Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Bring back the asylums?

  1. May 27, 2014 #1
    This is certainly a controversial issue, but one that begs questioning after all these mass shootings. A broader question is why are mental health services failing?

    This issue hits me hard because I have a family member who suffers greatly from mental illness and as a result a drug addiction. This family member I believe should be in long term care. He is in and out of hospitals constantly. Unable to hold a job or keep friends. No ambition or motivation. Pushes family away. Skips medicine doses. And as I said, is addicted to one of the worst drugs. It's an absolute downward spiral and the mental health services can't do anything but keep his head barely above water. The family just waits for the call that he is in jail or dead. It feels hopeless and is very painful.

    The only solution I can see is a long term care (months) where he gets clean, get medicine and get's life resources.

    The tragic consequences of deinstitutionalization.
    http://www.currentpsychiatry.com/the-publication/past-issue-single-view/bring-back-the-asylums/20064951b8caf413d494a0eb19b67cf8.html [Broken]
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2014 #2

    disregardthat

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Are the people performing mass shootings or similar crimes the same who are showing particular signs of psychosis or mental disturbance that would get caught up in such a net? My impression is that one of the big problems with mentally disturbed people performing atrocious criminal acts is that they are usually very isolated.
     
  4. May 27, 2014 #3
    It seems to be most of the mass shooters have been on the radar. This latest one the kid had been seeing a therapist for 11 years and the cops visited him three times.

    And in the case of my family member, we've called the cops a dozen times and he is in and out of the hospital all the time.
     
  5. May 27, 2014 #4

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Until someone acts violently, there is little that the authorities can do.

    It's one thing for a child (dependent) who is mentally ill, and the parents can monitor their activity, but for an adult with mental illness, little can be done by the parents, since adults by definition are responsible for themselves.

    They system is geared to protect privacy and liberty, until someone commits a crime. Unfortunately, after the fact is too late for the victims of homicide.

    Apparently, once the parent(s) discovered the violent (with threats) videos, they made a call to authorities to intervene.

    The question remains how Elliot Rodger was able to secure 3 handguns with a history of mental illness. Ostensibly, his treatment was deemed effective, even though he was planning violence.

    Had Rodger made a threat of violence, the police could have arrested him for 'making terroristic threats'.
     
  6. May 27, 2014 #5

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I think we are failing as a society to take these people in and keep them off the streets as long as they continue to show these signs. I agree with you Greg, many of the mass murderers were under previous therapy, or police had been called in. Many families have been begging for help for their loved ones to no avail.

    I really am sorry for you and your family for not being able to get proper care for this person. We need to rethink things.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/07/mental-illness-civil-commitment/1814301/
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2014
  7. May 27, 2014 #6

    dlgoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  8. May 27, 2014 #7

    Borg

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Greg, I'm sorry for what your family is going through.

    The majority of people with mental illness do not commit mass murder. However, for those that do, the media provides them with abundant publicity. It bugs me to no end how the media splashes their manifestos and youtube videos all over the news. The people who perpetrate these crimes need to get as little recognition as possible for what they do - no manifestos, no videos, no Wiki page with their name listed, etc. When they see that their rants won't be publicly recognized, then they'll have to find a different outlet for their pain.

    As this father now knows, it shouldn't be all about the killers.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW_raNDQprU
     
  9. May 27, 2014 #8
    Thanks and you're right but I would like that this discussion not turn into a mass killer thread, but rather the possibility of bringing back asylums for the mentally ill that need it. My family member has no future unless there is a safe place for him to go get clean and have his bi-polar schizophrenia treated for a long term. He is addicted to heroin and doesn't take his schizophrenia meds. Social workers stop by a few times a week. Sometimes put him in hospital, but because of insurance, they kick him out after a couple days. This is a cycle that has been going on for a few years. There is only one future for this. All the family can do is wait for the call.
     
  10. May 27, 2014 #9

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Greg, this is unlikely to happen. The Supreme Court ruled this unconstitutional in 1975 (O'Connor v. Donaldson) and the decision was unanimous. Even Rehnquist. It would take an Amendment to overturn this, and I can't see this happening - even writing such a thing would be tricky.
     
  11. May 27, 2014 #10

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I think the issue here is if they are deemed dangerous, have already proven to be dangerous.

