Delirium on top of Dementia

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Nowadays, with our increasingly aged population, it is probable that the main cause of psychotic symptoms in the West is dementia. But what is less obvious is that most of the symptoms of demented patients may actually be due to delirium (that is, to acute confusional states).

The main causes of dementia are probably Alzheimer’s disease pathology (plaques and tangles), Lewy Body pathology (associated with Parkinson’s disease) and multiple strokes (atherosclerosis).

But much of the clinical pathology of dementia is very likely associated with delirium/acute confusion added on top of the dementia: because dementia greatly increases the susceptibility to delirium.

And delirium is, in principle, treatable, improvable.

Just think how often it is observed that demented patients get better from time to time (not completely better, but much improved), and have a few good days, or at least a good few hours.

This strongly suggests that these ‘good times’ are the clinical picture of dementia without the delirium – and that most of the time these patients are delirious.

In an old and demented brain, suffering from degenerative disease, it takes little to flip into delirium – this can be triggered by drug treatment and drug interactions, an infection, dehydration, lack of sleep or disturbed sleep, trauma, underlying tumour, autoimmune disease, or subtle degrees of any disease – hormonal, of a major organ system, and so on..

If – although this may be impossible in practice – all these potential causes of delirium could be checked and treated, restored to normal – I suspect that much of the apparent ‘dementia’ would be relieved.

Greater attention to encouraging regular and restorative sleep (in particular) and hydration, and much greater attention to the perils of drug treatment might help many specific individuals?

This matter of a super-added psychopathology in dementia is usually conceptualised in terms of ‘depression’ – yet this is misleading. In the first place, mainstream psychiatry has no coherent concept of what it means by ‘depression’ – so this is not an explanation at all, but rather a suggestion for ‘antidepressant’ treatment.

And if the real problem is delirium, then many ‘antidepressants’ are likely to worsen the situation, especially due to anticholinergic side effects. In the elderly and demented drug side effects are much commoner and more significant (and harder to rule out) than commonly realized.

On the other hand, there are suggestive reports of demented patients (of various types) benefiting from treatment with electroconvulsive/ electroshock therapy. In particular, ECT seems to help some patients with ‘Lewy body’/ Parkinsonian dementia – where the fluctuating, delirious and psychotic aspects are especially marked. While ECT is sometimes regarded as an antidepressant, it is probably more accurate to think of ECT as having a more general anti-delirium effect.

The take-home message is that much of the clinical pathology associated with dementia is probably not being caused directly by the irreversible dementia, but is instead secondary to the microscopic damage caused by the dementing process, and is a consequence of potentially-reversible delirium.

So the obvious symptoms and behavioural problems of at least some demented patients some of the time may be mostly an acute confusional state, which will sometimes clear away to reveal a much less-severely impaired person.

The measure of how demented a person is, is when that person is at their best, having a ‘good spell’; and all the rest is quite likely due to superimposed, temporary and perhaps reversible delirium.

26 COMMENTS

  1. For the life of me, I can’t see ever using ect on anyone, and certainly not older people with dementia. People with dementia have enough indignities heaped on them without ect also. I know I’m zeroing in on only one small aspect of this article, but I can’t stand ect used on anyone, period.

    • Quite right. The ECT “debate” always sort the wheat from the chaff in my experience.

      It’s not a surprise that older women are most at risk of getting this so called “treatment”. They are the group who are the least likely to make a fuss and just go along with the Dr.s orders.

      The loss of personal memories are at significant risk when ECT is used. That the loss of personal memories (the things that make us into us and define us as individual humans) can be so easily dismissed by enthusiastic psychiatrists speaks volumes…

  2. My mom was declining into states of confusion. Her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimers, so we were all preparing for her to continue to go the way her mom did. But she got some treatment for her thyroid, and lo and behold, her mental capacities returned to almost the state they were before the decline! Loss of sleep was clearly a factor as well. But sleep, blood pressure and orientation all improved with appropriate treatment of her thyroid condition.

    I agree with Stephen about the use of ECT. Putting electricity through someone’s brain to induce a seizure is not therapy – it’s just plain stupid and brutal!

    —- Steve

  3. It appears that Bruce Charlton has deleted an article and comments exposing that he is another stealth psychiatrist denigrating admittedly horrible psych drugs only to push the even more deadly, brain damaging ECT. As I have cited elsewhere many times on this web site and another recent ECT article still on the MIA front page, there are many studies like those of Bentall and Read that expose ECT as causing brain damage, permanent memory loss, loss of one’s career and livelihood due to loss of skills, heart attack, death, suicide and a host of other lethal effects with the worst thing being that ECT is totally useless causing Bentall and Read to conclude ECT cannot be justified in any way. Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath and many other famous people committed sucicide shortly after being tricked into ECT when they realized their loss of memory and skills destroyed their writing careers and very selves.

    I also cited that Harold Sackheim, long term major, very influential ECT advocate and proponent, finally completed the government studies for which he was paid at the end of his career whereby he finally admitted that his many victims were right in that ECT does cause brain damage, permanent amnesia and other horrible life destroying effects. It also came out that Sackheim had huge ties to an ECT machine manufacturer throughout his career.

    Many psychiatrists are taking advantage of the exposure of lethal brain damaging psych drugs to promote the more lucrative and more lethal brain damaging ECT, which is apparently Bruce Charlton’s mission here.

    Charlton’s claim for the efficacy and safety of ECT is completely discredited given the many studies and evidence that expose the opposite. Of course, as Dr. Peter Breggin exposes, all of psychiatry’s horrific drugs, ECT and other torture treatments “work” by causing brain damage, disabling the brain, lowering intelligence and reducing the victim to the lowest level of humanity if they can imprison and/or con/force their victims long enough. So, in the sense of destroying brains and lives I guess you could agree that ECT like psych drugs “work.”

