Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘We Love Women’ Category

2009alison_des_forges

The death of Alison Des Forges on flight 3407 last week is a terrible loss to all of us, the whole wide world. She was 66 and working til the day she died. It feels close to me since I only discovered her last year, but I read her daily for months and just knowing she is in the world has made it a little better since then. Now she’s dead and I need to say something but don’t have the words to do it justice. This is a blog and links are sufficient so I’ll go that route, but just have to say god bless her work and goddamn the world that created a need for it.

Huffington/Common Dreams: A Heroine for Human Rights.

Human Rights Watch: “…the epitome of the human rights activist”

Democracy Now! Interview with HRW Executive Director and video clips.

Slate: What Are They So Scared of? I’m Just a Little Old Lady.”

She was banned from her beloved Rwanda last year for insisting the Kagame government account for war crimes, scorned the forgiveness & reconciliation policy as empty therapeutics,  was the first to call the massacres a genocide and wrote the definitive text, testified 11 times before the International Criminal Tribunal, and when the MacArthur Foundation recognized her with a “genius grant” she tried to give the money back. I’m struck that each one of these sentences could flesh out a book, but she also bargained for her own life with drunken militias at roadblocks, buried scores of nameless dead while saving countless others, and saw the genocide looming well before anyone else and pleaded with Washington to take action. About that she gives an unforgettable account of a visit at the State Department with Pru Bushnell, who would herself become utterly thwarted by the Clinton administration:

It was the very first meeting — perhaps it was the meeting after that. But I do remember a meeting where we were all sitting together there, four or five of us. She had a staff person with her. It happened that we were all women, and perhaps because we were all women, we weren’t afraid to cry. So we talked about the situation. I remember we then all cried, all of us. Then Pru took out her box of Kleenex and passed it around. We all blew our noses and she said, “OK, now what are we going to do next?” (via)

We all know how that turned out. But it took Alison Des Forges to make what’s rightly considered Biblical sense of it.  Human Rights Watch has an active tribute page with hundreds of very moving comments in honor of her legacy, though my own favorite comes from the New Yorker: Apparently, anything Des Forges did that was connected with Rwanda, she did with all her might. And she managed to do it without the self-righteous territoriality that is the occupational vice of human-rights experts. Her attachment to the country and its people seemed neither saintly nor professional, but entirely human.</em>

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

She shouts for a reckoning with entire mouth and unspoilt heart. My friend Poodle (“Ursula”) from Christchurch NZ declares her joy, in love with these times. (rule for radicals: that’s why she’s a teacher and you’re not)

so thats me in the corner-thats me over there–was a hard arse interview 2 do-my dyslexia gets in the way some-times-just bear with it and it will show its beauty

Living With the Scars of Abuse

by KIM THOMAS
Source: Press, The Christchurch, New Zealand
Posted on: Wednesday, 1 October 2008, 15:00 CDT

New Zealand’s mental health system has a dark history, with hundreds of former patients alleging abuse in state hospitals. Kim Thomas tells the story of one woman who suffered abuse and explores what former patients are doing to try and take back their lives.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Ursula spent her 22nd birthday huddling near naked in the corner of a bare room at Christchurch’s Sunnyside Hospital.

She was incarcerated at the now defunct mental-health hospital for slicing her arms from wrist to armpit with razors.

During her year-long stay at Sunnyside, Ursula (not her real name) was abused and humiliated.

For at least two months she was housed in an isolation room where she was stripped, sometimes by male nurses, and dressed in a thick woollen smock as punishment for her rowdy behaviour.

Her underpants and bra were taken from her and she was forced to use a pot as her toilet, in a room visible to staff and other patients.

More than 20 years later the scars of Ursula’s Sunnyside experience are still as visible as the razor marks lacing her arms. She is not alone.

Scores of former Sunnyside patients have disclosed abuse during their stay at the Gothic-style institution.

Nationwide, about 300 former patients claim abuse in mental hospitals during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Many were sent to psychiatric institutions because of behavioural difficulties but then treated as if they had serious psychiatric illnesses. Some were as young as eight.

Allegations include physical and sexual abuse, long periods of solitary confinement and the use of electro-convulsive (electric shock) therapy (ECT) as punishment.

In 2004, Attorney-General Margaret Wilson announced the establishment of a confidential forum where former patients, their families and hospital staff could tell their stories.

It recently announced a new forum, called the Listening and Assistance Service, for people who allege abuse or neglect during their time in state care in the health, child welfare or residential special education sector before 1992.

Justice and compensation is also being pursued in the law courts.

Wellington lawyer Sonia Cooper represents about 200 of 300 former psychiatric patients, including Ursula, seeking compensation for abuse.

They filed their first claims for compensation in 2004 but the matter remains unresolved. Cooper says she tried to negotiate with the Government out of court but failed.

In the latest chapter of this long running legal process, the Court of Appeal recently passed a judgment saying the Government had to prove that the actions former patients say was abuse was actually treatment, Cooper says.

“We want an acknowledgement that this abuse happened and an apology. If the Crown had been willing to deal with this out of the courts we wouldn’t be pursuing legal action,” Cooper says.

The Government has already made one large settlement to former psychiatric patients; in 2001, 183 former patients of Lake Alice’s adolescent unit received an apology and a share of $10.7 million compensation for claims including receiving ECT and injections as punishment, sexual abuse, ECT on the genitals in several cases, and one of being locked in a cage with a deranged adult.

About 240 civil cases are still pending.

A Crown Law office spokeswoman says it is reading the very complicated Crown Law judgement to decide what steps to take next.

Ursula says she would be dead had she stayed longer in Sunnyside. She sought legal counsel and had herself checked out of the hospital.

Ursula has a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. She says 20 years ago the disorder was poorly understood.

As a result, treatment for her self-harm and erratic behaviour involved being put into an isolation cell as punishment. Good behaviour was rewarded with treats such as winning her underwear back.

For a sexual abuse victim such as Ursula, being stripped was the ultimate in humiliation.

“I saw it as an extension of the brutality I had already had forced on me.”

She says she cannot believe the way people such as herself were treated in an environment that was supposed to be therapeutic.

Sunnyside was demolished last year. But even after its demise it holds a significant and sinister place in Christchurch’s collective conscience.

Christchurch theatre director Tony McCaffrey has recently secured Creative New Zealand funding to develop a play based on the goings on in the former mental-health hospital, which he hopes to open the stage curtains on next year.

As part of his research McCaffrey visited the ruins of the old hospital and pored over patient log books and photographs.

He also interviewed former nurses, superintendents and patients.

“I believe it’s important to acknowledge the huge role Sunnyside played in Christchurch’s history and craft a memorial to that,” McCaffrey says.

“Since I started this project almost everyone I talk to has some connection to the place, whether they knew someone who worked there or stayed there. Everyone has a story.”

McCaffrey says Sunnyside housed people from all walks of life and the way they were treated is an insight into the community’s psyche over the past century.

Sunnyside’s history also provides a window into the dark history of Christchurch because of some of the inhumane acts that happened there.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements said abuse that occurred in institutions is a crying shame.

She says many staff from those times still feel ill at the things that went on.

However, they were often only doing what they were told or what was best practice at the time, Clements says. In time, people will probably look back at certain practices which occur in the mental health sector now, such as electric shock therapy, and condemn them as cruel or unnecessary.

Read Full Post »

Doop doop I’m putting together that follow-up post as mentioned, can’t sleep while they’re filming FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS in my backyard and they’ll go til 4 AM again, no sleep and just got home from my 4th day in training and I couldn’t concentrate because of the clip in my head the last 2 days, which happens to be the first one added to Writher, the writhe safely rock-n-roll VODPOD, from which I’ll highlight a video every week, and make like a format. A show. A production, a playground, slightly twee but highly exacting. My task is to get you interested, this is still in my blood, and don’t it make you wanna get right back home. Remember, if you click the video two times it takes you to youtube where you can access the full-screen. Guess I should mention this is probably not safe for work, and that breaks my heart too.

Read Full Post »

You remember that lady who fell down and died in front of everybody in a New York hospital? What are you, living in the past, that was 8 whole days ago! But here’s a footnote lest you were to think something relevant was about to happen — that video didn’t hit the airwaves as the result of an investigation into the deplorable conditions of our nation’s yadda yadda, it was a fluke stumbled on while investigating some other unrelated everyday civil rights violation. See that puff of smoke going up, that would be the change in the air, an allowance that what happened in Kings County Psychiatric Hospital happens all the time in those places, in your neighborhood and mine, standard and unremarkable. Putting eyes on it is what’s remarkable, which leads to necessary outrage which leads to — oh look, something shiny!

“WHY?” asked NBC. Why in the name of all that’s sacred did this poor, black, aging, psychiatric, involuntarily committed woman slump to the floor and die in the space of one hour to the callous indifference of everyone around her?  If only there were some dots to connect, we might begin to understand.

Read Full Post »

Heard from our first NAMI defender today in a comment too fuckwadity to dissect though it’s befitting of due ridicule in what I hope to be the first in a protracted and honorable sword-crossing with our authoritarian rightwing mental health overlords. Participatory dialogue between consumers and families is so very long overdue it was with bated breath I opened the email only to discover that I’m fat lazy ugly self-absorbed and write a shitty blog, do nothing to improve the world while the good people of NAMI, who are VOLUNTEERS, freely volunteer their time and energy to advocate for the mentally ill. O yes compared to them my own perfidy knows no bounds, even poor, helpless diabetic Angelbait is not laid low with chronic disease in the prime of her nine lives, but is an attention-seeking feline who is clearly neurotic and her butt stinks and she likes to smell her own butt. The fact that I would blog about a sick cat is further proof I have no idea how the Internets work.

