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Dear Luise: A story of power and powerlessness in Denmark's psychiatric care system Paperback – November 2, 2012
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About the Author
Dorrit Cato Christensen is a retired teacher living in Copenhagen, Denmark, who devotes her time to advocating for better treatment of the mentally ill. She is president of Død i Psykiatrien (Death in Psychiatric Care), a Danish support organization for families and friends of patients who have died from overmedication and for those concerned for the well-being of loved ones undergoing medication-based psychiatric treatment. She is also active in several pan-European organizations with similar goals, including the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights.
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The kind of hospital ward most familiar with these meds? A psychiatric ward. From this moment on Luise's carefree, joyful, adventurous life is afflicted with erroneous psychiatric diagnoses, unneeded drugs that make her dangerously physically ill, and sheer, reckless mistreatment until she dies in psychiatric 'care' aged 32.
Luise's heart breaking tale is poignantly told by her mother. First person accounts of her life with Luise are interspersed with actual letters she wrote Luise when she was out of reach - either mentally, or physically (Luise was locked on psych wards, at times strapped down in isolation for days) that Luise never gets to read before her absolutely preventable death.
Luise's experience happens in Denmark, and it would be a relief to those in other countries to think this couldn't happen there. This is sadly untrue as treatment like Luise's is occurring right now on psychiatric wards the world wide.
Mental health patients need to read Dear Luise to see if they might recognize their experience in Luise's. Families of mental health patients need to read Dear Luise to see if they might recognize their experience in Luise's mother's. Mental health professionals need to read Dear Luise to see if they might see their treatment and conduct in that of Luise's carers.
This book has the potential to save and change the quality of many lives.
We tend to think we have evolved so far for the better in relation to stigmatizing differences, judging differences, in our prejudices, and in relation to segregation, and discrimination. Luise was a gorgeous kid who happened to be a `bit different', and she was persecuted for it, to death.
Perhaps we still have a bit of a way to go . . .
The book was originally planned to be written by Luise and her mother, but Luise was done for before - so the mother courageously wrote it on her own.
I think this book is not only for doctors and relatives to patients in psychiatric hospitals. It is a mother's fight against a system of experts unwilling to listen to both mother and child.
Luise said at one point to her mother that on her tombstone should stand "Medication killed me" - and so it does.
It is a very touching story - told with so much love. Read - be touched - and learn. Are such things going on in your country?