What COVID-19 Has to Teach Us About Psychiatric Oppression

Sera Davidow
171
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Psychiatric oppression.
It is an airless void,
Rendering us voiceless
No matter how loud we scream.

Screaming. Yelling. Crying. Begging.
Straining to be heard.
Under the weight of a label
That instructs them not to listen.

Psychiatric oppression.
It is constriction, compression, containment.
Lock us in, hold us down, drug us up
Until we’re ready to listen…

To those who would never do as much for us.

On January 23, DJ Jaffe used his National Alliance on Serious Mental Illness Facebook page to pontificate about whether or not force has any real discernible impact for those against whom it is wielded. “I am trying to track down the study that allegedly shows people avoid care for fear of involuntary commitment. I think it is one of those mental health propagated myths that has no basis in fact,” he offered without any hint of absurdism whatsoever.

Jaffe is a well-known purveyor of the Treatment Advocacy Center’s force-laden “wisdom,” so it makes sense that he’d deny any of its downsides. He uses his apparently copious amounts of free time to relentlessly self-promote his book, appear for interviews disguised as someone far more informed than he will ever be, and sow seeds of fear against all folks diagnosed across the nation with his op-ed-writing scissor hands. (His favorite pastime? Why, slicing our rights and autonomy into bits, of course!) Jaffe’s gone so far as to recommend that a system that already speaks of us as if we were not there actually make us leave the room so as to reduce whatever tiny grains of guilt might be shouldered by the “professionals” when speaking poorly of us in our presence. He shows no signs of slowing down.

But what of the questions implicitly posed in his search: Does force in the name of treatment negatively impact those subjected to it? Does it make them avoidant of seeking help again? And underneath all that, just a bit further down: What is psychiatric oppression exactly, and how does it impact us? It’s less that these questions are difficult to answer, and more that the obviousness of the answers seems bafflingly difficult to convey to someone who’s so unable (unwilling?) to hear them.

Adults unfamiliar with confinement on any kind of locked unit generally seem unable to fathom the nearly bottomless pit of loss that is involved. This also includes—though to a lesser extent—folks who weren’t ever confined long enough to move through all the stages of grief and to the point of resignment (though that can happen awfully fast). But barely a month after Jaffe’s oblivious inquiry, COVID-19 had taken enough of a hold that pretty much the whole world was getting a taste of what it feels like to have the walls close in on you by someone else’s order. And no amount of “for your own goods” can fix how that can feel.

To be clear, psychiatric oppression is not strictly about mere confinement. No, the formula that makes it so hard to bear is made up of several other ingredients, including:

  • Loss of (at least perceived) value and function
  • Loss of social capital

Fortunately, COVID-19 has brought many people a taste of those ingredients, too.

Part 1: The Confinement

I’ve never been much of a fan of comparing the usual challenges of life in a capitalist nation as lived by often quite privileged people to the experiences of those who have been marginalized and contained against their will. I can recall a forensic training I once attended where the big “ha ha” was a comic of someone working in a cubicle comparing their life to imprisonment. Indeed, Ellen DeGeneres recently faced a pretty stern backlash for comparing her quarantine-a-la-mansion stint to jail.

Really, the comparisons to all types of incarceration abound at the moment, including institutionalization on an inpatient psychiatric unit. However, comparing a time when you’re (sort of) required to stay in your own home with all of your own belongings, readily accessible technology, all the caffeine you can drink and cigarettes (or whatever else) that you can smoke, and the ability to wear what you want, sleep when The space inside my apartment is starting to feel as heavy and dense as the space within a locked unit. Each time while locked up, it felt almost like being under water and being unable to breathe. Dense and stifling and solid and horribly grave. I can't bear having the space within my own home having this density and this gravity. - Kazimir DeWolfeyou want, eat when you want, and more to being locked in a psychiatric facility with a stranger for a roommate, a plastic-covered mattress, and jello for dessert only when they say…. is a stretch. Yet, while my inclination is likely still to want to pop someone in the mouth (in an only-in-my-imagination sort of way) if they dare assert that they know what forced incarceration is like because of the COVID quarantine, there’s something about that stretch that rings true for those of us who’ve now experienced both.

Consider the following quote:

We did a review of the psychological impact … Most reviewed studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors included longer … duration, fears [related to potential or diagnosed illness], frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma. Some researchers have suggested long-lasting effects.”

Without further imposed definition, the quote could easily be assumed to be speaking of incarceration on a psychiatric ward. And yet, it is instead speaking of the observed impacts of quarantine as found in a review of 3,166 different papers on the topic. In fact, one So this is not the same as solitary confinement or an isolation room. I can feel the sun. I can walk more than 5 feet before having to turn around. I can see signs of life and hear cars go by. I have entertainment and kitchen privileges. AND, this "social distancing" still reminds of being locked away. - Cindy Marty Hadgeof the included studies found that being quarantined could predict post-traumatic stress responses and alcohol abuse even three years after the event. Interestingly (but not surprisingly), the review found that people who’d been given psychiatric diagnoses were more prone to experience anger and/or anxiety months after the quarantine had ended. Of course, one has to wonder if the study was actually measuring those who’d just been diagnosed… or previously confined and thus found their initial experience of containment further compounded. And, to Jaffe’s point, the research also found that people who’d previously been quarantined (not sick, but quarantined!) showed an increase in avoidance of any setting that they associated with the cause of that experience.

Part 2: Loss of (At Least Perceived) Value and Function

Meanwhile, on April 29, Nancy Doyle published an article in Forbes magazine, “We Have Been Disabled: How the Pandemic Has Proven the Social Model of Disability.” In the article, Doyle explains:

“For those who have never heard of the social model of disability…It separates impairment from disability and focuses on the responsibility that society holds for the disablement of others. For example, if everyone was taught sign language at an early age a deaf person would no longer be [as] disadvantaged. … A few months ago, the world was suddenly plunged into a situation where physical proximity to others became a no go. In one swoop, a whole group of people were placed at an immediate disadvantage without having done anything to deserve it. If people skills and face-to-face interaction are your key skill, then your greatest professional asset is now useless to your employer. You have been devalued by forces beyond your control and the world changing in ways that don’t play to your strengths.

