The World Health Organization Launches Quality Rights Project

In honor of Human Rights Day, December 10th, the World Health Organization is launching a Quality Rights project. Voice of America reported on the matter in a story bearing the headline, WHO: Poor Treatment of Mentally Ill Violates Their Human Rights.

The World Health Organization calls the abusive conditions endured by people with mental health conditions a hidden human rights emergency. WHO reports that all over the world people with mental and psychosocial disabilities are subject to a wide range of human rights violations, stigma and discrimination.

Just to clarify, when we speak of human rights violations we are speaking of treating people like animals or worse.

As Michelle Funk, the WHO Policy Coordinator, puts it.

For example, people can be overmedicated to keep them docile and easy to manage,” she said. “They can be locked in cells or restrained for days and months without food and water, without any human contact and leaving people to urinate and defecate in the very places where they are sleeping. And, what makes these abuses even more shocking is that they are happening at the very hands of the health workers who are meant to provide care, treatment and support.”

The situation where such human rights abuses are taking place is not a good one, and where it can easily be ignored, it’s not getting any better.

She says several countries already are implementing these programs. They include Spain, Panama and Greece and India.

She didn’t say anything about where the USA, the UK, and Australia stand on this matter, at least, not in this article anyway. It is up to the citizens of these countries to put human rights concerns back in the forefront of policy decisions and considerations where they belong. They can do so by encouraging their local representatives to implement Quality Rights programs in their home communities.

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5 Responses

  1. To deplore the mistreatment of the “mentally ill” is to be dishonest.

    It suggests there is a correct way to treat people once you have slandered them.

    • Slander is mistreatment. I don’t consider the deploring of mistreatment dishonest. I don’t consider the deploring of torture (i.e. a synonym for mistreatment) dishonest.

      As I noted in Heresies, “The subject of psychiatry is neither minds nor mental disease, but lies–the ‘patient’s’ and the ‘psychiatrist’s'”. These lies begin with the names of the participants in the transaction–the designation of one party as “patient” even though he is not ill, and of the other as “therapist” even though he is not treating illness.
      ~The Lying Truths of Psychiatry, Thomas Szasz

      To call mistreatment “therapy” is to give a lie. To call a person “schizophrenic”, “bipolar”, etc., is to slander that person.

  2. There is a correct way to treat people. Period.

    This is exactly what I have talking about elsewhere. Lock them up, drug them to keep them quiet, chain them up, leave them to sleep in their own faeces. In short, do whatever the hell you want with them because they are your prisoners. That’s the rub. Power corrupts. The “carers” can get away with just about anything if they stick together and don’t circulate photographs. After all, who is going to believe the lunatics over the men in white coats?

    Further, we have talked about the business of pharmaceuticals, but what about the business of incarceration?

    From Wikipedia:

    “Prison–industrial complex” (PIC) is a term used to attribute the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies. The term is analogous to the military–industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of in his famous 1961 farewell address. Such groups include corporations that contract prison labor, construction companies, surveillance technology vendors, lawyers, and lobby groups that represent them. Activists have described the prison industrial complex as perpetuating a belief that imprisonment is a quick fix to underlying social problems such as homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy.

    The promotion of prison building as a job creator and the use of inmate labor are also cited as elements of the prison industrial complex. The term often implies a network of actors who are motivated by making profit rather than solely by punishing or rehabilitating criminals or reducing crime rates. Proponents of this view believe that the desire for monetary gain has led to the growth of the prison industry and the number of incarcerated individuals. These views are often shared by people who fear or condemn excessive use of power by government, particularly when related to law enforcement and military affairs.

    16% of incarcerated individuals in the US are mentally ill (Department of Justice findings) but they are only talking about the ones incarcerated in prisons.

    Of the millions of people incarcerated in institutions, or “mental health facilities” as they prefer to call them, I am less concerned about who is and who is not “mentally ill” than I am about the way all of those people are treated.

    That is not to say that I am not concerned that those who are not mentally ill might end up in an institution, of course I am; the very experience is likely to leave them with problems, as you report on your pages. The point I am making is that it should not be a problem. Ideally, if a person who is not mentally ill enters a “mental health facility”, it should be a pleasant and soothing experience during which they learn that there is not anything wrong with them. They should then be waved off by the kindly staff with a renewed sense of well-being. Instead they are clobbered into believing they are ill, drugged into a zombie-like state, and made to suffer all kinds of indignities.

    People with real mental health problems need warmth and reassurance. That they are so often controlled through fear is an absolute disgrace. To threaten these vulnerable people and to hurt them is the ultimate in cruelty. Again, the hospitalisation process should be one that they find supportive and compassionate. Treatment should be constructive and gentle, so that people feel stronger and more able to cope. They should not be reduced to becoming chemically dependent, brain-washed, frightened creatures by power crazed sadists.

  3. There is a correct way to treat people. People have rights.

    These two statements would appear to be true and people surveyed on the street for the nightly news would be reluctant to disagree.. But for amateur or professional philosophers (same) are they actually true and meaningful and useful. Are they rules that should govern a person’s behavior in the present and into the future.

