In former times, children who were routinely inattentive and impulsive were considered to be in need of training and discipline. By and large, school teachers and parents provided this. In fact, the training was usually provided before the matter even became an issue. Today these children are spuriously and arbitrarily labeled as ill, and are given pills. At the present time the pharma-psychiatric system is being widely exposed as the spurious, destructive, disempowering fraud that it is. Organized psychiatry is responding to these criticisms not by cleaning up its act, but instead by increasing its lobbying activity in the political arena. Full Article →
Researchers from Germany used fMRI along with psychological and physiological measures to investigate the neural factors associated with the role of perceived discrimination in the development of psychopathology. ”Ethnic minority individuals had significant correlations between perceived group discrimination and activation in perigenual ACC (anterior cingulate cortex) and ventral striatum,” the authors conclude. Results appear in JAMA Psychiatry. Discuss →
Herbs are medicine just like food is medicine really . . . this is Mamma Earth in action. Mamma Earth will nurture all your needs in a most beautiful and gentle way. We need to learn to listen. And just like a good diet when it comes to food, medicinal herbs should not be eaten every single day ad infinitum. Variety and moderation is important in all things. Right timing is also important. Learning to intuitively understand the body and its needs is important. I actually woke up this morning thinking I’d arrived. I’m well . . . even if still sick in some regards. Full Article →
If you haven’t heard about the Village Shalom shooting yet, it happened. This time it’s my own community. So I when I list these 9 ways to stop the next Village Shalom shooting know that I speak with full love and compassion. The main thing I want to share is the real story about mental health. Emotional distress can be temporary and transformative. Recovery can mean, “All this goes away.” Full Article →
On Tuesday April 8, 2014, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted its first General Comment, on Article 12 which deals with the issue of legal capacity. It was a moment that brought tears to my eyes and I turned and hugged another woman who was crying – Raquel Jelinek from the Mexican group CONFE, which advocates for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities. I had not expected the adoption to happen so quickly and had not expected my tears. Full Article →
The Guardian tells us that “We now know the government’s Tamiflu stockpile wouldn’t have done us much good in the event of a flu epidemic. But the secrecy surrounding clinical trials means there’s a lot we don’t know about other medicines we take.” (more…)
My story starts in 1976. I had a nervous breakdown whilst studying for my Accountancy Technician examination. I was then prescribed a series of benzodiazepine/anti depressant drugs for 5 years. I have been campaigning for the last 28 years at local, national and international level on this public health scandal and government cover-up. The following questions need to be asked to those responsible: Why have the doctors and psychiatrists ignored the 1988 Committee on Safety of Medicines Guidelines on the prescribing of benzodiazepines? Why are the same physicians making the same mistakes with the newer drugs? Full Article →
I know the popular thing to do right now is rail against the Murphy Bill, and with good reason given its devastating implications. (I plan to do my fair share of railing.) Yet, I can’t ignore the less sensational tragedies of the day. Today’s tragedy is a documentary that lets us know that, along with trauma, “approximately 20 percent of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder.” In other words, there’s the trauma… and then there’s the ‘mental illness.’ Separate and not particularly equal. Full Article →
Antidepressants may be effective over the short term, but research is showing that treatment resistant depression has risen dramatically in the past 30 years; evidence that the drugs may be inducing chronic depression. Full Article →
Army Secretary John M. McHugh said at a hearing the shooter had been prescribed “a number of drugs,” including Ambien, a sleep aid. After giving the soldier a full psychiatric evaluation last month, Army officials detected no indications “that there was any sign of likely violence, either to himself or to others,” McHugh told a Senate panel Thursday. (more…)
On March 25, Joseph Johnston, Juvenile Court Justice in Boston, Massachusetts, issued a disposition order in the case: Care and protection of Justina Pelletier. The background to the case is well-known. Justina is 15 years old. Judge Johnston did not return Justina to the care of her parents, but instead granted permanent custody to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), with a right to review in June. The disposition order is somewhat terse and sparing in its tone, but reading between the lines, it seems clear that the court has determined that Justina either does not have mitochondrial disease or that, even if she does have mitochondrial disease, her concern about this matter is inappropriate and excessive. Full Article →
There is so much that is wrong about the mental health legislation proposed by Pennsylvania Representative Tim Murphy, and reasons to oppose it have been well presented by the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery. But we want, in this editorial, to add one other element to this opposition. We understand too that time is of the essence, and that objections to members of Congress need to be made today (Monday, March 31.)
