We ran a series of posts the last few days on the effects of isolating people , and depriving them of sensory stimulation.
We propose that anyone – without exception would be tested by being forcibly kept in a cell alone. It is not the case that it could never happen to you – but simply a question of how long would you last?
If you choose to believe its all down to brain chemicals, then by all means maintain that delusion, but you may want to check your meds.
If it looks like a duck…
Services call it “treatment” but it looks like torture.
The same methods sometimes used to “de-escalate” patients are also used as torture – when captors think they can get away with it. As security services well know, torture has a low efficacy when it comes to garnering intelligence but can a very be powerful way to exert power and induce compliance or cooperation in captives: it is about exerting power to gain control. Yet even security services do not call their methods “treatment” the way that hospitals do.
In some countries laws and hospital policies offer the same protection to those who would torture psychiatric patients as is provided by rogue states [and non-states like Guantanamo] to those who would torture their targets.
What’s the difference? Whereas one happens in far flung places beyond the reach of parliamentary democracy – the other is happening, and very likely right now and in your city, in the name of “treatment” and “healthcare”.
And, yes, before you say its not the same thing: it may not be exactly the same, but the effect is and, we’d argue, intentionally so. The biggest difference may be that one is more honest than the other.
Seclusion – forcible isolation and confinement – is not treatment.
Restraint – forcibly, violently strapping a person down so that all they can do is scream, is never treatment.
Both courses of action reliably give rise to the very “symptoms” they claim to control.
We don’t do it to other mammals – we even have laws to prevent it – why do we do it to humans?
Even if we do think its justifiable on occasion, when we do it why do we insist on calling it ‘treatment’? Rationalising torture in the name of healthcare can never justify torture – it simply diminishes both the “heath” and the “care” in “healthcare”.
Even the UN’s Special Rapporteur has declared that such practices are “torture” and a breach of human rights.
The Right to be safe at work is not the right to torture patients
People who work in services have a right to be safe, and there are cases to be made for using force some times but would it not be better to focus on equiping those workers with skills to deal with situations in different ways so that force is never needed? surely better for everyone involved.
“They need the drugs so I can feel safe [at work]” – hospital worker.
This quote is from a worker, who like many found themselves in difficult situations and likely is not alone in thinking what’s expressed. It is a difficult place to be. It is also a reasonable question to ask: in such situations, who exactly needs the drugs?
Like in any other field of employment, if people don’t have the skills necessary to work they can reasonably expect, demand, to be offered opportunities to learn those skills – and, if they remain unable to perform, encouraged to leave.
If the only way I can feel safe at work is by forcing “treatment” on others then I really need to find alternative employment.
And to Unions – where are YOU? why are you silent and complicit too? Grow a pair eh?
Torturing the most vulnerable people in our society
Research shows the majority of people diagnosed with sever mental illnesses have lived a life of oppression and violence and the some of the worst forms of abuse by others. It is time every worker in our health services took a stand to stop dishing out yet more violence and abuse to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
But what to do?
Here’s a start… a video from a project in Aotearoa/NZ – an educational programme for workers hoping to offer understanding of the impact of violent ways of controlling patients – and some skills that enable people to work in different ways.
Its 29mins long. We suggest that secluding yourself to watch it, and better yet watching it with colleagues, might just be the most productive 29 mins of your week.
Opening Doors is a training resource developed by Awareness: Canterbury Action on Mental Health and Addictions to help people working in the mental health sector understand the impact of seclusion on all those involved. The intention is to encourage the use of alternatives, so that mental health inpatient seclusion — leaving a distressed or agitated person locked in a bare room, alone — can become a thing of the past.
Brian Keenan – Music https://recoverynetworktoronto.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/brian-keenan-music/
How Isolation Warps The Mind https://recoverynetworktoronto.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/how-isolation-warps-the-mind/
If it’s forced it’s not “treatment” https://recoverynetworktoronto.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/if-its-forced-its-not-treatment/