The 5 Star Hotel

There was an article in the local paper speaking to the issue of some kinks in the new Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health. I won’t speak specifically to the electronic issues of the new facility. I don’t see it as newsworthy to report on a building that has problems upon start up. Don’t they all? It may be alarming to staff to have a patient in an area they shouldn’t be in but I doubt if it is a first. As a member of the public and having the benefit of a tour I can see exit from the actual building being unlikely. The staff is trained to deal with these situations and they have the backup of hospital security.  St. Thomas itself has a police force and the Ontario Provincial Police Detachment is less than a kilometer away. Making it far would again be unlikely. I wonder what the underlying sentiment is.

Seeing the comments following the article illustrates at least one issue.

I was at the opening and noticed…

Each patient has their own room, bathroom, DVD player and flat screen, comfortable lounge areas, outside courtyard with fountain, quiet room with wall fountain, lazy boy chair and sheepskin carpet, washer/dryer for every 6 patients, refreshment area with TV for every 6 patients, windows everywhere, fancy expensive hospital beds for people who are not physically sick or handicapped and patients are playing with controls and staff can’t fix it.

Sad to see a 5 star hotel where people are housed that have committed violent crimes, yet seniors and more deserving mental patients and handicapped people are in one star facilities.”

When we talk about stigma it takes on an obtuse form. These comments bring into focus the specific nature of the attitudes that lead to stigma.

“fancy expensive hospital beds for people who are not physically sick or handicapped…

Apparently this person is unaware of the fact that mental illness can be debilitating. It can be a permanent disability for some individuals. I feel sorry for the writer of these comments. If they ever fall in with the one in five who deal with mental illness they will be throwing away a good mattress. If people with mental illness are not worthy of a comfortable bed I suspect this person wouldn`t be either. It makes complete sense though to build a new facility and use 20 year old beds. A few of the old windows were usable as well.

This person seems to think there are degrees of value and worse that they are responsible for allocating it. For this person a judgement needs to be made to determine if someone is deserving. I have seen many forms of mental illness and experienced several. Try as I might I can`t think of any that are not deserving of compassion, respect, dignity or even comfort.

“Sad to see a 5 star hotel where people are housed that have committed violent crimes…”

It`s sad that this person was so preoccupied with making judgements that they didn`t listen to the guide clearly dispel this fallacy.

I would be curious to know what judgement needs to be made when a senior with a mental illness commits a crime. They are a senior so they are worthy of a comfortable bed but I guess they should sleep on concrete because their mental illness brought them into conflict with the law. Seniors sometimes find themselves involved with forensic mental health. Would grandma lose her worth in such a situation?

“more deserving mental patients”    Is my mental illness worth less than another?

This all reminds me of the hierarchy among prisoners. Your position in the pecking order was determined by your crime. It was an act that determined your worth. When you are literally stripped of everything you must create some other measure of value. Sex offenders were the lowest with a sub category reserved for pedophiles. I was often fascinated by the dynamics this created. The main fault of such a system is that in order to create your false sense of worth someone else has to be devalued. Jail is in some ways a mirror for the rest of society.

Inequality serves the purpose of overcoming feelings of inadequacy. We create a wider social pecking order and do our best not to be seen near the bottom. Prejudice is a tool to devalue another and discrimination is the application of attitudes whose underlying purpose is to create a false sense of worth in self.

The values we place on each other are a social construct; a fallacy that can and does lead to prejudice and discrimination. It is a house of cards if our worth is dependent on the devaluation of others.

We all put our pants on one leg at a time.

2 thoughts on “The 5 Star Hotel

  1. Brett: I received a link to this blog from a friend. Very nicely put; thanks for your remarks and saying them so well !!
    I know that sometimes the way to deal with ignorance is by ignoring it, however, I think that what you have to say is relevant and should be shared with the people that read the “drivel” that’s offered up to/by the Free Press.
    Unlike some people, I choose to look at each situation with a critical eye before I comment.

    • Hi Derek,

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your encouraging words. I try to keep in mind that someone’s opinion is often just that. However, each of us passes on our attitudes to family and friends and they eventually permeate our communities.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it.

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