On Monday, August 1, over 140 people arrived on the Globe’s door step asking for change. They came as a part of a Vigil entitled, ‘The People’s Spotlight.’ The event was in direct response to your ‘Spotlight on Mental Health’ series (still, painfully) called ‘The Desperate and the Dead’ (in case you didn’t catch the play on titles yourself). The demands were relatively simple. They included:
- Afford us basic respect and end your sensationalized, scapegoating approach
- Retract the Globe editorial published in favor of force
- Publish images and words about some of the people with psychiatric diagnoses who have died in restraints, seclusion or at the hands of the police (similar to those images forever burned in so many of our brains of those who were killed and their allegedly diagnosed or diagnosable killers in from your first piece in the series)
- Offer us a chance to be heard (really, truly, genuinely heard)
Weather was good, but police presence was high right from the start. (Are we really that scary? Would the intimidation factor have been as high for other groups, too?) This had the unfortunate effect of limiting the participation of some of our community who were understandably uncomfortable with the threat of police interaction in today’s climate, and in spite of the peaceful nature of this event. (It’s worth noting here that the only physically aggressive act of the day came when a member of the Boston Globe’s security team needlessly ripped a sign out of a protester’s hands. We wonder if you will hold him accountable for his behavior?)
Nonetheless, energy was high, and plans came together. Those plans included recognition of the hundreds of lives lost to so-called ‘treatment’ in the system (as represented by the many placards and flowers pictured above in a photo taken by Boston Globe staff). It also included several brave souls in our large group getting arrested toward the end of the day when they planted themselves firmly on your steps and refused to leave (pictured to the left). It was an action to represent that we still had not been adequately heard, and were nonetheless full of strength and perseverance.
During the course of the day, at least six Globe staff (not including security) surfaced and availed themselves to our crowd. The following people made at least a brief appearance: Spotlight Editor, Scott Allen, Spotlight reporter, Jenna Russell, Editor, Ellen Clegg, and Globe Editor, Brian McGrory. Each offered varying levels of attentiveness to what was said, though I particularly want to thank both Jenna and Ellen for the effort they made to engage, ask questions, and hear people out.
Reporter, Brian MacQuarrie and Photojournalist, Keith Bedford, also joined in, and took on the fascinating task of reporting on an event that was protesting their very own employer’s way of… well… reporting! It was a prime opportunity for the Globe to prove it was listening. And, while their turnaround time was impressive (much more so than my own), they predictably failed at that particular challenge. (Perhaps they’d have done better to take a night or two to chew on all they’d heard.)
The problems with the resultant article were several, but are relatively easily boiled down into this:
Don’t Force Your ‘Empathy’ on Me
“The series demonstrates great empathy for those with mental illness while chronicling sweeping changes that have left many of the most vulnerable — and potentially violent — without adequate care and supervision.” – Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe Reporter, referencing the comments of Scott Allen, Boston Globe Spotlight Team Editor
For the record, the definition of ‘empathy’ (at least according to www.dictionary.com) is “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” The idea that the Globe has successfully connected with our ‘feelings, thoughts, and/or attitudes’ is preposterous, and to claim that they’ve done so while over a hundred people stand virtually on the Globe’s lawn screaming about not being heard seems more than a tad ironic.
Allen’s business is in words, and so I have to imagine he chooses them very carefully, but empathy is not something you can force or feign. You can’t stare someone down and yell, “I am empathizing with you!” There is nothing real about this claim. To suggest the Globe staff has shown us ‘empathy’ in the face of all that we’ve said is just more evidence we are not being heard at all.
It also seems worth noting here that, in his meeting with some of our group, he felt it necessary (as some Spotlight reporters have also done) to point out that the Globe has received many positive letters and words of thanks for their series. Well, let me take this moment to say: All opinions are not created equal. Thanks from someone who has been figuratively bludgeoned by frightening media portrayals, who is blinded by desperation to help a distressed family member, or who is just generally ill-informed and misguided is not the same as the voice of people who’ve been there. (When you authored your series on the Catholic church, was equal stock invested in the words of those who sought primarily to defend it as was put in those who had experienced its abuses first hand?) It is not the same as knowing what ‘treatment’ is like from the inside out. And, to suggest one hundred of their voices is even close to the same as one hundred of our own is itself evidence you’re not truly paying attention.
We Might Be On the Same Page… of Entirely Different Books
“The bottom line, though, is that we want what they want, which is vastly better care for those with mental illness. That’s what this series is about.” – Brian McGrory, Boston Globe Editor
There was little that felt more defeating to me than this line and the suggestion that we’re somehow basically on the same page. McGrory came out during the first third of the Vigil and spoke with a number of people. He perhaps spoke with more of us than any other Globe staff on the premises. Some suggested that, as someone who does not focus specifically on ‘mental health’ reporting, his ‘learning curve’ would be much greater. However, I generally find that those who know that they don’t know make far better listening partners than those who already think that they do. So, that idea actually gave me hope. To my great disappointment, though, it was a hope that wilted fast when I read this quote.
In the end, the truth is if we are on the ‘same page,’ it’s the same page of totally different books. (None of you seem to even be hearing that most of us do not consider ourselves to be ‘mentally ill,’ however we may have been diagnosed! Only one of you to date has taken time to explore what we even mean when we say that.) Sure, it’s fair to say that we all want human beings – including those experiencing various sorts of life disrupting distress – to be treated well. But, who wouldn’t say that? I could go home to my 4-year-old right now, and ask her if she thinks we should treat people better, and she’d most likely (I sure hope) say yes.
Congratulations. None of us are inherently evil. But, before we start saying we ‘all want the same thing,’ we would do best to check and compare our respective ‘wants’ with far greater depth.
The ‘Key Point’ is that People Are Dying Due to Your ‘Life Saving’ Measures
“The key point is that, with a better mental health care system, some of these lives could have been saved.” – Scott Allen, Boston Globe Spotlight Team Editor
Without a doubt, if different decisions were made in some of the stories that the Globe has so elaborately detailed for us, the outcomes would have been different. That’s how life goes. However, there’s an enormous flaw to this argument… two, actually.
First, who the hell has the crystal ball (and where can I get my hands on it)? It’s great to suggest (in hindsight) that perhaps x, y, or z might have been helpful in preventing a particular tragedy, but the reality is that people are living in tenuous situations every day. Sometimes bad things happen because no one’s paying attention or resources run short. Sometimes they still happen even when everyone’s alert. But, most importantly, I’ve yet to come across anyone who’s able to predict what bad thing is going to happen when and to who. Even some trained ‘risk assessment’ experts have (as I’ve mentioned in past blogs) claimed a predictive ability of only about 50%. In other words, their training has gained them an expertise equivalent to flipping a coin.
So, if our ability to predict bad things is going to be so limited, then we better at least make sure that our interventions aren’t likely to do harm, right? (Because, based on all this, we’re inevitably going to be catching up people in our net who should never have been ‘caught,’ and we don’t want to hurt them in the process… right?) Of course, anyone who’s paying attention knows that what are considered to be ‘best practice’ or ‘standard of care’ interventions do hurt, and with some regularity.
So, what if – in an effort to save two lives from the terribleness to which Allen refers above – we intervene in 100 lives and thus shave 25 years off each one? (As aforementioned, research suggests that involvement in the system shortens life expectancy by 25 years.) What of the people dying because of the iatrogenic effects of force and psychiatric drugs?
Surely, if we piled up all the bodies of people who’ve died because of ‘treatment’ (restraint, drugging, etc.), they would tower over those the Globe has taken such great care to name. Perhaps a couple in that tower would have, at some point, lashed out and killed two others in their place had they not been subdued in such a manner. But, in what world does it make sense to pay $100 to save $2?
We Have Lived More Than You Will Ever Read
“Many protesters acknowledged that they had not read the entire series” – Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe Reporter
In what came across as the epitome of defensiveness and poor taste, MacQuarrie felt it necessary to name that some of our group stated that they had not read the entire ‘Spotlight on Mental Health’ series. I’ve more than a few things to say about that.
