I often feel like the harbinger of doom-and-gloom. There are so many issues that I see as important. Most of them result in death. Some have happy endings.
Fiction has been a respite for me. I don’t indulge in it often. It feels like a desert after a burnt roast. It’s hard to immerse oneself in fictional bliss when there is so damn much going on—that burnt roast.
I feel one of Robert Cormack‘s pieces tickling my mind. I stumbled through your blog, Robert, looking for the piece, but could not find it. That’s okay—I’ll just revel in the tickle.
But surrounding that tickle is the issue forefront in my mind—people are dying as the result of negligent homicide, and no one is charged in these deaths. Cases in point:
Massachusetts has a system in place where mental health care providers are omnipotent. They have ultimate power and control and are virtually untouchable by the legal system. Once you’ve been deemed bonkers, your life is in danger. The system can grab you at any time and throw you in one of their less-than-stellar facilities. You can disappear for years. If you die from what is done to you in those facilities, they say,
and they just move on to the next victim. They tell authorities, Hey—sh*t happens in these places, and authorities go along with the flow.
In The Boston Globe’s article:
“Carol Chesley, whose son died at Arbour Hospital in Jamaica Plain 15 years ago, was taking a break from advocacy. Jason was 18 years old when he stopped taking his medication for bipolar disorder, contemplated suicide, and ended up in the emergency room at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Doctors transferred him to Arbour. He called his mother the next day. “He sounded as high as a kite like I have never ever heard him before,’’ Chesley recalled in an interview. “I said, ‘What kind of medications do they have you on?’ He said, ‘Methadone. They said I am a heroin addict.’ ’’
But he wasn’t, she said.
“Two days later, on Feb. 1, 2002, staff tried to wake up Jason at 7:30 a.m., but they could not rouse him. At 9:15 a.m., they looked in on him again and realized he had stopped breathing, according to an expert who reviewed the case for the Department of Public Health.
“At first, the state did not fault the hospital. But Chesley appealed, and further investigation led to the conclusion that the hospital had misdiagnosed Jason with a serious heroin addiction, prescribing a dangerous dose of methadone and numerous other drugs that also depressed his central nervous system. At the same time, staff failed to properly monitor the impact of these drugs on his body; his vital signs were not taken for a full 24 hours prior to his death.
The hospital argued to the state that Jason’s treatment was appropriate.”
Liz Kowalczyk GLOBE STAFF JUNE 10, 2017
I tracked down Carol Chesley and asked her for an interview. She declined, saying,
“I have received your phone calls. I am a very private person and I am not interested in being interviewed or getting involved in any new advocacy. I am over extended at this time and trying to find peace in my life. I wish you success in your journey.
Most often, tracking down a story is thankless. I was delighted with even this response. I will respect her wishes
I wanted to dig deeper into why no one was charged with murder.
How extensive is the problem? I’ve been stumbling around for years trying to answer that question for myself. The attitude toward the mentally impaired takes on ominous reverberations. We dismiss them as unviable members of society; therefore, not entitled to human rights. Animals have more rights. It’s frightening.
My mind was just meandering through the possibility that our problem is statewide when Ian Weinberg wrote his post: https://www.bebee.com/producer/@ian-weinberg/the-shameless-and-the-damaged. I think my mind refused to believe he was from anywhere other than the United States because this being a nationwide problem was as far as my horror could go. Now—a few months later—my horror muscles have stretched, and I find myself grasping that the problem is probably worldwide.
Imagine your life stripped from you with the slash of a pen… Imagine the possibility that if you decline medications, they could be force-fed to you. Imagine those medications killing you. Now spring from those imaginings and make it a reality. You’re being held down while they inject you with who-knows-what. There’s a deadly interaction with another medication you are on and poof.
These places require complete obedience even if it means contributing to your own death.
I don’t know if the problem is this bad in South Africa, but it is this bad here at least in my state.
What I don’t know is—when did murder become legal? I know this sounds outrageous. But here it’s true.
I went to visit John in my post: https://joycebowen.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/predation-stories-of-stolen-childhoods/. He spent six years at Bridgewater State Hospital after being declared incompetent to stand trial. And he was incompetent. He had the mind of a 10-year-old. He had been orally raped time and time again during the crucial years the developmentally-disabled need to handle their sexuality—puberty burnt brightly in those years. Essentially, he had been taught by a brutal man that children were sexual objects. John had been found in a home about ten blocks from my house whose occupants traded their kids for drugs and money. John was in his middle twenties, and he was guilty.
Does a 20-something-year-old with the mind of a 10-year-old kid belong in an institution for the criminally insane?
I thought not, and I hope his release into a residential facility a year later was the spurred on by my efforts.
No one knows better than me that all this sounds unbelievable. But it’s all true, and it’s happening right now.
I’ve come to believe that behavior demonstrated in Deception is the rule, not the exception. Just be careful that those in power don’t come along and take your life away with the swipe of a pen. It’s easier than you think.
Copyright 2017 Joyce Bowen
Sobre el autor: Joyce Bowen es un escritor independiente y orador público. Las consultas pueden hacerse en firstname.lastname@example.org