Comment Archives: Stories: Today

Re: “Sanity on Trial

Wow, how did this story escape my radar! Now long retired, I feel like it reads to the core of my early professional roles in the mental health field. First as a psychiatric technician then as a psychiatric social worker at Atascadero State Hospital. Later my career included a stint with CONREP delivering outpatient treatment to and supervision of released patients in the community. I have written numerous reports to judges, voiced my clinical opinion on numerous occasions regarding a clients readiness to re-enter society, testified in courts throughout the state, and even made risk assessments and decisions in part based on review of thousands of individual rap sheets while working for the State of California.

The story as printed seems extremely factual to the process although I must admit it has been several decades since I worked in the mental health field and have not kept current on the most recent changes in law. Some of my earliest occasions to visit Eureka in the late 1980s came about in my role of interviewing prisoners in the HC Jail prior to writing CONREP evaluations to the Superior Court re: those inmates suitability for community treatment.

Heres what I learned then and what I believe now. First, people with mental health issues can clear their mind of symptoms obvious to others in society by taking prescribed psychotropic medication. The extra-pyramidal symptoms associated with taking them leave most almost universally loathe to continuing them when not supervised. Second, when supervised to ensure they do take psychotropic medication their psychotic symptomology abates. When they feel better, they rarely attribute their improvement to the medication. Rather, they see their improvement as evidence they are symptom free and dont require medication any longer. The fallacy in that thinking is they fail to realize/connect to the fact that the only reason they can think more clearly is because of the medication, not some divine healing that has miraculously occurred.

Rap sheets are notoriously incomplete and renown to have omissions of arrest and/or convictions on them. I have also read past studies regarding reliability of certain groups of individuals to make an accurate prediction as to whether persons with a history of mental illness will re-offend. The ones I remember showed that a group of citizens picked at random off the street could predict recidivism with as much accuracy as could a clinical treatment team consisting of therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists. That would be the same clinical treatment team that would have working knowledge of all facets of the patients history and background as well as benefit of prolonged observation of behaviors in the inpatient setting.

One of the most trusted and seemingly recovered (from symptoms of psychosis and effects of a personality disorder) patients I knew and observed over a course of treatment bludgeoned to death a non-clinician maintenance supervisor with a hammer at Atascadero more than twenty-five years ago. It is the only staff murder on record at that institution over the past 40 years that Im aware of. (More than one patient has been killed, however.) Assaults against staff members holding many different job titles are rampant there to the point of being a daily occurrence. More than 1,000 men in that maximum-security level institution are treated under constant 24-hour supervision by staff of multiple disciplines working three shifts around the clock to ensure order and a therapeutic milieu. Many patients, ironically, are there as transfers from the Department of Corrections because, in addition to their criminality, they are psychotic too. In others words, Corrections is sent by the courts those who are bad (only). The Department of Mental Health gets them when they are both bad and become mad.

It is in this surreal, crowded, male only, maximally secure imitation of civilized society that patients under constant supervision and monitored medication compliance are evaluated for their suitability to be released to the community. My sincere belief born from years of clinical experience / exposure to patients within both in and outpatient treatment settings is that the most accurate predictor of future behavior comes from ones history of same.

Posted by Phil Braun on 01/22/2017 at 8:20 PM

Re: “Six Years and Counting

I am a neighbor and when I look at this house I cry. If he is unable to control what happens in his property or do appropriate repairs, he should give it up.

Posted by Emily Rowe on 01/22/2017 at 3:42 PM

Re: “Largest March in Eureka History

Truth: I'm with ya sista and it's not you or the marchers my comment was really directed to. It's the women who didn't vote for Hilary that could have swung the election. It is they I hope are never complacent again...


WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT 1/22/17
Trump on march: Why didn't these people vote?
President Trump tweeted his reaction to the historic Women's Marches Saturday. NBC's Jane Timm discusses.

Posted by Phil Braun on 01/22/2017 at 3:17 PM

Re: “Atmospheric River

I love it!

Posted by Simona Carini on 01/22/2017 at 1:56 PM

Re: “Largest March in Eureka History

Phil Braun we've been awake a LONG time, guess you just didn't notice. That's what the patriarchy does. Refuse to see and listen. Most women have Not been complacent, but most men haven't been listening.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Truth on 01/22/2017 at 11:17 AM

Re: “Largest March in Eureka History

I love to see that women have finally awoken the f _ _ _ up! Can't believe their power didn't carry the electoral college while deciding the popular vote. Never complacent again!

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Phil Braun on 01/22/2017 at 10:19 AM

Re: “Elder Abuse Case Against Timber Ridge Yields $5 Million Verdict

The owner and management are very unprofessional and unethical. Many horrible experiences have happened at Timber Ridge, both assisted living and Alzheimer's care. I hope more people will speak out about their experiences at Timber Ridge and they are held accountable or close their doors. Pay your staff and caregivers a decent wage and provide them the ongoing support and training they need. If not, there will be more lawsuits and our community will not stand for it. The fragile elderly deserve better! We will all be elderly one day, think about it, how do you want to be treated. No more excuses and lies from the top down. Keep speaking out if you worked there or had a family member there!

Posted by speakout on 01/22/2017 at 1:56 AM

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