On the Insanity of Asylums

I should be doing homework or potentially working, but I am not.

 Today I attended a meeting at a community agency to talk about  a10-year-old who has mental health issues and has been committed to our local asylum because he is naughty. He has violated all sorts of court orders by doing things like running away and beating up his sister and generally not listening.

 I mean, because normal 10 year olds don’t engage in the behavior, so therefore they don’t warrant institutionalization.

This kid also has a developmental delay, and although he is rather smart and demanded he be present at his own court hearing where the officials told him he’d be locked up at the asylum for the next six months because of his general badness, he can’t process information the same way someone without a delay can.

As I sat in the meeting, and listened to the various individuals who were on his team talk about what they wanted this child to accomplish, all I could think was: How fucking stupid.

We expect so much out of children these days. Here is a kid who is going to be significantly impaired because of, quite frankly, the atrocities he is witnessing at the state mental health institution, where seclusion and restraint is used for everything from significant aggressive behavior to a refusal to participate in a group art project. Here is a kid who, after his first committment, came out of the state hospital and began violently acting out at his family members and throwing furniture, and when his mother told his social worker, the social worker stated: The state hospital could not have caused that — it is accredited. Because of the wild and often dangerous behavior, the child was put back into the state hospital.

Here is a kid who, because of poverty, race and class, will be removed from his home environment after he is finally released from the prison that is the state hospital and put into a home where the “experts” can treat him for his behavioral problems that did not exist, in a large part, before the experts took him to their state hospital.

Here is a family who identifies with the system that is pulling them apart, viewing the system as the experts, although the family is the unit that has raised this child from birth.

And here is a kid who will likely continue to engage in significant behaviors because of the trauma of displacement from home, the experience of institutionalization, and will likely be reinstitutionalized somewhere down the line.

The mental health system is disgusting. It makes people sicker than what they were before they entered it for treatment and solutions. At age 10, this child may not stand a chance; he is so young, and yet has already been left marked by a system that is so powerful and damaging.

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