Can A Loony Bin Stand In For A Human Right To ‘Adequate’ Housing?

A truly ugly overgrown, abandoned mental hospital under a gloomy sky.
The Whittingham Mental Hospital, deemed unsuitable for purpose in 1960, hung on through allegations of patient abuse until it closed in 1995. Is it worthy of a new dawn in 2023? Read more about it here.

For those of us long enough in tooth that we are drooling over the keyboard, a seminal 1975 film stands out in memory. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest featured the bullying Nurse Ratched going nose-to-nose and always winning against those suffering from mental health issues1.

The movie was a strong influence on the movement to allow people to be free to be themselves, crazy or not, which began even before the ‘do your own thing’ hippy culture of the 1960’s. The influence of this movement helped hasten the closing of many public-funded ‘mental institutions,’ leaving all but the most profoundly disabled free to wander the streets, where they may well be found today if they have bucked the odds and survived.

Was it all a disastrously bad idea, this release of the ‘imprisoned’ mental health sufferers, now free to somehow survive on the streets along with hundreds of thousands of others, in world where ‘kicking a crazy to death,’ is practised sport?

NYC’s Mayor Eric Adams is currently prepared to say ‘enough is enough.’ He is empowering his authorities to ignore the rights of those whose behaviour suggests mental health problems. He’s also going after anyone else who feels safer in the streets. Adams says that he wants them institutionalized, where they can receive ‘proper care.’

Is this a scare tactic, designed to coerce the homeless who find the streets less dangerous than homeless shelters? Are they to be convinced by some spectre of a nonexistent Nurse Ratched in a not-now-built institution, which will probably never exist even at a wishful planning phase?

For a city struggling to create enough shelter beds for homeless citizens, let alone a flood of non-citizen refugees, it is hard to imagine budgets that will allow for the provision of far more expensive mental care housing. But if the money turned out to be actually there, it might be well worth an attempt to cure chronic homelessness, the spectre of Nurse Ratched notwithstanding

Read more at CNN: A hard look at New York’s controversial new approach to the homeless


  1. Searching for ‘Nurse Ratched’ on gives a movie-clip taste of her skill set.