A Porn Star May Be Our Last Hope

By Dr David Laing Dawson

The Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII), and Germany’s vice chancellor, Franz von Papen, formally signed a concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich on July 20, 1933.

Hitler had been appointed Chancellor in January of that year.

But this Concordat was just one of the incremental events that opened the door for a criminal dictatorship to evolve and unleash the worst of human potentials.

Trump is not Hitler. Hitler harboured some extreme ideologies and hatreds from the beginning. Trump’s ideology is Trump. America in 2018 is not Germany in 1933. But, like Hitler, Trump is systematically undermining the safeguards of democracy.

Today Trump does not need an agreement with the Vatican to stay away from politics. But he does need, just as Hitler needed Papen, the generals, and the aristocrats – he does need the leaders of the Republican party to treat him like a useful idiot, to faun over him, to excuse him, to believe they are merely using him to achieve their own goals and maintain their power.

Trump has rendered the fourth estate powerless. Any one of their reported scandals and satires might have unseated a politician years ago. But today it all feels like a reality TV show, and thus more entertaining than consequential.

So we are left with an independent judiciary and independent law enforcement. But now it appears we are entering the end game.

I have described Trump as mentally and emotionally about 14. He says he is a “stable genius”. I would dispute the “stable” qualifier, but he just might be a genius, an evil genius, an evil genius with the emotional stability, cognitive apparatus, and vocabulary of a 14 year old. His methods, be they accidental or planned, of commanding the news cycles, provoking others to do his dirty work, testing the waters (“Maybe we should kill the drug dealers”), sewing the seeds of distraction, sewing rumours, bold lies repeated and repeated, and first killing off the ground support of any major impediment – this may be narcissistic and sociopathic, but it is clever.

And now, one of his few major obstacles is Mueller. Nunes, Fox and Friends have been kicking at Mueller’s shins. And now Trump, unfettered, is attacking him directly. There is talk of a “constitutional crisis” if Mueller is fired. But it seems to me it will only be a crisis if the Republican party and the judiciary object.

Our last hope may be Stormy Daniels. God speed Stormy, bring this monster down.


In Memory of an Exceptional Advocate

By Marvin RossCarolyn-Dobbins-1517838422

In her life that was cut too short, Dr Carolyn Dobbins has had a tremendous positive influence on those with serious mental illness and their families thanks in part to her book What A Life Can Be: One Therapist’s Take on Schizoaffective Disorder. Carolyn passed away suddenly at the age of 57 in February at her home in Knoxville, TN

Carolyn had schizoaffective disorder and wrote her book to try to give people a better understanding of that disease. Her book is written in a very unique style as a series of therapy sessions between a therapist and a patient. Initially, she did not want anyone to know that she, herself, had this affliction but I convinced her to “come out of the closet” and she did. By doing so, the impact of what she wrote was much greater.

Carolyn was an alpine skier who could have made the US Olympic team competing at the Lake Placid games had she not become ill. Despite her struggles, she graduated from the University of Utah, did a PhD in psychology at Vanderbilt and worked as a director of an addiction centre in Branson, MO for 12 years and then went into private practice. At one point, she lived in her car during her undergraduate years and was involuntarily committed while doing her PhD. In fact, she was discharged from a mental hospital and then went straight to Vanderbilt to defend her doctoral thesis.

Christina Bruni who writes a blog on serious mental illness and is the author of Left of the Dial: A Memoir of Schizophrenia, Recovery, and Hope, did an interview with Carolyn on her blog on Health Central. When she learned of Carolyn’s passing, she told me that “She was a true inspiration to many while she was alive”.

My own blurb for her work is that it is “A fascinating look into the world of schizoaffective disorder which, at times, is funny, heartbreaking, but above all uplifting. Dr. Carolyn Dobbins describes the onset and progression of this debilitating disease and gives all readers hope.”

