Big Brother is in OHIO, and He’s After US

Dearest Bloggie friends, I have just taken my nightly sledge-hammer cocktail and I don’t know how long I’ll be able to remain coherent.  But this is really important and I want to get the word out to you.

One of our sister MI bloggies, who is an attorney, turned my attention to the state of Ohio, which has a bill in the legislature http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_HB_104 which “broadens” the State’s power to involuntarily commit “persons” whom a wide variety of people might suspect of being mentally ill.  These “persons” can be committed for up to ten days, after which time they are brought to court and if according to testimony a physician or psychologist or (….gets muddy here…) deems that they are mentally ill, they can be committed to a psychiatric hospital.  There’s a lot of language in here and I did not get out my magnifying glass, but it looks like the possibility of indefinite involuntary commitment exists.

Apparently there was a previous law providing for court-ordered outpatient treatment, which NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) fully supports, because it would purportedly shunt people who need mental health services into the proper outpatient setting, thus cutting down on homelessness, joblessness, drug and alcohol abuse, petty crime, and all the other inconveniences of the visibly mentally ill, and hopefully creating a more holistic system for funneling the mentally ill into outpatient services and advocacy.

Please, can anybody tell me where the funds for setting up this lovely network are going to come from, in an economy where even the existing mental health services have been all but done away with?

And then my friend the attorney hips me to the bill cited above, which is a true marvel of legislative bill-writing sleight-of-hand.  It starts out dealing with matters pertaining to children in out-of-home services such as foster homes, and somehow segues into gun law and criteria for registering firearms; then it mentions briefly in passing that anyone who has been forcibly hospitalized for mental illness isn’t eligible to own a gun; then it slips into how it’s determined whether one is sane enough to stand trial; then you get the sense that it is building toward something; and that SOMETHING is forced hospitalization of anyone thought to be a threat to themselves or others, or who harms themselves, or talks about suicide or killing people, or who acts mentally ill.

So that means hypothetically that if a person took an overdose in a kind of half-heated suicide attempt, that person would be straight-away sent to the psych ward to cool their heels until they could have a court hearing, to determine whether they were mentally ill or not.  That could be as long as ten days.  They would have to get a lawyer, and preferably examination from an independent psychiatrist, which would all go on their bill unless they were declared indigent, in which case they would take pot luck of court-appointed attorney and expert.

Then, if you were found to be mentally ill at the court hearing, the judge could send you to inpatient treatment for periods not specified in the bill.  Chills running up and down my spine.  This is sounding like the bad old days in Russia, where anyone who disagreed with the government would be sent to a “psychiatric hospital” for “treatment”–which meant torture and brainwashing, with maybe a prefrontal lobotomy thrown in if you were recalcitrant.

Leaving the Ohio legislative nightmare for a moment, I would like to turn to an article I found while researching this story.  It seems that Ohio has developed a methodology for dealing with mentally ill (including Autistic, one would assume) and developmentally disabled children when they pitch fits or become uncooperative.  No, they don’t taser them.  Not yet, anyway.

Instead, they restrain them and/or seclude them.  To whit:

“In one year, about 1 in 25 disabled children in the Columbus school district was held down, physically removed from class or put in closetlike rooms to calm down.

By the numbers, 371 children were restrained or secluded a total of 1,829 times in 42 different Columbus schools, a state review of the district’s records show. The district previously refused to release those figures, saying they were private.”

–Columbus Dispatch

Wanna see what the “seclusion rooms” look like? Seclusion Rooms Ohio Public Schools

So from forced outpatient treatment, to forced hospital commitment, to institutionalized physical and psychological abuse of the most vulnerable of child populations–if the poor children aren’t mentally ill when they go into these schools they certainly will be when they get out–what on earth is happening in Ohio???

One interesting tidbit I gleaned from reading the bill is that people whose sole method of healing consists of prayer–which would be Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists, mainly–are exempt from the whole forced outpatient and inpatient thing.

