Lessons from Soteria-Alaska

Yes, Soteria-Alaska is closing. And its sister organization, CHOICES, Inc., has lost its way. As the person who conceived of both of these and got them going, I have some thoughts that might be worthwhile about what went wrong; what should or might have been done differently; and most importantly, what lessons might have been learned.
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It’s as Bad as You Think: The Gap Between the Rich and the Poor is an Unbridgeable Chasm

Many of us in the U.K. are mad – mad with anger at the injustice and cynicism of a political system that is turning the gap between rich and poor into an unbridgeable chasm. Mad with anger because the most vulnerable in society are now paying the price for a political ideology – neoliberalism – with their lives. We are mad and angry because they are blamed for failings that are not of their making, but which originate in the system under which we live. ‘Psychological’ assessments, online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other forms of ‘therapy’ are being used to force unemployed people with common mental health problems back to work. Mental health professionals responsible for IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) have been relocated to help ‘assess’ and ‘treat’ claimants.
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Mistakes Were Made (by all of us)

After reading Psychiatry Under the Influence I turned to Mistakes Were Made (but not by me). by the cognitive psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson to get a better understanding of cognitive dissonance and how it has influenced my own thinking and behavior. It offers a cautionary tale for all of us.
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Are DSM Psychiatric Disorders “Heritable”?

A key psychiatric genetic concept is heritability. The concept was originally developed as a tool to help predict the results of selective breeding programs of farm animals,1 but has been extended in the past few decades as an indicator of the strength or magnitude of genetic influences on various psychiatric disorders and behavioral characteristics. Numerical heritability estimates have been a mainstay of the field of behavioral genetics, but here I would like to focus on problems with the heritability concept in psychiatry, while keeping in mind that most of the points made here and by previous critics apply to the use of heritability estimates in all areas of human behavior.
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CBT: Part of the Solution, Part of the Problem, an Illusion, or All of the Above?

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT has been pretty heavily criticized by a number of Mad in America (MIA) bloggers and commenters in the past few years. In a way that isn’t surprising, because most MIA bloggers are looking for radical change, and CBT often appears to be part of the establishment, especially within the therapy world. But while I’m all for criticizing what’s wrong with CBT, especially with bad CBT, I think there’s also a danger in getting so caught up in pointing out real or imagined flaws that we fail to notice where CBT can be part of the solution, helping us move toward more humanistic and effective methods of helping.
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When the Tail Wags the Dog, Eventually the Dog Bites

International events related to emotional health issues continue to shock the world, and call into question the value of the mental health industry. Recently, many people around the globe have felt devastated by the suicide of Robin Williams and shocked by the downing of the plane by Andreas Lubitz. Numerous incidents of violence have been shown to involve the mental health industry with some link to mental disorders or psychiatric medication. The important issue to understand is what do these connections mean.
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Men on Hooks: The Origin of Modern Psychiatric Diagnostic Systems

How did modern systems of psychiatric diagnosis come into being? I will tell you, because it came to me in a dream. There were these men, hanging from hooks, looking down into a pit of unwashed humanity. Above them was a golden globe, containing the ideal person, someone mentally healthy, sane, and normal in every way. The men on hooks, having only vaguely examined the ideal man floating above, looked down on all that lay beneath. They scowled. They laughed. They were appalled.
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Decision-Making and Moral Injury

Oppression and abuse have effects on a person’s sense of self and experience of agency, or lack thereof; on one’s ability to know one’s self in the world as actor, and not only acted-upon. Some (and maybe all) aspects of oppression and abuse specifically entail moral injury and violation of moral integrity. This is particularly interesting to explore because it links psychological trauma as a result of oppression and abuse with an aspect of decision-making difficulty that some of us experience as psychiatrically-labeled people. There is something to be gained by reclaiming ownership of the truths of our own lives, and ownership over making decisions about where to take the discussion: in philosophy, psychology, law, politics, art or anywhere else.
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What Do Dreams Mean? Dreams Provide a Window Into Our Character

Dreams have fascinated people from the beginning of time. People believe dreams foretell the future; that they have psychological meanings; that we commune with spirits and the dead; that they are visitations from ancestors; that dreams make prophesies and are filled with omens and auguries. It’s always important to keep in mind that dreams, and our lives, are a human story. Our psychiatric treatments must always appreciate our stories. We do not need destructive pharmaceuticals. We need to appreciate the full scope of the human story.
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National Survey for US Peer Support Specialists – Deadline June 26, 2015

  My last conversation with Dr. Allen Daniels was a good one. I had been having a shit fit about Question #2 which is a demographics one asking for M/F Gender. A few of my colleagues and I who care …
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The Mind-Body Connection: The Correlation between Stress and Inflammation

  In their book, Psychiatry Under the Influence (2015), Whitaker and Cosgrove suggest that researchers of the human condition might improve the integrity of their investigations by foregoing connections to marketing interests.  The research examining the ways in which depressive/anxious …
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To Function or Not to Function?

