Monday, July 11, 2016

#1. Forcing Psychiatry on Unwilling Citizens is Wrong



This is Day 1 of our 30-day blog (more info here) on the Declaration of Principles adopted by the 10th Annual Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression (Toronto, May 14-18, 1982).  Today we are talking about Principle 1.

Principle 1 reads in full as follows:




We oppose involuntary psychiatric interventions, including civil commitment and the administration of psychiatric procedures ("Treatments") by force or coercion or without informed consent.


Basic Rationale


http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talkwithtenneyInvoluntary medicine, forced on unwilling subjects, is wrong. Psychiatry is a philosophy of human thought and behavior, nothing more.  Its claim to scientific origins and validity has not bourne out in reality.  It’s outcomes, throughout history, are characteristically dismal.  It is the bar stool drunk of modern medicine, always seeking another chance and always claiming that a change in luck is just around the corner.

The fact that psychiatry has volunteered itself as a dumping ground for problems that baffle secular society does not change this.  The world is replete with those who claim solutions to the problems of others. Numerous religions make this claim, and with a better show of success.
No matter how expert or successful, we still require every other human philosophy to appeal to the reason of those it endeavors to assist.  That society has accorded psychiatry special status to force, coerce and control is a social and moral travesty.  It is an embarrassment to principle and reason, that is not worthy of civilized discourse.

Questions for Reflection


We are building this Blog together.  Your lived experience is needed and valued.  It is essential to building our shared knowledge and expertise as a movement.  Please comment on any or all of these questions or in any way that speaks to you personally. 

1. Have you ever experienced involuntary psychiatry - forced, coerced, uninformed, against your will or better judgment - detention, commitment, seclusion, restraint, drugging, shock, psycho-surgery, ‘treatment’, bodily implants, behavior modification, restrictions of freedom, monitoring, reporting, or other interventions or procedures? 
2. What would you like others of conscience to know about your experience? 
3. What about this experience affected you the most?
4. What would you most want to protect others in your situation from having to experience?
5. When you picture yourself in the worst of it, how did you make it through and what made that possible? 
6.  Can you recall a time when someone "got it right"?   What made the difference and why did it matter to you? 
7. What responses from others have been most meaningful or useful to you in your journey?
8.  What human qualities, relationships or resources do you most need, value or long for in times of crisis, conflict or challenge? 
9. Think ahead to the advice you would give to future generations.  What is the smallest change our society could make today that would lead to the biggest future benefit in regard to these issues? 
10. Force is never an individual matter.  The power of the State is only invoked when multiple people are affected:  If we were all willing to make a sincere effort to navigate or transform shared experiences of crisis, conflict or challenge, what new, creative, collaborative, constructive or growth-producing approaches would we be trying out?  

Conference on Principle 1: Postponed


More information here.

6 comments:



  1. I moved to Brattleboro Vermont on February 4, 2015, leaving my home state of Connecticut where I’d lived for nearly 60 years, fearing the horrific psychiatric abuses I experienced in Connecticut hospitals and that if ever I were hospitalized again I would be killed

    Being restrained - 4-pointed as they call it - in leather cuffs that are tightened around the wrists and ankles to shackle a patient to a bed – or being isolated by force in an often freezing seclusion cell must be universally terrifying. Nevertheless, both cell and/or restraints are routinely employed to curb loudness and undesirable behaviors at the Hospital of Central Connecticut on Grand Street in New Britain. I know this because I was subjected to both seclusion and restraints multiple times in the spring of 2014, despite a diagnosis of chronic paranoid schizophrenia, as well as PTSD that was triggered by precisely this sort of thing.

    Bizarrely, the hospital psychiatrist, Dr Michael E Balkunas, treating me at HOCC challenged my PTSD diagnosis. “Patient misperceives her treatment as traumatic,” he wrote in my chart. Well, maybe so, but I don’t know how I can be accused of misperceiving three entire days callously abandoned alone, tied to the four posts of a metal bedstead at U-Conn’s Dempsey Hospital (for trying to escape the locked unit) as anything but brutality, even if it was in the 1990s. I also think it is nearly by definition traumatic to be forced to defecate in one’s own clothing while tied to a bed which is what they did at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living in the winter of 2013. This was after I was told to lie down and place my own limbs in the leather cuffs (“as a consequence but not a punishment”) for walking away from the very same “Side Room” that I had just been assured was “not a seclusion room unless you call it a seclusion room.”

