Alien Space Dust Took My Friend – A True Story

 

Part I – 1989

It was a chilly Californian December night and one could feel the barometer dropping in anticipation of an incoming rainstorm. The cloudy sky wasn’t visible as a thick fog had settled in, reflecting the street lights in a curious burnt-orange glow. Less than a month from the turn of the decade, our group of True Gentlemen gathered outside the beloved House discussing the assigned tasks from that evening’s humdrum meeting. Random jibes, insults, and jokes were the norm and each would give as good as they got. I looked for Mark who was uncharacteristically silent most of the night, seemingly not interested in anything we had to say. He stood silently alone some 20 feet away, head angled upward, eyeballing the foggy ceiling. Mark and I were very close. We pledged together a few years earlier and our shared adventures had formed a bond closer than many blood brothers would ever know. I walked over to him, and asked, “what’s up?” I noticed his eyes bulging out of his head. He stood stoicly, unblinking, a lit but long-ashed cigarette in his fingers, mouth agape, and staring into the marshy sky.

“Hey … Dude, are you ok?” No response. “Mark?”

Without moving his head and barely moving his mouth, he whispered in his deep baritone voice “I can taste it. Can’t you?”

Well, that was weird. “Um, what?”

Still looking up he continued “The dust. I taste it. They want to get it into our brains. I can taste it, Daaave. They say it’s for medflies, but it’s not. It’s the aliens. And they made the dust just small enough to get into our brain, Daaave.”

Incorrectly, I figured I knew what was going on. Southern California was dealing with a potential agricultural and economic crisis — the Mediterranean fruit fly. In response, Los Angeles County was sending crop dusters to spray malathion pesticide over residential neighborhoods to kill the fruit flies. Door knockers, local news alerts, and public service announcements warned people to cover their cars because malathion could ruin paint. But not to worry folks, it’s safe for people. Everyone was on edge. There was a constant drumbeat of public health worries in local media, protests at city hall (by seemingly normal folks), and concerned whispers at the water cooler (this was before internet). Tonight they were flying planes, but supposedly not in our section of the city.

“Mark, you’re worried about the malathion? They’re nowhere near us, not tonight anyways.”

Still looking up, he replied. “Daave, they say it’s safe. Of course they say that, so you don’t worry. And you don’t worry Daaave. Nobody worries because you all believe them. They say it’s for the flies. They got you. You all probably have the alien dust in you now. And now it will grow in your brain. So you don’t worry, Daaave. It’s already too late for you.”

As I started thinking he must have done some hallucinogenic drugs, he turned his head to me and his bulging Marty Feldman eyes looked deep into mine. I had never seen him look like this, and it was unnerving. And then, as if someone clicked a switch his face turned pale white.

“Daave, they got you didn’t they. Daaave. Daaave, they got you!

Suddenly he lunged at me, raised both his hands to grab my throat and started to squeeze … hard.

I grabbed his wrists, threw them down and shoved his chest pushing him away from me.

“Mark! Hey! Dude, what are you doing?”

With what I can only compare to Donald Sutherland’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers face, he stepped backward while pointing at me “They got you!” His psychodrama was real. His fear was authentic. Veins were now popping from his pale temples and he was consumed with terror. In turn, I felt his paranoia and it scared me to my core.

Then he pivoted sideways, like he was defending a basketball player, ran toward the side of the house and disappeared.

I yelled to my buddies who had also seen what just happened, “Mark’s in trouble!” and I ran after him with the guys in tow.

We hustled to the front of the house and then into the road, looking both ways. The dark reddish/orange fog was almost pea-soup thick. I couldn’t see Mark or even the house across the street. It was quiet and I was trying to hear any footsteps that would suggest he was running in one direction or another.

Then the silence of the fog was broken by the last sound I wanted Mark to hear; the turboprop of a small plane in the distance … but getting louder.

