After a lengthy break following your third installment of ‘The Desperate and the Dead’, you really seem to have found your groove. Four installments in just over a month’s time? Color me impressed.
Sure, three of the four of them amount to little more than, ‘Hey, our legal system is also really, really messed up’, and ‘Homelessness is a for real issue’… Oh, and the ever brilliant and enlightening, ‘sometimes more support helps’, but… yeah. Still impressed.
Now, as much as I’m tempted to leave my summary of those three pieces right there and skip on to your last piece (Woah. Boy, did you ever outdo yourself with that one!), it’d be downright neglectful of me to not at least pause for a moment and delve a little deeper. Just three quick(ish) points as follows:
You Can Judge a Journalist by the Company he Cites
First of all, each and every time you reference the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC – the place that is the ‘home base’ for the guy – E. Fuller Torrey, that is – who proports the ‘cat feces’ theory of schizophrenia), you do yourselves (and all of us) a disservice. You do this most recently in your court-focused piece, and thusly lend further credence to the rumors that the Globe is somehow ‘in bed’ with TAC, and all their various force-laden priorities. Thanks so much for quoting my friend and colleague, Earl Miller in your article about the intersections of psychiatric diagnosis and homelessness (although you left out so much of what he actually said… like that it’s not so much emotional and mental distress that causes homelessness, rather then the other way around), but you’d basically have to have let him write the entire thing to balance out even one such citation.
Cite Your Sources (Especially When Your Sources Can’t Cite Back)
Meanwhile, what is the deal with the Globe’s decision to post such lurid details of people’s most troubled times, identifying them fully by name and without their permission? Surely, Debra Silvestri (who, at one point, you refer to as ‘Deb’, as if you were old-time buds) did not give you her posthumous permission to feature her so prominently in the court piece. Kind of you to not publish David’s last name in your installment on homelessness, but what of Nick in your prison-focused article? Maybe you did phone him up behind bars, but you can’t have it both ways, can you? You can’t say that people are so ‘sick’ that they can’t function in society, but that they’re in a perfectly good spot to okay such deep revelations about their lives going out to all your readers.
Contradictions Only Matter if They Contradict the Common
Say that five times fast. No, but really. It’s amazing that you can continuously put out pieces that are so full of contradictions, and not get called out on it. It’s no secret why. You can do this with such impunity because what you say is consistent with cultural narratives about psychiatric diagnosis. What a privilege for you.
But, let’s examine just how contradictory things can get. To do that, how about we go back to David and your Spotlight piece on homelessness and the mental health system? A few excerpts:
He believed, at times, that his medications made him taller, or that children he saw on the street were undercover police.
Hospitalized dozens of times over the decades, including at least seven stays at Bridgewater State Hospital, a medium-security prison that houses mentally ill men, he has been prescribed “nearly every anti-psychotic medication available over the past 30 years,” a court report stated.
Back in court again later this fall, David trembled as he stood before the judge. He’d been in jail. His appearance was disheveled. His medication, he insisted, was not working.“My head keeps shaking!” he complained, his quiet voice becoming a wail. “I’m not in the right state of mind!”
So, you seem to have presented a good case for the fact that psychiatric drugs do not appear to be the need or the solution, and hospitalization would seem to sit in a similar boat. At least for this one man upon whom you so relentlessly focused throughout your entire piece. To your credit, you yourselves briefly acknowledge that what would work to stop this cycle is unclear. You also point to the lack of validity of psychiatric diagnoses themselves (“He…would be diagnosed, at various times, with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder.”) which I very much appreciate (even if you did so unintentionally). However, rather than sitting with all your discomfort and uncertainty, you dive into the authoritative embrace of the police:
“Everyone knows who he is, and nobody knows what to do with him,” said one police officer… “We have a lot of guys like this — he’s not alone. You can take him to the hospital, but he doesn’t want to go. You can take him to the court, and he’ll just be released. It’s a frustrating thing. . . . And it’s [bad] for the guy because he needs help.”
