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Judges within the Massachusetts Juvenile Court system are expected to:

protect children from abuse and neglect, to promote opportunities for children to reside in a safe, stable, permanent family environment, to strengthen families...and to decide all cases fairly and impartially with dedication, integrity and professionalism.
From the information presented by The Boston Globe and other sources, Judge Joseph Johnston has not acted judiciously in the matter of Justina Pelletier. Because he had issued a gag order, Judge Johnston trusted that his rulings would remain a private affair.

In an unexpected countermove Lou and Linda Pelletier, Justina's parents, violated Judge Johnston's suppression of speech dictate and chose to go public after attempts to regain custody of their daughter failed. Because Joseph F. Johnston has life-time tenure it is unlikely that he will lose his judgeship but he is deservedly facing the court of public opinion.

The Justina Pelletier Medical Child Abuse Claim

When presented with medical child abuse allegations by Boston Children's Hospital in February 2013 Judge Johnston did not hesitate to suspend Pelletier parental rights. At dispute: whether Justina Pelletier was suffering from a psychological [Boston Children's Hospital] or medical [Tufts Medical Center] diagnosed disorder. The BCH child protection team led by Dr. Alice Newton told the court that Justina was suffering from a somatic system disorder.

If Judge Johnston or his staff had researched medical literature he would have known that the somatoform disorder cannot be diagnosed in a three-day period and that this novel mental condition is highly subject to misdiagnosis.

To further prove her point on parental medical child abuse, Dr. Newton referenced the cecostomy button surgery performed on Justina at Tufts Medical. An inquiring judge would have asked whether cecostomy button surgery is performed at BCH. Though unasked, the answer is yes.

The Dr. Flores mentioned in the previous link is Alejandro Flores, one of Justina Pelletier's former Tufts physicians. Dr. Flores' research and opinion on cecostomy surgery can be viewed here. The criticized cecostomy-button procedure is performed in hospitals throughout the country.  All one has to do is check the web.

Custody hearings based on nebulous medical opinions should require an outside advocate but Judge Johnston did not appoint a guardian ad litem until December which was 10-months into Justina's psychiatric confinement.

Juvenile Judge Joseph Johnston knew or should have known that Boston Children's Hospital had a dubious history of medical child abuse complaints before the court because that point was highlighted in The Globe articles.

Parents, e.g. the Pelletiers, are not allowed to violate judges' orders and publicize judicial actions. When they do they can expect the court's wrath.

Judge Johnston could have rescinded his decisions in view of the facts but instead continues to punish the Pelletier family. The latest threat: the state may maintain custody of Justina until her eighteen birthday. In this disposition Judge Johnston displays his irritation by stating that the
parents' public conduct is very concerning. True or false, the complaint is a ruse. The singular issue before the court is Justina Pelletier and her health has not improved while under BCH care and Judge Johnston's supervision.

By all accounts there is no evidence to support Dr. Newton's medical child abuse allegations. It is time for Judge Joseph Johnston to prove his worth and free Justina Pelletier from state custody.


The Boston Globe: "A medical collision with a child in the middle"

The Boston Globe: "Frustration on all fronts in struggle over child’s future"

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's a mess! (12+ / 0-)

    Thank you for posting on this important issue.  I have a child with a similar disorder, and patients and families of those with those disorders can confirm that very few doctors have a clue what they are dealing with.     The details of this case are heart-breaking, and alarming.

    There are too many conflicts of interest and violations of human rights to keep straight.

    Ethics - doctor/patient relationship
    BCH claimed that Justina had a psychiatric disorder.   BCH reported her family to DFS and through their actions, deprived Justina of her liberty, and her access to her family.    At that point, Justina felt betrayed by the doctor and the hospital, and felt like a prisoner.   How could any doctor at BCH, or BCH itself, belive they could or should treat her effectively at that point?   There was no way that they could establish an effective doctor patient relationship at that point.

    Ethics - Financial conflict of interest
    By preventing Justina's parents from removing Justina from the hospital, BCH turned a very short visit into a one year hospitalization in which the doctors and the hospital profited the tune of many hundreds of thousands of insurance dollars.

    DFS - DFS received large payments from the federal government for fostering a special needs child.

    Somatoform disorders or personality disorders are essentially a philosophical construct made up by a group of psychiatrists who have a financial incentive to create "diagnoses", so that they can diagnose them in patients and make more money.   The somatoform diagnosis changed from DSM-4 to DSM-5. Previously, a patient who had a verified physical illness was not diagnosed with somatoform, but in DSM-5, even if you are verifiably ill, they can still diagnose it as somaform if they decide you are complaining too much about the impact of your illness on your life.  So, some perfectly healthy doctor gets to decide if you are complaining too much about being sick.   There is no objective test that will identify a somatoform disorder, and that is the key.  It's not science.  It's JUNK science.

    I don't have time right now to talk about all the other problems in this case.  I'd like to drop by later and add more about the separation of powers, and how the use of state appointed guardians places too much power in the hands of doctors, and limits medical options for sick children, and therefore places severely ill children in danger.  

