Losing Our Minds to ‘Science’: Treatment Survivors Speak Out Against the Murphy Bill (H.R. 2646)


If you’re confused about Murphy’s law (H.R. 2646), and wondering why so many advocates with lived experience think it is such a bad idea, here is the basic concept:

Less than two months ago, the New York Times published an article entitled “Antidepressant Paxil Is Unsafe for Teenagers, New Analysis Says” (9/16/15).  Only 2 weeks ago, the New York Times reported a ‘landmark’ study announcing ‘Therapy Found to Ease Schizophrenia’ (B. Carey  10/20/15).

None of this is news to those of us with lived experience.  We have known for years that the medical treatments (chemicals, ECT, TMS, psychosurgery) rarely work as well as prescribers and Pharmaceutical companies insist they do (pretense of research notwithstanding).  We have also known for years that talking (especially the mutually respectful human-rights-informed kind of talking that is the purview of peer support) can make all the difference — even across seemingly unfathomable realities.

It therefore is more than a little ironic — as well as quite painful — that it has taken this long for the top minds of science to catch up with those of us who feel like we lost our minds to this same ‘science.’  The reality for many of us is that our lives and well-being have been profoundly affected – not only by bad science, but also by the extremely good marketing of pharmaceutical companies and prescribers.  Every day, those of us on the ‘wrong’ side of the locks are told by well-meaning mental health professionals that we must be honest and ‘face the facts’ if we ever hope to regain a place in the human community. Yet, when we are honest – and honestly try to report our experience that treatment as usual is doing us more harm than good — all too often we are ignored, dismissed and cautioned that this is our ‘illness’ and ‘denial.’

The result is a mental health system that many of us do not trust to operate in good faith.  The public may think we are irrational, in denial, or that we have lost touch with reality.  But in our eyes this is an equally valid critique of the current provider system.  It is also a valid – and painful – critique of many of our families, neighbors, teachers, employers and communities, which all too often uncritically accept everything that the professionals say.

The Murphy bills highlight this discrepancy and add fuel to the fire.  For those of us who have been labeled by medical model psychiatry, it is frightening to watch the wolf of social prejudice being cloaked in the guise of mental health reform.  The evidence supporting the connection between victimization, violation and subsequent mental health diagnosis is undeniable.  Up to 90% of us in the public mental health system are trauma survivors.  Yet, in the most violent nation in the world, we watch committee rooms full of elected officials with no gumption for gun control listen spellbound to an endless parade of supposed experts who ‘know’ that ‘the mentally ill’ must ‘face facts’ and ‘take medicine’ in order to protect the public at large.  No matter what our life stories, no matter what we have endured, these experts always insist that our problem is a ‘brain’ problem that their drugs will fix.  Moreover, no matter how incapacitated or uncomfortable these chemicals make us, these same experts are always certain that the solution is to take more of them.

As if it couldn’t get any worse: there are not one, but two Murphy bills in Congress.  Both of them propose to elevate the authority of institutional psychiatry to a level never before seen in modern society.  In effect, this creates a situation where:

  • The same people who  invented the labels get paid a) to assign them, and b) to decide what individuals have to do in order to manage or get rid of them.
  • The same companies that use psychiatry to promote their products (e.g, drugs, ECT, TMS, etc) fund the same research and research programs that say how great their products are.

This is fiscally and socially irresponsible. Is is also tantamount to corporate welfare.  It is like making a private business the exclusive monitor-reporter of how effective and safe its products are, and how much its customers love or benefit from them, and then also setting up a reimbursement system where every time the business gives itself a rave review, the government gives it more funding — from taxpayer dollars.  In sum, the Murphy Bills are a prescription for fraud and self-promotion.  Even worse, this is at the expense of real people and real families, with real distress and real crises, who need — and deserve — real support.

To make this a bit more concrete, a friend reported that the public agency where he receives care recently billed Medicare $120 for a routine visit with his psychiatrist.  The visit basically amounted to the psychiatrist meeting with him for 5 minutes, asking a few rudimentary questions, and pushing a button to print a repeat prescription for the multiple drugs he is taking at the psychiatrist’s direction.  These are drugs that he worries are damaging his health and would like help to withdraw from.  Yet, every time he asks his psychiatrist about this he gets responses like ‘you’re not ready yet’ or ‘let’s discuss this next month’ or ‘we can go down on this drug, but you will have to go up on another one.’   The unwillingness to work with him on his simple, straight-forward request increases his distrust of professionals and the service system overall, creating added stress and doing nothing for his mental health.

From my conversations with many in consumer-survivor advocacy groups, I know that my friend’s situation is fairly common.  Huge numbers of us want something different than what the medical model is offering.  Yet, there are few options.

The omission extends to even the most obvious option of offering ‘care’ that actually looks and feels like someone ‘caring.’  This has far more to do with getting a meaningful human response than with ‘science,’ ‘medicine,’ doctors, ambulances, ERs or health techs.  Mostly, it just takes time and effort from someone who is willing to make time and effort.  What most of us want is basic human courtesy – not rocket science. Things like a sincere attempt to:

  • Listen
  • Understand our values and point of view – even if you don’t share them, even if our reality is not your reality (if Republicans and Democrats can talk with each other, so can earthlings and martians…)
  • Help us to address the things we see as the problem.

In other words, pretty much what any human being in a difficult situation would want from others of conscience and good will.  In a truly free market, this is the kind of ‘healthcare’ we would buy or want paid for on our behalf.
Another kind of thing that would interest many of us is practical hands-on support with the very real problems of living that so many of us are facing.  The vast majority of us are far less interested in our so-called ‘chemical imbalances,’ and far more interested in managing the stress of ongoing real-life concerns like:

  • material and emotional safety
  • finances
  • housing
  • employment
  • education
  • relationships
  • social exclusion
  • bullying
  • prejudice and discrimination.

Sadly, the virtual stranglehold of Pharma and the medical model on public mental health funding has largely prevented Americans from exploring this direction of support.  To us, however, it seems a far more promising avenue than the treatment as usual we have experienced.  With the same investment of public funds, people in distress could be buying goods and services that tangibly improve our subjective experience and quality of living.  This includes things like:

  • The stable housing necessary to feel safe and reasonably comfortable
  • The transportation, internet and phone services needed to access employment opportunities, community services and natural supports
  • The healthy food necessary to nourish minds and bodies;
  • A decent bed to sleep on
  • Physical and wellness supports like gym memberships, body work, artistic and creative outlets,
  • Personal assistance for daily tasks like housekeeping, personal hygiene, or meal preparation when these become overwhelming
  • Education and training to improve our options

To put this another way, a single day of inpatient care typically runs between $300 and $1000 per day.  Outpatient care with drugs can easily run that much a month. What family’s wellness wouldn’t improve if they had access to that kind of financial support?  Families in poverty — a high risk for diagnosis — could afford basic life necessities, thereby alleviating a key threat to biopsychosocial well being.  Even better, parents could afford time off from work to be with kids who need them. They could even occasionally afford outside care to get a needed break for themselves.

In the final analysis, there is a lot of lip service being paid by Murphy supporters to the idea of comprehensive mental health reform.  If that is really the honest intent, however, the time is long overdue for real reform.  And to do that, providers, researchers, politicians and the general public need to face these hard facts:

  • The medical model system of mental healthcare in the United States is seriously broken.
  • It fails to materially improve the lives of huge numbers of people for whom it bills for services.
  • It leaves far too many of us worse instead of better off when American families turn to it in their hours of greatest need.

Moreover, to materially improve, this system cannot rely on itself — or its own self-evaluation. We have had over a century of this already.  A lot of us have attended those meetings.  They’re no more productive than watching a bunch of drunks sit around the bar blaming the rest of the world for not recovering.  (Here’s a tip:  It’s your illness speaking!)

Legitimate science requires honest inquiry.  Honest inquiry means listening to critics and taking their criticism seriously.  It also means listening to people who are in a position to know what is really going on.  What is really going on has nothing to do with the opinions of providers and marketers.  These are the people who sell the products.  They get to go home at night whether or not the products work as represented.

To know what is really going on, you have to talk with the service recipients/ survivors/ ex-patients.  We are the people who have actually experienced what the products deliver.  We can tell you what really worked and what didn’t.  But you have to really want to know.  The provider system usually doesn’t.  It is far too invested in what it is already doing — and in what insurers and governments will pay for —  to give much credence to what its actual service recipients have to say.

