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Mental Health consumer-talk-radio
1 a.m. to 2 a.m.-
Archived shows are available at
Remember: Call in at 503-231-8187 to be on the radio
(or show up at the studio).
Oregon State Hospital has been in trouble for some time.
This from 2004, Oregon Bar Association-
State Hospital Needs Our Help
By Bob Joondeph
There is trouble at Oregon State Hospital. So what else is new? The Oregonian’s reports of sex-abuse and hush money in the 1990s may seem like old news, but the hospital’s problems are not: deteriorating buildings, some of which are over 100 years old; chronic over-crowding with patients sleeping in closets and seven to a room; chronic under-staffing with nursing, psychiatric and therapist positions remaining vacant for months and years. And don’t forget the 70-plus patients who have been found clinically ready to leave the hospital but can’t because of the lack of step-down community living arrangements. Despite recent efforts to bring relief, things are getting worse.
Why? One cause may be state budget cuts that have left thousands of Oregonians without community mental health and chemical dependency treatment. Another contributor may be Oregon’s methamphetamine epidemic that has created a new cadre of psychotic and neurologically damaged individuals. Some observe that Measure 11 has changed the calculus used by defendants who are deciding whether to assert an insanity defense. Traditionally, a successful insanity defense resulted in more time in custody. Now, due to longer sentences and the sanctions of prison discipline related to behavior problems, a defendant cannot count on a shorter ride in the custody of the Department of Corrections.
One tool that the hospital used for years to control its population was taken away by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Oregon Advocacy Center v. Mink, 322 F.3d 1101, (2003). ORS 161.370 requires defendants who have been found mentally incapable of facing criminal charges to be committed to a state hospital or released. It was the practice of OSH to refuse transfer of such inmates from jail for weeks or months in order to control the hospital census. The Ninth Circuit upheld Judge Panner’s determination that this practice violated the substantive and procedural due process rights of the inmates and his injunction requiring OSH to admit mentally incapacitated criminal defendants within seven days of a judicial finding of incapacitation. In is interesting to note that OSH still employs a similar tactic for inmates who are awaiting a determination of their fitness to proceed under ORS 161.365.
Whatever the cause, we do know that Oregon’s jails and prisons have recently been flooded with mentally ill inmates and that state hospital admissions of “criminally insane” patients have grown three times faster than planned. Despite the efforts of state and county officials to create new community placements with the money at hand, they are being overwhelmed by the numbers of new customers and hamstrung by the need to use scarce resources to maintain the crumbling infrastructure of Oregon State Hospital. (And no, the problem is not that Dammasch Hospital closed. We would have even fewer services available if Dammasch were still around.)
The solution? This is not a case of not knowing what to do. Nor is it a case of competing interests: staff working conditions, patient treatment and the public purse would all benefit from the changes suggested by the just-released report of the Governor’s Mental Health Task Force. Among key task force recommendations are the following:
The good news is that the governor and the legislature have gotten the message. In November, the legislature’s Emergency Board permitted the shifting of funds within the Department of Human Services to support the creation of 75 new community placements for OSH patients and to go forward with a planning process for addressing the hospital crisis. The question remains whether the 2005 legislature will maintain its resolve to tackle the OSH problem in light of the massive budgetary shortfalls. Not doing so, to paraphrase hospital-speak, would constitute self-harming behavior.
The task force recommendations will take strong leadership to achieve. They will require a short-term influx of money to construct a smaller and/or refocused modern hospital and community facilities needed to accept the present residents of Oregon State Hospital. They will require collaboration among state agencies including the Department of Corrections and the Oregon Youth Authority to assure that acute psychiatric services are available for their inmates.
It is worth the investment. Transforming OSH and accompanying changes in how we use state hospitals will free our mental health system of a gigantic financial weight and allow the dedicated OSH staff to work in safer, more efficient environments. Patients will be safer and receive better treatment. The 25 percent of the state mental health budget that is dedicated to state hospitals will be more available to leverage federal matching funds. Compassionate care and community safety will be best realized by implementing a more modern, cost-effective approach to mental health treatment. The governor and legislature deserve our support to get this job done.
© 2004 Bob Joondeph
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author is the executive director of Oregon Advocacy Center.
Right about the same time as the article above, State Senator Gordly requested a Federal Investigation of the Hospital.
Another article made it to the blog Alas, A Blog:
| October 15th, 2004
Sheelzebub at Pinko Feminist Hellcat comments on this Oregonian article, documenting a pattern of abuse and rape by Oregon State Hospital workers at Ward 40, a treatment center for children and teenagers. Even worse, the hospital had a pattern of hushing up these crimes.
