Monday, August 1, 2011

Mind Freedom Alert:Free Alison Hymes from Western State Hospital

    Free Alison Hymes from Western State Hospital

       by Frank Blankenship

A short while back, Charlottesville Virginia resident Alison Hymes,
long time mental health advocate and MindFreedom member, was declared
incapacitated and committed to the psychiatric ward at the University
of Virginia, UVA 5, for 30 days. Unlike most states that would require
a court order to attain such a decision, it only takes the word of two
psychiatrists to have a person declared incapacitated in the state of

She appealed this decision to the circuit court, and on Friday July
29, 2011, at 11 o'clock A.M. she had a court hearing.

Although Alaska attorney Jim Gottstein, the director of the Center for
Psychiatric Rights out of Anchorage, offered his services as a
character witness, the judge would not allow him to testify. The
result of this hearing is that Alison Hymes has been committed to
Western State Hospital in Staunton Virginia.

Alison has been in and out of the university hospital over the last
few months while friends and supporters had managed to keep her from
being sent to the state hospital. She had received a kidney transplant
after lithium poisoning from psychiatric malpractice in the past
caused her kidneys to fail. It is feared that her health will be
further jeopardized by the kind of care she is likely to receive at
Western State Hospital.

I had spoken to Alison over the telephone on numerous occasions, and
on the latest call she sounded more in control of her faculties, and
less in need of any sort of assistance, than previously. This is
certainly no reason to send her over the mountain to Western State
Hospital. The problem is that every time she has gone to the hospital
Emergency Room with a physical complaint (kidney medicine side
effects, insomnia, bladder problems, etc.) rather than seeing these
problems for the physical problems that they are, the hospital staff
has turned her over to the psychiatric unit.

"They are not letting me see a kidney doctor, and I need Lasix", says
Alison. (Lasix is a drug used to treat fluid retention.)

Alison Hymes was once a very active and engaged member of the
psychiatric survivor and mental health consumer movement in Virginia,
and these institutionalizations have only served to dampen that spirit
of independence and resolve that she displayed.

I would like to see the old Alison back again, and this is all the
more reason to put pressure on these state officials for her return to
the community from which she has been forcibly removed.


       ACTION: Please Contact Virginia Governor and Other Officials

Alison urges friends and supporters to contact the Virginia officials
with expressions of outrage and indignation over the way she has been
mistreated and her case mishandled.

Sample message--you own words are best...

"Stop the forced psychiatric treatment of Alison Hymes at Western
State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. She is in a fragile physical
state of health that is threatened even further by her conditions of
confinement within the hospital. What she needs is to see a
nephrologist, and not a psychiatrist. She would be better served by
treatment within her home community."



If you do one action, please phone or email the Governor of the State
of Virginia:

Governor Bob McDonnell
(804) 786-2211

web contact form:



*** Please call or write Virginia's US Senators Mark Warner and Jim
Webb. Their contact information is below:

US Senator Mark R. Warner

Phone: 202-224-2023 Washington, D.C.

US Senator Jim Webb
Phone: 202-224-4024 Washington, D. C.

*** You could also call or email the Virginia Commissioner of Mental
Health Jim Stewart

Commissioner Jim Stewart

(804) 786-3921

*** You could call or email the executive director of the Virginia
Office for Rights and Advocacy, Colleen Miller

Colleen Miller



flawedplan said...

Fuck. This is very troubling. I don't trust Mindfreedom and have no patience for their bullshit. Is it clear that Alison has enabled them to speak for her? Then why don't they quote her directly? I want to know what Alison wants done, in Alison's words, which Mindfreedom can quote and take responsibility for quoting. If we can't hear from Alison I want to know why. If she is being denied the right to communicate that IS something I'll raise hell about.

Tina said...

She's at UVA psych being sent to Western State today, Robin. No one is going to be able to talk to her. She wants us all to get the word out about what is happening, and she did ask MF to release this info.

Med said...

Wow! It sounds like the way mental health is treated in the US compared with the UK is unrecognisable! And I'm not suggesting we are streets ahead in the UK... we have a very long way to go... but hospitalisation is resisted here because it is often not in the best interests of the patients. I have a lot to learn. I wish you luck in your campaign... people need friends like you.

susan said...

Hi Med,
It's good and bad like everything in the world. This is just an example of a bad case, made worse because Alison blogged for years and was an advocate for those in the system. She was on lithium and it blew out one of her kidneys, she got a transplant in 2008 or 09 and this makes her situation extra scary, because of this.

In a perfect world, all people would be treated with kindness and compassion, no matter what color, religion, sex or how their brain works and does not work. It's not a perfect world. Let's fix it for our children and grand children.

Med said...

Sounds like a plan Susan. x

Natalie said...

Oh fuck, I thought she was in the clear. :( Thanks so much for posting this - sending emails and making phone calls now! (I love your perfect world. We'll get there eventually...once we stop insisting on controlling everyone and everything. I think a huge turning point is on the horizon.)

susan said...

thank you so much Natalie. I hope she can get out real soon. I will let you know when I get an update...

Discover and Recover said...

Thank you for posting.

I sent messages to each of the people listed, and a Virginia state senator; the hospital director, Dr. Jack Barber; and a card to Alison Hymes c/o Western State Hospital.

I'm grateful so many people are responding during such a dark hour for her... My thoughts and prayers are with her.

In solidarity,

Duane Sherry, M.S., CRC-R

susan said...

Hi Duane,

I am over the moon you commented, and are also helping Alison!

We both comment on so many of the same blogs, I read yours, and I am thrilled you finally visited mine.

Your story is an inspiration to me as well.

MindFreedomvirginia said...

Regarding the alert and the comments from flawedplan, I had been in communication with Alison for some time when she informed me she wanted her MFI shield activated. Part of this activation involves drafting an alert on her behalf. I appolegize that she didn't draft the alert herself, but she was somewhat indisposed at the time. We worked together to come up with the actions to be taken. I asked her to explain what was going on with her, and she did so. I also included a quote in her own words. Although put out by MFI, the alert is clearly Alison's, and there was no bullshit involved. This is really happening, and we--supporters, friends, and allies--are trying to do the best by her that we can. Please, we don't need any divisiveness on this issue. The object of our actions are to get Alison where she wants to be, back at home and in her community.

Discover and Recover said...


Thank you again for making people aware of what's taking place with Alison.

I'm "over the moon" that you took the time to let others know how they can help!

I'll be back to visit.

Be well,


"Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." -
Mark Twain

Anonymous said...

Reading this brought tears to my eyes, to think of what psychiatry has done to many victims.

Anonymous said...

I am a Virginia resident who also thought that Alison was in the clear also when she was released to her home a few months ago.

What the heck happened that caused this change?

Obviously, I will write the necessary letters. But in my opinion, it might be helpful to know the whole chain of events.

No matter what, I am horrified and speechless. Obviously, psychiatric abuse is bad when ever it happens. But I take it very personally when it happens in the state I live in.

susan said...

To Anonymous 1, thank you. I am glad you stepped by.

To Anonymous 2- I have asked a few people who know Alison to make a comment.. about the whole chain of events.
She was in trouble, it was averted and it's back now. I know Alison as someone who read my blog (as I read hers) and offered advice with my kidneys.

I will post something, or someone will comment.

Mindfreedomvirginia said...

Anonymous, this has been going on for some time. First it was a reaction to steroids she was taking for her kidney transplant, and rather than having a medical doctor handle it, folks in the ER sent her to the psych unit. In the psych unit she was put on the kind of doses of psych drugs that rendered her pathetic seeming. She has been on debilitating (my opinion) psych drugs since these episodes began, and that circumstance is not doing her a lot of good. The last few times I've spoken to her she has seemed more in command of her faculties (less helpless seeming anyway) than when her troubles began, unfortunately that fact doesn't really register on the psych unit. Once on the psych unit, and there's a chance she could be sent to the state hospital. Twice on the psych unit, and that chance goes up. Thrice on the psych unit and the staff, calling it a strike out, have got a judge on the telephone line. Coupled with the physical complaints she was having, she had to deal with grief from the death of her father not so long ago. On top of this, some people she associates with in Virginia have proven less than good friends. This one person in particular has pushed for her hospitalization despite all the objections Alison and her supporters have raised to that suggestion. All in all, she needs support, not disparagement and confinement.

susan said...

Thank you Mind Freedom VA for answering Anonymous' question. Alison stays in my thoughts and I hope she can be home ASAP.

Tagtraumbärchi said...

Hey there...just wanted to tell you that I had to delete my blog SemiCrazed and that I'm now on wordpress....if you want to change the link in your blogroll here it is: Girl Anachronisms


Anonymous said...

Can you please give an update on Alison Hymes??

I hope she's free and safe.

Related Posts with Thumbnails