When it gets right down to it, what we have to say is pretty simple:  Some people like the products of the current system, and report benefitting from them.  However, huge numbers of us don’t.  We see medical model products and services — at the very least — as less helpful than they should be, given the huge investment of time, money, and faith that they receive.  After trillions of dollars of research there still is no proof of the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory. The former director of the NIMH, Thomas Insel, literally threw out the DSM and told medical psychiatry to start over.  Said Insel, in his famous admission of the DSM’s “lack of validity”:  “[W]e cannot design a system based on biomarkers or cognitive performance because we lack the data.”

Beyond this, the espoused ethic of ‘do no harm’ notwithstanding, huge numbers of people report that the current system has outright injured, traumatized and debilitated them.  For those of us in this group, we are offended that Congress is seriously thinking about mandating citizens into a system we have experienced as harmful, unethical and very, very broken.  We are outraged that elected representatives have advanced a bill that would silence dissent, defund alternatives, and prevent advocates from assisting those who want to hold it accountable.

There are literally hundreds of groups — online, telephone, face-to-face — representing thousands of people, who are upset with and seeking alternatives to conventional mental health services.  In these groups, every day, new people show up with fresh accounts of iatrogenic harm.  Together we bear witness to the damage, support each other (like the system should), and work to recover the lives that were stolen from us – ostensibly in the name of treatment but more likely to profit organizations, corporations and guild interests.

In this regard, we are furious to see our Government not only abdicate its oversight role (it has done that for years), but actually delegate it away so irresponsibly.  Families who enter the mental health system are at their most vulnerable, overwhelmed and desperate.  As a rule they have few resources and extremely high needs.  In these circumstances, the Government should be taking an active role in scrutinizing providers and the services and products they promote.  It should be protecting families from discrimination, misrepresentation, coercion and exploitation.  It should be validating the experiences of service recipients, learning from them, and using this to educate and improve outcomes for those to follow.  It should be actively gathering and investigating consumer reports that don’t match the study data.  It should be mandating a quality of services that truly free people in a truly free market would freely and meaningfully choose.

But that is not how things work today.  Mad people know this and have been voicing this truth for decades.

But nothing will change as long as people like you — families, friends, neighbors, educators, employers, public servants — continue (like the provider system) to not listen. The fact that you ignore us doesn’t make our experiences or what we are reporting any less real. There won’t be any fewer dead teens, needlessly drugged ‘schizophrenics,’ or — stay tuned for the next media revelation — electro-shocked grandmothers. By maintaining, or with the Murphy bill augmenting, you will not be bringing anyone into closer contact with reality.  To the contrary, you will experience the very essence of insanity itself.  This perhaps is the great leveler, though the implications are awful.  It means that we will all be out of touch with factual reality together, and none of us will have the opportunity to make a difference that matters.

You won’t find a better description of madness than that.  Not in medical books. Not in the DSM.  Yet, it is the modus operandi of our current mental health system.

And now we are considering making this madness federal law. But unlike the powers behind those perspectives, as people on the receiving end, we don’t get to throw away the Bill of Rights.   We don’t get to lock you up,  clamp on the restraints or drug away your free will. We simply have our opinions about what is true — and you get to have yours too.  That’s how it should work — for all of us— in a free society.

* * * * *

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Why HR 2646 is a bad bill.


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


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  1. You lost me as soon as you wrote “elected officials with no gumption for gun control”.

    The second amendment protects all the others. It is America’s First Freedom, the one right that protects all of the others. Among freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, of assembly, of redress of grievances, it is the first among equals. It alone offers the absolute capacity to live without fear. The right to keep and bear arms is the one right that allows “rights” to exist at all.

    “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

    Either you believe that, or you don’t, and you must decide.

    It makes no sense to include something as divisive as gun control to this Murphy Bill fight. I am not the only one that stops listening the instant the second amendment is attacked.

    Many readers who believe in the bill of rights and second amendment will actually START supporting the Murphy bill the instant they read that liberal gun grabbing line in retaliation because they find it so offensive.

    The Murphy bill is about human rights, we should leave politics out of it.

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    • The right to bear arms is no less important than the right to health care which respects the patient’s privacy and freedom of choice. I’m a Mad person and a licensed gun owner and I’m not about to let my government take away my gun, my protected health information, or my bodily autonomy.

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    • Gun rights as a protection against government is an emotional issue that really is overblown. The government, if it wanted, could drop a bomb on your house out of an AC 130, or send an Abrams tank to blow it up, or drop a nuclear bomb on your town. Your guns would be no use then. There’s no protection against the huge military firepower this nation has… the idea that guns can protect against that is foolish. The reason that you’re not scared of these things is not because you have a gun; it’s because you have some level of trust in the people controlling our military and nuclear arsenal.

      There are much more dangerous things than guns, like smoking, not exercising, poor diet, cars, climate change, nuclear bombs, etc. The first few of these are killing orders of magnitudes more people than guns every year.

      Besides, the majority of gun owners in polls do support reasonable gun control precautions like stronger background check systems, harsher penalties for those who sell illegally, and so on. Maybe you’re more extreme than you think.

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      • Don’t drug my child or ill shoot.

        Mother Faces Down Swat Team & Tank For Refusing to Drug Daughter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hIlo7KD2L0

        The Antipsychotic drugs Detroit mother Maryanne Godboldo refused to give her daughter Risperdal an extremely dangerous drug, with 55 drug regulatory agency warnings of diabetes, seizures, mania, psychosis, hallucinations, death and 77 studies on antipsychotic induced side effects including diabetes, seizures, coma, violence, psychosis, and homicidal ideation and death. Maryanne Godboldo made international press when she faced down a Swat team and a tank after she refused to administer Risperdal a drug which clearly could endanger her child’s life.

        She rightfully used a gun to do this.

        I know the liberals like to label everyone who uses words like tyranny as conspiracy nuts but if armed government men showing up at your door to confiscate you child and force a drug like Risperdal on him or her against you and your child’s consent is not tyranny what is ?

        The is a limit to how far governments can push an armed population before some of them push back.

        But what ever, keep painting opposition to the Murphy bill as a liberal and anti gun cause if you want to drive away supporters.

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          • Just the fact they need a tank because of an armed population makes their tyranny difficult and expensive and that slows it down.

            They would love it if they didn’t need to worry about hot lead when doing home invasions to kidnap children.

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          • That’s why the “bad guys” (government) have the swat team and the tank. Those bullets aren’t going through the tank’s body armor nor is one gun going to stop a swat team, only slow it down.

            Government will always have far more resources than any individual citizen or group of citizens, guns or no guns. Government – which is really just people in power – has many methods to oppress and control. Rather than just trusting in guns, we have to trust on some level that the people running American government have enough areas of sanity that they won’t turn the US into North Korea or Nazi Germany. Because if they do turn the US’s military arsenal against us, we’re pretty much screwed, guns or no guns. I’m surprised that in this age of nuclear submarines and F35s the people really think guns will help them against a government gone rogue.

            And just imagine if Skynet comes online and T-1000s get unleashed against the people. Then the guns will really be no use!

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      • Don’t forget receiving medical care on your list of most dangerous activities! As of about 2000, receiving medical care was the third leading cause of death in the USA, after cancer and heart disease. Readers here will not be surprised to hear the #1 cause of medical death induction: side effects of properly prescribed and administered medication.

        —– Steve

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      • I think you, and Murphy, have got it all wrong. The guns are one thing. Mentally ill people are not dangerous. These wild shooting sprees are supposedly by the mentally ill but–and this is a very big BUT–if so, then their wild behavior is secondary to the drugs they are on.
        In this society, those wild shooters MUST be insane because otherwise the gov’t and society in general would have to face up to the fact that the problem is society and society’s make-up.
        Alot of nice misquotes and quotes taken out of context there, cat.
        And the following article and your conclusions show just how off topic you and your responders have gotten. Let’s get back to what this article is about: Murphy’s Bill…or would that be Murphy’s Law?

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    • So why is it that in countries where guns are controlled they have less violence, less crime, fewer people in jail and prison, fewer murders, almost no mass murders (we seem to be having about one a week here these days). You and I both know that when the Founding Fathers, those whom the Tea Party as so quick to say that they follow, wrote the Second Amendment into the Constitution they were not talking about the right to bear arms as it is interpreted and understood today.

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        • The things that are lost with gun control are simply not measured. Australia used to be such a friendly place, guns removed, and sure the statistics look great. And I guess if you always wanted to live in Stazi Romania then it’s just the place for you.

