Involuntary Commitment – A Psychiatrist’s Dream – A Patient’s Nightmare

by | May 20, 2014

prescription+drugs+and+bottlesCongressman Tim Murphy is the chief sponsor of a bill in the House of Representatives numbered HR 3717 inappropriately titled “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act”.
This horrific piece of proposed legislation aims to help the psychiatric profession and drug makers to another big dose of tax payer money at the expense of the health and sanity of American citizens.
Prior to arriving in Congress, Rep. Murphy had acquired a PhD in psychology from the University of Pittsburg and was a practicing clinical psychologist. He still serves in the Navy reserves as a psychologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
During his congressional career Bayer AG has been his fifth largest campaign donor. Astra Zeneca, Pfizer and The National Assn. of Psychiatric Health Systems have also been top donors for his election campaigns.
Rep. Murphy previously authored the Seniors Access to Mental Health Act, which brought mental health cheaply to seniors on Medicare. He also introduced the Mental Health Security for American Families in Education Act which was a law designed “to get college students suffering from depression or other mental illnesses the help they need before tragedy strikes.”
Not content with authoring legislation that has helped to bring apathy, violence and suicide to seniors, students and veterans, Rep. Murphy has sponsored this new bill that has the potential to expand and force involuntary psychiatric treatment on everyone.
Lobbyists working for passage of HR 3717 include The American Psychological Assn., The American Psychiatric Assn., The American Academy of Child/Adolescent Psychiatry, The National Mental Health Assn. and 5 international corporations who manufacture psychiatric drugs sold in the US – Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, Lundbeck Inc., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Alkermes.
Why are the psychiatric and drug industries drooling over this new proposed legislation?
It would strip away patient’s rights and replace them with required “involuntary commitment” and “early detection” programs.
The bill starts by creating a new federal official in the Department of Health and Human Services to be called “The Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders” with top authority over existing administrators. This gives the federal government more power to force psychiatric drug treatment onto state and local communities.
The person taking this job is required to “have a doctoral degree in medicine or osteopathic medicine and clinical and research experience in psychiatry; graduated from an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-certified psychiatric residency program; and have an understanding of biological, psychosocial, and pharmaceutical treatments of mental illness” or” have a doctoral degree in psychology with-clinical and research experience; and an understanding of biological, psychosocial, and pharmaceutical treatments of mental illness.”
His first task would be to oversee grants to establish “Assisted Outpatient Treatment”defined as“medically prescribed treatment that an eligible patient must undergo while living in a community under the terms of a law authorizing a State or local court to order such treatment” – in other words universal outpatient treatment enforced on a person from the federal level down to the state and local level.
Who would get this treatment?
A person who, as determined by the court

  • has a history of violence, incarceration, or medically unnecessary hospitalizations
  • without supervision and treatment, may be a danger to self or others in the community
  • is substantially unlikely to voluntarily participate in treatment
  • may be unable, for reasons other than indigence, to provide for any of his or her basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, health, or safety
  • has a history of mental illness or condition that is likely to substantially deteriorate if the patient is not provided with timely treatment
  • due to mental illness, lacks capacity to fully understand or lacks judgment to make informed decisions regarding his or her need for treatment, care, or supervision

