National Stigma Clearinghouse
NEWS ARCHIVE 2005 (January -July)
Please scroll down for earliest items
July 31, 2005 - News
of the Week
PSYCHOLOGIST/ACTIVIST/PSYCHIATRIC SURVIVOR, EXPLAINS HOW "PERSONAL
MEDICINE" HELPS RECOVERY PROCESS
The Importance of Personal Medicine
by Dr. Patricia Deegan (http://www.patdeegan.com)
We are hearing a lot about recovery these days and many mental health
systems are seeking to transform themselves to a recovery orientation.
However the whole area of psychopharmacology and psychiatric
medications remains stuck in an outdated medical model where the
emphasis is too often on compliance rather than choice, and obedience
to medical authority rather than self-determination.
I have become very interested in exploring what a recovery based
approach to using psychiatric medications would be. Through a research
contract with the University of Kansas, I have had the opportunity to
conduct qualitative research on how people who are diagnosed with major
mental disorders use psychiatric medications.
One of my major findings has been that people who are recovering do not
simply swallow pills in a passive way. Instead they get active and they
understand that recovery is about changing our lives, not just our
biochemistry. I have learned that psychiatric medicine is not the only
type of medicine that is important to recovery.
Personal medicine, or those things that raise our self esteem and make
life worth living are vital to recovery. Fishing, meditating,
exercising, having dinner with a friend, being a good mom, - all of
these things and more can be vital to our recovery. All are forms of
what I have come to call personal medicine.
PLEASE NOTE THAT PERSONAL MEDICINE DOES NOT REFER TO PERSONAL
CONCOCTIONS OF OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATIONS OR HERBAL REMEDIES OR
When I interviewed people about their use of psychiatric medications, I
expected that they would tell me about using pills. To my surprise,
they spent most of the interview hour telling me about a myriad of
things they did to feel better. They challenged conventional
understanding of medication.
When asked to describe their use of psychiatric medications, they
described using pharmaceuticals but also spontaneously reported a
variety of non-pharmaceutical strategies that served to improve mood,
outlook, thought and behaviors.
That is, when describing their use of psychiatric pharmaceuticals or
'pill medicine', research participants also described a variety of
personal wellness strategies and activities that I have called
Personal medicines were non-pharmaceutical activities and strategies
that served to decrease symptoms and increase personal wellness.
Personal medicine was discovered by study participants in the everyday
context of their lives. Most often clinicians did not suggest it.
For instance, one research participant diagnosed with bi-polar
disorder, found that solving mathematics problems was a powerful mood
stabilizer. He said:
I think there are a lot of other things that are medication, that are
not really considered medication. There's things that you can do that
changes what your body does. And it may not be medicine. I still
think that one of the best mood stabilizers there is in life - maybe
not for everyone but for me - is math. That stimulates your
intellectual process. (Joe)
All of the research participants identified unique types of personal
medicine that they used in addition to, or in place of, psychiatric
Personal medicine fell into two broad categories: those activities that
gave life meaning and purpose, and self-care strategies. Both increased
feelings of wellness and decreased/eliminated psychiatric symptoms
and/or undesirable outcomes such as hospitalization. Examples of
personal medicine included the importance of being a good parent,
singing in a gospel group, helping peers, fishing, laughing, going to
school, working, taking care of a pet, and cooking for an appreciative
I think that in a recovery oriented mental health system, the
importance of personal medicine would be recognized, honored and
Pat Deegan PhD & Associates offer a wide
range of services to help transform mental health systems into recovery
oriented service systems that promote self determination for people
with psychiatric disabilities. To learn more contact Pat@patdeegan.com
Source: 'Mental Health E-News' posting, a service
of the New York Ass'n of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. (http://www.nyaprs.org)
July 24, 2005 - News
of the Week
RECORD SHOWS SUPREME COURT NOMINEE, JUDGE
JOHN ROBERTS, POSES THREAT TO AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES
Below is a statement of Jim Ward, Founder and President of ADA
ADA: Americans With Disabilities
Act; NCDR: National Coalition for Disability Rights
At a time when our Nation could have greatly benefited from the
selection of a mainstream consensus nominee, people with disabilities
--indeed all Americans -- should be saddened and disturbed by President
Bush's choice of Judge John Roberts to fill Justice Sandra Day
O'Connor's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
While Justice O'Connor did not take the side of people with
disabilities in all cases, she was the swing vote on important 5-4
rulings involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including
historic cases such as Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999) and
Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509 (2004).
With the selection of John Roberts, President Bush is making good on
his stated intention to fill a Court vacancy with a nominee in the mold
of Scalia or Thomas -- Justices who have consistently ruled against
people with disabilities in these and other landmark cases. If
confirmed, such 5-4 votes would surely go in the other direction and
reverse the historic gains of people with disabilities.
ADA Watch/NCDR is a coalition of hundreds of disability, civil rights
and social justice organizations united to defend and promote the human
rights of children and adults with physical, mental, cognitive and
Why we are opposed to Judge John Roberts:
Narrow Interpretation of the ADA:
After the Sixth Circuit ruled that a woman with serious manual
impairments was substantially limited in one or more of her life
activities, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case (Williams v.
Toyota Motor Mfg., Ky., Inc., 224 F.3d 840 ), and Judge Roberts
argued and briefed the case on behalf of Toyota. His briefs and oral
argument distorted the facts of the case and minimized the extent of
Ella Williams' disability.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court believed Judge Robert's
misrepresentations and decided in favor of Toyota. It also came down
with a new and very strict test for disability. This test has made it
much more difficult for ADA plaintiffs to prove that they are disabled
with devastating impact on people with epilepsy, diabetes, mental
illness and workplace injuries.
The impact of Robert's distortions is evident in subsequent decisions
including Three Rivers Center for Independent Living v. Pittsburgh
Public Housing Authority, which barred a Center for Independent Living
(CIL) from filing suit to hold a Public Housing Authority accountable
for violating Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Thus the consequences of Judge Roberts' distortions of the record have
been wide-ranging: they helped to create yet another unfortunate
Supreme Court precedent that has further impeded the goals of the ADA.
Roberts record demonstrates his inclination to strike down federal
anti-discrimination statues and to further limit congressional power,
narrowly construe the ADA, and restrict the ability of plaintiffs to
get into federal court.
Roberts declared that the current Supreme Court is not conservative
enough specifically in response to the October 1999 term during which
the conservative majority judicial activism included the striking down
of the Violence Against Women Act and throwing out an age
discrimination suit on federalism grounds.
Mr. Roberts is a member of two right-wing legal groups that promote a
pro-corporate, anti-regulatory agenda: the Federalist Society and the
National Legal Center For The Public Interest, serving on the latter
group's Legal Advisory Council.
The Federalist Society's overarching goal is to roll back domestic
policy to before FDR's New Deal and its members (including Jeffrey
Sutton, William Pryor, and others) have specifically targeted the ADA.
The National Legal Center For The Public Interest has attacked ADA
civil rights protections in numerous forums including its publication
of a document entitled "Civil Rights and the Disabled: The Legislative
Narrowing of Civil Rights Protections:
After a Supreme Court decision effectively nullified certain sections
of the Voting Rights Act (City of Mobile v. Bolden 446 U.S. 55 ),
Roberts was involved in the Reagan administration's effort to prevent
Congress from overturning the Supreme Court's action. The Supreme Court
had recently decided that certain sections of the Voting Rights Act
could only be violated by intentional discrimination and not by laws
that had a discriminatory effect, despite a lack of textual basis for
this interpretation in the statute. Roberts was part of the effort to
legitimize that decision and to stop Congress from overturning it.
In private practice, wrote a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that
Congress had failed to justify a Department of Transportation
affirmative action program. (Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta,
As expressed in one case where he would have invalidated a provision of
the Endangered Species Act, his exceedingly restrictive view of federal
law-making authority, more restrictive than the current Supreme
Court's, could threaten a wide swath of workplace, civil rights,
public safety and environmental protections.
In his years of service as a political appointee in the administrations
of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Judge Roberts also helped
craft legal policies that sought to weaken school desegregation
efforts, the reproductive rights of women, environmental protections,
church-state separation and the voting rights of African
Source: NYAPRS. This 'Mental Health
E-News' posting is a service of the New York Ass'n of Psychiatric
June 29, 2005 - News
of the Week
NEW YORK'S LEGISLATURE EXTENDS OUTPATIENT
The New York State Legislature voted overwhelmingly on Thursday, June
23, to extend the state's controversial psychiatric outpatient
commitment law (Kendra's Law) for an additional five years.
The Legislature's time-limited approach to continuing Kendra's Law was
a blow to forced-medication advocates who wanted it to be made
permanent. Likewise it angered human rights activists who view the law
as an egregious attack on human and civil rights.
Kendra's Law promises individuals who are court-ordered to take
medication an array of support services and housing; these "assisted"
individuals lose most of their autonomy to choose programs,
medications, housing arrangements, doctors and therapists. Medication
is the only sure component of every court order, since gaps in
community resources vary widely across the state.
From the beginning of March when Governor Pataki announced his
legislation to make Kendra's Law permanent, anti-coercion advocates saw
a strong political commitment to continue Kendra's Law. Hoping to wage
a winnable battle, NYAPRS and its allies fought to increase oversight
and accountability, add non-coercive options for patients, improve
methods of evaluating the law's effectiveness, and limit the law's
Joining the Governor in his call for permanence were those NAMI
families who viewed the law as their only source of help for desperate
situations. Also calling for permanence was the Treatment Advocacy
Center (TAC), a well-funded group in Arlington, Virginia that has spent
more than a decade promoting coercive psychiatric medication laws
nationwide, and the state's Attorney General Eliot Spitzer who
introduced the law in 1999.
Kendra's Law is expensive to implement. Where is the money coming from?
Funds for essential community support services have never been
adequate. Drastic cuts to psychiatric services during the early days of
the Pataki administration have not been restored. New York now spends
less on community psychiatric care than it did during the Cuomo years.
This explains why tens of thousands of voluntary users of
psychiatric services are threatened by program cuts and homelessness.
