Friday, December 2, 2011

Human Rights as a Mental Patient - What about informed consent?

What actually happened to Mark Taylor the miracle boy who survived being shot at the Columbine High School? Mark showed great strength of character to go through rehabilitation after his shooting and also great psychological resilience of spirit. Mark Taylor's recovery required multiple surgeries, an initial hospital stay of two months and the anguish of having tubes thrust down his throat and tubes placed in his side. ”The horror of what I went through in the hospital, I can’t even put in words,” said Taylor, who was shot by Eric Harris on April 20, 1999 during the Columbine High School shooting.

Mark Taylor like many other victims of trauma had to fight back against the odds; it was a long journey of physical rehabilitation as well as spiritual journey that took him from shock to understanding. Mark chose to write a book about his experiences which highlighted the importance of his Christian faith and his own pathway to forgiveness and understanding. He has forgiven shooters Harris and Dylan Klebold and their families. He has talked to gang members and Vietnam veterans about forgiveness.

See the following website:

Mark was a citizen whistleblower against the dangers of antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs. During the rigorous process of discovery prior to the legal battle with Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Mark Taylor was able to expose many dangerous truths about the pharmaceutical industry’s fraud against the American public. The pharmaceutical industry does not take kindly to this kind of exposure of their deeper secrets. Thus Mark Taylor and his mother, Donna Mae Taylor, were targeted with anonymous violence, surveillance, harassment, petty crimes, entrapment schemes and even a mysterious methane gas leak that forced Mark’s brother to seek medical care out of the state. During all this Mark was courageous and continuing to move forward with his life and sell his book.

Many of the other Columbine victims/survivors settled with the pharmaceutical company after threats that the lawsuit would ruin them financially. Mark and his mother experience continuing retaliation, threats of counter law suits, intimidation, surveillance and other forms of bullying behavior against Mark Taylor and his family. This is presumed to be intended to cause him to drop his law suit and to cease his public advocacy against antidepressants, SSRI medications and other psychotropic drugs.

In 2009 Mark Taylor was continuing to heal from his trauma and trying to continue to move forward with his life and sell his book, he was involved in television and radio show appearances and many book signings. Mark was told that he is accused of writing a letter that he would bomb a bookstore in Colorado Springs. He protests he is innocent of those accusations and that they are not true. He and his mother have no idea who started this hostile gossip.

Those with negative intent can often use the powerful mental health law to their advantage. Those wishing to silence Mark’s advocacy against the pharmaceutical drugs were suspected of being behind this fabricated allegation. Mark denies the truth of these accusations, but Mark is still grabbed by the police and put in 72 hours mental health hold in the hospital. So all it took was someone stating something and his freedom was lost, his right to face his accuser denied and his right to due process ignored. In addition he is denied his liberty and even his right to decide his own fate and medical care. He is held in incognito detention and his family is not allowed to see him for some time. During this time, those in charge of his captivity clearly get power over him – physically, emotionally, psychologically and legally. Mark is drugged against his consent, and held for a month and then let go with outpatient care but forced to take medications. Mark is then under the medical community’s monitoring and control. So suddenly Mark Taylor who has never had any due process, is not accused of any crime is now being forcibly drugged against his consent with lifelong consequences for him.

Doctors are very much influenced by what the pharmaceutical companies advertising states about these psychiatric medications. When facing a charge of mental illness, the patient is rarely believed and accusations against him readily believed. Then after that incident Mark Taylor’s mother reports that he was just walking in his neighborhood and he is suddenly confronted with police who drag him off on false pretenses that he was acting weird and they incarcerate him in a mental facility. He was admitted to the hospital. While there the mental health professionals decide to forcibly drug him with psychotropic medications without his informed consent and again refuse to let him for some time to communicate with his family. He finally was released as an outpatient but only after addicting him to psychotropic medications. Many who saw Mark prior to these hospitalizations remarked that Mark Taylor had resilience and had come a long way in his recovery. But with the use of powerful mind altering drugs, Mark slips into a state of incapacity. The very effects of the drugs make it less possible for Mark to express himself and to assert his rights as a human person. These drugs themselves cause a disruption in the ability to think. After his hospitalization the effects of the drugging on him are clearly evident. (See the video above)

In all these decisions Mark himself is not respected for what his own wishes were in regards to psychiatric medications - his views were very well known to all who heard him speak publicly and who read his book, “I Asked, God Answered … a Columbine miracle.” The medical professionals have not discussed or really explained the treatment to the family and continue to down play the very visible side effects of the drugs. Decisions about Mark's care were made by the doctors with no consultation with the family or even Mark himself. Donna Taylor continues to be concerned if Mark stays on these medications for a very long time there’s a increased risk of developing an irreversible behavioral and physical conditions.

Continued treatment with psychiatric drugs will cause significant effects and many do not realize how these powerful mind altering drugs affect patients. These psychiatric drugs block receptors in the brain and cause a decrease the flow of dopamine and serotonin - both neurotransmitters. This is why patients develop symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease and get tired easily and move more slowly. Patients often show problems with speaking – getting the words out and also being able to think clearly and gather their thoughts.

These are the effects of the drugs themselves:

1. Psychomotor effects – muscles slowing, body not moving so well
2. Emotional indifference - not being emotionally responsive / not caring, apathy, lack of initiative, limited range of emotion,
3. Reduced initiative – not showing interest in initiating activity
4. Slowing of thought
5. Tremors
6. Difficulty eating and talking
7. Memory impairment
8. Not being able to sit still, pacing

These are not symptoms of the underlying disease - these are caused by the drugs themselves.

