• Questionable intentions
    November 23,2013

    It is merely an observation; however, apparently these days all one has to do is suggest they are working for the greater public good as well as mention how everyone around the table has the best of intentions and this appears to be enough to absolve them and everyone else who might be in agreement from any possible unintended or adverse consequences.

    This even when certain agendas and motivations are actively at play, including potential political and financial ones, oftentimes going unnoticed, unstated or understated.

    Whether it be within the medical, psychiatric, legal, business or political communities or society at large, it makes one wonder about whether higher ethical standards are in place and are being properly practiced as well as enforced when, how and where it counts.

    Sometimes it can seem as if morals and ethics have been completely tossed overboard in favor of whatever some of those in power and authority have decided is best as well as most expedient for the rest of us, not to mention being better and possibly more profitable for them or for those they are employed by or are aligned and associated with.

    When it comes to societal or personal dilemmas and seeking solutions to these, no matter what the supposed problem(s) or the causation(s) might be and whoever might be involved as well as what field of expertise might be called upon for help, and no matter how complex the nature, the standard for addressing these matters should be, first and foremost, not to do harm.

    It is one thing to know and to recite; however, it is yet another thing to put these type of morals and ethics into meaningful as well as enduring practice. One of the ways to not do harm in the first place is never to treat any person involved as being the problem and therefore as an object, as if they were less than human, whom others should be doing something to or about.

    Throughout the history of humankind, it rarely if ever has done human society — nor any person living within it and subject to such — much if any good to institutionalize societal or personal dilemma(s) or supposed solutions to these either.

    Whatever supposed good or betterment might be perceived as resulting is usually rather short-lived as well as overshadowed by problems arising from unintended and adverse consequences.

    For example, even when one might mean well in attempting to come to the aid of someone else experiencing a personal crisis no matter what the nature or cause and in terms of civil commitment and non-emergency psychiatric treatment in general, as well as forced drugging more specifically, when a person is treated in a fashion that involves using force and coercion in one manner or another, whether it be enforcing the will of someone else or the state against another, this quickly evolves into a dehumanizing process for each and every party involved.

    Whenever force or coercion is employed within any health care or other type of setting, it is no longer truly medical treatment being delivered, save only being the worst and most dehumanizing sort.

    Good intentions never improve on ill treatment or the outcome from such, or make these better, at least not for the person on the receiving end.

    Ironically, among the questions that rarely get asked, let alone answered, is if using force and coercion in terms of providing mental health care truly did work as effectively as some try to claim it does, then why do many people who have undergone it either end up going through the revolving institutional door over and over, thus having it be done to them again and again in one form or another, or, after being (re)traumatized, they attempt to avoid health care and mental health care providers like the plague.

    The fact is when a person is treated with dignity and respect as well as making sure their choices or otherwise what they might have wanted if they could make their own choices are the priorities adhered to when decisions are being made about how to proceed, there is less of a risk and danger of doing harm.

    The standard of care and top priorities concerning the same certainly should never be about ease or expediency, nor about the needs of mental health care providers or the system.

    In addition, those who try to suggest this is only about 40 or so people on an annual basis are either missing the point or hoping the rest of us will.

    When violence and harm is visited upon one, particularly when it is made easier and quicker to do so, it only brings harm to us all.

    Calling the use of forced drugging mental health treatment does not make it so, nor does it mean it is for the best.

    As a society, we should not be making it easier and faster to obtain non-emergency forced psychiatric drugging orders against someone. If anything, we should be making it much harder and extremely rare, if ever, to be able to do so.

    Morgan W. Brown lives in Montpelier.

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