Marijuana Causes “Schizophrenia-Like” Brain & Behavior Changes


Heavy pot users were found to have working-memory deficits and associated changes in brain morphology that were consistent with changes found in persons with schizophrenia diagnoses, according to a study published in Schizophrenia Bulletin. “The abuse of popular street drugs, such as marijuana, may have dangerous implications for young people who are developing or have developed mental disorders,” says Dr. John Csernansky, an author of the study.  “This paper is among the first to reveal that the use of marijuana may contribute to the changes in brain structure that have been associated with having schizophrenia.”

Abstract →

Smith, M., Cobia, D., Wang, L., Alpert, K.; Cannabis-Related Working Memory Deficits and Associated Subcortical Morphological Differences in Healthy Individuals and Schizophrenia Subjects. Schizophrenia Bulletin. Online December 15, 2013. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbt176

Of further interest:
Pot Smokers and Schizophrenic Patients May Share Similar Brain Changes (Time)
Heavy Usage of Marijuana Increases Chances of Schizophrenia, Leads to Abnormal Brain Development (Headlines & Global News)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I think this study should be interpreted with caution, because it’s more complex than they say. The brain differences commonly, but not always, seen in people diagnosed with “schizophrenia” are also commonly seen in people abused as children. And people abused as children are more likely to become heavy pot smokers. So much or all of the brain differences may be due to things like abuse and trauma, not the marijuana – it’s just not clear.

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    • Ron,

      You raise a good point, and I have heard/read that the majority of “mental illness” is the result of abuse or trauma.

      However, I hope one day we will develop an appreciation for the fact that *not all* “mental illness” is the result of abuse or trauma.

      IMO, there can be many root causes behind mental illness, including the use of alcohol, marijuana, illicit and prescription drugs:


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      • I agree with both Ron and Duane, BUT caution is indeed called for. I think a study in which a very small sample of but 10 heavy pot smokers (and one needs to define what exactly is meant by “heavy pot smokers” as well) who have undergone all sorts of fancy imaging (MRI, CRT etc) has little to say about any links between the long-term ingestion of psychoactive substances and schizophrenia (another term that sorely needs definition!!).
        If one looks back on the drug/mental illness research of the last century, one finds that researchers have been persistently trying, though without success, to find evidence that pot smoking is dangerous and damaging to individual health and behavior. And interestingly, it is psychiatric researchers that have then tried to define this as self-destructive behavior and therefore pathological in a psychiatric sense,thus requiring coercive intervention. Lest we forget what most drug researchers these days never learned, psychoactive substances have been used (and abused) by cultures (as well as other animals) throughout history. The late great drug researcher Norman Zinberg (who should be required reading for all young drug researchers) reminds us that factors like set, setting, dose, cultural acceptance and ritualization of drug use, etc., not to mention the biases of the observer, are much more important determinants of whether the ingestion of psychoactive substances may be termed pathological, socially acceptable or medically necessary. How else to explain that in America today, a child can be forced to take pills that most closely resemble cocaine (Ritalin or Methylphenidat) while an adolescent who ingests cocaine in any form may be prosecuted and incarcerated.
        And yes Duane, to narrowly reduce all mental distress and suffering (or behavioral diversity) to a notion of trauma is simplistic and disparaging.
        When confronted with mindless research like this, my first thought is to toke up and calm down before I get all hot and bothered!

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  2. Ron Unger is correct–many sources for error in this study; or, it appears so from the abstract. What is with having to pay for the full text? I’ve never seen such a link on MIA before, but perhaps I wasn’t paying attention due to being either stoned or schizophrenic at the time…

    Sharon Cretsinger, Whatever
    Founder, Director Kent Empowerment Center
    Kent, Ohio

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    Sorry that my 25 y/o son isn’t alive to help answer the skeptics about the link b/t cannabis and psychosis. My son with NO family history of severe MI, who didn’t start using cannabis until age 19, also sadly believed “pot is harmless, it’s a natural plant” as he told my husband and me the night of his 1st breakdown. Really? Why does the literature support cannabis is not so harmless on certain young brains <age 25? How many studies keep returning to this cannabis-psychosis link? The Canadians just published their 4 yr national study about this subject and toured the country to get out the word to its youth since 30% of h.s use pot. The Canadians have posted several videos about this link:!prettyPhoto/1/

    I lost my first-born to the effects from what cannabis did to his brain. Who wants to sacrifice the next son or daughter? As this plant has been genetically altered, how many of kids who experiment know the ratio of THC:CBD? Can't we educate our kids (yes, I did share the studies I found about this link after my son emerged from psychosis but his p-doc told him "a little pot never hurt anyone"). Really?

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    • “I lost my first-born to the effects from what cannabis did to his brain.”

      @ larmac,

      From my readings of many of your MIA comments, I come to a different conclusion, about your son’s fate.

      My conclusion is that you lost your son due to the fact that he was so terribly and totally traumatized, by the ‘mental health’ system — so badly stigmatized and ultimately horrified by his ‘treatment,’ in various facilities — eventually, he lost all hope, that he could ever find genuinely understanding help.

      He was left with no sense that he could ever find solace in this world.

      The guidance that he needed was never presented to him.

      In deed, from all that you say, it seems to me, he represents the classic case, of a bright young adult, struggling somewhat with the transition to adulthood, who was literally tortured by the ‘mental health’ system, to which he was repeatedly subjected.

      Yes, from all that you say, it’s probable that various situational stressors (including relationship difficulties, as a newlywed) and marijuana smoking led to his personal crisis, which would be identified as a ‘psychosis’ of sorts.

      But, most significantly (I think), are these details, which you offered (on September 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm), in your comment under Vanessa Krasinski’s MIA blog post titled, “The Temptation of Certainty: David Foster Wallace, Suicide and Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal”:

      After being hospitalized in a locked unit, my son was too afraid to share anything dark, again, especially when his psychologist and family believed the “system” was caring and compassionate. It was anything but. My son vowed he would never go back inside a psych hospital again. He would die first, and he did.

      Offering more details, in another MIA comment, you shared more recently (on November 5, 2013 at 12:29 am):

      My son refused any meds once he emerged back to “normal” and never had a day of depression anyone ever saw from the time he was just a baby. But inside that locked unit, massively drugged with multiple neuroleptics into a “drug stuporous state” confirmed by the staff notes, his thoughts turned dark, finally suicidal. Not a word of warning – how could we have known as my son wasn’t coherent when we visited him as he was just incredibly tragically drugged beyond. My son was admitted with no h/o self-harm, no suicidal thinking, no attempted suicide, never had any legal trouble…. this young man had so many successes and countless friends and a successful career… but the dominoe effect played out once he was locked away…

      (That is very telling commentary, I feel. And, note: I do believe that the celebrated writer, David Foster Wallace committed suicide as a result of lost hope. The ‘mental health’ system had finally provided him with ECT — “shock” — treatments, which must surely have had a crippling effect, on his writing skills. Likewise, they must have had such an effect on Ernest Hemingway, who also committed suicide shortly after receiving ECT.)

      And, in another comment, of yours (on on December 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm), you explain:

      I believe my son was hit with the perfect storm and he was too frightened to call any of us, fearing if he honestly shared his feelings, we would find yet a 3rd facility of horrors. Indeed, I found out after my son’s death, he had told the psychologist who was treating him before he moved away “Doc, I could never end up in one of those places again.”

      Reading that, it becomes quite obvious, to me, that cannabis was not the cause of your son’s death.

      And note: I recall that, in another comment, you describe your son having been physically brutalized by the staff, in his first “hospital” experience.

      So, truly, larmac, though you say here, in this comment (above) that, “I lost my first-born to the effects from what cannabis did to his brain,” I can’t possibly agree.

      I, myself, am no fan of cannabis; I smoked it a few times when I was quite young — and didn’t enjoy doing so…

      Hence, I do not smoke marijuana, and I know that today’s strains are much more potent than the strains, which existed, when I was a youth.

      I hope my own child will not smoke it; but, I can’t gaurantee that she never will…

      We can’t be sure that our kids will avoid such temptations. None of us can.

      And, the main thing is this…

      From all that you say, I don’t believe that your son’s death was caused by cannabis, at all.

      Really, my heart does go out to you — quite honestly.

      But, your son died from a loss of hope — due to his experiences of having been abused by the ‘mental health’ system.

      I will not argue further with you, and I do encourage you to continue commenting, as I feel it’s good for all of us to consider your story.

      My heart goes out to you, this holiday season…



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    • I wasn’t trying to say I knew for sure that marijuana has no link to causing psychosis, only that one should be cautious about assuming it caused the kind of brain changes being discussed in the article that started this conversation.

      I would say based on my own experience that smoking pot can definitely cause at least brief psychotic reactions in some people, because that happened to me in high school. I had a friend for a bit who really wanted to smoke pot every available opportunity, I did this with him for a few weeks, it built up to a point where I was hearing voices. I did figure it was the pot, I backed off on use, the voices quit, and I was fine.

      I do agree with Jonah that bad treatment by the mental health system can make things a lot worse, I was lucky enough to not have that problem. I also think it makes sense to discourage pot use in teens, but not to the extent of having a “drug war” about it, which damages a lot more people in other ways.

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      • There are studies that say the higher rate of psychosis found in people who smoke dope is probably due to trauma – ie heavy smokers are using the drug to try to deal with the fear generated from the horrid lives they have had.

        Trauma is not the only cause of extreme mental distress, but it is found in very high rates for people diagnosed with psychosis, and according to Richard Bentall and John Read there is a dose relationship – ie the more traumas people have experienced they more distressed they are likely to be (obvious really). But there are always people who do not have obvious traumas and still end up distressed.

        Backing off the drugs and finding the voices fading is perhaps what people who do not feel they need to use cannabis, for whatever reason. That was what a friend said to me, when people get strung out on dope give them a beer, let them sleep it off and pick them up in the morning.

        Over all it’s an area ripe for investigation, but by users of cannabis and their friends as well as, or instead of, psychiatric researchers (I don’t smoke by the way, my drug of choice is very expensive coffee and rather cheap tea).

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  4. This makes me think of “science’s” fetal brain damage theory, neuregulin 1.

    “The protein encoded by this gene was originally identified as a 44-kD glycoprotein that interacts with the NEU/ERBB2 receptor tyrosine kinase to increase its phosphorylation on tyrosine residues. This protein is a signaling protein that mediates cell-cell interactions and plays critical roles in the growth and development of multiple organ systems. It is known that an extraordinary variety of different isoforms are produced from this gene through alternative promoter usage and splicing. These isoforms are tissue-specifically expressed and differ significantly in their structure, and thereby these isoforms are classified into types I, II, III, IV, V and VI. The gene dysregulation has been linked to diseases such as cancer, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder”

    So does THC disrupt protein or isoform or something like that?

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  5. Jonah,
    First, I want to thank you for your kindness. As I have often expressed here with my MIA ” family” I believe the educ I immersed myself in has led me to the conclusions I express- from all I have read since, Oct 2009, date of my then 23 y/o son’s ( overnight) descent into madness and the night he confessed that he had been using cannabis( just about the only comment that evening that sounded ” normal” as his thinking was completely delusional, his hallucinations were horrific-absolutely the most frightening behavior my husband and I ever have ever witnessed in each of our 53 yrs on earth). We drove helplessly around with our son, in the backseat of our car, that night after picking him up from the medical center where the police took him after his newlywed wife and her mother called 911 because his behavior was so bizarre. That hospital with just a mental health tech on duty refused to admit our son, despite he sounded like an alien from outer space. At least by the time, we, his parents showed up at that first hosp, as the tech had called for a taxi in the wee hrs of the morning, our son gladly came with us. Long story short ( pls read more of my comments because I am an open book here at MIA) we finally got our son, several hrs later, into another psych hospital which (indeed, I will have guilt the rest of my life for believing the MH was a beacon of hope and compassion for a young person, in the throes of IMO a complete breakdown) was the help we desperately we’re seeking for him. And because that hospital, after my son was locked up, and chemically assaulted, plus beaten by the staff the night he entered for trying to escape( again, the most “normal” reaction any human being would have after being two secs in that hellhole), when he suffered his 2nd ” episode” 18 months later ( after returning to cannabis- the only substance on his toxicology reports each of the two hosp), I refused to consider putting him back in that 1st locked psych center, So, I researched the best drug rehab center in this area an hr away from where we live (also based on another family we met whose young son also had several ” episodes of psychosis” – also had been using cannabis- his positive experience in this drug rehab program getting off cannabis was the hope and help I believed my son needed) which had been positively assoc with a high profile p-doc and his “celebrity” clients. Just that this facility despite my behind the scenes effort with this drug rehab the day before my family helped finally convince my son to enter drug treatment, since he had gone back to using cannabis, he was deceptively tricked into moving to their locked unit. In spite of us driving an hour and half away from the first hosp18 months earlier where he had been so violated. How could two psych hosp/ drug rehabs, both, have not helped ( just made his psychosis go over the edge) my beautiful boy? This time, this facility put $15,000 on our credit card because I was gullible enough to believe the lies told to me by the Coordinator the day before, as I set up his admission for their drug rehab program.
    Sad, just yesterday, I finally got word from the the Dept of Pt Rights in the County where this drug rehab/psych center is since I had requested an investigation into how my son, who entered purely for drug rehab, and we gave our credit card ($15,000 was charged) to this drug rehab/psych center, plus the PPO ins my son had, they found no evidence that my son’s rights were violated!!! Really? Pls read past comments on MIA to realize that since my son’s medical records were not released by this hospital’s attorneys until AFTER the statue of limitations expired, the only recourse was to request an internal investigation from the Dept of Pt Rights. Interesting, the Dept of Pt Rights never contacted me once….how could they know fact from the blatant lies theoughout my son’s medical records unless they cared enough to search for the truth since I alleged so much of the violations include mistruths, ignorance from the p-doc who clearly did not know my son, his incorrect H& P, the stressors that led up to a 2nd break, and how these stressors( most definitely why using a psychoactive drug fuels some young brains into psychosis) were ignored. Violations run rampant thruout my son’s 170 pgs of the 13 dys he was locked inside, but because my son” voluntarily” entered for the drug rehab I, personally arranged, and gave our credit card since it was ” out of network” and the only way my son could be admitted was IF we, his parents, agreed to pay along with his PPO ins. But my son never got the drug rehab, we, his family guaranteed and promised him, based on the hrs of communication I had with the Coordinator the day before. Less than 24 hrs from being admitted, escorted by family, my son was whisked into their locked unit, deceptively…and the entire 13 days he was coerced ( the Dept of Pt Rights says no evidence) despite he immediately tried to pull the fire alarm once he realized he had been deceived into entering a locked unit, AWOL precautions put upon him and imagine the massive drugging now. The Dept of Pt Rights prefers to conclude my son’s behavior was psychotic instead of the truth, despite being in psychosis, he knew what locked psych centers inflict upon all that enter, so he tried to ESCAPE, pull the fire alarm!! Brilliant, wish every night we visited our son he had told us what was happening, but he was soooo drugged, didn’t hardly acknowledge us each visit, as I was begging for call backs and imploring the staff to have the p-doc contact us( and yes his HIPAA was waived from admission). These hospitals know the way to cash in on young people in an emotional crisis, drug ‘me into a stuporous state, ignore the pt and family pleas…provide worthless services, ignore cries/desperate pleas from both pt and family ( I know what my son faced and suffered since I have his medical records finally). This is the American MH system, but absolutely if my son had never ventured into a chemical substance that alters some young brains, I wouldn’t truly be begging society to just look at the evidence about the genetically altered marijuana plant.

