When ‘For Your Own Good’ Actually Means ‘For My Own Good’

Sera Davidow
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“Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive…  The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – CS Lewis

I’ve used the above ‘for your own good’ (FYOG) quote before (and probably will again), but not usually with the second sentence. Yet, that second sentence is kind of where it’s at. It tells us the why of it all: Providers, family, and so many others justify the harms they cause by getting drunk on their own sense of righteousness. They are able to block out our protests because they know better than we do what needs to be done, and it lets them sleep at night… Even if we are left lying awake as a result.

The Many Shades of FYOG

Frog with FYOG on its chest standing for "For Your Own Good"Perhaps I sound a tad melodramatic, but this is the sort of attitude that can chip away at one’s soul. Ultimately, FYOG takes many shapes:

“Why are you locking me up when I want to be free?”

“For your own good.”

“Why are you fighting with me over showering, without even asking me why I won’t?”

“For your own good.”

“Why are you slamming me down on the ground and restraining me, when it’s you I’m trying to escape?”

“For your own good.”

“Why are you forcing me to take these drugs that I’m pretty sure are killing me?”

“For your own good.”

“And, why are you forcing me to NOT take these other drugs that I at least enjoy?”

“For your own good.”

Some of the bravest providers I know will at least admit out loud that they aren’t doing those things “for our own good,” so much as because they don’t know what on earth else to do. I’ve heard clinicians say, “I used to tell people I was signing their commitment papers ‘for their own good’, but now I’m honest and tell them I just don’t know what else to do… because I want them to be alive tomorrow so we can figure out the right next steps together, and I’m afraid they might not be if I don’t do something now.” Those clinicians who say that (and genuinely mean it) are among the best of the bunch, and I can at least continue to be in conversation with them.

Not wanting people to die or get hurt is very human, and the desperate measures we may take to keep people tethered to this world are often understandable even if not entirely justifiable (especially as “treatment”). More importantly, so much of what is wrong with these systems we exist within is the imbalance of power, and part of how that plays out is for those systems to claim they hold coveted knowledge. So, when someone who is in a power role in that system finally says, “I just don’t know” it represents a crucial act of rebellion, even if it’s not nearly enough.

It’s also valid, this not knowing what to do and feeling stuck. We live in a society that lacks options, and is driven by capitalistic forces that determine not only who is to be valued, but what should be done with those who aren’t: Monetize them or get them out of the way posthaste (and preferably both).

“For Your Own Good” is Code for “For My Own Good”

Orange, fuzzy monster with FMOG across its belly standing for 'For My Own Good"In truth, “for your own good” is most often code that translates to “for my own good.” (FMOG) In other words:

“Why are you locking me up when I want to be free?”

“For my own good, because this situation feels uncomfortable and risky, and I don’t know how to sit with that.”

“Why are you fighting with me over showering, without even asking me why I won’t?”

“For my own good, because it’s listed in your treatment plan, and my boss will blame me if you don’t.”

“Why are you slamming me down on the ground and restraining me, when it’s you I’m trying to escape?”

“For my own good, because we’re in this pressure cooker together, and I’ve been taught that you’re the one to fear.”

“Why are you forcing me to take these drugs that I’m pretty sure are killing me?”

“For my own good, because my colleagues will scrutinize me or call me ‘crazy’ if I push back, and I don’t know if I can take that.”

“And, why are you forcing me to NOT take these other drugs that I at least enjoy?”

“For my own good, because society has clear rules and expectations about what is socially acceptable, and I can’t risk my reputation or job.”

This makes sense. Training for providers on how to sit with discomfort is seriously lacking (as driven by the system’s much broader inability to do the same). And what would the motivation for changing that be? It certainly wouldn’t serve any monetary goals based on what is currently incentivized, and it would buck the trend of hundreds of years of the psychiatric system being used as a tool of societal control.

Yet, perhaps if we can at least be honest that FYOG is code for FMOG we can be a bit wiser in our strategic planning. FMOG is driven by fear, discomfort, money, and a not-so-secret agenda to keep those who don’t fit into society’s plan under control or out of sight. Yes, actual caring is in there somewhere, but it gets beaten down and pushed around until people have to start convincing themselves to layer illusions of caring over massive voids of no caring at all.

Language & Providersplaining

“For your own good” even bleeds invisibly into the ways we use language. That comes in two different flavors: Hostile and ally. For example:

The hostile FYOG (or FMOG, as the case may be) says things like:

“We need to get you to accept your mental illness for your own good.”

On the other hand, the ally FYOG might try:

“It’s not that I believe you’re ‘mentally ill’, but I need to use those words so that others will understand me when I try to push back. It’s for your own good. I’m on your side.”

The FYOG in these sentiments is often more implied than explicitly stated, yet there it is. And that second brand of ‘for your own good’ can be especially painful. At least when we knowingly go forth into battle with our enemies, we can prepare, mental shields raised in expectation. But, when we approach our self-proclaimed allies with our soft spots showing and they thrust the sword in, it hurts all the more. It also more than fairly qualifies as “providersplaining.”

Providersplaining (sometimes masquerading under fun terms like “psychoeducation”) is a common component of psychiatric oppression that has similar features to phenomena like mansplaining. Basically, it is when someone in a provider role explains something in a condescending or patronizing manner to a person (usually with a psychiatric history of some kind) who would typically know better than the provider would in the first place. It happens all the time, but is especially strange when a provider uses that approach to explain why we should be okay with how they’re speaking about us.

Often, this sounds like (similar to above), “I would have used different language, but they wouldn’t have understood me.” That typically translates into: “You wouldn’t understand because you’re not in my position, but I’m doing this for your own good, to fight for the same thing that you are fighting for.” (This can sometimes be followed by a lot of upset and displays of indignancy directed at those who are not properly grateful.) Honestly, I’m going to pull no punches here when I say that this is the laziest of lazy nonsense. I promise you that even the most medicalized folks won’t blink an eye if you at least say things like “people diagnosed with serious mental illness,” rather than treading even an inch closer to boiling human beings down into the acronym ‘SMI’.

Providersplaining of this nature also sometimes comes in the form of, “I’ve heard your alternatives, and I just haven’t found one with which I’m comfortable just yet.” Well, guess what? No one cares that you’re uncomfortable. Granted, we’ve veered off track when providers ask for the list of “okay” words to use, and we actually give them one. This is about values not specific words, and there’s plenty of room in our net of integrity to test different words out. But beyond that, it’s on you. Form provider practice groups where you say different words and phrases over and over again, until you get comfortable with using them. Your discomfort in describing our lives isn’t our problem. Do the work yourselves, or pay us to help you, but figure it out. Because in what world should it ever be okay for someone in the power position to decide for those in a marginalized group what parts of their humanity are worth sacrificing?

Worship at the Church of the I Don’t Knows

“For your own good” is oppressive. Embedded in that four-word phrase is the idea that each of us doesn’t understand who we are or what we need. Someone else is the expert. Someone else has the privilege to hold all the answers, and if those answers don’t work for us then somehow it’s our fault. And, while it may be true that providers and academics know best the language and expectations of their peers, it’s still our lives that they’re actually talking about. It’s still our lives over which they seek domain, and expect us to be thankful if they at least deign to rule us with benevolence.

“For your own good” — whether explicitly or implicitly stated — is violence. It reeks of force and paternalism. And, when we push back against it, we are too often told our push is the proof that they are needed, as if we are toddlers flailing about, not knowing how to run. At best, we might expect a weak “sorry you feel that way” (as if our feelings are the problem), but never acknowledgement of our justified rage.

Perhaps the only antidote is for all of us to join the vast church of the “I don’t knows,” screaming “I don’t know” from the rooftops as a part of our morning prayers. People see “I don’t know” as weakness, but it actually holds great power for all its potential of what might come next. There is so much freedom in its sweet release from the notion that we are supposed to know, or that we know so much more than someone else that we should try to be responsible for them. It is only in that church that we accept how vast the unknown is that surrounds us. It is only in that church that it is revealed that our true power is to choose to sit in and walk through the unknown together. It is only in that church that we each discover the joy or sorrow of an answer that carries us over that hill and into the next abyss.

59 COMMENTS

  1. For Your Own Good always means for my own good, otherwise there would be no reason to say it.

    This is one of the central insights of Alice Miller. Pedagogy serves the needs of parents, not children.

    https://www.nospank.net/fyog.htm

    And this is just as true with Liberal Pedagogy as with Violent Pedagogy.

    Lots of people claim to be influenced by Alice Miller and claim to understand her, but they support Liberal Pedagogy. Alice Miller was opposed to ALL PEDAGOGY. Maybe she was not able to always stand up for this and articulate it well at all times, but she did make her position clear.

