When the American psychiatrist Thomas Szasz killed himself a year and a half ago at the age of 92, I thought there would be a global outpouring in psychiatric circles of sympathy or scorn. Instead, his death was largely met with silence, a silence as deafening as the one that attended the second half of his long, prolific, and polemical career. Szasz’ name didn’t show up at all in the APA program last year, and this presentation of mine is apparently the only one to mention him this year. This silent treatment has, ironically enough, and surely against his will, forced him to fulfill the ancient Epicurean ambition to live and die unnoticed. Full Article →
The IT GETS BETTER collection (on Beyond Meds) is intended to help those who are currently dealing with the iatrogenic (medically caused) injury from psych meds. The intention is folks who are still suffering really badly might know that we can heal. The series will continue weekly for some time. Full Article →
Note: This post originally appeared on August 18, 2014 on dxsummit.org. On August 5 and 6, 2014, a group of roughly twenty persons met in Washington, DC for the First Summit on Diagnostic Alternatives. The gathering consisted mostly of psychologists, but social work, … Full Article →
The FDA’s black box warnings on antidepressants, which incidentally were long overdue, had a negative impact on pharma-psychiatry’s image, and on their business, but had no negative impact on client welfare. Nevertheless, psychiatry continues to resist the reality that their sacred drugs do in fact cause harm, and that the FDA warnings were needed. For psychiatry, business and professional status routinely trump client welfare. Full Article →
The idea that our more distressing emotions can best be understood as symptoms of physical illnesses is a pervasive, seductive but harmful myth. It means that our present approach to helping vulnerable people in acute emotional distress is severely hampered by old-fashioned, inhumane and fundamentally unscientific ideas about the nature and origins of mental health problems. We need wholesale and radical change in how we understand mental health problems and in how we design and commission mental health services. Full Article →
What are warm lines? All warm lines are phone lines that can be called by anyone at any time who wants to talk about what is going on for them. Most warm lines are “peer run,” meaning the phones are answered and managed by people who have been through difficult times themselves and may still be experiencing challenging emotions and other types of suffering. Warm line operators, unlike therapists or some other hotline counselors, often share their own experiences to relate with, connect and comfort callers. Full Article →
It’s not just in spiritual circles but also in psychiatric and mental health circles that fear and anxiety are too often medicated away instead of worked with. It’s not easy to work with it and a lot of professionals don’t know how to hold such space for such courageous facing of the dark parts of psyche and so many people don’t learn that it’s actually possible. For those of us who’ve come off psych drugs and faced severe psychiatric drug withdrawal syndrome it becomes a necessary and often heinously difficult initiation . . . Learning to embrace my experience and surrender to it was the way through for me. Full Article →
Like millions, I am sitting with the fact that one of the funniest people to grace the planet has died by his own hand. Robin Williams’ death has hit people of my generation, Generation X, especially hard. After all, his face flashed often across our childhood screens. Mork and Mindy episodes were a source of solace for me as a little girl, as I bounced around between foster homes and family members’ homes, while my single mother cycled in and out of the state mental hospital, fighting to survive. I could laugh and say “nanu, nanu – shazbot” and “KO” and do the silly hand sign and forget for just a little while about living a life I didn’t ask for. Full Article →
There’s an interesting article in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. It’s called The Efficacy of Antidepressants on Overall Well-Being and Self-Reported Depression Symptom Severity in Youth: A Meta-Analysis. The authors concluded: “Though limited by a small number of trials, our analyses suggest that antidepressants offer little to no benefit in improving overall well-being among depressed children and adolescents.” In the Discussion section of the paper, they stated, “We found no evidence that antidepressants offer any sort of clinically meaningful benefit for youth on self-report measures of depression, quality of life, global mental health, or parent reports of autonomy.” Full Article →
What can we say about the DSM that hasn’t already been said? Quite a lot, actually. The manual (full title: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), produced by the American Psychiatric Association, is incredibly powerful. It shapes research agendas, clinical practices, social care, economic decision-making and individual experiences internationally. As Rachel Cooper notes in her excellent new book, Diagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, changes to it impact ‘the lives of as many people as changes in the policies of most countries’ (p. 2). The DSM needs to be talked about. Full Article →
There has, at one time or another, been talk among psychiatric survivors, mental health consumers, and former mental patients about operating an Underground Railroad for people oppressed by psychiatry. As a part of this need, of more recent date, and related to it, this talk has evolved around the idea of creating safe places, dubbed Landing Zones, for people facing involuntary outpatient commitment orders. Involuntary outpatient commitment, often misleadingly referred to as assisted outpatient treatment, almost invariably means forced drugging.
As some psychiatric facilities are being downsized, and others are being shut down, involuntary outpatient commitment orders have become the government’s new way for dealing with non-compliant mental patients. These commitment orders usually involve sentencing the person suspected of “mental illness” to a drug taking regimen. Sometimes this drug taking regimen involves bi-weekly injections with a long acting neuroleptic drug. These injections tend to be more potent, and more harmful, than the pills one might find in a daily regimen. Should a person under court order refuse to take psychiatric drugs, civil commitment proceedings are likely to be initiated.
