“Prisoners or Patients?” NJ Psych Hospitals Restrict Patient Rights

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As of Jan. 1, visitors at New Jersey’s state psychiatric hospitals can no longer bring in food, beverages or items to patients. The new policy also prohibits visitors from laundering patients’ clothing outside the hospitals, due to “infection control issues.” “It feels as if they’re being treated as prisoners instead of patients,” said Foster, who asked the Courier-Post to withhold her son’s name. “It’s a shame. How do they expect those people to get well if they’re being denied basic human rights?”

ancora nj psych hospitals

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11 COMMENTS

  1. That hellhole wants to keep their *prisoners* sick. In the 20th century, the quacks could keep you locked up, even if your “illness” was virtually gone. Now, they can’t do that, so they have to make you sicker than you’d ever have been as a free human being. Then, the judge has “no choice” but to cage you forever. This isn’t medicine. It’s psychiatric terrorism. Git-mo is about the only place worse than that gulag.

    • hellhole? are you kidding me? hell isn’t real. there’s no science on hell and so hell is clearly non-existent. if you believe hell exists and is real you probably have a delusional mental illness. especially if you believe in demons, then your brains are definitely sick. yup.

      /end sarcasm

      psychiatry is an indoctrination system. mental illness is the belief system. it is the worst, most cruel abuse humanity commits against its divided self. psychiatry should have been abolished by now but it’s still standing. psych drugs are tranquilizers that subdue some people while giving others a false sense of benefit until the consequences begin manifesting (as many of us victims can attest to).

      • I’m glad someone is finally covering this topic. This is an issue around which even N.A.M.I. mommies and their big Pharma funded “anti stigma” campaign cheerleaders can probably find some common ground with those of us who identify as allies of psychiatric survivors and NAMI rejects.

        I’ve logged in a lot of visiting hours during the last seven years and I witnessed a lot of human rights violations, not even counting the obvious lack of choices and alternatives for individuals, who like my daughter wanted safety and support without the prospect of being forcibly medicated or shocked. There is plenty of room for improvement in hospitals not counting the isolation, restraints, and other forms of abuse and torture.

        My experience of visiting my daughter in two state mental hospitals, and two acute care hospitals, and one psychiatric secure residential unit is that everyone of them routinely violates basic human rights.

        Presents are unwrapped and rules are non uniformly judged as to which things are dangerous and which are not. One day, a hand knitted scarf will be confiscated because it can be unraveled and used to choke people. Come back with the same scarf and a different staff member will wave it by. Employees are simultaneously given too much discretion to interpret vague rules giving sadists and opportunity to flaunt and abuse power, or they are not given enough discretion to show compassion in cases where it would obviously have a therapeutic effect on someone longing for a reminder of home. I think that if peer specialists would outnumber staff members without lived experience of being locked up, this problem would go away. In other words, it’s not a problem of the rules themselves but how they are interpreted and carried out and by whom. This is a staff problem. Peers should outnumber folks with no lived experience in all staffing and hiring.

        The way psychiatric inmates win privileges is by and of itself demeaning and undignified. A patient, who for instance, is multi lingual and has a Phd in economics may be told gleefully by a high school educated mental health worker “Great work, Mr. So and So! You have enough points now to get a soda!” Petty system of rewards and punishments based on behavioral science or operant conditioning should be abolished in all so-called places of healing. People who are involuntarily committed in a hospital are not interested in chips and soda and pizza night and group movie night. They are interested in how to win their release and whether they are going to lose their job, their boyfriend, apartment, etc. while they are being detained for up to six months. They also want stimulating recreational and vocation activities and real therapy in accordance their goals and dreams, not gluing popsicle sticks together in art ‘therapy’

        One hospital where my daughter was, gave points based on attendance at mickey mouse group ‘therapy’ sessions. My daughter told me about one group session run by a NAMI volunteer. My question is this: how does NAMI earn the right to conduct a group therapy session in a hospital when their cirriculuum sucks? NAMI only offers biomedical propoganda.

        Patients are routinely restricted in the kind of reading material they can access. Brochures and fliers are limited to mainstream consumer advocacy organizations such as NAMI. I just had a call from a MindFreedom member who was in tears because their MindFreedom newsletter was confiscated from his room. It was a symbol of hope for him. On the cover of that issue was a group of psychiatric survivors protesting in front of the American Psychiatric Association. One of the protesters held a sign that read ‘I am not a case to be managed’. Why would someone steal something from a patient’s room like that? That is invasive.

        Once, when picking up my daughter from a secure unit to drive her to an Icarus Project meeting, the director of the facility drew me into his office for a stern lecture. Apparently, he had visited the website of the Icarus Project and was concerned that my daughter would be exposed to “militaristic” propoganda and be persuaded to stop taking her medication. That is the word he used, “militaristic” The only times my daughter was exposed to militarism was in the mental health system when she was pinned down and forcibly injected. Jeesh.

        At acute care hospitals, visiting hours are highly restricted. If you have a loved one in the ICU of the same hospital, you can visit with far fewer restrictions. Privacy laws are used as an excuse for a number of other restrictions. For instance, you cannot bring a cell phone from the outside into a restricted facility based on the fear that someone from the outside will take pictures of other patients. Never mind, if you want to provide a loved one with a cell phone in order to protect HER privacy so she can make a private call outside the hearing of nurses, other patients, etc. I would have given my eye teeth to have a cell phone to record an instance when no less than five orderlies jumped on a male patient who was not being violent. I digress.

        I witnessed the mother of a psychiatric inmate, a non English speaker from Ethiopia, weep because they would not let her bring flatbread, olive oil, and other staples of her son’s diet into the backward. He would not touch the wonder bread, margarine, iceburg salads, pizza, frozen chicken mgnuggets and other processed food entries that were routinely served, cafeteria style by the state hospital. He was losing weight too, I couldn’t believe how gaunt he was. You would think the staff would be falling over themselves accepting help from a loved one with an intimate knowledge of her son’s ethnic and dietary preferences. Instead, ‘safety’ was limited to rules created for a minority of patients who were dealing with addiction issues. Supposedly, this little old Ethiopian woman could have put crack cocaine in her son’s goat cheese.

        Visitors at Oregon State Hospital are routinely made to wait in the pouring rain, sometimes up to twenty minutes before an electronic door opens and they are allowed into a screening room where they are screened for contraband. They lock everything up. The whole process takes visitors 1/2 to be screened and have their loved one brought down. Then, they can enjoy the privilege of either listening to their loved one through a pexiglass window or if they have earned the correct amount of privileges, they can sit at a cafeteria style table and visit with their loved one with several orderlies prying on their every word. So much for privacy.

        • sounds to me like your daughter needs to be rescued and set free. she wouldn’t be the only one. i’m deeply sorrowed for the hell horror she is going through. it is a true nightmare. the word nightmare always makes me think of the four horses of the apocalypse (mares). oh my god, i had a thought. it must be an act of mental illness, somebody call the brain police.

          the nightmare of psychiatry is so dark and repugnant that it has no honest and truthful place in the mainstream world of pipeline nightmares,

          war
          politics
          economy
          crime
          drugs
          “racism”
          mental health / mental illness
          and on and on

          if people were honest and truthful about the “mental” system i expect it would fall apart and crumble, sorta like how the earth itself is falling apart directly beneath people’s feet.

          you painted a tragically accurate picture of retard school, madmom. the extreme burning, flaming fire inflammatory insults of popsicle sticks, pizza or popcorn parties and movie night get me deeply in touch with my grossly fornicated inner child for which humanity moronically thinks unnecessary chemical assault on the brain of the victim is “treatment”. grown adults should not be pathologically “treated” as overgrown children. it is abuse and it is severely retarded. to retard someone, in order to subjugate, indoctrinate and control them, is nothing but a sick, ignorant, sinister abuse and torture. what a tragic, harrowing loss of life. what a true hopeless hell.

          no wonder so many sadists are drawn to the “care and treatment” industry. sickos.

          o lord, show us the light in this massively pitch black monstrous world.

        • “and rules are non uniformly judged as to which things are dangerous and which are not.”
          Boy, that is so true madmom! I’ve been trying to explain for years now to attorneys, supervisors, staff and all sorts of people that my son just can’t ‘get it right’ because the rules are different for each staff member. Reid’s attorneys all have told him that he needs to follow the rules and his treatment plan and one attorney even told him ‘when they say jump, you jump’. Well, what do you do when you get punished for ‘jumping’ by one staff when another staff member just told you to ‘jump’? This happens every single day at Western State Hospital.
          I can’t imagine what you must have went through having to deal with so many institutions!

  2. This really is absolutely nothing new. Not at all. Patients that are really prisoners; it’s rampant. God this makes me so mad! Where is all this in the media? Carol Foster, I am so sorry you have to go through this.
    Another hospital that does this? Western State Hospital, one of the most violent, dysfunctional places on earth, and my son, Reid Bertino is trapped there.
    I am searched and wanded before I can visit my son. Yes, I am allowed to bring him food, as long as it doesn’t vary a bit from what was approved…even the amount. And only if staff has deemed that Reid has behaved himself, otherwise, I can’t take in the food.
    Laundry? They won’t even let me touch my son, let alone his laundry, except for the five second contact rule…I’m allowed to give him one, very fast hug while under the intense scrutiny of guards.
    The actual visiting hours are absurd and very limited. The ward phones are broken most of the time and there is no way to get calls in or out. No internet, cell phones or computers allowed. One cup of coffee a day if you haven’t made any staff mad. Just try to talk privately to anyone…doesn’t happen.
    ‘Therapy’ that is actually redundant, grindingly boring ‘education’ that involves learning six grade level skills that no six grader would ever need.
    Healthy behaviors are punished and patients are told they are showing ‘symptoms’ when they speak up for themselves. And any patient that is dumb enough to admit he’s feeling depressed? They get drugged into total numbness.
    I could go on and on. Human beings do not deserve to be treated this way.

    • disable, control and manage the subject (human being turned into an inhuman object). one cannot have human rights when one is not recognized as human but is judged and condemned as diseased and defective.

      i don’t have a mental illness. i have a knowledge problem (harrowing, harrowing knowledge – ecclesiastes 1:18). i can’t live with what i know. i’m not morbid but i know that i will never escape my eternal mourning and grieving (and the furious outrage, more commonly known as a “mad” person with “madness”). i used to be genuinely nice but she’s dead and now i’m mean in addition to being mad. i’m also ugly (used to be sorta pretty but not anymore). the psychiatric head cage that was permanently welded in my mind has me FOREVER LOCKED IN A PSYCH WARD AND I CANNOT GET OUT (even though i’m typing this from my kitchen in “independent living supportive housing”). i visit the mental hospital directly inside of my own mental space at least once a day.

      see the victimization? i’m not free. i never will be.

      oh yeah. the damage really ought to be crystal clear: once they pried into me and busted me wide open all of my insides are always hanging out. i have no boundaries and no privacy. i’m a lot like anne sexton and mercy street.

      i once read that if you wanted to heal a crazy person all you had to do was see the sanity in them.

      i call staff paycheck collectors (they’re “just doing their jobs”).

      sorry for my response to your comment. poor you. i’ll go away now.

      /end naked black mystic rant