About Being Paul Revere

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A reader asked why more psychiatrists don’t speak up louder against psychiatric drugs. He said there’s enough harm being done each day to those taking psychiatric drugs that not speaking up is like being a “good German”.

I’d like to think there’s someone in charge who could sound the alarm. It’s nice to imagine that working doctors have the power and freedom to speak up in a forceful and visible manner. If such a doctor exists, it’s not a psychiatrist who works in the trenches. A working doctor today is not in a position to be Paul Revere.

There is no doctor’s union. Every worker without a union is easy to chop off and replace like a malfunctioning cog. This leaves the individual cog to bear the devastating consequences alone. Doctors are wage-slaves with debt shackles and family hostages like everyone else. Advanced degrees and years of experience confer no protection against a lifetime of being unemployed.

As a doctor-employee, I wasn’t often invited to meetings. I wasn’t asked how I thought things were working. I was seldom asked how things should be done. I was told that I was “too expensive” a worker to be in meetings. Meetings took me away from the purpose for which I’d been hired. I’d been hired to shovel prescriptions in billable units as fast as I could. Period.

Doctor work today is high-speed prescription writing, test ordering and report typing. Nothing more is allowed.

Even doctors who are “medical directors”, direct little. They also have to earn their keep by shoveling prescriptions. They are sometimes in charge of physician recruitment and retention to keep the trenches full. They are the ultimate coverage for prescription refills.

Over the years, I’ve spoken up at jobs about clear and immediate dangers in patient care. I’ve written and talked my way all the way to the CEO in my efforts to protect patients. Each time, the final outcome was that I could either play along or leave. Period.

There’s no “whistle blower protection” except for obvious federal billing fraud. Given the current lack of protection afforded Federal whistle-blowers in the national arena, I wonder if this government-mandated “whistle-blower protection” would protect any tweeter.

At the same time, I think psychiatrists and other professionals are speaking up. But, out of necessity, they’re speaking up in private conversations with patients and colleagues. Even this underground resistance carries with it the risk of being tossed on a permanent junk heap.

Every psychiatrist, nurse practitioner or primary care doctor who says “no” to pressure to prescribe more drugs is speaking up.

Every medical and mental health provider who has a personal chat with a patient to discourage them from hooking their mouth to the American pill pipeline is speaking up.

Every therapist and doctor who offers non-pill treatment alternatives, who gives genuine support and who re-frames natural human emotional and behavioral responses is speaking up.

Each time one person’s drug dose is lowered, this is speaking up.

These all count.

* * * * * * *

Thanks for reading, thinking and writing.

Alice de Saavedra Keys MD

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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.

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107 COMMENTS

    • Duane,
      I always like it when you stop in here. Thanks for your support of my writing.

      I’ll take a stab at answering what I think is your question. How do people choose to become doctors and how is psychiatry chosen as a specialty? I can only answer this for myself. I bet everyone has their own answers and that these may have changed over time.

      I wanted to find a field in which I could both do good for people and have an independent business of my own. As a woman, I was astonished to find the field of medicine available to me. I planned primary care.

      I was led to believe that entrance into medical school was highly competitive. “Ten applicants per seat” in a school. But once in, I discovered that every classmate had applied to 10-20 schools and that every seat was not taken in my school.

      I was a good student and was accepted to both schools I applied for. The bottom line was, could I come up with the cash. Money equaled in. No money equaled not in. I was penniless. I had to borrow a LOT.

      Psychiatry was the poor step-child of medicine when I was lining up professional training. It’s still low in esteem among medical professionals and at the bottom for income.

      When I was looking at changing to psychiatry, I was told the field drew from the bottom of the medical class and encouraged to stay with neurology. I don’t know if this was true.

      When I thought to go into psychiatry, it was a different profession than it has become. I had to overcome my own prejudices against the field to follow my heart into psychiatry. I love people. I like to get to know them. At the time, it seemed to have the most opportunities to have long term relationships with patients and help them toward better lives.

      If psychiatry were then what it is now, I would not have become a psychiatrist.

      I don’t know what questions students are asking today. Psychiatry is being misrepresented as a field with lots of new scientific breakthroughs. I suppose if one is willing to be a prescription mill, one can make a good living.

      I wonder if the folks attracted to psychiatry now may be different than 30 years ago.

      All the best. Keep reading,thinking and writing.
      Alice

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      • Re: “Psychiatry is being misrepresented as a field with lots of new scientific breakthroughs.”

        You’re making my point, Alice.
        *Why* aren’t these young people asking the tough questions in medical schools – to themselves and to their professors?

        Anyone who reads… anyone who pays attention it would seem, would *have* to know that the simple biological model makes no sense. It’s not only void of science, it’s void of common sense.

        From the University of Texas Medical Branch/Galveston (UTMB – the home of the infamous Karen Wagner, M.D.):

        “We, in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, are dedicated to excellence in education, clinical service, and research in psychiatry. Scientific discoveries have led to substantial progress in the diagnosis and the treatment of some of the most disabling diseases known to human kind. Our faculty, house staff, and medical students are involved in uncovering of this new knowledge, disseminating it, and providing the most modern care available. We are proud of our program and are pleased for your interest in it. Let us know if we can be helpful to you.”

        Really?
        Are you *kidding* me?!

        Duane

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      • “The average income of a Psychiatrist was $167,610 as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
        “The factors that determine the salary for this psychiatric career include location of employment, amount of experience, and type of practice. For example, a Psychiatrist working for a government agency earns an average salary of $196,020, while others employed by residential or outpatient care facilities average between $180,460 and $188,210 per year. Psychiatrists working in Oregon — the top-paying state for this field — earn an average of $229,210 per year. ”
        http://www.insidejobs.com/articles/how-much-does-a-psychiatrist-make

        “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for family and general practitioners as of May 2010 was $173,860”
        http://degreedirectory.org/articles/Whats_the_Average_Salary_of_a_Family_Practice_Doctor.html

        So the difference is a nice big screen TV or a used car. That’s not a big difference at all.

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    • Duane,

      I was thrilled to read that some Harvard medical students caught on that their professors were delivering drug company tainted information in their classes and started a big protest. This led many sympathetic professors to join their cause including the famous Dr. Marcia Angell, author of THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DRUG COMPANIES, and former editor of the formerly prestigious NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE before it prostituted itself to BIG PHARMA and fired Dr. Angell for protesting such selling out. Unfortunately, it seemed to focus on medical students other than psychiatrists, but as with OCCUPY WALLSTREET, where there is a will (and ethics) there’s a way!

      Here is the hyperlink to the NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE about this student led drug company infested Harvard education protest:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/business/03medschool.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&emc=eta1

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      • Donna,
        Good for the students for noticing and speaking up. I wonder what the impact this will have on their job choices. I wonder where Dr. Angell is now. If she was able to get another job.

        The pharmaceutical influence is all through medicine. It is not just psychiatry. We all have to speak up together.

        Thanks for pointing this one out.

        Alice

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        • Hi Alice,

          I just checked out Dr. Marcia Angell’s bio at Wikpedia and she is still teaching at Harvard and has a very, very impressive background and is highly respected as a medical authority at the age of 73. This article shows that she has been fighting against our horrible medical system for a long, long time and I give her a great deal of credit for that as I said below.

          Here is her bio:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcia_Angell

          It is quite “depressing,” but validating for Dr. Angell that the BIG PHARMA hack criticizing her for pointing out that most drugs were developed by government agencies uses the useless but deadly SSRI antidepressants that BIG PHARMA “developed” so well as a supposed argument against her premise. What a farce; the only development was bogus BIG PHARMA ad ploys of junk science claims of “chemical imbalances” to push THE EMPEROR’S NEW DRUGS, the book that exposed they are no better than placebos, so the horrible, dangerous side effects can’t be justified. But, BIG PHARMA made billions anyway.

          I think many realize the health system is broken, but after seeing a video on how corrupt Congress members sold us out to BIG PHARMA and went on to get lucrative jobs as BIG PHARMA lobbyists, our more broken government needs to be addressed if there is to be any hope for the health and other broken systems hijacked by the latest robber barrons in my opinion.

          Thanks for responding.

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          • Donna,
            Thanks for checking on her. I was worried.

            Thanks also for your clear thoughts and writing. I think we’ve all known for a long time that the government is no longer by or for the people.

            I recently heard that the woman who drafted our new Obama plan went back to work for the big insurance company for a very high salary… millions a year. I can only hope this is a foul rumor.

            Alice

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        • Yes, the drugs permeate all of medicine and not just psychiatry. I have to battle my nurse practitioner every time I see her to keep her from putting me on some new drug. Since my stint in a state hospital I try to take as few pills as possible and she gets exasperrated with me because of it.

          Since I have no insurance I have to use the services of a clinic which charges people on a sliding scale. I prefer the clinic and my nurse practitioner precisely for the reason that she takes all the time that I need to talk with her about what’s going on with my health. This would not be the case if I went to the new clinic where my old FP doctor now works. You’re lucky of you get fifteen minutes, after waiting an hour or more to see him, and the end result is that you get a script for some pill. I like my clinic for the poor and my nurse practitioner!

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          • Stephen,
            I have had my own primary care doc dancing in circles of frustration over my unwillingness to gobble pills. He has always declined the research papers that support my stance. I’m written up as being non-compliant with his recommendation.

            I’m surprised the free clinic has the time to take. Our public clinics are overwhelmed and underfunded with four patients per hour minimum and scripts at the end. You are lucky. Hang on to this while you can.

            Alice

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  1. All these conversations are important.

    In the UK there is the Critical Psychiatry network which acts as a kind of union, more of a professional network. It in some way helps psychiatrist resist.

    I’m wondering if something similar exists in the USA?

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    • Although I think even they get leaned on by thier employers if they threaten the party line too much. A leading light said they all work in teams so trying to suggest anything but medication can be fraught, pressumably with worries about lossing a job or not getting promotion as you say.

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    • John.
      No doctors in the US have anything resembling employment protection. We are treated like interchangeable parts.

      There is only the APA as a professional organization for psychiatry and a medical board that keeps track of professional violations and licensing in each state.

      Perhaps the academics have some? I didn’t when I was a Federal employee on the academic track in the late 80’s.

      These days psychiatrists are treated as interchangeable parts with anyone else willing to write the prescriptions. Nurse practitioners, pediatricians, primary care, doc in a box, naturopaths, physician assistants are all the same. All are referred to as “prescribers” and called “the doctor” by pharmacists. The “prescriber” work goes to the lowest bidder.

      The only job offer (not in writing) I’ve had in two yuears worked out to three bucks an hour for the time they expected coverage.

      Alice

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  2. Thanks Alice, for posting your thoughts on this. It’s great to see you are one of the people speaking out.

    I think we need to expand the discussion to address the question of why more psychologists, social workers etc. aren’t speaking out. Many of these people are in private practice, there is no one to fire them, yet they keep quiet.

    We really need a lot of voices speaking up and supporting each other if big change is to happen.

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    • I agree with you, Ron. It’s still pretty quiet out here in Mental Health Land. Getting better, but I still feel like the guy in Bermuda shorts at the black tie dinner most of the time.

