Hospitalization Recommended For Seriously Disturbed Huffington Post Blogger

I suggest a friendly psychiatrist is needed to arrange a nice long vacation for over zealous, if not over worked, Huffington Post blogger DJ Jaffe at some convenient loony bin. He seems to think the closing of Kingsboro Hospital in New York State is a bad idea. He says as much in a post on his blog, Closing New York State Psychiatric Hospitals Is Dangerous. The question is dangerous for whom? People on the inside of such facilities, or people in the imagination of people on the outside of such facilities. I’m thinking he could only think so if he’d never done any serious time in a loony bin himself. The good news is that this is a circumstance we can remedy.

The impact of this insane let-em-lose-to-fend-for-themselves policy is cruel to people with mental illness who desperately need and want treatment. But it’s also dangerous to the public. According to the Daily News, late last month, “A 25-year-old mentally ill Brooklyn man stabbed his mother and kid brother and beat them with a hammer.” Near where Buffalo Psychiatric Center reduced beds, 6,300 homes experienced a blackout when a recently released allegedly mentally ill man used a chain saw to cut down utility poles. Near where Rockland Psychiatric Center reduced beds, police rescued a suicidal mentally ill man who was off medications, barricaded in his home and brandishing a pellet gun. And earlier this month, between where Rockland County Psychiatric Center and Hudson River Psychiatric Center reduced beds police shot and killed allegedly mentally ill Tim Mulqeen who brought a loaded shotgun and 50 rounds of ammunition to a city court.

According to Mr. Jaffe serious mental illnesses make people commit fratricide as well as vandalize massive amounts of property. I think he needs to draw a sharper line here between what constitutes symptoms of disease and what constitutes criminal behaviors. He also thinks that emotional disturbance can make people stand in the path of oncoming police bullets. Mr. Jaffe obviously doesn’t understand where people on the sedated side of the nurse’s station are coming from.

When will this madness end? New York went from 599 psychiatric beds per 100,000 citizens down to twenty eight. And the new closures take us even lower. OMH is simply transferring the seriously ill to the criminal justice system. New York incarcerated 14,000 people with serious mental illness largely because OMH only has beds for 3,600. There are more mentally ill in a single jail, Riker’s Island, than all state hospitals combined. The most conservative estimates are that if New York had the best community services available — and we don’t — it would still need 4,311 more hospital beds to meet the minimum needs of seriously mentally ill New Yorkers.

Talk about adopting a shrill hysterical tone! I think we’ve got just the thing for your madness, DJ. Nurse, how about 250 mg. of haldol pronto!? And some goons to make sure it gets into his posterior!?

One would think ensuring the seriously mentally ill get treatment would be the core mission of the Office of Mental Health. But it hasn’t been ever since Michael Hogan was appointed commissioner. His stated goal is to “create hope filled, humanized environments and relationships in which people can grow” not getting medications to the seriously mentally ill. One can understand what drives his hospital closure policy — “Hey Gov., look how much money I’m saving!” But it’s harder to understand how Cuomo doesn’t recognize the impact on people with serious mental illness, public safety, and how Hogan’s efforts to save OMH money are costing the criminal justice system and the state much more.

Let’s, please, give Mr. Jaffe a taste of his own medicine, and if he can’t take it, well, he certainly shouldn’t be dishing it out. His math is less than amazing, for one thing, I think his condition must be on a downward slide. Least restrictive care in a community setting is actually preventative, and therefore, a real money saver. This man is deluded, and he lacks insight into the nature of his disorder. He’s paranoid. I’m afraid he’s going to hurt somebody. He sees crazy people committing atrocities everywhere he goes. He’s sees crazy people when there aren’t any crazy people there. He’s even gone so far as to project his own “mental illness” onto government officials in the state of New York. He needs help. Let’s get him some. We can’t have somebody like him roaming the streets, now, can we?

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15 Responses

  1. I wonder what history will have to say about D.J. Jaffe, when this “myth of the chemical cure” (to quote Dr. Joann Moncrieff) is fully exposed, and finally dies a much-needed death.

    History will get the last word.
    And I don’t think it will be pleasant for Jaffe, the TAC and the others who perpetuated the myth.

    Duane

    • Hopefully he will be very easy for the history books to pass over. I’d think they might not have anything to say about him at all if we are lucky. If he’s a footnote, may he be a short footnote.

      Many of the Treatment Advocacy Center’s proposals are so extreme that they are easy to brush off by state legislatures. I don’t think the TAC, or DJ Jaffe for that matter, are nearly as mainstream as they’d like to be. Unfortunately, there are also people who get duped into thinking that Assertive Outpatient Treatement is a warm and fuzzy beneficial thing, and that it is not what it is, forced drugging using a drugs that happen to be, and not potentially so, damaging.

