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.
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.
Thank you so much for this very patiently and thoroughly put together article, and for taking the trouble to try to point out to the media how tainted their portrayal is.
Thank you Nijinsky. I think the media is one of the main culprits in spreading this misinformation to the public. Unless we challenge how they handle and broadcast such information things are likely to remain the same. Suffice to say, I haven’t heard back from the TV production team yet.
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.
Donna thank you for your compliments! I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s always good to receive validation for what we know instinctively to be true. Often it seems that individuals suffer some trauma in their life, they go to a mental health professional or medical doctor and the first thing they prescribe is drugs. Before you know it the drugs have caused bad main effects including suicidal ideation and depression etc. It reaches a point whereby neither the individual or the professional can distinguish what are genuine human emotions as a result of the trauma or main effects as a result of the drugs. In the end the suffering experienced initially and what caused the person to visit their professional becomes forgotten about or masked by the drugs, and instead the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion wins out. They are told they have a chemical fault in their brain and so their distress of the trauma is ignored and never validated. That can be very soul destroying.
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
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.
“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.
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.
This is excellent and will do nicely for my research, thanks so much for your help.
Good luck with your research Shawn on the fraud of ‘bi-polar’ and the drug effects too.
Fantastic reply Donna! We are on the same page here.
“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…”
In my experience people branded with a psychiatric label/s have always got some significant and tragic life experience to account for their distress. And again…it seems clear to me Mr Fry has too. Yet, it seems these significant aspects are all too often dismissed or ignored.
I suspect you probably have heard of former psychologist Paula J Caplan a long time activist who speaks out about the harm of psychiatric diagnosis. Also her book They Say You’re Crazy gives a unique insight into the corrupt world of the DSM creation and just how unscientific their methods were and still are. And yet, people are bradnded with these labels! Worth a read.
Thanks for your support. Yes, I am all too familiar with the brave, noble Dr. Caplan who has been debunking the fraud of the DSM and biopsychiatry for decades. You are probably aware of her web sites exposing the total lack of science and validity behind the DSM that she had the misfortune or fortune in terms of survivors to see this bogus process of voting in junk science stigmas into the DSM with no science whatever she details on the web as she did in THEY SAY YOU’RE CRAZY. Many observing the process said it was on par with choosing a restaurant when coming to white old boy network group consensus on various stigmas with huge BIG PHARMA ties and conflicts of interest.
As I have said elsewhere, I was horrified to read that now that DSM 5 has enlightened so many more about the pseudoscience of the DSM, Dr. Allen Frances, editor of the DSM IV, made the appalling statement that “the collective fantasy of science behind the DSM was good for psychiatry and “patients.” Need I say more? Dr. Frances claims to be SAVING NORMAL, his new book title, which is another gem given that he helped create the ADHD, bipolar and autism epidemics by his own admission while blaming BIG PHARMA. Many are not aware of Dr. Frances’ involvement in the nefarious Texas Medical Algorithm scandal with Johnson & Johnson’s nasty atypical neuroleptic whereby he helped J&J market this horrible drug in the guise of KOL prescribing standards for profit paving the way for Joseph Biederman’s child bipolar relationship with J&J. So, his mea culpas are much too little and too late in my opinion. See Gary Greenburg’s great book, THE BOOK OF WOE, exposing more of the inner politics behind psychiatry’s bogus billing bible that he thinks should be abolished due to the great harm caused by this fictitious pseudoscience. Another great book encompassing all of psychiatry is MAD SCIENCE: PSYCHIATRIC COERCIAN, DIAGNOSIS AND DRUGS.
Dr. Caplan also exposes the latest “elephants in the living room” about the pernicious silence by so called health officials and psychiatry about neuroleptic and other drug induced obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a general death sentence due to these poisons, which of course, are blamed on the victims, a typical BIG PHARMA/psychiatry ploy. Imagine already being down, abused, traumatized, stressed, somewhat ill and suffering the typical low esteem induced by such treatment only to be given poison drugs that will make you obese with no knowledge the toxic drugs caused the problem and your hugely increased appetite and weight gain become another source of self blame/hatred and evidence of your inferiority to your abusers. In a weight conscious world, this is a monstrous abuse that was all too well known and hidden by the BIG PHARMA/psychiatry cartel and STILL blamed on the victims. Note that Michelle Obama and others campaigning to end obesity make no mention of the contribution of lethal psych drugs.
Anyway, I always thank experts like you as one more person “validating my reality” because the bogus biopsychiatry paradigm exists through constant Orwellian brainwashing by this powerful, rich cartel, coercion, rights violations and the promotion of the lastest junk science to INVALIDATE/hoodwink everyone and the most vulnerable, traumatized, abused and others already prone to self blame, guilt and low esteem especially.
So, yes, I’ve been researching this for years and was able to save loved ones from this menace thanks to lots of research and the courage of Dr. Peter Breggin from the inception of this life destroying paradigm or TOXIC PSYCHIATRY, MEDICATION MADNESS.
I am especially glad and thankful to learn about new experts on this topic like you continuing to debunk the latest garbage can stigma of bipolar with a “take no prisoners approach” like I do because this is so crucial to validate the targets of this pseudoscience while invalidating this deadly paradigm in a great role reversal.
I worry about what will happen when those like Dr. Breggin and Dr. Caplan are unable to continue their great work as with the death of the great Dr. Thomas Szasz.
Thus, hearing from more experts like you gives me hope that there are new up and comers with hard hitting evidence to expose the fragile house of cards that Robert Spitzer, editor of the DSM III, admitted would fall apart if psychiatry had to acknowledge any context, human stressors, causes, abuse, social problems/injustice, oppression, etc. This is a great time now that the “men behind the curtain” are being exposed with a paradigm that has no heart, brain or courage.
Thanks again for this great post. The problem with ongoing invalidation is that you need regular doses of validation to maintain your reality, sanity and hope. You have done a great job providing that. That reminds me of another great book on this topic, A DOSE OF SANITY.
I also thank you for your very kind remarks and other comments about my posts.
Donna, I appreciate you calling me and ‘expert’ (I wish I was) but I just see myself as maybe an ‘expert by experience’ not to mention my reliance on common sense and just inbuilt intuition that all is not well in the world of psychiatry and the mental health system. To me as a great Irish activist John Mc Carthy once said “This is not rocket science!” And boy was he right!
Yep, I know of the terrible duo Spitzer and Frances and their lead in the creation of previous DSM editions and Spitzer’s grave mistake in defining homosexuality as a ‘disorder’. As for Allen Frances as Dr Caplan says herself his DSM IV has done great harm to many and yet he now claims to speak out against DSM-5! Sorry, but that is too hypocritcal in my eyes. He claims DSM-5 is full of flaws and yet he hasn’t considered just how flawed and unscientific his own manual was, although I do recall he now acknowledges he too made msitakes with so called ADHD etc. By the very nature that he speaks out against DSM-5 creates a smokescreen from the harm his own manual has caused to others. It implies DSM IV was fine but not DSM-5. Frances is in support of his beloved psychiatry and he believes in diagnosis. He speaks out to save his profession not the lives of those diagnosed. All DSM manuals are bad as is all psychiatric diagnosis. (We cannot omit the ICD-10 either which generates just as much pseudoscience).
I also agree we constantly need validation in order to recharge our batteries when being surrounded by so much misinformation, ignorance and negativity. So I am pleased to be able to help you with this Donna!
I don’t think we need to concern ourselves with what happens when the great activists ‘retire’ as there are many new people who will carry the torch forward and their names. I won’t forget the great work they have done. We cannot allow this to happen. And I don’t believe for one moment the great Tom Szasz will ever be forgotten. He has left a legacy that we can’t put back in the box. I feel this movement is growing not decreasing. Global networks are being established – just look at this site.
Thanks again for your comments John. You raise interesting points which I understand completely! I always find it sad to hear someone say they have an ‘illness’ when we know of their tragic life circumstances. I feel again it is this misinformation that we need to eradicate in order to get to the heart of a person’s distress. Also when someone has experienced bad events in their life and are told they have and ‘illness’ almost suggests the individual is at fault in some way and so the real perpetrators get off scot free. It’s a form of scapegoating in my eyes and a double blow for the individual to have their feelings invalidated more than once in their life.
It saddens me Mr Fry also spreads this notion, and especially to the public. He is in fact president of MIND and so many people hang by his very word. That is the danger when celebrities believe these myths but then also become ambassadors for high profile charities who also believe and promote these myths of ‘illness’, ‘chemical imbalances’ , ‘disorders’ etc. Which is why we need to keep challenging the media and such organisations. Mr Fry himself is a great actor and intelligent guy, who I do believe given the right information would have an open mind. However, as is the case with all these anti-stigma campaigns and mental health charities they constrain individuals and are constrained by their funders too, who more often than not are big pharma and the government. Again. I think these ‘do good’ campaigns do more harm than good, because from the beginning they are already starting out with the wrong information!