    No they are not. They are sentimental claptrap. They are just words. Words that have their origins who knows where, from all different places at different times. Words that were used once and caught on because they had a sound or a rhythm or appealed to a person because someone else said it meant this… or sounded like that. Or purely invented and defined on the spot.

    What is correct could be defined as what is perceived and described by a single person.

    “I don’t approve of having 5 (or 4) amperes passing through my genitals.” We’ll accept that statement as True.

    “It is wrong that 5 (or 4) amperes is passing through my genitals.” We cannot know whether that is right or wrong. For one thing we don’t know what the word wrong means. We confuse it with what me might want or don’t want.

    I would like to pass 5 (or 4) amperes through the genitals of Patrick Dxxxxxx, a failed physician who is paid as a dupe, posing as a medical specialist, for the state in Victoria, Australia. Would that be wrong? Is it wrong that I have written my wish?

    Maybe the ultimate dishonesty is to inflict yourself on people and deliberately not declare your intentions and reasoning. Or worse, to provide false account of intention and reasoning.

    It’s every man for himself and the people and things he cares about. He should kill or at least threaten any other person that injures himself or the the things he cares about. For practical and strategic reasons or if he has the power to withstand some assault he might accept 2 or 3 tats before delivering a tit.

    My advice would be to not fuck with other people if it doesn’t affect you directly. Don’t ever do these things on behalf of another for money unless it’s just a clear case of enforcing an uncontraversial law. If you want to and have the power, do whatever you want. If the people you are doing to don’t like it and strike back strike back and kill you so be it.

    There is no right, no morality, no high ground. There is no magical force guiding the actions of people and the universe toward some goal.

    If I was very hard pressed I would probably still have a problem killing people below the age of about 12 years (call me a softy). But above that age, if they offend me, no problem, I’m not troubled by magical thoughts of damnation.

  4. Well, there’s a philosophical argument if ever I heard one, amateur or otherwise.

    You forget context, Rod, when you say your statement should be accepted as “True”. There are times when you might highly approve of having 5 (or 4) amperes passed through your genitals.

    One must consider voltage and resistance, your position in space, what you are wearing; your physical, mental and emotional context must be taken into account.

    Say you have been tortured to a greater degree, then it might come as a relief if the effect is lower; or indeed if it is high enough to release you permanently from pain. Say you have been brought to a state of arousal in which being zapped provides release of another kind. Your statement is no more or less “True” or indeed “right or wrong” than any other.

    Bear in mind that “true” can mean “right” and that “false” can mean “wrong” so your differentiation between the two pairs of words is as meaningless as all the other words unless you contextualise the statement with the same language you denigrate as inadequate for expressing the differences between right and wrong.

    I do not think we necessarily define right or wrong by what we want or do not want to happen but we are adept at shifting the boundaries to suit ourselves, agreed.

    Would you do that to the physician you mention? If you stood there with the electrodes in your hands and the right voltage to kill him, would you do it? Knowing that you would get away with it? Would that make a difference? Or would you be happy to spend the rest of your life in prison for doing it? If he begged you and cried and talked about his children (if he has any) would you relent? Or would you get off on the power? Or is it the case that you would prefer to beat him up for a while then have him sent to Siberia? Or would you simply like to keep him tied up, naked and vulnerable for a while? Would you want to talk to him first? Or not? In case you changed your mind? Would it make any difference if someone was with you? Your parents? Would it make any difference if his children were watching?

    Would doing as you suggested be wrong? It depends upon the context and, as you have rightly pointed out, what is “perceived” by the individual; in this case whoever has access to the electrodes.

    This is usually the case, analogously speaking. One person has the electrodes and others act upon them or not to modify their behaviour one way or the other.

    Is it wrong to have written your wish? Well, I don’t mind. If you are a US citizen writing about the President however, you are likely to find yourself in trouble – but does that make you wrong?

    People are in too much of a hurry to “inflict” themselves on others because it is easier to try and affect other, more vulnerable people, than it is to change oneself or to take on systemic goals.

    I think it can be argued that those who inflict themselves upon others the most are those with the least understanding of their true intentions therefore their reasoning is pertinaciously flawed.

    Killing or threatening someone who injures oneself seems reasonable, however say a man shoots you and leaves you for dead, what then? Do you spend the rest of your life hunting him down only to find he died a week after he shot you? What if the man who shot you was a police officer? What if he became a great political leader loved by the masses?

    Killing over the “things” one cares about is a gnarly subject. The animate or the inanimate, for instance; land, religion, political belief, the latest Nikes, the price of a fix, gold, diamonds, and so on. The definition of that which you speak of is infinitely variable.

    The most vulnerable usually end up withstanding the most assault.

    A lack of controversy is not the same as a good thing.

    The people who have the power do what they want to do to others generally. It is much harder to address this in a democracy than it is to address it in a dictatorship although, for example. The battle lines are unclear. A dictatorship rules through force, a democracy rules through propaganda. (See Noam Chomsky.)

    We tend to feel better when we are socially connected; we are biologically programmed that way. Territoriality is also biologically programmed. We build a lot of structures around these things but, strip them away, and what lies underneath amounts to the same thing.

    If a five-year-old shot at me, then that five-year-old would have to go, however most children become extraordinarily offensive around the age of thirteen; I doubt there would be enough bullets.

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