The big debate: Treating severe, untreated mental illness

English: Jericho House Long stay care for adul...
English: Jericho House Long stay care for adults with mental illness and /or alcohol dependence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. E Fuller Torrey was interviewed on 60 Minutes 9/29/13. Following the segment, I received multiple emails and tweets. Many angrily commented. But one email stood out to me the most and that was the email of a mother in a battle of her own. She has a son with severe schizophrenia who refuses psychiatric care. He has been incarcerated for 9 years. She poses the question “why is everyone so angry?” I respond “because it’s political.” The political view lacks compassion and common sense. People who say we don’t need change, are self-serving. We need it severely! People are asking for common sense options that can ultimately treatment their loved one. Is that too much to ask for? The goal of the majority is to reject more stringent treatment options in each state. Many cry fear of stigma and while legitimate, it’s overkill. We can fight stigma by also employing stricter treatment options. Why should one be any greater than the other? As you can see, there is no balance and sadly there never will be.

If you look very closely you can see that most either mention Robert Whitaker (a staunch critic of psychiatry and the existence of mental illness itself) and others who favor their political viewpoint. Their goal is to maintain the current mode of treatment and to reduce the possibility of more stringent treatment options. Many mention fear of stigma and while legitimate, it’s overkill. As a therapist, I have witnessed this political battle in more ways than one. It is strong and ugly. It lacks compassion for the severely ill and untreated in our nation. It lacks common sense. There is no balance and there never will be. Those who follow Robert Whitaker will continue to be influenced by him, much in the same way as those influenced by Jim Jones. These are radical people, radical views. Why would anyone create a “movement” against parents, families, and caregivers who must live in throes of a loved one’s severe or untreated mental illness? Politics attracts and many buy it. People who ask for more common sense treatment options cannot ultimately gain anything from their plea but the serious treatment their loved one deserves. Is that too much to ask for?

What do you think of this debate? Is it political? Is it personal? Is it confusing?
Looking forward to your comments

To watch the video, click here