Trapped in a Psych Ward: Michigan Doc Pre-Signed Blank Forms That Can Rob You of Your Freedom

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From ABC7/WXYZ Detroit: “‘I’ll never forget it. I’ll never get over it.’ That’s how Bri Jackson describes her stay inside a local psychiatric hospital – a stay Bri says never should have happened.

‘If you would have told me that something like that would happen, I would find it so hard to believe in the United States of America,’ said another patient, who asked for anonymity, about their stay in the same psych ward.

These patients and others are alleging they were locked up and held against their will in Pontiac General Hospital’s psychiatric unit, or coerced into staying for treatment for illnesses they say they do not have.

Very few people have been willing to talk publicly about what’s going on behind the closed doors of a locked psychiatric ward.  But now patients, parents, and employees are coming forward to talk to us about what they say are their experiences with the psychiatric treatment at some local hospitals and with psychiatrist Dr. Nagy Kheir.

After the 7 Investigators started asking questions in the probate courts about Dr. Kheir last spring, he suddenly resigned from one of the hospitals where he was in charge. But he’s still working for at least two other hospitals where patients say he has all the power over them.

They describe a system that uses the courts or the threat of the courts to keep patients locked up longer than necessary. Also, the 7 Investigators have discovered a crucial court form that can rob you of your freedom, that’s being signed long before a doctor ever examines you.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Everyone that has to deal with such a psychiatrist deciding they are “psychotic,” is coerced in having to act like he believes the psychiatrist or gets further treatment, coercion etc. Everyone. And one can’t even suggest that given true science, and statistics, that this “professional” isn’t reality based whether treatment via science or statistics helps more than it hurts, because statistics say it makes things worse, and science says the treatment for a chemical imbalance in reality, given science, CAUSES a chemical imbalance.
    It becomes rather mute, when this can happen to anyone, that certain people decide they aren’t crazy, and shouldn’t have been treated thus, and then reserve the right to go right along with the non reality based thinking that applies for those who they decide would need treatment.
    The WHO says forced psychiatric treatment is a human rights abuse. Looking clearly at the science and the statistics would make forced treatment also against the law in how it harms people (I can’t say this again, although one could clearly delineate with evidence both statistic and scientific how this is true). And then there’s this report that seems to overlook all of that sort of akin to making out that all indigenous women should be sterilized, but here look, they sterilized women who were “civilized.”
    I understand the difficulty, and even to get such a report any attention, or to end up at all being acknowledged, and still think it’s a good report and would applaud the investigator, but……

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  2. The following is an e-mail I sent to the author of the article, Heather Catallo

    Dear Heather,

    I ran across your story, “Trapped in a Psych Ward” in “Mad in America,” an online website for those critical of Psychiatry, which linked it to the full story on the WXYZ website. (www.madinamerica.com)

    I was committed at 16 to the Pontiac State Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1960 (it lost its accreditation in 1979, was closed in 1997, and was demolished in 2000). I have experienced first-hand the feelings of horror at being locked up, diagnosed with something I did not feel I had, and the inhumanity of psychiatrists like those in your story describe. I have written about my experiences for “Mad in America” and have attached links to my stories. (i.e., Michael Sturman, MIA, “State Hospital Memories: More of My Story,” June,2023, and “Committed at 16: Memories of a State Hospital,” Jan. 23, 2020). My 2023 article also contains quotations from the “Detroit Free Press,” supporting my account of the terrible conditions at Pontiac.

    In my 2023 article, I proposed that the Michigan Department of Mental Health, or other reputable source, such as WXYZ, contact former patients from all Department of Mental Health inpatient facilities which have since been closed they can. I think it is important to find out what their hospital experiences were and their difficulties in re-entry to society. This, however, has not been done to date.

    On September 19, 2023, I e-mailed the members of the Behavioral Health Committee of the Michigan House of Representative with the following message (quoted in pertinent part):

    “In 1960 I was a patient at the Pontiac State Hospital (renamed the Clinton Valley Center in 1973). Like many others who have been at the old public mental hospitals in Michigan, I’ve had to struggle with my own [mental health] problems, the abuse I experienced, and the failure to receive adequate treatment over the years…

    “To give you a sense of the seriousness of what I’m talking about, these are some of the problems I had at Pontiac: a lack of heat in the bedrooms in winter, abuse in the administration of electroshock treatment, long-term memory and speech impairment, physical abuse by staff, lack of constructive use of my time, lack of age appropriate treatment (I was 16-17), severe loss of weight, multiple dental cavities, and Scurvy of the gums, and an overly heavy focus on somatic treatment, and failure to provide sufficient other treatment.

    “The Pontiac State Hospital/Clinton Valley lost its accreditation in 1979 for failing to meet minimum standards of care and was closed in 1997. [In my review of sources available to me] I found no indication in my research that the Department of Mental Health had ever apologized to its former patients who received substandard and/or abusive care over the years of its operation. Nor did I find that it has ever compensated anyone or had any plans to do so…

    “Recently in Australia, recommendations were made to publicly apologize to former patients who experienced abuse and provide compensation. (Willingham, R., “Mistreated Victorian mental health patients should be given compensation and a public apology, report finds,” Australian Broadcasting Company, June 12, 2023, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-13/mental-health-mistreatment-calls-for-redress-apology/102468454). A mental health consultant with lived experience recommended that involuntary mental health patients in Victoria who suffered “gross human rights violations” should be offered financial compensation and a public apology. He also recommended setting up a restorative justice process, whereby former patients and caregivers would be given a chance to discuss publicly the trauma they suffered.”

    No one from the Behavioral Health Committee has responded to me to date. If the Michigan Department of Mental Health were to ever offer a public apology and compensation for the harm they have done to former patients such as myself, it would be very long in coming. It is not farfetched, however, for in investigation of the experiences of former patients to take place through a news source such as WXYZ. Such a review would, hopefully, generate greater interest by the Department of Mental Health and the Behavioral Health Committee to systematically investigate and take appropriate action. I am available through Skype, Zoom, and phone, and possibly could make the trip back there if so desired. To locate more former patients of Department of Mental Health institutions that have been closed, you could advertise on your website. A short-written survey is what I recommend starting, and then more in-depth, follow-up interviews with those who are willing to talk to you such as myself. I would ask that you at least read my account my “Mad in America” articles to get a sense of the proportion of the problems I am talking about. Believe me this is no laughing matter!

    Sincerely,

    Michael E. Sturman
    Eugene, Oregon

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