Monday, 11 January 2010

Update - Jenny

I wrote about Jenny in my blog in July 2009 (“God told me not to answer the door!”) Jenny had the dubious distinction of being the person I have assessed under the MHA more than any other, a total of 11 assessments over a 7 year period. She has now extended her record, which is becoming unassailable.

Assessment 12: After 18 months without hearing anything about her (she was being managed by the Assertive Outreach team – a specialist mental health team who work with patients who have problems with disengagement from services or non compliance with medication), I had a call from their consultant. There was growing evidence that she was becoming unwell again. Workers were reporting that Jenny believed that her brother-in-law was a hacker working with MI5 and was watching her internet activities. She has also said that she had been freaked out by a Whitney Houston video where Whitney was singing a song about her. She had subsequently refused to let workers in to see her.

Jenny was told we would be visiting her to assess her under the Mental health Act yet again, and somewhat surprisingly she agreed to this. So the following day her consultant, another psychiatrist and I turned up at her door.

Sue answered the door and let us in. Jenny was cooperative and pleasant throughout the interview. There was little evidence of active psychosis during the interview – the only matter of possible concern was her freely disclosing that she engaged in sexually explicit activities on a webcam. There was evidence that she had been taking her medication. She appeared sedated and said that she had taken a double dose the previous evening. She agreed to continue to engage with the Assertive Outreach Team and agreed to an increase in medication. She said that she had not had any cannabis for about a month, but this was more through lack of supply than lack of desire. She did admit to having used speed recently. We were there for about 45 minutes, during which she remained friendly and cooperative and did not display any of her usual symptoms indicating relapse. We could not justify detaining her on the basis of this interview.

Assessment 13: However, things were somewhat different a month later. Her consultant reported that since Assessment 12 her relatives were reporting increasing concerns about her mental state. She was engaging less with the Team, there was evidence that she was not taking her medication, she was reported to be drinking alcohol, which is unusual for Jenny, and most worryingly she now had a supply of skunk again, which usually makes her worse. There had been more damage to her house – breaking a window and smashing belongings – again this was a typical part of her relapse signature.

She was contacted and told we would be conducting another formal assessment, and the next day we were standing in the snow again knocking on her door. She let us in, but, unlike the previous occasion, she was immediately hostile. There was evidence in the house of damage, including the kitchen door hanging off, holes in the kitchen wall, a broken window in her living room and a broken mirror. She sat in the kitchen rolling a joint from a large bag of herbal cannabis and then proceeded to smoke it while we were attempting to interview her. As the kitchen filled with the aromatic smoke she told us that she was no longer mentally ill and did not need medication or further involvement with mental health services. Cannabis was all she needed to keep her well. She was very preoccupied with people she knew who might be paedophiles, and made several loud and explicit allegations which seemed unlikely to be true. She identified me as the principle villain on this occasion, shouting and swearing at me and making an inventive threat – she told me darkly that she had a copy of my death certificate, signed and dated. After about 20 minutes, Jenny ordered us out of the house. We had had enough, and were glad to leave.

We retreated to the warmth of my car to discuss our assessment, and within a few minutes we had completed the paperwork. I went back to her to tell her what was happening. She refused to open the door and swore at me through the letterbox.

I called the police for assistance, fearing that I might have to get a magistrate’s warrant (Sec.135) in order to enter her house and take her to hospital. The doctors having made their excuses and left, I sat in my car and watched from a discrete distance as the police knocked on her door. To my relief she let them in.

I followed inside after a few minutes and explained to Jenny that she was now detained and would have to go to hospital. By now she was somewhat calmer – the spliff she was smoking freely in front of the police when I entered may have helped – and was becoming resigned to the inevitability of her admission. She would not come with me (I had an escort with me), but said she would allow the police to take her. However, she wanted everyone out of the room while she packed a bag. I realised that this was so that she could find some way of concealing her stash and smuggle it onto the ward (she had managed this in classic drug mule fashion in the past) and alerted the police, who persuasively offered to look after it at the police station for her.

I think I am now becoming as resigned as Jenny to another knock on her door sooner or later in the future.


  1. I wonder why you feel the need to tell us about this - you have so much power: are you flaunting it? You are taking away people's liberty without trial. Shall I repeat that in case you don't understand it? Are you motivated in making us more frightened of you?

    Do you ever think about how it feels and if it is justified? No, of course not. It's all about control. Very often acting on the secondhand information of third parties, especially families.

