Forced Mental Health Treatment–The Elephant In The Room

Not that long ago I left a comment on a Huffington Post blog. The blog was that of an East Anglia University student, Beth Seward, in the UK. The post was entitled The Elephant in the Room: The Stigma Around Mental Health. My comment, and I stand by it, was as follows:

The elephant in the room is not “stigma”. The elephant in the room is forced mental health treatment. If it were otherwise people wouldn’t be pretending, very intently in fact, to ignore it. Want to do something about prejudice and discrimination? Repeal mental health law. When you’ve gotten rid of forced treatment, you’ve gotten rid of much of the rationale for prejudicial mistreatment. Forced treatment outside of the mental health system is assault.

I will always admire the late Dr. Thomas Szasz for his dedication to the abolition of forced mental health treatment. I think all doctors of psychiatry should oppose forced mental health treatment, and I would like to see more psychiatrists express their doubts as to its effectiveness. I feel the same way about patients and former patients. I have heard the view expressed by some folks that the forced treatment he or she endured did him or her some good. This was never my experience.

Out of forced treatment we get two castes of citizens. Citizens with full citizenship rights, citizens who have not known forced treatment, and citizens with a portion of their citizenship rights violated, denied and ignored, citizens who have known forced treatment. Mental health law is that law that allows for the detention, and prejudicial maltreatment, of people who have broken no law. From this detention come permanent records that will follow that person around to the end of his or her days, and beyond.

Mental health law should be repealed. There should not be a law for locking up non-law breakers. I don’t think a person can be adamant enough on this point. Mental health law is a very real threat to the freedoms that Americans hold so dear. Nobody is immune from the diagnostic labeling bestowed by well, nor not so well, intentioned meddlers. To deprive the rights to some that we allow for others should be considered, and this is my point, criminal. By doing so, we’ve just made a rift between those citizens we consider worthy and those citizens we consider less worthy based entirely upon prejudice.

To quote from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Forced mental health treatment jeopardizes people’s right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. When a person is detained in a prison masquerading as a hospital that person’s right to liberty is being violated. When a person is subjected to life threatening treatments in that prison that persons right to life is being violated. When a person’s opportunities are diminished due to such an experience, that person’s right to the pursuit of happiness is being violated.

The elephant in the room has been doing much damage, and yet so many people are pretending that everything is fine. Everything is not fine. We had the same problem when people were mistreated on account of their skin color. Now people are being mistreated on account of the psychiatric labels and the mental health treatment they have received. Forced treatment is mistreatment, now and always. Forced treatment involves depriving a person of his or her liberty. All the harm that comes to people in the mental health system comes from this one little exception to the laws that govern our land.  I think it about time we got rid of this loophole in the rule of law.

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5 Responses

  1. The writer in the original article wanted some legal drugs.
    To legitimize her drug use, she needs the psychiatric diagnosis.
    The only way to get the legal drugs is with the diagnosis of “depression”.
    Access to drugs without a prescription is also another major point of Szasz.

    Though, the antidepressants would likely lose their magic without being prescribed by a doctor.

    • Well, if it weren’t for the market, built on advertising, this person would probably not be seeking anti-depressants. Anti-depressants are no panacea. Psychiatric drugs only represent a panacea to psychiatrists, and perhaps to the families of people given psychiatric labels. If doctors didn’t prescribe these pills, this lady would not feel compelled to pursue a prescription herself. This magic is the magic of commerce and profiteering–all illusion. As the drugs actually disable the brain, what it comes down to is that eventually she is going to have to deal with the actual effects of the drug rather than some drug company print out. This kind of crutch is the kind of crutch that loves a cripple, especially when the crippling was a matter of deception. Some people throw the drug away anyway when it becomes a matter of dealing with the actual effects of the chemical the were given rather than with that chemical’s undeserved reputation.

      • The thing is, black people still encounter discrimination. Laws against it do not solve the problem. Education is key to addressing any kind of prejudice but it is true to say that it comes naturally to human beings. It is all very well to legislate against it – and that, it can be argued, is a start – but education and understanding are the only things that will break through.

        One of the problems with mental health treatment is the willingness of people to accede their responsibility for themselves to so-called “experts” who have little or no clue other than that provided by text books written by similar individuals who had little or no clue about what they wrote about.

        The amount of conjecture in psychiatry exceeds that encountered in other medical fields and this makes the premises upon which it is founded defended so very fiercely.

        Balancing hormones, vitamins, fresh air, sunshine and good times make for a healthy individual. It is as simple as that. The quagmire of current mental health solutions ought to be avoided at all costs.

    • A little MDMA a day will keep the doctor away..

      • Well, although we currently have a president with some good deal of African ancestry in his blood in this country, in my opinion it’s going to be a heck of long time before we get a president who has been a prisoner in a psychiatric institution, allusions to after the fact disorder aside.

        Or bring the doctor to town. MDMA is a drug. All drugs work by disabling the brain. People on “E” can and do overdose.

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