Yahoo news published an article [ “Sandy hook shooting: Was Adam Lanza lashing out against treatment?”] stating that the mainstream media, particularly Fox News, is circulating the rumor that the Connecticut shooter acted out his fear at the possibility that his mother was about to commit him involuntarily to a psych hospital, implying that he ‘snapped’ and went on a shooting rampage because he didn’t want to be hospitalized.
If ‘forced hospitalization’ means against your will, if you know or have heard that people are forced to take drugs, forced into electroshock, treated as a lab subject and other psychiatric beauties, could a person be so traumatized about involuntary commitment as to ‘lose it’?
What that kid did was unspeakable. You can’t look for logic there. But he was the product of our society. If you say that he was terrified of the idea of forced hospitalization, think: why would he be so terrified about it? If the system is fine, the treatment fine, you shouldn’t fear it, should you?
I believe that the psychiatric profession and the mental health system should be indicted for the crimes they commit, the abuses in the name of ‘for your healing’, but I would not consider the evils that they (and the pharma) do as a reason to go killing and call it ‘self defense’. That is not what happened here.
Nonetheless,that indictment will never happen either.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM
This is a highly repressive and brutal system, all behind the curtains because you don’t want to deal with it. Read the reports.
Go ask any person who receives mental health services what they think of the mental health system. Let them speak FREELY. Most of them will tell you that the experience in this system can be terrifying. Ah, but you don’t want to hear it from them. So, they fear that if they tell you the truth, the hidden label they carry (oppositional personality or borderline personality or anger management or confrontational disorder) will be used against them. Everything is honkydory. Uhm.
You need to deal with the system, the psychiatric profession. Repression is not the answer. Sending the mentally ill to fill the prisons and continue the torture there is not the answer.
We are closing hospitals, not because we have solved the problem of mental illness, but because WE CAN’T SOLVE IT. We claim there’s no money, so we close them and send your loved ones to the emergency room and from there, if they survive, possibly to prison. Prisons are our new psych hospitals. Somebody is benefiting from having a dysfunctional mental health system and that somebody is NOT the one who receives the services.
I can imagine, on the other hand, the emotional reaction of the public to those ‘news’ about the possible cause of the tragedy. There must be anger at the mentally ill who do not accept ‘treatment’, who refuses to be hospitalized, because, after all, the ONLY reason for refusing treatment must be an irrational reason. How dare you refuse treatment and go on a killing spree?!
DID WE LOSE THE ARGUMENT AGAINST INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT
For the people who receive mental health services, this public conversation about involuntary commitment is a lost battle from the outset.
First because the conversation is between ‘experts’ and the ‘advocates’ of the mentally ill, together with a lay public who understands very little about mental illness or about the experience inside those great institutions of ‘healing’.
The public’s understanding about mental illness is basically wrapped in stereotypes, prejudices and in the information coming to them from ‘experts’ who benefit from the ‘crazy people’ who populate their profits. Think the pharma and health insurance, non for profit, researchers, prison owners among others. They are all invested in having mentally ill people. The worse the problem, the more you need them, isn’t that the case?
Those receiving mental health services are not included in the conversation about what to do with people like Adam, and yet, they are the ones who have the data about what needs fixing in the mental health system because they suffer those problems in their own skin.
Quality of services are always measured WITHOUT the input of those who receive it. I may be your co-worker, but what right do I have to tell others how bad you keep your house? Only you can talk about your home. Same here: EVERYBODY talks about the mental health system except those who use it.
WHAT MUST WE DO WITH THE TERRORISTS?
And the second reason why we have lost the battle is because this conversation is taking place in a TOTALLY emotional context: a mentally “deranged” kid killed 20 children. The outrage is collective. No one wants to hear you if you have a ‘diagnosis’. The moment you open your mouth to say something they tell you must trust your psychiatrists and take your pills.
Take as evidence of the emotional tone this week’s article in the NY Times equating the mentally ill with middle eastern terrorists [“What moves suicidal mass killers”]. [See my previous post.]
From there on you can only go down; there’s no redeeming quality in those afflicted with emotional problems: they are ALL terrorists because they can ALL snap at any moment. What must we do with the terrorists? Hmm?
PROGRESS IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM: POLICE KILLING UNARMED MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE
But no body talks about the continued history of abuses in psych hospitals, home care institutions (both on the physically and the mentally disabled) and community housing for the mentally ill. Nor about the fact that the chances that your unarmed loved one will be ‘assassinated’ by the police in ‘self defense’ while trying to violently take him or her to involuntary commitment are extremely high. Well, at least here in NYC.
In the new millennium, the NYS Governor, Mr. Cuomo, had to create this year [not 20 years ago] a Center for the Protection of People with Special needs. That center came out, first, of the 10+ years that the NY Times was reporting abuses to the mentally ill and “people with special needs”, including rapes and physical and psychological abuses, with no one in the bureaucracy doing something about it.
Secondly, the Center came on the heels of a court decision in NYS overturning a lower court ruling that the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and some non for profit home care contractor were abusing the residents. On appeal, the higher court decided that OMH was right in arguing that the advocacy lawyers HIRED BY THE AGENCY ITSELF (OMH) had no right to protect the residents because, among other reasons, the residence was unlicensed and the residents didn’t vote to have the advocacy group represent them. Now, that’s ‘crazy’, isn’t it? I’m not making this up nor misinterpreting. The case is Disability Advocates Inc. v Paterson, decided this past April. So, those people are still been abused in the hands of their care takers. Nothing changed for them.
NOSTALGIA FOR THE LOBOTOMY IN THE ’50s and ’60s
You see, I can understand the frustration of those in favor of involuntary commitment about seeking help. We have those frustrations too. We ask for services which are denied or withheld by those who feel powerful over us. Then, when the consequences of withholding services manifest, the system forces the services on you. It’s INSANE.
The problem with those in favor of involuntary commitments start when they start messing up with our civil liberties and privacy.
There are other modalities for help, it doesn’t have to be forced commitment. Historically, forced commitment has led only to abuses. Get on with the new millennium.
But nooooo. That guy, Ferguson, in the article is nostalgic for the psychiatric modality of the 1950s:
But even if people are willing to be committed, it’s not easy to get such treatment, because the US moved away from the asylum system in the 1950s and ’60s, Ferguson says.
Basically, the article speak about the mentally ill from the point of view of those who are not mentally ill. The reference to them is in the third person. And there’s no mention whatsoever about the harm, the prejudices and stereotypes against the mentally ill in the article.
BIG BROTHER AND SISTER TO THE RESCUE
Nothing good for our society is going to come out of this ‘conversation’ as long as you keep the focus only on the mentally ill. We are in times of political and economical turmoil. You have to keep in line or else…
Our NYPD has already started to act on that image of the mentally ill as terrorists. Take a look at my previous post, here is a quote from the NYPD:
“Mr. Kelly said the technique was similar to those being used to spot terrorists’ chatter online. The new searches would target “apolitical or deranged killers before they become active shooters,” he said. [Highlights by me]
We have to change now how we speak online. ‘Say something’ but be careful not to get tagged as terrorist by using the wrong words to do the report.
Out of fear and ignorance, the public is going backwards for ‘protection’. They want to go back to forced institutionalization.
Been there, done that. It was horrific.Think Willowbrook. It happened in NYS again in the late 1990s. You didn’t hear about it. That’s the problem: you don’t hear about it until the damage is done.
Just remember this: your irrational remedies, they will all come back to bite you.
You need to deal with the system, the psychiatric profession. Repression is not the answer.
LISTEN TO US.