    Here is what V50 is referring to

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O'Connor_v._Donaldson
     
  12. May 27, 2014 #11

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    And there is the key - who is dangerous? Courts have generally accepted the argument that someone is dangerous if there is evidence of imminent danger, and generally not accepted the argument that this person is more probably dangerous than someone else, or that there might be dangers down the road.
     
  13. May 27, 2014 #12
    That is the problem. My family member attacked a person with a knife and he was let out in two weeks. That was a year ago. He's at least a complete danger to himself. Not taking meds with heroin addiction is just a ticking time bomb. I saw him a week ago and he's lost a lot of weight.

    "Evidence of imminent danger" is just flat out too late. If you see the train coming at you, you do something. You don't let the train hit you or wait 2 seconds before it hits you and then do something.

    I do believe insurance has a big role in this too.
     
  14. May 27, 2014 #13

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That's the issue they bring up in the article I posted, the "danger" had to have occurred within the last 48-72 hours and even if committed, they will most likely be released in a few days.
     
  15. May 27, 2014 #14

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Comparing the person who was the subject of that court case to Greg's family member, I don't see their circumstances as very similar. The person in the court case had no history of violence, nor was any attempt ever made to treat him.

    While the unanimity of that particular case appears warranted to me, I wonder if it had the effect of swinging the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.
     
  16. May 27, 2014 #15

    disregardthat

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    While it's a shame that they might achieve what they hoped for, I sincerely believe that allowing the government by law to actively censor and ban any message such people have for the sake of it is the wrong direction. Extrapolating, what is the line between a "freedom fighter" and a "terrorist"? Should we let the government decide that? And is it always obvious?

    There are many countries which suppress parts of their population, people who see no other option than to perform terrorist attacks to express their stance to the world. There are clearly big differences to be pointed out here.. But the point is that it should never be the governments job to censor the opinion or cause of individuals no matter what the crime is. No government can be in the position to decide whether they are suppressing their population (no matter how "obvious" the situation is to the general public), therefore no government should be able to decide whether the message should be censored.
     
  17. May 27, 2014 #16

    mheslep

    User Avatar
    Gold Member


    This does not sound like an O'connor v. Donaldson case:

    "A State cannot constitutionally confine, without more, a non-dangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by himself or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends, ..."

    I would guess that a schizophrenic addict is by definition both potentially dangerous and incapable of surviving safely.

    Edit:
    I see Evo and others already pointed out the danger trigger, though it appears surviving safely by himself , i.e. the ability to manage basic necessities, is also an applicable trigger here.

    I agree with the general holding of O'conner v Donaldson and admit reversing it would require and amendment. On the other hand this 48-72 hour danger rule is not fundamental to that decision, and I suspect it could be, should be, revisited. For instance, perhaps the length of confinement in the psychiatric facility could be limited, not forbidden, when the conditions are ambiguous.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2014
  18. May 27, 2014 #17
    The question only remains because the answer--at least the most obvious and effective one--is ignored. The Onion, as usual, sees through the usual deflections.

    But I just saw your request for this not to turn into a mass killer thread, so I'll just add that I recently read Ten Days in a Mad House and human nature hasn't changed in the last 120 years, so we should keep that in mind.
     
  19. May 27, 2014 #18


    Exactly. It's apparent that he needs to either be close to death or near threatening someone else for him to get more attention than a two day stay in the hospital. When the writing is on the wall. There is no future for him unless he gets long term care.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2014
  20. May 27, 2014 #19

    AlephZero

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    FWIW the UK does have some legislation to deal with this, and it is used about 50,000 times per year, but there is plenty of controversy about it. Theoretically, if a police officer sees you in a public place and thinks you are acting a bit strange, you could be hospitalized against your wishes on no more evidence than that. Or you could be hospitalized simply for refusing to let a doctor or social worker enter your house, even though they had no legal right of entry.

    The unofficial description is "sectioning", since the procedure depends which section of the Mental Health Act is deemed to apply to you. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/expertadvice/problems/beingsectionedengland.aspx
     
  21. May 27, 2014 #20

    strangerep

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    That's quite bizarre. I would have thought "assault with a deadly weapon" would attract more prison time than that.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Bring back the asylums?
  1. What will u bring? (Replies: 29)

Loading...