    It's a horrible mess, and the governor, the HHS secretary, DFS, BCH, the judge, and the parents all have some blame to share for what has happened.   And, it's Justina who may die from their mistakes.    

    I'll tell you this, the parents who raised that child know what makes her better and what makes her worse, and when you look at her before DFS and BCH, and look at her after DFS and BCH, you'll see that the parents showed better results than DFS and BCH did.

    •  Not only is this novel diagnosis junk science it (6+ / 0-)

      interferes with adequate medical treatment for their actual disease.

      Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

      by OHdog on Mon May 05, 2014 at 04:16:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots, DFWmom, wilderness voice

      First off, you and your child have my sympathies for coping with a troubling illness.

      Second, you are entirely correct that the world of psychiatry has changed the way they describe and diagnose these "somatization" disorders.  You are also correct that previously, psychiatrist believe that such a disorder should never be diagnosed when an actual physical illness is present.

      And I also agree with you that many doctors themselves have never had the experience of being ill - to say nothing of being chronically ill - so they have no appreciation of how and in what ways that is distressing.

      But thirdly, when BCH decided that they would seek custody of Ms. Pelletier, the payment for her care would thereafter be paid for by the tax-payers of Massachusetts.  This would mean for the hospital much reduced reimbursements for Ms. Pelletier's care - compared to what the hospital would get from Ms. Pelletier's insurers.  BCH received a small fraction of the cost of hospitalizing Ms. Pelletier.  In truth, the hospital lost a great deal of money when they decided to take over Ms. Pelletier's care.  And so did the tax-payers in Mass., who not only had to pay for all of Ms. Pelletier's care, but now also have to pay to feed, cloth, house, and educate her.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 06:14:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wilderness voice

        However, what BCH was going to get was NOTHING, because Justina's parents were not happy with their care, and were removing Justina from the hospital immediately.  A year's worth of reduced reimbursements is substantially more than Zero.

        Bottom line, there is a financial conflict of interest.  BCH profited from reporting Justina's family to DFS.  There should be a policy that in cases where the hospital reports the family, the child should be moved to a "neutral" medical care provider, to eliminate conflicts of interests wherever possible.  

        •  Payments for medical care (0+ / 0-)

          Let's say a psychiatrist charges $100 for making a consult on a hospitalized patient.  The doctor charges $100, but only gets that amount if the patient is paying out of pocket (and if the patient is wealthy enough to make the payment).  If the patient has insurance, the insurance company will agree to pay a smaller amount for the consult (say $70).  The doctor must accept the reduced payment or nothing at all.  If the care is being paid by Medicaid (as would be in the case of Justina Pelletier once the state of Mass. becomes her guardian), Medicaid agrees to pay even less (say $45) for the consult.

          This is all fine and well until you start figuring in what it costs the doctor to make that consult.  In the case of Justina Pelletier, we have a child receiving months of in-patient care (for which BCH charges something around $2000/day just to sleep in the bed overnight - no meds, no procedures).  BCH might receive half of that from Medicaid, but BCH has to pay for maintain the building, pay for nurses and orderlies, meals, linens, etc, etc.  In all likelihood, BCH LOST money on providing care for Ms. Pelletier.  Same thing for the doctors, who would much rather spend time with their self-paying patients than to spend time seeing an indigent child receiving Medicaid.

          I agree with you that there is a conflict of interest here - involving reputations, academic prestige, publicity, and other intangibles.  But I doubt any doctor made any "in the black" profit from treating Ms. Pelletier after she became a ward of the state.

          There is no financial reimbursement to a hospital for reporting child abuse to DFS - doctors and hospitals are required to do this by law.  HOWEVER (and this is hugely influential in this case), the Mass. family courts rely almost exclusively on the psychiatrists at BCH to tell the court about the mental state of children who appear before the court.  And with Ms. Pelletier, the court gets information about Ms. Pelletier's emotional issues and needs from the very same doctors who have convinced themselves this is a psychiatric disorder, not a medical disorder.  Because the court has a long-standing relationship with the psychiatrists at BCH, and because it costs more money to hear from other experts, the court goes with what it is being told by BCH.  The court is sadly misled in this case.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 08:25:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's a concern (0+ / 0-)

            Obviously, reasonable people can debate the point.  

            Even the appearance of a financial conflict of interest is problematic.    

            When the medical institution is receiving payments as a direct result of the conflict, by their refusal to discharge the patient as requested, it looks fishy, no matter how they may argue it is really costing them money.   At the end of the day, a big fat check is getting sent to them every month as a result of their actions.  You may argue it's not fat enough, but it's still a potential motive.  

            Don't report the child.  The child is discharged, and you don't receive any more money.

