Reviews Elsewhere – A Twofer on Mental Health Treatment Then and Now

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I’m always on the lookout for reviews of books and resources that cover abuse and/or mental health issues, so I couldn’t resist an article from the New York Post recently – The shocking truth about America’s mental health crisis

From that article we get reviews of two different books:

In “Damnation Island,” a new history of the 2-mile strip in the East River that housed the city’s women’s “lunatic asylum,” Stacy Horn details the daily atrocities visited on its charges. Nurses beating patients to death, six women trapped in cells meant for one, a pregnant woman confined to a straitjacket while giving birth, hundreds of patients — some with open syphilitic sores — made to bathe in the same bathwater. All of this meted out to punish or “treat” people with mental illness.

Reading “Damnation Island,” you may be lulled into thinking that we’ve come a long way since that real life, 19th century horror show. We don’t even call it Blackwell’s Island anymore — it’s now called Roosevelt Island, and luxury apartment buildings stand where the asylum once loomed.

But, in reality, we haven’t come that far at all.

To understand how little has changed, it’s best to turn to another recent release, “Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness” by journalist Alisa Roth.

I’ll let you go read the rest, but suffice it to say, what we did then didn’t work, but what we do now by having so many mental health patients in prison, also doesn’t work.

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