To the Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, September 1996
I’ve just tried to have a friend who suffers from severe bi-polar illness admitted to a hospital for treatment.
He is confused and has visual and auditory hallucinations.
He is unable to effectively make out traffic patterns, and was assaulted last night for inappropriate behavior.
This assault resulted in twelve stitches.
Needless to say this person is unable to judge his condition, which is the nature of severe mental illness.
You can imagine my surprise when I called the crises clinic and was told, after being extensively questioned about his insurance status, that nothing could be done if my friend was unwilling to go to a hospital.
It was mind-boggling.
If he had been in a diabetic coma on his living room floor an ambulance would have been dispatched.
A severe manic episode is not very different as a symptom than a diabetic coma.
But under the guise of protecting this man’s civil rights, he cannot receive treatment unless he is aware of needing it, at which point, he would not need it.
I called the mayor’s office and spoke to a huffy woman named Erica, who confirmed, before hanging up on me, that indeed, this was true and that the Mayor can not intervene.
I must convince this delusional, hallucinating, explosive man that he needs treatment; if I do, a hospital will treat him, provided his insurance is intact.
Huffiness was the tenor of the day.
From the huffy nurse at the crisis clinic to the huffy Erica at the Mayor’s office, I got huffy stupidity with huge dollops of dereliction of duty and arrogance.
What kind of society have we created when this callous disregard for civil liberty hides behind the language of civil liberty?
Am I the only person to see the relationship between the suffering on our streets and the willful arrogance of zany legislators who make it impossible for the gravely disabled to receive proper treatment?
I have a friend who has a manageable illness if he receives treatment in a timely fashion.
Without it he may wind up in your paper as a suicide or homicide victim.
But that’s the intention of this “civil rights’ ruse, isn’t it?