Dear Boston Globe, Part IV: A Taste of Your Own Medicine

Sera Davidow
68
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Dear Team Globe,

Thank you for publishing my editorial, ‘We’re Missing the real story on mental health’ on August 12th. I’ve gotten good response, and heard from multiple people both in and out-of-state that the article is circulating widely. But, I see we’re back to business as usual now.

You seem keen on continuing your trend of sensationalized storytelling without even a word of warning to your audience of the gruesome details to which they are about to be exposed. Fair enough. I suppose they should know what to expect by now.

Nonetheless, as I attempt to follow your dramatic lead, I’m choosing to buck your trend and let my readers know that heavy material and talk of violence lie ahead.

——————–

Globe story 1
Roshelle Clayborn

Roshelle Clayborne was only 16.

She was only 16 when a man grabbed her and slammed her face into the ground one hot summer day in August. As he held her down, he (and seven others in the vicinity) ignored her pleas for help as she gasped that she could not breathe and begged to be let go. Her attacker then injected her with a drug-filled syringe to knock her out. She lay there with blood trickling from her mouth and in a puddle of her own urine, having lost control of all of her bodily functions. With the help of his friends, her attacker then rolled her limp body in a blanket and left her for dead in an empty room.

No one ever saw her alive again.

Charlene Miles was Roshelle’s grandmother and legal guardian. Roshelle had been struggling, and Charlene had no money or health insurance, so she’d signed her granddaughter over as a ward of the state in order to access treatment. Roshelle then found herself at Laurel Ridge (a psychiatric facility in San Antonio, Texas). The man who held her down was a staff person at the hospital, as were the seven others who were present. The drug with which she was injected was Thorazine, known as the ‘chemical straightjacket.’ The space where she was left to die was a seclusion room.

Seven months after arriving at Laurel Ridge, Roshelle had written to her grandmother saying that she feared she would die in that facility.

She was only 16.

——————–

Globe retort 2
Joshua Messier

The Globe is right. The mental health system is broken. So are the child welfare and criminal justice systems, and so many others. It was certainly broken in 1997 when Roshelle Claiborne died in Texas. Just like it was broken when Joshua Messier was killed during a restraint at Bridgewater State Hospital in Massachusetts in 2014, showing signs of having been beaten (including bleeding on his brain), or when Amber Mace died in her sleep at Pembroke Psychiatric Hospital (also in Massachusetts) allegedly due to prescribed drug interactions just a few months back. And. So. Many. Others. This is not new. (Please note: Unlike the Globe, I am unable to publish the pictures of those responsible for perpetrating these acts, because people who commit such violence while working in the system are so often protected.)

Globe retort 3
Amber Mace

The Globe paints a picture (in the vivid way that they so love to do) that pins the system’s decline primarily on budgetary issues, but there is more than one way for a system to be ‘broken.’ In fact, where the Globe goes most wrong in their latest piece, ‘Community Care,’ is in their failure to adequately recognize that the system has always been broken in one way or another in this country. (This begs the question of whether or not there’s even such thing as fixing what has never been ‘unbroke.’)

Even in the apparently Globe-glorified early days of Westborough State Hospital when fresh food and farm work were reportedly the standard of care, there were still largely over looked issues such as forced labor and involuntary ‘bed rest.’ Whether we’re talking about barbaric ‘treatments’ of the past (or those that we will come to recognize as barbaric some day in the future), outright abuses, squalid conditions, or the lack of access to any support at all… It all screams ‘wrong.’ And, while Team Globe gives brief recognition to the hardest to ignore offenses revealed in films like ‘Titicut Follies,’ they never quite seem to make the logical leap to the fact that what (and not just how much) is being provided by the mental health system is most important of all.

Now, I’m not going to argue that the Massachusetts system isn’t worse for its ongoing loss of funds, and the Globe did a reasonably good job of detailing its downward financial spiral. But, let’s say a chunk of new money manifested tomorrow. To what end would it be used, and would the system truly be any less broken as a result?

——————–

It was November 1960 when Dorothy – feeling sad and lonely after a break up with a boyfriend – took a small overdose that led her parents to bring her to the Massachusetts General Emergency Room where she was quickly admitted. Then, on December 4, 1960, Dorothy was driven to Baldpate Hospital in Georgetown where she would remain for five months.

While there, Dorothy and her three roommates were subjected to insulin coma/electroshock therapy five days a week for eight weeks. Each morning, they were lined up side-by-side in their beds. The first step involved a nurse injecting them with insulin. After that – and before each girl had descended into a coma – the shock came next.

“I can still see him walking through the door to our bare hospital-green room, his face grey-white in color, and his black suit and black shoes.  He carried all his equipment in a small black suitcase in one hand, this man of death and destruction. He set up his machine behind our heads, one by one. Curled up beneath our sheets, heads covered, as though seeking womb-like protection, we were – as they peeled the sheets off of us, forcing us onto our backs – bare and open and vulnerable.  I was second in the line-up.

