Support For Victims of Psychiatric Torture

June 26 around the world is observed as an International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. One form of torture that is not widely recognized is non-consensual mental health treatment. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International have been slow to recognize the brutal cruelty and abuse of forced psychiatry for what many who have endured forced psychiatry know it to be, torture. The United Nations has been a little more receptive on this issue. On March 3rd of this year the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture issued a statement calling for an immediate ban on all forced psychiatric interventions.

How are forced psychiatric interventions torture? Just do a little bit of critical thinking and independent research on the subject, and you will find out how. People are abducted, imprisoned, thrown into solitary confinement, poisoned, physically restrained, chemically restrained, shocked, induced to have seizures, injured, neglected, etc., etc., all in the name of therapy. Without mental health law serving as a contradiction to criminal law these atrocities would not be taking place. This ill treatment constitutes torture. The aim of this torture is to elicit behavior that the state finds acceptable,  to suppress behavior that the state finds unacceptable, and to get the torture victim to admit to having a “mental illness” regardless of whether the victim has an actual illness or not.

Should the victim of psychiatric forced treatment not confess to having a “mental illness”, he or she is then said to be “sicker” than the victim who does confess to having a “mental illness”, and this denial, and/or alleged “co-morbid condition”, is then seen as grounds for further tortures and a lengthier imprisonment. More recent developments in psychiatric torture include what is termed a ‘treatment mall’. This ‘treatment mall’ is actually a reeducation camp and brainwashing center run by the state “hospital” with the aim of churning out a greater number of victims complicit in their own torture and victimization.

We call on people around the world to come together over this issue of forced psychiatry, and to help us put an end to this crime against humanity, once and for all. We would like to see a mental health system in which all patients were voluntary, and in which no patients were held prisoner against their will and wishes. We would like to see mental health facilities that were not psychiatric prisons, but instead were facilities in which clients were free to come and go as they so please and choose. Non-consensual treatments, both inpatient and outpatient, are assaults on the health and the freedom of the species and, therefore, not to be tolerated.

By standing together in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, fellow human beings, victimized by this practice, we can and will bring it to an end. On this day consider what you might be able to do to help your brothers and sisters tortured by forced psychiatry. Although we have been granted the right to receive psychiatric treatment, unlike in any other branch of what purports to be medicine, we have no legal right to refuse such treatment. This right needs to be acknowledged and enacted into law. By joining with us in this struggle, you can help us liberate people from psychiatric slavery–the mistreatments and tortures that have oppressed so many for so long.

There is a better world waiting for us just around the bend. This better world is a world in which people are not oppressed and mistreated by greedy, arrogant and power-crazed traitors to their species. We will not reach this better world unless we make an effort to do so. We have in many nations of the world ended the practice of chattel slavery.  We need to end the practice of psychiatric slavery as well. When we do so, we will be that much closer to the better world for one and all that we have envisioned. Now that we’ve gone there in our heads, we need to take a first few actual steps in that direction. Offering support for victims of  the torture that coercive psychiatric interventions entail, in their effort to end that torture, is one of the ways in which we may thus progress.

Epiphany On The Threshold Of A Better World

We need to say, and in no uncertain terms, “NO to forced mental health treatment!” Forced treatment is always mistreatment. This totalitarian loophole in our democratic system of government should be closed, and closed for good. The problem is not, and never was, forced this therapy or that therapy. The problem is force in and of itself because force involves denying one of the values we hold most basic to the democratic process, namely individual liberty.

There are just so many ways in which people are made un-free through mental health maltreatment. They can be restrained by restraining devices, they can be subjected to solitary confinement, they can be electro-shocked against their wishes, and they can be drugged regardless of their own feelings on the subject, even when out of the so called mental hospital, more literally a psychiatric prison, and in the larger community.

A new law is not going to fix this old problem at all. A new law will merely add to the confusion. There are so many laws, and in few places is this more true than in the mental health system, that are not being enforced now. We certainly don’t need another silly law on the books. What we need is for the old law that allows this over extended exercise in tyranny to be repealed. When force is not the law, as far as mental health treatment is concerned, then force is a violation of the law the way it is everywhere else.