My own hype was shared by many others. Dr E Fuller Torrey described it as “an inspiration for all who have ever experienced psychosis” and highly recommends it. Dr. Thomas G Burish, a professor of psychology and Provost of Notre Dame said “powerful and revealing, and provides a unique insight into chronic mental disease”

George E Doebler M Div. Special Advisor, Dept. of Pastoral Care, U of Tennessee Medical Center:, Executive Director, emeritus: Association of Mental Health Clergy (now Association of Professional Chaplains) said “It will challenge your thinking about mental illness, about hope, about faith, about who you are.”

The review in Library Journal said “people who have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorders and those close to them will welcome it as an advocacy tool”

Her reviews on Amazon have been incredible. To date, there have been 21 and they are all 5 Star. Carolyn’s father tells me that the Barnes and Noble in Knoxville keeps selling out and her book is being used as a text in Psychology at UT Knoxville.

Carolyn was so focused on helping others that she listed her e-mail address in the book so that readers could contact her and many did.

She will be sorely missed but her book is her legacy and it will continue to give help and comfort to those who need it.

The Ungovernables

By Dr David Laing Dawson

In response to an anarchist destruction spree in Hamilton

The sixteen year old tells me he doesn’t think he should ever have to do something someone else wants him to do. He should be able to go to work when and if he wants to. He should eat lunch when he wants to, not at “lunch break like a bunch of sheep”. He should be able to come and go as he pleases. There shouldn’t be rules.

He goes on in this vein as an infant in a large male body. The egocentricity is astonishing. Sometimes it is the product of a recent failure or loss. Sometimes I can see anxiety and depression in the background. Sometimes I wonder about the parenting, and the grade 11 teacher who says to his students, “Call me Steve.” Usually it’s a phase, a brief developmental phase. The carefree egocentrism of the child bumping hard against the challenge and complexity of the adult world. The smart kid throws in a bit of existential philosophy. The not so smart kid just wants to keep his bong in his bedroom.

They have usually grown past this phase in a couple of years, developed some empathy for others, found some satisfaction and confidence in completing something and being praised for it, lost some of their fear of this big clumsy chaotic but organized world.

Some don’t grow out of this phase it seems and they become “anarchists”. They have learned enough to use that word to describe their state of mind, their second hand philosophies, without learning about the historical consequences of anarchy. They crave an absolute freedom that always breeds a terrible tyranny.

Fortunately the very concept of anarchy is antithetical to organization. Anarchists can’t get together and form a club and expand that into a movement that holds and succeeds.

At least that was not possible until Social Media. Now with social media it is possible to gather together at least a small group of “anarchists”  and wreak havoc for a night.

I don’t know if the “Ungovernables” or anarchists appreciate the irony of being organized for a night of havoc, destruction, and terror. Fortunately their very rebellious nature precludes a large and persistent and successful organization.

Social media has made it possible for some very good gatherings and organizations to occur, and these can grow and flourish and stay organized and bring about positive change in our social contracts and societal rules. So I think we needn’t be horrified when a small group of so-called “Ungovernables” manage to wreak a night of havoc. No matter their rallying cry and their stated childish grievances they are just adolescents engaged in some thrill seeking vandalism.

We should simply investigate, arrest when possible, and apply our laws and our due process.

Donald Trump is Helping My Psychiatry Practice – An Open Letter

Dear Donald from Dr David Laing Dawson

As much as I dislike your intrusion into my thoughts and my life several times every single day, Donald, I must say you are a gift to clinical work. No longer do I have to rely on obscure references, examples that may or may not be known to my patients; no longer do I need to dream up ice breakers to relax an anxious family; no longer do I need to struggle to find a topic that will provoke an emotional reaction in a silent, sullen teenager; no longer do I need to search for a way of introducing the topics of narcissism, empathy, sociopathy, and adolescent cognitive development.

Just today I asked a 17 year old how he thought he might react if he were outside the Florida school while the shooting was occurring. He thought for a few seconds and then said he would probably take cover and call the police. Seventeen Donald, and he has already outgrown that adolescent fantasy of yours you told the governors. Or at least he has reached a level of cognitive development when he understands those common male heroic rescue fantasies are just that, fantasies.

