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Kris Shanks

I heard a piece on NPR not too long ago that featured Pete Earley talking about his struggles to get help for his son, who became bipolar while away at college. The gist is, he had to lie to get his son treatment. His book, Crazy, is a scathing critique of how the mental health system in this country is in shambles. The old mental hospitals were terrible places, but to have no significant mental health resources means seriously disturbed individuals often end up in jail rather than getting treatment.

C.S. Lewiston

About 30 years ago, our county's mental health commissioner got the boot after some whistle blower found a memo he had written. The memo basically described how a certain patient should be induced to commit a "harmless felony" in order to get him into the criminal (in)justice system. This commissioner got caught. How many other such "mental health" officials regularly consign psychiatric patients to "jail care"?

A bit more recently, a legal monstrosity called "Kendra's Law", the psychiatric equivalent of the Patriot Act, got passed. It got passed because of the mental illness system's neglect and dereliction of its duties. Some poor slob tried to get himself committed 13 times. He knew his mind was going, in a serious way. He got put on a waiting list. No real treatment, they basically just left him out on the street. One day he flipped out and pushed Kendra Webdale (the "Kendra" in Kendra's Law) in front of a subway train. He was convicted of murder and sent to prison as a common criminal. Meanwhile, other psych patients have been rendered legally helpless with regard to their treatment. If they don't take their court-ordered drugs, whether or not they actually work, whether or not the side effects are worse than the disease under treatment, the police come and bundle them off to the nearest locked mental ward. And it's all because the mental-illness system wants to cover up its criminal neglect of this one person which resulted in the death of an innocent citizen.

Psychiatric patients need their own Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.


Your right.

That piece by Matpansula IS absolutely stunning. This man gets the beauty and horror and wonder of our world more as much as, if not more than, most of the theists I know. The fact that some (most?) theists think that you need a God(dess) and/or religion to see that... well, it's just sad, really. 'Cause you don't. A beautiful life can be lived without the belief in a higher power.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

And as for the words of C.S. Lewiston, thank you so much for speaking truth. As someone who's lived my life with mental illness and have suffered at the hands of ill-fitting therapists and psychiatric care that wasn't right for me, to see someone who understands not only the flaws of the system when you try to get care, but also understands that the system does not always know what's best for the patient... it means a lot.

Gayle Jordan

I know this is an old post, but I'm just now reading it. The Daily Kos link is no longer functioning; try this one from the Richard Dawkins website:

The Mapantsula piece is indeed breathtaking, as is the callous and disrespectful D'Souza piece.

Thank you, Greta, for all you write.

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