I feel very strongly about this, so please understand the strong language I am using is deliberate and my anger is justified.
We are seeing an increasing cycle of high-profile media stories linking an act of random multiple shooting to an allegation that the perpetrator is “mentally ill.” These instances come faster and faster, and the President has referred to a cycle of “every three or four months.” I have no idea if there are more such shootings as America becomes more unequal, poorer, harsher, more racist and more misogynist, more aggressive internationally and willing to kill civilians in order to impose its own version of law and order on other countries.
Or, if organizations like Torrey’s “Treatment Advocacy Center” have simply planted enough lies in the media that such stories are now self-generating. Given the huge numbers of people taking psychiatric drugs (for which a diagnosis is applied by the prescribing doctor) and the hindsight that shapes people’s impressions of the shooter as “unstable,” a “ticking time bomb” and other demonizing labels based on the concept of “violent mental illness” it should always be possible to find such stories on schedule.
The President has done serious and unforgivable damage to the country and to people living with psychiatric libels, by endorsing the further libel that we are prone to violence and thus warrant greater scrutiny of our behavior, greater restrictions on our civil liberties, and being brought under comprehensive control by the unaccountable and discriminatory policing and prison regime that is known as the mental health system. We have to understand that it is nothing more than a libel. It cannot be debated rationally, and every time we have tried to point out the the absence of evidence for a statistical linkage, these rational arguments have no effect; instead they almost seem to add fuel to the fire.
I want to point out something about how profiling works and why it is always wrong. It does not matter whether there is or is not a statistical linkage between a particular demographic and the likelihood that an individual will commit a crime. Profiling comes about because a demographic group is targeted, and they are targeted because of deep-seated prejudice that really sees that person as a subhuman bogeyman with superhuman strength needing to be controlled and kept at bay. We see this clearly with racial profiling – at least some of us do. This is why the George Zimmerman verdict and the continuing murders of African American men, women, girls and boys by police are not just individual tragedies but a horrifying mass murder committed systemically by a racist society.
It is no different with psychiatric profiling. We are targeted because of a persistent prejudice that comes from much the same place as racism: disability and race have always been the twin poles of eugenicist beliefs that treat some parts of a population as “useless eaters” worth exploiting and then throwing away. It doesn’t matter if disability is in the mind of the beholder – it always has been; there is always an overlap between a person experiencing unusual states of mind and the alienation from society that can result from this when it is not accommodated, and the alienation caused by misogyny, racism, class, and other ways we exclude each other. (For example, the famous Supreme Court case Buck v Bell allowed forced sterilization and libeled a family of women as “imbeciles”; whatever disabilities they might have had or not had, they were certainly poor.)
Neither the Nazis in their murderous agenda nor the current regime of concentration camps and exclusionary laws presided over by psychiatry cares if you identify as a person with a disability, as having a mental illness, as being unique or eccentric, or as being normal. The selection is made and you are sent to the left or the right. We are not being gassed now, but we are being murdered by restraints, by neuroleptics and electroshock, by police with guns and tasers.
I want us to clearly identify this for what it is – in my cultural reference, psychiatric profiling is no different from the blood libel that was manufactured against Jews to justify pogroms. I read stories about those times and am struck by the similarity in how people hunkered down, waited for it to pass, tried to reason with reasonable authorities, passed as gentile, strategized however they could to survive. A blood libel cannot be debated. Now in hindsight I hope that most people think the blood libel is ridiculous as well as offensive, but it was believed in its time and I’m sure there are bigots who still imagine this bogeyman in their fears.
I talked with two friends this week – I was saying that, now that the interpretation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is almost entirely secured, we need to pay attention to positive measures: what do we want to see in a world that is remade with no forced psychiatry? If a government said to us, “OK, we will repeal the mental health laws and get rid of commitment and forced treatment – what else should we do to make sure people have what they need and are not discriminated against if they have unusual thoughts or are experiencing serious distress or crisis?” – what could we answer?
Both of my friends had a strong reaction that focused on the depth of hatred we are experiencing under the current system, that can make us feel as if we ourselves are not worthy as human beings. It is hard to acknowledge this – to take in society’s libel and not be strong enough to shrug it off is one of the edges we can fall off and get libeled as mentally ill – especially if we are female. It makes me angry. It makes us angry. And we shouldn’t have to take it any more.
It’s not a weakness or a vulnerability – we are damn strong to survive what we have, and those who haven’t would find the same strength within themselves if they were put in our shoes. (Note: not everyone agrees that those who survive are necessarily strong, and they have a point. I don’t mean to suggest that it is bad to be, or to feel, less than “damn strong” or that those who didn’t survive psychiatry are weak.) What we survive (from my notes of one of these conversations, which also included my partner and her contributions):
- Fucking with a person’s sense of self and how they are perceived in the world – this is infliction of mental suffering and amounts to torture.
- Systemic torture, because it is all callous experimentation: “you are a science project.” They give false, incomplete and misleading information (no *informed* consent) and fail to collect data on adverse effects that people actually experience. They give you medicine that they know nothing about themselves, and tell you what they think you need to know. They are treating us as subhuman, as if we don’t matter. This is because there is a control agenda in the mental health system, that is not there in the physical health system.
- Making somebody so “other” that you can do anything to them. It’s not only the acts of outright violence. When a parent hits their child, after a while all they have to do is look crossly at the child and the child is under control. They don’t have to go on beating a person, ripping off their fingernails, shooting them full of Thorazine every day. They don’t have to do much to put the person into a place where you’re so frightened you can’t be yourself any more.
- They’ve made me feel like I don’t belong in the world the way I am now. I think that’s unforgiveable.
This tells me again that every time our rights are more firmly recognized by the United Nations, we unpeel another layer in our own experience and ability to confront the extreme and egregious human rights violations against us. Progress is not linear, and – while I still think we need to envision the new world even while we are in the grip of the old – getting angry and refusing to accept what is dished out to us, defending ourselves and each other from retaliation, may be the next step.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
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Great article, Tina, thank you. You don’t seem angry to me, just wrongfully accused and treated and demanding better for yourself and the rest of us.
E. Fuller Torrey and his (forced) Treatment Advocacy Center is surely one of the (if not THE) primary impetus behind psychiatric profiling.
This is not only blood libel; this is hate speech.
Thank you, Tina. I wish I had had the balls to put this so clearly.
I am glad you did.
Bigotry should never pass unanswered, and it appears it is the turn of those labeled (against their will by the State, without reference to their own self-identity, as you note) to bear the brunt of a society’s scapegoating.
I wonder who will speak up for us, and who will stand idly by.
I don’t mean to oversimplify, but I think the first and most important group who should speak up for us is ourselves. The mental illness system is not going to pay us to take their power away. If we don’t defend ourselves, no one else will do it for us.
Thank you for putting it plainly and baldly. Thank you for telling the truth. We haven’t been rounded up in “concentration camps”………yet. Most of the Jews thought they would be safe and so they remained in Germany. They couldn’t believe that the country they were born and raised in for generations and the people they’d been raised among would allow anything terrible to happen to them, so most of them stayed in Germany until it was too late to get out. They hunkered down and they died, plain and simple. We aren’t in “concentration camps” yet……..So what are we going to do to save ourselves from the same fate????
