Custody of Justina Pelletier to Be Decided Tomorrow


The custody of Justina Pelletier, a Connecticut 15-year-old whose odyssey of diagnosis with “Somatoform Disorder” has trapped her in Boston Children’s Hospital since last February, will be decided by a Boston judge tomorrow. (Video)


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Of further interest:
Frustration on all fronts in struggle over child’s future (Boston Globe)
Custody Of West Hartford Girl Stuck In Hospital To Be Decided Friday (Fox News)

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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. This is such an obvious example of psychiatry being out of control, I can’t understand why our movement folks in the Boston area seem to have nothing to say about it. The same thing happened several years ago, when four-year-old Rebecca Riley died after being massively drugged by psychiatrists since the ago of two. In Rebecca’s case, her abuse and death was even covered on national television.

    What are people in our movement doing about situations like these? We don’t need any more articles on MIA discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Cases like this are an opportunity to educate the public about the danger the growing power of psychiatry poses to everyone in our society.

    Just what is people’s concept of a movement here? Is it a kind of writing class where we say “isn’t it awful” and then continue to do nothing? Is it some kind of Harvard graduate seminar where we show off what brilliant intellectuals we are?

    I can’t imagine any issue that would concern such a large part of the public than psychiatrists taking away people’s children so that they can drug them. It’s one of the best opportunities I can imagine to show the public what psychiatry is really about.

    It’s shameful that people who say they are opposed to psychiatric abuse just sit and do nothing in the face of these atrocities. What kind of movement is this?

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  2. This case has been being decided “tomorrow” since the beginning of the month. Has the poor kid even been outside since her commitment? The Boston Globe did an excellent series on this situation. It was available online, but now it’s only available online with a subscription. The series gave the hospital and the state a fair shake, but the collection of facts, including reports regarding Justina’s medical condition, did not fall in favor of their theories and actions.

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  3. I see that the hospital is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, home of Dr. Joseph Biederman. That’s all the more reason to go after them full blast.

    I am fed up with this pathetic excuse for a movement. Continuing with my involvement is just a waste of time.

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  4. Ted,

    I asked you for suggestions regarding fighting the Tim Murphy bill. Again, what suggestions do you have in this situation?

    But I see this issue s more complex than just being about psychiatry. The abuses of the state child protection agency are horrific and not just in this state. They are the ones allowing this kid to be locked up in the psychiatric department.

    And this hospital has a history of going after parents of kids with “unbelievable” diagnosis’

    Anyway, as I asked you on another thread, what is the next action to take?

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    • AA, I completely agree with you about the child “welfare” system. Remember that I was a victim of that system in a very similar way to this girl’s experience. The social worker who visited my foster parents was on the lookout for children who could be experimented on with shock treatment, and so I was turned over to the child psychiatrists who was making her reputation by shocking children.

      I don’t remember your question about the Murphy bill, but I thought my multiple comments on Facebook were pretty clear. I don’t think at this time, there is much we CAN do. Because most of our movement has merged with the mental “health” system, we have become invisible to the general public and have no political influence at all. I suppose you could write to your congressperson. Good luck with that.

      I must say, though, that I think it is extremely unlikely the bill will pass or even make it out of committee. More likely is some kind of “more money for mental health” type bills like the one now being sponsored by Senators Stabenow and Blunt.

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  5. Ted,

    I have the same question raised by AA.

    Over the years, I’ve written many letters, made many phone calls – for MindFreedom Action alerts; other situations where people were in dire need of help.

    I appreciate your personal story, activism, and all you’ve done in your life. But most of us are not attorneys, and we simply do the best we can do.

    I share your frustration to some extent. It seems to me we are talking about *civil* rights here. Yet, there’s a tendency to get into talk about more nebulous human rights, not to mention all the other irrelevant talk that follows – bashing capitalism, western civilization, etc…. In the meantime, a fellow human being’s freedom lies in the balance.

    So, to repeat AA’s question: What do we do, counselor?


