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Memories of the 28th Century

Treating the Insane

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For the last few decades the mentally ill have been treated largely on an outpatient basis. And, as I pointed out in my post on homelessness, most homeless people in the U.S.A. have some sort of mental illness. Some mornings a guy who believes a number of conspiracy theories sits near in Starbucks and treats me to his theories. Yesterday he admitted that he hears voices. This morning a quiet, pleasant guy I am acquainted with was punched in the face on a bus by a woman who is fairly mad. It is pretty common for people who suffer from mental illness to deny that they have a problem, and some claim that mental illness doesn’t exists; that it is a plot to silence them and their friends.

There were incidents of abuse of patients and the treatment may not have been ideal in the old state mental hospitals, but the people were taken care of, fed and housed, and they received some treatment for their symptoms, and they did get medical care when needed. Some of the ones who are on their own would do much better in a supervised situation, and there are some on the streets who should be kept in some place where they can’t hurt others or themselves.

I wrote a post about single-mindedness, but that beat around the bush. In fact, the mass murders in various places are carried out by people who should be in padded cells. Nearly all religious fanatics are quite mad. I don’t know details about the people who run DAESH, but the people who get involved and caught seem to be quite mad. But any example of believing something for which there is no evidence is irrational.

In the last fifty years there have been significant improvements in the treatment of serious mental illness, but cures have been elusive. The treatment of depression has several very useful drugs available, and schizophrenia treatment has improved somewhat, but the exact nature of schizophrenia seems not to have been discovered, and the patients tend to think that they are perfectly fine.

“Reports suggest that up to 60% of perpetrators of mass shootings in the United States since 1970 displayed symptoms including acute paranoia, delusions, and depression before committing their crimes.” Apparently there are people who dispute this, and the NIH link below is one such.

I haven’t found anything particular to what I was thinking about, so I don’t whether anyone has dealt with it, but I think that many mentally ill people would be happier and healthier, if someone was watching out for them. Can it be pleasant for a shopping bag lady to sit on the sidewalk and talk to herself? Wouldn’t she be better off, if she were in a lounge of a residential mental health facility? And wouldn’t the population at large be happier, if some of the noisier delusional schizophrenics were sitting at their own computers carrying on dialogues with millions of other such people in an online community, rather than stalking women and children or people that they perceive as potential threats?

I don't think that creativity should be stifled, nor should freedom be restricted unnecessarily, but the safety and well-being of the majority and the healthy living conditions of a minority are worth the cost and the reduction in personal freedom that would be results of re-establishing mental hospitals for those who might benefit from them, and for people who may become harmful to themselves or others. I don't think that the guy who gabs in Starbucks is likely to be harmful; although he has had many arrests for drunk and disorderly, but there is the guy who was hounded off Nantucket in suspicion of being a rapist. There wasn't enough evidence for an arrest, but that string of rapes ended when he and a friend left the island. The general public would be happier with him off the street, and it probably wouldn't bother him much, because he doesn't do much.

Then there is that woman who started a fight this morning. I don't know enough about her to know whether a residential facility would help her, but the general public would be a little safer with her out of the way. How many others are walking around free who should be watched to ensure they don't start shooting in a shopping mall? I don't know, and I don't know if any of the people who inspired this post will ever do anything dangerous, and I would prefer to let people live their lives as they wish, even if they are a little off their rockers, but it would be nice to have advanced warning of people who might open up with an AR 15 or and AK, or as the Japanese do use a long, sharp knife on a few dozen people.

I don't have a final conclusion for this one, but this is something that should be worked on.