What We Talk About When We Talk About Bipolar Disorder


From the editor: Julie Leonovs (with help from Nick Redman) submitted this letter to the British network ITV regarding comments made by two guest speakers on the actor Stephen Fry’ s bipolar disorder and suicide attempts. 

RE: This Morning Programme: 6th of June 2013

On the 6th of June 2013, ITV This Morning hosted their usual show and their early morning feature the News Review. During this particular News Review regular guest speakers were asked to comment on topical news stories of the day. One story, which arose during this particular discussion, was about the actor Stephen Fry and his recent publicity on how he has battled with his ‘bipolar’ condition and suicide attempts. While we don’t have any issue with this and the important message Mr Fry was trying to put across, we do have concerns over the comments made by the two guest speakers. Let us highlight below our grave concerns with what was imparted to This Morning’s vast susceptible viewing audience.

Firstly, one of the issues raised over Mr Fry’s condition ‘bi-polar’ was about how people in emotional distress can become stigmatised by society. Both co-guest speaker then adamantly stated that stigma like this should not happen in society as the likes of Mr Fry with ‘bi-polar’ have a chemical imbalance in their brain. Whilst we do not condone stigma towards anyone and agree with the guest speakers on this, we have to stress that to then go on to categorically state that ‘bi-polar’ is caused by a chemical imbalance is highly misleading to your viewers.

Scientifically, there is no known test to detect and prove a ‘chemical imbalance’ in any mental health condition let alone ‘bi-polar’. This is myth that has been spread for years by the psychiatric system and pharmaceutical industries and to continue to do so does create adverse social, political and psychological implications. Many academics, survivors/service users, psychologists and psychiatrists have campaigned about this controversy within psychiatry for decades and continue to do so. Please note the evidence we provide below.

“When considering possible causes of ‘manic depression’, the prevailing medical view again favours physical causes such as a brain biochemical imbalance or genetic defect, despite the fact that no biochemical or genetic abnormality has been identified regarding what is called ‘manic depression’ or ‘bi-polar disorder.” (Lynch 2004 p.217) (Psychotherapist and General Practitioner)

“People have become willing recipients of the idea that their problems emanate from a chemical imbalance in their brains. The idea has diffused into public consciousness, fundamentally changing the way we view ourselves and the nature of our experience. (Rose 2004 cited in Moncrieff 2008 p.238)

Therefore it concerns us that this misinformation continues to be spread to your viewers (who are already being subjected to this misleading information daily in society). We feel it is wrong to continue to propagate such unproven theories, until a time comes when they may be substantiate by reliable and valid evidence.

Likewise, by saying someone is suffering from a ‘chemical imbalance’ (implying they have a biological mental illness akin to a physical illness) and so cannot help themselves, unintentionally stigmatises those who are assumed not to have a ‘pathological brain illness’ yet are still suffering from acute emotional distress. It implies that a ‘biological brain disorder’ is acceptable and therefore society should not stigmatise, as these people cannot help the way they are. However, by propagating such a myth, this has unwittingly sent the wrong message to your viewers that if you are suffering from severe emotional distress brought about by acute childhood trauma, difficult adult circumstances or other serious external/environmental factors in your life, then it is ok to stigmatise as this person can help themselves. Suggesting an internal ‘biological’ cause for distress immediately isolates and stigmatises many people deemed not to fall into this ‘illness’ group. And yet, as we already reiterate, there is no known evidence for a ‘chemical imbalance’ and ironically stating this causes more stigma than it avoids!

Thirdly, and even more alarming is that by using misleading information of a ‘chemical imbalance’, this creates the assumption of an internal, pathological cause. Consequently, the message your viewers and society learns from this is that the person is ‘ill’, as a result of internal factors they have no control over and therefore can’t help themselves heal. Sadly, many people are told by their mental health professional that they have a pathological disease and will never get better. This is true of ‘bi-polar’ and other emotional conditions where people are informed they will most likely have to take drugs for the rest of their life – even as we know, there is no scientific proof of a ‘chemical imbalance’! Therefore, we consider it more appropriate to spread a message of hope that people can heal from emotional distress and that they are not ‘ill’ according to the disease-centered model. Subsequently, this can enable individuals to become more proactive around their own care, rather than passively accepting and sometimes despairing that they can never change. This notion of taking greater responsibility for their own health and wellbeing can lead to increased positivity about themselves and their abilities.

“Diverse situations from relationship break-ups to job difficulties to sexual abuse and severe trauma have been transformed in to chemical problems. Individual human beings with their unique life histories and personal characteristics are reduced to biochemical entities and in this way the reality of the human experience and suffering is denied. The message that drugs can cure your problems has profound consequences. It encourages people to view themselves as powerless victims of their biology and stores up untold misery for the future when people come to realise that their problems have not gone away but have failed to develop more constructive ways of dealing with them.” (Moncrieff 2007 cited in Moncrieff 2008 p.241) (Psychiatrist)

We have experienced and are aware of many people who have been given this ‘life sentence’ of ‘bi-polar’ by their mental health professional, and yet have refused to accept that they are biologically ill. As a result of this, they have taken charge of their life and healed to reach their true potential. (We can provide evidence of this if required). Informing viewers ‘bi-polar’ is a result of an ongoing ‘chemical imbalance’ concerns us because this sends out a message that a person is dependent on their condition and should just accept their fate. Sadly, many people still believe this. Let’s spread a different message here.

“While bi-polar is portrayed as a life-long condition to be managed rather than recovered from, people can and do make a full recovery.” (Lynch 2004 p.228)

Fourthly, in society generally we are witnessing an over-reliance on prescription drugs for what are actually problems of living not ‘chemical imbalances’ in the physical brain. It concerns us that individuals are being routinely prescribed mind-altering drugs for ‘illnesses’ that have no scientific proof. Continuing to propagate this myth can potentially hinder what is known as ‘holistic recovery’. We would never deny an individual’s emotional suffering or pain but rather feel that if a person can find healthier alternatives to toxic drugs then this will allow them to experience authentic thoughts and emotions (which can be worked through with the right help), rather than have these masked by a ‘chemical cosh’. The theory of a ‘chemical imbalance’ again sends out a wrong message, as it unwittingly diverts a person from looking towards other ways of healing rather than reliance on these drugs. Even more alarming, is that credible research and evidence is showing the physical damage of using prescription drugs over the long term, and the notion of treating a ‘chemical imbalance’ only increases this harm.

Lastly, we also question the use of the term ‘bi-polar’. Whilst many individuals prefer to identify themselves from a psychiatric label (which is their choice); labelling can actually cause harm too. Psychiatric diagnosis often creates a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby an individual becomes their label, identifies with it and sadly loses sight of who they really are. A person again believes they have an internal ‘disease’ or ‘illness’ from which they may never heal. Likewise diagnosis can detract from the underlying cause/s of a person’s real distress (such as traumatic external events). When considering stigma, diagnosis can unwittingly imply that the person ‘diagnosed’ is the one with the problems, the one who needs help. They therefore become the scapegoat within their own surroundings and so many serious external issues are left unaddressed. The individual never gets a chance to move towards true healing.

“‘Diagnosing’ someone with a devastating label such as ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘personality disorder’ is one of the most damaging things one human being can do to another. Re-defining someone’s reality for them is the most insidious and the most devastating form of power we can use. It may be done with the best of intentions, but it is wrong – scientifically, professionally, and ethically.” (Johnstone 2013)

Even more tragic and alarmingly, which we would like you to take note of here, is that psychiatric labels themselves are not based on scientific fact. Psychiatric diagnosis is based on a checklist of symptoms that have being taken from either the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) or the International Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders (ICD-10). You may be surprised to know that such manuals are not based on objective fact (as people have been led to believe) but rather subjective opinions made by psychiatrists. You may be aware that the new version of the DSM-5 is causing great controversy presently since it was introduced last month. Even the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) issued a Position Statement on Classification highlighting their concerns about the lack of scientific objectivity involved in diagnosing an individual, and therefore too much reliance on drugs for what are in fact ‘problems of living’, not pathological/mental illnesses.

“…it should be noted that functional psychiatric diagnosis such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder and so on, due to their limited reliability and questionable validity, provide a flawed basis for evidence-based practice, research, intervention guidelines and the various administrative and non-clinical uses of diagnosis…” (DCP 2013).

“I stated that ‘The DSM is wrong in principle, based as it is on re-defining a whole range of understandable reactions to life circumstances as “illnesses”, which then become a target for toxic medications heavily promoted by the pharmaceutical industry….The DSM project cannot be justified, in principle or in practice. It must be abandoned so that we can find more humane and effective ways of responding to mental distress.” (Johnstone 2013) (Clinical Psychologist)

Therefore we support entirely the concerns issued by the DCP and other professional bodies who draw attention to these vital points. Such points cannot continue to be ignored.

Consequently, we feel that it was irresponsible of both ITV and This Morning to spread misinformation about ‘bi-polar’, allow talk of a ‘chemical imbalance’ and ‘illness’ to your wide viewing audience without conducting greater research on this subject matter beforehand. For that reason, we believe this admission or oversight made the show unbalanced and biased in how it presented ‘bi-polar’ and thus avoided discussing the range of factors that can cause it. We feel it is quite easy to continue to spread misinformation (or myth) that is deeply engrained within society and often goes unchallenged.

Yet, this information as highlighted above is based on very little scientific evidence and is therefore unreliable. By presenting only the disease-centred perspective gives a one-sided view. As a result, the alternative viewpoint that emotional distress is often caused by problems of living and that the answers towards healing do not have to be chemical or biological based, sadly goes unrecognised. Therefore we would appreciate in the future that programmes from ITV provide viewers correct factual information on mental health so that they can make up their own minds, rather than seeing despair and missing the opportunity to see the potential for personal growth and hope.

We trust that as a responsible television company that you will take our concerns onboard and move towards addressing these issues in future televised programmes. We would also appreciate any response to this letter to be in writing.

Yours faithfully

Julie Leonovs and Nick Redman


Division of Clinical Psychology (2013) DCP Position Statement on the Classification of Behaviour and Experience in Relation to Functional Diagnosis: Time for a Paradigm Shift. British Psychological Society. London

Johnstone, L (2013) Time to Abolish Psychiatric Diagnosis? Mad in America: science, psychiatry and community. [Online] Accessed July 2013

Lynch, T (2004) Beyond Prozac: healing mental suffering without drugs, Ross-on-Wye, PCCS Books.

Moncrieff, J (2008) The myth of the chemical cure. Basingstoke. Palgrave MacMillan.


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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Julie Leonovs

After a masters in Psychological Research Methods and a degree in psychology, Julie’s main focus has now switched to the myth of psychiatric diagnosis and how labelling can harm those suffering emotional distress. She strongly feels there is an over-reliance on the disease-based model which can ultimately detract from an individual’s personal suffering. As, a consequence Julie is a strong believer in the non-drug approach towards healing and would prefer professionals to recognise and utilise the many alternative ways for supporting those going through trauma and crisis. What is needed is a complete paradigm shift in how we view those experiencing emotional overwhelm and subsequently how we then support and enable individuals to heal. Consequently, through her own experiences she is now a strong advocate in promoting the rights of those engaged within mental health services and similar environments based in the UK.

(Thank you to Nick Redman for his support in compiling this letter.)


  1. Julie,

    Thanks so much for this superb, honest and heart felt post about the bogus biomedical bipolar stigma/agenda of making normal people suffering typical human stressors/trauma permanent abused, brain damaged “patients” as psychiatry’s latest sacred symbol to justify its oppressive, rights violating forced drugging, commitment and other all too frequent human rights violations in the guise of mental health in bed with BIG PHARMA and other powerful entities.

    Great job and very thorough. Hope you will comment here about reactions to this article and more of your research in this area.

    Always, wonderful to get validation of what one knows is dangerous, life destroying junk science.

  2. Julie, thanks for this.

    I have a real trouble with Stephen’s Fry’s recent appearences in the media. He is liked by anti-stigma campaigners but what he gets quoted as saying disturbs me. In one paper he was quoted as saying that he has an illness an no ammount of talking would help. This was after a suicide attempt.

    So talking about how he was feeling when he was suicidal, what was happening in his life at the time, whether he had felt like that before and what were the similarities to how he was feeling this time, whether there were people who made him feel worse or people who made him feel better, whether there were things that helped him feel better or feel worse, what might make another attempt less likely? – none of this would help according to what Mr Fry said.

    This is to completely remove his experience of distress from everyday experience. So anyone diagnosed with Bi-polar, or possibly with a mental illness is to be thought of as completely differently from everyone else.

    I don’t believe this does much to help people who are mentally distressed. I think it is a potentially damaging message.

    Yet people involved in Time To Change, the UK anti-stigma campaign are lauding him for his honesty. He has become a bit of a hero. But not to me.

    Conversly Oliver James wrote a profile of Fry that explains his depression in terms of Fry’s father’s hypercritical nature. While such things are often tosh, in this case I think it says more about Fry than anything he has said in recent media interviews and I think it does people who are mentally distressed more favours too: http://www.selfishcapitalist.com/celebrity_articles_stephen_fry.html

    • John,

      Thank you so much for your enlightening information about all the abuse Fry has suffered from his father his entire life. I am reposting what I just wrote on another blog that is dying down about how abused women and children are routinely misdiagnosed with bipolar for their trauma symptoms as I have said often on MIA based on tons of research and experience. I believe this is a despicable, dishonest agenda of biopsychiatry covering up such abuse related trauma by fraudulently stigmatizing it with so called bipolar to blame the victims and profit from their suffering while destroying them in the process. Vulnerable, abused people who have had their self esteem constantly attacked and even shattered by the abusers in their lives are all the more at risk for biopychiatry’s horrific predation on such victims’ self doubt/self blame/self destructive habits by being deceived to believe their abuse/trauma symptoms are bogus bipolar since so called bipolar symptoms are the same as trauma and the bogus borderline stigma, all abuse/trauma related.

      Fry seems to be a perfect example of this horrific agenda to aid and abet the more powerful abusers in society while preying on the victims, mostly women, children and the elderly. Dr. David Healy found in a study that despite biopsychiatry’s and BIG PHARMA’s constant lies, so called bipolar DOES NOT cause suicide, but toxic psych drugs like SSRI’s, neuroleptics used to supposedly treat bipolar and other bogus DSM stigmas do frequently cause suicide. Also, getting a degrading life destroying stigma to blame and scapegoat the victims of abuse while aiding and abetting the more powerful abusers as seems to be case with Stephen Fry and his father that invites further abuse, ostracism, stigma and invalidation from society in general once again creates biopsychiatry’s typical self fulfilling prophecies of pushing the abuse/trauma victim over the edge with drug/stigma induced suicide. Just what the abuse/trauma survivor needs is to be further abused, retraumatized, stigmatized and poisoned by biopsychiatry with all the usual human rights violations.

      Prior Post on MIA:

      First, I am thrilled about the latest op-ed on so called bipolar exposing the fraud that this stigma represents a biological cause in the victim so stigmatized.


      I would like to say that I did point out to Kathy here that many experts claim that substance abuse including binge drinking and/or pot CAN contribute to extreme states of emotional distress, but I made it clear that this is also COMBINED with many other stressors young adults suffer when having to leave home and function as an independent adult in a stressful, very competitive college environment that is even worse now with the economic meltdown. Of course, vaccines, toxic junk food and tons of other pollutants can impact our health and minds in very negative ways with bogus DSM stigmas always a convenient coverup while they remain unproven pseudoscience as in the book, PSEUDOSCIENCE IN BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY by Dr. Colin Ross et al.

      And to show the Catch 22 of biopsychiatry, Jill Littell in her articles at MIA and elsewhere on bipolar I and II shows that anyone engaging in any substance abuse today including alcohol is routinely and automatically given the junk science bipolar II stigma, which was also being done routinely for bipolar I when the symptoms often were iagrogenic effects of other psych drugs like SSRI’s and Ritalin for so called ADHD and depression, known to be gateway stigmas/drugs for bipolar contributing to the mass epidemic of bipolar for adults and then children to expand this horrible “market.” Also, Dr. Healy exposes that corrupt BIG PHARMA hacks came up with the brilliant ploy of always blaming the victims’ so called “mental illness” for all the lethal effects of psych drugs including mania, aggression, irritability, suicide, worse depression, akathasia, etc. Dr. Healy and Robert Whitaker expose that those with so called “manic depression” (supposedly former bipolar) used to fully recover and live productive lives for the most part before the advent of biopsychiatry and its lethal stigmas and toxic drugs forced on people for life along with many other horrific human rights violations per many studies.

      In all of my posts I have pointed out that based on my extensive research and experience that so called bipolar is a total fraud in terms of any biomedical cause to cover up social stressors, abuse related trauma and other problems. I have made it all too clear that bipolar and other VOTED IN DSM stigmas are totally bogus with no scientific, biological or other evidence, reliability or validity with no tests to prove anyone has it or known genes/causes underlying it. The recent extensive flak over the obviously junk science DSM V debacle and Head of the NIMH, Dr. Insel’s admission of the lack of validity of the DSM and bipolar by extension validates my own reality and claims I’ve made for a very long time as have many others including many experts/psychiatrists/psychologists, etc.

      So, when I say that excess recreational drugs to cope with an already overstressed young adult body may cause extreme emotional distress, I am in no way agreeing that this combined social/physical state is what is known as bipolar disorder invented to pad psychiatry’s pockets in bed with BIG PHARMA to sell the latest lethal drugs on patent including so called mood stabilizers like Depakote and atypical antipsychotics as exposed by Dr. David Healy in his great book, MANIA: A SHORT HISTORY OF BIPOLAR DISORDER, and his many good articles on bipolar mania/mythology/babble.

      Therefore, my personal experience with loved ones was with those suffering great distress from domestic/work/school/community abuse related trauma who were in NO WAY PSYCHOTIC, CRAZY, MANIC, DELUSIONAL or exhibiting any of the usual symptoms that psychiatry falsely accuses those they wish to target with their life destroying stigmas like bipolar and toxic drugs to create another permanent patient or life annuity to profit from another human being’s suffering. People should bear in mind that it has been common for the mental health profession to UPDIAGNOSE to qualify for more extensive and longer “treatment” payments and bipolar is one of the most lucrative stigmas today. Bipolar is most used to justify long expensive hospitalizations and life long predation by biopsychiatry and our fascist therapeutic state on normal people in crisis forced into the permanent patient role in the guise of mental health while being forcibly subjected to what Dr. Peter Breggin exposes as psychiatry’s barbaric brain damaging/disabling torture treatments including neuroleptics and ECT (TOXIC PSYCHIATRY, YOUR DRUG MAY BE YOUR PROBLEM, 2nd ed.). So, biopsychiatry does create a self fulfilling prophecy in that their brain damaging/disabling toxic treatments do create chemical imbalances in the brain, brain shrinkage and other brain damage/reactions that may become permanent and cause the very symptoms of their bogus stigmas that have resulted in an epidemic of illness, disability and other suffering resulting in more corporate welfare for the biopsychiatry/BIG PHARMA industrial cartel.

      So, I hope everyone here and elsewhere understands that so called bipolar is now what Dr. Thomas Szasz called psychiatry’s “sacred symbol” or a justification of its existence that used to be psychosis/schizophrenia with all the supposed symptoms of that now incorporated into bipolar created by committee with huge drug company ties to justify biopsychiatry’s alliance with BIG PHARMA and others in power wishing to blame the victims of all social/domestic/school/community abuse, oppression, injustice, exploitation, etc. so that the power elite can avoid addressing the real social crises and suffering that exist and/or they create.

      Therefore, when anyone speaks of bipolar, I hope you understand that you cannot assume people are speaking of the same thing. Dr. Carole Warshaw, Psychiatrist and Domestic Violence Expert, along with many others expose that women and children victims of domestic and other abuse/violence are routinely MISDIAGNOSED or falsely accused of being bipolar, paranoid, delusional, ADHD and other bogus stigmas while not bothering to ask about the abuse/violence and/or deliberately covering it up to create a cowardly gang of misogynist bullies/mobbers/oppressors against lone, vulnerable abused women and children to aid and abet the original abusers/bullies/mobbers. After all, the DSM by definition refuses to acknowledge any causes of the alleged bipolar and other stigmas making it a pathetic, sadistic joke once this unbelievable con job and life destroying fraud is understood and exposed to its many shocked victims. This also causes retraumatization when abuse victims learn that most if not all from whom they seek help including the so called mental health, legal, medical and other systems mostly blame the victims and aid and abet their fellow abusers in power. This too can drive the victims “crazy” if the victims don’t learn to do their own homework and become totally self reliant by necessity while avoiding the DSM mental death system like the plague it has become along with other oppressive patriarchal systems.

      Dr. Allen Frances, Chairman of the DSM IV, acknowledges in a WIRED article by Gary Greenberg that “defining mental disorders diagnosis is bullshit…there is no way to define it…or tell who’s normal and who’s not.” Dr. Frances also makes the horrifying statement that the “collective fantasy of science behind the DSM was good for psychiatry and patients.” For Dr. Frances and Dr. Robert Spitzer, editor of the DSM III, to maintain this delusional belief despite the millions of lives destroyed including children by the fascist, fraudulent DSM paradigm globally boggles my mind. Gary Greenberg’s enlightening new book, THE BOOK OF WOE, includes many interviews with Dr. Allen Frances, DSM IV ed., and exposes more of the history and fraud of the DSM biopsychiatry paradigm and why he believes that this harmful, dishonest, fictitious junk science should be abolished.

      So, though I appreciate your including me among those whose loved ones have been harmed by what I now call the mental death profession, we in no way share the exact same experiences because they are totally unique and diverse just as every precious human being is unique and precious making biopsychiatry’s one size fits all book of insults/abuse or DSM life destroying stigmas used to unleash a literal barrage of human rights abuses and violations all the more pernicious and deadly. See Dr. Joanna Moncrieff’s articles like “Psychiatric Imperialism” and “Psychiatric Diagnosis As A Political Device,” along with the book, DE-MEDICALIZING MISERY to see how psychiatry functions as an agent of fascist social control in the guise of medicine to coverup its illegal, coercive practices.

      • Great comment.