Mark was gone. We ran to our cars and each went in different directions looking for him, calling his name out the windows into the chilly night. We didn’t know what to do. I stopped at a payphone and called his parents asking them to call me if he went home. I felt bad for probably scaring them, but I was desperate. It was a very long night driving around in the fog and whatever poison we were inhaling under the buzz of the occasional crop dusters. We just wanted to find our friend.

The next morning, the phone rang at my apartment. It was Mark’s mom who told me he was picked up by police six miles from the house and after a long night at the station he was admitted to a psychiatric lockdown facility. Later that evening our band of brothers was allowed to visit him. We joined him on bolted-down industrial furniture under bright fluorescent lights. We tried to make small talk, but he didn’t respond. So we sat silently watching him stare into space. We quickly realized it wasn’t him, just the catatonic body my friend once inhabited.

He was at the beginning of a battery of tests to determine what was happening. His mother pulled me to the side and solemnly said, “he is having violent tendencies … extremely violent. I was shocked what they told me he said to the staff. They had to … slow him down.” She didn’t explain what that meant, or what he did and said to the staff, but she continued. “They seem to think it could be schizophrenia”.

The drive home from the psychiatric hospital was brutal. The five of us, all friends to this day, each silently replayed the previous 24 hours in our heads. My buddy Rob, probably the most alpha in the group, broke down in tears in my front seat.

Several weeks later Mark was officially diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Just months before graduation his life was forever diverted. He left university, our house, and by never returning calls, he removed himself from our lives.

Part II – 2017

When yet another lone gunman shoots up a movie theater, workplace, school, or nightclub, we need to know the reason. How could someone commit such a heinous act? Who was the gunman? Was it coordinated and with whom? Why?

Within three-Mississippi of hearing about the horror show, many, including myself, tacitly hope there’s a clear link to Islamism. First, that makes it easier to comprehend, making sense of a senseless act. Then it would validate our protective Second Amendment sensibilities from the imminent and ubiquitous group of gun control advocates about to take over the media, while it would also confirm our worldview that the weak policies of past eight years yielded such a catastrophe.

Conversely, some will not so tacitly hope that the shooter was a white Christian, Aryan-sympathizing, Gadsden-flagged troglodyte whose Facebook profile is filled with Trump, David Duke, and hateful memes about brown gay people. Trifecta!

After the President makes a speech, when the politicians quit pandering and celebrities stop condescending, all sides eventually go back to their respective corners and not much, if anything, really changes.

However in recent years, more are questioning policy and budgets relating to mental health as Health and Human Services reports “incidents of violence continue to highlight a crisis in America’s mental health system.” On one side, mental health advocates are quick to suggest that there are a very low number of violent crimes within the mentally ill community. That is true. On the other side, however, the frequency of “lone wolves” who are diagnosed with some form of mental illness is not something we can deny. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “reports suggest that up to 60% of perpetrators of mass shootings in the United States since 1970 displayed symptoms including acute paranoia, delusions, and depression before committing their crimes.”

After each horrific shooting, politicians make a lot of noise about increasing funds to treat mental health, yet HHS’s mental health budgets have essentially remained the same for years. But recently we’re starting to see a relatively small modicum of action. In 2015/16 the Obama administration implemented the Now is the Time initiative which “invests $151 million to make sure students and young adults get treatment for mental health and opioid addiction. These efforts will reach 750,000 young people every year through programs that promote mental health through identifying mental illness early and creating a clear pathway to treatment for those in need, including through additional outreach and training for those who work with youth.”

As discussions about “extreme vetting” of immigrants are daily headlines, shouldn’t we also set the same standard by applying our resources to locate potential internal threats? Wouldn’t partnerships with therapeutic communities working in alliance with the FBI streamline and make the prevention of future massacres more efficient?

As free market advocates, we can debate the role of a centralized government in financing these national health issues, but there is no arguing there is a need to provide treatment for this often overlooked and volatile population.