So, if you have been in jail, a hospital, aren’t likely to volunteer for treatment, are poor, might “get worse” or deemed unable to decide if you need the treatment, you could be forced by court order to take psychiatric drugs.
How will the small number of psychiatrists ever interview all the people in the US in order to inform the court who needs involuntary treatment?
The bill offers telepsychiatry as the answer. It will pay for “qualified telehealth technology”. This system allows the psychiatrist to sit in his office and interview a patient who is at a distant location by using a phone conversation or an interactive videoconferencing via computer. In the interest of quality mental health care, psychiatric evaluation and prescribing of drugs using email or fax is not allowed.
HR 3717 ignores the fact that almost every single school shooter was on or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs at the time of going berserk and attempts to promote the myth of early detection and treatment.
It creates grants for training programs to teach primary care doctors to use psychological evaluation tests in their office on infants, preschool children, children or teens. It also calls for screening for autism in preschoolers or “any additional areas that the Assistant Secretary determines applicable”.
Jon Rappoport, a staunch critic of the labeling process of psychiatric disorders, writes:
“As I’ve demonstrated in many past articles, none of the 300 officially certified mental disorders have any defining diagnostic test. No blood test, no urine test, no brain scan, no genetic assay.
The names and descriptions of all the disorders are outright frauds, packaged to sell harmful drugs.”
His comment apply quite well to these screening tests where parents answer silly questions about their infants and toddlers and a social scientist adds up the score and spots the future mental disorder.

  • Does your child seem too friendly with strangers?
  • Does your child like to be hugged or cuddled?
  • Does your child seem more active than other children his age?
  • If you point at something across the room, does your child look at it? Yes No

(FOR EXAMPLE, if you point at a toy or an animal, does your child look at the
toy or animal?     

  • Does your child play pretend or make-believe? Yes No (FOR EXAMPLE, pretend to drink from an empty cup, pretend to talk on a phone, or pretend to feed a doll or stuffed animal?)

