E. Fuller Torrey recently posted a response to my blog, “Anosognosia: How conjecture becomes medical ‘fact’”. Bob Whitaker has responded with a forceful post that exposes the gross distortions in Dr. Torrey’s argument.
Dr. Torrey did not address the substance of my argument. He re-stated what was posted in the original TAC post, namely that studies have found group differences between those who were identified as having anosognosia and normal control subjects. The studies found a variety of differences and it therefore seemed, at the very least, premature to make the conclusion that, “Anosognosia, or lack of awareness of illness, thus has an anatomical basis and is caused by damage to the brain by the disease process.”
Dr. Torrey goes on to make the following comments about me:
“In short, any mental health professional who doubts schizophrenia is a brain disease is probably restricting their scientific reading to the National Geographic.”
“Another woman, trained as a mental health professional, briefly examines some scientific data and concludes it is wrong because it conflicts with her deeply held social belief system. This is denial.”
“Mental health professionals who deny that schizophrenia is a brain disease have no such excuse, however, and are simply demonstrating their ignorance.”
He refers to Mad in America and those who write here as “the new anti-biological antipsychiatry”.
He also gives his example of a person who has anosognosia:
“A woman with schizophrenia sits daily in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, believing she is married to the President and waiting for him to call her to come over. She believes he has to wait to acknowledge her because of the interference of Israeli secret agents. She is very patient and, at night, sleeps on the streets, where she is regularly abused. When offered medication, she adamantly refuses it, saying there is nothing wrong with her.”
As readers of Torrey’s website know, Dr. Torrey’s approach to this woman would be to commit her to a hospital and force her to take medication.
I will not bother to address Dr. Torrey’s attacks on my training or attitude about the biological nature of psychosis. What I will address is how I would approach the woman in Lafayette Park.
I would ask her what she needed. I would try to make a connection with her based on a shared view of her needs. I would hope that our first shared goal would be to get her fed and our next goal would be to get her into a safe place at night.
I would know that if my first approach was to point out the folly of her most deeply held beliefs, that I would not be likely to be of any help to her at all.
I would understand that although I might at some point feel compelled to force her into a safe place, I would also know that on some level this decision would mean that I had failed in my effort to help her. I would know that forcing her into treatment in the short term would not necessarily lead to long term changes in her life. She might be less delusional after taking medication but then she might not continue with a drug that was forced on her and she would be very likely to end up back where she was now feeling alienated from those who wanted to help her.
I would understand that this work is hard and that there are often no easy answers.
This understanding does not come from “a deeply held social belief system” because quite frankly I do not have one. It also does not come from my rejecting the role of the brain in understanding the most complex of our cognitions and experiences. My training is not dissimilar from Dr. Torrey’s and at an earlier point in my career he was a psychiatrist I admired and respected.
This understanding comes from my direct experience. I do – as I have written about openly on this site – force people into treatment. But it so rarely helps. For every individual I have known who has been grateful after the fact that he was forced into treatment, there are so many others who are angry, resentful, and alienated from the very people and institutions who are supposed to be helpful.
Dr. Torrey accuses me of being ignorant and perhaps in this regard he is correct. Where he sees such clarity, I see profoundly difficult questions.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
With respect to the possible fate of the lady in Lafayette Park, I am increasingly glad to live in a country in which the forcible use of antipsychotics is not an automatic right of the health care system. The Supreme Court of Canada in Starson v. Swayze,  1 S.C.R. 722, 2003 SCC 32, allows informed refusal of medications even by a patient with a diagnosed psychiatric disorder. The presiding judge stated “Few medical procedures can be more intrusive than the forcible injection of powerful mind-altering drugs which are often accompanied by severe and sometimes irreversible adverse side effects……… a competent patient has the absolute entitlement to make decisions that any reasonable person would deem foolish”. The right knowingly to be foolish is not unimportant; the right to voluntarily assume risks is to be respected. The State has no business meddling with either. The dignity of the individual is at stake…..The Board must avoid the error of equating the presence of a mental disorder with incapacity. The patient was granted the right to refuse medications and seek psychotherapy.
I could only dream of a court in Australia having that much insight!! Ours are quite content to forcibly drug those only deemed to be “at risk” of developing psychosis. In fact our legislation states that having the capacity to consent and refusing to give consent is reason for forced treatment!! They believe that no sane person would ever refuse to any form of psychiatric treatment, including ECT.
I’m unfamiliar with Australian ‘mental health’ law.
But, if what you say of Australia’s system is true (that they can, “forcibly drug those only deemed to be ‘at risk’ of developing psychosis”), then you have my utmost sympathies. That is truly awful, if accurate (because, of course, there’s no way, in reality, to make accurate ‘mental health’ predictions, of presumed future “psychosis” conditions).
Psychiatrists can talk about so-called “prodromal symptoms” all they want; but, it’s just talk – all so much loose speculation; there is no real science behind it.
Meanwhile, it would be an huge mistake to idealize the Canadian ‘mental health’ system.
It may be perfectly true (as the commenter above indicates) that, “The Supreme Court of Canada in Starson v. Swayze,  1 S.C.R. 722, 2003 SCC 32, allows informed refusal of medications even by a patient with a diagnosed psychiatric disorder.”
However, that does not make Canada’s system a truly just or beneficial one.
To see what I mean, please follow the link, below, to read the brief article, titled, “1 in 4 mental health patients controlled with drugs, restraints.”
Any country that allows people to be forcibly treated in the basis of some behavioural traits is not just. One cannot lock someone in prison, just because they do not like how they are acting. The person must have done something that hurt someone first, they are then innocent until proven guilty and a judge and more often than not a jury is involved in the decision.
They talk about treating people that lack capacity, but what does capacity mean? If I agree with everything they say, I am deemed to have capacity, if I do not I lack capacity?
People in a coma cannot make informed decisions, very young children/infants cannot make informed decisions. That does not allow a doctor to just do as they like to them. No, they are required to get informed consent from there next of kin, family or the like. If necessary courts will appoint a a Guardian for them. Of course there are issues with this and most families will agree with anything a doctor says, but it is still very very different to what happens in mental health. It would always be safe for a loved one to make decisions for someone, rather than a so called doctor who has met them very briefly. Having said that though I know that what psychiatrists dished out to me was nothing compared to what my family would have and did do.
One has to question WHY they need to use seclusion, and both mechanical and chemical restraints, if there drugs treat the conditions just like insulin for diabetes!! After all one does not require any such thing to treat a diabetic. Once the insulin is given they are normal within half a second!!! If these drugs balance the chemicals in the brains, why do they take so long to work, why do they not work for so many people.
It needs to be understood that the person with the HIGHEST level of Anosognosia is E Fuller Torry himself. Afterall he believes without any shadow of a doubt that Schizophrenia is a 100% biological based brain disease. He is a trained doctor and psychiatrist and yet has NO medical evidence at all to justify what he says. IF a doctor or anyone else wants me to believe that I have some medical condition they better be prepared to back it up with medical evidence. NO ONE can diagnose a brain disease sitting four feet away from someone with a pen and paper. And no REAL doctor would claim to be able to do so. Yet that is exactly what Torrey says.
