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.
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.
For Aeon, Samira Thomas writes that while resilience is attracting a lot of attention from psychology, patience in an underexplored and undervalued virtue in the face of suffering. “Unlike resilience, which implies returning to an original shape, patience suggests change and allows the possibility of transformation as a means of overcoming difficulties,” she writes. “It is a simultaneous act of defiance and tenderness, a complex existence that gently breaks barriers.”
While an estimated 74-percent of patients diagnosed with major depression receive a prescription for an antidepressant, new research reveals that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) may be most helpful when drugs are not used. The study, published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found that the participants in a randomized control trial for MBCT who showed the greatest improvement were those who had not taken antidepressants.
PsychAlive is releasing a new blog and e-course on “Making Sense of Your Life,” with psychologists Lisa Firestone and Dan Siegel. They draw upon the latest neurobiological research, attachment theory and clinical experience to guide participants through the process of creating a coherent narrative around past traumas.
Our use of antidepressants has turned single-episode struggles that recovered 85% of the time within one year, never to recur, into chronic and debilitating disorders that hold patients hostage in their own arrested development. But, If you are in the hole of pain, here’s what I have to say to you. It’s what I say to my patients, and what I tell myself in times of struggle.
Professionals across the Western world, from a range of disciplines, earn their livings by offering services to reduce the misery and suffering of the people who seek their help. Do these paid helpers represent a fundamental force for healing, facilitating the recovery journeys of people with mental health problems, or are they a substantial part of the problem by maintaining our modestly effective and often damaging system?
On Wednesday, March 20, 2016, Rethinking Psychiatry collaborated with The M.O.M.S. Movement and The Icarus Project to host our first Truth and Reconciliation Circle for Receivers and Givers of Psychiatric and Mental Health Services. In this three-hour event, both receivers and givers of psychiatric and mental health services expressed their thoughts and feelings in a structured, facilitated environment.
A new study in press in the Journal of Schizophrenia Research finds that patients who actively resist the negative stigma associated with mental health diagnoses may have better outcomes. According to the researcher's meta-analysis of previous studies, stigma resistance is related to reduced symptoms and improved functioning, self-efficacy, quality of life, recovery, and hope.
A new study out of Kings College London found that twelve sessions of a group mindfulness-based therapy relieved distress associated with hearing voices while reducing depression over the long-term. The person-based cognitive therapy (PBCT) intervention had significant effects on depression, voice distress, voice controllability and overall recovery.
The staff at Minneapolis’ Southside Village Boys and Girls Club are implementing a specially targeted free interactive counseling toolkit designed by a team of volunteers at the American Counseling Association (ACA). “We have kids from everywhere,” said Stephanie Siegel, Southside Village program director. “A partnership like this is good for a lot of staff that doesn’t have that training in mental health. It helps them understand where kids are coming from and why they may be acting the way they are.”
Psychiatry would long since have gone the way of phrenology and mesmerism but for the financial support it receives from the pharmaceutical industry. But the truth has a way of trickling out. Here are five recent stories that buck the psychiatry-friendly stance that has characterized the mainstream media for at least the past 50 years.
The Mercury News reports that California’s judicial council is taking major steps to address the rampant use of psychiatric drugs in foster care. The council has added, “a slate of new safeguards to make juvenile courts here the country’s most careful and inquisitive monitors of psychiatric care for abused and neglected children.”
When it comes to psychiatric diagnosis, I can be almost certain that anyone outside of my immediate field of work just won’t ‘get it,’ no matter where they stand on anything else. And not only won’t they get it; they will often actively be one of the unwitting oppressive masses, either through their inaction or worse.
For the last three years, I have been working with people, labeled “hoarders,” who have become overwhelmed by their possessions in their homes. This has been some of the most interesting, challenging and thought-provoking work I have ever done. It is also an area that, I think, highlights all of the issues that challenge us in helping people who feel overwhelmed, for whatever reason.
Why, despite the fact that the vast majority of people diagnosed with a mental illness have suffered from some form of childhood trauma, is it still so difficult to talk about? Why, despite the enormous amount of research about the impact of trauma on the brain and subsequent effect on behaviour, does there seem to be such an extraordinary refusal for the implication of this research to change attitudes towards those who are mentally ill? Why, when our program and others like it have shown people can heal from the effects of trauma, are so many people left with the self-blame and the feeling they will never get better that my colleague writes about below?
Veterans with PTSD experience observable changes to the brain after mindfulness training, according to new research published in Depression and Anxiety. “The brain findings suggest that mindfulness training may have helped the veterans develop more capacity to shift their attention and get themselves out of being "stuck" in painful cycles of thoughts," says Anthony King, Ph.D.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that keep us going, especially when the complicated ones seem so overwhelming; when there’s too much chaos, too many emotions, too many possibilities and impending disasters. No one can give you a reason to live. You have to find it for yourself. Until you do, try simple things. For me, it was a turtle.
“Meditating before running could change the brain in ways that are more beneficial for mental health than practicing either of those activities alone,” Gretchen Reynolds writes in the New York Times. A new study, understanding that depressed participants often presented changes related to focus and concentration in the prefrontal cortex and that exercise and meditation are both known to change this same area, engaged participants in focused meditation and aerobic exercise and found significant improvements.
A new study out of the University of Manchester found that personalized exercise programs significantly reduced the symptoms of young people suffering from their first episode of psychosis. Researchers also conducted an accompanying qualitative analysis and found that the participants experienced improved mental health, confidence, and a sense of achievement and felt that autonomy and social support were critical to their success.
Popular illness narratives tend to be of the restitution sort: I was living my life, I became sick, I got well and picked up where I left off. However, this idea that lost health will be restored, that ill health is a journey to wellness, doesn’t help someone with a chronic illness or disability to tell her own story, which may not have a (conventional) happy ending. The notion of ‘recovery’ can be damaging when a return to health is not guaranteed – when it may not even be possible.
A new study to be published in the next issue of Schizophrenia Research examines patients suffering from a first-episode of psychosis who stop taking any antipsychotic drugs. The researchers attempt to identify variables that may predict the successful discontinuation of antipsychotics. They find, for example, that those who discontinue the drugs have, on average, the same outcomes as those who stay on them, and that those who have better social integration are more likely to discontinue without relapse.
Columnist Nev Jones writes about the lack of adequate care for people in the US experiencing a first-episode of psychosis. “Evidence-based (or informed) psychotherapies for psychosis are widely unavailable in the U.S., and clinicians often lack any training in psychosocial approaches specific to voices and other specific symptoms.,” she writes. “Family members are provided little or nothing in the way of targeted supports, and warnings to ‘get (a loved one) on SSI as soon as possible since they will likely be disabled for life’ are the norm rather than reassurance and encouragement that recovery is not only likely, but what families should expect.”
“The transgender community has disproportionately high levels of depression and anxiety,” Diana Tourjee writes for Broadly. “A new study shows that trans kids who are accepted display virtually the same rates of mental illness as the general population.”
Copyright © 2016 Mad in America Foundation.