Monday, January 27, 2014

How Psychiatry Failed Margaret Rohner

It happened in Connecticut on December 26. A young adult schizophrenic murdered his mother.

In the time leading up to the murder, Bobby Rankin’s mother, Margaret Rohner had been doing everything in her power to have her son committed to a psychiatric facility and medicated against his will.

She failed. The state of Connecticut has her blood on its hands.

The AP and the Daily Mail report the story:

Margaret Rohner worried about her troubled adult son not taking his psychiatric medications and had been trying to find him proper care in the years leading up to her horrifying murder at his hands.

The 45-year-old Rohner was viciously attacked Dec 26 with a fireplace poker and knife, her torso butchered and her intestines pulled out by son Robert O. Rankin, who was charged with murder after police said he confessed to the killing.

It was a tragic end for a woman who had spent years trying to find appropriate care for her son she called Bobby, a person she desperately wanted to help after doctors took him off medication prescribed to treat schizophrenia.

If a psychiatrist took Rankin off his medication, then that person bears some responsibility for what ensued.

Will the psychiatrist ever be held do account? It’s almost inconceivable.

It’s one thing to know, that, given their druthers, many schizophrenics do not take their medication. It's quite another for a psychiatrist to tell such a person that he does not need to take them. 

As reported:

State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, who has pushed for improved mental health services for children, said one challenge for young people with psychiatric problems is that once they become adults, treatment is generally voluntary and "medication compliance does become a problem."

As it happened, Margaret Rohner knew what was happening. She knew her son. She knew what he was capable of. She did everything in her power to persuade the mental health professionals to help her. Apparently, they trusted themselves more than they trusted a mother. Besides, as the case of Adam Lanza demonstrated, it is very difficult in Connecticut to commit a psychotic against his will.

The Daily Mail described what happened:

Patricia Unan, a close friend, said Rohner expressed frustration to her Dec. 19 about Bobby's deteriorating mental condition since he stopped taking his medications. Bobby for months had been receiving residential respite services offered at River Valley Services in Middletown, a program run by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, according to Bobby's father.

'She told me she'd pleaded with the person she spoke with (at River Valley Services) to hospitalize him and force meds because she recognized when he was headed for a break down from previous experiences,' Unan wrote in an email. 'She said they told her they wanted to wait until after the holiday to address the situation.'

The story shows what happens when misguided idealists fail to understand reality.

1 comment:

Kath said...

What a tragedy. With so much chaos in the news, it is very hard to get attention as to the cause of such violence and what should be done to prevent it.

It is disheartening to learn how rigid, stupid and uncaring those "mental health professionals" are. Also that no one is being held accountable.

I cannot imagine the frustration and helplessness Margaret Rohner experienced leading up to her death.