Asylums

How can anybody say that bringing back insane asylums is a bad idea? I’ve lived in places where severely disturbed people wandered the streets en masse, creating an intolerable situation for everybody and experiencing conditions of extreme indignity. Throwing them all out in the streets and destroying the institution of asylums was a huge victory for neoliberalism. It’s urgent that insane asylums should come back.

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8 thoughts on “Asylums”

  1. They need to come back, but they also need to be well funded so that skilled workers can be hired, and they need rigorous oversight.

    I get why the thought of them makes people squeamish, but it’s not any more kind to throw people out to live on the streets with no oversight, and no guaranteed access to food, medication, healthcare, etc.

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  2. You couldn’t be more correct about this! I remember back in the 1970s when states with large psychiatric hospitals like California and New York began closing them and dumping seriously mentally ill people on the streets. The idea was that the states would replace the hospitals with multiple small outpatient clinics (most of which never got built) and that the patients would periodically come voluntarily to the clinics for medication and treatment (most patients wouldn’t — they don’t consider themselves in need of care). It was a sociological disaster, and situations like the homeless encampments in California are a disgrace.

    Unfortunately, today there would be significant legal problems with resuming involuntary confinement of severely mental ill persons. “Social justice” activists and organizations like the ACLU would bring lawsuits claiming that those persons have a “right” to be “free” to live in alleyways and under bridges and eat out of dumpsters without interference by the government.

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    1. This is yet another example of when neoliberal mentality was in sync with the progressive thought. Keeping people in insane asylums was oppressive because Michel Foucault had said so. And incidentally it was also profitable to kick them out into the streets.

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      1. “it was Reagan and his budget cuts that did this.”

        Deinstitutionalisation lawsuits began in the early 1970s in the U.S., and closure of some state psychiatric hospitals was underway by 1975. Look it up yourself.

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        1. Yes, I know Reagan was governor of California from 1967 to 1975, but he had nothing to do with all the state hospital closures in other states like New York .

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        2. Yes, Lanterman–Petris–Short (LPS) Act, Reagan 1967, went into full effect 1972. This was the start of it all. Reagan was Governor from 1967 to 1975 and it was devastating.

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  3. Similar situation here in the UK. All the asylums were closed down in favour of ‘care in the community’, which of course is non-existent. People in need of acute care arrive at A & E which is very over stretched and finding beds for them is a lottery, especially for young people who can be sent to secure units hundreds of miles from home and family.

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