Before being turned, I would often peek out from a small secret opening in my sheet to see what they were doing to Susan, the first to receive the treatment.  I would force myself to watch as if it might prepare me in some way.  And when she would shake violently all over, my eyes would close.  I could no longer watch.  I would shiver beneath my sheet in fear. And then they would come to me.”

But Dorothy nonetheless considers herself one of the lucky ones. Because one early morning in 1961, Susan was given more insulin than she was able to tolerate, and when she went to sleep… she never woke up again.

She was only seventeen.

——————–

All this occurred during what the Globe reports as being not far off the height of state funding for inpatient beds. So, what gives? Is the main problem truly state dollars? In fairness, the Globe does seem to emphasize one other pesky interference with improved treatment: Those darn things called ‘rights’

Interestingly, Scott Allen (editor for the Spotlight team) swore without hesitation that the Globe was not endorsing Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC – otherwise known as ‘AOT’ or ‘Assisted Outpatient Treatment’) when he spoke with a group of organizers outside of the their offices at the ‘People’s Spotlight’ vigil and protest on August 1 in Dorchester. This statement came after the group stated its demands, one of which was that the Globe retract its support for such involuntary measures.

But, apparently either Allen was being dishonest with us or someone on his crew was being less than upfront with him, because the mocking, pro-IOC tone of the following statement is hard to miss:

“Unlike nearly every other state, Massachusetts has refused to adopt a so-called assisted outpatient treatment law allowing court-ordered treatment for people with severe mental illness. Opponents fear it would be misused, forcing treatment on people whose behavior is merely disruptive or inconvenient, not dangerous. The civil rights imperative also provided convenient cover for leaders in Massachusetts and elsewhere who were shutting down mental health facilities mostly as a way to save money.”

Language like ‘convenient cover’ is not the tone of the neutrally positioned. Additionally, the solitary objection listed above fails to fairly represent several of the opposition’s most substantial issues with IOC. These include that it has been shown to be used in a racially discriminatory fashion and that it basically amounts to ‘probation’ before a crime has been committed. It also includes the small fact that it simply does not appear to work (at least in part because it is blindly forcing people into treatments that do not consistently work, and sometimes make things worse).

The message is clear: The Spotlight team (or at least, Scott Helman, the primary author of this particular edition) is calling out state leadership as fools for not buying in. Meanwhile, I’m left wondering how the Globe continues to get away with this game so unchecked.

Their bizarre statistical methods are as blatantly inaccurate as the series’ title is dramatic, yet they appear free to repeat their loose excuse for factual findings in every single article.

They consistently cite the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC – the country’s leading IOC pusher with Massachusetts squarely in its sights) as one of their primary sources, yet claim there is no relationship with or bias toward the TAC messaging campaign.

They misrepresent the voice of those who disagree, and seem hell-bent on avoiding inclusion of interviews or quotes from anyone who might offer a counter-perspective (let alone those with first-hand experience as ‘patient’ on the inside).

They give no more than a cursory nod (so quick you’ll miss it if you blink) to the potential that maybe some of the treatments available aren’t as good as people portray, regardless of access issues.

And, underneath it all, even with their discussion of rights issues (which they seem to be suggesting are most commonly brought up simply as a vehicle by which to justify more budget cuts), the message is the same:

“[This] is a system that prizes independence for people with mental illness but often ignores the accompanying risks to public safety.”

In other words, they’re basically saying: “These people are dangerous, and we need more money to keep them drugged and hospitalized not because we believe the drugs and hospitals will help them, but because they will keep them away from us. And, if the price for controlling the violent few is the loss of some other psychiatrically diagnosed folks who weren’t ever going to hurt anyone, so be it. We’ll never see them as ‘us’ anyway.”

——————–

Dorothy didn’t leave the psychiatric system after Baldpate. On the contrary, those ultra-accessible hospital beds of the sixties kept her circling different institutions for another two years from the Menninger Clinic (9 months) to the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (14 months) to Westborough State (6 weeks). And, it may have gone on even longer if not for one therapist who told her that her behavior since being hospitalized had actually been caused by the atrocities she’d experienced therein.

His words brought about an epiphany: Dorothy’s current state made sense within her environment and the context of trying to survive. Soon thereafter, Dorothy left the hospital.

She never went back.

——————–

The Globe has done an excellent job at one thing (and one thing only): Digging up the most dramatic and frightening stories to be found. Really, they deserve an award for their masterful manipulation of the public’s emotions. (If only it wasn’t all to the detriment of some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in our communities.) These stories are real (all be they told from only one side and with a writer’s flare). However, they are also rare and not necessarily demonstrative of the causal link that the Globe would have us assume.

