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Free Minds & Free Markets

How the Government Fails to Help the Mentally Ill

Most funds don't go to those who need it most.

They live on the street, often foraging through dumpsters. Some threaten us. Occasionally, they assault people.

Thousands of mentally ill people cycle in and out of hospital emergency rooms. They strain our medical system, scare the public, and sometimes harm themselves.

Most, says DJ Jaffe, are schizophrenic or bipolar and have stopped taking their medication.

Jaffe gave up a successful advertising career to try to improve the way America deals with such people.

"John Hinckley shot President Reagan because he knew, not thought, knew that was the best way to get a date with Jodie Foster," Jaffe tells me in my latest internet video collaboration with City Journal.

Years ago, such people were locked up in mental hospitals. That protected the public, but the asylums were horrible, overcrowded places, where sick people rarely got good treatment.

"We decided we would largely replace that system with mental health care in the community," says Stephen Eide, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Community treatment made sense. Care would be easier and cheaper in the patients' own neighborhoods. Patients would be closer to their families, who could visit.

But community treatment never really happened. Politicians didn't fund it. Neighborhood mental health facilities were not popular with their constituents.

Many mentally ill people now end up in prison. "Prison is no place for somebody with schizophrenia," says Eide. "However, that's where they're going to remain.

Today, more seriously mentally ill people are locked up in Los Angeles County Jail, Cook County Jail, and New York's Rikers Island jail than in any mental hospital.

In jail, they barely get treatment. As a result, they stay in jail longer than other inmates.

"They get abused and victimized and thrown in solitary, and they can't visit their families," says Jaffe. "It's a horrific place to be."

America has some high-quality mental hospitals, but they don't have enough money to give the extended treatment that most seriously ill people need.

Jaffe says, "It's become harder to get into Bellevue (a New York City mental hospital) than Harvard. If you're well enough to walk into a hospital and ask for care, they're going to say you're not sick enough to need it."

Hospitals often practice what Jaffe calls "treating and streeting." The police call it "catch and release."

Jaffe says that a big part of the problem is that governments, instead of treating the sickest people, often offer "something for everyone."

That's a line from Chirlane McCray, wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio named his wife director of the city's program to combat mental illness. McCray promised to spend "almost a billion dollars" on "54 initiatives."

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    Mentally ill work as bureaucrats.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    Don't forget about academia (Christine Blasey Ford) and journolism (Dipshit Dave Weigel and others far too numerous to mention).

  • Kivlor||

    As it turns out, putting them in institutions was better than dumping them on the street. Who knew? But at least the libertarians and lefties get to say that they emancipated these people. "We're helping!"

    The more I think on this, the more pathetic, and honestly evil the left-leaning folks seem to me. "Oh, we can't lock them up! We have to leave it up to "the community" to take care of them." Meanwhile, the only viable alternative was expecting the pious religious to take up the slack, which is anathema to the left. Christianity--especially Catholicism--holds people together, and demands that the strong serve the weak. But endlessly you people attacked it, mocked those "prudes" and "beeleevers", trying to shun membership and participation in the thing that was most likely to help with this and most of the other social ills.

    It's almost like you wanted this situation, due to some deep-seated misanthropy.

  • Kivlor||

    Endlessly, the libertarians and other left-leaning folks have demanded open borders and more immigration, despite the well-documented effects. More "diversity" means less community engagement, and results in people locking themselves up in their homes.

    It's like every single policy you pursue is meant to destroy the things you claim you want. "The private sector will pick up the tab!" "We'll get the community to come together locally to fix it!"

  • sarcasmic||

    "The private sector will pick up the tab!" "We'll get the community to come together locally to fix it!"

    You defeated that straw man with a flourish!

    The libertarian question is whether something justifies force or not.

    Does treating the mentally ill justify force? That is the question. And no, I don't have the answer.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    FWIW, mood stabilizers such as Lamictal are far superior to anti-depressants over the long term than are anti-depressants. They level the hills and valleys which is preferable to drugging one into a state where you aren't even aware that the hills and valleys don't exist.

  • Kivlor||

    There's no straw man. this article is literally bemoaning how the communities never came together to fix it. And the libertarian answer to these and all social welfare problems is always "the private sector will take care of it"

  • sarcasmic||

    The article says that politicians never funded the community treatment. Politicians. Funded. That's not private sector.

    And the libertarian response to social welfare problems is that the private sector was doing a decent job until it was crowded out by government. Since the private sector is still being crowded out, it's not likely to take care of it.

  • Radioactive||

    and can only proceed within "approved" guidelines & methodologies...i.e. NO GOD STUFF ALLOWED!!!

