On Creating Universes, Killing Cats and Other Odd Things

Maria Bradshaw
42
105

Stephen Hawking believes there are an infinite number of universes and that alien life exists. Nobel Prize winning physicist Neils Bohr’s interpretation of quantum mechanics shows a cat can be alive and dead simultaneously until we fix it in one state through our observation of it. These are ideas that most people would struggle to see as credible science and yet recent literature reviews reveal that physicists are far more trusted than psychiatrists.

In 2009 the WPA President established a Task Force to examine available evidence about perceptions of psychiatry and psychiatrists. The survey shows that overwhelmingly, other medical professionals, patients and their families and the general public have very contemptuous views of psychiatrists and psychiatry.[1]

The studies reviewed show that psychiatrists are viewed as odd, unsure, ineffective, useless and incomprehensible and as “dangerous and manipulative abusers who exploit their patients and abuse their power.”[1]

The negative effects of psychotropic medications by the groups surveyed are perceived as severe and the use of these medications is perceived as coercive, and compromising patient autonomy. The majority of respondents said they would not be willing to take psychiatric medications.

Research into the attitudes of medical students to psychiatry found they do not view it as an intellectually challenging career choice and see it as lacking a solid, authoritative scientific foundation. Their view is that the majority of diagnostic categories are not validated by biological criteria. Their sense is that psychiatry is not “real medicine’; A perception supported by the families of medical students who consider specializing in psychiatry as being “wasted time. Those who elect to train in psychiatry don’t seem to be the cream of the crop given the fact that around 40% of trainees applying to train in the U.K. currently fail to pass the MRCPsych examination.[2]

By contrast, a similar study looking at public attitudes towards physicists found that they are seen as “patient, conscientious, creative and hard working”, with the majority of respondents believing physics makes a valuable contribution to society.

So how are scientists who believe in aliens, multiple worlds, and cats that are alive and dead simultaneously, more trusted and valued by society than doctors who treat mental illness? What has led to widespread contempt of psychiatry? I think Nietzsche held the key when he said that “The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.”

I would argue that the most effective single weapon against psychiatry is psychiatry itself, which exhibits all the hallmarks of its own definition of delusional disorder.

The DSM-5 defines delusions as “fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence.” It notes that

“The distinction between a delusion and a strongly held idea . . . depends in part on the degree of conviction with which the belief is held despite clear or reasonable contradictory evidence regarding its veracity.”

Surely the following statements are fixed beliefs which represent stubborn adherence to beliefs in the face of reasonable contradictory evidence:

“Antidepressants do not cause violence.” [3]

“[Clinical depression is] an illness that can arise spontaneously due to changes in brain chemistry that are independent of life events.” [4]

“Thinking about suicide and even attempting it are very poor predictors of completed suicide. In fact they are highly accurate predictors of not suiciding.” [5]

“Depression involves changes in brain chemistry and can change the way people respond to their world. Antidepressant medicines can correct the imbalance of chemicals in the brain until such time as the natural balance is restored.” [6]

With significant evidence that the above statements are interpretation, not fact, it is hardly surprising that other medical professionals have a dim view of psychiatry and that medical students are not choosing to practice it.

The vexing question is why, if the public have such a negative view of psychiatry and psychotropic drugs, they are not rejecting them as logic would suggest they would.

I’m of the view that science is the new religion and that the doctrines of normality and happiness have become firmly entrenched in our psyches. We have assimilated messages that in this millennium, medical science can ensure we do not suffer emotional pain and suffering just as it spares us from physical pain and suffering. We believe that different is ‘abnormal’ and that abnormality can be cured. Just as in the past – and for some in the present – rejecting God and church attendance is seen as wantonly choosing to suffer eternal damnation, choosing to reject psychiatry and psychotropic drugs is seen as foolishly choosing to suffer a lifetime of misery and a lack of fulfilled potential.

Despite doubts about the existence of God and the motives and rituals of organized religion, people attend church because it is ‘the right thing to do.’ Interestingly, a significant percentage of athiests attend church.

According to the 2000-2010 cumulative General Social Survey data of those who claim to have no religious affiliation, 26% attend church at least once a year, 12% report going at least several times a year, and 2% say they go weekly.[7] A new study out of Rice University has found that almost one out of five scientists (17% ) who describe themselves as either atheists or agnostics attend church.[8]

Their reasons are interesting. They do so as a way of exposing their children to a range of knowledge to allow them to make informed choices about a religious identity. They go to church because their spouse wants them to and they attend because it gives them a sense of community.

