Perceived madness will unleash unprovoked violence (violation) by cops, authorities etc.

The below are some tweets from this morning I thought I’d share along with an old essay from 2007. Sometimes it feels important to retell these stories. I follow my muse, my inner guidance and do so. I don’t spend so much time thinking about this stuff anymore, but as a writer I’ve found that there are many people who need to hear this from someone else because they think they’re the only ones such heinous shit happened to. Or worse, they have come to believe they deserved the heinous shit because there is no one in their environment to reflect to them their real beauty and any sort of belief in their inherent well-being (we all have that).

The tweets:

I am a privileged, well-educated, middle class white woman, yet, I know some about unprovoked police brutality. …

Once one is perceived as mad one is no longer safe-we become targets of the worst sorts of violence. I was thrown down a flight of stairs…

With no threat of violence on my part, I was thrown down the stairs and then HOG TIED in the back of a cop car. WTF? Handcuffs? Anyone?

I was, of course, freaking out at this point so when they dumped me at the county mental ward they, in turn, laid me out on a table…

The tied me down by my wrists and my ankles and then they shot me up with mind numbing, soul and body killing neurotoxic drugs…

If u think that what happened to me is anything less than gang rape,you’re not appreciating the level of hostile violence I was subjected to

I’ve in fact been raped in the more traditional sense as well and this was actually far worse because it was perpetrated by multiple people (and it went on for far longer)

Such is the mental illness system! Such treatment is guaranteed to further traumatize and harm the already vulnerable and sensitive.

Standard psychiatric treatment routinely retraumatizes which causes more problems. 

***

My Forced Psychiatric “Treatment”

And a collection: Coercion, subtle or otherwise, is the rule in psychiatric care


***

*it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well-educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care.  Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

It’s become clear to me that whenever it’s possible that it’s helpful for folks who’ve not begun withdrawal and have the time to consider a carefully thought out plan to attempt to bring greater well-being to your body before starting the withdrawal. That means learning how to profoundly nourish your body/mind and spirit prior to beginning a withdrawal. For suggestions on how to go about doing that check the drop-down menus on this blog for ideas. Anything that helps you learn how to live well can be part of your plan. That plan will look different for everyone as we learn to follow our hearts and find our own unique paths in the world. Things to begin considering are diet, exercise and movement, meditation/contemplation etc. Paying attention to all these things as you do them helps too. The body will start letting us know what it needs as we learn to pay attention. 

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page. 

Support Beyond Meds. Enter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to or make a donation with PayPal. Thank you!

Rep. Tim Murphy’s Bill Promotes Forced “Treatment” over More Effective and Less Expensive Voluntary Care

Mental Health Advocates Oppose Rep. Tim Murphy’s Bill for Promoting Forced “Treatment” over More Effective and Less Expensive Voluntary Care

Press release from The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On June 4, Congressman Tim Murphy introduced legislation (HR 2646) designed to dismantle the federal mental health authority – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – which has successfully promoted recovery and community inclusion for individuals with serious behavioral health conditions for 25 years, as called for by President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. The bill would replace SAMHSA with a new Office headed by a politically appointed government official, controlled by Congress and robbing people of their civil rights through forced treatment and increased institutionalization.

The bill, a revised version of The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 3717), which failed to pass in 2013, “is based on a false connection between mental illness and violence,” said Daniel Fisher, MD, PhD, of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 35 statewide and national organizations representing individuals with mental illnesses. Study after study shows that no such connection exists. In fact, individuals with mental illnesses are actually 11 times more likely to be victims of violence than is the general public.

Murphy’s bill contains Orwellian examples of doublespeak, such as claiming that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a community-based alternative to institutionalization. “In reality,” said NCMHR board member Joseph Rogers, “AOT is the opposite of a community-based alternative.” AOT is more accurately called Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), under which someone with a serious mental health condition is court-mandated to follow a specific treatment plan, usually requiring medication and resulting in their institutionalization if they refuse. Any effectiveness of AOT/IOC is due to an increase in costly services, not coercion.

Like HR 3717, HR 2646 would interfere with community inclusion by:

  • eliminating all consumer-run technical assistance and statewide networking grants because they would not fit the criteria for evidence-based services despite the fact that peer support is evidence-based;
  • requiring that all grants and contracts be approved by the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in an overreach of Congressional authority;
  • narrowly restricting the activities of peer supporters, thus making peer services strictly an extension of clinical services at lower pay;
  • greatly increasing institutionalization by undoing the IMD (Institutions for Mental Diseases) exclusion, which prohibits the use of Medicaid financing of hospitals and nursing homes larger than 16 beds; and
  • greatly reducing confidentiality under HIPAA.

“We urge everyone to educate their legislators about why they should not support HR 2646,” Dr. Fisher concluded.

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) works to ensure that consumer/survivors have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, and social policies at the state and national levels, empowering people to recover and lead a full life in the community.

CONTACT: Daniel Fisher, MD, PhD, NCMHR board member, media@ncmhr.org; 877-246-9058

SOURCE: The National Coalition for Mental Health Recoveryy

See also:  UN report states that involuntary treatment of those with psychiatric labels is torture

Los Angeles has increased its outpatient involuntary treatment program in spite of UN declaring force torture

Los Angeles CountyEven as we have access to more and more information that links that which gets labeled mental illness to trauma — treatment that exacerbates the trauma response continues to gain legal traction all over the country. This, of course, leads to the epidemic of harm and iatrogenic illness we’re watching happen. See: Anatomy of an Epidemic

Embracing this critique doesn’t mean there is no biological factor to such phenomena…we are holistic beings, so of course there is biology involved too. What it means is the answer does not lie in the biological reductionism that psychiatry espouses and makes up stories about.  Everything matters. Until we start attending to the individual as part of the whole of life, intertwined with everyone and everything, we’ll continue to harm.

So, yes, until we as a society begin to understand the harm we continue to perpetrate in our mental illness system  by picking on our most vulnerable, we will continue to see the epidemic of psychiatric illness because we are directly keeping it alive with such programs.

We need to consider alternatives and to do that we need to have an infrastructure of care that supports alternatives. Right now that does not exist. This doesn’t mean it’s not possible — it means we need to start creating laws and supporting policy that looks at what it means and begin to create it. No small task. The alternatives exist. What we don’t have is a system of care populated by folks who know what they are so that meaningful support can be given to offer such care. Powerful forces (think capitalism and pharma) don’t want it to happen. Let’s make it happen anyway.

Some of those alternatives are listed in drop-down menus at the top of this blog. If you’re curious to what I’m referring to that is a place to start considering alternate ways of viewing the issue of “mental illness” and caring for folks who are labeled. Meaningful alternative care starts with framing the problem differently.

I’m sharing the new item about Los Angeles County and then I’m going to cut and paste a post on forced treatment below.

See:

Los Angeles County launched a small outpatient treatment program soon after Laura’s Law took effect in 2003, but that program was purely voluntary. On Tuesday, the supervisors voted 4 to 0, with Don Knabe absent, to expand the existing outpatient treatment program from 20 to 300 slots and create a team that will reach out to potential patients and manage the court filing process when necessary.

Once the new program is up and running, a family member, treatment provider or law enforcement officer will be able to ask the county to file for a court order requiring someone to undergo treatment. Those who don’t comply can be taken into custody on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. Patients can’t be forced to take medication under the law, although there are other mechanisms for court-ordered medication. (read the rest)

stop forced txThis post is now also on Mad in America, if you’d like to participate in the comments.

And below, more information on force with collected links:

UN report states that involuntary treatment of those with psychiatric labels is torture

 

It’s actually been said before. Maybe this time someone other than the victims will listen.

Human rights are being violated everyday in the USA and all over the world in the name of psychiatry yet hardly anyone cares or believes it’s happening at all.

The UN came out with a report that states that forced psychiatric care passes the threshold of maltreatment to TORTURE.

Yes.

Summary
The present report focuses on certain forms of abuses in health-care settings that may cross a threshold of mistreatment that is tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It identifies the policies that promote these practices and existing protection gaps.

By illustrating some of these abusive practices in health-care settings, the report sheds light on often undetected forms of abusive practices that occur under the auspices of health-care policies, and emphasizes how certain treatments run afoul of the prohibition on torture and ill-treatment. It identifies the scope of State‟s obligations to regulate, control and supervise health-care practices with a view to preventing mistreatment under any pretext.