          Other thing I would mention is that if it all kicks off, the first thing to go is going to be all the fancy technology. F 35s that won’t fly because of some little computer virus like Stuxnet. F 35 is a bit heavy to throw at a man with an AK47 lol

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    • The relevance of gun control to the Murphy bill is that it is that opponents of gun control are using the “mental illness causes mass shootings” meme to promote the Murphy bill as a deflection of attention away from guns. They really are completely separate issues, and should be treated as such, but we do have to be aware that in their zeal to protect gun rights, some activists are promoting discrimination against “the mentally ill” as the scapegoat for a very complex cultural problem. Perhaps some people in the survivor movement should try to link up with gun rights advocate groups and point out that this kind of law promotes exactly the kind of tyranny they are concerned about. Once we establish “mentally ill” people as dangerous, we can remove their arms, then label more people as “mentally ill” and remove their arms, too. The USSR used “mental illness” legislation to imprison thousands of political dissidents. It could happen here, too.

      —- Steve

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      • While my psychiatric inprisonment was not directly linked to my revolutionary politics, I do think that indirectly it was. Social control in our society is more
        diffuse than it was in the Soviet Union-the main reason we have so few
        real dissidents in our society is that people are afraid of being embarressed and shaming of their family if they speak out-It took a whole lot of soul searching for the senator from Alaska to will himself to introduce Daniel Elsberg’s testimony into the Congressional record. In my case-a white dissident person barely beyond his formative years is not taken seriously as a legitimate commentator on society-yes I was pushing the envelope in a brasher manor than I would be today. But I fell on my sword at the time, but you know what-my critiques that non-profits aren’t going to change the world, “liberal establishment press like the Washington Post are more guilty for keeping us all in line (thanks Noam Chomsky), any form of multicultural organizing that fails to take regional issues out of the equation will be unsuccessful-I am from Appalachia, and taking one luxury hotel off the market to house people priced out of the housing market is a good idea.
        By the way, I sternly informed the nurse practioner at my psychiatrist office ( in no uncertain terms I might add), that I am angered beyond belief about my damaged kidneys, and there will be hell to pay if anyone comes at me with assisted out patient BS.

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      • Not “It could happen here” – it does happen here. The only question is how often and how easy it is for the legal system to be turned against someone.

        If someone believes in the intent of the 2A, they would find Murphy’s Law abhorrent, and an example of why it is still relevant today – when a group of people are denied physical AND legal self-defense, they will be walked over by the public and private sector, as we should know from experience.

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    • Cat and others – Thank you so much for raising my consciousness on this important issue. I’ll talk with the editors of MIA & see if there is a way to change that language to something less offensive to the arms-bearing survivor community .

      What you are helping me see is that psychiatric survivors and 2nd amendment activists have a tremendous amount in common. To be sure, I’m scared of the power of weapons. But in reality, I don’t trust the government to bear arms any more than I do private citizens. Moreover, I don’t think the solution is gun control. I think the solution is a government and communities that respect and advance the human rights of all. Until we have that, I have to agree with your analysis that citizens being able to bear arms on an equal basis is a great leveler.

      A really great question is how – instead of fighting each other – we can raise consciousness between the firearms and psych survivor advocates and support both movements to ‘get’ each other better and ally around our shared interest in reducing the tendency of those acting under color of law to abuse their power.

      To add a bit of context: the comment I made about ‘gun control’ was inspired by an article by Larry Drain in Hopeworks Community, https://hopeworkscommunity.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/murphy-2/. In that article, Larry reported that, according to his political connections, politicians have been under tremendous pressure to at least appear to something about rising violence – and in particular about the kind of public violence that can result when people have access to firearms. Per Larry’s report, instead of addressing that question directly – and thinking strategically about what is leading to firearms violence and what is needed to effectively reduce – politicians instead decided to attack the rights of ‘the mentally ill’ in order to give the appearance of taking action. I wanted people to be able to make the connection that Murphy started out as a political diversion. But, I agree – and can now see in retrospect – that I should have used different language to do that.

      To take this issue even a bit further – and perhaps further support the connection between the two communities of firearms and survivor advocates: My personal belief is the cause of public firearms violence is not ‘mental illness’ but prolonged, entrenched social exclusion and othering. I thus see public firearms violence as a wake up call – to the public. This wake up call is intended by those who become violence as something in the nature of political speech about important social issues that are in desperate need of public attention and meaningful change.

      Their essential story is this: People who have been othered and treated as outsiders for years, reach a breaking point. They are routinely and matter-of-factly treated like dirt by the communities and social circles where they live. This has been going on so long – and is so much a part of their everyday lives – that they have lost all hope of ever meaningfully participating in the human community. This is true for those in multiple socially labeled groups (‘mentally ill’, homeless, ‘addicts’, ‘offenders’, ‘truants’, ‘welfare’) but also for many who escape the labels and pass under the radar for years.

      Many of us have experienced these kinds of social dynamics at one point in our lives or another – and know what it is like. It is deeply traumatizing and something that no human heart or mind can bear for a sustained period.

      Our natural response to this kind of social trauma is deeply impacted by human biological response to threat of fight, flight, or freeze. That means some of us avoid or hide the pain from ourselves (e.g., addiction, ‘psychosis’). Others freeze (become immobile, paralized unable to act). But some of us, predictably, will rise up and fight. That means we attack the threat as we see it and try to take it down. Ergo, Sandy Hook et al.

      Moreover, if you believe in and understand the biological fight fligh freeze response, you can guarantee this is going to happen – and keep happening – for as long as we continue to ‘other’ people and treat social ‘others’ badly. That’s because the fight response itself is, on the whole, socially adaptive and good for our species. (Nothing that is wrong would ever change in social circles if there were only flighters and freezers. There would be no objection from these responses – so the social status quo would always previal.)

      Suffice it to say, imo, public violence is not essentially an issue of gun control. It is an issue of discrimination, othering and social violence directed at people who are different.

      Moreover, as an American public, we are currently reaping – if not what we deserve – at least the logical consequences of how we have been treating people.

      There is a silver lining in this cloud however. The silver lining is this: Social violence is entirely within our power to change. Moreover, citizens and communities can do this totally without firearms legislation – and in fact without legislation of any kind.

      We simply need to start treating people differently. That means we need to stop ignoring that fact that far too many people are being left out. We need to pay attention, look around us and see who looks most isolated or cut off. From there, we need to take active steps to reach out, get to know the people, offer meaningful conversation and real relationship. We need to actively support people to get meaningfully connected – and to recover the rights and resources that every human being needs in order to live and be well. In a word, we need to support our society to recovery its humanity – and each other to recover our human rights.

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    • The Murphy bill is about depriving certain people of human rights, and you can’t support or oppose any such action without dirtying your hands with politics.

      The second amendment is one amendment. There are others that this legislation is intent on violating barring some challenge that goes all the way to the supreme court.

      The impetus behind this legislation, just like the impetus behind other legislation to “treat” people against their will and wishes, is the fear of violence perpetuated by a few “deranged” individuals. Mental health law, for instance, that defines insanity as ‘a danger to self and/or others’. Theory has it that ‘mind sickness’ is behind certain incidents of mass violence, and so, theory has it, if a multiple murder takes place “mental illness” exonerates the multiple murderer of culpability. The idea is that if you corral enough people, and put them on drugs, you are “helping” prevent some future mass murderer from committing a future murder. A person goes on the rampage with a gun, and people die. People say the “mental health” system is broken, if it wasn’t broken it would catch all these multiple murderers before they committed their murders. I say murder isn’t a symptom of illness. Duh! You’re not “helping” anybody by “treating” it as if it were.

      Remember Minority Report? In the present situation lawmakers and others want to arrest future criminals. Problem. Neither their soothsaying abilities, nor those of the mental health profession, are very good at detecting future criminals.

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      • Well it’s for sure that the pols are capitalizing on public fears about “mindless” violence, as differentiated from (I suppose) “mindful” violence based on imperialism and greed. How many of them believe this and how many are willingly shills and pawns of big pharma is a subject for speculation.

        Why do think it’s so easy to get the public spooked about “psychopaths” and not about the likelihood that common psychiatric drugs are at least closely liked to most of the mass shootings, etc. in question?

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        • You’re talking 2 forms of madness here, oldhead, the madness of the crazed killer and the madness of the drug abuser. If the drug is prescribed by a doctor it must not be abuse, huh? Still the problem is that we’re dealing with 2 forms of madness rather than one, and thus the matter is seen as something of an either or. When you’re dealing with mental patients/mental health service “consumers”, too, paternalism would deny moral agency/self-control. Drugs are standard practice when it comes to dealing with the problem and, therefore, as conventional wisdom would have it, it must be the other madness, the madness folks figure would receive better “treatment” if it were seen as “disease”. You’ve also dealing with the scapegoat’s scapegoat as far as social groupings are concerned. One must remember that this is the same social category that the NAZIs perfected the techniques in preparation for the final solution on . Things haven’t changed so much that people with psychiatric labels aren’t still serving as scapegoats for the faults and crimes of people in power. There is that view that in any family one member gets a surfeit of abuse, not because that member is a bad person, but because the group has a need to project fault onto an other, and the family has a target within the family, the chosen scapegoat, in other words.