A lot of mental health (and addiction) conversations have a bottom line question: Is the person functional? Can they go to work? That is the fundamental question, coming out of the industrial revolution where the Western world was told we …
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Bullying+Lying = Fear+Complying

Psychiatrist are the link between two entities; the pharmaceutical companies that engage in bullying and misinformation, and the consumers who respond with fear and compliance. The goal of this world-wide enterprise is to expand the superhighway that connects research for new drugs to clinical trials, and then to production and distribution.
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The Medical Model Discovers Heroin Addiction

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of heroin addiction and a sharp rise in opiate over-dose death. Contrary to addicts being introduced to opiate addiction through street heroin, 75% of new addicts became addicted through prescription opiates. While SAMSHA does suggest that Opiate Treatment Programs screen for other drugs, SAMSHA is unclear about what should happen if the urine tests positive.
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“Don’t Use John Nash To Promote The Use Of Antipsychotic Drugs”

In The Guardian, Clare Allan recalls the objections of the recently deceased John Nash to the way the movie A Beautiful Mind suggested that antipsychotic medications helped him. He stopped taking any psychiatric medications for good in 1970, she writes, and often expressed how important it was for him to find his own balance between conventional and unconventional thinking. More →

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How Should We Understand the Link Between ADHD and Early Death?

Alarming headlines, based on a recent study, declare that diagnosis with ADHD doubles the risk of early death. Psychiatrist Stephen Faraone, commenting on the original study published in the Lancet, concludes that: “for clinicians early diagnosis and treatment should become the rule rather than the exception.” This conclusion represents a false assumption that the deaths occurred in cases that were not treated.
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Psychiatry On The Defensive, But Ceding No Ground

The British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology has attracted a fair amount of attention in the past year or two by publicly expressing dissatisfaction with psychiatry’s so-called diagnostic system. For almost a hundred years, psychologists who work in this field have gone along with the travesty of psychiatric diagnosis, even though the flaws of such a system are clear to anyone with even cursory training in psychology. What the DCP is saying, if I understand them correctly, is that they will no longer play along with this charade.
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With the Public Defrauded, the Illegitimacy of Forced Psychiatry Crystallizes

If we accept Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgrove’s assessment that informed consent for a person to participate in psychiatry is not informed consent because of the fraud that Americans are subjected to by organized psychiatry, then the consensus for laws that support forced psychiatry have also not been garnered with informed consent. If the average person is offering support to psychiatry via their legislators, because they are operating under the fraud organized psychiatry has perpetrated on the people, then that support is illegitimate.
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“Let’s Roll” With Mad in America Continuing Education

We decided some time ago to hold off on publicizing the Mad in America Continuing Education project until we had a range of presentations. We are just about there. This week we posted the incredible Dr. Eleanor Longden’s talk, “The Voices in My Head.”  If you have never heard her story, this is one you won’t forget.  If you need CMEs or CEUs, or just want to audit this and other amazing presentations for free, please go to the MIACE home page.
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Book Review: Parenting Your Child with ADHD: A No-Nonsense Guide for Nurturing Self-Reliance and Cooperation, by Craig Wiener, EdD

I have recently read this book, and I think it would be extremely helpful for parents, teachers, and counselors who work with children in this area. Here are some quotes: “…ADHD [is] something that your child does rather than something …
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Responsibility – Legal and Spiritual

Law and spirituality both deal with the issue of responsibility. The law sets out norms and standards promulgated by authorities in accordance with the procedures established by the state, typically set out in a constitution or governing statute, or according to custom. These norms and standards might or might not reflect accurately a consensus about values and principles that are shared by the people governed by them, and might or might not have been adopted in procedures that are satisfyingly participatory and democratic.
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Thinking Upstream: Winning Real Mental Health Reform By Joining the Anti-Corruption Movement

At the end of my talk at the American Psychiatric Association Institute on Psychiatric Services , a psychiatrist in the crowded lecture room put his hand up and posed a surprising challenge: Why was I so concerned about reforming psychiatry and ending iatrogenic harm from medications, diagnosis, and forced treatment when there are so many other issues in society to worry about?
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The ADHD Label and Mortality

Most people on hearing that ADHD is a “neurodevelopmental disorder” would assume that a neurological pathology is implied. But all the DSM-5 requires is that the individual be functioning below par (for any reason) in one of several areas. It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see how individuals who are distractible and impulsive have a higher mortality rate. But people who ride motorcycles routinely also have a higher than average accident-related mortality rate. Should we therefore conclude that riding motorcycles is a “valid” illness?
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Who’s the “Menace to Society”? Robert Whitaker or Jeffrey Lieberman?

Jeffrey Lieberman, American Psychiatric Association through May 2014, recently called Robert Whitaker a “menace to society” because Whitaker had challenged the long-term effectiveness of psychiatric medication. But is it Whitaker or Lieberman who has been a menace to society? Lieberman, earlier in his career, conducted experiments in which patients diagnosed with schizophrenia were given a psychostimulant drug with Lieberman’s expectation that this drug would be “psychotogenic” (induce symptoms of psychosis), and this deterioration in fact occurred. How could the APA not feel guilt or shame about Lieberman and other psychiatrists conducting experiments that create psychotic symptoms and suffering? The answer to this question takes us to a very dark place.
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Neuroleptic Drugs And Mortality

In November of last year, Schizophrenia Bulletin published a research study that, on the face of it, would seem to upset the notion that neuroleptic drugs are toxic and that their use markedly reduces life expectancy. There are, however, some problems with the study that need to be considered.
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