Sunday, April 14, 2024

Good riddance, Bennett Braun!

Bennett Braun was perhaps one of the most evil psychiatrists I ever met or investigated. The anti-religious, criminal kidnap-deprogramming groups of the 1980's just loved him, because he made all "cults" seem even more dangerous, with his presentations including 11x17 glossy photographs of severed genitalia and tales of horrendous "international, multi-generational, satanic ritualistic conspiracies" that were secretly embedded in every community, stealing, raping, murdering, skinning and eating innocent children.

Braun and his cohorts, including Colin Ross, Roberta Sachs, Jerry Simandl and others, caused extreme paranoia for the media (who loved them for that, of course!) to spread around in society. Needless to say, they also caused horrible mental and emotional damage to their patients, many of whom spent years of their lives believing that they had multiple personalities caused by childhood sexual abuse, only to realize later that it was all false memory, implanted with the help of drugs and hypnosis by their psychotherapists. Bennett Braun was sued, prosecuted, and disgraced.

Braun's death should be remembered, to link his insane and extremely harmful practices to psychiatry in general.  This is exactly what psychiatry does; this is what it is about! 

Looking back at archives will easily tie the crazy "satanic abuse" crowd to the APA and various other bad actors who are still around. Braun's International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation ("ISSMP&D") was a respected "research" authority for several years. Their annual conferences were co-sponsored by none other than Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago! 

I was a dues-paying member of ISSMP&D, and somewhere I still have a complete collection of issues of their monthly journal, Dissociation. If I can find those journal issues, I'll blog again about this, with more gruesome details. There was also a parents' advocacy organization called Believe The Children, which did their best to fan the flames of moral panic by forwarding stories of satanic abuse, none of which were ever validated. I went to a couple BTC meetings and collected their publications, too.

There are efforts now to revise and suppress this story, not un-similar to the Chinese Communist Party's attempts to wipe out all memory of Tiananmen Square and suppress any honest history of Mao's Cultural Revolution. If the APA has its way, ISSMP&D will be forgotten or recalled only as an insignificant little aberration in the long and bright narrative of humane, scientific mental health research and development. That's not how it was, I was there!

Things change. There is something weird in the coincidence that on the same day Bennett Braun died, a whole paradigm of modern offensive warfare was shaken to its foundations by the demonstrated ability of one nation to completely block a massive missile attack from another. (Maybe that's my next article.)   

But as bad as Bennett Braun was, he was no worse than Ewen Cameron, Joly West, Harry Bailey, Radovan Karadžić, Ernst Rüdin, Benjamin Rush and a whole host of others throughout the grim history of psychiatry.

Psychiatria delenda est!

Friday, April 12, 2024

From Lincoln South Unit at Packard MHC

The psychiatrist Dr. Cash and a nurse manager named Michael Fitz held an impromptu meeting of a treatment team today, with a high-functioning patient named Ethan on their unit. The patient called me beforehand, wondering whether this might be an attempt to pre-empt his regular treatment plan review, which is scheduled for next week and which he does not want to occur early without his attorney's or his advocate's presence. Treatment teams often prefer to have patients at the normal disadvantage (5- or 6-on-one with no attorney present), so they can assert control and intimidate the patients more easily.

This particular patient is smart. He did go to the meeting, and he told me a couple things about it afterward. The "team" has evidently been getting (or making up) false reports about him. He filed a complaint recently with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). I don't know or remember exactly what that complaint was, it may have been about a threat to take away privileges.

Dr. Cash told the patient that they were not going to take his privileges away after all. That was kind of a foregone conclusion... most threats like that are never carried out. Some threats are actually illegal, too. For example, the mental health code makes it a misdemeanor for a staff to threaten a patient with a civil commitment petition unless the staff is in fact prepared to file a proper petition. (That legal proscription does not however prevent this specific kind of intimidation, which still occurs routinely.)

High-functioning, smart patients who are unwilling to be psychiatric slaves are instinctively disliked by staff who want to believe themselves to be such wise, benevolent "mental health professionals," that the patients should worship them, and be thankfully and rightfully owned by them. 

