The Blinding of Gloria X. in New Jersey State Hospital – Just Another Mental Patient


In the early hours of September 19 – about 3 AM, someone estimated – Gloria X. was awoken from her sleep at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, the New Jersey State hospital. Her new (about 3 weeks) roommate, Florence, whom she had trusted, was on top of her punching her in the eyes. Florence pounded her eyes over and over and over – taking out 50 years of rage on Gloria.

Why Gloria? No one knows. Or those who know ain’t talking. Was it because Gloria was white (most of the residents were people of color) or small or timid or because Gloria disturbed Florence with her complaints about her eyes? Gloria had diabetes and ironically was afraid of going blind. Gloria says she was afraid to scream because Florence told her she’d kill her if she did. Gloria, was probably paralyzed with fear – and also by heavy doses of anti-psychotics and other drugs.

But if Gloria did scream out of pain – which she very well might have done, involuntarily if not deliberately – no one heard her. No one was listening. For 3 hours no one came in to look. This was a breach of contract. Someone who worked in a dangerous place like Trenton Psychiatric told me that patients there were supposed to be checked every half hour. But Gloria’s social worker leaked to Jeff Levy, Gloria’s boyfriend of 17 years, that no one looked in until the morning. “It was the hospital’s fault,” she admitted furtively.

Certainly the agreement to “treat” her – an agreement decided for Gloria by the psychiatrist and the judge “en parens patriae” – to make her “better,” included the implicit assurance that the hospital would protect her from harm. On the day of the assault a psychiatrist who picked up the phone spontaneously confessed to Jeff on the phone. “Gloria doesn’t mind anyone’s else business, but they minded hers. She did not deserve this to happen to her. This never should have happened.”

Gloria had no idea when she was admitted into Trenton Psychiatric Hospital that she was entering the twilight zone — a place where anything could happen. In 2010 alone, Trenton Psychiatric had 26 patient-on-patient incidents with major injuries, while the other four  state hospitals in New Jersey had a combined total of eight.

It wasn’t her decision to go there. Her psychiatric group home sent her there because she had developed a phobia about taking showers. Why did this require being sent to a state psychiatric hospital instead of out-patient treatment? Gloria was told she would be given “intensive treatment” for her problems. Yet she should have been warned of the dangers – she was fragile, passive, and vulnerable.

I know from reading and experience that people like this assailant almost always have prior histories of violence. These patients become repeat offenders because “mental patients” have neither rights nor responsibilities – as Thomas Szasz said – and thus violent patients do not learn that they are responsible for their actions and will be held accountable for their crimes. The system unwittingly – but willfully – encourages repeated criminal offenses.

I knew about Gloria’s situation from Jeff, who has been calling me for counseling or emotional support off and on for 25 years (pro bono). He’s been on disability since he was 26. He’s a misfit, he says, and proud of it. But unlike Gloria he has always refused to take the drugs – the “medications” – and he always hated the mental health system. He saw what the drugs did to patients.  I told him that many studies showed  that the “anti-psychotics” such as clozapine and olanzapine were “major risk factors for diabetes mellitus.” Gloria was on clozapine, which probably caused her diabetes — yet no effort was made by  Gloria’s psychiatrists to wean her off this drug, or at least put her on a substitute.

In the 17 years since I first met Gloria she has never hurt, threatened or deliberately provoked anyone. But, according to Jeff, Gloria had been complaining that her eyes bothered her.  Was her assailant a violent person who was set off by Gloria’s complaints? Who knows what would prompt her to commit such an unimaginably heinous act?

The lion’s share of accountability in Gloria’s case lies with the hospital which has assumed the task of “caring” for patients. If not for Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, Gloria never would have been brought into contact with this walking time bomb. In Gloria’s case it was against her will that she was at Trenton – she never asked to be sent there. She wanted to return to her group residence. It was the judge who – upon the urging of the hospital psychiatrist – ruled that Gloria was “too sick” to return to her group residence and needed to stay in Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.

“Why?” I asked her social worker. Because Gloria was too sick, she said, to care for herself; she had become incommunicative. That was absurd. Gloria lived in a group home. It’s true she was taciturn but when did verbosity become a requirement to avoid hospitalization? She went before a judge. He deferred to the hospital psychiatrist, and they got to keep Gloria for another 6 weeks – and to collect her Medicaid/Medicare insurance. I think the financial incentive was really why Gloria was kept in a state mental hospital.

