Re: Sorry if you were offended, here is the point reworded
From: melanie griffin (
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 2010 12:41:29 -0800 (PST)
As someone who works in the mental health field, I know there is a lot of
misunderstanding and stigma related to mental illness. Obviously, since
Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Patty Duke, Vincent VanGogh, and many other
famously functional people have had serious and persistent mental illnesses,
and could nonetheless qualify for mortgages, the two groups (those with
mental illness and the underemployed) are not the same group. Same with
those who perpetrate violent acts or are victims of violence and those with
mental illness.Because poor people have fewer resources to hide and
accommodate and treat their illnesses, they are more visible when they
display symptoms; poor people are also disproportionately represented in the
prisons, but nobody would say that they are less moral than rich people.

It's probably more accurate and helpful to name the behaviors that make
someone unable to function in community, and inaccurate to say that poor
people have more of those behaviors. Having a habit of running around with a
knife threatening people, whether motivated by anger, psychopathy, or
paranoia, is not a welcome behavior in a family, community, or workplace and
might lead to a less than ideal work history. It's also important to
remember, too, that people who are mighty dysfunctional at home can be seen
as normal at work (vis., just about every serious perpetrator of domestic
violence I've ever known) and vice versa (the ideal family man or woman who
is a monster of a supervisor)

It's true that some people with mental illnesses don't do well at work and
can't sustain a good credit rating; it's also true that some can.  I
understand that there are behaviors that preclude working well in community.
Can we stick to describing those behaviors and not make assumptions about
how much money you should or can have if you don't exhibit those behaviors
or call people crazy????? The original point, that those who are poor do not
have whatever it takes to survive in community, may have some statistical
support, but certainly does not apply to any given individual and strikes me
as elitist. Excusing it by saying poor people are crazier than rich people
just makes it worse. Finally, i think the real issue is that people who are
poor or even middle class can't afford to live in many communities,
including many cohousing communities, and that's just a fact. It's not
because they have character flaws or mental or physical disabilities.

On Sat, Jan 23, 2010 at 2:16 PM, Rob Sandelin <floriferous [at]> wrote:

> People who are crazy can not function well enough to hold jobs, thus will
> not qualify for mortgages. In the mid to late 90's I did workshops and
> mediations in over 100 intentional communities all around America.  I was
> usually called in because the group process had broken down to the point
> the
> community needed outside help to resolve it.  I experienced some very
> pathologically mentally ill people who seriously disrupted the communities
> they were part of. For example, a man who saw invisible monsters and ran
> screaming through a crowd of children swinging a large kitchen knife.  In
> my
> work in 35 cohousing groups I never experienced anything at the same level
> of mental illness, in fact almost all cohousing issues revolved around a
> lack of understanding or commitment to cooperation.  It was always in
> communities with no financial buy in required that had problems with
> mentally ill people.  Thus my experience leads me to the opinion that
> having
> to qualify for home ownership via a mortgage with a bank screens out most
> seriously mentally ill people, since they are unlikely to have the job
> history and income to qualify, and this is a good thing for cohousing.  I
> never said, lower income people are mentally ill. If you read that into my
> previous email you misinterpreted my point.
> Rob Sandelin
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