If you live in Ohio you’d better go right quick and join up with them, and carry your membership card in your wallet!

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24 Comments

  1. songtothesirens

     /  November 13, 2013

    As a card carrying BPAD Type I with psychotic features (primary diagnosis), that just scares the h*&^ out of me. On more than one level.

    Reply
    • And well it should. I’m afraid that the unfortunate string of mass killings has set off a “Bureau of Homeland Security”-style witch hunt–and I feel like one of the hunted. This is no joke, and if we don’t want to be targeted for forced incarceration I think we’d better band together and make some noise.

      Reply
      • songtothesirens

         /  November 15, 2013

        I agree…..with both statements. While reading that article, one of my first impressions was that it reminded me of the historical Salem witch trials only with the mentally iill as stand-ins for the assumed witches. Another thing that struck me was that I had read somewhere (cannot remember where) that many of these shooters were not classically mentally ill. They were situationally depressed and either being treated with anti-depressants or had just come off of them. So, yes, they had mental health issues, but were not mentally ill. That’s a big difference that Ohio has overlooked. Just because you commit a crime such as a mass shooting does not automatically mean you are mentally ill. Far from it, most of the people I have met that suffer from severe and/or chronic mental illness just want to get through the day without killing themselves. The ramifications of this type of legislation are far sweeping. I hope they have considered that.

        Reply
        • You have brought up two very important points here. First, the social environment in which we find ourselves at the moment (economy rocky, social services, um, mostly unavailable, many people starving and/or homeless while others are rolling in the dough) is perfect for a new Salem Witch Hunt or Inquisition. Takes the public’s attention off of what is really going on and focuses it on a scapegoat group–that would be US. Your second point, that many of the shooters were either situationally depressed OR had a grudge against somebody, is right on. Let’s remember where this mass shooting style of self-expression originated–the POSTAL WORKER SHOOTER of the 80’s! I think there might have been more than one–I have to do some research. Anyway, it even spawned its own expression for somebody losing their composure and causing mayhem of some sort: “going postal”! At first it was considered an insensitive thing to say, but now it’s worked its way into the language and usually just draws giggles. Hah. Not so funny.

          Reply
          • songtothesirens

             /  November 15, 2013

            I would be interested to see if there have been more or any studies done on any possible correlation to socioeconomic health and mental health issues; not necessarily true mental illness that is organic or chemical and has a sound medical basis, but situational issues such as depression or even psychoses caused by extreme stress. Because the two original mass shooters were the Postal Worker whom I believe had just been fired? However, he had been diagnosed with depression, and put on anti-depressants or had just gone off of them. The other was the McDonald’s shooter in southern California. I think there was also a school shooting, also in California during the 80’s. But, I am sure of the Postal worker and the McDonald’s shooter, Both in the 80’s which was a very prosperous time for some and a very lean time for others. Reagan’s economic policies were very upper-class oriented as were George Bush, Sr.’s and the latest Bush, his son. If I remember correctly, the country was also in recession during the 80’s (I was a kid, but I paid attention to this stuff. I was a weird kid.). It didn’t come out of recession until sometime in the 90’s.

            But, then Columbine happened on April 20, 1999 (which happens to coincide with Hitler’s birthday), and the witch hunt began.

            I can see two or three variables here: socioeconomic status, recession/job loss, and bullying/sense of ostracism/sense of being different than. Maybe more than three variables. But Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, as far as I know, were not diagnosed with any mental illnesses, They, were however, bullied and ostracized and made to feel different by their classmates. Recently, there have been a number of suicides that were related to bullying. I think that Columbine was a more extreme version because I think (can’t remember) that they both died.

            Why don’t policy makers see these things? Oh yeah, they don’t have degrees in Psychology or Sociology…that would help.

