Not Just Another Stain on the Wall


It was a breezy Thursday afternoon. The sun filtered in through the picture window like a lazy haze of soft smoke. I watched it linger in the room as I sat huddled on the couch. I was crying softly as I spoke on the phone between sobs.

“There are people outside waiting to talk to you, Robin,” the woman on the phone told me. “I’ll stay on the phone with you until you go outside. Just do what they tell you.”

“What are you talking about”? I asked.

“Just go to the door and open it.” This time her voice took on an authoritative tone. I got up off the couch and looked through the peep hole. A uniformed police officer was standing by the front stoop. He was peering around a tall hedge, his hand resting lightly on his gun. I quickly backed away from the door in shock, stumbling on my housecoat.

“What did you do?” I cried into the phone. “Why did you call the police?”

“They’re going to help you, Robin. Open the door.”

“No, no!” I cried, “Why?” I felt like I was suffocating as I gulped for breath. Tears covered my face and fell like rain onto my chest. I tried wiping the tears away so I could see, but they were falling so fast it was of no use.

Stumbling down the hallway, trying desperately to brush the tears away, I reached my daughter’s room and crouched near a side window. I slowly peeked over the windowsill. Another police officer was standing just outside the window but he didn’t see me. He was looking toward the front of the house. He, too, had his hand resting on his gun.

I put the phone to my ear again. “Robin,” the woman said. “What are you doing now?”

I was gasping for breath, afraid to move, scared I would be shot. “Why?” I whispered to her. “Why have you done this to me?”

“It’s for your own safety,” she said, sounding aggravated. “They’re not going to leave until you go outside. You don’t have a choice.”

“I never said anything about wanting to kill myself,” I whimpered. I slid down to the floor and covered my mouth with my hand, my fingers pressed hard against my face. I didn’t want the police officer outside of the window to hear me sobbing. I couldn’t grasp what was happening to me. I hated this woman on the phone, this woman who had no idea who I was. Yet she’d just reached into my life and ripped a hole in it.

I was shaking frantically, my hand barely able to hold onto the phone. I could hear the woman saying something, but I wasn’t listening. I looked around my daughter’s room as I crouched on the floor. Just hours before I had come into her room, softly kissing her fragrant cheek as I woke her up for school. But now, pressed against the wall of her room, I felt like an intruder wreaking havoc on the lives of the family who lived here. What would they think of me, huddled against the wall while policemen waited outside to take me away?

“Okay,” I told the woman on the phone. “I’ll go outside. My daughter Mariah will be home soon, and I don’t want her to see any of this.”

“Good,” the woman said. The compassion she had feigned earlier was gone now. She seemed anxious to be rid of me. I imagined this would make for interesting conversation when she sat down to dinner tonight, clucking her tongue as she recounted the events, all the while convinced she had saved the day.

I opened the door slowly. “Put the phone down,” an officer commanded. I was confused and wasn’t sure where to put it down. I was still thinking like a human being, but I had lost that distinction when I opened the door.

“Now!” he yelled at me. I quickly put the phone down near my feet.

“Come down the stairs and stand here,” another officer snapped as he pointed to an area in the yard. I did as I was told and quickly ran down the steps, my bare feet slapping against the concrete. I counted a total of five officers. Two squad cars were parked in front of the house, a third on the side street.

An officer walked behind me and told me he was going to handcuff me.

“Why? What did I do? What’s happening?” I sobbed.

“Put your hands behind your back,” he ordered.

I had never been handcuffed in my life. The weight of the handcuffs rubbed painfully against my wrists as he tugged at my hands. With a quick jerk, the cuffs snapped into place. I stood on the front lawn feeling like I was on exhibition at the zoo. Cars slowed as they passed, some almost coming to a stop to get a good look at me. I turned away from the road to avoid their gaze. I felt ashamed, even though I had done nothing to be ashamed of. The curtain from the house next door was discreetly parted, but I could still see the face of my neighbor staring at me through the window.

The police officers were standing around talking to one another now. Every so often one of them would laugh and shake their head. They were acting like they were at a neighborhood barbecue casually talking about a football game.

“Can one of you put me in a squad car, please?” I begged. “I don’t like being left in the yard for everyone to gawk at.” They turned and looked at me, appearing annoyed that I had interrupted their little hen party.

“We’ll put you in when we’re ready to,” an officer spat at me. He looked at the other officers gathered around him and laughed.

“What have I done?” I cried. I was angry now, angry with the woman on the phone and angry with the police. “Is this because I’m depressed?” Fresh tears rolled down my face. “Is this helping me? Is it?”

They looked at me with no empathy, no compassion. I could feel my anger growing as they stood there watching me with amusement. This morning I woke up a wife and a mother, a so-called respectable citizen. Now I was a circus clown in handcuffs.

Eventually, an officer approached me and steered me to a squad car. “Where am I going?” I asked him. He didn’t say anything. “Can’t you at least tell me where you’re taking me?” He placed me in the backseat and slammed the door without saying anything.

Locked Up and Alone

I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening. Why am I being treated like I’ve done something wrong, I wondered—like I’m not worth one scrap of kindness? I hung my head and began crying. The officers were talking to one another now as we drove down the road. One of them laughed and said something about the “crazy ones.”

“I’m not crazy,” I stammered through my tears.

I sat in stunned silence as we drove through town. My mind was blank now, void of any hope of being rescued.

I saw the hospital looming ahead as we continued to drive. The patrol car slowed down and turned into the entrance marked “Emergency Room.”

“What are we doing here?” Neither of the officers responded. “Why are you ignoring me?” I yelled in frustration. “Don’t I have any rights?”

We came to a stop in front of the crowded waiting room. They each took an arm and marched me through the sliding doors. Then they paraded me through the waiting room like I was an infamous outlaw that had finally been apprehended. All that was missing were the flashing cameras and the urgent voices of reporters asking how they did it.

People stared at me in my handcuffs and bathrobe as we made our way to the admissions desk. The admissions clerk looked at the officers as they gave her my information. Now and then she glanced at me, then quickly looked away if I met her gaze. It reminded me of an old joke: “Don’t make eye contact with the crazy people.”

When they’d finished admitting me, the officers led me to a room at the back of the emergency department. They finally removed the handcuffs when a security guard arrived, apparently relieving the officers of their claim on me. The security guard stood outside of my room with his hands behind his back. Now and then he glanced at me as if making sure I wasn’t planning to escape.

I studied the room. The only furnishings were a hospital bed and a small stool with wheels on it. There were no cabinets, no medical equipment hanging on the walls. This was a room for people like me. A room with nothing I could use to hurt myself or anyone else. It didn’t feel like a safe room; it felt like a holding tank. I sat on the bed and waited, not sure what I was waiting for.

“Can I call my family?” I asked the security guard. “I know they’re wondering what happened to me.”

He looked at me and said it wasn’t up to him, that I’d have to wait for somebody from the hospital staff to talk to me. I sat there and waited, lost in my thoughts. Finally, someone entered the room with a clipboard in his hand. He sat down on the stool and glanced at his paperwork.

“How are you doing…” he glanced at his paperwork again. “Robin?”

“How do you think I’m doing?” I responded angrily. “How is this supposed to help my depression? If a person wasn’t suicidal before, this would definitely make them consider it. I never told that woman on the phone I was going to kill myself. She wasn’t even the one I wanted to talk to. I was trying to call Gina, my social worker at the cancer center.” I didn’t give him time to interrupt me. Maybe he would let me go.

“I just wanted to talk,” I went on. “I was having a bad day. But Gina wasn’t there, another woman answered the phone. I told her I’d call back, but she was practically begging me to talk to her. She seemed so desperate to talk, I practically felt sorry for her. So I gave in, I told her I had been feeling depressed lately. She started asking me all these questions over and over, I was getting confused.” I started getting angry just thinking about her. “So she called the police and then I was being hauled off like a criminal.”

The man with the clipboard looked at me for a moment. He didn’t seem to care one way or another.

“You’ll have to wait here awhile longer until we get you processed into the Stephens Unit,” he said blankly as he scribbled something down.

“What?! The Stephens Unit?” I had heard people refer to the Stephens Unit before. It’s where the “crazy” people went. “Why? Why do I have to go there?”

“It’s just for a few days,” he replied. “Somewhere you can feel safe while you sort things out.”

“I feel safe,” I babbled. “I feel safe at home.”

“It will be OK,” he said absently.

He tried to reassure me, but his voice trailed off as he scribbled something down again and then left.

I went to the doorway of my room and called out toward the nurse’s station: “When is someone coming to get me? What’s happening?” But no one responded. The security officer turned to face me, a look of aggravation on his face. “Don’t look at me like you know me,” I told him. I began to cry again.

Stuck in the Unit

I was put on a 96-hour hold at the Stephens Unit, despite that I was rational and a danger to no one. It was all so surreal. There was no empathy or compassion from the staff. One staff member, Renee, seemed hell-bent on making my time there miserable. One time she refused me my right to make two phone calls a day.

As I was reaching for the phone at the nurses’ station, Renee quickly snatched it away. “You’ve had your two phone calls!” she snapped.

“But those phone calls were to my family for a care plan meeting,” I rushed to explain. “My case manager said since it was required, they wouldn’t count against my two phone calls.”

But Renee had already tuned me out. “And make sure she doesn’t use the payphone, either,” she ordered an attendant who’d walked over to see what was going on. Renee walked off in a huff. The attendant looked at me apologetically but would not return the phone to me.

The psychiatrist who saw me was also arrogant and uncaring. At one point, we were speaking and he nodded off. I told him if I was boring him, I could come back at another time. He became exasperated and threw me out of his office.

All while I was at the hospital, there was no real help, just the mandatory “therapy.” This consisted of psychology students asking prepared questions from a checklist, mostly just “yes” or “no” answers required. They looked startled if I offered more than the necessary response, uneasy with the notion they might have to offer some empathy.

It became painfully clear that I and the other patients in the psych unit were thought to be undeserving of any real concern. We were made to feel ashamed and somehow unclean. I later wrote a poem about it:

“I understand it now

The vacant shuffle down the hall

Silently making our way nowhere

Just another stain on the wall.”

Before I was allowed to be released from the Stephens Unit, I had to meet with the head psychiatrist, Dr. Goad. There were two other people sitting at the table when I entered the room: a woman and a man who I was told was a psychiatrist in training. When I nervously entered the room, everyone was sitting on one side of the table, and I was to sit in the lone chair opposite them.

Dr. Goad looked at me contemptuously, then back down at the paperwork in front of him.

“Do you feel suicidal?” he asked without looking up.

“No”, I said meekly, searching the faces of the others. But they just stared at me blankly, their stony gazes offering no warmth.

“Are you homicidal?” This time he looked me square in the eyes, as if daring me to show my disdain for him, any sign of anger, to keep me there. But I would not give him the satisfaction.

“No,” I said defiantly and stared into his cold eyes.

“Then you are dismissed,”  he said. I stood up, expecting some sort of farewell, but they just continued to stare at me blankly as I turned and left.

As I waited for an attendant to unlock the door so I could return to the unit, the psychiatrist in training stood a few feet away, also waiting for the attendant. Thinking since he was not under Dr. Goad’s critical eye, I tried to speak to him. I asked if he was going to be on staff here. But instead of even slightly acknowledging me, he stared straight ahead. I could tell he was purposely ignoring me, refusing to give even a simple, gratuitous response. A simple nod…any sign that I existed.

My daughter picked me up when I was finally released. As the heavy metal door slammed behind me, I felt like a convict being granted parole from prison. But there were no offers of “good luck,” or even feigned concern about my state of mind. No plan of care, no follow-up appointments, no semblance of humanity. I didn’t exist beyond the paperwork I had signed, a faceless intruder in their minds, someone that left a stench on their skin, soon to be replaced with another faceless intruder.

Darkness, Then Light

I went home feeling even more depressed. I felt unclean, unwelcome in my new role as a “crazy” person. That’s what society calls you once you’ve been carted off to a mental health facility. You are the white elephant in the room, through no fault of your own. Society judges you, dismisses you, and blames you.

I was still struggling with overwhelming depression. But now I didn’t feel like I could reach out for help without fear of being whisked away in handcuffs again. I was afraid of the darkness in my mind, and afraid of trying to escape it.

Every day was literally a battle to live. Speaking took such effort, I could not even carry on a simple conversation. It meant I had to rise above the pain I was drowning in to form a rational thought. But my mind was so clouded and heavy with the weight of sadness that I felt like I was gulping underwater when I tried to speak, choking on my own misery.

So one night, unable to bear it any longer, I decided to kill myself. I cried for myself, for my pain. I could no longer bear the loss of my estranged son and granddaughter, the loss of the close relationship and the happy life we used to share. I thought of everybody else in my life and rationalized that they would be better off without me. They wouldn’t have to fret anymore, and I wouldn’t have to see the exasperation on their faces or hear it in their voices.

As tears streamed down my face, the sheer reality of what I was about to do took my breath away. I fell to the floor and begged God to take me home. I lay on the floor, sobbing like a baby, and cried myself to sleep right there.

When I awoke hours later, I could see daylight peeking through the blinds. With my cheek still pressed against the rug, I felt a sense of contentment. Just a very small measure of relief that I was still alive. I began crying again, my breath quivering as my thoughts came into focus. I closed my eyes and prayed. I prayed that this feeling would stay with me, that I would find the strength to survive.

This experience happened more than a decade ago. I know this sounds like a cliché, but time did make it better. But oh, time will first try to destroy you. Trying to live when I felt like dying made the passage of time unbearable. I felt like a terrified kid wanting to hide under the blankets until morning, during a long, desperate, unbearable night that never seemed to end. There were days when time was my friend, when I felt hopeful. But I still felt like I was walking on a “time tightrope,” always dreading the inevitable enemy waiting to trip me up.

I felt like a stain for years. People would try to “clean” me, make me acceptable. And that’s the problem. People struggling with depression should be accepted. We need to feel like we are worthy even when we are suffering: worthy of compassion, worthy of respect, and worthy of existing. We can’t overcome our pain if we can’t overcome the stigma that is instilled in us by the very people who are supposed to be helping us. I am not a stain to be covered up, tolerated, or whitewashed with feigned empathy, then discarded. I am a survivor, having survived the very institution that was designed to “fix” me.

I wish I could say I was “cured” now. But my depression has been a lifelong challenge. I have been in a semblance of “remission” for quite a while now, but not without the scars, both physically, and emotionally, to remind me of the precarious tightrope I still walk between darkness and light. But the light is winning, despite myself, my fears, and the obstacles society places in my way…the light is winning.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Hi Robin, thanks for that story.

    “Can I call my family?” I asked the security guard. “I know they’re wondering what happened to me.”
    I guess it must be a “mental health treatment” to not allow you to make a call. You know, put you in your place. They hire so many very weird perverted people who try to control their perverted natures. They are so easy to see through. After all, do you think nurses do this because they like people? Hardly.

    “As I waited for an attendant to unlock the door so I could return to the unit, the psychiatrist in training stood a few feet away, also waiting for the attendant. Thinking since he was not under Dr. Goad’s critical eye, I tried to speak to him. I asked if he was going to be on staff here. But instead of even slightly acknowledging me, he stared straight ahead. I could tell he was purposely ignoring me, refusing to give even a simple, gratuitous response. A simple nod…any sign that I existed.”

    No, you cannot “socialize” with shrinks. It’s manipulation. All socializing is manipulation. Because after all, why would a sick person want to make small talk in an uncomfortable place and position. Actually I did say good morning to a shrink once and he looked down at the floor as he passed me. It’s simply that way to show you how it’s done in the army. Hierarchy. If you do not say anything, they find that suspect too.

    ““Then you are dismissed,” he said. I stood up, expecting some sort of farewell, but they just continued to stare at me blankly as I turned and left.”

    Yes just like the army. Or jail. And you really have to lower your expectations of these people. Seriously. They have lowly jobs and they know it. They are guards no better than any security guard or their “attendants”. AND that is after many years of throwing their money or their parent’s money into the cult. What you see is bitterness. Bitterness at being duped into getting a crap job where only the ignorant regard you as being a “professional”.

    Cops, courts, clients, teachers, everyone knows how crooked it all is. When you’re a crook but in power, no one is more aware of the scheme than the crook himself.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Robin. I couldn’t agree more, forced psychiatric treatment is horrendous, damaging, and results in dealing with ungodly disrespectful “professionals,” or outright criminal doctors, as in my case. (The doctor who had me medically unnecessarily shipped a long distance to him, and force treated me, was eventually convicted by the FBI for fraud against the government, based upon his harm of many patients for profit.) Forced treatment should be made illegal.

    “People struggling with depression should be accepted. We need to feel like we are worthy even when we are suffering: worthy of compassion, worthy of respect, and worthy of existing. We can’t overcome our pain if we can’t overcome the stigma that is instilled in us by the very people who are supposed to be helping us.” Well stated, and why the DSM “bible” should be flushed. In addition to the fact the DSM stigmatizations are “invalid” and “unreliable.”

    My best wishes in your healing journey, Robin, I’m glad it’s been going well in recent years. Again, thanks for sharing your story.

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  3. Wow Robin, Welcome to the Machine.

    I’m reminded of the words of Pink Floyd in The Wall.

    “Good morning Worm Your Honor, the Crown will plainly show the prisoner who now stands before you, was caught red handed showing feelings. Showing feelings of an almost human nature. This will not do.”

    So you have now met the Mental Health Jihadis. I was reading an interesting quote earlier regarding the ‘morality police’ from a character in a movie called Timbuktu.

    “In town, the people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists determined to control their faith.” (or in our case, our ‘mental health’ or ‘feelings’). “Every day, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences.” (not unlike the psychiatric Tribunals)

    The quote that interested me though came from an Imam who watches as the Jihadis do whatever they like and justify their atrocious behaviour based on the fact they are on ‘jihad’ (had you been a criminal, police would have treated you much better, but a ‘mental patient’? See how I. S. deals with kuffar). He asks;

    “[to a jihadist] Stop this. You cause harm to Islam and Muslims. You put children in danger in front of their poor mother. You even hit the mother of two children without any good reason. Before you came, a woman was here to complain that you forced her to wear gloves– here they are– without convincing her of their usefulness, as is prescribed by Allah and His prophet. Remember the words of Allah the Almighty: “So pardon them. Consult them in the matter. Speak with them. Once you’ve made a decision, put your trust in Allah, for He loves those who rely upon Him.” Where’s leniency? Where’s forgiveness? Where’s piety? Where’s exchange… exchange? Where is God in all this?”

    So they simply enforce rules without even bothering to explain why, as is prescribed. They snatch you from your home, no consultation, no exchange…. they slander with “crazy ones” and some are even more sophisticated with their slander (see the DSM for a list of the sophisticated slanders), and they mock God with their claim that what they are doing is “for the best”. Take these drugs because I say so, and if not we will force you. Not unlike the woman forced to wear the gloves with no explanation.

    Such a shame our governments are allowing this ‘Psychiatric State’ to grow unrestrained, and that they are failing to recognise the danger from within, whilst trying to deal with the threat in other places using the same methods, and in the end for the same purpose, absolute power.

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  4. “He, too, had his hand resting on his gun.”

    How can people be so oblivious. “They’re going to help you!”, really? Let me dress up like a bully and carry a deadly weapon along with my thuggish friends while we all look out for each other while chasing people down for money, then ask you if you’d ever call me for help.

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  5. This is a powerful and accurate description of what these units and this process is like. And if you’ve just read this article, now think; what’s stopping them from committing something as horrible as a holocaust? would anyone even look twice at the WWII holocaust today, if it were not being promoted for decades as nazi germany being the center of WWII, instead of the atomic bombings of civilian cities.

    This is humanity. All across the world people are either engaging in it, or looking away. When was the last time you just saw people engaged with love and affection, who weren’t seemingly horny?

    Just imagine not being able to look away from the human atrocity; imagine it having to be the very lens in which you viewed the world. Now imagine being called “crazy” because of it.

    And don’t forget to take a look at this before you leave, and remember the fact that your taxes pay for virtually all of this;

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    • Thank you. I wrote a poem about how the system’. “Rules”, can cause us harm. Instead of trying to come up with an alternative plan of care, they read you a “rule”, then dismiss you.

      Blind Ego

      You left me to surely die
      because you say that you “care”
      but you really have to cover your ass
      buried in your rules somewhere
      You left me to just scrap by
      barely able to survive
      while you read from an article
      amongst your arsenal of archives
      You sat on your pious throne
      carved from your arrogant learned ego
      and sentenced me to a dark death
      just for a circus show
      To show that you can read?
      to show that you can talk?
      but you’ll never understand the show
      because you’ve never walked the walk
      You’ve never had death claw at you
      in the darkness of your mind
      and rip your very soul apart
      because your ego makes you blind
      Blind to the terror in my eyes
      blind to my tears and frantic pleas
      blind to the dying breath I gasp on
      just to prove that you can read

      I wrote this after I was dismissed from the program that literally was saving my life. Just dismiss me, never said “let’s have a plan of care to see what else we can do, let’s keep in touch through video therapy on a daily basis to see how you’re doing, we will further research this so we don’t leave you hanging”. But that never happened. I had to beg, cry, literally plea for my life, my vey existence. I was falling down the rabbit hole, and nobody cared because of their rules. The director was very dismissive, and the only reason he even allowed a meeting with me was to just further their agenda of disallowing me further treatment. There was no compassion, no empathy, nothing. I only begin treatment again because I refused to accept their decision.

      I felt like a bug stuck on its back, no matter how I tried to “right myself”, I just could not do it. People would walk past me, and watch me struggling to survive, and just throw out a feigned empathetic response. I explained that I would not survive, unless I could receive treatment. But no one seemed to care to try help me. If I hadn’t fought, with all my heart, I wouldn’t have received treatment again.

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  6. I am sympathetic to your story but there’s one thing I don’t understand. Every time I hear one of these stories, somewhere down the line there is a mention of “my social worker / my psychologist / my psychiatrist” or about receiving disability. I’ve never heard of such horror stories of people that don’t have a social worker / psychologist / psychiatrist or any other kind of babysitter paid by state money to “take care” of them.

    Why do people continue to use services provided by the mental health system if they know such things can happen? Do you still consider the system to be of benefit to you after what just happened? Have you considered abandoning the use of these services, knowing the downsides they can have?

    I personally am not a fan of this system and would almost never use their services. Plus, what compassion can one expect from some random stranger who is supposed to give this compassion in exchange for a tarif or for a wage? Real compassion can only be given when there is no price tag on it.

    Lesson of the day: don’t get involved with the mental health system, at least not at this point in time.

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  7. Circle 10, I was not sure how to respond to your comment. I had to do a few deep breath’s. Your comment suggests “we” just innocently offered ourselves up for sacrifice to the mental health machine. Most of us were thrust into it involuntarily, or by “well meaning” family members. Most people do not have a supportive barrier to falling victim to “the machine”.