Psychiatric drugs, from benzodiazapines to neuroleptics, are known to have many adverse effects. It is our feeling that nobody should be forced to take these powerful and potentially harmful drugs against his or her wishes. Neuroleptic, misleadingly referred to as antipsychotic, drugs are known to cause a neurological movement disorder, Tardive Dyskinesia, and a metabolic syndrome associated with many physical ill health conditions. Studies have shown that people in mental health treatment are dying 25 to 30 years earlier on average than the rest of the population due in large part to the drugs they have been prescribed. Relocating people threatened with forced drugging can preserve physical health, and it can save lives.
45 states now have involuntary outpatient commitment laws. 5 states are currently free of such laws. The number of states with involuntary outpatient commitment laws only goes up. The number of states without such laws only seems to go down. Among the 5 states without involuntary commitment laws, there are sustained efforts afoot to enact such laws. The situation in two of the most populous states in the union helps illustrate the seriousness of the problem. In New York state Kendra’s Law has been extended, and there is pressure to make it permanent. In California Laura’s Law has passed in both Los Angeles county and San Francisco, and other localities are likely to follow their lead. Obviously, the situation has grown so dire that it demands popular resistance.
MindFreedom International is a global human rights organization consisting mainly of psychiatric survivors, their relatives, friends, and allies. The idea of establishing such Landing Zones has been rolling around for awhile in the thoughts and actions of MindFreedom International members. As far back as 2006, there was an article on the MFI website about the launch of a Landing Zone Project, and MFI was instrumental in getting a story into the Wall Street Journal featuring the plight of one Gabriel Hadd. Gabriel Hadd, a young musician, fleeing forced drugging in Michigan, successfully attained drug-free refuge in Colorado for a time before returning home to Michigan.
Just what do we mean by Landing Zones? As long as there has been no mandate at the national level, involuntary outpatient commitment orders stop at the state border. If the person under such a court order were to surreptitiously relocate to another state, and refused to take psychiatric drugs, there is not much that anybody at present can do to prevent him or her from doing so. A Landing Zone is a location with the resources in place in terms of services, advocacy, support, and assistance to accommodate a person fleeing forced outpatient drugging orders in another state.
On the evening of July 25, during the MindFreedom Creative Revolution Conference held at Wisdom House in Litchfield Connecticut, July 24 – July 27, we conducted a focus group on the subject of the creation of Landing Zones. As a result of this historic session, we are happy to announce the launch of the MindFreedom Landing Zone Committee. This Landing Zone Committee will be scheduling regular teleconferences to brain-storm, network, and organize around the issue of forming Landing Zones. If you, and the same goes for anyone you know, would like to get on the committee, and participate in this effort, you can do so by contacting me, Frank Blankenship, either by email or by telephone.
African Americans enduring slavery during the 1800s used the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom. Today many people find themselves in a similar situation. Chemical shackles are being used to institute a different type of slavery, the slavery that comes of a pill or a needle. It is high time for people to come to the aid of their fellow citizens threatened with psychiatric abuse. Today we are forging a new Underground Railroad of our own to help people escape from psychiatric oppression unto liberty. By participating in the creation of Landing Zones, you, too, can play a vital role in resisting the creeping encroachment of mindless tyranny, for absolutely everybody is at risk, and in upholding the independence of free and proud people.
On July 28, I published a post called Simon Says: Happiness Won’t Cure Mental Illness. The article was essentially a critique of a post written by British psychiatrist Simon Wessely, that essentially said that all psychiatric treatment alleviates suffering and makes people happier. The falsity and self-serving aspect of this contention is glaringly obvious, and I drew attention to this. My essential point is this: psychiatric drugs; illegal street drugs; alcohol and nicotine, all have in common that they confer a temporary good feeling. That’s why people use them. But they also have in common that they are toxic substances, and if taken in sufficient quantity over a long enough period, they will inevitably cause organic damage. Full Article →
What I find most compelling about the message of RECORD is its reclamation of pain, for the album makes clear that Dylan’s is not the story of a journey to happiness and bliss and total peace of mind, but rather, one back to the truth of what it means to be human— pain, anguish, and all. It is an embracing of suffering, not a leaving behind of it, and this, too, has been my journey. This, I believe, is what psychiatric liberation is all about. Full Article →
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. Full Article →
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 recalls “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 →
When I as a European follow American politics I can’t help being amazed by the – I believe a polite expression would be – colorful personalities in the Tea Party and how they manage to continue to be a powerful part of American politics despite making claims that as I see them reported are easily debunked. American politics does not affect me directly but when I compare psychiatry as a part of the medical science to the Tea Party there are some striking similarities. Full Article →
How do we distinguish between ordinary feeling down, on the one hand, and depression-the-illness on the other. Psychiatry’s answer is that depression-the-illness causes ” . . . clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” This phrase occurs as a criterion feature in almost all psychiatric “diagnoses,” and is embodied in the DSM definition of a mental disorder, but is unsatisfactory from a number of aspects. Firstly, the term “clinically” has no meaning, other than a thinly-veiled attempt to lend a medical flavor to the phrase. Secondly, the term “significant” is not defined, and inevitably rests on the subjective opinion of a psychiatrist, who, in many cases, has a vested interesting in “finding” a “diagnosis.” 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 →