            Reply
            • You are giving me food for thought here. It would be very interesting to do a spread-sheet (if only I could figure out how to do them in Exel–I’m told it’s easy but mine won’t behave) of mass murderers’ psycho-socio-biological-economic characteristics, and see what patterns emerge. Certainly a sense of not-belonging, rejection, etc. and in the Postal and McDonald’s, having been fired. Why were they fired? That would be an interesting thing to know.

              There’s some speculation regarding the Cinema shooter (don’t recall his name) that he might have been Asperger’s because he was a loner, etc….but that’s the last thing an Aspergerian would do (being one myself), because violence really isn’t in our vocabulary, not the stealing guns for planned mass murder kind. Maybe banging our head on the floor, but that’s a bit different!

              I think lawmakers are more influenced by what they see on TV than on any scholarly research that may have been done on the subject. They just watch 60 minutes with their dubious “experts” and that’s enough for them. Unfortunately.

              Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”–David Farragut, at the Battle of Mobile Bay

              Reply
              • songtothesirens

                 /  November 15, 2013

                I do not believe that lawmakers pay any attention to mental health workers or researchers. The people or illnesses that are targeted are usually Schizophrenia (yes, they can be violent but usually only when off their meds), Bipolar Disorder (which I have and yes we can be violent but generally only to ourselves, we are more interested in maintaining mood stability), Borderline Personality disorder (who usually only harm themselves, physically, mentally they do a lot of harm, but they are just trying to get through the day), Autism and it’s various forms (this one surprises me, because as you pointed out, you have Asperger’s, and people with Autism or related tend to be loner’s), however, people who typically are bullied are loners. I know this because I was that weird kid that everyone picked on, and part of the reason I was weird was because I preferred to be by myself. I wish I had a database like I did in college where i could run any correlation that I wanted because I do think that socioeconomic status, recession, being bullied or a loner, combined with a situational stressor such as job loss, or lack of parental attention could increase the likelihood of a spree killing.

                Lawmakers really need to listen to the researcher’s, the doctors that work with these populations, and any other people who have intimate and extensive knowledge of how the mentally ill really function before they decide that the reason that all this carnage is happening is because some mentally ill person fell through the cracks. I definitely that indefinite confinement to a hospital is the way to go. That side steps the whole issue. The issue is that our country simply is not set up to take care of the mentally ill. We do not have socialized medicine like many socialistic democracies do, most people do not have access to healthcare because major employers work people just below the full time line so they don’t have to pay benefits or they classify them as Independent Contractors like Microsoft did for decades. Now that I am thinking about this, there are many variables that need to be considered before passing sweeping legislation that will affect thousands of people who just want to be left alone to live as well as they can.

                Reply
              • songtothesirens

                 /  November 15, 2013

                Eric Harris, one of the Columbine perpetrators was on Zoloft and then Luvox after complaining of depression. Side effects include aggression, depersonalization, loss of remorse, and mania. interesting side note.

                You know this got me thinking: Why are we so utterly concerned with the sporadic mass shooting when we have an estimated 35 to 40 serial killers operating in the US today. The body count for these guys is just as high but over a period of years, and they have been known to use guns to either kill or coerce, and they are clearly mentally ill.

                Reply
                • The serial killers have all been mostly sexually motivated (thus the huge numbers of prostitutes that have fallen prey to serial killers, and pedophiles.) They may have neuroses or personality disorders such as Antisocial PD but they are not generally people who fit into the usual DSM diagnoses. I wouldn’t lump them in with mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar, schizophenia, borderline, OCD, etc, which form the vast majority of mental illness diagnoses. I can see where one has to call these people “sick” but I also believe that there is such a thing as EVIL and they are it.

                  Reply
                  • songtothesirens

                     /  November 16, 2013

                    I agree. Their psychopathology is very different than that of spree killers or mass murderers which are different from one another as I discovered during my dredging the Internet on this subject. The only reason serial killers got mentioned is that in many studies they get lumped in with these other two groups because of number of kills. Which grossly enough seems to be how these guys are ranked. Also, Eric Harris had been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality disorder and as a pure psychopath, so who knows where he would have gone had he not committed suicide.

