The Mentally Ill, Down the Ages
we don't have a clue
When we talk about the mentally ill, and/or their treatment, we almost always mean dealing with the mentally ill in cities. Because the mentally ill in the cities tend to become a problem, e.g., Jordan Neely.
So, how were the mentally ill, or the mad or the insane or the crazy dealt with in the countryside? Says The Hospitalist:
The quietly insane were simply left to their own devices in the countryside. Those who committed crimes, caused a nuisance or posed a potential threat of either, though, were subject to imprisonment in the local jail.
I wonder what that means. I suspect it means that families sorta fed them. But I seem to recall reading somewhere about people chained in the basement. Maybe the insane did a bit of work in the fields; maybe people left food out for them; and maybe they often died from being outside and accident-prone.
But when people come to the city, things change. Take the case of Jordan Neely. Now that he’s dead, his father is expressing that “He was a good kid and a good man too.” And now Al Sharpton is involved. But where was the family when Neely was wandering the streets and the subway?
I’d say that once people move to the city they don’t have the time or the means or the inclination to look after the mentally ill. So the mentally ill end up on the street.
Or we institutionalize them. Bethlem Royal Hospital, also known as “Bedlam,” was an early effort to institutionalize the insane. And the Bedlam concept went worldwide with the development of the Lunatic Asylum.
One common theme seems to be that the last lot really screwed up with the insane. So, at some point it was decided that mental hospitals were a Bad Thing and that the mentally ill should be cared for in the community.
That’s why we have homeless on the streets. The mentally ill are people that aren’t socialized enough to be part of the community. So they fall to the responsibility of gubmint social service workers and mental health workers etc. And they don’t take their meds, and they use drugs and they don’t want to spend money on shelter because they would rather spend the money on drugs and they don’t want to follow the rules at homeless shelters.
In other words, the care of the insane is just as insane and screwed up as it always was. Of course, in our time we have liberals who always blame somebody else for everything. Because they know that they are the good guys.
My guess is that the insane will always be a problem and we will never know what to do about them, and we will always blame the previous generation for their callous and unjust treatment of people that can’t help themselves.
The problem is that we humans are social animals, and we really don’t know what to do with people that don’t meet the bar of base level social competence.
So we abandon the insane, or chain them, or execute them or imprison them, or hospitalize them or confine them or release them to the community. Until the next brilliant idea comes along.