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Brain dump from elsewhere, feel free to rip it off:

Widespread homelessness among the mentally ill can be traced back to the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s and 1970s and the influential works of writers such as Thomas Szasz, Erving Goffman, Ken Kesey, and R.D. Laing. These authors maintained that sufferers of mental illness were a kind of political prisoner to an unjust social structure and that they were "really just marching to a different drummer and should be free to do their marching in the streets," and so paved the way for the wholesale deinstitutionalization of mentally ill individuals in the U.S. When many of them ended up homeless and alone, posing a danger to themselves and sometimes to others, civil liberties activists "snuffed out any lingering possibility that the state hospitals and the community mental health centers might treat the vast majority of the seriously mentally ill" by reinterpreting their condition of homelessness as a state of emancipation.

It wasn't Ronald Reagan, but the mainstream media hated him so they made sure he ended up with the blame.

"Joyce Patricia Brown (perhaps better known as Billie Boggs) was a homeless person who defeated New York City's efforts to force her into a psychiatric treatment program. Her case set legal precedents for forced psychiatric care which have hamstrung involuntary psychiatric commitments of the homeless in New York and elsewhere.

Robert Levy, a staff attorney from the New York Civil Liberties Union (a state ACLU branch), defended her in court. On January 15, 1988, State Supreme Court Justice Irving Kirshenbaum ruled that New York City could not forcibly medicate Brown. Shortly thereafter, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Lippmann ordered her released, in part because although she was mentally ill, her behavior was not obviously and immediately dangerous to anyone. She was released in late January after about eleven weeks of involuntary commitment and returned to the streets."


Basically, the ACLU and the usual left-wing suspects went to court to fight for her right to live in a subway grate and throw her feces at passerby.

the Rosenhan Experiment from the early 1970s. Psychologist David Rosenhan wanted to reveal the poor conditions of some mental hospitals and developed a test: eight perfectly healthy individuals (including himself) from different backgrounds went to psychiatrists and explained that they had been hearing voices repeat the words "Empty," "Hollow," and "Thud" non-stop in their heads (the words were apparently chosen because they sounded vaguely nihilistic). All eight were admitted to mental hospitals, where they proceeded to act normal and say that the voices had stopped—and all eight ended up having to admit to having mental disorders and take antipsychotic drugs.


The state hospitals incarcerated non-criminals against their wills in inhumane conditions. This was a violation of due process and their civil liberties. There is STILL public funding for mental institutions. However, people now must either be there because they are a danger to themselves or others, they have voluntarily checked in, or they are criminally insane. Especially now that we have drugs to successfully treat most forms of mental illness so that people can function in society, the involuntary incarceration of the insane has no legal or moral basis. Especially since they were widely used to shut up undesirable mentally handicapped people, too, and a number of reports revealed that many of the so-called insane may not have been any such thing. It was a good way to get rid of a troublesome wife, though, if you have a doctor willing to sign the right papers....

BTW, they TRIED to clean up the enormous human rights abuses of the state hospitals many, many times before they were finally shut down. It. Never. Worked. As long as people who couldn't speak for themselves were confined against their wills, they were abused.

John Pepple

I know a woman who would have been locked up under the old rules. However, she is now free, though under supervision (I don't know the details). It is possible that she is guilty of a crime, for I was told (third hand) that she didn't bother to call 911 for her landlord, who had fallen and may have had a stroke, but went off to some party. When she returned, he was dead.

I don't know if this is what people are thinking of when they talk about someone's being a danger to others.

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