Antipsychotics Used to Subdue Prison Inmates


Mangaung Prison, the second-largest private prison in the world, is under investigation by the South African government for using forcible injections and electric shock treatment to subdue inmates. A year-long investigation by the journalism department of the University of Witwatersrand found that the medical staff regularly injected inmates with antipsychotics (including Risperdal) as a means of controlling behavior. Prison officials defended use of the drugs, which are known to cause memory loss, muscle rigidity, strokes and other serious, potentially life-threatening side effects.

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Of further interest:
Mangaung Defends Antipsychotic Injections for Prisoners (Mail & Guardian)


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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. The mental health mafia is using forcible injections and electric shock treatment to subdue hospital inmates right here in the USA every single day.

    The biggest mental health mafia player is “Universal Health Services” Universal Health Services, Inc. (NYSE: UHS) is a Fortune 500 company based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. UHS owns and operates behavioral health centers.

    Some of the worst.

    In October 2007, news stories appeared on the death of a 17-year-old boy at the hands of staff members in a Tennessee psychiatric facility. The death was ruled a homicide. A month later, another story appeared, exposing the circumstances surrounding the death of a 14-year-old who was violently restrained by a 260-lb. staff member in the same Tennessee facility.

    A Tamarac mother sued Fort Lauderdale Hospital owned by univeral health services and a psychiatrist who worked there, saying they overmedicated her teenage son with a cocktail of mental health drugs — some of which have not been approved for the treatment of children.

    The boy, Emilio Villamar, died of a sudden heart attack. He was 16.

    Emilio, a swimmer and water polo player, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by Dr. Sohail Punjwani in March 2002. Within the next year, the teen was given 16 different psychiatric drugs, six of which were still being administered wile he was locked up and drugged against his will in Fort Lauderdale Hospital in Florida.

    He died.

    This list would be a mile long if I posted all of them. Next,

    Inside The Nation’s (USA) Largest Mental Institution

    Walking into the “high observation” area, patients stare out through the glass walls of their cells, many nearly naked.

    “They just don’t want to get dressed,” explains Deputy William Hong.

    Across the way, about a dozen inmates are engaged in a “socialization” exercise. Some participants are chained to benches — “for civilian workers’ safety,” as Hong explains it. Others sit listlessly at tables, in long draping ponchos that deputies refer to as “suicide gowns.”

    “They can’t rip it,” explains Hong. Clothes can prove dangerous tools to a depressed or paranoid inmate.

    “They’ve tried to flush it down — clog the toilet, flood the area. Or they’ve tried to harm themselves,” he says.

    Psychiatric abuse is a world wide problem.

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  2. Of course it is not only in prisons that these atrocities happen. One only has to look in ‘mental’ hospitals, ‘care’ in the community programs, old people’s homes, foster homes for children, and schools to name a few. In fact anywhere, where some people want to control and dominate others. Psychiatry is one big fat lie and practitioners are, and always have been, big fat liars. Those, such as Robert Spitzer and Allen Frances who have propogated these untruths, that ‘mental illness’ is a life long brain disease to be dealt with by brain damaging ‘treatments’ are now welcome to contribute to this site? Just in case we are seen as anti-psychiatry? Well, as Ted says, ‘we are all anti-psychiatry now’. If not, why not?

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    • Allen Frances said/wrote this ,

      There are no laboratory tests for psychiatry, no bright lines to say who is sick and who is well. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, has come to be regarded as the bible of psychiatric diagnosis. First published in 1952 and revised several times since then, it improved the reliability of subjective diagnoses. But Dr. Allen Frances says it’s also had harmful unintended consequences. He was once dubbed “the most powerful psychiatrist in America” by The New York Times. Now he says the DSM has contributed to psychiatric fads, diagnostic inflation and over-medication. He believes the latest version threatens to turn everyday living into psychiatric disease. He joins Diane to discuss his new book, “Saving Normal,” and how to rein in psychiatry and drug companies …

      Excerpt from the book “Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life” by Allen Frances. Published by William Morrow. Copyright © 2013 by Allen Frances. Reprinted with permission.

      You won’t hear about this on the T.V news anytime soon cause after reporting on it, taking a break to play commercials for antidepressants and brain disbaling Abilify might give big media editors and producers indigestion, since their very existence kinda depends on Big Pharma sponsorship.

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    • Nick,

      In my opinion, the lies regarding psych meds transcend psychiatry as now many doctors are drinking the kool aid. When I saw sleep doctor number one, she demanded (I am not joking) that I see a psychiatrist because I was having trouble adjusting to pap therapy. To shut her up, I told her I would see a counselor and in response, she insisted it had to be a medical doctor. She then had the gall to say that it didn’t necessarily mean I would be given prescription meds.

      A primary care physician I was considering going to several years ago was stunned when I said I was tapering off of psych med and said that most people needed to be on antidepressants for life. In my opinion, that attitude hasn’t changed very much.

      By the way, I am not minimizing the outrage against psychiatry. But to strictly focus on them as the problem when most non psychiatrists believe that psych meds are a great solution to everything is losing site of the big picture in my opinion.

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    • Just cause most people that get screwed over with a “Baker Act” swallow there Haldol without objection to get out sooner does not mean the whole ordeal is not coercive !!!

      “Coercive psychiatric treatment is now relatively rare”

      Allen Frances , you lost credibilty with that one. Be real.

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  3. Coercive psychiatric treatment has exploded thanks to the rise of outpatient commitment (called “assisted” community treatment in my neck of the woods). There are far more people under these orders than ever would be able to fit into our psych hospitals. Thus our standard for ACT gets lower and lower because it’s an inexpensive social policy (financially speaking, of course, ignoring the horrendous human cost).

    I have been reading a bit about the difference in our respective legal standards and it would appear, in British Columbia anyway, that the criteria for ACT in my country is way, way, way lower than in yours.

    ACT was far more traumatizing to me than hospitalization. In hospital (as an involuntary patient) you know you’re being assaulted. You can say to yourself “this won’t last long … I can get through this.” With ACT, the assault is much more insidious. Having the sanctity of your home threatened when they come with the hypodermic needle. Having to listen to the psych-speak of the deliverers. It’s soul destroying.

    One specific goal that I support (as opposed to getting rid of involuntary treatment altogether) is to raise the standard for ACT to that of what’s required for hospitalization. If that were to happen (and it’s within the realm of possibility, as opposed to repealing mental health laws altogether which is a non-starter), then somebody faced with ACT could reasonably decline with a fair amount of confidence that their position would hold. They can’t lock all of us up.

    The criteria for ACT should at least be raised to include past violence. And I’m talking a genuine criminal conviction in court, not the say-so of a psychiatric social worker. Further, that conviction should be reviewed in context. Assaults against psychiatric staff are often justified. Sorry, Torrey, but it’s true.

    These are the kinds of issues that I wish the psych rights movement could come together on. We are so fractured and there is so much infighting that I often despair that we will ever be heard. I’ve rejected (and been rejected by) a lot of survivor groups that I find just as oppressive as psychiatry. Merely shrieking and “raging against the machine” will get us nowhere. What’s required is rational, informed discussion, a phenomenon woefully scarce in our movement.

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