Despite Judge’s Instructions, Justina Pelletier Remains in State Custody


Despite a judge’s instructions that Massachusetts’ Department of Children and Families prepare a plan to return Justina Pelletier to her family’s custody and Tufts University’s medical care, the agency continues to fight against relinquishing control over the case.

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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 an important case because of the actions of the BCH Psychiatry Dept. and it’s justification for a shaky and subjective somatoform diagnosis. The Globe pointed out that there are other cases where there was loss of custody and also the threat of losing custody. Scrutiny is warranted.

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    The edema in the legs and the red lines on Justina’s body sound familiar and could possibly be due to effects of psych meds, which I have seen before. Whatever the cause, why is the judge stalling in the release of his decision? Is he giving the psych ward time to stabilize Justina’s deteriorating condition? Did the psychiatrists subject her to psychotropics and are they trying to wean her? What should be done for a judge who now appears to be catering to a rogue, lawless medical practice? Has the same judge made a number of rulings which have been defied by the hospital? If so, shouldn’t he require new psychiatrists, chosen with input from the Pelletiers, to oversee whatever needs to be done to safely transition Justina? The doctors who have created this mess should face severe penalties. If the judge won’t bring about decisive action, I would like to see him impeached. I hope the judge will seek and receive some legal counsel of his options to expedite this matter as quickly as possible. I am appalled by the lack of action by the governor, or is he working behind the scene? I would throw them all out. This looks like a revolt against the constitutional rights of citizens by the powers that be. If this isn’t a soft revolution, what is? Will Justina die? The hospital can never restore what they have stolen from this innocent family. How can I help? This comment is not intended to be a personal attack , but a discussion of choices and consequences of choices. This egregious violation of rights must be met with meaningful action. The American people should settle this by giving notice of civil and criminal charges. This is the time for civil disobedience, boycotts, whatever it takes to be taken seriously.
    Statesmen from around the country should denounce what has taken place in Bader 5.

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    • Dependent edema in a 15 year old is alarming and point to a number of medical issues just as the Pelletiers and Dr. Korson have claimed. I’m not sure what psych meds would specifically cause this but they surely wouldn’t help. According to Lou, Justina had some cardiac problems which included rapid heart rate.
      I agree that a thorough investigation is needed at BCH and DCF by neutral and objective persons, not the Mass. Dept. of Health. Maybe Robert Whitaker could get involved.
      The ultimate answer isn’t more medical and psychiatric personnel at DCF as the Globe alluded to. Psychiatry’s role in the foundation of any system should be suspect, especially with kids.
      I hope Justina is sent to Tufts today, and home tomorrow.

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