Past and present penny-pinching also explains the dread felt by tens of
thousands of senior citizens. By default, they have been the sole
source of care for their adult children since the 1980's, when hospital
downsizing was at its peak and the state promised to create a network
of supportive services in every community. Albany's failure to keep
that promise goes hand-in-hand with its reliance on elderly parents to
supply a home, food, and, in most cases, to oversee the adult child's
treatment, monitor medication, and search for programs that promote
independence (where they exist). However, this low-cost deal for the
state is destined to end. And adding to the families' worries, there is
no official recognition of their plight and no planning to avert the
Extended Kendra's Law Click Bill Search and enter bill #A8954. Or,
do a Senate search for S5876. (Or click here)
Controversy: Background, Comments, and Article Updates
Lawmakers Extend Kendra's Law For 5 Years, Despite Concerns That It
Targets Men of Color," New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
May 22, 2005 - News of the Week
MORE ABOUT KENDRA'S LAW
(1) Kendra's Law Teaches How To
Play "The Violence Card," May 2005
(2) The Railroading of Andrew
Goldstein, Septmber 2000
(3) Remember Andrew, the Other
Victim, July 1999
KENDRA'S LAW TEACHES HOW TO
PLAY "THE VIOLENCE CARD"
by Jean Arnold
"Laws change for a single
reason, in reaction to highly publicized incidents of violence." This
wisdom is from D. J. Jaffe, a co-founder of the Treatment Advocacy
Center (TAC) in Arlington, Virginia, speaking at a national NAMI
conference in the summer of 1999.
Jaffe told the NAMI audience that a law permitting court-ordered
outpatient medication, or any other law, will be enacted if framed as
crucial to public safety. In preparation, Jaffe had taken TAC's forced
medication proposal to an array of law enforcement agencies where he
found instant receptivity. He advised the advocates, "Forget the mental
health community, take this out to the public at large. You will find
there is very little opposition to changing the law once you get it
outside a mental health arena."
Jaffe's "highly publicized incident of violence" occurred on January 3,
1999 when a man diagnosed with schizophrenia, Andrew Goldstein, gave
aspiring writer Kendra Webdale a fatal shove as a train approached a
Manhattan subway station. TAC contacted Kendra's shocked and grieving
mother, Patricia, explained to her their "public safety" agenda, and
won her support. Under TAC's guidance, an overwhelming family tragedy
came to symbolize a menace to every New Yorker.
In Jaffe's words, "The media goes and interviews these people, and
because we've been to them first, they are telling our story." The
final boost for Kendra's Law came when incoming Attorney General Eliot
Spitzer and Governor George E. Patai joined the campaign with full
Just six months after Kendra's death, the New York legislature voted
overwhelmingly for a five-year trial of court-ordered outpatient
medication. Never mind that legislators later commented that the true
culprit in the Webdale tragedy was New York's relentless cost-cutting
and dismantling of its mental health system. And never mind that when
Andrew Goldstein's history was detailed by a New York Times reporter,
Michael Winerip, Goldstein was found to have needed supportive services
and a decent place to live, not court-ordered medication.
With the Kendra's Law experiment due to expire on June 30th, old issues
are flaring once again. To impress legislators with the need for forced
medication, last week the law's supporters cited 18 studies assembled
by TAC to prove that lack of psychiatric medication causes violent
behavior. However, 14 of the studies make no mention of medication in
Oddly, violence prevention seems a low priority in the implementation
of Kendra's Law. Only 15% of the program's clients have been noted as
violent with no explanation of the term.
This low rate of violence is not surprising, however. In 2002, a Duke
University research team found that people with severe mental illnesses
are highly unlikely to become violent toward others unless they have
additional risk factors combined with their psychiatric disorder.
Without any of the risk factors -- having been a victim of violence
during childhood, living in a neighborhood where violence is common,
and having a substance abuse problem -- those with severe mental
illnesses were no more likely to engage in violent behavior than people
in the general population without a psychiatric disorder. "Acts of
violence by people with mental illness are rare" said Jeffrey Swanson,
Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, a
sociologist at Duke and lead author of the study. Swanson noted,
"violent crimes committed by psychiatric patients become big headlines
and reinforce the social stigma and rejections felt by many individuals
who suffer from a mental illness. But our findings suggest that serious
violence is the rare exception among all people with psychiatric
disorders" (Jeffrey Swanson et. al., American Journal of Public
Health, Sept. 2002).
What's next for Kendra's Law?
Many families of individuals with psychiatric disabilities, closely
allied with TAC leaders, are calling for Kendra's Law to be made
permanent. They acknowledge flaws in the law but cite promising results
in some areas of the state.
A seond group, a broad statewide coalition of mental health advocates,
opposes permanent status for the law. They are asking the New York
State legislature to extend its oversight role for an additional period
(2 years) and to seek more convincing research to support its
continuation. Most of these advocates reject coercion and call for
access to high quality programs.
A third group opposes any continuation of the law. These are advocates
with first-hand experience of mis-medication, mis-diagnosis,
incompetence, inappropriate programs, and the loss of human and civil
After the law's hasty passage in 1999, Assemblyman Edward Sullivan
(Manhattan) summed up his objections. "What bothers me is the political
nature of this bill. There has been a great deal of pressure to contain
antisocial behaviors of some people with mental illness. And there's
also been a great deal of political pressure to keep costs down. These
have often proved to be contradictory pressures. People in charge of
the state's budget-making have absented themselves from this problem.
... Let's go back to the budgeters and find the money!"
ARTICLE: THE RAILROADING
OF ANDREW GOLDSTEIN
by Patricia Warburg Cliff
The Journal of California AMI
V.11,1.3 (September 2000)
The failure of the legal profession, the court system and the public to
grasp the vital concepts involved in the two trials of Andrew Goldstein
further reinforce the fact that we at NAMI have much work to do.
In January 1999, Andrew Goldstein, an unmedicated, delusional person
with paranoid schizophrenia who had been unsuccessfully seeking help at
various hospital emergency rooms, pushed Kendra Webdale to her death on
the tracks of the New York City subway. Unfortunately the terrible
tragedy of this young woman's death clouded public perception of the
situation which allowed this to occur: the failure of the public system
to offer the required state-financed housing with day services, clinic
visits and an intensive case manager, to this seriously ill young man.
It was, however, not the system which was on trial, but the other
"victim" of this tragedy, Andrew Goldstein himself. The first trial
ended in a hung jury, because two jury members had had some limited
experience with the mental health system and consequently understood
the nature of Goldstein's illness and his inability to form the
necessary intent to commit murder in his psychotic state. The public's
outcry for revengeful punishment did not, however, cease.
In late February, 2000, a second trial was commenced. After hearing the
evidence, the judge instructed the jury that they had the option of
convicting the defendant of manslaughter in lieu of the second degree
murder charges, if they found that he had acted with "depraved
indifference," but without the requisite intent necessary for a
conviction of second degree murder. It took the jury only two hours to
reach the verdict of second degree murder.
The irony of the situation should not be overlooked: Andrew Goldstein
was being held at Bellevue Hospital following his arrest where he was
willingly receiving treatment for his illness and consequently would
not be able to appear sufficiently psychotic at his trial to
demonstrate to the jury the disabling effect of this illness on his
judgment. The defense pinned its hopes on taking Mr. Goldstein off his
antipsychotic medication and putting him on the stand, to better show
the jurors his mental state at the time of the attack. This novel
concept was thwarted when Mr. Goldstein struck a social worker, further
indicating his violent state of mind when unmedicated. Judge Berkman
insisted that Mr. Goldstein be offered the choice of taking his
antipsychotic medication, which he chose to do. The result was that the
jury was able to see a passive, sedated individual and not the person
whose delusions caused his violent behavior.
NAMI's suggestions to the defense counsel to utilize the virtual
reality videos produced by pharmaceutical companies which demonstrate
the psychotic state of mind, as well as comparisons to the diminished
capacity suffered by individuals who are experiencing the onset of a
diabetic coma or an epileptic seizure, fell on deaf ears. The
subsequent result demonstrates the ignorance of the judge, jury and
defense counsel with respect to paranoid schizophrenia. Andrew
Goldstein never got a fair chance.
At the conclusion of the trial, the jurors were convinced that
punishment, not treatment, was warranted. Mrs. Webdale, the victim's
mother spoke at the sentencing hearing: "It is my contention that if
Andrew Goldstein had been held responsible many incidents ago, there
would not have been 13 assaults and one homicide committed by him. His
ongoing aggression was tolerated and acceptable." The presiding judge
concurred saying that the attack stemmed from the state mental health
system's failure to punish Mr. Goldstein for past assaults.
On May 5, 2000, Judge Berkman gave Andrew Goldstein the maximum
sentence of 25 years to life in prison for the murder of Kendra
Webdale. What is wrong with this picture? Has the "justice system"
reverted to a witch hunt to punish the violent mentally ill whom the
public system has dismally failed? Are we, as a society, going to be
content with the gross misunderstandings of mental illness which were
demonstrated in this trial? How are we going to educate the judiciary
about these issues?
The ultimate irony is that the New York State legislature, ever
reluctant to provide sufficient funding for treatment for the mentally
ill, hastily passed a bill, commonly referred to as "Kendra's Law,"
allowing for court ordered treatment or commitment of the mentally ill
under certain circumstances. Andrew Goldstein who is now rotting in the
state prison system, had tried repeatedly to get help before the
attack. He even sought his own commitment when he realized that he was
out of control. The misnomered "Kendra's Law" would not have prevented
PATRICIA WARBURG CLIFF, an attorney and mental
health advocate in New York City, serves on the national board of NAMI
as well as on the board of NAMI-NYC Metro. Her only child, Kenneth
Johnson, succumbed to depression in 1995, as a result of the private
health care system's failure to adequately diagnose and appropriately
care for his illness.
End of article
EDITORIAL: REMEMBER ANDREW. THE OTHER VICTIM
by Janet Susin
PATHways (NAMI-Queens/Nassau newsletter)
By now, you must have seen Michael Winerip's disturbing New York Times
Magazine cover story of May 24 about how the mental health system
failed Andrew Goldstein and led to the fatal subway pushing which took
Kendra Webdale's life. This gripping, meticulously documented account
of how Goldstein tried thirteen different times to get help, but was
discharged each time without adequate support or housing, should make
us all feel ashamed -- politicians who are indifferent to the plight of
this vulnerable population, New York State residents who go about their
business and accept the inevitability of this shameful neglect, but
most of all Governor Pataki, who has turned a deaf ear to pleas for
supervised housing and additional supports.
The article has finally roused Albany politicians from their torpor.
Assemblyman Brennan has said he will introduce a bill to authorize a
$200 million appropriation for 2,500 additional beds, although no
mention was made of the supervised beds Goldstein would have needed.
And Senator Libous, Chair of the State Senate Committee on Mental
Health, introduced a bill to use $5 million to provide and coordinate
services for what the New York Times describes as "a small goup of
particularly troubled former patients who are mentally ill."
