Friday, September 16, 2011

Madness and Civilization II

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, inmates of a mental institution struggle for their dignity against controlling Authority. It was an iconic film of the 70s, with Jack Nicholson in one of his indelible roles.

A generation later, “cuckoo’s nests” are harder and harder to find. Wave of wave of closings of state mental hospitals have left more and more mentally ill people on the streets. Not surprisingly, many of them end up in prison — upwards of 350,000, NPR recently reported.

This is a calamity for all concerned: the mentally themselves, other inmates who encounter them, the staff who try to work with them, and on and on.

If Michel Foucault were still with us, he might be writing Madness and Civilization II.

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