By Kenneth Eng


This is a recollection of my experiences in the mental health system. I am a psychiatric survivor, and I want to spread awareness of the damage that psychiatry inflicts on people.


Incident 1:


About a decade ago, I was institutionalized against my will. They claimed that I was exhibiting “erratic behavior” because I was angry at my school counselor. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with experiencing anger; it is a normal emotion. Regardless, I was taken to the hospital intake, where several hispanic patients referred to me as “chino” (a derogatory word against Asian people).


When I was placed in the ward, which was mostly populated by Asian patients like me, I told the psychiatrist, Doctor Stearns, that I needed to return home in order to contact my editor (I was in the process of having a book published). I told him that if I did not contact my editor, the book would be canceled, and I expressed how important this was to me. He accused me of exhibiting “catastrophic thinking”, and said that if this happened, I can always publish the book myself. He did not understand how difficult it was to get a publishing contract, and used my despair as further evidence that I should be institutionalized.


Over the next few days, I heard and saw black nursing staff members poking fun at the Asian patients. They laughed at our culture, our names, and one of them said, “Chinese people do nothing but pick their noses. After being here, I refuse to buy Chinese food.” We were afraid to report this to Doctor Stearns because we might have been marked insane for accusing the nurses of unacceptable behavior.


We were forced to take part in these events called “groups”. In these group sessions, we were made to do degrading things, like draw with crayons and make faces out of paper plates. It was as though we were in kindergarten. In one of these sessions, one of the patients claimed that she was normal and that she was only placed in the hospital because her family thought otherwise. The psychiatrist replied, “That’s the problem. You disagree with the majority.”


Later on, Doctor Stearns thought I was delusional and asked that he see my novel. He could have easily googled my name and found the novel, but he still insisted that he see it. The book had not yet been published, but I had no choice but to show it to him otherwise he might have kept me in there longer. When I showed it to him, he read it in a public area where people could easily have seen it and stolen the idea. When I asked him not to do this, he condescendingly replied, “Who? Who is going to steal it?”


This was my first experience with psychiatry, but it was not my last.


Incident 2:


I became a well-known journalist because of my controversial opinions. When I tried to defend the Virginia Tech shooter, the police set me up for a crime I did not commit and arrested me.


Normally, I would have been placed on bail and released from prison pending a trial, but the prosecutor used what is called a 730 exam. This law allows the American court to keep me in prison in order to perform a psychiatric evaluation on me. The prosecutor used my controversial opinions to convince the judge that I should be evaluated. His evidence? He told the judge that because of my controversial political views and my accusations toward some people who committed crimes against me, I was delusional and abnormal, and therefore in need of psychiatric help. The judge agreed, and sent me to jail essentially because I was unusual. The 730 exam allows suppression of freedom of speech in America.


I was in jail for a month because of this.


Incident 3:


I was institutionalized yet again for abnormal behavior. This time, I was placed in a ward populated mostly by blacks. Most of them hurled racial slurs at me on a daily basis, and neither the nurses nor the psychiatrists cared. However, when I defended myself, I was locked in the solitary confinement room and forced to take strong medications. They also claimed that because I defended myself, I was deranged, and used this as a reason to keep me locked up for longer.


In one case, a black nurse thought I was trying to bump into him. He followed me down the hall, grabbed me, and shoved me twice. I took this to the head nurse, who then told me that if I ever brought up the issue again, he would place me in restraints, inject me, and press charges to put me in prison. When I asked other nurses to do something about it, they just said, “Mr. Eng, just don’t start trouble.” Contrary to stereotypical beliefs, the white inmates actually defended me. One of them, a Neo-Nazi, saw the entire thing and asked me, “Are you alright, Kenneth?”


In sum, I believe psychiatry is the worst thing mankind has ever created since religion.