In other words, in a rapidly moving shift, many people who had formed their identities around their careers… who considered at least some of their value to be wrapped up in what they did for work, and in their ability to make a living and provide for their families in general… had much of that snatched at least temporarily away with no guarantee if and how it would be returned. Professional drivers. Childcare workers. Event planners. Public speakers. Salespeople. Personal trainers. Librarians. Actors in live theater. So many others. Huge numbers of them—including some who have grown accustomed to a fair amount of adoration and praise in their roles—simply aren’t needed with the world in its current state. It would be an understatement to suggest that some elements of this mirror the sorts of identity loss that occurs when someone is committed to an inpatient unit, or even simply diagnosed and told to can their dreams for family and a career. It’s just on a smaller, more individual scale.

Part 3: Social Capital

But let’s talk about the last ingredient of this three-part recipe: Loss of social capital. Social capital comes in many sizes and amounts, but many of us have at least a little bit of it. It is what sometimes helps earn us friends, and/or stay in the know. It gains us invitations to certain meetings and events. It gets us phone numbers not publicly available, and encourages some people to respond quicker, or at all to our inquiries. Perhaps, most importantly, it is what helps identify us a “credible source,” and “to be listened to” and “taken seriously” when we speak within our families, among our friends, in our neighborhoods, at our jobs, and beyond.

Unfortunately, it is that brand of social capital that also takes a dive when we move from “those in charge” to “those to be contained.” And while the dive is nowhere near as long and hard as when one is seen as having a “brain disease” (or for a host of other reasons rooted in racism, gender, disability, educational access, socioeconomic status, etc.), it’s happening right now, too. We don’t know when this will be over, and real details about what’s going to happen next are hard to come by. More of us than not are left to tune into vague updates from state officials, hoping we’ll glean something that will reveal a light at the end of the tunnel. Say-so about what comes next is well beyond most of our grasps. We feel lucky when they deign to give us a few extra scraps.

Some may be surprised to learn that this is small potatoes when compared with the loss of social capital that comes with being locked up in a psychiatric facility. There, nurses can choose to withhold information even about what psychiatric drugs someone is expected to swallow without much in the way of repercussions, and discharge dates can be a moving target left to the whims of hospital staff and subject to outside influences such as vacation schedules and weekend staffing ratios in community-based group homes. But the comparison is still apt.

I recall a presentation at a conference during which there was a dialogue about how we could get the concept of psychiatric oppression to be discussed and better understood among the general public. One person suggested that the X-Men films were the ticket. I challenged that idea because I have not found the general populace to be especially insightful when it comes to applying fictionalized (or even their own) experiences of one type of systemic oppression or hardship to another. I fear the same is true here. I don’t believe that people will easily extrapolate the emotional impact they experienced from quarantine life to the much deeper traumas and losses routinely incurred within the mental health system. But… maybe there’s hope.

Look to your disabled friends, Look to your trauma survivor friends, Look to your neurodivergent friends, Look to your suicidal friends, Look to your formerly (and currently) incarcerated friends, Look to your weird, unattractive, and unpopular friends, Not just because we might need your support, But because we've been living with isolation, loneliness, sickness, and lack of resources for much of our lives. We might have some important wisdom to share about how to handle the next few months. - Natan CohenThe answer to DJ Jaffe’s question as to whether or not forced incarceration in psychiatric facilities leads to fear of psychiatric facilities (or of reaching out for help in general) is an obvious one. It’s all the more obvious now that we’re witnessing many of the same components being forced on so many around us via quarantine. It is a large part of why so many of us who’ve previously been held against our will are feeling so uneasy right now. Yet, it is important that we find ways to use this opportunity to draw the connections in bold, impossible-to-miss lines, and turn this crisis into a learning opportunity that might actually help move psychiatric oppression out of the shadows of the unknown and into the light.

Let those of us who’ve “been there” be the teachers for now. We are perhaps some of the best equipped to show people the way through the current darkness. But once the light returns, I sincerely hope that the memories stick, and the gift of our wisdom can be repaid.

171 COMMENTS

  1. “Parting with a loved one is never easy. I said goodbye to my mother recently when she went on holiday. So I know how they (Aboriginal parents having their children stolen by the State to be raised as white people) feel”.

    It’s for their own good of course. Not that the people doing the stealing were affected by any of their policies. In fact in some cases they have profited from it. And the “Sorry” had to be wrenched from their clutches? I guess empathy must be considered a ‘disease’ in some circles.

    Good article Sarah.

  2. Hi Sera and thank you.

    I might add, that some folks who are tired of work, perhaps see covid as a holiday. Yet if extended too long or it cuts into to many usual activities, or income, it becomes that burden.
    And that burden can becomes them, in need of aid possibly.

    Psych does not have a track record of being able to instill a feeling of pride, or empowerment in people, and those are mostly the root reasons of why people seek wisdom, yet turned out, the wrong source.
    That is however NOT what they “advertise”. They always advertise “HELP” is available. It is WHY people trust them. However, how is an abusive, demeaning, non authentic environment empowering?

    Covid-19 is more illuminating to the already marginalized.
    It is illuminating in the fact that the adverts continue. The adverts continue through making sure it is named something that describes it in a social manner, “social distancing”, when indeed it is “physical distancing”.
    Yes we all know that social connections are closely tied to “physically being near”, so of course the “social” will be affected.
    Yet the implications of naming it “social distancing” are that, no you cannot talk to people in proximity any longer.
    The second advert is “we are all in this together”, along with that “mental help” we can avail ourselves of.
    Those therapists we can pay for, when already strapped for cash and yet only see them on skype. Mail for bills is still going strong.

    I guess one thing is good. Perhaps there is less nearness in units. Perhaps the shrinks are scared and staying home. Perhaps there is less wrestling down victims for their useful “meds”.

    I think one thing we are learning is that in reality, these viruses have been on not such a grand scale, but there is nothing preventing a virus to threaten humanity as a species.
    Then we would all be in it together

    • What we are learning is that this is another virus that has been unleashed and thus represents a challenge to our immune systems, individually and collectively. But healthy immune systems are up to the challenge. If they could, viruses would laugh at the notion of themselves being wiped out or “contained.” Despite, or maybe because of this having taken a personal toll on me, I have concluded two main things: a) it is a killer virus for people in nursing homes and those in fragile health (even though they may not realize they are in fragile health), and b) for everyone else it’s like a bad flu, which sucks and can be dangerous, but has been considered par for the course all our lives.

