Friday, December 30, 2005
We continue to debate how to deal with those who have shown themselves to be dangerous and mentally ill. To some extent the Americans with Disabilities Act is leading us to changing our conception of mental illness. In this case it is argued that Mr. Josephs was not mentally ill and therefore not dangerous after treatment. Through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries we held that once a person had an illness they always had it, and presumably the risk associated with it stuck to them. But looking back to colonial times in the U. S. A. people were often locked up when they seemed dangerous, but when the episode passed (obviouslly without effective medication) they were allowed to resume their usual roles in society. As I recall this was true for James Otis one of the signers of the constitution.