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Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Welp, I’m back from my break. Feast your eyes to the right of this blog, after 3 months over-thinking how to set it up we now have a world of VODPOD, and I think it’s going to help. I’m just building the library now but once it holds a hundred or so clips will find a way to order the narrative so we can get lost for a day or two in there.

So what’s new? I took off a few weeks because I’ve been animated by a real serious project that I didn’t want to jinx by blogging about and since this project is uppermost in my mind found I couldn’t blog about anything until I feel secure it’s going to work out. I feel secure it’s going to work out and will explain everything tomorrow but as a tease will just share that due to this new and mysterious activity I am barred from employment at the United States Department of Justice. Of course since I live on Social Security and won’t be seeking fulltime employment any time soon, it’s only a symbolic gesture, but I am very flattered, Mr. Inspector General and will do my utmost to earn the distinction on your federal no-hire shit list. La!

I have to run now, iron my hat and polish my shoes so I can look victorious tomorrow during my special secret activity mission serving Amerikkka, but this Obama video making the news sure tickled me and I wanted to highlight the psychological two cents of his snarkiliciously broad and populist message. La la!

His top economic advisor

said the other day that

Americans should stop complaining; they’ve become a nation of whiners.

That all these

economic

problems everybody’s talkin about is just a

mental

recession.

And if you would just change your mind

everything’d be okay!

Somebody’s been laid off

Their plant’s closed or gone to

Mexico or China?

Change your mind!

It’s all good!

…True quote!!!

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Our officials do nothing while a flood of ink spills about the known atrocities taking place in Texas MHMR residential facilities. From my initial link three weeks ago on 800 disciplinary actions taken against Texas state schools, to the latest coverage of “choke holds, headlocks, torture, rape and death” in psych hospitals, perhaps our governor would like to revise his blithe summation that “the state is doing its job.” Meanwhile, accounts from the reality-based community beg to differ:

United Press International: Abuse Common in Texas Mental Hospitals.

Psych Central: Texas Mental Hospitals: A Haven for Abuse.

Furious Seasons: Article Exposes Injuries, Death at Texas Psych Hospital.

New York Times: Firings at Mental Hospitals Over Abuse.

Reason: One Flew Over the Lone Star State.

Rad Geek (must read): Texas Psychoprisons.

The Trouble With Spikol: Happy happy joy joy…uh…maybe not.

Houston Press: Mental Anguish at Texas West Oaks Hospital.

Reeves Law Blog: TX Psychiatric Patients Suffer Abuse, Neglect.

Hymes: Acceptance and Expectation of Abuse and Neglect in State Hospitals Are a Large Part of the Problem.

Texas Observer: Systemic Neglect.

Dallas News: Reports Show Systemic Abuse at Texas’ Psychiatric Hospitals.

Systemic is the operative word, systemic tells us the apple is rotten to the core, overall, built in, affecting an entire system, making it untenable in its totality. Documented systemic abuse, requiring swift and decisive action and impossible to ignore. You would think so. Who among us could ignore these published findings but the paid parasites who earn their professional cred by providing oversight of the system in question? The entities that are charged with getting hysterical over these facts will of course ignore them, and because that’s not surprising makes it no less unbearable. If you have any doubt that’s just what they’re doing, scour a few websites, and wait for the blackout:

Department of Aging and Disability Services.

Texas Department of State Health Services.

Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health Transformation. (pdf of May 6th agenda).

Texas Health and Human Services: May 12th “Stakeholder” hearing agenda.

Every front-page News brief at all 40 Community Psychiatric Centers, example: Austin-Travis County Mental Health Mental Retardation Center.

Blackout, zip, zero, nada, not a word of acknowledgment from the mental health overlords charged with public accountability. Pretend it’s not happening, maybe the public won’t notice. 135 news articles. What’s that if not delusional? A complete break with consensual reality, there is a place to put people like that.

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An action alert from Dr. John Breeding about the fifth annual Roky Erickson Psychedelic Ice Cream Social Celebrating Electroshock Survivors.

