Saturday, March 28, 2020

Viruses, psychiatrists and Jack Crabb

I once answered an exam question about the borders of life. It may have been an undergraduate philosophy course final, or law school, I don’t remember which for sure. I wish I had a copy of the essay I wrote. A neighborhood social website conversation reminded me of this today. Somebody posted advice from a doctor about how to wash hands and clean surfaces to best avoid transmitting corona virus, which included the datum (from an MD, so of course true as “science”) that viruses are not alive.

Well, there’s a long and very interesting history of this issue. See, e.g., Scientific American, 2004.

The bottom line is, definitions and demarcations of life in terms of biology/chemistry/physics (let alone Western medicine) have some practical necessity and obvious uses, but they very quickly look arbitrary outside of their own limited contexts.

As I recall my essay answer to the exam question, it seems easiest to approach the question of what is alive on a purely experiential level. We all recognize outstanding human genius as strong evidence of life. The Beatles, Marylin Monroe, Einstein, Beethoven, Maimonides, Augustine, Sun Tzu... were proof that life is real. Life is certainly bright and distinguishable from pure solidity.

Then consider a level of just a bit less genius. Mario Cuomo, Anthony Fauci, Tom Zubik, Jitsy Wolf... these guys are certainly alive, with obvious influence and power way beyond what any inert object exerts.

Down the scale another step perhaps (apologies for any appearance of implied diminished value — just stand by, I’ll cure that shortly, I hope), we should consider retired uncles, circumstantially unemployed adults (there are suddenly a whole shitload of those!) and just ordinary people walking around or staying in their homes by order of the government, like the lady who forwarded the doctor’s advice about viruses this morning... these are all living human beings, unique and worthy of high respect. This is still easy enough to understand.

Below normal humans (again, bear with me) we relate to the disabled. Our ethics rightly demand that we acknowledge their fundamental humanity, but there is a long scale of disability from somebody who just has a touch of ADHD or depression, through the autism spectrum, to severe psychosis, Down’s syndrome and advanced Alzheimer’s dementia. Despite their humanity, these people do become less alive in a way, according to our honest experience.

Somewhere in the least fortunate depths of human disability, we may find ourselves embarrassed by our own higher affinity for nonhuman beings like our pets, or non-domestic animal species. Call of the Wild, Lassie, Black Velvet, Flipper and Old Yeller are not so fictional as to lack connection to honest emotions. I’ve known several Airedale terriers with whom I would rather hang out socially than a couple of my neighbors, not to mention members of my own family who spent excruciating years as hospitalized vegetables, (presumably, we hope for nobility’s sake) trying to die.

There’s a smooth transition from animals to plants, too. Coral looks entirely plant-like to me, but I know it’s part of the animal kingdom. Plants and animals are all alive, and we instinctively value them for that. I saw a Columbia cocaine smuggler shoot a beautiful dog for no good reason on the TV show “Narcos”, and it felt like a terrible crime. My son films ocean life for a not-for-profit, and to him it’s cruel whenever a fish in my saltwater aquarium dies.

Algae, and single cell plankton (are they plants or animals?) are clearly part of life. If we lose them, pretty soon nobody eats. We know we have to respect the Earth.

Bacteria are single cell life forms, too. They reproduce themselves asexually, by just dividing in half. We’d never say that they think — but lots of people wouldn’t believe my dogs think either. (And I know that’s wrong, at least as well as anyone knows what they even mean when they say “think”.)

Viruses have no cellular structure, but they do have DNA or RNA, and they can take over living cells, directing their activities and and using their structures and resources to replicate themselves. Viruses have certainly affected and contributed to the history and development of life on earth.

Other sub-cellular constituents like ribosomes, mitochondria and complex proteins are orders of magnitude larger and more interesting than simple molecules. However they are molecules nonetheless, they just have a lot more to do with life than simpler non-organic compounds

The smaller the particle gets, the more mechanical it may seem all by itself. But this is only true if you don’t get all the way down. Is an electron a particle or a wave? Quarks have spin and personality, according to physicists. Quantum uncertainty can’t really be deciphered and at the fringes of physics we have theories that seem as spiritual as they are physical. Solidity may be an illusion, things can always come further apart.

