The Political Abuse of Psychiatry in America – My Story

Lauren Andersen
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Imagine going to the airport to travel to London, a commute you had made dozens of times before, only to find yourself locked in a high-security psychiatric ward a few hours later, stunned and naked except for a gown and underwear, paralyzed by psychoactive drugs, and deprived of all of your belongings.

This happened to me, and you will be shocked to learn how easily it could happen to you. The airlines and their cronies in government don’t want you to know that the political abuse of psychiatry is alive and well in America.

I am a mother of two, with no history of violence or arrest, but was falsely arrested and imprisoned without probable cause, notice, warrant, charges, legal advice, hearing, or paperwork, for 18 days in a psychiatric ward at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York City, part of Northwell Health, in June 2011, during which time I was drugged and subjected to various types of severe physical and emotional abuse — including assault, hands-on stripping, and deprivation of human essentials like water and fresh air. This was carried out by malicious staff, several of whom were unlicensed by the State to practice their profession.

I was handcuffed, perp-walked, and my car and nearly all of my belongings were confiscated, including my Macbook, iPad, iPhone, pens, paper, books, toiletries, contact lenses, medications, belt, clothing, jewelry, shoes, keys, and money.

I was denied contact with my children, including my youngest, who was only age seven at the time.

There was no signature or approval in the hospitalization process, issued by any authorized individual, committee, or court.

This is not a picture of the New York where I was born and raised; it is a grisly reflection of the political abuse of psychiatry that took place in the Soviet Union or under other authoritarian regimes.

My small-town Christian upbringing, and two college degrees, had not prepared me for this, nor had my career as a medical technology executive. I was raised in a seaside Long Island suburb where there was practically no violent crime. Even though I had traveled around the globe many times, and lived on three continents, I had never encountered a situation as terrifying as this one. I had visited some of the most gruesome hospitals in the world on business, but never had I seen anything like this.

Nothing is going to erase the psychological devastation to me from being stabbed in the back by people who owed me a duty of care. Northwell labeled me with a record of arrest and involuntary psychiatric commitment, which has been damaging to my reputation, social life, and ability to find employment, and could continue to do so for the rest of my life. I went from having homes in both London and New York, to owning no property and living in my parents’ basement. It was — and still is — terribly humiliating.

Northwell staff literally assaulted me twice, and emotionally knocked me down so hard that it has been impossible for me to get up again.

Neither Northwell nor my health insurance company — UnitedHealthcare — informed me in advance of Northwell’s usurious fees of over $67,000 ($3700 per day), gave me the opportunity to approve the fees, or told me how much the insurance would cover and how much it wouldn’t until long after I was discharged. These fees would pay health insurance premiums for two entire families for a year in New York State. They are more than twice the day rate for a suite at a five star hotel. My insurance company did not question these rates, and paid them in full even when I asked them not to.

This is astonishing given that people all over New York State are allegedly waiting for a psych ward bed.

I reported my complaint to every law enforcement and regulatory entity I could think of, at local, county, city, state, and federal levels — right up to the White House — not to mention the British government, the UN, and Interpol. So far, I have been shown almost nothing but deliberate indifference.

The maze of bureaucratic finger pointing involved would take pages to explain, but there is a good explanation in my court documents. Suffice it to say that they either ignored me or pointed the finger of blame at some other government body.

How I ended up at JFK without a passport is a long story in and of itself. If I hadn’t been in the midst of a family crisis, the abuse I endured at the hospital might not have been as traumatic as it was. But I was in the throes of an ugly divorce which was causing me unbearable depression, anxiety and insomnia.

To find some tranquility, I left my family home for my parents’ house with nothing but my little boy and a suitcase. The day after I arrived, my parents’ house flooded, and the few belongings I had with me were soaked.

I felt as though I was suffocating, so I decided to go to the UK, to see my teenager — who was in boarding school there — and my friends. I had lived in London for 11 years, and it felt like home to me. There were things about my personal life that I felt I couldn’t discuss with my family, and I wanted to deal with the emotional turmoil surrounding my divorce in my own way.

When she learned of my plan, my mother hid my passport because she didn’t want me to leave. She probably thought she was helping, but this meddlesome act infuriated me, and we exchanged some cross words about it. So I gathered up all of my other ID documents (which was more documentation than most people ever possess in their lifetimes), dropped my son at my sister’s house, where he had stayed happily hundreds of times before, and drove to JFK airport alone.

I went to the British Airways terminal, because I had flown BA many times. But BA staff refused to sell me a ticket without a passport, and wouldn’t offer me any further assistance. I started to get annoyed — although not agitated or loud — and told them I was going to call the media to the scene to document the dispute. In response, BA called the New York Port Authority police (PAPD) to arrest me.

I have dual US and UK citizenship, and was one of the early enrollees in the British Home Office’s Iris Recognition Immigration System (called IRIS). I should have been able to use this to enter the UK without a passport, since I had done so previously. The IRIS system, as the name implies, involves technology that can recognize the individual characteristics of the human eye, which are as unique as fingerprints, thereby eliminating the need for a passport. However, BA staff did not even stop to ask me about this before they called the police; they were in a hurry to confiscate my phone, handcuff me, and hustle me out of the terminal before I would be able to call a reporter.

BA observed with indifference while the police handcuffed my wrists behind my back, without charging me, without probable cause, and without reading me the Miranda rights, then deprived me of drinking water while they waited for what seemed an interminable period, and transported me in a New York City ambulance to Northwell.

I expected to be greeted by kind professionals who would tell me that it had all been a mistake and that they were terribly sorry. Instead I encountered a mammoth money-spinning machine, staffed by cold, sadistic doctors and their robotic minions. These individuals admitted that I was not violent or dangerous, but saw fit to abuse me anyway.