First, many, many, many of us who were present have read every bit of it. (The voiceless simply must know what those that hold the power are saying in order to best survive.) Some were studying the articles on the buses on the way to the event so as to have your words fresh in our minds. Both electronic and paper versions were being passed around on the bus I rode in on.
Among those of us who have not read it all sit:
- Those who were so deeply upset by it that we simply could not read on
- Those who are so drugged (some by force) that our ability to focus has been robbed from our minds
- Those who are still suffering the negative impact of past ‘treatment’ and have yet to (and may never) regain our ability to read lengthy articles
- Those who are homeless and can’t pay for your paper or readily access it on-line
Perhaps it made you feel somehow better to put this statement in print instead of putting more time and effort into accurately portraying our many voices, but the reality is that we have lived more than you will ever read. We know more about this system than you could ever know. We have survived more than you can ever imagine.
We could write this series better than you’ve ever written.
Enough with the Bad Statistics, Already.
“We documented 139 victims of homicide at the hands of people with mental illness in Massachusetts, which is not a small number.” – Scott Allen, Boston Globe Spotlight Team Editor
This will be my third blog about the Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight on Mental Health’ series, and I’ve already spent a great deal of time detailing the problems with your use of statistics (most notably in my second blog, ‘Dear Boston Globe, Part II: You Forgot the Facts’). To recap briefly, you are using an incredibly loose way of defining who counts as ‘mentally ill,’ and then treating it as fact. You’re then using your ‘fact’ to promote the connection between psychiatric diagnosis and violence in a way that is deeply flawed because… you know… your ‘fact’ isn’t really a fact.
I’ve repeatedly stated that you simply can’t accurately apply percentages of responsibility for murders in the state to people with psychiatric diagnoses if you’re using such loose ways of ruling people in and out. But, on July 29, to my surprise and utter glee, you yourselves published my best piece of evidence yet in your ‘Letters to the Editor’ section. Dear Boston Globe statistical analysts, forget the bunnies. Welcome to your demise:
Regarding the June 26 Spotlight series “The desperate and the dead”: I noticed, on the front page of the Globe, a photo of Nathaniel Fujita, second row, third from right. Then inside, there was a picture of my murdered daughter, Lauren Dunne Astley, first row, second from left.
I respect the Globe’s attempt to spotlight mental illness and its connection to crime. But I do not respect the fact that those two pictures were part of this series. A very talented and hard-working Middlesex assistant district attorney, Lisa McGovern, made the case that Fujita’s behavior was the result of the rage he felt from being rejected by his girlfriend. The jury concluded that one visit to a psychiatrist is not the basis for a mental health problem, and that a “brief psychotic episode,” as the defense described it, was not what motivated Fujita.
I favor examining and improving our mental health care system in Massachusetts, but I also favor truth in reporting, and I object to your team’s inclusion of the Fujita case in its coverage. I do not want people thinking he was somehow wrongly accused. He was not. The prosecutor proved it, and the jury concluded that she was correct.
Mary Dunne, Weston
Okay, folks, I have a tendency to run long, so let’s wrap this up. In your article about our event, you quoted some of our signs. You included slogans like, “Fear mongering does not heal,” and “Stop scapegoating me!” I prefer the following:
“Real reporters tell the truth”
“Real reporters challenge power”
Based on my experience, I absolutely believe that some of you have great potential. But, will you live up to this advice?
I hear the next piece in the series comes out on Sunday. I can’t wait!
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.
Cool a real life protest outside cyber world !
“Ask your doctor” Why big media never scrutinizes the psychiatric pharmacuitical industry wile making billions advertising their products.
Indeed, cat! 🙂 Great ‘ask your doctor’ suggestion. 🙂
Sera, I cannot agree with you more about this terrible article. Thank for taking it on point by point!
I just want to add how petty and mean spirited that last sentence was. How many so-called “readers” of the Globe never read the article? I am guessing many, if not most, did no more than look at the pictures of us as murderers and take away that basic message: “They are all violent and dangerous.” They didn’t have to read the article because the pictures spoke louder than words.
So we brought our own pictures of those who died due to restraints, abuse, neglect and militarized policing. Our message we equally basic: “The mental health/criminal justice system is killing us. We are 6 times more likely to be murdered than the general population. We are 11 times more likely to be victims of violent crime. You don’t have to read the Globe’s hate speech to know these facts.
We came out to honor our fallen. We came to vigil for the truth.
How offensive it would have been for a reporter to come to the funeral of one of the police officers recently killed and ask the participants “Did you read the all the articles about why these police officers were killed?” And then to somehow suggest that the mourners had not right to be there if they had not.
We came to mourn those we have lost. Shame on the Globe for belittling us in our grief. Shame on the Globe for not publishing all the nearly 700 faces of those who died to systemic violence. Shame on the Globe for not covering the facts!
Thanks, Justin. You are, of course, right on all these points. And thank you for being one of those who was willing to get arrested for the cause. 🙂
Would you all consider this a watershed moment?It seems to harken back to the Mad Pride movement in Toronto in the early 1980s. I have recently been having my own run in with Psychiatric authorities in my private and personal life. It is good to know that people are acting collectively on this front.
I’m gratified that some kind of protest took place in Boston over the nonsense printed in their paper. Who could take this kind of thing lying down? Standing up to those behind it is the thing to do! I also know that there are many places in the USA where people wouldn’t take such action. It’s good to see that there you had the numbers to let yourselves be heard. Also, that you made a point of letting them know how you felt.
More money in the mental health system is not always a good thing, especially when this money is supposedly earmarked for more forced treatment as a matter of violence prevention. We aren’t a violent people to begin with. They can make so-called “care” worse as well as better, and that’s where much of this spending often takes us. We are people, and just like other people, members of the public. This is something I think the media keeps forgetting.
Thanks, Frank. Yes, it would definitely energizing to see everyone come together and get behind this effort. I agree with you that more money into the system (at least in its current state) is not necessarily a good thing. I did try to make the point that the ‘care’ they’re trying to push and argue to fund is often hurting us.
‘Risk assessment’ experts… So, what if – in an effort to save two lives from the terribleness to which Allen refers above – we intervene in 100 lives and thus shave 25 years off each one?
In criminal law, Blackstone’s formulation is the principle that “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”
A trolley is hurtling down a track towards two people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by putting something very heavy in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you – your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save two. Should you proceed ?
“Briefly put, Americans see merit in the principle that a person accused of crime should be considered innocent until proven guilty and that it is better to let a thousand guilty persons go free than incarcerate a single innocent person. In the case of a person accused of mental illness, Americans see merit in exactly the opposite principle: namely, that such a person should be considered mentally sick until proven otherwise, and that it is better to hospitalize a thousand persons who do not need treatment than to deprive a single person of the treatment he needs for his mental illness.”
Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences, Thomas S. Szasz
Szasz was a nincompoop academic who sat in his easy chair and pontificated about the lower classes. Give it up, dude.
Szasz said involuntary treatment was a crime against humanity. Okay. Let’s just fucking ignore the suffering. Great. You know what’s a real crime? Not using your God given intelligence to assess and critically analyze an issue. It’s not an education thing. Children can figure this stuff out and that seems to stump a lot of you “activists.” Go to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Picture Szasz strolling amongst the drug addicts and the chronically schizophrenic. You people are being laughed at.
Lets take a stroll through an inpatient psychiatric ward where people are shuffling around brain dead full of Haldol, others getting beaten down by staff screaming and yelling. Everyone locked in an environment full of violence that can come there way at any time with no place to run.
The people you talk about on Vancouver’s streets prefer the streets to psychiatric incarceration for good reason.
I can live with being laughed at. Falsely imprisoned, poisoned, and beat up, not so much.
Circa, you are embracing chemical lobotomies. Please try one for yourself. It will make you feel less angry, paranoid, and it will certainly make it easier for other people to shut you up.
I must say this philosophical bullshit is getting beyond tedious. Deal with the real issue: Crazy person writhing on the floor and screaming that her hands and feet are on fire. What shall we do? Pull out “The Myth of Mental Illness” and read it to her? Fuck around.
