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Author Topic: What Is YOUR Opinion?
Strawberry Red
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I'm not sure if this is the right place for this...but I would like to know if anyone could help me out with a college problem.

In my Abnormal Psychology class, we are supposed to ask a couple of people how they feel about this:
Do you think that patients in a mental hospital (who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder) have the right to refuse medications or not? Please explain why you feel the way you do.

Thanks everyone!


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Daydreamer24
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I don't agree with that. I would think (and hope) that these patients are being forced to take their medication.

It's for their own good. What's the point of having them in a hospital if they're not going to take their medicine?

My sister is bi-polar and my dad is manic depressive and it would scare me to death if I knew they weren't taking their medicine. It scares me to death whenever my Dad slips and forgets. He yells at us and is just a totally different person.

[This message has been edited by Daydreamer24 (edited 01-31-2002).]


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Confused boy
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Its a question that no one should reasonably give an absolute answer to. It depends how bad their mental disorder is, how much it impedes their basic decision making, whether they are a threat to themselves or others.

I would agree that serious cases obviously need medication even if force is necessary. But if you apply this to every patient you may end up in the position that some mental hospitals and homes for the elderly in this country produce. If no one keeps an eye on their techniques of treating patients they may pump every patient with drugs just to keep them docile and not actually bother treating the underlying problems. It is an awful lot easier and cheaper to use drugs to control patients than to have more (expensive) staff treating them. So it is very tempting to cut corners in this way, to the detriment of the patients' future.

Also remember that different syndrome are classified as mental disorders in different societies. Homosexuality has been considered a mental disorder and still is on some countries. Schizophrenia (my spelling fails me) has been considered an idiosyncracy present in many leaders (there is evidence Julius Caesar suffered from it).

Besides that there is simple eccentricity... when is someone just different and when is someone insane?

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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rekling
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let's also not forget that not everyone in a mental hospital is there voluntarily, and that not everyone there is *actually* mentally ill.

my intro psych textbook talked about an experiment in which a few people "faked" mental illness (byt claiming ot have all the symptoms, and acting accordingly) and checked themselves (voluntarily) into a mental hospital. once there, they started acting "normal" again, but were not allowed to leave because the hospital still saw them as mentally ill. meanwhile, all the other patients believed them, and wondered what kind of undercover mission they were on.

i have friends who have been forced into hospitalization who do not need to be on medication (are fine without it, or prefer to use therapy to deal with their disorders).

its a dangerous situation when you don't give people the right to refuse medication...mental institutions are noted, in the recent past, for some pretty grusome, non-consensual procedures...

my rambling two-cents.

-rek


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Lynne
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Should patients be able to refuse medication? Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. It's their body and their mind, and if they choose to remain screwed up, their choice should be honored. I very firmly believe that people should have the right to be self-governing (as long as they're not using that to interfere with somebody else's self-governence). Forcing somebody to put something in their body (that will alter their mental state, no less) is an absolutely huge violation of that.

The one exception I'd make is if a lack of medication would directly cause the person to be a danger to others. See my above comment about not interfering with others' ability to self-govern.

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LilBlueSmurf
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I think if one is that far into their mental illness, they're not full capable of making the choice to remain "screwed up" or not. That's when it should be up to the family members who are somewhat sane, not the hospital.

As for my opinion ... I think i have to agree w/ confusedboy, in that it would depend on the severity of the illness. I was in the hospital for 10 days for depression, and i really didn't have a choice if i was going to take my medication ... It was given to me and the nurse would watch me until she was sure it had gone into my tummy. I still think that i was the least ill on that floor, but that didn't matter to anyone. I was put in involuntarily and i was there until they said i could leave.

Once out of the hospital, it was also not my choice to take my meds ... My mother made me or told me to leave her house. I only took them for so long, then began to hate her for it and moved out. And guess what? I'm now on Prozac. But it was my choice to do so and that's what makes it okay for me.

I think as long as a persons illness isn't affecting other people, in that they need someone to care for them constantly and make sure they're not going to kill themselves or wonder off somewhere and forget where they're going, the choice to take medication should be up to the person supposed to take it.


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Confused boy
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There is nothing clinically wrong with many sorts of depression since it is often induced by environmental factors (relationships, work etc). Its hard to draw a line between those who are "depressed" and those who are just unhappy.

You must respect people's right to be miserable!


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lemming
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Confused, a great deal of distinction is normally made of 'situational' depression and the clinical sort.

I agree with you as most people would, that situational depression is a normal, healthy reaction to many things, like loss (of a person, or a pet, or a job or possession, or even of one's own health). Usually people aren't institutionalized for situational depression; it's when the depression is NOT consistent with a 'normal' reaction that it's really an abnormality.

