This article by the National Alliance on Mental Illness is short, sweet and to the point.  What is mental illness? What are the facts about mental illness?  I imagine this article was developed as an infographic at one time.  The reason I am posting it here is the frank and easy to understand  language used.

This article addresses what mental illness is and what can be done to treat the disorders of mental illness.  The facts are chilling and the cost of not treating mental illness in our population is astounding.

Maybe if more people were to understand what mental illness really is, we might get more funding for mental health treatment in this country.

Please read the article at the source.  While there, why not browse around and check out some of the other articles available.  Knowledge is power.



Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

In addition to medication treatment, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and other community services can also be components of a treatment plan and that assist with recovery. The availability of transportation, diet, exercise, sleep, friends and meaningful paid or volunteer activities contribute to overall health and wellness, including mental illness recovery.

Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:

  • Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence. Mental illness falls along a continuum of severity. Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that One in four adults-approximately 57.7 million Americans-experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
  • The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers.

Read the rest of this article at the source here.

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Borderline Personality Disorder

As a retired psychiatric nurse, I can attest to the frustration everyone experiences when dealing with someone diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.  Because this diagnosis is an Axis II diagnosis, it is not as significant as any of the Axis I diagnoses–Major Depression, Bipolar Depression, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, etc.

People who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder often live a very chaotic life with impulsive, negative behaviors and a very unstable mood.  It is very difficult to live with and care for someone with this illness, but it is not impossible.

There has been a major breakthrough in the treatment of borderline personality disorder with the advent of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short.  This particular treatment is making headway in helping the persons with borderline personality disorder manage and change their behavior in order to stabilize their actions and thoughts.

I feel that this is the perfect place to give you the information you may need if you suspect you are living with someone with this disorder, or you fear you may have this disorder.  It is a diagnosis that is becoming fairly common in the mental health arena, but that is not to say that it is trivial or unimportant.

These individuals usually are crying out literally for help but the methods they choose are not easy to interpret for the lay-person.  Please read this article from the NIMH and then make use of the other resources they have to offer you.


Borderline Personality Disorder


Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.

Some people with BPD also have high rates of co-occurring mental disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, along with substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thinking and behaviors, and suicide.

While mental health experts now generally agree that the label “borderline personality disorder” is very misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.

Signs and Symptoms

People with borderline personality disorder may experience extreme mood swings and can display uncertainty about who they are. As a result, their interests and values can change rapidly.

Other symptoms include:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts
  • Having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality

Seemingly ordinary events may trigger symptoms. For example, people with borderline personality disorder may feel angry and distressed over minor separations—such as vacations, business trips, or sudden changes of plans—from people to whom they feel close. Studies show that people with this disorder may see anger in an emotionally neutral face and have a stronger reaction to words with negative meanings than people who do not have the disorder.

There is a treasure-trove of useful information as well as the rest of this article here.

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Postpartum Depression Likely to Recur

This is a topic that gets very little play time in the news and is relatively unknown to the majority of the population.  Postpartum depression is real and occurs regularly due to the fluctuation in hormones, the stress of delivery, the feeling of overwhelm at having a new person to care for.  Many women are just told to “suck it up and get over it” but the truth is that postpartum depression could last as long as a year and needs to be treated if the mother and baby are to bond correctly.

This article is very informative and gives really good information, so please do read it and let me know what you think about the topic.  There are very good links to other articles about the subject that you might also want to read so your understanding of this terrible illness is complete.  The period after birth should be a time for happiness and for mother-baby bonding and when postpartum depression occurs, it interrupts that process at a very crucial time.

Please click over to read the article and then spend a few more minutes reading the additional articles provided in the links.  You will be better prepared to deal with this situation if it occurs in your family.


Postpartum Depression Likely to Recur

Mood disorder seen in 1 in 200 new moms with no psychiatric history

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 26, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Women who have suffered from postpartum depression are more likely to go through it again after subsequent pregnancies, a new Danish study shows.

Postpartum depression occurs 27 to 46 times more frequently during subsequent pregnancies for mothers who experienced it after their first birth, researchers report.

These results show that women who have had postpartum depression in the past should prepare themselves if they get pregnant again, said lead researcher Marie-Louise Rasmussen, an epidemiologist with Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen.

Antidepressants or psychotherapy could help cushion the blow or even head off postpartum depression, Rasmussen said.

“In theory, psychotherapy is preferred but not always sufficient and not always available. Often, the general practitioner has to add antidepressant medication,” Rasmussen said. “Social support from the spouse and surroundings is also very important.”