Such a fine job you’ve done with this article!
Every time a professional takes the time to present the facts, a stronger case is built – for safer, more effective approaches for healing.
Duane Sherry, M.S.
Thank you Duane! I think the message is getting out there slowly but surely. I would like to think we are all breaking down barriers one by one.
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
I am familiar with C.S. Lewis and recall him talking about the many interpretations of Jesus’ biography erroneous or lessons in futility. Is this what you mean or something else? Couldn’t find by googling.
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
Thanks John. In fairness to Mr Fry, he did not actually make an appearance on the TV show or comment either. In fact he probably has no idea this debate is going on! I asked the editors of MIA to amend their introduction to our letter, which they did so accordingly. But Mr Fry did speak out in the newspapers about his ‘bi-polar’ and recent suicide attempt etc. And yes, he does have a great deal to say on this matter. Sadly, I wish what he had to say was more informed.
Both Nick and I also copied this letter to 3 British national mental health charities MIND being the one Mr Fry is president of. Also Time to Change and The Mental Health Foundation. It may interest readers here to view what MIND’s reply was. What we expected of course!
Dear Julie and Nick,
Many thanks for your email and for attaching your letter of complaint to ITV, which I read with interest. I am sorry that you felt the interview on This Morning on bipolar disorder was misleading and inaccurate. We welcome feedback on programmes such as these so many thanks for highlighting your concerns.
As I’m sure you are aware, Stephen Fry is Mind’s President and we applaud him for speaking out about his diagnosis. Being so open and honest about his experiences recently and disclosing that he had made an attempt on his own life prompted a huge surge of support and many kind messages aimed at Stephen and other people with mental health problems. Mind experienced an increase in calls to our Infoline on the back of this, with many more people seeking information and support about their own mental health or that of someone they knew. Having a celebrity ambassador is valuable in normalising mental health problems and reducing stigma; and also for reinforcing the message that people with mental health problems can and do lead fulfilling lives, hold down successful careers, and so forth.
In terms of our position on bipolar disorder, we appreciate that not everybody with this diagnosis likes or uses this particular term, but given Stephen Fry refers to his own condition as such we would think it’s acceptable that this was what it was referred to throughout the ‘This Morning’ programme. In terms of the ‘chemical imbalance’ that is frequently cited, Mind’s position is that the exact causes of bipolar are not yet known and that it’s likely to be due to a number of factors (see our information booklet for further details: http://www.mind.org.uk/mental_health_a-z/7916_bipolar_disorder). Whilst the exact causes are still to be determined, our main focus is on helping people access the support, information and services they need.
It is regrettable that we still see some irresponsible and inaccurate reporting of mental health within the media but we are working hard to change this. Mind’s joint anti-stigma campaign with Rethink Mental Illness, Time to Change, provides a Media Advisory Service and produces media guidelines. Please see http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/news-media#advisoryservice for further details.
I hope this information is useful and all the best with your complaint to ITV.
I know this can get discouraging, but I suggest that you use theirs and others’ BS to improve your next article and/or letter and include the studies cited by Rossa Forbes on this post and by Bob Whitaker in his posts that show the biopsychiatry DSM brain disease paradigm causes MUCH WORSE STIGMA, lack of empathy and down right contempt, fear and attacks on those seen as having crazy brains. Studies show people are far more sympathetic when they believe people are suffering from some life problem, loss, stressor than a bogus “mental illness” like bipolar.
In other words, I suggest you use such BS PR canned letters to address the usual lies promoted in bed with BIG PHARMA and psychiatry in your great bipolar debunking campaign. Bob Whitaker responds to those pretending great concern about stigma while they dole out one life destroying “brain disease” DSM stigma after another.
Bob speaks the truth that most if not all having extreme states could have gone through any of life’s hardships that can happen to all of us. He then says if psychiatry wants to eliminate stigma, all they need to do is tell the truth. Of course, he says it better along with other studies I urge you to check out to confront the fraud anti-stigma campaigners who create the most stigma.
Here’s Bob Whitaker’s great article about how biopsychiatry has created stigma with its false claims of chemical brain imbalances and other lies about those THEY stigmatize as mentally ill.
Bob gives the perfect cure for those creating the worst stigma engaging in bogus anti-stigma campaigns: tell the truth!
One of many examples of abuse related post traumatic stress disorder along with related physical problems being misdiagnosed as bipolar:
Trauma induced dissociation misdiagnosed as bipolar and other false stigmas:
Domestic abuse trauma/dissociation misdiagnosed as bipolar, borderline, etc.
Good article Donna. It describes well the dynamics of how some people may learn to survive under extreme trauma etc. I haven’t got around to reading the others posts yet! I think the thing is, the brain is a highly complex organ which we just do not fully understand yet. When a person is subjected to what could amount to a lifetime of abuse or extreme circumstances, the only place they may feel able to retreat is inside their head. They will develop coping strategies (often subconsciously) in order to escape and survive, as this quote from the article states.
” There’s a saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Pushed beyond normal limits, people have discovered extraordinary abilities. These abilities are in evidence by survivors who used their powers of the mind to survive.”
What concerns me is that the psychiatric system considers such coping strategies to be ‘diseases of the brain’ or ‘disorders’ in the physical sense of the word. I personally see these ‘techniques’ as brave attempts to make the best out of a very bad situation These individuals need to be congratulated for ‘creatively surviving’ not be given mythical labels such as ‘personality disorder’, ‘schizophrenia’ or any other mythical disorder for that matter! Such individuals need time to tease out and explore all of these mixed up thoughts, feelings, emotions etc. Administering a lifetime of drugs won’t help them understand the complexities of themselves or their background histories. And implying they are at fault can be soul destroying. Allowing a person the opportunity to explore and talk about their feelings is one of the most valuable gifts you can offer someone in extreme distress. And for them to gain insight and understanding of themselves is a very powerful enabling tool towards healing. Sadly, in this ‘quick fix’ culture, talking is often last on the agenda and drugs are suggested instead. Ironically, in this day and age psych drugs are ten a penny and talking is too expensive for many services to consider!
You hit the nail on the head. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Carole Warshaw’s article below on the dangers of misdiagnosing brave/undertandable coping strategies for abuse inflicted trauma as bipolar and other DSM stigmas. She cites other examples in the article.
“In the eyes of domestic violence survivors and victim advocates, labeling survival strategies as psychiatric disorders is a barrier to mental health care. “It is important to acknowledge to survivors that dissociation, self-medication, appearing passive and compliant, and self-blame are understandable responses to terror and entrapment,” said Warshaw.
Additional concerns regarding mental health care identified by domestic violence survivors and advocates in the 2000 survey were not receiving comprehensive mental health services, the abuser’s controlling the victim’s health insurance, initiating couples counseling before knowing the risk to the victim, and not informing the victim that psychiatric diagnoses can work against him or her in child custody battles, said Warshaw.”
As I have indicated a great deal, invalidation is one of the worst abuses one can inflict on another human, which psychiatry does by definition with its stigmatizing DSM bible. Did you ever see the movie, GASLIGHT? A perfect example of this evil done for the most diabolical, greedy purposes. That’s why counseling could be life saving if they provide such validation to abuse/trauma and other survivors. A favorite book of mine is I CAN’T GET OVER IT by Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis, 2nd ed. available at Amazon.
Traumatized children misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder thanks to those like Dr. Joseph Beiderman, Harvard psychiatrist, and cohorts more focused on BIG PHARMA millions under the table than child welfare.
“Psychiatrists Urged to Ask About Domestic Violence” – Often misdiagnosed as bipolar, paranoia, psychosis, etc. per Dr. Carole Warshaw, Psychiatrist and Domestic Violence Expert
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
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.
Donna, again you raise a crucial point. I think we need to be very careful in the language we use. You are right that bio-psychiatry (the medical model) has hijacked human emotions and made them medical in nature. I try to be very careful with the language I use now and don’t bow down to ‘medical’ jargon if I can help it. You just need to first look at the language used in the DSM and ICD such as ‘disorders’, ‘illness’, ‘pathology’, ‘disease’ etc. But also we have words such as ‘cure’, ‘treatment’, ‘recovery’ etc. I think if we use the langauge of medicine then we only continue to promote and pathologise emotional distress. If we are wanting a paradigm shift then we can assist in this right away by addressing how we express ourselves and communicate our message to others. It isn’t always easy and we can often slip up but it is all a learning process and is doable.
Thanks for all of your input and responses. And I do think you are an expert as a psychologist with a vast amount of knowledge about the truth about bogus biopsychiatry making you very important to the reform movement. That’s why I loved the article you posted originally and hope you do many more here.
My thoughts on our language being hijacked are part of my frustration at bogus biopsychiatry’s medicalization of all of human life. Have you seen Dr. Joanna Moncrieff’s book DE-MEDICALIZING MISERY? MADNESS CONTESTED is another new book coming out on this topic.
