The Political Abuse of Psychiatry in America – My Story


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. And please tell me if my writing has helped you; such communications give me a sense of satisfaction and make this arduous journey more bearable.


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.


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.


    • 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.”

      Report comment

  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

    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.

    Report comment

    • “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.

      Report comment

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

    MIA writer Rob Wipond reported on the John Rohrer lawsuit soon after it was filed:

    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.

    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.

    Report comment

    • Thanks, Sam. Unfortunately the statistics on cases getting to SCOTUS are very poor — like 1%. It’s a real gamble, and an expensive one at that. There are other ways of making a difference, though. Winning in the lower courts can help. So can press coverage, which I am trying to achieve. If you know how to help, please do!

      Report comment

      • Me? I’m a nobody, but if I have anything to contribute to this fight it’s how our son and I are helping my wife/his mom heal. My wife has real issues, unlike you, but we still treat her like a REAL human being worthy of respect and love and I’ve documented each day of our journey, so maybe, someday when she is ready, we can share our story…

        Report comment

      • law enforcement and FBI does this. Abuses people and drives them into psych wards, then they send their little spies into the psych wards to abuse people. They have a entire honeytrap online about it called “gangstalking” and “targeted individuals” where they feed their victims propoganda, misinformation, use NLP and hypnosis to further fuck up their mental heatlh… It has happened to me over 20 years, and ive been a VICTIM of psychatry for over 20 years. Their main targets are people who are anti authoritarian, anti establishment, usually far right. EVERYTHING YOU WILL FIND ONLINE IS PUT THERE BY THEM. every single website and youtuber that talks about “gangstalking” or “targeted individuals” is a government paid employee. And if this is happening to you, and you reach out to one of them to befriend them for support, they will abuse you. If you can say something about this lauren and expose the truth about this i would appreciate it.

        Report comment

  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.

    Report comment

      • The new Nero will approach us with the silky manners of a doctor, and though all will be in fact as compulsory as the tunica molesta or Smithfield or Tyburn, all will go on within the unemotional therapeutic sphere where words like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘freedom’ and ‘slavery’ are never heard…

        Even if the treatment is painful, even if it is life-long, even if it is fatal, that will be only a regrettable accident; the intention was purely therapeutic…

        But because they are ‘treatment, not punishment, they can be criticized only by fellow-experts and on technical grounds, never by men as men and on grounds of justice…
        C. S. Lewis, “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment”

        Report comment

  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

    Report comment

          • Me too. I also filed a complaint with my insurer in regards to the fact that the doctor called and spoke with four of my coworkers without my consent. Thus totally obliterating my job. The hospital responded saying that they have documentation of my having given consent. Why on earth would I do that? I signed nothing during my stay in the unit. The truth is that the deck is well stacked against us, which only encourages their continued abuse. Once you are caught in their web, there is nothing you can do. Like with quicksand, the more you struggle, the more you are endangered. My story is very similar to yours, published recently (Overheated, then Overtreated), also in Mad in America. The one and only thing that makes it all bearable is reading about others experiences, which serves to contradict psychiatry’s gaslighting. The truth is, as those of us with first hand experience can attest, psychiatric abuse is real, regardless of whether others without lived experience, choose to believe it or not. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps a lot.

            Report comment

  5. Thanks, Lauren, for publishing your grueling story in 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?

    Report comment

    • Hi Don.

      I didn’t say more than that in the article because it would have taken up too much of my maximum word count and distracted from the main message. I was involved in a lobbying group in DC in which the large-company members took advantage of me because I represented a small company; our values were different but they had more power. They retaliated against my business when I disagreed with their political stance. The chairman of psychiatry at Northwell is on the payroll of some of these companies, which is an egregious conflict of interest.

      The fact that I was detained ostensibly for not having a passport on me was political in and of itself. Immigration is a political hot button at the moment.

      Report comment

  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.”

    Report comment

    • 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.

      Report comment

      • Samruck2 i dunno whether your reply was to me, or to Lauren’s original story, but if to my comment, i thank you for it. So few people in Connecticut care about what happens to patients in the city hospital system or even know, but when they know they tend to react with brutal comments like, well, what were you doing that “made them react like that to you?!” Nothing gets through to people, they just blame patients automatically.

        Report comment

      • “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?”

        Your comment sums it up beautifully. In the wake of my own involuntary hospitalization, which was every bit as nonsensical as Lauren’s, I find myself asking this every day. In Lauren’s article she too finds herself burdened with the question, why? Why did they do this? I suspect the answer is far simpler than one might expect, because they can. In attempting to make sense of my own experience and dig myself out of the trauma, I turned to Viktor Frankl’s book recounting his experiences in the concentration camps. His conclusion was that that there exist two classes of ‘men,’ decent and indecent. I think that is evident in our case as well. I can’t help but see a number of parallels between his experiences and our own, at least in terms of the gross injustices perpetrated against one class of humans (the mentally ill or those suspected or even unfairly and inaccurately accused of being so), by another, in this case, medical professionals. There is definitely a powerful article there somewhere.

        Report comment

    • 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.”

      Report comment

    • Robinwren,
      That sounds absolutely blood curdling. The best defense you can have against the System’s abuses is an excellent understanding of the applicable law, in my view. I have met several shrinks in NY who don’t even understand the mental hygiene laws as well as I do, as a patient. I acquired this knowledge in studying the laws for 6 years. ( They lock people up routinely without fully understanding the law that enables them to do so, which has its limitations. So naturally they detain people who should not be detained, and it becomes profit-motivated, or driven by the thirst for power. That kind of poor training and attitude permeates the system, I’m afraid.

      Report comment

  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).

    Report comment

  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:

    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.


    Report comment

    • 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.


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

      Report comment

    • “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.

      Report comment

      • 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.


        Report comment

        • 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…

          Report comment

        • “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.”
          “People need to openly talk about their thoughts about killing others without judgement or threat of incarceration.”
          Does it make any sense?

          Report comment

          • 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…

            Report comment

          • 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.

            Report comment

          • 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?

            Report comment

  9. Ways to 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.

    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.