                    Yes, most serial killers are sexual sadists. They hate women, especially prostitutes. For example, the Green River killer whose name is not coming to me right now truly believed that he was “cleaning” up society by preying on prostitutes. Ted Bundy, I think was killing his mother or his girlfriend, one of the two. He was really creepy. Edmund Kemper barely even qualifies as a serial killer with three stranger kills and his mother and then he turned himself in. Don’t ask why I know all these facts. Let’s just say I have never wondered why most people do good things, but I have always been fascinated by the duplicitous nature of the socio/psychopath.

                    They are evil……even more so because you don’t see it until they get caught. Then you see it. The flat eyes with no soul or conscience behind them.

                    I really had wanted to work with the BSU at the FBI when I was in my 20’s, but upon looking into a summer internship, discovered that my past mistakes when I was 16-19 years of age precluded me from joining the FBI. Which is why now I would very counsel youth like I had been so that they don’t make the same mistakes and end up not able to follow dreams.

                    Reply
  2. it is actually quite easy currently in most states to be involuntarily committed, and the length tends to be around 3-7 days for observation, and then to be reviewed by head honcho if the person will remained confined or if they shall be released. generally, the length of further stay is arbitrary and is up to the head honcho. each length of stay is handled thusly.

    i found some information applicable to this;

    United States[edit] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Involuntary_commitment)
    Involuntary commitment is governed by state law and procedures vary from state to state. In some jurisdictions, laws regarding the commitment of juveniles may vary, with what is the de facto involuntary commitment of a juvenile perhaps de jure defined as “voluntary” if his parents agree, though he may still have a right to protest and attempt to get released. However, there is a body of case law governing the civil commitment of individuals under the Fourteenth Amendment through U.S. Supreme Court rulings beginning in 1975 with the ruling that involuntary hospitalization and/or treatment violates an individual’s civil rights in O’Connor v. Donaldson. This ruling forced individual states to change their statutes. For example, the individual must be exhibiting behavior that is a danger to himself or others in order to be held, the hold must be for evaluation only and a court order must be received for more than very short term treatment or hospitalization (typically no longer than 72 hours). This ruling has severely limited involuntary treatment and hospitalization in the U.S.[20] In the U.S. the specifics of the relevant statutes vary from state to state.[21]
    In 1978, the Addington v. Texas set the bar for involuntary commitment for treatment by raising the burden of proof required to commit persons from the usual civil burden of proof of “preponderance of the evidence” to the higher standard of “clear and convincing” evidence.[22]
    An example of involuntary commitment procedures is the Baker Act used in Florida. Under this law, a person may be committed only if they present a danger to themselves or others. A police officer, doctor, nurse or licensed mental health professional may initiate an involuntary examination that lasts for up to 72 hours. Within this time, two psychiatrists may ask a judge to extend the commitment and order involuntary treatment. The Baker Act also requires that all commitment orders be reviewed every six months in addition to ensuring certain rights to the committed including the right to contact outsiders. Also, a person under an involuntary commitment order has a right to counsel and a right to have the state provide a public defender if they cannot afford a lawyer. While the Florida law allows police to initiate the examination, it is the recommendations of two psychiatrists that guide the decisions of the court.
    In the 1990s, involuntary commitment laws were extended under various state laws commonly recognized under the umbrella term, SVP laws, to hold some convicted sex offenders in psychiatric facilities after their prison terms were completed.[23] (This is generally referred to as “civil commitment,” not “involuntary commitment,” since involuntary commitment can be criminal or civil). This matter has been the subject of a number of cases before the Supreme Court, most notably Kansas v. Hendricks and United States v. Comstock[24] in regard to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which does not require a conviction on sex offences, but only that the person be in federal custody and be deemed a “sexually dangerous person”.[25]
    In Arizona, the government can mandate inpatient treatment for anyone determined to be “persistently or acutely disabled.” Virtually anyone who suspects that someone has mental problems and needs help could file an application to a state-licensed healthcare agency for a court-ordered evaluation.
    In Connecticut, someone can be committed only if he or she has “psychiatric disabilities and is dangerous to himself or herself or others or gravely disabled”. “Gravely disabled” has usually been interpreted to mean that the person is unable on his own to obtain adequate food, shelter and clothing.
    In Iowa, any “interested person” may begin commitment proceedings by submitting a written statement to the court. If the court finds that the respondent is “seriously mentally impaired,” he or she will be placed in a psychiatric hospital for further evaluation and possibly treatment. Further hearings are required at specific intervals for as long as the person is being involuntarily held.
    The Michigan Mental Health Code provides that a person “whose judgment is so impaired that he or she is unable to understand his or her need for treatment and whose continued behavior as the result of this mental illness can reasonably be expected, on the basis of competent clinical opinion, to result in significant physical harm to himself or herself or others” may be subjected to involuntary commitment, a provision paralleled in the laws of many other jurisdictions. These types of provisions have been criticized as a sort of “heads I win, tails you lose”. Understanding one’s “need for treatment” would cause one to agree to voluntary commitment, but the Bazelon Center has said that this “lack of insight” is “often no more than disagreement with the treating professional”[26] and this disagreement might form part of the evidence to support one’s involuntary commitment.
    In Nevada, prior to confining someone, the state must demonstrate that the person “is mentally ill and, because of that illness, is likely to harm himself or others if allowed his liberty.”
    In Oregon, the standard that the allegedly mentally ill person “Peter [h]as been committed and hospitalized twice in the last three years, is showing symptoms or behavior similar to those that preceded and led to a prior hospitalization and, unless treated, will continue, to a reasonable medical probability, to deteriorate to become a danger to self or others or unable to provide for basic needs” may be substituted for the danger to self or others standard.
    In Utah, the standard is that “the proposed patient has a mental illness which poses a substantial danger”.[27] “Substantial danger” means the person, by his or her behavior, due to mental illness: (a) is at serious risk to: (i) commit suicide, (ii) inflict serious bodily injury on himself or herself; or (iii) because of his or her actions or inaction, suffer serious bodily injury because he or she is incapable of providing the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter; (b) is at serious risk to cause or attempt to cause serious bodily injury; or (c) has inflicted or attempted to inflict serious bodily injury on another.[28]
    Co

    but am sure there are many more specific sites that provide the actual procedures for each state, but this seemed like a good general start on the topic.

    it is scary how easily one can be committed already, and thinking of it becoming even easier is truly disturbing.

    Reply
    • Yes indeed. I’ve seen, from my perspective as a physician, how these statutes can be manipulated. Most of the time it’s in the direction of throwing someone who’s in genuine need of hospitalization out on the street (literally) with no support and no treatment plan. These people end up in a vicious cycle of jail>hospital>street>petty crime/prostitution>jail, until they are murdered or suicide. I worked as a physician in Lima, Ohio, where they have a Prison for the Criminally Insane. I’ve had some interactions with some of the inmates who came into my ER for treatment, and dang if they weren’t violent. One guy had a cut over his eye from a fight, and as I was preparing the local anesthetic to numb him so I could stitch him up, he started spitting at me. (Luckily I was wearing a face shield.) I said to him, “Look, I have to sew up your cut, which is right by your eye. I am holding a very long needle, and if you spit on me while I am numbing you, my hand might jump involuntarily.” He heard me, understood me, and settled down.

      The father of one of my pediatric patients was a guard over there, and he was ambushed by a guy who pretended to be sick, and when my parent arrived to help him, the inmate pounded his face into the floor, breaking every bone in his face, before backup officers could get hold of him. He required something like 40 surgeries to repair his face.

