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Christine Wilhelm: "Mentally Ill" Victim or Murderer?
July 8, 2003
by Todd Andrew Barnett

Christine Wilhelm, the mother who stands accused of murdering her four-year old son Luke by drowning him in a bathtub in their home near Vermont on April 16th, 2002, has become the latest poster girl of the mental health field establishment. Like Andrea Yates, she is the newest epitome of a profession, which has long since "lost its marbles" -- in a manner of speaking.

Wilhelm's psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Price has just testified before the court that his client was unable to distinguish right from wrong at the time of the incident. Please bear in mind that she pled not guilty by reason of insanity at her arraignment hearing. This is certainly a chilling reminder of the events of the Andrea Yates Trial, in which that mother claimed that she was "convinced" that the devil was tormenting her five children and told her to kill them. Let's not forget that she was convicted of drowning her five children in that case.

Wilhelm even testified before the jury that she committed the murder and attempted to drown her other son Peter (who was five at the time) in an attempt to "save" them from her husband Kenneth Wilhelm, who was said to have been sexually abusing them. (This was actually repudiated by the authorities during the investigation.)

Park Dietz, the famed forensic psychiatrist who examined famous murderers such as Andrea Yates, Susan Smith, and Jeffrey Dahmer, made a 10-hour videotaped interview with Wilhelm (the tape was played before the jury last week by the way) and testified before the court that she was capable of determining right from wrong. Moreover, while we're on the subject, he then admitted to the court that he wasn't, according to Yahoo News, able to determine "whether the defendant knew the difference between right and wrong at the time of the killing."

But didn't both Dietz and Price testify that Wilhelm suffered from schizophrenia at the time? They most certainly did. Of course they even said that it was, according to Yahoo News, "possible that she wasn't able to tell the difference between right and wrong" when she killed her young, little son.

Oh, and while we're at it, Wilhelm's defense attorney Jerome Frost publicly noted early on in the trial that she "believed" that her husband and several members of a Satanic cult (of whom her husband was allegedly a member) were "going to torture the children" and "make them ritual human sacrifices."

If one takes a good hard look at this case, he can easily surmise that this is eerily equivalent to a modern, secular form of demonic possession. Psychiatrists and psychologists are today's secular version of Catholic priests and exorcists.

Those statements were indeed made during the proceedings. But don't they prove anything about Wilhelm? No, not at all.

Psychiatrists are not experts in mental illness, regardless of what they claim. They don't see this so-called condition. In their eyes, the only things they do see and hear are behavior and speech. Ergo the assertion that Dr. Price makes -- one in which he initially says that she couldn't distinguish right from wrong -- is not based on real, legitimate science but rather on junk science and an unfounded leap of faith. It signifies an inference from behavior to disease without any documented, scientific facts to support it.

That leads us to an important question here: aren't "mental illnesses" brain diseases? That is precisely what the mental health profession repetitiously tells us, considering that an enormous amount of tax subsidies has a great deal of influence on this issue. However, if "mental illnesses" are really brain disorders as we are led to believe, then why is it that pathologists never find them during autopsies?

True brain disorders are not legitimate justifications for murder or even attempted murder. Genuine disorders, such as Parkinson's, epilepsy, and Tourette's Syndrome, can't be used to cop the insanity plea when sufferers of those conditions commit murder. (Bear in mind that they can't be coerced to accept treatment against their will.)

Prominent libertarian psychiatrist and psychiatric pundit Dr. Thomas Szasz notes that true brain illnesses can induce paralysis or even unconsciousness, but they cannot compel one to act against his own will. Such a course of action, he points out, requires a choice based on morality and a conscious act of volition on his part. For that reason it is why we hold individuals accountable for their own actions. False brain illnesses and unproven mental illnesses, when disguised as "brain disorders" and "mental illnesses," should never be employed to absolve people from their crimes. (Face it -- the mind is not a real, human organ.)

According to Dr. Lawrence Stevens, J.D. at the Antipsychiatry Coalition, the blind faith in mental illness "as a nonbiological entity requires a more lengthy refutation than the biological argument." He even goes onto state the following: "People are thought of as mentally ill only when their thinking, emotions, or behavior is contrary to what is considered acceptable, that is, when others (or the so-called patients themselves) dislike something about them. One way to show the absurdity of calling something an illness not because it is caused by a biological abnormality but only because we dislike it or disapprove of it is to look at how values differ from one culture to another and how values change over time."

The public reaction to Wilhelm and others of her ilk tells us more about ourselves than about her. We would rather believe that vile acts are correlated to illness rather than to evil people. Why are we as a society willing to bank on the belief that she couldn't help herself and that there was no way she could have committed these crimes as a matter of choice? The reason is that we cannot imagine any other reason for these barbaric acts. It's not surprising, considering that individuals are reasonably accustomed to life's daily responsibilities, rigors, and conflicts and that they would have great difficulty in seeing that. This truly affirms that life has its complications, especially when they include human abilities to muddle their way through them.

And while we utilize the copout that the human mind can become ill and force people to become dangerous, just to shield murderous criminals from the consequences of their crimes, we use the mental health laws at our disposal -- laws which mandate the incarceration (in the guise of "hospital commitment") of law-abiding citizens.

That's the real crime here. It's a pity that our society can't see it.

© 2003 by Todd Andrew Barnett. All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint any portion of or the entire article is hereby granted, provided that the author's name and credentials are included.

Todd Andrew Barnett is a contributing editor and columnist for Liberty For All Online Magazine. He is also a staunch Libertarian Party activist and is the co-founder of the pro-peace libertarian organization Libertarians for Peace. A practicing Aridian Wiccan, he resides in New Baltimore, Michigan.

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