    Report comment

  10. Yes, in fact I added fraud as a cause of action in my case against the hospital. The legal elements of a fraud claim (at least in New York, and I believe other states are similar) are 1) the making of a statement, 2) the falsity of the statement, 3) an intent to deceive, called “scienter”, or reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity, 4) reasonable reliance on the statement by the injured party and 5) injury sustained as the result of the reliance. Injury can be either physical, mental or financial. Both the hospital Defendants and my insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, committed fraud.

    I recently received from the Defendants a so-called “financial agreement” that they signed on my behalf without my permission, authorizing them to be paid, and another form stating that UnitedHealthcare agreed to pay them for “unlimited days”, which they also signed for me, without my permission. This amounts to forgery, and is clearly fraudulent. Although I do not need this document to argue for a cause of action for fraud, I think it is nevertheless important for the Court to see this form. I never gave Defendants or anyone else permission to sign for me, and there is no power of attorney mentioned anywhere in the records. The form is dated June 13th, 2011, the day after I was admitted. It is highly unlikely that I would have agreed to sign such a form the day after I was admitted, after having realized that I had been duped and that this was not going to be just an “overnight” admission. The signature line appears to say “X Pt 939”, presumably indicating that I was a patient who had been detained under NY MHL section 9.39, and inferring that this somehow allowed them to sign for me. However, §9.39 conveys no such power on a hospital or a psychiatrist. Nowhere in the records do Defendants accuse me of being mentally incompetent to sign such an agreement. These documents had been left out of the package of records that the hospital sent me in Sept. 2011, so they covered up this critical paperwork for nearly six years.

    This technique is analogous to the notorious “card skimmers” (false fronts) that fraudsters place on the front of ATM machines to steal victims’ debit card and PIN numbers, and thereby gain access to their bank accounts. This metaphor becomes even more relevant when the hospital staff involved are not who they seem to be on the surface.

    Report comment

    • I know it is just so wrong what they do on so many different fronts.

      Before it happened to me I was just like most of the public that believed the psychiatric nightmare could never happen to me. How could it possibly happen to me ?

      No it really happened, Intake strip search lockup and told if I did not subject my body to their nerve toxins posing as medicine I would be assaulted body penetrated with needle and sent to state hospital. Forced drugging is a rape, toxins in my body changing up its internal workings, heart rate breathing, muscle control and ability to think. A side effect of many of the drugs is “death”, remember the Abilify ads, so its rape and reckless endangerment.

      At first do no harm.. Not with those quacks.

      Explaining the abuse is easy, it is an atrocity, the hard part is explaining to readers “I wasn’t crazy” and they did all this shit to me anyway. It like a cheap plot to cheap movie, sane but labeled insane but until lived it in real life I never could have imagined this atrocity astonishingly called help even existed in a civilized society.

      What ever, like many other people I will keep donating time every day to exposing psychiatric lies and abuses till whats left of their credibility is gone. They can’t survive on a lie in the age of the internet.

      Report comment

    • I used to live in California and bring my AA friends to the CCHR headquarters and psychiatry museum in Hollywood. They were very nice and never tried to recruit us or even mentioned Scientology. It was a long trip but I always had a base with friendly faces and a place to park before heading out into town. I know it is very irritating when criticism of psychiatry is labeled Scientology, it really is, but I had no reason to stay a million miles away.

      Report comment

  11. 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.

    Report comment

    • 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…

      Report comment

    • 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.)

      Report comment

  12. oldhead, I take issue with your statement. I have been in outpatient psychiatry (which I call “shrinkage”) for 20 years. So, no, I am not a newbie. However, I had never been involuntarily committed before my experience in 2011.

    I say that psychiatry and drugs have helped many people because I am one of them, and I have talked to others.

    I don’t think that tarring everyone in the mental healthcare business with the same brush helps you achieve reform. People who do that tend to come off as total radicals, and are written off by the establishment. Then they achieve nothing.

    Report comment

    • Forgive us for our assumptions, Lauren. You will find a wide spectrum of beliefs concerning psychiatry on this website though most tend toward the negative. My wife and I have no personal interaction with it, but let’s just say that our son and I have helped her thru what is considered one of the ‘worst of the worst’ disorders that many, many psychologists and psychiatrists won’t even touch…and we did it without any of the licensed professionals’ help. We did use a theophostic counselor in the beginning which you might be interested in because of your Christian background, but other than that, our son and I did what the experts say is impossible with someone who has d.i.d. Anyway, I can’t speak personally about the mental health professionals except to say they were unnecessary and our family accomplished what many of them say ‘can’t’ be done and that without any of their mind-altering ‘medicines’…

      Report comment

      • Sam,

        I do read the radically negative views, even if I don’t espouse them myself. Some unfortunate people have had wholly negative experiences with the System, and I believe that.

        I believe that the mental healthcare system has a long way to go toward ridding itself of discrimination. I read a statistic somewhere from a survey showing that psychiatrists had a more patronizing view of their patients than any other specialty. That is a bad sign. They basically think their own patients are worthless — or only worthy of paying the next bill. Nothing could be more unchristian than that. It’s the attitude I encountered at the hospital in New York.

        Report comment

    • “Radical” means getting at the root of the problem. Do you not see that the experience you describe here was made possible by your psychiatric history?

      Psychiatry is based on the ludicrous assumption that a mind can have a “disease,” and the problem is compounded by the prescribing of neurotoxins as “medicine.” I would suggest reading some material by Thomas Szasz, as well as Robert Whitaker. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

      P.S. I have totally written off the establishment & suggest you consider the same. Then and only then will we accomplish anything of lasting significance.

      Report comment

      • I have read Whitaker and Szasz. I guess we differ on the subject of whether a brain can have a disease.

        Actually, I am trying to engage the establishment, because that is the only way to achieve meaningful political change. Radicalism is the difficult path.

        Report comment

        • Actually, you don’t differ from Szasz on “whether a brain can have a disease.”
          Brain diseases exist, and they are treated in the field of neurology and standard medicine.

          Possibly you’re confusing “mind” with “brain”? Szasz says that a “mind” cannot have a disease.*
          And he’s right of course, because the mind is not physical. The brain is physical.

