Category Archives: Abuse

You Can’t Really Change Your LIfe, After All, Can You?

You Spew Poison into the World
You Spew Poison into the World

 

Of course you can’t change your life. Your “giants go with you wherever you go,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote many many years ago, and it is still sadly true.

 

I left Connecticut, thinking I could escape, at least the hospital torture, but I cannot escape the voices that hate me and the demons that I carry with me, the fact that I burden the world, poison it when I exist in it, and that wherever I go I leave a slime of pollution and hatred..I cannot help that. It is a genetic flaw, no matter what good I try to do, the generosity I practice, the kindnesses I have done and preached, it all goes for naught in the end, when the poison leaches from my marrow and through my skin and permeates the world. People feel it then and run away, screaming…

 

I know this and feel it. and I cannot take it any longer. I have had it. Lord knows I have tried and tried to obviate it, to deny it, to remove the stain or fix it, but it has never worked. I am done. I can’t do it any more. It is over. I cannot deal with the voices and the evil that I am and cause any longer. It is so clear to me that others want this end from me too, because although they talk a good game about help and programs to assist me, they actually refuse to make them available to me, and deliberately– DELIBERATELY —  turn a deaf ear when I overtly say, I NEED HELP NOW…How much more obvious and clear spoken can I be?

I will NOT beg for my life or my skin. No. I do not deserve that. And if not one wants me alive or intact, then there is a reason for it…and I know what it is, as I have stated. So if I get the message that “this is it” today, at my appointment again, that We HAVE NOTHING FOR YOU, that YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN, that “we do not really care what happens”. then it is OVER…I cannot care for myself, the devil, and I know what must be done…

I have done all I can, I really have. Do not try to tell me I haven’t tried for 62 years as bravely and carried on ALONE as I could possibly do it and be. But I cannot do it any longer, I am sorry, But this is it. Either PROVE to me that YOU CARE THAT I EXIST AND DO NOT WANT ME TO DO…whatever.

 

No , in fact YOU cannot do anything, any of you out there. Frankly. This is strictly between me and the folks here tasked with making sure I am safe and it is clear that I have poisoned all of them already, I have used up my quota of caring and assistance and that is that. It’s gone. It’s over. I’m gone. GET LOST. YOU BAD RUBBISH. We have had it with you. You are worthless shit.

 

Goodbye.  I don’t know what will happen to me. But I can’t do this any longer.

PRESIDENT OBAMA LECTURES DR MICHAEL E. BALKUNAS ON THE MISTREATMENT OF PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS

angry obama

I think everyone who can play this file will find it both instructive and illuminating and actually very very …”interesting”…So go ahead, Mikey. LlSTEN TO YOUR PRESIDENT!!!!! Tee hee.

MICHAEL E. BALKUNAS, MD: LISTEN TO THIS RAP – YOU MUTHA FUCKA!

Okay so here is another rap lyric. I suggest that you try to play it on an apple or iphone/ipad device as people have said that these won’t play with Internet Explorer. Perhaps because they are created through Garage Band and with ITunes? Anyhow good luck! (This is a TRUE STORY about what happened in the New Britain General Hospital in May 2014, Hospital of Central Connecticut…NOTHING IS IMAGINED OR MADE UP IN fact things were much worse even than this song describes….) If these end up being popular enough, I will redo them with a good microphone and perhaps a video…

DR. MICHAEL E. BALKUNAS, SHRUNKEN-HEAD MUTHAFUCKA RAP

Doctor Balkunas, you think you can fuck with me?

Doctor Balkunas, you think you can punish me?

Doctor Balkunas you head shrunken mofucker

G’wan, have another headfucking think on it, mofo…
They brought me by ambulance, silent and broken

Terrified, mute, and on an “involuntary”

Not even speaking and mentally ill

I could make no choices, every word unspoken.

Do you know what it means when I say I was mute,

when I could not speak and words did not work

and the world was too loud and my head was too full

and there was no bridge and no hand to pull

me out from that in-between. Even security

wasn’t there to protect me, only nurses and from me

and even the first nurse who coldly appraised me

grabbed my one book and then took my phone and fled

as if she were plotting to fuck with my head

because she had only to ask me and take it politely,

and promise to take care of things, and do it nicely.

Such fierce flames of outrage surged in me, and anger!

So not even thinking, I went running after her

wanting just to reach her and grab my book back from her

Little did I know the reaction if I touched her.

Mike Balkunas, you thought you could fuck with me?

Mike Balkunas, you thought you could punish me?

Mike Balkunas, you thought you could shit on me?

Mikey, you mofo, have a new headshrinking think on it.

Quicker than quicker everyone was sicked on me,

from the aides to the orderlies, even the nurses.

Burly armed guards went piling up hard on me,

and the worst of the worst was patients made versus me

a 100-pound 60-year old lady of five foot three

upset that my two last possessions were snatched from me

without any reason or rhyme in the world really

by the usual criminal in the ER, the head RN

who knew I was powerless alone in that warren

of ER rooms, so she had me dragged me to seclusion.

where I had to bare-knuckle the dark in confusion

battling anguish and fear, with the voices’ profusion.

So to get someone to come in and hear my screaming

I pulled all my clothing off, for clothes had no meaning.

Mike Balkunas, you think you can fuck with me?

Mike Balkunas, you think you punish with impunity?

Mike Balkunas, you really think you can shit on me?

G’wan, Mofo, Have another headshrinking think, now, Mikey…

I screamed from the base of my lungs for an hour

but was utterly ignored by all who had power

to relent or release me. I hadn’t a notion

of what else to do, to get help or attention

or have them return to the room, but to start

hitting my head and even tearing apart

things I could throw, chair, clothes and chart.

Then came the goon squad of six beefy men

who easily brought me facedown on the floor again

I screamed and I struggled but it did me no good,

if you fight them they justify all that they would.

Much better to lie still and let them abuse you

and get discharged and hope against hope you can sue.

The ER in peril from the dangers I posed

such a monster as me, poorly muscled, unclothed,

they wanted me, mute, completely shut up.

so they rammed three injectables into my butt.

Mike Balkunas, honey, you thought you could fuck with me?

Mike Balkunas, sweetie, you believed you could punish me?

Mike Balkunas, sweetheart, you thought you could shit on me?

Aw, little boy, Balkie, do your headshrinking mofo thing with it…

Mikey? Mikey? Mofo…I’ll bet you won’t forget me for a lo-o-o-ooong time, will you?

Ha ha ha!

I wish to god I could forget you. You mofo. You mother fucker. Let this rap song be a lesson to you, not to fuck with poets and writers or you’ll get written into a history you might rather be forgotten.

Doctor Michael Balkunas, dare you fuck with me now?

Doctor Michael Balkunas, dare you punish me now?

Doctor Michael Balkunas, you head shrunken muthafucka

Mofo, Mikey go fuck another headshrinker and think on it.

TO MY “PROTECTOR” AT THE MENTAL HOSPITAL: NO THANKS!

 Mushroom-Head in Four-point Restraints: Cannibalism as RAPE by Michael Edward Balkunas, MD, the instigator…

Raped at New Britain General Hospital thanks to  Michael Balkunas MD's orders...
Raped at New Britain General Hospital thanks to Michael Balkunas MD’s orders…

TO MY “PROTECTORS” AT THE MENTAL HOSPITAL

You nurses who, wanting a quiet shift, shackled me into four-point restraints: you ought to have known better: violence only begets more violence…

I came to you, broken —

speaking only splinters of syllables –

“ma-ta-o-tam, ma-ta-o-tam..”

on fire to burn down

the house of my body,

for the meaning of my life

but I was not nice,

not nice, not nice, no,

I was not nice and quiet enough

for the balm of art supplies and human kindness.

Your uniforms ex-cruciated me, tying me

me naked to the four corners of a bed

so your eyes could flay me, the silent shame

gouging my brain to a darkness

years later still vacuumed blank.

Nurses, healers, thieves,

racked there, I lay helpless before you,

even as you raped what was left

of my human dignity.

So intent on getting satisfaction,

you violated my soul

with your smirks

and conspiratorial smiles.

READ THIS, Michael Edward Balkunas, MD of Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, CT, Before You Throw Another Psychiatric Patient Into Your Supermax Seclusion Cells!

Hospital Seclusion Room
Hospital Seclusion Room (Supermax Cell at New Britain General Hospital)

This is from the Special Rapporteur to the UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON TORTURE 2013:

As the previous Special Rapporteur stated: “Torture, as the most serious violation of the human right to personal integrity and dignity, presupposes a situation of powerlessness, whereby the victim is under the total control of another person.”14 Deprivation of legal capacity, when a person’s exercise of decision-making is taken away and given to others, is one such circumstance, along with deprivation of liberty in prisons or other places (A/63/175, para. 50).

32. The mandate has recognized that medical treatments of an intrusive and irreversible nature, when lacking a therapeutic purpose, may constitute torture or ill-treatment when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned (ibid., paras. 40, 47). This is particularly the case when intrusive and irreversible, non- consensual treatments are performed on patients from marginalized groups, such as persons with disabilities, notwithstanding claims of good intentions or medical necessity. For example, the mandate has held that the discriminatory character of forced psychiatric interventions, when committed against persons with psychosocial disabilities, satisfies both intent and purpose required under the article 1 of the Convention against Torture, notwithstanding claims of “good intentions” by medical professionals .

Medical care that causes severe suffering for no justifiable reason can be considered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and if there is State involvement and specific intent, it is torture.

63. The mandate has previously declared that there can be no therapeutic justification for the use of solitary confinement and prolonged restraint of persons with disabilities in psychiatric institutions; both prolonged seclusion and restraint may constitute torture and ill-treatment (A/63/175, paras. 55-56). The Special Rapporteur has addressed the issue of solitary confinement and stated that its imposition, of any duration, on persons with mental disabilities is cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (A/66/268, paras. 67-68, 78). Moreover, any restraint on people with mental disabilities for even a short period of time may constitute torture and ill-treatment.78 It is essential that an absolute ban on all coercive and non-consensual measures, including restraint and solitary confinement of people with psychological or intellectual disabilities, should apply in all places of deprivation of liberty, including in psychiatric and social care institutions. The environment of patient powerlessness and abusive treatment of persons with disabilities in which restraint and seclusion is used can lead to other non-consensual

Domestic legislation allowing forced interventions

64. The mandate continues to receive reports of the systematic use of forced interventions worldwide. Both this mandate and United Nations treaty bodies have established that involuntary treatment and other psychiatric interventions in health-care facilities are forms of torture and ill-treatment.79 Forced interventions, often wrongfully justified by theories of incapacity and therapeutic necessity inconsistent with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, are legitimized under national laws, and may enjoy wide public support as being in the alleged “best interest” of the person concerned. Nevertheless, to the extent that they inflict severe pain and suffering, they violate the absolute prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (A/63/175, paras. 38, 40, 41). Concern for the autonomy and dignity of persons with disabilities leads the Special Rapporteur to urge revision of domestic legislation allowing for forced interventions.treatment, such as forced medication and electroshock procedures.

JUST THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW,  MICHAEL EDWARD BALKUNAS, MD, YOU MOTHERFUCKER…BUT THEN YOU ALREADY KNOW THIS, BECAUSE YOU DO WHAT YOU DO TO PATIENTS DELIBERATELY AND WITH PURPOSE!

Mental Patient Anti-Psychiatry Rap

AAC FILE (MIGHT PLAY WITH INTERNET EXPLORER

TRY ON IPHONE OR IPAD OR APPLE …DOES NOT WORK ON INTERNET EXPLORER…Okay, this may not please everyone and it isn’t exactly ready for Primetime, but if you can’t hear the lyrics (and in any rap song it is difficult to catch all of them the first time, you can read them along below…Enjoy?? Or at least you  will understand, if you are familiar with Wagblog, where I am coming from. Please let me know if this file does NOT play for any reason.

Mental Patient Rap

by P.Wagg

CHORUS:

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab.

They say fake it till you make it, so I take it, take it, take it,

Careening through a maze of rules that make me wanna break shit.

Sanity won’t save me, nor all the pills they gave me.

