The psychiatrist who traumatized me most rises from my past smack dab into my present!

This was written when I was using a pseudonym (Gianna Kali) which I no longer use.

The comments on this post should be read to see how this sudden and unexpected encounter led to release and healing. Some who just read the body of this post only see the conflict and anger. I’ve no particular anger towards this guy at this point in time. The past is the past. Though it certainly came screaming into my present when this happened.  11/2010

An abusive psychiatrist I had 24 years ago showed up in my virtual world and as much as is possible we had a head on collision. PsychRights has a cause page on Facebook. Please join at that link and make a donation if you are a member of Facebook.

In any case I was happily recruiting members for this group as I am a big supporter of the work Jim Gottstein and PsychRights does. For that reason I was checking there frequently and at one point I was shocked to see a doctor who forced medicated me and told me I would die if I did not take meds for the rest of my life. He did other egregious behavior too, breaking my confidentiality in a very gross manner which I will not go into as I don’t want him to figure out who I am. As it is, so far he doesn’t recognize me from my Facebook picture.

PsychRights is explicitly against forced treatment the positions of the organization are listed here:

1. People should not be forced to take psychiatric drugs or given electroshock against their will. Period.

2. People should be told the truth about the harm caused by psychiatric drugs and electroshock and the lack of benefits for most.

3. People should be given choices besides psychiatric drugs or electroshock.

4. The massive, inappropriate and harmful psychiatric drugging of children and youth must be stopped.

This doctor of mine joined and as virtual worlds are strikingly similar to the real world sometimes on an emotional level, I felt like I was in a woman’s shelter for protection and my rapist walked in the door without blinking. I have been raped so I feel comfortable making that analogy.

I wrote him a note and then wrote the owner of the group to let him know what had happened. The owner of the group posted the following notice and this is what went down:

written by the owner of PsychRights on Facebook:

Nature of Facebook/Causes:

Yesterday (a psychiatrist) joined the PsychRights Cause and Gianna Kali posted the following:

(Psychiatrist who will be left unnamed), you forced drugged me at Alta Bates hospital against my will…you also screamed at me and told me I would need drugs for the rest of my life…YES YOU SCREAMED!!

what are you doing here? may I ask….you were wrong. And you treated me like shit.

I won’t forget how you treated me and there is a lot more I won’t say in public right now.

I’ve seen you around and I would never have said a word to you, but to see you here pretending you haven’t been involved in forced drugging is more than I can bare.

Owner of the cause on facebook says:

I’ve asked the psychiatrist for his response, but this serves as a reminder that we don’t really know the bona fides of everyone who joins and everyone should act accordingly.

The response:

the psychiatrist
the psychiatrist wrote at 5:18pm

it’s 20+ years since I practiced at Herrick Hospital at Berkeley I have only come back to Berkeley to live in the past 6 months…and I don’t recall you as a patient….regardless, if you were harmed by me or another psychiatrist, I truly apologize for that…a lot’s happened over those 20+ years…I’ve grown and changed professionally and personally…I now understand and believe that a lot of what we were taught and was acceptable if not expected practice was should have been neither–Coercive treatment is still is an all too many instances) acceptable practice but it isn’t right at all and is in fact harmful. My professional work is now largely dedicated to promoting/assuring client rights/autonomy/dignity and choice–it was in the vein that I joined the PsychRights cause. I certainly meant no harm–only to acknowledge and support people’s rights.

I responded:

Gianna Kali
Gianna Kali wrote at 5:41pm
It was you psychiatrist. It was 1985 and it was you. I never forgot you because you were the pivotal person in my journey that broke my spirit. I actually wrote about you in a chapter for a book that will be published written by psychiatric survivors a few weeks ago. The book will be published within the year. Your name was not used, but you have remained in my memory as the most abusive and spirit killing doctor I had…you did other stuff that would identify me that was completely unethical as well..issues of confidentiality. And I’m a social worker so believe me I know what is appropriate and what is not. In any case you traumatized me so profoundly that I never forgot you. All the other docs during that era are indeed forgotten…I was only hospitalized a few times a week at a time for a period of 3 months because I took hallucinogens. But no one thought that my “psychosis” might be drug induced and so you told me I would die if I didn’t take meds.

