Justina Pelletier Supporters Say: Close Harvard’s Abusive Psych Ward at Boston Children’s Hospital


Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them…The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

— Frederick Douglass

On Friday, January 10, I participated in a demonstration at the courthouse in Boston where the fate of teenager Justina Pelletier was being decided, in a courtroom closed to the public, as almost all such life and  death decisions about children are made across our country.  I had flown in the night before from California, and between my jet lag and the snow and freezing temperatures, my too-old body felt pretty stressed. But it was the right thing to do.

The demo was sponsored by a loose coalition, a group called Mito Action (mostly parents of kids with Justina’s rare medical condition and other parents), and added to by some of us psych survivors and others who are committed to fighting for human rights in the mental illness system.  There were about twenty of us demonstrators, and a great deal of media coverage Рat least four or five TV crews and the mainstream newspaper, the Boston Globe.

Demonstrators at the January 10 hearing, left to right: Ted Chabasinski (California); Shuko Tamao (Amherst); Melissa Kerins (Boston); and “Scott” (Long Island, N.Y.)

Though the demo was smaller than I and the organizers had hoped, most of the TV people and the reporter for the¬†Globe¬†interviewed some of the demonstrators, and there was a lot of coverage afterwards, much of it rather confused. ¬†The most confused coverage, to me, appeared in People¬†magazine, but I suppose it was good that they reported on it.¬†I think the confusion was mostly caused by the gag orders the judge had imposed on the parties to the case, and the secrecy of the proceedings, which as I have said before are a nationwide practice intended to protect the child ‚Äúprotection‚ÄĚ agencies and, yes, the judges.

The consensus of the media reports was that Justina would be moved out of Bader 5, the Harvard Psychiatry Department‚Äôs ward at the hospital, and sent to a ‚Äústepdown facility,‚ÄĚ whatever that is, which would be in Connecticut, and that the girl‚Äôs medical treatment would be coordinated by the original Tufts Medical Center doctor who had ¬†diagnosed her with mitochondrial disorder, a rare and not yet generally accepted metabolic disease. ¬†According to some media reports, the purpose of the transfer from Harvard‚Äôs Boston Children‚Äôs Hospital (BCH) was to see if Justina could function in a more ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ environment. ¬†Some of the media reports said that a likely outcome at the next hearing, scheduled for February 4, would be that custody of the girl (though not legal custody), would be returned to her parents, under strict guidelines set by the court and the child ‚Äúprotection‚ÄĚ agency, also known as the Department of Children and Families (DCF). There is no doubt that the guidelines will include continuing to drug the child.

Just as I was finishing this article, the Boston¬†Globe¬†reported that Justina had been moved to a psychiatric facility in Framingham, not far from Boston, and that the Tufts doctor would not be involved with Justina‚Äôs ‚Äúcare‚ÄĚ after all. ¬†My informants tell me that the Globe would be the most reliable source of the intentions of DCF, since apparently some official of the DCF has been feeding the Globe information about DCF‚Äôs activities and their point of view. ¬†The agency is doing this in spite of the gag order the judge imposed on all parties to the case. ¬†One can be sure that if Justina‚Äôs parents violated the gag order, they would be summoned before the judge in an instant for a contempt of court hearing, yet the court seems to be allowing the agency to get away with this.

It would be more just to let all parties say what they want to say, as, unlike most custody cases, the public is already involved.

Meanwhile, DCF itself, generally recognized as incompetent, is being investigated by the state, and I am told that there will be a legislative hearing on January 23. It will begin at 11 am, in the Gardner Auditorium at the Statehouse in Boston. I urge all of my readers who care about this to show up at that hearing.  A large turnout will show legislators that the public is concerned and paying attention.  One of the issues that surely will be taken up at this hearing is how DCF lost track of a five-year-old child entrusted to their care, and still does not know where he is (or even if he is alive).