  • Kivlor||

    There are 2 possible answers to the problem posed:
    1) the government steps in and creates mental institutes, then locks people up
    2) private communities step in and create mental institutes, then lock people up

    Option 2 is the libertarian purist view, which we see for all forms of social welfare. I added it because if I only addressed the government argument, you'd have come along and argued for "private communities" doing something.

    I did a poor job of pointing out they are 2 separate arguments and I was addressing both. Either the government does it--which you all opposed and brought an end to, while simultaneously arguing some other "government" called "the community" would do it; or the private communities do it, but you all have failed to materialize these private groups and have undermined and attacked the preexisting ones that would have done so.

    Either way, your policies have failed, and they were bound to fail if anyone had analyzed them from the start.
    Your other policies undermine them at every turn, so what is a man to think of them

  • sarcasmic||

    Google "excluded middle fallacy."

  • Kivlor||

    Why don't you go delineate the middle, since you think I'm excluding it

  • sarcasmic||

    I already said I don't have the answer. But I can recognize bullshit when I see it.

    The private sector is not going to swoop in and save the day because government has made it nearly impossible to do so. If government got out of the way I'm sure that there are people out there who could come up with much better solutions that the two that you provided. Alas we will never know, because government never gets out of the way.

  • Kivlor||

    I already said I don't have the answer. But I can recognize bullshit when I see it.

    This is hilarious to read on a libertarian forum. Isn't that one of the things you all bitch about all the time. "I don't know how to define it but I know it when I see it".

    So there's a middle, and I'm excluding it, but you don't know what it is, and can't describe it. But I'm the one engaging in the excluding the middle fallacy.

    You all really are a joke. A bunch of whiny children mad at your daddies.

  • sarcasmic||

    So there's a middle, and I'm excluding it, but you don't know what it is, and can't describe it.

    Yes. It is entirely possible to recognize something as being wrong without actually knowing what the correct answer is. That's how I have always managed to ace standardized tests. Not by knowing the right answer, but by eliminating the wrong answers. I'm sure that someone who is smarter and more experienced than me can come up with a better idea than your binary solution. My not knowing what it is doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

  • JFree||

    No the private sector will not address this problem because at core it is a NIMBY problem. No one wants to have these facilities in their area - esp because the folks who most need the facility are those who won't be able to pay for it. So a market problem as well as a NIMBY problem.

    The private sector will help create a 'solution' for:
    a)celebrities/execs/wealthy with minor/embarrassing addictions where they get the expensive 'quiet treatment' option at a vacation spa and the poorer go to prison and

    b)teenagers who are 'acting out' and embarrassing their upscale parents because parents (and to a lesser degree schools) still retain the legal right to commit children/minors involuntarily. And those centers are also going to be very isolated.

    The smaller-scale 'community residential/treatment center' was exactly what was needed - vs the large institutional/govtl insane asylum that is more like a prison. But America proved that we don't want that in our communities - so guess what we have now - large institutional prisons where we can shovel the mentally-ill who get too annoying for us when they are homeless.

    The only city in the US that is even trying to get their hands around the problem is Salt Lake City. And what they are discovering is that it isn't a problem that can be 'solved' or fixed. It isn't a problem where only those who care about can go a long way toward managing it so those who don't care don't need to think about it.

  • JFree||

    At core - the issue is what do people ACTUALLY believe individuals at the bottom of the ladder are?

    Are they individuals with natural rights - and if so are there natural rights that are being impinged that prevent them from climbing the ladder?

    Are they trash - where them being at the bottom is either a)their full individual choice/responsibility or b)an evolutionary/utilitarian judgment where it is worse for others if they do something than if they don't?

  • Echospinner||

    "Does treating the mentally ill justify force?"

    If you mean force against the mentally ill person doctors can violate liberty and autonomy in some psychiatric emergencies if the patient is deemed a threat to themselves or others. There are legal constraints and potential for lawsuits.

    I don't know what the answer is in libertarian philosophy. The NAP makes certain assumptions about individual autonomy and competency. How does that apply to a schizophrenic who says that his house is inhabited by demons who are telling him to kill his family and himself?

    OTOH if the person claims that he is in contact with space aliens and having hallucinations but is not threatening and otherwise mentally competent I do not think you can force anything.

  • ThomasD||

    "Does treating the mentally ill justify force?"

    No, it does not. Nor does any sort of self harm justify use of force.

    The way we used to deal with this is with laws against things like public vagrancy. If you wanted to live a short and fetid existence in a hovel on your own property, then so be it.

    Make a habit of doing the same thing in the public square and we'd give you a nice cot and three squares a day, in exchange for you not being able to leave the grounds of the 'dormitory.' At least not until you displayed an ability to comport yourself better in public.

  • King Lamoni||

    "Does treating the mentally ill justify force?"