Since I knew someone who tripped on a pothole in 1990 and slightly injured her foot and successfully sued NYC for $100,000 I thought getting Gloria a few million dollars would not be that difficult, once I found an intelligent lawyer who wanted to make money. No amount of monetary compensation can make up for the loss of Gloria’s vision, of course. But at least the money – if Gloria as an SSD – SSI recipient could keep it in some kind of account, or if it was enough to provide an income – would allow Gloria to find a better group home (one for the blind), or live in an apartment with home service and to enable her to buy a service dog. In other words it would give Gloria access to the kind of amenities available to well-off blind persons. The State owes Gloria that much.

Ironically, the horrendous accident could then become a stepping stone to getting Gloria out of the mental health system, although she is still addicted to psychiatric drugs.  Further, Trenton Psychiatric Hospital took away Gloria’s vision and there should be criminal charges filed against individuals within that hospital for failing to ensure Gloria’s safety.

Gloria was, in effect kidnapped by the hospital and kept there for over 6 months – ostensibly because she was insufficiently communicative to cope with the real world – until she was assaulted due to the State’s negligence, or in other words due to Trenton Psychiatric Hospital’s “depraved indifference” (to use the legal term) to the life of a “mental patient.” Will no one be held accountable?

Two days after Gloria was assaulted, and two days after she was flown by helicopter to the Cooper Hospital trauma unit, she pulled the bandage off her left eye and felt around – and suddenly the realization hit her. Jeff called me on his cell phone so I could  experience Gloria’s terror and pathos. He did not say anything; I heard a woman screaming and crying in terror in a high pitched voice, “My eye. Oh my God. My eyes. My eyes. My eye is gone. I want my eye back.” And later, “Mommy. Mommy. I want my Mommy!” Her mother had died in 2009.

Gloria was not “delusional” before the assault. They have driven her into a state – hopefully temporary – of “psychosis.” I got to hear Gloria crying in terror last week also — this time Jeff played what he recorded on his cell phone. “I’m blind! I’m blind! I’m blind!! I want my eyes back.” It broke my heart. So for the past 2 weeks I’ve been living Jeff’s nightmare with him. Not with Gloria – she is alone in a foreign universe of darkness. How can she “adjust” to something that never ought to have happened, that would never have happened if Gloria had not been removed from her psychiatric group home, and placed in Trenton State Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey?

The mental system she trusted failed her. The state failed her. Her brother, who hasn’t talked to her since her mother died in 2009, failed her. Although Gloria has always been sweet-tempered, her brother living in middle class suburbia did not want anything to do with a mental patient.  When Gloria first got to Trenton  she used to call: ”Jimmy! Jimmy!” (They were close as children.) But although he knew she had been blinded he never once called her. Only Jeff stood by her side.

At first I naively assumed that the blinding would make front page news in New Jersey. But I was soon disabused of that notion. It also became obvious to me that there would be no genuine criminal investigation. The state hospitals had their own police force whose purpose was to cover up for the hospital. I called the police to confirm that the incident was reported, and the officer assured me that a “thorough investigation” was being conducted. But no police officer has even bothered to interview Gloria about the assault to this day — three weeks after the assault.

What kind of “thorough investigator” does not interview the victim? Although I left dramatic accounts with a dozen New Jersey newspapers that a patient in their state hospital had been blinded – only James McEvoy of the Trenton Times showed any interest in doing a story. Was it because the life of a mental patient did not matter, or because New Jersey jouralists did not want to publicly air their state’s dirty laundry?

I called lawyer after lawyer. Most told me curtly the case was too difficult. In New Jersey, in a state mental hospital, several lawyers told me, it is not sufficient to prove the hospital was negligent. I spoke to one lawyer, Abbot Brown, who said that when he read my FB account – which I sent him – he gasped out loud. “This should not happen to anyone.” He has a social conscience. He spent a day thinking about it and then wrote me that he had instructed his partner, who specialized in personal injury law, to “begin the representation of Gloria and investigation.”

