Michigan’s Mental Health Agencies Are in Charge of Investigating Themselves


From Detroit Free Press: “Nearly 50 years ago, the Michigan Legislature gave patients in psychiatric hospitals and the recipients of community mental health services a set of pioneering rights: to be treated with dignity and respect; to be treated in the least restrictive environment; to be free from abuse and neglect.

That system has a built-in conflict: When family members and others complain that rights have been violated, community mental health agencies are in charge of investigating themselves.

On this episode of the ‘On The Line’ podcast, host Cary Junior II speaks with Free Press reporter Jennifer Dixon about her expansive investigation that uncovered a troubled recipient rights system. Some of the state’s most vulnerable children and adults — those with mental illness or developmental or intellectual disabilities — are suffering.”

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  1. We lived and worked in Michigan alongside its “mental health” system for quite a while. While nice to see, this doesn’t even begin to cover the breadth of dysfunction and abuse in that state. It’s worse than anything I’ve seen elsewhere at the scale of a whole state.

    It’s not just the system’s structure. While wrestling with myopic or ignorant or abusive psychiatrists is a problem almost everywhere, the culture that pervades the relatively small psychiatric community in Michigan is a dumpster fire of ignorance, extremism, and abuse. Paranoid of anything perceived as threatening to their own nonsense, you can’t even get CEUs on anything that isn’t trite or rooted in empty dehumanization and violence. Much as someone like Pies’ might try to claim otherwise, Michigan – and the University of Michigan’s department, interestingly – are a poster child for chemical imbalance tropes, not something you might expect given its reputation. I’ve wondered if part of that is its ties to Michigan’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry, nearby. You want horror, look no further. The “NGRI Committee” there has been the subject of complaints and sued (and lost, in various respects) repeatedly for arbitrary commitments, violence, failing or refusing to conduct evaluations or move people through or find placements, blatant manufacturing of basis for commitment as a matter of course, abusive practices, failing or refusing to investigate complaints, perjury, interfering with *other* institutions and programs to guarantee perpetual commitment, and on and on and on. It’s been held in contempt of court as an institution multiple times, for years straight, but nothing seems to matter. Many of the state’s practitioners have connections to the center, and more still are connected to a few also-notorious facilities (Forest View and Pine Rest and Hawthorne) that have been described even by other state psychiatrists as indefensible, in-it-for-the-money, abusive farces, with one expressing concern to the state’s MPAS (now Disability Rights Michigan) about one facility – Forest View – essentially being an assembly line of arbitrary diagnoses and “treatments” and essentially incapable of not hurting people, let alone helping them. That hasn’t seem to have deterred a new multi-million dollar expansion in Grand Rapids. Walk in to court, and the prevailing attitude seems to be to not even pretend to conduct due diligence. People complain how these things tend to be rubber-stamped? How about listening to a judge say they *should* be. The state’s politicians seem unconcerned as well, unsurprisingly. Michigan is one of the states that E Fuller Torrey leaned hard into in order to get one of the worst constructions of his AOT programs I’ve seen in place (“Kevin’s Law”). Even SAMHSA commented on his antics. It’s totally out of control at every level.

    The state’s board, also, is insular and extremely hostile and essentially sees their mission as protecting practitioners and policies. Picture a state run by Torreys and sycophants and you’ll get a pretty good idea for what Michigan is like.

    That the “recipient rights” offices are superficial is nothing new. Frankly I’m surprised to see any reporting on it, though the DFP is a pretty stellar group of journalists on the whole so no surprise it’s them. I’ve had tangential work with RR offices at the state’s facilities and I’ll confirm it’s a farce. They’re basically there to protect the facilities and push meaningless paperwork. We had one investigator actually compile a (still pretty restrained) report for one patient at a state hospital and the vitriolic backlash that came with it was mind-blowing to watch, even as someone a bit jaded. Conversely, despite indisputable conclusions of misconduct, nothing changed. No one was fired, no policies addressed. Nothing. There is no accountability at all.