As someone who has been out of the closet in love with Robyn Hitchcock for half my life, it blew my mind to see his stand-up appearance midway through the video; now all his songs and my devotion make so much more sense. Michelle Shocked appears, as does REM’s Peter Buck, JT Van Zandt, and Roky his own self closes out with the 13th Floor Elevators classic You’re Gonna Miss Me. Visitor Robyn once called Austin the city of groovers, one look at this crowd will tell you why we live here.

You can vote everyday, by following these simple steps, or be non-linear and play around the site til you figure it out, but if you can take a minute to vote, throw us some love.

Background, in excerpts, by the honorable and rocking Dr. John Breeding:

In the last two years, our Coalition for the Abolition of Electroshock in Texas was very active, carrying on an initiative in Austin to challenge the use of electroshock at our area’s most prolific shock hospital, Seton Shoal Creek. As described on our website, we carried on with them quite a bit, including direct interaction with the hospital board and medical director, a series of protest rallies at the hospital, a resolution from the Texas legislature, and a hearing on electroshock with the Austin City Council.

In March 2007, we had a magnificent, unprecedented event–a concert featuring a number of terrific musicians and artists, a number of whom were also shock survivors now joining forces to call for a stop to this horrific procedure.

Now our own fantastic videographer, Mary Luker, known professionally as Mary Marvel, has created a short (20 minutes) documentary of our event. It is terrific, and we intend to use it to promote our effort to abolish electroshock, and to create safe haven for artists, who all too often suffer this horrific assault.

In support of our cause, Mary Marvel has submitted her documentary to an internet contest called Famecast. In order to have the greatest impact, we want to win this contest. In order to win, we need you to get on board and enjoy a ride, bringing music and a big message –END OF SHOCK– to the world.

1. Register on FAMECAST as a Voter or Fanatic. Click where it says ” The Audience Votes”
2. Click here to view our documentary
3. Click the “Video” tab to the right of the movie
4. Click the “Vote for me in the Open Round” link
5. Click the “Vote” button at the top right hand corner of the video

Steps 2 will take you to see our video. Steps 1, 3, 4, and 5 are necessary to vote.

P/S: Here is my favorite album by Robyn Hitchcock, this my favorite Soft Boys release, and this could be the most moving ode ever to hero worship.

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I went to 2 policy meetings today, which usually leads to the cussing, not-safe-for-work diatribe you’ve come to expect following these forays into the lions den. But institutional mental health is being re-organized in Texas, on the local, state and federal levels, and some demonstrable, incremental changes have happened since just last month, that appear to be good faith efforts, and maybe a start.

Both groups are grappling with the lack of consumer involvement. On the local level MHMR’s director of the Consumer Council has some proactive and tolerable measures underway, one includes inviting a speaker to Austin who runs a CSX peer operation in San Antonio. He didn’t describe her that way in the meeting, but whatever, I’ve seen her website and heard her testify and CSX is what she does. This new director is the ex-NAMI player I’ve been ranting about, for taking over the organization that used to be run by one of us. I was surprised to hear his plans to lobby for a new law to expunge criminal records of those arrested with mental illness and applaud these efforts, but that’s just me, progress, not perfection, and truth be told, I want to applaud.

But the real laughs came out of the next meeting across town, the SAMHSA Transformation Workgroup. It’s a five-year federal grant, the entire first year was devoted to planning, and they’re just now beginning to deal with the SAMHSA mandates and hammer out policy based on that consensus statement of recovery. The presenter said they are having real problems with all the rules about “consumer-driven” this, and “consumer-driven” that, and the term itself is creating profound challenges for policy-makers. Seems the folks having the most problems with it are psychiatrists, who are in the stage of Sputtering Disbelief, which I myself regard as an amusing/maddening and altogether necessary pre-verbal, or stage “one” of a long and stimulating journey toward their personal and overdue self-transformation.

