Terminator 2 was running last weekend, and watching it, I was kind of struck by the shitty picture it paints of the mental health industry. Not just the creepy security guard who licked Sarah Conner when he thought she was unresponsive, though that's disturbing. But I knew that already.
But this was the first time I really noticed that mocking laugh the lady doctor gives as Dr. Silberman describes Sarah's "delusion". We know Sarah's not crazy, but it's not so much they're wrong and stupid, as that they treat it as a joke. They actually think she's sick, but there's no compassion, or attempt to understand. Silberman doesn't even explain why he thinks she'd have this belief. She's a joke to them, a curiosity to gawk at. It means they don't have to take her seriously, which is why that creepy guard can assault a patient like that. Either she's comatose and won't remember it, or she will remember, but no one will believe her.
And that whole bit where they watch the recording of one of her earlier sessions, where she's yelling about how they're all dead, and Sarah mentions that Silberman had said if she showed improvement, she might be allowed to at least see her son. Silberman blows her off with some line about how he thinks she's just pretending so she can get to a lower security wing, where it'll be easier to escape. And so he's going to keep her where she is for another 6 months.
Here's the thing. Silberman is right. Sarah is trying to behave - by a definition of that word that means, 'tell the doc what he wants to hear" - so she can get to lower security and escape. And given she stabbed him with a pen just a few weeks ago, she's hardly been on her best behavior for very long. Still, there's something a little scary about that. Silberman dangles that carrot in front of her, so she tries to be what he says he wants (even though he's an idiot). And then he decides, "Nope, not good enough," and stretches the stick out further. It feels like a way for him to get less trouble from her, without having to ever deliver on his side of things.
This is the thing that's always spooked me about the mental health profession. That someone could declare me crazy and have me locked up, and then where the hell am I? Once you're in, how do you get out? They make the rules, they guard the gate, they can move the goal posts as often as they'd like. That's the sort of thing that concerns me.