Homeless People, Mental Illness and Brain Injuries

I’m not a front line worker when it comes to homelessness.  I have spoken with many homeless people, heard their stories and, yes, given them money, often in the face of disapproving glances from passersby, as if it were any of their business.  Homeless people are often thought of as threatening, loud, dirty, uneducated, lazy and drunk or drugged out.  There is some truth to these thoughts.  However, homeless people don’t have a monopoly on them.  

Homelessness forces people into the street where their every gesture, their actions, their conversations and their very beings are constantly visible.  If they are street bound, that is, if they have no temporary accommodations, no shelters to sleep in or no tent in the bushes, they are visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Being observed all the time, without privacy has to be very emotionally taxing, to say the least.  If the homeless person has mental health issues, a brain injury or an addiction (most of them) , the vulnerability of constant exposure must be enormously distressing, compounding any problems they might already have ‘behaving’ themselves and relating to other people.  Constant surveillance by the police and other agencies cannot but add to the stress of living homeless.  

Most of us, if we have too many drinks, get a little raucous, loud, or a little unruly, can catch a cab home and crawl into bed, secure in our isolation and out of the public eye.  Our homes are our refuge, a place where we can do things we wouldn’t dream of doing on the street or anywhere in public. In fact, if you can afford to rent or own a home, many behaviours and activities not for public consumption become viable.  Drinking to excess, getting stoned, walking around nude, all these things are possible if you live in a home.  Those are the things that make it so liberating when we move out of our parental homes into our own pads.  Privacy is precious and it’s obvious that the more wealth we have the more privacy we can buy.  

Privacy is not something homeless people can afford.  The public life that homeless people lead makes them incredibly vulnerable to being targeted, scapegoated and unfairly characterized as morally unacceptable and less than worthy in the eyes of many.  Mental issues, brain injuries, addictions and other problems are spread throughout the population, but the wealthy can buy themselves into expensive treatment programs and privacy.  Street people don’t have the same advantage.  Our attention is drawn to the homeless because of their visibility.  If we were subject to the same surveillance intensity they are we may not be so quick to judge and reject.  

Strombo | The World’s Oldest Gymnast: 86 Years Old And Still Rockin’ The Parallel Bars

Strombo | The World’s Oldest Gymnast: 86 Years Old And Still Rockin’ The Parallel Bars.

This story from Strombo is most inspiring.  Seems I need lots of inspiration lately and thankfully, I’m getting it.   This ‘old lady’ is twenty years older than I am.  I’ve got no excuses and lots of time.  Get out to the gym!

Click on the link above!


The Perfect Susan B. Anthony Quote That The Religious Right Would Really, Really Hate | MoveOn.Org

The Perfect Susan B. Anthony Quote That The Religious Right Would Really, Really Hate | MoveOn.Org.

If you were to read some of my blogs over the past few months you would find this quote perfectly understandable.  ‘God’ in whatever guise you might find is always a personification of what people think is ‘good’ about their society.  All other values or means not sanctioned as good by social leaders are considered satanic, demonic, evil.*  Ernest Becker, in Escape From Evil elucidates clearly the reason why we bifurcate society in this way, a process that started millenia ago.  We are so dependent on our societies for our lives, our sustenance, our culture that we naturally deify them.  Those who might threaten our societies from within or without are evil and must be destroyed or at least ignored, ostracized or shunned.  The closer one gets to the core of social values, the closer one feels to ‘God.’  It’s all just illusion, of course.  A big lie.  But comforting.

In a society characterized by the accumulation of monetary value, those who have been most successful in this venture are the high priests (think Goldman Sachs) and are virtually untouchable, even when caught doing immense damage to the ‘rest of us.’ It’s not about the ‘rest of us.’  It’s about their interests and how they coincide with the perpetuation of capital accumulation.  That’s the message of this quote.

* This can be as simple as a married woman who looks the way of a handsome man as they pass on the street thus offending the husband’s notion of how a good married woman should behave (look straight ahead, acknowledge no one) and as complicated as a whole society’s condemnation of homosexuality or of the poor who are considered no better than the walking dead.  It refers to a violation of expectations of ‘proper’ conduct.