I think that psychiatric “hospitals” and “wards” qualify as concentration camps. It is not applied to all of us, but part of the point I am making, and that was made by my friends in the conversations I describe, is that having it as a constant threat is used as a bullying and silencing tactic. The Nazis didn’t necessarily round up all the Jews to begin with either.
But I agree with you that things are getting worse, and though I don’t want to imagine particular horrific scenarios, I agree that we need to save ourselves (and society).
I was thinking the very same thing about “psychiatric hospitals and wards” while I was posting but didn’t go so far as to write it.
I agree that psychiatric “hospitals” and “wards” are the “concentration camps” for people with supposed “mental illness.” I work in such a place and sometimes feel like one of the Jewish kapos who kept their own people in line with clubs and cudgels. I refuse to participate in seclusion and restraint procedures and work to lift people up while journeying with them on this road. But I feel guilty sometimes in just working there. As a peer worker I find everything objectional that is done to the so-called “patients” while they’re here. All I can do is work to make peer workers a more visible and viable presence in the hospital in hopes that in the future we’ll have enough leverage to actually change the paradigm of what goes on here. But there are days that I feel like one of those kapos, just by being part of the staff.
Yeah, you may feel that way and it is understandable. But you need something to balance that and keep things in their right perspective.
I’m sure there is more than one way of going about it but think of this way: what would it be like if you weren’t there at all? Wouldn’t your absence make a difference for the worst?
Instead of feeling guilty, maybe you can acknowledge that without you being there it would be much more sore, and dark. And in that, you can feel needed and appreciated.
Vital signs aren’t just thermometers and blood pressure cuffs. Sometimes, a smile is a vital sign. A kind word of support, encouragement or comfort is a vital sign. I get the idea that you’re quite a vital presence, Mr. Stephen Gilbert.
Maybe you’re a guide or a guardian. Maybe an Angel. (PLENTY of Angels have no clue that they’re Angels).
Thank you for your kind words. They are much appreciated.
Stephen – I have infinite appreciation for your ability to work in the setting that you do and I’m sure that you being there has probably turned the experience around for some people, been a little point of light and humanity.
So, thank you for being in such a difficult position. The hospital here is getting ready to “bring on peers” – and are trying to figure out how they will function there.
If hospitals are going to “use” peers, there really should be some kind of guidelines of professional role and ethics…that put peers in the position of being peers, doing actual peer support and not participating in restraints or coercion.
Do you know if something like that exists, guidelines of practice for peers in places like hospitals – so that hospital admins understand what peers are and what peers do and what they do not do?
It makes me feel a little ill that peers are not even able to do the work of peers in many of the setting they are employed in…peer support, real peer support…which is what it sounds like you are trying to do and which I applaud you for.
In 1978, I was in the Netherlands, and became friends with one of the leaders of the Dutch “mental patients'” movement, as we called ourselves at that time. Dunya’s father had organized a strike of the dockworkers in 1942 to protest the Nazi deportation of the Dutch Jews. For this, he was tortured and killed, her mother was sent to a concentration camp where she barely survived, and Dunya, then a baby, lived with relatives in the Dutch countryside, just one step ahead of the Nazis.
Dunya talked with me about her own experiences in a Dutch psychiatric “hospital,” which sounded pretty similar to what we have in America. She always called it “my concentration camp.” She didn’t say this lightly, as she was very familiar with the Nazi camps.
Some people now say that we should not make this comparison, but I disagree. The only reason death camps are not being proposed is that the drug companies can’t make money from dead people.
The spirit of what is being done to us is the same, and I commend Tina for saying this.
The most respected political commntator in the Irish media Fintan O’Toole has equated ‘mental hospitals’ and other institutional coercion as being an Irish Gulag. http://www.paddydoyle.com/dark-stain-of-irish-gulag-system-not-yet-addressed/
“Progress is not linear, and – while I still think we need to envision the new world even while we are in the grip of the old – getting angry and refusing to accept what is dished out to us, defending ourselves and each other from retaliation, may be the next step.”
This message is being communicated in other words and from a very different, but quite relevant, crisis. Ready?
“In a nutshell, it is urgent to shift if we don’t want to see our children go back to barbarism. All the indicators have fallen into the red and they are flashing faster and faster and we must act quickly before it is too late. In the environment field, some scientists even think that we won’t be able to back down anymore. The Earth will never be able to recover its original purity. So what to do? Besides, do we have the will and means to change? Nothing is less certain. So, it is not impossible that the solution comes from the space… ”
That paragraph is taken from ufo-analysis.com
“If a government said to us, “OK, we will repeal the mental health laws and get rid of commitment and forced treatment – what else should we do to make sure people have what they need and are not discriminated against if they have unusual thoughts or are experiencing serious distress or crisis?” – what could we answer?”
One of my urgent priorities is giving attention to what is *agonizingly* lacking and that is PROPER response and proper emergency response.
Please take a look at this video of a woman and her 8 children. The way the community and “the authorities” respond to her family’s urgent needs is SO RIGHT. Neighbors took in 5 of her children. The cops brought food, clothes, items and a cellular phone to the family. Isn’t that *awesome*? Isn’t that inspiring and uplifting and heart warming? Isn’t it helpful and non-punitive? If a situation only half as bad as this family’s happened here in America, those kids would be TAKEN AWAY, put in foster homes and the mother would be detained either in jail or “the (mental) system” (which cannot be called “health”). And all of them would be drugged.
Lastly, in response to this:
“They’ve made me feel like I don’t belong in the world the way I am now. I think that’s unforgiveable.”
Of course it is unforgivable. One must confess and ask to be forgiven. If they do not confess and insist on no wrong-doing, they prevent forgiveness from taking place.
If we want to keep guns out of the hands of hands of violent people, it would be far less expensive and provide better prevention to ban automatic weapons entirely. (I’m not necessarily anti-gun, but I’m certainly anti-idiocy, anti-expense, and anti-discrimination.) If the public wants to keep mentally ill people from getting guns, why don’t they prevent themselves from getting guns? That way they could be sure not to miss any of the diagnosed mentally ill that might be hiding in society, and they wouldn’t miss anyone that would be diagnosed in the future. If they ban guns for everyone, they don’t have to set up an expensive profiling system that will inevitably have loopholes.
The real problem, here, is that the only thing the political parties can agree on is their fear of the mentally ill and the ease with which we can be scapegoated. Never mind that it will cost billions of dollars to set up a profiling system, to provide ‘mental health care’ for the people who are positively profiled, to pay for the medical care to treat the effects of the ‘mental health care’. When it comes right down to it, I believe they hate us too much to spend enough money to properly do the profiling and ‘care’ for us. Look at mental hospitals today; they are so despised that they ‘don’t have enough beds’ (thank god). The politicians just want to pretend they are addressing the gun violence problem.
Maybe I’m like those Jews who stayed in Germany out of denial. Perhaps the profiling will be quite effective, will dig through people’s medical records, and will identify everyone who has ever taken a psychiatric drug. Maybe the profiling will be made public, used to deny people jobs, and justify further restrictions on our liberties and civil rights. Maybe all of us will be rounded up and forcibly segregated from the rest of society. Maybe our resistance efforts will be destroyed by the incarceration of our leaders.