      The drugs behind the debunked chemical imbalance theory are still with us. I hope you are right in supposing that history will not take a kind view to this mistake, and other horrors, that it is still too generous in dismissing.

      Eugenics, lobotomy, insulin shock, etc., this history hasn’t sunk in yet, probably because harmful treatments are still very much with us. The message that we should not be doing physical harm to people in mental health treatment, and calling that harm treatment, is slow in coming, but I certainly hope you are right, and that some day it will arrive on a much wider scale.

  2. Michael Hogan sounds sensible; providing he is for real. DJ Jaffe, on the other hand, has a penchant for histrionics. Having said that, it is important that care exists so that prison numbers do not include people who are in need of support.

    This post reminds me of a young lady I met some years ago. Having found the care she needed lacking in the mental facility she had been incarcerated in, she returned, doused it liberally with gasoline, and burned the thing to the ground.

    I have always quite liked that story.

    • Michael Hogan is the director of the mental health services agency for New York state. Michael Hogan went from directing the agency in Ohio, a department that was lauded while he was in charge, to directing the agency in New York.

      DJ Jaffe is a bigot associated with co-founding the Treatment Advocacy Center, a group that lobbys for more Involuntary Outpatient Commitment, or forced drugging, DJ Jaffe claims to be a true believer in “serious mental illness”. DJ Jaffe claims to be a disbeliever in more “minor mental illness”. He advocates for the forced treatment (i.e. drugging) of people he sees as “mentally ill”. He doesn’t think people can recover, and therefore, they need to be drugged whether they like it or not–for life. His view is that when they are not drugged, they commit acts of violence. He has absolutely no regard for individual choice and self-determination where the individuals under discussion are people oppressed by psychiatry.

      It is our misfortune that DJ Jaffe was not visiting the hospital in your story at the time when the young lady you mentioned burned it down.

      On second thought, I belong to a group that supports non-violent actions, and we wouldn’t support acts of violence even if they were directed against Mr. Jaffe. DJ Jaffe, on the other hand, has little or no regard for the physical harm that may come to people as a result of statements he has made. He should be locked up for promoting acts of violence directed against people under threat from the mental health system. His confinement could prevent a whole lot of people from coming to harm.

  3. Everyone escaped safely.

    I respect your support of non-violent actions, however I am in favour of a-day-in-the-life experiences for those who advocate the use of excessive force.

    What doctors and law enforcement personnel fail to realise – or fail to care about – is that terrifying the crap out of people is not going to make them better, nor is it going to de-escalate a situation when an individual is emotionally or mentally distressed.

    • Non-violence doesn’t harm people. Violence harms people. When the state commits acts of violence, people become outraged. When people respond to violence coming from the state in a violent fashion, the public has an easier time becoming outraged by the violence perpetuated by responders than it does the violence perpetuated by the state. A part of the idea of protest is to gain public sympathy and popular support.

      Drug manufacturers, psychiatrists, and others need to be held accountable. The activities of people such as D.J. Jaffe can do an inordinant amount of harm. We need to care for people with problems in living, we don’t need to imprison, drug, and kill them.

      • I was being whimsical, MFV. These people do not understand how much pain and fear they inflict. Annihilating the rights of an individual and subjecting them to violence is all in a day’s work to them. My point is about perspective.

  4. We have skated over the fact that people have been hurt:

    “A 25-year-old mentally ill Brooklyn man stabbed his mother and kid brother and beat them with a hammer.”

    I don’t really mind someone taking a chainsaw to utility poles as a form of self expression, but I draw the line at hurting people. These people are not negligible.

    It is difficult to determine where he should be, whether in jail or in hospital; a hospital prison or a prison hospital; none of the above.

    The late Tim Mulqeen may have had good reason to take his shotgun to court but it cost him his life.

    In implementing a new system, there has to be a transition period from the old. We cannot ignore the issue of the safety of the general public any more than we ought to ignore the safety of patients.

    I note the language that refers to patients having been “released” like criminals rather than “discharged”. And being “allegedly” mentally ill, as if that is a crime in itself.

    • We skewed over nothing. We’re getting no statistics here as to violence and emotional disturbance. These random acts of violence mentioned are completely random. The media licks this stuff up, but it is hardly representative. Killling family members is not routine behavior. Also, it’s not so much mad behavior as it is criminal behavior.

