Jolijn Santegoeds – Why forced psychiatric treatment must be prohibited

https://tekeertegendeisoleer.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/why-forced-psychiatric-treatment-must-be-prohibited/

Translation of Dutch article “Waarom gedwongen GGZ behandeling verboden moet worden”

Why forced psychiatric treatment must be prohibited
29 March 2016, by Jolijn Santegoeds, founder of Stichting Mind Rights[1], Co-chair of World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP)[2], board member of European Network of (Ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP)[3]

Click here to download the article:
Why forced psychiatric treatment must be prohibited_29 March 2016

 

For centuries there has been resistance against forced admission in institutions, confinement in isolation cells, tying persons up with fixation-straps, the forced administration of medication, forced electroshocks, and other forced psychiatric treatments.

Coercion is not care
Coercion is one of the most horrific things that people can do to each other, while good care is actually one of the best things that people can offer to each other. There is a fundamental difference between coercion and care.

Coercion works countereffective to wellbeing, and leads amongst others to despair, fear, anger and grief for the person concerned. During coercion the voice of the person is ignored, and their boundaries are not respected. Coercion does not lead to more safety, or recovery of mental health. On the contrary: By suffering, powerlessness, and a lack of support, the risks for increasing psychosocial problems and escalation increase. Coercion is the opposite of care.

Coercion means a lack of care
Forced psychiatric interventions are not a solution, but are a problem for mental health care. For a long time, the existence of forced treatments, which enables caregivers to turn their back to the crisissituation and leave the person behind without actual support, is undermining the real development of good care practices.

Good care is possible
Good care can prevent coercion. By a respectful attitude and good support, problems and escalation can be prevented successfully, which makes coercion obsolete[4]. Real care is possible.

Efforts are needed
Despite the fact that all stakeholders in Dutch mental health care want to ban coercion[5], the total number of the use of coercion (the number of  legal measures RM and IBS) is rising annually. There are however specific initiatives to reduce coercion at various locations, such as the development of HIC (High/Intensive Care psychiatry)[6], where they aim to prevent solitary confinement by enabling intensive support. On the other hand there is an enormous rise in outpatient coercion (conditional measures), as well as in incidents with “confused people”. It has been concluded a number of times, that the practices are “persistent”, and that the culture is “hard to change”.

Learning from history
Europe has a long history of xenophobia against persons with psychosocial problems. Ever since the 15th century there have been special prison-like “madhouses”, where persons were chained and locked up like beasts, and exorcisms were common. After the discoveries of Charles Darwin and the Renaissance (17th and 18th century), the medical sector started to arise, followed by the arrival of the first Dutch Lunacy-law in the 19thcentury, which arranged “admission and nursing of lunatics in mental hospitals”, with the goal to provide “more humane” care as compared to the madhouses. The young medical science comprised a diversity of perceptions, and in the 20th century a lot of experiments followed, such as hot and cold baths, lobotomy, electroshock and so on. The “special anthropology”[7] or racial-science and eugenics, focussed on the search for the perfect human being, and “racial hygiene” to “avoid deterioration of the race”, openly doubting the capacities of certain populations, which resulted in genocide which didn’t spare psychiatric patients (WOII).

After these dark pages in history, universal declarations of human rights were established, emphasizing the value of each human being, and gradually the community became more tolerant. However, psychiatry hardly changed and held on to the questionable and experimental foundation, with confinement, regulation regimes, and experimental treatment methods as the unchanged core of the treatment range. Currently, efforts are still made to force persons into behavioural changes with the argument that they are “incapable of will” themselves, and not able to express preferences. This is absolutely incorrect: Every person sends signals. The challenge is to deal with that in a good way. Real care notices the person behind the behaviour. Professional care is something totally different than primitive repression of symptoms.

It is time to draw a line. It is urgently needed to recognize that mental health care got on a wrong track by history. Harsh ‘correction’ of persons until they are found ‘good enough’ is not a righteous goal of mental health care. It should be about wellbeing. Coercion is a revealed mistake of mental health care. Innovation is needed.

Worldwide need for coercion-free care
All over the world forced treatment exists. Extremely atrocious images are known from poorer parts of the world, with chained people for example in Asia[8] and Africa[9], but also in our own country with Brandon[10] and Alex[11]. As long as the western world keeps claiming that coercion is the same as good care, these scenes will be harder to ban, especially since several countries have high expectation of the western approach. It is important to come up with good solutions in the world wide search for coercion-free care.

Call by the United Nations
Since 2006, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)[12]exists, which illustrates that a worldwide change is needed towards persons with disabilities. Several UN mechanisms clarify that coercion in care is a violation of human rights[13][14][15][16], also when it comes to the Netherlands[17][18]. A change is needed.

What’s next?
This is an important question.
What do we want now? Are we finally going to make it really right?
Are we going to show ourselves from our best sides?

A real change of culture is needed. Mental health care needs to reinvent itself, and put an end to the confinement and the use of coercion. Good care is possible.

“Yes but it is not possible…”
Commonly heard reactions are “These are good ideals, but not realistic” or “There is no other way, because the system isn’t supportive” or “The community is totally not ready for this”. The implicit assumption that a culture change would be ”unrealistic”, indicates limited perspective, hope and ambition. The system is in our hands. We are the current generation. Change is possible. The world is changing constantly. Also mental health care can change[19][20], as can the public opinion. We are not powerless or insensitive. Efforts are needed to make the world better and nicer together. We can do that.

Change can feel scary. Without positive history or good practices elsewhere it may be a bit harder to imagine that everything can be different, but this cannot be a reason to just give up immediately. We do not question ourselves whether stopping all hunger in the world is realistic before we start with that. Every person counts. Real care is possible and needs to be realized, also in acute and complex crisis situations. Practices of abuse need to stop instantly. This is the task that has been given to our generation. It is worth to unite all our efforts to make the historical shift from exclusion to inclusion.

Also the remark “Yes but coercion is needed, as long as there are no alternatives”  needs to be refuted here. Coercion is not care, but it is abuse, and there is no valid excuse for abuse. Coercion is never needed. Good care is needed.

Making human rights a reality
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) gives a momentum for change. If everyone cooperates now, throughout all layers of the system, then the intended change gets an unprecedented impulse. The articles of the UN-Convention offer a guidance, which enables worldwide coherent action. The UN Convention offers vast opportunities to change the world.

Together we can ban forced psychiatric treatments. When there’s will, there’s a way. In history, confinement was put central, and by now we know better. So we have to do better too. A largely unexplored world is ahead of us.

Key points
It is not easy to change the mental health care system, and the confidence in mental health care doesn’t restore without efforts. Several things are necessary to change the situation sustainably:

-Realise good care
The old fashioned psychiatry is not founded on human rights, diversity and inclusion, but on xenophobia and exclusion. Science has focussed so far on homogenising the community, and attempts to change the people (a bodice and check box mentality). Modern mental health care should focus on enabling a heterogeneous and  diverse community, by creating the right conditions in the community and to enable self-determination, liberty and inclusion, so that everyone can be happy and live a fulfilling life in our community. A fundamental reform is needed in mental health care.

Wellbeing – or mental health – is a very personal intrinsic value, which cannot be produced by coercion. Recovery from psychosocial problems is not an isolated process of the person concerned, but is closely intertwined with the social context of the person, such as chances in life, social acceptance and inclusion. The range of care needs to be reviewed fully, and adapted to the requirements of today.

Deprivation of liberty needs to be stopped immediately. The organization of care of good quality is necessary and urgent, and cannot be postponed any longer. The previous guidelines under the law BOPZ of 1994 to use coercion “as little as possible” and “as short as possible” have failed obviously, and the numbers on the use of coercion (legal measures RM and IBS) continuously keep on rising annually, and have more than doubled in the past 10 years. This trend is unacceptable, and therefore something really needs to change now. A need for support cannot be a reason for deprivation of liberty. Good care is possible.

Without good care, the mess will only transfer. It is absolutely necessary to make all possible efforts right now to provide care of good quality, including good care in crisis situations.

– Legislation: prohibit coercion, arrange care
The legislation on forced psychiatric treatments needs to be changed. The goal of mental health care is not: Treating vulnerable persons in a rough way, but the goal is to provide good care, also in crisis situations. A transition is needed.

The lunacy law dates from 1841, from a time when the medical profession was absolutely in it’s infancy. The law BOPZ of 1994, and also the law proposal on Mandatory Mental Health Care (recent) have a similar structure of legal measures RM and IBS, and resp. confinement and forced treatment form the core. This system is not founded upon awareness of human rights, and it is not about care of good quality, and it has to change.

Forced treatment is abuse. Legislation needs to protect all citizens from abuse. When the government participates in the abuse against certain groups, this is torture[21][22], which is absolutely prohibited. The laws on coercion, such as BOPZ and the law proposal on Mandatory Mental Health Care are therefore unacceptable.

Legislation is meant to offer a fair framework for the community. A prohibition of forced treatments is necessary because of human rights[23]. Additionally, certain legislation can speed up the provision of good care and organize innovation[24]. It is possible to create laws that are really useful to the community. Wouldn’t that be great?

– Compensation: Recognize the seriousness
For years and years, the government and countless caregivers have taken over the lives of psychiatric patients, and forcefully subjected them to “care”, such as horrible forced treatment, isolation cells, forced medication, restraint-belts, electroshocks, all motivated by so-called “good intentions”. The sincerity of those responsible can now prove itself by genuine recognition of the suffering that many had to endure. A compensation would be appropriate: When you break something you have to pay for it. We consider that very normal.

* Apologies are needed to recover the relation between (ex-) users and caregivers.
* Recognition of the trauma’s by coercion, and support in overcoming these if desired.
* Compensation to show that the change of attitude is genuine.

Now it’s time to show that the Netherlands is indeed a civilized country.

Take action
I would like to call on everyone to contribute to the change in culture. Let’s ensure together that human rights will be realized for every human being, and that old-fashioned psychiatry disappears, and that mental health care only comprises good care.

Please spread this message to raise awareness.

 

**

To reinforce the above plea, I have attached a description of my personal experiences with forced psychiatry, which can be found via this link:

“16 years old, depressed and tortured in psychiatry – A testimony on forced psychiatric interventions constituting torture and ill-treatment”

 

**

This publication is part of the ‘Absolute Prohibition Campaign’, see https://absoluteprohibition.wordpress.com

 

[1] Actiegroep Tekeer tegen de isoleer! / Stichting Mind Rights www.mindrights.nl

[2] WNUSP: World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry www.wnusp.net

[3] ENUSP: European Network of (Ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry www.enusp.org

[4] Report: Best practices rondom dwangreductie in de GGZ 2011

[5] Declaration on reduction of coercion:  Intentieverklaring GGZ: preventie van dwang in de GGZ 2011

[6] High Intensive Care HIC (HIC)

[7] Description of Racial-science e.a.: Winkler Prins Algemeene Encyclopaedie, vijfde druk, Elsevier, 1936

[8] Human Rights Watch “Living in hell – abuses against people with psychosocial disabilities in Indonesia”, 2016

[9] Robin Hammond, fotoserie “Condemned – Mental health in African countries in crisis”

[10] Brandon van Ingen, Jongen al 3 jaar vastgebonden in een zorginstelling

[11] Alex Oudman, Schokkende beelden uit isoleercel – Toen en nu

[12] UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

[13] CRPD General Comment no. 1 on CRPD article 12 Equal Recognition before the law

[14] CRPD Guidelines on CRPD article 14 Liberty and Security of Person

[15] Statement of 2 UN Special Rapporteurs “Dignity must prevail – an appeal to do away with non-consensual psychiatric treatments” World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2015

[16] A/HRC/22/53 Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E Mendez, Torture in health care settings (2013)

[17] Communication sent to the Kingdom of the Netherlands by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health. AL Health (2002-7) G/SO 214 (53-24) NLD 2/2013, October 2013, https://spdb.ohchr.org/hrdb/24th/public_-_AL_Netherlands_08.10.13_(2.2013).pdf

[18] CAT/C/NLD/CO/5-6, CAT Concluding Observations on the Netherlands

[19] High Intensive Care HIC (HIC)

[20] Intensive Home Treatment (IHT)

[21] Torture, for full definitiion see article 1 CAT, Convention Against Torture.

[22] A/HRC/22/53 Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E Mendez, Torture in health care settings (2013)

[23] amongst others the right to liberty, freedom from torture / Civil and political rights and CRPD

[24] amongst others the right to health care and adequate standard of living / Social, economic and cultural rights and CRPD

 

Fiona Walsh – Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): Civil Liberties, Equality and Upholding Human Rights

The 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising (Easter Rebellion) is currently being marked in Dublin City and Ireland. The Rising was launched by a small number of Irish Republicans at Easter time 1916 aiming to terminate British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic. One of the principles of the Proclamation guaranteed:

‘religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens’

In the context of those presenting in emotional distress today in Ireland in 2016 however there is still no guarantee that civil liberties will be respected and the reality of equal rights/opportunities for those perceived to be suffering from ‘mental disorders’ is not on the horizon just yet.   Diagnoses are based on subjective interpretation of ‘symptoms’ by Irish psychiatrists and other professionals who typically see individuals in terms of perceived deficits, brain disorders and inherited genetic defects. There are some more enlightened professionals who think in terms of ‘support’ and supporting decision making for those in distress as opposed to those who however compassionate and well meaning think in terms of ‘control’ ‘risk’ and substitute decision making. Many survivors of psychiatric abuse dread the paternalistic ‘best interests’ approach which typically has been used to deprive them of their basic human rights and to define what has contributed to their distress and what might support them to come through it.

 

Typically individuals in Ireland present in a voluntary capacity via their General Practitioner (GP), out of hours service or to the Accident & Emergency Unit of their local public hospital or to one of the private facilities. I am not aware of any psychiatric unit that does not use coercive practices of some sort.   Most who present in a voluntary capacity on the first occasion are not made aware on entering the facility they can be detained and forcibly treated, albeit on the 2nd opinion of another psychiatrist, which usually validates the first opinion. If you do not agree to Diagnosis and Treatment, then you may well be subjected to detention and forced drugging, seclusion, restraint, ECT etc. Under international human rights law this is could be regarded as Torture. The first thing that typically goes is the individuals clothes, access to fresh air etc, access to phonecalls/visitors , even your children until it is established that you will essentially play ball. Mothers can as I did receive threats such as ‘you know we have the option to contact child protection services’. True informed consent for any ‘Treatment’ including around serious side effects of medication must be sought yet typically is not and usually information not provided automatically either way so that the individual can make or be supported to make an informed decision. For those that know how the system operates and disagree with the medical model fear permeates and is increasingly stopping individuals in distress from reaching out to get the support they desperately crave in a given crisis. Reports of individuals taking their own life rather than submitting to coercion are sadly not uncommon and increasing in frequency in Ireland. Members of our Traveller Community have an increased incidence of suicide seven times higher than the rest of the population and fear often prevents travellers seeking professional support.

 

Ministers Frances Fitzgerald and Aodhan O Riordain published a ‘Road Map for Ratification of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ on 21st October 2015.   Introducing Capacity Legislation features on this road map. Accordingly on 30/12/2015 our President Michael D Higgins signed the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Bill 2013. Rather than respecting the principles of CRPD though our Departments of Justice and Health and Government bizarrely based the legislation around ‘Mental Capacity’ providing for a ‘Functional Capacity Test’. Prof Brendan Kelly, a prominent Irish Psychiatrist has had huge influence and uses the CRPD to even defend administering Electroshock against the expressed wishes of an individual (family/loved ones have no rights either in respect of those with involuntary status).  Minister Kathleen Lynch refused to listen to the voice of Civil Society Capacity Coalition, chaired by Eilionoir Flynn, Deputy Director, Centre for Disability Law & Policy NUI Galway and essentially deprived Irish Citizens of the Right to have Legal Capacity respected in law. In addition the legislation denies the right to make a legally binding Advance Healthcare Directive in the context of emotional health, even in respect of ECT. Although the word ‘unwilling’ was recently removed from our Mental Health Act 2001 , the word ‘unable’ still remains, essentially allowing forced detention and drugging to continue unabated. As a survivor of Psychiatry (my experience is relatively mild in many respects) I sat in the Public Gallery of our Houses of Parliament (Dail and Seanad) saddened by the refusal of our Minister and Government to uphold the principles contained in CRPD and respect Human Rights, despite being challenged by brillant Human Rights advocates including Jillian Van Turnhout and Katherine Zappone in our Seanad and Padraig Mac Lochlainn along with other elected representatives in our Dail Chamber. At a recent NGO Forum on Human Rights in Dublin Castle , ‘United Nations Council, ten years on’ (which UN Rapporteur Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar was invited to speak and attended) Layla de Cogan Chin, Dept of Justice left attendees in no doubt with the Dept line that the Irish Government will essentially pick and choose what rights will be respected and that CRPD will be ratified with reservations/declarations.

 

Increasingly Irish survivors are looking to United Nations and the International Human Rights arena to expose the inability/indifference of the Irish Government and Psychiatry Profession to respectively legislate and usher in reform so that those who seek support can do so free of fear and terror of coercion. For some layer by layer of their human dignity is stripped away and they have to recover from the Diagnosis and ‘Treatment’ in addition to what brought them in contact with services in the first place.   In my own case presenting in a voluntary capacity agreeing to take all prescribed medication, still resulted in an attempt by treating Psychiatrist in 2011 to attempt sectioning on the basis of a second opinion of her choice not mine. My apparent ‘crime’ was that I did not agree with given diagnosis or that medication would be of therapeutic benefit.  A dear friend of mine, fellow human rights defender and member of Recovery Experts by Experience (REE) , at 77 years of age has to live daily with the fear of having ECT forced upon her despite having a power of attorney and Advance Directive made. Why should any Psychiatrist have the power to totally disregard her expressed wishes and disrespect her right to Legal Capacity should she ever become distressed in the future? Why should any human being live with the daily fear of having forced ECT again? As a member of Recovery Experts by Experience (REE) we made a submission to UN ICCPR in 2014. Tallaght Trialogue advocacy also submitted two reports under UN ICESCR in addition to contributing to joint parallel report from Civil Society, coordinated by Noeline Blackwell on behalf of FLAC. As a member of Tallaght Trialogue Advocacy I presented in person in June 2015 to UN ICESCR Committee in Geneva (speaking notes link below).

 

The UN CRPD reflects that each Human being has a right to be treated equally (Article 5) and have their will and preferences respected, that their legal capacity (Article 12) is inherent and above all that their human dignity must be respected. My hope is that the standards in the Convention that prohibit forced detention (Article 14) and treatment will propel Irish elected representatives to seek, resource and fund alternative approaches to coercion such as Open Dialogue, Hearing Voices Approach (see http://hearingvoicesnetworkireland.ie/ ) , Crisis Houses, Peer Support & Advocacy … Survivors of Psychiatry deserve to have their voices heard not silenced as is the case in Ireland where tick a box engagement is typical and ‘Experts speak to Experts’ time and time again without the voice of lived experience.

 

Thank you Tina Minkowitz and fellow advocates at CHRUSP, Eilionoir Flynn & past and present Colleagues, CDLP NUI Galway , Fiona Morrissey Lawyer & Researcher and to all who contributed to the CRPD and advocate to have the standards enshrined upheld. It is time the incoming Irish Government embraced the principles of Civil Liberties and Equality in the 1916 Proclamation and ratified the CRPD (signed 30th March 2007) and Optional Protocol without declarations/reservations. Why not embrace the opportunity without further delay to respect Legal Capacity (Article 12) and the will and preferences of individuals and treat every citizen equally regardless of physical disability, psycho-social disability or a perceived disability? A Democracy that silences the voice of Civil Society is not what the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation aspired to, nor is it appropriate for the survivors of psychiatric abuse past and present in 2016. It is time for Irish Legislators to be challenged by those charged nationally to uphold human rights to step up to the plate and respect and ratify the CRPD and Optional Protocol. Accordingly I unreservedly support the Campaign to Support CRPD Absolute Prohibition of Commitment and Forced Treatment.

