Advocating For Human Rights and Against Mistreatment

I am not a mental health advocate. I have absolutely no interest in contributing to the current treatment crisis we’ve got going in this country. First, you’ve got the people doing the treatment. They call themselves mental health advocates. Then you’ve got the people they treat. Some of them call themselves mental health advocates, too. This breaks down into two groups of people, professionals or providers and patients or consumers. The providers are the people selling the treatment, and the consumers are the people buying the treatment.

You can’t sell the treatment without someone to sell the treatment to, and so, therefore, the providers must become sellers of the idea of consumption, or need. The mental health provider in essence is a seller of “mental illness”. Thus, if we read mental health advocacy as the advocating of mental health treatment, there is an unstated conflict of interest involved here. Your advocates must also be advocates of “mental illness” in order to have a large stock of people to treat.

If 1 in 5 people in the USA are consumers buying mental health treatment, people described as “mentally ill”, 4 in 5 people in the USA are not consuming mental health treatment. Problem. 1 in 5 is in danger of becoming 2 in 5 which could then become 3 in 5, etc. Then there’s the matter of how much of the population, given this increase, would need to be mental health workers, that is, providers. In that eventuality, given a nation in which the majority of the people within that nation are mental health consumers, perhaps we should add to an M to USA. This would make us the United Medical States of America.

Back to the statistic that presently applies. 4 in 5 people in the nation are not consuming mental health at this time. If we take mental health to mean mental health treatment,  4 in 5 people in this country have no need for mental health. Nobody has turned this statistic around to ask, well, how many people in the 20 % that we’re saying consume mental health treatment don’t really need to consume mental health treatment. This isn’t the kind of question people who advocate for mental health treatment ask. They don’t want fewer people in treatment, they want more. There is only one direction to go in for them, and that direction is upward in so far as numbers are concerned.

Should anyone have any hesitations about seeking treatment, these mental health advocates have this word “stigma” that they throw out with such abandon. Funny thing about “stigma”, the people selling this idea of “stigma” aren’t talking about how much of the treatment they are referring is unwanted treatment. There was a time, not that long ago, when the only mental health treatment people received was forced mental health treatment. So long as there are people being treated against their will and wishes, this lie about “stigma” is only a ruse. People aren’t reluctant to go into treatment because of any “stigma”, people are reluctant go into treatment because treatment always results in prejudice and discrimination.

As I stated, I am not a mental health advocate. I am not a mental health advocate because I am a human rights advocate. I am opposed to forced mental health treatment on principle. Forced mental health treatment doesn’t take place without violating a person’s rights as a citizen and a human being. You can’t force treatment on a person without taking away that person’s liberty. I have nothing against treating people who want to be treated. I simply think all mental health treatment should be voluntary treatment.

This opposition to force means that I believe people should not be imprisoned, tortured, and poisoned in prisons called hospitals in the name of mental health. Doing so doesn’t result in good outcomes as a rule. Not only are the results poor, but you can only do so by violating the basic rights of the individuals being so mistreated. There are other ways of treating human beings. I advocate using some of those other ways.

An Enabling Debility

I was watching mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. on You Tube the other day, and he made a point that I don’t think a lot of people are catching. The mental health consumer represents a failure on the part of psychiatry to restore mental patients to health. Where we used to have a mental health movement, now we have what has been referred to as a mental health consumer movement.

Nash also noted that the basic difference between a person said to be mentally ill and a person said to be mentally well was that the latter earned a living and the former didn’t earn a living. This is what the whole idea of functionality is all about, the ability to make a good wage slave on the jobs market.

Of course, now we’ve got this idea of “high functioning mental illness” where the old rules don’t apply. Seeing that “high functioning” coupled with “mental illness” is basically a contradiction in terms, how do we explain this phenomenon? A few mental patients, aka mental health consumers, have managed through “compliance” to advance in professional, often academic, careers.

I would say you have about three things going on here at once. A bright and resourceful individual. A person who has a great deal of support–legal, emotional, and social–perhaps more than people who are not so “handicapped” by impugned disease. On top of which you also have someone who would tend to be less heavily drug dose disabled than many people in treatment due to the achievement (as opposed to troubling behavior) that the person had displayed.

It must be remembered here that the idea is not to produce a better quality consumer, the idea is produce a healthy individual, a non-patient. The “high functioning mentally ill” person also suggests a failure of the system to restore that person in particular to his or her right mind. One is also left with the question, are we making “illness” in cases like these a form of “success”?

There are other people who have been fully restored to “sanity”, but there is little glory in recovering one’s mental health as long “notoriety” comes of not recovering. Anonymity may be noble, but it doesn’t pay the bills. Acclaim, in one instance, must prove as much of a disincentive to recovery as federal benefits prove in another. How much of this is a matter of our cracked actor or actress making the most of his or her crack?

Acclaim seldom comes of recovery. More often than not what you have is a mental health worker who was a former patient, and as such represents the worst of two worlds. Your prisoner has become a warder, and your penitentiary system has grown exponentially. I suppose it represents job security on his or her part, but still this means the streets have gotten a little bit meaner, and the neighborhoods have gotten a little less secure.