From time to time, I find myself feeling the urge to articulate my views and delineate them from people with whom I may be identified. Rightly or wrongly, I feel that way with this website. Although the goal is to have wide ranging goals there is nevertheless a distinct perspective represented here. I feel the urge to articulate where I part ways with some of the views expressed here. I do this in the spirit of discourse. I am not certain I am correct. I may someday change my mind. I am just expressing my perspective.
In the world of emergency medicine time is a critical resource. But Ryan McGarry, ER physician and stage IV lymphoma survivor, understands at the bone that idle minutes mean something very different to a patient. He recalled, in a recent phone interview, “waiting on news if the therapy is working . . . is there more disease that we didn’t know about, is it getting bigger . . . the clock was torture, watching that dial go around is torture.” McGarry horridly remembers what it’s like to wait on a simple, overdue dose of anti-nausea medication. He reflects, “You’re clearly at an advantage as a physician or provider at any level if you’ve been a patient. It’s just an unbeatable perspective.” Full Article →
On July 17, I wrote a post on the use of neuroleptic drugs as chemical restraints in nursing homes. The article generated some comments, one of which touched on some very fundamental issues which, in my view, warrant further discussion. The comment read as follows: “All drugs can be dangerous toxic chemicals when not used appropriately. While many valid points are made in this article, it’s very one-sided and could be considered biased in that it’s written by a psychologist. I’ve seen many patients and families benefit from their use.” Full Article →
Before Michael Pollan gained well-deserved respect and influence authoring five bestselling books about food, he got my attention in the late 1990s writing about American illegal-legal psychotropic drug hypocrisy. Then he stopped writing about it. If he had continued his assault on American drug hypocrisy, he likely would have been attacked by many psychiatric drug users, mistaking his confronting this hypocrisy as challenging their decision to choose psychiatric drugs. Full Article →
The kinds of experiences we call psychotic are often incredibly scary: people feel they are being persecuted by strange forces, or that their brains have been invaded by demons or riddled with implants from the CIA . . . the list of possible fears is endless, and often horrifying. While standard mental health approaches counter many of these fears, they often create new fears of a different variety. Wouldn’t it be helpful if professionals were trained in an approach that could help people shift away from both dangerous psychotic ways of thinking and also away from the sometimes equally terrifying explanations which emphasize pathology? Full Article →
In this post I want to make the case as to why I am “critical” and not “anti” psychiatry although at times I can feel very “anti”, because of being a survivor of psychiatric treatment and mental illness labels three times over and because all of my family through 3 generations have been targeted by psychiatry. In the 1960′s when we first had a television it could at times get “interference” on the screen which meant we couldn’t see the picture properly and the causes could be either just a blip requiring a thump to the box or a more permanent problem needing fixed by a TV engineer. Psychiatry to my mind has similar problems with “interference”, most particularly in its use of psychiatric drugs for any and every situation it is having to deal with. Full Article →
There’s an interesting article in the July-August 2014 issue of the AARP Bulletin. It’s called Drug Abuse: Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes, and was written by Jan Goodwin. AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons. Jan Goodwin is an investigative journalist whose career, according to Wikipedia, “. . . has been committed to focusing attention on social justice and human rights…” The article is essentially a condemnation of the widespread and long-standing practice of using neuroleptic drugs to suppress “difficult” behavior in nursing home residents. Full Article →
I’m sorry to see that you did not wait to get feedback from Marcia Meyers and the Rethinking Psychiatry core group before posting Jason Renaud’s Op-Ed that clearly violates MadinAmerica’s own posting guidelines. Such bigotry has no place on MadinAmerica. As has been made clear by others, it is a distraction from our shared goal of psychiatric reform.
I am the person from CCHR who is on the Rethinking Psychiatry planning committee. I do it to support a group that is doing good things in my community; mindful that not everyone subscribes to CCHR’s viewpoint, but cognizant that this group and I share the same goals.
To claim that CCHR secretly funds or directs Rethinking Psychiatry is absurd, as are claims that Rethinking Psychiatry or CCHR is promoting Scientology. Contrary to Mr. Renaud’s allegations, Rethinking Psychiatry did not “use CCHR’s materials.” CCHR was treated as any other of the dozens of groups who wanted a voice in the discussion. All were welcome to participate in the Rethinking Psychiatry symposiums, including Renaud’s organization. CCHR paid to have a display table at the symposium like everyone else. No participating group represented itself as speaking for Rethinking Psychiatry. Each displayed what they had to offer to the movement.
Robert Whitaker was the inspiration that led to the formation of Rethinking Psychiatry. He is credited at the beginning of nearly every Rethinking Psychiatry meeting, and acknowledged on our website. Now MadinAmerica is providing a voice to those seeking to discredit and destroy a group that has been one of Robert’s biggest supporters.
I hope you will pay the Rethinking Psychiatry planning committee the courtesy of weighing in before again posting such an inflammatory article. This movement is not furthered by gross misrepresentations of each other’s intentions and activities.
Member of Rethinking Psychiatry Planning Committee
To the Editor,
I have really appreciated the great work you’ve done with the MIA blogs and articles – it is absolutely my favorite place on the web, and helps me every day in my job by providing statements from key opinion leaders, articles, and scientific research that counter the bio-psych paradigm.
That being said, I have to say that I disagree very much with MIA’s decision to post Jason Renaud’s recent blog regarding Rethinking Psychiatry (RTP) of Portland and the Unitarian Church. It contains unwarranted personal attacks,and contains personalized, biased and unsupported accusations. For instance, words like “fraud,” “propaganda outlet,” and “front [group]” appear to be aggressive and unproductive terms that discourage rational discussion.
In actual point of fact, RTP’s mission is clear and focused, we are funded by donations from members and attendees to our conferences, and our only connection to CCHR has been the dedicated volunteer efforts of one man, Ron, whose contributions have always focused on understanding and forwarding our mission of creating and supporting alternatives to the current coercive psychiatric paradigm.
This kind of opinion article only hurts our cause, as I stated clearly in my comments, which consumed many hours of my time this week. I found the article insulting both personally and professionally. Furthermore, while I personally have no issue whatsoever with the actual activities of CCHR, which are I believe are accurately reflected in a number of positive comments that followed the article, these loaded comments could potentially have had repercussions at my place of work and could have been used to undermine my professional reputation.
I’d appreciate some kind of acknowledgement from MIA that the posting of this piece is regretted in some way, and/or that investigation of the situation has shown that Rethinking Psychiatry is a completely independent entity that receives neither funding nor support from the Church of Scientology or from CCHR (or any other organized group, for that matter). I believe an apology and a retraction is definitely in order.
Steve McCrea, MS, Portland, OR
(Steve McCrea has been a professional counselor and advocate in the mental health and foster care system for over 25 years. He was a founding board member of the democratic, child-centered Trillium Charter School in Portland. He is author of “Jerk Radar,” a self-help manual for detecting and avoiding abusive partners and relationships.
From the editor: We believed that Jonathan Keyes’ response to Jason Renaud’s op-ed, which was posted along with the article, was an appropriate response as he was the original author of the article – and the response that we had at the time. We were concerned about Jonathan’s article possibly having done an injustice to the Unitarian church, and wished to correct the record in a timely fashion. But we are happy to have the opportunity to post these responses from Rethinking Psychiatry now.
