The suggestion embedded in this article’s title seems counter-intuitive. How could the tide be turning on psychiatry when the institution has never been so strong? And indeed indicators of its growing strength and tenacity are all around us. The exporting of its model to the global south via the World Bank, the emergence of outpatient committal, the explosion of funding for psychiatric research. Daily are there calls for most aggressive “detection” and “treatment.” And the mainstream press has never been more closed to truly foundational critiques. That acknowledged, let me suggest that such intensification is common when an old system is in the early days of crumbling.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve read two articles in which the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is described as being the “largest organization representing people living with serious mental illness.” Putting aside (for the moment) my issues with the use of blanket ‘mental illness’ terminology; since exactly when did they become a group that represents people who have been so labeled in any genuine sort of way? Until our voices are seen as having equal value and are given equal space, those that do not understand and lack insight into our experiences (whether they possess good intent or not) will continue to be the ones to define our past, present and future in the public eye.
In addition to hosting the Panorama programs and The Famous Grouse history of Study 329, Study329.org has a comprehensive timeline on the origins of concerns about the SSRIs and the risk of suicide, initially with Prozac and subsequently with Paxil/Seroxat. The hope is to provide a comprehensive repository for anyone who wants to study SSRIs, RCTs, and Study 329 in particular.
"CNN's Carol Costello explores Operation Tohidu, an experimental rehabilitation program to help veterans with PTSD." Operation Tohidu founder, Dr. Mary Vieten claims PTSD is not a mental illness and "there is no reason to medicate someone who has been traumatized by their war experience." When asked what percentage of soldiers returning with PTSD do not need drugs, she responds, "100%."
There was a lot said, shouted, chanted and sung about the rights of individuals (such as myself) who have mental health conditions at the March for Mental Health Dignity on the National Mall on August 24. The march—which was sponsored and supported by a list of advocacy organizations as long as your arm—had two basic demands: changes in policies that obstruct recovery from mental health conditions, and changes in society’s treatment of individuals who have such conditions.
MedPageToday reports that Janssen Pharmaceuticals omitted data from a 2003 study that connected Risperdal with serious side effects. Earlier this year, a man with autism was awarded $2.5 million after growing breasts while on Risperdal. According to MedPage, documents from this latest case reveal missing data tables from a 2003 study “designed to ferret out potential adverse effects of long-term risperidone use.” The missing tables were related to elevated prolactin levels and side effects, including gynecomastia in men.
Parents Opposed to Pot, a group opposed to the legalization of marijuana, criticizes a recent University of Pittsburgh study which found no correlation between pot use and mental health. They contest the results and insist that since the long-term study began in 1987, “skunk” or high THC pot has been on the rise.
An editorial in the Guardian discusses the fact that the number of people with intellectual or learning disabilities “who are being treated with psychotropic drugs far exceeds those with mental illness.” The authors of a new study examining the overuse of psychotropic drugs on people with learning disabilities, published this month in BMJ, argue: “If people without mental illness are given psychotropic drugs… it is probably to control their behavior.”
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