Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Frequent Obs

In a couple hours, I will attend a virtual staffing for a “patient” (AKA psychiatric slave) at Illinois’ most renowned psychiatric “hospital” (AKA plantation), Elgin Mental Health Center. This particular client does not take psychotropic drugs. He can be a tedious person to deal with, because he has an eye for detail and a habit of insisting that everyone else should be as avidly interested as he is, in the huge volume of details that he points out at random moments.

This guy is not delusional or psychotic. He’s quite bright, and the clinicians who run the unit he’s enslaved on admit knowing that he’s “high functioning”. In fact they apparently see him as so high functioning that he ought to take over some of their responsibilities.... There’s a “low functioning” slave on the same unit who constantly insults and threatens my client, and others. The staff (AKA overseers) do not often bother to control this behavior. My client was recently told he should be able to deal with it without help.

The problem is, of course, that the ways he could deal with it all get him in trouble. E.g., when the other patient says he is going to slit my client’s throat, my client could: 1) return the threat and end up in a fight, 2) retreat to his room, or 3) incessantly complain to staff. 

Option 1) would make my client “dangerous to self or others” and justify further, more severe enslavement. Option 2) would make him anti-social or “depressed” and justify further, more severe enslavement. Option 3) would make him “paranoid” or “delusional” or “anxious” and justify further, more severe enslavement.

The further, more severe enslavement that the overseers would like to justify consists first and foremost of psychiatric drugs. 

Secondarily, there’s something called “frequent obs” (meaning frequent observation). Clinicians on the unit are told to keep a very close eye on a particular slave and document their observations at fifteen-minute intervals. The slave is concurrently also denied certain property and privileges. This is all arranged to provide “safety”.

It’s nonsense in this case, a mere cover for provocation and retribution. This client has been on “frequent obs” or the even more severe “one-to-one” restriction for at least two months. The overseers don’t like it when he points out that they are failing to control the behavior of the “low functioning patient”. And the masters certainly don’t like it when any slave recovers from mental illness without agreeing to take their drugs for life.

The purpose of “frequent obs” here is to test my client, to see how long they can punish him for his undrugged recovery and his advocacy for his own and others’ rights. They hope his patience and steadfastness will fail, so they can say, “See, mental illness!

It’s an ugly, cynical business.

Principles of an anti-psychiatry legal practice

Following are eight of the most important things I know and have learned from twenty years as an attorney, working exclusively to help individuals who would like to refuse psychiatry if they were only allowed to do so. These points are the general principles in the absence of which I would never have developed practical and tactical knowledge, which a friend of mine recently suggested could be of interest for purposes of a lawyers’ webinar she may host. But without at least a tentative understanding or conditional acceptance of the general principles, I suspect there would be limited value in suggesting specific tactics or trying to pass on my own peculiar experience with cases.

1.) State psychiatric hospitals and state employees HATE dealing with private attorneys who represent non-compliant patients. They will lie, cheat & steal to avoid this. One reason is, they may have to request their own legal representation from their state attorney general’s office, and that probably goes against their bosses’ budget at hourly rates. Another reason is, if they end up under oath in deposition or court testimony, their previous lying, cheating & stealing (or their bosses’ lying, cheating and stealing) may be discovered. 

2.) Public defenders usually (not always) HATE having to represent non-compliant mental patients. They believe in the system, or can’t be bothered to think outside the box. 

3.) Involuntary mental patients almost never have money to pay private attorneys, so they end up with public defenders or other public (similarly state-paid & state-obligated) advocates. 

4.) Adding up #1-3 above, it’s pretty obvious why the forensic psychiatric bureaucracy seems so omnipotent.

5.) But an important aspect of this scene is that the courts (judges) essentially abdicate their own responsibility to provide justice in many cases to psychiatrists, like the churches (clergy) abdicate their responsibility to provide moral leadership of people they can’t understand to psychiatrists. The one thing everyone is even more afraid of than viruses (which we suddenly know all too much about) is insanity. No one can  think about it or look at it, and so they are all fully dependent upon “experts” to think and look for them. 

6.) Ultimately, the only way an involuntary psychiatric patient attains freedom is by first realizing that they MUST change one person’s mind at a time by rational communication and truth alone, not by threats or lies. Even threats of legal action should absolutely be a last resort. (And I say that as an attorney for involuntary psychiatric patients!)

7.) The vast majority of mental health professionals of whatever stripe are well-intended people. They originally got into their business to help others. Then they got trapped by the lies that they didn’t invent.

