Thursday, September 23, 2010

See me as a person

Well, week three of clinical at Western State Hospital almost completed.  Today was a pretty interesting time.  My partner and I got to spend some time on one of the admitting wards.  This is where patients may be coming from jail to have their competency evaluated (you know, as in whether or not they are competent to stand trial) or to have their competency restored (to get them medicated and/or through a level of therapy so that they can be competent to stand trial).  We got to sit in on an admission with a patient who very obviously suffered from schizophrenia with paranoia tendencies.  In discussion with the doctor after the admission interview I was able to learn that making them competent to stand trial does not necessarily mean they are symptom free.  The gentleman we spoke with today suffers from delusions, but he can tell right from wrong and is able to be coherent to time place and person.  Doctor thinks he already is competent to stand trial, and admittedly he is sticking with his medication routine (which is very hard to have done when they get sent back to jail apparently). The more time we spend there we learn more and more about how the justice system really fucks with those that are truly severely mentally ill, how they can spend long periods of times being evaluated only to never possibly stand trial, be sent out into the community with little to no resources (lack of funding don't you know) and with some of them highly likely to not stay on their meds....sometimes it is no wonder they re-offend.  Now, I am in no way shape or form condoning unlawful behavior by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes there are truly people who have such a high degree of mental illness that they have no idea.  I have seen these people suffering their sentences through therapy and medication, understanding now, only when it is too late, what they have done.  I wish the system could have helped them sooner.
No song to leave with today, kind of a serious subject I suppose.  But two quotes, one of which I do not know the author of but I have often seen at one of my medical clinics "See me not as a mental illness, but first as a person".
From Ever After, 1998, "If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded, sire, but that you first make thieves and then punish them? "

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