Strangely, America has regressed in its treatment of the mentally ill. In the 19th century, most of the nation’s disturbed were either on the street or in jail. In an effort to provide humane treatment, state institutions popped up across the country, confining most of the nation’s severely deranged. Yet by the 1960s, controversy erupted as stories of mistreatment and poor conditions (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, anyone?) became rampant. Deinstitutionalization followed, in a movement that received strong bipartisan support. Liberals championed the fall of state psychiatric hospitals on the grounds of compassion and freedom; conservatives saw it as a way to save money and as a blow against the intrusive nanny state. [Emphasis added.]
In The God of the Machine, Isabel Paterson spoke of the progressive mindset and described it as, “men who had rejected civilization to embrace savagery, sinking to the worst instead of achieving the best.” This mindset is seen clearly in the realm of treating the mentally ill.
The history of mental hospitals/sanitariums extends back to the middle ages. The idea of segregating the mentally ill instead of letting them run amok was something that our forebears recognized as a good idea several centuries ago. While institutionalization is no picnic for the mentally ill, they are not generally worse off in hospitals than being out on their own. When left to their own devices, a good portion of those who suffer from severe mental illnesses usually end up homeless and abusing narcotics. They also do a lot of damage to private property and infringe on other people’s personal property rights.
Mental health hospitals help to alleviate the problem of crazy people’s craziness by keeping them away from the relatively normal members of society. Unfortunately, a good number of mental health patients end up getting abused. However, they would still be abused by themselves if left to their own devices. The difference between locking them up in a mental hospital and letting them roam about freely is that in the former case, innocent people get go about their lives unmolested by crazy people.
Thus, the “progressive” policy of allowing crazy people to roam about freely is actually regressive, in that it takes society back to a state of being that hasn’t existed since the middle ages. The policy lauded by so-called progressives doesn’t actually help the mentally ill, since they end up destroying themselves with drugs and homelessness (instead of being destroyed by abusive doctors and nurses), but it does harm relatively normal people.
Therefore, progressivism is really a misnomer. The progressive policy towards the mentally ill, like many other progressive policies in general, is actually regressive, and offers no improvement for the victim while posing harm to the rest of society. Progressivism is truly nothing more than the politics of savagery.