Do you know what would happen if they stopped drugging people on inpatient psychiatric units? I woke at 4:00 a.m. this morning and laid here in the darkness, my head filled with memories of inpatient psychiatric experiences. It’s there; it’s there all the time, in my head, ricocheting around. Presumably I had been dreaming about it. One of the functions of dreams is to try to make sense of life experiences, to try to cohere what has happened. I loved my sisters deeply and now we are estranged; I dream about that a lot. How can you make sense of love and separation?
And so I dream about inpatient psychiatry. How can you make sense—how can you make a coherent whole—out of the parts of inpatient psychiatry? It was supposed to help. It’s a hospital. They’re supposed to take care of you and make you feel better. Instead, what I experienced was life-threatening degradation. The meanest, most awful things in my life were done to me—according to my tormentors—to make me better. How can this be? And, more importantly, what do I do about it?
I sit here now, awaiting the sunrise, and struggling with depression.
- Fact: Depression is triggered by the perception of powerlessness.
- Fact: When you are locked down on inpatient psychiatry and don’t have a key—when you can neither fight nor flee—then you are, in fact, powerless.
- Fact: You need power to ensure the health and safety of your body and soul.
- Fact: On inpatient psychiatry, I was without power.
- Fact: You get angry when you are without power.
- Fact: I feel enormous anger against all the people involved in psychiatric hospitalizations—the administrators, doctors, nurses, aides, and so on.
- Fact: Unexpressed anger becomes depression.
Question: To whom am I supposed to express my anger? Anger should be controlled, focused and directed toward those who are endangering you. It should be used to restore safe boundaries.
The last time I was hospitalized was eight or nine years ago. But in the decades before that, I was hospitalized about fifty times. The memories don’t go away; the nightmares don’t stop. The damage was deep and horrific.
Dr. Peter and Mrs. Ginger Breggin talk about the damage that drugs do. They are missing the worst thing they do: they put you on inpatient psychiatry. Without drugs, you can’t run an inpatient psych unit. It would be total bedlam—the craziest of the crazy, running wild. You know what would happen if they stopped drugging people on psych units? In two weeks, the staff would have quit and the unit would be run by armed security guards.
Do not for one second be misled into thinking inpatient psychiatry is about healing. It is the prison unit of the hospital. Where else are patients strip-searched, deprived of all their belongings, held captive behind locked doors, and ordered around by immature, uneducated guards—er, aides? Every night rooms are searched. Disruptive people are tied hand-and-foot to their beds—it’s called “four-point restraint.”
Without drugs that dull your mind, make you apathetic, and compromise your capacity for critical thought, who would put up with this?
In the name of God and healing, who would voluntarily stay on an inpatient psychiatric unit if they weren’t drugged into submission?