Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How to Kill a Character Part II



A Darker Side

Introduction
Hopefully the links to old names for illnesses posted yesterday gave authors at least one idea for a way to (authentically) kill a character in their latest WIPs. Today the topic turns darker as we discuss the (lack of) treatment for those with mental illnesses and disabilities. While the diseases and conditions discussed yesterday often led to death, death was the final end of suffering. Those with illnesses/conditions of the mind found themselves alive in Hell.
Early Days and Reform
In early days, these unfortunates were cared for at home though often literally hidden away in attics and cellars. With the idea of institutionalized care, their plights worsened as they took up residence in cages and/or chained to damp walls without basic comforts.
Dorothea Dix crusaded tirelessly for more oversight and accountability for these hospitals and asylums. In the late twentieth century, community placement became the byword with some success and some failure which resulted in a large number of mentally ill persons becoming part of the homeless population.
Historical Background
In Nazi Germany, between 200,000-250,000 (and probably more) people with mental issues were part of the final solution--usually gassed and buried in unmarked graves. For the first three decades of this century, the United States used sterilization to limit a population deemed to be a drag on society. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., wrote the 1927 decision in Buck vs. Bell:
We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. . .Three generations of imbeciles are enough.
Today
In the late twentieth century, community placement became the byword with some success and some failure which resulted in a large number of mentally ill persons becoming part of the homeless population.

Related Links





·        Dorothea Dix


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