In most cases, women can expect to shake off their postpartum depression within a year, the researchers found.

“Based on this data, we would think for most women who receive treatment, their depression should be treated and resolved in six months or less,” said Dr. James Murrough. He’s director of the mood and anxiety disorders program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Read the entire article here.

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The concept of schizophrenia is coming to an end – here’s why

Here is a wonderful article about the concept of schizophrenia that makes me both happy and challenged at the same time.  This article talks about how the diagnosis of schizophrenia may really be many different diagnoses lumped into one.  He argues for some type of psychosis spectrum disorder and each person who suffers would fall somewhere on the continuum depending on the symptoms displayed.

As a nurse, I am concerned about the disparities in life expectancy for those suffering with this diagnosis.  I think our method of treating the body and the mind separately may turn out to be part of the problem that lessens the life expectancy of the diagnosed schizophrenic person.

He also talks about the schism between the nature vs nurture factions in the concept of schizophrenia.  He states that there is growing evidence to support both factions, therefore reducing the need for outright conflict between factions.

I hope you click over and read this truly articulate and stimulating article.  I hope it gives you something to chew over and stew about as it has given to me.  Won’t you let me know what your thoughts are about this article?


The concept of schizophrenia is coming to an end – here’s why

August 24, 2017 4.43am EDT

The concept of schizophrenia is dying. Harried for decades by psychology, it now appears to have been fatally wounded by psychiatry, the very profession that once sustained it. Its passing will not be mourned.

Today, having a diagnosis of schizophrenia is associated with a life-expectancy reduction of nearly two decades. By some criteria, only one in seven people recover. Despite heralded advances in treatments, staggeringly, the proportion of people who recover hasn’t increased over time. Something is profoundly wrong.

Part of the problem turns out to be the concept of schizophrenia itself.

Arguments that schizophrenia is a distinct disease have been “fatally undermined”. Just as we now have the concept of autism spectrum disorder, psychosis (typically characterised by distressing hallucinations, delusions, and confused thoughts) is also argued to exist along a continuum and in degrees. Schizophrenia is the severe end of a spectrum or continuum of experiences.

Jim van Os, a professor of psychiatry at Maastricht University, has argued that we cannot shift to this new way of thinking without changing our language. As such, he proposes the term schizophrenia “should be abolished”. In its place, he suggests the concept of a psychosis spectrum disorder.

Another problem is that schizophrenia is portrayed as a “hopeless chronic brain disease”. As a result, some people given this diagnosis, and some parents, have been told cancer would have been preferable, as it would be easier to cure. Yet this view of schizophrenia is only possible by….read the rest of this article here.

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20% of Adults Have Mental Illness or Drug Problem

Here is a short article from WebMD.  The point of the article is to alert our lawmakers to the need to consider mental health as important as physical health because a large portion of their constituents could be in need of better access and better care.

Mental health has always been the step-child in the healthcare arena.  Mental health gets little to no funding, Mental Health gets no recognition.  Mental health care receives a pittance of the funding sent to healthcare in general.  This has been the truth for the last 25 years I worked as a psychiatric nurse.

It’s a shame that in a civilized country who spends billions on healthcare, the mental health system receives a very tiny part of that amount.  Visit a psychiatric hospital if you don’t believe me.  The buildings will be antiquated, the computer system will  be rudimentary if it exists at all, the environment for patients will not be very attractive, and the staff will be harried.  That is what we in the mental health field have to deal with; all the while trying to help really sick people get better.

Please read this article and maybe have a talk with your elected officials to see what can be done to change this terrible situation.


20% of Adults Have Mental Illness or Drug Problem

New Jersey is the mentally healthiest state, report finds

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Nearly 1 in 5 American adults deals with a mental illness or substance abuse problem each year, a U.S. government study says.

Oregon has the highest rate, and New Jersey the lowest, according to 2012-2014 data analyzed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Overall, almost 44 million Americans 18 or older had a diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorder in the past year, researchers said. They reviewed national surveys on drug use and health.

“The figures in SAMHSA’s report remind us how important it is to take mental health as seriously as any other health condition,” Kana Enomoto, SAMHSA acting deputy assistant secretary, said in an agency news release.

The overall national rate of mental illness was about 18 percent.

Read the rest of the article here

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Mental Health: More Than A Military Issue

This is a wonderful article from WebMD.  I was unaware of this organization and am certainly glad I read the article.  Please click over to read the entire article on the website.

