Institutionalized Mental Patients

Vernon H. Mark, MD
JAMA. 1975;231(9):916. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240210012005.
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To the Editor.—  Charles D. Aring's commentary (230:849, 1974) on the plight of institutionalized mental patients raises some interesting questions. His humanitarian aims in writing such an article are to be applauded. However, some of his statements require careful documentation. He quite correctly states that villages and towns adjacent to state hospitals whose doors have been opened experience uneasiness (particularly when an act of extreme violence is committed by a released inmate). But his assertion that "these former inmates are glad for their new-found freedom" is unsupported by any study of recently released inmates.The unpleasant plight of chronic mental patients recently released from psychiatric institutions was described by Robert Riech in an editorial (Am J Psychiatry 130:911, 1973); he called it a "national disgrace." This deplorable situation received attention in New York State when the State Board of Social Welfare refused to license new proprietary homes for released mental


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