Disturbing article by Ted Chabasinski, with links to wider coverage of the subject matter.
This is one more of many examples I have seen recently that disturb me deeply from a person-centred perspective (or one that is ethical, loving, or informed by basic humanity and respect for concepts of human rights). Those examples concern both individuals and parents, who – in circumstances that are highly questionable – have had their knowing of themselves over-ridden by ‘experts’, often on the basis of a few minutes or a few hours cursory acquaintance with the situation, often without any apparent engagement with evidence by said ‘experts’. And the court system – which partakes of the same external locus, hierarchical, ‘expert’-based ways of seeing that permeate our cultures and perpetuate existing power structures – do little to help, and often excacerbate the injustice.
At its heart, this is a political issue: those with power abusing it, and exercising it coercively to impose their agenda on others with less power. As with most abuse, the justification tends to be ‘It’s for your own good/you forced us to take these steps’. There is also the ‘Well, you’re too poor/mad/uneducated/emotional/involved (delete as applicable) to know what’s good for you’ justification, or even ‘YOU’RE the abuser!’ (highly effective, this last one, especially coming from someone with a sheaf of initials after their name or an official title).
Two years ago, I might have taken less interest in this article. Ted would have got my attention, I would not necessarily be blogging on it. But in the last two years, I have encountered first hand the almost unbelievable willingness of individual after individual, ‘professional’ after ‘professional’, institition after institution, authority after authority, to leap on a toxic bandwagon, without asking the obvious questions and without showing any interest in evidence that the case presented is fundamentally flawed (or the multitudinous evidence questioning the motivations and credibility of the attackers). I have witnessed variously, glee at a witch-hunt, preoccupation with processes, procedures, rules, willingness to accept – at least initially – almost any level of ludicrous assertion, backed by no evidence, excessively thin evidence, or evidence which contradicts the assertion.
Justice has been conspicuous by its absence. Indeed, when I use this word, those with the power to make key decisions tend to look askance, as if I am being embarrassing and/or inappropriate in using this language, rather than that of the system.
Fortunately for the person at the centre of our particular storm, he has had a number of people – including me – deeply concerned about the ethical issues raised, and willing to fight for those principles and for him. Without us, his outlook would have been bleak to say the least. With us, and many months on – slow process after slow process – the battle fronts are closing down in our favour. I will write more about this in due course, because it is relevant to these themes and to our service.
It’s been an eye-opener, in terms of how far it now makes sense to me to trust the system, and the level of sanctioned abuse that goes on every day.
And how deeply and urgently we need cultural change.
And how imperative it is that those of us who see this speak out.
Meantime, 15 year old Justina remains forcibly on a psychiatric ward, told this is what’s good for her, and almost certainly forcibly drugged with psychiatric medications (as are most people on such wards). Over the years, I have worked with quite a few people who have had this experience. The consensus? It’s traumatic, toxic, profoundly unhelpful and it can take years to recover. Well, how would you like it?
Lindsey Talbott, Therapist
Palace Gate Counselling Service