14 Aug 12
Comments on the subject of “sanity:”
“‘Sanity’ is a legal term, not a medical one. As a result of ‘mental illness or deficiency,’ is this person able to tell right from wrong, and able to control his behavior? Who can’t tell right from wrong, and/or know the difference but are unable to control their behavior are ‘insane.’ Who know the difference, but voluntarily choose to do wrong, are ‘evil.’ Of course, many claim the latter are insane too!
Predicting ‘dangerousness’ is not something we do well. Whether we are paroling inmates or hospitalizing the mentally-ill, we fail as often as we succeed. Flipping a coin would probably produce no worse results! Thus, we end up releasing people, or allowing them to remain at liberty, when they are genuinely dangerous to themselves and others and invariably re-offend the instant they are turned loose. And, we spend huge sums confining people who are ill, but probably harmless. On the other hand, where are they to go?
Every sheriff is thus the point of last resort. The chronically mentally-ill, be they dangerous or harmless, get arrested, and re-arrested, and dumped into our jails, because their families don’t want them, and there is literally nowhere else to put them.
And, our existing process attaches all kinds of stigma to any mental-health issue, no matter how minor, nor temporary. The result is:
1) Many do not seek treatment/counseling for depression and other temporary, readily-treatable conditions
2) Some are deprived of their right to own a gun, because, at some point in their life, they filled out a survey or mentioned to their doctor they were ‘depressed’ about something.
And, involuntarily committing people to mental institutions has been classic method for getting rid of inconvenient relatives for centuries!
And, for one, I don’t want a system where I am obliged to ‘prove’ I’m NOT insane before I can buy a gun, vote, or get on a commercial flight. History has repeatedly demonstrated that government ‘black-lists’ and ‘watch-lists’ tend to be one-way!
Still, it seems we have to have caring places where genuinely disturbed people can go, maybe permanently, rather than just abandoning them, or continuously moving them in and out of jail.”
Comment: I’m not sure there is a single civilization that confronts this issue in any kind of ‘enlightened’ way! I do know most of us take good mental health for granted.
We probably shouldn’t!
“Two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder”