Re: Greyhound Therapy: shape up or get out of town FWD

Tom Boland (
Thu, 21 May 1998 07:54:53 -0700 (PDT)

Excellent post, Graeme!  I was thinking you might like to comment on the
article I forwarded, originally titled "Ship Of Fools".

Involuntary incarcaration and chemical straight jackets are hardly the
answer to stress.  And, as you say in your reply, poverty and
institutionalization aggravate stress.

And we might both agree that few things relieve stress like a safe place to
sleep, good food and welcoming friends--which the poor, homeless and
excluded lack.

Are you familiar with the Ruby Rogers Advocacy and Drop-In Center in
Cambridge, MA?  For about a decade, former psych inpatients have run a
splendid center here abouts.

The group, whose nonprofit (legal) name is Mental Patient's Liberation
Front, literally wrote and updated the book "Your Rights As A mental
Patient In Massachusetts.  They advise the state Department of Mental
Health on programs.  The Center opposes electroshock, forced medication and
incarcaration of those who do not endanger their own or others' lives.

No chains!  No muzzles!  Homes not institutions!--Tom

>>In medieval times, "irksome madmen" would gradually accumulate in
>>a town.  So, periodically,  they  would  be  rounded up, put on a
>>boat, and sent downriver to someplace -- anyplace -- else.   Such
>>a boat filled with "madmen" was known as a "ship of fools."
>>In  1955,  in the USA, the population in state hospitals stood at
>>559,000.   By  1984,  the  number  of  patients  had  dwindled to
>>119,000.  This was in part due to Reagan-era budget  cuts.   Many
>>of  the deinstitutionalized became part of the skyrocketing group
>>of homeless persons, estimated to number as high as 3 million.

Graeme Bacque <> replied, in part:
>The gross flaw with the process of deinstitutionalization is that people
>who had been forced into an artificial, total dependency on an institution
>suddenly found themselves thrust into an uncaring world, without resources
>being in place to assist with the transition. Psychiatric inmates are as
>entitled to liberty as anyone else. The necessary resourcess of housing,
>income maintenance, and (user-defined) personal supports need to be put in
>place - not more bleak, dingy psychiatric prisons. Contrary to the popular
>myth, homelessness isn't caused by 'mental illness' - but being homeless
>can and will create or exacerbate emotional problems.

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