The Special Rapporteur examines a number of the abusive practices commonly reported in health-care settings and describes how the torture and ill-treatment framework applies in this context. The examples of torture and ill-treatment in health settings discussed likely represent a small fraction of this global problem.

And from the body of the report:

For example, the mandate has held that the discriminatory character of forced psychiatric interventions, when committed against persons with psychosocial disabilities, satisfies both intent and purpose required under the article 1 of the Convention against Torture, notwithstanding claims of “good intentions” by medical professionals (ibid., paras. 47, 48). (the PDF file here)

Update: More from Mad in America:  UNITED NATIONS CALLS FOR BAN ON FORCED PSYCH TREATMENT

In a statement to a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 4, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment called for a ban on forced psychiatric interventions including forced drugging, shock, psychosurgery, restraint and seclusion, and for repeal of laws that allow compulsory mental health treatment and deprivation of liberty based on disability, including when it is motivated by “protection of the person or others.” SEE THE PDF

If you’re not aware of just how brutal and coercive psychiatry can be, it’s well worth understanding. Some of it is so extreme it’s hard for those uninitiated to conceive of  but, sadly, it’s very common.  The bottom line is psychiatry, in general, at best, is subtly coercive. Drugs are generally presented as necessary rather than one, often far less than ideal, possibility for treatment. This means one is made to believe through somewhat more subtle coercion that they have no choice but to take drugs with very dangerous adverse effects that include disabling physical illness and very early death.

I’ve written a response to this a few days after I published this piece: In honor of the woman I witnessed being tortured in a psych ward

More on forced treatment on Beyond Meds:

●  That’s crazy: powerful documentary on the coercive nature of psychiatry –  If you’re not aware of just how brutal and coercive psychiatry can be, you should really watch this. This may seem extreme to those who’ve not seen it happening but it’s very common and the bottom line is psychiatry, in general, at best, is subtly coercive. Drugs are generally presented as necessary rather than one, often far less than ideal, possibility for treatment. This means one is made to believe through what amounts to subtle coercion that they have no choice but to take drugs with very dangerous side effects.

●  Forced treatment isn’t the answer

●  Forced Psychotropic Drugs, Assertive Community Treatment, (in-home forced treatment)

●  WNUSP statement on the Implications of the CRPD on Forced Treatment

●  It’s open season on people with psych labels
please take heed and help educate the dangerously ignorant

●  The chill of forced incarceration and psychiatric “care” (otherwise known as gun control??)

●  Demands that it be easier to involuntarily commit the mentally ill are knee-jerk and irrational

●  (against involuntary “treatment”) The reflexive call for fewer liberties: by Glenn Greenwald who remains lucid in the chaos

●  Robert Whitaker’s response to E. Fuller Torrey. About the rationale for forced psychiatric treatment

●  My Forced Psychiatric “Treatment”

 

 

Let’s stop Murphy Bill (forced out-patient treatment becomes routine)

From:

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO STOP HR 3717 IMMEDIATELY

Legislation proposed by Rep. Tim Murphy, “Helping Families in Crisis,” is a well intended attempt to help parents of persons with mental health issues. However, most provisions of the proposed bill are a giant step back from the trend promoting consumer engagement, empowerment, and self-direction by emphasizing professional dominance on advisory committees. The bill also restricts programmatic initiatives to evidence-based practices therefore frustrating development of innovative approaches, many of which may reflect more active consumer involvement and direction than established practices. The bill will also cut funding to statewide consumer networks such as the (fill your org.), the National Alternatives Conference and 3 consumer-run TA centers. In addition, this bill will also reduce funding to Protection and Advocacy organizations such as Disability Rights of (fill in your state)

Call your Representative NOW (click the envelope to find their phone number) and email your rep.

Why call NOW? The Murphy bill is picking up steam fast.Please Make this call NOW and leave the following message:

“I am (name, city). Tell my Representative NOT to cosponsor HR 3717, the Murphy mental health bill. It would hurt people like me, not help us. This Bill discriminates against people with mental illness. It ends grants that help the most vulnerable people in our district.  It strips our rights and protections against abuse. It will NOT make our community safer.”