      Rather than try to “contain” the spread via the familiar strategies, in retrospect the response should have been a) send the National Guard to guard and hermetically seal nursing homes; b) warn immune-compromised people to avoid crowds, public trans, and medical facilities; and c) carry on with life, and fund an army of holistic healers to help people learn how to build up their immunity. (Also maybe make it a capital offense to breed this shit in laboratories.)

      Incidentally, not that it’s been mentioned here, but I think EVERY WEEK as many Americans die from something as died in the Vietnam War. So we can lose that statistic, and others like it.

    • I don’t think Asimov was talking scifi when he wrote this book. And from memory (it was 30 years ago I read it) he pointed to virus being the most likely in wiping out the population of the planet.

      “In A Choice of Catastrophes Asimov turns his encyclopaedic mind and his distinctive pen to all the potential disasters that threaten the existence of our civilisation.

      Mr. Asimov defines five classes of Catastrophes: (1) The entire universe might so change its properties as to become uninhabitable; (2) Something might happen to the sun that would spell our doom; (3) The Earth itself might undergo the kind of convulsion that would make life impossible on it; (4) Something (perhaps man-made) might destroy human life upon the Earth; and (5) Civilization as we know it might be destroyed, interrupting the advance of technology and condemning humanity to a primitive life.

      As only he can, Mr. Asimov makes remarkably clear such complicated concepts as black holes, quasars and supernovas; explains the properties of the sun; discusses the bombardment of the Earth by meteorites and other extra-terrestrial objects; deals with the more familiar threats from volcanoes, earthquakes, continental drift and climatic change; and focuses on the awesome impact of a nuclear war.

      The author ends on the reassuring — yet stern — note that those calamities that are most imminent are those we can control. In fact, says Mr. Asimov, ‘it may well be that there is not a catastrophe of the imminent sort that is not avoidable. And certainly the chances of avoiding one increase if we stare the catastrophe boldly in the face and estimate its dangers’.”

      I see one problem being that with a mechanism to silence any inconvenient truths why would their be a need to stare the catastrophe boldly in the face, when you can make whatever you want a reality with negligence, fraud and slander? Our leaders wandering around labelling our ‘prophets’ insane, and subjecting them to ‘treatments’. “Gee I didn’t see those Huns coming, and here’s us the greatest military power the world has ever seeen”

    • When will the collective humanity ever learn that we are NOT in it all together? The rich and powerful control us–they are not together with us.

      If the abuses of the Big Pharma State are not apparent during this time, how can we ever expect them to be seen as forms of psychiatric oppression?

      I am happy to no more be living in the Pharma State, but south of the border in Mexico’s Narco State. For many reasons, this is far superior.

  3. I daresay Jaffe would not appreciate being locked up for days or weeks then released on a bunch of drugs that made him ill and a badge of shame that made everyone treat him like Jean Valjean at the opening of Les Miserables.

    His argument would probably be: “Of course not. But I’m not mentally ill. Pain hurts me.”

    • His argument would be much more insidious and deep. He’d lie and say that mentally ill people are biologically defective and the drugs fix this defection and therefore help them. He’s not defective so he doesn’t need to be fixed with drugs. His metaphorical allies have already convinced the populace that mental illness is caused by a chemical imbalance meaning they will accept it. That’s how they can rationalize making meth illegal because it’s so horrible while telling children they need to be high on meth all day.

  4. “I am trying to track down the study that allegedly shows people avoid care for fear of involuntary commitment. I think it is one of those mental health propagated myths that has no basis in fact,”

    They won’t see us. Survival demands remaining invisible. A philosophical argument could be made that psychiatric survivors don’t truly exist in any meaningful way.

    Thank you, Sera. I appreciated the effort. You made some good points.

  5. Sera:

    Thank you for the great article! (I have not posted in over four years—I miss you! And Oldhead too. Oldhead, one of the clearest thinkers on MIA—not flattery, EARNED!)

    Even if your empathy is only one way (you are thinking about the suffering of others, and hoping for the same in return), I do believe this is the way to go.

    During the COVID- 19 outbreak, I immediately thought of those confined in psychiatric hospitals & group homes (I was in a group home for five years & in the psych hospitals six times—state, private & county—I am also a 2nd generation MK Ultra, or Monarch Program victim, fun!)

    but I also *immediately* thought about the prison population.

    (Kudos to Leah’s great coverage of COVID- 19 fatalities being ‘roughly double’ within psychiatric confinement vs. the prison population. Some MHS survivors with lived experience now know that psych drugs lower the immune system, and almost all on this site do!)

    I once posted that understanding issues of other communities was the way to go. It was my last post on this site over four and a half years ago, but it didn’t make it onto the board. The empathy will probably go in one direction for now, but it does not surprise me that you are the one to pave the way.

    For the last four and a half years I have been following the careers of the tech whistle blowers, journalistic whistle blowers (going back to Daniel Ellsworth),
    activist thinkers, leaders, & critics of the Deep State in every field I can keep up with.

    The trick to it has been (for me) to stick with it until I can find the relevant threads. They are there. And certainly empathy is the starting point!

    I do realize that our detractors post on here (in increasingly civil tones) to better understand our arguments in order to stay one step ahead of us.

    Yay to free speech and all that.

    However, this plays in their favor versus ours since they are better funded & have better connections than we do. They take advantage of this to run ahead of us and continue to dupe the public who are unaware of the debate.

    In other words, the APA and Big Pharma are completely aware that there is no proof that “mental illness” is a brain disorder, but they are still hoping to find a connection in the genome. Until then, they can dupe the public in thinking that the culprit organ is the brain since it “looks that way” to the observer.

    This is akin to saying the Earth is flat since it looks that way to the naked eye in the middle of the ocean with no land bearings.

    In the article “Muffled by Psychiatry,” I noticed that Steve Mc Crea defined his terms like a 5-star Philospher/General & then marched onto the bio-medical reductionist battlefield to delineate a set of behaviors as “jerkiness,” rather than as a “psychopath.”

    I can no longer use the term psychopath, not even for expediency, because that term, and others like it, have been coopted by the Guild to hog-tie anyone they dislike into forced treatment.

    And that is a slippery slope indeed. (Oldhead linked several of your articles to the above, btw)

    Let me connect the relevance of that article to yours with the quality of empathy, or lack thereof, among our detractors.

    Jerks (as opposed to psychopaths) will use the same arguments launched at them to attack their competitors! And as Oldhead pointed out, it was simply an in-house scramble for money & status. It is a common tactic of JERKS to use that type of circular thinking (although that was a circle within a circle, sigh. Are you getting dizzy yet? That is the goal)

    One psychiatrist uses the historical and well-documented abuses of psychiatry to silence another psychiatrist, or practitioner, and learned how to crystallize their arguments from posts on MIA!!!

    If psychiatry weren’t winning the battle so far, it would be funny: Jeffrey Lieberman standing onstage in a white lab coat to intimidate or impress his audience. A gem to satiric filmmaking!

    So if our detractors have no empathy, always finding new arguments and methods on how & why they have the right to drug us (I am barely staying ahead of AOT, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!, but I digress), we can reverse that to find new ways to be empathetic to other activist groups.

    We can take the time to understand their terminology; we can take the time to understand the current debate/s in their movements. I thought you did a great job in this article. You framed it in terms of how others may be responding to COVID- 19, & hoped for the same consideration in return.

    I have been checking in over the years, and I notice we have lost Matt, Steve Gilbert, Bonnie & Julie. I was devastated. Still am. Steve was kind enough to comfort me on that. We are a great family.

    Miss you. Love you, Sera.
    (btw, organic camu camu powder is the strongest source of plant-based vitamin C on the planet—great for improving the general immune system response on all fronts)

    ~Paige.
    (also please note Seth Farber’s essay on The Deep State and psychiatry—I first found it on MIA & Steve was helping me with that, thanks Steve! In other words, if you type in “Targeted Individual” in MIA’s search engine, the link to the essay will pop up in the old forum section)

    https://everydayconcerned.net/2016/12/12/seth-farber-ph-d-the-psychiatric-metanarrative-targeted-individuals-and-the-deep-state-a-response-to-the-new-york-times/

    • Thanks for the shout-out and for invoking the memories of some of our martyrs; I had been working pretty closely with both Julie and Stephen up till their passing.

      Yes, I posted the links to a couple of Sera’s articles in which she correctly disparaged the attempt to attack Trump as “mentally ill,” rather than on moral or political grounds — one thing which I have always been in total agreement with.

      A lot of things are starting to happen movement-wise, so I hope you’ll stick around.

      • oldhead:

        It is wonderful to talk to you again! Remember the forum days when it was (mostly) you, me, & Matt banging our heads against the wall trying to find a way to counter Murphy? Just to have it sneaked in under the 21st c. Cures Act? Obama’s last day or second to last day of office? Wow!

        I have been in MK Ultra land (among many, many other strange lands, Curiouser and Curiouser….). Do you, by any chance, have knowledge of The Church Committee of 1975, when the CIA was exposed for doing illegal experiments on the “mentally ill,” homeless, orphans, vets & prisoners?

        The last post I ever wrote on here was also a shout-out to you as well. I said in that post, that that was something you were probably quite knowledgeable about. Along with Daniel Ellsberg (not Ellsworth–thought I had gone through & got all of the misspellings), author of “The Pentagon Papers.”

        I also connected the post back to what is going on now, but it never got posted. About 4 1/2 years ago. Anyway, I’d love to trade emails with you. We can take this conversation “underground,” if you’d like. I’ll email Steve right away.

        Thanks for looking out for Julie & Stephen! I remember you were concerned about Julie’s dog. I remember that so well. Thank you for your kindness…hope to talk to you soon via email.
        ~Paige.

        • oldhead:

          The essay I linked in my first comment is by Seth Farber & it is one of the most impressive pieces of journalism of 2016. I know you are a Seth Farber fan. So am I.

          I still cannot believe it’s been that long since it came out. It’s 50 pages long & worth every minute of time to read it to the end. It is about the Targeted Individual Program (which got a lot of its operational data from MK Ultra victims, first, second & third generation). The link to psychiatry is overwhelming.

          Yes, I am also a Targeted Individual (or T.I.) In other words, the data they got from me & other victims, well, they used it to turn around & torture me all over again. It started up again about eight years ago & got *really* bad just when I disappeared from this site. The real reason I disappeared.

          While you are reading. And you will love this article, oldhead (posted above). I am going to post another link to Joe Blount’s work. One of my favorite T.I.s. It’s succinct & goes into Cointelpro–another one of the intelligence community programs exposed about the same time as MK Ultra. This is very short & a beautiful piece of work.

          I have been doing Targeted Individual activism on & off for the past four years or so. Unfortunately, many T.I.s do not know the psychiatry hoax debate *at all,* but have had run-ins with psychiatry as they get labeled when they describe to people what is happening to them in the program.

          Joe Blount’s work on Cointelpro: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClFhIoY5AVzViWK8EogxklQ

      • oldhead:

        “Why would capitalists deliberately crash their own economy? Something sinister is going on here and we need to get to the bottom of it asap.”

        Yes, we do.

        I am about smack dab in the middle of the country & can come visit you sometime in the next several months (I don’t need to crash on your couch or anything). Since…I am planning on leaving the country in the middle of 2021; I have to be out of the country when the Targeted Individual Disclosures come out. Long story.

        I am also in the middle of posting a really long message to boans (awaiting moderation) if you want to scroll down. I don’t want to take up more space than needed. I have linked any replies to my email, but M.I.A. may still have my old email for those purposes, so I’ll have to get it changed. I.e., the one Steve gave you is accurate.

    • “One psychiatrist uses the historical and well-documented abuses of psychiatry to silence another psychiatrist, or practitioner, and learned how to crystallize their arguments from posts on MIA!!!”

      Over and over again the only thing they can prove is that they hold the power through a hierarchy system, NOT because of any other reasons.

      • “Over and over again the only thing they can prove is that they hold the power through a hierarchy system,”

        And it fools the public every time.

        Although I *have* been having success talking to people one at a time & actually convincing them of the hoax of psychiatry. Lately, I have been put in this situation a lot. Long story. In other words, I am not the one to bring it up.

        I sum my argument up quickly, in one paragraph, and then I say, “and this conversation BORES me.”

        Activism doesn’t. Explaining the basics does.

  6. Hi, Sera, Thank you for a great article.

    I have a story that I’d love to share with Dr. Jaffe, not that he would listen.

    Yesterday morning I looked out my bedroom window and saw a city fire department vehicle in the parking lot of my building. On the door of the vehicle it said “Community Risk Reduction”. I didn’t then and still don’t have any idea why this vehicle was in the parking lot. There was a woman in the driver’s seat talking on the phone.

    Because of my long history of being taken to the hospital in an ambulance, accompanied by the police, who show up first, and deposited in the crisis intervention unit against my will, my brain came up with a theory about why that vehicle was there. My brain said: The police are on their way, as well as the ambulance. The woman in the community risk reduction vehicle is on the phone with them planning how they’re going to get me out of my apartment and into the ambulance without exposing themselves in the event that I have covid-19.

    I tried to convince myself otherwise. I tried to tell myself that the reasons for this vehicle to be in the parking lot had nothing to do with me and that probably soon the woman would start the car and drive away. That didn’t keep me from going into a full body PTSD response, literally shaking, standing at the window and peering through the blinds, then getting back in bed and curling up in the fetal position and trying to forget what was happening, then back to the window, for an hour. Finally I went from bed to window and saw that the car was gone. I wasn’t so much relieved as spent. The relief came later.

    Like the book says, The Body Keeps the Score, and mine had no doubt that I should be very afraid in that situation. Yes, those hospitalizations/incarcerations have left a mark. I related this story to a compassionate friend of mine who happens not to have a psych history, and she suggested that if that happened again, I could go outside and politely ask the person in the vehicle why they were there. I thought, I couldn’t do that, not in the state I was in. Maybe it’s something you have to have experienced to understand. That’s what keeps me coming back to this website – the wisdom and validation of people who get it.

    • “On the door of the vehicle it said “Community Risk Reduction””

      The one to worry about Katel is the Fast Action Response Team (FART), their services stink. 🙂

      And I heard they shut down the Sometimes Helpful Intervention Team because they weren’t sometimes helpful, just a big steaming pile

    • KateL I felt that with every fiber of my being. I too have had those exact experiences/responses when the Sherriff in the town I live in park on my street during slow days. People try to say, “but have you done anything to make them come this time” and I think, all I did before was stop taking seroquel before because it made me want to die and they came and hauled me off. Hauled me off because I was doing better.
      I’m sorry you had to go through that the other day.

      • Thank you, psmama. I’m sorry for what you’ve been through also – especially that it happened when you were doing better and making your own decisions about what to/what not to ingest. Like you, I know that I don’t have to have “done anything to make them come” for my nervous system to decide, “they’re coming.”

    • I have been avoiding going to the dentist. The modern medical field of psychiatry is a the equivalent of blood letting why not dentistry? I now realize one reason why there are people who refuse life saving cancer treatments. When you have been lied to, involuntary committed, poisoned by a whole prestigious medical profession and they continue to do it to millions of people it’s difficult to feel safe and trust other people. The irony is that psychiatrists would say my paranoia is a sign of my illness. When really it’s a sign of how they abused me.

      • I can identify with this on many levels. That is like PTS. “post traumatic syndrome”.
        When in an ER or a dentist chair, you feel vulnerable and you remember what being vulnerable to hierarchy is about.
        The dentist out of all other professions is most likely the least harmful, but I completely understand the reminders.
        And no, it is NOT “paranoia”.
        It’s just sad that a huge majority does not get the healthcare they equally qualify for.
        Psych made sure of that. Doctors are simply psychiatrists in disguise now.
        They are all psychiatrists.
        They are all sick of big pharma, of their hierarchy roles, but refuse to do anything about it. It is easier for them to just blame the patient to be faulty.

  7. I must admit at the beginning of these measures I thought about everyone else “this is your punishment” for ignoring the plight of the traumatised and distressed, preyed upon by psychiatry, for decades. But what it really displays is people’s slavish following of medical advice. Reading Wilhelm Reich’s The Murder of Christ has really bought home to me the seriousness of the cover up of real health science and understanding. The book was written in 1950, a much darker time. Now we at least have Somatic Experiencing that is teaching Reich’s discoveries to so many without even mentioning Reich. Reich, like myself, was very outspoken. A fearless critic of societies ignoring of real cures and of rejection of responsibility. I see this whole “measures” situation as having come out of that. But as the Chinese say “Who’s to say what’s good or bad?”. I wonder if ultimately so many people have had their faith in “what the experts say” badly shaken. Good !

  8. It is acceptable to rage against psychiatry, but until we can confront Uncle Touchy or Auntie Don’t-listen-to-him-he’s-crazy AND have justice within the activist communities themselves we are only helping pave the way for the next people buyer. We must first confront our own complicity and prejudice. The ways we marginalize those we want to empower by forcing them, to earn a right to be heard with credentials, networking or self-promotion. Either we are worth hiring for our “pseudo-knowledge” too, or we aren’t. If you feel it would be beneath you to hire a survivor for survival teaching during COVID? Or not ethical to hire someone who has hired you? maybe ask yourself why. For me, direct feedback is respect. (I wish writing had tone-o-vision.)

      • Why OH are you asking me this question? In this way? It feels like being baited.

        You don’t know me. Without seeing your face or hearing tone, the words alone have a mean feel in my stomach. I’m not very good at interpreting intent, so maybe we could meet via zoom and you could ask me again and I could answer. There is too much misunderstanding in word alone.

          • It would have been easier to have all the info, but thank you. I’m crap at reading between the lines. And no one is meaner then the thoughts in my head that fill the gaps. I am always interested in organizing, I do what I can, but this time the change has to start at home. And I’m not someone that others play well with or stoop to listen to. I’d get run out of town if I hadn’t already left. lol.

