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People Who Resist Authority, Stand Up for Privacy, Could Be Classified As Mentally Ill

Nov 15, 20105 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

If you resist authority or are a nonconformist who speaks up in defense of freedom and privacy, then some psychiatrists might recommend that you should be "cured" or locked away in a mental institution.

If you are a nonconformist who speaks up in defense of freedom and privacy, then you might be interested to know that some psychiatrists might recommend that you should be “cured” or locked away in a mental institution.

Does it really annoy you when governments spy on citizens, such as the Fed’s proposed plan to place government-mandated back doors in encryption software and all communications systems? Do you support the EFF which urged people to stand up and defend privacy? When you found out that spying on free speech is nearly at a Cold War level, or that the FBI spied and lied about improper surveillance, did you feel outrage at the loss of privacy and civil liberties? Does that make you mentally ill and in need of being thrown in a prison-like mental institution?


I received a bizarre email tip, pointing me in the direction to write this article. If you are a nonconformist, resist authority, or a Constitutionalist, then you could be “cured” by being re-educated and popping pills since these traits are considered a mental illness.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association, nonconformity and freethinking is a mental illness labeled “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD. If psychiatrists follow the Fourth Edition of DSM diagnosis guidelines, people who stand up for privacy and freedom might be labeled as mentally ill.

U.S.G.W.O. reports that it has confirmed “basically that anyone who disobeys authority or even questions authority is now considered mentally ill and can be thrown in a prison-like mental institution under tax payers dollars.” I haven’t read the entire book, but U.S.G.W.O. states that according to the psychiatric manual the following people would be diagnosed as having ODD:

  • Freethinkers
  • Constitutionalists
  • Oath Keepers
  • Nonconformists
  • Peaceful Activists
  • Peaceful Resistors
  • Those who partake in Civil Disobedience
  • Those that question Authority
  • Highly creative artists

Okay, I’m no doctor but this seems insane! Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States and one of the main authors of the Declaration of Independence, has been labeled a freethinker. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, is considered a “framer” of the Constitution who stated, “Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Would America have been better off without these men? I most seriously doubt it.

Does this mean that some of the brightest minds in security research would be considered defiant (another ODD characteristic) by testing software limits? Someone has to find the flaws and then patch them. Security expert Bruce Schneier speaks up for privacy, freedom and civil liberties. He is known for pointing out security theater and even joined privacy group EPIC to challenge TSA body scanners as the primary screening technique in U.S. airports. Mentally ill? Pahleeze! More like a brilliant and respectable person in favor of privacy.

If a person would pick and choose only certain aspects of oppositional defiant disorder, then it seems most anyone could be labeled as being mentally ill with ODD.

According to DSM:

The essential feature of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least 6 months and is characterized by the frequent occurrence of at least four of the following behaviors: losing temper, arguing with adults, actively defying or refusing to comply with the requests or rules of adults, deliberately doing things that will annoy other people, blaming others for his or her own mistakes or misbehavior, being touchy or easily annoyed by others, being angry or resentful, or being spiteful or vindictive.

Well that pretty much sums up teenagers as a whole. Being diagnosed with a mental illness would not be the end of the world. Off The Grid News stated, “New mental illnesses identified by the DSM-IV include arrogance, narcissism, above-average creativity, cynicism, and antisocial behavior. In the past, these were called ‘personality traits,’ but now they’re diseases.”

Off The Grid News explains that it is not unheard of for governments such as the Soviet Union to use mental illness for political repression. “People who didn’t accept the beliefs of the Communist Party developed a new type of schizophrenia. They suffered from the delusion of believing communism was wrong. They were isolated, forcefully medicated, and put through repressive ‘therapy’ to bring them back to sanity.”

As adults, most of us, even if we resist authority, probably do not need to worry about being wrapped in a straight jacket and thrown into an institution for the insane. But if a person has only one or so of these traits and starts to get labeled as mentally ill with ODD after speaking up for their rights, then we might need to worry the condition could be used as a weapon to silence dissent. Keep it in mind if you are a nonconformist…there is the potential for abuse.

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.