Saturday, June 6, 2009

Devil's Move © Megan Snider

"And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed."
--Shelley "Ozymandias" (click to read)

"In the history of oppression, using haloperidol is kind of like detaining people in Abu Ghraib,"
--Nigel Rodley, former United Nations special investigator on torture

Haldol gained notoriety in the Soviet Union, where it was often given to political dissidents imprisoned in psychiatric hospitals. (click to read.)

I am outraged. WHAT are we DOING to our mental health patients? Haldol is used to absolutely retard the whole body, leaving the drugged person half-alive, slurring, tongue lolling out and eyes rolled back, convulsing and twitching.

Haldol is used in TORTURE. No, no-- read it again: HALDOL IS USED IN TORTURE.
That leaves one to deduce that therefore Haldol IS torture.

I read this story and I was speechless. There are many more-- go ahead, read them. This one in the Washington Post, this one from a Soviet Union report; it's all there and it's undeniable.

Have you ever heard of Thorazine? Thorazine knocks you off your feet if you're Schizophrenic. Haldol is FIFTY times more powerful than Thorazine. Oh, there's no denying Haldol "works" but it's sort of like selling this for that-- bartering pieces of humanity for pieces of normality. I'll wager my sex drive for psychosis, my arousal for paranoia, my ability to feel and my intricate sensation system for a nice steady walk. I'll also wager a pretty face for tics that make men laugh at me and red-lipped smile for an involuntary sneer.

I'm a 24-year-old woman. How would you feel if I approached you, twisting my body, my lips wriggling and my eyes batting unsteadily? So ein Pech we Germans would say.

When I used to watch movies or documentaries about the mentally ill in psychiatric hospitals, I assumed that their movements were due to their state of mind. Now, sometimes, in some illness, this is correct. I did not have the life experience to realize that those movements-- those movements that "tell" other people they're crazy, right?-- are actually brought on by the brutal and invasive regimens of psychotropic drugs. Those who cannot be "rehabilitated" (I find this word inappropriate) are just doped up, numbed, bound and gagged with pharmaceuticals. Who cares if you twitch and twist as long as you're quiet and look appropriately sedated?

The anger I feel from treatment is due to my circumstances. When I was told to seek help for Panic Disorder, I was 17 years old. I had had Panic Disorder as far back as I could remember-- even before sixth grade. So, when my parents said no to the drugs, I felt like they were saying no to the cure.

We eventually tried drugs.

We've been trying drugs ever since. My diagnosis has broadened.

There is no cure.

The best hope is lowly "adequate" treatment.

And, after that, there's always the threat of drug tolerance.

Why must one bargain for one's health?


Why must one bargain for one's life?

I suppose it is not up to me to ponder these questions. But, I do. What does it take to get well and when will we find it? Can you see my hopelessness? Do you see the deals with the devil we must make to seem "normal"?

The mentally ill have no voice-- their tongues are twisted up in their mouths like fat snakes, their veins bulge from constant pressure in the muscles and rigor in their arms and legs. They can't speak because pills are crammed down their throats.

It would be different if the pills could actually "cure", but they can't. And therein lies the great shame. We're still treating patients with Haldol. Haldol was approved by the FDA in 1967. It is on the list of essential psychiatric care drugs. It has the ability to stop acute psychosis and land you in the E.R. if you have a low seizure thresh hold and if you don't take the counter-acting anti-spasm pills. But to be normal, for that hope to be normal, for that dream to enjoy moments and not fear them, the mentally ill allow doctors to subject them to their best "cure-alls."
With a bunch of this will do the tricks and I believe this will helps.

And since then it's been a game of chess with the devil;

he moves;

we move;

no one wins.

© Megan Snider

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