Follow through means never — or at least less frequently —having to say “we’re sorry” – Pete Linnett
We may never know what exactly caused or triggered Adam Lanza to shoot his mother, 26 other human beings and then himself. However one thing seems certain to have contributed to it.
“Mental health, alcohol or substance abuse intervention that stabilizes an individual in a psychiatric facility, or in patient alcohol or substance abuse program means little if the treatment necessary to return them to functioning in and with society doesn’t exist,” according to Pete Linnett.
Linnett is the Founder of the Life Adjustment Team (LAT) in Culver City, CA.
For more than 35 years LAT has been helping acutely stabilized psychiatric and alcohol and drug addicted patients move back to functionality.
In discussing the recent shootings at Sandy Hook, Linnett explained that there are three situations where intervention and then treatment focus can successfully prevent or dramatically decrease such tragedies.
Family doesn’t know, patient doesn’t know they are sick
Linnett explained, “There is a French term called, ‘folie à deux’ which means shared madness, in which case one or both people are mentally ill, but both deny it or both minimize it as in: ‘They’re just going through a phase,’ ‘All young adults are this way,’ ‘They’ll outgrow it,’ ‘Hormones.’ To deal with this, everyone needs to develop the habit of “noticing” and then be educated about what to notice.” The following are a helpful guide:
What to LOOK for:
What to LISTEN for:
And if you notice the following signs over a period of time, the potential for violence exists:
Family knows, patient doesn’t (or refuses to accept) they are sick
According to Wikipedia “Anosognosia is viewed as a deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers certain disability seems unaware of the existence of his or her disability.” And in some mental illness states such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and certain personality disorders the adamant denial or refusal to believe and accept that they have an illness is a symptom of the illness. Telling a person with anosognosia that they have an illness is often ineffective, when one of the symptoms of the that illness is refusing to believe they have anything wrong with them.
To deal with this, Linnett’s Master’s level or higher case managers at LAT use the LEAP method created by Dr. Xavier Amador. Dr. Amador is a psychologist who created it to effectively intervene with his brother who has schizophrenia and anosognosia and which is the subject of his book: I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment. 10th Anniversary Edition.
Linnett explained that LEAP stands for:
Family knows, patient knows they are sick
The relapse rate for patients after being stabilized in a psychiatric facility or in patient alcohol or substance abuse program is very high. The reason for that is that when follow through is left up to patients and their families who are on their own recognizance and there is no plan for making it happen, follow through turns into falling through the cracks, becoming destabilized and then needing to be re-hospitalized or readmitted to an inpatient alcohol or substance abuse program. This revolving door is very costly in monetary and emotional terms to everyone it touches.
Linnett’s Life Adjustment Team provides that follow through by having highly trained Master’s level and above case managers go out to patients wherever they are staying after discharge and taking them to doctors’ appointments, training them in skills of daily living and financial budgeting and even participate in recreational activities with them. Their results although not the “complete cure” we would all like have greatly reduced the rate of relapse by as much as 80 % in a wide range of patients.
Linnett summed it up when he said, “We hold their hands until we can hand them back their lives.”