Thus, one can no longer feel free to say I feel depressed or anxious because one might risk being stigmatized. It appears that the so called depressed can now be automatically stigmatized as bipolar anticipating a future manic episode??!!! Do you know anything about such expansion of the bipolar fad fraud?
Dr. Nassir Ghaemi apparently wants to stigmatize every person on the planet with bipolar and he uses every bogus BIG PHARMA ad ploy to push his vile, predatory agenda. Do you know anything about him? He writes for PSYCHOLOGY TODAY and is all over the web with junk science. He has also written books on bipolar, so he has made this evil fraud his entire career. Also, I was noting that borderline personality disorder along with PTSD seem to be getting incorporated or hijacked into the bogus bipolar stigma scam deliberately. I think that so called bipolar is a coverup for trauma or the trauma induced “borderline” stigma to discredit, invalidate, silence, disempower, poison and destroy victims of abuse, social oppression and the many betrayals by the power elite engaged in corporate cronyism crimes against humanity. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the web about the neverending expansion of bipolar fraud that appear to be discrediting PTSD so that it can be falsely stigmatized bipolar.
I know that my own language has been corrupted through ongoing brainwashing when I think of “healthy behaviors” in eating, etc. Dr. Szasz loves sick, metaphorical terms like this!! I’m trying to unbrainwash myself, but it’s tough when surrounded by PSYCHIATRY LAND.
Thanks for your good points. I was really referring more to everyday language, but your points about disease/pathology language are even more critical.
You also made great points about Dr. Allan Frances who is responsible for creating the bipolar and ADHD epidemics by his own admission. Malignant narcissism?
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???!!!
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.
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…
Thanks travailler-vous. I think you are correct in saying stigma has always been there. The question is, who is generating this stigma? On the surface it does come across as ignorance by the media and general public but I would say the roots of stigma dig far deeper than that. If we did not have a long established system that generates so much misinformation surrounding the origins of emotional distress, the rush to single out and label people with unfounded diagnosis that lead people to ultimately believe they are ‘ill’ (and incapable), that will often make them the scapegoat (or black sheep) within their own environment or wider society, then I am sure stigma would decrease radically.
Yes, it is vital we inform the wider public of these misconceptions and keep plodding away but underneath a far greater change is needed and desperately over due. I think we can work from a top down approach and tease out the weeds but we also need to target the roots too, or else the weeds will keep popping back up. As they do! It is a massive task in trying to change public perception let alone the latter issues. I think we are always going to encounter opposition and criticism. It’s par for the course.
As the saying goes ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and step by step…
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.
Interesting, Rossa, though the link to the Close interview is broken.
John, thanks for spotting that the link no longer works. The sentence I found objectionable is where the reporter (who fawns over Glenn Close), describes Jessie Close in the most unattractive terms. Dependent (“sitting close to her sister”), physically unattractive(dog haired clothing), and in need of a support dog.
“I didn’t put two and two together as far as mental health,” said Jessie Close, sitting close to her sister on a couch in an Ottawa hotel room, her black top flecked with hair from her tiny dog that accompanies her on speaking engagements.”
Here’s a link to another post about stigma that will work.
Thanks, Rossa. Good article and website. John
Rossa, sorry I havent replied earlier. I was going to look at your links first. Unfortunately, as John states I cannot access the links. You don’t have a full text article of the Fatina work do you? I can’t access this from my academic research sites. All I can get is the Abstract and would like to read the full version.
I remember when Glenn Close posed for that photo with her sister. I was appalled when I saw this too. Another celebrity spreading the myth of mental ‘illness’ , and yet, they feel they are doing good. Yes, if you wish to maintain the myth then all is well and good. I do not believe this eradicates stigma though only increases it, as the wrong message continues to be spread. I take your point that stigma can increase with a belief someone has a ‘mental illness’ . The words ‘mental illness’ don’t help as these carry years of negative history with them.
The thing that got me with the guest speakers on our TV programme was that they categorically seemed to state that a ‘chemical imbalance’ was justified in not stigmatising people in distress. Therefore two issues I felt were wrong here, first the notion of a ‘chemical imbalance’ and secondly, their assumtion that it was ok to stigmatise peolple who are subjected to external trauma etc. Hence my desire to redress the balance. But either way stigma surrounds anyone in emotional distress and the media do nothing to counter this.
Perhaps you could re-edit the letter slightly and re-send it to the BBC?
There’s been a lot of these on the BBC in recents months. Must be part of a campaign to “combat the stigma of mental illenss”…
Sigh! i read so many media articles like this Morias. It’s all more of the same. The problem is such articles although well intentioned, I feel create more stigma! My dad has ‘bipolar’ , he is ‘ill’, he can’t help himself, he needs to take drugs all his life etc. The sad part is I think Frank Bruno believes this himself (because of what he has been told) like many other people.I don’t believe such mainstream myths help anyone and least of all the person in distress. We need to show that their is hope and a person can heal (not just function) but heal. A person with the appropriate help, understanding, empathy and support can overcome their distress and move forward. The ‘life sentence’ they are given does not have to mean life. The notion of ‘illness’ maintains a person and creates ‘revolving door patients’ but does not help free them from their underlying distress. I believe Frank did speak out about the terror he experienced at the hands of the psychiatric system and the force they used against him when he was sectioned. He did at that time say the psychiatric system needed to change and adopt a less coercive stance. Sadly, though he has been told he is ‘ill’ and believes this. The concern is, rather than trying to work towards a shift in consciousness, he may ultimately settle for just ‘getting by’ daily instead because of the myths he has been fed (and his family too!) How many more have had their hope taken away? Good point about highlighting this with the BBC too Morias. I guess this will inevitably be my next move!
Yes, there’s so much of this out there, and the BBC is second to none when it comes to promoting the wonders of psychiatry. A few months ago they had a program about the daughter of the new Archbishop of Canterbury and her depression, how she has come to accept she has an illness. It was heartbreaking to watch – you could tell she wasn’t really buying any of it but she had nowhere else to turn.
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.
As a dad, I would like to express my deepest condolences for the loss of your son.
Larmac, I am sorry to hear of your loss which should never have happened. All too often people say, ‘if only I had known what I know now’. Hopefully, the word is spreading with great sites like these where people are able to voice their concerns and tell of their own experiences. Maybe your mantra should be, ‘if only the professionals had taken more time to explore my son’s lifestyle and his pain, rather than automatically assuming he was ‘ill’ with a ‘disorder of the brain’? How many more lives could be saved if an holistic assessment was given to someone presenting with distress? How many more lives could be saved if they were not subjected to neuroleptic drug affects over the long term? And how many more lives could be saved if only a person was listened too and understood, rather than being considered ‘disordered’ . If only. If only the system would see human beings in front of them rather than ‘labels’.
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.
I’m sometimes asked if I think the TV is sending me messages, and I reply “Of course it is, that’s what it’s for!”
I don’t watch it. Who has time when there is this fascinating and amazing world to explore?
There is a reason why they call it programming.
Good point mjk. The only trouble is if we ignored TV (or other forms of media)the problems and wrong information would still generate and exist.
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.
SageSilk, don’t even get me started on the appalling labels of ‘personality disorders’!. These labels alone like all psychiatric diagnosis are not based on scientific fact and yet to suggest the individual’s personality is at fault is atrocious and incredibly stigmatising. I would ask, what part of the personality is disordered and can this be measured in some way? What are the traits that are considered disordered when compared to ‘the norm’? What is the norm in terms of how someone should behave when having suffered trauma, abuse, rape etc? Everyone is an individual and will react in different ways to cope, but on top of that they now have to live with the fact that their personality is at fault. A double whammy! Forget the abuse someone has suffered, forget a possible abuser, forget their pain lets just say they are disorders instead. And yet, their reactions and behaviours are perfectly understandable when we consider the antecedents. Oh and on top of that let’s give them drugs to stabilise this ‘disorder’ even though it is now considered behavioural in nature. Your probably aware to that many individuals are given more than one ‘personality disorder’? So they may be bordeline, avoidant and narcisstic in one breadth. In reality means that the PDQ assessments cast the net so widely, that everyone would be considered to have ‘PD’ traits in some way. This is not scientific, it is fundamentally flawed and yet people are branded with the label of PD, because often professionals don’t know what other diagnosis to give them. It’s also well know that many people are initially given a diagnosis of ‘bi-polar’ before ‘graduating’ to a personality disorder. The psychiatric system is clutching at straws and eager to diagnose with something and yet people are being harmed in the process by such awful labelling. Which like all diagnosis affects how individuals are viewed and are enabled to move towards healing. In fact, it’s very hard to heal when your entire personality is considered flawed!
Wow, listen to you…
The UK is fortunate to have you!
Keep up the great work!
