Sunday, October 31, 2021

Futile Journey, from Freud to "All Brain Disease"

Former psychiatric slaves lately freed from Illinois' iconic plantation at Elgin Mental Health Center recall with irony that a certain K Unit clinician had a bobble-head Sigmund Freud doll on her desk. Freud is of course a significant figure in the history of psychiatry. He is also significantly conflicted, variously respected or renounced, for many reasons.

In the second quarter of the 20th Century, Freud's influence was at its height; but by the 1960's, American psychiatry was hoping to become a real medical specialty. Although Freud himself always thought of psychoanalysis as a medical enterprise, his libido theory, along with the several complexes named after Greek drama or unmentionable body parts, were just too weird and disrelated from common experience. (Not everybody really wants to kill his father and have sex with his mother.)

On the other hand, the one contribution for which Freud is usually credited is the notion that sexuality is pretty central to human relationships and human experience.

Lo and behold, modern psychiatry in its mad rush to become medicine had to renounce all consideration of sexuality in the new view, wherein all mental illness is simply brain disease. Psychiatrists had to be brain doctors, not soul doctors, since after all, souls don't exist. In 1980 when DSM-III was published, this was an over-obvious marketing decision. If they could cure psychosis with antipsychotic drugs, why should they continue to embarrass themselves by talking about anal obsessions or Oedipus complexes? 

But in fact the brain disease hypothesis was weak enough scientifically, that it had to be insisted upon as a strict article of faith. In this context we might explain certain, otherwise-inexplicable aspects of the culture inside the Illinois Department of Human Services' forensic psychiatric institutions.

Elgin Mental Health Center is not a hospital, where people go voluntarily hoping for relief from suffering through effective medical treatments. Rather, individuals are sent there, being essentially sold into psychiatric slavery by criminal court judges and state's attorneys who just don't have the stomach to punish them for the criminal acts they admit they committed. 

Given this actual nature of the institution, we might adapt the point recently made by Charles M. Blow in the New York Times: It is not possible to truthfully portray American slavery without depictions of sexual violence; likewise, sexual abuse of people institutionalized under a cynical guise of psychiatric "treatment" will always be absolutely endemic, as the staff on K Unit at Elgin Mental Health Center have convincingly proven.... 

The rules about appropriate "boundaries" between staff and patients would actually seem overly strict or even draconian to most laypeople, and the protocols for enforcing those rules are amazingly voluminous. As with laws and bureaucratic policies generally, the more complex prohibitions become in a particular subject area, the more it can be suspected that behavior violating underlying ethical principles must be widespread. 

Involuntary "patients" at Elgin are supposed to be medically helped... to recover from mental/emotional/behavioral problems which were arbitrarily designated, forty years ago by a vote at the American Psychiatric Association, as discrete "mental disorders". Unfortunately the 1960's hope for neuro-psychiatric discovery of causes, and advances in treatment, just never did pan out. 

Now, the strict medical model for such help, with no outmoded Freudian attention to sex, nor even any personal relationship with a therapist, is a looming problem. Any day, the taxpaying public might realize that paying a high premium for psychiatric "hospitalization" of miscreants instead of prison... is a major ripoff.

And that one M.D. psychiatrist on K Unit, with her bobble-head Freud and her faux shock over how such a thing as sex on her unit could have ever happened... just doesn't help, at all!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021


Once upon a time in Illinois, a child sex offender was found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity ("NGRI"). That child sex offender was committed to Elgin Mental Health Center, the state's oldest and most renowned psychiatric "hospital".

The child sex offender was charming and intelligent, with a handsome European flair. He was quite well-liked at EMHC, perhaps a bit too well-liked by some staff. 

(I am reminded of an old comedy routine by Mel Brooks and Karl Reiner, in which an interviewer asks a famous psychiatrist, "What's wrong with loving your dog? A lot of people love their dogs..." The famous doctor responds, "No, no, no. This man loved his dog... like you don't want to love your dog!")

As it turned out, after being "treated" at the secure facility of EMHC for several years, the child sex offender just walked away one day, perhaps took a plane to Europe, and was never seen again. This caused a stir, and the escape was investigated for awhile, apparently by several different agencies. It was strongly suspected (at least) that the child sex offender was directly aided in his escape by one or more EMHC staff who liked him so much....

The obvious questions were (and remain), "Wait! How and why could this happen? Isn't EMHC a secure forensic facility, with an ethical, professional staff? Aren't child sex offenders dangerous?"

The questions were never answered. To this day, former EMHC staff who were there, and who recall the escape, still wonder why nobody was ever disciplined or even identified as the complicit staff, although at the time, everyone talked about it and everyone knew who had been involved. 

The talk included a meeting years later in which two psychiatrists were directly told who helped the child sex offender escape. As far as anyone can tell now, neither the two psychiatrists nor the staff who told them, ever did anything. If they had not been pretty sure that higher-ups already knew, they'd have felt strictly obligated to formally report the information. So it might be presumed that there almost had to have been a cover-up that didn't end with the unit clinical staff.

There are a lot of pretty weird stories, about e.g., EMHC staff hiding in the child sex offender's wardrobe on the clinical unit, and staff getting together to skype with the child sex offender, or visiting the child sex offender in Germany.

Long afterward, even though the child sex offender supposedly died of cancer (actually it is speculated that the death was faked despite reports that EMHC staff may have attended a real funeral)... what do you know: all records of any investigation had disappeared for months or years.

In fact, one Assistant Attorney General in Illinois is apparently not even allowed to say the child sex offender's name out loud. She is required (almost certainly not by her real individual clients, but rather by their employer, the Illinois Department of Human Services, which would love to resist a third party discovery subpoena), to call this person whose name she knows perfectly well (since it's been in civil litigation documents and press releases for four years, not to mention in the media for fifteen years) only... "the-allegedly-escaped-patient".

This is awkward. It may show a conflict of interest for the lawyer; but it also sure does cause patently silly conversation during conferences intended to simplify discovery. The fundamental problem the Assistant Attorney General is up against is that her clients lie: to her, to themselves, and to the society which pays them to help people, not just drug them and hide them away. 

Guys like James Patrick Corcoran know they have no slightest ability to help anyone. So when an involuntary "patient" is sexually used by a social worker, a mental health tech or an STA at Elgin Mental Health Center or Chicago Read Mental Health Center, or when staff at Chester beat someone to death, the standard reaction is to just shift people to other units, just like the Catholic Church long shifted priests among dioceses to avoid accountability for their crimes.

There's an extremely well-written TV series with Billy Bob Thornton, "Goliath", which contains wonderfully realistic scenes about the civil discovery process in early episodes of the first season. My favorite line is spoken by a hooker being questioned by the junior attorney on the plaintiff's team, about the main character's past: "Sorry bitch, story time is over!"

The Biblical lesson is, we should never discount a possibility, however remote, that powerful, corrupt entities might occasionally be felled by little Jewish guys with well-slung stones.