      I was recently at a meeting discussing the lower age limit for an automatic review if a foster kid was prescribed certain drug categories. When they asked if 6 made sense as a lowest age for antidepressants, I said, “There is no evidence base for the use of antidepressants in a child under 6.” No response. I said it again, louder. Again, no response. They’d given me studies on earlier points when I’d raised them, but not a word here. My read is they all knew I was 100% correct, but nobody wanted to talk about it. Too uncomfortable, I guess.

      But that’s what we’re up against. Denial, plain and simple. People know what’s happening isn’t right, but we’re not supposed to talk about it. Most people, having received this treatment, will never mention it again. Of course, I’m not most people…

      —– Steve

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      • Steve,
        Thank you so much for speaking up against the drugging of children. I cannot thank you enough.

        This is a really important point you make:

        “People know what’s happening isn’t right, but we’re not supposed to talk about it.”

        All it takes for evil to grow is for good people to remain silent.

        Thanks for your support.
        Alice

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    • Ron,

      Thanks for visiting and joining this conversation. I appreciate your support of my writing.

      Yes. I agree. There needs to be a lot of speaking out all the way around. My experience during private practice years was that psychologists, social workers and therapists were big proponents of drugs.

      My view of this would be slanted, though, because that was why I heard from them. They wanted me to give drugs to patients.

      Thanks for staying in touch.
      Alice

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  3. Dear Alice, I enjoy your writing and your thoughts. I became a Social Worker at the same time you entered the Psych field. It was a different time.I also dropped out of my field because of what it had become. Unfortunately for me, I became ill and didn’t realize the massive changes in the Mental Health field. I wasted ten years of my life following the dictates of the system. I had known about the Psych survivor movement but only in passing and I did not appreciate the realms of abuse patients were thrown into by locked wards and forced treatment. I know now and what to speak up. Sometimes a seclusion room can be a saving grace for freedom work.

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    • mcoma,
      Thanks for stopping by and joining our conversation. I feel supported by your kind words about my writing.

      Yes. Things have changed a lot. Too much.

      Thanks for your words. Written words are powerful. Spoken words, more so. Keep speaking up.

      All the best.

      Alice

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  4. My sister, a psychiatrist for the past 20 years, had her entire Ivy League education and medical school paid for by our father. She graduated without a cent of debt. She has a beautiful house in the suburbs, three healthy well-adjusted kids, and derives a lot of satisfaction from the social standing and respect that one gets from being a doctor (even a psychiatrist). She has tremendous skills and would be a success at whatever she chose. Her husband works on Wall Street and is very well paid. And she still won’t criticize psychiatry publicly, even though she has serious reservations about the effects of some drugs. Let’s face it, not all psychiatrists are forced to keep quiet by a life of indentured servitude. Some are just too cowardly to risk their social standing by challenging the mainstream.

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    • Rachel,
      Thanks for this alternate perspective. I’m best at speaking from my own experiences. It’s good to hear others.

      There must be some people living the American dream or we’d all wake up, I suppose.

      My own speculation: A lovely looking life frequently means big debt to service every month. Over the years there have been many loan brokers willing to mortgage me an enormous shiny life. If I had taken them up on it, I may not be speaking up here today.

      If a person with an expensive shiny lifestyle speaks up, expensive shiny lives vanish pretty fast.

      Then what?

      Thanks for checking in here. All the best.
      Alice

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      • Now a feature on UK Radio 4 this morning talked about the destruction of the middle class. Basically it is a fall out of the deregulation of the banking sector. It lead to a mortgage bubble and endless personal debt (built on the mortgage bubble). So house prices, whether through mortgage or through rents which are tied into mortgages but wages went up a lot slower.

        Then it all collapesd in the banking crisis.

        So all the privilages of being middle class are under threat: owning a house being a big one.

        That is why Occypy was able to brng together middle and working class people.

        See, we’re back to the catastrophe of neo-liberal economics again.

        Privitise, deregulate, turn things over the the private sector in the name of efficiency and wait for everyone, or almost everyone to suffer as greed takes over from rationality and fairnes.

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        • John,

          Thanks so much for your post.

          There are days I think I’m the only one that sees what’s been happening. People that I meet that sort of get it are in “duck and cover” mode. I suppose if I were more clever I would be as well.

          We’ve made laws (international free trade agreements) that allow corporations to travel internationally with more ease than any person.

          Poor India(per Ms. Shiva) is in the middle of a fight for its life against agribusiness and GMO seeds that are killing farmers. They’ve been fighting to save Himalayan forests so they can maintain water supplies and are up against the largest steel manufacturing plant in the world that’s been planned there.

          Where I am, the occupy movement has been swept away. The grass grows thick and green on the government lawns where the occupiers camped.

          It’s all words on paper though. Remember this. Corporations are given life by our words.

          Alice

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          • Indeed, Occupy was a flash in the pan, but it had a big impact. Perhaps it is best not to see it as a big battle but a skirmish in the long struggle?

            Corporations are given life through government words. I say to them, “Stop being so silly,” but they don’t always listen.

            Meanwhile, here is a little song and rather in your face video to hopefully chear you up (well the songs chipper the video is a bit confrontationally grim): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJTcoKl0aN4

            Report comment

    • None are forced to keep quiet. No psychiatrist operates under external compulsion. They are not literally captives of the system. True, the role of an individual within oppressive, hierarchical institutions is carefully circumscribed as to often deny scope for individual choice and discretion, but no one’s forcing them at gunpoint to keep quiet.

      What’s the worse that can happen? Well, they might lose their job. Unlike those of us who have been consigned to the quasi-leprous, socially dead community of “mentally ill” unpeople, there’d be employers willing to take them on in some job which, although it perhaps wouldn’t bring the psychological gains that accrue to power and privilege, would perhaps allow them to exist in good conscience.

      Personally, I think there are far too many psychiatrists paying a purely verbal homage to the need for change, whilst leveraging the system for all its worth, keeping humanitarian, liberal principles ostentatiously on the end of their tongues without feeling the emotions they evoke.

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      • Dear Madness of C.

        Yes. Job loss is a real consequence of speaking up. Finding another job may be limited to a complete change of profession, rather like refugee doctors in a foreign country that end up working in restaurants.

        I have certainly heard “purely verbal homage to the need for change” from managers in clinics only to be told that my views are “too radical” for me to be useful around the place. More than once. In more than one state.

        I think of these as “mission statements”. Mission statements are fine marketing tools but may not reflect what actually happens.

        I couldn’t know the feelings they may have felt about the ideals they espoused or the chains they may have felt they wore.

        When evaluating expressed intentions and ideals, I monitor behavioral output. Watch for them to walk the walk. Or not.

        I think the divide between stated values and behavioral output is part of a larger issue in our country today. We have all learned to say what we think the person in authority or the person we want to please would like to hear. For example, when people hear that I’m vegetarian, many say that they want to be or wish they were or almost are or will soon be vegetarian. It doesn’t slow their burger consumption one bit. Personally, I prefer the honest meat eater.

        That which passes for liberal ideals today seems a thin veneer or paint job over something else to me. Perhaps there’s enough paint to settle personal unease at the rising tide of the homeless and disenfranchised poor. But it’s not enough to pay more taxes to care for the poor or enough to insist the budget throttle back on military spending to care for the poor.

        Watch the walk if you want to know what a person’s highest ideals are. If it walks like a duck…

        Thanks for stimulating more of my thoughts with your comment.
        Keep writing.
        Alice

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  5. I appreciate you’re speaking out and asking these questions, Alice. Your essay brings to mind a book by Colin Ross “The Great Psychiatry Scam” that a friend suggested but I’ve not yet read.

    Its a slow process but perhaps as “providers” of all income brackets start speaking up perhaps more will as time goes on.

    Thanks for being one on the frontlines so to speak.

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  6. “Doctors are wage-slaves with debt shackles”

    Doctors make AT LEAST FIVE TIMES the amount that working class Americans make. I live next door to a doctor, who despite being in her early 30’s, built a horse farm and buys brand new cars every two years. It’s not fair to compare doctors to everybody else. I live off 7,000 dollars a year. My father lives off 26 thousand a year and has nearly 100,000 of debt. My sister lives off 14,000 a year and has over 20 thousand in debt. Doctors make 160+ thousand a year and should be no more than 100,000 in debt. They are NOT “wage-slaves with debt shackles”

    If I could be a doctor for even just a year, I could retire at the end of that one year and still be living better off than I am now. Please stop trying to make doctors look and seem no different than the rest of us.

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    • Jeffrey C,

      I couldn’t agree with you more. Given the millions of lives, careers, educations, livelihoods, reputations and very health/survival of the many needless victims deliberately destroyed by the perpetrators of biopsychiatry with bogus stigmas geared to rob the stigmatized of all their human, civil, democratic rights in the guise of “mental health” in addition to their health, brain and very lives to push the latest lethal drugs, ECT and other brain/body damaging tortures on the most vulnerable they target with impunity by selling out to those in power, I find it sickening to endure any pretense whatever that psychiatrists are the poor victims abused by an oppressive system while a vast majority are making a killing literally. Talk about turning the tables on the victims!!

      This is like the German SS complaining of the stench they had to endure in the concentration camps they managed while eating their lunch. Can it get any worse than this??

      I suggest that everyone read the Stanley Milgram experiments that resulted in the book, OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY, whereby though many people would shock another human to apparent death if an “apparent” authority took responsibility, more independent, ethical people refused. Dr. Philip Zimbardo did the famous prison experiments that proved that certain people given too much authority and others too little would result in gross abuse of power by some in the former group and too much submissiveness and deterioration by some in the latter group, which sounds a lot like the mental death profession and their oppressed victims. Things got so bad that Dr. Zimbardo had to cancel the experiments. He wrote a book called THE LUCIFER EFFECT whereby he blames environments for causing such a descent into evil, but I disagree with him. I tend to agree more with Dr. M. Scott Peck, Christian psychiatrist, in his book, THE PEOPLE OF THE LIE, whereby he finds that certain people are or become evil because they refuse to see or acknowledge their own capacity for evil or evil in themselves, so they must scapegoat and destroy others with their malignant narcissism. He points out that an average garden variety “sinner” or humble person well aware of his/her faults, shortcomings and tendency to make mistakes/miss the mark or sin tends to become very confused around an evil person and cannot think or survive very long in their toxic presence. This is especially true for children trapped by evil parents or caretakers like abusive psychiatrists. Because mainstream biopsychiatry has chosen to sell out to BIG PHARMA at the cost of human lives including toddlers and babies no less, I believe they are a perfect example of THE PEOPLE OF THE LIE whereby even the APA president admitted the APA chose to “dance with the devil” of BIG PHARMA leading to the devil calling the tune. Dr. Loren Mosher’s resignation letter to the APA in disgust said it all and was a wonderful gift to his many supporters he left behind to validate their reality.

