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.
So what does HERETICS by Gilbert K. Chesterton have to do with any of this? The mentally ill are our neighbors, and they need our help.
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.
I feel for anyone experiencing having to deal with a mental health problem in their household. The feeling of helplessness what to do to try to control the person is overwhelming helplessness and even bodily fear not knowing what they will do next.
Regards and goodwill blogging.
That’s a good description.
In that past, all people could do is tie up the victim when and until the “spell” passed. Now we have some drugs, but we are only beginning to discover how they work. For some they work well.
Consider the problem of diagnosing mental illness.
I think we should properly medicate the mentally ill and not confine them for arbitrary reasons.
But I think there are some practical limitations to what can be done by the family (and hospitals, for that matter). As far as I know, involuntary confinement only happens if or when the person is a direct, clear and present danger to his/herself and/or others.
Do we think those who are a threat to themselves or others should be on home confinement?
I have to ask the two most obvious questions here:
What if they hurt their family members? What if they refuse to take their medications?
The primary reason the government has to be involved is the problem you are bringing up. What someone becomes psychotic, by definition they cannot be reasoned with. Hence, people with severe mental illness must be confined involuntarily. Otherwise, they are likely to pose a danger, most likely to themselves, but occasionally to others.
What if a mentally ill person refuses to take their medications? I don’t pretend to have much expertise in this area, but I know that can be a problem. I suspect this issue describes much of the problem with homelessness. I think this is also part of the reason why the government needs to be involved. Medications do help some of the mentally ill, but some don’t like the medications, perhaps for good reasons. Since each person is unique and we don’t well understand mental illness, I doubt there is a simple solution for this problem. I think a judge and a jury will have to decide if a person who refuses to take their medications must be locked up, mostly for their own safety.
Much like everything else, it’s important to look at context in these situations. I’m uncertain if violent offenders can be forcibly medicated. I suspect the answer is no…but I don’t know. Maybe if varies by state. I’ve seen many violent patient calmed by an injection of haldol….but they agreed to allow it.
By contrast, “restraint free” facilities can be a problem. No one likes to think of their elderly loved one being tied down with restraints…but they don’t like them falling and getting injured either. Even lifting both hospital rails is considered a “restraint”. This is a serious problem (though no longer my problem as I don’t work in a nursing home anymore).
Some problems don’t have easy answers. That’s one reason I don’t support a substantial role by the Federal Government in this area. In addition to the fact I don’t think it would be wise to give the Federal Government the power to have people committed to mental facilities, I think we ought to let the States try different options. We often don’t know what works until we see it work.
This is definitely a problem with no easy answers. When we propose changes in legislation, I think it’s very very important to have a really really grounded understanding of what’s going on, from all sides of the equation. There are patient rights that preclude a lot of measures. A person simply reading online anecdotes is unlikely to get a full understanding of what’s going on. It’s kind of socially awkward on a thread I know is intended to support this (very nice I’m sure) mother with a son in a really bad situation, but it needs to be said (if we’re serious about this sort of legislation change).
Do I think thewayonline has this all figured out. No. Would not expect her to. This kind of problem ambushes parents. Because we don’t talk about mental illness, sweep it under the rug (trite, I know), when the problem comes up, few of us know what to do.
Yet the mentally ill have to do depend upon love ones who are unlikely to understand the system to be their advocates. Unfortunately, if the mentally ill are of legal age, their parents may be almost helpless to help them. To protect the right of adults, we strip parents of their authority. Not always a good idea.
What is a good idea? All I know for sure is that we first have to change our attitudes about this problem. We cannot properly help people whose problems we insist upon hiding. It may be efficient and an aid to privacy for the government, for example, to put the mentally ill in a large facility way off in a rural part of the state, but that makes it difficult for relatives to stay in close contact. That’s BAD for anyone who desperately needs to know their family still cares about them! So we need to completely rethink how we want to deal with mental illness.
Reblogged this on Kingdom Pastor and commented:
Why do we embrace, even weep with those who have diseases such as cancer, but shun those who have a physical disease labeled “Mental Illness”? It is time to advocate for these who are often unable to advocate for themselves. If you call yourself a “Christian” but look the other way at those with mental illness (BTW, that’s known as “shunning”) maybe it’s time you rethink who you think you are…let’s advocate more for those who have this disease, and it is a disease!
Very much appreciate your kind remarks and the reblog. Thank you very much.!
and thank YOU for this important post and reminder!
This post is why I wish WordPress had a “Man, I really love this post” instead of a simple “like”. We do not shun people we cancer–to the contrary, we love and embrace them. Yet in this “enlightened” age, people with mental illness continue to be treated different. Our own state continues to close down facilities for the mentally ill and our local jails continue to be overcrowded with those who have mental illness. It is a shame and disgrace! And yes, Jesus expects, DEMANDS that we become the advocate for those who cannot help themselves!