All this to say my first comment by a NAMI defender was everything I hoped it would be — senseless, textbook character assassination, unsurprising unless you consider it remarkable that an organization founded on the denial of interpersonal abuse should be defended by an ally who spews an onslaught of personalized abuse, which I don’t find remarkable at all, and is in fact central to the case we are making against the pharma-funded family advocate wrecking crew.

Let me be clear — NAMI is comprised of standard emotional abusers, who take their page from the standard how-to-abuse manual, whether targeting kids, women, animals, immigrants or bloggers, up to and including the part where they project their own twisted hatred onto their prey, deny their own antisocial tendencies which are deployed for nothing but the rush of sheer pleasure that results from humiliating their would-be victims, a pleasure they also don’t understand, and know only that the target clearly asked for it by being fat, old, proud, self-referential, caring for shitty sick cats, and as any rapist will tell you, running around with her tits hanging out.

No, my first family troll did not surprise or disappoint in the least, I will simply note the momentous occasion by highlighting a classic NAMI intervention in their ongoing mission to “eradicate the stigma of mental illness and improve the quality of life of those affected by brain diseases.” First, a digression if I may; many critics of NAMI focus on their “brain disease” mantra as a scientifically unsupportable mis-attribution and it is that. But evil wears many hats, and I submit that all of NAMI’s rhetoric is carefully groomed and thoroughly vetted before it’s introduced, and by the time we hear it the users have been schooled to speak solely within that frame in order to seize the discourse and ignore alternative conceptual frames as if they don’t exist. This is what they do. NAMI is a lobby group engaged in all the tactics of political hardball. As such the term brain disease serves a dual purpose, as the final word on psychiatric phenomena, which most educated and enlightened people are affronted by, and so we concentrate on arguing with the sophistry and hubris demonstrated up-front. But wait, there’s more! The implicit purpose of promulgating the concept of brain disease is in securing the complete dehumanization of the victim, required by abusers in order for them to justify interpersonal violence. That too is part of the inflicter’s handbook, as criminologists discovered in their early studies of serial killers, nobody wants to feel like a monster. So you divest your target of their basic humanity.

Brain disorder is NAMI’s ruling trope, giving them license to inflict, which is why they repeat it incessantly in every publication, and why it needs to be attacked on grounds that it totally dehumanizes. How can you abuse a brain disease? Neat, isn’t it. So is their vulnerability. We’ll come back to this, meanwhile what say we get on with it and strap all our chairs to the floor.

SOURCE: Sheldon Richman, Editor, Ideas on Liberty, quoted by Szasz, T. Mental illness: From shame to pride:

The NAMI rhetoric conceals that the organization is composed of, and controlled by, principally the relatives of so-called mentally ill persons and that its main purpose is to justify depriving such persons of liberty in the name of mental health. So convinced is NAMI of the nobility of its cause, that its web site offers this scenario:

Sometime, during the course of your loved one’s illness, you may need the police. By preparing now, before you need help, you can make the day you need help go much more smoothly. … It is often difficult to get 911 to respond to your calls if you need someone to come & take your MI relation to a hospital emergency room (ER). They may not believe that you really need help. And if they do send the police, the police are often reluctant to take someone for involuntary commitment. That is because cops are concerned about liability. … When calling 911, the best way to get quick action is to say, “Violent EDP,” or “Suicidal EDP.” EDP stands for Emotionally Disturbed Person. This shows the operator that you know what you’re talking about. Describe the danger very specifically. “He’s a danger to himself “is not as good as “This morning my son said he was going to jump off the roof.” … Also, give past history of violence. This is especially important if the person is not acting up. … When the police come, they need compelling evidence that the person is a danger to self or others before they can involuntarily take him or her to the ER for evaluation. … Realize that you & the cops are at cross purposes. You want them to take someone to the hospital. They don’t want to do it. Say, “Officer, I understand your reluctance. Let me spell out for you the problems & the danger. …While NAMI is not suggesting you do this, the fact is that some families have learned to “turn over the furniture” before calling the police. Many police require individuals with neurobiological disorders to be imminently dangerous before treating the person against their will. If the police see furniture disturbed they will usually conclude that the person is imminently dangerous.

Deliberately giving false information to the police is a felony. Except, it seems, when the falsehood serves the avowed aim of providing mental health treatment for a “loved one.”