      Again, the “poor victim psychiatrists” is pretty hard to stomach when all is said and done given that many risked and even their lives to save Jews and others during World War II. Of course, there are the usual heroes like Dr. Peter Breggin, Dr. Loren Mosher, Dr. Fred Baughman, Dr. Timothy Scott, Dr. Phillip Thomas, Dr. Grace Jackson, Dr. Johanna Montcrieff, Dr. Paula Caplan, Dr. Judith Herman, Dr. Frank Ochberg, Dr. Carol Warshaw, Dr. Marcia Angell, Dr. Sydney Walker III, Dr. Willaim Glasser, Robert Whitaker and many other noble whistleblowers who risked their careers and reputations to expose the truth and help people save themselves as much as possible while challenging the establisment.

      Alice, whether you intend it or not, it strikes me that you appear to be saying that if one has to fraudulently prey on vulnerable people to give them life destroying bogus stigmas from the junk science DSM to push lethal drugs and other brain/body damaging drugs/”treatments” in the guise of “mental health” to make a good living and pay off their student debt while depriving their victims of theirs probably permanently due to stigma and disability, then it is totally justified.

      So, I guess the conclusion of this mentality is that it’s a jungle out there and it’s every person for themselves or eat or be eaten with no pretense of any civilization, normality, morality, altruism, etc. And people believe biopsychiatrists should be calling the shots as to what is normal and what makes a “healthy” environment? NOT. They only want a healthy environment for the 1% power elite and current robber barrons so they can feel free to prey on the rest of us with the latest “SHOCK DOCTRINES,” so we should at least call a spade a spade.

      And though you compare mainstream medicine’s crimes with psychiatry’s, at least if you get a diagnosis of high cholesterol and a prescription for harmful statins, you can research that and not take them. Plus, you aren’t saddled with a life destroying bogus stigma that will follow you for life to destroy your life and that of your family in countless ways along with the prescribed poisons on patent that can be forced on you for life with the constant threat of loss of freedom for which these monstrous dehumanizing stigmas were created.

      Alice, I appreciate your honesty about your own experience with psychiatry, but this evil menance to humanity grows in power and an ever growing capacity to do global harm daily and many so called doctors are complicit in these crimes against humanity including the general GP’s now doling out the toxic psychiatric drugs often without a stigma at least.

      Again, you are doing a great service by admitting and exposing the truth, which does help to validate the reality of those so horribly invalidated, deceived and harmed by the fraud of biopsychiatry. But, every medical doctor is supposed to uphold, “First do no harm,” and when Dr. Peter Breggin, long term psychiatrist had to warn in his book, TOXIC PSYCHIATRY, that visiting a psychiatrist was the most dangerous thing one could do, our government, medical profession and society at large lost its moral compass.

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      • Donna,
        Thanks for your support of my writing. It will take a lot of people speaking up to make things better.

        Visiting any doctor is pretty dangerous. I avoid it.

        What I’ve been angling for here is more understanding of how any human could end up in a position where their jobs demands they do more harm than good.

        I did not say this: “then it is totally justified.”

        But I can see how (for example) a computer person could find themselves working on navigation for drones used to kill starving children on the other side of the planet. An aging worker with no other job options, house payments and two kids in collage is going to do some mental gymnastics to make it okay to keep working.

        I don’t justify it or think it’s right. I’ve straight out quit three jobs over patient safety. At 57 I’m unemployable. What good am I now in helping patients? They are on the inside and I’m out here.

        I understand someone might choose to keep working.

        Thanks for adding your voice. We need them all.
        Alice

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        • Alice,

          As Dr. Paula Caplan wrote in an article on this web site, one “severe mental illness” diagnosis/stigma of the fraud fad bipolar disorder and others can destroy a life especially for a woman and her children. Dr. Carole Warshaw, Psychiatrist and Domestic Violence Expert, points out that since psychiatrists are taught to just look at symptoms, they do not screen for or acknowledge domestic violence in women and children for the most part if ever. Rather, they saddle them with life destroying stigmas of ADHD, bipolar, paranoia, delusions and other pejorative stigmas for their stress/trauma abuse symptoms or ammunition that the abuser, who frequently controls the health insurance, can use against her in court to gain custody of the children, rob her of all the marital assets, make her unemployable and isolated and destroy her life in general. Dr. Warshaw laments the untold damage done to women and children as a result and has done a great deal to try to change that in her state, but I doubt much has changed overall. Having seen this done to vulnerable women and children with my own eyes fills me with nothing but contempt for anyone who perpetrates such crimes against humanity.

          I realize you aren’t thrilled when anyone makes suggestions about your future career, but I pointed out in some of your previous articles that it would seem there would be a great deal of demand for someone like you now that so many people are seeking alternative, holistic health care since they are well aware of the dangers and fraud of main stream medicine via the Internet, books, articles and a vast array of other resources.

          Alternative Mental Health or Safe Harbor has many experts practicing alternatives for the physical side of severe emotional distress and related issues while others like Dr. Peter Breggin are using what he calls empathic therapy per his web site, books and conferences.

          I realize you said it was difficult and too costly to maintain a private practice, but it seems there are now group practices and many individuals offering alternative/holistic medicine. Maybe there is someone like you who would be interested in setting up such a holistic, psych drug free practice to offer therapy and holistic/alternative health advice to deal with interrelated mind/body issues.

          Dr. Judith Herman, Psychiatrist and author of the classic book, TRAUMA AND RECOVERY, says that most mental health experts know that just about everyone they encounter has been abused in some way in their childhoods, marriages, jobs and other relationships. As she points out, the stigma given to the abused to discredit them used to be the insult borderline personality disorder stigma that has been replaced with bogus bipolar disorder per Dr. Warshaw. Based on my experience of trying to save loved ones from what I now call the “mental death profession” not to mention the many misogynists in the entire medical profession in general, the most important thing abused women and children need is validation of their reality because they have been invalidated for so long by families, community, boyfriends/spouses, work and all too frequently, the community at large per Dr. Frank Ochberg, Psychiatrist and trauma expert. A very enlightening book is, NOT TO PEOPLE LIKE US: HIDDEN ABUSE IN UPSCALE MARRIAGES, which focuses on upscale, educated women in abusive marriages to narcissitic men in powerful, lucrative jobs, who use their money, status and power to torment such women through the courts and their children.

          Anyway, you seem to have a great deal to offer with your background of therapy, nutrition, holistic health, knowledge of what is wrong with mainstream medicine and other assets. Thus, I don’t think you are unemployable, but rather, that you seem to be looking in the wrong places. Have you checked out Dr. Hyla Cass, a holistic psychiatrist and author, who has written best sellers on holistic approaches to emotional/mental/physical distress and has a web site too? I’m sure you’ve heard of Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman and other best selling authors/doctors taking an alternative, holistic approach to medicine. To my knowledge, it isn’t a crime “yet.”

          Anyway, I don’t mean to sound like I am trying to dictate your career, but I think the system could use people like you to help distressed people to avoid the worst of the medical system. When people are in abusive work, domestic and other horrible situations not only do they need validation of their reality, but also, someone to guide them back to common sense, which is not so common, to focus on critical issues like basic self care, financial security, protection of their children, etc. Obviously, no one person can be an expert in all these areas, but you could provide what is in your area of expertise while maintaining a list of referrals for others needed. I am only giving a typical example based on my own experience, but I am sure there are many others that could benefit from a compassionate, ethical, holistic form of care that would above all “do no harm.”

          Since you like writing so much, maybe you could write a book too. Given your past comments, normally, I would not dare to give you such suggestions, but since you said you are unemployable, I must beg to differ with you. I hope you take it as the compliment it is meant to be that I think you have many employment opportunities available. Look at Dr. Angell still going at age 73. I also admit we are all sadder but wiser due to painful experience and hard won insights, and I truly do appreciate your sharing your own hard won knowledge and wisdom with us that I know could benefit many people in a way that you could make a living from it. Though it seems overwhelming I love the story of the boy who was picking up starfish from the beach and throwing them back into the water to save them. When his grandfather admonished him that it was a useless endeavor since he couldn’t save the many starfish there, the boy said it matters to the ones I save. Just one person saved from a life destroying bipolar or other stigma for their own abuse/stress/trauma symptoms can have a huge impact on that one person’s life not to mention many such people.

          Yes, I know….you are enjoying your writing right now and that’s fine/great. I’m just trying to give you some food for thought about future possibilities based on having read all of your articles here that have made me aware of your many talents.

          Thanks for sharing. I know I may seem harsh, but I have encountered some very nasty, abusive people in the so called mental “health” system who would have destroyed loved ones had I not been armed by amazing whistleblowers like Dr. Peter Breggin especially to whom I owe a huge debt. Thank you for being another whistleblower!

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          • Donna,
            Lovely and well written. I appreciate your encouragement here. I love to write and will certainly continue to do so. Words must be written. I won’t stop doing this. This is work, of a sort.

            I think my point is that outspoken activists for human rights may not find gainful employment within the medical system as it exists today.

            You’re absolutely correct. It will have to be work outside the system.

            Alice

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    • Jeffrey,
      Thanks for reading and writing here. I appreciate your support of my writing and your support of human rights. Every voice counts.

      I’m surprised your horse-farm neighbor let you in on her private financials like debt to income ratio.

      I also know a lovely couple who built their horse farm from her teaching piano lessons at home and him doing yard work. Their debt was astronomic.

      I’ve never been clever about deciphering the finances of others.

      Thanks for reading, writing and thinking.
      Alice

      Report comment

      • Wow, she must have been one hell of a piano teacher, cause the average horse farm costs about 500,000 to one million dollars. I never said I didn’t think she was in debt, but to even be able to afford that sort of thing means you’re really rich one way or another, either because you could afford to pay cash or you had enough income to qualify for such awesome loans to go into debt.

        In any case, responsibility belongs to those responsible one way or another. I’m sure if the victims and families of the spy drone bombings got their hands on the lowly computer working that they would prosecute him all the same. Nobody let the Nazi’s off the hook for just following orders or doing their job, even though they would have been killed by their government if they had refused.

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        • Jeffry,
          They were both very good, very hard working and very frugal. I don’t pretend to understand the finances of others.

          By your rational, very person who ever paid taxes into a system that built drones should also be prosecuted. And every shopper who buys cheap Chinese toys made by children in sweatshops. And every person who drives a car(cars are the number one cause of death from age 8-34 in America).

          There is nothing in our land that is not tainted.

          In the words of John Steinbeck in “The Grapes of Wrath”: “The monster isn’t men but it can make men do what it wants.”

          We must find ways to work together to enact laws that limit corporate capitalism before it kills our planet.

          Thanks for the opportunity to say what I feel most strongly about.

          All the best.
          Alice

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  7. My ex-psychiatrist, the one who hooked me on benzos and told me that my brain was “broken” and needed Celexa for life the way a diabetic needed insulin, was a solo practitioner who did not accept insurance. He and his wife took several vacations a year, in locations all over the world. He had interesting and expensive hobbies. I think he may have begun his career with an interest in healing people, but as drug therapy took off, he based his practice around his prescription pad and it paid in spades.
    What doctor wants to willingly give up a patient with good insurance? And see that green walk out the door? Lose three or four and there goes a lifestyle, until they can be replaced.