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  2. Hi Sarah,

    Your friend might want to visit http://survivingantidepressants.org/ for advice on tapering meds. Hopefully, they could advise him on how to reduce the meds without the help of his psychiatrist. I think it depends on the meds he is taking.

    Does he have the option of seeing someone else? The reason I am asking is there is a list of taper friendly psychiatrists in various areas that might be helpful.

    Good luck to him.

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  3. Thanks, Sarah. It’s a pleasure to see it all summed up so concisely. Although I’m still relatively new to reaching out to others through online sources, it’s a pleasure to see that the “hundreds of groups” you speak of are forming, and that there are more and more of us every day who are starting to take some kind of action. Personally, I believe it is time for us to form a sort of Underground Railroad and start moving people outside the system to where they can get help. I don’t believe we can stop the Murphy Bill, unfortunately. Which doesn’t, of course, mean that we shouldn’t try. But the history of prejudice that got us into this position in the first place, where the whole industrial/psychiatric/neurological/pharmaceutical/prison complex was able to capitalize on our weakness to build their damaging model and to profit from it all is exactly what is giving them the money to fund people like Murphy, and to keep control of the conversation by funding the psychiatry programs and the research and the endless, endless, endless drug ads. This is not to say that I despair. But I do think about this question of how we are going to free ourselves for much of every day, and I don’t know yet what can be done. But I’m thinking about it all, and I’m sure that there are plenty of other people who know the moral rightness of our position who are thinking about it too, like you are. Anyway, thanks for the article. It was a pleasure to read.

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    • Eric: I think that any success that we have will result as being part of larger movements opposing mass incarceration, the surveillance state, and the endless. Some people could judge me negatively for my “history of mental illness, and being “just” a substitute teacher. But sometimes you just have to take a risk and roll the dice-let the chips fall where they may.

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    • Eric, The latest news is that there have been multiple delays, multiple proposed versions, stalling, etc. Of course, this is rather typical of Congress anyway. Now I have heard that many who know one heck of a lot more than I do about the goings-on in Washington are saying they doubt the bill will pass. We can only hope. Is the stalling a good sign or not?


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  4. This is a great article Sarah. I will send it to people I know and try to get more people to put their voices in against the Murphy Bill. I was also encouraged to read about the many groups that are forming. If you get a chance to answer this, can you say where you got the data on “hundreds” of groups? Are these online groups… groups that meet in person…. groups in the US only…. etc.?

    I think there is room for another major online web forum/site run by a psychiatric survivor that publicizes information in the way MIA does but focuses more exclusively on demanding changes and acknowledgement that experiencers of mental suffering want. I wonder if this exists already online; I haven’t found it.

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    • Hi bpdtransformation – thanks for your comments! We’re beginning to create something along the lines of what you mention here: http://right2bu.blogspot.com/ So far it’s mostly just me writing. For the groups -On line: I know of about 30 groups on Facebook, and find more each day. I’m guessing the same is true of Google Plus, though that’s new to me. There’s also a lot at Icarus Project. We’re also starting some online – Virtual Alternatives – eDrop In, e Respite – which you can find more about here. http://right2bu.blogspot.com/2015/11/virtual-drop-in-crisis-respite-weekly.html

      Face to face, almost every state has at least one state level peer organization – the vast majority of which were formed to expand options beyond the medical model. Within States, the are usually several local organizations and/or support groups, founded for the same reason. These include groups for Hearing Voices, Intentional Peer Support, Icarus Project, WRAP, Alternatives to Suicide, MindFreedom as well as numerous generic support groups that affiliated with any major ‘alternative’ philosophy but contain people who are looking for alternatives none the same. You can get a picture of the overall richness and wealth of the peer initiated counter-voice to the medical model -as well as how to access the resources that do exist – here:

      Internationally, there are groups like World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry and Intervoice, as well as numerous local, regional and national groups in nations around the world (WRAP, Icarus & IPS are also internationally known and practiced in group formats).

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  5. Hi Sarah, This is a great summary of what is not okay with the Murphy Bill. I was right there with you, cheering you on (since I am a fan of yours for sure!) until you suddenly addressed community members, family, etc. Here’s the line I am referring to: “But nothing will change as long as people like you – families, friends, neighbors, educators, employers, public servants – continue (like the provider system) to not listen.” After that turn, the turn where you are addressing this new audience, the “you,” the shift is jarring to me, since before the turn, the intended or implied “you” was someone else.

    On one hand, you are asking everyone to call the officials, or write, to express our outrage. Yay! I’m glad you provided these links and by reading the article, we can easily glean a zillion reasons why the Murphy Bill is a bad idea. I love that you are encouraging action and suggesting ways we can stop the bill.

    You are also addressing a different “you,” asking for a change that isn’t exactly the same. By all means, listening is a good idea and it’s about time those of us who have been silenced be allowed a voice. I see your request as valid, and as you say, we’ve been saying this for years.

    The juxtaposition of these two demands, and the shift to a different audience, is what confuses me. Hmm… What if I combined these ideas? Let me play with this for a second. Yes, we need to be listened to, but also, we need to listen to each other better, too. Some folks feel that there is far too much bickering in the movement. There is no clear-cut line between productive and invigorating discussion or even argument, and outright backstabbing. That I know of, though, very few posts are moderated out of discussions here, and I give MIA editors a lot of credit for that, since we moderate ourselves just fine, as per example in many of the discussions including the one here where folks disagree about guns. We’re a more civil bunch than we give ourselves credit for. And they called us “crazy”…….

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    • Yes, agreed Julie – you make good points, here. I was hoping it would come across as more of a dance than a jarring departure. But for sure, I wanted to address both audiences. For me the difference is not so much about survivors and non-survivors though. I see us in both groups. For me the relevant distinction is between those of us who find ourselves unable to ‘pass’ for whatever reason and those who are able – for whatever reason – to hold or regain social roles that offer access to social voice – and therefore the power to make a difference.

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  6. We should find a person subjected to this Assertive Community Treatment AOT thing and make a video documentary.

    The part that will get views is when the person doesn’t show up and the police smash in there door with a battering ram with guns drawn and all that.

    “In Michigan, for example, a gentleman who refused on three occasions to make himself available to the ACT [Assertive Community Treatment] team was subjected to police breaking into his apartment, spraying him with pepper spray, handcuffing him, and transporting him to the hospital, where he was forcibly injected with Haldol. The man was released within days because he did not meet the criteria for inpatient commitment; but the experience was traumatic.” http://www.madinamerica.com/2015/11/danger-ahead-if-hr-2646-the-murphy-bill-passes/

    How hard would it be to get their violence on tape ? You know they are going to come so you fortify the door to make the break in real traumatic and if you really want to screw around include a dog for them to shoot.

    That’s the stuff that makes it go viral. That’s the stuff that makes the major networks. Of course the video can then include the persons story and the horrors of “treatment”.

    Please do not sidetrack into the abortion debate but look at the damage done by the planed parenthood videos. That was so well executed and so damaging and made international headlines. Beautifully done. That is playing hardball.

    So they want to smash in doors and force drugs ? Show the public what that looks like.

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      • I already made a You-Tube specifically on abuse. No, I didn’t release tapes, nothing like that, but I had just come out of the abusive hospitalization. The cool thing is that no one refutes me in the commentary below my You-Tube. I did it all candidly without any preparation. I spared nothing. I even spoke of issues like going to the bathroom. My hair was a mess and I wasn’t even dressed all the way, but all you see is my head and shoulders. I cried right in front of the camera. If anyone doubted me before, they knew after seeing the trauma rather visibly that I wasn’t lying or delusional. I’ve never made anything that went viral, but I believe that one You-Tube got far more hits than any other I did.


        Desha Blue has also put out many, many YouTubes. I learned that YouTube is a super good medium for catching the public eye.

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        • Julie:

          Just saw your You-Tube clip. Thank you so much for putting this online & I was so happy to see the positive comments underneath! It really does help, doesn’t it (?) to get support & it doesn’t seem to matter if it is online or not.

          I’ve also had the recent pain of several friendship losses & betrayals all at once. For some reason, they came all at one time, like a clearing of my life from all those who no longer resonate with me. Compassionate comments from several people at MIA have helped a lot.

          I especially like to support other writers. It’s the writers’ support group I never had & always wanted: I want to help other writers get their stories out there & *I really mean it.* What was it like getting your MFA? Were people more supportive or less than online?

