Human Society & Mental Illness

Throughout most of human history, mental illness remained a mysterious affliction, thought to represent the presence of evil spirits; for this reason, psychotic individuals were either confinded to asylums or put to death. Even today, some religious groups promote the concept that psychosis is the result of demonic possession.

While modern science has uncovered the pathophysiology of mental illness, this diagnosis retains its negative image and the families, friends and associates of afflicted individuals are loathe to acknowledge or discuss its effects. Even though drug companies have succeeded in turning some behavioral conditions, such as ADHD and Bipolar Disorder, into national fads, the diagnosis of a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia, is often kept under wraps.

The unwillingness or inability to deal directly with the consequences of psychoses extends beyond the immediate family to society as a whole. Insufficient funding is directed to inpatient and outreach facilities, responsible parties ignore the clinical signs of disease progression, laws prevent confinement of uncooperative patients and untreated psychotic individuals roam our communities. Squeamish about mental illness, human society looks the other way, setting the stage for the tragedies at Virginia Tech, Tucson and many future locations.