The mental health system in fact serves as the way in which mental health authorities get around the law. People are neglected, abused, violated, and die in these facilities, and the offenders are let off with little more than a knuckle rapping if that. The people confined to these facilities are not schizophrenics or manic depressives, and they didn’t come from another planet. They are human beings the same as you and me. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are lying words in a lying book used to make human beings out to be something other than what they are.

Violence is growing more and more common in contemporary society. Violence is growing more and more common because of the lack of a sense of community, and because of a breakdown in communications. Violence is not growing more common because of an epidemic of “mental illness”. That is the myth. “Mental illnesses” don’t kill people any more than guns kill people. When all is said and done, it is people who kill people, and it is people who should be held accountable.

Tolerance is the answer. Tolerance and an end to these arbitrary and discriminatory laws. Intolerance breeds intolerance. We see the results of this intolerance in the multiple murders that take place on an almost daily basis here and there. These acts of violence weren’t perpetuated by people with “mental illnesses”. They are intolerant acts perpetuated by frustrated individuals reacting to other acts of intolerance. Build a more livable world, for everybody not just for some monied elite, and such acts of violence should subside to the degree that such a world is actually achieved. There is often a reason, you see, to unreason, and it’s not the sort of reason that should be ignored.

Harmful practices, ‘the golden rule’, and a better world

I’m not a religious person; in fact, I’m an out and out atheist. All the same, the one piece of scripture that has had a great influence on me is that concerning what has been termed ‘the golden rule’. ‘The golden rule’ goes like this, “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself”.

I remember going to a book signing event featuring Patch Adams, M.D. once, and if I recall correctly, during the course of this event Patch said something to the effect of, “I would never give psychiatric ‘medications’ to a person I liked.” This is not the case with most psychiatrists. Many psychiatrists dish powerful neuroleptic drugs out like they thought they were some kindly old lady with a candy jar. Physicians who have any regard for their patient’s health should show a little more reserve and caution.

Electro-shock therapy involves sending electrical currents through the brain, the bodies central command unit, and the organ of thought, in order to induce a grand mal seizure. Grand mal seizures, ironically, in some quarters, are thought to be the antithesis of psychosis. Grand mal seizures are not good for the brain. Anesthesia may be able to keep the person from realizing he or she has just undergone a physically traumatizing procedure, but this is, in fact, the case,

Both psychiatric drugs and electro-convulsive shock therapy are procedures that reduce brain mass, or destroy brain cells. Put differently, and to be more exacting, they damage the brain. On top of damaging the brain, atypical neuroleptic drugs also produce a metabolic syndrome that affects adversely the overall health of the individual taking these drugs. This metabolic syndrome causes excessive weight gain, diabetes, heart conditions, and a number of other ill health conditions.

Biological psychiatric theory has it that the annoying behaviors associated with mental ill health are caused by some abnormality in the brain, and therefore, treatment needs to target areas of the brain. We destroy the offending behaviors by suppressing or eliminating activity the area of the brain causing the annoyances. Basically, while we may have outlawed radical brain surgery in mental health treatment, our psychiatrists are still very gung ho about procedures that arrive at the same result.

I personally think many of the psychiatric practices currently being engaged in run completely counter to ‘the golden rule’. I don’t think there are many psychiatrists who would approve of brain damage and physical harm being done to their own persons. This makes it all the more ironic that they are so very enthusiastic about doing damage to other people. I know there are other ways besides the way of biological medical model psychiatric treatment, and I feel like one of those other ways has got to be following ‘the golden rule’.

Through adherence to ‘the golden rule’ I think it may be possible to reach a better world than the one we have presently got at hand. There is one major snafu in ‘the golden rule’ though, and that snafu involves people who persistently violate this rule. People who put their own selfish and narrow minded interests above the interests of their fellows, these people put this better world in jeopardy.

Violators of “the golden rule”, such as medical model psychiatrists, Wall Street bankers, and other evil doers, have to be punished and contained if we are to hold onto to this vision of a better world for everyone in the future. “Doing unto others as you would not have them do unto yourself”, or, to put it another way, bigotry, is not the kind of behavior that we will be able to tolerate. We must, in other words, tolerate all behaviors except intolerance if we are ever to reach this better world.