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          • Check out Sarah’s online open mic! Saturday nights! Also, to answer your question, getting my MFA was like….learning that in writing school everything so totally contradicts everything that shrinks taught me. I think the timing is no coincidence. I finished undergrad in 2003, finished grad in 2009….and then, shit hit the fan. Because shrinkage no longer worked for me. I saw the lies, and once that wool that was covering your eyes comes off, a weird thing happens. You try to put it back on, in fact, you are desperate to do so, but lo and behold, it doesn’t fit anymore! Uh oh! Reality!

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    • I don’t own a gun nor am I particularly concerned about yours. As for abortion, if forced to vote simply up or down, I am pro-choice, but realizing that a discuss of Eugenics, forced sterilization, the genetically engineering of Downs people out of existence are huge consideration-not a big fan of single issue pro-choice campaigns.
      As I have made known here, for the. last year or so, I have been geering up for a serious push back-my son is off to college out of state, the cars are payed for and the house nearly so and I have three jobs Where my “history” is common knowledge. I feel that a certain obligation falls on those better situated to take the brunt.

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    • OK at first this sounded highly imaginative but now that I think about it I’m reminded of the first scene in Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” where the camera crew waits pensively inside a house with doors locked and curtains drawn as the occupants wait for the line of police cars arriving to evict them. Check it out.

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    • We need footage inside a psychiatric facility so people could see the terror and rage experienced by patients who are tackled by half a dozen workers and forcibly injected. We need footage of the terror felt by people who are under involuntary ‘holds’ separated from their friends and family members, stripped of their clothes and belongings and put in isolation cells, strapped under five point restraints. To obtain video of such instances you could be charged with violating someone’s civil liberties under the guise of privacy rules. So one would be exposing oneself to a lawsuit simply to show the public what goes on in these places.

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      • I already thought of that one,

        Capture Covert Video with a Keychain DVR

        Tiny, Portable Design
        Records High-Resolution 720 x 480 Video
        Easy File Transfer to Any PC

        I could get into a facility pretty easy, a bottle of vodka and the proper stupid talk would do the trick .

        Due to the strip search I would need a friend to bring me the camera.

        To really pull this of and make lawsuit money you would want 2 or more people to go in , one to disobey or insult staff and get assaulted and the other of course to record.

        The other way of course is just hope to get “lucky” and witness and record a staff assault then contact the person assaulted and help them get an attorney.

        There is also the cameras that are already in the facilties, I would imagine if you talked to people coming out you could find someone who was assaulted and then help them with the legalities of obtaining the video.

        You could also use a consumer complaint site such as http://www.ripoffreport.com or just make a “have you been assaulted inpatient?” webpage show up on searches for a hospital to find victims and again help them with the legalities of obtaining the video.

        I saw a young woman get assualted inpatient, to me its almost worse than getting it myself having to stand there and watch because I was outnumbered and there was nothing around to hit with. Suppressing that natural instinct to defend a woman from an assault is not fun.

        I did not get her contact information and I had alot going on at the time. Witnessing that assault is one of the reasons I am typing this right now. I knew about “anti psychiatry” at the time but that confirmed I needed to help out.

        That was a UHS hospital, that operation made a billion dollars last year. I am sure they would have offered that young woman at least $50,000 to prevent a jury from looking at a video of that unnecessary assault.

        A common thing in that hospital was for patients to say “I am going to sue this place” in response to blatant abuse but as I found out that’s not so easy and lawyers wont take the case. It made seance for people to say that in response to rights violations but staff knows they are free to abuse them at will.

        Video from behind psychiatric locked doors, that would be awesome showing the public what “help” really looks like.

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        • I hope you are not serious about the first example; please think about the possibility of someone actually trying to do this and then being incarcerated

          Capture Covert Video with a Keychain DVR

          Tiny, Portable Design

          Records High-Resolution 720 x 480 Video
          Easy File Transfer to Any PC

          I could get into a facility pretty easy, a bottle of vodka and the proper stupid talk would do the trick .

          Due to the strip search I would need a friend to bring me the camera.

          To really pull this of and make lawsuit money you would want 2 or more people to go in , one to disobey or insult staff and get assaulted and the other of course to record.

          The other way of course is just hope to get “lucky” and witness and record a staff assault then contact the person assaulted and help them get an attorney.

          There is also the cameras that are already in the facilties, I would imagine if you talked to people coming out you could find someone who was assaulted and then help them with the legalities of obtaining the video.

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        • Oh how I wish I had a video of my ‘assessment’.

          But then I thought about it and realised that being spoken to like someones pet dog may actually have been a test for clinical lycanthropy (being a werewolf is in the DSM? lol). And then when I expressly stated to the doctor that he did not have my consent to physically examine me, and after being coerced to remove my clothing and have objects inserted into me, that this was really a test for grandiose delusions (Believing one has a right to consent lmao)

          Always be recording.

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        • The Cat,
          I think this is a rather ingenious if twisted idea. One can take cues from prison inmates who hide all manner of objects in bodily cavities. Surely a tiny camera could go up one’s rear end. When I was a in a psych hospital some years ago they didn’t search that invasively. And then of course, it would be easy to have a friend bring a camera in on day 2. All manner of crazy shit happens daily in a sizable psych hospital, so a lot could be recorded. An ideal set up would be to have it livestreamed to a recording computer located on the outside.

          The concern I would have at this point is that while I wouldn’t necessarily mind going back to a psych hospital for a day or two for something like this, I would be worried about being forced to pay. I guess it depends on if it’s a public or private hospital right? A public one is paid for by the state I think.

          On the other hand, I doubt one or two such videos would create large-scale change. But they would still be revealing.

          I have to say I doubt the abortion revelation video, clever as it was, is going to result in that much long-term change either.

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          • The problems with ‘evidence’.

            I attend a police station to report a criminal offense, intoxication by deception (benzos).
            1. Attempt to detain me using the Mental Health Act for “hallucinating”. Even with the hospital documents demonstrating the crime.
            2. Attempt to arrest me for having the evidence that I was drugged without my knowledge.
            3. Police find “insufficient evidence” to ask any questions or make any inquiries.

            Having the ‘evidence’ means a whole heap of trouble for you.

            I have grave concerns about covert recordings. It is possible that what you are seeing has been manufactured using ‘bait and switch’ techniques. However, I also have seen the inside of a locked ward and know what the consequences of anyone looking in there would be, an impossible situation for staff who at present have carte blanche to achieve outcomes.

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          • I suppose the police questioning a person intoxicated without their knowledge is a benefit, so there may be a conflict of interest.

            Police inform me that drugging someone with benzos without their knowledge is a Civil, not Criminal matter. I point them to S 305 A of the Criminal Code, and they tell me that this large police station doesn’t have a copy. Talk about being under resourced.

            I have been led to believe that rapists are exploiting this little loophole. Drug, rape, and then throw victim into the quicksand of mental health.

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  7. “Science” is not science when it is paid for by those who stand to benefit financially from certain results. This problem goes way beyond mental health issues to healthcare itself and beyond that to our corrupt economy and political system. Our government and regulatory agencies are dominated by corporate influence. I think we need to overturn Citizens United and take personhood status away from corporations. Then and only then will our voices have political power and our government be a democracy.

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    • I bet student & indie filmmakers would be interested as well. Maybe even a well entrenched filmmaker would bite at this. Film it yourself, have a friend do it, have a student edit it, all of the above & more. And more. And more. It could be used in a courtroom as evidence as well. One of my friends told me I was the only person to successfully escape a “counselor” calling in the authorities when I left a crisis house. I lived in an RRP for five years in my “other life.” The life I am trying to forget. Would have been cool if we could have filmed it. It wasn’t really all that exciting though, we weren’t exactly thinking about camera angles, lighting & scripts! This is the way I think too The__cat.

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  8. I brought a small recorder into my shrink’s office at an outpatient appointment. I don’t have many recordings and the most abusive sessions were not recorded, unfortunately. You do hear the abuse, though. This is not what one would think of as brutal, but rather, micro-insults and the like. I wish I had recorded her yelling and screaming at me and threatening me. It’s possible I have a recording of an abusive male therapist calling me Honey. I’ll have to check on that.

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  9. boans! Boans! Are you being so presumptuous, maybe a bit of grandiose, to elevate your status to that of someone’s dog?

    Now, if you were Puzzle, you’d know what it is like to waited on hand and foot. She might as well be wearing a crown. She’s already dressed for the part, wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    High status sometimes comes in small packages, are fuzzy, and eat anything that’s gross.

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  10. While the presence of hidden cameras is arguably a human rights/privacy concern, this would be done to change the worse human rights violations already being done and to protect those who are being abused, provide tangible proof, etc. They have cameras there already.

