The title of this book comes from Scott Walker’s aide, Kelly M. Rindfleisch, who dismissed mental health legislation with “No one cares about crazy people.” Ron Powers cares about crazy people because both of his sons suffered from schizophrenia. Powers’s older son, Dean, committed suicide when he was 21-years-old. The younger son still struggles with his mental health problems. Ron Powers provides an insightful and informative history of how mental health has been dealt with over the past 200 years. We’re a long way from chaining patients up in Bedlam, but when President Reagan closed several mental health facilities, he created a new class of mental health sufferers: the Homeless. Powers shows how the “promise” of new drugs to “cure” mental conditions like schizophrenia failed to deliver the benefits doctors and patients hoped for. Today, we’re mired in a stasis where mental health is relegated to the shadows despite the increasing numbers of people who suffer from depression and bi-polar disorders. No One Cares About Crazy People argues for a new approach to dealing with mental illnesses and shows what can be done when people focus on this important issue. GRADE: A
Preface xiii
1. Membrane 1
2. What Is Schizophrenia? 21
3. Regulars 39
4. Bedlam, Before and Beyond 56
5. Eugenics: Weeding Out the Mad 79
6. “A More Normal World” 103
7. “When They Were Young” 110
8. Madness and Genius 115
9. “If Only, If Only, If Only…” 128
10. Chaos and Heartbreak 142
11. The Great Unraveler 156
12. Surcease 175
13. Debacle 187
14. “Hey Fam—” 205
15. Antipsychotics 221
16. “Something Unexplainable” 245
17. “We Have Done Pitifully Little About Mental Illness” 264
18. “Primoshadino” 284
19. Red Sox 17, Yankees 1 297
20. Insanity and Icarus 299
21. Someone Cares About Crazy People 316
Epilogue 330
Acknowledgements 333
Notes 335
Index 349
About the Author 361


  1. Deb

    It’s truly shameful how few resources we devote to mental illness in our country–and, yet, almost all of us have a relative or friend who is suffering from some element of it. I remember when I first moved to Los Angeles in 1980 (some years after Reagan closed the state-run institutions in California) and obviously-disturbed people were on the streets, endangering themselves and others. Yes, as with so many things, it all goes back to Reagan.

    1. Deb

      I should emphasize that Reagan, while Governor of California, closed the state-run institutions for the mentally-ill. When he became President, he was apparently able to implement his plan nationwide.

      1. george Post author

        Deb, with those Reagan Federal budget cuts many state psych centers closed. Then, we started to get the phenomenon of street people (who used to reside in those psych centers) flooding the Emergency Rooms. I would rather have citizens with mental problems in a mental-health facility rather than living under a bridge.

    2. george Post author

      Deb, my sister used to be the head of Medical Records at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center (before NY State closed most of it). She said they would put patients out on the street with the admonition: “Don’t forget to take your pills!” And Buffalo’s homeless population doubled overnight.

  2. Jerry House

    The way we treat mental health issues in this country is a crime. Not enough resources and not enough qualified medical professionals. We worked in the foster care system for years and one of our foster children was a schizophrenic girl who was with us for over six years. Her regular doctor thought she was a mute because he never made the effort to talk to her. Other doctors were of the medicate the s*** our of her without any thought to what medications to use. Time after time we have seen medical professional and social workers with little knowledge of (or the ability to work effectively with) mental health issues. Luckily, there some gems in the mental health field, but we need many more of them and far less of the other kind. The government’s current approach to mental health is unnecessarily destructive and unnecessarily costly in the long run.

    **climbing of my soapbox now**

    1. george Post author

      Jerry, you are so right about the dysfunctional mental health system in the U.S. Yes, there are some gems, but we need a lot more. Ron Powers’s book shows the Government’s ineffective approach to mental health problems isn’t working.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    That is exactly the kind of person you’d expect Caring Scott Walker to hire. Scum.

    Yes, Reagan let everyone out and, naturally, New York got a big proportion of them. There have been too many cases of people being pushed on the subway tracks or slashed at random. I remember before my brother moved to Oregon, he was walking down the street in Manhattan and a guy just punched him in the stomach at random. When he turned around, the guy was talking to someone who wasn’t there.

    Thank you, Ronald Reagan. And with Trump and Paul Ryan and friends cutting money from health services for tax cuts to millionaires, it is not going to get better.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, if there’s a choice between the Wall and funding mental health programs, I’d vote for the mental health programs. But we live in Cruel Times when the politicians are all chasing a buck.

  4. maggie mason

    I well remember living thru reagan’s “reign” in Cali. He also did a number on school lunches by deeming catsup a veggie. I have a vague recollection he sold it because it was “cruel” to keep people in an institution (where they could get meds, food and shelter), when his real agenda was to cut costs

    Our hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed by people who really need intense care, and our ambulences are overwhelmed by calls for these people. Our paper had a series about some of the most “frequent” emt users.

    now we have someone who makes reagan look like a philanthropist

    1. george Post author

      Maggie, the mental health crisis is only getting worse. The opioid epidemic results in large part because people with mental problems “self-medicate” from lack of care.

  5. wolfi

    Crazy, but it happens everywhere like here in Hungary where they also closed the largest psycihiatric hospital (or rather a place where they kept some people for their own good …) and sent several hundred people onto the streets of Budapest …

    On the other hand I’ve often read that docs in The USA are very “generous” with those pills like SSRI, etc and there are quite a few deaths from this. Maybe as much or more than from ?

    I’ve also had friends in Germany who suffered from different syndromes (they’re all dead now …) so I know how difficult it is to be in contact with someone who is bipolar e g. – and the number of medications they got and what happened when they didn’t take them or took too much, horrible!

    For a moment I felt crazy myself when I read “Scott Walker” – I thought:
    Wtf is the connection here to the Walker Brothers – you know: The sun ain’t gonna shime anymore …

    1. wolfi

      My original answer contained the names of some of these pills – which lead to wordpress not accepting it …
      After several tries I remembered that problem again and deletd the names …

      Funny in a way – you can get all these pills from your doc but you’re not allowed to write the names!

      1. Jeff Meyerson

        Wolfi, the worst category of commercials running here now – and they tend to run 4 times an hour during the news and the evening shows we watch – is the “Ask Your Doctor” ads. Big Pharmaceutical companies tout their new drugs as “miracle” products, great for arthritis or whatever else, and encourage you to get your doctor to prescribe them to you. At the end of the commercials, they are legally required to list the possible side effects – cancer, death, etc.

        I hate those ads.

      2. george Post author

        Jeff, one of our friends with rheumatoid arthritis went on one of those “miracle” drugs advertised relentlessly on TV. Within six months, he was battling lymphoma (a side-effect of the drug).

  6. wolfi

    In Germany you donb/ have these ads as often as in the USA – but here in Hungary! And the way they run those disclaimers at high speed at the end to save time is really funny in a way…

    I also remember how astonished we were when we saw ads for those “blue pills” on TV in Niagara Falls with famous people, even politicians – not that I don’t have anything against them pills, use them myself …

    But generall the (mis)use of pills is a big problem over here in Europe too. However to get really heavy stuff like those z-drugs on prescription you have to have a real problem – my doc won’t even give me sleeping pills. I’m happy about that, just asked him once what he thought of them.

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, the U.S. drug commercials have to disclose possible “side-effects.” Sometimes, the list of what could go wrong–“depression, fatigue, nausea, suicidal thoughts, etc.–go on for half the ad!

  7. Lauren W.

    I have personally dealt with anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphia, so I know how painful it can be to deal with mental illness. I also know people who deal with even more severe issues, like schizophrenia. One of the students I tutored at ECC had schizophrenia, and even though he was on medication, it clearly impacted his life immensely. Also, one of my brother’s friends, Henry, has developed schizophrenia. Henry was in his early 20’s when we met him, and as is common with schizophrenics, he didn’t begin having symptoms until his mid 20’s. I think that knowing Henry has helped me to have even more empathy for schizophrenics because I have seen how much the schizophrenia has taken away from his life. A few weeks ago, I was at Spot Coffee and there was a schizophrenic man in the cafe who was arguing and swearing at a figment of his imagination. I was sitting next to this man and had purposefully not moved away because I didn’t want the workers at Spot to feel like he was bothering me. Eventually, one of the baristas told him to leave and I wondered if I should have said something to encourage the barista to let him stay. I felt bad because it was snowing outside and I doubt he had anywhere to go. I can understand why the workers at Spot wouldn’t let him stay, because they need to run a business, but that is exactly the problem -the proper resources for mental illness aren’t sufficiently available. The book that you are recommending sounds really interesting!

    1. george Post author

      Lauren, I’ve dealt with students with mental problems for over 30 years. It’s a sad situation. The College provided Counseling Services that managed to help some students. But many students refused to access the mental health services that were available. Suspicion and trust issues kept many students from seeking the help they needed. You would find new information and focus if you read NO ONE CARES ABOUT CRAZY PEOPLE. It’s a great book!

  8. ron

    I have nearly completed reading the book. I don’t want to go back and reread to be sure I am not in error, but I have been thinking it was the younger of his two sons, not the older who committed suicide.

    1. george Post author

      Ron, you’re right. From a NY TIMES review: “…their younger son, Kevin, a gifted musician, began to exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia at age 17. Three years later, in 2005, he took his own life. Dean, the Powerses’ elder son, also developed the disease but eventually found some stability and a productive life through vigilant, compassionate care.” Thanks for the correction.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *