Thursday, April 13, 2023

Suggested procedure for Gus' next staffing on Love Unit K

Sometime in the first half of May, Bobby Sharpe and Stoyki Meyer, probably along with a couple more clinical staff and an administrator, will have another meeting with Gus and me. The purpose of the meeting will be to collaborate toward helping Gus get out of slavery. (I do know that's not how anyone but I would put it, but this is my blog.)

Bobby and Stoyki will approach the project as medical people, i.e., ultimately the way to free Gus will be some perfect combination of drugs to fine-tune his brain for being more social. 

Some plantation staff will approach the project as coercive persuaders, i.e., ultimately the way to free Gus will be to present him with some perfect combination of threats and controlled choices to force his behavior into conformity with others' standards, and thereby piss off fewer neighbors. 

A few might approach the project as one of changing Gus' mind about a specific pet principle or principles which they believe to be universally true and beyond all limits of value, e.g., "Love God," "Love thy neighbor," "The majority rules," or "Arrive first and strike a hard blow."

Personally, I see the project as one of real communication with Gus resulting in the accurate exchange of ideas between him and those who have influence over or interest in his freedom, so that the world that's real to Gus and the world that's real to others are closer to being the same.

Each of these approaches to the project of freeing Gus probably has some value. For May's staffing, I suggest the following procedure, to enable as much valuable input as possible:

1.)    Each person who will participate in the staffing should receive in advance via email, and acknowledge receipt via return email, a copy of these 16 "Staffing Group Norms" -

    a)    We respect one another.

    b)    We use our time well.

    c)    We are fully present with our focus, intellect, professional acumen, emotions, understanding and humor.

    d)    We are open, candid, honest and direct. We are as truthful as we can be.

    e)    We strive to understand what others say, feel, and believe.

    f)    We listen.

    g)    We do not interrupt.

    h)    We ask questions.

    i)    We engage in orderly dialogue and discussion.

    j)    We remember that we attack only issues or differences of opinion, never individuals.

    k)   We take silence to indicate agreement.

    l)    We each endeavor to look at what is best for the recipient of services at EMHC as the institution exists, in the context of the court orders that are legally in effect, even when that may not align perfectly with our own personal approach to mental health or criminal justice.

    m)   We speak (in the staffing) as equals, without rank or title, status or pretense.

    n)    As a group, we seek relevant facts, and let go of rumor, hearsay or misinformation.

    o)    We expect to learn from each other and achieve practical consensus.

    p)    We take time to debrief after each staffing, to whomever should know about it.

2.)    At the beginning of the staffing, each participant should read one of the norms, in sequence. (They should not be read to everyone else by the social worker or a host or leader of the staffing.) Everyone should participate in reading them aloud, and state his or her agreement.

3.)    All participants should further agree that when any norm is violated, the violator should be called out by the participant who notices the violation, or ideally, by the violator him or herself. All participants are charged with maintaining the whole group's adherence to the 16 norms. (As an example here, I now call myself out, for my first three paragraphs above, which violate Staffing Group Norm a, by disrespectfully calling Drs. Sharpe and Meyer "Bobby" and "Stoyki", and by my analogy of EMHC as a slave plantation.)

The above is just my suggestion, but it's based on my friend's major success in relevant circumstances. I'd love any feedback from anyone!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Bobby, Stoyki and Rache

Another dog's breakfast staffing for Gus yesterday afternoon!

I fail to understand how Rachel Nelson, the social worker nominally hosting Gus' staffings, can list out a dozen or so items of protocol and manners logically intended to enable some degree of productivity in this kind of meeting, and then consistently and repeatedly violate every single point herself! This was the second time in a row that she did this. It was not subtle, but she apparently had no self awareness whatsoever. 

Robert Sharpe (supposedly an M.D. psychiatrist -- one might think he could act professionally) and Stoyka Meyer (supposedly a Ph.D. psychologist -- same thought) were almost as bad as Rachel. The rules were obviously for Gus and me, but not for the treatment team. 

Bobby and Stoyki were also very insistent that they should be respectfully addressed as Doctor.... I can't blame them for that. After all, they're both working in a state institution where their "patients" mostly hate so-called "treatment", and only bear it as a lighter criminal sentence than prison. It's not like Gus, or anyone else enslaved on the EMHC plantation, ever came to Bobby or Stoyki willingly, thinking they might get help. Bobby and Stoyki are fake doctors in fact, at least in their capacities on the EMHC plantation. People in the most degrading jobs ("forensic mental health professional" -- i.e., overseer) always tend to be the ones who must demand respect with the highest energy.

It might also have something to do with Bobby and Stoyki both being non-permanent IDHS employees. I'm pretty sure they're both independently contracted, to make up for all the doctors who have quit to find honest jobs. I've rarely encountered such obsessive superiority from long-time, real Department staff, no matter what their position. Vic Gill and I got along famously most of the time. (I even thought I might have a beer or two with him at an annual APA conference some year, but then he was never able to attend that event.) Donna Luchetta used to tell people I was a valuable member of her treatment team. (I was shocked, but complemented in an odd way.) I could even call a couple current and past EMHC administrators friends, or potential friends. (I hesitate to name them, because they might get in trouble or be discriminated against for tolerating me!)

