MENTAL ILLNESS THE MORAL DILEMMA (SCHOOL ESSAY)

 

  When I hear this anthem, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It sickens me because it is an out right lie!

      The last six word appear to be pretty concrete, Liberty and Justice for all, is what America has been asking children to pledge for years. It doesn’t read Liberty and Justice for the wealthy, Liberty and Justice for anyone under the age of fifty. It doesn’t read Liberty and Justice for anyone with red hair, or Liberty and Justice for celebrities with more than ten years in the industry. For years I stood in school with my right hand place on my heart and the words that resonated in my mind as a child and still today are “Liberty and Justice for all.”

      Herbert Spencer theory was, only the strongest and fit would survive, and the weaker, less fortunate, smaller, uneducated, and economically challenged would die off. Spencer’s theory is undeniably true. In the early 1800s the mentally ill were locked away in asylums, caged like rats, and treated very badly because they were unable to fend for themselves. There were very few, if any, resources back then for people with mental illness. Spenser’s theory is continuously proven every time a mentally ill patient is jailed and house with common criminal. When they are not capable of being a part of their recovery process and when options are not mapped out for them in a collaborative way. They are denied liberty and justice that has been so freely promise centuries ago.

      There is a definite moral dilemma anytime there is a human life that is disregarded like yesterday’s trash. Often time’s human service workers who are paid to monitor mental health clients through a case management service are over worked and under paid. Still no excuse for breaking codes of ethics and also mental health patients are over medicated and unable to collaborate with case worker. This does not sound like liberty and justice for all, not for the mentally ill anyway. Even with manageable clients because of heavy case load clients are not getting the services that they need. In some cases clients become so completely lost and start committing crimes leaving the law no other choice but to lock them up. Thus, leaving the mentally ill client to fend for themselves, behind bars, with no guardianship they become victims.

      Therefore they become prey to some pretty hard core criminals. There are really not many options to assist these clients. There are so many resources being depleted for services, these programs genuinely want to help. In January 2006 the Harrisburg Hospital that housed over 2,000 patients abruptly closed down. Those patients were sent out in the community and other institutions that I am sure where not a good fit for them. There were a lot of severely mentally ill patients on those grounds and I often wonder what happen to them.

      My uncle was one of those patients and thank God he has a family who cares about him and his well being. My grandmother, who is his mother, found him somewhere safe and stable to live; she knew the changes were coming to the hospital. He had a friend I remember seeing often after the hospital closed. He just kind of hung around the Harrisburg area, I remember him and my uncle chain smoked and drank Pepsi all day. Obsession is one of the symptoms of mental illness so chain smoking and caffeine was what they did all day. They were really good friends, they were safe and happy. I remember the visits to see him, they were so free on the state hospital ground, and they were home.

      I run a self help meeting at Dauphin County Prison and have been for the last 12 years, I go every other week through an organization we will keep anonymous. My uncle’s friend came into the meeting; it had been several years since the hospital had closed down. He told me he had been transported to the mens mission for the homeless after the hospital shut down. He says he couldn’t get his medication stable with out help from the usual nursing staff they had been provided at the hospital. He seemed healthy and on his medication from my eyes view but the black eye and busted lip he sported told another story. He obsessively asked where my uncle was, never giving me a chance to answer before he would ask again.

      He recognized me immediately, he told me he had stayed out one night just roaming Harrisburg and they put him out of the mission. Traumatized I’m sure from the culture shock. He was arrested several times for loitering and after being released with no family and no where to go he says he continued to loiter. He accumulated fines that he was unable to pay and has been in dauphin County Prison for over a year he said. Liberty and justice for all is not uprooting people who have been in the same building there entire lives and telling them they have to get out of there home, the only one they knew. With no real destination, almost like a last call in a bar; “you aint got to go home but you gosta get the hell up out of here”

      There is a sure dilemma, do we leave them in jail to rot with common criminals to become victims or do we set them aside somewhere in an overcrowded group home with unskilled workers? Do we over medicate them to the point they are unable to make there own choices? Choices are made by people who don’t care either way, just as long as they get paid and keep a job where they do absolutely nothing. Purposely over medicated clients to keep them immobilized is wrong that is not liberty or justice. Neither is throwing them in jail with common criminals, that isn’t liberty or justice either.