At what age does one still boast about these superhero fantasies? I suspect thirteen, fourteen maybe. And then, usually, a little more self awareness creeps in. I was able to congratulate my patient on being more thoughtful and mature than the President of the United States. He didn’t think it was much of a compliment.

An anxious family, a parent with unruly or sullen child seeing a psychiatrist for the first time: I’m getting cautious one-word answers; I throw “Donald Trump” into this and the parents and the child all start talking with hand gestures, vivid facial expressions.

The mother tells me the 14 year old boy stole money from her purse. The boy launches into his defense, following the exact pattern of Donald’s tweets that very morning: Denial, fake news, someone else did it, you shouldn’t leave your purse out, I don’t get an allowance, my sister did it, you never blame her, she gets away with lots, you don’t like me, you’re unfair.

I point out the similarity. The mother smiles; the boy is insulted.

The teen girl over thinks everything. It is part of an OCD/anxiety problem. She is so worried and conscious of what she might say, and what she has said, that she avoids talking to all but family. I tell her I would like to inject her with a half ounce of Donald Trump. And there we have an extreme opposite to her problem that we can talk about.

The parents are very upset their child lies. I talk about lying, for a child, is natural, and how a developmental task for the child and teen, aided by their parents, is learning, by adulthood, when to lie or obfuscate a little bit, and when to tell the truth. At this age, the boy’s lying does not mean he’s going to grow into a Donald Trump or a career criminal.

It’s a measure of severe depression when someone does not have the energy to become animated by the topic of Donald Trump.

It’s a measure of excess idealism when a teenager is extremely distressed, outraged, horrified by the very mention of the name.

And there was a time when a fairly large percentage of teenagers, unable to answer any questions on current events, politics, governance, would explain, “It doesn’t effect me; I’m not interested in it.”

But they all now pay some attention to American Politics. They know your name and they all react. So there is one demographic the better for your existence: teens and youth. Let’s hope they maintain their awareness and idealism.

Steps in the Unraveling of a President

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Some wondered if Donald Trump’s latest tweet storm heralded an unraveling. This time he bounced back with a somewhat adult response to gun control, in so far as raising the the age of legal purchase and banning “bump stocks” is at least a beginning. ( He later returned to the NRA talking points of “hardening schools” and arming teachers)

So he didn’t unravel completely but he certainly gave us intimations of things to come.

As the Mueller investigation grinds on with more and more indictments and guilty pleas what can we expect from Donald J. Trump?

A supreme narcissist, like a child when cornered or caught stealing or reprimanded will fall back on an ever regressive series of deflections and denials:

  • It starts with straight denial. (never happened, wasn’t me, fake news, hoax, didn’t say that, I’m the most honest person you’ll ever meet)
  • Boasting about other things is added to this to distract and shore up his sense of omnipotence. “Popularity, security, number of bills passed, military budget.” This is compared to the failing of sibs or, in this case, all previous presidents.
  • It moves quickly to blaming someone else for the current problem, usually a brother or sister when a child. In this case Obama and Crooked Hillary, the Dems, the previous administration.
  • Next comes a statement of unfairness or injustice. “You never get after my sister and she does worse things.” “Obama was worse, how come he doesn’t get in trouble? Look at what Hillary got away with? You should be looking into the Uranium deal?”
  • And then accusations of unfairness, prejudice on the part of parents (FBI, Justice Department). “You never liked me. You always liked Obama more than me. You gave Hillary a pass.” You are terrible parents (Congress, FBI, Justice Department). I hate you.
  • Then perhaps a string of unrelated accusations against a sister or brother or friend or teacher. In this case the Dems, various Senators, Obama, the Justice Department.
  • And then the temper tantrum. The weeping, yelling, pounding of fists on the floor, stomping of feet. In this case a flow of whiny, semi-coherent profanities and mutterings. A mix of self-aggrandizement and self-pity.
  • And then some lashing out.

