In China, Keeping Mentally Ill in Cages is Common

I remember when I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, there was a family that had a little cage that their sons played in. It was a cage, not for them to live in, but to play in, but nonetheless, many neighbors talked about this with horror.

I recalled this yesterday when I read about how this is common in China…keeping mentally ill children and adults in cages to keep them from hurting family and neighbors. It’s a sad story because it goes back to economics. Few peasants in China can afford to pay to institutionalize their sick kids, so some put them in cages. The WSJ’s Nicholas Zamiska wrote about one family named Wang, whose son killed a woman in their village with a knife. With help from their neighbors, the Wangs built a 6′ x 7′ x 3′ wide cage and since 2003, they never let their son Guocheng out. After the murder, he was supposed to spend five years in prison, but a few months later the authorities let him live in his home cage instead.

“One day last March, Guocheng managed to break one of the bars loose from the top of his cage, crawled through the hole, and killed his mother, beating her to death with the bar. He later returned to the cage on his own. “

It’s pretty clear that his dad Wang Yanxu will never let him out again. But after the publicity and photos were published showing the murderer in his home cage, he was admitted to a Mental Disease recovery hospital, and the state decided to pay the $1600 per year expense.