The staff seemed to know or care little about patients’ rights, and in fact even refused to show me the hospital’s policies and procedures. They deprived me of drinking water, food, fresh air, proper clothing, visits with family, other human essentials, and legal advice. They forcibly drugged me, by both pills and injection. They gang-assaulted me twice, both times using male employees.

The Northwell staff — sickeningly — seemed amused by the torment that they were inflicting on me.

The staff included unlicensed, unsupervised junior doctors, whose managers, astonishingly, had also practiced medicine while unregistered with the State, some for extended periods of time. I didn’t discover this until long after I was discharged, because the State makes it very difficult to obtain this information. The supervisors were almost all members of the faculty at Northwell’s medical school, Hofstra.

I was also repeatedly provoked by violent and sexually aggressive patients, in a ward environment that was something out of Lord of the Flies. Northwell employees did nothing to prevent such threats.

They violated dozens of laws: mental hygiene laws, tort laws, Constitutional rights laws, human rights laws, general business laws, anti-discrimination laws, and disability laws, to name a few. Nobody at Northwell explained to me what law they were invoking to detain me.

I didn’t learn until seven months after I was released that this was New York State’s emergency psychiatric detention law. However, I didn’t fulfill either of the two criteria for admission under this law: imminent physical dangerousness to oneself or to others.

I was not allowed to leave the hospital until, in desperation, more than two weeks later, I contacted my Congressman and the media.

After three months, I received my clinical records from Northwell, and was horrified to find that they contained sensitive, personal, confidential information — details that were unnecessary for my treatment, but which I had offered in good faith to the staff psychiatrists because I believed they could be trusted with confidential information as part of their professional duty of care. There was nothing particularly controversial in my records, but there was still some material that most people would find excessively personal in this context. There was no valid medical or psychiatric reason for Northwell to refuse to omit the sensitive information from my records, or for it to refuse to seal the records — however, it has done so. It became clear that Northwell was using my clinical records to coerce me, and it is still doing so. It is holding my personal health information for ransom, which is contrary to medical ethics.

This whole scenario has been a devastating violation of my trust, like being stabbed in the back by dear old friends. My family had raised me to trust the police, who had always been helpful to me, and I had not seen any reason to distrust them until they arrested me at JFK. Having handcuffs slapped on me threw me into such a state of shock that I was nearly speechless. I was born at a Northwell hospital, just a stone’s throw away from Zucker Hillside, and so was my eldest child. All of my own doctors were part of the Northwell network. My family had spent literally hundreds of thousands of dollars at these hospitals over the half century since I was born.

The burning question on most people’s lips is “why”? Why did they do this to me? Why did Northwell single me out for such egregious mistreatment? I have never been violent in my life, I’m not a gang or cult member, and I don’t get involved with illicit substances — even though I don’t think that would justify a hospital’s use of such vile retribution. I’m most people’s idea of a really sweet person. I aspire to leave the world a better place than it was before I arrived.

I still don’t know the answer to that question. It is likely because I had been a political whistleblower starting in Washington in about 1996, and have experienced a lot of retaliation because of that role.

It is now my sixth year since I was detained, with no justice in sight. I still have not had a hearing, although by law I should have had one within five days of being hospitalized. The litigation process should have taken about three months to reach its current stage… and it is not even close to finishing. It has been held up due not only to law enforcement and regulatory foot-dragging and cover-ups, but also to the fact that Northwell’s attorneys have persisted in lying to the court by saying that their clients complied with the law, when they manifestly did not do so.

To bamboozle the judges, Northwell’s lawyers have also repeatedly cited cases, in their legal briefs, in which plaintiffs were violent. This is an improper comparison, because I was never violent. I discovered that this is a common strategy that lawyers use against plaintiffs in mental health cases.

Torture might sound like too strong a word to use in this context, but threat of physical and mental harm is commonly used in a detention setting as a torture technique. It violates the UN Convention Against Torture. Forcible stripping is a means of sexual humiliation, which causes mental suffering, and is also widely employed to torment victims.

Investigations in my case have been covered up, and files “disappeared” at all levels — city, county, state and federal. State regulators pronounced that they could find “no deviation from the standard of care” after sham investigations into my complaint. Later, when I asked for copies of my documents under the Freedom of Information Law, they told me that their files were empty. I even saw my radio advertising campaign mysteriously obstructed, after I had successfully used it to locate other potential plaintiffs among the general public.

I was obsessed with researching the issues underlying my case and ferreting out more evidence to bolster my allegations, because I knew I was in the right and that these issues are vitally important. I have refused to give up my quest for justice, even though I have suffered terribly from PTSD, to the point where those closest to me have constantly urged me to drop the case. In the six intervening years, I could have gotten a law degree plus halfway through medical school!

Since I began this process, I have learned more about the law surrounding mental healthcare than most lawyers know, and about the political forces lurking behind the scenes of this secretive industry. Other abused patients began contacting me, with similar experiences. I realized while doing my research that I could use my litigation to help millions of other people, while helping myself.

How do we prevent this kind of egregious abuse from reoccurring? The offending companies and government agencies need to be punished, to prevent them from torturing other people in the ways that they targeted me. Fines would not be adequate, because that would merely be moving money from one of the government’s pockets to another one. The individuals at the top who are responsible need to be named and shamed. There needs to be new legislation to introduce transparency and accountability into the overly secretive mental healthcare industry, and force it to stop misusing the psychiatrist’s power of detention on non-dangerous individuals. People have trouble agreeing on the use of torture generally, but I think we can all concur that it shouldn’t be used on non-dangerous people in a healthcare setting. The federal government must stop reimbursing it through Medicaid and Medicare.

If you would like to look up my case, it is index number 602687/2015 in the Supreme Court of NY, Nassau County.

I founded a charity to help other abused patients. You might find its website helpful if you are contemplating litigation: see sanerights.org. Please tell me if my writing has helped you; such communications give me a sense of satisfaction and make this arduous journey more bearable.

