I had a soul-redemptive heart-to-heart reunion with a woman I had known from a distance but whom now (after our hours long coeur-a-coeur/heart-to-heart) I consider a close friend. I shared with her some very exciting and some challenging circumstances I have been experiencing of late. After I shared and shed a few tears she told me a story from her life that also poses, like my story, an invitation for profound change in our lives. Full Article →
Based on my experience both as a therapist and client in the mental health field, I have learned that when therapists or psychiatrists give you the following diagnoses all too often here is what they really mean: Full Article →
My name is Leah Harris and I’m a survivor. I am a survivor of psychiatric abuse and trauma. My parents died largely as a result of terrible psychiatric practice. Psychiatric practice that took them when they were young adults and struggling with experiences they didn’t understand. Experiences that were labeled as schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder. My parents were turned from people into permanent patients. They suffered the indignities of forced treatment. Seclusion and restraint. Forced electroshock. Involuntary outpatient commitment. And a shocking amount of disabling heavy-duty psychiatric drugs. And they died young, from a combination of the toxic effects of overmedication, and broken spirits. Full Article →
Prior admissions with stimulant disorder, but not a prior cannabis disorder diagnosis, are a negative prognostic sign in first-episode psychosis according to new research in the British Journal of Psychiatry. “Young people with substance comorbidities may have both the best and worst of outcomes, depending on whether problematic substance use is discontinued,” the authors note.
According to the University of South Dakota’s The Volante, “In 1993, about four percent of American college students used prescription drugs for nonmedical uses, according to a March 2007 study in the journal “Addiction”. By 2001, that number had increased to 10 percent. Then, in 2010, that number spiked to 27 percent.”
Although cocaine and psychostimulant dependence are thought to be related to increased dopamine release, research from Tokyo and Long Island finds that the effect of antipsychotics did not differ from that of a placebo in regard to cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine use, addiction, craving, depression, anxiety, or abstinence. Antipsychotics were discontinued more than placebo, as a result of intolerability, leading to antipsychotics being outperformed by placebo in some measures.
In “the largest assessment of substance use among individuals with severe psychotic illness to date,” researchers from Washington University and the University of Southern California found that the odds of substance use among those with severe psychosis diagnoses is dramatically higher than that of people with less severe diagnoses. Though the study only establishes a correlation between psychosis and substance use, the lead researcher comments that “the most likely explanation is that substance use contributes to the development of severe mental illness.”
Heavy pot users were found to have working-memory deficits and associated changes in brain morphology that were consistent with changes found in persons with schizophrenia diagnoses, according to a study published in Schizophrenia Bulletin. “The abuse of popular street drugs, such as marijuana, may have dangerous implications for young people who are developing or have developed mental disorders,” says Dr. John Csernansky, an author of the study. “This paper is among the first to reveal that the use of marijuana may contribute to the changes in brain structure that have been associated with having schizophrenia.”