On the other hand, the profiling efforts seem to be sufficiently broad that nearly everyone will end up being labeled mentally ill at some point during their lifetime. Maybe the effort of the mental health community to expand their patient base will end up looking utterly ridiculous when nobody escapes their labels.
“On the other hand, the profiling efforts seem to be sufficiently broad that nearly everyone will end up being labeled mentally ill at some point during their lifetime. Maybe the effort of the mental health community to expand their patient base will end up looking utterly ridiculous when nobody escapes their labels.”
But this is exactly what the drug companies want. They want a system where everyone is labeled with a pseudoscientific “diagnosis.” And for every “diagnosis” there’s a great little toxic pill of a drug to force people to take. So psychiatry and the drug companies walk hand in hand with one another, trying to trap everyone.
This is why the DSM-5 is such a rediculous piece of horse manure; it’s attempting to broaden the net so that all of life is pathologized and no one escapes. When everyone has a “diagnosis” label then the drug companies will prevail supremely. You would think everyone in the American public could see this but you really have to wonder about just how smart the public really is at this point.
Psychiatry and Big Pharma have created an unholy alliance where psychiatrists catch and trap people and the drug companies provide the “treatment” for everyone. Everyone loses except for the psychiatrists and the people running the drug companies. They’ll be the only ones not on psychiatric drugs!
Excellently said, Stephen. I wish we had a “like” button for these comments.
“Psychiatry and Big Pharma have created an unholy alliance where psychiatrists catch and trap people and the drug companies provide the “treatment” for everyone.
You would think everyone in the American public could see this but you really have to wonder about just how smart the public really is at this point.”
I have been told that I was sick and then forcibly drugged and then reported as severely mentally ill. When the drugs lobotomized me and gave me akathisia I told my assigned psychiatrist and he nodded and told me that it is common to feel “a little sedated”. Then he asked me to extend my arms and hands. I presume he was checking for tremors. In any case, he was satisfied that all was fine and refused to stop the forced injections (they were not court ordered because in British Columbia you do not have a right to go to court). I attempted suicide by overdose because a vegetative life of deteriorating brain and body was not worth having. I saw my psychiatrist in the emergency room and he was unmoved and told me that the drugging was going to continue. My mother intervened somehow — they did not speak in front of me and she denies suggesting that he stop the drugging — which did not make sense to me because I begged my mother to help advocate for me to have the injections stopped and she wouldn’t. He held me on the psyche ward to 2 weeks without drugs and there was no “psychosis”. He had nothing more to say except that I had a problem because I did not know I was sick. Later I signed up for a volunteer position as a way of working towards fuller return to the workforce. They required a criminal background check — no problem. So I thought. There it was — mental health intervention — for all to see. Now anytime I apply for work and they routinely ask for a criminal background check I will routinely have to explain my “mental illness” issue to a potential employer (and complete stranger). Demoralizing. Yes, it is unforgiveable, this business of making us feel and be treated as less than worthy of human dignity and privacy. The psychiatrists are so fond of thoughtlessly and carelessly saying, “It’s just like diabetes”. But I’ve never heard of someone with diabetes being put through this sort of systematic trauma and abuse.
I did doctoral studies in philosophy and education, and I love the life of the mind and intellectual activity. I was nearly permanently stripped of that, and I live in fear that if I experience any sort of distress it will be taken from me again and maybe this time permanently given my “mental health records”. We need a massive organized education campaign — letters to politicians, newspapers, op-eds, magazines, university presidents…we need to get our voices and information out there. People need to understand that as long as choice is denied, as long as self-determination is being destroyed, as long anguished souls are being thrown away via chemicals, there is a holocaust going on. Relentless education. But where is there to go, besides this blog? How do people actually get in touch to draft letters, speeches, talking points and list websites and resources and key figures? How do the discarded and isolated get electronically connected for action?
You might like to see this:
We have to go back to our roots as a human rights movement. It’s because we have departed from this that we face what we are facing now, and there is no easy way to connect with other people who want to fight back. I am thinking of reviving the Network Against Psychiatric Assault, which for many years was a powerful force in California for protecting our rights. I think at this time, we need a network, not a formally organized group with its attendant power struggles,where people can be in touch with one another. I think that would be a good and necessary first step toward rebuilding our movement.
When your own family believes your enemies are right about you.When your own peers don’t understand what you are trying to communicate to them.When their isn’t anyone left that understands you.When hardly anyone can handle the truth.When you live in a Fascist state whose most powerful members deepest desire is to cull the population.You can give up or go down fighting every which way but loose. Maybe creating new identities with new credentials and passing through unnoticed is a survivable strategy.For most all of us low funds is a great barrier to survival. It’s difficult to survive in a society that institutionalizes stealthy attacks on innocent children while most all of the population is asleep, brainwashed,and goes along with it. Rebel The Cartel has been my battle cry for many years.Pockets of sanity are getting scarce .Thankfully Tina’s still writing.
You expressed it all very well.
I too worry about just how smart the American people really are at this point. I think that a lot of people choose to be “blind” on purpose. They want to believe all of the bad and terrible things that are said about people who are supposedly “mentally ill.” I’ve even started wondering about which foreign countries might be valid choices for place to move to but am stopped by the lack of funds you refer to.
Yep. People want to believe that “mental illnesses” are discreet entities that can be detected and “treated” by science & medicine. Well, that’s what they’ve been told, ad nauseum, is the case, by the powers that be. So they believe it as they are told to do, because what do they know? You have to investigate and dig really deep to discover that the powers that be are full of it. Most people will not go to that extent to discover the truth – only those of us who really care and have reason to doubt. And even when you do start to realize it, it’s hard to believe. The faux-scientific spin sounds so believable. These are top scientists and researchers, right? How could they be so wrong… it sounds preposterous. Anyway, we’re up against a mighty beast but we must keep working to chip away at it until, hopefully, we can reach a tipping point where the whole idiotic house of cards blows over. Kudos Stephen for your important work in the system. It is such a tough fight but thanks to forums like MiA we can find our comrades and give each other hope… We’re in this together…
Today Dare County NC Dept of Social Service sought to take away the rights of my daughter – they had already committed her without legal justification – just days before she was to undergo a proper/complete evaluation for traumatic brain injury with one of the top TBI specialists in the country. The accident had occurred on Dare County property. Instead of allowing her to keep that long-awaited appointment, just a few months after her first child was born, DCDSS forced her on to Haldol and benzodiazepines and called all the shots at the hospital -over a week before the Clerk of Court made their control official as interim guardian – achieved by using egregious distortions of her capabilities and decided behind her back and mine –then over my objections. I was literally thrown out of the hospital hearing a few days earlier, with DSS telling Vidant Hospital they had to do as Dare County said – according to administrator Glen Simpson. I had come at my daughter’s request (driven hours) to provide her doctors with the TBI diagnosis, and to request she be allowed to get that scheduled evaluation.
By kicking me out, the judge violated my daughter’s constitutional rights and due process by failing to allow me to present evidence about her capability, lack of danger and a diagnosis showing she is not mentally ill. The appointed attorney, in turn failed to mention the evidence either – though I’d faxed it to her. Then she failed to ask my daughter if she wanted to appeal, but my daughter informed her attorney, in writing, at the next hearing that she did want to appeal. He ignored it. Two days before the deadline, I called the State Indigent Defense Council and the director saw to it that the appeal was filed – no papers yet, but he gave his word.