    See the great book, DOCTORS OF DECEPTION, by a so called ECT survivor recommended by Bob Whitaker that exposes the horrible consequences of ECT. Also, see the other ECT article currently on this front page where I posted the horrific truth about ECT exposed by a neurologist and many experts on the topic.

    I’m glad Bruce Charlton has revealed his true agenda of helping to bring back the barbaric practice of ECT to destroy more lives with such psychiatric tortures also described in Whitaker’s MAD IN AMERICA.

    I hope Bruce doesn’t censor this comment like my other one.

      • Duane,

        I said nothing about motives. I simply commented on exactly what Bruce Carlton said and did in terms of promoting brain damaging ECT as the only safe and effective treatment for the problems he cites while demonizing neuroleptics as brain damaging.

        Until Bruce Carlton made it clear that the only treatment he advocates is brain damaging, life destroying barbaric ECT, it appeared that he was on the side of psychiatric survivors, which Dr. Breggin calls a stealth psychiatrist in the reform movement.

        Once Bruce Carlton did expose his ECT advocacy all too clearly it was/is all too clear where he stands with regard to human rights and safety among those stigmatized with bogus DSM labels.

        Thus, this has nothing to do with trying to assess his motives, but rather, seeing the light that Bruce Carlton is a great ECT advocate, which Dr. Breggin exposes as one of the many forms of lobotomy biological psychiatry uses to destroy/disable the brains of their victims in the guise of help. Dr. Breggin states that if one wants to be a part of the reform movement of psychiatry, a basic rule should apply: No lobotomy whether it is electrical, chemical or surgical!!

        It doesn’t take a genius, mind reader or expert in the science of motivation to see that Bruce Carlton makes no secret of the fact that he is an advocate of brain damaging, memory destroying ECT while denigrating brain damaging psych drugs, which amounts to the pot calling the kettle black.

        Anyway, the critical thing here is to expose the deadly effect of ECT and not nit pick over semantics.

          • Duane,

            Thanks for clarifying. I guess I am a bit sensitive since I have been censored for supposedly attributing motives to people when what I really was saying in the words of Emerson…

            “Your actions are shouting so loudly at me I can’t hear your words.”

            As Jesus said, “By their fruits, you shall know them….beware wolves in sheep’s clothing…”

            Anyway, as I said, I thought Bruce Carlton started out on a fairly positive note showing how all medicines are poisons and one must discern if the original illness or the remedy is the lesser of two evils.

            Then, Bruce Carlton seemed to make a fairly rapid transition to promoting ECT as an effective, life saving treatment as compared to brain damaging neuroleptic drugs, which we know is total fraud given the many studies and evidence available now.

            Sound familiar? Again, see Dr. Peter Breggin about stealth psychiatrists who are thought to be part of the reform movement of psychiatry.

            I must say Bruce Carlton exposed his advocacy for ECT rather quickly and I just responded with all the studies and evidence that show ECT to be a brain damaging, memory/life destroying, barbaric human rights abuse that should be abolished and would be if those stigmatized as “mentally ill” were recognized as full humans with equal rights like other humans.

            Pretty horrific to acknowledge this nasty truth in a supposed democracy, don’t you think?

  4. Sorry, I got the spelling wrong in that it is Harold Sackeim and here is a great article about his belated studies admitting the sordid truth about brain damaging, memory robbing ECT. His many victims were grateful for his being better late than never when finally admitting that they were right all along though Sackeim used their bogus “mental illness” stigmas to discredit them so he could continue his lucrative brain damaging ECT at their ongoing horrific expense.

    http://psychiatricnews.wordpress.com/2007/02/03/shock-for-ect-proponents/

  5. I used to work with older people with dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease. I saw a woman transferred to the older psych services where she was given ECT and I was powerless to stop it. I couldn’t believe that this was happening because it’s adding brain injury to brain injury.
    I am against the use of ECT and psychosurgery – we still have a centre in the UK which does surgery on voluntary patients who request it typically as a ‘last resort’ treatment – no one should be lobotomized.
    I find your statement bizarre Bruce, if you had Parkinson’s why on earth would you want ECT especially given there are proper neurosurgical procedures for people with Parkinson’s to specifically target an area in the brain [hence being awake during surgery to speak/respond] which can reduce the dreadful tremors.
    No, I cannot accept your line of argument regarding ECT as a rapid treatment in psychosis, if you mean in the case of ‘catatonia’ [which I’ve experienced], no this is not necessary – people come out of that state with time, kindness, reassurance, regular communication making it clear there are no demands for a response, and basic physical care to ensure hydration etc. Using ECT is like using a sledgehammer. John Breeding has a video on ‘catatonia’.
    There’s plenty of clear evidence from survivors of lasting damage from ECT – loss of specific skills and large chunks of memory.

    Donna – Dr. Breggin states that if one wants to be a part of the reform movement of psychiatry, a basic rule should apply: No lobotomy whether it is electrical, chemical or surgical!!

    Yes – so long as we don’t ostracise those survivors who choose it. Most don’t choose ECT/psychosurgery so I’m referring to drugs, also not all drugs are horrific, I’m thinking of ad hoc judicious use of sleepers/benzo’s, in small amounts for limited periods of time it can help some people manage a crisis/get some sleep. Likewise there are others who find cannabis helpful in managing differences in perception. That’s a real no-no in the UK as British psychiatry is hell bent on cannabis being a cause of psychosis which I don’t buy, not when people have used after diagnosis! Also, if this were the case half or people under 25 would be hospitalised.

