“Are There Ways To Lessen The Violation That People Feel After Psychiatric Hospitalizations?”

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On Shrink Rap, psychiatrist Dinah Miller, who is working on a book called Committed: The Battle Over Forced Psychiatric Care, discusses some of the discomforts people have with being forcibly treated in psychiatric hospitals. Miller asks readers if there might be ways to improve patients’ feelings — like giving them pizza or cake.

“This is what I wonder. Would it help to have an exit interview?” writes Miller. “To listen to what of the treatment made patients suffer. To listen, not to throw in people’s faces that it had to be done because they were embarrassingly out of control, but to acknowledge that the treatment was difficult, hard to endure at times, and to simply validate the distress the patient felt without the assignment of blame to either party?”

Miller also wonders if having little celebratory parties might improve the situation. “So would it help when people left a psychiatric hospital feeling badly, violated perhaps, and certainly shamed because this is something we hear over and over even if the patient did nothing shameful at all, if we listened?” she writes. “What if we acknowledged how difficult it can be to get treatment and participate in it, to let people know what a tremendous job they’ve done in getting through such a difficult time (even if it wasn’t all graceful)? Would it help to have a celebration when someone was discharged –even if just pizza or cake or something a little healthier, but to bring in family and print up a certificate to be read aloud and not make this all about shame?”

Are There Ways To Lessen The Violation That People Feel After Psychiatric Hospitalizations? (Shrink Rap, February 21, 2015)

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30 COMMENTS

  1. I have a great idea that’s going to work 100%: close the damn places down and stop locking people up for feeling unhappy. The same way you “lessen the violation that people feel” after rape, assault or other kinds of abuse: stop f***ing doing it.

    • Yes, B, isn’t this ridiculous? But it shows how ignorant and unprofessional psychiatry is–they want to make themselves feel better about being abusers.

      A farewell party from involuntary internment in the psych ward? Duh.

      Did you know that it is only the very bottom achievers in medical school who go into psychiatry? Or is it obvious?

  2. “some of the discomforts people have with being forcibly treated in psychiatric hospitals. Miller asks readers if there might be ways to improve patients’ feelings — like giving them pizza or cake.”

    Btw, there’s so much to this that makes me speechless (maybe because I don’t know adequate swear words):

    – “discomforts” – seriously?
    – “like giving them pizza or cake.” sure, after you rape someone you just take them out for candy and it’s all mended, right?

    Btw, the last strategy is actually straight from Guantanamo and other places where they interrogated and tortured people. First they did all kinds of abuse to you and then they had a “good cop” give you coffee and be nice to you. I bet it would work just as well as with the “terrorists” – they will smile and nod and come back to blow the place up on first occasion (and I’m not going to blame them for it).

    Inmates are running the asylum.

    • The “Inmates are running the asylum,” I completely agree, B.

      My forced hospitalization was the exact opposite of what this deluded psychiatrist claims forced hospitalizations are about. I was not a criminal, nor was I a danger to myself or others, except doctors paranoid of possible legitimate malpractice suits. I was a well insured suburban stay at home mom and active volunteer. I suffered from a sleep walking / talking issue one night, likely due to what’s now known to be drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity mania.

      I was dragged out of the comfort of my own bed, by five paramedics, while the sixth one told the other five that what they were doing was illegal, since I was neither a danger to myself, nor anyone else. I’d explained my dream and said I’d just go back to sleep.

      I was taken to a hospital that was no longer covered by my new insurance group. I had switched insurance groups upon the recommendation of a doctor who was so embarrassed by the blatantly obvious prior malpractice that he didn’t even want to be our family physician, nor did he consider it safe for my family to continue to receive medical services within that medical group. No doubt, due to the “White Wall of Silence.”

      This hospital, that wanted to cover up a confessed “Foul up” by a doctor who worked through it, inexplicably put me on a hypnotic drug. Then shipped me a very long distance to a Dr. V R Kuchipudi. Here’s his arrest warrant for having lots of patients medically unnecessarily shipped to him, and his subsequent maltreatment of them:

      http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CDMQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.justice.gov%2Fusao%2Filn%2Fpr%2Fchicago%2F2013%2Fpr0416_01a.pdf&ei=cz_-VJOmD8KdygTkk4KIBA&usg=AFQjCNFZUC8OxCVtnXcVlirFEgjgYoUTTA&bvm=bv.87611401,d.aWw

      According to the court documents and medical records, I was not given my day in court regarding this forced psychiatric “snowing” at Advocate Good Samaritan hospital in Downers Grove, IL. The hospital employees had forged my signature on the voluntary admission forms instead.

      Thankfully at least, I was not subjected to the unneeded tracheotomy for the fictitious “chronic airway obstruction” that, according to the medical records, I was supposedly initially admitted for.

