We used to think that mental illness was inbred and incurable, now, in a more enlightened time, we know it to be genetic and requiring a lifelong course of treatment.

Foremost principle in dealing with the mentally ill -- whatever you do, keep them under supervision and limit their mobility enough not to cause trouble. This doesn't always mean seclusion, restraints, or even institutionalization: it can also refer to policies designed to reinforce the prevailing social stigma against the mentally ill or formerly so, as well as the various and sundry means to decrease forebrain activity (lobotomy, neuroleptics, electroshock, insulin shock, etc.).

This principle was designed to protect both patients and society at large, and to a certain extent, it does so. At the same time, it forces many of the mildly mentally ill, or those whose disorder has effectively disappeared to either go totally without guidance or advice in life skills, or to surrender to life on welfare, adult day-care, and coerced (not forced, but still...) medication. While most of the mental-health industry champions the notion of "patients' rights", the sorry truth is that even asserting these rights invites patronization from other people -- effectively an inert live body to be shuffled around by whatever government or non-profit agency needs to swell their rolls. If you have mental illness in your background, unless you've got a VERY rich family or a LOT of other support, however well you do, you'll always be sipping watery punch with the volunteers, not champagne with the organizers, eternally hearing "You're quite the (writer, artist, etc.) Why don't you contribute to the Patients' Newsletter?".
(grumble, grumble)

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