If the world really boils down to mathematical equations and probabilities, that’s not so far from pure opinions or subjective viewpoints, and experientially perhaps we’ve come around in a full circle, back to aesthetics and the genius.

My point is that there’s no objective fine line anywhere on this entire route to divide, e.g., superhuman from human, from subhuman, from animal, from life form, from organic, from molecular, from mathematical, from aesthetic, from superhuman once again. When we talk about life, that’s not any scientific, physics/chemistry/biology issue: it’s a philosophical issue. Physics, chemistry, biology (let alone medicine), for all their practical value in our regular world, cannot even conclusively settle whether our novel coronavirus is alive or not. We tell ourselves we are fighting a war with it, but we don’t even know if it’s alive!

In the movie “Little Big Man” Dustin Hoffman’s character Jack Crabb was told by the Souix medicine man whom he called Grandfather about the essential difference between the “Human Beings” (Comanche Souix) and the white man:

To the Human Beings everything is alive. Rocks, trees, water, animals... they are all alive. To the white man everything is dead, even (in an incredulous tone) PEOPLE!

Psychiatrists are the ultimate white men in this time of viral catastrophe. If we are in a war, may the human beings win!    

Friday, March 6, 2020

Yo, Joint Commission!

Today is probably your last day in this current inspection at Elgin Mental Health Center.

Think about all the possible stuff that will hit the fan between now and your next inspection, and the questions that will be asked, about why you were not interested or capable of effectively investigating, e.g.:

-  WIDESPREAD coverup of sexual abuse of the disabled at EMHC;
-  utterly endemic falsification of patient court reports which are filed as under oath;
-  a fundamental modus operandi of coercion, intimidation and dehumanization of patients.

Of course these are all generalities, as I state them here. I just want to be sure to get a word in before you leave EMHC today, all set to whitewash the plantation once again as a “hospital”.

But a former social worker was actually convicted of sexual abuse. There is ongoing civil litigation over the complicity and coverup. There is a treasure trove of facts that will be coming out.

A very senior administrator — none other than Dr. James Patrick Corcoran — has admitted in sworn testimony to covertly changing court reports over other clinicians’ signatures. This is perjury, one way or another.

I’ve spent 18 years hanging out at EMHC and teasing out evidence from patients and staff. The plantation is deeply, outrageously corrupt, and the public will know. Then they’ll ask why they fund your contract with the state, if you’re not doing your job.

Investigate!!

You may call me if you like: 847-370-5410. (But I probably won’t hold my breath.)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Plantation “ethics”

A social worker on N Unit named Sebin at DSH (remember what the acronym stands for — it was originally all about L Unit!) has been going around telling patients not to sign anything attesting to true facts which have been omitted from or altered (to become false) in court reports about patients. One of my own favorite mini-causes, within the larger cause of abolition, has long been this actual perjury, committed habitually and continuously at Elgin Mental Health Center and every other state psychiatric facility in Illinois.

Judges rely on the truth and accuracy of the information that comes to them in court reports. These documents are filed as under oath. Of course, nobody easily believes doctors would lie about the details of their patients’ conditions and progress. What they don’t understand is that perhaps psychiatrists are in a sense not real doctors. And state psychiatrists who coerce people into accepting unwanted “treatment” are worse — they’re plantation overseers or gangsters.

The “facts” in court reports are mostly taken from daily progress notes or other reports (e.g., incident reports, security reports), written by staff who almost never end up under oath in court. I have gone out of my way several times to get low level staff into court under oath, precisely because I can often prove they have made mistakes or lied in the paperwork which is supposed to be exempt from hearsay rules as reliable “medical records”.

What happens is, some evil sleaze ball like Richard Malis-with-malice tells a social worker, “Don’t write so much positive stuff about patient X, because it will make it more difficult for me to get an involuntary medication order!” Or a little Hitler like James Patrick Corcoran tells clinical staff, “Change the court report to say patient Y was verbally aggressive, or you’re going to lose your job!” People know they’re supposed to be truthful, but it’s not hard to push them, little by little, into corruption. When the whole setting is as wrong as psychiatric slavery to begin with, everyone who gets their pay from the master quickly accommodates their “ethics” to the demands of whoever holds a whip just up the bureaucratic ladder.

Sebin’s social worker supervisor on N Unit is an experienced and well-intended staff member named Mario Rabaza. It’s hard for me to imagine that Mario would have been so stupid as to organize what can surely be portrayed later as evidence of a cover-up.

The question that comes to my mind is, who is going around Mario and using Sebin to make patients think they have no recourse and will be in danger of retribution if they tell the truth? Who’s really setting Sebin up to take the fall?

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Malis-with-malice, personality and moral reason

I recently heard that the psychiatrist Richard Malis-with-malice will soon no longer be in the employ of the Illinois Department of Human Services. It has long seemed over-obvious to me that an organization aspiring to provide services to humans should never tolerate a guy like him; but apparently IDHS is just coming around to that.

When the rumor came to me, I quickly checked to find out where Malis-with-malice will go from Elgin Mental Health Center. He’s the sort that I would not like to lose track of: there’s security only in knowing exactly where he is on a daily basis. It turns out Malis is just moving “across the street” to the Department of Corrections.

I told several people about this whom I thought might be interested. The comments came back along the lines of, “Yes, that makes sense — he belongs in the DOC in more ways than one!” and “He’ll be safe with his own kind.”

I’ve mentioned Malis-with-malice in several blog posts. He’s a fanatic who has had a terrible impact on one client of mine in particular. Until fairly recently, James was a healthy 70-year-old who loved keeping up with much younger men on the basketball court. Now at 74, he can’t get out of his wheel chair, and there’s no way it’s not Richard Malis’ fault. There’s no way Malis didn’t do this to James on purpose, to punish him for recovering from Schizophrenia without drugs.

Of course, there’s not supposed to be any issue or purpose of punishment in a “hospital” — James is only supposed to be at EMHC to be helped, “treated” for any remaining mental illness like what supposedly caused his insanity, which was why the court found him not guilty 30-some-odd yeas ago. It’s a huge lie, of course. Nobody has any useful medical explanation for why he committed his crime; and medicine has not invented any improvement over merely punishing him.

A staffing I attended the same day I found out about Malis-with-malice moving over to DOC was instructive regarding this huge lie. My client, whom I’ll call Jack,  has been stable and asymptomatic for major mental illness for many years. But nobody wants to go along with a conditional release because they think he may have “personality problems” or slightly “questionable moral reasoning”. He’s in his fifties now, and not really amenable to the idea that the clinicians at EMHC know how to “treat” his personality or his morality. He thinks that sounds like pure bullshit, and he’s right.

The big push at the moment is to get Jack to enroll in a program called MRT. It stands for Moral Reconation Therapy, which is the trademarked innovation of Correctional Counseling, Inc., a Germantown, TN based company. As the corporate name may imply, MRT was conceived as a process for rehabilitating criminals. A website explanation of why it works reads:

“Moral reasoning is how people make decisions about what they should or should not do in a given situation. If judgments about right and wrong are made from low levels of moral reasoning, then counseling, job skills training, and punishment will have little long-lasting impact on behavior. 
“Offenders must be confronted with the consequences of their behavior and the effects it has on their family, friends, and community. MRT addresses beliefs and reasoning. It is designed to alter how clients think and make judgments about what is right and wrong.”
In a previous blog post, I once noted that there is a conceptual conflict between the idea that someone is not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity caused by a medically diagnosable and treatable mental illness (theoretically a brain disease, such as anyone at Elgin Mental Health Center is supposed to have), and the idea that someone’s thinking and judgment can change or improve.

MRT essentially tells criminals that their problems are caused by lying, cheating, stealing, victimizing and blaming other people, and the fact that they’re locked up is entirely their own fault.

Psychiatry essentially tells NGRI acquittees that their brain disorder is not their fault, it’s genetics or chemistry after all, and they just need the drug (or shock) cure in the hospital to fix it.

So... do we make people change their behavior, or do we cure them? Are they bad, or mad? Should we invest in governmental departments of corrections, or human services? These are very different perspectives and social strategies.

The fact that most of us who pay taxes to support both of them simultaneously don’t really ever think about the difference... may shed some light on how Richard Malis-with-malice can just be quietly moved across the street.

What about investigating and charging him for crimes against humanity?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Research

SURVEY

Introduction and purpose.

It is often said that serious mental illnesses, e.g., depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are a result of or caused by a “chemical imbalance” in the brain. While this idea seems likely to many people in Western cultures, it is in fact arbitrary and unscientific.  Perhaps the best evidence of this comes from Ronald Pies, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University, Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and author of several leading textbooks on psychiatry and psychopharmacology.  As one of America’s most eminent and prestigious psychiatrists, Pies has argued repeatedly since 2011, that the so-called “chemical imbalance” theory was always an urban legend, and it was not primarily promulgated by knowledgeable psychiatric experts.

Nevertheless, the urban legend of the chemical imbalance continues to thrive.  There is considerable evidence that this idea is quite unhelpful for the development of rational public policies to advance scientific research, education, mental health, and juvenile and criminal justice.

This survey is intended to help sort out why an unhelpful idea continues to be so widely and frequently repeated.  It should be directed to celebrities, thought leaders and influencers who have been noticed to repeat or refer to the “chemical imbalance” explanation of mental illness in recent years.  We may publish the results, however we will not identify any individual participants in the survey.

We believe that anyone who participates will find the experience to be self enlightening and personally useful.

Questions.

1.) Do you believe that such problems as mental illness, depression, anxiety or ADHD are related to a chemical imbalance in the brain?
2.) Does treatment for any of these problems consist in some measure of correcting a chemical imbalance?

Then, if so:

3.)  How do you know about this?
4.)  Who first told you or suggested to you that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes mental/emotional/behavioral problems?
5.)  When did that person or source first tell you about this?
6.)  Where were you when that person or source first suggested this to you?
7.)  What exactly was said (as best you can recall)?
8.)  Who else told you or suggested to you that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes mental/emotional/behavioral problems?
9.)  Repeat when? where? and what exactly? for this person or source.

Continue:

10.) Recall other persons or sources who told you or suggested that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes mental/emotional/behavioral problems, as well as when, where, and any other details, for as long as you find it interesting.  If anything occurs to you that you hadn’t thought of before, or if you remember something surprising or something that seems especially significant, please make a note of it!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

CORRUPTION

This will be very short, because I’m busy as hell suing corrupt employees (overseers) in the Illinois Department of Human Services’ psychiatric slave plantation system...

A GREAT article:
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/01/08/global-health-care-corruption.aspx

Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended reading. Every point applies more to Elgin Mental Health Center, James Patrick Corcoran, Richard Malis, Syed Hussain, et al., than to any other examples cited by the author, Dr. Mercola (an Illinois licensed physician). It’s almost startling to me that forensic psychiatry is not mentioned, and these entities are not named!

Monday, January 6, 2020

WHAT SPIES KNOW (or so I’m told)

Happy New Year!

I was recently ruminating on a handful of apparently separate conceptual or artistic inputs, which I instinctively feel might relate to each other.  I’ll try to make this coherent by the end of the article.

First input, The Morning Show. 

I am SO ENTRANCED by this new, 10-episode Apple+ TV series! Before I started watching it, I was aware that it might have a “#MeToo” theme, and that made me think it would not be very interesting, there’s just been too much about that. My daughter claims that she predicted I would like it if I watched beyond the first two episodes, and she now says she told me so. (But of course there’s no way I ever remember that one of my children told me so!)

The series is promoted as, “An inside look into the people who help Americans wake up each day, exploring the challenges faced by the people who work in morning television.” It features big time stars, wonderful acting, and some of the best writing ever. The first season plot is about sexual abuse in the context of unbalanced power relationships.

The appeal for me is the realistic depiction of a common phenomenon. In high-powered, high-stress work environments, a tight-knit group of people may soon end up all having had sex with each other. (My wife says “all” is an exaggeration. Maybe, but not by much....) This always becomes a problem, because of course, the complicated relationships distract individuals from their jobs and their first loyalty to the purpose of the group. Thus rules, thus sexual morality, etc.

There’s an amazing scene, in Episode 4, I think, where the “independent investigator” and the new anchor are asking questions to get to the bottom of what happened, how the predatory behavior of a previous star on the show could have gone unchecked, what part the culture of the group may have played, etc. It becomes obvious that many people had known about what was going on. They could all pretend they didn’t know, and many of them had good reason to so pretend. The phrase uttered by one victim with much emotion was, simply: “Everybody knew.”

Second input, a Thomas Szasz quote: Understanding a person and coercing him are mutually antagonistic and incompatible functions and roles, and we all know it.

It seems to me that an implication of this is, sexual abuse or coerced “seduction” is not much fun for either person on either side of a power imbalance. A sexual relationship feels like understanding, a bodily understanding that’s often overwhelmingly wonderful. Any coercion involved, even subtle and complex coercion like what’s depicted in The Morning Show, would cut against understanding and dull the feeling. (So I relate the Szasz quote back to the TV series.)

Szasz was author of the most influential historic criticisms of psychiatry; however, he was obviously not a #MeToo spokesman. The quote was certainly aimed at coercive (“forensic”) mental treatment which yet requires understanding for any success if a human being is supposed to be helped. I.e.: any program for an individual’s mental/emotional/behavioral improvement must eschew coercion at all costs. This does not mean criminals or violent people shouldn’t be controlled. It only means we shouldn’t pretend our main purpose is to help them when it’s not. We shouldn’t give “help” a bad name.

The thing that happens if we pretend we’re helping people when we are really controlling them is, we build up entire corrupt and destructive bureaucracies like the Illinois Department of Human Services, which runs plantations using psychiatric slaves for about a billion dollars a year of the taxpayers’ money. People like Christy Lenhardt, James Corcoran, Richard Malis, Syed Hussain, Mark Roberson and others think patients are owned chattel: they don’t respect human rights, they don’t report abuse, they don’t take any responsibility or know anything.

I know many good people who work at Elgin Mental Health Center, Chicago Read Mental Health Center, Chester Mental Health Center, etc. They entered their profession at least partly because they wanted to help people. But they were confronted with the truth all too soon: understanding a person and coercing him are incompatible, and they all know it.

Third input, “Lake Shore Drive” song by Aliotta, Haynes & Jeremiah.

I recently instructed a friend from elsewhere, who needs to understand the unique importance  of Chicago as culture, to listen to this song at least six times a week for a while. (I actually was driving south on Lake Shore Drive, heading into town, when I gave her this instruction. It was a glorious day, blue water on the driving side, so I spoke with inspired, natural authority!)

Many years ago, there was a party in my apartment overlooking Lake Shore Drive. Skip Haynes of Aliotta, Haynes & Jeremiah was there for some reason (I didn’t know him), snorting cocaine in my bathroom! Being enthusiastically opposed to drugs, this was an embarrassment to me, similar perhaps, to part of the lyrics of the song: ...slippin’ on by on LSD, Friday night trouble bound! 

Alloying the natural beauty and the pure elation of driving south on the real Lake Shore Drive — the spectacular architectural wonderland of the city rising up as you come around the curve past Belmont Harbor — with such a spiritual atrocity as a psychedelic drug trip, is an example of the trademark psychiatric alloy, help with control. LSD was after all a psychiatric invention, and it is being pushed newly as “treatment” for depression, now that SSRI’s are such a proven failure. With no latest-and-greatest drug cure psychiatry could hardly claim to be a medical specialty.

That song came out when I was in college, young, dedicated to brown-eyed girls and saving the world, and wonderfully overwhelmed.

So... The Morning Show, Tom Szasz’s quote about coercion and understanding, and “Lake Shore Drive” coalesce into this feeling for me, that we humans are basically good creatures, sexy and creative; but we’re screwing things up and we must evolve. We must especially evolve as ourselves — without drugs, and for godsakes without psychiatric coercion.

I almost forgot... the reason for the title of this article. (Hmmm...)

I’m told that spies have to tie disparate things together to analyze situations. They have to love and hate, arbitrarily trust people to remain human and constantly distrust everyone to remain alive; they have to search for beauty and thrive on a daily breakfast of ugly. They have to know well what a person is, beyond or despite all brain science, all mechanics, and all force.

Watch the TV series, get an honest job, listen to the music. The sun shines fine in the morning time, tomorrow is another day.