The article itself is a litany of horrors, such as a fired hospital staffer using his knowledge of the hospital’s scheduling to kidnap and rape a teenager. (This same staffer apparently raped or molested five other patients; two later committed suicide). The most distressing thing for me, however, is the hospital staff’s apparent refusal to treat sexual abuse of patients as a serious problem. For example, regarding hospital employee and rapist/molester/abuser Ronnie LaCross:
KATU’s story (based on the Oregonian’s reporting) includes this tidbit:
The only reason most of this is known is that sealed court records from 1994 were misfiled in a public-records area. There’s good reason to worry that Ward 40 has continued to be a home for rapists, pedophiles and abusers since 1994. The Oregonian discovered seven cases of alleged child sex abuse in the last four years that were never reported to the chief DHS investigator.
Needed security measures that have become standard at other hospitals have not been taken:
Hopefully, the Oregonian article will be a start towards getting Ward 40’s appalling conditions fixed (or better yet, towards getting Ward 40 closed down and replaced with modern small-group homes). If you’d like to write Governor Ted Kulongoski a note asking him to take action, here’s his contact information.
Some useful links:
Special Master’s Report from last February
The Governor appointed someone to oversee the process of improving conditions at OSH- this is an excerpt, followed by a pdf file of the full report:
Every organization develops its own culture; how it sees and responds to its world. The hospital is no different. Successfully changing the culture of this organization is the single most important factor in achieving the goal of establishing the Oregon State Hospital as a first rate hospital for the mentally ill.
For many decades the hospital has been under-funded, under-staffed, over-populated, under-managed, and housed in inadequate facilities. It is no wonder that over time it has become a highly calcified organization lacking in incentive to change and burdened by learned helplessness. It has been clear from working with a variety of people in the hospital that many problems have been well known and have existed for years with little or no attempt to solve them. There appears to never have been a culture in the organization that was supportive of people taking responsibility to do problem solving at the level where the problem is occurring.
Another aspect of the hospital culture that deserves mentioning is what I might call the “ward ” view as opposed to a “hospital” view. Largely, I believe, because of the original design of the hospital, staff and patients alike have tended to see each ward as a separate hospital and have tended to operate from that perspective. This has made the management of the hospital as an integrated whole a very difficult task. The centralized model for delivering treatment in the new facility should eliminate the “ ward” view and help facilitate the shift to a “hospital” view. This shift should enable the hospital as an organization to become much better managed and operated. This will be an extremely important transition and one that will be quite difficult for many in the hospital to make.
It also appears that the rather pervasive view of the hospital by staff has been to see it as a long term care facility instead of viewing it as an intensive treatment facility. These two different views produce two very different approaches to dealing with patients. The current view seems to be characterized by a general belief that most patients are going to be hospitalized for a long time and that there is no great urgency about moving them through treatment as rapidly as possible. The culture of the hospital needs to be one of viewing itself as an intensive treatment facility that is part of a treatment continuum. There needs to be an attitude by all management and staff and instilled in patients, that the hospital’s role is to complete their portion of the treatment of the patient as quickly as possible, consistent with best medical practice, so that the patient can move on to the next stage of recovery and return to the community as rapidly as possible.
These and many more hospital culture issues need to be identified, explored and new cultural norms created as needed to see that the whole atmosphere of the hospital promotes
the best possible treatment of patients in the least time necessary. The hospital needs to develop and implement a comprehensive, long term change plan to accomplish this cultural change. This issue of culture is one that will be a large component in a Request for Proposal (RFP) that is currently being drafted to bring professional consulting services to the hospital transformation project.
Download the full report: specialmastersreport
I often wish that someone would make a serious effort to record the history of this place- from the patients’ perspective. I hear stories every day that would blow your mind. I heard about the story below from a patient who has been there for decades. He was not an eyewitness but he was around while some of the victims were still alive.
467 Poisoned at Oregon State Hospital
November 18, 1942
One of the most tragic incidents in Salem’s history was the poisoning of nearly 500 patients and staff at the Oregon State Hospital, on the evening of November 18, 1942. Many who ate the scrambled eggs served for dinner that evening would later claim that they had tasted funny, some saying they’d been salty, others saying they tasted soapy. Within five minutes of consuming them, the diners began to sicken, experiencing violent stomach cramps, vomiting, leg cramps, and respiratory paralysis. Witnesses described patients crawling on the floor, unable to sit or stand. The lips of the stricken turned blue, and some vomited blood. The first death came within an hour; by midnight, there were 32; by 4 a.m., 40. Local doctors rushed to the hospital to help out staff doctors. The hospital morgue, outfitted for two to three bodies, was overwhelmed.
Eventually 47 people would die; in all, 467 were sickened. Though five wards had been served the suspect eggs, all the deaths occurred in four; in the fifth, an attendant had tried the eggs, found them odd tasting, and ordered her charges not to eat them.