      The problem in that hellhole was that they just warehoused very seriously ill people and did not treat them. They were all in there for life. Yes, they were seriously violent, seriously ill, but they deserved competent, compassionate treatment. Maybe if they had been treated they would not have behaved like…like, I don’t know what.

      Ohio’s like that. That’s why I don’t live there anymore.

      Reply
  3. Amazing and scary.

    Reply
  4. Wow. Gives a person pause to think about what exactly has happened to this country over the years? It is not the same country that I remember from childhood.

    Reply
    • But remember, before 1967 there were hundreds of thousands of mentally ill people warehoused in State Hospitals all over the country. Lyndon Baines Johnson, as part of his “Great Society” plan, set in place a system of Halfway Houses (I worked in one) where the patients, some of whom had been institutionalized since childhood, could learn to live independent lives or at least to the point of being able to live in group homes. It was heartbreaking seeing a person who had never cooked a thing in their lives, never been allowed NEAR a needle, never mind threading one and sewing a hem. We had to teach them every little life skill. It was intended that those who were able would have life skills training, and work in sheltered workshops, with the goal of eventually integrating into society. That never happened. Most of the halfway house residents ended up on the street, and then the return of the traumatized Vietnam veterans swelled the ranks of the homeless even more.

      Reply
  5. It is a horrifying indictment on the ‘mentality’ of those in charge. It is devolving into the dark days of history which I’d hoped we had long past. I hope it can be stopped. Susan x

    Reply
    • I don’t know, Susan. See my answer to GracieLynne above. We have a dark history indeed, and I am afraid that with the current trend of abrogating civil liberties in the name of “security,” we are in the direct line of fire.

      Reply
  6. This is such a tragedy! So many things I could say about all of it, but here’s two that are in the forefront for me:
    1. In these times of insurance companies limiting hospital (incl. psych hospitals) stay times and numbers of outpatient visits at their own whim (and often at the detriment of the patients) it is unreal that Ohio is trying to get these long 10 day holds, and maybe undetermined hospital stays, for the ‘possibly’ mentally ill. Current psych hold are 72 hrs, which really is plenty of time for professionals to decide if they are a danger to themselves or other people (I was a psychotherapist, so I know). And, like you said, who is going to pay for all this restriction of human rights?
    2. Seclusion rooms in schools!!!! What the f@#k?! When I worked in a psych residential treatment/hospital for children we did have a seclusion room but there had to be damn good documented reason to use it and a PHYSICIAN/PSYCHIATRIST had to order the use of it. Very close tabs had to be kept while they were in there and they were to be allowed to leave as soon as they were calm enough to rejoin the mileu. The room was completely padded for the safety of the kids…I couldn’t believe the pictures of the room on the video that was partially covered with mats…”if you’re going to bang your head on the wall please do it where the mats are and not the concrete”…you’ve got to be kidding me! I imagine kids were held in these rooms for long periods of time because everybody at schools are very busy doing their jobs with lots of other kids. There are just so many reasons that this is so very wrong. Don’t understand how it was legal (maybe it wasn’t/isn’t?)
    Thanks so much for posting this, Laura. It’s info we need to know about.
    Peace to your heart

    Reply
    • You’ve said it all, Sara. I really hope that the expose’ on the seclusion rooms in the schools will spark a class action suit. My own child, who is his mother’s son and therefore inherited a tad of Asperger’s, went through a period before he was socially developed enough to know how to manage his emotions where he pitched violent fits at home, needing to be bear-hugged until he was calm enough to go to his room, where he would then destroy whatever he could. I would tell him “You can come out when you’re human.” After a time of crashing and crying in his room, all would get quiet and he would peek out his door and say, “I’m human now, Mama. Can I come out now?” And we would have big hugs and cookies, and then go clean up the mess in his room.

      But if any school had dared TOUCH my child, let alone put him in a bare cell for who knows how long, there would have been a lawsuit the size of Texas.

      Reply

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