(Leave your phone number if you want a return call.)

Please call your Representative TODAY. Your voice counts if you make the call!

To view HR3717 go to http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3717/text

Let’s do this instead:

For more info on this bill visit Mad in America  see this too: UN: US Should “Generally Prohibit” Non-consensual Psychiatric Treatment

See also:  Coercion, subtle or otherwise, is the rule in psychiatric care
  (this must be changed! The UN has determined that forced treatment is torture.) 

 

First They Ignore You: Impressions From Today’s Hearing on H.R. 3717 (Murphy’s Bill)

by Leah Harris


First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.”

—  Mahatma Gandhi

As I walked alone up the stairs to the Rayburn House Office Building this morning to attend the hearing of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on H.R. 3717 – the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act – I thought about how I wasn’t truly alone. In spirit with me were all the people who had experienced scary, coercive, and dehumanizing interventions in the name of help. In spirit with me were all the well-intentioned family members who didn’t want to force treatment on their loved ones, but didn’t have access to or know about alternative voluntary, recovery-oriented community resources. In spirit with me was every mental health provider who went into the field hoping to really make a difference in their communities, but became cynical and discouraged in the face of so many broken systems and broken spirits.

These are dark times we find ourselves in. People with mental health histories are being scapegoated as the cause of the complex problem of violence in our nation. This bill signifies one of the most frightening attacks on the civil rights and human dignity of people with mental health challenges that we have seen in three decades, of that there is no doubt. I won’t give a detailed report of the hearing itself; I won’t go into detail about how Representative Murphy viciously bullied and attacked the people whose views were different from his; you can experience it for yourself here. What I would like to do is to share some impressions, and some reasons for us to be hopeful in this challenging time.

As one can tell by reading the witness testimony and watching the proceedings, the hearing today closely mirrored the impassioned national debate that is currently raging about one of the most contentious issues in health care: the use of coercive interventions in mental health treatment.

For decades, the recipients of forced treatment have been largely ignored in the various public debates about us. We have cried (often into the wilderness) that force is wrong, that it hurts people, and that it is a violation of civil and human rights. But rarely has concern about the use of force occupied the national stage in the way that it does today. (Perhaps we have Murphy to thank for that.)

To me, this is a hopeful development. It shows that we are slowly chipping away at the what I call the “anosognosic fallacy:” the very scientific-sounding, yet unsupported idea that some people “lack insight into their illness;” that a small handful of these people may possibly in the future be a threat to public safety; and thus, they must receive court-ordered treatment “for their own good.” The fact that several Congresspersons could articulate that the bill’s provisions around force were troubling represents a major victory of our civil/human rights and advocacy movements.

Representative Murphy and others at the hearing talked about the tragic situation we find today, where people with mental health challenges are warehoused in jails or wandering the streets alone. But the people who ended up in these horrible conditions did not simply arrive there overnight. Somewhere along the line, they were let down. De-institutionalization policies are typically blamed for this, but as we know they are not the only cause. People in every community in our country are let down every day by exposure to poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, trans-phobia, homelessness, and violence; by patterns of abuse in their families due to unhealed intergenerational trauma; by accessing terrible treatment they were not likely to want to re-experience; by not being able to access any support at all; or by being discriminated against and treated as “less-than” because they had a trauma history or a psychiatric diagnosis. It is tempting, and convenient, to slap a forced-treatment band-aid onto the festering wound of these intersecting oppressions. But beneath, the wound will still continue to seethe.

My heart went out to the witness from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) who described her mother’s tortured descent into madness. The witness arrived at the conclusion that forced treatment could have saved her mother. I have seen this horror with my very own mother, who was compelled to seek treatment for her voices and visions, but found it destroyed her body and soul. I came up to this woman after the meeting and introduced myself, daughter to daughter. I told her my story and said,  “you know, we are not so different, though we are on opposite sides of the fence on this bill. We both saw our parents destroyed. You feel your mother was destroyed by lack of access to services, and I know that coercive systems of care played a significant role in my mother’s death. Can we agree that force isn’t the answer?” To my surprise, she agreed that what we should really be focusing on are expanding options for support for all people. And here is an example of how we can find common ground for collaboration amidst the extremists who call for forced treatment in mental health as the answer to our pressing social problems.

