Sunday, November 29, 2015

An Embarrassed Court

The Detroit Free Press, January 5, 1892
I usually don't post the more mundane general articles about the asylum but this one has relevance for a few reasons. Mainly, because it shows that the care of the mentally ill has always been inadequate over the past hundred plus years and is not a new phenomenon as current politicos would have you believe. Many aspects of modern life are devoid of meaning due to the overwhelming dependence of people on the industrial economy as opposed to the relative freedom of the agricultural system. Not that people were better off financially back then but they were at least autonomous and in charge of their immediate destiny thanks to the stronger social networks that existed in communities and families.

Secondly, it notes the burning of the Pontiac Asylum, which caused a further strain on the already overburdened mental health system. The Wayne County Court was handcuffed because of their own standards of placing patients. What the difference between an indigent and a pauper was not clarified but since both mean pretty much the same thing apparently only the penniless-homeless were admitted.

Lastly, the Northern Michigan Asylum at Traverse City offered assistance but couldn't accept inmates until their new accommodations were ready some time in the spring of 1892. Despite the lack of resources at least there was communication and cooperation between the state and county institutions unlike their government counterparts.

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