My Operation Tomorrow: Mental Health Justice, Speaking Out for Our Rights, and Creative Maladjustment

For the past 42 years I have been a psychiatric survivor, and in the last few decades I have seen how working with the disability movement can amplify our voices. But I never expected the idea of trying to find my voice to become so literal!
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Feral Psychiatry: More on the Garth Daniels Case

On Wednesday, May 18th, Daniels had what was probably his 102nd consecutive episode of ECT. As always, he told the staff that he did not want it and did not consent to it; as always, he got it. Later on the next afternoon, Garth left to join his family in Brisbane. None of us have a crystal ball but his position now seems much better than at any stage in the past. Let’s look at some of the facts and opinions surrounding this case.
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Forced “Treatment” is Torture

I have opposed involuntary treatment for my entire career and first began criticizing it in the medical literature in 1964.  As Thomas Szasz originally taught, involuntary psychiatric treatment is unconstitutional and an assault on basic human rights.   I am also against it on scientific grounds, because after hundreds of years, this violation of human rights has generated no scientific studies to show that it benefits its victims. I am encouraged by the excellent blog by Peter C. Gøtzsche on MadinAmerica.com, which inspired me to put a new section, Psychiatric Coercion and Involuntary Treatment, on my website, and to compose these further observations of my own.
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Important New Book— “Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness”

The central question that Will Hall asks is: What does it mean to be called crazy in a crazy world? The answers Hall receives in more than 60 interviews and essays from ex-patients, scientists, journalists, artists, and dissident psychiatrists and psychologists restores the full range of color to our humanity. Outside Mental Health reminds us that perhaps the most pathetic aspect “inside mainstream mental health” is how simplistic, boring, and reductionist it is—when our natures are so very complex, fascinating, and non-reductionist.
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Abolishing Forced Treatment in Psychiatry is an Ethical Imperative

Forced treatment in psychiatry cannot be defended, neither on ethical, legal or scientific grounds. It has never been shown that forced treatment does more good than harm, and it is highly likely that the opposite is true. We need to abolish our laws about this, in accordance with the United Na­tions Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which virtually all countries have ratified.
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Pain’s Promise, and the Problem with Pills

Equating pain with promise may sound strange, and even uncaring, to all who experience it — especially to a significant, chronic degree. To clarify, I am not minimizing the horror that pain is for millions of people, and the need to provide compassionate care for those whose pain negatively affects their lives. But I firmly believe that for almost all of us, pain is a mechanism that exists for many reasons — it is not something we should necessarily attempt to extinguish without first giving adequate consideration to the messages that it may be sending. Doing so not only further jeopardizes our well-being. It may also prevent us from realizing a richer, more meaningful, grateful course than we ever imagined.
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Why Parents Give Amphetamines and Other Risky Psychiatric Drugs to the Children They Love

The stakes are very high when loving parents anxiously sit down across from a child psychiatrist who has completed an ADHD evaluation of their child. All of the parents’ high hopes for their precious child’s well-being and future happiness are pressing on the parent’s heart and mind. The psychiatrist leans to the side, reaches into a drawer, and lifts out a life-size model of a human brain for the parent or parents to see. The little five-year-old sitting on the floor playing stops and looks up at a model of his or her brain as the psychiatrist breaks the bad news. And the question is formed right then in the little boy or little girl’s soul that may haunt the child for the rest of their lives – “Why is there something wrong with my brain?”
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Rising Rates of Suicide: Are Pills the Problem?

