental illness is just illness, often concomitant with other illnesses. The Buddhists tell us to exist is to suffer. There’s no explaining it from the inside. We might, if we were enlightened, see our suffering in others and learn compassion, both for ourselves and for others. We are all in this together.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                sometimes chemical correction is worse than none at all.

                (angrily) Of all the many ignorant things you have said, surely this is the most ignorant. David Foster Wallace, also bipolar, changed his meds and they stopped working. He ended up at the end of a rope, leaving everyone around him devastated.

                Other people want to know what it’s like to live with this condition. James and I are trying to enlighten them without baring our own naked asses and souls. You will do us both a favour and STFU about Chemical Correction. Without lithium, I’d be dead. Simple fact, Kim.Report

              • Glyph in reply to James Hanley says:

                Blaise, I will let Kim speak for herself but one thing I will point out is that my friend who attempted suicide, was at the time taking antidepressants for the first time in his life. He had struggled for years (like I said, he had had fugue episodes – he’d disappear for a week, ditching work and family/friends with no warning, then call saying he’d decided to ride his motorcycle to Canada or whatever.)

                But he never made any attempt on his own life until after being on medication a short while. I learned then that the period just after starting medication can be extremely dangerous, and suicide risk is elevated. Whether this is because the antidepressants start to work just enough to give one the gumption to finally take action to end it all, or whether one thinks “not even this is working, and this was my last hope”, I don’t know.

                But it’s something to watch out for when someone does start taking medication. My mom had to switch medications and adjust dosages many times until she got back on track, because some made her feel worse than ever.Report

              • Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

                alright. here’s about the time I apologize. Both for stepping on folks’ toesies, and for managing to seem to be talking about something that I know much less than you do.

                I’ve mentioned before that I knew one person who was bipolar…

                I do, however, have some personal experience with other brain altering drugs. To my profound regret (they were trying to “fix” something that wasn’t an actual problem).

                I also know that there are certain medications that researchers in the field won’t take, for fear of compromising their ability to continue doing good research.

                Some people can handle being bipolar without medication — I knew one, fer goodness sakes! This in no way shape or form should be taken as “medication is bad in this case”, as I’ve yet to see folks talk about any mind-altering side-effects.

                And I’d like to apologize,again, for my previous unclearness.Report

              • Shazbot3 in reply to James Hanley says:

                sometimes chemical correction is worse than none at all.”

                Yikes. That is an irresponsible thing to say, especially without further explanation.

                Yes, it is true that most patients with bipolar have to work for a while to find the right drug and the right dose going forward. And it is true that there are patients who can get by with no meds. But meds are the cornerstone of treatment for bipolar. The same is true for every medicine, so it goes without saying. And since that goes without saying, it sounds like you are saying something more, something really off.

                When you say things like this, without properly qualifying your claims, you sound like a silly luddite-hippy who wants to end vaccines. Claims like yours, that overmedicating is the worse danger (instead of an easy problem to avoid by scaling back until you find the right dose) add to the general belief that everyone is better off without meds, that meds are bad, which is just patently false in lots and lots of cases.

                One of the things the left is sadly inflected with is an irrational fear and denialism about medical and psychopharmacological science. It comes out with vaccine denialism, mind over matter Chopra BS, too many worries about GM foods, etc. But it comes out in a preference for homeopathy over psychopharm and medical treatment that ruins a lot of lives.

                Overmedicating is not at all as serious a problem as people avoiding medical treatment. Especially with bipolar.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’ve never actually mentioned this here because I don’t really know that it’s helpful, but my favorite person in the world, spouse, and partner for the last decade or so is bipolar, so I’m pretty used to living with someone dealing with the disorder. I don’t know how often it comes into my dealings with people elsewhere, but I have actually thought to myself a few times before that it would be very hard for me to hold a grudge against Blaise for that reason. James, I didn’t know about being bipolar, so I usually hate him with the fire of a million suns. (I kid! I kid!)Report

              • Glyph in reply to James Hanley says:

                Rufus – one thing a convo like this does, is make me realize just how damn common the condition really is. I mean right in this rarefied group, we’ve got several who have it, and several more who know a close friend or relative who has it.

                Now granted, maybe the condition is somewhat associated with other traits that attract someone to a venue like this, so maybe it’s not quite as common in the general population as it is amongst “our people”, however we want to define that.

                But still, that there should be any stigma at all for something so seemingly common seems weird. Like James said, it’s really no different than diabetes.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to James Hanley says:

                James, Blaise, et al.

                I would love to see a piece(s) on bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Our society struggles greatly with even acknowledging these things exist. I had a piece after the Belcher incident imploring a conversation on mental illness but didn’t feel fit to post it as I know so little about the topic that I was reluctant to even go that for. But I’d love to learn more.Report

              • zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                Glyph, it runs in my family. I’m fearing for one of my children, now, and we’re seeking help; though his condition might be better described as uni-polar; we don’t see manic episodes, just depressive bouts.

