Category Archives: Mental health laws

The NYT got it wrong in ‘When the Mentally Ill Own Guns’


Ok. Look, it’s December 29. I’m not in the mood for fancy arse commentaries here today. After all, year-in-year out only a handful of internet pedestrians walk by this site, so I can expect less visitors at this time, the end of the year.

So, the only comment I have about that NYT’s editorial, to which readers are not allowed to comment, is the following:

If this is true…

Most mentally ill persons are not violent, though The Times’s analysis of 180 confiscation cases in Connecticut (dealing with people posing an imminent risk of injury to themselves or others) found that close to 40 percent of those cases involved people with serious mental illness.

then logic dictates that it is the other 60%, the ‘sane’ ones, whom you need to deal with. Those are the ones on whom you need to focus to confiscate their guns if any guns are going to be taken away. Why focus on the minority? The 60% sane ones are a “threat to themselves or others”, that’s more than the 40% who are non-violent mentally ill.

There, I said it.

Happy New Years to all the crazies. Let’s make it our new year resolution to  scare the hell out of the politicians this new year.

 

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Testimony at NYC Council Public hearing on DoITT Open Data


Note: The NY City Council held a hearing to get comments from the public on the first anniversary of the new Local 11, 2012 Open Data law, a law ‘championed’ by Mayor Bloomberg to have a centralized website for all city agencies to publish their activities, rules etc.  The purpose is “transparency” in NY city government. Well, if you believe that Mr. Bloomberg and our city agencies are interested in “transparency”, good for you.

From something which probably was conceived to create profit,  something very positive can be achieved. To create ‘jobs’ (a benefit of this ‘initiative’  claimed by the mayor) somebody has to get a contract to do the IT of this law, in other words, somebody is getting a huge profit from the city, which is the essence of ‘doing business as usual with the City’. Without implying impropriety, the mayor’s business is precisely information technology   and media, so he knows what it takes for doing business here.

But the “people” can turn this around and make this law a power tool for the regular citizens of this city.

That’s what those who testified yesterday are doing. It was an impressive hearing. My salute to Council members Mrs. Brewer and Mr. Cabrera for helping steering this ‘initiative’ the right (shall I say ‘progressive’) way. And to all those (young!) experts on digital, computing and information technology for the outstanding, let me repeat it, OUTSTANDING work they are doing to turn this fictional ‘transparency’ effort into a real transparency tool.

Information is power, go get it boys and girls.

As usual, I was  the one testifying with the least experience or knowledge  about the issue. What follows was my testimony.

Testimony presented by Lourdes Cintron for The Citywide Mental Health Project

New York City Council

                            Public Hearing on Oversight:

DoITT’s Administration of New York City’s Open Data

                                             November 20, 2013

Good afternoon. My name is Lourdes Cintron, the founder of The Citywide Mental Health Project, a grassroots group of recipients of mental health services, their friends and relatives striving to empower consumers to learn to monitor the quality of services they receive in their community mental health programs, among other goals.

We appreciate this opportunity you grant us to contribute our feedback on the topic of the NY City’s Open Data ‘initiative’. There is no data on mental health issues.

 

Technical aspects:

The website is confusing and, in my view, (as it is now) useless for the purpose stated in the law. For example:

a)       The icons for selecting data-format presentation are not ‘user friendly’, meaning they are ‘not enjoyable’. It requires high levels of computer and research skills to figure out which one to select, and once selected, the format is still confusing. I could not use it, even though I do have computer skills.

b)       As it is now, most of the members in my group do not have the skills to navigate this website’s graphical user interfaces if they needed to access the information supposedly available.  This website was designed for researchers, not for the general public.

Transparency issues:

Searching in the “Data catalog” box for mental health data is an exercise in futility. The search for either “mental health’ or “department of health and mental hygiene” gives you, both of them, “NYC’s famous Baby names” and “food vendors without permit”

Also, a search on “311” shows not a single call requesting information about mental health services or a single incident related to it. Almost all 311 reports since 2010 are related to vermin and rats. A researcher could easily conclude that rat infestation has no impact in the city’s mental health. This could matter for policy and budget purposes.

Finally, how is transparency achieved by publishing the names and addresses of citizens who committed minor infractions, e.g. names street vendors without permit, but neglecting to publish the names of big companies CEOs who have defrauded the city in the millions of dollars, like Mark Mazer’s of City Times, for example?

If ‘transparency’ is going to be dependent on reported meaningless data, and if (quoting from the law) “the city does not warrant” the “completeness, accuracy, content or fitness for any particular purpose” of the data published, then this new law is nothing but a…let me just call it a mistake.

Let’s be realistic: there has been not a single government agency in this nation history which welcomes ‘transparency’, especially since 9/11. This website, as it is now, is the latest addition to that historical fact.

Thank you for your attention.

Respectfully,

Lourdes Cintron

Citywide Mental Health Project

Email: citywidementalhealthproject@live.com

Phone: 718-561-8415

Address: 480 East 188th Street, Apt. 7M

Bronx, New York 10458

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.

Important news in the media about people with mental disabilities.


The information in the first headline below is disturbing. It’s another attempt at depriving people with mental disabilities of their civil rights.

The other two are news about how politicians of both parties continue to use people with mental disabilities as pawn for their personal and parties’ political gains. Well, that’s my interpretation of the information in the articles. If you believe what the government wants you to believe, that parity has been achieved…I don’t know what to tell you.

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

Equal Coverage for the Mentally Ill

Rules to Require Equal Coverage for Mental Ills

Paradise lost: US military police ‘state of siege’ is on.


The photo below is from the state of siege imposed in California on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 due to some attack on some cops.  It depicts a citizen trying to get to his home being threaten by the police. The residents in the ‘affected’ area were not allowed to come back to their homes for 24 hrs, homes were invaded by the cops as was done in Boston after the marathon massacre.

When I see this, I feel afraid of the police. As a person with a disability, I’m considered by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) as a ‘possible terrorist’. NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) has probably by now put my name (and yours if you are receiving ‘mental health services’) in the FBI/NSA/ list of mentally ill people to keep an eye on. See my post ( under gun control category)  NY SAFE Act gun law .

What you see in that AP photo could happen to any one of us soon. All needed is a real or staged ‘terrorist attack’ on a cop by a ‘mentally disabled’ kid or adult and BADDA BAM, you have a rifle pointed at your face like that OR  a military boot stomping on your face.

This is NOT Iraq or Afghanistan. This is good ol’ Sacramento, California area.

A California Highway Patrol officer and another emergency responder stop a vehicle at a checkpoint near the neighborhood where a federal immigration officer was shot and three local police officers were wounded during a violent confrontation with a suspect in the Sacramento suburb of Roseville on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/The Sacramento Bee, Randall Benton)

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?

Psychiatric Profiling as Blood Libel | Mad In America


This is Tina Minkowitz’ post at Mad in America. It presents interesting questions to our mental health advocacy community about what is to be done with the current political state of our nation’s mental health system and the prejudism against mentally ill people. Please, take a look at it. Thanks.

Psychiatric Profiling as Blood Libel | Mad In America.