The Mental Health Movement Is Not A Mental Health Movement

Mental health movement propaganda has reached a nauseatingly feverish pitch of late. Mental health and “mental illness” months, May and October respectably, have become times to blitzkrieg the American public with pathetic personal stories that embellish appeals for money and legislative action. The legislative action is generally aimed at treating people who don’t want to be treated, not wanting to be treated being perceived as an indication of a more severe “illness”.

The problem with this frenzied state of affairs is that it means increasing the numbers of people in treatment and, additionally, it means multiplying the numbers of negative outcomes. Certainly throwing money at any problem is not going to make it go away, quite the reverse, and such is the situation with the mental health treatment world. When you consider that safe and effective treatments are the exception rather than the rule, you’ve also got to consider the fact that we are throwing good money after bad.

Mental health is not, at the present time, to be found in mental health treatment. Nor is physical health. Compliance is a matter of buying the lie that will eventually kill you. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda. 1 in 4 people are not “sick”. The idea is not only patently absurd, it’s offensive. The number one notion that the mental health movement is promoting and selling is the notion that “mental illness” exists, that it is real, and that it is physical. Apparently, a good dictionary to settle the matter is too costly of an investment to be made. Who needs a dictionary anyway when you’ve got the unmitigated gall to redefine everything to suit your propaganda purposes.

The gap between minor and major “mental illness” is as small, or as great, as you want to make it. People, given the most severe diagnostic labels, have been known to recover, and escape from the treatment gulag. How do they manage this seemingly incredible feat? In the same fashion that people with more minor “mental illness” labels escape the mental health system. The mental health treatment system is a dependency system, and those that make their way into more healthy lifestyles, do so by becoming independent of that system.

Prognosis, as fate, doesn’t offer many options. It’s like playing against loaded dice. Your chances of winning are zilch. There are, therefore, better career choices than that of statistical dead weight. The question is how long is it going to take before the good intentioned mental health movement stops selling and promoting “mental illness”? This “mental illness” is actually the apotheosis of the negative prognosis. It has an existence, surely, but only in so far as we believe in it, and only in so far as we invest in it. Think elves and unicorns. As long as there is an ear for it, there will be a market for the good bedtime story.

Faulty logic can be engaged in, coming up with erroneous conclusions, without correction infinitely. Folly of itself doesn’t necessarily lead to wisdom. Circular reasoning has it’s circuitous course evading any potential resolution. “Mental illness” as an enterprise has it’s obvious shortcomings and limitations. One of these limitations is definitional. The mental health movement is captivated with an illusion. “Mental illness” is the illusion that the mental health movement is captivated with. It cannot move beyond this illusion without moving beyond itself, and its aims and illusions.

Realism is devoid of illusion by definition. The false us and them dichotomy has fallen by the wayside. We are no longer in a realm of the healthy and fully human versus the sickly and inferior subhuman. Such unproven leaps of judgment are not permitted. Triumph by the elimination of chance is not an option. We’ve dispensed with the loaded dice. The door is not locked, and the patient is free to come and go at will. Your true adult has always had more options than your fake adult child. Success, for the suffering, once again becomes a possibility. Given the right circumstances, it becomes a certainty.

At The APA Protest In New York City

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Lester Cook, with bullhorn, and Celia Brown, director of MindFreedom International, in front of the Jacob K. Jarvits Convention Center in New York City.

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Jim Gottstein, director of the Center for Psychiatric Rights, Gary Null,  author and radio show host,  and Harry Bentivegna Lichtenstein at the demonstration.

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Vera H. Sherav, founder and president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, speaks at the protest.

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Laura Delano, psychiatric survivor and Mad In America blogger, speaks at the protest.

The APA, Big Pharma, and the Feds Get Cozy

The theme of the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association this year is Changing the Practice and Perception of Psychiatry.  In other words, whitewash, and therefore, actor Alan Alda, former Senator Patrick Kennedy, Vice President Joseph Biden, and actor Joey “Pants” Pantoliano are present at the event. This is PR, baby, and in a big way, too. The drug companies are also well represented. There is, in fact, a Disclosure Index in the downloadable program that shows the financial relationships between the speakers and Big Pharma. Most of the speakers have such ties.

As for Change in Practice, the APA began in Philadelphia in 1844 as the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane, there were 13 members back then. Fast forward, there are 36,000 some members now. I was reading just the other day how someone didn’t think there were enough pediatric psychiatrists in the USA. The slant of this article then was that we need more child psychiatrists labeling and drugging more children, a situation sure to result in more maimed, wounded, and in some cases, dead children.

