Many people confuse mental illness with mental retardation, but I can assure you those are two separate things. Many people with mental illness are very talented and intelligent people. I’ve known other writers, musicians, dancers, artists, and other various intellectual types, who are very gifted, but need to take medication to be functional. Mental illness effects people’s thoughts and emotions. Mental retardation, like Down Syndrome, etc, is a learning or developmental disability. Retarded people gain years with the passage of time, but do not gain much maturity. Mentally ill people cannot function well without medication and psychotherapy. However, mentally ill can do some pretty remarkable stuff, otherwise, if given half a chance.
The Federal Government closed down the state hospital programs and other Federal welfare programs, under the direction of Ronald Reagan, to save the tax payers money. But what that did was put an entire segment of society out into the street to fend for themselves, who are not entirely capable of fending for themselves. The state hospitals have chronic, suicidal patients, who are committed by the doctors, but the advent of the general hospital psychiatric wards has placed an entire segment of society in jeopardy of an early demise from starvation and exposure to the elements. The very people panhandling at traffic lights are the result of Ronald Reagan’s actions as president.
Welfare fraud is one thing, but dropping an entire segment of society off to fend for ourselves, with our chronic disabilities, is one short step away from forming concentration camps for people who cannot be productive, under the prevailing standards of the common workplace. There are plenty of capable people out of work already, due to unemployment and drug addiction, to only name a couple of causes. To put all the people who cannot handle the modern workplace into the predicament of having to live in cardboard boxes in the woods, is a disgrace to the entire country.
I was diagnosed with schizo-affective schizophrenia at the beginning in 1972, when I was in university, where I never did graduate. In 1987 I graduated from college, with a 3.1 GPA, with an Associates Degree in the liberal arts. I’ve read a veritable plethora of classic philosophy and classic fiction. I’ve also written many stories and much poetry. Before my breakdown, when I was in university, I was earning merit scholarships on a quarterly basis, and functioning on an above-average level. Now, I’m living in assisted living, with a disability which has kept me on the periphery of the workplace for a lifetime. Generally, I have been almost completely unemployable, except for doing things like writing and playing guitar, most of my adult life.