    Just like when you go to the doctor, or a “specialist”, you expect, AND DESERVE, a measure of anticipated care. The story you just read, was my first experience in the mental health system. Obviously it didn’t go well. But it was through no fault of my own, and to try to ambiguously “blame” us for “using” the system, is arrogantly ignorant, and harmful.

    Not only do we have to try and survive a “machine” that is designed to help us, and survive the stigma society places on us, now we have to survive the condemnation of trying to survive by any means….even if that means “trying again” out of sheer hopelessness.

    Have you ever almost drowned, gasping for breath, and felt your life slipping away? You are so tired, it would be so easy just to let yourself go, but instinctively you struggle to survive. That’s why people allow themselves to be in and out of a system you find unacceptable. Because it’s our only option, our only “life raft”. Don’t chastise us for trying to survive. Would you rather us wander around aimlessly, with no direction at all as to what to do? It may take a while, but eventually we stumble on a “solution” within the system. It is like a very long battle of struggling to get a gasp of life saving air. Don’t discourage people from hanging on

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    • Indeed, that is something I should have considered. Most people are thrown in this system by family members who are 90% of the time unsupportive and ready to swallow whatever the modern shamans are saying and disregard whatever the patient is saying. Thanks to Mad in America efforts, to which you too are contributing, that did not happen in my GF case.

      Since antiquity till the year 1900, the main theory of medicine was the 4 humour theory and the main treatment was blood cutting. You went to a doctor with liver pain and their response would be “oh, there is probably an imbalance of bile and flegm, the treatment we have is to let the blood from your stomach get out till you die of hemorrhage.” People did not respect doctors back in those days and looked at them with suspicion. That’s the situation psychiatry is in right now. Basically every treatment in the history of psychiatry has proven to be a criminal medical reversal. People shouldn’t put too much trust in these guys.

      I wouldn’t say people “deserve” good medical care when the situation was like that for 2000 years and when only 8% of the world population lives in developed countries today. Having good medical care is an incredible luck that happens rarely, something that nobody really deserves. It happens even more rarely in psychiatry.

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      • Circle 10, once again I am flabbergasted by your statement. You say we don’t really deserve to be treated with care in a psychiatric or medical environment?! Of course we do! The stigma of not deserving care, is the very reason “Mad in America”magazine exists. They are trying to fight the stigma that we don’t deserve care, and here you are condoning it.

        If you want to go through life thinking YOU don’t deserve care, which basically says you don’t think you deserve respect either, because respect and care go hand-in-hand, if that works for you, great! Because if you condone the lack of care for others, then you don’t deserve it either. And that may be cool with you. It means you basically don’t deserve care no matter where you go..what a sad outlook. Because you can’t limit it to just a psychiatric or medical environment, because people are people no matter where they work, and if you condone an uncaring attitude in those environments, you condone it anywhere.

        I for one, know I deserve care, and respect, it is the basic thread of our personalities that holds society together. If we all just walked around and acted like people don’t deserve care, what a horrible world it would be. Because again, if we don’t deserve it, or anticipate care in the most serious environment where it is needed the most, then according to you we should not expect it anywhere, much less deserve it.

        I will continue to fight for myself and others, that’s called caring…oops, I forgot, they probably don’t deserve it….according to you anyway. Because you can’t say we don’t deserve it in one setting, but deserve it in another. Caring is not a card people pull out of their pocket to clock in with. Most people have a measure of compassion, which leads to caring, even in the simplest of environments. How sad to go through life without that common thread

        Even though I have met with uncaring professionals in the mental health system, I have often met with very caring and compassionate people. You’re going to meet with uncaring people no matter where you go.

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      • Circle10,

        I have seen 12 psychiatrists/one prescribing physician, and I’ve only, in the final analysis, trusted one, but even he did not apologize for one brief drug-induced adverse effect. Calling them ‘modern shamans’ is misleading, but I assume you are considering shamans like snake oil salesman and with an irrational belief in the supernatural or spirit world.

        I don’t believe calling medicine as using the 4 humour theory until 1900 is accurate. I guess you’re applying that comment to physicians AND psychiatrists/psychologists.

        It is indeed odd that you say people don’t deserve quality medical/health care even in the few times that it is found.

        I do believe that even if someone were to outright reject the ‘mental health system’, they would have to find a path less traveled, whether they follow a path already trailblazed or build their own d$&@ boat. Most psychiatry is not my friend, especially as I have been labeled with schizophrenia and have used some of the worst class of drugs, major tranquilizers, under dubious pretenses. But I did need help, even though I had to go into the unknown wilderness and slip and fall. Although I did find something in that process. Carl Jung said mistakes are the foundation of truth, and if a person does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he or she knows what it is not.

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          • Steve, I suppose that rings true. I assume it was referencing my comment of ‘I did need help’….maybe not.

