Thursday, 30 August 2012

the not so fine line between compulsion and force

As an ex-mental patient I have always been aware of the threat of forced treatment in psychiatric institutions.  Grabbing and jagging I call it.  Professionals use the words compulsory treatment and rapid tranquilisation.  Forced injections.  As a result of being unco-operative or non-compliant.  Because you've found yourself detained or constrained.  Surrounded by strangers in uniforms for whom engagement is a last resort.  If you are in mental distress.

The notes are the thing.  Written up by a range of professionals.  With the power to detain and constrain.  As a mental patient you're powerless to resist.  Adding to the distress that brought you in to this supposed refuge, asylum.  No respite.  From brain altering drugs that make you compliant.  Obedient to the regime.  On the outside.  But on the inside you're waiting for a chance to escape.  Abscond.  Waiting for an opportunity to get out from under the rule of psychiatry.

The police force are then called for.  Impressively uniformed and equipped.  With batons, handcuffs (speedcuffs), sprays, restraints.  Sent out by the nurses to bring back absconders.  Expensive honorary members of the psychiatric fraternity.  Scouring the countryside for the mental patient.  Investigating family residences.  Looking in garden sheds.

You're forced to return to the institution, to do as you're told, take the pills or be forcibly injected.  Play the game, join the team.  Take up smoking or become a passive smoker.  Bide your time until the psychiatrist deems you fit for discharge.  On the recommendation of the nurses.  It's written in the notes.  Your diagnoses, behaviours, attitudes, family history, psychiatric drug regime.  Nothing about your hopes, dreams or aspirations.  Of who you are or want to be.  The mental illness label has been forced upon you.  And will remain with you.  Despite recovery.

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