Sunday, March 3, 2013

Put nuts in nuthouses

It's true that our former treatment of crazy people--or of people who weren't, but whose relatives wanted their money--was often abominable.

But we've leapt from the frying pan into the fire. People who are full-bore psychotic can't be involuntarily committed for more than 72 hours. Crazy people prowl the streets of major cities and towns, harassing passersby and pooping in the bushes, and cost the taxpayers a fortune in ambulance and hospital fees from regular bouts of OD'ing on drugs/alcohol.

The fact of one extreme (our former treatment of crazy people) does not justify the other extreme (protecting their "rights" at both their and our expense). There is such a thing as the public good. Neither the public nor the crazy people are being served by the current system. One trait most crazy people share is that they don't believe they're crazy. So they won't commit themselves, they won't take their meds...but their craziness does not preclude some of them from plotting and then executing a massacre.

So you can't recide a litany of the abuses of the Bad old Days to justify the Bad New Days. Propose something that guards against the excesses of the past while removing the gaping failings of the present.

Currently society does NOT protect crazy people from themselves, from their families--who often live in terror of a crazed adult son, with the cops telling them their hands are tied--and from society in general.

The shooters at Newtown, Aurora, and Virginia Tech were all psychos, and it was obvious to everyone around them. This isn't always true but it is more often than not (Charles Whitman was not obviously crazy, for example, and I'm not sure the Norwegian shooter showed his psychosis either).

Drugs don't work because they stop taking them even when they do work. That means crazy people should be insitutionalized. I believe we can do this fairly, adding safeguards that didn't exist in the Bad Old Days,

It anyone thinks they have a better way, suggest it. I haven't heard one yet.

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