ʞ / essays /

on the Schutzstaffel & American psychiatry

by Lexi Summer Hale

so they're gonna make ICE the new gestapo. i wonder what's gonna become the new SS.

at this point, my money's on the psychiatric system. it's already an unaccountable black hole of abuse, brainwashing, and indefinite detention.

for those of you who don't get how this works, let me tell you a few things about the psychiatric system.

cops have to have some level of evidence or a warrant to arrest you. there are legal safeguards you can, at least in theory, use to retaliate if you're detained arbitrarily.

they have complete discretion to put a psychiatric hold on you, however. you are not entitled to a lawyer. you are not entitled to a speedy trial. you are immediately detained and deposited at the nearest psychiatric hospital.

the hold lasts three days. a doctor can choose to extend the hold as long as they want. you can't protest the initial three-day hold, but after that you can file a request to be released. nobody will tell you that you can do this. it's the job of the Patient Advocate to tell you about your rights and how to use them. nobody will tell you they exist. and even if you already know, good luck getting a meeting.

if you file the request, they'll finally give you a lawyer. you get a court hearing scheduled to convince the judge to free you. presuming the paperwork isn't conveniently lost.

while you're detained, doctors can have you restrained and isolated. they can force any medication they want on you. antipsychotics are frequently used to shut patients down so they can't protest their detention. there is absolutely nothing to stop them from retaliating against you if you petition for release.

your possessions will be taken away. your phone, your clothes, everything. all you get is a hospital gown. if you're a woman, they'll have no problem locking you alone in a room with a male nurse to be sexually harassed (as happened to me) or even assaulted. all contact with your support network, with the people who love you, will be severed.

there is no limit to how long they can extend your detention. the only way out is to file paperwork you won't be told how to file (and that you'll likely be drugged to keep you from being able to file), and hope you're lucky enough to get a judge who'll take your side. the side of an attested crazy person in hospital robes, slack-jawed and drooling from overmedication. the hospital can and will summon throngs of Experts who will declare that you are Mentally Ill And A Danger To Yourself And/Or Others, and why would the judge ever question the wisdom of someone with a medical degree?

most psychiatric prisoners assume the system is there to help them. they're told it's for their own good, that they're not being punished, they're been “treated.” with institutional abuse and chemical lobotomies.

because they trust the system, they're honest. and doctors know exactly what to say to create evidence they can twist into looking like you're “a danger to yourself.” have you ever felt suicidal? you'd kill yourself if they released you. have you ever thought about ways to kill yourself? ten years ago that one time in high school? you are suicidal and you've made a plan to kill yourself.

do you have access to painkillers? have some kitchen knives? you are suicidal and have the means to commit suicide at hand.

have you ever been angry at another person? you're a homicide risk.

they will present everything you say in the most incriminating light possible, stripped of context and exaggerated beyond meaning. and the judge will agree with them and order you locked up indefinitely.

if, somehow, you ever get out of the system, you will then be forced to pay the hospital tens of thousands of dollars for imprisoning and abusing you.

fortunately, of course, you have insurance!

oh wait. your insurance was through your job, and after you went AWOL for a month they fired you. and since your paycheck's stopped, you've been evicted from your apartment. and the landlord seized all your belongings as abandoned goods, as is within their legal rights.

and of course, you now have this all on your medical record. meaning it will be much easier to justify detaining you the next time.

it's also possible that even if you survive all this and talk your way out, you'll still be subjected to “outpatient commitment.” which means you'll be forced to show up and get injected with antipsychotics every so often or you'll be put back inside.

the punchline: if someone gets you committed by lying to 911 and telling them you're suicidal, there is no way for them to be punished. they are entitled to good samaritan immunity. it's unconditional.

so congrats! you've just had your life permanently destroyed with no recourse, and you might be forced to take toxic neuroleptics for as long as you live

these are all things the system already has the legal power to do to you. if it certifies you as crazy, you lose all your rights.

now imagine how much worse things are gonna get under Scheißbannführer Trump

doctors already have massive amounts of trust, respect, and good-will from the public. they're hugely well-paid, so they're all bourgeois already. nobody is really aware this system exists, and when they find out, they don't mind, because they trust doctors not to abuse it. doctors aren't seen as political. so it would be the easiest thing in the world to discredit and punish political adversaries by having them committed.

nobody will care when they expand this system's power, because they never think it'll be used on them. just those dirty, crazy, evil, lazy, drug-addled homeless people. the people everyone in American politics agrees are the scum of the earth.

you couldn't find a more ideal system for torturing and disappearing enemies of the state. like socialists. like homeless people. and drug users. and disabled people. and queer people. unless you found a way to squeeze free labor out of them too. that's probably coming.

so yeah. i think the next Schutzstaffel is going to be built from collaboration between existing LE and doctors with vastly expanded powers (that were already vast and unaccountable to begin with.)

as a bonus, it's also a great way to do a little discreet human experimentation and forced sterilization.