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Mental health law should be repealed.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.

Ex-marine Locked Up Over Facebook Posts Freed

Ex-marine Brandon Raub of Chesterfield Virginia was detained in a psychiatric hospital for evaluation for, of all things, his Facebook posts. The case, handled by lawyers from the Rutherford Institute as it was felt that his free speech rights were being violated, was later dismissed.

Business Insider recently published an UPDATE: Judge Orders Release Of Detained Marine From Psychiatric Hospital

A circuit court judge has dismissed the government’s case against Brandon Raub and ordered that the Marine veteran, detained over anti-government Facebook posts, be released from a state psychiatric hospital because authorities had no grounds to detain him, Catie Beck of CBS 6 News reports.

Raub’s lawyer, John Whitehead, issued a stern warning on the state of affairs with Virginia mental health law.

Whitehead said that every year in Virginia more than 20,000 people are committed under similar circumstances and “that means
a lot of people are disappearing” under the pretext of mental illness.

Following the Virginia Tech shootings a few years ago, Virginia lowered its standard for forced treatment. This situation makes it way too easy for people to get committed to psychiatric institutions in the state of Virginia, sometimes for the most frivolous of reasons.

“I’m friends with the local police; I could call them right now and probably get you committed if you were in Virginia,” Whitehead said. “They can arrive at your door based on somebody’s testimony or your Facebook page and take you away to a mental hospital… There’s a system here that is corrupt. And this guy is caught in it.”

Brandon Raub has been released from that system. Many more people are hopelessly caught in it now. I would suspect that Brandon Raub is not the only person so confined in an effort to suppress freedom of speech.