Hearing on H.R. 3717 (“Murphy Bill”) to Take Place Tomorrow


The House Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing tomorrow (Thursday, April 3, 2014) on the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” also known as the “Murphy Bill” after its sponsor, Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania. The hearing will be in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building at 10:30 a.m.

H.R. 3717, the the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013.” (House Committee on Energy & Commerce)
Hearing on “H.R. 3717, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” Subcommittee on Health (April 3, 2014) (House Committee on Energy & Commerce)

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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. Testimony of David Shern seems hopeful. Haven’t read it really carefully yet, and there’s a lot of stuff in there I’m not familiar with, but still… MIAers, please share your ideas, thoughts, feelings, plans regarding this legislation and the testimonies.

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    • I read all the testimonies, though very quickly. It looks like there’s Ms. Thompson of NAMI Westside LA, Ms. Zdanowicz of Treatment Advocacy Center, and forensic psychiatrist Mr. Welner all offering gushing support for the Murphy Bill; Ms. Jensen, identified as a patient, strongly opposing several parts of the bill; and Mr. Shern of Mental Health America, who does seem to be opposed to most if not all of the bill (as far as I can tell).

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  2. Cataract:
    I would like to wear my activist hat and tell you my thoughts about this legislation and how we should strategize for the future, but I’m still experiencing shell shock, anxiety and grief! How will the expansion of AOT affect my beautiful, young, artistic, adult daughter who is under civil commitment in a state psychiatric hospital?

    Can we count on the usual bureaucrats to fumble the implementation, overshoot, and under fund, as they do with most programs for mental health, or does this represent a powerful shift for treatment providers to act without impunity and commit without any checks or balances?

    My daughter is resisting being over medicated and trying to asset her rights, but in a lock up facility, its so hard. She is all alone without any legal representation and dozens of well intended staff members are prepared and trained to wrestle her to the ground and forcibly inject her, even if she so much as shouts to herself! They will say that she is upsetting others.

    I appreciate your comment about a positive testimony from a witness but can anyone in MIA give me some more substantive reasons why my daughter and I should sleep peacefully tonight after this amendment passed in ten minutes? Hope anyone? My daughter and I need more than well wishes and prayers although I wouldn’t turn those down. I need a reason to be optimistic today. PLEASE

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    • madmom – It’s so horrible that this is happening to you and your daughter. Murphy is presenting his bill as first and foremost helpful to families, but to me it just looks huge and vague – unimplementable overshoot exactly. Are you able to visit your daughter and speak to her providers? Medical POA over her might be helpful with advocating to her providers, if she were willing. I will offer you my prayers, if someone else is able to pull something more hopeful out of the Murphy bill please let us know.

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      • I also posted on another forum asking a mom how the Murphy bill would help her family. Her career was in the mental “health” system, she was strongly promoting the Murphy bill, and she had written (paraphrasing) that the bill guaranteed her daughter, who by choice hadn’t spoken to her in years, would have to accept treatment, accept her help and accept her family back into her life. She replied that the bill would not force her daughter to speak to her or accept her help, but it would force her daughter to adhere to a treatment plan. So… helping families. How again?

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  3. Psychiatry:

    “This person behaves/believes in things I don’t believe in or approve of, this person is diseased, I know how everything works and what is what, if you disagree with psychiatry or your ‘diagnosis’ you too are diseased and have no right to your own body, life, or beliefs. My way of life is the superior and correct one, yours is wrong and a mythical result of disease, I have a right to take control of your life, detain you, force drugs on you, and keep you locked up as long as I want”

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  4. I have just begun to go through the bill; pg. 17 comes to my attention: members of the committee-(c) in particular…will this be someone from the “madinamerica” community?
    (I shall continue to review the bill)

    Secondly, will this committee hearing be available on C-Span for live viewing? May be benefical…

    PS Whenever I see the 4 words; “and for other purposes”, in print as in the first line of this bill; and the grey area this leaves open ended, always makes me pay attention.

    Just a thought

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