Scapegoat, a comedy about the mental health & criminal justice system, is a play written by R.S. Bennett based on a loose translation of his more serious real-life events. The production was edited, produced and directed by Potentialist founder, Pan Pantoja. It featured 7 local talents who have all performed with Pan in previous projects. Scapegoat was the first Potentialist production in the new location at 836 E. 2nd and was featured at the grand opening reception. It was a great turnout with very positive reactions.
A Synopsis and Background Info:
(Originally sourced from https://www.facebook.com/bob.bennett.1420/posts/10207575701648831)
VIEW FROM THE NON-AUTHORITARIAN CENTER
BY R.S. BENNETT
Authoritarian – favoring or enforcing strict obedience to an authority.
There are many who are fed up with the authoritarian nature of both Republicans and Democrats. I am one of them. Democrats and Republicans seem happy distracting the public by throwing tantrums over minor issues, refusing to give any issue an in-depth look. I was forced to look hard at several issues and didn’t have the luxury of having huge corporations pay me to hawk their products instead of coming to conclusions which would best serve the public.
While studies have shown that up to 75% of those labeled ‘mentally ill’ are initially misdiagnosed, often due to overlooked treatable conditions which can cause or exacerbate psychiatric symptoms, few are aware of this, nor of The Koran Algorithm , developed at Stanford 25 years ago to address this problem. The Koran medical algorithm requires ten items of medical history, measurement of blood pressure, and sixteen laboratory tests (thirteen blood tests and three urine tests). While these tests will not identify all possible conditions which can cause or exacerbate psychiatric symptoms, failure to run these tests pretty much guarantees individuals will needlessly suffer.
A Hair Test Mineral Analysis should also be run. This analysis can identify mineral deficiencies, especially magnesium, and toxic substances which may have accumulated in the body. While it is likely that few individuals will see all their symptoms disappear after identifying and remedying these conditions, neglecting to run this analysis may impede any recovery efforts.
Trauma, especially repeated trauma, may be the largest reason individuals receive a mental health diagnosis. However, there are various proven non-drug therapies for treating trauma. The least expensive of these are a series of simple Tension &Trauma Releasing Exercises. Somatic Experiencing is a body-awareness approach to trauma being taught throughout the world, the result of over forty years of observation, research, and hands-on development by Dr. Peter Levine. Based upon the realization that human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma, SE employs awareness of body sensation to help people “renegotiate” and heal rather than relive or reenact trauma.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is considered to be evidence-based according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Counseling is only a small portion of this therapy, which was developed for children. It is briefer than most programs designed to treat trauma, rarely lasting more than four or five sessions. It also works with adults. This method of treating trauma doesn’t require the patient to divulge all information regarding the trauma to the provider. While the client recalls the incidents in his or her mind, the eyes are guided in a smooth pattern. Individuals claim this therapy is roughly 50% effective.
Pharmaceutical companies have claimed that mental illness is caused by a chemical imbalance, but they seem to omit the other three factors, anatomical abnormalities or damage; lack of oxygen or glucose; and electrolyte imbalance, in the medical model for brain dysfunction. For most individuals, however, it is likely a combination of factors, physical – and as trauma has been proven to shrink a portion of the brain, the results of trauma should be considered as a physical abnormality or damage, as well as having learned poor responses to stress or the lack of communication skills to engage with others effectively which caused the conditions labeled as ‘mental illness’.
Various programs and therapies have been developed which enable people to cope better with the stresses life has thrown at them. They include Cognitive therapy, Nonviolent Communications, Choice Theory, Rational-Emotive Behavioral Therapy, NAMI Peer to Peer courses, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, and even videos such as How To Deal With Difficult People, and probably hundreds of others.
Mass Incarceration & Criminal Justice
It is no secret we have more prisoners in the United States than anywhere else. Both the political left and right give their reasons for this, and to be honest both have some truth in their positions, but they ignore the changes made to both police and court procedures due to Miranda v. Arizona (384 U.S. 436, 1966). While mostly known for requiring police to read suspects their rights, it also added substantial costs to every criminal court in the U.S. by requiring an attorney be provided for everyone facing six months or more imprisonment. Costs for trials soared as now instead of individuals telling a judge what happened – which was typical for misdemeanor cases, and often felonies as well, and letting the judge, who would hear perspectives from all involved as well as any mitigating circumstances, before deciding the merits of each case and punishment, if any which fit the crime, attorneys now run the show, and rarely does a judge ever hear from a defendant, expect for the plea deal the attorneys cook up behind the scenes.
In some places, like my experiences in Los Angeles, the attorneys reach their decision without any consultation with the accussed. This is due not only to attorneys being trained to circumvent the law, but as both attorneys are being paid by the local municipality, and typically have established friendships with local police, the tendency is to overlook any and all errors and misuse of power. This is especially true in large metropolitan areas where a single defense attorney may have 40 or more clients every day who are facing trial. Add to that Frazier v. Cupp (394 U.S. 731, 739, 1969) which permits police to lie to the public just about any time they want, and Imbler v. Pachtman (424 U.S. 409, 1976) which encourages malicious prosecutions as well as Bordenkircher v. Hayes (434 US 357 (1978) which permits the prosecutor to blackmail defendants and the result has been to usher in the procedures used in the Jim Crow South for use in the rest of the nation.
My basis for coming to these conclusions is my experience with ‘the system’. At the time of my first arrest (1985) I was employed by a small computer company. I had called my doctor, and he had asked me to come in as I had several seizures. I got on my bicycle and started to pedal to UCLA when I saw a cop car and decided to ask them for help. To make a long story short, they believed I was on illegal drugs, and shortly after getting out of jail, I received a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of the effects of trauma is that sub-consciously, an individual tends to try to repeat the conditions of the original trauma in order to obtain a better outcome. This rarely works well.
I did go into a slow tailspin – I wound up getting arrested several times more, usually associated with seizures, but also on a warrant issued in the wrong name, and was also lost in the system twice, resulting in three arrests on one misdemeanor charge. I also spent time homeless and had several short stays at various mental hospitals. I was forced to examine missteps I had made in life - and started using my skills as a troubleshooter and problem solver to address the problems of a dysfunctional system. I completed my degree in Geography, received honorable mention, from The Pacific Research Institute for a paper I wrote on how mental health courts – before any existed – could provide better treatment at lower cost to the community. I also served on the committee which set up Nevada’s first mental health court. My first book – Mental Illness A Guide to Recovery received a favorable review in Boston University’s Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal (vol/ 28 No. 4 Spring 2005) Liberty & Mental Health – You Can’t Have One Without the Other was released last year while my play – Scapegoat(s) a comedy about the mental health and criminal justice systems (was featured) at The Potentialist Workshop – 836 E. 2nd St. Reno.