We need no media reports to tell us that Justina has been heavily drugged over the past year, as the Bader 5 psychiatrists are all acolytes of the notorious Harvard child psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Biederman, who has received millions of dollars from drug companies to promote the mass ‚Äúmedication‚ÄĚ of children. And Justina‚Äôs new placement in a psychiatric facility means the drugging will continue.

As most of MIA readers know, psychiatric drugs have powerful bad effects on the metabolic functioning of those who are forced to take them, particularly girls and young women. ¬†Justina‚Äôs medical problem is basically a metabolic one, and instead of being treated for her medical condition, she is being given drugs that exacerbate it. ¬†My informants involved in fighting for Justina’s freedom say that she is now unable to walk and that her physical condition is deteriorating. ¬†Many are worried that she will not survive, and so am I. ¬†I believe that part of the reason the hospital, through its agent the DCF, went along with moving the girl out of the hospital is the bad publicity that would have ensued if she had died there. If she dies, what will all the apologists for Harvard‚Äôs psychiatry department say?

Rebecca Riley
Rebecca Riley

It was one of Dr. Biederman‚Äôs disciples several years ago who was responsible for the death of Rebecca Riley, whom she diagnosed (without even seeing her) as ‚Äúbipolar‚ÄĚ from the age of two, another diagnosis promoted by Doctor Biederman, who could fairly be described as the leader of child psychiatry in America (just like the psychiatrist, Doctor Lauretta Bender, ¬†who experimented on me with shock treatment when I was ¬†a little boy). ¬†Rebecca died at the age of four, of multiple organ failure caused by the massive amounts of psychiatric drugs she was given in her short life. Amazingly, it was the¬†parents¬†who were put on trial for Rebecca‚Äôs death, while the psychiatrist who did this was forced to testify under a grant of immunity from prosecution. ¬†After the trial, the jury foreperson, in a very unusual statement, said to the press that the jurors thought it was the doctor¬†who should have been put on trial.

Below is testimony by the bereaved father of a child whose son was taken from him by Harvard psychiatrists at the age of two and heavily drugged.  The little boy died at the age of five.  Notice that this parent is not a hedge fund manager or a doctor.  And neither is any other parent Harvard says should have their children taken away from them.

In what may be an important new development in the last few weeks, again well reported in the media, Barry S. Pollack, a lawyer who has represented several families in similar cases to Justina‚Äôs, wrote to the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health¬†(you can download the letter here) demanding the closure of Bader 5, Harvard‚Äôs psychiatric ward at the children‚Äôs hospital, ‚Äúunless and until the Commonwealth can confirm the safety of children there.‚ÄĚ Pollack, a former federal prosecutor and the longest-serving board member of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, minced no words as he mentioned several Bader 5 abusive staff by name. ¬†As a lawyer myself, I know you don‚Äôt do that unless you have facts to back up what you are saying¬†if you don‚Äôt want to lose a defamation lawsuit. ¬†Katie Higgins, a former nurse at Bader 5, now turned whistleblower, made the same accusations.

And some of my contacts among the concerned parents will be making the same demand.

Another hearing about Justina is scheduled for Tuesday, February 4 Рmost probably in the morning Рat the Edward Brooke Courthouse, 24 New Chardon Street in Boston.  Demonstrators will gather at 10 am and plan to be there until 1 pm.  If I can raise the money, I will come from California again to be there.

I urge everyone who reads this to participate.  Nothing will change unless we make it change. What has been done to Justina and her parents, and to many other children and families, by Doctor Biederman’s Harvard Child Psychiatry Department, is one of the most outrageous of many outrages perpetrated by psychiatry, and this is a chance to show the public what psychiatric power and its abuse really means.

And if you are religious, or even if you’re not, please pray that Justina survives what is being done to her.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion‚ÄĒbroadly speaking‚ÄĒof psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. I am confused ,

    gag order

    n. a judge’s order prohibiting the attorneys and the parties to a pending lawsuit or criminal prosecution from talking to the media or the public about the case. The supposed intent is to prevent prejudice due to pre-trial publicity which would influence potential jurors.