 

Signed: Fiona Walsh, Human Rights Defender & Survivor of Irish Psychiatric Abuse

Dated: 28th March 2016

Member:

  1. Recovery Experts by Experience (REE)
  2. Tallaght Trialogue Advocacy (on facebook & twitter @TallaTrialogue)

 

Speaking notes ICESCR Review Ireland June 2015 , Fiona Walsh, Tallaght Trialogue Advocacy (pages 19/20 FLAC newsletter)

http://www.flac.ie/publications/flac-news-25-2-aprjun-2015/

http://hearingvoicesnetworkireland.ie/

 

Irish Examiner Newspaper Article 20/01/2016

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/yourview/electroconvulsive-therapy-is-still-given-to-patients-who-dont-want-it-377065.html

 

Dr. Fiona Morrissey, Lawyer & Mental Health Researcher: Article in Irish Examiner dated 21/11/2015 and link to her research regarding Advance Directives

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/analysis/assisted-decision-making-bill-why-changes-are-needed-to-current-laws-366167.html

 

Article in Irish Independent 15/11/2015

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/mentally-ill-still-forced-to-endure-shock-treatment-34201655.html

Eilionoir Flynn CDLP NUI Galway – Blog Posts on www.humanrights.ie

http://humanrights.ie/author/eilionoirflynn/

Prof Brendan Kelly, Psychiatrist, letter to editor 22/11/2015

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/dont-deny-them-this-treatment-34223005.html

Roadmap to ratification of CRPD issued by Irish Dept of Justice

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Roadmap%20to%20Ratification%20of%20CRPD.pdf/Files/Roadmap%20to%20Ratification%20of%20CRPD.pdf

Linda Steele: Challenging Law’s ‘Monopoly on Violence’

Challenging Law’s ‘Monopoly on Violence’: Human Rights and Disability-Specific Lawful Violence

Dr Linda Steele, Lecturer, School of Law University of Wollongong, Australia

29 March 2016

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities[i] (‘the CRPD’) provides a human rights basis for seeing non-consensual medical treatment, detention and chemical and physical restraint as forms of discriminatory violence against people with disability. United Nations human rights bodies must be consistent and persistent in urging states parties to reform criminal and civil laws to explicitly prohibit these practices and provide legal avenues for redress. Until this occurs, these practices will continue to be lawful forms of violence which are condoned and, indeed, made possible by the state and by law.

In my blog post I will briefly discuss the concept of ‘lawful violence’ and why non-consensual medical treatment, detention and physical and chemical restraint constitute ‘disability-specific lawful violence’. I will then explain how the CRPD provides a human rights basis to contest the lawfulness of this violence, and what needs to be done to urge states parties to follow the CRPD and ultimately prohibit and remedy disability-specific lawful violence.

Questioning Violence’s Legal Status

People with disability experience disproportionately high rates of violence when compared to people without disability[ii] (even taking into account the issues with data collection which result in an under-quantification of the rates of violence against people with disability[iii]). There are numerous approaches to categorizing violence against people with disability for the purposes of analysis and devising recommendations for law reform directed to reducing its incidence and enhancing justice for survivors. One approach which I adopt in this blog post is to categories violence in terms of its legal status under domestic law: whether violence is prohibited and legally actionable, or instead permitted and condoned by law. This approach is particularly fruitful for appreciating the significance of the interface of the CRPD and domestic law to states parties addressing all forms of violence against people with disability.

  • Unlawful violence

Some unwanted contact, detention and restraint against people with disability constitutes ‘unlawful violence’ – violence that is prohibited by domestic criminal laws (e.g. offences of assault or sexual assault) and/or constitutes a tortious wrong pursuant to civil law (e.g. torts of battery or false imprisonment). While people with disability experiencing ‘unlawful violence’ technically have available to them criminal and civil legal protection and remedies, at an individual level there are considerable issues with enforcing these laws vis-à-vis survivors with disability. These issues are due to such factors as discriminatory views about disability (and the intersection of disability with gender, sexuality, race, criminality and age) held by police, prosecutors and judges, and because of discriminatory evidential and procedural laws.

Despite the significant issues with ‘unlawful violence’ vis-à-vis people with disability, there are some forms of unwanted contact, detention and restraint of people with disability which do not even fit within this category of ‘unlawful violence’ such that there is not even the possibility of punishment and remedy. For present purposes, non-consensual medical treatment, detention and restraint of people with disability do not fall within the category of ‘unlawful violence’, as I will now turn to explain.

  • Lawful violence

Some unwanted contact, detention and restraint of people with disability – notably non-consensual medical treatment, detention and physical and chemical restraint – is not prohibited or actionable under domestic law and instead is legally permissible. As such, these practices fall outside of the category of ‘unlawful violence’ and sit in a different category of ‘lawful violence’ or, as I term it by reason of the significance of ‘disability’ to its lawfulness, a category of ‘disability-specific lawful violence’.[iv]

Disability-Specific Lawful Violence

Drawing on the work of Robert Cover[v] on ‘legal violence’ (i.e. violence permitted by law), Austin Sarat and Thomas Kearns[vi] argue that law has a ‘monopoly’ on violence, because law determines what is possible to do to another’s body without any legal accountability. Domestic law, and particularly criminal law and tort law, has singular control over violence because regardless of individual experiences of or social values towards unwanted contact detention and restraint (or, indeed, even international human rights perspectives on unwanted contact, detention and restraint) it is the domestic legal system that determines what will be punished or remedied and conversely what will be permitted and go without any punishment of the perpetrator or remedy for the survivor. Unwanted contact, detention and restraint becomes violence that is ‘lawful’ where it is permitted by law. This is not to suggest that legal permissibility means that lawful violence is completely at large. Generally, lawful violence is deeply embedded in legislative and common law frameworks and in judicial and administrative procedures (many of which purportedly ‘protect’ those subjected to lawful violence through ‘procedural’ oversight). Therefore, the state and law are significantly complicit in the operation of and legitimation of unwanted contact, detention and restraint where this is permitted by law.

  • Lawfulness

Turning then to non-consensual medical treatment, detention and physical and chemical restraint of people with disability, these practices are lawful violence in the sense discussed above because they are not prohibited by or actionable under law. In very general terms, criminal law defines assault and civil law defines battery in terms of non-consensual interpersonal physical contact or the non-consensual threat of such contact. The tort of false imprisonment and related criminal offences consider detention and restraint unlawful where it is the non-consensual deprivation of liberty in a delimited space. In the face of the general criminal and tortious prohibition of these acts, the entry point for the legality of such acts vis-à-vis people with disability is the legal exceptions to unlawful violence created by certain defences to criminal responsibility and tortious liability: consent, necessity and lawful authority. These are discussed here in very general terms (noting there will be differences between jurisdictions):

  1. Consent: Interpersonal physical contact does not constitute assault if consented to by the individual. However, where the individual does not have capacity to consent, the law permits a third party to consent on that person’s behalf. In the context of medical treatment of people with disability (such as sterilization) there are established legal processes for recognizing third party consent, e.g., involving determining lack of legal capacity on the basis of mental incapacity and then determining whether the medical decision is in the individual’s ‘best interests’ or a ‘step of last resort’.[vii]
  2. Necessity: Non-consensual medical treatment, detention and physical and chemical restraint of people with disability might also be considered to fall in the defence of medical necessity if the procedure is considered ‘necessary’ in order to protect the individual’s life, health or wellbeing and the act is reasonable and proportionate to the ‘harm’ to be addressed (regardless of whether this harm is in the context of an immediate and short term emergency or an ongoing state of affairs).[viii]
  3. Lawful authority: Non-consensual medical treatment, detention and physical and chemical restraint of people with disability are lawful when done pursuant to statutory or judicial authority.[ix] Such authority includes civil and forensic mental health legislation authoring detention and treatment, as well as legislation authorizing chemical and physical restraint.

These defences carve out an exception to ‘unlawful violence’ for non-consensual medical treatment, detention and physical and chemical restraint of people with disability, such that they become forms of ‘lawful violence’ regulated by law. This procedural protection on an individual basis of when and how such interventions take place elides questioning at a systemic level why these unwanted practices should ever be permitted and in turn elides categorically naming these practices as violence.

Yet, the ‘regulation’ by law of these practices is typically framed as ‘protective’ because law’s involvement provides administrative and judicial procedural oversight to when and how these non-consensual interventions occur. In fact, the greater ‘procedural justice’ afforded to people with disability in the past couple of decades is frequently characterized as a marker of a more enlightened and progressive approach by law and society to people with disability insofar as it is juxtaposed to earlier purportedly extra-legal, arbitrary and repressive practices towards people with disability. However, far from showing law’s role in the ‘salvation’ or ‘empowerment’ of people with disability, the legal processes through which non-consensual medical treatment, detention and physical and chemical restraint of people with disability are permitted in fact signal law’s complicity in this violence: the state’s regulation of a legal economy of violence against people with disability. The state and law contributes to the production of broader social and ethical norms about what is permissible to be done to people with disability and ultimately lowers the value of the bodies and lives of people with disability.

The status of some violence against people with disability as lawful has implications for the punishment of perpetrators and remedies for survivors – in short, there are none. For example, if an individual is detained in a mental health facility and given treatment pursuant to a court order made under civil mental health legislation, that individual cannot report this to police and have the doctor charged with assault (although if the doctor acts outside of the specifics of the order, this would then be unlawful). Similarly, if a girl with intellectual disability is sterilized pursuant to her parent’s consent, she cannot claim civil damages for battery where the doctor acted pursuant to her parents’ decision which was authorized by the court as being in her best interests. A further example is the detention in forensic mental health system of a non-convicted individual on basis of unfitness: this is lawful if is unfitness determined pursuant to the legal process specified by forensic mental health legislation and an individual cannot claim damages for years of imprisonment.

  • Disability-specificity

Above I have explained how non-consensual medical treatment, detention and physical and chemical restraint of people with disability become ‘lawful violence’. I refer to this as ‘disability-specific’ lawful violence because disability is central to the lawfulness of this violence specifically to (and sometimes exclusively to) people with disability:

  1. This violence occurs in institutional circumstances specific to the marginalization, segregation and regulation of people with disability, e.g., mental health facilities, forensic mental health system, sterilization.
  2. Circulating across all of the defences discussed above and the associated legal frameworks of substituted decision-making (in the context of the defence of consent) and authorizing legislation (in the context of the defence of lawful authority), are stereotypes about disability as exemplified by judicial interpretation of such value-laden legal concepts as ‘harm’, ‘necessity’, ‘reasonable’, ‘best interests’ in relation to people with disability.[x]
  3. These defences and the associated legal frameworks of substituted decision-making and authorizing legislation appear as socially and ethically acceptable because of ideas associated with people with disability as needing (and benefiting from) medical treatment, detention and restraint. Significant here are discourses of disability linked to medicine and defect (rationales of therapy), helplessness (rationales of care and protection) and danger (rationales of risk management).
  4. Running across all of the defences and the associated legal frameworks of substituted decision-making and authorizing legislation is the significance of ‘mental incapacity’: either as the basis for the removal of legal capacity (e.g. in defences of consent and necessity) and/or as a basis for indicating lack of self-control, danger or vulnerability (e.g. in defences of necessity and lawful authority). ‘Mental incapacity’, while typically thought of as a scientifically objective characteristic of individuals, is a problematic concept embodying norms of rationality, self-sufficiency and bodily impermeability that are premised on an able subject.[xi]

Therefore, categorizing violence against people with disability in terms of its legal status illuminates how some violence against people with disability is legally permitted and state sanctioned. Where law has a monopoly over ‘violence’ against people with disability, it is arguable that turning to law to address individual instances of this violence is futile. A criminal or civil action can never be successful even with the best lawyers and judges: we cannot turn to domestic law for punishment or remedy (nor can we turn to the state to condone this violence) because law says they are not ‘violence’ in the legal sense and as such are not wrongs or harms and do not constitute injustices.

CRPD and Disability-Specific Lawful Violence

The CRPD provides the possibility of seeing non-consensual medical treatment, detention and physical and chemical restraint of people with disability as violence, and provides a human rights basis for states parties to prohibit these practices as unlawful violence. The CRPD explicitly imposes obligations on states parties to protect people with disability from violence, including by taking legal measures (presumably to prohibit violence and provide appropriate remedies). Article 16 of the CRPD states in part that: ‘States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the home, from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including their gender-based aspects.’

Yet, the obligation in Article 16 is not merely to protect individuals from currently unlawful violence, e.g., enhancing enforcement in relation to individual cases. Rather, when Article 16 is read in conjunction with other Articles of the CRPD, it becomes apparent that states parties’ obligations under the CRPD in relation to violence include protecting people with disability from forms of violence which are presently lawful and hence from ‘disability-specific lawful violence’:

  1. The right to equality and non-discrimination in Article 5 and the right to personal integrity in Article 17 of the CRPD mean that individuals must have recognized their self-determination and ability to make their own decisions to consent to or withhold consent to interventions in their bodies and in their lives to the same degree as people without disability. People with disability cannot be subjected to non-consensual physical contact, detention or restraint on the basis of their disability.
  2. The right to equality and non-discrimination in Article 5 in conjunction with the right to legal capacity in Article 12 of the CRPD means that individuals should have their legal capacity to make decisions recognized to the same extent as individuals without disability and should not be denied legal capacity on the basis of ‘mental incapacity’. The right to exercise autonomy in consenting or withholding consent should be available to all regardless of perceived ‘mental incapacity’. In turn, non-consensual physical contact, detention or restraint on the basis of a denial of legal capacity is discriminatory because it applies only to individuals with a disability-linked ‘mental incapacity’ (itself a discriminatory concept, as mentioned above).[xii] On a similar basis, non-consensual detention on the basis of disability constitutes arbitrary detention pursuant to Article 14.[xiii]
  3. The right to freedom from torture in Article 15 means that the purportedly protective judicial and administrative procedural frameworks surrounding non-consensual contact, detention or restraint could, perversely, render these interventions not merely violence but state-sanctioned discriminatory violence and hence torture.[xiv]
  4. The shift evident in the preamble to the CRPD in the meaning of disability from a medical model to disability as ‘an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’ illuminates the significance of the social and political contingency of the meaning of disability to the realization of the human rights of people with disability including through domestic legal frameworks. In turn, this shift suggests that stereotypes about disability might presently circulate in legal frameworks that render lawful non-consensual contact, detention or restraint of people with disability.

The CRPD is quite radical in the new approach to violence against people with disability that it provides. This is because this approach contests foundational concepts of consent, capacity, state/judicial authority which order domestic legal systems (and to a certain extent international human rights law). This approach also contests old (but ever growing) institutions, disciplines and industries of incarceration and therapy through which non-consensual physical contact, detention or restraint are administered.

What needs to be done?

Despite these rather revolutionary ideas about disability and violence provided by the CRPD, disability-specific lawful violence continues. While the CRPD has prompted some states parties to ‘review’ (though perhaps not necessarily ‘reform’) capacity laws and mental health laws, ten years on from the coming into force the CRPD has not witnessed the prohibition of non-consensual physical contact, detention or restraint of people with disability.

Here I conclude by making a number of suggestions related to the significance of the interface of CRPD and domestic law to the prohibition and remedying of (presently lawful) violence against people with disability.

United Nations human rights committees must be consistent and persistent in urging states parties to reform criminal and civil laws to explicitly prohibit non-consensual physical contact, detention or restraint of people with disability including prohibit forced medical treatment, detention and chemical and physical restraint. United Nations human rights bodies should continue to encourage states parties to remove or withdraw interpretive declarations which interpret human rights to enable non-consensual medical treatment, detention and restraint (even when only as a ‘last resort’ or when in ‘best interests’). Unfortunately, these strategies might be impeded by the discrepancies which exist between United Nations human rights bodies in relation to the approach to disability and violence, with some human rights bodies failing to acknowledge disability-specific lawful violence and focusing on the ‘procedural’ protection approach to (regulating) violence. The discrepancies between United Nations human rights bodies might enable states parties to pick and choose how to interpret their obligations related to violence in such a way that ultimately focuses on addressing currently ‘unlawful’ violence and ignoring eliminating disability-specific lawful violence. United Nations human rights bodies might need to turn to consider the ideas of disability underpinning their approaches to violence against people with disability, some of which might precede the CRPD and its shift from a medical approach to disability.

A number of additional strategies which states parties should pursue (and which United Nations human rights bodies should encourage states parties to pursue) include:

  1. States parties should not limit their ‘review’ and ‘reform’ efforts to attaining a best practice in judicial and administrative oversight of disability-specific lawful violence (i.e. through procedural safeguards) to questioning whether some practices should ever be state sanctioned on anyone (including people with disability) regardless of the legal procedure through which this sanctioning occurs. Central to this is making apparent and naming the ideas about disability inherent in the law itself, rather than only addressing stereotypes about law that circulate in the application or enforcement of law at an individual level. This involves denaturalizing centuries-old legal concepts, legal procedures and jurisdictions – some of which are foundational to legal authority generally.
  2. States parties should consider the intersection of ideas about disability with other dimensions of identity, particularly being mindful of the identities of the individuals to whom these practices disproportionately apply: e.g. gender and forced mental health treatment and detention of women, age and chemical and physical restraint of older people with dementia in aged care facilities, Indigeneity and over-representation of Indigenous Australians in forensic mental health detention, gender and sterilization, ideas about criminality re people in forensic mental health detention.
  3. States parties should revisit the ideas of bodies and space envisaged by domestic laws related to violence, notably in relation to false imprisonment. In domestic law, detention and restraint focuses on external factors which restrict the individual’s movement – yet much of the interventions in the disability-specific context work from within the body – to restrain and regulate from within (e.g. chemical restraint[xv]).
  4. States parties should develop a strategy for ‘transitional justice’[xvi] that addresses prohibiting and making legally actionable future instances of non-consensual medical treatment, detention and restraint as well as developing a system to recognize, remedy and remember past instances of these practices when they were still lawful.[xvii] This might involve thinking beyond disability to how law (both international and domestic legal frameworks) have dealt with mass atrocities, historical injustices and state-sanctioned violence in relation to other marginalized groups. This system must not only focus on the individuals and institutions administering these practices, but also address how to make the state and law account for their complicity.
  5. States parties should address the role of ‘para-legal’ regulatory frameworks such as bioethics (e.g. research, clinical, professional) in legitimizing the administration of disability-specific lawful violence.[xviii]
  6. States parties should work with health, medical and disability services to challenge institutional, disciplinary and (importantly in an increasingly privatized and corporatized context) economic imperatives[xix] for the continuation of the administration of disability-specific lawful violence.
  7. States parties should encourage reforms to tertiary legal education which take a critical approach to disability and to disability-specific lawful violence in courses such as criminal law and tort law. Typically, law text books cover the operation of defences in relation to people with disability in a self-evident and non-critical manner which then naturalizes the legal treatment of people with disability and negates their subjection to violence and the law and state’s complicity in this violence.

Ultimately, the lower legal threshold of violence in relation to people with disability reflects a devaluing of bodies and lives of individuals with disability – until this is addressed the human rights of people with disability promised by the CRPD will be profoundly and disappointingly incomplete.

 

[i] Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, opened for signature 13 December 2006, 2515 UNTS 3 (entered into force 3 May 2008).

[ii] See, e.g., Karen Hughes, Mark A Bellis, Lisa Jones, Sara Wood, Geoff Bates, Lindsay Eckley, Ellie McCoy, Christopher Mikton, Tom Shakespeare and Alana Officer, ‘Prevalence and Risk of Violence against Adults with Disabilities: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies’ (2012) 379(9826) Lancet 1621.

[iii] See, e.g., Jess Cadwallader, Anne Kavanagh and Sally Robinson, ‘We Count What Matters, and Violence Against People with Disability Matters’, The Conversation, 27 November 2015, http://theconversation.com/we-count-what-matters-and-violence-against-people-with-disability-matters-51320, accessed 6 January 2016.

[iv] On ‘disability-specific lawful violence’ generally see, e.g., Linda Steele, ‘Disability, Abnormality and Criminal Law: Sterilisation as Lawful and Good Violence’ (2014) 23(3) Griffith Law Review 467; Submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, Inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including the gender and age related dimensions, and the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability (2015).

[v] Robert Cover, ‘Violence and the Word’ (1986) 95 Yale Law Journal 1601.

[vi] Austin Sarat and Thomas R Kearns, ‘Introduction’ in Austin Sarat and Thomas R Kearns (eds), Law’s Violence (University of Michigan Press, 1992) 1, 4.

[vii] In the Australian context see, e.g., Secretary, Department of Health and Community Services v JWB (1992) 175 CLR 218.

[viii] In the UK and Australian context see, e.g., Re F (Mental Patient Sterilisation) [1990] 2 AC 1.

[ix] In the Australian context see, e.g., Coco v R (1994) 179 CLR 427.

[x] On best interests see, e.g., Linda Steele, ‘Making Sense of the Family Court’s Decisions on the Non-Therapeutic Sterilisation of Girls with Intellectual Disability’ (2008) 22(1) Australian Journal of Family Law 1.

[xi] See, e.g., Linda Steele, ‘Disability, Abnormality and Criminal Law: Sterilisation as Lawful and Good Violence’ (2014) 23(3) Griffith Law Review 467.

