In The News

Report on Police Interventions Calls for ‘Zero Deaths’

July 30, 2014

A retired Supreme Court Justice has issued a 300-page investigative report into Toronto, Canada police interventions with people undergoing psychological crises, and his recommendations call for “zero deaths,” reports the Toronto Star. The report’s recommendations also call for significant changes in “police culture” and police attitudes towards people in crisis. According to the Star, the report “advocates for training that emphasizes de-escalation techniques and communication, in place of force.” Yet it also promotes more use of conducted energy weapons, or Tasers. More →

BMJ Reports on Conflict-of-Interest Transparency Movement

July 28, 2014

Two articles in the British Medical Journal this month discuss the problem of widespread conflicts of interest in medicine and psychiatry, and provide updates on efforts in the U.S. and the UK to increase transparency, such as legally required disclosures and pre-registering clinical trials. “Problems identified, writes BMJ legal correspondent Clare Dyer, have included “doctors failing to disclose substantial payments from drug companies as required by their institutions or by medical journals; settlements by companies to avoid prosecution for making illegal payments to doctors; and professional societies drafting clinical practice guidelines without disclosing industry funding or the drafters’ conflicts of interest.” More →

Depth-Motion Study Shows Exercise Changes How Anxious People See

July 27, 2014

Physical exercise and a yogic technique of progressive muscle tensing and relaxing have the power to alter people’s visual perceptions on a classic anxiety test, according to a study in PLOS One. Previous research has shown that people who are feeling socially anxious perceive point-light displays of ambiguous human figures as facing threateningly towards them more often than facing away. The study by Adam Heenan, a Queen’s University PhD candidate in psychology, found that people regarded these figures as less threatening after brief engagement in exercise or muscle relaxation. More →

Meta-analysis: Medication-resistant Psychosis Responds to CBT

July 26, 2014

University of British Columbia researchers conducted a meta-analysis that found positive effects from giving cognitive behavioral therapy to outpatients with medication-resistant psychosis. Publishing in Psychiatric Services, the researchers examined 16 published articles describing 12 randomized controlled trials involving 639 individuals. They found “overall beneficial effects of CBT” for positive symptoms and general symptoms. More →

Stimulants Double Adverse Cardiovascular Events in Children

July 25, 2014

In what they describe as the first large-scale, long-term, nation-wide study of its kind, Danish researchers have confirmed that ADHD stimulants double the risk of adverse cardiovascular events in children. In their study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, the researchers followed over 700,000 children born in Denmark between 1990 and 1999. “Cardiovascular events were rare but twice as likely in stimulant users as in non-users, both in the total national population and in children with ADHD,” they concluded. “We found a complex, time- and dose-dependent interrelationship between cardiovascular adverse events and stimulant treatment in children and adolescents.” More →

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 →

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Homeless People Recruited into Psychiatric Drug Trials

July 29, 2014

Matter magazine has published MIA Blogger Carl Elliott’s investigation into the growing use of homeless people in the United States to test dangerous psychiatric drugs. Private companies who run drug studies may coerce destitute people with payments of up to thousands of dollars, reports Elliott. Meanwhile, virtually no one is regulating the ethics of this practice. “The FDA’s oversight, for instance, can be porous,” writes Elliott. “One report found that between 2000 and 2005 the agency had only 200 inspectors to police an estimated 350,000 testing sites.” More →

Advocate for Outpatient Committal Recants

July 28, 2014

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Tom Burns recants. Burns is described as a psychiatrist who was long one of the strongest proponents of outpatient committal laws like Laura’s Law recently passed in Los Angeles, Orange and San Francisco counties in California and Kendra’s Law in New York, Burns now says the research does not support such laws. “You’ve got three [randomized] trials in the world on (community treatment orders); two are in America, and there’s our study. All three have the same results: CTOs don’t make a difference,” Burns tells the Times. “I had hoped that adding compulsion would move the proportion who do well up, but the evidence is stubbornly consistent that it doesn’t.” More →

Upcoming Breath-Body-Mind Online Workshop

July 27, 2014

Psychiatrists Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg will be giving a Breath~Body~Mind workshop live online August 16 and August 17, 2014. According to a press release, the psychiatrists “combine the most rapidly effective breathing techniques to improve mood, mental focus, heart and lung function, endurance, and stress relief.” They also particularly direct the integrative practice towards “individuals with psychiatric (anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADD) and medical conditions (cancer, lung problems, toxic exposures), and victims of abuse, terrorism, war, and natural disaster.” More →

Making Sense of Nonscience

July 26, 2014

Two opinion articles discuss the unscientific aspects of psychology and psychiatry, and posit ways for overcoming some of the conundrums… In Nature, a group of neuroscientists and psychologists argue for the vital importance of increasing interdisciplinary communication to overcome knowledge gaps. And a New York Times commentary looks at the recent controversy over international efforts to map the human brain as an example of our challenges trying to get studies of the mind on track. 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 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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