Forget Gun Control: Bring Back Mental Hospitals

After another inexplicable act of violence in Parkland Florida claimed 17 lives, the usual chorus (and some of the not so usual chorus) is screaming for gun control. We don’t need gun control; we need nut control.

With the first one constructed in 1773, our country has a history of building and maintaining mental hospitals. In 1955, the United States had more than 100 mental hospitals with a population of over 560,000 people.

The U.S. population in 1955 was around 165 million. Today, with a population around 323 million, we can safely assume more than 1 million people would be institutionalized by 1955 standards.

Where are these millions of people who should be in mental hospitals? Living in our communities, wandering the streets while arguing with imaginary figures, or in prison having been declared to be insane, but competent after having committed a crime.

Many purportedly smart people run around decrying inanimate objects for causing death and mayhem. Our streets, schools, workplaces have become killing grounds because any lunatic can get his hands on a gun (or guns) and carry out a massacre. But a closer inspection of the headlines reveals a myriad of machete attacks, people pushed into oncoming subway cars, a man holed up in a bunker, and ex-cop on a bloody rampage—and who can forget the bath salts man who cannibalized a man on the streets of Miami? And so it goes with each bizarre and horrible story replaced by the next stupefying act of insanity.

Why is this happening? Guns? We’ve had guns for centuries.

The real and ignored reason is a policy called “deinstitutionalization,” which is a fancy way of saying “let’s close the mental hospitals to save money.”

Like most bad ideas sprouted in the 1960s, poor judgment coupled with the fever of the civil rights movement thought it would be a good idea to give crazy people “rights” and let them live in the community. Now, 60 years later and “off their meds,” they terrorize their families and hold entire communities hostage. In an earlier, “less enlightened” time they would have been committed and cared for in a mental hospital at the taxpayers expense. People like the Parkland shooter, the Sandy Hook shooter, the Arizona Congresswoman shooter, the Denver theater shooter (dressed like the Joker no less) would have all been put away a long time ago. The homeless, who self-medicate with booze and illegal drugs, the machete killers, the subway pushers all would have been brooding from within the confines of their local mental institution.

Closing the mental hospitals was a particularly cruel idea. The notion that people with raging mental illnesses could be medicated and set loose upon the streets and in our communities is insane in its own right. This is an arrangement from which no one benefits. How does such a thing happen?

It is simple. The fiscal “conservatives” of that day saw a way to cut the expenses of operating large mental institutions. They made common cause with the Left of that time because they believed in that nonsensical notion of people having a “right” to wander the streets and sleep in their own feces. It’s a political partnership made in hell.

And when it fails, we tend to blame the guns, the drugs, or the bath salts. These simple minded schemes are much easier to sell to an already dumbed down public and much easier than actually rounding up the nuts and putting them back in mental hospitals. The current arrangement offers nothing to those suffering from serious mental illness or to their families who seek help before it’s too late. Nor does it improve the quality of life in our society. It is unspeakably cruel to tell someone that they are merely enjoying their freedom to sleep on the streets.

And as it happens, we aren’t really even saving any money. Today, the costs are spread to the prisons, the courts, the emergency rooms, the streets of our cities, our schools and universities, and our concert venues, and all paid for in triplicate with the blood of innocents. So once again let’s ban guns, box cutters, cargo vans, machetes and samurai swords—but by all means let’s not have a serious discussion about 60 years of poor mental health policy.

We need to reopen the mental hospitals and start filling them once again.

Image copyright: arquiplay77 / 123RF Stock Photo

Support Free & Independent Journalism Your support helps protect our independence so that American Greatness can keep delivering top-quality, independent journalism that's free to everyone. Every contribution, however big or small, helps secure our future. If you can, please consider a recurring monthly donation.

Want news updates?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

28 responses to “Forget Gun Control: Bring Back Mental Hospitals”

  1. Yeah NO. Have you seen a DSM lately? Its not science anymore. The freaks and loons have taken over Psychiatry. They believe racism and conservatives are the crazy people. And people of Faith. How would you like a cisnormal person to be committed for not being tolerant of homosexuals? The homosexuals run the APA now sport. I wouldn’t call them Doctors.