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    • Who are you? I am a victim of criminal psychiatry in Michigan. Please consider contacting me through Mad in America.

      I know too well the uselessness of the patients rights system in Michigan.

      Jennifer Gorman covered up for the Catholics at St Mary Merciless Livonia when I was human trafficked.

      She was awarded by the Republicans as top patients rights person in the state a few years later.

      She served as the state chair person for the committee on patients rights for the state dhhs under Democrats. The current female governor appointed the dhs head who protects Jennifer Gorman, not me.

      I asked her to reopen her empty investigation as law allowed. I asked at a meeting of the committee of patients rights people. She ignored me and the committee protected her, of course.

      She resigned her position on the committee and was given a job as a patients rights person at Saline.

      Years ago, during retaliation from the powers at be, before I was jailed on bogus charges, I was ordered to report to Saline. This was after I had been locked up illegally by suicide swatting from Oakland Community College and taken by the clueless apes of the local police to St Mary Merciless and held without need in violation of the law. I was not evaluated by two psychiatrists or a social worker, but I was kept for week of coloring and decoupage. So there was no way I was going to walk into a state psychiatric facility.

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  2. I don’t now where I would stop going on what I have seen going on in the Michigan Mental Health system.

    A girl who told me all she had going on was that she was talking a lot and needed someone to talk to in her youth, then the mental health system put her on drugs that caused her to put on weight, then her father chased her around the bed with a belt because she was “too fat,” then she was put inside the asylum school, where because of the medications she couldn’t stay awake, again she was abused, this time the asylum people told her father to be harsh towards her because she was falling asleep.

    I went to visit her at an asylum, years and years later, this story of her youth I only know because we sat at a restaurant with others once. We talked about how the asylums used to be full of people that anyone could have put away for life, for something like 500 dollars, and then they started to find out that many of these people had nothing wrong with them, they only had to be re-integrated into society. This also happens to be when they started using psychiatric drugs that were dopamine antagonists, and as we all know this then was used as an excuse to make out this was some magic cure. The two had nothing to do with each other, other than people were let out that should never have been stuffed into asylums, and at the same time they started using these “medications.” Whether they had started using these medications, or whether they said “pop the weasle” each day would have no effect on whether people could function on their own after being reintegrated, only “pop the weasle,” although nonsensical or rather surrealistic were it art wouldn’t give them a chemical imbalance, and hasn’t been shown to prevent recovery (see Anatomy of an Epidemic). But so, when I went to visit this girl in an asylum [years later], I first was met with someone I had seen hanging around, and had talked with a bit, and he was standing there looking like he had been hung out to dry. Totally doped up, and so I asked him what he was doing there: “I don’t know…..” he stated. I told him to just do as he was told, and he would get out. What is one supposed to say? He had been in there A MONTH! 1000 dollars a day. WHY was he in there? I heard from this girl, and another that he had gone to a hospital and told them he was pregnant. Out of “nowhere” this is a hospital I had called years earlier as a joke, being bored, just wanting to see what they would say if I asked them if they had pregnancy tests for males. “No, sir,” was the response, with totally no inflection or color in her voice was the response from someone who picked up the other end of the phone lines. Not much of a response, but I had left it at that. If they don’t have pregnancy tests, how would they know, and how would they ever care to find out what this meant for this poor guy that had been hanging FOR A MONTH there with no one being able to respond to him but turn him into half a zombie with “meds.” The others started bantering back and forth, which I don’t know if it was talked about with the poor guy but it likely was, they said that first the doctors thought that he thought he was female, and then they thought that he thought he was pregnant but male [“genius” analytical steps isn’t it!?], and it clearly didn’t get so far as that they didn’t know how to scientifically deal with such a phenomenon, and that according to their non existent tests they couldn’t see whether he was, but……. I don’t think it’s unreasonable that if they hadn’t doped him up, he might have figured out what he was getting into, or thinking himself, let alone could someone relate to the symbolism, the emotional context, the conceptual expression.

    This girl was actually voluntarily getting shock therapy when I encountered this added “medical” mystery or creation, then when I saw her a few years later or so, she told me she had been in the state asylum, for a year, had gotten out, and she finally was living with her mother, and had someone to talk to. Quite a long journey…something she needed as a child, like any child might. I told her I was happy to hear she had someone to talk to. The reason she had been in the asylum getting shock therapy was nothing more than she had a sort of boyfriend, and they were entertaining getting married, and he had said something regarding this to her father, which wasn’t a good idea, and this girl didn’t know how to deal with her father even hearing about this [the same man that chased her around the bed with a belt when the “meds” made her too fat and was told to harshly discipline her when the “meds” caused her to fall asleep during school], instead she had put herself in the asylum. But that’s what happens when someone has been in a system so long that wanting to talk to someone is made out to be something else than needing to talk to someone, having it made out that meds that prevent her from staying awake aren’t meds that prevent her from staying awake and instead needs more “discipline” which isn’t seen as further abuse.

    And I get overloaded just trying to talk about this stuff, because the amount of pretense there is in judging a person’s behavior, simply when it’s a bit out there, this is just absolutely shocking how abusive people and the mental health system get. I immediately have at least two stories where people simply lie. Which they have regarding me, as well. Actually stuff I simply hadn’t processed yet with themes that lead towards what would be called a miracle, but that’s me. Others have lost their lives. One person being in the process of being arrested and committed who had fled her house because the neighbors had threatened to have her committed, after she fled I had first called her house, where her neighbors had trespassed into to call her case manager [they actually acted like little children playing at breaking into some place], and when I told them that if they didn’t leave her house I would call the police. That she had fled her house made it clear she didn’t want them in there. Someone said sarcastically: “Oh, would you….” So I knew they would lay a whole spiel on the police, and I never called them, yet. Then I came by her house on my bike, and she was there, with the police, and she told the police I was a really nice guy, then the police told me to move on or I would be arrested. I asked them why I would be arrested, real nicely, and was told I would be interfering with an investigation. I went home, and decided to call non-emergency, to inform the police how the neighbors had trespassed into her house. The non-emergency attendant actually told me that my friend had been taking her clothes off in public. When she had dashed off to get away from the neighbors, I was left with one of the people who had been gathering together deciding to have her committed, she immediately said: “she’s running around naked.” What HAD happened was that she had dashed off so completely terrified that she had tried to take off on my bike which was locked, and she pushed her foot down with such force that she tore her achilles tendon. Something never attended to in the asylum ( a “medical facility” ) although her leg was swollen up to the knee, and actually ruined, while they doped her up. And yes, this was a place mentioned already in George cLoony’s post above Pine Rest. The doctors told her they couldn’t fix it anymore, when it was finally looked at, because it hadn’t been attended to. That being afterwards. During this whole cycle of abuse, while she was being arrested, the non-emergency police had also told me she had been taking her clothes off. They sounded real concerned. After this whole drama, and she got out of the asylum, she calmly told me that she hadn’t at all taken her clothes off. It was just something that they THOUGHT she would do. And EXCUSE me, when has someone “might” do something because they are “crazy” become such an excuse, except it usually is!? Starting a war would be OK, but running around naked is that alarming that when people think she might do it, it’s believed, even by the police. And someone can be in a “medical facility,” have such a wound that their leg is swollen up to the knee because they have a tore achilles tendon, but it’s not looked at, while she’s drugged up till she doesn’t know whether she’s taking anything anymore, is intimidated and terrified till she’ll do whatever she’s told, and no one is held responsible that they never attended to a real physical trauma!? AFTER she is arrested and forced on such “treatment!?”

    And there’s more to it. I’m already overloaded.