[xii] Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, General Comment No 1 (2014): Article 12: Equal recognition before the law, 11th sess, UN Doc CRPD/C/GC/1 (19 May 2014).

[xiii] Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, General Comment No 1 (2014): Article 12: Equal recognition before the law, 11th sess, UN Doc CRPD/C/GC/1 (19 May 2014); see also Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on Remedies and Procedures on the Right of Anyone Deprived of Their Liberty to Bring Proceedings Before a Court, 30th sess, UN Doc A/HRC/30/37 (6 July 2015), notably Principle 20 and Guideline 20.

[xiv] Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, General Comment No 1 (2014): Article 12: Equal recognition before the law, 11th sess, UN Doc CRPD/C/GC/1 (19 May 2014) 11[42]. On non-consensual medical treatment, detention and restraint of people with disability as torture, see Dinesh Wadiwel, ‘Black Sites: Disability and Torture’, paper presented at Critical Social Futures: Querying Systems of Disability Support, Symposium of The Australia Sociological Association, 19 June 2015.

[xv] Erick Fabris, Tranquil Prisons: Chemical Incarceration under Community Treatment Orders (University of Toronto Press, 2011).

[xvi] See, e.g., Carolyn Frohmader and Therese Sands, Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) Submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into Violence, Abuse and Neglect Against People with Disability in Institutional and Residential Settings, August 2015.

[xvii] See, eg, Hege Orefellen, ‘Hege Orefellen on Reparations’, Campaign to Support CRPD Absolute Prohibition of Commitment and Forced Treatment, https://absoluteprohibition.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/hege-orefellen-on-reparations/, accessed 27 March 2016.

[xviii] The significance of bioethics is apparent from the controversy around Ashley X: see, e.g., Eva Feder Kittay, ‘Forever Small: The Strange Case of Ashley X’ (2011) 26(3) Hypatia 610.

[xix] On the ‘therapeutic industrial complex’ see, e.g., Michelle Chen, ‘How Prison Reform Could Turn the Prison-Industrial Complex Into the Treatment-Industrial Complex’, The Nation (20 November 2015) http://www.thenation.com/article/how-prison-reform-could-turn-the-prison-industrial-complex-into-the-treatment-industrial-complex/, accessed 29 March 2016.

Documenta (México)

We at Documenta work to ensure the CRPD absolute prohibition of commitment and forced treatment for persons with psychosocial and intelectual disabilities in Mexico, particularly in connection with security measures.

The second video has English subtitles; others are in Spanish.  Please visit Documenta’s website http://www.documenta.org.mx and their YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2mXb9uN_To_JrwND7HvGuw for more information.

Published on Nov 10, 2015

Este año, Documenta presentó el caso de Arturo ante el Comité de la ONU sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad. Su caso representa la terrible realidad de las personas con discapacidad cuando se enfrentan a un proceso penal en México.

Published on Nov 27, 2015

Un corto documental sobre las dificultades de Víctor como persona con discapacidad psicosocial al enfrentarse al sistema de justicia penal de México. #CuestionemosLaInimputabilidad

En la voz de… Eunice Leyva García 1 (Abogada del Área de Litigio Estratégico de Documenta A.C.), Primera intervención/Sobre Peritajes realizados.

In Italy, we don’t have a law against torture, by Erveda Sansi

 

contro psicofarmaci_col_rid

Drawing by Vincenzo Iannuzzi

 In Italy, the situation in the psychiatric field, with almost no exception, has worsened from the period of questioning psychiatric institution, in the beginning of the sixties. Then, Italy has been at the forefront of the closure of mental hospitals. Not only Giorgio Antonucci, Franco Basaglia and many professionals, but also a good part of the common people, realized that psychiatric hospitals were not places of care. Civil society, then, was sensitive to the issue of smash-down asylum culture. Publications appeared, there was an open debate, workers and students organized themselves and entered in asylums to see the conditions in which their fellow citizens were locked up. They protested and denounced the deplorable conditions the internees were forced to live in.

However, since several years, we observe a re-institutionalisation process and, at the same time, in some Italian hospital’s psychiatric wards happened many deplorable facts, due to forced treatment, institutionalization and forced restraint. Some of these facts have become infamous after that committees and relatives have asked for justice, as in the case of the well liked teacher Francesco Mastrogiovanni, 58 years old, that was debated also on national television channels. Franco Mastrogiovanni, after a forced psychiatric treatment the 4th August 2009, (because of a road traffic offense: circulation, at night, on a street closed to traffic), has been heavily sedated, tied to the bed of Vallo della Lucania’s hospital psychiatric ward, and left to die after four days of abandonment. During the 80 hours hospitalization he was nourished only with saline solutions; he was tied hands and feet to the bed, in such a position that his respiratory functions where compromised, and he was sedated with high doses of psychiatric drugs, without supervision from the staff. At wrists and ankles there are 4 cm wide grazes. A hidden camera recorded everything; the video is of public domain. At the trial the responsible physicians were found guilty and sentenced to 3 and 4 years detention, that, with the mitigating clauses, they won’t have to serve. The 12 nurses were acquitted because “they obeyed an order”. The Committee truth and justice for Francesco Mastrogiovanni, asks for truth and justice. Watch also the film 87 ore (87 hours), gli ultimi giorni di Francesco Mastrogiovanni (Francesco Mastrogiovanni’s the last days) by Costanza Quadriglio.

 

In Italy some deaths due to forced hospitalization and/or prolonged or short-time use of mechanical and chemical restraint have been reported by the press, television and network (this mean that there are a lot of other such “incidents”, we don’t know):

27 October 2005: Riccardo Rasman dies during a coercive treatment by the policemen, for a hospitalization against his will, in a psychiatric ward in Trieste.

21 June 2006: Giseppe Casu, guilty of having wanted to pursue his peddler job in the village square, dies in a psychiatric ward in the hospital “Santissima Trinità” of Cagliari, as a consequence of a thromboembolism, after a forced hospitalization and having been heavily sedated. He was tied hands and feet to the bed, for 7 days and was sedated with high doses of psychiatric drugs against his will.

28 August 2006: A.S., the 17th of August 2006 is admitted to the psychiatric ward in Palermo, for medical investigations. A.S. died after 2 days coma, the 28th of August, probably for excessive doses of psychiatric drugs.

26 May 2007: Edmond Idehen a 38 years old Nigerian man, went voluntarily into the psychiatric ward of Bologna’s hospital “Istituto Psichiatrico Ottonello – Ospedale Maggiore Bologna”. As he tried to leave the hospital, because he did not feel cared, the doctors forced him to stay, with the help of policemen. Edmond Idehen died as a consequence of a hearth attack while nurses and policemen held him down. He was also strongly sedated with psychiatric drugs.

12 June 2006: Roberto Melino, 24 years old, dies for a hearth attack; he entered voluntarily the psychiatric ward of Empoli’s “San Giuseppe” hospital. As he tried to leave the hospital, he was forced to stay by the doctors, and obliged to take high doses of psychiatric drugs, in spite of his evident and serious breath difficulties.

15 June 2008: Giuseppe Uva, 43 years old, was brought inside a police station, because he was driving in state of high alcoholic level. There he was subjected to ill-treatments. After 3 hours he was forced to an obligatory hospitalization in the Varese’s “Circolo” hospital and was forced to take psychiatric drugs. He died because of the stress provoked by the mix of alcohol and psychiatric drugs.

30 August 2010: Lauretana La Coca, 32 years old, entered voluntarily in Termini Imerese’s “Salvatore Cimino” hospital. After 10 days of hospitalization her condition got worse, till she got into a comatose state and died.

Giuseppe D.: A man, more than 70 years old, was interned in Reggio Emilia’s psychiatric prison. His problem was that the neighbour’s daughter is a psychiatrist. His lawyer took a legal action to the European Court of human Rights, but until now there has been no answer, so the Pisa’s student group “Collettivo Antipsichiatrico Artaud”, together with “Telefono viola” from Milan, decided to release the documentation relating to this case in Internet, according with Giuseppe D.’s will, his lawyer, and his relatives.

2 April 2010: Eric Beamont, 37 years old, the 2 April 2010 was hospitalized in Lamezia. After 2 days he entered coma, so the doctors transferred him to the Catanzaro’s “Pugliese – Ciaccio” hospital, where he died. There is the suspect that the death of Eric was caused from a high dose of benzodiazepine. Diagnosis was: subarachnoid hemorrhage[1]

28 May 2015 Massimiliano Malzone died during a forced treatment.

11 July 2015 Amedeo Testarmata died during a forced treatment.

29 July 2015 Mauro Guerra died during a forced treatment.

5 August 2015 Andrea Soldi died during a forced treatment…

Unfortunately in this article we have not described isolated occurrences, but an emblematic situation of violation of human rights in the Italian psychiatric institutions.

These are just some of the “incidents” that came to the limelight, but many more of them are not known when they happen, because, for example, people who live in loneliness are involved, or people whose relatives have given their consent, or simply when people want to get rid of a person perceived as annoying. We The Mad Hatter Association, constantly of forced psychiatric treatments, during which treated people suffer heavy damages. Forced treatments are often made on request of relatives, when patients refuse to take any longer the psychiatric drugs, or when their behaviour is perceived as disturbing. A friend of us (I.M.) tried to escape, but he was chased and filled with drugs; shortly after he was found dead at the bottom of a ravine. He was 40 years old. Another friend (A.S.) was walking on a path between fields and was stopped by police, because he was known as a “mentally ill” person. Then they called the psychiatrist on duty and told him: “He was walking near the railway and could possibly have in mind to commit suicide”; so they locked him up. I know this person, who often walks in the fields, where, however, it’s easy to be located near the railway, because of the constitution of the territory. He had never the intention of committing suicide. Another acquaintance of us died, throwing himself under a train, terrified by the fact that his mother, according to the psychiatrist, would refer to forced psychiatric treatment for him. Another one (U.S.) has suffered of heavy harassment, after having reported his superior’s embezzlement, noticed during his duties as a municipal technician. He was subjected to forced psychiatric treatment, kidnapped by police in riot gear. While he was sleeping, his door was smashed down, and he was thrown on the ground face down and handcuffed. He says that at least they could have tried to open the door, which was not locked. Now he is terrified and he even fears the dark; he is forced to take psychiatric drugs.

We can not think of de-institutionalization before we have dismissed the rules that allow forced psychiatric treatment, that allow to hold a person against his will, without having committed any crime, without the right to an equitable process, based on the alleged dangerousness and only because this person was diagnosed with a mental illness.

The so called “Basaglia law” the law nr. 180 from 13.5.1978, then joined and actually regulated by Law 833/1978 articles 33, 34, 35, 64, establishes the “Accertamenti e Trattamenti sanitari volontari e obbligatori” (“Forced health verifications and treatments”). In 1978 the law nr. 180 imposed the asylums’ closure, and the elimination of dangerousness or/and public scandal as criterion for forced treatment. But in the most Italian province, asylums didn’t close. So it was necessary to make another law, (because these asylums were too expensive), the law n. 724 from 23.12.1994, art. 3 paragraph 5, which dispose that these asylums had to be closed within the 31.12.1996; again disregarded, differed until the end of 1999. In 1996 the asylum inmates in Italy were 11.516 in 62 public asylums and 4.752 in private asylums.

According to this art. 180 law, forced treatment and included forced hospitalization, are possible if there are the following conditions: 1) a person “suffering mental illness” requires urgent medical treatment; 2) refuse the treatment; 3) it’s not possible to take adequate measures outside the hospitals. Forced treatments has a maximum duration of seven days, but can be renewed if necessary and then extended if it persists for a reasoned clinical need (it’s not an exception that the duration is extended for months and years). For forced treatments and the consequently limitation of personal freedom, there must be a request signed by two physicians, an administrative validation from the Mayor is required, followed by the validation of a judicial review by the Tutelary Judge.

Legislation of forced psychiatric treatment provides ample scope for arbitrariness and it is in strong contrast to the human rights regulations, that aim at preserving even people with disabilities from inhuman and degrading treatments. For those who commit a crime, it is expected that the judicial authority, within certain specific procedural rules, sanctions or imposes restrictive measures. We constantly deal with innocent people in forced psychiatric treatment, who can no longer find a way out of the psychiatric institution.

“I have to confess”, said a psychiatrist, “to have a person completely in my power, made me feel a kind of sadistic shiver”.

In Italy the CRPD was ratified in 2009, but just at now we have not a law against torture, torture is not a crime, torture is not forbidden in Italy. So, those who torture does not violate the law. In the meantime a lot of intermediate psychiatric institutions (also called little asylums) were built. They are public or private and reimbursed from the State. A very great business is behind. Some other examples: Lazio Region President Polverini’s decree on Lazio hospital system: the number of beds in Psychiatric Institutions raise from 369 up to 629; more 70%. 50 beds for the public structure and 210 for the private structure trigger the chronicization circuit.

260 beds = 90.000 life days subtracted to the people at the cost of 10.000.000 €.

Didn’t the Basaglia Law foresee the closing up of madhouses?

  • Professor Antonucci, what is, to date, the status of implementation of the law 180?

– Apart from some single exceptional case, what proposed Franco Basaglia is not realized, but it continues a job that Basaglia obviously would not approve: authoritarian interventions, taking people by force and bring it in psychiatric clinics, which are the continuation of the asylum. The asylum was established by the authoritarian intervention: I take a person against his will, then I submit her to a series of forced interventions, which are the essence of the mental hospital”. (http://www.psicoterapia.it)

The deplorable situation of the six Forensic Psychiatric Hospitals recently became more visible, after surprise-inspections of a parliamentary committee. The videos of the visits, showed by the national television, and the press releases can be found on the web. A parliamentary report had already been made in June 2010, but the photographs show a situation that until now has not yet changed. People held for decades for minor offenses, whose penalty would have expired long time since, if not repeatedly and automatically renewed.

Here below we report some data extracted from the text of the parliamentary relation on the June 2010 inspection of the 6 Italian psychiatric prisons (forensic institutions) still active (Senator Ignazio Marino, physician ,was Chair of the Investigative Committee on the National Health Care System). After the 1978 “Basaglia law”, madhouses had to be closed, but the 6 psychiatric prisons mentioned above keep doing the same job. Senator Marino was also concerned about the increasing of electroshock (from 9 institutions allowed to give electroshock before 2008, now we have more than 90 psychiatric institutions who dispense ECT).

The regulations and logics that manage these psychiatric prisons (forensic institutions) (in Italian OPG-Ospedale Psichiatrico Giudiziario), are the same inherited by the fascist Rocco Code (1934). 40 % of the 1500 actual convicted should already have been released, for detention terms expired, but they see their penalty end terms deferred in order of their supposed social dangerousness.

Nine people each cell, dirty bathrooms and bed sheets; dirty nurses’ gowns as well. In Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto (Messina), 329 convicted are overcrowded in cells built in 1914. Dirt everywhere. One patient was found naked, tied up to his bed, with a haematoma on his head. Aversa, built in 1898. 320 people locked up six by cell, in inhuman conditions.

NAS (Antisofistication and health nucleus of Carabinieri (Police)) reported and denounced all this to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, but this office is often made by the same persons that sentence patients to life.

In the Secondigliano OPG, the psychiatric prison is interior to the jail. Here stays since 25 years a patient who was sentenced two years. Burns and black eyes are not reported on the clinical diary. Feet and hands go gangrenous.

In Montelupo Fiorentino OPG they are 170 in a very scruffy building. In Reggio Emilia OPG they are 274 where they should be 132. 3 showers serve 158 patients. One is tied up to his bed since 5 days for disciplinary reasons. 3 in 9 meters square. “The OPG (psychiatric prison) are one of the “silence zones”, explains Alberto, of the Pisa Antipsychiatric Collective dedicated to Antonin Artaud, “and they show the political use of psychiatry. The consume of psychiatric drugs is more and more pushed, the electroshock comes back “in fashion”, perhaps to “heal post partum depression”. And a law lies in ambush in order to bring the forced hospitalization terms from 7 to 30 days”. After the scandal came to light, on 17 January 2012 the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the definitive closure of the OPG by 31 March 2013. The closure was extended until March 31, 2015. After the closure of the facilities in 2015, according to Law Decree n. 211/2011, converted into Law no. 9/2012, have been replaced by residences for Execution of Security Measures (R.E.M.S.). We have to closedown the Forensic Psychiatric Hospitals, instead of changing the name of them. If we don’t shut dawn these places once and for all, we cannot talk about de-institutionalization. Close them not in order to transfer their users to other psychiatric institutions, but to give these people a life dignity.

A research (source: British Medical Journal) conducted in 6 European countries (Italy, Spain, England, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany), that have closed asylums in the 70s, saw that between 1990 and 2003 an increase in the number of beds in forensic psychiatric hospitals, in psychiatric wards, in so-called safe houses. Supported housing is seen as an alternatives to asylums, as a sign of de-institutionalization, but they are rather a form of institutionalization. Also forced treatments are increasing. It is not clear the reason why the number of beds in Forensic Psychiatric Hospital increased, since there is no correlation between crimes like homicides and de-institutionalized persons.

It would be important to spread the awareness that forced treatments, like the restraint is an anti-therapeutic act, that makes cures more difficult, rather than to facilitate them. Physical restraint is not exercised only in the field of psychiatry. The areas of operation where should be discussed the problem of legitimacy, usefulness and appropriateness of physical restraint, do not consist only in hospitals, but also in nursing homes for the elderly, therapeutic communities for drug addicts and nursing homes for people with disabilities related to congenital or early acquired disabilities. An improvement in psychiatric nursing practice, characterized by the renunciation of physical restraint, would be a strong signal in order to spot out the problem also in other operating environments, urging those who work in this field to act with similar treatment practices, rather than restrictive ones.

Referring to the psychiatric drugs there are rules of the Convention on Human Rights, which require user’s fully informed consent, before administering, even if he’s disabled. Most psychiatric drugs are prescribed for a long time, sometimes for life, without informing the user on their effects, and without any help in the resolution of his real and existential problems. Psychiatric drugs can cause neurological diseases, that sometimes become irreversible. Akathisia, dyskinesia, are very unpleasant effects and can throw a person in despair. Often the user is encouraged to continue taking the drugs even when he asks to withdraw them, and it is almost impossible to find professionals who help and give directions for withdrawal. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist, working with institutions as WHO (World Health Organisation) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration), wrote hundreds of pages on the harmful effects of psychiatric drugs. Peter Lehmann, who tested the effects of drugs on himself during his hospitalization in a psychiatric clinic, has published and continues to publish the results of his research for which he uses pharmaceutical and medical literature. The effect of psychiatric drugs is known, but the billion-dollar business behind it is too big to lose it. Peter Lehmann is the first survivor of psychiatry to be awarded with the honorary degree, conferred him by the clinical psychology faculty of the Aristotele’s University of Thessaloniki, for his work as researcher and activist in the field of mental health.

A person who starts to take drugs, in most cases will be induced to take them for life, because they create addiction problems. The psychiatric user develops a very strong dependence toward the psychiatric service too. For the psychiatrists, lack of compliance is in fact intended in it self an aggravation of the disease. Then the conditioning that takes place, goes in the direction of dependence from psychiatric services, of becoming “childish” and “chronic patient”.

Although in almost all European countries asylums and psychiatric hospitals have been eliminated or substantially reduced, this does not mean that in the new post-asylum structures, asylum-dispositifs have been eliminated. People are, with few exceptions, completely sedated by psychiatric drugs, even though apparently there are implemented programs such as art therapy. The intake of psychiatric drugs is induced also in order to make the user unconscious.

Erwin Redig, a German psychiatric survivor, says: “There are people putting us under pressure to force us to take them (psychiatric drugs). If we do not take them, our changes embarrass them. If this is our case, we must make clear to ourselves that we are swallowing drugs for other people’s welfare, because they find us unpleasant if we do not”.

“The dispositif of discomfort-complex, that operates in a small residence, acts more broadly in the society”. Neuroleptic drugs affect thinking, block the flow of thoughts, and make people flatten. I relate the words of a healthcare professional: “As soon as psychiatric drugs are given to people, they literally get extinguished. To what extend is it fair to cancel the person?” Although in the European countries, the asylum psychiatry and the psychiatric hospitalization of users have given way to communities, the psychiatric institution culture has not changed. The patterns of asylum residentiality are still active. But most of all it is still alive an asylum mentality, therefore it is important for everyone to be aware how much everybody’s mentality is crucial in creating or not creating devices that belong to psychiatric institutions; operating devices that constitute a widespread operating module. “Residential Intermediate Structures”, foreseen in Italy by the 1983 law, should have had the provisional nature as their specificity; therefore they should not constitute either a definite admission or a final place for forced hospitalization; they should have been  transitional housing, that could break prejudice and exclusion logics. In March 1999, by a special decree, to the Italian Regions was imposed the definitive closure of the asylums, under threat of strong economic sanctions, because despite the birth, on paper, of the new “local services”, mental hospitals were still crowded with patients.

Named by the derogatory title of “asylum residuals”, for these people that nobody wanted, residential structures accounted for an illusion of freedom; they founded themselves to be again in a mental institution. “Many patients”, writes one of them in an autobiography, “have never been so well in terms of comfort, but nevertheless they are in a state of fearful desolation”.

An induced need of security, the defence from a potentially dangerous mind sick person that at any time, during an outbreak, could commit heinous actions against others or against himself; shortly, on the basis of this need and of this false scientific fundamentals, we build the myth of the need of post-asylums psychiatric institutions. If we don’t get reed of the psychiatric prejudice, the “mental health” institution remains. There are many alternatives pursued by individuals, associations or institutions, but they are deliberately ignored. The responsibility for solving the problems of institutionalization, is not up only to psychiatrists or to mental health professionals, but to the whole civil society. Everybody contributes to the asylum mentality. Users as well, who have internalized the psychiatric diagnosis and can no longer live without it.

Mary Nettle, chairman of Enusp until 2010, expects an increasing involvement of users and survivors of psychiatry in researches about psychiatry; while they often are excluded or not paid on the pretext that they are not professionals.

Although many examples exist that  prove that you can accompany a person in troubles out of his problems, through dialogue and support in the resolution of the objective and material difficulties, and helping him to get awareness of his own rights, these experiments and their positive results continue to be deliberately ignored.

 

La Prohibición Absoluta a los Internamientos Involuntarios y Tratamientos Forzados en Psiquiatría: Tensiones con los mecanismos de privación de libertad por motivos de salud mental en Chile – Francisca Figueroa

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http://www.saludmentalycomunidad.cl/la-prohibicion-absoluta-a-los-internamientos-involuntarios-y-tratamientos-forzados-en-psiquiatria-tensiones-con-los-mecanismos-de-privacion-de-libertad-por-motivos-de-salud-mental-en-chile/

A continuación, presentamos el texto de la abogada chilena Francisca Figueroa que se suma a la campaña en Apoyo a la Prohibición Absoluta de la CDPD de los Tratamientos Forzosos y los Internamientos Involuntarios


Tensiones con los mecanismos de privación de libertad por motivos de salud mental en Chile

La campaña por la Prohibición Absoluta de los internamientos involuntarios y tratamientos psiquiátricos forzados se enmarca dentro del contexto de los art. 12, 14 y 15 de la Convención sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad (en adelante, CDPD), adoptada por la Asamblea General de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas con fecha 13 de diciembre de 2006 en la ciudad de Nueva York; la cual fue ratificada y promulgada por Chile, entrando en vigencia en nuestro país el año 2008.

El contenido específico de las disposiciones que tal instrumento de derechos humanos refiere –el cual extiende su alcance a las personas en situación de discapacidad mental o psicosocial, e intelectual (Fernández, 2010: 10)-, se encuentra aún en proceso de delimitación por parte del Comité sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad, el que recientemente se pronunció respecto al alcance del derecho contenido en el art. 14 de la CDPD, éste es, el derecho a la Libertad y Seguridad de la Persona.

Tal pronunciamiento impone un cambio de paradigma al prohibir de forma categórica y absoluta la privación de libertad de la persona por motivos de discapacidad –sea ésta,  real o aparente-, aun al considerarse que la persona se encuentra en situación de crisis o que puede constituir un peligro para sí mismo u otros (pr. 13, 14 y 15). En tal aspecto radica, el carácter absoluto de la prohibición.

Los fundamentos jurídicos de este posicionamiento radical por la no discriminación, dicen relación con el alcance del art. 12 de la CDPD, el cual impone a los Estados Partes el deber de reconocer la capacidad jurídica de las personas en situación de discapacidad en igualdad de condiciones y en todos los aspectos de su vida. Así, si bien el art. 14 impone como limitación al derecho a la libertad de la persona que ésta se ajuste a la legalidad, no es menos cierto que existen en el ordenamiento jurídico chileno, leyes que sistemáticamente niegan la capacidad jurídica de la persona en diversos ámbitos de desarrollo de su vida, lo cual se encuentra en evidente contradicción con la CDPD (Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de las Personas con Discapacidad mental, 2014), conforme se ha pronunciado el Comité sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad y el Relator Especial sobre la Tortura y otros Tratos o Penas Crueles, Inhumanos o Degradantes.

Ejemplo de esto son los regímenes de interdicción, las declaraciones de inimputabilidad penal, las normas que regulan los internamientos involuntarios y los tratamientos invasivos e irreversibles -como son, las psicocirugías, las terapias de electroshock y esterilizaciones, entre otros- en los que operan mecanismos de sustitución de la voluntad de persona (Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos [INDH], 2014), vulnerando el Principio de Autonomía contenido en el art. 3 letra a) de la CDPD que contempla “El respeto de la dignidad inherente, la autonomía individual, incluida la libertad de tomar las propias decisiones, y la independencia de las personas” y el art. 12; sometiendo a la persona a un estatus de minoridad social propio de los paternalistas sistemas de tutela decimonónicos (Castel, 2009).

Para dar cuenta de este desolador panorama, pese a la entrada en vigencia de la CDPD en Chile el año 2008, es posible constatar la siguiente situación conforme datos oficiales del Ministerio de Salud (2014):

las medidas forzadas en relación con la hospitalización han aumentado entre los años 2004 y 2012. La proporción de ingresos de urgencia se han triplicado, llegando a 30,8% del total de ingresos. Los ingresos administrativos (hospitalizaciones involuntarias autorizadas por las SEREMI de Salud) se han cuadriplicado y durante el año 2012 representaron el 6,6% de los ingresos, mientras que los ingresos por orden judicial se duplicaron, con un 5,4% para el 2012. Además, también hubo un incremento en el uso de la contención y/o aislamiento, desde 17,8% del total personas hospitalizadas en el 2004 a 26,1% en el 2012 (ídem: 53).

Así, atendido al panorama anteriormente descrito y los actuales estándares de derechos humanos a los que se ha comprometido a dar cumplimiento el Estado de Chile, deben progresivamente abolirse los regímenes administrativos de internamientos involuntarios que no hacen sino reproducir el estigma que asocia “enfermedad mental” y peligrosidad, cuestión que se advierte claramente en las disposiciones del D.S. Nº 570 del Ministerio de Salud, que permite privar de libertad a una persona “aparentemente afectada por un trastorno mental” e internarle en un establecimiento psiquiátrico por cuanto su conducta “pone en riesgo su integridad y la de los demás, o bien, altera el orden o la tranquilidad en lugares de uso o acceso público”, operando los encierros psiquiátricos a modo de auténticas medidas de seguridad predelictuales (Dufraix, 2013: 272-274; Horwitz y López, 2004: 565) y por lo demás, sin cumplir con garantías mínimas de resguardo a los derechos humanos, al carecer de control judicial, de órgano autónomo de revisión y de un procedimiento de apelación contra la resolución administrativa-sanitaria que priva de libertad a la persona contra su voluntad (INDH, 2014: 120; Ministerio de Salud, 2014: 37).

Si bien se ha planteado como un avance en la materia la creación de la Comisión Nacional de Protección de las Personas afectadas por Enfermedad Mental y las Comisiones Regionales establecidas en virtud de la Ley 20.584, se hace indispensable advertir que éstas dependen tanto en su constitución como en su funcionamiento de la autoridad administrativa a quien debe controlar y observar, careciendo de facultades resolutivas vinculantes y por tanto, no siendo apta para garantizar un resguardo imparcial de los derechos humanos conforme el compromiso adoptado por Chile al ratificar la CDPD. Sobre este punto, el Comité sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad ha sido explícito al referir que los Estados Partes deben establecer mecanismos independientes de vigilancia y garantizar la participación de la sociedad civil en las labores monitoreo (pr. 19).

Por otra parte, los alcances de la Prohibición Absoluta invitan a re-pensar a la luz de la CDPD, el régimen de inimputabilidad penal y la utilización de los internamientos psiquiátricos involuntarios y tratamientos forzados en instituciones de salud mental a modo de medidas de seguridad, conforme se contempla en el art. 457 del Código Procesal Penal. Éstas, fundadas en la declaración de peligrosidad de la persona en ausencia de culpabilidad, no sólo privan del ejercicio de derechos fundamentales careciendo de regulación constitucional (Falcone, 2007: 248), sino también, vulneran los actuales estándares de derechos humanos que comprometen a los Estados Partes a reconocer la capacidad jurídica de las personas en situación de discapacidad en todos los ámbitos de la vida. Al respecto, el Comité ha recomendado la eliminación de las medidas de seguridad, incluyendo las de tratamiento médico obligatorio en instituciones psiquiátricas (pr. 16, 20).

La objeción a este posicionamiento es evidente. ¿Qué sucede si la persona se encuentra “descompensada” y creemos que puede llevar a cabo comportamientos que afecten los derechos de los otros?. Es en ese punto donde el Comité ancla su posicionamiento en la no discriminación, al recordarnos que tanto las personas en situación de discapacidad como las que no, tenemos el deber de no causar daños a los demás (pr. 14), así como contamos con la libertad para disponer de nuestra integridad e incluso nuestra vida, cuestión que hace que las autolesiones y la tentativa de suicidio no sean punibles en el Código Penal. Por tanto, ¿Qué justifica el privar de libertad a una persona en situación de discapacidad en base a un pronóstico de peligrosidad –y en el caso de los internamientos administrativos, no habiendo cometido la persona hecho constitutivo de delito alguno-, siendo que todas las personas contamos con el mismo deber respecto a los derechos de demás e idéntica libertad de disposición respecto a los derechos propios?. La respuesta es que tal privación de libertad no se ancla sino en una evidente manifestación de discriminación por motivos de discapacidad, prohibida explícitamente por el art. 14 de la CDPD.

La campaña por la Prohibición Absoluta es en una invitación a enterarnos de los nuevos estándares de derechos humanos que rigen en materia de privación de libertad y tratamientos forzados por motivos de salud mental, los que han hecho propias las voces de críticos y sobrevivientes de la psiquiatría que han padecido la violencia del modelo psiquiátrico, justificado por la ideología terapéutica que específicamente se analiza por el Relator Especial sobre la Tortura y otros Tratos o Penas Crueles, Inhumanos o Degradantes en sus Informes A/63/175 y A/HRC/22/53, extendiendo a estas prácticas no consentidas las categorías de tortura y malos tratos, dando aplicación al art. 15 de la CDPD que contempla tal prohibición.

De esta manera, hacemos una invitación a cuestionar las racionalidades que justifican la vigencia de un estatuto legal paralelo respecto a las personas etiquetadas con diagnósticos psiquiátricos, el cual permite privarlas de libertad en base a criterios que se imponen a modo de pensamiento único a través de la hegemonía del modelo médico-psiquiátrico en salud mental, negando la autonomía de la persona y controlando sus diferencias en el plano psíquico a través del uso de la violencia.

Francisca Figueroa San Martín, Abogada. 

Bibliografía

Castel, R. (2009). El orden psiquiátrico. Edad de oro del alienismo. Buenos Aires: Nueva Visión.

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2015). Guidelines on article 14 of 

the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The right lo liberty and security of persons with disabilities. [en línea] Ginebra, Suiza. Disponible en: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/CRPDIndex.aspx

Dufraix, R. (2013). Las medidas de seguridad aplicables al inimputable por condición mental en el Derecho Penal Chileno. Tesis Doctoral. Universidad del País Vasco.

Falcone, D. (2004). Una mirada crítica a la regulación de las medidas de seguridad en Chile. Revista de Derecho de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. XXIX, pp. 235-256.

Fernández, M. (2010). La discapacidad mental o psicosocial y la convención sobre los Derechos      de las Personas con Discapacidad. Revista de derechos humanos – dfensor. (11), pp. 10-17

Horwitz, M. y López, J. (2004). Derecho procesal penal chileno, Tomo II. Santiago: Editorial Jurídica de Chile.

Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos [INDH], (2014). Situación de los Derechos Humanos en Chile. Informe Anual 2014. [en línea] Santiago. Disponible en: http://www.indh.cl/informe-anual-situacion-de-los-derechos-humanos-en-chile-2014 [Último acceso 15 Marzo 2016].

Ministerio de Salud, (2014). “Evaluación Sistemas de Salud Mental de Chile”. Segundo Informe, 2014. Informe sobre la base del Instrumento de evaluación del sistema de salud mental de OMS (OMS IESM/ WHO AIMS). [en línea] Santiago de Chile. Disponible en: http://www.who.int/mental_health/who_aims_country_reports/who_aims_report_chile.pdf [Último acceso 12 Febrero 2016].

Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de las personas con Discapacidad mental (2014). Derechos humanos de las personas con Discapacidad mental: Diagnóstico de la situación en Chile.  [en línea] Santiago de Chile.  Disponible en: http://www.observatoriodiscapacidadmental.cl/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/informe-ODDHHPDM-final.pdf[Último acceso 13  Marzo 2016].

Organización de Naciones Unidas [ONU], (2006). Convención sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad y Protocolo Facultativo. [en línea] Nueva York. Disponible en: http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-s.pdf [Último acceso 15  Marzo 2016].

Pink Belette: La psiquiatrie en France/ Psychiatry in France

La psychiatrie en France, zone de non-droit (par Pink Belette)

Une patiente française sous contrainte fait son « audit » dans le cadre de la campagne pour soutenir l’Abolition totale des soins et de l’hospitalisation sans consentement en application de la CDPH de l’ONU

http://depsychiatriser.blogspot.no/2016/03/la-psychiatrie-en-france-zone-de-non.html

 

Pourquoi je suis contre les « soins sous contrainte » :

On pourrait croire que, au pays de la liberté, on a encore droit à son intégrité morale et physique.

Rien n’est plus faux. Par experience, impossible pour quiconque d’échapper à un soin sous contrainte (SPDT, « soin à la demande d’un tiers » ou « péril imminent »).

Il suffit que : une personne la demande (que ce soit la famille, un voisin…), qu’on soit « pas bien », déstabilisé, agité, « instable », en colère, dépressif, sur la défensive, « en opposition », « délirant », amaigri, boulimique, fumeur de shit, drogué…

Il suffit aussi qu’on refuse l’hospitalisation ou un traitement pour que les médecins se relaient pour demander un soin sous contrainte. Une fois hospitalisé, « on » vous fait comprendre que vous perdez vos droits à la personne, l’argument étant : « maintenant on est responsable de vous pour TOUT »… Par contre, vis-à-vis de vous, « on » n’est responsable de rien…

 

Depuis la loi Bachelot du 5 Juillet 2011, en particulier si on a le malheur de contester le diagnostic ou le traitement, c’est alors après la sortie d’hospitalisation qu’on ne peut plus se débarrasser de la contrainte, et c’est là que c’est le plus pervers : injections forcées, consultations obligatoires avec un praticien hospitalier non choisi (à la rigueur, on a le choix entre deux médecins).

Le pire : si on refuse de se rendre au centre médico-psychologique du secteur assigné, la police vient gentiment vous cueillir chez vous pour vous hospitaliser en soins obligatoires à un degré encore plus coercitif (SPDRE, « sur la demande de l’Etat ») et sur un temps plus long et sans contact autorisé avec l’extérieur (!) jusqu’à ce qu’il aient réussi à réduire votre volonté à néant. Ainsi, il arrive que les personnes concernées doivent abandonner leur logement pour « vivre » en psychiatrie (parfois pendant des dizaines d’années, voir le cas de Dimitri Fargette)…

 

Je suis témoin : en France, il y a réellement du souci à se faire…

  1. Il n’y a aucune alternative à la psychiatrie institutionnelle (lobbying des psychiatres ET de l’industrie pharmaceutique contre d’autres formes de thérapies) ;
  2. Aucune littérature ou culture antipsychiatrique (des « survivants », il n’y en a pas…)
  3. L’Ordre des Medecins Psychiatres qui suspend : tout psychiatre « en décalage » avec le système consensuel (d’après le Dr. O.G, psychiatre libéral et ex-chef de clinique) ;
  4. L’Ordre des Medecins Psychiatres qui suspend : un psychiatre responsable de la mort d’une patiente… seulement pour 2 semaines (voir l’affaire Florence Edaine)
  5. La « Mafia des tutelles » : tout patient faisant des séjours répétés est automatiquement placé sous curatelle ou tutelle (sans consentement, c’est renforcé)…
  6. Des mères se voient enlever leurs enfants immédiatement après la pose d’un diagnostic de maladie mentale ; jamais de scandale médiatique…
  7. On fait comprendre aux femmes en âge de procréer qu’il faut surtout adopter la contraception, en sous-entendant qu’on leur enlèverait leur enfant de toute façon. Ce qu’on ne leur dit pas, c’est que tous les neuroleptiques passent la barrière placentaire, c’est pourquoi j’ai entendu parler d’autant de cas d’avortements spontanés chez les femmes sous traitement. Dixit une infirmière, on donne de l’Haldol aux femmes enceintes, ce qui « prouverait » soi-disant « le peu de nocivité de l’Haldol » (!). Jamais d’étude là-dessus ni de scandale médiatique…
  8. Des services fermés qui regorgent de dépressifs qui ne sont pas en « péril imminent » et qui se sentent surtout mal de recevoir par exemple 4(!) antidépresseurs à la fois…
  9. Une cellule d’isolement toujours occupée (appelée « chambre de soins intensifs »!), ce qui participe du « folklore »…
  10. « Abonné une fois, abonné toujours » : les traitements qu’on ne peut plus JAMAIS arrêter ;
  11. Aucune étude à long-terme sur les effets des psychotropes…
  12. Aucun recours en cas d’abus psychiatriques (système interne de « médiation » caduc : mal vous en prend d’écrire une lettre au directeur de l’établissement…)

 

Pourquoi je suis contre ce nouveau système de « Juge des Libertés et Détentions » (relatif à la loi du 27 septembre 2013) :

On vous fait croire que c’est une voie de recours. Rien n’est plus faux, à part en cas de vice de forme (ce qui n’arrive quasiment jamais, puisque les psychiatres ont intérêt à ce que la procédure se passe en bonne et dûe forme). Au contraire, c’est un enfermement de plus…

  1. Le juge n’est pas psychiatre, il se garderait bien de remettre en question le jugement des médecins sur le fond. Par contre, on lui a expliqué que tout patient qui conteste le traitement est en « opposition », ce qui constitue déjà une preuve de « déni de maladie ».
  2. Les médecins y trouvent donc une voie bien pratique pour se décharger de leurs responsabilités, puisque « c’est le juge qui décide ». Et alors on voit défiler les patients dans le bureau du juge, accompagnés d’un soignant : « on vous amène Mme X »…
  3. On vous octroie un avocat commis d’office une semaine avant, mais qu’on ne peut pas contacter avant. Le jour de l’audience, c’est 15 minutes pour faire connaissance et se préparer, et ceci « dans les cases »…
  4. Ce qui est très alarmant, c’est qu’on ne trouve pas d’avocat en libéral, à part peut-être à Paris, et seulement pour un recours aux assises.
  5. Le juge prétexte qu’il ne peut lever le soin sous contrainte si c’est à la demande du directeur de l’établissement. Or, toutes les demandes de mise en soins sous contrainte passent par l’approbation du directeur. Tout le monde se donne bonne conscience, donc ;
  6. Une fois l’audience terminée (10 minutes), où l’on se voit déstabilisé, accusé et mis en doute, le juge « ordonne » le maintien en hospitalisation complète et de la mesure de contrainte, ce qui confère force de loi aux médecins (et donc une impunité totale) et SURTOUT donne encore plus de poids à la mesure.
  7. Inutile de préciser que si on était encore crédible avant, on ne l’est plus du tout et c’est définitif. Si on refuse de signer la feuille ou de comparaître, c’est pire, et on s’attire les foudres des médecins et du personnel soignant, qui vous mettent la pression, vous humilient et vous maltraitent. On ne peut pas non plus refuser que l’audience ait lieu.
  8. Le juge sait pertinemment qu’il s’agit d’une volonté potitique de faire taire les « récalcitrants » par voie chimique et coercitive. Il y adhère donc pleinement.