NC Appellate Court has a precedent saying that not taking medications does not present an immediate danger and is not grounds for commitment. And that is the grounds that were used to commit my daughter — while of course they ignore the fact that you don’t drug an injured brain – at least not indiscriminantly.
In the meantime, DSS gets named as interim guardian and takes over – my frightened traumatized, brain injured daughter is left grieving over her baby boy, and DSS shows up the next day to TAKE HIM FROM MY ARMS. They forbid my daughter from seeing me or him – they restrict her phone calls, don’t allow me to visit her where she’s been taken miles from friends and other family members – so she is totally alone – and knocked out – knocked down with high dosage of Haldol and benzos – not exactly soul food or chicken soup for the injured brain.
Oh, and DSS Caseworker falsified the records used to take my grandson, making it appear he was dependent, without a caretaker -swore to that document under oath, defrauding the court – leaving out a required detail that he was in my home and under my care. So they used that lie to take him out of my arms, and I haven’t seen him since.
After I exposed that lie I wasn’t supposed to find out about (no access to the records – not a party – also due to the falsified document) – instead of the judge calling DSS down on this fraud, perjury, kidnapping – he changed the venue and allowed DSS to amend the petition -so they could accuse me of seriously neglect of a perfectly healthy, happy child – before he left my home.
Today in the courtroom – the hearing to seal DSS’s ownership of his mother, my pleas for them to recognize the TBI, not only fell on deaf ears, it irritated the court and DSS. The GAL -Harmon-Scott had the day before discouraged a family member from volunteering as guardian by LYING TO her, that she must be a lawyer to be guardian. Though another volunteer came, and the law says a person must be considered before DSS, DSS’ interim guardianship was extended while the Clerk of Court continued the hearing another 45 days! And she made up her mind BEFORE I, the mother, was allowed to speak and even then I wasn’t allowed to say it all. While everyone else began packing their things I said this much:
“DSS accuses ME viciously of failing to give or get my daughter the proper treatment, (which to them is antipsychotics), for refusing to accept a diagnosis that’s only secondary to her primary diagnosis of brain injury. I insist that DSS has not only failed to help her get the proper evaluation, but it has blocked her from getting an evaluation on her own – it has not allowed her to get the proper care, understanding and treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury.
DSS’s treatment is harsh, humiliating and mentally and physically cruel. Treating a person with TBI with high doses of drugs can not only further harm their brain , it can kill them.
Involuntarily committing a person who has already been terribly traumatized, and cutting her off from her baby and other family members is nothing short of cruelty and torture. The United Nations agrees. It is also illegal unless there is clear and cogent evidence that the person is dangerous. She is not, and the NC Appellate Court says she not…just because she wasn’t taking drugs (while pregnant)
Dare County DSS is the cruelest agency I have ever known, and its treatment of my daughter meets the legal definition of abuse of a disabled person. They have caused her mental anguish – unnecessarily confined her and have deprived her of the proper care.
Two of the people most dear to me have been torn from our home, forbidden from returning, despite my daughter’s urgent pleas to do so and to allow her son to be with me – based partly and specifically on allegations that I do not accept DSS’s beliefs about my daughter’s misdiagnosis – that I question the use of potent drugs with a person who’s suffered traumatic brain injury especially.
I can’t think of this situation – which is way more vile and complicated than I can begin to describe – without thinking of Nazi Germany – and Eugenics in America.
It is profiling. After going through this horrible ordeal the first time, my daughter couldn’t go anywhere and feel relaxed without fearing that any wrong move or word could get her committed. I am beginning to understand, as I have now been accused of seriously neglecting a perfectly healthy happy child – that is, only AFTER I publicly accused DSS of perjury. And I am told I must get a psychological evaluation by someone connected to DSS if I want to see my grandchild, whom I’d been caring for night and day since his birth.
Hi barringer – I am sooooo saddened to read about what happened with you and your family. Today? Really?
It hits close to home, since I live in NC and – unfortunately, see this sort of thing all the time. This sort of systemic negligence and abuse is so…I mean, it’s…like so enormously f*in hideous and destructive in people’s lives that it…kind of blows my mind…and I don’t even know where to begin. There’s a real powerlessness that happens in thinking about these big structural abuses…which make people powerless.
I get angry when I think about them taking away your daughter’s child, your grandchild. I had DSS in my life for a bit because of mental health related concerns and I know a lot of people who have had to fight to keep their kids and weren’t supported in their potential to be really good parents or in getting what they needed (e.g. stable housing, support, etc.) to keep their families functional.
So, I live in NC. I don’t know a lot of people, but I know some people and some people who are involved in things, including a person with a TBI support network and various mental health people. I don’t know what could be done to raise awareness and positively impact the situation.
What do you think would be helpful and how could you do it, what support would you theoretically need?
feel free to email me. I don’t have a lot of time, but – then – nobody does. It’d be nice to figure out if there were anything that could be done that would be effective and what it might take to do it.
In the meantime, my hopes are with you for a swift resolution. Sometimes these things get worked out “quickly”…but, in so many cases, there is so much damage done that it just goes on and on. People can be lastingly hurt when kids get taken from their families.
How do you think we could address issues of systemic and institutional abuse, negligence, and general f*ed-uppedness of the the mental health system in NC, and the DSS/family court situation in NC?
Where to even start?
I wish their were volunteer consultants who have done advocacy like this, trying to help an individual or family with the aim of also addressing the causes that led to their abuses. Like, when I read a posting like this and want to do something about it, what do I do?
Is there any help for situations like this?
By the way, wonderful article, Tina. Your anger, so eloquently expressed, is inspiring to me and helps me to remember to clear the details and the politics and the theory and remember what is really happening around here.
barringer, I am so sorry for what is happening in your family and my hopes are with y’all.
oh, it was yesterday that all that happened.
also, I wish there were volunteer consultants to assist with advocacy efforts.
This is an answer to your response to my post above. Very few hospitals use peer workers but the numbers are growing and my cynical response to that is that the numbers are rising because they make peer workers chart, which means that Medicare can then be charged for their services. My cynical self says that this is just another way to make money. As you know, peers are not supposed to be charting on anyone. If they don’t get to write about our behavior then why should we get to write about theirs? I’m constantly faulted by many staff because I will not chart. They say that the doctors need to know the important things that “patients” share with me so that their “treatment” can be enhanced for the better. I almost laugh outright when I hear this. My response is that the doctors need to do their own legwork, do their own listening to find out valuable information for helping the “patient” because that’s what they get paid the big bucks for doing. I am not going to do the work that they get paid for! It’s not a popular response since I’m not supposed to say anything that might put the psychiatrists in a bad light of any kind. They are like the little “gods” on the units.