In the wake of Winerip's article, which provided detailed documentation
of repeated discharges without appropriate follow-up, the Webdales are
filing a lawsuit against several hospitals. Could this be our
Willowbrook? Let's hope that this story stays on our politicians' radar
screens long enough for them to pass some meaningful legislation--not
just the kind that promises to get things under control but fails to
provide the financial support to back it up.
JANET SUSIN is co-president of NAMI-Queens/Nassau in
Long Island New York. Her editorial comments in the organization's
newsletter may not reflect the views of her organization.
New York Times, Magazine Desk, May 23, 1999
"BEDLAM ON THE STREETS. Increasingly, the Mentally Ill Have Nowhere
to Go," by MICHAEL WINERIP
NY TIMES ABSTRACT - Michael Winerip article discusses case of Andrew
Goldstein, a mentally ill man with history of assault that culminated
in January with murder of Kendra Webdale, who Goldstein pushed under
subway train in New York City; notes Goldstein voluntarily sought
professional help at various state hospitals, cooperated with
psychiatrists and made number of attempts to obtain long-term
hospitalization at Creedmoor, state hospital; maintains there is long
list of institutions and individuals who should be held accountable for
what happened to Goldstein and Webdale, but at the top of the list
belong Gov. Pataki and the State of New York, for it is states that
have primarily responsibility for citizens who are mentally ill, and it
is the states that have persisently shirked that responsibility; photos
D. J. JAFFE'S SPEECH AT 1999 NAMI CONVENTION.
A candid outline of strategy used by the Treatment Advocacy Center to
achieve their political goals. We have not found the full document
online. Transcripts are available on request from firstname.lastname@example.org.
TAC'S SELF-SERVING DISTORTION OF RESEARCH
RESULTS. Time and again, the Treatment Advocacy Center has tagged
their own assumptions onto the research of others, then cited the
studies to support their view. The resulting errors are hard to spot
and near-impossible to correct. For more about this practice, go to STIGMATIZING
April 30, 2005 - News
of the Week
MINDFREEDOM.ORG WARNS AGAINST PSYCHIATRIC
NEWS RELEASE, May 1, 2005
MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATES WARN USA
AT NEWS CONFERENCE AND PROTEST
IN FRONT OF
PHRMA HEADQUARTERS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
"The Psychiatric Drug Industry Is Targeting Your Kids!"
Hear the latest on a free international radio call-in show also
available via the Internet (see below for details).
Advocates, attorneys, mental health professionals and activists from
throughout the USA are meeting this weekend at the American University
Washington College of Law to launch a campaign to "just say no" to
psychiatric drug industry screening programs.
"Drug corporations have America's youth in their crosshairs," said
David Oaks, Director of MindFreedom International, a co-sponsor of the
Action Conference, which included human rights activists from British
Columbia to Hungary.
President Bush announced he wants universal screening of *all* youth in
the USA by programs developed by the psychiatric drug industry, and
these advocates are sounding the alarm.
A new investigation by Mother Jones magazine (May/June 2005)
revealed that the drug industry is misusing programs that sound good on
the surface to harvest more clients for drugging.
Conference participants said they will announce a new national campaign
to oppose Bush's national screening program at a news conference
directly in front of the headquarters of the Pharmaceutical Research
and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) in Washington, DC at noon on
Monday, 2 May 2005. This will be followed by a peaceful protest.
Activists also vowed to bring their allegations about President Bush's
abuse of the mental health system to the international community via
the United Nations and World Health Organization.
FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE THESE WEB SITES:
* For more info about the news conference & protest with
downloadable poster, news release and letter to PhRMA see:
* For a summary of the new Mother Jones article & photo in
the May/June 2005 issue exposing how Bush's screening programs is
already dosing children even over the parents' wishes:
* For complete text of article in Mother Jones May/June 2005
* For background on the Bush plan to screen every American child -- and
adult -- using psychiatric drug corporation programs:
* HEAR THE NEWS FROM ANYWHERE VIA LIVE RADIO CALL-IN.
You may hear the latest news after the news conference and protest by
tuning into a radio show broadcast throughout North America or
everywhere via the Internet. You may phone in live with questions or
comments, or listen to the program later on an archive.
Here's the announcement from the radio network -- please forward:
Broadcast Schedule of The 'X' Zone Radio Show with Rob McConnell
Starting at Monday night, 2 May 2005 at 12:00 AM (midnight) for one
hour to Tuesday, 3 May 2005 at 1:00 AM east coast time.
GUEST: David Oaks - Director, MindFreedom International
with results from their news conference & protest earlier that same
day in front of PhRMA is Washington, D.C.
The 'X' Zone would like to welcome the following new affiliates : In
United States: KCHR 1350 AM Charleston, MO; WZNG 1400 AM Nashville,
Shelbyville, TN; WPGS 840 AM Orlando, Titusville, FL; WMEX 106.7 FM
Rochester, NH; KNTS 89.7 John Day, OR; WELW AM 1330 Cleveland, OH; KSEK
AM Pittsburg, KS; WDRF 1510 AM Wooddruff, SC and in Canada : CFOV AM
630 Kelowna, BC.
For information on other affiliates and listening in via the Internet:
Visit The 'X' Zone Radio Show website at http://www.xzone-radio.com
To ask to speak with Rob McConnell or any of his guests, call in TOLL
the United States and Canada by dialing – 1-877-528-TALK
From outside the US and Canada, send an e-mail to email@example.com,
or MSN Messenger to firstname.lastname@example.org
or AOL IM to xzonestudio.
'X' Zone Radio Show Archives are available at http://www.xzone-radio.com/archives.htm.
Host & Executive Producer,
The 'X' Zone Radio Show
ICQ - 6272860
The 'X' Zone Radio Show is available on satellites Galaxy 4R and AMC-4.
PLEASE forward and post to all appropriate places on and off the
Posted by MindFreedom International. For information and to join see http://www.MindFreedom.org
POSTING (4/27/2005)*** FREE TELECONFERENCE TRAINING ON DECREASING
STIGMA ASSOCIATED WITH MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY
Source: Consumer Affairs News from the Center for Mental Health
Teleconference Training on Thursday, May 5, 2005.
You are invited to participate in a free teleconference training,
"Decreasing Stigma Associated with Mental Illness in the African
This teleconference training is sponsored by the SAMHSA Resource Center
to Address Discrimination and Stigma (ADS Center), a project of
the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human
The session is free to participants.
Date: Thursday, May 5, 2005
Time: 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).
To register for this teleconference, please fill out the form at http://www.stopstigma.samhsa.gov/regpage.htm.
Also, feel free to pass on this invitation to others who might be
For more information, please contact America Doria-Medina by email (email@example.com) or by
telephone at 1-800-540-0320.
Registration for this teleconference will close at 5:00 p.m. on
Wednesday, May 4, 2005.
The research literature suggests that African American communities lack
knowledge about mental illness and about how to access early mental
health intervention services. Common myths, stigma, misinformation, and
fear unduly influence many African American families.
Consequently, while African American families experience mental illness
in proportions that are the same as the rest of the population, they
are more likely to delay seeking treatment or to succumb to
court-ordered treatment, resulting in more severe diagnoses, longer
inpatient treatment, and poorer prognoses.
The speakers for this teleconference training will discuss ways in
which African Americans obtain information about mental illnesses;
identify barriers, including beliefs and fears, to seeking help; and
describe the work of an assembly of churches in Texas that provides
education and information to decrease stigma and discrimination among
African Americans in faith communities. The training will be provided
by King Davis, Ph.D., Wilma Townsend, and Marietta Bell Noel. Brief
profiles of the trainers follow:
Mr. King Davis, Ph.D.
Dr. Davis is a professor, the Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental
Health and Social Policy, and Director for the Hogg Foundation for
Mental Health. His research and teachings at the University of Texas at
Austin have focused on mental health public policy, culturally
competent mental health services, health care for those with mental
illnesses, and disparities in rates of illness and service delivery for
consumers of color.
Ms. Wilma Townsend
Ms. Townsend is a nationally recognized expert on consumer-focused
recovery and cultural competence. She has extensive experience as a
consultant to States, local government entities, managed care
organizations, and consumer and family organizations in the areas of
consumer recovery and recovery-oriented services, peer-operated
services, consumer involvement and outcomes, and cultural competence.
Ms. Townsend is involved in a research project titled, "Actualization
of Best Practice Model System-Wide: Examination of Recovery-Oriented
Services and Outcomes." She contributed issue papers on the topics of
consumer recovery and cultural competence to the President's New
Freedom Commission on Mental Health.
Ms. Marietta Bell Noel
Ms. Noel is coordinator of the Central Texas African American Family
Support Conference and Senior Planner at Austin Travis County Mental
Health Mental Retardation Center in Austin, Texas. She provides process
direction and coordination for Center-wide strategic and annual plans
and serves as a planning liaison for various community entities
involving Center services. Ms. Noel has worked in health and human
services in both the private and public sectors and has more than 30
years of successful experience in program management, case management,
and consumer and family relations. She is a current member of the
Center's Cultural Diversity Committee.
Speaker presentations will take approximately 60 minutes and will be
followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer period. Anyone who responds
to this invitation will receive confirmation by e-mail. Prior to the
teleconference, participants will receive an online link to
presentation materials and log-in instructions for the call.
April 11, 2005 - News
of the Week
KENDRA'S LAW HEARING REOPENS COERCION
Kendra's Law (KL), New York's experiment with court-ordered psychiatric
medication for outpatients, is due to expire on June 30th. Should the
Judging from testimony at a public hearing in Manhattan on April 8,
2005, no one is satisfied with the current law.
With KL about to expire, the Assembly's Mental Health Committee
Chairman, Peter M. Rivera, and Codes Committee Chairman, Joseph R.
Lentol asked members of the mental health community for their views.
The Assemblymen heard eight hours of passionate testimony and
recommendations from advocacy organizations, public officials,
psychiatric survivors, families, clinicians, services providers, and
Five years ago, the battle for KL pitted NAMI-NYS and the Treatment
Advocacy Center (TAC) of Arlington Virginia, a group whose primary
interest is psychiatric medication, against the community of
psychiatric survivors and their allies who view forced medication as
At the hearing, KL supporters called for greater family access to
obtaining court orders; KL opponents cited negative effects of coercion
and the success of high-quality alternatives. For more information
about NAMI-NYS and NYAPRS positions, go to http://community-2.webtv.net/stigmanet/KENDRASLAW,
and to http://www.naminys.org and
By our count, ten TAC and NAMI-NYS speakers and supporters recommended
that KL become permanent. Twenty other speakers consider permanent
enactment premature, but would continue the experiment for 3 to 5
years. Ten people objected to KL's continuation. Nearly everyone who
spoke in favor of letting the experiment continue called for improved
accountability and more relevant outcome data from New York's Office of
Psychiatric survivors who support KL's limited continuation made clear
that they do not support its coercion clause.