There’s something to be said for the gobsmacking of your opposition. They really cannot get their heads around this idea of “giving the keys to the consumer”, and I likened the blustering befuddlement of the pdocs to an entire world of I can has lolcats.

lolcats - there has been glitch in da maytrix

We can use this. They can stumble around in shock and dismay while we implement the outwitting. Sputtering disbelief means they have yet to invent their corruptive framing. They will attempt to bastardize the Consensus model with the mental health version of Rovian talking points, just as they twisted stigma by ignoring our warnings about the biopsych model leading to more, not less discrimination, as they insisted it would. They turn themselves inside out to avoid saying what they really think, and use smoke and mirrors to turn black into white, but by staying a step ahead and anticipating the reaction to come when we talk about using alternatives to neuroleptics — and if it seems they’ve treated us like children before, wait til they hear what it is consumers are holding back — but we know they will argue from authority, use the stock fear, intimidation, pity and discounting by status, because that’s all they have. They are not ready for this and don’t know how to DO equality, and all that Transformation commands them to learn. So let them flail askance, we’re focused on constructing our own rhetorical framework, with Laingian talking points and naming the horrified disbelief as evidence of the power-grubbing it is, even though the feds themselves are telling them the old days are over, and the time is now to become one with the mandate.

Everyone seems to agree the biggest problem in TX is lack of consumer input, and SAMHSA just gave the Transformation team a grant to promote peer-based consumer support and participation. They have to bring us in. Someone mentioned the possibility of one-on-one dinners between consumers and providers, and said this is what they’re going to have to do, that it will come to this OMG, sitting down at a table, breaking bread, person to person, now guess which one is Carl Rogers?

But hold that thought. A family member in the workgroup gave a teary-eyed presentation on a D.C. conference he attended with interested parties. Of course I was predisposed to dislike the family advocate, who stood up and turned to his colleagues and said what he learned at that conference was

“We do not speak for the consumer.”

He described conversations he had with folks who have been so harmed by the mental health system that they call themselves survivors, and he learned that activists have been arrested and put in jail for demonstrating in front of mental hospitals, and that is a violation of their civil rights. He said stigma is the main barrier to recovery and that stigma is generated by us, in the mental health system, our programs and policies and language is filled with prejudice and stigma, and it serves us in ways we have to examine and eradicate. We do not lead the consumer, he said, we work with them in partnership, with the consumer in senior position. We are going to have to get used to this, these are new and serious ideas, and it is going to involve a change of heart. The real goal of transformation is that it happen with the policymakers, and he said he felt this process of transformation stirring in himself while in dialogue with the survivors. And that he was grateful to them most because they treated him like an equal.

I had to leave then to absorb the moment but I gave written remarks underscoring all that, almost verbatim, which I had written in advance of his speech, and reminded the Workgroup that consumer-driven recovery means inclusion of trauma-informed psychological services for those of us who reject the medical model of mental illness. Put that in your pipe and kthxbai.

So I’ve been sitting here wondering if hell’s freezing over or I’ve gone soft. Either way, that’s the idea.

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I’m scheduled to attend a commission on human rights meeting in a few hours but can’t sleep, thinking. All my friends are laughing at me up in heaven; I’ve been charged with ineptitude, reformist tendencies, unpunkrock hamfisted good will. I see them laughing, and hear them singing, there’s always someone to praaaaaaay for, and believe me I will.

I’ll say this again about Rebecca Riley, who was not my friend, but is going into the pantheon. I’ve read a number of blog posts about the 60 minutes interview, circle jerks of blighted ignorance and outright defamation. You think by “defamation” I’m referring to Katie Couric, huh. Think harder.

John McNAMI:

For years, parents of kids with bipolar have been fighting battles reminiscent of the first generation of NAMI parents. Back in the bad old days, psychiatrists blamed schizophrenia on bad parenting…

Parents of bipolar kids have been getting the same treatment. Recently, thanks to books such as “The Bipolar Child,” and the establishment of organizations such as the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, parents have been able to make headway with their clinicians and the school system.

Such a joy to behold our nation’s lovingkindness babyshakers making headway. And every journalist (cough) netroots blogger who exploits this atrocity (look it up) for their unrelated healthcare political agenda can cancel her out, ignore the inconvenient truth in evidence, and live with that however the hell you live with that, but you don’t get to choose the facts. Facts? What are facts, really, but just more of the same old same old, garden variety fodder for militant antipsychiatry hippies. Facts, distortions, speculations (sigh), if only there was some way to get to the bottom of what went on in that child’s brain house. The Google you say? First hit the last month on Google? Go straight to heck, boys.

A chronology of involvement by the state Department of Social Services with the family of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley.

December 2002: DSS receives a complaint that the Rileys’ oldest child had been neglected while the family was living in Springfield. DSS substantiates the complaint and opens a file on the family.

June 2005: DSS investigates allegations that Michael Riley had sexually abused Carolyn Riley’s 13-year-old daughter from another relationship and refers case to Norfolk district attorney’s office. DSS also investigates whether Carolyn Riley had neglected the couple’s three children.

June 2006: The oldest child, an 11-year-old boy, is taken to the hospital by ambulance. DSS is assured by doctors and neurologists that he was not abused or neglected.

June 2006: A therapist working with Rebecca and her 6-year-old sister files a complaint with DSS after Rebecca’s 6-year-old sister said during a home visit that Michael Riley had hit her. DSS had already investigated and did not substantiate the report.

July 2006: The therapist files a second complaint with DSS, saying that during another home visit that Carolyn Riley appeared drugged and pointed out a puddle of urine where Rebecca had wet the rug while napping. DSS says doctors treating the Riley family say the mother and children are receiving appropriate medication.

October 2006: DSS investigates and substantiates reports from relatives that Michael Riley grabbed his son by the neck and slammed his head against a car window. Carolyn Riley seeks a restraining order.

November 2006: DSS meets in the agency’s Weymouth office with Carolyn Riley, who says she plans to move to Hull and assures them the restraining order against her husband is still active.

Dec. 13, 2006: Rebecca Riley is found dead on her parents’ bedroom floor. An autopsy later indicates she was poisoned by prescription medicine. DSS removes her siblings and places them in foster care.

Related coverage:

Mass. DSS dropped investigation of concerns about 4-year-old.
Psychiatrist to suspend practice; denies wrongdoing.

SOURCE: State Department of Social Services, State Police.

Sweet dreams.

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For the last few years I’ve been holding off on buying Nick Cave’s double-CD Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus until I do something sufficiently awful that I don’t have to but probably should if I’m to get along with my better self. I’ve met my share of challenges since the CD came out, and each time decided I hadn’t endured enough hardship to justify the purchase.

Just like doing something, holding back on doing something creates its own unique set of memories. I remember the night I felt like offing myself but realized I hadn’t heard the CD yet, and the day I quit posting at the lovely Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds message board because I couldn’t keep from reading the threads praising its wonders. Welp, it’s playing right now and Oh Momma, the opening track itself was worth the wait.

Friday I attended a mental health strategic planning session where no one knew I was among the same fucks who declined my participation on the state citizens planning committee last month, but that was the extent of my secret shits and giggles since they took all of 90 minutes to set policy back fifty years.

Proposals: Fingerprint consumers who participate in Assertive Community Treatment. Take the word “stigma” out of the mission statement. Scrap all pretense of a Biopsychosocial framework.

Texas DSHS calls for a transition to the medical model within services. Bio. Move everything but ACT from Behavioral Health to Medical Services. Bio. Place Crisis Service directly under the Medical Director. Bio. Goddamn the next person who uses the word biopsychosocial with a straight face, they are either lying or sick with the kool-aid. Biopsychosocial is a propaganda term used to appease people who advocate the trauma model of mental illness and recovery. Don’t look for these people, evidently there are no advocates anymore, only “advocates”. Seeing the Chairman use finger scare quotes while invoking the term “advocates” was chilling.

So, the redesign boils down to erasure of stigma, advocacy, trauma, and all is biology. From then on all I could think was this is only discourse, they’re framing their discourse, I have to learn about how to frame mine, and discourse is free and getting to the Lyre of Orpheus.

Our consumer run drop in center is called the SHAC for Self-Help and Advocacy Center. They took our consumer run drop in SHAC away from the clueful Austin Mental Health Consumers Org. and hired the former director of NAMI to take over running the place. Thursday the Board will visit the SHAC to discuss this redesign plan with psychiatric service users. I get to talk at this one and believe me I will.

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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.

~~~

via Spikol

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