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~lemming, Scarleteen Advocate

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"The best-looking boys are taken, the best-looking girls are staying inside. So, Judy, where does that leave you, walking the streets from morning till night?" --Belle and Sebastian, "Judy and the Dream of Horses"


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PoetgirlNY
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I was involuntarily in a mental hospital for 21 days, and it was the absolutely most miserable time of my life. Of course I was forced to take medication, all of which was uneccesary, much of which I later learned was completely uncalled for. I was depressed, not trying to hurt myself or anyone else, and they put me on anti-depressants, in addition to which they added on Depakot, which is usually given to people who are bipolar, which I'm not, and they wanted to put me on Risperdol which is an anti-psychotic that basically turns you into a vegetable. I've never been even slightly arguably psychotic. The hospital policy seemed to be that they fill you with drugs and let you leave when your insurance runs out or your parents make enough of a fuss. My parents aren't exactly going to make a fuss about my not being at home with them, so I was there way way way too long.

I chose to take my medication as directed while I was there, because I was too depressed to bother not listening. I did know that other people there wouldn't taket their medication. And it is definitely pretty easy to make it look like you swallowed them, I did it once just to see if I could. But I did indeed put up a fight when they wanted to put me on the anti-psychotic. Ugh, mental hospitals suck. As soon as I got out of the hospital, I stopped taking the medication.

I don't think that anyone should ever be forced to take medication under any circumstances. It is a violation of a basic human right to be forced to put things into your body that you don't want. Even if someone doesn't know what's going on around them, their wishes should be respected.

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"I'll be a Venus on a chocolate clamshell rising on a sea of marshmallow foam."
-Hedwig


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by PoetgirlNY:
I was involuntarily in a mental hospital for 21 days...

Out of curiosity, how on earth did you get in there for 21 days against your will? By law, you are only allowed to be committed against your will for 72 hours (5150 W.I.C.). Did your parents remit you to the custody of the mental ward, or were you placed there by a police officer or school counselor or something? I'm just confused because 21 days definitely sounds like a long, frightening time...and goes against established US law as well, unless it was your parents who put you there.

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PoetgirlNY
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Well, originally I was put in against my will because I attempted suicide. I guess my parents remitted me to the custody of the hospital, but all I know is that I wasn't allowed to leave. Believe me, I was definitely in any way consenting to being there.

I think part of what happened is that you can legally leave after 72 hours I guess, but it's Against Medical Advice. My school said that I couldn't come back if I left the hospital AMA. I actually had to not be let go when I was okay in order to not get kicked out of school.

Those 21 days were the longest and most frightening time of my life. To add to the normal terrible mental hospital experience, the staff was terribly homophobic, and I sorta got caught making out with my female roomate (I know, terrible idea, but it was the only human contact I could get at the time). They were convinced that I was a drug addict, which I'm definitely not, and they thought that my "vegetarianism" was just an attempt on my part to disguise an eating disorder, so I was penalized for not eating. Wow, there were a thousand more terrible things about being there, but it was such a horrific time of my life that I don't really want to write about it anymore, but you get the idea. Seriously people, unless you actually think it will help you (and I can't actually imagine it helping anyone) stay the heck away from mental hospitals if you can at all manage it.

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"I'll be a Venus on a chocolate clamshell rising on a sea of marshmallow foam."
-Hedwig


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Dude_who_writes
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As a general rule, I have a problem with generalizations, and that's what I see here. Inheriently, I totally agree with Poet (there's a shocker ):

quote:
I don't think that anyone should ever be forced to take medication under any circumstances. It is a violation of a basic human right to be forced to put things into your body that you don't want.

But, I think that that too is also a generalization. I think that yes, in certain situations, under a strict set of criteria, people within a mental institution should not be allowed to refuse medical treatment.

But, I have a problem with a broad-sweeping rule that says, "Well, you're in a mental hospital, so you're obviously crazy, and you need to be medicated." Let's face it: some of the reasons that people are put in mental hospitals/institutions for are just hokey. While I haven't done extensive research on it yet (hey, I'm getting there), I do know that up until 1974, homosexuality was listed in the DSM as a mental disorder. So, essentially, under the idea that anyone who's in a mental institution shouldn't be allowed to refuse treatment, many of the members here at Scarleteen could have been institutionalized up until 1974 and pumped full of meds against their will. I have a problem with that. Situational ethics is key.

While I think I may have gone off on a few tangents there, I think I got my point across. If not, I'm sure somebody will be willing to wack me upside the head with a pan or something.

