Conventional wisdom is of course that Palin is responsible for the murders in Arizona. More comes out every day that Loughner exhibit traits of schizophrenia. If so, it would have been nice if the combination of educators, parents, friends, and officials could have taken some steps to place Loughner under proper care (you know so Palin could not get to him with her mind control), but it actually very hard to force people with severe mental diseases to be treated because of a range of reforms pushed by progressives starting in the 60's:
- Ronald David Laing, a Scottish Psychiatrist, In the 60's put forth the foundation of the Anti-Psychiatry movement. He maintained that schizophrenia was "a theory not a fact". The popularity of Laing's theories is blamed for decline in students entering the psychology profession.
- President John F. Kennedy's 1963 Community Mental Health Centers Act accelerated the trend toward deinstitutionalizationwith the establishment of a network of community mental health centers and changes in laws regarding commitment.
- Kenneth Kesey, wrote "One Flew over the Cukoo's Nest"based in part on Laing's thinking (and his own intensive use of drugs). "Kesey did not believe that these patients were insane, rather that society had pushed them out because they did not fit the conventional ideas of how people were supposed to act and behave." The Book,play, and later the movie, portrayed a anti-psychiatry philosophy leading to a public displeasure with residential mental facilities resulting in further deinstitutionalization policies.
- Deinstitutioanlization led to many legal and structural changes. American public mental hospital patients declined from more than 550,000 in 1955 to fewer than 40,000 at present. The displaced patients now represent 30-50% of the homeless populations.
As a result of Laing, Kennedy, Kesey and public efforts to transform the mental health care system to be more humane, to characterize mentally ill people as "Just thinking differently", and characterizing mental health care as some form of evil, we now have a system that makes it virtually impossible to get folks like Loughner the care they need.
Deinstitutionalization policies driven by "do good" liberals and the federal government put focus on limited bad acts. Kesey wrote a story based on his LSD induced observations in one VA mental hospital. Once his story was put into film, his small example falsely characterized the bulk of mental health care as dehumanizing and made it impossible to force the Laughners of the world to get treatment.
If someone other than Laughner is to blame, I think it might be the progressives.