MIA Survey: Ex-patients Tell of Force, Trauma and Sexual Abuse in America’s Mental Hospitals

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In a MIA survey of people who had been patients in mental hospitals, nearly 500 respondents told of an experience that was often traumatic, and frequently characterized by a violation of their legal rights, forced treatment with drugs, and physical or sexual abuse. Only 17% said they were “satisfied” with the “quality of the psychiatric treatment” they received.

Risk of Suicide After Hospitalization Even Higher Than Previously Estimated

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New analysis of post-discharge suicide rates finds estimates 6 times higher than recent studies.

Humanizing Mental Healthcare by Reducing Coercive Practices

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A review of the literature demonstrates that coercive practices lack empirical support and violate human rights.

Escape from British Columbia

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Rob Wipond reports on a constitutional challenge in British Columbia against a key component of the province’s Mental Health Act. “This case isn’t arguing...

Nuanced History of Asylums Shows Context Matters

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A bottom-up approach to understanding the history of asylums allows us to learn from past successes and failures in the mental health system.

United Nations Rep Brings Attention to Human Rights Violations in Psychiatry

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Dr. Dainius Pūras argues that the status quo in mental health treatment is no longer acceptable and demands political action to promote human rights.

The Curious Case of over 50 Consecutive ECTs in Melbourne

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Over the past few weeks I have been witness to, and increasingly involved in trying to stop one of the most extreme examples of psychiatric brutality I have encountered in my 40 years in this field. And I have encountered quite a few. I suggest you sit down before watching and reading. This is not your usual, run-of-the-mill psychiatric abuse story.

Appealing to our Elected Representatives

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This is the final of four installments about the bizarre, ongoing conduct of psychiatrists at Upton House, an Eastern Health psychiatric facility in Melbourne, and the collusion with their conduct by all relevant agencies. This last installment will document the failure, so far, of the State and Federal Governments to intervene in even this most extreme and blatant example of abuse of power by psychiatry. If I, as a Professor of Clinical Psychology with 40 years clinical and research experience in this field, can be so easily dismissed/ignored by the relevant systems in Victoria, what chance do the average users of mental health services and their families have of being heard in this State?

He Tenido Un Sueño (I Had a Dream)

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In this piece for La Otra Psiquiatría, Fernando Colina describes his vision for a compassionate, non-pathologizing mental health system. Below is the full translation of his...

Psychiatric Diagnosis Can Lead to Epistemic Injustice, Researchers Claim

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A discussion of the role of epistemic injustice in the experiences of patients diagnosed with psychiatric disorders.
forced treatment

“All for the Best of the Patient”

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For psychiatric ‘help’ to happen by force is a paradox and makes absolutely no sense. It can destroy people's personality and self-confidence. It can lead, in the long run, to physical and psychological disability. My dear daughter Luise got caught in this ‘helping system’ by mistake, but she didn't make it out alive. I'm sad to say I later discovered that the way Luise was treated was more the rule than the exception.

The CHRUSP Call to Action, and Its Significance

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Various instruments of the United Nations have commented on forced treatment, or involuntary confinement, or both (for details, see Burstow, 2015a), and a number of truly critical additions to international law have materialized. Arguably, the most significant of these is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. What makes it so significant? For one thing, it is because this landmark convention puts forward nothing less than a total ban on both involuntary treatment and the involuntary confinement of people who have broken no laws.

University Owes Mistreated Psychiatric Subjects an Apology

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The University of Minnesota recently announced that it is ending the controversial practice of recruiting study participants from patients involuntarily being held in their psychiatric unit. In a commentary for Minnesota’s Star Tribune, bioethicist and MIA contributor Carl Elliot reports that the university has still not apologized to the patient who spoke out against this practice. Instead, “the university has done its best to discredit him.”

Rethinking Public Safety – The Case for 100% Voluntary

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It is time to create an entirely voluntary psychiatric system. International conscience is clear. The singling out of people with psychosocial disabilities is not worthy of a free society. There are better, safer ways to address legitimate public needs.

BPS Releases Review of Alternatives to Antipsychotics

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BPS releases report encouraging behavioral interventions for people with dementia, rather than antipsychotics

When Psychologists Deny Guantanamo Torture

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Psychologist Roy Eidelson comments on the Society for Military Psychology’s criticism of the Hoffman report, which exposed the collusion between the APA and the CIA’s torture program. He writes, “the leaders of APA’s military psychology division have offered a very dark vision for the profession of psychology – a vision that we must reject, both individually and institutionally.”

“A Psychiatrist Opposes H.R. 2646: Here’s Why”

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Writing for the Campaign for Real Change in Mental Health Policy, psychiatrist Coni Kalinowski implores others not to support the Murphy Bill “or any other legislation that encourages the use of involuntary outpatient commitment for psychiatric treatment.” “For 9 years, I trained and worked in Wisconsin where involuntary outpatient commitment has been used to force people into treatment for over 30 years, and I can tell you first hand, it does far more harm than good to individuals, it is very expensive, and it does not address the public health and safety issues that people hope it will.”

Refugees and Immigrants Experience Increased Medical Coercion

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Refugees and first-generation immigrants of African descent are at greater risk of experiencing medical coercion when compared to immigrants of other visible minority communities in Canada.

VA Hospitals Perform Worst on Inpatient Psychiatric Care

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The results of the cross-sectional study show that U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) owned hospitals perform worst on most measures.

Coercion in Care

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To this day I do not know how I found my way back. I think it might’ve had something to do with willpower, as I was NOT going to lose myself. I was NOT going to end up like those people who were living indefinitely in the hospital—those “chronic schizophrenics”, as they say. I was going to find my way back, back to myself.

Child Abuse and Violence Survivors are Being Re-Traumatised

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From The Independent: Recently, psychiatric patients used the hashtag #AbusedByServices to tweet about their experiences being re-traumatized by mental health services. The hashtag reflects the...

Study Identifies Psychiatric Patients at Greatest Risk of Coercion

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In an effort to reduce coercion, researchers isolate associated factors including age, relationship status, location, and diagnosis.

ECT for Agitation and Aggression in Dementia

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The International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry published an article titled Safety and utility of acute electroconvulsive therapy for agitation and aggression in dementia,  which concludes "Electroconvulsive therapy may be a safe treatment option to reduce symptoms of agitation and aggression in patients with dementia whose behaviors are refractory to medication management." But the participants were not a random selection of people taking the drugs in question. Rather, they were individuals selected because of aggressive behavior, most of whom had been taking some or all of these drugs on admission. So it is a distinct possibility that the aggression was a drug effect for many, or even most, of the study participants.

New Medications Fail to Show Efficacy for Alzheimer’s Disease

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Three phase III clinical trials assessing the efficacy of Lundbeck’s investigational drug idalopirdine for Alzheimer’s disease have failed

Foxes Guarding the Henhouse: the Role of the Chief Psychiatrist

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I do not wish to discuss an individual patient. I wish to discuss the conduct of the psychiatrists at Upton House, Dr Katz in particular, who have been responsible for the administering of over 50 ECTs consecutively to a patient, and have reportedly repeatedly restrained this patient to a bed, on one occasion for approximately 60 consecutive days.