Category Archives: media/stigma

Under cover of law: Extortion as punishment and the high cost of stigmatizing the mentally ill


From the Washington Post

D.C. woman’s number of 911 calls prompt city to request that she be given a guardian

At stake in this case is that the state (D.C.) wants to take the money (SSD checks) of this person and the only way to do it is by stripping her of her civil rights. The excuse for this atrocity is that she calls 911 “too frequently”.

The ´disability´in mental disability is in how society perceives the illness and the person bearing it, it is not the actual symptoms or manifestations of the illness that matters. You are not accepted as a functioning member of society if you are perceived as ´disabled´.  The disabilities movement have tried to show that if you put ramps, for example, they are not a ´burden’ to society  and can function and work like any other person. Clearly, the refusal to put a ramp was what caused these people to be ‘disabled’.

The same with mental illness, well, they don’t need a ramp. What I mean is that, portraying the mentally ill as a ‘burden’ is stigmatizing and it is what causes them to be ‘disabled’. We have to thank our States’ mental health system for their  good work at impressing that stigma in the public.

In this post I try to show, with this article,  how the process of stigmatizing is achieved by our government, nation-wide.

Anatomy of a stigma

The issues or problems stated by the D.C. officials in the article are:

1) Repeat callers to 911

2) …well, there’s no #2 nor 3 or 4 for that matter.

Unburdening society of the burden of people with mental disabilities: make them non citizens.

The only real issue that the officials can present in this case is the frequent 911 calls by one person. They have to deal with it as with any other situation.

The rest of their ‘reports’ constitute only unfounded accusations using mental illness as the basis to legally punish and extort money from Mrs. Rigsby by declaring her incompetent. Her crime: being mentally disabled.

This is also, and very important, a test case to be applied in the future, if they succeed, to other people with or without mental disabilities: using guardianship to punish people who use services “too frequently”. All they have to do, if you are not mentally ill,  is tag a label of a a mental illness with the help of psychiatrists, who are always at hand for the job.

I can see nothing more stigmatizing than the officialdom and the psychiatric and mental health systems abusing their powers to conjure a lie using mental illness as the legal basis to deprive people of their civil rights. In order to do all that, they have to paint the mentally ill as a burden to society. That’s EXACTLY what these people are doing here. Just see how many times the word “burden” was used by them in the article.

The article states that there are “concerns from D.C. officials about the impact of one woman’s troubles on public-health and safety resources” and “repeat 911 callers have long been identified as burdens on the health system and a drain on public-safety resources.”

Shared delusions of Impending doom

As stated in the article, there have been NO research AT ALL about how ANY repeat callers, let alone this woman in particular, has an impact on the resources. That explains the fact that D.C. official speaks ONLY of a “concern”: “concern that if [a supposition, it hasn’t happen yet in all those years] if crews are tending to Rigsby, the next 911 caller with an emergency might [another supposition, hasn’t happen yet either]get a paramedic from a farther distance, said Miramontes, the medical director…“There will come a time [another supposition, that time has not come yet] when one of these [frequent 911 callers] will call and they will [nope, not yet] cost someone else their life,”

These are all words meant to portray the mentally disabled as a ‘burden’. There’s no concrete EVIDENCE they can show that would cause them to have the concern that, if they don’t take this woman’s civil rights away, the system is about to collapse…unless they share with Mrs. Rigsby the delusion of “impending doom”, as the psychiatrist thought she may have.

But, no, they are not delusional. They are simply conspiring to abuse the power given to them by the citizens and commit the crime of extortion under cover of law.

 

First lie: it’s all in her mind

They allege “that Rigsby, 58, has bipolar and borderline personality disorders and does not have the mental capacity to handle her medical affairs.”

The implication all along the article is that her illness is in her mind, except that “About 40 percent of the time, she dials 911 on her own. Other times, she’s out in the District when passersby see her fall and call for help, the testimony indicated.”

So, 60% of the times “passersby” make the call because they see her fall; clearly, it’s not in her mind for other people have witnessed her problem.

This case is a hands-on experience on How to Stigmatize People with Mental Disabilities.

Second lie: she uses the services EVERYTIME she calls 911.