            Do report the child.  The child is hospitalized for a year, to the tune of about $2,000 per day... times 365 days per year...   Yes, it may cost a lot to keep the lights on, but it sure looks like they got a lot of money for holding on to that child.   And, I learned this from the airlines -- an empty seat (or an empty bed), can cost more money than one that has a paying passenger (or patient).   You still have to pay the staff, and pay to keep the lights on, even if the bed is empty.

          •  kids for cash conspiracy (0+ / 0-)

            "But I doubt any doctor made any "in the black" profit from treating Ms. Pelletier after she became a ward of the state."

            Dear Mr. Bissell,

            Think again about this statement, and Google the search terms "Dr. Biederman Boston fraud". In a congressional investigation by the Grassley committee it was found that Harvard Med School professor Charles Biederman in fact was collecting millions of dollars of money from drug companies as "consulting" fees.  Dr. Biederman practices at Mass General and Boston Children's and his is one of the leading advocates in America for pushing drugs on school children justified by his prolific "research" studies.  Of course the Greeley committee found that many of his "research" papers were Ghost Written by drug company employees who then paid Dr. Biederman and his colleagues to sign as authors. Boston Children s has a unique revolving door 51A scam going that allows them to abduct 400 children per year and convert them to "wards of the state".  The BCH Human Use policy allows human experimentation on such "wards of the state" without the need of informed consent from either the victim or the parents.  Justina and many of these children were locked up in the Bader 5 Psych ward where medical experimentation can take place behind closed doors and called "clinical research trials".   The hospital is paid millions of dollars for these clinical trials by drug companies and in some cases the NIH--  all to develop "research papers" to justify pushing more drugs on children.  So there are huge payments to hospitals and doctors, and probably to judges, political figures, and DCF personnel as well.  As a result of this studies show that about 50% of foster children are on drugs sold by the big Pharma drug cartel.  The huge amount of money involved in this is corrupting many of our institutions, and Justina is just one of hundreds of victims.
            --James L.

            •  Proof of these extra-ordinary claim (0+ / 0-)

              I hope you have some extra-ordinary proof to back up your extra-ordinary claims:
              - 400 children per year "abducted" by BCH
              - research on human child subjects done "behind closed doors"
              - all this done with the judge's permission

              Your proof for these claims - where can we see that?

              Given that this Grassley investigation took place back in 2009, we should now have all the evidence we need to put criminals in their place.  The outcome....?

              I see that Dr. Biederman was punished by Harvard U. (back in 2011) for failing to disclose payments.  He was barred from receiving money from drug companies for one year, and was made to get more training in conflicts of interest.  Not fired, not made to give up his license to practice medicine.  Hardly punishments commensurate with the wild conspiracies that you allege.

              I spent a good portion of my professional life doing exactly these kinds of studies of psychiatric meds on adult patients - some of it with funds from the drug companies.  So I know exactly - far more than you - what oversight is given to such studies.  

              You are perfectly entitled to dislike psychiatrists and/or drug companies.  But I will ask you to provide documentation when you allege conspiracies of this sort.

              "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

              by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 07:15:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Proof of Claims (0+ / 0-)

                Dear Mr. Bissell,

                I had the same reaction as you when I first heard of this, as I too have participated and led many legitimate medical research trials.   Johnson and Johnson was willing to spend $2.2 billion in a settlement to avoid public disclosure about many of the findings of Grassley, but still a lot seeped through the cracks and is available online.

                For example, if you want to read more about the 400 child abductions per year at Boston Children's, you can start here:
       and here:
                You can read more about what goes on behind closed doors at the infamous Bader 5 ward by reading nurse Katy Higgins whistle blower reports in many places and here:
                Regarding Judge's permission, you can read some more about how the 51A process at Boston Children's works under the direction of Dr. Alice Newton here:
                Since you are in the Psychiatry profession you would undoubtedly be able to find a lot better sources than I could because I am in a different field.  One of the problems with the Justina case and the 50 similar cases uncovered so far is that few doctors with direct knowledge have been willing to speak up so far.

                •  In Reply (0+ / 0-)

                  Thank you for providing the links above.

                  Full Disclosure: in 2008, I was awarded a grant from Astra-Zenaca to study the efficacy of Quitiapine (Seroquel) in treating recovering adult drug addicts.  I have also been the recipient of awards from NIH, the state of NY, and Harvard Medical School.

                  Now, the Constantine Report article says nothing at all about children being abducted for the purposes of clinical drug trials.  It does say that Dr. Biederman has recruited 4-6 year olds for a clinical drug trial.

                  The LiftingTheVeil blog reports that over an 18 month period, the psychiatry team at BCH sought to have 5 children (not 400/year) moved to custody of the state.  The article also reports that a Boston lawyer filed a complaint against the psychiatrists at BCH and the MA Dept of Public Health is reviewing the complaint.

                  The letter from Kathy Higgins reports only that children diagnosed with anorexia have at times been restrained and at times given psychotropic medication.  Neither of these practices are unique to Bader 5.

                  The Boston Globe article is well known to both of us and details the Pelletier case, but provides no further evidence of mass abductions from BCH.