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129 COMMENTS

    • In his testimony, Marion described being strapped down to a gurney, a nurse hovering over him with a needle, then injecting him, “like in ‘The Cuckoo’s Nest,’ ” referring to Ken Kesey’s novel about a psychiatric hospital from hell. Comparing himself to “Louima,” as in police brutality victim Abner Louima, Marion said, “They used a toilet plunger for him and a needle for me.”

  1. Did you seek mental healthcare voluntarily, but then find that treatments you didn’t want were forced on you?
    Were you locked up against your will without notice, when you were nonviolent?
    Were you denied legal advice or a hearing?
    Were you physically or sexually abused, or strip-searched?
    Were you drugged against your will?

    Yes, that is what lead me to writing on this website. I was having a very difficult time and I was drinking too much. I decided enough was enough and went to the ER for detox instead of buying more alcohol that morning to prevent the shaking and anxiety caused by drinking alcohol. I was transported to a UHS psychiatric facility. Universal Health Services.

    It turned out to be a month long ordeal and my medical record accused me of being suicidal a total lie and bipolar becuase “speech is rapid”. You get five minutes to talk in that interview they bill an hour for, should I speak slowly ?

    Thats what UHS does https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosalindadams/intake

    They threatened me with injections to try and coerce me to take a 3 drug cocktail including Haldol. A scary amount of unnecessary drugs all three at the max dose level. What the hell you people stick a needle in me when this is over I will see you outside and stick a needle in YOU. Watch your backs outside this place. They threatened to call the police, I said go ahead all I did was make the exact threat in response to the threat of assault and needle sticking you people just made at me. The did not call cause that is what I was going to do, file the same complaint of making threats as they did. Talk about rock and hard place, take a pill overdose by my own hand or get assaulted and bodily integrity violated. That is what rape is, people sticking things inside your body against your will.

    It was a complete nightmare and there was no need for threats of assault and needle penetration rapes. Not my fault their “treatment” is so horrible people are constantly refusing it.

    In that 24 page long news article I linked to above it explains how those criminals at UHS operate. Puts to rest that argument that since I was in the hospital I ‘needed’ to be treated that way and its my fault.

    • “I still have not had a hearing, although by law I should have had one within five days of being hospitalized.”

      That was my argument for a lawsuit. Of course they needed my medical records but when I called they would transfer me to a voicemail and no one ever called back. It cost me $120 to hire a paralegal and she got some of the records. Of course it did not include that drug cocktail of 800mg Seroquel, Trileptal and Haldol. Three drugs at the max daily dose adds up to an overdose in my book. I never got the standard medication for alcohol withdrawal.

      Anyway I have this idea that could be a major thorn in the side of the psychiatric industry, a do it yourself fill in the blanks lawsuit kit. How hard could that be to create? They consistently violate people in the exact same ways.

      I bet a webpage could be created with questions with fill in your information and what happened text boxes. Was your hearing held on time ? Were you threatened with needles and violence ? Were you assaulted ? A little java script and a print ready lawsuit to file is made. Detailed instruction on the filing process would also need to be included.

      The most common thing I heard in that hellhole posing as a hospital was people saying “I am going to sue this place” in an attempt to have their rights respected. Staff knew as I found out its not so easy. I should have won a lawsuit, no hearing = false imprisonment but none of the lawyers I sent my medical records wanted to take on the UHS legal dept that I am sure is massive.

      A do it your self lawsuit kit would allow victims to make them show up in court and win or loose it would cost these “hospitals” time and money.

      They were assaulting ‘patients’ right in front of the video surveillance. If the atrocities I saw in that hellhole were put on YouTube it would go viral like the famous police brutality videos. That was one of the hardest parts of my nightmare having to stand by and watch others assaulted by staff without stepping in to defend. Its like a natural reaction to defend when you see someone attacked but it would have been useless and I would have been subjected to that nerve toxin needle penetration rape if I stepped in and I need this body to exist. Permanent neurological damage is serious shit. I have read many stories online about the neurological damage from victims of inpatient needle assaults.

  2. Psychiatry is a very effective political weapon, much more so than false criminal charges, as I described in my article last year:

    http://columbusfreepress.com/article/one-flew-out-new-cuckoo%E2%80%99s-nest-forced-psychiatry-ohio-instrument-political-oppression

    MIA writer Rob Wipond reported on the John Rohrer lawsuit soon after it was filed:
    https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/12/patients-lawsuit-claims-psychiatric-diagnosis-treatment-fraud-malpractice-torture/

    but John Rohrer continues to be locked up, probably for life, his neurological systems damaged without compensation because the fix was in and Ohio judges kept all allegations far away from any jury or other fact finder, although he was well-represented by 2 attorneys and the complaint was well-pled. Still it was dismissed out for fictitious and invented reasons – all affirmed by appeal courts in Ohio, a state that highly favors public employees no matter what they do, especially if “medically” connected. The Ohio Supreme Court “justices” receive enormous campaign contributions from Big Pharma, hospital associations, etc. and has been found to vote consistently with the interests of contributors about 88% of the time on average. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A06E7D81730F932A35753C1A9609C8B63&pagewanted=all

    Vicims of psychiatry would do well to understand that not only is psychiatry fake, so is our so-called justice system. I intend to continue exposing it on my BedlaminAmerica broadcast, however, and welcome all input: kshine at wljaradio dot net.

  3. It makes no sense that these hospitals use forced drugging and threats.

    The goal is to keep the beds full and collect 100s of dollars a day therefor they should like people who refuse to be drugged into zombie oblivion if that is the only thing that will help them recover from what ever state they are in. A longer stay is more money. They love dat money !

    (UHS saw improvement in its net revenues during the third quarter. The psych hospital chain said its net revenues increased 9.3 percent to $2.2 billion in the third quarter of FY 2015 compared to the same period 2014. UHS also saw its net income jump 81.5 percent year over year, increasing to $150.3 million in the third quarter of FY 2015.)

