Broadmoor Psychiatric Inmate Finally To Get Hearing

Here’s a good one for you. This psychiatric inmate at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire, England, a high-security facility used to imprison people labeled criminally insane, is making a bid for his freedom. The story appears in The Independent under the heading Historic hearing begins into Broadmoor patient seeking his freedom.

Albert Haines, 52, is seeking to be discharged from Broadmoor Hospital after nearly a quarter of a century detained under the Mental Health Act at high- and medium-security facilities. He insists that doctors misdiagnosed him and that he would pose no threat to the public if he were to be released.

Almost 25 years, wow, a whopping quarter of a century, confined, and this man insists that he’s not, if he ever was, the raving maniac they take him for!

His doctor has a different opinion on the matter.

“My clinical view is that Mr Haines is presenting with paranoid psychosis, in the sense that his preoccupation with the injustice he believes the psychiatric system has caused him is out of proportion with reality,” Dr Romero-Urcelay said. “He believes that we are persecuting him”.

Let’s see. After nearly 25 years confinement Dr. Romero-Urcelay and the staff of Broadmoor are persecuting Mr. Albert Haines. Actions, after all, and inactions, speak louder than words. Enough said.

What is his offense? What is he in for?

He was first brought to Broadmoor in 1986 after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted wounding. In 1992 he was moved to Three Bridges, in Ealing, a medium-secure unit where he spent 16 years before being moved back to Broadmoor after a series of confrontations with staff.

You’ve got to be kidding! 25 years for attempted wounding!? His case represents an extreme travesty of justice if I’ve ever seen one. In the USA we would call this kind of maltreatment cruel and unusual punishment. Cruel and unusual punishment has been outlawed by the US Constitution. Therapy is not a good pretext for cruel and unusual punishment.

In a statement given to the tribunal, Mr Haines explained: “I am labelled as having a mental disorder which I do not accept. So long as I am in a psychiatric setting I will be seen as a patient who needs treatment. Everything I do or say will be interpreted on this basis.”

Perhaps he’s got something there. Sounds reasonable enough, doesn’t he? If only his doctor sounded as reasonable. After 25 years at Broadmoor Mr. Haines should be sufficiently rehabilitated to leave the institution I would think. I don’t see what good any additional confinement is going to do him.

Let’s hope the British justice officials will make the right decision, and release Mr. Haines from this unjust and ridiculous imprisonment at Broadmoor.

25 years! Gosh! That’s closer to a third of a lifetime than a quarter of a lifetime until we have longer lifetimes. Citizens of Great Britain, for mercy and decency’s sake, release this man!

Starting junior off on the wrong footsy

Parents, deserving of the title, don’t label their toddlers “mentally ill”, and dope them up on psychiatric drugs. Duh! That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking with it. Despite my feelings, feelings that I imagine to be shared with many other people in the world, according to an article in CNN, the incidence of the labeling and drugging of babies is increasing, Preschoolers on meds: Too much too soon? The three letter immediate response elicited by my viscera to this news is yes.

Take Shelby (not her real name), her mother’s problem…child!

The capsule contains 20 milligrams (mg) of Ritalin (methylphenidate), the prescription stimulant used to calm and focus children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). After dinner, Shelby takes more meds — 2.5 mg of Abilify and .05 mg of clonidine. The preschooler has been on daily medication since she was 2, when she slept only about four hours a night and threw frequent, violent temper tantrums that sometimes left her mother with bruises and bite marks.

This girl reaches her terrible twos, and wham, she’s on dope. Did nobody explain to her parents that the terrible twos can be a trying time, and that you shouldn’t try to drug this period of child rearing off the wallchart? Pharmaceutical products and very young children are not a good mix. Pharmaceutical products, pregnant women, and birth defects illustrate most vividly the importance of natural as opposed to chemical measures.

A psychiatrist at the local children’s hospital diagnosed bipolar disorder. For a year, Shelby was on increasingly potent doses of Risperdal (risperidone), an antipsychotic, and Depakote (divalproex), an antiseizure drug that’s also used to reduce mania.

Did this psychiatrist even bother to diagnose child? Should the doctor have done so, perhaps the doctor would have left more time for this individual to fuck up in before she was determined to be a terminal fuck up.