            I’ve thrown up in my life more than anyone I’ve ever met or heard of. I hope we can agree that I not only needed help, but that I was ill. Are you just talking ‘mental illness’, I assume?

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          • Throwing up suggests “ill.” Feeling depressed suggests “stressed” or “traumatized.” There are some people who are depressed because they are ill (low thyroid, chronic pain, iron deficiency, etc.) There are some people who throw up because they’re stressed or traumatized. To assume someone’s ill because they are depressed is dangerous and unscientific. Screening for illness makes sense. Assuming illness does not.

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          • Steve,

            (I posted above, but realized I should’ve posted here. My previous comment of this same comment can be deleted).

            I’m sorry, but was it me who prodded you to make these distinctions? Or are you speaking generally for us all to think about? I don’t think I made any comment to really require these explicit differentiations.

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          • Looking again, I just thought it was an important distinction to make. It is common to use the term “illness” in a metaphorical sense, like “that is SICK!” or “she has mental illness” without any actual attempt to look for physiological illnesses, and without the consideration that stress and trauma cause physiological symptoms that can easily be interpreted as “illness.” Of course, these ostensible “symptoms” are intentionally framed as “illness” by the psychiatric community.

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          • Steve,

            I think I generally agree. I would just point out that mind, body, the social, & the environmental are so tightly linked that there are easily feedback loops that are difficult to disentangle and see where one begins and one ends, at least for a practical perspective or where action is required/preferred. And that the individual in the center of a mandala plays a role in deciding which elements are emphasized, not just the arbiter of a psychiatry, as you know. There may be a critical threshold where the need for identity as ‘illness’ may be appropriate, and I believe the judgement of that threshold should be negotiated with the individual, even if they end up rejecting any need for intercession. I’m not sure if you are suggesting psychiatry does not see ‘stress and trauma’ as real symptoms or just capable of causing physiological changes, where the real illness is perceived to be, but psychologists and social workers certainly do. Yet you point out the importance of noting any physiological relations/causes to mental function. Or something like that. Not to get in a knot about all this. Not sure if that contradicts your points, but I would like it to supplement them.

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          • I am most definitely saying that psychiatry as a pseudo-scientific philosophy/religion denies or minimizes the causal role of stress and trauma in any of their “diagnostic” categories. At the same time, they also systematically overlook REAL physiological problems, like sleep apnea or low iron for so-called “ADHD,” and deprive the client of actual medical care that they may need.

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          • Steve,

            Just curious, do you think that any staff, worker, parent, teacher, pharmacist, hospital cleric, or even client who submits to or goes along with psychiatry should admit guilt and do penance? (Not to put too much of a religious custom to it). Or should the blame be restricted to the direct apostles of the pseudoscience, the psychiatrists?

            I like certain aspects of ‘psychiatry’, including the old pioneering psychological psychiatrists like Carl Jung, and nutritional psychiatrists like Abram Hoffer. So in the final analysis, I don’t see ‘it’ as a monolithic entity. But I do take from each what I want and remain critical of their shortcomings.

            I’ve had psychiatrists that did some blood work on basic nutrients, thyroid, etc., but they didn’t earn my respect and trust. The only one I’ve liked has not done blood work, and I don’t know if he knows I have an integrative medicine physician who has. But he did ask me about any abuse in childhood, traumatic brain injuries, and has been open to my suggestions and criticism, and has almost never ‘rushed’ me, allowing me to speak my mind. He says he doesn’t like hospitals, is not as rigid about diagnoses, and doesn’t try to shove his ‘stuff’ down my throat. Is he an exception to the rule, or is he an example of being a ‘lesser evil’? I tend to think so, and I’ve had a dozen.

            My psychologist, who I really like, works in the same office. Is he complicit? He is very intelligent and swims through the system adeptly without holding fast to an always clear cut attitude. He knows diagnoses are questionable, but he still interviews veterans to see if they qualify for ‘PTSD’ in order to receive extra benefits. He’s also seen the disturbing use of Ritalin in institutions for ‘disturbed’ childhood. He’s interviewed people going into the police force to see if they disqualify (mentally) for becoming an officer. I think he utilized a type of ‘diagnostic’ modeling process to make that decision. Based off my respect for him, I would trust him to make a proper judgment in that context, although it may have been restricted to the more obvious cases rather than the professional paranoia and sadism that we find hidden in certain officers.

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          • I think we’re getting into the difference between individual actions, which vary widely, and the system that has been devised, which is very narrow and rigid. There are most definitely individuals who can do great things within the system, and those who fight the system itself to do better (I was one of those for a while). I had a great therapist who really helped me back in the 1980s, though in fairness the DSM-III was just taking hold and therapists were more conversant with Jung and Rogers and Hoffer and Maslow and Bowlby and the like. But the system has changed, and is now rigged to encourage labeling and drugs and a discounting of the importance of experience and personality development as well as to ignore social impacts on human experience.