    Report comment

    • Hi again engineer,

      The last time you wrote about this guy I must have misunderstood you. I thought you were giving me advice on how I could go out and make a mint writing prescriptions for benzos. It’s true I could.

      I love it when people ask me questions. This is a good one.

      “What doctor wants to willingly give up a patient with good insurance?”

      I once had a patient arrive with $1000 budgeted to see a psychiatrist. I was charging $100 an hour. I determined this was something short term therapy could help. We worked out a plan for therapy. Visit by visit we decided together if this was working for her. In nine visits we were done. She got to keep a hundred bucks. I ran into her two years later at her work. Her problem had not recurred. No pills.

      What kind of doctor wants to willingly give up a patient with good insurance?

      One like me who wants to see people better.

      Do you suppose I’m the only one? I doubt it. I just ain’t that special.

      Thanks so much for reading, thinking and writing.

      It will take a lot of good people working together to make a difference.

      Alice

      Report comment

      • You may be more special than you think. Out of the countless psychiatrists I’ve dealt with, either by working with them on the staff of medical or state hospitals, or from personal experience, I’ve met only one who is like you, and one who kind of comes close to you. The first one is young and idealistic and the second was the one I had in the hospital. He allowed me to craft my own treatment but in the end wouldn’t let me out of the hospital until I “faithfully” took the antidepressant and the benzo that he insisted that I take. Two psychiatrists out of a large number. You are special. However, I feel that one of your messages that you try to share is that there are no simplistic or simple answers in all of this terrible mess that we’re dealing with.

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        • Stephen,
          Bing, bing, bing. You win the prize for getting my message.;-)

          We have to stop throwing rocks at one another long enough to work things out. This is a BIG mess. Psychiatry (and all of medicine) is only one small part.

          There must be laws enacted that limit corporations.

          Corporations were given immortal life and human rights by words. Words are the only way to put on the brakes.

          I don’t know if this is possible or not. But since words created this mess, words are the path to freedom.

          Keep reading and thinking, writing and talking.

          Alice

          Report comment

      • I wish I’d met you years ago. You sound like a great doc and I really do appreciate your writings. Instead, I ended up in the hands of what I call a legal drug pusher and I am just now picking up the pieces. Good luck and looking forward to more of your writing!

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        • engineer
          Sorry to have missed this comment. Complex thread and all.

          Thanks for your kind words. I feel supported here even in the midst of lively discussions.

          You said: “I ended up in the hands of what I call a legal drug pusher”

          Your assessment of the situation you found yourself in is good for everyone to keep in mind that thinks they may need help. If you see a psychiatrist today, the chance you’ll be offered at least one prescription drug is high.

          I suppose if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it could be a duck.;-)

          All the best.
          Alice

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  8. I ran out of room to reply so cut this into a new thread:

    Discover and Recover on March 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm said:

    A good point, Alice.
    What about the professors and the doctors out there?

    You’ve addressed that with the post and asked for others’ opinions.

    Thanks for being on MIA.

    Duane

    Duane,

    Thank you for thanking me. That made me smile. I feel very appreciated and welcome here. The discussion is always lively and thoughtful with a wide range of opinions. The conversation feels valuable and thought provoking. I keep learning new things.

    I also enjoy hearing from you.

    Thanks,
    Alice

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  9. Hi Alice,
    Your article makes a good point – It is not reasonable to expect all doctors to be advocates, or fighting the system, or publicly speaking out as anti-APA or anti-big pharma. This is a role for advocates and journalists; the role of doctors is to be doctors. However, it is reasonable to expect doctors to be up to date on empirical findings in their field, and honest with their patients about why they recommend what they do and the risks that accompany them. (Yet sadly, many are neither.)

    Doing things differently does count. Sometimes the most powerful agents of change don’t come from outspoken critics of a system, but from those inside the system who simply choose to quietly do things differently . For example, a doctor who is concerned that patients are not receiving adequate information about the risks of taking medication can provide more information in the clinic in simple handouts comparing the risks of different drugs.

    To manage the risk of over-medicating patients, some community mental health centers are integrating therapy and primary care in the same facility that allows patients to address other things that are fueling their psychiatric symptoms and compounding the medications’ side effects (drug/alcohol use, smoking, poor diets, sedentary lifestyle, bad relationships, too much stress) at the same time.

    I have found the key ingredient for me for successful management of my condition was 1) to be fully educated about treatment options including all the drugs and their side effects and 2) to be in an integrated clinic with treatment teams that work together, so that the psychiatrist has a clearer picture of what is going on, and what other coping techniques are being used, and what does actually need medication to keep in check. When the condition is being addressed comprehensively, I have found I can keep the amount and duration of medication down to a bare minimum so that I have very few side effects and minimal disability.

    I realize this is not the norm in clinical practice, and I’m not the norm in patients, because I do demand this high standard of care. But the doctors I work with aren’t advocates either; they just chose to try to be better at their jobs.

    Alexa

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    • Alexa42,
      Thanks for this. You have written this much more clearly than I.

      There are roles for everyone to play in making things better. Some are better at speaking and writing. Some are in the clinics doing their best to improve patient care.

      It sounds like you’ve become your own physician in a way, taken charge as the director of your care. Good. I’m glad you are able to do this.

      Thanks for writing.
      Alice

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  10. I don’t know much about the difficulties of doctors and psychiatrists, I know a bit more about the difficulties of research scientists and most are lucky if they can maintain the standard of living of a graduate student; research does not pay (unless you are in the private sector, of course). Is that a justification for bending the truth in their research? For lying? No. I understand why some do it, yes, but that doesn’t make it any better; it does not exculpate them; it doesn’t attenuate their guilt. A lie is a lie even if it is only a half truth.
    Is it better to be unemployed and sidelined then? Well, if the only two options are collaborating with a harmful lie or be sidelined, then you bet being sidelined is better. Infinitely better.

    Alicia, don’t take away from your own achievement. Even if everything you had achieved was simply not collaborating with a harmful lie, that would already be an awful lot.

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  11. One thing struck me this morning. We attack the psychiatrists who don’t speak out to save their jobs. We attack the drug companies who create and push the poison pills. We berate the system for doing the horrible and terrible things that it does.

    What about the general public that is so gullible that it accepts all the advertizing and lies of the drug companies even when it’s all nonsense that a 5th grader could figure out? What about all the people who flock to their doctors begging for a pill that will keep them from being sad or the benzo that will alleviate their anxiety? What about all the people who run away from the adversities of life and seek only perpetual happiness?

    I was once one of the sheep even though I don’t like to admit it now. I think that this is one of the fundamental issues of what we’re dealing with here and until we deal with it, we’re only spinning our wheels. It’s not just psychiatrists, it’s not just drug companies, it’s not just a corrupt government or the terrible “mental health” system. It is the prevalent attitude among the public that we should never have to suffer for any reason that is also a large part of the equation.

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    • I agree with what you say, there’s a much larger cultural issue and, frankly, I think a lot of the great ‘social triumphs’ of the modern world need to be questioned and re-examined; I suppose that makes me retrograde. I think however that there’s a stark difference of responsibility between those who don’t know any better, those who should know better but don’t, and those who do know but don’t care. It’s the ones who know and don’t care that worry me the most; there’s no line they will not cross because, well, they just don’t care.

      Report comment

    • Stephen,

      This a lovely piece of thought and writing. I agree. We’re all in this together.I suppose that if there were no more customers, the “industry” would dry up.

      I hear from psychiatrists that people come in begging and demanding the drugs by brand name. In my experience, people came in with specific ads in mind wanting specific drugs. Name brand new ones from television, not a less expensive generic alternative.

      A great start would be if everyone simply stopped watching television. Imagine how free our thoughts could become (once we detoxed) if we unplugged our end of the Madison Avenue pipeline. We’d all lose the restless wants, anger and fear generated by the marketing industry.

      But then, the economy would collapse because people would only buy what they needed and it would be enough.

      Sigh. Fantasies.

      Thanks Stephen.

      Alice

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  12. Indirectly I have encountered excellent and not so good people in this profession.. The latter a pill-dispenser, the former, took the trouble to assess my partners needs and revealed that what she had been on,provoked serious weight-gain issues which resulted in her weight rocketing (she’s 5′ 4″ tall and has CP) from under 8 Stone to at one point 20 Stone! This was down to her meds and it seems that whilst the Pharma industry are all too willing to produce this stuff, side-effects like this are considered awkward side-effects which in reality, damage the users self-image … = more meds … and make people seriously obese in a way that no-kwown method of dieting can deal with. The are people ‘kicking up a stink’ about this, but their complaints and concerns are just brushed under the carpet by the Pharma industry and probably a lot of those dishing this stuff out

    At the end of the day, the cost of councelling and therapies are far far more time-consuming & expensive than pills, even though in many instances, the latter results in a much less distressed person and someone who is able to live a far more fulfilling and happy life. Some ‘conditions’ can only be effectively controlled by pill-popping, but I’m pretty sure that the number of people needing to resort to this option, is a far lower % than the Pharmaceutical industry would have us believe it is!

    Report comment

    • Footloose 1949,
      Thanks for reading and checking it here with your personal experiences. I feel supported in my writing by this. You are right. And the obesity is way beyond a self-image issue. It will cause early death after a lifetime of medical illness.

      I hope you will not take offense when I disagree with this statement from your comment. I was also taught this as the excuse that insurance corporations wouldn’t pay for therapy and why I wasn’t allowed do the psychotherapy interventions that helped people have better lives:

      “At the end of the day, the cost of councelling and therapies are far far more time-consuming & expensive than pills”

      Pills are for a lifetime. Many don’t work in the ways we’ve been taught. Some not at all. Pills can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars a month depending upon the “cocktail” prescribed. They create expensive to treat medical conditions and take years off a life.

      How’s this for slower and more expensive than counseling?

      Sorry for the rant. You bumped up against one of my old pet peeves, this lie that pills are cheaper than counseling. I used to believe this story as well.

      All the best. Keep reading, thinking and writing.
      Alice

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      • What gets me is that competant counselling by people who can work with psychosis is cheaper than hosptalsation – well that’s what my back of a ritalin packet caluculations on Open Dialogue verses a week or two of hospitalisation say anyway.

        Rant away. Its needed. Or it could be called robust argument. Sometimes I’m up for it, sometimes I’d rather go to bed with a nice book

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        • John,
          Yes. This is the result of my calculations as well. Counseling is cheaper than hospital stays. It has a better side-effect profile as well.

          Perhaps we can advocate for the use of psychotherapy, housing support, vocational support and food in cases where the now “traditional” drugs only treatment has failed. Maybe we’d find it reduced expensive hospitalizations.

          Oh wait. That’s called an ACT team. And it’s already been researched. It’s evidence-based care.

          Alice

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        • The private hospital I was held in before I could be transported to the state hospital charged $1,000 a day per person. The state hospital where I was taken and where I now work charges around $800 a day per person. I would have to say that neither place gave stellar “treatment” for the money they charged. My stay at the private cost $17,000 and at the state hospital $62,400. Having no insurance and too young for Medicare I was not able to pay either bill so they actually lost money on me.