I believe that it’s really difficult to be on staff in a typical psych ward or hospital because very few places are willing to allow peers to function “in the system but not be of the system.” In the hospital where I work the psychiatrists have the majority of the say about things and of course every one of them uses the toxic drugs as “treatment” for everyone. Peers are supposed to stand for freedom of choice but I am not allowed to voice anything like this. I stated in a meeting that patients should have input in their treatment plan before they can buy into it and there was total silence and shocked looks all around the table. I then stated something about services being patient driven and that also was received in total silence. You are not allowed to say anything negative or unsupportive of the toxic drugs since you will then be accused of trying to get people to not take their “meds.”
The state where I live is creating a peer specialist training program and plans to have a large number of peers on the ground by this time next year. They are using the state of Georgia’s program as a template. They plan to move peer workers into the hospital where I work. I am not a big fan of the Georgia plan but don’t know everything about it. There are a few states where peers are used in hospital settings. I have an article which describes the programs in each hospital. Some sound like peers are actually allowed to function as peers and some programs sound like they’re just using peers because it’s good pr. I’ll try to find the article and contact you to give you the title and how you might be able to find it on the internet.
Like everything else, I have the feeling that the system across the country will move peer workers into hospital settings, not because it’s a good thing for the “patients” on the units and because it will bring real hope to peoples’ lives. I think that the idea of peer workers will be twisted and shoved and coerced into parrotting the same old message that the system always gives to people. We will be used as whitewash to try to make people believe that the system really cares about them but peer workers will be totally cooptated. I think that’s the correct term. In other words, I think we will be “used” by the system just like they’ve taken over the concept of recovery.
I guess the short answer is that I can’t think of anything right off the top of my head that trains people how to work in hospital settings. I’ll look and see what I can find. The hospital where I work says that they want and support peer workers but I don’t think that they really know how true peer workers are supposed to function. I think that if they did they would certainly think twice about bringing them into their setting.
I’ve seen part of my function here to be one of educating staff about what peer workers are and what we aren’t. It’s been a laborious process over the past two years. Now that the state is creating it’s own program all of my educational work may go by the wayside if they come up with a program where peers are just like every other staff member in the hospital.
Without being an official institution, I have heard this kind of story from someone else recently. The same kind of story. Someone with brain injury is removed from their parents and treated with antipsychotics. In fact, someone else with a brain injury themselves told me that he couldn’t get a judge to listen to him, when he tried to explain what he had had since he was a child. A brain injury. He had had a brain injury and the amount of water in his brain was just below what would be considered hydrocephalic. This in regards his mental condition treatment and putting him on brain damaging medications.
There is no correlation of understanding.
This is a great article, Tina. You pull no punches, and you shouldn’t. I completely agree with your analogy to the Nazis, and to my mind the only reason we don’t see death camps is that the drug companies can’t make money from dead people.
I am worried about the fact that this article has disappeared from the MIA front page. Do you know about this, and why?
I’ve been thinking back to how this all got started in 1985. I was suing my male parent for raping me for the first 12 years of my life and raising two small children on welfare in Plainfield, VT. My baby kept having monster bladder infections and I was always running to The Plainfield Health Center for medical treatment for her. During one visit, apparently I was looking a little worn out and I was achy from lack of sleep. Dr. John Matthews, who was examining my child for her infection, jabbed his finger into my back and I jumped. He said, “Aha! You have fibromyalgia, which is an indication of clinical depression.”
He wanted to put me on depression medication right away but I said I didn’t want to take mood altering substances. He insisted that I had a discreet medical condition that I had been born with. He said it was genetic and that I would have to take a drug for the rest of my life to correct my congenital chemical imbalances. I wanted proof. He did a thyroid test that was inconclusive, but there were no other objective tests to indicate depression. He said there was no test at that time, but there would be one soon. He also kept telling me that theses drugs were tailor-made for my particular body chemistry but the only way to find a perfect chemical fit was to keep trying different variations of the drugs. He said it was my responsibility to attend to my health by consuming these chemicals.
There was a cabinet in my kitchen in the big old farmhouse on Rte. 2 in Plainfield where I kept the chemical cosh stash that I had been prescribed. There were bottles of doxepin, prozac, depakote, tegretol, klonopin, thyroxine to fix the thyroid suppression of the doxepin, clonidine so that I could empty my bladder, prilosec for the reflux caused by the weight gain, lipitor for the cholesterol rise caused by the doxepin, and benztropine and various non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to control the constant joint and muscle pain. There was a chart on the cabinet door so that I could check off the pills as I took them five times a day.
I remember having a sense of absurdity about my visiting the cabinet 5 times a day to take the chemicals that would burn away my original sin. For is this not precisely what it means to tell an abused woman that her pain is a function of her congenital, biological, genetic abnormality? I was born with this. There had never been any hope for my redemption. The torture that I suffered as a victim of 12 years of sexual slavery was inconsequential. It was not enough of a reason for my having a low mood. There was no therapy for trauma. But, there was money from Medicaid to pay for pharmaceutical control of my sin.
I was actually grateful that I had been born in the Age of Modern Living Thru Chemistry. Because of my generally chiliastic state of mind, which is the result of all the atomic bomb drills I endured in my school years, I actually worried about the end of industrial medicine, which would mean the end of my pill supply. This frightened me especially because the the drugs did not really control the despair and fear and physical pain of my untreated trauma. I did not feel better on the drugs so it was terrifying to think of not having them and having no recourse whatsoever.
Now I understand the meaning of this behavior. I finally grasp just how horrifying this ritual consumption of poisonous sunstances really was, and still is, for the one in four women in the United States who currently is under Corporate Chemical Probation, having been prescribed these drugs for their biological brain abnormalities. I was induced to depend on the authority of doctors and to doubt my own intelligence and biological integrity.
It was slavery, pure and simple. The same old oppressive, sexist bullshit in a new form.
It is clear to me now that the Diagnostic and Statical Manual of Mental Disorders is really an update of the Malleus Maleficarum from the Middle Ages. It is a catalog of the sins of the undesirables, those of us who have failed to adjust quietly to corporate serfdom.
The Malleus Maleficarum
The Malleus Maleficarum (Latin for “The Hammer of Witches”, or “Hexenhammer” in German) is one of the most famous medieval treatises on witches. It was written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, and was first published in Germany in 1487. Its main purpose was to challenge all arguments against the existence of witchcraft and to instruct magistrates on how to identify, interrogate and convict witches.
I stopped eating poison. I stopped thinking of myself as inherently defective. I stopped trusting anyone in authority who makes money from controlling the underclasses. That includes all doctors and medical personnel who distribute these ritual poisons and anyone in the social services system that funnels women and children into this death trap.
We don’t have to burn women in public anymore. We just hand them a prescription and they burn their bodies in this unholy medication ritual 5 times a day, reminded of our incurable wretchedness and indebtedness to authority 5 times a day. Lest we forget.
Wow… Powerful… What a wretched experience, wretched bogus “system,” and thank you so much for introducing me to the DSM’s ancestor, Malleus Maleficarum! I am totally going to use it in arguments against those modern-day witch-hunters – the “brain disease-ers.”
I feel humble and sorrowful reading the accounts of horrific abuse, from dragonfly and barringer above. Yes, I agree it is a burning of the witches also. And it is a return to slavery times, as I have heard African Americans say when being hauled off to be force drugged.
