Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 10, 2009


When a person is placed in a mental 'hospital' or a young person is placed in a residential 'treatment' facility it is said to be that they are there to receive treatment. However, in these facilities a person earns privileges based on how they choose to behave, and particularly if they behave in conformity to the standards established by the staff of the institution. Now imagine if we are in a hospital and have a physical illness and the physician tells us, "oh, you are getting better, you did not cough as much today, so you may have this or that privilege." We would find this very odd. So, we should call these institutions for what theyn are- prisons, not places of treatment, not places of rest and security.

"Based on the viewpoints of biopsychiatry, adolescents who are medicated and placed in mental hospitals are labeled as improved when they conform to hospital demands or receive discharge. However, what is not examined is, how do the patients themselves actually feel? An estimated 180,000 to 300,000 young people a year are placed in private psychiatric facilities. These children and adolescents often feel powerless in these placements. But as mentioned above, it is the need for feelings of empowerment and hope that will lead to a genuine recovery from distress. Psychologist D.L. Rosenhan lead a study where "pseudopatients" had themselves admitted to psychiatric hospitals to experience them first hand and report on this experience. Rosenhan reported in an article appearing in the January 19, 1973 issue of Science, "Powerlessness was evident everywhere" He is shorn of credibility by virtue of his psychiatric label.

His freedom of movement is restricted. He cannot initiate contact with staff, but may only respond to overtures as they make. Personal privacy is minimal?? With children and adolescents it is easier to rationalize away their rights and control becomes more arbitrary and complete (Breggin, 1991). Psychiatrist Peter Breggin states that in such an environment it is hard for a child to resist feeling spiritually crushed, abandoned, and worthless under such conditions. With a less formed sense of self than an adult has, a child is less able to resist the shame attached to being diagnosed and labeled a "mental patient". Children may also find it much harder to conform to institutional life."

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

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