Mental Health and Substance Abuse In The News

The Baker Act and Mental Health Court in Sarasota

130804 mental health court

Prior to 1971, the laws in Florida regarding due process and civil rights of persons in mental health facilities – which dated back to 1874 – were in a sorry state of affairs.  With signed affidavits by three laymen and the approval of a county judge, you could be committed to a mental health hospital.  There was no specific period of commitment before a person’s confinement would be reconsidered by a judge. The standards were so lax that, reportedly, the crony of a local judge would periodically have his wife committed so he could carry on a dalliance with another woman. 

All this ended in 1971 due to the work of Florida state representative Maxine Baker, who spearheaded the passage of the Florida Mental Health Act. Referring to the treatment of persons with mental illness before the passage of her bill, Representative Baker stated, “In the name of mental health, we deprive them of their most precious possession – liberty.”   The Baker Act, as it would come to be known, prohibited the indiscriminate admission of persons to state institutions or the retention of persons without just cause.  The law also prohibited the placement of persons with mental illnesses in jails, unless they had committed criminal acts.


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Belief In God And Psychotherapy

For psychotherapy, God has always been a problem.  Among the scientific theories for understanding human behavior, the acknowledgement of the supernatural is generally lacking.  Freud, the founder of our profession, saw God as an illusion based on the infantile need for a powerful father figure.  To him, religion was a convenient instrument for controlling people – the institutional representation of…

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Science Finds Evidence of Depression in Young Children

It’s easy to feel ambivalent about psychotropic medication.  Pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies, and the American Medical Association are some pretty undesirable sorts, and their misdeeds are well documented.  In 2007, Purdue Pharma, its president, top lawyer and former chief medical officer paid $634.5 million in fines for claiming that Oxycontin wasn’t dangerous. There have been reports of unethical experimentation and…

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What’s the Difference Between Fear and Anxiety?

“Is your seatbelt buckled?” “Yes.” “Can you see out the window?” “Yes.” “Can you hear the engine getting louder?” “Yes.” “We’re going to be taking off soon.” “OK.” It’s 1988, and I’m accompanying my daughter on her first plane flight.  My entire focus is to ensure she feels safe. “Can you feel us beginning to move?” “Yes.” “Now, things outside…

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Your Stress is Killing You!

It has been said that the lowest common denominator of mental health is self-esteem.  When people feel better about themselves, they just enjoy life more.  Perhaps a byproduct of good self-esteem is one’s feelings of resiliency toward life.  Einstein is supposed to have said that the most important question a person can answer is, “do I live in a hostile…

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The Cuckoo’s Nest, 50 Years Later

In the late 1950’s, a journalism student at Stanford University who worked as an aide in the Veteran’s Hospital participated in CIA-funded experiments on behavioral engineering of humans using psychoactive drugs.  The hallucinogenic experiences he enjoyed would change the young author’s outlook on life and inspire his writings. A few years later, the man wrote an allegory on individual liberty…

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