And this is when more than the reputation and solvency of the USA is at risk. This is when we are all at risk.

Arming Teachers

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Samuel L Jackson put the issue quite succinctly:

“Can someone that’s been in a Gunfight tell that Muthafukka that’s Never been in a Gunfight, the flaws of his Arm The Teachers plan??!!”

Reading the comment section on any news item is usually not conducive to mental health or stress reduction. But, sometimes I read a few.

This one caught my eye in the middle of a discussion about the hapless deputy who “Waited behind a pillar for four minutes while the sound of semiautomatic gun fire rang through the school.”

Somebody pointed out the deputy was armed with a handgun and going up against a killer with an AR 15 would be foolish. Then somebody else responded that:

“You’d be surprised how often a single handgun has taken out a nest of machine gunners.”

And that was the comment that intrigued me. For there is only one place anyone could possibly see a man armed with a pistol “take out a nest of machine gunners” even once, let alone often, and that would be in fiction as portrayed on TV, Film and video.

We are watching slippage in those boundaries (reality, reality TV, Fiction) within the citizens, the politicians, and the President of the USA as they promote arming teachers.

They must be envisaging the kinds of shootouts that occur in NCIS LA and other shows every week: The heroes are fearless, often quipping when entering the battle. They are invisible to the bad guys. They shoot with pin point accuracy, from any position and distance. Their bullets never stray. They have invisible Kevlar vests. The bad guys are always easily identified. The bad guys are always terrible shots, even with automatic weapons. Their bullets somehow move slowly enough for the good guys to duck. The bad guys conveniently step away from their cover to be shot. In the end the heroes walk away unscathed, not even emotionally distressed.

Mr. Trump. That is fiction. You are imagining Gary Cooper at High Noon, John Wayne, Stallone, your own adolescent fantasies.

The more guns firing, the more people get killed. The more guns carried the more likely an accidental shooting will occur. Or an unrelated homicide or suicide.

One Last Comment on Guns

By Dr David Laing Dawson

We don’t really need another voice lecturing American politicians “It’s the guns, stupid.” But I can add a perspective to this issue:

For many years I have had a large caseload of troubled teenage boys. And always, always, on any given week at least one is exhibiting an obsession with weapons, and two others are espousing a code of honour and demanding they be respected, and justifying violence as a legitimate response to grievance, and at least three are behaving in a manner that would quash the love of anyone but their mother.

Can you imagine, because I can imagine, how sleepless my nights would be if I thought any one of them had access to a semi-automatic assault rifle? Fortunately these boys do not live in the USA.

There will always be troubled boys and young men, some with treatable illnesses. Better psychiatric services may catch many of them in time. But it is the loaded gun that differentiates a troubling altercation from a tragedy.


Alternative Facts

By Dr David Laing Dawson

I was probably ten or twelve when I asked my Sunday school teacher if there was any archeological evidence supporting the parting of the Red Sea and its collapse back over all those chariots. And in grade 7 when our science teacher, Mr. Edmonds, asked the class which way the earth travels around the sun and I told him it depends where in the universe the observer is standing. We argued and he sent me to see the Vice Principal from whom I first heard the idea of ‘convention’.

And then we all run into professors in first and second year university who tell us of the social manufacture of reality, and those who tell us how our attitudes and perceptions are shaped by the power elite. And we run into G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell and ponder the nature of truth. “Moore, are there apples in your basket?” And somewhere along the line a professor turns a chair upside down, places it on a table and asks the class, “What is this?” We tell him it is a chair, and he asks us how we know it is a chair. And someone else tells us that a light switch is neither on nor off, but in a position of relative on-ness, and that an electron might be in two places at once.

During his summer vacation between first and second year university, my grandson, in the comfort of his bedroom, day trades cryptocurrency on his new laptop. We discuss the nature of cryptocurrency, tulip bulbs, and “real” coinage, the very concept of money. I see that some articles on bitcoin are illustrated with a graphic of large, hard, embossed gold and silver coins. The irony is striking. The economists see bitcoin as a silly invented bubble; the bitcoin “experts” talk of cryptocurrency as being as big a social disrupter as the internet, liberating currency as the internet liberated information.

