Author and clinical psychologist Bruce Levine discusses society’s relationship to drugs, psychiatry’s increasing credibility issue, and the cultural response to incidents of mass violence. Levine writes and speaks widely on how society, culture, politics and psychology intersect. His latest book is “Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite” (2011). He is a regular contributor to Salon, CounterPunch, AlterNet, Truthout, TakePart, Z Magazine, OpEdNews, and the Huffington Post. His articles and interviews have been published in the New York Times, Skeptic, Adbusters, The Ecologist, High Times, and numerous other magazines. Dr. Levine is a member of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, the International Society for Ethical Psychology & Psychiatry, and MindFreedom. This is the latest interview featured on MadInAmerica.com produced by Open Paradigm Project. (more…)
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 →
Slate magazine chalks up one for the argument that “Mentally ill people aren’t killers. Angry people are . . . Violence is not a product of mental illness; violence is a product of anger. When we cannot modulate anger, it will control our behavior.”
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 →
Representative Tim Murphy is a psychologist who proposes unsatisfactory solutions to our most pressing social problems. In a “shockingly regressive” piece of legislation known as the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013” (H.R. 3717), he proposes to expand the highly controversial practice of Involuntary Outpatient Committment (IOC) for persons with serious mental illnesses. But that approach is not the answer, as documented in a fact sheet authored by the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery: Full Article →
In testimony to a Senate panel yesterday Secretary of the Army John McHugh said of Specialist Ivan Lopez, who killed three people and himself and wounded 16 others at Fort Hood on Wednesday, “He had a clean record . . . No outstanding bad marks for any kinds of major misbehaviors that we’re yet aware of.” According to reports, Lopez was in treatment, including antidepressants and sleep medication, for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Discuss →
As I walked alone up the stairs to the Rayburn House Office Building this morning to attend the hearing of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on H.R. 3717 – the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act – I thought about how I wasn’t truly alone. In spirit with me were all the people who had experienced scary, coercive, and dehumanizing interventions in the name of help. In spirit with me was every mental health provider who went into the field hoping to really make a difference in their communities, but became cynical and discouraged in the face of so many broken systems and broken spirits. Full Article →
HR 3717, authored by Congressman Tim Murphy, has been introduced in response to mounting concerns about the treatment of persons with mental health challenges. It is universally recognized that improvements are needed in the mental health system. Unfortunately, HR 3717 will have serious unintended consequences. Full Article →
Specialist Ivan Lopez, who is accused of killing three people and wounding 16 others at Ford Hood army base yesterday, had been examined by a psychiatrist within the past month and was in treatment for depression and PTSD. Lopez had been prescribed Ambien and was taking other medications to treat anxiety and depression, according to articles in the New York Times, USA Today, ABC News, CNN, and the Washington Post. Discuss →
The Bay Area survivor and peer movement came out strong recently, pushing the Alameda Board of Supervisors to table a proposed expansion of forced outpatient commitment. AB 1421, more commonly known as Laura’s Law, says that if a court or judge decides that a person with mental health issues requires treatment, they must abide by a plan determined by a team of professionals on an outpatient basis. The law was passed in California in 2002 but is conditional on California county approval for implementation. Fueled by sensational accounts of the death of Laura Wilcox, who was killed by a man with a psychiatric diagnosis, AB 1421 holds the false promise that force and coercion are the solution to help people in emotional distress. Full Article →
People, in general, are afraid when other people act with hostility. This is a natural human instinct, of course. However, meeting people in crisis by returning fear and violence will often backfire. Finding a way to connect can instead be healing for everyone involved. Full Article →
A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research finds the strongest association between a history of childhood trauma and the risk of violence in adults with psychotic disorders is for people with a history of sexual abuse. A cumulative effect of trauma in general on risk for violence in psychosis was also found. “There are implications for applying models of violence to psychosis, risk assessment and treatment of people with psychotic disorders as well as informing trauma models and protective factors for children in conflict-affected regions,” the study concludes.
Furthering findings that social adversity and urbanicity increase the risk of psychosis, research in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry finds that moving schools, family adversity, and involvement with bullying are linked to a significantly greater risk of psychotic-like experiences in early adolescence. The authors recommend awareness of school changes, helping mobile students establish themselves in new school environments in order to reduce peer difficulties, and routine enquiry regarding bullying experiences in order to reduce psychotic-like experiences in youth.