… Boston Police Captain Haseeb Hosein showed up unannounced to demand an explanation for David’s continued presence on the streets. Why, he asked, is there nowhere he can go, no hospital to take him, no one who can help? Told that David could not, by law, be committed to a hospital against his will unless he could be proven dangerous, Hosein was incredulous.
I’m throwing up my hands on this one, my Globe friends. This has been a common theme throughout my Boston Globe blogs. You insistently point to how things aren’t working, and then declare with all the apparent confidence in the world that what is needed is more of the same. Person’s taking their psychiatric drugs, but they aren’t working? More drugs for them! Psychiatric hospitalization hasn’t fixed anything? Send them back!
What precisely do you think is going on in these hospitals that you lament do not have enough beds available or enough laxity in their policies for all the forced commitment you would like? It’s not Disney World in there. I can tell you that much. No magic is happening. It’s just more psychiatric drugs and incarceration until people are released into the same damn situations from whence they came.
Texas is the Bestest
So, on to your latest and greatest (and perhaps most dubiously titled): ‘Solutions.’ Apparently, they’re all to be found in San Antonio. This Globe edition details how Massachusetts needs to learn from the ‘lessons’ taught by San Antonio, Texas and how a handful of inspired Texans have transformed their system since the turn of the millennium.
But, before I go even one step further, I need to ask you a serious question: Who edits your writing? And how did these particular excerpts slide past your collective sense of decency?
“A woman in her late 20’s tried to hang herself in her bedroom. Her boyfriend walked in just in time, pulled her down, and hog-tied her while he called for help.”
“Evans — burly, magnetic, and insistent — had wrestled bears as a younger man. He’d changed the diapers of mentally retarded adults in Oklahoma.”
Wait. What!?! Every time I read these sentences, I hear a record scratching to a stop in my imagination.
For what it’s worth, when I searched on ‘hogtied’ to come up with an illustration, literally all that surfaced on Google were pornographic images. I was looking because I felt like displaying an image was merited, just to really drive home what we’re talking about when we use that term. But it took several tries before I found even a vaguely acceptable one (see right).
To be clear, I’m pretty sure that if anyone non-consensually ‘hogties’ anyone else – suicide attempt or not – it’s abuse (yet, the hogtying dude in your intro is portrayed as a hero arriving ‘just in time’). Meanwhile, the intro to the next segment (about a man who apparently played a key role in rescuing the San Antonio mental health system) also sounds like a description straight out of a romance novel that promises more explicit material to come. But… he wrestles bears? Who does that? Isn’t that animal abuse? And who uses ‘mentally retarded’ anymore? Seriously. I know you’ve let some strange statistical analyses pass for truth, but how did this all skate by?
So, I’ve pretty much been incredulously reading these sentences to anyone who sets within a ten foot radius of me all day… because they’re just that hard to get past. But, settling down into the ‘meat’ of all this and as best as I can gather, this article is a thinly veiled push for force and (apparently) an advertisement for AstraZeneca from whom the San Antonio mental health system reportedly raised over six million (!?) dollars to fund its transformation.
There’s not much else that’s new here. Things go better when police officers have some sort of support to understand how to connect with humans in distress. Housing people helps. Apparently, ‘chasing’ people is considered ‘help’ and not harassment in this particular alternate universe. (“Her case manager — the agency currently has 360 of them — had to chase her onto the bus that Bohanan took to her job at a Pizza Hut call center, even transferring to a second bus when Bohanan did.”) A cursory glance is given to some creative voluntary programs that also (strangely) seem successful, before we get back on track to where the force is at. Life goes on.
Now, conveniently for me (only in the sense that less research is required), one of the women who I wrote about in my last Boston Globe blog (Roshelle Clayborn) was beaten to death by employees in a psychiatric facility right in – you guessed it – San Antonio, Texas. But, that was before their big ‘transformation’, right?
