Sunday, March 26, 2023

Comments by s_randolph

Showing 46 of 46 comments.

  • For over 20 years, my law practice has been entirely devoted to confronting and defeating psychiatric coercion. Szasz was right: absent involuntary commitment and the insanity defense, psychiatry as we know it will wither away.

    These two legal institutions are the only things we need to change. When psychiatrists cannot any longer force their services on unwilling “patients” or excuse criminal behavior with the authority of courts, they will start looking for more honest jobs.

    All of my experience as an attorney in the Illinois forensic mental health system convinces me this is by far the single most viable strategy.

  • I would be honored to help, in anyway I can as an Illinois attorney, in the type of class action lawsuit that Bob Whitaker is proposing. There would be sub-classes, I think. I could recruit some plaintiffs for a couple of those (forensic and other involuntary patients and their families). Anyone who wants to collaborate in this, please get in touch!

  • Although I believe from long personal knowledge and involvement in Marci’s case that Cindy’s version is true and accurate, the only thing this article leaves out is this:

    Marci has proven beyond much doubt that she is unwilling or unable to get other people on her side. She can’t or won’t stop fighting everyone… long enough to change their minds. Perhaps this is what keeps her alive. But on the other hand, perhaps she owes society and her peers a better effort, given the crime for which she was found NGRI.

    I hope very much that she will win her current petition for conditional release, but regretfully, I doubt that she will.

  • As an attorney who has practiced, since passing the bar in 2001, exclusively in connection with “mental health” issues (and actually finished college and went to law school for no other purpose), I will offer a suggestion that may seem simplistic, but isn’t.

    The only necessary projects are: 1. outlaw forced “hospitalization” and “treatment”; and 2. eliminate the insanity “defense”.

    All else will follow automatically. Psychiatry as we know it will wither away. This was the most practical insight of Thomas Szasz, which people tend to overlook in favor of (or in opposition to) his philosophy, which is far more entertaining.

  • Excellent rules and framework for learning from others in a complex, emotional situation. Maybe you should moderate the whole U.S. political conversation. (Think how well THAT would pay!) Thank you in advance, Steve, even if I get “moderated” at some point in the future, which is not at all unlikely.

  • Your service is invaluable, and your 10 things learned are all brilliant (especially numbers 7-10). I’m an Illinois attorney, working entirely with forensic (involuntary) psychiatric “patients” who want to stop taking the drugs. I only wish you were in the Chicago area! Practically every client I’ve ever had needs or needed your advice.

    If we can ever collaborate on anything, I would be honored.

  • BRAVO!! Abolition is indeed the most vital element. However gradual or careful it should perhaps be, it must happen and it must finally be absolute. To paraphrase Lincoln, we must work “…until every drop of blood drawn with the psychiatric lash is repaid by another drawn with the antipsychiatrist sword.”

  • I have represented forensic psychiatric “patients” for 15 years. I go to their monthly treatment plan reviews, advocate for their preferences with their treatment teams, and litigate for them in the criminal or mental health court system. This is my entire, full-time law practice in Illinois.

    I can honestly say that no forensic “patient” who is released into the community on a presumption that he or she has gained “insight” and will therefore continue to take psychotropic medications will ever do so, if they can possibly avoid it. Every one of them will stop taking meds as soon as they believe they can get away with it.

    The “insight” they gain in the institution is all about how to lie convincingly, even to themselves. Nobody ever believes, deep down, that the drugs are restorative or good. They only know that it might be difficult to stop taking them. Sometimes they look for someone to blame for that, and for revenge.

  • The injustice and irrationality of the “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity” (“NGRI”) defense is manifest, as is the brutal nature of involuntary (forced) psychiatric “treatment”, in this case.

    However, it’s worth understanding that Marci’s release cannot be accomplished by trying to re-litigate the original criminal trial. She will need to convince her captors that they want to let her go now, and that this will be less problematic than keeping her. One way to do this is to demonstrate to them (the clinicians on her state “treatment team”) as consistently and as convincingly as possible that she is no longer mentally ill and dangerous. If they are unanimous before the court, saying they’ve cured her and believing they deserve credit, the court will rule for release. A second way to accomplish the same thing is to create so much trouble (bad press, civil lawsuits, etc.) that the system finds a way to get rid of her out of self defense.

    These two strategies appear to contradict each other most of the time. Unfortunately, that tends to add years to the commitment. However there is no magic solution. The public and the law do not consider that a child homicide just happens by mistake, and they are reluctant to blame modern medicine or litigate against the massive wealth of pharmaceutical firms; they want to convict some individual of murder, and they normally target the person with the knife in her hand.

    Marci was railroaded to the NGRI verdict, but at the time the public defender probably believed he was doing her a favor. Marci deserves huge credit for knowing better than to buy the orthodox psychiatric view of her situation. She got herself off all “medications” with no help from anyone. She deserves justice. Her captors deserve to be exposed for their corruption, tarred and feathered and ridden out of history on a rail.

    It may not be a short road, but Marci is as tough as they come, and she’ll make it to the end. We all will owe her for it when she wins.

  • Excellent work, Dr. Moncrieff! As tedious as it may seem, this kind of patience and persistence cannot fail to have an effect. Of course, the sooner the better, and every day the scam and the damage continues is too long…. But the bio-psych side just has to hope the critics will go away, or that some “research breakthrough” will save their profession. Neither will ever happen.

  • Bob, I’m afraid that your final question, “How can this institution (psychiatry) be moved to a place of curiosity about the soaring disability rates for the patients it treats?” is based on a false presumption. The institution of psychiatry doesn’t actually treat patients; rather, it owns slaves.

    Any individual psychiatrist may treat a particular patient, and the individual might be moved to curiosity in regards to that human relationship and its positive or negative results. Some individual psychiatrists might have great influence in a social or political context. But they usually want the machine that grinds out their status and their pay to keep running, and their curiosity will only be stimulated in the context of individual concerns (their own, or those of specific patients). There are so many individual minds to change: that’s the hill and the boulder rolling up, falling down. But there are also key individuals: identifying them is a bulldozer to alter the severe topography.

    In the early 1960’s people felt the same way about Southern segregation and Jim Crow laws as we feel about psychiatric slavery today. They “put their bodies on the gears and on the wheels, and on the levers and all the apparatus” and they made it stop. Those machine remnants of chattel slavery in the USA are dust now.

    The institution of psychiatry, as we know it, will be dust, perhaps sooner than we can believe. Your work, along with that of others, is already making the machine howl. We just have to keep on keeping on.

  • Bravo Phil Hickey! Please, please keep saying these things. Allen Frances clearly means to save psychiatry with his faux “criticisms”. In the face of the Inquisition, he would have been an advocate for better methods of torture and more accurate identification of witches and non-believers. And (dare I say it?) in the face of the Final Solution, he might only have asked for better documentation of geneology.

  • The clearest dramatization of the fear narrative may be in state institutions where forensic patients whom the courts have judged not guilty by reason of insanity or unfit to stand trial for violent crimes are involuntarily confined. Of course society has a right to protect itself from people who have a record of hurting others.

    Ironically, in these quarters there is a complementary social narrative of help, equally false, vital and self serving for the status quo. We convince ourselves that we are “treating” rather than punishing those whom we cannot blame because they had too little control over their own harmful actions due to mental illness.

    Do we fear our own desire for retribution as much as schizophrenia? Are we granting psychiatry power because we think it makes us more humane? Madness is madness, in its full variety of shapes and colors.

  • Thank you for your work, and for your whistleblowing against the psychiatric hoax. It occurs to me that the best target is psychiatry’s facility under the law to force their “treatment” on individuals. I have spent the last thirteen years as a lawyer in Illinois, advocating for a universal right to refuse psychiatry. Even the “worst of the worst” — those who have successfully pled “not guilty by reason of insanity” for violent crimes — are entitled to this right. My calculation has been that if I can make it difficult enough, or stop state psychiatrists from coercing even the most violent criminals into “treatment”, then I’ll probably be able to stop them from forcing it on anybody. And if they can’t force their “treatment” on anybody, psychiatry as we know it will certainly wither away.

    Your voice could be eloquent persuasion against Rep. Tim Murphy’s bill (HR2646, the so-called “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015”). It is ironic that under a rubric of preventing violence, a new law could encourage states to put more people on drugs that cause violence! Murphy’s call for more “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AKA, forced psychiatric drugging/shock) plays all too well with a public who blindly and mistakenly believe in the larger hoax, which you have so succinctly identified.

  • The issue of drugs is pretty fundamental. People have to be much freer to take or not take drugs, and they have to be much more responsible for the effects and consequences. (E.g., if I may propose:

    Our irascible desire for quick fixes to human problems that we turn away from and refuse to confront will forever work to psychiatric slavery’s advantage.

  • Wonderful point about CERTAINTY, Alex! Combine that with a sense of the culture of bureaucracy and the problem of states going broke (I’m from Illinois), and leverage may come from using the system against itself: tying the legal processes regarding forced meds or commitment or property rights in knots, conducting discovery, dragging it out, costing public employees more of their bosses’ budgets, making them all do even more paperwork (and simultaneously making them worry more about putting anything on paper)… just reveling in the utter inefficiency and confusion of it all, making it an all-out non-violent war of total attrition.

    And all the while, take EVERY opportunity to find that occasional individual who is respectful and will listen. That’s where the moral persuasion and the certainty of individual truth takes a heavy toll against the enemy. They must be in lock-step to maintain their lie. Consider that every slave they lose to the nobility of recalcitrance, and every mind we change, is a real disaster for them. We have forever: they have to retire soon and their pensions are unfunded.

  • WONDERFUL article, thank you! Abolition is precisely the correct construct. And btw in that regard, Allen Frances seems to me to be protecting his own investment in psychiatric slavery. His recent plea to end “civil war” among the various advocates for the mentally ill is a classic strategy: he almost certainly means to undermine and delegitimize abolition.

