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2. 1. The Wrong (Forced) Treatment.
Already in 1963 I was prescribed psychoactive drugs. In 1969 my psychiatrist at the time, whom I will call P. (for psychiatrist) wrote to a physician for internal diseases at an academic hospital that neuroleptic drugs only improved my symptoms temporarily. In 1972 he wrote a neurologist at the same hospital that I had summed up exactly the classical experiences of the disorder (schizophrenia) which he presumed me to have. Already before the involuntary commitment in 1970 he notified me that “The fact that you know so well what is wrong with you makes it easier for me to treat you but for you it's more difficult.” So apparently P. considered me a person with insight into illness. From 1963 until the involuntary commitment I had taken practically all the medicines listed in 5.
In 1970 I remained five weeks on a ward in the above mentioned academic hospital because I had lost weight as a result of a (Atkinson) diet, which is rich in fat, which I followed for hyperlipidemia. During that stay I noticed that my condition was certainly not worse when taking fewer psychoactive drugs. After my release I notified P. that I was willing to continue contact with him as an out-patient, but that I did not wish to return to his psychiatric hospital. I wished to return home and titrate down the medication according to a schedule that P. originally approved. However, P.'s pressure on me, my family, and my family doctor to have me return to the hospital led to the involuntary commitment mentioned above.
Five years later, wthin one year and under much more difficult circumstances, I succeeded in totally ridding myself of the medicines. I was then no longer hindered by P.'s “insights”.
I experienced the said forced treatment, so-called perfenazine therapy, as extraordinarily crazy, disgusting, and senseless torture, which was extremely destructive for both my body and my mind. It totally broke me, caused me to lose my identity, and left me with years of heavy headaches. At the beginning of this “therapy” all other medicines were abruptly withdrawn, which caused the most awful withdrawal symptoms. After having been injected, I was forced to take high doses of perfanazine orally for some time yet. During that period P. explained in my presence to interns being trained what the benefits of what he was doing to me supposedly were. That increased the humiliation.
My reluctance to take the medicines that he prescribed, because they did not help, was, according to P.'s insights, the result of the “mental illness/psychosis” which he ascribed to me. The real purpose of the perfanazine was to keep me in his power. I have never been able to give it any other meaning. The “therapy” was punishment for resisting his insights. (Electroshock has been used for similar purposes, certainly in the past.) There was no medical value at all. On the contrary, the treatment was highly damaging, as would be confirmed later. Several times before the court order I visited P. and made clear to him that I wished to titrate down the drugs, but that I was willing to continue with him on an out-patient basis, only not in the institution. So I was certainly not avoiding treatment!
During one of those visits, on which I was accompanied by a member of my family, he greatly pressured me to return to the institution. When his pressure met with equally great resistance on my part, at a certain point he called out “I see it!” to express how urgent he considered the necessity of subjecting me to further “expertise.” As this too did not change my viewpoint, I was compelled to leave, so that he could convince the member of my family without my being able to refute him. He apparently considered that perfectly normal based on the authority which he seized for himself. Not only did I see “it” well enough, but I “felt” it.
Only I considered “it” to be something very different, and as turned out later, I was right. The insights that P. claimed to have when he said “I see it” turned out to be based on what were for me catastrophic errors. His actions seemed to me to be aimed totally at achieving the involuntary commitment.
P. always took notes of our conversations, so also of the kind of involuntary commitment that occurred when I told him I wished to titrate down the medication. After the court order, he mentioned this in connection with the forced treatment as follows: “It's written here. You said that you don't want to take medicines anymore.” This expression in particular was to me proof of the fact that he considered my view that I can get along without medicine as a symptom of my mental illness. However, I wanted to titrate them down, and not abruptly stop them. The person who did force me to abruptly stop taking all medicine was P. himself. And as noted above, that caused the most awful withdrawal symptoms.
After the involuntary commitment I noticed that someone had gone through my private possessions, including my pocket diaries. I kept these together with data on someone with whom I had once had a relationship.
I once wrote a letter about these matters to the institution's medical director of the time. He responded that he had never wanted psychiatry to be practiced the way I had described it. He did not, nor could he, refute my rendition of events. Psychiatry itself is responsible for people's paranoia by behaving like this.
For me it was in practice fairly impossible to get rid of P. and continue treatment with someone else, even after the involuntary commitment. The events before, during, and after the involuntary hospitalization gave me the feeling that I was somehow his personal property, which was frightening to me. He interfered with all sorts of matters which in my opinion were none of his business, and which had nothing to do with my illness. When during the involuntary hospitalization I notified him that I wanted a lawyer, I was compelled to arrange it through his secretary. He also ordered me to whom in my family I was to listen regarding a matter of inheritance. His interference in these matters had nothing to do with the illness from which he presumed I was suffering. There are matters which never have anything to do with any illness whatsoever, and psychiatrists should not interfere in them.
Regarding the forced treatment P. once remarked that gentle healers make stinking wounds. The last thing I ever experienced is that he ever healed anything. Wounds I certainly did get.
Mainly as P. never ruled out hyperlipidemia as a cause of my symptoms, and because of the forced treatment, I submitted a complaint to the regional Medical Ethics Board in 1985 and to the Central Medical Ethics Board in 1986. (See 4). In his defense at the latter, P. sketched an image of me as someone who sabotages attempts to be cured, for instance by continually asking for different medication. (Why would anybody do that?) This was presented as though a part of my illness.
In spite of all of his expertise, P. understood nothing of my symptoms, nor did he want to, or perhaps he couldn't, admit that the medicines did not help. He also wrote that “throughout the entire process” I had “always” somatized my symptoms. (Already in 1972 he had written a neurologist of an academic hospital that I sum up exactly all of the symptoms of schizophrenia, but that I ascribe them to an organic problem that no one has as yet discovered.) P. also wrote in his defense that according to the somatic physician my symptoms were not being caused by my hyperlipidemia. As was I was treated for it for years, he notified the Medical Ethics Board that my “contention that this (light) disorder was not taken into consideration is absolutely untrue”!
Every year countless people are hospitalized with unknown symptoms resulting from long-term use of pills. So it wasn't all that strange that the physician for internal medicine wasn't able to identify my symptoms. P. often pointed out to me that I shouldn't hide behind my illness. (For me that was one of the many indications that he didn't understand anything about my illness.) Therefore I should be able to assume that he would not hide behind the somatic physician's pronouncements. But even if P. would not have done so, I wouldn't be able to share his views for the following reasons. (Continue to 2.2)
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