On his Critical Psychiatry blog, Duncan Double offers his response to Peter Gøtzsche’s and Peter Breggin’s latest blogs on forced treatment. “They want to abolish all forced intervention in psychiatry. Here I do not agree. Society does expect psychiatry to manage madness on its behalf. However much informal and voluntary interventions, including psychotherapy, may have developed since the origins of psychiatry with the asylums in the 19th century, they have not completely replaced the need for compulsory detention.”
The news media frequently write stories that connect mental health issues with violence, according to a new study published this month in Health Affairs. After analyzing a sample of 400 news stories about ‘mental illness’ written between 1995 and 2014, researchers found that the increasing emphasis on violence and mass shootings were “highly disproportionate to actual rates of violence” among those with mental health issues. This gap between what gets represented in the news and what occurs, in reality, may fuel stigma and decrease support for recovery-oriented mental health treatments and policies.
On Wednesday, May 18th, Daniels had what was probably his 102nd consecutive episode of ECT. As always, he told the staff that he did not want it and did not consent to it; as always, he got it. Later on the next afternoon, Garth left to join his family in Brisbane. None of us have a crystal ball but his position now seems much better than at any stage in the past. Let’s look at some of the facts and opinions surrounding this case.
If you’ve read recent reports that state “US suicide rates surge to a 30 year high,” you might first justify the reality with the fact that things feel very wrong in our world today. On a personal, national, and planetary level, people are suffering to survive and the distress is coming from all sides – medical to economic to existential. But you probably also wonder why more people are choosing this permanent and self-destructive path, and feel compelled to submit to seemingly logical appeals to provide these individuals more help and greater access to treatment. Surprise: that may be the last thing our population of hopeless and helpless needs. Life’s inevitable challenges are not the problem. It’s the drugs we use that are fueling suicide.
This narrative of who matters in society and how we convince everyone that certain people don’t count (including, sometimes, those people themselves) should be a familiar one to all of us who’ve been touched by the psychiatric system in some way. But we don’t talk nearly enough about how one interlocks with the other. For example, how do these attitudes about girls and women and their bodies serve as a sort of preparatory ‘class’ for the systems that will bind them just a little further down the road?
“In Nunatsiavut, climate change is already a terrible reality, and it’s taking a heavy toll on mental health,” Ellie Robins reports for the influence. “In Nunatsiavut, land is once again being taken from communities that have lived on it for thousands of years. This time, it’s not being snatched by colonialists. Instead, it’s changing, disappearing, possibly becoming uninhabitable as a result of the behaviors of other, richer people, elsewhere.”
In a new article for Scientific American, Diana Kwon reports on how the true risks for suicide and aggression in children and teens taking antidepressants have been suppressed by drug companies. “Taken together with other research—including studies that suggest antidepressants are only marginally better than placebos—some experts say it is time to reevaluate the widespread use of these drugs.”
The Irish Examiner reports on research by Yolande Lucire connecting antidepressant-induced akathisia to violent episodes. The research concludes that the “medicalisation of common human distress” has resulted in a very large number of people getting medication that may do more harm than good by causing “suicides and homicides and the mental states that lead up to them”.
When the CDC released data revealing an increasing suicide rate in the US, some experts, speaking to major media outlets, speculated that the increase could be tied to the FDA’s Black Box warning for teen suicides on antidepressants. It was suggested that the warnings may discourage some from taking antidepressants and that these drugs may prevent suicides. The research, however, does not appear to support these claims. A new review of studies on the role of antidepressants in suicide, published this month in the journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, concludes that there is no evidence that antidepressants prevent suicide and that the research may even suggest that the drugs increase the risk.
In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined being drawn into a story of intrigue involving my own government’s efforts to hide, from the public, reports of psychiatric drugs associated with cases of murder, including homicides committed by youth on the drugs. But that is precisely the intrigue I now find myself enmeshed in.
This week’s issue of the New Yorker examines the treatment of people diagnosed with mental health issues in Florida’s prisons. The horrifying stories of prisoners tortured, killed by guards, and driven to suicide while staff looked away reached the public only through the work of investigators and whistleblowers.