All speakers agreed on one basic issue. High quality community services
are in desperately short supply. KL is rarely able to deliver the full
package of treatment components it promises. Meanwhile, successful
voluntary programs are forced to compete with KL for already barebones
resources. The most critical shortages are a lack of case managers,
appropriate housing, and dual-diagnosis treatment programs (50% of KL
patients have a mental illness combined with a substance abuse problem).
County administrators spoke of increased liability risk when essential
programs are understaffed or missing altogether, and of new costs to
counties with the addition of unfunded mandates. Dr. Antonio Abad of
the Association of Hispanic Mental Health Professionals said additional
treatment models could improve outcomes of people who are not good
candidates for KL; he also called for more bilingual services.
From an antistigma point of view, the lasting negative effects of KL's
publicity has been our main concern. The law's passage was won in 1999
on a "public safety" platform; negative fallout from this heavy
emphasis on violence still haunts the mental health community. Nassau
County Director Harold Sovronsky referred to the public's misguided
perception, fanned by KL advocates, that KL protects public safety.
Sovronsky said that in fact, "there is little if any consequence to
those who violate court-ordered treatment."
Nothing was said at the hearing about the framing of Andrew Goldstein
to get KL passed. Goldstein had to be shoehorned into the
"non-compliant patient" role. Michael Winerip, a New York Times
reporter who investigated the Andrew Goldstein case, wrote in December
1999 that "by the summer of 1999, the newly disclosed facts of the
Goldstein case justified what mental health advocates had been arguing
for years: a lack of state spending was crippling the system. To cut
costs, the state had set quotas for reducing the patient population at
every public hospital in New York, making it extremely difficult to get
long-term care. Mr. Goldstein was a perfect example."
Winerip recounts that Goldstein (who voluntarily committed himself for
treatment 13 times) acted violently even in hospital settings
numerous times. Still, the system stalled his admissions and repeatedly
recycled him to the street, despite his requests for treatment of his
uncontrollable violent urges.
ADDITIONAL NOTES AND COMMENTS:
1) Several key administrators, including Joyce B. Wale of the New York
City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), recommended a limited
extension (3 years) of the KL experiment. She stressed the need for
scientific longitudinal research and improved accountability. Ms. Wale
also suggested the inclusion of peer counselors throughout the state
based on their excellent performance in NYC.
2) John Gresham of Lawyers for the Public Interest testified that KL
has produced a pattern of racial imbalance. Court orders target Black
patients 3X more than whites, and Hispanic patients 2X more than
whites. Gresham has found no reasonable explanation for this
disproportion to date.
3) Shelly Nortz, Coalition for the Homeless, suggested that KL is being
used to effect the hospital discharge process. She noted that the New
York/New York program met this need without using court orders. The
program served well over 10,000 homeless mentally ill adults with
For the record, Clarence Sundram, former head of the Commission on
Quality of Care, noted in 1999 that "Coercion is needed, but to enforce
laws already on the books that are routinely disregarded with impunity,
either because of the scarcity of resources or because of conflicting
4) It should be noted that Julio Perez, who attacked speaker Edgar
Rivera in 1999 causing the amputation of his legs, had tried to get
help just before his violent act. Five hours before the attack, Perez
went to the emergency room of the Veteran's Administration Hospital,
the police headquarters, and the criminal courts building, saying that
his enemies were following him. Times reporter Nina Bernstein wrote
(6/28/99): "Each sent him to another part of the same disjointed system
that had been shuttling him between hospitals, jails, shelters and the
streets of New York since 1995." The Times said Perez had tried to get
medicine, but his Medicaid card had expired.
Our records show that when a rare violent act by a person with mental
illness occurs, often the person has been recently denied a voluntary
request for help.
5) Hannah Craven, a NAMI-Metro member (not representing NAMI), limited
her testimony to statistical errors and confusion in OMH's report of
March 2005 on KL performance. Craven submitted an analysis of OMH's
questionable figures and requested that these be corrected before the
law reaches a vote.
6) Medication is the cornerstone of every court order under KL. The
testimony of Eileen McGinn, MPH, a family member, names three
assumptions that, if true, would support compulsory medication. The
assumptions are: that psychotropic drugs are effective, that they are
safe, and that people stop taking them for inappropriate reasons.
In an extensive review of clinical trials, McGinn
found these assumptions to be blatantly untrue.
KL gives a false sense of security about medication that endangers the
health of court-ordered patients who have little autonomy. Medication
choices are a trial-and-error process where mistakes can be fatal, and
medication monitoring requires doctor and patient to work as a team.
Just before KL passed in 1999, Gregory Lee Richardson, in Albany's jail
for a traffic-related incident, died from from negligent mis-medication
and restraint. A law to prevent such atrocities, "Gregory's Law," did
not move forward however.
for relevant position papers, reports, press releases and articles.
March 13, 2005 - News
of the Week
NEW YORK LEGISLATORS CALL FOR CAREFUL LOOK
AT COURT-ORDERED TREATMENT LAW
PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 24
New York's five-year experiment with court-ordered psychiatric
medication for outpatients (Kendra's Law) is due to expire on June
30th. Last week, Governor George E. Pataki announced legislation to
make the law permanent. Quick opposition came from mental health
advocates who urge modification and continued legislative oversight of
Assemblymen Peter M. Rivera (Mental Health Committee) and Joseph R.
Lentol (Codes Committee) have scheduled a statewide hearing in
Manhattan on Thursday, March 24, 2005, in the Assembly Hearing Room,
250 Broadway, Room 1923, 19th Floor. Details are below.
More information - Click for item:
1) News release (Assemblyman Rivera)
2) Notice of public hearing,
3) Article by Michael Winerip,
NY Times, 12/26/1999
4) Gov. Pataki's Press Release,
March 7, 2005.
(Item 1) March 9, 2005 News
Release: Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera calls Governor's proposal a
rush to approve a law that needs more public input and definite
Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera, chair of the New York State Assembly
Standing Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and
Developmental Disabilities, is releasing the following statement with
regards to Governor Pataki's proposed legislation to make Kendra's Law
"Once again, Governor Pataki has not done his
homework when it comes to issues of mental health. He has now rushed to
introduce legislation that will make Kendra's Law permanent without
bothering to gather public input on this issue. If he had, the Governor
would have realized that there are serious problems that need to be
addressed if Kendra's law is to be extended," stated Rivera.
He added, "We have individuals languishing in hospitals, at a
tremendous expense to taxpayers, because a court order to find them
appropriate housing can not be met by local mental health agencies. The
system does not have adequate capacity to address the problems of the
mentally ill in New York."
"Our mental hygiene system is fragmented, does not adequately address
the needs of its target population and is tremendously inefficient.
These problems are evident by examining the data we collected on this
issue," Rivera declared. "We have counties that have not sought a
Kendra's Law proceeding but have managed to provide the needed
treatment. On the other hand, the vast majority of court orders are
being sought in a geographic location that entails Westchester County
out to Suffolk County. What does this say about the selective use of a
law that many mental health advocates have called coercive?"
Rivera continued, "Representatives of the court-supervised Mental
Health Legal Services have called the present system a huge waste of
money that drains time from the court system due to the lack of
services that are absent from many communities."
Contact: Guillermo A. Martinex 518-455-5102
(Item 2) NOTICE OF PUBLIC
HEARING to be held on March 24, 2005
Announcement: NYS Assembly NYC Kendra's Law
Issued by: Assembly Standing Committee on Mental
Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities,
Assembly Standing Committee on Codes
Subject: New York State's Assisted
Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program
Purpose: To evaluate the implementation,
status and efficacy of the State's AOT program, which is set to expire
on June 30, 200
New York City, 250 Broadway
Thursday March 24, 2005 10:30 AM
Assembly Hearing Room 1923, 19th Floor
In 1999, New York State enacted legislation that created a statutory
framework for providing court-ordered Assisted Outpatient Treatment to
persons with mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and
circumstances, may be unlikely to survive safely in the community
without appropriate services and support. In enacting this law, the
Legislature found that in order for AOT to achieve its goals,
court-ordered treatment must be linked to a system of comprehensive
care in which the State and local authorities work together to ensure
access to treatment services. The statute, commonly referred to as
Kendra's Law, is set to expire on June 30, 2005.
Since the implementation of Kendra's Law, over 10,000 individuals have
been referred to local AOT coordinators for the purpose of determining
their potential eligibility for court-ordered treatment. Court orders
have been issued across the State for more than 3,700 of such referred
individuals. It is the Committees' intention to solicit testimony from
interested parties regarding the utilization and efficacy of the state
AOT program, and the resultant impact of the program on counties across
the State. The Committees are interested in hearing from all
stakeholders, including persons under court-ordered treatment, persons
with mental illness, family members of persons with mental illness,
mental health providers, local and state government officials, court
system staff, and others involved in AOT program administration.
Please see below for a list of subjects to which
witnesses may direct their testimony.
Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committees at the
above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as
soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully
completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of
emergency postponement or cancellation.
Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes' duration. In preparing
the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate
individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special
circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form
or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible. In the absence
of a request, witnesses will be scheduled in the order in which reply
forms are postmarked.
Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing
registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of
In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested
parties and organizations of the Committees' interest in hearing
testimony from all sources.
In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the
Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the
basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all
individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities,
accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford
such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and
Peter M. Rivera, Member of Assembly
Chairman, Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and
Joseph R. Lentol, Member of Assembly
Chairman, Committee on Codes
SELECTED ISSUES TO WHICH WITNESSES MAY DIRECT THEIR
Has the AOT program been successful in providing
appropriate supervision and treatment that assists certain persons with
Have treatment plans been appropriately matched to
the needs of individuals? Have needed services been available for those
under AOT court orders, and what occurs when services are not
Why is Kendra's Law used more frequently in some
areas of the State than in others?
What has been the experience of those who have sought
petitions for court orders for AOT? Have local AOT coordinators
followed through with investigations in a timely way once an individual
is referred to them?
What impact has the AOT program had on
Although a substantial portion of investigations have
led to court orders, twenty-eight percent of investigations have led to
service enhancements rather than court orders. In general, are the
service enhancements provided to these individuals appropriate and
effective in meeting treatment needs?
