Subscribers to Mad in America might be interested in a Keynote Lecture given by Professor Nikolas Rose in Nottingham on May 15th 2013. In this lecture Professor Rose very thoughtfully challenges a number of the assumptions which underpin conventional and contemporary psychiatric practice. He asks five hard questions:
Is there (really) an epidemic of mental illness?
Does the path to understanding mental disorder lie through the brain?
What is the role of diagnosis and of diagnostic manuals?
Should we seek early identification of those at risk of future mental pathology?
What is the place of patients, users, survivors, & consumers of mental health systems?
I graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. The attitude of my professors in the Psych Department was that the science of Psychology was coming to an end. The mysteries of the mind had been unraveled through the new neuroscience, and all that was left was some mopping up. It all seemed very convincing, and I believed it myself for many years. Full Article →
Patient engagement is one of the mantras of current healthcare improvement efforts. Medical students and junior doctors likely think they are doing it better than their elders ever did. They are after all taught communication skills, where an earlier generation wasn’t. In fact, they are taught that they are being taught communication skills. They are taught how to communicate bad news. They are not taught how to hear awkward or bad news. The younger generation are almost certainly worse than former generations of doctors at listening for or actually hearing “the treatment you put me on, doctor, has made me worse.”
In the film Avatar, scientists are keen to exploit the moon planet Pandora which is inhabited by 10-foot-tall blue humanoids called Na’vi. To do so they create Na’vi human hybrids called “Avatars” which are controlled from afar by genetically matched humans. When the scientists decide to destroy the eco-system of the planet to gain access to valuable minerals, war breaks out between the humans and the Na’vi. At this point the main character, Jake, who operates an Avatar, has to choose whose side he is on. Eventually Jake’s life is saved and transformed by the Tree of Souls, which the humans are trying to destroy.
Why are Avatars in the news again? The latest innovation from psychiatric research is using computer-generated avatars to help people who hear aggressive voices. Full Article →
When you take a woman who has been eating processed food, taking The Pill, antibiotics, and maybe even a PPI, exposed to xenoestrogens, endocrine disruptors, and friendly-bacteria-slaughtering pesticides and you grow a baby in that womb, there is a good chance you have created a time-bomb. Throw in 70 doses of 16 neurotoxic and immunosuppressive vaccines by age 18, some formula, and genetically modified and processed baby food, 4 years of plastic diapers, and Johnson’s 1,4-dioxane babywash and… Houston, we have a problem. Full Article →
In 2007 I returned to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I remember being confused by the over-emphasis on biological treatments for suffering which seemed to me much more spiritual and relational in nature. A few years earlier, my misgivings had been stirred as I sat on a California beach listening to a friend tell me about what it was like to be on Prozac. She told me that she couldn’t really cry anymore, or connect to her deeper feelings. She couldn’t orgasm. I recall my throat closing up, my thoughts running panicky and confused. I was so disturbed by the power of this drug to rob her of her tears and climaxes, experiences I associated with the more private, sacred parts of being human. Full Article →
We are immersed these days in the erroneous idea that only randomized placebo-controlled studies (RCTs) constitute scientific data. We will discuss the origins of the over-reliance on RCTs in a future column. For now, we shall simply assume that many of our readers understand that a well-documented case study can provide information relevant to many. And so, we would like to tell you about a Calgary-based child who we refer to as ‘Andrew’. Full Article →
The Association for Psychological Science (APS) was founded twenty years ago by psychologists and neuroscientists who were dismayed by trends in the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA had lost its old single-minded focus on the search for empirically based answers to psychological questions. This may have followed from the fact that the APA’s membership encompassed an ever-larger percentage of practicing psychologists with many immediate, practical concerns. Yet it is these very clinicians who are in such dire need of empirically validated procedures. It might be time to summarize newer empirical literature that challenges the assumption that the mere expression of emotion is helpful. Full Article →
Why all the fuss over DSM-5? Why did Robert Spitzer, the editor of DSM-III, begin to protest about the “secrecy” surrounding its production as early as 2007? Why did Allen Frances, editor of DSM-IV, begin in 2009 to challenge the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) announced goal that when making DSM-5 “everything is on the table”? Why did he dispute the APA’s position that there had been enough progress in neuroscience to call for a “paradigm shift”, and why did Frances and others go on to protest repeatedly what they viewed as DSM-5’s “medicalization of normality?” Full Article →
The decision by the Institute of Psychiatry, Britain’s leading centre for psychiatric research, to invite disgraced Professor Charles Nemeroff to speak at the inaugural lecture of the Institute’s new Centre for Affective Disorders has caused a great deal of controversy, news that was recently featured on Mad in America. In the latest development members of the Critical Psychiatry Network in UK have written an open letter to Professor Pariantes, the Director of the new Centre for Affective Disorders, requesting that he cancel Nemeroff’s invitation. Full Article →
