Psychiatry and the Business of Madness: An Ethical and Epistemological Accounting

Normally when I write a book review, I include some quotes from the work to enable readers to judge for themselves the quality and content of the material.  With Psychiatry and the Business of Madness, however, this presented a problem, in that virtually every one of the 264 pages of text contains eminently quotable material.
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The Sunrise Center: A Place For Adults To Recover From Psychiatric Drugs

Many people now using psychiatric drugs have been convinced or forced to use them while being treated in the mental health system. A good number of people are eager to stop using these drugs, but are often discouraged by others from doing so. Many psychiatric survivors believe that they can never stop using these drugs because they were told they would need to use them the rest of their lives. We hope the Sunrise Center will become a catalyst for a movement of people creating places for people who want to stop using psychiatric drugs.
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Medical Nemesis Revisited: Physician-Caused Anger, Despair & Death

Regaining power over our own health was the goal of Ivan Illich’s 1976 book Medical Nemesis, which detailed an epidemic of physician-caused death and illness. This epidemic continues, and so does an epidemic of physician-caused anger, despair and crazy-appearing behaviors. In 2013, the Journal of Patient Safety reported that the “true number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients is estimated at more than 400,000 per year,” making it the third leading cause of death in the United States It is especially drug use errors, communication failures and diagnostic errors that result in another medical nemesis: They can make us appear—and sometimes feel—like we’re “crazy.”
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Fighting for the RLCs Continued: Where’s the Evidence?

The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (along with the five other RLCs across the state of Massachusetts) remains in jeopardy of a 50% slash to our budget that would go into effect July 1, 2015 should it come to pass. As noted in my previous post (Peer Supports Under Siege), the proposed reduction was introduced by Governor Charlie Baker in early March. However, there are many hoops to jump through and so we’ll remain in budget limbo for some time to come while the House and Senate draw up their own recommendations and then everyone comes together to make a final call.
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There is a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In

Psychiatric abuse is a reality in psychiatric settings when mental health law and the safeguards within it are not implemented properly or monitored effectively. We have found this out to our cost and others also. Forced drug treatment can be used on mental patients who resist by declaring them to be “without capacity”. It’s for this reason that in 2011 I became involved in clinical psychology training groups at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, for people who are “experts by experience”, or service users and carers. For over 3 years I tried to be meaningfully involved and to have a voice at the table. However it became increasingly difficult to be heard and to be valued as a psychiatric survivor, an unbeliever in mental illness. I was up against it from both academics and the people with lived experience, and their carers, who believe in biological psychiatry and that forced treatment is necessary.
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Protesting a Psychiatric Atrocity

On May 16, 2015, protests against electroconvulsive therapy or ECT will take place around the world.  To support this educational campaign, I am releasing my newest Simple Truths about Psychiatry video which is titled “Shock Treatment is Trauma.” Ted Chabasinski, an attorney, is an organizer of the protest.  Ted recently talked about his personal experiences and the upcoming protests on my radio show, “The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.”  We agreed that money and power is not the only motivation of shock doctors.   Many are taking out their violent impulses on their helpless victims.
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An Essay on Finnish Open Dialogue:
A Five-Year Follow-Up

It has been five years since I traveled to Western Lapland in Finland to film my documentary “Open Dialogue” on their Open Dialogue Project—the program, as I stated in the film, presently getting the best long-term statistical results in the world for the treatment of first-episode psychosis. My film came out four years ago, and since then I have been screening it around the world, giving lectures about Open Dialogue and my experience in Finland, participating in regular conferences and Q&A sessions about it, receiving daily emails, Facebook messages, blog and Youtube comments about it (as it’s now been free on Youtube for a year), and keeping in regular contact with some of the folks who work there. But I haven’t shared many of my updated opinions in writing, so I wish to do so now.
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Reflections of a Lone Wolf Maddass in Search of a Better World

I’m one of those maddass lone wolves who gets worse rather than better with conventional treatment. Don’t get me wrong. I really wanted it to work. Just to prove how hard I wanted it to work, I went to graduate school in mental health. I stayed longer than I needed to. I studied well beyond the masters degree that permitted me to practice. I took all the coursework for a doctorate, including 6 extra semesters of counselor supervision. I applied myself whole-heartedly. I engaged the literature and the latest science. I reflected deeply on my own emotions, biology, cognitions, family history. I worked to make sense of what was offered.
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More Reflections on Compassion and Uncertainty at ISPS 2015

In the blog posts by Noel Hunter and by Sandy Steingard, there have already been great reports on ISPS 2015, but I would like to share my own thoughts about what was most significant, and directions for the future.
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84 Things I Could do Once Again When I Got Off Psychiatric Drugs

In order for an experience to create a life mission and strong sense of purpose, it has to affect you to the core. Though I was only on psychiatric drugs for a few years of my life (and the very lowest “clinical” doses available), they affected me so strongly and took away so much that I could never forget or simply leave that experience behind me. I share this list, not to torture people who are on them or struggling to get off, reminding them of how much is being taken away (or could be taken away), but rather to validate the desire that many won’t have to take these substances, and will be supported in better ways.
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Psychiatric Diagnoses: 
Labels, Not Explanations

It has long been my contention that psychiatric “diagnoses” have no explanatory value, and in fact constitute nothing more than vague, unreliable re-labeling of the presenting problems. The only evidence for the so-called illness is the very behavior that it purports to explain. There is nothing more to it than that. Psychiatry consistently fails to respond to this particular criticism, and with equal consistency presents these labels as if they did have explanatory value.
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The Torturous Evasions of the American Psychological Association