And mjk, yes the message is coming from many places. The planet and global societies are in danger in so many ways and people have to, and are, rising up – but what will it take, when the machinery of death and destruction and the technology of control are so highly developed? It can be easy to despair if I look at the big picture, but I have been going one step at a time and what gives me hope is that there have been some abuses and oppressions that ended.
Having read parts of Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” I am mindful that oppression comes back in other forms (and as dragonfly points out also). Psychiatry creates a social caste based on its selections, and if psychiatry is gone there will be new ways developed to exclude people who are persecuted. Will there be any end resolution to have a world of justice and peace? I don’t know, but that is ultimately what I am working for and hoping for even if the hope seems incredibly optimistic. Hope is just that, it’s not expectation.
Thanks to everyone who has commented on this post and to others who have helped to distribute it. I have been told that it will be translated into German and distributed there, which I consider a great honor especially because of the linkage I have made with persecution of Jews, and the Nazi murders – I alluded to but didn’t say directly in my post a fact that many of you know, which is that psychiatrists invented the gas chamber and used it first on psychiatric inmates and other people with disabilities.
Ted, I have learned that the post disappeared from the front page because I edited it, it is being restored. I made an edit to acknowledge a point raised by a friend who commented on my statement that were “damn strong” to survive.
It’s hard for me to keep looking at this, but I will end by saying that I want to nurture this anger, not always at high pitch but constantly there, to bring our changes into reality. I continue to be heartened by the work so many of us are doing. And I’d like to close by reminding people of both the CHRUSP website http://www.chrusp.org where you can find my writings and other resources, and the Campaign to Repeal Mental Health Laws (RMHL) – http://repealmentalhealthlaws.org which is open to new members who agree with the mission and want to take part.
RMHL also has a petition that you may want to sign, calling on the U.S. Senate to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities without any reservations, understandings or declarations – https://www.change.org/petitions/u-s-senate-ratify-the-un-convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-without-reservations-understandings-or-declarations-ruds.
I wanted to respond to your comment about how the profiling is particularly harsh on women (and I would add: minorities). There is a great deal of bias both in terms of who is encouraged to ask for help from clinicians and in terms of how certain behaviors are viewed. For example, I have very little doubt that, no matter how they actually behave, black men are viewed as more threatening by the clinician and are more likely to get drugged/restrained/confined. On the flip side, men are not so frequently diagnosed as depressed. Whether this is because they do not seek help or whether their experiences are just not seen to be as problematic as experiences of depression by women.
The category of so-called problems that I find to be the most biased are discussions of self-harm. For example, I have been known to hit punching bags and even walls when expressing anger. I argue that this is constrained and self-regulated expression of strong emotion. Apparently society agrees with me. However, I have a female friend who also has been known to hit things on occasion, and somehow her coping mechanism is classified as ‘self-harm’.
The list goes on an on. Women are more likely to be considered manipulative and get a diagnosis of borderline PD. Women are more likely to get a diagnosis of bipolar II. Perhaps this is because our society still has a paternalistic view of risky behaviors for women or because women are given antidepressants at a higher rate. Whenever women have a chronic medical condition, chronic pain, CFS, etc, they are often referred to psychiatry rather having their main condition addressed.
Unfortunately, it seems that socioeconomic status is a strong correlate to diagnoses of schizophrenia versus bipolar. In short, our society more often gives the label of schizophrenia to people who are poor and/or minorities.
The diagnoses of psychiatry recapitulate our society’s biases. This means that profiling efforts are tools of social control. As you say, profiling is also a blood libel, since it is both deeply offensive and based on false scientific claims.
diagnosis: absolute, genuine insanity. Not yours – it belongs to the collective.
The depth of sickness from sexual abuse (and in it’s extreme is sexual torture) is so evil beyond evil. I believe Pat Benatar had it tragically correct.
psychiatry is the antichrist
“psychiatry is the antichrist,” today I love that statement. A friend has just agreed to be put on depot injections of respiridone. He is a survivor of physical and sexual violence. The services pay lip service to this and drug him up instead of offering the support he needs. I am disgusted with the services. Depots are really hard to come off. I know three people who have had psychotic withdrawal reactions when they stopped having them. It is the way a psychiatry makes sure people take their drugs for life.
Nasty, evil and dangerous.
Tom, I agree that psychiatric labelling is applied differently across varying groups and it’s especially pronounced between men and women. There’s also a difference between how behaviours are viewed based on whether or not a person is designated sane. I know several well-employed and high-status individuals whose behaviour, if I were to try it, would be classified as pathological. One particularly angry professor that I know frequently gets furious and has in the past broken things. If I were to do that, it’d be classified as manic rage and the police would be called.
Not quite on the subject, but I did want to say that our society’s acceptable standards also vary wildly. Believing that little green dwarves are in your kitchen cabinet: not okay. Believing that there’s a guy up there in the sky watching everything that you do: acceptable.
Thank you for validating our outrage Tina. In a world where it is deemed outrageous to be outraged at outrageously oppressive practices we need to accept the validity of anger – but careful of when and where and with whom we express it.
A psychiatric ‘diagnosis’ is both an insult, a cover up and a justification sometimes for torture. One of the primary goals is to challenge the language of disorder rather than its consequences. As long as people are allowed to label as an excuse for understanding then some means of ‘treatment’ can then be justified and if we are responding to myths disasters are bound to follow. http://ebmh.bmj.com/content/16/1/2.long
Tina, thank you for writing this article, and all the work you do to further the rights of those defamed with scientifically “lacking in validity” disorders. I’m a woman who dealt with psychiatric / medical “social control” – according to all my medical records. I had a PCP miss-medicate me because her husband had been the “attending physician” at the “bad fix” on a broken bone of mine. She was paranoid of a malpractice suit. Then I paid, outside my insurance, for a second opinion because this PCP was claiming the ADRs of her drugs couldn’t be what my medical research now indicates was actually serotonin syndrome, ADRs to her meds.
But unfortunately, my “unbiased second opinion” doctor was also unethical. According to her medical records, she railroaded me onto more drugs based on a list of lies and gossip from some (undisclosed to me at the time) friends of hers who sexually molested my three year old child. Overcoming my denial of the abuse of my child was another concern I was dealing with at the time. Thankfully, I eventually found an oral surgeon intelligent enough to claim “concerns of child abuse are not cured by antipsychotics,” which no psychiatrist I dealt with was capable of understanding. But this quote did embarrass my last psychiatrist into eventually weaning me off the meds. Thank God. Although this “top doc,” According to US News and World Reports, was disingenuous in his medical records.
And I hadn’t realized in 2001, when I was initially misdiagnosed and as a person with no personal or family history of any psychiatric history or experience, that the function of the psychiatric industry was to keep the child molesters on the streets raping as many children as possible, because misdiagnosing physically abused children with made up psychiatric disorders was so profitable. I can not tell you how appalled I am at learning that the entire psychiatric industry is seemingly in the business of further abusing people who have been harmed and are vulnerable, rather than actually stopping the abuse of people, especially children.
But I have no doubt this is true, given all the stories of psychiatric abuse I’ve read, the fact my ex-therapist’s local high school had the highest suicide rate in the nation by the time my abused child was in high school, and the lack of shock and concern expressed to me when I confronted a psychologist friend regarding the egregious miss-medication of another child we volunteered with.