      But the psychiatric industry does break the HIPPA laws, to illegally get information, then claim “chronic airway obstructions” magically turn into “mental illnesses” that require drugging until only the whites of the eyes show.

      No, pizza or cake wouldn’t be the appropriate repentance for these appalling crimes committed against me, and all Kuchipudi’s other patients. Doctors and hospitals have malpractice insurance for a reason. And it’s possible God warned of an eternal damnation, and Dante warned the hypocrites would be going to the lowest depths of it, for a reason, too.

      The inmates are running the asylums.

  3. Pure anger was my reaction to this appalling suggestion.

    It’s patronising, insulting and somehow looking for ways to make shrinks feel better about having horribly abused people.

    The suggestions have NOTHING to do with patient experience or validation and EVERYTHING to do with absolving psychiatrists and justifying psychiatric torture….and that they’re using patients as a tool in their own destruction and then trying to make them feel good about it, is just plain evil.

    How about…given that you feel a little bad that people don’t like and/or are destroyed by forced incarceration and drugging….you just STOP DOING IT!!!

    Talk to the patient BEFORE not after the event.

  4. Given the frequent analogy that survivors make between enforced “treatment” and rape, I am forced to ask the following: Is it helpful to a rape victim to debrief with a caring professional after the fact? What about debriefing with the rapist or his/her associate?

    Wouldn’t it perhaps be better to do something to help the person that doesn’t involve a forced violation of his/her bodily integrity?

    Just a silly thought…

    — Steve

  5. oh…my…god… Like it’s no real big deal. Like a person like me hasn’t suffered so much trauma from that shit in the past, that literally not a day goes by that something doesn’t remind me of it or it doesn’t pop in my head and cause me to ruminate with feelings of despair… the feeling of living in an atrocious world of injustice and a society so ultimately blind to it. Honestly feeling like a jew in the holocaust… but if you do it to me again, I guess some cake or pizza would make it O.K.? Like it’s no real big deal to them. Like a silly kid who just doesn’t want to take “medicine” cause it’s “icky”… they obviously do not take the atrocity they are responsible for seriously at all.

  6. Wow. “Empathic failure” doesn’t even begin to describe this. Trying to get our perspective heard seems to be a lost cause, if this is the best they can come up with in terms of ‘alleviating suffering.’ How about if we scrap the whole thing and start all over again? I hear there’s some really good healing going on in the world, but not here, no way. Beyond ludicrous.

  7. I think what is so perplexing is that she thinks this would actually help. If she cannot even handle the negative experiences of those who have been hospitalized, how does she think that the staff are going to respond when patients express their feelings. Supposedly this would be a time when patients who felt victimized and traumatized could process their feelings and get a certificate of accomplishment or something, yet when people on her blog express how hospitalization felt to them she shuts it down. She responds with comments like not everyone experiences hospitalization this way and says that those who compare it to violence aren’t going to be taken seriously, yet supposedly her whole idea is to help people who DID experience hospitalization as traumatic? It’s all very confusing.

    I liken her idea to domestic violence where the person who abuses comes back later with flowers. Cake isn’t going to make it better. Processing the impact of psychiatric hospitalization with staff who not only aren’t going to listen but will defend their practices isn’t going to make it better, either.

    • “I liken her idea to domestic violence where the person who abuses comes back later with flowers. ”

      Oh that’s such a good analogy. “I’m sorry honey that I broke your ribs but I really care about you and it was all for your own good – you’re such an unreasonable woman and you have to learn how to cook better”.

      I seriously don’t know what to say to people like Ms Miller. Maybe had she experienced this kind of abuse herself something would have clicked. Otherwise I don’t think she’s capable of understanding. The sad part is that such people are serving as “mental health professionals” which they clearly should have no business doing.

  8. Dr Miller wonders how rape victims and victims of torture would feel to have their experiences compared to the trauma described by people who have been um, traumatized by forced psych hospitalization. Well, doc, let us not forget that plenty of those people are the same people. There are plenty of people traumatized by hospital because it can be traumatizing and plenty of others who are re-traumatized by it because it opens up their earlier traumas of rape, child sexual abuse, torture ( do you call being a child prostitute torture? I do), war trauma, etc.
    It is tough being a Jersey girl living the life in Baltimore and seeing patients who have insurance and complaining about forms and writing really poorly written stuff, and I do know you have your share of life’s pain but try to get with the program.

    • You’re right. I have a history of sexual abuse, and I found being forced to remove all my clothing by a psychiatric nurse to be a re-creation of past abuse. I see it no differently. I begged to keep my clothes on in both situations. My feelings and wishes were completely disregarded in both situations. I had flashbacks and panic attacks after both situations. The fact that she cannot see how forced treatment is another assault on a person’s body just shows how clueless she is.

