Jails and Psychiatric Hospitals – Both Bad for Mentally Ill

by | Apr 21, 2014

Psychiatric wardJails and Psychiatric Hospitals – Both Bad for Mentally Ill
Practically every paper around the country is reporting the story that more mentally ill people are now found in jails than in psychiatric hospitals and mental health facilities.
A recent report from the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association said that in 44 states and DC there is at least one prison or jail housing a greater number of people with mental illness than can be found in that states biggest psychiatric hospital. The report goes on to say that an estimated 356,268 people with mental illnesses (including some with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) are in prisons and jails, compared to 35,000 in state hospitals.
Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, the head psychiatrist responsible for the report said, “We are doing an abysmal job of treating people with serious mental illnesses in this country. It is both inhumane and shocking the way we have dumped them into the state prisons and the local jails.”
He’s correct about the “abysmal job” that psychiatry has done, but it’s not because they have dumped these people into prisons and jails – it’s because psychiatry has pumped them full of dangerous anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers that create the very conditions they pretend to cure.
Anyone labeled with a psychiatric disorder is going to end up on heavy medication whether he gets it in a hospital or a jail. And he will suffer the side effects of these drugs whether he takes them while under psychiatric care in a mental hospital or in his local jail, state prison or federal penitentiary.
Even worse, according to the law in 31 states, prisoners can be subjected to involuntary treatment with psychiatric drugs despite their objection to the treatment. The state review board can just decide the inmate needs his medicine because the prisoner, not being trained in psychiatry, often isn’t aware that he is “sick”.
Mike Heston was a prisoner in the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota in 2007 and 2008. He was given involuntary injections of Risperdal, a potent anti-psychotic drug every two weeks for many months. He wrote many letters pleading for help.
“Please help me. Medicine is destroying me. They’ve been sticking me with a needle since April. They won’t let me off medicine. I do not want it. It is making me very nervous and sick…I am being tortured. Force injected in solitary. Medicine makes my spirit sick and torments the very soul within me. As well my legs shake and my feet are all antsy. This bodily torture is intolerable… I am not even mentally ill…Please God end this horrible nightmare. I’m terrified of that needle. I’m being tortured and terrorized. I am crying torture, my body shakes. My eyeballs roll up in my head. My jaws lock. Please somebody help me. Dr. Hart is the one woman who holds absolute power and authority. All I ask out of life is to be in my natural frame of mind. They could commit me 100 years still all I want is to not have those chemicals in my blood playing havoc on my system.”
Mind Freedom, a group fighting to win human rights for people caught in the mental health system wrote letters on behalf of Mike, but Dr. Hart continued the “treatments.”  Mike Heston hung himself there in Jan of 2008.
Whether given in jail or in mental hospitals these drugs have many risks.
Back in 2000 the number of deaths from adverse effects from properly administered FDA approved medications was riding at 106,000 per year and undoubtedly has risen since then.
In 2010, PLOS ONE, an open access peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science, reported the 31 drugs in FDA’s MedWatch adverse drug reports that are disproportionately linked to 1,527 acts of violence against others–defined as “Homicide,” “Physical assault,” “Physical abuse,” “Homicidal ideation” or “Violence-related symptom.”
All of these 31 drugs are used by psychiatrists included top selling anti-depressants such as Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft and Lexapro, Anti-psychotics such as Risperdal , amphetamines used for ADH, mood stabilizers and hypnotics/sedatives.
Different people respond to these drugs in different ways so the doctor has no real idea what will happen when he prescribes one.
Psychiatrist Dr Carlat puts it like this: “The fact is that psychopharmacology is primarily trial and error, a kind of muddling through different candidate medications.”
Sometimes the opposite effect occurs from what was expected – giving a drug to reduce the intensity of hallucinations might actually cause a worsening of them.
Then, to try to compensate for extreme reactions, doses get raised and other drugs are added. An antidepressant is prescribed but the antidepressant causes anxiety. So Valium is added. But the anti-depressant also can cause depression so an antipsychotic is added.  But this causes a movement disorder so a benzodiazepine like Xanax is added to try to suppress that side effect. But Xanax can cause violence. So maybe a mood stabilizer would be added, etc., etc.
What happens when people in prison are given these drugs? Clear back in November of 1975 Canadian doctors learned the answer when they published a study on “The Effect of Psychotropic Drugs on Aggression in a Prison Setting”
The authors worked in a maximum security correctional institution and noted an apparent increase in acts of aggression by inmates when these inmates were on psychotropic drugs.
They did a study to prove or disprove this theory and found that when inmates were taking antidepressants there were 3.6 times as many acts of aggression committed by the prisoners on the drugs.
As far as we know, a psychiatrist has never volunteered to experience an electric shock treatment or a lobotomy, but here are some comments from Dr Gwen Jones-Edwards, a Welsh psychiatrist, who agreed to take one small dose of an antipsychotic drug as part of a clinical experiment.
“My experience wasn’t that the drug caused apathy, rather that the side-effects were so distressing that one’s concentration was entirely taken up by it. It is a cruel drug, because the effects keep on coming back in waves, leading one to believe that they have disappeared only to return – with all their personality-destroying power. I was reduced to a nervous wreck.
One of them (her colleagues) was amazed to see me standing before him with the demeanor of a chronic schizophrenic.
I felt then in complete discord, as if I ingested a portion of hell along with the orange juice.
Actually I was suicidal – I made no plans, but I did feel that death would be better than what I was going through.”
The full diary of her experience is quite revealing – she could not do her normal daily tasks at work or with her children, couldn’t drive her car, she took other medications to attempt to counter-act what she was experiencing, and months later she was still having flashbacks to the experience and fear that the unwanted feelings from the drug would return permanently.
When prisoners who have been given psychiatric drugs in jail are released they are often influenced by the drug side effects to commit further acts of aggression and so end up back behind bars in a cycle that can continue over and over until they are a candidate for either a life sentence or death row.
It is quite interesting how the rise of big drug companies has changed the attitude of the medical doctor. Dr. William Osler was a Canadian physician who lived from 1849 to 1919 and was one of the four men who founded John Hopkins Hospital, a premier teaching facility for doctors in Baltimore, Md.
Dr. Osler wrote, “The person who takes medicine must recover twice, once from the disease and once from the medicine.”
“One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.”
Today doctors would be wise to heed those words of wisdoms from the founder of modern medicine.


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