Suffice it to say, the egregious miss-medication of me to cover up an easily recognized iatrogenic artifact and the sins of child molester friends of my ex-therapist was grotesque. But I am absolutely appalled and disgusted by the fact the psychiatric industry as a whole has made millions of children (and adults) sick in the exact same way I was made sick (misdiagnosis of ADRs to a “safe smoking cessation” med / antidepressant as bipolar, then causing anticholinergic intoxication with forced “bipolar” “cures,” via anticholinergic intoxication), merely for profit.
I agree, psychiatry is all about burning those (innocent “witches”) who are vulnerable. It is about eugenics.
And I no longer believe anything the psychiatric industry does is right. Stigmatizing and drugging up people who have been harmed is of no value to humanity. Putting those who abuse others in jail will help bring about a better world. Psychiatry is further harming the abused, rather than working to put the criminals abusing others in jail. My experience with psychiatry is they do the opposite of what is appropriate and right, because that is what is easy and profitable for them. But that is also the antithesis of what will help to right societal wrongs and make a better society.
I hope and pray for change within the psychiatric community. “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” They are the epidomy of an example of absolute corruption at this point.
Excellent, excellent article, right on target. Congratulations for all your posts. You have laid down the challenge: <
To complete the challenge, we will also need to come up with alternatives to psychiatric *excuses* for criminal behavior.
Tina’s challenge in her article was missing from my reply above. It is: What do we want to see in a world without forced psychiatry?
What would I like to see in a world without forced psychiatry?
I’ll take a page from the gay-rights movement and describe a world that treats people with emotional distress (from now on referred to as alternative thinkers) as valuable members of society. I would like to see alternative thinkers having the right to ‘come out’ about it in a way that is safe and at a time that is right for them. I would like to for it to be uncouth to judge someone else’s situation or to force them out of the closet before they are ready. If someone says that their relative is acting strangely and must be an alternative thinker, then everyone else will frown saying that nobody should be forced out of the closet. And when we do come out, I want for our community to value each member, even when the dominate society may not. I would like to see peer groups of alternative thinkers and family of alternative thinkers support each other. We need to help each other brainstorm ways to decrease trauma and to heal from it. The greatest healing is in a community where we are valued, and if nobody else will create that community for us, we must do it ourselves.
This is similar to the gay movement where PFLAG helps organize groups for gay people and their families, many churches have a gay community (official or unofficial), high schools have gay-straight alliances, political parties have gay groups, and allies are always encouraged to participate. In the community _strong_ support for the newly coming has saved many lives from suicide and violence (directed at gay people). This community formed the grass-roots of the gay movement, and it is at the heart of political success.
Why cannot we replicate this for ourselves? There are barriers that make this difficult (for example coming out as an alternative thinker will currently result in lost jobs). But we can form a community. We can be honest with each other and (perhaps) with our families. We can support each other, love each other, and decrease the chances that one of our own will attract the attention of psychiatry by suicide attempts or violence. We can form strong identities around our alternative thinking that will help us stand upright in the face of stigma. Maybe we can get a law passed that protects our jobs. Then we can be even more visible reducing stigma still further.
We can change the world.
Yes. And that is something we are working on also through the CRPD and its interpretation. I have materials on the CHRUSP website on this and will be doing another submission to a relevant UN process this year as well. Look on http://www.chrusp.org/home/resources under Prison Reform/Abolition and CRPD. I will try to post here as well on the topic and will look forward to comments.
See also the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture, dealing with the rights of prisoners – it is related to the same process for which I will be submitting comments on behalf of WNUSP: the review of the Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners. He takes up the key demands of WNUSP in this paper, and to read it is is necessary to understand that Rules 82 and 83 of the existing SMR are entitled “insane and mentally abnormal prisoners” and are all about transfer to forced psychiatry. See http://antitorture.org/sm/.
My comment was to the last part of David’s first comment, on alternatives to psychiatric excuses for criminal behavior.
I’m somewhat confused by this article. Maybe I’m reading it too simplistically, but aren’t there circumstances where an un-diagnosed mental illness is wreaking havoc in a person’s life, which they don’t recognize themselves, or deny, where there needs to be intervention? I’m speaking from personal experience where my father would have manic episodes to the point that he became so sleep deprived that he would develop psychotic, delusional thinking. During two significant episodes that he had when I was a child, in the 60s, he was treated with Thorazine in pill form prescribed by his family Dr. and each time, the Thorazine would, eventually, pull him out of his psychosis and then he would resume “normal” life. There was no follow-up, no further treatment and for the remainder of his life he lived as an un-medicated, un-treated, bi-polar; staying mainly in the hypo-manic state. My childhood was pretty much chaotic, terrifying, and traumatic (as he was a rapid-cycler and his mood changes were rapid and un-predictable. I knew my childhood was different from others, but it never occurred to me to question why he was the way he was, he was just he, and he was the boss and I and my siblings followed his every command. He was very successful in a business sense; most likely because his financial wheelings and dealings kept his hypo-mania entertained. Though we never lived in one place for long because he was constantly buying and selling our homes, for a profit, and the we’d move on to another place. But anyway, to make along story short, during his last manic episode he once again developed psychotic delusions, but by then, he was re-married and his 2nd wife didn’t know anything about his past psychotic episodes and she didn’t recognize his need for help, to the point where it culminated into a murder-suicide with him shooting his 2nd wife and, then, himself. He was 48. Fast forward to 2011 and my 50 year old brother is manic, is not eating or sleeping and has developed psychotic delusions that one particular person is trying to kill him. He wouldn’t listen to the fact that he was not thinking clearly, he was NOT threatening to kill anyone or himself, therefore he didn’t fall into the criteria for a 72 hour emergency evaluation, where, I personally, feel that an anti-psychotic would have pulled him out of his psychotic delusions. He even, actually, called the County Sheriff’s to his son’s empty rental apartment where he was hiding out from his supposed stalker, to check all of the closets because he thought his stalker had made it into the apartment and was moving from closet to closet, getting ready to kill him. The Sheriff assessed the situation, told his diagnosed-schizophrenic wife that her husband needed to go to the hospital because he wasn’t thinking right, but basically there was nothing the Sheriff could do, because he didn’t fit the criteria to be hospitalized against his will. My brother wouldn’t go, he stated there was nothing wrong with him and it was “the guy” who was after him who was causing all of the problems, not him. According to his wife they spent the rest of the night driving around, they stopped @ their house for a few hours, then he woke her and told her they had to go and they went back to his son’s empty rental apartment, where his wife went into the living room and went back to sleep. She was awakened by a noise and when she went into the kitchen he was laying on the floor, in a corner facing the door, dead from a gun shot wound to the head. This is were my confusion lies. Shouldn’t we have been able to stop this somehow? Shouldn’t we have been able to have him hospitalized against his will? @ what point are we able to step in and save someone from themselves, when they’re armed and psychotic? I’m thankful that he didn’t take anyone with him, but, I guess that’s where I’m not “getting” your article. Is it o.k. to accept that you could have saved someones life if they had been given an anti-psychotic, but they couldn’t be given it, because of their freedom to refuse? Does a psychotic patient really “know” what they’re refusing. That’s all. I ask this question in all seriousness, I’m not trying to be ironic or sarcastic. It has really bothered me a lot that there wasn’t more I could do for my brother. Sure he was always a little “off” his whole life, but @ what point should we be able to intervene? I’m diagnosed Bi-Polar II, take an anti-depressant, but when I’m really stressed I need a light anti-psychotic, to combat my paranoia, which does resolve after being on it for a couple weeks, when I then taper-off. Any answers to my question to help me gain some in-sight and perspective would be appreciated.