    Pedagogy is always just permission to exploit children. They re-write the manuals every decade. Pedagogy, a written out doctrine, is one of the defining characteristics of the middle-class family, just as are FixMyKid Doctors. And so as I have seen, more often than not all Psychotherapists are doing is preaching from the newest Liberal Pedagogy Manuals. They can tell someone that it was too bad that their parents were using an out of date Pedagogy Manual, but now they have new ones. They talk about things like Empathy, Communications Skills, Attachment, and Nurturing. But all these really are, are just ways for the parent to make themselves right and the child wrong. They are still being used to break the child, usually justified as being in the service of the Self-Reliance Ethic, but really because the parent needs to protect their own denial systems. And Alice Miller did not hold back, explaining that the protection of their own denial systems is why the adults decided to have children in the first place. The Pedagogy Manual then is like their Driver Education Handbook. It gives them bragging rights.

    Moritz Schreber would have been considered a Forward Looking, if not a Liberal, Pedagogue in his day.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moritz_Schreber

    The first Liberal Pedagogy came from Jacques Rousseau. It is nothing more than a manual in child exploitation.

    Pedagogy Fills the Needs of Parents, Not of Children
    https://www.nospank.net/fyog10.htm#needs

    Second, Rousseau’s pedagogy is profoundly manipulative. This does not always seem to be recognized by educators, but it has been convincingly demonstrated and documented by Braunmühl. One of his numerous examples is the following passage from Emile (Book II):

    Take an opposite route with your pupil; always let him think he is the master, but always be it yourself. There is no more perfect form of subjection than the one that preserves the appearance of freedom; thus does the will itself become captive. The poor child, who knows nothing, can do nothing, and has no experience–is he not at your mercy? Are you not in control of everything in his environment that relates to him? Can you not control his impressions as you please? His tasks, his games, his pleasure, his troubles–is all this not in your hands without his knowing it? Doubtlessly, he may do as he wishes, but he may wish only what you want him to; he may not take a single step that you have not anticipated, he may not open his mouth without your knowing what he is going to say.

    I am convinced of the harmful effects of training for the following reason: all advice that pertains to raising children betrays more or less clearly the numerous, variously clothed needs of the adult . Fulfillment of these needs not only discourages the child’s development but actually prevents it. This also hold true when the adult is honestly convinced of acting in the child’s best interests.
    Among the adult’s true motives we find:
    1. The unconscious need to pass on to others the humiliation one has undergone oneself
    2. The need to find an outlet for repressed affect
    3. The need to possess and have at one’s disposal a vital object to manipulate
    4. Self-defense: i.e., the need to idealize one’s childhood and one’s parents by dogmatically applying the parents’ pedagogical principles to one’s own children
    5. Fear of freedom
    6. Fear of the reappearance of what one has repressed, which one reencounters in one’s child and must try to stamp out, having killed it in oneself earlier
    7. Revenge for the pain one has suffered

    So your psychotherapist will make excuses for your own parents, rather than being able to see that everything which they did was just to try and give themselves a public adult identity, and they see nothing wrong with child exploitation.

    • I’m sorry your parents were so terrible, PacificDawn. Your research is compelling. I agree, “For Your Own Good always means for my own good, otherwise there would be no reason to say it.” I never said that to my kids. I also never told my children, “because I say so.” Which is another BS phrase bad parents, who do not actually have their children’s best interest at heart, use.

      I always took the time to explain why I requested things from my children, which taught them logic and critical thinking skills, not to mention further insight into whatever topic we were discussing. And I was always the parent who told the truth, so when my children’s dad or grandma started telling tall tales, my children would come to me to get the truth.

      But I absolutely agree, the psychologists and psychiatrists “see nothing wrong with child exploitation.” Covering up all forms of child exploitation, including child rape, is the primary actual societal function of our “mental health” industries, and apparently has been for over a century.

      https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/23/18820633.php?fbclid=IwAR2-cgZPcEvbz7yFqMuUwneIuaqGleGiOzackY4N2sPeVXolwmEga5iKxdo
      https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/04/heal-for-life/

      Covering up child exploitation is a multibillion dollar a year business for today’s iatrogenic illness creating, scientifically “invalid” and “unreliable,” so called “mental health professionals,” and our largely religious owned hospitals.

      https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml
      https://www.alternet.org/2010/04/are_prozac_and_other_psychiatric_drugs_causing_the_astonishing_rise_of_mental_illness_in_america/
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroleptic-induced_deficit_syndrome
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxidrome

      And our government giving these “mental health,” child exploitation profiteers, free reign to play “judge, jury, and executioner” to anyone they please. Has, of course, resulted in the pedophiles and child sex traffickers running amok in our society. Even according to world leaders today, as well as the ethical few within the “mental health profession.”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/us/backpage-sex-trafficking.html
      https://globalfreedommovement.org/putin-blasts-euro-western-culture-of-pedophilia-and-satanism/
      https://www.amazon.com/Pedophilia-Empire-11-Book-Series/dp/B077N6WNQS

      But in the society in which we live, you’ve got to follow the money. And, of course, it is the war mongering and profiteering, bailout needing, fiscally irresponsible, “banks steal $trillion worth of houses,” globalist “robber barons,” who funded the miseducation of our “omnipotent moral busy body” “mental health” workers. A little about our globalist banksters’ wars.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hfEBupAeo4
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auyu5LLQaqI

      Pardon the red pill. But I do agree with you, Sera. “There is so much freedom in its sweet release from the notion that we are supposed to know, or that we know so much more than someone else that we should try to be responsible for them.” No adult should ever assume they should be in charge of another adult. The “delusions of grandeur” of our miseducated “mental health” workers, who believe such, are staggering. And these ignorant “mental health” workers should confess “how vast the unknown is that surrounds us.”

    • That seems a pessimistic view of parenthood. Certainly there are better parents and worse ones, but the idea that what drives parents is wanting to pass on humiliation, fear of freedom, wanting to manipulate, etc. is pretty insulting to parents. It’s true that parents often teach conformity, but a great deal of that is from the fear of what will happen to the children after the parents die. Parents probably feel helpless to change the world their children live in so they do their best to make the children adapt to the world as it is. The goal is the survival of the children. I see this fits in with the theme of doing things to people “for their own good” but I resent your comparison of children to adults. We don’t respect the freedom of a child to run into a busy street, and stopping them is actually for their own good. Forcing children to sit still for hours a day in schools that don’t know how to keep their interest is sometimes argued as for their own good, but enough more beneficial education models exist to question this, and alternative schooling is for many available. Keeping the psychiatric industry from drugging everyone is a good goal that this page shares. Suggesting that parents are all driven by hurtful impulses is not an equivalent. My parents neither shielded me from psychiatrists nor compelled me to go, but I told them I was suffering and they paid for what they thought was help. Most parents love their children and want them to thrive. I would suggest that it’s damaging to be such a pessimist about the motivations of those that love us. Maybe their techniques aren’t great, but the motivations are often wholesome, except for those that are unlucky as to which parents they got.

      • “For most women, maternity is an inauthentic choice.”

        https://www.amazon.com/Beauvoir-Demystification-Motherhood-Challenging-Literary/dp/0835719782

        Remember, Industrial Capitalism created a middle-class. This is the first large group of people who has choice in how they live. But they don’t like this choice. They don’t face up to it, they don’t admit that they have it. They live in Bad Faith. This is the primary characteristic of the middle-class. And it is from this that you get the pedagogy manuals, and the FixMyKid doctors. The parents do know that what they are doing is wrong, but they have blocked off their own feelings. And so they have to severely harm the children whom they did not actually need to have, in order to defend their own denial systems.

        Alice Miller, at her best was showing this, But in the later years she did seem to revert to promoting things like therapy and liberal pedagogy. She did the best she could with what she had.

        As a young woman she survived the Warsaw Ghetto. She found comrades in Polish Resistance, and she was able to smuggle food back in.

        She opened a door, but to go through that door she would have had to have been acting against The Family. That was more than she was able to do in her later years.

        But she more than any shows how the narcissistic wound is inflicted on children, and that the parents have children in the first place so that they can do this in order to protect themselves from feeling their own pain.

        In traditional societies and primitive societies it is not like this. Children are an unavoidable result, they are not a planned facade.

  2. I think the most important thing is that we stop debating, and instead build agreement on a plan of action, and then implement it.

    Today, someone who has survived the Middle-Class Family has zero social standing. They are seen as a Ne’er-Do-Well, as someone who had failed to measure up to the self-reliance ethic. And this self-reliance ethic is the main rationalization for all Pedagogy and FYOG.

    So you can get drugs on the street. Or you can get drugs from the Mental Health System. But none of these do anything to restore your social and civil standing.

