Sunday, December 16, 2012

How about "Mental Illness Control"?

A Proper Response to the Connecticut Murders
[...] But no one can discount one over-riding issue that links every like event involving these types of mass murders, mental health. The Aurora, WV Tech and the Newton slayings all involve a significantly mentally ill individual.

We, as a nation, decided three or four decades ago, that we didn’t have the will or resources to create safe, reliable and appropriate facilities for those who suffer with mental illness. One reason we started to lose our appetite to deal with the mentally ill appropriately was the ever expanding definition that was being associated with the diagnoses. Eventually, every drunk and drug user was labeled mentally ill, and resources allocated to the mentally ill were quickly filled and demand for more and more and more resources taxed the mental health support system.

A history of tragic abuse in mental health facilities also came to light as mental institutions became the playground for every kook doctor who espoused a cure for mental health. With little or no oversight mental health institutions became a real life horror stories. One has to look no further than the lobotomy of Rose Marie Kennedy to demonstrate these abuses.

Thus, by the time the 1980′s rolled around mental health institutions were burdened with more demands for an every expanding diagnose and marked by the mark of abuse. Lost respect led to lost funding which eventually led to the closing of many public mental health institutions.

And, now, mental health, marred by expanded definitions, history of abuse and quackery, lost funding and lost public support, ranks low in the priorities of the American public.

We should realize that there are individuals, through no fault of their own, who suffer from mental illness, which needs to be recognized and dealt with. Additionally, families of these individuals need support, both in resource and emotional support. In return for this support the mental health community needs to stop the ever expanding definition of mental illness and separate those who choose to abuse drugs and alcohol from those who suffer from a non self-inflicted malady. [...]
Our country has had a long history of gun ownership, without these mass slayings. So what has changed? We used to lock up people who had serious mental problems. And now we don't.



Ian Random said...

They often critisize Reagan as governor and his closing of the institutions. I wonder that even if they were still around, can you imagine a lawyer not suing to let dangerous folks free.

Chas said...

It wasn't just Reagan, it was part of a wider trend at the time (as the above referenced article points out).

In California, at that time, many people on the political Left were complaining that the state was unfairly and cruelly detaining people in institutions who didn't need to be there, and abuses were occurring (as also referenced in the above article).

So Reagan did what they wanted, and let them out of institutions, to be treated as "out-patients".

So of course the Left then changed their tune, and said Reagan was a heartless Republican who didn't care about the mentally ill.

In truth, some of those people who were released didn't need to be institutionalized, but others did.

The result was mixed at best. I personally saw some of the bad results. Reagan played his part in it, but it's too easy to put all the blame on him. It was a trend of the time, and had bipartisan support, for many reasons, some of which were misguided.

In the 1980's, I lived in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. I knew some hippy types who were faking mental illness, so they could get treatment as outpatients, and be given strong tranquilizers and drugs they didn't need.

They then sold the pills on the street as recreational drugs, all the while laughing about how stupid the clinic doctors were.

Meanwhile, people who really needed help, sadly weren't getting it.

It's ironic that some of the Leftists who pushed for the release of the "imprisoned" mentally ill, then exploited the out-patient system to illegally scam drugs for their own financial gain.

I also see some irony in your remark about lawsuits. Excessive lawsuits against state run institutions were also a factor in closing them and releasing patients. The state couldn't afford the liability. And still can't. Reagan's long dead, the Governor now is a Democrat, so who's to blame now?