I have always maintained that mental health care is the step-child of healthcare.  Because of stigma, because of shame, because of the “different”ness of the mentally ill–we tend to ignore or simply disavow the problem exists.

As a psychiatric nurse for over 20 years, I know the pain and suffering that my patients experience daily simply because no one tries to understand what they are going through.  I see people trivialize or ridicule the mentally ill.  I have never understood this phenomenon.  People get sick, period.  They do not ask to be sick.  They did not expect to get sick.  People get sick in their bodies but also in their minds.  In today’s supercharged environment that moves at the speed of sound, we all can fall victim to mental fatigue which can lead to mental illness.

I hope you join the movement to end the stigma associated with mental health in this country and around the world.  We all know someone who is suffering.  We all can do something to alleviate that suffering.


Mental Health: More Than A Military IssueMental Health: More Than A Military Issue

By Julie Edgar
WebMD Health News

Depression should be talked about with the same candor as say, diabetes. But we have quite a ways to go in recognizing what it looks like – and stripping away the shame attached to mental health conditions, says Rory Brosius.

Brosius is deputy director of Joining Forces, an initiative launched in 2011 by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to help military personnel transition to civilian life. Brosius’ mission is to promote wellness in that population and beyond — service members, veterans and civilians.

She’s broadening that conversation through Campaign to Change Direction, an initiative begun last spring that hopes to change the culture of mental health in the U.S. The campaign helps raise awareness of five key signs of emotional suffering.

“We’ve treated mental health somehow different than our physical health, but it’s part of our holistic wellness,” says Brosius, a social worker by training and the wife of Matthew Brosius, a Marine who is re-entering civilian life.

WebMD talked to Brosius, 33, about the campaign and the work she’s doing to promote psychological wellness, both among service personnel and their families and the general public.

Q. What are the 5 signs that someone may be suffering from a mental health issue?

A. The key part is educating people on these five signs: personality change, withdrawal, agitation, poor self-care, and hopelessness. They’re signs somebody may be suffering. If you see them, you can reach out and help them. Because there is support that is available.

Q: What are some misperceptions people have about mental illness?

Rory Brosius

Rory Brosius

A: There are quite a few, like, people with mental illness are violent or somehow unpredictable, when the reality is that people with mental illness are 10 times likelier to be victims of a violent crime. We have stereotypical ideas of what it means to live with a mental health issue. Another one is that people assume they don’t know anyone with mental illness, but 1 in 5 American adults has dealt with a mental health issue in their life. You look around a room, someone’s dealing with it, someone’s in recovery. You may not notice it.

Q: If the signs of mental illness are subtle, how do you make ordinary people aware of them?

A: It’s not so easy to detect because it’s something we don’t talk about. [But] there are things you notice that indicate that somebody’s in pain. Forty years ago people didn’t know how to recognize a heart attack; through education we learned how to read the signs. This is a sticky and hard issue for people to talk about …it will take time, but we’ve seen the same thing with heart disease and stroke and breast cancer — it’s a matter of education.

Q: What is the best way to support someone with mental health issues?

A: There are great ways to support somebody suffering, just by being empathetic, being a good friend, listening, you can learn a lot about mental health. There are great resources – mentalhealth.govNational Alliance for Mental Health – their whole mission is to teach people what to look for. In the age of the internet and Google, we have the ability to access that information at our fingertips. But really, just being there. Maybe the person would like you to go to an appointment with them or spend time with you….read the rest of the article here.


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Everyday Mental Health Conversation

Here is a very good article, written by someone with bipolar disorder, that makes good sense.  She points out how innocent words we all say can and do bring hurt and anxiety to those around us who are struggling.  We do need to do better with everyday mental health conversation .  We do need to be aware of how our words will be received by the people around us.

I know none of us willingly says or does things to hurt others unless we are very mad.  That said, even in anger, we still need to control our words.  Once out of your mouth, they cannot be taken back and some things cannot be fixed with a simple “I’m sorry.”

Please read this article in its entirety here and make up your own mind about how you should proceed.  Maybe this doesn’t apply to you.  Maybe you are always cognizant of the effect your words have on others and you speak deliberately.  But for the rest of us who simply blurt out whatever we are thinking at the time, maybe we need to do better with our everyday mental health conversations.

 We Need To Do Better With Everyday Mental Health Conversation

“It was so awkward that I wanted to kill myself.”

“Yeah no totally. She’s psycho.”

“That party was so packed. I was gonna have a panic attack!

“Can you just like… chill?

These words are not not merely “just words” ― they echo in the minds of those fighting the weight of a mental illness. They seep into everyday conversations as if it were simply ordering a sandwich or our usual cup of joe. But we speak these words without recognizing the damaging effects to those who suffer from mental health issues.

Upon the news of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington’s suicide, a wildfire of dialogue surrounding mental health ignited – from celebrities to survivors and everyone in between.

But this subject has, sadly, always been stigmatized because it’s too personal and the fear that speaking it out loud makes it too real. But here’s the thing: it is real. And if we want to prevent – or at least help – those contemplating or attempting suicide then we must climb over the mountain of fear and change the words we speak. And I will shamelessly say, I have been diagnosed with a mental health illness. So please, hear me out. I will not, nor do I have any desire, to sugarcoat any of it. Doing so will only undermine the truth.

These everyday phrases I’ve listed above have always functioned as an effortless way to describe our emotions in any given circumstance. But how do we if know we’re in the presence of someone in the middle of a depressive episode while declaring, “I’d rather kill myself than talk to my ex again.” But the issue is that whether we’re aware of it or not, these colloquialisms can impact those around us who may be suffering.


It makes us angry.

It makes us feel misunderstood.

Hearing you speak these phrases – even as a joke – isn’t a joke. For you, it’s a passive statement that means absolutely nothing. For us, you have no right. To us, though we know there’s no bad intention on your part, it’s frustrating that you can throw such jokes out so casually, and it can feel like it’s being thrown in our faces. We know that you may not know we have anxiety or depression or bipolar disorder, etc. But frankly, it’s just not your place to say such things when you have no idea what it truly feels like.

Do you truly know the pain of not being able to breathe, in the most random moments?

Do you truly know the complete desire to be happy while living with a darkness will not leave you?

Do you truly know the fear of voices that are so unreal but appear right in front of you?

So, real talk. You’re asking “will changing the words I say…read the rest here.

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Depression and Anxiety in pictures

Here is a wonderful article on Upworthy that shows us in pictures what it feels like to suffer from depression and anxiety.  The photos are by a photography student, but they are stunning in the way they capture feelings and mood.

I did not include the photos here, so please click over to view them.  They are worthy of your time.  Viewing these photos may help someone to better understand the struggle that depression and anxiety sufferers deal with daily.


12 grave photos that capture how depression and anxiety can feel.

She captured in images what can be so hard to put into words.

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Violence Prevention–Social and Economic Costs of Violence

Here is a natural follow-up to last weeks post.  Doing nothing about violence in our society is expensive and damaging.  Here is a study done to enumerate some of the costs and consequences of non-prevention.  Basically, we all stand with our heads in the sand and pray for violence to go away; while paying through the noses to deal with the effects caused by said violence–whether it be prisons, police departments, military, or just mental health treatments.  We all pay to support this.

Please read this study to the end and see if you don’t agree that we need to be doing more for prevention of violence than we currently are doing.  The connection between mental health issues and violence seems to be that the mentally ill are most likely to become the recipients of this violence and then need more and longer treatment to help them.


Putting a value on the impact of violence, while often an incomplete picture, provides evidence for investing in preventive interventions. Both enumerated and estimated costs—economic and social—indicate an enormous burden on public health. In particular, violence at specific points along the life span can have a greater impact. Also, addressing violence after it occurs, in addition to preventing the recurrence of violence, can be costly.

Thus, investing in early prevention can have significant financial benefit. It can prevent violence before it begins, or it can prevent the development of longer-term outcomes of violence.

The first paper in this section examines the value of prevention, by exploring the costs of violence and the costs of intervention. It also explores different methods of assessing value to highlight the importance of a number of perspectives on prevention.

The second paper is an example of a community-based preventive intervention that builds resiliency and prosocial behavior in individuals and the community as a whole. It also demonstrates the cost-effectiveness of prevention.


Rachel A. Davis, M.S.W.

Prevention Institute

Prevention has tremendous value, and there are many ways to think about its value in the context of preventing violence. Prevention is a systematic process that reduces the frequency or severity of illness or injury, and primary prevention promotes healthy environments and behaviors to head off problems before the onset of symptoms.

Ten ways of thinking about the value of prevention are the following:

1. Direct costs of not preventing violence
2. Indirect costs of not preventing violence
3. Savings due to prevention
4. Advantages of a prevention approach
5. Partnerships and multisector collaboration
6. A good solution solves multiple problems
7. Prevention works
8. Multiplier effect
9. Efficient government
10. Prevention reduces suffering and saves lives

Direct Costs of Not Preventing Violence

One way to appreciate the value of preventing violence is to understand the costs of violence. A single violent incident is far more expensive than many realize. For example:

  • Every fatal assault costs $4,906 on average, with another $1.3 million in lost productivity ().
  • Every nonfatal assault costs approximately $1,000 on average, with $2,822 in lost productivity ().
  • The economic cost of violent deaths was $47.2 billion in 2005. This includes medical treatment and lost future wages ().
  • The cost of sexual and domestic violence exceeded $5.8 billion— $319 million for rape, $4.2 billion for physical assault, and $1.75 billion in lost earnings and productivity ().

On top of the cost to the government and the taxpayer for each individual act of violence, add the expense of long-term incarceration for perpetrators:

Read the entire study here and see what you think about this topic as it relates to mental health.

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Gun Violence Research–Why can’t there be any?

Although I don’t see gun control as a mental health issue, really, it seems that anytime there is a shooting event in this country the very next topic will be to question the shooter’s mental health status.  I don’t understand this connection.

Yes, sometimes a mentally ill person uses a gun to harm someone, but that really is not the norm.  The only psychiatric disorders I know of that make someone more likely to use a gun for harm would be Axis II disorders of personality, not Axis I disorders.  Personality disorders are dangerous, but people with these diagnoses are productive and essentially normal except for how they perceive their connections and relationships.

These disorders, when treated, require much time and effort to overcome and usually there is no drug to “fix” it.  Borderline personality disorders have issues with abandonment, antisocial personality disorders have issues with empathy, narcissist personality disorders have ego issues.  True psychopathic personality disorders, while not found frequently in the general population, simply don’t care what any other person feels or thinks.

Where does this fit in with guns and shootings?  In this article, the Congressman who headed a controversial amendment in 1996 looks back at what he accomplished with great regret.  Good for him, but how do we fix the mess he left us all with?

Please read this article in its entirety and then make up your own mind about gun violence research.  Could good research over the past 20 years have made a difference in the situation we find ourselves in today?  I think it is possible.  What do you think?



10/06/2015 08:03 am ET Updated Dec 19, 2016

The Congressman Who Restricted Gun Violence Research Has Regrets

Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) authored the controversial 1996 amendment that remains in place. He wishes Congress would change it.

gun violence, gun research, gun control


WASHINGTON — Looking back, nearly 20 years later, Jay Dickey is apologetic.

He is gone from Congress, giving him space to reflect on his namesake amendment that, to this day, continues to define the rigid politics of gun policy. When he helped pass a restriction of federal funding for gun violence research in 1996, the goal wasn’t to be so suffocating, he insisted. But the measure was just that, dampening federal research for years and discouraging researchers from entering the field.

Now, as mass shootings pile up, including last week’s killing of nine at a community college in Oregon, Dickey admitted to carrying a sense of responsibility for progress not made.

“I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time,” Dickey, an Arkansas Republican, told the Huffington Post in an interview. “I have regrets.”

The politics of gun control were as divisive in the 1990s as they are today. Republicans had won big in the ‘94 elections by campaigning against President Bill Clinton’s gun control legislation. And in the spring of 1996, the National Rifle Association and its allies set their sights on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for funding increasingly assertive studies on firearms ownership and the effects on public health. The gun rights advocates claimed the research veered toward advocacy and covered such logical ground as to be effectively useless.

At first, the House tried to close down the CDC’s entire, $46 million National Center for Injury Prevention. When that failed, Dickey stepped in with an alternative: strip $2.6 million that the agency had spent on gun studies that year. The money would eventually be re-appropriated for studies unrelated to guns. But the far more damaging inclusion was language that stated, “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Dickey proclaimed victory — an end, he said at the time, to the CDC’s attempts “to raise emotional sympathy” around gun violence. But the agency spent the subsequent years petrified of doing any research on gun violence, making the costs of the amendment cleareeven to Dickey himself.

He said the law was over-interpreted. Now, he looks at simple advances in highway safety — safety barriers, for example — and wonders what could have been done for guns.

“If we had somehow gotten the research going, we could have somehow found a solution to the gun violence without there being any restrictions on the Second Amendment,” Dickey said. “We could have used that all these years to develop the equivalent of that little small fence.”

Read the entire article here 

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