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 …
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Say ‘No’ to the Fiction of Brain Diseases: Towards a New Psychiatry

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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Do the Math

Being a woman of a certain age, I dutifully went in for a “routine” colonoscopy a few weeks ago. My doctor came to see me before the procedure. She spent about 5 minutes reviewing the procedure and asked me to sign the consent form. I was in the procedure room for about 10 minutes and then we were done. A few days ago, I got the bill. It got me to wondering about the reimbursement for the work I do.
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120 Options To Try Before Psychiatric Drugs

A lot of people say psychiatric drugs are a last resort, or that everything else should be tried first. Even many doctors claim psychiatric drugs should only be a last resort if all other options have been exhausted. Really?  Are …
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When Asylums Are the Only Hammer, Everybody Looks Like a Nail

Emergency Rooms have become the triaged door to mental health care. Even without so many walk-ins, doctors and health care workers agree that the ER may be good for heart attacks and gun shot wounds, but not for delusions, extreme agitation or despair. But if all you have is an Asylum Fix, then every worried or grieving or traumatized or elated individual looks like he or she needs long-term care. Here are 10 alternatives to crisis and misery.
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Peer Supports Under Siege:
A Call for Help and Solidarity
(And how this affects you, too)

We need all of our voices to come together to challenge that sort of power in order to have any sort of hope at all. To the best of my knowledge, the majority of people who hang around these ‘Mad in America’ parts are particularly interested in prioritizing, promoting, and creating access to (true) alternatives, including those built upon peer-to-peer supports. But, whenever one of us falls, it becomes that much easier to knock the next one down. We need more examples to point to, not less; more places to reference and say, “If they can do it, why can’t we?”; more places to call upon and say, “If you don’t believe us, how about them… or them… or them?”
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A Disease Called Childhood

When I started my practice as a child therapist in 1988, I had barely heard of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. The diagnosis had arrived on the scene a year earlier, in the revised third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders (DSM-III-R). Despite its codification in the DSM, at the time ADHD was not widely discussed among child therapists, let alone parents, teachers and pediatricians. Until the middle of the 1990’s, not one mother or father asked me if their child had ADD or ADHD. By 2012, things had radically changed.
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Immune Response is Secondary to Trauma

Mad in America has featured an article about inflammation and the immune response in the Lancet. It’s great that these things are being studied, but as usual it’s done from a dangerously reductionistic perspective. We must broaden our lenses if we hope to profoundly help people. Again, my favorite meme: everything matters.
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Psychiatric Survivor Entrepreneurs

Many psychiatric survivors have created a gift economy of sorts in offering peer support, and this is by no means to criticize those offering their best guidance freely to those who desperately need it. In fact, the gift economy saved my life when it was threatened by psychiatric drugs. Yet, my entrepreneurial spirit, as chaotic and unsophisticated as it has been at times, has played a huge role in saving me from being a chronic mental patient with a chronic identity of “sick” or “failure” or “other”.
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Mourning: Death, Loss, Trauma, & Psychotherapy – The Universal Agent for Recovery and Change

There are no set rules for grief. It takes however long it takes, sometimes years, sometimes more. Grieving operates on its own time. The very idea that the DSM-5 gives a two-week grace period before diagnosing a ‘biological depression’ is obscene on the face of it, never mind the handing out of Prozac. Other psychiatrists would like to push the window all the way to three or even four weeks. How compassionate. There is no place for antidepressants, ever
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Why We Must Strike the Terms “High Functioning” and “Low Functioning” from Our Vocabulary 

As I have various discussions about mental health and disability on the internet, I am disturbed at how many people continue to use the terms “high functioning” and “low functioning” when referring to people with psychiatric or other disabilities. I have heard people refer to their family members as “low functioning.” I have seen these terms used by advocates to bully and discredit other advocates who critique calls for increased levels of involuntary treatment as “high functioning” individuals who don’t know what they’re talking about.
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Antidepressant Drugs & Suicide Rates

In 2010, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica published a study by Göran Isacsson et al.  The paper was titled Antidepressant medication prevents suicide in depression. It’s a complicated article, with some tenuous logic, but, in any event, it’s all moot, because the article was retracted by the authors and by Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica about sixteen months after publication.  The retraction had been requested by the authors because of “… unintentional errors in the analysis of the data …”
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All About the Word:
Language, Choice & That Damn Dress

That damn dress. It’s everywhere. And, just as much as anyone, I’ve gotten sucked into staring at the computer screen for way too long from all dress different angles, and relentlessly reading all the articles that have popped up to explain the phenomenon involved. Essentially: having a word for something plays a substantial role in allowing one to see what that word represents. What do you see because of the words that you know? What are you missing?
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