“How was Your Stay in a Psychiatric Hospital?”


Shrink Rap psychiatrist Dinah Miller writes about comments that appeared on her blog and at Mad in America in response to her post on how to reduce the violation some people feel during involuntary treatment. “I’m sorry this blog post turned out to be so polarizing,” Miller writes. “No one has ever called me ‘evil’ before.”

Miller’s article “Are There Ways To Lessen The Violation That People Feel After Psychiatric Hospitalizations?” was previously reported on by Mad in America.

“I thought the responses were polarizing, while commenters here and at Mad in America complained that I was lacking empathy, defensive, and just plain evil, Psychiatric Times deemed it one of the top 6 articles on psychiatry for the month!” writes Miller.

“I realize that some people who are involuntarily hospitalized are terribly traumatized,” adds Miller. “I don’t think psychiatrists see that and I think if it were figured into the equation, maybe less people would be involuntarily hospitalized(.)”

Miller, who is working on a book about involuntary treatment, has since posted two more articles on related themes, “How Was Your Stay in a Psychiatric Hospital? — Please Take My Survey: 5 quick questions” and “What Adds Value to Mental Health Care? Looking for Your input…”

Responding to the reaction to Are There Ways To Lessen The Violation That People Feel After Psychiatric Hospitalizations? Polarized responses! (Shrink Rap, March 10, 2015)

How Was Your Stay in a Psychiatric Hospital? — Please Take My Survey: 5 quick questions (Shrink Rap, March 15, 2015)

What Adds Value to Mental Health Care? Looking for Your input… (Shrink Rap, March 30, 2015)


  1. …..I realize that some people who are involuntarily hospitalized are terribly traumatized,” adds Miller. “I don’t think psychiatrists see that

    Perhaps they don’t but it comes across as that they are indifferent to the suffering they are a party to. If they are in fact blind to this it could be a form of tunnel vision that the pharmaceutical industry has shaped into them in order to focus first on the profitable path to treatment.

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    • “Don’t see” doesn’t explain it. I don’t think there is one of them that didn’t have “patients” coming back and throwing hurt and anger back at them. They choose to ignore it or rationalize it. It’s willful ignorance at best.

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  2. Hospitals are for physically ill people who want medical treatment. The place is not a hospital, it is a prison.

    If the person can not leave, that is called a prison.

    From the start it is a lie if they call it a hospital.

    Then those in the prison-that-is-not-a-prison must consume the NEW GOD of the holy magical chemical. Praise the Holy molecule. Then the prisoner gets their freedom.

    used to go to large objects, now it goes to the tiniest of objects, the molecule.


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  3. I knew I was drinking too much and it was making my anxiety and insomnia worse and worse so I went to a real hospital voluntarily and was then transported to a UHS psychiatric ‘hospital’. I was sober and in withdrawal. I wanted help.

    At the UHS ‘hospital’ I was strip searched and told to squat and cough. When I objected to squat and cough I was told ‘things can get rough around here’ in a threatening manner.

    The next day I find I am prescribed a massive amount brain disabling drugs, Haldol, Trileptal , and 800 mg Seroquel. I tell them hold on this is to much 25mg of Seroquel puts me to sleep 800 is too much and dangerous and mixing it up with Haldol , Trileptal (a drug I never took before) is not safe and I know the effects of this massive dose will feel like hell even if I survive it so no thanks. I was not offered detox medication.

    You need to take these pills or you will be injected I am told. That’s right I am told they would use violence against me and just rape me with a needle.

    My Reaction to this I later find out is charted as ‘agitation’ and ‘rapid speech’ and used as proof I needed more abuse from that doctor and all those soulless psychos.

    I continued to refuse that pill overdose out of self preservation and made a few threats of my own by reminding them that some time in the future I will be outside that ‘hospital’ on the street with them on even ground away from there panic buttons and Haldol needles where we could discuss how they are treating me .

    I cant really describe with words what its like to be faced with the choice of voluntarily ingesting a pill overdose or being violently drug raped with a needle. I continued to refuse the pill overdose and the drug rape never came but the whole ordeal was a month long and very traumatizing. I then got a bill for this.

    In the hospital I decided that if I was drug raped I would find that ‘doctor’ on the street after it was all over and physically hurt him and do the jail time for assault. No one is allowed to treat me that way or needle rape me and get away with it.

    Anyway it was this ordeal that lead me to writing on MIA and speaking out about psychiatry.

