Waiting for answers and opportunity.

In my Abnormal Psychology class we’ve been discussing the history of the asylum in the United States and other countries. If you haven’t seen pictures from the early asylum it is really something worth looking at. It brings up a wave of emotions. They preformed what we would think to be inhumane treatments on individuals at alarming rates. But, I questioned myself because my teacher went on and on describing the shakels and chains that these people lived in but really…at that time we didn’t know better. They had to realize that these patients were HUMAN but they didn’t have any methods of treatment that were showing any kind of “cure”. So the act of shock therapy, hot/cold baths, radiation, brain scrambling and all that was in the hopes of finding something that would in fact work for the benefit of the largely populated asylums at the time.

Is the inhumane treatment of one patient ethical for the purpose of finding a treatment to benefit a mass of troubled patients?

Today we were shown pictures of other countries treatment methods and asylums…they mostly resemble our early asylums and use similar tactics. One picture showed a cage where a naked women was kept. The cage was in the backyard of her family home and she had been there for years. It’s upsetting but it’s not the family to blame. In most third world countries there might be one, MAYBE two, hospitals. One psychiatrist, maybe two, in the entire country as well. Medication – extremely limited and most the time nonexistent. A family with little money does not have the resources to send their troubled daughter to a hospital HOURS away, let alone purchase medicine that is expensive and limited. So day in and day out this women sits in a cage in the backyard of her home. She’s not the only one either.

I’m interested in countries that do not have these resources like we do in America. I do not believe medication is necessary for treatment in most cases though in cases where long-term mental illness has been prevalent without any intervention it most certainly would help. I feel like I could do something in these countries. I’m drawn to areas of distress. I know it scares my parents that I say things like this but someone has to do it. There are people that would never subject themselves to that kind of living but I don’t think I would mind. In fact I would go in a second, willingly and excited.

There is also a need for help in our own country though. I plan to start there. We discussed the “skid row” area of Los Angeles today as well. It’s basically an open asylum. Hundreds of mentally ill people wander the streets at night. I don’t know what’s worse…being homeless, cold, hungry in the streets or doped up and fed good in a mediocre hospital. I hate ignorant people that think mental illness is self-imposed for the most part…because in many cases I do not think that is true. No one would put themselves through the torture of the mind. If you have ever experienced anything of that sort you know what I am talking about. Mental torture is worse then the most painful of physical torture.

Whenever I see pictures like the ones I saw this afternoon I wonder about how that person got to that point. What happened, what’s their story? It’s the same story when I pass an abandoned building or overgrown farm land – what was that place like in it’s prime? Who lived there? Why did they leave? Maybe I’m too curious…but I’d like some answers and I think I’ll find them someday soon.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mom
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 13:25:51

    Happy for interest in the psch classes. Your RN grandmother was involved with shock and insulin therapy as treatment for returning GI after WW2. She had said it worked for limited time for battle fatigue.I think thatis now called post-tramatic-stress disorder. It was standard treatment @ our VA hospitals.Stopped for years—but now making a comeback in certain conditions.


  2. mom
    Jun 19, 2010 @ 13:38:38

    PS—In places where life is not sacred—I think there is a tendency not to value the individual. If that individual is not productive for the state or is sick in any way—callous indiffererce and neglect are inevitable. That is why Christianity has made such an impact in medicine. That one verse has changed the course of thinking—-That we are made in the image and likeness of God!!!


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