But the partner was more wary – the obstacles too great. Negligence does not mean liability in these cases, he said. “What?” I said; “The hospital has no liability?” “No, it’s not that there is no liability” he responded. “What constitutes liability then?” I asked. He responded that if they were “willfully negligent” they would be liable. Willfully negligent? The hospital has to have wanted Gloria to be assaulted? That is ludicrous. It did not happen because they wanted it. It happened because they did not care, because she belongs to that lesser breed of sub-human creatures: mental patients, “schizophrenics,” “bipolars.”

One lawyer bluntly told me that: He said that most juries would consider the quality of life Gloria would have living in a psychiatric institution for the rest of her life so low had she not been blinded that losing her  eyesight would not make much of a difference! It just goes to show that mental patients are considered inferior beings. Gloria valued her sight as much as anyone, and although the halfway house she lived in left a lot to be desired — blame that also on the State of New Jersey — Gloria cherished her sight

What right does any person have to say Gloria’s eyesight is of less value than that of any “normal” human being?  This is the kind of reasoning that justified the “euthanasia” of the “mentally ill” by German psychiatrists before the  holocaust. Or of the  Tuskegee experiment in which young black men were allowed by doctors  to die from syphilis, instead of being cured with penicillin. (See).    The rationale is their lives were of less value.

But New York patients’ rights lawyer Dennis Feld told me that despite the obstacles, these kind of cases can be successfully prosecuted – even in New Jersey. I told some friends who were activists. They said the lawyers were wrong, The lawyers just did not want to gamble on a difficult case.  It was up to the lawyer to overcome the jury’s prejudices. But personal injury lawyers don’t like to go to Court. And they are in the business for money — Not because they have hearts or believe in social justice.  So people like Gloria are out of luck.  Too bad she did not fall into a pothole. For that there is a solution.  But not for negligence leading to blindness — not for a mere mental patient.

Apparently the hospital is allowed to force a patient to stay there, involuntarily subjecting the patient to great risks, certainly greater than forgoing “treatment” – and the patient must bear total responsibility for those risks even though she had no choice and would have returned home rather than sign a waiver if she could — If she had been told that she was in a room with a person with a history of violence, and especially if she was told she risked being beat up, risked being blinded.   The hospital should not have put a potentially violent patient in the room with Gloria – intentionally (willingly) or not. The hospital should have known.

Gloria’s left eye — smoldering with infection — was removed on Oct 8 to keep the infection from spreading to the brain. A question that Gloria’s boyfriend keeps asking is: Is there any hope that Gloria will recover partial vision in the right eye?  Finally he was told by the ophthalmologists at Cooper Hospital. Two of them said the same thing: The chances were very low (one said 10%) that she would have some slight vision in her right eye — shadows, maybe. But what about another opinion? I said to one lawyer, “It is the hospital’s responsibility to see that Gloria receives the best treatment in order to salvage some vision.” He corrected me: “The hospital’s only legal responsibility is to see that Gloria sees a competent ophthalmologist. They are not legally obligated to do everything possible to salvage some sight.”

Gloria  was kept in the state mental hospital for over 6 months.  As there had been no improvement, why not let her go back to her group home?  Gloria’s “presenting problem” had greatly improved. She was taking showers. Other than that I maintain that the longer she stayed the worse she got – she vegetated there. I wanted to contact the MHLS attorney on Gloria’s behalf to get her out sooner. (In NY I have often persuaded them to more aggressively represent their clients.) The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that patients’ constitutional right to freedom be respected and that they be placed in the “least restrictive” environment necessary. The hospital violated Gloria’s right to freedom and prevented her from going back to her group home. Why? Because she was reticent!  Cui bono? (Who benefits?) Not Gloria. Not the blind lady.

Trenton Psychiatric Hospital has not officially released her. So they send two workers to sit with her every day. That has its advantages. When Gloria wakes up it’s not just to silent blackness. She hears their voices. But what is their  agenda?  They told Jeff  that after rehabilitation they want to take her back to another unit in Trenton – back in the State mental hospital. So, will Gloria be placed back in a state mental hospital again, the same place that destroyed her – soon to be forgotten?