    The point is if you read all my comments at MIA, I absolutely hold the tainted and flawed MH system fully accountable, too. BUT THE FACT IS (IMO) IF MY SON HAD NEVER TOUCHED THE PSYCHOACTIVE CANNABIS DRUG WHICH( IMO) FUELED YET A 2ND BREAK, THERE WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN TWO CATASTROPHIC ENCOUNTERS WITH THE MH SYSTEM. And without sharing too much of the personal last words my son left us, before he chose to end his life, one line is forever etched into my mind” my choices got me to this point”. I dare say, my son’s choices included using marijuana, the plant he assumed was ” harmless”. Really? Here is a review of how the use of cannabis, on his vulnerable brain ( though NO family h/o severe MI) along with the despicable MH system resulted in his catastrophic end. Yes, this story is murky, very complex but if he had never touched a mind-altering drug I believe my son would be alive and thriving today.
    Comment on Sandra Steingard Article Questioning Psych Meds Published in WaPo

    Maria, The info you shared is powerful. I was aware of the facts, such as the oxidative stress and mitichondrial damage from certain drugs. It’s one of the many reasons, once my son’s psychosis abated, I didn’t argue when he was determined ( and successfully did) wean himself off Depakote and Zypexa. Sadly, returning to using the same drug, cannabis, he was using at the time of his 1st break, it once again ( IMO) fueled a 2nd break. There was a 18 month window b/t psych breaks that this young man of mine seemed 100% ” normal” beyond any doubt. There is no question, in my mind, the very bi-products formed from psychotropic drugs must be similar to “recreational” drugs, like cannabis and other ones with psychoactive ingredients ( in those with vulnerable young brains< 25 yrs old) which harm the brain cells. Listening to the video (2009) with Dr. Gary Kohls is heartbreaking that if my family and I had not taken our son to the psych hospital, in the throes of his breakdown, good chance as in the 3rd world nations (without access to health care), he would likely have recovered, in time, from his FEP. This exact scenario happened to a client's cousin, twenty yrs ago. The family took the then 20+ y/o male, who had been substance abusing, to Mexico watching over his care in a one room shack where the cousin was given shelter, food, love and compassion NO meds, NO hospitalization. The family kept him out of harm's way, one month later his psychosis resolved. This man is alive, functional, and thriving decades later. My son made a grave mistake assuming the substance, cannabis, others around him did especially in todays culture of common pot use. But I still can't comprehend what I have learned since, and certainly the many studies about the psychosis-cannabis link, even in 2009 (which I was waving at the " experts") was ignored and denied. A functional young man, age 23, who had just married 2 months prior, with a hx of NO severe MI, would be boxed into a lifelong, genetic disorder of "bipolar for life, meds for life". I have never viewed society in the sad light I do now. How could my son have been so irreparably harmed? I never believed the lies he was told, not ever. I just couldn't put it together in time. I just hope p-docs like Sandra Steingard, who obviously care, are mad as hell now the truth is being exposed. Surely, with the knowledge available, how tainted the current MH system is, some influential souls couldn't empower like-minded politicians to divert MH funds into alternative ( more cost efficient – always a buzz word) models of mental health care? These alternative programs already exist in the U.S.
    Jonah, what I would give to be allowed a " do-over" knowing what I know now, but did not know then…..

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    • “what I would give to be allowed a “do-over” knowing what I know now, but did not know then…”

      @ larmac,

      In deed…

      Countless variations of that very same thought have crossed my mind, over the past nearly 28 years…

      For, it has now been that long (nearly three decades!), since I walked, with a stack of cheap plates, from the kitchen, in my parents’ house, went out into the backyard, and began ‘frisbeeing’ them — one by one — at their garage door.

      That act of delayed teenage rebellion (at age 21) began a terribly long night, of family and friends gathering, in my parents’ house, where I’d grown up…

      They all came with the one aim in mind — that of convincing me, that I was requiring the ‘help’ of a certain ‘doctor,’ who was on duty, at an ER, a few miles away…

      I was, by that point in my life, already extremely skeptical of psychiatry (to say the least), so all suggestions of seeing a ‘doctor’ were bound to strike me as untenable…

      At first, determined to resist such suggestions, my resistance would eventually wear down, when, at day-break, I finally concluded, that, in fact, I had no allies.

      I.e., by morning, after sleeping barely a couple of hours, I would allow myself to be driven to an Emergency Room, where I’d be formally introduced to medical-coercive psychiatry.

      That was so long ago…

      Yet, the memory stays with me, as though it was yesterday.

      And, since then, I have, countless times, replayed those scenes, in my mind — especially, the moment of my choosing to throw those plates, at my parents’ garage door… and the moment of my choosing to enter that ER.

      You wrote,

      …without sharing too much of the personal last words my son left us, before he chose to end his life, one line is forever etched into my mind “my choices got me to this point”. I dare say, my son’s choices included using marijuana, the plant he assumed was “harmless”.

      Well, it’s good that he was determined to take responsibility for his own choices.

      Here, you see, I am aiming to do the same, as I speak of having thrown those dishes at my parents’ garage door and having entered the ER.

      Those were my choices, and literally thousands of times, over the years, I’ve found myself deeply immersed in feelings of regretting them.

      Sometimes, I’ve been overwhelmed with regretting…

      I chose to throw those plates, and I chose to enter that ER.

      Many, many times I’ve recalled those scenes, pondering those choices.

      Had I not chosen to throw those plates, never would I have had my family and friends gathering for such an ‘intervention’; and, had I not chosen to enter that ER, never would I have come to experience medical-coercive psychiatry — at least not in the way I experienced it.

      (Entering the realm of psychiatry through an ER is exceedingly dangerous; I wish I had known the full extent of this, back then…)

      The latter choice (i.e., allowing myself to be taken to the ER, entering the ER) was a choice made under pressure, from family friends, as I say.

      But, it was my choice.

      It was derived from my feeling that, quite possibly, if I did not agree to go along, of my own accord, then I might soon be taken away, forcibly…

      Could I have been forcibly taken away, really?

      Actually, in retrospect, I believe that the most accurate answer to that question is: Well, yes, I could have, but much would have depended upon how I might have chosen, to react to any threats of that kind.

      I mean, hypothetically speaking, if I had been faced with the arrival of the police or a PET team (i.e, a mobile team of psychiatric workers, authorized to take someone away), I could have run away.

      Or, surely, I could have run away, at any time, prior to the arrival of such authorities…

      But, what would become of me, then?

      Probably, in that case, I’d wind up on the streets, as I was just 21 years old, I had little money in savings, and literally all of my family and friends were insisting I had to see a psychiatrist.

      (By the way, truly, when literally all ones friends and family are agreed that one of their own ‘needs’ to see a psychiatrist, then police will oblige, necessarily. They will see to it that s/he is delivered to one.)

      So, maybe I could have insisted upon choosing my own psychiatrist?

      I think that maybe that could possibly have been a smart way to go, all things considered. (Of course, hindsight is 20/20.) Hypothetically speaking, I could, possibly, have pleased one and all, by agreeing to see a psychiatrist, on the condition that they’d allow me the right to choose whom that psychiatrist would be.

      Hypothetically speaking, I think that my establishing rapport with a psychiatrist of my own choosing, might well have improved my chances of avoiding being forcibly ‘treated’.

      However, this was long before the advent of the Internet, so I don’t know how I would have found any ‘dissident’ psychiatrist (which is to say, one who would not view me as “mentally ill” and who would not strive to get me locked up and drugged up).

      Also, I was really worn out, by that ‘intervention’ of all those family member and friends, it allowed me to be convinced, that they had found a “very good man” — a “down-to-earth” guy — quite “human”.

      My intro to psychiatry (via that E.R.) was truly a night-mare.

      That man was well-meaning — but not at all interested in relating to me. He was just working to find a way to ‘justify’ ordering a ‘hold’ (i.e., at least a week or so of “hospitalization” for “observations and treatment”).

      In the course of ‘assessing’ me, he would pull a maneuver, which allowed him to totally fudge the truth, to create a claim, on paper, that I was supposedly “a danger” to myself.

      (Note: Essentially, he was doing what many psychiatrists do, which is bend the truth, to get someone “hospitalized”; but, I don’t believe he was an ‘evil’ person; I think he viewed me a ‘needing’ so-called “observation and treatment.”)

      From that point, forward (for months), I would be ‘medically treated’ against my will — and, in the most extraordinarily counter-productive ways; I cannot even begin to effectively encapsulate, in words, just how incredibly inane was the ‘treatment’ that I received.

      That particular ER psychiatrist would order me forcibly drugged, to be removed, by ambulance, to another “hospital” location.

      Even all these years later, hardly a day goes by that I don’t wind up pondering both the deliberate abuse and the ultimate idiocy of the ‘medical treatment’ I received there…

      And, emphatically, I remind myself (again and again), about the ‘treatment’ I received: It was not the worst ‘treatment’ that Psychiatry has to offer (not by a long shot).

      To be quite honest, all things considered, I got off easy, as compared to many others; truly, I know, things could have gone much worse for me…

      But, in every way, shape and form, the ‘treatment’ I received was literally opposite of good medicine.

      Even if/when I allow myself to forget about the effects of the ‘meds’ — even if/when I can momentarily put aside the recollections of having been forcibly drugged — to consider ‘only’ the stigmatizing effects (including but not limited to the various “diagnostic” labels) that came of my encounters, with psychiatry…

      My mind reels, to consider ‘only’ those effects.

      My friends would soon abandon me and go on to establish careers; my life, meanwhile, would suddenly go way far down the tubes; I’d wind up all but totally undermined by the ‘help’ of medical-coercive Psychiatry.

      I had been brainwashed into thinking of myself as “mentally ill” — and as “needing medications,” which were plainly crippling.

      Gratefully, I was able to extract myself completely from that nightmare — after just three and a half years!

      To be free of psychiatry (and, of course, free of psychiatric drugs) is purely a blessing, that I do not take for granted.

      It saddens me to be reminded that many young people (such as your son), do not ever find their way clear of such trauma…

      Thank you for sharing your story, as it helps me to realize the importance of telling my own story (as I have done, briefly, here).

      Really, it helps me to do this and realize all that I can be grateful for…

      It’s a cautionary tale, mainly, that I tell.

      Hopefully, it can shed some light for others.

      Certainly, you will help prevent many would be tragedies, by continuing to share the story of your son’s tragic fate.

      Again, I wish you the best, and my heart heart goes out to you…



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      • Jonah- I read your deeply moving account of what happened to you so long ago, close to the age my son was hospitalized. If he were alive, he would identify very closely with the forced drugging, the stigmatizing labels, the ” bad” medicine most definitely. Your stories have similar parallels.- your friends and his friends moved on with their lives…

        But as you know, somehow you broke free, 3 1/2 yrs later, indeed, so fortunate to be rid of Psychiatry. I guess I wonder how did you find the power, the strength to ” extract” yourself? I have wondered since my husband and I found our son 7 months after his second, and last psych hospitalization, where he never got the drug rehab I was guaranteed our son would receive if we, his family, convinced him to enter this facility. The coercion and way he was tricked to enter will haunt me forever. The admitting p-doc minimized the negative brain effects with my son’s return to cannabis which he tested + for, ignored the many stressors upon my son all the time this horrid p-doc was content to keep increasing his dosages of the multiples of drugs administered leaving my son in a drugged, stuporous state the longer he was deemed ” treatment resistive”. I honestly believed my son fought with everything he had spiritually to not let the drugging make him a zombie, until the many drugs used finally overcame him.

        Maybe, many decades ago when you were younger, the over drugging was bad, very bad then, but now from what I’m reading the poly-pharmacy used is even far more dangerous to today’s young brains whom Psychiatry’s desire is to control, at all costs. I’m honored to read the courageous battle you won, Jonah. You fought thru whatever internal battles caused your family and friends to stage that intervention, but then the emotional trauma inflicted upon you ( just like my son) was a nightmare which surely seemed to go on forever. I wish my son would have fought longer, reached out to us, who loved him beyond. I know he knew we would have gone to the ends of the earth, but something I believe overwhelmed his ability to see beyond the unbearable pain he must have felt to have taken his life. I will always believe this was an epic nightmare and if he had never touched pot, the healthy brain he had for the first 23 yrs of his life would have stayed that way. What young person could fathom using a ” recreational” drug that millions use commonly now, could lead to such a hellish encounter with such an evil, cruel MH system? But this is the truth, eventually the truth about how many young brains have been affected will surface.

        I’m so glad you are here to share how you made it You have a powerful story of survival to keep telling, Jonah.

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        • @ larmac,

          Thank you very much for your reply. I am moved, as I read it. You have asked me a question,

          I guess I wonder how did you find the power, the strength to “extract” yourself?

          I can tell you how I found that strength, and I would like to do so, but as it’s such an important question, and the answer is complex and may require more time and attention than I have, at moment, I’m not sure how well I’ll do here, answering…

          But, OK, here I’ll do my best, right now, by saying, to begin, about that:

          For one thing, I was extremely lucky to have been drawn in, to a lay Buddhist organization, which would give my life structure and a practice to help me focus — especially, focus on developing my own ‘buddha nature’ (“buddha nature” basically refers to ones ‘intrinsic enlightened nature’).

          I will avoid mentioning the name of the organization, as I would rather not seem as though offering it a plug.

          And, to be honest, I am not practicing with that organization anymore (that is a long story).

          Simply, I must emphasize: That organization would eventually provide a lot of opportunity for socialization with other members.

          Mostly, I kept my psychiatric ‘history’ a secret. There were only a few members who I ever told.

          And, I did feel a deep connection to that organization… because, a couple of years before I was ever formally introduced to it, I was introduced to its practice (of chanting “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” — which is the Chinese title of Buddhism’s “Lotus Sutra”).

          It was the day of the evening that I wound up smashing the plates in my parents’ backyard.

          It was just after having lunch, with a friend, that day…

          Some young people, driving by, in a car, pulled up beside me, as I was walking home, and they rolled down their windows and spoke to me briefly about their practice…

          Looking back, I wonder whether I might have seemed a bit spaced out, to them.

          I don’t know…

          But, just the night before, I’d experienced a totally unprecedented physical experience (years later, I’d find a book on ‘Kundalini and Psychosis’ — that would explain what happened).

          Afterward, I felt very calm…

          The next day (i.e., the day those young people drove up beside me), I was feeling good — and also a bit spaced out…

          I was not eating much at lunch.

          It was a lunch of ribs; and, though it was a very popular lunch spot, the food did not seem at all appealing to me.

          Though I had, over the course of a few years (during high school and my first years of college), developed a habit of stuffing myself, at least three times a day, to the gills, with food… Lately, I had not felt much desire to eat large meals.

          In fact, I was just snacking occasionally…

          That night, various people would remark on how I was losing a lot of weight (that was shortly after I’d broken all those plates); i.e., as everyone gathered in my parents’ house, to get me to go see the psychiatrist, some were concerned that I was looking gaunt.

          (Actually, for years I’d been gorging myself, and it was not a good thing to be doing. A couple of years after being forced onto psych ‘meds,’ I realized that, truly, I was not meant to weigh as much as all my friends and family thought I should weigh. Now I eat very well, and I weigh somewhat less than the weight at which I’d enter the ER.)

          Two years after my ordeals with psychiatry began, a young man from the same Buddhist organization as those young people in the car, approached me. It happened as I came out of a book store. I’d been browsing self-help books, including books on Zen Buddhism, which sort of interested me.

          He was not a Zen Buddhist, but I was willing to listen.

          I was already somewhat familiar with Buddhism — via reading the novel by Herman Hesse, Siddhartha, and by studying a bit of Buddhist art, in college.

          Emphatically, I must say: I did not think of myself as ‘a buddha,’ and I was not looking to join any organization; but, this young man insisted I was a buddha and that he was, too.

          And, he was strongly encouraging me to come to a meeting…

          I was entertained by his enthusiasm; and, in my own mind, I was somewhat relating my pre “hospitalization” experiences to the experiences of Siddhartha, as detailed in Hesse’s novel.

          (Siddhartha is portrayed in that novel, as a young man, searching for Truth.)

          I felt I could well relate to truth-seekers, and this young man in the parking lot was very philosophical.

          In fact, now I’m thinking: One person had previously suggested I was a buddha, sort of…

          I’d had a girlfriend in college who’d given me that Hesse novel, as she said I reminded her of Siddhartha! hahaha

          I am smiling as I think back on how flattering that was…

          But, reasonably speaking, that was absolutely key…

          I had been encouraged to think of myself as a buddha, by people who were expressing a genuine interest in my life…

          I am thinking now…

          It has been so long since I read that book, I don’t remember a whole lot about it, but I well recall how, as I did read through it, I felt a kinship with it’s main character; he was a friend, on a journey, to which I could relate.

          This young man in the parking lot also seemed like someone to whom I could relate.

          If I recall correctly, in the novel, there are two friends — young men — traveling together.

          The leading character (Siddhartha, the protagonist) sincerely desires nothing more than to know the Truth of existence; he cares to penetrate the superficial trappings, of his society’s culture, to somehow envision life anew, to find deeper truths, of life…

          That sort of striving was such an huge aspect of my own life, in my late teens and as I entered my early twenties — to the time I entered that ER, at age 21…

          (It seems to me, from you say of your son, he had that same seeking quality — a deep desire to be aligned with the Truth. Had that not been the case, I doubt he would have rebelled against his ‘treatment’ as he did; and, I doubt he would have moved away — indeed, to such a natural setting.)

          Also, quite connected to that striving and key to how I found the strength to break away from psychiatry, note: For a few years, prior to my initiation into the world of psychiatry (i.e., for roughly three or four years, leading up to the time that I’d wind up in an ER), I had been attempting to write a novel, in which the main character was a young psychiatrist, who was seeing through the non-sense of his fellow psychiatrists.