Let’s face it: we probably aren’t going to change the minds of the Tim Murphys of this world. He is determined to discredit the expertise of anyone who does not possess an M.D.

Murphy’s demonization of the Alternatives Conference, a vibrant federally-funded gathering of people who once met the criteria for serious mental illness but have found recovery and vital meaning in helping others to recover, signifies that we are, as Dr. Daniel B. Fisher pointed out here, at the “fighting” stage of the four-step process of social change articulated by Gandhi above. Which, as we all know, is followed by the winning stage.

But we have to do a better job of reaching the hearts and minds of Americans. The fact that the Tim Murphys of the world can dismiss the movement of persons with lived experience of mental health challenges as a bunch of fringe crackpots who want to prevent people and families in crisis from getting support, is evidence of a major communication failure on our part. For too long, we who have been traumatized by abusive families and/or abusive systems have shrunk from fully engaging with families and providers. We talk amongst ourselves about what is wrong, and we are right. But we can’t win this fight alone.

Let’s each of us spend some time winning over some hearts and minds. Let’s talk to people we don’t usually talk to. Let’s engage, engage, engage with our legislators. Let’s engage with all media. Let’s share our human stories with them. What we have on our side is hope in a hopeless time, creativity in a narrow-minded age. Let’s share our hopeful stories about how we regained our lives after our descents into hell. Let’s keep sharing stories about the gifts we have to offer to this world: real, community-based alternatives to force and coercion. Ways that we can really support families in crisis. Voluntary crisis supports such as peer-run crisis respites. Innovative approaches for persons with experiences of psychosis like the Hearing Voices groups, Open Dialogue, or the in-home supports offered by the Family Care Foundation in Sweden. People with experiences of suicide supporting one another to live another day. But these amazing innovations are accessible to so few. We need to be a vital part of creating hope-based policies to create hope-based supports everywhere for struggling families and their communities.

There is no doubt: we are winning. But we can win faster if we cultivate more allies. Family members are not the enemy. Even the dreaded “mental health systems” are not the enemy. Ignorance and fear are our true enemies. These are what drive “shockingly regressive” legislation like H.R. 3717. Ignorance and fear drive force, discrimination, and destructive attitudes towards people with psychiatric histories. Persons with lived experience and our allies can do much to defeat these enemies by sharing our stories, sharing what we have to offer, and building the relationships with “the other side” that will make all the difference in this fight.

* * * * *

A contribution by Leah Harris. First published at Mad in America.


leahLeah writes about holistic, community-based approaches to support those experiencing emotional distress and extreme states; storytelling as a vehicle for personal liberation, human rights, and social justice; and connections between creativity, activism, spirituality, and social change. 

 

More by Leah Harris on Beyond Meds:

People can now be forcibly drugged in their own homes in every state in the country.

The out patient forced treatment bill passed…people can now be forcibly drugged in their own homes in every state in the country.

What tragedy befalls us. This is dangerous legislation.

More:

And from Beyond Meds:

A collection on Forced Treatment (which the UN appropriately calls torture):  Coercion, subtle or otherwise, is the rule in psychiatric care


cutcaster-photo-100161734-Halftone-Black-and-White-Web-Banners

Epic Fail: The Legislation of Involuntary Mental Health Treatment

By Faith Rhyne

Last week, Rep. Tim Murphy (PA) introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013 to Congress and almost simultaneously mental health and disability rights advocates voiced their opposition to the proposed legislation with a statement from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

The bill, as many people who follow what’s happening in mental health law know, calls for the enactment of assisted (involuntary) outpatient commitment laws at the Federal level and is purportedly crafted to ensure the safety of those deemed “severely mentally ill” by giving families, courts and mental health providers increased authority to commit individuals to outpatient treatment. This may involve supervisory case management and compulsory treatment with whatever psychiatric drugs may be prescribed, while also granting family members or guardians the legal right to access an individual’s medical records.

This legislation, were it to pass, would divert funds from recovery-oriented community mental health programs and would expand funding for psychiatric drug treatment, while also undermining existing legislation relating to patients’ rights.