The fact that Vice President Joe Biden has been invited to give a lecture tomorrow should come as a surprise to no one. One of President Barrack Obama’s most insistent reelection campaign promises involved criminalizing mental patients. Why else would their names be put on a criminal background checklist while their second amendment constitutional rights were routinely violated? Vice President Biden was chosen to chair a task force making scapegoats of people in the mental health system for the violence of a very few individuals.

Out of this task force, and other committee meetings, it has been proposed that school workers be trained as mental health cops. These mental health cops would target children for labeling and drugging, and they would bust them for “mental illness”. The idea is that if we catch them early enough, they won’t slip through the cracks in the system, and grow up to become multiple murderers. I have more of a worry, on the other hand, that they may be murdered instead, and by psychiatry.

I think we must be in the second century of the brain now, researchers are so intent on finding a biological basis for so called “mental illness”. They’ve got it all figured out. “Mental illness” is physical illness, black is white, war is peace, hate is love, and death is life. If there’s a third century of the brain, I’d wager they won’t find any biological basis for so called “mental illness” then either. What we will get out of the matter is more dead babies, more dead adults, and more dead senior citizens.

One cannot fail to see irony in the fact that the same government that would contain its mental patients through violence, attributes violence to mental patients. Labeling a person “mentally ill” sanctions  libel, abduction, assault, torture, imprisonment, neglect, brainwashing, poisoning and even murder of that person, all in the name of mental health. Psychiatry is voodoo science. In that profession, you’ve got phony doctors, using phony medicine (real poison), on phony patients, to treat phony diseases, with devastating results.

 

Protesting Psychiatric Oppression 2014

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On May 3 through 7, 2014, the American Psychiatric Association will be holding its annual meeting in New York City. The theme of this years meeting is Changing the Practice and Perception of Psychiatry. This event is not likely to touch upon the issue of human rights violations by that profession as it’s primarily a public relations scheme and a defensive evasion of responsibility. Among the distinguished guests assisting the top dogs in the field of psychiatry in pulling off this professional whitewash extravaganza are Vice President Joe Biden, actor Alan Alda, and actor Joey “Pants” Pantoliano.

At present the rights and freedoms of citizens are being threatened on several fronts by this same profession that would be talking change. It is common knowledge among many people who deal with the mental health system on a daily basis that things within that system are getting worse, not better. There is repressive legislation being pushed by special interests groups, especially in the instance of H. R. 3717, a bill, deceptively called “the helping families in mental health crisis act”. H. R. 3717 would essentially deprive patients of a great deal of the hard won legal rights and protections that they had achieved over the years if it were passed into law. There is also the issue of forced treatment, made most acutely apparent with the recent abduction of Justina Pelletier by the state of Massachusetts.

On May 4th there will be a protest of the APA across the street from the Jacob Javitz Convention Center where the APA annual meeting is being held. This protest, themed Stop Psychiatric Assault, and orchestrated by psychiatric survivors, their friends, and allies is co-sponsored by the human rights organizations MindFreedom International and the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights. To my way thinking, this protest is much more important than the whitewashing ceremony the APA will be conducting. It is so important, in fact, that I am making the trip all the way from Florida to NYC to participate in this action.

Organized psychiatric crime may have a few Hollywood celebrities and politicians fooled, but the rest of us are more astute than that bunch of bozos about the situation. Oppressive maltreatment and abuse masquerading as “help” are commonplace in the mental health system. Psychiatry kills more often than it “helps”. As this is the case, any and all action that can be taken against the abuses conducted in the name of this profession are called for. Only by protesting oppression, and by educating the public, can we bring attention to the severity of the problem we face, and by bringing attention to it, change it.

I hope you will, if possible, join us on May 4th, 2014 in our protest across from the annual meeting of the APA. We need all the people we can get in this, our struggle, against forced treatment and for human rights. Freedom used to mean something in this country, and it still means something to those of us who have experienced its eclipse. People are being deprived of freedom, insidiously crushed, and slowly poisoned to death by psychiatry at this very moment. You can do your part to end this death and destruction by joining us on May 4th across from the Jacob Javitz Convention Center in New York City when we strike a blow for life and freedom.

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Join MindFreedom, Protest Psychiatric Brutality!

