Let’s shrink mental health

Mental health departments complain they can’t do their job without more money, but are they doing much to begin with?  After running a home for mental patients, I’d say not.

Think of the mental health system as five levels:


  1. (1) Patients – many don’t want to get well, and the mental health system gives them little reason to.
  2. (2) Their relatives – many can be difficult.
  3. (3) Non-profes­sionals  [aides, live in staff].


  1. (4) Social workers –  bright and cordial, but often idealistic.
  2. (5) Doctors – their theories sound good but are often ineffective.

Living with mental patients

  • Earlier version in Dr. William Glasser’s JOURNAL OF REALITY THERAPY, Spg ’83.
    who said it was, “one of the most important papers I have read in a long time.”
  • Dr. Garth Wood (The Myth of Neurosis) said it was ” … wonderfully perceptive … “.
Most people would be surprised to learn what mental (not retarded) patients are like. I started and ran a home for them (men in their 20s and 30s), living with them for two years. It took a lot of time, discussion, and soul-searching to appreciate their characteris­tics. I concluded they were l0% ‘crazy’ and 90% spoiled, immature, and irresponsible.
I     Normal
pleasant, aware, non-criminal
———————————— | ———————————————

My suicidal friend


I had a friend for 25 years who was always depressed.  I believed his stories about his various mental ‘conditions’ and trying to improve.  I liked him a lot, but was blind to his parasitical nature.  He was always dumping his problems on me and even complete strangers.  That’s how he got attention.  When I had a problem, he didn’t care.

This went on over the years as he moved around the country going through self-help groups, therapists, jobs, acquaintances, and infatuations.  He never seemed to improve.  (He didn’t want to.)

Parents of mental patients

When discussing mental (not retarded) patients, many people are not aware of what the parents are like.  I had a some contact with them when running a home for male patients in their 20s and 30s.

Usually one parent called about visiting the home.  (Why didn’t the son call?)  The parents and son would arrive  (once this was a father in a Rolls Royce with black eyes the son had given him).  They would tour the house, sit down, whip out a cigarette, and discuss arrangements.