In the article we find that “About 55 percent of the time, she refuses to be transported in an ambulance and signs a waiver allowing emergency responders to leave.” Clearly, less than half of the call-events end up in her being transported, this shows that the officials are exaggerating and lying about her.

Third lie: they are trying to save the city money (by spending millions)

That’s a good one. Hundreds of thousands of $$ will be spend on a court case, the city will be spending thousands on a neurologist for an expensive neurological test to prove she’s crazy, thousands on a psychiatrist and other “mental health experts” hired to lie in court on behalf of the city…she only ‘owes’ $61 grand after so MANY years, for crying out loud!

In addition, a guardian cost money to the city too because she doesn’t have enough $$ to pay for care at home. If they send her to a home…

Fourth lie: Mrs. Rigsby, not the system, is a burden to the city.

Well, if more than half the times she calls (55% of the times) she REFUSES to be carted away, that means that she is CONSCIOUSLY trying to NOT burden the system, but that’s not what you get from the article.

What they don’t elaborate in the article is that she REFUSES to be carried by the EMS, that’s the word they used, REFUSES. That means that they TRIED to take her just because they showed up, even though she is refusing. We don’t know whether she offered to go on her own, must likely, but it is clear she REFUSED to be taken by ambulance. Why are they making her look like an unreasonable person?

Well, without the unreasonableness, without the ‘crazy’ there’s no stigma and no stigma means no power over her because the truth that it’s all an abuse would be clear to all. Ergo, she must be made to look crazy, unreasonable and a burden.

When you read the comments posted for the article, EVERYBODY is taking as true that she is mentally ill and a burden to the system simply because the ‘officials’ say so. Her words don’t count.

It’s not about the money; it’s about the civil rights

“If the District’s petition is successful, the medical guardian could take responsibilities for such things as hiring a home health aide, filling prescriptions and proposing a different living environment. But it would still be possible for Rigsby to dial 911 because the guardian would not be a live-in caregiver.”

The issue of ‘repeat calls’ will not change. The problem is one of quality of services.

Cutting funds and leaving the communities dependent on punitive measures to squeeze money for services, or to cut expenses by criminalizing the poor and the mentally ill is the correct way to break our society apart.

We spend trillions on wars. That’s all I have to say.

The DSM-5: The Book of Lamentations


The Book of Lamentations, by Sam Kriss at The New Inquiry, is an imaginative analysis of the psychiatrists’ bible, the DSMx (Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), criticizing it as ‘a failed dystopian novel’. The most enjoyable analysis of psychiatry I have read in a long while: insightful, well-informed and funny.

Vincent van Gogh Corridor in the Asylum (1889)

To me, that ‘diagnostics’ book is nothing but a “manual” for becoming rich by creating  lab-rats for the pharma, the for-profit prison system and the psychiatric system that feed on these victims. The DSM might as well be on the Forbes  list of top ten best-selling books on ‘how to make yourself rich fast by sticking labels to other human beings’.

Below is an excerpt of the essay. (My thanks to Doris for the link.)

“It’s also not exactly a conventional novel. Its full title is an unwieldy mouthful: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. The author (or authors) writes under the ungainly nom de plume of The American Psychiatric Association – although a list of enjoyably silly pseudonyms is provided inside (including Maritza Rubio-Stipec, Dan Blazer, and the superbly alliterative Susan Swedo). The thing itself is on the cumbersome side. Over two inches thick and with a thousand pages, it’s unlikely to find its way to many beaches. Not that this should deter anyone; within is a brilliantly realized satire, at turns luridly absurd, chillingly perceptive, and profoundly disturbing.”

 

Man sets himself on fire on the Mall


Man is critically injured after setting himself on fire on the Mall

WARNING! Image that may be considered disturbing by some people is included in this post.

In the USA, contrary to Europe and the Middle East, the  visible evidence of the consequences of the war on the working class unleashed by their elected law-breakers…um…I meant to say law-maker’s policies, is not the working class seen in the streets fighting their corrupted elected politicians and their police-state. No. In the USA, the visible evidence of that class war is the disintegration of the public mental health in the form of self-immolation, increase in suicide rates, increase in ‘mass shootings’. It’s not ‘chemical imbalance’, it’s mental illness due to political imbalance. Mental illness  in healthy societies is very low and not a problem to that society.