        “Dr. David Healy found in a study that despite biopsychiatry’s and BIG PHARMA’s constant lies, so called bipolar DOES NOT cause suicide, but toxic psych drugs like SSRI’s, neuroleptics used to supposedly treat bipolar and other bogus DSM stigmas do frequently cause suicide. ”

        Could you post the source for this quote? I am doing some research on the subject of the BP fraud and would love to see his evidence, it fits nicely with what I am writing. I am aware that the drugs cause suicide but had not seen stats which suggest BP doesn’t cause it. Any help would be appreciated.



        • Hi Shawn,

          Thanks for your support.

          Here is Dr. David Healy’s article, “The Latest Mania: Selling Bipolar Disorder.”


          Here is a quotation by him in this article about the fraud of the bogus claim that so called bipolar puts people at risk for suicide:

          “The selling of bipolar disorder stresses that the disorder takes a fearsome toll of suicides. And indeed the controversy surrounding the provocation of suicide by antidepressants has been recast by some as a consequence of mistaken diagnosis. If the treating physician had only realized the patient was bipolar, they would not have mistakenly prescribed an antidepressant. Because of the suicide risk traditionally linked to patients with bipolar disorders who needed hospitalisation, most psychiatrists would find it difficult to leave any person with a case of bipolar disorder unmedicated. Yet, the best available evidence shows that unmedicated patients with bipolar disorder do not have a higher risk of suicide.”

          It is the mental death profession and its toxic drugs that cause such suicides as Dr. Healy exposes in addition to the obvious conclusion that due to this, the far worse outcomes now and an exploding iatrogenic epidemic of drug induced symptoms fraudulently stigmatized as bipolar, the so called treatments are not working.

  3. For someone who dismisses talking therapy, Stephen Fry does rather a lot of talking, doesn’t he!? But no harm in that.

    Oliver James’ ‘profile’ ignores C. S. Lewis’ famous warnings against ‘The Biographical Error’ but James may have part of a point anyway. Fry does seem to suffer from what Dorothy Rowe termed ‘The Culture Of Cringe’, a kind of self-deprecation more common in Britain (and Ireland!) then the USA, for example. Apologizing for one’s very existence, in short.

    Many thanks, Julie. John

      • Sorry, Donna, I should have said ‘Biographical Fallacy’ rather than ‘Biographical Error’, and it may not have been invented by Lewis, though he certainly helped to spread the idea, which may be indeed be applied to the Gospels, among other things. Lewis was skeptical of biographies in general, and twentieth century ‘psychological’ biographies in particular. He believed biographers’ statements about the minds and motivations of their subjects were often wrong, even more wrong sometimes than the mere guesses of a layman, non-professional writer. Lewis saw that as particularly so if the subject was dead or the writer had never even met him, neither of which is true in the case of Stephen Fry and Oliver James.

        Lewis would have been appalled by the posthumous ‘Psychological Autopsies’ in vogue today, of school shooters, for example. Lewis was particularly skeptical of trying to reconstruct a writer’s mental state from his writings. Nonetheless, Lewis was a noted literary critic himself, but with an awareness of his limitations. Sorry I can’t recall a particular book or essay by Lewis that encompasses this, but it’s implied in much of his work.

        Thanks for your interesting question, Donna. John

        • I partly agree John. I don’t think you can take a biography and say with absolute certaintly that it explains someone’s behaviour. It has to be an educated guess. You can only know if in talking to the person they agree, or react in a way that suggests it is true (by calming down for example). However, as Donna says, there is research evidence that trauma causes mental distress – Richard Bental has done some noted work on this

          • I only partly agree with Lewis myself, John. I suspect Oliver James may be right about Stephen Fry’s relationship with his father. And I do agree trauma causes mental distress, probably most mental distress, in fact.

            Thanks, John. John

    • Unfortunately, the misdiagnoses you cite do not surprise me, Donna. They’re all too common. But I am skeptical of all ‘mental illness diagnoses’ even ‘correct’ ones. I suspect trauma lies at the heart of most emotional distress, and I don’t see the problem as medical.

      Incidentally, David Healy is a compatriot of mine, an Irishman, though he’s worked most of his life in Wales. Though very forthright and informative against antidepressants and other psych drugs, he is a longtime proponent of ECT, which brought him into conflict with Peter Breggin. You and other readers may know that already but I thought I might mention it, just in case.

      Thanks, Donna. John

      • John,

        I’m in total agreement with you that all DSM stigmas are bogus and they are all “misdiagnoses.” What’s very frustrating is that biopsychiatry has hijacked our language to medicalize normal human emotions, suffering, grief, losses, trauma, depression, anxiety, etc. And we can no longer speak of good and evil, but rather, we have been brainwashed into the sick versus the healthy view of humans instead with which I greatly disagree. So, the entire thing is a metaphorical scam to medicalize the entire human condition for power and profit to make global billions for the biopsychiatry/BIG PHARMA cartel as Dr. Thomas Szasz exposed his entire career. For example, he showed that psychiatry is to real medicine as heart break or spring fever are to heart attack and scarlet fever; no real comparison!

        The reason for the special emphasis on the latest garbage can stigma or “sacred symbol” of psychiatry of bipolar is that it’s now the latest fraud fad epidemic used to falsely accuse countless people from cradle to grave of having diseased brains for experiencing life’s normal ups and downs that will require brain/body damaging/disabling drugs, ECT and other torture treatments for life that will surely cause much harm/iatrogenic disease in the guise of medicine when none existed in the first place, which is true of all bogus DSM stigmas per Dr. Fred Baughman, Neurologist and author of ADHD FRAUD. If there was a real brain disease or biological problem, the so called disease would be under the jurisdiction of neurology rather than psychiatry, which exposes the lack of such evidence all too clearly.

        Yes, I am familiar with Dr. Healy’s promotion of ECT, which I have exposed along with the brain damage, permanent amnesia, risk of heart attack, stroke and death, suicide, worse depression, loss of career skills, etc. Dr. Healy is credible on his drug/DSM stigma/bipolar work based on science while he is not credible on ECT since it is based on the ideology of Max Fink, the father of over promoting this monstrous, inhumane abuse and violation of all human rights. Thanks for pointing this out. I don’t rely on any one expert for this reason, so I get my own “consensus” by researching many seeming credible experts on ALL of psychiatry’s brain disabling treatments exposed by Dr. Peter Breggin long ago. I know I can always trust Dr. Breggin to be fighting against the latest biopsychiatry abuses while not having to fear that he will pull out some new form of chemical, electrical or surgical lobotomy out of some hidden black bag of dirty tricks. That’s why Dr. Breggin questioned Dr. Healy’s seeming image as a psychiatric reformer when he suggested that to be considered such a reformer that “no lobotomy” of any kind should be tolerated including the electrical ones of ECT.

        Thanks for your input. I have enjoyed our exchange.

    • Quote from the article:

      “Psychiatrists may be unaware that abuse can precipitate a patient’s psychiatric symptoms. “We are trained to diagnose psychiatric disorders without looking at the social context that might have generated the patient’s symptoms,” said Warshaw.
      Psychiatrists fail to ask about abuse because they don’t think it is prevalent among their patients, don’t have the time, and don’t know what to do if they identify it. They may also find it difficult to tolerate the pain and helplessness they feel when patients talk about their experiences of abuse or when their own traumatic experiences are evoked, said Warshaw.”

      Is that not pitiful? But I find it 100% true. It’s all about the “doctor” being uncomfortable asking the question, or genuinely being so incredibly ignorant as to believe that trauma has nothing to do with a patient’s symptoms, or somehow idiotically believing that abuse is rare among their patients. Do they read ANY research? Do they not know that 1/3 of all women are sexually molested or abused at some time in their lives? The first question to ask any client in emotional distress, beyond the details of their current situation, should be about what has happened to them historically.

      I’ve seen this hundreds of times, too, so I know it’s not idle speculation. When I did evaluations for involuntary detention, I found that probably 3 out of 4 women diagnosed with bipolar disorder had obvious, easily accessible trauma histories that they were happy to reveal with a couple simple questions and some good listening skills. This included childhood sexual abuse, rape, and current or very recent domestic abuse. But the psychs were much more COMFORTABLE diagnosing “bipolar disorder”, probably because they could “treat” it without having to actually get to know the patient.

      It is disgusting to me that this kind of article would ever need to be written. How can someone be a psychiatrist and not know that trauma is incredibly prevalent and that it has a direct, causal relationship with “mental illness” symptoms???!!!

      —- Steve

  4. Good post Julie, and certainly tries to tackle the mythology of what for so many becomes a self-filling label, of self-definition. While I understand the psychological background and the need to define the social-emotional causes of mental/emotional distress, I can’t agree with the outright rejection of the “chemical imbalance,” metaphor.

    In my own resolution of bipolar disorder type 1, I come to the conclusion that there is truth in the metaphor, yet not in terms of “pathology.” IMO the imbalance is within the nervous systems, which of coarse function, predominately, with chemical reactivity. As a quote from a rather infamous researcher suggests, the search for truth, resides in seeing how we are all right, in our particular way;

    “The versatility of my intellectual interests made me realize that “everyone is right in some way” –it is merely a matter of knowing “how.” _Wilhelm Reich.

    Please consider an excerpt from an essay I’m currently working on, about my resolution of so-called mental illness, using a science and experiential approach;

    “Understanding My Psychoses & Improved Self-Regulation

    Over six years of intense self-education and experiential self-exploration, I’ve come to understand my psychoses, as combined, body-brain-mind states, rather than symptoms of a brain disease. I’ve experienced the painful process of sensing a subconscious internal constriction, as a defense against the trauma of my birth, and subsequent life experience. I now understand, both within my mind and within my body, the internalized sense of threat, that my euphoric psychoses, were attempting to overcome. My improved self-regulation, involves a new mind/body sense, of the respiratory, muscular and vascular nature of an habituated constriction, with its variable affect on my cognitive capacities. Its “affect” on my awareness, of sensations, emotions, feelings and the “tone” thoughts within my mind. My approach involved gaining a more organic sense of my core emotions, to raise awareness of their nervous stimulation and understand my internal functioning. Understanding the voluntary (conscious) and involuntary (unconscious) nature of self-regulation, has slowly built a new paradigm of health. I now understand my experience as a NEED of appropriate orienting responses, involving a subconscious “neuroception” (Porges, 2004) within my nervous systems. My experiential approach is based on “the polyvagal theory,” (Porges, 2001) and accords with an emerging view of the primacy of emotion, described by Allan N Schore as, “Toward a New Paradigm of Psychotherapy” (Schore, 2012).

    I’ve shifted my sense-of-self, from a learned and taken for granted cognition, as my thoughts, my vocabulary of words, towards a middle path of felt/thought self-awareness. Mastering my psychoses, was based on the latest science of psychophysiology, and an improving sense-ability, to discern my internal systems of energy mobilization and immobiliztion. Peter Levine’s conception of survival energies, as charge and discharge, from his trauma resolution work, has profoundly affected my ability to self-regulate, and master psychosis. An organic energy perspective has helped me understand my heart’s role, in energizing the profound affects of post traumatic experience, and the varying degrees of internal constriction, mobilized to contain an internalized sense of threat. Studying the scientific literature of human development, “the polyvagal perspective” (Porges, 2006), has enabled a paradigm shift in my self-awareness, particularly my “face-heart connection.” A new perspective on my life experience, in accord with a new Science of the Heart, “Since emotional processes can work faster than the mind, it takes a power stronger than the mind to bend perception, override emotional circuitry, and provide us with intuitive feeling instead. It takes the power of the heart.” (McCraty, Atkinson, Tomasino, 2001). I’ve moved beyond self-limiting thoughts of a diseased brain, and life-long medication compliance, to understanding psychosis, as a maturing, development NEED, involving my subconscious regulation of AFFECT.

    Six years ago, there were so many questions: Should I even attempt to understand the internal nature of my psychoses? Should I cling to a consensus view of mental illness, to secure my relationship with family and friends? Should I try even harder to trust the learned expert knowledge of medical pathology, or follow my innate intuition, stimulated by my lived experience? Do I need a PhD level education to read and understand developmental neuroscience perspective‘s, and other scientific explanations of my internal functioning? In 2007, reading Allan Schore’s “Affect Dysregulation & Disorders of the Self,” and his call for a multi-disciplinary approach to mental health, was simple commonsense to me. Yet my training as a therapist had brought the “turf war” tendencies, of medical and other discipline’s of specialization, into a sharp and disheartening focus. Could an emerging science of psychophysiology help me to understand the organic nature of my psyche, even if the scientific method may never manage to objectify it? Could an intense self-education effort and an experiential integration, help me to understand my psychoses, from the inside-out? Was my initial experience of a euphoric mania, an innate need to overcome the affective nature of traumatic experience? Is there a developmental issue within my brain and nervous systems? An attachment dynamic, missing from an earlier, critical period, which requires a “corrective emotional experience.” (Yalom 1995)

    Stumbling on Schore’s book certainly peaked my interest in neuroscience, from a developmental perspective, with an emerging view of brain plasticity, suggesting that a different approach to my experience was possible, if not probable. Reading the neuroscience literature of early development and embryology, I was surprised to read constant references to the autonomic nervous system. Wondering why my many psychiatrist’s had never mentioned this, even though I remembered well, the phrase “my nerves were shot to pieces,” from WWII veteran’s, during my childhood and youth. Remembered too, my Family Therapy training, and suggestions that there was a less than obvious reason, that such phrases now carried the mental illness label, PTSD. “Its not necessarily for the sake of the patient,” one wit had quipped. Could I really find a way to undo, a developmental problem, from so early in my life, there was no conscious awareness of it? A time before I’d learned to crawl, and before I ever learned to think? I still remember reading “(an) early postnatal period represents a “critical period” of limbic – autonomic circuit development, during which time experience or environmental events might participate in shaping ongoing synapse formation. (Rinaman, Levitt, & Card, 2000, p. 2739)” in the paper, “EFFECTS OF A SECURE ATTACHMENT RELATIONSHIP ON RIGHT BRAIN DEVELOPMENT, AFFECT REGULATION, AND INFANT MENTAL HEALTH” (Schore, 2001).

    In 2007, my lived experience and the views of many others, had really undermined my earlier acceptance of my medical diagnosis. There were so many questions, needing answers: Are my psychoses, not caused by a brain disease, requiring life-long medication? Should I try to understand my experience of psychosis, rather than seek to control my euphoric psychoses by a medicated suppression? Should I keep any non-consensus thoughts and behaviors out of sight, and out of mind? Should I try even harder to accept and trust the medical view of psychosis, as a brain disease, a mental illness? Should I have had more faith and trust in my first psychiatrist’s advice about my altered states of mind? “Look! There is no need to think of it as madness, there should be no stigma attached to a diagnosis of mental illness, your disease is no different to someone suffering from cancer or diabetes.” He was 100% certain that the genetic cause for his misdiagnosis of schizophrenia, (later switched to bipolar type 1 disorder) was no more than a couple of decades away. In 1980, I passively accepted his well meaning, yet paternalistic care and concern, never asking why there were no scientific tests for my brain disease. By 2007 though, I’d had decades of disheartening experience, with a paternalistic medical system, and its too often, condescending attitude towards people like me.

    Studying Family Therapy, and Murray Bowen’s seminal ideas in particular, had quickened my intuitive sense of an emotional development issue, involved, somehow, in my psychoses. For me, Bowen’s unique insights into an emotional projection process, within our unconscious functioning, explained the triangular patterns of emotional reactivity in my own family, and by extension the paternalistic nature of human societies. “The family projection process is as vigorous in society as it is in the family.” (Bowen, 1985) I remember feeling bewildered and emotionally bruised by my first hospitalization and the medication’s bewildering side effects. Remember too, the paternal tone and condescending pity of family and friends, “Doctor’s know what’s best, just take your medication’s, I’m sure everything will be fine.” People didn’t ask me how I actually felt, the projected care and concern, was about maintaining appropriate behaviors and knowing one‘s place. I did my best to comply with the social need of anxiety management, and generating positive affect. “Hi how you, I’m fine how are you,” even when I was feeling wretched and pathetic. Bowen’s observations of a generational transmission of “emotionality,” now seems to be understood within developmental neuroscience disciplines, as an unconsciously learned, self-regulation, involving the primacy of “affect/emotion.” My need for a deeper understanding of my “affective” psychoses, led me to Silvan Tomkins conception of “affects,” as the reflexive, physiological foundation of human emotions. “A second critical discovery occurred when my son was born. Beginning shortly after his birth, I observed him daily, for hours on end. I struck by the massiveness of the crying response.” (Tomkins, ????) From reading Tomkins and others, it seems to me that our innate “distress” response, early in life, epitomizes this notion of primary affect/responses, stimulating emotional reactivity, and underpinning our intellect and sense of reason. (Tomkins described nine, primary, affect/responses).

    Bowen‘s concept of a “differentiation of self” NEED, for each individual, within a family and society, gave direction to my experiential approach. “A person can have a well functioning intellect but intellect is intimately fused with his emotional system, and a relatively small part of his intellect is operationally differentiated from his emotional system.” (Bowen, 1985) An “intimate fusion,” which these days, neuroscience seems to understand as cortical and sub-cortical processes within the brain and nervous systems. Like Jaak Panksepp’s seven “affective” systems, SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY. FEAR, or what Tomkins described as an innate fear-terror response, lies at the heart of my own need of self-differentiation. A need to understand the internal nature of my psychotic experiences, and improve my self-regulation. My hunch was, that my avoidant life-style, was internally motivated by fear, and that mania, was an attempt to “affect” by new experience, a more appropriate internal motivation. A hunch based on Allan N Schore‘s profound statement, “The attempt to regulate affect – to minimize unpleasant feelings and to maximize pleasant ones – is the driving force in human motivation.” (Schore, 2003). My Family Therapy training, which had included two years of group therapy, induced a fascination with the unconscious processes, involved in my own experience and interpersonal relationships. I’d watched experienced therapists gradually affect a more open and playful, emotional atmosphere, within family groups, who began therapy with somewhat closed and defensive responses. Hence, it doesn’t surprise me that one of the world’s most successful interventions for first episode psychosis, is Finland’s open-dialogue approach. An approach based on an emotional systems view of family, interrelationships, continuously refined over the decades since Family Therapy‘s birth. “in the 5-year treatment outcomes. In the ODAP group, 82% did not have any residual psychotic symptoms, 86% had returned to their studies or a full-time job” (Seikkula et al, 2004).

    The success of open-dialogue’s, relationship oriented therapy, and the denial of its success by mainstream opinion, (like other successful, non-medication approaches) seems to bring a non-obvious, emotional projection process into view. Take the current controversy over the release of DSM-5, amid fears of an increasing medicalization of natural emotional experiences, for example. “Essential funds are used in the ongoing futile search for genetic markers instead of addressing the societal issues we know lead to mental health problems.” (Dillon, 2013) Making Murray Bowen’s decades earlier statement seem rather prophetic; “Society is creating more “patients” of people with dysfunctions whose dysfunctions are a product of the projection process. Alcoholism is a good example. At the very time alcoholism was being understood as the product of family relationships, the concept of “alcoholism as a disease” finally came into general acceptance.” (Bowen, 1985) The DSM-5 controversy also includes alarming reports, that use of antipsychotic medications, are implicated in a range of shocking side-effects, including homicidal violence, suicide and a 25 year reduction in life expectancy. Yet despite these alarming reports, Robert Whitaker, author of “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” suggests a societal delusion has been created, as to the “merits of psychiatric medications,” with The Triumph of Bad Science and dubious practice’s involved. “And voila, you have a process for creating a societal delusion.” (Whitaker, 2012) Although in a recent interview, he had thoughts of “unconscious” processes? In my opinion, there is an unconscious NEED for such a delusion, involving affect/emotion and the dubious quality of our objectifying rationality, and its limited ability to grasp the nature of our well meaning motivation:

    “Vulnerable groups fit the best criteria for long term, anxiety relieving projection. Vulnerable to become the pitiful objects of the benevolent, over sympathetic segment of society that improves its functioning at the expense of the pitiful. Just as the least adequate child in a family can become more impaired when he becomes an object of pity and over sympathetic help from the family, so can the lowest segment of society be chronically impaired by the very attention designed to help. No matter how good the principle behind such programs, it is essentially impossible to implement them without the built-in complications of the projection process.” _Murray Bowen.

    It took me decades to begin to sense my internal motivation. Sense the paradox of my internal defense against pain and sensations of fear; and a flight to the refuge of my mind. To understand how we’re all raised to suppress sensations, in order to secure our mature sense of objective rationality. Reaching adulthood, with a taken for granted “subject to object” orientation, as Teresa Brennan puts it, “ To understand why I felt lost in a sea of unconscious emotional reactivity, my social reflexes not quiet in-tune with normal social adaptation. Decades and the invention of the internet to begin to really understand, how traumatic experience had frozen my innate ability for spontaneous social communication. I had to leave my own culture to escape the built-in complications of a projection process, in which I felt trapped. So trapped that I’d found myself acting out a well meaning, projection of paternalistic care and concern, towards my therapy clients. So I went in search of my own “built-in” processes, in search of personal transformation. In my opinion, we are so immersed in the “autonomic” nature of our socially evolved humanity, asking people to be aware of unconscious affect and e-motive reactivity, is like asking a fish about water. “What’s water?”

    I must admit that a “chemical imbalance” notion of mental illness, had initially given me a plausible “how” and “why” explanation for my experience of mania. Yet by 2007 I’d experienced decades of medication failures to control my recurring psychoses. On or off medications, I still experienced episodes of manic euphoria and crushing depression, with the confusing affect, that my only auditory and visual hallucinations, occurred while taking high dose anti-psychotic medication. I’d also been exposed to a range of alternative views of psychosis, which seek to understand its emotional and mental dynamics, rather than fearfully judge the experience as pathological. View’s which advocate taking the time to understand the nature of psychosis, and resist an unconscious urge to keep madness firmly out of sight, and safely out of the consensus mind. Like many in the psychiatric survivor community, I’ve experienced the very palpable fear and loathing, that states of madness invoke in other people. Like many I have been overwhelmed by the core emotional energies, at the heart of my humanity, and I’ve witnessed the denied fear of “emotional contagion,” both within myself, and others. In my humble opinion, a strictly medical model provides a container to sooth our consensus fear of madness, rather than seeking a causal explanation. Although, only a reading of the history of madness brings such a view to mind, beyond a matter of fact acceptance of the current, medical paradigm.