Case in point: Recent mass shootings that killed innocents and ruined the lives of many more survivors were perpetuated by individuals with a history of severe mental health issues who had either gone undiagnosed, unreported, or untreated. Would these programs have prevented Seung-Hui Cho, University of Virginia; Jiverly Wong, Binghamton, NY; Maj. Nidal Hasan, Fort Hood, TX; Jared Loughner, Tucson, AZ; James Holmes, Aurora, CO; Adam Lanza, Newtown, CT; Aaron Alexis, Washington Navy Yard, VA; and Dylan Roof, Charleston, SC?

Subsequent to their respective mass murders, several were diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In many cases, the signs were there before the killings. It is in those cases that, whether financed by local or federal agencies, the complex relationship between violence, mental health, and gun rights must be addressed.

Facts about schizophrenia:

Many wrongly assume this is a psychological disorder. It isn’t. Schizophrenia is a physical disease like cancer or Alzheimer’s. MRI tests show significant brain function changes of those who are diagnosed. According to the schizophrenia advocacy group SARDAA:

  • Schizophrenia can be found in approximately 1.1% of the world’s population, regardless of racial, ethnic or economic background.
  • Approximately 3.5 million people in the United States are diagnosed with schizophrenia and it is one of the leading causes of disability.
  • Three-quarters of persons with schizophrenia develop the illness between 16 and 25 years of age.
  • The disorder is at least partially genetic.
  • To be diagnosed as having schizophrenia, one must have associated symptoms for at least six months.
  • Studies have indicated that 25% of those having schizophrenia recover completely, 50% are improved over a 10-year period, and 25% do not improve over time.
  • Treatment and other economic costs due to schizophrenia are enormous, estimated between $32.5 and $65 billion annually.
  • Between one-third and one-half of all homeless adults have schizophrenia.
  • 50% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have received no treatment.

Mark did not hurt anyone, but his delusions and paranoia harbored violent tendencies, which if left alone could have ended tragically. While Mark’s story occurred almost three decades ago, there has been little improvement in preventing the disease. Schizophrenia is still not curable, but for many, it’s manageable.

Mark now works in the television industry. He has relatively few friends, is not married, and has no kids. The disease makes such relationships out of reach for many. Yet he manages. Still requiring medication, his life is as normal as one can hope, short of a full recovery. He isn’t the same guy I spent countless hours skiing, going to concerts, and hanging out with in college. I miss that guy and can only imagine what his life could have been.

(Names altered for privacy.)

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Members have made 40 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Profile photo of PHCheese Member

    I have told this story before on Ricochet. I had a customer in Wheeling WV. He had a trusted right hand man who opened his business everyday. He had been doing this many years. One day he didn’t show. No call, no nothing. He showed the next day and this was his story. He was traveling south on I 79 and got beamed up by an alien spacecraft. Although my customer did not fire him and tried to help he never worked again. He lost everything including his home and family. He died homeless living under a bridge. I can’t say if he was sick or actually got beamed up. He never changed his version of what happened.

    • #1
    • February 2, 2017 at 4:35 pm
    • LikeLike
  2. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    Once lone wolf becomes plural, there’s an issue that needs addressing, whether mental health or terrorism. Why can everyone spot patterns except those who’ve made themselves responsible for dealing with the issue?

    • #2
    • February 2, 2017 at 4:36 pm
    • LikeLike
  3. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Poignant article Dave. I’ve dealt with hundreds of schizophrenics and have a couple milder cases in my practice . Family and other support networks plus financial resources substantially aid in better outcomes. The best drugs are priced beyond affordability but even if they were cheap the compliance aspects are difficult. People who need anti-psychotics have no business owning firearms.

    • #3
    • February 2, 2017 at 4:39 pm
    • LikeLike
  4. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    This is a gross story so don’t read it if you have a weak stomach.