I’m thinking St. Anthony’s Fire- ergot? But where from?
I guess that means I’m incapable of having psychiatric awareness, or of running with Thomas Szasz.
Can’t read you. Are you being sarcastic? Is this a jibe against Szasz?
I’m not impressed by Thos. Szasz, but the symptomatic individual you described sounds like she’s suffering from ergotism (burning hands and feet are the possible key), which is similar to medieval descriptions of St. Anthony’s Fire, a common ailment of the day in Europe.
I am was & will be impressed by Thomas Szasz. Unlike so many in his field he did not treat people against their will and wishes. He also didn’t shock people or give them psychiatric drugs. The same cannot be said of the vast majority of professionals in his field. If you didn’t like his method, no problem, you could seek counsel elsewhere. He was for freedom. He was against punishing the innocent, and he was against exonerating the guilty. Both practices of which, to my way of thinking, don’t particularly benefit most people who have had less than amicable interactions with the mental health system.
I think you are conflating two very different issues, as is very common in this kind of article. The first: do people experience distress to the degree that they are unable to care for themselves and/or present a danger to the community? The obvious answer is YES, and I don’t think there is a single person posting here who would object to a person engaging in dangerous or intentionally threatening or violent behavior being arrested and held until such time as they are safe.
The second question, which I don’t think you’re addressing here, is what is supposed to happen to such a person once they are taken into custody? Does the fact that a person is acting in a way that isn’t considered socially acceptable give the community license to do whatever they want to them? Even criminals have to be convicted based on evidence, and their sentences are limited based on the crime. But the “mentally ill,” when so labeled, are now subject to the doctors engaging in almost any “treatment” without their consent, even when such “treatment” is shown to result in early death, or is clearly not helping or making things worse.
How do you suggest we address the problem of people being taken into custody based on some subjective perception of “threat to self or others,” and then losing most of their civil rights, including the right to protest to harmful treatments? Are you following the case of the guy in Australia, who has clearly and repeatedly elucidated rational reasons for his wanting them to stop electrically shocking his brain, but has been ignored for years and years?
I am not opposed to the idea of someone being taken into custody for their own or others’ safety. I am opposed to forcing “treatment” on them, especially when they are in a rational enough place to honestly understand the pros and cons and communicate their objections.
Hope that makes sense.
“Does the fact that a person is acting in a way that isn’t considered socially acceptable give the community license to do whatever they want to them?”
The answer to this in my State is yes, and I have the letters from the Chief Psychiatrist and Minister to prove it. It appears that they thought that when they turned a blind eye to the fact that I could be drugged without my knowledge and have a knife planted in my pocket to obtain a police referral, and conceal the ‘remote’ detention, that I was actually designated someones “patient”. Problems arise enabling this sort of behaviour on compassionate grounds when they later find out the person was no ones patient, and they have conspired to kidnap etc.
Patient? Anything goes, literally, spike them if you like, we don’t care and in fact we will thank you for it. Plant knifes and yell mental illness? yep, no probs our police are not very good shoots and usually miss anyway lol.
They have enables carte blanche and zero accountability. Mental Health here is lawlessness.
I mean, when the Chief Psychiatrist can re write the MHA (law) to remove the protections contained therein, and make what were criminal offenses perfectly lawful, what chance has the community or any individuals got?
“suspect on reasonable grounds” an objective legal standard and protection became “suspect on grounds the believe to be reasonable”, a subjective interpretation which can not be legally tested? And just never report any offenses to the appropriate authorities because that standard “suspect on reasonable grounds that an offense with a prison term of more than 2 years” is mandatory is never met because he is never suspicious of doctors, only patients.
Hospitals doing remote snow jobs for private clinic psychologists who ring up and let em know their target is ready and waiting with a referral planted in their pocket? No, no, no ….. we will have to….. cover it up lol.
Not much chance it will ever come to light though.
The State, now convinced that you are someones patient look the other way whilst the psychologist arranges an unintended negative outcome in an ED.
Traumatised by the drugging/kidnapping one might even walk into such a place with a little prompting. You then find yourself being restrained for saying no to drugs which are prohibited to you (its an emergency) and effectively threatened with a large needle (sorry bout your known phobia). Woopsie, …. got a free bed here 🙂
And this does relate to having a voice.
I have stood and watched public officer after public officer commit serious criminal offenses against both me and my community, safe in the false belief that I was someones patient. They may have pandered to my delusional belief that I had some rights, but they all seemed to be aware that at the end of the day they had an Ace up their sleeve and that they could do anything they liked to me because it is not possible to commit an offense against someone with a label.
It’s ugly to watch, because these are people acting in good faith? Good faith crimes? Really difficult to reconcile what it is like to be treated as a ‘patient’ when you believe you are human.
I must read Black Like Me someday
Treatment Induced Homicide (/Suicide).
If this Adverse drug information is being routinely hidden by Doctors then, of course the public think that ‘medications’ make people safer.
Treatment is often in the form of long acting injection like fluphenazine decanoate:-
From the LINK please note:- “reported rarely”
“….Cases of suicide associated with fluphenazine induced akathisia have been reported rarely. Other authors have suggested that an association between neuroleptic use and suicide risk is uncertain…”
I have reported suicidal reaction to long acting injection to doctors many times – but none so far have “reported” this, even to my personal records.
On careful examination my original base records do support Adverse Suicidal reaction to these “medications”.
“I am not opposed to the idea of someone being taken into custody for their own or others’ safety.”
I am opposed to this kind of thing. I am not opposed to the idea of taking somebody into custody because they have broken the law of the land. Mental health law constitutes a big hole, some would say loophole, in the law of the land.
“I am opposed to forcing “treatment” on them, especially when they are in a rational enough place to honestly understand the pros and cons and communicate their objections.”
I am opposed to harming them. Shock treatments are guaranteed harm. This is, more than psychological, physiological damage. Just think of the numbers of laws then are being discarded whenever force is being applied due to mental health law, presumably for the protection of the patient and society, in reality, to get an inconvenient person out of the way.
Taking people into custody for “mental health” reasons always involves a “subjective perception” of threat, or, at least, some sort of leap to judgment. Due process is entirely scrapped. What’s more, there is a definite double standard involved. You can’t legislate people logical. Illusion will be pursued whether you want it or not. Illusion will be pursued within the legal system as well as without.
Standing ovation, Frank, for your whole comment but most of all for this:
Just think of the numbers of laws then are being discarded whenever force is being applied due to mental health law, presumably for the protection of the patient and society, in reality, to get an inconvenient person out of the way.
I know what you’re saying and don’t really disagree. People can’t be trusted to “care” for someone when they have authority over them. I do think it’s important, though, to distinguish that being opposed to enforced treatment does NOT mean being opposed to law enforcement being involved when someone’s doing something dangerous or illegal to someone else. I often get the argument, “What, so people should be able to run around threatening or hurting others and nothing happens to them?” I always am clear that violating social rules should result in being restrained, but that does NOT mean that I get to label you as “ill” and “treat” you against your will. It means you have to stop hurting people in order to maintain your freedom, just like anyone else who commits a criminal act against another in society. It is the automatic coupling of detention with “treatment” that makes that argument even possible, so I want to be sure and decouple them, so people know I’m not advocating for anarchy or mayhem, but I’m against labeling and forcing “treatment” on someone just because they behave in a way that violates social expectations for safety and respect of others’ property.
Well, I guess not because we have to refer to the brilliant and eminent Peter Singer and his “vacuous principle” to make the right choice. Before I get piled on, let me tell you that the quotation is from one Doctor Thomas Szasz.
I’m not sure if you are being sarcastic when you refer to Peter Singer glowingly, but he’s no hero to many, advocating for euthanasia of children with disabilities…
My thanks to all who organized and participated in this Vigil, and my thanks to you Sera for your articles and your perseverance in keeping this issue in the spotlight. I believe this is exactly the type of tangible action that will eventually lead to change (even if it feels that noone is listening). Let’s hope for at least some small positive change on Sunday. At least the Globe reporters I am sure are now reading all of your articles .