    Although I’d lost my trust and faith in a medical view of my experience by 2007, I had not lost my faith in science and the human spirit. By 2010, I’d been reading the kind of science which seeks to understand the development of the human condition, a science perspective that resonated with my intuitive feelings about emotional development. Allan N Schore’s “Affect Regulation & the Origins of the Self,” brought new insights to my understanding of my affective experience, and scientific hints of an alternative “how” and “why” explanation. Since 2010, I have come to understand my psychoses, as discontinuous states of body-brain-mind experience, seeking a fundamental reorganization. A reorganization involving the core nature of my being and my human susceptibility to traumatic experience. The core affects of which are misunderstood by our mainstream medical and psychological disciplines, in my opinion. Recovery has involved a new understanding, both within my mind and my within body. Understanding how my brain is not the sole mediator of my psychotic experience. Learning how to self-regulate on a physiological level, has been key to my deeper understanding . Learning how the unconscious activity of my autonomic nervous system regulates my physiological state, has helped me to understand my psychological experience of psychosis. A daily practice of internal “sensation” awareness, has allowed me to master the chaotic energies of psychosis, and understand the experience as a brain-nervous-system NEED, for appropriate maturation. In my opinion, the chaotic energies of psychosis, involve the primary e-motive energies of my body-brain, which are intricately linked with my heart, lungs and gut, in reciprocal feedback loops. My growing ability to self-regulate the experience of psychosis, involved coming to terms with the power of my heart, and its role in energizing my body-brain-mind. My psyche.”

    While I understand the need to protest society’s denied need to keep madness out of sight and out of mind, I do believe we do ourselves a disservice, by not facing up to the internal realities of our own experience. Certainly, I found it very difficult to let go of a taken for granted sense of self, based on “external” images of objects, and struggled with the paradox of developing a “felt-sense” of my organic nature. A paradox I call the trauma-trap, in that sub-conscious flight into the safety of the mind, which becomes a mental torment.

    As I began to practice reconnecting with a cut-off sense of self, which is essentially pain, within my body, the “autonomic” flight back into my thoughts, was bewildering. A confusion I believe, is compounded by our Western sense of “I am my mind,” and our attachment driven need to adopt the “group-think.”

    Recently I have written about psychosis, as a spontaneous “right of passage,” as an existential crisis. A NEED, for our brain/nervous system to adopt a mature orientation to reality as it is. Please consider;

    “Please consider a comparison between a rather poetic conception of existential crisis, and the science of human development, which informed my new understanding;

    “So, we finally arrive at the final and perhaps most important question in this discussion:
    “Why would an individual’s psyche intentionally initiate psychosis?”

    In other words, how can something as chaotic and as potentially harmful as psychosis act as a strategy to aid someone in transcending an otherwise irresolvable dilemma? To understand this, it helps to use as a metaphor the process of metamorphosis that takes place within the development of a butterfly. In order for a poorly resourced larva to transform into the much more highly resourced butterfly, it must first disintegrate at a very profound level, its entire physical structure becoming little more than amorphous fluid, before it can reintegrate into the fully developed and much more resourced form of a butterfly.” _Paris Williams. (read more here)

    Yet how do we understand this common metaphor “psyche” and how can I explain how neuroscience gave me clues to understanding the internal NEED for my experience of “mania?” Please consider;

    “A second core assumption of systems theory is that self-organization is characterized by the emergence and stabilization of novel forms from the interaction of lower-order components and involves “the specification and crystallization of structure.” This mechanism also describes how hierarchical structural systems in the developing brain self-organize. Developmental neuroscience is now identifying the “lower” autonomic and “higher” central brain systems that organize in infancy and become capable of generating and regulating psychobiological states.

    Developing organisms internalize environmental forces by becoming appropriately structured in relation to them, and by incorporating an internal model of these exogenous signals they develop adaptive homeostatic regulatory mechanisms which allow for stability in the face of external variation. The regulation of the organism, which maintains internal stability and output regulation and enables effective response to external stimuli, therefore depends on the formation of a dynamic model of the external environment. Self-organizing systems are thus systems that are capable of generating new internal representations in response to changing environmental conditions. (p, 94)

    The human is a nonlinear dynamic system, an inherently dynamic energy-transformation regime that coevolves with its environment, one that self-organizes when exposed to an energy flux. The infant becomes attuned to an external object in its environment who consistently responds in a stimulating manner to the infant’s spontaneous impulsive energy dissipating behaviors. (p, 95)

    The nonlinear self acts “iteratively”, so that minor changes, occurring at the right moment, can be amplified in the system, thus launching it into a qualifiedly different state. Indeed energy shifts are the most basic and fundamental features of emotion, “discontinuous” states are experienced as “affect responses,” and nonlinear psychic bifurcations are manifest as rapid “affective shifts.” (p, 96)

    One of the fundamental characteristics of an emotional episode… is the synchronization of the different components of the organism’s efforts to recruit as much energy as possible to master a major crisis situation (in a positive or negative sense). (my mania in 1980) I suggest the principle applies to the developmental crisis that must be mastered as one moves along the lifespan. The continuing growth spurts of the right hemisphere that mediate attachment, the synchronization of right-brain activities between and within organisms, thus occur as the developing individual is presented with the stresses that are intrinsic to later stages of life, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. (p, 172)

    Vagal tone is defined as “the amount of inhibitory influence on the heart by the parasympathetic nervous system.” (p, 301)

    In light of the principle that birth insult and stress interact and impair later stress regulation , early right-amygdala function, including olfactory contributions to proto-attachment communications, should be evaluated in the perinatal period. (p, 304)

    Affect dysregulation is also a hallmark of Bipolar Disorders that involve manic episodes. Manic depressive illnesses are currently understood to represent dysregulatory states. The developmental psycho-pathological precursor of a major disorder of under-regulation can be demonstrated in the practicing period histories of infants of manic depressive parents. I suggest that the necessary gene environment condition is embedded specifically in practicing period transactions. (P, 410).

    Noting the commonalities between elation as a basic practicing period mood in infants and manic symptomology in adults, Poa (1971) observes Elation as a basic mood is characterized by an experience of exaggerated omnipotence which corresponds to the child’s increasing awareness of his muscular and intellectual powers. The similarity between the two is striking. Manic disorder has also been described in terms of a chronic elevation of the early practicing affect of interest-excitement; this causes a “rushing” of intellectual activity and a driving of the body at uncontrollable and potentially dangerous speeds. (P, 410-411).” (Schore, 2003)

    Please note the my reference to mania and its implications for Paris Williams more eloquent formulation, of psychic transformation. There is even a reference to vagal-tone and birth insult, as the hints which enabled my transformation of a birth-trauma, and family dynamic, conditioned FEAR response, within the subconscious functioning of my nervous systems, into a more joyful approach to life. Yet the difficulty in sensing unconscious processes, in a culture, now addicted to Descartes famous error, of “I think therefore, I am,” is compounded by our “instinctive” underpinning of our intelligence, with a NEED for quick and easy phrases and statements. Hence, although Paris and others like him have contributed much towards re-framing the mental health debate, in America, little will really change, until we address our common, subconscious functioning, and what really makes us tick.

    The positive energies of elation, as a metabolic resource for brain/nervous system structure, is what was missing in my childhood. Hence my first experience of psychosis, was a right of passage need to face the social world, as it really is. Managing the excitement of spontaneous social engagement, had always been my downfall, in relationships, where my “frozen” facial expressions met with an equally “defensive” response. All, occurring at speeds, to fast, to breech the threshold of conscious awareness. Hence, only a “sensate” approach towards understanding the sensations within my body, has helped me to re-connect with my mind’s creator, and heal a wound, long forgotten, because it happened, before I ever learned to think.”


    The “chemical imbalance,” metaphor is true, its simply a matter of how, IMO. The imbalance is in the cyclic nature of the nervous systems, in a need to manage the “metabolic energy,” challenges of life, particularly post trauma life, when a conditioned imbalance of “negative affect/emotion” needs to be recalibrated, so to speak.

    Best wishes,

    David Bates.

  5. Hi Julie, and thanks for the critical rundown that you and Nick Redman compiled for the open letter to the media source ITV.

    About three or four years ago, I read a book titled Stigma and Mental Illness–and I am not recommending it, actually, since its focus signals part of the earlier efforts to stress compliance and what we could call “re-statements of the diagnosis” as all that ought to serve to enlighten the public and empower mental patients.

    In fact, the editors, Fink and Tasman, weighted their contributions heavily in favor of helping psychiatrists and technicians overcome the stigma of guilt by association, and it is obvious that the argument is meant to work part and parcel with the justification of involuntary treatment as a right, as deserved by an “incompetent”. And, of course, the main idea is that consumers thank them, I believe. (However, this label may not have been at work when the book came out.)

    So there is nothing new about talk of stigma and a narrow establishment line that amounts to sparing the compliant, but getting very strident with any dissent, questioning, or truly, even worry that things aren’t going well with the established routine. Stigma, like most survivor causes, is very readily defined in favor of one brand of information and authority getting meted out.

    I can only add something else that everyone knows, too. The work you accomplished here had to get done, and will need to be repeated ceaselessly throughout more than all our lifetimes.

    I can’t imagine more informality and openness in the presentation but the paranoia of a mad rush of suicides from leaving all the “if’s” in plain view–informatively, as you point them out–is an environmental norm to the general public and mass media alike.

    And here is this community getting educated like no tomorrow and deciding what to believe and how to understand one step at a time…

  6. Julie,
    Are you aware of the Mehta/Farina study on stigma? I wish there were more of these studies that replicate its findings. One is not enough. The ingeniously designed experiment found that stigma is increased if people think you have a mental illness caused by a biochemical imbalance as opposed to a mental illness resulting from understandable events in a person’s life.

    Mehta, S. , & Farina, A. (1997). Is being sick really better? Effect of the disease view of mental disorder on stigma. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 16(4), 405-419.

    I found a real life example that I discussed in my blog,a media interview with Glenn Close and Jessica Close re their anti-stigma campaign, in which I felt the interviewer singled out Jessica Close (the labelled one) for harsher treatment. http://holisticschizophrenia.blogspot.ch/2012/06/can-you-spot-stigma-in-this-interview.html
    Thanks for your thoughtful critique.

  7. Julie,
    My comment here comes from the bottom of my broken heart. IF I could have found the truth about the myth of mental ” illness” as your article so clearly expresses, my 25 y/o son could have been empowered to realize he was not “mentally ill for life, meds for life, bipolar for life” and been given HOPE which was stripped from him by ” the system”.