I’ve also told some dramatic stories here, and perhaps the deaths I have described above at the hands of the system – while terrible – are also not a daily occurrence. But, I can say this much: Murder may not be happening on the regular on either side of the aisle, but violation of rights is far more than the imagined ‘fear’ the Globe proposes it to be, and while loss of life brought on by the system’s way of being may be too gradual to be called murder on most occasions, those slow deaths are commonplace.

The truth is that people are being abused in both subtle and painfully obvious ways in the mental health system on a daily basis, and the Globe is on the wrong side of all that. Perhaps if we paused and listened to the end of Dorothy’s story a little more closely we might be able to see that our greatest problem is less not having enough hospital beds and program supports available in the system, and more that the wrong sorts of services tend to trap people there.

Perhaps if we paid more attention to what we offer, and invested substantial dollars in the alternatives that don’t beat the humanity out of people, fewer people would be getting stuck. And then much of what we do have could be going  toward those who need more and better answers than what we’ve been able to discern just yet.

The Globe could be telling that story, but for whatever reason they remain on the much less groundbreaking, wrong side of the  path. Until they change their ways, the Globe will continue to fail us all.

You can read more of Dorothy’s story here.

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68 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps the main reason that the system is broken is that it is based on a false premise: that treatment fixes broken people. The Globe should use its resources to try and find any successful people who credit their success in life to psychiatry (such a task is naturally more difficult than to find people willing to debit psychiatry for their lives destruction). Surely such a person who has earned a large ego by overcoming such odds would be willing to give credit where credit is due.

  2. It is a huge myth that, if only it were more available, psychiatric “treatment” as it is currently practiced would resolve most people’s problems, would “fix” people and keep them safe.

    When one reflects on what “treatment” really is – confining a person for a few days or weeks, while giving them brain-dampening drugs that dull down their fear and rage, but do nothing to address the sources of their problems – it becomes clear why increased “treatment” will not “cure” the serious life problems faced by so many suffering people.

    The resources required to address the problems experienced by people labeled as “severely mentally ill” – which often include inability to trust others at a basic level, lack of support from family and friends, lack of job and educational opportunities, lack of housing and money, etc – these problems can in no deep way be addressed by confining someone in a “hospital” for 5-10 days and giving them drugs so they can’t feel anything. Because once the person is released from the hospital, and if and when the drugs are withdrawn, the underlying problems will still be there.

    Current American mental health “treatment” is therefore doomed to fail most of its clients. It is simply not adequate. Real treatment would involved provision of a high level of voluntarily chosen social, psychological, and economic resources, including housing support, job training, and most importantly, whatever social support a person wants, which might include long-term psychotherapy, group support, and the engagement of caring friends and family members.

    Again, the causes of the problems of people labeled “severely mentally ill” have never been proven to be primarily genetic or biological in any way. The evidence we have such as the Adverse Childhood Experiences study strongly suggests that the primary genesis of problems for most people who enter mental “hospitals” is in the adverse psychological and social experiences they have undergone that affect their brain chemistry, not in randomly misfiring neurons or bad genes. This is another reason for the failure of the modern AMerican mental health system: it is based no the myth that problems of behavior, thinking, and feelings are “brain-based illness” that are “treatable” by drugs. This delusion about the primarily biological/genetic origin of people’s suffering is one that would be more at home in a Franz Kafka novel than in reality, although, for many people trapped in the US mental health system, reality does indeed become more Kafkaesque as the years go by, as symbolized in stories such as The Metamorphosis or The Trial.

    Therefore, for many reasons, current mental health treatment in Massachusetts and America is doomed to continued failure. We are simply not willing to acknowledge the primary factors causing severe emotional distress, let alone to provide the intensive access to resources necessary to help those who have been nonfunctional, enraged, terrified, and/or hopeless for years or decades.

    Ultimately, we as a society should look in the mirror to see the reasons why the most vulnerable among us are doing so poorly.

  3. Maybe there aren’t a lot of people dying outright in psychiatric “hospitals” across the country but the treatment that these places mete out to people causes slow death. And this death comes in physical and spiritual forms.

    People caught in the system aren’t wrapped tightly in ice cold wet sheets to lie for hours, or given insulin to knock them into comas, or spun in chairs, or lobotomized. They are still shocked. For the most part these ugly pseudoscientific treatments created by quacks are no longer seen in state “hospitals” like the one I work in, but the so-called “patients” are forced to take drugs that, over the long haul seem to be extremely detrimental. If they don’t kill you by heart attack or by obesity and metabolic syndrome they shorten your life and keep you from being in touch with your feelings and emotions. They keep you from caring about and responding to what is happening in life around you.

    You don’t die like the unfortunate people described in the article, but you do probably die slowly, death being eked out in small and tiny increments as the seconds and minutes and hours and days drag by as you ingest the numbing drugs euphemistically called “medicine”.