Connecticut continues to block public access to information on homicide investigations, according to the Connecticut News Times, an effort that began with concerns over the shooting in Sandy Hook by Adam Lanza in December of 2012. Such disclosure would “cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications,” said CT Assistant Attorney General Patrick B. Kwanashie, speaking at a Freedom of Information Act hearing called by Ablechild last year.
Although extensive research links spanking to behavior problems, parents who spank often believe it is the way to be an effective parent. Research from Southern Methodist University finds that very brief summaries of the research, significantly decreased parents’ positive attitudes toward corporal punishment. To the researchers’ surprise, the effect was the same whether the information was presented within and active learning paradigm, or presented passively. Results appeared in Child Abuse & Neglect.
In 2009, my friend Leonie’s 22-year-old son Shane killed himself and another young man after taking Citalopram for 17 days. Eighteen days after Shane’s death, Psychiatrist Dr Michael Corry publicly stated his view that he could not have done what he did had he not been on Citalopram. Initially Leonie admits to thinking he was mad. How could medicine prescribed by a doctor have anything to do with what had happened to her son? Full Article →
60 Minutes‘ Scott Pelley investigates the lack of crisis- or long-term care for people facing serious mental health challenges, as seen through the eyes of Senator Craig Deeds. Deeds’ son Gus stabbed him several times before committing suicide.” The vast majority of mental patients are not violent,” Pelley says, “But this is a story about the fraction who are a danger to themselves or others.”
Utah judge Robert Dale is allowing the defense of David Edward Drummond, Jr., who is serving a life sentence for shooting his wife in 2005, to investigate whether Drommond had suffered adverse effects from the antidepressant Effexor. Defense attorney Scott Wiggins argued that Drommond’s trial attorney provided “ineffective counsel” when he did not “investigate and present expert testimony regarding the possible effects of Effexor” on Drommond.
A study of 1,128 adults drawn from Canada’s National Population Health Survey finds that more than three quarters (77%) recovered from depression in 2 years, and nearly all (94%) had recovered by 12 years. However, a history of adverse childhood experiences predicted a longer time to remission. The study appears in January’s Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
John Grohol of PsychCentral explains why, while “some well-meaning folks believe that all we need is ‘better mental health treatment,’ and suddenly we will no longer see school shootings or mass murders . . . it will make little difference for these rare mass shooting events.”
Paul Woodward of Beyond Meds critiques the Washington Post‘s report on the reduction of gun control, and increase in mental health-care budgets, following Sandy Hook. ”It’s not that pharma has a natural alignment with the opponents of gun control, yet what the NRA and its supporters have succeeded in doing in the wake of Newtown is to shift the debate away from gun control onto mental health — a shift which clearly serves the interests of the drug industry,” Woodward writes.
Ashley Smith was a very troubled and rebellious teenager. By the time she was 13, she was getting into trouble in school. On one occasion, Ashley was charged with the crime – actually a childish prank – of “throwing crabapples at a postal worker.” Ashley was convicted and sentenced to detention in New Brunswick Youth Centre. Prison psychologists and psychiatrists labeled her defiant behavior a “mental health issue”; a thinly disguised term for “mental illness.” There is no record of any detention or prison staff or health professional trying to understand Ashley’s resistance to authority as youth rebellion. Full Article →
Force in ‘mental health’ care has been a popular topic for decades now, yet it’s scary how similar the conversation remains. Jonathan Keyes’s recent blog certainly generated quite a bit of commentary caught between conflict and assimilation, and the very mention of the infamous Treatment Advocacy Center gets many of us boiling over. Yet, the conversation has also seemingly lost its way. Theres a vastness between what we think we are demanding and what is actually being conveyed that can sometimes feel impenetrable. Often, I’m not sure we’re really even engaged in the same conversation, as much as we superficially may appear to be. I’ve said many things, but I’ll summarize with the following statement: “If you’re going to force it, you better make sure that what you’re forcing works.” The facts of the matter are that forced treatment – and particularly forced drugging – simply doesn’t work. Full Article →
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 →