The Myth of The Jail and Prison Treatment Facility

One Deinstitutionalization Is Not Two Deinstitutionalizations

Much bad ink has been spilled over calling the nation’s jails and prisons mental health facilities because of the number of people within their walls who have also been given psychiatric labels. The latest report along these lines claims there are something like 10xs more mental patients who reside in criminal justice facilities than in state hospitals. These numbers come from a study conducted by the Treatment Advocacy Center, the USA’s number one lobbyist for more forced psychiatric drugging, and the National Sheriffs Association. The culprit in this debacle is said to be deinstitutionalization.

Let me start off by saying people don’t go to jails and prisons because they are sick and because they wish to receive medical attention. People are sent to jails and prisons by the courts to receive punishments because they broke the law of the land. Second, state hospitals have traditionally been psychiatric jails and prisons. Merely trading this kind of prison for the other kind of prison doesn’t make a hospital in actual fact. I would say that, given the prison overcrowding problem that comes of three strikes laws, America has grown increasingly intolerant of difference, and law crazy itself. If your way of dealing with bizarre behavior is to outlaw it, your jails and prisons are going to fill with people behaving bizarrely. Bizarre behavior may be a crime, but it is only a disease by a wild stretch of the overactive imagination.

Statistics tell us their own story. For statistics, before we look at those coming from the recent study, let me refer to the Preface of the 2006 book crazy authored by journalist Pete Earley. Earley is another apostle of this blame deinstitutionalization religion. According to Earley, in 1955, there were 560,000 people in state mental hospitals. He speculates not about the numbers of people who might have been referred to as “mentally ill” in prison or jail at that time. Between 1955 and the year 2000, the population jumped from 166 million people to 276 million people. Given this population increase, and no change, the numbers of people in state mental hospitals would have been something like 930,000. Earley gives the present number of people, from maybe a 2002 or thereabouts survey, with “mental illnesses” in jails and prisons at 300,000. He gives the present number in state mental hospitals at 55,000.

Hmmm. Something peculiar is going on here. 500,000 people are unaccounted for. These are the people who, with the population increase figured in, would be in the state mental hospital system if we were still doing business the way we had in 1955. 500,000 people is more than half the number of people we are dealing with in the stats for a later year. You add 55,000 to 300,000 and you are still lacking 205,000 people from the 1955 figure. This is not the kind of figure that supports the contention that deinstitutionalization was a mistake, or that it was a disastrous failure. Instead it would seem to indicate that more and more people described as “mentally ill”, if not fully recovering, are being better integrated into the communities from which they came. This is a coup for least restrictive care, and least restrictive care is something that nobody receives as a prisoner on the locked ward of a state mental hospital.

According to the TAC and NSA research, there are 35,000 people in state hospitals, a 2012 stat, and 356,000 in jails and prison. Wow. We’ve got 20,000 fewer people, referencing the Earley stats, in state mental hospitals than we had 10 or so years earlier! If we’ve got more in jails and prison, too, part of that increase can be explained by population increase. What Earley gave us was something of an estimation based on statistics anyway, but we’re still minus a great number of people who would be “hospitalized” in the year 1955. All in all, I’d call deinstitutionalization a major success story. We’ve still got a lot of people in jails and prisons, given stiffer sentences and overcrowding, who don’t need to be there. One deinstitutionalization success story doesn’t justify an increased amount of institutionalization for another sort of institution.

Blaming violence on “mental illness” is the latest media and political trend. I’d like to remind people that the court of public opinion is not a court of law. We have a supply of the kind of acts, in the present climate, that the media circus demands. Should we look at the number of violent acts committed by people with no experience in the mental health treatment system, I’m sure that those crimes are not decreasing dramatically in number either. Violence is not a symptom of any “mental disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). When it comes down to it, death is much more likely to be a result of gun fire than it is to be a result of any psychiatric diagnostic label in a mental health professional’s repertoire. I suggest that we will have more success with the problem if we deal with the causes, and I don’t see “illness”, physical nor mental, as one of the primary causes. I would, on the other hand, do something about the climate of suspicion, hatred, and indifference that breeds crime, hardship, and troubles. Here, I think we can actually make a difference if we tried, and that is exactly what we should do.

 

Abolition Is Not Reform, Abolition is Emancipation

There are those who like to call the mental health system “broken”. There are usually two reasons for doing so. One is that a person would like to see more money pumped into the mental health system. The other is that they are encountering people they don’t want to encounter, and they feel that if the system worked, the sight of these people would not be disturbing them so.

