Today Mad in America, a nonprofit that publishes a webzine on science, psychiatry and social justice ran a long article on the dark side of “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” or, as we think of it in Wisconsin, “outpatient recommitments.” Turns out they have a very dark side. Chapter 51 practitioners may find the many studies and surveys linked to in this article helpful in preparing their clients cases.
According to today’s article, “Twenty Years After Kendra’s Law: The case against AOT,” the public knows the case for a recommitment. People with mental illness who refuse to take antipsychotic medication “lack insight” into their illness. Compulsory treatment restores their minds, allows them to live in the community, and protects the public from their dangerous acts. It prevents the “revolving door” problem–they go off medication, become psychotic, then have to be hospitalized again.
But the article says the public does not know of the many scientific studies debunking this theory of mental illness. It highlights, for example, studies showing that while antipsychotic medications can stabilize people with shcizophrenia, recovery rates are worse when they take antipsychotic medications longterm. The medications can produce significant side effects, including excruciating anxiety which then causes, rather than prevents, dangerous behavior. When patients ask for treatments other than antipsychotics often assume they’re not accepting their diagnosis.
As Chapter 51 practitioners know well, clients who are continually recommitted after they become stable and even productive in the community lose hope that they will never escape governmental control and forced medication. This article tells the story of one such person, Andrew Rich. When Sheboygan County kept seeking recommitment even after he stabilized, held a job, and engaged with his family, he gave up. He asked the court whether the commitment would ever end. When the court answered with another recommitment, he took control of his life and killed himself.