When I saw the email come in, I froze.
The message described a psychiatrist who had allegedly committed perjury, which sealed the deal for a conservatorship to be put in place for a vulnerable, elderly wealthy woman. The psychiatrist presented a psych evaluation in court, diagnosing his victim with a delusional disorder. She had no previous mental health diagnosis, nor a history of psychiatric treatment, but nonetheless, the diagnosis was accepted by the judge.
I remember thinking to myself, this criminal network runs deeper than I thought, and this is really bad.
It was the same conservator that my mom had been previously placed under, and I immediately started to panic. I had the same thoughts that I had during my mom’s conservatorship nightmare: If it was so easy to get someone with no psychiatric history seamlessly diagnosed and locked into a conservatorship, how many other vulnerable people out there were at the mercy of this network of corruption?
Around 1.5 million Americans are under a conservatorship. Many will point the finger at the conservators as the primary focus of criminal behavior; however, the web of corruption runs deep, with layers of complicit individuals that work in conjunction with the conservators to allow them to take over someone’s entire life—both financially, and in terms of their personal well-being.
Rarely do you find discussions about the doctors behind the scenes who are vital to establishing a conservatorship. For the most part, without a psychiatric evaluation, a conservatorship cannot usually be solidified, which means the psychiatrist plays a fundamental role in the process.
After years of exposure to these criminal practices, I have come to understand that there’s almost no escape, even if you have a loved one who will try to help you by fighting the system of conservatorship abuse. The doctor’s note rules; the psychiatrist’s evaluation is held as the proof and the high standard that anyone fighting a conservatorship must defy. Since psychiatrists and conservators work together to implement a conservatorship, it is no surprise that in addition to these cultivated relationships there are also established ongoing relationships with the same judges, attorneys, and court-appointed counsel.
Since it is crucial to have a doctor’s note, the power and influence the doctors have within the layered network of conservatorships is monumental. They can deem someone incompetent and submit it to the court, which seals the deal on an individual’s future. Most of the conservators have relationships with these doctors. They work in cahoots to make sure their victim’s liberties are usurped for pure financial gain. Consequently, these corrupt doctors receive kickbacks from conservators that want those clients for astronomical wealth. Psychiatrists charge an exuberant amount of money for a psych evaluation, and if you want a different doctor’s evaluation to be considered by the court that’s more money out of your pocket you have to spend. Even if you have the funds to request another evaluation, the chance of reversing a diagnosis is slim to none.
Sadly, if you are a family fighting for a loved one to get a new doctor for a new psychiatric evaluation, you are going to pay thousands of dollars. Even then, that evaluation is up against the conservator’s chosen doctor’s evaluation that is already in place and documented in court, so your chances are low and will only amount to more doctors’ bills when attempting to make a case to stop or change a conservatorship.
Since a mental illness can be for life, once a person gets a diagnosis that results in a conservatorship, it is practically impossible to remove it. Therefore, if you are diagnosed with a mental illness, you are caught in the conservatorship trap. Now you have a doctor that can stand in the way of anyone’s chance to fight a conservatorship, as the courts rely heavily on their evaluations. Whether you are alone with no one to fight for you, or with a family member willing to fight for you, either way you are up against a criminal system that makes a corrupt conservator almost impossible to resolve.
When you have a corrupt conservator working with these compromised doctors to gain and keep clients, tragedy unfolds. If the Department of Justice would examine the relationships the conservators have with their chosen psychiatrists penning these notes, they will find similar stories: the same doctor, working with the same conservator, over and over again, acquiring conservatees who get stuck in the system all along the way.
If we want to take a serious look at changing the conservatorship process and successfully have legislation set forth for reform, there needs to be a deep examination into these relationships with conservators and the doctors making these evaluations. Unfortunately, these doctors manage to stay out of the spotlight, when really they are just as predatory as the conservators that stand in line to steal someone else’s life.
The most troubling yet telling aspect of this process is that the psych evaluations are locked. There is no transparency on evaluations, so no one can even begin to dispute or question their analysis. When it comes down to it, the heavy hand the psychiatrists play in the mental health world of conservatorships is far larger and more dangerous than anyone can even imagine. If a patient has no family or friends for support and are stuck in a hospital alone and end up in a locked facility, that’s one thing. But a person that has friends and family to look after them, yet still can’t beat a system that initiates the same protocols and same process to allow a conservatorship with no end in sight is another thing.
Take Los Angeles, for example. My mom’s previous conservator has been operating for decades. Since my mom’s emancipation from him, I have come across numerous victims stuck in his trap. Currently, he is working with the same court-appointed attorney that was assigned to Britney Spears to get another wealthy woman placed under his care. Yes, Spears’ conservatorship was dropped after years of public advocacy, which brought attention to her case, but, to date, she’s the only one. No conservatorship has been lifted in the state of California except for Spears, but she is a celebrity and had an ongoing #FreeBritney moment to apply pressure on the courts, while the rest of us are civilians fighting on our own.