    One day on the neuro ward a nurse asked me to inspect the genitals of an old man who claimed that his jumbly bits were hurting. The nurse neglected to tell me he was psychotic. I walked over to the bed and said hi. The man reached out and grabbed my crotch, exclaiming,“you’re one of them!“, while strongly, painfully squeezing me. I slapped his hand away and had some nurses in the room to help me examine him later. He had a brutal bloom of tinea cruris aka jock itch. Somehow in his delusional mind he thought the nurses were tying rubber bands around the private parts of all the men to make said privates fall off as one might do to a farm animal or a male cat’s testicles. I was more bothered emotionally by his assessment of what he grabbed rather than physically from the 20 seconds of pain from his assault.

    • #4
    • February 2, 2017 at 4:48 pm
    • LikeLike
  5. Profile photo of Melissa Praemonitus Member

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Poignant article Dave. I’ve dealt with hundreds of schizophrenics and have a couple milder cases in my practice . Family and other support networks plus financial resources substantially aid in better outcomes. The best drugs are priced beyond affordability but even if they were cheap the compliance aspects are difficult. People who need anti-psychotics have no business owning firearms.

    The problem of course is that for gun ownership and even concealed carry, self-reporting a mental issue doesn’t work very well. I’m not aware of the laws regarding this state-to-state, but I imagine that creating a national database that identifies people with psychiatric problems might discourage people from getting treatment too.

    • #5
    • February 2, 2017 at 4:55 pm
    • LikeLike
  6. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Melissa Praemonitus (View Comment):

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Poignant article Dave. I’ve dealt with hundreds of schizophrenics and have a couple milder cases in my practice . Family and other support networks plus financial resources substantially aid in better outcomes. The best drugs are priced beyond affordability but even if they were cheap the compliance aspects are difficult. People who need anti-psychotics have no business owning firearms.

    The problem of course is that for gun ownership and even concealed carry, self-reporting a mental issue doesn’t work very well. I’m not aware of the laws regarding this state-to-state, but I imagine that creating a national database that identifies people with psychiatric problems might discourage people from getting treatment too.

    That’s the big dilemma, especially for combat vets.

    • #6
    • February 2, 2017 at 4:58 pm
    • LikeLike
  7. Profile photo of Melissa Praemonitus Member

    Beautifully written, Dave. A boy I went to school with died after many years of riding around our home town on a bike festooned with bits and pieces of junk he had picked out of garbage bins. It was his daily habit to visit a local donut store and sit behind the dumpster, feeding the birds. Known locally as the “bird man” he was a fixture as well known as the high school we attended.

    I remember thinking how it would have been nicer for him to be institutionalized, rather than taking occasional abuse from local bullies or half-freezing by that dumpster in January weather.

    He’d been married once, but when the disease set in, she couldn’t stay. I have no idea if he was receiving professional care, only that the state subsidized his apartment, and he was found 3 or 4 days after he passed from a heart attack.

    • #7
    • February 2, 2017 at 5:13 pm
    • LikeLike
  8. Profile photo of Fitz Inactive

    Beautifully written and the imagery is some your best. I appreciate how you tied the story from your youth into the issues we face today. This kind of storytelling works well for someone like me. 🙂

    • #8
    • February 2, 2017 at 5:43 pm
    • LikeLike
  9. Profile photo of Chris Campion Thatcher

    DocJay (View Comment):
    This is a gross story so don’t read it if you have a weak stomach.

    One day on the neuro ward a nurse asked me to inspect the genitals of an old man who claimed that his jumbly bits were hurting. The nurse neglected to tell me he was psychotic. I walked over to the bed and said hi. The man reached out and grabbed my crotch, exclaiming,“you’re one of them!“, while strongly, painfully squeezing me. I slapped his hand away and had some nurses in the room to help me examine him later. He had a brutal bloom of tinea cruris aka jock itch. Somehow in his delusional mind he thought the nurses were tying rubber bands around the private parts of all the men to make said privates fall off as one might do to a farm animal or a male cat’s testicles. I was more bothered emotionally by his assessment of what he grabbed rather than physically from the 20 seconds of pain from his assault.

    This is really disappointing as a genital-grabbing story, Doc.