    • Right. Nothing’s really changed.
      If they get published, they automatically become an authority.
      It’s easier to go to journalism school, then you can be an authority in any field you wish to speak about.

    • Seriously. I worked in the field around the time the APA was ‘co-opted’ by gays, who basically screamed shrinks off the stage in order to legitimize themselves. Now? We have psychiatrists who support ‘gender change’? As freakin’ if. It took me less than 5 years in the field – working in first a large city – then state mental hospital – to determine that frequently, the patients weren’t the craziest people in the room.

      Google Ryan Sorba’s ‘Gays and the APA’ for a look at the history of that particular lunacy – which thanks to a few decades of schools indoctrinating kids with a non-stop ‘Gay is Normal and Healthy!’ propaganda line – has produced the CDC statistic – ‘The only demographic in the US where HIV is still increasing – is 12 to 22 year old boys – up 135% since 2001 – and tell us schools, media and shrinks give a damn about ‘child health’…

  2. It is Jews and only Jews that want to disarm white Christian America. Jews hate Christ, hate Christians and want us all dead. It is easy to kill an unarmed Christian than it is to kill an armed one.

    • I don’t know, a lot of followers of the most successful Jewish cult ever want to disarm their fellow Christians.

  3. In reality, the Democrats would be immediately put in straight jackets and placed in wards where they could be monitored, medicated, and intervened on when they attempted to hurt themselves.
    Let the Democrats administer the insane asylums, and they’ll incarcerate anyone that exhibits an iota of civility and common sense.
    Democrats talk responsibility, but treat it like a deadly disease that they need to have immunity from.
    Obama, HITLERy, Comey, Holder, Lynch, Lerner; Perfect examples of this theory.

  4. We have a winner: the dumbest article on the internet.

    • So you like the mentally ill homeless and defecating in public?

      • Are you kidding?
        You think you have the higround?
        That makes you a delusional Marxist progressive.

      • Yep. I have the high ground. Nice looking down on you, peasant.

  5. In reality, the Democrats would be immediately put in straight jackets and placed in wards where they could be monitored, medicated, and intervened on when they attempted to hurt themselves.Let the Democrats administer the insane asylums, and they’ll incarcerate anyone that exhibits an iota of civility and common sense

    • After all, they already do all that in academia.
      They’ve thrown out tolerance, equal justice and the entire first amendment as the Marxist left cheers.

  6. Modern medications may make crazy people more functional, but they don’t necessarily make crazies any less dangerous. We don’t need to lock up 1 million crazies because of medications, but we do need to lock up a lot more than are being locked up right now.

    • Also, the mental health community gives these people a bag of pill and then sends them out the door and expects someone who is mentally ill to decide if, when and how many of them to take. Then there are the young people who have been diagnosed be behavioral disorders, are full of prescription meds for these disorders that cause more problems than they solve. The Parkland shooter was diagnosed with behavioral disorders. Was he on any of these meds?

  7. Does Mar a Lago have a padded rooms? They could be necessary post Presidency next year.

  8. It’s not often that an article so badly tangles reality and fiction as this one does.

    Mental hospitals were never nice places. The best of them were mostly decent but many were much less than that. They DID keep the crazies off the street but whether their lives were mostly improved or mostly otherwise is hard to say. Certainly most patients were safer in the short run but abuse including sexual was common, maybe even routine in some places.

    What changed in the 50’s was the introduction of medications that could undo insanity for many who were crazy — and shortly of others that could help with some of the contributing factors — extreme depression, anxiety, mood swings and so on. It became possible for many previously hospitalized patients to live in the community safely and even productively, when properly medicated.

    And indeed many fairly crazy people DO live among us today and do reasonably well — not a threat to anyone including themselves, not an expense to society on the scale of full-time hospitalization, and much more happily than would be possible as inpatients. These are the individuals with more favorable diagnoses and considerable understanding of their disease who are able to GET the medication they need and WILLING to take it.

    These fellow citizens and their families are the beneficiaries of the deinstitutionalization movement.

    Unfortunately the picture’s not always that rosy. Probably the biggest problem is that the drugs often have nasty side effects and those effects may get worse over time. So there’s a strong temptation to take for long enough to feel sane and productive and then quit ‘because I’m okay now and I can’t live with those side effects.’ Then in a few days or a few weeks all the crazy comes back. Sometimes the individual knows that and starts taking again but very often someone must intervene to force restarting the drugs. Rinse, repeat, often for a lifetime.