Possibly Michael Fitz, the Nurse-Manager on Lincoln South Unit, is one such would-be slave plantation overseer. Michael walked into today's impromptu meeting and asked sarcastically, "Is this the Ethan show?" Then with rather flamboyant hypocrisy, he accused the patient of being "disrespectful" to staff. Of course, he was unable to offer a single instance of behavior which evidenced any disrespect, so he looked pretty stupid.

I never advise a psychiatric slave to disrespect the overseers. I certainly sympathize with their feelings of disrespect for the whole system, and anyone who would be willing to work for it. Forensic psychiatry, involuntary "hospitalization," forced "treatment" and the insanity defense are the single most destructive wrong turn for legal and social policy in the whole history of humanity. But I'm a licensed attorney and a long-time student of history. I can insult people like Cash and Fitz, and they have no real recourse against me. But the only reason any of my insults ever bite, is that they are based in some truth.

Somebody like Ethan needs to be smart. However hostile he may feel toward his current, temporary slave-masters, he has to acknowledge their power: they have a whole lot of influence over when he can get out. Most of them do not have bad intentions, either. It's not that hard to like them or at least feel sorry for them. They got into psychiatric slavery by mistake, thinking it was a business in which they could help people, or even thinking (perhaps unbelievably in retrospect) it had something to do with medicine.

Dr. Cash actually tipped her own and her institution's hand during today's impromptu meeting. She told Ethan that it "won't help" him to be writing OIG complaints. If she had thought she could get away with it, she would have said what she really meant, namely: Don't ever complain again because we will keep you locked up longer for that!

But she's smart enough to be careful. She's obviously smarter than Michael Fitz. I guess we'll see how smart she is compared to Ethan. 

Maybe the two of them can actually get along.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Bronze Plaque

An EMHC psychiatrist recently stated, "Of course, not one single patient in this place wants to be here..." For me, and perhaps for most people at EMHC (patients or staff), this may seem like unremarkable common sense. Nobody wants to be locked up in a state nuthouse, right? 

But... what of the words on that decorative bronze plaque prominently displayed for the public as they walk through the security magnetometer and get "wanded" by a stern, uniformed guard in the Forensic Program Building lobby (??): 

THIS IS A HOSPITAL DEDICATED BY THE STATE OF ILLINOIS TO THE WELFARE OF ITS PEOPLE FOR THEIR RELIEF AND RESTORATION - A PLACE OF HOPE FOR THE HEALING OF MIND BODY AND SPIRIT WHERE MANY FIND HEALTH AND HAPPINESS AGAIN 

Somehow, it just seems that such a wonderful "hospital" would not inspire such universal desire to not be there. Maybe it can be said that nobody really likes being in the hospital; but people who are really sick are generally thankful and appreciative for good hospitals where they are well treated. In my decades of experience in EMHC, there are no such thanks and there is no such appreciation from the psychiatric "patients" who are held at EMHC, ever. There is only desperate desire to get out; the "relief and restoration... hope... health and happiness again" only comes from getting the hell out.

If that plaque in the lobby were truthful, it might tell the public:

THIS IS A HORRIBLE PLACE  OF PSYCHIATRIC SLAVERY THAT YOU PAY YOUR TAXES FOR IN ILLINOIS TO CONFINE AND DISABLE PEOPLE YOU ARE AFRAID OF - A PLACE THAT VIOLATES FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMEANS BOTH MEDICINE AND THE LAW

Then the psychiatrist's categorical statement about not a single person wanting to be there would make sense. 

He would probably want to find a different job, too.

Friday, April 5, 2024

SHAME on you, Vik Gill!

My guy Gus has supposedly been offered "a deal" by his treatment team a EMHC. Nobody is really sure what the "deal" is because they are unwilling to write it down, or to let Gus write it down. Nevertheless, they insist that Gus must formally accept the invisible, unwritten, undefined "deal" by a date certain, lest he will never get a conditional release, even if he qualifies for one under the law.

The psychiatrist in charge of this nonsense is Vikramjit Gill. Vik repeatedly admonishes Gus that he'd "better accept the deal" soon, or he'll lose his chance and he'll "never get out" of EMHC. Vik further insists that the "deal" will remain unwritten because, "We don't do that here at EMHC, and we don't have to put anything in writing." He further claims that no one else has any authority: not Dr. Corcoran, the Statewide Supreme Forensic Medical Director who plainly stated in the presence of a handful of witnesses (including me), that Gus doesn't belong at EMHC anymore; nor will any judge or any prosecutor decide. Only Vik himself will determine whether Gus can ever leave EMHC.

This is all ridiculous and despicable gaslighting, of course. There isn't any "deal." Gus can say he accepts it or he doesn't accept it, and it will make no difference whatsoever. The truth is, the overseers on the slave plantation simply think they can crack some patently silly, rhetorical whip, to get Gus worried enough to say, "Oh, gee, I'm so sorry if I have ever entertained bad opinions about any of you wonderful, all-knowing and all-beneficent mental health professionals. I will never again say a critical word or think a critical thought about you, I will only praise you, even if I have to lie!"

They probably want Gus to bow and scrape when he says that, too. Or kiss Michelle Evans' ring, or suck somebody's....

And now that I think about it, I don't believe this weird new attitude or faux "treatment plan" point for Gus came from Vik at all. He's a rational treating psychiatrist, maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but decent. He's clearly not over-enthusiastic (like, e.g., Malis-with-malice or Syed Hussain) about forcing "medicine" on human beings, and he seems reluctant to consider that his patients are less than human. The problem is, he's a wimp. He tends to believe whatever was said by the last person he spoke to, so his true point of view is unstable and too amenable to any momentary influence. 

Somebody probably told Vik that he can prove something by subduing Gus. He may believe that he needs to prove something to protect his career or his state-employee benefits, too, because his competence has been directly questioned in court, by none other than Dr. Corcoran, the Statewide Supreme Forensic Medical Director (testifying under oath; I have the transcript of that hearing).

It's remarkable that Vik has stated several times to Gus that "Dr. Corcoran has nothing to say about this, it doesn't matter what he thinks." It raises the possibility that either Corcoran is on his way out, or the Statewide Supreme Forensic Medical Director himself concocted this whole strategy for some purpose of his own. Fascinating..!

The only other explanation could be that Gus is just flat-out lying to me about what people have said to him. Nothing is impossible, but I've known him a long time, and I doubt that he's lying. As far as I know, he doesn't have any clandestine voice recordings, like Marci Weber and Ben Hurt were able to get. Gus is almost obsessed with staying legal, following the rules. It's arguably neurotic of him. (Neurotic is of course a concept that's ironically out of favor in orthodox psychiatry, which is why I can use the word, even as a fanatical anti-psychiatry crusader.) 

Gus' attention to correct behavior is exactly what gets him in trouble with people who have to constantly worry that their own incorrect behavior will be discovered. He won't stop, though.

A sure tip-off here is the question: Who writes things down, and who forbids writing things down?

Friday, March 15, 2024

Psychedelics vs. the Apotheosis of Reason

Jules Evans recently interviewed Steve Rolles about "What comes after the war on drugs?" A transcript of that conversation is a fascinating demonstration or dramatization, in my opinion, of what Max Weber (and many others) have called "the apotheosis of reason."

Psychedelic drugs basically turn loose the best, and the worst, intentions and experiences accessible to individuals. Both the best and the worst are far more extreme than modern day humans can easily imagine. We have historical references like Christ/Buddha/Gandhi, and Torquemada/Hitler/Manson; but we do not find or confront those extremes regularly in our daily lives. When somebody gets crazy, like on October 7th in Israel, that merely precipitates a crazy reaction: lives and society are destroyed, but nothing is learned. In fact the world only becomes stupider.

No great patriotic war has ever helped humanity. Each and every one of them brought only dishonor, ruin and tragedy. Ideas, not battles, mark forward progress for Man. During battle, ideas literally disappear and only force exists. Battle is an absence of ideas, even if ideas are blamed or credited beforehand and afterward. Drugs, especially psychedelic drugs, produce battle within a mind.

The interview by Evans of Rolles is replete with the blissful ignorance and glib denial of evil. The whole framework of how to best regulate psychedelics so they provide benefits without causing harm hearkens back to classic lines from war movies like (two of my favorites) Full Metal Jacket and Starship Troopers:

    "How can you shoot women and children? Easy--just don't lead them quite as much."

    "What's the matter, you want to live forever? Let's all get tattoos!"

Steve Rolles is charming to note that psychedelics can turn people into boring dickheads. But there may be nothing so boring as his own discussions about, "The core thrust of regulation (being) ...keeping people safe or at least safer, and mitigating known risks."

That's not why people take psychedelic drugs, it's only what they seem to get interested in after they've been turned into dickheads. People take psychedelic drugs to overcome themselves, or in Nietzsche's own language, zur Selbsüberwindung zum Übermenschen. People want salvation, and that has never been a project for reason, but always a project for faith. 

Galileo began the long historical trend away from faith and toward reason in the early Seventeenth Century; but not long after Nietzsche died insane and godless at the dawn of the Twentieth, Albert Hoffman, Richard Helms, Paul Tibbets, Rudolph Höss, Captain Al Hubbard and Timothy Leary certainly ended that trend.

Now people vote for Donald Trump or believe in woke-ism. And they fight each other. They appear only able to cherish the artillery shell in the face or the bullet in the heart.

They want a trip, but it'll be a bad one now. Forget regulation.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Easter and Music

I have always loved the concept of the Christian Resurrection as an ultimate triumph over death. In retrospect, I'm not sure what sort of "death" needs to be triumphed over, or that human life is anything like an ultimate game. My favorite New Testament bit is the angel's question on Easter morning, "Why do you look in a place of the dead?"

I know my mother never feared death. (I'm not sure about my dad.) Among the other dead people whom I miss most are my wife's dad, a rare violin expert named Robert, and John Prine.

My parents loved music. When I hear certain Jimmy Buffet songs, or Don McClean's American Pie, or the Eagles, it sure seems to me like they are alive. My father-in-law listened to Harry Belafonte and sang along with Tennessee Ernie Ford's 16 Tons. Music is resurrection in some far more significant way than any mere re-animation of a ruined meat body.

Nevertheless, I had a strange and wonderful dream.

My wife and I do an annual music cruise with another couple, which entails 41 bands and about two thousand paying fans on a ship for a week in the Caribbean. It's called Cayamo (a made-up word which means nothing beyond being the name of the event itself). This year we had the Mavericks, Brandy Clark, The War and Treaty, Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett, and various others too good to forget but too many to remember. Cayamo is not quite Woodstock, but it's fully beautiful, and much more comfortable.

The pool deck is our favorite of about six different venues on the boat. You can sit in the hot tub and listen to the show, watch old people dance, read your book and drink. It's not easy to find a seat in the shade. One afternoon this week we walked out and there were several shady seats available. Our friend (age 84)  commented dryly, "Yep, people died."  I hate to say it, but the crowd does seem to get more geriatric every year; anyone who appears to be under forty is almost certainly a member of a band. 

There are just over three dozen patrons who have been there every year (of 16) without exception. Those guys always get an official shout-out from Shawn Mullins, the one performing musician who has never missed a year. They all parade down the aisle of the Stardust Theater in bathrobes. We've done nine Cayamo's in a row now, and we won't miss next year, because Emmylou Harris will be back on board.

Which brings me back to my dream.

We were sitting on the pool deck during a set by Buffalo Rose, when one of the female singers said, "Ladies and gentlemen we have a very special surprise for you. Please welcome my friend and hero, back from the dead, Mr. John Prine!" And to our shock, he actually walked out onto the stage with his guitar!

Needless to say the crowd was instantly hysterical, in unrestrained tears. No human being is more loved on Cayamo than John Prine. He is the patron saint of the event, everyone tells stories about him, most of the artists imitate him in some way, and they try to tell stories like he told stories. (One colorful example is Paul Thorn, who has some story to introduce every song he sings: "My daddy was a preacher and my uncle was a pimp... they taught me how to love and how to fight.")

