Comments by Lauren Andersen

Showing 30 of 30 comments.

  • The thinking behind their misconduct is so ridiculous, isn’t it? You have to wonder what they talk about in their staff meetings. “Let’s treat the patient with drugging, stripping, bait-and-switch techniques, assaults, loud noises, mockery, intimidation, harassment, unpatterned and nonsensical “questioning” sessions, ignored attempts at cooperation, disruption of sleep cycles, deprivation of human essentials (e.g. food, water, sleep, clothing, fresh air, corrective lenses, contact with loved ones), and threats of violence and other punishment… and then surely he’ll feel so much better.”

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  • oldhead, I’m not sure why you say I’m discrediting myself. You don’t believe in a genetic basis for mental illness? If you have several generations of people with depression in your family, like I do, there’s a pretty good chance it’s genetic. The recent research is pointing in that direction too.

    kindredspirit, I can’t have a debate with you if you keep throwing me on your pile of “baddies” and slamming the door.

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  • Leave the hypersensitivity behind, please. By “people like you” I meant patients. Myself included.

    “A lot of the MIA crowd are angry at you” – really, for whom are you speaking? Was there a vote?

    I only look down my nose when MIA stands for “Missing in Action”. Those long term MI patients who whine and moan about their situation, but can’t be bothered to help by returning a phone call, or signing a petition for me, or getting their medical records, or writing to the state office of mental health to request an investigation. I can’t be bothered to help people who refuse to help themselves, unless they can passively absorb my writing. There are thousands of patients who could benefit from my help but I’m only motivated to assist the ones who cooperate.

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  • I just re-read my last comment and realized that it conflicts with my warning on June 14th about “tarring everyone in the mental healthcare business with the same brush”. I don’t want to be inconsistent, so this requires further explanation. Yes, I’m critical of the entire industry, but I think it’s fixable. However, it is in dire straits at the present time — rooted in the 19th century, and riddled with unconscionable practices like human trafficking in the guise of “treatments”. It will take a lot of attention and investment to fix this mess.

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  • Steve,

    I wasn’t criticizing Whitaker at all; I think he’s an excellent writer. I mentioned correlation/causation because in reading studies on effectiveness of psychiatric “treatments” on PubMed and Medscape, I find that many researchers have not sufficiently demonstrated causation.

    The main problems that I have discovered exist in mental healthcare, include — inter alia — poor regulatory and law enforcement oversight, political abuse of psych detention, violence against non-dangerous patients, bad conditions in wards, forced drugging, stripping, retaliatory conduct by staff, improper use of enhanced interrogation techniques and induced regression, use of doubles/covers as staff, improper use of restraints and seclusion, unlawful confiscation of patients’ belongings, inappropriate surveillance, misuse and hacking of Electronic Medical Records, defamation, lack of privacy, misuse of patients’ confidential health information, misuse of FBI’s NICS database to eliminate due process, lack of transparency & accountability, inconsistent regulations from state to state, waiting lists, lack of legal advice and hearings, poor training and management of hospital staff, insufficient budgets, poor system-wide allocation of resources, discrimination, stigmatization, lack of support for self-care, conflicts of interest, predation, malingering, too many mentally ill people held in the criminal justice system, scamming by hospitals and various other ”carers”, high readmission rates, false claims, and doing all of this in the name of “charity”. Do you have anything to add to that list?

    I would like to see a national watch list of worst offenders in mental healthcare. This is a backstop in case the state fails to discipline offending “carers” and hospitals, as New York State and City failed to do in my case.

    I would like to see large scale investment in empowering patients and treating them with dignity, through (inter alia) complementary and alternative therapies, better staff training, patient self-care, integrated care, minimized waiting lists, and helping patients to be independent to the extent possible.

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  • Stewart,

    Yes, I agree it’s a disease of the brain, not the mind. So I find terms like “the New York Office of Mental Hygiene” offensive. It makes itself sound like it’s there to clean up dirty minds.

    The psychiatric establishment doesn’t want the world to know that their business is the biggest con game since slavery, and that you can spend years pouring your heart out to a shrink, paying $250 an hour, only to find that she has taken detailed notes on your most intimate secrets so that she can use them to embarrass you in case you ever sue one of her shrink pals, and that the lawyers and judges will allow them to do that. Even if you’d never been dangerous, and there’s nothing very controversial in the narrative. (Yes, my own shrinks have done exactly that. It’s disgusting.) Who would ever trust a mental healthcare provider of any kind, again? I won’t.

    It’s egregiously unchristian and unethical behavior, but who cares about that in psychiatry? It’s all about the money.

    I hope patients will think twice about what they say to their shrink, after they read my case. I’d advise them to say the least they can possibly say to get their prescriptions. Or make the shrink sign a document saying that they will write down the minimum necessary to treat you, and will never release it under any circumstances.

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  • Steve McCrea,
    Yes I agree, but you have to be careful not to confuse correlation with causation in some of these studies. There are good arguments for a capitated model of reimbursement in mental healthcare, instead of fee-for-service. Hospitals are talking about it but really aren’t doing it yet. There’s too much inertia. Drug companies and pharmacies also make more money with a model in which they get paid per pill rather than per patient. I would like to see more empowerment of the patient, and product and services that encourage patient self-care could help. That should include complementary and alternative therapies.

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  • Robinwren,
    That sounds absolutely blood curdling. The best defense you can have against the System’s abuses is an excellent understanding of the applicable law, in my view. I have met several shrinks in NY who don’t even understand the mental hygiene laws as well as I do, as a patient. I acquired this knowledge in studying the laws for 6 years. ( They lock people up routinely without fully understanding the law that enables them to do so, which has its limitations. So naturally they detain people who should not be detained, and it becomes profit-motivated, or driven by the thirst for power. That kind of poor training and attitude permeates the system, I’m afraid.

