Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Silliness on the plantation

A client called me yesterday morning and said his treatment team at Chicago Read Mental Health Center had informed him that if I attend his upcoming monthly staffing, they will need to hold it somewhere off the unit. The reason given was that I have published confidential information in this blog.

So after I am done rolling on the floor laughing... I have to conclude that keeping me off the clinical unit, away from “patients”, is intended to prevent... what, exactly?

The “disclosure of confidential information” problem is a classic red herring. I looked back over my blog posts, and I have carefully, meticulously, avoided doing that. Any names of clients appear only because they are already public, and by the client’s own choice. For example, I represent two plaintiffs against a former social worker on L Unit at Elgin Mental Health Center named Christy Lenhardt. Ms. Lenhardt, a married white woman in her fifties with two sons in their twenties, seduced these two young black men and coerced them into sexual relationships.

This was a class 3 felony under Illinois law. It’s been all over the media in the USA and internationally. If the cases were not loudly public, there is a good chance the whole thing would be swept under the proverbial rug. Various other clinicians and administrators at Elgin (aka, DSH) are being sued for collaborating and enabling the felony, in violation of strict reporting requirements, etc. A third case will be filed soon, as well.

Illinois Department of Human Services facilities (“mental health centers”) are plantations. They hold slaves whom they euphemistically call “patients” or “recipients of services”. Maybe the reason the treatment team at Chicago Read wants to hold my client’s staffing off the unit is... they’re afraid that I could be effective as an abolitionist? Maybe they think my very presence will infect slaves beyond my current list of clients with dangerous abolitionist thoughts? But... I never even talk to anyone but my client when I’m there.

Oh! That’s not 100% true... In fact, I talk to staff as much as I can. Maybe somebody higher up the food chain is afraid I’ll infect staff with my abolitionist ideas. Maybe some of those well-intended helping professionals are getting tired of covering up for the real criminals, the overseers on the plantation, the abusers.

If so, call me! Ask a patient for my cell number.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Complexity, health care, and psychiatry

The Wall Street Journal on March 16, 2018, contains two articles, one an oped by former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm about how to “escape” from Obamacare, and the other (to which I can’t find a link, “Health-Law Suit May Boost Insurers” by Stephanie Armour) a report on lawsuits in connection with the Affordable Care Act. Cases currently before a panel at the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit may amount to the largest civil lawsuits ever.

More thinking and prognosticating and thrashing around occurs, and more is written about how to organize and pay for medical services, than almost any other human problem. Nothing gets so complicated and “important” unless it contains a lie, it’s a sure tip-off. And the more complication, the more fundamental the lie must be.

Much discussion has concerned mandated coverages. Under the ACA, it seems every policy must be standardized. E.g., “treatment” for “mental health disorders” must be included for everyone, even people who (like me) would sooner go to jail or be exiled than pay a psychiatrist or receive psychiatric “medicine”. Until a recent change, everyone also had to buy their policy, or pay a fine. I think it’s now legal again, at least in theory, to have a health care policy that doesn’t cover psychiatric services. (But I’m not sure, even though I’m a lawyer and very interested. It’s too complicated.)

The idea that not covering mental health disorders on the same basis as physical diseases is discrimination from stigma is patent nonsense. That is a rational economic risk/benefit assessment, by the people who are far and away the best economic risk/benefit assessors (insurance companies). The crusaders for “mental health parity” merely want to ignore or compensate for marketplace reality: almost nobody buys psychiatry for themselves, and they are only very occasionally willing to push or force it on others. Elite policy makers want to enforce their own value judgments on everyone else, who they presume are insufficiently enlightened to realize that we should all get “treated”.

But it seems to me that the fundamental lie underlying all off this is that human beings are all the same, and they all need and want the same things. That’s quite true for air, food and water, but it doesn’t go any further. Despite what we’re incessantly told, not everybody needs and wants sex (or at least, not the same kind). Not everybody needs and wants shelter (at least, not constantly).

An even more basic lie, however, is that human beings are their bodies, first, last and forever. Individual psychiatrists may or may not think about the implications, but the claim that depression (for example) should be considered primarily as a brain disease to be treated medically, is necessarily in conflict with any religious faith. You can’t honestly be a good Christian, Muslim or Jew, and simultaneously postulate the salvation of individuals through drugs.

The idea that all human problems of cognition, emotion and behavior can be solved by manipulating brain chemistry or neurological structure, rather than by communication alone to change a mind, is a kind of ultimate heresy against all religion.

