Would You Rather?

Update on Nia’s story:

(Queasy hat-tip to R. Mildred, who noticed this before I did)

(Note: contains some sexual-violence triggers)

I’m ashamed to say I missed this the first time ’round, since I was reading more for the passages on the medication and its side effects, but it seems as though Arthur Linklater and Robert Drummond–not to mention Nia’s care providers–have their priorities twisted in more ways than one:

Nia spent the days isolated in her room. The other young people in the unit found her intriguing. One boy of similar age who had been admitted with mania became instantly infatuated with her. His adolescent urges and manic disinhibition were a fertile mix and the staff found him trying every trick in the book to get into her bedroom. It’s remarkable what can be contrived, even in a locked ward. One night, they were found in bed together. Nia was put on one-to-one observation.

…I’m sorry, gentlemen, what do you mean to say here? I don’t think it’s come out quite right. Because I read this and it seems a little unclear, a little equivocal, a little misleading. There’s this word lurking between the lines, I wish I could remember it, it’s on the tip of my tongue, starts with “r” and rhymes with, I can’t believe you assholes would wail and gnash your teeth over some pudge on a teenage girl and then turn around and softpedal RAPE.

That’s the one! Rape. Yes, rape. She was raped. He raped her. This was rape. Attempted rape, maybe; “in bed together” is a little vague. (I’m sure that wasn’t intentional.) You remember: the word we use to describe some guy forcing himself on a woman, carnal knowledge without her consent and all that?

“Sexual assault” would have worked too, really. “Stalking” and “harassment” would have been gravy. “Criminal negligence,” while you’ve got your notepad out. We’re not picky over here in feministland.

Let’s show our work, shall we? You’ve provided such a florid description of her madness. It’d be a shame to waste it now that we’re trying to talk about what actually happened.

We’ve got this girl, Nia. According to you, she’s paranoid, withdrawn, and completely out of touch with reality:

A railway line ran a few hundred yards past the bottom of their garden, far enough away for the family to ignore it. Nevertheless, Nia said she could hear people talking about her inside the painted steel carriages. In the clank of heavy rolling stock she could pick out snatches of conversations about her—derogatory insinuations that crept into her room through the plastic veneer of the double-glazing. She also told him that she had seen things on television. The newsreaders had begun looking at her. In the corners of their eyes she began to read signs. They were sending her messages; messages that linked up with the voices on the trains.

And we’ve got this guy who seems very insistent:

One boy of similar age who had been admitted with mania became instantly infatuated with her. His adolescent urges and manic disinhibition were a fertile mix and the staff found him trying every trick in the book to get into her bedroom.

So he’s not stable. He’s doing everything in his power to assault this girl. She’s withdrawn and terrified and suffering. The staff was completely aware of what was going on, and had plenty of warning. Do you think there was anyone at the hospital who had experience with restraining people intent on harming themselves or others?

But hey, maybe it was consensual. Two crazy kids locked up together, it could happen, right?

This one needs a little editing, too:

In fact she got worse. She wouldn’t talk to the staff and her meals were brought to her room. For hours on end she lay with her head under the pillow, the radio quietly on. The clinical team was now faced with the difficult decision of which medication to prescribe.

Huh. In the article, it seems like this happens after the wacky mishap where the other patient snuck into her room at night and forced himself on her. But you don’t make it very clear. I’m confused. Do you think that Nia getting markedly more depressed and withdrawn might have something to do with the rape, or not? I think you need to flesh this out a little.

Christ.

Okay, so: nothing, but nothing, is worse than getting fat. You know, if she is actually abnormally sanguine about her descent into lumpenness, I think I’ve found a possible explanation.


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14 Responses to Would You Rather?

  1. zuzu says:

    I did notice that earlier; I just wasn’t sure what to do with it, especially since I was in High Holy Rampage mode on the whole fat thing.

    Thanks for pulling this out and highlighting it.

  2. Tanooki Joe says:

    Well, boys will be mentally unstable boys, after all. But she had the gall to get FAT!

    Jesus Christ. This whole piece just makes me want to take a shower. Ugh.

  3. randomliberal/Robert says:

  4. Jill says:

    God. Reading the whole piece, I don’t know how you or zuzu even managed to pull our specific chunks. Every single line was nauseating.

  5. kate says:

    Most drugs that treat manic depression, pschyzophrenia or depression cause severe weight gain.

    My experience with the mental health field has been different than described in the story. The general feeling seems to be that among adults, obesity is just a price the patient must pay to be ‘healthy’.

    All the while, they find their lives irrevocably changed by having to deal with an entirely new appearance and persona; the fat person.

    For women, the resultant social stigmatization can be extreme and lead to severe low self esteem, a feeling of not having control, associated health problems and worse, extreme social stigmatization.

    Like I said, the attitude I’ve witnessed among the mental health profession in the US is one of indifference. Especially considering that a large number of terminally mentally ill patients are at or below the poverty level and therefore research for newer drugs would have less payoff as government insurance (medicaid) will always restrict to the cheapest available alternative to acheive the effect regardless of side effects considered ‘mild.’

  6. KnifeGhost says:

    Psychiatric drugs restored Nia’s sanity and destroyed her beauty, and she doesn’t mind

    Props to all of you, I couldn’t make it past that blurb.

    And come on. If she’s crazy, why is a mystery that she doesn’t care that she isn’t hot anymore? She’s CRAAAZY.

  7. Elayne Riggs says:

    We don’t know it was rape. They were found in bed together. We’re not given any other information with which to make the leap that there had been intercourse.

    This entire article was not written factually. You don’t know how much of it is about the doctors and staff and how much is just the wankers writing it. It’s filled to the brim with “truthiness,” flowery prose in a Harlequin romance style designed to call attention to the authors rather than their subject.

  8. La Lubu says:

    No, we may not know it was rape, but this story sounds kinda familiar to me. Here’s some more background on that story.

    Women in mental hospitals are at higher risk for rape and sexual assault, by both staff and fellow patients. And their claims can always be conveniently written off as “hallucinations” or “fantasies”.

  9. Sarah says:

    You could say that having sex with such a severely mentally ill woman is rape almost by definition. It doesn’t sound as though she was in any position to give consent.

    Also the article focuses entirely on his repeated, obsessive attempts to get near her, nothing about her trying to get to be with him, nothing about what she wanted. Of course, given the quality of the reporting we should probably be careful how much trust we place in that article…

  10. Ms. Riggs:

    We don’t know it was rape. They were found in bed together. We’re not given any other information with which to make the leap that there had been intercourse.

    There’s also no indication she reciprocated his interest, or indeed was interacting with anyone notably well. I don’t know about her capacity to consent. If not rape, sexual assault.

  11. Thomas says:

    I stop short of saying that the mentally ill cannot consent to sex, but between her withdrawn state and his obsessive stalking, consent is not the most likely hypothesis. Probably she was raped.

    The authors here are pathological. One of them, at least, is a doctor, and ought to surrender his medical license.

  12. I would not be surprised if, given all the negative attention her looks brought her, Nia were genuinely relieved to gain weight.

  13. Sarah says:

    I didn’t necessarily mean that no one with a mental illness can ever consent to sex, but in this case where her illness was not being treated (she was being observed without medication) she was suffering psychosis and paranoid delusions, it seems unlikely that she was in a suitable mental state to give any kind of consent.

  14. piny says:

    I didn’t necessarily mean that no one with a mental illness can ever consent to sex, but in this case where her illness was not being treated (she was being observed without medication) she was suffering psychosis and paranoid delusions, it seems unlikely that she was in a suitable mental state to give any kind of consent.

    Or that someone in her situation would have been interested in that kind of intimacy with someone she barely knew. Particularly if he were disinclined to respect boundaries in general.

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