Do you guys want to be listened to? Then start making sense.
Circa, you might consider taking a time out for a week or two and just read the articles and comments. Then you’d have a better sense of where people are coming from & would find it easier to participate & comment more knowledgeably.
I hope they are reading on the one hand… Although, on the other hand, I’m in talks with them to get an op ed in their paper, and also hoping that this blog doesn’t put them off to wanting to include the op ed. 🙂 But, I figure they got to know me because of these blogs, so it wouldn’t make much sense if they stopped being willing to publish me because another one of them!
Or you could crank it up a notch and just dialogue with them, Sera.
Already been doing that, Circa… In fact, I’ve spent literal hours talking directly with various Globe staff… As did many people attempt to talk to Globe staff before the article I’m rebutting here was written…
You seem to have landed here with a particular axe to grind that has little to do with what I’ve written. I wonder if you could take at least that part elsewhere?
If the issue is forced treatment, then my “axe to grind” belongs here. If you wish me elsewhere, so be it. Have a nice day.
You’re welcome to argue force, although it diverges from the focus of this blog. But you’re also posting multiple messages about Mad in America censorship here, which feels quite a bit more off course.
Sera, in solidarity … it’s all the same thing. Crazy people are getting fucked over.
I just want to say that you’ve done a great job taking on the Globe and helping organize a very successful demonstration taking on these very real human rights issues.
Kudos to all those who participated and to those people willing to get arrested for the cause.
I definitely would have joined in if I hadn’t had an important prior commitment. Keep us posted as this struggle continues.
In Solidarity, Richard
Thanks, Richard! Would have been great to have you there, but perhaps next time. 😉
If I lived in Boston I would get up real early go to the nearest newspaper machine put in some coins then take ALL the papers and stick them in the nearest trash can and then walk away with a smile.
Putting JB weld into the coin slot would be funny as hell too.
You should have the papers recycled, so they can be turned into something useful, like insulation.
Thanks Sera and to the other brave souls
I am wondering if the s team is suffering from negative undue influence from somewhere
I am thinking of Fr Andrew Greeley’s life before he died and his brief stint in a psych unit mentioned very briefly in one of his writings
I am thinking of some of the passages from “Black Like Me” the ones that reference fear
I would also pay attention to the dialogue in the S movie and the oppposing attorney about undue negative influence he deigned not to discuss
I would rewarch “Hearts of Atlantis” and watch out for the low men men there and in “Breaking Bad”
Also those that have fraught the RCC many have had to seek help in various forms healthy and non healthy ways
Just go figure and follow the money and find where did the other s team go?
Listen to pleasure and privilege by I don’t know what group on you tube
Wish I were there
Yours in you know what
Yes, a lot of people are asking and wondering about influences that may be less obvious or visible… Thanks for raising up that question once again. 🙂
Sera, could you please tell me if the Globe is a respectable newspaper? Is it like the New York Times? I’ve never read it. I’m just trying to gauge how much impact the article(s) is/are having. Where is the article being discussed? And should we move our discussion there for now?
It’s generally seen as a newspaper of substance, and the team that is responsible for the ‘Spotlight on Mental Health’ series is award-winning for their past series against abuse in the Catholic Church. A movie was made about it.
I would be too afraid to protest due to the pink slip issue but good for all of you
I am wondering if there are violations of the HIPPA law with all of this?
I just read suicide is the highest cause of police deaths
Not sure the reference but I think it would behoove the spotlight team to look into that whole issue
My guess is police are basically peers but it is the elephant in the living room
Would also work with police and ploiticians
Scary for many in power to admit
I see both police as good folks with some really bad apples and slot traumatized by a job that makes them on a daily basis overreach initially on multiple levels
How many job openings are there as compared to Wall Street?
I would guess
Also folks want to forget Sen Thomas Egleton? So
His story needs checking into
Madame Secretary the tv show brought up P ST D fine to have it if you are rich
Get incarcerated if you one of the msrginaluzed or worse and definYelt no mercy and lots of priveleged judgement
Also I would check out current surgeon general
Where his his voice
No Evert Kiop he
He does clinical trials had a mba and wants to festivities mental illness
The phrase that tells all
One more thing check out St Elsewhere the tv show
had some very good stuff on med taking and option to choose
Maybe if you force spotlight to look hard enough long enough their retaining walls just might break with the force of waves
Ah the typos!
Sorry do your best
The picture at the top of this page –
of the three orderlies controlling the person with “mental illness” is symbolic of what is wrong with the approach to severe emotional distress in this country. It’s all about controlling people’s behavior and giving them drugs, not about listening to the suffering person and offering them resources that may actually help like housing, job training, psychotherapy, family support, friendship, kindness, etc.
I think most people in our culture simply cannot understand what it is like to be in the system and be forced to take drugs, have an illness identity forced on you, have your movement and ability to think restricted, etc. Most people simply do not have the experience to relate, and understand so little about how emotional distress has been warped into “mental illness” that it is difficult to begin helping them understand what Big Pharma and the mental health industrial complex has done.
Nothing else to say here – but another good essay, Sarah.
Thanks, BPD. Yeah, the picture at the top of that page is terrible. It’s hard for me to understand why people look at that and say, ‘Oh yeah, that makes sense.’ Who wouldn’t get *more* panicked and agitated with large bouncers crowding in on them…
Nice work, Sera and those who protested! This misinformation and ignorance that the Boston Globe is perpetuating in Spotlight about mental illness and the real underlying issues that drive individuals to do violent and bizarre acts is so off target and certainly driven by a push to have policies of more forced treatment. What I see and work in is a very disconnected and fragmented system within a wider system of poverty, inequality and oppression. I have been working in Boston area doing home visits lately and have been astounded by the mass poverty I see for those labeled with “mental illness”. Medicating realities of a society that is consumed now with the almighty dollar caused by a stock market crash perpetuated by the greed of Wall Street and bankers and people who thought more about their own self-interest than society as a whole. Societal ills are not caused by the mentally ill who are just canaries in the mine. I am more afraid of the greed of banks and hedge fund managers than I am of the “mentally ill” whom I have worked for years in very impoverished urban areas. The mental health system of medication and forced treatment is to soothe our own conscience that our problems are caused by these “other” human beings, so different from the rest of “normal” society when in reality western “civilized” corporate culture and greed and plain sinfulness have caused these victims to be ill.
Could I please have it explained to me what exactly the Globe did wrong?
I see the Globe just not reporting the whole picture, over focus on violence of the mentally ill and really trying to create policy changes such as creation of more mental institutions and forced outpatient treatment. I just do not see it as balanced reporting. I agree with many points. Certainly there are individuals with greater risk of violence due to past histories of violence, access to weapons, interpersonal, especially family conflict and abuse, and substance use. Instead of caring for these individuals through access to good programs that offer skill building such as interpersonal conflict resolution, job placement, and ability to move out of poverty. There are good programs out there, just need to know how to access it and need families to help their loved ones instead of discard and abandon them. I did not agree with the rapid closing of state hospitals without having infrastructure in the community to absorb the numerous issues such as housing, supervision, day structure and job placement. Community mental health workers are extremely underpaid, overworked, under trained and asked to work in very dangerous areas that put their own safety in jeopardy. We had individuals on the medical unit I worked who did not want to leave because they had no where to go. People dying of alcohol and drug use with liver disease and pancreatitis. Now you can say, Circa, well why do they drink and do drugs, just stop, well simpler said then done. Substance abuse programs are even more difficult to access. There is a lot of suffering going around and people dying. Unfortunate casualties of a world of excessive opportunities for some and few for others. Volunteer and do your part helping your own community. Less talk, more action. We have enough philosophers and talking heads, need people to take political and community action. Thanks, all, for caring enough about someone other than yourself and your own self interest and to engage in tough discussions and put it into action.
I didn’t read your whole comment but I just wanted to throw out here that the journalist we need on our side is Susan Inman of the Huffington Post. Her book “After Her Brain Broke” is on its way to my house from amazon.ca as we speak.
