Madness in the Streets: How Psychiatry and the Law Abandoned the Mentally Ill

Rael Isaac, Author, Virginia C. Armat, With Free Press $24.95 (436p) ISBN 978-0-02-915380-2
Taking aim at advocacy groups who view the homeless as ordinary people down on their luck, the authors of this scorching critique cite findings that 30% to 40% of the homeless suffer from major mental illness, and that a high proportion are substance abusers. Isaac, a sociologist, and freelance journalist Armat, blame the abandonment of the homeless mentally ill on the anti-psychiatry movement (led by Thomas Szasz, Ronald Laing, among others), on civil libertarians and on psychiatrists who foster the ``delusion that preventive community psychiatry could eliminate mental illness.'' Arguing that we have replaced the mental hospital with the 18th-century poorhouse which threw together the mentally ill, the retarded, criminals and the displaced, they warn that a humane system of care will be costly and might involve treatment of some mentally ill persons against their will. Their support for judicious use of electroshock therapy will also stir controversy. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
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