I don’t call the mental health system “broken”. The mental health system is actually a “mental illness” system and, if anything, it “works” altogether too well. We’ve got a saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” This saying leads up to a further, but unexpressed, saying, “Adult children should neither be seen nor heard.” What do we do with our adult children? There’s the loony bin. You figure it out.

If “mental illness”, as the late Thomas Szasz claimed, is a metaphor. “Mental health” is a metaphor as well. Bodies get physical diseases. Minds just get fuzzy, half-baked ideas, and illogical thoughts. The pursuit of folly though is not a disease any more than the pursuit of wisdom is a cure. We are free to chose either pursuit, or neither, as we wish. Of course, despite the fact that no disease has been found to explain aberrant behaviors, that doesn’t prevent people from speculating about “disease” as a cause.

If you’re going to call the mental health system “broken”, the first question one has to ask is what is the purpose of the mental health system. For example, is the mental health system there to “heal sick” people, to “fix broken brains”? If so, it has always done an absolutely lousy job not “healing” and not “fixing” them. I submit that the real purpose of the mental health system is to keep people with psychiatric labels out of other people’s hair. This, the system, considering the shots it has taken due to scandals arising from institutionalization, does sufficiently enough.

What is a mental hospital? Is it a place for “healing sick” people, or is it a place for punishing people who behave “badly”? While the nurses station found on most psych wards suggests the former, the locked doors found in nearly all of them says it is the latter. All you have to do is to consult the dictionary to get the idea that something is awry here. A mental hospital is a peculiar hospital, to say the least, but it is a particular prison. The distinction between the two depends upon whether you think it does a better job “healing the sick”, or punishing the misbehaving.

I echo Dr. Szasz in calling for the abolition of forced mental health treatment. The system, as meat grinder, as a destroyer of men and women, isn’t broken in the slightest. It does it’s job of breaking spirits, of swallowing up bodies, and of spitting out bones exquisitely well. I think, if they really and truly cared about their clients, more mental health professionals would be taking the same position. This destroying of people, by going straight at their potentials, and watching them fizzle, is a thing that should not be tolerated. Difference should be expected and encouraged, not suppressed.

This accent on perceiving a “broken” system is a call for reform, and this reform usually means one of two things. Either people think it is too hard to get people treatment, or people think the treatment they receive too harsh. I am against reform as reform is always piece-meal, and there’s no end to it. Reform always, and of necessity, leads to further reform. I support the abolition of forced mental health treatment. Prejudice and discrimination, so-called “stigma”, comes of force. End forced mental health treatment, and you will also be ending so many things that are wrong with the mental health system today. There is no reason, no good reason anyway, in my opinion, for persevering in the present farce of pretending otherwise.

Diagnose Not Lest Ye Be Diagnosed

There are few people more in need of mental health treatment today than mental health professionals, unless perhaps we think about treating the relatives of people with “mental illness” labels. Yes, the very people who lock people up should be locked up on account of their proclivity to lock people up. We should give it a “disease” label and treatment. Fair is only fair as foul is awfully foul. It’s just plain un-American.

My reason for going there? I’m seeing all these well intentioned people interested in doing something about “mental health issues”, and that something amounts to, in effect, throwing a flammable liquid on the fire in an effort to put it out. We have an epidemic of “mental illness” labeling in this country, and the method we’ve come up with for dealing with it is by doing everything within our powers to increase the amount of labeling going on.

Our schools, deathly afraid of producing psycho-killers, are training teachers to screen their classes for any indication of “mental illness”.  Isolating and treating the labeled student is supposed to be a violence prevention measure. If the kid is just a little weird and not violent in the slightest. It doesn’t matter. The weird student must bear a psychiatric label, and be scrutinized for his or her potential to do harm, however speculative.

It was rumored when I was a kid that we’d driven a teacher to distraction, or insane, for lack of a better term. No more. Now schools have got the conduct problem licked as conduct is no longer a grade on a report card. Bad conduct, misbehaving, is now, according to our pediatric psychiatrists, a bona fide “mental health disorder”. Given this circumstance, class clown is no longer bound for the circus, but rather for the loony bin. That’s right, clowning is a certifiable “disease”.

I had this friend with the “borderline” label who was going on to me about how important it is to take “mental disorders” seriously. I fell automatically into disagreement with this person. I think taking “mental disorder” seriously is the most direct way to developing a more “serious mental disorder” that I can imagine. Maintaining a sense of humor is the best medicine for this sort of thing. Whatever sort of “disorder” you might have developed, as long as you take it lightly, it can’t be serious.