Officials were baffled, and immediately focused on the frozen egg yolks which all the victims had been served, and which had come from federal surplus commodities. It was thought that the eggs might have spoiled due to improper storage, or even that they might have been deliberately poisoned by a patient who could have gotten a hold of a poison while on furlough. The biggest fear, however, was the fear of sabotage: with the country engaged in World War II, this possibility loomed large. Oregon Governor Charles Sprague ordered all state institutions to stop using the eggs. The federal government issued a similar order, and the Agriculture Department ordered an investigation into the handling of its frozen eggs.
But the eggs were part of a 36,000-pound shipment which had been divided between schools, NYA projects and state institutions in Oregon and Washington, 30,000 pounds of which had already been consumed with no ill effects. State officials confirmed that the eggs had been properly stored, and the president of National Egg Products Inc. pointed out that eggs bad enough to kill would be so obviously spoiled that no one would eat them.
The day after the poisoning, with dozens still ill, pathologists determined that the sickness and death had been caused by sodium flouride, an ingredient in cockroach poison; pathology reports showed large amounts of the compound in the stomachs of the dead victims. Five grams–the size of an aspirin–would have been fatal; some of the dead had eaten more sodium flouride than eggs. Cockroach poison was known to be available at the hospital, kept in a locked cellar room to which only regular kitchen employees had keys. State Police launched an investigation, and began interviewing staff and patients at the hospital.
Finally, several days after the poisonings, two cooks at the hospital, A.B. McKillop and Mary O’Hare, admitted that they knew what had happened, that they had realized soon after the symptoms had struck, but had not come forward for fear of being charged. McKillop took responsibility, saying he had been the one to send a patient trusty, George Nosen, to the cellar to get dry milk powder for the scrambled eggs he was preparing. He had given Nosen his keys to the cellar, and Nosen returned with a tin half-full of powder, an estimated six pounds of which were mixed into the scrambled eggs at McKillop’s direction. When people had begun getting ill, he had questioned Nosen about where he’d found the powder, and discovered he had brought roach poison.
Despite McKillop’s insistence that O’Hare bore no responsibility for the poisoning, and over the objections of the State Police, who had determined that the poisoning was accidental, District Attorney M.B. Hayden ordered both cooks arrested. A grand jury declined to indict them; the patient George Nosen was never charged. Considered by many of his fellow patients to be a mass murderer, he became something of a pariah at the hospital where he spent the rest of his life. Two brief attempts at life outside the institution failed, and he died at the State Hospital 41 years later, after suffering a heart attack during a fight with another patient.
Compiled and written by Kathleen Carlson Clements
Capital Journal, November 19-December 1, 1942
So, this is a view of the construction area on the site of the demolished sections of the old J Complex at Oregon State Hospital. Some parts that are not yet demolished are in the foreground. The walls coming up in back are going to be the “ABC” (Acute Behavioral Care?) section of the new hospital- corresponds with the current maximum security unit on 48B. If you click the pic it will bring up the full-res 8-megapixel shot. But here’s what’s even more cool- they have put up a webcam that refreshes every 15 minutes and shows various angles of the construction zone.
First off, June 30th was the last work day for my supervisor at the Oregon State Hospital. He has been a supportive and wise boss, not something you find everyday. My new boss can’t fill his shoes. My co-worker and I (there is essentially just one other person here doing the same job as myself) feel like we’ve been hung out to dry.
This is something that he wrote before retiring, click for download (word doc)
Other news at work- Next week the Department of Justice comes to visit. Oregon State Hospital is under fire, in trouble, up sh*t creek (pick your metaphor) due to problems in patient care, staffing, use of seclusion & restraints, etc. Staff have been told they shouldn’t try to talk to the DOJ Team. Especially we should not mention the horrible understaffing, mandated overtime and burnout which has not improved since their last visit. Patients have to sign up with their ward/ unit staff to be put on a lsit to talk to the Team. Some wards, notorious for poor conditions, treatment, have tried to spruce up; treating patients better for the past week in hopes that everyone will forget how things really are.
Some links to articles about the visit:
These are stories of people subjected to torture and humiliation in the name of “treatment” for mental health issues. They are found (with many others) on the website: http://psychrights.org/index.htm
On October 15, 2007, I was kidnapped, put in solitary confinement, and I was physically abused for 3 days.
My husband had called the suicide prevention hotline and thought he would get help for me coping with stress and depression. My husband was ignorant and admits that he was wrong. Two police officers showed up with paramedics. They brutally pulled me out of my bed, injected me with something and transported me to the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP). I remember being sexually molested in the ambulance, I remember being tied up in the hospital bed for hours, one doctor screamed at me, another doctor laughed sarcastically when I told him I was held against my will. During the 3 day ordeal I was numerous times injected with medication and was forced to swallow piles of pills. Nobody talked to me about the treatment and medication; asked for my consent or cared about my well being. CHOMP nurses also drew my blood and catheterized me against my will.