Double bonus: Ms. Inman is seriously backed by the big players (Torrey, Jaffe, etc.) She also writes for The Tyee. Don’t get mad at me for saying this, please, but Susan Inman is our friend. Be nice to her.
Forget about the Glob.
Sorry, Circa, but Inman is – as you say – aligned with Jaffee, Torrey, and so many others that are doing harm with their extreme force ridden views… Inman openly criticizes everything from the Hearing Voices movement to Open Dialogue, and seems just as stuck on a one-note portrayal of these experiences and what is needed to help people who are having them as the next worst person I wouldn’t want to run into in a dark blog alley…
It’s certainly your choice to appreciate what she says, but I’m not interested in making friends with her.
No need to apologize, Sera. Truly, I was only telling you what you should do. I’m aware that you won’t. The other side ridicules the organic sultanas because it’s not peer-reviewed respectable research. Sorry.
Inman is no journalist! She’s a schoolteacher and a typical NAMI-mommy ideologue who happens to have a blog. She is not a friend to anyone capable of thinking critically about psychiatry.
Circa, you’ll hate my review of Susan Inman’s book: “Lots of people disagree with the NAMI approach.” https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R27E28S13696QI/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0981003788
Unfortunately, substance abuse programs usually aren’t geared to deal with addicts who chance to be “mentally” ill. The poohbahs of the program I worked for were thunderstruck when two such individuals actually graduated from theirs. The Great Ones were unaware I had treated them with a simple program using niacinamide, and I wasn’t about to tell them as they were trying to get me to quit, while I wasn’t going to be fired with “reasonable” cause, forfeiting my unemployment.
But those two conditions so often occur simultaneously! May I share a little too much information? I’m manic right now. That’s why I stay up all night and type 160 w.p.m. comments all over the internet. I need some downers but none are available. Well, that’s what Christie’s Pub is for! I think I drank, oh, maybe 8 pints of beer yesterday and will likely do the same today. What should I do?
Maybe learn to meditate? Get some sleep?
Thank you, knowledgeispower. I appreciate your recognition of the impact of the various societal ills on the emotional state of those most directly impacted. It is a part of what I find most painful about this work… Being told we’re to support people to move through emotional crises that supposedly come out of nowhere, when we have little to no control over (but all too much awareness of) so many of the environmental conditions that are often at the root.
Thanks, Sera. This is a tough article for me professionally as 2 of the people pictured in the Globe were adolescents on the unit I worked. One there on forensic status after killing another adolescent and another who later killed whom we did everything to help clinically but there is a limit to what can do when someone so damaged by childhood abuse that he became an abuser himself. Even with working with an excellent team of well-trained, experienced and caring staff, there are limits to successful treatment and recovery. No consolation for the two innocent people and the families of those that these two young men killed. Horrible tragedies happen all the time despite best of efforts. There certainly were signs and precursors that the school and parents saw that one can find and assign blame. I can only speak to what I could control, treating parents and patients with respect and dignity, doing my best clinical work with the years of experience and training I had, seeking numerous consults and supervisions, and following due process of the laws and procedures of the hospital and the legal system. My heart and prayers go to continued victims of abuse of all forms.
What a beautiful post. Thank you. You should write your own article.
from the start of your article:
“•Afford us basic respect and end your sensationalized, scapegoating approach”
Who is this “us”? You are asking people to identify as mentally ill?
And if instead you mean “survivors of the psychiatric system”, then you are asking for respect?
Either way it is all still just pity seeking.
Identifying with non-existent illnesses, or asking for respect for having survived completely illegitimate abuses, but without any direct acts to oppose them. All just more pity seeking!
And all the worse because this is all tied to a resurgence of Social Darwinism and Eugenics. These pseudo sciences put forward the notion that some portion of the population is not really fit to survive. You feed this when you ask for pity.
Capitalism needs to have people it can submit to ritual humiliations, in order to maintain discipline. It used to get this from those doing low wage labor and slave labor. But today the need for such labor is much less, while the need for having people to subject to ritual humiliations grows ever higher.
So it is the middle-class family which provides the scapegoats, those relegated to lives of alcohol, drugs, and medication, and who are held up for ritual humiliations.
And every time someone is asking for pity, they are compounding this. And this is why I will have no contact with Mind Freedom.
Telling the newspaper what it should print, but not demanding specific compensations from abusers, and not doing anything to oppose the continuing abuse of more children and adults.
People should be 100% refusing any psychiatric labels and 100% rejecting any of these so called “treatments”, and showing that they won’t allow any more people to be subjected to them and insisting on criminal prosecution and financial compensation.
1. Eradicate the Mental Health System.
2. Prosecute the Doctors for Crimes Against Humanity in International Court.
3. Interdict any ongoing mental health system activities.
4. When applied to children, prosecute doctors and parents, and strip both of all assets, to be held in trust for the child. Also prosecute doctors for Violating Mandatory Reporting, for Child Endangerment, and for Child Abuse.
5. Prosecute for historical mental health treatments and strip doctors and parents of all assets, on behalf of survivors.
6. Refuse all psych meds, Psychotherapy, and Recovery or Rehabilitation Programs.
7. Citizenship Pay instead of Welfare or Disability money.
8. Free accredited degree programs via supervised independent study and life long learning.
I honestly grow weary of these posts that accuse me of asking people to identify as ‘mentally ill.’ I’m pretty sure my perspective is clear, and that if not as much in this one, than other blogs have surely made it evident that I do not think in that manner.
When I speak of ‘us,’ I’m often speaking of those of us who the Globe and others *believe* they’re speaking for… Calling us ‘the mentally ill’ and accepting that paradigm on our behalf, is but one of their many affronts.
How to stop mental illness? Stop the lies.
The “environmental conditions” that created my diagnosable mental illness had its roots in lies and coercion – coercion for me to become complicit in lies against myself.
Now I get it.
And no one would say I’m crazy now, unless they knew I was once labeled.
And if they knew I was once labeled, ‘they’ will still say I’m crazy – without any factual basis – when they need to use it to dismiss their own mistakes and dysfunction.
Stop the lies.
Stop the coercion for me to be complicit in your lies to me. You set me up against myself. You set up the arguments in my head that I ‘reasonably’ wanted to quiet.
You set me up: trusted parents, trusted caregivers, trusted priests, intolerant community, community of denial: “priests don’t do that.”
There isn’t a pill that cures ‘environmental conditions.’
Stop the lies.
Globe, Sera is pointing out your lies.
Listen up, Globe, and take a step toward preventing, rather than perpetuating, mental illness.
Your words are powerful, evocative. This sounds like a poetry-slam piece; it needs to be performed, absorbed deep the way poets speak to the deeper truths. Thank you.
Thanks so much for your post. I especially like this line, “And if they knew I was once labeled, ‘they’ will still say I’m crazy – without any factual basis – when they need to use it to dismiss their own mistakes and dysfunction.”
lu, I appreciate your point of view and your willingness to look at the situation critically.
“You set me up: trusted parents, trusted caregivers, trusted priests, intolerant community, community of denial: “priests don’t do that.”
I wish everyone who has ended up in the mental health system or otherwise living on the margins could come to see how it is like this for them too. When it gets this way, things can finally start to change. People won’t see themselves as the victims of random happenings. People will understand that it is deliberate and systemic injustice.
But, I think you have still only traveled half of the journey. You are seeing that there is injustice behind what has happened, but what you are doing amounts to asking for allowances and accommodations, all another way of asking for pity.
The stigmatizing and scapegoating of children is by design. Capitalism needs this in order to maintain discipline, and the middle-class family exists only to do this, exploit and abuse children.
This is war.
So what we need to focus on is not asking for allowances and understanding, but on concrete political results.
Close down the mental health system and prosecute doctors. Confiscate the assets of the parents and doctors and place them in trust for the children and other victims.
Then offer supervised independent study based schools, and convert from welfare and disability benefits to citizenship pay.
This Boston Globe, yes they are a problem. But I do not go along with the way Sera is handling it, or any of her articles here. It is all just asking for pity. I would be ashamed to be involved in anything like this.
