Friday, September 16, 2005

President Bush and psychiatrist Sally Satel

President Bush and psychiatrist Sally Satel

Your Mind & Freedom

"Whatcha Gonna Do When They Screen For You?"

Warning: Bush administration pushes for more US citizens to be forcibly drugged, even on outpatient basis.

by David Oaks, Director,
MindFreedom International

What would a second term by President George W. Bush look like for the increasing number of US citizens who are being "screened" by the mental health system?

For some it may look like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" has landed in their homes.

A Bush appointee to a key federal mental health advisory council is pushing for more coerced and involuntary outpatient commitment as a central USA goal over the next few years.

Forty-two US states have passed outpatient commitment laws in the last 15 years, allowing citizens to be court ordered to take psychiatric drugs against their will even while living peacefully in their own homes.

The official minutes from the meeting reveal that psychiatrist Sally L. Satel -- in her own words -- called for the federal government to encourage the States to use more "coercive," "intrusive, highly paternalistic" and "involuntary care." A federal employee confirmed to MindFreedom that Satel used these exact words.

Since the Bush Administration is also calling for screening of all US citizens for mental health problems, Dr. Satel's crusade for more coercion could potentially impact any American.

The President's Psychiatrist: Dr. Satel

President Bush appointed psychiatrist Sally Satel to the National Advisory Council (NAC) for the US Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).

CMHS oversees hundreds of millions of federal money for mental health care, and the NAC must approve all grants.

This Fall the official minutes were released for the 16 June 2004 NAC meeting in Rockville, MD..

Dr. Satel, according to the minutes, stated her goals for the important "State Incentive Grants" (SIGs) that the federal government uses to impact mental health policy and practice in the States.

The official minutes reported Dr. Satel's comments about goals for the future of USA mental health:

"She recommended that SIGs address whether States provide assisted outpatient treatment. Acknowledging her controversial view, she noted that stigma regarding severe mental illness may be addressed by early coercive care that then migrates into other, less coercive systems. She asserted that some people need intrusive, highly paternalistic, life-saving care....Dr. Satel offered to provide contacts for a discussion on involuntary care."

Dr. Satel also challenged the concept of "recovery" for people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities.

Dr. Satel's comments will come as no surprise to those familiar with her work. Dr. Satel wrote the book _PC MD_ that devotes a chapter called "Inmates Take Over the Asylum" to denouncing the social change movement led by psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers.

Dr. Satel works for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is one of the best-funded corporate think tanks in Washington, D.C. AEI is widely acknowledged to have some of the closest ties to the Bush Administration of any think tank, especially to the Cheney's.

As an example of their influence, an investigation by _Mother Jones Magazine_ credits AEI with laying the groundwork for the war in Iraq. AEI, which is partly funded by pharmaceutical corporations and has a pharmaceutical company CEO on its board, also held an all-day gathering to promote more forced psychiatry.

Enforcement Arm for Screening?

Concern is rapidly spreading among both conservative and progressive circles about Bush administration announced plans -- directly created by the pharmaceutical industry -- to screen each and every American for mental health problems.

The President's New Freedom Commission called for this widespread screening, which is already being put into effect in a number of schools in the US. Adults would also be screened during routine visits to their general practitioner for annual exams and common ailments.

But what if a US citizen says "No!" to mental health screening, for their child or themselves?

In a 21 October 2004 letter in the _Washington Times_, Michael F. Hogan, chair of the President's Commission defended it from charges, saying, "The commission did not call for mandatory universal mental-health screening for all children."

But many in the public are still very concerned. Rep. Ron Paul, a Republican congressperson from Texas, has proposed a bill from the floor of the House on 6 Oct. called "Let Parents Raise Their Kids Act," to try to prevent any coerced screening of children.

And what about adults?

The President's New Freedom Commission did not oppose forced outpatient commitment and other forms of psychiatric coercion being promoted by Dr. Satel.

The fact is the MindFreedom office regularly receives phone calls, e-mail and letters from US citizens who are already under a wide range of coercion in their own homes and out in their own neighborhoods to force them to take psychiatric drugs, drugs that can cause brain damage, addiction and death. While MindFreedom is pro-choice about taking prescribed psychiatric drugs, to be forced to take them is a profound violation of fundamental human rights.

When the President's New Freedom Commission's vision of widespread screening is combined with Dr. Satel's vision of even more "intrusive, highly paternalistic... coercive... involuntary care," we're left with "more of the same" by the mental health system:

A chemical crusade backed up by government coercion.



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