I feel like I was mentally raped. When I started menstruating and blood was running down my legs, nobody at the hospital offered a tampon or a feminine pad. I received no water or other fluids during my 3 day ordeal. I did not receive any food either. I was humiliated, laughed at and degraded by the staff of CHOMP. The nurses and doctors were destroying my self-worth, self-respect and dignity. Instead of simple depression I suffer now from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I am still terrified that it can happen again. I am afraid to go to bed at night. I have daily flashbacks of the trauma. This experience is haunting me now for 15 months. It impacted my professional life and completely destroyed my private life.
More than anything else it would help me tremendously if CHOMP would not be allowed to conduct these torture techniques on other human beings. CHOMP officials, the suicide prevention hotline, the Seaside Police Department and the ambulance service all claim that they went by the “BOOK”. If this “Book” really exists, it needs tremendous improvements. I also believe the medical code states “DO NO HARM”, Why is then CHOMP running their psychiatric ward like a concentration camp? Why is CHOMP restraining people, putting them into solitary confinement, humiliating them and torturing them? I was simply depressed and would have needed somebody caring and compassionate to talk to but I experience hell instead.
Jeffrey James – Death by “Restraint”
by Don Weitz
For two or three days, I attended the recent inquest in the tragic death of Jeffrey James, it ended in Toronto on October 10, 2008. Although there were some good and detailed recommendations from the Empowerment Council and Coroner’s Jury, the Jury did not demand the end of physical restraints (e.g. 2-point & 4- point restraints) and “seclusion”(solitary confinement, but the Council did.
The Jury should have at least recommended phasing out all physical restraints and seclusion because they’re forms of cruel and unusual punishment or torture. The fact is that physical restraints triggered the “pulmonary thromboembolism” (blot clot in lungs that traveled from James’ leg) that killed Jeffrey James. A young 34-year old black man, Jeffrey died a horrible death in the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto’s notorious psychoprison, on July 13, 2005. Approximately one month before he died, James had been transferred from Oak Ridge/Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre, another Ontario psychoprison notorious for its brutality; he ended up CAMH’s “medium-security” Unit (3-2) – but not for long. For 5 1/2 consecutive days, Jeffrey was severely restrained – tied down with 4-point restraints wrapped around his ankles and wrists, forced to lie on his back so he couldn’t move his arms and legs, forbidden to get up and exercise, “chemically restrained” (forcibly drugged) with the powerful neuroleptic Loxepine and ‘minor tranquillizer’ Lorazepam – while languishing in solitary confinement (“seclusion”)! CAMH psychiatrists and doctors repeatedly ordered physical restraints ad seclusion; in fact, they didn’t even examine Jeffrey before writing restraint orders – facts confirmed during the cross-examination of Drs. Siu and Darby by lawyer Anita Szigeti. Psychiatrist Siu was the last doctor to see Jeffrey, he wrote restraint orders one and two days before Jeffrey died. According to Szigeti, who represented the Empowerment Council at the inquest, Dr. Siu also failed to request an “external consult” (a second opinion) after 72 hours of continuous physical restraint. This sounds unethical to me– a violation of hospital or provincial government restraint guidelines, medical neglect, or a breach of medical ethics.
It’s bizarre as to how James ended up in physical restraints and “seclusion” in the first place. The psychiatrists threw James into “seclusion” after some nurses complained to a psychiatrist that James was “masturbating” in front of the nursing station – horrors at such “inappropriate sexual behaviour”! Although he was previously accused of “sexual assault”, James had not assaulted or harmed any CAMH staff or patient. It’s also important to point out that no nurse and no psychiatrist or doctor bothered to communicate with and understand James as a person before he died. Apparently, dialogue (not to mention empathy or compassion) is a ‘privilege’ at CAMH and other Ontario psychoprisons. 2-point and 4-point physical restraints and “seclusion” in psychiatric facilities constitute cruel and unusual punishment or torture sanitized as “restraint”. I may report these psychiatric tortures to Amnesty International and the United Nations Committee Against Torture; owever, I’m not hopeful of action since neither human rights body has officially condemned physical restraints, forced drugging or electroshock (“ECT”) as forms of torture. So far, no doctor or psychiatrist is being held accountable for Jeffrey James’ death – unfortunately the Coroner’s Act of Ontario forbids the corner or coroner’s jury from blaming or charging anybody with unethical conduct or a crime. Let’s get real here. Like coroners, most judges uncritically accept or believe that psychiatry’s fraudulent medical model is “medical science”; coroners and judges rarely challenge psychiatric “expertise”, they rarely question bogus psychiatric procedures including forced drugging, electroshock, physical restraints or “seclusion” (solitary confinement).
