The journal of mental health administration

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 374–387

On being invisible in the mental health system

  • Ann Jennings

DOI: 10.1007/BF02521356

Cite this article as:
Jennings, A. The Journal of Mental Health Administration (1994) 21: 374. doi:10.1007/BF02521356


The author provides a case study of her daughter’s sexual abuse as a child and subsequent experiences as a chronically mentally ill client in the mental health system. Information from 17 years of mental health records and anecdotal accounts are used to illustrate the effects of the abuse, her attempts to reach out for help, and the system’s failure to respond. There is evidence that a significant subset of psychiatric patients were severely sexually traumatized in childhood. Yet standard interview schedules consistently neglect to ask questions about such abuse, appropriate treatment is seldom available, and clients are often retraumatized by current practices. Psychiatry’s historic resistance to addressing abuse as etiology is being challenged today by powerful economic, political, and professional forces leading to the emergence of a new trauma-based paradigm.

Copyright information

© Association of Mental Health Administrators 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann Jennings
    • 1
  1. 1.San Francisco