Category Archives: inhumanity

For Mr. T.Y.

For an old gentle-man,

broken, even as a child, by what he’s done,

rebuilt by his own hand, with the help of Allah, the most merciful,

destroyed again by an uncaring, abusive system that I work for.

Holly Near said it-

Why are the weapons of the war so young?

And why are there always only older men around when it’s done

And why are so many of our soldiers black or brown?

Do we say it’s because they’re good at cuttin’ yellow down?

Well that’s just a lie

One of the many and we’ve heard plenty

I don’t want more of the same

No more genocide in my name

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MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study

I work at Oregon State Hospital (OSH) in Salem, OR. It exists because in Oregon as well as most everywhere else, there is an assumption in the legal system (in society in general) that the people who have a mental health diagnosis are more prone to violence than others. This assumption is reflected in the functioning of the Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB), the primary instrument of oppression of those with a mental health diagnosis in this state.  This is a direct opposite to reality/ evidence. (See also reports here and here and here. Or here– or even here.)

The best research available is the The MacArthur Community Violence Study, a gigantic longitudinal project spanning several years and thousands of people. This study included 1,136 male and female civil patients between 18 and 40 years old. The project monitored violence to others every 10 weeks during their first year after discharge from a mental institution. Patient self-reports were augmented by reports from collaterals and by police and hospital records. The comparison group consisted of 519 people living in the neighborhoods in which the patients resided after hospital discharge. They were interviewed once about violence in the past 10 weeks.

The most comprehensive study ever done regarding mental health and risk of violence found that even among the “mentally ill” who commit violent crimes, the likelihood of that person committing further violence is considerably less than an individual who has no mental health diagnosis. For individuals who simply have a mental health diagnosis, the likelihood that they will commit an act of violence is substantially less than the average person.

(The MacArthur study is so named because major funding was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Mental Health and the Law with a supplemental grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (grant # R01 49696) to interview the collateral informants.)

One factor is that many people who have behaviors labeled as mental illness have developed these symptoms as a result of (and a coping mechanism for) being victims of violence. Having a “mental illness” actually conveys a certain degree of immunity from any tendency towards violence.

The one variable that really messes up this finding is substance abuse. People who have both “mental illness” and active substance abuse are more likely to commit violent crimes.

Judging risk of violence by public opinion is as worthwhile as using your horoscope

It would make sense that if people have adequate support in their community they would be less likely to use alcohol or street drugs to self-medicate. In this way the mental health system as it exists in the United States today contributes to violence.

So- I propose that Oregon do the following:

  1. Reform the PSRB system- starting with the elimination of the PSRB.
  2. Eliminate the State Hospital (and quit building the new replacement facility- maybe the building could be turned into something else- another prison?).
  3. Use the money saved to create a system of community services that is fully funded, consumer driven and based on a compassionate, recovery oriented ethic.
  4. Create an emergency/ acute care system that is based on the Sanctuary model, that makes use of natural/ holistic medicine and provides a variety of choices in terms of treatment styles and settings.

Meanwhile, I won’t hold my breath. The public perception of those of us with “mental illness” is such that fear over-rides sense. A inmate escaping from the State Prison merits 2 inches of news space on page 6. A patient who leaves OSH (“absconds”) without PSRB permission is front page, lead story and a week of prominent follow-up articles.


Filed under inhumanity, Mental Hell Treatment, Oregon State Hospital, wellness and systems change

Absolutely Horrible

I apologize for offering this awful, terrible video. I am ashamed of my country, “the most powerful nation in the history of the world”.

Description from the website:

“a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.”

Why am I posting this? It’s because it’s reality. We live in a world where humans do incredibly inhuman things to one another. We imagine we have a “civilization”. Watch this and tell me the value of our civilization. It isn’t like we haven’t been told, that we haven’t been given instruction in finding a different path.

As a Quaker, I embrace non-violence because I know that the God-Christ-Essence is in every on of us; that killing people is an offense against the God of every religion.

More from The Nation (excerpt):

“Well, it’s their fault bringing their kids to a battle.”

Those words, spoken by a faceless soldier, echo from a classified US military video released by the site The release comes on the heels of the revelation of a cover-up in Afghanistan–and the anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as the anniversary of his “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

King spoke to the Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam, saying “It should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam.”

Hearing allegations that special forces troops in Afghanistan may have dug the bullets out of their pregnant victims bodies to hide evidence, hearing airmen on the Wikileaks tape begging “Come on, let us shoot!” and hearing the editor of Wikileaks say that the shooters talked in the way that people do when they’re playing video games–it reminded me of King’s words.

You can write this off as some isolated mistake- go ahead. “Things happen in a war”, right? These things are unacceptable under any circumstances.

I cannot help but believe that if we spent a fraction of the money, resources (and blood?) on finding ways to live in a world without war, we could manage to end this insanity. Now we have the brightest, most accomplished, most technologically superior people on earth working 24 hours a day to invent better ways to kill other humans. We can do better.

We need to do better. War is not the answer. Find another way, by God.

Excuse me while I go throw up.

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Filed under inhumanity, peace, war