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Insanity Offense: How Americas Failure To Treat The Seriously Mentally Ill Endange Hardcover – 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; 1 edition (2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393066584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393066586
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 0.3 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #484,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The ill effects of not providing proper treatment for people with serious mental disorders has become all too apparent in recent years, writes research psychiatrist and treatment advocate Torrey (Surviving Manic-Depression). Released en masse from institutions beginning in the 1960s, the most severely ill are most likely to become homeless, incarcerated, victimized, and/or violent. Torrey details how civil liberties suits have prevented such people from being involuntarily institutionalized, leaving them a danger both to themselves and to others. Confronting these issues head on, Torrey offers both the clinical and the anecdotal, citing several tragic examples: in the case of Cho Seung-Hui, the 2007 Virginia Tech killer, he faults both the university and stringent state laws regarding involuntary commitment for neglecting to treat a clearly very ill young man. This reform-minded book calls for a change in laws affecting how mentally ill people are treated, keeping close track of those with a history of violent behavior and creating a more comprehensive treatment approach. Chilling and well documented, this text has many no-nonsense solutions to protect the mentally ill themselves as well as society as a whole. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Torrey's book describes a nation that has been unable to come up with a humane mental health policy—one that protects the ill from their own demons and society from their rare but deadly outbursts. — David Brooks (New York Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 33 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read which I thoroughly enjoyed July 7 2014
By Riderman1 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Finally, a psychiatrist that can write and explain what is going on in our society regarding all of these multiple killings. An excellent read which I thoroughly enjoyed.
52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long ovedue and too nice... June 23 2008
By Lewis Tagliaferre - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This author is not kidding...he really tells it as it is, but with a light touch that may miss the mark. State legislators need to be slammed up side the head to get their attention and I fear he is a little too politically correct. As the father of a middle-aged bi-polar daughter, I was blindsided by the impact of her disease. She is one of the lucky ones who found a qualified psychiatrist and medications that are working to keep her off the streets, but barely. Unless you experience the family impact of mental illness most people just walk on by. The civil rights lawyers and courts who curtailed mandatory treatment are the real criminals in this crisis and the author is too easy on them. Mental illness still is a great social taboo in this culture of control and cure. When neither are possible our government seems paralized to respond. Unfortunately, I fear that it will take a lot more homeless people and mentally ill criminal behavior to get the needed attention and reforms. But, hey, never forget that a few highly dedicated people can change things. Meantime, you suffer and hope. Read this book and get involved. Contact the National Alliance for Mental Illness in your area.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative July 24 2008
By Frank Bartolomey - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I knew nothing about Schizophrenia or the disaster well intended liberals and fiscal conservatives created when they released the mentally ill onto America's streets,before reading this most informative book.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This guy. June 27 2015
By Ali - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This guy. His numbers are solid, most of his reasoning is solid, but then you get to his solutions, and you think WTF man? Read it for education but take everything he says with a grain of salt.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Reading! Jan. 21 2009
By Loyd Eskildson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
At least one-third of America's homeless persons are severely mentally ill, while another one-tenth the population of jails and prisons are as well. About 25% of all severely mentally ill individuals living in the community are victims of violent crimes each year; this same group is responsible for at least 5% of all homicides.

Deinstitutionalization was a policy to move psychiatric patients out of public mental hospitals and place them in the community. The trend began after WWII, sparked by a series of exposes of dreadful conditions in state psychiatric hospitals and aided by the discovery of effective anti-psychotic drugs in the early 1950s. Unfortunately, essential after care in most places varied from inadequate to invisible.

Additional impetus came from the legal profession via logic that civil liberties were violated when patients were involuntarily treated in most cases, including refusing to take medications.

An estimated 4 million American adults have the most severe forms of psychiatric disorders - schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and sever depression. The most severe 1% are the ones most in need of enforced treatment.

Relatively simple solutions that Torrey recommends include direct observation of medication-taking (backed up by required inpatient commitment if not complied with), the use of longer-lasting medications (eg. single injections that provide treatment over 3-4 weeks), and compilation of local statistics that reveal the true cost of untreated mental illnesses.