Of course, if you don’t take your “mental disorder” seriously you are in danger of being nabbed for conduct disorder. Everybody has a “mental disorder”, even if the “mental disorder” a person has hasn’t been invented yet. Some of us just haven’t been caught. Were your “mental disorder” actually an order, that wouldn’t be so bad, unless, of course, it involved orders from the planet Xylon. Disorders from Xylon, that’s okay.

My point? Well, judging from the news, everyday of the week, we are locking up the wrong people. The people least responsible for greenhouse warming, mass extinction, corporate imperialism, poverty and international conflict are often the people who we have selected to endure our psychiatric institutions as patient-prisoners.  I’d like to point out that this is more an instance of ruining the world rather than it is  of saving it. Have we made a mistake? Yes, I think so, and many mistakes at that.

Is “mental illness” underfunded?

One way to deal with a problem is not to pay for it . In fact, it could be a solution to all sorts of problems. Problems that are subsidized tend to thrive.

The man who probably did the most to end forced psychiatric treatment in the USA in recent history was a Republican politician by the name of Ronald Reagan. I think you’ve probably all heard of him. He helped deinstitutionalize institutions, first in California, and second in the rest of the nation, by defunding them.

 A little refresher 101 might come in handy at this point. We have had a mental health movement for some time in this country. This movement is actually a “mental illness” movement. (Review the first paragraph.)

First you have moral management with the introduction of asylums, then here comes Dorothea Dix contributing her part to the asylum building boom that immediately followed. At the beginning of the 20th century, there’s Clifford Beers doing his part for mental hygiene, supporting treatment, bashing illness, if entirely theoretical illness at that.

 The mental health movement wants the government to pay for mental health treatment. The mental health movement hit pay dirt with the Kennedy administration. The Kennedy administration came up with the community mental health system idea, and passed an act to get it started.

Depopulate state mental hospitals, and what do you do with all the inhabitants then? No Clue? Well, one thing you could do is create little mini-hospitals in communities throughout the country. Another thing you could do is treat the prodigal son or daughter returning from one of these institutions like everybody else. The Kennedy admin legislation decided on the first option.

I read once that a person is “mentally ill” until the insurance runs out, and I think this statement is relatively true. If necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, when one is subsidized by the tax payer, working ceases to become a necessity.

 Today there is a movement directed towards hiring patients in the mental health system as para-professional mental health workers. I have a few issues with this approach. Namely, what is the difference between a disabled person and a non-disabled person in the mental health field? Stumped. Well, I will tell you then. Employment.

Employing people in mental health is not getting them jobs in other fields, nor is it getting them very far from the problem, that problem being the mental health system. If a person enters the system against his or her will and wishes, does working for that system really represent a significant improvement?

Unfortunately, mental health insurance parity is on the horizon for which I suggest holding your nose. What was I saying about necessity? I know, There are those people with jobs in mental health care. Maybe some of them might be able to do a little bit of good.  All I can say to  them is, “When are you going to get a real job?”

“Mental Illness” The Industry

It’s an awkward position to be in. If you say one thing you offend one set of people, and if you say another thing you offend another set. Things are definitely not as simple as they were 20 years ago, and yet, at the same time, they are more simple.

Were I ambitious I’d be kissing the asses that would get me somewhere, but I’m not interested in advancing myself in the disability field. It is a field that I think, in itself, reflects much of the corruption in psychiatry, and psychiatry is corrupt through and through.

You’ve got people putting in as many hours, if not more, in the disability field than you do outside of the disability field, and when somebody puts in that kind of time and effort, that person isn’t disabled, literally.

The problem concerns what often tends to be the result of putting in all those hours. If it is more people calling themselves “disabled”, is that really a progressive and positive outcome? If it is a rapidly expanding “mental illness” industry, who needs it?

When we talk about mental health, usually we are talking about mental health treatment, and the people being treated are those labeled “mentally ill”. This makes mental health all about mental health treatment, and not about the absence of “mental illness”.

There are, for example, multiple strategies for prevention on the horizon, but only some of these strategies are actually preventative, some are causative. The thing folks like to downplay is the fact that before the psychiatrist enters the picture disease is conjecture.

Even when a diagnosis has been made, you’ve got psychiatrists calling diagnosis an art. Why is it an art? Simple. It’s not science. We haven’t got any bacteria, we haven’t got any viruses, we haven’t even got any lesions of the brain, but we have got diagnostic labels.

A symptom in psychiatry is an unwanted behavior. Check off enough unwanted behaviors from a list, and you can call the patterns of behavior you are looking at in a person a “Mental disorder”. Psychiatrists do so everyday of the week.