                  I am inclined to dislike Dr. Biederman's enthusiasm for the diagnosis of childhood bipolar disorder.  Psychiatrists have been constantly changing the definition of bipolar disorder since it was first suggested as an illness.  This process continues today.  In England and parts of Europe, psychiatrists NEVER make a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and teens - their conception of bipolar disorder does not include a childhood variant.  So I think we still don't know what exactly bipolar disorder is, whether children can have bipolar disorder, and think medicating children for that uncertain purpose is problematic.

                  Despite my dislike of Dr. Biederman's research, I have not yet seen any evidence that convinces me he and BCH are engaged in a conspiracy to abduct children wholesale and use them as drug guinea pigs.

                  Here is a link to a NY Times article about the ties between Dr. Biederman and some drug companies:
                  I point out that the article can only identify that Dr. Biederman has failed to disclose some of the money he received from his pharmaceutical ties.  Since this article has appeared, the NY Times has not reported on any other misdoings by Dr. Biederman.  It seems to me that if Dr. Biederman was found guilty of other crimes, the NY Times would have reported on it.

                  "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                  by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue May 06, 2014 at 10:28:47 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Needs DOJ investigation (0+ / 0-)

                    Dear Mr. Bissell,

                    I agree that evidence of this conspiracy is circumstantial and we only get to see clues from published articles, testimonials from parents, and from details from public lawsuits.  My reference to 400 abductions per year was from the Boston Globe article that estimated 400 51A procedures are filed per year there.  Since the 51A procedure is obviously flawed based on the Justina case and many others, I consider all of these filings to be child abductions in which the child is deprived of all civil rights and the fundamental protection of his parents without due process.  

                    Yes the Harvard Medical School has covered up the sins of Dr. Biederman and allowed him to continue to do what he does. Harvard is also doing what it can to suppress reporting on the Justina case, but it seems to be getting out now due to the perseverance of the Pelletier family.

                    The evidence you are looking will only come from a DOJ investigation of the kind that uncovered the Pennsylvania "Kids for Cash" conspiracy in which the courts were paid by private prisons to send kids to their facilities.  Unfortunately since the dollars involved here are orders of magnitude greater than the Pa case, it seems unlikely that politicians will allow that kind of investigation in this case.

                    I'm busy at work today and didn't have time to put up more references, but there are hundreds of citations relevant to this discussion under the following search terms:

                •  Link to Pollack's complaint about BCH (0+ / 0-)

                  You might find this interesting

                  Here is a link to the complaint filed by lawyer Barry S. Pollack against BCH:

                  "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                  by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue May 06, 2014 at 10:51:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Justina Pelletier and Hannah Poling (2+ / 3-)

    Many have asked why BCH would do this. It's very simple.

    Hannah Poling also has mitochondrial disorder. Her parents (a neurosurgeon and a nurse/lawyer) received a multimillion dollar vaccine injury settlement in 2010, after Hannah had nine vaccines in one day and then immediately developed symptoms of severe autism. Public health officials said at that time that Hannah’s problems were the result not merely of her vaccines, but of a ‘rare underlying mitochondrial disorder’, although it is unclear if she was diagnosed with her mitochondrial disorder prior to receiving the vaccines. Many in the autism community at the time believed that mitochondrial disorders might not be all that rare.  

    Evidence over the last decade and a half is clear -- autism is iatrogenic. Now evidence is accumulating that mitochondrial damage is iatrogenic. The former head of the National Institute of Health, Dr. Bernadine Healy, spoke six years ago in an interview on CBS ( about the connection between autism and vaccines, and in that interview she also spoke of mitochondrial dysfunction in certain ‘susceptible individuals’.

    What we are seeing is medical terrorism.  Doctors and parents are being sent a chilling message, and if no price is paid by the people responsible for what has happened to Justina the message will get through loud and clear to doctors and patients and parents of patients. The message is this – ‘If you know what's good for you and your children, you'll shut up when you’re told to shut up.’

    •  I wish I could HR this. (0+ / 0-)
      Evidence over the last decade and a half is clear -- autism is iatrogenic.
      This is exactly 180 degrees from the truth.
      •  I can and I did, Praxical -- it's anti-vaxxer BS (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        poorly disguised as concern over "medical terrorism."

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Mon May 05, 2014 at 07:56:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  disagree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          As someone who is familiar with the FDA approval process, vaccines are tested individually for safety and effectiveness.  Demonstrating this to FDA standards is hard enough - no manufacturer is going to complicate this task by testing their product together with other vaccines.  Vaccines contain an adjuvant to stimulate the immune system. Giving multiple vaccines simultaneously is untested for safety, and could grossly overstimulate the immune system.  The result could be an immune reaction to innocent bystanders, e.g. autoimmunity, or allergy to foods, or whatever else happens to be around.

          I am not an anti- vaxxer.  But this practice is untested and unsafe and needs to be changed.

          •  Not only that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wilderness voice

            They are tested in India and other countries, where the pay the people they test them on, who need money, so they lie about whether they are participating in other trials.  