      • Activism is impossible to sustain if you don’t have a safe enough corner to fight from.

        I’m not Anti-psychiatry! I am ANTI-CORRUPTION!

        Those with the least protection (money, status, family, education) are also asked to take the biggest risks while simultaneously being sold cures from every side. Does it make me angry that one retreat with Sean Blackwell is More than half of what I earn a year? (yes) Or that I have to work a day and a half for one therapy session, feldenkais, etc.? (yes) That I can’t get a loan for the education that may give me a shot because in my country disability cannot be counted as income. (yes) And when I do work, say peer support, the pay per hour is less than McDonalds without a contract or guaranteed hours leaving me still tied to disability. If I can never ever get to safety then meds or dying starts to make a lot of sense. Why should I stay conscious if there is no point? No hope?

        The painful truth is that the more marginalized I feel the more reason I give others to marginalize me. Our voices are left in the comment section in favor of professionals who can only imagine what it feels like to be so marginalized you can’t keep from screaming in frustration. And I don’t even think most people, from their place of relative comfort, realize the ways they are complicit. Please do not confuse my moral obligation to call out injustice as I see it for promoting psychiatry! And then I get thinking that maybe the professionals and allies who are afraid to give me the floor or an equal footing or a paycheck have a really valid point. If I had found an island of safety to retreat to, I’d protect it too. If I had to deal with me I’d be afraid too. I am growing more angry and aggressive the longer I fight without a break! I’m not willing to keep pretending I am grateful for a chance that never leads me closer to having my own safe corner of the world. Truth is people like me, when it’s all over, don’t come out with a little farm or a little nest egg, we end up back in a nursing home or a group home alone and drugged. We end up back where we came from. All the pats on the head aren’t going to change that. I used to fight believing that at least my death would make a difference for those still trapped inside treatment. But we aren’t winning! And the professionals with agendas are here too giving us one story while bragging to those they respect for real of the 6 figure profit they made in 7 months off clients like me. So activism is becoming torture, but Another suicide is just more proof for the world that psychiatry is needed. And I HATE THAT enough to stay alive. That’s how mean I am.

        I know you mean well OH and others. I am prickly too. I know we are fighting for the same freedoms, but please I need a little space right now to get back up from the last assault.

        • “Activism is impossible to sustain if you don’t have a safe enough corner to fight from.”

          Then find that corner first O.O. I’ve no idea where that is for you, but I know mine came in knowing a few things. That there is a God, that I will die when He decides, not some doctor who thinks he is god in an Emergency Dept. That if I don’t let the poison that has been created in my head by others into my heart, i’m good. Don’t act out of anger, but out of justice.

          I’ve told this story before about a samurai who came home to find everything he had destroyed, his wife raped and murdered, kids dead, and his home burned to the ground. He found out who did it from the villagers and hunted the man down. They fought and he beat the man to the ground and as he went to cut his head off the man spat in his face. The samurai put his sword away and walked off. The people watching asked him “Why did you not kill him after what he did to you?” to which he replied “Because I was angry”.

          I really hope you find that place because you have something to offer the rest of us trying to bring about some justice in this unjust place.

          One other thing I heard that helped me. Don’t be asking your higher power to take you out of Hell, ask it to come into it with you. Those who witness the power of that are truly impressed.

        • O.O.
          I think many feel as you do.

          I can guarantee you that within the oppressors themselves, there is a shitload of unhappy people.
          Sure they have some cash to soften the blow, but does it really? Nope, I know that cash don’t buy happiness.

          But it satisfies me to a great extent that those nurses dishing out meanness to clients, are not happy.
          Yep, I get shadenfreude. It gives me power.

        • Our voices are left in the comment section in favor of professionals who can only imagine what it feels like to be so marginalized you can’t keep from screaming in frustration.

          Yes but you’re talking about MIA. MIA isn’t “the movement” or anything close.

          As for “corruption,” I would say that to be “corrupt” something first must have integrity. So with psychiatry we aren’t fighting “corruption,” but outright fraud.

          I’ll email you at some point.

  9. The force, loss of rights, drugging, mistreatment, abuse and so on inherent in mental hospitalizations is traumatic and worsens outcomes but I think the harm is much more systemic than that. It’s not just the obvious atrocities it’s the whole thing. Isolating people in a hospital doesn’t produce benefits. It results in worsened social relationships not even counting the stigma.
    I doubt hospitalizations even truly voluntary ones do more good than harm.

    • All of mine were voluntary. The drugs kept me from thinking straight but they told me I needed them and my loopiness was all my (illness’s) fault. I kept wanting to kill myself because I believed I was an evil monster and dangerous to others so suicide was the ultimate act of self sacrifice and love. The only noble thing a monster like me could do.

      Now that I decided shrinks are full of it I’m no longer suicidal. Just angry.

  10. Sera, thanks for another great blog!

    I was not familiar with DJ Jaffe but just watched a bit of a Ted Talk video of him. If he has a brother labelled with SMI I wonder if he had his brother forcibly treated, and if so, how his brother felt about it. Too bad he doesn’t put his energy into researching and speaking out against the harm and adverse reactions that toxic psych drugs bring about.

    To anyone who says the lock down makes them feel oppressed, isolated and fearful, well those who have been subjected to the oppression and coercion of psychiatry certainly can say ‘Welcome to my world” as what goes on in psychiatry is the ultimate lock down.

    This is a petition regarding future medical care for those in the US who may be interested:
    https://oneclickpolitics.global.ssl.fastly.net/messages/edit?promo_id=8778

  11. Sera, I’m just very glad that you are here. That you come on to post blogs. You are always so kind and considerate to respond and interact.
    Anyway, wanted to say thanks for being you, and for the interest you have in making this world a better place for people.
    I find it such a privilege, instead of hearing and reading the continuing cult of psychiatry advertising itself.
    Wish someone, could get the rights to advertise an opposing narrative, on the grounds that if opposing narratives are not allowed on TV, then we are NOT living in a country with free speech. So America cannot point to other countries in that respect.

