Under Canada’s Mental Health Act (MHA), police respond to anonymous calls expressing concern about a person’s mental health, often leading to that person’s detainment without a lawyer. This is the story of Gordon Stewart, whose struggles with Canada’s tax service provides “a seminal example of how MHA apprehensions can be easily prompted and steered by anger, fear, gossip, incomplete facts, falsehoods, and highly subjective interpretations— making the MHA a dangerous interpersonal weapon.”
I do not claim to know how to heal the wounds from the tragedy that occurred in Newtown on December 14th, 2012. Nor do I claim to know how to prevent future tragedies of this sort. The intent of this post is to oppose ineffective and inhumane practices, prompted by reactions to the events in Newtown and other communities, that are falsely thought to be effective. Full Article →
In the last five years, 544 suicides and 1,869 attempted suicides have been reported in connection with the anti-smoking drug Chantix, according to documents obtained from the FDA by the Al Jazeera show “America Tonight” under the Freedom of Information Act. According to Al Jazeera, Chantix is responsible for more adverse events than any other drug on the market, including suicidal behaviors, depression, psychosis, aggression, seizures, blackouts, temporary blindness, and blurry vision. The FAA, Defense Department, and the military have all banned the drug for critical personnel.
On October 1st the Connecticut State Legislature’s reactionary response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school went into effect. Public Act No. 13-3 requires all people that voluntarily admit to a hospital for mental health reasons (not solely for drug or alcohol treatment) have their names placed in a database administered by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services – for the purpose of automatic suspension of Second Amendment rights. Full Article →
Phil Hickey of Behaviorism and Mental Health picks apart 60 Minutes‘ segment interviewing E. Fuller Torrey (Untreated mental illness an imminent danger?), and APA President Jeffrey Lieberman’s glowing review of the segment (“… such a good job dealing with a complex and controversial topic.”) Hickey concludes “In fact, they did an extraordinarily biased and one-sided job. Perhaps the most fundamental issue in this regard is the notion that the condition labeled schizophrenia is a brain disease. There is a growing and convincing body of opinion (and research) that challenges this view.”
It is no mystery why everyone at the McNair Discovery Learning Center is alive today. Antoinette Tuff was respectful, responsive and kind to a man with a gun. She shared her own difficulties and offered her own humanity. This kind of “Tuff Love” involves real risk, but not more risk. It reaches across vast expanses of human confusion and distress – not to manage, control or subdue – but to attempt connection and offer a lifeline back to humanity. It is the public safety work of the future. Full Article →
“This case does not make sense in the normal sense,” Assistant Prosecutor Doug Newton told jurors in the trial of Michael Hamilton for murder. There were no drugs, women, money, jealousy, or a physical fight before the shooting. “He was smiling at me as he pulled the trigger,” the surviving brother of twins said. The defense argues that Hamilton was involuntarily intoxicated by Adderall, which includes hallucinations and unusual behavior in its list of side-effects, and thus temporarily insane.
The recent incident in the grounds of Washington Capitol, involving a young educated woman, brought shock to many people. It was another opportunity to blame a victim of mental illness and demand further restraint and medical attention for such individuals. Yes, we are lacking dignified, caring, discerning and attentive treatment for those whose spirits are broken. But we certainly don’t suffer from a lack of medical treatment for such individuals. It is time for policy-holders, and our scientific community to ask the ‘heretical’ question; “Could the drugs be the culprit behind the violence?” Full Article →
Miriam Carey, who was shot and killed yesterday by D.C. police after she attempted to drive through a White House barricade with her 1-year-old child in the back seat, had antidepressant medication and antipsychotics in her apartment. The drugs were apparently for the treatment of postpartum depression. Relatives and co-workers, stunned by Carey’s behavior, describe her as having no history of violence, and as “always happy.”
We are seeing an increasing cycle of high-profile media stories linking an act of random multiple shooting to an allegation that the perpetrator is “mentally ill.” We have to understand that it is nothing more than a libel. It cannot be debated rationally, and every time we have tried to point out the the absence of evidence for a statistical linkage, these rational arguments have no effect; instead they almost seem to add fuel to the fire. I want to point out something about how profiling works and why it is always wrong. Full Article →
Representative Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is looking into the role psychiatric medication may have played in the shootings at the Navy Yard that left 12 people and the shooter, Aaron Alexis, dead. “Interestingly enough, one of the medications that (Alexis) received does have a side effect that could in fact have been a problem,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, told radio station WTOP. “We’re asking the VA for a little more information as to what they prescribed, why they prescribed it, how much was prescribed.”
