As one email to KD pointed out, it was not that long ago that Martha Mitchell herself, the wife of the US Attorney General was viewed as a “dissident” and thrown into a psychiatric locked down hospital against her will!
BUT Martha Mitchell is now famous: see below:
Martha Mitchell effect
The Martha Mitchell effect is the process by which a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health clinician mistakes the patient’s perception of real events as delusional and misdiagnoses accordingly.
According to Bell et al., “Sometimes, improbable reports are erroneously assumed to be symptoms of mental illness,” due to a “failure or inability to verify whether the events have actually taken place, no matter how improbable intuitively they might appear to the busy clinician.” They note that typical examples of such situations, may include:
- Pursuit by practitioners of organized crime
- Surveillance by law enforcement officers
- Infidelity by a spouse
- Physical issues
Quoting psychotherapist Joseph Berke, the authors note that “even paranoids have enemies.” Any patient, they explain, can be misdiagnosed by clinicians, especially patients with a history of paranoid delusions.
In the Wyman case, Carol Wyman called the nursing home a “snake pit” and everyone said she was delusional, although Rockford was known for having some of the worst, foul, smelly dirty nursing homes with equally bad staff in the nation.
Turns out, for those of you not as old as Ken or I, it was an accurate reference to a famous and 4 star 1948 movie staring Olivia de Haviland. One of the main antagonists in the movie is a cruel, provoking nurse who sends the patient from the highest levels of functioning mental illness right into a deep crisis mode and a straight jacket.
But what did those around her at the Rockford nursing home do and say? They said Carol was “delusional” based on the fact they didn’t get the reference, and it was her intelligent biting comment on her unwanted incarceration.
In the Sykes case, CT was estranged from the family, knew little about her mother and did not interact with her well at all, so when Mary was taken to the doctors, they thought she was “delusional”, when in fact, Mary was only telling the truth! She was gardening, she was walking the neighborhood (I know, I saw her frequently), other family did let her help with the bills and write out checks because it made her mom so very happy. Instead CT told all the medical evaluators her mom was delusional!
So, I think it is best that Dr. Shaw clearly explains what the “Martha Mitchell” effect is and so must you, Ken, explain all this to your tribunal on Sept 6th and 7th so they don’t get the Martha Mitchell effect and think you’re as nutty as CT who is the true pariah of the family.
Even paranoids have enemies.
thanks for reading.