            •  Having worked in public health for the state of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Texas and seen what happens when pertussis gets loose in an unvaccinated population ... I will err on the side of caution here: get the shots. Spread them over a month or two if need be, but going without them kills children (pertussis is a nasty death, just like tetanus is).

              LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

              by BlackSheep1 on Mon May 05, 2014 at 04:38:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Case is troubling for psychiatry (4+ / 0-)

    This case is troubling from the perspective of psychiatry.

    The original diagnosis given by Boston Children's Hospital was Somatization Disorder.  Since the time that diagnosis was given, the field of psychiatry has published a new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version (DSM-V) that does away with that disease and now calls it Somatic Symptom Disorder.  So the diagnosis that Ms. Pelletier was given by Boston Children's Hospital no longer actually exists, according to psychiatrists.  And it is highly likely that should a child appear with similar symptoms and complaints 20 years from now, it is highly likely that some other name would be given to the disorder.

    This should tell everyone involved in this case that the way psychiatrists think about, diagnosis, and treat many  mental illnesses is evolving and changing.  This should indicate to everyone that psychiatry in fact knows very little about the science of human emotions and disorders of human emotions.  On this very shaky intellectual ground, the family judge has decided to permanently remove Ms. Pelletier from her home and her parents (against the expressed wishes of both Ms. Pelletier and her parents).  In essence, Ms. Pelletier's most cherished civil rights have been taken from her for the sake of a psychiatric diagnosis that is evolving and may not even exist in fact.

    During the previous 15 years that Ms. Pelletier lived with her parents, she attended school every year and participated in the sport of figure skating.  Now, she can only get around with a wheel-chair and has missed the last 18 months of school.  By all reports the Pelletier parents are demanding, aggressive, and unpleasant people.  Regardless of how nasty the Pelletier parents are, there can be no denying that Justina's health was much better when her parents were managing her care than under the care of Boston Children's Hospital.  In this case, the intervention of the family courts has been highly detrimental to Ms. Pelletier's physical and emotional health.  

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 06:01:38 AM PDT

    •  Human rights (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, mortje, wilderness voice

      Human rights don't only belong to the "nice" people.   Being unpleasant is not an excuse to deprive people of human rights.   A child has a right to live with her parents, and a parent has a right to care for his or her child.    That is an instinct older than time.   Everyone knows not to mess with Mama Bear or Papa Bear.   Heck yes, they're "unpleasant" when you're messing with their kid.    It's a fact of nature.

    •  Nasty parents?!??? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mortje, DFWmom, wilderness voice

      I joined the community just so I could reply to this, Mr. Bissell.  I am having serious issues with everyone calling Justina's parents "nasty" "demanding" and "unpleasant" people.  Personally, I am perfectly pleasant under normal circumstances.  You start messing with my children, taking away my parental rights, and putting their lives in jeopardy with a dubious, hastily reached diagnosis that contradicts that of the highly specialized doctor who reached HIS diagnosis over time and testing, however, and you better believe I'm going to get nasty, demanding, and unpleasant.  Ever seen a mama bear when she thinks her cubs are threatened in any way?  Pretty darned unpleasant, I would say.  Any parent who wouldn't aggressively demand that their child be given proper medical care, education, religious freedom, and the right to be with her family and friends doesn't deserve to be a parent, in my humble opinion.  

      •  I would be the same way (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DFWmom, wilderness voice

        I agree entirely with what you say.

        Any chronic illness is very stressful.  A chronic illness can make a patient and their loved ones upset, anxious, angry, resentful, the whole gamut of unpleasant emotions.  Many pediatricians will tell you the most challenging part of their practice is not managing the child's illness, but managing the parents emotions.

        Given that the Pelletier parents have not only had to cope with a poorly understood illness in their family, but also told that they must interrupt their interactions with their child, and be told they are bad parents, and be told the state is removing their child from their care, we can fully expect that any one of us would become raving foaming-at-the-mouth basket cases by such circumstances.

        I do not know the Pelletier parents; I do not know if they are nasty or not.  But demanding and aggressive is what we hope concerned parents would be in seeking care for their sick kids.

        The shame here is that the judge is so high and mighty he cannot understand how his own actions and the actions of the court have contributed to whatever unpleasant behaviors he finds in the Pelletier parents.  Instead the judge chooses to punish the Pelletier parents for his own failings.  (See the link in another comment to the judge's ruling)      

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 08:41:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Truthfully... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilderness voice

          I have some suspicions about the parents.  The manner in which the mother "collapsed" at the hearing was a bit concerning, but not conclusive.     I suspect there are issues.  But, is that sufficient cause to violate the rights of both parents, and the child?    Most parents have issues.   No one is perfect.    It has to be extreme in order to start depriving people (and children) of their civil rights.    

          There are TWO parents.  The two parent system often compensates if there is a parent with "issues".   And there are two other adult family members who could stand in their stead as her guardian, if they were truly unfit.   So, I cannot justify the use of a state appointed guardian, because I am not convinced that every effort has been made to allow Justina to continue to receive the protection and advocacy of her family.  In fact, I am fairly certain based on available information those efforts have not been made.    Justina's ADULT sister has been advocating strongly on her behalf, and would be more than willing to act as her guardian.  So, what is supposedly wrong with HER?   Except that, perhaps, she disagrees with the BCH diagnosis, on the basis of professional opinion from Tufts?   How many reasonable adults have to disagree with a situation before you start to consider maybe they have a point?    Do you declare them ALL unfit?    As the numbers rise, the State's argument that they just can find a single adult family member who is suited to care for a child (when there are two perfectly healthy kids right there, raised by the same parents), the State's arguments start to fall apart.

    •  Wikipedia (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      I know a lot of people scorn wikipedia, but they do have a nice list of some examplesof "psychiatry" over the years, and how it is used to deprive people of their rights.  

      The manner in which black people have been "diagnosed" over the years is of particular interest.    Psychiatry is right up with The Drug War, in perpetuating gross civil rights violations against certain segments of our population -- usually the ones who protest or say no, or slaves who have the temerity to try to escape.

    •  Well Psychiatry is a questionable 'science'... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      to begin with because it is almost impossible to apply the 'scientific method' to. many people given the same situation but are in a different 'mood'with give different results.

      Just as an example I like to have analytical discussions, but sometimes i'm just not in the mood and will just pass up an opportunity even though most of the time I won't.

      How do you apply the scientific method' to that? I was a psych minor in college and if anything I learned how imprecise a 'science' psychiatry is.

      I'm no Scientologist  but I do believe modern psychiatry may be doing as much harm as good. Its just too imprecise to really make solid evaluations. So many kids these days are 'ADHD' but when I was a kid they were just 'hyper' and generally turned out fine,if not 'go getters' from their high energy.

      Now they start doping them up during critical developmental stages of childhood and i can see that being good.

      Join the DeRevolution: We are not trying to take the country, we are trying to take the country back. Get the money out of politics with public financed campaigns so 'Of the People, By the People and For the People' rings true again.

      by fToRrEeEsSt on Mon May 05, 2014 at 10:41:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No (0+ / 0-)

        Most adults can easily see that there exist people who clearly have psychiatric disorders.  There can really be no honest denying that people who have what we today call schizophrenia or bipolar disorder have an obvious chronic illness that is not attributable to any organ system other than the nervous system.

        So psychiatric disorders clearly exist.  And researchers use the scientific method to try and understand the causes, natural history of, and treatment of these disorders - I can say this emphatically because I was once one of those researchers.

        Sadly, researchers and doctors have made little headway in understanding the physiology of any of the psychiatric disorders.  Our understanding of normal human emotions and emotional response is minimal, so trying to understand how those emotions go wrong and what to do to treat that problem is likewise minimal.

        But while the understanding is minimal, that does not mean that the search for understanding is not scientific.

        Now you can argue that the practice of psychiatry today  does more harm than good, and I can even provide you with plenty of evidence to bolster such an argument.  But I will always argue that we should nonetheless try to better our understanding of psychiatric illness, and to relieve the suffering of psychiatric illness when possible.  And I will further argue that many psychiatrists seek to do exactly that - and use the scientific method in their search.

        In the world of medicine, psychiatry is an infant.  You don't kill the baby because it is ignorant, you nurture it knowing that the future holds promise.

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 01:32:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem... (0+ / 0-)

          The problem is in the area of "personality" disorder.    When you start classifying undesirable behavior as a "disease", it gets to be dangerously 1984-ish, such as "diagnosing" a slave who wants to escape, or a black person who attempts to register at an all-white school.  You have created the perfect tool for government to bypass civil rights laws, and imprison people "for their own good", even if they didn't break any law.    This is particularly concerning, when you note the judge in this case devoted a great deal of his opinion to complaining about the protesting behavior of the parents.    

  •  This is especially how medicine is practiced in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, wilderness voice

    Bible belt where obedience is confused with accountability.
    There are huge consequences of a doctor labels you non compliant which simply means refusing to do or take whatever medicine or services he wants.

    •  Massachusetts (0+ / 0-)

      Massachusetts isn't generally considered to be The Bible Belt.

      •  Massachusetts SHOULD be considered so (0+ / 0-)

        given the Salem Witch Trials.

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Mon May 05, 2014 at 07:58:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  :) (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilderness voice, BlackSheep1

          Made me laugh.  To me, the Bible Belt is EVERYWHERE.   Atheist living in Texas.   Have mercy upon my soul.

        •  Party like it's 1699! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          So I am sitting in the chambers of the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts one day watching the commonwealth's presidential electors vote for the first black president. I notice up on the wall several paintings - some a bit the worse for wear - depicting milestones on the road to freedom.

          Son of a bitch if one of them isn't one of the morons - maybe more than one moron, this is waaaay back in 2008 - responsible for the Salem witch trials formally and publicly apologizing for them.

          Our ancient and dishonorable religious nutjobs moved, died off, or just faded away. Leaving us to our heathen selves. Mostly anyway.

          Not to say that,  over the centuries since that dark smudge on our history, we have been perfect or without some religious driven embarrassments. But seriously, after 300 or so years isn't  the "Bible Belt" thing a bit puritanical? That 86 year World Series thing (which ended the year we legalized marriage equality. Coincidence?) was bad enough. But, bless our little Calvinist hearts, 300 years is a bit of a grudge.

          Bloody hell, we said we were sorry.

          A man does as he is when he can do what he wants

          by BobBlueMass on Mon May 05, 2014 at 11:56:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Link to Judge's Ruling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    Here is a link to the full ruling by Judge Johnson regarding Ms. Pelletier:

    The full ruling is only 4-5 pages and is interesting reading.  The judge mentions 4 or 5 times that the family court in Conn. refused to take this case (the Pelletier family resides in Conn., not Mass. - at least now I know why a MA judge was ruling on a child custody case involving a Conn. family), and the language of the statement suggests Judge Johnson was very frustrated with the Conn. family court for not taking this mess off his hands.

    The judge's statements about the Pelletier parents also suggests the judge was pretty frustrated with them as well.

    After reading the judge's decision, I get the feeling the judge acted more out of frustration and spite than because he thought this is in the best interests of Ms. Pelletier.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 07:42:39 AM PDT

    •  I got that impression too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      One of the big clues is that he spends more time talking about the behavior of the parents, which he clearly finds obnoxious, how they treated OTHER people, rather than how they treated their daughter, and their daughter's actual medical condition.  


      •  Obnioxious - or not agreeing with the judge? (0+ / 0-)

        Are the Pelletier parents behaving obnoxiously - or are the Pelletier parents acting like parents who disagree with the judge?

        Everyone who writes about this cases says the Pelletier parents are not very pleasant to be around.  Which may well be true.  But as you note, this is inadequate cause to remove a child from caring parents.

        Now ask yourself, if there were parents who were told their kid had a medical illness, but refused to get treatment for that medical illness because the parents are convinced their kid has some sort of emotional issue, would that be grounds to claim neglect of the child and to seek removing the child from the home?  Perhaps, yes.  

        Interestingly, now that Mass. has taken on the role of parents for this child, we could make a good claim that Mass. has been neglectful in the care of Ms. Pelletier's medical condition.  After all, the diagnosis of mitochondrial disorder was made and seconded by board-certified physicians with expertise in the are of mitochondrial disorder.  Yet, despite this diagnosis, Mass. has made a conscious decision not to seek treatment for this disorder.  That should be cause for a complaint of neglect of the child.

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 01:14:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  More (0+ / 0-)

          We could make the same claim they did.  They claimed there was no evidence she had mito.   But, it is also impossible to provide scientific evidence of somatoform.    It's an opinion fest with no science in sight.

          It seems that sauce for the goose isn't sauce for the gander when it comes to the government.  They can make unscientific claims, and take away people's civil rights, all day long, apparently.

          •  Indeed. (0+ / 0-)

            Very true.  While there is no medical test that will rule out mitochondrial disease, there are at least some tests that can rule in some varieties of mitochondrial disorder.

            However, there is no test of any sort that can unmistakably rule in or rule out any psychiatric disorder.

            Now that the courts have ruled that Ms. Pelletier has a psychiatric disorder and not a medical disorder (hey, medical diagnosis by judicial decree - what a concept!!), Ms. Pelletier will never get a work-up or treatment for (perhaps) any medical condition.  Pneumonia?  "Quit faking it, kid!"  Broken leg?  "ignore her, she somatizes her feelings".

            In my opinion, the state of MA. is guilty of neglecting Ms. Pelletier's medical condition, and someone should ask the courts to remove their custody of her.

            "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

            by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:15:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  State Appointed Guardian (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In Justina's case, there was a mother and father, and two aunts.    So WHY was there a state appointed guardian?    Can the state prove that ALL of her adult next of kin are unfit guardians?    To my knowledge, they never really tried.  There was an agenda to gain complete control over decision-making in Justina's case., and the use of a state-appointed guardian accomplishes that goal.   Seeking a family member who could represent Justina's interests would mean that Justina had an advocate who was less influenced by what the State wants and what the Hospital wants, and so the State and the Hospital can consolidate power by using a State appointed guardian.   That is why we need very strict rules over the use of state appointed guardians.   We need to require that next of kin be given control when guardians are deemed unfit, unless they refuse, or can be proven to be not fit to be guardians.

    A child exercises control over her life by manipulating the parent, often through using the parent's instinctive affection for the child.    Everyone knows how a child can learn to "push your buttong".  This is healthy behavior, a child exerting control over her environment.   In this case, the child is fifteen (just turned sixteen), only just over two years from being considered an adult.  It is appropriate for her to exercise some control over her life.   It is NECESSARY for her psychological health.