    So we should not be discussing what the American Psychiatric Association is doing, or what the American Psychological Association is doing. We should not be reading about drug tests or drug studies. And we should not be dealing with new ideas about healing or recovery, no matter where they come from. All of these things really work just like drugs, because do not address the real issue.

    And that real issue is restoring social and civil standing for the survivors, they come in many forms, of the Middle-Class Family and the closely associated Self-Reliance Ethic.

    The ways we can get this social and civil standing is by taking publicly visible actions which benefit survivors, punish perpetrators, and which can protect the next would be victims. We need to engage in public political and legal actions, not be debating about therapy, healing, and recovery.

  3. Not sure about the “I don’t know” part. 🙂 But otherwise you describe the standard power dynamics of psychiatry, which, as we all should realize by now, is primarily an institution of social control using the trappings of medicine, an adjunct police force charged with enforcing both written and unwritten laws.

    Even as the Murphy Bill/”21st Century Cures” Act were being promoted in the most paternalistic “let us care for our poor unfortunates” rhetoric possible, as though they actually gave a shit, Murphy himself displayed a photo of Sandy Hook victims on his desk to “remind” himself of why his work was so important — i.e. to protect “mainstream” society from us.

    • And these are the words and the thoughts and the work of a psychologist who supposedly chose his education in order to be of help to people in distress! And now the media is pushing the idea that all these mass murders that are taking place each and every week just about in our country are perpetrated by “people who are severely disturbed and mentally ill”. The cure for these mass murders is to make sure that all of us “crazy” people get the treatment that we justly need and deserve, all for our own good of course. This is not headed in a good direction at all. We’re becoming the scapegoat so that people won’t have to actually confront the real problem.

      • Except that now as opposed to Nazi Germany at least 20% of the population is deemed crazy enough to require drugs, and “euthanasia” won’t fly as a response. So there’s power in numbers. Unfortunately many of those numbers have their brains incapacitated by drugs, and the only way for them to stay in denial about that is to praise their psychiatrists.

      • Punishing law abiding citizens for crimes they MAY commit. Sadly, taking these drugs will not gain the “consumers” acceptance but worsen it as they create “positive symptoms” that never existed before taking the drugs.

        My parents are taking my decision well because 1. They see I’m doing better drug free and enjoy better emotional stability off the cocktail supposed to “treat” the mood swings it caused. 2. They actually want what’s best for me. Not all family members do though. 🙁

  4. I think FYOG is what Foucault was getting at with his ideas of BioPower and BioPolitics.

    And the culmination is that where as people used to be punished for wrong conduct via execution, now this is almost never necessary.

    Rather, people are punished by forcing them to go on living.

  5. Me: “If you don’t mind, I’d rather not go to Bingo today.”
    Them: “You have to go. It’ s time for Group.”
    Me: “I just finished graduate school. This is truly insulting to me and I suspect others think the same thing.”
    Them: “So you’re too anxious to go to group, eh? How about a PRN?”
    Me: “I didn’t say that. I do not want to go to group. I think I’m better off spending my time writing.”
    Them: “It is for your own good. If you refuse to participate we can only conclude you aren’t ready to leave.”
    Me: “No, it’s for YOUR own good, so you can tell the insurance company I showed up for a psychoeducational group, and bill it as such.”

  6. Sera, thanks again for your thoughts. The two words frought and distraught come to mind. They overlap and become entangled in many interactions on both sides of the divide. Fear and then power and control issues rise up and those with the big stick win.
    Because I interact with various folks with a different set of life experiences than I , but once I was like them in the time before my internment in MH world I struggle to find vocabulary words.
    Educators need labels even if they don’t believe in them, the system does and thus turns the world and or our stomachs. We live in systems that are corrupt and other than dropping out which some of us do to varying degrees we all still have to cope with the stems we are enmeshed with. This is a good definition of enforced insanity.
    One way I have thought to upend the vocabulary paradigm is to think of all humans as a piece of sheet music. For those youngsters, sheer Music was once the hottest thing going say in the 1930’s.
    The sheets had the written music to a popular song or composer or singer, take your pick. If detached from the illustrated title cover one could if one was able to comprehend music put a snapshot to the type, kind of music, but also recognize it was a complete and separate identity of music composition.
    We are all separate pieces of sheet music but many of the professionals in any helping professions have not be taught the vobsbusry or how to score or write or read.
    One must understand history, the ancient music as well as current, the musical themes that rise in particular times. The ethnic- cultural of music, most cultures have percussion but how beautiful and how different from the bodhran to the steel drum.
    There is bass and cleft, patterns and empty space, there are chords and single notes, there are various beats and breaths. One can categorize but only for simplicity sake. To be a great work one does not have to come from anyplace or anywhere and even childre’s songs and lullabies have their own special place and magic.
    If we all could see and hear and acknowledge one another as human music compositions maybe there might be no need for fear and the words frought and distraught would only be used for reclaitrant music students who are not willing to learn.

  7. This article is from Shannon Peters and it resonated with me. My spirit has got strong due to this trial. It’s been a really great trail.

    Also many people I know I can tell being near to them that their spirit is also strong. Sometimes I think privately singing La, La, LA We’re doing the most innovative move ever as I acquire a new job. I head out and am quite fond when I go to work day by day supporting people with gentleness and kindness. My job is great.

    I also really was impressed the comments of Salimur on this article from Shannon. Salimur’s comments seem to align actually with what this article and FMOSG.

    Laughan, Laughan, Laughan at how great this article is.

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/04/valuing-posttraumatic-growth-psychosis/

  8. Robber Barons from this field is quite the topic Sera. I actually worked at admin levels of Illinois Dept Mental Health, but I don’t really think they are that cool or prominent. A robber baron is better morally than these people. Robber barons went on in 19th century USA to give their wealth to the community. They dept admin people obtained a great state job with awesome benefits and their business practices are weird and can be mean.

    Ya know what I do? I focus on people such as Val Resh and of course you as well Sera to keep me joyful. Here is Val.

    https://yourstory.com/2015/05/reshma-vallippan

  9. Sera, thank you for the excellent critical critique on the moral and philosophical angles that inform the delivery of mental healthcare. I’ve been thinking many of the thoughts you wrote about so well throughout my life, but especially in the last few months.

    For me recently, “FYOG” — those words were literally used verbatim — meant the operator on the EAP hotline (my company encouraged me to call for getting counseling for my stress) meant the police showed up to my apartment to force me into the back of a cop car and admit me to a local emergency room of an area hospital. I made CLEAR to the woman, Vicki from the EAP hotline, to the 911 operator, and then to the police that I was not going to harm myself or anybody else. I was, however, candidly trying to describe to her a feeling of hopelessness and a state of despair that I could not shake. I’d been bullied and harassed at my job over several months and was having a hard time coping. It robbed me of any feeling of security, safety, self esteem, and joy about what I’d achieved in life because I’d worked so hard to get to the place where I was finally making enough money to comfortably support myself in a very expensive city where I have no family and no friends in spite of being here for 6 years.

    During the 5-hour emergency room waiting period I endured (after all my things had been taken away and my heart rate/blood pressure were through the roof, so they tried to subdue me with 2 Adavan), I was pressured to sign a consent form to be admitted to their psych ward on a “voluntary” basis.

    “But what if I lose my clearance? What if my employer fires me? I have to report back to to work on Monday!” I got taken down there on a Saturday. “It’s for your own good,” the misinformed social worker said. Except, I WASN’T covered under the FMLA at all as an employee of only 6 months at the time, I’d later learn through my company’s HR. I had yet to realize that my company’s filing of ADA paperwork to cover my leave would also result in a trigger for OPM to re-investigate me, even though I’d had a clean record for over 10+ years, simply because now I had PTSD and a “mental disability.”

    A physician spent about 10 minutes talking to me in the ward, as I raced through my past history, current mood, and circumstances that brought me to the ward in a publicly humiliating manner, on a weekend where I expected to do my taxes and laundry and then report to work on Monday as expected. This psychiatrist in the ward said that I was talking fast and therefore had “mania,” so she concluded I was bipolar and they’d lock me up in there indefinitely — until THEY felt like releasing me. I heard suggestions about medication I didn’t need for a disorder I don’t even have and even a threat about ECT. “It’s for your own good. It’s what BEST for YOU.” Heh!

    I was successful in securing a discharge against medical advice by the third day after they overheard me talking to some lawyers when I’d obtained phone privileges during the morning. I think they saw I was not crazy but understood my admission there was an event that escalated out of control, I was not a threat to myself or anyone, and despite the immensely stressful ordeal, I was of sound mind to put up a fight and demand my release. When I was released, the psychiatrist threatened that the discharge against medical advice meant my insurance might not cover the services rendered for the 3 days. She was terrible.