I’ve become an activist and I’ve come off all my meds after many years. They have damaged my body profoundly. Oddly enough I’m completely sane…so sorry… I don’t have much compassion for you at this point….can’t find it in me right now.

This man currently holds a very high position in California’s mental health bureaucracy. I am calling for him to make a large donation to PsychRights as reparation for what he certainly did not do only to me. And if he really has changed then perhaps he’ll make such amends. I am not, however, speaking to him again.

***point of clarification: I called the “hospital” in question Alta Bates. He called it Herrick Hospital. Herrick Hospital was the dedicated psych unit associated with Alta Bates and therefore one and the same.

Note: for anyone reading this in the future: this was a healing process for me. I am not hateful, vengeful or vindictive. I do not hate this man. Please read the comment thread to get some sense of the process involved. I’ve had a couple of people who seem to assume I’m inappropriately angry because he gave an apology. These comments came in email for the most part. Posts are snapshots of moments in my life. They do not tell the whole story. You cannot assume a post is the end of a story and I’d appreciate it if people understand that I share only a fraction of what goes on in my life and you really shouldn’t imagine you know me.

The below comments are important.

For more links to correspondence with my psychiatrist look here.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

38 Responses

  1. I feel your pain, Gianna. Psychiatric oppression has caused so much pain and anguish to psychiatric survivors worldwide. It is very difficult to forgive people you expected to help you. We feel that rape of the soul is even worse than that of the body.
    The psychiatrist who destroyed my body and soul is dead but now I would be glad if he sincerely joined psychrights and put his hand on his heart and admitted that psychiatric drugs do more harm than good.

    I feel we need compassion for those who think it is good to force us to do what they mistakenly think is right for our own ‘good’. It is very difficult and may take a long time but then we are truly free.

    I hope this guy will speak out publicly now and help his colleagues to see that forced ‘treatments’ are violent psychiatric abuse. It is outrageous that ‘caring’ people re traumatize the people they wish to ‘ support’ in a violent manner.

    Let those who have committed psychiatric violence apologise to us now.


  2. You know I have often thought that psychiatry needs a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” akin to what was done in South Africa after apartheid ended.

    Given that denying someone’s human rights through forced treatment is a crime under international law (even if the US does not recognize it), it fits the bill.


    1. Darby

      Leah, I agree with you about the need for a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” process for psychiatry – although I know many activists would not think that sufficient for the damage that has been done to people. Still, I think it’s something we might think about.

      Maybe 10 years ago or so I was at a meeting of NASMHPD (National Assoc. of State MH Program Directors – sort of the MH Commisisoners’ trade assoc.) where Pat deegan presnted an very early version of her slide show on the history of psychiatry from the perspective of diagnosed people. A couple of commissioners got up and kind of “confessed” to having participated in harmful behaviors “a long time ago” (like the 1970s) and apologized for that, but there was no acknowledgement that they were still involved in systems that harm people.


  3. Deer

    Whoa…this is heavy stuff. I can’t help but think you were meant to cross paths and say what you need to say. I know it must be painful though.


  4. Wow, as an abuse victim, I can’t imagine how traumatizing that whole interchange was for you. I applaud you for sticking up to this Dr.


  5. psych survivor

    “Gianna, you are very bold and courageous to bring this out in the open. Coercive treatment is definitely a traumatic experience for many of us and you have a right to be angry with this man.”


  6. gianna,
    you have MASSIVE GUTS. i give you a lot of credit. this cannot have been an easy exchange. WOW. it’s actually a fascinating exchange to read, and i’ll be very curious to know if there’s more. thank you for sharing this.

    that was intense to read. i almost emailed you about it. i’ve got a lot of things i’d like to say to some of my past therapists — some of whom were pretty awful — and you said it to that guy, straight up. i think it might throw me off to say those things to my past therapists, but i think it could also be very cathartic and healing. it’s fascinating to watch you on your journey.

    let’s see if this guy has the guts to keep engaging with you. he seems to see himself in a very pious light, and excuses his past behavior on the grounds that he was “following the rules.” didn’t the nuremberg trials make the point that “following the rules” is no defense? hmmm….

    good night—


  7. SR

    “Gianna, Thanks for this. Your courage is inspiring and your story so similar to mine that I again thank you for having the courage to speak out.”


  8. Gianna,

    This comment by him was upsetting –

    “Coercive treatment is still is an all too many instances) acceptable practice but it isn’t right at all and is in fact harmful.”