IF what is said on this site is so threatening, then why not simply refute what we say with REAL scientific research. PROVE the brain disease, come up with boilogical based tests, and then he can say that these are brain diseases. The fact remains that centuries of research have proved no such diseases exist. The most intricate of brain scans show no differences until AFTER a person is medicated. That is not diagnostic proof. NO other medical profession treats a person for something they have no proof exists. Instead they perform REAL tests and then and only then do they propose to offer treatments. They also acknowledge that sometimes the treatments are worse than the condition itself and that only the person concerned has the ability to decide whether the benefits outweight the negatives.
Sedating someone to the point of unconciousness does not take away the psychotic symptoms, it just stops them from being in front of the persons face. The person is so sedated they are unable to function at all. They cannot walk down the street, they cannot do anything at all except sleep all day and all night. May as well give someone a lethal injection if that is what you want a person to live like.
How is it that psychiatrists and other mental health professioanls claim to be able to know what is and what is not true in a persons beliefs. How do you know that a person’s beliefs truly are false. I mean lets not forget that psychiatrists believed at one stage that a black who did not want to be a slave was mentally ill as they would ALL want to be slaves, it would be impossible for them to not want to be.
When do they plan on medicating children for believing in Santa Clause, when they cannot prove that he is real. When does something become a mental illness. When is something allowable to be believed and something not allowed to be believed. Why are psychiatrists, such as Torrey allowed to believe that a condition called schizophrenia is a proven brain disease without any evidence at all to back it up?? Why is he the thought police, allowed to decide what a person can and cannot think about.
As for the woman in the park, has anyone ever thought of WHY she ended up there. 99.9% of people who are eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia seek help, BEFORE it is forced onto them. When they reject the help that is offered it is all explained as a part of there diseased brain. BUT they DID seek help. They did and I would dare to say in all cases do seriously want help, they just do not want what is being provided. There is a massive difference between not wanting help and not wanting what is being done to you. Again lets not forget where Anosognosia first was invented by psychiatry. They said that a person who did not want to be span at thousands of times a minute was not aware of what was needed. People who did not like drowing therapy did not know what needed. People who did not like being burned, having blisters raised on the sculp, etc, it was ALWAYS the brain disease talking. Again when patients did not want ECT without an anesethic it was the disease talking, when they did not want insulin coma therapy, labotomy, etc, etc, it was ALWAYS the disease talking. ALL of these things cured these diseases, so why not still do them. Psychiatry now claims to be better and more informed and more scientific, but they use the EXACT same excuses as were used decades ago. Do psychaitrists of today, seriously believe that anesethic is not necessary for ECT, as the brain diseases of these people make it unncessary?? Do they seriously believe that drowing therapy is ethical, that burning people, locking them in cages, whipping them, blistering them, etc is all perfectly ethical and legal and has no negative effects on the person. If the person has the exact same beliefs about treatments today as they had 100 years ago, then why is today’s treatments so acceptable of those ones of the past are ones they do not wish to be associated with.
Above all where is the evidence that these drugs will cure this woman’s so called delusional beliefs 100% and that the side effects will only be mild??
Treat people as human beings and they will go back when they need help again. Treat them like animals and they will respond like animals, not difficult to comprehend, just common sense.
Doctor Torrey certainly has all the ear marks of a person so assured by his own theories that he can’t even relate to other people well. Calling someone ignorant is a flawed argument for defending why you yourself are superior. He can’t tell me what causes mental illness, how to cure it, or how his medications actually work, in fact, he can’t even settle for actually defining it without a board and input from pharmaceutical companies, but I’m supposed to believe he understand my intent and motivation? I can assure you, we know something is wrong. People like me walk through crowds afraid other people might sense it… that wrongness. Psychiatry is about everyone but us. Profits and fear. Those labels don’t help us, they allow psychiatrists to dehumanize us. They fold us up and classify us into neat little drawers to protect them from having to relate to us. It probably also helps soothe their guilt about the way they treat us. For all his absolutes, he still can’t show me schizophrenia on a slide, and he can’t give any empirical evidence that his medication does anything but make people more compliant for his benefit. If his treatment was effective, it would have made a difference since WWII besides lining someone’s pockets.
Thank you Dr Steingard, for using persuasion instead of force on the “ill”.
Both parties must want the same thing, such as proper food and shelter.
With sleep, hygiene, personal safety, and a full belly rational decisions can be made by an individual.
The patient needs their brain in the best working order to figure out whats going on (around them), to make good choices and good decisions.
If you take away the “patients” ability to make decisions with drugs, they will stay dependent on the caregiver forever.
If psychiatric drugs stop brain function then the person is incapable of learning, incapable of changing their life, so they are condemned to making the same mistakes over and over thanks to “helping” psychiatry.
I agree with you that there is not much to be gained by further reactions to Torrey but I think his organization has some influence in the US.
I agree. See http://criticalpsychiatry.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/it-is-not-possible-to-diagnose.html
Interesting that Dr. Torrey thinks that because the lady in the park refuses the offer of medications, she has “agnosognosia.” I would say she is quite thinking logically with the confines of her paranoia. Why would she ingest a pill from someone off the street if she already may be thinking that Israeli agents are trying to poison her to prevent her from seeing the President?
Torrey’s failing to understand that there may be a good reason the bag lady refused medication demonstrates yet again the problem I have with his compassion. I tried reading his book when my son was first hospitalized and, even then, knowing nothing about schizophrenia or Dr. Torrey, I felt that he regarded people with schizophrenia as sub-human. This attitude made me feel very sad about my son’s prospects, so I put the book down.
Even the compassionate approach, as Dr. Steingard acknowledges, doesn’t guarantee success. Helping someone get better is long, hard work, and so much depends on social contact and respect. It would be wonderful if family members were given more honest information about medications from the beginning, what the medications actually do and why many people refuse them.
It might seem that Dr. Torrey has an oxen that is easily gored, no?
I trust you because you look to your experience and listen to it. And because of this you are a true doctor. You don’t seem to sit there on a throne dictating everything as the “expert” about the lives of other people. You don’t seem to presume to be the expert at all. You listen to people and work with them and not above them. You’re willing to re-evaluate your work rather than being the know-it-all. I will let very few doctors of any kind treat me but I would be willing to work in partnership with you.
Torrey is such a quack.
I could not have said it better myself Steven. I admire people who have the courage to question the status quo and who can see that what they have been told is not helping. Doctors need to work in partnership with people and without it trust cannot and will not develop.
Unforuntatley I have seen way too many Torrey’s in my lifetime and then they wonder why we don’t want anything to do with them.
Torrey is 75 years old, coming toward the end of his career.
And his career been a complete failure.
And he knows it..
He knows there’s no science to back his failed theories, in spite of all the brain carving.
He knows there’s no law (common, Constitutional, or otherwise) to support his forced treatment.
He knows that there has been no legitimate recognition by the medical community for anything he or his colleagues have ever done.
And he knows that at his age, there is little time left to create a real, lasting legacy. So he’s decided to prop-up a false one, in hopes that it may carry his name into history as having done some good.
The problem, of course is that history will get the last word when it comes to Torrey. And IMO, history will not be kind.
In short, he’s a sad, angry, desperate *little* man.
You have more sincerity and humanity in your little toe than Torrey has in his entire body.
