Launching the Beyond ‘Anatomy’ Forum

Laura Delano
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When I first read Anatomy of an Epidemic in 2010, something inside of me ignited.  I had no idea that such a sensation was possible to experience, let alone for someone like me, who hadn’t felt alive in a long, long time; who hadn’t felt hope in years; who hadn’t felt human, like everyone else around her, since becoming “bipolar” a decade earlier and conceding that I needed to take psychiatric drugs, likely for the rest of my life, at my doctor’s request.

In an instant, my eyes saw the world, and more importantly, my place in it, through a profoundly different lens.  My thoughts were suddenly centered around a feeling that was foreign, yet vaguely familiar, as though I might have felt it once, as a child, or in a dream— the drive to take action.  I was suddenly investigating, challenging, and questioning the way I’d come to think about my Self, connecting to a sense of purpose and determination that came from a place deep within me.  Years of stagnancy were gone in the snap of a finger, and I was moving forward— to where, I did not know— and coming into a new awareness of myself that was the beginning of what I see today as my full recovery from psychiatry— from psychiatric labels, psychiatric drugs, and psychiatric “treatment”.  It was powerful, beautiful, scary, and the turning point of my life.

I’m sure that many of you out there can relate to this, upon having read Anatomy.  The words I write here just don’t do justice to the experience, which I see as nothing less than a rebirth, an awakening, and an enlightenment.  I was left champing at the bit, energized and rejuvenated, and I wanted change, both within myself and in the way I related to the world around me.  At the same time I experienced these beautiful shifts, however, I was riddled with fear— fear of the unknown, of the future, of my emotions, of a life without psychiatric drugs, and of just who I’d end up being once I got off of them.  Can anyone identify with this, whether as a part of your past or as something you feel today?

For the last several months, I have been fleshing out a vision of a communal space here at madinamerica.com for people asking the same questions that I’ve been asking since discovering Anatomy:  Now what?  What can we do to take action?  Now that we understand the message of Anatomy, which clearly shows that the current system of drug-based “care” isn’t working, and that its long-term “treatment” is, in fact, making us “sicker”, how do we do something about it?

I asked Bob Whitaker if I could create a new space at madinamerica.com for investigating this subject, and he said yes, as long as it was understood by readers that Mad in America, Inc. was simply providing a home for such discussion, rather than advocating for any particular change.  As a first step, I have created a forum, called ‘Beyond Anatomy’, which I see as a space for dialogue, discussion, and organization around the question of how to take action, whether that means in your own life, in your local community, or in society at large.  Eventually, I envision ‘Beyond Anatomy’ to evolve into something much bigger, but by getting it started in the forum space, we can build a foundation and make a start. Topics in the ‘Beyond Anatomy’ forum include:

  • How do we help our broader communities and society at large understand this issue as one of human rights and civil rights?
  • How do we effectively spread the message of Anatomy of an Epidemic, as well as the greater message that the current biomedical paradigm of understanding intense emotional experiences is false, to communities beyond this one?
  • How do we effectively provide support in an inexpensive, accessible way for people who have decided to come off of psychiatric drugs, and what does that support look like?
  • How can we learn from past civil rights movements to see what will make ours successful?

I truly believe that reading Anatomy not only saved my life, but also set me on a path towards becoming the person I was always meant to be but had been blocked from by the diagnoses I was given and the “treatment” I received for nearly half my life.  In accidentally discovering it in a Vermont bookstore in 2010, I unknowingly began my journey towards the freedom I have today from believing I had a “mental illness”— from the hopelessness, the social marginalization, and the isolation that came with believing I was abnormal and different than everyone around me.  Today, I feel a deep drive to make change happen so that others can find their own paths to freedom, and I am hoping that ‘Beyond Anatomy’ will bring together others who feel the same calling.

Link to the Beyond ‘Anatomy’ Forum

 

83 COMMENTS

  1. Good stuff Laura. My blogs are pretty much all about bringing about these reform efforts from a county-wide policy and funding level. We can’t do it all, but we can certainly have an effect and make a difference. We’re in this for the long-term. We have a very supportive Board and a dedicated Exec.

    As several folks have already mentioned, changes need to happen at different “levels” at the same time. Your forum should be a nice place for all those efforts to be discussed.

