Saturday, September 08, 2007

'Nother Mental Health Comment

Several blogs I frequent have linked to the story of Fran Lyon in the UK. The government is threatening to take her baby as soon as it is born because they suspect her of being a danger to it. Do I need to point out that in the center/right/libertarian blogs I run to that people are horrified at this? They are quite certain this is a massive governmental intrusion on the family.

I fear I disagree with them. The newspaper story is here.

Rather than rewrite the whole caboodle, I will cut-and-paste the comment I made over at Tigerhawk. By way of intro, Dr. Mercury wanted to know more details before making a judgment.
I'm with Dr. Mercury. I want to hear the other side of that story. I will acknowledge that child-protective workers can jump the gun, believe myths of their own making, be incompetent, etc. I don't automatically assume they are nice people and correct in their judgment. Many do tend to be over-willing for the state to step in. I traditionally err on the side of wanting children to be raised by natural parents unless the danger is clear.
As a person who has worked in an acute psychiatric setting for 30 years, the following facts jumped out as red flags for me:
She worked for a non-profit named "Borderline."
The author tried to make it appear that Munchausen By Proxy is a thoroughly discredited diagnosis.
Munchausen By Proxy is an unusual diagnosis that would not occur to treating professionals in the normal course of evaluation. Something triggered it.
There is no mention of the child's father and what possible rights or involvement he might have.
Her education, not her stability or productivity, was stressed.
The confidential hearing is described as being "in secret." Confidential hearings are not unusual in mental health, and have their own developed rules for rights-protection.
We are not told anything about why the other two MD's thought she was a risk because they cannot, by law, reveal that info. The reporter neglects this.
She is described as having eating disorders (plural) and self-harm, but her ex-psychiatrist claims there is no evidence of risk. That's simply impossible.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger! We are clearly not being told the whole story here.

I admit there are many functional BPD's who bring up their children - hmm, if not well, then at least no worse than a lot of other folks. I have an additional bias of having adopted two sons who were physically and emotionally abused by their bio parents. I see only the most intense borderlines, so that greatly affects my perception here. But I have watched the lengthy custody battles unfold after a child has been damaged. I've been doing this for long enough that I have treated some of those children in turn. Maybe this woman does deserve a shot at raising the child.

1 comment:

terri said...

I followed the link and read the article.

I too was left feeling that there was information missing, such as what prompted social workers to even investigate her. Surely they don't swoop down from the sky, homing in on defenseless, pregnant women.

I do however cringe at the thought of removals based on what "might" happen. That's a dicey basis to make a decision. If she had previously had a child that she was abusive too, I'd be all for removing the baby. However, without a tack record of actually harming others, it seems premature.

Why not put her and her family under evaluation and supervision rather than just snatch the child away?