Our lives changed the day we began looking inside ourselves for ways to move towards more joy and less suffering for us and those around us. We took ownership of the good and bad from our past and learned that if we came from a place of inner strength we could frame much of our future. The lessons and necessary mentoring that led to us reshaping our experiences happened within the context of addiction treatment. This treatment for us, and many others, consisted of working on ourselves with the guidance of people who had re-built – or built for the first time – daily lives rich in meaning and social connection. Full Article →
The first time I heard someone labeled schizophrenic I was about 10 years old. A man was talking to himself and appeared to be house-less and perhaps on drugs. My mom, a very good teacher and explainer of things to me, said, “That man is schizophrenic. That means he can’t tell the difference between what’s inside of himself and what’s outside.” In retrospect this seems like a relatively sophisticated and sensitive explanation; Falling in love, hearing music that enters our heart, having children/giving birth, connecting powerfully with another person in a meeting of the minds, feeling empathy, deeply caring about something, experiencing oneness with nature, are all examples of times when the line between inner and outer reality is blurred. Full Article →
When we share our stories publicly, whether in speaking, writing, or another art form, we acknowledge we are part of something bigger. We are aware we aren’t the only ones who have been abused or witnessed abuse, or who are scared to let go of our ancestral shame and fear. We are, rather, part of an entire generation, an entire society that is moving away from silence, blame and abuse. In sharing our stories, we instantly recover from a big hunk of loneliness, loneliness that might not be so easily resolved sitting in a room across from a professional, with a few non-offensive art pieces on the walls. We acknowledge that every single one of us who experiences physical or emotional symptoms is holding onto things for others, in our bodies, and together, word by word, we can break free. Full Article →
It has been 7.5 years since I got off benzos, the drug that damaged me the most, and 6.75 years off all meds; the final medicine I tapered was a tricyclic antidepressant, nortriptyline, in autumn 2006. Since that time, I have not taken another psychoactive medicine, nor have I had any desire to. Neither have I sought out therapy or the like. Personally, I’m sick of labels, sick of the industry, sick of talking about my “problems,” sick of navel-gazing, and would just rather live. Full Article →
Those of us, the survivors, who speak from experience, with nothing to gain from sharing our stories and in fact a hell of a lot to lose, risk having them revised or repudiated at every turn by the very people who, and paradigm which, sickened us. I’m simply trying to tell my story as I lived it, because I know exactly what I went through and why, and I don’t think anyone else should have to suffer this way if they need not do so. Full Article →
A North Carolina study of 1,420 participants finds higher rates of agoraphobia (4.6x), generalized anxiety disorder (2.7x), and panic disorder (3.1x) among victims of bullying. Among those who had been both bullies and victims, the study found higher rates of depression (4.8x), panic disorder (14.5x), agoraphobia (26.7x) and suicidality (18.5x) in both childhood and young adulthood. Results appeared in JAMA Psychiatry.
Part 1 of this series examined how the disease model of addiction intersects with the genetically based “mental illness” theory and practice of Biological Psychiatry. Part 2 analyzed the serious limitations and sometimes harmful effects of the domination of addiction treatment by the Twelve Step (disease model), and how Biological Psychiatry has both seized upon and expanded the culture of addiction in this country. What follows will be a presentation of some alternative methods for overcoming addiction problems. Full Article →
The New York Times, in an extraordinarily lengthy front-page article, chronicles the descent of popular college class president, athlete, and aspiring medical student into an ADHD diagnosis, Adderall addiction, psychosis, and suicide.
The recent research scandals out of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry may be alarming, but they are not new. Back in the 1990s, when the university was working its way towards a crippling probation by the National Institutes of Health (for yet another episode of misconduct (this time in the Department of Surgery), the Department of Psychiatry hosted two spectacular cases of research wrongdoing, both of which resulted in faculty members being disqualified from conducting research by the FDA. Full Article →
Both addiction and “mental illness” are far more prevalent where there is poverty, patriarchy, and other forms of mental and physical violence; all this creates fertile ground for various forms of trauma experiences on a daily basis. Addiction and extreme states of psychological distress will never be fully eradicated, or even humanely treated on a broad scale, until the material conditions from which they have emerged are transformed in a truly revolutionary way. Full Article →
8% of major league baseball players have been diagnosed with ADHD (double the rate in the general population) and prescribed stimulants; medications which are ordinarily banned from the sport. An article on the Major League Baseball website asks why.
Citing reasons from weight loss to housecleaning, there has been a 750% increase in the use of Adderall among women in the U.S. aged 26 to 39. Some admit to stealing the drug from their kids and getting addicted, according to an article in yesterday’s Mail, a U.K. newspaper, and ABC News.
The APA convention last week included a debate about the addition of “Behavioral Addiction – Not Otherwise Specificed” to the new edition of the DSM. The new category could be used to diagnose as illnesses addictions to shopping, sex, the internet, or video games – a potential addition of 20 million newly categorized “addicts.” “The biggest problem in all of psychiatry is untreated illness, and that has huge societal costs,” said Dr. James H. Scully, chief executive of the APA. Others are concerned the change would result in a misdirection of resources. “These sorts of diagnoses could be a real embarrassment,” said Thomas F. Babor, editor of the journal Addiction.