    The same group of supposedly more open minded grass roots gang did the same thing to another girl, their story completely falling apart that they thought she “needed” help. What’s the most tragic is how people get stuck so scared of their own natural responses, which they might learn to understand when allowed to, that the simple anxiety of starting to wake up from being indoctrinated or what would happen when they aren’t compliant, and then what they have encountered before causing them to out of fear reach for the very system which prevents them from integrating, from understanding, from becoming familiar with what they need to get to know to grow the way their soul needs to be allowed to, they become scared of themselves. And not just of themselves, but what it is to be human. Scared of simply being human and alive. Beyond time, beyond accepted social norms of said period, and beyond what the fear’s ego has set up as “surviving.”

    I’ve seen someone trying to get her father from being her guardian, met with “social workers” when she would have friends visiting her at all, simply friends, have the social worker say she was suspicious that the girl was getting paid for sex (it was simply a friend visiting her), and this is taken seriously by a court judge; the girl couldn’t mention that the meds took away all her sexual feelings, she couldn’t mention even wanting to leave the city and want to go to Chicago, where she had lived during other times in her life, all found “suspicious,” or signs of “bipolar.” Then the judge had her drug tested, she apparently, in trying to deal with how she was boxed up had done some cocaine with this friend of hers. Evidently he supplied her with it, I would think. But she was so doped up she didn’t remember, and after the test she did admit to it, she simply had forgotten. But the judge decided this was evidence that she wasn’t aware of the “disease” she had. How many people: anyone who does cocaine, anyone who wants to leave the city they are in when others think they aren’t being “responsible,” or that are accused of prostituting themselves when they aren’t, WHAT a number we would have of who is bipolar!? And I sat and watched this go on in a court. No mention of the drugs that weren’t helping her, what the situation with her father must have been who wouldn’t listen to her actually express HOW the “treatment” was effecting her…….

    And this is actually a mild case, regarding puppet courts, and what kind of a diatribe of suspicions and misinterpretations, and an ability to understand normal responses to abuse, and trauma, and oppression that go on when an “authority” decides someone has a disease, the authority being allowed to be more paranoid than ANY “sick” person has ever really been.

    Another friend of mine lost her parents at a very early age, and nature became the bridge, the channel to her parents spirits. And many other friends she had lost, most in the mental health system. She had ended up in the asylum, and they were going to let her out, and it was actually her birthday, or her mother’s, I don’t remember, and sitting in one of those ill kept courtyards where only a few amazing weeds pop up through the cracks, somehow a bird landed within view. She told another inmate that that was her mother. No interest in what she was expressing, what this meant about her life, and she told me they were going to keep her in there longer, a couple more weeks. I called up, and let someone have it, talking about religious persecution of Native American beliefs, and I don’t know what else. Got an apologetic response I don’t want to insult sheep about trying to characterize it. “We were just trying to….” as if this is going to make me or anyone else feel they are doing their job. She did get out then, but AGAIN unfortunately, remained stuck in the system. Knowing the medications didn’t help, couldn’t get off of them because of the withdrawal symptoms, and then all the traps they set…….

    Millions of dollars, all sorts of buildings, whole “facilities,” being built, and yet remaining full of people who understand less about mental illness than those who have experienced it. And instead of wanting to find out they fuss about who knows what.

    Fortunately I found that there are others there, in the system. But those usually aren’t the ones working for the mainstream outfits, it seems. Every time I see a board that says “behavioral” health, um……

    WHOSE behavior exactly? It seems paranoia has become an institution……

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  3. Sorry, this should have read inability rather than ability

    “And this is actually a mild case, regarding puppet courts, and what kind of a diatribe of suspicions and misinterpretations, and an ability [should read inability] to understand normal responses to abuse, and trauma, and oppression that go on when an “authority” decides someone has a disease, the authority being allowed to be more paranoid than ANY “sick” person has ever really been. “

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