This  evidence of the  increased mental deterioration of our people is what our president callously referred to as that pesky

ritual that we go through every three or four months

I know you don’t like to hear this but, our president’s and law-breakers (in both houses of Congress and both parties) laws redistribute our wealth up to the billionaire elite of Wall Street, to the war-mongering arms dealers and builders, the health insurance industry’s CEOs, the pharma and to the surveillance industry’s CEOs (among other privileged elitists) through trillions of dollars spent in contracts. This leaves the public safety-net destroyed when we need it the most.

The ignored-by-the-media epidemic increase in homelessness, usurious loan interest rates that guarantee the debt will be unpaid by an unemployed working class, the trillions in student loan debt that guarantee the students will not have a living-salary because the interest is prohibitive, veterans returning home without health and mental health services, all of this and more can have ONE guaranteed result: trauma to the mental health, individually and collectively.

But there are TWO public expressions of this problem: class struggle in the streets, as in Europe and the Middle East, or collective and individual depression expressed in self-directed violence and/or spontaneous, unplanned violence against the society. This last one is the one the law-breakers fear because they know it can turn into class struggle in the streets with THEM as the target.

Soo, before that happens, they and their media have DISCONNECTED from the public view the chain that ties  the INCREASE in ‘mental health issues’ to the economic and political war on the working class, and put the blame on mental illness as a threat to society, with the mentally ill turned in the public eye into a ‘terrorist’.

http://thoughtcatalog.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/pavss.jpeg?w=584

Famous photo of Vietnam era Tibetan monk protesting the war.

Self-immolation has got to be the most extreme form of political statement. The Tibetan monks used it to protest the Vietnam war and even today. We have yet to see why that man in the mall here in the US set himself on fire but, whatever the reason, it’s a bad omen of the extreme effect this ‘economical crisis’ is having on our people.

These laws taking away the civil rights of people with ‘mental illness’ are NOT created for your protection. They have been created for the protection of the elected officials and the banking and financial elite AFRAID of what may happen to them when we finally wake up.

People, the medicine we need is ‘the people united’ putting the fear in the elite’s heart.

On criminals, terrorists, and crazy men Part2


Yesterday I opened a post about my views on mental illness and dissent in the USA.Today I look into how this connection was continually been made for us in TV programs.

The entertaining ‘terrorists’

Springer, Geraldo’s crazy politics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until 9/11, it was an imperative for the government, and the big financial interests it represents, to paint a picture of the USA as a happy nation, the spectator of a world in chaos, but not touched by it. The USA was above all that racket. We don’t have coup d’état in the USA, Kennedy’s assassination was the act of one and one man alone, no conspiracy was found there. It was a ‘common crime’. Neither did we have here racism a la South Africa.

Likewise, it was unwise to tag McVeigh as a ‘terrorist’; it would have messed with the idyllic vision of the US as a happy united people. There were NO TERRORISTS in the USA, land of the free; only crazy power-thirsty cultists, Nazis, Puerto Rican and Black separatists (meaning PRican liberation movement and Nation of Islam) fanatic sympathizers existed in our midst.

In the 1990s, TV shows like Geraldo, Ophra, Maury Povich and Jerry Springer helped paint the idea that these political groups and their views were laughable abnormalities, inconsequential and entertaining, not to be taken seriously. They could even be helped with therapy and kumbaya, as Ophra tried, because, after all, you have to be ‘crazy’ to be in one of these groups. Except that, what was crazy here was not the person but the political ideas of these people, the idea that the US government’s policies could be considered so oppressive by groups of people that they would choose to separate from it. (I’m not siding nor supporting any group here.); the idea that racism was coming only from the KKK and Black racists.

Political dissent in the USA was unofficially diagnosed FOR the public opinion through these programs as a crazy act, an irrational act. Officially it was diagnosed as ‘oppositional defiant behavior’ in the DSM bible. We were allowed to think that the root of these people’s problem was ‘social’: bad parents, poverty (usually the ‘white trash’ and ghetto members were the invitees), etc but never was the US politics and policies considered as factors. Are you crazy? Hell no! There was seldom serious discussions about these problems.

