Should Anti Psychotic Medicine Be Legally Required? Kendra's Law

The New York Times, June 1, 2010, ran a short article about a law called Kendra's Law. It was written in response to the murder of Kendra Webale, a 32 year old woman who was pushed to her death in front of an on coming subway train. This tragedy occurred eleven years ago. The man who pushed her to her death was an unmedicated man who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Essentially, the law requires that those with paranoid schizophrenia who have shown a pattern of violence when unmedicated be medicated whether they want to or not. It also requires that they be followed closely by mental health workers.

During its first five years Kendra's Law was found to be extremely effective in reducing violence on the part of a small segment of the chronic mentally ill. Mostly, they have been violent as a result of auditory hallucinations commanding them to commit these types of acts. In addition, the law successfully reduced homelessness on the part of these individuals. As a result, the law was extended five more years and is now up for reconsideration on a permanent basis. It should be pointed out the 44 other states have similar laws enacted. Unfortunately, in those other states, there is little or no enforcement.

The controversy surrounding Kendra's and similar laws around the country is the question of whether they violate civil rights. In other words, don't all of us have the right to decide whether we want to take certain medications or not? Does the state have the right to force people to take medications? Does the government become too powerful if its empowered to force compliance with medications? Finally, how is it to be determined who among the mentally ill should be required to take medication and who should be exempt?

Those who favor the enactment of this type of legislation insist that some of those who are mentally ill lack the capacity to make a sound and informed decision about medication. The reason for this lack of capacity is that they are too sick to fully understand their needs. Consequently, they end up either in mental hospitals from which they are released when they are medicated and back to some type of functioning. The next step is non compliance with medication, homelessness or prison.

Of course, one of the questions that we must ask is, even if people with paranoid schizophrenia are not able to make a logical decision when in the throes of a full psychosis, should not their rights be protected as much as anyone else's? First, we are really discussing a tiny percent of a tiny percent of people who fall into the category of the violent or criminally mentally ill. Should we risk our civil rights by endorsing legislation that gives the government the power to medicate people against their will?

So often it seems as though it would be much easier to go the way of dictatorship in solving our problems. That is an illusion and one that is very dangerous. In my opinion, it is wrong to force people to take medications if they are opposed to it.

What is your opinion about Kendra's and similar laws? What is your experience with mental illness in your family or yourself?

Your opinions are strongly encouraged on this important issue.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

Comments
  • DJ

    There are two reasons society may properly regulate civil liberties: to protect society or protect the individual. An example of the former is regulating the 'liberty' to build a home that fails to meet building codes or shooting a neighbor. An example of the later is the use of guardians for orphans. Kendra's Law has been proven to protect the individual and society. It has withstood constitutional scrutiny in every court that has heard a case.

  • Anonymous-1

    WWW.CCHR.ORG and WWW.BREGGIN.COM

    Dr. Dombeck's Note: Anyone interested in the works of Peter Breggin, MD should consider listening to our Wise Counsel Interview with Dr. Breggin.

  • Cathy

    Short answer is "no". If, the majority or even a significant portion was being commited by people with mental illness, I might feel differently. I have read of severe side effects of many of these medications and I feel the people should have a choice and I am more than tired of the government mettling in my life. For years, they wanted my child with special needs medicated into submission and I fought it and still am fighting it and, truthfully, it is more than possible that in addition to his mental retardation that he has mental illness as mentioned but we will manage it otherwise because I don't want to take away who he is - I don't think anyone should be required to medicate themselves away. I don't actually understand a lot about it. I think that monitoring by mental health services could possibly be made very available but still, required, I don't know - most of the people commiting murder aren't mentally ill but just selfish, evil people who eliminate others for fun or profit!

  • P.A.M.

    Yes. This law is so important to society. There is much more to it than mandating medicine. The qualification requirements are extremely specific. It is not something that is passed out on a whim. I strongly suggest those that don't understand the law other than "mandating medicine" to read up on it a little bit, for it provides valuable services such as keeping tabs on people who have been released from prison that received mental health services. Too often they are overlooked and then we wonder "how did they slip through the cracks?"

    We have heard of peoples concerns but I haven't heard of people who have had a negative experience as a result of this law. The statistics show it's successful, the research is extensive. However, this is a situation that until you have experienced a need for this law personally, you are not going to find it important. And bless those who have not had to deal with tragedy and may they never have to.

    I, on the other hand, can not say the same. I have experienced tragedy SEVERAL times, that may have been prevented if this law was available.