    Again, maybe I misperceived being grabbed and held face-down and nearly suffocated numerous times by staff at Yale Psychiatric Hospital in August 2013, who injected 10-20 milligrams of Haldol, a known drug of torture. Maybe this was just kindliness that I misunderstood as traumatic, maybe it was merely a “psychotic misperception” on my part? Maybe, and maybe not.

    Nevertheless, the fact remains that in the ED of New Britain’s HOCC, a security guard in May 2014, grabbed me by my left shoulder immediately after he was warned by the nurse that it was my left shoulder that had a rotator cuff tear.

    My New Britain chart records that I was admitted to that hospital, and to the IOL and others with a detailed Psychiatric Advance Directive, the first page of which states that seclusion, four-point restraints and forced medication invariably result in regression to “primitive states and severe worsening of symptoms.” It also makes several concrete suggestions how better to deal with me when I am upset. Even though I spent many hours on this document, Psychiatric Advance Directives have no legal clout in Connecticut and doctors can and do ignore them freely.

    Perhaps because of this, HOCC staff literally forced me (“escorted me”) to seclusion and/or restrained me again and again. They took to stripping me “for safety’s sake,” and even though I put up no resistance, they had the male guards spread-eagle my limbs while still naked and put restraint cuffs on without even covering me.

    Is it any wonder that what resulted was someone who would wash her hair in her own urine, defecate on the floor of her room and smear feces on the wall? Yet Dr Balkunas, the director of W-1, the general psychiatry unit at HOCC claimed that my trauma was imaginary. Why? Because treatment cannot be traumatic. He simply never got the connection between my horrendous decompensation and his so-called “therapy.” Maybe he never appreciated that he was torturing me, like a person who ripped the wings off butterflies as a child. Someone like that would not have understood how those creatures suffer either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing, Pamela. Thanks also for your persistence in trying to get this posted. Brutal, powerful, painful -- and still tragically common, almost ubiquitous from what I hear from so many - happening to brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors every day, in every state, and around the world.

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Pamela. I love your writing and also particularly your art work. I am interested in several issues you raise; however, the repeated statements on the part of clinical staff that you were "misperceiving" what was happening to you resonates particularly. I was trained as a clinician and practiced for a number of years. It was my experience that the more advanced degrees one obtains in that area, the more different ways you are taught to say, "You are a psychiatric patient and your perception is wrong." And that is just about all you learn as you go forward. Somewhat recently, a very long term friendship of mine ended. As it happened, this friend of a decade or more was a clinician I used to practice with. The issue was that she asked me to provide elder care for her husband's grandmother while they were on vacation--for free (because, ya know, I don't work, I just do "a little writing on the computer" which I can do from "anywhere"). I was, I think reasonably, curious to know if she now felt she was a "better" class than I, given that she felt so comfortable asking me to provide unskilled labor, including emotional labor, for free. She snapped back that she didn't understand why I always had to be talking about class and seeing everything through that lens when it was obviously my PTSD talking and my take on the situation was a complete misperception. It is pervasive with these people. I don't think they even know they are doing it. Fuck all of them.

      Delete
    3. Hi Sharon, Oooeee! That hurt!!! Yeah, you don't work, of course, you don't because you "just do a little writing" and writing isn't work, naturally, it is , what? Play? Fun? um, scribbling and fingerpainting maybe?..I have heard that one about both writing and art work ad nauseam...and when push comes to shove, people show their contempt plain as day, for instance when they tell me they want to "buy a piece of your incredible art" but when I name them a reasonable price, they gasp in response, "Well, I'm not paying THAT much! It is just a picture after all!" Okay, okay, DUH! But I spend hours upon hours of work on it and materials that I don't even start to figure into each piece, and if they had any idea the "wages" I've earned for any piece I actually did get paid for, well, but they don't. but it is far less than any minimum wage...Because after all, art is "only pictures" and not food, shelter or clothing, or psychotropic drugs that people simply must have or they could not live! (hardy ha ha ha)...I think I may have reached my word count here so I will continue in another comment. But as for your predicament, I think Grannie's eldercare was valued right up there with art work and writing...or so it seems from your tale. A telling moment, that says a lot about this society...We pay billions for those useless pills, but want FREE eldercare, not to mention free art and underpaid writers!!!
      Namaste, Pam
      "There is no negative space, only the shapely void. Hold your hands out, cup the air. To see the emptiness you hold is to know that space loves the world." P wagner