    But very few people want to talk about this, certainly not the psychiatrists and clinical staff that work in these pseudo “hospitals” which are actually nothing more than warehouses in which to hold people, just like cattle or pigs or sheep that are held in at the slaughter houses.

    I watch this take place each and every day from my work places in the hospital and from my office window that looks out into one of the exercise areas for two units. I meet people in Admissions who are vibrant and full of life, even though they may be saying things that people don’t like or object to, and they may not be compliant and cooperative, but they are alive and active. I watch them grow obese and I watch them being walking slowly with their eyes downcast to the ground in front of them. I watch them loose interest in life and begin to freeze inside. I watch their spirits begin withering away slowly but surely until they become broken and compliant people.

    I know in some small way what the people who worked the French Resistance felt as they fought to destroy the hold of the Nazis on their beloved country. But the French Resistance won their battle; I’m not so sure that I nor any of the rest of us will win ours at the rate things are going. And all the politicians and public and newspapers can do is cry out and shout for “more treatment” even if it has to be forced on we unfortunate creatures who do not know what is good for us.

  4. Excellent article Sera. Dorothy’s story is heart breaking and yet her therapist, a young psychiatrist, Lee Macht, was able to help her save her life and raise a terrific family. Lee was a teacher of mine who was truly a visionary. When he learned that I had been hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia prior to entering the Cambridge Hospital Department of
    Psychiatry, of which he was director, he said my experience could be an asset. He warned me however, not to reveal my history to other members of his department, as they would not be so accepting. I also had a psychiatrist, George, who never insisted I stay on mind numbing antipsychotics and let me out of seclusion and a hospital I felt was killing my spirit. There are so many ways that the the system “beats humanity out of people” but there are a few brave souls like Lee and George who defy the ethos of slow death. They should not be the exception. We should have a Yelp system of grading mental health workers for all to see. We also need humanistic training designed and carried out by persons with lived experience. Though discouraging our resistance gives me heart. Let’s keep at it. What choice do we have to do otherwise?

  5. Sera, thanks for an (as always) great read. I don’t know what is going to convince the Globe/other media that articles like those in the spotlight series are a major contributor to the further marginalization of an already oppressed group. Maybe matching their need to write about violence and showing them that the much more common perpetrator of violence and destroyed lives is the system itself is the way to go. I hope your articles at least get others outside MIA/survivor movements to think more critically about the fear mongering articles that are so pervasive.

  6. Thank you, Sera, for an excellent article. Just so that everyone understands, I did not get “better” or released from the final hospital because I had been “cured.” There had never been anything “wrong” with me except sadness. All of my hospitalizations and in-hospital abuse could so easily have been avoided had I been offered early understanding and kindness, eventually found in one young therapist. As Sera says, he told me all of my survival behaviors (which resulted in the shocks and restraints and seclusion) had been caused by these atrocities. I have been fine for over 53 years, not because of my hospital “care” back then but in spite of that terrible “care.” As Sera also says, I was one of the very lucky ones. And I learned NEVER to be silent from being locked up and also from witnessing Elie Wiesel.

  7. Sera, you’re amazing as usual!

    I have a question, though. Is the system really broken? Or is it working well at doing something that you and I and most of us here don’t approve of as a goal?

    I recall my brief stint as a public school teacher. I went in naively believing that the school system was there to educate students and prepare them for adulthood, and that the failures of the system were due to lack of insight or skills. What I discovered is that the school system appeared to be geared less to educate and enlighten than to cow and demoralize students into automatic compliance, either out of fear or desire for conditional reward. It is designed to create compliant citizens, not to teach people to think, and it’s not broken – it works quite well at doing exactly that. My efforts to individualize and to empower students who were struggling were not only not admired, but generally ridiculed and dismissed as a waste of time.

    I think the same is most likely true of the “mental health” system. I think it serves two purposes: first, to give society the opportunity to control difficult behavior that doesn’t fall into the realm of criminality, so that people engaging in such behavior can be cleared off the streets legally. Second, it gives society, or the powerful in society, excellent cover for their domination and oppression within the currently accepted social structure, by blaming those who don’t “adjust” to the current crazy expectations and “treating” them as deficient people, rather than looking at the circumstances producing such anxious, depressed or angry people. And again, it does both of these things quite well.

    I think our error is to imagine that the powers who construct and maintain this system really have any other intent. I am sure they would say they are there to “help people,” but what they mean is to help people adapt to society as it is and stop creating problems for those busy trying to run things efficiently. It means to help them either feel OK about living in the oppressive society we’re in, or to help them suppress their rage/anxiety/despair about current conditions. There are, of course, very notable exceptions, and I admire such workers greatly, as I’ve been one of them. But the system itself is not designed to create mentally healthy, highly effective adults. It’s designed to keep creative, oppositional, critical, and insightful people from messing with the machinery that the powerful need to keep in place.

