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Karina Hansen 8: The Aftermath Continues

June 25, 2018
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Karina in November 2016 shortly after her return home

Regular readers of this blog will already be familiar with Karina Hansen’s horrifying story (as detailed in my series of posts) and with the often appalling treatment of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) patients generally. For new readers, and those needing a more detailed reminder of her story, there is a full summary at the end of this post.

Karina is a young woman from Denmark who became ill with the severe form of ME as a teenager. She was being cared for at home by her family but, in February 2013, she was forcibly removed by the state authorities and confined in an institution for three and a half years as a de facto psychiatric patient.  Her family members were not allowed to visit her and she was subjected to highly inappropriate treatment.

She was eventually allowed to return home in October 2016, in a far worse condition than when she had arrived at the institution. Both she and her family have experienced – and continue to experience – considerable trauma as a result of this state intervention.

I have recently received an update on Karina’s situation from Bente Stenfalk of Borgerretsbevægelsen (Civil Rights Movement Group in Denmark). Bente has been closely involved in Karina’s case since 2015. I have paraphrased Bente’s statement (with her permission) for clarification purposes. It does not make for reassuring reading:

June 2018

The case of Karina Hansen continues to be fraught with challenges. However, there has been one new positive development: Karina’s psychiatrist, Dr Mogens Undén recently prepared a fresh statement on her behalf and, as a result, she is now receiving a five-year pension.

Conversely, there has been no further progress in the ongoing court proceedings relating to the removal of her official guardian [appointed by the court in the mistaken belief that Karina lacked capacity to make her own decisions]. We are still waiting for the judge at the local court in Holstebro to consider Dr Undén’s new statement on Karina’s condition at the next hearing.

So far, the judge in Holstebro has refused to allow the removal of the guardian in Karina’s case. She recently ordered that a medical officer from the region visit Karina at home to check her living situation. However, the organisation that deals with the provision of such medical officers had closed down so there was no one available to carry out the judge’s direction. I tried to find out who was in charge of providing medical officers in the Region of Midjudland but they sent me to the North Jutland Region – who then sent me to the Board for Patient Safety. Several weeks on, I am still waiting for a reply from the Board.

As a matter of the utmost importance, I have requested that no doctor who is unknown to Karina’s family visit her at home. The last time unknown doctors came to her home, she was forcibly taken away and incarcerated for three and a half years. There must be no repetition of such traumatic events.

Nevertheless, the judge has now decided that psychiatrist Dr Charlotte Emborg should visit Karina at home. Apparently, Dr Emborg will not make a formal statement; she must simply be satisfied that Karina is generally well and has the capacity to answer questions about her life and situation. It would seem that the judge has disregarded our request not to send an unknown doctor to Karina’s home.

It also appears that the judge did not listen to our recommendation that, as Karina’s psychiatrist, Dr Undén’s opinion should be given priority in her case. I had asked the court in Holstebro to treat his additional statement accordingly but I did not receive a formal response.

We are now at the stage where many people (including me) have observed Karina answer relevant questions in writing. These people include Karina’s parents + other members of her family, her psychiatrist Dr Undén, her lawyer Per Broe-Andersen, local physician Dr Stig Gerdes, her official guardian Kaj Stendorf and several people from the municipality.

It is unclear why the judge in Holstebro is failing to expedite the removal of Karina’s guardian. Mr Stendorf himself agrees that Karina no longer needs his intervention. However, this has been the consistent pattern with all state and judicial involvement in Karina’s case over many years. A change of official attitude is long overdue – before even more damage is done to Karina and her family.

Karina’s case is a national disgrace.

~Bente Stenfalk

********************* 

KARINA’S STORY

Karina lives in Denmark. In 2008, she was diagnosed with severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).

[ME is a complex, multi-systemic neuro-immune disease; its controversial nature continues to cause immense patient suffering and distress. ME receives universally derisory state funding for desperately-needed biomedical research/treatment, despite having been accurately identified and described in the 1950’s and recognised as a neurological condition by the World Health Organization since 1969.]

ME patients in many countries are still routinely referred to psychiatrists who use the inappropriate, and sometimes dangerous, psychosocial treatment model, often in combination with unsuitable psychotropic medication. Despite often extreme physical and cognitive impairment, patients are frequently unable to access medical treatment with a knowledgeable physician. There is still no single universally agreed diagnostic pathway or treatment for ME – and definitely no cure, despite the claims made by some.

Inevitably, Karina’s diagnosis became the subject of a prolonged dispute. Her family continued to care for her at home, in accordance with her express wishes. However, in February 2013, then aged 24, she was forcibly removed from her home by a large team of police, doctors and social workers. She was taken to Hammel Neurocenter, against both her own will and that of her family. Hammel is part of “The Research Clinic for Functional Disorders” at Aarhus University Hospital.

Several doctors have been involved in Karina’s case but psychiatrists Nils Balle Christensen and Per Fink were in charge of her treatment at Hammel. Shortly after her initial detention, she was classed as a “voluntary” patient, despite having been taken there against her will. Her condition deteriorated rapidly after her admission to the Clinic and shortly afterwards, she was found by the local court 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 and make decisions on her behalf. 

Three years on, in February 2016, Karina remained a de facto prisoner of the state. She had been moved to a nearby rehabilitation center 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 apparently immobilized, in a wheelchair and unable to speak except for incomprehensible mumbling and grimaces. At that time, she did not appear to recognize her own father.

During the course of 2016, I wrote a series of articles chronicling and analyzing Karina’s story from my perspective as a lawyer, a journalist and a long-time ME patient. On 12 October, I wrote a short update detailing the changes which were beginning to come about in Karina’s condition. Although she still could not speak, her ability to communicate with gestures was increasing, her mobility was improving and her parents had been able to visit on a regular basis during the preceding weeks.

On Monday 17 October 2016, after three and a half years of incarceration, Karina was able to return home to her family. The arrangement was on a trial basis but in the hope and expectation that she would be finally and permanently back where she belongs. The trial period passed without incident; Karina was home at last – but with a future changed forever.

********************

Disclosure

I have lived with the illness ME since 1981. For more information see About.

 

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2018 09:17

    Reblogged this on Short Blogs for the Distracted……… and commented:
    It’s truly shameful the way she has been treated… thanks for the update Valerie x

    Like

  2. Sally Burch permalink
    June 25, 2018 10:09

    Such a tragic situation for the whole family. Why do the authorities cling to their control of Karina? Why does no official dare to move the situation forwards? Something doesn’t add up. Thank you for updating us Valerie, I wish things were better. My thoughts are with the Hansen family xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Steve edin permalink
    June 25, 2018 10:33

    What has per fink got to say after this ‘treatment’ failed. if it was all mental and also caused by the family why hasnt he been able to cure her?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jacqueline butterworth permalink
    June 25, 2018 11:40

    31yrs ago I was diagnosed with ME-17rs later private tests proved Lyme disease-Doctors know very little about ME and even less about Lyme disease-It is a worldwide scandal-Because I got no treatment it has left me with severe arthritis.

    Like

  5. Debra Nice permalink
    June 25, 2018 13:03

    It’s disgusting, & horrendous abuse of power. Very distressing situation for Karina and the family. My heart goes out to them. Thank you Valerie for the update. Sending lots of TLC 💞 💌

    Like

  6. June 25, 2018 16:52

    Reblogged this on Utting-Wolff Spouts and commented:
    Valerie continues to follow Karina Hansen’s horrendous plight. Please have a read.

    Like

  7. Silke permalink
    June 25, 2018 19:47

    Dear Valerie, thank’s for this update. I hope they will give peace to Karin. That she is able to live in freedom in the care of her family. How are you?
    BIG HUG AND LOTS OF LOVE TO YOU!
    Regards Silke

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Margaret Goff Knapp permalink
    July 6, 2018 16:12

    Thank you for continuing to follow Karina’s case and to bring attention to it.

    Karina’s situation is a living embodiment of this quote by C. S. Lewis.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

    Karina is not an infant, an imbecile or a domestic animal, but by the actions of Denmark, she has been put in that classification, as a mindless creature whose disposition is to be decided by the will of another. But Karina Hansen is in reality an adult, rational human being who should have the right to exercise free will. It is irrelevant whether others, even judges or doctors, believe Karina’s choices are best for her health or for her own good. The only thing that is relevant is what Karina herself CHOOSES, regardless of whether it’s for her own good or not, regardless of whether it is healthy and regardless of whether anyone else agrees with her choice. The key point of free will is that it is a CHOICE, and it belongs to the INDIVIDUAL. If we want to spend the rest of our lives smoking cigarettes and eating cake, it is a choice that we have a right to make. If we want to stay home with the doctor thinks we’d be healthier if we stayed in a hospital, it is a choice we have a right to make. Karina has a right to decide to do whatever she wants to do, whether the government agree, her parents agree or her doctors agree. It is and always should be Karina’s Choice.

    Like

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