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  • I think that one of the most toxic things the MH system does is that by involuntarily committing an individual, and abusing him, it creates an enemy of the system. It creates a potentially dangerous person from someone who otherwise would probably have been harmless. The system didn’t do that to me, but I have talked to others who have felt that way. It is in that way that terrorists are born.

    It also creates dependents — people who are unable to snap out of their victimhood after being abused by the system. Unfortunately, it is financially incentivized to do that, which is why readmission rates are so high.

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  • Sam,

    I do read the radically negative views, even if I don’t espouse them myself. Some unfortunate people have had wholly negative experiences with the System, and I believe that.

    I believe that the mental healthcare system has a long way to go toward ridding itself of discrimination. I read a statistic somewhere from a survey showing that psychiatrists had a more patronizing view of their patients than any other specialty. That is a bad sign. They basically think their own patients are worthless — or only worthy of paying the next bill. Nothing could be more unchristian than that. It’s the attitude I encountered at the hospital in New York.

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  • Actually, I believe in both genetically-inherited and trauma-related mental illness. Both have happened to me. No, I don’t see myself as a “real crazy” if that means being violent, because I never have been. I have been provoked far more than most other human beings have, and I still didn’t become violent.

    “I think most of us without your level of class and wealth privilege understand that we can’t make threats to airline employees with impugnity.” — That makes it sound like I was threatening to punch British Airways staff, which is false. I was only trying to quietly exercise my right to freedom of speech. Anybody should be able to do that.

    I mentioned my privileged background to make the point that this kind of thing can happen to anybody. Psychiatric abuse is not reserved for underprivileged people — it also gets dished out to those who challenge “the System”, as I did. Would this have happened if I hadn’t threatened to call the media to the scene at the airport? I don’t think so. Maybe some more privileged people will speak up as a result of my case and take notice, then we might see some real change. I hope so.

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  • Kindredspirit, I don’t know what you mean by “real crazies”. Did you see my comment above that I have been in outpatient psychiatry (which I call “shrinkage”) for 20 years? I have never been violent, and that is what I see as the distinction. It’s not about social class. Mental illness does not discriminate; it strikes whoever it wants to strike, often the most vulnerable people in society. In many cases, it’s genetically inherited, but people who have hereditary MI get unfairly blamed for symptoms that are wired into their genes.

    Bearing in mind that I was limited to 2500 words, please understand that I am criticizing not only political abuse of psychiatry, but also the practices that the “system” uses on many patients — even when it’s not a political matter.

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  • oldhead, I take issue with your statement. I have been in outpatient psychiatry (which I call “shrinkage”) for 20 years. So, no, I am not a newbie. However, I had never been involuntarily committed before my experience in 2011.

    I say that psychiatry and drugs have helped many people because I am one of them, and I have talked to others.

    I don’t think that tarring everyone in the mental healthcare business with the same brush helps you achieve reform. People who do that tend to come off as total radicals, and are written off by the establishment. Then they achieve nothing.

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  • Yes, in fact I added fraud as a cause of action in my case against the hospital. The legal elements of a fraud claim (at least in New York, and I believe other states are similar) are 1) the making of a statement, 2) the falsity of the statement, 3) an intent to deceive, called “scienter”, or reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity, 4) reasonable reliance on the statement by the injured party and 5) injury sustained as the result of the reliance. Injury can be either physical, mental or financial. Both the hospital Defendants and my insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, committed fraud.

    I recently received from the Defendants a so-called “financial agreement” that they signed on my behalf without my permission, authorizing them to be paid, and another form stating that UnitedHealthcare agreed to pay them for “unlimited days”, which they also signed for me, without my permission. This amounts to forgery, and is clearly fraudulent. Although I do not need this document to argue for a cause of action for fraud, I think it is nevertheless important for the Court to see this form. I never gave Defendants or anyone else permission to sign for me, and there is no power of attorney mentioned anywhere in the records. The form is dated June 13th, 2011, the day after I was admitted. It is highly unlikely that I would have agreed to sign such a form the day after I was admitted, after having realized that I had been duped and that this was not going to be just an “overnight” admission. The signature line appears to say “X Pt 939”, presumably indicating that I was a patient who had been detained under NY MHL section 9.39, and inferring that this somehow allowed them to sign for me. However, §9.39 conveys no such power on a hospital or a psychiatrist. Nowhere in the records do Defendants accuse me of being mentally incompetent to sign such an agreement. These documents had been left out of the package of records that the hospital sent me in Sept. 2011, so they covered up this critical paperwork for nearly six years.

    This technique is analogous to the notorious “card skimmers” (false fronts) that fraudsters place on the front of ATM machines to steal victims’ debit card and PIN numbers, and thereby gain access to their bank accounts. This metaphor becomes even more relevant when the hospital staff involved are not who they seem to be on the surface.

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  • Hi Don.

    I didn’t say more than that in the article because it would have taken up too much of my maximum word count and distracted from the main message. I was involved in a lobbying group in DC in which the large-company members took advantage of me because I represented a small company; our values were different but they had more power. They retaliated against my business when I disagreed with their political stance. The chairman of psychiatry at Northwell is on the payroll of some of these companies, which is an egregious conflict of interest.

    The fact that I was detained ostensibly for not having a passport on me was political in and of itself. Immigration is a political hot button at the moment.

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