Under the Law


From glj: 

I agree [with “Being ‘Disappeared’ into CPEP” https://behindthelockeddoors.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/being-disappeared-into-cpep-part-iv/ ], my mom was just admitted to a 72-hour program again and they won’t tell us anything.  For a majority of the day today I tried to hold in my tears because I had no idea where she was.  My grandma (her mom) called me crying hysterically that she had just taken the car out and she had been out for a majority of the day.  

Since the night before when I visited her she was unresponsive and in a cataleptic [insensible] state I found it hard to believe that she just got up and left.  But she did, she went to get cigarettes, but clearly she was taken after that.  Her car is still somewhere in town and I have to go with my dad to find it.  Imagine that, I bet you they took her right there, imagine how scary that must be and embarrassing.  I feel so bad, I know she needed it, but it could have been in the comfort of her home.  And they should have told us.  Finally when we found out my dad and her brothers called frantically to find out what went on, they won’t tell us a thing.  

I’m so scared for her, I know she needs help, but I still want her to know that everything will be okay and I need to know what they do there so afterwards we can follow up or get feedback on what to do or what not to do.  They need to release more info because we have no contact with her, which we understand for her sake, but they need to be more responsive and let us know progress and if she was even there.  

When this happened when we were younger they wouldn’t even tell my dad what was wrong with her, only that schizophrenia was the least of her problems, so who was to say if we could deem her responsible to watch us?  My dad didn’t know if she posed a threat (which she did) and he had no idea if she was on meds, or if she needed to, or anything.  I think this is terrible what they can withhold. I miss you mom; feel better

Reply to glj:

The first problem here is three generations of a family without a single responsible adult—everybody running around “frantically” and “hysterically.”  Mom has been in trouble for a long time and has a history of psychiatric problems but nobody’s been dealing with it.

If Mom is weird and dangerous then get her help.  The best possible help is a psychologist who is smart enough to figure out what’s wrong but not give her drugs.  Hopefully she or he won’t refer Mom to a psychiatrist for medication.  Meds will only make things worse, not better.

I really cannot fathom the nature of a society in which people don’t help each other.  One of the on-campus multiple killings was done by a student who lived in a dorm suite with three or four other guys.  They all knew that this guy was weird and acting strangely but nobody even told the resident advisor.  If somebody is behaving in a really weird and creepy way, tell a responsible adult.

I once lay in my dorm-room bed with my face to the wall, planning my suicide, for three days.  My roommate finally asked if I was all right.  I said “no.”  She said, “Oh” and walked away.  If somebody acts like they are in trouble then they are in trouble:  tell a grown-up. 

The reason Mom got picked up on the street and taken somewhere—presumably to a CPEP (New York State’s Community Psychiatric Emergency Program, i.e., a psychiatric emergency room)—was because nobody got help for her at home.  Folks, you cannot just bury your head and hope things will get better.  They usually get worse, so deal with it sooner rather than later.  You knew she “needed to be taken” and it would have happened “in the comfort of her home” if you’d taken action.

In a righteous world, the police should have notified next-of-kin, but was Mom carrying any identification?  They certainly could have run her license plate number and gotten the home address but police tend more toward being bullies and less toward being compassionate care providers.  It’s so much easier to lock up people in jail or CPEP than to sort out the real human problems.

Again, in a righteous world, when Mom got to CPEP then somebody should have notified next-of-kin.  I am perpetually appalled that emergency psychiatric workers—and the law—block the notification of next-of-kin.  This is just one more example of how the medical model is entirely inappropriate for use with people who have lost their minds.

People who literally do not know their own names get locked up in psychiatry and no attempt is made to notify people who are significant in the patient’s life.  When an insensible person arrives in emergency psychiatry then, as soon as the person is determined to be clinically incompetent (in no more than eight hours) the person immediately should get a temporary legal representative and an investigation should be done to identify the important people in the patient’s life.

Then some competent adult in the patient’s life should be notified!  We are not a civilized society if a person who is out of her mind can be picked up on the street by police, locked up in a facility, and not have a friend or family member be notified.  That reeks of the Soviet gulag.  In prison you get one phone call; in CPEP you don’t.  I knew a fellow who thought he was a 14th century saint and went around wrapped in bed sheets.  Do you think that giving him a phone call would have done any good?

A person has the right to defend themselves against being picked up by the police and incarcerated (in Canada, patients on inpatient psychiatry are honestly referred to as “inmates”) but how is a patient to do that when they are mentally incompetent?  If mental illness has nullified a person’s ability to represent herself then a competent adult must be appointed—and it must be done before the first dose of medication is administered, not thirty days down the line.

What gives the medical industry the right to subject a human being to forced drugging or shock treatment?  Mental health law?  Mental health law is a compendium of violations of a citizen’s civil rights under the Constitution.

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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
This entry was posted in CPEP, Inpatient psychiatry, mental illness, patient, psychiatric patient, psychiatry. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Under the Law

  1. Grasshipper says:

    Why are you giving advice? Your own family wants nothing to do with you and has forgotten you. You are a totally mean-spirited woman who has alienated everyone you have come into contact with.

    • annecwoodlen says:

      As a manager recently explained to me, lower-class people don’t “get” what I’m doing; presidents, directors and CEOs do. The irony is that I’m improving the lives of the people who attack me.

  2. Feminist Rag says:

    I hope to hell they’re not electroshocking his poor mother. And outrageous that mom was taken/is being held more or less in secrecy without notifying family. You know Nothing Good is going on when there is secrecy. If everything was on the up and up, transparency would be the natural process.

    “What gives the medical industry the right to subject a human being to forced drugging or shock treatment? Mental health law? Mental health law is a compendium of violations of a citizen’s civil rights under the Constitution.” ——> TRUTH!! Their self-appointed “right” comes from unfounded entitlement and delusions of grandeur.

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