[ExI] A Small Request

Fred C. Moulton moulton at moulton.com
Sun Feb 10 22:32:59 UTC 2008

On Sun, 2008-02-10 at 13:06 -0800, Lee Corbin wrote:
> Amara in reply to Barbara Lamar compromised with
>   It might be better for the ill person and the family members/friends
>   if the involuntary committment process could be changed so that
>   friends and family members are given a larger role and the
>   random-ignorant-policeperson given a smaller role.
> I would point out that the American (as opposed to, say, the 
> English) reaction was *never* to have such a role for government
> until the 20th century. 

A few minutes on Google provides several sources which indicate that the
above statement about the "role of government" being a 20th century
phenomena is either incorrect or misleading depending.  First it should
be pointed out that there were instances of "involuntary commitment" in
the sense that many persons were in jails or prisons rather than
institutions specifically for their treatment.  Secondly it was in the
mid 1800s that many of these institutions began to be constructed.
There was a reform movement began in the 1840s to construct asylums so
that persons commonly classified as "mentally ill" could be treated
rather than left in the usually deplorable conditions of the jails.  One
of the leaders of this movement was Dorthea Dix.

> And this change arose, I think, because of
> the anonymity of urban life, when in one sense people could
> become such complete individuals that they could no longer
> in any way to depend on family or friends, if that was their desire.
> Lee
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