Managing Editor's Note: We in the autism community have been watching the Justina Pelletier case with horror (there is no softer word) as Children's Hospital of Boston took the teen from her family earlier this year. Dr. Keith Ablow, popular psychiatrist, had this to say about the case on Fox. You can link over to the FOX site to read the full post - we choose to excerpt - but the final paragraph is critical:
Yet, I also know that a teenager has been taken from her family. I know that she was once a figure skater and has, since her time at Children’s Hospital, been photographed in a wheelchair. I know that she reportedly passed a note to her parents recently that accused the hospital of abusing her. And I am absolutely sure that if the medical records or other evidence cannot prove beyond a doubt that Linda and Lou Pelletier placed Justina in mortal danger by virtue of their psychopathology or willful negligence as parents, Children’s Hospital should be brought to its knees by paralyzing civil suits and criminal complaints, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should be exposed for what it may have become: a state that, under the determined leadership of Gov. Deval Patrick (who, by the way, threatened to jail anyone driving during a snowstorm this winter), teeters on the brink of abandoning all pretense of individual freedom.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Dinner With The Familyof Justina Pelletier
In case you’ve ever wondered, when you take a psychiatrist to dinner (especially a forensic psychiatrist, like me), he doesn’t leave the office 100 percent. No well-trained psychiatrist can. The “third ear” we develop during training – the one that catches meaningful turns of phrase or attempts to be evasive – can’t be left at the office door entirely.
When I had dinner with Lou and Linda Pelletier and three of their four daughters, Jennifer, Jessica and Julia, a few nights ago in Massachusetts, I wasn’t trying to evaluate them. They aren’t my patients. But I was listening for discordant psychological notes, nonetheless – ones that might tell me I was sitting with people destructive enough to merit permanently losing custody of their teenage daughter Justina.
For anyone who hasn’t heard the story, the Pelletiers brought Justina to Boston Children’s Hospital early last year for a consultation related to complications from what they had been told was mitochondrial disease, a complex and controversial physical disorder diagnosed in Justina by doctors at New England Medical Center in Boston (and with which another of their daughters has also been diagnosed). Instead, the Pelletiers were told by a doctor who intervened in her consultation that Justina had no physical ailment, but was, instead, suffering from somatoform disorder – physical symptoms caused not by underlying bodily abnormalities but by underlying psychological issues.
The Pelletiers did not want to leave Justina at Children’s Hospital, but they were not allowed to take her home. She was seized by the hospital, which asserted the Pelletiers would not accept their daughter’s obvious psychiatric disorder and, therefore, clearly would impede needed treatment. Courts in Massachusetts have agreed, recently awarding permanent custody of Justina to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).
The inherent accusation by Children’s Hospital in all of this has to be that the Pelletiers are extremely toxic people, psychologically – enough either to cause their daughter to have very severe musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and neurological problems, or to make them unfit to choose the proper course of treatment for their daughter’s mental illness, ever.
Now, on to my dinner with Lou and Linda Pelletier and their three other daughters. And keep in mind, this was not an evaluation. But I am a psychiatrist, and I don’t stop being one when the appetizers arrive.
First, I noticed that each person at the table spoke independently, and sometimes out of turn. Occasionally, one or the other would complain that someone else had interrupted, and that person would apologize and wait his or her turn. It was clear to me that Lou and Linda Pelletier had not deprived their children of all independence and autonomy.
Each member of the family ordered what he or she wanted, without asking Lou or Linda for permission and without any criticism or second-guessing.
Second, I noticed that the Pelletier daughters talked among themselves when Lou, Linda and I were discussing some matter more intently at the other end of the table. I don’t doubt the young women engage in plenty of infighting at times, but they clearly have regard for one another and show real warmth toward one another.
Read the full editorial at Fox here.