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Re-Threading Madness

One of the sto­ries Rob Wipond has includ­ed in his new book Your Con­sent is Not Required: The Rise in Psy­chi­atric deten­tions, Forced Treat­ment, and Abu­sive Guardian­ships (Ben­Bel­la Books 2023) is about Vince Geisler. I am not going to read it ver­ba­tim but hope to give you a good sense of what hap­pened to Vince. He was a field tech­ni­cian for a Van­cou­ver wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­ny, and he and the human resources direc­tor nev­er got along. Vince was laid off by HR over the phone. After, Geisler did some weld­ing and then went to a neigh­bor­hood shop­ping mall for lunch. In the mean­time, police had deter­mined that Geisler, a hunter, owned guns. When he did­n’t answer the door at his home, they assumed he had bar­ri­cad­ed him­self inside. But that wouldn’t be the only mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion that vic­tim­ized Geisler.

When Geisler exit­ed the mall he saw a van and police offi­cers with guns drawn. Rob writes Accord­ing to police records, the street had been cor­doned off by about ten offi­cers, includ­ing an emer­gency tac­ti­cal team with assault rifles and a sniper. They called Geisler out. He walked over, per­plexed. Geisler was calm and coop­er­a­tive,” stat­ed police records. Police told Geisler that he was being arrest­ed under men­tal health laws, slapped hand­cuffs on him, and loaded him into the van.” Geisler was dumb­found­ed and asked to speak with a lawyer. He would ask sev­er­al more times to do so to no avail.

At the hos­pi­tal, a psy­chi­a­trist asked Geisler how he was feel­ing. He said he was a lit­tle stressed out because he had just been laid off and then basi­cal­ly kid­napped, brought to the hos­pi­tal, and denied a lawyer. He was told that, quote the human resources direc­tor had called the police, alleg­ing that Geisler had said to her, I may as well walk off, put a gun in my mouth, and blow my brains out.’ By his rec­ol­lec­tion, Geisler believed he said, I feel like I’ve been shot.’ His wife told me Geisler some­times used dra­mat­ic lan­guage when upset.” Geisler was asked if he had been feel­ing exces­sive­ly under stress. Geisler denied that and said he didn’t under­stand why the police had arrest­ed him. To which the psy­chi­a­trist not­ed in his file that Geisler appeared lim­it­ed” in his insight” about police con­cerns and per­haps not total­ly truth­ful” about his stress lev­el.” When asked what meds he was on, Geisler list­ed a cou­ple but for­got to men­tion his anti­de­pres­sant used to help with his ADHD. The psy­chi­a­trist clear­ly did­n’t believe him as he wrote, It cer­tain­ly would appear from his pre­scrip­tion of an anti­de­pres­sant that he has been on for some time that he has been depressed and which he has denied. Giv­en his lack of hon­esty and forth- right­ness, for his safe­ty he is being detained.” Detained? 

Geisler was locked in seclu­sion and ordered to change into a hos­pi­tal gown. His wife was not allowed to see him. A lawyer nev­er came. His psy­chi­atric record was stamped inca­pable of appre­ci­at­ing the nature of treat­ment and his need for it.” Iso­lat­ed from the peo­ple in his life, Geisler expressed out­rage at being detained and con­tin­ued to ask for a lawyer. He nev­er saw one. Instead secu­ri­ty guards with a nurse demand­ed he take med­ica­tion which put him to sleep for six­teen hours. He had been giv­en four dif­fer­ent antipsy­chotics and a sedative.

The next morn­ing a sec­ond psy­chi­a­trist saw him and not­ed that Geisler was nei­ther sui­ci­dal or homi­ci­dal and that he had no evi­dence of hav­ing a seri­ous men­tal dis­or­der. Geisler was dis­charged but could­n’t shake the feel­ing of being men­tal­ly raped not­ing that cat­tle have more rights being trans­port­ed to the slaugh­ter­house than a peo­ple do under BC’s Men­tal Health Act. 

Think this doesn’t hap­pen often? Rob Wipond is here to tell us how often this can occur to just about any one of us. 

Rob talks with Berna­dine about the fal­li­ble nature of diag­noses, psy­chi­atric med­ica­tions, and treat­ment along with the inher­ent prob­lems that occur in the men­tal health indus­try that leave psy­chi­atric sur­vivors vic­tim­ized and trapped for a long time.