The collected schizophrenias

There’s a line that reads, ‘Rarely did I experience such a radical and visceral imbalance of power as I did as a psychiatric inpatient amid clinicians who knew me only as an illness in human form.’ What was that like? 

When you’re in an inpatient situation in a psychiatric hospital, you lack autonomy in a way that I have experienced in few other situations. You’re not allowed to have a lot of things, especially things that are of comfort. You’re not allowed to have them because they’re dangerous, sure — like shoelaces — but you’re also not allowed to have them because they don’t want you to be distracted by them, such as phones or laptops or iPads. So you’re made to follow their schedule.

You’re also not allowed to know how long this deprivation is going to last.

That’s part of the reason the patients are so eager to talk to the doctor every day, because the doctor is the only person who can who can sign off on you getting out. But sometimes the whole day passes and you have not gotten to talk to the doctor. In the meantime, you’re expected to behave in certain ways that are seen as appropriate — like a group activity like colouring, or like making paper snowmen. You can’t be pouty about it. Otherwise that’s a check against you, and will get you further away from being checked out. So you have to be smiley about it, even though you’re a 36-year-old adult and you’re expected to make glitter snowmen.

That is from Esmé Weijun Wang, with more points of interest at the link, via Lama and also Michelle Dawson.


Scientology, the religion founded by the writer L. Ron Hubbard, rejects psychology and psychiatry as "barbaric and corrupt". Hubbard, who died in 1986, believed that psychiatrists were responsible for a great many wrongs in the world, saying that psychiatry has at various times offered itself as a tool of political suppression and "that psychiatry spawned the ideology which fired Hitler's mania, turned the Nazis into mass murderers, and created the Holocaust." That's one point of view.

Hubbard was a smart businessman. Infiltrated the IRS to get tax free status as a religion. Offer courses for thousands of dollars to their often wealthy believers. Smear potential competitors like psychiatry. Use copyright law to stamp out criticism and dissent. Fraudulently claim to be both a religion and science (scientology = science + technology). He'd make a great POTUS. And an even better galactic warlord.

It is not that simple.

Kinda do want to spend the day making glitter snowmen now though.

Last winter I made "snowflake butterflies" with my 3 year old. Well, mostly I made them and she threw glitter around.

Children and crafts: 98% are disappointingly uninterested in the quality of the craft product. I guess their reflexive sense of amour propre doesn't depend on successfully making something, or knowing a few French phrases for that matter. So craft-doing is a mostly-penitent activity for Mother. I recommend snowflakes out of borax and pipe cleaner. The kid won't be terribly interested, but there's SCIENCE, Mother at least will momentarily feel that she might be on the verge of creating something magazine-worthy, and then it turns out it doesn't last very well. The "crystal" chunks fall off. An afternoon well spent in the dystopian world of parenting in the supposed Age of Childhood.


One of the better things I have read here.

I worked in an inpatient psychiatric unit as a medical student and the psychiatrists were of the opinion that socialization with other patients and group therapy on the unit was very therapeutic. The patients tend to self isolate and get lost in their mental illness otherwise. We also rounded on the patients each and every day and they could leave at any time as long as they weren't civilly committed. No one had to participate in activities. They'd usually play cards and talk in the common room.

'and they could leave at any time as long as they weren't civilly committed'

Exactly, most people in a psychiatric setting are not actually behind locked doors like prisoners.

Depending on country, it is much harder to keep someone against their will in such a situation than it is to sentence a prisoner for a crime. A broad subject, but it is quite difficult to commit anyone for any length of time against their will.

at your institution did they train the psychiatrists in the psueodscience of exorcisms like they do at the yale medical school?


we reckon mebbe he meant Crikey! as an exclamation of surprise
not as proper noun
we also reckon we have looked everwhere for peer reviewed paperwork
on medical exorcisms by yale psychiatrists with no joy

Is socialization with other crazy people always better for a patient's mental illness?

we reckon if the exorcisms are done by yale medical school psychiatrists there will be paperwork.
we reckon we are sorta obligated to read the paperwork

The people with personality disorders cause trouble. The people with psychotic disorders are mostly mellow because of the meds and the negative symptoms.