Why worry about trying to tell the newspaper what they should print, when right now today, parents are driving their kids to psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and disabilities doctors. These doctors do not report the parents to CPS, as they should. These doctors market their services to the parents. The present their philosophy, that these are loving parents, and so they will in turn make their children compliant by making the children believe that they have a defect. Some of these doctors do this with drugs, and some do it while taking the child off drugs. But both types are professional state licensed child abusers. And they are competing for market share.
And then all this passivity feeds right into the Social Darwinists, and their premise that many people are not fit to live. They feel that this untouchable cast deserves no better than what they already have because of how unfit they are.
So how can you tell the newspapers what they should be writing, when you have not given them something else to write about?
Who is calling for Crimes Against Humanities prosecution of these doctors? Who is calling for full enforcement of mandatory reporting in suspected cases of child abuse, rather than letting these doctors market to well-off parents?
Who is telling the parents that they have expert lawyers ready, and that they will be held accountable for abusing their child?
Protest at the newspaper office?
That won’t accomplish much. Why not protest at these clinics and psych wards? And why not protest in fronts of the offices these private practice psychotherapists?
And don’t ask for consideration, as that is must more pity. Make the most blistering indictments of these people you possibly can. Demand that our government stop funding any of this. And demand that they stop licensing these people too. We don’t license faith healers, psychics, or channelers, so we should not be licensing psychotherapists.
If Scientologists were telling people that they could fix their children by interrogating them with an E-meter and then getting them to renounce all their cares and concerns and making them just like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, those Scientologists would soon find themselves in jail.
But psychotherapists get to do something very similar, and to market to parents, because our government licenses them. The licensing is what makes it 20x more dangerous than it should be.
So protests should be blistering indictments of the people doing the abuse, and calling for specific political reforms and punishments. Protesting against a newspaper, even a stupid newspaper, is misguided, and really just pity seeking.
First let me say thank you to everyone of the people who had the courage to stand up out front of the Bustin Glob to protest their failure to listen and report facts. Shame on them.
However, I also believe their are some subtle forces at work here which ensure that they are not in a position to, they are in many ways painted into a corner. This they share with those diagnoses as ‘mentally ill’. They are not free to speak truth to power for a number of reasons which I won’t go into here.
To me though it seems that (certainly from my experience) there is a need to recognise what actually occurs with the application of a label of ‘mental illness’. The person no longer has a voice (doctor now speaks for you) and human and civil rights are an option at the discretion of the labelling doctor. It’s a horrible realisation when for example in my case you provide proof of criminal offenses to police, and a doctor has claimed you are their patient and have a mental illness depsite the fact that this is untrue. The whole State mechanism now turns it’s back on you, not bothering to check if you are a patient or not. Doctor said it, it must be true. Police can’t find their copy of the Criminal Code, Chief Psychiatrist doesn’t know the MHA, or what a burden of proof is….and on it goes.
Good news in among this? Police here have been having trouble with cases of domestic violence. They have earmarked about 700 people who are serial offendeder who in the past they could do nothing about, despite their wishes to give them a few knee drops to the head and break all their fingers. It’s a tough job finding places out of camera view these days. So the State government has made domestic violence into mental illness and the police are now free to drop people off at hospitals and we get to bash their skull in with chemicals and if necessary, kill them.
Though to be doing that when you have a whole bunch of people willingly participating in ‘treatment’ and they notice that the brain damage they are dishing out to wife beaters is the same stuff they are taking ‘voluntarily’. There are other ‘target’ groups, mainly that addictions/dependence is also being handed over for human rights removal to enable ‘treatments’ (lotts of information about known drug dealers should become available to police with the assistance of drugging suspects before interrogation).
Tough though if the Bustin Glob starts making this too obvious to those not already in the know right?
So yeah, I hope the victims of this system which will allow police to deliver anyone who has a legitimate complaint about police conduct to a hospital for human and civil rights removal and ‘treatment’ actually get a voice. But it won’t be as a result of a rag toeing the party line.
More power to ya for speaking truth to power.
It’s all a legal card trick, and ya just make sure the ‘marks’ never figure it out until their money is out of their pockets and into yours.
Sorry, don’t know how to make it sound all medical and stuff, and I haven’t got any letters to put after my name but …. and why to I keep having the same typo when it comes to the Bustin Glob lol
In fact, here in Australia it has got to the point legally that it should be mandatory for doctors to read you Miranda rights because anything you say can be handed over to authorities based on it being “compassionate communication”
And I must say that in my case where I was interrogated by police via a Mental Health proxy ‘assessment’ I get. The real worry for me is the enabling of drugging suspects without their knowledge before doing so, and then disappearing the proof of this and slandering the victim as paranoid delusional. All those ‘just between you and me conversations’ used to be criminal, not anymore.
See, as a doctor, psych, mental health nurse all one needs to do is arrange for a trusted famliy member to drug the person who you disagree with and put a referral in their pocket in the form of a knife. Call the hospital and say they are your patient, and a wife beater and a Community Nurse and police will attend the persons home.
Police find the knife, hand you over to Community Nurse, who then orders you to a hospital where a doctor knowing your a ‘patient’ now acts in good faith and gives you the wife beater ‘treatment’. No need for any facts, we know the drill and the State takes over and does the bashing for you.
Person now agrees with whatever their new ‘patient’ says lol. I like the new MHA 🙂
Thanks for chiming in. I agree there certainly are a number of forces keeping things the way they are..
First of all, 140 people is amazingly impressive and however you did that keep the recipe because I think this is the big story.
Hopefully you are closer to internalizing that corporate media don’t care about reasonable arguments. They’re polling the audience to see what they like to read and believe and pandering to that to stay in business. I remember journalism but it is rarely found in corporate outlets like the Globe. If they reported this accurately they’d be in trouble with their corporate pharmaceutical sponsors. Period.
Again, this is amazing that you pulled this kind of crowd together. Rather than presenting the press with your story and judging your effectiveness based on how they “report” it, you should make a main goal of such a demo to expose the Globe to the public. And I hope people are talking Murphy Murphy Murphy all the time with the Senate vote coming up so very soon.
Oh, and you just catalogued practically every sleazy propaganda gimmick in the book as far as their responses, which are likely computer-generated or close. We should analyze them all.
P.S. I think people should consider demonstrating outside NAMI events directly. I debated them once right when they were first forming. Piece of cake. I ended up with a standing ovation and lots of angry NAMIs. Of course that was when “progressives” were more progressive.
Thanks as always for popping in. 🙂 Murphy definitely remains a topic on the forefront out here, including at this protest… Though I’m losing optimism there, for sure.
I know there is so much truth in this:
“They’re polling the audience to see what they like to read and believe and pandering to that to stay in business. I remember journalism but it is rarely found in corporate outlets like the Globe. If they reported this accurately they’d be in trouble with their corporate pharmaceutical sponsors. Period.”
And yet, I do keep hoping there’ll be another Whitaker or what have you among the bunch… They certainly did have to push back against the powers that be to write their piece on the church as they did…
But in the end, regardless of what they do, this was something that energized a relatively large group of people and informed hopefully at least some of the public a little bit more!
As you know (I think) I along with others are working hard on developing anti-Murphy talking points for those of us who don’t consider ourselves “mental health consumers” and which address the situation more directly and realistically than those formulated by the “mental health advocacy” people. We want more serious anti-Murphy people to get involved: http://www.madinamerica.com/forums/topic/we-need-our-own-murphy-talking-points/
As for the Globe, they are surely listening to you; they’re just not about to give you a platform. And your evaluation of the event’s success should not be based on the quality of their reporting, which, after all, was the impetus for the demo to begin with.
I’m still really happy that you did this. I hope everyone found it empowering.
You know one way of having your voice heard would be to wear a white coat and stethoscope. Eddie Berneys explained the power of this to Letterman at one stage I believe. Dressed as ‘patients’ no one listens but ….. dressed as doctors, we now have a voice.