Nevertheless, some of the jury’s 66 recommendations were constructive and helpful- if acted on. For many years, the Ontario government has been notoriously and routinely negligent in refusing to enforce jury recommendations, especially those concerning psychiatric survivors and homeless people. One recommendation in the James inquest states that the Chief Coroner of Ontario must call an inquest when anybody dies while in physical restraints, but why limit the call to only physical restraints? Many more psychiatric prisoners (involuntary psychiatric patients) also die from chemical restraints (forced drugging), some from electroshock (‘ECT’). Obviously, this recommendation doesn’t go far enough. When a person dies in an Ontario jail or prison (by whatever means), the Coroner must call an inquest, but the Coroner doesn’t have to call an inquest if a person dies in a psychiatric facility or “mental health centre”; according to the Coroner’s Act, that decision is “discretionary”. In a recent human rights case, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal justly and wisely ruled that inquests into deaths in psychiatric facilities should be mandatory- just as they are for prisons, but an Ontario Superior Court judge recently overruled this important Tribunal decision.
In the meantime, physical restraints, seclusion, trauma, deaths and cover-ups continue at CAMH and every other psychoprison in Ontario and other provinces. Unfortunately, psychiatric torture is not and never was an election issue – it should be. Another national and international shame!
Biographical information: Don Weitz is an antipsychiatry activist, Executive member of the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), and Co-editor of Shrink Resistant: The Struggle Against Psychiatry in Canada.
My name is Elise . . .
I am twenty-one years old; however, the events that have taken place in my life so far seem to have delayed the progress of my life. In many aspects, I am still a child. I don’t believe I am lacking in emotional maturity, yet I have been lodged in a socially retarded position. I believe this degraded standard of living is a direct result of my involvement with the mental health community.
Six years ago, I began to see a psychologist. My parents were concerned, as I had been displaying signs of depression. At that point, I didn’t necessarily agree with this assumption. Granted, I was a little distressed due to my recent transition into high school… but aren’t all freshman? There was also the added stress of my choice to attend a Catholic high school and this meant many if not all of my friends from grammar school would no longer be in my class. I had to make all new friends, and I gravitated toward the kids with similar interests to my own, which have been inexplicably morbid for as long as I can remember. I do have a dark sense of humor, but when I was fifteen it was nothing more than that. The real trouble came later, after my visits to the psychologist became visits to the psychiatrist.
I don’t see anything wrong with “going to therapy.” I’m sure talking to a therapist was a good outlet for me at that fragile stage in my life. The problem I’d like to address is not general psychiatric treatment; but the specific dangers of psychiatric medication. I believe the introduction of substances like these to a child or a teen is extremely dangerous. Although I was thoroughly warned of any health risks I could encounter, I based my decision on the positive changes I would encounter. Yes, I chose to take these medications-but I was a profoundly naïve sixteen year old girl. I was under the impression that all I would ever have to do was swallow the magic pill.
I had no clue how the next five years of my life would play out. If anything, I anticipated to glide through high school smoothly, happy and productive. I had to drop out of high school junior year, despite the fact that my grades were among the top of my class. I missed too many classes due to several nights in a crisis center, outpatient therapy that took place in the morning, and eventually a two-week inpatient stay on an adolescent psychiatric ward. When I was sixteen, I started drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and marijuana, indulging in acts of self-mutilation, and “running away” from home. My parents did everything they could. My psychiatrist did more. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty I was prescribed over 20 different psychiatric medications.
As I said, I am twenty-one years old now. It was my 2008 New Year’s Resolution to gradually reduce my daily doses of Lithium and Seroquel; these were the last two medications I took regularly. They were also the two medications I had taken the longest, over three years each. I was finally clean in March, and I was so relieved to be done with that whole experience… I feel wonderful. But this newfound clarity has revealed a side of my treatment I had been too distracted to grasp. I was coerced into becoming a legal drug addict at a disturbingly young age. The real trouble came after I was medicated.
Immediately after I dropped out of high school, I took the GED exam. My score was exceptional, and I started to take a few classes at a community college. Then I dropped out of college, too. I’ve lost half a dozen jobs. I do not know how to drive a car. I have never had the opportunity to manage my own life. Because of this, my wedding to the man I love has been postponed indefinitely. I am suffering extremely high levels of anxiety when it comes to re-orienting myself with society, and I do not truly believe this has everything to do with a preexisting medical condition. The past five years of “treatment” have been traumatizing.