      I was actually going to read her book until her recent response. I thought she might present the other side, but she is incapable. She asked for input from people who had been hospitalized, and when people don’t give her the response she wants she has a melt down. I won’t be reading her book.

    • Non-consensual psychiatry is a lot like non-consensual sex. I think the only way a person could deny this statement is by not giving the matter any thought. Coercion always involves forcing a person to do what he or she would not ordinarily do. Whatever both of them don’t have in common, that thing isn’t consent. Forced psychiatry also amounts to torture, if unacknowledged by the authorities, and other groups supposedly in the social justice business. And, of course, as you point out, many victims of psychiatry are victims of other crimes as well. In fact, the mental health system is notorious for dismissing the claims of its victims, and excusing their abusers with little more than a knuckle rapping, if they even get that.

  9. I work in a state hospital. The attitude that this psychiatrist exhibits towards people who don’t agree with her pie in the sky attitude about forced treatment is exactly what I deal with on a daily basis from almost every last staff person where I work. She’s indignant, arrogant, ignorant, and absolutely clueless. It strikes me that she feels as if those of us harmed by the system should feel grateful for the abuse, after all, it was done to us for our own good. It doesn’t matter how much coercion and lack of respect we’ve endured at the hands of psychiatry, how dare us be upset! We have absolutely no right to be angry and ungrateful! So what if the drugs are toxic and are detrimental to our physical and emotional and psychological health; all we need to do is shut up and let them poke the pills down our throats at their will. So what if no one on the staff took the time to listen to our story and to see how it might influence what happened to us so that we ended up in their “care” in the first place. Our stories are not of any importance and besides, you know that we can’t be trusted since we always lie anyway and are always trying to manipulate to get what we want.

    I was once a “patient” in this very hospital so I remember how certain nurses, social workers, and psychiatrists treated me on a daily basis during the time I was held in that “hospital”. Now I work alongside these very same people and it’s quite interesting. Many of them avoid me as if they’re afraid that I’m going to bring up certain incidents from my stay that involved them. Many have the attitude exhibited by this author. What they remind me of is that little statue of the three monkeys; “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil”, you know, the one where one monkey has eyes covered, the next has the hears covered, and the last has the hand over its mouth. They know what they’re doing is wrong but they sit there with their eyes, ears, and mouth covered and pretend that what we endure at their hands is “good treatment”. I know that they know, but they do everything within their power to deny the wrongness of what they’re participating in on a daily basis, 24/7. They try to pretend that they’re clueless.

    • I think the reason they can’t handle when pts talkabout the harm of forced treatment is that they are made to think about the implications of their actions. They can’t handle that. If they can minimize the feelings of patients who have been forcibly treated and/or blame it on the pt’s mental illness then they are free of responsibility – pretty convenient. I cannot imagine working in a job where I caused this kind of pain.

      • I totally agree! The more upset they are, the more you know that they’ve done some things they’re not proud of and are afraid on some level will come out. Not consciously, mind you, as they’ll mostly assure you that NOTHING like this EVER happens in THEIR facility. That denial is essential for them to continue to feel OK about doing their jobs, even though deep down they don’t really feel OK about it at all.

        Then there are the psychopathic ones…

    • Stephen,

      If there was a rating system for posts on this site, I would give you an A+ for your remarks. You nailed the situation precisely with Dinah.

      What happens consistently is people (I am guilty too) fall for her plea for honest feedback about hospitalizations. But when it isn’t what she wants to hear, then she accuses folks of vitriol and being evil antispsychiatrists and then starts moderating comments. This pattern has constantly repeated itself on her blog.

      Pretty sad.

  10. The way to lessen the violation people feel after psychiatric hospitalization is not to violate by hospitalizing them against their will and wishes in the first place. End forced hospitalization, actual imprisonment by another name, and you’ve lessened the very real violation, and the shame associated with it, to a great degree.

    As I’ve pointed out, if you end forced psychiatry, all psychiatry becomes an alternative to what is now endured by patient/inmates. If we’re speaking alternatives to force, there is no alternative like abolition. Abolition wipes reform off the table. Rather than a loophole around the law, we need the law applied equally. We need the law to prosecute perpetrators of psychiatric assault, too. Get rid of mental health law, and abduction and assault are become the crimes they always were, even for state officials.

    Who needs a ceremony with a certificate? I still got my walking (discharge) papers from my last hospitalization on file, and I’ve even considered framing them. I’m not clinging to the system. I’m not nostalgic. Actually, I’ve got enough cause to celebrate in being free of all psycho-tortures. It’s this freedom that suits me. I can honestly say, with no sense of irony intended, good riddance psychiatry. You won’t be missed.