    Yes, it does. Many mentally ill people are a danger to others, which is why so many end up in prison.

    I understand the argument for not using force before a crime has been committed, but when a mentally ill person is convicted of a crime, there should be a better place for them to go which would prescribe and monitor their medication in a way to minimize the danger they would pose to their fellow inmates and guards.

    That was an easy answer. Where it gets difficult is whether the government, doctors, or family should be allowed to use force and place mentally ill people in mental hospitals against their will because they believe that committing a crime is imminent.

    Either way, the fact of the matter is that we have far too few mental hospitals to treat the existing mentally ill population, and due to supply and demand, it is very difficult to get admitted to the few hospitals we have.

    I am less idealistic with my libertarian views than many on this site and while I am very libertarian at the federal level, I am more accepting of government at the local level. I am 100% against the federal government trying to fund a solution to this problem. I don't have a problem with cities and counties voting to fund mental institutions for their local populations.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Meanwhile, the only viable alternative was expecting the pious religious to take up the slack

    Where do you get this inference from? Actually, the liberal solution for the mentally ill has always been creating publicly-run facilities to help them. I don't agree that this is the best solution, but I also don't think that there was some organized campaign to de-institutionalize the mentally ill and then have them wreak havoc on society, a la The Joker's private army of miscreants.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    I also don't think that there was some organized campaign to de-institutionalize the mentally ill and then have them wreak havoc on society, a la The Joker's private army of miscreants.

    Right, nobody is to blame, the same as with all the consequences of everything you guys do. These things just sort of happen, as if by pure magic.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    The person responsible for an individual act of aggression is the aggressor him/herself, period.

    It is no more correct to blame "liberals and their lax attitudes towards the mentally ill" when it comes to an individual person committing a crime, than it is to blame "conservatives and their lax attitudes towards guns" when it comes to an individual person committing a crime (with a gun).

  • Kivlor||

    Where do you get this inference from

    What other group would you expect to do so? The secular atheists? Why haven't they?

    I also don't think that there was some organized campaign to de-institutionalize the mentally ill and then have them wreak havoc on society, a la The Joker's private army of miscreants.

    There was an organized campaign to do so, regardless of the consequences. The libertarians and left wing pushed it. These were the logical, foreseeable outcomes. Own it.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    What other group would you expect to do so? The secular atheists? Why haven't they?

    Why do you need to assert group identity on it at all? It's just a weird thing in general he's calling out. You just assume that only Christians would do anything, and then when asked why, you say "What you expect someone else to do it?" It's circular reasoning at best. So don't act so surprised when someone asks you to explain that.

    There was an organized campaign to do so, regardless of the consequences. The libertarians and left wing pushed it. These were the logical, foreseeable outcomes. Own it.

    There certainly was. But your other statement is basically that getting away from mass incarceration of people without criminal trial happened in a vacuum, that it was the only variable here, and literally no other outcome was possible from it. There are negative incentives and situations in place, not the least of which was a huge push to all spending to come from federal sources, that have had significant consequences as well. You're forcing a false choice where either we have incarcerate people against their will, or they come out and murder freely.

  • Kivlor||

    Okay BUCS, what other group would have organized to take care of this? Got some answer there? The magical "community"? What community? What specific option can you propose? Why hasn't it materialized?

    What fantasy could have come about, and how would it have?

  • Kivlor||

    Also, I don't think they get to come out and murder freely even today. I am arguing that there is a dichotomy--and it is not a false one--where we either commit the rare people with very serious mental issues to institutions in order to A) fix them and that failing B) keep them from harming themselves and others, and provide them a quality of life that would be better than leaving them destitute and helpless on the streets; or we leave them on the streets to suffer and inevitably harm themselves and others, to have no home and no hope.

    There's no third option. They don't magically get better because you eliminate the government or religion or the judgement of others. They don't magically stop suffering because you wish it. They exist, and many of them will and do refuse treatment, and you will be left with those 2 options.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    we either commit the rare people with very serious mental issues to institutions in order to A) fix them and that failing B) keep them from harming themselves and others, and provide them a quality of life that would be better than leaving them destitute and helpless on the streets

    That is already the case right now. What has changed from the past is the burden of proof for committing someone to a mental institution. In the past the standards were rather low. Now the legal standard is "clear and convincing evidence", furthermore, confinement against one's will can't be for mental illness alone, the person must be shown to be a clear danger to others.

    In the past, the abuse at mental health institutions (asylums, sanitariums, etc.) were less about political oppression, and more about just warehousing "inconvenient" people for one reason or another. The refuse of society were just thrown into these institutions regardless if they were truly ill or not, and it was a convenient solution all around (except for the victims of course) for how to "get rid of" all of these people from the streets.

    The state truly did have too much power to just throw people away.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    we either commit the rare people with very serious mental issues to institutions in order to A) fix them and that failing B) keep them from harming themselves and others, and provide them a quality of life that would be better than leaving them destitute and helpless on the streets

    That is already the case right now. What has changed from the past is the burden of proof for committing someone to a mental institution. In the past the standards were rather low. Now the legal standard is "clear and convincing evidence", furthermore, confinement against one's will can't be for mental illness alone, the person must be shown to be a clear danger to others.

    In the past, the abuse at mental health institutions (asylums, sanitariums, etc.) were less about political oppression, and more about just warehousing "inconvenient" people for one reason or another. The refuse of society were just thrown into these institutions regardless if they were truly ill or not, and it was a convenient solution all around (except for the victims of course) for how to "get rid of" all of these people from the streets.

    The state truly did have too much power to just throw people away.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    There was an organized campaign to do so, regardless of the consequences.

    "Why didn't those deontological libertarians think about liberty in consequentialist terms?? Those bastards!"

  • Kivlor||

    Or why are they bitching about the consequences of their policies, and trying to lay them at the feet of government?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Government was the institution that promised to take care of the consequences. Shockingly, they did not! Quelle surprise!

    In the "good old days" it would have been those decent religious folks who would have sent their "queer" cousins into involuntary confinement.

  • Kivlor||

    What government? "The community"? What community? No, it was those who tore down the existing institutions who promised that government would take over. No government ever promised to, and before you tore it down the state already did.

    You are being very dishonest chemjeff. What did you all expect, that magically the local cities would erect mental institutes and forcibly incarcerate these people? Maybe that could have been an option in large cities, but in smaller ones the funds never would have been there. And the large cities suffered from diversity, and thus never would have been homogeneous enough to have the community engagement necessary for it.

  • ThomasD||

    "You are being very dishonest chemjeff."

    What else did you expect? When his opening salvo begins with "I also don't think that there was some organized campaign to de-institutionalize the mentally ill and then have them wreak havoc on society" you have to know that it's not going to get any better.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Oh good heavens. The left-leaning solution has always been state-run facilities to take care of the mentally ill. Just not involuntary commitment. So I get a big LOL when I read these paranoid delusions about liberals who want to free the mentally ill from asylums in order to deliberately have them roam free in society wreaking havoc a la The Joker's army of miscreants.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Well, that was a repeat comment, LOL. Guess I need more coffee.

  • A nerdy Fred||

    >The more I think on this, the more pathetic, and honestly evil the left-leaning folks seem to me. "Oh, we can't lock them up! We have to leave it up to "the community" to take care of them."

    Look up which administration turfed sick people out of hospitals to "community care" which never got funded.

  • Trigger Warning||

    Some, like Dalmia and Soave, write for this very magazine.

  • Rockabilly||

    The Bureaucratic Mind is Totally retarded and needs help !!!

  • Peacedog||

    The article misses the point. Given current state of the art in medicine, you cannot help the severely mentally ill. You can only drug them into a stupor and cage them up.

    When men lose their self restraint and ability to reason, they become animals. Very dangerous animals.

    The left, and sadly many in the libertarian elite, seem more comfortable with the general population suffering at the hands of these dangerous animals than preventing them from harming the public.

    Freedom cannot exist without responsibility. Libertine behavior doesn't work as the libertine never pays the bill for those who are harmed by his behavior.

    If the elites do not want to authorize institutional commitment, then jails will do. You cannot effectively help the afflicted in this case in any event, you can only mitigate the damage they may cause to the rest of us.

  • chipper me timbers||

    "Freedom cannot exist without responsibility."

    Always the preface used by the tyrant when he's about to tyrannize you... It's in the same play book as "I support free speech but..."

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    What was it Ned Stark is quoted as saying in "Game of Thrones"? "Everything that comes before the word 'but' is horse shit". Something like that.

  • A nerdy Fred||

    > Given current state of the art in medicine, you cannot help the severely mentally ill. You can only drug them into a stupor and cage them up.

    False, as I know from my own family. A relative so bad off that she had to be committed got stabilized on medication that allowed her to continue her church and other activities.

  • ThomasD||

    Yep. But people who make such statements are often immune to the facts.

    Maybe that was the case back when Nicholson was filming One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest..., but medications have come a long way for people with psychotic or affective disorders.

    Personality disorders, OTOH, are largely not amenable to drugs.

  • Kivlor||

    But community treatment never really happened. Politicians didn't fund it. Neighborhood mental health facilities were not popular with their constituents.

