Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Who ... me??

The Canadian Mental Health Association is hosting a national conference October 22-24 in London, ONT entitled "Thriving in 2010 and Beyond". Several weeks ago they were soliciting proposals for presentations at the conference, and I submitted the following:

Psychiatric treatment cannot apparently be separated from some degree of coercion or deception. Mental ''patients'' are generally presumed to ''need'' overriding judgments by others with regard to their treatment. Yet despite all the intricate rationalizations for bypassing the plainly expressed will of patients under various circumstances, the professional consensus remains overwhelmingly in favor of collaborative treatment models.

The problem of coercion and deception in psychiatry, perhaps more than any factor, has separated mental treatment from other medical specialties. Some advocates have frankly suggested that involuntary treatment should be legally facilitated on a much wider scale than it is, while others have opined that psychiatry as we know it would actually disappear if its facility of formal state coercion were ever lost.

Presenter has worked for nine years in Illinois forensic psychiatric institutions, advocating and litigating on behalf of involuntary patients, usually violent offenders who refuse psychotropic medication or continue to dispute diagnoses related to criminal court verdicts of ''not guilty by reason of insanity''. This niche is a dark place from which the general public, medical practitioners, legal professionals and civil servants desperately attempt to look away.

Unfortunately, the human condition shows no immediate sign of transcending violence and irrationality. Courts and other social institutions will be charged with ''doing something'' about bad behavior for the foreseeable future.

An alternate basic attitude will be suggested, 180 degrees opposite to current prevailing thought that mentally ill people can or should be ''helped'' by their neuro-biological betters whether they like it or not. Specific implications of a radically different attitude will be discussed for the architecture and practices of social institutions which we call either ''mental hospitals'' or ''prisons''.

Attendees will acquire rehabilitated purpose for mental health as a valuable social profession, and a viewpoint to inspire honest institutional innovation.

The Canadian Mental Health Association appears to me to be a close cousin to NAMI, in that their main focus is getting people to believe that mental illness is just like any other disease, e.g., of the kidneys, pancreas, heart or lung, and therefore medical solutions are the appropriate goal, just around the corner of research, etc. Of course, this is not my point of view at all.

Well, lo and behold, CMHA accepted my proposal for a presentation at their conference.... So now I have to deliver what I promised according to the description above. My talk, entitled "How to refuse psychiatry without upsetting the neighbors", will be from 10:15 to 11:15am on Saturday, October 23, at the London (Ontario) Convention Centre.

Should be cool.

1 comment:

  1. The CMHA states on its site:

    "The Canadian Mental Health Association believes that people who may need mental health care deserve the full range of informed choices surrounding the best possible care. This includes the choice to reject treatment. Self-help options and informal personal supports may complement or supplant the full range of formal psychosocial and medical treatments, in accordance with the wishes of the individual. It cannot be assumed that medical treatment is the only or best option for individuals."

    Ostensibly, they believe one should be able to reject MH "treatment".

    They also believe people called or calling themselves mentally ill should be given the keys to the Canadian Treasury. Housing, jobs, welfare, free transportation, and on and on. This bunch sounds like a cross between NAMI and the C/S/X fruitcakes.

    I am really surprised they accepted your proposal. NAMI never would. Looks like you are gaining some respect among the MH pimps. This could be a bad thing. Maybe you'll get a bucket of goat blood dumped on you while you are giving your presentation.