A man rapes a woman, her resulting PTSD is misdiagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder.
Women who have been raped are traumatized and eligible for the non-punishing dx of PTSD, which sits on AXIS I of treatable mental illness.
BPD is an AXIS II diagnosis, the AXIS referring to disorders of the personality, that are by definition lifelong and untreatable. What this means is you will never put it behind you:
Fran Lyon is due to give birth to her first child – a daughter she has already named Molly – on January 3. But the prospect, far from being one of joyous anticipation, fills her with a dread that keeps her awake at night.
…For within 30 minutes of birth, barring any medical complications, Molly will be handed by doctors to social workers. They have instructions to take away Fran’s newborn baby and place her in foster care.
The 22-year-old will then be transferred from the maternity wing to a gynaecological ward, because Northumberland Council has decided that Fran – who has never harmed anyone in her life – is potentially a risk to other mothers and their babies.
Fran has no idea if she will be able to touch her baby, even for a minute, before leaving hospital alone, or if she will ever get her daughter back. Her biggest fear is that she won’t, and that Molly will be put up for adoption.
‘It is incredibly upsetting not knowing if I will be allowed even to hold my baby,’ says Fran, a charity worker. ‘Until social services became involved in my life, I was having a normal pregnancy and was full of excitement.’
…Fran is an intelligent and articulate woman. She has nine A- starred GCSEs, five grade A A-levels and is in the third year of a neuroscience degree at Edinburgh University – which she is completing at home in Hexham, Northumberland.
However, what concerns Hexham Children’s Services, which is part of Northumberland Council, is Fran’s medical history.
Having had a difficult relationship with her parents, who are teachers in good state schools, from the age of 15, she started selfharming. Fran spent three years – on and off – in psychiatric hospitals.
Her problems appear to have begun when she was raped by an acquaintance at the age of 14. Diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, she was discharged from a therapeutic facility in 2002, where she had spent 13 months, and spent nine months as an outpatient.
Today, she needs no medication and, according to her former psychiatrist, Dr Stella Newrith, ‘has made a significant recovery to the point where her difficulties are indistinguishable from those of much of the general population’.
In a letter to Northumberland Council, Dr Newrith, who treated Fran for a year when she was 16 and has known her for many years, stated: ‘There has never been any clinical evidence to suggest that Fran would put herself or others at risk, and there is certainly no evidence to suggest she would put a child at risk of emotional, physical or sexual harm.’
…Yet on August 16, a child protection case conference recommended that Fran’s baby should be taken away at birth – a decision based in part on the contents of a letter from consultant paediatrician Dr Martin Ward Platt, who has never met Fran and could not be present at the meeting.
In his letter, Dr Ward Platt states that ‘even in the absence of psychological assessment, if the professionals were concerned on the evidence available that [this woman] probably does fabricate or induce illness, there would be no option but to put the baby into foster care at birth pending a post-natal forensic psychological assessment’.
However, he warned that it was necessary first to establish as far as possible whether or not Fran does suffer from this illness – something Fran claims they have failed to do.
Fran has never been diagnosed with this condition, yet she has nevertheless been deemed by Northumberland Council as someone likely to suffer from Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, a controversial and unproven condition in which a parent – usually the mother – makes up or induces an illness in her child to draw attention to herself.
…Despite her own troubled past, Fran Lyon is convinced she can be a good parent, and is desperate to prove that. From the start, she has been open and honest with social workers about her medical history, but she feels this has been used against her.
…The catalyst for her severe mental health problems was, she says, the rape she suffered when she was 14.
…When Fran reported the rape, he was interviewed by police. Three more women claiming they, too, had been attacked came forward and agreed to testify against him. However, in 2001 the man killed himself before the Crown Prosecution Service could decide whether to proceed.
‘After the rape, I became clinically depressed,’ says Fran. ‘I lost a huge amount of weight and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after trying to kill myself with an overdose of tablets. It wasn’t a cry for help; I wanted to die because of what he had done to me.’
She spent the next three years, on and off, in residential psychiatric hospitals in Oxford, Nottingham and London after being diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, in her case characterised by self-harming, instability and suicidal tendencies.
At the same time, she worked for two mental health charities, Borderline and Personality Plus. It was through that job, two years ago, that she met the man who is the father of Molly.
…Fran’s case is far from unusual. Two thousands babies under one year old were taken from their parents last year by social services – three times the number ten years ago.
…Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, chairman of the Justice for Families campaign group:
…’It is estimated that 97 per cent of babies taken away from their mothers at birth, on the basis that the mothers are “capable of emotional abuse”, are never returned to them – and that is simply scandalous.
‘What does Fran’s case tell us? That no woman who has been raped or had mental health problems can be allowed to have a baby, even years later?
‘What could be more traumatic than for a mother to have her baby taken away at birth? It’s monstrous. That, in itself, can cause mental health problems, which is then used by social services against the mother as a reason not to return the baby. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
‘There has been a massive increase in younger babies being taken into care, before there is even any evidence of harm – and you have to ask why that is.’
No one in the article asks if the labeling of this woman with BPD enabled the horrible injustice that she’s now dealing with. Of course she could hurt the baby (“attention-seeking”: BPD criterion) , of course she might very well have Munchausen’s, for all we know she could be a supernatural witch, because that’s a woman with BPD is!
Like many so labeled, this troubled woman accepted the BPD dx without knowing its implications, she went on to work in settings that focus on borderline PD, thus making herself a target for the projections the stigma generates in the sexist mental health system. None of this is in the least her fault, but someone needs to make the connection. Labeling women BPD is the first step to calling open season on them.
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