      The police have a tendency to use bullets and tasers on people who have had experience with the mental health system. This doesn’t excuse the police department from accountability for their use of bullets and tasers. Unfortunately, the police department is excused from accountability as far as the state is concerned. Numerous incidents have occurred where the police gunned down unarmed citizens, many of whom had psychiatric labels, because of some sort of misinterpretation of the facts. This happens again and again. The officers involved generally get off scot free.

      You seem to forget that mental patients are members of the general public, too. It is not the general public that is the problem, except in so far as the perception you’re giving is involved. The real problem is that the state, like you, doesn’t see mental patients as members of the general public. You’ve got a situation where the state is using public safety to imprison and harm members of the public. The state can only do this by creating the illusion that these members of the general public are somehow different from those members of the general public. This difference, for the state, is the mental health label. In no other branch of what purports to be medicine do you have people treated against their will. The government has not gotten into the act of declaring any other “medical” problem, except perhaps crime if that’s a “medical” problem, involuntarily treatable.

      Call me whenever researchers have proven the existence of a “mental illness”. If they ever do so, you will have to do something about the expression “mental illness”, too, because whatever they will have, it won’t be a “mental illness”. “Mental illness” is a semantic absurdity. The language needs to change to reflect the reality.

  5. “Skated” was the word I used.

    I see the randomness; we do not have the background.

    I have been pondering the criminal issue. Whether murderers are sane is questionable. What determines sanity is questionable.

    Police officers are out of control thugs at times. They have zero accountability in the kinds of situations you describe because they can always roll out the ‘fear for their own safety’ card. If they show up and there is no trouble, they will cause some so that they can bring the situation under their control. It is how they have fun.

    No, I do not forget this, so kindly refrain from suggesting so.

    I am saying this:

    From the given situation we have to deal with now, there needs to be a transition period. There are a lot of people imprisoned in facilities who do not have managing skills and it would be cruel to leave them to fend for themselves all of a sudden.

    Understand that, please.

    Rhetoric is all well and good, but I tend towards the next step, which is the practical matter of working out how to implement a new system of care. The more cohesive an idea, the more likely it is to work.

    There is no reason for us to debate the things we agree upon as if we do not.

    There are other instances where treatment is administered to patients who may not want to be treated. Nobody stops to check with someone if they want their heart re-starting following a heart attack. Coma patients do not get much say. People who get blown up don’t get consulted, nor do those who suffer serious strokes.

    A new framework has to allow for a genuine emergency situation.

    For someone who claims to find a certain phrase a “semantic absurdity”, you do use it an awful lot.

    Distress of the emotions and of the mind is real. We need no more proof of that than we already have.

  6. GM Forrest is disgusting.

    “There are other instances where treatment is administered to patients who may not want to be treated. Nobody stops to check with someone if they want their heart re-starting following a heart attack. Coma patients do not get much say. People who get blown up don’t get consulted, nor do those who suffer serious strokes.”

    I AM SORRY. PEOPLE FORCED INTO PSYCHIATRY ARE FULLY CONSCIOUS WHEN IT HAPPENS. HOW DARE YOU COMPARE US TO UNCONSCIOUS PEOPLE AND JUSTIFY THE VIOLENCE USED AGAINST US IN EMERGENCY ROOMS.

    HOW DARE YOU.

    I ALSO READ YOUR WORTHLESS COMMENTS ABOVE, HOW YOU THINK THERE ARE CRIMINALS WHO NEED ‘HOSPITAL’ FOR THEIR CRIMES. CRIME IS NOT A MEDICAL PROBLEM.

    • You are clearly upset, so I am not going to respond in kind.

      I am talking about when you are in an emergency situation, not when you are dragged off without your consent. Read what I am saying before you jump in with your insults.

      There is no justification for the violence practiced upon people who are deemed by others to have mental health issues. NONE. Now understand that this is my view.

      Maybe I am just one step ahead of you, “anonymous”. I can allow for that, but keep the shouting and personal attacks out of it from now on.

      “A new framework has to allow for a genuine emergency situation.”

      This means that when there is no longer a mental health law as it currently stands, there needs to be careful legislation to address emergency situations. Trauma and sudden bereavement, for instance, can cause such distress that medical attention is appropriate.

      I DO NOT advocate leaving a person screaming in pain to scream in pain. If you do, then it is you who are “disgusting”.

      Given that the answer might be in the realm of ‘forced drugging’ of someone in emotional or mental distress as such, the new law would need to be very clear on what constitutes an emergency and under what circumstances the administration of any medication is appropriate. Do you see now?

      “….the violence used against us in emergency rooms.”

      This is exactly the issue I am addressing. Dragging someone off without their consent is not the way to handle a situation, but we have to recognise what constitutes an emergency need.

      “In no other branch of what purports to be medicine do you have people treated against their will.”

