Thursday, April 26, 2007

More on Mental Illness and the Virginia Tech Massacre

Here is a note from a long-time reader of mine, with his perspective on the problem of the mentally ill in a free society.
Some in your blog might ask: "Why?" the situation regarding support for the mentally ill is so desperate in a country as blessed as America? Linked below is the history of how we got to where we are. It's not a pretty picture. Really, a comedy [that's not at all funny] of unintended consequences and legislative mis-steps that has left the innocent and the afflicted condemned to relive the bitter harvest of well intentioned, but serious mistakes and...

Now, at VT, [AGAIN] the completely innocent suffer this harvest of ultimate bitterness. I do pray for them and for future innocents, but I harbor little hope of real repair for it seems to me, we only poorly understand the real cause of our communal trauma. How does it feel [Dr. J] to be a "voice crying out in the desert?"

The catastrophic dismantling of the "delivery system" was aggravated, strangely enough, by the absolutely incredible effectiveness of "new" medications. See John Kennedy quoted in the attached link. If [and it's a big if] the right meds "cocktail" can be found and the patient can accept lifelong treatment, some hope remains. But, the appearance and "feel" of normalcy during periods of effective med management will beguile all but the most discerning of the afflicted. Few will stay on their meds as others in the blog confirm. In fact, many will conclude they were mis-diagnosed to begin with by overanxious parents and doctors.

The real problem IMO, as you correctly point out in both your books, is the abandonment [by choice] of a shared value system that correctly balances the needs of the weakest among us [children and the mentally ill] and our "rights" as individuals. New discussion, same about that?

[The Story of Deinstitutionalization - Pat M. Stubbs - updated 9/1/98]
"The homeless mentally ill problem has given rise to issues ranging from legal to ethical - the answer may lay in a simple, straightforward large-scale values clarification by asking ourselves the question, Can we as an advanced, wealthy nation afford to allow the problem to continue?"

No comments: