People in roles of power in the mental health system often don’t realize how much complicity they have in actually creating the symptoms they claim are biologically-based in individuals with psychiatric labels. Full Article →
For me there are at least four separate questions to be addressed. The first is whether neuroscience is capable of understanding human emotion and higher level cognitive experiences. The second is the extent to which that understanding – even if it is achievable – is critical to our being able to help people in distress. The third is whether is it is correct to assume, as many people seem to do, that if we come to some basic understanding of brain function as it pertains to core human emotion and suffering that this will automatically translate into treatments that are commonly thought of as “biological,” such as drug treatment. The fourth relates to the limitations and relevance of studying the brain in isolation when we are constantly in interaction with our environment. Full Article →
Imagine being able to live harmoniously amongst others without fear. I cannot. Cannot imagine it even a little bit. What can be created for people in my camp? People who are sensitive and had so much trauma in childhood that life among others is highly stressful, scary and worrisome? I’m allowing myself sanctuary-time alone, quiet time, time to write… yet… will things ever be different? Will I ever find my niche in this world, where I feel safe and able, valued and worthwhile, loved, adored and comfortable? I have no idea. Full Article →
The relevance of pellagra to psychiatry is that it also can present with psychosis, obsessions, mania, depression and confusion. It involves the main organs of the brain, the gut and the skin – many referred to the 4 Ds: dementia, diarrhoea, dermatitis and death. Pellagra (meaning rough skin) was first described in 1735. At the time, the cause was unknown but it was associated with poverty. Although linked to the poor person’s diet (often consisting mainly of corn products), the going wisdom at that time was that it was contagious (Pellagrans, as they were called, tended to live in close proximity) and was perhaps hereditary (sound familiar?). Full Article →
It is time for a new understanding of suicidal feelings and actions. Perhaps a more open dialogue, without fear of sirens and police and involuntary hospitalizations, would have made a difference for one young man here in Asheville last month. Perhaps more public local conversation would have saved some of the 45 lives we lost here in Buncombe County in 2010. Perhaps a more public and safe national conversation would have saved some of the 22 veterans who died from suicide every day in 2010. Full Article →
Susan Salasin created this video about the role of trauma in the lives of those who are labeled seriously mentally ill. She collaborated with Andy Blanch and Joan Gillece of NCTIC (National Center for Trauma Informed Care), and with Leah Harris of the NEC (National Empowerment Center).
Psych meds can not only put weight on regardless of how you otherwise care for yourself, they also tend to make people feel gravely lethargic and vaguely sick all the time. I could not exercise as I had before. Could not. It doesn’t matter how much mental health professionals try to tell us that if we just exercised we’d be okay in the face of neurotoxic drugs that cause weight gain, because the fact is the drugs impede that capacity. This is not widely appreciated or understood and people on psych meds are again traumatized and made to feel guilty for something that is truly outside of their control as long as they are taking these medications. Full Article →
Suicidal torment is magnified by the loss of hope. People in life-or-death survival conditions, such as being lost in the wilderness or being held prisoner of war, will dream and plan for the future in order to make their present conditions tolerable. The critically ill heart patient expresses his faith in his upcoming surgery by making a date to play golf six weeks after the operation. But the depressed person sees no viable future. There is nothing to look forward to, no dreams to fulfill, only the never-ending hell of the eternal present. Full Article →
For everyone who goes on psychiatric drugs, the reason comes back to power imbalances in their personal life. Women who’s husbands “make all of the money” and have an unequal share of the power, kids who’s parents have power over them—frequently people who have less money and security, therefore less platform for authority than those around them. Mental illness is not in fact an illness but an unequal division of power and sense of security in a social group. Full Article →
Those of you following our posts on Nutrition and Mental Health know that we ended the last one, on ‘history’, by saying that the two of us are essentially devoting our research lives to re-inventing the wheel. It is old knowledge that good nutrition is essential for mental health, and it is really old knowledge that improving nutrition can improve mental health. We are going to spend the next few blogs outlining the science and rationale that supports the role played by nutrition in wellness as well as the expression of mental illness. This information will provide modern scientific validation for the conclusions drawn by some of our ancestors, described in the previous blogs. Full Article →