          A respite house runs on about $250 per day per person but state and Federal governments don’t want to fund them. Go figure.

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      • And sometimes the pills cost more serious and more expensive problems. I was reading recently that a huge percentage of the increase in healthcare costs is for treating diabetes. It didn’t mention in the article that the medical profession is creating tens of thousands of cases of diabetes annually with their own “treatments” for “schizophrenia,” “bipolar disorder,” and increasingly, for “aggression” in youth or the elderly that they don’t even bother to label with a “diagnosis.” No, I don’t think pills are cheaper. I think they’re more profitable.

        — Steve

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        • Steve,
          And I think most medical doctors know this about psychiatric drugs causing medical problems. I had a medical doc get into my face and demand to know when MY treatments would stop making HIS patients so sick. (We shared zero patients. I was the psychiatrist in shouting range.)

          Pills are vastly more profitable to corporations than psychotherapies. Crank pills out in a third world country for pennies and charge dollars here.

          You just can’t suck that kind of cash stream into the coffers based an hour of psychotherapy once a week. And with psychotherapy lots of folks get better and go on about their business rather than become chronic patients. This is definitely not good for the corporate bottom line.

          I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who can do basic arithmetic and see where the dollars flow.

          Thanks.
          Alice

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          • Exactly! Therapy helps people to deal with and solve the issues causing them distress! They get back to their lives and move out of the system and are no longer a source of income for the system. I’ve addressed the issue of making permanent patients out of people in articles for the hospital newsletter. The only response I received was from patients who read the articles!

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    • No Alice, I’m in no way offended or even slighted by your reply. When I wrote that medicating is cheaper than therapies, I meant that ‘Many people due to the disinformation put out by the pharma industry and by getting someone to take meds, means that once prescribed, those who dish them out have ‘washed their hands’ in relation to that patient, unless some medication ‘problem’ surfaces …. A bit like Pontius Pilate … I suspect another issue (In the UK) with the councelling route, is that there just aren’t the number of qualified therapists there needs to be, and ‘quick fixes’ and short-term solutions which enable the beurocrats within the NHS to ‘Tick boxes’ as part of a process has been done, whilst the tick-box for councelling can’t be ‘ticked’ until the patient’s treatment has finished. If it’s meds, it seems that once the meds have been prescribed (even if they are not effective) that NHS ‘box’ can be ticked off!!

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      • Footloose 1949,
        Perhaps the money for the person’s treatment time comes from a different pocket of the budget than the money for the pills. Bureaucratic thinking like “which department budget” and “which fiscal year” is often used to move expenses around here. Medical costs happen a bit later than the onset of the psychiatric drugs. It makes the real cost harder to track

        The drugs are also much more expensive here in the US than in any other country in the world. People have been buying drugs from Canada and other countries on line for years to dodge drug costs when they can.People used to drive across the border into Canada to buy them from the northern states.

        And perhaps the marketing line that drugs are cheaper and faster than therapy has simply reached the level of “truth”.

        “Repetition causes belief” is a well-known marketing and education strategy. Anything repeated often enough becomes fact to the human mind. This is a known feature of the human operating system and is underneath some of the cognitive therapies that help people change how they feel and view themselves. For example: thought stopping (stop the repetition of the negative belief) and replacement (repeat the new desired belief) works like a champ. This principal also underlies the danger in media exposure. Our human brains soak up the repeated images of violence, material goods and sex (plus more) as if it is the truth.

        I believed that pills were faster and cheaper than psychotherapies for many years without doing the arithmetic myself. I may not be the only one. Or maybe other professionals have always seen through this falsehood and I’m simply more gullible than the average bear.

        Thanks a lot.
        Alice

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  13. Alice,

    Thanks for the view from the inside – very interesting, because from other vantage points within the mental health industry psychiatrists look like the All Powerful Oz. I definitely see what you were up against – another psychiatrist I know, Grace Jackson did what you did, and she was not only forced to leave her job, they tried to take her license too. They also went after Peter Breggin’s for speaking out.

    But my perception is that the majority of psychiatrists don’t even try. If they aren’t drinking the cool aid, they give every appearance of doing so. They generally act entitled, superior condescending and dismissive of anyone who seriously questions them. I have attended numerous grand rounds at one of the country’s most prestigious mental institutions – and the party line medical model is seldom questioned, and when it is questioned, it is in a perfunctory way that is somehow more cover up than questioning. Kind of like the cigarette industry pretending to search its soul about tobacco, finding a few issues of “concern” but generally giving itself a pass and a pat on the back for being so broad minded in being willing to question itself. More of an inoculation than a soul searching.

    I insisted that the manual for the program I directed have a provision that no child would be put on psychiatric drugs or have meds changed without consultation with our social workers and our social workers being present at the medical appointment. I wrote to the head of the state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers about the need to examine the drug question – no response. I challenged drugs at grand rounds, speaking out and distributing a bibliography of honest literature about the drugs. I repeatedly educated my staff and our foster parents about the drugs. I supported the social workers I supervised in trying to get psychiatrists to reduce, eliminate (or not start) drugs – usually to no avail.

    Meanwhile, our state foster care regs just expanded the bureaucratic requirements on treatment foster care – check list measures of “progress,” reports ad nauseam – just before I retired I asked my social workers how much time they spent on paper work. It was 75%!!!!!!!!!!! But the real killer is the recently imposed requirement that all children entering treatment foster care have a psychiatric evaluation – that of course almost inevitably leads them to be put on drugs even before they are referred to our program.

    Psychiatry is not the sole culprit. Social workers, psychologists, LCPC’s, nurses, GP’s are all drinking the cool aid. Some will confess to reservations, or will grant that drugs are “overprescribed,” but that means next to nothing in terms of what actually happens.

    People DO need to risk their livelihoods and $300k houses. This is a human rights issue. It won’t change unless people are prepared to throw themselves into the cogs of the machine. Psych drugs and the medical model are the intake mechanism to the whole rest of the mental health industry, ending in forced drugging and incarceration. There are virtually no patients who actually have the opportunity to give real informed consent before they start these pills – that is a human rights issue.

    Thanks for your writing. This is a great site. We do need to keep writing and thinking, but eventually this needs to involve action – and most psychiatrists don’t even seem in the game to me.

    Report comment

    • Peter,
      Thanks for your well-considered and well-written piece.

      As a psychiatrist who has thrown myself under the proverbial bus for patient safety concerns, I have to say that the bus just keeps rolling along. No one but me looks back.

      Perhaps if a whole bunch of us held hands and threw ourselves under the bus, it would stop? How many would it take since psychiatrists have been replaced by prescribing nurses, primary care docs, naturalopaths and physicians assistants and prescribing psychologists.

      I’m not so sure.

      I am sickened in my heart about the drugging of kids. I started to say “kids in foster care”. But the truth is drugging children makes my heart sick. Talk about being unable to give informed consent.

      Take my licenses away? I pay for active licenses in three states and a federal narcotics license and what am I using them for? Even without a license, I’d always be a doctor.

      Thanks. As always keep reading, thinking and writing. I’ll ad talking to this, too. Keep speaking up.

      Alice

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    • Peter, thanks for mentioning the foster care horrors. I live with that every day. I can’t say I’m having no effect, but it does feel like we’re swimming upstream and nobody seems to be willing to risk their livelihood by speaking the truth. Or very few are, not enough to really stem the tide. I’ve also gotten the “silent treatment” for mentioning unethical behavior by prescribers. No one wants to admit it, even when they know it’s true.

      Thanks for your comments!

      — Steve

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  14. Thank you Peter. Yes I know this some of this scenario well. I know of a Mental Health working who is barely functioning due to the work environment. She is waiting for her 3 years until retirement.She is a dead person walking. Somehow despite high turnover rates the Mental Health system continues to hire willing workers. The quality of these workers grows worse every year and many are too poorly educated and in to desperate need of employment to even begin to develop a clear and intellectually rigorous assessment of the truth. It is convenient for the hospitals and community mental health system to have workers that are lacking in intellectual curiosity and financial security. May are avid users of psychotropic and or recreational drugs.A long time ago I tried to get the nursing staff to complete an alcohol use questionnaire no nurse would agree to complete it once they read the questions on personal usage.
    May are good workers working in a toxic environment and suffering from burnout and compassion fatigue. Continuing education used to be pain for by the agency. I was allowed to go to a two week intensive program back in the good old days. Now workers are given CUE’s at their workplace that are repetitive and different versions of the bare bones basics as in “How to Write A Treatment Plan”. There are now books that have generic treatment plans for every psychiatric diagnosis from which workers can copy for treatment plans. I have seem them used copiously over and over again. Diagnostic assessment used to be allowed for three sessions now it is ordered to be finished in 3 hours. The best colleagues have all left in disgust. The older ones are only staying for financial reasons. All are so used up they are unable to talk the truth after they retire.This state of affairs is a pure and unilateral mess.

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    • mcoma,
      Thanks for spelling out the truth from the perspective of the clinic and clinician side of things. I cannot dispute anything you say here from my personal experiences in recent years in community clinics.

      There is an unending stream of new clinician fodder coming out of schools green as spring twigs and shackled with debt.

      Thanks for adding your perspective.
      Alice

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  15. I started a new thread to have room for a response by copying his comment here:

    John Hoggett on March 13, 2013 at 7:35 am said:

    Indeed, Occupy was a flash in the pan, but it had a big impact. Perhaps it is best not to see it as a big battle but a skirmish in the long struggle?

    Corporations are given life through government words. I say to them, “Stop being so silly,” but they don’t always listen.

    Meanwhile, here is a little song and rather in your face video to hopefully chear you up (well the songs chipper the video is a bit confrontationally grim): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJTcoKl0aN4

    John,
    Thanks for the video link. I had no idea the Occupy movement was so active in UK.

    Since corporations are given life and power by government words, how can people have a say in those government words?

    All the best.

    Alice

    “We’re all in this together. I’m pulling for you.” Red Green

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    • That video was quite old, it is by Undercurrents, a radical video collective. I know the founders. It showed a whole range of protests well before Occupy.

      Occupy was quite big here in the UK, they camped outside St Pauls Cathedral for a few months and got a lot of national coverage. They had a series of talks organised by their welfare group where critial psychiatrists talked, a couple of them blogged on here. I said at one of the talk that bio-psychiatry had really taken off when neo-liberal economic theory took hold under Thatcher and Reagon. I got a round of applause (wierd but true).

      Like the USA Occupy fizzled out but is still organising but in different and more diffuse ways.

      It’a a long war.

      How indeed can the people have a say in Governments words about corporations? It’s political organising and education I’m afraid, just as it always was.

      Your writing is however making the links between all these issues very clear and that is a necersarry and important part of the struggle.

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  16. John,
    Thanks for your encouraging words for my writing.

    It does seem that the same battles have to be fought over and over. I’m not the first to make these connections in writing. I’ve simply been reading musty old history books.

    Rather like a committee with no one taking minutes, we have to learn the same lessons and fight the same fights over and over again.