All these TV programs, my friend, represent the corporate art of ideological propaganda’.

Then came 9/11, the game changer.

“Under current United States law, set forth in the USA PATRIOT Act, acts of domestic terrorism are those which: “(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; “against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

Tomorrow I will discuss this new definition of ‘terrorism’ and compare it to the old one (in the earlier post for you to do the comparing on your own) and get into the scapegoating of mentally ill people as terrorist. It’s right there, in the highlighted part. Can you see it coming?

Americans Fault Mental Health System Most for Gun Violence


Interesting Gallup poll.

One thing: according to the poll, Americans have NOT change at all, since 2011, in their believe that the “failure of the mental health system to identify individuals who are a danger  to others” is the MAIN cause of mass shootings (48%). But, there was a REDUCTION of 6% since 2011 to 2013 in the amount of people who believe that guns are the culprit. The question is Where did those 6% put the blame now? Evidently their change in perception is NOT reflected as an increase in the category of people who believe that the mental health system is to be blamed.

Surprisingly enough, Democrats are MORE likely to believe that guns are NOT the main culprit (51%), which brings the question: Why is the Dem Party so intent in ramming down our throats gun control laws as a panacea to this problem? As I showed in my previous post, Obama stated that the MAIN reason we have ‘ritualistic mass shootings’  is because “we” (the public) refuse to adopt “firm background checks”, a sad and absurd statement from the president of “hope and change”.

“Independents” are MORE inclined to blame guns than republicans themselves (44 vs 49% respectively).

This all leads me to believe that the Democratic Party PREFERS to blame guns so it doesn’t have to explain Why are they cutting funds for mental health services while the American people understands that bad quality of mental health services is the main cause of mass shootings.

If we were to accept that Gallop poll as valid, then these would be some points for the mental health advocacy community to consider:

1. Is the NRA succeeding in its message that guns are not to be blamed for mass shootings?

2. Is blaming the ‘mental health system’ equivalent to blaming the mentally ill individuals? That would be disastrous for us.

3. How can the mental health advocacy community take ‘advantage’ of the believe that the mental health system is the main cause of mass shootings? This point ought to be ‘exploited’: demand REAL reform in the mental health system NOW. While mental illness is NOT the ONLY reason for mass shootings (wars, national economy, environment of police-state, home foreclosures by Wall Street, joblessness, homelessness and many other social issues are part of the problem of mass shootings),  we could focus on QUALITY of services as much as on QUANTITY as a response to mass shootings.

We must battle against ALL background checks that stigmatize the mentally ill. Background checks are NOT the answer, not even enough to accept them TEMPORARILY because, once the legal damage is done, we can’t fight it for the next 50 years.

I’m a skeptic when it comes to polls, but, given that Americans tend to ‘buy’ them,  it would make sense to take advantage of this one.

 

Obama predicts shooting in 3 months


Obama made some remarks yesterday (Sept 17) in the Spanish tv station Univision which I consider APPALLING. I bring them for your consideration here because, hopefully, I misunderstood said remarks, and you can clarify them to me. Feel free to post your comment.

This is my transcript, you can hear him directly  in the video below. Highlights are by me and my comments follow below the vid.

“The fact that we don’t have a firm enough background check system is something that makes us more vulnerable to this kind of mass shooting…uhm…I do get concerned that this becomes a ritual that we go through every three or four months where we have these horrific mass shootings and yet we are not willing to take some basic actions we know can make a differenceUltimately, this is something Congress is gonna have to act on. I have now, in the wake of Newtown, initiated a whole range of executive actions, we put in place every executive action that I proposed right after Newtown happened. So I’ve taken steps that are within my control. The next phase is for Congress to go ahead and move.”

Now, my reactions to each of his ‘compassionate’ statements.

1. Obama says that the reason we go through this “mass killing every three or four months” is because background check system is not “firm enough”. That’s it. That’s all that needs to be fixed, our background check system. Even George W. Bush was more useful to the mentally ill people than this president we have now. After all, it was W who gave us the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health and the super important ADA Amendment Act of 2008.

