May the ‘Force’ NEVER EVER Be With You! The Case for Abolition


A growing body of evidence indicates that forced “treatment” in today’s mental health system, including all forms of forced hospitalization and forced drugging, may actually cause FAR more harm than good. Recent published studies and articles (1)(2)(3)(4) point towards evidence of physical and psychological harm that, in some cases, may contribute to more suicidality and patient deaths, as well as overall worse outcomes in a person’s state of recovery. This is aside from the somewhat separate (but yet intimately connected) civil and human rights violations involved in taking away someone’s freedom for merely having different thoughts and behaviors that never actually break any laws.

When all this evidence is combined with the growing number of powerful narratives by psychiatric survivors articulating horrific stories of the damage caused by the use of ‘force,’ (including many who write here at MIA), the only conclusion that makes any moral and political sense is one of TOTAL ABOLITION. That is, all forms of force in the mental health system must be CATEGORICALLY opposed without ANY exceptions for so-called special and/or extreme circumstances.

Some mental health reformers and partial critics of the current system would counter that this is an “extremist position”; a position that does not take into consideration certain special, or rare, life and death circumstances that require ‘force’ to save lives. And that maintaining such an “extreme” position will only lead to isolating articulate critics of the system and harm any movement for change.

Nothing could be further from the truth! I would say to those who defend the use of ‘force’, including those system critics who advocate for its use in only very rare and so-called extreme circumstances: It is you who are holding on to a truly extremist position, and it is your ambivalence and lack of decisiveness on this dividing line question that is giving up important political and moral ground to the leaders of this oppressive mental health system, thus actually slowing down the struggle for its ultimate and necessary demise.

This dangerous lack of clarity on such a vital issue makes it easier for the leaders of Biological Psychiatry to justify ‘force’ by using certain system “reformers” as a “more reasonable” wedge against the more revolutionary activists in our movement; those who advocate for a complete dismantling of the current mental health system. This allows the perpetrators and defenders of psychiatric abuse to promote themselves as the TRUE guardians of order and safety, in what they would portray as an increasingly more dangerous life and times in our communities and in the country as a whole. This fear mongering and demonizing of people labelled as “mentally ill” must be firmly opposed on all levels, even in its more subtle and reformist forms. In the final analysis, it is this kind of half-baked reformism on such a key dividing line issue that only strengthens the status quo and weakens any serious movement for change.

Not that long ago I would have been one of those persons (still working in the system) who would have argued that there were some extreme circumstances where certain types of ‘force’ might be “reluctantly” necessary. However, over the past few years of carefully reading and analyzing survivor narratives and discussions at MIA, I have become more and more convinced that we all need to take a firm abolitionist stance on this question and fight for it publicly. Thanks to the following MIA discussion writers: Anonymous (here) and Jonah (here), Frank Blankenship and others, I am quite comfortable speaking out and advocating for NO FORCED “TREATMENT” WITHOUT EXCEPTION! Here is why:

One of the major pillars supporting any type of oppressive mental health system is its use of ‘force;’ specifically its use of forced “treatment” or hospitalization and forced drugging. The use of forced drugging usually follows ‘force’ in all its other manifestations. The standard justification for the use of force is when someone is declared “a danger to themselves or others.” This declaration may, in some cases, be decided by a judge in a court of law (usually at the recommendation of a family member supported by a psychologist or psychiatrist), or more simply (in a community mental health setting) by the mere signature from a psychiatrist’s pen after having a five minute discussion with a family member or a mental health care professional. Oh my, how easy it has become in America (even when no laws are broken) to completely ignore or throw away any semblance of a Constitution or Bill of Rights!

For those who call themselves “reluctant” supporters of the use of ‘force,’ many will admit that it can be a drastic form of stripping away someone’s freedom, which can often lead to a cascade of traumatizing events that may have no immediate end, and may lead a person into a maze of unknown consequences; consequences that could negatively affect that person for the rest of their life. HOWEVER, in the minds of all supporters of ‘force’ (reluctant or otherwise) these consequences are ALL justified as an alleged necessary means to ultimately “protect” individual lives and the public at large.

The “reluctant” supporters of ‘force’ will rationalize all sorts of exceptional circumstances where they believe there is no other choice but to take away someone’s freedom to “protect” themselves and others from harm. They will usually end their argument by stating that distressed people (especially those acting in a threatening manner), after all, are better off in the hands of the mental health system (with all it problems, including forced drugging) than in the hands of the cops or guards at a jail facility, which they say is the only other alternative provided by the system (more on this later).

Is it true that forced “treatment,” in certain limited instances, has actually HELPED some people in psychological distress or, in some cases, even SAVED some lives? Even the most ardent critics of the use of ‘force’ would have to objectively answer, a highly probable yes, to this question. HOWEVER, answering yes to this question does NOT mean, in any way, that force hospitalization or forced drugging should THEREFORE be supported. Here is why.

We can NEVER truly know for sure who could possibly be helped by the use of ‘force’ in the future, or somehow recreate the final outcome of those crisis scenarios in the past where “force’ might have been denied and another path taken. We have no way of reconstructing a new historical path for those past series of events to determine if another outcome (perhaps even a much better one) would have occurred if ‘force’ had been denied and never used.

But we DO have some growing evidence (references included) detailing that the use of “force” can be very harmful (even leading to possibly higher rates of suicide) and reams of personal testimony detailing the psychological and physical harm resulting from the various forms of forced “treatment.” Being physically restrained and tied to gurneys for hours and eventually mind raped (in the words of many survivors) with powerful neuroleptic drugs are only part of the many powerful stories of harm being done by the use of ‘force.’

There may be some former psychiatric patients who will say that they are glad they were forced into “treatment” or even forced to take mind altering drugs, because they believe they were dangerously close to harming themselves or others. But this deeply personal and subjective testimony as to some POTENTIALLY IMAGINED outcome is, after all, only hindsight. And there is no objective guarantee or way to scientifically analyze that it is anywhere close to being 20/20 hindsight, especially given that we have NO WAY of knowing what these individuals might have learned or done if left by themselves, or in someone else’s control (including the police or jailers) or if they eventually found alternative forms of care (family members, friends, or some other unknown options).

Let’s examine, head on, the most challenging argument that can be made by the proponents of the necessity for the use of ‘force’ in today’s mental health system. All supporters of ‘force’ (including the “reluctant” ones) would most certainly point to specific instances when family members, mental health workers, or law enforcement agents resisted taking decisive COERCIVE action when someone in extreme psychological distress implied or somehow directly threatened self-harm or violence, and then subsequently a death or severe injuries (to oneself or others) was the end result.

Yes, we know it is true that a small number of people in these extreme psychological states have killed themselves and others after they have given direct or even vague signals that impending violence might take place. It must be clearly stated that the vast majority of these types of threats are mainly gestures, only suggesting harm, and represent a dramatic or desperate call for help, and no violence ultimately occurs. But yes, in a tiny minority of these situations suicide and/or violence to others takes place and we must face this reality.

The essential questions we must ask in response to the justification for ‘force’ in the above mentioned scenarios are as follows:

How many of these suicides or violent acts were strongly influenced by the PRIOR use of ‘force’ and the resulting coercion (including those Mafia like “offers you can’t refuse”) especially to take (and/or remain on) powerful psychiatric drugs?

How many suicides and violent acts occur because distressed individuals FEAR that some type of ‘force’ is impending or will soon to be on its way into their life, and they can’t begin to bear the thought of being on the receiving end of that ‘force’ ever again? And here it must be noted that in these situations, if you are poor and/or a minority does it not exponentially increase the danger and likelihood that you could be beaten, shot, and/or killed by trigger happy law enforcement agents in these highly volatile circumstances.

Just by raising these questions the strong implication is being made that the prior use of ‘force’ and the fact that it often hangs precariously over people’s heads may, itself, act as a causal factor in incidents of self-harm and violence. And this becomes just one more reason why ‘force’ must be rejected without any exceptions.

As to those situations where family members, mental health workers, and law enforcement agents held back from using ‘force’ with resulting bad outcomes, we have NO WAY of knowing what the outcome would have been if some other less intrusive option or form of support was offered. And given that we now have increasing evidence that ‘force’ is causing FAR MORE short and long term HARM THAN GOOD, are we not, once again, morally and politically obligated to reject the use of ‘force’ without exception?

Yes, it is true that at this point in history we have very few well established (more humane) alternatives in the mental health system. There are sadly very few trauma informed crisis teams or respite homes that incorporate non coercive, non-drugging programs. IT IS MY CONTENTION THAT IF MORE PEOPLE TOOK A STRONG ABOLITIONIST STANCE AGAINST THE USE OF ‘FORCE,’ ESPECIALLY THOSE WORKING WITHIN THE SYSTEM WHO REFUSE TO BE INVOLVED IN ANY ACTS OF ‘FORCE,’ THE MORE PRESSURE THIS WOULD PLACE ON THE STATUS QUO TO PROVIDE MORE BENIGN ALTERNATIVES, INCLUDING INSIDE THE JAIL SYSTEM.

Obviously this involves taking some risks for those working within the mental health system, but there are some people who participate at MIA who can share some powerful experiences regarding going against the grain of hospital, clinic, or residential policies on similar questions of ‘force.’ People working within today’s mental health system must constantly be ready to challenge the status quo and take careful and calculated risks doing so. Without this kind of approach (that ideally includes outside support from other activists) it becomes so easy to find yourself on the oppressive “path of least resistance” that ends up reinforcing the status quo while ultimately causing one to lose track of their own moral compass.

This focused battle against all ‘force’ and coercion, by itself, will not lead to an overall systemic change in the mental health system, but it could become a key dividing line struggle that lays bare the true essence of today’s oppressive system, while rallying new allies, and saving more victims from the damaging effects of ‘force.’.

Another controversial issue concerning the use of ‘force’ involves the role of jails and the entire prison industrial complex. If we are more successful in building a movement that severely limits the use of ‘force’ in today’s mental health system, then jails (without other alternatives developed) will inevitably become a more frequent option used by the power structure. Mainstream psychiatry promotes its own “treatment” options (including those involving the use of ‘force’) as more humane than what is offered by today’s prison system. We know better.

Even when there are a few more conscious and humane people working inside those programs where ‘force’ is still used, very few of these people are in positions of power to maintain a consistently safe environment. And even where more humane practices exist today they tend to be fleeting and temporary, more often overruled by others or unable to be sustained for the long term. Drugging and other oppressive forms of social control are still the ultimate “standard of care” that dominates the entire mental health system.

As bad as jails are in this society (and they are horrible) they may actually represent “harm reduction” compared to what the mental health system has to offer. Even the more subtle forms of coercion and control exercised by Biological Psychiatry, that more often leads to long term drugging and learned helplessness, may in the end surpass the short term horrors of today’s jail system. OUR GOAL SHOULD NOT BE TRYING TO REFORM THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM TO BECOME MORE HUMANE SO THAT ‘FORCE’ CAN BECOME MORE ACCEPTABLE, BUT RATHER FIGHT AGAINST ALL FORMS OF ‘FORCE’ AS A MEANS TO CREATE THE CONDITIONS FOR A REVOLUTIONARY DISMANTLING OF THE ENTIRE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM!

So all of these arguments regarding the use of ‘force’ in the mental health system boil down to the following points:

  1. ‘Force’ causes FAR more harm than good.
  2. ‘Force’ violates every precept of human rights in a so-called free society.
  3. ‘Force’ inevitably leads to more sustained psychiatric drugging and its related iatrogenic damage to the mind and body.
  4. ‘Force’ leads to greater forms of social control using threats of future incarceration (in psych wards or jails) and coercive forms of monitoring within the community at large; this includes various levels of coercive psychiatric drugging.
  5. We have no way of proving where the use of ‘force’ will ever lead to positive outcomes, or where its lack of use has led to an increase in negative outcomes.
  6. We know for sure that force has caused great harm to some people, and ultimately fatal or permanent harm for far too many of its victims.