    I left a private email for him (off Facebook), but would like to repeat the crux of it here –

    It matters not what this man (or any other) has to say about this matter – It’s moot!

    All that matters here is the law….

    If someone is an iminent threat, the matter needs to be taken to court – with a judge and jury (if requested)…..and, iminent threat needs to be proven….

    If they are not an iminent threat, they are free to leave – and can neither be forced to be hospitalized, nor forced to be drugged…..

    Any long disertations by this man (or any other) serve no purpose in the discussion. If he has broken the law, and/or continues to break the law, he (and any other psychiatrist) are in violation of the highest law in the land – specifically, the 14th Amendment of the Consitution….It’s written in pretty plain-English…..

    And so, the question is not whether forced drugging is “appropriate”, “acceptable”, etc…..Those are not dialogues worthy of discussion….The only question at hand is the legality….

    If this doctor, or any other has broken/continues to break the law….Then, they need to be held accountable themselves – given a fair trial….and, if convicted, go to prison.

    Tough words?
    So be it !!!…..

    This is not a complicated matter – It’s actually quite simple…..

    Regarding his half-hearted apology…This late in the game…Forgiveness is yours to give, but amends are something entirely different…..

    Amends come from a person who has asked for forgiveness, and has taken steps to stop doing harm….I don’t see this in psychiatry….So, forgiveness has to come from us – from the inside, towards a profession that has done wrong, continues to do wrong, has not admitted to the injury and death its caused, and has made no real effort to change the course of their behavior…much of which is illegal…..

    So, it is up to each of us to decide whether or not to forgive…I hope you can (somehow) release this man….

    Doing so does not mean hoping that he sees justice – If he did in fact break the law/continues to break the law…it would need to be proven in a court of law….as it should be….

    We can forgive, and seek justice.
    We can forgive and seek peace….In fact, true peace comes with justice.

    What this man has to say is moot…..
    This is not about forgiveness, or even amends entirely….

    This is about the law……
    We are a natioin of laws (not of men).

    In liberty,



  9. kim


    In regards to your rape analogy:

    “I felt like I was in a woman’s shelter for protection and my rapist walked in the door without blinking. I have been raped so I feel comfortable making that analogy.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with you from one rape victim to another. Your experience is very similar to say the least.

    Years ago, I was visiting my grandmother in Ohio. An old high school friend of mine and I went to a shopping center to pick up some things for my grandmother and my friend’s son and all of a sudden, I heard over the loud speaker, “Marty _______ to the shoe dept, please….” and I froze. It was the man who brutally raped me at 15. I ran out of the store. Looking back I wish I would have confronted him, in front of his co-workers and/or boss. But, I was a different person then, heavily medicated, etc.

    I cannot imagine what you are going through. I sympathize with you and think you handled yourself very well. Your comments to him were brilliant and well-written and they will hopefully live with him forever. I am so sorry that a safe place for you was invaded by this man. It saddens and angers me, my heart goes out to you. But, again….great job dealing with him. It took a lot of courage. You are an inspiration to all.

    much love,


  10. Sue Santel-Fenner

    Gianna, I think it must have been destiny for the 2 of you to “meet” again under these bizarre circumstances. I am so glad you got the chance to tell this idiot off. He is trying to act so innocent, give me a break. I think he was trying to add insult to injury by saying he doesn’t remember you. Many psychiatrists think they are gods and want us to bow down and do what they want when they want and how they want. This guy can probably never repair the damage he caused you, but he is exposed now! You should feel so proud and empowered. He needs to do way more than make a donation, he needs a taste of his own medicine, so to speak. I hope this encounter has brought you a little peace and validation that you were right all along. You were traumatized, no one has the right to do that to another person under the guise of a medical degree. Don’t let him traumatize you further. You make us all proud of you.


  11. mike halligan

    interesting comments by the psychiatrist, i suppose he may be working on his recovery? right. i understand your anger and it nice that after 20 years or so you were able to confront your abuser. most people never get the chance or never have the courage to do so. i hope it brings you some peace. there are so many that never get there. i would say you are well into your recovery. stay with it dear lady. thank you for your efforts and concern and spirit.


  12. Hills

    Good for you, Gianna. I am proud of you for standing up for yourself. It’s a shame that the doctor probably doesn’t even realize the massiveness of his actions and truly walked into the room without blinking. His Karma, Gianna, not yours. What goes around comes around and one day it will hit him like a ton of bricks. Very proud of you!


  13. The very Concept of informed consent when applied to Psych Meds – and by extension, their pushers – is an oxymoron. Nobody, would willingly become addicted to Any substance which offers Documented suicide/homicide as part of its Direct, Event profile.

    I’ve a Linked 2nd blog listing the FDA Reported Adverse Reactions on 22 Psych Meds. (top of the page) The data comes from, and can be verified and examined in more detail there.

    Sam @ psychdrugdangers had to file a Freedom of Information Act Request with the FDA to get that data, and that data is the Property of Every American Citizen. It does Not belong exclusively to FDA and Drug Companies.

    It is my fervent hope that Every blogger concerned with the Un Constitutional Abuse known as Psychiatry will copy, and paste those Adverse Reaction reports into a 2nd, linked blog of their own.

    Everyone who visits Any Psych Blog deserves the opportunity to view that information. With the exception of Mr Whitaker’s timeline of antipsychotics, and the UK MHRA link,

    All of those reports are Your “We The People” Property.


  14. silverelf

    Gianna: so sorry for the triggering experience!

    Nevertheless it feels somehow fated…well I’m happy you had the courage to speak up, and I’m even happier, if your abusive pdoc has since renounced his abusive ways and this solidifies his commitment to the psych rights community, that it is a splash of cold water on whatever righteousness he was feeling inside and a reminder that, in fact, trauma can linger for months, years, and lifetimes even if it is carried out under the auspices of “helping someone.”

    I hope that he finds it in his heart to make amends, in whatever incomplete way that he can, and i hope someday you too find the power to forgive him.

    Blessings and thanks for sharing your story….


  15. Shelby

    Of course this doctor said what he did.

    Mine told me he was sorry for ruining my life and then the next appointment said he had nothing to do with my drugged state. He suddenly wasn’t the nice guy any more.
    He also broke confidentiality so many times it’s ridiculous.

    This psychiatrist took the Hippocratic Oath of Healing-Do No Harm. Did he follow it?
    I wonder how you doctor would had acted if it had been just the two of you with no one else around…..


  16. kim

    “our fight is much bigger. I really don’t care about this psychiatrist. This has to do with the triumph over trauma…and my personal process and the need for hundreds of thousands of us to do that same release and healing from trauma, if not millions.”

    very nice.
    all my love to you!


  17. anon friend

    I can’t stop thinking about this dynamic.
    After reading posts I have become more confused.
    This doctor needs to really profoundly acknowledge the traumatic impact he had on your life and bow down to you in apology and respect. He needs to atone. The fact that he doesn’t remember is so heart-breaking. He probably treated many others in the same way.

    At present he has said he ‘truly apologizes’ but I’m not sure he is really taking on board the weight of what he has done (if he can’t even remember… does he really not remember?)

    To forgive our enemies is the single most difficult, challenging and seemingly impossible thing any of us can ever do. It is also profoundly liberating and healing and involves many stages. I know this because it is something I struggle with a lot but am working towards.

    Like when the pilot who sprayed lethal chemical rain (was it agent orange, in Vietnam) and there’s that black and white photo of that little girl running, who survived but had to endure years of physical pain due to her injuries… then years later they met and hugged. That story always amazed me because it was almost taboo.

    With victims and perpetrators there are no winners.

    If there is any way in which I can support you, let me know. You are very brave to engage with this doctor who hurt you so profoundly.
    The fact that he doesn’t really understand, hurts even more.


    1. Michael Hlebechuk

      I also like what Mary wrote. Especially in the light of this man as I have known him. I am familiar with some of the very good work he has done recently. I was oblivious until March 16 of the harm he caused. I am terribly sorry for your having experienced harm at his hands, Gianna.

      Gianna, I am a psychiatric survivor. I have kidney disease related to taking too much lithium over too long a period. I have been abused by psychiatrists in my past. I have been told I would never work, never recover, would be on meds and social security the rest of my life. After 18 hospitalizations, 3 court commitments, and a near death experience, I believe I am well. Recovered. Off meds. Holding a state job as a mental health bureaucrat, consulting speaking at conferences on self-directed care and recovery. Doing rather well. They got it wrong. They hurt me even though most of them sincerely tried to help.