A psychologist objected to the bipolar label, suggesting instead that the child be labeled Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder with Obedient Defiant Disorder, and hopped up on Ritalin (i.e. speed). Obviously the conventional wisdom here has it that this child is not your perfectly normal kid. This kid, at 4 years old, is majorly fucked up.

I’m not so sure that there are so many child monsters out there as some deluded people might imagine. On the other hand, I feel certain there are probably many more adult monsters out there than we need. Given the proliferation of adult monsters, we have children early on labeled perpetual fuck-ups, and put on brain-numbing behavior-changing doses of chemicals.

In spite of the growing number of young kids taking psychiatric drugs, these medications (with a few exceptions) are not specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in children under age 6. Why? Because little is known about how they affect the tiny brains and bodies of young children.

I think a little more is known about how these drugs affect tiny brains and bodies than these “experts” are letting on. When what is described as “help” is actually “harm”, regarding a drug you are trying to sell to the public, including the parents of toddlers, you have to twist the facts (be deceptive) a little bit in order to sell (profit from) that drug. Off label drug treatment, that is, drug treatments not approved by the FDA, are illegal. This is why drug companies have been facing some of the stiffest civil penalties in history. The problem is that the trillion dollar drug industry hauls in enough cash to be able to write off these historic fines fairly easily. We have another word for treatments not approved by the FDA, and that word is fraud. Snake oil hasn’t been approved by the FDA either.

If targetting the rich and powerful drug industry doesn’t work so well, in terms of a corrective, maybe targetting doctors who over-diagnose “mental illness” and over-prescribe harmful psychiatric drugs might work better. When doctors who break the law, rather than getting a mild knuckle rapping, can lose their license for breaking the law in this fashion, they will be less likely to break the law in the future. I suggest that law firms should initiate legal actions against those doctors who are the worst offenders in these matters. Among those doctors facing suits would be doctors who prescribe drugs to toddlers because very few, if any, of these drugs have been approved by the FDA for use on infants.

No surprise registered at the mental health business boom

Having been there, I wouldn’t encourage anybody to actively seek psychiatric treatment. There are so many assumptions being made in psychiatry as to astound credibility. First, there is the assumption that an actual “mental illness” exists the way a pig or a cow exists, and second, there is the assumption that some kind of “stigma”, or mark of disgrace, is attached to seeking a treatment for this thought disease.

Not being a mental health professional, I don’t have all the answers. If you feel bad you feel bad, and that doesn’t mean you are sick. Mental health professionals have determined that bad feelings are sick feelings. Heaven help those people who live by their hearts rather than their brains, predatory psychiatrists are on the lookout for them all the time. The only thing worse than bad feelings are bad behaviors, and psychiatrists tell us misbehavior is sickness, too.

Misbehavior is sick behavior within limits. Misbehavior that interferes with a person’s function, whatever that should be, is sick behavior. However, if a person’s function is criminal, bad behavior is not sick behavior. We’ve got a little ways to go before we can attribute all bad behavior to bad brains, and then demand treatment for it. I should say that some doctors are working on this matter diligently, and maybe someday they will have a developed a drug to treat criminality as well.

Alright, if a “mental illness” has a substantial existence like a horse or a penguin, first you have to convince a person that he or she has one. There are crypto-beasts like dragons and unicorns, too, but unlike “mental illnesses” few people credit them with a tangible reality, few people believe in them. Here’s the problem, you can get rid of wasps, mice, and cows, but just try dealing with a unicorn, dragon, or griffon infestation. That’s not such an easy proposition, is it?

The rate of people who think they have a “mental illness” worldwide is growing by leaps and bounds. There is no wonder why this is so. Mental health is a business, and without clientele it would dry up and die. Convincing people that they have a disease is the easy part of the job, convincing them that they can dispense with this disease they may have grown fond of is a more difficult matter. Mental health workers don’t like joblessness any more than any other segment of the population.

If the role of the mental health worker were to cure the mental patient, well then, most mental health workers deserve to be fired. They have failed, or dysfunctioned, at this task most miserably. They have not been fired though. Why is this temerity the rule? This is the case because curing the patient is not the mental health workers real role; it’s only their pretend role. The real role of the mental health worker is to keep the business operational, and you can’t do that without mental patients (aka consumers).

