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The Chemical Straightjacket

By Stephen Owen

Medication is an Art. Although technically billed as a "science", the fine tuning and sensitivity needed by the one who administers or advises the treatment turns it into an Art.

But there the happy words end. Just as there are a lot of bad Artists and few good ones, so many medication systems can be wrong or cruel in mental health.

We've all heard of the Chemical Straightjacket.

Zombies moving around wards with glazed eyes, their limbs in Parkinsonian rigidity, their speech slurred, saliva dribbling from their lips, the tongue churning, the teeth grinding. These are what are called side-effects.

To be put in a chemical straightjacket can be terrifying.

It often makes one want life to end. The mind lives in the body, but if the body is made unbearable, the mind will not want to live, even if it is "cured".

Often drug companies exaggerate the dosages of drugs needed to cure psychosis, severe clinical depression, etc. They do this in their advice to consultants and GPs to sell more of their drugs. Recommended minimum dosages can be higher than necessary, especially in maintenance medications.

Too often doctors and nurses treat the mentally distressed as objects. They are living and feeling human beings. To put people out of touch with their feelings, thoughts and passions as part of a "cure" is cruel. This is what we mean by the Chemical Straightjacket.