Do Insane Asylums Dehumanize Their Patients?

By: Marly Aziz

I revised this blog to achieve a stronger and clearer counterclaim and rebuttal by incorporating a statistic, as well as adding more pathos by adding a real life story.

“People need to wake up to the sad story of widespread human rights violations against people with mental disorders in a number of countries” says Dr. Shekhar,  director of the World Health Organization’s department of mental health and substance abuses, in  a New York Times article. Overcrowded wards consist of poor sanitation and forced treatment. Rights of patients judged to be mentally ill are stripped away by many institutes, and patients are inhumanely treated. From country to country, the picture varies only little.


Others may say that patients are sent off to mental institutions because they may be a danger to themselves and the community. Others  also say that this way, the act of being isolated from society, is the best treatment for a mentally ill patient. According to the Treatment Advocacy center that aims to eliminate Barriers the Treatment  of Mental Illness : “A Swedish study of 644 individuals with schizophrenia followed for 15 years reported that they committed violent offenses at a rate four times greater than the general population.”  I, however, disagree with this idea.

Asylums should keep everyone safe, but they should also treat their patients in the best way possible. Not all individuals with mental illnesses are dangerous. If these patients were initially treated appropriately with the best care provided, there wouldn’t be evidence of dangerous individuals.  There should also be limits on what institutions may or may not do, so they don’t abuse their powers and dehumanize their patients to an extent, when it’s unnecessary.

Attention or response to the mentally ill is not a priority in most underdeveloped countries due to the significant amount of other problems the countries have. In the same New York Times article titled “Where Mental Asylums Live on”, the author states that many poor and developing countries warehouse thousands of mentally ill people in dirty and dangerous institutions, which brings up health warnings due to poor sanitation. Due to this, the warehouses only invite both the doctors and patients to more diseases. Thus, hurting them instead of helping. Money  that is given to these countries is directed towards serious life threatening diseases such as malaria or AIDS, leaving the mentally ill with little to no treatment as if their diseases weren’t as serious as the others.

The mentally ill are still human beings, but when placed in insane asylums, they’re treated as less than that.  In a video from USA Today , Karen Kelly, one of about 10 million of those who suffer from mental illnesses, says mental disorders are invisible diseases. In many cases, those who are mentally ill can look fine on the outside, however on the inside be “a total mess” as she described. She also mentions that those who suffer, never ask for what they receive , yet they still have to cope with it, and it’s a struggle. As human beings, patients still have emotions and feelings, and should be treated as every other human being on this earth, regardless of their mentality.

Institutions rely on physical violence in order to make their patients do what they want. If the patient still doesn’t respond, or do whatever the institute wants him/her to do, they progress on to more violent options. Referring back to the same New York Times article, the author writes a story about a 20 year old schizophrenic patient in Guatemala City, Donald Rodas, who described what he saw when he arrived to Guatemala’s only public, psychiatric hospital: “Those who refuse their medication are beaten and put in the “little room,” a barren isolation cell.” The author also states that long term use of restraints and electroshock without consent is also used on the patients.

People tend to overlook the problem of how unfairly patients with mental illnesses are treated. Is this maybe because that there are bigger problems in the world or that there are children dying and wars occurring. In some people’s eyes, the problems listed are bigger than this, but only think: if the sick person behind the uncanny walls of the mental hospital was you or your loved one, wouldn’t you want society to care?


“Cost of Not Caring: Nowhere to Go.” USA Today. Gannett, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

“Are People with Serious Mental Illness Who Are Not Being Treated Dangerous? – Backgrounder – Treatment Advocacy Center.” Are People with Serious Mental Illness Who Are Not Being Treated Dangerous? – Backgrounder – Treatment Advocacy Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

“ Mentally Ill Persons in Corrections.” Mentally Ill Persons in Corrections. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2015