Mental illness did.
With the society wide surge of mental disorder during the pandemic, the U.S. has arrived at a moment of reckoning for a policy failure that has run like an open hydrant since the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1970s emptied the mental hospitals. The solution was supposed to be outpatient “community care.” It never happened.
Andrew Scull, author of a just-published book on psychiatry’s struggle to address mental illness (“Desperate Remedies,” recently reviewed in these pages), wrote a devastating critique last year of how politics and medicine have failed the mentally ill. “Community care,” he wrote, “was a shell game with no pea. In place of forcible confinement in publicly run asylums, the chronically mentally ill have been abandoned to their fate.”