Friday, January 28, 2005

Dee: A Case Study of Punishing Mental Illness

"One case I know of is a good example. I will call the patient, Dee. Dee had been non-compliant with his treatment. He had decompensated to the point of suffering and being suicidal. Instead of going to the hospital which held his commitment, he went to a private psychiatric hospital as he had Medicaid. He was examined and it was determined that he was in need of emergency psychiatric care. While a room was being prepared for him, he was told to wait in the waiting room. While waiting the "voices" continued to bother him. He started wandering the halls and went into the employee lounge. He picked up a walkman style radio and put the headphones on. Psychiatric patients often do this to drown out the "voices". Well, the employee who owned the walkman called the police and Dee was promptly arrested.

Dee had a 20 year history of being in and out of mental institutions. He also had a history of many criminal arrests stemming from him acting out the symptoms of his illness. Dee went to jail, was tried in court and found guilty. In addition to being found guilty of theft, he was charged with being a habitual criminal and was given an additional 30 year sentence without possibility of parole. For all practical purposes, he will spend the rest of his life in prison for being mentally ill."

Bob Cardwell


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