I read Clayton Cramer on a regular basis and I absolutely agree with him on many things, including his discussions of mental illness.
But he went beyond what I can agree with in this post when he said there was little that clearly showed that people were committed for no reason. There weren’t very many who proved that, so it must not be true.
Most cases don’t make it to the courts. If your family puts you in a mental hospital, who will help you get out?
Elizabeth Packard was committed by her husband. Her children helped her get out.
Nelly Bly was committed because she acted unusually. Her editor got her out.
My colleague’s uncle was sent to an asylum because he had grand mal seizures and people still thought that meant demon possession. He never got out. The treatment he received in the asylum made him lose his mind. He was put in to the State Hospital in the 30s. He was still there in the 80s. I assume he’s dead by now, but if not, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is still there.
That’s only anecdotal, but that’s three that I know of who were sent to the mad house who did not belong there.