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July 12, 1985 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1985-07-12

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The Michigan Daily
ble zfirbian Ba
Vol. XCV, No. 29-S
95 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
Mt. Reagan more
PRESIDENT REAGAN on Mt. Rushmore. It boggles
Pthe mind.
It's not surprising that Reagan, one of the most popular
presidents in recent history, should be nominated to
assume a place beside George Washington, Abe Lincoln,
Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt in the Black
Hills of South Dakota. But to compare him to those men -
especially when he is still in office - is silly.
Fortunately, it seems that the possibility of getting
Reagan's face chiseled on Mt. Rushmore is about as likely
as a unilateral arms freeze. Jack VanSchoick, the 61-year-
old catastrophe insurance adjuster from Sturgis, Mich.
who is pushing the idea, said he got 25 or 30 letters and $50
in contributions after placing $300 worth of classified ads
in USA Today. VanSchoick figures if he can collect 20
million signatures by the end of the summer, his plan just
might go through. Keep dreaming, Mr. VanSchoick.
Perhaps someday President Reagan will be considered
"the moral equivalent of our founding fathers," much like
the rebels trying to overthrow the government of
Nicaragua, and join the 60-foot granite-sculptures. But
today, he is merely a man fighting budget and foreign bat-
Reagan could be carved onto Mt. Rushmore someday,
because he'll certainly be remembered in future history
books as an important president. And he won't have to be
gone too long before the carving might begin-Teddy
Roosevelt made it eight years after his death. In fact,
Reagan bears a certain resemblance to the "Rough
Rider" who rode his way to popularity up San Juan Hill.
Sure, Reagan was making war movies in Hollywood
during World War II, but his tough talk and aggressiveness
in Central America should compensate for that.
The similarities between Reagan and the other presiden-
ts on Mt. Rushmore are less clear. Unlike Abe Lincoln,
who freed the slaves (albeit partially for political reasons)
President Reagan has nominated conservatives not par-
ticularly sympathetic to civil rights to the Civil Rights
Comparing Reagan to Jefferson also fails the test. Jef-
ferson was a firm believer in freedom of the press and
freedom of expression, but the Reagan administration has
been short on news and big on propaganda. Reagan's ad-
vocacy of lie detector tests for government employees also
breaks with Jeffersonian ideals.
And George Washington - well, the greatest thing about
him is that he was the first president of the United States,
and Reagan certainly isn't that. Actually, it seems that
VanSchoick should probably follow the advice of one let-
ter-writer who said he would contribute to the cause if
VanSchoick tried to get Reagan carved on Mt. St. Helen in-

Friday, July 12, 1985

Page 5

Ignored victims: A case history
come (SSI) for the mentally and cess.
By Fritz Silber physically disabled, along with Twice John's mother had to call
Medicaid for the poor, there was police when he created serious
He paced the streets with nervous scant assistance for patients or their disturbances; the police came and
energy. Tall, gaunt, slightly stoop- families. gave him warnings. One day he
shouldered from a side-effect of drugs AND SO JOHN entered the smashed the apartment door when he
prescribed for him, he stared at 'revolving door" era of psychiatric couldn't find his key. His mother was
passers-by with paranoid intensity, care. He would brood in his room or given an eviction notice, with the ex-
chain-smoked as he walked. He said wander the streets. Occasionally he planation that other tenants had
inner voices spoke to him. During admitted himself to a hosptial for a threatened to move if she did not.
good times, he spent hours drawing short time, using Medicaid, mainly to Finally, she escaped to another
and writing, for both of which he had obtain tranquilizing drugs. When town. Fearful of hers son's potential
shown talent, and reading. there were gone - consumed or violence if he found her, she obtained
Recently, at age 32, after a series of forgotten - his turbulence returned a court order to keep him away.
arrests and hospitalizations for in full force. JOHN VANISHED into a nearby
creating disturbances, he hanged If his behavior caused a public city. Through phone calls from
himself ina hospital room. No one can scene, the police delivered him to a hospitals, his father learned of two
ever know whether the suicide, like hospital. But the law required the hospitalizations and one arrest in the
earlier attempts, might have been in- hospital to obtain John's consent to weeks just before the end. Then came
tended only as a cry for help. keep him more than 72 hours - if in- the call announcing the suicide.
LET US CALL him John - not his deed it wanted to keep a Medicaid It is no more possible to describe
true name, though this is a true story, patient at all - or release him. John the countless hours of anguish,
John's schizophrenic behavior rarely elected to stay beyond the legal despair, anger, fear, guilt, and grief
emerged in his mid-teens, starting a limit, experienced by John's family than it
cycle of therapy, medication, and Increasingly, he became a burden is to describe the tortured thoughts
hospital stays. At home, life with his on his family, and, less directly, on and emotions crowding his own brain
parents and sister became filled with friends and other relatives. His in his disordered life. John was not
turmoil and stress. mother and father divorced, his sister exactly "homeless" as are thousands
Help was sought in many direc- married and had a child. Often his of mentally disturbed people who live
tions, but the course of John's illness family did not know where John was, in our streets and shelters, but he was
could not be changed. He continued to though he somehow always had an essentially one of them - a virtual
live an inward, isolated existence address for receipt of his SSI checks. outcast in a society that seems not to
marked by unpredictable outbursts. He was frequently broke because he care.
John's troubles coincided with spent a lot on cigarettes and disposed Modern medicine has allowed us to
significant changes in the care of the of ready cash in unknown ways. He abolish the madhouse. But it has been
mentally ill. State psychiatric pressed his father for money, and on- unable to reconcile the desperate
hospitals were attacked and often ex- ce assaulted him. need for humane care for the men-
posed as mere custodial bedlams. THEN, A FEW months before his tally incompetent with the libertarian
Crusades were mounted to protect death, he went to live with his mother, notion that they must have the right
patients. Legilators, psychiatrists This turned into a disaster. He paced and freedom to decide the course of
and concerned organizations respon- at night, destroying her sleep and their own lives. This has imposed
ded. scarring her apartment with cigaret- terrible but largely ignored burdens
REFORMERS demanded that teburns. At one peint, his mother per- on patients' families.
patients be released to their com- suaded him to accompany her to a We must not continue to abandon,
munities, and insisted on prohibiting community crisis center where a our disturbed sons and daughters to
involuntaryncommitments except for psychiatrist and social worker tried, the streets, and their families to bit-
brief, emergency hospitalization. in vain, to get his consent for long- ter sorrow.
They urged strong legal safeguards term treatment. John refused to go Silber wrote this or Pacific
and iron-clad psychiatric cer- there again, but did visit hospitals to Servwce
tification before long-term com- seek medication, usually with no suc- News Service.
mitment could be ordered without the (t =y- =
patient's consent.
Most of this came to pass. A new
day was hailed for people like John.
But it turned out to be a dismal day -
perhaps even more dismal for John's
family than for John himself. -

Few community-care resources
were available, and there were not
nearly enough trained personnel,
facilities or financial support
programs to help the flood of for-
merly-hospitalized patients. Until
Social Security and state plans
provided Supplemental Security In- -
i5 AV H5 WAY 1

by Berke Breathed

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