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Memories of the 28th Century

Loss of Reason

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I was thinking about the decrease of rational thinking that has been apparent in public discourse in America in recent years. Thinking about the time period and other things that were going one made me wonder if there was a relationship between decreased logic in public discourse and the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill. Did the fact that the mentally ill no longer were kept away from the general population suggest that irrationality was acceptable? I am hesitant about writing this, because there is little evidence, but blogs are for opinion even if the opinion is not completely supported.

But consider that for hundreds of years he mentally ill had been segregated whether in private houses or in public institutions. The public asylums were

This isnít something that I am certain about, but there appears to be a cause-effect relationship, and the timing appears to fit. I am referring to the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill and deterioration in discourse and actions. There isnít enough evidence to prove that closing the mental hospitals led an increase in mass killings, but the correlation in timing and the potential for the closings allowing people who should have been closely supervised to live on their own is suggestive.
On the other hand, it is not desirable for everyone to behave the same, and the is evidence that some of the people who would be expected to make determinations about mental fitness have problems along that line themselves.

Since the late 18th century housing and assistance had been provided for greater numbers of the mentally ill. Originally the mental asylums had been for warehousing them out of the public view, but attempts were made at improving their mental states. That continued until after WW II, when there were calls for better treatment for the mentally ill, even though they would have been sleeping on the streets if not for the asylums. There were problems with treatment and conditions, but the asylums were underfunded, and the people running them did as well as they could with available resources.

Actually, releasing people from mental hospitals began in small numbers in the 1950ís and accelerated in the 1970ís, when Massachusetts started closing its mental hospitals, and the process was mostly complete by about 2000; although there still are mental institutions for the criminally insane, and there are facilities for trying to treat them. I remember when the releases started in Massachusetts, and a politician came on the news program and explained that the patients would be going to community treatment centers, and ďDonít worry. They wonít be on the streets.Ē A few weeks later, I was in Boston and saw my first homeless person camped on a sidewalk. It was sad but inevitable.

Since then the homeless population has climbed dramatically, and that population is composed of drunks, criminals, and the mentally ill and mentally retarded. In addition to the people from the institutions, a dramatic decrease in low-skill manufacturing jobs has forced people into homelessness. But that hasnít been the only result. Since the 1970ís, political discourse has deteriorated during the same period.

Even rotten politicians like Nixon were capable of sounding and acting rational, but after Carter, things fell apart. Reagan was sort of humorous, but out-of-touch with the real world. Clinton ended up being truly delusional, and W, Obama, and Trump seemed to be in their private worlds. It was bad enough that they were generally regarded as crazy, but great numbers of Americans were so misled that they believed those loonies and voted for them. And it is the wide-spread willingness to accept insanity that is the worst part.

There have been mass murders for a long time, but two factors are making them seem more common. Such evens are more widely reported, so an event that would have been a local tragedy a few decades ago is now being reported to the world, and there have been court decisions that bar the involuntary committal of insane persons who have not broken laws or been determined dangers to themselves or others. And one day they may become dangers to others in a sudden way. It is difficult to have someone observed for determination of mental condition until after they do something. But if there are no formal findings against them, they can buy firearms.

Then there are the people on the Autism Spectrum, many of who are quite high functioning but do not have the critical judgment to tell that they are less than completely rational. They are like schizophrenics, who suffer with the delusion that they are right and the rest of the world is wrong, but I will leave it here, because it can get messy.

I am not intimately familiar with the operations that treat and observe the mentally ill; although I regularly deal with people suffering from various mental illnesses, and I think they would do better, if there were public institutions where they could live and perhaps be treated. There are even more people who would be better served, if there were simple manufacturing jobs that might provide them with enough to pay for a place to live and necessities. There were such jobs until a few decades ago, when those functions were exported as a cost saving measure. A few changes in the tax code would make it cost effective to bring those jobs back to the U.S.A.

A country can be judged by how it treats the least fortunate citizens. This blog suggests improvements in job creation and in the treatment of the unfortunate.


  1. tonywalt's Avatar
    eh, I'm gonna have a martini at 5pm.
  2. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    5 here and I'm having on now. Cheers!