    Our grandchildren will have to fight these same fights unless the laws that govern corporations are changed dramatically.

    Alas, corporations have been created immortal, given human rights and better passports than any mere mortal. They only have to wait for us humans to die in order to continue to grow in power. And they now have DEEP POCKETS. The prime directive written in by their (human) creators is profit. They are doing exactly what they were told to do. Very, very well.

    I wonder how an immortal company who’s prime directive is to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would work. Maybe one with built in checks and balances to keep any one power hungry branch from overwhelming the whole thing. Maybe one that could modify itself over time through open discussion of ideas and free elections by the people.

    Nah. I must be nuts.;-)

    Alice

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    • Thats a really good question Alice, how an immortal company who’s prime directive is to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would work?

      You might not be the first to make these connections in writing but you are one of the few who do so in the arena of those who are critical of psychiatry and to me that seems very important.

      Looking forward to your next article

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      • John,

        Life. liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is straight out of our American constitution. This was our government’s original mission statement when we broke away from British corporate rule.

        It was not the crown we struggled against but the corporations which were controlling everything from what people could grow and make, the prices they could charge and what they could say to the next wave of settlers being sent over (nothing bad about life in the colonies and nothing good about the native population).

        Ain’t history books wonderful? 😉

        Thanks for your kind words about my writing. I’m certain something is brewing back there. There’s nothing like MLK speeches and Alice Walker poetry before bed to get the old creative juices flowing.

        Alice

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  17. I started a new thread here so I can reply by copying David’s post:

    David Ross, M.Ed., LPCC on March 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm said:

    I work in a rural system and the numbers cited above are typical. I’ve never, ever heard/read of a physician being paid $70 an hour. I just can’t understand that assertion. I guess come to Ohio!

    David,
    Ohio. The land of opportunity. I am a buckeye by birth and still have parents and siblings farming there. What a lovely state with all four beautiful seasons.

    I’ve also been informed in this thread that Oregon is the state with the highest paid doctors. I must have missed out on this for the 27 years I lived there.

    I’m breaking taboo here on talking about money. Who does this taboo protect?

    In 1987, fresh out of training with 100k of high interest education debt I scored a full time salaried position for about $60K a year through the VA staffing an inpatient unit, teaching medical students and doing research. A year into it I did the math for the actual hours served. It was less than minimum wage. I worked there two years. This was the last full-time regular benefited job I’ve had since leaving school.

    The first month of my private practice 7/89 I had one patient visit. I didn’t get above 4 paients a week for a long time. Private practice never was a busy thing. But I also declined to do “meds-only” (med checks) because it never made any sense to me from a clinical care perspective. Pills have never equaled treatment in my book.

    In my private practice I last charged $100 for a fifty-minute session and $60 for thirty minutes in 2003. I always did some pro-bono work and sliding fee. I could have filled the office all week for pro-bono work.

    I worked MUCH less than half-time because that was how many patients there were who could pay. The insurance was tied up completely with managed care companies. No one could afford cash. The last two years I paid the everyone except me. That works out to zero an hour for my private practice hobby. I closed up shop 07-03.

    I was hired 11/2004 to do “on-call” work in Portland for $90.97/hour. I made this same amount part-time intermittent work without benefits till I left Oregon last year. I was told this was the regular hourly pay with a special hourly bonus for being willing to be called in to work anywhere, any time.

    The most I’ve ever made was $110 an hour for six months about three years ago. No benefits. 20 hours a week.

    I turned down a part-time job with no benefits for $75/hour in Portland maybe three years ago. This included being available by phone all the time and me paying for downtown parking.

    I passed on a verbal offer for a 7 hour a week job two months ago that required 24/7 coverage, working alone, four patients an hour. That was for seventy bucks an hour.

    I did pass on a job last month (it was never offered, only suggested that I might be interested)in a jail that paid $160 an hour for 20 hours a week. The trick was, it was a 24/7 job with no benefits that had been unmanageable in a forty hour work week. So what would the real pay work out to if I did the work?

    I’ve learned from hard experience to do the arithmetic.

    weekly money minus overhead expenses divided by expected hours of coverage.

    It has been suggested (and I suspect it’s true) that if I did a cash-n-carry prescription business with 10 minute “med checks” for $50 each and made everyone come in for refills, that I could be rolling in the cash.

    All the best.
    Alice

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  18. Steve reports revealingly above sitting in a meeting with other professionals: “The topic was the lower age limit for an automatic review if a foster kid was prescribed certain drug categories. When they asked if 6 made sense as a lowest age for antidepressants, I said, “I said, “There is no evidence base for the use of antidepressants in a child under 6.” No response. I said it again, louder. Again, no response.My read is they all knew I was 100% correct, but nobody wanted to talk about it.”

    Morris states, “I think however that there’s a stark difference of responsibility between those who don’t know any better, those who should know better but don’t, and those who do know but don’t care. “ Morris finds the latter the most worrisome and Alice agrees.

    I deliberately juxtapose these two comments. Is there a stark difference of responsibility between the second and the last category? I don’t think so. Members of both of these groups would be willing to give drugs to the underage children. Psychiatry today invents its own evidence base. It provides its members and society with what they want and need: the illusion of the concerned doctor, the reassuring rhetoric of Science and the appearance of infallible scientific verdicts based upon conscientious scientific experimentation–i.e., the Holy Grail of random controlled trials. I say appearance because the trials are written up by ghost writers hired by the marketing department of the drug companies who are trained to manipulate the evidence.(See Healy’s latest book) Donna invokes Milligram. Milligram also found that in order to commit harm to people (the subjects were even willing to shock the pseudo-subjects whom they were led to believe might suffer heart attacks) most people required the illusion of Science: It was a man in a white coat who told the subjects that the pseudo-subject must be shocked because Science required it. They were not in Morris’s last category. They were not happy shocking subjects and possibly triggering heart attacks (or so they thought) but they complied. Eichmann wasn’t happy about killing the Jews. He had nothing against Jews, he liked many of them, particularly Zionists. Does President Obama enjoy choosing subjects for the drones? Or is he in the second group like Eichmann? We don’t know. We do know he won’t tolerate whistle-blowers. The greatest whistle-blowers since Daniel Ellsberg is 23 years old Bradley Manning. Those who doubt his moral convictions should read the speech that was secretly recorded in Court.(www.democracynow.org) Thanks to President Obama, the Nobel Prize winner, Manning faces a life time in prison as a reward for refusing to follow orders–for having a heart.

    What is the purpose of the psychiatric system? To provide markets for the pharmaceutical companies. This entails marketing both the drugs and the illnesses–as Whitaker has shown– and providing the enterprise with an aura of legitimacy, with the sanction of Science. Both for its 2nd category members and the public. So that those who should know better but don’t will feed the drugs to those under 6. (Steve did not mention that those over 6 will have an increased incidence of suicidality with SSRIs.)

    Does the profession do ANY good? Practically nothing relative to the harm it causes.
    In the NYT of May 10, 2007 we are informed: “
    From 2000 to 2005, drug maker payments to Minnesota psychiatrists rose more
    than sixfold, to $1.6 million. During those same years, prescriptions of
    antipsychotics for children in Minnesota’s Medicaid program rose more than ninefold.
    Those who took the most money from makers of atypicals tended to prescribe
    the drugs to children the most often, the data suggest.”
    2nd or 3rd category?

    Are psychiatrists wage slaves?
    Alice’s numbers are lower than any I have ever seen. I’m sure they are true FOR HER. But that is because the system does not reward those who don’t play the game–and prescribe drugs. I do not know what Alice means when she says she had 24/7 “coverage” which is why she made so little. Does that mean insurance? As I mentioned
    I became unemployable. True I’m a lowly psychologist–but it’s the same principal.

    If the system does not help people what is its purpose?. Its ostensible purpose is to treat mental disorders. Its true purpose is make money for the 1%–everyone here agrees about that. But it is also part of the game. BTW I invented the term “mental death system” 15 years ago, and I use it frequently. We live in a cannibalistic society. Is there any possibility of any opposition? Or take the MIC. Most Americans think its purpose is to protect US national security. But it actually must generate wars––at least for its second category true believers.

    Donna is right on the mark. She writes “I guess the conclusion of this mentality is that it’s a jungle out there and it’s every person for themselves or eat or be eaten with no pretense of any civilization, normality, morality, altruism, etc. And people believe biopsychiatrists should be calling the shots as to what is normal and what makes a “healthy” environment.” We live in a predatory society, as Donna notes. Many of the predators should know better but don’t. But psychiatrists are not merely the Scientists. They are also the priesthood:They “call the shots,” they determine what is normative and what is illegitimate– “mentally ill.”

    From whence comes the opposition? It was not psychiatrists who started a trade union for higher wages. It started with 2 dissident psychiatrists in the 1960s– Thomas Szasz and R D Laing. Both Szasz and Laing challenged the psychiatric idea of what is normative. Ten years after Szasz decried “the myth of mental illness” those at the bottom of the psychiatric caste system–schizophrenics–created a mass movement against the system. These severely disabled people were transformed into brilliant political organizers. If Szasz was the Karl Marx (an irony for a disciple of von Mises), the intellectual grave-digger of the mental death system, “schizophrenics” were the proletariat. Psychiatrists were not the mass base of the revolution. Schizophrenics were–and later “bipolars.” Remember there were still less than 50,000 bipolars in 1970. Today there are over 5 million. The mental patients liberation movement was the most radical mass movement in the post-60s, This is because it challenged the very idea of what was normal. David Oaks founder of MindFreedon, unearthed some speeches of Martin Luther King Jr and seconded his call for the promotion of “creative maladjustment.”

    In my current book on the history of the mad movement, THe Spiritual Gift of Madness.. I criticized the movement for not following through on the trajectory begun by The Icarus Project in 2004 when it called upon the Mad to cherish and cultivate the gift of madness. Although the founders of TIP had not read Laing they were certainly channeling his spirit–about 15 years later. Laing wrote in 1967 in The Politics of Experience, “The well-adjusted bomber pilot may be a greater threat to species survival than the hospitalized schizophrenic deluded that the Bomb is inside him. Our society may itself have become biologically dysfunctional, and some forms of schizophrenic alienation from the alienation of our society may have a sociobiological function that we have not recognized.”

    Inspired by Laing whom I first read in high school before I ever thought going into psychiatry I argue in The Spiritual Gift of Madness http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiritual-Gift-Madness-Psychiatry/dp/159477448X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362598238&sr=8-1&keywords=farber+gift that the Mad pride movement has the potential to be the most radical movement since the 2nd Great Awakening, which engendered the abolitionist movement. Precisely because –as Laing realized –many of the mad had visions (“hallucinations”) of a new order, of a messianic-redemptive transformation. (Yes of course they also suffered–I always have to say the obvious to preempt copious objections) I say potential because of the change in TIP trajectory. As of now only a few among the mad or formerly mad take seriously the messianic visions they have had. Paul Levy, author of the just released book Dispelling Wetiko, is one who has and does. Paul, whose story is recounted in my book, wrote, “ We are and always have been the very Messiah we have been waiting for.”