Well, even more conveniently for me, a woman contacted me after your ‘Solutions’ article came out to say that she had lived the majority of her life in San Antonio before moving up to Massachusetts, and that she had loads of experience with the ‘model’ mental health system you described. She was eager to share.
Meet Kelly. Kelly is a 31-year-old woman who moved up to the Eastern part of the Commonwealth just a few months ago. She was first hospitalized at the age of 5 at Laurel Ridge (where Roshelle Clayborn was murdered). Her most recent hospitalization there was about six years ago (around a decade after the ‘transformation’ got underway), and here’s just a bit of how she described that experience:
“If you eat too slow they literally take your food away. If you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) like I do and have to take birth control to prevent your cysts growing, prepare to have someone bring you birth control because the pharmacies in the hospital don’t carry it. Also, if you start having a period due to not taking your birth control, prepare to have your family bring you feminine hygiene products because they don’t have that either.
When you’re in the hospital, you are coerced into doing anything and everything. By the end of your time there, you are to the point where your spirit is broken and you’re telling people what they want to hear just so you can get out of there.”
But, the police who are responsible for getting you there are at least better trained, right? I mean, that’s what the Globe said…
“I had a nervous breakdown at work and was dragged out in handcuffs, which was completely unnecessary. When they took me out in handcuffs, that was the only way they were taking me out, and I had displayed absolutely no aggression at all so I really have no idea why they did that. It was degrading and horrible. I felt like garbage.”
Clearly, Kelly must have interfaced with some of those very few police officers who missed the special training the Globe articles say are so widespread in San Antonio. You know, the ones where they get trained on how to deal respectfully with people who are in deep distress… so that the police don’t make the situation worse or traumatize anyone in the process?
But, surely, the rest of the system was better… Maybe it’s just the hospitals that have that much growing left to do?
“My entire life in the system there was composed of people basically telling me to “aim low” so to speak. I shouldn’t try to work, shouldn’t try to do anything “unrealistic”. I was constantly being told I can’t do things or won’t because I have a ‘mental illness’.”
Well, uh, that sounds pretty bad. But, maybe… I don’t know. Maybe it’s still better in comparison to what we’ve got up here?
“It really makes me sick to think [the Globe is] trying to make San Antonio out to be an amazing system when it’s significantly more broken than the one here. I had never even heard about recovery being an option until [I interacted with people in Massachusetts].”
Huh. So, we’ve got a pharmaceutically funded, pro-force system that perhaps isn’t as rosy at the Globe is painting it to be? Shocking. ‘Lessons learned,’ indeed, my Globe friends. Those lessons include (among others):
- Which system is ‘better’ seems to have at least a little bit to do with who’s defining what is ‘good.’
- Which system sounds scarier, surely has a lot to do with which author is choosing the horror stories.
Dear Globe, you kept telling us that – if we were patient – your series would make us all happy in the end. You said we’d be able to get past your ‘Desperate and the Dead’ title, and feel good about the overall message. You told us to our faces that this wasn’t about pushing force and Involuntary Outpatient Commitment. You lied. Or you were wrong. Or a mix of both. Does it even matter which?
In the end, first impressions stick. Everyone in journalism (and beyond) knows this. Corrections and counter-balances are largely ineffective, because it’s those earliest images and ideas that often become ingrained. In an article somewhat comically titled, “British public wrong about nearly everything,” Jonathan Paige details the results of a survey that found public opinion is commonly off the mark, and one of the reasons cited was sensationalized media reporting. No matter how much truth follows along behind. There’s no mystery here.
From day one, you have wielded your sensationalized titles and faulty statistical analysis to foster fear. You have mined the personal pain of your fellow humans and splattered it all over your digital and paper pages to drive an agenda I’m not even sure is your own. You’ve ignored our voices when we’ve told you you were wrong (or at least didn’t have the full story) or where to look for what might be right, and intentionally denigrated us when looking the other way stopped working. You’ve unraveled so much of what we’ve fought for. And now, you just get to walk away, series complete, while we’re left with the pieces.