    —- Steve

    • I don’t think the mental (ill) health system is “broken” either, in fact, I think it works all too well. Usually, that “broken” is just a ploy for begging from the state on behalf of people who would have it “help” people with more social control. You’ve got the opportunity here for those they would “help” to learn a great deal of “helplessness”, “hopelessness” to boot. Were the state to stop locking up people for being annoyingly different, we might be getting somewhere. Claiming the system “broken”, and asking for taxpayer funding to “fix it”, are how the mental (ill) health system expands. It is expanding big time. When there is all this talk of “untreated mental illness”, a thing some paper from the NIMH claims 26 % of the USA population has, more money can only make this big thing even bigger. If you had a national tragedy to invest in, under the ruse of disaster relief, well, there you go.

    • Steve, yes, you’ve made an excellent and most insightful post.

      And I don’t understand how Sera can keep writing to the Boston Globe, basically asking for recovery and therapy, instead of more draconian measures, when what we should be doing is rejecting all aspects of the Mental / Moral Health System, and doing so forcefully.

      Steve wrote, of our school system and its intended purpose, “cow and demoralize students into automatic compliance, either out of fear or desire for conditional reward. It is designed to create compliant citizens, not to teach people to think, and it’s not broken – it works quite well at doing exactly that.”

      Well this is basically my own insight about the Middle-Class Family. It only arose in the first place because it was allowed to exploit children, and it still runs at the expense of children. So I have never gone along with the idea of a Dysfunctional Family.

      All I can say is that things do not have to be this way, not at all. But they will stay this way and get worse if we continue to follow an Uncle Tom approach, as Sera is advocating regarding Murphy.

      Nomadic

  8. I went to read the Globe story on Community Care expecting to be outraged, but I didn’t think it was that bad. The article’s main point was that Massachusetts’ failure to fund community care after de-institutionalization caused massive breakdowns in the mental health system and left many people suffering and without support. I’ve read that same argument from Robert Whitaker many times. The Globe story also mentioned a couple of times that the old system was highly abusive, and that many people went on to live better as well as freer lives after being released from institutions.

    I took the following paragraph to be the ‘thesis’ or main point of the article:

    “The result is a system that’s defined more by its gaps and gross inadequacies than by its successes — severely underfunded, largely uncoordinated, often unreliable, and, at times, startlingly unsafe. It is a system that prizes independence for people with mental illness but often ignores the accompanying risks to public safety. A system that puts blind belief in the power of antipsychotic drugs and immense trust in even the very sickest to take them willingly. A system that too often leaves people in mental health crisis with nowhere to turn.”

    Where the Globe really fell down, that Sera’s response addresses so accurately, is in not seeing the harms caused by the actions of today’s mainstream mental system, as opposed to its inaction.

    • Rachel

      After working in the state “hospital” that I was held in I must say that it’s the same old abusive system that it’s always been, the “mental health” system just covers up things a lot better than it did in the past. The abuse just happens in much more subtle ways than beating people physically. Being told by psychiatrists that you have a broken brain because of a chemical imbalance and you will always be “ill” is abusive. It’s a lie to begin with and it’s used to keep people from realizing that they can move on with their lives even though they may have issues to deal with. Everyone has issues to deal with and if you claim this is not true I will say that’s a lie, plain and simple.

      Abuse comes in many different forms and I believe that the abuse perpetrated on people in the system today is actually worse than what was done to people in the old asylums. It destroys all hope for people and this leads to people giving up and giving in and leading lives of quiet desperation.

  9. Hello, Sara.

    First, I’d really like to thank you and everyone else involved in the movement for what you’re doing. Currently I’m planning on moving up to Massachusetts next month, and I plan on chipping in. I’m a friend of Tara’s and have been in contact with her regularly.
    With that being said, I’d also like to thank you for featuring someone who was admitted to Laurel Ridge. I was admitted twice there- once when I was 5, and again when I was around 20. That place is a complete disaster, along with most facilities in the greater San Antonio area, so kudos for shedding some light on that. I sincerely think that our entire system is truly flawed, but the fact that Texas has the 48th best Medicaid system in the country certainly doesn’t help the situation. It’s the main reason I am moving up there. I really hope I can contribute in some way, no matter how insignificant. Basically, I’ve waited for my life to have some sort of meaning, and now I think that time is about to come.
    Thanks again for all you do,
    Kelly Dickerson

  10. Sera, as you know, I was raised in Massachusetts, graduated from Lexington High School in 1975, and did most of my time in the MA penal system as psych inmate. I did much time at McLean and other rather inept fake hospitals. The only thing they do well are the glossy advertisements and other scammy stuff they put out. Oh, the tunnels are kinda neat to sneak around in if you aren’t in shackles.

