Drugging Foster Kids: Let’s Do Something About It

This is an invitation to action. Mad in America readers know that psychotropic medications, especially “antipsychotics,” often are used to sedate and restrain problematic people, including children—and not just any children, but foster children especially, and most of all, foster children in so-called “group homes.” Agreement is widespread that foster kids are over-medicated: too many, too young, too many drugs per child, on dosages that are too high and are maintained too long, oftenyears on end. The PsychDrugs Action Campaign of the National Center for Youth Law invites Mad in America readers to join us to make positive changes now.
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Protesting ECT:
A Moral/Existential Calling

ECT is a medical procedure. Correction: a procedure deemed medical. The point here is: despite the fact that it is administered in hospitals by people known as doctors, by any normal understanding of the term, it cannot justifiably be termed “medical,” for such naming presupposes that something is medically wrong with the person and yet there is no proof whatever that such is the case with prospective ECT recipients.
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Pilots Crashing on Antidepressants:
A (Not So) Brief History

With the current focus on the possible contribution of psychoactive drugs to the crash of GermanWings flight A320 on Tuesday, March 24, it is useful to identify potential links between the effect of the antidepressants and the events.  In all 47 cases listed on SSRIstories, the pilots were taking antidepressant medications, mostly SSRIs, often in combination with other medications and sometimes with alcohol.
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Winging it: Antidepressants and Plane Crashes

The crash last week of the Germanwings plane has shocked many. In view of the apparent mental health record of the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, questions have been asked about the screening policies of airlines. The focus has generally been on the conditions pilots may have or the arguments they might be having with partners or other situational factors that might make them unstable. Even when the issue of the medication a pilot may be taking is raised, it is in the context of policies that permit pilots to continue on drugs like antidepressants to ensure any underlying conditions are effectively treated. But fewer treatments in medicine are effective in this sense than people might think and even when effective they come with effects that need to be balanced against the likely effects of the underlying condition.
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What I Learned at ISPS 2015

I was fortunate to attend the recent ISPS conference in New York. MIA already has another excellent post on this and I hope there will be more to follow. I suspect each of us will bring a somewhat different perspective based on our own experience and I hope the polyphony of voices will enrich the reporting of this event. There was so much happening – often simultaneously – that my only complaint is that there were many fine workshops that I was not able to attend. I want to extend my sincere thanks to the organizers of this meeting.
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Towards a New Psychiatry: Say ‘No’ to the Fiction of Brain Diseases

During my lifetime I have witnessed the fall of Freudian psychiatry and the ascension of molecular psychiatry. Unfortunately, we have gone from the frying pan into the fire. I certainly do not subscribe to old-fashioned psychoanalytic ideas which had been beset by considerable problems throughout the years. Its practice suffered from dogmatic theories and miscast beliefs, which worked to the detriment of responsiveness to our patients. I love and value the work of psychiatry. Nothing is more gratifying than helping people heal from painful symptoms, and to fulfill their ability to love and recover their authenticity. I am proposing a new and different paradigm for psychiatry.
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Towards a New Understanding of Psychosis – ISPS 2015

Sometimes I read things on various websites or hear speakers from abroad make statements to the effect of “Change has become apparent.” There is, evidently, some indication that society, families, and even mental health professionals are beginning to understand that people suffer in unique and varied ways, and they suffer for a reason. But, every time I see this stated somewhere or hear someone utter some such words, I can’t help but wonder if they are delusional (pun intended).
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A Long and Troubled Relationship

I am writing this because I feel furious. Because I’ve had to sit through another dreadful presentation by a pharmaceutical representative telling half-truths and lies. No one but me questioned these. If you show a slide in which a depot injection reduces relapses, compared to an oral preparation, then know this – dopamine super-sensitivity caused by coming off the oral medication is real.
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Creatively Managing Voice-Hearing Through Spiritual Writing

I am a psychiatric survivor of over thirty-six years. Since my nervous breakdown in 1978, I have undergone multitudinous experiences ranging from the subtly humiliating to the horrifically debilitating at the hands of incompetent psychiatrists and psychopharmacologists who, in the name of medicine, did more harm than good.
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Eugenics & the 2014 Murphy Bill

Sterilization of the “unfit” and proposals to help families with a mental health crisis may seem to be disparate topics, certainly one historically more repugnant than the other. Yet, the two “solutions” have several things in common: The absence of choice by the individual affected, the paternalistic assumption that those with power know what is needed, both serve the interests of families, caretakers, guardians, and conservators, and both proceed out of good intentions.
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Clipping Care, Not Profit

Right now in Britain there is a controversy shaping up between the commercial and financial interests of big managed-care corporations and the need to care for vulnerable people in the community, people with conditions like dementia and long-term psychoses. Conflicts of interest are nothing new in the contested field of mental health, but this one threatens not only quality of care, but the well-being of low paid workers, mainly women, who are employed as support workers.
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Publication Bias: Does Unpublished Data Make Science Pseudo?

Recently the problem of publication bias has been shaking the foundations of much of psychology and medicine. In the field of pharmacology, the problem is worse, because the majority of outcome trials (on which medication approval and physician information is based) are conducted by pharmaceutical firms that stand to benefit enormously from positive results, and run the risk of enormous financial loss from negative ones. Numerous studies have found that positive results tend to be published, while negative ones are quietly tucked under the rug.
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A History of Anglo-American Psychiatry

It comes as something of a shock to realize that I have been researching and writing about the history of Anglo-American psychiatry for more than forty years now. It scarcely seems possible that more than three decades have passed since I first begun burrowing around in the archives of those Victorian museums of madness that in the early 1970s were still the all-too-concrete legacy of the enthusiasms of an earlier generation – those warehouses of the unwanted whose distinctive buildings for so long haunted the countryside and provided mute testimony to the emergence of segregative responses to the management of the mad.
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Why Is There An Anti-psychiatry Movement?

On February 18, the eminent psychiatrist Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, former President of the APA, published a video and transcript on Medscape.  The article was titled What Does the New York Times Have Against Psychiatry?, and was essentially a fatuous diatribe against Tanya Lurhmann, PhD, a Stanford anthropologist, who had written for the New York Times an op-ed article that was mildly critical of psychiatry.  The essence of Dr. Lieberman’s rebuttal was that an anthropologist had no business expressing any criticism of psychiatry, and he extended his denunciation to the editors of the NY Times.
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The Death of Common Sense: When Love and Grief Become ‘Disordered’

There is some hullabaloo going on about “prolonged grief disorder,” AKA “complicated grief disorder.” Yep, another grief-related ‘mental illness.’  According to an NEJM blog the “condition is characterized by intense grief that lasts longer than would be expected according to social norms and that causes impairment in daily functioning.” I think certain groups are at risk of – again – being diagnosed and “treated” for absolutely normal feelings and experiences after an excruciatingly painful and traumatic loss.
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Changing the World and Other Extreme Sports

By Dani, Director at Afiya

For anyone who’s unfamiliar, Afiya is the first peer-run respite in Massachusetts and it is one of only about 18 in the country. It’s no surprise, then, that people are confused about how we do things. But, it’s not just confusion. I’ve come to realize there is actual defensiveness that arises at times when we talk about what we do at the house. If I’m wearing my activist hat, this can be supremely annoying.
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Human Rights, Disclosing the Truth, and Psychiatric Diagnosis

When I turned on NPR recently and heard the tail-end of an interview with a psychiatrist and former American Psychiatric Association president about his new book — Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry — my first thought (will I ever learn?) was a hopeful one: “At last, someone high up in that power structure is telling the truth!” As I listened, though, I heard the author, Jeffery Lieberman, state that psychiatry is a medical discipline just like other medical disciplines, and I began to suspect that my first thought was wrong.
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Rethinking Mental Health and Drug “Therapy” for Children

A group of caring and concerned experts, specializing in mental health, child development, research, and parenting, have started a united movement to help families nationwide. Our effort is called Project #ForTheKids, and our goal “is to dramatically slow down the trend of over diagnosing, labeling and medicating children in the name of mental health.”
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Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!

“I want to change the way we think about mental health care so that any child, whether they have a mental illness or simply need support through a difficult time, can get the right help at the right time.” This was said by Care Minister Norman Lamb and quoted by the BBC on March 17th 2015. Mr. Lamb is known to have a son who has suffered mental health difficulties and it may well have come from the heart as much as it did from the election fever which is beginning to infect British politicians. However it says something worth picking up upon. I want to change the way we think about mental health care… and … simply need support through a difficult time. These are important shifts of language, and doubly important when they come from a government health minister.
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Shrinks: A Self-Portrait of a Profession

After finishing Jeffrey Lieberman’s new book, Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry, I was tempted to put it aside and not write anything, even though I had purchased the book with the intention of doing so. The reason was that I found it impossible to take the book seriously, and actually, I don’t think it is meant to be a serious book. But eventually it dawned on me: The revelatory aspect of Shrinks is that it serves as an institutional self-portrait. What you hear in this book is the story that the APA and its leaders have been telling to themselves for some time.
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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Does Not Exist

Since the 1980s, a type of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has become dominant. Like it or loathe it, CBT is now so ubiquitous it is often the only talking therapy available in both public and voluntary health settings. It is increasingly spoken about in the media and in living rooms across the country. Yet when we speak about CBT, what are we talking of? For CBT only exists – as we will see – as a political convenience.

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Balancing Our Recovery Ecosystem

I have some trepidation as a social worker venturing into the world of ecology and biodiversity but during my recent visit to Hawaii, I began to realize there are some parallels in that world and ours. Could psychiatric medications be considered an invasive species in the world of mental health?
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No, There is no Such Thing as ADHD

Somewhere along the line we have lost the understanding that kids come in all shapes and sizes. Some kids are active, some are quiet; some kids are dreamers, others are daring; some kids are dramatic, others are observers; some impulsive, others reserved; some leaders, others followers; some athletic, others thinkers. Where did we ever get the notion that kids should all be one way?
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Article on “Rethinking Criminal Responsibility”

My law review article entitled “Rethinking criminal responsibility from a critical disability perspective: The abolition of insanity/incapacity acquittals and unfitness to plead, and beyond” has been published in Griffith Law Review. The article attempts to find a way to deal with concerns for a degree of toleration towards socially disruptive behavior that may be criminalized, without making some people categorically and legally irresponsible as happens with the insanity defense.
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Financial Stress:  Auditing Our Money Woes

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently released its annual 2015 Stress in America survey.  For the 9th straight year (since the survey began), financial issues were reported as the number one stressor in America.  Even while many parts of the U.S. economy have shown a resurgence, many Americans are reporting that financial strain continues to take its toll, likely having significant effects on our health and well-being.
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