The assumptions we make and the way we tell a story narrow the kinds of responses we can make to it. When you use terms like “mania” and especially when you attribute causative power to a state so described, we immediately think about psychiatric or mental health solutions. Such words are used sometimes as a convenience or shorthand but they really don’t do justice to what people are experiencing. Chris Hansen has a segment in the Intentional Peer Support workshop where she asks people to tell their life story using psychiatric diagnoses and concepts, and then without them. The stories are incredibly different – and our responses to them are different.
We don’t have the power to predict anyone’s future with anything near good accuracy – I won’t even suggest 100%. This is no more true about predicting what people will do who experience states that get named schizophrenia or mania, than it is about anyone else. We also don’t have the power to know for certain what will happen if we do X or fail to do Y. Hindsight can eat a person up, I know from personal experience.
Regarding the kind of childhood you had – I can relate. My mother was very strange and while I will not label her, she took a variety of psychiatric drugs at different times throughout her life – neuroleptics, benzos and SSRIs – and she somehow managed to relate to each member of the family in a way that was differentially abusive. Like you, I experienced it as that was just the way things were. I would wish in that kind of situation, for families to be less isolated, but this is a cultural thing – in no way would I have wanted the mental health or child welfare systems to intervene in my family.
Looking at the stories you tell, it’s clear there was a problem with violence. That’s separate from the mania. I can’t tell you how many people I know who experience mania and psychosis (their terminology or what they get labeled with) and who have never been violent and abhor violence. On the other hand, I also know several people who report that when taking SSRIs they felt impulses to suicide that they never experienced at any other time. It doesn’t sound like that was the case with your father or brother. I don’t know what to say, except that my heart goes out to you in dealing with these losses and the violence surrounding them.
After the psychiatric profiling got going in earnest as official national discourse after the Newtown shootings last December, I started some discussions about what we could do in a positive way in these situations. (Before it became clear that we – survivors of psychiatry – were going to be silenced in every way possible.) One idea was to share stories and knowledge about how we deal with impulses to violence that we might have had, to learn from each other about what could be useful to stop it from happening. This would still be a good idea.
I know that I was kind of awed by Antoinette Tuff, who convinced a man with a gun to put it down and let the police come, and not to shoot anyone. I want to learn from her example that it is possible and to imagine and cultivate in myself what it takes to act as she did. She took a risk, not flamboyantly as entrepreneurs often are proud of risk taking, but humbly because she did what had to be done.
This is a necessarily incomplete response, I thank you for writing and hope that we can generate some discussion about how to react to situations of potential violence, and situations where something else is going on that causes disruption or disturbance in someone else’s life or in our communal life with another person.
Dear Suskar, After reading about the tragedy your family went through and to help you gain some insight and perspective and to help you heal I write to you from out of my lived experience as a psychiatric survivor .I’m 66 years old ,and entered the psychiatric gulag at the age of 16 .It took over 40 years to free myself from their tortures.Relying on experience and pattern recognition I can tell you that mercury poisoning from so called silver amalgam fillings which are really over 50% mercury can absolutely cause the same mental emotional states that your father and brother went through.The fillings act as time released mercury which is the second deadliest element to human health on the periodic table.Check Hal Huggins DDS writings ,see Chris Shade MD interview by Dr. Mercola at Mercola.com to understand the wide action of mercury on the brain and mind. Also contact the organization DAMS Dentists Against Mercury Syndrome .Check out the protocol used by the Paracelsus Klinic in Switzerland.I believe one of the reasons Finlands open dialog counseling technique gets such great results is because Finland has banned the use of mercury as a dental material.I have experienced the severe sleep deprivation caused by mercury fillings, its horrific and the state of fear and delusions brought on by it is at an extreme primal intense level and I was prescribed Thorazine when I was 16 .Of course I always stopped taking it when released from hospitals.Also in my fifties had all mercury fillings removed as well as root canals ,had been checked for cavitation all according to Hal Huggins protocols.The subsidence of all symptoms is the most amazing transformation I ever experienced.One in six people have trouble eliminating mercury from their bodies. It’s a miracle I’m even alive and remain to tell thee.Of course betrayal trauma when a person is abused by those that should love and care for them combined with mercury poisoning and psych drug cocktails can be a horrific perfect storm.There were times when meds were a help to me. I was also helped by Traditional Naturopathy,Homeopathy,and Yuen Method and inventions of my own. I am by the grace of G-D med free and happy to be alive.I must say that after my parents passed away my sister authorized for me to get the dental work of my choosing done.Including metal free dentures it cost just under $6000. The dentist said He thought I was dying when I first sat in his dental chair.I now sing the true song of life.I wish that there were the trillions of dollars or more available for all those that need advanced dentistry around the world.
Thanks for your response, Tina. I guess I’m always just trying to put things into a simple, little box that is Right or Wrong and life is never that simple. I like to keep an open-mind and try to learn what I can, from other people’s perspective. My husband has always said that my father’s actions weren’t as much about mental illness as they were about him getting really, super angry and, yes, my father had a very quick, violent,temper sometimes; but other times you could do the exact same thing that had made him angry before and he would laugh about it. I’m positive my childhood experiences have a lot to do with my difficulties in navigating through life. I don’t know what kind of person I would be if I’d been raised differently. Would I be more functional? Who knows. :)Thanks again for your response.
Psychiatric profiling is “blood libel.”
Psychiatric treatment is “blood letting.”
And as our British readers would say, “None of it is any bloody good.”
Outstanding Tina! We are so proud of you!
With deep gratitude and love,
I once spoke to a domestic violence agency, which I was seeking shelter from after running away from a really horrible situation. One of their first questions was, “Have you ever received a psychiatric diagnosis?” I stated that I had been diagnosed with PTSD and DID. The response was, “DID is a really serious diagnosis. Are you taking any medication?” I bit my tongue on the “serious diagnosis” thing, not thinking it would be useful to lament about dissociation being a critical survival skill for people who grew up in terribly abusive environments, and stated that I’m extremely chemically sensitive and have been instructed by my doctors to avoid all pharmaceutical medication, and that even if I wanted to be medicated, there is no drug that will “cure” you of trauma and dissociation. The response was that they couldn’t help me because they “have to think of the safety of other residents.” I have no criminal record, nor any history of or propensity towards violence, but the psych labels alone were enough to determine that I was, somehow, a potential threat and undeserving of the protection I could have been offered. Assuming people with psychiatric labels to be violent is akin to assuming people who, in any way, appear to be of Arab descent, to be terrorists, or assuming people who identify as anything other than definitively heterosexual to be child molesters, except that most of society can, at this point, see the incorrectness and ridiculousness of stigmatizing those groups based on outdated stereotypes- those of us with psychiatric labels have not been afforded the same decency.