    I would LOVE to meet you someday. I love your writing and I love the way you knock down the Globe’s lies. Bet we would have a lot to talk about. I am very sorry I missed you on Talk with Tenney the other night. I didn’t know ahead of time. Contact me anytime. Julie

  11. Sorry Sera, I still do not agree. I don’t go along with the way the Boston Globe is depicting the situation. And I am opposed to the Murphy Bill or to anything else like it. But I also don’t agree with the message you are putting out. And I don’t think it is an effective counter to the Boston Globe or the Murphy Bill.

    Having safe places for people to go who have suffered nervous breakdowns, or who just find themselves unable to function, is good. We should have these.

    But to present these as the alternative to psychiatric care is just wrong, because that psychiatric care should not exist in the first place, and so there is no reason to be offering any alternatives to it. What you are doing is still basically asking for pity, instead of demanding justice.

    People who have been treated with dignity and respect are very unlikely to show so called psychiatric symptoms, or to get involved with alcohol or street drugs, or to do anything else which will be used to tar them. Everyone want to do well, to develop their abilities and apply them to social good. People want to do well. They want to win the admiration of friends and family.

    So campaigning against psychiatric drugs and forced treatment is fine. But there also needs to be justice, accountability. The parents who are abusing their children in the first place have to be exposed and held accountable. People do not just end up in psychiatric care for no reason.

    The Boston Globe is presenting these families as helpless victims. But in the vast majority of these cases, they are serious child abusers. And until this is exposed and understood, so that people can recognize it, you and others like you are just asking us to live by pleading for pity.

    I cannot condone this.

    Nomadic

  12. This is the introduction to a QIO complaint I filed today, September 2, 2016:

    “Introduction

    “Patient was denied effective treatment for her condition, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) by Partners Health Care and its affiliates, MGH and McLean Hospital. This complaint expresses concerns with the quality of care that were not addressed in Patient’s previous QIO complaint filed with MassPro on October 4, 2013.

    “More specifically, Patient’s access to appropriate, effective care was conditioned on her participation in medically unnecessary treatment programs. (The alternate, unnecessary treatment programs offered to Patient – for diagnoses she does not have – are reimbursed by Medicare at a higher rate than her principle diagnosis of DID.)

    “Based upon Provider’s assurances, Patient agreed to hospitalization at McLean’s dedicated Dissociative Disorders and Trauma Unit in the belief that she would be connected with specialists who treat her condition. She received no such treatment.

    “At McLean Patient was up-coded to emergency status based on falsified information entered into the record. Although arrangements for this ‘emergency’ admission were made based on a phone call in the morning, she was instructed to drive herself to the hospital at the scheduled time of 8 pm. Without her knowledge or consent, or justifiable reason, Patient was placed on a restrictive suicidal protocol and denied access to her clothing and toiletries. Without her knowledge or consent, antipsychotic medication, Seroquel, was prescribed, from which she had suffered adverse effects in the past.

    “At neither MGH nor McLean did Patient receive treatment for her primary diagnosis of DID, nor was she connected to an outpatient psychiatrist upon discharge. Instead she was referred back to MGH WEC for the same medically unnecessary treatment programs she had just refused. Patient was discharged, unsupervised, with instructions to aggressively taper her use of benzodiazepines, which led to withdrawal symptoms. Patient’s PCP was required to restore the dose to pre-hospitalization levels. Thus, from inception through discharge, the Patient was consistently misdiagnosed and mistreated.

    “Patient filed a QIO complaint to MassPro on 10/4/2013, but the investigation failed to review acts of MGH, including the improper referral to McLean. According to the closure letter, records from MGH were not reviewed. Patient’s medical records were extensively falsified at the time of the investigation of her QIO complaint. When Patient complained about the alteration of her medical records, MGH was unresponsive to Patient’s concerns and refused to offer an explanation.

    “MGH further altered Patient’s medical record while complaints to HHS OCR were under investigation. The most recent unauthorized access occurred after April 15, 2015 but before July 26, 2016. MGH has offered no explanation for the repeated unauthorized access to her private medical records, and the breach of her PHI.

    “Patient’s medical records remain unreliable, inaccurate, and full of obfuscating documentation, creating a hazard to Patient’s health.”

    • Lu, your complaint only makes sense if you believe that there is such a thing as mental illness, and that the mental health system is the way to respond to it.

      If what you want is disability money, or citizenship pay, or a homeless shelter, that I can understand. But I do not go along with the concept of mental illness, treatment for mental illness, or recovery or therapy. I say that we must always reject these.

      Nomadic

  13. To say that the “mental health” system is “broken” implies taking a position on what it’s meant to do in the first place. As an instrument of repression it’s doing pretty well and is not broken at all, just in need of some streamlining for greater efficiency. So to say it’s “broken” as though that’s a bad thing is to imply that it needs fixing, when, if it is indeed broken, we should be taking advantage of the opportunity to crush it into the ground. And we should oppose all government money for any form of “mental health” program no matter what the rationale.

