Polarization or Accommodation To Transformation: What Would
Malcolm X Say?

This is Part 1 of a blog addressing key issues raised by Timothy Kelly in his recent critique of Robert Whitaker’s writings, and his call for a new direction in the struggle against psychiatric abuse. Kelly’s blog concentrates (when carefully examined) on two very distinct viewpoints on the current situation and the road forward, and it warrants much deeper critical scrutiny and debate.
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Take the ADHD “Test”:
An Inside Look at ADHD’s Diagnosis

Just so we are clear, on page 61 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the “creators” of the diagnosis for ADHD admit there is no test sensitive or specific enough to actually diagnose ADHD. Given that the Drug Company-funded “experts” in charge of writing the ADHD diagnosis for the APA admit there is no test capable of diagnosing ADHD, nor are there any biological markers or brain scans capable of serving as a diagnostic, how can they diagnose 6.5 million kids with ADHD?
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Born to Sense:
High Sensitivity+Trauma =
Psychiatric Diagnosis?

It’s important that the potential for connection between high sensitivity, trauma and psychiatric diagnosis be explored.   Even if it could be proven that I were born more sensitive,  I have no idea how the way in which I interact with my everyday world may or may not be interrelated to the shape of my reactions to trauma overall (the same reactions that have, for me, led to psychiatric diagnosis).
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Envisioning the Future of Mental Health

It struck me that I ought to interview “experts in the critical psychology field.” I reached out and did just that. There was general agreement that most people held the following ten erroneous assumptions about “the state of mental health services.”
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Letter to the Mother of a “Schizophrenic”: We Must Do Better Than Forced Treatment and Laura’s Law

Again and again I am told the ‘severely mentally ill’ are impaired and incapable, not quite human. I am told the “high utilizers” and “frequent flyers” burden services because they are different than the rest of us. And when I finally do meet the people carrying that terrible, stigmatizing label of schizophrenia, what do I find? I find – a human being. A human who responds to the same listening and curiosity that I, or anyone, responds to. I find a human who is above all terrified, absolutely terrified, by some horrible trauma we may not see or understand.
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Over the Falls Without a Barrel: The Patent Cliff and Prescriber Impartiality

When a pharmaceutical company discovers a potential new drug, they undertake a mammoth project. The aim is to amass sufficient evidence that national organizations such as the FDA will approve sale of the drug, and the type of disorders for which it can be openly prescribed – the so-called “on-label” uses. In order to encourage companies to undertake this risk, governments place a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
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Eight Unanswered Questions about Psychiatric Research in Minnesota

The wait has been exhausting, but it is possible that a flicker of light may finally shine on the dark recent history of psychiatric research at the University of Minnesota. Given these upcoming investigations of psychiatric research at the University of Minnesota, the time is right to look back at some of the disturbing, unanswered questions that have emerged over the past several years.
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A New Paradigm for Psychiatry

Here’s a newsflash – the hope for a molecular-biochemical explanation for psychiatry is a false hope. Most of my field has come to expect and believe that we are on the verge of a new paradigm. This paradigm is based on the illusion that the workings of the brain on the molecular level has anything to do with psychiatric conditions. The proponents believe we are on the verge of proving that psychiatry is a brain disease no different from cancer or diabetes. But all that the research has come up with is – nothing.
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What the Government Knows About Suicide and Depression That We Are Not Being Told

For nearly two decades, Big Pharma commercials have falsely told Americans that mental illness is associated with a chemical brain imbalance, but buried SAMHSA survey results tell us that depression and suicidality are associated with poverty, unemployment, and mass incarceration. And these results also point us to the reality that American society has now become so especially oppressive for young people that an embarrassingly large number of American teenagers and young adults are depressed and suicidal.
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Robert Whitaker Missed the Mark on Drugs and Disability: A Call for a Focus on Structural Violence

Robert Whitaker extended one of his core arguments from Anatomy of an Epidemic in a blog post last week. His argument revolves around the claim that psychiatric drugs are the principal cause of increasing psychiatric disability, as measured by U.S. social security disability claims. But does this really explain the rise in recipients of these SSI & SSDI benefits?
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Why I Created an Alternative to Psychiatric Hospitalization

I have had doubts about the current medication oriented approach to psychiatry for some time. I clearly see that medications can help some folks ease their burden and support a process of recovery. Sadly, far too often medications create problems and even limit recovery. Perhaps the greatest drawback of psychiatric medications is that we lose sight that we have to do more: more assessment, more treatment, more education, more encouragement. Medication currently forms the central and pivotal focus of psychiatric hospitalization in this country. This needs to change.
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The Astonishing Zyprexa Cover-Up

Back in 2006, when my son Franklin was in his late twenties and living in a group home in the Boston area, he refused to take Clozaril any more because of the required bi-weekly blood draws. His doctor prescribed Zyprexa as a substitute, and Frank suddenly began to gain weight … a lot of weight. Later, I would learn that UCLA psychiatrist Dr. William Wirshing had said of Zyprexa prior to its 1996 approval by the FDA: “It is just un-stinkin’-believable. It is the best drug for gaining weight I’ve ever seen.” The doctor indicated that taking ten milligrams of the medication was equivalent to ingesting 1,500 extra calories per day. My outrage knew no bounds.
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Return to Asylums?
Let’s Not!

A recent JAMA opinion piece calling for a return to asylums – not the bad kind, the authors insist, but a “safe, modern and humane” kind of asylum – led to a radio debate. Joseph Rogers, executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, talked about his experience in a state hospital: “When I hear the term ‘asylum’ I get my back up because there was no asylum. These places … are not safe places … You were warehoused.”
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Quantitative Mental Health & Oppression, Part Two: The Case of the ‘American Indian’

In my last post, I described how attempts of Western social science to quantify human internal experience became oppressive. It was the quantification of feeblemindedness by early applied psychologists that solidified the field as a profitable profession. You may have thought of this effort as ‘the measurement of intelligence,’ but the goal was always to isolate and keep people presumed to be inferior from reproducing.
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Persecution: Dangerous Liaisons

If you participate in a clinical trial, the new industry “consent” forms mean you put your children and your wider family and community in a state of legal jeopardy. Because they can hide the data of your experience in the trial, even if you have been significantly injured by the treatment, companies can declare there were no side effects and your invalidated experience can then be used to deny justice to someone who is injured in exactly the same way you have been.
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Today: 5 Years Free From the Psychiatric Drug Cocktail

It’s been five years today since I completed a six year withdrawal process from a large cocktail of psychiatric drugs. Today is also my 50th birthday which, frankly, seems much more remarkable to me at this point. Inside I am only aware of eternal youth. Upon having done an informal and small survey, it seems most people feel that way though it’s not talked about much among the adults of our species. That which watches and experiences our lives in these bodies does not age. It’s actually a wonderful thing. So I’m here wondering what comes next in this amazing trajectory which is the life being lived in this body that my parents called Monica.
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Occam’s Razor and the Elusive Pursuit of Social Justice

I have devoted more than 40 years to the study of extreme mental states – my own and others. I have witnessed the extraordinary ability of people to survive and thrive after living through horrendous experiences. Remarkable feats of resilience attest to our untapped potential. I am acutely aware of an immense responsibility to communicate and use what I have learned so that others may have a somewhat easier task navigating the difficult and diverse states we call madness.
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Psychiatric Regret

As I was researching my book A Disease called Childhood: Why A.D.H.D. Became an American Epidemic, I came across an interesting pattern in the history of psychiatry. In my mind I made up a name for this pattern and called it “neo-Kraepelinian Regret,” named after the 19th century German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin. Kraepelin was interested in classifying mental disorders by their symptoms so that psychiatrists would have a common language with which to communicate. His most famous contribution is his classification of the different forms of psychosis into manic depression, dementia praecox (which later became known as schizophrenia), and paranoia.
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Activism, Suicide, and Survival: Healing the Unhealable

The present-day mental health establishment focuses primarily on a ‘biological’ cause for despair and other so-called ‘aberrant’ mental manifestations in the world. But when we look at the news, it’s bursting with sad realities. Animals dying, people starving, rape everywhere. Climate change bringing more disasters, racist mortgage practices. Are we to grow a skin so thick that we don’t cry when we read about a government firing scud missiles on its people? How are we to process mass-murder in an elementary school? What is more aberrant: to be so hardened that we do not cry, or to cry constantly? Might the healthy response to depressing realities to become depressed? How do we create hope when so often our world seems so terrible? How much activism is enough?
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Stopping the Madness: Coming Off Psychiatric Medications

Millions of patients find themselves caught in the web of psychiatric sorcery – a spell cast, hexed, potentially for life. They are told that they have chemical imbalances. They are told that the most important thing they can do for themselves is to “take their medication,” and that they will have to do so “for life.” Most egregiously, patients are sold the belief that medication is treating their disease rather than inducing a drug effect no different than alcohol or cocaine. That antidepressants and antipsychotics, for example, have effects like sedation or blunting of affect, is not a question. That these effects are reversible after long-term exposure is.
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Reflecting Back on a Campaign to Stop Forced Outpatient ECT

One of the most amazing activist campaigns I have been involved in during my 40 years of protest for human rights in the mental health system, was the effort to stop the involuntary electroshock of Ray Sandford of Minnesota. Ray reached MindFreedom in the Fall of 2008, and an international human rights campaign began for him.
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In Praise of the Nervous Breakdown

Even the most level-headed individual can be rendered insufferable by taking an introductory psychology class. Suddenly the neophyte student will become an arrogant expert, deriding the ignorance of friends, family, and dinner companions. The use of the term “nervous breakdown” is a case in point. Uttering the words is a bit like blowing a dog whistle: Intro Psychology graduates will converge from miles around to clarify that there is no such thing . . . In this case, however, the phenomenon is not restricted to sophomores.
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Addressing the Mental Health Crisis:  What Really Matters

For those who actually believe that psychological problems are on the rise, serious inquiries must ensue. Many have rightly raised concerns about iatrogenic culprits, including drug-induced effects, but this too seems to fall short of accounting for the meteoric rise. Except for those forced to take psychiatric drugs, I would suggest that most seek out drugs in the hope of relieving iniquities caused by factors such as those I discuss below; unfortunately, this may not only lead to avoiding addressing the real issues, but may even lead to further complications of the drugs. Given this, I present five areas for further discussion, which I believe are causal agents for the mental health crisis.
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Drugs and Dementia

This week, JAMA Internal Medicine published online an interesting paper, “Cumulative Use of Strong Anticholinergics and Incident Dementia: A Prospective Cohort Study.” They found that exposure to anticholinergic drugs significantly increased the risk of developing dementia. This study has important implications for those who prescribe and take psychiatric drugs.
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My Personal Journey to Our Upcoming Empathic Therapy Conference

Our newest conference this coming April in Michigan is the high point of a transition that my wife Ginger and I have been making for several years. The origins of the change go much further into the past to sixty-one years ago in 1954 when I was an eighteen-year-old college freshman at Harvard and a friend invited me to join him as a volunteer on the wards of Metropolitan State Hospital. I was majoring in American History and Literature, with little thought of becoming a psychologist and no thought whatsoever of being a medical doctor and a psychiatrist.
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