Minding Freedom Of Expression On Campus In Gainesville Florida

I had been absent from my blog for a few days, all of last week in fact. There was a good reason for this absence. I was engaged in the Civic Media Center (a local radical library) sponsored Radical Rush at Santa Fe College and the University of Florida. My group, MindFreedom Florida, was tabling with other socially progressive groups handing out literature and information at these schools. This is my 3rd year tabling at the Radical Rush on campus.

What continues to amaze me is the difficulty students and professors have in connecting with our movement. Women studies and African American affairs have been around in education departments for years, and I would like to believe the disabilities movement is making a little progress on campus as well. Gay bisexual transsexual queer issues are even beginning to make great strides forward. The psychiatric survivor movement itself, and the mad movement, locally, are still pretty much a dark space untouched by the light of academic endeavor.

Considering the depths of prejudice we face, and how discrimination is applied in other fields of endeavor, I think there is no question as to why this is so. We’re talking about a group of people that people are so prejudiced against that the first words that pop to mind are ‘lack of charisma’. Rather than seeing ‘gators’, panthers and tigers, people think labeled ‘mentally ill’, and they envision worms, rotted fruit and bats. I think that it would help if they envisioned human beings instead. Actually, that’s what our movement is all about, reminding people that they are dealing with human beings, in these instances, and not with less evolved creatures. It’s just too easy for them to forget sometimes it would seem.

I’m hoping this deficit can be corrected over time. I’d like to see people labeled by the mental health system make progress in the real world of everyday affairs. MindFreedom International has a number of academics associated with it. MindFreedom has both a Scientific Advisory Board and an Academic Alliance. Unfortunately, none of these professionals are at Santa Fe College or the University of Florida. I want to change this situation. I guess that means tabling on these campuses in coming years. Sooner or later, maybe they will begin to get it. The “it” I’m talking about is embodied in the slogan, familiar to people in the disabilities rights movement, “Nothing about us, without us!”

The University of Florida and Santa Fe College teach psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, and pharmacologists. These schools know how to oppress people, but do they know how to liberate them? I’m all for liberation myself, and I’m against oppression. I’d like to see some forces on campus join me in calling for liberation and in opposing oppression. We are out to educate the educators because apparently there is much that has still escaped their schooling. Eventually, I have no doubt, if we keep at it, we will find a place for ourselves here in Gainesville, too.

UK Study Shows Rise In The Mortality Rate For People Labeled “Mentally Ill”

I’ve said before that things are not improving significantly in mental health care field. A big indication of this regressive state of affairs is shown by a new study just released in the UK. This study shows that the mortality rate for people in mental health treatment has actually gone up. An article about the study, in Medscape Medical News, bears the heading Mortality Gap Widening for the Mentally Ill.

For people discharged with schizophrenia in 1999, the excess risk was 1.6 times that of the general population (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5 – 1.8), but by 2006, it was twice the rate, at 2.2 (95% CI, 2.0 – 2.4; P < .001 for trend).

People labeled schizophrenic were twice as likely to die early in 2006 as they were in 1999.

The trend was similar for bipolar disorder. The ratios were 1.3 (95% CI, 1.1 – 1.6) in 1999 and 1.9 (95% CI, 1.6 – 2.2) in 2006 (P = .06 for trend).

For people labeled bipolar the trend is catching up with the mortality rate for people labeled with schizophrenia.

Most of the deaths were a result of natural causes, especially cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.

Nobody ever died of natural causes. Cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases are not natural causes, and sometimes they are the result of metabolic changes produced by pharmaceutical products.

This is where I disagree with the conclusions of the researchers. If these researchers had been looking for iatrogenic causes for these deaths, I think they would have found them. Instead they’re metaphorically looking at a burning house while ignoring the empty gas canisters strewn all about around it.

Tragedy used to sell psychiatric drugs

For the gullible, here’s your chance to be gulled.

The story appears in International Business Times under the heading Study Links Genes to PTSD After NIU Campus Shootings.

First, the initial tragedy…

On Feb. 14, 2008, Steven Kazmierczak shot multiple people on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, killing 5 and wounding 21.

Second, the accompanying and expanding tragedy, a study…

This tragedy has presented the rare opportunity for certain academic types and sic researchers to ambitiously advance their career interests by speculating on the existence of a trauma or, in drug selling psychobabble, a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder gene. It, in fact, allows them a chance to spin the news.

