Human Rights And Psychiatry 101

What are human rights?

Once again we need to define our terms. Human characterizes members of the genus homo, the only surviving species of which is homo sapiens, or a species of human identified with its wisdom or sensibility. Rights are defined, at the Yale University Library online in Definitions of Words and Phrases Commonly Found in Licensing Agreements, as:

Rights: Powers or privileges granted by an agreement or law.

Human beings then, by agreement or by law have agreed that these powers and previleges belong to them as a species. Disrespecting these rights, therefore, is a matter of not treating a human being as a human being should be treated.

According to Wikipedia:

Human rights are “rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled.”

According to the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy:

Human rights are international norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of HUMAN RIGHTS

: rights (as freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons.

According to Amnesty International:

Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or other status.

Human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty and freedom of expression; and social, cultural and economic rights including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, and the right to work and receive an education. Human rights are protected and upheld by international and national laws and treaties.

I particularly like the wiktionary definition because it defines human rights as rights we should have, not rights we necessarily have now. Enforcing laws enacted to ensure that human rights are protected was what the civil rights struggle was, and still is, all about.

The basic rights and freedoms that all humans should be guaranteed, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.

Civil rights according to the Free Dictionary Online are:

Personal liberties that belong to an individual, owing to his or her status as a citizen or resident of a particular country or community.

Obviously citizenship rights are related to, and have to do with a recognition of, human rights.

This idea of human rights grew out of the eighteenth century enlightenment idea of natural rights. Natural rights held that the law of the cat was not the law of the bear, and thus it would be unfair to treat cats like bears. According to the rules of natural order, it would be tyranny to treat human beings in the same fashion that other species lower on the evolutionary scale might be treated.

What does this have to do with mental health treatment?

Much mental health treatment historically and today involves violating the human rights of people in treatment. One glaring example of this violation is seen in the delineation of a patient’s right to treatment that ignores that patient’s human right to refuse such often harmful and invasive treatment. Treatment that is, in point of fact, often maltreatment.

Mental health law itself represents a gross violation of human rights in that it is seen as a civil matter insuring that mental patients don’t have the same rights to due process that are accorded suspects in criminal justice proceedings. People in mental health facilities then end up being imprisoned through kangaroo hearings on the basis of the word of psychiatrists while suspects in criminal cases are held to be innocent until proven guilty in a trial by a jury of peers.

Civil commitment is imprisonment. Imprisonment is a violation of the human right to liberty. The rationale behind this imprisonment is that it has something to do with medical treatment. No other branch of medicine imprisons people. Any medical value imputed to imprisonment is very questionable at best.

If a person under civil commitment order refuses to take psychiatric drugs, sometimes the facility has its own hired goons who physically restrain the person. These hired goons then will inject the restrained person with a psychiatric drug in that person’s buttocks. This physical restraint is assault, a criminal offense, and it is a violation of that person’s human rights to security of person and liberty.

A person’s human right to security of person, or safety, is routinely being violated in mental health treatment through the standard use of psychiatric drugs that destroy physical health. One’s right to life is also being violated through the effects of these psychiatric drugs where, according to recent studies, people in mental health treatment are dying on average as much as 25 years earlier than the general population.

One human right we speak of is a person’s right to informed consent. Consent is seldom informed when the information being provided on a drug’s effects are usually a drug manufacturing companies glossing over of the facts of the matter. Nobody, as a matter of fact, usually explains the potential for damage that exists in using the drugs typically used in psychiatric treatment. Consent then is seldom truly informed, and iatrogenic disease is epidemic, in some measure, because of this human rights violating failure to inform.

People who have had their rights violated by having alleged mental health issues used as a pretext for imprisonment often then have to deal with a continuing set of human rights violations that have a lasting impact on their quality of life. This imprisonment endured constitutes a disruption of whatever life the person had going before imprisonment, and rather than being compensated for this imprisonment, usually the person who has had his or her human rights so violated is then billed for the abuse.

Companies and schools screen for mental health issues, and employment opportunities are often minimal following psychiatric imprisonment. Housing is also restricted, sometimes to what amounts to an extension of the institution where one was initially imprisoned. This prejudicial mistreatment constitutes further violations of one’s human rights to property, freedom, equality, and/or pursuit of happiness that must be considered when we look at effective counteractive and corrective remedial measures.

We use human rights to seek redress from human wrongs. If power corrupts, checks are needed against abuses of power that come of this corruption. Forces within democratic societies often seek to expose human rights violations perpetuated under totalitarian regimes while downplaying those human rights abuses that might occur within their own countries boundaries. As psychiatric institutions are where we hide our unwanted citizens, psychiatric institutions aren’t always open to the kind of exposure and scrutiny they should be receiving. Social justice has been slow to arrive where such abuses have taken place, and human rights violations continue to be commonplace in the practice of psychiatry.

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2 Responses

  1. You can’t discuss human rights with a coercive psychiatrist. For one thing he has declared war on what he wants to think is mental illness. But he won’t admit that he has declared war. That’s lie number one (apart from the likelihood that he has lied since he was weaned). So he does what he does and lies about everything he does and says and thinks. And he lies about everything he hears and sees about anybody else. If he tells you the correct time of day he is lying. He’s a lie on legs, an evil infant with some of the ability of an educated adult.

    • True, and where non-coercive psychiatrists exist they tend to be in private practice. I haven’t seen psychiatrists declare war on what they say is “mental illness” so much as I have seen them worship at its altar. What is somebody else’s horrible situation is their bread and butter.

      Conventional medical model psychiatry goes way too far in regards to generalizing about psychiatric states. They’ve concluded that something called “mental illness” has a tangible existence, and that it’s some kind of brain disease without ever finding a disease in the brain. They’ve also concluded that its basis is genetic without ever confronting the prejudicial nature of doing so. Once psychiatrists were the leaders of the eugenics movement, and now I’d say eugenic type thinking still permeates their profession.

      It has never been the heart that governed the psychiatric trade, and this has been a real problem with it. You can’t, as the slogan goes, put people over profits when you have no real feelings for them. Seeing people in terms of function and deterioration is missing the fact that you have a living creature before you, and it is missing the fact that this creature is an unexpendable human being. Where this blind spot exists in the eye of the psychiatrist people are being destroyed.

      Bureaucracy is no way to treat a human being, and bureaucracy has a great deal to do with what mental health treatment is all about. The government has to deal with so and so’s emergency, etc., and it does so in its conventional way. This conventional way doesn’t work very well. I’d call it an obstacle of sorts. Ingenuity is figuring out a way around it.

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