It’s also untrue, which is the most fundamental reason why medical service delivery has become so complicated. Doctors allowed psychiatrists to follow on their coat tails.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Two Cases: The difference is race

A 28-year-old female soccer coach seduces nice, white suburban high school boys, and she is quickly fired, arrested, charged with twelve felony counts, and held on a million dollars bail. The state’s attorney promises to continue the investigation.

A forty-something female social worker seduces black mental patients the age of her own sons, and state police investigate for six months. They finally send a report and recommendation to the state’s attorney, but nothing happens for a long time.

So what’s the difference between what Cori Beard did in Vernon Hills, and what Christy Lenhardt did in Elgin? There seem to be two aspects of difference, which are really only one difference: race.

It is equally criminal under Illinois law, to sexually abuse children or to sexually abuse involuntary mental “patients”. There is a big practical difference, in that most people like children of whatever race and want to protect them, but most people dislike the insane and want to get rid of them.

In the not-too-distant past, well-intended, educated Americans believed that white people were constitutionally and genetically different from other races, and superior. Today, well-intended, educated Americans believe non-psychotic people are constitutionally and genetically different from the insane, and superior. That “constitutionally and genetically different” aspect defines racism as much as the “superior” aspect.

Of course, there is a plethora of specific history to incriminate psychiatry far more than just a general analogy. (Drapetomania and the Final Solution among other examples. Or how about the racism of the APA’s proud icon, Dr. Benjamin Rush?)

The bottom line is when Dr. Malice and Dr. Corcoran and Dr. Lieberman insist that all human difficulties in thinking, feeling and behavior are “illnesses”, ultimately to be understood and controlled exclusively by psychiatric authorities with no reference to any concept of soul, they are following in the footsteps of the most infamous racists. They are walking down that 20th century road, as I said in my first article of this blog, that led to a very black gate and hot mushroom cloud.

They are also (just incidentally) walking down the road that leads from Elgin Mental Health Center — “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” — to the slave plantation, Dick Suck Hospital, where forced “patients” are used and abused at the whim of perverted, lying overseers who sponge off the taxpayers for their paychecks and benefits.

The difference is race. White suburban high school boys, and black involuntary mental “patients”; the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office, and the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office. Two cases.

Monday, February 26, 2018


DSH Medical Director James Corcoran recently had the audacity to tell several people during a staffing, “We don’t get retribution against patients.” Well, it wouldn’t be for lack of trying. There is certainly an effective policy or practice of punishing anyone who  challenges or fails to profess adequate faith in the “mental illness”/“brain disorder”/“legitimate medical condition” orthodoxy. No matter how good your behavior and emotional state may be, and no matter how sharp your thinking, you’d better take psychotropic “medication” if your “doctor” tells you to, or at least tell everyone else it’s generally helpful and you’re willing to take it under some circumstances. Otherwise you will not get privileges and you will not get out before your Thiem date.

The whole “forensic mental health” enterprise is steeped in an agenda of retribution. “Patients” in psychiatric “hospitals” are taught, and often told in so many words, that they owe it to the community to take neuroleptic drugs for the rest of their lives despite debilitating side effects, because of their past violent acts. In other words, they should be willing to be chemically disabled and psychiatrically dehumanized, they should accept the retribution of their fellows.

One of the more interesting aspects of this is that it absolutely contradicts another point that is impressed upon everyone ever found not guilty by reason of insanity (“NGRI”): you didn’t really commit that crime... it was your mental illness that caused it, and if not for your mental illness you’d have been a normal, social person.

A couple years ago I wrote about how this contradiction is especially dramatic when NGRI “patients” at DSH are urged to engage in MRT (“Moral Reconation Therapy”), which was actually developed for criminals in prison. One of my clients is still discredited to his criminal court judge by his treatment team with every semi-monthly court report, because he can’t get over the glaring intellectual dishonesty when the MRT therapist at DSH tells him it’s all his own fault that he’s locked up, at the same time the MD psychiatrist tells him it’s not his fault at all, he just needs to have his brain chemistry adjusted by experts. He refused to pretend that it made sense, and quit MRT. For that, he’s said to be non-compliant; for being non-compliant, he remains locked up.

Individuals are targeted for retribution at DSH. Corcoran (and Malis via Corcoran) complained under oath that a client of mine was one of the most difficult patients in the institution. His intention was to undermine a motion for privileges that a treatment team had recommended to the court. In other words, Corcoran was testifying that his own people had mis-evaluated their patient and didn’t know what they were doing. Fortunately, the court took this for what it was worth: nothing. My client was given his privileges despite Corcoran’s attempt.