Their remedy’s my enemy, so we mad go fucking crazy.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

VERSE 1:

I remember being locked in, tied down, drugged up,

nurses in control of me, rushing me, coercing me.

Worse than their forcing me was all the pills they pushed on me

then Thorazine or Stelazine jammed into my ass cheeks.

Abuse was inexcusable. Psychiatric orderlies

cuffed my wrists and ankles to a bed when I refused them.

Bruising me, mis-using me — and black and blues-ing me,

A/C cold as ice; retaliation taken twice.

Tied down, naked, there, I shit myself but who cared?

Just another everyday mental patient nightmare.

CHORUS:

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

They say fake it till you make it, so I take it, take it, take it,

Careening through a maze of rules that make me wanna break shit.

Sanity won’t save me, nor all the pills they gave me.

Their remedy’s my enemy, we mad go fucking crazy.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

VERSE 2:

As bad as leather cuff restraints their isolation cell was hell.

so supermax it made me faint, don’t tell me they meant it well.

No one should have dumped me there, hearing voices, terrified

they stripped my clothing off then left me locked alone inside.

and told me that they had the right to keep me there both day and night

or as long as it would take, for me to learn from their mistakes

I might never get out, never get out, never get out, never get out–

but I started freaking out. I shouted, “I will not bow down

to those with nothing more to do than cause me pain, you cowards, you

you have no heart, you’re inhumane. You torture me to entertain.

CHORUS:

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab.

They say fake it till you make it, so I take it, take it, take it,

Careening through a maze of rules that make me wanna break shit.

Sanity won’t save me, nor all the pills they gave me.

Their remedy’s my enemy, so we mad go fucking crazy.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

Verse 3:

Let’s sing ring around the posey-o: “Hospital Guantanamo!”

Isolation, prison SHU, and mental patients just like me who

traumatized and tortured just go c-c-c-crazy, too.

Abuse is S.O.P. from doctors of psychiatry,

Pusher docs who love to dish out electro-shock therapy

and chemical lobotomies, but it’s all about their money.

Crocks of shit! You’re so wack. You psycho-quacks, you pricks

sized us up and tricked us. But didn’t we wise up quick?

We won’t take no more horseshit, we won’t take no more crap

Take your fucking psycho-meds and ram them up your —-!

CHORUS:

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

They say fake it till you make it, so I take it, take it, take it,

Careening through a maze of rules that make me wanna break shit.

Sanity won’t save me, nor all the pills they gave me.

Their remedy’s my enemy, so we mad go fucking crazy

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, c-c-c-crazy, mad and bad.

C-c-c-crazy, l-l-l-lazy, I ain’t nothing but a nomad

in the white-coats’ lab

Oh, you know, you know, yes I know you know,

that I ain’t nothing, never been nothing, never been nothing…

I’ve never been nothing, except a lonely nomad

in the white-coated doctors of psychiatry lab

Spoken CODA:

PT:“I want outta here.”

RN: “Uh uh, not so fast. We’ve got your ass for fifteen days.”

PT: “Fifteen days?! No way, José. You can’t keep me here. I want a lawyer!”

RN: “Doctor, we need to calm her pronto. She’s disturbing the whole unit.”

MD: “I agree. Give her 20mg, IM Haldol, stat.”

PT: “What do you want? What’s going on?! No no! Don’t touch me…Wait!

He-e-e-elp! Help me! Please somebody! Help! Help me…!”

“Punishment is Just Abuse with An Excuse”

THis is how abused children become abusers, or how spanking gets engrained in culture as appropriate to do to "things" smaller than ourselves...
THis is how abused children become abusers, or how spanking gets engrained in culture as appropriate to do to “things” smaller than ourselves…

 

We think this TIME OUT punishment is better for children, less violent, but behind it is the THREAT of corporal punishment, ALWAYS...
We think this TIME OUT punishment is better for children, less violent, but behind it is the THREAT of corporal punishment, ALWAYS…

spanking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the website Punishment Hurts Everyone, at http://abusewithanexcuse.com. This is an amazingly brave site with writing and thoughtful insights that might upset those who think that spanking kids is good for them, but for most of us, who know it only traumatizes and harms them, it will be an illuminating page indeed. Check it out! Great stuff here from a man who has put his ideas into practice and never once punished his own children, teens now and well-adjusted and happy to boot. Who’da thunk it could be done? (Well I did, for one, and maybe you too!)

“Protection and Advocacy” Agency in Connecticut is a Crock of Shit…

CT PAIMI What a Crock of Shit
CT PAIMI What a Crock of Shit

 

Dear Attorney General George Jepson and DMHAS Commissioner Patricia Rehmer,

I was a client of Mr Wiley Rutledge at the Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy, PAIMI, (Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness) for several years, ever since I was held in seclusion and put into four-point restraints as disciplinary measures at the Behavioral Health Unit at Middlesex Hospital in 2010. In July 2014, while he was attempting to get my complete medical records, unsuccessfully despite many attempts, from the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital for my January-February 2013 stay, as well as records from my Yale New Haven Hospital 1971 stay, which he claimed to have obtained, he dropped out of the picture altogether. I emailed him and called but got no response. Finally I called the P&A office and was told he was “on leave.”
 I was given no explanation, told nothing. Instead, Mr Bruce Garrison, his supervisor, simply sent me all the files that he found in Mr Rutledge’s office, then he summarily dumped me. He has offered no substitute or anyone else to take up my case at CT PAIMI despite all these unresolved issues that are still pending. I wrote him that Mr Rutledge and I had been filing a case in Superior Court against Hospital of Central Connecticut  in New Britain for dragging me into a horrific seclusion cell numerous times when I was never violent or dangerous to self or others, in other words, as retribution and punishment. Also, the male guards forcibly stripped me naked while putting me in seclusion then placed me naked in four-point restraints.
All that said, Mr Garrison, had no response but to drop me from the caseload. Then in addition to the scant files that he sent, without the information from either Yale or the IOL that he promised, he sent me the case files of someone else. I now have the most private information on a certain A— H—- who was psychiatrically evaluated by Centegra on 12/17/02. How this could have happened I do not know but it should not have and I believe that action needs to be taken to see that it never happens again.
I want to know who will be working with me from now on at PAIMI because I cannot afford a lawyer (never did have any legal representation even from CT PAIMI) and why I have been summarily dropped from PAIMI case loads, after working with them so patiently for so many years.
Thank you for your urgent assistance in this matter.
Pamela Spiro Wagner

Does “January” Have Schizophrenia or Is it Her Family That is Disturbed?

I first saw videos of January on Youtube years ago, and I was appalled by the inappropriate nature of taping your supposedly disturbed child. I was also skeptical. I felt deeply that the parents had decided to label and encourage Jani to behave/answer questions in “schizophrenic” ways in order to garner publicity. Sorry, but those were my feelings at the time and they are still my feelings though I have not been able to stomach “keeping up with the story” over the years. Frankly, I would not be surprised if this case did not rise to a matter of Munchausen’s by Proxy, though no one is saying any such thing (of course not!)…

 

This article is an important OPEN LETTER  that I just found at BEYOND MEDS:

https://beyondmeds.com/2009/10/18/an-open-letter-to-oprah-regarding-jani-the-seven-yr-old-schizophrenic/

FROM MAD IN AMERICA dot com – January 21,  2013 (I couldn’t find any sharing buttons that would allow me to reblog this but the direct link can be found below)

The Hearing Voices Movement: In Response to a Father – ‘My Daughter, the Schizophrenic’

Jacqui Dillon

January 21, 2013

There was a heart-breaking and disturbing story in this weekend’s Guardian newspaper entitled ‘My Daughter, the Schizophrenic’, (1) which featured edited extracts from a book written by the father of a child called Jani. He describes how Jani is admitted into a psychiatric hospital when she is 5, diagnosed with schizophrenia when she is 6 and by the time she is 7, she has been put on a potent cocktail of psychotropic medications:

”Jani is on three medications: Clozapine, lithium and Thorazine (known in the UK as Largactil). This combination has been the most successful. Are her hallucinations completely gone? No, but as she will tell us, they are not bothering her. It’s like having the TV on in the background, volume turned down, while you’re doing something, and every so often you look up at the screen to see what 400 the cat and other hallucinations are doing. They remain on Jani’s periphery, but she can still function in our common reality.”(2)

This harrowing description exemplifies the worst excesses of responding to a deeply troubled child’s distress as if it were a pathological illness, with the full psychiatric arsenal. What ensues can only be described as an account of psychiatric, human rights abuse.

If only Jani and her family were offered alternative kinds of help such as that developed by Voice Collective, (3) a London-wide project set up to support children and young people who hear, see and sense things others don’t. Voice Collective works with children, young people & families, and with professionals and organisations offering a whole range of services including peer support groups, so young people can meet with other young people with similar experiences, creative workshops, 1-2-1 support around making sense of voices and finding coping strategies, an online support forum. Voice Collective also offers a range of support services to families as well as supporting schools, social services, child and adolescent mental health services and other youth agencies to work with children & young people who have these experiences.

As one parent who has been supported by Voice Collective said:

‘You have brought us ‘normality’ within these experiences. You have taught us that with the appropriate support young people can lead happy and successful lives. You recognise the love we have for our children and have taught us how to support them”. – (Mother of a 12 year old)

How different things could be for Jani, her family and countless other children and families around the world if there were greater awareness that such humane and healing alternatives exist; approaches which help without doing more harm. (continued below the break)

——————————

(Questions, comments and/or reflections are welcome on this website or via Twitter @JacquiDillon
Jacqui Dillon’s website: http://www.jacquidillon.org
  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/19/my-daughter-the-schizophrenic
  2. January First: A Child’s Descent Into Madness And Her Father’s Struggle To Save Her, by Michael Schofield, published on 1 February by Hardie Grant Books.
  3. http://www.voicecollective.co.uk/)
 ———————————

Jani and her family originally appeared on the Oprah show in 2009. Many of us within the Hearing Voices Movement were so saddened and disturbed by Jani’s treatment that we wrote an open letter to Oprah Winfrey. Here is the open letter from INTERVOICE – the International Network for Training, Education and Research into Hearing Voices – an international organisation dedicated to spreading positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices across the world, reprinted again.

Dear Oprah,

We are writing in response to your programme about “The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic”, which concerned Jani, a child who hears voices, which was broadcast on the 6th October 2009. We hope to correct the pessimistic picture offered by the mental health professionals featured in your programme, and in the accompanying article on your website. What upset us most and moved us to write to you, is that parents will have been left with the impression that they are powerless to help their children if they hear voices. We are also concerned that the programme gave the impression that children with voices must be treated with medication. We note that the medications mentioned in your programme all have very serious side effects. (For example, antipsychotics such as Haldol cause neuronal loss, block the dopamine pathways in the brain required to processes rewarding stimuli, and carry a high risk of neurological and metabolic side effects such as Parkinsonianism and diabetes. Their effects on the developing brain are largely unknown and, in our view, they should only be given to children as a treatment as absolutely last resort.)

We have been researching and working with adults and children like Jani for the last twenty years, and our work has led us to very different conclusions from those reached by the mental health professionals on your programme. One of our founding members, Dr. Sandra Escher from the Netherlands, has spent the last fifteen years talking to children who hear voices, and to their parents and carers. This work is the most detailed and thorough investigation of children who hear voices carried out to date [1, 2]. The most important findings from recent research on hearing voices are as follows:

Prevalence of Voice Hearing in Adults and Children

Recent large-scale population (epidemiological) studies have shown that about 4-10 % of the adult population hear voices at some time in their lives [3-5]. Only about a third seek assistance from mental health services. Amongst children, the proportion hearing voices may be even higher [6] and, again, only a minority are referred for treatment. Hence, it is wrong to assume that voice hearing is always a pathological condition requiring treatment.

Psychological Mechanisms

Everyone has an inner voice. Psychologists call this phenomenon ‘inner speech’ and it is an important mechanism that we use to regulate our own behaviour (plan what we want to do, direct our own actions). Child psychologists have long understood that this ability begins to develop at about 2-years of age [7, 8]. Hearing voices seems to reflect some kind of differentiation in the mind’s ability to tell the difference between inner speech and the heard speech of other people [9, 10].

Link to Trauma

A common theme in research with both adults and children is the relationship between hearing voices and traumatic experiences. In adults, around 75% begin to hear voices in relationship to a trauma or situations that make them feel powerless [11-13], for example the death of a loved one, divorce, losing a job, failing an exam, or longer lasting traumas such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The role of trauma was identified in 85% of the children we have studied, for example being bullied by peers or teachers, or being unable to perform to the required level at school, or being admitted to a hospital because of a physical illness. In short, our research has shown that hearing voices is usually a reaction to a situation or a problem that the child is struggling to cope with.

Voices have a meaning. A related and equally striking finding is that the voices often refer to the problem that troubles the child, but in an elliptical manner. To take just one example from the children studied by Sandra Escher:

The voices told an 8-year-old boy to blind himself. This frightened his mother. But when we discussed whether there was something in the life of the boy he could not face, she understood the voices’ message. The boy could not cope with his parents’ problematic marriage. He did not want to see it.

We wonder whether anyone has attempted to establish why, in Jani’s case, the rat is called “Wednesday”, why the girl is called “24 Hours”, and why is the cat called “400″? What do these mean for her? Why does Jani want people to call her “Blue-Eyed Tree Frog” and “Jani Firefly”?

Good Outcomes Without Treatment

Recently, Sandra Escher conducted a three-year follow up study of eighty children who heard voices, aged between 8 and 19 [1]. Half received mental health care but the other half were not given any specialist care at all. The children were interviewed four times, at yearly intervals. By the end of the research period 60% of the children reported that their voices had disappeared. Very often, this was because the triggering problems were dealt with or because the child’s situation changed – for example, following a change of schools.

Helping Children Who Hear Voices: Advice to Parents

It is important to appreciate that the desire to make voices disappear, although usually the goal of the mental health care services, is not necessarily in the best interests of children. Some children do not want to lose their voices. If children can find within themselves the resources to cope with their voices, they can begin to lead happier and more balanced lives.

The most important element in this process is support from the family. Unfortunately, we have found that mental health services often fail to have a positive effect on children’s voices, because they foster fear rather than coping. However, we have found that referral to a psychotherapist who is prepared to discuss the meaning of voices is often helpful.

It is important that parents do not assume that hearing voices is a terrible disaster but instead regard it as a signal that something is troubling their child. If parents assume that voices are a symptom of an illness, and are afraid of them, the child will naturally pick up on this feeling. This can lead to a self-defeating cycle in which the child becomes fearful and obsessed by the voices.

We would like to offer this 10-point guide for parents, indicating what they can do if a child tells them that he or she hears voices:

1. Try not to over react. Although it is understandable that you will be worried, work hard not to communicate your anxiety to your child.

2. Accept the reality of the voice experience for your child; ask about the voices, how long the child has been hearing them, who or what they are, whether they have names, what they say, etc.

3. Let your child know that many other children hear voices and that usually they go away after a while.

4. Even if the voices do not disappear your child may learn to live in harmony with them.

5. It is important to break down your child’s sense of isolation and difference from other children. Your child is special – unusual perhaps, but really not abnormal.

6. Find out if your child has any difficulties or problems that he or she finds very hard to cope with, and work on fixing those problems. Think back to when the voices first started. What was happening to your child at the time? Was there anything unusual or stressful occurring?

7. If you think you need outside help, find a therapist who is prepared to accept your child’s experiences and work systematically with him or her to understand and cope better with the voices.

8. Be ready to listen to your child if he or she wants to talk about the voices. Use drawing, painting, acting and other creative ways to help the child to describe what is happening in his or her life.

9. Get on with your lives and try not to let the experience of hearing voices become the centre of your child’s life or your own.

10. Most children who live well with their voices have supportive families who accept the experience as part of who their child is. You can do this too!

Conclusion

In conclusion we would like to stress that, in our view, labelling a seven-year-old child as schizophrenic and subjecting her to powerful psychotropic medication and periodic hospitalisation is unlikely to help resolve her problems. Indeed, the opposite is most probable: children treated in this way will simply become more powerless. Because your well respected, award winning show reaches out to so many people, we are concerned that there will be many viewers who will be left with the impression that the treatment Jani receives is the only method available. We fear that this may cause some children to be subjected to an unnecessary lifetime in psychiatric care. It is very important to recognise that hearing voices, in itself, is not a sign of psychopathology.

We hope you will give consideration to the possibility of making a future programme showing the other side of the story, one of hope, optimism and with a focus on recovery. Perhaps you could make a programme about a child with similar voice experiences to Jani, who has been helped to come to terms with her or his experiences and to discuss with the child, parents and therapists how this was achieved? If there is any way we could help make this happen, please contact us.

We look forward to hearing from you on the issues raised in our letter.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Baker

INTERVOICE coordinator

(Letter re-edited with the kind assistance of Professor Richard Bentall)

For the Selected bibliography please see original piece at Mad In America.  http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/01/the-hearing-voices-movement-in-response-to-a-father-my-daughter-the-schizophrenic/

Here are the first several comments that followed:

  1. Thanks for posting Jacqui.

    The Guardian article and story about the little girl pathologised by psychiatry and her father was harrowing to read and think about. I remember it being promoted before. Like a circus act in bygone days but more sinister and scary. Subjecting a child to these strong psychiatric drugs it’s a wonder she can function at all.

    It’s encouraging to hear of the Hearing Voices movement’s work, Chrys

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    • Thanks Chrys.

      This story is horrifying and aside from Jani’s ‘treatment’ one wonders why her family and the professionals working with her think it is acceptable to invade her privacy in such a way. That in itself disturbs me, never mind what else she is being subjected to.

      To counter-balance such a disturbing story I felt it was crucial to highlight the work of the Hearing Voices Movement which offers such a humane and hopeful approach and a viable alternative for Jani and other children like her, who are suffering because of scary voices and visions. There is always hope.

      Jacqui

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  2. While reading “Blue-Eyed Tree Frog”, thing in the left side of my head said “cognitive dissonance”.

    I’ve never heard of cognitive dissonance so I had to look it up to see if it exists. It does.

    I cannot claim “cognitive dissonance” as my own thought. It distinctly is NOT my own. How’s that for a real-time example of mental hearing?

    I don’t know if cognitive dissonance is “professionally” observed in Jani. I think it would benefit her greatly, and she would do remarkably well, to prescribe the treatment of: study linguistics. The greater her vocabulary becomes, the better she will be able to know and understand her own mind, and effectively communicate what she experiences to others.

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    • Interesting how those words came to you – from the collective unconscious perhaps?! – but I wonder who is actually suffering from cognitive dissonance. Is it 8 year old Jani who seems to be able to articulate and communicate about her frightening experiences so clearly, or is it the adults around her? How do they fail to see and hear the meaning in her experiences, rendering them a symptom of schizophrenia instead? I wonder if it is they who need study further…

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      • I love Jani. I’m fascinated by her. I wish I could meet her and talk with her.

        I believe in my heart that she really was born exactly as she is. I think her mind / psyche very much IS a real issue. I don’t know if I’d call her “schizophrenic” but I would call her Psychic (psychic, meaning – her psyche is distinct and remarkable and very active, obviously). Psyche is NOT a disease but that doesn’t mean it is always easy to live with. It can be outright brutal and even Hellish (such is life). There are various states of Psyche. An active one is *psychic*. It shouldn’t be so complicated.

        If she is renaming herself, it seems that “cognitive dissonance” could be an accurate description of what she’s doing. I read that she HATES her name “January” – which I think is really significant and needs to be understood. SOMETHING is motivating her to find a new name for herself. That’s a big deal.

        I don’t blame her family (or the rest of the world) for calling her schizophrenic. As of right now, people don’t know any different. Who could honestly deny the fact that she IS how she is? I can’t.

        To be real honest, I resent the fact that people are trying to spin the “abuse” angle, suggesting that abuse or neglect is what is causing her condition. That is BS. There very well may be some of those issues, but the girl IS born as she is. I think she DOES have something “genetic”. I think she IS a genuine psyche-active person. I don’t see her as “sick” but I do see her as somebody who needs a LOT of support to know and understand what she “has” and how and why she has it. I see her as 100% GENUINE: whatever it may be, she’s BORN that way.

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        • I am not sure that people are trying to ‘spin’ anything, just reflecting on what comes up for them when reading and hearing about Jani and her treatment and providing factual information that has previously been in the public domain.

          I appreciate your wish to not blame but seek to try and understand. However I don’t believe in schizophrenia. I think it is a damaging concept and that so called symptoms are reactions, often to traumatic or overwhelming experiences. I also feel deeply troubled by what is really going on here although ultimately, all we can all do, is speculate, muse, discuss…

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          • Let’s take a closer look:

            http://www.thefreedictionary.com/schizophrenia

            Do you see where it says

            “2. behaviour that appears to be motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles”

            ?

            Now let’s take that and pair it up with “cognitive dissonance”

            http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cognitive+dissonance

            A condition of conflict or anxiety resulting from inconsistency between one’s beliefs and one’s actions

            It seems to me (with my very basic, uneducated intelligence) that “behaviour that appears to be motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles” and “conflict or anxiety resulting from inconsistency between one’s beliefs and one’s actions” are PRACTICALLY THE SAME THING.

            For the record, I state and declare that I DID hear “cognitive dissonance” inside of my mind and did NOT previously know that term in ANY way, not even “unconsciously” or “subconsciously”. I simply have NEVER heard of “cognitive dissonance” ever before except FROM RIGHT INSIDE OF MY OWN HEAD, LIVE, AS I WAS READING. I was “brave” and “courageous” enough to actually type (publicly) exactly what I experienced (heard) inside of my “psycho”, “schizo” head.

            Hallucinations CAN’T BE CORRECT. About anything. And if they are, it isn’t a hallucination.

            Let the professionals look for “cognitive dissonance” in Jani. If they can confirm that, to support their schizophrenia diagnosis … hold on.

            Is anyone truly interested in actually helping the child? Is anyone truly interested in UNDERSTANDING HER?

            Let’s take it a step further:

            What is her INNER CONFLICT? Here’s a clue: she HATES her name. She is RENAMING herself.

            Why?.

            The inner-world is a REAL place. Lots and lots of activity (on the inside). One more time: psyche is NOT a disease.

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          • In reply to mjk: “2. behaviour that appears to be motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles”. It “appears”. To any unengaged observer, like an mh professional for instance. It may also “appear” so to a parent whose need to himself appear as the perfect parent isn’t met by a child who reacts to the parent reflecting the parent’s imperfection. A psychiatric “symptom” is a reaction to life that is taken out of its context with life. Thus the cognitive dissonance doesn’t happen in the person who’s labeled with “mental illness” on the grounds of psychiatric “symptoms”, but in those who label.

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  3. This story is all over You-Tube, too and it made me so sad I couldn’t watch the whole thing. I remember seeing this letter to Oprah a few years ago and thinking that this list of suggestions was great. So glad to see it re-posted here.

    It’s sad to think how many creatives, spiritualists, or entrepreneurs in our society are being snuffed out by this stuff. I’ve had to do some grief work around this off and on. What’s helped lately is a Bible verse from Jeremiah about “He will restore what the locusts have eaten.” [No offense meant to Non-christians] Much of what I’ve lost to psychiatry has now been restored in my life. Hopefully we can build a way to do this more often for our brothers and sisters and step-children like this in bondage.

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  4. I’ve been following Jani’s case for a while and think her treatment with a mega drug cocktail and her exploitation by the media and her parents is unconscionable. The work with children who hear voices, on the other hand, is inspiring.

    Jacqui, Did they ever receive a response from Oprah? And have you considered sending this letter to the author of the book (Jani’s dad) via his publisher? I do believe he wants to help his child — who I see as creative and gifted as well as disturbed — perhaps, perhaps he would listen.

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    • I agree that the exploitation of Jani is unconscionable. It is also heartbreaking that her creative attempts to survive, i.e. the voices and visions that she experiences, have been so comprehensively misunderstood.