Thanks again Duane. There are some great activists (professionals, psych survivors, carers etc) based both in the UK and Ireland and these are increasing daily, thank goodness! I have been involved in this movement for a number of years now so I know who the main players are in the UK, Ireland and Internationally! There is a strong community developing and linking up.
Julie, As I said there was a non-biological “medical model”
before the rise of bio-psychiatry. Many people here are unaware that when Thomas Szasz became famous for his attack on the “medical model,” bio-psychiatry was unheard of. Every graduate psychology program I applied to in the mid 70s was psychoanalytic. Every clinic was psychoanalytic. The psychoanalysts dominated within the grad school programs. They were the ones who decided what was “sick” and what was healthy.” THIS WAS A MEDICAL MODEL because the rot metaphor was mental illness. The Psychoanalysts were in effect the psychiatric Priesthood. They were just as oppressive to the “mentally ill” as the bio-psychiatrists today but they did not have the drug cartels backing them. The only people who did well under the Freudians were well to do “neurotics” who were willing to spend years in psychoanalysis.
In the 1970s the idea of personalities disorders became popular due to the works of Freudians like Kohut, Kernberg, Masterson and others.
They were influenced by the English “object-relations” school started by Fairbairn. The psychoanalytic dogma was that those with personality disorders were incurable.
I could go into a whole description of this theory–I was a Freudian before I became an apostate–but I don’t have the time. But the theory was pernicious and oppressive. The mental patients’ liberation movement arose in the early 1970s in the heyday of psychoanalysis. The idea that Freudianism was more humanitarian than bio-psychiatry is a popular myth. Leonard Frank always called psychoanalysis the velvet glove on the iron fist of Psychiatry.
Psychoanalysts were the Priesthood.
Like Szasz I am opposed to ALL psychological diagnosis, to all efforts to attribute problems in living to mental disorders.
Seth Farber, Ph.D.
Half of what I wrote disappeared! I don’t have time to recapitulate. Briefly Like all Priesthoods the Freudians determined who had status. The “schizophrenics” were at the bottom of the caste hierachy. They were non-persons. Above them were “personality disorders” particularly narcissistic and borderlines. Supposedly they were incapable of intimacy although a small elite could be saved if they spent years in “supportive therapy” and then underwent–if they qualified– REAL psychoanalysis. This was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Szasz aptly described
the psychoanalytic project as “existential cannibalism.” The Freudians derived their own status as brilliant theorists and humanistic professionals by destroying the meaning that other people gave to their lives. The gays realized this and thus gay psychiatrists lobbied to get homosexuality declassified as an illness. Briefly my critiques in the 10 yrs after I finished grad school were directed against Freudianism. I argued that it was a firm of secular Augustinianism (itself a perversion of Christianity) with its doctrine of original sin and predestination. (Two of my books were published by Christian presses as I counterposed to the Augustinian narrative a more humanistic Christian narrative–one which found supporters in various Christian confessions, including Catholicism.I mention this because I have been unfairly accused of being anti-Christian but my critique was aimed at both secular and religious people who adopted the kind of views Szasz criticized )
At any rate my point is that the idea of personality disorders is rooted in psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic era. Bio-psychiatry should be repudiated but so should all psychiatric diagnosis.We need to know the history of the field–it did not begin with bio-psychiatry. What is salient about the latter is that it subjects millions more people to psychiatric drugging. Psychiatry today is not a corrupt Priesthood but an industry.But let’s not falsify and romanticize the past. There was no golden age of psychiatry. Problems in living are not symptoms of defective personalities.
I wrote a number of essays critical of the Freudian paradigm(and books) but one was reprinted online, ironically by a progressive psychoanalytic group.
Seth Farber, Ph.D.
Thanks Seth for the rundown of the medical model before bio- psychiatry. I get what you mean about the belief in illness based around this model and I know Freudianism and the psychoanalytical movement was rife in the 1970’s. – 80’s. Well all I can say is psychoanalytical psychotherapy is still very popular in the UK, especially when professionals believe they are ‘treating personality disorders’. Object relations is the main theory used, especially around the work of Melanie Klein with projection, projective identification, transference, good breast – bad breast, splitting etc. These theories with influence of Freud, Kernberg, Fairbairn etc as you state are still going strong. The theories based around these individuals are what drives psychoanalytical therapy within the NHS here. I agree, as I believe ‘personality disorder’ was seen as incurable even a few years back in England and only now am I hearing professionals starting to say it is about behaviour and bad coping mechanisms rather than a ‘disease’ of the brain. Unfortunately, the labels still stand and even many therapists still think PD is a genuine disorder of the brain and can be treated by drugs. The new buzz therapy just surfacing is dialectic behaviour therapy again specifically geared towards these ‘disorders’ (to rectify faulty emotional reactions and thoughts). I don’t have a problem with therapy as such but I do take issue that many professionals still see these individuals in terms of having an ‘illness’ and that the faults lie with them. Also I often find that the theories take precedence over the individual themselves. They are what drives the therapist rather then the individual driving the therapeutic situation. The majority of people who seek help for emotional distress in the UK get help from the NHS, which is based around bio- psychiatry. So ultimately they either see a psychiatrist or NHS therapist where labels remain. In fact the majority of individuals who seek help have to be given a diagnosis before they can get help. No diagnosis, no help. And the stigma surrounding so called PD still exists among professions be it a belief in ‘disease’ or ‘behaviour’ related. I take issue with this as I know such labels lack validity. People are being stigmatised for conditions that don’t even exist in reality and that is dire. Once labelled, even some professionals are conditioned see the label first or ‘treat’ the label rather than the individual. The individual can’t escape the label because every move they make is assigned to this. And the fact that so called PD casts such a wide net makes it easier for professionals to put everything down to the ‘diagnosis’! So the individual is caught in a catch 22 position! Again I feel this constrains, stifles and prevents true healing.
I have more time for Freud than for Freudianism, Julie. Freud got lots of details wrong but he did remind the high-industrial urban society he inhabited that not everything could be encompassed by their science and people and things were not always as they seemed. Unfortunately Freud’s insights were often ignored by Freudians, and indeed by Freud himself, most notably regarding his ‘Seduction Theory’, which was really a fact about rape rather than a theory about seduction.
I agree with Seth’s religious analogies, which echo those of Jeffrey Masson, another ‘apostate’ and ex-high priest of latter-day Freudianism. Though Masson then threw the baby out with the bath water by condemning all psychotherapies. I do believe we can attend to each other’s souls as both professionals and lay people.
Thanks to all commenters. John
BTW John is right about Masson’s critique of Freud, but that’s another story. Actually Masson captured the Freudian life-world best in his memoir Final Analysis.
I suspect Julie from what you say that you are too young to know the psychoanalytic culture. Although your sociological description is enlightening to me. Thank you for the description. It seems psychoanalysis is stronger there–unless it is just in London. Although it’s20 years since I worked in a clinic and attended case conferences my impression is that Freudianism has been eclipsed–and good riddance. You were not in grad school in the 1970s or early 80s.Right? Or else the UK was very different–but I doubt it from what you say. It was impossible to study psychology in grad school in the US in that era without being inducted into the Freudian world. It was not original Freudianism but object-relations as you say.
I admit I found it seductive, even though from the start I adopted the heresy that schizophrenia was “curable.” There were a few that said that (eg Searles, Rosen who turned out to be abusive, but not many.) Yes indeed the patient cannot escape the label because the construct was not falsifiable, a common critique of Freudianism but one that did not bother them. They regarded such Popperian demands as a sign of philistinism. They managed to maintain their prestige with platitudes like, “It’s an art, not a science.”
Because I was a Freudian–I’m going to say I was a “Neo-Freudian” (expanding its meaning beyond the small group who took that as a brand name) and because I had an interest in spirituality once I had my epiphanies I realized that psychoanalysis was based on a deep structure that it shared with Augustinianism. At first I did not know about the intricacies of the original sin narrative–which is a perversion of Christianity.(There are a couple Christian here at MIA who accuse me of being anti-Christian every time I say this–or at least they used to. They refuse to accept that I am just opposed to one particular interpretation of Christianity-the one they seem to favor. I even converted to Christianity in 1990 after a mystical experience in order to utilize its profound resources. Although My background is secular Jewish, Judaism did not have much appeal to me.) But I had read enough literature to intuitively grasp that to say someone is “mentally ill” is akin to asserting their soul is defective, diseased,tainted by original sin. To deny the soul is flawed is proof that you are resisting the truth. Like you say it is a Catch
After this I charted the deep structure of psychoanalysis, its metanarrative and showed its astonishing isomorphism with Augustinianism, as contrasted for example to St Gregory of Nyssa who believed in universal salvation. A psychoanalyst must start as an analysand. I never underwent orthodox analysis but I was in analytic therapy while I was practicing therapy. I had this epiphany and I realized everything was filtered through this basic stance, that the core of my being is flawed: There is something wrong with me.