    Seems to me they can’t help people get through what ever is going on with them with out the disable you with drugs part cause it would blow the whole very profitable FAKE narrative that the only way to “recover” from emotional distress is to be a lifetime consumer of psychiatric drugs.

  4. Lauren

    Thank you for standing up and fighting this oppressive “mental health” system and for targeting the specific criminal role of Psychiatry.

    Psychiatry currently has certain legal and political power in this country second only to the Executive Branch of government. With a mere signature of a pen a psychiatrist has the power to override the Constitutional Rights of any citizen by incarcerating them in a psych hospital (another form of prison) and drugging them (mind rape) against their will. There is little legal recourse against this, and the System is stacked against those attempting to fight it.

    Your public exposure of these crimes is heroic under these difficult circumstances. Even if you lose this particular legal case you will have educated more people about these forms of psychiatric abuse.

    I hope you continue to be an active participant in the MIA blog community.

    All the best, Richard

  5. Thanks, Lauren, for publishing your grueling story in madinamerica.com. I feel that you are courageous in expressing yourself and sharing.

    I saw some of those abuses during my 5 voluntary hospitalizations, and now work with peer support groups helping others.

    In the article was this statement:

    “It is likely because I had been a political whistleblower starting in Washington in about 1996, and have experienced a lot of retaliation because of that role.”

    I don’t want to be intrusive, but if you can, I’d like a little more detail about the whistleblowing that seems to be the pivot point of the torture and etc. Can you please give me a more information than just this brief sentence?

  6. IN 2014, just before I departed my home state of Connecticut after nearly 60 years, after nearly being murdered in a University psychiatry hospital there, I was interviewed by Connecticut public radio about my experience of being put in four point restraints and seclusion in Connecticut hospitals. The interview with Davis Dunevin lasted more than 2 hours and though I had my doubts, I was informed that it would indeed air some few weeks later. As it turned out, it aired, in brief, in very brief, edited down to two sentences, that had very little to do with the hospitals and my experience in them. Almost all the hourlong show was given over to the hospital personnel and staff who spent it defending their practices or denying that they used restraints at all. Some of the nurses interviewed I knew quite well, and when they spoke about rarely using restraints or only in extreme or severe situations I might have laughed…had i not been so angered by NPR’s betrayal. Oh, I ought to have known, after all, they are sponsored by Hartford Healthcare, so what could they do but kowtow to them??? Anyhow here are a few of my comments that I posted at the NPR website where they had the transcript of the broadcast.

    “As someone who has been subjected to more use seclusion and four-point restraints over the past “decade of change” than in the two decades previous it boggles my mind that anyone would even dare to state that things are improving in Connecticut mental health care institutions. During my nearly month-long captivity in the winter of 2013, the Institute of Living in Hartford regularly restrained me to a bed for as long as 19 hours at a time, without ever releasing me for so much as a bathroom break — I had to defecate in my clothing. I was not even released to eat. When I was not in four point restraints “for not following directions, I was in seclusion, which they called the “Quiet Room” and not seclusion, but by CMS definitions, it was seclusion as I was separated from the rest of the patient population by force, and was not permitted to leave the room I was isolated in.

    “The one time I did actually saunter away, walk down the hall to look out the window, and return to my non-seclusion Quiet Room, I was punished with immediate use of four point restraints, into which I was placed without a struggle, hoping that would make it easier to win my freedom. Alas, for me, there was no way to earn freedom from restraints I never “deserved.” The entire point was discipline, and that would last as long as the staff wanted me to be in shackles to learn my lesson. There was literally nothing I could do, –stay calm, sleep, quietly ask for release — nothing, until they were finally satisfied that I was submissive enough to obey their orders, some 6-19 hours later. But I had to cry Uncle, and submit to a set of degrading humiliating “debriefing questions” that assured them that I took responsibility for my own being restrained and that my behavior would henceforth conform to their norms.

    “I was surprised to see Natchaug Hospital being given good ratings of any sort. One of their chief psychiatrists on the Adult Unit, (Dr Pence) a longtime presence their Emeritus psychiatrist you might say, was so insouciant about this job as to be nearly incompetent, but probably hard to fire even for negligence. HIs name I will not mention. He routinely did drive-by visits with his patients– a wave in the hallway might not be a completely standard morning meeting, but it happened often enough that peatients knew that would be all of this doctor they would see for the day. He routinely discharged patients with GAF scores at or around 60, the highest “global assessment of functioning” that one can have and still be rated “disabled” — not because he knew this level of functioning to be the case, but because it made him and his psychiatric ministrations at Natchaug look good. After all, if person comes in with a GAF in the 20s, and barely able to function, and you discharge him or her a week or two and some drive-by counseling sessions later with a GAF of 60, you must be doing a terrific job, esp for a 75 year old doctor not too keen on using anything like trauma-informed or patient-centered care. I had never left a hospital before Natchaug with a GAF higher than 40, but suddenly I rated a 60….by a doctor with whom I never spoke.

    “Natchaug Hospital, when the nursing director was Sharon B Hinton, APRN, was a decent place, because she made certain that abuses like restraints and seclusion rarely to almost never happened under her watch. I know, because I was there about three times during her administration. I also knew her when she was Hartford Hospital’s psychiatric Head Nurse at CB-3, where she and her never failing humanity and respect for the dignity of every patient made all the difference in the world. I might have come from an abusive hospital in the early 90s, like University of Connecticut’s Dempsey Hospital, which in those days four-pointed people to an iron bedstead, by shackling them spreadeagled to the four corners of the bed, a stress position that is not just tantamount to but is in fact torture. But I would be rescued by someone finding me a bed at Hartford Hospital, where Sharon would discover me arriving there in tears and tell me, unfailingly,”Its not you, Pam, you did nothing wrong, It is the hospital that treats you badly…We don’t have any problem with you, because we treat you well and you respond to it. When they treat you with cruelty, you respond badly…That’s very normal.”