      Fortunately, healing alternatives do exist and the fantastic work of the Voice Collective project in London is a brilliant example of this, an approach that I sincerely hope will become more widely available to children like Jani and their families.

      We never received a response from Oprah but as you suggest, it might be worth trying to send this letter directly to Jani’s father. Perhaps he would listen…

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  5. Here is the family’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/janifoundation?ref=ts&fref=ts

    I resisted medicating my son for three years. Along with the voices, he had painful tactile hallucinations and frightening visual hallucinations. An array of therapists did not help. He is on meds now, which makes me very sad. However, he is no longer tormented by seeing demons cutting off people’s heads, for example. I’m hoping that the new therapist will be able to help him resolve this stuff. My guess is that Jani’s family is simply beside themselves, as am I. My heart goes out to them.

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    • I am sorry to hear about the awful time you and your son have been having. I have met and worked with many families who have been beside themselves with worry about their kids. As a parent I can entirely empathise. That is why I posted the 10-point guide for parents, indicating what they can do if a child tells them that he or she hears voices: from our experiences, the less alarmed parents feel, the better the outcomes for their children.

      I hope that your son is able to get the support from his therapist to make sense of the tormenting experiences that he was having. Wishing you both all the best.

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  6. Prior to her being subjected to the abuse of coercive-medical psychiatry, Jani was severely abused in her home.

    A few years back, Jani’s father was surprisingly forthright, in writing about this, online; yet, some time ago, he began scrubbing his tracks.

    For example, he removed the following two paragraphs from his own blog,http://www.januaryfirst.org (and then took that blog offline):

    “We tried everything. Positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement. Hitting her back (I won’t tell you how many people told us that all she needed was a good beating). We took all her toys away. We gave her toys away. We tried starving her. We did EVERYTHING we could to try and break her. Nothing worked.

    “The violence became so bad that at times Susan and I both lost it and hit Jani as hard as we could. We hit in impotent rage.
    We got a referral to a psychiatrist. Two months later, Janni was hospitalized for the first of what has since been four times, but in truth will be many more times. Today, Jani is no longer a brat. Today, Jani is schizophrenic.”

    Source:

    http://bipolar-stanscroniclesandnarritive.blogspot.com/2009/07/los-angeles-times-reporter-defends.html?showComment=1314932254631

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      • Jacqui,

        If the exact nature of Jani’s current ‘treatment’ can’t be discovered by reading her father’s new book (which I have never read, but which I know is now being featured in the Guardian), I believe we can, nonetheless, reasonably surmise, that Jani is a young person whose parents are – with the help of psychiatrists – drugging her behaviors continually; for, in the course of their seeking help for her, years ago, Jani’s parents came to developing a ‘mental health’ lobbying platform, vis–à–vis Jani’s mom (Susan) hosting her own weekly radio show called, “Bipolar Nation,” and by way of Jani’s dad (Michael) often co-hosting…

        Both parents are outspoken, in their opinions, on that show (as, of course, most radio show hosts will be); sadly (for their kids), not infrequently, they are inclined to broadcast their children’s ‘mental health’ issues on that show. (That said, now, hesitantly, I mention the link to their free podcasts):

        http://www.latalkradio.com/Bipolar.php

        In your comment, above, at January 22, 2013 at 7:50 am, to Chrys, you say:

        “This story is horrifying and aside from Jani’s ‘treatment’ one wonders why her family and the professionals working with her think it is acceptable to invade her privacy in such a way. That in itself disturbs me, never mind what else she is being subjected to.”

        I share your sense of horror. (Indeed, *never* do I cease to be troubled, by the latest example of parents publicizing their kids’ ‘mental health’ issues; personally, I struggle, wondering: is it OK even to discuss the most trivial matters pertaining to my child’s life, online? Hypothetically speaking: can I even mention what I may consider a disappointing report card, in good conscience? I think not. (But, of course, mentioning ones child’s doings, from a position of relative anonymity, might not be so bad. I’m uncomfortable with it, when people do it; but, the anonymous approach may be somewhat more acceptable.) Certainly, I’d not want to be one to attach *any* kid’… read more

  7. First of all, sorry I did not know about the possiblity to sign the paper. In my daily work I meet far too often children and young people coming to our place with psychiatric diagnosis and prescriptions of drugs. Fortunately I am often part of a change, I have the joy to work with people who believe in other things, people who believe in the importance of being present and participating in a relationship to try to find out how come it is like this. And there are answers, always! Not necessarily easily found, not necessarily comfortable, sometimes very painful issues to discover, sometimes with a lot of guilt and sleepless nights. So it is important to be there together with the child and his / her family (if possible). There are no other way. It can never ever be acceptable to define a child or a young person having a psychaitric illness without taking into account the context, life conditions, family, society, etc… And sad to say, but have also very many times met children and young people getting worse in a “professional” context with its manuals, methods, and different criterias. I have a dream about a different approach, about a knowledge which include many people, also the professional “helper”, a knowledge which has to do with trust, hope, taking a responsibilty and to find ways to collaborate.

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    • I agree Carina that there are ALWAYS answers, even if they lead to some very painful, uncomfortable issues. No experience, nor person is utterly incomprehesible, if we are simply willing to be with people, relate to them and really hear what they have to say. Sadly many ‘treatments’ actually make matters so much worse which is a travesty. Fortunately, there are a growing number of us who are expressing our outrage at such misguided attempts to help and who also have the knowledge and experience to advocate ways of working collaboratively that really do help.

      Looking forward to collaborating with you and others in Sweden in April, to help spread the word about what works!

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      • Yes it will be great to see you, and to listen to you of course!
        This morning on my way to work I met a mother and her four years old daughter on their way to day care (or how to call it in English). In the beginning of last autumn a colleauge Hanna and I met the girl and her parents who at that time were in a chock since a psychologist after meeting the girl ONE time had told them that the girl has a very severe autism and has to start medicating and go through psychological tests. They were also told that the girl will never be able to live “a normal” life. Well, to make a long story very short, we have seen the parents during some months and listened to their story over the last ten years and how different things have happenened in their life, and not to say that everything is totally ok by now, but they again trust their own feelings and experiences towards the daughter and have decide not to go back to child psychiatry. Welcome to Gothenburg!!!

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        • This is an all too common experience, in many parts of the world it seems Carina. It just makes me more determined to continue to raise awareness of the harm caused by those who are supposed to help, and of the many excellent alternatives that are developing across the world. This web site is a fantastic way of spreading awareness of both of these crucial issues. Pleased to ‘meet’ you here – very much look forward to meeting you in Gothenburg in the Spring!

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  8. Jacqui,

    This family has received a great deal of publicity in recent years, and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the parents have encouraged the child’s dysfunctionality for their own gain. As long as all the criteria for these so-called illnesses are behavioral, this kind of thing is almost inevitable. Most commonly, this takes the form of parents coaching the child with a view to obtaining disability income. But more exotic versions can and do occur.

    Philip Hickey, PhD
    http://behaviorismandmentalhealth.com/

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    • Parents coaching children in order to obtain disability income isn’t something I know much about but I can imagine it happens. As to whether so-called illnesses arebehavioral is open to debate. It seems to me that troubling behaviours are the manifestation and consequence of overwhelming emotions, reactions to the environment, impact of significant relationships etc. Simply switching the frame from illness to behaviour isn’t the answer for me. A focus on it may be part of what helps makes sense of the whole person and their experience…

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  9. I so appreciate this, Jacqui.

    I have been suicidally depressed many times, but I have never heard voices. I have talked with voice-hearers in the hospital very matter-of-factly, but I never thought about this approach until I heard of HVN, just a few weeks ago.

    Your post is enlightening. I am a peer specialist, and I am so grateful for the information I get at MIA. I am in your debt.

    Pam

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  10. I wrote about Jani as an exams project and did a lot of research as her father has used her to promote his blog and later the book based on his blog – and to beg for money. It is one of the most tragic public exploitations of a child I have ever been a witness to. He has been investigated for sexual abuse of jani but never convicted. He has himself written about the violence he and Janis’s mother exposed Jani to before he found out that that was not a smart thing to do on the net. He becomes infuriated if he is criticized on his blog and no form of critique is tolerated so no dialog is ever entered into unless it is basically praising especially him. There are clips when Jani is just weeks old and he is talking about her hallucinating! I concluded after reading, watching video clips and listening to their radio program that we have here a case of what could go under the heading of Munchausen by proxy syndrome. The interview with Oprah btw shows clearly (my opinion) that Oprah is out of her depth and that she believes Jani is ill and addresses her as such.

    However what is also dreadful is we have a psychiatric system prepared to drug Jani to the gills and ignore the family life which in Jani’s case is plastered all over the internet, though now-a-days it is carefully planned and orchestrated. There are clips where it is so obvious Jani is trying to please mom and dad (and the camera) by waving a plastic knife around so that the staff can say she needs to be admitted as violent(!)

    Thanks Jacqui for bringing the plight of this poor child to our attention again, and who knows maybe one day she will read and hear that another truth also exists…

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RIP ERIC GARNER: Man Killed By NYPD for breaking up a fight…

 

This video is pretty sickening and difficult to watch. However it is brief and necessary, if you care about what the police are doing tp everyday citizens in this country… (Need I mention that Eric happens to be African American, which I believe was significant in his treatment, just as a mental illness would have been or other supposedly extraneous factors…

A Blog Post Reply to “Alice”

Broken... This is what abuse and bullying does to a person
Broken… Because this is what abuse and bullying does to a person

I think it is time to explain the trigger for my being mute these five days now, and what happened to start the voices unloosing their barrage of hatred on me. In order to do so, I take a huge risk, because I may unleash more of what happened rather than less. But at least part of what happened was real, the trigger was at least, and it disturbed me deeply. I need also to say that when I tagged yesterday’s  audio file “abuse” as well as “health” I meant it. It is almost always abuse of some sort, verbal, emotional or physical abuse that triggers the voices and self-hatred has in the past triggered muteness.

 

So let me be up front: It was “Alice’s” comment five days ago in which she said, “I think you are a bit of a bully”…which was the specific trigger for all of this. Now, as I read through it — reposted below — I see that nothing she wrote has any bearing on either the post she commented under (which I didn’t write) or anything else I have had to say. But first let me take it point by point. Note that Alice’s comments, for clarity, are in color.

 

Alice, you wrote: “I must say there is no consistency in your writings. You say about how well Yale New Haven Psychiatric – Hospital treated you and the next entry indicates the opposite- how awful they were to you.”

 

I must write about inconsistencies and the facts as they happened, and I am sorry if that discomfits you, Alice. But the first experience in the early spring was very gentle and positive, and the other, as I wrote before, was brutal. Nonetheless that is not an “inconsistency in my writing” just an inconsistency in my treatment. You must be someone who is very unhappy with the world as the world tends to be “inconsistent.” Even the weather has a habit of changing, at least  it is famously so in New England and I suspect that nowhere in the US has entirely “consistent weather.” Of course there are those people who need hobgoblins…

 

Alice continues on the issue of consistency: “You say you don’t like anti-psychotic medications yet you take them (and you also don’t like anti-depressants – yet you take them…”

 

In my defense,I think mature adults often do things they don’t like, even taking medications they don’t like. Most cancer patients hate chemotherapy but take the pills etc anyway. I don’t think merely disliking a medication is reason by and of itself not to take it. Nor to criticize anyone for being inconsistent. There are plenty of reasons to do things you may not like. Many people don’t like eating vegetables, but they sure as shooting ought to eat them!

 

On one other hand, I more than dislike antipsychotic drugs, I deeply distrust them. I do not believe they work. I do not believe they were developed on any scientific basis or are necessary on any but the shortest of short term bases, if that.

 

That said, on the other other hand, I both took and was forced to take antipsychotic drugs for decades, from the oldest Thorazine and Mellaril at doses up to 1500mg, to weekly IM injections of Prolixin, then on to Clozaril, which nearly killed me, transitioning to seizure-inducing Seroquel  to catatonia-inducing Risperdal then eventually to 35 mg of Zyprexa, which made me gain 70 pounds. Given this history, I think I can be excused from blame for withdrawal-induced psychosis when I try to stop my present two anti-psychotic meds, a very real and difficult situation that a growing number of researchers and physicians now acknowledge, including Robert Whitaker and Joanna Moncrieff among others.

 

Alice notes: “for example why would you need your Zoloft reinstated when you had your sudden “depression” after it was taken away. )I thought these pills didn’t work.”

 

What I said was that SSRI’s do not work as their developers state they do. They do not relieve depression by selectively inhibiting serotonin re-uptake at the pre-synaptic neuron. Yes, they DO selectively inhibit this process, but it isn’t necessary, and it isn’t an anti-depressant mechanism. Why? Because the serotonin levels in depressed people’s brains have been shown NOT to be lower than anyone else’s. If you had read what I wrote, you would have understood that I indicated that SSRIs are not placebos, they are not inactive substances, so they do something. They are psycho-active, after all they alter serotonin levels! So they change something in the brain, and that change — any change – may make a depressed person feel better, temporarily. But I have never met anyone who felt permanently better on a single level dose of an SSRI and no one knows for certain what these drugs are doing. I think this is problematic. But I especially think it is FOUL and dangerous to tell a depressed person that they have a chemical imbalance of serotonin that the drug is regulating. That is just a downright lie.

 

As for my sudden “depression” when my dose of 75mg of Zoloft was lowered? Who can say what happened? It may have been that the nurse/director who was my protector at the hospital was away for a few days too at the time, and I sensed the difference…All I know is, well, what happened. I only report the events, neither justifying them nor attempting to make the case that Zoloft “works.” In fact, 6 months later at Yale, when I was down to 50 mg of Zoloft, Dr Milstein felt that I should just come off it entirely, which I did without difficulty. I have no wish to start it again

 

Oh yes, Ritalin you take but that’s for a “physical” problem so that’s Okay.

Yes, in fact that is the case. My question is, why is it any of your business and why do you care?

 

Alice, you then proceeded out of the blue to write: “I think you are a bit of a bully and I think that you think you are profoundly smart. But I’m not taken in…………”

First I want to say, Alice, that I’m not too concerned about my intelligence…I’m certainly not worried about you think about my intelligence, in any event. But it was here, where you called me a bully, that the voices were triggered. Instantly, specifically, instantaneously. In fact, the minute I read those words, the trouble began. And even though I managed to pen a calm enough response, my heart started beating rapidly and the  voices muttering louder and louder in the background even as I wrote. I cannot explain — though of course this whole post is trying to — just what happened.  I felt my ears explode with the pressure of deep sea diving and as if a huge bell were clanging in my head.

You called me a bully. Me, a bully? Why? Were you just reaching for the worst name you could call me? Certainly, it incorporates my worst fear in the world and it was as if you just knifed my jugular… I didn’t know how to defend myself. Before I knew it, the first thing that happened was that the voices zeroed in for an attack, snarling, blaming me for everything wrong I’d ever done. Believe me, they remember every detail! And more and worse, they blamed me for everything wrong ANYONE had ever done! Before I knew it, I was Dr Mengele, Heinrich Himmler, and Adolf Hitler rolled into one.

Did you, Alice, know this? Did you intend for this to happen? Did you want this shit to hit the fan and intend for me to feel so terrible? Did you want me to feel in fact God-forsaken? I sensed that you did. I sensed that you wanted me to feel desperate, and desperately alone. I sensed then that you wanted me to HATE myself and perhaps even to KILL myself as a response…After all, you called me a bully! You would only do that if you wanted repercussions to ensue: Bullies make people commit suicide, so wouldn’t the punishment for bullies be to kill themselves in turn? What else can they do to make up for the evil that they have caused? (NOTE: I would never ask anyone else to so punish themselves; only I myself can never be forgiven for the evil I have done. I am unforgivable, nothing I do can ever be forgiven…But you, Alice, who know me so well, knew this, didn’t you?)

You see, Alice, what you unleashed? Do you see?

No, you wouldn’t see. You couldn’t possibly see. You would have no idea, because you don’t know me at all. You don’t know anything about me, not in the way you pretend you do…The person “Pam” you think you know is all in your mind, a fantasy created out of your imagination to suit your own angry needs and purposes.

But the thing is, Alice, you know what? It is not I who am the bully in the end. I understand this now. I may be a lot of things, and I may be Evil, but I am not a bully. You do not know me. You know nothing of me but my writings. Even if lurking incognito on my blog you are actually one of the staff members at Yale or Hartford Hospital, pursuing me, you would still know nothing about me, not really, and would never be qualified to call me a bully. None of my friends have ever called me a bully. No one who has ever met me socially even briefly or just once has ever called me a bully. Why? Because I am nothing even remotely like a bully.

 

Instead, Alice. you have proved yourself to be an abusive person who lashes out at strangers and who says harmful and hurtful things to vulnerable strangers, regardless of whether you know these things to be true or not. Look in the mirror, Alice. Look  yourself square in the face because you are angry and you are bitter, and you, Alice, YOU ARE THE BULLY.

 

Now,  let me tell you something else. You think you can get away with it because you did not use your last name, safely tucked away at several states distance or at least protected by your anonymity.,. That because I don’t know who you are, I can do nothing about it.  But ALICE, I have my methods of investigating and I know your last name. I also have two photographs of you — and I will post them and name you publicly right here on my blog if you EVER write anything cruel or abusive like this to or about me or to or about anyone else on my blog again.

 

 

I hope I make myself perfectly clear on this.

 

Now, you know what? I was going to go on to “disprove” the rest of your comment, but suddenly I realized I don’t have anything more to say you. Nothing you wrote holds any value .

 

I’m tired, and it has been a long devastating night. I am going to bed…We will see what the day brings. Whether it will bring back speech or more devastating voices I do not want to say. I can only hope things improve…If not, at the very least you know where I stand.

Pam

I Haven’t Spoken A Word in Four days…

 

I know this audio file may be difficult to understand, but this is what happens when the voices go haywire…I can’t speak. And I cannot even tell you what triggered it, but something did. I tried to go to a Voice Hearers workshop on Tuesday about Taboo and Dangerous voices, but i could scarcely enter the building. I had to “get permission” just to open the door, and when I did, I could not stay…Just could not stay. Forget it. I’m worthless.

PSYCHIATRIC ADVANCED DIRECTIVE -2014 – Words to Caregivers (Short and Simple)

I am uploading my new PAD, IN ORDER TO AVOID INJURIES SUCH AS THESE, brought on in Jan 2013 at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. and photographed the very day I was released.

Now I have a torn left rotator cuff..anything to do with this, I wonder? from IOL 4 point restraints
Left shoulder,,,
Left shoulder,,, caused by brutality  or four point restraints at IOL
Bruises from locked leather retraint cuffs on for many hours, immobilizing me
Bruises on bare ankle from long term use of 4-point  leather restraint cuffs, locked so tightly i could not move. — from IOL 2013

Although I brought the PAD both to the Institute of Living in Jan 2013 and to Yale in Aug 2013, I don’t know what happened that it was abrogated so deeply and so widely. At Yale, they forced medication on me, holding me down three times daily at times, resulting in such psychic regression that as you have all read, I routinely stripped naked, defecated on the floor and smeared feces all over the wall. That I was at one and the same time attempting to communicate with these people, by WRITING WORDS IN MY SHIT, was utterly disregarded by all at the time. But I assure you that if I was regressed and psychotic in doing such things, I was nevertheless still verbal! I am also virtually certain that had they not grabbed me, pinned me to the floor and held me down for three painful injections in the buttocks of a drug that Soviet dissidents have long called pure torture (Haldol in the 60s/70s was the subject of many a televised congressional hearing, and discussed in just such terms…) my response would have been very very diffferent indeed. 

 

That said, they did what they claimed they had to do, and when I left, I left feeling absolutely convinced that my life was and had been mortally threatened, that I could NEVER return, that I would literally be murdered if ever I dared.   Nothing more need be said about such sadistic places as the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital. Even in the Patient Care Guide and Journal, they are at pains to make it clear that any loud or out of control behavior will be dealt with swiftly and severely, with seclusion, restraints, and even charges pressed by the local authorities! (NO attempts to soothe the traumatized patient or act on what CMS has urged be the best practices of trauma-informed and patient-centered-care at the IOL. No, at Hartford Hospital, it is all about NO SWEARING and staying quiet, non-disruptive. The “Or else” threat behind it all is not even implied but openly stated in their rules and obligations section. Why ANYONE would want to set themselves up for treatment in such a place is beyond me…They have even edited out any attempts at kindness from the old handbook that I was given just a year ago.   Yale at least attempted to live up to a policy of Trauma-informed  and Patient-centered care. When they said No Restraints policy, I believe they meant it, at least in terms of NO MECHANICAL leather and shackles restraints.

 

And I believe that had Robert Ostroff MD, NOT been in charge of my care during the week or two that Robert Milstein MD was away, some of the brutality might not have occurred at Yale and I might be writing less devastated things about the Washington Square 2 unit, a place I had once so hopefully described as a “soft, gentle place to land in a psychiatric crisis.” But as much as because of my outrageous and disruptive behavior in response to their trauma as because of their repetitive violence and cruelty, I can never return there…a sad thing I suppose, since there is literally no safe place in Connecticut for me.* *more on this later or in another post.  What I have posted here is an update in order to Keep me OUT of the hospital as much as to direct my care if I am put inside, It is not the whole thing, only the first two or three pages, I would be happy to upload the whole thing so you can see how I did it, if anyone indicates interest. Let me know. So far it was always the first three pages that got people’s attention.   ______________________________________________________

Pamela Wagner’s

PSYCHIATRIC ADVANCE DIRECTIVE 2014

 

FOR WHEN I AM HOSPITALIZED OR INFORMATION TO HELP TO AVOID IT

 

Miss Wagner has experienced multiple episodes of severe psychological and physical trauma, including date rape, the suicide of two friends, and domestic abuse by caregivers. She should NOT be subjected to restraints, involuntary seclusion, or forced medication. The use of these inevitably leads to re-traumatizing and injury, regression and severe worsening of her psychiatric symptoms.

 

HOW TO INTERVENE IN A CRISIS:

  • DE-ESCALATION IS ESSENTIAL  
  • DO NOT TOUCH ME OR GRAB ME.
  • DO NOT LAUGH AT ME.
  • I WILL CALM DOWN IF YOU REMEMBER THAT:

 

  1. I AM SCARED AND PARANOID. I ONLY FIGHT IF I FEEL UNDER ATTACK.  DO NOT USE A SHOW OF FORCE, AS THIS WILL FRIGHTEN ME MORE.

 

  1. DON’T ISSUE ULTIMATUMS…That will push us all into a corner and serve nothing
  1.  AN UNRUFFLED PERSON SHOULD ASK ME TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH, and try other verbal calming techniques. I am always grateful for people remaining calm when I am upset.

 

  1.  NEVER LEAVE ME ALONE IN A BARREN (seclusion) ROOM.

 

  1. A WEIGHTED OR WARMED-UP BLANKET SOOTHES ME. SOMETHING ICY TO EAT CAN ALSO HELP.

 

  1. PLEASE LISTEN TO WHAT I HAVE TO SAY.  Medication may not be needed if you hear what the problem is.

 

  1.  IF NECESSARY, YOU MAY PERSUADE ME TO TAKE ORAL MEDICATION, if you negotiate this with dignity and kindness. Keep speaking to me calmly and explain your reasoning.

 

*I cannot reiterate enough that if you utilize 4-point restraints or seclusion, it is virtually guaranteed that you will see regression, increased hostility and aggressiveness as a result. Please don’t do something everyone will regret.

 

 

ADDITIONAL STATEMENT TO CAREGIVERS (PLEASE READ)

It is important that you understand that I do not have a personality disorder (you can confirm this with Dr Angela C——, or any of my longtime outpatient providers and friends and family members). If my behavior/emotions seem out of control, it is because I am out of control – temporarily.

