As a result of the Haaretz report two week ago ("Rabbi's Little Helper," April 6 ) - about the conferral of psychiatric medication at the request of rabbis and Orthodox activists, for purposes described as "spiritual" rather than medical - a number of persons turned to Haaretz with their personal stories.
The Gur Hasid trembled in pain as he spoke about a family gathering held at Purim. One daughter in the extended family, a married woman with children, attended the big holiday meal after a long period in which she had remained secluded in her home. "We were shocked," the man recalled. "At the beginning, we could barely identify her. This is a woman who has always been blessed with a lively, expressive personality, but now it looks like pills have finished her off. We met an apathetic woman who has a solemn, stony face; a woman who has had the life sucked out of her."
The ultra-Orthodox man says the woman's husband belongs to a well-connected family in the Gur community, and so the man's family attached "responsibility" for the situation in the house to the woman, and demanded she receive medication. "She was told that the Gur Rebbe wants her to take medication, and that the pills would restore order to her home. Nobody knows whether the rebbe really said that, but this is what persuaded her."
The Hasid from Bnei Brak presented his story as part of a trend of Orthodox referrals to private psychiatric clinics as a result of internal communal issues - typically family cases. Such referrals often override the patients' own desires; usually, he patient does not really understand the nature of the treatment. Psychiatrists and psychologists also approached the newspaper, and reported cases of unethical uses of medication.[...]