    Today it is not the threat of the bomb but the even more dire prospect of global warming that menaces. I wrote in a recent article, “We must be aware that those of us who are alive now will be the ones who will determine whether humanity will outlast the 21st century. I think all political and social activism should be based now on the awareness that this may be humanity’s last chance — only thus will we make the kind of efforts necessary to change the world. We must face the catastrophic as well as the messianic — both of these realities have been banished from awareness.” http://www.realitysandwich.com/ecodoom_redemption_mad_movement\

    Vaclav Havel said in 1991, “Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better and the catastrophe towards which this world is headed will be unavoidable.” As Sri Aurobindo the Indian philosopher and yogi wrote in the 1920s, “A spiritualised society can alone bring about a reign of individual harmony and communal happiness; or, a new kind of theocracy, the kingdom of God upon earth, a theocracy which shall be the government of mankind by the Divine in the hearts and minds of men.The gnostic being would feel the presence of the Divine in every centre of his consciousness, in every vibration of his life-force, in every cell of his body. All beings would be to him his own selves, all ways and powers of consciousness would be felt as the ways and powers of his own universality.. His own life and the world life would be to him like a perfect work of art; it would be as if the creation of a cosmic and spontaneous genius infallible in its working out of a perfect multitudinous order.”
    \

    The enlightened being would find his existence would be fused into oneness with the transcendent and universal Self and Spirit. .He would feel the presence of the Divine in every centre of his consciousness, in every vibration of his life-force, in every cell of his body. All beings would be to him his own selves, all ways and powers of consciousness would be felt as the ways and powers of his own universality.. His own life and the world life would be to him like a perfect work of art; it would be as if the creation of a cosmic and spontaneous genius infallible in its working out of a multitudinous order.
    2.
    It may well be the Mad Pride movement that will become the catalyst for such an epochal change.

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    • Sethf1968,
      Thanks for your well-considered and well-written comment.

      The only clarification is about your question of what I meant by “24/7 coverage”.

      No. This did not mean I had insurance.

      24/7 is the number of hours (24 hours a day seven days a week year round) I would be responsible for and available to handle all phone calls and come in to work any extra hours if needed. Whether the employer is paying for seven hours a week or twenty or forty, the expectation is that I will always be available and work however many hours are required to do the job.

      This requires always being in telephone answering range and range to drive in within a set number of hours.

      One job estimated about three hours a day of additional phone contact time needed. They said would “try” to keep it in three batches a day. None of these additional work hours, which includes evaluating situations and prescribing over the phone, would be paid for.

      If work beyond the paid hours is needed to effectively manage the responsibilities, there is no more pay.

      The hourly rate and number of hours paid may not accurately reflect the actual hours of work performed.

      24/7 coverage means that for 7 hours a week pay, I belong to them day and night.

      Thanks for asking.
      Alice

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    • Seth,

      I can’t help but feel that you are implying that I stole your term of “mental death system” when you claim, “BTW, I am the one who invented the term “mental death system” 15 years ago”…because someone complimented me for using it.

      Since this makes me look like I am stealing credit for something you “invented,” I have to disagree with you here. Apparently, we both “invented” the obvious separately once we saw the horrific nightmare that covered psychiatry’s evil, lies and vicious destruction of the vulnerable in the guise of “mental health” or the “mental health profession.” Therefore, once I saw how it did all in its evil power to try to destroy loved ones of mine I was able to save thanks to Dr. Peter Breggin, it was a NO BRAINER for me to rename it “the mental death profession” professing nothing but evil lies that came to me automatically through very painful experience. I have never seen this term used elsewhere though I have read tons about the psychopaths of psychiatry and its fellow criminals in power.

      Actually, I am surprised that more people didn’t see this obvious need to expose psychiatry’s Orwellian doublespeak and call a spade a spade: “the mental death profession” since it continues the evil eugenics/euthanasia agenda that created the NAZI Holocaust and all human, racial and other “cleansings” of the “vermin unfit to live.” Despite Hitler’s horrific reputation of evil, it was psychiatry that supplied him the vicious eugenics theories he used in his infamous book, MEIN KAMPF. They were already using these evil theories to gas to death those they stigmatized as “mentally ill” or otherwise useless eaters before Hitler came to power and persuaded him to continue this monstrosity and happily moved this apparatus to the concentration camps to continue their destruction of normal humans since such murderers are psychopathic instraspecies predators as described in Dr. Robert Hare’s (foremost world authority on psychopaths) WITHOUT CONSCIENCE and SNAKES IN SUITS, Dr. Hervey Cleckley’s THE MASK OF SANITY, Dr. Martha Stout’s THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR, Dr. John Clarke’s WORKING WITH MONSTERS, POLITICAL PONEROLOGY and many others. Such experts have been warning for decades that psychopaths as inhuman, intraspecies predators coupled with malignant narcissists and other evil people are the greatest threat to the survival of humanity. There is a ton of information about this on the web.

      Anyway, I applaud you for seeing the obvious and more accurately naming evil for what is is: “the mental death profession” or the “mental death system” as you say.

      Finally, I don’t agree that glorifying madness will ever help anyone in the system or at risk from it, but rather, fuel the fires of the unenlightened to see the so called mentally ill as the “other,” dangerous, defective, etc., reinforcing/justifying the “need” for more mental death torture treatment.

      Moreover, enlightenment is a wonderful goal for humanity, but as Abraham Maslow pointed out in his famous hierarchy of needs, one cannot aspire to self actualization until one’s basic physical needs for food, safety and shelter are met, so such enlightenment only seems to be within the reach of the privileged minority of humanity and even they are hard pressed to achieve it.

      I appreciate your comments and whistleblowing too. Again, I don’t want to seem petty, but I also don’t want you or others to think I stole your idea without giving you credit.

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  19. In keeping with my comments, here is an article on Stanley Milgram’s famous or infamous experiments that culminated in his book, OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY:

    http://nature.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7article/article35.htm

    Though many of the tormentors or shockers of their students probably wouldn’t have done such evil without being able to pass the buck to a so called authority figure, much depended on their own penchant for good or evil in terms of their responses since many refused to follow such orders as was true in NAZI Germany and other crimes against humanity.

    This is what makes psychopaths so scary and dangerous in that they are masters of disguise, the ultimate charmer manipulator instigators of evil in the guise of goodness and the instigation of the elimination of those they scapegoat by projecting their own evil and lack of conscience/moral sanity on others. Whenever a psychopath joins a group, it is well known that the ethics of all deteriorate very quickly into a jungle mentality of every person for themselves in an attempt to survive such a group assault!

    The book EICHMAN IN JERUSALEM: THE BANALITY OF EVIL shows how an everday average human cog in a massive mechanical, robotic system can do massive evil in the guise of just following orders, just doing one’s job efficiently, etc. I doubt that the Eichmans of the world would dream up such massive evil on their own, but I also don’t doubt that such malignant people without such power do perpetrate daily psychological terror and other hidden crimes against those who have the misfortune to have contact with them as Dr. Martha Stout exposes so well in her great book, THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR.

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  20. Hi Donna,
    I wasn’t implying anything about you. I meant to clarify that I did not borrow the term I’ve been using for years–although in informal writings.

    I’m surprised you are not more familiar with the writings on the interface between madness and mysticism. In my recent book I interviewed (again) several people who were labeled schizophrenic or bipolar. Some of these people are activists in the mad movement, like David Oaks, Sasha DuBrul, Chaya Grossberg. The Spiritual Gift of Madness http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiritual-Gift-Madness-Psychiatry/dp/159477448X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362598238&sr=8-1&keywords=farber+gift
    Almost all of the mad persons or formerly mad I have interviewed for my books believed what the establishment termed pathology was a breakdown-breakthrough, to use Laing’s term. Although as Laing said many of their breakthroughs were aborted by the mental death system.

    You know in the 1980s there were many “transpersonal psychologists” and transpersonal thinkers like the iconic Ken Wilber who decried those–like Joseph Campbell, Stan Grof, RD Laing–who contended that “schizophrenia” WAS often a transpersonal experience. These transpersonalists drew a dark line between madness and mysticism, claiming the former were so deeply pathological they could not possibly have had a mystical expperience. BUT THEY DID. No they didn’t claimed Wilber, it was really a pathological PRE-personal not a transpersonal experience. That’s nonsense. Not only did mad persons have mystical experiences but many of the great spiritual geniuses had spiritual crises that looked just like “schizophrenia.” The distinction between the two is spurious.As Anton Boisen pointed out in 1930 Jesus own experiences paralleled that of hospitalized mental patients. Jesus successfully resolved his “schizophrenic” breakdown–thus it became a breakthrough.

    Now you want Mad persons, people who were psych- iatrically labeled and felt they were undergoing a spiritual awakening, a potential spiritual breakthrough, to deny that madness is a potential spiritual breakthrough because affirming it would alienate people who don’t understand what a spiritual breakthrough is? It is your privilege Donna to say whatever you want about your own experiences but I think it’s presumptuous of you to claim to know what others have gone through. Or to tell them they should try to conform to normal people’s conception of “reality” lest they alienate them. Many of them agree with me: that unless we change our conception of reality we will not resolve the world-crisis that threatens humanity’s survival.

    Furthermore most poor people in the undeveloped world, in India, or poor African Americans would strongly disagree that they should postpone the expression of their spirituality until they have met Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I read that book in 1971 and I do not think it is the last word on the topic—although I’m not sure Maslow would agree with your interpretation. But I strongly urge you to read R D Laing, John Weir Perry,Paul Levy ( you might start with the interview with him in my new book) and Anton Boisen. There are other books but those are seminal.
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.
    wwww.sethHfarber.com
    PS Excuse the errors in previous email. At the very bottom there were note I had not intended to include.

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  21. Seth,

    Thank you for clarifying our coincidental individual discovery of the appropriateness of calling biopsychiatry the “mental death profession” or “mental death system.”

    I find it unbelievable how many thoughts you are claiming are in my head that aren’t there and words in my mouth I never said.

    I am familiar with many of the sources you mention, but you fail to admit that many survivors and those struggling to get there do not agree with your narrow view that people with these junk science stigmas with or without delusions or psychosis are having a spiritual experience.

    You cite and quote Sasha Dubrul, so I found his article where he reviews and praises your book that I recalled, but in the end, he doesn’t agree with your conclusions:

    http://www.madinamerica.com/2012/05/mad-pride-and-spiritual-community-thoughts-on-the-spiritual-gift-of-madness/

    Many of the comments there also express frustration with your narrow view.

    You totally missed my point. Ron Leiffer makes the excellent point that though he doesn’t buy the bogus psych stigmas and drugging, if you don’t want to be subjected to forced commitment and forced drugging, you’d better shape up and fly right or act normal. I think Sasha is saying that too when he speaks of the need for wellness after he went off the deep edge and I don’t think David Oaks and others you cite would disagree either.