I have had tertiary CNS Lyme disease, which I was informed after multiple positive PCR and Western Blots during treatment was likely incurable. During my initial illness, my brain developed MRI lesions which may predispose me to temporary emotional and behavioral abnormalities but these are NOT my norm. Anyone who knows me well would tell you that, if you ask them.

I am not always able to communicate my fear but because I feel so threatened and unable to communicate clearly about it (lest there be consequences to me) I may become very angry at the hospital situation. I am not an angry person, but I do have trauma issues, as many people do.

Please be aware that I am sometimes mute, in frustration and overwhelmed by circumstances. You can provide me with a pad and pen to facilitate communication, but berating me into speaking will no purpose and may only precipitate anger.

Ascertain from me whether the information you have at hand is correct. Too many records and hospital charts have been drawn up on faulty information from earlier charts or information gleaned from others but not from me, and the consequences to my treatment have been devastating.

I would prefer NOT to take any medications and will resist them. I want to experience my LIFE AND MY FEELINGS. If you insist on meds, the ones that work best are _______.

I will not take any drug that induces weight gain. If you force it, know that I will fight you, tooth and nail.

 

Art created at the Torture Chamber called the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital

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I was a prisoner at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living’s Donnelly 2 South from January 10th until February 7th, 2013, the day before the east coast blizzard, and I only “escaped” because the torturing doctor went on a four day vacation and the substitute decided that I was not actually psychotic any longer and did not need seclusion or restraints after all…and opted to let me go the very day I was freed from both.

 

Good thing too, because it was a Thursday and all travel stopped the very next day and for several days after that. The picture above is one that Shedana, RN liked very much. She said it captured her “physique” and while the flooring is imaginary, the unit was structured much as it is pictured. At least while I had a bed on the unit, with my door facing the med room and another bedroom opposite. Shedana was a “good egg” but of course it didn’t help when they decided to attack me in force and secluded me for two weeks and worse…But more on that later.

 

The first doctor I had merely convinced me to take, semi-voluntarily, a fairly stiff dose of Zyprexa. which I tried to do with regularity. I soon found, however, that far from being the miracle drug it had once been, mixed with Abilify and Geodon it induced a state of apathy and boredom. As if the Intake and Feeding drug, the drug on which I used to feel enthusiasm to learn and read, Zyprexa, simply mixed very badly with the Output drugs of Geodon and Abilify, such that I neither could read and learn, nor do art or write. In any event, this abysmal lethargy pushed me out of desperation to paint this, in oil pastels.

 

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After that, I simply started refusing to take the Zyprexa, and refusing a lot of other things…A great deal of abuse happened. But I did this picture before all my art supplies were confiscated for no reason other than punishment (you cannot damage yourself or others with soft oil pastels)

 

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Before I tell you some of what happened, without naming names, lest a legal case be made against them, as there might possibly be a chance to do, let me show you most of the rest of the art I did there, though one of them is unfinished and may never end up being finished, since it was hospital art and may stay that way.

 

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This one is an oil pastel, me with a dung beetle pushing a ball of shit around on my cheek…Says enough just that, doesn’t it.

 

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This one can be turned any which way to see all sorts of things buried in the picture. It was the one I started first and never did get to finish. What I can point you towards is the central object at the very bottom, which you can trace up to the blue figure and see what is happening. It should tell you something…The hand on the upper left is pointing at this process. Also, the exploding biohazard ball is part of it all, representing me, the all-polluting biohazard…But you have to look at the picture carefully. There is a Boat To Nowhere, and there are a couple of turtles, why, I don’t know…yadda yadda.

 

Finally, the very last time I had access to any art supplies, and I do not recall whether it was my last morning or some other time, I painted this one with oil pastels. I believe it speaks for itself.

 

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What happened was that they were routinely, literally routinely restraining me “for not following directions” as they would quite openly state. Four-point restraints, in a tight no movement position, for many many hours at a time, with absolutely no indication of how, just how, I might “earn” my freedom. Of course they wouldn’t tell me what I could do to “be good” because I hadn’t done anything to ‘deserve” restraints to begin with as they knew perfectly well. For example,. and this was typical, but it was one of the few opportunities I managed to document because they ha removed all my writing materials, illegally, but I forgot that I had a right to a crayon and paper until Feb 6th. That afternoon, I simply walked away from my seclusion room. I had had enough of them saying it was “merely a side room” not a seclusion room, then preventing me bodily from leaving it. So when I could do so without someone actually wanting to fight me, I walked away, and proceeded to enter the unit and walk down the hall to the end and look out the window, I took a deep breath, heard THEM behind me, and sauntered back to the proper end of the hall, the “lost end” where they kept anyone from seeing me or knowing what they were doing to me. Once I got there, they descended on me, the horde of the goon squad, some staff I knew, but most I did not. I did not bother to look at who was doing what to me. I simply lay passively on the bed, and put my arms out so they could do what I knew they would do. Tightly, they shackled my wrists out past my hips so there was no play in the restraints and I could not turn on my side or do anything but lie stiffly on my back. At the same time, others jerked my feet apart and just as tightly shackled my ankles to the lower corners of bed. Then came the coup de grace. They pinioned me on my side somehow, pulled down my pants, and injected me with three drugs: Haldol 5mg, Ativan 2mg, and Benadryl 50mg. Why, except as punishment I do not know. because I had, just a half hour before, been doped up on involuntary Zyprexa 10mg.

 

But of course it was punishment. The very fact that they told me it was “not punishment” but “what your behavior brings on every time, Pamela” only proves my point. At first and usually they only said, it was because I “didn’t follow directions” so if they were not punishing me, what were they doing? They most certainly were not following Centers for Medicare and Medicaid regulations for the use of Restraints and Seclusion only in cases where a person is in imminent danger or harming self or others! Indeed, the best they could do, when I protested, passively, saying just those words, was to respond, “You are not safe” as if that proved somehow that I was in danger or posed any imminent threat to the safety of anyone.

 

No, I did not. I didn’t threaten or harm anyone. I merely walked the length of the hall and looked out the window and then went back to my solitary confinement. But it was enough to trigger their retaliation, and that started at 1pm. I was not released, not even to use the bathroom or eat supper, no never even was a single hand freed to permit me to eat supper — until 7pm.

 

THEN, at 8:30pm, I became upset and frustrated because — well, I do not know now why, but I “threw a half a graham cracker at the wall” as I recorded later. And the goon squad descended on this dangerous patient again, not only with the strait jacket of four point restraints, but with the same 3 drug IM-in-the-ass cocktail.

 

This time, however, passive as I was as they trussed me up — and I said only, “For shame, for shame. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, doing this to me…” — passive as I was, allowing them to seize my limbs and tightly shackle me yet again in truth I dared not resist, as that would only have justified their violence, and i already had my share of bruises. Bur I had come to my limit of the abuse i would silently tolerate. They could restrain and seclude me but they had up till now only silenced me in restraints because iu wanted to earn my way free quickly. THis time I didn’t give a damn. It was nearly nine o clock and no one knew what they had done to me. Everyone was getting their bedtime meds and going to bed without any understanding of what was going on. I was a stranger to most people on the unit, who had no idea I even existed. THAT was a situation that had to change. NOW.

 

After they trooped out of the room, stationing a 1:1 sitter at the door as usual, I stopped my merely silent and passive resistance and started to scream. I wanted to be heard. I wanted to scare people. I wanted them to wonder, Who is that person,. and what in god’s name are they doing to her? Are they torturing her? And I wanted them to ask questions of the staff that the staff could not answer. I screamed and I screams in desolation and despair, feeling like my life was at an end. The plan they had set up for me was impossible for me to live up to. In nearly 10 days I had not even earned my way to a pencil and my journal. Only to restraints and more restraints. I saw no way out of the hospital. So I screamed, long blood-curdling, heart-wrenching screams that I assume did the job of scaring all, as eventually they closed my door, much to the disgruntlement of the sitter who was forced to come inside with me and was no longer free to socialize. But not for a while. I kept on screaming until my voice gave out and I felt asleep.

 

The next day the substitute doctor freed me, I dunno why or how, but she did. and I thank my lucky stars as the staff doctor was a sadist and never would have. I have a lot more to say, but for now I am hoping to hear from a sympathetic lawyer who will take on my case for some reason for some purpose…Unlikely to happen. despite my bruised body and joints that are so out of whack I cannot sit indian fashion or cross my legs. Why won’t they help me or respond? I didn’t die, so they won’t earn a lot of money from my case, nobody gives a damn about mental patient abuse…

 

You really know when you are a third class citizen when you only MIGHT be worth more to them dead than alive.

 

 

Body Bagged, 4-pointed, Secluded and Tortured — All in the name of Treatment?

 

IMG_0002IMG_0004

The above is are just some bruises of many I received during my month-long course of “psychiatric treatment” at the Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, on the unit called Donnelly 2 South. In  Connecticut, the Institute of Living, first known as the Retreat, and once quite famous as a posh sanatarium for the rich and famous though this is no longer true, was first made famous by  Clifford Beers, I believe, who wrote about similiar torture he underwent there just a hundred years ago in the book, A Mind That Found itself.
 

After burning my face with cigars and cigarettes, I spent the last month in Connecticut’s well-known Institute of Living (yeah the dangerous 6th month was JANUARY not February but nobody thought to check my math) being beaten up and trussed like a pig in four-point restraints almost daily for many many hours. Why did they deal me this sort of treatment? Why? Because “You do not follow directions”.

 

I DID NOT FOLLOW DIRECTIONS so they beat me up and tied me, shackled me with leather and metal cuffs  to a bed for dozens upon dozens of hours.! Get that? I was disobedient, so they shackled me to a bed as an excuse for treatment!

 

After this experience, I LOST ALL FAITH in the ability of any institution to do anyone any good who has a mental illness or sickness of the mind, or any emotional disorder or whatever you wish to call it. I GIVE UP! I will kill myself if anyone ever tries to send me back to such a cesspit of a place. I do not care if it is appointed like the Taj Mahal. NO ONE who works there is uncontaminated by the evil infecting such places and they are ALL EVIL EVERY SINGLE ONE. I have NEVER been to a hospital where the people are kind and well meaning and where the treatment is actually kind and decent. Once in a  while a single person, such as the Middlesex Hospital occupational therapist  Christobelle Payne, may stand out in memory as being a rare human being of warmth and dignity and  caring, but otherwise, they all to a one fail the test of being decent human specimens and all fail royally to be even normally humanly responsive to suffering persons. They are in it for the money and a cushy job, and don’t you forget it if you go into a psycho hospital, DO not expect to get well there. Expect PILLS, and directions (ie ORDERS) that you HAVE To follow or ELSE.

 

Get out of there as quickly as possible, because your life depends on it. I am serious. DO NOT LINGER expecting care and treatment or to feel better no matter how helpful it might want to seem.

 

Furthermore. if you are a young person, do not listen to the sweet seductive advice that some may give you that you woul do well to go for “disability” and social security payments. THAT Is a load of total crapola and the worst thing anyone could tell anyone under the age of 50. I am so angry and broken at the moment that I cannot speak more. But if I can later on, I will say more to explain. At the moment, I have to attend to too many PHYSICAL bruises and to find a way back to sanity on my own, havin been driven to the brink of near extinction by one of the best known hospitals in this state. At the moment I am both rigid with rage and so confused and broken that I scarcely know how to continue, or whether I even want to. Why bother? Why bother? How can people be such  monsters, and in such monstrously powerful places and ways. I hurt so deeply and feel I will never trust an single person ever again when they say, Come let us help you. You need our help.  YOUR help? Like being raped, I need your F—ing help!

 

GO jump in a lake of snot is what I should say to all of you so called helpers. I’d rather die. Go F— yourself.

Where Have All the Multiples Gone?

One of the terrible consequences of the APA’s DSM is the Multiple Personality Mayhem that resulted from that fad diagnosis of the late 80s and 90s. I was hospitalized many times in those years, and I was appalled even then at how this once extraordinarily rare diagnosis was suddenly “popping out of the woodworks.” Somehow, multiples, with their putative history of extreme childhood sexual torture, were everywhere. At any time on a psychiatric unit of 18-20 beds, you might see 4 people supposedly suffering from MPD. It was absurd, but try and point that out to the professionals! No, they were much too busy creating very sick individuals out of the whole cloth of their own — the psychiatrists’– minds!