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    • What can we do about the Murphy bill? As I said above, basically nothing. About Justina P., not much unless we are in the Boston area. If you are there, I encourage you to find out if anyone is demonstrating and join them. I also think it would be worthwhile to write to some of the folks in the Boston area who blog for MIA, and encourage them to act.

      As far as my being a lawyer, it means almost nothing here, unless I were in the Boston area and involved in the case. The kinds of courts who make these decisions are really lawless anyway. The standard is “the best interest of the child,” which I am sure you can see means the judge can do anything he or she wants. Another practice which most courts of this kind carry out is to close the hearings to the public, which means the outrageous decisions made there are not exposed so that the public can do anything about them.

      Any action to bring about a resolution of this has to be political, not legal. Ultimately, taking away a lot of the power of judges in this area and making sure the public can see what they do can’t be accomplished with lawsuits. It has to be done politically.

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      • “Any action to bring about a resolution of this has to be political, not legal.”

        I agree but I also think the state of Connecticut (Justina’s state of residence) needs to get involved, on her behalf. I’m not a lawyer so while it seems like a logical and common sense thought to me, I have no idea what “laws” there may be for the fact that one state has taken possession of another state’s citizen.

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    • “I share your frustration to some extent. It seems to me we are talking about *civil* rights here. Yet, there’s a tendency to get into talk about more nebulous human rights, not to mention all the other irrelevant talk that follows – bashing capitalism, western civilization, etc…. In the meantime, a fellow human being’s freedom lies in the balance.

      So, to repeat AA’s question: What do we do, counselor?

      Duane ”

      Ted is correct – basically nothing for that one person.
      Except that you can do something for yourself – you have been given a gift and you are throwing it away. You’ve learned unlike many others and unlike the population of the near future that you are living in a fascist despotic state exactly the same as Stalinism or Naziism because power and wealth is centralized in the hands of a chosen few. You have learned the fix is in and justice and the law is owned by the elite.
      So learn the lesson and stop supporting the system, there can be no reform as long as the system of fascism is not reformed and the wealth and power redistributed back into the population creating a democracy.
      Economic fascists own Big Pharma as well as the Insurance companies (which have no other purpose of existing except to oppress and exploit the population).

      There is no capitalism as the economic fascists own nearly all of the capital. So if someone thinks capitalism is being “bashed” they are under an illusion inculcated by propaganda. Obamacare is opposed by the economic fascists – It is simply amazing how propaganda systems can manipulate masses of people to oppose their own freedom and oppose their own basic interests. How can people free Justina when they cannot even free themselves from their own indoctrinations and cannot even see the nature of the beast that is oppressing them?
      How can people help Justina when they cannot even free themselves from their own propaganda indoctrination? Bio-med Psychiatry is only a small part of the lying propaganda system of the elite. Everything one knows that has been introjected from public education and the MSM needs to be vomited out and then critically reabsorbed.

      And thus here is one of the positive effects of metal illness. Most of the mentally ill have vomited out the anti-human indoctrinations of their culture and on the road to reconstruction they have had to reality test all the basic assumptions that they held.
      One can observe the reality of this phenomenon when one observes parents with offspring who have become “mentally ill”. The child often has their “blinders” erased while the parents are still operating under many illusory and irrational social indoctrinations. This brings and enormous conflict into the family dynamic and the entire society (family, social workers, doctors, agents of the state) tries to make the afflicted person “rational” again by re-indoctrinating them with irrational ideas.

      So there is the cure for fascism and freedom from Bio-med Psychiatry – induce insanity in the population and let them find their way back to sanity without lobotomizing meds.
      lol – a big lol on that.

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  6. Excellent!

    Monday, December 9, 2013
    Taking an active stance for Justina Pelletier!
    The director of MitoAction has decided to take a very active stance in helping Justina Pelletier. Cristiy Balcells has been on a panel for the Glen Beck radio show. She has written an article for The Blaze as well. Mrs. Balcells is working hard to help share education and alert the world to the Pelletier’s story.

