Re: madness

John Ransom said:
>But the trend began in the 1960s, with the mass closings of public mental
>hospitals. At the time, new antipsychotic drugs made medicating patients
>in the community seem a humane alternative to long-term hospitalization.
>States also seized the chance to slash hospital budgets. From a high of
>559,000 in 1955, the number of patients in state institutions dropped to
>69,000 in 1995. [end excerpt from NYT]
>Remember Foucault's book discusses the shift from treating the insane as
>criminals to developing special institutions for them. In the 60s and 70s
>we threw them back out onto the street, and now they're making their
>way back into the jails.
>--John Ransom

Mental patients were released in the U.S. beginning in the 60s for
three main reasons: (1) an intellectual revolt against the
idea of incarcerating the "mentally ill" (i.e. Thomas Szasz,
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), (2) a federal plan to
treat patients with drugs in a newly created community
mental health system (this system did not work as planned),
(3) a series of lawsuits which increasingly limited the
ability of government employees to take away the
freedom of citizens. Now they can't incarcerate people
who are a danger to themselves, or a public nuisance--only
those who are a proven danger to others. (ACLU, etc )
(Reference: The Dream and the Nightmare by Myron Magnet.)

So this societal change seems to be motivated by a self-
imposed limitation of power over the "mentally ill." How
does that effect Foucault's thesis?

Dave Roberts

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