I have had to request disability benefits to try and support myself; my parents have spent an obscene amount of money on my medical treatment and have gone bankrupt. There were other contributing factors to my parents’ financial difficulty, though my expenses are monumental. My family and I have had to move into a house that is half the size of our old house. I am one of six people; I also have a nineteen-year-old sister, a fourteen-year-old sister, and a ten-year-old brother. I volunteered to occupy the unfinished basement so that everyone else could have a bedroom. I do not blame my family for this mess, as they have been unrelentingly supportive. They’d like me to have a better life, just as much as I do… but they cannot help me financially anymore. Medicaid simply doesn’t cut it. My entire life has been reduced to a prescription.
The phrase “If only I hadn’t swallowed that first pill…” is constantly on my mind. My fifteen-year-old self had so much potential; I was a great student, I was my art teacher’s pride pupil, I was a blue ribbon equestrian. I didn’t have any scars. For the first time in five years, I feel like I can be that kind of girl again… at least that’s how I feel. I am five crucial years behind any normal person of my age-and I am so emotionally damaged, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to catch up.
It should not be legal in any way, shape, or form to medicate children like this. Psychiatric medication has stunted my growth as an individual. The companies that make and sell these drugs have an inherent responsibility to refrain from distributing them to people who are simply not capable of comprehending the long-term effects. As an adult, I am well aware of the things I should have considered before swallowing that first pill. As an adolescent I certainly was not. A person presented with that kind of choice should have enough life experience to make it properly. Now, I fear I may never have the chance to experience adult life the way it was meant to be.
I am certainly not saying my psychiatrist or the medications he prescribed caused my “disorder.” I am saying that in the case of a troubled adolescent, certain medications should not be implemented because some “side effects” may not occur until much later in that person’s life…physical, and emotional side effects. I think drug manufacturers are aware of this risk, and yet they continue to sell these drugs without taking the precaution of imposing an age restriction. I think it should be illegal for any person under a certain age to consume medicines like Lithium and Seroquel. I do not think these companies should be able to sell them, otherwise.
I will suffer the stigma of a mental patient for the rest of my life, even if I no longer take psychiatric medication. I want drug companies to outline the emotional side effects of their product just as clearly as the physical side effects, and offer this information to potential patients who are of an appropriate age to understand that kind of risk. I wish to be compensated for my personal losses on account of their negligence.
The Truth can set you Free
Felice Debra Eliscu
The first time I saw a Psychiatrist, I was 8 years old. My parents were going through a very messy divorce. My Father wanted custody of my 2 brothers and I. This was very hard on me; it did not fit into my reality of what a family was. Divorce was a new thing back then in 1973, we were the first in our neighborhood. The “shrink” asked me who I wanted to live with. It was right then I realized that there was something very wrong with Psychiatrists. What kind of person would ask an 8 year old girl to pick between her parents? I loved both of them the same, the way I now love both of my Daughters the same.
I am 13 years old and my Father tells me we have an appointment with a Psychiatrist in Downtown Chicago. I have a few problems, but what 13 year old does not? I watched my Father mentally destroy my mother. He then used her mental instability against her to take away the only thing that mattered in her life…her children. He then married his mistress of 7 years (also his secretary). I was not exactly thrilled to be living with the woman who helped to destroy my happy home. Not to mention the fact that she was an adulteress. I wished her dead several times a day and even prayed to G-D at night to take this wicked woman away. Eventually I got to know her and she was very kind and loving to me. I liked her. She would never be my Mom, but she was my friend for sure.
While on Vacation in Mexico with my Father she became very sick. She assumed this was her pregnancy. However it was not. She was not only carrying my half-brother in her womb, she was carrying a tumor the size of a large orange in her brain. My Father truly loved this woman and did everything he could to save her life. In the end he brought her home to die. It was a terrible sight to see. She was in a vegetative state. You could see where the Doctors had cut a huge hole in her skull. There was nothing left of her, just a body waiting to die. It was a constant reminder of how I had prayed to G-D to take her life and how I had wished her dead. Of course I do not have that power, but at the time I felt a lot of guilt. I was sent to summer-camp knowing I would never see her again. On July 1st I awoke around 6:00 a.m. and demanded to call immediately. I knew she woke me up on the way out, I could not explain it but I knew. The counselors at the camp assured me that if something had happened my Father would have called. Two days later my Father called to say she had died (at the time and date I woke up). I later found out that when my Father went to his safety deposit box all the watches in there were stopped at the exact time of her death. I guess you could say I was a little twisted from this trauma. My Father a member of the Jewish Priesthood most high has never set foot in a synagogue since. One day, I went to this appointment at Northwest Memorial Hospital and met Dr. Derrick Miller a shrink from England, only I was not allowed to leave. This was my new home; an Adolescent Treatment Program. It was a locked unit for teens with a system based on reward and punishment with a level system. The higher the level the more privileges you earned. There were day patients there to teach me all about street drugs and crime. One day we stole the unit key and escaped into downtown Chicago where I got so drunk I passed out in the stairwell of some high-rise.