  6. Joanna, I think the issue is informed consent about the drugs which very few people get. Benzos can be very dangerous, addictive, cause panic attacks, rebound anxiety, blackouts, memory loss, brain damage and other horrible effects. If you are familiar with Stevie Nicks of the famous rock group, Fleetwood Mac, her story is great evidence of how one get get addicted to and almost destroyed by benzos.

    Anyway, ECT is all the more brain damaging, life destroying and traumatic not to mention barbaric, so I don’t think anyone should be subjected to such crimes against humanity. It’s hard to believe anyone would CHOOSE psychiatry’s toxic treatments with full informed consent, which nobody ever gets!

  7. Donna,
    I learnt about the toxic effects of physical treatments 30 years ago and I’m against forced treatment, that’s long done & dusted for me, ok.
    There are some people who choose [whether we like it not] to use “antipsychotics”, ‘mood stabilisers’, sedatives, etc on an ongoing basis, i.e. every day, for many years/decades.
    I know exactly what you mean about the nature of ‘choice’ because often survivors are not given the level of information you and I are knowledgeable of, and that’s one of the roles of informed survivors, to put out that information which I do and I can see you do.

    However, you have to face the fact there are survivors who are fully informed of the hazards or shelve those facts in their heads and they take them for a variety of reasons. Some have been on some sort of medication for so long they do not feel able to be completely without anything, and others fear they will lose any support they have, then others are not able to withstand either the physical effects of withdrawal or facing the reality of their unmedicated thoughts and feelings.
    I have good friends in this position and don’t you think I’ve talked extensively with them about this?

    Then there are those who use meds on a very different basis such as I described, ad hoc, short periods of time, like days to a month either with the heavy stuff or benzo’s/sleepers. For them using it very judiciously and as infrequently as possible can enable them to sleep, avoid coming to the attention of services, or keep their jobs and children.

    Now in an ideal world we can wish for them not to do so, but we do have to face the fact that whether we like or not some people will. So we have a choice to either chastise them, endlessly go on at them about how they are poisoning themselves, or, if it’s fairly clear that even with the best support in the world they are still going to use it, then accept however grudgingly that is ultimately their choice. I am not going to walk away from my friends and fellow survivors who take medication.

    Yes I find it hard to imagine consenting to ECT, [and not at all for psychosurgery] for myself, I cannot ever picture that, I think I’d rather die first, but I do grasp the hellish reality of hopelessness and despair that they subject themselves to these treatments. I see a parallel with self-harm here, ideally we don’t want to see anyone ending up needing surgical or medical repair for their self-harm but telling people to not self-harm won’t stop it from happening. So we offer harm-minimisation approaches for example to lessen the damage of self-harm and hold out a hand in the hope that alternatives can be located, so that self-harm becomes not the sole option.

  8. Hi Joanna,

    I’ve been enjoying our back and forth comments and think you make a lot of great points.

    Given what you said, I can only use my former smoking habit as an example of why I don’t agree with you about aiding and abetting people when imbibing poison in the guise of medicine, a high, relaxer, etc.

    People hassled me the whole time I smoked, doctors bullied me and increasingly smokers were treated like lepers for this noxious, deadly habit, making it hard to find a place to smoke. Then, I found out my son was sneaking cigarettes. That was it. It was one thing to self destruct, but he was/is the love of my life and I was willing to do anything to get him to stop including quitting myself, promising constant bribes to get my son to quit and on and on until he did quit. At the same time, we both adopted healthy diets, exercise and a much more positive life style.

    What I learned was that even though it doesn’t appear to be working, when people are taking poison for whatever reason, those constantly hammering the message home that it is poison do get through the stubborn defences of such lethal, highly addictive habits like smoking that are physical and psychological. Because I had to learn that the hard way, I made sure my son got the message much sooner and younger because I grew up in a very different time and world.

    So, just like cigarettes, chewing tobacco, binge drinking, eating toxic junk food and other lethal habits, while it is true that people may continue to do them, I think those who care about them should not condone or support it in any way, but rather, lovingly encourage them to stop!! Misery loves company. On the other hand, being nasty and abusive about it rather than loving and supportive will probably just bring out a stubborn rebellious cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face attitude as I learned from my own history of stupidity!!

    As you say, however, people have the right to make their own choices, but are deadly psych drugs ever a real choice? Same with any other toxic substance to numb the pain including cigarettes, junk food, booze…name your poison!

  9. Likewise Donna,
    Except the withdrawal from psych drugs is not like cutting on hamburgers or quitting cigarettes physiologically or emotionally.
    There street drug addicts who have also survived psychiatry would tell you that heroin withdrawal is a walk in the park compared to psych meds where for some people it’s taken years to get off them. I don’t think that ‘antipsychotics’ compare to cigarettes.
    Being a good friend or supportive peer doesn’t mean condoning, but we do have to accept that for some people no amount of gentle persuasion is going to cut it, I have friends who have taken medication for 40 years and that isn’t going to change. If kept on and on at them, no matter how creatively and nicely they would end up feeling hounded, how many years do you keep on at a person? It goes without saying that if I see any new evidence I offer it, I still take any opportunity to reach out to them, but I cannot chastise or disown them as I have seen others do. If I did that I would lose my humanity. I can love the person but not like everything they do.
    I know what you mean about choice, how far is it truly a choice but I can think of a couple of people for whom I can hand on heart say that for them I know it is their genuine choice. They are not under pressure or threat, they are not taking it in order to secure service or welfare support, and they have no angst about their decision and live decent lives.
    My personal philosophy in life is this – I cannot act against a person’s wishes ultimately [rightly or wrongly], that’s who I am. So if someone says to me ‘I’ve escaped from hospital the police are looking for me please will you hide me and say you haven’t seen me?’ – the answer is YES I will.
    Equally I’ve helped others secure detainment or medication because that’s their choice too.
    Szasz is very important to the American survivors movement and he stood for freedom of choice so that has to include choices we might never choose for ourselves.
    I think of one dear friend on Clozapine who goes to bed every night with a towel under her face because she has excess saliva and it hurts me to the core of my being, but in over 20 years I haven’t been able to persuade her to come off, but I do sometimes succeed in encouraging her to reduce the dose to a level more comfortable for her, and I have to take those small victories.
    I remember in my youth being an event I was very strident and out there and questioned why another young woman was poisoning herself etc, with age I’ve realised that even with the best will in the world not everyone is willing or able to take that step and if they can bear to endure it then I have to bear the pain of seeing it.