What has been the experience of individuals under an
AOT court order who have moved from one New York county to another?
Have these relocated individuals been connected to services in their
new county of residence?
What has been the rate of utilization and impact of
the Medication Grant Program established pursuant to Kendra's Law? Is
the program effective in meeting the medication needs of certain
individuals with serious and persistent mental illness pending a
Medicaid eligibility determination?
How could the Medication Grant Program be improved?
What changes to Kendra's Law, if any, should the
Legislature consider that would improve the lives of individuals with
mental illness and their families?
PUBLIC HEARING REPLY FORM
Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing on New York
State's AOT program are requested to complete this reply form as soon
as possible and mail it to:
Assembly Committee on Mental Health,
Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
Room 522 Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4371
Fax: (518) 455-4693
___I plan to attend the following public hearing on New York States AOT
program to be conducted by the Assembly Committee on Mental Health,
Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and the Assembly
Committee on Codes on March 24, 2005.
___I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will
be limited to 10 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may
arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.
___ I will address my remarks to the following subjects:
___I do not plan to attend the above hearing.
___I would like to be added to the Committee mailing list for notices
___I would like to be removed from the Committee mailing list.
___I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility
information. Please specify the type of assistance required:
Source: NYS Assembly
(Item 3) ARTICLE (1999),
"Behind One Man's Mind"
By MICHAEL WINERIP
Source: New York Times, Week In Review Desk (http://www.nytimes.com)
Published: Sunday, December 26, 1999
Treating mental illness is not one of society's big priorities, and
public policy in the field often gets made in strange, circuitous ways.
Last June the president held the first White House conference on mental
illness; this month, Dr. David Satcher released the first surgeon
general's report on the subject.
But it is the states that are responsible for funding and treatment.
And in New York, which has the nation's largest mental health budget,
recent policy changes come courtesy not of the president nor the
surgeon general, but thanks to one violent schizophrenic man, Andrew
When the president and surgeon general discuss mental health policy,
they sound cautious. They are not looking to commit new federal money
to a problem that has been the states' burden for 150 years. The
surgeon general's key conclusions -- that one in five Americans suffer
some mental illness and that stigma is a main obstacle to seeking care
-- have been common knowledge for years.
But when Mr. Goldstein pushed Kendra Webdale to her death on the subway
tracks last January, it set loose fear and outrage among the public and
forced state politicians to take action.
Public policy ginned up in the heat of battle is often a mixed
blessing. Something gets done, though it may not have anything to do
with the crisis at hand. In the Goldstein case, some changes -- $215
million budgeted for more supervised housing, more case managers and
more beds for long-term state hospital care -- fit the facts of the
case. Other changes -- like the passage of tougher legislation to force
resistant mentally ill people to comply with treatment -- may or may
not be a good idea, but had little to do with Mr. Goldstein.
From the early news accounts of the murder it appeared that Mr.
Goldstein had repeatedly been offered mental health services, but had
refused treatment and medication. So the solution to preventing future
Andrew Goldsteins seemed to be an aggressive new commitment law --
''Kendra's Law'' -- and both the Republican governor and Democratic
attorney general quickly drafted legislation.
Then an article in The New York Times in May
examining Mr. Goldstein's psychiatric record revealed a whole new set
of facts. Mr. Goldstein had frequently and voluntarily sought long-term
and short-term hospitalization, as well as supervised housing programs,
but was repeatedly rejected because there were no vacancies in a system
short of beds, programs and money. (Bold type added by National
Whether tougher commitment laws even make a difference in getting
dangerous people off the streets is a hard public policy question that
has divided experts for years. In a mental health system with scarce
resources, to make room for an Andrew Goldstein do you wind up pushing
out into the street someone else who is equally troubled? In 1995, in
an effort to assess whether New York needed to change its laws, the
state financed a three-year pilot program at Bellevue Hospital with
tougher commitment rules aimed at the resistant mentally ill.
The results of that study, completed a month before the murder of Ms.
Webdale, were inconclusive. Recently-released documents make it clear
that the same Bellevue pilot program had two chances to get Mr.
Goldstein off the streets but let him go. By sheer coincidence, he had
visited the emergency room at Bellevue twice during the pilot program.
And even though this was the period when he was regularly attacking
strangers -- 13 in two years' -- the psychiatrists did not enroll him
in the program. Each time, after a few days at Bellevue, he was
released to live on his own, unsupervised. A tougher commitment
standard had made no difference for the real Andrew Goldstein.
In the end, the facts did not matter. Certain personal tragedies so
unnerve the public -- the death of a Megan Kanka in New Jersey, the
shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado -- that it becomes
almost impossible for politicians not to act, and in a legislative
instant new laws get made to register sex offenders, to expand gun
control, to commit more mental patients. On Aug. 27, Gov. George E.
Pataki signed Kendra's Law.
That was just the beginning. By last summer the newly disclosed facts
of the Goldstein case justified what mental health advocates had been
arguing for years: a lack of state spending was crippling the system.
To cut costs, the state had set quotas for reducing the patient
population at every public hospital in New York, making it extremely
difficult to get long-term care. Mr. Goldstein was a perfect example.
In 1992, after assaulting three staff members at a mental health crisis
program, he was hospitalized for eight months at Creedmoor state
hospital in Queens. But when he attacked 13 people in 1997 and 1998,
his psychiatrists could not get him into a state hospital for long-term
care. Instead, he was admitted to short-term hospitals, and usually
discharged within three weeks.
The low point came in June 1998 -- six months before he killed Ms.
Webdale. Mr. Goldstein was admitted to Brookdale, a short-term
hospital, after he struck a woman on a subway car. On his third day at
Brookdale, he attacked four hospital workers. Two weeks later he struck
a nurse's assistant. The Brookdale psychiatrists applied to have Mr.
Goldstein transferred for long-term care at Creedmoor. But the hospital
put him on a waiting list, a common stalling tactic used at the time.
Within days he was back on the streets.
During the fall, Mr. Goldstein's trial kept public interest high and
encouraged the news media to seek changes in state policy. In a rarity,
The Times, The Daily News and The Post agreed in editorials on the need
to put a moratorium on the reduction of state hospital beds, to finance
more community housing programs and to support Kendra's law. And
Governor Pataki listened.
For a while the shark attack effect prevailed: if a mentally ill person
committed a violent act it was perceived as part of a pattern --
another Goldstein -- and received prime news coverage.
But there are dangers when journalists instantly try to cast news
events in a public policy context. Last month, for example, New Yorkers
were riveted by accounts of the search for a mentally ill homeless man
who attacked a woman with a brick in midtown Manhattan. It seemed like
another tragic failure of the mental health system -- another
Goldstein! -- until the police arrested a career crook with a drug
habit who was neither homeless nor mentally ill.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Reprinted using FAIR USE standard
(Item 4) Governor George E.
Pataki's Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 7, 2005
GOVERNOR INTRODUCES BILL TO MAKE KENDRA'S LAW
Report Documents the Success of Individuals Receiving Assisted
Governor George E. Pataki today introduced legislation to make New
York's Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) law permanent. The measure,
known as Kendra's Law, was first enacted in 1999 and is currently
scheduled to sunset on June 30, 2005. It is named in memory of Kendra
Webdale, who tragically died after being pushed in front of a subway
train by a man with a history of mental illness and hospitalizations.
Since being enacted Kendra's Law has successfully provided specialized
services to more than 6,600 New Yorkers with mental illness.
"For the past five years, Kendra's Law has provided New Yorkers with
mental illness access to the treatment they need in an effective manner
that ensures their safety, as well as that of the public," Governor
"The vast majority of these individuals are already leading productive
and fulfilling lives in their communities, but the results are clear --
Kendra's Law works. That's why I am proposing that this extremely
successful program be made permanent."
Kendra's Law established a process for identifying individuals with
mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and
circumstances, are likely to have difficulty living safely in the
community without supervision.
A five-year evaluation of the program was released last week by the
Office of Mental Health (OMH) and has shown the program to be a
resounding success. The use of mental health services by the population
now being served by AOT has gone up by 89 percent over what was
utilized prior to the implementation of the program.
Patricia Webdale, Kendra's mother, said, "The Assisted Outpatient
Treatment program is having positive results, and I would like to
commend OMH for a job well done. On a personal note, it brought tears
to my eyes to see Kendra's name on the AOT report's cover. When we
began this journey five years ago, my husband Ralph and I were hopeful
that we could do something that would help just one person. We are very
pleased to see that this program has helped so many."
Sharon E. Carpinello, R.N., Ph.D., OMH Commissioner, said, "Thanks to
Governor Pataki's leadership, we have seen improved access to mental
health services, improved coordination of service planning, enhanced
accountability, and improved collaboration between the mental health
and court systems. But when summarizing the results of AOT, it is most
important to note the positive impact the program is having on the
people who have successfully used it. Individuals with mental illness
who participate in AOT are able to make and maintain real gains in
their recovery -- the data tells us that, and so do the recipients."
Kendra's Law has created a procedure for obtaining court orders for
certain individuals to receive outpatient treatment for mental illness.
It also ensures that local mental health systems give these individuals
priority access to case management and other services necessary to
ensure safe and successful community living.
In addition to assisted outpatient treatment, Kendra's Law also
addresses the need to ensure that mentally ill people who are moving
from hospitals or correctional facilities to the community receive
necessary psychiatric medications without interruption. Fully funded in
the Governor's Executive Budget, the law's statewide medication grant
program enables counties to provide people who are discharged from
psychiatric hospitals, state prisons or county jails with psychiatric
medication they may need while they are applying for Medicaid.
In addition, the law clarifies and authorizes the sharing of necessary
clinical information of patients with mental illness between
psychiatric hospitals as well as between psychiatric hospitals and
general hospital emergency rooms. This sharing of information helps to
provide clinicians with accurate clinical histories, resulting in
better diagnoses and treatment.
The five year report that was recently released reviews the impact and
outcomes of various elements of the AOT program from its initial
implementation in November 1999 through December 2004. During that
time, 10,078 individuals were referred for AOT assessment. Of those,
3,766 individuals received services under an AOT court order, and an
additional 2,863 received service enhancements without a court order.
AOT participants show a significantly increased participation in case
management, substance abuse, and other treatment services; increased
adherence to prescribed medication; improvements in social and family
functioning; and improvements in community living. They also
demonstrate a reduction of harmful behaviors, including reduced
incidence of hospitalization, homelessness, arrest and
The Report on the Status of Assisted Outpatient Treatment is available
on the OMH website, http://www.ohm.state.ny.us.