The legislation will expand the use of court-ordered treatment. The public is led to believe that the expansion of such mandated treatment is a progressive measure. The mandated treatment brings helpful medical care, e.g. antipsychotic medication, to people who are too sick to realize they need it. But, in fact, people objecting to taking an antipsychotic may have a good reason for doing so, and our societal delusion on this issue obscures the fact that court-ordered “outpatient treatment” represents a fundamental assault on individual liberty.
For the public to embrace this legislation, it needs to believe that antipsychotic medication is a necessary and essential treatment for the “seriously mentally ill.” Support for the law would evaporate if the public knew that antipsychotics have been shown to shrink the brain, and that studies have found that long-term use of these drugs may impair recovery. That is knowledge that comes from research by Nancy Andreasen, the former editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, and from numerous others, including the NIMH-funded study by Martin Harrow. But American psychiatry and the NIMH have never publicized those findings to the American public, and the result is that we, as a society, are deluded about the merits of antipsychotics. It is that delusion that makes passage of the Murphy Bill possible.
Without a medical rationale, the moral context for court-ordered treatment is this: The state is asserting a right to alter people for its own benefit. The desires of the state trump the person’s individual rights. Indeed, mandated treatment ultimately says to a person: you do not have the right to remain in our society as you are, and even though you may not have committed a crime, society has the legal right to change who you are. Antipsychotics, of course, are designed to alter how a person thinks and experiences the world, and thus court-ordered treatment is asserting state authority over an individual’s mind and body.
We wish that all members of Congress would re-read the opening lines to the Declaration of Independence before voting on the Murphy bill. They would be reminded of how our Founding Fathers declared that all men are endowed by their creator with certain “unalienable Rights,” which include “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” and thus understand that any law that ordered a person, against his or her will, to take an antipsychotic was profoundly un-American.
The other purported rationale for court-ordered treatment, beyond that of providing a person with helpful medical treatment, is that it will reduce the risk that a “mentally ill” person will commit an act of violence. Assisted outpatient treatment will keep society safe. Now let us put aside the question of whether outpatient commitment laws can be expected to actually achieve that end. The more pertinent point is this: Our Constitution doesn’t allow for locking people up based on the thought that they may be likely to commit a crime in the future. Yet, ordering a person to take an antipsychotic, which is in fact expected to act as a restraint on behavior, is akin to doing just that.
The great sin in American history, of course, is that our society for so long denied the liberty and basic rights of black Americans. First slavery, and then nearly a century of Jim Crow laws. It took the United States nearly two hundred years to enact a law that was designed to protect the civil rights of all Americans. Congress should think of that history as it ponders Murphy’s bill. (more…)
In his latest paper, Martin Harrow focuses psychiatry’s attention on a very specific question: Do antipsychotic drugs provide a long-term benefit as a treatment for psychotic symptoms? His findings are consistent with a larger body of evidence that all point to the same conclusion, which is that antipsychotics fail that efficacy test. And thus, I think it is fair to say that on this issue, the Fat Lady Has Sung, Psychiatry needs to rethink its use of these drugs.
