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Publication Bias: Does Unpublished Data Make Science Pseudo?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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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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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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The Drugging of Children in
Foster Care

It’s no secret that here in America, foster children are being prescribed psychiatric drugs, especially neuroleptics, as a means of controlling their behavior. A great deal has been said and written on the matter. Politicians have declared the practice deplorable. Children’s advocacy groups have expressed concern, and, of course, those of us in the antipsychiatry movement have screamed till we’re hoarse. But the problem persists.
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Cracked Open – Installment 2

This is the second of a series of excerpts from Cracked Open, a book whose unintentional beginning came after I became physically dependent on Ativan in 2010. After a year of following my doctor’s orders for daily use to treat insomnia, my body and mind began to fall apart. I’m serializing the book here – before sending it out into the world – because MIA became a lighthouse for me. I want this community’s feedback because I want to help make a difference. I want my words and message to be clear and strong.
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Horse-Stealing Mania: The Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians

I learned of the Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians in 2001 through the paper, “Wild Indians,” by psychiatric survivor and activist Pemina Yellow Bird. Pemina movingly described the notorious history of this federal facility which operated from 1899 to 1933. When I finished reading, I searched up Pemina’s email address, and we began a series of lengthy virtual exchanges that helped galvanize my spirit through the many emerging battles with IHS’s psychiatric labeling and medicating approach to treating Yakama reactions to oppression, and the related psychosocial stress. In short, I began to fight back.
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Do the Math

Being a woman of a certain age, I dutifully went in for a “routine” colonoscopy a few weeks ago. My doctor came to see me before the procedure. She spent about 5 minutes reviewing the procedure and asked me to sign the consent form. I was in the procedure room for about 10 minutes and then we were done. A few days ago, I got the bill. It got me to wondering about the reimbursement for the work I do.
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Retreat From the Social: a Review of Hegel’s Theory of Madness

I read some Hegel in a reading group a few years ago and was bowled over by it. So I was excited to find a book that analyses Hegel’s ideas about the nature of madness, and wanted to review it even though it was written 20 years ago. Hegel may not have been the first to have made this point, but for me his writing brings home, more clearly than any other thinker, the intrinsically social nature of human thought and existence.
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My Journey to Freedom, A Three-Part Story

I have written this story, a story of Exodus to Freedom, a thousand times. I retell it to myself late at night while I lie on my air mattress. In the mornings I may recall these amazing events while running along the beach straight into the sunrise. I walk my dog and tell the story again, hoping passers-by don’t think I’m talking to myself, lest I be called “loco.” But that has never happened. The one aim I had when coming to Uruguay has come true: Not one person here considers me crazy.

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When Asylums Are the Only Hammer, Everybody Looks Like a Nail

Emergency Rooms have become the triaged door to mental health care. Even without so many walk-ins, doctors and health care workers agree that the ER may be good for heart attacks and gun shot wounds, but not for delusions, extreme agitation or despair. But if all you have is an Asylum Fix, then every worried or grieving or traumatized or elated individual looks like he or she needs long-term care. Here are 10 alternatives to crisis and misery.
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Driving Us Crazy: A Festival About Madness in Society, and in All of Us

I am proud and happy to announce that our webpage DrivingUsCrazy was launched today. It will help us to get the word out about the international film festival taking place in Gothenburg, 16-18 October, 2015, and also to highlight the issue of madness every day until then — and hopefully for many days afterwards.
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Peer Supports Under Siege:
A Call for Help and Solidarity
(And how this affects you, too)

We need all of our voices to come together to challenge that sort of power in order to have any sort of hope at all. To the best of my knowledge, the majority of people who hang around these ‘Mad in America’ parts are particularly interested in prioritizing, promoting, and creating access to (true) alternatives, including those built upon peer-to-peer supports. But, whenever one of us falls, it becomes that much easier to knock the next one down. We need more examples to point to, not less; more places to reference and say, “If they can do it, why can’t we?”; more places to call upon and say, “If you don’t believe us, how about them… or them… or them?”
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