Karina Hansen 5: A little progress?
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with Karina’s horrifying story. This update follows on from my series of posts, the most recent of which, Karina Hansen 4: Timeline, Torture and Tragedy, contains more detailed information. For the full history of the case, see Karina Hansen 2: the Ghost in the Room. For new readers, and those needing a reminder of events leading up to this point, this is a summary:
Karina (pictured above left) lives in Denmark. In 2008, she was diagnosed with severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). The diagnosis was disputed and in February 2013, then aged 24, she was forcibly removed from home, where her family had been caring for her. She was taken to Hammel Neurocenter (part of “The Research Clinic for Functional Disorders” at Aarhus University Hospital).
Several doctors have been involved in her case but psychiatrists Nils Balle Christensen and Per Fink have dictated the overall course of her treatment at Hammel. Since shortly after her initial detention, she has been classed as a “voluntary” patient; she was found by a court subsequently to lack capacity to make her own decisions. As a result of that finding, the court appointed a legal guardian to take responsibility for her welfare.
Three years on, in February 2016, Karina remained a de facto prisoner of the state. She had been moved to a nearby “rehabilitation centre” but allowed very little contact with her family. Her father was permitted to visit her in December 2015. Whilst she was physically clean and cared-for, she was nevertheless in a wheelchair and unable to speak except for incomprehensible mumbling and grimaces. At that time, she did not appear to recognise her own father.
A change in circumstances
In recent weeks (September/October 2016), Karina’s parents have started being allowed by the Clinic to visit her. In theory, there was never any reason why they couldn’t see her during her whole time there. However, shortly after as she was taken to the Clinic by a team of police, doctors and social workers in February 2013, she became unable to speak or communicate and her phone disappeared. As a result, the guardian was appointed by the court (see previous posts) who then took decisions on her behalf. Despite repeated efforts, her family members were then allowed very few visits.
This refusal of visits was on the basis that Karina was extremely distressed and therefore unable to communicate a meaningful response when asked if she wished to see them. However, since I last wrote about Karina’s situation in April 2016, she has begun to be able to communicate more clearly, albeit only in nodding or shaking her head in response to questions. Subsequently, when asked if she wanted to see her parents, she indicated that she did and so the more frequent visits have now begun to take place.
It is not clear what has caused this shift in Karina’s circumstances at the Clinic. In my post Karina Hansen 3, I suggested that she might have been over-medicated; perhaps adjustments have been made to her dosage during recent months and this has increased her capacity to communicate. Interestingly, her phone has also resurfaced. A helpful member of staff at the Clinic, who had given Karina’s parents access to her, assisted her with setting up the address book in her phone again.
Whatever the reason, it seems that there is now a little progress in Karina’s condition. She is still in a wheelchair but becoming able to walk short distances with the aid of a walker.
Still an uncertain future
It is important to emphasise that there is still no clear prognosis, nor any indication of a more permanent change in Karina’s situation. Public speculation will not influence the eventual outcome and her family have requested that respect for their privacy is maintained for the foreseeable future.
I have lived with the illness ME since 1981. For more information see About.