Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lisa Madigan: WAKE UP!

I've written previously on the nursing home problem in Chicago and the infantile media coverage. Grandma gets raped and Grandpa gets beat up by the violent felon who has fraudulently transformed himself into a "patient" to live in the next room at Summerset Place. The front page of today's Chicago Tribune features more grim details.

Supposedly Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was dismayed and angered by the "safety breaches" the Trib has uncovered. (I don't actually know whether the AG or the Trib reporter used this characterization. I'm a lawyer not a reporter, so I'll blame my own kind.) This is just amazingly, criminally, stupid.

Dammit! Violent felons are NOT "patients" to be "hospitalized" in the room next to my mother or father, no matter who has attached this horrifically unfortunate metaphor to their medical records, this "mental illness" excuse! The effective "safely breaches" are in our thinking, not in the procedures at Summerset Place.

We all wanted, some decades back, to be more humane. We decided that well, maybe some of these guys who do terrible things could be fixed instead of just punished. We theorized that maybe their violent or self-destructive behavior was not chosen by them, but was really caused by a brain disease.

After all, syphillis used to make people crazy, right? But then it was discovered to be a treatable, curable disease. With rapidly advancing medical science, other diseases that make people crazy should certainly be discovered and cured. That, we decided, must be the right strategy for dealing with all kinds of human behavior, and even with human conflict and suffering in general....

It was a very expensive error. It led us directly into the utter morass of mental health law, wherein people may now be denied their most intimate liberties and the privacy of their very bodies and minds because someone says, often with no proof or commonsense justification, that they might behave disagreeably or think disagreeable thoughts.

Yet we are not protected against violence. Our parents and our grandparents live at Summerset Place, a safe house for rapists.

We need to wake up, recognize that "mental illness" is a myth and a metaphor, and reject this strategy of medical "treatment" for bad behavior. Violent felons do NOT become "patients" who should be in hospitals and nursing homes the moment some state psych slaps a DSM "diagnosis" on them.

We need to eliminate the insanity defense and ban involuntary commitment. We need to refuse psychiatry. It's a far simpler and cheaper solution than all of Ms. Madigan's background checks, raids, and processes and reforms.

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