Read Full Post »

I have been consumed with feline diabetes the last few days, as I should, it’s complex as it gets and the knowledge base as demanding as that of informed mental health patients. Angelbait will need me to test her glucose 4 times a day, before and after I give her the shots, that means pricking her ear and getting the reading on a monitor. She will need prescription food and I have to figure out how to do things like get the insulin from the vet to my house in 100 degree heat without a car, the insulin has to be kept refrigerated. This home-based disease management will cost about 150 a month, the only way that will work is if I quit smoking. And I have to figure out how to do all this when the legislature is in session, and bills are passed at 2 AM, when I’m at the Capitol 18 hours a day.

Sometimes the glass is half empty. I just found an Austin blogger who accuses my vet of killing 2 pets.

He killed my cat.

I don’t know if she’s right or wrong and based on her post, neither can you. All I know is Angelbait is in this same man’s hands, at that clinic still, right now, and I feel powerless. Am I? What would you do? I don’t know where to go from here. I talk to the vet, he says all the same stuff to me he said to this blogger, I went and saw X play last night and stopped crying for the first time since Sunday, thinking it’s going to be a long hard road, but if I keep my shit together Angel will make it. I can’t sleep from the hundreds of rules to learn and remember, and I stayed up to research the vet and found that post and this 2006 reprimand by the Licensing Board for violating the “PROFESSIONAL STANDARD OF HUMANE TREATMENT, by failing to begin treatment for Sarcoptic mites, even with an initial negative skin scrape when confronted with symptoms of crusty ears, generalized itching, non-responsive treatment protocols, and a human rash. Disciplinary Action: Informal Reprimand.”

Should I see red flags? Are reprimands common with vets who have been practicing long? All I know is he examined the older cat Kamikaze twice and agreed to let me administer the shots at home and he gives me a break on the price. I asked him 2 years ago if the cortisone would shorten Kami’s lifespan and he said “probably, yes, it’s likely. But it’s either that or letting her suffer like this.” His candor appealed to me, the Animal Trustees non-profit recommends him for low-income pet owners, he is a nice man, and with Angelbait he will allow me to do home-based glucose monitoring. That is a big plus in his favor, according to the progressive feline diabetes community.

I would be remiss to leave out the impact these readings are having on me. I read that post and disciplinary action and went into conversion disorder for the first time since I wrote about standing up and falling down on troublewaits. I would like people who don’t believe in mental illness to see what conversion disorder looks like, you fucks, and deal with the fact that it was a certified psychiatrist what taught me how to deal with it. (“Talk to people, express yourself; hysteria is caused by over-control and stoicism, which is contraindicated due to your trauma history”.)

Contraindicated: he was recommending I let myself fall apart, validating my craziness as the way things are supposed to be, bless you Dr. Oppressor. I’m calling him up inside my heart and going over the protocols for these times. He said you will probably have falling down spells for the rest of your life when overwhelmed by emotion and you will get through them because you have so far. I asked how I can *share* like a human being when my speech goes garbly and I drop for no apparent reason, how can I talk when I can’t form words. He put his thumb and forefinger together with a fraction of space between them and said “This is how much understanding you’ll find out there. But it’s either try or suffer in silence, and silence is why it’s happening.” He said at first the speech and falling down will be TEH SUCK, but “once you start talking everything smooths out.” I’m not telling you this to stick up for him, but to share my disdain with the antipsychiatry dickstains who feel welcomed here for some incomprehensible reason.

I have not followed my old shrink’s advice, am reclusive, have no one I am close to, the only person I talked to about Angelbait said I should prepare myself to put her down. Well-meaning betrayal stings less, but that friend is off my helplist. That’s how he escaped his certain fate, as luck would have it. I need help, some support or perspective.

UPDATE: I called the licensing board. My vet has 2 reprimands, one informal the other formal, only 2% of vets get reprimands of any kind. 98% do not get one. Angelbait is undergoing intensive regulation treatment, I asked the licensing board rep if moving her in the middle of the process would kill her. He couldn’t say. All my questions are unanswerable, I guess but they are warranted aren’t they. Should I call a philosopher?

Read Full Post »

Shit. I haven’t been able to look at this, til talking on the phone with Poodie tonight who said the story isn’t getting proper coverage. So I went looking for the truth at Shakesville, who hits it out of the park from the git:

THIS story should be reported with purpose. If it is not to be consumed as a pithy bit of titillation over one’s morning tea, it should be blunt, and it should be contextualized. No whitewashing, framed within a larger cultural narrative about the mistreatment of women and/or incidents of incest/child abuse in Austria. And then every. single. time. there is another story of this nature, the frame should be repeated. And repeated. And repeated. And repeated.

Until we can’t ignore its prevalence any longer. Until we can’t treat sexual abuse and torture as so much faff to be dismissed once we’ve had the obligatory “What a world!” grouse to salve our barely piqued consciences.

SEE ALSO:

“I am not a monster…I could have killed all of them — then nothing would have happened. No one would have ever known about it.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »