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In the good old days, we used to lock people up

Clayton E. Cramer writes:

For the last three years, I’ve been trying to find a publisher for a book about the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill and the destructive effects on our society that it has caused. I keep getting told that no one is interested in the topic. (…)

In spite of much more restrictive gun control laws in Europe, they have a lot of these mass murders over there also.  (…)

What changed? Our mental health system is what changed — a movement towards emptying out mental hospitals and making it difficult to commit someone against his will. This is called deinstitutionalization. This is an idea so theoretically elegant that it has been taking place everywhere. (…)

The notion that large numbers of sane people were kept for no reason just has not survived my research efforts.

I will not claim that the public mental hospitals back then were wonderful places.  They were chronically underfunded from the 1930s through the 1950s, and even into the 1960s, conditions in some were the shame of civilized people everywhere.  (Ken Kesey wrote the novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest after taking LSD and going to work at a mental hospital, and the film by that name is not a documentary.)

PS: remember what I said about the homeless?

Let me tell you a story. In the late 1990s, a rather strange character showed up at the church we attended in Rohnert Park, California. Jim had been sleeping in the fields on the edge of town with his dog, getting around by bicycle with a little trailer for the pooch. He carried an impressive wad of cash, the fruits of a $600 a month Social Security disability check — and no rent to pay. (…)

Then he showed me the paperwork that had taken away his children. Jim was so confused that he did not realize what it showed.

Jim’s wife had been committed to a mental hospital, apparently because she had physically abused their children, and been found not guilty by reason of insanity.  After her hospitalization, Jim had been showing pornographic films to his five year old and his three year old, then molesting them.

PS: This issue is why I’m only 99% moved by the reaction of the father of the 9-year-old shooting victim. His principles are admirable and would be correct under different circumstances, and he were just talking about the 1st and 2nd amendments.

However, “living in a free society” most assuredly does NOT have to entail having to interact with/get killed by crazy people who should be in the nuthouse — “our” refusal to do so being the real cause of this tragedy.

RELATED: My valentine to Nurse Ratched.


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