 

Pourquoi je suis contre les traitements forcés :

J’insiste sur le fait que les psychiatres hospitaliers ont les pleins pouvoirs sur le choix et le dosage des traitements, il ne s’agit JAMAIS d’un consentement éclairé. La « balance bénéfice-risque » est toujours de leur côté, même en cas de surdosage, même si la personne prend déjà 17 médicaments et pèse 200kg (ce qui est le cas d’une amie à qui on a donné Zyprexa ET Xeroquel suite à quoi elle a fait un accident vasculaire cérébral). Ils ne sont jamais responsables des effets secondaires non plus et vous orientent « gentiment » vers votre généraliste…

De plus, c’est toujours les médecins qui « décident » à votre place si vous allez bien ou non, et ce, même s’ils ne vous connaissent pas ou vous on vu seulement 5 minutes…

L’effet pervers de la chose, c’est que c’est tellement insupportable d’être enfermé et camisolé chimiquement qu’au bout d’un mois, on fait semblant d’aller mieux, on renie ses opinions et on arrête de se plaindre des effets secondaires pour pouvoir sortir, sous peine de se voir diagnostiquer en plus des « troubles du comportement » et un « déni de la maladie»…

 

J’AI ETE TORTUREE : au Zyprexa (surdosage), au Solian, au Tercian, au Risperdal (8 mg pour un poids de 50 kg), à l’Haldol (90 gouttes par jour) et « shootée » au Valium (40mg!)…

Le médecin et le personnel infirmier refusaient de prendre en compte : les troubles de l’élocution, tremblements, convulsions, dyskinésies, impatiences insupportables, angoisses mortelles, envie de mourir et tortures psychiques (« enfer » mental) qui ont apparu immédiatement et ont même empiré avec le temps. Je me suis battue en vain en plaidant que les neuroleptiques anesthésient la conscience, font perdre la mémoire, rendent docile et influençable, rendent dépressif et encore plus anxieux, affectent les capacités intellectuelles et détruisent l’âme.

J’ai également été mise plusieurs fois en isolement avec violences de la part du personnel ET des employés de la sécurité, alors que je n’ai JAMAIS été agressive. J’ai été mise sous contention, j’ai été déshabillée de force, j’ai été déshydratée, humiliée, bafouée, maltraitée…

Aujourd’hui, même si j’ai droit à un traitement moins inhumain, l’Abilify en injectable (après une 4ème tentative de suicide), je reste « accro » au Valium, traumatisée et toujours en alerte, dans l’angoisse de manquer à mes « obligations » ou de faire mauvaise impression, sans parler de l’absence totale de perspectives, de motivation et de joie dans ma vie, sans parler de ma vie affective qui est une misère (mort spirituelle, isolation, dépression, anxiété…).

Ma carrière artistique, qui avait débuté avec succès, a été définitivement brisée pendant mes meilleures années (la trentaine) et je suis aujourd’hui dans l’incapacité de créer alors qu’avant je foisonnais d’idées et me donnais les moyens pour les mettre en œuvre. Il est également trop tard et trop compliqué pour moi maintenant pour devenir mère.

Je vis dans la précarité à la charge de l’Etat.

 

Pourquoi j’ai toujours été opposée à leurs « diagnostics » pathologisants :

Je suis une personne ayant vécu les pires traumatismes dans la petite enfance (viols et abus, harcèlement), dont la plupart des souvenirs sont remontés plus de trente ans après, ce qui a grandement affecté mon équilibre psychique. J’ai malheureusement dû constater que, d’après les psychiatres (pour autant qu’ils m’aient crue…), il n’y aurait aucune relation de cause à effet entre ce que j’ai subi et mes troubles (!), ce qui est tellement énorme et risible qu’on aurait plutôt envie d’en pleurer…

J’ai pu constater, à l’instar de la Dre Muriel Salmona, seule psychiatre en France à ma connaissance qui aborde la souffrance psychique sous l’angle du trauma, qu’en France, aucune prise en charge spécifique n’est prévue ou proposée, et après 8 ans de psychiatrie, aucun médecin à ce jour ne m’a diagnostiqué un syndrôme de stress post-traumatique avec dissociation, ce qui pourtant devrait être le cas après des viols dans la grande majorité des cas selon la Dre muriel Salmona ( Association Mémoire Traumatique et Victimologie ). Je n’ai quasiment jamais pu faire de travail thérapeutique avec un psychiatre.

Quant à leur diagnostic de schizophrénie, il n’a jamais été étayé, expliqué ou argumenté, et mon dossier a été établi sur des « observations » des médecins et de simples « impressions » du personnel soignant… J’ai constaté également que parler de spiritualité conduisait immanquablement à un diagnostic de « délire mystique », donc, selon eux, de schizophrénie.

J’en conclus que l’enfermement et leurs mauvais soins n’ont fait qu’en rajouter à mes traumatismes, je ne crois pas un seul instant que leurs maladies imaginaires résultent d’un déséquilibre chimique dans mon cerveau ou d’une quelconque « maladie » biologique, je sais que les effets des neuroleptiques sont catastrophiques à long-terme et je suis totalement en accord avec de nombreux anti-psychiatres à l’international, dont le Dr. Peter Breggin, Joanna Moncrieff, David Healy, Robert Whitaker, Thomas Szazs, Peter Goetzsche et autres… (cf. le site madinamerica.com).

 

CONFORMEMENT À LA CONVENTION DES NATIONS UNIES SUR LES DROITS DES PERSONNES HANDICAPÉES, ARTICLES 12, 14 ET 15, TEL QU’INTERPRÉTÉ DANS L’OBSERVATION GÉNÉRALE NO. 1 ET LES LIGNES DIRECTRICES SUR L’ARTICLE 14, ET AUX PRINCIPES DE BASE ET LIGNES DIRECTRICES PUBLIEES PAR LE GROUPE DE TRAVAIL SUR LA DETENTION ARBITRAIRE DE L’ONU, PRINCIPE 20 ET LIGNE DIRECTRICE 20, JE PLAIDE POUR L’ABOLITION TOTALE DE LA PSYCHIATRIE COERCITIVE ET DES TRAITEMENTS FORCES.

JE REVENDIQUE TOUS MES DROITS A LA PERSONNE EN TANT QUE FEMME MAJEURE PROTEGEE, PERSONNE HANDICAPEE, EN PARTICULIER LE DROIT INALIENABLE DE DISPOSER PLEINEMENT DE MON CORPS ET DE MON ESPRIT SANS CHIMIE IATROGENE, DE MA LIBERTE INCONDITIONNELLE.

JE CONSIDERE LA PSYCHIATRIE INSTITUTIONNELLE ET SES PRATIQUES COERCITIVES COMME UN CRIME CONTRE L’HUMANITE, UNE ATTEINTE A LA DIGNITE ET A LA LIBERTE DE PENSEE 

Pink Belette, Mars 2016

 

****

Psychiatry in France, NO-RIGHTS-ZONE (By Pink Belette)

A french patient under forced commitment makes her « audit assignment » as part of the campaign to support CRPD absolute prohibition of commitment and forced treatment

 

Why I am against commitment and forced treatment :

One could believe that, in the land of liberty, one is still entitled to his or her physical and moral integrity.

Experience proves it wrong. It is impossible for anyone to escape forced commitment (so-called « care on demand of a third party » or « imminent danger »).

It’s already a done deal if : one person asks for it (family, neighbour…), one is « not well », unsettled, agitated, « not stable », gets angry, is depressed, on the defensive, « in opposition », exuberant, emaciated, bulimic, shit smoker, drugged…

It is sufficient if one refuses hospitalization or a treatment for the doctors to relieve each other in order to enforce commitment. Once hospitalized, it is been made perfectly clear that one looses his or her personal rights, only argument is : « now we are responsible of you for EVERYTHING »… Thus, towards the « patient », nobody is responsible of anything…

 

Since the « Bachelot law » of July 5th 2011, particularly if one has something to object, be it diagnose or treatment, it is then after being out of hospital that one cannot get rid of commitment, which is most perverse : forced injections, mandatory appointments with an non-chosen clinical psychiatrist (or, best case, with a choice between two doctors).

And, worst of all : if one refuses to go to the assigned medical center of one’s district, the police comes to pick one up at home and rehospitalization is mandatory with an increased commitment that is even more coercive (« on demand of the State »), on a longer lapse of time and with no authorization to communicate with the outside (!) until they succeed to break one’s will and reduce one to nothingness… It so happens that people loose their home and « live » in psychiatry (sometimes for decades, see Dimitri Fargette’s case)…

 

I witness : in France, there is really matter to worry about… 

  1. There is no alternative to institutional psychiatry (lobbying of psychiatrists AND pharmaceutical industry against other forms of therapies) ;
  2. No antipsychiatric litterature nor culture (no « survivors »…)
  3. The « College of Psychiatrists » who suspends : every psychiatrist « not aligned » with this consensual system (according to Dr. O.G, liberal psychiatrist and former head of clinic);
  4. The « College of psychiatrists » suspending : a psychiatrist responsible for the death of a patient… only for two weeks (see the case of young patient Florence Edaine)
  5. The « Guardianship mafia » : every patient who is repeatedly hospitalized is automatically placed under guardianship under a certain degree (without consent, it is being reinforced…)
  6. Single mothers get their children robbed and placed immediately after a diagnosis of mental illness is established, never one scandal about this…
  7. Women in age to bear a child are being strongly recommended a contraception, with a wink that their child would be taken away from them anyway. What they are not being told is that all neuroleptics pass the placenta barrier, that’s why i have heard of so many miscarriages from women under treatment. A quote from a nurse : « pregnant women are given Haldol, which proves it’s little nocivity » (!). Never one study about that nor mediatic scandal.
  8. Closed wards full of depressive people who are not in « immediate danger » and are feeling bad mainly because they are being given for example 4 (!) antidepressants at a time…
  9. An always occupied isolation chamber (so-called « intensive care chamber »!), which participates to the « folklore »…
  10. « Once subscriber, always subscriber » : treatments one can NEVER withdraw from ;
  11. No long-term study on psychotropic medication… (All so-called studies are biased)
  12. No recourse in case of even flagrant psychiatric abuse (internal system of « mediation » obsolete : it’s a very bad idea to write a letter to the director of the institution…)

 

Why I am against this new system of « Judge of Liberties and Detentions » (related to the law of september 27th 2013) :

They are making believe it is a recourse. I was proved wrong, except for instance on a technicality (which almost never happens, because it’s in the psychiatrists’ interest that the procedure goes well and in due form). On the contrary, it’s in the sense of more legal coercion…

  1. The judge is no psychiatrist, he would never ever put into question the judgment of the physicians concerning the core. Thus, he has been briefed about the « fact » that any patient who opposes treatment is « in opposition », which establishes already a proof of « illness denial » (and as a proof of illness itself).
  2. Therein it has been found a very practical way for doctors to be discharged of their responsibilities, as « it’s the judge who decides ». And now, bunches of patients are being spotted filing up before the judges’ office, escorted by a nurse : « we bring you Ms. X »…
  3. Patients get a mandated advocate one week before the audience, but who cannot be contacted in advance. At audience day, it’s 15 minutes to meet and prepare, and, of course, in a « formated » way.
  4. Very alarming is the fact that no liberal advocate is to be found for psychiatric abuse pleas, except maybe in Paris, and mostly for a recourse before the Court of Assize.
  5. The judge pretends he cannot lift the forced commitment because it’s asked for by the hospital director. Yet, all demands for forced commitment have to be validated by the director. Hence everyone gives him- or herself a good conscience there ;
  6. Once the audience done (10 minutes), where one gets destabilized, accused and doubted of, the judge « orders » the maintaining of the person in complete hospitalization and of the measure, which confers force of law on the doctors (hence, total impunity).
  7. Not to mention the fact that if one still had credibility before, it’s no longer the case and irreversible. If one refuses to sign the convocation or to attend the audience, it’s worse, and one is being bullied by staff members and doctors alike, who put one under pressure, humiliates one… One also cannot refuse the audience being held despite of one’s absence.
  8. The judge knows pretty well that it’s a political will to make silent the « opponents » of the system, chemically and coercively. He therefore fully concurs with it.

 

Why I am against forced treatment :

I insist on the fact that hospital psychiatrists are almighty regarding the choice and dosage of treatments, it’s never about an « informed consent ». The « benefit- risk balance » is always on their side, even in case of overdosage, even if the person already takes 17 meds and weighs 400 pounds (which is the case of a friend to whom was administered Zyprexa AND Seroquel after which she had a cerebral attack with impairment). They are also never responsible for side effects and, in case of complaint, derefer to one’s generalist physician…

Thus, it is always them who « decide » on one’s behalf if one is well or not and this, even if they don’t know the person or have seen him or her only five minutes…

Perverse effect of the thing : it’s so unbearable being locked up and silenced chemically, that, after a month, one pretends to feel better, disavow his or her opinions and stops complaining about side effects in order to get out, knowing that otherwise one will be diagnosed behavioural troubles and « illness deny »…

 

I WAS TORTURED : with Zyprexa (overdosis), Amisulpride, Cyamemazine, Risperdal (8 mg for a weight of 100 pounds), Haldol (90 drops a day) and « shooted » with Valium (40mg!)…

The doctors and staff refused to take into account : speaking troubles, heavy trembling, convulsions, dyskinesia, unbearable akathisia, heavy existential fear, wish to be dead and psychical tortures (mental « hell ») which appeared immediately and even worsened as time went by. I fought in vain, pleading that neuroleptics anesthetize consciousness, occasion memory loss, make one docile and influentiable, make depressive and even more anxious, impair one cognitively and destroy the soul.

I was also put into solitary confinement several times with violences from the staff AND security agents, despite the fact I have NEVER been even agressive. I was put under contention, was violently undressed, dehydrated, humiliated, spoliated, mistreated…

Today, even if I get a « less inhumane » treatment – Abilify retard injection – (after a 4th suicide attempt), I remain addicted to Valium, traumatized and always on alert, fearing to miss my « obligations » or to make bad impression, without mentioning total absence of perspectives, motivation or joy in life, without mentioning my affective life that is a misery (spiritual death, isolation, depression, anxiety…).

My artistic career, which finally started with success has been definitively broken during my best years (in my 30′) and today I am totally unable to create despite the fact that before, I had thousands of ideas and was giving a great deal to put them into meaningful use. It is also too late and too complicated for me now to become a mother.

I live in precarity at the charge of the State.

 

Why I was always opposed to their pathologizing « diagnoses » :

I’m a person who endured the worst traumas in early childhood (rape and abuse, mobbing…), while most memories came up again more than 30 years afterwards, which greatly affected my emotional balance. I had unfortunately to experience that, according to psychiatrists (if they even believed me), there would be no cause-to-effect relationship between what I had to bear and my troubles (!), which I find so enormous and stupid that one would rather cry…

I had to notice, alike Dr. Muriel Salmona – only psychiatrist in France knowingly approaching psychical suffering under the perspective of trauma – that in France, no specific caretaking is being proposed nor planned, and after 8 years of psychiatry, not one physician has diagnosed me a post-traumatic stress disorder with dissociation which, according to Dr. Muriel Salmona (« Association Mémoire Traumatique et Victimologie ») is the case after rape and abuse.

I could almost never do a therapeutic work with a psychiatrist.

Regarding their diagnosis of schizophrenia, it has never been illustrated, explained or argumented, and my medical records have been established on mere « observations » from the doctors and sheer « impressions » from the staff…

I also came to the conclusion that to actually speak about spirituality would eventually always end in them diagnosing a « mystical delirium » and, as such, schizophrenia.

My conclusion is that their imprisoning and bad treatments have done none but to aggravate my traumas and personal issues, I don’t believe a second that their imaginary « diseases » result in a chemical imbalance in my brain or an unknown « biological » illness, I know that neuroleptics and affiliated meds are catastrophic in the long-term (causing brain damage) and I totally agree with numerous anti-psychiatrists internationally, such as the Drs. Peter Breggin, Joanna Moncrieff, David Healy, Robert Whitaker, Thomas Szazs, Peter Goetzsche and others… (see on madinamerica.com).

 

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, ARTICLES 12, 14 AND 15, AS INTERPRETED IN GENERAL COMMENT NO. 1 AND THE GUIDELINES ON ARTICLE 14, AND WITH THE BASIC PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES OF THE UN WORKING GROUP ON ARBITRARY DETENTION PUBLISHED IN 2015, PRINCIPLE 20 AND GUIDELINE 20, I SPEAK IN FAVOUR OF ABSOLUTE PROHIBITION OF COERCIVE PSYCHIATRY AND FORCED TREATMENT.

I RECLAIM ALL MY RIGHTS TO PERSONHOOD AS A DISABLED ADULT WOMAN UNDER PROTECTION, IN PARTICULAR THE INALIENABLE RIGHT TO DISPOSE ENTIRELY OF MY BODY, MIND AND SOUL WITHOUT IATROGENIC CHEMICALS AND MY UNCONDITIONAL LIBERTY.

I CONSIDER INSTITUTIONAL PSYCHIATRY AND ITS COERCIVE PRACTICES A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY, A SEVERE HARM TO DIGNITY AND TO FREEDOM OF THINKING.

 

Pink Belette, March 2016

 

 

Aporte de Lucila López, Usuaria y sobreviviente de la psiquiatría en Argentina

CAMPAÑA DE APOYO A LA CDPD COMPROMISO CON LA PROHIBICIÓN ABSOLUTA DE LA PRIVACIÓN DE LA LIBERTAD Y EL TRATAMIENTO FORZADO DE LAS PERSONAS CON DISCAPACIDAD PSICOSOCIAL

 

Señores del Comité sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad:

Solicito tengan a bien dar la merecida atención a todas las voces que elevamos los actores socio-políticos que pedimos la prohibición absoluta de la privación de la libertad por motivos de discapacidad psicosocial.

Lucila López

Usuaria y sobreviviente de la psiquiatría en Argentina.

(también se puede leer en https://sodisperu.org/2016/03/22/aporte-a-la-campana-prohibicionabsoluta-por-lucila-lopez-usuaria-y-sobreviviente-de-la-psiquiatria-en-argentina/)

CAMPAÑA DE APOYO A LA CDPD ART. 14 LL-MARZO14 2016 (doc)

Intentaré exponer los motivos sobre la importancia de obtener el apoyo necesario para que la Campaign to Support CRPD Absolute Prohibition of Commitment and Forced Treatment  – Campaña de apoyo CDPD COMPROMISO CON LA ABSOLUTA PROHIBICIÓN DE LA INTERNACIÓN Y EL TRATAMIENTO FORZADO iniciada por la Dra. Tina Mikowitz resulte como positivo fortalecimiento al momento de las Observaciones Generales a favor del irrestricto cumplimiento del artículo 14 inc. y todos los artículos vinculantes.

Artículo 14

Libertad y seguridad de la persona

  1. Los Estados Partes asegurarán que las personas con discapacidad, en igualdad de condiciones con las demás:

a) Disfruten del derecho a la libertad y seguridad de la persona;

b) No se vean privadas de su libertad ilegal o arbitrariamente y que cualquier privación de libertad sea de conformidad con la ley, y que la existencia de una discapacidad no justifique en ningún caso una privación de la libertad.

2. Los Estados Partes asegurarán que las personas con discapacidad que se vean privadas de su libertad en razón de un proceso tengan, en igualdad de condiciones con las demás, derecho a garantías de conformidad con el derecho internacional de los derechos humanos y a ser tratadas de conformidad con los objetivos y principios de la presente Convención, incluida la realización de ajustes razonables.

“El Comité sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad reafirma que la libertad y la seguridad de la persona es uno de los derechos más preciosos a que tiene derecho. En particular, para las personas con discapacidad, y en especial las personas con discapacidad intelectual y discapacidad psicosocial tienen derecho a la libertad en conformidad con el artículo 14 de la Convención. En él se especifica el alcance del derecho a la libertad y a la seguridad de la persona en relación con las personas con discapacidad, prohíbe toda discriminación basada en la discapacidad. De este modo, el artículo 14 se relaciona directamente con el propósito de la Convención, que es garantizar el disfrute pleno e igual de todos los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales a todas las personas con discapacidad y promover el respeto de su dignidad inherente.”[i]

__________________

Nada se puede pensar por fuera de un contexto. El tema propuesto es un tema ineludible en términos de un pensamiento con eje en los Derechos Humanos.

Escribir en Argentina sobre la necesidad de garantizar la prohibición absoluta de privar de la libertad a las personas con discapacidad en nombre de tratamientos impuestos, forzados, en contra de la propia voluntad, es escribir en un contexto en el que el respeto a los DD.HH. es ostensiblemente violado provocando actualmente una seria preocupación para el CIDH, específicamente por una presa política. En relación al tema, es significativo que Estela de Carlotto[ii] haya preguntado -¿Cómo se puede decir que está muy bien una mujer presa? Y calificó esa afirmación de la más alta autoridad del país como “una barrabasada”. El texto completo es el siguiente:

“La barrabasada[iii]que dijeron es que la habían visitado en la cárcel y que estaba muy bien. Fue violento. ¿Cómo se puede decir que está muy bien una mujer presa?