We’ve (blessedly) reached the end of your series, and all I can say is… don’t you feel even a little bit bad for what you’ve done?
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.
I need them to drop this pretense that suicide prevention is their noble cause. After all what their solution seems to want most is simply to not see us. It must be so terrifying… to need so badly to protect yourself from seeing us as human… relating or empathizing. I wonder if they are ever bothered by the humanity of the mentally ill…. and the gaping absence in sanity…
Thanks for your comment, Deena. They do approach this series as if it is a noble mission for which we should all be thankful.
In fact, I saw two members of the Spotlight team (Scott Allen and Jenna Russell) on a panel Wednesday night, and they were quite self congratulatory about the whole thing… and Jenna (who I’ve actually liked and appreciated during individual conversations in the past) basically said that while she acknowledged that they’d perhaps contributed to ‘stigma’, that the real ‘stigma’ causer was that we (people with psych diagnoses) keep killing people. Oy. It was something else.
Did you ask her if either the pharmaceutical companies or the APA might be willing to teach a course of some kind on their secrets to killing as many people as you like without ever having to suffer any consequences?
Actually, they took up over two hours of the two hours and fifteen minutes just letting the panel members talk and not letting the audience speak at all… but when I did finally get ahold of the mic, I did make mention how far more people are dying every day from the ‘treatments’ the Globe series is urging for more of… oy.
But you make a very good point of who exactly gets to decide who is villainized…
I would not have been able to contain myself. It is almost a life goal at this point to call them out on those magical statistics and the research they keep referring as the gods gospel even though it has repeatedly failed to establish the outcome they want. I suppose fabricating some statistics and getting in a few cheap shots to make sure you can’t make any real argument in your own defense is preferred to admitting that psychiatry was packaged to look like and sound like science, but the truth is, they have no more understanding or power than they did a hundred years ago, and those lofty tones of condescension are not going hold up much longer.
Although nobody mentions it, this seems to be a situation for an able peer support person who, in addition to being able to interact with the distraught, has to be able to direct and deploy cops appropriately, as well as having proficiency in soft martial arts (e.g., aikido, judo, tai chi) in case things go amiss, to avoid creating the big pile of club flailing bodies bad situations can so easily generate. It is also necessary to have a worker who isn’t intimidated by shrinks, so he/she can attend the inevitable interview to supply information the cops and interviewee may lack or not be able to express.
I feel a little confused by your comment. Peer-to-peer support is really about coming at supporting one another with as little power differential and as much mutuality as possible. So, being responsible for sending police out on certain situations or being trained in martial arts for use on the job feels confusing to me?
There’s several other things I feel inclined to say, but since I’m overall not sure I understand exactly your vision, I don’t want to jump into many directions trying to guess.
Let me know if you want to clarify!
The point is to keep yourself, your charge and the neighborhood from getting shot up by excited oafs in uniform. Soft martial arts are (a.) to avoid getting flattened should you say the wrong thing- easy to do under pressure and (b.) to avoid getting you and your charge leveled by storming cops- you don’t intend to go smashing and bashing yourself- this world has more than enough smashers and bashers.
Very insightful analysis. I think the author of this article, and perhaps any other reader of this site who understands the points she is trying to make, could formulate an outline for a better system.
Here is mine:
1. A nonjudgmental place to go for “help” that is not medication based, and not funded by the pharmecuitical industry. A real support system.
2. Housing first, if it is lacking.
3. A job. A real job that pays decent money and has benefits and gives a person a sense of value.
4. Perhaps some type if incentive for employers to hire people in the program. Or subsidised if need be.
5. Access to a holistic style health program to taper people off of meds.
6. Once a person has housing and is employed, it is much easier to get your next job that pays better.
I think this would be preferable to the lock em up, hogtie “them,” label “them” for life and drug “them” for life system we have now.