Your caring nature would be a gift to the woman in the park.
Dear Dr. Steingard,
What is your opinion of Dr. Torrey’s book “Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present” and his research studying whether a parasite found in cat droppings called Toxoplasma gondii can trigger an onset of schizophrenia later in life?
Posted on Mad in America dot com on 10/27/2012
I have not read that book. I do not know enough about the Toxo theories to offer a comment but I will check out your links.
Dear Dr. Steingard,
I appreciate that you will consider theories of possible underlying causes of psychosis.
On page 166 of “Mad in America” Bob discusses encephalitis lethargica caused by a virus, and on Page 80 of “Mad in America” he mentions scientific literature dating back to 1876 relating insanity being cured by the removal of infected teeth.
During the past 16 years I have met/heard of numerous individuals dx’d with bp/sz that were suffering from various forms of encephalitis such as equine encephalitis, lead encephalopathy and encephalitis from Lyme Disease. The worst case was that of a young woman from Rochester, NY who was dx’d with bp and actually suffering from Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease.
I think that you might also find of interest the narrative written by NY Post reporter Susannah Cahalan, “My mysterious lost month of madness” on anti-NMDAR encephalitis.
Her neurologist, Dr. Najjar, “estimates that nearly 90 percent of those suffering from autoimmune encephalitis go undiagnosed.
‘It’s a death sentence when you’re still alive,’ Najjar told me. ‘Many are wasting away in a psych ward or a nursing home.’
Susannah was the first person in NYU Medical Center’s history to be diagnosed with NMDAR encephalitis.
Similarly, in 1998 I was the first person at Syracuse’s Upstate University Hospital ever to be diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy.
After detoxing through Chelation and other treatments I was asymptomatic for over 7 years. On one occasion, an abscessed tooth caused symptoms of psychosis to temporarily exacerbate. Originally, I was helped through Integrative Medicine. My former doctor is with NIHADC and I contacted him. He said doctors at NIHADC work closely with holistic dentists and recognize bacterial infections from dental problems causing symptoms that can be labeled as schizophrenia. That episode was the first time I had ever experienced audio hallucinations. Prior to that I had only experienced visual.
He recommended the antibiotic flagyl for anaerobic bacteria and once I had the root canal done the symptoms quickly abated.
In regard to Dr. Torrey, considering the pelethra of information that is out there, it is nice to see that your post was read by him and that it inspired him to create a dialogue on the topic. Mental health care advocacy is in need of opposing opinions connecting and finding common grounds to create a uniform advocacy agenda.
We need to push buttons to make real change.
For Dr. Torrey to state: “Dr. Steingard made some important points”, that’s a great accomplishment.
For Dr. Torrey to also state: “Whitaker is correct in criticizing the pharmaceutical industry, the overuse of psychiatric medications by physicians and the psychiatric profession for being financially in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry.” well, kudo’s to Bob and Mad in America dot com for getting Dr. Torrey to admit that!
If it’s any consolation, I have been called far worse than ignorant by many psychiatrists.
On Sept. 10, 2012, Dr. Mark Foster wrote this statement about one of his patients:
“She is a difficult patient, a bottomless pit of needs with no coping mechanisms, and I don’t have a clue how to help her. She is truly a “broken brain”–literally–and will always be disabled. In her case, keeping her semi-sedated makes some sense–to spare herself and society the legal and criminal consequences of her mind unleashed”
I wrote to both Bob and Mark about this statement. Apparently, since I am the only person who seems to see something wrong with it, I must be much more sensitive than most people about how Mark portrayed this women and how gaurded Bob is of Mark.
I think because I obtained all of my medical records for my worker’s comp case and this description is close to how several psychiatrists described me.
Posted on Mad in America dot com on 10/28/2012
If schizophrenia is a brain disease, as Torrey confidently asserts, then why is the recovery (as in recovery from the problems misrepresented as a disease) rate so high? Obviously, you don’t see such a thing amongst people with established brain diseases like MS and Alzheimer’s.
Torrey arrogantly asserts, in conclusion of a paragraph that amounts to little more than ventilating his prejudices, that “any Mental Health professional who doubts schizophrenia is a brain disease is probably restricting their reading to the National Geographic”.
I’m not buying into the idea that he is an inerrant investigator of neuroimaging research. He examines the evidence in the light of his own prejudices, and passes it off as unquestionable proof that the brain disease hypothesis is correct.
The first thing that must be said is that even if he is correct, and ‘schizophrenics’ have a brain disease, that doesn’t mean its study and treatment should fall within the purview of psychiatrists, who are not proper neurologists, and who as a group of people have the worst record in human history of damaging and diseasing the human brain.
Confirmation of the brain disease hypothesis should only lead to the annihilation. We’ve already got neurology. Leave the brain to them. A proper neurologist does not treat brain diseases by giving the patient neuropathogenic drugs or by hacking at his/her lobes like it was a piece of dead meat!
Anyway, the raison d’etre of psychiatry is to treat mental illnesses, not brain diseases. A brain disease is a brain disease, not a mental illness. We don’t say of someone who has a neurological disorder like epilepsy or a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s that that person has a mental illness or that their disease causes mental illness, and for good reason. Sure, individuals experience symptoms of these diseases, but the symptoms aren’t ‘mental illness’; yet the people who usually support the brain disease hypothesis do so in order to prove the existence of ‘mental illness'(for example, Rael Jean Isaac claims Szasz’s contention that mental illness is a myth is nonsense because the brains of such people are diseased, proving that there is such a thing as mental illness), as if denying the existence of mental illness is synonymous with denying the existence of brain diseases.
What Torrey doesn’t mention in that paragraph is that the brain is not impervious to experience of the world and that trauma could account for structural abnormalities, as opposed to “the schizophrenia disease process”, a “disease” where recovery is common without treatment.
…the annihilation of psychiatry, that is.
And we know and have proof that trauma does cause massive changes to the brain. http://childtrauma.org/images/stories/Articles/mindbrain.pdf
Something that their drugs are not doing to do anything at all to help. But of course admitting that people experience traumatic events is not something they want to admit. Much easier to blame them and tell them it doesn’t affect them.
And of course if a genetic boilogical disease existed, it would have been wiped out by now. First they sterialised thousands of people, millions of others died from neglect and now they are killed by medication side effects and of course the drugs also prevent people from having sex anyway.
A brain disease would have been found by now and if it did exist, it would also prove that psychiatrists are not necessary and that it belongs with neurologists.
What is most intolerable about Torrey’s merciless guff is all that nonsense about the parietal lobe defect.
First, he has done hee-haw to show that there is causation rather than just correlation. This reminds one of the idiotic notion he helped to popularize about ventricular enlargement being causative for the symptoms considered pathognomonic for this most elusive of diseases, completely ignoring that this enlargement of the ventricles was only seen in an infinitesimal amount of all the patients studied, whilst also ignoring the fact that this enlargment is seen in the brains of many so-called normal, healthy people, a blunder he and the profession has never properly acknowledged.
The other problem is, how do we know Torrey is telling the truth when he shows us images of supposedly unmedicated brains where the parietal lobe displays damage? Given his reputation as a pseudologue, it would be sheer folly to rule out the very real possibility that Torrey is telling porky pies.
