Tuesday, July 22, 2014



A few days ago, I opened up my email to find I had been copied on an email sent out by Mary Annecelli of Winston-Salem, NC (a longtime advocate) to about 30 legislators and other people in the mental health arena in North Carolina.  I was copied because she had sent a copy of my poem When Even the Devil Deserts You to them and a link to a page on Project Dream Again’s website.  I was honored, but I doubt that very many if any of the legislators read what she sent them.  Legislators don’t listen.

I use this to illustrate how hard people try to get their legislators to listen to them on mental health issues.  However, I predict that the committee in Virginia that has been given birth by the tragedy in Sen. Creigh Deeds’, D-Bath County, family will not listen just like I do not think the legislators in North Carolina read what Mary Annecelli sent them. 

The committee in Virginia is called The Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century.  The following is a quote I found on www.roanoke.com. “Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, one of 12 legislators on the subcommittee, hopes the panel’s work over the next four years will put Virginia at the forefront of states’ efforts to improve how they treat people who are mentally ill.”

They will not meet the goal because they are starting with the premise if you just lock up more people sooner then the system will be better.  Also, they are using folks from the Treatment Advocacy Center as their experts which means forced treatment will be reinforced in the minds of the committee by the experts they have chosen.

This business of me getting too sick to know what is good for me and the state and the system having to step in and act in my best interest is just plain nonsense.  Edward M. Podvoll, M.D. wrote in The Seduction of Madness about there being “islands of clarity” in every episode of madness and maybe many periods of lucidity during a psychotic episode depending on the length of the episode.  There have been many places around the world including here in this country where a locked unit was not the response to madness and people came out just fine.

I have been on the streets more times than I care to remember and can’t remember what happened during all of them.  When I knew I was going mad/manic, I went away to be free.  Even when I ended up in a Salvation Army center in Brooklyn and was ganged raped, I was freer than I would have been locked away on a psych unit. (Please read the preceding sentence again and think about it.)

Whoever reads this needs to try to place themselves in the shoes of a person locked up without committing a crime and not knowing when they will get out.  Why would anyone ever trust a system that would do that?  How can they build a system that will be at the “forefront” if the system can’t be trusted?

© Ed Cooper, July 22, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee   
    All rights reserved 

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