Even as the Senate Intelligence Committee released its scathing report last December highlighting the role of psychologists in designing and implementing the CIA’s torture of detainees, the American Psychological Association (APA) had already begun to distance itself from the two leading psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who created what the committee called the “ineffective” and “inhumane” $81 million program for the CIA. That program was also adapted by the U.S. military, leading to the horrors of Abu Ghraib.
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What I Learned at ISPS 2015

I was fortunate to attend the recent ISPS conference in New York. MIA already has another excellent post on this and I hope there will be more to follow. I suspect each of us will bring a somewhat different perspective based on our own experience and I hope the polyphony of voices will enrich the reporting of this event. There was so much happening – often simultaneously – that my only complaint is that there were many fine workshops that I was not able to attend. I want to extend my sincere thanks to the organizers of this meeting.
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Towards a New Psychiatry:
Say ‘No’ to the Fiction of Brain Diseases

During my lifetime I have witnessed the fall of Freudian psychiatry and the ascension of molecular psychiatry. Unfortunately, we have gone from the frying pan into the fire. I certainly do not subscribe to old-fashioned psychoanalytic ideas which had been beset by considerable problems throughout the years. Its practice suffered from dogmatic theories and miscast beliefs, which worked to the detriment of responsiveness to our patients. I love and value the work of psychiatry. Nothing is more gratifying than helping people heal from painful symptoms, and to fulfill their ability to love and recover their authenticity. I am proposing a new and different paradigm for psychiatry.
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Clipping Care, Not Profit

Right now in Britain there is a controversy shaping up between the commercial and financial interests of big managed-care corporations and the need to care for vulnerable people in the community, people with conditions like dementia and long-term psychoses. Conflicts of interest are nothing new in the contested field of mental health, but this one threatens not only quality of care, but the well-being of low paid workers, mainly women, who are employed as support workers.
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Most Medical Study Authors in US Still Failing to Comply With Legal Obligations

The majority of clinical trials are still not reporting their results to the US government's ClinicalTrials.gov website, despite legal requirements that they do so, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. More →

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Why Is There An Anti-psychiatry Movement?

On February 18, the eminent psychiatrist Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, former President of the APA, published a video and transcript on Medscape.  The article was titled What Does the New York Times Have Against Psychiatry?, and was essentially a fatuous diatribe against Tanya Lurhmann, PhD, a Stanford anthropologist, who had written for the New York Times an op-ed article that was mildly critical of psychiatry.  The essence of Dr. Lieberman’s rebuttal was that an anthropologist had no business expressing any criticism of psychiatry, and he extended his denunciation to the editors of the NY Times.
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The Death of Common Sense: When Love and Grief Become ‘Disordered’

There is some hullabaloo going on about “prolonged grief disorder,” AKA “complicated grief disorder.” Yep, another grief-related ‘mental illness.’  According to an NEJM blog the “condition is characterized by intense grief that lasts longer than would be expected according to social norms and that causes impairment in daily functioning.” I think certain groups are at risk of – again – being diagnosed and “treated” for absolutely normal feelings and experiences after an excruciatingly painful and traumatic loss.
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Changing the World and Other Extreme Sports

By Dani, Director at Afiya

For anyone who’s unfamiliar, Afiya is the first peer-run respite in Massachusetts and it is one of only about 18 in the country. It’s no surprise, then, that people are confused about how we do things. But, it’s not just confusion. I’ve come to realize there is actual defensiveness that arises at times when we talk about what we do at the house. If I’m wearing my activist hat, this can be supremely annoying.
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Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!

“I want to change the way we think about mental health care so that any child, whether they have a mental illness or simply need support through a difficult time, can get the right help at the right time.” This was said by Care Minister Norman Lamb and quoted by the BBC on March 17th 2015. Mr. Lamb is known to have a son who has suffered mental health difficulties and it may well have come from the heart as much as it did from the election fever which is beginning to infect British politicians. However it says something worth picking up upon. I want to change the way we think about mental health care… and … simply need support through a difficult time. These are important shifts of language, and doubly important when they come from a government health minister.
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Shrinks: A Self-Portrait of a Profession

After finishing Jeffrey Lieberman’s new book, Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry, I was tempted to put it aside and not write anything, even though I had purchased the book with the intention of doing so. The reason was that I found it impossible to take the book seriously, and actually, I don’t think it is meant to be a serious book. But eventually it dawned on me: The revelatory aspect of Shrinks is that it serves as an institutional self-portrait. What you hear in this book is the story that the APA and its leaders have been telling to themselves for some time.
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Article on “Rethinking Criminal Responsibility”

My law review article entitled “Rethinking criminal responsibility from a critical disability perspective: The abolition of insanity/incapacity acquittals and unfitness to plead, and beyond” has been published in Griffith Law Review. The article attempts to find a way to deal with concerns for a degree of toleration towards socially disruptive behavior that may be criminalized, without making some people categorically and legally irresponsible as happens with the insanity defense.
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Antipsychotic Use in Nursing Homes Causing Many Adverse Effects in Elderly

The extensive off-label use of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes is causing many adverse effects and providing limited benefits, according to a review of the literature in Health Policy. More →

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The Drugging of Children in
Foster Care

It’s no secret that here in America, foster children are being prescribed psychiatric drugs, especially neuroleptics, as a means of controlling their behavior. A great deal has been said and written on the matter. Politicians have declared the practice deplorable. Children’s advocacy groups have expressed concern, and, of course, those of us in the antipsychiatry movement have screamed till we’re hoarse. But the problem persists.
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