The researchers concluded that when examined in a relatively homogeneous sample with shared trauma and known prior levels of child and adult trauma, this serotonin transporter genotype may serve as a useful predictor of risk for PTSD-related symptoms in the weeks and months following trauma.

Ignoring the fact that the low serotonin level theory for the advent of depression has been completely discredited, this study presents a lame excuse to sell SSRI antidepressants for the treatment of PTSD.

This is a blatant attempt at disease-mongering. The dictionary.com definition of disease-mongering is given as follows.

Main Entry: disease-mongering
Part of Speech: n
Definition: efforts by a pharmaceutical company to create or exaggerate a malady for the purpose of increasing sales of a medication

I imagine that most of these Northern Illinois tragedy survivors will recover sufficiently to get on with their education and their lives, but if they do so, it will be despite the meddling efforts of researchers in the hire of drug companies.

You can expect this type of study to further fuel the over-diagnosing and over-prescribing frenzy we’ve been seeing of late in what has been termed a national mental health crisis.

Light Shed On The History Of Psychiatric Abuse In Ireland

An article in The Irish Times concerns an upcoming documentary, Behind the Walls, about the history of the atrocious maltreatment of people in psychiatric institutions in that country, Revealing the horrific past of psychiatric hospitals.

In one report from the documentary, concerning year 1958, you get the following…

It was a revealing year in the context of Irish mental institutions. The patient population was close to an all-time high of more than 21,000. For many years, Ireland had led the world in locking up its people in psychiatric hospitals – on a per capita basis, it was even ahead of the old Soviet Union.

The article attributes this figure to social causes more than anything else. This number of people might not seem so startling until you begin comparing it to the numbers of people held in prisons at the same time in Ireland.

In addition to his international comparisons, Dr Brennan looked at figures closer to home, in particular comparing numbers locked up in psychiatric hospitals with those in prisons. This presents a truly remarkable picture of Irish society in the mid-decades of the 20th century, where the number of prisoners rarely exceeded 600. In 1958, the year of Dr Ramsey’s Clonmel report, this number was 369.

This is the kind of statistic that screams over-diagnosis and over-treatment. On top of this sort of over-kill, those maltreatments involved included the now mostly defunct and damaging practices of insulin shock therapy and lobotomy.

Another fascinating revelation is about how artifacts from the lives of some of the prisoners held at one of these institutions were preserved in an attic, much as were such artifacts discovered in an attic at Willard State Hospital in New York State in the United States, the recent subject of a successful museum exhibit and book, The Lives They Left Behind – Suitcases From A State Hospital Attic.

When patients died (to be buried, unnamed, in mass graves in Glasnevin cemetery), their modest few belongings ended up in the attics of the many buildings that make up the complex of Grangegorman.

These were rescued recently by a group of dedicated retired psychiatric nurses who have begun the process of cataloguing them. It is an immense job, with thousands of personal possessions – holy pictures, packets of cigarettes, lipsticks, letters, shoes, rosary beads, photographs, handbags, spectacles.

This is the kind of a history that returns the lives of people who endured much prejudice and discrimination, and who were doubly abused by neglect and cruelty, back to us. Those of us who have known psychiatric imprisonment and oppression first hand are keenly aware of the importance of this kind of a historical documentation. Psychiatric hospitals are not to be confused with amusement park fun houses despite the use to which some abandoned asylums have been put in the USA recently. In the interests of decency and humanity, not to mention accurate accounting, we need much more of this sort of research and historical preservation.

While we’ve seen films on the history of mental health maltreatment in Great Britian, and now in Ireland, I’ve yet to see any such major undertaking attempted in the USA. I know that, accompanying preservation efforts, much destruction of evidense is going on all the time. This makes the urgency and importance all that greater for preservation efforts to be made. I would also like to see one or two of these abandoned asylums made into a museum of archaic maltreatment devices and practices. Hopefully, this present neglect means we have something of the sort to look forward to in the future.

Feds Investigate Mental Health Care In Missippi

The US Justice Department is investigating mental health care in Missippi according to an article in the Hattiesburg American, Mental health system probed.

“They don’t think our state has made a sufficient effort to move into community-based services,” said [Region 8 Excutive Director Dave] Van, who has met with Justice Department officials. “They say we’re institutionally heavy.”