    • Most important of all, Murphy is going to the Senate this week and they’re trying to take advantage of people’s inertia and lack of empowerment (fostered by the “consumer” mentality) to steamroller the bill in the Senate just like they did in the House right after the July 4 holiday.

      The time for talk is over: People must prepare to call their Senators THIS WEEK. Hopefully MIA will agree to publish the anti-Murphy talking points we have been preparing to help people present a competent argument. The longer we delay the bill being voted on the more strength and momentum we’ll gain, count on that! We can stop this, the Senate is not as automatic a pushover, but unless people make the calls they’ll fall into the laps of Torrey, Jaffe, etc. who are counting once again on “survivors” rolling over and not standing up for themselves. That should piss off everyone enough to make the calls.

      • I think there is a certain irony in claiming that a system build ostensibly to “fix” “broken” people, or people with “broken” brains, should itself be “broken”, and instead be creating “broken” people, or people with “broken” brains.

        A big problem with the system is it is not a mental health system, it is a mental health treatment system, and if you had “healed” all the people it is claimed have “mental disabilities” in the world, it would throw a large number of people, careerists in fact, out of work. Psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, their underlings and stoolies, in other words, would be out of a job. (Drug company CEOs and lackeys, too.) Their careers are dependent upon having a number of people ‘dependent’ upon them. Independence would be job threatening. “Recovery” “healing”, so-called “mental health”, is not in their financial interest. The “mental illness” industry thus expands because that expansion is based upon that financial interest.

        Mental health insurance parity is a big part of problem. If you are going to pay people not to work, of course, you will find people not working. (Love the pun.) Alright, now that you’ve got them not working, who, outside of the “mental illness” industry, is pay them to work. Chronic disability and chronic unemployment are practically synonymous.

        • Let me try to clarify my position a little here if that’s okay. I’m not trying to knock anything you’ve done, nor your argument with the Boston Globe, Sera. Thank you for your actions and words. I’d like to think of myself as fully on board with what you’re doing there. I’m just not one to engage in this “broken” system rhetoric so much, really, as I think it is about something else entirely. (Unfortunately, the system isn’t “broken”.) My take on what is going on in North Hampton is that you have something of a more progressive exception to what the system is offering everywhere else in the USA there, and for that you are to be commended. I also think the demo at the Boston Globe was called for, and was definitely the right thing to do.

          • Also, people in other states have to realize the economic disparity. Prices and cost of living in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and that general area are much higher. Just go look if you ever go to Boston. Check out how well the roads are paved, the smooth sidewalks, the manicured parks and gardens. These governments have more money than in other parts of the country where they cannot fund a public library, where unemployment is so much higher, where people can barely heat or cool their homes, where they can barely afford to have the trash collected or pay the rent. In Massachusetts they might complain about yards not looking nice enough, or complain about the flowers in a yard not being ADA compliant or being the wrong religion or any religion or not sanitized enough, while the rest of the country cannot afford a yard, and that yard is being taken by the bank, let alone plant flowers in it.

            Meanwhile when I lived in MA I noticed the medical services were all run by Harvard, which is expanding and getting more and more powerful and scary, and the drug companies were huge there. In Boston, a hospital on every block. Supposedly, state-of-the-art. For the rich, not the poor. My friends waited for months and couldn’t get anything but assembly-line “treatment” and there was no information about alternatives, or they just didn’t want us to find out that such alternatives existed. A friend of mine moved to down south, feeling ill-served by the System, and told me she liked the relaxed atmosphere better.

            Harvard bought out Cooley Dickinson in Northampton as well, and facilities in NH and I think Maine, too. I tell my pro-psych friends this is a very bad sign, but they will not listen and because they seem addicted to appointments and cocktails, they fall for the hype, believing that it’s really going to get better.

  14. If we call it “broken” does it really matter? What matters is how that brokenness (it’s only a word, by the way) is responded to. Will it be responded to by pouring more money into these concepts that do not work and are inhumane?

    Shall we keep putting more funding into cars with engines made with explosives that are unsafe to drive? These are bad cars? So we need more exploding cars! Yeah, there’s such a need for transportation, the people are crying out to the government, they’re so, so needy! Look at them all in that waiting room!

    Why don’t we give away these wonderful exploding cars to poor people? Market them to blacks and women, too. Shine them up to look nice in any color they want. One exploded? Too bad, must have been the fault of the driver. Patent running out? Uh oh, let’s stop calling them Fords and remarket them as Escorts. We can’t let this go generic…..Market them to kids under 5 to keep up those numbers……Kiddie seats for all right on top of the dynamite. Well, poor people don’t like changing diapers anyway. If anyone makes trouble, shoot ’em.