    I really wonder how many people want a mental health facility in their neighborhood. Especially when the inmates are given to violence and delusion. Is Stossel trying to do something in his neighborhood to help with these poor troubled people? I mean he's wealthy, and undoubtedly lives among wealthy people who have the ability to not only push something like this through zoning, but also have the cash to help support it.

    Or is this more "someone should do something, but not me, my friends, or anyone even remotely near me"

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    At one point in our relatively small town the city opened halfway houses in various neighborhoods. Unfortunately they did not inform the people in the neighborhoods, nor consult with the people about the situation. So all of a sudden we were confronted with the sight of bedraggled individuals walking what had been quiet residential streets where children ran relatively free, some using drugs in the open, etc. Not surprisingly there were neighborhood rebellions. Were the people in the neighborhoods bad people? Not in their majority. And had they been made part of the decision-making process things might have worked out differently. But bureaucrats work from the top down, and so the overwhelming majority of these efforts failed and who took the blame? Three guesses and the first two don't count.

  • JFree||

    You can blame the bureaucrats for that initial decision - but the RESPONSE to that is clearly on the people in that community. They did not see the people in those halfway houses as part of their community (their own relatives down on their luck or beyond the help of their nuclear families perhaps) but as an imposition on their community and a danger to their community. Our kids are not ever going to be average. They are all above average. So their response is going to be to have that facility shut down - not to figure out where that initial bureaucratic decision was fucked up.

    And the reality is that even those in the community who know that those people in the halfway house are OF their community will face serious social pressure to deny it. To throw away even their own family if that will avoid the harsh social stigmas that attach to not being an exemplar of the 'of course we are better than average just like you'.

  • A nerdy Fred||

    > given to violence

    What fraction of mentally ill people do you believe are violent, and is your mind open to finding out that it's a smaller fraction than you believed?

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Government can't even buy a hammer without spending 100x the going rate at Home Depot, and cops can't even manage to verify a home address before a drug raid, but they are going to help solve this problem? I'm disappointed in Stossel.

    As for mentally ill being street animals, that's BS. The real animals, the dangerous ones, are the politicians. The better-than-everyone-else power-grabbers are who should be put in a cage and drugged into a stupor.

    The overwhelming majority of the mentally ill, at least in my community, are harmless. They collect cans for deposit and will occasionally ask if you can spare a buck, but not once has any of them worked to pass a law to tell me how I should live. The least I can do is return the favor.

  • Peacedog||

    Except they are dangerous.

    School shooters are almost all mentally ill.

    Panhandlers are frequently aggressive and violent in many urban areas.

    These same mentally ill animals make riding the subway in NY after hours hit or miss. They have been responsible for multiple shoving incidents that land commuters on the tracks.

    The amount of violence and illness, usually through poor hygiene as they can't care for themselves, is endemic in many urban areas like NY and San Francisco. It's so bad in San Francisco that the city now has a Hepatitis A problem. Which is thoroughly a third world disease everywhere else in the world.

    "Doing your own thing" isn't acceptable when it harms others.

    Lock them up and get it over with.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Some of them are dangerous. Most are not.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Except they are dangerous.

    School shooters are almost all mentally ill.

    As Matthew above said. most are not. There is also a tendency for mental illness to be created after the fact in my criminal situations. This is the classic, "Why would someone do X, they must be crazy!" This is an easy argument to make, as anyone can be diagnosed with a mental illness if need be. It's a vague category.

    Which goes into your discussion of the homeless you have. First, just want to call out your "mentally ill animals" comment. That's a pretty horrible situation, dehumanization of groups of people has traditionally not led to good outcomes. Beyond the pure immorality of treating your fellow man in such a way.

    Second, you've seemingly conflated 1-to-1 mental illness and homelessness. There is certainly a high coincidence of these two, but there are larger social problems with how SF and Seattle handle homeless, beyond them just not locking them all up.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Which goes into your final statement, which seems to be advocating for people who are designated a special class of people (mentally ill) to go through forceful incarceration without criminal proceedings. The traditional model is for experts to designate people as sick, and then remove their rights due to this fact. Beyond the very, very questionable morality of crimeless forced incarceration, this expert system of proceedings is dangerous. We put a lot of power into these people, which has known corrupting effects, combine this with the tremendous subjective range of diagnosis for mental illness, and you've created a system of tremendous authority with little ways to counteract it. This isn't theoretical, this has happened many times before in history.

  • Peacedog||

    Most school shooters have a history of SSRI or other psychotropic drug use. They are by definition mentally ill as a result.

    And make no mistake, I base my view on this issue based off of personal experience.

    I was attacked in NYC by a mentally ill homeless man in broad daylight.

