Old asylums give us the creeps. The reality of asylums may pale in comparison to the horrors we conjure in our minds. Yet, they were awful. They were dark and dirty and overcrowded. Diseases were rampant and deadly. Staff was abusive. Food was scarce and inedible. Death and suicide were common.
So, why does President Trump want to bring them back?
That's what he told thirty-nine governors attending a White House meeting on gun safety after the February shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
While the president may be misguided as to the link between violence and mental illness, he raised an important issue. Should we bring back institutions to care for the seriously mentally-ill who otherwise bounce between emergency rooms, prison, and the streets? Some think so. Others fear a return of the abuses that led to their destruction.
Today, we talk about the history and future of asylums and a person who spent time in one and doesn't want to go back.
- Hank Schwartz - Psychiatrist-in-Chief at the Institute of Living, VP Behavioral Health, Hartford Hospital
- Dominic Sisti - Director of the Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care; assistant professor in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. (@domsisti)
- Stacy Horn - Author of six non-fiction books, most recently Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad & Criminal in 19th-Century New York. She is the founder of the social network Echo. (@StacyHorn)
- Joseph Rogers - Executive Director, National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse; formerly a patient in a psychiatric hospital
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.