    Is Justina Pelletier a criminal ?

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  2. Ted, thank you for this informative article.

    We have a major snowstorm here in MA. Many schools decided to close tomorrow even before the first flakes fell. I hope this doesn’t deter people from showing up in a couple of days.

    Just a reminder for those that are planning to come: Please dress warmly, even if at first you think you are wearing too much. I was there on the 10th and luckily wore warm enough clothing, including heavy winter boots. But many folks found they were extremely cold even though it was well above freezing. We aren’t walking around; we’re just standing. I found I was so caught up in the moment that I barely noticed I was not only cold, but extremely thirsty.

    Regarding the “gag order” so often placed on patients or their families, I see this everywhere. That’s the “other” reason these places are locked. They determined to hold innocent people against their will. But also, they want to keep spies out. They don’t want anyone showing up on the unit that’s gonna squeal on them. All patients are automatically gagged. They can’t make phone calls in private, even though here in Massachusetts, “confidential telephone” is a Patient Right. I’m sure this is because these places are scared that the truth will get out. I was even told this by a staff person, “We’re taking away your phone privileges because we are afraid you will expose our unit.” Exact words. “Expose.”

    It’s one of my dreams that someday to be able to go onto the wards and meet directly to the patients so that they can report abuses in total confidence. The hospitals have “human rights officers” but they are hospital employees. I think this office is only there for show, so patients are fooled into believing that somehow, there’s regulation that ensures they get fair treatment. There need to be outside people that DO SOMETHING when patients are abused. I know so many that have put in complaints that have gone nowhere. I’ve heard multiple complaints from patients that never even met and their stories sound remarkably similar. Often, they can pinpoint one or two particularly abusive staff.

    All I do right now is to always tell people they can tell me about the horrors they’ve been through, and maybe we can get together and change things. People know I’m not a therapist or “staff” and I’m sure not going to tell them, “Oh, that never happened,” or, “You must be delusional.” Those that complain are assumed to be “paranoid.” That kind of assumption leads to further abuse.

    Julie Greene

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    • I have been a psychiatric prisoner, that’s why I write here. I made the mistake of going to the E.R with over the top anxiety during medication withdrawals, years before I fell for the low serotonin scam and a reckless HARVARD educated DR loaded me up with major pills, nothing in life taught me not to trust a doctor when he say’s “don’t worry it’s safe” and hands you an Rx.

      After these pills GAVE me anxiety and insomnia from hell and I goto the hospital, I was of course accused of ‘mania’ (blame the victim) and subjected to the standard threat of forced injection (violent drug rape) to coerce me to take brain disabling neuroleptics. My reaction to this disgusting abuse of course is charted as “rapid speech” and used as proof I was ‘manic’ and needed more of the same nasty abuse.

      What I needed was one person to ask “what were you like before taking ‘medication’ ” and explain how these pills make you and keep you sick and say we are going to get you off of this poison and healthy again.

      Explain to me how I fell for a scam and there never was anything wrong with my serotonin, that insomnia is not a symptom of depression you are just a major night owl, get used to it.

      As for abuse behind locked doors, its time to start putting stories, hospital,doctor and abuser names and faces online like is done with sex offenders.

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  3. Ted,

    You wrote:

    “I had flown in the night before from California, and between my jet lag and the snow and freezing temperatures, my too-old body felt pretty stressed. But it was the right thing to do.”

    Thank you, sir.
    A million times, thank you.

    “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.” – John F. Kennedy


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  4. Thank you Ted!

    There is another major development. The Coalition for Diagnostic Rights:

    “We are an organization in development born about a year ago through conversation about proposed changes to somatoform disorder, then rushed along to site design when we discovered the heartbreaking case of Justina Pelletier. The CDR developed as part of a natural conversation among doctors, patients, psychiatrists, philosophers and patient advocacy groups – a vital community of people and organizations who share concern about recklessness in the diagnosis of somatoform disorder.”