      Delete
  2. 1. Have you ever experienced involuntary psychiatry - Yes, age 19, military - choice of which hospital not whether,forced pelvic exam,choice of ER or jail,tons of pressure to try meds, being told meds were totally reversible which hasn't been true for me, experience effects of uninformed meds that irreversibly changed my life

    2. What would you like others of conscience to know about your experience? The best gift you have to offer is your humanity. The best way to help is to do your own work as a human being, including the hard, hard work of trying to live an authertic life

    3. What about this experience affected you the most? The hypocrisy, judgment and marginalization.

    4. What would you most want to protect others in your situation from having to experience? Hypocrisy, judgment, marginalization.

    5. When you picture yourself in the worst of it, how did you make it through and what made that possible?

    Radical self-acceptance, getting on my own side, determining to see myself and my actions as those of a vulnerable, good-willed human being who was trying as hard as I can and would do anything I sincerely knew would make it better, but who frankly wasnt being given that much in terms of meaningful options consistent with my values by the society I live in; the few kind, eatraordinary human beings in my court who were willing to take my side in this radically accepting kind of way

    6. Can you recall a time when someone "got it right"? What made the difference and why did it matter to you?

    Yes, they stood on my side, when I couldnt, and believed in me when I didn't, my mother, my sister, my brother, some wonderful friends, a few really awesome professionals, = they made all the difference in the world

    7. What responses from others have been most meaningful or useful to you in your journey? see above

    8. What human qualities, relationships or resources do you most need, value or long for in times of crisis, conflict or challenge?

    Acceptance, belief in my ultimate worth and value as a human being, willingness to stand with me in the depths of my confusion and pain; as a last resort, offers of tangible assistance and support when I don't have energy or focus to do that for myself

    9. Think ahead to the advice you would give to future generations. What is the smallest change our society could make today that would lead to the biggest future benefit in regard to these issues?

    There is wisdom in madness - not just for the so-called mad, but for all of society. Mad people are cracking up an dropping out in no small part because we don't see a meaningful life or a meaningful future reflected in the possibilities or values of the dominant culture. This is hurting ALL human beings. We are just the canaries in the coal mines

    10. Force is never an individual matter. The power of the State is only invoked when multiple people are affected: If we were all willing to make a sincere effort to navigate or transform shared experiences of crisis, conflict or challenge, what new, creative, collaborative, constructive or growth-producing approaches would we be trying out?

    Radical acceptance of ourselves and others, radical inquiry into the important messages and meanings of currently excluded voices from all walks of life, including homeless, incarcerated, acggressive, violent, suicidal - all of this, in my experience, is there with a message, replete with potential for learning, new understanding, integration, transformation... We need to talk with and learn from those of us who experience these things. The very people we see as problems hold the key to our shared future, They alone know what is at the root of thsee issues, how and why they came to be, what keeps them going, and what is needed - in terms of attitudes resources and collective will to transform them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. too long ago to come into clear focus now, and that is a good thing. it comes up in time between waking and sleep, like shards of something working itself out of my body. almost 40 years. too much time spent rebuilding myself out of nothing, then accepting that nothing was a gift, the simple-minded asking for something to do, was a prayer that was answered or the whole thing was a pre-ordained destiny by gods that don't care about suffering as the highest value because everybody suffers and there might be something more important.

    still navigating my mind and soul with as much consciousness as i can and as much heart, presence, awareness, love as a reaching out of myself and past misery, at any moment.

    ReplyDelete

Please share your thoughts: