"Magical cures at TCBH during the hateful holidays
Back during the Christmas season of 2010, I called someone I knew inside TCBH (the Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health, or This Can’t Be Happening, the local loony bin), and asked how many people were confined there. For those of us with things like PTSD and depression, the holidays are particularly miserable. Many of our families have long ago made it clear that we just aren’t welcome. Some going all the way back to childhood, which is one reason why we have things like PTSD and depression.
We remember how it used to be, or how it should be from what we see in other families, and for us, it isn’t. Maybe some as they exclude us, hog a beloved parent’s time. Isn’t that just special; doesn’t that just put the angel on the top of the tree. So anger and depression are not far away.
And do you know what my friend inside said? There weren’t many inmates in TCBH for the holidays. Instead of filling up to capacity, the beds had been mostly emptied.
Small wonder to some of us who have known the place. A few who are seriously ill and need a place to stay can’t be released without serious liability to TCBH. And even for them, it’s just a warm-body warehouse, kept nearly full the rest of the year to keep the place running. So on the holidays, why keep the staff from their families for the sake of those inmates the staff has manipulated into filling beds. Head ‘em up, move ‘em out, rawhide.
It would be interesting to go back over the records of all the state mental institutions, individually and together, and see just how the inmate levels change with the holidays. And compare them to the county jails. Even better, to see if the inmates get shifted from one to the other. No doubt the State might wish to avoid that comparison. It might say something negative about its sincerity and commitment in treating mental illness.
This morning the Diane Rehm show had a discussion about the mental health and employment needs of veterans coming back from our wars. A lot of them are coming back with things like PTSD and depression. I can attest to one statement, that employment is the best mental health treatment. Of course, in a very conservative state like this one, which has little or no tolerance for any kind of difference or deviance, that is a very long shot. And religion, in this most fundamentalist of states? One soldier who has spent more than a decade killing people said, “So what do I do on Sunday morning?”
The show made mention of the terrible need for “evidence-based treatment” and “cognitive behavior therapy”. Evidence-based treatment has actually been tested to see if it works. It means that someone has actually bothered to follow up with patients and find that out. The results in patients are important, not the philosophy or personal agenda of the psychiatrist. It can only work if the patient is not satisfied with being upset, and wants to find another way to think.
TCBH takes a stab at cognitive behavior therapy, paying it some lip service. But one can hardly expect it to work in a place where patients are upset because the staff has filled the beds by any means possible, including false accusations and evaluations. Where the staff itself behaves in ways guaranteed to trigger PTSD and depression, attempting to motivate the patients only with guilt and incarceration. And then claims cures and salvation when patients merely utter some formula statement that gets them out, about not being a danger to anyone.
That kind of phony, intrusive, involuntary, and even retaliatory approach subverts the whole process. But then, TCBH does not take much account of due process in either medicine or law. It might interfere with business. "