The Office of the Attorney General of Connecticut is resisting the release of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza’s medical records. “It is alarming that here we are very close to a year later and the public still remains in the dark, records are still sealed, and the State is now saying that it is opposing a release of the records because those records ‘can cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications’” says Patricia Weathers of Ablechild, a parents’ rights organization that is suing the CT Chief Medical Examiner for the information.
In 1995 I had a very frightening experience that I have never discussed publicly before. At that time the main symptoms I was experiencing were frequent panic attacks. My psychiatrist at that time had the perfect solution: an SSRI antidepressant. … Full Article →
In a prospective cohort study of 1,112 school-based adolescents, a study by researchers from Ireland, the U.S., Sweden and Italy found that the presence of childhood trauma (physical assault and bullying) predicted psychotic experiences. The study also found what it refers to as “the first direct evidence that cessation of traumatic experiences leads to a reduced incidence of psychotic experiences.” Results appear in July’s American Journal of Psychiatry.
I first learned about the significance of our country’s Bill of Rights around the same time I started on my first doses of SSRIs for depression and suicidal feelings. At the same time I was learning in school about the “inalienable” freedoms to which citizens of the United States are entitled, I was learning in a psychiatrist’s office about how I might be a “danger” to myself and lose some of these freedoms “for my own good.” I don’t claim that I was conscious of the contradictions at the age of 13 or 14, but the significance is not lost on me now. Full Article →
Based on a psychiatrist’s recommendation that the effects of citalopram (Celexa) had contributed to a 61 year-old grandmother’s lethal bludgeoning of her friend of over 20 years as they had tea, the High Court in Edinburgh accepted a reduced plea of ‘culpable homicide.’ The psychiatrist indicated that she had been prescribed a dosage “far in excess of what she should have been prescribed.”
The Brattleboro Reformer, citing intense public concern after a county-wide security alert regarding an “autistic” man’s release from involuntary detention, obtained the court transcript in which the judge “concluded that ‘the lapse in judgment’ by the subject in making the threatening statements was not connected to any major mental illness… one of the biggest problems in the State’s case is actually demonstrating from the time (the man) was held against his will… any behavior that really is consistent with an impulse to act on the statements that were so concerning… ”
Since mid-March, NY has required mental health treatment providers to report when a patient is a potential danger to himself or others. But professionals who must participate in the process say it was hastily designed and broadly written. “When someone drops a whole new set of rules out of the sky, and there isn’t a whole lot of time to discuss them or consider them or appreciate the many dimensions that may be played out in this, it becomes really entangling,” said the chairman of the psychiatry department at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “You trip up on a lot of stuff.”
A North Carolina study of 1,420 participants finds higher rates of agoraphobia (4.6x), generalized anxiety disorder (2.7x), and panic disorder (3.1x) among victims of bullying. Among those who had been both bullies and victims, the study found higher rates of depression (4.8x), panic disorder (14.5x), agoraphobia (26.7x) and suicidality (18.5x) in both childhood and young adulthood. Results appeared in JAMA Psychiatry.
Research by California’s Stanford University on Sweden’s entire adult population from the years 2001 to 2008 finds that a mental disorder was associated with a 5x greater risk of homicidal death, relative to persons without mental disorders, and irrespective of age, sex, or other characteristics. The research was published this week in the British Medical Journal.
Legislation intended “to ensure that those who have been declared an imminent danger to themselves or others aren’t legally able to obtain a firearm” was introduced yesterday by a bipartisan group of senators, lead by South Carolina republican Lindsay Graham. The bill, written with help from the N.R.A., would prevent persons involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, or declared incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case, or found not guilty by reason of insanity, from buying guns.
Many of us in the consumer/survivor movement have begun to worry that recovery is being co-opted. That it is being used too easily, and has lost its meaning. I think we live in bubble. Outside our world, the larger society has not even heard that recovery is possible. In fact, society hears a constant litany, through major media, that emotional distress is due to chemical imbalance. Today young people are told they will never recover, and should accept that they have a life long illness. Full Article →