I would be released and re-admitted to the same unit one more time. The day patients would bring in drugs, we were allowed to smoke cigarettes it was not so bad. I liked my shrink, because he said my Father was the one with a problem.
My next Adolescent Treatment program was at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital. Same basic program of behavior modification, only this time they added medication. I did not like medication. My “shrink” was Dr. Luinbuk, a wealthy Psychiatrist from Israel who wore alligator shoes. He told me that manipulation was a positive thing. All I had to do was be Daddy’s little Jewish Princess and the world would be mine. For my Birthday I was given a “Dental Pass”. My Father and new Step-Monster took me and a friend to see The Rolling Stones. We were seated separately. My friend brought all kinds of goodies. I was returned to the Hospital “tripping” and put in solitary confinement. Many years later I was told by another Psychiatrist that the combination of medications I was on at that Hospital were not approved for people under 18 and the combination could have killed me. In both Hospitals there was this rumor/threat that if we did not succeed we might end up at a horrible place called Élan. “The last resort”.
In 1981 that is exactly where my Father wanted to put me. We went in front of the School board for some type of meeting. The School would not pay for my placement there and furthermore stated that I that I did not need to be in Élan. I could go to Public school. My Father said “fine then I will pay for it myself” My first day at Élan I was escorted to a bathroom, made to strip in front of two strangers and take a Quell shower. I was told I would be a resident of House #3. There were many Houses in Poland Spring, Maine. #3, #5, #7, #8 and Administration #1. There was also a house in Waterford, Maine #6 and two houses in Parsonsfield, Maine #2 and #4. Élan #3 was “the big House.”
The first thing I noticed was all the costumes. These were called Learning Experiences or L.E.; they were made from mostly cardboard and came from the communications Dept. Dunce caps Cigarette hats. Nuclear Reactor Boxes, Whore and Pimp costumes the list goes on. Whatever the “issue” was there was a L.E. to go with it. With every L.E. there was a sign sometimes you only got a sign. These would always start out “Please confront me as to why……..” It was not unusual to see someone with 15 signs. One night at school a kid walked into class from another house wearing a huge penis on his head with a sign in it that said “ Please confront me as to why I think with one head and not the other” I had to hide behind my book to not laugh. If you laughed at someone’s L.E. you got the same one.
There were boxing rings to beat you into submission, Haircuts where 3 people yelled at you over trivial stuff. General Meetings where hundreds of your peers were whipped into frenzy in the dining room before you arrived and when you did then would all rush at you to yell and spit in your face. Then the Director would emotionally lambaste you for hours. At the end you were given an L.E. and “Shotdown” made to scrub floors and toilets all day. Then there was the Corner for those who would not “get with the program”. It was meant to be used for a couple of hours, because it was unbearable. You could not talk or read or listen to music or anything and some other poor kid had to supervise you the whole time. I stayed in the corner for 5 months. I refused to abuse my peers. I was not going to humiliate others. For this I was severely abused, but I did not care. I gave it right back. I was not going to join a cult.
In a last effort to get me to conform, my Father flew up and told me that I was going to be there until the bulldozers came. Three weeks later he returned to pick me up; I had done the impossible I had been kicked out of Élan in eight months. My Father and Step monster tried to drop me off in Mass. It was a school for mostly mentally handicapped Teens. I told them I would raise hell and they would not take me. Unwillingly me Father had no choice but to take me home. I took the G.E.D. and tried to go to Columbia Collage. There was something wrong with me at this point, socially although I could not put my finger on it. To cope while in the corner I would use different techniques that I had read about. I was not allowed to close my eyes so I would stare at the vertex until everything went black. Each time it was easier. I would at first astral travel. After the meeting with my Father I decided to try “Creative Visualization”. I had read a small book by the same name before entering Élan and it was the perfect time to try it out. I imagined the same scenario over and over again. When it actually happened I was sure I was still in the corner visualizing it. Only after the visualization went past the point of my creation did I know that it had worked. I think I was in shock.
Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. -Abraham Lincoln
For many years I did not have a relationship with my Father and Step-monster. One day in 1998 I was given the opportunity for my Children and I to get away from my abusive Husband and move to rural Wisconsin. Choosing what I felt was the lesser of two evils I took the bait. There was one condition I had to see a Psychiatrist. This should have been a big red flag for me, but it was not. My Children were enrolled in School and were doing well. I had a job at Lands’ End main headquarters. It was located 3 blocks from where I lived in Dodgeville, WI. On the weekends I would have brunch with my Father an Step monster who never failed to condescend. I put up with it for monetary benefit.