    Consider that many people out there think nothing of store security cameras (for the “public good”), traffic cameras (“safety”) and asking police to be tracked by camera.

    Cameras marketed to folks who hire nannies….Cameras in nursing homes….Yeah it’s debatable but I would think that those who are being abused are so, so thankful.

    I would imagine laws vary according to location. I wonder if the laws could allow for, say, paperwork to be filed applying for legal permission to plant a hidden camera if there’s good reason to suspect abuse. After all, police can get a warrant to raid your home if they can show they have good reason to suspect illegal activity such as child porn. (Yeah I know they raid illegally too.) But such paperwork would allow the recording to be submitted in court as valid evidence.

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  11. True, boans. The odds are stacked against us. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. How on earth are we going to get the abuse to stop? Worse, when high-profile people are detained, they get the red carpet. Then, lo and behold they write articles which get instantly published about how loving and kind these facilities are.

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    • My plan? I’m going to continue to do my very best to not contribute to the abuse. I chose to not exercise my power, and will bear witness to my God about the evil that has been done to me by these people. I’m sure that has them shaking in their boots lol.

      The potential for these places to be loving and kind is there, though seldom realised. One need only read Katie Teirneys recent comments about her approach to ‘patients’ as proof.

      Still, stoopid white folk. I think God has a sense of humour sending a black man (MLK) to teach white people the meaning of civilization lol.

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  12. Boans I like your approach in terms of each of us contributing any way we can. The book I am writing is coming along so fast and so easily…it’s such a blessing to have the freedom to write without threats and without drugs to slow down my mind and squelch my creativity. I am enjoying saying “nyah nyah” to all those who claimed I was incapable and hopelessly “lacking insight.” That bit truly cracks me up now.

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    • They will of course take credit should it become a best seller Julie lol.

      I tried to see a positive in my being treated like a pet dog, and then realised…..the protections afforded animals are better times 2 than those for those defined as mentally ill. AND they are likely to bring charges if an animal is abused. The laws relating to abuse of the mentally ill haven’t ever been used. Gets better all the time lol.

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  13. Boans, thirty years of shrinkage means I have so many wonderful stories stored up. It means an endless supply of ideas. I am indeed naming names….They make great characters!

    You know, traditionally, you give your hero an Achilles’ heel, to make him seem believable. Your villain is the “bad guy we love to hate.” I am enjoying using their quirks and mannerisms to paint a rather realistic, if not comical picture.

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  14. As humans, we are no different. The difference is that survivors have been made into commodity by psychiatry and its institutions, and there are folks out there who have never been in our position. However, the public, whether exposed first-hand to the System or not has to pay. They are subject to lies, cover-up, scare tactics about “those people,” fear of catching these dreaded plagues themselves, and loss of taxes and deterioration of society. How can it not deteriorate when there’s an atmosphere of distrust and deception?

    I think of the elderly folks I’ve known, living in constant fear of getting taken away from their homes for good if they dare show anything resembling dementia. They become psych victims, too. You see it in their eyes, terrified of their own families.

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  15. Oldhead, They usually lock it up but might let folks have theirs if they ask nicely. Some places search visitors. Seriously! No pocketbooks, nothing but keys. I don’t know if they take the keys or let the visitor have them. What about something that looked like a nitroglyceryn container or epi-pen? They know the wheelchair trick now. Still, I doubt they’d go so far as to look inside the tubing. Usually if there are drugs in there, dogs can find them a lot easier than people can. Inside a cane? They wouldn’t take a cane away.

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  16. I am the mother of someone who has suffered from “mental illness” for 8 years and counting. The system is broken in that there is no system, and what we have is so cruel. All treatment is voluntary…and guess the outcome on that. As I was told repeatedly, I had to wait until my son committed a large enough crime to be incarcerated — hoping that no one would be hurt — before he could be forced into treatment. Law enforcement as the front line? Not fair to anyone. I was left alone to deal with this situation until I was financially ruined, traumatized, and hopeless — and I’m not getting any younger. Where are my rights? He finally caught the authorities’ attention, was put in jail and then the state hospital to be “restored to competency”. I was terrified of the state hospital and its reputation but found good, caring people working with their hands tied behind their backs by archaic laws. This is the 21st century, can we get past a 19th century (or earlier) model? My son will (hopefully) be released from jail (now back in jail after being “restored”) in a month to a transitional living center (and now with a criminal record). I will go farther into debt to provide this for him until I can get him benefits. It isn’t the full answer, but it is the best to date and I am pinning all my hope on this plan. Sad.

    I suggest a new paradigm:
    1) new language. The term “mentally ill” while accurate (I guess) has kept my son from receiving treatment. “Don’t put labels on me!” I couldn’t get him into therapy or to join a peer-to-peer group “those people are mentally ill, what are you trying to do?” We need new words.
    2) re-envision mental hospitals (language again). I can see life-affirming centers (in-patient to out-patient) that incorporate nutrition, stress management techniques, education (+ research?), social re-introduction (the isolation is so debilitating), physical fitness, vocational training, employment opportunities (can we say tax breaks for anyone who hires?), manual labor like working in a garden, or with animals, and yes medication where necessary. I believe there are models out there now (expensive) while hospitals are closing or sitting empty all over the country. This is a crime when we have such an epidemic.
    3) while I know people like my son are suffering, the symptoms of the condition (in his case) drive people away. He has lost all his friends and most of his family. In our culture we are so afraid of anyone who is different. All I am left with is how cruel our society is. Is it possible to educate people to treat others kindly? Probably not, maybe it will happen as a natural outcome of #1 and #2.

    I could go on and on. I am heartened to see there is a forum and discussion on this subject. It is the while elephant in the room and it seems easier to slap on a band-aid. But the problem continues to fester. With so many good practitioners in the helping professions, let’s divert some gov’t funds away from wasteful spending and develop meaningful solutions.

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  17. So a “free society” is supposed to provide you with:

    The stable housing necessary to feel safe and reasonably comfortable
    The transportation, internet and phone services needed to access employment opportunities, community services and natural supports
    The healthy food necessary to nourish minds and bodies;
    A decent bed to sleep on
    Physical and wellness supports like gym memberships, body work, artistic and creative outlets,
    Personal assistance for daily tasks like housekeeping, personal hygiene, or meal preparation when these become overwhelming
    Education and training to improve our options

    This “free society” is supposed to provide you with these things because you have a mental illness and this is the cure, not the doctors or the medication. Families have requested more help for their family members who had all these things and still got sick. Your current model of care completely leaves out the sickest people.

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    • You should read “Anatomy of an Epidemic” if you want to understand why most of us disagree with your assessment of optimum care for the “sickest people.” There is actually good evidence that simply providing housing for a person without any expectation of treatment participation improves their symptoms, as does giving them money to buy essential items in their life. Whereas the long-term outcomes associated with psychiatric drugs are looking more and more discouraging. It seems they may actually make it LESS likely that a person will recover from a “serious mental illness.” Don’t you think that’s something people deserve to know?

      Report comment

    • Hi Kate – Curious about your comments. Can you please clarify? Are you speaking as a person with lived experience who has had access to these kinds of resources during a time of personal distress and found that they did not help? Are you someone who personally found drugs, seclusion, restraint, segregation and incarceration to be a really helpful and productive part of your personal healing process? Are you someone who has personally escaped the health and social complications (diabetes, obesity, congestive heart failure, inability to work and function) after experiencing full-on the ‘best’ the medical model has to offer? If not, it would be great to hear here from all those folks you say that you personally know of who are currently begging for the medical model, only the medical model, and more of the medical model after first having been provided those simple necessities of live that so many of us who have been there can say from actual experience would have helped a lot more. Ironically, you seem to accuse us of wanting ‘welfare’ and ‘handouts’ in our hour of greatest need. That would be a fair criticism if it were not for the ‘welfare’ and ‘handouts’ that are being paid daily by workers and taxpayers to support a for-profit pharmaceutical and healthcare monopoly that people in distress (or their families) have actually PRE-PAID for by insurance / tax dollars – but yet offers them – in their darkest hours – little of what they actually want, need or find useful. Indeed, what is offered in the guise of healthcare has so little utility to most actual end users that these ‘services’ could never survive – dollar for dollar – in a truly free market where people were given equivalent amounts of money to what we are already spending, ALONG WITH the freedom to choose how to spend it in order to create the most health and wellbeing for own needs. The research that has been done suggests that offering people this option (‘self-directed care’) gets better outcomes and is just as cost-effective. But for the stranglehold of big business interests -effectively corporate welfare – this latter system would be a no-brainer.

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  18. Kate, I was in the system and fully compliant for over three decades. Plenty of times, I have seen people considered “the sickest” make amazing strides and end up fine, totally independent and raising families, too.