For the sake of argumentation, let’s say he is telling the truth (which is highly unlikely). What’s his solution, forcing people with damaged lobes to take lobe damaging drugs? Of course, Torrey remains blissfully ignorant of the damage consequent upon the administration of these neurotoxins, in order not to undercut his position on forced drugging, as well as so he, like so many in his profession, can continue to esteem themselves as that which they are not; healers.
Psychiatrists like Torrey are like Jimmy Savile; in contradistinction to their social reputations as humanitarians, they are actually predators. The truth about the latter has finally been revealed, but people like Torrey continue to prey on the vulnerable, the wretched, the powerless and the abandoned free from proper legal scrutiny and accountability for their actions.
For Torrey, the medical-ethical injunction, primum non nocere, first do no harm, is meaningless. He operates under the tutelage of a different principle, one which more accurately describes what your average psychiatrist does; first, do harm.
You are right, many psychiatrists don’t want to acknowledge the role of trauma. They prefer to trivialise trauma, which is understandable, considering they are in the business of traumatising people.
That’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the years. For at least 100 years now psychiatry has claimed that mental illness is genetic. For the first half of the 20th century the seriously mentally ill were locked away their entire lives due to eugenics policies and many were sterilized as well. Has psychiatry made a case as to how the genes survived? Did most of the seriously mentally ill evade the hospitals? How on Earth did the illnesses survive if they were genetic and yet an entire generation of people with them didn’t have kids?
He also fails to mention that long term exposure to psychiatric drugs result in the evidence he is trying to use to validate his opinion of cause. I suppose it does grant a respite for allegations of professional irresponsibility later on. Oh, and it secures decades of steady income.
Dr. Torrey has still failed to address the core question that your article posed to TAC – why are they utilizing a term ‘anosognosia’ that is used to describe a certain type of parietal lobe damage in neurological patients – to explain the very complex phenomena of ‘lack of insight’ in psychiatric patients?
The two are very clearly not the same thing. Beyond the MRI studies of which brain regions are involved in neurological anosognosia and ‘lack of insight’- patient interview studies reveal that those who have ‘lack of insight’ in psychosis have several psychosocial issues at play. For example when someone says “I’m not sick, I don’t need help” they may be trying to say that they wish to decline care for lack of trust of the physician, or because of prior negative experiences with the mental health system or with medication side effects. (Or because they read Anatomy of an Epidemic and know that the outcomes may actually be higher over the long term without treatment!) When someone says they don’t want treatment, it may also simply mean the person would rather work through their problems on their own without involving mental health professionals. In the case where someone is having grandiose delusions like the one the lady in Lafyette Park was having, these often develop as a psychological defense to block against very traumatic memories that damage one’s self-image.
Dr. Torrey needs to realize that the reason so many of us deny care is not because our brains are anatomically flawed – but because we feel degraded by the patronizing attitudes we receive from those providing the care such as himself. Before he accuses us schizophrenics of having ‘lack of insight’ he needs to look in the mirror – long and hard.
Torrey and TAC again displays their ignorance and stupidity. It it were not for the real devastation he and TAC creates by promoting authoritarianism and fear, one wonders why his irrational comments to a reasonable and critical thinker’s piece even deserve a response.
Anosognosia is an integral component of the self-supporting, self-legitimating interpretative scheme of believers in the scientistic faith of psychiatry.
Whenever the patient or potential patient says something to your average rogue medical professional they deem intolerable, or to be a monstrous irreverence, they conceptualize the individual’s obduracy and resistence to the gospel according to Mental Health Nazis in medical terms, in terms of the patient’s elusive disease.
When on the other hand you say something they want to hear (such as “the drugs you forced me to take have saved my life”), this is met with an abeyance of their critical faculties.
You say what they want you to say, your word is sacrosanct, and used to justify orthodox psychiatric practice. If the patient says, “I am glad you coerced me”, a psychiatric reason for this is not imputed to your words. If on the other hand the patient says “I’m not ill”, “I’m Saint Francis of Assisi” or “I defecate on your profession”, your words are meaningless, or only meaningful within the context of their symptomatic significance.
For example, on that squalid little cyber-rag, the Guffington post, DJ Jaffe regularly draws upon, in support of his bigotry and prescriptions for medicalized violence, studies that have shown that the majority of patients are retrospectively grateful for their mistreatment, which bears eloquent testimony to the point I am making, namely, that your words only matter to these rabid Mental Health maniacs when your thoughts and verbal productions are aligned with the views and desires of the oppressor.
How often does one hear an institutional psychiatrist claim that the patient’s claims that his/her life has been saved by the drugs they were forced to take (for which there is about as much proof as there is for claims made by some that Jesus Christ saved their lives) could be attributable to a “delusional system” or “lack of insight”?
The concept of anosognosia performs the dual function of circumventing the obdurate psychiatric heretic and camouflaging the sheer injustice of psychiatric coercion and violence.
Torrey’s remarks beg the question, where is the evidence of illness in the first place? Oh, I forgot, in Torrey’s world, the anomalous behaviours and beliefs themselves are evidence of illness, much like for people who believed in the existence of witches, certain bodily stigmata, such as a supernumerary nipple, were deemed irrefutable proof that the owner of that body was a witch.
Torrey says, “a woman with schizophrenia sits daily in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, believing she is married to the President and waiting for him to call her to come over. She believes he has to wait to acknowledge her because of the interference of Israeli secret agents. She is very patient and, at night, sleeps on the streets, where she is regularly abused. When offered medication, she adamantly refuses it, saying there is nothing wrong with her. This is anosognosia.” Ipse dixit.
Like many psychiatrists, Torrey ignores the many studies that show the damage to the brains of people because of neuroleptic mistreatment.
Torrey says, “If we believe the woman with schizophrenia sitting in Lafayette park is merely exercising her civil rights to live as she chooses, that is a comforting thought, and we should defend her right to do so. If, on the other hand, we believe she has brain damage secondary to her schizophrenia, which impairs her right to choose, then that is an uncomfortable.”
First off, I don’t believe she has schizophrenia, that is merely imputed to her. Also, note how Torrey concedes in this passage that this is merely a belief. I don’t care what Mr Torrey and his ilk believe. I fail to see why his beliefs should occupy such a privileged position in a hierarchy of beliefs that conveys to those who espouse them the entitlement to go around imposing them on other people. I expect no such privileges and entitlements for my own beliefs, why does Torrey and all the other psychiatrists who impose themselves on others expect them?
“The concept of anosognosia performs the dual function of circumventing the obdurate psychiatric heretic and camouflaging the sheer injustice of psychiatric coercion and violence.”
Your talents are being wasted on this site if I’m the only one who notes this brilliant statement.
An artist must have an audience.
That’s very kind of you, David. I like your posts too.
David, you are not the only one who notices Cledwyn’s brilliance. I too am enthralled with C’s uniquely keen mind. I savor every well-turned phrase and tastefully chosen word, not to mention the gut-busting humor. Would you agree that Cledwyn deserves a wider audience?
I do Athena! I really enjoy the different “voices” on MIA. Cledwyn’s is certainly unique. Of course my own personality and preferences factor in here, but I just really enjoy his comments, insights and above all the humor. As someone who values humor, I appreciate that we can seriously discuss difficult issues without being devoid of mirth. Life without laughter seems a pretty incomplete thing to me. Thanks for commenting Athena.
An absolutely brilliant post. I could only wish to write so well!!!
You are most kind, Belinda, though I don’t think you should be so critical of your own writing. I have already learnt much from your posts.
Dr. Torrey reads MadInAmerica? Cool!
Hi, Dr. Torrey, okay, schizophrenia is a brain disease as you say. Fine. So please characterize that brain disease for us. Is it anything like Alzheimer’s, with established accumulations of protein plaques? Or Parkinson’s, with established loss of dopamine-generating cells? Or Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, established as caused by infectious prions? Admittedly, some neurological disorders are idiopathic, meaning we don’t know for sure what causes them. But can’t you say much useful or specific at all about the nature of what you call the brain disease of schizophrenia?
Are you really asserting that anosognosia can be ascribed to 14 separate biological brain contributors? That seems excessively broad and not very useful. I’m sure you’re familiar with the well-known paper by respected researcher John P. A. Ioannidis titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”. Maybe some of these anosognosia studies should be checked for reproducibility. And after decades of trying, schizophrenia researchers still can’t come up with any clearly established mechanisms, causes, or decent diagnostic biological tests?
Or you could take the attitude that (at least according to us boring secularists) since ALL thought, emotion, motivation, and behavior is generated by the brain, then maybe being excessively closed-minded, or persistently annoying, is a type of “brain disease” too. For most states of mind, there are no distinct boundaries between psychological, neurological, biological.
Even if we hypothetically agree that some person’s thinking is “disordered” but they aren’t aware that it’s “disordered”, what do you suggest we do about it? Force them to take drugs that dull them and can cause permanent tardive dyskinesia? Or drugs that can cause metabolic syndrome and diabetes? And other well-known disabling side effects? How “well” are these drugged patients turning out? What quality of lives do they live?
I don’t agree with everything NIMH director Tom Insel says, but even he agrees that the current drugs don’t work well at all, and it doesn’t look like there are any decent replacements or improvements on the horizon, as the pharmaceutical companies are bailing out on future psychotropic research. And Insel thinks the current DSM diagnostic system is kind of a mess too.
What do you think of the findings of decent numbers of people originally diagnosed with schizophrenia who went on to significantly or completely recover without the use of drugs? Isn’t that a wonderful insight worth researching further? Or do you instead believe that all of those people who recovered actually were misdiagnosed and instead had brief reactive psychosis? If that’s the case, isn’t that a huge wake-up call for psychiatrists that they’re potentially misdiagnosing huge numbers of patients? What do you think of the “supersensitivity” hypothesis by which abruptly stopping neuroleptics can bring on symptoms greater than were ever there originally?
My own tentative belief is: “It’s the wiring, stupid.” Billions of neurons and trillions of connections being made, patterns constantly formed and altered by good experiences and bad, sometimes getting too stuck into unhelpful feedback loops (maybe with a possible dollop of genetic or epigenetic differences influencing to some degree, but not in themselves creating an unavoidable destiny).
The exciting discovery of ongoing considerable neuroplasticity suggests that significant healing might come from healthy interactions, healthy environment, processes of “working through” rather than being dismissed and shamed and drugged for expressing perspectives that bear hallmarks of non-consensus reality, but often carry symbolic meanings for those who will stop to listen. For example, I’m ticked off by numerous accounts of people with psychosis who had real physical injuries or illnesses that were dismissed as delusions and left untreated, just because their descriptions included unusual figurative language that others were unwilling to really hear.
How about it? Drugging may suppress the initial symptoms for some, but at a huge personal cost in long-term quality of life for many. If you really want to help these people rediscover effective and rewarding lives and long-term health, it’s time to look in new directions. Maybe considering more seriously some of the alternative perspectives expressed here might help.
You make the important point that one does not abandon modern concepts of neuroscience when one embraces humanism as a “first line” approach to helping people in distress or have different views of our consensual reality.
Are you familiar with Dr. Torrey’s book “Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present” and his research on acute infection with T. gondii that can produce psychotic symptoms similar to those displayed by persons with schizophrenia?
Here are some links:
Toxoplasma gondii and Schizophrenia
Beware of the cat: Britain’s hidden toxoplasma problem
New research shows 350,000 Britons a year are being infected with pet-borne parasite linked with schizophrenia and increased suicide risk
As a mental health advocate, I appreciate the fact that Dr. Torrey states:
“Whitaker is correct in criticizing the pharmaceutical industry, the overuse of psychiatric medications by physicians and the psychiatric profession for being financially in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry.”
On another review of Anatomy of an Epidemic Dr. Torrey writes:
“In its 396 pages Whitaker got many things right, including criticism of the broad DSM diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses; the reckless prescribing of psychiatric drugs for children; and the prostitution of many psychiatric leaders for the pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, regarding the last, Whitaker may have understated the problem, based on recently released court documents detailing how the pharmaceutical industry secretly controlled the Texas Medication Algorithm Project”
With so many shades of grey in the “anatomy” of this epidemic, it is a great accomplishment to define in black and white the core problems within main stream psychiatry.
Many mental health professionals have conflicting opinions due in part to conflicting interests and lack of awareness/training in alternative modalities.
The journalistic perspective has a strong impact on advocacy and Bob now has a leading role (although he is not an advocate himself).
Many mental health advocates base their agenda on their own personal experiences which vary greatly.
Dr. Torrey admits a lot in those statements, I think Bob should recognize the value Dr. Torrey’s admittance have for mental health advocates concerned with the problems he has put forth in his work.
I can understand why Bob would be upset by Dr. Torrey’s post and I do not challenge his allegations that Dr. Torrey is committing libel and that Bob feels that he is entitled to a libel suit.
For a successful libel suit, Bob has to prove that Dr. Torrey published false statements of fact about him that harmed his reputation.
This is an important aspect as it is Bob’s intent to create a national discussion. This discussion needs to include all sides and Bob must accept criticism. Would it be fair to only include those who agree with Bob’s perspectives and opinions?
What would it mean to mental health advocates if Bob was successful at proving a psychiatrist’s words caused him such great harm that he is entitled to legal recourse?
Mental health advocates should consider how sad it is that a professional journalist and a medical professional have such a strong standing in our legal system and issue that involves the words of a psychiatrist alone can cause a journalist harm.
In the United States, psychiatry is an unregulated power-base of authority. It is a unique professions by which state authority can force consumers to contract services and purchase potentially lethal consumer goods at the taxpayers expense.
I find it disheartening to think of the great harm caused by main stream psychiatry that leaves the families of individuals like Ryan Ehlis and David Crespi with no legal recourse.
The United States needs strong mental health advocates who accurately present the facts and can create a uniform advocacy agenda. A divided advocacy means unequal and unfair representation.
The only organization that fights on the behalf of individuals who have been harmed by psych meds is CCHR and even Bob considers CCHR very ineffective. He wrote this an interview on his opinions of “Why Psychiatry Embraced Drugs”:
“I made a little joke in the book about psychiatry secretly funding scientology, but really, it couldn’t have worked out better for the pharmaceutical companies and biological psychiatry. The reason is that, of course, it delegitimizes criticism. The fact that scientology is so visibly attacking biological psychiatry and attacking psychiatric drugs delegitimizes all criticism. Scientologists clearly do have a cult-like status and they clearly do have an agenda. The fact that they’re so visible makes it very easy for psychiatry and pharmaceutical companies to say, “This is just criticism coming from that crazy group.”