On August 16th 2000 a Social Services worker showed up at my door and requested to see my oldest Daughter. She was sleeping at a friend’s house. I told her this. Within minutes my house was surrounded by The Dodgeville Police Department, The Iowa County Sheriffs and Unmarked vehicles, I agreed to let a Dodgeville Police Officer search my house, he confirmed my Daughter was not there. My Daughter then called on the phone I told her what was going on. She agreed to speak with Social Services. To make a long story short, both of my Daughters were taken from me that day. At the request of my Step-monster. They were put into Foster care, where one remains today. They were 8 & 12 at the time. I was sent to a Mental Hospital the very same day, for getting “Hysterical”. If you ask me, if you do not act a little “Hysterical” when someone comes and takes your Children away you really have a serious problem. For the next 2 years I was systematically harassed in an attempt to criminalize me. I think it might have worked exxcept for the fact that I pleaded NGI. I also opted for a bench trial for reasons that I will not make public at this time. If you take my kids away on the basis of my Mental Illness, please do not call me a criminal. When I found the actual paper in my case file at the court house that contained the evidence of my Step monsters report to Social Services I was irate to say the least. It said I had been diagnosed with Mental Illness and she did not care what happened to me but she wanted my Children to be put in Foster Care. Before my Children were taken from me in 2000 I was seeing a Therapist and Psychiatrist of my own choice. I was on 2 Medications. I had a healthy and happy life. I had no criminal charges. We need to look at how this is seen for a reason for removal of Children from the home. I have never in my life experienced such stigma and open hatred for wanting to get some help in the MH industry. I also have to state that this event has been the most Traumatic thing I have and continue to experience in my life.
“You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.”-Lyndon B. Johnson
I was sent to the state Hospital and Diagnosed with 5 different things. I am now court ordered to take 6 different kinds of medication and 1 more because they make me physically Ill. I have a D.O.C. worker who gives me random urinalyses. I have a Conditional release worker. I have a Court appointed Psychiatrist and a court appointed Therapist. We must not forget the Social services worker either. I never had any freedom in America to begin with. I am not paranoid I have justified fear. Outpatient Commitment is Unconstitutional, but so is The Patriot Act. Without a lawyer, like many Americans find out you have no chance for justice. I have a good cases against the State of Wisconsin for both unjust removal of my Children and continued denial of my Civil and Constitutional rights. As far as my “Conditional Release” I have a good case there too. I just cannot afford a lawyer. If you look at the statistics, people most affected by this are the ones who cannot afford proper legal representation. Any lawyer out there willing to help? Here is a list of the Court ordered Medications I am forced to take:
· Adderall 30mg. tab 3 times daily
· Paxil 40mg. tab 2 times daily
· Topomax 100mg. tab 1/2 tab in a.m. 2 tabs in p.m.
· Ativan 1mg. tab 1-4 tablets daily as needed
· Trazadone HCL 100mg. tab 2 at bedtime
· Ambien 10mg. 1 at bedtime
· Hyoscyamine sulfate 0.375mg.ter (gen.Equiv for Levbid) Take one Tablet by Mouth every twelve hours for Abdominal cramps & Diarrhea. (Because now I have Irritable bowel syndrome from the other six medications)
My first hand knowledge of Outpatient forced treatment is basic. You cannot force someone to change. You can monitor them, provide services, overmedicate them (this applies to me) and check their bodily fluids to make sure that G-d forbid they do not use any herbal medications of their own choosing. But real change comes from within. As an alternative to Prison it is of course the preferred route to go. You have to ask yourself, how far backward have we gone? Let’s take a look at my Outpatient Commitment. After my release from WHMI I was given all of the above mentioned services with the threat that I could be re-hospitalized at any moment for not following my Conditional Release Plan. This could be initiated by any of the above mentioned people. This causes additional anxiety. Knowing what I know now. I would never seek help. My “confidential” MH files were used against me in court to take my Children. Knowing what my “issues” were: I was provoked and harassed daily.
(I was also Drugged with everything from neuroleptics’ to antipsychotics’ and SSRI’s you name it! I was forced to report to the Iowa County Sherriff 4 times daily for Medication and if I was late I was charged with Bail Jumping.)
After 3 years of taking my Medication by myself, The Judge has ordered Medication Monitoring after a revocation hearing where I was sent home.
Now my Conditional release worker wants’ to hire 3 students from the U.W. Platteville to bring me my Medication 4 times a day.
I am currently taking 3 medications
1. Adderal- 20 mg. 8 and Noon and 10mg. at 4p.m.
2. Ativan- 2mg. (8 a.m., noon and 4 p.m.)
3. Ambien- 20 mg. at Bedtime. (They would like my Bedtime to be 8 p. m.)
I consider this an invasion of privacy.
There is a lot more to this story, if you are interested.
Felice Debra Eliscu
Behind Locked Doors
(Click for full size)
To whom it may concern