The Families in Mental Health Crisis bill presents itself as being written with worst case scenarios in mind — such as individuals being unable to care for themselves and prone to actions that may lead them to incarceration. In many ways the legislation carries the theme and intent of E. Fuller Torrey’s Treatment Advocacy Center, which is noted on Representative Murphy’s website as being a leading supporter of the bill. “Treatment advocates” communicate that those with “severe mental illness” have needs that can only be met through medical treatments, and that the need for long-term treatment is non-negotiable to the extent that force will be used to deliver treatment as deemed necessary.

It is true that there are some people who do have extreme difficulties in their experiences, and who may be more likely to struggle persistently for a number of reasons — ranging from compound trauma, substance use, abusive psychosocial realities, poverty and other societal oppressions, to all manner of other individual and external factors that impact one’s capacity to be well in ways that are acceptably functional and in alignment with the norms of safety in this culture.

However, people who carry the diagnoses of bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia (all diagnoses which include specifications for a propensity toward states that are clinically identified as psychosis) are not universally likely to be severely and persistently prone to extreme and unpredictable states that impair their ability to reasonably take care themselves. This fact is evidenced by the multitudes of people with these diagnoses who do fine and well within their lives, as well asrespected research indicating that people can and do recover – to some degree or another – if given the opportunity to do so.

There are complexities within all of this, such as; what defines “functional,” and who defines “fine and well,” not to mention the quagmire of complex politics that surround the word “recover.”

Nonetheless, while this legislation presents itself as being “not about most people” with psychiatric diagnoses, it actually does concern the vast majority, as the criteria for patients who would be eligible for mandatory outpatient commitment are not limited to individuals with a history of violence and incarceration; it includes those with a record of non-medical hospitalizations, and those who are unable to take care of their basic needs.

Here are the criteria for “eligible patients,” as stated in the proposed legislation:

ELIGIBLE PATIENT

The term ‘‘eligible patient’’ means an adult, mentally ill person who, as determined by the court —

(A) has a history of violence, incarceration, or medically unnecessary hospitalizations;

(B) without supervision and treatment, may be a danger to self or others in the community;

(C) is substantially unlikely to voluntarily participate in treatment;

(D) may be unable, for reasons other than indigence, to provide for any of his or her basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, health, or safety;

(E) has a history of mental illness or condition that is likely to substantially deteriorate if the patient is not provided with timely treatment; or

(F) due to mental illness, lacks capacity to fully understand or lacks judgment to make informed decisions regarding his or her need for treatment, care, or supervision.

It seems to me that a fair amount of this may be subjective and cautionary. Who is to say that the state that one appears to be in is the state they are in or that the states that people may inhabit for some span of their lives – sometimes only fleetingly – are the states they are doomed to exist within indefinitely or that past behavior predicts future behavior?

It’s all very problematic.

While most people do not have histories of incarceration, many people have histories of “violence” (depending on how it is defined and reported), and many people with psychiatric labels have experienced medically unnecessary hospitalizations* at times when they were not able to care for or had any interest in caring for their basic needs.

A lot of people have thrown objects or said terrible things in states of panic and anger. Some people have had periods of time during which they were so immersed in an isolated and difficult state that they ceased to uphold the functions of daily living.

Experiences such as this lead many people to receive the diagnoses they carry – the labels that determine them to be “severely mentally ill.” However, many people do not persist in these states so severely and unavoidably as the cautionary voices of the treatment advocacy movement would have one to believe.

People can and do recover. Whether this means not experiencing struggle to the extent that one once experienced, or learning ways to live with struggle differently, or to give challenging experiences new meaning and to find new ways of responding to difficult thoughts, feelings, and circumstances –people do recover.

Yes, it is important to find ways to meet the needs of those whose struggles are most profound and, absolutely, families and caregivers must be supported in their efforts to support people who are in crisis. Yes, it is crucial that we as a society understand and seek to prevent acts of violence – including abuse within families, bullying in schools, rape, police brutality, hate crimes, war games and all the other myriad other harms that shape American culture.

Is legislation that mandates outpatient treatment for those identified as having a “severe mental illness” going to meet those needs?

I’d say no.

In fact, I’d predict an epic fail, an utter disaster that may lead to innumerous losses of life and a potential for unspeakably tragic consequences.