A principled and uncompromising stand for the abolition of all ‘force’ in today’s mental health system creates the most favorable conditions to challenge and educate people about the true nature of psychiatric oppression. It shines a spot light on everything that is wrong with the mental health system and the unjust and abusive power that psychiatry wields in today’s world. Such a stand unites with the highest aspirations of those people desiring true liberation and freedom from all human rights violations and forms of oppression.

To all those survivors of Biological Psychiatry and those at risk of falling into its clutches, AND to all those working inside the Beast yearning for radical change, MAY THE ‘FORCE’ NEVER EVER BE WITH YOU!


1. Bradshaw, Maria; Evidence That More Psychiatry Means More Suicide, Mad in America blog, Jan. 12, 2014.

2. Hjoerthoj, Carsten; Rygaard et al, Risk of suicide according to level of psychiatric treatment: a nationwide nested case-control study, Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. Sept. 2014, Vol. 49, Issue 9, pp 1357-1365.

3. Large, Matthew M. and Ryan, Christopher J., Disturbing findings about the risk of suicide and psychiatric hospitals, Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Sept. 2014 Vol. 49, Issue 9, pp 1353-1355.

4. Rajkumur, A., Brinda, E., Duba, A., Thangadurai, P., Jacob, K., National suicide rates and mental health indicators: An Ecological Study of 191 countries, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. Sept.-Dec. 2013 36(5-6), 339-342.








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.


  1. Richard,

    Great blog post (and thanks for the kind mention).

    It’s good to have allies — i.e., genuine defenders of justice — on the inside; you are one such person, and I feel fortunate to have ‘met’ you via the online discussions that are generated by this MIA website, it bloggers and commenters.

    I have only one matter to critique, of your post:

    Force may indeed sometimes be needed, to defend individuals (or, perhaps, to defend a number of individuals) who may be vulnerable to a particular person who proves to be threatening.

    But, what kind of force?

    I completely object to force that is designed to be in any way brain-disabling.

    Hence, of course, I object to forced use of neuroleptic drugs (so-called “antipsychotic medication”) and forced use of any other kind of psychotropic drug… and forced use of ECT… and use of tasers.

    In my opinion, there are always better ways of containing people who seem threatening.

    May all forced psychiatric ‘medical treatment’ (whether it’s by use of syringes filled with psych-drugs or it’s by machines delivering ECT — or, as it was in the past, by knives and picks designed for performing lobotomies) become a thing of the past (sooner rather than later).

    Behavioral interventions should never come by way of forced neuro-invasive procedures

    Simple as that.



    • I think that’s a different matter. If someone indeed is waving a knife and running at you you have a right to defend yourself or anyone who is standing nest to you. We all know that this is 0.000000001% (or something like that) of the psychiatric use of force. For them to go full blown bully it’s enough you tell them that you don’t want a physical exam performed on you (personal experience right here). Somehow people who are so “dangerous and aggressive” usually scream “don’t touch me” before being psychiatrically assaulted and raped.

      The real people who pose danger to self and others are psychiatrists and psych nurses who engage in human rights violations as a matter of course.

  2. I dealt with mentally and physically abusive forced treatment, according to all my medical records, because my PCP was paranoid of a malpractice suit, since her husband had been the “attending physician” at a “bad fix” on a broken bone.

    One more reason forced treatment should be abolished is because the doctors are abusing the power, for their own personal financial motives. The medical community is not ethical enough to deserve such power … “and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  3. Absolutely brilliant Richard.

    I’d not given a lot of thought to the damage that a reformist position has on the issue of real change. This article has driven that home for me.

    I sat at the ‘smoking table’ for 6 months with a lot of patients. If they have any insight into their ‘illness’ why does it nearly always seem to revolve around the damage that has been done to them by the use of force by mental health services? It dominates these discussions, and these are people who have other issues that could just as easily be raised.

    I know a psychiatrist who uses me as an example to his students as to the damage that can be done through the use of force when a person has no illness. Three years down the track, life totally decimated, and walks in front of a truck. And no end in sight. Glad I wasn’t ill when they decided to ‘help’ me.

    It has got to stop, and the only force I think that is justified at this point would be to put an end to this brutality that is causing more damage than they can repair.

    A recognition of the damage that is being done explains the revolving door and the crisis in the system perfectly.

    Thanks for speaking up Richard, it is badly needed.

    • Hey boans, thanks for your many excellent contributions here in MIA Land! I’m using this post to reply to your comments on the most recent article by Dr. Sandra Steingard, as for some reason there was no “reply” box on that one…so sorry for this “out of context” reply.

      Your comments about what happened to you in a recent emergency room in your locale resonated with me, for reasons I think you’ll understand if and when you read the article I’m going to give you the link to. Unfortunately, there was apparently a much “happier ending” to your fiasco than the one my daughter was subjected to.

      Anyway, here’s the link:

      • Thanks Russerford,

        it really is like walking in to quicksand.

        The remark you make in your first paragraph about how these people are for the most part acting in ‘good faith’ is true. It was also true of the guards at Auschwitz, I’m certain that they only did what was required of them by their State, and went home of an evening and had a wine with a wife who loved them and played with their children, inquired about a bit of overtime to buy a new car….

        The same is true of those working in this system, they are only doing what the State requires of them, and if that means beating a few of them up to get the job done easily then so be it. That’s where the terrorism comes into it.

        Sun Tzu did a demonstration that exemplifies this type of terrorism with the King of Wu and his concubines. The diffusion of responsibility in the hospital setting allows those who use these methods to make the job easy to walk away free of guilt. And the victim is subjected to a death of a thousand cuts. Before you know it you have a person who might have been a little stressed, in need of more help than they have to offer. Enter medication ….. the ‘quick’ fix for the damage they have done to begin with.

        I’m sure there are those within the system that are smart enough to see what is happening. But, time to get back to work, the line for the showers is slowing down…. Roust, roust.

        I hope you daughter is doing well now.


  4. Terrific blog post! What we actually need are more mental health professionals willing to take such a principled stand against non-consensual psychiatry. Reform goes back and forth. Some people would allow more freedom, some people less, but they both talk about reforming the mental health system. In Virginia they made the laws so much worse talking reform all the while. In Florida, citizens now lose their gun owning rights if they go into the hospital after being Baker Acted voluntarily or involuntarily, and this was done in the name of reform. People have been talking about dropping restraints since moral management when they did so, or pretended to do so, in Europe at the dawn of the nineteenth century. People are still being physically restrained, this is reform for you. Abolition, on the other hand, takes that loophole out of the law, in the law, referred to as mental health law. When all people are equal under the law, well, so it goes. You don’t need a separate section of law guaranteeing inequality.

    I know some people are fond of speaking of involuntary “hospitalization” as a “last resort”. This “last resort” is never a “last resort” in actually. Not so long as it is used. I have heard people, too, speak of “hospitalization” as a form of “suicide prevention”, but the problem is, many of our “suicide preventions” in the present day end up increasing the suicide rate in reality. This brings us to another question, should we be increasing the suicide rate in the name of suicide prevention? Certainly imprisoning people for attempting suicide is not driving the suicide rate down. Perhaps a person finds he or she has reasons for suicide. What we aren’t dealing with are the actual causes when we ourselves are causing the rates to rise. Maybe we should. I don’t think we need to violate human rights in order to reduce the suicide rate. Happiness and contentment, to my way of thinking, don’t lead to suicide, and this makes suicide a social rather than a biological issue.

    Totally in agreement with Boans, Richard. Thanks for speaking up.

  5. Thanks Richard for your piece. As I have been the prime person involved in this ongoing debate for the past year, I’ll try to respond. At the same time, I know a number of us have gone round and round on this issue and at some point it may just be better to refer to previous discussions.

    First off, I want to look at the term reformist…which you argue against. When I say I am reformist, that doesn’t mean I don’t think some aspects of psychiatry should be abolished.

    I believe that there should be a complete abolition of mandated treatment with any psychiatric drug. That is an untenable position and I wrote about that in this article here…

    I also support the abolition of ECT, even voluntary. While some people say they have been helped by it, the level of suffering that it has caused should require this procedure to be shelved…permanently.

    But the term anti-psychiatry, or abolitionist…is far too general and global for me. It implies a complete cessation of all aspects of psychiatry, which not only seems impossible, it doesn’t even seem desirable. There will always be people who seek out psychiatric drugs, even if it is in the tapering process. I don’t believe that should be abolished.

    What I do believe is that there should be far more available information about the perils of psychiatric drugs available to the consumer. There should be curbs on advertising, paying doctors to promote psych drugs. There should be impartial longitudinal studies of drugs that are not run by pharmaceutical companies. There should be a curb on prescribing psych drugs just as there have been curbs on opiates due to the potential for damage.

    Finally, I think instead of funding NIMH “silver bullet” genetic research, I think our tax payer monies would be far more wisely spent on increased services for the poor, homeless and disenfranchised through “Housing First”, respite centers, holistic alternatives, changing agriculture subsidies to promote fruits and vegetables, etc.

    Ok- so lets get to the meat of the matter- where we disagree…


    You say that you don’t support any force…whatsoever. Not even in rare or extreme cases.

    I really just can’t agree that that is a reasonable view. I think you are mainly talking about hospital situations but lets look at how violence or how the threat of violence is handled in society today.

    Generally, people who are acting in an uncompromisingly threatening and violent way are managed by police through the use of tasers, nightsticks, beanbag guns and handguns. There are police trained in how to work with people labeled “mentally ill” who are able to help deescalate folks without the use of force but often these types of incidences end in the use of one of the types of “tools” I just mentioned.

    If a person is deemed criminal, they end up in the prison system. Right now more than 350,000 people with “mental illness” are in the prison system. There are about 35,000 in state hospitals. We have shifted from hospitalizing the “mentally ill to jailing them. In the prison system, any sort of violence or threat of violence is met with brute and overwhelming force. For a brief overview of how these folks are treated…here is an article…

    At Rikers, 40 % of the 11,000 inmates are deemed “mentally ill.” Besides beatings and frequent injuries to “threatening inmates”, isolation is one of the main ways of using “force” to manage “illness.” Long term isolation is known to make people go increasingly “mad.”

    When working with the “mentally ill” population, overwhelming force by police, and in the prison system…is commonplace, and often brutal.

    OK- so lets shift to the hospital system. I think its key to first talk about how the hospital system has changed over the past few decades. 50 years ago there were over a half million hospital beds. Now there are about 50,000 while population has doubled. The long term hospital model has been dramatically reduced in favor of the prison system for managing “mental illness.”

    Richard, as you have written, you don’t support force at any level in these settings (and I assume other settings). But we are challenged by a fundamental question- how do we work with someone who is actively trying to harm another vulnerable person. My first take on this is, all people working with this population need to learn skills to work with highly agitated folks without responding with force. Deescalation skills are essential, such as building rapport, listening, offering comfort measures, food, TV, a radio, a phone, a place to be angry and vent, to even throw things and tear up a room without intervention.

    The problem comes when a person does not deescalate and becomes increasingly intent on hurting others. Often the act of putting hands on and moving the person to a quieter area to calm down helps. But occasionally, rarely, it doesn’t. Even this level of force is controversial. Putting hands on someone who has been traumatized, especially sexually, can be increasingly traumatizing. Keeping a person in a physical hold or mechanical restraints can be deeply traumatizing to some. Isolating a person for a period of time in a state of extreme agitation is also traumatizing. Giving a forced shot of a sedative is traumatizing. There is no good answer at this point.