As I recently indicated in a letter to the General Counsel of the Illinois Department of Human Services, I believe Corcoran is trying to provoke or harass a patient on N Unit via another patient. This would be retribution for lawsuits. The patient who is my client is probably the smartest and least “mentally ill” person still remaining at DSH, but his criminal court motions for privileges and release have been repeatedly stymied because he calls lies, incompetence and corruption when he sees them.

Retribution goes two ways, what goes around comes around....

If people were “treated” medically at DSH to their benefit, Corcoran and his fellow plantation overseers would have nothing to worry about.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

(Letter mailed today)

February 22, 2018

General Counsel CoreyAnne Gulkewiz
Illinois Department of Human Services
100 West Randolph, Suite 6-400
Chicago, IL 60601 

Re: Retribution against patients at Elgin Mental Health Center

Dear Counsel:

As attorney for several patients at Elgin Mental Health Center, I stay busy enough.  With this letter, I only intend to make a record and alert you to a situation that I hope might resolve without litigation; i.e., I am not making any specific demand at this time.

Two forensic patients on N Unit at Elgin have complained to me about each other for several months.  (Patient name redacted) and (patient name redacted) each allege that the other is adept at covertly manipulating staff and other patients on the unit to his own unfair advantage.  Mental health professionals, of course, should be good at deciphering and discouraging such “splitting” maneuvers by patients.

Indeed, the N Unit clinical staff concluded (at least preliminarily) that one of these two patients is the “bad guy” and the other is well enough to be ready for release.  They apparently requested that the “bad guy” be moved to a different unit to avoid trouble.  However, the administration at EMHC overruled them, insisting that the “bad guy” remain on N Unit.  I cannot think of any rational reason for this, but I do suspect a motive.   James Patrick Corcoran, from my own experience with him, is irrationally offended by patients’ occasional choices to avoid psychotropic medications.  He is even more offended when those patients get well without meds.

In this case, the N Unit patient believed by the treating psychiatrist and other unit staff to be well has not taken meds for many years.  The other patient, believed to be the “bad guy” by those who see him on a daily basis, is taking meds.  Corcoran is purposefully trying to punish or provoke one patient by keeping the other one on the same unit in close proximity to antagonize him.  Needless to say, the tactic is discreditable, contrary to any concept of therapeutic milieu, and probably quite destructive of clinical staff morale.

Yours very truly,

S. Randolph Kretchmar


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Corcoran undermines treatment & staff morale

At DSH, “the administration” often makes treatment decisions that should seemingly be made by unit treatment staff. “The administration” means James Patrick Corcoran, no doubt supported by Richard Malis and maybe one or two others. Corcoran and Malis are MD psychiatrists, so they’re getting away with this for the time being. But each patient’s own clinical unit treatment team includes an MD psychiatrist, and it’s obvious that the clinicians who actually see somebody every day know much more about him/her than other staff or administrators who don’t.

Corcoran and Malis have an agenda that goes beyond helping a patient, and that often conflicts. They need to enforce and protect an orthodoxy which includes the dictum that every patient at DSH must comply with recommended psychiatric drugs. Anyone who’s not drugged just can’t leave.

There is a wealth of research showing that this orthodox medical-psychiatric view is not generally conducive to long-term recovery from severe mental illness. It doesn’t matter to Corcoran and Malis, they don’t read and will not believe the science. They don’t have any illusions about helping patients, but consider first of all that it’s their job to control patients. The drugs disable people who once did bad things, and this is considered good control, because sufficiently disabled people might be unable to do bad things.

So what happens is, “the administration” has a list of patients who threaten their (obviously very unstable) control, by not taking meds or not effectively professing full faith in the psychiatric interpretation of “mental illness”. Corcoran and Malis look for any way to intimidate and invalidate those particular patients, and they try to hold them back, punish them, and stop the courts from allowing them to have expanded privileges or release, etc.

Of course, this makes no sense under the law, and in all likelyhood Corcoran and Malis can’t even recognize that they’re doing it. They probably think I’m paranoid/delusional, and my clients are paranoid/delusional, and “the administration” is just expressing expert clinical opinion about patients’ “mental illness” (meaning brain diseases that only psychiatrists can identify, which haven’t been discovered yet despite over 100 years of attempts and virtually unlimited research funds) and appropriate “treatment” (meaning neuroleptic drugs, drugs, drugs, and occasional electric shocks).