Even at the time I felt very frightened by what was happening, as I understood how difficult it was going to be, when it was all over, for such patients to come to grips with the fact that their disorders were invented for them by the doctors who wanted to have their time in the limelight. Now that the fad is over, where have all the multiples gone? Have all of them been converted to DID — that is, are they still being lied to? or has anyone decided to be honest with them and admit that the Dx was bogus all along, that they never did have MPD or any other such disorder. That their so called multiple personalities were suggested to them by the therapists and invented for them ditto.

It was a horrendous situation, and one that I do not believe anyone has dealt with completely honestly or fully to this day…Of course not. When did you ever meet a doctor, much less a psychiatrist willing to admit he or she made a terrible mistake, or say, I am sorry, I will make amends. Hah. That’ll be the day.

Mental Hospital: Psychiatric “Treatment” and Abuse II (Continued)

I was admitted last Tuesday night, the 17th of July I believe it was, to the Institute of Living, the psychiatric division of Hartford Hospital in central Connecticut. I do not remember this. The fact that I have amnesia for it and for most of the Wednesday following only occurred to me on Thursday, a day and a half later, when I wondered — the train of thought must have had to do with the seclusion episode that took place Wednesday evening and which I described in yesterday’s blog post — why they had been so violent with me, why they had so quickly secluded and threatened me with restraints in a situation that didn’t come within miles of “requiring” them. Surely, I thought, the staff member who admitted me, whoever that had been, had asked me a critical question, which is on every  admissions questionnaire upon entering a psych unit or hospital these days: have you ever experienced trauma or sexual assault? (or words to that effect). I could not, and still cannot, for the life of my body or soul remember anything asked or answered at that time. There’s little left in my memory beyond a vague “snapshot” of being wheeled into The Institute of Living (hence forward to be called by its nickname The Toot or by its initials, The IOL) and my understanding that I had been transferred out of the ER. Then the memory  goes blank until many hours later. Understanding only as late as Thursday that I had this gap, and pained by the violence dealt me the night before, I went up to my “contact person” and asked about my admission. Could I find out whether this question was ever asked me, and what my answers were?  At first, naturally and as a matter of course, she refused. That was SOP. Refuse, refuse, and refuse.  So as I stood there, earnest in my request, she seemed about to summarily dismiss it as just another bothersome demand from a too-demanding patient already much disliked by all. What did I expect, cooperation? But to my surprise, her misgivings and the flicker of irritation that had crossed her face at first changed to a flattened look of resignation. She agreed to read my answers to the questions to me. But that was all she would do, so don’t go expecting more than that.

As she read from the top, a few memories stirred and woke, but only temporarily.  I fear they soon faded again into the all-white-out of oblivion. Only the trauma memories remain, for they apparently are stronger than thieving Ativan. Can I push myself to remember what her reading my answers back to me recalled to mind? She told me…what? She said that I told the admitting staff member, whom I do not remember a thing about, do not even recall if that person was male or female, doctor or nurse or what…I told that person I was not homicidal, not suicidal, not hearing voices, and that I didn’t need to be in the hospital. Three answers were true, or true enough by then. After having been nearly killed in the ER the people in my head/outside of it, who tell me to do things to myself were not so relentlessly horrible in their demands…so I was indeed no longer suicidal, homicidal or in need of hospitalization. I just wanted to get out of there and go on my upcoming writing-retreat vacation.

As I recall the little I recall now, this nurse, my “contact person” read to herself a lot of the paperwork and relatively little aloud, despite her promises. I kept asking what she had read, and prompting her to read out loud, but she let forth only a few phrases. I still do not know why… though I can guess that pretty bad things are written there about me. That would not surprise me one iota. I do not really care. They will largely be lies or descriptions of that awful scene in the ER from one very biassed point of view. No one will tell MY side of the story, that’s for damn sure. Whatever is said there will be based on what the ER personnel and the guard-thugs did to me, but if my contact person believed them reading them, and never bothered to find out the half of it, then who knows what they all thought about me, or believed…Anyhow, I do not care, because they too were thuggish, professionally and psychologically.

But the big question was yet unanswered. Had I ever in fact been asked about past experience of trauma or sexual assault? Contact Person, whom I won’t name as she was at least marginally decent to me, now seemed interested in this too, having paged through the lengthy document and not found it. She seemed puzzled, said she knew it was a standard question. She started perusing the thing again from the beginning. A minute or two later, she poked a page.

“Ah, here it is. And your answer is blank.”

“So the person just skipped over it. They just skipped it!”

“It appears so. Do you want to answer it now?” She took out her pen.

“Yes, and yes. I have experienced sexual assault three times. And severe trauma due to seclusion and restraints in many hospitals.” I looked at her. She was writing. “Tell me what you wrote.

“Experienced sexual assault. Has issues with seclusion and restraint.”

“NO! I said, it was severe trauma. I have PTSD, ask my doctor. Ask, I dunno, give me a test. I cry just talking about it. My heart rate goes up just thinking about it, even though it happened more than two years ago. It was trauma, and you cannot do it to me again!” She wrote something on the paper but didn’t read it to me. She just clicked her pen off and stood.

“Now you have your answer. I have things to do. Let’s go.” With that, and no discussion of what had taken place on Wednesday night, let alone in the ER, she hurried me out of the side office so she could go back to the nursing station to do some “real work.”

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I suppose there must have been some incidents of relative kindness at the Toot. There must have been exceptions to the Hartford Hospital IOL “coal dust standard.” But only Albert, a tech, stands out. Because they injected me with too much Ativan on Wednesday pm and I was discharged Friday noon, I had very little time between the ER’s monster dose and D3South’s equally large dose of Ativan-it-Away to retain much of anything but what stood out enough to stick, and really stick tight. Their puny kindnesses mostly did not, except for Albert.

On the other hand, the sheer meanness of the staff was astounding. I had a semi-meaningful interaction — though unpleasant  – in all that time with only one individual who was not programmed to speak with me. And even that started out with nastiness, though I admit it was sparked by something that was “my fault,” as you will see.

Friday morning I needed migraine meds and my 8am pills. I went to desk at 7:55 and asked for them. A nurse or tech or someone –I never knew and no one ever bothered to tell me who or what they were — lingering at the desk said that the med nurse somewhere in the back would get them. I wandered off, figuring it would take some time and she would bring them to me, which is what they did at every single place I have ever been. But no, by the time I thought about it again, realizing that she had never brought them, it was 8:45 and people were lined up for their 9:00am meds already. I signaled above them to the nurse at the med window that I had not gotten mine for 8:00am yet. She told me that of course not: I left the med station; why should she go after me? Then she indicated that I should get in line to be next…even though that meant stepping in front of someone else. Okay, so I got in line, and  – oh, I do not remember all that happened except that I became angrier and angrier with her, resenting her attitude. As a consequence, I did everything I could do to irritate her. She poured the meds at the computer, where I couldn’t see them, saying their names softly to herself so I asked to see the packaging. I didn’t trust her not to withhold or add something I didn’t want. Because I had asked for Imitex an hour before I sensed she would not include it. Well, lo and behold: No Imitrex! So I took the pills, but asked her for the Imitrex as well.

Ah, revenge time! “I will get the Imitrex at 9:00 am sharp, when it is due. That is 10 minutes from now. You can come back and wait in line then.” I just stood there, not budging. I would never stoop so low as to impugn a person’s person, but I probably let loose a few curses and most certainly raised my already angry voice a few decibels. Finally, speaking in a calm, respectful voice, a man whose name I learned was Albert came up to me asking in such a polite manner that I even looked him in the eye, to “please just lower your voice” so he could hear me tell him what the problem was.” Well, treated in such a fashion I understood he would wait for me to calm and not get angry back so I was able to take a few breaths and then make him understand what she was doing…He said, with the med nurse standing well within earshot, though I do not think he intended any manipulation, “It’s okay, don’t worry. It’s nearly nine, and I’m sure the med nurse will get your medication for you.” (I was sure of quite the opposite but harrumph! Well, what could that SOB, excuse me, DOS — daughter of a stud (med-nurse) do but give me the Imitrex now?) I might have crowed, but instead, thanks to Albert and in respect for him, I took it without a fuss and thanked him again.

This sort of treatment gives the lie to what so many providers – both individuals and insitutions — say about the goal of “empowering patients.” What bloviated BS! What they really want are not empowered patients but cowering patients, people too scared and drugged up to object or make trouble in the first place and then who continue to cower before the establishment MD’s power structures all the way to the last place.

 

My butt hurts from sitting slouched on a bed all day. I need a break. So I am going to post this and go outside in the cooling darkness of the Litchfield hills and drink the air. Since I have nothing I have to do here but write, I will post tomorrow about that single meaningful encounter I had while imprisoned at The Institute of Living. If I still feel it is worth writing about, which as I think about it, it may not be.

Oh, what the heck: Basically, it concerned an encounter with this female tech, a woman who in passing me in the hallway, the first time she had spoken to me so far as I knew, accused me of moral turpitude (not in those words), made a statement shaming me for my behavior on Friday morning at the medication window. What had I done?  By talking too loudly, I had made “the poor man behind [me]” cover his ears and point at his skull to communicate his displeasure. PLUS, I had made everyone wait a good 30 minutes…I knew the 30 minutes was an exaggeration, so I didn’t even touch that, but the shaming tactic got to me. I went back a few minutes later and said I wanted to speak with her. We went to a couple of lounge chairs in the hall and sat down.

“What precisely did I do that was morally wrong this morning?”

“Do you know you talked so loudly this morning that the poor little man behind you was covering his ears and pointing at his head?”

“So I should have talked more softly, but I do not have eyes in the  back of my head to see him. I could not know he was communicating by pointing at his head. It is not morally wrong not to have eyes in the back of your head, nor is it morally wrong to speak in a loud voice.”

She reiterated the case of “the poor little man behind you pointing at his head.” But I continued to press her on what was morally wrong because I didn’t have eyes to see behind me. Finally she granted that I could not help not seeing him and that it wasn’t actually a morally wrong thing to do, to yell or talk too loudly. At this point I said to her, nearly in tears because just having a calm conversation had taken such effort on my part, “Be careful what you say to someone on this unit you know nothing about. Words have power and you should use that power with care. You have NO idea how those words you spoke affected me, no possible idea…”

She gave me an intent look, almost a fearful one, as if afraid that — well, no, I don’t think she gave a damn whether or not she caused me any emotional harm. She no doubt despised me along with the rest of the nursing staff. But perhaps she suddenly appreciated how even her words were important and powerful, and carried weight and could do some good but could also do just as much psychological damage and maybe more sometimes than the loud voice that damaged mostly ear drums.

 

 

 

More Psychiatric Abuse in Mental Hospital and Emergency Room

Donnelly Building is #11. But we faced Maple Ave and couldn’t see the magnolia, or the oaks or copper beech that Olmstead planted…

Yes, this is hospital restraint and seclusion – it really happened like this at Middlesex Hospital in 2010 (I am just reprinting it here to reprise it for edification’s sake and because it is relevant.) In fact there were many more personnel and guards involved and more men…I just didn’t know how to draw a crowded scene at the time, so I made it simple!

I admit I was angry. I admit I was loud and irritable. I admit that I may have been perceived as “difficult.” But never once did I make a verbal or gestural threat or even so much as stand on the floor or approach anyone face to face. In fact, for three hours I did nothing but lie on a gurney, quietly, and try to sleep and remain calm, hoping to…But wait. You don’t know the half of it.

Well, if my energy holds out, let me start at the beginning. Except that I do not really recall the beginning, largely I suspect, due to our good friend, Ativan. However, this much I do know: my case manager came to my apartment five days ago after I called her in extremis, just wanting to talk. She offered to come over to see me, which she has done before and left me in better shape than I was when she came. I assented, though I had some doubts about it because she seemed a bit too concerned for my good. I knew I had a writer’s week planned up at Wisdom House again in the NW corner of the state starting this weekend and didn’t want her to push the panic button.