    But the alternative is to allow that person to inflict damage…to severely traumatize another person. And that is where I draw the line…and where I am willing to defend the use of mechanical restraints or a forced injection.

    What I will not support, is making this a legal matter- turning this over to police and their tools, or to the prison system and its ways of managing force. There is no easy answers in the face of these rare circumstances. My goal is to make this type of encounter extremely rare. And in the hospital where I work in- it is rare.

    But I acknowledge in other hospitals, it is likely not rare and far more draconian. One of the best ways I have seen for reducing the use of force in hospitals is by requiring hospitals to document every incidence and then publicizing the results in the media. Hospitals that use force commonly will be pointed out and should be severely criticized and humiliated into changing their policies.

    So…Richard…I understand your desire to support an all or nothing abolition of force mindframe. I do support the abolition of mandated “treatment”. I don’t think we will come to agreement on the issue of how to work with violent individuals but I do want to acknowledge that we are largely in agreement on most all other issues. Thanks for your words.

    • Jonathan Keyes on October 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      “Generally, people who are acting in an uncompromisingly threatening and violent way are managed by police through the use of tasers, nightsticks, beanbag guns and handguns. ”

      Not where I am, they call them doctors and nurses and reward them for the threatening and violent behaviour.

      “We have shifted from hospitalizing the “mentally ill to jailing them.”

      Or have we just expanded the definition of what constitutes a ‘mental illness’?

      “how do we work with someone who is actively trying to harm another vulnerable person”

      Give them a degree and a title?

      Jonathan, it has been my experience that in order to meet required standards to use force, hospital workers will take advantage of the fact that flight is not possible, and will provoke a fight response in order to justify the brutality that ensues. I’ve seen videos of the police using this method to beat people to death as well. Dressing up the violence that the police use in nurses uniforms and white coats and stethoscopes only makes people MORE vulnerable, because they actually falsely trust doctors etc. But word is getting around, and while they might not be publishing it in the papers, were talking among ourselves.

      I can honestly say that after my experience I feel safer among Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs than I would in any hospital in my State. While the rules might not be obvious, at least the bruises go away after a week or two. And the bikers can’t have the police deliver you to their clubhouse at their leisure. Once stung by the hospital you’ll be lucky to have anything resembling a ‘normal’ life again.

      • For Jonathan,

        I just want to add that I did a brief and very painful stint as the mental health professional who made the final call in the ER as to whether someone was held against their will or not. This has deeply colored my views on this issue, because my experience is that depressed/suicidal people (an anyone else who was involuntarily detained) were ABSOLUTELY required to take antidepressants and other drugs against their wills, and were provided essentially NO other kind of service worth talking about, unless you count the basket-weaving type “activities” they forced the inmates to engage in. I suppose you could say they had the right to refuse, if they were educated enough to realize that, but of course, no one every told them that, and even if they did refuse, they would be very unlikely to get out until they changed their minds, and the pressure to comply (as well as the rate of lies told to justify this) was incredible.

        This particular hospital ward stated their role was only “Stabilization,” which is essentially code for giving the clients drugs until they stopped feeling or acting bad in the view of the staff. There was not much going on that could be construed as healing, other than the attempts of the odd extra-compassionate staff member who bothered talking with the patients. Believe me, I did everything I could, including some impressive therapy in the ER, to keep anyone from having to spend a minute on that ward. And my impression is that that was standard issue at the time, and don’t see any reason to believe that it’s any different now, 20 years later on. There may be outliers, but most psych wards exist solely to convince/cajole/force their patients onto some kind of drug. I know you don’t believe that’s what should happen, but the sad reality is that it does happen and is not questioned by most of the mental health “professionals” who participate.

        I am afraid you’re a major outlier, Jonathan!

        —- Steve

      • “I feel safer among Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs than I would in any hospital in my State.”
        At least you can learn the rules (and there are rules). In psych wards it is total obedience and still you get abused at every step. It reminds me of dealing with a psychopath – some people just derive pleasure from jerking you around and looking at you trying to figure out how to avoid punishment, in vain (because the rules change at his/her whim).

    • “Generally, people who are acting in an uncompromisingly threatening and violent way are managed by police through the use of tasers, nightsticks, beanbag guns and handguns.”
      This issue has been addressed by Richard. The answer is not “let’s fine a gentler way to kick your a** and throw you in a hole”. The answer is to find ways to not use force at all. In some places police is well trained and I’ll take a well trained emphatic policeman over psychiatrists every time. In fact I had an encounter with some and they treated me very well although I was a pain in the a** at the time and even told me that they don’t want to call ambulance on me since they didn’t have a very good opinion on what psychiatrists do to people. In the end they managed to talk to me and get me out of a panic attack.

      In the same time psychiatrists react with extreme violence to anything including refusal to take a physical exam (which is a right of every human being). I’d argue that most of the presumed violence from patients against staff is actually well deserved and form of self-defense. These a***oles literally complained in my official hospital documents that I was aggressive because I was fighting against restraints. Tell me about inmates running the asylum…

      “If a person is deemed criminal, they end up in the prison system.”
      That’s a problem of a stupid legal system. People end up in prisons for ridiculous things which harm no one and are at best a nuisance. They should not be locked in prisons and they should not be locked in psych wards. Just leave them alone or help them through a crisis. It’s just prison-industrial complex combined with racism and social exclusion calling the shots.

      “The long term hospital model has been dramatically reduced in favor of the prison system for managing “mental illness.”
      When do you people get it that shipping people from one kind of prison to another (only called “hospital”) is not an answer? We’ve seen this movie before and I’d urge you to read up on why asylums were closed in the first place. There was never a time when psychiatric hospitals were good places where they helped people. NEVER.

      “One of the best ways I have seen for reducing the use of force in hospitals is by requiring hospitals to document every incidence and then publicizing the results in the media.” ROFL. Because self-regulation always works, right? We see that in the last outbreak of police brutality cases. It’s not like people working in the same organization and committing the same kind of infringements will ever cover up for one another, lie in official documents, fabricate evidence etc. That never happens. Except it does. Except it has happened to me – I had outrageous lies written up in my hospital documents, signed testimony from a person who wasn’t even there and it was all taken at face value while my testimony was “crazy person’s ravings”. Sorry but you’re out of sync with reality on this one.

  6. Thanks Richard for an excellent argument.

    I know for me being involuntarily detained and forcibly drugged totally devastated and terrified me and caused my first psychosis at age 50. Ten years down the track the trauma still affects me very deeply indeed.

    Apologists who say that this is acceptable under ANY circumstances at all…EVER… are most truly arguing for the status quo and need to be called out on that, because as you say Richard, that is the biggest loophole and it actively mitigates against any change occurring in the system.

    Only when involuntary admission and “treatment” is totally outlawed, and people who do it are jailed for kidnap (or similar), will there be the incentive for the development of helpful responses to people experiencing extreme distress.

    Agree with Boans too about smoking table conversations … but would add that those conversations only occurred when people were capable of thinking or expressing anything through their drug-induced stupor and/or were not in such a state of trauma at having being detained and drugged that they could actually speak…I was so shattered by the experience I couldn’t speak ….there are no words when the unspeakable occurs.

    So yes, thanks for speaking up, Richard.

  7. Richard,

    Thanks for your community service and for another articulate post.

    The World Health Organization defines mental health as well-being. It is impossible for forced mental health services to promote well-being; agency and empowerment promote well-being. Forced hospitalization and forced drugging are the plots of horror movies; they cannot be therapeutic.

    Best regards, Steve

  8. Gonna have to call out your sources on this one…especially ones coming from your own blog. I have a degree in statistics and economics and I was told on the first day of class never believe a statistic…then I was taught the art of how they are manipulated to the benefit of those with a personal agenda. As someone who appears to have completely turned his back on the psychiatric community, your bias has lead you to sources that point to what you’re aiming for. For example – someone in the psychiatric community, in treatment for mental illness is at a higher suicide risk than one who does not have a diagnosis. No kidding, they are there because something is wrong…just because medicine and therapy failed to save them does not mean the treatment they received is the underlying motive for taking their own life. You continue to construe the medical community in a negative light in a country that WANTS mental illness to just go away. Almost every parent I know is hesitant to even consider the use of medication for their child, despite the noted benefits of doing so, including mitigating the development of future, co-morbid disorders, addiction and so on. You are empowering people to deny their loved ones an option with your rhetoric. Instead of doing this, why don’t you approach the issue in a manner that explores as many different pathways to well being as possible?

    • Candarae, Please don’t peddle that “drugs treat mental illness” line here. There is no science to support what you have said and it’s dangerous nonsense that this webzine is here to dispel. No, they are not there because something is wrong, they are there because someone THINKS there is something wrong, or because something has happpened. Please educate yourself, because you seem to have the impression that somehow there is an us and them. There is not. There are at least a dozen disorders for each and every person. The problem is obvious; diagnosis is name calling, not science, and drugs are toxic compounds which may or may not be useful for an individual for short term mitigation of a difficult life transition. This is what the science says. No, the medical community does not want to get rid of it, they want to screen to find more. It is an industry. This is not positive or negative, it is fact. From the place where we all have the facts straight, from there we move forward.

        • Candreae,

          I am glad medicines saved your life. But for many people, they have not helped and have caused horrific side effects. The literature on the effectiveness long term is quite questionable. The most glowing studies are usually financed by drug companies or professionals with connections to them.

          By the way, I am not anti meds and am looking into the possibility of taking something for a specific condition. But if I go this route, I will do it knowing that it works for about 24% of people who take it without horrific side effects.

        • For you perhaps they did save your life. However, you can’t say that this is the case for everyone else. A small minority of people seem to get help from these drugs but a large majority suffer terribly from them with no real relief from the issues that caused them problems in the first place.

          One of the very first things that I learned in college was that you couldn’t go around assuming that what works for you works for everyone. Glad that they helped you but I will never let one of those damned drugs ever pass my lips again. I almost died because of the drugs. So, please don’t go assuming that you are the standard by which everything and everyone else must be judged.

        • Candreae –
          If you read Nancy’s comment you will see that she herself states that the drugs “may or may not be useful.” If you feel that the drugs have been helpful to you, then good for you! They are not helpful to everyone.

          Thanks for bringing up the New England Journal of Medicine. Its former Editor In Chief, Marcia Angell MD, wrote this book:
          “The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It”

          AND, in Dr. Angell’s article for the prestigious New York Review of Books, she offers the following quote:

          “Imagine that a virus suddenly appears in our society that makes people sleep twelve, fourteen hours a day. Those infected with it move about somewhat slowly and seem emotionally disengaged. Many gain huge amounts of weight—twenty, forty, sixty, and even one hundred pounds. Often their blood sugar levels soar, and so do their cholesterol levels. A number of those struck by the mysterious illness—including young children and teenagers—become diabetic in fairly short order…. The federal government gives hundreds of millions of dollars to scientists at the best universities to decipher the inner workings of this virus, and they report that the reason it causes such global dysfunction is that it blocks a multitude of neurotransmitter receptors in the brain—dopaminergic, serotonergic, muscarinic, adrenergic, and histaminergic. All of those neuronal pathways in the brain are compromised. Meanwhile, MRI studies find that over a period of several years, the virus shrinks the cerebral cortex, and this shrinkage is tied to cognitive decline. A terrified public clamors for a cure.

          Now such an illness has in fact hit millions of American children and adults. We have just described the effects of Eli Lilly’s best-selling antipsychotic, Zyprexa.”

        • There are numerous people who say the same thing about placebo. Or faith healing. It is no evidence at all.
          In terms of medical journals – have you first tried to sieve out all the articles published by people with conflicts of interest, then all the ones which have methodological problems etc.? Because when you do that there’s very little left…

    • “For example – someone in the psychiatric community, in treatment for mental illness is at a higher suicide risk than one who does not have a diagnosis.”
      Except that’s not what the study was about. It was people who had a diagnosis and were hospitalized compared to the matched population who was offered other therapy options. And btw, even if that was it – it’s incumbent on people advocating the use of force to prove that it helps not the other way around. I’m yet to see the proof that forced treatment improves outcomes – so far it seems it does the exact opposite.

      “Almost every parent I know is hesitant to even consider the use of medication for their child, despite the noted benefits of doing so, including mitigating the development of future, co-morbid disorders, addiction and so on.”
      That is patently false. No psychiatric medication has been shown to prevent co-morbid disorders or addiction, in fact many were linked to causing such problems (benzos, stimulants). Even the short term benefits are questionable at best.

      “country that WANTS mental illness to just go away”
      …and is going about it in the stupidest way possible.

      “You are empowering people to deny their loved ones an option with your rhetoric.”
      Yeah, empowering people to get control over their own bodies and minds is a horrible thing indeed. Given the number of pills Americans pop every day they should be the most sane and happiest nation on the planet. So why aren’t they? Could this be because the pills aren’t working and psychiatry is a sham?

  9. Here are two links that I discovered tonight related to this post that people may also find interesting or helpful.

    THe Scientific Case Against Forced Drug Treatment, Robert Whitaker February 2013

    I can’t believe how pro-meds and pro-psychiatry and pro-forced treatment so many people are in this country, even progressives are not even close to being questioning or aware of the detrimental aspects of these. I worry that with my awkward fragile psyche that I may get forced meds some dAY. I also worry that the meds that I took between the later mid 90’s and the mid 00’s have taken their toll on my brain and it is not a good feeling. It is upsetting to me how uninformed people are, and how selective and discriminating and unfair our whole society is in all aspects social and economic and it outrages me that people are not more compassionate, intuitively understanding to how others experiences contribute to their well being and emotional conditions.

  10. Forced hospitalization and forced drugging are two different things.

    If you are reasonable you would see the need for forced hospitalization.

    There has to be physical proof the person is too irrational before they lose their freedom from an legal commitment order.
    To do nothing, in the example of when someone is starving themselves (say half normal body weight) is wrong. A doctor would have to force feed the patient until it can be verified the patients brain has proper nutrition/can think rationally. When severely malnourished the brain can not/does not function.

    A slow suicide (example of smoking>to>lung cancer) is OK/rational, a quick suicide is wrong/bad/irrational.

    I am against forced drugging and ECT. I think everyone forced into a hospital has to get a lawyer to explain to the prisoner why they are there confined in the hospital. If prisoners are not told specifically what the (their) problem is, the patient/prisoner can not possibly change or fix the problem.
    The prisoner has to be given a chance to escape the prison, change themselves and abide by any rules that have been broken.

    The goal of hospitalization: The goal is that society wants a functional person out of prison. Give the patient the option of joining the “it’s a prison” side or “it’s a hospital” side.

    Call me a fool , not a liar : Prison type of person admits their errors (breaking the rules), they chose the action/behaviour those with the Gold (money) don’t like.

    Call me a liar , not a fool: Hospital type of person denies responsibility for their actions that got them committed and wants medicine for their disease.

    • The Problem, Drugs: If the person forcibly hospitalized, once informed of their rights, can argue-ask for their freedom and is physically relatively healthy, they should get their freedom. If the patient is drugged , they can not cognitively think to ask – or argue for their freedom. The default is drug everyone stupid so they can’t complain about being in prison. The drug companies make billions. The patients can’t prove their innocence. No one in power is made upset.

    • “To do nothing, in the example of when someone is starving themselves (say half normal body weight) is wrong. A doctor would have to force feed the patient until it can be verified the patients brain has proper nutrition/can think rationally. When severely malnourished the brain can not/does not function.”
      You’re wrong here. It’s no different if you substitute anorectic (because that’s what you’re describing) with psychotic, depressed etc. It’s denying people agency over their lives and using physical humiliating force on them.
      Btw, forced feeding is torture too. If you have doubts look up some videos describing it being done to Guantanamo prisoners. If something is torture when done to a “sane” person it is torture period.

      “A slow suicide (example of smoking>to>lung cancer) is OK/rational, a quick suicide is wrong/bad/irrational.”
      R u serious on that one?

      Everyone should have a right to self-destruct. Forcing other people to live to make yourself feel better is arrogant and counter-productive. If you really want to help a person who’s self-harming or suicidal you ask them what would make them better and want to live. You try to comfort them and persuade them. You don’t humiliate them, abuse them, torture them and then be all surprised they call you a human right abuser.

  11. Richard, I’m really not trying to flatter you when I say you have made the most articulate and well-reasoned argument on this subject I’ve ever read or heard. It has definitely influenced me, as one who has been on board with the need to “reform the system”. I really do have to rethink my position on this. I haven’t yet read all of the the above responses, and your replies, but even with your excellent argument there is still a “chink in the armorl”, so to speak, in my mind. Maybe this has to do with a distinction between forced hospitalization and forced drugging (or other “treatment”, like ECT) that i believe markps2 is making above. For sure, it has to do with the lack of truly humane and personalized care for those in the midst of extreme emotional/mental states (i.e., psychosis).

    At any rate, let me give you a scenario as a way of presenting my continued concern:

    This type of scenario is of very real concern to me. I’m certainly not raising this as a “set up”, as it is an actual quandary that I’ve been faced with. In this scenario, you have an adult family member who is neither suicidal or homicidal, but dangerously delusional. For example (and this is not the actual situation in my personal experience), the loved one is convinced she is a covert agent of the CIA and must meet at midnight at a certain location–one that is known to be a hangout of drug addicts, prostitutes and violent criminals. She cannot be reasoned or talked out of this and, in fact, becomes angry and accusatory toward those who try to impede this “mission”. You want with all your heart to avoid the psychiatric unit at the local hospital, which was so demeaning and injurious to her in a previous episode.

    Okay, now let’s suppose we are fortunate enough to have Hearthside Healing, or Parachute NYC (about which I’ve heard good things), or one of the new Soteria Houses nearby. That would be wonderful, and a huge improvement in my local area (even though it is awash in all of the conventional mental health facilities and resources).

    But…in this delusional state, my family member will probably be no more likely to check into such a place as she would be to check into the local hospital’s psych ward.

    Some of you might say, “Well, she’s an adult. It’s her choice. Let her go and try to carry out her ‘mission’”. To me, loving her and knowing how irrational she is at the moment, that would be grossly negligent. There is the very real possibility that she would put herself in the hands of some very bad actors and end up greatly harmed, dead or missing.

    On the other hand, to facilitate her return to the hospital would be to put her back into the hands of those who have unchecked power to harm her body, mind and spirit.

    I think you have addressed this, in a way, in your article. This kind of real life scenario is what prevents me, at this point, from taking the absolute stance you are advocating; however, you’ve certainly made a good case for how “reform” may play right into the hands of the worst elements of the status quo.


  12. This has been a very enlightening and interesting discussion.

    I am actually faced with this dilemma almost every day, since my son chose to go CT off his last psyche med, zyprexa, 3 months ago.

    He spends all his time in his bedroom at his older brother’s house. He lives in a mess of scattered clothing, some of which he has ripped for odd reasons, a damp bed without a sheet (he ripped it up, also), cans and bottles, junk, wire tied to the dresser, pieces of wood stuck in windows, and a general clutter of bits of old vitamins, books, and papers.

    About once a week, I really question the wisdom of our family’s decision to just leave him alone. He is extremely angry sometimes, saying frightening things about death-wishes for members of the family, even describing ways he wants us to die. He doesn’t really say them “to” us, but we can hear him talking to himself.
    Sometimes, I feel like taking him back to the hospital is the only option, but I have completely lost all faith in the mental health system here. I want so deeply to hope that he can recover from 7 years of drugging, but can he? Did going CT cause permanent harm? I don’t really know how to help him any more. A year ago, he was doing so much better than this. It wasn’t great, but it was a lot better. I keep thinking about the relationship we all have lost with him at this point.

    We can’t do anything for him right now. He won’t even leave the house. I bring him groceries, but he has lost a lot of weight anyway. I try to clean his room, especially when his older brother starts comparing about the bad smell, but he complains if I use any cleaning products, even natural ones. I can’t get him off the bed long enough to put down a sheet, even! I can’t even imagine getting him to the doctor for a checkup. Or the dentist.

    My husband and I were given legal guardianship last year, and I sometimes fear that we will be seen as negligent because we aren’t taking him back into the system. We have no real options here. I mean, it’s great to talk about the ideal situation of no force, but isn’t there a scenario where force might be required? He seems to be self-destructive, and unable to think our remember things much of the time, like a dementia patient might be. Would it be right to let someone with dementia harm himself? I’d love to be able to take my son to a hospital, where he could just recover without forced drugs and be treated with respect and concern, but that isn’t available.

    His older brother is choosing to let him stay, in hopes that his brother’s life can improve, but his own life has become fairly restricted, and the relationship between them is very poor.

    My own life seems restricted by my son’s suffering, and Iam filled with grief, worry, and anxiety for the future.

    • Again- really really hard real world problem there gardenlisa…with no easy answers. One of the things I hear right off the bat is that he went cold turkey off psych meds- which can really cause severe complications and disorganization for anyone…but especially for those prone to extreme states. Even if it was 3 months ago- that may still be causing ramifications. However, I would not be as concerned with CT causing permanent harm. 7 years of drugging can indeed train the brain to be habituated to those drugs- and then when someone quickly cold turkeys off them…it can cause a hell of a lot of problems.

      There really is no easy solution. The main problem with hospitalization is the very distinct possibility that he will not just be held-but then taken to civil court and be committed. At that point doctors can choose what drugs and at what dosage they want to prescribe psych drugs. He also faces the possibility of transfer to a State Hospital setting and indefinitely being caught up in the system.

      At the same time, in a hospital setting he may decide to take a psych drug voluntarily and then hopefully stabilize and be released- and this time with the goal of tapering slowly and carefully off the drug.

      The best option- like you say- would be a place where he could recover without facing the possibility of being forced to take psych drugs.

      Hard stuff…I hope your son will improve and recover in time.

      • Richard, thanks for taking on Jonathan and his convoluted arguments for psychiatric violence.

        Let’s get it clear –“mental health” workers for the most part ARE cops by another name, and the ‘mental; health” system is a penal system by another name. So what is really being discussed is which of these variations on a theme should be handed the job of protecting society from violent criminals.

        The “justice” system in theory should be doing this. That doesn’t mean that a justice system which practices torture and frames people up should be accepted. But at least the violence of that system is not presented as benevolent and is not employed in the name of health care.

        Btw there will be institutional violence as long as capitalism is allowed to exist. Which is, of course, the elephant in the corner in these discussions.

        • Exactly. The whole argument from Jonathan seems to be: “the only alternative to the use of force by me is the use of force by police”. Like the use of force by psychiatry is any better than the use of force by police. In fact is often worse because it included mind rape (which Jonathan admitted using), for which there’s no justification at all.
          Plus in the legal system you have due process. You don’t have one in psychiatry (and please don’t pretend like the civil commitment and other sad jokes are due process).
          If it’s torture when done by a psychopath to a sane person it is torture when done to a “schizophrenic” by a “compassionate doctor”. Torture is torture period.

    • gardenlisa
      Go to Dr. Michael Cornwall’s article posted here at MIA.
      ” Will Psychiatry’s Harmful Treatment of our Children Bring About it’s Eventual Demise ? ”

      Look at my (Fred Abbe) suggestions there in the comment’s near the bottom of the comments .
      Keep your son where he is try the 9 herb formula as a very strong tea with fresh lemon or lime a cup 4- 6 times a day if possible possible . (no sugar) Also make him 32 in total oz. a day of fresh green leafy vegetable juice mixed 50/50 with spring or filtered water . For example organic if possible romaine or green leaf lettuce some fresh garlic, cucumber, flax seeds, celery, whole medium size carrot or 1/4 of an apple, broccoli, half squeezed lemon.
      Till you get the 9 herb formula made in equal parts use organic camomile.
      See if he’ll go for it . It will help bring him toward equilibrium as he adjusts without the drug.
      3000 mgs of niacin ( flushing kind) if combined with taking a hot mineral bath containing natural occurring lithium and other minerals. Let him rub down with luffa. Otherwise use 3000 mg. of niaciamide (non flushing kind ) if won’t soak in mineral bath. Richard Schultze’s formula # 1 intestinal formula 3 capsules or more a day or back off to find right amount to prevent constipation. ( search the internet to find best deal on other herbs to make 9 herb formula . Some of these are my own ideas or innovations won’t cause harm . I’m a psych survivor med free. I wonder if also your son is suffering from mercury poisoning from dental amalgam which are 53% mercury. In that case he’ll eventually need advanced Hal Huggins dental work done . These are just suggestions that will work along with a vegan diet preferably or near to it. Some exercise would help even walking.It’s worth a try. The info is more solid then what you’ll hear from any “professional ” I ever heard of.
      Best Wishes, Fred
      Also check post and comments ,search at MIA Seroquel —— After Seroquel by Nancy Rubenstein DelGiudice june 25, 2012 will pop up . Catagorized in OP-EDS, popular
      read her article and all the comments that she answers , there is better workable info there on how to wean off then even Dr. Bregin’s $ 50 book.

        • I appreciate your suggestions, but unfortunately, we wouldn’t be in this situation if my son had followed the suggestions made by myself and the naturopath we saw. Before he went CT, he was taking 3000 mg niacinimide, in addition to several other supplements. He had already quit an anti depressant and anxiety meds successfully. He was doing pretty well, then he went CT off zyprexa.

          And, here we are.

          • I’m so sorry for you and your son. Zyprexa is a real torture drug and by many accounts one of the worst both in terms of “side effects” and withdrawal. I hope you’ll get through it.

    • @gardenlisa IMO coldturkey does not inflict permanent harm.

      When off the psychiatric drugs emotional control is much more difficult, as the emotions have been suppressed by the drugs. I write my feeling out on paper to help purge myself of them.

      If your son can not understand the necessity of food and cleanliness, that is a serious cognitive problem.

      His brother can not reason with him if he is complaining to you about the cleanliness?

      Violence will occur when/if your son confronts the other son.

      He has to understand the necessity of food and cleanliness.
      Does he have money to buy food/make a budget? A way to get to the store? A list of food he wants to eat? Does he know how to clean? Does he have the cleaning tools?
      He is changing from child to adult, and if he himself can not perceive the necessity of food and cleanliness as an adult he deserves to lose his freedom.
      When I was his age I was depressed. Is depression (not caring) the reason he doesn’t look after himself?

      • I agree, markps2. I would not want my sons to be living together if one was psychotic. It can lead to violence. Again, I recommend the Families Healing Together course taught by Krista McKinnon. Recovery can be learned and practiced by family members. But first, they need knowledge.

        • “I would not want my sons to be living together if one was psychotic.”

          Rossa hi,

          With all due respect, I can’t help but wonder: Why are you using the “psychotic” label to describe commenter gardenlisa’s son?

          I have (earlier today) read all of gardenlisa’s comments (i.e., all that she’s posted on this website); and, like you yourself describe, I too have been following the comment discussion that’s been generated by gardenlisa’s comments here on this page.

          Also, I agree with you as you indicate that markps2’s suggestion is correct: from all gardenlisa describes (not only in this MIA comment thread but also in previous MIA comment threads), there may be some considerable potential for violence erupting, between the two of gardenlisa’s sons who are now living together, as long as those sons continue to live together with no clear resolution of their differences.

          (Please, note prominently: As I speak of their differences, I am refusing to presume that all the problems between them are derived from just one of them; though, yes her family is now apparently most troubled by their most seemingly troublesome one-time identified “patient” — who is notably, as well, from gardenlisa’s description, a victim of psychiatric abuse.)

          Actually, I deeply respect gardenlisa, for she is very sincerely striving to resist initiating another psychiatric “hospitalization” for her son.

          That continuing resistance of hers is very good for one and all, imho.

          Moreover, it’s very good, I think, that none of her comments ever refer to “psychosis” (she literally never refers to “psychosis” nor calls anyone “psychotic” — at least, not thus far — in any of her MIA commenting).

          I don’t know what her thinking is, regarding that label, but I view it as worse than needless, as it is (imo) inevitably personally damaging.

          I am very glad that markps2 completely opposes forced drugging, but I do not agree with him as he claims, “If you are reasonable you would see the need for forced hospitalization.” (Note: he was not referring to gardenlisa’s son, at that point; she had not yet posted her first comment on this page.)

          It’s my conviction, that no one should ever be “hospitalized” (and, certainly not against his/her own will) for emotional, psychological and/or behavioral issues — nor either for any kind of relationship difficulties, whether in and amongst family systems or elsewhere.

          Clearly, from what she says in her comments, gardenlisa’s son who was formerly accepting his role as psychiatric “patient” is now rejecting it. To reject that role should be his right, no matter what…

          It’s a very smart move, on his part, that he is rejecting it (as I believe he is rejecting it, based on my readings of his mom’s MIA comments) and is rejecting “hospitalization”.

          No less, I think he should refuse to allow himself to buy into psychiatry’s labels — including that “psychotic” label, which you’ve now casually placed upon him.

          I know you mean well, but many people claim to have been “psychotic” — and describe having gotten over the sufferings that that label implied (and, furthermore, others may accept they are over those sufferings); but, somehow the “psychotic” label continues to haunt them.

          After all, many folk will never accept as ‘fully recovered’ any friend or relative who was ever once officially deemed “psychotic”; and, so, I think that any and all seeming validation, claimed verification and acceptance of that label should be avoided.

          Let’s leave ‘hospitals’ for actual medical issues and let’s find language that’s not pathologizing, to describe our human experiences.

          Even when encountering individuals who want to be called “psychotic” (some folk who I otherwise respect seem to enjoy claiming that label, as a fairly descriptive reflection of their own experiences), I will not accede to join them; I will not refer to them nor to their experiences in that way…

          (Always I keep the terms “psychotic” and “psychosis” sandwiched in quotation marked or inverted commas.)

          Likewise, while some claim to have had positive experiences, in psychiatric “hospitals” (especially amongst those few who experienced no psychiatric coercion), I know far more people claim to have had negative experiences in them — including, of course, countless “patients” who’ve been “involuntarily committed”.

          And, I can’t help but question the various accounts I hear of supposedly “positive” psychiatric “hospital” experiences…

          (Note: I believe that many who’ve been involuntarily and coercively ‘treated’ by psychiatry claim to have had positive experiences in psychiatric “hospitals” mainly to avoid ‘medical’ persecution by their doctors, family and/or ‘friends’ — or else, are simply suffering from Stockholm syndrome, which is a very real and serious psychological problem, that is often caused by medical-coercive psychiatry.)

          I believe such “hospitals” (and, in particular, “involuntary hospitalizations”) cannot reasonably be expected to teach any “patient” either how to better understand themselves or how to relate better to others.

          Nor either does the classic psychiatric “hospital” designation of “psychotic” teach anyone anything…

          Please, forgive me for having gone on and on more than I probably should (perhaps, I am beating a dead horse); I guess this is an extension of my earlier entreaties, to you (of more than a year ago), to consider the many potentially negative consequences of your referring to your son with use of the term “schizophrenia”.

          But, I realize you are doing your best and am truly wishing you and yours well, always…



          • Btw, there’s one more problem that gardenlisa may need to face: I of course don’t know the details of her family history but if they did previously participate in forcing/coercing her son into the system his aggressive stance and refusal to follow advice may be a result of this. I’m not saying that this is any fault of her or her family (sometimes families have no other choice but to comply or lose any control over what is done to their loved ones) but it would explain the lack of trust, paranoia etc. It can take a long time to heal and a lot of good will on both sides to overcome things like that.
            Psychiatry destroys individuals but psychiatry also destroys people’s relationships to their spouses, parents, kids.

    • Gardenlisa,
      Only women bleed. Are we the only women commenting on this string? We are the ones “stuck” with the practicalities of the the problem. Going cold turkey off meds is not a solution, but neither is going slowly off them either, as I found out with my son. He still went psychotic, and ended up, much to my regret, in the hospital. There is a huge learning curve involved here. My son is in really good shape today, but it has taken many years and lots of different interventions. Much as I am against them, there is a place for meds. If your son goes back on them, insist that they be at the lowest effective dose, which is not the same as the lowest recommended dose; He may possibly do very well on a fraction of a dose. Psychosis is awful, and very destructive to goodwill. In an ideal world, there would be lots of help, but in the world we live in, there is not. But, much depends on how the family interacts with their relative. I highly recommend the Families Healing Together course. It can change your life.

      • Thank you for your reply, Rossa. I keep trying to comment, but my Kindle turned off twice before I could post. Here’s my third try:

        I have taken the families healing together course you mentioned. It was very helpful and I should reread some of it soon.

        I know many of you won’t like what I have to say, but…..

        Seven years ago, we had no option, but to have our child (he was 15 at the time) forced into “treatment” at the hospital. I know it sounds horrible, and I feel awful about it after everything I’ve learned this year (started by reading, “Anatomy of an Epidemic” last December), but our entire family was being damaged by his behavior. My younger children were terrified of their brother at times. I still worry about the psychological damage that they have experienced because of his frightening actions and words. We didn’t know what else to do, and were promised solutions by the doctors and hospital…in the form of pills. And, you know what? It helped. We were able to deal with our son after that. somewhat. He wasn’t actually “well”, but he was safer to have around after that.

        And, that all ended after he went CT off his zyprexa.

        I know that it looks like we took away his rights and violated his freedom, but what about the rest of the family? Our freedom and rights were all dictated by the one son who was struggling to be mentally well.

        Before he went to the hospital in 2007, it was truly a nightmare. I spent countless nights awake with our son because he would cry hysterically from fear of sleep. We went out of our way to give him the things he needed, like a more comfortable bed and special clothing. If he didn’t sleep, the whole family suffered. I read to him and talked to him and comforted him when he was at his worst. I watched the same movie over and over to keep him company when he had no friends and his siblings could barely stand to be with him. I scratched his head, back, arms, and legs as physical therapy to help him relax at night. He was really hard to deal with at times, and the entire family was often controlled by his OCD issues. For example, we couldn’t watch certain channels or programs on TV, or he would have a complete meltdown. He would often stand in front of the refrigerator,with the door open for an hour or more, tapping something over and over. Our younger kids were traumatized by him at times.

        (Even after he started taking the psyche drugs, things weren’t that good, but at least we could sleep at night most of the time.)

        I know that the drugs have damaged him. I know that the brain chemical imbalance theory is a lie. I know that going CT off his zyprexa has damaged him pretty badly. I know that the doctors shouldn’t have started him on the drugs in the beginning. But, knowing all of this doesn’t help him. Or us. We are still a hurting family with no real solutions for our loved one.

        He has been the center of so much attention and time. We HAVE given him what we could, and tried to show unconditional love. But, how can we give and give and give to him, to the neglect of the other children? They need love and attention, too.