Diagnoses are fluid and subject to change. Normalcy, non-deviance, or mental health, is outside of the doctors domain of expertise and, therefore, outside of the doctors office. Doctors have labels, not cures. Medications manage, they don’t alleviate symptoms. entirely, and it is quite probable that they exasperate symptoms, that is, unwanted behaviors.

The mental health community is not synonymous with the community as a whole. It is this artificial barrier, this insular cushion, this parenthetic netherworld, this nouveau ghetto, borne of coercion, intolerance, prejudice and dependency, that is my locus of concern. I would like to see it shrink rather than expand.

I feel that this turning ill health into a growth industry is criminal and, as such, it should be prosecuted, not encouraged. Problem. The care and management of ‘lunatics’ began as a growth industry, and so it remains to this day. I suggest that perhaps a change in priorities would make much more sense.

The Adult Baby Sitting AKA Mental Health Treatment Business

Adult baby sitting is big business. It is a business that goes by the name of mental health treatment. For adult baby sitting to thrive there are  three requirements: 1. that some adults are assumed to be incapable of making decisions for themselves, 2. that this pseudo-child status is legislated into law, and 3. that other people are paid for assuming the role of responsible adult.

Oh, by the way, adult baby sitting is thriving. The adult baby sitting business is booming big time. The numbers of adult babies are growing very fast, as is, correspondingly, the numbers of adult baby sitters. Adult baby sitting is assured a great future. Looking at Number 2. above, for this pseudo-child status to be legislated into law, law that is actually in opposition to law,  you need another explanation for immaturity. Voila! Now we’ve got medicine, medical science, calling irresponsibility and deviance “disease”.

Medical expertise, where maturity is concerned, has been given  quasi-judicial powers. In fact, it is an alliance of medicine and law that allows for the practice of adult baby sitting on a wide scale basis. The letter of the law can be circumvented, when it comes to incarcerating a person in the adult baby pen, because a determination has been made by medical experts, upheld by judges, that adult behavioral immaturity is a matter of physical disease, and we have a law for containing people with said disease.

This confinement represents a quarantine without true contagion. There is a contagion, truly, but this contagion is a matter of 1. selling adult baby sitting, 2. job security, and 3.. manufacturing adult babies. What is really at work here is supply side economics. First you’ve got the demand for adult babies sitters to handle the supply of adult babies. This in turn generates a demand for more adult babies to fill the growing supply of adult baby sitters. They are out there, we just can’t let them slip through the cracks so to speak, can we?

This business is actually about, and always was about, prejudice, intolerance, and segregation. The old mental asylum represents a sort of nigger town for the mad. I know you’ve heard the slogan, “separate but equal”, well, separate by its nature usually means unequal, and if anything our treatment of the dementedly deviant segment of the population has been very inferior to that of our treatment of the non-deviant majority. The new community mental health system would change this equation ever so slightly by introducing the mental hospital/prison without walls.

Children are under pressure to grow up. Weaning a child from dependency on mama and daddy is what child-rearing is all about. If the child is slow (i.e. immature for its age), now we’ve got the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tag to lay on the child. ADHD allows for more intensive child rearing. We’ve got baby baby sitting for those babies that are more stubborn in their babyishness than other babies. If only it was as simple as saying, “babies will be babies”. Well, actually, it is that simple.

The issue at hand concerns the adult babies who have not been caught, or, 75 % of the population. Arriving at 75 % involves, more or less, coupling the psychosis tags with the neurosis tags, that is, deviance as necessity with deviance as luxury. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to credit the psychiatric field, the drug industry, and the insurance business with a great deal of deception. This deception involves pushing bias as if it were proven fact. We don’t have illnesses here. We have adults treated like children. Change the expectation, and you change everything. Were we to treat adults like adults again, I think you’d begin to see a big improvement.

Frank Blankenship: Personal Story

The MindFreedom Personal Story Project

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Frank T. Blankenship

“I’ve talked to a great many people devastated about friends and associates debilitated by schizophrenia. This always elicits a smile and amusement on my part. They don’t seem to realize that they are talking with someone who was once diagnosed ‘chronic schizophrenic’.”

Born: 07 December 1952

Contact Info: Gainesville, Florida, http://www.lunatickfringe.wordpress.com

Currently doing: Community organizing, specifically a Florida affiliate of MindFreedom International, blogging, writing, and when he can, traveling.

Mental health experience: Inpatient, Outpatient, Forced Treatment, Psychiatric Drugs, Commitment, Solitary Confinement, Torture

Psychiatric labels: Chronic Episodic Psychotic Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder,  Schizophrenic Paranoid Type, Schizophrenic Chronic Undifferentiated Type, Schizotypal Disorder With Major Depressive Features, Chronic Schizophrenia Possibly Paranoid with Sleep Deprivation

Psychiatric drugs taken in the past: Thorazine, Stelazine, Navane, Mellaril, Haldol, Moban, Olanzapine, Loxitane, Lithium, Propranolol, Cogentin, Artane, Tofranil

Off psychiatric drugs since: 1997

Recovery methods: Social Activism, Friends and Family, Maintaining a Distance From the Mental Health System, Philosophical Detachment

Greatest obstacle: Biological Medical Model Psychiatry

Brief history:

I wasn’t a good student in primary and secondary school. Homework was something I just didn’t do. My parents were desperate to see my grades improve. At one point they were so desperate that it was suggested I be psychiatrically evaluated. I was actually sent to some building, a very cold and clinical environment, where I was interviewed by all these psychiatrists. It was horrible. They were asking me all these very personal questions. I was their specimen. In tears I told my parents I wasn’t going back to that place, and I didn’t go back. Pulling out of that program is the reason I didn’t have a psychiatric label in grade school.

In college my lack of good study habits caught up with me. I finished high school without graduating, due to a lack of credits, but went on to take my GED (high school equivalency test) that summer. I was majoring in pre-teacher education because I didn’t have the credits to take liberal arts, talk about a lousy reason for becoming a teacher. Anyway, during my second year it became a problem. I was falling behind in class, that is one reason, bad study habits, but there was more to it than that, I was at a point in that transition from adolescence to adulthood when things should have been happening in my life and they just weren’t happening.

I stopped going to class. I kept up the pretense with people who knew me that I was still attending class. I broke  down before a professor and it was decided I should see a mental health professional. Over that weekend I discovered the secret of the universe. Apocalypse was coming with the mating of absolute good to absolute evil and this apocalypse would be followed by a second genesis. It all made sense at the time. An episode of marijuana smoking with friends probably didn’t help much. The next thing I know I’m being driven from Charlottesville where I resided over the mountain to DeJarnette Sanatorium, the private wing of Western State Hospital, in Staunton Virginia.

Admission to DeJarnette was like landing on another planet. First you’ve got the imposing Victorian look of a traditional asylum, and then you’ve got the actual crazy folk within it. I was disoriented and the experience was anything but grounding. The nursing staff at this time saw their job as mostly one of observation until the patient began to show some signs of improvement. This meant little interaction, with rational people anyway, except for that which was punitive, therefore, I spent a great deal of time in seclusion in the quiet room.

Pacing the halls at night in a thorazine daze I fantasized being rescued by extraterrestrials. There were these eerie lights to be seen through the window at the end of the hall, and a railroad track over which we heard the occasion train whistle on its way elsewhere. When eventually I was taken out for my first walk around the grounds, feeling I was a part of some strange kind of experiment, and that I was expected to escape, I took off running down the road. A car lit out after me, and I was returned to the hospital. I learned eventually to play the game, and to give the staff what it wanted, thereby, after a time, gaining my discharge.

After my first institutionalization I had a crummy job, custodial, with UVA hospital housekeeping. Six months of that while taking regular doses of thorazine and I said, “No more.” I felt pretty, well, I think depressed is the conventional way to describe my feelings at the time. I quit the job and threw out the thorazine. I vowed never to take neuroleptic drugs of my own volition again, and I have been generally true to that oath. I felt much better. I don’t know if quitting the menial labor had anything to do with it, but I have absolutely no regrets about not taking psychiatric drugs. I fancied myself something of a poet at the time, and the drugs affected my creativity, as users will tell you, in a very negative way. I feel that this vow has more or less prevented me from suffering the fate of so many of my contemporaries, some of whom are no longer with us.

This was only the beginning of my experiences in the mental health world. After inpatient treatment, there comes outpatient treatment. I  became something of a “revolving door patient”, that is, I was back in the hospital on an inpatient basis pretty regularly. Funny thing, most of the times when I was institutionalized there was nothing “mentally” wrong with me.

There was, when I first got discharged from the state hospital, what was then called the Day Hospital for outpatient treatment. It was kind of like what I would describe as nursery school for adults. I will never forgive myself for opening up to the director of this Day Hospital. He said he was good at listening, and he encouraged people to talk to him in his office. He also had a way of dismissing everything a person would say to him as symptomatic of underlying illness. I, on the other hand, liked to think my thoughts, hopes, visions, feelings, wishes, plans, ontological being, etc. were not reducible to the outward manifestation of a pathological condition. He eventually learned about Fountain House in New York, and soon after the Day Hospital was converted into a clubhouse. He had a sailboat, and he would take sailing vacations to, what most clubhouse members could only dream about, the Bahamas. Eventually he got a job in south Florida doing what he had in Virginia, and then, much to the good fortune of his clientele, fired for who knows what.

I had moved to California at one point. I had this idea that either I was going to fashion myself into a success, with a super model clone clinging to an arm, or I was going to commit suicide. Well, as things were going rather slowly at the time I began making plans for my exit from the world. I hitchhiked north, ended up in an institution in Oregon, got out, made my way to Takoma in Washington state, turned around, and came back to the town in California where I was staying. Suicide, as it turned out, wasn’t such a simple undertaking. I thought about doing it, and eventually I took a swipe at it, or something approaching that. I had, as you might imagine, mixed feelings about ending it all. Ultimately I turned the matter into something of a public spectacle. I didn’t want to just make a silent exit, and then offer proof that nobody gave a shit, as they wouldn’t care anyway. I awkwardly cut my arms with a razor blade thinking about working my way up to the wrists. I then walked bleeding out and down main street where was I was shortly picked up by the police. This little episode, which lead to stitches, of course, made me revise my ideas about suicide. I decided I really didn’t want to off myself, and maybe life wasn’t so insufferable as it might have seemed after all.

My last hospitalization was one of the worst experiences in the psychiatric system I had ever had. I had at that time been out of the institution for ten years straight. A police detective came to my door and told me that if I didn’t volunteer myself into the hospital criminal charges would be lodged against me. I went to the emergency room. Big mistake on my part. Any lawyer will tell you that the police, in order to get what they want, will lie. A campus police officer in the ER had had some kind of encounter with me, and so I was put under a temporary detention order, a 72 hour hold. I was beside myself. I knew where this process was headed, and that is exactly where it went, to a civil commitment hearing. I spent nearly a month on the university hospital psych unit, until the insurance ran out, and then it was over the mountain to Western  State Hospital.

Western State at this time had fewer patients than on any of my previous visits due to deinstitutionalization. It was also more restrictive. In the university hospital I’d been spitting out pills in the toilet. This was no longer possible at Western as they checked to make sure nobody was cheeking his or her pills. The patients were seldom released from the closed wards to walk the grounds and visit the main recreational building. Eventually I became one of the few allowed out accompanied by staff. The weekends were murder, murder by boredom that is. This was due to the reduced staff. I considered myself lucky to have had a mother who would visit me almost every weekend.  I was in the hospital longer than any time previously, too. Soon after I left the department of justice was called in to investigate conditions at the hospital. I think this was due to some patients deaths there. Given budget cuts, last I heard, the hospital is in danger of reverting back to the way it was when I was a patient.

Social Security sent me a letter stating that I would need to be in treatment if I were to continue to receive benefits. This sent me back to the clubhouse. I agreed to a treatment plan that involved going about a half a day twice a week. Anything more was just too depressive. This meant orientation as a new member, and then service in the cafe unit. They had these work units, you see, in which people pretended to work and they called this pretense rehabilitation. Although not up to the standards of a regular Fountain House model clubhouse, I guess you could say it was their way of trying.

Eventually I wound up in the clerical unit. This meant that I was the person who entered the names of the people in attendance from a sign-in sheet to a computer record. The average daily attendance was somewhere between seventy to eighty members while on a good day ninety something people might show up. I made note one year that we had ten members die. I felt these deaths were due to the prescription drugs the members were ingesting. Witness that the death rate that year was better than 10 % of the attendance on a good day. Obviously the mortality rates of people who went to this clubhouse were way too high. At one point during the year in question, when three members died in succession over a couple of months, hospice was called in to help members deal with their grief. When I left the clubhouse, I who never wanted to go there in the first place, there were staff members trying to dissuade me from leaving. Thankfully, they had no further hold over me.

Since then I’ve moved to another state, but I continue to receive the clubhouse newsletter. A recent edition reported that the clubhouse had had a memorial service for three members who had died within a short space of time. Hospice counselors were there to help members deal with their grief.I guess this means that, following my departure, things haven’t changed all that much.

Year told:

2013