    At 5'11" and 230 lbs it took every bit of fighting skill I had from years of boxing and martial arts to beat him into submission. If he had used a knife I probably would have been severely injured or died. If he had attacked my mother, or grandmother, they would have been killed.

    The worst part: When the police showed up they said they had been aware of his behavior for years.

    F@#$ that guy and the leftist a#$$s in the courts that kept setting him free. I don't care about your theoretical concerns for the rights of the violently mentally ill. If you have a long term history of mental illness and violence, I want you locked up where you can't hurt anyone else.

  • Uncle Adolf's Gas and Grill||

    The problem is, when we were involuntarily locking up the mentally ill, the definition of mentally ill got very broad indeed. We were also doing things like committing kids for doing things like ditching school and getting high. That was a very big reason for involuntary institutionalization losing it's public support. If the state has the power to commit, it's going to be abused. It may be true that the mentally ill were a lot less troublesome when we were locking them up, but that ignores that the price of that was locking up a lot of people who had no business being institutionalized.

    I'm afraid what we have here is a problem with no good solutions. Either we have homeless schizophrenics in the streets, or we have a situation where perfectly sane people are deprived of their liberty and autonomy unjustly for stepping on the wrong toes. I've lived long enough to see both approaches tried, and really, both of them suck.

    Dealing with the mentally ill is always going to be one those societal gray areas that's never going to be satisfactorily addressed. On the one hand, we assume people have rights that are bound to be respected. On the other hand, we have the crazy homeless guy on the street corner harassing and threatening passers by. If you create a mechanism outside of criminal conviction for depriving people of their liberty, it's guarunteed to be abused. But absent the ability to do that, you're left with Crazy Homeless Man On The Corner.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    We can not tolerate the current situation.

    the time for talk is over.

    We need to round up these animals now!

  • Uncle Adolf's Gas and Grill||

    We have the current situation because the previous situation also proved to be intolerable.

    Tell me a solution that hasn't been tried. When it comes down to it, there are really only two: lock them up, or leave them to fend for themselves. Both have proved unsatisfactory. Occasionally somebody writes an article like this, bewailing whichever approach we're currently taking, and demands we switch to other approach. But they never seem to be able to tell us how the other approach is going to avoid the deficiencies and abuses we suffered the last time we tried it.

    I suspect we are forever going to be switching back and forth between those two approaches, because there aren't any other options, and neither one solves the problem.

  • Kivlor||

    This is one of the best comments on this thread.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Hitler had a solution. I think most here would agree it was not for the best all things considered

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    The mentally ill absolutely do have rights. They may not have the ability to use all of the liberty that they inherently possess, but they are still endowed with those rights nonetheless. And it's wrong to take away their liberty if they haven't *done* anything to merit a loss of liberty.

    Plus I understand the concepts of "due process" and "innocent until proven guilty" have been in the news lately. Many insist that we apply these legal standards of proof to powerful people like Kavanaugh, or Trump. Okay, fine. But then many of those same people have absolutely no qualms inverting that standard when it comes to the weakest and most powerless members of society. The mentally ill are assumed to be dangerous until proven safe. Immigrants are assumed to be bad people until proven to be good people. If you are going to preach "innocent until proven guilty" then I'm going to expect you to be consistent about it.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Your argument assumes the mentally ill are human.

    Show that they are human.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Taking your comment seriously (which I doubt you intend), I leave it to you to show that they are not.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    They are of unsound man, meaning they are subhuman.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Plus, you just know that if the regime of involuntary commitment of the mentally ill were ever to make a comeback, the people currently who would be cheering that change, would then be darkly warning that the government will classify "conservatism" as a mental illness and involuntarily locking them up.

    Gee, maybe if you don't want the state to abuse its power to go against political enemies, you shouldn't give the state the tools to do so? Just spitballin' here!

  • sarcasmic||

    Having a problem with arbitrary authority is already classified as a mental disorder.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you see a distinction between power and authority, then you are considered to be mentally ill.

  • Kivlor||

    Indeed, without a societal return to tradition and Christianity it would be dangerous to just grant politicians the power to declare someone mentally ill and lock them up.

    But amazingly, in days past we didn't have that problem. It's almost like the problem isn't the conservatives you are bemoaning

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Wait, is your statement that in the past Sanitariums weren't subject to abuse from authorities? Are you fucking kidding me?

  • Kivlor||

    No, and if you go back and read it you'll see I said no such thing. Up thread I pointed out that sanitariums were better than the current policy, not perfect. In the comment you responded to I argued that in the current moral situation of society, it would be even more dangerous to recreate them because the left would declare their political enemies mentally ill and use the power to turn them into political reeducation centers

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Okay, I'm commenting on your "But amazingly, in days past we didn't have that problem" as if there was some idyllic time when Government abuse did not exist. Can you explain what "that problem" was meant to refer to in that context?