    The original EAP line operator, who said she was sending the police to my apartment “for [my] own good” said this would save my life and “help” me. I knew I was going to lose my job, my career, and everything, and that’s EXACTLY what happened.

    About 3 days after I returned to work 3.5 weeks later as the hospital pushed back and refused to cooperate with the HR paperwork to allow me to return to my job — forcing me to find another, but much better physician, thankfully, who diagnosed me with PTSD but we wouldn’t start with medication FIRST due to my reservations about it (the second doctor was GREAT) — my company, Alakaina Foundation Family of Companies, fired me on the afternoon of April 4th. I have never been fired once in my adult life at 40 years old; this was the first time. I lost my clearance because I lost the sponsor who’d hold my clearance (my company) while OPM could investigate me as a result of this mess. My career that I worked SO hard for, — making so many sacrifices for and having maintained a clean record for 10+ years — was over. I have not been able to find work since.

    If I tell the truth in an application and admit I’ve got PTSD, I’d likely be discriminated against, even though it’s illegal. If I lie and say I don’t have it, then I can’t request a reasonable accommodation if I need one AND the government would consider me as dishonest and a threat to national security. Isn’t this system we’ve got in America so fucking beautiful? *all together now* “THIS IS FOR OUR OWN GOOD.”

    The hospital is breathing down my neck and will send my bills to collection early next month. I have to pay a LOT in rent (I have no roommates), didn’t have a lot in savings because contractors seldom do since they often have to fund their own unemployment due to lay-offs, etc. and I still owe them over 1k that my insurance didn’t cover for a bill that was something like $12k for 3 days. An especially cruel twist was that my company terminated my health insurance at midnight on the day I was fired, preventing me from receiving healthcare unless I paid out of pocket because I can’t enroll in Obamacare and I don’t qualify for Medicaid. In my past experience, you’ve usually had your insurance until the END of the month and then they’d send you the paperwork for COBRA, which nobody can afford. I have seen the good psych (the second one who diagnosed me with PTSD) out of pocket at least two times since I got fired (monthly appointments) and also pay out of pocket for my medication, 7.5 mg of Mirtazapine each night. The meds have really helped the original symptoms I was struggling with for months, notably insomnia and lack of appetite.

    I worked for the Army, too — the irony. They’ve been talking a lot lately about the problem with PTSD and suicides by service members, with the Army and Marines leading the other services, just like in a real war.

    Everyone in the chain said some form of “this is for your own good” to me. Is it any “good” that now I’m unemployed, uncleared, not insured, owe medical bills, and on the brink of possibly becoming homeless, as a result?

    This was “good” for Vicki, the EAP line operator, who felt she’d dodged some kind of liability. Thanks for ruining my life, Vicki.

    This was “good” for the very nice policemen who came to my apartment — they were just doing their job, after all and their job is to keep the public “safe.”

    This was “good” for the social worker in the emergency room, who wouldn’t lose HER job or health insurance (or clearance — she said she had one). She had another woman waiting who’s husband was shouting on the speakerphone, “She doesn’t want to sign the fucking papers and be transported! Wait until I get there to be with my wife.” He didn’t think “signing the papers” would be any good — I had a feeling he and his wife had been through an event like this before.

    This was “good” for the first idiotic psychiatrist at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC. She’s the “expert” and gets paid to lock people up and medicate them for things they might not even have, providing them with “services” they don’t even want or need.

    This was “good” for my company, who probably feared a lawsuit because I’d complained about the hostile work environment prior to them referring me to the EAP to get help with “[my] stress issues.” I was advised by a lawyer I consulted with to litigate for discrimination, harassment, libel, and wrongful termination and file a complaint with the EEOC. I am very angry about what happened to me. I feel like I have NO rights and it’s terrifying.

    I decided not to litigate. My family said it would just drag this horrible experience out for far too long, and THAT would not be “good” for my mental health or healing. As much as I want people to pay for doing this to me, I just want to have peace.

    No, NONE of this was “for [my] own good.” I wouldn’t say this was an effective means of “getting help — don’t be afraid to speak up and ask, it’s for your own good,” our culture advises people, recommending they speak up and seek treatment if they’re in a bad place. This was no good at all.

    Sadly, what would’ve been “best for me” would’ve been to keep self-isolating, not tell a soul I was struggling in a hostile work environment, “cope” and self-medicate — basically, get no help at all. I am irate.