It may be that despite people having serious doubts about psychiatry similar forces channel them down the path of mental health treatment. It is likely that just as the church used to be seen as the only path to God, psychiatry is seen as the only scientific path to mental health.  There is perhaps much to be learned from those who promoted and practiced alternative religious pathways.

I think it is a particular form of cruelty to inform people of the risks of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs but fail to offer credible, acceptable, accessible alternatives. For people experiencing emotional distress and suicidal thinking and behavior themselves or in those they love, doing nothing is not an option. Advising people to stay away from mental health providers but giving them nowhere else to go heaps more distress on that that they are already suffering. Evidence of successful outcomes from alternative interventions, including watchful waiting, is critical.

It is easy to state and restate ad nauseum the harms of psychiatry. We all know people who are stuck in this mode. In my view, we need to build on people’s already high levels of suspicion and disdain for psychiatry in the context of providing alternative solutions to the challenge of living happy, fulfilled lives and promoting the notion that human existence cannot and should not be 100% free from pain. We need to tell as many good news stories as we can and let people know that just as there are many paths to God that do not involve hellfire and brimstone, there are paths to relieving suffering and preventing suicide that do not involve forced treatment, brain damaging drugs and engagement with psychiatry.

If Hawking is right, then somewhere in the multiverse, there is a world where intelligent life has rejected psychiatric theory and practice. If, as quantum physics tells us, things are fixed in a particular state by our observation of them, let’s observe the positive and create the world we dream of. And the cat? If it’s the Cheshire one that grins constantly and allows no emotion but perpetual happiness, even this crazy cat lover wishes it dead.

* * * * *

This blog is dedicated to my son Toran Henry, who loved Quantum Mechanics and taught me to love it too. Wherever you are in the multiverse this new year Toran, mum loves you and hopes Shroedinger’s cat curls up beside you and keeps you warm as you sleep at night.


References:

[1] Norman Sartorius, Wolfgang Gaebel, Helen-Rose Cleveland, Heather Stuart, Tsuyoshi Akiyama, Julio Arboleda-Flórez, Anja E. Baumann, Oye Gureje, Miguel R. Jorge, Marianne Kastrup, Yuriko Suzuki, Allan Tasman 2009 WPA Guidance on How to Combat Stigmatization of Psychiatry and PsychiatristsWorld Psychiatry. October 2010; 9(3): 131–144.

[2] Strengthening Academic Psychiatry in the UK. The Academy of Medical Sciences. March 2013

[3] Antidepressant Medication – Clarification by The College of Psychiatry of Ireland 13 May 2010

[4] Sometimes Words Are Not Enough to Lift DepressionIndependent IE. January 8, 2010

[5] Letter from Prof Werry to Tony Ryall, Minister of Health, NZ dated 23 March 2009 and presented in evidence at the inquest of Toran Henry.  Pdf available on request.

[8] Elaine Howard Ecklund, Ph.D. Some Atheist Scientists With Children Embrace Religious TraditionsHuffington Post. December 11, 2011

Previous article“Forgotten Soldiers”: WSJ Exposes VA’s Lobotomies After WWII
Next articleDream
Maria Bradshaw
DelusionNZ: Maria Bradshaw lost her only child to SSRI induced suicide in 2008. Co-founder and CEO of CASPER (Community Action on Suicide Prevention Education & Research), Maria promotes a social model of suicide prevention focused on strengthening community cohesion, addressing the social drivers of suicide and providing communities with the knowledge and tools required to reclaim suicide prevention from mental health professionals. Maria has an MBA from Auckland University and particular interests in sociological and indigenous models of suicide prevention, prescription drug induced suicide, pharmacovigilance and alternatives to psychiatric interventions for emotional distress. Maria has researched and written a number of papers challenging the medical model of suicide prevention.

42 COMMENTS

  1. Wonderful article, Maria. I love this shift in perspective which you are exploring. I especially resonate with this thought–

    “…somewhere in the multiverse, there is a world where intelligent life has rejected psychiatric theory and practice…” Certainly, in my universe, this is the reality.

    I believe wholeheartedly that it is within our power to create any world we want, and I believe that what you put forth, here, to “observe the positive and create the world we dream of,” is how to do it, with conscious focus on that which makes us feel good in our heart, where we feel love and joy on what we focus. Indeed, we have a network of feelings and emotions, some of them uncomfortable and painful, and this is how we know joy, when it flows into our experience. I believe this contrast is vital to creation, and a universal component to being human.

    So to my mind, it all works together, that entire range of our human emotions, and from this, we create a diverse society. I believe if we have full and unequivocal respect for this diversity, both inside and out, and own it and welcome it as part of the reality which we have created, then this diversity will be harmonious. Can we do it?