If you’ve read recent reports that state “US suicide rates surge to a 30 year high,” you might first justify the reality with the fact that things feel very wrong in our world today. On a personal, national, and planetary level, people are suffering to survive and the distress is coming from all sides – medical to economic to existential. But you probably also wonder why more people are choosing this permanent and self-destructive path, and feel compelled to submit to seemingly logical appeals to provide these individuals more help and greater access to treatment. Surprise: that may be the last thing our population of hopeless and helpless needs. Life’s inevitable challenges are not the problem. It’s the drugs we use that are fueling suicide.
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Well-Being Therapy: A Guide to Long-term Recovery

If a patient has high cholesterol or sugar, the doctor may prescribe a drug to lower what is too high, but he/she generally adds some suggestions: for instance to avoid certain types of food, to do more physical activity, to refrain from smoking. But if someone has a low mood and sees medical help, the doctor–particularly if he or she is a psychiatrist–will likely just prescribe a drug and not encourage any “self-therapy.” The problem with his approach to care is that psychiatric drugs, even when they are properly prescribed, may help very little in the long run and create a number of additional problems
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No, It’s Not Because He Was ‘Mentally Ill’: Why Tragedy Struck in Orlando

49 people died in a club in Orlando, Florida at the hands of a man who is now dead, too. In only a few hours time, he destined himself to be forever made infamous as one of an increasingly long line of ‘shooters’ that have sent our nation on a desperate search for who or what to blame. I never met this particular ‘shooter,’ but in my teens I did meet one. Here’s how that went.
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My Pharmaceutical Reincarnation

I lost almost four years of my life, and I’ve not a doubt that it was due to those “life-saving” pills. To that end, they did work. At a time when I was doubled-over with depression, those four prescriptions kept me alive. But then they killed me slowly and brought me back as a stranger.
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Mad Memo #1: Dear Supreme Commander (You!) of Global Nonviolent Revolution!

Did you know you are a key leader of a global peaceful revolution? Surprise! My guess is that many of you reading this may not yet know that you are one of the “Supreme Commanders” of world revolution. In fact, if you wish, and you reflect the values of Martin Luther King, you may say you are leading the organization that he first envisioned, the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM.) Let me explain.
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What Would a Trauma-Informed Society Look Like?

Imagine if we, as a society, started recognizing trauma, pain, grief, fear, the need for connection and understanding, and oppression without defensiveness or denial. What if, hypothetically, we saw the signs in people who were “defiant,” “withdrawn,” “oppositional,” “depressed,” “manic,” or otherwise as desperate pleas to have their needs met, and stopped telling them they were sick for doing so? What would a society that actually encouraged expression of emotion, compassion, and empathy look like?
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Moving Forward in the Science of Psychiatric Medication Discontinuation/Reduction

This week Live & Learn launched a research study on the experience of people labeled with mental disorders who have tried to stop taking psychiatric medications. This project — the Psychiatric Medication Discontinuation/Reduction (PMDR) Study — aims to understand the process of coming off psychiatric medications in order to better support those who choose to do so. The study seeks to answer the question: What helps people stop their psychiatric medications? What gets in the way of stopping?
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Reared-Apart Twin Study Mythology: The Latest Contribution (Part One)

The latest endorsement of claims from research on twins reared apart comes from cancer physician and researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee, who published an article in the May 2, 2016 edition of The New Yorker entitled “Same but Different: How Epigenetics can Blur the Line between Nature and Nurture.” Mukherjee is an influential author due to his medical credentials, accessible writing style, promotion by the mainstream media, and award-winning book. Unfortunately, Mukherjee is only one of many authoritative authors to misreport the methods and findings of human genetic research.
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A World That Would Have Us Doubt: Rape, the System, and Swim Fans

This narrative of who matters in society and how we convince everyone that certain people don’t count (including, sometimes, those people themselves) should be a familiar one to all of us who’ve been touched by the psychiatric system in some way. But we don’t talk nearly enough about how one interlocks with the other. For example, how do these attitudes about girls and women and their bodies serve as a sort of preparatory ‘class’ for the systems that will bind them just a little further down the road?
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Nutrition, Sleep, and Mental Health

It was somewhat surprising 15+ years ago when Bonnie first began to be challenged (by psychiatrists in particular, who are always being asked about adverse side effects) to answer this question: what are the side effects of taking a broad-spectrum formula? In all these ensuing years, the answer has not changed from her first observations: people repeatedly tell us that in addition to improved mental health and cognitive clarity, they sleep better and they experience relief of constipation. Now, finally, we have evidence for the first of those two ‘side effects’ in the form of an excellent study
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Effective Tactics for the “Rehumanizing Resistance”: Real Politics 101, Part Two

In Part Two, I discuss strategy and tactics for the Rehumanizing Resistance, including: (1) Traditional, Personal, and Underground Politics; (2) Direct Action and Confrontation: When It Can and Cannot Succeed (3) Organizing: Taking Advantage of the Current Cultural Climate; (4) Alliances and Coalitions; and (5) Film and Media. In Part One, I discussed how the Resistance has been winning scientific battles but losing the war against the expansion of influence of First-Order Psychiatry (which includes American Psychiatric Association and Big Pharma), and how this is due in large part to the First-Order’s effective political tactics and the Resistance’s political naivety.
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Reclaiming My Voice

Everything was not okay, but how could I possibly explain? That I don’t belong here. That I am a phony, a fraud. That I am damaged beyond repair and unsuitable for this work. I felt it happening again: the pressure building in my chest and the tears burning my throat at the prospect of someone discovering my deepest, darkest secret. The precursor to my entire life falling apart.
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Please Join Groundbreaking Research on Psychiatric Medications

Psychiatric medications such as antipsychotics and antidepressants account for a huge number of published research studies. This existing research, however, is almost exclusively constrained within a medical model approach, purporting to evaluate medications as treatment for biological brain disorders, and designing studies accordingly. The disease, and how medications presumably affect it, is at the center — with pharmaceutical company financial interests not far behind. That paradigm is starting to change.
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Stop The War On Chronic Pain Patients

Much has been written lately about an “epidemic” of opioid overdose deaths, in some cases advocating for a blanket reduction in the availability of prescription opioids. Regrettably, many readers will not penetrate beneath the sensational headlines to grapple with the complicated realities of this issue. Few who aren’t themselves in pain may realize what harm such articles are doing to tens of millions of people.
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Prescribing Antidepressants for Girls: Intergenerational Adverse Consequences

Children exposed to SSRIs during pregnancy, a recent study shows, were diagnosed with depression by age 14 at more than four times the rate of children whose mothers were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder but did not take the medication. Such reports are usually met, appropriately, with an outpouring of reassurances from clinicians who take care of pregnant women, who need to protect their emotional wellbeing in whatever way they can. From my perspective as a pediatrician specializing in early childhood mental health our attention must be on prevention.
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Who Will Guard the Guardians of Psychiatry?

The assertion that the so-called antidepressants are being over-prescribed implies that there is a correct and appropriate level of prescribing and that depression is a chronic illness (just like diabetes). It has been an integral part of psychiatry’s message that although depression might have been triggered by an external event, it is essentially an illness residing within the person’s neurochemistry. The issue is not whether people should or shouldn’t take pills. The issue is psychiatry pushing these dangerous serotonin-disruptive chemicals on people, under the pretense that they have an illness.
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Twin Method Assumptions are Indefensible, but are Useful to the Rich and Powerful

The wealthy, and the institutions they finance and promote, look favorably upon research whose authors claim that economic disparities are rooted in biology, and are not harmful to humanity as a whole. But there are countless obvious real-world examples showing that political policies, social struggles, and public health programs, including those involving the adjustment of income differences, lead to improved health and well-being.
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The Evidence-Based Mind of Psychiatry on Display

Earlier this year, Ronald Pies and Allen Frances wrote a series of blogs that collectively might be titled: “Why Robert Whitaker is Wrong about Antipsychotics.” In regard to reviewing the “evidence” on that question, Pies did most of the heavy lifting, but he also told of drawing on the expertise of E. Fuller Torrey, Joseph Pierre and Bernard Carroll. Given the prominence of this group, it could be fairly said that Pies’ review reflects, to a large degree, the collective “thoughts” of American psychiatry. And with that understanding in mind, therein lies an opportunity, one not to be missed.
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