  12. I suspect our Corona woes will shape up to be a boon to Mad Americans in the 2020’s, just like Rep. Tim Murphy’s disasters (legislative, political, and personal) of the 2010’s. Both the virus and its mismanagement are primed to boost public support for Mad-friendly laws and policies. Perhaps it’s callous to say, but I urge us not to let this crisis go to waste.

  13. I’m not great at translating my thoughts into words but I’m going to try my best because this article really spoke to me. For the past couple months I couldn’t help but think about how quarantine has been a bit similar to my own (involuntary) psychiatric stay, with differences of course, and have also been annoyed with the amount of people claiming they now know what it’s like to be forcibly held against their will somewhere (usually in reference to incarceration) when like you mentioned, you have far more access to a variety of comforts and things that are not found in a true confined environment, like a psychiatric hospital, and not to mention it’s not even true confinement since people really can just leave whenever they wish (especially with restrictions being lifted in many different places). It’s incredibly frustrating as someone who is triggered by the situation at times to see people saying how bad confinement is when they don’t know what that truly means.

    Backtracking to this bit : “I am trying to track down the study that allegedly shows people avoid care for fear of involuntary commitment. I think it is one of those mental health propagated myths that has no basis in fact” Oh do I have a few colorful words in mind for this fellow but I’ll keep it clean. I was one of these people and still am. When I was 16 I was terrified to see a therapist for the first time since I was actively harming myself at the time and knew that could possibly get me put into a hospital. Fast forward two years later when I’m 18 the very thing I feared for years happened: I was involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital due to suicidal thoughts (I was not planning to attempt, it was just a particularly rough mental health week). I won’t go in depth because it’s a lot and rather triggering but the stay left me with trauma that I’m still dealing with nearly three years later. And once again that left me with a fear of seeking treatment in fear that would happen again (and left me with a variety of other fears as well). I don’t feel you need a study to tell you that this is a very REAL fear people have, and that if people have this fear it should tell you something is very wrong with mental health care when sometimes people (like me) would rather try and go through it alone than try to find help for fear they would just be wounded even more.

    I could go on about other great points made in this (such as the whole section on Social Capital) but I’ll stop since I worry I have blathered on too much. Thank you for writing this, I actually cried reading this since I felt such relief knowing someone else thought the same things as me, and I hope I made some sort of sense.

  14. Sera–

    Your article was quite insightful, but left out some important components, in my opinion.

    You said: “I’ve never been much of a fan of comparing the usual challenges of life in a capitalist nation as lived by often quite privileged people to the experiences of those who have been marginalized and contained against their will.” Why have you not done this comparison? From where I sit, capitalism is the number one cause of “mental illness.”

    The different publications over the past ten years relative to the establishment of preparations for this pandemic provide evidence of the Pharma State’s willingness to use this time to engineer its tip-toe fascism–just starting.

    It’s hard for me to see why few recognize this or the extensions from psychiatric oppression to the whole of society during this lockdown by the Pharma State.

    Eric Snowden said that when a government usurps freedoms in the name of security during a crisis, it does not relinquish these controls when the crisis ends. 911 and Homeland Security is one example.

    If people do not wake up form their illusions of protection by Big Brother, then they will suffer the consequences. I feel the time is overdue for those of privilege to self-examine and see what this means for them and the rest of us.

  15. @Sera Davidow,

    It seems like most of global society (at least what they show of themselves online), and this includes even patients and the caretakers of those patients, is on the side of psychiatry. People here are dismissed or mocked as being Scientologists or anti-vaccine denialists and individual experiences (which are brutally real for the individuals experiencing them) are brushed off under the rug of “anecdotal evidence”.

    Most people use and stand-by the use of the psychiatric language of behavioural labeling, neurocrap and psychiatrists hold a massive amount of authority.

    People ask, “so you antipsychiatry guys don’t believe mental illness exists”, “what do you call it when a woman drowns her baby?”

    There are forums out there where people are required to write the list of all their “diagnoses” and all the drugs they’re on in their signatures, so that they get “support” from other members. These forums have very large populations. There are mental health chatrooms filled with patients completely reliant on mental health workers (and MH verbiage) who have a quasi-god like status in their minds. They find solutions to their problems and their problems with people around them through these quasi-gods and their language. They are akin to Kapos. It’s very pathetic to see, but also more problematic to protect yourself against.

    How do you deal with these with individuals (and they’re a majority) in real life? How should one protect oneself from such people? Is the best form of interaction to have with them, no interaction? This results in a lot of isolation and constantly living in fear (for good reason) because once you’re into psychiatry, it’s very hard to get out of it for many reasons.

    MadInAmerica is a minority place. It’s a safe space for people who want to get OUT of everything to do with psychiatry including its “doctors” and even patients/caretakers. I’m not sure anything like it even exists anywhere else.

    • What do you call it when a woman drowns her baby?

      One calls it whatever one likes, but it is not something called “mental illness”, because then we have to call the guy something that puts electrodes on a teenagers brain and shocks it, plus gives them random chemicals, which he knows cause harm.

      So what do we call it when psychiatry kills and harms people and robs them of any semblance of life? Or when cops kill or beat someone just because they can?

      When a judge takes away a mother’s children because a shrink sided with her spouse?

      Psychiatry will NEVER EVER prevent tragedy. They create it.

      In fact it is Psychiatry and not the general public that knows that the fraud it practices. Psychiatry is educated enough to completely understand it’s pretense.

      And it is exactly lack of insight they rely on, to keep their sham going.

    • A woman who drowns her baby used to be called a murderer. Novelists write novels. Painters paint pictures. Murderers commit murders. But people like a neat explanation to make themselves feel secure and build their egos for being “normal.”

      Saying, “A woman only drowns her baby because she is ‘bipolar,'” is a way of imposing guilt by association on a lot of law abiding citizens. This made me suicidal after my “diagnosis” since I believed my shrink that I was a monster. 🙁

      A bunch of women at church took up a petition to stop me from teaching Sunday school once they found out about my label. I obeyed my stupid shrink and got treated like a pariah.

      Relocated where no one knows my dirty secret. I’m physically damaged, so i tell people that’s my disability and why I can’t work and never had a family. Amazing how nice they are to me.

      Tapering off the drugs helped me pick up on social cues and nuances. This Covid 19 scare is making “normal” people act nutty and ruining everyone’s social skills. The great equalizer.