This is following a trend away from acute services and towards a more community based model of mental health care. Justice Department officials also feel that Missippi lacks affordable housing for people in the mental health system.

This US Justice Department investigation in Missippi follows other recent investigations in Virginia and Georgia.

In February, federal officials concluded Virginia violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by needlessly institutionalizing those with developmental disabilities. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed $30 million more in spending for community-based treatment.

Although the federal investigation in Virginia focused on the institutionalization of people with developmental difficulties there is also a danger that, given budget cuts, the mental health system there will return to the condition it was in before an earlier investigation in the 1990s.

In 2010, the Justice Department reached a settlement requiring the state of Georgia to come up with $77 million more for treatment for fiscal 2012 alone.

A number of deaths reported in institutions in Georgia led up to this decision.

The mental health system in North Carolina, as a result of lame attempts at reform by the state government, is a shambles, too, and so I imagine if the Justice Department has any more investigations slated for the future, one must be scheduled there.

This investigation is welcomed by many in the state of Missippi as a precursor of much needed change.

Report claims half the people in the USA bonkers

A story in DoctorsLounge.com, Half of Americans Will Suffer From Mental Health Woes, CDC Says, covers a new report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that claims about ½ the people in the USA will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.

About half of Americans will experience some form of mental health problem at some point in their life, a new government report warns, and more must be done to help them.

Given that the USA is at the epicenter of the current WORLDWIDE epidemic in psychiatric disability, I don’t really find this statistic all that surprising. Pharmaceutical companies must sell pharmaceutical products, and as a result of this advertising frenzy, the USA has become the leading example of a growing prescription drug culture.

Straight off I can see 3 obvious reasons for this epidemic that many mental health professionals are apparently fain to spot. 1. direct to consumer advertising (legal only in the USA and New Zealand) by drug manufacturers, 2. mental health screening programs (they have incredibly high false positive rates), and 3. patient advocacy group anti-stigma campaigns (when having a “mental illness” becomes cool and trendy, there will be more people claiming to have one.).

There are “unacceptably high levels of mental illness in the United States,” said Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC. “Essentially, about 25 percent of adult Americans reported having a mental illness in the previous year. In addition to the high level, we were surprised by the cost associated with that — we estimated about $300 billion in 2002.

Did you get that! About ¼ of the adult population of the USA reported having a “mental illness” last year. They are also talking costs, estimated at $300,000,000,000. Well, I know that so-called “serious mental illness”, lifelong disability, can be very expensive. Add to it doctor visits for the psychiatric equivalent of the common cold, and you’re still talking money down the tubes.

“Mental illness is frequently seen as a moral issue or an issue of weakness,” Arias explained. “It is a condition no different from cancer or other chronic diseases. People need to accept the difficulties they are having and avail themselves of the resources that are available.”

Ileana Arias says a lot of things on this subject in this article, and every time she says something, I feel like cracking up. If she’s saying that ½ the people in the USA are going to have a brain disease, I think she must be as batty as some of the people psychiatry treats. More to the point, if ½ the people in the USA will have “mental illness” at some point in their lives, that “mental illness” has more to do with a lapse in moral fortitude and strength of character than it does with any inheritable disease.

The report says 5 % of the nation’s population was labeled “seriously mentally ill”, that is, unable to function, at some point last year. That would be about my estimate, too. This figure I expect to climb even further in the future.

The question I have to ask is what is making the USA such a difficult country to live in? When this article claims 8.4 million people had suicidal thoughts last year. Shrug. I imagine the real figure to be a bit higher. 2.2 million made plans to kill themselves, and 1 million attempted suicide. Attempting suicide, unlike succeeding, will get anyone a psychiatric label. This article doesn’t explain how we make this country a more livable place for the vast majority of people who inhabit it, and that, I think, is the question you have to ask before you can expect the emotional turmoil rate to go down.

The absolutely amazing thing is you’ve got this report saying 50 % of the people in the USA will experience mental health issues during their lifetimes, and this shrink in the same article says under-diagnosis and under-treatment is a big problem! Uh, I don’t think so. Remember with nostalgia the silent majority then, and welcome the new Mad Majority. Half of the people of the USA is two thirds of the way to 75 % of the people in the USA. I guess our movement must be making progress.