thewayonline is dealing with a severe family crisis. So she is doing what good people do when they have an awful problem. They try to squeeze a bit of lemonade out of their awful problem.
What is ‘s awful problem? Her son is sick with a mental disorder we call Schizophrenia. How is trying to make lemonade? She is sharing what she is learning from the experience. Here is her latest post: Mental Health Probation : A Positive Solution To Decriminalize The Mentally Ill & Create A Safe Community While Saving Millions Of Dollars. Please visit ‘s post, learn what you can, and pray for ‘s son, , and their family and friends.
Why the picture above? Consider the etymology of the word “bedlam”.
“scene of mad confusion,” 1660s, from colloquial pronunciation of “Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem” in London, founded 1247 as a priory, mentioned as a hospital 1330 and as a lunatic hospital 1402; it was converted to a civic lunatic asylum on dissolution of the monasteries in 1547. It was spelled Bedlem in a will from 1418, and Betleem is recorded as a spelling of Bethlehem in Judea from 971.
When someone has a mental illness, we cannot see what is causing the problem. All we can see is the behavior, the strange and twisted bedlam. Nevertheless, severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder stem from physical problems, not moral issues. Unfortunately, the result of a severe mental illness is still a behavioral issue. If there is no effective treatment, which there did not use to be, the result is bedlam.
It is painful to see someone in psychotic state, knowing they are suffering, and not being able to help them or even reason with them. Fortunately, we now have treatments that work well for at least some of the mentally ill. What we too often lack is effective government support. Why is government support so important? When someone is severely mentally ill, their mental processes are in a state of bedlam. So they need help, but they may refuse that help. The mentally ill may even be a danger to themselves and others. Hence government has to act to confine and force some of the mentally ill to accept treatment, and that is the concern addresses in her post.
Traditionally, state and local authorities have dealt with the problem of mental illness, and that is probably the best place for that responsibility to remain. Unfortunately, some states are not giving mental health issues much attention. Why?
- The severely mentally ill lack the capacity to participate in the political process. They cannot advocate their own cause.
- Shame. Politicians respond to strong constituencies with clear agendas, but mental health advocates lack both strong constituencies and a clear agenda. Even though there is as much reason to be ashamed of being mentally ill as there is for having a broken leg, the confusion of mental illness results in shame. Those who are ashamed make weak advocates. The psychotic simply lack the ability, and those among the mentally ill who are receiving effective treatment often fear publicity.
- Our government tries to do too much. There is a clear need for our government to involve itself in mental health issues. Only government can resolve the civil rights issues. Unfortunately, our government officials spend lots of time and lots of our money just buying our votes. That is, our own willingness to allow government officials to buy our votes adds to that bedlam of ineptitude we call government.
We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbour. Hence he comes to us clad in all the careless terrors of nature; he is as strange as the stars, as reckless and indifferent as the rain. He is Man, the most terrible of the beasts. That is why the old religions and the old scriptural language showed so sharp a wisdom when they spoke, not of one’s duty towards humanity, but one’s duty towards one’s neighbour. The duty towards humanity may often take the form of some choice which is personal or even pleasurable. That duty may be a hobby; it may even be a dissipation. We may work in the East End because we are peculiarly fitted to work in the East End, or because we think we are; we may fight for the cause of international peace because we are very fond of fighting. The most monstrous martyrdom, the most repulsive experience, may be the result of choice or a kind of taste. We may be so made as to be particularly fond of lunatics or specially interested in leprosy. We may love negroes because they are black or German Socialists because they are pedantic. But we have to love our neighbour because he is there—a much more alarming reason for a much more serious operation. He is the sample of humanity which is actually given us. Precisely because he may be anybody he is everybody. He is a symbol because he is an accident. (from here)
The severely mentally ill are our neighbors. They may sometimes seems scary mad, but that madness is torment to them. Because mental illness is a chance disease, each of us should be thankful if our minds work appropriately. In gratitude we should help those troubled by mental illness.
The severely mentally ill includes many of the homeless as well as the mentally ill we have put in jail. Mental health issues have no simple solution, but each of us should consider how our state officials define the government’s role in resolving mental health issues. Because incompetent policies can easily make a bad situation worse, we need to know what our leaders think about mental illness.