            I’d use the comparison of individual vs. systemic racism. There are individuals who really do choose to hate people based on their skin color or national origin or class. But the majority of people are able to manage relationships with individuals of varying backgrounds without overt hatred. Unfortunately, ALL of us are steeped in a culture of racism, and carry around images and assumptions and reactions that are “programmed” in by the society we’re a part of, to the extent that much of it, we don’t even notice. Some people are able to rise above this training to one degree or another, but most are only partially or marginally aware that such things are even happening.

            That’s how I see the psychiatric system. There are individuals within the system who can rise above the system’s assumptions, but the training and the culture surrounding “mental health” is warped in the direction of believing that “the mentally ill” are a specifically identifiable population, whose value and capabilities in life are less than the “normal” person, which of course the majority practitioners believe themselves to be. So even if people within the system do challenge the system to do better, they tend to make temporary stirs in certain areas which quickly settle back down into the status quo, because the system is supported by a huge culture of discrimination and condescension and power dynamics, and most of the practitioners are comfortable enough with it to keep supporting its basic assumptions.

            This is why I got out of the business myself. I decided at a certain point that continuing to participate, even as a rebel behind enemy lines, was a tacit approval of the system as it was. I saw the damage being done and realized that one person can’t change the entire culture. So I became and advocate, and earned a lot more inner peace.

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          • Steve,

            Well said. I almost totally agree. Becoming an ‘extra-environmental’ is courageous and needed, as long as there is something there and there is no illusion that one has completely transcended the evils (or ills, forgive me), that are part of human nature.

            I hope one day I won’t need therapy (although I think it can be good mental hygiene), or drugs, or nutrients (although I feel they optimize health), and all these tentacles or nodules in my/the system. My favorite people are those who have risen to their individuality in creative ways while giving back to the collectivity. I try that and fulfill it to some degree, but then again, I am on social security disability income, get family support, and I am technically mostly unemployed. I’m glad you’ve found a niche that allows more freedom without compromising security.

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        • Circle 10. You are not the only one to feel bitter, disillusioned, and disappointed. That is your right to feel that way. But we all deserve to be respected, and make the choices we feel are the best for us and lead us to success. We are survivors. Maybe you have someone you cared about very closely, that did not get any respect, or any proper care. I hope you did not tell them they did not deserve it, which would’ve made things much worse. We all need support from our circle of my loved ones.

          I do feel bad for anyone who struggles with depression. I have major depressive disorder, resistant major depressive disorder. I have tried just about everything under the sun. I have finally found a treatment that works. I have struggled with the monster for 10 years, and for the first time since then I can carry on a conversation, and feel “normal”. It was a very long dark 10 years. But I survived. My intent now is to help others, not throw stumbling blocks in their way

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  8. Oh wow Robin your story is very chilling. The police were certainly barbaric but to anyone who has not encountered psychiatry it would seem unbelievable that those in this supposed ‘caring’ profession are so cold and cruel they are actually sadistic. I too experienced the cruelty after I was sent to a psychiatrist for “help with sleep meds” because I developed insomnia during cancer treatment. The notion that people are “helped” by psychiatry is the biggest and most dangerous scam ever! My younger brother was feeling down after his marriage ended and his family doctor referred him to psychiatrist. Instead of getting better he went downhill on their drugs and died.
    It’s disgusting how many psychiatrists don’t have an ounce of compassion or empathy and instead become quickly irritated or hostile if they have to listen to someone’s troubles. I am very happy to hear the light is beginning to shine again for you.

    Stay strong and keep going. I wish you all the best.

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  9. Thank you for putting into words what has been experienced by so many of us just satisfying loved ones to “ prove” we are trying to help ourselves… after many terrifying, cruel, & dehumanizing experiences,I have come to the same conclusion you have.
    I have found that so many people are so uncomfortable with the grief, anger, distress, sadness, negative life challenges of others, that society has painted it with broad brushed term “mental illness.” Having done so, establishes a situation that allows the “ill” to be bullied, coerced, forced, hidden, and treated as “less than,” by persons & organizations, societies.
    What a cowardly way for society to treat those around us…life is full of difficulties, challenges, horrors, unfairness, chaos, grief, etc….. in Western society we seem not to be allowed to react to those stresses, nor let them affect our lives. But that is life…. that’s our human condition…& our society capitalizes & pressures on selling “happy” and “fun,” at the expense of our living a full expression of our lives.
    Thank you for sharing your story & being able to put into words how obviously heinous and destructive this system is. Best wishes to you!

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