          Understanding just this one basic concept better, would cause an overhaul of psychiatry all by itself.

          * Neither can behaviour be a disease. But behaviour can be a symptom of a disease. It’s a distinction far more important than people realise.

          Report comment

          • Good point Stewart! The term psychiatrist means soul doctor. The term is oxymoronic. Many psychiatrists deny that souls exist–therefore this foregone conclusion PROVES all depression and psychosis must originate in the brain. As a Christian and supernaturalist I believe our souls often effect the brain as well as the reverse–along with other bodily organs.

            There are real brain diseases, like Alzheimer’s, meningitus, epilepsy, TBI and others. These can show up on brain scans and proven or disproven using scientific tests. Not just checking off arbitrary numbers of random lists of odd or bad behaviors and types of emotional pain grouped into “illnesses” that were voted into existence by rich pseudo-scientists with too much free time.

            Report comment

          • FD, playing devil’s advocate here but… as an atheist myself, I always find it curious when those of religious faith, for which there’s no good evidence to believe is real – being faith based – argue that other beliefs should be backed up with evidence. Don’t you see this as a slightly hypocritical?

            Report comment

          • KS, I will answer your legitimate question. Christianity is not a science and does not pose as a branch of medicine. If psychiatry claimed to be a faith-based religion I wouldn’t be as angry at them for lies and hypocrisy. Since psychiatry calls itself a legitimate science and branch of medicine it should be capable of passing rigorous tests to prove its accuracy. It cannot.

            I went through a period of questioning my faith as a teenager. Then I came across the discipline of apologetics. This is NOT a scientific branch of knowledge. Rather a hybrid of philosophy/theology with rhetoric thrown in. There are other fields of human knowledge than science and these can be applied to religion and other moral philosophy. Ultimately I decided that the Bible was true after all. It hasn’t made my life happier, exactly. But it has given me a sense of purpose, set necessary boundaries on my bad behaviors and kept me from suicide when psychiatry could not. I have also fallen madly in love with my one true Soul-Mate…but this isn’t the time or place for it.

            Report comment

          • Stewart,

            Yes, I agree it’s a disease of the brain, not the mind. So I find terms like “the New York Office of Mental Hygiene” offensive. It makes itself sound like it’s there to clean up dirty minds.

            The psychiatric establishment doesn’t want the world to know that their business is the biggest con game since slavery, and that you can spend years pouring your heart out to a shrink, paying $250 an hour, only to find that she has taken detailed notes on your most intimate secrets so that she can use them to embarrass you in case you ever sue one of her shrink pals, and that the lawyers and judges will allow them to do that. Even if you’d never been dangerous, and there’s nothing very controversial in the narrative. (Yes, my own shrinks have done exactly that. It’s disgusting.) Who would ever trust a mental healthcare provider of any kind, again? I won’t.

            It’s egregiously unchristian and unethical behavior, but who cares about that in psychiatry? It’s all about the money.

            I hope patients will think twice about what they say to their shrink, after they read my case. I’d advise them to say the least they can possibly say to get their prescriptions. Or make the shrink sign a document saying that they will write down the minimum necessary to treat you, and will never release it under any circumstances.

            Report comment

          • I just re-read my last comment and realized that it conflicts with my warning on June 14th about “tarring everyone in the mental healthcare business with the same brush”. I don’t want to be inconsistent, so this requires further explanation. Yes, I’m critical of the entire industry, but I think it’s fixable. However, it is in dire straits at the present time — rooted in the 19th century, and riddled with unconscionable practices like human trafficking in the guise of “treatments”. It will take a lot of attention and investment to fix this mess.

            Report comment

      • Depends on how you define “establishment.” Alienating the MI Establishment? I doubt any MIA regulars are scoring points with them or even care.

        As far as the societal establishment surrounding us, yes it may be necessary not to alienate them. But the only way we can end discrimination (aka stigma) is to thoroughly discredit the shrinks who caused it. Once the public quits believing the defamatory lies and fear-mongering tactics of those pseudo-scientists the battle against “stigma” will be more than half won.


        Report comment

  13. 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.

    Report comment

    • Kindredspirit, I don’t know what you mean by “real crazies”. Did you see my comment above that I have been in outpatient psychiatry (which I call “shrinkage”) for 20 years? I have never been violent, and that is what I see as the distinction. It’s not about social class. Mental illness does not discriminate; it strikes whoever it wants to strike, often the most vulnerable people in society. In many cases, it’s genetically inherited, but people who have hereditary MI get unfairly blamed for symptoms that are wired into their genes.

      Bearing in mind that I was limited to 2500 words, please understand that I am criticizing not only political abuse of psychiatry, but also the practices that the “system” uses on many patients — even when it’s not a political matter.

      Report comment

      • Respectfully, Lauren, you are coming from a ‘biomedical model’ of mental health issues but speaking to a group that promotes a more trauma-based model… Unlike KindredSpirit, I think you would be a GREAT ally! However, again respectfully, it appears you don’t understand the chasm of difference between those 2 models and until you educate yourself, you will find some deaf ears…Again, if I am wrong about your understanding of the larger issue, please forgive me….

        Report comment

      • We disagree fundamentally on mental illness being genetically inherited for one thing. We also disagree on people being helped by medications. I believe the latest research states that 80% of the effect of antidepressant medications is directly attributable to the placebo effect. Antipsychotic medications reduce quality and length of life. I think you’d do well to educate yourself on terms like the ‘number needed to treat’ or NNT compared to the number who experience either positive effects or negative side effects of so-called psychiatric ‘medications’. There is an abundance of information on this site, indeed in the namesake book, on these concepts, which you seem to have missed.

        I also believe your story sounds quite entitled. I think most of us without your level of class and wealth privilege understand that we can’t make threats to airline employees with impugnity. For one thing because the media couldn’t give two sh|ts about those of us without social standing. The only time the poor and underprivileged become newsworthy is to gawk at us or to speak on our behalf.

        I am a social activist, a BLM activist, a queer person, have lived most of my life in poverty, and I’m a news junkie. Being informed on how these issues intersect, I can’t help but wonder how much worse the consequences would have been had it been a black man or a woman wearing a headscarf who did what you did.

