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 Published by the Churches of Scientology in California

Special Election 2004 Statewide Edition
 
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Freedom Magazine, published by the Church of Scientology


“I Want a Life”


“THE WORST OF THE PLACES I HAD BEEN TO,” said Jane of Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California, one of the four state psychiatric institutions currently under U.S. Department of Justice investigation for violations of federal law.

Jane’s new probation officer grew concerned about how things were going at Metro. One of the side effects of her medication was a dangerously high cholesterol level. At 16, she had an elevated cholesterol count. For a time, she was on a broth diet because the medications normally used to lower cholesterol could not be given in combination with the psychiatric drugs she was on.

Her probation officer succeeded in having her moved from Metro to a group home. She never wanted to go back to a mental hospital, but knew from experience that it would always be a very real and ever-present danger. Escape from the control of psychiatrists seemed her only solution. But, after years of drugging in the name of “mental health,” she was plagued by physical problems, including a persistent and aggravating yeast infection. She decided to obtain medical treatment to handle it first.

She would wait “nearly six months to be taken to the ER, but as soon as I got that medicine, I knew it would get better in hours.” One day later, she saw her chance to walk away from institutional life and took it. “I was pretty much homeless, but I never had to sleep in the streets. It was hard to get a job because of my age. I had to have some help so I was calling every number in my address book. I went back to my stepmother for a while.”

Survival, so dependent on charity from friends with couches to crash on, was not easy. But it was better than the risk of being locked up in Metro again.

She eventually felt it was safe enough to sign up for an English class for adults. She was confident the school would not do a background check, and she was right. Her adoptive mother betrayed her by taking her to Juvenile Hall. “I was still a runaway and there was a bench warrant out on me. Three days later, they released me on probation. It was like a miracle.”

At school, she met a teacher — we’ll call her ‘Kate’— who took Jane into her home. Most would view this as a daring gesture from a real-life Good Samaritan. With a roof over Jane’s head, proper nutrition, and real medical help, she slowly began to recover her health, broken by the years of psychiatric institutionalization.

Gathering together the pieces of her life is still a work in progress, but with Kate’s continuing assistance, hope blooms for Jane. As Jane tells it: “You get lucky. I got out. I had to run away to get out, but, if you’re in and anything happens — a bad day, whatever — then three more months get added on. You stay in and you’ll end up a good vegetable. You’ll get to go to assisted care living. I consider myself to be very, very lucky. I got out just before I was 17. Just getting away from the psychs and their drugs doesn’t solve everything overnight, but it’s the first step. I lost five years of my youth to the system. I want a life.”

A Fatal Proposition

Jane’s is a story that, while chilling in and of itself, serves but as a prelude to a far more frightening prospect. This cautionary tale illustrates the nature and quality of psychiatric treatment that any citizen could reasonably expect to endure if mandatory “mental health” screenings become part of a culture’s sociopolitical apparatus.

If Proposition 63 were to become law, it would create a commission of 17 people empowered to implement any early intervention program they choose. (See “Prop 63: Destroying Our Children’s Future.”) Currently, the Mental Health Department has a budget of 2.5 billion annually; Prop 63 may nearly double that. Twelve of those seventeen commissioners would be appointed — not elected — mental health insiders.

Today Jane, if institutionalized in Metro or another psychiatric hospital, would cost the taxpayer between $125,000 to $150,000 per year. For a group home environment, the cost is less — $50,000 to $75,000 annually. Once she entered the system, Jane’s schooling would run the state $150 a day; however, the education she would get is whatever might penetrate the mental fog of heavy psychotropic drugging — a microscopic amount of learning, at best.

What criteria would be used to label, treat, drug or incarcerate children like Jane in psychiatric facilities? The commission may select a program with universal screenings starting not at the first presumption of trouble as in Jane’s case, but at birth. As part of a child’s school entry, a mental health evaluation could be required. The two proposed screening questions addressed to a student in middle or high school ask if he or she has been having any trouble with homework and if he or she has felt sad for a long time. On this basis, prescriptions will be written and intervention will begin. Counties wishing to begin enforced outpatient drugging may do so by linking laws already on the books to the mandated screenings.

Once a child is labeled “mentally ill” or “in need of treatment or intervention,” what freedom do parents or children have to disagree with psychiatric opinion or to reject their “treatment”? As Jane’s story illustrates in nightmarish detail, minors have no right to choose. Parents may try to refuse drugs or intervention; however, the mental health establishment can threaten to take their children away and charge the parents with “medical neglect.”

This accusation of neglect is already provided for in law. If such a charge is made, those parents risk losing not only the one child targeted for “early intervention” but all their children. Those seized and removed from their families will go directly into the system.

It is already far too easy for the mental health and social services establishment to rip families apart or take a minor into custody. As of this writing, a case in Sacramento involves the separation of a three-year-old from the mother, transportation of the child to a different county, and medication with five different psychiatric drugs over the objections of the mother, a single working parent. The initial phone report to Social Services complained that the mother relied too heavily on babysitting from other family members.

Benevolence or Blood Money?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


“You stay in and you’ll end up a good vegetable... I consider myself to be very, very lucky. I got out just before I was 17. Just getting away from the psychs and their drugs doesn’t solve everything overnight, but it’s the first step. I lost five years of my youth to the system. I want a life.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Socioeconomic status plays a role in this unnatural selection process. Statistically, single moms and racial or ethnic minorities lose far more of their children to the state than do white, middle class citizens. (See “People of Color in Psychiatry’s Cross Hairs.”) The school official, doctor, social worker and other players evidently proceed with greater belligerence against parents from these groups.

Jane herself entered foster care as a baby taken from her single mother. The foster parent industry nets heavy federal funding (over 60 percent of the costs) for taking children from their families. Had Jane remained at that echelon of the system, she would earn $360 a month as a “normal” child. If, however, she were labeled “hyperactive,” “obsessive-compulsive” or such, then her economic value to the caregiver rises to $1,500 a month.

Jane told Freedom she remembers seeing paperwork revealing that her stepmother, acting as her conservator, received “approximately $600 monthly as long as I stayed in Metro.” In her adoptive family, all five of the children were temporarily placed, at the stepmother’s request, into group homes because she claimed they were “uncontrollable.”

This happened at around age 11 or 12 for all but one of them. That one child — the sister who phoned the police — was a little older when she did her time in a group home.

The financial arrangements mandated by the system prove lucrative for foster parents, group homes and psychiatric hospitals as the fees detailed above demonstrate. Jane spent nearly five years of her youth imprisoned in the latter two. These incentives motivate mental health practitioners to keep patients locked up since there is no money to be had for releasing them. If every person in the state were scrutinized, evaluated, then labeled by the same mental health experts directing the current system, how easy it will be to funnel even more money into their own coffers. California’s families deserve a better future than serving as a cash cow for psychiatry.

—————

Each of the named institutions in this story was contacted for comment by Freedom, but as of press time, none had responded to inquiries. All four California state mental hospitals are under Department of Justice investigation for violations of federal law.

—————

JANE SURVIVED THE SYSTEM — these children didn’t. Shaina Dunkel, Matthew Smith and Raymond Perrone died of causes related to psychiatric drugs prescribed for alleged childhood disorders.


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