    Please visit their new site : diagnosticrights.org

    The background is chilling– that the diagnosis : Somatic Symptoms Disorder, added to the DSM V amidst severe criticism has provided psychiatrists a means to “DENY MEDICAL CARE” to people who may die as a result!

    Yes, this diagnosis – commented on by Dr. David Demaso in the Globe’s part 2 on December 16th sets the stage for the upcoming full tilt media exposure these “criminals” deserve,

    Justina’s life, has been derailed and threatened by the unscathed, unpunished HMS tribe of ruthless child psychiatrists.

    I think we can view this as the result of the campaign against forced, dangerous drugging of children– and realize that the time to fully expose them, hold them accountable- prosecute them as criminals AND end this now very obvious threat to the lives of our children: PSYCHIATRY!

    Saving Justina is foremost on my mind– posting time is limited. Fortunately, I know where the best and the brightest are– posting here is always a priority.

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  5. I don’t think it’s the drugs, the actual chemicals, that are the problem, but how they are used. They aren’t used ethically. Patients are rarely told the consequences of taking them. But in other branches of medicine, such as orthopedics, patients are even required to get a second opinion on surgery and make an informed decision. Surely, in anesthesiology, doctors usually make sure to inform patients of every single thing that can go wrong. You have to sign a paper saying you are aware of these risks before surgery.

    I signed a paper before having teeth pulled that said I was aware that there was a very slim chance I could become permanently injured or even die during or not long after the procedure even with only Novocaine. All kinds of scary things were on that paper. I had confidence, though, that the dental surgeon knew what he was doing and would see to it that I was fine. I knew my need to have my broken tooth removed was far greater than my need to keep it in my mouth.

    In psychiatry, we make no informed choices. Most are given the drugs and not told the real reasons these drugs are being given. They are given to “control” the patient. This has nothing to do with medical necessity. The drugs are given unethically, most likely because if the real truth gets out, we’d all be smart and decide NO WAY.

    Like guns, the drugs are harmless until they fall into wrong use. A gun that sits in a museum all day isn’t going to harm anyone. Guns wouldn’t be a problem if they were only used by hobbyists shooting plastic decoys in competitions. Maybe one or two of these psych meds had use, say, in veterinary medicine to anesthetize a horse so a vet could do surgery. Seems just about every time these unethical doctors get a human to agree to take them is through trickery. Julie Greene

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  6. I want people to know that I will definitely be in Boston for the February 4 demonstration and hearing. I have my plane ticket, bought partly with my own limited money, and I expect to have places to stay by the time I get there. I will be there for a week, and I want to meet with as many people as possible who are involved in this campaign, or want to be. If you don’t already have my email and/or phone, please contact me through MIA.

    I’ve had several contacts with some very impressive people in the last few days, and I am getting the impression that things are starting to snowball. What has been done to Justina and many other children by Doctor Biederman’s Harvard Child Psychiatry Department is one of the most horrible violations of human rights I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen (and experienced) plenty.

    This is a chance to start turning back psychiatry’s abuses of power, and I’m going to do all I can in this fight. I hope you are too.

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  7. This is good to know, Ted. I plan to be there and look forward to seeing you again. It certainly says something to the media that you and so many others are coming from such a distance. The fact that so many of us show up here in Boston even in the freezing cold, or speak out in any way shows them the level of commitment we feel.

    I am so moved by this because for a long time, my own doctors and therapists whom I trusted told me over and over that I was psychotic and had imagined the abuse I went through on a medical ward. I told them these things really happened, and I was unwavering with my claims. I could no longer continue seeing these docs because of this. I ended all mental health treatment, and won’t go back. It’s sad that even my friends turned their backs. My blood family left me long ago. Finally, I found other former patients, here on this site and elsewhere, who also went through similar experiences in hospitals. Those patients like myself who try to speak out about abuse are routinely bullied relentlessly until they shut up.

    Those of us who have medical needs cannot even walk into a hospital anymore. Many are terrified at the sight, sounds and stink of those places. We know that now we are liability cases for the medical profession and we can no longer get humane, unbiased care.