      I was responding to this comment of MFV’s. It is as well to track back and see that so you do not confuse meanings. There are many instances where people would rather die than carry on living with severe pain or disability. My comment was not aimed specifically at the “unconscious”. Western medicine is all about fixing people up as best it can; it does not take into consideration patients’ wishes. My point is that people considered to have a psychiatric condition are not the only ones to be forced.

      There are many instances where crime is a medical problem. The vast majority of people incarcerated in the US are there on drugs charges. From there they are often forced onto rehabilitation programmes and into the mental health system as it currently operates.

      I would like to see a law that recognises drug use as self-medication and helps people with the underlying difficulties they are having trouble dealing with. This does not mean throwing them into mental health institutions, it means empowerment and opportunity.

      As far as murderers go, I was questioning what we think of a murderer’s sanity. It is a rhetorical question.

      • You let forced treatment in through the side door here, G M. You seem to be saying that in this situation forced treatment is okay, and in that situation forced treatment is wrong. Who makes the determination of what constitutes an ’emergency situation’? You?

        I discourage people from making a habit of visiting hospital emergency rooms for psychiatric reasons because I know how that goes. Once, and you might spend a week on a hospital floor. Three visits, or less, and you’re in the state hospital for an extended stay.

        By developing crisis respite care we can start to resolve this dilemma. If people have a place where they can stay, among warm and friendly people, for a short while, they are less likely to feel they need to resort to the emergency room durring a personal crisis.

    • Hi, Anonymous. I hope you have read and understood what I was saying now. I held back yesterday because I wanted to extend that to you in reasonably good spirit. Nevertheless, I am not your therapist, here for you to scream and shout at. It is irresponsible of you to hurl personal insults towards others, particularly on a site such as this. You have no idea how the other person might be feeling. What if they were suicidal?

      Perhaps someone in your past has called you “disgusting” and said your comments are “worthless”, I do not know, but suffice to say, you got that kind of behaviour from somewhere. Passing it on is merely you trying to pass on the pain to someone else. It is not a good thing to do.

      I am not disgusting nor are my comments worthless. If you have issue with something I have said, then it is that you ought to address. It is nasty to step over the line into personal attacks.

      I would appreciate your refraining from entering into any further unpleasantness.

      I am happy to explain any comment I have made to you if you find it hard to comprehend or if you find yourself reacting to it badly. Just ask.

      Thank you.

  7. “You let forced treatment in through the side door here, G M.”

    This is the point I am trying to address. How to establish a new system that allows for an emergency WITHOUT compromising a person’s wishes.

    “You seem to be saying that in this situation forced treatment is okay, and in that situation forced treatment is wrong. Who makes the determination of what constitutes an ‘emergency situation’? You?”

    Exactly. WE are the people who should be making these determinations. In order to establish a new system, we have to have a new one to put in place of the old one. Otherwise, the same abuse will continue under another name. There has to be a solid set of rules to govern delicate situations and there has to be accountability.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? We will.

    I would like to see emergency respite centres as the first port of call as a matter of course, but I am being realistic when I recognise that is not going to happen overnight. Just as I am writing this, I am thinking that we could have Respite Teams on standby at hospitals, so that when people are brought in, they can be met by specially trained individuals who can help them to the warmly lit and cosy Respite Suite where they can be cared for appropriately. No violence. No force. A smile and a nice cup of tea. We have to work back from the end goal and implement the steps it takes to get there. Do you see? I wish you would.

    “I discourage people from making a habit of visiting hospital emergency rooms for psychiatric reasons because I know how that goes. Once, and you might spend a week on a hospital floor. Three visits, or less, and you’re in the state hospital for an extended stay.”

    This is a terrifying prospect to people who are in real trouble. Far fewer individuals would end up in jail if we had the right facilities staffed by the right kind of people to help those in emotional or mental distress. De-escalation skills are key to helping people who are distressed. Meeting distress with violence is a disaster for the person who is distressed. They become more distressed, the enforcers increase the force, and so on until the person is screaming. I do not understand why anyone thinks this to be an abnormal response that requires “treatment”. Anybody thus assaulted is going to struggle for their life. It is perfectly normal to do so.

    “By developing crisis respite care we can start to resolve this dilemma. If people have a place where they can stay, among warm and friendly people, for a short while, they are less likely to feel they need to resort to the emergency room durring a personal crisis.”

    I think these places are a wonderful development and that this kind of care should be freely available. Now we have to work back and create the path to that goal. The emergency room does not have to be this feared path into an institution. Even with the respite centres, we will still have people ending up in emergency rooms. There is no reason why they should suffer because of that. There are many prongs to a carefully concerted battle plan, and this is another.

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