    I, too, was considered among “the sickest.” However, eventually, I went to college, earned my bachelor’s without any “accommodations” whatsoever, and then, earned my master’s with flying colors.

    “Sick” in mental health is in the eyes of those that write up medical records and file with insurance for reimbursement, the most money they can possibly get. What’s on one’s record is permanent, and it takes a superhuman leap to get out of that trap. With the computerized records, patients have diagnoses following them around for life. Psych diagnosis is a permanent record of a temporary problem, and for that reason, a human rights violation.

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  19. That’s fabulous for you. But you’re speaking for everyone based on your experience? If someone tells you they can’t “recover” and need psychiatrists and meds for the rest of their lives, are you saying they aren’t smart enough to know their own health and what they need? How does that make you better than the system you say you disdain?

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    • I don’t see anyone claiming to better than anyone else. Also I’m not sure if making comparisons between people and systems makes much sense.

      If someone tells you they can’t “recover” and need psychiatrists and meds for the rest of their lives, are you saying they aren’t smart enough to know their own health and what they need?

      Not “smart enough”? How about misinformed and negativistic?

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    • People should not be shamed for not “recovering” the same way someone else expects them to, any more than they should be shamed for rejecting Psychiatry’s worldview that their condition is a chronic and incurable disease. We’re generally not talking about individual cases here, but about big-scale trends. And the big-scale trend in the world of “chronic mental illness” is that psychiatry, on the balance, is making things worse in terms of the probability of recovering a functional life. The biggest objection I have is not to offering the drugs, but to lying about what they are and what they are “treating.” A couple shots of Jack Daniels “treats” anxiety just as well as a hit of Xanax or Valium. They all reduce anxiety and bring certain side effects. But “treating” someone with alcohol would be considered horribly unethical, while prescribing Benzos like the above chronically over many years is totally accepted psychiatric “treatment.”

      Individuals should have the right to make informed decisions. Lying by doctors (0r pharmaceutical companies) on a grand scale prevents such decisions being truly informed. “Recovery” is a personal thing, but enforcing “treatment” that can make you worse is a political one and should not be allowed.

      —- Steve

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      • I would agree with you about informed consent. Having said that, I haven’t found that to be a problem. When my daughter was unable to understand side effects, etc., they told me, or at least suggested I look it up, not to mention the thousands of words about the medications that come along with them. I’d also agree that treatment that makes you worse shouldn’t be allowed. Again, no experience with that. Involuntary treatment kept my daughter sane and safe.

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      • “The biggest objection I have is not to offering the drugs, but to lying about what they are and what they are “treating.” A couple shots of Jack Daniels “treats” anxiety just as well as a hit of Xanax or Valium. They all reduce anxiety and bring certain side effects.”

        YES thank you. This.

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    • Kate,

      Why do you keep coming back to this site? When you previously were here, Leah Harris tried to have a civil dialogue with you to no avail and stopped engaging with you People responding to your posts might want to check the archives of these exchanges.

      You want us to understand your daughter’s experiences but yet you show no understanding or compassion of what people have been through on these sites.

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        • I get the feeling that you are speaking for your daughter. Why not let her sit down at the keyboard and let her speak for herself. I’ve never seen anything posted by your daughter but see lots of your responses about how the forced treatment saved your daughter, according to her, but we never see anything at all from her to prove to us that she believes this.

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          • From my observations of other patients and of myself while I was in the System over 30 years, parental expectations figure huge in a child’s life, well into adulthood and even into senior years. We tend to become what is expected of us. Educators know this scenario well. A responsible educator will not carry over the previous teacher’s negative expectations of a student, but will start afresh. On one hand, it is important for teachers to be sensitive to cultural differences and vast differences in the way children learn. On the other, to expect troublemaking from a particular student will only lead to further mischief. With parental expectations, the stakes can be even higher. It’s been documented that some women around my age (approaching retirement) free themselves up tremendously following the deaths of their mothers. I don’t notice this with myself, though, but a few of my friends have noticed this.

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        • Hi Kate – I guess I need to speak from my experiences about our interactions on this blog. I experience your comments as dismissive, hurtful and unwilling to listen. The way you are interacting with me – and the way I experience you are interacting with others who are trying to share their actual lived experiences here – are literally the kind of interactions that made me ill. I can’t imagine what it must be like for your daughter to try to recover and have someone who treats her experience like you are treating ours so close to her. That being said, I won’t speak for her, but I will speak from what I know about myself of my own experience with the kinds of interactions we are having here:

          If my family had treated my truth and my experiences the way you are treating me and others on this blog, one of 2 things would have happened:

          1. I would have listened to them out of a desperate need for their love and acceptance and become a permanent part of the mental illness system. Given the statistics, by now I would be living in a group home or institution and facing the serious health consequences of long-term, heavy duty neuroleptic use (if I were not already dead from this); or

          2. I would have shut them out and ceased contact in order to recover and preserve my own sanity. They would no longer be a part of my life and I would no longer be a part of theirs.

          On the other hand, there is a way that I am grateful for your particpation in this blog. I have long been confused as to why so many of the survivors I know literally hate NAMI, TAC and the families who belong to them. I know many sincere, caring and helpful family members, so it was hard for me to understand why others I know in the survivor movement literally believe that these groups – and the people in them – represent evil incarnate. However, if I project my experience of interacting with you here – including the way I experience the truth of my life that I have worked so hard to express here in a clear, comprehensible fashion – as being dissected, dismissed, avoided, disregarded, tossed aside and even turned against me – and then project living with the relational effects of that long-term – I now feel like I get a glimpse of where those strong feelings come from in my friends.

          At the same time, in my heart of hearts, this is not my view. I actually believe that all experiences – and even ones that at first blush appear confusing, extreme or ill-intended – come from an essentially good human core. I see them as part and parcel of the difficult choices that vulnerable human beings with limited options see themselves as needing to make in order to survive. Once a certain level of safety is established for all concerned, however, these same experiences can simply become grist for the mill – something that people of conscience and good will can use to make sense of our humanity. In a word, we can turn the ‘evil’ to ‘good’ and use our honest differences and misunderstandings to grapple with the challenging contradictions of being human on deeper and more nuanced levels.

          For my part, I’m more than happy to attempt to do that here if I get the sense from you that there is sincere interest and that a sincere effort will be made to understand life experiences that are different from your own.

          On the other hand, if I don’t get that sense from you, I’ll do what I would need to do with anyone who I experience as toxic to my psyche and not interested in changing that: I’ll refuse to acknowledge or engage with your comments and, instead invest my energy in efforts I find more productive – Like the hard work of creating relationships worth having and a world worth living in.

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          • Sarah:

            I just read this. I am skipping all over the place on this thread because it has taken a lot of diverse turns.

            “and, instead invest my energy in efforts I find more productive–Like the hard work of creating relationships worth having and a world worth living in.”

            I find this whole block you wrote awesome.

            Isn’t it weird when a writer can look on a block of writing that sums up decades worth of experience & say, “I’m glad I can boil it down to XX number of paragraphs, but it seems odd that that’s even possible.”

            It’s like a dish or a stew, or something else tactile you can make. Less tangible, but more so, cause it’s in words. So powerful when a survivor can finally talk.

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        • Kate:

          “You misunderstand me. I’m terribly sorry for your bad experiences.”

          I believe you. And thank you for reading “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” as I saw you *did* say you read it. I only just finished it myself last month.

          “The attempt to speak for others as if your experiences are their experiences is where I take exception.”

          I will speak only for myself then.

          *MY* concern is that the point-of-view of the psychiatric mental health system survivor is grossly underrepresented in the mainstream media, in the rhetoric of proponents of the Murphy Bill, within the academy and within the psychiatric profession itself, and as far as the public imagination the bigotry is reaching horrifying levels.

          That means the hatred for both me and your daughter is…well…something I do not want to look at. Even on a good day.

          Try as anyone may, it is very hard to keep up with the latest research, especially as those who believe in the narrative of the medical model obfuscate the research and redirect even the well meaning away from findings of flawed clinical trials, proven damage to the brain and body because of long-term usage of drugs, including creation of more psychotic episodes, not less.

          I think well-meaning people are hoping that they’re are chemists working on drugs with less “side-effects” that will not kill their children and family members at 40 or 58 (the age of my best friend and spiritual mother).

          I know you care.

          The problem is that if it has not been proven ONE WAY OR ANOTHER that the origin of “mental illness” is in the brain, then the chemists are trying to solve a problem within an organ they do not understand.

          If you throw in the human genome the multi-variant calculus is off the charts & into 4-D mathematics & beyond. I only went up to Calculus myself, so I am shuddering at the thought. Any mathematicians around?