Bobby and Stoyki are also much more prone to lie and get caught lying than regular IDHS clinicians. Gus was restricted from viewing a couple movies this past month. The ROR he received included a credible (at least on the surface) reason for the restriction. However it also stated that this had been a clinical decision by the treatment team. It seemed highly unlikely to me that the whole treatment team had conferred about these two movies in time to restrict Gus, or even that they should have bothered to do so. 

I started asking questions about that in the staffing. I asked Bobby if he had actually known the titles of the movies or the content prior to the ROR being issued. He responded, "Yes, it was a treatment team decision." Well, that's an obvious evasion and dodge to a different issue... Maybe it was supposed to be a treatment team decision, maybe after the fact of the ROR, the whole treatment team agreed with the decision. But I just didn't believe that Bobby was in on any discussion of the issues before the ROR was signed. I mean after all, he's only on the unit a couple days a week anyway.)

So I kept trying to clarify. "Dr. Sharpe, did you actually review the specific movies, or know the titles or contents of them and the rationale for a restriction in this case, before the ROR was issued?" He could have answered no, and I wouldn't have thought twice! His answer was, "It was a treatment team decision." 

OK, I get it. He was trying not to lie, but he was afraid to answer my question honestly for some reason. I just hate it when people think I won't notice that they are refusing to answer my question! I don't like people who think I'm stupid. Why didn't Bobby just answer, "I heard about it the next day, but I agreed with the ROR and signed off on it"-? 

So I kept bugging him, until he had to interrupt and talk over everyone several times, and act really assertive and strong and disciplinary, and Stoyki was piling on, too... until we all finally said the conversation could "move on". Which meant Gus and I had no right to clarify who had actually decided to take his property away. Bobby had some clinical prerogative to lie or dissimilate as much as he wanted, because he's the master and we're the slaves, that's what it's about. I think Rachel probably decided on her own to take Gus' movies, and she later got the "team" to agree, and Bobby imagined that he was protecting Rachel from me in some weird way by not admitting it. So what? Maybe all these people are delusional.

Rachel Nelson might only be as obnoxiously childish as she has been in Gus' recent staffings because "Love Unit" K is just a uniquely treacherous place to work. I don't know what troubles Rachel worries about, or what terrors keep her awake at night, and I probably shouldn't be offended by her. Who knows? Maybe she's only months away from retirement with full pension, and scared to death it will all be ruined if something is discovered about her, like... failures or intentional refusals to report suspicions of abuse under OIG Rule 51? Bobby and Stoyki were the real liars and idiots in this case, Rachel was just a loyal but worried second lieutenant with little or no authority.

I will have some suggestions for the next Love Unit K staffing for Gus. It should be possible to do this in a business-like way, without people embarrassing themselves and desperately needing respect as professionals. I conferred with a close friend, a long-time business executive, on how to organize meetings which everyone knows have some chance of becoming very acrimonious. He understood the situation from many years of experience in corporate board rooms and negotiations, and he had some practical perspective when I described Gus' disastrous staffing today.

(More to follow.)

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Happy Passover!

Whether or not you are Jewish, and whether or not you have a Seder, Passover is a wonderful holiday. It just never hurt anyone to have the thought once a year, "Hey I remember: once I was a slave, and now I'm not." It's probably the oldest religious ritual in the history of Western Civilization.

This morning I drove my son-in-law to the airport, and we started talking about AI (artificial intelligence). But intelligence can never be artificial, it's either intelligence or not. An artificial thing was made by intelligence, or an intelligence; but a thing is not the cause of itself. Only intelligence, or an intelligence, can be cause. As we make more and more machines, and more complex machines that we organize more and more, and as gargantuan oceans of data can go into the machines, the machines may begin to seem intelligent. Perhaps even, intelligences will go into the machines. A human body is after all, a machine.

It is frequently emphasized in the Seder ritual, "And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt not by the hands of an angel, and not by the hands of a seraph, and not by the hands of a messenger, but the Holy One, blessed be he, himself, in his own glory and in his own person." It is a good lesson, and ultimately we, too, must be willing to carry out the hardest tasks in life ourselves, not by messengers or seraphs or angels, and not by machines that we pretend do the work for us.

Passover should cause us each to look around at the machines we use, to take an accounting of all the things we believe they do for us and at least wonder whether we could still do those things ourselves. I will travel to Arizona from Chicago this month, on an airplane. Could I walk there? I should be able!

What about the crazy people locked up at Elgin Mental Health Center? Could I deal with them in my own home, among my own family and friends? I'd better be able!

What about this body? Could I love and cooperate without it? I hope so!

It wasn't ancient tribes or my ancestors who were brought out of Egypt: I was brought out. I was a slave there and now I am free! Responding to that miracle means acting like I am free. I must responsibly declare: there is no such thing as "artificial" intelligence. I must constantly recognize the complete difference between a machine and a person.

I must decide TO BE. Then to assume a viewpoint and create space and communicate myself, without messengers, seraphs or angels. Nothing more, nothing less.

Next year in Jerusalem!