February 20, 2005 - News of the
"LOONEY TUNES" CHARACTERS TO BE REBORN AS
Those of us who secretly wish the name "Looney Tunes" would wind up in
the discard bin alongside "Stepin' Fetchit" are suddenly facing a much
This fall, Warner Bros. plans to launch a new Saturday morning cartoon
series called "LOONATICS." WB will "update" six favorite Looney Tunes
characters, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck,Tasmanian Devil, Lola Bunny, Road
Runner, and Wile E. Coyote by turning them into superhero action
figures with new names, mean features, and a new toughness.
It is uncertain how the public will react to the changes, some of which
are described in the articles linked below.
One thing is sure: A united mental health community will insist the
name "LOONATICS" be dropped.
(Thanks to Marcy Ashby in Florida who saw this story
on CBS News and the Wall Street Journal.)
David Janollari, President
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522
Sander Schwatz, President
15301 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
FOR MORE DETAILS:
Article: "Bugs Bunny gets
an extreme makeover," Associated Press, Feb. 17, 2005
seeks revitalized cartoon franchise with new look for Bugs Bunny and
friends," by Brook Barnes, The Wall Street Journal /
Post-Gazette.com, Feb. 20, 2005
February 13, 2005 - News
of the Week
ABOUT RECOVERY: A TALK WITH DAN FISHER,
Source: Medscape, January 20, 2005, http://www.medscape.com
Interview: Daniel B. Fisher, MD, PhD, Discusses Empowerment Model of
Recovery From Severe Mental Illness
Registration (free) needed
Medscape Editor's Note:
What is an empowerment model of recovery? How is it
useful, perhaps invaluable, in the daily practice of psychiatry? What
data support it? To get to the core of these issues, Randall White, MD,
interviewed Daniel B. Fisher,MD, PhD, Executive Director of the
National Empowerment Center in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Medscape: In your publication "Personal Assistance
in Community Existence: A Recovery Guide," you write that the recovery
model emphasizes that emotional distress is a temporary disruption in
life. Can you elaborate?
Dr. Fisher: Our description of mental illness is a
combination of severe emotional distress and an interruption of a
person's place in the community and social role -- being a worker,
parent, student, a participant in overall community life -- which is
not dissimilar from what is considered a mental disorder in DSM-IV. The
most important finding in our research is that people who have shown
significant or complete recovery from severe mental illness -- by that
I mean schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or schizoaffective disorder --
have cited hope as an extraordinarily important component in their
recovery. Part of the recovery was being around people who saw their
condition as not permanent, a condition from which they could take
increasing control of their life and reestablish a place in society.
Medscape: You also write, "It is much more
difficult to recover once a person is labeled mentally ill." How have
you found that to be true?
Dr. Fisher: If people don't have the internal
capacity, and the severity of their distress is too overwhelming, and
they don't have the finances, the education, the social surroundings,
and family to help them, they end up with the label of mental illness.
The severity becomes greater because, in addition to having to recover
from the severe distress that interrupted their capacity, they also
have to recover from the role of being mentally ill.
The biggest example of that is Social Security; another is the loss of
rights and the trauma that often occur in being hospitalized. For many
people, it's very traumatic being hospitalized.
Medscape: Can you talk some more about Social
Dr. Fisher: If you don't have the resources, or if
the duration of distress lasts too great a time, a person needs to be
on Social Security. I've been on the psychiatrist's side of that and I
know that, unless someone is able to get a job that pays up to $16 per
hour and has full benefits, it's very hard to duplicate the benefits.
I've worked with legislators on the Ticket to Work legislation to try
to correct some of the shortcomings of Social Security, one of the
biggest being you're either on it or off it. Once you have been on it,
there's great fear of going off it because you might not get back on.
Medscape: Your publications make reference to the
difference in outcome of schizophrenia in less-developed societies
compared with industrialized societies. What does the research indicate?
Dr. Fisher: The evidence is from two studies by
the World Health Organization (WHO), one in 1979 and the second in
1992, comparing the recovery rate, mostly from schizophrenia, in
developing countries with the recovery rate in industrialized
countries. In 1979, WHO had about 1800 cases validated by Western
diagnostic criteria in developing counties matched with controls from
industrialized countries, and they found that the recovery rate was
roughly twice as high in the developing countries compared with the
industrialized. They were so surprised by this that they said, "Well,
this must be a big mistake." So they repeated the study in 1992, and
they got the same results.
Medscape: How do you interpret this and what are
the implications for us as psychiatrists in industrialized societies?
Dr. Fisher: The implications are profound. It
shows that schizophrenia is more pronounced and prolonged in
industrialized countries. I've started to gather information from
developing countries about how they approach treatment and healing.
They have a completely opposite approach from Western countries.
They're very socially oriented, and they instinctively recognize the
importance of keeping people connected to the community. We have
ceremonies of segregation and isolation, which is really what our
labeling and our hospitalization process is. They have ceremonies of
reintegration and connection.
Medscape: Can you contrast the medical model with
your empowerment model in the approach to psychosis?
Dr. Fisher: The first contrast is that we say to
the people going through the experience that this is not a permanent
condition and that other people have recovered. We try to expose them
to people who have recovered and who can be role models. When I'm
working with people who are undergoing psychosis or long-term severe
mental illness, I share some of my own experience with them and how I
too at times heard voices and had the television talk to me.
The second part is that we help them understand that these symptoms are
expressions of distress over their lack of a connection on a deep
emotional level to the people around them, that they involve loss and
trauma and interruption in social development. We go through with them
a set of 10 principles of recovery that we have established through our
research, which is the qualitative study of people who have shown
complete recovery from severe mental illness, mostly schizophrenia.
Through this model we emphasize the reestablishment of personal
It's often peers who are the most significant guides for recovery. This
is because, if you've been through the experience yourself, you're
often able to connect with another person in a verbal and especially a
nonverbal fashion that is hard for people to do who have not been
through the same experience. That connection is vital to people's
Medscape: This reminds me of the recovery model of
Dr. Fisher: We certainly see some similarities to
the addiction field. In the addiction field, a person's first-hand
experience with addiction is valued; whereas in the mental health
field, it's only now starting to be valued. Until fairly recently it
was something you didn't talk about.
Part of the recovery is society's recovery from placing so much
discrimination and stigma on the person who's been labeled with mental
illness. It's hard to recruit peers as long as the stigma is so great;
people don't want to step back into the system.
I went through this. It was hard for me to disclose. I waited until
after my residency, but this is the major resource for the empowerment
model -- finding and training people who have shown significant
recovery, who can come back and help other people and train other
Groups are an important modality in this model because they enable
people to share their experiences and see that they're not alone. I do
a weekly recovery group at a day program, and what I try to do is put
into lay terms what's been learned over the last 50 years about what
helps people psychologically in their recovery. In psychoanalysis
they've developed a lot of understanding; Carl Rogers did some very
good work, as did Harry Stack Sullivan. So in some ways, the
empowerment model of recovery is drawing on earlier knowledge of
working with people interpersonally rather than exclusively medically.
Medscape: What is the role of medication in your
Dr. Fisher: Ideally we would like to see settings
provided -- Soteria House you may have heard of -- where people can go
when they need more intensive social supports. We expect that if there
were more of these settings, there would not be as much need for
medication. The need for medication I tend to see as a failure of the
person's world and their own internal resources to sustain emotional
equilibrium sufficiently to remain in consensual reality, and I don't
know whether it's one or another neurotransmitter, but clearly when
people are feeling very frightened or confused, it's hard for them to
be reached by another person.
During those times I do prescribe medication and say, "This is to help
you to gain control of yourself and your life. Hopefully, you won't
have to take it for a lifetime."
I think it's very important that people hear that it's to be used as a
I always point everything toward how can you learn to be with other
people, to make friends, to get a job, to go back to school, and to
perform adequate self-care. Because if you don't, and I'm afraid I see
this a lot of times the way medication is used today, people start to
believe that the medication will solve their problems, and that's a
kind of magical thinking.
And it takes away responsibility, motivation, initiative.
I think that ultimately psychiatrists need to hear
that a recovery approach is going to assist them in their practice.
We're often asked, "Doesn't an empowerment approach increase risk? If
people make their own decisions, doesn't that increase the risk
involved in practicing psychiatry?"
Medscape: You mean medicolegal risk?
Dr. Fisher: Yes, medicolegal risk, and the
position that I take in my own practice is that the recovery approach
is really a risk-reduction approach, because the biggest risk is a
rupture of communication between the person receiving services and the
person providing. Most lawsuits are the result of bad feelings and poor
communication much more than bad outcomes; furthermore, if people lose
communication with their caregiver, they're not going to say when they
are not taking medication, that they're feeling suicidal, or that
they're thinking about hurting somebody.
Medscape: You write that psychotic symptoms may
persist after recovery but "those are no longer symptoms of mental
illness." How so?
Dr. Fisher: I'll give you an example from my own
life. I've developed, for instance, ways of talking myself through
frightening periods in ways that normalize them to me. I might, at
times, if I'm driving along and see a police car, think, "I wonder if
they're following me." Then I'll just think it through -- "Why would
they be following me?"
Medscape: What you're describing is cognitive
Dr. Fisher: Yes, it is in a way, but it's actually
what I think people who are not labeled mentally ill instinctively know
how to do. We all are confronted at various times in our life with
potentially psychotic thoughts. It's just unavoidable.
If you're in a new situation and you're uncertain about things, and you
can't quite identify the people around you, you can have a
misperception. But the difference between misperception and delusion is
how you think about it.
Medscape: Would you say that this kind of
cognitive-therapy approach is a part of your model?
Dr. Fisher: It is, actually. In fact, part 2 of
our PACE [Personal Assistance through Community Existence] program is a
cognitive model. We've taken 10 of the major principles of recovery and
framed them within a cognitive-behavioral approach.
For instance, a misapprehension might initially be, "I have a permanent
condition and I'll never recover from it." Having another person around
you who can help you understand through their life that other people
have been through it and you're not alone plays a huge role in shifting
that misperception to a new understanding.
Medscape: Can you briefly describe your personal
journey to doing the work that you're doing?
Dr. Fisher: It's a very significant part of my
reason for becoming a psychiatrist -- wanting to bring to the field
what I wish had been there when I was going through my psychosis. I
very clearly remember thinking, during my second hospitalization, "If
the people who are talking to me had only been where I am right now,
they'd know the way to communicate with me so that I would feel once
again part of the world around me." I also hoped there'd be a way to be
helped short of having to be involuntarily hospitalized, which I went
through 3 times.