We Need More Liberties For American Citizens, Not Fewer

I generally don’t think anybody should be forcibly treated in a psychiatric hospital, but I make an exception in the case of David Vognar. I think Mr Vognar, and another Huffington Post blogger mentioned previously, DJ Jaffe, might be able to benefit a great deal from forced mental health intervention. Mr. Vognar claims to have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Mr. Vognar has apparently not spent much time imprisoned in a state hospital, or he wouldn’t have written a Huffington Post blog post like the one he did recently calling for an expansion in the use of involuntary treatment on people labeled “mentally ill”. The post bears the leading, and extremely prejudicial, heading, We Need to Expand Involuntary Treatment for Severe Mental Illness. I happen to vehemently disagree with Mr. Vognar on this issue. I don’t think we need to expand the federal penitentiary system, one of the largest in the world, in this country either.

If Mr. Vognar and Mr Jaffe were confined to a state mental hospital for the length of their lives, I think it would be fair to say that a great number of the rest of the people on this planet could sleep more secure. If Mr. Vognar and Mr. Jaffe were subjected to a perpetual regimen of mind snuffing pharma-tortures, and seizure inducing mini-electrocutions, as well as the complete suppression of their personal opinions, I have no doubt that the world as a whole would be a much better place in which to live. Intolerance and hate crimes are a plague, and the best way to deal with this plague is by putting the worst offenders out of commission. Mr. Vognar and Mr. Jaffe are too ‘seriously disturbed’ to ever be ‘cured’. They are, like I say, ‘seriously disturbed’, and to suggest that they could change their behavior in any way, shape, or form is merely to “stigmatize” them. They, being “sick”, don’t have the control necessary to manage such a transformation. We should therefore, out of the kindness in our hearts, imprison them in a state hospital for the duration of their days. Understand that this is a preventive measure, by detaining them in this fashion we have prevented the detention of a great many more people in coercive *cough* ‘care’.

5/5/12 Philadelphia

Connecticut college student and monitor of the event, Caitlin Belforti, speaking at the Friends Center in Philadelphia.

New York activist Daniel Hazen speaking.

Aki Imai is from Ohio. He launched the Our Life After Labels submission-based blog.

Joe Rogers, a Philly local, is the director of the National Mental Health Self-help Clearinghouse.

Signs of the times.

John Judge read a statement of support from Paula J. Caplan who was unable to attend.

Long time San Francisco activist and retired attorney Ted Chabasinski.

The backdrop for the mornings events.

Godly Mathew once spent one hundred consecutive days protesting against psychiatric abuse outside Philadelphia’s Friends Hospital.

Down with psychiatric labels. Up with human beings.

Ted’s banner.

Inside the Friends Center events get underway.

Outside of the Friends Center where the rally took place.

Inside again.

The march to the Convention Center minutes away.

Director of the Anchorage Alaska based Center for Psychiatric Rights lawyer Jim Gottstein.

The demonstration outside of the Convention Center.

Pedestrians crossing the street.

Protesters outside of the Convention Center.

Demonstrators and pedestrians.

The Icarus Project well represented.

The shrinks label bible, in revision, and its discontents.

What’s that? Psychopharmacomania?

David Oaks, director of MindFreedom International, at the microphone beside Philadelphia native Susan Rogers.

Amid other not so spontaneous eruptions of Mad Pride!

Nope, No Bipolar Disorder, Not This Time. Sorry.

A New Zealand woman has been given a formal apology and an insurance payment after being hospitalized and shocked 200 times for an “illness” that she didn’t even have. The story in TVNZ bears the heading, Wrongly diagnosed woman shocked 200 times.

At 17, [Joan] Bellingham was training to be a nurse, and she claimed she was bullied by one of her tutors because she was a lesbian.

The bullying nursing tutor drove her to a hospital and had her committed for “neurotic personality disorder.”

That was 42 years ago.

Between 1970 and 1982, Bellingham was admitted to hospital 24 times and had about 200 ECT treatments.

Three years after being first admitted to the hospital, she’s received her degree in “Major Mental Disorders”.

She was in and out of hospital but was kept highly medicated. In 1973 – three years after she was first committed – she was diagnosed as a schizophrenic, a diagnosis maintained until 1982.

She has also received a Hepititis C diagnosis, thought to have been contracted while in the hospital.

She doesn’t reflect extensively, in this article, on the effects this kind of damaging and forced maltreatment might have had on her health and her life subsequently.

