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March 09, 2018

We Have Clearly Failed The Mentally Ill: Maybe Forced Commitment Isn't Such A Bad Thing


A 'Bright Light,' Dimmed in the Shadows of Homelessness

In Sunday’s NYT there is a long article about a homeless woman who lived on a grate near Grand Central Terminal. She was seemingly intelligent, a Williams grad, and had a promising future snuffed out by mental illness.

What struck me was that some of those who had contact with her spoke of her death’s emotional effect on themselves, rather than an analysis of the issues and a suggestion of their own culpability.

That might be the crowning achievement of the progressive march through our institutions; that every event is viewed through an internal prism that bends the events back towards us. What they have taught for two generations is solipsism (thank you Jay Guevara for the perfect word) rather than the ability to observe the world around us.

Barack Obama was perhaps their greatest achievement; his obsessive fixation on "self" was evident in every speech, every public appearance.

I am not suggesting that anyone involved in this sad tale is directly responsible for this poor woman's death. But an honest appraisal of the issues instead of emoting about how awful one feels about her difficulties and her death is probably a more constructive way to deal with it.

What is ironic is that the majority (probably all) of the people involved and interviewed probably support the deinstitutionalization craze that has gripped America since the 1970s. I wonder whether a firm public policy of forced commitment would have helped this woman. My suspicion is that it would have. That is not to say that our institutions were wonderful, but an all-or-nothing approach makes no sense. We have moved the mentally ill out of sometimes awful psychiatric facilities into the revolving door of the street, prison and an early death.

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posted by CBD at 05:55 PM

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