The criticisms of the therapeutic efficacy of force and coercion in mental health treatment are significant. While some people identify forced treatment as being helpful to them during times of crisis, many feel that their experiences of forced treatment have been dehumanizing, deeply traumatic, and ultimately harmful, leading to further difficulties and significantly impairing wellness. The mechanics of force are inherently violent, so much so that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has identified common practices in forced treatment – such as restraints – to be torture.

Most people understand the simple maxim that violence leads to violence, that harm leads to harm. How is it then that one would expect to reduce the risk of violence by exerting violence?

While treatment advocates perpetuate the belief that mental health stigma discourages people from seeking support when they are struggling, it is plausible to surmise that many people may opt to avoid seeking mental health treatment because they find the expected treatment to be unappealing and, perhaps, because they fear that they will “get locked up.”

When a system of care uses force, it ceases to be a system of care and becomes a system of authority . . . and most people generally make an effort to avoid getting involved with such systems.

Further, the lasting images of the effects of long-term forced treatment in institutionalized settings and with neuroleptic drugs paint a rather grim picture of what a life as an involuntary mental patient might involve — a lack of choice, a loss of rights and a life sentence of “coping with” and “living with” an endless string of days that exist in the limited haze of erased futures.

The promotion of associations of violence with diagnoses of mental illness in media and rhetoric further contributes to a culture where it would not make much sense to pursue involvement in the mental health system, if such involvement meant that your name may end up in a database and that your every word, movement, and expression might be seen as potential symptoms.

The knowledge that the treatment one may receive has the capacity to make one impotent, diabetic, perpetually sedated and with muscles that twitch and seize, is not a particularly strong incentive to seek the sort of treatment that this legislation would prescribe.

While this legislation seeks to establish the authority of the courts and of families in securing the treatment of those who are not “compliant” – the effect that this may have is that individuals who are struggling may increasingly avoid being identified as having a “mental illness,” which means that they may not reach out for support when they begin to struggle and that they will not talk with anyone. Ultimately, this may increase the risk of crisis in that these dynamics of fear may themselves feed crisis states by isolating the individual, damaging relationships, and leaving one to try to cope on their own, which sometimes works out but sometimes leads to disastrous circumstances.

While families may be supported in having expanded authority over their loved one’s treatment, it is not clear as to whether or not this is actually supportive of families. How much heartbreak has been created in scenarios in which families are led to believe that there is no hope for their loved one, that the person they care for is an imminent danger, that there is no hope?

When family members become involved in forced and coercive treatment, important life relationships are wounded. The effects of being “the sick one” within a family system can be devastating to one’s self-esteem and identity. These phenomena may contribute to one’s experience of struggle, as – to be frank – it can be incredibly damaging to our most basic sense of humanity to live in such scenarios between self and other.

So, what is to be done?

There are a number of practices and modalities that have been shown to support individuals with severe difficulties in recovering to the extent that they are able to establish a self-reported quality of life and happiness and to contribute meaningfully to their communities in some way or another. These practices – such as Open Dialogue, peer support, and the creation of opportunities for individuals to engage in reflective self-determination in understanding one’s own difficulties and learning how to respond to those difficulties in ways that support the life goals one has set – all rely upon the ethos of compassion, acceptance, individual agency, and hope.

While legislation that mandates outpatient treatment for those who struggle most significantly claims to be compassionate – as it purports to seek to secure care for “those who most need it” – the degree to which forced treatment can truly be compassionate is questionable, and involuntary treatment is inherently unaccepting and violates the right to individual agency while clearly flying in the face of hope in its certainty that the only option for some people is indefinite supervised treatment.

As a person who would – unfortunately – meet some of the criteria for “eligible patient” under this legislation, as well as a person who works to support those with complex and persistent struggles, I have to say that the proposal put forth by Representative Murphy and encouraged by treatment advocates is an absolute affront to human rights, human potential, and the dignity of people who struggle within their human experience.

* * * * *

*I find it interesting that the term “medically unnecessary hospitalizations” is being used in this legislation to, presumably, refer to psychiatric hospitalizations.

Are they finally admitting that psychiatry is not “medical”?

