In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Donald Trump has suggested bringing back mental institutions.
Mental institutions were, in some cases, horrible places. And if Trump had his way, you could “nab people like [the shooter] because… they knew something was off.”
People would be tossed in a mental hospital if others thought “something was off.” This loose standard has been used in American history to institutionalize not only the severely mentally ill but also troublemakers, many times being women.
I’m lucky, I have family who would not ever place me in such an institution. But what about others? How would they cope?
How would the asylums be administered? Would they be another get-rich scheme abetted by the government, like the prison industrial complex? Would there be financial incentives for holding on to patients? Would the asylums be like nursing homes, with the same possibility for abuse that so often escapes accountability?
I know I am in no danger of being carted away, but the increasing stigma in society as demonstrated by attitudes following various shootings (including by the administration) makes keeping to my commitment to living as an “out” mentally ill person harder.
That this suggestion comes from an administration which made it easier for the severely mentally ill to get guns and which has shown no commitment to adequately fund care for the mental illness and substance abuse is the rankest hypocrisy. Of course, Trump is not suggesting reopening mental institutions from any actual concern for the mentally ill — that’s not part of the equation here. No, this suggestion comes from the mistaken and bigoted belief that the mentally ill are violent and a danger to the rest of society. It doesn’t matter that most of the mentally ill are not violent and that mentally ill persons are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Some shooters are mentally ill, so let’s lock all of them up.
Because an individual commits an act of violence does not by itself mean that they are mentally ill. But while most of the mass killers may or may not be mentally ill, they are undeniably pretty much all male, and white, and young. Maybe we should just lock up all young white men.
That would make about as much sense.