The ill effects of not providing proper treatment for people with serious mental disorders has become all too apparent in recent years, writes research psychiatrist and treatment advocate Torrey (Surviving Manic-Depression). Released en masse from institutions beginning in the 1960s, the most severely ill are "most likely to become homeless, incarcerated, victimized, and/or violent." Torrey details how civil liberties suits have prevented such people from being involuntarily institutionalized, leaving them a danger both to themselves and to others. Confronting these issues head on, Torrey offers both the clinical and the anecdotal, citing several tragic examples: in the case of Cho Seung-Hui, the 2007 Virginia Tech killer, he faults both the university and stringent state laws regarding involuntary commitment for neglecting to treat a clearly very ill young man. This reform-minded book calls for a change in laws affecting how mentally ill people are treated, keeping close track of those with a history of violent behavior and creating a more comprehensive treatment approach. Chilling and well documented, this text has many no-nonsense solutions to protect the mentally ill themselves as well as society as a whole. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
According to research psychiatrist Torrey (Surviving Manic Depression), one percent of America's schizophrenic and other seriously mentally ill people is dangerous, a subgroup that numbers 40,000 in the United States. Here, he offers three explanations for this nationwide threat: deinstitutionalization, which allowed for the emptying of state hospitals without providing adequate community mental-health services, opposition to enforced treatment by antipsychiatry conservatives and liberal defenders of civil rights, and the failure of mental health advocates and professionals to address or even study the problem for fear of stigmatizing all psychiatric patients. Today, he writes, ten percent of this country's jail inmates and one-third of its homeless are seriously mentally ill; of the latter group, 25 percent are victims of violent crime annually. Torrey believes that court-enforced treatment, including involuntary commitment and monitored medication, would allow many to function adequately and make us all safer. His critical analysis, which effectively mixes dramatic narratives and chilling statistics, calls for changing policies that have proved inhumane, costly, and dangerous. An important, powerful, and thoroughly researched book; essential for most libraries.
E. James Lieberman