  15. Sera it was great hearing you “live” last night and I am very happy you pointed out the Boston Globe Spotlight response website you folks put up. That’s a great idea. I am debating going back to Facebook just to connect but my FB experience always turns out so terrible, not from MIA people but from the pro-psychiatry folks that never fail to write stuff that I have a hard time tolerating. Some of the stuff they write is really, really mean. On the other hand, many events are announced on FB. Dang, how much I wish people would just pick up the phone and call me and say hello (my USA phone number works fine and doesn’t cost any more than any other Massachusetts phone number, which I have said many times). But now it’s all Facebook and conversation is out of fashion.

  16. I quote Steve from above, “I recall my brief stint as a public school teacher. I went in naively believing that the school system was there to educate students and prepare them for adulthood, and that the failures of the system were due to lack of insight or skills. What I discovered is that the school system appeared to be geared less to educate and enlighten than to cow and demoralize students into automatic compliance, either out of fear or desire for conditional reward. It is designed to create compliant citizens, not to teach people to think, and it’s not broken – it works quite well at doing exactly that. ”

    I consider this to be one of the best posts on this entire forum.

    Well this is how it is with the middle-class family. It is designed to harm children, to make them into what our society expects. So when a child is harmed it is not an aberration, it is exactly what is intended.

    Most of all it revolves around the Self-Reliance Ethic, which is a kind of guilty until innocent type of crime, like Original Sin.

    So when a family has a child, but some how the child escapes the full intended effect, we have Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery to complete the job of inflicting harm that the family failed to complete.

    And Recovery in particular is based on the Self-Reliance Ethic, measuring up to social expectations.

    Rick Warren of Irvine California, who founded the Saddle Back Church and was able to get it above 20k members in just 20 years, talks non-stop about how, “Everybody needs Recovery.”

    Warren graduated from a Baptist Seminary. Recovery IS the new original sin.

    And so one of the most offensive aspects of this Murphy Bill is that it is presented as being to “help families”. This means helping families to complete the abuse they attempted to inflict, but for some reason were unable to complete.

    So he is making the mental health system, something which should not even exist, into the new Fix My Kid Camp.

    “Don’t worry Representative Murphy, we are not violent or dangerous, and we won’t be no matter how much we are abused. You just say the word and we will walk dutifully into the ovens. We aren’t rebellious, because we know all authority comes from God, and that it is the duty of adults to have children and then crush them. Maybe some of us resisted before, but now we have had enough Therapy and Recovery, that we won’t resist anymore. Sir, you can trust us, we won’t disappoint you.”

    Nomadic

  17. Sera, above you wrote,


    Suggesting that people’s distress must either be rooted in biology or family is a false binary that doesn’t particularly do us all that much good in a world full of complexities.

    But Sera, you must be able to see that I am not saying anything of the sort. Wow, I really must be bad at communicating.

    I am not making the elimination of distress, or of distressed or angry people into any kind of an issue or goal. To do so would be to do what the Mental / Moral Health System does, and what Representative Murphy and the Drug Manufactures do.

    I want to see people organize and start to fight back. When people are distressed and angry, and when they are not being drugged or listening to their therapist or their Recovery Group Leader, they might just be willing to organize and start standing up for themselves.

    The objection I have with your entire position about these matters is that you are legitimating the Mental Health System, you are saying that the remedy to social injustice is, Therapy and Recovery, and I guess in community treatment centers.

    I am saying, NO WAY!

    The remedy to injustice is to organize and start fighting back.

    Even Peter Breggin said in “Beyond Conflict” that underneath the behaviors we call mental illness, there is conflict. I feel that this should be obvious.

    Well the resolution to that conflict is not Community Treatment Centers, any more than it is Psychotherapy or Recovery. The solution to conflict is to fight back and win. And when it gets into these areas, you almost never can do this alone. If you try to fight back alone, you get branded as a psychopath. Our legal system is set up to make it hard to fight back.

    So we need to organize. But the goal of Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Religion are to continue the abuses of the middle-class family, and make people believe that they have an innate moral defect. The traditional name for this doctrine is Original Sin. So when people believe in this, they cannot organize or fight back.

    You seem to think I am saying that familial abuses cause mental illness. I am saying nothing of the sort. I am saying that the middle-class family is intended to do extreme harm. And as such it makes people believe that they need to be in Recovery and Therapy. And very few people are willing to challenge this because it means challenging the Self-Reliance Ethic.

    I know you don’t like the fact that I continue to oppose the message you are putting out. But I have to tell you, no one I care about would ever be abandoned to one of your Recovery or Community Treatment Programs. And the people who are in those programs must be getting pumped full on non-sense on a daily basis, otherwise they would see that they are being abused.

    Nomadic