In my second hospitalization, I decided that I would become a
psychiatrist and try to change the way mental health is provided. I was
lucky -- I was able to find a psychiatrist who was able to provide me
with many of the principles we find have worked in recovery. He
believed in me. When I told him, several months after coming out of the
hospital the second time with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, that I
wanted to go to medical school and become a psychiatrist, he said he
would be at my medical school graduation. And about 7 years later, he
My life's work is here at the National Empowerment Center, which I
helped start 13 years ago, and that resulted in my being a member of
the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. I think I
played a significant role in getting "recovery" into the national
lexicon by my role there. I see my role as a bridge between the
consumer movement and the rest of the mental health system. Through my
credibility in both worlds, I've been able to help each world
understand the other.
Daniel B. Fisher, MD, PhD, Executive Director, National Empowerment
Center, Lawrence, Massachusetts, firstname.lastname@example.org;
psychiatrist, Riverside Community Mental Health, Wakefield,
Source: Posting of Mental Health E-News, a service of
the New York Ass'n of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS).
February 6, 2005 - News
of the Week
DO NEWS ITEMS SHOW RISING INDIFFERENCE TO
(Item 1) Thoughts on Torture as Entertainment
Is it too far-fetched to suggest a similarity between a straitjacketed
teddy bear and a rise in television torture scenes?
Torture on television entertainment shows has been escalating since
9/11, says critic Clive Thompson, who cites horrifying examples to
illustrate his point. Thompson writes, "The shows are unusually good at
capturing the dark sensuality of torture: the Cartesian horror of being
trapped in a vulnerable body, the sub-dom relationship of the torturer
and his victim. Thompson says that small-screen torture mirrors the
rise of torture as a government policy in the real world "Cruel
Intentions," New York magazine, 2/7/05).
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company insists that its straitjacketed
Valentine bear is a gift for men to give their sweethearts, an
expression of love "that will make her nuts" about them. But restraints
cause pain, are sometimes lethal, and are especially deadly to
Thompson says a new trend in torture entertainment is putting more good
guys in tormenter roles. "Most often in these shows it's the villains
being villainous, but regularly -- and more interestingly -- it's the
good guys in the tormenter's seat," he wrote. By good guys Thompson
means operatives trying to force information out of suspects. Here
again we are reminded of the straitjacketed teddy bear, where the good
guy "tormenter" is a thoughtful lover.
Thompson concludes on an optimistic note, suggesting that shocking
depictions of good-guy brutality could stimulate a serious moral debate
about real world policies.
Similarly, the straitjacketed bear controversy could inspire a closer
look at what straitjackets represent.
Intentions: TV torture scenes are ugly, powerful, exploitative -- and a
mirror of our national debate," by Clive Thompson, New York
magazine, February 7, 2005
(Item 2) ACLU Exposes Brutal Prison Conditions
Indiana Prison Conditions Lead to Suicide, Self-Mutilation (Reprinted below under Fair Use guidelines)
By Ken Kusmer Associated Press Writer, Indiana Star February
INDIANAPOLIS -- The isolation and other conditions found in one of the
state's most restrictive prison units have led four mentally ill
inmates to kill themselves and others to self-mutilation, the American
Civil Liberties Union claimed in a federal lawsuit Thursday.
Conditions within the Secured Housing Unit of western Indiana's Wabash
Valley Correctional Facility have caused prisoners to hallucinate, rip
chunks of flesh from their bodies, rub human excrement on themselves
and attempt suicide, sometimes with success, the ACLU charged.
The unit in Carlisle houses up to 288 prisoners in solitary, windowless
cells, and one-half to two-thirds of them are mentally ill, according
to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Terre Haute.
The complaint seeks a ban on the state placing mentally ill prisoners
in the unit and class action status to represent all mentally ill
prisoners assigned to the unit at the prison about 30 miles south of
Terre Haute. It does not seek monetary damages.
"Locking up prisoners with mental illness in small, windowless cells is
psychological torture," said Ken Falk, legal director of the Indiana
Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU's state affiliate. "Confinement for
lengthy periods of time in 24-hour isolation would compromise even a
healthy person's sanity."
The Indiana Department of Correction does not comment on pending
litigation, spokesman Randy Koester said.
Conditions at the unit have attracted negative attention before. Human
Rights Watch, a U.S.-based human rights monitoring organization, issued
a 1997 report condemning conditions there, saying, "In some cases the
suffering that results is so great that the treatment must be condemned
Inmates are incarcerated in cells about 7 feet by 12 feet, each with a
concrete bed and plastic mattress, a metal shelf, a fixed table and
stool, and a combination sink and toilet. Many choose to remain locked
in their cells 24 hours per day because they have no group recreation.
Books, letters, photographs and other personal items are restricted.
The Department of Correction created the Secured Housing Unit to shock
its most troublesome inmates into conforming, Falk said.
"The problem with that is, if you're mentally ill and not able to
conform your behavior, you will never leave the SHU," Falk said.
Four mentally ill inmates in the unit have committed suicide since
2000, the lawsuit alleges. One hanged himself, another set himself on
fire, a third cut his wrists and throat, and the fourth swallowed a
cloth and choked to death.
David C. Fathi, an attorney with the ACLU's National Prison Project,
said it has successfully challenged the incarceration of mentally ill
inmates in so-called "supermax," or super maximum security, units in
Wisconsin and Connecticut. The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to
consider a case from Ohio in which the ACLU and another civil rights
group challenged the denial to inmates of opportunities to prove they
did not belong in that state's supermax.
"This is one area where the courts have really spoken with one voice:
To put people with mental illness in these facilities is
unconstitutional," Fathi said in a telephone interview from Washington,
The case is the second in two weeks in which the ICLU has gone to
federal court to force the Indiana prison system to alleviate what it
considers oppressive inmate conditions.
A lawsuit filed Jan. 24 alleges the department subjected more than 400
inmates at the Pendleton Correctional Facility northeast of
Indianapolis to conditions unfit for dogs. It said inmates were held
two per cell for nearly five months during a lockdown last year in
which they could leave the 12-by-8-foot spaces for only three shower
periods a week. (Copyright, AP 2005)
Forwarded by NYAPRS
January 28, 2005 - News
of the Week
TALK HOST'S MALICIOUS COMMENT ENDANGERS LIVES
Mary Jo Codey, wife of New Jersey's Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey,
recently disclosed her experience with post-partum depression, a
condition that affects 10-15 percent of new mothers and their families.
The most severe form of the illness presents symptoms of psychosis.
On Monday, Jan. 24, New Jersey talk show host Craig Carton ridiculed
women "who claim they suffer from this post-partum depression" and
suggested that they "have a joint and relax...." (Quote is from AP
Station policy at NJ101.5 presumably permits and even encourages Carton
to show his contempt for women, people with mental health needs, and
the acting governor. But Carton has given potentially lethal advice to
depressed new mothers. Is this allowed at NJ 101.5?
Since the 1980's, marijuana has been shown to cause psychosis in
susceptible individuals. A report issued last week again cites evidence
connecting marijuana use with rising rates of depression, psychosis,
Caton's remark endangers lives and warrants, at the very least,
censure, an apology, and a retraction by the NJ101.5 station manager,
Contact New Jersey radio station NJ101.5 : http://www.nj1015.com/contact.htm
CLICK ON REFERENCES:
Please note: links may be time-limited
link marijuana to mental illness," by Big News Network.com, Tues. Jan.
N.J. gov threatens to 'take out' talk-show host," by Associated Press,
Wed. Jan 26, 2005. (NSC is trying to fix)
Jo Codey, the First Lady of NJ, brings attention to postpartum
depression," Virtual Health, Feb. 17, 2004.
confrontation with radio host benefiting both," by Jeff Linkous,
Newsday News.com, Jan. 27, 2005.
January 21, 2005 - News
of the Week
STRAITJACKETS HAVE HISTORY OF ABUSE AND DEATH
HERE for an excellent recap, commentary, correspondence, and
links to press coverage of the VERMONT TEDDY BEAR story, by Morgan W.
Brown, a mental health advocate in Vermont.
We've been unable to find current information about the use of
straitjackets. For the first time, Google failed us: most of their
links sent us to S&M sites.
Nevertheless, the National Stigma Clearinghouse files show decades of
abuse and public indifference, an indifference now demonstrated by the
Vermont Teddy Bear Company (scroll down for contact information).
In 1991, Newsday (Long Island, NY) exposed a shocking record of
death by restraint in New York. Their investigation, described in a
series of articles by Kathleen Kerr, was followed by a 2-year
investigation by the state's office of mental health. In 1994, new
guidelines for use of restraints were issued "amid growing pressure
from advocacy groups made up of former patients." (Quote from NY
In 1998, Eric M. Weiss of the Hartford Courant reported that
between 50 and 150 deaths by restraint occur every year across the
country. Weiss was referring to an unprecedented study of restraint
statistics commissioned by the Hartford Courant and conducted
by a research specialist at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.
The study's findings brought calls for nationwide reform in 1998 led by
the congressional delegation from Connecticut. At that time, the
article reported, "The federal government does not collect data on how
many patients are killed by a procedure that is used every day in
psychiatric and mental retardation facillities across the country.
Neither do state regulators, academics, or accreditation agencies."
The researchers found that in the 114 cases where ages could be
confirmed, children accounted for more than 26 percent of the deaths.
Did the federal government ever act? If you know, please let us know.
Article: "Mental Patients' Deaths Probed," by Eric M. Weiss Hartford
Courant, October 11, 1998.
Article: "Proposal Urges an End to Straitjacket Use," by Lisa W.
Foderaro, New York Times, July 27, 1994.
Series of articles: "Death By Restraint," by Kathleen Kerr, New
York Newsday, December 15, 16, 17, 1991.
Elizabeth Robert, CEO
Vermont Teddy Bear Company
6655 Shelburne Road
Shelburne, VT 05482
Toll-free comment line:
Tel: 1-888-502-1715 (for bear comments)
Other contact info:
Fax: 1-802-985-1304 (administrative)
Fax: 1-802-985-1382 (customer service)
(Nicole L'Huillier, Public Relations Manager)
January 16 - News
of the Week
WHAT'S ENDEARING ABOUT A STRAITJACKET?
Mental Health Advocates Not Amused by Straitjacketed Teddy Bear
HERE for an excellent recap, commentary, and links to press
coverage of the VERMONT TEDDY BEAR story, by Morgan Brown, a mental
health advocate in Vermont.
Why do straitjackets, a symbol of force and humiliation, appeal to
advertisers and product marketers? We can't answer that question, but
the National Stigma Clearinghouse archive shows straitjackets have been
used as a marketing tool for many years.