    There was a point in my life where I may have agreed that this may not be the solution, just because I had no reason to think differently... but don't jump on a bandwagon until you have seen both sides and not before you have to experience both sides.

  • Luna-

    With reference to the website of the CCHR, mentioned above: The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a front organisation for Scientology.

    Just so you're aware when you read it.

    Dr. Dombeck's Note: ... and Scientology is notorious for its irrational hostility against psychiatry in any form.

  • Gary

    The rights of individuals are not superor to the rights of a society to regulate behavior (or attempt to do so), when the community or society is at risk. Dangerous psychotic persons are a clear risk - and the danger in clear and present when there is any types of history of violence or violent thought. Society and community are within their rights to medicate these individuals the sme way to castate or medicate sex offenders following incarceration.

  • Cathy

    Compare the number of people killed by someone with mental illness who goes off the deep end compared to the number of people killed by drunk drivers. So, a drunk driver should never be allowed to drink again? Should he be required to take a drug that will keep him from drinking - they have something that is supposed to work - let's require a law that says that he/she takes that the rest of their life to keep us safe? Think those with alcohol addiction are better able to handle themselves than someone with mental illness - I would say think again on that one too.

  • Linda

    I think Cathy brings up a good point. If they are going to force me to take my medication for my mental illness then everyone who has ever been stopped for DWI should be forced to take medication to stop drinking.

    Yes society is at a much greater risk with the people who drink and drive and are a much greater danger to society then I am to myself or others.

  • Kathleen

    In Illinois, people who live with mental illness are protected by law against being forced to engage in ANY form of treatment against their will, including medications. However the CLINICIAN is required to inform the patient of the potential consequenses of their decision. If an agency or clinic fails to properly follow up on the patient, or monitor medications(This is EXTREMELY common) it is not the fault of an already sick patient. And mentally ill persons are ALSO a part of "Society". Facts indicate that far more Mental Health patients are victims of SERIOUS abuse by practioners, law enforcement persons, landlords, et al. I even know of some deaths occuring from OVERMEDICATING patients in order to "subdue" them. Perhaps a few crimes could be prevented by enacting this discriminating and abusive law, but if you are trying to sell this "THE GOOD OF THE MANY OUTWEIGHING THE RIGHTS OF THE FEW " I suggest you check your facts. Pre-emptive treatments or incarceration are unconstitutional at best--cruel & unusual punishment at it's worse. Some of the commenters sound like they would rather abuse thousands(millions?) of people(Or perhaps they think mental patients are subhuman?) in order to protect a few. All murder and violence are wrong and punishable, but this is America where ALL people are considered innocent until proven guilty, no matter how aweful the crime. Remember, ANYONE can develop Mental illness, even YOU! Thank you for listening(?)

  • P.A.M.

    The response to drinking and driving involves things such as: being arrested, mandated "drug court," counseling, license suspension, fines, records etc. And this keeps us safe.

    The response to those with a mental health diagnosis who are dangerous to themselves or others involves: "Housing, medication, compassionate and skilled therapists, social workers and counselors, psychiatry, loving and involved families, friends and loved ones, case managers, job coaches, consumer advocates." (Johnson, 2010) A.K.A.- "Kendra's Law"

    DWI isn't the best comparison/example. I don't see how everyone who chooses to drink and drive is the same as someone who may:

    "* be unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision, based on a clinical determination and
    * have a history of non-compliance with treatment that has:
    1. been a significant factor in his or her being in a hospital, prison or jail at least twice within the last thirty-six months or

    2. resulted in one or more acts, attempts or threats of serious violent behavior toward self or others within the last forty-eight months"

    www.kendraslaw.org

    This law is not for EVERY ONE who has a mental health issue. It is only for a selected few. I think people are missing that this goes beyond just having a mental health diagnosis.

    The law also holds the government responsible to provide treatment. The man who pushed Kendra had admitted himself into treatment. If kendra's law isn't going to help- then what is?

  • Anonymous-2

    The current situation with violent mental patients (and many mental patients in general) involves medication that cannot be afforded and care which is too often not provided. Whether medication is legally mandated, these patients will inevitably end up with inadequate therapeudic strategies applied to their lives.

    That said, forcing patients to take medication is not an effective strategy to improve their mental state or life situation. Often, the medications available to an individual who cannot hold a job, and therefore pay for the drugs, cause their brains to enter a state of non-function. Literally, their functioning is limited to sleeping almost all the day.