    I think you are misunderstanding me in that you of all people should know that trying to explain your real life problem, crisis or even spiritual emergency/experience to a biological psychiatrist is a lesson in futility in that they will just cherry pick what you say to give you a bogus stigma and lethal drugs. As you very brilliantly said, their goal is to push the lethal drugs only and they don’t even pretend to heal anyone!! So, anything you say like the above will just be used against you by the mental death profession and its cohorts in NAMI and the brainwashed public at large. As Sasha says, such spiritual experiences or so called “mad pride” may be okay to share with those who understand, but he also points out that it is crucial to be well and act sane if one is to survive, thrive and be of any help to the survivor movement. Many people protested because some like Sasha believe a trauma perspective is more or equally apppropriate which I detailed in a post above. One of the great crises of trauma is a loss of one’s spiritual or religious faith or SHATTERED ASSUMPTIONS per Janov-Bultman’s trauma book, so restoring or finding a new spiritual path can be crucial to one’s recovery, but safety comes first per Dr. Judith Herman in her classic TRAUMA AND RECOVERY.

    Many people stigmatized with bogus psych disorders have suffered a great deal in many different ways, so I question your tendency to lump everyone’s experience together as some glorious mystical experience when many are anything but that and can end in suicide and/or destroyed lives. You are probably accurate in some cases I am sure, but I think each individual has the right to define his/her experience rather than having it defined by you though you accuse me of doing this.

    I disagree with you that Jesus was schizophrenic in that I believe many descriptions in the NT about his spiritual experience and awakening are based on religious/spiritual metaphors of the times. Yes, his family supposedly accused him of being crazy, but based on my studies, much “tailoring” was done to the original manuscripts and probably the oral tradition they came from. I don’t see anything crazy about Jesus’ behavior, but rather the wisdom of a very enlightened man if you ignore the diatribes against the Jews and pharisees that were added later per Dominic Crossan that aren’t even historically accurate. Plus, Jesus was a Jew and per one Jewish expert, probably a pharisee himself, so lots of the garbage added to the NT makes no sense. This is a very complex topic, so I won’t go into it here.

    It seems that you deliberately assumed the worst of everything I have said. When I spoke of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it was only with the idea that if one is starving, lacking a safe place to sleep or other bare essentials it is hard to think of much else for most people. Yes, the Buddha left his wealthy family and experimented with all kinds of self abuse and flagellation to get enlightened only to find futility until he AWOKE under the bodhi tree to understand the true causes of suffering and rebirth as the story goes. This was a long and painful journey as it is for anyone who seeks “enlightenment” or to travel along a spiritual path. That’s all I was trying to say rather than some nefarious agenda to deprive the poor, starving and homeless the same path to enlightenment and I am sure some very special individuals do just that. But, that is not the same as the dessert monks choosing such harsh living conditions to achieve certain spiritual goals instead of having such a fate forced on one due to the greedy, evil people stealing far more than their fair share of the world’s wealth.

    This is such a huge topic one could go on all day, but it’s getting late. All that I can say is that I think you over reacted to what I said and ended up accusing me of what it seems you are trying to do: making the false assumption that everyone’s experience with the mental death profession, altered states of psychosis/delusions and other stigmatized experiences are “spiritual gifts of madness.” Some people are atheists, agnostics and some are religious and/or spiritual, but you just can’t paint everyone with the same brush; that’s all I was trying to say along with trying to pass off psychosis and delusions as spiritual awakenings to the mental death profession and a brainwashed public may be a very dangerous lesson in futility given that they lie and deny the obvious like domestic violence as I explained in a post above.

    Interesting that you didn’t comment about some of my other points like the dangers of psychopaths to society. Are you familiar with any of this research of work I cited?

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  22. Hi Donna
    You write, “You cite and quote Sasha Dubrul, so I found his article…” I did NOT cite and quote Sascha. I mentioned him because I did not think it would be fair to omit someone as well known and dedicated to the movement as he is.But his views are too conservative for me. In every article I have written since my book was published I mention my disagreement with Sascha. I discuss how he originally expressed views similar to mine but changed his mind in 2008. Now Sascha considers my vision and his vision of 2008 to be “grandiose.”
    I believe in “grandiosity.” As Henry Miller wrote, “All that maters is that the miraculous becomes the norm.”

    I devote 60 pages to my disagreement with Sascha in the book itself. The Spiritual Gift of Madness http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiritual-Gift-Madness-Psychiatry/dp/159477448X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362598238&sr=8-1&keywords=farber+gift I quote about 5 pages of statements he made in 2004–8 in which he describes the mad as a spiritual “vanguard.” The chapter ends with recent statement by him and my response. I said above in my description of my books that “most” of the people I interviewed in my books(I wrote one in 1993 that has 7 interviews) agree with what you call my “narrow view” that psychiatric survivors “with or without delusions or psychosis are having a spiritual experience.”

    I am not sure what you meant in your paragraph on Maslow. I think it is unclear and I was wrong to presume I knew what you meant to say. I’m sorry. Now that you reformulated it, I completely agree. But we have substantive disagreements.

    I’m trying to determine our differences, and there is a difference.Let me quote you a couple sentences from my statement to which you responded. I wrote above “The Mad pride movement has the potential to be the most radical movement since the 2nd Great Awakening… Precisely because –as Laing realized –many of the mad had visions (“hallucinations”) of a new order, of a messianic-redemptive transformation. (Yes of course they also suffered–I always have to say the obvious to preempt copious objections)” Did you see that statement in parenthesis? Let me explain it. Considering that I was writing a very brief composition it seemed to me to be both obvious and irrelevant to note that madness involves suffering.Yet if I do not say the obvious many people will write me accusing me of claiming that madness is all happiness and light—as they used to say of Laing. So even though it is “obvious” to any intelligent person in touch with reality that madness involves suffering I repeated it again in the parenthesis in an effort to “preempt copious objections.” Really Donna it never works. People always make the same objections anyway. It is a waste of my time having to say that and having to discuss this now. But I am doing this because , as I said, very intelligent people like yourself make silly objections. How could anyone who interacted with so called schizophrenics or other sensitive people claim that madness was sheer joy?How could anyone who is aware not be in deep pain about the state of the world? Yet EVEN WHEN I SAY “yes of course madness involves suffering” people still DO NOT SEE THE VERY WORDS. Or they –YOU–do not assimilate them. When The Icarus Project first called madness a gift they said it was a dangerous gift that needed to be nurtured.

    This is the problem I have in making my argument. Because I say madness is a transpersonal experience rather than a disease or a wound or a tragedy, people assume that I am making a very shallow argument. Thus you write

    ” I don’t agree that glorifying madness will ever help anyone in the system or at risk from it…”
    Neither Laing nor Perry nor Campbell have ever glorified madness. Nor have they or I glorified mysticism. Or spirituality. Or love. I cherish madness and think it should be nurtured. Would it not be stupid if I were to say love does not involve any suffering? Yet if I said “Love is a redemptive force” probably no one would say “You are glorifying love.” I would not feel I had to put in parenthesis a caveat that love involved suffering.

    You wrote,”I question your tendency to lump everyone’s experience together as some glorious mystical experience when many are anything but that and can end in suicide and/or destroyed lives.” Is it not true that love can end in suicide and/or destroyed lives?.. Listen to AM radio. Read Shakespeare. Read Dylan Thomas. Just turn on the TV and watch Jodi Arias.
    Does that mean we should disparage love. Renounce it? I would not agree, even though love is difficult.

    If you read Wm James or Evelyn Underhill you will see that mysticism OFTEN involves great suffering. From whence comes this idea that spirituality means all happiness and light? If the world were sane it would. But it is not. It’s insane. It’s new age escapism to insist that spirituality should be free of pain.

    The difference between you and I is not over whether madness involves suffering. It is my “narrow view” that psychiatric survivors “with or without delusions or psychosis” are in most cases having “a spiritual experience.” I am referring to so-called schizophrenics and so called adult bipolars. I am not talking about a 12 year old who has been on drugs for 5 years.
    When I first discovered the survivors’ movement it was 1988 and most were former “schizophrenics” who had had spiritual experiences. Now it’s different because half the population are psych survivors. They put them on drugs at 6–or 2. Sascha and I completely disagree now.It’s discussed in detail in my book. Frankly I don’t think he really answered my point but you could decide for yourself. Sascha still has not read –or he had not a year ago–Laing or John Weir Perry or Breggin (or Szasz?), so I still get the impression he had not completely defined his position–or that it is still evolving.

    But Paul Levy, a psychiatric survivor around my own age (60) agrees with me. You can read his discussion with me on his website.SCroll down on the right at wwww.awakeninthedream.com He reprints the chapter from my book. I don’t have time to explain my ideas on this topic. To be quite frank I think my own ideas are seminal,since I am the only one who has tried to develop embryonic ideas expressed by Laing in the 1960s. Laing’s other fans are more conservative than I am. You can read a brief version of my thesis in an essay published on MIA. The essay is Szasz and Beyond:The Spiritual Promise of the Mad Pride Movement.It was published here in Nov 2012. My hope is to find a few mad people who agree with my thesis that they can contribute to the transformation of the earth-consciousness.

    I am not an expert on the historical Jesus. However Boisen, himself a psych survivor (a rare feat in 1934), bases his thesis on the Gospel version. BUt he also mentions St Paul and George Fox–founder of the Quakers. His point was that so called psychotics had a divine calling to contribute to the transition to a messianic age. My theory does not depend upon the assertion that all mad persons have had a spiritual experience, but that some have, many have. And it carries an obligation.(That doesn’t mean that the 12 year old on drugs is less worthy.)

    My original statement was in accord with what you said. Normal people are the major obstacle to spiritual change. Some are unhappy about it,but so was Eichmann. I don’t know whether the danger lies in evil people or people who just seek to adjust. This is a predatory society, and it does not matter that many psychiatrists feel bad about what they are doing. The kind of radical transformation that can save the planet was exemplified by the mental patients’ liberation movement.I can’t see how a trade union of psychiatrists’ would be radical enough to save humanity..

    THe Mad movement was radical because it redefined what was normative, because it called for creative maladjustment. Whether Mad Pride will fulfill its salvific potential depends upon whether a few among the mad have the courage to trust their vision and to seek to inspire a new Great Awakening, like the one in 1830 or in the 1960s. If creative maladjustment gives rise to the vision of a new spiritual order based upon the renunciation of our current social order, then there is hope. But not if visionaries suppress their visions, not if they too seek to adjust. Only if they have the courage to propagate a new Zeitgeist, a vision of a new order based upon the unfettered imagination and the redemptive power of love and madness.
    Seth
    http://www.sethHfarber.com

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  23. For the record Donna inadvertently misquoted me. She said I had written,”BTW, I am the one who invented the term ‘mental death system’ 15 years ago.” But I looked it over a couple weeks ago and noticed I actually wrote, “BTW I invented the term ‘mental death system’ 15 years ago, and I use it frequently. We live in a cannibalistic society.” In other words I did not write that I was “the one” who invented it. Thus as I said, “I wasn’t implying anything about you [Donna],”– I was not implying that our usage of a similar term was not coincidental,an assertion Donna accepted.
    We both also had a very similar perspective about the cannabalistic nature of society, something we both stressed.
    However we differed over my high assessment of madness.
    SF
    http://www.sethHfarber.com

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