        I agree that you were harmed by the system. However, what I read was simultaneously a critique and a defense.

        Report comment

        • Please don’t take this personally. I don’t know you and I’m sure you’re a perfectly nice person. (And I’ve never been accused of being particularly diplomatic.) But we do seem to fundamentally disagree on some basic concepts as related to mental wellbeing and the system as it treats different classes of folks.

          Report comment

  14. Actually, I believe in both genetically-inherited and trauma-related mental illness. Both have happened to me. No, I don’t see myself as a “real crazy” if that means being violent, because I never have been. I have been provoked far more than most other human beings have, and I still didn’t become violent.

    “I think most of us without your level of class and wealth privilege understand that we can’t make threats to airline employees with impugnity.” — That makes it sound like I was threatening to punch British Airways staff, which is false. I was only trying to quietly exercise my right to freedom of speech. Anybody should be able to do that.

    I mentioned my privileged background to make the point that this kind of thing can happen to anybody. Psychiatric abuse is not reserved for underprivileged people — it also gets dished out to those who challenge “the System”, as I did. Would this have happened if I hadn’t threatened to call the media to the scene at the airport? I don’t think so. Maybe some more privileged people will speak up as a result of my case and take notice, then we might see some real change. I hope so.

    Report comment

    • Lauren

      First off, I’m sorry you had to go through this ordeal. It was a hard article to read but a familiar story unfortunately.

      Although you are right in the fact that you are part of the upper class and can prove it can happen to everyone, there is a problem with the information that you have been fed over the years. There are two theories that have been sold to the public that have no scientific backing. One is the chemical imbalance regarding a connection between serotonin and depression and also, dopamine and psychosis which there is no significant correlation. Drugs are the only solution and since drugs do one thing, like a faucet, it turns on a chemical or shuts it off, that’s all it does. And since say serotonin takes care of fight or flight response, sleep regulation, sexual functions and half a dozen other jobs, you’re introducing havoc into the system. It’s like trying to use a spoon to do heart surgery. Is it possible; anything is possible. Is it probable; well, no. What you felt is called medication spellbinding and the placebo effect. You might want to check out Irving Kirsch’s work.

      The other is the genetic predisposition, which has about the same probability. They have not identified it and one researcher said there is no possible way it will ever be identified and that was from the Boston Globe. There are over 2000 possibilities from another source, which is like playing a nine figure lottery 40 times over with one ticket. The equivalent probabilities would be astronomical. These are the two stories that are marketed to the general public which do not have any proof given the rules of the scientific method. In fact, they have formulated what is called the “Psychology and Psychiatry Scientific Method” rules. The problem with this method is that no theory can ever be disproved. The guidelines are too vague.

      You might want to stick around and educate yourself. I would start first with Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic and then look at Peter Breggin’s Medication Madness. They have no medical basis for doing what they do, and that fuels the narrative they demand to be supported by the court system. If you expose the truth, then the system becomes powerless. And please know that these drugs they sell are highly toxic, highly addictive and only lead to more diagnosis as you ascend the psychiatrist’s label pyramid.

      I wish you all the luck with your endeavor and do hope you stick around to offer your perspective on things.

      Report comment

    • Lauren

      We have a lot in common though I am a 64 yo male. First I want to say how upset I am for what happened to you. I think a lot is the result of the present political climate and the effect it is having on people similar to what the cat is saying about flying. I feel the world is spinning out of control. I also think some of it is from the unknown but now becoming clear of the side effects of meds including psych meds. I find it absurd that Abilify which is the 2nd top grossing med in the US and is an antipsychotic. Also the US and New Zealand are the only 2 countries that allow direct to consumer marketing of meds esp on TV. Second I too am from the privileged class and also a long term user of psych services. Even longer than you. I have always believed in the biomedical model and in fact have a PhD in physiological psychology. I too feel I have been helped by meds and also have a traumatic history and believed in a genetic basis for mental problems. I have been hospitalized in CT at the IOL 5 times following a 13 yr high level job in business where I flew extensively. I have been in psych treatment though on and off most of my life and have always struggled. I never broke any laws and never abused any drugs and was a model citizen. Now I live in constant fear and won’t fly or even drive. I am afraid of police. I have begun to question the biomedical model that I clung to based on some of what I have researched. I believe Kirsch’s work about placebos and Whitaker’s work have some credibility though I think Breggin’s work is way extreme and off base. I consider myself an unbiased scientist who has spent his whole life doing research. Even Whitaker does not claim he is absolutely correct and is open to debating his views and research. I did extensive work for the dept of mental health in Ct. and one extensive study I worked on showed that the most important predictor of how people with emotional problems do after looking at drugs and support and a whole bunch of other variables is support systems. My feeling now is that lifestyle and trauma and how one reacts to that trauma either becoming stronger, a victim or a perpetrator based on inherited temperament and learned and chosen behaviors as well as level of self esteem and degree of faith in something beyond yourself and taking personal responsibility for ones actions no matter what determines the outcome. For all situations no matter how horrendous I think we have 3 choices. We can either change the situation or ourselves, leave the situation if we can or radically accept the situation. I have seen people who were in horrendous relationships stick with them and after yrs the other person changed and the relationship worked. It is simply not black and white as people on this post propose it to be. There are people who have grown up under the most oppressive traumatic conditions and have gone on to achieve amazing things. For example Bruno Mars and then others from very privileged backgrounds and great educations and wealth who have grown up to be failures or tyrants or worse. This website tends to paint everything negative based on the people’s experiences which I am not negating at all but that is what this website attracts and it is not the whole world and it is not simple. I feel for myself I have to take responsibility for the fact that I am in the situation I am in. I was not treated badly by the staff or police at the IOL though I was extremely traumatized by the situation and other patients. I got involved in psychiatry and psychology at a very early age and for a long time did ok without drugs or therapy. But when I got into trouble felt they or others would rescue me and for the most part they were good people but I just didn’t listen thought I knew better and didn’t do the difficult things they wanted me to do. Best of luck to you.

      Report comment

      • HSN, you have a great point. Right now I find myself tempted to wallow in self pity and see myself as a victim. Yes, I have been lied to, but I was all too ready to believe psychiatry’s lies. Why? They absolved me of my own bad choices and habits. Unfortunately, they also encouraged me to not change behaviors that were hurting others and myself.

        Report comment

          • I think that one of the most toxic things the MH system does is that by involuntarily committing an individual, and abusing him, it creates an enemy of the system. It creates a potentially dangerous person from someone who otherwise would probably have been harmless. The system didn’t do that to me, but I have talked to others who have felt that way. It is in that way that terrorists are born.

            It also creates dependents — people who are unable to snap out of their victimhood after being abused by the system. Unfortunately, it is financially incentivized to do that, which is why readmission rates are so high.

            Report comment

          • Hi, Lauren,

            It’s important to remember, I believe, that it’s not just a matter of creating dependency – psychiatric treatment can and often does make clients WORSE and psychiatrists deny this, and it also creates massive health issues that kill clients 25 years sooner (in the case of those taking antipsychotics) than the general population. Further, it creates a lack of trust in ANY helping person, which creates further isolation from potential help from any source.

            I assume you have read Anatomy of an Epidemic? If so, you will realize that these “treatments” on the average make a bad situation worse in the long run, even if they may temporarily provide a respite in the short run. I believe the evidence is pretty clear that the only real utility of these drugs is for the short-term reduction of undesired feelings or difficult behavior (and I am talking from the CLIENT’S viewpoint, not difficult or undesired by others, which is the usual standard), and the long-term use of these drugs should be avoided in any way possible.

            Would be interested in your take on these issues. Thanks for being so available to talk about your views and experiences!

            — Steve

            Report comment

          • Steve McCrea,
            Yes I agree, but you have to be careful not to confuse correlation with causation in some of these studies. There are good arguments for a capitated model of reimbursement in mental healthcare, instead of fee-for-service. Hospitals are talking about it but really aren’t doing it yet. There’s too much inertia. Drug companies and pharmacies also make more money with a model in which they get paid per pill rather than per patient. I would like to see more empowerment of the patient, and product and services that encourage patient self-care could help. That should include complementary and alternative therapies.

            Report comment

          • Can you elaborate on the correlation/causation comment? It appears to me that Whitaker’s summation of the evidence pretty clearly shows more than correlation, though I think it’s fair to say that further study is needed. I agree 100% that incentives drive what care is provided, but a pretty radical rethinking of the current model (beyond mere capitation) would have to happen for psychiatry to get itself back under control. It is a highly corrupt field, as you yourself have experienced.

            Report comment

          • “..often does make clients WORSE ..”

            It does.The drugs disable the brain and also the complete person. More and more drugs then kill the person 25 years before their time.

            (Whereas responsible not drug help can bring about full recovery)

            Report comment

          • Steve,

            I wasn’t criticizing Whitaker at all; I think he’s an excellent writer. I mentioned correlation/causation because in reading studies on effectiveness of psychiatric “treatments” on PubMed and Medscape, I find that many researchers have not sufficiently demonstrated causation.

            The main problems that I have discovered exist in mental healthcare, include — inter alia — poor regulatory and law enforcement oversight, political abuse of psych detention, violence against non-dangerous patients, bad conditions in wards, forced drugging, stripping, retaliatory conduct by staff, improper use of enhanced interrogation techniques and induced regression, use of doubles/covers as staff, improper use of restraints and seclusion, unlawful confiscation of patients’ belongings, inappropriate surveillance, misuse and hacking of Electronic Medical Records, defamation, lack of privacy, misuse of patients’ confidential health information, misuse of FBI’s NICS database to eliminate due process, lack of transparency & accountability, inconsistent regulations from state to state, waiting lists, lack of legal advice and hearings, poor training and management of hospital staff, insufficient budgets, poor system-wide allocation of resources, discrimination, stigmatization, lack of support for self-care, conflicts of interest, predation, malingering, too many mentally ill people held in the criminal justice system, scamming by hospitals and various other ”carers”, high readmission rates, false claims, and doing all of this in the name of “charity”. Do you have anything to add to that list?

            I would like to see a national watch list of worst offenders in mental healthcare. This is a backstop in case the state fails to discipline offending “carers” and hospitals, as New York State and City failed to do in my case.

            I would like to see large scale investment in empowering patients and treating them with dignity, through (inter alia) complementary and alternative therapies, better staff training, patient self-care, integrated care, minimized waiting lists, and helping patients to be independent to the extent possible.

            Report comment

          • Well, I certainly can’t argue that all of that abuse and disrespect and injustice isn’t a big contributor to suicide rates and serious health problems! And I very much appreciate your attending to these very important issues that almost never get mentioned by any writers.

            That being said, it seems very hard to deny that drugs which induce diabetes and heart disease, and as many report, create a stronger urge to smoke cigarettes as a means to minimize side effects, are not HUGELY contributing to a 25-year earlier death rate. And in truth, I regard it as the responsibility of the pharmaceutical industry or mental health industry to show that these are NOT causally related, as safety should be the primary concern with any form of “treatment.”

            In any case, whether the drugs or the surrounding environment of disrespect and injustice are more important factors, it seems very clear that spending time in the hands of the “mental health” industry is currently hazardous to one’s health.

            Report comment

    • You don’t have to be violent to be labeled “severely mentally ill.” Many of us here can attest to this. I doubt you were on a “cocktail” or you would have to sleep 12 hours a day; no CEO could get away with that.

      Let me guess. You were labeled with “severe depression” right? That’s a nice, soft MI label. See your therapist once a month and pop some SSRI’s. Most of us here have not faired so well. My SSRI kept me awake for 21 days in a row, made me loonier than Minnesota, and basically ruined my life (with some help from the liars in the pharma-psychiatric industry.) I started out with hopes of becoming a children’s librarian and wound up settling for a career as guinea pig for the psych establishment. 🙁

      Report comment

      • Actually no, they called me “bipolar 1”, which is baloney. I had never been called bipolar in 20 yrs, then all of a sudden these junior doctors who have known me a couple of hours instantly label me as bipolar. What a load of codswallop.