    If the government seeks to mandate medication for certain people, it should be prepared to pay for their treatment. This includes the health worker stipulated in Kendra's Law, intended to follow the patient's progress. (Where it is often the case that mental health patients without violent tendencies lack the therapy they need, it is unlikely that those who do have violent tendencies can get the help they so deeply need)

    Until adequate treatment and therapy is available for individuals who are in need, it is unethical to mandate treatment, with the intention of providing partial treatment.

  • P.A.M.

    Yes- If I was ever this sick and needed this law to protect my life, the lives of my loved ones or anyone else- I would absolutely want someone to be able to step in and give me the proper help.

    If I was that sick that my life or the lives of others were at risk...then please help me- don't brush me under the carpet until it's too late or I end up in prison, still untreated, dead or anything else unimaginable.

    Yes-I love my civil rights...and I want one of them to be able to get help for those in need, especially if that means for myself.

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    Just for clarification and information,

    Most of those with acute and chronic mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia are supporte by Medicare, Medicaid and Disability. Therefore, the costs of medication and therapy are fully covered. This includes the times when hospitalization is necessary.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • Kathleen

    You don't think that drunk drivers are mentally ill(Even our President acknowedges this!) Persons who present more of a danger to themselves and society than all of the unmedicated schizophrenics (?) in the country? And, yes, if they cause serious harm, they should have either have their driving or drinking priveleges revoked. Especially repeat offenders.

    But it seems that we are looking at this backwards if the states would make a real effort to enforce the laws, rules, and codes of ethics they already have regarding employees in the mental health field, people who are being PAID to protect the patient and society, and that takes appropiate medication monitering, some diagnoses perhaps more than others(?) Why try to get people who are already unstable to "OBEY" med instructions--when you are already paying alledged professionals to PREVENT these situations.

    And finally, as an American I also believe in the inalliable rights of life, LIBERTY(???), and the pursuit of Happiness. This is not Liberty. My father and Grandmother escaped from Nazi Germany in 1937, and I will always take the side of freedom: mine, yours, criminals, and the mentally ill person's--because when we surrender their rights we surrender our own as well. When we despise their human dignity--we murder our own. And when the government can control what you must take into your own body, you are not free. thank you for listening. P S It's great to hear that even 1 state is actually providing real help to the most needy ones in our society Thank you.

  • Stan

    http://bipolar-stanscroniclesandnarritive.blogspot.com/2010/06/kendras-law-letter-to-ny-times-editor.html

    I am responding to an Op-Ed article written by E. Fuller Torrey of TAC published on May 28, 2010

    I would like to reply here refuting Torrey's erroneous claims and scare tactics presented by his TAC organization, which they are using in supporting Kendra's Law, and other similar oppressive and poorly constructed laws throughout America.

    Some would seriously question who this law could target, and how effective the forced treatment paradigm really is in protecting the public and those labeled mentally unstable. A more intrusive government and further reaching laws have seldom produced in actual real world results the lofty achievements they to often loudly proclaim. In reading this bill I see a lot of bureaucracy, some disturbing overreaching details, and not much comment sense.

    We are a nation of laws. Yet, forcing drug treatment, and to use obligatory

    compliance methods/threats runs completely counter productive to taking a more effective and humane therapeutic approach toward this already stigmatized, labeled, & ostracized segment of our population.

    This poorly constructed law really does open the door to lots of abuses way beyond just a few and quite rare deemed potentially dangerous mentally compromised offenders, and does very little to truly protect both the public and those suffering in emotional turmoil.

    This law was based on those rare incidences of violence under taken by those few individuals under extreme mental distress (even though in the actual “Kendra” case the perpetrator was actively seeking intervention and help on his own to no avail or success prior to becoming unraveled into a violent and psychotic state which ended with tragic consequences).

    We are fooling ourselves into a false sense of security/safety when we use the "Fuller Torrey" brand of fear mongering as a basis to validate forced treatment measures being burdened upon populations that are least able to legally represent themselves and their wishes. All these measures only secure into the law consequences before we even have any proof or the conviction of any actual crime being committed.

    If you carefully read the bill being presented for permanent status and further extending the parameters of this law, I believe you will find some disturbing conclusions and factors written in this bill that are not based in scientific/medical fact or reality. What you will find is more intrusion into the lives of those inflicted with emotional disorders. I believe you will also find in this law an overwhelming emphasis on a forced drugging modality and long term outside control/intrusion into the lives of citizens that are only guilty of the non-crime of being at one time or another in emotional crisis, and then labeled mentally unhygienic as stated in this bill's text structure.

    I will offer just two of many examples here of why we should be questioning the very foundations this bill and law are built upon.

    From psychiatrist and author Dr. Danial Carlat - Carlat Psychiatry

    "few laypeople realize how little we actually know about the underpinnings of [psychiatric] disorders....In virtually all of the psychiatric disorders--including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders--the shadow of our ignorance overwhelm the few dim lights of our knowledge."

    "Our diagnostic process is shallow and is based on an elaborate checklist of symptoms, leading us sometimes to over-diagnose patients with disorders of questionable validity, or, conversely, to miss the underlying problems in our rush to come up with a discrete diagnostic label that will be reimbursed by the insurance company. We tend to treat all psychological problems the same way--with a pill and a few words of encouragement. Because of this rote approach to treatment, patients are often misdiagnosed and medications are over prescribed. In the end, we misserve our patients, failing to offer them psychotherapies that are sometimes more effective than drugs"

    "The resulting frenzy of psychiatric diagnoses has damaged the credibility of everyone in the field."

    "We like to see ourselves as neuroscientists, rationally manipulating levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin in order to get patients better. But the fact is that we have no clear evidence that chemical imbalances are at the root of any mental disorder....we don't know if changing levels of serotonin [by prescribing Zoloft or Celexa, or any other drug] is the actual curative mechanism. Nonetheless, we give patients elaborate explanations of how the drugs work chemically. It makes us feel more scientific, and gives patients a feeling of confidence in us, but it's little more than made up neurobable."

    "The fact is that psychopharmacology is primarily trial and error, a kind of muddling through different candidate medications...." depending upon which company's sales rep or which academic "Hired Gun" recently made a pitch for one or another drug. Indeed, "when our most esteemed colleagues have essentially joined the marketing teams, it makes it that much harder for us to practice our craft responsibly."

    And from Robert Whitaker award winning journalist and author - Mad In America - Robert Whitaker Blog

    ( The NY Times should as they say "Man Up" and at least review his newest book )

    "Anatomy of an Epidemic"

    "In this astonishing and startling book, award-winning science and history writer Robert Whitaker investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripled over the past two decades? Every day, 1,100 adults and children are added to the government disability rolls because they have become newly disabled by mental illness, with this epidemic spreading most rapidly among our nation’s children. What is going on?


    Anatomy of an Epidemic challenges readers to think through that question themselves. First, Whitaker investigates what is known today about the biological causes of mental disorders. Do psychiatric medications fix “chemical imbalances” in the brain, or do they, in fact, create them? Researchers spent decades studying that question, and by the late 1980s, they had their answer. Readers will be startled—and dismayed—to discover what was reported in the scientific journals.

    Then comes the scientific query at the heart of this book: During the past fifty years, when investigators looked at how psychiatric drugs affected long-term outcomes, what did they find? Did they discover that the drugs help people stay well? Function better? Enjoy good physical health? Or did they find that these medications, for some paradoxical reason, increase the likelihood that people will become chronically ill, less able to function well, more prone to physical illness?

    This is the first book to look at the merits of psychiatric medications through the prism of long-term results. Are long-term recovery rates higher for medicated or unmedicated schizophrenia patients? Does taking an antidepressant decrease or increase the risk that a depressed person will become disabled by the disorder? Do bipolar patients fare better today than they did forty years ago, or much worse? When the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) studied the long-term outcomes of children with ADHD, did they determine that stimulants provide any benefit?

    By the end of this review of the outcomes literature, readers are certain to have a haunting question of their own: Why have the results from these long-term studies—all of which point to the same startling conclusion—been kept from the public?

    In this compelling history, Whitaker also tells the personal stories of children and adults swept up in this epidemic. Finally, he reports on innovative programs of psychiatric care in Europe and the United States that are producing good long-term outcomes. Our nation has been hit by an epidemic of disabling mental illness, and yet, as Anatomy of an Epidemic reveals, the medical blueprints for curbing that epidemic have already been drawn up."

    Whether you choose to agree or disagree with this law, we all should consider the far reaching ramifications of laws like this one, before pulling the permanent trigger on them.

    I would hope the NY Times would want to offer a balanced approach, and allow other opinions to be expressed in their op-ed editorial columns regarding this issue.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Stan

  • Kathleen

    HOLD ON, MY HEART! Does it really say "mentally unhygienic"???! That's beyond fear mongering, that's a wolf in sheep's clothing! What does Mentally unhygienic mean? WHO decides this? Take a look at all of the types of non-doctors that are allowed to diagnose mental disorders, based on information gathered by non-clinicians(employed as social workers or case managers), and at least one brief meeting OR viewing a video taped interview? Check your state's laws, but in Illinois the qualifications are very loose. Perhaps at least part of the epidemic is an epidemic of misdiagnoses. So even a person without a mental illnes, or a misdiagnosed actual mental disorder, can be abused by this law. (Once a mis-diagnosis is in a person's records, it is almost impossible to un-do.) I beilieve that this law will harm more"innocent" people than it will help-- even in the few states where this law was enforced, The real benefits came from following the laws that were ALREADY there. People realized How important it is to Monitor very sick patients, whether they are on medication or not!

    To me, KENDRA'S law actually sounds more like a hate-crime against people living with mental disorders than a law. It reminds me of the kind of blanket law that gave George Bush the power to do as he wanted to other countries as long as this poorly defined 'war' on terrorism lasts. It also reminds me of Nazi Germany--The mentally ill went first--even before the Jews, even before the war. And the legislature passed loosely written, far-reaching laws to make it all legal! I think KENDRA's law should make us all feel LESS safe, not more safe.

    But on psychotropic medications--the pill is not the bad guy. The bad guys are the healthy(?) people who are using the drugs to abuse patients (overmedicating, mis-medicating, experimenting, not making sure that the patient is fully informed about the medication,etc.) and following up. I have seen the right medications bring immense relief without them the patient could not focus on treatment. To the people who corrupt this process for money or gain----I pray that one day you will meet your conscience. Thank you for listening

  • Anonymous-3

    Hi Kathleen,

    I agree with most of the sentiment that you post in your comment. However, what I want to clarify, just for the sake of being factual, while agreeing with the notion that no one should be forced to take medication, is who the mental health professionals are.

    Among the mental health professionals there are psychiatrists, Licensed clinical psychologists and Licensed clinical social workers. All of these are licensed by the state in which they live because they have met the criteria required by their state. Among these are that they have the correct and full training necessary, are fully experienced, and that experience includes being supervised by senior people, and they have passed rigorous exams.

    It is only psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers who do the diagnosing. The diagnoses are reviewed by the psychiatrists who are in charge up and down the line.

    There is no experimenting with medications and abuse with medications or any other device is strictly prohibited. In case you think I am incorrect, I can assure you that, each year the states dismiss and remove the licenses of any professional who violates the standards and ethics of the mental health professions.

    I am pointing this out in an effort to assure you and the public that there are strict controls in place and that those controls are enforced. In fact, patient can bring their professional to a state complaint board and have the situation reviewed.

    I hope this helps.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • Tuka

    Hello everyone and thank you for reading my comment. There might be some mistakes in spelling and grammer since my first language is not english. I apologize beforehand. I have been on neuroleptics or antipsychotic drugs for about 4 years now. I had been unable to function at university for 2 years preceeding a psychotic episode. My doctors during those 2 years pushed anti psychotic medication, but I resisted, then I started a low dosage and after a few months I stopped, and had a full blown psychosis. Later I found out that neuroleptics make the brain more prone to psychosis, because they block the dopamine, and the brain becomes super sensetive to dopamine because it needs to function with very little dopamine. So when you stop taking medication and the dopamine level goes to normal, you have a psychosis. Anyways, I was put on more antipsychotic medication, and because I was horrified by the experience of psychosis, I kept on taking them. I started sleeping 20 hours a day and developing suicidal ideas. I was suicidal and in and out of mental hospital because of suicidal ideas and not because of psychosis. I thought its me and my doctor never informed me that suicidal thoughts are a side effect of medication, and I hated myself for wanting to die and being too lazy to live. After that year and a half of real nightmare, a resident doctor decreased my antipsychotic medication and I got better. I hate my doctor who did not tell me that my suicidal thoughts are a side effect of medication, it was not me, it was not even the illness. There are other ways to cure (and yes cure, not just treat) mental illness than medication. But big pharma does their homework well and does not let other ways to be researched and developed. I am still on neuroleptics, and functioning at a much lower level than I used to function. And that is with a lot of support from my family. I am researching ways to taper off medication and start living. I still sleep about 11 - 12 hours a day, and I hate my doctor sooo much I only have him call my pharmacy and fill my prescription. The first time I saw him after being put on antipsychotics I asked him if he thinks I can ever go back and work as an engineer and he said that would be a miracle. I worked with several doctors before him and I can say only one of them was respectfull. and probably that was because I only saw her with my sister present. I think psychiatrists are very low people, because they keep on seeing their patient making no progress and they don't mind it. There are reasons why some mentally ill people are not compliant with their medication. They get no respect from the person who prescribes them. And the drugs are very hard to tolerate. Yet the psychiatrists most of the time don't present any other way than drugs. At the end, I think if someone really has a big history of violance, they should be locked up in a place untill they get better. People on antipsychotic drugs develope suicidal and even homocidal thoughts very often.

  • Jenna

    Medicine are used to cure at least everyone's illness. Antipsychotic drugs were given to Kyle Warren of Opelousas, La., when he was 18 months old. This was designed to help with the outbursts he was having. When he was three, he was then identified as having autism, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, insomnia and oppositional defiant disorder, says the New York Times.

    I found this here:

    Antipsychotics for toddlers pose severe risks (http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2010/09/02/antipsychotics-for-toddlers/).

    Even his mother admitted he was “a drooling, sedated, overweight zombie” due to the treatment. Kids getting antipsychotics is something experts are now looking into because of things like this.

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    Hi Jenna,

    I also read about that case and it was horrific. The various doctors who were consulted administered these drugs to an 18 month old baby and without looking at less serious explanations for his behavior. Thankfully, by age 5 he was correctly diagnosed with ADHD, taken off all of those drugs and administered stimulants for ADHD and is doing great at home and in school.

    Actually, it can be argued whether or not he should even be on stimulants for ADHD. After all, when is enough enough. I only hope he is getting training to help him learn how to better cope with his symptoms.

    Thanks for your comment,

    Dr. Schwartz

  • Marianne

    I am a strong advocate of Kendra's Law. My daughter, who has schizoaffective disorder is on the run.She is 22 years old and very delusional.I have gone as far as petition a judge to have her committed. The state mental hospital only kept her for 20 hours because she still has medicine.She is not known to be violent, but she does hear voices that are negative. The voices often tell her to hurt herself. By the end of this week, she will be without medication. The last time that I saw her without medicine, she wanted me to die. I am just hoping that she will show up at her psychiatrists office tomorrow for her appointment.She has no money of her own.She has been under my supervision for the past five years. Most of that time, she has been compliant with medications because I watched her take them. Lately she appeared to be getting better ,and I let her take control of her medicine. She jumped out of my moving car ,and the police took her wherever she wanted to go! She is with another mental patient who burns himself. She is away from my care and drinking heavily. I am grateful for this law, since I do not know what she will do without medicine. At least I have an option as a parent. This law is my only hope of making her compliant. I would not want to know that she hurt herself or anyone else!

  • Marianne

    Only a family member in my situation could understand how hard it is to get someone you love with a mental disorder to stay on medication. My daughter did not go to the psychiatrist, so she does not have the prescriptions she needs right now. She has insurance. She is considered a disabled dependent of mine. I am glad for Obama's new law that enables her to stay on my insurance until she is 26. Right now, I do not know how I am going to get her to go to her psychiatrist. She may try to get off of all her medications. She has been on clonopin,zoloft,remeron, and lithium for five years. She has thought that people were the devil before. She has even been to the place that she does not know who she is. It is not a good thing to have no rights as a parent when you have done everything in your power to ensure that your child will lead a normal life. Laws are necessary to not only protect the rights of others, but the rights of the mentally ill. When people hear voices, they do not know who is talking to them.They may think that you are yelling at them or insulting them. They can get totally out of reality. How can a person out of reality speak for themselves???

  • Anonymous-4

    I am currently being threatened and stalked by a paranoid schizophrenic who has refused medication. Forcing medication is a slippery slope, I agree, but don't I have a right to live my life without fear? Don't my children have the right to grow up with their mother? Who has more rights in this situation? It feels like he does. Thank God I still have the right to bear arms...

  • Denise

    Im diagnosed schizoaffective disorder and for over 3 years i lived in a world of delusions, aproximately 15 suicide attmepts and completely tormented. I didnt realise my reality wasnt real (hence delusional) so I kept getting miss diagnosed. I was diagnosed with major depression at one point and bipolar at another point. If I had been forced to stay on the medications under the miss diagnosis I would have had all the wrong medications and may not be alive today. I really believed in my reailty which meant people were reading my thoughts through devices in my hair and my every move was being sold on the world wide web. And no matter where I went everyone followed. Also they knew my dreams and if i dreamed in odd number I must be thinking odd thoughts so my torment was worse the following day. I got to the point of trying to dream in even numbers by thinking 2 4 6 8 who do we appreciate over and over again so maybe my dreams would be in even numbers. so the next days torment wouldnt be as bad. Finally a break through when i started seeing transparent images I finally told the docs and I got diagnosed with schizoaffective instead of bipolar was given the wrong meds at first so it took a while then finally the right meds and after about 3 and half years all the delusions were gone. I do agree that there shoulod be laws but I also agree that diagnosis should be very carefully made. My care team (doc nurses and case manager) all say I present very well so its not always obvious. Im on my medications which cause me to sleep long periods of the day maybe close to 12 hours but better than that other reality. I am looking for work and hope it wont be long because I cant get approved for disability because the social security office says my disorder only causes me to be anxious and sad. WOW! OK! So even if laws were enforced here i would have to hope that programs like the one I am currently in continue to exist or I could be breaking laws.

  • Joe

    Medications do not cure anything. They can cause health problems (eg: weight gain and diabetes), brain damage(taken long term), and even death. Sure there is risk in not taking medications, but it goes both ways. Medications are an experimental treatment. No one knows for sure what causes mental illness. Medications make it into the market just because they do a little better than placebos in clinical trials. No one should be forced to take medications as no one should be forced to take flu shots.

  • Cat

    A very codependent friend allowed a much younger boyfriend to sit around and smoke pot all day and not earn any money. He did other drugs as well. Slowly but surely he ended up in extreme psychosis and began targeting a friend of theirs as the source of all his troubles in life. He threw rocks through her window, another time he tried to force her door open with a crowbar. She was scared out of her wits. He busted another friend's large pane windows in. Not a lot happened to him. But he refused to take his meds. They were going to get a court order, but he decided to comply. He felt better but then decided he didnt' need his meds. His codependent girlfriend would give him weed to take his meds, which seemed to worsen his condition over time. She cut him off and he went on a rageful vandalism rampage on six different properties. I was even getting phone calls from him and somehow my car light got mysteriously kicked out two days before he was arrested finally. He is in serious trouble now, but because he refuses to acknowledge his illness and stay on his meds and get help for his addiction (which would entail getting away from sicko codependent girlfriend,) he is now on the monthly injectable. I saw the text messages he sent to his preferred victim in which he threatened sexual torture and canabilism in a serious of explicit and rage-filled threats. He was only in psych jail a few weeks and now out on this injection. I'm all for it, considering how violent h has become and unpredictabl and unwilling to see he has a problem and stick to his medication. I blame his girlfriend and his family members as well for giving him weed to getting him his own studio apartment with his SSI money rather than leaving him in the halfway house, where he may have had a chance to come to terms and not do this again. My only question is what good will it do when he smokes weed on top of this or does other drugs? What if he refuses to show up to get the next one due to side effects? It seems to me he needed a more structured living arangement to help him get back on his feet more than here's your shot and stay out of trouble. However, I feel a little safer for now. But not for long.

  • Anon

    After my experience with the world of psychiatry, I have this to say: if you can find a way of functioning without antipsychotics, then don't be pressurised into taking those medications. I found in my case that even when I was largely functional, and not suffering too much, there was some zeal on the part of the psychiatric profession in trying to push antipsychotics at me, simply by virtue of the diagnosis. The diagnosis was an episode of psychosis, or with psychotic elements, and therefore antipsychotics were strongly recommended. This was even after I was experiencing these strong suicidal feelings which were so uncharacteristic of me, and which I hadn't been experiencing before taking the drugs.

    I decided to try an extremely low dose of Abilify - less than the so-called "effective minimum dose", since I found it hard to function on the dose originally prescribed (something which the prescribing psychiatrist didn't really accept.) On this "below minimum" dose of Abilify, I started to experience strong agitation - one of the side-effects. Therefore I doubled my dose of Clonazepam. As a result, I became very tired - my energy levels plummeted, and I found myself having to limit my sporting activity to about a third of previous levels. My walking became relatively slow. I started to develop symptoms associated with schizophrenia which I hadn't had previously: less mobility in my facial expressions, it started to be a struggle to look after myself, to clean my home, to go shopping - though I forced myself through it all. I started to go to bed early because of extreme tiredness, and stopped going out in the evening, and as a result became socially isolated, and felt myself spiral into a depression. Weeks before becoming depressed, I already started to experience suicidal feelings - disembodied: unlinked to depression. My depression was so severe that I found it hard to eat, and rather than gaining weight as is the tendency on this drug, I rapidly lost weight. I found it hard to write fluently - the drug seemed to affect my muscular ability, and lost my articulateness, finding it relatively hard to express myself (and as you can see, this is something I have no trouble doing without the antipsychotics!). I lost my creative ability, and was unable to engage in the activities that made my life meaningful. These also contributed to my spiralling downwards. Deep inside the depression, I lost interest in all the things that had made my life meaningful up to that time.

