There’s a new post on SOAP – How to Escape from a Psychiatric Hospital. It’s light-hearted in tone, but relevant and significant in its implications. It discusses three ways to escape: make a run for it; play the game; and the tribunal.
In its undertones, the article levels a number of valid and accurate criticisms at the mental health system. These include:
– the system is patronizing
– the use of tranquilizers is common
– mental hospitals are overly restrictive
– lengths of stay can be arbitrarily extended
– the biological illness model predominates
– the patient-psychiatrist status imbalance is marked
– refusing to accept that one is sick is considered proof of illness
– discharge is contingent on surrender and compliance
Here’s a quote:
“I once read a quote from a patient who that said they kept giving her ECT (that’s seizure inducing electric shocks to the brain, widely used in the UK in-spite of people thinking it is some horrible relic of history that was banned along with public executions and badger-baiting). Every time after they had electro-shocked her brain they asked if she felt better. She kept on saying “No”, so they kept on giving her more ECT. Eventually she figured out if that if she said “Yes” they would stop giving her ECT, and it worked! This was of course recorded as a successful outcome and used to prove that ECT works; but the main thing is she was able to escape using this method.”
It’s light reading, but with a heavy message.
One of the most promising developments in this area at present is the fact that large numbers of former consumers are speaking out and being taken seriously. It is this rising tide of protest that ultimately will wash away the psychiatric sandcastle, and consign its spurious concepts and destructive practices to the scrap pile of history’s wrong turnings.
SOAP, incidentally, stands for Speak Out Against Psychiatry. Good idea!