And since I was so convinced of that any assertion to the contrary was an act of evasion. I remember one time my supervisor rebuked me for discussing a client as if she was a teleological being instead of a cluster of symptoms. “She is deeply pathological” my supervisor said. At first I accepted it but I became aware that the more I saw my client in those terms the more unconsciously inclined I was to interpret my own actions as symptoms of my pathology. So you see this is the root of the problem you describe, Julie.
Gradually I became to see the possibility of an alternative.(I can’t tell that long story here.) That would start with an act of courage–the courage to assert: “There is nothing wrong with me.” And to make the same assertion of my clients. Ultimately it rested on a metaphysical premise–the soul was not defective. In theological terms the soul was created in the image of God, and retained the image after the Fall. So you see there is no way out of the psychoanalytical hermeneutical circle–even the successful patient (and only a very few qualified for psychoanalysis, and even fewer successfully completed it) remained defective. The damage could never be completely undone–just like the narrative of original sin. Even the saved remained unworthy.
The metanarrative was so seductive– it was a tragic narrative, and its allure appeal to masochism. After I made this discovery I was able to “save” many clients as long as I caught them in the beginning–e.g.,when they were 25 or younger. I conveyed to them that life was difficult and they might indeed have picked up some bad habits but there was nothing wrong with them. That was a great relief for most of them because they had been worried they WERE defective, a fear stoked by the Freudian therapists… My own explorations led me as time went on to approach the issue theologically. In my Eastern Christian book I asserted that the soul was holy and divine.
Frankly I never came across anyone else
who made a theological critique of psychoanalysis. If I were to teach Freudianism in grad school it would be as comparative religion.
Since it was disguised as science in the age of Science it was all the more difficult to break out of it. The doctor pronounced you have a borderline disorder. That means you are lacking in worth–deep down a worthless wretch. Not the brain as you mistakenly said. No for Freudians it was the mind or psyche that was defective.Unlike Augustinianism the patient did not deserve to suffer. Unlike Adam the adult child of inadequate parents was not evil, only pitiful and contemptible. Once you were an apprentice analyst (albeit eclectic) you viewed all patients through the grid of medical terms which fixed down low the ceiling of the patients’ aspirations. The borderline–like the other pd’s– had a defective or flawed ego.It needed to be firmed up by superficial, “supportive”, therapy.But the patient could not expect to be able to love, only to survive–Freudians regarded the borderline in most cases as incurable, tragic. Read Fairbairn for a poignant literary account.
In Eastern Christianity as well as other forms of Christianity as well as Hinduism the divinity of the soul was asserted. This evoked feelings of reverence and love. Freudianism dismissed all religion as superstition. Instead the borderline was pitiful, contemptible and I remember in our cases conferences we spoke of these patients with a mixture of pity and revulsion.
Because I was a true believer and because I converted from Freudianism to Christianity and neo-Hinduism I believe I know why it is so harmful, and why it is so hard to break out of–not to say there could not be a truly humanist version of psychoanalysis albeit a long way from Freud.
Neo-Freudianism is a bewitching narrative and to fully break away, the therapist has to replace it with another narrative, another paradigm. You can find the narrative I ultimately embraced–although I would call myself a educator and an advocate not a therapist– described in my new book, The Spiritual Gift of Madness…http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiritual-Gift-Madness-Psychiatry/dp/159477448X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374331489&sr=8-1&keywords=farber+gift. It is to Sri Aurobindo that I remain most indebted for this narrative, although Christianity left its mark upon me.
For the young patient the respect of the older therapist may be enough to alleviate the fear she is defective, and unworthy of love. For the Mad activist the narrative of political struggle and liberation becomes enthralling–along with the respect of her peers. See L. Morrison’s Talking Back to Psychiatry.
To quote one of my essays which summarizes my Christian humanist critique of Freudianism in my book Eternal Day:”Psychoanalysts have been writing a tragic story about the human situation. One cannot read psychoanalytic literature without being overwhelmed by a profound sense of pathos, without being haunted by a sense of “It could have been” and “almost.” As in a dream one can faintly hear the strains of a mournful tune accompanied by the psychoanalytic refrain: “It could have been …. It could have been …. It could have been.”
“Northrop Frye in his classic text described the hero of the tragic story: “The tragic hero has normally had an extraordinary, often a nearly divine destiny almost within his grasp, and the glory of that original vision never quite fades out of tragedy … While catastrophe is a normal end of tragedy, this is balanced by an equally significant original greatness, a paradise lost” (Frye, 1973, p.210, Emphasis added). This is the “almost” that haunts the psychoanalytic tale. The psychoanalytic hero, of course, is the newborn infant who possesses a whole ego, a psyche of pristine purity and integrity, who has a nearly divine destiny almost within his or her grasp, but whose ego is then irreparably damaged by the very individuals who cherish the greatest hope for the infant child: his or her parents.
“Psychoanalytic literature betrays a nostalgia for a past that never was, for a “might have been” that is a figment of the imagination. This, of course, is ironic, because psychoanalysis announced its arrival as a power that had come both to reveal that human beings are fixated on the past and to liberate them from that fixation. It cannot fulfill that aspiration: it cannot forge a trail to a brighter future. For the psychoanalyst, the vision of what could have been is vivid and resplendent, whereas the vision of what could be is at best tarnished and obscure. For the neo-Freudian, as for the Augustinian, the past is far more real than the future.” Needless to say bio-psychiatry is even less satisfying as a narrative. Ultimately the human need for a redemptive-messianic vision will reassert itself. Bio-psychiatry will be swept away just as Freudianism was. It remains to be seen what kind of unifying narrative will emerge to enable humanity to find the courage to subdue those forces of Ignorance which are destroying the earth and the faith to forge a trial through the darkness to the new day, to the eternal dawn.
Seth Farber, Ph.D.
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.
Sorry, slightly off-topic, but if anyone could point me in the direction of any resources on the social/psychological underpinnings of mania, I’d be most grateful.
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.
Seth Farber, Ph.D.
CORRECTION. There was atypo
Actually there was a bio-psych model in the 1th century but that’s ANOTHER story.
That should be:
Actually there was a bio-psych model in the 19th century but that’s ANOTHER story.
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.
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
I’ve been reading Gary Wills books on Paul, Jesus and the gospels and I have been very impressed with them. I’ve also read Pagels too.
Do you have a background in the mental health system?
Thanks John! Must admit I am trying to respond to all comments. It is taking me a while to get around to them all. If I haven’t replied back to respondents yet I will do!
Have to admit I have always been fan of Freud, but haven’t always agreed with what he proposed. In my younger days (in my early twenties) he was the first person I became aware of who was prepared to explore and analyse the workings of the mind and shall we say ‘soul’? I guess he was the first person I encounted who had ever even attemped this. So I have always admired him for his pioneering work and how I believe he led the way to what we have now in terms of psychotherapy over psychiatry. As I believe. I am a strong supporter of psychotherapy (not all schools of thought) and welcome the fact that individuals are allowed time to explore their own world view and experiences so that they may gain greater insight into their lives. Used in the right way psychotherapy can be a very powerful and enlightening process to enable individuals to move on in their life, unlike drugs which I would say stifles the soul (if we wish to talk of soul here).
Sorry to say I am somewhat in the dark with the discussion both you and Seth are generating here, as I have not really read around christianity, Augustine, Chesterten etc, but I will chip in where I can.
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.
Seth, I agree with what you say about Freud and how he was viewed in terms of his biased views against women etc. Casting these criticisms aside, I just feel that he was one of the main pioneers in his field to recognise and address the internal, dynamic workings of an individual’s world and how they can be affected by external influences. I feel this was a far better approach than the psych drug culture we have now. Which is another reason why I am a strong advocate of psychotherapy, exploration and communication where emotional distress is involved. I too support soteria houses, open dialogue and exploration of hearing voices etc.
When I talk of therapy I also include art, drama, music therapies, anything that allows an individual to express how they are feeling and explore the dynamics surrounding their origins of distress. I also believe John is correct in saying you don’t need a trained therapist to ‘do therapy’ but that this can also include talking to a good,understanding and supportive friend. Unfortunately, in this day and age finding someone to talk to isn’t always possible, which is why people turn to therapists. When I think of Freud and his couch (although I have read his use of a couch was a myth), to me it is a classic, symbolic reminder that we need to keep talking and move away from seeing distress as pathological in nature. Freud may have his critics but his basic principle of allowing a person to talk their distress out was one his major contributions to the world of mental health. Sadly, many professionals do not recognise this and just see ‘ illness’ and therefore administer drugs because it ‘appears’ more cost effective and quicker to deal with.
Amen Julie, except I don’t see lack of talk and listening as a particularly modern problem. In fact the mobile phone and the Internet, not least sites like the ISEPP and MIA, have helped me communicate more and better with people, augmenting rather than replacing face-to-face conversations. Talking runs some risk of verbal abuse and bullying, but silence is worse.
Thanks again. John
I don’t get your reasoning here Julie. It’s such a non-sequitur I’m struggling to think of an analogy.Nothing precise comes to mind.It’s sort of like praising Stalin because social democracy (arguably a form of socialism soomewhat akin to “socialism” under Stalin) is better than neo-liberalism. Yes it is better but I don’t see why Stalin should get the credit.
\ First of all I agree that good therapy is better than drugs. But the research shows the efficacy of therapy depends upon factors that have nothing to do with the kind of therapy-the Rogerian trio of warmth empathy and genuineness is what makes the difference. But let’s not go too far as Breggin does. We live now in a state of permanent war, the environment is being destroyed to the point where many scientists doubt whether humanity will survive. Martin Rees guessed the chance that humanity would survive until 2100 as 50-50. And America has become a totalitarian state. Therapy is not THE answer\
You write,” I agree with what you say about Freud and how he was viewed in terms of his biased views against women etc.Casting these criticisms aside…” This is like saying “I agree with you Stalin imprisoned too many people but casting this error aside ..”– as if Stalin’s gulags were trivial. Freud’s misogyny was no small matter.If you read Masson, Patrick Swales and others, Freud’s theory and behavior was not just mildly sexist. It was abusive.In his most famous sexist case study–was it Anna O?–
Freud blamed his patient when a friend of her father (her father was Freud’s friend and benefactor) sexually forced himself on her.
Freud came up with one of his usual cockamamie theories– as I recall the young woman unconsciously WANTED to be sexually harassed by this man, a much older man. The woman was traumatized–Freud blamed this on her failure to resolve her desire to have sex with her own father. There were so many of these incidents that were unearthed in the 1980s that Freud’s reputation as a warrior for Truth was ruined by the early 1990s.
He seemed to have two dominant concerns that trumped his search for the truth. 1) Being well paid and 2) Watching out for the old boys’ club. For a brief book that covers all of this I recommend Against Therapy by Masson. I do not think Masson
makes a good argument against therapy(although others have) but that book does cover the most egregious cases of Freud’s abuse of women, and of the abuse by his followers, including the abuse by a famous Freudian of a young girl who became a leader in the psych survivors movement-Sally Zinman..
“I just feel that he was one of the main pioneers in his field to recognise and address the internal, dynamic workings of an individual’s world and how they can be affected by external influences.” This was another problem. Thanks to Freud, for close to a century
the dogma was unassailable that all problems in living were the intractable result of inadequate parenting in the first few years of the child’s life. External influences in the present were virtually entirely overlooked. I only freed myself from these Freudian dogmas after I accidentally discovered systemic family therapy.
For example Freudians had a terrible record with anorexics–the latter had a high mortality rate despite analytic interpretations. Salvador Minuchin became famous for his high success rate. Minuchin’s family therapy was based on the premise that the patient’s refusal to eat was a response to the parents’ refusal to accept the young girl’s autonomy in the present. Instead of spending years talking about the past, Minuchin used his authority to get family members to modify their behavior in the present.
This is of particular relevance for psychiatric survivors since the crux of Minuchin’s intervention was extricating the labeled person from the role of the identified patient; she was freed to express her independence in a more productive way, and the parents were taught to
valorize her independence. I am abbreviating this Julie because there were numerous moves involved.
I studied with Minuchin and became an expert family therapist but once I took a position against the drugs I was unemployable. But my point is this. Psychoanalysis was relatively ineffective.
Had the drug companies not allied with the shrinks and the APA, many more effective modalities would have replaced it. But instead psychiatrists became pimps for the drug cartels.
You want to give Freud credit as a pioneer but he did more harm than good. One of the most pernicious “accomplishments” was establishing the face-validity of the idea of mental illness.
While therapy was often of value for patients in private practice that was not because of anything distinctively Freudian, but because a relationship could be of value–but not when the therapist looked down on the patient.
I will repeat. For 10 years I was a Freudian. Much of this time I worked at clinics collecting hours. I spent years in NY and San Francisco looking for a clinic where I could do therapy with “schizophrenics.” At every single
clinic or half-way house (Soteria was filled up)I was told schizophrenia was an incurable illness. The best that could be offered was “supportive therapy” plus drugs to prevent schizophrenics from “decompensating.” These were all Freudians. Not a single one offered “schizophrenics” anything other than a prophecy of doom. They were the lowest caste, the untouchables. The mental patients liberation movement was a revolt against psychiatrists who were Freudian.
In some ways biopsychiatry is actually better for “psychotics.” Since everyone is a mark for the drug industry those on the bottom are not quite as different today as the rest of the population. Today the psychotic gets drugs alone. 30 years ago she got drugs and a degradation ritual termed supportive psychotherapy.
Of course you know Freud hinself regarded schizophrenics as hopeless and “worthless.” Julie you are unaware of how critical the caste hierarchy was to Freudianism–it was the heart of it.See Final Analysis by Masson–an indispensable book for understanding the CULTURE.
None of the things you like about therapy Julie were distinctively Freudian. And certainly some of the worst aspects of therapy–the legitimization of the medical model–WERE distinctively Freudian; that is the Freudians made mental illness their root metaphor and gave it its legitimacy. Like most people in the field under 45 you have little idea how awful it was. Even if you had done more reading you really have to sit in the back rooms as I did.
Further you say “he was one of the main pioneers in his field to recognise and address the internal, dynamic workings of an individual’s world”..”.Freud may have his critics but his basic principle of allowing a person to talk their distress out was one his major contributions to the world of mental health. .” If you are talking about schizophrenics, as stated this is just not true. There are many books on this–Philip Rieff–but I summarize it in my book Eternal Day. It was only rich educated “neurotics” who were allowed to talk their distress out.(SEE Webster, Why Freud was Wrong) But even the value of this was dubious because unless the patient felt understood by the shrink the process was not therapeutic. There were others who deserved credit who were not exclusive, eg Sullivan even did therapy with schizophrenics. You called Freud a pioneer but I point out his hermeneutic was destructive.Freud does not fare well when you compare him to more open-minded therapists–For example the moral education school in the 19th century. Or contrast Freud to his contemporaries who were not as misanthropic as Freud was–Adler, Jung, Otto Rank.
I do not think Freud stand up well to history. Nor do I think reviving psychotherapy is the solution to the problems of today. I address this issue in my books as well.In THe Spiritual Gift of Madness. But basically I think HVN and OD and various groups are more democratic than therapy. Propagating a myth of a golden age of therapy obscures the recent move to more alternative forms of caring and social organization that are more democratic. Whatever the weaknesses of these groups they are part of the effort to create a more democratic society.I recommend The Careless Society by John McKnight. If anyone is interested I could send them my essay, Augustinianism and the Psychoanalytic Metanarrative which was published in the Review of Existential Psychiatry and Psychology.
Seth Farber, Ph.D.
An interesting response to Julie’s points, Seth, though I can’t say I agree much, being something of a neoliberal myself, among other unpopular things. Though not quite as conservative as Peter Breggin. Mine tends to be a minority opinion on forums like this. I even like TV!
I do like much of Rogers and also Family Systemic Therapy. Warmth, empathy and genuineness indeed make the difference and the therapeutic alliance is vital. I speak of course as a client, not a therapist. I’m at the other end of the telescope.
Your relentless condemnation of Freud seems to me like flogging a nearly-dead horse, even though Bert Karon strongly defended the same animal to me when I criticized Freud on the ISEPP Listserv some months ago. Like many ‘isms’ Freudianism can be whatever one makes of it. And some, like Karon, seem to make a better job of Freudianism than Freud himself did.
Thanks to all. John
Seth it seems clear you have a loathing of Freud (and psychoanalysis) and you give some of your reasons for this, which I appreciate and thank you for informing me of these.
In answer to your questions a few comments back which I haven’t had time to reply to – no I wasn’t part of the Freudian movement in the 70’s and 80’s (I was in my early teens at that time) and no I haven’t worked with people following Freud’s theories. Clearly you have and so have an inside knowledge of this. I graduated with my degree about 9 years ago and my MSc about 2 years ago. So I guess you could class me as a latecomer to the field here.
I wasn’t being flippant when I said ‘casting these critcisms aside’ and take such criticisms on board seriously. I said I was a fan of Freud not someone fanatical about him. I too do not agree with all that he ‘discovered’ or how he interpreted his findings. And I do not like the fact that he was clearly biased against women. But that does not mean to say I cannot disregard all the work he did. I believe he has value and so has his work. Freud is not my main influence to be honest as you clearly state yourself Carl Rogers contributed a great deal to the client-centred, humanistic approach. I would say I am more of a humanist and experientialist. I agree more with Rogers than Freud, but that is not to say I can discount Freud’s contributions. Again, I am also influenced by Adler and particularly Jung. I also agree with some of the pioneering work that Skinner did, but that does not mean I am a behaviourist or agreed with all that Skinner did, because I don’t (far from it). I am influenced by many theorists of the past, who are all pioneers in their own way. I don’t single Freud out as the main man (not forgetting women here). And I never said that Freud was the pioneer for all that was good about psychotherapy because he wasn’t. I feel Roger’s had a postive influence here (at least the therapy I would agree to) amongst many others.