Also, the EEOC should be taking on cases of discrimination and take them seriously. (I speak from experience here). Their current policy is to ignore those who are discriminated against based upon DSM4/5 labels. They are more concerned with building wheelchair ramps. In the grand scheme of things, the injury inflicted on a person who cannot get a job based on an “advertised” DSM4 code is much greater than the injury inflicted on a person in a wheelchair who cannot get into a restaurant. (An advertised DSM4 code is one that is delivered via US mail from a federal blacklist that must be “querried” whenever a person applies for a job-again speaking from experience-the EEOC just gave me the run around when a formal complaint was filed-imagine having fake medical records delivered via US mail each time you applied for a job, and having them delivered from a federal agency that is under control of the agency in charge of medical privacy-to ignore such a flagrant violation of the law seems impossible but thats what the EEOC did-nothing)
I endured a year of humiliation and three separate cases filed with the EEOC before I had to quit for my own best interest
Thanks so much for your comment. I absolutely think there are many of us here who would be able to design supports that would be far more helpful than anything currently offered. And, thank you for some of your own ideas.
The discrimination one is also huge. Unfortunately, there seems to be an underlying perception among many that when it comes to psych diagnoses many instances of discrimination aren’t actual discrimination, because they’re just ‘truth’.
Read the piece about San Antonio. The place sounds like a therapeutic police state in which medicalization has replaced criminalization as a quick fix remedy for social problems. If you’re homeless, it must be because you have a “mental health issue” or an “addiction problem”. If you’re impoverished, ditto. I dread to think of where this approach might be leading in the future.
The cop at the end of piece sees people he can work with as people who can say “yes” rather than “no”. There goes, in that instance, a person’s right to say “no”. If you aren’t a “yes” man or woman then we’ve got a drug for you. Enough of this, and you won’t be able to say “no” owing to cumulative effect. Extended forced treatment will be leading to actual physical disability, should “treatment” prove long-term. Very disturbing.
I congratulate you for taking on the sensationalized reporting that is going on at the Boston Globe. We need more of this kind of exposure of the press elsewhere. Sensationalism is the kind of thing that drove the recent legislation people have been complaining about, and it will be responsible for making scapegoats out of certain social categories of people in times to come.
It’s a little reminiscent of Bedlams convenient way of cleaning up all those unsightly poor people, isn’t it? Of course, they found they could save money and get more long term results if they just didn’t feed them.
Bedlam also used to charge admission to see the patients, on Sunday afternoons, I believe. Thus, the institution could also make money as well as save it.
Thanks, Frank. You’re absolutely right that sensationalism was the ‘wind beneath the wings’ of Murphy and his ilk. There are so many powerful societal forces (sensationalism, greed, etc.) at work here that it feels terribly hard to effectively interrupt it here. Hoping these articles have at least served to put a bit more doubt in some people’s minds.
Thank you for writing this article. I have enjoyed this whole series immensely although I refuse to read any articles by the Boston Globe and have hidden the newspaper stash at work several times. I love the style of your writing, and it is your wit that can cut through any situation which makes it even more of a pleasure to read.
I’m surprised you even followed the series through to the end. And yes, they do have benefactors that they are catering to, the pharmaceutical companies. They might have just put at the bottom of the articles “Brought to you by Ely Lily or GSK. You can see the bias in the articles they write about the pharmaceutical companies although you can’t get an exact number for the amount of advertising that they take in from them so I wouldn’t even consider them a reliable news source for this subject. They might piss off the wrong customer. The terrible thing is, is that we will no longer get reporting for the sake of getting the truth out. Even Obama gave an interview and said that financial help should be given to our news media because for a democracy, accurate and truth are needed to be the watchdog of our society. And he’s right. This is just another ad for pharma.
I can remember Nealy giving a speech at a conference and that he had been interviewed and asked for data on violence caused by psychotropics. He was livid that it was never aired. I guess the advertisers got their way with BBC and CBS. Jt’s a shame we are even losing our news media in this oligarchy. Don’t have a lobbyist, then you don’t get heard.