    • Joanna,

      Hey, I wasn’t suggesting acting like the gestapo because if that was the case, you may as well turn them over to the mental death profession.

      I’ve done lots of research on things like smoking, eating junk food and other addictive habits; do you realize that all of these corporate cartels have experts in labs coming up with the exact chemical combinations that will make us the most addicted?? As I was trying to quit smoking, the tobacco industry was adding more nicotine and other more addictive substances to cigarettes while outwardly insisting they weren’t addictive. They got caught and charged huge fines for such lies by the government, but I didn’t see a penny.

      Sorry, many heroin, alcohol and cocaine addicts have admitted cigarettes were more addictive than their other drugs. I’ve studied a lot about this issue for personal and other reasons.

      Anyway, that’s beside the point. As you probably know, people have to be weaned off psych drugs usually, but I know of people who went off almost cold turkey and didn’t have the great problems many others claim. I guess it also depends on how long one has been on these poisons and how much harm has already been done to the brain and body.

      Yes, it’s true that once someone knows all the facts and I mean all, you can’t force somebody to quit a life destroying addiction and I sure wasn’t saying one should abandon them because that’s the worst thing you could do with somebody in the throes of self destruction and addiction.

      Aren’t these people having some of the horrible, adverse health effects these poison drugs routinely cause?

      I have to say that one thing I have found helpful is to try to fully educate myself about the health and other consequences of my smoking, junk food, over eating tendencies and others, which I had largely tuned out when I was young and had the delusion there were no consequences because I didn’t feel/see them YET.

      Perhaps as some of the harmful consequences like obesity, diabetes, tardive dyskinesia and others start showing up these people you are talking about may have more incentive to seek better alternatives. Have they been unbrainwashed about psychiatry? Consider Laura Delano’s story about how she went from totally brainwashed by psychiatry to the total opposite stance when she managed to free herself from all the lies, which took some time and pain.

      Anyway, I don’t know these people and it’s not for me to judge. What I said here and elsewhere is that though people may seem literally dead set on taking the poison drugs or other self destruction, being lovingly reminded about that can have an impact even if it is only to know somebody cares until one can care more about themselves I found.

      I was trying to explain my own process and my son’s much more rapid one when it came to giving up smoking, junk food and other unhealthy habits that are highly addictive. My son grew up in a much different environment where smokers are treated like lepers, so it was easier for him in such an environment than one that made smoking seem cool. The fact he was a lot younger helped too. I found that being shown love and compassion as well as concern about being self destructive were the best medicine. I offered my son constant bribes to quit smoking like new boots he wanted, etc., but the whole time I pleaded with him to stop smoking, he knew it was because I loved him so much, I didn’t want him to continue that horrible habit. I really went ape when he substituted chewing tobacco I found often caused much more rapid deadly mouth cancer at much younger ages. I sent him many articles and pictures of young guys whose faces looked horrific due to mouth cancer eating away large parts of their faces and the many early deaths that followed. This was not mere fear mongering, but the facts and the truth and my son knew I was doing it because I loved him so much and didn’t want it to happen to him. I’m happy to say my son no longer imbibes in tobacco or junk food, works out regularly and is in great shape. And I am so proud of him!

      Anyway, that’s where I am coming from. I know of psych drug withdrawal/quitting situations too, but I am not at liberty to go into that though I’m equally relentless in that area too knowing what I know now.

      As I said before, I’ve enjoyed our comments back and forth. I think you have made many very intelligent, well informed comments and provided some great articles and support for your views. I also like your funny things like bad hair day disorder I sent around!

      It sounds like you are a great friend and the people you describe are very lucky to have someone like you.

      • I know you weren’t Donna – I have seen it in others outside of here – but I do know you were not suggesting that.
        You’re quite correct in what you say about cigarettes as compared to other street drugs and food and how companies deliberately chemically addict us for their profits.
        The weaning off psych drugs is so variable and individual, I know someone who was on depot injections and oral ‘antipsychotics’ all at maximum ‘therapeutic’ [what a shitty term!] dosage for 12 years and he went completely cold turkey after escaping a section and it was hard, he was initially incontinent and it took months of terrible withdrawal effects but he came through it and never looked back. Whereas others come off it relatively easily, or as you say wean themselves off it gradually. Coming off gradually does seem to work best for most people who do so.
        Some have the health effects, one is now coming off lithium because of her kidneys but my friend on Clozapine has actually lost a friend through this very drug [agranulocytosis] so I think if that doesn’t do it for her nothing will, but they wouldn’t view their lives as being one of self-destruction and they’re not even brainwashed by psychiatry neither. I know this is very hard to grasp, it was for me, that sometimes people can have all the info, not be under duress, not be wedded to the medical model, but still take it. It never stops hurting..but then it should hurt, it’s testimony to the long term damage psychiatry inflicts. It’s like a nuclear weapon, even after the initial blast killing millions there are just as many millions suffering from radiation sickness and further out from the blast zone those affected long term with cancers. It takes many generations to recover. Even if we got rid of psychiatry tomorrow we would still have loved ones and peers remaining on drugs for the remainder of their lives, but I hold the hope of a generation never offered, never forced, and never using psych drugs. I won’t see that in my lifetime but I carry that beautiful dream – it will happen.
        My fear for now is, generally speaking, [this isn’t levied at you], my fear is that for whatever reasons people start or continue taking medication that I’ve seen a widening divide in our movements between those who take meds and those who don’t, and I really worry some of our peers will be left behind because I’ve seen people be rubbished for their choices and that doesn’t support anyone’s self-esteem. We must not allow a 2 tier system to develop. I’ve also witnessed this divide in other areas i.e. those who are employed, and those who are not or doing voluntary work, those who define themselves as being or in recovery and those who do not.
        These are the issues which have the potential to divide us more than anything and sometimes it even pits people against each other. Psychiatry and the political system that operates within is where it’s at. For friends and peers, I hold the hope, and try to find the common ground.