  2. I have been thinking about this post a lot since yesterday. I am eager to see what the forum will look like because I too am chomping at the bit to get more involved and get the word out. I hope this helps to move that objective forward. There is a lot to do (and, of course, a lot already being done). I think your bullet points get right to it and are a daunting and necessary agenda. Your voice speaks to the newly enlighitened (or at least I can speak for myself when I say that…) and I think could do a lot to bring people together who feel a growing sense of urgency. Thanks for your courage. I am looking forward to hearing more!

  3. OK, Laura, let me try to respond as a “cultural” psychiatrist (and I never use the word primitive because I think it is derogatory, but others do so I put it in quotes). A cultural psychiatrist is interested in how the cultural values of other people influence how they view variations in emotional expression and thinking. Of course, this can verge on stereotypes and needs to consider individual variations. Cultures can include ethnic groups, religious groups, economic groups, countries, tribes, refugees, etc. We know that in some cultures around the world historically and currently, such variations are much more accepted into the wider society and medication is much less used. In a so-called Western or industrialized society, Gheel is the best example I know. One could say that we would need less professionals if there was better societal acceptance of variation in emotional expression, thinking, and some behavior. Many cultures have there own “healers” to go to first; I talked about some of that in my last blog, ranging from shamans to curanderos to clergy. Sometimes these within-cultures healers will refer onto cultural psychiatrists. There is an organization called the Society for the Study of Culture and Psychiatry that focuses on all of this, mainly from a research perspective.

    I greatly appreciate the tone of the discussion and questions. It makes me think we can learn from each other.

    • There are still a few graduate programs in psychological anthropology, cultural (or transcultural) psychiatry, and cross-cultural psychology, with interrelated aims. It is very much a research discipline, and I have found it has had little impact (beyond some lip service) in professional mental health services, particularly psychiatry.

      In fact, the current trend is to push forward a nosology that is ahistorical, neurobiological in the most important regards, and somehow universal. I know the DSM has a subsection on “culture-bound syndromes,” but as I have noted before, demarcating a subsection as such creates the illusion that only some syndromes are culture bound (ones held by patients who are “primitive,” “pre-literate,” tend to me non-white, etc.), while the official DSM diagnoses are universal without cultural consideration. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture-bound_syndrome#DSM-IV_list_of_culture-bound_syndromes

      The truth is that DSM diagnoses are also culture-bound, and a product of a particular modernist cultural/intellectual tradition that I believe has acted quite violently since its inception in trying to define itself as trust/correct/normal/healthful/scientific/most respectable, while delegitimizing other understandings of wellness and lack thereof. Even though drawing power from the belief it is allied with science, the contemporary mental health industry (which is led by Psychiatry) has failed to offer much more than pseudoscience to rationalize its standard operating. Psychiatrists are “our” culture-bound “healers” we go to first, precisely because it has supplanted the infrastructure of and how believable other notions of health are by tying itself to medicine/rationality, but we have seen that the outcomes of psychiatry may not be all that much better than other culturally meaningful healers from different times and place.s

      I know you don’t seem to agree with me on this Dr. Moffic, but I believe Psychiatry needs to be constantly defining itself as ahistorical/universal/scientific and in doing so denigrating/analyzing/limiting other understandings of mental health in order to maintain its own powered position in our world and to maintain any positive effect people to experience from interacting with it. Its a systemic feature beyond anyone’s individual intention. It also is not the case that psychiatry’s nosology is universal/ahistoric, as even the history of the DSM project shows so much historical, cultural, political, and economic influences at play with each subsequent edition/revision (remember neuroses or gay people manifesting sociopathic characters?). Each time, Psychiatry has to say something ike , “this time we have it more right, and it is righter than what anyone would say, and whatever happened in the past that was harmful was just because we didn’t know enough to be right enough yet. Of course we’re not sorry, we just weren’t as right as we are now. Keep on trusting us to make these distinctions, as no one has ever been more right than us.”

      To challenge it, I think it is important to do what Laura did, and find a sense of Self and community that can function outside of the nosology/pathologization of psychiatry, find novel ways of interacting and caring for ourselves and each other.