Jeff wanted her near him, sighted or blind – in Brooklyn. Not a 6 hour round trip away. If they send her back to Trenton she’ll be inaccessible to Jeff.  He’d only see her under watch of the guard for an hour or so. They won’t be able to go anywhere alone together. Blinded, she won’t see him at all. In a mental health facility, without Jeff’s daily attention, Gloria would likely lose her will to live. She would die of a broken heart — Like so many others destroyed by the “mental health” system. They already blinded her – are they determined to kill her too? She’s just another indigent mental patient.

They can never make up for what they owe her but they can put her in a safe residence near Jeff, where she is part of the Brooklyn community – not a state mental hospital or a  sleazy residence for the blind “mentally ill.” They could buy her a seeing-eye dog. Gloria and Jeff could go on walks together. Those dogs do miracles, technically and psychologically. Jeff calls Gloria continuously now, and visits her once a week – all he can afford since it’s a 3-hour trip each way to Cooper Hospital.

Two imperfect people, Gloria and Jeff, found something to live for in each other.  The loveless state hospital in Trenton has taken Gloria’s insurance money, they’ve taken her sight, they taken her health – and now they want to take away her right to love. Jeff knows she is his “better half,” and he’s knows how precarious her situation is, so he’s hanging on – he’s fighting for her love and life.  Blind or sighted Jeff wants Gloria to be with him in the world. Every phone conversation Jeff tells Gloria he loves her and she repeats the sentiment back to him. The few conversations I’ve had with her before her accident but after her hospitalization ended with Gloria asking me to tell Jeff to call her. She told the representative from Disability Rights that she would like to live in a group home near Jeff in Brooklyn. When Jeff was not feeling well enough to visit Gloria in the hospital a few weeks ago she told him she was disappointed. Every now and then an ominous image arises in my mind: I can see Jeff at her funeral. A single figure, crying for Gloria and for all the dreams that are buried with her.He’d never get over it.

Don’t let the “mental health” system do that to Gloria.  She is a simple good natured person who never harmed anyone.. Demand compensation. Demand Trenton release her. Demand she have the right to live with or near Jeff in Brooklyn. Demand she be given a seeing-eye dog. These are little things compared to the big things they’ve taken from her. But they are what make life worth living. This is what she wants. It’s the least she deserves, the least they owe her.

Help save Gloria

Call Jeff Levy at 718 338-3234

Seth Farber, Ph.D.  [email protected]


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


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  1. Thank you for this moving article, Seth. The real reason for this horror, as you have pointed out, is the depraved indifference to human life of the people who run these institutions.

    I think bringing atrocities like this to the attention of the general public may help our movement more than any amount of theorizing.

    I don’t consider myself anti-psychiatry because of any abstract idea about how things should be done. Psychiatry is an evil institution because at bottom the attack on Gloria is basically what they stand for.

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    • Ted, Yes and the other social institutions show the same indifference.
      There may be no recourse for Gloria–as extreme as her situation is. Dennis Feld tells me he’s won cases like this. But it seems the lawyers in NJ are all mercenaries. And they don’t want to gamble on a case they might lose, a case that would require expert witnesses. Although a good lawyer could win and make money as well as doing a good deed it would be a gamble—for a number of reasons.The two main reasons are Gloria is a mental patient, and a state hospital has limited sovereign immunity.
      That would require a lawyer with a social conscience—and I don’t know if they exist in Jersey. Which means the hospital could be guilty of criminal negligence but since Gloria can’t afford to pay a lawyer she remain at mercy of Trenton Hospital in whose custody she still is. She is in rehab now but always accompanied by an orderly from Trenton.

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  2. I’ve always had this dread of having my worst nightmare come true in a hospital. It happens. Now we have an example. Here a women is blinded, and you’ve got people trying to suggest that the hospital wasn’t responsible for HER HEALTH. Why not? Because this hospital was not a real hospital, it was a mental hospital. The pretense can’t come down even when the pretense comes down. Thank you, Seth, for putting this story out there in the public eye where it needs to be. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen, and it definitely shouldn’t be swept under the rug when it does. That’s not good for anybody.

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    • Frank
      You know if I did not know Jeff, and thus Gloria and I saw this story I’d read it–and then try to put it out of my mind. Like you say it;’s a nightmare. But since Gloria has no one else, I feel responsible to try to get justice for Gloria. WEll it’s too late for justice but something.

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  3. Seth,

    Once, not quite twenty years ago, I bought a bed — thinking I was ready to sleep in a bed.

