I think it’s helpful to see the psychiatric/pharmaceutical complex as being somewhat analogous to one of those large inflatable giants that you sometimes see hovering over car lot sales. Sure, it looks big and powerful, and it really is so long as “we the people” buy its propaganda and its drugs and continue feeding it billions of dollars and continue “bowing down” to its “almighty wisdom.” But its entire foundation consists of a model that simply doesn’t fit the research evidence at all, and quite frankly is propped up by many outright lies (see my other articles on MIA and my book, Rethinking Madness, for some of my deeper discussions on this).
So what this means, then, is that this inflatable giant has one particularly sensitive vulnerability—what we could call the “needle of truth.” If the mainstream population really knew and understood and were able to integrate the many truths and research studies that so many of us who are active here on the MIA forum are familiar with, I can’t imagine it would take very long at all before the “giant” succumbs to this sharp needle of truth. Pop!
So how do we pick up this needle of truth, and how do we jab the giant with it? Well, to begin with, this forum itself (Mad in America) has naturally evolved as a hub of truly inspirational people who have been working hard at sharpening and polishing this needle. I’m enormously grateful to Robert Whitaker, Kermit Cole, and others involved in establishing this forum. It’s been meeting many of my needs in a big way, including shared reality, open-minded exploration, mutual support, and hope. It’s also strengthened my own sense of hope and inspiration, especially during those difficult times when strong waves of hopelessness and futility move through me.
To give an example of such a wave (just one example of many), just last week, a new client who came to see me in my practice as a clinical psychologist informed me that he had recently gone to a doctor to discuss his difficulty with sleeping. What kind of support did he receive? Prescriptions for Lorazepam (a benzodiazapene), a nonbenzodiazapene hypnotic (sleeping pills), and Seroquel (an antipsychotic). Upon hearing this, I was struck by yet another wave of hopelessness. Wow, has it really gotten this bad? But then I recalled the many people who are active here (on MIA) and in other similar groups I’m connected with — people who really get the absurdity and tremendous harm of all of this —and some sense of hope returned.
One particular avenue of inspiration that has developed in me is a desire to devote some of my time and energy to community outreach, and it strikes me that we — the members of this forum — are in a unique position to create some real waves in the field by supporting each other in developing new community outreach projects and strengthening already existing ones. Of course, I recognize that much of this type of work is already being done here, and yet I also recognize that there is so much more that we need to do if we really want to take down this giant. So I’d like to share some of what I’m doing and invite others so inclined to chip in and/or share their own ideas and projects that they’d like some support with (please feel free to use the COMMENT section below for this).
So far, my own personal outreach has consisted of attempts to reach out to the mainstream population at large and to other professionals and academics in the mental health care field (which was the motivation behind the publication of my book, Rethinking Madness, and my continued writing and speaking in other forums and venues). For some time now, my time and energy have been stretched a little thin, as I’m sure are many of the other members here, so my own activities in this regard have taken something of a back burner. But lately, I’ve begun exploring ways of trying to get more involved again, and in particular, ways to hone in on the groups who I believe are the most instrumental in keeping the biopsychiatric paradigm so entrenched within the mainstream culture —groups such as mental health care workers, members of the pharmaceutical industry, and family support groups such as NAMI.
In my explorations of possible outreach projects, it’s occurred to me that internet discussion forums have grown exponentially in the past few years and many of them offer really good opportunities to target some of these groups more directly. For example, I’ve discovered that NAMI has quite an active group on LinkedIn (with over 10,000 active members), and last week I decided to use my recent blog posted here on MIA as an opportunity to present an alternative paradigm to this group and invite discussion. As many members of MIA must know, NAMI members tend to be among the most impassioned “bible thumping” advocates of biopsychiatry out there, and yet there are signs that some serious doubts may be creeping into their “faith,” especially when we consider the fact that Robert Whitaker has been invited to speak at their annual conference next month.
For those of you who don’t know, the way that these discussions on LinkedIn work is that for each comment a particular discussion receives, a mention of the article is made in the “Latest Updates” column at the top of the page, and a given commenter will also be listed in the “top influencer” column (also at the top of the main page) upon making a relatively high number of comments (I became listed here for the NAMI group after making only about 4 comments over the week). Also, each new discussion is posted at the top of the page and also emailed out to each member. In other words, it’s really not that difficult to create some significant waves and draw some attention, even within a group as large as the NAMI group. So I’d like to encourage anyone who is so inspired and who has a little time on their hands to take advantage of these ever increasing opportunities and consider jumping in on my existing discussion with the NAMI group, start new discussions in this and other similar groups, and/or share similar groups, discussions or other similar projects with the rest of us (again, feel free to use the COMMENTS section below for this).
The recent series of highly respected groups repudiating the DSM, the acknowledgment of a continued lack of evidence for the biopsychiatric model by the king drug pushers themselves (the APA), and now clumsy attempts at backpedaling all suggest that we may have some of the largest advocates and pushers of the biopsychiatric model “on the ropes.” Call me overly optimistic, but I’m pretty sure we’re seeing evidence that the “giant” is losing its balance. Right now may be one of those rare opportunities to go for the “knockout” blow. Sure, I know that it’s a David vs. Goliath battle, and I’d have a difficult time arguing with anyone who would accuse me of being naïve and even irrational in my belief that it’s possible to convert the biopsychiatric “believers.” But what have we got to lose? After all, David did take down the giant in the end.
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.