  2. Oh, you hit the nail on the head in so many ways, Maria. Yes, psychiatrists are delusional by their own definitions. Unfortunately, those who believe in the psychiatric religion share those delusions. In the well-documented face of all the evidence that psychiatric interventions are almost completely worthless, many real people continue to believe in it. To me, it shows that it has become a kind of religion.

    You know, I could repeat a lot of things here that I’ve written elsewhere, but I’ll just say that this article shows me how much we are on the same page on these issues. Thank you for writing it.

  3. Great article !

    “It is easy to state and restate ad nauseum the harms of psychiatry. We all know people who are stuck in this mode”.

    Who me ????

    One of these “doctors” in response to a request for something that actually works on insomnia goes into his cabinet full of samples dropped of by those lie by omission pharma reps and hands me a sample bottle of Zyprexa. When I ask about all those scary side effect medical words written in fine print on the package insert this POS sais “don’t worry it’s safe!” and I trusted him.

    No it’s not safe, http://www.zyprexa-victims.com

    Yes it does cause worse withdrawal reactions than heroin or clonopin , ‘non addictive’ or not.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=zyprexa+withdrawal

    The psychiatric pharmaceutical industry is the largest group of con artists on the planet.

    “I am a doctor and you have a chemical imbalance in your brain and need these pills…”

    Con-man -One who gains the trust, or “confidence”, of his victims (often called marks) in order to manipulate, steal from, or otherwise predate upon them. (U.S. slang, late 1800s)

    Hi,

    We are the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry.

    We say every negative emotion is a mental health problem, caused by a brain chemical imbalance.

    Using little information we are dual diagnosing you as permanetly “ill” Here’s a prescription for several brain-disabling drugs to go with your forever labels.

    You’re now locked into a life-time diagnosis, needing life-time psychiatric “treatment”.

    Now we get life-time payments: either from you or from your health insurance.

    We did this to you without any lab test, brain scan or any procedure known to medical science that shows you in fact “have” the “illness” implied by our diagnostic labels.

    We never get questioned by anyone. And, if the scam is found out, we have peers and attorneys to cover it up.

  4. The very first time I was force medicated with thorazine I couldn’t believe what the drug did .I thought that someone had made a mistake. I sat in a room my head turned up and to the right my neck hurt from the force of the turning as a sensation of the contents of my brain spilling as floating particles and emptying into outer space. When I managed to walk up to the nurses station with my neck and head twisted to the right and tell them that my neck hurt they looked at me as if I was crazy and told me to go sit down. After many hospitalizations ,5 escapes,inevitable self medication attempts , electro-shock, plain torture,too rapid drug withdrawal, a major suicide attempt , meeting the right people with pieces of information I desperately needed after a 40 year harrowing struggle I became a psychiatric survivor. To me it is miraculous. I was extremely fortunate. I’m astounded how much truth and needed resources are kept from the people that need them and the horrible price so many are forced to pay.

  5. Wonderful and important piece. Funny and fun too. An all around delightful read.

    I appreciate the way you broached the issue of our relationship to suffering.

    “I would argue that the most effective single weapon against psychiatry is psychiatry itself, which exhibits all the hallmarks of its own definition of delusional disorder.”

    “The vexing question is why, if the public have such a negative view of psychiatry and psychotropic drugs, they are not rejecting them as logic would suggest they would.”

    “I think it is a particular form of cruelty to inform people of the risks of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs but fail to offer credible, acceptable, accessible alternatives.”

    “In my view, we need to build on people’s already high levels of suspicion and disdain for psychiatry in the context of providing alternative solutions to the challenge of living happy, fulfilled lives and promoting the notion that human existence cannot and should not be 100% free from pain.”

    Awesome!!!

  6. Hi Maria, and others,

    I agree that there are crappy psychiatrists out there. In fact, the doctrine in all of medicine until about 20 years ago was to care for patients in a paternalistic, dismissive fashion because “doctors know best.” I completely understand your sentiments. I believe there are “bad-seeds” in all walks of life, but I’d be hard-pressed to narrow-in on one profession who makes it their life’s work to cause suffering and anguish to the sick and vulnerable. Perhaps in ignorance, yes, but intentionally?

    It’s tragic on so many levels that you and others are painting all psychiatrists with the same evil brush – “sociopaths, con-artists, abusers, non-scientists…” Whoa. Do you really believe that someone would spend 14 years of their life studying and working 80 hours a week with no pay, so that they can manipulate and control people and be “bought” by drug companies? That is faulty logic, folks. True sociopaths are exploitive and poor planners. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen; I’m just saying that it’s irrational to believe that a single profession specifically selects for delusional sociopaths, for example, who are taught to lie and mistreat sick people so that they gain what? These sentiments are similar to “police-bashing,” “doctor-bashing,” and “gay-bashing!” It’s a cruel argument to make, actually. Bully-style.