I certainly agree, but do find it curious that they would use such wording, particularly when making such an effort to promote the idea that struggles which can be characterized as “mental illnesses” are “medical” conditions.

It seems to me like a bit of a conflict in messaging, though such things are to be expected when one is not entirely sure about what it is they are saying and whether or not it is real.

In speaking about “mental health,” that’s a fairly common phenomenon . . . because we do not, after the billions in research and innumerable social and medical experiments that have been conducted, really have any idea what we are talking about when we talk about mental health.

It’s called a breakdown of shared meaning . . . and it is core to the reasons that people struggle.

last mia

First published at Mad in America

More on Forced Treatment on Beyond Meds: Coercion, subtle or otherwise, is the rule in psychiatric care

The UN has ruled that forced treatment is TORTURE:  UN report states that involuntary treatment of those with psychiatric labels is torture

More Faith Rhyne on Beyond Meds:

Standard psychiatric care is coercive (yes, the United Nations calls forced treatment torture)

There is a sensitive and brilliant piece on Mad in America today about forced and coerced psychiatric treatment, by Faith Rhyne. I’ve excerpted a bit below:

stopforcedtx2-w300h277Why Is It So Hard to Think About Torture?

As a person who has experienced involuntary commitments, seclusion, restraints, forced medication, and intentional humiliation as part of my “mental health” treatment, I am still working through the severe and persistent effects of force and coercion. Being in relational dynamics in which I had no voice and in which I was not treated as a human being with viable thoughts and legitimate feelings impacted my sense of self in ways that were incredibly destructive.

I didn’t have a word for it when it was happening. Torture was something that happened to prisoners of war in faraway places and in terrible movies.

It was not something that happened to young Americans in modern hospitals. (read more)

UPDATE: You may want to go visit Mad in America today as the theme today is torture and forced treatment.

Tina Minkowitz writes: To respond to controversy and resistance developing in response to the recommendation of Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez for an absolute ban on nonconsensual psychiatric interventions, I suggested to use June 26, the International Day in Solidarity with Victims of Torture, to raise awareness and support for the recommendations.  (see more)

I’ve got a page with a collection of links on forced treatment and what amounts to torture on this blog. I am cutting and pasting some of it below:

If you’re not aware of just how brutal and coercive psychiatry can be, it’s well worth understanding. Some of it is so extreme it’s hard for those uninitiated to conceive of  but, sadly, it’s very common.  The bottom line is psychiatry, in general, at best, is subtly coercive. Drugs are generally presented as necessary rather than one, often far less than ideal, possibility for treatment. This means one is made to believe through somewhat more subtle coercion that they have no choice but to take drugs with very dangerous adverse effects that include disabling physical illness and very early death.

A book by Richard Bentall – Doctoring the Mind: Is Our Current Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good?

More on this topic:

●  UN report states that involuntary treatment of those with psychiatric labels is torture

●  In honor of the woman I witnessed being tortured in a psych ward

●  That’s crazy: powerful documentary on the coercive nature of psychiatry –  If you’re not aware of just how brutal and coercive psychiatry can be, you should really watch this. This may seem extreme to those who’ve not seen it happening but it’s very common and the bottom line is psychiatry, in general, at best, is subtly coercive. Drugs are generally presented as necessary rather than one, often far less than ideal, possibility for treatment. This means one is made to believe through what amounts to subtle coercion that they have no choice but to take drugs with very dangerous side effects.

●  Forced treatment isn’t the answer

●  Forced Psychotropic Drugs, Assertive Community Treatment, (in-home forced treatment)

●  WNUSP statement on the Implications of the CRPD on Forced Treatment

●  It’s open season on people with psych labels
please take heed and help educate the dangerously ignorant

●  The chill of forced incarceration and psychiatric “care” (otherwise known as gun control??)

●  Demands that it be easier to involuntarily commit the mentally ill are knee-jerk and irrational

●  (against involuntary “treatment”) The reflexive call for fewer liberties: by Glenn Greenwald who remains lucid in the chaos

●  Robert Whitaker’s response to E. Fuller Torrey. About the rationale for forced psychiatric treatment

●  My Forced Psychiatric “Treatment”

 

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page or scroll down the homepage for more recent postings. 

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