Me permito hacer un parangón y preguntar:   ¿Cómo se puede decir que está bien una persona privada de la libertad (presa) por su discapacidad?

Estoy a favor de la prohibición absoluta de la privación de la libertad involuntaria y tratamientos forzados de las personas con discapacidad psicosocial y el compromiso para con todos comienza en el ejercicio para mi propia vida de ese derecho y el Art. 14 de la CDPD me autoriza a exigir el cumplimiento de la norma jurídica.

Mis argumentos son en nombre propio a partir de mis experiencias y la observación de la experiencia de otros, articulando mi condición de usuaria y sobreviviente de la psiquiatría, mi visión como profesional dedicada a la prevención en Salud Mental y Derechos Humanos y como familiar, en tanto soy madre de un hombre que siendo niño y hasta entrada su adultez, necesitó de la protección de sus derechos incluido el derecho a la salud y el derecho a la salud mental.

Estuve privada de la libertad y en contra de mi voluntad por última vez entre el 5 de julio de 2014 y el 12 de enero de 2015. La cuarta vez en mi vida y la más extensa en tiempo.

Esa misma barrabasada “que me encontraban muy bien” la escuché de familiares y amigo/as y me mantuve en un total mutismo.

Desde el año 2011, la crisis anterior con internación contraria a mi voluntad, comencé a guardar mutismo absoluto delante de los que apoyaron esa medida y están dispuestos a apoyarla de nuevo.

¿Por qué guardar mutismo?

Por lo intolerable que resulta la alianza entre los profesionales de la salud mental y familiares y/o amigos:

  • Ignoran la CDPD.
  • No tienen en cuenta el respeto a la persona como un igual.
  • Prevalezcan sobre mi cuerpo y sobre mi psiquismo[iv] decisiones ajenas violatorias de todos
  • Los siguientes derechos enumerados en la CDPD (Ley 26.378) que es parte del cuerpo jurídico de la Constitución Nacional de Argentina.

Artículo 5º

Igualdad y no discriminación

Artículo 12

Igual reconocimiento como persona ante la ley[v]       

Artículo 14

Libertad y seguridad de la persona

Artículo 15

Protección contra la tortura y otros tratos o penas crueles, inhumanos o degradantes

Artículo 17

Protección de la integridad personal

Artículo 18

Libertad de desplazamiento y nacionalidad

Artículo 19

Derecho a vivir de forma independiente y a ser incluido en la comunidad

Artículo 22

Respeto de la privacidad

Artículo 23

Respeto del hogar y de la familia

1.C) Las personas con discapacidad, incluidos los niños y las niñas, mantengan su fertilidad, en igualdad de condiciones con las demás.

Artículo 24

Educación

Artículo 25

Salud

Artículo 27

Trabajo y empleo

Artículo 28

Nivel de vida adecuado y protección social

Enumerados todos los derechos vinculantes que se violan a partir de la falta de respeto al art. 14, argumentaré los motivos por los que pido la PROHIBICIÓN ABSOLUTA DE LA PRIVACIÓN DE LA LIBERTAD INVOLUNTARIA.

En Argentina, exigir la prohibición absoluta de la libertad involuntaria por motivos de discapacidad psicosocial encuentra un horizonte de futuro posible con la prohibición establecida por la LNSM –Ley 26.657 – de la creación de nuevos manicomios públicos y privados en todo el territorio de la Nación y el cierre definitivo de todos para el año 2020.

La privación forzada de la libertad, -o internación involuntaria- o no por motivos de discapacidad psicosocial es claramente una acción discriminatoria, de acuerdo a la legislación argentina y el marco jurídico internacional:

“La discriminación es el acto de agrupar a los seres humanos según algún criterio que lleva a una forma de relacionarse socialmente. Concretamente, suele ser usado para hacer diferenciaciones que atentan contra la igualdad, ya que implica un posicionamiento jerarquizado entre grupos sociales 1, es decir, cuando se erige un grupo con más legitimidad o poder que el resto.

En el año 1988, se sancionó la Ley Nº 23.592 sobre Actos Discriminatorios que en su Artículo 1º reconoce como discriminación cualquier impedimento o restricción del pleno ejercicio “sobre bases igualitarias de los derechos y garantías fundamentales reconocidos en la Constitución Nacional […] por motivos tales como raza, religión, nacionalidad, ideología, opinión política o gremial, sexo, posición económica, condición social o caracteres físicos”. Asimismo, el documento titulado “Hacia un Plan Nacional contra la Discriminación”, aprobado por Decreto Nº 1086/2005.Instituto Nacional contra la Discriminación, la Xenofobia y el Racismo. (INADI ¿Qué es la discriminación?).-

 

La privación de la libertad involuntaria a partir de la  CDPD se constituye en un acto de violación de DD.HH.y el Estado se debe responsabilizar de ello[vi] pues  aún cuando en Argentina ha ratificado la CDPD y le ha dado status constitucional:

La Ley Nacional de Salud Mental Ley 26.657- que es considerada una Ley de Salud Mental modelo por todos los avances dirigidos hacia el nuevo paradigma social y del respeto de los DD.HH. de las personas con discapacidad, incurre en la violación del artículo 14 considerando que:

La LNSM En el Capítulo VII, Art. 20) contempla de la internación involuntaria:Ley 26.657 ARTICULO 20. — La internación involuntaria de una persona debe concebirse como recurso terapéutico excepcional en caso de que no sean posibles los abordajes ambulatorios, y sólo podrá realizarse cuando a criterio del equipo de salud mediare situación de riesgo cierto e inminente para sí o para terceros. Para que proceda la internación involuntaria, además de los requisitos comunes a toda internación, debe hacerse constar… “

Acá encontramos un argumento a favor de la internación involuntaria contraria a la letra de la CDPD y su art. 14.-

La idea que prevalece en este artículo de la LNSM es la del paradigma del MMH., encuentra gran receptividad tanto en los profesionales de la salud como así también de familiares. Desde la implementación de la LNSM no se cumple con el art. 14 de la CDPD pero tampoco se cumple con lo que estipula la LNSM en el Art. 20, pues la concepción de recurso terapéutico excepcional se convierte en letra muerta de la ley y es una mera formulación administrativa o de buenas intenciones si se pueden llamar así a los argumentos esgrimidos para privar de la libertad en forma involuntaria.

Este acto discriminatorio y violatorio de DD.HH. goza de un consenso intelectual que supone el encierro de las PcD como “un corte, una instancia de reordenamiento subjetivo”.

El “corte subjetivo” se produce en la PcD en el momento que se denomina crisis y no necesita de ser privada de la libertad. Se puede “volver a la vida plena” en la vida plena de poder padecer un “corte” de “conexión con la realidad” si se brindan todos los apoyos y ajustes necesarios para tornar viable la vida en la comunidad.

No podemos ser discriminados por ser personas con discapacidad psicosocial y considerar terapéutico el encierro y el aislamiento que es una práctica iatrogénica al igual que la medicación forzada.

Vuelvo sobre la necesidad de contextuar el texto.

En Argentina hay una gran resistencia de parte de los profesionales de la salud mental a mencionar el tema discapacidad ligado al tema de las problemáticas de la salud mental.

En este presente inmediato, hablar de Derechos Humanos en Argentina articulados con la Salud Mental o con cualquier otro aspecto de la vida de las personas en general es un tema que pone en cierto peligro a quien se anima a denunciar.

Mi opinión al respecto después de muchos años de indagar el tema es que los profesionales de la salud mental junto a una gran parte de la población no aceptan que las PcD psicosocial somos personas con el reconocimiento de la dignidad y el valor inherentes y de los derechos iguales e inalienables de todos los miembros de la familia humana.

No aceptan la condición de sujeto de derecho en igualdad de condiciones que invoca la CDPD y esto es especialmente notorio al observar que en Argentina, la LNSM Nro. 26.657, es despreciada e incumplida por la corporación médico-psiquiátrica quienes consideran que debe ser derogada porque entre algunos de sus acertados artículos se promueve la interdisciplinariedad, el cierre de la totalidad de los manicomios públicos y privados en todo el territorio nacional y también promueve las internaciones en hospitales generales (considerando el respeto a quien desee ser internado de forma voluntaria).-

El primer obstáculo para hacer notar que el art. 20 de la LNSM 26.657 viola el Art. 14 de la CDPD es que los profesionales de la salud y de la salud mental, los trabajadores sociales y un amplio espectro de la justicia y una enorme masa de la población en general no están dispuestos a respetar los DD.HH. de las PcD psicosocial y que las lógicas manicomiales prevalecen en el imaginario social sobre los avances y cambios que en la materia se vienen discutiendo a nivel mundial.

La mayoría de las internaciones que se realizan son involuntarias y en general no se cumplen los pasos que la LNSM dispone para estos casos. Una ingeniería perversa de mecanismos burocráticos actúa evitando que la información llegue a la justicia en tiempo y forma, haciendo permanecer a una persona hasta por cuatro meses internada sin haber ejercido ni el consentimiento informando sobre el tratamiento que le administran arbitrariamente ni tuvo acceso a un abogado defensor como lo estipula la LNSM.

Es de mi particular interés las internaciones involuntarias de niños/as-adolescentes y jóvenes por motivos vinculados al consumo problemático de sustancias psicotrópicas en instituciones aberrantes con la anuencia de sus familias y también, en el otro extremo del arco, a las personas mayores y la naturalización de su institucionalización en lugares llamados geriátricos, residencias u hogares que también, con un proceder perverso, ocultan las problemáticas de discapacidad mental más propias de la ancianidad, del deterioro cognitivo que puede aparecer con el avance de la edad y otras formas de discapacidad mental que no son atendidas en su particular singularidad y sí son privadas de la libertad casi siempre sin su propio consentimiento.

Entonces sufren internaciones involuntarias y así se violan los DD.HH. de:

Niñas, niños, adolescentes mujeres y hombres, jóvenes, adulta/os y ancianas/os declarados o no personas con discapacidad mental por razones vinculadas a problemáticas de la salud mental.

En todos estos casos prevalece el concepto discriminatorio que no tenemos igual reconocimiento como persona ante la ley.

Partiendo de esta premisa comenzaré a exponer de qué manera la internación, la privación de la libertad involuntaria es una verdadera violación de DD.HH. que comete el Estado atropellando derechos y aumentando la discapacidad y propiciando el empobrecimiento de las personas afectadas en sus intereses económicos, sociales y culturales.

La internación involuntaria es iatrogénica:

  • en lugar de un resultado positivo para la salud, la privación de la libertad junto a tratamientos con drogas psiquiátricas forzados generan enfermedades, atenta contra la salud psíquica y física de la persona y la despoja del ejercicio de un sinfín de derechos aún cuando no se haya restringido su capacidad jurídica y esto también en internaciones –involuntarias o no- a corto plazo.

La realidad de una gran mayoría es que su capacidad jurídica está restringida.

En Argentina actualmente hay más de 20.000 personas privadas de la libertad en manicomios públicos y privados, según datos poco fidedignos, en su mayoría hombres entre 20 y 40 años que en su mayoría llevan un promedio de 15 a 20 años de privación de la libertad. De esa mayoría un número elevado entró en el circuito de las internaciones por consumo problemático de sustancias psicotrópicas siendo el alcohol la que encabeza el listado de ellas, que no es una droga ilegal.

Es muy llamativo que los datos oficiales oculten las cifras que puedan informar la cantidad de niñas y mujeres privadas de la libertad de manera involuntaria que hay en el país y me animo a decir que debe ser significativamente superior a la cantidad de hombres privados de la libertad.

En todos o en casi todos esos casos, ya sea en el ámbito público como en el privado la violación al art. 14 de la CDPD conlleva la violación de todos los otros artículos de la CDPD enumerados anteriormente.

La libertad y la seguridad de la persona son avasalladas y entonces su integridad en el más amplio concepto de la palabra también.

Hay una gran parte de la población privada de la libertad por motivos de discapacidad psicosocial que desconocen su verdadera identidad. Están desprovistas de documentos de identidad. No tienen contacto con familiares desde hace años y han sido separados de su comunidad.

Muchos, con estudios iniciados, han perdido el derecho a continuarlos, otros directamente no acceden porque comienzan el derrotero de las internaciones psiquiátricas durante la infancia. Conocí en el manicomio a un hombre mayor de cincuenta años que estaba internado desde los cinco años, desde su primera infancia… y allí murió.

Las instituciones psiquiátricas tienden a incurrir en una doble violación al Derecho a la Salud, en tanto:

  1. La privación de la libertad involuntaria o no, es iatrogénica.
  2. La PcD psicosocial internada en instituciones psiquiátricas suele carecer de verdadera atención médica en otros aspectos que su salud requiera: la aparición de síntomas de un quebrantamiento de la salud física suele ser ignorado, “interpretado” como síntoma o manipulación de la PcD desde el discurso médico-psiquiátrico y también, se le niega el acceso a profesionales de otras especialidades. Ejemplo: la asistencia de un otorrinolaringólogo… “porque es incómodo el traslado a un servicio especializado” y la persona debe aceptar y tolerar no ser atendida. Esta triste realidad trae aparejado resultados muy graves: muertes por enfermedades tratables tanto en la población femenina como en la masculina. También se les niega el acceso a los tratamientos indicados por médicos especialistas en el caso que tengan acceso a una consulta.

Todo esto está reñido con el principio básico del ser en igualdad de condiciones.

La vida privada de la libertad “no es vida”.

La privación de la libertad acompañada por el tratamiento forzada con drogas psiquiátricas provoca una especie de muerte psíquica.

Los acontecimientos de la vida cotidiana bajo los efectos de la medicación psiquiátrica –forzada o no, dentro y fuera de la internación- se perciben como si se mirara a través de un vidrio esmerilado, la voz de los otros llega a uno con un efecto retardado, y nuestros pensamientos también resultan lentos bajo los efectos de las drogas psiquiátricas. El contacto con el otro, con el afuera, está “mediado” por una cortina invisible que ralentiza los movimientos por el cuerpo rigidizado y los sentidos aletargados.

Así, el otro, cualquiera que sea, nos percibe “raros” “distintos” y los médicos aseveran que es el “devenir propio de la enfermedad diagnosticada” negando de cuajo que ese estado es el efecto de la privación de la libertad y del tratamiento químico forzado.

Con la privación de la libertad involuntaria, suele aparecer un estado de apatía profundo, un gran desinterés por todo… en mi experiencia esta apatía y el desinterés –incluso de hablar y permanecer en un mutismo absoluto- lo produce la imposibilidad de comprender que para el círculo de personas de mi afecto, esa situación fuera considerada buena, que dijeran que me “encontraban mejor”… si realmente esa es la mirada que tienen mis afectos cercanos, sean familiares o amigos, debo decir que no tienen registro alguno de las vivencias ciertas de humillación y maltrato que se viven en una internación.

Hay personas que estando internadas involuntariamente, hacen abandono de su aspecto físico y de su higiene. También eso es leído como un aspecto de “su enfermedad”… no se lee como un efecto iatrogénico de la privación de la libertad.

Los cambios a los que el cuerpo se ve sometido, desde el notorio aumento de peso con la pérdida de las formas propias del cuerpo y además, la falta de agilidad que provoca la medicación que rigidiza los músculos y el estado de “desconexión” que las mismas producen – y se aumenta notablemente con la privación de la libertad-, son otros aspectos que la persona padece, que pueden resultar motivo de vergüenza o mayor disminución de la estima.

La persona privada de la libertad, en un manicomio, tiene que poder evaluar estrategias de supervivencia y muchas veces, las elecciones son “el mal menor” y no lo que corresponde ni es justo ni a lo que se tiene derecho aún cuando se sea plenamente consciente de que se tiene derecho.

Cabe aclarar que una gran mayoría de la población internada desconoce todos sus derechos y además, cree que no los tiene. En las PcD psicosocial institucionalizadas durante muchos años en forma permanente o intermitente, se notan conductas propias de las personas sometidas a gran sometimiento y la faceta que muestran con claridad es la idea de “no tener derechos”

Así es muy poco probable que ellos luchen por una forma de vida independiente, el derecho a ser incluid en la comunidad en igualdad de condiciones porque se perciben así mismos como “personas enfermas”

Es común escuchar a adolescentes afectados a tratamientos -involuntarios o no- por consumo excesivo de drogas psicotrópicas, y en especial alcohol, decir “no tengo derecho a nada porque he consumido drogas y ese discurso es avalado por los responsables de su rehabilitación y tratamiento y en cierta medida y en muchas oportunidades también ese concepto es sostenido por familiares, se suma a esto que los profesionales de la salud mental encuentran dificultades para aceptar que los problemas derivados del consumo excesivo de drogas legales o ilegales es un tema que debe ser abordado dentro del ámbito de la salud… y son enviados a lugares de encierro con un régimen propio y diría “sin ley” donde prevalece la ley del más fuerte que suele ser en general “un adicto recuperado” que impone tratos degradantes.

Así, son salvajemente humillados y denigrados, abusados sexualmente y de otras formas niñas/niños y adolescentes sometidos a trabajo solamente comparables a la tortura y la esclavitud en el marco de internaciones forzadas o no.

En relación a esta problemática de la salud mental el entramado es de una gran complejidad y la violación de DD.HH. es indescriptible.

Nadie que está privado de la libertad tiene la posibilidad de decidir un lugar de residencia por fuera del manicomio que le ha tocado en desgracia y en virtud de su status social o el de su familia…

La mayor cantidad de personas privadas de la libertad de modo involuntario lo son por problemas sociales y al mismo tiempo:

La mayor parte de las problemáticas llamadas “enfermedades mentales” provienen de problemas sociales no atendidos debidamente por el Estado y afectan de manera altamente significativa a la población de menos recursos.

Poblaciones importantes en las que, de generación en generación, han transcurrido sus vidas en situaciones de extrema pobreza sin conocimiento de los Derechos Humanos que los asisten si tienen la desgracia de “caer en el manicomio, no tienen salida”. Se patologiza la pobreza!!! Hay un perverso discurso que “dice que la persona no ha sido capaz de tener ingresos adecuados para su sustento y/o el de su familia y garantizar vivienda, educación y salud”.

Esa supuesta enfermedad de una persona: ¿cómo se llama cuándo el sistema de salud mental con la privación de la libertad –involuntaria o no- des-ancla a la persona de su vida, de sus bienes, de sus ingresos económicos, de su universidad o de su escuela de estudios primarios y así, la deja en un vacío de derechos y sobre eso la re-diagnostica?

No hay mayor factor discapacitante que la pobreza, el hambre, la falta de techo y de educación. Y eso puede ser un punto de partida o de llegada para una persona con discapacidad social.

También muchas personas que caen abruptamente en la pobreza como consecuencia de las crisis económicas que se conocen como “respuestas al humor de los mercados”, es decir: las crisis económicas resultado de propuestas políticas neoliberales y del salvaje capitalismo, arrojan a la “locura” y al intento de suicidio –cuando no a la muerte misma- a muchas personas que mantuvieron durante gran parte de su vida un status de vida acorde a los derechos propios de una persona trabajadora con derecho al trabajo, la salud y la vivienda como derechos básicos inalienables y esas personas, recalan en los manicomios con un diagnóstico de enfermos psiquiátricos pero en sus Historias Clínicas no constan las condiciones de existencia al momento de la internación ni sus antecedentes culturales, laborales, familiares y sociales, ni nada, absolutamente nada de su vida antes de haber sido calificado como enfermo/a psiquiátrico/a.

Con horror observo que la familia reproduce el sistema de pensamiento manicomial.

La misma familia termina violando el derecho al hogar y la familia.

Poco a poco se aleja hasta dejar en el abandono a la persona.

Se la priva de la familia, de los hijos y de los nietos.

La familia se aleja porque es estigmatizada y además no recibe psico-educación alguna para albergar al familiar que sufre y contribuir a su inserción en la comunidad. Todo lo contrario, siempre se acentúa el hecho que la persona está enferma, que su enfermedad es incurable y que con el tiempo estará cada vez peor.

Eso es verdad cuando a una persona la privan de la libertad, en forma involuntaria o no, porque todo lo que le va pasando no es consecuencia de su padecimiento espiritual, emocional o psíquico… es consecuencia del asilamiento tras los muros agudizado por la “droga- dependencia- inducida” y por la soledad impuesta, que llega a sus grados de tortura más elevado en las celdas de aislamiento o con la sujeción mecánica en los casos que la persona presente algún tipo de excitación motriz que bien pudo ser ocasionada por un ”medicamento” o por falta de una caricia… por un miedo extremo o por una profunda angustia que nadie parece dispuesto a aliviar con un acompañar en un cuerpo a cuerpo hasta que el terror disminuya.

