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Coercion in Care

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Coercion in Care | Mad In America

Kerstin Ogard

December 13, 2014

Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of forced psychiatry.

I thought I would today write about the subject of coercive measures in psychiatric care. I would like to concentrate on one of these, the forceful injecting of patients, which is often followed by putting patients in isolation.

Patients often refer to this treatment method as “psychiatric rape”. It does resemble the process of being raped, actually. For me, it was the experience of being grabbed by several men, who overpowered me despite my desperate efforts to fight back, and who carried me away to a little room, where they forced me to lie flat on the ground, face downwards. I was screaming and praying for mercy, but they held me down to the ground, and did not speak to me. I could feel them pull down my pants to expose me, and I could feel the needle penetrating my skin. I could feel it twice. I was resisting as hard as I could, and fighting for my life, screaming and crying in overwhelming panic, but I couldn’t escape the situation. The feeling of being overpowered, of being physically violated… I had never been so humiliated, devastated, torn apart, in my whole entire life. No one had ever violated my physical space like that before, and I had never experienced such brutal violence, ever. The shock of it left me in pieces.

After the event the men let go of me, and left me alone. I was lying on the floor crying. They still said nothing. They just closed the door and left me there. I was in there for twelve hours, alone in the torture chamber. A few times some of the men came in, to put down a glass of water. I cried and prayed that they would let me out. They didn’t reply. They didn’t even look me in the eyes.

I hadn’t done anything wrong. I hadn’t been aggressive. I had even taken the medication, those pills that I hated, when ordered to do so. I had just spoken too much. I had spoken too much because I was so scared of this place. I had spoken so much that they could not handle it. So much that it was disturbing them. So much that they could not have their coffeebreak in peace.

It was easier to give me something “relaxing” and put me in the isolation cell. Best for all. Peace and quiet.

In the cell I was alone again, thrown back into the place I’d been twenty-five years earlier. I was seventeen and had gone into a state of euphoric mania, and then psychosis. I was taken to the hospital, where I was injected and put into tiebelts. This physical violence and coercion had caused my mind to disconnect from my body. I’d had to disconnect. There was no other way I could have endured that torture. Now I was back in that memory, that scary place of disconnection. My mind went into a spin, further and further away. I approached catatonia. I was alone. Alone in a limitless space within my head, with no reference points, and no one to help me. Alone.

To this day I do not know how I found my way back. I think it might’ve had something to do with willpower, as I was NOT going to lose myself. I was NOT going to end up like those people who were living indefinitely in the hospital—those “chronic schizophrenics”, as they say. It seemed, to me, that they’d gone into a spin, and hadn’t found their way back. I was going to find my way back, back to myself.

I did. But I have to say that afterwards, I was a little pissed off that I had to do it on my own, without any help. That I was locked up in a tiny cell to go through the battle of getting my life and sanity back alone, just so the people, who were meant to be there to help me, could have their coffee break in peace.

I guess they just don’t understand. I guess that’s why, today, I try to reach them and tell them. Maybe this is part of the reason I came back: I have a message, and it is important.

In the aftermath of a rape, many people are able to access help and support, like trauma therapy. After a psychiatric rape, however, when you try to look for help to heal from the emotional wounds that have been inflicted on you, you get told, “It was done to you for your own good. What we did actually helped you. If you cannot see that, it means you are still sick in your head.”

You know what? I am not sick in my head, just because I am of the opinion that psychiatric rape is deeply traumatising, unethical, and a disgrace for modern psychiatry. I am not sick in my head for doing everything I can so that NOBODY will have to go through what I went through. I made it through those hellish hours, alone in isolation, but I know that there are many people who may disconnect from themselves so much that theynever find their way back again, and spend the rest of their lives in a nightmare of disconnection and confusion. My heart cries when I think about this, and I get angry when I think about how incapable modernday psychiatry is in helping these people.

For me, the trauma of what I experienced in that isolation cell ran so deep that it felt impossible for me to deal with it. I tried, time and time again, but every time it overwhelmed me, I ended back in the hospital…and each time, despite pleas and negotiations for a different kind of care, I was re-raped. I was re-raped five times.

I once spoke about it to a friend of mine, saying, “Well, when you get raped that many times, it starts to feel less bad; you even start to get used to it.” In some weird way the repetition helped me to deal with the difficult, inaccessible trauma I had in me. The trauma of catatonia in isolation was so bad that I’d totally repressed it, as a protective mechanism, for twenty-five years, living a normal life, totally oblivious to what was lurking in the depths of my mind. It all surfaced at the happy event of giving birth to my son. After a few days at the maternity ward in the hospital, some difficult memories started to emerge from my subconscious. I started to remember something. I was approaching the spin, the spin I had totally forgotten about.

Maybe it was inevitable. And in retrospect, I see it was good. The repetitive hospitalisations I was thrown into helped me to uncover the deep trauma that I had.

I didn’t get help from psychiatry to heal from my traumas, though. Instead, I found some other very talented people to help me heal from this deep wound. Naturally, I’d lost all faith in psychiatry; with healthy self-protectiveness, I knew I HAD to stay out of its claws, if I was to have a chance to heal.

I found some highly talented healers who specialised in holistic energy healing, and were knowledgeable in mind-body-spirit healing techniques, which have a far deeper understanding of a person’s psyche than anything I found in modern day psychiatry. With this, I started to heal.

I believe that good psychological health, like physical health (naturally, you cannot separate the two), needs very simple things: proper nutrition, proper sleep, a stress-free environment, loving relationships, and a meaning to life. My healers helped me find all of this, and with their support, I was able to find my own inner strength to heal and overcome my wounds.

Today I am beyond my trauma. I am no longer hurt and bitter. I am just happy and grateful that I made it through my ordeals alive. I naturally don’t need any psychiatric medication, and I am in excellent physical and mental health. I have actually become a healer myself! Today, I help other people go through their own processes of healing, and recover their lives. And you know what? They say I am quite good at it.

Kerstin Ogard

Kerstin is a former psychiatric patient who has been involved in the developement of mental health services in Finland, and has also been devoting time to peer support. She is currently studying to become a life coach, and is interested in energy medicine and holistic healing practices.
 
SomersetScorpio

SomersetScorpio

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Wow, that's so shit and very shocking when you read it.
I'm glad the author has managed to heal somewhat from her experiences. It's just really awful the way some people get treated - it really makes you wonder if we've really progressed much at all.
 
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