      I obey the law. But Covid 19 doesn’t scare me the way it does so many. I faced the idea that I was hopelessly insane from a genetic brain defect at twenty and proved the experts wrong.

      This illness doesn’t scare me as much as the threat of hopeless insanity shrinks held over my head to keep me in line. Even dying from it scares me less. At 60% infection rates and maybe 5% mortality with my autoimmune issues, I’m more apt to catch it than die from it.
      It is what it is. 🙂

      All those “normals” sure are acting “crazy and paranoid.” Violent too. Proof that sanity is all relative and no one is immune to craziness.

    • “They are akin to Kapos.”

      https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/10/peer-specialists-mental-health-workforce/

      Interesting though brief discussion regarding this analogy in the first comment.

      I know you were asking Sera her opinion but I do think theres a lot to be said for avoiding these people, though of course should they chose to attack you, then the rules of engagment change. I think reading through your comment it would be easy to see the similarity to witch hunts. So you don’t believe in witches? What made the woman drown her baby then? And how could the witch drown the baby when it’s made from wood? lol The world seems to be regressing into a collective form of insanity, taken there by people who are benefiting from that insanity.

      And I don’t know that MiA is the escape you suggest. It is most certainly a place to obtain an education and learn methods of defending yourself from these vicious human rights abusers (one among many functions the site serves). Though it is sometimes easy to fall into the trap of believing that this ‘system’ simply needs ‘tweaking’ and that the guards shoving people into the showers at the point of a bayonette are really good people at heart and are just doing their jobs. They would sell you out in a minute, of this I have no doubt. Details available on request.

      As someone who has been subjected to known torture methods I find it easy to understand why so many ‘advocates’ fold once the mere mention of ‘coercive methods’ is mentioned. Thanks Dr Pavlov. The words of a psychologist who knew what I was saying was the truth, but was threatened by the police into silence regarding his examination of the documents I have. “I’m afraid for my family”. And that’s his justification for using ‘therapy’ for obtaining information for police regarding “who else has the documents”. He should be delisted, unlicenced, struck off, though I dare say he really wasn’t aware that people were being tortured in the locked wards, and assumed that good people would step up. he knows different now lol. Oh, and threatening his family is only considered ‘coercive’ so they didn’t even need to torture him. Handy little resource when police have someone who won’t talk willingly, exploit their trust in a therapy session. Is that ethical?

      It certainly works with defence lawyers who are acting as police informers. All perfectly legal in Australia. See HCA decision 47 of 2010 ACC v Stoddart. No spousal privilege in common law in Australia. The dominoes fall and there are no privileged communications AT ALL where coercion can not be used against the person receiving the information eg priest, doctor lawyer etc. This is why our police can say Gobbo can not happen again with certainty, they have made that conduct legal. Your right to silence may be maintained (though difficult because they are using known torture methods), but they can threaten your lawyer, doctor, priest or family member (ie use coercive methods) to obtain information. Good thing bad thing? Who knows. My belief it will destroy any and all trust we share in our community. This place leaves Ceausescu Romania looking like a holiday resort. Just don’t scratch too hard and you won’t see it.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicola_Gobbo

  16. “I am trying to track down the study that allegedly shows people avoid care for fear of involuntary commitment. I think it is one of those mental health propagated myths that has no basis in fact,”

    What a load. That guy doesn’t need a “study” – just ask patients anonymously.
    If not avoiding therapy, we’re certainly afraid to express our feelings to anyone. I remember coming out of the hospital and thinking “Never again.” Never again will I go to someone for help. They lie. “Just check in for the night; you can leave in the morning.” Never again will I confide in family members. Never again will I tell my counselor what I’m thinking. Then when you get out of the hospital, whether voluntary or committed, there is so much catching up to do. Mail, bills, life. Everything that went to hell (sorry) while you were being held – because you are a prisoner when you check in voluntarily, too. Where (and when) I was at, they kept all patients a minimum of two weeks. No one to help when you get out.

  17. Hello friend’s I am currently in need of assistance and suspect a psychiatric facility of abusing human rights. I have a friend on the inside. The ward has no geographical info on google maps. No call number for facilities or patients. Aventura Harbour apartments directs me to corporate or email and averts all my questions and inquiries. I can tell they are hiding something. I started a police investigation and have been told to contact the city, etc. I was wondering if someone with more expertise could help save my friend from being drugged until they aren’t who they used to be.

    • You would have a fair idea of what is going on around here madmother13. The way our police are planting evidence on a massive scale to corrupt our court system. Scott Austic the latest in a line of people wrongly convicted.

      I was going through my documents again ready for a meeting and noticed the way the Community Nurse presented me as wishing to speak to police. He was obviously pre pairing a defence for their impending use of a known torture method. Shows his intent I believe, not that anyone will look at inconvenient truths.

      People wonder how I know these people tried to unintentionally negatively outcome me in the ED. You would have to have seen how desperate they were to have me made into a “patient” after the fact. And the Operations Manager threateneing to fuking destroy me after her ‘formal investigation’ and me explaining to her that if she did not report the matters to the CCC she was committing an offence. So they get police to assist in retrieving documents (so that the fraudulent ones making me into a “patient” could be distributed) and attempt to kill me, unfortunate for them my wifes doctor friend noticed and was waiting.

      You would think police would pick the matter up and follow through given the serious nature of the matters. Nope, double down because were so busy trying to conceal their use of torture and kidnapping that they will work with organised criminals to conceal it. Probably the reason they need to plant evidence in so many cases, because they simply don’t have time as a result of needing to conceal their own nastiness. It’s been a lot of work for them trying to find ways to arrest the victim of kidnapping and torture for having the documented proof. The amount of people who have had to be threatened quite large now as a result of them having two years to go their own ways and then not trusting each other when the matter was once again exposed. They weren’t sure who might have ‘turned’ not realising police were still working on obstructing and perverting justice. Paranoids lol

      Still, what I have noticed is the amount of people who will bow down to any god that they stand before. Police put a gun to their heads and they comply fairly easily. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but none of them wants to die lol. I’m a bit more like the Joker, a dog chasing cars who wouldn’t know what to do if he caught one.

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