    But, I wasn’t. I couldn’t.

    And, ever since then (which is to say, in the more than one full quarter-century that has passed, since the last time I was involuntarily “hospitalized” by a psychiatrist), I have rarely ever slept in a bed — only, at best, on foam mattresses that have been laid on the floor.

    Most often (like now), I have not even slept on foam mattresses, because they can seem too much like a bed.

    Beds, to me, are not an invitation to sleep…

    That is because of my unforgettable experiences of being strapped into beds and forcibly drugged in beds, in various “hospitals” were so horrifying.

    In fact, my first night of “hospital” experience was spent strapped down on a bed, in isolation, forcibly drugged, and my second night, I was placed in a large room with roughly a dozen beds. I couldn’t sleep that night — because the environment was so strange, so foreign and unfriendly.

    All the other men were sleeping, except one, who somehow realized I was awake.

    He got off his bed, walked slowly over to mine, stood over me, and stared at me — and finally explained to me that he was being “hospitalized” for a “homicidal psychosis.”

    (Of course, I was terrified by him, and I’m sure that it was his intention to scare me…)

    To be perfectly honest: rarely do I sleep well…

    Like now, I am sitting on my ‘bedroom’ floor, at a few minutes past 2:00 a.m. and am speechless, as this is a blog post that you’ve written is unlike any other.

    I am wide awake — not sleeping, considering what I’ve just read…

    But, thank you. As tragic as Gloria’s story is, you have shown us the dignity of her life.

    I am praying that she will soon be living with Jeff.

    Thank you for sharing with us her humanity and Jeff’s — and yours.



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    • So sorry to hear about your horrific experience in a bed in a hospital…why do we think hospitals are “safe?”….something I have often heard in the mainstream mental health system. Thank you for sharing…your story is also very powerful and we will all benefit by knowing the truth about psychiatric hospitals.

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  4. Thank you Seth for sharing this important moving story, for speaking out for the rights of Gloria and Jeff, all people with mental health issues and ultimately all vulnerable oppressed people in society.

    Your observations about the lack of respect society has for “the mentally ill” and the absolute lack of rights people have, are completely true. This is such an important, but much neglected, area of human rights development.

    It is heartwarming to see that you care, but I believe that you cannot be the only person out there who does. There must be others – lawyers, doctors and mental health professionals, human rights activists/organisations, politicians even, people in authority, who would wish to do something to address this particular injustice. It is wonderful that you are speaking out and publicising this issue and it is my hope and prayer that through this, Gloria will be able to get the help she needs. How about starting a petition for her? Would that also help?

    It would be wonderful if we could establish a movement to address and remedy such injustices. It would be wonderful if people, professionals and leaders with a social conscience could network and work together to fight for the rights of the vulnerable!

    Please keep us updated about progress and developments with Gloria and let us know what we might be able to do to help. God bless you Seth!

    “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members – the last, the least, the littlest.”

    “The test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.”

    “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

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    • “There must be others – lawyers, doctors and mental health professionals, human rights activists/organisations, politicians even, people in authority, who would wish to do something to address this particular injustice.” Yes but I’m wondering if they exist in NJ.
      IT is such a right-wing state–exemplified by their fat Governor… But my goal of writing this article and going on radio (besides educating on how f-ed up the mental health system and society) is to get Gloria a lawyer.
      Now that she’s blinded she doesn’t qualify to go back to halfway house. If we don’t get her a lawyer she may very well end up back in the state mental hospital. She should not been in group home either but…
      Someone (Julie) started a FB page–Hope for Gloria.

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  5. Good morning. Thanks so much, Seth, for bringing this story to light.

    I would suggest that anyone who has Twitter tweet this, please. We do have a Facebook page and corresponding WordPress site. Look up We are up to 69 “likes.”

    I tried starting a petition. I chose causes dot com. I put up the site but due to login issues and some sort of glitch on their part, I lost about three hours of work. I will get back to it and redo it ASAP.