    In addition just GETTING the drugs is difficult. They’re all carefully regulated to minimize overdoses and misuse but mentally ill people are rarely well organized — they lose things. Life for them is generally a series of crises caused by their own inability to continually function as adults, and by the fact that they lack the real-world tools most of us have — like ‘a car’ and ‘able to drive’ — which makes filling prescriptions difficult even when they don’t lose the prescription and do have money for a co-pay.

    Success almost demands a committed caregiver but the mentally ill are exceedingly hard to live with because their lives roll from one crisis to the next. A spouse or parent can get exhausted by the demands and very often the abuse that goes with trying to help. Too many wind up alone, without care by a sane person, unable to hold any job because they’re too irregular in their work habits and difficult for co-workers. Alone and with no money or personal organization they wind up on the street where abuse is their daily portion.

    And of course some of them ARE dangerous.

    The original plan called for community facilities that were to have served as halfway houses and in many cases sheltered living/work environments. That didn’t happen: What we got instead was (no surprise) the lowest cost gesture — county/state outpatient facilities that would provide bare minimum care, say 15 minutes with a doctor once a month for review and new prescriptions plus money to pay (or mostly pay) to have them filled. This works only for those mentally ill people who are well-functioning in a stable — usually family — situation. That is, someone will see that they get to appointments, that medication is not lost and is taken, and so on. And help them with daily crises — the sink is broken so how do I wash dishes, I can’t wash my hair because water goes up my nose, I can’t make the vacuum cleaner work, the bus route has changed so how do I get to the doctor …

    The bottom line is that mental hospitals ARE needed, mostly for those who are dangerous to themselves or others and for intervention when those who are able to do well with medication go off their meds and refuse to start again. Even more needed are the community sheltered facilities that would handle the basics of life for those who even with medication cannot organize and follow through. I don’t know if this would be more expensive than what we do now — it’s tough to account for the costs of a young adult who goes off his meds and attempts to murder someone and the criminal system would have to exist at the same scale anyway — but the costs WOULD be focused in state and federal budgets so taxpayers would notice them.

    Of course what we really need are better medications — effective but with far fewer/less serious side effects — but there’s no telling when — or even if — that will happen. There’s a lot more art than science in the understanding of mental illness today. These are broken brains and because the brain manipulates its own environment it’s not easy even to think about how to unwind the tangle back to sanity.

    AG doesn’t run a lot of total claptrap but this article helps make up. Let’s not see more like it.

    • The problem is these crazy people are roaming the streets when they should be in a facility where they cannot harm themselves, or our society.

    • I don’t see where you aren’t saying essentially the same thing! I found the artice and your response both to be enlightening.

  9. “The fiscal “conservatives” of that day saw a way to cut the expenses of operating large mental institutions. They made common cause with the Left …”
    Nonsense. The ACLU sued states and won the insane’s “right” not to be locked up.

  10. This article says it all. So what are we going to do about it? We have the solution, the same as it always was. Are we going to continue to sit with one thumb in our mouths and the other up our backside waiting for some politician to tell us to “Switch Thumbs”, or are we going to get together on this thing and do something constructive to put the nuts back in the shell?

  11. Good grief. What is this? COMMON SENSE! Why the very idea………..

  12. Absolutely spot on!! What good does it do for the police to respond to the calls of people to come and ‘do something’ about a crazy young man, like Cruz, when, ultimately, they can’t do a thing with him! Without a place to put the crazies, we’ll continue to have more of the same.

  13. Northern Michigan Asylum a.k.a Traverse City State Hospital was composed of stunningly beautiful dormitory buildings set on rolling, tree-lined, landscaped grounds near the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s been renovated to serve as high end retail space, offices and residences in what is now a prized resort and retirement destination.

    “We invite you to come experience The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, where one of the largest historic preservation and adaptive reuse redevelopments in the country is underway. A beautiful solution to urban sprawl, The Village is the unique renovation of dozens of historic buildings formerly known as the Traverse City State Hospital.”