    What makes it so difficult for people to believe that brain illnesses exist? Every other organ system in the body can break down; why not the brain? It’s exactly this “pull up your socks” attitude that perpetuates the stigma of mental illness, inferring that there is some weakness or “emotional distress” that one just has to change their attitude about. God forbid that they should get sucked-in to the evil vortex of psychiatrists and their wares, and, oh yeah, they should get jobs and stop sleeping on the streets, too.

    Psychiatric illnesses are for the most part invisible and I think that tosses them up in the air for discussion, judgment, and assumptions. There are no laboratory tests for Alzheimer’s or other neurological conditions like Lou Gehrig’s disease either, but do we tell these people to change their attitudes and get jobs? Check out Daniel Amen’s website on the use of SPECT scans to diagnose psychiatric illnesses.

    If you are truly angry about the lot of those with mental illness, and believe me, I’m one of them, lobby government to provide decent, respectful healthcare for the mentally ill, with their god-forsaken lives of misery, poverty, homelessness, and marginalization. Government relies on the fact that the mentally ill cannot advocate for themselves. They call it “autonomy.” Get angry about the suffering, anguish and tragedy that we as a society condone. Turn your anger into something rational, like accepting that mental illness exists and the way it’s treated and judged is a travesty. Stop perpetuating the “pull up your socks” myth and stop saying it doesn’t exist. Suicide is the number two cause for mortality in youth, for God’s sake. Does our society condone treating people with cancer or heart disease this way? Hell no, those are perfectly respectable illnesses that are treated by respectable doctors. Do you really think that all oncologists and cardiologists are saintly and are not influenced by the pharmaceutical industry?

    Psychiatrists don’t make this stuff up. Yes there are alternative therapies, of course, but if you are talking about severe, life threatening psychiatric illnesses with very real mortality rates, psychiatrists save the lives of people every single day with medications. Just like cardiologists and oncologists do. Yes Virginia, there are nasty psychiatrists out there and God help those who are at their mercy. I understand that. Just be rational about it.

    • “Perhaps in ignorance, yes, but intentionally?”

      You mean motives. Mmhmm, there are SOME people with less than healthy, sane, benevolent motives. Rationality itself dictates that such is true!

      Human Suffering has been renamed. It’s new name is “mental illness”. Some things should NOT be medicalized and pathologized, and I think THAT is probably the central message from those of us who hurt & suffer (and who need, want and deserve PROPER help). The next central message is: THE DRUGS HURT PEOPLE, NOT HELP!

      psychiatry is a DRUG delivery system. Diagnosis first, prescription second. I call that the form fitting of a psychiatric cage in one’s head. Or a brain box.

      Who is Virginia?

    • “What makes it so difficult for people to believe that brain illnesses exist? Every other organ system in the body can break down; why not the brain? “

      Yes, give a person a drug that disables the mind, is highly addictive, causes brain damage and you have brain illnesses. And this suppresses trauma that needs to be expressed to be exposed so it can be dealt with and heal. But psychiatry doesn’t address that THIS is where there’s proof of a brain illness, while they talk about one they can’t prove exists.

      And no, the people that actual can relate to people and help them to heal aren’t the ones that just say it’s some attitude problem in contrast to whoever lecturing on attitudes.

      “Psychiatrists don’t make this stuff up.”

      What they “make up” is the proof that mental illness is biological, which they can’t substantiate other than saying drugs that CAUSE chemical imbalance heal it, and then start listing how these drugs interfere with natural working of the mind, and act as if this is treating a chemical imbalance?

      And also the implementation of the biological method only really correlates with MORE mental illness, not less than it. Thus, this whole statement: “if you are talking about severe, life threatening psychiatric illnesses with very real mortality rates, psychiatrists save the lives of people every single day with medications.” this is not supported at all. In fact, psychiatric treatment CORRELATES with a mortality rates, disability, an increase in the disease, with CAUSING physical disease; as well as fear against normal human responses to trauma, which when disabled with “medications” CORRELATE with what I’ve had to repeat too often already.