    I first saw it posted on Facebook and immediately knew I needed to get involved. I was in a hospital at the time being treated for kidney issues (not psych) when I heard the news. a couple of weeks ago. There were many reasons why I was determined to do something, even with an IV stuck into my arm. First of all, I dated a man whom I’d met in the smoking room of psych ward in 1986. You bet, the psychs said not to do this. They assumed our relationship was shallow and that mental patients aren’t capable of deep love. Boy were they wrong. Joe and I were together 17-1/2 years till the day of his death from a heart attack. We stuck together no matter what. We advocated for each other and defied the shrinks. My boyfriend tried to get the psychs to stop my shock treatments, explaining that these “treatments” were making me worse. When he was in a halfway house and they tried to put him in a nursing home, I put my foot down. We gathered our forces together, enlisted the help of a nonpatient who had clout, and he ended up living as a free person in his own apartment.

    After his death, this tragedy was barely acknowledged even by my own providers. My beloved dog died six weeks later. This was worthy of a few sentences on their part. They said I couldn’t possibly be grieving, because Joe and I weren’t legally married. After all, they claimed, I’m not capable of complex emotion or abstract thought. I needed tons of treatment, they said. “And why are you so sad? It’s a permanent brain disease and we are the only ones who can solve it. Love and compassion are not really necessary cuz mental patients don’t have mental capacity like real people.”

    In Joe’s name, I defied all that. My next book, which I completed as my master’s thesis six years after Joe’s death, was dedicated to his memory, and it’s published. At the time that I wrote it, his death was too fresh in my mind, so I didn’t put anything about him into the book. I don’t regret this. There is plenty of time to write more, as I am doing at this moment. I’m alive to tell this, which to me, is amazing.

    I made up my mind in 2012 that I would do anything I could to end psychiatric abuse. I developed the motto, “Never, ever shut up.”

    Again, please tweet this story. Twitter gets action fast. b

    Hasta Luego, Julie Greene and her little dog, Puzzle

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    • That the so-called mentally ill are incapable of intimacy was a dogma of the version of the medical model taught when I was in grad school–psychoanalysis. Those who fit into that category were a wide swathe, not only “schizophrenics” but all the personality disorders. For example borderline, narcissistic personality disorder etc. These people according the psychoanalytic narrative were injured in their early “oral” phase of life. Therefore they could never love. They were frozen in a schizoid state. R D Laing first book–The Divifrf took this awful position–a position Laing soon strongly repudiated (although not necessarily the “Laingians.”
      Besides Laing and Szasz and a few mavericks the first school to reject this perspective were the original family therapists, people like Jay Haley, Carl Whitaker, Savador Minuchin. The did not believe pathology was inside an individual. In fact the identified patient was often the most aware.

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  6. I feel both sadness and anger about this Seth.

    Sadness at Gloria’s loss of sight quite possibly as a result of the negligence of hospital staff.

    Anger about the “willful blindness” of the community who turn their backs on her as a result of the labeling, stigma and ostracizing of those deemed ‘mentally ill’.

    Thank you for ensuring that this has not escaped any attention.


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  7. Thank you so much for bringing Gloria’s experience to the public. I can relate. I experienced inpatient hospitalization a few months ago. While I had been hospitalized many times previously for my persistent mental illness, I was hospitalized this time because I had been prescribed two contraindicated medications, and unbeknownst to me, I was in the middle of an overdose. Immediately upon entering the institution, the psychiatrist assigned to me increased the dosage of the medication I was already overdosed on. I gave a complete medication list upon admittance and no one noted the contraindicated drugs. Over the course of 5 days, the dose was raised from 25mg to 150mg. I subsequently developed severe tardive dyskinesia and have severe difficulties with speech. Some days I cannot speak at all. At other times, I can speak but I am very difficult to understand. I also have difficulty controlling my eye movements and “look crazy” because of the way I cannot hold eye contact. The eye movements cause pain also. Of course no attorney will take action against the psychiatrist who poisoned me. I even went to a neurologist in the same health system and he wrote a summation acknowledging my injury was a direct cause of the toxic level of meds prescribed to me but disclaimed any responsibility by the prescribing physician. It hurts to be injured so badly and then just dismissed. It’s like being told, “Well, if you hadn’t been nuts, you wouldn’t have been hurt”. I’ve had people pretty much say that. I am an intelligent, educated woman who just happens to have PTSD and depression. Now I can barely talk. Thank you for speaking for people like Gloria and I.

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  8. This is horrific, and to say it makes me angry is an understatement. But I’m not a bit surprised. I’ve experienced something very similar, although not quite as egregious, here in New York State.

    I used to live across the river from Trenton. As you crossed over the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey (Route 1), when looking to the left there was another bridge with the lit slogan, “Trenton Makes, the World Takes”.

    If it’s still there, perhaps they should change it to “Trenton Abuses, the State Excuses”.

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  9. I’m not surprised you found it challenging to find a reporter who is willing to go outside the mental health comfort zone which largely is limited to anti-stigma activities, celebrations, walks, new initiatives, positive first and second person narratives, favorable and cursory reporting on prevention and treatment which eschews consideration of the nature, timing, extent or the effectiveness of the treatments or the services available. Afterall, New Jersey claims itself to be in the forefront of Wellness, Recovery, Community Integration, etc.

    I hope you find some consolation in knowing that your success in getting a reporter to cover Gloria X should be considered a triumph. I believe only two reporters regularly cover significant issues in New Jersey’s mental health system, Sue Livio of the Star-Ledger and Maiken Scott of WHYY. Trenton has largely had a free ride since a copy editor titled an article about a fire at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital “Roasted Nuts.” There was much coverage about the article’s title but nothing about the long standing problems at Trenton. (It is telling that any mention of Trenton is usually in connection with its founding by Dorothea Dix. Never is the “work” of Dr. Henry Cotton cited.) Trenton has long been known as New Jersey’s most violent IMD when it comes to patient on patient assaults with major injury, i.e. an injury which requires hospitalization.

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    • Hi Jeff,

      I just wanted to point out the the assault issue at Trenton precedes 2010. Didn’t see mention of Cotton.

      Sadly, Gloria X like so many at NJ’s state psychiatric hospitals may come to face a persistent problem which was have been addressed by NJ’s 2009 Olmstead settlement, i.e. timely placement of individuals on Conditional Extension Pending Placement status. It appears that NJ has long failed to meet the 4 month placement metric once an individual is placed on CEPP status. There was plenty of press coverage on the settlement …. no coverage on the state’s failure to realize that which was promised.

      Gloria X deserved so much better. Afterall, NJ promised as much system wide in February 2006, “To this end, it is the Division’s [DMHS] policy to ensured that consumers and families receive a system of recovery-oriented services and resources that promote wellness, an improved quality of life and true community inclusion.” Since her placement at Trenton she has experienced only the antithesis of this at an institution directly operated by the very agency which made the representation.


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  10. Hi Joe,
    Jeff doesn’t have access to a computer, nor the discipline to read all this. I wrote the article.
    I am Seth Farber, a dissident psychologist. (See above)
    Probably the editor removed my reference to Cotton after I submitted article. I am well aware of what Cotton did.
    What you say is exactly right: Gloria received the opposite of what was promised. And now we can’t even get her a lawyer.
    I do not know what you mean in the 2nd paragraph You describe “Conditional Extension Pending Placement status.” They kept Gloria in a state mental hospital for over 4 months–over 6 months. I thought they should have returned her to her group home0–she was not dangerous. Are you saying they were under an obligation to do so?. The judge authorized psychiatrists’ insistence that she needed more treatment. Gloria would not let me talk to her MHLSK lawyer because she trusted the system.
    If you want to talk to Jeff he’d be pleased to get any support., He’s at 718-338-3234
    Seth Farber, PhD

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    • Have you tried the Philadelphia media? Trenton is kind of a suburb of Philly and your story might get more play in that region.

      Thanks for taking up for her. This is disgusting. I only wish it were more shocking than it was. Can you let us know if there is someone we can contact to encourage a reporter to run a story, or an attorney to take up the case?

      —- Steve

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      • Sure thanks you could send this to any reporter in Philadelphia, or I’ll send it. (It contains link to TRenton Times). I’ll talk to anyone (212 560-7288)The lawyer problem is difficult because Gloria is incoherent now., They’ve driven her crazy. And she doesn’t want to sue. It would take a canny lawyer. Disability Rights says they think they have a lawyer. I’m told a D.R. lawyer would not go for blood–she’d mediate between government and Gloria. So it would take a smart lawyer to understand Gloria’s ambivalence.
        [email protected]

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        • I haven’t lived in Philly for a long time, and don’t have any media connections, but it just seemed to me that they’d be more likely to grab at this kind of a story. But there does seem to be weird resistance to airing this stuff publicly. Perhaps the papers don’t want to “bite the hand that feeds them” and offend the pharmaceutical industry?

          —- Steve

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    • Oops, I meant to write “Hi Seth” yet typed “Hi Jeff.”

      CEPP is covered here,, and the 2009 settlement is to be found here, In FY 2014 NJ was to have placed 95% of individuals within four months of being placed on CEPP status. I wouldn’t know if Gloria is on CEPP status.

      I wish I knew the duration a group home is required to hold a bed. Curious … what did NJ mental health advocacy organizations and individuals who hold themselves out as advocates have to to say or offer to do with respect to Gloria’s plight?

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  11. Joe, I don’t know the details but skimming those reports I get the feeling that had Gloria been more cooperative I might very well have been able to get Gloria out of there by talking to MHLS attorney which I offered to do– but she did not want me to intervene because she trusted the system, and did not want me to alienate them. It’s hard to say. Gloria lived in a group home. After the assault Jeff found out they kept her room (the brother sent her disability money over there each month–even though he had stopped talking to Gloria) for 5 months.. I don’t know if Gloria was on CEPP but the group home held on to her room for 5 months. Maybe they expected Gloria to be released in 6 months–but when they did not hear from Trenton they gave away her room. The shrinks at Trenton and the judge kept Gloria at Trenton going on 7 months. WE expected her to be released in June then in August but each time the hospital said Gloria was “too sick” to function—in a group home!!. I think it was all about money. he MHLS lawyer probably said nothing—but no one was looking over him. Would that have made a difference? So it sounds like they were violating the spirit of those agreements. They should have let her go back to group home but Trenton said she wasn’t “communicating.” She WAS taking showers. She kept to herself, talked to Jeff 5 times a day, and patiently waited for the authorities to decide her fate. Like a little lamb led to the slaughter…. I don’t know what to make of it.

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  12. Hi folks, anyone reading this please note we are having a mass call-in tomorrow, Monday, October 27, 9 to 5 New York time (-4:00 daylight savings). Please call these two numbers:
    609-292-6000, and 609 292-9742. The first is Gov Christie and the second is the state’s Disability Rights organization. We demand action now! Also refer to the FB page,, and the site, which contains on the sidebar numbers you can call in the state legislature. I have opened a Twitter account, Hope for Gloria (located in NJ even though I myself am not) and am trying to get as many people on board with this as possible so we can have a mass effort tomorrow! Again, the numbers are 609-292-6000, and 609 292-9742. Monday!

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  13. I can answer that here. Gloria has not seen an ophthalmologist who has training in restoring vision to remaining eye. Disability Rights said they would use their power to make sure Gloria was taken to a master eye surgeon\ophthalmologist.
    On this past Saturday Gloria woke up and could see!! That proved the previous eye surgeon was wrong. Her sight only lasted 10 hours/. But it is all the more reason to demand Gloria be taken to a top ophthalmologist in NJ/NY! CALL DISABILITY RIGHTS AND DEMAND THEY USE THEIR POWER SO GLORIA CAN SEE AN OPHTHALMOOGIST.
    AS for Christie, Trenton is threatening to take Gloria back there. Gloria wants to be in a group residence near Jeff–in Brooklyn or Manhattan, hopefully for visually impaired not the mental death system
    Trenton Psych is 1) dangerous and 2) It is a place for warehousing
    the “mentally ill” jut like in the 50s and 40s and before . Gloria deserves better.
    More details on Julie’s page.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

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  14. Thank you for sharing this story. I have a friend in TPH right now who is being drugged with Thorazine at twice the normal dose to “control” her hallucinations. She can barely walk or sit without falling over. She is at most times inaudible. When I went to see her last week, she had a HUGE bruise on her chin. She said she fell over. She told me she fell 7 times, and directed my hand to her head, where there was a bump. How did she fall onto the top of her head? I sent her sister (who lives out of state) a long email and she called the hospital – the nurse only listened and made no comments. She attempted to call her doctor to have the dosage lowered, but the phone rings and rings and rings. She plans to file a formal complaint. I will try to sneak my cell phone in tonight and take a picture of her bruises. It’s her birthday but she doesn’t know it. Is there anything else we can do??

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