Friday, September 3, 2010

Using insanity as a way out of the insanity

There's an interesting article by SlumJack, posted to the homeless section of, titled "How Homelessness Causes Psychiatric Disorders."

The main character, Alex, undergoing "aversion therapy" in the movie version of A Clockwork Orange.
I buy in to the thrust of what SlumJack writes in his piece, without being too sure of some of his details.

The gist of the argument is this, in my dandified words [Excuse me, SlumJack, if I am broadening your argument a tad.]:

If you are a longterm sane and sober chronically homeless person, you are stuck waist-deep in the big Muddy Muddy.  Unless you make a claim of being bonkers, and get certified as such (which isn't difficult to accomplish what with the too-eager and -friendly "doctors" out there), you'll never get out of the homeless-help services' Cesspool of Hopelessness that they (and society, with it's disinterest in your circumstance) has put you in and left you in.

But there is a steep price to becoming a certified-insane sane person:  You'll get treatment, most of which is on the order of what the character Alex was put through in Clockwork Orange.  That is, your brain'll get mucked with, and you will, just generally, move from one Cesspool of Hopelessness to a different, adjacent one.

SlumJack ends his essay with this wisdom: 
…being homeless is such a hard way to live, being such a day-to-day, hand-to-mouth, relentlessly difficult existence that one can come around to, well, adjusting his priorities. As O. said to me: "I'm not getting any younger and this ain't getting any easier."

This process has been going on a long time, too. While some people on the streets are indisputably sick, I can't help wondering what this farce might mean in terms of the much-publicized rates of mental illness in homeless people.

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