Psychologist Laura Kerr, Ph.D., writes about the role of attachment theory as an antidote to the “emotionally detached, analytic approach to relationship” that has defined much of psychotherapy. (more…)
Martin Harrow along with his colleagues T.H. Jobe and R. N. Faull has published another paper on the long term outcome of people who experienced a psychotic episode. Funded by a grant from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, this paper adds to our knowledge of an extremely important and valuable study. Full Article →
In my last post here I gave a detailed analysis of the Human Rights Committee’s recommendation to the United States to “generally” prohibit nonconsensual psychiatric interventions. I might not have been sufficiently clear about how I see the international human rights standards and the value of standards that we don’t agree with but that are higher than existing U.S. law and practice. Full Article →
The Human Rights Committee, a UN committee of experts that monitors the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has issued a recommendation that the United States “generally” prohibit non-consensual psychiatric treatment, while going on to set out criteria for when “it may be applied, if at all.” It did not meet our expectations but marks progress. Keep our eyes on the prize: Use the recommendation to argue against any backsliding initiatives such as the Murphy Bill and the federal funding for outpatient commitment that has just passed the House in a bill on Medicare. Full Article →
An important new research paper was published this week on the topic of antidepressant use during pregnancy and preterm birth. The issue is a crucial one as preterm birth (i.e. birth at less than 37 weeks gestational age) is one of the most challenging problems facing the obstetrical community today. Rates of preterm birth have been increasing over the past two decades. Babies born early have increased risks of morbidity and mortality. At the same time, rates of antidepressant use during pregnancy have increased dramatically. Full Article →
I recently read an article by Fredric Neuman, MD, titled The Use of the Minor Tranquilizers: Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, and Valium. Dr. Neuman opens by telling us that benzodiazepines are “Very commonly prescribed for any sort of discomfort . . . They are called anxiolytics, and they are prescribed for any level of anxiety and more or less to anyone who asks for them.” Dr. Neuman has been working at the Anxiety and Phobia Center for 41 years, first as Associate Director and then as Director. So when he says that benzos are routinely given to “anyone who asks for them,” it’s probably safe to say that he’s being accurate. Full Article →
A detailed meta-analysis of the published research on women taking antidepressants during pregnancy finds that the rate of preterm birth is nearly doubled in the third trimester. In a comprehensive, systematic review the authors found that an overwhelming majority of studies (39 of the 41) showed increased rates of preterm birth in the antidepressant group, including when controlling for underlying depression.
Dr Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, recently published a book called: “Killing Us Softly: The sense and nonsense of alternative medicine.” It also goes under the title: “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine” The book presents some evidence on alternative medicines like homeopathy, Chinese herbs, chiropractic adjustments and, of greatest interest to us, the evidence for and against nutrient supplements for the treatment of illness. Full Article →
On March 5, Bruce Levine, PhD, published an interesting article on Mad in America titled Psychiatry Now Admits It’s Been Wrong in Big Ways – But Can It Change? Bruce had interviewed Robert Whitaker, and notes that Robert, in his book Mad in America, had challenged some fundamental tenets of psychiatry, including the validity of its “diagnoses” and the efficacy (especially the long-term efficacy) of its treatments. Bruce reminds us that Robert initially incurred a good deal of psychiatric wrath in this regard, but also points out that some members of the psychiatric establishment are beginning to express a measure of agreement with these deviations from long-held psychiatric orthodoxy. Full Article →
When police came to enforce a 2011 court order to remove her 13-year-old daughter Arianna, and medicate her, Maryann Golboldo stood her ground – for eight hours, and fired a shot into her ceiling – rather than allow her daughter to be medicated with Risperdal again. Goldboldo claimed the drug had caused her daughter to be “horribly ill . . . aggressive and violent.” An appeals court judge has dropped all charges against Goldboro, and given her custody of her daughter. ”This court finds that the defendant in fact did use reasonable force in this case . . . to prevent the removal of her child by the Detroit police,”
One of the roadblocks to recovery for those who suffer from depression is our culture’s tendency to stigmatize depression and other mental health disorders. After my first hospitalization, I remember the dilemma I faced in trying to explain my three-day absence to my employer. If I told the truth—that I was being treated for anxiety and depression—I stood a good chance of losing my job. Instead, I reported that I had been treated for insomnia at a sleep clinic. In another instance, a client of mine who worked as a nurse was petrified of telling her colleagues that she dealt with depression, but when she shared her diagnosis of cancer, they showered her with with love and support. Full Article →