Dear Luise: A story of power and powerlessness in Denmark's psychiatric care system

Dear Luise: A story of power and powerlessness in Denmark's psychiatric care system


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An unintended event. This was the bland phrase used to describe Luise’s sudden death in the psychiatric ward at Amager Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark. She was 32. Dear Luise is a mother’s deeply personal account of her struggle to ensure her daughter’s survival through 20 years of treatment in the Danish mental health system. It is an alarming – and thoroughly documented – exposé of the abject failure of the medication-based treatment regimen routinely imposed on vulnerable psychiatric patients. This book is also a poignant tale of love and hope, brimming with tender memories of the creativity, originality and wry humor of a very capable, intelligent young woman.

Behind Luise’s ultimate fate we see the smug certainty of mental health professionals, both doctors and caregivers, and the concomitant dehumanization of their patients through indifference, harassment, coercion and the use of force. In this tragic case, the mother’s investigation also reveals a shocking trail of incompetence and dishonesty – repeated misdiagnosis, professional collusion, “missing” official records, falsified hospital charts, victim-blaming, and a complete lack of accountability.

Her mother’s ill-fated trust in Denmark’s healthcare system led an 11-year-old girl with misunderstood adjustment problems into a doctor-mandated drug hell. First she was wrongly diagnosed and dosed with powerful anti-epilepsy medicine. Then the severe side-effects were treated with antipsychotics that caused even more serious adverse reactions, both mental and physical. Complaints from mother and daughter ran into a stone wall, and all meaningful dialogue was cut short. The system had only one response – increase the medication.

Luise’s tragedy is far from unique in Denmark – or indeed any other advanced industrialized country. Towards the end of her life she knew what was happening to her. Luise told her mother: On my gravestone I want it to say that it was the medicine that killed me.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780988412200
Publisher: Jorvik Press
Publication date: 11/02/2012
Pages: 226
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)
Age Range: 3 Months

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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