Not so long ago, in 1947, psychiatric patients at Philadelphia State Hospital (and elsewhere) straggled, squatted, and sat like wretched zombies, naked in cold and empty wards, despoiled in their own incontinent filth, barely surviving conditions comparable to German concentration camps that America had liberated just two years before. (If you don’t believe this, Google “a mental ward exposed” and see for yourself…)
With the introduction of Thorazine in 1955 and the civil rights litigation in the 1960s, hospitals started to empty. But replacement mental health services in the community still were not present. As a result, tens of thousands of discharged patients went untreated and homeless into the streets. Those who remained in hospitals fared little better.
Even 20 years later abysmal conditions continued. In 1966, while campaigning in her husband’s first gubernatorial race, Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter met many voters with loved ones in Georgia’s notorious Central State Hospital. Conditions were utterly deplorable. None were receiving treatment. Abuses abounded. Even children were being housed with adults. Those on the outside were faring no better…
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