      • Nathan, I agree with you just about with everything you said. However, I would add that “psychiatry”, generally led organizationally by those in private practice, gave up the power of leadership in institutions (state hospitals, community mental health centers, etc.) long ago. As individual psychiatrists, most of us wanted to have enough power to do more than just med checks, a quest most of us have lost.

  4. Laura,
    I see a sea change happening anyway, brought about by the Internet and people sharing information with each other. One stubbornly resistant area in the mind of the general public is “the mental patient,” especially the “seriously mentally ill.” The public is still prepared to believe that these conditions (bipolar and schizophrenia, but especially schizophrenia) don’t apply to the consumer rights movement.

    You asked:
    •How do we help our broader communities and society at large understand this issue as one of human rights and civil rights?

    There is an article in the Well Column of the New York Times this week about an epidemic of overtreatment and patient backlash.

    “But an epidemic of overtreatment — too many scans, too many blood tests, too many procedures — is costing the nation’s health care system at least $210 billion a year, according to the Institute of Medicine, and taking a human toll in pain, emotional suffering, severe complications and even death.”

    There is only one patient story within that article that concerns psychiatric drugs – related to an elderly patient who was put on antipsychotics, and the underlying problem turned out to be something else. The public gets that. My suggestion would be that the mental health recovery movement makes it a goal to also be included in media stories that also cover real disease – no descrimination by type of complaint. It may eventually penetrate the public consciousness that we are all in the same boat and that mental health activist complaints are valid.

  5. Steve,

    In the thread above you told Nathan that “I can’t remember the last time I played any role whatsoever in forced treatment of any sort.”

    On April 20, 2012 you told readers of the Psychiatric Times:

    “Recently, I was asked to write a request to possibly extend the outpatient commitment of a patient of mine. What for, I said to myself? This would be a waste of time because he had not exhibited any more dangerous behavior, was taking care of himself, and was compliant with his intramuscular medication. However, when as part of the ongoing monitoring of my patient’s improvement, I asked him to rate on a 0-10 (best) scale how well the medication was working, he said “0”. When I asked why, he said it was because he didn’t need the medication. Uh, oh, I thought. Could this be Anasognosia? Or, has he read or heard of Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic (2010), which discusses the potential long term risks of such medications? There’s no way he’ll be committed longer, but will he stay on the medication voluntarily? Without it he’d surely relapse into psychosis and possible dangerousness.”

    http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blog/moffic/content/article/10168/2062591

    I hope interested readers will check out the whole piece in which you advocate for limited reinstitutionalization.

    How do you reconcile what you told Nathan with what you told PT readers? Please do not misinterpret this sincere question as an attack. I am genuinely curious. Do you see no elements of “forced treatment of any sort” in your description of your and your patient’s situation above? Do you see any contradictions in what you wrote in PT and what you wrote above? Do you consider outpatient commitment laws a form of forced treatment? What about involuntary hospitalization?

    I look forward to your response. As “da man in psychiatric ethics” I hope you understand that this is not quibbling over details but legitimate concern related to transparency on a critical issue.

    • Is there *no end* to this?!

      Moffic never stops.
      He’s the gift that keeps on giving!

      Laura,

      You come across as an extremely intelligent woman – centered, focused, caring.

      You have a wonderful opportunity to do something positive/ to create a dialogue for lasting reform with your upcoming forum.

      Moffic ain’t gonna help.
      He’s gonnna muddy the waters.

      Duane

      P.S.: And if folks like me are too *negative*, cut us loose too. Make it a success…
      Really!

    • He was already on an outpatient commitment and I didn’t know him that well. Actually, we psychiatrists don’t recommend whether to extend that or not, just send them our treatment view. As far as I could tell so far, he hadn’t changed from when he came in.

    • This is from “da man in psychiatric ethics”:

      From http://www.behavioral.net/blogs/h-steven-moffic/preventing-epidemic-psychopharmacology-lawsuits April 20, 2012 by H. Steven Moffic, MD

      “You’ve probably by now heard of, or read, Robert Whitaker’s book “Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America” (Broadway Paperbacks, 2010)….

      What I still doubt that we know, however, is how many lawyers have read the book. I can just see some of them salivating over the prospects. I wouldn’t even be surprised if some “ambulance chasers” out there are already finding patients who may have been damaged, or at least a case could be made, by long-term psychiatric medications.

      ….In the meanwhile, our key tool to avoid lawsuits and help our patients to the best of our ability is in informed consent, as tricky as that can be with psychiatric patients.

      So, here’s how I might respond post-Whitaker’s book, and even tell the patient if they don’t ask, all the meanwhile being careful not to scare them away from taking the medication when they really need it. (Of course, I would not say this all in one breath, or without breaks to discuss different points).

      “I would recommend that you try this medication for this problem, but only for as long as necessary. At some point of time, we might want to try you off of it, but when we do so, taper the dose very slowly. Please do not stop the medication all at once on your own, because your body and brain will not have time to readjust. In addition, sometimes there is a so-called placebo effect when first starting medication.

      You may feel better just starting the medication, but it may not be really working yet. Therefore, don’t stop it because you are feeling better for just a few days. We will also explore all other treatments and natural remedies that might help in addition to—or instead of—the medication. In the meanwhile, please try to avoid alcohol and street drugs, for they may limit the beneficial effects of the medications, worsen any side effects, and even cause your illness to become more severe. Is this OK with you? Any questions?”

      Get a signature someplace….”

      Stevie is not appalled at the possibility that, as he says, “the medications may have longer long-term risks to the brain and body that we knew before.” What he is most concerned with is what’s technically called Covering Your *ss.

  6. Robert Whitaker, Matthew, Kermit,

    I’m going to go way out on a limb, and say,

    “Moffic needs to go! He cannot be trusted!”

    Duane

    P.S.: If I just lost access to comment on this site, I understand. It needed to be stated. without mincing words… “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

    • Duane,

      I too find Dr. Moffic completely out of line. His lack of comprehension of the damages done within his profession is probably what makes it so impossible to get any place positive with this person. He has shown no genuine desire to learn from others.

      Dear Moderators and Owners of this site,

      I would like to know if there is a limit to how much apologetics of psychiatry we have to listen to?

      Dr. Moffic’s underhanded distortions, obfuscations and indirect attacks on us are over the top IMHO, and funnily enough really rivals $cientology techniques to muddy the waters and undermine their detractors. I know I have no rights to any decisions here, but I would ask, from the bottom of my heart that his ability to write here could be a little better moderated.

      I say this, while remaining more than willing to engage with those of differing opinions from myself – including prescribing psychiatrists. I would just hope there would be a limit to what we will accept from those psychiatrists.

      Again, I say this respectfully. It is not my decision, but it is endlessly frustrating to witness this person work so hard to undermine the questioning into his field and the experiences of survivors.

      We spend our time defending ourselves and exposing the words of Dr. Moffic, rather than focusing on positive ways to move forward. It has reached a level that is not healthy.

      Malene

      • I have been traveling for the past week, and quite unavailable to follow comments, post new material, etc. I’m taking a few moments now to say this: I’m at the Open Dialogue conference in Finland. This fall I will be at many other conferences that are pertinent to this website’s mission. I’m meeting a lot of people with wonderful projects under way, and gotten commitments from many of them to blog about them. The conversations I’m hearing, some of which I am videotaping for inclusion on the website, reflect a sense of change and hopefulness I really was not seeing just a few years ago. I am excited to see these things unfold, and I think that this website can provide a true service in helping people around the country and the world stay abreast of substantive developments, see and hear the wonderful people who are creating them, and draw inspiration for doing the same where they live.

        The video we put up of Steven Morgan and the Vermont Soteria project is just the beginning, but I’ve already met people at the conference here in Finland who saw it and were moved and excited by it.

        My involvement with this website started, in part, when I mentioned to Bob Whitaker a couple of years ago that I didn’t feel I could continue doing this work unless it somehow involved substantive, real change in the system; that I would rather sell aluminum siding that feel like I’m tinkering around the edges. I had done work I was proud of, but always feeling like it was covert, as if I was running an underground railway. That can be challenging, sometimes fun, and even intellectually kinky; but it is not sustainable as a way of life.