    What can you and I do to assist MitoAction and the Pelletier family? SHARE this letter and chime in with LOADS of support. It would be the perfect time for us ALL to send respectful personal letters to Boston Children’s Hospital.

    The following was posted on FB by Cristy Balcells:

    Sent to the CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital:

    Mrs. Fenwick,

    As the executive director of a national mitochondrial disease advocacy organization and a patient advocate, I implore you to investigate the treatment of Justina Pelletier who is inpatient as a psychiatric patient at your hospital.

    Justina has been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease from one of the most well-respected physicians in the United States for mitochondrial medicine. She has a positive family history and her previous medical history has adequate documentation that the symptoms which she experiences are validated by laboratory and diagnostic testing.
    Upon admission to your hospital in April 2012, Justina’s mitochondrial disease diagnosis was disputed and she was diagnosed with somatoform disorder. Indeed, many patients with mitochondrial disorder are mistakenly diagnosed with a psychiatric condition such as somatoform disorder, especially since a hallmark characteristic of mitochondrial disease is symptoms in multiple organ systems with an unpredictable presentation.

    Please take a moment to review the following:

    Biopsychosoc Med. 2008 Feb 22;2:7. doi: 10.1186/1751-0759-2-7.

    Symptoms of somatization as a rapid screening tool for mitochondrial dysfunction in depression.
    Gardner A, Boles RG.
    Division of Medical Genetics and the Saban Research Institute, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA.
    Abstract AIMS:

    Somatic symptomatology is common in depression, and is often attributed to the Freudian-inspired concept of “somatization”. While the same somatic symptoms and depression are common in mitochondrial disease, in cases with concurrent mood symptoms the diagnosis of a mitochondrial disorder and related therapy are typically delayed for many years. A short screening tool that can identify patients with depression at high risk for having underlying mitochondrial dysfunction is presented.

    Six items of the Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP) were found to differentiate among 21 chronically-depressed Swedish subjects with low versus normal muscle ATP production rates. A screening tool consisting of the six KSP questions was validated in the relatives of American genetics clinic patients, including in 24 matrilineal relatives in families with maternally inherited mitochondrial disease and in 30 control relatives.

    Among the depressed Swedish patients, the screening tool was positive in 13/14 with low and 1/7 with normal mitochondrial function (P = 0.0003). Applied to the American relatives of patients, the screening tool was positive in 13/24 matrilineal relatives and in 1/30 control relatives (P = 2 x 10-5).

    Our preliminary data suggest that a small number of specific somatic-related questions can be constructed into a valid screening tool for cases at high risk for having a component of energy metabolism in their pathogenesis.
    As you are surely aware, the family in question has documentation that every test, every procedure and every medication was requested by a board-certified physician. In fact, Ms. Fenwick, I earnestly ask you to consider that the plight of this family is one faced by many families across the country when their disease is misunderstood.

    On behalf of the mitochondrial disease community, I am asking you to employ common sense and investigate the details surrounding this case. Upon doing so, you will find that since this child’s mitochondrial disease treatment regimen was removed in April of 2013, she has dramatically decompensated. The patient is weaker than she has ever been before. Further, despite being under the care of a team of physicians in your hospital for a number of months, she is not “better”. Despite being removed from the care of her attentive and loving family, her disease state has not “reversed” but has progressed.

    The lack of a guardian in litem to care for this child is equally distressing. This patient has experienced an absolute absence of a consistent adult whom she could trust and who could care for her. There are volumes of research on broken parental bonds and the tragic impact which they have on children of all ages, especially when the child is chronically ill.

    Ms. Fenwick, please know that the entire mitochondrial disease community is standing strong behind this family and that we are prepared to continue to take a public position to actively support this and ALL patients and families with mitochondrial disease. I am certainly available to you as a resource to help you understand the many complexities of this disease and the challenges which our patients face.

    Cristy Balcells RN MSN

    Cristy Balcells RN MSN, Exec Director
    Mitochondrial Disease Action Committee
    PO Box 51474
    Boston MA 02205
    1-888-MITOACTION (888-648-6228

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