There are ads every night on CNN supporting legitimate journalism. They sometimes show an apple from first one angle and then a second and proclaim that it is still an apple. I think the ad writers missed the Beyond the Fringe parody of Russell and Moore, and Duchamp’s painting of a pipe titled, “This in not a pipe.”

“Moore, are there apples in your basket?”

And then we have Carter Page who apparently is referred to as a “Famous American Economist” when he gives talks in Russia, and Sean Hannity, and President Trump “totally vindicated” by the Nunes memo.

Many explanations for the rise of Donald Trump have been written, grounded in the history of the USA, the technological changes sweeping the world, the paranoia that accompanies mass migration, the always present racism, the forgotten but once privileged white working man, the attraction of populism and demagoguery….

And we are all fascinated by the extent this man can obfuscate, dissemble, lie, confabulate, and contradict himself without consequence.

But, pulling these random thoughts together, it seems to me that with Moore and Russell we left behind the certainty of 19th century truth, and with space travel, the origins of the universe, black holes, space time continuum, anti-matter, the digital revolution, the internet, robots doing our vacuuming and manufacturing, the democratization of information, the ubiquity of video illusion, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and, perhaps most importantly, the development of every day tools that only a few really understand…..we are now a very bewildered species. We used to know where we were going. Now we don’t. We used to understand our tools; now we don’t. We are inundated with fiction; we binge watch Netflix. Many teen boys can recite the political intricacies of the Star Wars series much better than that of their own world. In our fictions there are an astonishing number of American Special forces whizzing around the world killing bad guys and keeping us safe. We find ourselves applying the expectations and conventions of fiction to reality. Conspiracies abound in fiction, though real humans are more prone to folly.

It has long been preached that truth will outlive a lie. But today that lie can be widely disseminated in seconds, with conviction and graphics, while the truth is often slow, difficult, and complex. Today the lie has done its job long before the truth emerges.

It is no wonder that many of us sitting in our puddle of bewilderment and angst are easily coaxed back to primitive religions, pre-enlightenment medicines, strong-men, demigods, and false prophets.

There is a heartening backlash to all this, symbolized in a small way by Georgian College throwing out its program in homeopathy. And in reality the economies of the world are all in better shape than they ever have been, fewer people starve, fewer people die of preventable and treatable illnesses (thanks to modern western medicine), more have access to clean water (modern medicine and science), fewer people are crippled or die from nutritional deficiencies (modern medical use of supplements and scientific dietary advice), fewer people are actually killing one another than ever before, fewer are enslaved, many with chronic illnesses have better lives….. We even have better and better treatments for mental illness…and I don’t mean pig pills, micro-nutrients, and mindfulness.

We are at a tipping point I think. Can sufficient numbers of us, members of this human race, accept the reality of uncertainty, live with the angst of self-aware existence, discard the need for Gods and demigods, accept the scientific manner of seeking truth as primary, accept our species and ecological scientific truths, and get down to the task of preserving and expanding our democratic institutions, accepting this small planet as home to us all, and recognize we face two daunting tasks if we are to survive, that we must deal with over-population and global warming?

And this does not mean we should be wasting time and money shooting large rockets and small roadsters into Asteroid belts.

PS – David Stephan who was mentioned at length in the previous blog, went on a Facebook live video rant earlier this week attacking everyone involved in the cancellation of his lectures including Marvin Ross and Dr Terry Polevoy.

I feel left out. You rant against Marvin Ross and Terry Polevoy. Please add Dr. David Dawson to your list of trolls.

Now, two things: You and your wife were very scientific. You conducted an N of one experiment using nutrition, Pig Pills and supplements on a very ill child rather than taking him to a doctor for appropriate examination, tests and the application of modern medicine. The legal aspects of this are complicated. What is clear is that your pig pills and supplements and “Truehope” failed, and the child died. Your child died.