8.) Notwithstanding #7 above, there are a very small minority of mental health professionals who are, or who have become for all practical purposes, irredeemably evil. Correctly identifying these few “true bad guys” is the single most valuable effort, for anyone who would fight the system.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Racism, Prejudice, Discrimination: Why Differences Are Important To Me

I have a very good friend who believes (as best I can tell) that I am racist, that she herself is racist, and that basically everyone is racist. I really don’t think so, but when I try to persuade her, she quickly retreats behind a knowing smile and a refusal to discuss it because “It’s no use, I’ll never change your mind and you’ll never change mine.”

It kind of discourages me, not so much because I dislike being called a racist; I know what my friend means, but what I dislike is what seems to me to be a misunderstanding on a very important subject, and my friend’s refusal to help resolve it. Either she doesn’t care, or I’m too damn mean when I argue.

I do not believe that my own race is superior, or even different in any significant way. I likewise do not believe that any race is inferior or different. As a matter of fact, the concept of race itself seems very impractical to me: certainly worthless for any scientific purpose, a vague and incoherent category.

There was a time in Western history when people did believe race was an important biological division of the human species, but almost no one with the slightest modicum of education thinks that now. My grandparents thought African Americans were constitutionally different from white people, less intelligent, more animalistic, uglier. But their generation’s belief in race was not a product of poor education, it was a product of elaborate miseducation.

Racism itself, apart from its implications, apart from the myriad social and political actions and effects that it causes, necessarily involves or refers to conscious belief, however complex or confused, in objective (probably biologically determined) distinctions between categories of human beings. E.g., skin color is said to be “white” or “black”. These dubious distinctions then have or are considered to have interpersonal, social and political implications.

If a white person feels uncomfortable sitting next to an African American on a bus, or doesn’t want to hire or let her children marry African Americans, that is an interpersonal or social effect. It may be caused by racism; but it may also be prejudice caused by insular experience or mistake. 

I can freely confess, as I think most honest people should, to various types of prejudice. I am prejudiced to some degree against non-English speaking people, people who favor drugs other than caffeine and alcohol, Californians, Southern Evangelicals and WASP elites, psychiatrists, and people who smell like food that I don’t eat. 

It’s  hard for me to be prejudiced against other races, per se, because I don’t know exactly what “other races” are. As a child I thought I knew, because I was miseducated. However, my miseducation was not elaborate enough to prevent me from noticing, when I actually met Jewish kids and black kids, that they were not significantly different from me because of anything called “race”.

I really prefer to hang out with people I know, people with whom I have more in common. We all do. But that’s not racism. It might be prejudice. There’s a big difference. Racism is a cause, prejudice is a possible effect of racism, and/or other causes. If you can’t see the difference, you will probably believe everyone is racist because everyone has some prejudices. But any particular prejudice, even the prejudice of a “white” person against a “black” person, may not be caused by actual racism at all.

Belief in race is very similar to belief in mental illness. Both concepts are mistaken, and products of elaborate miseducation. Importantly, both usually cause discrimination. Many types of discrimination, including employment and housing discrimination by race, and treatment or insurance discrimination against mental illness, are illegal or otherwise socially proscribed. 

I believe all discrimination based on erroneous concepts (e.g., “race” and “mental illness”) should be discouraged. But society cannot easily tell people what to believe and how to feel. Attempts to do that are propaganda, persuasion, public relations. It is more decisive to tell people what to do or not do. That’s law. The useful target is behavior, not belief or feelings. 

The present-day cult of confession of universal “racism” (maybe not quite universal, but certainly universal among all white people who don’t confess) is a serious impediment to understanding. Racism needs to be identified for what it actually is before it can be prevented from causing discrimination, volatile hatred, social conflict, violence, war. What it actually is, is the theory or conceptual error of defining a human individual by his or her biological, animal body.

Psychiatry does the same thing. Throughout its history, racism was endemic to it; psychiatrists actually led the way in developing the legal justifications and the methods of the Holocaust. Unwillingness to know about these things, and reluctance to learn more about them by discussing them with others, upsets me, in no small part because my children and grandchildren are Jewish.

We cannot be successful (and we shouldn’t want to try) teaching our children that it’s wrong to favor their own family, their own school, their own group. Prejudice and loyalty cannot be outlawed. There are few interesting games without opponents. But many forms of discrimination can and must be outlawed. Racial injustice and psychiatry are two peas in that pod.