Some of the stuff, they’ve gone into the data and they’ve brought out some information. Because it was scientology and CCHR that was out front with the criticism and raising questions and raising accusations that these drugs were causing suicide and violence, just made it really easy for pharmaceutical industry and Eli Lily to have it dismissed. If we didn’t have Scientology. Imagine it doesn’t exist and there’s no such group raising criticism. The questions around whether Prozac can stir violence or could cause someone to become suicidal or homicidal would have had a lot more traction.”
Posted on Mad in America on 10/29/2012
The difference between Bob and Torrey is that Bob has the science and the research on his side, Torrey has none. The fact that you believe in these drugs and have not read Bob’s work, means that you are simply not able to comprehend what this is all about.
Bob is more than willing to take criticism. Problem is NONE has ever been factual. The ONLY criticism is that we know this stuff works, because we say it does. NO ONE has the right to tell someone to take medications that have NO scientific basis to them. You believe in these drugs and promote there use, because you are too scared to read the truth and find out what is really going on. Much easier to support those who employ you and to tell the people you supposedly support that they need these drugs to keep them well, even though EVERY bit of scientific research says the absolute opposite.
If a doctor or anyone else tells me I need to take medications they better be prepared to back it up with scientific research. Even the FDA does not approve of ANY of these medications as maitanence treatments, although you actively promote them.
Bob has no problem with any court case and is more than willing to debate anyone in the media or elsewhere. Problem is none of the others are willing to turn up. Only have to consider how the supreme court has ruled that forced treatment in the community is illegal, as NO ONE could provide ONE scientific study to support its use. Sure they could bring in the top psychiatrists from all over the world, but they could not produce ONE study to support what they were proposing. Yet we have many that show that these drugs don’t work and people get well when off them.
Bring on the court case, bring on the public debate. Bob would love it for it would get this information out there even more. He has science on his side. Something that psychiatry and you do not have.
I’m not sure why you think that I am a proponent of the use of psychiatric medications.
I am a very honest person, I have suffered harm from psych meds and I have also experienced benefits from them, I volunteer my time to organizations devoted to mental health advocacy and God is all I want on my side.
My father’s death was a result of the overuse of psych meds and ECT. I certainly DO NOT promote their use.
I am a proponent of Integrative Psychiatry/Functional Medicine, alternative therapies and informed consent.
I feel advocacy is needed to support the benefits of these evidence-based modalities so that they will become readily available and paid for by insurance.
To me transparency is important in mental health advocacy and I make every attempt to reply to comments in respectful and clear manner.
I do own a copy of Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill that I paid $17.50 +tax for.
I am disappointed that this book outlines the history of psychiatry without acknowledging Dr. Abram Hoffer, Dr. Linus Pauling or Orthomolecular psychiatry.
The book contains a lot of information but is written with many shades of gray. There are no black and white well-defined conclusions.
The book skips over the historical significance of Buck v. Bell, a case that directly contributed to the massive unregulated power-base of authority psychiatry has in our society today.
Bob would have much more knowledge of good science, good medicine and fair treatment of the “mentally ill” if he spent some time learning from doctors who practice Integrative Medicine.
Bob is not a mental health advocate and he does not take sides between “pro-psychiatry” and “anti-psychiatry”.
Bob has many anti-psychiatry supporters on his side but keep in mind in order to keep his journalistic perspective and integrity he must remain neutral an he is not on their side.
The doctor who helped me the most was Dr. Charles Gant. I have encouraged Bob and Dr. Mark Foster to learn more about Integrative Medicine. This past week Dr. Foster posted on his Facebook page that he was attending a conference on Integrative Medicine. I was very happy to hear that as even Bob stated “I hope that integrative psychiatry becomes the future.”
Belinda, because you are taking the time to respond to my posts, I hope that you will take the time to learn more about my perspective that is inline with that of Dr. Charles Gant. Here is one of his videos.
Posted on Mad in America dot com on 10/30/2012
Thank you for informing MiA readers of the success and benefits of Functional Medicine, Orthomolecular Medicine, Environmental Medicine and other holistic approaches that work well for many people.
As a former member of Safe Harbor’s Integrative Psychiatry group, I had the opportunity to read many of the comments from doctors whom have dedicated their lives to helping people get to the root cause of their “mental” ilness, and find deep healing with non-drug approaches.
I hope we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, in the “post-psychiatry” era we are now entering.
More here. –
Hi Sandra, thanks for that great post. I commend you for answering Torrey rigid beliefs about schizophrenia with a problem-solving attitude. One major criteria to determine that a discourse is grounded in science is the focus on problem-solving rather than unverifiable explanations. So on scientific grounds, you are definitely more convincing than Torrey (and on many other grounds too).
Torrey seems to misunderstand the monist concept, and implies that associating some behavioral or thinking deficit with some brain anatomy is sufficient by itself to identify a disease process that is purely “biological” in its etiology or in its solutions (that would still be very crippled thinking, even if the associations were robust). Torrey seems to be half-dualist/half-monist (a confused mode of thinking).
It is understandable for families or patients to miss the implications of the common saying: “mental illness is a biologically-based brain disease, not a character flaw”. But people like Torrey should tell us whether, in their opinion, character flaws, or character virtues, or any learning or thinking are independent of any cellular-level activity or organization of the brain. Does the process of developing a character flaw happen without brain involvement?
Linking brain activity with thinking or behavior does not mean any of those has been explained or solved, it only confirms than spirit emerges from matter, and that matter maps the spirit (a monist perspective). By itself, that linking does not tell anything about etiology or what to do about the situation. By Torrey’s logic, showing differences between the brains of a pianist and a non-musician would be sufficient to make piano teaching and learning a purely bio-medical matter.
Thanks for your comments. It is interesting how many people who percevie themselves to be monists, nevertheless, espouse dualist ideas. Torrey addresses this but not in a way that clearly clarifies how anaosognosia as he defines it is clearly distinct from the concept of denial as he uses it. You articulate this well.
Is the woman on the street story a fabrication or a real-life situation? I’m sure it makes a world of difference.
Hugh Prather says: see the sanity in people.
From his book, “there is a place where you are not alone” – published in 1980, categorized as PSYCHOLOGY/RELIGION
NOTES ON BEING TRULY HELPFUL
We can’t judge people’s problems without judging people. I know a woman who was very ill and went unhelped for days because her friends believed all her symptoms were caused by drinking. Because she was an alcoholic it was thought that a specialized kind of assistance was needed and they were not qualified to give it. If they had classified her nausea, dizziness, etc., as food poisoning they wouldn’t have waited to offer their help.
For someone to be truly helpful he cannot decide beforehand what is needed, and this what we do when we categorize problems and disregard the particular needs of the people who have them. If a person is in pain it is certainly all right to offer help. If we will listen, he will show us how to comfort him. It is the person who must be remembered and not what we think we have learned about his classification.