    Dress it up how you like, stick a medical label on it: you are a detainer. No wonder you're masked.

    I live in fear and terror of being detained by 'people' like you - and it was nearly 35 years since it happened.

    A woman smoking cannabis; her home in a mess? That's a terrible crime/illness. What about those smoking cigarettes: they're killing themselves.

    It's about time society heard the other side of this and heard our stories of what really does happen.


  2. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
    If you read the previous entry about Jenny, and indeed the rest of blog, you will see that I do not invariably detain the people I am asked to assess.
    Although I use humour in the blog at times, I take the role, and the associated powers, of the AMHP very seriously, and I hope that the decision making process is reflected in the blog.
    The only reason I write anonymously is in order to preserve the anonymity of the people I write about.
    In Jenny's case, as with many other poeple with mental disorder, the use of cannabis, as well as other drugs and alcohol, can make their condition worse. Jenny tends to remain well and out of hospital if she does not use cannabis. No AMHP would detain someone purely on the basis of abuse of drugs or alcohol.

  3. That still doesn't answer why you feel the need to broadcast your power like this - it's bad enough living in fear of people like you.

    You could not possibly know the depth of feeling against people (and I use that word advisedly) like you. You are taking away human beings liberty without any right of reply. You keep avoiding saying or acknowledging that. This often involves serious accusations to which the person has no right of reply. A criminal wouldn't be treated this harshly.

    You constantly fail to accept that families act malciously and tell lies. You accept third party accusations. Your 'profession' amounts to no more than slander, gossip and allegations. With the stroke of a pen, you destroy people's lives. Ironically, you justify it by saying, it's for your own good (ooh, what a threatening phrase if ever there was one!) - but the very act of which takes away everything that could do a person good!

    Refused jobs and careers, insurance (so can't get a mortgage to buy a house), travel insurance, can't serve on a jury, difficulty in getting a driving licence ... the list goes on.

    You'll say, there's discrimination, as if that's nothing to do with you. You know exactly what you're doing.

    Enjoying the power; enjoying the money and the index linked pension.

    Etiquette and web rules don't permit me to say what I think, but, put it this way, I don't wish you well.

    Coming on here, flaunting your power! Do we really need this rubbed in?

  4. As a postscript:

    'No AMHP would detain someone purely on the basis of abuse of drugs or alcohol.'

    'No AMHP' - you talk about yourself as if you're all saintly - no AMHP would do anything bad. You know every single one of them do you?

    I was detained after my brother had beaten me up and my mother had lied saying I'd threatened him with a knife. I even had blood dripping down from my earlobes and no one else had a mark on them. But hey, we won't let a few facts get in the way of the wonderful staff of social services and the NHS.

    You're anonymous to protect yourself: don't kid yourself. And just look at the article in The Guardian in Dec 09 - disgraceful behaviour from social workers and the 2 hardfaced detainers have their photos shown. They act on information from other people without questioning their motives and had already booked a bed before they even met one man! And they're supposed to go to see someone with an open mind and act fairly. You know you never do. You go to detain a person, no matter what's been happening.

    One of the worst consequences of the behaviour of people like you, is that abuse of children is actually reinforced and continues by detaining the victims. I note there's a mention of paedophiles in your waffle. Well, when I talked about perverts, they did actually exist, though that was all part of my 'illness'. Rubbish, they existed and they were the ones in collusion with the social workers and doctors. Antipsychiatry and psychiatric survivor organisations are full of people like me who've been abused at home, then disbelieved and abused by people like you.

    How can you sleep at night, putting people into 'hospitals' where they are ill treated? It's not imagination, some terrible things go on in these places.

  5. mcmurphy no-one makes you read this blog if you dont like it opt out, i dont like horror stories so i dont read them, without AMHP's the system would be run by medical practitoners and that would be a lot different and i dare to say a lot worse.

  6. masked AMHP - I hope you know that we don't all take mcmurphy's view. I myself have been detained - necessarily for my own safety - and on other occasions have been saved from detention by an AMHP like yourself (she took me home from the police station to complete her assessment because she was aware of my fear for the police and knew this was making me present as worse than i was, so where the 2 doctors were all for my detention, she enabled me to recover at home - much quicker than i would have done in hospital). Keep posting, its really interesting and your humour makes you human. you can't please all of the people all of the time