I have one client who is apparently being held because his psychiatrist (none other than Dr. Malis) thinks he has a “delusion” that he’s the king of Egypt. But this patient never asserts any such delusion, and he actually does his best not to mention the subject at all, although Malis relentlessly tries to taunt him about it. My client has had some minor rule violations over the last few years, but he’s been almost a model patient for a very long time. No fights, no threats, no arguments really. He gets along well with everyone at DSH, causes no trouble.

Several years ago, this patient’s judge signed an order requiring the facility to formulate a plan enabling the patient himself to participate in his own treatment, a plan that does not necessarily require psychotropic medication. Before the court specifically ordered this, DSH had never been willing or able to do what the law clearly intends. I mentioned this order today during a staffing, and showed it to Dr. Malis (who was not the treating psychiatrist until much more recently).

Malis’ immediate, knee-jerk reaction was to pretend the order doesn’t really say what it actually does say. To Malis, it was simply inconceivable that the law could interfere with his holy psychiatric judgment. He also suggested that there may be a drug that can cure the specific delusion of believing one is king of Egypt. So who is really delusional? It sure seems like Malis to me!

On another clinical unit at DSH, a couple high-functioning patients, one of whom is my client, are in some kind of weird competition or opposition to each other, vying for approval from staff and loyalty of other patients. The treatment team seems to believe my client is the one ready for release, and the other guy is the trouble-maker. They want to move the other guy to a different unit.

Well, guess what? The other guy dutifully takes his psychiatric drugs, and my client doesn’t. So “the administration” (again, Malis and Corcoran) are refusing the treatment team’s request, overriding the judgment of the psychiatrist who is there every day, who knows both patients best, by far... “the administration” actually hopes  to punish my client for not taking drugs that his doctor isn’t prescribing anyway and has repeatedly stated are not needed. They hope maybe the trouble maker on the unit will provoke some reaction from my client that they can then label “symptomatic”.

Malis and Corcoran disrupt treatment plans about which they have no insight, and they insult other DSH doctors by second guessing and overriding their competent judgment. These two guys make an already terrible institution, a veritable slave plantation, even worse.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Easily-Insulted Tom Zubik

I hesitate to write much bad about this guy, who apparently has Jeff Pharis’ old job of Forensic Program Director at DSH. One client tells me he was a good social worker. He also has a good military record, which echos positively in the way he presents himself.

But Tom Zubik did a strange thing yesterday.

Zubik was attending a staffing and saying very little, allowing the infamously malicious Dr. Malice (Malis) to assure my client that he wanted to use the staffing time to cover what he thought were the most important subjects (and of course, his evaluation of importance cannot be questioned because he’s the psychiatrist!), only piping up once or twice to say all policies at DSH are secret, so “patients” are not allowed to actually see them or know what they really are.... One such policy was supposedly an excuse for my client being prevented from communicating with her dying father; another was an excuse for her being prohibited from reviewing her own medical records.

(Who knows? Maybe there are such policies. Maybe the particular cruel and ridiculous applications are completely necessary and logical. But Zubik flatly asserted that nobody is allowed to see the policies, thus, it’s fair to wonder. Maybe Zubik thinks he’s a colonel running an Army National Guard unit, and everybody has to obey his orders without question or hesitation. Such discipline might better be directed toward staff who’d like to sexually abuse patients.)

At some point the staffing devolved a bit into complex or obscure complaints and arguments. I thought we should move along, so I told my client, almost in a scolding tone, “Come on! You know perfectly well why procedures are so complicated here: These people have to pretend to do things that they have no idea how to actually do!”

I think that was a fair statement, or at least a reasonable interpretation, of reality. Perhaps cynical, but predictable coming from me, for anyone who knows me. DSH is a pretended “hospital” — Dr. Malice is a pretended “brain doctor” — my client is diagnosed with a pretended “disease”. And it’s not as though DSH staff are the only ones pretending. They probably believe in this stuff when they start out, thinking they can help people. The public pretends that forensic psychiatry helps people when it’s nothing more than a plantation system. I was letting the particular guys in the room off the hook in some sense. It’s legal slavery, after all.

Well, excuse me for being an abolitionist.... Zubik immediately ended the staffing (which was a statutorily mandated monthly proceeding that had not yet served its purpose pursuant to the law), because my comment about all the pretending was so insulting.

I actually don’t believe he was anywhere near as insulted as he claimed. I can’t imagine that such a strong, military and professional personality would be quite so emotionally or psychologically delicate.

Maybe Zubik had some other meeting he had to get to. He should have just said so.