        We are in limbo. We don’t know what tomorrow holds for our son. We can’t throw him out on the street. He really is too ill for that. We can’t take him to the hospital, knowing what we know. It would be terrible to get him back in that system after everything. But, it’s hard NOT to do this! He just is NOT WELL. Mentally, I don’t know if he is experiencing delusions or psychosis, but I don’t think it’s too bad. His moods are unpredictable and he is often angry. He has serious memory and cognitive problems. And, all of his senses are all on overload. His body and muscles are weak.

        Do you have any idea what we are experiencing? We all love him. We want him to get well. We want him to have a REAL life again. Not what his life is like right now- staying in his room all day with the curtains closed, hot sauce splashed across every wall, crap all over the floor, torn clothing and sheets over the doors and around the bed. Various cans, bottles,pitchers, dishes, and silverware strewn about.

        Do you know what it’s like to have your son hate you, call you filthy names, and treat you like an enemy after years of practically being his only real advocate? This is my life now. I miss my son. I feel like I’ve lost him.

        • “I know many of you won’t like what I have to say, but…”


          From what you’re saying, it seems maybe you’re worried about being judged here, but it’s hard for me to imagine that anyone could read your comments, by this point, and come to judge you.

          Anyone who reads all your comments fully should realize, you’re doing the best that you know how to do, and you’re learning as you go along.

          (Of course, I’m only one person, speaking only for himself; others may feel differently.)

          (I suppose someone could possibly judge you, upon read your comments, because this is the Internet, after all; there’s always the possibility of being judged here, even over the smallest of matters.)


          I hope you don’t mind me saying, I think, from what you’re describing, that it’s most important that your son be viewed as someone who can become fully self-responsible, in time — and (moreover) happy.

          I know what I’m saying could seem presumptuous, I could seem as though someone lacking enough understanding, to offer suggestions; but, were I you, I’d think of this time, currently, as your son’s low point, in life.

          He has hit ‘rock-bottom’ (from all you’re describing).

          I would do everything possible to begin developing complete faith that he will get better and better, from this point forward — if only gradually (beginning now).

          This may seem like wishful thinking, but it needn’t be that; you can develop a plan, which helps to make it so…

          I would develop a plan and assure myself that any set-backs will only be temporary.

          Essential to that plan, is that, beginning now, I would envision my son becoming a fully self-responsible man; toward that end, I’d become absolutely determined to methodically encourage my son to become more self-responsible.

          I would do that by offering him healthy choices.

          In one of your comments (I believe it may have been on a different MIA comment thread) you mentioned mild autism.

          Possibly, that indicates his troubles began in his gut (i.e., sensitivities in his digestive tract).

          And, here (in your comment above), you say “He would often stand in front of the refrigerator, with the door open for an hour or more, tapping something over and over.”

          Perhaps, he was doing what we all do, as we’re trying to find something satisfying to eat? …only, he may be somewhat more perplexed than most people are when they stand there.

          He has to learn how to eat in a way that is right for him.

          That takes time — and initiative.

          In my humble opinion, he has to learn that others have raised themselves up from roughly where he is in his life, now.

          He needs to realize, happiness is possible.

          He’ll need to well consider and make healthy choices… that can effectively take care of himself physically and take care the environment in which he’s living… because his environment is mirroring his life condition.

          The more he can take responsibility for the condition of his environment (of course, at first, he may need help caring for it), and the more he can learn to make healthy choices, eating and caring for his own physical hygiene (even if/when those positive changes come gradually), the more you’ll see improvements in his life condition overall, his ability to experience happiness.

          And, he may need help from an understanding personal coach, to get him moving in those directions.

          In any even, he must be offered choices.

          Everything you’ve said has indicated that, all along, you’ve been doing the best that you know how to do for your son.

          I fully trust you’ll continue doing so.



          • P.S. — @ gardenlisa,

            If you are interested in finding a personal coach for your son, were I you, I’d Google these four words: “William Glasser Choice Theory”

            (Note: Dr. Glasser was a psychiatrist who developed a clear method of helping people, that effectively teaches self-responsibility, the importance of making healthy choices; he was not into prescribing drugs, nor was he into “hospitalizing” people.)

          • You have no idea how encouraged I feel right now by your reply. I really appreciate it.
            My son had obvious signs of mild autism even as a baby. As he grew, he matured and was a pretty happy, normal child. He was extraordinarily gifted with an amazing memory and had obsessive interests that were also a gift to the rest of us, because we all learned so much from him!
            When he lost his friend (through a family shunning us), his life took a huge turn for the worse. He became very depressed and had outbursts that made the other children afraid. We tried counseling. We took him to see his pediatrician, who suggested antidepressants, which we refused. We saw a child psychiatrist, who was no help at all, as he wouldn’t even listen to my son, who was longing to express his emotions to someone who could help him.
            Finally, the pediatrician suggested strattera, which some stupid report said “helped” autistic people. We resisted at first, but when his behavior got worse, we decided to try it. No other options seemed available. He was 12 years old.

            I’m sure that was the initial problem. And I regret it so much.

            My son developed severe OCD as a result of that drug, I believe. We stopped giving it to him about 9 months into drug therapy, but he didn’t improve. I didn’t make the connection between the strattera and the developing OCD at the time.
            It’s been hell for us. Why don’t they tell you that giving just one, innocent-sounding psyche drug to a child can lead to all this crap?

        • “Do you know what it’s like to have your son hate you, call you filthy names, and treat you like an enemy after years of practically being his only real advocate? This is my life now. I miss my son. I feel like I’ve lost him.”

          I understand your pain but I also understand his position. I have told my family that if they ever turn me over to psychiatry I will never talk to them again. You may have done that in the best faith and when you felt you had no choice but you also have to understand that you son could see you as his enemy because of that. I don’t know how it was before you decided to hospitalize him the first time but such things never help.
          I really don’t know how to fix something that’s so badly broken. I feel for you and hope you’ll find a way.

  13. I’m afraid I didn’t explain that my son isn’t cooperating on any level right now, so, although I appreciate the herbs/ mineral baths ideas…….It’s not going to happen.

    I’m encouraged to think that maybe he will recover. How long will it take, I wonder?

    About a month ago, we were pretty convinced he needed to go to the hospital. The mental health agency in our city wouldn’t send anyone over, and suggested either: getting him to agree to go to the hospital with us, OR calling the police.

    We chose to do “talk therapy” (basically, me trying to calm him down for 3 1/2 hours), instead. It worked enough that we were able to go home and not worry for a while.

    I can’t really reason with him, he has a terrible memory, and is anxious, weak, and sleeps poorly.

    • Man….really challenging. One thing is that I would hope you are getting some support for yourself because that is really hard stuff you are going through.

      I was saying before, I try to steer people away from hospitalization as much as humanly possible…but if he is truly talking about death wishes against the family that is scary stuff. I know people who are fundamentally opposed to psychiatry who have brought family members into a hospital setting because of the fear of violence. It’s a very hard decision to make.

      • Yeah, there have been a few days in the past three months that we almost forced the hospital. However, we are really glad that we haven’t done that so far. He usually calms down and we can go another week before we have new issues.

        I am pretty concerned that he isn’t interacting much with anyone. He broke his phone several weeks ago, and doesn’t want a new one for now. He spends much of his day either trying to sleep out searching the internet. And, maybe cutting clothing up?

        I feel like his room needs a deep cleaning, but I can’t imagine when I could do that, since he won’t let me do much in there.

        As far as support…..I don’t have much. I mean, my family loves me and cares about their brother (son, cousin, nephew), but I’m the one who cleans and shops for him. I’m the one who feels the deep burden of this whole situation. I have friends I share with on Facebook, also, but most of the time I feel like everyone else is just tired of hearing about him and his problems. I really don’t blame them. Iwish I could just run away from it all. But, I can’t just forget and stop caring about him.

        • gardenlisa,

          That’s a hard path to walk. And it’s esepcially hard if you don’t have a lot of support. So much of the time folks are isolated in these situations. That’s wonderful that he was able to wean off the anti-depressants and anxiety meds and that he was seeing a naturopath. Zyprexa, and all the antipsychotics can just be horrible to quit.

          Sometimes the family member will take a lot of the anger/pain/confusion out on the parents and the rest of the family. Is there any way to bring someone in outside of the family to encourage him to start doing healthy things…clean, shower, eat?

          You asked about recovery…at some point his neurochemistry will adjust to being completely off zyprexa and that process is really helped by nutritious food, rest, good sleep. As an herbalist and someone who works with people withdrawing off psych drugs, I second Fred’s ideas of offering good supplements too but it sounds like it’s hard to interact on this level.

          Sometimes people experience prolonged discomfort, neurological disorganization and extreme states for quite a while after withdrawal. Recovery can look uneven. Having family members and friends around who are supportive and offer unconditional love and care is vital. It sounds like you are playing that main role and it can really burn people out…it’s really helpful to do a lot of self care so you can help him.

          Anyways, hope you and your son find a way through to a better place…

        • gardenlisa October 18, 2014 at 9:30 pm said:
          “his room needs a deep cleaning”
          IMO if it is his room, he has to clean it.
          I assume he has the capability to clean it. Or can hire someone to clean it.
          A “seriously mentally ill” friend of mine pays for a cleaner to clean his apartment.
          You have to decide if he is a child or an adult and let him make mistakes and/or live with his decisions.

        • Have you thought also maybe you’re indulging him too much? I understand all the issues he has and the guilt you seem to have over it but sometimes one has to take a stand. Sometimes the best way to cure an alcoholic from his addiction is to kick him out on the street and tell him to come back when his sober (worked for my grandfather).

          I’m not necessarily suggesting you kick your son onto the streets, it seems like a bad idea given what you’ve written about him but maybe you should just go in an clean the room (or give him a choice: either you do it until tomorrow or I’ll do it). I don’t know how strong he is but if you have family members around you should make sure to be prepared in case he gets violent that he doesn’t harm you. There’s some chance that he’ll see that he can’t hide in his room and do what he wants with you forever. I know it may be hard for him to understand your position if he indeed has a form of autism but you should try to explain to him the rules.

          I think the biggest problem here is how to deal with the situation to improve it while not risking escalation that will lead to further abuse of your son. It’s a very thin line to walk…

  14. I’ve made some comments above trying to resolve my own conflicts about this issue of the use of force.

    It really does come down to two attitudes. If the person is in the position where they have the right to consent, “on hold” as I believe it is called in the US, then they have the “right to refuse” treatment.

    Camp 1. No means No

    Camp 2 The b&^%$ch was asking for it, her mouth said no, but the the other signals said yes.

    I am firmly entrenched in camp 1. The hospital staff that I have had the misfortune to come across were firmly entrenched in camp 2.

    Now in most instances patients go along with the requests of hospital staff, and everybody is fine. But on occasions you get the odd one that doesn’t consent, so you need to maybe use a little coercion, and well if she keeps saying No maybe have your mates from the football club surround her and pull a knife or something, pin her down and give her the treatment. I mean she said yes to coffee right?

    Where’s the loophole in our sexual assault laws? How can you make a No into an “emergency” that requires forcing sex onto someone?

    I’m staying firmly in the No means No camp, and I’m sure that the hospital staff will stay with the B^%&tch was asking for it camp.

    Once again Richard, thanks for writing this article, it has without doubt made me resolute in my position on the abolition of the use of force.

    • Well, I have this problem with the state using violence on people in the name of violence prevention. Abduction, imprisonment, assault, torture, everything up to, and beyond, murder, renamed “treatment”, and with this spin claiming the violence involved has something to do with medical science. On top of this, enacting legislation against self-defense by dis-arming the completely innocent targets of this violence, again making some far fetched claim that this action is in the name of violence prevention. This time the crazy people didn’t do it, it was the crazy politicians that did it.

      • I’ve just had a revelation of sorts.

        I sent a letter to our Chief Psychiatrist making a complaint about being examined when I had explicitly denied consent.

        He sends a letter back claiming that the Doctor had a “desgnation and authority” under the Act.

        I send a letter back asking where in the Act this was because I had denied the right to touch me.

        He then falls silent on the issue because putting in writing that saying no constitutes an “emergency” would look kind of silly for him really. Better he falls silent on the fact that the public has no right to consent at all. I mean imagine the problems that might cause if the public were aware that no such right exists. It’s an illusion, a trick of the light.

        Like dinner with a rapist, you say yes all’s fine, you say no…..welcome to Hell.

        • Legal question.

          I am on a “hold” and the Doctor wishes to physically examine me. I state that “you do not have my consent to conduct this examination, and if you do it will constitute an assault”. He proceeds with the examination as refusing constitutes an “emergency” and places an object (tongue depressor) into my mouth. I then bury my thumb up to my wrist in his eye socket.

          What’s is going to happen? An emergency will be declared? Already has been, someone said the word No. Perhaps they were negligent in an emergency situation?

          Chances are I would be given the needle and ‘treated’. However, isn’t their a legal problem for the hospital here? They would be forced into arguing in court that saying no constituted an emergency, and I just don’t see that holding water with ‘reasonable’ people.

          Anyone know a good lawyer and someone who can refer me for an examination by a psychiatrist lol.

          • @boans October 19, 2014 at 3:54 am
            Use common sense.
            Is the doctor a licensed doctor? Yes
            Who does the doctor work for?
            What is the doctors job?

            Are you really being assaulted?
            No, so “bury my thumb up to my wrist in his eye socket. ” is an unreasonable amount of force response to his/her effort to examine your physical health.

          • Oh it was an assault markps2.

            He knew it and I knew it. Had no right to examine me when I had explicitly stated that he couldn’t. And I don’t know about trying to reason with unreasonable people like that.

            No right to touch me, then don’t do it, because you might be surprised at the response.

            Anyway, he has cancer now and will be meeting his maker soon. Lets hope he’s a little more forgiving than I am.

          • “bury my thumb up to my wrist in his eye socket. ” is an unreasonable amount of force response to his/her effort to examine your physical health.

            And having 12 people restrain and drug a person for saying NO to drugs they know will harm them isn’t? Bit of consistency on the standards might be nice.

  15. I have been posting on this thread because I don’t know what else to do. Being able to read these articles and interact with many of you is the only thing helping me stay calm enough with the situation with our son. Otherwise, I would probably do something desperate and “force” him back into treatment. It’s really hard right now. Really hard.

    If his older brother ever decides he just can’t take living with him anymore, we wouldn’t have any other options, I fear. I feel like crying much of the time.

    • gardenlisa,

      there’s a lot about the situation you have described that I can’t understand. I’ve never been in a situation like yours and probably never will. I don’t have any good advice, or solutions, or even anyone I could say “talk to this person or..”

      What I do want to say is that I’m glad your talking about your experience because it’s an important perspective for me to hear. I feel sure that you would probably done things very differently if you knew what you know now. I know my wife handed me over to these people thinking they would ‘help’. They did nothing of the sort and ended up destroying something that could have been repaired with a bit of talking.

      Your son will be suffering significant trauma as a result of the treatment he has received. Is more of that really going to help? The gun is there anytime you want, but know the damage that can be done if you do pick it up.

      my prayers are with you.

    • Gardenlisa,

      I feel your pain, we are going through something similar with my son although your situation sounds more difficult.

      We have had some success with blitzing his room. We cleared it, stripped it bare, cleaned it, painted it white, put in new carpet, curtains and light, and then put the basics back in without all the crap. He now has a clean, calm space, which he appears to appreciate and he is treating it, and possibly himself, with a little more respect. He is definitely sleeping better and even bathing more. It is also a lot easier to keep on top of when he won’t do it himself (a quick tidy up when he is not in there). It isn’t the key to his complete recovery but it has certainly helped, and equally importantly, also helped the family dynamic.

      It’s just a suggestion; I realise it might be impossible for you to accomplish, but if you can see a way to do it and enlist the necessary help it may be worth a try ? It will probably also make YOU feel better, to have done something positive and tangeable.

  16. Hi, Richard, thank you for a wonderful post.

    I wanted to comment on the issues raised by Jonathan and some of the responses. My apologies, but I could not deal with figuring out the appropriate spot within the threads, so I just am making my own comment here. Anyways, I have read everything on MIA that Jonathan has written regarding this topic. As a person who works in a state hospital, I can understand the concerns and the very real problem of dealing with violent behavior. There have been moments in reading his blogs that I question my own beliefs. This current blog and all the responses, however, has finally allowed me to feel secure in my very firm belief that there is never, ever, ever, any justification for psychiatry to have the legal right to use force. Period.

    I completely agree with everybody who has brought up the issue of breaking the law; if a person breaks the law, then they should learn to deal with the consequences. Not doing so, and creating some alternative “treatment” avenue because somebody is “sick” is probably the biggest impediment to getting past #1 the association of violence with “mental illness” and #2 the learned helplessness of those who have been so misfortunate to end up in the system. I have nothing to add to this.

    Jonathan’s argument, I now realize, is akin to saying “well, the police abuse worse than use, so what we do isn’t so bad.” I grew up in an abusive home, and this was exactly the same tactic used to get me to believe my parents when they said they were not abusing me. I call BS. If the law were to change, as it should, and all use of force was deemed illegal, then the system would adapt. The system would learn new ways of preventing the violence in the first place (i.e., actually listening to people before they get to the point of resorting to violence). Those instances where somebody assaults another is an instance of breaking the law. Period. This leads to my second point.

    The prison system is also abysmal. Both systems need an overhaul. Imagine a prison system that actually treated ALL of its inmates humanely? Jonathan, are you arguing that only the “sick” should be given that opportunity? That somehow it’s ok that “those other criminals” get the crap beat out of them daily and thrown in solitary for months at a time? We wouldn’t have such a crime-ridden society and such extraordinarily high rates of recidivism if we had compassion for the individuals being incarcerated in the first place. In Sweden, they do not live in such a retributive society; their criminals are exposed to real rehabilitation and compassion. And guess what? They have the lowest rates of recidivism in the world to the point that they have closed many of their prisons. EVERYONE deserves this opportunity.

    We live in a society that is short-sighted and cannot see beyond the immediate future. If the laws were to change, there surely would be immediate chaos and sad and unfortunate consequences. But, the system would adapt. And, in the long run, people would no longer be traumatized by those benevolent souls who dedicate their lives to “helping” people. Frank Blankenship’s statement above regarding the Nazis is pretty accurate in this regard. Change is hard. But, it is absolutely imperative.

    Thanks again Richard for a great piece.

    • Hey Noel. Thanks for your thoughts.

      I think we are all in agreement that

      I think you raise some key points and I see you are in agreement with Ruchard and others when you say…

      ” I completely agree with everybody who has brought up the issue of breaking the law; if a person breaks the law, then they should learn to deal with the consequences. Not doing so, and creating some alternative “treatment” avenue because somebody is “sick” is probably the biggest impediment to getting past #1 the association of violence with “mental illness” and #2 the learned helplessness of those who have been so misfortunate to end up in the system.”

      I just want to ask how you would look at things given this example. A man is in his home going through some delusions that his parents are aliens and they need to be killed. He actively starts hitting and attacking them. Police would likely be called…but where should he go? Does he deserve to be tried in front of a court and put in prison for this episode?

      How about if someone is on the street with command hallucinations telling him to break into a house and find a Bible? What should happen if they do that? Prison for breaking and entering?

      My hope is that we can create centers where people can go that do not require psych drugs and the person can work through their episode without having to be criminalized for psychosis. But right now we are left with really poor options.

      Many of these folks end up in hospitals because we have not created an alternative non-medical infrastructure. They come and so do people who have a history of being predatory and assaultive. At rare times I have had to protect vulnerable people in that setting from people who have a criminal background. If you call the rare instance of defending vulnerable people “abusive” I wonder how you would approach helping and defending them? I have already said cops won’t put down their guns to come in…so how do you work with those situations?

      • Oh…you asked about prisons. I think far greater attention should be placed on prisons as well as hospitals. The stat I quoted above says there are 350,000 people with mental illness in prisons and about 35,000 in hospitals. MIA needs to shine a serious spotlight on the immense crimes being committed in the penal system.

        We need to create centers for people to experience psychosis without the threat of mandated treatment.

        • Jonathan Keyes offers two hypothetical situations (on October 20, 2014 at 4:54 pm); I know he’s offering them to another commenter, but, oh well; I can’t resist offering the following response…

          Hypothetical Situation #1

          “A man is in his home going through some delusions that his parents are aliens and they need to be killed. He actively starts hitting and attacking them. Police would likely be called…but where should he go? Does he deserve to be tried in front of a court and put in prison for this episode?”

          To answer Jonathan’s first question, above, I must say…

          Actually, there could be no way of knowing for certain whether (or to what extent) such a hypothetical man truly believed that his parents were aliens — as opposed to this possibility, that he was just claiming to believe that his parents were aliens.

          Likewise (and, possibly, more to the point), there’s no way of knowing, to what extent such a man had truly believed they ‘needed to be killed.’

          A man could have just been claiming to have believed such nonsense, because he had surrendered to a passionate urge to attack his parents, and now has been arrested, and he knows (just like most people who have access to mainstream media news and the Internet know) there have been past cases wherein individuals (and their defense lawyers) have entered an ‘insanity’ plea, claiming that the defendant had come to believe that certain other individuals (those whom they attacked) were ‘space-invaders’ (“aliens”) who ‘needed to be killed.’

          Haven’t most folk heard of such stories, by now? Yes…

          But, putting that aside (indeed, putting aside the question of what he actually believed), dealing with what would be the verifiable facts of his case (not speculations about what supposed delusions he supposedly believed that supposedly led him to commit such a crime), just addressing the hypothetically verifiable facts, I say: Most definitely, that man should go to jail — to await a fair trial.

          Furthermore (because it’s remotely possible that such a man could be as totally confused as he claims to be), for his own protection, he should — and almost certainly would — be kept in his own cell and completely separate from the general population, of prisoners, at all times.

          Jonathan asks, “Does he deserve to be tried in front of a court and put in prison for this episode?”

          Absolutely, he deserves to be tried in front of a court (a real criminal court, not some kangaroo “mental health” court).

          Whether or not he should be put in prison should be left up to the judge, at the time of sentencing.

          If a man such as that pleads ‘insanity,’ then he will not get off any easier; even and especially if he winds up being deemed “not guilty by reason of insanity,” he’ll be totally screwed by the so-called “mental health” system.

          Hypothetical Situation #2

          “…someone is on the street with command hallucinations telling him to break into a house and find a Bible? What should happen if they do that? Prison for breaking and entering?”

          Again, I must say, there’s no way of knowing for certain whether (or to what extent) that person has actually been motivated by ‘hallucinations’ to commit such a crime. There may or may not have been what you (Jonathan) call “command hallucinations” telling that person to commit that crime. But, even if there were such “command hallucinations” being created, in that person’s mind, why should that matter?

          Did that person not know that s/he was committing a crime? Breaking and entering is a crime that most people well understand is a crime; if they commit that crime, they should be ready and willing to be arrested and face a judge (and, ideally, a jury) at a fair trial (i.e., not some in some ‘mh court’ judge, in a ‘trial’ orchestrated by the whims of psychiatrists).

          In response to Jonathan’s question, “Prison for breaking and entering?”

          This hypothetical (case #2) is a non-violent offense and arguably a petty offense (that is, if the only damage done was the theft of a Bible). I am all for mercifully sentencing people who commit such crimes.

