11 Aug 12

This from a friend in the medical system:

“Milos Forman’s 1975 feature film, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ starring Jack Nicholson, based on Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel of the same title, made a clever and passionate case against in-patient care for the chronically mentally-ill.

That side of the argument eventually prevailed!

Mass murders of the innocent are nothing new, as pointed-out in your last Quip, but they are more frequent today than forty years ago, and the reason has nothing to do with guns!

Nearly every wanton murderer currently in the headlines is insane, practically by definition. After the fact, it invariably comes out that everyone around them, particularly immediate family, knew full-well they were insane. But, there was little anyone could do.

Here’s why:

Forty years ago, this society collectively decided that in-patient care for the chronically mentally-ill was not cool, an attitude reflected in the above-noted film. Thus, mental hospitals, and what used to be called ‘insane asylums,’ were, one by one, shut down. Residents who could conceivably be treated as out-patients (and many who couldn’t!) were unceremoniously jettisoned into the street to fend for themselves. The cynical euphemism was ‘main-streaming.’ Many, probably most, joined the ranks of the ‘homeless,’ as families, in many cases, wanted nothing to do with them. Some did rejoin their families, but subsequently received little in the way of professional care and treatment.

‘Neighborhood clinics’ that were supposed to assist them, for the most part, never materialized.

Most chronically mentally-ill never commit violent crimes, but among them there are a few extremely dangerous lunatics, and they are currently at-large in our society. They used to be called ‘criminally insane,’ although we’re not allowed to use that term any more. And, there is no mechanism in place for even monitoring them.

In fact, it has been said that the Cook County Jail in Chicago, and the LA County Jail in CA, are in direct competition for the dubious title of ‘world’s largest insane asylum!’

So, as a society, we’re currently suffering from this forty-year-old mistake. We do need mental hospitals after all, as does every civilization! The chronically mentally-ill will be with us, in one form or another, no matter what we do, or don’t do. There needs to be places where their families can send them for treatment. The only other choice, in many cases, is to abandon them, and that is currently the fate of many.

Pretending they are not there has not worked out well, as we see!”

Comment: At the risk of repeating myself, as a taxpayer I don’t like paying for mental hospitals, any more than I like paying for jails and prisons. However, as we’re learned, and continue to painfully re-learn, it is ultimately money well spent!