Multiple media sources are reporting on new data from the CDC revealing a substantial increase in the suicide rate in the United States between 1999 and 2014, with a steep increase in rates among girls and women. Few report, however, that the percentage of Americans on antidepressants has nearly doubled over this period.
The medication left me emotionally numb, making it impossible to connect with people or sense the aliveness of the world around me. But after two years on antidepressants, I found something that gave me jolt of feeling strong enough to wake me up for a moment. I then spent the next seven years giving myself daily doses of horror to induce an emotional reaction.
New research published in JAMA Pediatrics reveals that transgender women have more than double the prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses than the general US population. The study found that the women, who had been assigned male at birth and now identified as female, had a high prevalence of suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, generalized anxiety and major depressive disorder.
It is time to create an entirely voluntary psychiatric system. International conscience is clear. The singling out of people with psychosocial disabilities is not worthy of a free society. There are better, safer ways to address legitimate public needs.
Reporting from Elizabeth Rosenthal at the New York Times reveals that more and more hospital guards are now carrying weapons. For patients in mental distress, like Alan Pean, this can have serious consequences.
"There's a growing awareness that alternatives to law enforcement are needed, that alternatives to emergency medical services are needed. There's a lot of people having problems related to psychiatric problems and addiction based problems and poverty problems, that end up getting addressed by the police but may be appropriately addressed by another resource," said CAHOOTS team member Brenton Gicker.
The case of “Beth” depicts, almost innocently, the trials and tribulations of a well-adjusted, talented 15-year-old who developed depression, paranoia, panic attacks, and self-injurious and homicidal behavior, and “bipolar disorder” after being prescribed antidepressants, and then antipsychotics. After Beth decided – on her own – to discontinue psychotropic medications in favor of hormone therapy, she remained free of psychiatric symptoms.
Government whistleblower and journalist Linda Leisure was diagnosed with a mood disorder and forcibly treated after an altercation with local police, according to Katherine Hine for the Columbus Free Press. “They said I was depressed and delusional and put me on drugs. But I was neither,” Leisure said.
When the idea that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might make people feel suicidal first started to be discussed, I admit I was sceptical. It didn’t seem to me the drugs had much effect at all, and I couldn’t understand how a chemical substance could produce a specific thought. Because these effects did not show up in randomised controlled trials, they were dismissed and few efforts were made to study them properly. Then some large meta-analyses started to find an association between the use of modern antidepressants and suicidal thoughts and actions, especially in children.
Rethinking Psychiatry is an independent, grassroots group in Portland, Oregon that advocates for a paradigm shift in mental health care. On January 20, we hosted a film and discussion by activist and artist Barbara Ford. The subject was “Despair and Resilience: How to Face this Mess We’re in Without Giving Up.” Ford also showed film called Joanna Macy and the Great Turning, featuring philosopher, writer, and activist Joanna Macy.
The largest-ever meta-analysis of antidepressant trials appeared yesterday in the British Medical Journal. Researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed 70 trials (involving 18,526 subjects), to find that - counter to the initially-reported findings - antidepressants doubled the risk of suicide and aggression in subjects under 18. This risk had been misrepresented in the original study reports, the authors say, and suggest that the risks to adults may be similarly under-reported.
Only months after the American Psychological Association voted to ban psychologists from “advanced interrogation” facilities like Guantánamo Bay prison the Pentagon is asking them to reconsider, James Risen reports in the ‘Times. Steven Reisner and Stephen Soldz, who led the campaign to end the APA’s involvement in torture, say that those criticizing the ban ignore “a wealth of evidence that systemic military interrogation abuses continued long after the time when the authors claimed they were banned.”
The Grand Jury indictment on January 21st of a Georgia policeman for the felony murder of Anthony Hill brought national attention to the intersection of Black Pride and Mad Pride. Hill, who was black and a veteran, was murdered in March 2015 while in an extreme state or “mental health crisis.” He was naked and clearly unarmed when shot by a white policeman. The indictment brings attention to the failure of mental health care system in America.
Wendy Dolin sued GSK after her husband committed suicide after taking a generic version of Paxil. The US District Court has declined GSK’s motions for summary judgement and the case will now stand trial.
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