At the end of your diatribe on Facebook you say the “saddest thing” is the cancellation of your promotional speaking gigs. I would have thought it was the death of your child. It should have been the death of your child.







Despite Science, Alternatives Flourish

By Marvin Ross


Despite the tremendous advances that medical science has made over the past number of years, many persist in their unscientific beliefs about vitamins and alternative medicine. A few things cropped up in the last week to make my head hurt. First, the Journal of the American Medical Association released a report on vitamin and mineral supplements and their efficacy. They stated:

“most randomized clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements have not demonstrated clear benefits for primary or secondary prevention of chronic diseases not related to nutritional deficiency. Indeed, some trials suggest that micronutrient supplementation in amounts that exceed the recommended dietary allowance (RDA)—eg, high doses of beta carotene, folic acid, vitamin E, or selenium—may have harmful effects, including increased mortality, cancer, and hemorrhagic stroke”

They then go on to discuss what vitamins should be used for and that list is very specific.

At about the same time, it is revealed that Georgian College in Barrie Ontario is setting up a three year course in homeopathy. Dr Stephen Barrett of Quachwatch describes homeopathy as the ultimate fake. I remember an episode on Marketplace a few years ago where they tried to have people overdose on homeopathic medicines (distilled water) and no one could. The public outcry against Georgian College was so strong that they cancelled the program.

Next up was a notice that David Stephan was to be the keynote speaker at the Saskatoon Wellness Conference. Stephan is the man who, with his wife, was convicted for the death of their toddler who suffered from a very curable meningitis but was given vitamins and homeopathic potions instead. One of the products the child was given was EM Power Plus which is the product his father’s company manufactures and sells. More on that in a minute but the organizer of the event (and Stephan is to speak in other cities as well) is that “he judges his vendors based on their products, not on their personal lives.”

Nice but the two are intertwined. I’ve been writing about this product for years and the following is from an earlier Mind You blog:

The blog Neurocritic entitled one of its articles as EMPowered to Kill as one man with schizophrenia went off his meds to take EMP and brutally killed his father in a psychotic state. I have written on this case as well in Huffington Post. Health Canada has declared the product a health hazard on two occasions. I have written critical articles about this in various publications and an e-book with Dr Terry Polevoy and a former Health Canada investigator and now private detective in Calgary, Ron Reinold, called Pig Pills.

Stephan and his wife both worked at the Truehope website advising customers on their treatment. You can listen to some calls that were made to the call centre here.

One of the research gurus for Truehope is a psychologist at the University of Calgary, Bonnie Kaplan. Her research trial on EMP at the University of Calgary was shut down by Health Canada because it failed to meet the proper standards for a clinical trial but she now writes on mental health and vitamins for the Mad in America website. She also gives lectures where she tells the audience not to google her name (slide 3). She even went so far as to bring professional misconduct charges against Dr Terry Polevoy with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario because he criticized her work.

And yet, she was just named as one of the 150 Canadians who make a difference in mental health for the above work.

Meanwhile, the Schizophrenia Society of Canada states in its recent report on re-imagining itself that:

External stakeholders expressed concern that emphasis on a western medicine biological model of understanding of schizophrenia does not reflect the diversity of ways people from different cultural groups understand and explain mental illness.” (P13).

What can I say to this? OK some people do not agree with how science has tried to understand schizophrenia (and it has a long way to go), and would prefer to ignore treatments (again not perfect but reasonably effective) for their own folkways like exorcism to let the demons out as depicted in the graphic that goes with this.

How is that gonna work?

Probably as well as it did for a young Aboriginal girl from the Six Nations Reserve near me who decided to stop her chemo for what was first described as native healing. Her acute lymphoblastic leukemia was given a 75% probability of a cure with conventional medicine. The “traditional indigenous treatment” she sought out was at a vitamin cure spa in Florida called the Hippocrates Health Institute which is being sued by former staff who allege the company’s president Brian Clement is operating “a scam under Florida law” and practising medicine without a licence.