        Your kind, warm and generous words touch me, and especially at a time when I am not feeling good about myself and living, so I thank you.
        You have impressed me with your intellect and analysis, and I really like your relentlessness, I’d love to see you in action at an event!
        The sisterhood is blessed to have you.

        • Joanna,

          I’m so glad I found this thread of our conversation here because I had lost it and couldn’t remember where it was to find this very supportive, kind comment you left. As I said I had been enjoying our exchanges, but when you read and/or leave comments on many articles, it can be hard to find certain ones after a while.

          Anyway, I think we agree on many things and you seem to be a great friend for anyone to have by trying to support them by advocating for their best interests while respecting their right to make their own decisions (hopefully with full informed consent).

          I admit I am very much against supporting psychiatric DRUGS and I don’t think any of us should be calling these VILE poisons medications ever!! Since I was a smoker and took tons of very nasty licks for that nasty habit by lots of very self righteous people, I don’t feel the need to apologize for my contempt for psychiatric drugs that I have for cigarettes. At the same time, having been such a nicotine addict, I don’t think I am in a position to JUDGE anyone for smoking or taking any drugs or act superior or put people down for it because that would be hypocritical. Many people have lost their jobs and careers thanks to the bogus, life destroying stigmas by the mental death profession combined with the lethal drugs, invalidation and other crimes, so I think the real problem is psychiatrists and their evil Satanic DSM bible of insults, adultname calling, false accusation, curses, spells and other witchcraft, inquisitions and demonizing.

          Do you see the difference? The whole time I hounded and bribed my son to stop smoking he knew how much I loved him and understood I did not want him to repeat my mistake of smoking now that all the horrible effects of smoking are known. But, if he hadn’t stopped or was unable/unwilling to do so, I still would have loved and supported him while not judging him in some phony superior way, but feeling much sadness at his continuing such self destructive behavior. Yes, I can be relentless, so I wouldn’t have just watched him continue to smoke silently, but rather, continue to lovingly try to encourage him to stop! HA HA Now, he’s very tough on me about health matters like eating right, not smoking, etc.! I hope you see the difference between despising the murderous corporations/politicians/mental death experts and their cohorts in crime who push lethal nicotine, psych drugs and other poisons on children and teens, the main victims of these psychopaths. The poison pushers should be condemned and jailed while the victims deserve love, support, compassion and any help we can give them.

          So, I think the movement should focus on the perpetrators of these crimes and not the horrific consequences to the stigmatized, drugged, shocked, often destroyed victims who suffer in many different ways. I don’t think it is anyone’s right to judge other “survivors” since they can’t know the their whole story before and after they got trapped in the mental death system and haven’t walked in their shoes.

          At the same time, I think anyone in the “anti-psychiatry” movement should be against psychiatry’s bogus life destroying stigmas and lethal drugs even if some can’t get off them because it may seem too late for them or don’t feel they can survive without them once hooked/damaged too long with too many receptors, etc. Again, even when I was still smoking, I could certainly see and agree that I didn’t want other young teens to be preyed on with this poison or see my loved ones or anyone smoke. And people are not too kind or compassionate toward addicted smokers by any means, so I think it is a good analogy in that I don’t think people are as brutal toward those taking psych drugs. But, I feel there is a good analogy here in that though you may have gotten trapped into smoking or psych drugs due to circumstances and/or lack of information when you started, once you know the truth, I don’t think anyone should pretend they are good for one’s health, brain or well being. Rather, they should try to use their own situation to try to help others avoid similar suffering if at all possible.

          Anyway, I think the best thing to do is lovingly remind people of the horrible effects of such poisons and be supportive while hoping they will see the light and make their own decision to save their own health and lives.

          I’m sorry to hear you have been going through a tough time. I am also sorry I lost this thread because I wanted to check for your response, so I am really glad I found it because your kind words are an inspiration and learning experience for me as well. I also enjoy your humorous remarks and support as a real sister in solidarity.

  10. Hey Donna good to hear from you, I like reading what you have to say because you challenge me in a fiercely intelligent way, you’re straight and direct, it’s always a deeply considered position, and you take the time to seriously consider mine. Whatever we agree or disagree on, I like you.
    I watched a good programme the other day about Emily Wilding Davison with forensic scientists looking at the original footage of her getting killed trying to pin the suffragettes colours to the King’s horse. Many had wondered if it had been suicide because her circumstances were pretty dire by that point, but it’s clear now that it wasn’t, she simply misjudged the distance between herself and the horse and the speed at which it was travelling. When she was in prison she was force fed even after she had thrown herself down stairs in protest and fractured her skull and injured her spine, reckon if we had been alive then we’d have been window smashing with those dinky little ice picks hidden in their skirts.

    I say ‘drugs’ and ‘medications’ interchangeably, some survivors can get upset when I’ve said drugs because they associate that word with street drugs, so I would then say medication just so we could have a conversation.
    Medications do indeed feel a bit of a euphemism given their potential to inflict grievous bodily harm, I take a lot of medications for physical conditions, some of which I’d be dead without, they are real medicines to me. However I do sometimes take some psychoactive drugs when the sleep deprivation is so great that it could place my physical health at risk. There are also some psych drugs which have completely different applications such as for neuropathic pain [Gabapentin, Amitriptyline], I’m painfully aware that some people find those helpful for pain but the side effects can be horrible.
    Ah now ‘side-effects’, there’s a whole other conversation, it could be said that’s a euphemism too because the side-effects with ‘atypical antipsychotics’ ARE the effects!
    I take your point about medications and drugs but for some people they don’t pick up on the difference, and sometimes a bit like other words I will use them if it means I can get a professional or whoever to just listen to me, if language gets in the way of them hearing the message, then I don’t mind tweaking the words but still delivering essentially the same message. So for example, being with someone in a meeting to get whatever they’re on reduced or changed from capsules to [more easily breakable] tablets or liquid to make it easier to them to reduce it and titrate that reduction by smaller amounts. If that professional is only going to hear me as a mate advocating if I say ‘medication’ then I’ll say medication as a means to an end. Basically, if dancing naked and speaking in Klingon gets the desired end result I’ll give it a go!

    You most certainly don’t need to apologise for your contempt of psych drugs, I feel the same rage every time I look at someone suffering from the effects, every time it’s prescribed with no information, misinformation or outright lies.
    I do everything within my gift to offer full information, details of firsthand accounts of using it, the difficulty in getting off it, and the long list of GBH they can inflict through to the permanent damage such as Tardive Dyskinesia/Dystonia which I’ve seen at close quarters and I can offer a realistic enough demonstration of what that looks like, lastly the fatal consequences such as neuroleptic malignant syndrome and agranulocytosis.
    I’ll offer every hand I can in terms of info and support, and keep offering it [trying out different strategies] but I find if I hound it doesn’t work and can even push a person a way, so as with anything there are limits to what we can do. Some people genuinely feel they need them and that it’s been helpful so I won’t push them to make statements about that they don’t feel comfortable with. Like if I take some sleepers/benzo’s to put me to sleep, that works, it puts me to sleep, just as using an inhaler stops an asthma attack. It’s not something I desire or readily do, I’ll only do so as a last resort, but it ‘works’ for me because I sleep. I can’t make others state they know it’s not good for them to take drugs I would never take, nor is it their responsibility to persuade others to not start taking them. We each have to do what feels right in terms of activism and how we explain our personal decisions.

    Like you I won’t judge survivors for whatever decisions they take, and I think we need energy focussed in all different directions – at the consequences for survivors [I think there should be financial compensation for those seriously damaged], at the prescribers in a variety of ways [some might be persuaded to make drugs the last resort and not the first act which is a start], others would need a more robust approach, and the drugs companies [no holds barred]. Equally, some societal consciousness raising, people who have never had contact with psychiatry don’t realise what it’s about but might have to be approached with more conservative language and simpler educational steps [they have much more to catch up on].
    I do like drug company militancy…defacing posters at events, really pisses them off [we should have a Deface team]

    I guess for people who take them day in day out, it must be hard to be against the voluntary use of them when they take them. Being against the forced use of them is a much easier position to support.
    As for diagnoses, as much as most people in my country [by my reckoning] would happily see the end of DSM/ICD/Care Clusters there are those who would not and certain groups especially [personality disorder] would vigorously defend their position [for some accepting the label was the only way they could access help and find acceptance, acceptance of a leper’s colony type of acceptance], you would find debating with them quite tough. So for myself if anyone wants to take drugs and/or accept their diagnosis in the full knowledge that they have no scientific validity, then it has to be their choice.
    ‘Choice’ is not straightforward, and not just about legislation and forced treatment. Then there’s the thorny issue of diagnosis accessing all sorts of supports which people need to live and work. All our systems require a diagnosis, even to access non-medical self-defined support [like a personal assistant], for that to be funded needs a label somewhere along the line. The decent professionals work this out and so negotiate what name to put on the form and it’s a means to an end. Some people here would be scared that they could lose support, as many are already, so my thinking is in our campaigns we need to be saying psych classification systems are shit with no validity, BUT, people’s distress and support needs ARE real, therefore we have to work out practically, socially, politically, how we junk the rubbish but ensure people get the support they need using their own descriptions [for which we might have to develop a shorthand for, for administrative purposes as a ‘formulation’ paragraph will be too long for some systems].

    Thank you for your kind words, you convey warmth and care which for me are two of the most healing gifts we can offer each other.

  11. Hi Joanna,

    I’m glad you found my post. Nice to hear from you again. You raise many good points about psychiatric survivors.

    Actually, we have what the BOSTON GLOBE exposed as the “alternative welfare system” in the U.S. whereby poorer people are manipulated/forced to get themselves and/or kids “diagnosed” with a mental disorder and must take psych drugs so they can collect Social Security Disability. And of course, others who get caught in the system also have had that option. Frankly, I think this has been a big scam between corrupt politicians, BIG PHARMA and psychiatry to bilk the system by making profit centers out of the poor and their suffering not to mention these people have very few job options or sources of income. What makes this especially vile is that the U.S. has been cutting real welfare benefits to shreds leaving psychiatric disability about the only option for many desperate people. There is a web site by “THE LAST PSYCHIATRIST” (you can access it with the latter name) and he exposes the sham of our government pretending unemployment and welfare have gone down while not being very open about the huge increase in the Social Security Disability program. The author of this web site says part of the problem is people are getting older and the other problem is there are no jobs, so the disability program is the only way to help these people so they won’t riot since the right wing conservatives freak out about anyone getting welfare, etc. But, I think forcing psychiatric stigmas and toxic drugs on children in order for the family to survive is very evil to say the least.