          This is really an utterly enormous point of fact, about me, that I should make clear, more often…

          I had put countless hours into those writings — including so many notes — all which could well have been considered ‘anti-psychiatry’ themes…

          So, you see, really, I have no doubt, I was preparing myself for a struggle with Psychiatry, for a number of years before my ordeals with psychiatry began.

          Thus, I was not only very deeply skeptical of Psychiatry by the point at which I entered the ER, I viewed myself as someone opposed to psychiatry; that was based on no knowledge whatsoever of the effects of psychiatric drugs.

          Rather, it was based on impressions made by films like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (which I saw in the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, as a young boy, when it first came out; it made an HUGE impression) and also “Frances,” which I saw when it first came out (I was in college then, and it also made an HUGE impact). Those films depicted ‘times past’ — effects of psychiatry’s ‘shock treatments’/ECT and psycho-surgery/lobotomy.

          I knew that those films were depicting a time past.

          Still, I had an understanding that the world’s most famous dissident psychiatrist, Thomas Szasz, who had famously called ‘mental illness’ a “myth,” was very much around and not giving up…

          And, I had a very strong sense that forensic psychiatry was/is a sham.

          I.e., when psychiatrists get involved in court cases, they will usually claim to know things that they cannot possibly know and tend to make a mess of things, generally.

          That was my very strong feeling, back then, based on some news clippings I’d keep always at hand, when I was in college, for background details, in writing my (unfinished) novel.

          (Note: these days, I think that, actually, some few psychiatrists do sometimes help in courtrooms — but, only if and when they’re sticking entirely to presentations of well established facts, peer-reviewed scientific facts.)

          So, you see, I knew nothing about psychiatric drugs prior to being forcibly injected with them; however, I knew I was devoted to knowing the unadorned truth of things; thus, I had no interest using in mind-altering substances…

          And, I was extremely skeptical of modern medicine.

          On that note, here I will first remind you…

          I mentioned to you (above), that: As I was standing in my parents’ backyard, ‘frisbeeing’ those plates, in an act of rebellion, I was envisioning myself as objecting to the outrageous dangers of the U.S./Soviet Cold War…

          Specifically, my concern was the on-going build-up of huge nuclear arsenals, tens of thousands of nuclear warheads, all poised to launch, on hair-trigger alert.

          I’d grown keenly aware of those dangers; but, there were other things, no less on my mind, simultaneously.


          Here’s something else that I was (back then, as I ‘frisbeed’ those plates) rebelling against…

          As I threw those plates, I was reminding myself of this fact, that: My mom had been damaged terribly by modern medicine (when I was quite young).

          She’d been ‘treated’ for an over-active thyroid with radioactive material.

          The intended effect of that ‘treatment’ (i.e. the would be effect of moderating her thyroid function) was not achieved. Instead, the ‘treatment’ killed of her thyroid entirely.

          She (and my father) had been forewarned, by her doctor, that such might happen; but, they’d also been assured by him, that, they shouldn’t worry, if it did happen, for supposedly thyroid replacement pills could easily remedy any eventual outcome.

          Supposedly, pills could fix whatever happened.

          (Quite honestly, upon writing that last sentence, directly above, I am shaking my head, in utter disgust — at the incredible hubris of doctors…)

          Her thyroid was killed off entirely, by that radioactive ‘treatment’ she received, and she wound up very severely affected, in deed.

          No way did thyroid replacement pills make everything good, in the end! No way. Not at all.

          The ‘medical treatment’ (the radioactive material), technically speaking, created condition of hypo-thyroidism — which would lead to a life-time of taking thyroid pills, necessarily; and, that would lead her to becoming quite disfigured — and very low-energy.

          Essentially, my mom would wind up with iatrogenic (medically induced) Grave’s disease…

          [See ‘Graves Disease’: ]

          The chronic low-energy she demonstrated, from that time forward, was the direct effect of losing her thyroid, to that ‘treatment’ with radioactive material.

          As a result, she wound up fairly depressed, throughout most of my childhood.

          This deeply affected not just my mom, but the entire family.

          To make a long story short: Through a great deal of introspection, at age 21, I’d come to realize that our whole family had been very deeply affect by my mom’s condition, which was created by bad medicine.

          (More accurately: it was not medicine, it was classic ‘medical’ quackery).

          My mom had been ‘treated’ with that radioactive material, as she’d initially been diagnosed with an over-active thyroid.

          And, surely, there are all kinds of ways to deal with an over-active thyroid holistically. Unfortunately, my parents were geared to trust the conventional ‘wisdom’ of doctors…

          Our whole family suffered, as a result; my mom was low energy and depressed; and, we all suffered, in various ways, as a result.

          For, my dad was not able to be around much of the time, he was working…

          My mom simply hadn’t the energy to deal well, with my sibling’s natural tendency to be rebellious (they were both adopted, and it is very common for adopted kids to have underlying anger, which requires addressing).

          I wound up becoming, to a considerable extent, my mom’s confidant and helper, when my dad was at work.

          My older brother was totally inclined to bully me (obviously, there was some jealousy his behavior, given that he was adopted, and I was not).

          He also constantly teased our younger sister.

          So, I did my best to protect her and keep out of my brother’s way.

          I came to be “the easy kid” (according to my mom’s description of me, in those times); never was I one to rebel, in any way, against my parents, at home, until the night I took up those plates, from the kitchen and…

          You know what happened, as I’ve already described!


          You see, here I’ve essentially come to suggesting, that the act of my throwing those plates was an act of rebellion against my parents; after all, to an extent, it was a rebellion against my whole family’s passive acceptance of my mother’s fate — her iatrogenic disease. Why hadn’t anyone ever objected to that? (Even to this day, I don’t know why no one ever did object.)

          But, more than anything, I was rebelling at the ‘grown up’ world (the world of adults) generally.

          The world my generation was inheriting seemed extremely messed up, and I was venting.

          And, note the rather profound tie-in, between, on the one hand, my feelings about the build-up of nuclear weapons… and, on the other hand, my growing recognition that bad ‘medicine’ which my mom received, had, in fact, been radio-active…

          I cannot possibly over-state how powerful was my then-growing sense, at age 21, of how that small bit of radioactive material had affected our entire family!

          Well, I have gone on and on…

          I will leave off now.

          [P.S. — NOTE: I was going to sign off there, but I kept writing, as you can see…]

          Thank you, larmac, for prompting me to write all this.

          Of course, you weren’t asking for all that I’ve offered here; but, it must be good for me to be offering what I’ve offered…

          These personal accounts might have some value for others, I suppose.

          But, also, it’s good for me to just express them…

          After all, in all the three and half years, that I was being ‘treated’ by psychiatry, no one ever asked me why I’d thrown those dishes.

          I was refused any therapy for months; I begged to speak with a therapist (any therapist); but, those in charge of my “inpatient hospitalization” refused to offer me any therapy.

          Many years later, not long before she died, my mom explained to me the reason: “They told us that a person can’t have therapy if he’s still insane; first they had to seal the patient.”

          ‘Sealing the patient’ meant keeping the captive
          “inpatient” of Psychiatry totally drugged, into a drooling stupor… for months.

          So, about your saying…

          Maybe, many decades ago when you were younger, the over drugging was bad, very bad then, but now from what I’m reading the poly-pharmacy used is even far more dangerous to today’s young brains whom Psychiatry’s desire is to control, at all costs.

          No, from all you describe of your son’s experiences, I get a strong sense that the psychiatric ‘treatment’ I received was quite similar to that which he received.

          I was at last being prescribed every class of psychotropic drug simultaneously.

          And, like your son, I was “re-hospitalized” (for me, that came exactly two years after my first period of “hospitalization”); I’d been “re-hospitalized” essentially for tossing my ‘meds’ down the toilet.

          I’d told a relative, in confidence, that the ‘meds’ had been destroying my creativity and that I felt I’d wind up killing myself if I had to stay on them any longer.

          With the best of intents, he reported that to my parents, and they reported it to my psychiatrist.

          I would be forced back onto ‘meds’ (more meds than ever) — then let out of the “hospital”.

          Shortly after that, again I’d throw out the ‘meds’ and again be “re-hospitalized.”

          Finally, I realized it would be imperative for me to separate myself from my family (for at least a number of months).

          By that point, I was living on monthly government/SSI checks.

          (I’d been taken to the Social Security office, to sign up for them, not long after getting out of my initial period of “hospitalization”.)

          (Of course, that’s what usually happens to young people, in this country, who wind up labeled and drugged, by psychiatry, as I had been.)

          Strangely, the act of cashing those checks became so easy, despite my hating myself for accepting that “mentally ill” identity, which was foisted upon me! — and despite my knowing that receiving those checks implied that I believed I was “mentally ill”!

          I had to end the inner conflict created by my dependence on those checks…

          So, I determined to cut off that source of income…

          I would immediately get a full-time job to support myself.

          That is to say, after getting out of the “hospital” again, I decided to say goodbye to psychiatry and its ‘meds’ forever — and say goodbye to SSI — by assuming full responsibility for myself.

          Here, again, I am shaking my head — but, this time in positive wonderment…

          Honestly, it’s extremely fortunate that I was already so skeptical of psychiatry, prior to meeting up with psychiatry…

          Along those lines (as I mentioned to you, above, that the protagonist in my unfinished novel was a young psychiatrist), here, I’ll add, furthermore: From the time I began outlining my attempted novel, I always knew its protagonist would eventually quit being psychiatrist — that he’d wind up walking away from it, and that would be the end of the story…



          I have gone on and on…

          Again, thank you for prompting all this (I know you didn’t intend to prompt so many words, but thanks).

          You, too, keep writing about your experiences…

          I trust that each year, moving forward, will get better for you…

          Be well…



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          • P.S. — @ larmac,

            Eight or nine hours have passed since I posted my comment (directly above); and, upon returning to it now, to review what I wrote, I see it’s way too many words and not well focused.

            Sorry for that!

            Really, it’s diffuse writing — the kind I do sometimes for myself, just to clear my head — not to post or publish or send…

            Also, I see I made a concession to forensic psychiatry, that is not exactly clear (am feeling I should have avoided going there).

            The fact is that anyone can misuse facts — even and especially facts found in ‘scientific’ peer-reviewed studies.

            I regret having posted it.

            Oh well.

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          • “The intended effect of that ‘treatment’ (i.e. the would be effect of moderating her thyroid function) was not achieved. Instead, the ‘treatment’ killed of her thyroid entirely.”

            Harrowing and sorrow.


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          • mjk,
            Thank you for your simple, clear and pointed way of acknowledging those lines. It means a great deal to me, to know that my mom’s quiet grief (and, my grief, too — that was once expressed, in such a counter-productive way) regarding her having been so damaged, by conventional medicine, is finally being acknowledged.
            Respectfully, J.

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        • I’ve seen this before. Probably if it wasn’t marijuana there would have been another stressor that produced the same result. The most likely explanation is some kind of emotional dysfunction in which case growth-oriented psychotherapy could have cured the basic condition that made him susceptible to marijuana.
          When I was a schizophrenic I could not handle marijuana all.
          How did your son deal with anger? Was he able to use it well and deal well with the expression if it from others. This is the usual sensitivity.
          A good healthy focus of anger makes a person very strong and nothing makes the person more susceptible to “symptoms than fear and anxiety about experiencing one’s own anger.
          Bio-med ideology teaches the exact opposite to this paradigm.

          If genuine psychotherapy were funded once again , it would put most of psychiatry out of business. This is why psychiatrists are so adamant about rejecting psychoterepy for the level (4 ?) conditions and refuse to investigate it.They also convinced the insurance companies not to fund psychotherapy.
          But they do fund a version of psychotherapy which they have renamed or dubbed “talk-therapy” and other kinds of such groups which are actually support groups to encourage drug or social control compliance.
          Now if you had searched for help 40 years ago, Lamarc , in my era, you might have even found psychiatrists practicing genuine psychotherapy like I did, and you would have had a much better chance for your son.
          But I read your story – you searched and just found vacant eyed or incompetent psychologists who pointed you to psychiatric hospitals. It’s all about the money. I myself decided not to go into psychotherapy after I was cured because I thought to myself “Who wants to be poor”?

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  6. Most stoners act like narcissistic a-holes alot of the time and I think that has something to do with the paranoia smoking weed causes giving the user the illusion they are the center of attention and so very important.

    Pots effect of making music sound cool is alright but drinking beer and or taking Adderal is a much better way to get high, in fact I don’t even think the effect of marijuana should be called a “high”, stoned is a good description.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if making oneself paranoid by smoking weed over and over year in year out Causes “Schizophrenia-Like” Brain & Behavior Changes.

    I have seen it do that to people, a relative actually.

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  7. Jonah-it’s now officially Christmas Eve. But I want to truly say your writing, while possibly very cathartic for you, decades later after the HELL you endured within the sick MH system that apparently has been pathetic all along, is just beautifully expressed. I wonder if you would ever consider writing your experiences in a diary of sorts? I think the way you can express what happened to you, as I imagine so many young people could relate to what you’re feelings as you approached adulthood back then. You so can know understand how the health issues your mom battled, and sadly the wrongs that medical care can inflict at times on us, could help other young people who suffer equal trauma and stresses in their lives. I have read other bloggers who share my opinion about the way you write, Jonah. Honestly, I hope, in time, you realize how much people, like me, benefit from the experiences of what you have written.

    I also wonder if you have read or know anything about one of our MIA bloggers, Sean Blackwell? You can read his experiences, which very much involved Buddhist philosophy, as I recall from what I read about him, in his videos bipolarORwakingUP. I found his videos about the similar emotional experiences you also describe, as what my son went thru. I think you might find his work and videos of interest. One of my deepest regrets (and I have many) I didn’t share any of the videos in 2011 that I found on YouTube with my son. Sadly, I was so desperate to help my son, and willing to go against my own inner voice that has always guided me along. I listened to a old family friend/long-time revered psychologist who told me I must say little to my son, keep quiet and more demure. So, I felt I deserved an Academy Award for the less I would engage with my son as he was coming out of psychosis. Even when he told me he believed (after the 1st hospitalization) when he actually was given some drug rehab/emotional help “group therapy” that sometimes these experiences are “enlightening”. My son really seemed to believe his existential thinking was a positive and shouldn’t be seen in such negative ways as we, his family, and the p-docs were saying. I was just so upset because while still in that altered mental state (10 wks duration) he talked about wanting to do other drugs…. by then I had immersed myself in the studies, over the last 30 yrs, about the cannabis-psychosis link since he admitted to using marijuana, increasingly, after his boating accident earlier in the year while he was in physical therapy for many months. I read that any mind-altering drug (and eventually he confessed once out of the locked unit) he had taken some other mind-altering drugs shortly before his “break” which did not show up on the toxicology report (and of course all his friends, and newlywed wife, who visited each night while he was on the locked unit, never bothered to confess what else they knew about my son’s drug use which definitely could have helped him not be boxed into the label “bipolar” especially with FEP). But young people stay silent at that age:( I was so worried my son might act on his impulse that this altered mental state was “so enlightening” so I did finally sit down with my son and his wife and shared the research on the link which was extensive even in ’09. But the literature search I shared was no match for my son’s out-pt p-doc, who now I believe fully knew about the cannabis-psychosis link, for some young brains is a catalyst. But why educate this young man, why acknowledge his mother’s concerns about this link, just brainwash all of us that he was mentally ill for life, and soothe his fears ” a little marijuana never hurt anyone” to a young man who had already suffered some form of a severe emotional crisis. I don’t know what or if you ever used any chemical at the age you had this extreme state, but the point I feel now is the MH industry must make an obligation to give every young person the opportunity to know (if they use any chemicals how it may alter their brain chemistry) and most importantly, how many people do suffer some similar extreme state in a lifetime. Help, hope and recovery should be the theme of the alternative model of MH care (IMO).

    I think Jonah your thinking was exactly my son’s thinking but what started out as an experience that Sean Blackwell explains changed his life around, sadly my son wasn’t led into any Buddhist type of lifestyle. I did read that meditation, yoga- these alternative holistic approaches are very healing. But the time moved quickly between the 18 months before his brain spun out again. I just never believed it would ever happen again, since my son was just such a healthy, down-to-earth, well loved human being. Trust me, I was not a perfect mother and he would be the first to remind me he was fallible. But I thought he was so on his way to a successful, meaningful, full life as he was just starting to reach for the stars at age 23 when out of nowhere, his life unraveled. ( Who knows if/how much his bad knee injury, earlier in ’09, was a factor but we thought he was healing and recovering). Again, when a young person encounters, virtually, overnight ” a sea of stressors” including the marriage when he never shared that all summer he kept asking her to postpone it until his knee injury was completely recovered. If only, he would have told us. I was the one that sat both of them down after his injury, before surgery, and highly suggested they postpone the wedding but my son sat there mute while that young woman made me feel I was meddling in their affairs, that it was not my business.