    Instead of accepting my view that the suicidal feelings and depression were linked to the drug Abilify, the psychiatrist described it as "the evolution of an illness".

    Another psychiatrist decided to transfer me instead to the antipsychotic Seroquel, even though it states in the contra-indications that this drug may intensify existing suicidal feelings, and surely enough, it intensified mine. Since (I presume) I was on such a low dose of Abilify, the psychiatrist didn't instruct me to taper Abilify, but simply to stop it, and start Seroquel. I was taking half a tablet with the minimum dosage. Since I didn't like feeling suicidal, and I guess I didn't want to end up going that way, I decided I wanted to discontinue the antipsychotic medication. I was told that I could simply stop taking the medication: I suppose it wasn't felt necessary to advise me to taper the medication as it was below the minimum effective dose as recognized by the psychiatrists. (As a result of my experience, I would advise anyone to taper when coming off an antipsychotic - however small the dose. If, like me, you are taking half a tablet a day, you could then take it every other day for a while, and then every third day, etc.) I started to experience almost total insomnia which lasted about 6 weeks. At every stage, it was not acknowledged by psychiatrists that the manifestations I was experiencing were caused by medication, or withdrawal from it. Thus, the insomnia was attributed to my depression, rather than to withdrawal from the medication. It was on the internet that I was able to learn that chronic insomnia is a withdrawal effect from Abilify and Seroquel, and since I had only taken Seroquel for a few days while still having Abilify in my system, I must have been withdrawing from both. I was prescribed the highest dose of the sleeping medication Zopiclone (Zimovane) intensified by an extra Clonazepam tablet at night this provided me with about two hours of sleep a night. While affected by this insomnia, I was still experiencing suicidal feelings, and would be lying awake almost the whole night thinking of the pros and cons of various ways of killing myself.

    After about 5 or 6 weeks, with the antipsychotics out of my system, the insomnia ended, and by this time, I had started taking an antidepressant, and my suicidal feelings subsided. By now I have come off all medication - including the antidepressant: Citalopram, since it was affecting my memory. If I feel the need, I take the very occasional half a tablet of Clonazepam.

    I firmly believe, following my experience, that a proportion of psychiatric patients are being misdiagnosed based on the manifestations of the side effects of antipsychotic medication, and the expression of beliefs which have nothing to do with brain chemistry. I further believe that for all the lives that may be saved as a result of the administration of antipsychotics, there is a significant proportion of patients who commit suicide not because of their illness, but because of the side effects of medication which they may be unnecessarily or inappropriately prescribed. These numbers then get lumped together with the numbers who commit suicide as a result of their illness, and is used as further evidence that suicidal action or attempts are symptoms of psychotic illnesses.

  • Samantha Kelly

    A family memeber put a few mental warrents on me.I was talking a lot,sometimes to much information,then the halluicinations started which I think came from sleep depervation.The police said I was no danger to myself or others so why not the doctors.I had to indure four different hospitals,then Cps wanted a piece of me.Well I won all four times but I do not think people should be forced to take drugs.If they pose no threat to others like verbal threats then they should be attended to and spoken through their halluincinations.When do you hear a doctor telling you all that you think is not true it's your imagnination let me help with theropy.Or I can help with your depression!Most of the time they want to put you on drugs.I've been told you have to take it all your life.Well after 3 yrs straight,lots of weight gain,early signs of arthrits,and seizures from the medications,I stopped taking it and I signed my rights away to my kids to their father.I was tired of taking it it wasn't helping except the first day I took it.I love my kids but I don't want them being uprooted because of our familes misfourtunes.Another classic case of a single Mom being runned through the mud.Now that I have my right mind I can say the medications work for sleep that's all.I think The people that are commiting the acts that have been posted if they are not jailed YET then they can not be helped and I mean real jail not a hosiptal.I think all people know what they are doing even if they have a mental disorder.