In The News

Hospital Patients Still in Danger from Preventable Errors

July 24, 2014

Fierce Healthcare reports that leading experts recently told a US Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging that, despite public attention and concern, hospital patients today are no safer from harms caused by preventable errors than they were 15 years ago. In terms of error reduction and quality improvement, “[w]e have not moved the needle in any meaningful, demonstrable way overall,” Fierce Healthcare quotes Harvard School of Public Health’s Ashish Jha stating. More →

Antipsychotics Linked to Cognitive & Memory Impairments

July 23, 2014

Finnish reseachers report in Schizophrenia Research that antipsychotic use is associated with cognitive and memory impairments. The University of Oulu team studied forty people diagnosed with schizophrenia and 73 controls at the ages of 34 and 43 years. “Higher antipsychotic dose-years by baseline were significantly associated with poorer baseline performance in several dimensions of verbal learning and memory, and with a larger decrease in short-delay free recall during the follow-up,” they observed. More →

British Psychiatrists Advocate Psychedelics for Depression

July 22, 2014

The journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology has published a review of what is known about psychedelic drugs’ biochemical effects in the human brain, their physical side effects, and their psychotherapeutic applications. “Hallucinogens have been part of spiritual practice for millennia, but controversy surrounding their mind-manifesting effects led to their proscription by the mid-20th century, largely without evidence of harm or toxicity and despite nascent data suggesting therapeutic utility in treating depressive illnesses,” writes a team of Kings College London psychiatrists. More →

More Evidence Antipsychotics Reduce Brain Volume

July 21, 2014

People diagnosed with schizophrenia experience reductions in brain volume that increase over time, and the amount of those reductions increases in proportion to the quantities of antipsychotics taken and not symptom severity, according to research reported in PLOS One. Investigators from the University of Oulu in Finland performed brain scans on 33 participants diagnosed with schizophrenia and 71 control participants over a ten-year period, and found reductions in the antipsychotic users especially pronounced in the temporal lobe and periventricular area. More →

Glucose Metabolism “Derangements” from Second Generation Antipsychotics Clarified

July 21, 2014

New Zealand and Chinese investigators believe they have clarified the mechanisms by which second generation antipsychotics cause serious “derangements” in glucose metabolism in the human body. Reporting in Schizophrenia Research, the researchers write that previously many have assumed that these negative metabolic effects were due to increases in insulin resistance, but during more precise animal studies using clozapine they found otherwise. More →

Voice-hearing Experiences Differ Across Cultures

July 20, 2014

People’s voice-hearing experiences are shaped differently by their respective cultures, according to a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Stanford University anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann led the analysis of interviews with 60 culturally-diverse people who’d been diagnosed with serious psychotic disorders. “The striking difference was that while many of the African and Indian subjects registered predominantly positive experiences with their voices, not one American did. Rather, the U.S. subjects were more likely to report experiences as violent and hateful – and evidence of a sick condition,” stated a Stanford press release about the study. “The Americans experienced voices as bombardment and as symptoms of a brain disease caused by genes or trauma.” More →

Pharma-linked Panel Advises Wider Use of Statins Even as Drugs’ Links to Dementia Re-affirmed

July 19, 2014

People who take statins are at “significantly greater” risk of memory impairment than those who don’t take the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs, according to research reported by Internal Medicine News. Lead University of New South Wales medical researcher Dr. Katherine Samaras presented her team’s findings at a joint meeting of the International Congress of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society. Meanwhile, the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, even amidst widely publicized concerns about its panel members’ strong ties to pharmaceutical companies, has issued new guidelines suggesting that anyone deemed to have just a 10% risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years should be seriously considered for long-term statin therapy. More →

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Around the Web

“In the Gun Debate, Mental Illness Doesn’t Predict Dangerousness”

July 24, 2014

Massachusetts State Representative Paul Heroux’ Huffington Post blog concludes that “We need to realize that high-profile events are high-profile because they are unlikely. And trying to stop an unlikely event is very difficult if not impossible. Predicting a school shooting or when someone who has or had a mental illness is going to shoot someone is a bit like predicting where lightning is going to strike the ground. There are some generic indicators but little that can act as an actual alarm bell. There are things that can and should be done to reduce gun violence, but focusing on people with a mental illness is not one of them.”
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When Hearing Voices is a Good Thing

July 24, 2014

The Atlantic reports on Tanya Luhrmann‘s recent research, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry “That suggests that the way people pay attention to their voices alters what they hear their voices say.”

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Performance Artist Goes “Off Her Meds” For Art

July 24, 2014

The Daily Beast reports that Brooklyn artist Marni Kotak is weaning herself off a cocktail of antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs in a Brooklyn gallery in a show called Mad Meds, with the intention of documenting her “personal struggles with her own mind, the US medical system, and the pharmaceutical industry as she attempts to withdraw from psychiatric medicines.
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Searching for Happiness Under the Fame & Fortune

July 24, 2014

A New York Times Sunday Review op-ed discusses the frustrations of the wealthy and powerful ruler Abd Al-Rahman III, an emir and caliph of Córdoba in 10th-century Spain. “I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot,” he wrote. “They amount to 14.” So if plenty of money, sex, power and fame do not bring happiness, then how should we be living, asks writer Arthur Brooks. More →

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Personal Stories

Heteronormative Violence of Mainstream Psychiatry: A Cautionary Tale

Peter Gajdics

June 18, 2014

I was in a form of reparative therapy in British Columbia, Canada, for six years, after which I filed a medical malpractice suit against my former psychiatrist, “Dr. Alfonzo,” for treating my homosexuality as a disease. If these new laws are to be criticized, it is that the use of “change” therapies on people older than 18 should be prohibited as well. I was 24 when I met Dr. Alfonzo, 31 when I left his therapy, and almost 40 when the lawsuit ended in an out-of-court settlement in 2002. Nearly twenty years after leaving the therapy, I am still affected by the consequences of those six years of “treatment.”
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About Mad In America

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A few minutes with Robert Whitaker in a video about the purpose, history, achievements, community, and future plans of Mad In America.
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Open Paradigm Project

Navigating the Mental Health Wilderness:
Steven Morgan’s Journey

February 14, 2014

Steven

Steven Morgan discusses his transformative journey from chronic “patient” to leading mental health advocate. Steven has been working in peer support and helping to create alternatives to traditional mental health services for the past decade…
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