    • #9
    • February 2, 2017 at 5:58 pm
    • LikeLike
  10. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Chris Campion (View Comment):

    DocJay (View Comment):

    This is really disappointing as a genital-grabbing story, Doc.

    Well it’s not trumped up at least.

    • #10
    • February 2, 2017 at 6:03 pm
    • LikeLike
  11. Profile photo of Blondie Thatcher

    This is such a sad story, Dave. I was talking to a nurse the other day that works in a correctional facility. Somehow we got onto this subject. She relayed the information of how many psychiatric patients are in the prison system mostly because we have no other place for them. Obviously they have committed some crime to land them there, but that is not really where they need to be, is it? Has it really helped by closing inpatient facilities and “mainstreaming” them? These are not easy questions to ask and there are not easy answers. Of course by the end of our conversation we had solved all the worlds problems. Ha!

    • #11
    • February 2, 2017 at 6:04 pm
    • LikeLike
  12. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    In addition to homicides there’s the other issue with weapons, suicide. When a teenage boy does himself in and you get a 2 am phone call from the cops I can tell you first hand it’s a horrible experience as a doc. Obviously there are always ways to do oneself in but unlocked weapons are a poor choice in risky households.

    • #12
    • February 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm
    • LikeLike
  13. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Thatcher

    Heart-rending and soul-searing, Dave…One can feel the love and sorrow in it…Thanks.

    • #13
    • February 2, 2017 at 6:23 pm
    • LikeLike
  14. Profile photo of Kay of MT Inactive

    http://www.sociology.org/content/vol003.004/thomas.html

    A paper on the why of closing of mental hospitals and a discussion at the end.

    • #14
    • February 2, 2017 at 7:10 pm
    • LikeLike
  15. Profile photo of RightAngles Member

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):
    Heart-rending and soul-searing, Dave…One can feel the love and sorrow in it…Thanks.

    My thoughts exactly.

    • #15
    • February 2, 2017 at 7:19 pm
    • LikeLike
  16. Profile photo of Trink Reagan

    I hesitated to leave a comment. This is such a disturbing post. As Nanda said above, it’s ” heart-rending and soul-searing . ..” Your account of that evening when Mark stared into the night is poignantly riveting. Paranoid schizophrenia is no longer just a medical term in my dictionary.

    • #16
    • February 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm
    • LikeLike
  17. Profile photo of Ontheleftcoast Member

    Thank you for posting this. Among the potential physical causes: gluten intolerance. We usually think of this in terms of celiac disease:

    one large U.S.-based study found that 1% of non-Hispanic whites had celiac disease [CD,] compared with 0.2% of non-Hispanic blacks and 0.3% of Hispanics.

    Another study found very high rates of celiac — around 3% — among people with South Indian (Punjab) ancestry, and low rates in those with East Asian, South Indian, and Hispanic ancestry. People with Jewish and Middle Eastern ancestry had rates of celiac disease that were about average for the U.S., but those with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry had higher rates of celiac, while those with Sephardic Jewish ancestry had lower rates.

    The overall U.S. incidence of CD is about 1 in 133. Somewhere around 10-15% of them have gluten encephalopathy or peripheral nerve neuropathy or both. Let’s call it 1 in 1000 people whose antibodies to gluten are attacking their nervous systems. In one text not behind the paywall, reputable authors present evidence that for every 7 patients sent to gastroenterologists and subsequently diagnosed with celiac, two will be sent to neurologists and then diagnosed with CD… but about of neuropsychiatric patients whose illness is ultimately determined to be celiac have no gastrointestinal symptoms.

