Assumptions to be Challenged
•Seclusion and restraints are therapeutic
•Seclusion and restraints keep people safe
•Seclusion and restraints are not meant to be punishment
•Staff know how to recognize potentially violent situations
[Facts About Seclusion and Restraint]
•Seclusion and restraints are not therapeutic. There is actually no evidence-based research that supports the idea that restraints are therapeutic.
•Seclusion and restraints do not keep people safe. The harm is well documented; not only the physical harm, but also the emotional and mental harm. Restraints actually harm and can cause death. Broken bones and cardiopulmonary complications are associated with the use of seclusion and restraint (FDA, 1992; NYS OMH, 1994).
•Even though most staff would say that seclusion and restraints are not used as punishment, 60-75 percent of consumers view it as punishment for refusal to take meds or participate in programs.
•Holzworth and Wills, 1999, conducted research on nurses’ decisions based on clinical cues with respect to patients’ agitation, self-harm, inclinations to assault others, and destruction of property. Nurses agreed only 22 percent of the time on what constituted a violent situation. The longer nurses have worked in mental health positively correlates with greater consistency in determining potentially violent situations.
•In 1998, the Hartford Courant completed a series of investigative reports concerning the use of seclusion and restraints and found an alarming number of deaths. The majority of deaths related to seclusion and restraint are a result of asphyxiation or cardiac-related issues.
•Even more disturbing was that many of the deaths were unreported. Few States require the reporting and investigation of a death in a private or State psychiatric facility. The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that the annual number of deaths range from 50 to 150 per year—which translates into one to three deaths every week (Weiss, 1998)
Term that was to my knowledge coined by CIBRA (Children Injured By Restraints and Aversives) ages ago – IRD (Infinite Regress to Danger):
Autistic child is restrained for a minor incident of non-conforming behavior (ie. gets up from a chair, throws a toy) which panics him and causes him to fight. He is then restrained more forcefully which increases the panic level. A survival instinct accompanied by rage then engulfs the child. Restraint reaches the danger level for the autistic child. He is frequently traumatized, injured or even killed with IRD.
I actually was thinking of it – and about to write about it – in a post that my iPad’s tumblr client just killed and that I can’t at this point be bothered to go back and rewrite and find and everything. Like I don’t have the energy at all for that.
So the original post was talking about the way that people in certain political circles are conditioned to be afraid, by those political circles, and then punished for being afraid, again by those same political circles.
And I instantly recalled the above situation from mental institutions(1).
And I also remembered Erving Goffman describing a similar situation in his book “Asylums”. Where mental patients were given a situation where there were only two big responses to it. Then no matter which response they gave, they were punished for it. So there was no escaping punishment even though the illusion of choice made it seem like there was.
For instance, they used to do a thing. Where they would grab or touch me unawares – knowing that I quite often had a response to this that involved fighting them or struggling. The moment I fought or struggled, they could justify any level of force against me during the takedown. However. Sometimes I not only didn’t, but couldn’t, fight or struggle. For instance, when I was frozen and totally unable to move (which was a state that often provoked them to try and grab me, for some reason). So if I didn’t resist, then I was taken down and restrained “for my own protection” although what exactly immobilizing an already-immobile person was supposed to accomplish or protect me from, I have no idea.
I had no idea, at the time, that no matter what I did I would be punished. I just thought being punished meant I’d done something wrong. So I internalized the idea that I was wrong, at a deep level. And this was incredibly damaging.
Anyway, what I see in a lot of the SJ community is a similar thing – you make people afraid and then punish them for acting like scared people. Regardless of how, exactly, scared people are going to act, which varies of course.
But the way I see it playing out wasn’t actually addressed in the original posts I was replying to. Like, people alluded to it but they never exactly named the situations I was thinking of. But I can’t actually describe the situations I was thinking of either. Like, I’ve talked to friends about it a lot lately. But I can’t pull up those memories or those words or those conversations or anything in my head.
Suffice to say though, if this is happening to you you’re not alone, and if it’s confusing and frustrating at best and crazy making at worst you’re also not alone. People are afraid to talk about it for the reasons people are afraid in general in these situations: People have been more or less systematically made afraid. But lots of people are experiencing it.
Also much of the really vicious SJ behavior seems fear-driven to me. Fear of being the one denounced leads people to try and denounce others first, thinking that will protect them. And it often does. The first person to invoke privilege and/or bigotry in the other person as a reason for their actions, is generally the one who will be believed regardless of the actual situation.
What these things often amount to are just personal fights with a veneer of politics to make them look reasonable to a lot of people. Because in these circles it’s reasonable to yell at someone if there’s a political reason for it. So you make sure to name their privilege – or purported privilege, sometimes – when you yell at them, or name your own oppression. Never mind if they actually share your oppression (and they often do), your accusations will generally stick if you’re the first and/or the person most savvy about how to game these conversations.
And this sort of thing becomes really obvious in situations where the actual privilege situation is murky, unclear, or complicated, so there is no exact correct answer for “Which one of you has the most privilege and which one of you is the most oppressed?” or “Which one of you is technically oppressing the other?” If you want to see what I mean… I have seen many many arguments between trans people where it’s essentially a race to figure out whether the trans woman should be called binarist or the nonbinary person should be called transmisogynist, and the person who said it first did in fact win the argument pretty much all of the time regardless of who seemed to be right or whether there even was a right answer or whether the argument was in fact political at all at its base. And then afterwards, the person successfully denounced can be labeled and treated badly for a very long time, sometimes seemingly forever, even if nobody remembers the exact circumstances under which the denouncement took place.
And we’re supposed to pretend that kind of social ostracism isn’t scary and doesn’t have consequences. And that behavior that comes from fear of that kind of social ostracism is – in fact – grounds for that very same ostracism.
It’s extremely messed up and I wish people would stop it. Especially when it’s not even people in earnest. So much of the time, it’s either people using SJ as a tool to bludgeon people with in personal fights, or it’s people who are terrified of being denounced themselves, leaping on others to try to be the first so that they don’t get hurt as bad. Nothing in that about the ideals that supposedly get people into that stuff, but I think it happens more often than the ideals do.
(1) It’s not limited to autistic people, or children, or ABA, regardless of the original context and wording of the quote. People may be more likely to experience it under those circumstances, but lots of disabled people in lots of situations are put into that position. Note that none of this is an endorsement of any of CIBRA’s broader claims about how the world works, it’s just that they do describe some things really well and at the time I encountered this they were pretty much the only organization visibly fighting certain things that were incredibly important to me.