It came as a bit of a surprise that Anders Behring Breivik is declared insane by court-appointed shrinks. Which is rather like calling him an animal. Breivik is appropriately offended by this character assassination, which should be enough to raise serious doubts about its validiy. They deny him moral agency, and I bet it even feels like an attempted disqualification of his activism, as if it didn't count after all. There is something deeply dehumanizing about being held unaccountable for your actions. Just like a dog or insect cannot be held to moral standards because they are incapable of moral reasoning and don’t know what they are doing in any moral sense. But is it true? Is he really “psychotic,” and has been so for years during meticulous planning? A "paranoid schizophrenic"?
I had not expected this conclusion, but if he was to be declared insane, I certainly would have guessed they would claim "paranoid schizophrenia." This is the stereotypical diagnosis used when psychiatrists want someone committed whom they can't find anything specifically wrong with. It's like taken out of a book by Thomas Szasz. Watching today's events reminded me of why I don't trust psychiatrists; why I will only subject myself to examination by them over my dead body. As expected, Breivik's insistence that he is sane is simply taken as evidence that he lacks insight into his own illness. Thus any attempt to reason with them will just result in digging yourself deeper into the institutional abyss.
So what does this supposed insanity consist of? Since the full report is secret (another flaw in our system), we are only given some clues, such as "grandiose delusions." It is supposedly delusional to envision himself as a future ruler of Norway. I agree that would be unrealistic to say the least, but being overly ambitious does not have to mean you are insane. By the logic of psychiatrists like Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr must have been psychotic to run for president in 2008 with no hope of winning, only to receive 0.4% of the votes. As Breivik is not found to be hallucinating, this type of "delusion" is the sole basis for their diagnosis. Another example cited is his desire to breed Norwegians and put them in reservations, presumably for eugenic purposes. While incredibly wrong-headed and unlibertarian, this does not qualify as a delusion either, as I see it. If Breivik is delusional, then Hitler and any number of despotic megalomaniacs must be considered unaccountable due to insanity, and that's not usually how we see them. Nor does killing 77 people for what you regard as the greater good inevitably qualify as insane, or any general in any war would be insane. How many civilians got killed in Afghanistan, again?
I believe cognitive liberty needs to be a basic human right, even for the worst criminals. It is a much worse fate to lose your cognitive liberty and be forcibly poisoned by toxic chemicals than merely be incarcerated. Psychiatric treatment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment equivalent to torture, in my view. So even if Breivik happens to be truly out of touch with reality, I categorically oppose sentencing him or anybody to psychiatric care. A desire to sentence him to a punishment worse than prison may have factored in, but ultimately I think the psychiatrists just couldn't help themselves, being as entrenched as they are within a framework of assuming power over individuals. In a larger sense, it points to the extreme conformism in our society. I encountered some of the same kind of bigotry at a public debate with feminists recently, where I was called delusional just for my opinions. And this was even coming from a former terrorist who was himself caught with explosives in Beirut in 1977.
I am offended by psychiatry claiming Breivik as another victim. Of course, my heart goes more out to all the victims of psychiatry who did nothing evil to deserve it. Paradoxically, the more heinous your crime, the more shielded you are from the abuses of psychiatric treatment. Peaceable patients do not have the benefit of a large public hearing before psychiatry starts messing with them. Law-abiding patients don't have the luxury of being confined to the relative safety of a regular jail while an independent commission is second-guessing their pyschiatrists. Instead they go straight to the asylum. Psychiatry rivals feminism as the worst social problem of our time. Arguably psychiatry is worse, since it violates your personal integrity rather than just imprison you. Indeed, if you are a victim of psychiatry, it is probably in your best interest (as well as a publicly beneficial act of activism) to kill a guard or cop in order to get a fair public trial and possibly escape treatment before it ruins your health completely. I have previously written laudatory posts about a man who killed a cop trying to apprehend him for forcible drugging. He turned out to be so dense as to testify in court he thought the cop was a burglar and killed him by accident, and so he blew it. The upshot in this case was just a sentence back to the asylum, just like Breivik is facing, but at least you have a shot to plead for prison rather than psychiatric abuse under a great deal of media attention if you make a criminal out of yourself rather than just another nameless victim of psychiatry. There is still a small chance Breivik can pull this off when he gets his day in court.
I would agree that if someone is so out of touch with reality that he genuinely was unaware of what he did, then it does not make sense to hold him criminally accountable. I still oppose forcible psychiatric treatment, which is always a moral travesty under any circumstances. There is simply never any justification for violating someone's cognitive liberty. A civilized, humane society would always offer at least the option of regular imprisonment to the criminally insane, upon conviction by an ordinary trial. Now if they desire psychiatric care, that is another matter, but it is unethical to force this on anybody, not least because neuroleptics have horrible side effects which shave decades off your life expectancy. I have seen my own grandfather suffer tardive dyskinesia due to psychiatric coercion, though somehow he still managed to reach old age. Now I realize iatrogenic adverse effects from somatic medicine can be just as bad, but at least you have the option to refuse treatment. Medicine should operate on the basis of informed consent, or it does not deserve to be called medicine at all.
Finally I want to condemn the Norwegian barbarity of "preventive detention" (forvaring). One upside of being declared insane is you are not actually eligible for this, but lots of criminals are. The maximum sentence for any crime is ostensibly 21 years (soon to be extended to 30 for terrorism), yet even relatively minor crimes (especially feminist sex crimes) can get you preventive detention instead, which is a potential life sentence as it can be indefinitely extended as long as you are deemed likely to commit more crimes if you are released. This is incredibly hypocritical and has no place in any fair justice system. It really makes my blood boil to lock people up for hypothetical crimes not yet committed, and if you think longer sentences than 21 years are justified, which is not a point I am arguing with here, then that should be the sentence in the first place.