¿Dónde están escritas las bases del encierro involuntario como forma de cura?

En la decisión de privar de la libertad a una persona con discapacidad psicosocial de manera forzada hay un pensamiento, hay una lógica “a priori” que dispone que esa persona “no tiene cura en su enfermedad” y es una persona gravosa para la comunidad a la que se atribuyen todo tipos de males para sí mismo y o para terceros y que merecen la condena del encierro. Esto subyace en el pensamiento de quienes ejercen autoridad sobre la PcD psicosocial y le restringen la vida y la sumen en una vida en su mínima expresión, carente de sueños y anhelos, de amor y de libertad.

En Argentina los manicomios en su mayoría cuentan con “dispositivos de inserción laboral” a los cuales las personas privadas de la libertad son “invitados” a participar. Esa invitación y la aceptación o no, lleva a aumentar la cantidad de etiquetas que una persona puede ir sumando en el encierro de acuerdo a lo que se llama la falta o no de “adherencia al tratamiento”. Si la persona acepta trabajar en un emprendimiento de inserción laboral intra-hospitalario, recibirá un peculio[vii]… una míseros centavos por su trabajo y si no acepta, se le calificará como a una persona “institucionalizada que no tiene voluntad ni interés en el trabajo” y con pocas posibilidades de su inserción en la comunidad.

Las personas que estando internadas nos preocupamos por nuestra situación laboral somos desmotivadas y se nos promueve un pensamiento basado en la imposibilidad de continuar con tareas “normales” y el “beneficio” de acceder a “pensiones por discapacidad”.

Sostener delante de un psiquiatra la firme decisión de continuar trabajando en el mercado de trabajo como un ciudadano más, es descalificado en sus palabras, se es tratado como una persona que niega su “incapacidad” y lo usual es que el médico psiquiatra desconozca absolutamente todo lo referido a esa persona: sus estudios, su historia laboral y su estándar de vida si se trata de un manicomio púbico y en uno privado, si la persona en situación de encierro tiene un estar en el mundo alivianado de preocupaciones económicas porque posee dinero suficiente… no es menos descalificado… solo que esa persona puede llegar a tener más posibilidades de una vida autónoma si es que los familiares no lo inhabilitan restringiendo su capacidad jurídica para hacer ellos, usufructo de los bienes económicos de la persona con discapacidad.

Ninguna persona que tenga como único sustento en Argentina una pensión por discapacidad puede acceder a una canasta básica de alimentos, ni a la vivienda ni a la salud, no puede tener una vida independiente y autónoma ni puede vivir con libertad en la comunidad porque sus ingresos económicos, que son considerados “un beneficio” social, no le permiten tener ninguna autonomía económica.

No existe un nivel de vida adecuado ni protección social verdadera.

Vuelvo sobre el rechazo en Argentina de parte de los profesionales de la salud por la noción de discapacidad de la “persona con padecimiento mental” en cualquiera de sus manifestaciones.

La discapacidad es una concepción que pone en cuestión a la tan preciada, tanto como despreciada “enfermedad mental” corriendo el eje de la enfermedad individual al eje de las barreras sociales que obstaculizan la libertad individual, lo que se da en llamar el cambio de paradigma.

Los aún hoy promotores de las lógicas manicomiales encuentran en la concepción de la discapacidad una herramienta que otorga derecho a quienes ellos le quieren negar -ya no los derechos- si no la vida misma condenándoles al encierro y al estado de ser muertos vivientes, verdaderos zombis que deambulan entre los muros sin más pregunta que si la inmunda comida llegó a la mesa o no… si alguien se acordó de su existencia y llegó de visita o no…

A las mujeres privadas de la libertad se les puede llegar a producir la esterilidad quirúrgica…de modo involuntario… como se las puede prostituir… o abusar sexualmente de ellas y provocarle embarazos no deseados y hasta obligarlas a abortos o someterlas al robo de sus hijos…

Ingresar al manicomio es ingresar a la mismísima anomia[viii]: no se tuvo vida, la vida comienza y termina en los muros del manicomio.

La falta de ley a la que la palabra anomia refiere es lo que hace del manicomio un territorio que es tierra de nadie… y feudo de unos cuántos a la vez… en ese feudo la crueldad es ejercida con menos sutileza a medida que el ejecutor se aleja de la jerarquía del psiquiatra… y llega al personal de limpieza…

La degradación del concepto de ser humano y ser humano en igualdad de condiciones se traduce en el concepto de enfermo mental que es legislado por una concepción que se rige por un supuesto científico que designa la normalidad de las personas…

¿Quién puede decir yo soy normal, usted es normal y usted no sin sonrojarse?

Solamente alguien enceguecido de soberbia, solamente un ser que tanto teme a la locura, es capaz de pensar que es posible encerrarla tras los muros sin cometer violación de DD.HH.

La anomia en este caso es el estado provocado por un conjunto de personas que han degradado del juramento hipocrático y de otras que ejercen la violación de Derechos Humanos.

Para los que imponen esa legislación –paradójicamente carente de ley- para los que degradan con sus conceptos la condición humana al extremo de la privación involuntaria de la libertad, de tratamientos forzados, de humillaciones, torturas y tratos degradantes… para ellos la concepción de la diversidad funcional no existe y sin embargo, los involucra en tanto seres humanos- lo peor que les puede pasar es probar su propia medicina.

Puedo escribir miles de palabras más para tratar de transmitir la tortura que significa ser privada de la libertad – forma involuntaria o no- y de las graves consecuencias en mi salud y la observada en la salud de otros, como yo, obligados a la ingesta de drogas psiquiátricas en contra de nuestra voluntad.

Sin embargo, los profesionales de la salud mental con compendios de siglas alfanuméricas que definen conductas como los son los DSM y el CIE viven tan pagados de sus saberes y tan pagados por la industria farmacéutica y por los circuitos económicos que se destinan al sistema de salud,

  • son incapaces de recapacitar sobre sus prácticas, sobre su negación del paradigma de la discapacidad y ni pensar que puedan asomar su inteligencia al mundo de la diversidad funcional,
  • ni pueden comprender un mundo en evolución a velocidades nunca vividas en direcciones impensables hace menos de un cuarto de siglo, que desborda de nuevas problemáticas sociales donde todo parece desquiciado[ix] y estallado -y no necesariamente enfermo- sino nuevo y desconocido.

Como nuevo y desconocido hasta hace poco en Argentina es que nosotros, las PcD psicosocial, tenemos derechos y somos sujetos de derechos, pedimos trato en pie de igualdad y nos negamos a la internación involuntaria y al tratamiento forzado.

Hay una palabra en psicología muy interesante: constructo.

No voy a definir con exactitud el término, voy a explicar que constructo viene a designar esos aspectos que se saben que existen pero son difíciles de probar, de definir o controvertidos al momento de querer hacerlos “objetivables”.

Son constructos la inteligencia, la personalidad y la creatividad.

Me pregunto en qué lugar del cerebro está el recuerdo del olor dulce de mi abuela paterna… y de la voz de mi madre… dónde se guardan las canciones de cuna con las que he mecido el sueño de mis niños… dónde en el cerebro está el registro del primer diente, de la primera risa, de la primera travesura de mis hijos…en qué célula está el clima que rodeaba la escena que recuerdo de mi padre lustrando mis zapatos para ir a la escuela… dónde viven en mí los cuentos de hadas y brujas, el encanto del otoño teñido con el recuerdo del primer beso… donde se localizan los recuerdos de los compañeros desaparecidos, cómo perduran sus voces a pesar de los años… dónde se almacena todo lo aprendido y dónde permanece lo desaprendido, donde se produce y se reproduce la capacidad de amar cuando se ha sido vejada… cómo y donde están objetivados en mi cerebro lo que me permite pensar en colores para pintar, danzar, reír y llorar… olvidar y recordar…

Me pregunto de qué otra manera se puede privar de la libertad en forma involuntaria si no es a la fuerza y si no es desconociendo los derechos que nos atañen.

Esa fuerza tan bien descrita por Antonin Artaud en su CARTA A LOS DIRECTORES DE LOS ASILOS DE LOS LOCOS. “……………………………………………………….No nos sorprende ver hasta qué punto ustedes están por debajo de una tarea para la que sólo hay muy pocos predestinados. Pero nos rebelamos contra el derecho concedido a ciertos hombres – incapacitados o no – de dar por terminadas sus investigaciones en el campo del espíritu con un veredicto de encarcelamiento perpetuo……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. ¡Y qué encarcelamiento! Se sabe – nunca se sabrá lo suficiente – que los asilos, lejos de ser “asilos”, son cárceles horrendas donde los recluidos proveen mano de obra gratuita y cómoda, y donde la brutalidad es norma. Y ustedes toleran todo esto. El hospicio de alienados, bajo el amparo de la ciencia y de la justicia, es comparable a los cuarteles, a las cárceles, a los penales…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Esperamos que mañana por la mañana, a la hora de la visita médica, recuerden esto, cuando traten de conversar sin léxico con esos hombres sobre los cuales – reconózcanlo – sólo tienen la superioridad que da la fuerza.[x]

Lucila López

Usuaria y Sobreviviente de la Psiquiatría                                                                                           Psicóloga Social                                                                                                                                                                                            Psicodramatista                                                                                                                                       Analista Institucional                                                                                                                             Agente Comunitaria en Prevención de adicciones.

Miembro de WNUSP

Miembro de INWWD 

 

C.A.B.A

ARGENTINA

______________________________________________

Escrito por Lucila López en apoyo a la CAMPAÑA POR LA PROHIBICIÓN ABSOLUTA DE LA PRIVACIÓN DE LA LIBERTAD Y EL TRATAMIENTO FORZADO DE LAS PERSONAS CON DISCAPACIDAD PSICOSOCIAL, POR EL CUMPLIMIENTO IRRESTRICTO DEL ART. 14.- Buenos Aires, Argentina, Marzo 14, 2016

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[i] Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities /Guidelines on article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesThe right to liberty and security of persons with disabilities/

Adopted during the Committee’s 14th session, held in September 2015

[ii] Estela de Carlotto, Presidenta a Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo uno de los organismos más importantes de Derechos Humanos de la Argentina.

[iii] *) Barrabasada: 2. Hecho equivocado que origina un gran destrozo o perjuicio. (evil thing) RAE

[iv] Y la de todos los privados de la libertad por motivos de discapacidad psicosocial.

[v] Ley NSM viola el art. 12 al decir: “Se presume la capacidad jurídica”… En la CDPD el art. 12 especifica “igual reconocimiento ante la ley”…

 

[vi] Se hace indispensable el resarcimiento económico.

[vii] *) Para el libre ejercicio del artículo 19, el respeto absoluto del art. 27 – Trabajo y empleo es una condición inalienable y elemental.

Me voy a detener a explicar en el significado de peculio porque es gravísimo que haya muchas PcD psicosocial y con otras discapacidades también, que trabajen con carácter obligatorio y sean pagadas con un peculio porque eso es rayano a un sistema de esclavitud.  El Derecho al Trabajo y al Empleo se viola de manera flagrante y es una vergüenza.

Peculio.- Significado – etimología- definiciones. Del lat. peculium.

  1. m. Dinero y bienes propios de una persona.
  2. m. Hacienda o caudal que el padre o señor permitía al hijo o siervo para su uso y comercio.

La palabra peculio proviene en su etimología del latín “peculium” que a su vez deriva de “pecus” que significa ganado, ya que esa era la medida que se aplicaba para valorar los bienes, cuando no existía la moneda. Los peculios eran porciones pequeñas de bie

nes, que se separaban en el antiguo Derecho Romano, del patrimonio familiar, que pertenecía en su integridad y en propiedad al pater, jefe de la unidad político religiosa en qué consistía la familia, y varón de mayor edad dentro de ella. Destina una pequeña porción a hijo y esclavos. También relacionado con el ámbito carcelario.

Hasta hace pocos días el peculio era de $150.- mensuales, equivalentes a  u$s 0,34 diarios.

Actualmente el peculio es $300.- mensuales equivalente a u$s 20,34 = u$s 0,68 diarios.

Los talleres protegidos para personas con discapacidad están naturalizados y solamente en la Provincia de Buenos Aires, hay 4.500 personas con discapacidad que trabajan en más 173 talleres protegidos.  En la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires un importante taller protegido, las personas con discapacidad psicosocial  hacen  los muebles para la administración pública y hospitales de la ciudad.

El actual valor del peculio en la Provincia de Buenos Aires fue anunciado hace pocos días por el Ministro de Desarrollos Social quien dijo: “van a recibir 300 pesos por mes como parte del peculio, en lugar de los 150 que cobran actualmente, que van a servir no solo para ayudar a ellos sino también a sus familias”. Asimismo informó que los operarios recibirán una tarjeta para la compra de productos alimenticios por un monto de 100 pesos mensuales. (equivalente a u$s 0,21 diarios ¡para alimentos! ¿Y consideran que deben ayudar a la familia!

Al día 14 de enero de 2016 se les adeudaba el pago desde septiembre de 2015.

[viii] Anomia: del gr. ἀνομία anomía.1. f. Ausencia de ley. 2. f. Psicol. y Sociol. Conjunto de situaciones que derivan de la carencia de normas sociales o de su degradación RAE

[ix] Desquiciar

  1. tr. Desencajar o sacar de quicio algo. Desquiciar una puerta, una ventana.U. t. c. prnl. U. t. en sent. fig.
  2. tr. Descomponer algo quitándole la firmeza con que se mantenía. U. t. c. prnl.
  3. tr. Trastornar, descomponer o exasperar a alguien. U. t. c. prnl.
  4. tr. p. us. Hacer perder a alguien la privanza, o la amistad o valimiento con otrapersona. RAE

[x] http://lalibertaddeotrodecir.blogspot.com.ar/2016/03/carta-los-directores-de-los-asilos-de.html

 

 

 

 

 

Workfare coercion in UK – Anne-Laure Donskoy

Workfare coercion in the UK: an assault on persons with disabilities and their human rights

Anne-Laure Donskoy_Survivor researcher, UK

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While there is a lot of focus on coercion organised and implemented in psychiatry, less attention is being paid to state engineered welfare measures based on libertarian paternalism1, which have coercive practices at their core. Among them are policies that strongly support behavioural change using positive psychology and cognitive behavioural therapy. Freidli and Stearn (2015)2 call this “psychocompulsion”. These policies and measures are increasingly used to ambush and coerce persons with disabilities and the long term sick into adopting new ways of being and living conditions under the constant threat of sanctions and which have driven many to attempt to their lives. This paper builds on the work of Friedli and Stearn3 as an attempt to highlight current coercive welfare policies, including forcing ‘therapy’ on individuals, as human rights violation of the CRPD.

 

Background: Psychocompulsion as state sponsored human rights violations

Psychocompulsion, the use of psychological strategies to “nudge” individuals to make “life changes” that fit a political ideology or programme, is not entirely new to the UK. Already in the 1970s, some long term job claimants would be sent for a medical examination, on the premise that if people were not physically ill then they should be able to find and take up work, any work. This had all the flavours of Victorian paternalism written all over it. The ‘mentally disordered’ and the ‘mentally handicapped’ experienced a particular brand of paternalism, hidden away from society and from consciousness in specialist homes and services, often suffering physical and mental abuse or used in rehabilitation work with little or no protection.

Today, psychocompulsion in the UK has been promoted by the Behavioural Insights Team (nicknamed the “Nudge Unit”), now in private hands as a social purpose company but still working closely with the Cabinet Office4, thereby guaranteeing prime influence on policy making. It is clear that psychocompulsion is being used to lock individuals, including the long term unemployed, the sick and persons with disabilities, into back-to-work schemes as a conditionality of welfare. In recent months and weeks, voices of dissent have arisen mostly from social movements, denouncing the use of coercion which put people’s lives at risk5.

As Friedli and Stearn’s paper show, this finger wagging attitude has taken on a far more sinister slant.

First, it turns on its head the idea that unemployment is the product of a failing economy by strongly suggesting that it is a state of mind, worse still a ‘mental illness’ that can be corrected by changing the psychology of claimants, thus placing the onus of responsibility for success, for betterment, for choice etc. on the individuals themselves. This totally ignores issues of social (in-)justice.

Second, it widens the scope by netting in the most vulnerable people in society, specifically the long term sick and those with disabilities, including psychosocial disabilities. This strategy narrowly avoids attracting full-on accusations of discrimination by putting these individuals on par with the long term unemployed and by stressing ad nauseam that the policy is about helping people which should be achieved through (any type of paid) employment. Paid employment becomes the embodiment and the “pinnacle of human experience”.6

Third, the underlying premise that ‘work is good for you’ ignores those dissenting voices which argue that without strong provisos (taking into account the complexity of individual circumstances, choice, timeliness, appropriateness as much as the quality of support and work on offer) the argument is both unhelpful and counterproductive7, and can have devastating consequences for those concerned.

Finally, the stance of the policy totally fits within the libertarian paternalism agenda which moves away from collective to total individual (libertarian) responsibility, slowly realising Ayn Rand’s vision for a permanently productive (and permanently disposable/replaceable) workforce serving an elite. In this scheme, all coercive strategies acquire a legitimacy that the psychiatric survivor movement rejects.

 

Being ill or disabled, and on welfare benefits: state coercion and the CRPD

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduced a wide range of reforms to the benefits and tax credits system. The stated aim was to reduce the financial burden of the cost of welfare. This is being achieved by introducing ever drastic and punitive policies under the guises of a responsibilisation agenda, underpinned with an intense authoritarian ideology not seen or experienced since Victorian times. The Tory manifesto of the 2015 general elections claimed it aimed to help people with mental health issues back in to work. The reality is very different and people with mental health issues clearly face discriminations which other groups do not.

 

Article 4: The rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities are violated under the social security scrutiny regime:

When people with mental health issues are on welfare benefits, they find themselves the object of intense, intrusive and inappropriate scrutiny by the system, notably through the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which has consistently failed these claimants as it is totally unsuited to their singular predicaments and experiences. As a result, more and more people are placed on the Work Related Activity Group of the Employment and Support Allowance which comes with strict conditionalities. Also affected are those under the new Universal Credit (UC) system which is being rolled out for all benefits claimants which places yet another layer of scrutiny on individuals, possibly more so those in work.

 

Article 1-5: Discrimination

A judicial review in 2013 found that the WCA process actively discriminates against people with mental health issues. Since then very little has been done to change the process and the status quo remains.

The Centre for Welfare reform, in its recent report A Fair Society?, also shows that persons with disabilities are targeted the most despite the fact that they have the greatest and often most complex needs.

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Article 10: Right to life: “States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others”.

A poll of over 1,000 GPs commissioned by Rethink Mental Illness in 2015, found that over 20% have patients who have felt suicidal due to the WCA8.

In a report sent to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the senior coroner for inner north London, Mary Hassell, said “the trigger” for the suicide was the man being found fit for work by the department”9.

[A Freedom of Information request has] revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has investigated decisions, via peer reviews, about the welfare payments of 60 claimants following their deaths. A peer review, according to the DWP guidance for employees, must be undertaken when suicide is associated with DWP activity to ensure that any DWP action or involvement with the person was appropriate and procedurally correct.10

 

Article 13: Access to justice: 13.1: “States Parties shall ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural and age-appropriate accommodations, in order to facilitate their effective role as direct and indirect participants, including as witnesses, in all legal proceedings, including at investigative and other preliminary stages.”

Benefit claimants who wish to appeal a decision need access to justice. This represents an expense they can ill afford (if at all) therefore need access to legal aid. However, the Ministry of Justice has removed welfare benefits matters from the scope of legal aid funding, thereby denying access to justice and discriminating against the most vulnerable and poorest, among whom people with mental health issues:

In order to challenge a decision of a First-tier Tribunal (FtT) the appellant needs to identify an error of law in the FtT’s decision and then request permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (UT). The process of appealing on a point of law to the UT has two stages, but, for the reasons set out below, the legal aid contract only covers the second stage … The absence of any legal aid at Stage One of an appeal to a UT on a point of law represents a major flaw in the current scheme as it is simply unrealistic to expect an appellant to draft an appeal on a point of law without any assistance.11

In the future, social security claimants who find themselves faced with an incorrect Upper Tribunal decision, or who win their case at the Upper Tribunal but find themselves on the receiving end of an appeal by the DWP12, HMRC13 or a local authority, could be facing the courts and the costs risks attached on their own or not at all.14

In practice, benefit claimants who wish to appeal decisions have to resort to charitable organisations to support them through the process. However these are seeing their funding cut, or they are not coping with increasing number of calls for help.15 There has also been some criticism from within the legal system with regard to persons with intellectual disabilities on matters of legal representation regarding privation of liberty; the same issues also apply to persons with psychosocial disabilities:

The Law Society, which represents solicitors throughout England and Wales, intervened [in a particular case]. Its president, Jonathan Smithers, said: “When a vulnerable person doesn’t have friends or family to represent them during a decision to restrict their liberty, it is vital that person is able to participate in the decision-making process . . . If this is not possible then they must have a legal representative to protect their rights as well as their health and general welfare. Those who are least able to defend themselves should not be sacrificed on the altar of austerity.” 16

 

Actively changing the narrative of workfare and welfare benefits

The narrative of welfare is changing drastically. As Friedi says, we are moving from a “what people have to do [to find work] to what they have to be [demonstrating the right attitude to be employable]17. This is exemplified through the new ‘Work and Health Programme’ planned to be rolled out in England and Wales.

