As a young mother I experienced postpartum difficulties and was hospitalized some time after the birth of my first child. I was medicated and electro shocked. I was hospitalized for several months.
There is very little that I remember about that hospitalization. I was too dazed from the 'treatment.' It was like I was trapped in a 'no-win' situation and yet there seemed no way out even though I was admitted as a voluntary patient. I was pulled in two directions and one was making myself believe that the doctors and staff members knew more than I what was best for me. The other direction was to live in constant fear and anxiety about the way in which the 'system' had taken control over every aspect of my life.
In recent years I attempted to write about the shock treatments which were done in mass production fashion. Women awakened early a.m. on shock days, given injections to dry up saliva, etc., and then herded together in a 'waiting' room some distance from the 'shock' ward.
After the first treatment we were very frightened to undergo the second and succeeding ones. There were times when one of the women would be physically dragged down the hallways, screaming and yelling and begging not to be shocked again.
Our names were called out by a nurse outside the shock ward. We either voluntarily walked down that long hallway to the shock ward or we would be dragged, screaming, into the shock ward. There we would 'see' the gruesome scene of other women who'd been shocked and were not yet back to consciousness. They would be moaning and gasping and their bodies looked like helpless rag dolls with arms and legs flailing and dangling over the hospital beds.
The whole scene reminded one of what 'hell' must look like! On my fifth treatment I awakened sitting at a table in the dining hall, beside a nurse who was helping me to spoon oatmeal into my mouth! That was my final treatment.
I remember very little ABOUT the physical environment of that hospital. I vaguely recall being on a small ward that seemed like a medical ward. I was regularly injected with something and told to count backwards and then only sudden oblivion. This was apparently some kind of 'sleep' treatment. Vaguely: "Atropine Ward" comes to mind.
Later, I was on a large ward with other women and this was where I have recollection of the horrible scenes in the mass production 'shock wards.'
When at last I was released from the hospital I hardly recognized myself. I had lost a lot of weight. I was very pale and emaciated.
In later years, I was gifted with the self-published book by Ellen Field. The White Shirts. Not only could I relate to the horrors that she experienced in ECT and other 'treatments' I also 'know' that 'today's' mental health services are exactly 'what' Ms. Field predicted about future mental health services.
Her book, copyrighted in 1964, was written around the same time that I had experienced a third (and final) hospitalization right after the birth of my third child approximately 40 years ago.
For all intents and purposes I am paraphrasing, herein, from Ellen's very insightful book. Notwithstanding copyright laws I am doing this in order to show how intelligently and discernibly Ellen had experienced and overviewed the entire gamut of the mental health system. What she wrote 'then' is actually happening 'now' in this country.
As follows in her words: THE MOVEMENT
To understand the present Mental Health propaganda, it is wise to look both backwards and forwards. Looking backwards, we see a gradual population explosion of "mentally ill." This has now become such a huge category, and the prospects of its expansion are so astronomical, that the idea of accommodating these unfortunate creatures in their former forced labor concentration camps terrorized by electric shock has become impracticable.
Also, public indignation is catching up....evidence has grown that their cruel methods were ineffectual. Attention must be diverted into new, unknown and unknowable ways. The "New Look" must look different.
Tranquilizers are the transition stage to hospital-less society. Terror has been removed from the foreground to the background. Electric shock and other terror devices can be administered outside as well, so do not imagine that with the going of the big detention and torture places, that the torture chambers are going too. There'll be torture chamber as near as your Community Psychiatric clinic, or even your own home. If the laws of our land grant discretionary powers to psychiatrists to do whatever they see fit, these psychiatrists care not whether their victims come to them down long corridors, or whether they merely come, or whether they have to go to them.
Thus, the ugliest part of the picture of the past two decades -- the torture -- is not eliminated, under the new dispensation. It is reserved for that stubborn minority who refuses mind-conditioning in its myriad disguises, most of them sugar coated and more apt to be accepted than rejected.
Does this "voluntary treatment" for mental illness -- open hospitals, outpatient clinics, etc. mean replacement of evil by good? Does obsolescence of military fortresses mean the world is safe for peace and democracy? If the long arm of the law can handle you as easily in your own home, as behind locked doors, it is happy to be relieved of being called "keepers."
They've stopped (mostly, not entirely) thrashing and frightening you with electric shock. They're beguiling you with drugs. You'll have to keep coming because the after effects multiply and complicate your problems. You have your outward symptoms changed, but the idea of facing your problems is as impossible as any alcoholic's or narcotic's. So the Huxley-type brave new world of enlightened "voluntary treatment" grows. But it's really an Orwell 1984 if you look beneath the surface.
Now, all of the above could quickly fade from my conscious awareness in the past or in the now, except for the following:
In 1978 my son was adjudicated as 'Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity' and court committed to Patton State Hospital by San Diego Superior Court Judge, Hugo Fisher. Court records reveal that Judge Fisher had set a maximum commitment time at FIFTEEN YEARS.
His crime was Arson and Burglary. Court records (police report) estimated the damage from the alleged arson at $3,150 and I suspect that estimate included the theft of an office machine.
Throughout the first several years his medical records referred to his mother as mentally ill for several years before and after his birth. It read like I had a 'long' history of mental illness. The truth is I was hospitalized three times, short term, and after the third time and a bill of divorce from an abusive husband, father of my children, there were NO hospitalizations and NO psychiatric meds from that time forward.
After a divorce and subsequent child custody suit I decided to MOVE FORWARD and I entered the work market and for the most part I had been employed. For more than a decade I also cared for my second husband (who became seriously handicapped due to heart problems, two radical open heart surgeries, pacemaker implants, and many medical crises).
None of these successes in my life were ever recorded in my son's records. Nothing about my full 'recovery; and nothing about my many contributions to the society around me as having served in the California Senior Legislature in 1993 and nothing about the sacrificial time and hard-earned income that I have spent on cross country advocating for the civil and human rights of mental health clients!
One can only deduce that the 'game' of the system was to impede my activities around advocacy and relentlessly exposing the many abuses perpetrated against my son and others. Even at the risk of being arrested and detained for insisting that Patient's Rights person file a legitimate complaint on behalf of my son.
Today, I talked with Benjamin Tayloe, US Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Div., WA D.C. I discussed the kinds of retaliation that were used against my son and ultimately retaliation against me. The Patton - Metropolitan Hospital's retaliations against my son, a prisoner of psychiatry.
I told him that at the request of a former DOJ litigation specialist, Steven Rosenbaum, I had sent in a large package of information around abuses at Patton State Hospital and Metropolitan State Hospital in So. California. (dated 1997 and cc still in my files, here).
I told him that information had to do with retaliation against my son and against me and my advocacy activities and also about skewed and clandestine human subject research that was being done on court committed patients at Metropolitan and I even sent in copies of the 'clinic' research protocols and named the lead psychiatrist, Stephen Potkins, M.D. who was doing the 'drug' research on these patients that were transferred from Patton Hospital!
Believe me, I and another family member who was investigating same issues around her own son's civil commitment to Metropolitan, as well as, the 'treatment' that Metro. was forcing upon her son (who was actually 'criminalized' under Metro's trumped up charges) and this young man was then tried in superior court and committed to Patton State Hospital. He was 'criminalized' BY Metropolitan State Hospital simply because the young man's mother was challenging the loss of her conservatorship over her son and his subsequent commitment to Metropolitan.
This is just a tiny fraction of the dirty stuff that was going on and what is still going on.
According to Benjamin Tayloe with the Justice Department, Metropolitan is 'still' under investigation by the DOJ).
At this point I told Tayloe that I had sent a copy of my testimony (on request from Steven Rosenbaum, Chief of Special Litigation Section, DOJ in 1997) to said DOJ headship by certified mail.
I was told today that Rosenbaum was transferred to another department some time ago.
Now, I am encouraged to send copies of all the documentation that I have retained ABOUT Metropolitan in relation to my son's 'treatment' at Patton and Metropolitan, respectively. (Covering a pile of documentation)
The cover page is entitled 'Testimony .. National Bioethics Advisory Commission, October 19, 1997.
Now, it appears that the DOJ is asking me to use my limited income for purpose of copying (at commercial costs) the huge amount of evidentiary materials in my files. (Oh, sorry about that! .. I forgot to ask if the DOJ would be paying for the 'costs' there-of ... given the fact that I live on and have my being on a social security retirement income of $908.00 month!)
And, this 'insult to injury' follows close on the heels of my having requested from Protection & Advocacy, Inc. some 'technical help' in writing up a Federal Complaint to file in Federal Court, Riverside, California! A .staff attorney had called me on Tuesday to tell me that my request could not be granted due to the fact that PAI had decided that this was not one of it's PRIORITIES.
Then, I am told by Tayloe that the DOJ simply investigates various public funded facilities and according to their findings makes recommendations for the facilities to 'make corrections.'
We keep learning, don't we? And, so I said to the gentleman, "Oh, I guess 'that' must be why the same ole, same ole abuses continue year-after-year? No particular 'party' is held responsible, or suffers any significant legal/judicial consequences for violating civil and human rights?
And, round and round doth the wheel turn ever so slowly!
These high priced administrative 'creeps' continue to do their harmful dirty work because they seem convinced that, as the wheels turn, it will all come back to the same place. More opportunity to do their harmful dirty work! Am I the only parent who has suffered tremendous loss and grief because of this kind of harmful psychiatric 'dirty' work? NOT HARDLY!
As a member of Support Coalition International I hear these stories repeated over and over again. It is disheartening to know that our days on this earth can be spent full-time working on exposing this 'dirty' work in public funded hospitals, but in the final analysis BIG GOVERNMENT is still buying into the "money is power" routines and the person(s) locked behind those walls of silent screams remain basically unprotected and used as 'fodder' to feed the machines of big government and other self-serving organizations in this bed-partnering dicotomy.
At the risk of sounding off like some kind of a nut or/and some kind of hard nosed idiot I conclude by asking you, Mr. Gottstein, "What part of this horror story are you most interested in publishing?"
Actually, the author of THE WHITE SHIRTS has passed on. I pray that she has found eternal peace! In this tiny self-published book I 'see' the woman and perceive all that she experienced at the hands of the White Shirts in an entirely different era. It was her book that gave me the courage and capacity to dare to walk back through the painful memories (that I had stuffed down due to the absolute anguish engendered in recalling that era 50 years ago) and to 'write about it' for yet one more chapter in my book.
Until that time, I could not 'go there' recalling, walking back through those horrendous times, except for once in the late sixties ... sharing it with a clergy person whose response was that of tears welling up in his eyes!. And, I momentarily crumpled over in my seat, a reflection of vulnerable and broken humanity. I could not go there in talk therapy for quite some time. In the early 90's I received the book, autrographed by Ellen, her personal gift to me..I treasured the book for it united her heart with mine and I felt safe to give way to memory and tears that heal.
Is there such a thing as a psychiatric holocaust? Indeed, there!
Since that huge psychiatric, government/court sanctioned octopus spread its treachorous tenacles around my own son, however, there has not been time or energy for dwelling on my own experiences. I have put them behind me and I move forward at all costs. I apologize to no one for being a persistent and loud voice against psychiatric tyrrany; albeit sometimes appearing too rude and to caustic along the way! (At least where some, not all, people are concerned.)