[Edited for clarity]
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Tim, Scarleteen Advocate

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Jane knows Connie; she doesn't care to know Dick.

[This message has been edited by Dude_who_writes (edited 02-01-2002).]


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by PoetgirlNY:
Well, originally I was put in against my will because I attempted suicide. I guess my parents remitted me to the custody of the hospital, but all I know is that I wasn't allowed to leave...

Aahh, I see, thanks for clarifying. Horrible as it is, it makes more sense now. Per 5150 WIC, you can be committed if you are a danger to yourself, a danger to others, or "gravely disabled." The suicide attempt would count you in on that first one, and then since you were not of legal age yet, your parents could have ordered you held in the mental ward. Seems screwy to me, and most definitely frightening, but the picture is at least a lot clearer now.

When I was about 14 or 15, I used to have a recurring nightmare. I was put into a mental ward with a bunch of smiling and cheerful nurses. After a few days I grew lonely in there and wanted to leave. But every time I'd take a nurse aside and say, "I'm not crazy, really!, she would just smile and nod, "I know, sweetie" and wouldn't let me out. That dream haunted me for years, and to this day I am still uncomfortable with the concept of being held against your will in a place where nobody believes you when you swear you're sane.

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Confused boy
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quote:
Originally posted by lemming:
Confused, a great deal of distinction is normally made of 'situational' depression and the clinical sort.

I agree with you as most people would, that situational depression is a normal, healthy reaction to many things, like loss (of a person, or a pet, or a job or possession, or even of one's own health). Usually people aren't institutionalized for situational depression; it's when the depression is NOT consistent with a 'normal' reaction that it's really an abnormality.


Well then you have the problem of defining apart situational depression from clinical depression. What if someone is naturally depressed and only happy on occasions. That is a reasonable way to live if they are "happy" with that.

And of course, its not just situations in your own life but you might be made depressed by learning of terrible things happening just about anywhere or even nad things happening in fiction (Eastenders -a soap opera over here- is particularly depressing for its many addicted watchers). It is very hard to decide what is a genuinely "abnormal" reaction to the situation around you.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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lemming
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Confused, from the DSM-IV:

quote:
"Periods of sadness are inherent aspects of the human experience. These periods should not be diagnosed as a Major Depressive Episode unless criteria are met for severity (i.e., five out of nine symptoms), duration (i.e., most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks), and clinically significant distress or impairment." (page 326)

Also in the DSM, from the Criteria for Major Depressive Episode:

quote:
"E. The symptoms are not better accounted for by Bereavement, i.e., after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer than 2 months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation." (page 327)

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~lemming, Scarleteen Advocate

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"The best-looking boys are taken, the best-looking girls are staying inside. So, Judy, where does that leave you, walking the streets from morning till night?" --Belle and Sebastian, "Judy and the Dream of Horses"


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Confused boy
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Ah yes but even if they do fulfill those criteria of clinical depression, should they still have medication forced upon them or should more criteria be filled to make it mandatory?
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Munchy
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I remember that "faking" study, too, Rekling. I thought that was most interesting. Confused Boy had a point when he said that some patients hould be forced and others shouldn't, but in an institution like a mental hospital, they pretty much have to make blanket policies for the place to run smoothly (right, Heather? ). Things like that can't be done on a case by case basis, just like not posting email addresses. Has to be one rule for everyone or the whole system falls apart. (Not knocking or being sarcastic about Heather's rules, just pointing out a valid example. And crossing my fingers that no one "hears a tone" in my post.) And Lemming beat me to the DSM-IV. Ah, well, maybe someday I'll find a use for my BA and MA in psych...

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Dude_who_writes
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I have to disagree with you, Munchy. The only reason that "blanket policies" make things run smoothly is because they remove the time it takes to determine things on a case-by-case basis. When it comes to laws in society or guidelines for boards, then yes, I can understand the necessity for broad-sweeping rules to make sure that the need for equality is met. However, in situations involving your health, then I think blanket policies are the worst way to go. No two people are the same, and therefore, no to people's conditions are the same, particularly when it relates to something as complex as the brain and mental condition. That's my take on the subject, anyway.

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Tim

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killer_raincoat
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i think it all depends on their mental state.

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"Everybody thinks i'm such a horrible person, but i have the heart of a little boy. In a jar. On my desk." -Stephen King


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Strawberry Red
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I just thought I'd step in here and thank everyone for their opinions. I always know where to come when I need a variety of thoughts from different people.

Thanks again and again, I greatly appreciate it!

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