This programme has many strands, including:

−   Embedding psychological services within Job Centres

−   Placing ‘job coaches’ within GP surgeries for people with certain conditions (specifically people with mental health issues): the ‘Working Better’ pilot scheme is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and the coaches will be provided by welfare to work agency, Remploy (a welfare-to-work subsidiary of the Maximus).

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This programme blurs the boundary between health and welfare, health and work domains, in a way that has not happened before. This is a coordinated move to effectively bring in the benefits system within NHS care: joblessness, being unemployed becomes an illness, specifically a mental illness which needs to and care be cured through psychological therapies.

It will not only extend benefit conditionality into the NHS but also compromise clinical independence and clinical ethics. In practice, people who display the wrong attitude to work, to work placements or who have been unemployed for a long time will be referred to psychologists and given forced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and be sent many motivational emails and text messages throughout the week; or they will be prescribed referrals to an in-house ‘job coach’. Failure to comply with these forced prescriptions will trigger an immediate sanction regime. This will inevitably threaten if not destroy that first quality that patients place in their doctor, trust. People may become reluctant to say anything whether it is about their situation or their health for fear of being forced into the schemes.

 

CRPD violations:

Articles 1-5: (equality, choice, autonomy, capacity)

Persons with disabilities are specifically targeted by the new measures

 

Article 25 (Right to health):

Currently both schemes are in the early stages of being rolled out (pilot stage) and the official line claims that they are voluntary. However, as the Tory manifesto stated “We will help you back into work if you have a long-term yet treatable condition”, this is set to become compulsory: “People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work. If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether their benefits should be reduced.”(p. 28). However, being forced to receive “therapy” for a “treatable condition” is not the same thing as being offered support, which would imply that the individual is free to choose to take it up or not. Most observers agree that what is currently taking place on a voluntary basis as part of the pilot projects will become compulsory, which would only follow the UK Government’s own stance of applying any means to get people “back to work”18.

This means that people with mental health problems will no longer be able to freely choose to consent, or withhold their consent, to ‘treatment’. There is also a high risk that people will feel intimidated into consenting to undergo these ‘therapies’. This is very similar to what happens in psychiatry whereby the right to health is invoked to forcibly treat people for their own good, “in their best interest” … but as their only option. To decline a recommended treatment or to fail to comply to the letter with the injunctions and expectations of the system will result in benefits sanctions.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the approach chosen by the Government is highly controversial and does not suit everybody. Therefore a one-fits-all approach, whether it is applied forcibly or not, will be counterproductive as it may make some people feel worse (counter to their right to health) and shows the total lack of understanding of the often complex and singular situations of persons with disabilities.

 

Art 10: (Right to life)

Any Government that uses coercion and sanctions as a means to a political end must take full responsibility for the consequences of its actions. As with the Work Capability Assessment, people being coerced into receiving behavioural or any therapy they did not fully consent to, may experience adverse effects (making people even more unwell by making them even poorer and forcing them to live in a constant state of anxiety, making them suicidal).

It also denies the person as an autonomous individual able to make their own choices (Art 12, Equal recognition before the law; Art 16, Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse and threatens their integrity (Art 17)).

It also contradicts the Government’s own claims that it is doing everything to make UK domestic law compliant with the CRPD:

The Convention is not legally binding in domestic law in the UK but is given effect through the comprehensive range of existing and developing legislation, policies and programmes that are collectively delivering the Government’s vision of equality.19

 

Article 17 (Protecting the integrity of the person): The issue of coercion goes beyond “designating work as a cure for unemployment and poverty”20 as Friedli puts it; this is also about changing people’s societal status and identity. In the new narrative, there are productive and unproductive individuals, therefore there is no such thing as a long-term sick or disabled person (all disabilities included). These notions pretty much disappear in the name of inclusiveness and fairness (in relation to so-called “hard working people”21 who are deserving of help and will do their utmost not to rely on the state for their individual needs).

Language is indeed important in this context, and language is shifting. As many have observed, ‘sick notes’ have become ‘fit notes’, the term ‘disability’ too is being erased as ‘Disability Living Allowance’ becomes ‘Personal Individual Payment’. This speaks to a simplistic but powerful narrative of ‘can-do-no-matter-what’ supported by having a compulsory ‘right attitude, which is where psychocompulsion comes in. Nudging then forcing people into having the ‘right attitude’.

 

Forcing people back to work by reducing their welfare benefits

Persons with disabilities are clearly targeted over and above other categories of individuals (Art 1-5 equality, discrimination, choice, autonomy). Indeed, another form of coercion has emerged through a recent drastic to the ESA in weekly support from £103 to £73, contained in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. It will apply to new ESA claimants in the work-related activity group. This vote, pushed through Parliament on 7 March 201622, is meant to “incentivise disabled people to find work quicker”. This (purely ideological) decision will not only strip them of financial security but also reinforce the idea, by bringing the rate into line with Jobseeker’s Allowance, that disability no longer exists, that anyone can and should work, that there are only productive (deserving) and unproductive (undeserving) people.

 

An unethical social experiment

It has come to light that these new programmes are also the subject of ‘research’. The new Work and Health Programme is currently at a research and trialing stage23. As Kitty Jones writes,

Part of the experimental nudge element of this research entails enlisting GPs to “prescribe” job coaches, and to participate in constructing “a health and work passport to collate employment and health information.24

However, this ‘research’ (if one can call it so), has been heavily criticised because it is not sanctioned according to the usual robust ethical guidelines. Research that adheres to robust ethical guidelines would absolutely seek not to cause harm to its participants, and would seek their informed consent beforehand25. This is not the case here where claimants are the participants are the involuntary and ‘unconsented’ participants of an experiment they know nothing about.

There are a wide range of legal and Human Rights implications connected with experimentation and research trials conducted on social groups and human subjects.26

A spokesperson for Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), talked of the UN CRPD Committee’s visit to the UK and described the situation thus:

It means the UN will examine the vicious and punitive attacks on disabled people’s independent living as well as the cuts which have seen so many placed in inhuman circumstances and has led to unnecessary deaths.27

 

Articles 1-5: discrimination against persons with disabilities who are targeted through this programme.

Article 9: right to communication: The existence of this experiment and the format of its conduct has not been communicated with the claimants (the participants).

 

Article 10 (Right to Life): when coercion brings people to the brink of suicide or they succeed in killing themselves (one court case at least has pronounced on the clear link between benefits sanctions and reasons for suicide):

Research from the Black Triangle campaign group found more than 80 cases of suicide directly linked to billions of pounds in benefit cuts. John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said: “The Dept of Work and Pensions refuses to reveal the findings of their own peer reviews of suicides linked to the sanctions so we will never know the truth in those cases. . . He said the Work Capability Assessment regime applied to all sick and disabled people, without adequate risk assessment ‘built into the system’28

Mortality rates bring their own tales of woe:

[The government] published or, rather, was forced to after several Freedom of Information requests – that show more than 80 people a month are dying after being declared “fit for work”. These are complex figures but early analysis points to two notable facts. First that

2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after being judged “fit for work” and rejected for the sickness and disability benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). We also now know that 7,200 claimants died after being awarded ESA and being placed in the work-related activity group – by definition, people whom the government had judged were able to “prepare” to get back to work.29

 

Articles 12, 17, 19: Coercive measures embedded in all aspects of the Work and Health Programme and its various tools and strategies run counter to the premise that the person is free and able to make choices for themselves, and considerably threatens their right to independent living when they are forced into poverty.

Nothing seems to shift the current UK Government’s assault on people with disabilities or long term sickness, and on their human rights. Not the many Freedom of Information requests which have revealed that the DWP did look into the death of 60 benefits claimants but sat on the findings; nor a Commons Select Committee inquiry into benefits sanctions in April 2015, nor the visit by the UN CRPD committee at the request of a disability group (DPAC) in the late autumn of 2015, nor a coroner’s report clearly linking a claimant’s suicide to the stress caused by the Work Capability Assessment. The UK is effectively engineering and encouraging coercive and punitive policies that specifically target people with disabilities and the long term sick, putting their lives and their future at high risk. Many have observed that ‘austerity’ was only ever an excuse to establish and implement ideological policies. This is not about saving money in hard times; this is about the willful annihilation of the disabled, either through language or deeds.

 

Anne-Laure Donskoy

March 2016

 

Notes:

1https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/the-goverments-reductive-positivistic-approach-to-social-research- is-a-nudge-back-to-the-nineteenth-century/– The idea that it is both possible and legitimate for governments, public and private institutions to affect and change the behaviours of citizens whilst also [controversially] “respecting freedom of choice.”

2 Friedli L, et al. Med Humanit 2015;41:40–47. doi:10.1136/medhum-2014-010622

3 See also this short film: https://vimeo.com/157125824

4 http://www.behaviouralinsights.co.uk/

5 http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/coroners-ground-breaking-verdict-suicide-was-triggered-by-fit-for-work-test/

6Cole M. Sociology contra government? The contest for the meaning of unemployment in UK policy debates. Work Employment Soc 2008;22(1):27–43.

7 Even the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) who are driving these policies, acknowledged in a 2006 study have put forth provisos that “account must be taken of the nature and quality of work and its social context” and that, for sick and disabled people, “there is little direct reference or linkage to scientific evidence on the physical or mental health benefits of (early) (return to) work for sick or disabled people.” 8https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/is-work-good-for-your-health-and-well-being

https://www.rethink.org/media-centre/2012/09/new-gp-survey-shows-government-welfare-test-is-pushing- vulnerable-people-to-the-brink

9 See note 3

10 https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/02/05/welf-f05.html

11 https://gclaw.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/what-legal-aid-is-still-available-for-work-undertaken-on-welfare-benefits-post-laspo/

12 Department of Works and Pensions

13 Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs

14 http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/legal-aid-reform-or-termination

15 http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/25/benefit-cuts-welfare-linked-mental-health

16 http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/10/judge-challenges-government-over-legal-representation-for-

vulnerable-people?CMP=share_btn_tw

17 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt-V0e0-ipY

18 A side point has been made by Friedli and others about the questionable ethics of those clinical psychologists who accept to take part in such initiatives and about the rapid expansion of the back-to-work industry.

19 Office for Disability Issues, UK Initial Report On the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, May 2011,

www.odi.gov.uk/un-report

20 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt-V0e0-ipY

21 An expression used as a constant leitmotiv by the UK government.

22 Ministers claimed “financial privilege” to assert the Commons’ right to have the final say on budgetary measures

23 http://php.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/research/summs/esa.php

24 https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/the-department-for-work-and-pensions-dont-know-what-their-ethical-and- safeguarding-guidelines-are-but-still-claim-they-have-some/

25 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_research_in_social_science

26 See note 15

27 http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/confirmed-un-is-investigating-uks-grave-violations-of-disabled-peoples-rights/

28http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/more-80-suicide-cases-directly-5634404

29 http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/27/death-britains-benefits-system-fit-for-work-safety-net

 

 

Don Weitz: Fight to be Free

Fight To Be Free: Abolish Involuntary Commitment and Forced Psychiatric Treatment – A Submission to Committee on Rights for Persons with Disabilities/CRPD 

by Don Weitz

Over 60 years ago, I was labeled “schizophrenic”, locked up and forcibly drugged 110 times with subcoma insulin shock in Mclean Hospital, a psychoprison (psychiatric hospital) near Boston, affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Because I was going through an existential identity crisis – psuychiatrized as “mental illness” & “schizophrenia” – struggling to find out what I wanted to do or be with my life in college, my family colluded with the psychiatrists to “treat” and involuntarily committed me, locked me up without my consent. For 15 months, I lived on an all-male ward with 15- 20 other patients, some brain-damaged by electroshock and lobotomy, others intimidated and traumatized by “safe and effective” psychiatric drugs, all of us suffered the degradation and humiliation of being incarcerated, having our daily institutional lives totally controlled by shrinks. After I was “discharged” in 1953, I suffered frequent anxiety or panic attacks for the next few years while studying psychology in university and seeing other psychiatrists. At that time, patients had no legal or civil rights, including no right to appeal involuntary committal, I had no right to appeal or refuse insulin shock or any unwanted psychiatric treatment. I know something about what it feels like to be treated like a prisoner, what it’s like to lose your freedom without a hearing or trial – preventive detention which is what involuntary committal really is. I know what it’s like to be tortured in the coercive and inhumane psychiatric system where human rights are sanitized as ”privileges”. Violations of our human rights in the 1950s are still violated today. Human rights in psychiatry are a sham. (1).

Involuntary Committal

Involuntary committal is a legal atrocity that must be abolished. It’s a very common and widespread legal psychiatric procedure enforced by psychiatrists, judges and police in virtually every country where psychiatry is legitimized by oppressive mental health laws and promoted by psychiatrically-biased government officials and the corporate media – the psychiatric police state. Involuntary committal laws authorize the incarceration or imprisonment of people in all psychiatric facilities and mental health centres, not just for days but also for weeks, months or years – particularly under the Ontario government’s “certificates of renewal.” (2,3) To be clear, involuntary committal is loss of freedom without a public hearing or trial and without charge of any civil or criminal offence. Although legal and enforced by many states and provinces, involuntary committal is actually preventive detention which is strictly prohibited under international human rights law; virtually all provincial and state mental health laws violate our human rights and international law, yet there’s little or no awareness, discussion and resistance re this grim fact.

In Ontario, the criteria for depriving a citizen of freedom are so ill-defined, vague and broad they can apply to virtually any person. Involuntary committal qualifies as a blatant violation of human rights or “patients’ rights” which are never mentioned in mental health legislation. Consider this wording of “involuntary admission” and initial 72-hour psychiatric assessment in Ontario’s Mental Health Act:

“Conditions for involuntary admission –

(a) that the patient is suffering from a mental disorder of a nature or quality that likely will result in,

(i) serious bodily harm to the patient,

(ii) serious bodily harm to another person, or

(iii) serious physical impairment of the patient,

or [will result] in substantial mental or physical deterioration

unless the patient remains in the custody of  a psychiatric facility;…” (4)

Under the Act’s definitions, “mental disorder means any disease or disability of the mind.” This definition is a legal fiction, it’s nonsensical, illogical and unscientific; as an abstraction or theoretical construct the mind, as Szasz has pointed out, can not be diseased or disabled, only the body can be diseased. Further, this key definition obviously supports psychiatry’s unscientific and discredited biomedical medical of “mental illness” which is entrenched in all editions of the equally discredited Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatry’s bible of bogus and stigmatizing diagnostic labels. Further, the phrase “substantial mental or physical or deterioration” is dangerously imprecise and subjective, it allows any physician to lock up and label innocent citizens simply by signing certificates such as “Form 1” which authorizes an initial 72 hour period of observation and assessment”, frequently followed by “Form 2” which authorizes 2 weeks of  involuntary commitment followed by “Form 3 which authorizes an additional 30 days and longer periods under a “certificate of renewal.” Also, the key term “ likely will result” is extremely misleading and problematic since it is common knowledge that psychiatrists can not validly and reliably predict harm, dangerousness or violence.

Forced Treatment

It’s bad enough that psychiatrists have so much power and that so many are incompetent while depriving thousands, if not millions of innocent people of freedom every day; however, they also have the power to forcibly treat or assault us – in the name of “mental health” of course. Although “informed consent” is a key medical-ethical concept and principle in medicine and has been since the historic Nuremberg Code of 1947, it’s frequently violated in psychiatry and the mental health system, another sham. Why7 Because psychiatrists and other physicians routinely ignore or violate its basic criteria. Consider these fundamental requirements of consent and informed consent   to treatmeent clearly and concisely spelled out in Ontario’s Health Care Consent Act:

Elements of Consent

The following are the elements required for consent to treatment:

1.The consent must relate to treatment.

2.The consent must be informed.

3.The consent must be given voluntarily.

  1. The consent must not be given through misrepresentation or fraud.

Informed consent

1.The nature of the treatment.

2.The expected benefits of the treatment.

3.The material risks of the treatment.

4.The material side effects of the treatment.

5.Alternative courses of action.

6.The likely consequences of not having the treatment. (5)

Although some psychiatric survivors may have consented to psychiatric drugs (“medication”) and/or electroshock (“ECT”), virtually none has been fully informed of their major risks and alternatives. For many, such consent has been given involuntarily-by threat, staff pressure, intimidation, physical restraint or force. During the public hearings on electroshock in Toronto in April 2005, not one survivor recalled being informed about the major effects of  “ECT” such as permanent memory loss, brain damage, and trauma; non-medical or community alternatives were never mentioned. Similar consent violations were recalled during survivor testimony on psychiatric drugs (”medication”). In other words, informed consent to psychiatric treatment is a myth, virtually nonexistent, particularly in psychiatric facilities. (6)  Given many studies, common knowledge and personal testimony of violations of informed consent to treatment, we are talking about forced treatment, psychiatric assault. Psychiatrists and other doctors who fail to fully inform patients about any prescribed treatments and risks should be criminally charged with medical negligence and assault. At the same time, all psychiatric patients should be given basic and accurate information, written or in alternate formats they can easily access and understand, on informed consent; they should also be given opportunities to discuss any questions about informed consent, including the right to refuse any treatment, with a patient advocate or lawyer, and translator if requested.

Its time to start criminalizing and launching class-action lawsuits against forced psychiatric treatments and involuntary committal; it’s time to stop sanitizing these serious human rights violations and psychiatric crimes as “treatments.”

Enough talk. How about some real action for a change? It’s our freedom and lives that are at stake!

 

Notes

  1. D. Weitz. “Struggling Against Psychiatry’s Human Rights Violations: An Antipsychiatry Perspective”. Radical Psychology [online] vol.7, 2008, http://www.radicalpsychology.org/vol7-1/weitz2008.html.

For other major critiques of psychiatry, also see, T. Szasz. Psychiatry: The Science of Lies. Syracuse University Press, 2008; P. Breggin, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, NY:Springer Publishing Company, 2008; B. Burstow, Psychiatry and the Business of Madness: An Ethical and Epistemological Accounting, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

  1. D.Hiltz and A. Szigeti. A Guide to Consent & Capacity Law in Ontario. LexisNexis Canada Inc., 2006/2007.
  1. H. Savage and C. McKague. Mental Health Law in Canada. Toronto: Butterworths, 1988.
  1. Mental Health Act. R.S.O. 1990 S.20 (5).  In Hiltz & Szigeti, p.295.
  1. Hiltz & Szigeti, p, 182.
  1. Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault. Inquiry Into Psychiatry, 2005. https://coalitionagainstpsychiatricassault.wordpress.com/events/past-events/inquiry-into-psychiatry-2005/

***

Don Weitz is a psychiatric survivor, antipsychiatry and social justice activist.

In the early 1950s, he was forcibly administered 110 insulin shocks while involuntarily committed and incarcerated for 15 months in Mclean Hospital. For over 30 years, he has been active in the antipsychiatry liberation movement. In 1977, he co-founded with Harvey “Alf” Jackson and Bob Carson the Ontario Mental Patients Association that soon changed its name to On Our Own. In 1980 with shock survivor and lawyer Carla McKague, he co-founded Phoenix Rising, the first survivor-controlled antipsychiatry magazine in Canada. A few years later in 1983, he was one of the founding members of the Ontario Committee to Stop Electroshock which was the first organization to organize public hearings on electroshock and lobbied the Toronto Board of Health and Ontario government to abolish “ECT” and has participated in nonviolent civil disobedience in Canada and the United States. In 2003 with Dr. Bonnie Burstow, Don co-founded the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) which organized public hearings on psychiatric drugs and electroshock in 2005; CAPA has also organized several public rallies and demonstrations against shock including a Toronto protest as part of the International Day of Protest Against Electroshock on May 16, 2015. Since the late 1990s, Don has also been an outspoken critic of homelessness and advocate for affordable housing as a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. He lives in Toronto.