People often use terms today which may sound harmless, without knowing their true origins. Take the words Bedlam and Tomfoolery. Bedlam of course indicates a state of great confusion. And people who act silly, are often said to be engaging in tomfoolery. Bedlam of course anyone will tell you is short for St. Mary of Bethlehem, a notorious old insane asylum in London. It later became a hospital for the mentally ill, and still is in operation today. Tomfoolery is a more obscure term. Tomfoolery is derived from the archaic term Tom-Fool. Tom o'Bedlam and Poor Tom are names formerly applied to the demented and developmentally disabled, because they often ended up in Bedlam. (Also interestingly insubordinate wives were sometimes placed in Bedlam. Couldn't they just get a divorce?)Bedlam was the first attempt at humane care for the mentally ill. People there lived under appalling conditions by today's standards. People paid a penny to observe the patients like specimens in a zoo. But you have consider how life would've been for these people otherwise. Mentally ill and developmentally disabled people were often beggars. And beggars had a very low status back then. Queen Elizabeth I famously said she'd rather be a beggar woman than a queen married. Because people apparently never even helped beggars back then (how'd they eat?). I at least am inclined to give them credit for at trying to care humanely for these people. (Also I recently read the patients there were given unlimited amounts of beer for lunch, which is interesting. You know, drinking water was often contaminated back then.)IAE care for the mentally ill has of course greatly improved since the old days of Bedlam. But we must always remember the past. And it is perhaps ironic then that when we use terms Bedlam and tomfoolery, we are.