To make that part of the story shorter, push that bright purple button she and an associate did, once they came and found me in a mess, unable to assure them properly that I was not hearing voices telling me to burn myself. Now, my plans were in fact to burn myself somehow, depending on what the voices told me. They had already instructed me to burn my leg that evening. That was partly why I had called the case manager, because I knew I would follow through. I also knew that I could not keep it a secret if I did follow their instructions, which would have ended my vacation plans prontissimo.

But when that other LCSW went out into the hall to use her phone, I knew it was under false pretenses — she said she had to cancel an appointment of hers because she was visiting me but she was clearly lying, I just couldn’t do anything about it. Just as I suspected, she called 911 to summon the police and EMTs. When they came, I objected to going to the ER, but you know of course it was “Pamela, it’s the easy way or the hard way. You are going to the hospital no matter what…” Argh, the usual story.

Worst of all — since I still don’t know whether legally they really had a right to force me — once in the ambulance, when I stated quite clearly that I did not want to go to Hartford Hospital, and this was clearly and prominently stated in my Psychiatric Advance Directive (PAD) of which I had made sure they had a copy, they dispatched me there anyway.  When I screamed my objections from the back of the ambulance van they told me that the police had instructed that they could take away all of my rights with impunity. Oooh, I did not know what to do about this, but it put me in an evaporative fury. I simply had no power.  Disaster nearly followed, and new trauma most certainly did.

Once in the ER, I was taken directly to the so called “purple pod” — the psychiatric section, and shifted onto a gurney in a curtained-off cubicle, told to change into hospital garb, which I did under duress but before I was forcibly changed by the guards, as was the threat, and was told to lie down and be quiet. I did. I submitted to a physical by an APRN that took 15-30 seconds, after which she pronounced me physically sound, ready for a psychiatric interview. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. The room — the  purple pod — began to fill, and doctors and MSWs came and went and talked to people and passed by my cubicle, but none stopped or said a word. I remained silent, still hoping my semi-comatose behavior would bolster my case, earn me a ticket out of the ER without being hospitalized.

Then another woman, middle-edged, bent over from back pain, loudly asked to talk with a doctor, complaining, “I’m tired of waiting! My back hurts!” The response was that she would not get to see Dr So and So until she was sober and the alcohol was out of her system. She returned to her gurney for a time and then again was at the nurses’ station complaining of fatigue and wanting to have her interview so she could get on her way. Once again the same reply.

This jarred me out of my complacency. I grew irritated. Why were they making me wait? I had been there hours already and had not come in drunk or on drugs or anything like it. I had been quiet, submissive, and they just ignored me. Well, I dunno what happened next precisely, but I exploded (but in some sense in a controlled fashion, because I only got down off the gurney once, in order to use the restroom…) Some cropped-haired woman with an official look and a clipboard came by and I started rationally to ask her why I had not been seen yet, and she began an answer. Unfortunately I just barreled on about how I had been waiting hours and was not drunk and not high and, and, and…And well, it snowballed from there because of course nobody at the ER is professionally trained or for that matter paid well enough to care to learn or know how to calm an agitated person down without brutalizing them….This forever surprises me, since surely they must watch TV where such situations are frequently featured.

I take it back, or partly back. They claim to be professionals. They also, get this, several staff members of the ER claimed to have read my PAD, front to back, all 17 pages of it. They volunteered this information. Yet when push came to shove, when I became agitated, which has a PAD page all its own, what happened? Abuse par excellence. First they ganged up on me, a real no-no. Then they screamed back at me. Then they threatened me. One security guard (?nurse or ?aide) actually threatened to “4-point me” just for disturbing his purple pod.  As if doing so would quiet me!

“Oh, you dare put me in restraints,” I threatened, “and I will have your ass so fast you won’t know what hit you. Middlesex Hospital tried that and now they are facing JCAHO and the DOJ so just you watch your step!!!!!” He said nothing more about four-point restraints, I can tell you that. BUT, BUT, BUT… they had other retaliatory measures in store for me, because soon thereafter a whole panoply of guards and nurses came barreling into my cubicle and rolled my gurney headlong into a secure room (soundproof and with a door that locked, a guard assured me). There while a female nurse attempted to inject my upper left arm with three drugs, two of which were on my PAD’s “forbidden drugs” list, and others restrained me, two guards viciously compressed my neck. They squeezed down hard especially on the right side, cutting off the blood supply to my jugular and carotid arteries. I knew this, I felt my eyes pop, felt blackness in my head approach. I tried to alert the nurse injecting me, could barely burble through hard-compressed lips, “I can’t breathe!” which was the only thing at the time I could think of that she would pay attention to.  That they were choking me was a concept that simply didn’t form in my brain…Tough luck. She just ignored them and me and said, “You’re all right…”

I jerked away from her then, trying to get free from the guards. The nurse yelled at me because I dislodged her needle and started bleeding. But the guards only squeezed down harder, tightening their strangulation grip. I felt certain they really were going to kill me. Then the guard closest to my right ear said something along the lines of, “That will teach you about suing a hospital and getting JCAHO involved…” I feel like I have his words verbatim, but maybe I only recall the gist of them. Whatever he actually said,  he clearly harbored enormous resentment about my complaint against Middlesex Hospital and the involvement of the Joint Commission and possibly the DOJ.

When they were through brutalizing me, the guard finally unclenched his fingers from my neck and despite my accusations, they all rushed out of the room, closing the door behind them so no one could hear me. I lay back, stunned, understanding then just how people die during restraint episodes. How close I came to being one of those statistics I can’t venture to guess. “Unfortunate ‘accidents’ happen and nobody is to blame, really, it just happens…” I imagined them saying to my family and friends. At the time it felt like an extremely close call. I knew one thing: what those guards intended, and they intended to hurt me. Perhaps in their angry zeal they would have killed me. They were thugs. They were coarse, vulgar men who had likely been judged unfit for the police academy but still wanted to wear a uniform, have authority and to carry weapons and beat people up. Understanding this and understanding just how much danger I was in was extraordinarily frightening. I do not recall anything else. I must have fallen asleep despite my terror, subdued by the cocktail of drugs I had been given.

The next thing I knew,  they were wheeling me onto a psych floor at the Institute of Living, the psychiatric hospital associated with Hartford Hospital. This Once World-Renowned Retreat for the Rich and Famous closed its doors years ago,  re-opening with the same name but as part of the city hospital. It now caters largely to Medicare and Medicaid patients like me, which is a 180° reversal. Clearly the staff, at least on the floor where they placed me, care about as much about their patients as their meager salaries/wages pay them to. Which from my fairly minimal (I have been there three times, for brief and uniformly miserable stays) but horrendous experience on Donnelly 3 South at any rate tells me cannot be more than a pittance. Either they are paid too little to give a damn about their jobs, or they are mostly all of them jaded, burned out, control freaks. At a minimum it seems they just want a cushy job and a quiet unit with untroubling patients, drugged to the hilt so they will have no problems to deal with, nothing that a seclusion room and IM meds in the butt cannot handle.

They were not prepared for me, not prepared for someone who had nearly been killed in the ER, one, and two, who really did not want to be in the hospital, let alone in their hospital. I was ornery, bitchy, and, to the maximum possible, was not ready to obey their pissant commands. No I was not. I was a human being, a very intelligent human being whatever else was going on, and they were not treating me with dignity or respect, so I would treat them much the same, or worse…Well, that won me a lot of friends, I can tell you, NOT.

They hated me at Donnelly 3 South, they really did. They despised me and made these feelings very clear, very clear indeed, retaliating and punishing me at every opportunity. It would have been, might could have been funny to watch these so-called professional nurses and psychiatric staff behaving so badly, so much like children run-amuck, they were that out-of-control, had I not been so vulnerable and so very much in their power.

But when it came time to force me into a “side room” and try to keep me from leaving it, you better believe they didn’t have an easy target in me. After my experiences in Middlesex and Manchester Hospitals, I have schooled myself on my rights, all my rights vis a vis restraints and seclusion.  And you know that I let them know in no uncertain terms what the Connecticut statutes are, how seclusion is defined and when a restraint is taking place. How they hated me for this, and hated, oh, they –you know, I really have no word strong enough for the look of razorblades in their eyes when I pointed out that they were not following the most recent Standards of Nursing Care, or worse, how Natchaug Hospital nurses do things better, or how they were using seclusion and restraint when they had no “statutory right” to do so. I think the words “statutory right” both meant nothing – “what the heck is a statute anyway?” I could feel some thinking — and everything to them, and was impressive and frightening because of this. In any event, that look of utter negativity went right through me, as if they wanted to stab my eyeballs with an ice-pick.

Needless to say, however, they managed to use seclusion and restraint on me despite my protests. When I got too noisy for them instead of trying de-escalation techniques of any sort, they proceeded first to lead me into and then to push me back to a so-called “side-room.” When I got out, they forced me bodily pushed me back inside, and closed the door against my protests and verbal preferences, vocalized clearly,  to go to the “least restrictive environment” of my bedroom to calm down. That constituted a restraint, and when they would not let me leave that room, it became, as many of my readers will know, by definition a seclusion. Then, when they forcibly held me down for an injection of the three drugs that interact badly in me, and which I had requested specifically not be given to me (alternatives were suggested in my PAD), they abrogated every right I asserted. That in itself constituted a restraint without legal justification, especially since I was nearly sleeping by the time they managed to get the injection ready and no longer even agitated. They had to physically attack me in order to RE-agitate me, to justify giving me a stat dose at all. They kept me in that “side room” guarded by someone all night.

As I freely admit, I was horrible to them, a witch, a bitch, a harridan, but they never once behaved with any professionalism, or tried any of the calming, de-escalation strategies that I suggested in my Psychiatric Advance Directive. Oh, they had a wonderful comfort room, pretty much perfect, but for the lack of a padded floor and muralled wall. But I myself had to ask to use it; it isn’t as if they offered the use of it or suggested that I return to it when agitated. In fact, they seemed pretty cagey about it, acted as if I might possibly want to “over use it” and said I could stay for a “little while.” And when the radio broke down, who gave a damn enough to find one that worked when I returned the broken one, or to get me a weighted blanket when I wanted one. I sat in the comfort room’s therapy chair — arranged backwards so you couldn’t use it to rock yourself by pressing your feet against the wall the way it is supposed to be used! Because it was cold in there (yeah, the other big problem) I asked for a blanket, the aide/tech who found me one walked partially into the room and then threw it at me! Not casually for me to catch, mind you, but at me. As if I weren’t worth the time, trouble, or effort for him to hand it to me. I don’t know what he was thinking, or not thinking, but it seemed clear that at least at that moment he didn’t give a damn about his job. Or perhaps he was sending me a message about personal dislike, which would have been incredibly unprofessional, but what can I say? It has happened before…What a soulless bastard.

If anyone out there reading this is a psych tech or nurse or employee at a psych unit or institution, you should know or must learn that matters like the blanket business, however puny they seem, do matter, they matter a lot. Never at Natchaug Hospital would anyone, tech or nurse or even attentive housekeeper dream of throwing a blanket at a patient, not in bed or in a chair or a therapy chair. No one would throw anything at a patient, not even a tissue, and most certainly not in anger or a fit of pique. Not even in momentary thoughtlessness. No, if a patient needed or wanted a blanket at Natchaug Hospital, it would be gotten, often warm from the drier, opened up and carefully draped just so over the patient’s body.

This has a huge effect and makes a massive difference largely because it is indicative of the fact that Natchaug actually has a philosophy they work with and behave according to, not one of words they just push through their teeth and get lipstick stains on. Almost always at Natchaug the staff member would cover the patient and only leave the room after making sure that same patient was comfortable. The blanket-bringer would know or have been carefully tutored that the job description included an attitude of wanting patients to be happy and to get well because Natchaug believes a troubled person can only get well when well taken care of.

You’d think, and certainly would want each and every psychiatric hospital to operate on such humane and compassionate principles, wouldn’t you? Alas, at least in Connecticut, Natchaug Hospital in Willimantic is definitely the Hope Diamond exception to what remains very much a charcoal rule. Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living? I wouldn’t rate it much above coal dust.

To be continued…