I wonder, hmmm. Is it possible that there are thousands and thousands of people being held at the present time in psychiatric hospitals around the world for non-existent “illnesses”? If so, I would imagine there could be a great deal of potential for more and more of this sort of coverage in the future.

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery Chastises Dr. Oz

The Sacramento Bee is to be commended for running the story, National Mental Health Coalition Calls “Dr. Oz” Electroshock Show One-Sided, on The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery’s (NCMHR) view of a segment The Dr. Oz Show is running on electro-shock.

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) calls upon the producers of “The Dr. Oz Show” to provide balanced and truthful coverage of the risks of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), in which grand mal seizures are electrically induced, usually to treat severe depression.

Dr. Oz apparently wants to give the impression that electro-shock is a safe procedure. If efforts on Capitol Hill to get the electro-shock devices declared safe by the FDA without further research failed, maybe Dr. Oz should listen to those people who have had first hand experience with this issue.

“Shock survivors” and many other mental health advocates assert that ECT’s disabling effects – including permanent memory loss and cognitive deficits – outweigh possible benefits, and call for potential ECT recipients to be told the risks so they can make an informed choice.

Informed consent is never truly informed consent until it is fully informed consent.

“The research is clear: ECT causes closed head injury, temporary euphoria, then return of depression but with enduring memory loss,” says Dr. Daniel B. Fisher, psychiatrist and NCMHR board member. Among the show’s false claims are that less electricity is used in unilateral ECT. “In reality,” Dr. Fisher said, “unilateral ECT requires more electricity.” Calling the show’s claim of 80 percent effectiveness “vastly exaggerated,” Dr. Fisher pointed out that, while many may experience a lifting of depression, this is only temporary, but the disabling side effects are permanent. In addition, many ECT recipients say their depression was exacerbated by the stress associated with their ECT-related cognitive disabilities.

Electro-shock survivors need to be listened to regardless of whether their experiences have been positive or negative. This kind of suppression of the evidence in the name of doing harm to the gullible is something that must be frowned on in all instances for basic humanitarian reasons.

The segment of The Dr. Oz show in question was called The Shock That Could Save Your Life. It would only be fitting and fair, not to mention truthful, if Dr. Oz were to air another segment of his show called The Shock That Could Take Your Life.

Shock survivors and other critics of psychiatric violence are encouraged to give Dr. Oz a piece of their mind in the comment section below the page containing the video.

Former Mental Patients Suing Hospitals Over Electroshock

I was surprised to come across this tidbit of information today. It’s from an article in Stuff, a New Zealand rag, Shock treatment ‘needed’.

The retired Timaru woman has every reason to have an opinion on the 250 former psychiatric patients who are suing psychiatric hospitals throughout New Zealand over their treatment and the use of ECT. Miss Lister also received the treatment, but her views of it are very different to those taking the legal action.

New Zealand has 250 former patients to take on electro-shock!? If it didn’t have much of a survivor movement in the past, it certainly has one now.

The news media picks up on one woman who didn’t mind ECT so much, but preferred LSD. She goes back to the time when they experimented with that substance legally on psychiatric patients. There are, let’s see, at least 250 people out there with harsher views on the subject of ECT.

I did a little Google search of my own to see what this is all about, and one thing is for certain, if anything is going on here, the press don’t seem to have picked up on it yet. I did find an earlier more balanced article in Stuff again, Electroconvulsive therapy endures.

Women receive ECT nearly twice as much as men do, and elderly women receive the most. Reasons for this could include loneliness and isolation, specialists say.

You don’t mean those elderly women, already at a risk for Alzheimers and dementia, do you?

Why do I call them survivors?

Memory returns within six weeks after treatment for 95 per cent of patients, but “it might take a bit longer” for the other 5 per cent, she [psychiatrist Pamela Melding] says. The greatest risk was to people with cardiovascular problems, but this was monitored and considered before treatment. Muscle pains, ringing in the ears, headaches and nausea are other adverse effects.

A certain number of these patients die during the procedure. Shock, coupled with cardiovascular problems, for instance, can produce a cadaver.

My feeling is that this lack of coverage has something to do with the way mental patients and former mental patients are treated in general.

“We will look back on ECT as we now look back on lobotomies.”

Such were the concluding sentiments of University of Auckland psychologist and researcher John Read.

Having seen the ups and downs of the movement against shock in this country, the USA, I would say celebrating is still a bit premature. I would also wager that the eclipse won‘t happen without direct action, but the good news is at least New Zealanders have the people to make a start at changing things for the better where people facing mental health treatment are concerned in their homeland.

Ways In Which the Human Rights of Mental Patients Are Violated

    1. They are silenced while strangers presume to speak for them
    2. They are lied to and about
    3. They are given inadequate legal counsel
    4. They are harassed by the police and locked up for piddling offenses
    5. They are subjected to kangaroo hearings and rigged court proceedings
    6. They are prevented from voting or holding elected office
    7. They are removed from environments they are familiar with
    8. They are expected to fail at every task they take on
    9. They are treated like children beyond the age of consent
    10. They are harmed by people who claim to be helping them
    11. They are mistaken for the symptoms of “disease”
    12. They are expected to work for nothing and this slavery is called rehab
    13. They are officially stigmatized through the records kept of their hospital stays
    14. They are the victims of violent crime more often than they are the perpetuators
    15. They are not allowed weapons with which to defend themselves
    16. They are discriminated against by employers, educators, and the general public
    17. They are stereotyped in the media
    18. They are humiliated and disrespected as a rule
    19. They are criticized for showing any pride or self-respect, and for telling the truth
    20. They are rewarded for lying, for betrayal, and for parroting the words and deeds of their oppressors
    21. They are deprived of opportunities most people take for granted
    22. They are ostracized, segregated and isolated
    23. They are imprisoned in state hospitals
    24. They are restrained to beds and chairs by leather straps
    25. They are placed in solitary confinement (seclusion or quiet rooms)
    26. They are sexually and physically abused, and the perpetuators of this abuse get off with little more than a knuckle rap
    27. They are shocked
    28. They are drugged
    29. They are injured by shock, drugging, restraint, and physical abuse
    30. They are killed

Panel Recommends Testing Of Shock Devices

The FDA Panel voted Friday to recommend testing of electroshock devices before their safety status might be changed. The New York Times covered the story in an article bearing the headline F.D.A. Panel Is Split on Electroshock Risks.

Comments sent to the FDA on the subject overwhelmingly favored testing.

Nearly 80 percent of 3,045 comments sent to the F.D.A. asked for stricter oversight or even a ban on electroshock treatment. It remains controversial with some advocacy groups and former patients who say it is unsafe, ineffective and causes brain damage.

The vote was as follows:

The neurological devices advisory panel to the F.D.A delivered a mixed verdict. Ten panel members favored and eight opposed classifying electroshock devices as a high risk for the treatment of severe depression, its main use. The panel favored high-risk designations for schizophrenia and three other disorders by votes of 13 to 4, 12 to 5, 14 to 3 and 16 to 1, as the advisers said there was little proof of any benefit for them.

There was one exception to this decision favoring testing and that was in the area of catatonia.

But the panel voted 9 to 8 in favor of making it easier to use electroshock for catatonia, citing a lack of other treatment.

This sidesteps the little matter of actual safety. It is certainly no safer for a person to be shocked for catatonia than it is for a person to be shocked for depression.

Dr. Peter Breggin, a New York psychiatrist, in a Huffington Post blog post, FDA Recommends Testing of ECT Machines, indicates what sort of problems may occur if this sort of loophole is permitted.

If the diagnosis of catatonia is given this loophole, we will see more and more people diagnosed with this disorder. It will be a potential medical disaster because most catatonic-like states are now caused by drug toxicity, including neuroleptic malignant syndrome from the antipsychotic drugs and serotonin syndrome from the serotonergic antidepressants. I have been a medical expert in malpractice cases in which clinicians have mistaken these toxic syndromes for psychiatric disorders, resulting in chronic disability or death from lack of proper treatment. I predict that thousands of patients who need treatment for psychiatric drug toxicity will instead end up on the shock table.

The FDA is said to generally go along with the recommendations of its panels. The panelists found in favor of testing before electroshock machines can be reclassified category II devices so they are likely to remain category III devices for some time to come. Whether the FDA will allow any kind of hypocritical category II loophole for catatonic states remains a matter for speculation.