    I think I see how you found that strength, Jonah. I believe it may have saved your life. I, too, thought my son’s request to return to nature and in a place of such beauty (even when he was married his wife told me my son wanted to move them up there) to start “anew” was healthy. His psychologist also gave the thumbs up approval. It’s absolutely impossible that my son ended his life in our family cabin that held so many years of wonderful memories. How he could have so carefully planned his exit (and he did to the last detail) while not crying out for help to anyone, just seems impossible even two years later. My son joined AA as I mentioned, never touched a substance since moving there (his tox report was clear) and he had weaned himself off the anti-anxiety and mood-stablizing meds about the time he moved away (the p-doc actually took him off the antipsychotic med immediately after he was released which boggled my mind considering he was still in an altered state, but started to vastly improve after the hospital “dumped” my son (before he got a day of drug rehab) by just being home with his parents (since his young wife left him during the 2nd hospitalization which he didn’t know about until he came back home). Sometimes, as I repeat this story, it’s hard to fathom how one young man could have been leveled in so many ways, simultaneously.

    As I read about the same drugged, stuporous state you and my son both experienced, and all the horrific side effects you had Jonah- same ones my son had- just sooooo damn sad, and sooooooo wrong and disgusting why human beings are treated this way. My son got off his meds within a couple of months, moved away with the meds available if he needed them (but he hated their effects and quite honestly I never witnessed any benefit when he took them, just the opposite). So why did my son not survive when you did, Jonah? Was it the Buddhist practices of inner peace and serenity as opposed to AA’s intense introspection of one’s actions? Was it just pure loneliness as this young man had always centered himself all his life around friends and family? I just will never understand because if ever a person understood the effects suicide cause, it was my son. And that is why the answer he always gave everyone that ever asked if he could ever take his life, immediately and without blinking an eye “I could never do that to my family” and we truly believed him………… But I know from what he wrote in that sad, good-bye note hurting his family was not why he chose this exit. There was something so profound that took him to a place in his soul ” I can’t go on anymore”. My son took the factors behind that statement with him.

    I know you seem to relate to my son’s loss more than almost anyone I have met. I thank you for sharing such a part of your journey, just hope it hasn’t opened up deep wounds. I can see as I go further in my grief journey, I need to protect myself, too. I am just truly grateful for letting me understand the insights what led you where you went. I wish my son had met something that would have anchored him because as a mother or parent, you have such innate instincts. And my instincts told me this young man was so strong, so loved and loved so many people in his young life- never will I come to accept what happened. I simply believe something far stronger than the forces on earth took him from me, from a family that is forever wounded. We truly lost a part of ourselves.

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    • @ larmac,

      Thank you very much for your reply. Right now, I haven’t time to respond, except to say that I deeply appreciate your sharing with me.

      I do care to reflect a bit more on what you’ve posted, and I will reply further. I will post again (later today or some time tomorrow), to respond to a couple of points you’re making.

      Right now, I will just wish you the best on this Christmas Eve and say that I feel your son’s story is very important. He is very much alive in my thoughts, by way of your relaying his experiences and yours; by sharing what you’re sharing, you are having powerful positive affect on people, as is he. Most certainly.

      As it is now the morning of Christmas Eve, I need to do a bit of last minute shopping, gift wrapping, etc..

      Here I leave you with a very moving 15 minute Youtube that was posted just a few days ago. (I highly recommend it to anyone who has experienced the untimely loss of a loved one — but, especially, to those who may mistakenly imagine that the loss is somehow meaningless.)

      [Brenda Schmitz’s Christmas Wish]


      Wishing you and yours many Christmas blessings…



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    • @ larmac,

      It’s early Christmas morning, and here I am rereading your last reply (that of December 24, 2013 at 4:03 am).

      Mainly, I must thank you for kindly encouraging me to write, suggesting my writing can help others — and, in particular, young people.

      In the not too distant past, I was someone who wanted to be a professional writer…

      I had been wanting to do that, ever since I first entered college, but that writing, which I was doing, was a bit different, from writing about deeply personal issues.

      My attempts to write a novel, then, were spurred largely by my desire to speak to others my age, about the insanity of the Cold War.

      I was using the young psychiatrist/protagonist (who would finally leave psychiatry) as a vehicle, to speak to young people, my age, at that time, who might have felt equally disturbed by the nuclear threat — that ever-present Sword of Damocles, which seemed hanging over all of our heads.

      But, then came my three and half years of ‘treatment’ by psychiatry, which coincided precisely with the end of the Cold War.

      In fact, that initial crisis, of mine, which was marked by my Kundalini experience (and then, the next evening, by my smashing those plates…), was occurring at precisely the point when the initial signs of the Cold War’s end were first becoming evident; I well recall, upon first being “hospitalized,” standing in a ‘community’ room, on the locked ward, watching the TV news reports, of a non-violent revolution taking place, in the Philippines.

      It was the end of the dictatorship, of Ferdinand Marcos.

      Miraculously, it was a non-violent revolution.

      That would become a catalyst for further non-violent revolutions, including, a few years later, the fall of the Berlin Wall.

      Hence, psychiatric ‘treatment’ began, for me, at literally the moment, which, now, looking back, many historians explain, was the turning point, in World History, which led to the end of the Cold War; the Soviet Union was in its death throes.

      And, at precisely the time I was putting psychiatry and its ‘meds’ forever behind me, the Cold War was ending entirely; just months after I swallowed the last pills, the Berlin Wall would come down.

      I believe that, to a considerable extent, I was ‘channeling’ those events, in my personal struggles, at those times.

      But, psychiatry did such a great job of convincing me of the insignificance of my personal struggles.

      And, in recent years, I’ve seen so much material on the Internet, I’ve come to feel that there’s nothing I can say that isn’t already being said by others — and far better than I could say it.

      I’ve grown weary, of reading my own writing.

      So, what you say is validating (and, especially so, as you indicated that you’ve spoken with other bloggers, and they agree; I am surprised to read that).

      You say,

      I think the way you can express what happened to you, as I imagine so many young people could relate to what you’re feelings as you approached adulthood back then. You so can know understand how the health issues your mom battled, and sadly the wrongs that medical care can inflict at times on us, could help other young people who suffer equal trauma and stresses in their lives.

      It’s good for me to read that, because I’ve always felt very much alone with certain issues — e.g., particularly the issue of what modern ‘medicine’ did to my mom.

      I thank you for encouraging me that way; even as I continue to be unsure of what good my writing can do, I know that many (or most) people who write, even the best writers, have similar doubts.

      larmac, there are other things I care to say, in response to your latest comment — but will let those issues, all regarding the miseries of psychiatry, rest for today…

      I will post again (that will be sometime tomorrow or the next day). Thank you again for your kind encouragements…

      Merry Christmas, to You and Yours…



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  8. Jonah-thank you for all the good wishes at Christmas. We did have a good holiday celebrating with family and friends, I started, hopefully, a tradition in honor of my son. I felt sad at Thanksgiving, no one mentioned my son’s absence to me. So, Christmas brunch was at my home and I got a tabletop tree ( beside the main tree) just specifically to put my son’s special ornaments over the years as a baby to teen he was given. I asked my youngest son, whether he wanted to have his special ornaments on the same tree, or not. My son had no objections so I moved all the family name ornaments to the tabletop tree. Before brunch began, I asked all family gathered to take 30 seconds to recall a happy memory with Shane. Shane lived for 25 yrs so we have many, many joyous times with him. I think it made everyone reflect back in a + way. My Dad, now age 87, normally very stoic, quite the unemotional type, actually later shared he lives with such regret that it was he, being Shane’s grandfather, who was the one who finally convinced his grandson to enter that hospital in 2011 when Shane’s brain started to spin out. Dad said, ” I told Shane this hospital was the Cadillac of hospitals”. It haunts me, how wrong I was and how Shane was so wronged by going there”. My Dad had been the only one who could persuade my son to enter the drug rehab program promised to me that he would receive, the day before my father and brother met Shane. Because he so trusted his uncle and grandfather, he reluctantly did allow himself to be admitted. How sad my aging father lives with this guilt because it was I who had searched for supposedly the best drug treatment hospital to take my son. But after my husband and I had been the ones to take him in Oct.2009, the night of his first breakdown (when he confessed he’d been using cannabis) to the first psych hospital where he was beaten by the staff once he volunteered to go inside, and my husband and I were ordered to leave our son. Of course my son didn’t trust his parents since the 10 days inside that locked unit were, indeed, the most hellish days of his young life. Imagine, researching 18 months later, to steer as far away from the first hosp to find this other hosp, an hour away, specifically known for it’s drug rehab program. I asked Shane’s uncle and grandfather to help us get him to this place believing the lies the Coordinator had told me the day before, when I made the arrangements for my son to be admitted.

    As I re-read your post on Christmas Eve, you wrote ” all regarding the miseries of psychiatry” absolutely, the perfect words to express the shameful treatment for 3 1/2 yrs you received. It was only 27 months from the start of Shane’s mind spinning out, literally overnight, Oct ’09 to Jan ’12 when my husband and I found our son dead. How in 27 months a life that was so bright, with endless potential, could be lost as I look back- truly- it seems impossible. My son’s two psych hospitalizations, and the out-pt psychiatry sessions with more brainwashing that he had this MI, for life, meds for life proved too overwhelming. .For this young man who had been admired his entire life because he was such a bright light, so fun-loving, generous, and with the biggest heart. People always wanted to be around him, from the time he was just a tot. As my son grew up, I admired so many of his characteristics because he pushed the boundaries and I believed had more successes in his young life than so many others his age. There were always compliments on his manners, the ease he had talking to his friend’s parents, and kids adored my son. I knew, one day, what an exceptional father he would become. In all the friends my son had, I absolutely believe my son was the most grounded and well-rounded. How did his life unravel so fast, and so deadly? I now believe, without a shadow of doubt, if either psych hospital, or the “experts” (p-docs) had bothered to get a full history, interview his parents ( my husband and me) who were pleading for help each night we visited our son and saw how worse he was getting as these centers just massively drugged him. IF they could have cared enough to look at the whole picture instead of box him into this MI label, IF they had educated themselves, as I surely have now, the answers why a healthy young man ( no hx of any severe MI in his family) was on my son’s toxicology report, + for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The answers were in the hands of the ” professionals” yet ignored, both times. Me, his mom, even asking, questioning them ( both hospitalizations) the research I had found about the cannabis/psychosis link. It was clearly known, especially in other countries, that are far ahead of the U.S. in educating its youth to the dangers some young brains < age 25 are suffering these psychotic " episodes" which mimic mental illness symptoms. Just read a Fact Sheet the Australians posted explaining the terminology given when the symptoms my son experienced as he was having were from the drug withdrawal. Even explains why the psychotic symptoms from this drug manifest even stronger than a person who has not been using a chemical substance and experiences a breakdown. My son who was specifically taken to this hospital in 2011,supposedly known for its drug rehab program, the very program my son was denied, could and should have been given meds to help him sleep, along with anti-anxiety meds as he was clearly exhibiting symptoms of drug withdrawal from cannabis ( yes, these symptoms are happening to one young brains like my son) instead was not given a dy of rehab, but coerced into their locked unit, held for 13 dys against his will, labeled, forcibly assaulted- chemically- with massive dosages of multiple neuroleptics, brainwashed he was mentally ill for life instead of being educated the drug, cannabis, had spun his brain out and in 10 wks ( exactly what it took each of the two times my son went into this state of psychosis) the lipophilic THC molecules would finally clear from his body which it did, both times and his brain returned to " normal". As I discover the truth, gather more and more facts about these mental changes to certain young brains across the globe, it haunts me the truth was withheld from my son….and lies from the tainted , broken MH system claimed my son. As I go forward, hearing my father, and brother( who feels equally guilty) how the very system we turned to seeking proper help and treatment my son so desperately needed was denied him, there must be consequences for this system. And I intend to pursue how to seek justice for the wrongs that resulted in the death of a young man who should have been been educated what really was the root of his two breakdowns, and how his life would re-normalize and why he did not have a MI, rather how drugs, including cannabis- especially cannabis- to his brain mimic these symptoms. Imagine, if my son had been given HOPE and the TRUTH instead of how he was labeled, drugged, warehoused, brainwashed then " dumped"by this hospital after his PPO ins and the thousands of dollars, we agreed to pay initially (for the drug rehab he never received) released him from a locked unit, soooooooooo far worse than how he entered. Sometimes, Jonah, as the pieces of my son's puzzle begin to finally fit together, it is almost too much pain for me. But I vow in my son's memory, and how he lived life to its fullest, until it unraveled in just 27 months, to expose the truths I now know.

    And you have such a talent for expressing yourself, understanding what the 3 1/2 yrs of hell you suffered from psychiatry continues to do to the others, like my young son. It was very hard to hear, what I already knew in my heart but verified from the consultant p-doc ( who I intentionally hired out of state to be sure there were no ties to this hosp chain) who after spending hours reviewing my son's 170 pg medical chart " I'm afraid Shane's treatment was terribly abusive. I'm so sorry he entered this hospital as I tell all my clients, and their family, the worst place anyone suffering a severe emotional crisis can enter is a psych hospital. The outcomes are just so poor". OMG, a licensed, independent psychiatrist understands this about the industry he works in. The tragedy from the despicable MH system to the ignorance, and denial, how the cannabis drug( especially with the pro cannabis zealots, not to mention the multi- billion dollar pro-cannabis lobby licking its chops with the relaxed view the public naively has about this drug which is NOT the same drug of the '60s, '70s, '80s) is now the most used illicit drug in the U.S., Canada, Australia, NZ, England…. But I'm not deterred Jonah, the truth ultimately will prevail- I've always believed the truth will shine through.

    Hope Christmas for you and your family was peaceful. I so agree anyone, such as yourself, who made it into and out of the MH system, and realize the evils within this industry, must share their stories. You overcame the atrocities that my son succumbed to. Surely, with alternative programs scattered throughout the U.S. the fact there are so much better, less costly, and most importantly, compassionate and healing ways to treat someone in the throes of mental anguish. Whether it be to help them understand the root causes, and if factors like my son's " recreational" use of a mind-altering drug helped fuel his brain into such a chaotic state then provide that education these young people need. It's intriguing to view the Canadian website with its artsy way to try to connect with it's youth about the concerns mentally some are experiencing from using cannabis. Bless the Canadian government for this dialogue intended to reach this young generation, just be aware- .

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    • “Bless the Canadian government for this dialogue intended to reach this young generation, just be aware-”

      @ larmac,

      I deeply appreciate your reply.

      It’s good to read that you were able to honor your son’s life in a positive way, at Christmastime.

      This evening, we have an out-of-town guest coming in, so I’m taking care of last minute preparations and haven’t much time here, now, for writing a reply.

      However, within the next few days, I will surely respond to various points made in your earlier comment and to points made in this, your latest comment (directly above).

      Right now, I will only respond briefly, to your final point (which, you can see, I’ve put in italics).

      larmac, The Canadian government is not responsible for that website, which you’re recommending.

      That website is a creation of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada (which is a private foundation). One can see that it’s a product of that foundation, by reading the small print, at the bottom of the web page you’re recommending.

      That web page is a product of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada…

      And, of course, in itself, that’s no reason to dismiss the web page you’re recommending; in fact, here I will offer no feedback whatsoever, on my sense of that web page; however, I will say that, I find the “schizophrenia” label to be a terribly damaging label.

      And, frankly, I do not care for that organization’s overall message.

      From taking a quick look at their FAQ page, it becomes quite clear, that they are in complete denial of this fact, that: a large proportion of people who receive a “schizophrenia diagnosis” have experienced severe abuse, as children.

      Here is a clip from ScienceDaily report (dated April of last year),

      Childhood Trauma Linked to Schizophrenia

      Apr. 19, 2012 — Researchers at the University have found that children who experience severe trauma are three times as likely to develop schizophrenia in later life.

      The findings shed new light on the debate about the importance of genetic and environmental triggers of psychotic disorders. For many years research in mental health has focused on the biological factors behind conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychotic depression, but there is now increasing evidence to suggest these conditions cannot be fully understood without first looking at the life experiences of individual patients.

      Actually, that did not come as ‘news’ to many people.

      And, of course, reading that ‘news,’ we needn’t conclude that every instance of whatever is called “schizophrenia” reflects issues derived from child abuse.

      But, IMHO, it’s very important to realize, that child abuse is a significant precipitating factor, in a large (very significant) proportion of cases, of what is called “schizophrenia”; all kinds of child abuse is — as is bullying from peers.

      These are often causative factors, of what winds up being called “schizophrenia”.

      Meanwhile, see how the Schizophrenia Society of Canada answers the question, “What causes schizophrenia?”

      The precise cause of schizophrenia remains unknown. Changes in key brain functions, such as perception, emotions, and behaviour, indicate that the brain is the biological site of schizophrenia. Some researchers suspect neurotransmitters (the substances through which cells communicate) may be involved. There may be changes in dopamine, serotonin, or other neurotransmitters. The limbic system (an area of the brain involved with emotion), the thalamus (which coordinates outgoing messages), and several other brain regions may also be affected.

      (That’s all they say — nothing more; and, that’s truly a shame, IMHO.)

      I will offer more reflections on your comments, when time permits.

      Thank you again, larmac. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to engage with you, in this ongoing dialogue…



      P.S. — In regards to ‘treatment’ of people deemed “mentally ill,” generally speaking, the Canadian government is not worthy of praise, IMHO.

      See the following article…

      1 in 4 mental health patients controlled with drugs, restraints

      The Canadian Press
      Published Tuesday, August 23, 2011 8:18PM EDT

      TORONTO – Despite being intended as procedures of last resort, a significant proportion of patients admitted to mental health beds in Ontario are subjected to behavioural control measures such as physical restraints, medications and seclusion, a study has found.

      Read more:

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  9. Jonah-over the last month I have spent many hours surfing the SSC webpage, which in my haste earlier today, admit I failed to recognize who it was created by. However, guess who funded this 3 yr grant?

    The Cannabis and Psychosis project is a national project of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada funded by the Drug Strategy Initiatives Fund of Health Canada.
 The aim of the project is to increase awareness and understanding of the relationship between cannabis use and psychosis from the perspective of youth.

    And yes, I am quite aware that childhood trauma is linked to schizophrenia later in life, but there has to be a myriad of other factors behind developing psychosis. And one is environmental use of drugs

    I will next week look for your email which I saw on some blog. I would like you to see my son’s video, honored if you would view it actually. Two of my son’s friends created a YouTube pg last yr in what should have been his 26th b-day. It is such a precious look back at my son’s life, from early on until just before he died. It’s just a snapshot of his young life, but it tells a story that speaks for itself.

    And yes, there was a sad incident that occurred in my son’s life, just prior to his 13th b-day which effected all of my husband’s family. I do agree it left a scar in my son, emotionally. But I believe it was the reason why his last girlfriend ( eventual wife) won his heart as he felt so profoundly sad for what she endured in her last yr of h.s. and because of his sensitivity how he was impacted by the tragedy in his llife just before he became a teen, it may have sealed his fate. My family also just felt so sorry for this young woman’s loss in her senior yr of h.s. so with our big, generous, kind hearts we just embraced her fully. Little did I realuze, until the midst of my son’s 1st ” episode” 2 months after they married, she was the negative infleunce who had been bringing drugs, mainly cannabis, into my son’s life. As I reflect back, I recall how my son while they were just dating implied several times she wasn’t such a ” nice” girl. Each time, I was exacerbated after guessing what he was taking about until finally he laughed, shook his head and walked off. Remember the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” truly I was not looking at this young woman as a whole book. From the time my sons could walk, I was so careful whom my boy’s associated with. But as they got older and had access to wheels, it did get harder. But one needs a 6th sense in this world when it comes to parenting. Just sad once they leave the nest, parents have no control and you have to hope the values and love you instilled will keep them from harm’s way. Never once could I imagine this clean-cut, wholesome, straight A college student with the same religious background my boy’s were brought up in could have used drugs throughout h.s, And then my son when they started dating post h.s ,he took the bait. My son knew better though he partied with his many friends in h.s as kids use alcohol despite they’re underage. It’s a subject for another time, but modeling a clean lifestyle both my husband and I provided proved not enough. I believe the influence on this generation by its peers is unlike any generation before. i sincerely feel my son had about as perfect a childhood as one could have. And please realize I say this with no arrogance or pretense. We were not a perfect family, by any means, but we gave our two sons the best life we possibly could have provided.

    I jappreciate your dialoging about the causes of psychosis. I saw it happen overnight to my then 23 y/o son and absolutely believe had he not touched cannabis, the two ” episodes” would never have happened. As I read so many countries have Drug Facts, Pamphlets about “Cannabis and Psychosis” ( MI Fellowship of Australia Inc) which I wish I had found while my son was alive.( Page 2 of 2 info content could definitely have helped my son realize, he was not alone in the adverse mental changes on his brain from his use of cannabis. My question remains, as it was to the staff, the p-docs ( out-pt and in-pt) 2009 -2011 why was this info not shared with my son, with this mother who was waving the Reseach studies about this link.

    And yes, I agree Jonah, I feel these govt agencies do nothing to help the person who willingly, or unwillingly, gets caught up in the system of MH. As much as I agree with what you posted about Toronto’s treatment of pts admitted with MH issues, I think the collaboration by the SSC and HealthCanada should be commended. Why isn’t the U.S. educating, or at least, trying to reach this young generation which is using more and more cannabis. Cannabis is the #1 most illicit drug used in the world according to the W.H.O. survey of legal and illegal drug use with the U.S., followed by NZ, reported to have the higher rate of use ( WebMD, 2008).
    I believe your child is not yet at an age where substance use is so common amongst these ages. I think society has become so accepting of cannabis. With the legal prevalence of medical marijuana in many states yet there are studies associating psychosis with the younger person using it for medicinal reasons. How can we, as a society, keep burying its head that young people, my son is the example, are developing such adverse MH changes. Why would govt and private foundations, like the SSC, be reaching out to caution young people about some risks which can be asoc with those whose brain is more vulnerable? I can’t help but wonder if my son was living in Canada when this 4 yr national study began would professionals have recognized the assoc b/t my son’s breakdown and the drug which showed up + for THC on his drug toxicology report?

    Any chance you read the NY Times article Dec 26: E.R. Costs for Mentally Ill Soar, and Hospitals Seek Better Ways. The article highlighted several hospitals dealing with the increasing numbers of people dealing with mental health challenges. ” Nationally, more than 6,4 million visits to emergency rooms in 2010, or about 5% of total visits, involve patients whose primary dx was a mental health condition or substance abuse. That is up 28% from just four years earlier, according to the latest figures available from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, Md.” One non-profit hospital organization, WakeMed in No. Carolina stated it treats an avg of 314 pts a month whose primary dx is some form of psychosis, ” That us up a third from two yrs ago.”

    Jonah- there is an epidemic of drug/substance use in our country occurring but way too little attention to these statistics are being broadcast. I wish some keen eye researcher would be analyzing the toxicology reports on the people admitted for psychosis. Do you think I wonder if there is a correlation b/t the rising use of MJ amongst this young generation and the rise in people with psychosis????? And this generation is mixing substances, another hit neurologically to their still developing brain< age 25. I believe the facts speak for themselves, but glad to consider your opinion. I think one of the best aspects of MIA, is the willingness to express our personal opinions while recognizing each person is entitled to their beliefs.

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    • “I believe the facts speak for themselves, but glad to consider your opinion. I think one of the best aspects of MIA, is the willingness to express our personal opinions while recognizing each person is entitled to their beliefs.”

      @ larmac,

      Thank you for your comment. I read it yesterday (a number of times). I tried to write a reply (a number of times).

      Repeatedly, I wound up scrapping what I was writing to you, because I don’t care to argue with you, and what I was writing could have seemed somewhat argumentative.

      You already have my essential argument (stated as well as I could possibly have hoped to state it) in my first comment to you, above. In that comment, of mine, to you (on December 19, 2013 at 10:15 am), I made it clear, that: I don’t believe cannabis was the cause of your son’s death.

      (You had written “I lost my first-born to the effects from what cannabis did to his brain.” …I strongly disagreed — and do continue to strongly disagree — with that statement.)

      In so many ways, as you provide further details, I’m inclined to feel more and more certain, that, reasonably speaking, cannabis was not to blame for your son’s death.

      IMHO, reasonably speaking, your son’s death was caused by a lack of hope, and that lack of hope was caused by the impacts of the ‘mental health’ Caste system, to which your son had been subjected; it was responsible for his death.

      That system led you and him (and the rest of your family and his friends and his wife) to strongly entertain the notion, that he should accept a certain psychiatric label.

      I suspect that so-called ‘medical diagnosis’ which he received (from what I gather, by reading various comments of yours, I presume it was “bipolar I,” but maybe it was “schizoaffective disorder”) became a kind of death sentence, in the eyes of your son.

      Though it would be wrong for me to presume too much, my guess is that, had he not been labeled that way, he would still be alive today.

      If your son was tagged with “schizoaffective disorder,” then he was considered a victim of “schizophrenia,” as that supposed “disorder” is considered a form of “schizophrenia”.

      “Schizophrenia” was described as “the sacred symbol of psychiatry,” by Thomas Szasz… for very good reason.

      After all, it’s a label that generally implies the person who receives it shall, to some considerable extent, struggle forever with ‘psychoses’ and will thus require a lifetime of psycho-pharmaceutical ‘treatment’ and the endless ‘care’ of psychiatrists.

      It is the main “diagnosis,” which keeps psychiatrists believing that they, themselves, are indispensable ‘medical’ professionals.

      It is their ultimate raison d’etre.

      After all, it generally implies that the person who receives it shall, to some considerable extent, struggle forever with ‘psychoses’ and will thus require a lifetime of psycho-pharmaceutical ‘treatment’ — any number of “hospitalizations” — and thus endless ‘care’ from psychiatrists.

      You think that the p-docs should have known better; they should have blamed your son’s ‘psychosis’ on cannabis effects (you feel); you feel that cannabis caused his ‘psychosis,’ so he should not have received any sort of ‘diagnosis’ that could imply he’d be ‘mentally ill’ forever.

      (Note: Here I’m focusing on the “schizophrenia” label, mainly because you strongly promote a web page by the Schizophrenia Society of Canada. But, it seems to me, from reading some of your MIA comments, your son’s ‘diagnosis’ was “bipolar disorder”; you do describe his ‘diagnosis’ as having indicated that it he was supposedly suffering a “mental illness” that would continue for a lifetime. That prognosis applies to people tagged so-called “bipolar” and so-called “schizophrenia”.)

      You wrote in your first reply to me (on December 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm),

      A functional young man, age 23, who had just married 2 months prior, with a [history] of NO severe MI, would be boxed into a lifelong, genetic disorder of “bipolar for life, meds for life”. I have never viewed society in the sad light I do now. How could my son have been so irreparably harmed? I never believed the lies he was told, not ever. I just couldn’t put it together in time.

      larmac, your son was steamrollered by psychiatry, as were you.

      Ultimately, that effect (of the psychiatric ‘treatment’ — including, but not limited to, the stigma he received) drove your son into isolation.

      He was terribly traumatized by his ‘treatment’ — having been severely abused by psychiatry and by the ‘rehab’ people…

      At various points, in your comments, you indicate that you are plagued by guilt, and now you’ve indicated that your son’s grandfather is, as well.

      I urge you (and all the rest of your family) to forgive yourselves.

      You all did what you sincerely believed was best for your son, and what’s done is done.

      Meanwhile, now, with the best of intentions, you quite naturally wish to warn others against the pitfalls of that system which harmed your son terribly, droving him into isolation… (I mean to say, deep isolation, a sort of isolation which, I believe, could not have been predicted by you.)

      IMHO, you do not yet fully understand the full extent to which psychiatry is, in fact, utter quackery — a faith-based belief system, founded on pseudo-science.

      IMHO, you need to arm yourself with better science.

      I suggest, when you get a chance, read the following paper, titled, “Drop the language of disorder” (by Peter Kinderman, John Read, Joanna Moncrieff and Richard P Bentall)

      IMHO, you could well use careful study, of a brief (but very good) paper such that…

      After all, I gather from reading your comments, you apparently conclude that presumed “bipolar disorder” is a real, physical condition; it is, in your view, “genetic” (which is an incredible stretch).

      (Likewise, for anyone to conclude that “schizophrenia” is “genetic,” is an immense stretch — a leap of faith.)

      No psychiatric “disorder” has ever been proven to be genetic.

      “Bipolar disorder” could never be proven to be genetic, it’s too vaguely defined.

      Likewise, “schizophrenia…”

      Both of those labels are umbrella terms; they account for all sorts of disparate effects — to some extent ‘mental’ …as well as behavioral and emotional and psychosocial.

      There is no biological marker that can identify a case of either (“bipolar” or “schizophrenia”).

      No case of “bipolar” or “schizophrenia” has ever been shown, conclusively, to exist.

      Those “diagnoses” are blunt instruments.

      They are killers.

      They are character assassins.

      You seem to understand that, and yet…

      Meanwhile, it seems to me (from all you say) that you are basically OK with the fact that many people (indeed, countless young people) do receive those labels?

      (If you weren’t OK with it, I’d imagine you would not be repeatedly praising and recommending that web page, from the Schizophrenia Society of Canada.)

      Why should anyone be forcibly ‘treated’ and tagged with those labels?

      (I know you believed it was in your son’s best interest to have him forcibly ‘treated’ — you should forgive yourself. Only, I wonder…)

      Why should cannabis users — and not all others — be spared?

      Why should anyone (e.g., anyone who is, for the first time, apparently experiencing a ‘psychosis’) be tagged with that killer label, “bipolar 1” (or “schizoaffective disorder” or “schizophrenia”)?

      ‘Psychosis’ is, in and of itself, a rather extremely nebulous concept — subjectively perceived.

      For a psychiatrist (and/or, for anyone else), to describe a supposed ‘psychosis’ as the effect of “schizophrenia,” is akin to saying, that: “From our observations, we presume this person will suffer ‘psychoses’ for the duration of his/her lifetime; and/or, s/he’ll require a lifetime of p-doc ‘treatment’.”

      It’s utterly absurd.

      The psychiatry profession is notorious for its tendency to tag people with a “schizophrenia” label, without ever seeking to know the true causes of whatever ‘psychosis’ seems to have arisen in a “patient’s” life; whatever seeming ‘psychosis’ arises, one risks being tagged with the “schizophrenia” so-called diagnosis.

      In my humble opinion, any apparent ‘psychosis’ that develops in the life of a young person has its own — always somewhat unique — causes…

      And, typically, those causes can be uncovered.

      The “schizophrenia” label is a curse, which makes any causes seem as though secondary to the supposed ‘underlying disease’ that’s called “schizophrenia”.

      “Schizophrenia” is an article of faith.

      The same is true of supposed “bipolar disorder.”

      By deferring to the psychiatrists and their labels, one quickly loses sight of the initial issues, behaviors, moods, which become a seeming ‘first manic episode’; the individual is simply known as “Bipolar” (or, as “schizophrenic”) …even after the seeming ‘psychosis’ goes away.

      That is the way “bipolar 1” works, the way ‘it’ is defined; ‘bipolar I’ is defined by only one ‘episode’ of seeming ‘mania’; that’s the way the concept was designed… how it is… in the so-called “Diagnostics and Statistics Manual”; don’t you see, according to the way it’s defined, your son was rightly called “bipolar”.

      These labels (“bipolar disorder” and “schizophrenia”) are purely socio-political constructs — designed by psychiatrists to give psychiatrists power — nothing more, nothing less.

      They are a true scourge, as they drive countless bright and beautiful young people to suicide; they are designed to keep psychiatrists in control of people (mostly young people) who have apparently/seemingly developed a ‘psychosis’ and/or a ‘mania’ (or, ‘manic psychosis’).


      IMHO, ‘psychosis’ is a nebulous concept, but it’s a concept worth discussing.

      So is ‘mania’ (worth discussing).

      “Schizophrenia” and “bipolar” are just an added levels of abstraction, created to lend p-docs an air of extra authority and to give pharmaceutical companies a way to go on ceaselessly pimping their wares.

      The need for such labels is nil, IMHO…

      Especially, wherever the ‘services’ of p-docs are unwanted and psycho-pharmaceutical wares for presumed ‘psychoses’ are unwanted, those labels are totally unnecessary — and, worse, counter-productive…

      Of course, quite frequently, such ‘services’ are unwanted by the “patients” who wind up called “schizophrenic” and “bipolar”.

      The families of such “patients” usually wind up loving the labels, as long as they remain affixed to their loved one, whom they believe ‘needs’ the ‘help’ of psychiatry

      What did your son really need?

      IMHO, he needed help along the lines of that, which was mentioned in your first comment to me; you were, I believe, citing the words of another commenter, from another thread (maybe from another website?) by offering these lines,

      The family took the then 20+ y/o male, who had been substance abusing, to Mexico watching over his care in a one room shack where the cousin was given shelter, food, love and compassion NO meds, NO hospitalization. The family kept him out of harm’s way, one month later his psychosis resolved. This man is alive, functional, and thriving decades later.

      Hopefully, I have not been argumentative in this comment.




      P.S. — larmac,

      Yes, sure, send me a link to that Youtube video you mentioned (the one your son’s friends made); I’d be more than happy to give it a look… ~J.

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  10. Jonah- I love the passion you have for helping those of us in the MIA “family” that I now consider myself. And in many ways I agree with much of what you just wrote. Trust me, I have two degrees, both in Nutritional Science, I have read many scientific journals over my lifetime. As much as I agree with the despicable way a young person, like my son, in the throes of some severe emotional state as he, twice, over 18 months experienced, I hope to persuade you (with more literature reviews) the psychoactive ingredient (THC) can and does throw certain young brains over the edge. While we differ in the origin of cause, for now, I do want to say absolutely I agree with the pseudo-science crap he was labeled with.

    But Jonah, I just re-read your blog, why can’t/shouldn’t society be helping young people who, like my son, have used some mind-altering drug, which spins their brain into orbit, creating delusions, hallucinations…. that the root of their bizarre behavioral changes is from the drugs that crossed the blood brain barrier? Why can’t we educate all these young people, forewarn them, if this happens or if their brain starts having altered realities consider the drug maybe adversely affecting them? Yes, I realize people have “episodes” of psychosis without any drug taken, but the youth of today are using drugs like no other generation before us. Do you think if my son had known there is a risk for his brain to go into some altered state he would have taken it? My son, like most young males, think of themselves as invincible. I will never understand while after my son appeared completely back to “normal” after the first psychosis, I sat down with both he and his wife, but my son did not heed my warning about pot and psychosis. His young wife did as she began clandestinely siphoning money from their bank account, met another man and plotted her way out of the marriage, waiting until my son’s 2nd breakdown to leave. Wouldn’t it have been kindly if she had come to one of her in-laws, and expressed concern that our son was returning to the drug that according to the scientific literature I shared with both of them contributed to his brain fueling into psychosis? Especially considering my son was given the title of Prince Charming when they dated as he was the one that saved her life………………

    And believe me, I already told the story about one of my patients who shared how his cousin was saved long ago, in almost the same kind of emotional crisis my son presented with. After this man shared how his cousin was saved in a 3rd world country, since I have worked in health care for 30 years, I told myself how fortunate my son was to have access to PPO insurance which would allow my son to receive the help we sought for him because we don’t have access to a remote place we could hole up in for a month. (The patient who shared this with me actually gave me more details about the one room shack in the middle of some rural area in Mexico, where many cousins and fathers stood guard that this young man did not escape. ) My son was 6’4″, 236 lbs and we, including my then 20 year old son, was concerned over his escalating, bizarre behavior. Honestly, when someone is in this altered mental state, family and friends are just desperate to find help for their loved one. It is only since my son’s death that I started reading about alternative programs like Soteria House and Open Dialogue, but honestly where are these places in So Calif?

    We had not one, but two, psychologists (actually three as one was a family friend) and NONE could offer us a place to take my son, or a p-doc that any of them would confer with or worked with. And my son did need medication as at the start of his psychosis was exhibiting panic attacks (never had any type of anxiety or panic attack before) and yes, Jonah, as I educated myself IMO these were sxs of drug withdrawal. I didn’t know anything about drugs, how THC alters the brain, and the symptoms that manifest like these. It’s all in the literature that I have devoured. All I ask is why aren’t psych centers connecting the toxicology reports with the symptoms? The literature about cannabis-psychosis is absolutely documented, study after study, for 30 yrs with more research monthly being published from many countries. Have you read any of the literature I have cited about this link? You seem convinced the link doesn’t exist but I definitely having seen it happen twice to my own son and know what he believed was the cause (since both hosp THC was + on the tox screen). Mothers know a little, Jonah. Just like I felt my son die that morning. I don’t believe in spirits, psychics…. but I was linked by birth to both my sons so it is my honest opinion, I felt a piece of me die that fateful morning in Jan, 2012. Just as we were connected since birth, I feel it is my right to pursue what really took my son’s life.

    Thank you as I know you deeply care and I believe with your own traumatic experiences in this sick system of MH, my son’s story could have been your story to some degree. I do believe the psychiatric labeling crippled him fatally. But it was my mom (his grandmother) and I that would refute the labels the p-doc brainwashed him with. It didn’t help that his young wife (and her family) believed in these labels. Why do you think I was in favor of my son weaning himself from these horrid medications after he came out of psychosis (10 weeks each time) since his brain was “dulled and foggy” and the 55 lb wt gain horrible for his knee recovery? Why do you think we found (after many interviews) a psychologist who had heart, compassion and didn’t buy into the psychiatric labels? Just sadly, the psychologist now admits, he wishes he had understood symptoms of substance use better? How was I or my husband, with no history of drug use, supposed to realize my son’s neurotransmitters were going to be altered way past when his use of substances had ended and his psychosis abated? We got NO help, Jonah, none. Wouldn’t you want a psych center to cover A-Z with a young person, and the family who was with the person upon, and during his hospitalization? Wouldn’t it be prudent to help the patient and family understand how substance use effects their young brains???????????????????????? I have my son’s medical records – can you imagine what it is like for me to read that my son (admitted with NO h/o self-harm, suicidal ideations, past suicide attempts) could turn not just suicidal, but homicidal once coerced and massively drugged in the locked unit (when he ONLY admitted himself, with his uncle and grandfather accompanying him since I set up the arrangements for drug rehab myself the day before) and NO ONE contacts me, or his uncle, both of us are on my son’s HIPAA waiver. NO ONE contacted the psychologist who had been treating my son and whose contact infor is listed several times in his medical record. NO ONE sent discharge papers to my son’s psychologist. How were any of us supposed to know my son’s thoughts had turned that dark against himself when he was “dumped” after the hospital refused further stay when the PPO insurance refused to pay past 11 days? My husband and I had to pay (beside the thousands we gave this drug rehab/psych hosp upon admission for the drug rehab he never received) two days more so we could get a plan how to care for our son since he was sooooooo far worse than how he entered. We had to find a way to let him know his wife of 20 months had left him during this hospitalization? The very young woman , when they met 4 yrs earlier, he had saved her life, literally. We had to re-arrange our f-t jobs, enlist my son’s grandmother at then age 85 to help us with 24/7 care as my son was that bad when he was released. Imagine, trying to figure out how to pull this together when both my husband and I had hardly slept since our son went into this breakdown state for the 2nd time. Nothing in life, could prepare us for what we have endured, Jonah. Nothing. Unlike you, no one I know has faced this type of crisis before. Not that I believe your situation is anything one would want to have gone thru, but at least you understand what can happen to people in this kind of crisis. Having not had any family member go thru such crises, and not having any good answers from the psychologists we consulted with, just where does a desperate family turn?

    Jonah- I wish my son had been dx with the actual schizophrenic dx. Why? Because being dx with bipolar one (yes, I know it includes extreme psychotic features) it was a distraction IMO. I always told the psychologist treating my son (and he agreed as he saw the sxs once my son’s brain went again overnight into psychosis, the 2nd time) who did not meet my son until his psychotic sxs abated the first time. I shared I felt as if my son’s bizarre behavior and delusions was like someone with schizophrenia. But once I read the dx for schizophreniform or schizoaffective d/o which I still believe my son exhibited rather than bipolar one as my son never manifested the kind of mania people who consider themselves manic-depressives have. My son’s mania was IMO related to the brain changes from the substances he used…. came out of nowhere and were so extreme along with a panic attack and severe anxiety, tremors in his hands…. again, all sxs of drug withdrawal once I educated myself. And I never saw in my son the kind of deep depression the other spectrum of bipolar exhibits. On the contrary my son loved life to its fullest – never in his 24 yrs (age he had the 2nd “episode”) saw a day he stayed in bed, wouldn’t interact with people. In some ways, I believe my son would have been the LAST person on earth that could have succumbed to suicide. But the hospital IMO wouldn’t have used the dx – schizophreniform- because my son had a + tox report so that dx can’t be used. It was easier to box my kid into “bipolar” because he displayed mania at the start of psychosis. You know as bright as you are Jonah, one can’t get a dx of schizophrenia unless one has the sxs > 6 months. My son’s sxs abated, each time, 10 wks after they came on suddenly, out of nowhwere. I believe had my son been given the worst (supposedly) of severe psychiatric labels- schizophrenia or some similar dx- the cause would have been identified sooner. And I stand by my belief it was THC that fueled his brain into this bizarre behavior, exactly why the SSC organization has created that interactive website in Canada to reach out to its youth. Here is info from Australia about concerns about this same cannabis-psychosis link. Why are these countries recognizing the same symptoms my son presented with, twice, each time his drug screen was + for THC. Why?
    see- MI Fellowship of Australia (cannabis and psychosis).

    My son should have at least been given the benefit of the doubt. Had he been given “substance induced psychosis” instead of “rule out bp one” (ignoring his tox report was + for THC) while dismissing him as “just a recreational user” which the out-pt p-doc then just railroaded my son into the manic-depression label….where might he be today? Are you familiar that 10% of young people have become addicted to cannabis? Have you read about the addiction clinics exploding with kids addicted to pot lately?

    I will leave you with another related cannabis incident that happened to my son’s dog just prior to his 2nd psychosis and subsequent hospitalization. My son’s dog got into a bag of pot at the home my son and his wife shared. Unbeknownst to my husband or me, I was naive/stupid (fill in the blank) so when my son called that their dog was seizing asking for my help. I picked up my dtr-in-law and their dog who seemed to be having a seizure, like I used to see in a previous dog of ours who had epilepsy. We took the dog to our family vet who denied the dog’s symptoms were epilepsy, rather he felt it was a drug reaction. My dtr-in-law (now I know was lying thru her teeth) insisted the dog had eaten snail bait, but the vet didn’t believe snail bait was the cause. I was too ignorant to request the dog have a tox screen and since the vet knew my son and his wife wanted to keep costs down, though told us he was not sure the dog would survive. After 24 hrs of IVs, observation the dog did survive. After my son had the 2nd psychotic break, hospitalization…. he confessed that the dog had actually gotten into their bag of marijuana. Next time, I saw our vet I asked “could MJ have caused the dog’s seizure and temporary paralysis?”Here is what the vet told me “oh, no, pot toxicity doesn’t manifest itself as those sxs”. Guess what Jonah, much to my surprise this fall as I was reading the LA Times, this article popped out at me.

    Again , Jonah, today’s pot is NOT the same drug that you may have used yrs ago. It is not the same pot of the ’60s, ’70s. ’80s. I know our vet is a well-respected veterinarian and yet he did not know that pot was the cause of my son’s symptoms in 2011. So, do I believe well intended people, like yourself or the family vet who tell me that pot can’t do this to young brains, to animals…. Again, the truth will set us free. It’s just a matter of time, Jonah.

    But yes, we are in agreement about much of what we both write. It’s one reason I will not stop until the truth is completely known. While millions of people use some form of marijuana without adverse effects, my son, and all the others like him, had no warning. I often wonder how with all the literature about the cannabis-psychosis link can people, as intelligent as you, still not get it? I am baffled quite honestly. And above all, I hope we can all work toward seeing ‘alternative programs’ developed like a one room shack of sorts when people, for whatever reason, go into these states? According to what I read, people whose brains go into these altered states, who have used some mind-altering drugs, have extreme states of psychosis. Please believe me, we needed some place to get my son help. I feared had he driven or interacted with people/friends, he could easily have been arrested. His mind was not functioning normally. Again, I have never witnessed anyone go into this altered state, other than the two times it happened to my son.

    Yes, next week will forward on my son’s YouTube and appreciate you viewing it, truly. We are heading out for a few days to soak up some sun and reflect, hopefully, on a healthier start to 2014. I will never understand why in spite of what we believed we did to help him, our efforts were futile. Perhaps, I agree, if we had known of a shack in some far away place, and with enough people who would have helped us physically keep my son out of harms way this would have been the scenario to have saved him. Certainly, the road we took with him, led him to, proved deadly.

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  11. And yes, Jonah, I will review ‘Drop the Language of Disorder” this week. Plus, I will review another link you had suggested last blog, as I recall. I don’t want to be argumentative either. I think we realize there is a lot of horrific abuse which involves the MH field, from what you experienced years ago and continue to stand up for what you believe is pseudo-science. I am so new to this world of MH, and only stumbled in because of what happened to my son. Now, as I have had almost two years to reflect, including the 27 months my son started on this path which culminated in his suicide, I have much more clarity now. I realize the terrific mistakes we made by just trying to seek help for my son. But quite frankly, if it were to happen to someone else around me, I still am lost as to suggest where family and friends take a person who was in the extreme emotional crisis my son experienced. How does one keep a strong, tall, young man out of harm’s way when these extreme symptoms manifest themselves? How can you restrain someone from getting in a car and driving away when the person is hallucinating and having delusions? We hear constantly on the news about loss of a young person (usually a male) when the police get involved and some sort of emotional crises is evident with that person. When a person is in this state, too often they are reactionary themselves leading to an arrest or a worse fate. I still have NO idea what we would have done since there are no alternative places to turn to for help in So Calif (that I am aware of).

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    • @ larmac,

      Thanks for this latest reply (above).

      And, thanks also for your preceding reply (on December 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm).

      I’m glad to know you’re planning to study that paper (“Drop the Language of Disorder”), especially because, from all that you’re saying (in your preceding comment), I feel that you don’t really get how hard these psychiatric ‘diagnoses’ can be on a person.

      In your preceding comment, you explain,

      I wish my son had been dx with the actual schizophrenic dx. Why? Because being dx with bipolar one (yes, I know it includes extreme psychotic features) it was a distraction IMO. I always told the psychologist treating my son (and he agreed as he saw the sxs once my son’s brain went again overnight into psychosis, the 2nd time) who did not meet my son until his psychotic sxs abated the first time. I shared I felt as if my son’s bizarre behavior and delusions was like someone with schizophrenia. But once I read the dx for schizophreniform or schizoaffective d/o which I still believe my son exhibited rather than bipolar one as my son never manifested the kind of mania people who consider themselves manic-depressives have.

      In my humble opinion, generally speaking, “schizophrenia” (the label) is terribly stigmatizing — far worse than “bipolar” — and, thus, an huge impediment to living a fully social life.

      I can’t stand the “bipolar” label; it’s terribly misleading and damaging; and, I understand your reasons for saying it was a distraction; but, the “schizophrenia” label is, IMHO, exponentially worse. I would not wish that label on my worst enemies, and I highly respect anyone who has been labeled that way, who has somehow found a way to live fully at ease, in the world — because, it is so very horribly stigmatizing.

      (Whatever leads one to be officially tagged with that label, is going to be, in and of itself, challenging, to overcome; why make it so much more challenging? Why attach that label?)

      I highly suggest that you study the blogging of MIA ‘foreign correspondent’ Philip Thomas, MD…

      Were I you, I might begin with his post titled “Mad Flies and Bad Science” (it addresses the matter of the “schizophrenia” label):

      And, here’s the link to his bio and list of blog posts:

      larmac, you’re offering good points and asking good questions — most especially, at last, in this, your latest comment.

      Your questions are perfectly pointed, at last.

      Many thoughts come to mind, upon reading them; but, as you are raising such important questions, I don’t want to offer a rushed reply.

      I will respond further, as soon as I have some free time (within just a couple of days).



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      • larmac,

        You mentioned that you’re taking a bit of time off now.

        That’s good. I, too, am taking a bit of time off now.

        (Note: I had expected to find time to come back and reply in full today, but I found myself engaged in other activities, as today is New Year’s Day.)

        I have reread our exchange of comments.

        At last, I see there’s some confusion between us, having to do with this fact, that: I’ve argued against your view that your son’s death was caused by cannabis. (I’ve repeatedly offered my disagreement, on that point. It was my initial argument, and it remains my main argument…)

        Meanwhile, you seem to think I say that cannabis use can’t cause serious problems, and/or you seem to think I’m against warning young people about the serious problems it can cause.

        Actually, I know cannabis use can and does cause some people considerable problems; I have witnessed that; I respect those who indicate that cannabis use triggered their own ‘psychosis’ experiences…

        But, ‘Psychosis’ is a somewhat nebulous concept, subjectively perceived; so, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘psychosis,’ as you refer to your son’s experiences; yet, if I found that your son came to believe cannabis had triggered a ‘psychosis,’ in his life, then I would respect that assessment, on his part.

        (I do my best to respect any individual’s utlimate assessments of his/her own experiences and life-condition/s.)

        Meanwhile, I do believe (from all you’ve detailed) cannabis caused your son — and, by extension, caused his entire family — very considerable problems.

        In fact, based on what limited details I can gather from carefully reading your comments, I think anyone might very reasonably call those problems, which your son initially suffered, “a cannabis-induced psychosis.”

        Simply, I do not believe cannabis caused his death.

        That’s my main point.

        I feel strongly about that, based on all the various details you’ve offered.

        It seems to me clear, that cannabis was not the cause of his death.

        After all, you well realize, there were considerable underlying issues, which were contributing factors, to that initial ‘psychosis’ (and/or, ‘break down’), which he suffered.

        Then, when your son went back to using cannabis, some time after his initial “hospitalization,” he had what you call a 2nd “episode”.

        You see a direct correlation between his going back to smoking cannabis and his winding up experiencing what you perceived as another “sudden” ‘psychosis’.

        I’m willing to take your word for it, that he had a 2nd ‘breakdown’ — triggered by smoking cannabis; you’ve indicated that his resumed smoking triggered yet another ‘psychosis’/’breakdown’.

        However, I not believe cannabis killed your son.

        And, I absolutely do not believe your son would have fared better, had he been tagged with the “schizophrenia” label. (You seem to think he might have fared better had that been the case; I completely disagree.)

        I will reply further, in a few days (maybe a week, at most).

        I am terribly sorry if I seem too argumentative, as I do feel for you and your family, considering I am aware that it’s now coming up on two years exactly, since your son died.

        This must be a very challenging time of year for you.

        Please, let me know if you’d rather that I hold off with further replies. (I can very easily hold off for as long as you might wish me to…)

        Happy New Year to You and Yours…



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        • I agree with you Jonah. Because first of all I saw clearly the emotional problem in a similar case.
          But also , blaming cannabis is the same thing as blaming bad brain cells – it is blaming the outer instead of changing the inner. OK so not everything is the “inner” but it’s the first place to look for a problem.
          It’s the problem with mass society, everyone falsely learns that everything inside is fixed.
          There has to be some deep anxiety and fear which makes the person susceptible to cannabis induced psychosis. Getting rid of the cannabis is no fixed solution, in fact next time it could be another stressor
          So when they “recover” and stop having symptoms the relatives want to think it’s “OK now” but it’s not, it’s a false security.
          Pay to psychology what belongs to psychology.

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  12. Jonah- Happy New Year! I am glad you enjoyed some festivities too:-) I am only blogging because I just saw your post. (I have not reviewed the suggested postings yet). I want you to know I think you have been very respectful of a very delicate subject. I appreciate your dialogue with me. I am trying to decide if I have the emotional stamina to pursue legal action against the hosp my son entered supposedly for the drug rehab he never received. I really didn’t want to consider this route for many reasons but I do want to try to expose the egregious practices this hospital has been cited for repeatedly over the last 5+ years, and lawsuits by several family who have lost adult “children” at the hands of this tainted, disgusting hosp chain.

    I am on the fence because I do feel if my son had never started using cannabis, his death would not have occurred. You feel very strongly cannabis did not cause his death…. but I feel strongly, beyond strongly, he would not have suffered a severe emotional crisis if he hadn’t used this drug (or any chemical substance). Yes, people do have traumas, physical, emotional (or both) but they don’t often have these kind of breakdowns. I do want you to know that the psychologist who my son was seeing (until he moved away to “start anew” then just sporadically by phone) told me after my son passed away my son did feel, with the second “episode” this time his use of returning to cannabis (> one year after he had the 1st “episode”) that cannabis, for him, did trigger the breakdown. Unfortunately, thinking he was invincible like so many at this age, my son did not think starting with marijuana had any ill effects since his (eventual) wife and some of their friends had no negative experiences before.

    And yes, beyond a shadow of any doubt, what the MH system did to him, both hospitalizations with the labeling, massive drugging, warehousing, then “dumping” are the egregious practices I have mentioned numerous times here. But my son had a therapist, beside immediate family, that supported him weaning off the drugs he was forced to take. My family does not believe in long-time meds unless there is proof positive meds are a necessity. Clearly, there is no scientific proof anti-psychotics, mood-stabilizers have any benefit long term. I always maintained even during my son’s 1st breakdown in 2009 that the drugs forced upon him actually caused him great harm, but he went home to live with his newlywed wife who as I blogged before was very much a believer in MH diagnoses and meds used for these dxs. We straddled a very fine line trying to support my son, not cause conflict between them as it was stressed repeatedly “your son is so fragile and no stress on him is vital”. If I had followed my maternal gut feelings, I should have ripped my son away from living with her after the things she said to me about my son the first night she finally came to visit him during his 1st hospitalization. (She didn’t show up until the 5th night he was in that horrid locked facility even though his band of brothers were there from the 1st night on until he was finally released 10 days later). My dtr-in-law had always seemed like a decent person and loved my son until he wasn’t able to be the Prince Charming title he was assigned. They were together over 4 years and one would hope the true personality of a person would emerge. Sadly, our family and especially our son did not realize she was not the caring, loving person she pretended to be until his breakdown. Again, I was told because they were both so young to just give her the benefit of the doubt, overlook some of the petty things she started doing. I think my son was just incapable of knowing how to purge himself of her at this fragile time in his life. We, of course, being guided by “experts” we believed knew better how to handle such a fragile situation, were advised not to interfere…so meanwhile, we helped pay for some of their bills and just tried to be as much of an ally as possible. How would we know she was siphoning money from their bank account and all the other evil things she did while my son must have felt caught not knowing what to do. He truly loved this young woman and would not have let us know about the sinister side of her personality that he was being subjected to. And my son would say “I wasn’t that great of a husband” after she so cruelly left him during his 2nd hospitalization. As parents, truly, we were just up against all odds. I did try to speak candidly with my son after she left him and we found out about the money, and how she transferred her mother’s portion of their wedding onto my son’s credit card but he refused to ever say anything about her. I think my son’s pride was wounded beyond. I believe my son could not fathom someone he believed would be his life partner could have hurt him so deeply. (And this young man had so many girls after him all the years he dated). I have pushed my feelings toward this young woman far away as I can share it’s impossible knowing my son literally saved her life when they met. I often say to myself my son saved her and we lost him. Just so, so unfair.

    In some ways, I feel my son’s death was a perfect storm. Yes, i believed and shared with him, if he stayed away from all chemical substances his brain would heal over time. I believed this with every inch of my being. But my son weaned off all the drugs he was released with within 2 months of his last hospitalization (who would blame anyone from not being able to take drugs that dulled his brain and made him feel like he was in a fog). The out-pt p-doc, who was the admitting p-doc, actually took my son off the antipsychotic as soon as he was released. It didn’t matter as I’ve said, the drugs did nothing for him other than the one given to help him sleep (eventually he weaned off that drug too). But it seems to me moving far away (mostly because he had a big ego, a very macho type young man and didn’t want to have to see his wife who was divorcing him and her new lover) which he had some valid reasons to want “to start anew” proved too isolating, the longer he stayed in that rural area unable to find employment. But my son, who we never had any awareness of suicidal ideations and there was no self harm, or past suicide attempts except I believe I have shared my son’s medical records that I finally got indicate once in that horrid locked unit instead of the drug rehab we had put up thousands to be sure he received-but he did not receive- his thoughts turned very dark. Yet, not one professional communicated this to us, the parents there each night. Not one “expert” bothered to contact the psychologist whose care my son was under either in written or verbal communication. My son must have kept his dark thoughts to himself, and decided as loneliness and isolation took over, he had a way out. But you would have to have known my son who knew the horrific ravaging effect from suicide because of two personal experiences of suicide (one direct and one indirect) that he dealt with in his lifetime. My son IMO absolutely would not have done this to the family he knew loved him, cherished him and would live lost without him. He mentioned how much he did not want to do this to us in his note. What Jonah, could have caused my son to take this route? I know the summer he moved up to the remote area the folks at AA apparently helped him realize how some families when faced with what he had gone thru, abandon their son or daughter. We had quite a conversation that day and I explained families stick together thru the good and the bad times. I knew my son felt he was so lucky after all that had transpired.

    For me, I will always believe there are MH changes to the brain that occur and change the neurotransmitters. For me, I likely will never know how much cannabis altered his brain or the massive drugging in that locked unit, when according to his medical records he starts thinking of suicidal and homicidal thoughts. Is it possible these MH changes are irreversible or possibly need much longer before a person’s own normal chemistry is balanced? I truly believe my son would not have left this earth unless something so horrible, so evil was the focus of his thinking. There were so many family, even the psychologist always had a phone number my son could use to reach him in any emergency, to have called for help. I absolutely know my son knows each and every one of us would have driven immediately to have been there for him.

    Does it haunt me that if he shared his thoughts had turned dark and foreboding, he feared we would have put him in a hospital, like we did the two times before? I imagine you know what my answer is. Yes, it haunts me because I never sat down and told my son after the second (and last) hospitalization how horrible I felt about the egregious treatment he received and how much it harmed him. I wanted to many times, but I was told by the psychologist I had sought advice from for two years how to not alienate my son, how to be more supportive.. and was told to say less, offer less advice, don’t bring up painful memories. Believe me, it will haunt me forever that I didn’t follow my gut instinct and let my son know no matter what he was experiencing if he would trust me despite the horrible experiences he endured (because I believed working in health care these last 30 yrs psych hospitals were the best place to seek help) I would be there to help him, stay with him, work with him thru whatever he was experiencing no matter what.

    But Jonah- I still have no place in So CA I could recommend to another parent if their son or daughter were to go thru these “episodes” and want to be sure to keep them out of harms’ way -either from themselves or from getting behind the wheel or from any potential altercation with the police. It is just not right, Jonah. Parents especially when their adult “children” reach adulthood are placed in such difficult situations when they move out, assume their own independent life and then the perfect storm hits. I really don’t have any answers but I do hope, one day, this horrid MH system that was so catastrophic in my son’s life changes. No person should have had so much turmoil and no family should suffer like we do now.

    FYI- “cannabis-induced psychosis” only applies in the world of the MH system if the person emerges from the sxs of a altered mental state within a short period of time. I asked why my son’s dx shouldn’t be this because it fit the boxes to check. Of course, this is how the “experts” railroaded him, my husband and me , into the bipolar pseudo-crap. I truly fought the p-doc’s dx in that one-time family session, but he was so intimidating and my daughter-in-law and her mother who fully embrace MI blocked my responses to this p-doc. Again, my son was still in this emotional, fragile altered state and I knew arguing and conflict in that session would not be in my son’s best interest. But yes, the labeling was so devastating. My mom (his grandmother) and I constantly told my son he was not bipolar and that this label was being given out to so many people, just like ADHD labels I used for example. That is why I started to research what could have caused his altered state. And the more I began investigating the effect of drugs, cannabis since this was what he tested + for, the more I felt overwhelmingly convinced the connection/link between cannabis and psychosis was very real. I felt if I could legitimately prove would cause this altered state, no label was accurate. But instead of thinking the “experts” could only agree with the hundreds of literature studies about this link as a logical explanation what happened to him- nothing but MI labeling and brainwashing ensued.

    Here is a response from a blogger to the MIA article reprinted from MentalHealthCop “What the Hell is Actually Going On?” 12-31-13. I so agree with the question some blogger asks:

    What I would like to say is that there needs to be more studies and inquiry into
    a) what is triggering psychosis/schizophrenia etc – if people are taking illicit drugs or alochol and it is triggering this, then they need to better be taught the risk outcomes of these pursuits. Likewise, if soldiers are coming back from wars and finding themselves afflicted – they need to know that they are putting themselves at risk before they head off.


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  13. Jonah- agree with your post to Mary Olson’s “The Promise of Open Dialogue”. From what I have read about Lapland’s program I can only think had this type of MH care been in existence (truly compassionate, supportive, minimal, if no use of meds used) my son would have survived his emotional crises. And my family would have not lost a huge piece of their lives. This type of alternative MH care is what I’ve been hoping America will embrace. It has to be a huge step in a positive direction from what MH care currently exists as. I need to believe the psychiatric community is willing to embrace holistic, non-drugged approaches because surely the outcomes, such as what my family experienced with my son’s egregious treatment, are known. I believe the psychiatric community is well aware of its tarnished image. I must believe change is coming soon……

    Could you pls post your email? I looked at the bloggings under the MIA file but can’t find your email now. Just want to send you the YouTube video. Thx.

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    • @ larmac,

      Here’s my email address: [email protected]

      I do look forward to viewing that Youtube video. Only, please, excuse me if it takes me a bit of time (maybe a week) to reply to your email.

      Also, I will respond to your preceding comments, on this page (and thank you, by the way, for the Happy New Year wishes…); yet, right now, I am attempting to take a break from all Internet-related matters.

      (I’m doing my best to draw myself away from the Net. This morning, I succumbed to the usual temptation to log on — and wound up seeing that blog post from Mary Olson… and offered my response to it, as you noticed.)

      Right now, I am fully intending to make this my last MIA comment for the next few days, at least.

      (Possibly, I’ll go off-line for a week.)

      Again, to you and yours, Happy New Year!




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    • @ larmac,

      Now, a week has passed, I am back online (since yesterday) and am finding myself not knowing how to continue our dialogue, at this time. Hopefully, as I say that, you’ll understand, this is just about my own need to refocus myself, on matters, here, at home. I think I could well continue our conversation — but only after another Internet break.

      At the same time, I feel that, maybe, if I just say a few words here, I can loosen up — say what needs saying — and then move on to other business…

      But, frankly, I’m already feeling quite worn down by all things ‘psychiatry’ …especially, as I’ve found myself following the latest ‘news’ of yet another tragic loss, of a creative young person who’d been tagged with the “schizophrenia” label.

      See Faith Rhyne’s latest blog post: ‘North Carolina Police Shoot and Kill “Mentally Ill” Kid.’

      Faith’s blogging is always great; so, I read her post as soon as I logged on — and was immediately reminded of how I’d repeatedly explained, in so many words, to you, that: The “schizophrenia” label is a curse — far more damning than the “bipolar” label.

      [Note: I insist it is such a curse, and, as I do so, I find myself worrying that, one who’s been labeled that way, might read my words and come to feel just horrible, as a result. Perhaps, I’m making the stigma worse, by my calling that label a curse; but, I believe it’s important to acknowledge the harms that are caused psychiatric labeling, generally; and, really, I think it’s vitally important to acknowledge, that some psychiatric labels are more damaging than others.]

      IMHO, there are ways to lift that curse, more or less.

      (Though it can be a difficult thing to do, it can be done; any psychiatric curse can be lifted, in various ways. One of the best ways by carefully studying the words of well-spoken critics, of those labels.)

      But, when it’s kids who are the ones being cursed by psychiatry, then the question becomes: Who will lift the curse?

      When the parents are using the label as a way to get ‘help’ from the authorities, who, then, will lift that curse?

      (If you’ve not yet read Faith’s blog post, I should at least note: It was a rogue ‘law enforcement officer’ who killed the 18-year-old.)

      You wrote (on December 30, 2013 at 12:24 am),

      I realize the terrific mistakes we made by just trying to seek help for my son. But quite frankly, if it were to happen to someone else around me, I still am lost as to suggest where family and friends take a person who was in the extreme emotional crisis my son experienced. How does one keep a strong, tall, young man out of harm’s way when these extreme symptoms manifest themselves? How can you restrain someone from getting in a car and driving away when the person is hallucinating and having delusions? We hear constantly on the news about loss of a young person (usually a male) when the police get involved and some sort of emotional crises is evident with that person. When a person is in this state, too often they are reactionary themselves leading to an arrest or a worse fate. I still have NO idea what we would have done since there are no alternative places to turn to for help in So Calif (that I am aware of).

      I don’t know of places, per se…

      I do know of people.

      Email me, and I will suggest names of a few…

      Oh, and that reminds me, I do care to acknowledge and thank you for sending me the link to the Youtube tribute to your son, that your son’s friends made.

      From watching it, one thing becomes all the more perfectly clear: His death was purely a tragedy.

      You wrote, to me, in your last MIA comment (above),

      I need to believe the psychiatric community is willing to embrace holistic, non-drugged approaches because surely the outcomes, such as what my family experienced with my son’s egregious treatment, are known. I believe the psychiatric community is well aware of its tarnished image. I must believe change is coming soon…

      larmac, I don’t believe that change is coming, ever.