    So, I understand what you are saying about these “diagnoses” being necessary to get related benefits. But, as you can see, this is a BIG PHARMA scam from which the power elite and BIG PHARMA made billions at the cost of many people and children being exploited and harmed. So, it doesn’t have to be this way, but I realize that some other form of safety net will have to be put in place as part of any reform in psychiatry. Of course, before the power elite scammed the system and created the latest fiscal crisis, the greatly increased disability numbers may not have been noticed too much. But, now that governments are struggling with austerity pressure from conservatives, this is probably putting pressure on them to reduce those enrolled as you are finding in England.

    When I said survivors still feeling they have to take psych drugs shouldn’t advocate them for others, I was speaking of those in the “anti-psychiatry movement” for lack of a better term. You are right that they don’t have a responsibility to enlighten others, but if they are in the survivor movement, I think they have a responsibility to “do no harm’ even if only to not advocate for these poisons. Just like when I see others smoking, I would feel like a criminal saying it was a great, fun, healthy habit–Not! I also expose the harm of psych drugs if anyone tells me they are taking them, but then I leave it up to them (unless they are a close relative! HA HA. I always encourage young people to quit smoking and it’s obvious they sure want to quit. So, I tell people what worked for me (finally). They know I’m not some hypocrite just trying to harass them, but rather somebody who feels sad to see young people smoking.

    Hey, if you and others know the effects of certain drugs and you feel the need to take them on a limited basis weighing the pros and cons, it’s not for me to judge or tell you what to do. I’m very anti main stream drugs/medicine myself now given my tons of research on it and near death experiences of loved ones, so I am more into natural alternatives and remedies. Have you tried Valerian Root as a sleep remedy? I have sleep problems myself and find that helps with sleep or if I get too keyed up even from my beloved decaf coffee. I also take fish and flax seed oil and B12 and other vitamins and supplements and follow the EAT TO LIVE diet by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, which advocates lots of salads, vegetables and whole foods and advises to eliminate junk food, refined carbs, lots of meat, etc. So, sometimes seeking natural alternatives and substitutes can help eliminate synthetic BIG PHARMA drugs. But, given my history and necessary reformation, I am in no position to judge you or anyone else. We all do the best we can until we can do better for sure!

    I’ve been reading some of your other posts and I can see/hear your frustration. Are you an advocate in the mental health system for others? It sounds that way. You certainly see the big picture. The problem is where I live, though there may be services available to say the homeless, many people don’t want them with the strings attached of psychiatric drugs and “outpatient treatment.” I did read an article recently I think in the GLOBE that now they are giving people like that what they call “housing first” without the forced treatment because they saw it was a losing battle in some cases. They don’t even tell the person they think they are mentally ill or give them a direct diagnosis. And the people they cited were doing much better; big surprise! I’d like to see some mental death experts be homeless for even a week and see what that does to their “mental health” before they judge others. It’s common sense!!

    Thanks for your kind words too. As I said, your friends are lucky to have you, so be sure to be good to yourself too. We have to keep our sense of humor, which I’ve enjoyed in our exchanges along with our commiserating about psychiatric abuses.

    So, the following video by Irish Comedian, Dave Allen, on his quitting smoking is my contribution to humor for today. It can be used for giving up any drug or “addiction.” Please watch and let me know how you like it.

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5320792/dave_allen_giving_up_smoking/

  12. What you describe from the Boston Globe really is evil I wholeheartedly agree, my jaw hit the keyboard reading your words.
    What is happening here is that survivors with an already diagnosed ‘mental illness’ who need benefits and/or other social supports to live or work are being systematically attacked on all fronts because of cuts/punitive policies [supported by all parties] and are the most prejudiced out of all ‘disabled groups’ i.e. physical illness or disability, and learning difficulties. We have a growing list of admissions and suicides where loss of that support has been cited as a major factor [either by coroners, letters left, or family/friends], and landing people in psychiatry at the worst possible end of it.
    I’m currently supporting someone going through her reassessment, these are tough degrading processes and she’s already been in intensive care after a near fatal overdose at the prospect of losing her income, home and support. I’m in no doubt whatsoever that if she has her welfare removed by this near impossible process, she will die.
    The cruel irony is that she was doing ok before this witch hunt took up speed. She has a decent family doctor who supports her wishes, managed to secure funding for a good therapist of her choosing. Her chosen personal assistants help her to live practically [she does have some physical problems too] and she did valued voluntary work.
    I absolutely support her position to live her life as she does and she should be supported, I believe in collective social responsibility, people like her should not be left to go cap in hand to a charity she should be supported by the state and indefinitely if required. That is her ‘recovery’ and no less valid than anyone else’s.

    Forcing diagnosis and drugs on people in exchange for the ability to live is despicable, equally, removing the ability to live of those already so labelled is equally inhuman. Worse when it is done in the name of ‘economics’ when it’s clear that is not the case, it’s driven by an ideology using the language of 1930’s fascism.
    What deeply saddens me is that I observe survivor movements often failing to recognise this and others have too.