    “But as to Natchaug…Bravo if they have done away with restraints completely. They had not done so when I was there last in 2012. Nor with seclusion, which was imposed in mostly a disciplinary and arbitrary fashion. Largely it was used to force medication on loud obstreperous patients or for angry fed-up senior nurses to take out their peeves on patients they didn’t particularly like (e.g. me). I still remember one APRN demanding that I be dragged to locked seclusion, and left there alone (despite all Sharon’s previous assurances that such would NEVER happen, that someone would ALWAYS remain in that room with me if I ever ended up there.. Alas, Sharon had left by then, so rogue nurses like D could have their way…) and when I peed on the floor in panic, and took off my clothes they rushed in to take them away from me, and inject me with punishment drugs, then made me stay for an hour alone on the pee-soaked mats, freezing cold, pretending to sleep and calm myself just to convince them I could leave and not bother anyone. I managed to do so, or at least the APRN D. got over her fit of pique and finally released me, but I was not really calm, and when they finally draped two johnnies over my naked body so I could decently traverse the distance to my room, I left, disrobing as I went…Who gave a damn about my flabby flat behind? I certainly did not. And it served them right if everyone got an eyeful…served them right..

    “Natchaug’s biggest problem was and probably still is a lack of staff cohesiveness and bad morale between the staff nurses and the well-educated techs/mental health workers who were all very dedicated college grads but were treated like grunts…The MHW’s did most of the important patient contact, but were not trusted to write patient notes, or the notes they wrote were never read, or accorded any import. This was not just despicable but very unfortunate in more than one instance during my stay, as the notes they took personally might have saved me from some terrible misunderstandings and outrageous misdiagnoses that harmed me terribly..

    “Most places use techs who are trained by shadowing for a day or two, which means, badly trained, if at all…

    “You have to take all such in-hospital diagnoses with such a heavy grain of salt, you know, even when they are labeled with the words, “THIS IS A LEGAL DOCUMENT.” Because they get so much of fact-checkable, factual material garbled that you cannot believe a word it says. And as for diagnosis, well it is all of it opinion, one, and two, it depends largely upon whether you are a likable patient or a disliked one, what they finally say about you on any given day. No one should have that sort of power over another human being, frankly. And the idea that they can brand one for life with certain psychiatric diagnoses just sickens me.

    “Be that as it may, my recent last experience was beyond the beyond, at Hospital of Central Connecticut, The old New Britain General…and I expect to go back to talk to someone there about it. And I have much to say to them, after the pain and rawness have worn off a little. They considered it SOP to strip me naked and leave me alone in a freezing seclusion cell without any access to human contact, unless they chose to speak to me over a loudspeaker hidden in the ceiling. If not, I was utterly abandoned, no contact or even view of another human being for as long as they wanted to keep me secluded. They also restrained me, having male security guards four-point me stark naked in a spread eagle position to the bed, before they had the decency to cover me with a light sheet, even though I begged for a blanket for warmth. (A nurse manager came in and shivered, saying “Brrr its cold in here!” but did they relent and let me have a blanket…No, clearly I was not human, didn’t need warmth.)

    “This is just the tip of the S&R iceberg in Connecticut in the current years, Remember this is happening right now, not ten years ago, or before the so-called reforms. Nothing is getting better. Things are worse than ever, And when you are a patient in these hospitals, you have no help, no recourse, anything and everything can be done to you and you have no way to refuse or say “no”. No one will help you, or offer assistance. They can just grab you and seclude you or restrain you without your having the power to stop them or any recourse to make them pause and reconsider. You are powerless to stop anything…And so they get away with it every time. And once it is done, who will fight for you? What lawyer will take your case if the guards hurt your shoulder rotator cuff, or bruise you up, or degrade or humiliate you? No one….so you are deprived of your human and civil rights, completely, but the hospital knows that no one cares enough to fight for you, so they get away with it each and every time, and they know this when they do it. They have nothing to worry about,….You are just another mental patient, a nobody, a nothing.

    “That’s what you are if you are diagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized in Connecticut hospitals in 2014. A nobody that the hospitals can abuse with impunity and will. Just wait and see if any of this changes…I doubt it highly. They have no motivation to change. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong now.”

    • How can so many people be so inhumane to other humans in America? How can we possibly think we are a ‘city on a hill’ to the rest of the world, when this is regularly going on? It’s so heartbreaking and sickening. This story sounds like something from hundreds of years ago, not a few years ago. I’m so sorry you had to endure this.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. This quote could be applied to most of the public psychiatric hospitals in the United States, and yet the media never covers this: “Remember this is happening right now, not ten years ago, or before the so-called reforms. Nothing is getting better. Things are worse than ever, And when you are a patient in these hospitals, you have no help, no recourse, anything and everything can be done to you and you have no way to refuse or say “no”. No one will help you, or offer assistance. They can just grab you and seclude you or restrain you without your having the power to stop them or any recourse to make them pause and reconsider. You are powerless to stop anything…And so they get away with it every time. And once it is done, who will fight for you? What lawyer will take your case if the guards hurt your shoulder rotator cuff, or bruise you up, or degrade or humiliate you? No one….so you are deprived of your human and civil rights, completely, but the hospital knows that no one cares enough to fight for you, so they get away with it each and every time, and they know this when they do it. They have nothing to worry about,….You are just another mental patient, a nobody, a nothing.”

  7. Thank you Lauren Andersen, for trying to police the psychiatry system.
    Myself , I think the worst part of being jailed (before I committed any crime) was the psychiatric drugs they call medicine.
    Everyone in the system is being paid, whether they do good or bad, if they follow the rules or don’t follow the rules.
    I, unlike others at MIA do believe in involuntary commitment, but with just cause , involving a genuine court hearing of evidence.

    Those held in prison-hospital have to be given a reasonable method to get out of the prison ( imagine it was YOU mistakenly imprisoned!), and/or the punishment/treatment must fit the crime ( with the crime having occurred first, not after psychiatry).

  8. To Lauren, Markps2 and all

    In the my previous blog titled “May the ‘Force’ NEVER EVER Be With You: The Case for Abolition” see link below:

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/10/may-force-never-ever-case-abolition/

    I make the case against the use of ALL ‘force’ without ANY exceptions. I challenge people to read this, including the very rich discussion that follows the blog. Every possible facet of this contentious issue is covered within this blog and discussion.

    Markpc2, to give this System any “room to move” on this harmful and dangerous violation of human rights is to (in the final analysis) conciliate with the “enemy” and leave the door open for greater harm in the long run. I hope you will reconsider your position.

    Richard

    • Thank you, Richard Lewis, that was a brilliant and wonderful piece! As someone who has been reduced to defecating on the floor and smearing shit on herself and the walls, post-forcible injections of “helpful haldol” i can only second your plea that the force should never ever be with us. Force begets violence, and even though i have been designated as “assaultive” by the system, i wonder whether they have ever considered what it looks like to me, when a goon squad presenting a “show of force” intended to intimidate (which is by definition “assault”) comes at me? What do they expect me to do?! What do they really believe they themselves would do? Honestly, the training in hospitals is so outrageous that my brother once asked in his psychiatry residency, to be restrained so he could know what it felt like, but they refused him, telling him, it would be too traumatic! Ooooh, so they are fully aware of the nature of what they are doing to vulnerable psychiatric patients… Wtf!

      But i have literally never hurt anyone unless threatened or coerced first…or belittled and humiliated into a power under situation…that is what hospitals do to patients, on purpose.

      POEM IN WHICH I SPEAK FRANKLY, FORGIVE ME

      
GOMER: ER-speak for a troublesome,
      unwanted person in the emergency department, 
acronym for Get Out of My Emergency Room

      
So many times gurneyed in by ambulance and police escort
      
“dangerous to self or others,” and too psychotic 
to cooperate or scribble consent,
      you suspect by now 
you are just a GOMER to the snickering scrubs in the ER 

      who whisk you in back with the other disruptives 

      lying in bed, waiting for “beds.”

      

When you dip paranoid into the inkwell of your purse

      extracting a paring knife more amulet than effective protection, 

      they strip-search you, then, unblinking, eyeball you all night
      
through a bulletproof plexiglass window. 

      In the morning, 15-day-papered so you can’t leave, 

      they send you ominously upstairs.



      Later, at home, the voices decree your left leg 
should go up in flames
      to atone for the evil within, 
and you listen, and you do it, you do it:
      
the searing flare of cobalt actually crackles. 

      This time you tell no one, the char too deep for pain, 

      until fear of worse trumps your fear of being taken away.
 


      This is not the story of your life. 

      It’s not the story of your life–

      but every time a hulking goon squad clamps restraints
      
around your flailing wrists and ankles, threatening 
to prosecute you
      for biting those hands that shackle you, 

      you wonder if there will be any other

    • “Mark…. I hope you will reconsider your position.”
      I can see no alternative. If person “A” threatens to kill person “B”, person “B” can complain to the police. If the police find sufficient evidence for the complaint, they can charge person “A”. Person “A” gets some kind of punishment.
      If person “A” and person “B” are the same person , a person threatening suicide, bystanders and authority can not just watch and wait for the person to kill themselves.

      Talk of suicide has to be put back in the closet where it belongs. If you talk of suicide you should get locked up. Jail-hospital interchangeable.
      People have confused the feeling of despair with the action of suicide.

      • Markps2

        You said: “Talk of suicide has to be put back in the closet where it belongs. If you talk of suicide you should get locked up.”

        I am surprised you would make such a backward statement. It is exactly this kind of thinking that leads to MORE suicide. People need to openly talk about such thoughts without judgement or threat of incarceration in a hospital.

        When people are told (or believe they need) to hide or suppress these thoughts it actually creates a GREATER probability they will carry out such an act.

        And part of “despair” is wondering if it is worth going on with life. These kind of life dilemmas need to be openly discussed with other human beings NOT denied or suppressed. And in the end we ALL have the right to decide whether or not we want to live or die.

        Richard

        • I’m with Richard, and as one who has struggled with suicidality for decades, Mark’s suggestion filled me with more despair not less. I believe part of giving people ‘agency’ includes over their own lives. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t reach out and try to help them and ease the life situation that makes someone feel like ending things, but we have no right to FORCE the person to keep living and that threat keeps people from seeking help…

        • “in the end we ALL have the right to decide whether or not we want to live or die.”
          That IS correct.
          If a person is STUPID enough to talk about suicide ( they don’t know “we ALL have the right to decide”) they should be locked up.

          Flip your statement around.
          “People need to openly talk about such thoughts without judgement or threat of incarceration in a hospital.”
          to
          “People need to openly talk about their thoughts about killing others without judgement or threat of incarceration.”
          Does it make any sense?
          http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/04/middleeast/al-qaeda-branch-yemen-united-states/index.html

          • One of the greatest things I have personally learned while my wife and I have been on this journey, is that people need a safe place to express those ‘unmentionables.’ For me, my journal is my safe place to mention all the internal rants and pain that my wife’s disorder causes me. And as I express them and give vent to them, just the act of expression itself, often helps take the emotions down a notch or two, as I give validity to the emotions without acting upon them. So, yes, teach people how to express those extreme feelings and emotions in a safe way without threat of incarceration for doing so…

          • No, it doesn’t make sense. One is a harm to oneself. The other is a harm to others. Those of us who advocate for death with dignity and legal assisted suicide can see the difference between having the agency to end your own life and committing the crime of taking someone else’s life from them (removing their agency). And honestly, it seems like a very simple concept to me.

            I agree with the others that making talk of suicide taboo increases risk of completion. Recognizing that many struggle with thoughts of ending their lives and supporting them theough those times without pathologizing them is what will decrease suicide numbers.

          • People should be able to talk about their thoughts of homicide as long as they don’t act on them or threaten to. In fact talking about it might help prevent it.

            So now people should be locked up for being stupid, you say?

  9. Ways to Report Health Insurance Fraud – http://www.wikihow.com/Report-Health-Insurance-Fraud

    Billing for treatment that is not medically necessary can constitute fraud. And for patients themselves, who are needlessly held in locked facilities, the experience can be devastating. https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosalindadams/largest-us-psychiatric-chain-faces-widening-investigation

    6 Questions You Should Ask Before Paying Any Medical Bill http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/09/08/6-questions-you-should-ask-before-paying-any-medical-bill

    A bill for an unwanted psych lockup is really just kidnapping and extortion. What a criminal scam this is when the same people deciding who is ‘sick’ and who is well are the same people making millions by keeping the beds full.

  10. Lauren — Welcome to the struggle. You are passionate and motivated, but you still have a long way to go in your understanding of the problem.

    I quote from your website: We are not anti-psychiatry, or anti-drugs. Both have their uses, and have helped many of us. We only oppose violations of patients’ human rights by the psychiatric establishment

    Why are you NOT anti-psychiatry??? Where do you get the idea the psychiatry or its poisons have ever “helped” anyone? As soon as anyone is made into a “patient” it is a violation of human rights. And these are not particularly radical statements.

    Hang out here for about a year and I bet people will disabuse you of your naivete. This is not criticism. We need people like you. But so far you have only scratched the surface of the problem. Looking forward to further communication.

    • oldhead, yes I read her website, too, and figured she was fortunate in that her stay was so very, very short. Not to minimize her experience at all, but 18 days, as horrible as it was, is just a blip compared to many of us, plus she minimized her symptoms and saw the experience itself as more a political assault (per the name of her story) and not really a mental health assault. So I’m not really sure she identifies herself as someone with ‘extreme states’ or some of the other terms that folks on this website use to explain their experiences. BUT, in the end, if she could simply put a chink in the ‘involuntary commitment’ laws that would be such a huge win for everyone! I’d love for her to stay and become more informed about the entire subject, but I believe we should link arms with as many allies as possible as long as they don’t undermine any key issues…

    • It has been SCIENTIFICALLY proven that over 30% of suicides would never have occurred if PSYCHIATRY had intervened with its magical wonder pills and brain fries!

      How do I know this is so? My PSYCHIATRIST told me himself. Dr. Quackenbush is real smart and knows everything. He told me that too!

      Stella Stockholm from Bipolarblabber (The only consumer blog formally endorsed by the APA. Highly recommended by NAMI.)

  11. Lauren, I think you’d do well to consider the level of privilege you have enjoyed – being the CEO of a successful company, owning homes in two countries – you paint this as purely political and don’t see yourself as one of the “real crazies”. I think those of us who have not enjoyed these privileges, and therefore have suffered far more extreme abuse at the hands of the psychiatric system are going to have a harder time identifying with you as you’re very much painting an ‘us vs them’ picture here. Sure you’ve taken meds and had therapy apparently but you make clear how very successful you’ve been despite these and you still seem to believe the system is helping people. I agree with oldhead and think you need to listen to the experiences of those with less class and wealth than you. I couldn’t see myself being your ally with your current beliefs as I interpret them from your article and statements in comments. Best of luck to you.

  12. This is absolutely political.

    Incrementalism is a process whereby society is slowly engineered and our rights and freedoms are slowly eroded over time so that we don’t notice it’s happening and are led to believe change is necessary on only one item and this change is not related to other changes. In the short term the changes are almost imperceptible, but look at the last 30 years.

    I remember being under 21 buying a bottle of alcohol, going to the airport and getting on the airplane with no psycho ID checks, smoking in the terminal before getting on the plane and drinking the little bottle I brought with me and going to the back of the plane to find an empty seat in the smoking section to have a cigarette.

    It was all different, people were happy not like now the airport experience now people with stressed out looks on their faces navigating through some kind of sick hybrid of a police state and a cattle farm.

    How does it work now ? Not enough seating prepare for a beating – United Airlines . Argue with a ticket agent about passport rules get hauled off to a psych torture facility like this story points out.

    Maybe a ignorant millennial that never saw the world before the incrementalism process eroded all our rights has an excuse to question whats political about this story but the rest of you should understand.

    Tell a millennial how before the mid 1980s most states driver licenses had no picture, at first they don’t believe you, how could the world possibly operate without show ID mania ? Well it did, the world was just fine. Many would argue it was better back then.

    Incrementalism.

    • All I can say is YES. When I was growing up there was nothing like road rage or suicide bombers etc. I also want to point out that we are a nation that is highly highly reliant on prescription drugs. All these drugs have side effects. We are finding only after the fact that these drugs have many many side effects. Especially psych drugs.

  13. I read ur piece with increasing credulity as i went aLONG
    U really have no interest in mad people at all
    Quite why u have been allowed on this site I don’t know.
    Your belief in the genetic eugenics biological model sitting there in ur peals god forgive u and the obsequious response from members of this forum shame on u
    really need to get over yourself and go back to whatever u did before and you multiple houses etc while the rest of us just get on with it and avoid enforced imprisonment as best we can

  14. There are seemingly millions of posts here and I am not able to read all just yet.
    Still, I am beginning to consider a very strong possibility in regards to politics, religions, psychiatry; etc.
    First, I want to say thank you to Lauren Andersen for having the strength to share her story. I am so sorry for the horror she faced. In a manner of speaking; each one of us has endured our own unique horror in the face of psychiatry and mental health.
    What I do see is that on the “left” for lack of more adequate terminology; psychiatry has become their religion. This is obvious from the way the ACLU refused or just ignored your case and other cases. On the “right” the “judgmental brand of Christianity as opposed to the Christianity of mercy” has merged with their idea of “political rightness” to in essence become like the psychiatry of the left, a new religion. Both are dangerous and oppressive. Obviously, neither side is our friend; but it would be detrimental to call them “enemies.”
    Right now, we see both sides operating, believe it or not in tandem and also against each other to attempt to control our lives.
    It has been reported that we have a terrible “opioid” epidemic killing more people per day; than many wars, etc. This is just a “tip of the iceberg.” When we confront psychiatric abuse in its many forms; including the toxic drugs; history will record those who are psychiatric survivors and others similarly situated or fighting for these cause as the heroes of the age. We will not be forgotten. We will not crawl under the desk waiting for the bombs to drop. We will stand tall and regain our natural born freedom and liberty back.

    • “What I do see is that on the “left” for lack of more adequate terminology; psychiatry has become their religion. This is obvious from the way the ACLU refused or just ignored your case and other cases. On the “right” the “judgmental brand of Christianity as opposed to the Christianity of mercy” has merged with their idea of “political rightness” to in essence become like the psychiatry of the left, a new religion. Both are dangerous and oppressive.”

      A little louder please for the folks in the back!!

      The left (most of whom I am actually to the left of, surprisingly), is so consumed fighting stigma that it can’t see the forest for the trees and can’t see how their efforts to be “born this way” is actually increasing stigma and silencing abuse victims. The right sees it as a character flaw and moral failing and so also dismisses victims of abuse and absolves themselves from helping those in need. Both “sides” are doing more harm than good.

        • Yes, It is either a character flaw and a moral failing or a terrible biochemical brain disease; stigmatized; and needing toxic drugs and therapy to maintain
          for life; (you never get better!.) But, of course, how can you already improve from who you are ; which is what both are basically trying in some way to extinguish. I believe it was the great poet; e. e. cummings and I can’t remember the exact quote who said the hardest “battle” we have is to be ourselves. The best thing I suggest and have learned the “hard way” is forget them and just be yourself. It is not a character flaw or defect to be as the Good Lord created you.

      • Speaking from the right, I find the “anti-psychiatry” churches and the pro-psychiatry have one thing in common. It’s your fault, you crazy nutter! Quit bugging us.

        Anti-Psychiatry Church Person: Shut up and quit whining! You wouldn’t be crazy/depressed if you read your Bible/prayed enough/had faith/repented of the sin you obviously have committed.

        Pro-Psychiatry Church Person: Shut up and quit whining! You wouldn’t be crazy/depressed if you just admitted you were a mentally ill degenerate and took the pills that wonderful Dr. Quackenbush prescribed. You SAY you’re taking them, but we know you’re lying. Because Dr. Quackenbush says if you were taking them you wouldn’t hear voices/have seizures/feel hopeless/want to kill yourself. He’s a medical professional and you’re a mindless monster of depravity; so anything you feel, think, or say is crazy and irrelevant.

        See what an improvement the Pro-Psychiatry movement is! 😛

        Oh, yes, the folks who kicked me out of Indiana Wesleyan University were really into the benefits of psychiatric drugs. I was too, and felt it was my own fault when these “treatments” made me worse instead of better. Just knowing the truth about these so-called “meds” made me feel relieved and less guilty somehow.

      • The left (most of whom I am actually to the left of, surprisingly), is so consumed fighting stigma that it can’t see the forest for the trees and can’t see how their efforts to be “born this way” is actually increasing stigma and silencing abuse victims.

        Hear! Anyone who thinks that “fighting stigma” is anything but a backhanded scheme to promote psychiatry is drinking the Kool-Aid for sure!

  15. I think someone posted that “spousal abuse” is “learned behavior.” It seems to remember “back in the day” in my psychology classes they taught us that a man named “Seligman” said that “depression” is also “learned behavior” as in “learned helplessness.” I realize that is only a “theory” yet it seems very easy for “psychiatry” which prides itself on being able to assist in changing “abnormal behavior” can so easily “change their tune” from possibly “learned helpless” to a “lifetime brain-biochemical imbalance” without real proof or scientific data and sell it to the “public.” “Depression” is a ridiculous label for “humans, etc.” anyway. It’s Hurricane season and the only “depression” that means anything to me is a “Tropical Depression” which is probably where they stole the word from; “meteorology.” It makes sense since psychiatry steals without any moral thought or artistic license. In my opinion, there most likely is no such thing as “depression” just varying forms of “grief” due to the changes, successes and failures of life we all must face if we are to learn anything from our time here on Earth.
    Somewhere, deep in my heart, is the unresolved appall that life, living and what not has become an “abnormality” a “disease” a “defect” and in need of drugs, treatment and therapy etc. What we need is a good-hearted person who will just tell us it is alright to feel as you feel; be as you are; etc. But, then where is the false control, the false authority; the false experts; the stigma we need to make a cause against?
    Psychiatry has become the worst possible of any religions made by humans; but I refuse to take the idols of psychiatry as my “god.”

    • “…I refuse to take the idols of psychiatry as my ‘god.'” Another good argument against pro-psych churches. Might as well set up an image of the god Psychiatry and burn incense to it on the communion table. Apparently Jesus isn’t enough to save us “mentally ill” low lifes. We need Jesus AND “meds” for salvation.

      This was meant as hyperbole, but many psych promoters claim they found “salvation” in a bottle of Prozac/Effexor/Latuda or some other mind altering drug. Yes they use that word, even those who call themselves Christian. Antibiotics like penicillin can save lives, yet no one has ever glorified them in such a fashion.

      Getting high on crack can be a pleasurable, mystical experience and help you forget your troubles (so I hear.) I have experienced such a high on Anafranil. I wondered why this “medicine” wasn’t working. Now I believe it was working too well!