At the Forefront of Medicine: My Summer Involuntary Hospitalization

By Cassidy Wilson: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Editor’s Note: This piece is a personal account of the author’s experience with UChicago Medicine. Maroon editors have verified key details of the account, including the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD)’s intervention at the author’s address, the author’s stays in various psychiatric facilities, and that the author communicated with friends and family while hospitalized about their experience and with the University following their hospitalization.

ngd-The disclaimer is necessary because of the stigma surrounding sever mental illness and the false perception that all mental health supports are provided with kindness…

Our culture conditions us to keep quiet about mental health interventions and the trauma that can co-occur with those experiences. Due to both the stigma about people who receive mental health interventions and misconceptions about us, there is very little conversation around how the mental healthcare system itself can be traumatizing even as it claims to be a system of care. When survivors do speak up, we take a risk. There seems to be a drastic mismatch between the narrative that people have about what psychiatric interventions are like and the reality. There is very little visibility for psychiatric survivors, and as such, people have a narrow conception of who we are. This allows a narrative of medical benevolence to be upheld because people who have survived traumatic psychiatric intervention are dismissed by virtue of the stigma around their experience.

In June 2021, I was committed to UChicago Medicine’s psychiatric ward against my will. As I discussed this experience with others—including those who work in the mental health field—I was often met with surprise. My experiences did not fit with their expectations because they assumed that psychiatric facilities help patients rather than hurt them. From the moment the UCPD came to my door, I knew that what followed would not be care. I study neuroscience and human rights in the College, with a particular focus on psychiatric ethics and pedagogies of pathologization. I have read extensively on these topics, so I know that the psychiatric system too often harms the patients it purports to help. Even knowing the lengths to which these institutions go to protect themselves at a cost to patients, I still felt dehumanized by what occurred, and I left in a worse mental state than I arrived.

Nothing that happened was illegal or against institutional rules. Even when everyone does their jobs in a psychiatric setting, these systems of so-called “care” are not designed to administer life-bettering interventions for patients because the need to protect practitioners and institutions from liability gets in the way.

Here is my story.

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