How often do you hear a seriously mentally ill person exclaim “that’s my right.” This faulty
thinking is the product of years inside of the Public Mental Health Care System where patients are indoctrinated about their
rights and learn to demand them without thought. In simplest terms, a Right is something that cannot be taken away from you. A Privilege
is something that must be earned.
As we dig deeper into this simple distinction, we see that a full understanding of real life
meaning and significance can be elusive and often results in dysfunctional thinking and behavior. Dysfunctional thinking and
behavior is a precursor to dangerous situations. The truth is that all
rights can be taken away for cause. Your rights are always limited by the impact or interference caused to another person’s
rights. Do you have the right to speak if your mouth is next to my ear and you have invaded my personal space? Do you have
the right to spend your money anyway you want if you are broke within a week of getting your money? Sometimes the answer to
the above questions is NO, you don’t have the right. Sometimes the answer to the above questions is Yes, but very serious
consequences will result if you exercise your right. If a serious consequence results from exercising a Right, is it really
a Right that cannot be taken away from you?
The seriously mentally ill are taught to think in ways that
are illogical and ineffective in real life settings and we wonder why they cannot succeed. The seriously mentally ill deserve
to be given the truth and asked to be accountable for their behavior consistent with their respective abilities. When abilities
demonstrate competence for independence, then independence should be encouraged. When abilities demonstrate a lack of competence
for independence, then a supported and protected environment should be demanded. Are we protecting patient’s rights
when we allow psychosis, homelessness, danger, and/or death to be experienced? All people of common sense would agree that
this situation is not a protection of any right. Only in the world of mental health can faulty thinking of this magnitude
be found. Since the preponderance of care to the seriously mentally ill has become the responsibility of the Public Mental
Health Care System, the faulty thinking rests inside of them. In other words, our tax supported public mental health care
system is the faulty thinking.
A privilege which must be earned can therefore be lost. You can drive if you pass the test. You lose
the privilege to drive if you fail to follow the rules. Many of the freedoms that all citizens enjoy are really privileges
which result from personal responsibility and accountability. The seriously mentally ill do not in general understand this
reality and when denied access or use of something they want, they get mad or demanding. The John Henry Model recognizes the
critical necessity for the seriously mentally ill to learn to accept consequences, accept NO without an angry reaction and
to know the difference between a right and a privilege.
This teaching page is weaved into nearly every other teaching page as its value and significance
never diminishes and its relevance is found daily in patient behavior and thinking. The John Henry Model
does not dismiss the importance of patient’s Right’s, but, the overcorrection from the era
of institutionalization has created a reality perhaps far worse. The resultant era of criminalization with the heartless,
self protective, and disingenuous attitude displayed by the Public Mental Health Care System to protect a Right which
allows human decay and death, is reprehensible.