          The pharmaceutical industry hold those of us who are interested in complimentary medicine to the evidence-based standards that they have themselves failed.

          Then they do their best to hide result. And they are good at it.

          Good research costs money, and the bias of the scientists (even those who are interested in complimentary medicine, let’s be fair here) go into the framing of the question, and the interpretation of the results.

          O.K. I’ll say it: I *DO* use drugs to come out of “psychosis” from time-to-time.

          I have had *nine* episodes now & I have been researching complimentary medicine for almost 15 years. I use them for about 10 days a year when I detect “symptoms.” Those 10 days are not back-to-back.

          That is not long enough to damage the neurotransmitters in the brain. In “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” it takes three weeks, according to the research collected by Robert Whittaker.

          Please do not think you need a Ph.D. or M.D. to start researching these topics for yourself. There are many books written by professionals for lay people and/or professionals who can help you. There are not a lot of psychiatrists doing both, but there are some.

          I use drugs 1% of the time and natural remedies 99% of the time.

          I will not go into what the ratio would be or should be for someone else, but I will say, categorically, that high quality foods & supplements have direct results and are good for ANYONE.

          Why not start researching these topics? I know you care about your daughter. That is not in question.

          Better yet, if a family member of someone with a diagnosis tries some of these complimentary remedies on *themselves,* after all we are all in line for age-related diseases eventually, you will have a better understanding of what “lived experience” means to us on MIA.

          In other words, you will be in intense communication with your body of what to put into it and what not to. This is preverbal and very, *very* wise. I am still trying to articulate it myself.
          I wish you the best!

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          • Thanks, SnowyOwl, this hits the nail on the head for me. I, too, see drugs as a choice. It must be completely a choice. I purchased some without a prescription here where I live in a neighborhood pharmacy. I don’t have any use for tranquilizers and would never take an antidepressant again. I do get depressed but it just never bothers me anymore! What I do have is a supply of a drug that has helped me in the past with binge eating. I have promised myself that this is going to remain an option, a fallback, just in case nothing else works and the binge eating gets so bad that my life is in danger physically. I’ve been to that point before. However, I have not needed to take any of that drug at all recently. It’s a risk to take it, and if I ever need to resort to it, it’ll be short-term only. I find other things, mostly dietary measures, work far better! Only Big Pharma don’t want us to know! I was really very badly afflicted with ED in the past, it was not a mild case at all, nor was it “secondary” to some other problem, such as impulsivity (I’m not) or perfectionism (I’m not). The ED came darned near close to killing me. It was no joke. I can’t say shrinkage helped at all, especially not therapy, but instead, delayed recovery by several decades.

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      • Why do you keep coming back to this site? When you previously were here, Leah Harris tried to have a civil dialogue with you to no avail and stopped engaging with you People responding to your posts might want to check the archives of these exchanges.
        It seems that when someone has a different point of view, that it is not respected. People come to the site for information, inspiration and open minded discussions. Questioning someone about why they come to the site is not empathitc at all. The person has a “need” and you need to respect that even if you don’t understand it

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        • With all due respect, I think it is a very reasonable question in light of the fact of what went on previously with exchanges between Kate and other commentators, including Leah Harris. Leah was very empathetic and tried to understand where Kate was coming from. In my opinion, she kept kept getting rebuffed by Kate to the point where Leah gave up trying . That is why I asked.

          Funny you demand empathy out of us but you don’t ask the same thing of Kate who keeps constantly demeaning various posters no matter how hard they try to be civil.

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          • Again, what SHE does to others is less of a concern then my comment to your post. Let’s not compare and say “She did it to this person, or that person” We all have to try to be empathetic, if someone is having a hard time putting themselves in other’s shoes we await this capacity to unfold and model empathy in our own behavior.

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          • I’ve always found that if someone is having trouble putting themselves in others shoes, it’s because they are still wearing them.

            Wasn’t it one of your great Americans who said “God heals, the doctor just collects the fees”?

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    • Hi Kate – I’m guessing you care a lot about these issues – and for good reason – or you wouldn’t be posting so much here. At the same time, I remain really curious about who are you speaking for. Are you saying that you, personally, can’t recover and believe that you will need psychiatrists and meds for the rest of your life?

      If so, I’d highly recommend that you read the work of Robert Whitaker, who’s work inspired this blog. I’d also recommend that you read the reports of the British Psychological Society that call much of what you are saying into question. I’d also recommend that you look into the Open Dialogue Approach from Lapland Finland and the Hearing Voices approach, which is now international. All of those resources would suggest that you have much to hope for. So would the numerous consumer-developed approaches that are listed in this resource: http://right2bu.blogspot.com/2015/11/federal-minimum-standards-for-community.html

      If, on the other hand, you are writing on behalf of someone you love, then I’d still recommend that you read these works. The important thing is NOT to give up hope. So many of us who were written off as hopeless by the medical model have been able to recover lives of meaning and value to ourselves, families and communities. Moreover, for some of us, that kind of recovery was able to happen even though we had experienced decades of non-success with conventional treatments.

      Equally important, for a lot of us, that hope – as well as our awareness that there were new possibilities to try – came from people around us who continued to believe in us and look for answers long after we had given up ourselves for dead. Often they did this despite the current system insisting that there was nothing – absolutely nothing (besides what the medical model was offering) — that could be done for us. In effect, these professional ‘helpers’ told our loved ones to write us off and get on with life.

      A deep thanks and a very low bow to all of those courageous family members and friends who flat out refused. You continued to believe in us and hope against the odds. You continued to stand up to a broken system that called you naive, foolish or even crazy for daring to think otherwise.

      Want to talk more about what is possible – as well why it’s both believable and achievable by many, many people who currently are falling through – not the cracks – but the gaping holes that are not even close to being address by the medical model system? Call me – 802-279-3876.

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    • My experience in the mental health treatment system has been of a system that wouldn’t let me go even when I wanted to go. Never wanting it in the first place, that’s a long not letting go.

      What’s more, “wellness” “recovery” or whatever you want to call it, becomes an argument with the “authorities” in the mental health system. If they say you’re not “well”, you have to pretend. Saying you’re “well” when they say you’re “ill” is, to the mental health police, a symptom of “illness”, in fact, an indication you are more”ill”, and thus more in need of treatment, than the person who confesses to his or her “illness”, even if she or he has no “illness” whatsoever.

      I would have been glad to have the mental health system leave me alone, but the mental health system wouldn’t do that. Why? Wearing a paper hat in a hot food joint is their idea of functioning. As far as I’m concerned, that kind of thing takes the fun out of functioning every time. Put me in a position where my existence matters to one degree or another, and the thrill of life hasn’t entirely seeped away. As for spending the duration of my life convalescing with the losers hanging out in some outpatient mental health facility, pulleeze, I’ve got better things to be doing with my time.

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  20. Kate, I stayed in the System for 30 years wondering why I wasn’t getting better, and in fact, after those three decades, I was far worse off. I know I was lied to about my condition many times. I was deceived about side effects of these treatments, I was told that my new worsening condition couldn’t possibly have been treatment-induced. That was a lie and also malpractice, leading to further false diagnoses. I see this happening to many of my friends who buy into these diagnoses and feel hopeless, lost, and suicidal.

    Usually, when people confront me in such rude manner, it is because their own reality is in question, and they need to look in the mirror and ask why they themselves are still in treatment and not improving. It’s probably a good thing. I choose not to be silent about what happened to me.

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  21. Hey look ^^^ Shrodingers cat..

    I’m wondering if this piece of ‘legislation should be renamed the Flesh for Frankenstein [with Murphy amendments] Act? It’s body snatching/grave robbing the living for experimental purposes from what I’ve seen lol

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    • One of the problems with legislation in Western Australia is that those who have a duty to enforce it, don’t even know what the protections are.

      Our Chief Psychiatrist who has a duty to protect “consumers, carers and the community” doesn’t even recognise any protection under the MHA.

      The law states that the conditions to be met for referral are that the practitioner “must suspect on reasonable grounds that the person should be made an involuntary patient” can have them detained and delivered to an authorised hospital.

      Our Chief Psychiatrist writes that the practitioner “need only suspect on grounds they believe to be reasonable that the person requires an assessment by a psychiatrist”.

      Note the change? Burden of proof of “reasonable grounds” removed, and “involuntary patient” becomes a cozy little chat with a psychiatrist.

      How could he possibly be enforcing protections that he doesn’t even know exist? Though it does mean that anyone can be snatched from the street at any time, and there is no recourse to the law.

      So don’t worry too much about the details of the Murphy Bill. They will do what they want to anyway.

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