Monday, July 18, 2005

Insitutions have their place

One often writes in editorials that it is hoped that common sense will prevail. It is a mantra of leader writers.
What joy it is to discover that common sense at last has prevailed, at least in the cause of our mentally ill. I have written on this issue many times over the years, observing that "de-instutionalisation" has been a crime against many of the mentally ill, who simply cannot cope within the fussy bureacratic demands of the social security system, let alone an exploitative quasi criminal street-wise world bent on tricking them out of their pensions as well as their drugs. For years now, mentally ill people have been adrift in society, often begging, sometimes having fugues, often having run-ins with the police. The idea that they were entitled to living freely in the community was a con. They are entitled to the community's care! Sick people require looking after. They need nurture and understanding. And, often, they feel happier when they know that they are not alone in their predicament. Within traditional mental institutions they had peer groups, a society of their own, a sense of belonging. I recall visiting a facililty which rehabilitated the brain-damaged when it was being forced to close by the same economic rationalists who turfed the mentally ill out onto the streets. Some of the inhabitants had contacted me and asked me to come and see their Centre and hear how unhappy they were about its closure, to help them to fight to save it. And it was about a sense of belonging and being among people who were in the same boat which they wanted projected. They were terrified of being thrown out to their own devices, to look and sound different in a "normal" world, to have to catch buses and find their way to their rehabilitation sessions. But it was no good. The economic rationalists won. The Centre closed. And these hapless souls were cast out, too.

Thank heavens common sense has prevailed and such people can have sanctuary again.

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