                I also get severe migraine with tremors, and I pay attention to the research in the field, there seems to be some sort of link between migraine, epilepsy, and bi-polar disorder; each an electrical storm passing through the brain that disrupts serotonin and dopamine. Certainly the cycle of migraine (depressed state) followed by an incredible feeling of elation post migraine seems a similar mood roller coaster; but the depressed cycles comprise physical symptoms including headache, aura, and nausea, and the elation is never manic.

                I do sort of understand Kim’s comment on this thread; I think we all know folk who suffer mild depression and try serotonin re-uptake inhibitors rather lightly; or take them and have a very bad reaction. But treating a mild to moderate bout of depression has as much to do with bi-polar disorder as a severe chest cold has to do with lung cancer. Because they’re both considered ‘mental illness’ does not mean that a conversation about treating one has much bearing with treating the other. And that’s a huge part of why this is an important discussion.

                My folk who are bipolar are able to lead normal lives because of the medication they take; lives they could not lead without help. As a family, we live with great care and awareness for them, particularly when someone needs to go change their medications; as did one member who was beginning to show signs of kidney damage after many years of taking lithium. That switch took several years to work out, and involved two episodes in the hospital from full-blown psychosis from trying drugs that didn’t work.

                And truth be told, my family members with bi-polar are much loved, interesting people. They have an edge — they question themselves, they don’t take their perceptions at face value, and they’re very willing to be open about things most of us try to closet. At least in my family, and perhaps here, that edge is very valued.Report

              • Glyph in reply to James Hanley says:

                zic, this is still very much at the research stages, but for straight-up depression (unipolar), ketamine is showing real promise and nearly instantaneous results (hours, not weeks) in some patients. Too early to say whether or how long the effects last (there is evidence the drug may actually promote the growth of synaptic connections, a good sign) and at least the drug or any derivatives are fairly known and safe side-effect-wise. Check NPR’s site, among others, they have done articles.Report

              • zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                Glyph, thank you for that. We have an appointment in a week to talk about these very things.

                As with all things, people are complicated and there is, of course, more.

                But I will research ketamine. Thank you.Report

              • Glyph in reply to James Hanley says:

                Also, I am not a doctor. But you knew that.

                I have been looking further, and it looks like the effects may only last 7-10 days; I am unsure if they have tried repeat dosages over the long-term; though I said it is ‘fairly safe’ (in that it is a long-established pediatric and animal anesthetic and even gets used recreationally), high or repeated doses can cause bladder and other problems.

                So like anything, there are pluses and minuses and regimen/safety considerations.

                Anyway, something to look into and discuss with your physicians and family. Good luck.Report

            • Shazbot3 in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Quite right. Suicide, pace the MASH song, is not painless.

              To that I can attest.Report

            • dexter in reply to BlaiseP says:

              My definition of suicide is the ultimate act of the totally self-centered.
              And, as far as the cop being human means he could be anything. If you get to know enough of the you will see that cops are just like people. Most of them are good, hard working people who care and a few are not. Two examples: a long time ago I watched a cop in Fairbanks arrest a extremely drunk Indian. The Indian was doing everything in his power to do the officer’s bidding, but because he was very, very drunk and moving slowly the cop hit him across the forehead hard enough with his night stick that I heard the thud from more than fifty feet away. Bad cop Two, a very long time ago, when I knew those kind of people, I had a friend tell me that while at a concert he was rolling a joint when somebody tapped him on the shoulder and he looked up to see a cop. My friend’s first thought was “oh shit” but the cop merely handed him an empty popcorn box and said “If you use this you won’t waste as much.” Good cop.Report

              • Glyph in reply to dexter says:

                the ultimate act of the totally self-centered.

                It’s only “total self-centeredness” in the sense that the afflicted’s viewpoint and perspective is so warped by the illness/imbalance that they literally *cannot* see any other way out. Their world shrinks until only the pain they are experiencing (or maybe worse, the lack of *any feeling at all*) is the only thing left to them, and its cessation the only thing that matters anymore.

                Having lost a grandfather to suicide, and a good friend to an attempt (he lived, but will never be the same due to a gunshot wound to the brain), I hope that you or anyone you care about is never afflicted with such illness and pain. If they are, perhaps you will reconsider your thoughts then.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

                the ultimate act of the totally self-centered.

                The self-centered person wants everyone to cater to their needs, and cares little for others except in regard to how well they cater.

                The suicidal person often cares deeply for others, but is in such great pain they cannot do what they would like for them, and cannot see any way out. Or as Glyph says, they may feel nothing at all, which is a torment beyond explanation.Report

              • Glyph in reply to James Hanley says:

                This “anhedonia” is the “sensation” (really, a lack) I am personally most familiar with from my bouts of depression (and is how my suicidal friend described his condition, though his was much more serious and he had a couple “fugue”-type episodes prior to the attempt). An complete inability to connect.

                You can sometimes fake it, and have conversations with people like everything is normal; but inside, the “real” you is watching their mouth move and it’s all just completely alien and incomprehensible, just meaningless symbols and sounds.

                Weirdly, this sometimes results in a feeling of greater connection with the inanimate, material world – I remember neon signs at night gaining the most beautiful halos once and it made me cry.

                One particular bout, I was prescribed antidepressants – I stopped taking them almost immediately, because they somehow dulled even the little I was feeling, down to absolute zero – I told the doc I’d rather hurt, than feel nothing at all. As long as I was hurting, I knew I was still here.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

                I hear all of this. The worst is when even the things like neon signs no longer evoke any response.

                And I had a similar, although not identical experience with anti-depressants, too. I actually felt kind of good, not at all depressed anymore, but I didn’t actually care about anything. They made me very forgetful, and I missed important meetings and lost stuff, and I felt nothing about it. It killed certain, um, physical drives, and I felt nothing about that, either. It was a weird sort of miserable feel-goodness that quickly drove me back to my doctor to beg that we try something else.

                As long as I was hurting, I knew I was still here.
                And that’s why teens cut themselves. I never did that, but god knows I did some crazy shit to try to feel something sometimes.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

                Was it Effexor? What you are describing sounds quite a bit like what I experienced (right down to the serious, serious forgetfulness – my first day, I totally forgot where my car was, and wandered around the work parking lot for a while, despite my parking pretty much where I always did).

                I can see it feeling “kind of good” to some people – I likened it to the “coming up” portion of a particular recreational chemical compound, though for me it never passed the climb to reach any sort of plateau. So in that sense, it was frustrating (“a sort of miserable feel-goodness”).

                I didn’t stay on it long.Report

              • dexter in reply to Glyph says:

                Glyph, When I was seventeen my mother took a box of D-Con so I guess I a vague idea. I suffer from depression that has been so deep and profound that I have been institutionalized for weeks at a time and the only thing that kept me from suicide was the thought of what it would do to my children. I never got to the point that I did not care about others. And yes, I am still really pissed at my mother for abandoning me.Report

              • Glyph in reply to dexter says:

                Dexter, I am sorry for both your loss and your health struggles. Best wishes.

                As James points out and you obviously know, the depressed person can and does care, deeply, about others, and often feels they are letting them down, contributing to further depression in a vicious cyle.

                I am certain that your mother did not want to abandon you. She was ill. Try to forgive her, and and make sure you do better for your kids. Best to you and yours.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

                I would second the hope for forgiveness. The deep secret of forgiveness is not that it relieves the other person of a burden, but that it relieves ourselves of a burden. It can be horribly difficult, but it has healing power, relieving the forgiver of a debilitating emotional pain.

                And I also am sorry to hear of your loss and your struggles. I wish the best for you.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

                James, I know you don’t have a TV, but if you haven’t checked out Homeland on Showtime you should. A major character is bipolar (this is never explicitly stated, but it seems clear to me that they suffer from something on that continuum).

                Again, I am not myself bipolar, but I do have a good (different) friend who is, and the portrayal seems fairly accurate (if maybe slightly heightened for TV drama).Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

                Hmm, you have me confused with someone else. I have a TV (I just don’t get to control it often!). Maybe I’ll check it out.

                This has been a good conversation, but I’m going to have to check out now. This has been all I personally can bear. It was a good chat with everyone, though.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                Along with James, I’m checking out of this conversation. Really, folks, there’s no explaining what goes on in the bipolar mindset. The best explication I’ve ever seen was Stephen Fry’s BBC show: The Secret Life of the Manic DepressiveReport

              • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

                Stephen Fry – The Secret Life Of the Manic-Depressive

                Part 1 of 2
                Part 2 of 2Report

              • MFarmer in reply to Glyph says:

                True. I’m currently dealing with/caring for a friend who attempted to take her life and did serious damage to herself. She was never self-centered, but when she got into the state of mind that led her to hurt herself, she was not capable at the time of seeing outside that state of mind. I’ve suffered from deep depressions before, so I can partially, though not completely, understand. I don’t think that applying self-centeredness to the condition enlightens at all.Report

          • zic in reply to James Hanley says:

            Many PD’s have video cameras running in a cruiser.

            Wonder if there was one here? We’ll know soon, I suppose.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to Jaybird says:

        Mine, too. I have almost no doubt that’s what happened.Report

  7. Morat20 says:

    Latest version is the police patted him down but didn’t frisk him. Not sure what the difference is, but apparently what they did was more quick and used on suspects they don’t think are armed anyways.

    What you’d do to, I dunno, the drunk at the local bar as opposed to the guy with three arrests for armed assault you’re picking up.

    My personal deep distrust of police stems from three sources:
    1) A particularly libertarian government professor way back in my young days. (More so than your average one around here, he spent a lot of time in court for doing things like flat-out objecting to requests for ID, to search his car, etc. Most people can’t afford to do that, even when they know they are in the right).
    2) Knowing several police officers quite well, and listening to them talk about their jobs and their colleagues.
    3) The militarization of the police over the last 20 or 30 years. The use of tasers for pain-compliance is a good example of how the mindset has shifted (or hardened, or simply become more obvious).Report

  8. Damon says:

    “Latest version is the police patted him down but didn’t frisk him. Not sure what the difference is, but apparently what they did was more quick and used on suspects they don’t think are armed anyways.”

    Yah, doesn’t surprise me. Frankly, I think that’s sloppy work. The whole point of a pat down or a frisk is to confirm there are no weapons–for the officer and “detainee” protection.Report