Also you state that Freudians believed that ‘schizophrenia’ was an ‘illness’ and that individuals would never recover from this. I don’t believe this is unique to Freudians. ‘Schizophrenia’ has always been considered an illness of the brain by many theorists and approaches.
I am vaguely aware of Minuchin and his family orientated therapy and so believe this has value too. I am not discounting what you are saying. Anything that offers an alternative to drugs and biopsyhiatry I am in favour of. I have an open mind here. I would have thought my open letter states clearly how I feel over these issues.
As for your references to Christianity, Augustine and how that reflects on the human psyche etc. Cleary again you have researched this. So I will give you this. My work and advocacy around this movement has not involved researching religion or Christianity. Although ironically my MSc dissertation was about the role of spirituality in the work of mental health professionals. So maybe your book The Spiritual Gift of Madness is one I should clearly read.
That’s all for now. Julie
John and Julie
BTW John I’m pretty sure I mentioned Karon has one of the few if not the only admirable Freudians who treated “schizophrenics” like human beings and felt they could be cured.
I indeed feel like I’m flogging a dead horse except Julie is young and unaware of how Freudianism and Freud was exposed and eviscerated inn the US in the 1980s and 90s.
Thus she says things about it that no American supporter of the psychiatric survivors’ movement as it emerged in the 1970s would be likely to say. It amazes me but younger people–under 45– don’t realize that the patients’ movement felt the same fury at the Freudians that they now feel towards bio-psychiatry.
Julie when you say “And I do not like the fact that he[Freud] was clearly biased against women” you are missing the point. I’m not talking about bias, I am talking about exploitation and emotional abuse.He was far worse than the average professional of his era. This is one reason Freudianism was destroyed by the 1990s–its allure had rested partly on Freud’s reputation as a man of unflinching self scrutiny and moral integrity. That persona could not withstand the numerous attack and revelations.
You write ‘Freudians believed that ‘schizophrenia’ was an ‘illness’ and that individuals would never recover from this. I don’t believe this is unique to Freudians.” That is true but as I said in American clinical psychology all the universities and clinics was dominated by the Freudians. I’m trying to tell you when Szasz launched his critique against the medical model the target was the psychoanalysis. The same with Laing. Although they both thought psychoanalysis could be reformed. Few people realize it but the Freudians had hegemony in clinical psychology s well as exalted status in the literary world.
As mentioned I was an ardent Freudian for 10 years. To know how pernicious Freudianism was in the clinics you had to be there. That’s why Masson who, unlike me had despised all forms of spirituality, depicted Freudianism in similar terms. But after I became an apostate I agreed with Popper that a non-falsifiable theory was of no therapeutic value. Yes I came to loathe Freudianism for the harm it inflicted upon patients, particularly my comrades in the patients’ movement. Further I was finally disabused of my fascination with the psychoanalytic metanarrative and came to regard Freud as probably the greatest intellectual charlatan of the 20the century.(A view I think I shared with Masson.) Freud was a highly gifted writer and a good story teller which partially accounted for Freud’s success. I was not a fan of Rogers, My allusion was to the famous studies that showed the efficacy of a type of therapy depended purely upon the quality of the patients relationship with the therapist, a finding that was disturbing to the Freudian intellectual elitists.
My book presents the Mad movement as an alternative to therapy which is at best a stop gap measure. AS I see it if humanity has a chance of surviving it will have to adopt q messianic redemptive paradigm of madness and change The greatest thinker and visionary of the 20th century was Sri Aurobindo http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiritual-Gift-Madness-Psychiatry/dp/159477448X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374549766&sr=8-1&keywords=farber+gift
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
THe book by Pagels (it has nothing to do with Gnosticism) that describes the original radicalism and the subsequent I>orruption of Christianity is Adam Eve and the Serpent.
Well if 47 going on 48 makes me young I will take it. Clearly, I am still wet behind the ears! (And somewhere there is also dead horse ready to flog). Seth I could be wrong but I don’t believe the anti-Freudian movement was as rife in England as in America during the 80’s and 90’s. Perhaps in London maybe? I know the Tavistock Clinic came in for quite a bit of criticism at that time. I believe they were strong followers of psychoanalytical theory and still are I think. I do recall when I was about 18 discovering R D Laing for the first time (a series about him on TV) and his criticisms of those who believed ‘ ‘schizophrenia’ was an illness. His portrayal of ‘Knots’ and the DIvided Self had a significant impact on me, long, long before I ever started or knew about this movement. I recall in his book the DIvided Self (going off my memory) how he always saw things from the clients point of view and how events in their lives were interpreted wrongly by professionals – always seeing the sufferer as the one with the problem. I believe Laing’s belief was that it was the professionals with the problem not the diagnosed ‘schizophrenic’. The ‘schizophrenic’ was viewed by Laing to be acting absolutely rationally to events he was subjected to in his world. However, as we know Laing himself came in for crticism not just with his theories but his lifestyle too. Anyway, that was may take on the 80’s regarding the mental health system at that time in England. Clearly, more dead horse to flog!
Oh I thought you were younger. In America up until the mid-80s psychoanalysis was still hegemonic in the mental health system in US. I have no idea about England, although today it is obviously far more advanced–with the denunciation of “diagnosis.” Clearly the US was the forefront in battlefield against psychoanalysis. Jeffrey Masson’s work made him a celebrity. It completely upturned the image of Freud. And Masson had risen to the top before he became a critic. He was friends with and a protégé of Anna Freud. They expected him to do great things forb the psychoanalytic movement. Masson himself ASSUMED once he had read through the Freud letters and the archives that his peers in Freudian movement would want everything revealed. You see in the intellectual world and in psychology “Freud” was a synonym for the struggle for truth wherever it takes you. So when Anna Freud and the other said to Masson, “You can’t publish this stuff, it will ruin us” Jeffrey was crushed. It was like with former Communists in 40s and 50s who wrote The God that Failed. For Masson psychoanalysis WAS the God that failed.
The first revelation was Freud suppressed the material showing many children were sexually molested by adults, by their parents. Masson might have remained a Freudian had the others said, “Yes we must reveal this. The quest for truth is more important even than Freud himself.” But they tried to silence Masson. Once he started talking they demonized him and tried to ruin his reputation. Masson was 100% honest–although one might say he had a big ego–in the Eastern sense. But he had no ulterior agenda. Freud had been his God. Masson felt it was his responsibility to reveal what he learned–just like Snowden does today. After Masson, other revelations came and other defections followed. Frederick Crews was a major blow. Peter Breggin never was a Freudian because most of them looked down on “schizophrenics.”
Yes Laing too was an ex-Freudian–he left Tavistock in late 50s or early 60s. In THe VOICE of Experience in early 80so he debunks the Freudians, although he never renounced his teacher Winnicott. For Laing as you say it all hinged upon their abusive attitude towards the mad. Laing’s revolutionary book was The Politics of Experience in 1967. As far as I can see I am the only “mental health professional” who is following in the tradition of the 1960s Laing. Hardly anyone even mentions him anymore. When they do it’s the more sedate Laing of the 1970s and 80s, not the 60s radical. It’s Laing as a therapist. Laing himself was divided between his desire to be a “great master” like Freud and his 1960s belief that there was a need for more radical changes and that the mad were the spiritual vanguard. My 2012 book was inspired by the 1960s Laing, the inspirations that Laing himself abandoned by late 1960s.
The most mind-boggling part of Masson’s book I remember is when a psychiatrist at a meeting of German psychiatrists tried to commit Masson to a mental hospital because of Masson’s critique of Freud! He needed only one other psychiatrist’s agreement to do so under German law, but he didn’t get one, luckily.
Believe it or not, there is an aspect of Freud you haven’t criticized, Seth. You praise Freud’s story telling skills, yet C. S. Lewis criticized Freud’s knowledge and understanding of mythology more than fifty years ago. And Lewis himself was certainly a great mythologist.
Ronald Laing famously appeared drunk on the Irish ‘Late Late Show’ decades ago, which at least gave us all something to talk about. Mind you, he was not the only drunk on Irish TV in those days.
As for spirituality, I think Masson has turned to Dog-worship. Maybe he’s dyslexic…
Thanks again to all. John
John,Laing often showed up at lectures drunk.
Although TV takes it to another level.
One time he cried throughout most of his lecture. Jutta has left him not long before–he never got over that.
Yes I did say (I don’t know if “praise” is accurate) that Freud was a gifted writer. But no one has ever accused me (not since my Freudian days)of a bias TOWARD Freud. I’m not an expert in mythology as Lewis. However Lewis might have been criticizing in part Freud’s reductionist INTERPRETATION of mythology?
Yes Masson is a very moving writer about animals. It is in fact the only area in which he overcomes his knee-jerk attitude against spirituality–a result partly of his father’s guruitis. Anyone like me who think animals are underestimated and abused should read some of his work. He is an astute observer with a love of animals–in Jane Goddall tradition. He has a classic of elephants weeping and another–A Peaceable Kingdom orsomething–in which he trained natural prey-predators to be friends. It was quite quaint. Things like a cat and a mouse becoming best friends. (I read it 10 yrs ago so I forget the specifics.)
You know the time Laing got drunk and in a big brawl in his hotel room with a friend, another therapist. The room was torn apart and both men were bloodied. The police were called. Evidently Laing had ability to sober up quickly. So he pulled out his card, gave it to the cop and said his friend was a schizophrenic patient of his whom he had ben trying unsuccessfully to cure. Laing said the man needed to be contained. Laing’s friend was still staring into space dumbfounded as the police handcuffed him
and took him away to a cell for the night.
I am glad to hear truth being spoken about Laing, I tend to agree with Szasz on Laing, Laing may have had some interesting ideas early in his career, but he morally soiled himself by not eschewing coercion. Szasz was able as recently as 2009 to document many instances of Laing carrying out forced drugging against his detainees (‘patients’):
Szasz never once raped a brain, never carried out forced drugging. For that he dies morally intact. Anyone posing as the savior of those forced into mental patienthood who is themselves guilty of carrying out forced drugging, let the internet record in perpetuity so that their grandchildren can read about their human rights abuses.
Masson, someone I’ve had email contact with, said something absolutely wonderful on the Phil Donahue show in the late 80s, something very brave about holding forced psychiatry practitioners to account. I have searched for 20 minutes to find it, but I can’t find it, I could quote it from memory but he deserves a direct quote so I’m not gonna do it. I’ll find it again one day. But trust me what he said on Donahue would have every psychiatry survivor rising in their seats, you would never see such hardcore denouncement of psychiatry on daytime TV today. I will find the quote.
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
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.
In England most people diagnosed with ‘personality disorder’ specifically ‘borderline’ have often had a label of ‘bi-polar’ first. They graduate to ‘PD’ after this. Seems it is already happening over here. I haven’t had time to check out Dr Ghaemi yet on Psychology Today. When I get the time I will. And try to respond to my other post are here too. Including Rossa Forbes!
No rush to respond. I must say I find it surprising that those given the bogus bipolar stigma to push toxic drugs in England would then be given the insult borderline stigma for which drugs are said not to work while therapy is indicated. In reading articles about deliberate up/misdiagnosing, many psychiatrists stigmatize a majority with bipolar with the pretense it is treatable with a cocktail of lethal drugs guaranteed to disable the victims and destroy their lives. This boosts profits for BIG PHARMA while allowing psychiatrists to profit from the suffering and destroyed lives of those they make permanent patients with the bipolar fad fraud.
I’ve read posts by people from England who say there is a great effort to remove people from disability welfare, so could that be the motivation for changing bipolar to borderline to more easily blame the victims and remove them from any assistance to save money?
It seems that given the long term agenda to use bogus bipolar to push lethal drugs on patent, perhaps countries promoting this fascist, abusive agenda can no longer afford the growing disability claims due to the stigma and brain/organ damage caused by these poisons. Also, many drug companies are abandoning psychiatry in droves, many of their toxic drugs are coming off patent and now they are focusing on only extended patents for lethal depot neuroleptics.
Many people with a ‘PD’ diagnosis in England are also on drugs. So even though this diagnosis may be classed as behavioural, this doesn’t stop psychiatrists giving them drugs for their depression, low moods or anxiety. And if you want my honest opinion on why ‘bi-polar’ switches to ‘PD’ it is because these professionals haven’t a clue what they are doing! They are literally shooting in the dark when they are presented with someone with ‘complex needs’. So they start off with reading their mood (hence ‘bi-polar’) and then when the person is seen as difficult or treatment resistant (hate that term) they are then given a ‘PD’ diagnosis on top of the ‘bi-polar’. Plus the very fact that the DSM and ICD categories cast such a confusing wide net, allows a psychiatrist freedom of choice on where to place a client on this diagnosing continuum. Many people are given multiple diagnoses not just ‘PD’ or ‘bi-polar’. Such is the absolute farce of the DSM and ICD’s! Plus a diagnosis of ‘PD’ is increasing in England. This is usually given to women but now it appears they are running out of the female population so are moving on to males! It is on the increase almost in epidemic proportions, which just can’t be right. I believe it is the hip and buzz word around psychiatry right now and funding is being piled in to services for this in specific areas. ‘PD’ is now just as popular as ‘bi-polar’ and ADHD etc. When a person presents with ‘complex’ symptoms or is proving difficult (as they are viewed to be) low and behold a label of ‘PD’ surfaces. It concerns me gravely the increase in the use of a ‘PD’ diagnosis, especially when we know how damaging such a label can be but also again there is no substantive evidence for such a diagnosis!
As for people getting removed from social welfare, yes this is true. But that is just our pathetic government not recognising that people are genuinely suffering with long- term, debilitating, emotional distress. The money saved is going to the rich not the vulnerable in society. No matter what you are diagnosed with the government aims to take away all social welfare from the weakest, poorest and most vulnerable. The government is creating its own stigma by scapegoating those who are suffering, in order to cover up for their own political misdemeanours. But that is another political story!
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
Indeed you did so acknowledge Bert Karon, Seth, and I acknowledged your acknowledgement. John
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
Well it seems we have some common ground in that we all support Laing in some way. He was certainly a charismatic, eccentric and radical character. Of the series I watched about him in the 1980’s as he stated his views he used to sit and smoke (never allowed on TV today) and I am sure he was drunk too. Clearly he did himself no favours here in getting his valid messages across.
Must look up this guy Masson.
And yes, John I do remember the dog, cat and mouse video ;o)
Here it is I think?
This might be of interest to you both John and Seth.
R D Laing.
So according to this guy ‘bi-polar’ is genetic eh?
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
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.”
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
Glad you liked the links. I think the least said about DrKeon the better to be honest. He is so self-assured and seems to think he has it all sewn up. I liked how he said about no x-rays can prove what he is saying but ‘lets just pretend’! Isn’t that just the ethos of psychiatry anyway? Also, yes he did admit he may be talking a whole load of BS. Ok, I say no more and leave that last sentence to DrKeon ;o)
Yep, there are many who can talk a good game and can be quite charismatic while doing it. As you say, I think Laing’s private life has kind of obscured many of the valid points he raised. However, he is still quoted quite a bit so his name is never far from this movement. But I don’t feel he did himself any favours and it is always his private life which tends to creep out from the woodwork first, especially from our opposition anyway.
Did anyone from ITV ever respond?
Shawn, I am pleased you asked. I intended to keep those interested informed of the outcome but regret to say, to date, we have heard nothing back from This Morning (TM) producers at all. Not one word. Our letter was forwarded to TM from the ITV company itself. But the producers of the TV programme have ignored two emails from me requesting any kind of response at all from them.I wrote about a week ago to them and they never replied back. I did threaten OFCOM to them, which is our English TV and media standards watchdog. I have to say if TM do not reply then OFCOM may be our next move. Failing that, then to write back to the ITV company themselves stating we have heard nothing from TM.
To be honest Shawn since our letter, coincidence or not (?), the show itself seems to have got worse. They have had more features on mental distress and yet seem to have ignored any points we raised in the letter. It is obvious they are stuck in the bio-psychiatry/medical model ethos and supported by mental health professional from many disciplines who still believe this. So very sad to see.
However, we won’t give up eh? I will keep people who have been so kind to reply to my article informed, be it good or bad news. Pessimistic as I am, I fear the latter 🙁
Thanks for asking Shawn.
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
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
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.”
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: Examples of Manufacturing Grassroots Support
Bonner and Associates
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.”
“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
Drug companies and Schizophrenia:
Unbridled Capitalism meets Madness
Loren Mosher, Sharon Beder, Richard Gosden
Essential fatty acids: theoretical aspects and treatment implications for schizophrenia and depression Malcolm Peet
Prozac Approved by FDA same time FDA bans L-Tryptophan
What GSK really thinks about Paxil for children Page 5
Drug Makers Trolling for Infants and Toddlers
Evelyn Pringle 2006
Robert Whitaker Street Spirit Interview
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?
Magnesium and Inflammation – How many Americans are Magnesium Deficient?
Nutrition Systemic Inflammation and Depression
Thanks for comments David. As always extensive and with some great resources here.