  • In theory the defendant chooses to plead NGRI, and must prove it. Also in theory, the prosecutor’s job is to obtain a guilty verdict — so NGRI is a loss for him/her.

    In reality, a criminal defendant with any history of mental illness is often defrauded and bullied into the NGRI plea, by a public defender or private attorney who just doesn’t want to put in the effort required to win a not guilty verdict or to negotiate a more reasonable plea bargain. “NGRI” quickly and cheaply disposes of ugly cases — or at least that’s how it looks, from the short-term view of the legal system.

    Defendants may initially think they’re getting an easy sentence to a “hospital” rather than to prison, only to find out later that being “treated” psychiatrically is its own grim punishment, and prison would have been a more honest bargain with society, not to mention a shorter term.

  • If forced psychiatry were abolished, true “consensual” psychiatry (of which there is really very little anymore) would probably wither away. At the very least, psychiatry as we know it today would be unrecognizable. It is simply not viable without a background of state coercion.

  • Thank you for this brilliant piece! I’ve spent 13 years as an Illinois attorney advocating for and representing NGRI “patients” in the Land of Lincoln. Almost nobody wants to think about violent criminal psychotics who have evaded criminal punishment by getting “hospitalized” instead. These people are enslaved, for profit: that’s the simplicity of it as your article brings out so well.

    And exactly as in the past with African chattel slavery in America, everyone is happy to turn their eyes away and believe it’s what’s best, it’s what the slaves deserve or better than what they deserve.

    I am an abolitionist. This is NOT what’s best for anybody. It’s a cruel and dehumanizing racket, and guess what? It hurts those of us who blindly pay for it with our taxes more than anyone else.

  • Your last paragraph seems to me the most important. I intend to do this in Illinois!

    It’s worth considering that, whatever the reasons may be for researchers’ tendency to ignore the implications of their own evidence, there must still be some explanation somewhere, for the actual correlation, more psychiatrists=more suicides.

    I suspect that when psychiatry pervades a culture, human dignity is degraded by the theory that everything an individual ever thinks, feels or dreams is a mechanical product of brain function; that when we look in the mirror we must admit we are staring at a machine, nothing more!

    If you generally degrade humanity within a culture, individuals will have less hope and more disgust for themselves and their fellows. Hence, more suicide and more violence.

  • Oh my god, Laura, this may be your most brilliant piece ever! Thank you so much for your writing. You’re right up there with Tom Szasz and Mark Helprin for me — just incredibly, incredibly talented…

    I recently took a 2-day “Mental Health First Aid” course, mostly out of curiosity about the very clever marketing of that whole scheme. Their obsession with preventing suicide was certainly the defining motivation of the program.

    But oddly, the instructors repeatedly endorsed respect for non-Western cultures where attitudes about mental illness and values are different. This was an obvious contradiction to me, though they didn’t seem to have the slightest awareness of it. While I would probably react like most Americans if confronted by somebody’s active suicidality (i.e., I’d probably try to “save the person’s life”), I am at least aware that in many other times and places, coercive interference with a person’s choice about life and death would be deemed rude at best, or perhaps criminally offensive.

    Anyway, you just totally nailed it in this article. I’m passing it around to everybody.

  • Yes, Jim Gottstein is a good friend of mine, and a VERY smart lawyer.

    You’re spot-on with your “those people” analysis. It always amazes me that the media never notice that most advocates for “better access to treatment” are not the people who would actually receive it — they are always people who want someone ELSE controlled, but will never take any direct responsibility for it themselves.

    I think anyone who advocates for “assertive community treatment” and other coercive, TAC-type schemes, should at least do his or her own stint in a state nuthouse, to find out how full leather restraints and forced shots of Haldol really go down. Up close, “those people” seem a lot like real human beings.

  • Wonderful, high-hopeful post, Laura, thank you! I have half a dozen clients I will print this out for. Please think of me when you follow up on your second-paragraph parenthetical. I’ve spent over ten years as an attorney, primarily advocating for and representing individuals who are subject to court-ordered “treatment”. It is certainly a human rights issue, but it is also a serious public policy problem. In Illinois, hundreds of involuntary forensic “patients” cost taxpayers $800/day each – for what? They are only becoming more dangerous rather than less, to the extent that they’re not simply disabled from the drugs beyond any point where they can do anything at all. Modern psychiatry is the most destructive social phenomenon since the Inquisition.

    S. Randolph Kretchmar

  • Excellent article Paris! I’m sending it everywhere. I hope you’ll be around as a dissenting voice for the whole APA event this month in your fair city.

    BTW, I saw this article the other day, and it seems to me that the researchers’ advice about the term “bullying” is at least as applicable to “mental illness”.

  • You are an honest man, and for that you have an opportunity to help combat the worst offense against liberty and human dignity since the abolition of chattel slavery in America.

    I have spent my 12 years as an attorney working in Illinois state psychiatric institutions on behalf of every individual’s absolute right to refuse psychiatry.

    Everything you have written is true, in spades. I hope you will stay where you are, and find ways to fight for abolition from inside the system. I would like to help you if I can.