I remember my mom’s first conservatorship hearing at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. The same courthouse in which Spears’ case was heard, which needs to be under investigation at this point. I walked in with evidence of victims all across LA County who had gotten sucked into that conservator’s grip, but the judge immediately shut me down. That judge has since retired, yet if my mom’s conservator was consistently leaning on the robes of the same judge, is that not a red flag?
Court-appointed attorneys working with the same conservators is an easy correlation to question, as would be a look into the doctors that pop up again and again in these cases. Why are the same conservators working with the same psychiatrists, often in front of the same judges? These doctors have managed to operate under the radar and rig the system.
We need to dig deeper into the doctors who conduct these evaluations, who hide behind their sealed documents with no transparency and zero accountability. If a family member wants to get rid of a conservator that is working in conjunction with a psychiatrist that is making money on their evaluations, the family most likely loses any chance to succeed. There are a lot people playing into the criminality of the structure of the judicial system that are all liable for foul play, as there are payoffs to all the complacent and compliant operators within this business.
There is a lot to be said about conservatorship abuse and who is to blame and who is in charge, but when it comes down to it, in my opinion, the doctors are the real criminals that no one seems to be talking about or questioning. The root of corruption in conservatorship abuse begins and ends with the criminality of the doctors. If we want to truly address the complexities of conservatorship abuse, we must look to the doctors that sit at the helm of this shipwreck.
Just recently, I heard yet another example of how conservators use psychiatrists to keep their hands in the cookie jar. A family member offered to take over and remove a corrupt professional fiduciary conservator, and the conservator’s lawyer argued that the conservatee needed a psych evaluation in order to determine his mental competency, which somehow would justify keeping his conservator tethered to his estate. The family and conservatee wanted the conservator removed, so the conservator, alongside his compliant psychiatrist, skewed the narrative and presented the conservatee as “unfit” to make that decision. This occurs across the board in numerous cases when the psychiatrist is at play.
Arguments like, “a transition wouldn’t be good for him,” or “I don’t want to lose his caregivers” are flat-out lies. I’ve dealt with that nonsense firsthand. My mom was hospitalized twice, and the first time, the caregivers remained at her side on their phones and I questioned why they were still on the clock when my mom had a professional treatment team at her disposal. The second time, she was hospitalized for Covid and was in isolation for three weeks so she couldn’t have any caregiver by her side, but everyone continued to get paid around the clock. Yet, any caregiver that advocates for my mom gets fired on the spot. Is that continuity of care? No.
Who picks the psychiatrist? The conservator. Who pays for the psychiatrist? The conserved individual. Who is left in the dark? You, me, and everyone else struggling outside of this locked-down, well-oiled criminal machine. I might not have a voice once a conservator takes charge, but I do have a say here and now. I refused to be silenced by this madness, and nor should you.
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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Bad things happen because good people stay silent.
Good people get caught up in these things. We need to provide them with safe off ramps and reward them with a culture that celebrates whistle blowing.
I agree that bad things happen because good people are silent but it’s also because victims are exhausted, terrified, and broken ♥ hearted. The environment of stigma, victom- blaming, gaslighting and reprisal is not conducive to people telling their stories. We are like the little Who people stuck on the dying Whoville and we need to unify our voices to be heard by a single person with power and influence
Great article Erica thank you. Yes Sarah you absolutely correct victims are exhausted…also no support because once diagnosed it is very hard to be trusted by others. Others also see the victims or the patients as complainer without looking into the facts.
They could not diagnose my medical illness so end up ER quite a few times which also help them to rush into labeling patients with mental illness…they did lock me up and neglected my medical problems. As the result infection was spreading that I hide and called 911….emt came helped me truth exposed, on another case hospital caught lying and judge was helping them but since God was in charge I was able to court appointed psychiatrist to evaluate me and truth exposed but no lawyers to go after that hospital or no patient advocates to expose them for denying me access to phone and patient advocates….there are so many dirty games they play before getting at the point of conservatorship but nobody listen to patients stories because we already ll labeled.
If they can’t make the money, they dump the patient on the street without discharge plan and expose them to danger.
Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment. You brought up pertinent issues concerning Woke culture, and you might like my recent book WOKE OFF on Amazon. Erica
I guess if you’re a victim of this conservatorship, then you have to escape and live a life like a fugitive. Find out how to survive in the wilderness? Go out into the sticks, foraging for food? Something that might take a lot of time to prepare for? If you are actually mentally healthy, that is. If you have some kind of illness than that’s going to make it even harder to do so.
To me this sounds like another hallmark of living in a Police State? Such things should never be happening in free societies. It’s absolutely shocking. Something has gone seriously wrong with society.
On top of this conservatorship issue, consider how bad the War on Drugs is, the mass surveillance of the Internet by the government (NSA), mass incarceration and the continuous stream of fear inducing coverage of crime in the media. It really does look like I can make a case for that we are living in a Police State. And I think it might have started creeping up on us slowly around ~1980 or so. Because how else can you describe what’s going on here? This is what Russia or China would do. It is what dictatorships do, not the free world.