Sadly, Makala died.

PS I wrote this on Sunday morning and by late afternoon Sobey’s,  a grocery chain, had cancelled its sponsorship with the Wellness Expo and the organizers of the event had removed Stephan’s name from its list of speakers.

Ontario’s Flawed Mental Health System and the Failure of the Current Provincial Government

By Marvin Ross

stone of madness

I recently came across an excellent assessment of the very bad mental health system in Ontario that prefers to have people receive services in the forensic stream rather than before they get to that point. The assessment was not published but was obtained under Freedom of Information.

That led me to write this on Huffington Post – Ontario Has Failed to Provide Adequate Resources for Mental Illness. 

After that appeared, the Hamilton Spectator did a feature on a young man named Ross Biancale with the head I’ve already written his obituary: Mom struggles to save son from himself. This sad but true recounting of what it takes to get someone service in Ontario illustrated all the points that I made in my Huffington Post blog. Below is my explanation for this mess.

The reason that Ross Biancale and thousands like him are falling through the cracks of the mental health system (the Spectator, January 23) is easily explained and easily fixed. They have not been fixed because the Liberal government has no interest in doing so.

Justice Richard D Schneider ran the Toronto Mental Health Court for years and then completed a report for the Department of Justice called The Mentally Ill: How They Became Enmeshed in the Criminal Justice System and How We Might Get Them Out in 2015. That report only saw light of day because of a CBC Freedom of Information request.

Justice Schneider points out that the main fault is the Ontario Mental Health Act and the conditions required for an involuntary committal to hospital. Under the current legislation, someone who is exhibiting all the signs of illness, listening to the voices of Martians in his head while denying he is ill, cannot be hospitalized without consent. Neither the police nor the Justice of the Peace will help hospitalize that person if they do not believe there is “clear evidence that he is dangerous to himself or others”. And, even if he is admitted, he is “discharged before he is stable” and “his condition deteriorates”.

Justice Schneider said “if the individual is not seen as dangerous to himself or others he is free to roam the streets ‘madder than a hatter’” And, in many cases, the person will come into conflict with the law and wind up in the vastly more expensive forensic psychiatric system.

The 1967 Ontario Mental Health Act allowed for someone to be admitted to hospital involuntarily if they were suffering from a mental disorder severe enough to warrant treatment in hospital for their own or others safety and they could be held for one month. That was changed in 1978 thanks to the civil libertarians to involuntary treatment only if the person had threatened or attempted to do harm to himself or others. The time held was lowered to 14 days.

Further, the 1967 Act considered that hospitalization meant treatment and people being held were treated. That changed in 1978 and someone could be held involuntarily but they did not have to agree to treatment.

Attempts have been made to change the Mental Health Act in Ontario and that was one of the recommendations of the 2008 all party Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions. Recommendation 21 in that report states that the Ontario government should set up a task force within one year to “investigate and propose changes to Ontario’s mental health legislation and

policy pertaining to involuntary admission and treatment.”

That was 2008 and this is 2018 and the Liberal government still has not acted.

The other barrier to effective treatment mentioned in the Spectator article is our privacy legislation. If a person is over 18, they are an adult even if they live with their parents and are supported by them. Health care providers cannot talk to family without the permission of the ill person and, if they are paranoid, they may not grant permission.

The Select Committee also decided that the government should change the privacy legislation in recommendation 22. “The changes”, they said, “should ensure that family members and caregivers providing support to, and often living with, an individual with a mental illness or addiction have access to the personal health information necessary to provide that support, to prevent the further deterioration in the health of that individual, and to minimize the risk of serious psychological or physical harm.”

The 2013 Mental Health Commission of Canada report on caregivers made similar recommendations but, again, this is 2018 and Ontario has still done nothing.

These are issues that those of us with an interest in improved care for the mentally ill need to ask the candidates running in the upcoming provincial election.