That is the headline from the newspaper “Politiken” in Denmark. The dark cloud of our past seems to never pass away. For many year Denmark used ECT as our primare tool in treatment mental illness. Still to this day the use of ECT is more widespread than in most countries.
Lobotomy was also used widespread. About 4500 underwent this kind of “treatment” between 1939 and 1983 where it was finally outlawed. 1983!!! I was shocked to learn how few years ago we stopped this barbaric torture. Some claim that the fact that we have stopped the surgery, we are still medicating people to achieve the same result.
Treatment mental illness has always been difficult. We tend to accept that a broken bone is fine. We can see the cast. It is a little more difficult with the human mind. You cannot see what is wrong. We often wonder if a person is drunk, lazy or on drugs, when we see a person struggle with himself.
We don’t like to talk about it. Then we have all the cases where unruly teenagers vandalize our cities or even kill people. Cases where the right medication would have prevented it but where the family, the school and even pals are slow to talk about this issue and afraid to label the youth.
We have police shooting mentally ill people because they have to react when they are attacked.
It all comes down to the basic question:
Are we allowed to react against the wish of a person for his or her own good dispite the fact that this person does not recognize his or her illness?
In Denmark we have to take this matter before court before treatment can start. The court have to decide whether the person in question are in no position to decide if treatment is needed.
There should be no exception!!
Then I noticed that the Danish Television Station TV2 are about to broadcast the first Danish edition of the american TV-show Intervention. A long-time alcoholic is confronted by his family. It is either rehab or being cut off.
I think that they show lack of respect for this man. What is it Dr. Phil is saying? “You can not deal with a problem you dont acknowledge”. That is simple and while Dr. Phil doesn’t always follow his own advice as we saw it with poor Amanda Bien, it is correct.
Now when we are talking rehab what can Denmark offer when you are in need and acknowledge your own problems?
Answer: You can be placed with a couple of Christian extremists!
While our government doesn’t acknowledge the fact is that our treatment industry has been taken over by some religious people who would be ready to strap a bomb belt around their waste if they have lived in the middle east, the fact is that we have given up and are ready to pay such people a lot of money to treat problems in our society we really don’t like to hear about.
What can I say about our readyness to just pay for solving or hiding problems rather than addressing them in the open?
We never learn!