140 doctors with signs saying things like “Sedate the Schizos”, “Bash the Bi Polars” and “Dungeons not Doctors”? Something the community can rally around sort of thing lol
I was reminded of our Chaser team delivering ‘Osama bin Laden” to within 10 meters of George W Bushes hotel at APEC. Once your voice has authority ya can pretty much say anything and the choir will sing right along
The Bustin Glob would be putting you in a conference room with trays of oysters and lobster, not sending out security to have you removed lol
On a roll here. See it’s unlawful to impersonate a police officer, but not to impersonate a doctor, psychiatrists do it all the time lmao. Official looking I.D. with role stated as Mental Patient?
I like this very much. WORDS is one of their best weapons. Twisting reality to the point that torture became an accepted and normal practice. Good work.
Zed, Thank you for reading and posting! 🙂 Words are strong but dangerous weapons, indeed…
What do you say to us parents of the 4%? Our adult children are so severely mentally ill that they are homeless or incarcerated. Why are they being punished? AOT saves the lives of our family members. Involuntary commitment would have saved Creigh Deed’s son, James Holmes and his victims, and the list goes on. It also would have saved our sins and daughters that died living on the streets, the victims of violence.
By denying that there is a correlation between violence and the severely mentally ill – as victim or perpetrator – you marginalize the group that needs help the most. You perpetuate the caste system that exists among the mentally ill that forces the 4% to languish in poverty, homelessness, and severe psychosis. Please – see them. Realize that the Boston Globe series was about them. Acknowledge that there is a population that can’t speak for themselves and deserve better than to die with their civil liberties intact.
Sometimes I’m aware there aren’t easy answers and that is painful and I am sorry for that. And by saying this I do not mean to say that certain situations are hopeless or should be ignored… Simply that I’m aware that people are lost or in despair somewhere every minute of the day, and we have not yet found enough answers to go around.
That said, your suggestion that anyone who gets classified among the ‘4%’ hasn’t found their way back out with the sorts of supports and perspectives offered on this site is just blatantly inaccurate. I know MANY people who’ve been diagnosed with what are seen as the 4%’ers diagnoses (schizophrenia, etc.) who are leading full lives specifically because they followed paths outside of the mainstream system. And I’ve seen many who would also be so classified who have died because they were trapped in the system.
You do not know what would have saved any particular person or prevented them from doing something terrible, and the suggestion that you have such predictive powers seems dangerous… Especially since there is a growing body of evidence that some people who have done some of the terrible things to which you refer were driven there in part *because* of the psychiatric drugs they were taking.
You and others keep speaking as if that group that makes up the 4% is somehow this alien body of people writing somewhere away from any of these conversations. I can only assume that your refusal to see and hear that some of ‘them’ are also some of us is based on a deeply entrenched belief that people who look ‘that bad’ could never again be capable of having voice in this way.
But, as I say above, not all opinions are created equal. In truth, it is not simply opinion that people who you and others would group into that 4% are hear and speaking for themselves. It is fact, and you’re just not listening.
Oh, I’m listening. I’ve been listening every day since my son was diagnosed, eleven years ago. You aren’t acknowledging that there is a real problem for the most vulnerable, and the most ill. You are throwing them away, like the rest of society. I don’t know how you can call yourself an advocate when you deny those that need the advocacy the most.
Someone started throwing him away the moment you allowed him to be “diagnosed,” which is a form of malpractice and emotional battery in my book.
Good point. It sounds like Chrisa would rather believe in the system than in her own son.
Sera of all people should not be accused of “throwing away” anyone. She has dedicated herself and her career to helping folks in the so-called “4%” as well as many others to find a path, particularly those who have not been served well by the mainstream psychiatric system. In fact, I’d guess that Sera and her program have done more to keep the “most ill” out of incarceration and homelessness than any mainstream psychiatrist can ever claim. Your need to believe that “AOT” is the answer for everyone is based solely on your own very limited personal experience. I don’t mean to deny that experience (there is no question that “AOT” has positive effects in many cases, at least as seen from the viewpoint of a concerned family member). But I think it is very presumptuous of you to assume that all or even most people have that positive an effect when you don’t know anything about their lives. Sera talks to these people EVERY DAY and hears their stories of trauma and disempowerment and abuse by many of the “helpers” in the current system. She isn’t just making this up – she hears the stories personally, and feels driven to make sure that their stories are told. That’s advocacy. You are coming from a very personal place, and I respect that. But don’t try to enforce your experience on others who have experienced something very different. AOT is a violation of civil rights on a grand scale, because it goes way beyond recognizing that some people need help that don’t recognize it, and moves to deciding exactly what kind of help they “need” and punishes them for refusing to accept such “help,” even if it is harming them dramatically and even if they are perfectly capable of analyzing the damage it is doing.
We have commitment laws already. The civil restrictions on commitment laws were made because those laws were being abused by system members, parents, and society at large. Moving away from that toward enforcing more “treatment” on those who are competent to refuse is a very, very dangerous step that does damage to many that it claims to help. Even if some are “saved” in the way your suggest, how many more are harmed? And who are you to say what the harm/help balance is? Isn’t that the right of each of us to determine?
Thanks for your comment and defense, and for your many great comments over on the New York Times article, as well. 🙂
Chrisa, I would look close at the parents and the family. Family scapegoating is how the fraud known as mental illness starts.
So when you have a parent v child problem, first the child must be protected, and this means CPS, a CASA volunteer, an attorney, and the Family Court.
Then, as it can be established that the parents have used the child, exploited them, then all their assets must be confiscated and held in trust for the benefit of the child. Take the profit out of middle-class child abuse, and show everyone that you cannot have a child to use, and get away with it.
If they are still committing further abuses or keeping the child on drugs, then they must be imprisoned.
And then for the doctors who are putting children on psychiatric meds, they should be prosecuted for Crimes Against Humanity, and in International Court. This goes way beyond anything US penal codes were designed to contend with.
I helped put one abusive parent away myself. He had a huge emotional investment in scapegoating his eldest daughter, going on and on about what was wrong with her, while he had 6 felony charges pending for molesting all three of his daughters.
And his whole church was backing him, as most all of them have a scapegoat child and a scapegoat sibling.
So I got involved, read his published writings, and by an unusual turn of fate my involvement ended up lasting over 2.5 years.
But now he is serving a very long state prison sentence and I am overjoyed because of this.
Where there is a parent v child conflict, this is how it should be handled.
And in each of my communications with the DA and the court, I emphasized how much energy this guy had invested in scapegoating his daughter, and just how much all of his church members go along with that. The scapegoating is abuse, the scapegoating conceals abuse. And I emphasized how his church must be saturated with familial abuse, and we cannot expect more victims to come forward unless these girls are vindicated.
You mentioned homelessness and incarceration. Well in trying to maximize this guy’s sentence I emphasized to the court that his church runs an outreach ministry, to the poor and homeless, and also to many on parole or probation.
I explained that if these girls had listened to their church, and acted like nothing happened. The it could well have been that a decade down the road, failed marriages, failed attempts to get an education, failed attempts to build a career, that they could become the targets for that church’s outreach ministry. They would be told that all their problems are caused by themselves, and because they don’t walk with Jesus, don’t practice forgiveness, and are ‘carrying stuff around’, and are ‘rebelious’.
I never would have gotten involved in that guy’s case unless I would rather have handled him myself. I’m not asking the state to lock more people up. But I do accept that that way is better, because it educates the public. He got the benefit of an attorney and a jury trial. And when police arrested him, they even read him his Miranda Rights.
I want all of those who have children and abuse them to get that benefit, even though I would greatly enjoy dealing with them myself.
As far as a position to take with the government, and why I do not support Sera’s method of handling the Boston Globe:
1. Stop licensing psychotherapists, as that only perpetuates a con and helps people who want to abuse their children.
2. Take the psychiatric drugs off of the market, as all it is amounts to an overflow of our street drug and alcohol problem. And all these drugs do is further abuse the survivors of abuse, and cover up for the abuse.
Holmes is, I believe, one of the psychiatric drug killers. Do some research. Yes there is a correlation, which is there is LESS chance of someone psychiatrically labeled committing violence. At least until they start in with the drugs.
Also realize that when you say “them” you are talking about US. Anyone who “can’t speak for themselves” should be permitted to do so immediately, and be provided a lawyer if they ask for one.
Actually, we can speak for ourselves, and I think I should decide what my civil liberties are worth. The only correlation between mental illness and violence is the one the media uses to up their profits. The mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violent crime, but they are not more likely to be violent. You have cherry picked a specific type of violence glorified by the media and decided it is representative of all violent crime in America. I suggest you run those numbers yourself, and perhaps consider treating the sane. They pose a real threat to society. There is no way to substantiate a claim that lives already lost would have been saved if….. By that thinking, those lives could have been saved by peanut butter fudge or wool socks or anything else… There are no facts there. It’s just another attempt by TAC and its like to step over the bodies of victims to further their own agenda…
The psychiatrically labeled are statistically less likely to commit violence than the general population…so, shouldn’t the non-labeled population be singled out for “special treatment” instead? Also what are the statistics re: violence and heart disease, liver disease, etc.? Maybe certain wards in general hospitals should be locked down just in case, right?
Hope things are well in the turtle community.
The overall mortality rate of those considered “severely mentally ill” is higher on all counts….However, while we consider things from a broader perspective… Coercion, electric shock, restraints, forced drugging, subjugation… hell, stirring the brain a bit with an ice pick…but I’m crazy and dangerous..
Also, the turtle community is splendid. If it doesn’t storm, I believe everyone will get to go for a walk today. Leonard is the turtle product of forced treatment. He has to go outside to swim because he has never learned to walk. He is 10. Still, it’s a good turtle day.
Reminds me of a joke:
Alice: Why are you whacking those 2 x 4″s together?
Ned: To keep all the elephants away.
Alice: There are no elephants around here.
Ned: See? It’s working.
People will justify use of force–even to the point of cruelty and violence–by similar arguments.
We are keeping the “mentally ill” from going on killing sprees. If we weren’t doing what we are doing it would be 50% worse–or so we choose to believe.
I don’t mean to be sarcastic but how’s that working for you? Eleven years is a long time. Don’t you think things should be better, well data shows it doesn’t get better. Maybe you need to try a different approach. Pharmaceutical companies don’t care about making things better they care about sales. AOT will just deny a human being their constitutional rights and does the same thing for farmers that farm subsidies, more revenue. And guess what, it will contribute to permanent disability. Data proves it. You might want to do your homework. The path you are taking is only making the situation worse. Homelessness can cause mental health problems, not the other way around.
You may not want to hear it but you might need to change your approach. Good luck.
I agree with you. Doctors have always been a central feature in middle-class child abuse. They used to call it Munchausen’s By Proxy, now we just call it Medical Child Abuse. Sometimes the doctors are more the culpable party, and sometimes it is more the parent(s). And then sometimes it is the two working hand in hand together, and this is more often the case when it comes to mental health doctors.
So I am for full enforcement of the law.
Failure to report in suspected cases of child abuse is a felony.
Child endangerment is a felony.
And child abuse is a felony.
Very unlikely that someone who was not already being subjected to familial child abuse would end up in the mental health system, or homeless.
And I won’t say that homelessness causes mental illness, because there is no such thing as mental illness.
The wind and the cold and the rain are not that harsh, people learn how to contend with them. But if someone is homeless they subjected to scorn and pity from all quarters. This can often be enough to push someone over the edge.
But the remedy to this, as to all other injustices, is political and legal activism, not therapy, recovery, or religion.
Parents who have children in order to use them, must be held accountable.
The last guy who tried to use me as an after the fact accomplice child abuser, by going on and on and on, telling me all about how bad is daughter is, is now serving a very long term in our state prison.
He almost lost it in hallway the first day, when I showed up for jury selection.
I am convinced that for most people, once they see that they are needed in order to help achieve justice, that their substance addictions and seemingly crazy behaviors will vanish. The issue is always political awareness, never anything to do with mental health.
Observers have long noted how in the Soviet Union, they would send anyone who isn’t a happy camper and doesn’t go along with the system, to a Psychiatrist.
Well it works exactly the same way here. Anyone who isn’t in compliance with the expectations of Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family, is deemed mentally ill, and is likely going to end up in psychiatry, psychotherapy, recovery, or evangelical religion.
You know, one of the reasons the mental health system may be failing so completely is that everyone seems more concerned about empathizing with those people forced to experience people experiencing life with mental illness than those people experiencing mental illness. “Empathy”, “moral imperative”, “only humane answer”, “easily accessible care”. These are the terms they use to validate the horrific lengths that they will go to so that they don’t have to be inconvenienced or forced to witness the long lasting damage their very profitable mental health system has had on people.
It’s bad enough that this is an example of the majority of voices speaking out about mental illness in the media right now, but it is somehow worse the way that America is happy to swallow it no matter how ridiculous the claims. At some point, Torrey’s statistics magically doubled in the space of six months, and the original ones were ridiculous to begin with. No one blinked. For clarity, we are talking about the number of lives we could save by accounting for lives already lost. If ten people died yesterday and seven died today, we didn’t actually save three lives. Most importantly, a person secure in their convictions has nothing to fear from a differing opinion because they can be assured that logic will eventually triumph. Why is everyone so afraid to allow us to be heard?
Thanks for reading and commenting… All very excellent points, especially the utter impossibility of drawing too many ridiculous conclusions from already ridiculous statistics!
Hi Sera. I can imagine the hard work and pure stubborn cussidness it must have taken to organize and execute this protest.
I shook your hand a few years ago at the madinamerica film festival, and told you I appreciate your writing. Thank you again.
Its amazing to me how easily people assume that treatment basically works, and that the problems with mental illness is not enough treatment. It follows that people who get treatment have better outcomes (disability, suicide, violence) then people who “slip through the cracks”. This assumption persists despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary.
One example is how they use cases like Jesse Holmes and Adam Lanza as examples of the need for more treatment. Both of these young men, as well as most of the other recent spree shooters, had been exposed to treatment when they killed. And without any treatment at all-they killed no one. Its stunningly obvious. We don’t know what the drugs really do. But for some reason we assume that pumping people in crisis full of drugs will be helpful. In fact its irresponsible not to do this. There must be more to it than a lack of information.
There must be more to it than a lack of information.
I think they call it disinformation.
Thank you for taking the time to respond.
I’m also stunned by how obvious it all seems, and how people bent on defending the conventional paradigm are so vehement and likely to accuse us of anti-science ‘crazy’ talk, in spite of so much science actually being on our side.
There was just an article about the Western Mass RLC and Hearing Voices work published in the New York Times on Tuesday, and the comments section is as shocking in this way as it is not surprising, given it reflects the ‘normal’ response in society whenever this comes up.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. 🙂
Protesting in front of the County Hospital and its Clinics? In front of the private clinics that market to parents?
Signs which denounce drugs and promise that involuntary drugging could never be enforced?
Crimes Against Humanity prosecutions for the doctors?
Telling parents that taking a child to psychotherapy without court supervision and the child being represented by an attorney, is medical child abuse?
Attorney network lined up to represent as many clients as possible?
MindFreedom has claimed to have an underground railroad and safe houses. How often have these been used.
“If you beg a man for a victory, he gives it to you, its his victory, not yours.”
Or just protesting in front of the newspaper’s office and worrying about its editorial policies and views?
I want to congratulate Sera David for being persistent and continuing to state her case. Today (8/12) the Globe published an op-ed piece that she wrote. They put it on their editorial page. They included a list of resources that reflect the kind of treatment that MAD has been advocating for years. Sera stated the case for the need for not only more treatment, but different kinds of treatments; treatments that are humane and effective.
They didn’t put her piece on the front page, but it was in a prominent place. I’m not sure how many minds it will change, but at least it will expose more people to the idea that sometimes the “problem” is the treatment.
Thanks so much for your comment and pointing out the editorial in today’s Boston Globe.
I’m also not sure how many minds it will change, but very glad to have it there. 🙂