"Abuse them for their own good; it’s fun and self-justifying.
White people at the time no doubt justified that orgy of ethnic cleansing called the Trail of Tears as the best thing for the Native Americans who had the land they wanted. White plantation owners who displaced them could be heard to say that their slaves were simple people who needed white guidance, religion and physical discipline. When Oklahoma was approaching statehood, white people debated whether the two-state option, with one white state and one Native American, would be economically viable for natives. The Cherokee noted that no one was asking them to vote on it.
Many believe that medication should be forced upon people with mental illnesses, “for their own good”. As someone who sought out medication for severe problems with depression and PTSD, I once thought that forced medication would be appropriate for many with schizophrenia and bipolar depression. Now, after reading more about the effects, I doubt it. The medications given for those conditions heal nothing and cause even worse physical problems. Many of them slowly destroy the nerve functions they allegedly improve, leaving their victims as trembling zombies who can’t hold a cup of coffee still, or show an engaged personality. They act mainly as a chemical cosh to suppress socially unpopular behavior.
Recent research has indicated that schizophrenics who get off their medication have better medical futures than those who stay on them. Take for example, Dr. John Nash, portrayed by Russell Crowe in the movie which took extensive dramatic liberties with the Sylvia Nasar biography, “A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash”. Dr. Nash never saw visual hallucinations, and did not hear voices until five years after being diagnosed as schizophrenia and forced onto medication. Eventually, he learned how to avoid the notice of psychiatrists and after 1970 stopped taking medication. He healed himself, training himself to reject his delusions as a waste of effort, and returned to making contributions in his field. If he had stayed on medication, he could not have done that, and likely would have deteriorated into someone needing permanent physical care. Which Oklahoma policy and law allegedly seek to prevent.
Even my medications have a price. I can no longer do higher math or computer programming reliably, and I’m dizzy a lot. Together, they suppress white blood cells and platelets, leaving me more open to infections. I’ve been on and off antibiotics since before the State released me from its enforced hospitality, and to the ER twice with high fever and infection, the last time Christmas morning of last year. So I’ve had to start slowly and carefully weaning myself off them.
The Honorable Stephen V. Manley, who believes in court-directed medication, founded the Santa Clara County Mental Health Treatment Court when he got tired of cycling mentally ill people with criminal problems repeatedly through jail. He gave an interview to the Center for Court Innovation in 2005. Even he noted several things:
“There’s a stigma with the mentally ill that they are more dangerous, which is not true. Some are, some are not. They are, however, far more difficult to work with.”
“I think they have to be very separate courts. In a drug court we use incentives and sanctions to motivate clients. With the mentally ill it is totally different.”
“I do not believe that just any judge could walk in and preside over a mental health court. A judge has to be committed, very patient, and willing to accept criticism from clients. Because mentally ill people are very honest. They will tell you almost everything and they will tell you what is and isn’t working and what they want—if you ever bother to listen to them.”
If you ever bother to listen to them. Not in Oklahoma law enforcement or courts. As far as Oklahoma law enforcement is concerned, if anyone abusing someone with mental illness gets a negative reaction, the abuser is the threatened victim. It says so right there in the law, in the Definitions section of Title 43A. No need to investigate all the circumstances; like African and Native Americans before them, people with mental illness aren’t worth that much trouble. Getting angry while mentally ill merits only a trip to the local loony bin.
An Oklahoma Mental Health Court is even worse. Mental health professionals in the attached State mental facility, who benefit from commitments, decide the outcome for the Judge before the commitment hearing ever starts. To make their case, they construct (in its legal sense) evaluations and suppress existing medical and other information to the contrary. They are their own proof that everything they do, even falsifying medical information, is “for the good” of the accused.
The Public Defender leaves the accused in the dark about rights, like demanding a jury trial to ensure the right to cross-examine accusers. The Judge refuses to hear any defense and accepts any uninvestigated, unproven, unsworn hearsay that the mental health professionals have presented as fact. The Public Defender raises no objection to this, abandoning all pretense of zealous advocacy for the accused. No one explains the legal difference in rights between voluntary and involuntary commitment. If the accused does not volunteer, then involuntary commitment is a done deal. After all, isn’t it “for their own good”?
Which gives the State mental health professionals another barbi-doll to play with. They get to force medications and behavior modification on the “consumer”. No one gets out without acting in a “proper” manner and telling those professionals what they want to hear: that they saved another one from him or her self. No healing need apply.
As Dr. John Nash and Dr. Benjamin Gray noted, captive patients are often afraid of their captors and what they can do. In a time not long past, and maybe still present in some places, mental health professionals would cut or burn out a section of a captive patients’ brains to make them act right. Whatever most economically enforces social norms. Hitler just gassed them. Very few people get out of such places without scars in themselves and on their civil rights. Like some runaway slaves, some would even prefer not to be taken alive another time.
Who says Jim Crow is dead?
The Oklahoma (and U.S.) legal system should be ashamed of its double standards. But don’t hold your breath. There’s no NAACP to represent Crazy People in the Supreme Court and Congress. And if there were, the “normals” would jeer at it just like they did the first one. Just as they would call this little screed rambling and unintelligible. "