        “loonier than minnesota” is great. I’ll have to remember that one, especially since united healthcare is based there.

        Report comment

  15. 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.


    Report comment

    • 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.

      Report comment

  16. 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

    Report comment

        • Great point about the genes, RFTS! They may exist, but they have not been found. And psychiatrists have been searching for a long time.

          “Severe depression.” Just like I thought.

          Personally I find the “people like you” to smack of condescension, though MadMother13’s comment was rude. I remember a certain politician alienated African-american voters when he referred to them as “you people.”

          A lot of the MIA crowd are angry at you, Lauren, because you have had it easier than the rest of us. This is unfair and envy is wrong. But if you really wish to advocate for a group of people you can’t come across as looking down your nose at them.

          Robert Whitaker and other people without psych labels are loved and accepted by this movement because they address us respectfully as equals. If we wanted to be patronized and told “you don’t know what’s good for you, but we ‘experts’ do!” we could always join NAMI, DBSA or one of those other “consumer” organizations that speak out so boldly in favor of the status quo.

          That said, thank you for the legal counsel you are offering. It is better than nothing.

          Report comment

          • Leave the hypersensitivity behind, please. By “people like you” I meant patients. Myself included.

            “A lot of the MIA crowd are angry at you” – really, for whom are you speaking? Was there a vote?

            I only look down my nose when MIA stands for “Missing in Action”. Those long term MI patients who whine and moan about their situation, but can’t be bothered to help by returning a phone call, or signing a petition for me, or getting their medical records, or writing to the state office of mental health to request an investigation. I can’t be bothered to help people who refuse to help themselves, unless they can passively absorb my writing. There are thousands of patients who could benefit from my help but I’m only motivated to assist the ones who cooperate.

            Report comment

          • Thank you for clarifying your statement, Lauren. Yes, we are hypersensitive. This is a common problem with existing at the nethermost rung of society.

            I am very good at catching slights and slurs. That good old three-fingered handshake! Sometimes I imagine these when none are intended. But I doubt I’d be imagining them if they did not frequently occur.

            I’ll sign your petition. Good luck on your legal case!

            Report comment

          • I’m not hypersensitive. Also, those were some interesting edits, that “people like you” were “MI people”. That you include yourself doesn’t change it being offensive.

            It’s funny you use the same tactics that those working in the mental healthcare system do, the “I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself” trope is how they bully people into treatment.

            Report comment

        • oldhead, I’m not sure why you say I’m discrediting myself. You don’t believe in a genetic basis for mental illness? If you have several generations of people with depression in your family, like I do, there’s a pretty good chance it’s genetic. The recent research is pointing in that direction too.

          kindredspirit, I can’t have a debate with you if you keep throwing me on your pile of “baddies” and slamming the door.

          Report comment

          • I don’t “believe in” mental illness period. Maybe your family is in the habit of cultivating a sense of hopelessness or internalized self-loathing and passing the same patterns on to the next generation, or of interpreting any “negative” emotion as “depression,” or a million other things. All psychiatric research is flawed in its assumptions.

            Report comment

          • Lauren,
            I am sorry for all the crap that is getting thrown at you.

            As a Christian you might consider that your depression isn’t so much genetic as learned behavior: the ‘sins’ of the father being passed down to the 3rd and 4th generation kind of thing…not to say MH stuff is a ‘sin’ but just to say that it definitely can be learned or better coping skills ‘not learned’. I remember when I first started helping my wife heal, I told myself that I was going to BREAK the issues in her life that had come down from her parents.


            Report comment

          • We’re not having a debate because you keep attempting to silence my criticism. Yes, I find your attitude classist. At this point, I also see your position on psychiatry as grossly misinformed, as Oldhead and FD pointed out. I too bought into the idea for a long time that there was a genetic basis for my depression. I know better now so I’m interested in what genes you have for depression. I’ve had my genome sequenced so I know what genes I have an don’t have – to a limited extent as the commercial service is not a whole genome sequencing. I found it interesting that out of the hundreds of candidate genes that have been theorized to be associated with my diagnosis, I had only a few, and that I had many times more that number associated with autism, which researchers are desperately trying to ferret out so they can eradicate people like me. I also have several genes indicating that I should not take SSRIs. I have a gene that indicates I should have high levels of neurotransmitters in my brain. I have a mixed version of the warrior gene – one warrior, one non-warrior. I like to imagine them sword dueling in my hippocampus. It amuses me to think of all this genetic determination because it reminds me how easily it changes the argument away from one based on life experiences of the person in distress to simply being an illness they have no control over.

            I’m also somewhat versed in epigenetics and so I understand that these few genes are unlikely to play a large part in the overall picture of hundreds of thousands of genes interacting with each other and my environment.

            I don’t see you as a “baddie”, but I do see you as a reformer of the worst type – the kind that desperately wants help from the mental health system because you think you’re ill. You just don’t want the help that the system provides because when it views you as ill, it says rightly that you lack insight. The abuses that the system doles out is precisely due to the attitude that mentally ill people are dangerous and predetermined to act in certain ways due to their genetics. You’re happy to embrace the victimhood of genetic predetermination but unhappy with the victimhood of the “sane” folks treating your illness. It’s hypocritical.

            And I have to wonder if you’ve even read the book Mad In America, given it is the basis for this website. You’d learn why some of us are pushing back on your flimsy arguments.

            Report comment

          • LaurenAnderson,

            FeelinDiscouraged had sort of used my question as ammo for his/her own statement, which it was not meant to be (however, I agree with FD’s latest post).

            Since you said you have a gene for depression, I asked you outright to name what the gene is.

            You have mentioned the genetic basis of mental illness. Leaving aside the semantics of “‘mental illness’ does not exist” (however I would say that “mental illness” is a horribly truth obfuscating term), I would presume that by mental illness, you are talking of a human being as experiencing one or more of the following: depression, anxiety, delusions, mania etc. These are more straightforward terms than “mental illness”.

            From your later posts, I can presume that you have no particular gene for depression but that you think it has a genetic basis because many people in your family have been depressed at some point.

