The idea of schizophrenogenic or refrigerators mothers was an embarrassing era for psychiatry, and so psychiatrists were only too happy to explore the brain and the genome to unlock the secrets of mental illness. Today, the rhetoric has shifted away from intrapsychical conflicts and traumatic ruptures, and instead aberrant neurochemistry or delinquent genes are held as the source of mental illness. Regardless, the message is clear: mental illness is beyond our control and requires psychiatric intervention. The moral authority the mental health industry claims over our mental life rests on this claim. Full Article →
I’ve heard countless horrific stories of abuse, neglect, trauma and most every form of torment that one human can inflict upon another. The sting of such stories never lessens. I’ve often marveled at the mind’s capacity to focus a sustained attention upon ever new ways to perpetuate and promote anguish. Sophia’s story, presented here, is tragically similar in regards to the abuse she suffered. Full Article →
Peter R. Breggin, MD is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former full-time consultant at NIMH. Dr. Breggin has been called “The Conscience of Psychiatry” for his many decades of successful efforts to reform the mental health field. His scientific and educational work provided the foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric drugs and Electroshock (ECT), and leads the way in promoting more caring, empathic and effective therapies.
Dr. Breggin acts as a medical expert in criminal, malpractice and product liability suits, often involving adverse drug effects such as suicide, violence, brain injury, death, and tardive dyskinesia. A review of Dr. Breggin’s forensic work can be found at Legal Cases on his website. As documented in his resume, he began testifying in the early 1970s and has been qualified in court 85 times or more since 1987. In 2010, he testified before Congress about psychiatric-drug induced violence and suicide in the military.
Dr. Breggin has a weekly radio program on the Progressive Radio Network (prn.fm). His radio interviews are informative and inspiring discussions with pioneers in the field of mental health. Archives of the “Dr. Peter Breggin Hour” are available, free from iTunes or Podbean.
Dr. Breggin and his wife Ginger founded and direct the Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy (a nonprofit 501-C3). The center conducts conferences with cutting-edge professionals and reformers, and offers a free e-newsletter and therapy resources center. Dr. Breggin’s professional website is www.breggin.com and provides many resources for professionals, reformers, and anyone interested in learning about psychiatric drugs, electroshock, and other critical issues in psychiatry.
Dr. Breggin’s private practice is in Ithaca, New York where he treats adults, couples, and families with children. He has a subspecialty in clinical psychopharmacology, including adverse drug effects and psychiatric drug withdrawal.
On October 23, Simon Wessely, MD, a British psychiatrist, published an article, The real crisis in psychiatry is that there isn’t enough of it, at the online site The Conversation. Dr. Wessely is the Professor of Psychological Medicine at King’s College, London, and is also the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The Conversation is an independent non-profit online media outlet that delivers “…news and views from the academic and research community…” directly to the public. Their aim is “…to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues.” Full Article →
Is it possible to create a “Rainbow Coalition” with a common agenda of (1) reforming prisons, (2) providing affordable housing, (3) limiting the use of psychotropic medications, and (4) providing community-based mental health and psychosocial support? Prominent psychiatrist Allen Frances asked us at the Mad in America Film Festival to join such a coalition. Rather than rejecting Frances’ agenda outright — as I appeared to do in a recent Mad in America blog — we should give his proposal a fair hearing. As always, the devil is in the detail. Full Article →
How many times have you watched a news story or read a headline where a journalist or expert commentator making a statement or writing about an issue related to mental health uses the term “the mentally ill?” What image or thoughts does that bring to mind? For me, it evokes feelings of disgust and frustration over the ignorance associated with using this term as a blanketed reference to all persons who have been diagnosed or labeled with a mental health condition. Many who do not support the medical model of treatment for mental health problems believe mental illness does not exist all together. Full Article →
We have silenced voices that need to speak. An epidemic of pill-pushing over the past 40 years has not repaired us, brought us closer together or happier and it certainly hasn’t cured us of any mass delusions. In fact it’s given us all new delusions to contend with, ones that are easy to spot if our minds and hearts are set on progress. Full Article →
In a recent Huffington Post blog — republished at Mad In America — prominent psychiatrist Allen Frances declared: “Psychiatric coercion has become largely a paper tiger: rare, short-term, and usually a well-meaning attempt to help the person avoid the real modern-day coercive threat of imprisonment.” With Representative Tim Murphy’s bill — advocating for court-ordered “outpatient” psychiatric compliance — locked in committee, it is tempting to believe that Frances might be right. Does Murphy’s bill look scary to us, but actually lack any real teeth? Full Article →
I think a better term to use is “medical harm aware advocate.” It is a much better explanation of both the problem and the solution that we are working for. I’ve updated my graphic that explains why Allen Frances and mainstream mental health is using the word “anti-psychiatry” to avoid dialogue with our community. Full Article →
Our main reason for beginning an awareness month is the need for recognition– a yearning to make the word “iatrogenic” and its corresponding language available to our community, and to the greater public as a household name. We don’t have the luxury of raising money for research, racing for the cure, or ribbons. For that we would have to be on the map. Why is it that something this pervasive gets so little traction? Full Article →
There is mounting evidence that benzodiazepines are causing Alzheimer’s Disease. I cannot imagine any genuine medical specialty ignoring or downplaying information of this sort. But psychiatry, with the perennial defensiveness of those with something to hide, promotes the idea that they are safe when used for short periods, knowing full well that a huge percentage of users become “hooked” after a week or two, and stay on the drugs indefinitely. Full Article →
Editor’s Note: At the Mad in America film festival, Allen Frances, M.D., who was the chairman of the DSM IV task force, participated on a panel of psychiatrists who were asked to respond to the themes explored at the festival and to offer their own critiques of psychiatry. After the festival, he wrote a blog for the Huffington Post, which was partially inspired by his participation at the festival, and he then offered to re-publish it on MIA. It appears below. Also at the festival, Justin Brown sought to hand out a leaflet criticizing Dr. Frances’ writings, as well as his critique of those who criticize psychiatry. We asked him to submit a post for MIA instead, which is published below. Full Article →
One of the main arguments for continuing drug treatment for depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder is that you will get worse from stopping the drugs, especially if they are stopped abruptly. These are findings from mainstream psychiatry. However, if we combine this information with the methodology of the randomized controlled trial, we may see that these drug trials do not show efficacy of drugs, and may not be usable to show safety. The positive side to this is that the trials may actually demonstrate the healing power of our own minds. Full Article →
In the early hours of September 19 – about 3 AM, someone estimated – Gloria X. was awoken from her sleep at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, the New Jersey State hospital. Her new (about 3 weeks) roommate, Florence, whom she had trusted, was on top of her punching her in the eyes. Florence pounded her eyes over and over and over – taking out 50 years of rage on Gloria. Why Gloria? No one knows. Or those who know ain’t talking. Full Article →
Today I Emailed a submission with strapline ‘A Plea: Fair and Just Treatment for All People in Psychiatric Settings’ to the Health and Sport Committee at Scottish Parliament as evidence in respect of the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill. The overarching objective of the Bill is stated in the policy memorandum as: “to help people with a mental disorder to access effective treatment quickly and easily.” As a mother and carer of two sons with mental disorder labels I want more than this. Full Article →
If a person in mid-life is feeling anxious, or depressed, or can’t sleep? No problem. No need to figure out the source of these concerns. No need to work towards solutions in the old time-honored way of our ancestors. Today, psychiatrists have pills. Pop a benzo! And by the way, you’ll have a 40% increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in your late sixties. Full Article →
Before entering the field of psychology in the 1970s, I worked as a psychiatric nurse, gravitating to the community mental health movement, and then to anti-psychiatry politics. As a nurse at a psychiatric hospital in Santa Monica, also involved in union organizing and direct action politics with a feminist health collective, I was drawn to the radical wing of community mental health. Decades later, in producing a documentary film on the stories of people who entered the state psychiatric hospital in Oregon under the insanity plea, I had the chance to look back on that era through the lens of a fiction film that had made this hospital so famous. Full Article →
I was honored to both attend and participate in the recent Mad In America Film Festival. I was asked to join a panel of psychiatrists who were asked to respond to the themes and questions explored in the festival. What follows are a lightly edited version of my remarks. Full Article →
Electric shock “treatment” is no more effective than sham ECT, in which the client is prepared and anaesthetized, but not actually shocked. When one considers the pains to which real doctors go to protect their patients from seizures, I suggest that the deliberate induction of grand mal seizures, often involuntarily, constitutes neither “a remarkable discovery” nor a “remarkable medical advance,” but rather aggravated assault by a person in a position of trust. Full Article →
Whistle Blown. On October 5th, 2014, I began an indefinite duration Hunger Strike upon the State of Colorado. I’m doing this because I have hard evidence of a pattern of plea coercion and child abuse coverup at Boulder County Mental Health Center, Inc. in the form of a wire recording of one of their employees, Dan Shearer. Full Article →
I spent 15 years slowly preparing for a trip into the unfaceable, in large part by observing an American human rights advocate and coalition builder (who has German heritage) do gut-wrenching emotional healing work particularly related to her internalized anti-Semitism and her internalized white racism. She inspired me with her intelligence, tenacity and determination to be free from the damaging effects of these forms of oppressions. Many of her family members supported the Nazies. Full Article →
I worked for ten-and-a-half years as a psychotherapist, nine of them licensed and one-and-a-half as a social work intern. For the last four years I have worked as a filmmaker. I have considered of late turning in my therapy license (an LCSW), and, if I were to return to the psychological helping profession, to do so as a life coach—unlicensed and outside the system. But is this wise? Full Article →
In the west the almighty “professional” is the guru. The educated “expert,” in general, takes on many different guises but we are systematically taught not to trust ourselves and to, instead, submit to the expert opinions of people who do not know us and who, all too often, believe they know far more than they actually do. The party line in mental health care is that we should find a professional for just about everything. What happens if an appropriate professional is not available? The reality on the ground is that is often the case as much as we’d like to think otherwise. Full Article →
Two years ago, when I first felt the dizzy confusion of benzo disability, I talked about it openly. I remember discussing it briefly with an older friend who found my plight strangely fascinating. He asked if I remembered Quaaludes, a sedative-hypnotic that was all the rage in the 1960s and ‘70s. “We called them ‘Stumble Biscuits,’” he told me, “because you’d stumble down the street and hit one car and then stumble over and hit something else and it was just happy and goofy. It’s too bad they took them off the market. Those things were great.” Full Article →