    As I continue to educate myself, especially after first reading RW’s Anatomy… Epidemic after my son died Jan 13, 2012, which eventually led me to this webzine I keep learning from all of you. I repeatedly questioned the hosp, the p-docs (out- pt p-doc was the worst of all as he took no insurance as my sons’s family were cash cows desperate to get our son the supposed best help the medical profession convinced us he needed). How could they dx my son with a lifelong mental disorder when he had no previous signs of any mental distress before and no family hx of any severe mental diseases? I questioned their rush to judgement especially given my sons’s toxicology was positive for cannabis ( and public perception remains TODAY’S strength of THC can’t alter CERTAIN young brains into psychosis but I know as I have researched the FACTS ) and also realize many drugs this young generation use have metabolites that are eliminated too soon so can often be missed on these drug screens, further confusing exactly what a person has used which can impact their mental health. Instead of focusing and educating my son on the dangers of what drugs can do and helping him get to the source of the stressors/emotional pain that helped create his mental break, nope- label, massively drug with neuroleptics ( further exacerbating his first- time psychosis I believe) not helping rest his brain so it could reset with much needed sleep – the best non-drug therapy), warehouse and forever stigmatize was the mode of treatment by ” the system”. And believe me, I work in health care so I asked medical doctors, pharmacists etc and was reminded I must accept the gospel of the mental health paradigm. My family and I felt overwhelmed and bewildered and helpless trying to process just what my son was facing.

    The psychologist that tried to help my son recover told me after my son’ s tragic death, my son had a hierarchy with his belief system- medical doctors/psychiatrists knew more about the ” brain dx” theory and trying to counteract the plethora of bipolar propaganda everywhere on top of the brainwashing ” the system” did eventually take its course. Despite the tremendous stressors my son was facing in his young life, adding a mentally disabled lifetime stigma instead of helping my son realize his ” recreational” use of drugs had thrown his mind ” off” and helped him address the ROOT cause of his emotional break ” the system” just massively drugged, warehoused and brainwashed a young man who had always had such zest in life, loved life more than anyone which is why he had so many friends and why no-one could imagine the exit he chose.

    A blogger to another MIA piece commented ” up- diagnosing” to create longer psych hospitalizations is another game ” the system” has created. I am slowly piecing more of my sons’s broken puzzle pieces together as I go forth. All of this is igniting inside of me, a force to reckon with. It wasn’t like my family and I weren’t reaching out, begging for answers, paying for the help we could not find in time to save my boy. If ever there was a young person that should not have died so tragically, so alone, so broken believing ” the system” was right it was this young man.

    Thank you for further enlightening my own confusion. I recently saw the play for the first time, Next to Normal, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010. It’s about a family who struggles with the mother’s bipolar condition. To me, I felt the theme was more a spoof on the absurdity of the treatment for bipolar, the hideous meds, and ECT. The most riveting moment that has stayed with me since is when the lead character who has been treated for her bipolar condition for 16 yrs has an epiphany that the meds she has taken have missed the problem – it’s not her brain that’s broken all these years, but her heart and soul.

    I HOPE you will spread this message and SHOUT it from the rooftops, PLEASE.

  8. TV is a source of harm and illness. Humanity worships the beast though, and won’t ever acknowledge the truth.

    Poltergeist. Little girl gets sucked into and trapped in the TV. That isn’t “just a movie”. It was a communicated TRUTH about what television does, the impact it has.

    I loathe TV.

    HEAL your mind: UNPLUG THE BEAST.

  9. I think the point that dividing difficulties into those labelled as illnesses and those that people have control over increases stigma is very important. There is *huge* stigma amongst mental health professionals against those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which is considered behavourial rather than biological, and the treatment they receive is appalling.

  10. Keeping a focus on first time psychoses seems like the best hope for getting the public’s attention on the inevitable living the label/dependency on the system syndrome. And for eventually keeping some service options viable for everyone who needs better hope than the hard-sell notions of compliance and clinical treatment for illness really let us feel.

    Unless a healthy percentage of people learn about personal successes from alternative recovery methods, no way becomes ready for the desperate person whose experience or situation forces them into contact with psychiatry. Feeling right about a diagnosis that contradicts your own intuitions, or treatment that leaves out your feelings and needs is very unlikely. Trusting what life will come to mean in the future looks more reasonable when the potential to heal psychically receives emphasis, and it is hard to relate to how narrowly the estabishment program still wants to keep the explanation of problems in living. All of which occur at a human scale, where the personal touch might take effect permanently, if given the chance.

  11. Julie, Excellent letter. Since you did not mention it I presume you got no response from the recipients.
    My trajectory is similar to yours. I got a PhD in psychology in 1984–in the US– and soon found I could not work within the “mental health” system while encouraging “patients” to wean themselves off psych drugs–particularly neuroleptics. I diverted a few people from life time careers as chronic “schizophrenics” and “depressives” etc before I was kicked out. I continue to offer people advice as a renegade or dissident psychologist.
    It should be noted that there was a “medical model” before there was a bio-psych model.(Actually there was a bio-psych model in the 1th century but that’s ANOTHER story.) The two are now equated but in the late 80s there were still psychoanalysts telling people they were MENTALLY ill. My first book attacked this perspective–and I had a Foreword by Thomas Szasz who deconstructed the medical model before it was a biological medical model. Illness was the root metaphor of human psychology, and it perpetrated the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, as Whitehead would have said. Embedded in this medical model were other pernicious assumptions–particularly the idea that psychiatrists could determine objectively what was “natural” and what was illness. The social nature of this was dramatically revealed when homosexuality was declassified as an illness.
    The medical model implied also that problems in living–as Szasz aptly termed them– were independent of what was happening in the environment. It also implied that individuals’ life stories were predictable and invariably limited by their mental “diseases.” In actuality as you point out they were limited by their “diagnoses.” The illness was said AT THAT TIME(1980s and before) to be incurred in the first few years of life and was allegedly caused by inadequate parenting.
    At any rate I found that the important thing was to get young people out of the mental health system in their early 20s (at this time there were not yet many kids on psych drugs). I had studied family therapy with Salvador Minuchin and Jay Haley, respectively.. When one extricated them from the role of IP (identified patient)AND GOT THEM OFF PSYCH DRUGS they were free and lived lives that had no more constraints than that of “normal” people although most of them WERE more sensitive and aware than the “normals” or “normates” to use a new term. Their lives stories were idiosyncratic because we all are individuals–another fact obscured by the medical model.
    Anyway I must go back to work. THanks for your letter and effort. My 2012 book which I’m still trying to publicize is
    The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement [Paperback]
    Seth Farber (Author), Kate Millett (Foreword)
    This book is influenced by Laing circa 1960s as you might guess from the title. I believe the spiritual nature of madness is still too often overlooked, a premise I share with Michael Cornwall and my old friend Leonard Frank, both of whom who have posted here.
    Best, Seth
    Seth Farber, Ph.D.

  12. SageSilk, Probably you already realized that these aspects were completely over-ridden in discussions once Lithium, and later other substances gave universal orthodoxy to the medical theory.

    If you’re a sufferer, you would be interested in seeing the DSM I, as that has all kinds of now defunct psychoanalytic notions attached to the diagnosis. For instance, rich women are the main susceptible group.

    I would guess that anything before the biochemical revolution is unhelpfully laden with Freudianism.

    The only other angle that comes to mind is from a book on the Tavistock clinic. They sought to interpret mania as at least sometimes existing between individuals rather than residing within one bad head. You can think how the idea would play out: things happen on a fast track between two (or more) people, many diverse points of conflict emerge and they engage intermittently and at various levels, but always with some intensity in the background or persisting throughout the inter-relation.

  13. Wow! What a discussion you’ve provoked, Julie! Many thanks!

    Thanks to you too, Seth, for your comments and links. I suppose I see Freudianism(s) as lesser evils than Biopsychiatry, but a lesser evil remains an evil, of course. And amen re Masson. I did not realise Freudians were quite as fatalistic and deterministic and limited as you describe.

    I’ve recently been reading Garry Wills about Christianity and Paul and Augustine and Chesterton etc. Though a great admirer of Augustine in some respects, Wills would probably agree with your critique except to point out that the situation may be even WORSE than you say! It seems the sort of rot Elaine Pagels blames on Augustine really set in a lot earlier, that the whole ideal of a pure primitive Christianity was under attack nearly from the start. The myth of Primitive Christianity could be compared to that of Eden and the Freudians’ angelic new-born baby. Conversely varying degrees of Universalism were also present from the start, notably in Paul’s writings, contrary to modern opinion.

    Thanks to all. John

    • Thanks John,
      Oh yes it was completely deterministic. Masson paints the same picture as I did in his memoir on it, Final Analysis–and Masson was a stringent atheist. If you were “schizophrenic” you did not do better under the Freudians. Probably worse because they were subject to a a kind of apartheid–exclusion, segregation. But the Freudians had a caste system whereas today it’s an industry that drugs everyone. There were a couple of Freudian exceptions like Bertram Karon.
      Pagels book is seminal. Yes a lot of new scholarship puts Paul in a better light. The Lutherans imputed all these individualistic ideals to him. He was a radical egalitarian and appreciated by John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas etc
      Read Paul Among the Postliberaks by Doug Harinck .
      PS Many of the admirers of Augustine are talking about Confessions. It’s the City of God that is thoroughly misanthropic.
      My conclusions about Freudianism Julie were formed before I studied the Christian narrative. It was not seen through that prism. Rather later I used those analogies to bring out the authoritarian and misanthropic nature. You cannot help anyone if you view them that way as you already stated. Therapy CAN be helpful, sometimes necessary but studies have shown an untrained English professor was just s effective with depressed college students as a mental health professionals with years of experience. I have most hope for Open Dialogue, Soteria and Hearing Voices Network
      Masson and others showed FReud was a thorough misogynist. No woman (or enlightened man) familiar with Freud’s therapy with women could have any respect for him. His asic worldview–influenced by anti-Semitic pseudo-science– is well described by Sanford Gilman.

  14. I have not read much of Elaine Pagels directly, Donna. I got the impression, rightly or wrongly, that she was too Gnostic for me, but I may check out her books. I’m a client of psychotherapy rather than a therapist. I belong to the ISEPP and came here from a link there by Julie. I also concur with your latest comment to Julie.

    Thanks, Donna. John

  15. I appreciate your responses, Julie, but don’t feel obligated. Like most people I first heard of Freud through popular culture, as a kindly caring avuncular prophet, a sort of Einstein of the mind. I think Pop Freudianism was and is actually better than the real thing! I often joke that more people have undergoing ‘classical’ free-association psychoanalysis in movies and TV shows than in reality!

    My first therapist described Freudianism to me as a religion back about 1986. He was and is a Christian and introduced me to C. S. Lewis’ writings on religion and culture. I found Lewis very valuable but later limiting in the sense that he accepted and preached the sort of Original Sin that Augustine promoted and Seth critiqued. Garry Wills is better there, while remaining both traditional and orthodox in the best sense of those often misused words.

    Bert Karon has defended Freud to me and others on the ISEPP, Seth. I’m quite an individualist myself, but I find Wills’ Paul both individualistic and egalitarian in the best sense of both words, which need not exclude each other. I have only read one of Wills’ several books on Augustine so far. I certainly disagree with Augustine about sex and unbaptized people going to hell and so on.

    Thanks again to all. John

  16. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/requiem-dsm

    The scary Dr. Nassir Ghaemi fights on for the supposed biology behind the latest bipolar fad fraud so he can label just about everyone on the planet with this life destroying stigma while killing them with his great kindness of organ destroying poison lithium and other mind/body assaults. He has also been fighting with apparent success to now allow so called major depression to be automatically stigmatized as the bogus bipolar with no “manic” episodes. Any seeming “extreme” sadness or happiness can now be stigmatized as bipolar, so only robotic calm behavior is allowed by Dr. Ghaemi and cohorts. Thus, nobody better fall in love, get excited about work, play or anything else. Dr. Ghaemi et al have deemed it bipolar to be drugged into oblivion, so one and all can be drugged zombies for a BRAVE NEW WORLD controlled by Big Brother. Given that Dr. Ghaemi has made the bipolar fad fraud his life’s work and livelihood, one must question his constant agenda to keep expanding the ever growing “spectrum” of those who can be stigmatized as bipolar. Dr. Ghaemi has also stated that he sees no problem with Dr. Joseph Biederman or others working on behalf of drug companies and stigmatizing children and toddlers no less with bipolar to push lethal neuroleptics despite the fact that most psychiatrists and critics in general have admitted such drug company sponsored predation on our youth is appalling.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, to me, Dr. Ghaemi is a very scary person in that he has many posts on the web as a supposed bipolar or “mood disorders” expert using every BIG PHARMA ad ploy that he can muster to make his never ending case for constant expansion of his bipolar fad fraud ideology.

    Given that Dr. David Healy has exposed this BIG PHARMA/psychiatry cartel fad fraud of bipolar in his great book, MANIA: A SHORT HISTORY OF BIPOLAR DISORDER, and some great articles on the selling of bipolar and bipolar biobabble or bipolar mythology, Dr. Ghaemi has constantly tried to negate Dr. Healy’s great evidence exposing the fraud and menace of Dr. Ghaemi’s growing fascist, deadly agenda of targeting every human who has normal life ups and downs as bipolar to be subjected to forced poison drugging, permanent stigma/disability and all the other horrors that follow.

    Though many including Dr. Thomas Insel, Head of the NIMH, have admitted that the DSM is totally invalid junk science with no evidence behind it, which includes bipolar by extension, here we have Dr. Ghaemi insisting that his beloved bipolar ideology is exempt from the rules of such science. He keeps insisting that there is biological evidence for his bipolar agenda when there is no such evidence whatsoever proving any causation for sure.

    Also, it is apparent that another dirty trick of biopsychiatry is to incorporate post traumatic stress disorder and so called borderline personality disorder (an insult diagnosis for those suffering PTSD from abuse and other crises)into the fraud fad bipolar stigma to invalidate the victims since PTSD has been routinely misdiagnosed as bipolar per experts cited above. To add insult to injury, since the psychiatry/BIG PHARMA cartel is always one step ahead of its critics exposing their fraud with a new fraud, now bipolar apologists claim that those with bipolar have had to go through much suffering and misdiagnosis of depression, PTSD and others before getting the proper diagnosis of bipolar!! Of course, many including Dr. Healy know that the so called bipolar is iatrogenic from SSRI’s and other toxic drugs for the original PTSD. But, Dr. Ghaemi uses the BIG PHARMA ad ploy that the SSRI’s only unveiled the bipolar lurking in the victim before the SSRI’s “exposed it.” Or, they claim that bipolar and PTSD are comorbid to make sure any victims of abuse, war, bullying, violence and other traumatic events will always be blamed, stigmatized, silenced, discredited, scapegoated, retraumatized, abused, negated, bullied, mobbed and denied any and all justice. To add insult to lots of injury, so called experts are trying to prove those with PTSD or having a normal reaction to abnormal events has some pre-existing vulnerability that caused them to be more susceptible to PTSD when there is no way they could compare one person’s experience exactly to another person’s experience to prove such a ridiculous premise. Of course, per ideologists like Dr. Ghaemi, that pre-existing vulnerability must be so called genetic or heritable bipolar though totally unproven and many veterans have been falsely stigmatized as bipolar to rob them of all justice, compensation or benefits. Dr. Paula Caplan has included such a case of a woman raped in the military stigmatized as bipolar in her fight against the APA for all the harm it has done with its bogus, unscientific DSM.

    Of course, as we know from the horrific experience of our soldiers in combat, they too are being subjected to such horrors and even if given a PTSD diagnosis, they get the same lethal regimen as one gets for bipolar.

    It’s a real coincidence as I’ve said before that all the symptoms of PTSD are all too similar to those of so called bipolar and borderline and/or can be easily misdiagnosed or labelled as bipolar. The fact that such “misdiagnosis” can and does occur per Dr. Mark Zimmerman, shows the total lack of science, reliability, validity, biology or evidence for bipolar or any DSM stigma. I believe that was/is an obvious scam by the creators of the DSM III who deliberately refused to acknowledge any social/environmental stressors known to cause severe emotional distress and trauma by definition while creating a junk science stigma of bipolar with the pretense it is biological, genetic and other pseudoscience to blame the victims while aiding and abetting their fellow abusers in power, which is psychiatry’s true fascist agenda of social control and to maintain business as usual for the patriarchy and power elite.

    I think it is all too clear that the invention of bipolar in the DSM III with the pretense it replaced the very, very rare manic depression from which most people recovered after a single episode without drugs per Dr. Healy and Bob Whitaker, was a great cover-up for the massive trauma inflicted on society via the corporate global takeover of the power elite to enslave, exploit, poison and disempower the majority of people on the planet.

  17. More good points, Julie, though I can’t say I agree about the rich, at least not those who don’t work for the government. I consider Britain’s 51% effective top income tax rate more than high enough, and ironic, given how it was criticized by the former Labour leader Tony Blair but then maintained by the current Conservative government. It’s a matter of some potential interest to me since I live in Ireland, whose governments have long set our tax rates by simply adding 3% to 5% to the British rates. Hence our current 55% effective income tax rate. But that’s another political story indeed!

    I suppose my critique of psychiatry is more informed by right-wing libertarians like Thomas Szaz and Peter Breggin and (to some extent) Ron Paul than by the ‘left’, in so far as those dualistic distinctions are useful. So I see governments in general as a bigger part of the problem than others might.

    Thanks, Julie. John

  18. Laing’s Irish admirers, myself included I must say, refused to believe he was actually drunk on the TV program and accepted his (very slurred!) explanation that he had some neurological disorder! He fooled us even better than he fooled the cops at the hotel, a story I never heard before, by the way.

    Sorry I can’t cite the Lewis quote, Seth. And I certainly don’t think you’re biased TOWARDS Freud! I interpreted ‘gifted’ as praise only within its narrow limits.

    Indeed Masson’s unusual family of origin probably predisposed him against spirituality, particularly Eastern spirituality. He seems to have developed an overarching theory that no system of belief can survive knowledge of its scriptures in their original language. Maybe he hasn’t learned Dog yet.

    A few months ago an ISEPP Listserve member posted a great video of a guy who trained his dog and cat and mouse to all be best buddies and perform with him on the street! Again, I’m sorry I have no link but it might be worth Googling.

    Thanks Seth. John

  19. Julie, If you like Laing you ought to read my latest book(2012) which is in Laingian tradition CIRCA !960s. So far I think I’m the only psychologist (or psychiatrist) writing whose position is as radical as Laing in the 60s.Daniel Burston did not even like PE. And of course Laing backed away from his 60’s views. I wrote,”Is a “revolution
    in the mental health system”*—as Oaks calls for—sufficiently
    radical and inspiring as a goal to motivate the mad to great acts of sacrifice
    and devotion? I do not think so. It fails to strike the deeper chords
    in the collective imagination of the mad. The Mad Pride movement
    must set its heights much higher: It must learn to take its bearings from
    the mad themselves, who have said so often in private moments (in
    moments of authentic madness) that they were the prophets and messiahs
    of a new messianic age.
    A truly authentic revolution will wipe away the entire professional
    “mental health” system. The “mental health system” and “mental health
    professionals” are just another symptom of an insane and spiritually
    deranged society.”.

    BTW I think the story about Laing’s ability to sober up quickly is in Adrian Laing’s bio. He had a lot of anger toward Ronnie who abandoned them all. His mother was Laing’s first wife. I think Laing expressed himself well even when he was drunk but there were always people that complained, so I don’t think that was the problem. He led a very irresponsible life so he did not set a particularly good example. He had at least 11 kids—of course he could not afford child support. A couple died, at least one had a breakdown. He was very good at establishing a rapport with crazy people, but he did not have a lot of patience for anyone else. His dialogue with Christy is worth seeing–it may be on Internet–Laing at his best. I still think his best book was THe Politics of Experience (essays, 1967). The Voice of Experience is neglected classic–the first half critiques psychoanalysis…
    His memoir Wisdom Madness and Folly had the same title as a 1950s memoir by John Custance. It seems most oeple were unaware and thus missed the irony: Custance was a brilliant “lunatic.”

  20. Belated thanks for the video links, Julie. What passes for ‘broadband’ here in Ireland can be rather slow, but I managed to watch the 1.5 hour 1989 docu ‘DID YOU USED TO BE R. D. LAING?’ without too much buffering, but gave up on our own Dr. McKeon after 20 mins. which was more than enough! But the animal video is indeed great.

    Dr. McKeon first, since I have to share the same small island with him and others worse than him! ‘AWARE’ is the closest we have to an Irish NAMI. McKeon is a pillar of our psychiatric establishment, even though he admits his idea of ‘Bipolar Disorder’ could be ‘all rubbish’ and ‘a load garbage’ but he thinks it may be ‘reasonably accurate’ because he’s been saying it for twenty years!? And just when did elation become mania? Are all happy people maniacs so?

    The Laing docu seems vaguely familiar. I remember his story of the patient who used her catatonia to pose as an artist’s model, not to mention his critique of the DSM III, a few of whose creators are now critiquing the DSM V! Also interesting how Laing pronounced his surname as ‘LAYNG’ rather than ‘LANG’, which is more than just the Scots accent, I think.

    As I (re?)watched the program after nearly a quarter of a century I began to think of it as a kind of fictional depiction of an idealized therapist, what I would like a therapist to be, rather than of the real Ronald Laing. And there may lie the powerful appeal of Laing and Freud and their betters, of all gurus, to me and to others. An external echo of my guru within, if I may wax mystical for a moment. Which of course raises the question of just how much I really need any external guru.

    Certainly Laing’s speculations about birth trauma and indeed CONCEPTION trauma(!?) are interesting but utterly unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific, though not necessarily wrong. Co-presence, rapport, reframing, psychophobia, duck-f*cking(!), Laing certainly TALKED a good game, much better than he played, as Seth and Thomas Szaz have revealed.

    I have grown skeptical, though not cynical, I hope, about gurus and prophets and systematizers. They so often turn out to have feet of baser clay than most ordinary mortals. It’s almost as if the scale and completism and grandiosity of their systems grows in inverse proportion to their private and personal selves, as seen by their families and friends.

    I haven’t looked it up recently, but I think it was C. S. Lewis who put it this way:-
    ‘A man who devotes his life to developing a great new system of world government does well. But a dentist healing one toothache does better.’