    There are also people with neuropsychiatric symptoms and antibodies to gliadin who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

    [continued]

    • #17
    • February 2, 2017 at 7:41 pm
    • LikeLike
  18. Profile photo of Ontheleftcoast Member

    In a paper published last year,

     In this investigation, we aimed to determine whether particular GM genotypes were associated with susceptibility to schizophrenia. Using a matched case-control study design, we analyzed DNA samples from 798 subjects-398 patients with schizophrenia and 400 controls-obtained from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health Repository. GM alleles were determined by the TaqMan(®) genotyping assay. The GM 3/3; 23-/23- genotype was highly significantly associated with susceptibility to schizophrenia (p = 0.0002). Subjects with this genotype were over three times (OR 3.4; 95 % CI 1.7-6.7) as likely to develop schizophrenia as those without this genotype. Our results show that immunoglobulin GM genes are risk factors for the development of schizophrenia…

    OK. Can a gluten free diet help? Maybe. Sometimes.

    Seven clinical trials have been conducted to test the assertion that a gluten-free diet (GFD) may improve remission of schizophrenia symptomatology. These early studies had mixed results because they included schizophrenia patients not tested for antibodies (reviewed in Kalaydjian et al., 2006). However, there are cases of gluten removal and complete resolution of schizophrenia symptoms (Jansson et al., 1984; De Santis et al., 1997; Kraft and Westman, 2009).

    I’ll conclude with a book plug: Clayton Cramer’s My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill. Cramer is a historian whose brother developed paranoid schizophrenia in early adulthood.

    • #18
    • February 2, 2017 at 7:46 pm
    • LikeLike
  19. Profile photo of Ontheleftcoast Member

    Two recurring thoughts from this story: “There but for the grace of G-d…”

    And, for those lucky few whose gluten free diets helped:

    Every disease is a kind of purgatory. The physician should know this and bear it in mind, lest he presume to determine in advance the time of recovery or the efficacy of his remedies; for this lies solely in God’s hands. If Providence has decided otherwise than you physicians intend, you will not be able to cure the patient by any remedy. But if the hour of Providence has struck, you will succeed in curing him. Note that if a patient comes to you and recovers through your remedy, God has sent him to you; but if he does not recover, he was not sent by God. Only when the hour of recovery strikes, for the patient, does God send him to the physician, not before. All this who go to Him before go in vain… God has created remedies against the diseases and He has also created they physician; but He holds them back until the hour predestined for the patient.

    Paracelsus, Sämtliche Werke Sudhoff, K and Matthiessen, W eds. I 1:227; cited in Paracelsus: Selected Writings Jolanda Jacobi ed. Bollingen Series XXVIII p 81

    Note that Paracelsus does not counsel physicians not to try.

    • #19
    • February 2, 2017 at 8:25 pm
    • LikeLike
  20. Profile photo of Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman Post author

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Poignant article Dave. I’ve dealt with hundreds of schizophrenics and have a couple milder cases in my practice . Family and other support networks plus financial resources substantially aid in better outcomes. The best drugs are priced beyond affordability but even if they were cheap the compliance aspects are difficult. People who need anti-psychotics have no business owning firearms.

    This. But as subsequent comments to this suggest, it’s extremely complicated. As mentioned in the OP, many of the lone wolf gunmen had indications of mental health problems but were neither diagnosed or treated.

    How do we not disincentivize patients from seeking treatment?

    • #20
    • February 2, 2017 at 8:51 pm
    • LikeLike
  21. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor

    Thanks for sharing this tragic story, Dave. It’s a reminder of how many lives–not just the victims– are influenced or damaged by these illnesses.

    • #21
    • February 2, 2017 at 10:59 pm
    • LikeLike
  22. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Thatcher

    Trink (View Comment):
    I hesitated to leave a comment. This is such a disturbing post. As Nanda said above, it’s ” heart-rending and soul-searing . ..” Your account of that evening when Dave stared into the night is poignantly riveting. Paranoid schizophrenia is no longer just a medical term in my dictionary.

    @trink, you may want to reread; our friend, Dave, is writing about his friend, Mark, being mesmerized by something only he saw in the night sky.

    • #22
    • February 2, 2017 at 11:06 pm
    • LikeLike
  23. Profile photo of Ontheleftcoast Member

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    How do we not disincentivize patients from seeking treatment?