~ AN EXAMPLE
A woman in her late sixties called me and said there were several men, who, at night, waited outside her windows and inside the wall that was common to her house and the house next door. They would remain there until she fell asleep and then quietly break into her house and molest her, without ever waking her. She said every night she tried to stay up, but even if she managed to remain awake until two or three in the morning, they would still come in. She said she had told her doctor about it and that she had called the police, who had come out many times but now would no longer come.
This was one of the first times someone had asked me for help who I thought was crazy, and I was slightly panicked. My first thought was that I had no business trying to help her. Possibly I should call the agency that handled commitments, because she might be dangerous. But something in the woman’s voice reached out to my own sanity and I felt her deep confusion and pain. By the end of the conversation she had handed me a lesson in humanity that was so valuable I had tears in my eyes. So often we forget that people who as our help and patience have come to bless us.
After she had told me her story and had repeated parts of it several times, I asked her if she thought of herself as religious. She said, “Oh, yes!” She told me she had prayed so many times to God about this and she wondered if He heard her. I assured her He did, but I said that it was not enough that she asked God for help, but that she must listen to His answer. He would not force her to protect herself, but He would guide her unfailingly. Every time she had a question about what to do, she must ask it to God and then listen quietly for the peaceful sense of direction she would feel within her.
As you know by now, I use the word “God”. It has very deep and personal meaning for me. However, I do not use it if I sense that the person I am talking to objects to it. And it is, of course, not necessary that you use it even with a religious person if for you that would feel dishonest. What must be recognized though, is that no one is completely insane. There is a part of our minds that remains totally healthy. And that part can be turned to with confidence by anyone.
I was reminding the woman of what she already knew. We had come together only to help each other remember. Together we transferred a lesson we knew well to a new part of our lives. I pointed to where her sanity could be found, but it was her call that showed me mine. My original mistake was identical to hers. It could not have been an accident that I received her call.
The police, I said, were just like her and me. They could not be expected to make no mistakes at all. But God will not fail you. Ask Him about the windows and doors. Let Him tell you which lights to leave on. Don’t decide for yourself when to fall asleep but let God guide you. And ask Him to stand over you and protect you through the night. No loving parent would do less.
The woman started crying. She said no one knew how frightened she had been with this. As she talked I realized how arrogant had been my original assumption that hers was not a “real” problem. How can we judge how bitter is another’s need? She thanked me for reminding her of God’s willingness, and she said, “Tonight I will sleep in peace.”
~ FIELD NOTES
It is not his insanity that I seek to make his central concern, but his sanity. Nor am I here to give him his sanity, but only to show him mine. Sanity contains no attack.
My instructions and advice will not provide him with a steady source of strength, but his own mind will.
He has reason for trusting his mind as a whole and for distrusting it when he relies on it only in part, and he can easily and quickly tell the difference by how he feels. If he is divided between full utilization of his mind and partial reliance on other people’s “shoulds” and “ought-to’s”, he will feel conflicted and scared. He will know he is practicing trust when he is comfortable and no one is his enemy.
I am not called upon to react to another’s insanity. I do not pretend it didn’t happen nor do I try to attack it with logic. I am not at all interested in our differences. What I look for is that which is clearly recognizable as me, and I welcome it like a brother. No matter how bizarre is another’s behavior, I can safely assume that in the center of it all is a calm and bemused eye that sees directly into my true intent.
This encounter will be to me what I make of it.
There is a growing awareness that no one is a victim. Many now recognize that at least small accidents and minor illnesses are often decisions. Yet there are two mistaken assumptions that sometimes accompany the recognition that each of us “creates his own reality” and is responsible for his life experiences. They are that accidents and disease are guilty decisions and that we are not individually responsible if someone else chooses to be sick or injured. These assumptions are as inconsistent as they are unfair.
If my illness is a decision, then it begins in my mind. If it is a guilty decision and I am wrong for choosing to be sick, then my mind does not function properly and I am left without recourse or hope. But if illness is a type of question, then it will lead to an answer. If it is a means I choose to take the next step, then to judge it as a separate reality and call it sinister is to perceive only the place from which I began, the door I have closed behind me, but it is to miss entirely the direction in which I now walk.
Is any experience meaningless and unplanned? If someone calls for help, do I stop to comment on how loud he is and the shrillness of his pitch? Do I say to him or think, “There is no purpose in my hearing your cry; I find myself in your presence by coincidence”?
If I am not a victim of my own disease, can I be a victim of yours? If I say I do not want to be around your negative mental state, then I am assuming our minds connect, and, if they connect, you must be equally affected by my mind. Instead of trying to prove which mind is “higher”, wouldn’t it be helpful to us both to say that because our minds touch, we share the problem together? That no one is guilty? And that we are here to help each other see that?
I have now removed the arbitrary limit I had placed on my responsibility: that your illness is no accident but your presence is. Now I am free to focus on healing myself rather than changing you, because I wish to extend a mental state of comfort and peace and not one of accusation. I take no pleasure in our apparent discrepancy. I wish you well. Your need for healing serves only to tell me of my own, and I am happy to accept healing for myself so I may offer it in gratitude to you.
~ AN EXAMPLE
A woman’s cat became acutely sick. She took it to her vet who, on the basis of biopsies sent to a laboratory, diagnosed two forms of cancer: advanced lymphoma and feline leukemia. He said the latter was highly contagious to other cats and possibly to humans and that her cat should be put to sleep immediately.
The woman believed in the possibility of mental healing, and she called me and my wife to assist her. By this time, her cat had stopped eating, had started to smell and to lose it’s fur and had crawled under the woman’s bed and would not come out. Within two days the cat seemed healthy and back to normal in all respects, and within two weeks, when my wife and I saw it, its coat was rich and radiant and it appeared more beautiful than it had ever been. Nothing can be claimed medically because the cat was never taken back for further diagnosis.
Briefly stated, the woman’s approach included this change in her perception: she decided to not make healing the cat her goal. Instead, all of her choices would be in the present, and healing her own attitude would be sufficient. She would allow her quiet sense of inner guidance to direct her in everything, including whether or not to allow the vet to kill the cat.
She began to look calmly at her thoughts about her cat, and everyone who came to mind, in order to discover which thoughts were anxious and which were harmless and which were kind. She did not attempt to fight her fearful thoughts, and whenever she noticed herself doing battle with them she stopped. To fight them would be to claim them as part of her being. I may choose fear but I do not become it. She simply practiced seeing that anxious sympathy, defensiveness, guilt and anger did not offer her anything she wanted.
The recognition that there are no benefits in continuing a mental attack is all that is necessary to redirect the mind to peace. Peace is the state to which the mind instinctively returns.
As she practiced this, a moment came when she unexpectedly felt herself flooded with appreciation and love for her cat. It happened at a time when she was looking at it under the bed. She felt very happy and safe and she knew the cat would be all right no matter what happened. It didn’t matter if the cat died because she knew that somehow it was being cared for. She walked away from the bed thinking, “Nothing needs to happen to that cat”. Within an hour it had come out from under the bed and started eating, but that too seemed unimportant. She had seen something natural and completely fair within the cat and she knew she could trust it.
~ FIELD NOTES
Pain seems continuous only in retrospect. If watched carefully and calmly at the time it is occurring, it will quickly be noticed that there are numerous breaks in the pain while the mind momentarily focuses on something else. Then the pain is almost remembered back on course.
I can do more to relieve another’s suffering by being directly and practically helpful in the way he will understand and appreciate most than I can by concerning myself with whatever mental errors I suspect he is entertaining. Kindness is whatever I perceive as being received as kindness. “He won’t appreciate this but it is for his own good” is an approach that brings distressing results for both the giver and the receiver. It doesn’t matter whether resentment “causes” arthritis, depression “causes” colds, etc. Even if that were so, what does that have to do with me? The state of my mind, not his, is my proper concern. In that respect, gentleness and a sincere willingness to release pain in the most appreciated way possible will do more to heal my vision than endless tinkering with another’s faults.
Kindness is not a tone of voice or certain words and gestures. If guilt is behind my “kind” acts, whatever I do or withhold doing will be perceived by the other person as an attack. He will feel uncomfortable because he will sense that I think he is damaged. I wish him good because he is good.
I don’t know if the story is real or not but I’ve been in a couple psych units as an adult and have talked to people facing and losing forced drugging battles and absolutely none of them were absolutely anything like that at all. Most of them seemed perfectly normal, a couple of them were agitated. Most of them lived with upset family members, which had more to do with anything.
As a psychiatrist I must confess to being more than a little disturbed by F. Torrey and his revisionist view of science as well as his ability to sling such stones from within the confines of such a fragile Glass house.
I personally thing anosagnosia is being misapprproiated as a term for ‘lack of insight’ in psychiatric disturbance and, as such, simply demonstrates lazy thinking and back to front logic which would make Hughling’s Jackson turn in his grave.
Just to clarify a few points I have never read the national geographic though enjoy some of the photography within it’s pages.
I think this following sentence is deeply offence and misogynist “Another woman, trained as a mental health professional, briefly examines some scientific data and concludes it is wrong because it conflicts with her deeply held social belief system. This is denial.” To suggest that all women are unable to appraise a scientific paper is just so out of step with contemporary views on sexual equality it makes it hard for me to take anything F. Torrey has to say seriously.
I am a mental health professional and I am not convinced about the biological basis of psychiatric illness. Does this make me a denier? I rather think like Sandra that instead of denying I struggle daily with big and complex issues and trying to make sense of what is essentially a very murky area of medicine. Most of all I want what is best for my patients and I can see that so many of them have been hurt by a system that claims to be helping them. As such anyone who refuses to hear the voices of those that have been through the system writing off their refusal to take drugs as a neurogical disorder rather than a personal choice to avoid troubling side effects is the one who is in denial.
Thankyou for showing us that there is more than one psychiatrist on the planet who is able to think logically!!!
I have learned so much from everyone on this website. It has deepened my understanding of the nature of the distress people experience. I will confess, however, that it is also good to hear from a colleague. I know that I am not the only psychiatrist who is grappling with these important questions and I hope others notice your voice on this site. Being open here about my views has been one of the most challenging but also rewarding experiences of my career.
I did not think of Dr. Torrey’s comments as misogynistic, I think he would have applied this to a man as well. I found it to be patronizing but I suspect he would dismiss both men and women who challenge his views. He is anti-intellectual with a veneer of “scientitism”(I do not think that is a word but I mean that he appropriates the language of science without being truly scientific).
Thank you. And thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment. It is deeply appreciated.
I really admire your courage with being open on this site and I am thankful to know that other psychiatrists are also questioning.
I do also believe that Torrey has very little scientific understanding, but he can’t understand that. Put simply anyone who disagrees with him is labelled as anti-scientific, even though he has no science to back up what he says.
I think that you are being very generous to Dr. torrey re: his sexism. Anti-intellectual with a veneer of ‘scientism’ (i like your neologism) does sound like a dangerous world view though, especially when you are in a postition of power. And thanks for the appreciation and to Belinda too. There are a few of us who have ‘seen through psychiatry’ as Szaz says.
Great response. I too have been attacked by Dr. Torrey. He has saId I give people false hope.
When he he says people labeled with psychosis lack insight, I say we are showing good judgement
After all who should accept the false predictions of conventional psychiatry that we have a life-
long brain defect for which we need life- long meds and life-long supervision. Fortunately
neither I nor my family or DC-trained psychiatrist believed such pronouncements. I am happy to report that I went on to become a psychiatrist and I M proud of my 30 years of work as a
psychiatrist. I am not anti-psychiatry, I admire many psychiatrists, it’s just sad
The profession has lost its heart and reason.
I am honored to be in your company. You have taught me so much.
Norman, Dan, Sandra,
Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!
The profession has lost its heart and reason??
When was the “golden era”? Just curious. Thanks in advance.
Re: The “golden era”
The only success thus far seems to have come from providing shelter, nutrition and good old-fashioned love (common sense stuff).
In other words, I’ve asked myself the same question… so have *many* others!
Any waý why shouldn’t Michelle Obama sit in the park opposite the white house?
Torrey, soul snatcher and brain thief?
Torrey is the founder and Executive Director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI). The SMRI has been sued for allegedly taking brains for use in research without proper consent.
Doesn’t surprise me at all. I may be mistaken, but isn’t this the same guy who ran around at seminars with preserved cat brains? The man is a quack but unfortunately not enough people realize this at this time.
I suspect that in a fair world Torrey would be a nobody. The TAC funding comes almost entirely from the Theodore and Veda Stanley Family Foundation. They get all their money from MBI http://www.mbi-inc.com/profile.asp . MBI markets tat like this http://www.danburymint.com/
If it were not for the largess of this one sadly misguided foundation I doubt anyone would have heard of Torrey Fuller.
You’re not an *advocate* for the *severely mentally ill* – you’re a tyrant. There is simply no *real* science to justify forced “teatment” and more importantly, no *real* law.
As Grace Jackson, M.D. points out, forced “teatment” is a violation of the 1st, 8th and 14th amendments of the Constitution. –
IMO,taking toxic drugs is *not* the answer to overcoming toxic relationships or past life traumas. The symptoms our society calls “severe mental illness” can come from a variety of underlying physical conditions and/or emotional states, and are best dealt with by processing past traumas, building better relationships. Nutrition, exercise, meditation and other non-drug options are key ways people recover.
We live in a free country. And you have no right to continue to *force* a failed paradigm of care on others. If you want to burn your brain out with toxic drugs, be my guest. But leave my brothers and sisters alone!
And tell D.J. Jaffe and your colleagues to do the same!
“No” means “no”!
Mr. Torrey, It’s time to admit it. You don’t understand anymore about the way I think than when you started all those years ago, and you cling to the same failed and hopeless theories like repeating the same mistake can protect you. Admitting you are wrong means people like me are no longer safely confined to label and tucked neatly away in little drawers where you don’t have to see us. That’s the APA’s guiding star. Keep the mentally ill out of sight and compliant, and you’ve distanced yourselves so completely that it doesn’t even occur to you that that isn’t living. Its storage. It can’t prepare you for the reality of the outside world. All those carefully worded, upbeat catchphrases… But it creates a never ending cycle because the world is not going to change for us. Perhaps, your theories work if you trap us inside and never let us out again?