          Though I would be much more willing to see that person briefly jailed, awaiting a swift trail, than I would be willing to see that person forcibly “hospitalized,” no way would I wish to see that person sentenced in a way that led to being imprisoned.

          (It’s really a very, very, very different sort of case than case #1.)

          If s/he literally had done nothing but enter someone’s home illegally and take a Bible, and I was aware that a coming verdict in the case could be somewhat harsh, I’d be (and, I presume others would be) quite adamant in calling for mercy…

          Certainly, no prison — maybe parole, including, perhaps, some mandatory non-medical counseling.

          • P.S. — About my recommending non-medical counseling, in my comment, above, please, understand, I would not want any sort of counseling to be forced on anyone, here I am actually suggesting a possible option that’s offered the defense counsel — as opposed to automatically ordering a convicted ‘criminal’ to do prison time; it’s an option, as a way to essentially reduce the severity of sentencing…

          • P.P.S — If such a person was given the option and did choose to receive counseling, I would hope that the counselor could have the good sense to explain to that person (in case #2) something to this effect:

            “Just because someone tells someone to go jump off a cliff, doesn’t mean that person should go jump off a cliff. (We all know this, right?! It’s what our mothers taught us, when we were just kids… Well…) Along those same lines, if a ‘command hallucination’ tells you to break into someone’s home and steal a Bible, that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and do it. (I guess you understand that now.)”

          • Jonathon,

            it appears to me from your situations that one might consider the delusions as mitigating circumstances. That’s not the job of the police to decide. Using mitigating circumstances to sidetrack people into a system where they can be abused much worse than anything in the justice system can not be described as ‘helping’.

            Put them before the courts and hen they may see some form of justice. As it stands there is no real oversight in he MH system and people are being shoved into it to be dealt with in any manner the psychiatrist wishes. And it does end up in abuses with no oversight.

  17. Hi Jonathan,
    First, I would kindly ask you to please point out where in my comment I said that defending vulnerable people is abuse. I’m pretty sure I stated pretty clearly that your argument was akin to that used by abusers. Not quite the same thing. Additionally, when somebody is physically attacking another person, the legally sanctioned “force” is called self-defense. This means you physically remove the person. This does not mean it is ok to inject mind-altering drugs into a person pretty much ensuring that they will act violently again the next time they get upset. You can also remove the person from the situation. This does not mean it is ok to restrain a person to a bed.

    Anyways, I think part of the problem where perhaps you and I disagree is that you seem to believe that there is some distinct “mental illness” that is clearly, objectively, and definitively identifiable that also gives people a pass to act in violent ways. Forgive me if I have misunderstood you. See, I might ask in response to your specific dilemmas a different question. What about the man who believes that he must kill his rival drug dealer in order to maintain respect. For him this means survival. Is he delusional? Or does he deserve to be treated abusively by the prison system? If the answer to that is yes, please do explain further how you make this decision. What about the woman who kills her husband because he cheated. She firmly believes that he had taken her life away, a death in and of itself. Is she delusional? Who gives somebody the right to say that one person deserves abuse while another does not? And why is your person delusional and these 2 individuals not?

    Nobody is arguing that alternatives are not necessary. However, that is irrelevant to this conversation, particularly since it seems that you would sanction using force in these alternatives if the situation called for it. Simply, though, to actually answer your question as to whether or not the people in your scenarios should be tried in a court of law and sent to prison, I say yes. It is unfortunate that when people suffer immense emotional pain and suffering that horrible consequences may follow. But, if we had a prison system where everybody was given the opportunity to heal, work through their emotional pain, and learn new ways of coping with that pain, then that is really where we might start to move forward as a society. But saying that the horrors that exist in prison are somehow justifiable for some, and that the horrors in the hospital are somehow justifiable for some is, quite frankly, terrifying to me.

  18. In support of the notion that coercion causes untold psychological damage I offer the following 2 personal examples:

    UK. I have mentioned the first on MIA before but it is worth mentioning again – my son was first detained under the Mental Health Act, against his wishes and the wishes of his family, by a social worker and a psychiatrist who had never previously met him. A week later, at a hearing arranged by his parents to request his release, his own contribution to the hearing was ‘If you keep me here I will kill myself, if I can go home then I wont’. He had not previously voiced any suicidal ideation.

    The second involves his recent return to the same psych unit to voluntarily visit a friend who had been admitted. My son had just been on holiday, his previously constant ‘voices’ had not been in evidence for over a week, he was calm, controlled and rational, and obviously felt able to visit. He was mistaken. Following the visit his voices returned with a vengeance, he was agitated, visibly distressed, and so dissociated he became ‘Dave’, an apparently dangerous and violent man (according to his heated conversations with voices) who was not to be messed with. It took 2 days of constant, calm reassurance to get him anywhere near as well as he was prior to the visit. A week later the voices that had been absent for over a week prior to the visit are still with us.

    • He was clearly traumatized by the “good professionals”. The only time I attempted suicide for real was in psych ward and only because they tortured me to that point. I have mostly recovers from any issues that I had that brought me to that place except for I still suffer panic attacks because of the “hospital” stay. I still get anxious when I hear an ambulance and triggered by doctors in the most benign circumstances (like blood taking). So much for the “help” they offer.

      Btw, the whole “danger to self and others” was if fact because I rejected a physical exam and the “doctor” “didn’t have time to deal” with me an actual quote. So it makes me angry and amused at the same time when I read Jonathan’s comments on what is and is not legal. There’s no law to protect you against psychiatry. They killed people in that hospital before and there were numerous stories about abuses in it year after year and nothing’s changed.

  19. To AngryDad, Gardenlisa and all, As someone who has heard voices on and off most of my life starting at age 16 and up into my 50’s . I’m 67 years old and for myself after a decades long search (mainly experimenting on myself ) for the root cause the main source of my problems which manifested as (recurring insomnia,sometimes night frights, racing thoughts, ruminating in circles,( periods of euphoria whose duration grew less and less over the years), hearing voices mostly dangling sentences that were annoying , distracting, and not of any help to me, ( I know there are people who hear helpful voices ) seeing vague traces in the air at times, recurring depression which was growing more intense over the years where after sleeplessness I would feel nothing ,this coming on for no apparent reason would hit as if a switch was turned on and sometimes end as if a switch were turned off), the depression so bad that there were times I did not want to live any longer even acted very seriously to end my life but somehow survived . I guess to keep searching and tell someone if I found any lasting solutions to stop the recurring pilotless bobsled ride I was on.I was curious on even a cosmic level to understand why this was happening to me and watched myself while this phenomena all went on, so much of it with no apparent rhyme or reason. At some point I realized psychiatry was making things worse and I understood that they had at their fingertips techniques of torture they could escalate without end and without a qualm . Although for short time use a small dose of their poison could help but I still am shocked how when I begged them for something to help me sleep all those years they only offered me benadryl which was an anti histamine that could be bought over the counter . They said consistently sleeping pills are too dangerous but were happy to prescribe for me over the years Thorazine , stelazine ,arcane, cogentin, lithium, and halidol at various times. Not to speak of electro-shock and other of their experimental tortures. The only one I ever took for more then 3 months at a time was halidol and mostly 2mg. a day which I always shaved to the least amount possible .
    Finally a relative when I had nothing to help me sleep gave me a tab of lorzapam 1 mg. to try after 2 and a half days of no sleep and I was able to sleep. Again for 2 more nights and I was able to stay out of the hospital . I had a new emergency tool.
    Over the years I found many alternative safe tools and modalities which kept me alive as I searched for the main root cause.( Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Energy Healing( yoga, walking, mineral baths, supplements, herbs, meditation and more were great help to me. In my case the root cause was mercury poisoning from 15 dental amalgams.Real Solution> Hal Huggins advanced dentistry. The last trace of voice hearing disappeared when an apparently healthy upper right back molar (the only tooth I had left on top) was removed pus found under it removed surprising even the advanced dentist in that the tooth appeared fine after modern equipment panoramic X-ray did not show the problem. None of all the problems I mentioned above remain. And I remain drug free. I spent a lot of decades searching to arrive where I am. I hope the info is useful to others. After all ,over 70 percent of the population in just the US have some mercury from amalgam in their mouths (which is in close proximity to the brain.) I read years ago that one in six people have great difficulty excreting mercury from their body . What about the other metals and materials used by regular dentists . Research , they are no more trustworthy then psychiatrists <the worst, or medical doctors (for anything outside of physical trauma). I've had much free time and decades to research financed by social security disability and now social security straight up. Take advantage of this heads up from one who sees there is much pseudo science to crush wherever it appears and in our "civilization" it's all over the place for profit .How many deadly substances unleashed upon us, most slow acting over time that are designed to appear "harmless" as they accumulate in our bodies over time?. Each of us affected by them to varying degrees and each of us having different tipping points and varying places within our bodies where corporate formulated poisons begin to accumulate and manifest discomforts on various levels . So many drugs leave there victim constipated as poisons accumulate within.
    Use the 9 herb formula ( mentioned in my previous comment), make an extract if necessary for extreme states . The tea is good for everyone. The hot mineral bath (as mentioned in my previous comment ) taken when niacin starts to turn the skin red and itches , rub down with luffa . Marvelous for extreme state . All voluntary. ( I worry if when people start to find these strategies work the evil psych juggernaut and medical dental, will make the needed items unavailable cause if widely used their profits would be reduced and we know how tyrants behave when thwarted.
    Best Wishes , Fred

    • Thanks Fred, fascinating info. I have my own suspicions in line with your sentiments around accumulative levels of unknown toxins.

      I read about an outbreak of ‘schizophrenia’ that occurred in North Wales just over a century ago that turned out to be as a result of high levels of lead in drinking water. My son has no metal fillings (and I had mine replaced) and I can’t think of any other obvious concerns, but I am now wondering about our 30m water supply pipe from the mains – it would have originally been lead as the house was built in 1870. I’m considering digging up the garden to check if it was replaced in its entirety – yes I’m serious.

  20. I’ve been using a 9 stage water filter from Enviro for over 30 years but now after realizing whats dumped into the water supply in the USA and reading what Traditional Naturopaths are saying I am in the process of researching what is the best quality water distiller that I might be able to save for and afford. Also trying to by organic produce from local farmers when available and researching what options for growing my own organically are possible . Richard Schultz ND ( says that if your worried that distilled water has not enough minerals just eat an additional almond a day and your covered .
    See Dan Burdick’s comments under Craig B. Wiener, Ed.D his post ” Are We Discovering More ADHD ?” currently on the front page here at MIA .

  21. Funny that being against human rights violations is “extreme”. No more extreme than being against murder or rape. Or death penalty which is state sanctioned murder for that matter. One would think the Western civilisation has had this conversation before and came up on the side of human rights… on paper only.

  22. In Switzerland, the government has last year apologized hypocritical what happened in the psychiatric institutions till 1981. He could do it, because the perpetrators have passed away. As a witness of the period 1981 till now, I can clearly confirm, that nothing at all has changed: The victims are still literally deprived of all human rights. New studies about mortality show desaturases quantities of dead. It is already now for sure, that after the actual nomenclature will be in the graves, their successors will have to apologize again, if not as exposed – hopefully – this actual scourge of humanity is completely abolished.

  23. Is it possible to abolish coercive treatment? «Germany without Coercive Treatment in Psychiatry—A 15 Month Real World Experience» shows that it is possible to abolish forced treatmen and considerable improvements are possible. The rate of inpasients under coersive medication fall to one tenth i. e. under 0.5 %.
    See Martin Zinkler. Laws 2016, 5(1), 15; doi:10.3390/laws501001 Germany without Coercive Treatment in Psychiatry—A 15 Month Real World Experience: