Thursday, April 5, 2012

Free Cheryl Miller Now!

I find it tellingly strange that an introvert woman who goes by the name of Cheryl Miller, can be virtually strong armed and kidnapped from her work place by mental health officials and carted off to a mental health institution and drugged up without her next of kin being notified and without having apparently been evaluated by a psychiatric doctor. What is even more strange is this incident has a occurred after a mere couple weeks, March 23rd to be exact, when our Minister of Health Dr. Faud Khan stated, "Some 500 of the 822 patients at the St Ann's Hospital are not supposed to be at the mental institution. Sixty per cent of the patients do not need to be here and they are just social cases where the family themselves do not want to take responsibility for the patient. They are social patients, chronic care patients that do not need to be in a hospital setting because they do not have acute in-house psychiatric illness."

The issue surrounding Cheryl Miller has to do with her allegedly raising her voice at another co-worker because she felt she was being victimized. Now as someone who has never been described as insane, I must say I have worked in many organisations where I have witnessed loud boisterous altercations between co-workers, myself being a partaker of such outbursts at times. Such behavior while generally frowned upon socially is a regular occurrence on any given day in any establishment, and not just in the work environment but at home in domestic settings.

One must beg the question as a free thinking citizen, what did this woman do that would have caused her employer, the Ministry of Gender and Youth Affairs to institutionalize her? What acute in-house psychiatric illness did she display that warranted Minister Verna St Rose to come on national radio and say this woman was institutionalized "out of concern" for her. Ms. Miller is certainly not a patient whose family has deserted her, as her family were not even notified by the Ministry of Gender and Youth Affairs that they were institutionalizing Ms. Miller and her family has been visiting her and demanding her release so again I ask the question on what basis is this woman being held? Who is the medical practitioner that issued the medical certificate for her confinement as ought to have been done as per the Mental Health Act? Why was she committed to an asylum without her next of kin being notified?

Ms. Miller's co-workers have been staging daily protests for her release, some of them having worked with the quiet lady for 15 odd years. While they have outrightly described Ms. Miller as "strange" none of her co-workers have described her as insane, as having exhibited violent tendencies or any acute psychiatric illness. One co-worker went so far to say that Cheryl will use folders to box her self in at her desk so she would not have to communicate with people. He further went on to say that she has a penchant for mathematics and if something was off by a cent she will look for it and find it. The co-worker further stated that when he first saw her box her self in with the files it was a bit "strange" for him but after he got to know her he realized that's just how Ms. Miller is, and he worked with her for 15 odd years without a problem. One must call on Minister St Rose to state categorically what exactly is the problem now, because she as the Minister of Gender and Youth Affairs has not worked at the Ministry as long as Ms Miller and her co-workers, so what is the basis for St Rose's "concern".

While I may not be a medical practitioner, the behaviorial characteristics described of Ms Miller does not suggest to me an insane person. It suggest to me of someone who is suffering with a disability such as Asperger Syndrome, a form of Autism which is described as a "spectrum disorder" because it affects people in different ways. Medical professionals describe it as a "hidden disability" because people cannot easily tell someone has the disability from their outward appearance. People with Asperger Syndrome have extreme difficulty reading body language which makes it very difficult for them to communicate with others, they tend to be of average intelligence and in some cases above average intelligence having a penchant for subjects such as mathematics as in Ms Cheryl Miller's case. They are affected in three main areas, social communication, social interaction and social imagination.

People with Asperger Syndrome have difficulty expressing themselves in the following ways:-

  • have difficulty understanding gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice
  • have difficulty knowing when to start or end a conversation and choosing topics to talk about
  • use complex words and phrases but may not fully understand what they mean
  • be very literal in what they say and can have difficulty understanding jokes, metaphor and sarcasm. For example, a person with Asperger syndrome may be confused by the phrase 'That's cool' when people use it to say something is good.
Their difficulty with social interaction will include:-
  1. not understand the unwritten 'social rules' that most of us pick up without thinking. For example, they may stand too close to another person, or start an inappropriate topic of conversation
  2. struggle to make and maintain friendships
  3. find other people unpredictable and confusing
  4. become withdrawn and seem uninterested in other people, appearing almost aloof
  5. behave in what may seem an inappropriate manner.

While none of us may know what Cheryl Miller is suffering with, the Ministry of Youth and Gender Affairs carting her off to the mad house to be confined and drugged up without notifying her family seems to be an exaggerated and draconian manner for dealing with someone exhibiting the characteristics of Cheryl Miller. It would seem that not only Ms Miller constitutional rights were violated but also her human rights as per the United Nations Charter on Human Rights. We have a civic duty, each and every one of us to find out exactly what happened to this woman as it could be you or your family members.

Nothing short of a full investigation is required and anyone found culpable of violating the Mental Health Act and Ms. Miller's constitutional and human rights should be hauled before a court of law and be dealt with accordingly. It is not good enough for anyone to make a random accusation of insanity against someone and have them carted off to the mad house with just one phone call, no questions asked and no family notified. If that should be the case then we are bordering on becoming a despotic country the likes of Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany, where the state can incarcerate any citizen on the flimsiest of pretexts i.e. insanity. FREE CHERYL MILLER NOW!!

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Finger Licking Good!!!!

Finger Licking Good!!!!
A moment every Trini could relate to :-)