    Thanks, Julie and Seth and all commenters, and to Stephen Fry, who may never know what he sparked here! John

  21. The article speaks of the prevailing Medical view while in the last two decades enough has been revealed as to Psychiatry and the Drug Companies nefarious actions that it is clearly established that there is no Medical view as it applies to them, in contradistinction to that they have propaganda devices they employ when making statements and political actions also dependent on propaganda.

    While the range of underlying motivations of these people are unclear, the motivation of profiteering at the expense of human health and with zero regard for Medical information is clear to us all.

    They use words as weapons. (Side effects, Atypical, Extrapyramidal, Antidepressant, Tardive dyskinesia, Medication, Anasognosia, Medical Model, Nosological, Disorder, Illness, With).

    The double blind, controlled, peer review Journal published clinical test reports are not only ghost written by subcontracted billion dollar Medical propaganda firms, they entire scholarly scientific format is an acted out charade.

    When I saw Loren Mosher, M.D. and Robert Whitaker at NARPA 2002, Loren described how the reports were coming in at that time on the “atypical” (propaganda word) “antipsychotic” (propaganda word) drugs, especially Zyprexa causing type 2 diabetes and while it was still too early to say for sure it was becoming so as the reports continued to accrue. Robert explained in full his research findings on how the Risperdal clinical trial and Journal report was rigged. The comparator drug for optimal dosages of Risperdal was infamous Haloperidol given at too high dose, the control group people were in withdrawal from previous neuroleptic drugging.

    When drug companies and Harvard Psychiatrists say the words “chemical imbalance” or “we are employing the Medical model” it is not because they care whatsoever about a model or chemical imbalance.

    When propaganda and political-leverage operations with the names E. Fuller Torrey and D.J. Jaffe attached write the big word anosognosia it is a propaganda move.

    When the word Tardive Dyskinesia was made up it was in the wake of having to admit that the “antipsychotic” drugs were clearly causing brain damage. This admission was years late – they were pawning off the matter for years as being just the patient’s disease. (Peter Breggin, M.D. brought national coverage to this crime by Psychiatry. ) Once they admitted something was actually happening they made up this propaganda that it was somehow another possible disease, with a scholarly sounding big word name “Tardive Dyskinesia.” It was a “possible side effect.” Not their drugs’ affect in causing cumulative brain damage. That is how the spun it.

    When years after Robert Whiataker spoke at NARPA they admitted that the “atypical” dopamine 2 receptor blockade drugs were not much different than the “traditional” “older” me-too Thorazine spin-offs that preceded them the propagandists spun this as a new revelation.

    Propaganda in an orwellian manner wants to reframe the term “polypharmacy.” As they would have it the term means using even more drugs than is currently standard in the profession. So if a patient is on seven pills supposedly we can’t use the term if that is typical in the Profession.

    The terms Medical model and imbalance are used in outputted copy by these people. They have no interest in chemical imbalances. DSM-3 through 5 depend on clinical interview, made up psychological word tests, and Professional Opinion of the clinician for applying the syndrome names found within the nosology to patients. Psychiatric diagnosis consists of naming, period. This is convenient since no one can say they got the diagnosis wrong. It leads directly to drug sales. Employing the Medical model as they have said since DSM-3 was crafted they drug a person adjudged abnormal to control their behavior, to control their “symptoms.” They say that the behaviorally categorized people have a disorder, and then in the next breath say they are with a mental illness. Illnesses call for prescription drugs and if you have a patent that means millions and billions of dollars. As Donald F. Klein, M.D. the down of the golden age of psychopharmacology in Psychiatry has arrived.

    The words Medical and Imbalance are used yet no one of these people has an actual Medical view.

    As Amy Philo, Peter Breggin, Ph.D. and Evelyn Pringle have covered the Mother’s Act is a law (passed via inclusion in the Access to Health Bill) to increase drug sales to pregnent and nursing woman.

    To find people who have an actual interest in “inballances” one has to look to the Psychiatrists who were surpressed by the APA, NIMH and ACNP is 1973. The one time bogus hatchet job, the 1973 58 page Task Force 7 Report stated (as an independent peer review) that all the work and treatment done by their own best people was wrong for all time past, present and future.

    The problem of course was that these doctors and chemists were proposing actually testing for chemical issues and then treating them to correct them, The profit from the strategic marketing plan for Thorazine was great in 1955 and by 1967 they were fully aware of how they intended to use the next decades to make a trillion dollars selling psychopharmacology items.

    So as we all should realize by now there is not the Medical view and those who oppose it and advocate non Medical approaches. The current Psychiatry is owned by the drug companies because the profits from the tranquillizers were so great. The ascendent Psychiatry cares nill about Medical biochemical ideas and personages and history. They swept it under the rug in 1973.

    Biochemist Linus Pauling joined the biochemical imbalance treatment Psychiatrists whose idea of what chemotherapy in Psychiatry meant was so suddenly at odds with top players at NIMH and the APA. He writes of “some errors” in the Task Force 7 report in “On the Orthomolecular Environment of the Mind.”

    Robert Whitaker started his interest in realities of current Psychiatry once he looked into the obviously unethical amphetamine challenge “tests” (propaganda stunt) of the “dopamine hypothesis” (propaganda words).

    Before these bogus tests where they intentionally worsened a groups of people by taking them off tranquillizers and dosing then with amphetamine, ketamine, etc. there was another one of these prior to Task Force 7 where Thomas Ban (well known for his tranquilizer studies) gave a group a MAO inhibitor and methionine which was to make all of them worse. He gave niacin and it did not protect them. In this way the scientific peer review was done. This predates the amphetamine “challenge” propaganda stunts.

    Daniel Burdick , Oregon USA April 2014

    Jack Phillips Essay

    45 Years of Clinical Experience Treating Psychiatric Disorders
    Dr. Hugh Riorden

    Malcolm Peet – People in developing counties have better schizophrenia outcomes and lower prevalence of depression, Malcolm studied the correlations to National dietary practice.

    Dr. Hyla Cass
    2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WDMxK8qtD8

    Andrew Saul, Ph.D.

    Andrew Saul Medline Obsolescence, Medline censorship

    Amy Philo Interview Exposes Devastating Effects of Psychiatric Drugs on New Moms

    Charles Gant, M.D. Functional Medicine

    Charles Gant, M.D. Nutrient Protection for Psychiatric Drug Harms

    Andrew Saul, Ph.D. Red Ice Radio
    The War on Vitamins

    Abram Hoffer, M.D. The tranquillizers were so profitable that the drug companies took over Psychiiaty. That is what has happened to Psychiatry today.

    Functional Medicine – Dr. Vincent Bellonzi
    You are not your disease – the futility of nosology

    GI Tract and bodily Microbes, Immune System and Mental Health
    Natash Campbell-McBride

    ADHD Drugs VS Possible Cures – Nutrition by Natalie

    Margot Kidder on her recovery from Bipolar using nutrients, diet and exercise

    Major Tranquillizers are both antioxidant and pro oxidant.
    According to the study by Zhao and all, Haldol combined with Ginkgo biloba extract is superior drug to Haldol, in part because haloperidol increases lipid peroxidation which Gingko is specifally good for

    Underlying biochemical conditions Perth Clinic

    Natural healing for Schizophrenia

    Masks of madness Full movie – Orthomolecular biochemical Psychiatry promotional video narrator Margot Kidder

    Psychiatrist Michael Foster Green, M.D.

    On the rigging of the Risperdal “Scientific Clinical Testing of Safety and Efficacy” “Evidence Based Medicine,” Michael F. Green, M.D. in “Cognition, Drug Treatment, and Functional Outcome in Schizophrenia: A Tale of Two Transitions” 2007 writes,

    “A second key transition is that we are less comfortable with pinning our hopes on antipsychotic medications as a way to achieve cognitive improvement. Optimism that second-generation antipsychotics would yield cognitive improvements has progressively been tempered as treatment effect sizes have progressively dwindled, possibly as a result of dosing factors (as doses of comparators became lower) or patient selection factors (as more patients received second-generation medications). At any rate, the high hopes for beneficial cognitive effects from antipsychotic medications are now hanging by threads.”

    Orthomolecular Medicine

    Quote for Linus Pauling on Task Force 7

    “Nicotinic acid as a methyl acceptor is referred to in the report:
    “From Study No. 12: nicotinic acid in the dosage of 3000 mg. per
    day can neither prevent nor counteract the psychopathology induced
    by the combined administration of a monoamine oxidase inhibitor
    (tranylcypromine) and methionine” (p. 16). In fact, the molecular
    weights of nicotinic acid and methionine (a methyl donor) are
    nearly the same, 123 and 149, respectively. Instead of 3 gm.,
    16.5 gm. of nicotinic acid would have had to be given each day
    to accept the methyl groups donated by the 20 gm. of methionine
    that was given each day. The study referred to as number 12 (31),
    which resulted in an exacerbation of the illness of 30 schizophrenic
    patients who participated in it, has no value as a test of the
    methyl acceptor theory of nicotinic acid.

    Consideration of ethical principles may have kept the investigators from repeating the study with use of the proper equimolar amounts of nicotinic acid and methionine.”

    “Katherine Stone” is presented as an Independent Concerned person who just happens to choose to support The MOTHERS Act.


    Evelyn Pringle comments, “I have written several article, in which Katherine Stone is discussed. Therefore I’m wondering whether the following comment is referring to one of mine:

    “I’ve spent some time reading things that those who oppose it have written, including one of the articles which comes dangerously close to libel against the fantastic Katherine Stone.”

    If the answer is yes, let me just say that I would welcome any attempt to try and shut me up by filing a lawsuit against me (for publishing truthful information), which would allow me to use the discovery process to access records and information of which I have no way of getting on my own.”


    Front Groups

    Front Groups: Examples of Manufacturing Grassroots Support
    Bonner and Associates
    John Davies

    Pushing Prescriptions
    Surrogates for Their Agenda: How the drug industry uses non-profits to push its interests
    By Alexander Cohen

    “PhRMA internal planning documents, obtained in 2003 by the New York Times, detailed budget plans for that fiscal year beginning in July and described a massive grassroots assault, budgeting almost $9.4 million for third party op-eds and articles, Washington, D.C.-area advertising, media relations consultants and other public relations efforts. Other highlighted areas of interest included spending more than $12 million to ally with doctors, patients, universities and minority groups and a minimum $2 million to policy and research groups.”

    Burston-Marsteller http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Rafael-Casas-Don/1239234051

    “Rafael Casas-Don rejoined Burson-Marsteller as Managing Director, Regional Practice Chair of the HealthCare Practice for Burson-Marsteller Latin America in 2007.” “He has conducted pro-bono work for organizations such as NAMI and several HIV and AIDS outreach organizations.”

    John Breeding, PhD – Drugged: From Cradle to Grave

    Pharmaceutical Agenda Setting in Psychiatry
    Mosher, Gosden

    Drug companies and Schizophrenia:
    Unbridled Capitalism meets Madness
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    Thomas A. Ban, M.D. wants us to know that they are all dedicated to treating mental pathology with centrally acting drugs. Not only are they dedicating to treatment with drugs, they are dedicated to the very study of mental pathology employing drugs. Hows that for dedication? Not a going to leave the box at that rate are they?
    See: https://www.google.com/#q=thomas+OR+TA+Ban+dedicated+Neuropsychopharmacology+

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