Another section of the bill creates specialized training to law enforcement officers (including village public safety officers in Native American communities) “to recognize individuals who have mental illness and how to properly intervene with individuals with mental illness, and to establish programs that enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to address the mental health, behavioral, and substance abuse problems of individuals encountered in the line of duty.”
The bill also calls for drug testing and mental health treatment as an alternative to incarceration for those who violate laws and this includes veterans who have broken a law and were discharged by the military under conditions other than dishonorable. So instead of serving time in jail for a crime, they will be living out in the community while taking psychiatric medications.
In Sections 704 and 705 “Treatment standard under State law” the bill revisits involuntary commitment and treatment and adds even more force to this issue.
Federal grants will only be given if “the State involved has in effect a law under which, if a State court finds by clear and convincing evidence that an individual, as a result of mental illness, is a danger to self, is a danger to others, is persistently or acutely disabled, or is gravely disabled and in need of treatment, and is either unwilling or unable to accept voluntary treatment, the court must order the individual to undergo inpatient or outpatient treatment”
And “the term persistently or acutely disabled refers to a serious mental illness that meets all the following criteria:
(A) If not treated, the illness has a substantial probability of causing the individual to suffer or continue to suffer severe and abnormal mental, emotional, or physical harm that significantly impairs judgment, reason, behavior, or capacity to recognize reality.
(B) The illness substantially impairs the individual’s capacity to make an informed decision regarding treatment, and this impairment causes the individual to be incapable of understanding and expressing an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of accepting treatment and understanding and expressing an understanding of the alternatives to the particular treatment offered after the advantages, disadvantages, and alternatives are explained to that individual.
(C) The illness has a reasonable prospect of being treatable by outpatient, inpatient, or combined inpatient and outpatient treatment.”
Here again the government “authority” making the adjudication could determine sanity and treatment on a subjective basis using their own opinions, lack of knowledge or prejudices.
Thus, inpatient and outpatient treatment could be enforced on an individual who doesn’t want psychiatric treatment.
The bill continues with Section 801 designed to reduce the stigma of mental illness by promoting mental health to students.  “The Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders”, shall organize a national awareness campaign involving public health organizations, advocacy groups for persons with serious mental illness, and social media companies to assist secondary school students and postsecondary students.”
Toward the end of the bill are found some profound changes that corrode the progress made in preserving the rights of mentally ill patients and their right to legal recourse when injured by psychiatric treatment.
It effectively destroys the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program by cutting its funding 85%. It stops PAIMI from the lobbying, litigation and other individual advocacy it currently provides patients for their housing, employment and other issues. PAIMI has been part of law since 1986.
A group in Maryland writes, “If not for the funding and authority of the federal PAIMI program, Marylanders with psychiatric disabilities would continue to be abused, neglected and warehoused in atrocious conditions without access to an effective advocate or legal remedy. With PAIMI funds we monitor conditions in state psychiatric hospitals and have made significant progress in advocating eliminating deadly restraint practices, promoting trauma-informed care that allows people to recover, and protecting individuals from sexual harassment and assault. In the community, we have successfully created hundreds of new housing opportunities for people with mental health disabilities, many of whom were formerly homeless.”
During the House Committee hearings on HR 3717 a victim of psychiatric abuse named Nancy Jensen described her ordeal and how her life was saved by PAIMI. Back in 2004 she was a patient at Kaufman House in Newton, Kansas. She and others were subjected to sexual and emotional abuse that was video taped by the owners of the facility. Nancy was told she could never get married or have a child, never join a church or ever get a job. PAMI was the only group able to gather the evidence and bring suit against the owners filing 60 criminal charges. The owners are in jail today. Nancy and her friends were freed and today Nancy is a married mom with a job and church she enjoys attending.
Nancy testified, “[the bill] would destroy funding for the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Health Illness (PAIMI) program and takes away its ability to hold abusers accountable and protect the rights of people with mental illness, including the right to treatment.”
More opponents of the bill have stepped forward.
Psych Central — and the more than 350,000 Americans it represents – came out strongly against HR 3717 – they said “It stinks for everyone – especially patients.”
The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition of 32 statewide organizations representing individuals with mental illness has opposed the bill.
The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the National Council on Independent Living, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law all oppose it.
NCMHR notes that involuntary outpatient commitment is a high-cost intervention with no evidence it works and it forces state legislatures to pass forced-treatment laws whether or not their citizens want them.
“It would also decimate personal privacy. Under the bill, if a hospitalized person designated “seriously mentally ill” did not consent to information sharing with their caregiver, their caregiver would automatically be named personal representative and get all the information anyway.”
Bob Joondeph, executive director of Disability Rights Oregon called the bill an attack on the hard-won rights established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an attempt “to change our country’s mental health policy from encouraging recovery to taking control of others’ lives.”
“The text of the ADA sets out its core goals as equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency,” Joondeph said. “Among the problems that the ADA was specifically enacted to address are ‘institutionalization,’ ‘overprotective rules and policies,’ ‘isolation’ and ‘segregation.’ But Rep. Murphy…would more likely characterize the real problem as people with disabilities lacking obedience to authority.”
Beckie Child, a doctoral student and adjunct faculty member at Portland State University, opposes the bill. She noted, “Psychiatry’s ability to predict who will become violent has never been good and it has not improved. The reality is that we cannot predict who will become violent. The reality is that the mental health system is not all that great at engaging people. The only people who will benefit from this bill if it were to become law are psychiatrists and the organizations that provide services to people that are subject to its provisions.”
Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., a psychiatrist and an NCMHR founder stated that the bill “would bring America back to the dark ages before de-institutionalization, when people with mental health conditions languished in institutions, sometimes for life.”
“Force and coercion drive people away from treatment,” said Jean Campbell, Ph.D., one of the nation’s leading mental health researchers. “In 1989, 47% of Californians with mental illnesses who participated in a consumer research project reported that they avoided treatment for fear of involuntary treatment; that increased to 55% for those who had been committed in the past.”
Clearly lay people, mental health patients and the most astute of the psychiatric profession itself see the dangers of this proposed legislation.
Jon Rappoport summed it up clearly when he wrote,
“As exemplified by this bill before Congress, the federal government has set itself up as a legal partner and enforcer of a monopoly of the mind.
Understand that. There are a million ways to explore and understand the inner life of a person. Psychiatry is just one of those. It’s a pseudoscience and a con and a hustle.
But it has the unflinching support of all three branches of government.
Which is why the freedom to refuse treatment must be protected, against any and all attacks.”


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