Friday, December 4, 2015
One flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo's nest - Pistachio Jam Cookies
Lost in the mists of my law degree and my years in marine insurance is the fact that my undergraduate degree is in psychology, and that I was halfway through a graduate program in psychology when I decided that particular program was not what I was looking for. So I remember the move towards community mental health, and the move away from the ginormous state psychiatric hospitals, which was already in progress while I was a student at Stony Brook. I did not know exactly why, but the local psychiatric hospital, Central Islip State, was utilizing only a small number buildings while the rest of the campus was falling into disrepair. During one semester I did volunteer work on one of the wards, and I still have nightmares. That then begs the question, where were the rest of the mentally ill people going, if not to C.I. and Pilgrim State and Kings Park and Creedmore?
When I got to graduate school, I got the answer: community mental health. This article from the Wall Street Journal gives a good historical perspective on how we got from Over the Cuckoo's Nest to weekly massacres. I remember how, back in the late seventies while I attended grad school, the idea of community mental health did not make sense to me - set all those really disturbed people out on the street? That was also when I could not help but notice how the homeless population in New York City was increasing at an alarming rate. More alarming was when I started to see so many clearly mentally ill homeless on the previously pristine street of Orlando. And now, all these years later, I can see how the whole concept of community mental health, initialized by President Kennedy and pushed along by President Reagan, has so seriously weakened the fabric of American society as to cripple us all. We are being attacked from within. There is no gun control law in the world that can stop an at-large schizophrenic from doing exactly what he or she want to do.