  • Kivlor||

    I was commenting on how amazingly, in the past we didn't just lock up our political opponents.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

  • Kivlor||

    You are aware I was specifically referring to mental institutions, right? The topic of this thread and this article.

    So, just how many people were locked up in mental institutions for this?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    First, that's a punt. You're saying those in abused their authority before, but they would have never done it under the guise of mental illness. You've given no reason for that, except this idea that people were decent before, and thus they'd abuse their authority, but NEVER by calling someone mentally ill.

    Second, we have a history of Sodomy laws, and homosexuality as a mental illness that does in fact show that people with behavior that is disagreed with are labeled as mentally deficient in order to remove them.

  • Kivlor||

    I never said they didn't abuse their authority. The issues of abuse inside of mental institutions were well documented and heinous. I'm saying that there was no policy of declaring everyone who disagreed with your politics as mentally ill and then sending them to the reeducation centers when we had mental institutions.

    Even with homosexuality, we didn't argue that anyone who disagreed on its status as a mental illness be locked up, which would be analogous to Chemjeff's comment and my response. Also, this is a subject you may want to steer from, because although you've beguiled the public, the stats don't look good.

    You try to conflate incarceration for mental illness with incarceration for criminal behavior. Sodomy laws were criminal in nature. You keep trying to blur this line because I'm sure in your mind there is no difference, despite the fact that they were administered very differently.

    Finally, entirety of your bitching can be refuted thusly: Once upon a time X law was abused, and Y person was unjustly imprisoned/treated, therefore X law must not exist. This is an attack on jurisprudence itself. We can use it to attack all law, and all authority. Murder shouldn't be illegal because someone was unjustly convicted. Theft. Rape. The list goes on and on. No law has ever failed to be abused. We are human, not saints, but we hope to place moral yet flawed people in authority, rather than immoral and flawed people, or even worse, no people in authority at all.

  • Kivlor||

    I was also mocking how chemjeff turned the morality of this situation on its head, basically blaming conservatives should the left victimize them, rather than opposing evil people who would turn this into a political attack and blaming them for their evil intent

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Well, that's a misreading of that then. Because his comment was that people are advocating to create the very power structures that can then be used against them. Because his comment is broadly about the corrupting influence of powerful institutions, whereas, best I can tell, your belief is that decent people can be trusted with any power. We just need the right people in charge.

  • Kivlor||

    I think you must have moral people enforcing just laws BUCS. There is nothing wrong with submitting to proper authority.

    Moral people will have to be entrusted with the power to enact justice. Which doesn't mean you have no one watching the watchmen

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    We have never had "moral people" in charge. We have had AT BEST barely tolerable, halfway decent people, and at worst, downright awful, corrupt and murderous people in charge.

    Since we will never have saints in charge, the best strategy is to reduce the power of the state down to its bare minimum, so that, when those horrible people do achieve power, their destructive ways remain very limited.

    This is the entire libertarian critique! And you come here to argue against this?

  • Kivlor||

    Sure we have. We've had moral but flawed people. Only you strange children of the Protestant Reformation think that way due to your disordered thinking.

  • JFree||

    Well you only need to look to the actual history of Bedlam or debtor's prisons or parish workhouses (see Oliver Twist and other Dickens' work). With eg Bedlam, the church turned lunacy into a paid admission circus. Cmon in and watch the lunatics bang their heads against the wall. Family fun for everyone. That was the only way they could voluntarily raise enough money from wealthy patrons to keep it funded.

    The notion that only a return to traditional values/religion is needed is simply blind and ludicrous. Is that probably part of a solution? Of course.

  • Qsl||

    We already have a regime of involuntary commitment- through the prisons, and I'd be hard pressed to say they are better than the state run institutions they replaced (not to mention being far more expensive).

    And you do have (limited) successful community care available, but those are funded primarily by the wealthy and well-connected. I suppose the libertarian response would be tiered care of private insurance (for as long as it lasts anyway) all the way down to magic Tic-Tacs for the downtrodden. Too bad you couldn't merchandise your mental illness to afford some better care like some misunderstood artist.

    If we are honest, a philosophy of rugged individualism and self advocacy and no public safety nets really has no answer for the mentally ill. But instead of having the intellectual honesty to come to terms that there might be some blind spots in the ideology, they venture down the rabbit hole to the ever more absurd and fantastical, until flat-earthers sound more sane and lucid by comparison.

  • A nerdy Fred||

    Libertarian theory meeting mentally ill people is a fascinating topic for thoughtful discussion.

    One argument for maximizing individual liberty is that people are the best judges of what's best for them and will rationally see and implement the benefits of social cooperation.

    The first schizophrenic who shows up in Libertaria isn't going to be a rational maximizer of utility. So the core of Libertarian theory is on shaky ground if there are mentally ill people.

    Drugs and therapy cost money, and so do "housing first" approaches. Relying on private charity has proven inadequate. Using government force to collect money is unwelcome to many.

  • Qsl||

    The part that is gawhddamnable is that libertarians are probably the best advocates for the mentally ill. They are deeply suspicious of power being used to enforce social norms, and give great leeway in people organizing their own communities. If there is going to be interference, it should be done minimally and with delicacy, and with oversight to reduce abuses.

    But that is assuming libertarians accept responsibility for their communities instead of just themselves. The handwavy "let the invisible hand sort it out" is just as bad as statist over-reliance on government, ignorant that there are advantageous roles for each.

    But getting libertarians to make the hard choices where their ideology often comes up short mimics the worst of zealotry, and you end up with a view of the world that is completely divorced from reality.

  • Radioactive||

    They live on the street, often foraging through dumpsters. Some threaten us. Occasionally, they assault people....sounds like Congress.

  • Radioactive||

    Most, says DJ Jaffe, are schizophrenic or bipolar and have stopped taking their medication....sounds like the Senate

  • DajjaI||

    Mental health 'treatment' is really just indoctrination. Medication actually makes them worse. Thus everything we do only worsens the problem. The best thing to do would be to abolish the minimum wage so that these people could find work to keep them off the streets. That is actually what they really want, even if they deny it.

  • ThomasD||

    "Mental health 'treatment' is really just indoctrination. Medication actually makes them worse. Thus everything we do only worsens the problem."

    Do these assertions also apply to the current standards for treatment of gender dysphoria?

  • NoVaNick||

    We have been led to believe that mental illness is something you can fix with a pill, like physical disease. It is not. Some symptoms can be managed, but most people relapse. Giving authorities more power to commit people while expanding the definition of mental illness seems very dangerous to me. So what can we do? Nothing. Accept the fact that there will always be crazies amongst us.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "Accept the fact that there will always be crazies amongst us." Yes, and accept the fact that not all "crazy" is bad. Mozart was most likely bipolar. Most highly successful business leaders, politicians and football coaches are sociopathic to one degree or another. Obama was a malignant narcissist and a sociopath, as is Trump.

    So where does this leave us? Mental disorders exist among most of the population, but most of the population has them under control in one way or another. That is to say, the disorders do not lead them to harm themselves or others in any way that society considers criminal. But then we have the other end of the spectrum: the homeless who wander the streets talking to themselves (Lily Tomlin's solution: pair one such man with one such woman so at least it would look like they were having a conversation) all the way up to the sexual predators (Weinstein, Cosby) and murderers. Some belong in prison for life, some simply need effective long-term treatment.

    All of which is to say that there is no simple solution because like any population there is no common denominator, which is why government intervention is completely ill-suited to the task of "solving" the problem. And as our society becomes less community-oriented and less empathetic, so are we as a people.

  • NoVaNick||

    All of which is to say that there is no simple solution because like any population there is no common denominator, which is why government intervention is completely ill-suited to the task of "solving" the problem. And as our society becomes less community-oriented and less empathetic, so are we as a people.

    Progs have a hard time accepting that their "solutions" to real or imagined problems actually divide society and make us less compassionate because they think of themselves as extremely compassionate. Their failure to get this belies their stupidity and arrogance.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    "They believe the only way New Yorkers will support improvements to mental illness policy is if they are convinced that everybody has a mental illness."

    I would think that being a New Yorker is a reliable indicator of mental illness.

    /delusional New Jerseyan

  • Echospinner||

    We could build asylums. They could be more like communities such as we have for older people with different levels of need and independence.

    But there is going to be little private sector money for it. We are back to the government to pay for most of it.

    I have a friend who is bipolar. He spent years on the streets. Helped him out when I could. Eventually he got some help. All he needed was a place to stay and have his art studio, access to medical care and some minimal support. He generates some income for himself doing various things and his artwork which is exceptional.

  • Rob Misek||

    Marijuana causes mental illness. It is not benign. It may be your loved ones.

    The psychotic components stay in the fatty tissues of the brain for months. The result, more frequent users are never sober. The brain never recovers.

    Do you advocate a drug that causes mental illness? Then you are part of the problem.

  • dwshelf||

    False dichotomies abound.

    The mentally ill are notoriously hard to help.

    The mentally ill end up on prison because they commit violent crime.

    The only thing which has been shown to work is to lock them up wholesale, and that choice has been denied to the government for some 50 years now.

    There is no "treatment" or "neighborhood" plan which works broadly enough and safely enough to attract broad support.

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