But they do load people in prison up with drugs, usually the cheapest ones available, like thorazine or haloperidol, which do horrific things to a person's mind and leave behind tardive dyskinesia, an incurable side-effect of the medications that remains after the medication is withdrawn.
As for clinically-determined mental age, it is used to assess an individual's competency in a number of legal situations. For example, a clinical assessment is done of mothers and fathers where there is some sort of child abuse in order to determine whether it is in the best interest of the child to restore the child's custody to the parents. You have it backwards: sexual abuse and/or rape triggers an investigation to determine who should have custody of the child, or whether the child should remain in the custody of the state.
As for the "mental health trap," I have a severe mental illness myself, Major Depressive Disorder. One of the symptoms of my illness was an inability to find joy or pleasure or happiness in anything. Because of this, I had absolutely no motivation to pursue meditation practice. In fact, it could and sometimes did make the situation worse.
Please forgive me if this sounds harsh, but you haven't mentioned any personal experience of yours that led you to conclude that there is a "mental health trap." Were you yourself on medications for mental illness? If so, which ones, and how much? What was the outcome of your use of them?
I ask because because I think it's a bit unfair to say "we're all mentally ill" and that medications for mental illness comprise some sort of "trap." In the same way that (I assume) you wouldn't say "we all have a skin color" and go around trying to tell Black folk what they should do to better their lives.
For me, medications are absolutely essential because I harm myself and others if I don't take them. The "first" step of the Eightfold Path is sila, promoting skillful behaviors rather than unskillful ones. Not treating my mental illness with whatever I can manage violates ahimsa. Violating ahimsa is unskillful because it promotes uddhacca-kukkucca, restlessness and worry. As long as that hindrance is around, I can practice neither samatha nor vipassana. I've wanted to be off-meds for a long time now - the side-effects are terrible - but I will not do it because I would harm others in the process.
But the idea that I can be "off meds" is unskillful for a second reason: it is based upon the idea that I am an independent entity. Which I'm not. I'm an interdependent entity. My actions affect others. It's only my delusional belief in an independent self that sees things differently.
This my experience, though, and everybody needs to make up their own minds. I offer it so that others might see what I did and the results I got.
I respect very much your thoughtful personal process that you so willingly share with us. Milarepa, the great Tibetan yogi saint (this is in response to your post in the discussion about Zimbardo's book), started off as a murderer, and killed many, before he entered the Dharma and met Marpa, his teacher. I have always respected and tolerated my emotions, even the very unpleasant ones, such as grief and rage, and have experienced what someone might term "depression." I just lived with the feelings, sometimes doing nothing or not much of anything for days, weeks, months, until the feeling/s passed, until there was a natural turning point. From feelings of intense loneliness, I have gone out and done things I later regretted, and each one of these experiences taught me that such actions do not bring happiness.
Many psychiatric medications are known to cause aggression, so the fear of harming others might actually have a physical/chemical basis, and may result from the medications or an unsupported effort to stop them. I have worked in hospital psychiatry with natural medicine, acupuncture and herbs, and have consistently been able to help people reduce their medication dosages and to diminish side effects (including "chronic, major, resistant depression"). I do not believe that long term use of psychiatric medication, CNS poison, is beneficial or necessary for anyone. Psychosis, various trance states, can usually be stopped in 1-4 days of psychiatric medication. "Mental illness" is rare in Tibet and Tibetan society does not and did not have mental institutions and only small prisons. Tibetan medical practitioners use herbs, taken internally, applied externally in massage or as incense, and nutrition, to heal mental/emotional imbalances.
In the ideal world we do not live in, your reasoning regarding rape - custody would apply. I have seen children abducted from parents without any basis, placed in institutions and raped, and then diagnosed as "having a problem" (non-specific) which is then used as further grounds for keeping the unjustly abducted child institutionalized. What do you say about that, Subhuti?
Your description of use of psychiatric drugs in prisons is horrifying; drugs are used as a convenient form of social control, for profit. Institutionalized people, whether in prisons, mental hospitals or other forms of warehousing, are a modern (probably since the steam engine, though I am weak in history) form of lucrative slavery that should be abolished.
I would like to suggest, if I may, that with appropriate support (meditation, nutrition, exercise, acupuncture/herbs, drumming, etc.), you may be able to reduce and eventually discard your reliance on psychiatric medication. You have a dharma practice, that does not give instant results, but is the most precious and most important medicine for the mind there is.
I recommend this excellent film, for natural methods of attaining and maintaining mental health:
Neuroscience and meditation research of and for healthy minds:
www.mindandlife.org (8 min introductory video to Mind and Life Institute)
http://www.psychiatry.emory.edu/PROGRAMS/mindbody/ (links to articles on depression)
May all beings be happy,