        I now have the opportunity to participate in chronicling the substantive change. Open Dialogue is, indeed, coming to America; Jaako Seikkula told me yesterday there seems to be more opportunity for it there than in Scandinavia at the moment; I hope to interview him more on that point. Earlier this week I videotaped an interview with Mary Maddock in Ireland. I came away thinking she is a latter-day Rosa Parks or Angela Davis.

        I’ve had conversations with Sandy Steingard, who is here at the conference. I think I can fairly say that she is excitedly, courageously, embracing ways of thinking and approaches to this work that had not been obvious to her. She has told me she will write about her ongoing process, and I believe that for those who will entertain the conversation that ensues the rewards will be rich.

        All of which is to say; we have a lot to look forward to. I think the fact that there has been a (largely) civil conversation about difficult topics on this website is merely a warmup for things to come. This is where my attention is directed at the moment. I think that these current conversations will fade into the rear-view when we really get up to speed.

        And I honestly believe that, if we can manage to remain civil, we may be surprised at who we find is riding with us.

        Open Dialogue is, as much as anything, an exploration of reality as something that arises as part of a social fabric. I like to think that everybody who contributes to the website in these early days is weaving it with us. I’ve had conversations with Dr. Moffic that leads me to believe he is every bit as much a seeker after new knowledge and new truths as anyone here. Call me pollyanna (or worse, as I’m sure some will), but I like to think everyone has a place on the bus.

        • To the MiA team,

          Malene wrote: “it is endlessly frustrating to witness this person work so hard to undermine the questioning into his field and the experiences of survivors.

          We spend our time defending ourselves and exposing the words of Dr. Moffic, rather than focusing on positive ways to move forward. It has reached a level that is not healthy.”

          I agree. I think something needs to be done about this situation, but I have no idea what. Frankly, I find Dr. Moffic’s conduct throughout the comment threads toxic. This has nothing to do with any views he might hold and everything to do with the way he relates to others. I also believe that he has as much right to participate in the comment threads as anyone else. I realize that he blogs here at Robert Whitaker’s request.

          When I look at Steve M’s rhetoric in the comment threads it reminds me of watching an interview with a politician who evades tough questions while continually promoting himself. I do not see “great dialogue” and I am not enjoying this. I would agree that Steve’s presence is stimulating, but for me this is not in a good way.

          Kermit, I would encourage you and other MiA decision makers not to generalize from your own experiences with Dr. Moffic when thinking about this difficult situation. One of the major problems I see is that Steve responds well to those with outstanding educations and an academic writing style. He is disrespectful, dismissive, and insensitive to many others who do not express their anger or critique in forms he is comfortable with.

          I believe with my whole being that there is a place for everybody on the bus! I also think that when a passenger on the bus is behaving in a way that endangers other passengers, for example by continually trying to grab the steering wheel or harassing other passengers, someone needs to get him to sit down so that everyone can make the journey safely.

        • Kermit,

          How exciting that you get to participate in those conferences and be on the forefront of what is hopefully an amazing paradigm shift in the years to come. Thank you for making efforts to share that with us.

          It might be hard to follow along with the frustration that some of us feel with Dr Moffic. You have spoken with Dr. Moffic in person and he has been able to say the right things to convince you that he genuinely wants change, but I will say that his behavior on this site has not been consistent with such a statement.

          I can understand allowing everyone a seat on the bus. Maybe Dr. Moffic will awaken and at that point maybe he will have something to contribute. I just ask that he is not allowed to be in the drivers seat, because right now, he will drive us right back into the medications. He has not yet had the courage to face the essential, destructiveness he represents. Please, lets do set limits and say NO, loudly NO. Yes, yelling NO to the old paradigms – the paradigms that Dr. Moffic still represents and try to sell on this site. Even if it is out of not understanding, even if it is not deliberate we still need to say NO.

          In other words – sure, allow him on the bus, but please, I beg, put some boundaries in place. Much worse than Dr. Moffic getting his tender little pride hurt is the re-traumatization he represents for survivors, imho.

          Malene

        • I believe it’s possible Steve Moffic’s heart is in the right place, but he simply hates hates hates having to discuss what he thinks of as his esoteric field of practice with non-physicians — as though we could not possibly understand it.

          He is having trouble integrating this environment into his schema. He doesn’t understand his audience and keeps on asking for a different one with which he’d be more comfortable — psychiatric patients happy with their treatment.

          That said, I respect him for pursuing this growth experience, although I find his evasions and rationalizations annoying.

        • Thanks for keeping us up to date with your news and travels Kermit and all the best in Finland. I’d seen your photo with Mary Maddock in Ireland on Facebook. We’re in a global village right enough.

          Also good to hear about the psychiatrists who continue to engage on MIA. All the best to them for hanging on there. I sometimes feel like a lone voice in Scotland but know there are many others here supporting the campaign for psychiatric system transformation.

          Regards, Chrys

  7. I recognize that for many here, the human rights violations that were perpetuated on them are the most egregious thing. If we say “Psychiatry is a human rights violation that must be abolished”, some people will ask “Then how do we help these people who are suffering greatly?” I agree that psychiatry overall is doing a mostly sucky job at helping people who are suffering, and is often harming people. But I think it scares a lot of folks to threaten to abolish a supposed source of “help”, and not have much to offer to replace it. It scares them (including me) to not know where to turn to instead (even though I’m thoroughly discouraged by my long experiences with psychiatry).

    For some people, simply turning away from psychiatry may be sufficient for them to greatly improve the quality of their lives. But for others, it probably won’t be. For me personally, I’m much more interested in seeing people accumulating more good information about what kinds of help actually helps people (and I believe this will be very individualistic), then figuring out how to put more of that kind of help in place. I’m not confident the “peer movement” can sufficiently fill in the gaps. Interacting with highly distressed people is challenging for most people, and a lot of people do it poorly, with poor outcomes. I for one wouldn’t mind some “expertise” involved, if we could ever come to any consensus of what decent expertise might look like.

  8. Hey Philroy,

    I completely agree actually. As a helper, paraprofessional and volunteer, I have been in situations where behaviors or symptoms of those I was there to help scared or overwhelmed me. I have learned a few things from those situations. I have also been in the situation where my reactions scared someone else. Although I do not and did not then see a reason to be “scared”, I know that is how they felt.

    If I get scared, that is my problem. I do not have the right to dehumanize the person that is scaring me.

    If I get scared I need to get support so I can remain a human when I try to offer help. We tend to respond to our fear by labeling, belittling and ultimately drugging someone if we feel fear or overwhelm when interacting with them. This is not ok.

    Sometimes I have seen medications help, and it should be an individual choice if that is an avenue to pursue.

    Yes, we need systems in place to help those who are in crisis, with various behaviors that can be overwhelming, without dehumanizing them in the process. It will take a while to develop such systems. Unfortunately, we will make little progress as long as people are unaware of how horrific the degradation of psychiatry as it works today is.

    Malene

  9. Dr. Moffic,

    Your inability to acknowledge the horrific damages done by your chosen field, and by prescribing psychiatrists like yourself is a slap in the face of every survivor here.

    It is disrespectful and insensitive (and that is me moderating myself).

    You keep claiming that you have something we should learn from you, but you have refused to tell us what that is. Even worse, in my book, you are much more focused on what we should learn from you than you are on what you can learn from us.

    So, let me be clear on what I see here. You told us that you had more than 400 patients at any given time in your practice. Let’s just hazard a guess and say that amounted to approximately 2600 people a year, over a 20 year career that would amount to 52000 people that you have medicated.

    Lets be ridiculously conservative and say that 30% of those people developed physical and / or emotional reactions to your medications that caused them further damage. In this I include obesity, diabetes and other physical ailments as well as the mental side effects that we know are there. 30% of 52000 people is 15600 people whose lives you have destroyed. 15600 people who were traumatized, drugged and damaged by you. How many of those were children?

    Frankly, if you want to be on a site like this – then it is time that you listen to and learn from us. Lets think of those 15600 people. Lets stop thinking about how you are getting hurt, but lets think of the 15600. We, Stevie boy, we are the 15600. The 15600 people who are absolutely furious, who wants to be acknowledged for the damage done. No, you have nothing to offer us Stevie.

    Until or unless you genuinely want to learn from us. Until or unless you can acknowledge the horrors, until that happens, you have nothing to offer.

    Malene

  10. “… nor shall any State deprive ANY PERSON of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to ANY PERSON within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” – 14th Amendment, U.S. Constitution

    Moffic,

    Common sense would dictate that an amendment that applies to any person who is convicted of a crime would certainly also apply to any person whose greatest “crime” is severe emotional distress.

    Unless, of course one sees “bipolars” and “schizophrenics” (two very marginalizing terms)as less than a person, fully human.

    Which of course, is the real issue here, isn’t it, doc?
    When it comes to these fundamental rights, *your* opinion is *moot*.

    In short (plain English), who cares *why* you think you have the *authority* to ignore these rights?

    You do NOT have such authority!

    Natural Law.
    Raed about it.
    Learn about it.

    And stop spitting on the Constitution!

    Duane

  11. “In my heart, I know what my solution is– any institution in which one person claims the right to be an “expert” on another person’s emotional, thinking, and spiritual existence is, in my opinion, oppressive and in need of dismantling.”

    I love you for this clarity of vision, Laura.

    I read the rest of these comments, but, really, that’s all I needed to say.

  12. How did I miss this particular bar fight that has been going on for days? I honestly didn’t even notice it. Wow. Some serious discord here.

    I don’t have that much of a problem with Steve Moffic. From the first couple of blogs he wrote, I knew where he stood. I knew he was an editor at Psychiatric Times, and I knew what this told me. I knew he’d only recently been exposed to Whitaker’s work, etc.

    I’ve read all these comments, and if he did say he “couldn’t remember the last time he was involved in forced treatment”, and then you found the 2010 Psychiatric Times article where he admits to being involved in a community commitment forced drugging case, well then, that could be seen as incongruous with what he said here.

    Moffic seems to rile some people here, he doesn’t bother me, he doesn’t even approach the level of hypocrisy of others, I’m thinking about the stealth electroshock psychiatrist in the reform movement here.

  13. Laura, you are awesome as always!

    “…the biggest change I believe I can create in my work as a peer specialist (a title I take numerous ethical issues with, and that my heart really struggles with having, although that’s a conversation for another time…) is to help a person connect to a sense of inner-agency and hope that he/she has forgotten exists inside of him/her.”

    It is sad to me to read this comment, because I have been a counselor/therapist in the community in the past and this is exactly what I always have done. Of course, I didn’t actually receive any training in counseling before I became one (undergrad degree in Chemistry, grad degree in Education, but somehow the MS convinced people I was a counselor!), and maybe that was a huge advantage. But I recall a lot of folks back in the 80s who thought similarly, and we got some really great results. Empowerment was the watchword – helping the “client” (whether self-identified or forcibly labeled as such) realize that it was the “client” who defined both whatever problem we were working on and what the solution was.

    We have come so far from that paradigm that it is apparently almost unrecognizable as “mental health treatment,” and only “peers” (as in survivors of the system’s abuse!) seem able to recognize that this is what really helps people thrive. That paradigm came from the place of believing that everyone had a REASON or PURPOSE for their behavior, and that critical to helping was to assist the person in identifying what they were trying to accomplish and then have HIM/HER decide if their behavior met his/her own goals or if change was in order.

    I concur 100% that it is the definition of “mental disorders” as medical entities needing “treatment” that is at the core of why the current system is so destructive. And despite Stevie’s protests, it is the APA that publishes and supports these definitions, and adds the social validation required to obfuscate the obvious lack of scientific validity or even scientific approach involved in developing them.

    I am looking forward to the new forum. I’ve been involved in working to change the system “from the inside” for years, including helping pass a law in Oregon that has reduced the rate of psych meds in foster care from 24% to 14% in 5 years. I can tell you that it only happened when we were able to join together a group of people who had some social clout (judges, advocates, attorneys, foster youth, government officials, the news media, and the legislature), and it took a long time to make what still amounts to a significant but not sufficient impact on the system. System change takes time, and it does require an alliance of “insiders” in addition to critics from outside the system. Political power is very real, and in this country, as corrupt as the process has become, the power can and ultimately does belong to us, if only we will step up and take it back from the people who have bought it, including (sorry, Stevie) the profession of psychiatry.

    Thanks again for your inspirational blogs. Let’s shake psychiatry to its foundations. The good ones (Sandra Steingard and her ilk) will come along for the ride, where as the rotten ones will fight like cornered badgers, but in the end, have nothing but their status and their illicit financial motivations to protect themselves. If we all band together, including those IN the system who want to change it, we can bring this edifice to its knees!

    —- Steve

  14. Why are we spending all this time on Dr. Moffic? Maybe the answer to this question is that the unspoken yet clear assumption of this website is that the change we are looking for will come through convincing psychiatrists to be nicer. Almost every new blogger announced is yet another mental “health” professional, as if we psych survivors are stupid and can’t speak for ourselves.

    This is really nonsense. This isn’t the way social change is accomplished. When the abolitionists were trying to end slavery, did they think they would win just by convincing the slave owners? And later, when black people had at last the freedom to act on their own, did they succeed by getting white people to lead them? Did the women’s movement ask men to be their leaders? Did gay people wait around for straight people to tell them what to do?

    I am feeling very frustrated by the discussions I see, where lots of energy is being wasted on trying to convince people like Dr. Moffic to be nice. We should be spending our time and energy trying to figure out how we, those who have been hurt by the system, are going to change it.

    Laura wrote earlier that we should try to see how we can learn from the civil rights movements that came before us. (Our movement was actually contemporary with the movements I just mentioned, but has been thrown off course for a long time by the bribes from the federal mental “health” system.)

    I don’t think it is hard to figure out at all. When our movement started over forty years ago, we had the inspiring civil rights movement, led by people like Doctor King, as our example. We followed that example and we made progress until the system bought off a large part of our movement.

    Times have changed, and many other movements have been bought off too. (See the very enlightening book “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded.”) But even though these movements have become less “militant” in their style, they have accomplished a lot. Gays, women, black people, disabled people, all have won respect and a certain amount of power. Maybe even more important, they now think differently of THEMSELVES. Unfortunately, though, these movements are at a different stage of development now, and don’t give us the inspiration we need.

    But really, brothers and sisters, Dr. Moffic is not important. He will do whatever he wants anyway.
    Instead of fruitlessly arguing with the shrinks, let’s discuss with one another, in the most supportive and mutually respectful way we can, what we need to do to accomplish our own liberation.

    WE are the ones who will make the changes we want to see (along with allies who understand the difference between helping us and being in charge). How can it be otherwise? We must do what all other movements for liberation have done and learn to rely on ourselves.

      • Malene, I will be having a meeting soon for people who want to work on the APA demo and I will contact you soon. Do I have your phone number? You can send it to me by email if you want. I don’t want to post mine here though. Seems to me we have already spoken on the phone, but I am not the most organized person in the world.

        On another page, I saw your discussion of your cult experience when you were younger. Now I understand better why you felt so strongly about Scientology. I know you had mentioned being in a cult before, but it didn’t register on me.

  15. I would say the first step is for that community to see us. Most of the time we are spoken for my psychiatrists who have no idea what they are talking about or our parents or family members or worse, the media. The public needs to see us as people. Their ability to distance themselves so far from us is why it took so long to shut down old asylums, as long as that distance exists, it’s easier for them to turn a blind eye.
    As to the second, I would say you could set up websites and such, but it won’t have any effect until we can relate to them. A better idea may be to do presentations at colleges open to the public.
    Support for withdrawal can get sticky. Depending on the medication and reaction, we may have to get them medical help at some point. It might be good to be a available as a short term house guest. Especially if they have young children or are on their own. We want the transition to be as calming as possible for them, and it would give them someone to be there if they felt unsafe or needed some assistance.

    There are some serious problems in our weigh if we are seeking civil rights. In the nineties, the High Court became concerned that the mentally ill might be a suspect class. Suspect classes have an established history of prejudice and abuse by the general public and may find it difficult to be heard legally. It is my opinion that establishing us that way would have disallowed forced drugging, demanded adequAte treatment, and established proof to be committed. I think this because Congress randomly volunteered to do something, and that’s never a good sign. They did the studies on prejudice and access to the courtss, and instead of granting us rights, they formed the ADA. They also states that any feeling of prejudice was in our minds essentially. About two years later the studies were found, and they established without a doubt that a nationwide prejudice towards mental illness was rampant.