    A friend in Eastern Europe said this;

    “I think the survivor movement (especially in the US and Western Europe) actively promotes this myth of recovery by walking away from psychiatry. It is a myth, a blown-up pop star reality, in the sense that it glorifies non-compliance at any cost. Meanwhile it trivialises or refuses to name what is absolutely mandatory for survival: money and housing, social support, physical health care and complete stability in all these things. To the extent that these essentials are available at all, they depend 100% on access to benefits or private resources. That is the reality. Refusing to address this is just unconscionable. It is irresponsible and immoral on so many levels. It gives the movement the feeling of a cult whose charismatic evangelist/entrepreneur leaders relay their heroic and motivating stories of ‘recovering’ through belief in God or Self [Recovery] alone, what bollocks. Reminds of something Clive James said about a socialite about town, “Misia didn’t care about material things as long as she had plenty of them.” I cannot forgive the survivor movement’s silence on these issues. Oppressed individuals rely on social movements to bring our struggles into the public domain, to politicise the personal. To speak up about the denial of human rights [the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to safe political expression]. I think this is true for all liberation movements. If there is silence, then the logical conclusion is that we are so abject that we do not matter…it begins to seem that this must be about sordid personal failure”.

    That’s a strong opinion from someone who has campaigned tirelessly against forced treatment and diagnosis.

    A friend here remarked;

    “Not everyone simply walks away from services and daily medication and that in itself just magics them into a ‘recovery’ including securing a nice job and home. There are also those employed by services as “recovery champions” who do the opposite of crediting walking away from services for their ‘recovery’ – they give credit to services for their ‘recovery’ – their lives and identities depend on doing recovery work for those same services. I see that as ‘dependency’ as well as a great disservice to other users”.

    Obviously any critique of their points I can’t answer for them but felt their views relevant to this discussion to reference.

    Yes, I see your point about advocating, if involved in the survivor movement it is indeed reasonable to expect some critique, and I have seen that, where they don’t ‘promote’ what they do for themselves but do demand proper information and real choice for others.

    Yeah I’m no fan of mainstream drugs neither, I wish I could not take some for physical conditions but I haven’t found alternatives, as for sleep, that’s a work in progress!

    Now that’s interesting what you say about housing because I have a nurse friend working in New York now and she’s worked in our most ‘high secure’ institutions here, that’s where I met her [as a visitor]. She impressed me because these three institutions are the very definition of hell. Staff who spoke out were sometimes directly threatened. Ultimately they burn out, but my point is she’s witnessed the worst we do to people. In her observation of US services as compared to UK services she said what others have said to me that yours are much harder to extricate yourselves from and easier to get into, whereas here despite the level of sections and CTO’s it is easier to fall through the net and escape hospital based sections. Apart from forensic services we don’t typically have the long admissions anymore. It’s possible to be placed on a section 3 [6 month treatment order] and be discharged within days to the crisis team/home treatment and their input is time limited. In fact the running joke amongst service users now is that if you actually want a service it’s so hard to access anything that you practically have to express homicidal feelings. If you presented to services citing suicidal feelings you wouldn’t automatically be offered anything at all, let alone be forcibly treated. This is about cuts to mental health budgets and how they use their definition of ‘recovery’ to suit their agenda.
    My friend in NYC also confirmed what you’re saying about housing being given a higher priority now…here it’s dire on that front because of changes to housing policy and housing benefit so psych services can do little there.

    Love the Dave Allen vid!! I enjoy the Savage Chickens: http://www.savagechickens.com/images/chickenhallucination.jpg

    • “. Ultimately they burn out, but my point is she’s witnessed the worst we do to people. ”

      She’s participated in it too. Or did she just stand back and witness?

      “Staff who spoke out were sometimes directly threatened.”

      Were they threatened with hypodermic needles like the detainees were? I’m not surprised in the least to hear they are “burning out”. Being guilty of human rights atrocities will do that to a person.

      It is self evident, that because the UK doesn’t offer commitment hearings and the level of due process the US does to people targeted for forced “provision of services” as you like to say in the UK, that it is easier to be forcibly drugged in the UK. The per capita rates of “outpatient” forced drugging are also higher in the UK.

      I say this only because you’ve repeated the contention several times that there are less protections from forced psychiatry in America. It simply isn’t the case.

      “In fact the running joke amongst service users now is that if you actually want a service it’s so hard to access anything that you practically have to express homicidal feelings.”

      Express regicidal feelings and I’m sure they’d see a swifter “provision of services”.

      • For those who do express regicidal feelings, and I know David Healy has probably “proven” a link between SSRIs and regicidal feelings, there is always the UK’s secret disappearance squad for stalkers.. truly one of the most chilling secret uses of extreme government power in existence in the western world.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-457934/Revealed-Blairs-secret-stalker-squad.html

        and of course in the UK if your extrajudicial forced drugging wasn’t legal, there is always the hope that ten years later the government will discover you’re one of thousands illegally detained and drugged

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2224797/New-mental-health-scandal-5-000-patients-sectioned-decade-doctors-properly-authorised.html

      • All mental health workers would have participated in and witnessed commitment and forced treatment in qualifying [including US hero’s], so what we just push away any potential allies who have been helpful to survivors, some of whom write here? You can I won’t.
        FYI some have been physically threatened or smeared by diagnosis on whistle blowing becoming unemployable, and some have refused to participate in some ‘treatment’.
        I’m not saying there are less protections in the US, you haven’t grasped what I’m saying and frankly if your ingrained hatred of our NHS and use of the Daily Mail is your main source of info about the UK I can’t be bothered to discuss anything further with you. Your neo-liberal views of welfare, social responsibility, and the position of survivors in a less fortunate position than yourself I find repugnant, so you’re welcome to reply in pages and criticise anything I say, but I will not be replying any further to you because I find lack of empathy just too chilling.

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