    I hope as many people come as are able.

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  8. I wish I’d had a champion like you when psychiatry got their hands on my child and killed him. It is too late for me but if there is anything I can do from over here to support Justine’s parents please let me know. I feel pretty useless saying that because all I have is a loud mouth and the recklessness that goes with having nothing left to lose but if those can be of any use…

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  9. “What has been done to Justina and many other children by Doctor Biederman‚Äôs Harvard Child Psychiatry Department is one of the most horrible violations of human rights I‚Äôve ever seen, and I‚Äôve seen (and experienced) plenty.”


    Again, thank you for all your efforts to bring attention and clarity to this case.

    I am praying that Justina will soon find the care that she needs (which, of course, includes being placed securely in her parents’ custody).

    Also, I pray that some very powerful light shall fully expose Harvard Child Psychiatry.

    Biederman (the psychiatrist who took millions of dollars in undisclosed Big Pharma pay-offs) should have had his physician’s license removed a long time ago. Truly, he should be doing jail time.

    Hopefully, the press will get their act together and begin connecting the dots.

    Wishing you safe travels and the best of health…



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    • I think at some point, this case will wind up in federal court. The lawyer who is calling for closing Bader 5 sure knows how to do it.

      But that won’t get anyone criminally prosecuted, unfortunately. Until this abuse of power by psychiatry is seen for the criminal behavior it is, there will be little change.

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      • Psychiatry’s abuse of power is definately criminal. I think Beiderman’s worst crimes against humanity are his almost single handed creation of the childhood bipolar epidemic – no doubt, an almost completely iatrogenic epidemic. Belief that antipsychotics should be forced upon children (or anyone) is torture, according to the UN, and pure evil, IMO.

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  10. Hi Ted and all those concerned about this travesty against another innocent child. I greatly admire you hard work on behalf of Justina.

    Here is an update on the case in the event anyone missed it:


    Though I am not able to be with you in your protests on behalf of Justina, she and all of you will most certainly be in my prayers.

    I’ve been praying for years that these intraspecies predators of the mental death profession would be exposed and my prayers seem to be getting answered more and more!

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    • How sad to find that Justina has been placed at the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network. Residential treatment outcomes are disappointing and it is common for children in out of home placement to never recover from the trauma of being placed outside of the home.

      Of course, those who provided Justina’s “treatment” at BCH and now at Wayside Youth and Family Support Network need not concern themselves with outcomes and how children fare in adulthood.

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  11. Wow, Nightmare, USA.

    I was astonished ten years ago after I came back from overseas to see SSRIs advertised during the Letterman broadcast. The Juggernaut is just picking up steam.

    They must have Dr. Phil in their pocket. The other day I heard him tell a guest something not to worry because there are “medications” that can help her.
    That got my attention like 220 volts! Say what!!!
    Oh no Dr. Phil, say you ain’t a shill.
    “Don’t worry, we got a custom lobotomy just for that! Tomorrow you’ll be just fine” …

    Then he mentioned the DSM and…it wasn’t good…

    I listened to Mr. Silver’s statement as difficult as it is to listen to it. One of the commenters said they harvested his son’s organs after his death.
    Nightmare, USA
    How about some New Nuremberg trials?

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  12. Mr. C., can u get more of the medical details on Justine’s case? Why do the Tufts people say mitochondrial disease and Boston not? Has the family released the results of the aminoacid, organib acid, lactate and pyruvate tests? Was she fasted for the tests? While a challenging disease, there are tests that support or weigh against the diagnosis.

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  13. /She already had a diagnosis from a real doctor (not the two idiots it took to start this mess who are actually part of the learning annex of harvard hospital) . What I can’t grasp is where they found grounds to make her a ward of the state. That means she’s been officially removed from her parents care.. Also, I have neveer heard of a psychiatric disorder that creates phantom sensations in the child’s belly but are caused by her parents. I would sue that hospital into the ground.

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