Really; hard to get committed and stay there against one's will? I quit dating a woman because she had her son taken to a mental facility because she was about to lose the money for him when he turned 18. He was an ordinary 17 year old boy who had the unfortunate luck to be responsible for a monetary outlay to his mother

That is a bit of a corner case - parents have a lot of authority over their children before they turn 18, and this sounds something more along the lines of the sort of drug rehab programs that some judges send juveniles to - while getting kickbacks.

She's at a "radical and visceral imbalance of power" as to her mental illness. The fact that she doesn't see that is why she needs treatment.

As an inpatient psychiatrist, this illustrates the tragedy of mental illness. There is indeed an imbalance of power, but what is to be done? When the police bring a schizophrenic in because they threw away their medications a week ago and are now running around down town naked and accosting others, what are we supposed to do? Medications help calm the the voices and paranoia. Structure is enormously therapeutic in helping improve and reobtain socialization skills. If it were not for inpatient psychiatric units, the person described above would be arrested and imprisoned, which would be far more inhumane. We need much more research for mental health so that we can find a cure for devastating mental illnesses.

You are not a fan of Ken Kesey?

This is very close to home for me - we have someone in our family with bipolar disorder. There have been multiple 5150s involving a minor - I have no experience with adults. It's a horrible situation. I don't even know where to begin.


Having rotated through inpatient psych units as a med student I have a huge amount of respect for psychiatrists. Society asks you to do a very difficult job.

Or perhaps even an impossible job.

Is there any body of knowledge that lets one infer that a particular task might be unachievable?

Adding to the Ms. Wang's comments, the privacy laws of most states do not permit a mental health facility to accept calls to or visitors for a patient unless a security code is provided by the caller/visitor. A spouse, parent, child of a patient admitted voluntarily or involuntarily for an assumed mental disorder cannot make contact without the code. In fact, the facility cannot confirm admission, accept medical or medication guidance, or permit physician contact.

The patient by admission is determined to be in need of institutionalization unable to care for herself however the government allows only that patient to provide a code to family caregivers. The patient is permitted outgoing calls if she has the ability to make them.
Imagine an involuntary admission, a patient deprived of prescribed medication, unable to call family due to mental confusion, the family not allowed to make contact for lack of the code, not allowed to talk to medical staff.

Mental health care in 2019.

Sounds like just letting patients keep their phone would soothe a lot of ill feelings

You just said it: soothe. Phones function as soothers (and not just for inpatients).

It is not so simple. Patients who are thought-disordered often ring people inappropriately and harass them, manic patients make crazy purchases online and so on. Patients are normally allowed ipods, DVD players etc for relaxation, but unfettered access to phones and the internet can cause the patient significant reputational harm.

She must be extraordinary sans illness. The schizophrenics I've known, I mean, the people experiencing what is sometimes called schizophrenia, would not be able to see through either the writing of a book or the securing of a book deal.

However interesting her feelings, when she's in a cycle that ends in temporary institutionalization, hopefully the larger war of feelings, and superstition, against science won't prevent scientists from figuring out what schizophrenia actually is and making memoirs like this historical artifacts.

That is why mental health issues are ripe for abuse. It is more about having power over another than it is about helping them in their daily lives.

My brother is schizophrenic and has been in these facilities before. There have been several cases of physical abuse against him, as well as having his things stolen by his supposed caretakers. Complaints by my family have not always been listened to and the perpetrators not punished. In one case, one of his stolen items 'mysteriously' showed up after a complaint. There need to be 3rd-party observers so people can be held accountable. People with mental health issues need love and public perception of them needs to change.

Is there any body of knowledge that lets one infer that a particular task might be unachievable?

This is very close to home for me - we have someone in our family with bipolar disorder. There have been multiple 5150s involving a minor - I have no experience with adults. It's a horrible situation. I don't even know where to begin. you can see more...

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