I challenge ANYONE to tell me how has Obama gone above and beyond what W did for the mentally ill people. FYI, I’m not a republican (rather die)  nor do I support nor sympathize with W. But, to Caesar what belongs to Caesar

2. Also, Obama says that we are more “vulnerable to this kind of shooting” because of lax background checks. The implications: mentally ill people make this nation “more vulnerable”, and mentally ill people MUST be ‘firmly’ checked.

Given the path our government has taken, since Obama came to power, towards a surveillance state branding every citizen or group that it considers ‘subversive or dissenting’, these ‘background checks’ are bound to apply soon to any mentally ill person, whether or not applying for guns. NYS Office of Mental Health has started the trend already. See my post ‘NY Safe Act:…

3. The “ritual”. Now THAT was interesting. Was that scripted? Or was it ad lib’ed? Wow. Is he talking about mentally ill people having a ‘compulsion’ towards mass killing? Is he EXPECTING a mass shooting by,er, December or January 2014?

Funny thing is that, IF that’s what he meant, that mentally ill people have a RECURRENT death wish, why can’t he prevent the shootings? Evidently he expects them to happen consistently every three or four months. Does he expect that this compulsion and RITUALISTIC behavior can be stopped with “firm background checks”? HELLO. IS ANYBODY AT HOME!?

4. Who is “we” in that “and yet we are not willing to take some basic actions we know can make a difference.”? Is he blaming the public because they don’t want laws that are clearly oppressive and fascist? Or is he blaming the NRA supporters? It could help if he were more CLEAR. I think he is blaming BOTH. The “basic actions” entails depriving people who visit a psychiatrist of their civil rights, just to protect “we”.

5. And then there was the throwing of the towel. He is basically saying that he ‘tried’ to do something but, because “we are not willing to take some basic actions” he can do no more. It’s “up to Congress to move”.

That is THROWING THE TOWEL. He’s doing it because you voted against his gun law this year. He doesn’t care anymore, is what he’s saying. ‘Deal with it’ is what he’s saying.

Well, I’m going now to prepare my post for December’s mass shooting.

See you later.

The D.C. shooter and the other victims: the mentally ill people


OK. Keep moving; there’s nothing else to see here: it’s only dead people killed by an irrational mentally ill person.

I withheld my tongue when this incident was reported, waiting to see how long it would take the ‘officials’ to determine that it was just another case of an armed lunatic roaming free among us.

Until today, they were at a loss, running around like headless chicken trying to figure this incident out. Was it a terrorist plot? Was there more than one lone shooter? RUN! STOP THE PLANES FROM FLYING OVER D.C.!!

This is what happens when you don’t have ‘accurate’ gun listing profiles, I mean, reports; you can’t control the loonies. That’s the focus now, again.

Two things stand out (in my view) about this case: 1) the use of mental illness as an argument to justify policies in favor of arming/dis-arming citizens and 2) the stigmatizing of mental illness as a simple explanation to a problem that clearly has to do with the failure of the nation to provide QUALITY mental health  services, especially to veterans. I will discuss these now.

1) The use of mental illness as an argument to justify against or pro-gun rights policies.

The knee jerk reactions are the usual: we need guns because there are too many armed crazy people out there (NRA and Republican Party preferred argument), or we need to ban guns for the same reason (Democratic Party preferred argument). Either way you cut it, the mentally ill is the culprit.

In other words, the mentally ill is a political token to be used to settle a political issue: Constitutional gun rights. Our society can’t possibly engage in this issue using ANY other type of arguments. Not moral arguments, or about compassion, or about the economy, or about the crimes of the arms dealer and builders industry…no. It has to be settled by trampling on the rights of ALL the mentally ill persons in this nation, by vilifying a whole class of people who suffer neglect and powerlessness just because they are mentally ill.

This man, who committed this crime, seems to had been a walking ticking bomb for many years; that’s the impression that NOW the media and the police want you to stick in your mind. Based on the info that we are now receiving, he may had been ill, but NO ONE ever did anything to HELP him, not to punish or ostracize him, but to help him get services. That’s the payment we give to our soldiers when they come home. We let them boil in their PTSD and wait for them to do what EVERYBODY knows is going to happen. We do it because the national debt forces us to pay to Wall Street and cut mental health services. But no one talks about that NOW. NOoo. It’s the loonies that need to be thrown in a modern psych hospital (our prison system) and be forgotten there.

2) How easy is to explain this mass murder once you stick the label of ‘mental patient’ to the incident. NOW they understand.

You see, the Washington Post did its usual manipulation of info to help you arrive easily to the necessary conclusion. First, it described Alexis having a clearly paranoid episode, which happened long time ago, and then followed it immediately with this quote, which was made before we knew about Alexis’ mental illness:

“What caused this individual to kill so many innocent men and women?” Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, asked at an afternoon news conference outside the local FBI field office.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to answer that question using the previous paragraph describing the paranoid episode. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how the mainstream media practices the art of opinion shaping through EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION.

But that’s not all. The mainstream media is in a ‘damage infusion’ mode, forcing us to conclude that Alexis was a lunatic DESPITE him having also had a history of good deeds. It’s the process of enforcing the stigma rule.  For example:

a) his military achievements and recognitions are devalued in order to keep him stigmatized as a mentally ill person, unworthy of any recognitions:

“He received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, awards of minor distinction”

“the Navy mistakenly said he had received a general discharge, a less-desirable category that would have indicated to future employers that there was something amiss with his performance.”

 Notice in the second quote how a dishonorable discharge is surreptitiously  equated with mental illness, and in the process implies that mentally ill people should NOT be hired.

b) other people’s good opinion about him become less important, and bad opinions AFTER THE FACTS become more prophetic:

“Those who knew Alexis in recent years describe him as a “sweet and intelligent guy” (a regular customer at the Thai restaurant where he had been a waiter) and “a good boy” (his landlord), but also as “very aggressive,” someone who seemed as though he might one day kill himself (a lay worker at the Buddhist temple where Alexis worshiped).”

c) and other people’s abuses pass as ‘insignificant’ and not contributing to Alexis’ losing it:

“The woman told police that Alexis had complained several times that she was too loud. She said he had confronted her a few days earlier in the complex’s parking lot “about making too much noise,” according to a police report.”

I’m sure that if you live in NYC, you know how ‘maddening’ a loud tenant above you can be. But we don’t question how disruptive that woman was, how did she contribute to him ‘losing it’.

d) and finally, how the system ignores the people’s need for mental health service to later blame mental illness itself as the problem. Mental illness is NO problem to society when we stop pretending that we are servicing people and actually put the money where the politicians mouths are.If we treat the people when they need it, we don’t have mass killings. And if we keep people employed we don’t have mass killing either. Neither if we stop spending money in “stupid wars” for the benefit of arms mongers, oil barons and Wall Street banksters.

We know that our politicians reward our veterans with homelessness and lack of medical and psychiatric services. Alex was a veteran. The signs where there but, as usual, no one did anything about it:

 “and it was unclear whether the Navy had sufficient cause to push forward. So when Alexis applied on his own to leave the Navy in early 2011 with an honorable discharge, the service granted his request, the official said.”

They had the opportunity to deal with him BEFORE he lost it. But they didn’t.

“Alexis also had an angry streak that flared often enough to create an arrest record in three states.”

Idem.

“Alexis’s father told detectives then that his son “had experienced anger management problems that the family believed was associated with PTSD,”

“He did not like to be close with anybody, like a soldier who has been at war.”

And the verdict:

 “Nobody could have done anything to prevent this except Aaron Alexis,” he said. “Maybe he snapped. I don’t know.”

This will not stop. Our society has failed to face the reality that mental illness is the product, not only of any physical disturbance, but of how our society is ordered, how we prioritize the use of our public wealth and resources.

Given that we prefer to pay big banksters for usurious loans instead of putting the money where it belongs (in the public service) we will have to continue blaming mental illness as the number one mass killer in the USA.

Prevention is incompatible with paying the debt. You gotta make your priorities.

See you in the next episode.

My sympathies for the relatives of the victims, as always.

I blame our government for this new social pain.