We need a lobbyist, or several. We don’t agree on everything, but if we could agree on a set of points, perhaps those endorsed by the United Nations regarding forced treatment and additional ones based on an assembly of all the “black box” warnings the FDA has mandated, we could present a powerful statement to counter TAC, NAMI, PHRMA, and groups* that do little more than lobby Congress to make laws that force the rest of us to submit to harmful interventions again and again, too often losing our right to genuine health or our lives as the result.
Thanks for your comment and appreciation of my writing style. I know it sometimes gets a little too sarcastic for some. 😉
I did honestly flag a bit in my energy to cover this series, hence this blog covering four Globe articles at once… However, when Kelly (whose story is featured here) reached out to me and I read the awful San Antonio piece, it was just the kick I needed to not let the whole thing close with at least one more response!
I just wish we could figure out how to get heard (and get those stories like what you mention here about psych drugs heard) in a much, much broader way.
Sera, I like this article. I think what makes it different from your others is that you are not asking for pity on behalf of some constituency, not asking for Therapy, Recovery, or Healing. You are just telling the Boston Globe off. Good job.
What causes poverty and homelessness is social marginalization. And this is also what causes the quite justifiable state of desperation which we mistakenly call mental illness.
And as far as I can see, it most of the time starts with familial exploitation and the lies that we tell about this.
I helped 3 girls put their father into our state prison. I am convinced that if instead of telling the truth, they listened to their church, then they too would have ended up as the targets for that church’s outreach ministry, as well as being in the Mental Health System.
And Murphy should be resisted by defiance, not be appeals for pity. The mental health system, including Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery, use a parental voice. They are trying to pass judgment on our character, on our essences. So we should never be cooperating with this or letting ourselves be seen as seeking approval. We should always reject it, no matter what that voice is saying.
Wow, way to hit ’em where they live! I was particularly struck by the story of the guy who has received standard psych treatment for decades and is still a mess, which any sane person would conclude was a story of complete and utter failure of the system and the paradigm that drives it, and yet they use that same story to argue for MORE “treatment” that we know has failed him! It’s hard to understand how people can’t see through this. I guess it goes back to Joseph Campbell and people’s need to believe in their own cultural mythology no matter what. I wish I knew what to do about it, because it’s obvious that logic is not a part of the support structure for the psychiatric myth.
I’m starting to believe that our messaging has a leftie tone. We appear to want sympathy and except people to not only care, but do something about a cause that isn’t their own. We direct it too much at liberal audiences and law-makers, in whom we believe sympathy resides. What we forget is that everyone is afraid of mentally ill people, and that liberals might be more so than others. After all, they don’t have loaded rifles standing next to their beds to deal with “crazed” intruders or concealed-carry pistols at the ready should something go down at Walmart again. We figure conservatives are heartless and not inclined to help those less fortunate, so we don’t expect help from their side. But they have a particular hatred of Wasteful Government Spending (which the liberals see as Wonderful God-given Sinecures), and we can leverage that into action by making the correct points, focused not on misery, but on money.
Framing the problem in terms of what is spent on drugs sold by foreign-headquartered drug companies, which is most of big pharma, and what little good it does Americans might get some attention and some anger of the kind that motivates. It would be helpful to describe cheaper alternatives and demonstrate that there would be fewer mass shootings if they were in place (which takes the heat off NRA). The savings must be estimated, but they’d be huge. Once there is a large number attached to a reasonable proposition, the proposition becomes attractive.
We’d have to counter APA and self-appointed pro-drug, pro-force spokesmodels like Jeff Lieberman, E Fuller Torrey and Helen Farrell, but we have a few well-placed advocates in academic medicine who can decimate the spokesmodels’ vapid, palatable wisdoms with actual data.
In sum, it’s all marketing, and we are doing it wrong.
I do think you make some good points here.. we probably would do well to better consider what matters to the people we are trying to convince, then what matters to us or even what we think should matter just because…well.. of a sense of humanity.
If conservatives hate wasteful government spending, why did a Republican sponsor the Murphy bill and why did most Republicans support it?
So true that logic clearly fails here. And it fails so terribly, that the most logical, fact based speakers among us are looked upon as anti-scientific jokes a solid amount of the time. I wish I knew what to do with that, as well. Because I myself feel like I’m stuck in a loop of trying to present logic (albeit with a healthy dose of sarcasm alongside it), and it’s obviously just not enough.
I am writing just to let you know that I am headed out of town and away from Internet connectivity for most of the next week.
My general policy as a writer is to respond at least once to each commenter, but I just won’t be able to do that much after today and until the 27th or so.
I apologize in advance for my silence, and thank you all for reading this blog and any comments you might make. 🙂
Sera, I thought this part was particularly on target:
“You insistently point to how things aren’t working, and then declare with all the apparent confidence in the world that what is needed is more of the same. Person’s taking their psychiatric drugs, but they aren’t working? More drugs for them! Psychiatric hospitalization hasn’t fixed anything? Send them back!
What precisely do you think is going on in these hospitals that you lament do not have enough beds available or enough laxity in their policies for all the forced commitment you would like? It’s not Disney World in there. I can tell you that much. No magic is happening. It’s just more psychiatric drugs and incarceration until people are released into the same damn situations from whence they came.”
This is the primary illusion the mainstream media spreads: that psychiatric diagnoses are valid and that if only more people were taken off the streets, drugged and confined, that things would be better.
And there is continually the illusion that slapping some invalid label like bipolar or schizophrenia on a person explains what has caused that person to be so distressed, hopeless, nonfunctional, or enraged. Newsflash: it doesn’t. It is tired, tendentious, and stupid. Stop labeling people.
To me the following paternalistic, force-focused statements from the Globe article showed the true colors of the system they were discussing:
“They (the mental health system of San Antonio) want people in crisis to submit to help, and to see police as partners in making that happen…
They’ve done what many Bay State advocates dream of, and one thing those advocates resist: taking decisions on treatment and medication out of the hands of the most severely ill.”
And how did San Antonio do that? (Primarily) by taking $6 million dollars from AstraZeneca.
There are a few good intentions to the Globe article and even a few good parts to the San Antonio system – these things are never all bad. Just a shame the few good potentials are so contaminated by the disease model and so heavily framed in terms of those who dispense treatment and enact social control – all based on the myth that mysterious mental illnesses are causing life problems, and the idea that everyone has to be on a drug right away.
And too bad they didn’t cover Open Dialogue or intensive psychotherapy of extreme states without drugs; to me those are better solutions.
Thanks, Matt. Yes, at some point, the Globe agreed to publish an editorial I wrote, and I made a point to highlight some of the bad in the current system that they’re ignoring and some of the good (like Open Dialogue) potential they’re overlooking. They published it, but it doesn’t seem to have actually impacted them at all…
And yeah, it seems so incredibly disingenuous for any of the Globe crew to be hanging on to claims that they’re not pro force (or paternalism). They are terribly clear where they stand in the excerpts such as the ones you cited above.
Years ago, I was hospitalized for 3 weeks (not by force) and luckily, didn’t have any particularly negative experiences.
But I remember one day a person who had suffered a stroke was admitted. He was almost immobile. The next day, one of the technicians decided he wanted him to walk (?!), got him out of his chair and naturally he fell on the floor. Afterwards, the technician dragged him across the room and kicked him repeatedly.
It’s just…I don’t even have words for it.
I am puzzled by this… “when Boston Police Captain Haseeb Hosein showed up unannounced to demand an explanation for David’s continued presence on the streets. Why, he asked, is there nowhere he can go, no hospital to take him, no one who can help? Told that David could not, by law, be committed to a hospital against his will unless he could be proven dangerous, Hosein was incredulous.” https://apps.bostonglobe.com/spotlight/the-desperate-and-the-dead/series/homelessness/
The police Captain does not know the law?
Thanks for writing this Sera, but I’m sure it has fallen on deaf ears. I believe that the Spot Lite team went into this with a story to tell, probably based upon a terrible experience that a close relative or friend had had. Whatever the story was, they believed that it was generally characteristic of the public mental health system. They became true believers. None of them has the capacity to step back and look at the complexity of the system that the Globies were purporting to study. Everything they did–including their fake investigation into the wonderful San Antonio system–was focused on proving their original assumptions. Nothing could stay them from this righteous duty. As Alexander Pope said over three-hundred years ago, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
Is it possible that all of the people who are falling into the category of “mentally ill” are simply being diagnosed with fake diseases that do not actually exist using unreliable tests created by the people who profit off of these diseases?
And if the diseases are fake, then the treatment is not only useless, it is disabling.
The man cited in the article who has been on every antipsychotic known to man, isn’t it possible that the diagnosis is simply wrong, and that all the symptoms he has are drug induced?
If nothing is working for “people like him” why not set up a program to taper him off his drugs. Get him housing. Give him a job where he has something to do, for example helping to maintain the facility that is providing him housing.
I bet the results may be surprising.
I think all of the people have a right to be given a drug free option and that coercing someone to take drugs is a form of abuse and discrimination. If the drugs “aren’t working” instead of giving a new drug, why not stop them altogether? There really needs to be a detox option.
Anyone working in these drug first facilities should be required to read Robert Whittaker’s book.
We need to offer an alternative to the mental health system and to its ways of understanding. I say that this has to be holding parents accountable.
How can you say “blame the parents”? Are you saying someone with an illness such as Schizophrenia the parents are to blame??? That is truly absurd… It is like saying cancer is the parents fault. Parents fight for their children every day to save their lives… Most Schizophrenia sufferers don’t even know they have it till their 20’s… How do you blame the parents?
Sara, in the case of Deb Silvestri… Yes I more than anyone have EVERY right to call her that…. the Globe did more than extensive research regarding what happened in her case. She had three OUI in total, one stemming from a stupid mistake in the 80’s (like many back then), one in the 90’s around the time of her first hospitalization, and the third almost a year before her Suicide in Lowell Drug Court.
The story behind hers was to show that the courts are NOT equip to handle people w that level of mental illness (using alchol or other forms of self medication) and do not make an effort to seek out information even when the court they stand before (including the same Judge) has already seen the defendant stand before then three times for a section 35 brought before them by the own family.
Deb was placed in Framingham prior to Drug Court where she was sought out with the promise of a quicker resolution to her sentence by Marie Burke when Lowell first introduced Drug Court.
When looking for Psych Social Report there have been none provided, why would you think that is… It is a requirement to enter Drug Court .. had they, they also would have found that she had Liver issues as well from years of damages which caused inconsistent testing to cretin levels, anxiety disorders, Schizophrenia, bipolar and a range of other mental disorders.
Pull her court recording before you judge why Maria Cramer who did a LOT of research on that case and was very gentle with her mother who she did not intend to contact.
This section was probably the most well researched, well written, well informed section. Judge Thomas Brennen in Lowell Drug Court had no rules. He has at least 5 lawyers so far that if they do not agree with his processes he dismisses them from his court leaving the clients with no assistance except to be passed on suddenly to a new attorney who knows nothing about them at the drop of a dime. This happens quite frequently in his court. He was actually being brought in by the SJC the same time the article was released.
These are all facts that should have been looked at when your comments were made particular to this section..
NAA, there are laws to incarcerate people who do violent things. But there is no such thing as mental illness.
Why, he asked, is there no where he can go? I was recently at Penn Station in NY. I came across one man, sleeping in a sink. And I thought the same thing. A few moments later, exiting the WC, I saw another man, probably homeless, sitting leaning against the wall. He was approached by 2 young individuals wearing t shirts with the words AMTRAK HOMELESS OUTREACH PROGRAM printed on it. And they spoke with the man and asked if he needed a place to stay. And I thought, what a great idea. Offer them a helping hand, a place to sleep, a place to go. One trip to the ER or one hospitalization could pay for how many days of housing? Its a start.