            I (like 99.9% of people on this planet) have the genes required to feel physical pain. But I do not experience it for no reason. I experience it if I am hurt, if someone hits me, if I stub a toe, put my fingers on a burning hot cup of coffee etc.

            Since human beings are biological creatures, everything we feel or do has some trivial relation to our genes because we would not exist without genes. But that is irrelevant in real life psychiatric practice. No psychiatrist or mental health worker will ever do genetic tests or a brain scan in real life practice, which in anyway will be useful to a patient.

            You will find opposition for the “genetic basis of mental illness” here because that notion is commonly used for disease mongering, coercion, infantilisation etc. despite having no testable proof in a specific individual except “family history”. However, “depression” (or DSM labels like “bipolar disorder” etc) is not a family history. A family history is a family history. That is, the descriptive life of the people in your family and the reasons for why people in your family felt depressed. We do not know the reasons why or what happened to them, except your statement that they were so. If you wish to talk of the biological basis for depression, we may as well speak of the biological basis of laughing, crying, eating, pooping etc. So, it is rather pointless to even go there.

            Also, family histories can be altered by psychiatric drugs themselves. There was never any history in my maternal family of “bipolar disorder” until that diagnosis was iatrogenically created in my aunt, when SSRIs which were prescribed to her for depression, caused mania.

            One is more concerned with the reality of everyday practice than the mental masturbation of hypotheses and the usual nature-nurture argument.

            And much like, FeelinDiscouraged has pointed out, I too relate to the scientistic thinking of my younger days, of constantly thinking of my thoughts and feelings through the prism of biology (something which psychiatric disease-mongering and also the pro-psychiatry sites on the internet foster). That crap just prevents a person from ever reaching their full potential, on the basis of poor evidence in that specific individual.

            Report comment

          • This is a really important point:

            “Also, family histories can be altered by psychiatric drugs themselves. There was never any history in my maternal family of “bipolar disorder” until that diagnosis was iatrogenically created in my aunt, when SSRIs which were prescribed to her for depression, caused mania.”

            There was no history of mental illness in my family until my dad was put on Prozac off label in 1988 for weight control. Then when he would act crazy if he forgot to take it, the doctor decided he had bipolar. His history was used as proof of genetic basis for my “illness” and his and mine combined have been used against both of my daughters as proof of genetic basis. In both cases, mine and my father’s the illness was caused by the drugs themselves. Now my dad was a real piece of work, but to my knowledge, nobody has tried to say that child molestation and beating your family members is genetically based. We rightly tell those folks to get a grip on their bad behavior or go to jail. Somehow depression is different though because it creates a victimhood that pharma has used very adeptly to push their drugs.

            Report comment

          • The biological argument and “family history” argument is also frequently used to abuse people.

            In my life, I, since childhood (and even now) was constantly held to be insane and gaslighted by my horribly abusive biological father (who is also a surgeon, and who also uses his medical credentials to give authority to his arguments), because of this “family history of aunt” (the truth of which he knows nothing about).

            For the longest time, I internalised the biological argument, even being very pro-psychiatry at a point in time, talking about “X&Y brain structures being involved in depression, obsessional thoughts”, “neurotransmitter abnormalities”, yada yada. The Charlie Rose Brain Series, medical lectures on psychiatry…seen a lot of it.

            The biological argument and family history has also been used to invalidate the abuse meted out to me, because it can easily be covered up with “this boy is behaving this way because he has bad genes”. This was done more directly by my father (with ill-intentions), and less directly by psychiatry (with good intentions).

            PS: In my earlier comment, it was kindred’s post I agreed with, not FD’s. It was a reading error on my part. Also in the part where I write “Much like FeelinDiscouraged…”, I actually mean kindred not FD.

            Report comment

          • Wife-beating runs in some families. Some personality types may be genetically related that can lead to wife abuse. Environment is also involved along with personal choices.

            I have always been high on the neurosis spectrum. This makes me susceptible to bouts of extreme prolonged sadness since I was seven.

            I have found out there are positive traits to extreme susceptibility to negative emotions. Thoughtfulness, depth, empathy with others’ pain….

            I tried to kill this part of me with SSRI’s. Unfortunately this did not normalize me. All it did was numb the positive side to my neurosis. And I was too tired and apathetic to do much of anything.

            I happen to have really light skin. Some ivory foundation is too dark for me. My BFFL has really dark skin because of her African heritage.

            My light skin helps me absorb more vitamins from less sunlight than my friend’s does. It also makes me susceptible to sunburns and skin cancer.

            My friend’s dark skin helps ward off excessive sunlight, though it keeps her from absorbing Vitamin D as efficiently.

            Who has the “right” complexion? Do I have some genetic skin disease that can only be corrected by excessive hours in tanning parlors or baking under the sun?

            Does my friend need to correct her “diseased” complexion with sand blasting or applying dangerous chemicals to her skin to make her “normal?”

            How about neither of the above?

            Report comment

          • FD, with all due respect, wife beating is learned behavior. When a family therapist told my father in a group session that what he was doing was illegal and could result in criminal charges that would lead to a revocation of his government security clearance, he stopped that particular behavior almost entirely. He still had occasional inappropriate things he did. But it really was like a switch being flipped. He was perfectly capable of controlling himself, he simply believed in a version of the Bible that advocated for controlling your family with beatings, that women and children were the husband/father’s property.

            Report comment

          • I am afraid I can’t agree with the idea of a genetic basis for “mental illness.” So far, the best correlation that has been found explains about 15% of cases of a range of “mental disorders” as described in the DSM, and this was a set of over a hundred genetic markers and was the most optimistic interpretation possible from the data. On the other hand, well over 80% of those diagnosed with “schizophrenia,” the most “genetically linked” of “disorders,” report histories of abuse and trauma. So it’s pretty clear that environment is MUCH more important than genetics in explaining “mental illness.”

            Beyond this, there may be genetic patterns that leave one more vulnerable to stress, but such patterns might also make one more sensitive to others’ feelings or more capable of bringing people together socially. Genetic diversity is the key to species survival, and we need people with a wide range of genetic presentations in order to succeed as a society. Arbitrarily defining certain emotional or behavioral responses as “disorders” denies both the importance of genetic variety and the fact that such responses are almost always related to unresolved stress, much of which comes from the bizarre expectations put on us by this bizarre society we live in and for which we have not had time to evolutionarily adapt.