    A state appointed guardian is doing a job as a guardian, not parenting.  The guardian often doesn't even live with the child and doesn't have the love and affection of a parent.  The guardian is not "attuned" to the child like a parent is.   And, the child is less attuned to the guardian, if she can even gain access to the guardian.   The guardian relies on "da rules" to make decisions, and the child's preferences are much less of a factor.   There are no "buttons" to push.    Also, the guardian has very little instinct for how environment and choices are affecting the child's welfare.  It's all done intellectually.   Finally, the guardian must be mindful of legal issues, and therefore will depend on a doctor's recommendation more than a parent, out of fear of legal repercussions for having a documented decision that is contrary to a doctor's reccomendation.  

    In Justina's case, the parents and hospital were in conflict, and the guardian was using the hospital in an advisory capacity.  Obvious, the balance of power in this conflict was engineered to be in favor of the hospital.     Due to the use of a state appointed guardian, Justina and her parents never had a chance.    All the power was consolidated away from Justina and her parents.    The best interest of the child is to maintain a balance of power to protect her from excess.   The appointment of a state appointed guardian instead of using a member of family, places a great deal of power in the hands of the hospital, and leaves the child and family without an important check on the hospital's and the state's power.  

    When a family member is the guardian, they spend more time with the child and are better attuned to her needs, and are freer to seek second opinions, and try different medical approaches.  In State care, the kid gets stuck into one place, medically, and rots there.

    To place a child in foster care is to do great psychological harm.   We need to ask what benefits have accrued to Justina from this situation that are sufficient to balance that great harm that has been done to her --  depriving her of liberty and free will, imposing medical treatments on her that she does not consent to (a physical violation of her body -- remember -- young teen girl), restricting her access to her family and loved ones, restricting her access to education, restricting her access to religious events.    How can be justify subjecting her to all of this, based on a diagnosis that cannot be scientifically verified, that doctors are on record as disputing?

    The medical treatment that the hospital objected to was a treatment recommended by and performed by a doctor who was licensed by the state.   How can a parent be blamed for a doctor's misconduct, if, indeed, the medical treatment was medical misconduct.  Shouldn't the doctor be penalized, not the parents?  

    There are so many things wrong with this case that it's hard to get a handle on all of them.     It is terribly, horribly wrong, as most gross violations of human rights, are.

    •  Troubling case (0+ / 0-)

      You will notice that the Pelletier family resides in Connecticut, yet it is a Massachusetts family court that is making decisions.

      This case is very troubling from a medical perspective because of the conflicting medical vs. psychiatric diagnoses, and the very questionable and very poorly-understood nature of the Somatic Symptom Disorder.

      AND the case is very troubling from a legal perspective, wherein a judge from one states makes decisions regarding a family residing in a different state.

      Indeed, Judge Johnson says in his ruling that the Mass. court repeatedly tried to get the Conn. court involved in this case.  For better or worse, the Conn. court refused to take up this case.  

      It appears me that the Conn. court did not find anything wrong with the parenting of the Pelletier family.  And it really will turn your head around when you understand that Justina's older sister was also diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder and received treatment for the same.  So if the Pelletier parents are guilty of abusing Justina by treating her mitochondrial disorder, they are also guilty of mistreating their other child in the same way.  Yet, the Mass. court has not sought to remove the older sister from the Pelletier home (I think the older sister is now beyond the age of 18).

      Anyway you look at it, this case is a troubling mess.  I would hope the judge would see all these issues and act very cautiously.  Sadly, no, Judge Johnson rushed in, where the angels of the Conn,. court feared to go.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon May 05, 2014 at 09:09:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And, oddly (0+ / 0-)

        The older sister appears quite healthy and happy, and quite feisty.  I've spoken to her online.  So arguing that the parenting was toxic is a bit counter-intuitive, when we have the results to see for ourselves.

  •  Too many kids taken (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DFWmom, wilderness voice

    Thank you very much for covering this story. I'm so glad that one of these cases is getting attention. Have you heard of Hannah and Kayla Diegel? They are from Arizona and are 10 and 12 years old. They have many health problems, including mitochondrial disease and paralyzed stomachs. Hannah is autistic. In early April, their mother took them to the hospital because Hannah's feeding tube was leaking. She had just fired the girls' doctor because he hadn't been returning her calls about the tube. He was the doctor at the hospital. The mother didn't want him and was going to get a second opinion. The hospital took the girls and the doctor then stopped use of their feeding tubes, even though he was the one who had put them in in the first place. Like Ms. Pelletier, they were not given to other relatives.

  •  Mass. Seized This Child, Resident Of Another State (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The parents were in Boston to see another specialist, and apparently the doctor that started all this trouble was some guy that wandered through and was unfamiliar with this specialty or the medical history.  To me it's mindboggling that parents on a day trip to MA can have their child seized.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Mon May 05, 2014 at 11:20:52 AM PDT

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