Hum...I finally got a chance to read the transcripts of the original article...very very interesting. Thanks for posting that link. I think I'm going to read the book he mentions, Ward No. 6, which I found here
A danger to self...I think that anything a person does to him/her self is their choice. I don't believe suicide should be illegal. So, locking a person up for threatening or attempting it is wrong, in my book. I agree with Szasz in that there shouldn't be a law against coke, heroine, pot etc. There are consequences, but what a person chooses to do to themself is up to them, not the state. Nor, should the state "help" addicts, that is a consequence of their choice. Let the individual make their own choices, deal with the consequences, and hopefully learn from it.
Gravely disabled...I need more information on the definition of this in order to comment.
A threat to other...this too is hard to say. In what way? Was a person waving a knife around and threatening to use it against another? In your example of the acorn blowing up...true acorns don't generally spontaneously combust. But from this
article that is fresh in my mind
Title 18, Section 844 (e) of the US Code makes it a felony punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years to make a bomb threat, either real or bogus, using "the mail, telephone, telegraph, or other instrument of interstate commerce...."
, but that is across state, not in person in the same state. I guess the law would depend on the state.
For people that get their names in the system...I'm afraid that once a person is in the system's database, they're always going to be viewed as "insane" by cops. They will be considered guilty until proven innocent, in the same way criminals are after they've done time behind bars. That doesn't seem right to me. Just because a person has an outbreak of a "mental illness" doesn't mean they can't recover from it. When I got divorced, I was completely insane. I showed signs of manic depression, high on life one minute and too depressed to eat the next. Thank God I didn't go to my mother's shrink. I dealt with it and let the emotions run their natural course. Had I gone to a shrink, I would have been prescribed drugs. Now, if this had been a different "mental illness" and my behavior was different, maybe I could have gotten involuntarily committed. I don't think that is right. Especially when it comes to something that is just a temporary situation. With time, family, friends, work, communication, etc. I no longer show that same behavior.
I don't know at1with0. I think these are some really serious things to reevaluate in our current society. In the interview, Szasz made the claim that most who are involuntarily locked up are their because their poor, lonely, eccentric. But, nothing about them being a threat to society. I think the head of homeland insecurity is a threat to society and mentally ill...but not the poor, lonely or eccentric people.