I am not comfortable with an all-or-nothing insanity defense that is both legally and socially stigmatizing because it sets the person apart as someone who is legally determined to be incapable of being treated as a moral agent. This stigma spills over onto all people who are psychiatrized, and it is part of the conception of madness that also ends up serving as a justification for civil commitment, since we are perceived (incorrectly) as outside the reach of ordinary law. Full Article →
Service users and survivors who work in a behavioral health settings are faced with important questions about whether or not to share their lived experience and when. We may ask ourselves: Am I ready? What about the risks and politics of disclosure? How do I address an associated expectation or barrier, or deal with the possibility of discrimination? What kind of support is available to me in the process? I’m pleased to announce Sharing Experience Lived Firsthand (SELF). Full Article →
I see many patients who want to stay on medications because they have been told for so long how necessary they are for them. But what evidence do we have that shows this? Meanwhile many patients get harmful side effects – like movement disorders, dulled cognition, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sexual side effects, muscle spasms, slowed movements, restlessness, etc., and I wonder; What if I am giving these meds not only for no recovery benefit, but am adding to the problems? Full Article →
I was taught in medical school and psychiatric residency not to talk to people about their voices and their delusions: “It will only feed into them and make them worse.” Nor was I supposed to argue with people with paranoia because they’ll just get agitated and won’t change their mind anyway. We were taught that the psychoanalysts had wasted a lot of time trying to connect people with psychosis by trying to find meaning in their psychosis. I was taught that there is no meaning. All we needed to know about their psychosis was enough to prescribe medications and assess if the meds worked. Full Article →
Professor Sir Simon Wessely is a British psychiatrist who works at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London. He is also the new President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and in that capacity, he recently wrote his first blog, titled, appropriately enough, My First Blog (May 24, 2014). The article is essentially a perusal of, and commentary on, the program for the RCP’s Annual Congress, about which Sir Simon expresses considerable enthusiasm. He also engages in a little cheerleading: ” . . . We [the RCP] are the most democratic of colleges. We welcome the views of patients and carers . . . ” This statement struck me as odd Full Article →
As MIA readers may have noted, we recently opened a store on this site. You’ll find videos for sale there, as well as MIA merchandise. In the near future, we intend to begin selling ebooks as well. Full Article →
As my readers know, I am a great fan of former APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, MD. His regular articles on Psychiatric News were always helpful to the anti-psychiatry cause, and he will be greatly missed. But his successor, Paul Summergrad, MD, has recently posted his first presidential message, APA Poised to Take Advantage of Unique Time in History, and it is already clear that not much has changed. Full Article →
A warm line is an alternative to a crisis line that is run by “peers,” generally those who have had their own experiences of trauma that they are willing to speak of and acknowledge. Unlike a crisis line, a warm line operator is unlikely to call the police or have someone locked up if they talk about suicidal or self-harming thoughts or behaviors. Most warm line operators have been through extreme challenges themselves and are there primarily to listen. Full Article →
Like you, I have experienced severe cognitive and emotional distress in my life. This distress was sufficient that I once received a psychiatric diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, though I imagine other diagnosis could have easily been applied as well. I know what panic attacks feel like. I know how it feels to experience a “dissociative episode” from the inside out. I know what it feels like to believe that you are going crazy. I know what it feels like to convulse in sobs so intensely that you tear muscles. I know what it feels like to want to die. Full Article →
In the last decade or so psychiatry has received a great deal of criticism. The fundamental point of contention is psychiatry’s insistence that an ever-increasing range of problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving are in fact illnesses that need to be aggressively treated with drugs, intracranial electric shocks, and other somatic interventions. It is further contended, by those of us on this side of the debate, that this spurious medicalization of non-medical problems was not an innocent error, but rather was, and is, a self-serving and deliberate policy designed to expand psychiatric turf and to create an impression of psychiatry as a legitimate medical specialty. Full Article →
Twenty years ago, I was invited to watch a young monk named Thupten Ngodrup go into a trance and ‘channel’ the State Oracle of Tibet (The Nechung Oracle). It took place in a small monastery next to the Dalai Lama’s residence in the little Himalayan town of Dharamsala, India. As the monks began to chant and beat their drums, Thupten’s eyes rolled back, his face flushed and he began to speak in a high-pitched voice. A few monks gathered around him and began writing down everything he said. After a few minutes, he collapsed and had to be carried from the room. At the time, I didn’t know what to think of what I had seen. Was this a dramatization? Full Article →
I’m old enough to remember a time when outpatient psychiatry was almost entirely a talking and listening profession. Depression was considered a fairly ordinary and understandable phenomenon – part of the human lot, so to speak – and remediation was conceptualized as being largely a matter of seeking support and solace from friends and loved ones, and of making positive changes in one’s circumstances and lifestyle. In extreme cases, people did consult psychiatrists, but the purpose of these visits was to discuss issues and problems – not to obtain drugs. Full Article →
I find it to be a really difficult decision—some days more so than others—to do peer support in the traditional mental health system. I need to remind myself pretty often why I am doing this because it’s really, really hard! Here are the reasons I go to most often . . . Full Article →