      The ‘psychiatric community’ is, in the main, a creation of Psychiatry; and, psychiatry is, first and foremost, an apparatus of the State.

      Though the State performs certain functions, pertaining to the advancement of social welfare, it has long been dominated by those who clamor for ‘security’ …as it is increasingly dedicated to serving the interests of huge corporate conglomerates.

      Those corporate interests are not keenly interested in social welfare (which becomes a kind of ‘redistribution of wealth’).

      They are interested in business.

      To some extent, those conglomerates are controlled by democratic processes; however, mainly, it’s the conglomerates that do the controlling; it is the large corporations, which are controlling the masses.

      Or else, at least, they greatly influence the masses, and they control those individuals who seemingly fall out of line or make waves…

      The conglomerates massively influence the masses, by offering them bread and circuses… and psychotropic drugs, to numb their anxieties.

      They create standards of ‘normalcy’ so bland, so narrow, almost anyone who fails to appear ‘happy’ with the usual status quo becomes suspect.

      “Occupy Wall Street” is no more — because the government (the State) and the large corporate conglomerates are virtually one and the same entity.

      Psychiatry is an essential aspect of their Control System.

      The ‘medical model’ that is promoted by Psychiatry, will be promoted by the vast majority of psychiatrists (and by the ‘psychiatric community’ as a whole), until Kingdom Come.

      Hence, with the consent of willing families, psychiatrists (and their helpers) will continue forcing those drugs on individual family members who’ve come to experience non-consensual reality (deemed “psychosis” and/or considered “breakdowns”); any presumably ‘delusional’ thinkers will be drugged into a deeply twisted, unwilling submission.

      Again, I emphasize: I know that what you and your clan did what you felt was best — what you all considered most necessary — for your son.

      You had the best of intentions for him.

      You have indicated that you feel marijuana was a problem for him, and I agree with you; it was.

      You say,

      I am on the fence because I do feel if my son had never started using cannabis, his death would not have occurred. You feel very strongly cannabis did not cause his death…. but I feel strongly, beyond strongly, he would not have suffered a severe emotional crisis if he hadn’t used this drug (or any chemical substance). Yes, people do have traumas, physical, emotional (or both) but they don’t often have these kind of breakdowns.

      larmac, from reading various details, that you’ve offered, of your son’s life and his death, I come to a different conclusion.

      From all you say, I’m inclined to presume that your son’s cannabis smoking made him — at the point of his ‘breakdowns’ — more difficult for you to fathom…

      Yet, I believe it’s likely, he would have experienced a first ‘breakdown’ in any case.

      Probably, that ‘breakdown’ was complicated by marijuana smoking.

      I think it’s very possible, that, had he not been smoking marijuana, he would have experienced a considerably different sort of ‘breakdown.’

      I think maybe (just possibly) he would have avoided “hospitalization” had he never become a cannabis smoker; or, possibly, he would have been ‘treated’ with less brutality, in his first “hospitalization,” had he not become a cannabis smoker… because, in that case, possibly, he would have been less fearful, thus less reactive, at the time of his ‘breakdown’.

      (Probably, as you read that, you’re thinking something like, ‘He wouldn’t have had a “breakdown” if he hadn’t been smoking cannabis.’ But, just hear me out…)

      In a case, we know, your son was seriously abused by psychiatry. His “hospitalization” experiences were terribly traumatizing.

      His 1st “hospitalization” was horribly abusive (as was his later “re-hab” experience).

      The 2nd ‘breakdown’ — in my humble opinion — was just a continuation of that 1st ‘breakdown’ — which had been corked by his “hospital” ‘treatment’.

      I have seen more than one MIA commenter refer to the ‘corking’ of “patients” of Psychiatry.

      The first commenter who I saw using that term was one named “Anonymous”.

      “Anonymous,” who hasn’t been commenting in recent months, spoke at length of the ‘corking’ process…

      Here’s a passage from a comment he posted a while back (which I feel relates to everything I’ve said to this point… and which offers a good conclusion to what I’m wishing to say),

      There is I believe too, an element of ‘plugging’ or ‘corking’. That is, when one is evolving, some would say devolving, into an extremely heightened state of extremes, this is a force to be reckoned with, and if, at some point during the temporal timeline of this phenomenon occurring, someone, a psychiatrist, a society forcibly drugging you and locking you up, puts in a ‘plug’ or a ‘cork’ into your system, and tranquilizes you and numbs you out for years or months, it should not surprise, that when that cork is removed, that the process leaves off where it started, for you needed to get through that process, and get it out of your system. It is clear to me, that if people had the basic human right to get through this process without having their biology molested by society, recovery would be the norm.

      I agree entirely with that view — which is really a view that I came to (without the term “corking” and without eloquence) many years ago… which is why I first came to feel that simply had to get away from psychiatry and its drugs.

      I quit the ‘meds’ and was, unfortunately, re-corked.

      But, I was undeterred.

      As described for you, in my earlier comments (above), eventually I did successfully quit the ‘meds’ and get away from psychiatry.

      That was back when I was not quite 25 years old. Now, I’m not quite 50…

      In all these years, I known, I would never again bring any supposedly ‘psychotic’ person to a “hospital” of any kind.

      Please, note prominently, that: I say “never again” — not because (as explained, in my preceding comments, to you) I allowed myself to be brought to “hospitals” in my early twenties…

      (Of course, I shall never again allow my own life to be placed under the ‘care’ of any “hospital” psychiatrist.)

      But, “never again” here, now, is my meaning to say, that: I shall never bring anyone else (no matter what sort of crisis s/he may be experiencing) to meet with any psychiatrist (at least, not any psychiatrist who ‘prescribes’ drugs by force or coercion).

      Most assuredly, I will never bring anyone to a “hospital” if s/he is experiencing emotional difficulties or seems as if s/he’s more or less out of touch, with reality.

      During my time (roughly three and a half years), as a so-called “out-patient” of psychiatry, I became a group leader, of people officially tagged with various so-called “mood disorders.”

      I actually started a group of young folk, in their ‘teens and twenties.’

      I accompanied more than one of those group members to the “hospital,” and those became key learning experience.

      After just a couple of times, doing that, I became quite certain that I could never do it again.

      (The first time, I did it upon the request of an individual group member who’d decided to quit taking ‘meds’ and who subsequently became scared and wished to be “hospitalized”; the second time, I did it upon the request of a group member’s spouse; that group member had decided to quit taking ‘meds’ and wasn’t scared but was, apparently, considerably lacking, in ‘groundedness’ in reality.)

      Wherever folk seem to need to go, when they are particularly emotionally troubled and/or ungrounded, I may take them; but, I will never again believe that they need go to a “hospital”.

      What I hope you will come to realize, is that the ‘psychiatric community’ is not going to be reformed — certainly not as you’re describing, you’d wish it would be reformed…

      However, I’m wishing you and yours well — absolutely — and, especially, as I know this coming Monday will mark the 2nd anniversary of your son’s passing…

      Now, I’m taking another few days away from the Net.

      Take Good Care…



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  14. Jonah- thank you for the time and energy you have given to the tragedy that my family and I have suffered. It really says a lot about the kindness of who you are. And I so appreciate that we both have reached some agreements in the plight of my son. Absolutely, I wouldn’t go near or suggest, no matter how severe the emotional crisis, any psych facility the rest of my life. I truly pray my son, before he ended his life, forgave me for the tragic decision to get him ” compassionate help” which, as you know, never happened. Each of the two hospital/rehab center just added more trauma on top of the emotional trauma my son was already experiencing. The LAST place, the second time, I wanted my son to be was placed inside a locked unit. And my poor boy was soooooo phobic, he wouldn’t take my word, or my brother’s word we wanted to just get him into drug rehab, that is why my dad drive from the desert to be the one to finally persuade him to enter. This is why my dad feels so responsible what he promised his grandson was turned into a pack of lies by this drug rehab center the next day after my brother and father escorted my son to the drug rehab. But it was the place I vetted out, my family was just trying to help us. My father, who used to be an Admin with the County, and 30 yrs ago had a crisis in his life that necessitated my dad seeking help thru a p-doc, and use of a short-term antidepressant until the crisis was resolved. My dad says that p-doc saved his life. My dad says he met with the p-doc twice a week for 45 min sessions, and it helped get my dad thru a terrible situation. So, my dad’s last interaction with psychiatry was extremely positive. Each day I called my dad to update him on my son’s status and each conversation, from the day I called hysterical that my son had been coerced into the locked unit, instead of being in the drug rehab, I set up the day before they escorted my son there. It was impossible for my dad to believe. My dad reminded me this hospital had the reputation of being the “Cadillac” of hospitals he believed. Imagine, how sickened my family is now I have my son’s medical records which just verify the egregious practices, especially of massive over- drugging, and the violation my son was never given a court hearing despite his desperate comments reported by the staff to please put him back in the open unit where he started, begging the staff to contact his mother” who will know how to help get him out”.

    And hearing back, finally, thru the Dept of Pt Rights since I asked for an internal investigation. If you heard the reasons it was denied, scandalous is what I told the Supv. How can any investigation be concluded if the family wasn’t contacted directly to discuss why I claim there are so many discrepancies, mistruths, conflicting reports and outright lies, blatant lies throughout my son’s medical records, all 170 pgs.
    Just as you know Jonah, these agencies are just political machines. It’s obvious there are no true oversight agencies monitoring these unscrupulous hospitals, drug rehab centers… It’s all a scam, as you so well know. I told this Supv as much, if the agency he represents truly cared about the inhumane, egregious practices these places operate under there would be more than just a slap on the hand. This particular hospital/rehab has been cited repeatedly over the last 5 yrs, plus has had several personal lawsuits related to the actual deaths of several patients while each were hospitalized. I have to see if I have the emotional stamina to pursue litigation because I spoke with the consultant p-doc ( out- of- state) I found to review my son’s medical records and he stands my his opinion I should not just go after the admitting p-doc, but the Admin and owners. It was speaking with this professional who shared ” the last place he tells his patients, and their families, to end up is inside a locked psych ward as the outcomes are so poor”. Doesn’t that sum it up? A p-doc, from the old school of Psychiatry ( likely one that helped my dad so much 30 yrs ago) who realizes what a menace a psych hospital is today.

    Yes, I’ve been following Faith’s blog about the tragic death of the young 18 y/o male. First, Jonah, when I hear that word ” schizophrenic” ( which I equate with the “bipolar ” label though agree the former holds the worst connotation. But if I recall correctly before the DSM III any version of psychosis was labeled ” schizophrenia” ) my reaction now is WHY are we hearing sooooo many young people labeled with one of the most severe MI diagnosis? A recent study out of Canada does show a rise in the ” schizophrenic” diagnosis which the researcher links to one of two factors: the rise in immigrants or the Northern latitude creates low Vitamin D levels- somehow he links it to MI. Of course, since I’ve engrossed myself in reading about the rising drug use amongst this young population, especially cannabis which is so prevalent, my theory is drug related as to why the schizophrenia diagnosis is increasing. But whatever the cause, it was horrific this young man is dead at the hands of what appears to be a trigger happy cop. How pathetic the family calls for help and then watch as their son is gunned down in front of them.

    Believe me, this is why my husband and I took our son in Oct 2009, into our car from the first psych hospital the police took him to once his wife and mother-in-law called the police on our son, in the middle of the night. That hospital was the central place the police brought everyone but no p-doc on duty in the middle of the night and the MH tech saw no grounds to hold my son. Now, as I look back, that young MH tech surely saw a ” normal” young man, probably asked my son if he was under the influence of a substance( which he was) and knew my son’s altered mental state was drug related. The tech likely wanted to save my son the hell he knew would occur if he was admitted. But in the middle of the night, my son was out of his mind, where would the taxi have taken him? The reason we got our son into our car, instead of the taxi, we did not want him going back to his apt where his wife had called the police on his escalating bizarre behavior. How in God’s name could a psych hospital not be a place to receive support and treatment how to “fix” whatever has caused the brain to spin out? Only by living thru the HELL in Oct 2009 did my family, my son and all his friends who came to visit each of the 10 days he was locked in that psych unit realize what lurks behind the walls. Of course, that young 18 y/o teen who reportedly had not been taking his meds likely had been institutionalized before. He was resisting being taken back for more inhumane treatment, like my son, received. It’s just heartbreaking, Jonah. I have no answers, just sorrow that this is America. I know the horror his mother and step-dad feel. How many young people is this country are we losing each day? My son’s death appears as a suicide, but I have always believed it was more complicated. My son did not feel he had anywhere to turn because he surely must have feared what action we would have taken if he opened up about confessing any suicidal thoughts. We never heard our son, nor did he ever share SI with friends, his family or psychologist, ever, but after the 2nd hospitalization ( in the locked unit is when his SI began) my son kept those dark thoughts to himself. When he should have been freely able to tell any of us what he was experiencing, he must have been trapped in foreboding thoughts up there alone, isolated, and with none of us there to counteract his thinking. It’s just a travesty of unfairness. And never being informed our son, given that drugged, stuporous state he was kept in, had developed both SI and HI, I find the lack of communication from that psych hospital, for a young man who signed his HIPAA waiver so his family could be kept updated, the biggest travesty of all.

    I am keeping an open mind that the Open Dialogue program that Mary Olson PhD is helping bring to the Univ of Mass this year will be the start of improved MH care. You have completely justified reasons why you would never enter another psych hospital, or allow anyone else near one. I do absolutely understand and agree, Jonah. But there will always be people, like my family, trusting and naive how ” the system” works so best a program like Open Dialogue is set up, to offer alternative programs. One thing I have learned on MIA, there is hope to recover from these emotional crises. And HOPE and RECOVERY has to be the theme of the Open Dialogue program. Mary Olson writes the p- doc is just one of the team members who is involved in the patient’s care. P-docs will have to change their behaviors and drugging practices. This could revolutionize psychiatry ( maybe this is my limited and utopia ideations, but I have to believe good rises from such sorrow).

    Health care can’t afford to keep treating the public with such costly psychoactive drugs, so purely from a costs reduction, this program should please the legislators. Certainly, as I have learned any human being can experience a severe emotional breakdown, regardless of what triggered the crisis, I can only hope the public realizes they need a conscientious, caring program to bring their family member, if the situation warrants. Another reason I feel obligated to pursue legal recourse against the locked unit my son was kept in against his will. Otherwise, these institutions continue to practice without consequences and change demanded. (And more young men, like my son and this teen, will die tragic, needless deaths.) Their purpose filled lives taken far, far too soon.

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    • @ larmac,

      I am back online (at least briefly) and must keep my comments brief (so I can stay on track with pressing responsibilities here, at home).

      Your last comment to me (above) is meaningful in many ways. E.g., yes, we have come to agree on various points.

      And, I saw your comment, under Will Hall’s recent post; in it, you indicated that you’ve benefited from listening to the interview he did with Krista Mackinnon.

      As you explain, in that comment, that you spent such a long time going over that audio, it’s obvious that you are on a journey of learning (sadly, after the fact) how your son could surely have fully recovered, had he been armed with better information about what he’d been going through.

      [Note: I do agree with the commenter, skybluesight, when he indicates that good psychotherapy could have helped your son. (From all the details you offer, it seems perfectly clear, he was, from the start, dealing with much more than just effects of cannabis; and, in the end, he was dealing with “hospitalization” trauma.)]

      About your saying,

      I truly pray my son, before he ended his life, forgave me for the tragic decision to get him “compassionate help” which, as you know, never happened.

      Parents make mistakes, not infrequently.

      Sometimes, parental mistakes apparently lead to tragedies.

      And, your son’s life did end in tragedy: but, IMHO, that was not your fault.

      From all the details you’ve offered, I absolutely do not believe you were responsible for your son’s death.

      (Also, from all the details you’ve offered, I feel quite certain that your son would never have wanted you to shoulder the blame for his death, in any way.)

      In my humble opinion, it’s not your fault that your son took his life; and, from all the details you’ve offered, I can only presume that, before he died, he forgave you for any mistakes that you made.

      He well knew that you did what you sincerely believed was best for him, and you were heeding ‘expert’ advice (of psychologists, etc.).

      (Unfortunately, countless psychologists believe in the medical model that’s promoted by psychiatrists.)

      In his suicide note, he wrote, “my choices got me to this point,” and that tells me that he forgave everyone.

      You say, “I feel obligated to pursue legal recourse against the locked unit my son was kept in against his will.” (Frankly, if I were in your shoes, I would feel the same way.)

      Seeking justice is important, even though justice cannot be guaranteed; best of luck…

      And, again, best wishes, to you and yours, in this New Year…



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