It just sounds like something that would have started happening in pre-Nazi Germany, the years before Hitler came to power, where there was a gradual rise of fascism in society. That’s the only explanation I can come up with that makes sense to me.
Thank you, Erica, for pointing out this fraud … and calling the psychiatrists out for being the criminals that they are. For goodness sakes, they were all taught in med school that both the antidepressants and antipsychotics can create “psychosis,” via anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning.
And since I was handed over one of these absolutely appalling contracts, combined with a classic – take a percentage of gross – thievery contract … all disingenuously dressed up as an “art manage” contract, by a psychologist. One must say, the psychological partners of the psychiatrists – who harass, for years, a person to sign these appalling contracts – are also criminals.
Thankfully, good gut instincts, and being able to understand the contract, allowed me to see that big, creepy psychologist’s wet dream, written out in legalese, for what it was. And, in as much as one tries to be nice to people in one’s mother’s church. After two years of harassment to sign his contract. I finally went to the police, and f-cked that psychologist, by pointing out to him the systemic child abuse covering up crimes of the the psych industries, and their “partners” in my ex-religion.
Thanks again, for pointing out a truly criminal aspect of psychiatry, and psychology.
This is, of course, terrifying. It should be a public health emergency, a judicial emergency, and a public safety emergency.
But, like all things that involve psychiatry and the abuse of psychiatric patients, it is and will be ignored. Those of us who have the slightest bit of experience with the system know how dangerous it is to dissent. Those without experience still think the system is fair and good.
This happened to my mother, and it is terrifying. She doesn’t have dementia and they’ve locked her up for life for managing her financial affairs well and amassing a nestegg they’re all feeding off of now.
I believe they just put down a diagnosis by an unnamed strawman psychiatrist. The court system, with the same players each time, hide the name of this psychiatrist that never existed in the first place.
The same players do the evaluations, year after year, to keep their hapless victims imprisoned in senior housing for life, isolated from their family. It’s absolutely appalling. It’s been going on for decades in silence and no one with power in government gives a damn. Writing to politicians is absolutely useless. What an awful county we live in. I’d live anywhere but here, and
likely will. I’ll never give the American flag reverence again.
Hi Ruth, I’m so sorry to hear about your Mother. It’s horrible. I have tried to do some work with the Senate Aging Committee to push legislation to address this atrocity. You might find my article below useful, and informative. Erica
Yes and this is ALL 100% legal! And the insiders-lawyers and judges all know the scam, but outwardly they will claim that they are doing God’s work and are life saving to your face! If the victim (AIP) has even a bit of $ saved it will be depleted and made penniless and put on Medicaid and locked in an inferior “care facility” of some kind and drugged into oblivion!
Removed for moderation.
Yes it is corrupted and not exact science at all. The patient advocates have plenty cases to report and be looked at by a commission/Justice department or legislative entity. The truth is nobody wants to make changes the patients/victims don’t have family friends support, they already labeled ….they are isolated within society.
The same dirty game will continue on, I am afraid it is going on to get worse very soon.
Guardianship/Conservatorship provides for a legal framework for guardians and conservators (usually a lawyer) to steal money, property from the targeted AIP. In nearly all states the need for a physician to sign off on it is unnecessary since this racket is coordinated by lawyers and their colleagues behind the bench. And all of this is done for the “benefit” of the alleged incapacitated person- the AIP. The only winners in a guardianship are the lawyers appointed to rob, pillage and steal. This “area” of “law” attracts the WORST of humanity!
Arbitrage is a condition where you can simultaneously buy and sell the same or similar product or asset at different prices, resulting in a risk-free profit. That is what they are getting off the backs of the defenseless. Shame on them all.
Erica: Thank you for this important article. Conservatorship/guardianship is neither supportive or protective. That is a myth. People are being misled by lawyers, the courts and government agencies and people are being pushed into guardianship unnecessarily. It is a corrupt enterprise enabled by the courts and needs to be dismantled. The victims are smeared and lied about and family members are impugned. We need to keep speaking up and engage the media to describe what is happening to families. It is all astonishingly routine. Based on the current population in the United States, there may be as many as 4 million people in guardianship. We have no exact data currently. Our human rights coalition is working on convening hearings in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
First and foremost, thank you for writing this article, and I’m glad your mother has a daughter like you. I know it can be exhausting, but people like you who stand up and fight against injustice are so, so important in society.
This article also opened my eyes to issues in the States, and made me realize we have a long way to go in terms of mental health rights. The conservatorship situation in California sounds terrifying, like something out of a horror movie.
Currently, I try to help by donating to legal funds that provide people (who are labelled as mentally ill) with a lawyer. I’m also attempting to branch into healthcare policy. But I still feel like there’s so much work to do.
Also, I live in Canada, but if anyone has ideas on how I can help out the people in California, please let me know!