When children do things like recoil in fear from monsters and ghosts in their darkened bedroom at night, it’s easy to see the “out of touch with reality” aspect of their experience as being closely related to the faculty that gives them their ability to play – their imagination. We help children through such challenging experiences by being with them, and by playing together, doing things like creating scary images together and then figuring out how to cope with them or laugh at them. In the process we help them explore how to create a world view that works to at least some extent and has room for joy and originality – when their imagination helps them (and maybe others) see the world in new ways. Full Article →
This is not just about pregnancy loss and motherhood. This is reflective of how we treat many people who have experienced pain and are expressing it in ways not immediately relatable to those around them. It is about how we as a society may contribute to some of the truly awful things that happen not by failing to properly screen and assess, but by quite successfully fostering fear and alienation. Full Article →
Greetings, MIA readers. Would you like to write your own review of the DSM-5 (even if you haven’t read it, never mind bought it.) I’ve done neither, but I’ve read, talked, written enough about it to have an opinion. Write your own review of the DSM-5 on Amazon …Here’s the link Full Article →
It has been a good time to bury controversy. With all eyes on Washington and the fallout from the publication of DSM-5, over here in England the Institute of Psychiatry has been discretely sending out invitations to a lecture. This is not a public lecture; it is by invitation only. And who is the esteemed guest? None other than Professor Charles Nemeroff M.D., Ph.D. Full Article →
I’ve just returned from a meeting of 17 activists self-identified as users or survivors of psychiatry, or people with psychosocial disabilities, from all over the world. Literally all over the world. An international gathering of human rights defenders that makes me proud to be among them. It was a meeting where I felt heard and acknowledged and able to fully give what I had to give – to offer it up along with everyone else’s contributions for the common deliberation. I gave all and received all in return. Full Article →
Less than six months ago I had the great fortune to start working with a small group of fellow producers who had spent a chunk of time traveling and shooting at various conferences. Interviews with notable figures in the movement. Survivor stories. A mixed bag of “Mad Media”. Immersing myself in the now 200+ hours of raw footage was like swimming in a sea of the subconscious. So I was swallowed whole by the white whale, consumed with the energy to put my still-developing abilities to the best use I could think of.
The Minnesota Starvation Experiment was conducted at the University of Minnesota during the Second World War. Prolonged semi-starvation produced significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis, and most participants experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression and grew increasingly irritable. It really should not be a surprise to this audience that the brain’s functioning is highly compromised when the body is being starved of food (and nutrients). What we wonder is whether eating a diet of primarily highly processed foods low in nutrients has similar effects. Full Article →
In my most recent blog post, “The Unmedicated Life”, I attempted to answer a question I’m frequently asked by other survivors — “How did you get better from psychiatric medication damage/withdrawal?” But there is also a part two to the question that I didn’t address, which is, “How did you know when you were better?” Full Article →
You never know what you’re going to accomplish when you start something. Who could have predicted that Tom Insel and NIMH would throw the APA and the DSM under the bus? My guess is that two factors played a big part in NIMH’s decision. First, the unceasing barrage of criticism directed at the DSM – its lack of construct validity; its declining inter-rater reliability – had damaged its credibility beyond repair. On top of that, thirty years of DSM-based research had produced no biomarkers. Full Article →
If you haven’t been labeled mentally ill by the American Psychiatric Association, you have to ask yourself what’s wrong. Perhaps you were ahead of the game: you knew not to reveal yourself to them, you knew how to avoid them, you found other social support, and if so, a big congratulations. If not, what’s wrong? Why have you conformed? Full Article →
The last four years I’ve been running Poetry for Personal Power, a stigma reduction campaign funded by SAMHSA. Poetry for Personal Power has been going to Missouri Universities and asking students what they do to get through hard times and we now have about 400 incredible videos on You-Tube, with youth wellness tools. Full Article →
The Critical Psychiatry Network is concerned with the way the controversy over the publication of DSM-5 is being portrayed in the media and by some academic psychiatrists. The issues raised by the DSM are complex and require careful and studied consideration. There are two aspects in particular that concern us. These relate to the portrayal of the controversy as a guild dispute, and the polarisation of the debate as one of nurture versus nature. Full Article →
Americans have increasingly lost community and autonomy, and have acquired instead the tyranny of institutionalization: domination by gigantic, impersonal, bureaucratic, standardized entities — visible in large corporations, the workplace, health care, schools, and much of our lives. This institutionalization has made many Americans feel small, isolated, helpless, scared, inattentive, bored, angry, alienated, and depressed. Full Article →
For several decades, since the days when I was a patient, I have seen and heard how an obsession with questions damages psychiatry. Many of us have been asked the same questions day after day, year after year: ‘Do your thoughts seem faster than normal?’, ‘Do you ever have thoughts in your mind which are not your own?’, ‘Do you feel anxious?’, and so on. Hearing only what a patient says under questioning when frozen by paralysis, or subject to the hyper-arousal of anxiety, the professional misses the opportunity to hear the threads of something new, the possibility of weaving with the patient a narrative of hope and recovery. Full Article →