    • I am so sorry you endured such a horrible ordeal. This is what is so appalling and egregious about all the propaganda encouraging people in distress to get “help” or receive “mental health care” – a total oxymoron. What happens instead is ‘mental health torture’.

      I know you want peace but if you have a lawyer who thinks you have a chance to litigate it may be worth considering to recoup financial losses. Best wishes to you.

    • That is truly horrendous. You have every right to be irate. At some point, when I feel ready to, I will try to share my story here on this forum, a story which, compared to many of the stories here, is not nearly as bad as many. But, very painful nontheless. The destructiveness of the mental health system is mind-boggling. I wish for you all the best.

      • Please share it — it makes the rest of us feel less alone. Your pain matters, however you describe it. I am grateful and thankful for you compassion. Survivors of this kind of experience need it. Never underestimate your own strength, but when that is challenged — in the face of such system(s) — you and others need to know that you are NOT crazy and you are NOT alone, my friend. Sending you heaps of light and love on your wayfairing journey. XOXO

  10. I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you by cowering in the face of a legal problem by “not standing up.” You’re just another in the peanut gallery with liberal criticism to offer, and I’m sorry I came to provide my story here to disappoint you by not standing up for what’s just and fair. While I can agree with what you say from an intellectual and political standpoint, how dare you insinuate that I haven’t “acted” or “stood up” properly in this situation or any other. You don’t know me.

    I’d go through the math in my life right now. I’d give you the stats on friends and family I have to count on for “support” (or the lack thereof) of any kind. I’d tell you what’s in my bank account or state what amount of money I owe to the damn hospital based on the first round of invoices, what my rent costs in a major city, my other bills, how many rejections I’ve received for employment since April, or how many weeks I’d have before I wind up homeless — but that is far too personal and I don’t owe you that info.

    I’d tell you about my friend who emailed me two days ago and said SHE is weeks away from becoming homeless and how SHE has done x/y/z to stand up for HERself to deal with this same hospital for entirely different treatment related to a respiratory condition. I’d tell you about the fact that, even if I can’t help and I’m faced with similar prospects, I’m making room here to take her and her cat in because she shouldn’t feel alone and like she has nowhere to go. I’d recant what the lawyer I spoke to in April said about what she thought were my chances of winning my case, on what specific grounds, how long it could possibly take in her estimation, and what she thought I would get if I won an EEOC complaint. I know she quantified it generally as “likely very little” — I know I paid HER $300 as an expert who specializes in Federal contracting in particular, I can tell you that.

    I’d cite what a privilege it would be for me — for anyone in my situation — to obtain legal help and expend the energy necessary given a list of other problems I need to overcome that correlate with the math and the overall situation, and yet have the good grace to say, still, that I am one of the luckier people in our society despite all my problems. I’d tell you about my political activities at the moment to get someone into the White House who seems to get the plight of so many Americans like me and the investment of my personal time, energy, and money trying to get others involved, which is a huge commitment, and how I’ve even been threatened with death as recently as yesterday as a result of these political activities.

    But, I won’t because I don’t have anything to prove to YOU, PacificDawn. Thanks so much for your empathy. I hope YOU are in good standing wherever YOU are. It can’t be that bad if you can be a keyboard warrior somewhere, judging somebody like me who is one of but millions of people who’ve been through this situation as I’ve uncovered looking for sources of information, hoping especially that someone can empathize in a situation where one feels frightened, abandoned, and alone because what happened to me (and all those others out there) is scary.

    At least I have my political volunteer friends — they’ve been a true source of support like an oasis in a vast desert I’ve been wandering in for a while, and whom I can convene with to channel my rage into something productive without judgment. My doctor, thank God, is 100% thrilled with that because he’s the kind of person who doesn’t think depression or anxiety are chemical imbalance problems, or that they are due to some individual pathology solved by a pill and an isolating, individualized regimen or a forceful, violent detention. My symptoms are natural responses to a 5-alarm state of affairs in America, and we’re seeing the signs of many mobilizing to “stand up” collectively — thank God — because that’s what it’s going to take. That will require inclusion, compassion, and then many numbers of us acting TOGETHER to rectify these problems instead of tackling them once case at a time. Dr. Bruce Levine wrote about this years ago in his book about surviving America’s depression epidemic, one of my favorite books of all time. It’s what brought me to this sight.

    Have a nice day.