Back then we had a number of state institutions where we locked people away so they couldn’t hurt themselves or others. These institutions had started as the progressive movement sought to create an ordered society, and provide the best possible treatment for those suffering from schizophrenia, depression, addiction, or dementia. With the advent of psychotropic drugs, they evolved into a storage facility where people were locked up, drugged with Thorazine, and kept like zombies by fashionably dressed nurses and attendants. Apparently this progressive idea was abandoned when it became too expensive and the progressive movement felt it better to keep the mentally ill in mainstream society. I wonder if we were to look back to the 1890’s would we have seen the conservatives resisting the creation of these large state hospitals?
Today I look at the buildings that contained so much life through the first 80 years of the twentieth century and I am saddened by the decay they reflect. It is, in a very real way, a reflection of the society. We can speculate as to what is best for the mentally ill, but as I think about today, are we more humane or were we actually more caring in the years before the social engineers told us how we should be?
Now a watch governs me, and we have turned politics into open warfare based on religion, race, or any number of controversial adversarial topics. I think when I retire I will stop wearing a watch.