      I cannot know if this psychiatrist was sincerely trying to help when he caused you harm. He may have had malicious intent back then for all I know. But I do know of some of his work lately and consider him a strong ally in promoting self-directed care. His book on Person-Centered Planning is spot on. A great resource. In person, he seems exceptionally sincere. In front of crowds composed mostly of medical model people, he says all the things that I would want for him to say. He promotes recovery, self-direction, dignity and respect among our ranks. He serves as the antithesis of those who promote forced treatment. He has been fighting for us, not against us.

      Which brings me to why I was so heartbroken to learn of your traumatic encounters with this man, my hope is that through bringing this to light, you can come to know who he has become and he can grow through becoming more in touch with his actions of the past.


      Michael Hlebechuk


  18. Ugghhh… good ol’ Herrick. Very familiar with that place. It has gotten a lot better, but they still do ECT even though Berkeley BANNED it (the APA came in and sued).

    I’m glad that you are confronting this a-hole.


  19. Dear Gianna,
    When I read this yesterday, I was so overwhelmed by sadness for you and anger at your doctor that I couldn’t respond. While I wasn’t forced to take medication, I’m so furious about the pain and suffering it has caused, that I couldn’t find the words to comfort you.

    I just wanted you to know that my inability to respond was caused by my own pain. I’m so glad I came back today and could read other people’s comments–which echo many of my thoughts.

    I hope you know that my heart is always with you even when my voice is sometimes silent.




  20. pat

    This must be so cleansing for you G. I can only imagine what it would be like to confront the man who told me “why won’t you just take your medicine!!!” Or even the very first one, who told me I was depressed when I told him I couldn’t sleep. One of the worst things they did was make me blame myself because I allowed them to drug me, and I’m still working on forgiving myself. It may be a while before I can forgive them, especially the browbeating psychiatrist. I was going to say I’d be up all night too, if I went through what you just did, but haha – thanks to these guys, I’m up all night every night for almost two years now! I’m in awe of you and many others who comment here because you so eloquently bear witness to the fact that you are beautiful, you are intelligent and sane, no matter what they did to you. I am grateful to the universe that you G have made it through with your intellect intact so that you have been able to share all this with so many others.


  21. Jan

    Let me say I think we all share in your pain that you encountered when meeting this man again. But what a courageous and justifiable thing you did! It will not be in vain.

    Bravo, Gianna.


  22. I’m sure you feel the way you do. However, his apology sounds genuine and should give us some hope that people can and do change. He had all the establishment telling him what to believe and how to “treat” you. It might even be, though he doesn’t remember it, that your interaction with him was what began to change his mind. We all cling to our systems whether they are good ones or not. You don’t need to forget what he did to you, but this could provide you with an opportunity to practice forgiveness, which in turn will free up your power and energy. And please forgive me if this is interpreted as a betrayal of our friendship.



  23. Jane

    Very interesting exchange. I am really glad you stood up to your abuser Gianna in such an assertive and authoritative way. That must have been tremendously liberating for you.

    Talk about karma. For both of you.

    Which makes me wonder about him a little. People do change and see the error of past thinking and actions resulting from that thinking. I’ve done more than a few things to be ashamed about in my past and perfectly expect at least the possibility of some of those things to rear their heads in the nebulous future

    A donation, while a nice gesture, can only go so far. What would really be neat is if this guy used his position to be an advocate, wrote articles challenging the mainstream and perhaps right a book about the evolution of both psychiatry and his own repentance and how his changes effect his current practice. I think becoming a real outspoken critic and champion of the patient rights would do a lot more than a fixed some of cash.


  24. Sorry, Gianna, only read the article and the first few comments… I wanted to get in what came to mind before I forgot it, you know how we can be sometimes.

    I’m sorry if this doctor’s transformation is not yet complete, and would be sorrier if it never got there… at any rate, I’ll read the rest of the stuff now. I was out on my Netbook when I read this, I’m home now.



  25. yes, Highland Hospital rings a bell. It is where all the “poor” or uinsured people go. The psychiatric unit there is called John George, and it houses the WORST cases of psychiatric abuse I have heard of. Laws broken, all that. It honestly makes Herrick look like Club Med.


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