Jacks McNamara is a genderqueer artist, writer, organizer, and healer. Jacks co-founded The Icarus Project and is the subject of the poetic documentary Crooked Beauty. They are the author of Inbetweenland, released by Deviant Type Press, have self-published 5 zines, and are co-author … Full Article →
Anyone who has used benzodiazepines and sleeping pills knows how difficult it is to get off them (worse than heroin!) and how much time it takes to recover. Although there is a lot more helpful information on the web these days, a lot of it is based on anecdotal accounts, personal stories and theories rather than “real” evidence. Full Article →
Earth Day 2013 is a good time to reflect on how problems in our mental health system reflect deep flaws in “normal” conceptions of what it means to be a human being. These flawed conceptions then contribute in a critical way to the climate crisis that threatens us all. Full Article →
British researchers find that a 10% increase in pain medication resulted in a dramatic reduction in the use of antipsychotic and other medications. “When people with dementia are showing distress reactions this may be due to them experiencing pain or discomfort, yet too often rather than trying to identify and relieve this symptom they are needlessly given anti-psychotic drugs to calm them and keep them quiet,” said the head of quality and dementia care for Four Seasons Health Care, which conducted the (non-peer reviewed) study.
Military.com reports that doctors from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs are continuing to prescribe tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax despite the VA’s guidelines advising against their use in association with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Studies, however, have not shown benzodiazepines as effective treatment for what are called the core PTSD symptoms of avoidance, hyperarousal, numbing and dissociation,” the article states, but many of the veterans taking the medications are “Vietnam War-era vets, who perhaps began taking benzodiazepines years before guidelines were in place.”
I hope this will be of help to people who hear voices and their friends and supporters. I also hope it will be helpful to the voices which are parts of many people’s lives. Many voices I have come across and the people that hear them are convinced that their voices are spiritual in nature. I take an agnostic position on this, and therefore endeavour to respect different spiritual understandings. My intention is not to explain all voices psychologically but to help people make peace with their voices so they can get on with their lives. Full Article →
A few months ago I had the great honor of speaking with Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, after a talk he had given locally here in Washington, DC. We spoke about eCPR and there was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. He looked deep into my eyes and said, “We are in the same line of work. We are peacemakers.” It was a profound statement that inspired me to think more about eCPR as a tool of peacemaking. Full Article →
A paper in Health reviews how one recovery-based approach, the Whole Life Manual, is applied in clinical practice, finding that “Our findings support the data in studies that show that increasing confidence, hope and optimism are key features of the process and outcomes of recovery based approaches, and in particular in the Whole Life Programme. Respectful and flexible approaches within the relationship with the therapist; an increase in knowledge about other resources and how to use them themselves, and improved relationships and having greater control over their lives were also important.”
The Annual Review of Clinical Psychology presents a review by Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation (and others) of “Psychosocial Treatments for Schizophrenia,” encompassing the recovery model of mental health and a range of evidence-based practices including “promising” practices such as cognitive adaptive therapy, CBT for post-traumatic stress disorder, first-episode psychosis intervention, healthy lifestyles interventions, peer support services, supported education and supported housing.
The label of schizophrenia has a chilling ring. It carries with it the suggestion of a wrecked and wretched life. It is also a diagnosis that is notoriously difficult to shed. For this reason, the diagnosis of schizophrenia should not be applied lightly and not without a thorough understanding of the patient’s family and wider circumstances. Full Article →
BMC Psychiatry offers an examination of the history of childhood abuse among 141 patients with bipolar disorder found that fins “childhood trauma is associated with a more severe course of bipolar illness… By using specific trauma factors (physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse/neglect) the associations become both more precise, and diverse.”
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica reviews the literature on psychological and biological findings on resilience, finding that secure attachment, the experience of positive emotions and having a purpose in life are three building blocks.