      It is a real hard choice to make when dealing with programing cuts and mental illness neither option is one I am comfortable with. No one wins, if my uncle didn’t have family I would rather see him in a group home over medicated than in jail being beaten and possibly raped. These are hard choices, as long as cuts to mental health programing continue to be cut this moral dilemma will always exist. It is high time we start caring for the weaker less fortunate, I suppose Herbert Spencer was right, only the strong survive.

 

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6 comments

  1. “Liberty for all” means that everyone is equally permitted to make their own choices and preform their own actions. “Justice for all” means that everyone has the same consequence for those actions.

    It seems to me that you are complaining that mentally ill people are being treated the same way as everyone else, not given preferential treatment. So your problem is not that “Liberty and justice for all” is a lie, but that it is too close to the truth.

    I am mentally ill, and I firmly believe in equal treatment under the law. I don’t believe that there should be one set of rules for “crazy people” and one set of rules for “sane people.” I grateful that I live in a nation where I am allowed the same dignity and respect under the law as someone who doesn’t have an axis I diagnosis.

    If I break a law, I expect to be treated the same way as anyone else who breaks a law. If I don’t pay my bills, I expect to be treated the same way as anyone else who doesn’t pay their bills. That is liberty, that is justice.

    You may feel that some people deserve to pay taxes in order to provide services for other people. Most Americans do. But please don’t complain that shutting down social welfare programs is a lack of “liberty and justice.” It’s a lack of privilege and special treatment.

    1. Hello MishaBurnett (: AAAHHHH YESSS, the great debate this is what this essay needed a good critique, it isn’t due until next week, this is why I love wordpress. Ok where shpold I start. Great with your starting with your definition of Liberty and Justice and I love your passion. Justice for all is a lot more than your definition and is described much different in the dictionary MishaBurnett it could be decsribed as (the moral principle determining just conduct) or (the administering of deserved punishment or reward) (rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason) or (good reason.) We where asked to use the Categorical Imperative and the Utilitarian Principle, Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes overall happiness. A categorical imperative, on the other hand, denotes is absolute, unconditional requirement that asserts its authority in all circumstances, both required and justified as an end in itself. Liberty and Justice was my categoral theory. Because Liberty and Justice stand alone and is supposed to be absalute but IT IS NOT! I used the Utilitarian Principle because moral dilemmas have two or more solutions neither are favorable but the Utilitarian Principle is about which solution maximizes overall happiness. Thats why I choose over medication rather than prison.

      You are so right when you say liberty and justice is to close to the truth but not truth extirely. You say you are mentally ill, ok so you might take medication and you seem independent and head strong and that is great for you. What happens to the people who are not as strong. We know the law to be right or wrong where justice is concerned, however we live in America where the law is governed by wicked people. Evidence by so many people in leadership rolles going to jail. This is not an essay and I dont get extra credit for blogging (: so I wont name them all just watch the news MishaBurnett. So when I speak of Liberty and Justice for all I speak for the mentally ill who are not as bright as you are. The ones who neeeds around the clock monitoring. Can It really be justice If a patient gets put in jail for petty crimes and they have no moral reasoning. IS IT JUSTICE??? NO I DONT THINK SO.

      You say if you break the law treat you the same as anyone else, well thats good but do they treat crimes of passion the same or the criminally insane. How about while under duress, both are crimes while the mental is not at it”s full working capability. These do get treated differnt and we scream at the tv when we see the verdict but we must take under consideration mental status where justice is concerned.

      LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL! THANKS YOU FOR HELPING STIMULATE THIS THIS THICK HEAD OF MINES…LOL HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY AND THANKS FOR THE CRITIQUE I WELCOME THEM (:

  2. Meaningful words for this particular conversation. I was 11th grade history teacher Miami Dade public schools 33 years. 4th largest district in nation and probably has the most extensive staffed and funded program for mentally ill, physically handicapped and learning disabled in the country.

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