    I used to know a guy who was in a psychology grad program. He was a landscape contractor but was looking to change to a less physical occupation. Smart guy, and a bit of a character. At one point, he was marketing lawn installations and had business cards which said he was the Marquis de Sod. He had a competitor who called his business Rake’s Progress.

    Anyway. One of his clinical placements was with a nearby county and one of the patients assigned to him was a schizophrenic woman. She couldn’t really take care of herself, had hallucinations, the whole bit. Her meds kept her much more stable and functional, but she kept going off her meds. He asked her why. She said “I don’t like what they do to my mind.”

    • #23
    • February 2, 2017 at 11:20 pm
    • LikeLike
  24. Profile photo of Trink Reagan

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Trink (View Comment):
    I hesitated to leave a comment. This is such a disturbing post. As Nanda said above, it’s ” heart-rending and soul-searing . ..” Your account of that evening when Dave stared into the night is poignantly riveting. Paranoid schizophrenia is no longer just a medical term in my dictionary.

    @trink, you may want to reread; our friend, Dave, is writing about his friend, Mark, being mesmerized by something only he saw in the night sky.

    Thanks Nanda. On my way to correct.

    • #24
    • February 3, 2017 at 5:50 am
    • LikeLike
  25. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    How do we not disincentivize patients from seeking treatment?

    This is getting better as the medications get better.

    But the fundamental issue is convincing someone that his or her thoughts are unreal and not trustworthy. Imagine seeing a car accident occur in front you and having someone next to you say that you’re not seeing it.

    One thing that is proving successful is prescribing Klonopin, which is an antianxiety drug, along with the antipsychotics. The Klonopin is key here because it helps to reduce the fear and anxiety, ultimately helping patients get some much-needed sleep. The problem with the Klonopin is that it impairs memory after a while, and it is highly highly addictive. But at least the patients get something out of accepting care they need: the Klonopin.

    My biggest complaint with psychiatrists is that they keep trying to talk the patients into accepting this treatment when the patients don’t think there’s anything wrong and don’t believe they need it. It is a deep fault in the field of psychiatry. And on this, the psychiatrists are as rigid in their thinking as their patients are in theirs.

    The day is coming when a functional magnetic resonance image (fMRI) will give us a picture of a brain flooded with dopamine. We will treat it more like a broken leg than some romantic/scary mental illness.

    • #25
    • February 3, 2017 at 9:58 am
    • LikeLike
  26. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    I have to add a postscript to what I wrote in comment 25:

    For many patients, antipsychotics are a godsend and way to live a somewhat normal life.

    But they are very potent and dangerous drugs. I wouldn’t take one for all the tea in China. And my biggest fear is that they are being used way too much out there, and that’s partly the fault of the drug companies by expanding the diagnosis they are used to treat to things that they are not really designed for.

    All of the psych meds are dangerous drugs. People are right to fear them and avoid them. I love the movement to give kids a cup of coffee instead of Ritalin. It’s working for a lot of kids.

    And if a doctor is prescribing psych meds, then care has to be prescribed too. That poor woman who was on antipsychotics who was left alone to care for four children and who ultimately drowned them was the victim of an irresponsible psychiatrist. Psychiatrists need to realize that someone who is sick enough for them prescribe these medicines is so sick that he or she should not be driving, operating heavy equipment, or left alone with children to care for.

    Too many of these mass shootings have been done by people under the care of psychiatrists. I want the investigation to start there, not with the patient. Something is very wrong in the medical treatment for the severely mentally ill.

    • #26
    • February 3, 2017 at 10:53 am
    • LikeLike
  27. Profile photo of Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman Post author

    Kay of MT (View Comment):
    http://www.sociology.org/content/vol003.004/thomas.html

    A paper on the why of closing of mental hospitals and a discussion at the end.

    Finally got a chance to read it. Thanks for sharing @kayofmt.

    “Reagan’s social policy is best seen as an abdication. Reagan’s economic policy was to adjust government regulation so that it favored business once again, and social policy was merely an outgrowth of this larger issue. — All in all, business interests were served. Families and doctors were appeased. Patients were forgotten.”

    The article was thorough and well sourced. However, as mentioned in the OP I am not convinced this can be solved with federal largesse. We know that public facilities assembly-line patients, in many cases put them on a standardized regimen of pills that may or may not work and then clear the beds asap. It is those patients that are more likely to return to the streets and their disorders. The difference in quality between publicly funded and private treatment centers is gargantuan. But only those with means can be admitted to the latter.

    *FYI My first career was in mental health. My undergrad degree was in psychology and I was tracking toward a PhD while working in therapeutic communities. While it’s been almost a quarter century, so there’s much I don’t know, I do remember the financial constraints the hospitals suffered. Three of the places I worked didn’t survive the 90’s, 2 were private and 1 was public funded (where we dealt with indigents).

    Mental health care has always taken a back seat in regards to federal budget priorities. This has always been so. Hopefully, in light of the seeming increase of massacres politicians will ensure that, however the ACA is to be restructured, mental health insurance and prevention is considered more of a priority. I would love to see some form of hybrid between private and public insurance which could ultimately increase care across the board.

    • #27
    • February 3, 2017 at 12:43 pm
    • LikeLike
  28. Profile photo of Ontheleftcoast Member

    @kayofmt, that paper was highly tendentious. Clayton Cramer’s work is at least as well researched and much more judicious:

     The Dilemma of Mental Commitments in California, a 1966 study that led to Lanterman-Petris-Short, promised that “state hospitals as we know them, will no longer exist.” California’s pressing fiscal problems certainly played a part in LPS’s passage, as did the support of Governor Ronald Reagan — although Reagan supported expansion of the community mental health system as a necessary companion to LPS. The political ambitions of members of the lower house’s Subcommittee on Mental Health Services were also a factor. Having successfully reformed how the state cared for the mentally retarded (and this was a system in need of reform), they introduced similar progressive reforms for the mentally ill.

    My mother was at one of her MSW field placements at the time. She remembers meetings where psychiatrists spoke glowingly of community mental health centers where schizophrenics and others institutionalized because they couldn’t take care of themselves would come to get their meds and receive psychotherapy. My mother thought the psychiatrists were delusional. My stepfather, z”l, an experienced psychiatrist, said when the state mental hospitals were closed: “They’ll be on our streets and in the parks.”

    Reagan took the expert advice, community mental health has historically been underfunded, and Reagan gets the blame.

    Pharaoh took his experts’ advice during the plagues, and what did he get? More frogs.

    • #28
    • February 3, 2017 at 1:52 pm
    • LikeLike
  29. Profile photo of Kay of MT Inactive

    I have never forgiven Ronald Reagan for dumping our mentally ill on the streets. I was working in L.A. County Social Services at the time.Reagan was so positive there would be no bad consequences, “Why, their families will pick them up and take them home. No need for government funded mental health facilities.” Thousands of them didn’t have any families, Some of the retarded couldn’t help themselves either. Our offices was flooded with applicants trying to get help for an elderly parent, or sibling and were terrified for the safety of their children. It was a total fiasco, and Reagan walked off whistling in the night.

    He pulled similar stunts with CA public schools which were nearly at the top of good public schools to down near the bottom. Couldn’t believe the people would vote for him to be president, but they did. Then when he became president he pulled the same stunt with the Veterans. Sorry, I’m one of the few who do not believe he was the greatest presidents ever!

    • #29
    • February 3, 2017 at 5:40 pm
    • LikeLike
  30. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    Kay of MT (View Comment):
    Then when he became president he pulled the same stunt with the Veterans.

    Wow, Kay. I agree.

    I was looking after my uncle, who at the time was in a Veterans Administration hospital, and Reagan cut off the $25 allowance my uncle had been getting from the VA once a month for spending money. I have never forgiven Reagan for that.

    Small world.

    • #30
    • February 3, 2017 at 6:03 pm
    • LikeLike
  1. 1
  2. 2