Ok, I know I just wrote a post about Schizophrenia but I found a perfect episode that addresses some different aspects of Schizophrenia. I just watched Law and Order: SVU second season, episode 6, it was called Noncompliance and you can watch it instantly on Netflix if you have it, if not then it might be in the library?
The episode was about a woman who was killed that worked at a mental hospital for the homeless. There were two men in the show who were portrayed to have Schizophrenia. One, Ben Moreland, was obsessed with the murdered woman and she filed a restraining order against him. He was interestingly a talented artist who suffered from long term side effects of being on antipsychotics such as drooling and shaking. Mark Nash was non-compliant and was diagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenia. He was more violent and drank often. He confessed he had mother issues although he lived with his mother.
It turned out that he was a witness to her murder and then in turn mortally injured the murderer. In order for the case to go through the detectives pressured Nash to take his medication so he could be a credible witness. In order for Nash to go free he had to prove self defense by providing a lucid testimony. The psychiatrist proposed they inject him with antipsychotics that last a month so he would stay hallucination free for his statement. Risks were stated that if he were not in a proper institution he may not be “equipped to handle reality” in addition to the normal side effects. He was given the ultimatum of freedom or jail depending on his medication against his will. After he gave his testimony he committed suicide in the mental hospital with a belt. As an explanation the coroner said that with the medication he lost the voices in his head, he had lost his friends, that made him depressed and he took his own life.
I think this is so tragic and unfair. Why should one person have to bear all that pain and suffering? How does one have a chance for a normal life? Schizophrenia seems to be the most difficult mental disorder thus far because medicated or un-medicated you still face differences that others won’t understand. Some are able to function in society with Schizophrenia but most seem unable to cope with reality with and without proper care.
The head psychologist at the mental hospital for the homeless said, “I absolutely believe that medication and therapy give the best possible relief for Schizophrenia [. . .] but how can a sick mind even recognize that it’s ill?” I think that Mark Nash’s experience is proof that medication isn’t always the answer. He knew that he did not want to take the medication and he was correct. In a medical sense medication and therapy may yield the best results but for many they are not able to handle the side effects of the Schizophrenia medication.
Olivia also expressed her opinion on medicating patients with Schizophrenia. She said she worked with Schizophrenics and knew of a patient who refused to take his meds, killed his father, and then committed suicide. In Olivia’s opinion patients with Schizophrenia should be forced to take their medication for their own good and the safety of others. How do you force someone to take medication against their will? How do you justify that morally and legally?