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Should women and men be housed separately in psychiatric wards to prevent patient-on-patient sexual assault?

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6 Comments

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Yes, we tend to give men the benefit of the doubt regarding their sexual peccadilloes, but women are clearly always at fault.
    On another topic, having been hospitalized before in a psychiatric hospital, I have to say that I’ve never really observed any kind of negative interaction between men and women. I think at times there’s a sort of inclination to isolate the most severe cases and keep them so sedated that they can’t cause problems, which is a whole different ethical issue.
    Another issue altogether is the fact that people often meet and end up starting what can become the beginnings of romantic/sexual relationships. I will be completely honest (like usual) and admit that I met a fellow patient in a psychiatric hospital, who, once we were both discharged became a steady sexual partner.

  2. asseenontv
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Ha ha. Dr. Drew made up sexual addiction to keep his career going. (Look it up in DSM-IV, it isn’t there). Then Tiger Woods decided that he was a “sex addict” rather than an “asshole.” But women who have lots of sex are still “sluts.”
    I suppose calling men victims is fair, but holding women to the same standard is whining.

  3. A male
    Posted May 20, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    During nursing school I did my rotation at the local psychiatric hospital. Patients there ran the gamut from voluntary admissions who could basically come and go at will, to those admitted directly from police arrest, or were being held locally until room at the main state psychiatric hospital opened up for long term care. There were also emergency admissions who were on suicide watch. Except for the time out room (no real solitary or isolation room), they were housed together, male and female, but in separate rooms.
    There I met a certified (three or four offenses) sex offender. He was also clearly mentally ill, with a medical history, who did not appear to understand personal boundaries (more like a child), not like most malicious sexual predators you hear of. He was awaiting placement at the main psychiatric hospital. I did not consider it wise to have men like that together with especially vulnerable women down to 18. Those considered dangerous were held in jail or prison, and segregated by sex.
    Security consisted of very close monitoring of behavior, the nursing station was in the midst of the ward, and open to the common area, with very little privacy in sleeping areas, and cameras in the sitting area. There were was a maximum 4:1 ratio of patients to staff (night) when full, and at least double that, plus at least one doctor and support staff during weekdays. Uniformed security kept out of sight unless necessary, to avoid agitating patients. I consider that much safer than my mixed nursing home where I am responsible for 20 residents at a time at night. At my nursing home, it is the staff who are occasionally abused by the clients (men and women who don’t keep their hands to themselves, again not malicious, they have seriously impaired mental capacity), they fortunately do not abuse each other.

  4. kandela
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    Most sources will tell you that those with mental health issues like depression are actually less likely to be violent. I would have presumed that includes sexual violence.
    The story quoted said 8% of women in institutions reported being forced into a sexual act against their will. Compare that to estimates of how many women in the general community have been raped. The first study I found after a brief search (http://www.buffalo.edu/news/fast-execute.cgi/article-page.html?article=70510009) said 17% between the ages of 18 and 30 have been raped, with 38% experiencing sexual victimisation.
    From this I can only conclude that women in psychiatric institutions are safer than those in the rest of society.

  5. The Boggart
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Scanning the comments on the Slate article, what I found interesting was that many people seemed to express a subconsciously gender-influenced view of mental illness. Mentally ill men were “unstable” and “aggressive”, whilst “vulnerable” and “depressed” mentally ill women seemed to be perceived as much more passive.
    Since we seem to have some mental health professionals here, I was wondering whether anyone knew if there was actually any hard statistical evidence for this bias? Or does the popular imagination’s image of the ideal women persist in painting her saintly-sweet and submissive, even whilst weathering mental illness?

  6. A male
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    “a maximum 4:1 ratio of patients to staff (night) when full, and at least double that, plus at least one doctor and support staff during weekdays.”
    I meant half. During weekdays, even if full, there were at least half as many nurses as patients, plus a doctor and support staff.

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