This week, a coalition of mental health advocates in Vermont confronted
the Vermont Teddy Bear Company of Shelburne with strong
objections to the company's new "Crazy for You Bear."
Designed as a Valentine's Day gift, the nationally-sold bear has the
following description: "Dressed in a white straight jacket embroidered
with a red heart, this Bear is a great gift for someone you're crazy
about. He even comes with a "Commitment Report" stating, "Can't Eat,
Can't Sleep, My Heart's Racing. Diagnosis: "Crazy for you! Trust us!
She'll go nuts over this Bear!"
Although straitjackets are now in limited use after causing suffering
and death for decades, the lingering image is intensely painful. While
some people laugh at a straitjacket, a mere picture of one will reduce
others to tears.
What seems apparent from this episode?
1) The people who sell the bear are either unaware of, or indifferent
to the harm that can result from the commercial exploitation of an
illness or disability.
2) The marketers are unaware of, or indifferent to the possible
consequences of ridiculing a group protected by Human Rights Law.
3) Straitjackets reinforce the public's existing misconceptions about
the dangerousness of people with mental illnesses. From an antistigma
point of view, the bear promotes inaccurate information.
4) Unlike other powerful symbols of oppression (a lynching noose for
example), the general public accepts the use of straitjackets to market
The "Crazy for You" bear is sold nationally on the
company's website, VermontTeddyBear.com.
For details and links concerning the "Crazy For You
CLICK HERE . Morgan Brown, a key Vermont advocate, has posted
an excellent recap with links to relevant materials on his website.
Please note that press coverage links may be limited to one
week after the article's publication date.
Further information is available on the Internet. Enter a search for
Vermont Teddy Bear Company.
We urge advocates nationwide to send their comments
to the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.
Elizabeth Robert, President
Vermont Teddy Bear Company
6655 Shelburne Road
Shelburne, VT 05482
Toll-free Bear comments:
(Nicole L'Huillier, Public Relations Manager)
January 9, 2005 - News
of the Week
NBC-TV LAUNCHES "COMMITTED"
It is too soon to praise or pan "Committed," NBC's new comedy series
that favors characters with vulnerabilities and disabilities.
Advance publicity raised our concerns about whether the show's
"screwball" "nutty" soulmates might be just another excuse to ridicule
So it is reassuring that one TV critic (Philadelphia Inquirer) has
decribed the show as "a warmhearted surprise about an adorably
mismatched couple bound by that rarest of TV commodities, love." Other
reviewers were less enthusiastic.
The mismatched couple are Marnie, an effervescent, pretty,
free-spirited eccentric; and Nate, a brilliant, good-hearted
mathematician who struggles with obsessive fears and phobias. An array
of supporting characters in the first two episodes have disabilities
and eccentricities of various kinds. You're not mistaken if this lineup
sounds a bit like "Seinfeld," "The Drew Carey Show" and the like.
A good sign: "Committed's" writers may have an aversion to mental
illness stereotypes. The first two episodes broke every existing mold
for TV portrayals of mental illnesses by giving the characters warmth,
intelligence, friends, affectionate relationships, good looks, and
senses of humor. The few slurs I heard were friendly jibes between
soulmates, not putdowns from outsiders.
What's in store for this series? From an antistigma point of view, the
groundwork is laid for a much more human view of mental illnesses than
we usually see. Once the audience likes the characters, the show's
options for plot development present exciting possibilities.
If you're a TV watcher: Please try "Committed" and let us know what you
think. E-mail email@example.com.
(Caution: if you're over 40, the frenetic pace and overdone laugh track
may become wearing.)
Check local listings
January 6, 2005 - BREAKING
NEWS: ANDREA YATES VERDICT OVERTURNED (Thursday 1/6)
**Also See NYTimes article (scroll down) or
Click Here, subscription (free) needed
MSNBC News and News Services
Court overturns Andrea Yates'
conviction for drowning children
Defense said prosecution witness presented false testimony during March
BY NBC's Pete Williams and news wires
HOUSTON - An appeals court on Thursday overturned the capital murder
convictions of Andrea Yates, ruling that a prosecution witness gave
false testimony that may have influenced the jury that convicted her in
the drowning deaths of three of her five children.
In appealing her conviction before a three-judge panel of the 1st Court
of Appeals, Yates' attorneys argued that a prosecution witness,
psychiatrist Park Deitz, presented false testimony during her March
2002 trial when he said he had consulted on an episode of the NBC
television show "Law and Order" in which a woman drowned her children
and later was acquitted by reason of insanity. (MSNBC is a joint
venture of NBC and Microsoft)
Prosecutors used the testimony to suggest that Yates, who sometimes
watched the program, had seen the show and used the plot to plan the
murders of her kids by drowning them in the tub of the family's home.
Jurors learned after Yates was convicted that the episode never
"We conclude that there is a reasonable likelihood that Dr. Dietz's
false testimony could have affected the judgment of the jury," the
court ruled on Thursday. "We further conclude that Dr. Dietz's false
testimony affected the substantial rights of appellant."
Yates attorney Troy McKinney argued on Tuesday that Dietz's testimony
was "dynamite," according to the Houston Chronicle.
"It's what turned this case around. It was such a bombshell. Clearly,
the jury needed to know that what Dr. Dietz said was false," the
newspaper quoted McKinney as saying.
The defense argued during Yates's trial that the 40-year-old woman, who
was under psychiatric care for post-partum depression at the time of
the killings, was insane at the time she committed the crimes.
Jurors in 2002 sentenced Yates to life in prison in the 2001 deaths of
three of her children. She was not tried in the deaths of the other two.
here for Appeals Court ruling
End of MSNBC report
A note from Jean Arnold, Anti-Stigma Home Page:
Andrea Yates was facing a likely death penalty when sheer happenstance
brought Dr. Deitz's false testimony to the court's attention. To learn
who blew the whistle and triggered Yates' last-minute reprieve in 2002,
for 5 source articles concerning Andrea Yates case.
NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE January 7, 2005
New Trial for a Mother Who Drowned 5 Children
By ADAM LIPTAK
Andrea Yates, the Texas woman convicted of drowning her children in a
bathtub, was granted a new trial by an appeals court in Houston
yesterday. The court ruled that a prosecution expert's false testimony
about the television program "Law & Order" required a retrial.
Ms. Yates, who had received diagnoses of postpartum depression and
psychosis, confessed to the police in 2001 that she had drowned her
five children, ages 6 months to 7 years. A Houston jury convicted her
of murder the next year for three of the drownings, rejecting her
insanity defense. The case ignited a national debate about mental
illness, postpartum depression and the legal definition of insanity.
Yesterday's ruling was narrow and novel. It turned on testimony by Dr.
Park Dietz, a psychiatrist who was the prosecution's sole mental health
expert. Dr. Dietz testified that Ms. Yates was psychotic at the time of
the murders but knew right from wrong. The latter conclusion meant that
she was not insane under Texas' unusually narrow definition of legal
On cross-examination, Dr. Dietz was asked about his work as a
consultant on "Law & Order," a program Ms. Yates, the appeals court
said, "was known to watch." He was asked whether any of the episodes he
had worked on concerned "postpartum depression or women's mental
"As a matter of fact," he answered, "there was a show of a woman with
postpartum depression who drowned her children in the bathtub and was
found insane, and it was aired shortly before the crime occurred."
That statement was false: There was no such episode. The falsehood was
discovered after the jury convicted Ms. Yates.
Dr. Dietz, who did not respond to several messages seeking comment
yesterday, said at the time that his testimony had been based on a
The trial court denied a defense request for a mistrial, but the jury
was told about the false testimony during the sentencing hearing. The
jury rejected the death penalty and sentenced Ms. Yates to life in
Yesterday, the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas ruled
that the motion for a mistrial should have been granted.
"The state used Dr. Dietz's false testimony to suggest to the jury that
appellant patterned her actions after that 'Law & Order' episode,"
the decision said. "We conclude that there is a reasonable likelihood
that Dr. Dietz's false testimony could have affected the judgment of
Dr. Dietz did not explain the supposed significance of the "Law &
Order" episode at the trial. But prosecutors returned to the subject in
a separate cross-examination and in closing arguments, suggesting that
she had copied the program in a way that implied lucid planning and
Dr. Lucy Puryear, a psychiatric expert for the defense, was questioned
about the nonexistent episode. In an interview yesterday, Dr. Puryear
said the questions to her conveyed a powerful impression to jurors.
"Had she seen that show and gotten ideas from it," she said, "it would
say that she had the ability to think in an abstract way and come up
with a plan. That would mean she could tell the difference between
right and wrong."
The appeals court said that there was no evidence that prosecutors had
knowingly offered or discussed false testimony.
Joseph Owmby, one of the prosecutors, said his office would ask the
three-judge panel to reconsider. If that fails, he said, prosecutors
will ask the entire appeals court and then the state's highest court
for criminal matters, its Court of Criminal Appeals, to reverse the
"It wasn't material," Mr. Owmby said, meaning that Dr. Dietz's
testimony about "Law & Order" was not a significant factor in the
jury's decisions. "It didn't affect her fair and just trial rights at
the trial level."
He said no decision had been made about whether to retry Ms. Yates
should the appeals fail.
At a televised news conference yesterday, George Parnham, one of Ms.
Yates's lawyers, said she was not seeking an immediate release from
prison. Ms. Yates "was surprised and not unpleased" by the decision,
Mr. Parnham said. "She understands what's happening."
Deborah W. Denno, a law professor at Fordham University who has studied
and written extensively about the Yates case, was critical of other
aspects of Dr. Dietz's testimony, too. He testified, for instance, that
Ms. Yates's delusions that her thoughts were coming from Satan
indicated that she must have known they were wrong.
"He interpreted everything she did as evidence of premeditation and
intention," Professor Denno said. "He is a hired gun in the worst
In an interview with The New York Times a month after Ms. Yates was
convicted, Dr. Dietz said he had found the case troubling.
"It would have been the easier course of action," he said of his own
testimony, "to distort the law a little, ignore the evidence a little
and pretend that she didn't know what she did was wrong."
Edward Wyatt contributed reporting for this article.
End of New York Times article
A note from Jean Arnold, Anti-Stigma Home Page:
Andrea Yates was facing a likely death penalty when sheer happenstance
brought Dr. Deitz's false testimony to the court's attention. To learn
who blew the whistle and triggered Yates' last-minute reprieve in 2002,
for 5 source articles concerning the Andrea Yates case.
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