Sexual Abuse, Mohawk Mom, and the Good Life


Good morning, peeps.  It’s been too long since I posted, so here’s an update on what I’ve been doing:

First, an allegation has been made that a therapist is sexually abusing his patients.  I do not know if this is true or not but I am working hard to find out.  If true, it will be posted here.

Second, I’m working on the case of the Mohawk Moms.  At the Empathic Therapy Conference, two women met who both have adult sons at Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center in Rome, N.Y.  Neither woman is being allowed free access to her son.

In one case, the Mohawk Mom’s son has been going back and forth between the hospital and a group home affiliated with the hospital.  Just before the last hospitalization from which he was discharged home with his mom, the man was put on a high dose of Seroquel. The Seroquel caused extreme hallucinations and combativeness so severe that, at home, his mother had to call the police.

Since the Seroquel was withdrawn, there have been no problems.  The man has lived with his mother for sixteen years without assault and she is not afraid of him.  She is, however, afraid of the drugs he is being given and wants to get him to a doctor outside of Mohawk Valley, which is a state hospital.

However, back in the hospital, the doctor decided to limit the mother’s access to her son on the grounds that she was at risk of injury.  The mom was limited to three fifteen-minute visits each week with an aide in the room taking notes.  There are no reports of the man engaging in threatening behavior in the hospital.

At the outset of his latest hospitalization, the son had signed the paper that his mother was to be given full access to information about him.  One day she met with the doctor.  The next day the doctor discharged her son to the group home.  The doctor had not told the mom her son was being discharged.

Now that he is in the group home, Mom is only allowed to visit with her son twice a week and she has to go to the hospital to do it.  The group home transports the son back to the hospital to meet with his mother.  He has refused to go to meet his mother and she thinks it is because he strongly opposes going back to the hospital, not because he doesn’t want to see her.

The group home director has told the mother that he will have her arrested for trespassing if she attempts to visit her son at the group home.  Other patient’s relatives are allowed to freely visit at the home.

The Mental Hygiene Legal Service and Legal Aid will not work on behalf of the mother.  They will only work for the patient.  The problem is that the “patient”—this woman’s son—is passive and compliant, whether from his diagnosed illness or from the multiple drugs prescribed for it, or from some other reason, is unknown.  The man does not manage his own financial affairs but having him declared incompetent would result in him becoming totally under government jurisdiction, which is opposite the desired direction.

When the mom contacted the NYS Commission on Quality of Care, they referred her back to the hospital that is refusing to let her see her son.  Officially, the statement is that the hospital can restrict visiting for clinical reasons.  The example given was that if the patient is doing well but receiving visits from a parent who is a religious fanatic and causing the patient to become upset then the hospital can restrict visits.  However, the apparent original reason for restricting visits in this case was the undocumented idea that the mother needed to be protected. 

It is my personal opinion that the hospital finds it easier to “manage” patients—said management usually meaning prescribing excessive numbers and dosages of drugs—if no competent adult is allowed access to the patient.  In my dealings with the mom, I have found her to be reasonable, “appropriate” (I hate that word, which is one used by the psychiatric industry), polite and responsible.  She’s a nice lady who’s upset about the way she and her son are being treated.  I also have found her to be a woman who wants her son to be given fewer drugs and have a better doctor than what Mohawk Valley supplies.  In short, she seems to be a good mother working for her son against a bad state system.

I will continue to work for the Mohawk Mom to have the usual degree of access to her son, and keep you posted.

Third and finally, I haven’t been writing posts because I’ve been engaging in healthy living.  I know it’s my job to help clean up the psychiatric mess, but the whole point of psychiatry is supposed to be healthy living, right?  So, dudes and dudettes, I’ve been living.

It is that brief, blessed season of good weather, so I am wheeling outside about twice a day—out of my little apartment and into the big world.  Well, okay, my wheelchair radius is only a mile and a half, but it’s better than being alone inside.  Every evening I wheel to the park and work in the rose garden.  I get out of my chair and pull weeds, which is to say that I stoop, bend, stretch and get a good workout.  I am now able to do fifteen minutes a day.  Also, I have joined a weekly yoga group, which is giving me good dreams, and isn’t that a blessing?

In recent weeks, I’ve been to a downtown crawfish festival, a church’s strawberry festival, and Syracuse University’s commencement.  I’ve been out to see The Avengers and Men in Black III, and been to a couple of Scrabble meet-ups.  I go to the regional farmers market, which I love, and do other shopping (just found a gray-and-white striped shirt to go with my gray pants, and it was on sale).

Last night I met my aide, her boyfriend, and his kids to listen to his mother do a jazz performance at the Sheraton Hotel. I’ve got interesting stuff scheduled for today and tomorrow, even if I’m not momentarily sure what those things are—Taste of Syracuse?  The Westcott Art Trail?  Something at the Everson Museum?  And the Monday and Wednesday evening outdoor concerts in Liverpool have resumed.

In short, life is good, I’m enjoying it, and right now I’m not doing much writing.  However, I am still keeping up the good fight.  I hope you, too, are enjoying the good life and keeping up the just fight.

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About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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