Anyway... my dream continued with the most wonderful lyricist who ever lived stepping up to the microphone and speaking to us all in that same conversational, Kentucky-drawl tone as soon as the stunned pool deck multitude could calm down. "Thank you, I'm happy to be here. I'm sorry if I look tired. You know, I've been dead for several years, and that takes a lot out of a person. They say rest in peace, but man I gotta tell you, it ain't restful being dead. So I'm happy to be back on Cayamo, it's a lot better...." 

Then he sang Souvenirs, and we all cried, and I woke up from the dream crying. Every year at Cayamo I have the same realization: music is the most important thing in my life!

Back from the ship, walking by the ocean on Miami Beach, a man was dragging a cross south by the water's edge. The cross wasn't quite big enough to actually crucify anyone on it, just big enough to theatrically remind sunbathers and spring breakers of The Crucifixion. An interviewer and a videographer followed about ten yards behind the man dragging the cross, to record people's reactions (and proselytize).

I suggested that the guy with the cross should fall down occasionally, and they'd see whether anyone named Simon could be convinced to help him carry it. The interviewer ignored that, but asked what the cross meant to me. I thought for a moment, and came up with something along the lines of... coming back from such a gruesome death would sure prove a person is tough. 

I could have mentioned centuries of persecuted non-believers, brutal forced conversions, and prejudice that inspired the ruinous American Civil War. But these days Christians are decent, if boring, people.

The guy asked if he could pray for me. I told him pray for peace, that will be praying for me. 

I should have said pray for music.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

If you bite the groomer, you'll have to take meds

I have a 2-year-old Airedale Terrier named Spensur who weighs about 93 pounds. Big dog with no real manners, and we don't know everywhere he's been, he's a rescue. Trying to get him groomed, which should be done every couple months, has become an interesting project. One place after another has said no, they won't take him again, he doesn't cooperate and (just imagine!) nobody wants to get bitten.

The most recent groomer, Paul, called me after Spens had been at his place for about an hour last week, and told me to come get him, he couldn't get him into the washtub. I went in and tried to get him into the tub and also gave up. When a large dog growls or snarls at you, you just back off. Paul said well, maybe we could try again in a couple weeks, and maybe he'd give my dog half a Valium or something. I didn't like that idea, but we've got to get this beast cleaned up.

I called the vet, and explained the situation. Dr. Kramer said there's a "chill protocol." It's about four different meds, and you dose the dog once the night before grooming and once again, about an hour or two ahead of the appointment. So I got the prescriptions filled, and figured I'd test it one time before I took Spensur back to Paul. A cookie with peanut butter to disguise seven pills, plus a little cheese and a bit of turkey was the perfect contrivance, and the pills went right down.

The next morning, Spens was slow. He acted more like an old dog, not a puppy. I only gave him part of the second dose because I thought if I'd done the full protocol, he might not even get in the car by himself, and I wouldn't want to carry him. This was a Saturday. The drugs wore off slowly, and the dog seemed suspicious of me for most of the day, like, "Dad! What the hell was in that cookie?" I didn't like it. I left a message for the vet to call me, I had some questions.

You can count on a vet who practices in Chicago's North Shore suburbs to be pretty solicitous: they charge a lot more than makes any sense, and they want that business. Dr. Kramer listened carefully to my concerns, and ultimately suggested that the fine-tuning of the meds should consist of one less tablet of two drugs the night before, and then the full dose in the morning. I think he's right, and we'll probably do it that way in a couple weeks, to hopefully avoid the resentful attitude which might be a side effect of the meds wearing off. I really do not want Spensur to bite Paul, and he has to get groomed before he looks like a full-on, gnarly monster. So I'll try to reason with him, and explain the deal, and maybe get him less sensitive to somebody pulling on his facial hair or putting him in a washtub, before I take him back in.

Veterinarians are a lot like psychiatrists in that their solution to bad behavior is drugs. If dogs are well behaved, they can be easier to get along with and more lovable than some people. But they're also easier to drug and easier to kill when they behave badly.

Damn, I love this dog, and I don't want him to be afraid or upset, or to think that I don't respect him. I really want him to learn that the groomer is OK. I should be able to teach him that. The meds probably aren't very good for him, and it would break my heart to hurt him.

But like all the rest of us, he has to get presentable in society, and he can't bite the groomer.