Thus the very effects of the drugs make it less possible for any patient to express himself and to assert his rights as a human person. These drugs themselves cause a disruption in the ability to think. High enough doses over a long period of time of many of these medications makes people quite depressed. Thus a cyclic drugging can get started with ever increasing symptoms of the drugs themselves which causes the treatment team to keep adding drug upon drug to manage the actual effects of the medications.

Mark's mother objects to the continued administration of even stronger drugs to Mark, drugs with more adverse effects that dull his mind, prevent his speech and slow his movements. She believes that he should be carefully weaned off these drugs and allowed to consider other options for mental health treatment.

Mark Taylor and his mother were staying with friends when one day Mark starts to experience an adverse effect of the very medication he was forced to take.

Mark was observed by a friend to have a short blacking out period and to be feeling these serotonin related side effects which were directly caused by the medication and his prescribed decreased dosage (caused by decreased levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin). This friend called an ambulance and Mark was admitted to the hospital – suffering from SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome – a side effect of his psychiatric medication.

Tapering off very, very, very slowly has proven the safest and most effective method of withdrawal of psychiatric medications. When discontinuing or withdrawing from a psychiatric medication that affects the brains serotonin level, a dangerous situation can occur a condition called the "SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome." When serotonergic activity dramatically decreases because the neurons aren't able to communicate properly with each other anymore. As a result of this decreased serotonergic activity, side-effects occur. Sometimes these side-effects are reported by the patient as feeling like electric shocks, zaps or shivers in the head (brain) or sometimes like “pins and needles” in the skin or like a light flickering in his/her head. These symptoms are sometimes so severe that the patient feels confused or like on the verge of blacking out or losing consciousness. These sensory disturbances may make the patient feel very confused and may involve short periods of short-term memory loss or absences. These absences are actually petit mal seizures which may be invisible to the observer and not recognized as epileptic activity.

This is an effect of the withdrawal of the prescribed drug itself - not a symptom of mental illness. It is caused by the drug.

Then the terrible tragedy of the downward spiral of more and more medication, more dangerous drugs until finally Mark was at one point according to his mother, in a coma. While all this psychiatric drugging was going on, his family was refused regular access to him and he was totally in the power of the doctors who were able to charge $700/day for his basic care and even more for treatment and diagnostics. This meant that the hospital bill was surely over a hundred thousand dollars and probably much higher.

Currently Donna Taylor is fighting for her son’s human right to not be drugged against his consent for a condition he may not even have. Mark regularly tells her that he does not want to take these medications but the doctors ignore his pleas for them to take him off or at least reduce the dosage. Donna Taylor is struggling against an entrenched mental health system where all the power lies with the hospital and the doctors and where there is little effort to respect the human rights of the patient or to honor the right of Donna Taylor as the legal guardian.

So let us review what the World Health Organization has to say about Mental Health rights.

World Health Organization’s Ten Basic Principles of Mental Health.

1. Promotion of mental health and prevention of mental disorders
2. Access to basic mental health care
3. Mental health assessments in accordance with internationally accepted principles
4. Provision of least restrictive type of mental health care
5. Self-determination
6. Right to be assisted in the exercise of self-determination
7. Availability of review procedure
8. Automatic periodical review mechanism
9. Qualified decision-maker
10. Respect of the rule of law

Everyone should benefit from the best possible measures to promote their mental well-being and to prevent mental disorders. This includes: 1) mental health promotion efforts 2) mental health prevention efforts.

Mental health care should be quality care that preserves the dignity of the patient allowing patients to cope by themselves and providing clinical and non-clinical care and a system of care that is affordable and equitable as well as accessible. Mental health care should be available on a voluntary basis.

Mental health assessments should be done in accordance with internationally accepted principles and should include: 1) diagnosis 2) choice of treatment 3) determination of competence 4) determination that someone may cause harm to self or others due to a mental disorder. They should only be done for purposes directly related to mental illness or consequences of mental illness.

The health care provided should be the least restrictive and should consider: 1) the disorder 2) available treatments 3) the person’s level of autonomy 4) the person’s acceptance and cooperation 5) the potential that harm be caused to self or others.

Community based treatment should be made available and institution-based treatments should be provided in the least restrictive environment. (Restraints should be strictly of limited duration only 4 hours for physical restraint and all restraints should be documented).

Consent is required. This includes all diagnostic procedures, medical treatment, drugs, electroconvulsive therapy and irreversible surgery and also any curtailment of liberty. Consent must also keep in mind the culture and the advice of family or friends. Consent should be free of undue influence and be informed. To be informed means to be accurately given enough information to understand the disadvantages, risks, alternatives, expected results and side effects of any treatment.

The designation of a surrogate decision maker should be made only in occasional instances and that person is empowered to make decisions in the patient’s behalf.

Persons have the right to be assisted in the exercise of self-determination if they have difficulties in general knowledge, ability to speak or other problem resulting from disability.

Mental health decisions are open to review at the request of interested parties including the person involved and should be done in a timely fashion. The patient should not be prevented to access review on the basis of his or her health status. The patient should be given an opportunity to be heard in person.

There also should be an automatic periodic review mechanism for all decisions that involve the integrity and or liberty of the person (treatment or hospitalization). These reviews should be conducted every 6 months by an official qualified decision maker. The decision making body should be more than one person and best if they are from different relevant disciplines.

A judge or other official decision maker such as a surrogate or guardian should be:
1) Competent 2) Knowledgeable 3) Independent 4) Impartial

There should be respect for the rule of law which can include the constitution, international case law, international agreements, regulations, laws, orders and decrees. The law should be accessible and understandable.

No comments: