She had a ‘History’ of Mental Illness

Photo of a Homeless woman sleeping on a mattress on Haight Street in San Francisco, November 22, 2016
A Homeless woman sleeps on a mattress on Haight Street in San Francisco, November 22, 2016

In 2005 a woman with a history of mental illness threw her three children into the Bay.

She was a single Mother living in a homeless shelter with her children.

She had chronic debilitating schizophrenia.

She told dozens of care providers that God was commanding her to
throw her baby’s to the sharks and no one intervened.

No one removed those children from her custody and no one saw the connection between her psychiatric decline, her refusal to take medication and the stress of trying to Mother three children without housing.

“Relatives of a mentally troubled woman from Oakland who reported hearing voices before she allegedly threw her three young sons into the bay to die said Thursday they had tried unsuccessfully to persuade Alameda County social service workers to help them gain custody of the children.

Members of the family of La-shuan Ternice Harris said they had argued that the 23-year-old woman was unstable and unfit to care for her boys — 6-year-old Trayshaun Harris, 2-year-old Taronta Greely Jr. and 16-month-old Joshua Greely.

They had given up trying by Wednesday, when Harris went to the home of a cousin and told her she was going to feed her children to the sharks.

The cousin tried frantically to prevent Harris from leaving for San Francisco with her boys, but she failed, relatives said. At 5:30 p.m., police said, Harris took the children to the end of Pier 7 along the Embarcadero, stripped them naked and threw them in the water.”

The San Francisco Gate

Bad law and public apathy murdered three children in San Francisco.

This was written 14 years ago:

San Francisco Chronicle
February 18, 2001

“California’s pathetic patchwork of services and outdated laws mock the magnitude of the problem.

‘We spend billions of dollars dealing with the consequences of mental illness rather than spending that money wisely on adequate services,’ the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight group, concluded in November.

Today, 50,000 or more Californians wander the streets homeless. One-third of them suffer from severe mental illness, according to various studies.


What’s legal is not always what’s moral.

More rom the article about Harris: “Her aunt, Joyce Harris of Oakland, said Thursday that Lashuan Harris’ mother had contacted Alameda County social services officials about three months ago to seek partial custody of the children because Harris had stopped taking medication for schizophrenia and had made threats regarding the boys.

“They said she was sane, that they couldn’t do anything,”

San Francicso Gate

In Californian, you’re sane if you can lie about how sick you are.

The law regarding mandatory treatment is a paradox for people with chronic and severe mental illnesses because it is designed to protect people who are merely eccentric from unnecessary mandatory commitment.

Our laws do not recognize ‘grey” when it comes to mental illness.

It does not make room for people who lose behavioral control even as they know that what they are doing is wrong.

What is the collective delusion that allows the public to continue to deny the utter failure of deinstitutionalization when the evidence of that failure is all around us and has been for nearly thirty years?

California’s Lanterman-Petris Short Act states that a person must be an “imminent” danger to himself or others.

Imminent means that without direct intervention by the state the patient will act on homicidal or suicidal impulses.

Imminent means a situation in which action to impose treatment over a person’s objection is immediately necessary for the preservation of life or the prevention of serious bodily harm to the patient or to others and it is impractical to first gain consent from the patient.”

As long as Lashuan Harris denies that she has an imminent plan to harm herself or her children she is completely sane under the Lanterman-Petris Short Act.

I don’t play politically correct word games when people’s lives are at stake.

I don’t believe that people with mental illnesses are no more violent than other people because reality does not bear that out.

Twice this week I was verbally abused and physically threatened by young men who were homeless, psychotic and in desperate need of treatment.

It’s more accurate to say that people with serious mental illnesses are no more violent than other people when they are in treatment.

The Lanterman-Petris Short Act is a stupid law that only benefits
for profit hospitals.

It’s cheaper for the Behavioral Health System when a ‘chronic’ goes to jail.

Loss of impulse control means just that.

The patient may not even know what she’s doing, or she believes that
because God tells her to do it, it’s right.

Losing one’s sense of reality is what it means to be psychotic.

I Googled the phrase “a history of mental illness’ and here are a few of the results I got, chosen at random:

$500k bond for mom accused of beheading infant daughter: Mar 20, 2015

Bond was set at $500,000 cash Friday for the mother accused of beheading her own 3-month-old baby.

“Less than two months ago, Watkins was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis and prescribed the medication Risperdal, county court records show.  Caseworkers at Hamilton County Job and Family Services said they believe Watkins may not have been taking her medication. That could have led to delusional thinking and hallucinations.”


But they didn’t take away the baby.

Cops: Knife Wielding Killer Had A History Of Mental Illness Police say the man had a history of mental illness. Oct 29, 2014


Double Killer Sentenced To Death Had A History Of Mental Illness


Suspect in I-71 shooting has history of ‘mental illness and substance abuse,’ records show: Feb 2015

Machete-wielding New Orleans airport attacker dies: March 21st, 2015

“His family has been very cooperative. We have been able to determine that there is a mental illness component here.”

Report: Sandy Hook Shooter Adam Lanza Was Obsessed With Mass Shootings: Nov. 25, 2013.

The opening of the article about Adam Lanza is especially interesting:

“A new report released Monday paints a disturbing portrait of a lone gunman suffering from serious mental illness. The Connecticut State Police report, however, provides few clues about what motivated the 20-year-old shooter.”

A portrait emerges of someone with serious mental illness and the police don’t know why he did it.”


A portrait emerges of someone with a serious mental illness and the police don’t know why he did it?

Does that make sense to you?

This is sometimes called Mental Illness.

From Madness, Deinstitutionalization & Murder

Deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill was one of the truly remarkable public policy decisions of the 1960s and 1970s, and yet its full impact is barely recognized by most of the public. Partly this was because the changes did not happen overnight, but took place state-by-state over two decades, with no single national event. While homelessness received enormous public attention in the early 1980s, the news media’s reluctance to acknowledge the role that deinstitutionalization played in this human tragedy meant that the public safety connection was generally invisible to the public. The solution remains unclear, but recognizing the consequences of deinstitutionalization is the first step.

Madness, Deinstitutionalization & Murder

Deinstitutionalization is a dangerous failure.

While the solution to correcting the mistake of deinstitutionalization may ‘remain unclear’ there are steps we can take to rectify some of its consequences:

1. Loosen commitment requirements so that they reflect the reality of serious mental illness and the impact of untreated mental illness on behavior.

2. Re-open the long-term hospitals a harm reduction measure to protect patients and the public.

3. Provide oversight when hospitals are reopened to prevent the alleged abuses that prompted their closure.


RG 2015



Complexity of Mental Health: An Artists Collaboration with Robert M Goldstein & the Alternate (Personalities)

Kendall Person featured me on the Neighborhood last July.   I decided to reblog this link to introduce him as the next featured blogger on Art by Rob Goldstein.

Look for my interview with him on June 20th.

My gratitude to Kendall F. Person and to the many other fine artists who give to The Neighborhood.

It’s Not about Me

Art by Rob Goldstein

Nothing is                                                Nothing is

A friend sent me an email about a post, “In the South of my Childhood.”
She said kind things about how wrong it was that I had to go through such pain as a child.
When I read the email I realized that I need to clarify the reasons I post this material.
I replied: “There is no difference between adults beating up a frightened child for being a Jew and Congress letting children go  hungry because their parents are poor.
My story means nothing if it doesn’t serve to illustrate that to a child, not eating and not having a house hurts.
It hurts regardless of the source.
I tell the story to illustrate how the bad choices of a community can shatter a child’s sense of safety and its future as an adult.
The damage is different if the abuse is institutional but it is…

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