“Invention Would Track Meds in Mentally Ill Patients, But Is It Ethical?”


“This isn’t house arrest, but it is an invasion of privacy to some extent,” says the inventor a method with which psychiatrists could track patients’ prescription compliance on their cell phones. “But on the other hand, these are really people who shouldn’t be released without medication.”

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. “Still, a mental health worker was stabbed to death in Oregon last May delivering medicine to a patient at home. ”

    Wow. I bet it was an outpatient commitment order and they and they were coming for a forced injection. Yet they make it sound like she was just nicely delivering some impaired persons “medication” because they couldn’t get to the pharmacy.

    I really hope that somebody at MIA blogs about this. This is the worst, most awful thing that I’ve seen pop up since Sandy Hook.

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  2. Wow, and look at some of these comments.

    “Ethical? What’s so hard to decide here? Does a mentally ill individual have the same ‘rights’ as I have? Definitely not! Obviously,if one cannot make decisions for himself/ herself,then they have to be made for them.”

    “I agree with others here, the right of the rest of us to be safe from violent crime overrides any “rights” those who may hurt others have. I hope this technology actually works but don’t let doctors monitor the patients, have law enforcement do it if the person has already committed any crime of violence.
    In a situation like this, ethics should not be an issue at all.”

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  3. I was struck by this exert:

    “”Brent Redd, 30, whose mental illness was kept private because of patient confidentiality laws, stabbed 38-year-old Jennifer Warren with a kitchen knife after he lowered his doses of antipsychotic and antidepressant medications for an upcoming surgery.””

    He was tapered too quickly and developed homicidal ideation as a withdrawal symptom.

    But of course, that had nothing to do with anything. Yes, I am being sarcastic in case you didn’t know.

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  4. There is the same assumption here as always: ‘mentally ill’ people need their ‘medication’, no matter what they actually think. There is such an overwhelming, arrogant assumption that ‘medication’ is necessary and beneficial that there is no room for any other voices. No recognition that ‘mental illness’ labels are descriptive, not real diseases. No attempt to even understand patients’ points of view. No knowledge of the numbing, crushing effects of drugs such as neuroleptics, either. Torture dressed up as medicine, with the authors of the torture presenting themselves as enlightened helpers.

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  5. Be fair to some of the commenters, at least there is none of this Jaffian guff, this pendular swing between the irreconcilable extremes of individualism and collectivism, fascism and libertarianism. These people are unabashed collectivists who believe, as their ghastly vomitings evince, that the herd should recognize no moral or legal obstacles in its search for a scapegoats.

    In many respects it is quite comforting to encounter some comments that don’t reeks of the usual pious hypocrisy, good to encounter members of the Mental Health Movement who don’t wrap themselves and their every vomit-inducing utterance in the cloak of Christian virtue and the garb of messianic-humanitarianism.

    Nevertheless, I wish these rabid collectivists would kindly sod off and spread the debris of their throwback minds somewhere else, like Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia, their natural habitats. At least then I wouldn’t have to listen to any more of their disgusting babble.

    Delivering medicine to a patient at home? This distinctly savors of psychiatric rape and poisoning.

    Conspicuous by its absence is any mention of the fact that people commit acts of violence whilst on these drugs. I say this not to advance some reductionistic, monocausal, pharmacological-determinist explanation of human behaviour, but simply to point out that the drugs aren’t doing a very good job at curbing the violent instincts of some people and that, like alcohol, there are effects that do tend to clear the path to acts of depraved violence in those of a more violent, sadistic disposition.

    Yet such considerations are in no way allowed to impinge on the general debate. The spokespeople for the “the society of the Just” (Sartre) are only using the recent tragedies as a pretext allowing the punishment of a group of people who are sufficiently hated enough to warrant their selection as scapegoats, sacrificial offerings made in appeasement of a sanctimonious, vengeful, paranoid herd, the spokespoeple of which ever mindful of some pretext justifying the unimpeded, unfettered exercise of the herd’s rapacious instincts.

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  6. Unfortunately this article feeds the delusion of the masses. The ‘get on medication and stay on medication’ mantra. So easy then everyone lives happily ever after including the mental patient. When in reality if that person had never been on medication in the first place an inherently self limiting phenomenon we call psychosis would likely resolve on its own. Perhaps with a peer mentor at their side to keep them safe. They would be living life as a productive tax payer instead of relegated to the mental health system ghetto, obese, sick, shaking, brain damaged with insulin dependent diabetes caused by this magic elixer. Waiting patiently in a drug induced stupor for their feet to fall off. Instead of a GPS in pharmaceutical poison a flight to a third world country during a first psychotic break would greatly improve recovery outcomes as scientifically validated by the world health organization. It would also be much less expensive. It is impossible to have informed discussions when we are trying to move people’s perspective from ‘the world is flat’ to ‘the world is round’. We are up against spin doctors with trillions of dollars of backing telling us the ‘world is flat’. For years I believed the ‘world was flat’. Thankfully I am always open to new information. Scientific facts and thousands of anecdotal stories tell the tale of a ’round world’. World views change. Get informed. It is an epic historic battle but this will tip as all things eventually do.

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  7. How can someone be asked to take treatment for an illness that does not exist. And how can one develop a treatment for something, when they do not know what it is that they even want to treat. The drugs they want people to take are not even approved by the FEA for that use. They want people on these drugs to keep them well. But NO medication is approved by the FDA for maintenance, which is exactly what this is. They are approved on the basis of so called symptom relief for short term crisis use, on the basis of 6 week clinical trials. Still trying to understand why they expect the law to force people to participate in medical experimentation. There is no way this is anything but that. While I question the qasi science of the studies the FDA has approved, fact is they are sitll only for short term use. Simply ask them to have these medications approved for maintenance treatment and they would not have a leg to stand on. And don’t think they have not tried. They tried for DECADES to get these drugs approved for that. In the end they just gave up and instead focused on convincing the public that these drugs “keep people well”!!!

    It never ceases to amaze me how people can define forced treatment as something humane and caring. There is a team in Australia who forcibly treats people living on the streets!! They go and find them walking the streets, pushes them into a car and then gives them an injection in their arse with long acting antipsychotics. Apparently that is something we should be proud of. At an absolute minimum one would think the poor people deserve to have a roof over their heads and food to eat!! I am yet to speak to anyone who has an issue with what is being done to them. No one even considers it unethical to treat them without providing them with food and shelter!!

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  8. Aside from the experiences with slow torture eugenics, hospitals which don’t heal and other negative social fallout, I think being a labellee has been a boot camp training of filtering out bullshit from what’s true. I’m not sure at this point what this training is going to be good for.

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