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  4. The fact that psychiatrists or their subordinates could in any way not notice or epathetically respond to the distress and fear their patients experience is the biggest indicator of what is wrong with the system. Professionals are trained and encouraged to act without empathy for their patients. If they were truly empathetic, they’d get the feedback on the spot and make the needed changes. I’ve worked with a huge range of people with all kinds of diagnoses, and can count on one hand the number who were unable to feel some kind of safe connection with me, enough that they felt calmer and more in control by the end of the conversation. This includes frankly psychotic people and some who were extremely aggressive and hostile to begin with. Sometimes the feedback is not verbalized, but the information is almost always right there in front of your eyes. The main reason professionals don’t get to hear this feedback is because they really are not listening. When you respond in a non-judgmental way to that feedback, the client feels more in control and feels like you care about them. In fact, the best way to give the client the impression you care about him/her is to actually care about him/her.

    Any “treatment” that does not start and end with empathy and honest communication, including the humility to accept both verbal and non-verbal feedback from patients/clients, will be traumatizing. It’s kinda that simple.

    — Steve

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  5. I just wondered does a psychiatrist that can conceive of this title for an article (How was Your Stay in a Psychiatric Hospital ?) deserve a shot to star in a remake of the movie ” dumb and dumber” ? Or did their morning self affirmations in front of the bathroom mirror…..” I am not a Gestapo Officer”….”I am not a Gestapo Officer”…”I am not a Gestapo Officer”….really take?

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  6. We have to give Dr. Miller credit for realizing that people are traumatized by the system. How can we get her to realize that involuntary commitment is simply wrong?

    Invite her to experience it from the side of the committed?

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    • ewwilder

      Exactly. Say one week 24/7 behind the locked doors without keys or a badge to get out with. That should give her a good dose of reality. And of course, along with her little stay, she needs some drugs to make the experience as true to form as possible, maybe a good drug cocktail of two or three neuroleptics, an antidepressant or two, a benzo for good measure, and probably a sleeping pill like Sonata or something along that line. And of course, she needs to be on a unit where they lock the bathrooms, for “patient safety” of course, so that she has to beg and wait on someone else to let her use the facilities. I think I’d better stop here since I’m enjoying this little fantasy exercise just a little bit too much!

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      • I’d add some restraints there to and being forced to pee and shit under herself while tied to the bed and maybe some force feeding for good measure should she try to escape the torture by starving herself. Oh, and naked searches in front of male and female staff and sometimes other patients, why not?

        It makes me sick to even think about it. Talk to me about “lack of insight”.

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  7. “Psychiatric Times deemed it one of the top 6 articles on psychiatry for the month!”

    Surprise, surprise… While the so called “consumers” call you evil the co-perpetrators praise you. What does that mean? Someone here is seriously out of touch not to say “lacking insight”.

    But maybe she’s getting there – at least she’s asking the question. Most of the people in her profession don’t give a flying f***.

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    • “I wonder if it wouldn’t upset the victims of war torture, rape, and kidnapping, to have their experience compared to being in the hospital where people presumably are at least trying to help them?”

      Nope, she’s not getting anywhere. How on earth torturing someone and them telling him/her it was for his/her own good is BETTER?

      “I think some people shut down when they hear someone compare treatment to torture — there are those who will stop listening and discount their opinions.”

      Yeah – the people who commit torture. Hard to take a look into the mirror and see the ugly, isn’t it? It’s easier to blame the victim for being “polarizing”. Wow…

      “I was thinking some about the comparison to being raped — -what could be worse than being raped and having someone tell you it didn’t happen or wasn’t that bad? Might it help to be heard and have your violation acknowledged?”

      By the RAPIST? Seriously? And that by the unrepentant rapist who you know will do it again, if not to you then to others with impunity. Are you *** kidding me?

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  8. 8 hospitalizations

    1) 2 months – 15 years old
    2) 1 week – 15 years old
    3) 3 days – 19 years old
    4) 1 week – 29 years old
    5) 1 week – 31 years old
    6) 1 month – 32 years old
    7) 1 week – 32 years old
    8) 1 week – 38 years old

    In the first hospitalization I learned by getting my ass kicked that you are NOT allowed to talk about your problems (specifically, sexual abuse). I learned suppression and brainwash, and control by drugging.

    In the second hospitalization I learned that psychiatric detention is imprisonment and punishment.

    In the third hospitalization I learned that staff could do absolutely nothing for me, my troubles and my sufferings.

    In the fourth hospitalization I learned the idiocy of staff as they failed to recognize me.

    In the fifth hospitalization I learned the sadism of a wholly ignorant nurse.

    In the sixth hospitalization I learned the horrors of both the ill and the staff, and the mindlessness of drugging. Note: I also learned the backwards morals that psychiatric detention is more business, less care.

    In the seventh hospitalization I learned that my dire ill-health would forever go unrecognized, uncared for and untreated.

    In the eighth hospitalization I ascertained my eternal nightmare.

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