            Report comment

          • KindredSpirit, yes spouse abuse is learned behavior, though some people have been able to break the cycle (personal accountability.) Some genetic traits indirectly linked to cruelty and violence can also be used for good behaviors though. A passionate love for beauty for example. Or being able to take risks as a police officer or fire fighter. Genes are morally neutral.

            Psychiatry, from what I can tell, teaches some of us are born “mentally ill” or completely irrational to the point of murdering for the joy of it and lacking any moral compass. I object to this view strongly!

            Report comment

          • What recent research are you pointing to that states that depression is genetic in families? We could say that the social experience in some families causes problems and it can be perpetuated down through generations. I’ve not heard of any valid research that states that depression is genetic. And depression is not a disease or an illness, by the way.

            Report comment

    • The thinking behind their misconduct is so ridiculous, isn’t it? You have to wonder what they talk about in their staff meetings. “Let’s treat the patient with drugging, stripping, bait-and-switch techniques, assaults, loud noises, mockery, intimidation, harassment, unpatterned and nonsensical “questioning” sessions, ignored attempts at cooperation, disruption of sleep cycles, deprivation of human essentials (e.g. food, water, sleep, clothing, fresh air, corrective lenses, contact with loved ones), and threats of violence and other punishment… and then surely he’ll feel so much better.”

      Report comment

  17. 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.

    Report comment

    • “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.

      Report comment

        • 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.

          Report comment

      • 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.

        Report comment

      • 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!

        Report comment

  18. 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.”

    Report comment

    • “…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!

      Report comment

  19. I hadn’t seen this before. I read the whole article and wasn’t surprised at the “treatment” you got, Laurie. What hit home was the bit about being a whistleblower. Then, suddenly, all came clear to me.

    I never knew why I had been abused myself, horrendously, called suicidal when I wasn’t, threatened, physically abused, sneered at, all sorts of emotional abuse including eye-rolling and claims that I was psychotic, theft, called a liar, given drugs that would have killed me, and had my apartment illegally searched (I found out upon my release!).

    I never knew why on earth this happened until I got my records. The suicidal claim was lame indeed. There was no evidence that I was suicidal and as I read my records, they’d already evaluated me and determined I wasn’t.

    What I learned was that at the administrative level, they didn’t truly believe I was suicidal nor did they believe I was psychotic. Their aim was to incarcerate me and drug me until I could no longer write.

    It was my whistleblowing activities that concerned them. This was the threat, not any danger to self. At the admin level they knew this, though they told their lower-paid workers I was very very dangerous indeed. They told the workers not to leave me, to remain within three feet of me at all times.

    The object was to have me moved from the medical ward to a psych ward where I would be kept a long time and further abused. Thankfully, they were too lazy to engineer the move themselves and had an outside agency from Boston do the evaluating. It was obvious to these young crisis workers that enough harm had been done and they petitioned for my release.

    This happened in Massachusetts and I have spoken to the legislators also. I also put in a complaint about my outside psychiatrist who was the one who saw to it that I was seen as a danger. There were other complaints I wrote up against her also. I have not gotten a response.

    I will check out your site and thank you for everything you do.

    Report comment

  20. Hi, thank you for sharing your story. I relate to it as I was also involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital (in Westchester, NY) and am a victim of psychiatric abuse as well. I had a legal problem with a former employer that ended up involving my former psychiatrist (long story short: my employer found out that I lied in the pre-employement physical and asked my psychiatrist to provide them with my diagnosis, which a psychiatrist cannot do due to HIPPA regulations). In a desperate attempt to cover his ass and terminate my case, he claimed that I was psychotic for believing that I had a husband (I was in the process of getting a divorce- separated for 2 years, but still legally married at the time) and made me be involuntarily committed to the psychiatric hospital. He obviously also probably told the hospital that I was a danger to myself or others, which is UNTRUE. At the hospital, I told the staff about my psychiatrist’s mistake of claiming that I didn’t have a husband and told them about my legal problem. My husband then visited me at the hospital . What happened next was surreal to me. The staff was afraid of being involved in the legal problem or being sued. They forced me to take large amounts of antipsychotic drugs that caused abnormally low blood pressure to the point of passing out and having to spend the night in a near by hospital . I remember being on very scary drugs (they never told me the name of these meds) that made me extremely agitated and thirsty throughout the day. I don’t have time to describe everything that I went through in that place, but MANIPULATION, BULLYING and EMOTIONAL ABUSE describe what happened to me. I spent 3 weeks trying to figure out how to leave that horrible place. After playing their sick mind games for 3 weeks, they finally discharged me. I never thought that I would be so traumatized by a mental health setting. Regarding my former psychiatrist, he left the institute where he used to practice and the institute refused to take my case back (I was also in therapy there) claiming that a DBT- Dialetical Behavioral Therapy- institute was more appropriate for my case. Well, they got what they wanted: terminated my case in an extremely unethical and unprofessional way. And here I am, trying to cope with the painful trauma of psychiatric abuse.

    Report comment

    • GMI,
      I’m sorry to hear about this horrible scenario. I believe that psych ward staff do a lot of retaliatory behavior; they certainly did in my case. They even mentioned in the records that I was threatening litigation, and it is obvious that they were doing their utmost to provoke me in order to retroactively justify their bad decisions. I, too, was overdosed with psychotropic drugs (Seroquel). I didn’t know anything about DBT, but I looked it up and it doesn’t seem like a game-changer.

      If I were you, I would get my clinical records, and write a formal letter of complaint to OMH (NYS Office of Mental Health) and OPMC (NYS Office of Professional Medical Conduct). Follow up on it, because they are experts at deliberate indifference.

      Report comment

  21. Hi Lauren, wow, thank you for your story. I’ve a similar horror story @ It’s proven. I’m seeking legal assistance. Advice from you would be greatly appreciated. I hope you are faring ok these days. Regards…

    Report comment