      “Psychiatric illnesses are for the most part invisible and I think that tosses them up in the air for discussion, judgment, and assumptions. “

      Santa Clause also seems to be “for the most part” invisible, does that make him available for “scientific” discussion and judgment as well. And what ISN’T invisible? What turns up in EVERY test of ANYONE who is put on a psychiatric drug, and is caused by the drug INTERFERING with the mind? Making up something, because you say it’s invisible and thus is up for grabs, doesn’t push to the side that in the meantime you are CAUSING what you yourself have defined as a disease, with the “treatment.” And why is it that this OVERWHELMING evidence that psychiatric drugs cause the brain to break down isn’t seen for what science and statistics show it to be, when it involves “treatment”!?

      “Misery, poverty, homelessness, and marginalization” HAVE NOT been proven to be solved with health care that disabled the mind. Neither did the opium wars fix the economy of China.

      And we’re supposed to be angry that it hasn’t worked, and believe it’s because it hasn’t been implemented enough?

      When whoever is finished being “angry” that I or the rest of us who have this supposed attitude problem don’t follow such guidance (and thus we are the cause), I just wonder whether they are really going to calmly consider all sides of what they are going on about and consider the illogic pointed out? Or are they going to reach for a psychiatric “medication” or another proven controlled substance because perspective causes too much stress in their lives?

      And further more I’m just listing supportable facts, not “bashing” anyone. Bashing someone would be saying they have a disease which I can’t prove exists, forcing treatment on them if they don’t want to believe it after convening with my colleagues as if that constitutes proof, and when all such “healing” methods cause more of the disease try to change the laws so I can do this without having to worry about such annoyances as civil rights. Along with causing, by my own definition of said disease, the very disease I say I’m healing ( a chemical imbalance). OK, sorry, that’s not bashing, that’s one step further than that.

      Bashing then would be implying that people just are unreasonable, stubborn and have a personality flaw when they don’t want to believe that this “brain disease” actually exists without proof, although the method of healing said “disease” HAS been proven to cause brain disease. Etc. !!!

      • I’ll support this by using myself as an example (again).

        I suppose it is true: I *do* have something the matter with my brain. But wait, is it really my brain? I might not ever know!

        I’m talking about a “sleep disorder” and another illness, which had me going to Boston Children’s Hospital (of all places!) nearly 30 years ago.

        My “sleep disorder” wasn’t diagnosed until I was 16 years old. The condition I had in early childhood was NOT properly diagnosed at Boston Children’s Hospital (and STILL is not properly diagnosed today!).

        I’ve been some sick since infancy. I ended up in psychiatry via the foster care system because of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE, NEGLECT & TRAUMA.

        THAT got medicalized and pathologized as some sort of fundamental brain disease. I never, EVER got ANY of the right, good “care” and “treatment” that I deserved (but I invite anyone to prove otherwise).

        >>> Even my cardiac condition is a nightmare and a headache <<<

        The instance of my "sleep disorder" is considered to be a NEUROLOGICAL condition. psychiatry would LIKE to make it such that:

        depression
        anxiety
        psychosis
        schizophrenia
        etc.

        are neurological conditions (aka brain disease).

        Worse yet, so-called sleep disorders are misdiagnosed for "psychiatric", "mental illness" conditions, which makes it MALPRACTICE.

        Look here at "Organic Basis" in *neuropsychiatry*

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuropsychiatry#Organic_basis

        If my "sleep disorder" is neurological then I have to ask if it is DAMAGE since my maternal grandfather survived polio. He had narcolepsy and one of his daughters, my aunt, is legally blind. The particular sleep disorder that I have is attributed to BLIND people (although sighted people do have the RARE condition). If I am correct with my "guesses" then I was *BORN* with this particular condition.

        And the condition that Boston Children's Hospital did NOT diagnose correctly? Well, I was excessively salty and I had a really bad cough. They suspected cystic fibrosis. After weeks of testing (much of it was TRAUMATIC) I was diagnosed with bronchial asthma. Here's what's so interesting:

        I had SEVERE bronchial asthma for as long as I was a MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENT. When I moved out of state, the bronchial asthma suddenly disappeared. I used to have between three to five bouts PER YEAR, from childhood until mid 20's. Each episode lasted between two and three weeks. EXTREMELY painful condition. For the past ten years, I have had bronchitis maybe twice. The one thing I still DO have is excessive saltiness (same as I was when I was a small child). That isn’t psychiatric.

        I have these spasms and I get paralyzed and I twitch and I jolt and I have transfixed staring and my EYES have even been paralyzed and I even stop breathing. NONE OF THAT is “psychiatric”. NONE OF THAT is “mental illness” (although at one point, I did suspect catatonia).

        I can’t tell the difference anymore between which is genuine disease in my body and which is “tardive dyskinesia” INJURY from god-damned psych drugs. I think it is a HORRIFIC, BRUTAL combination of these things and more, such as malnutrition. I’ve known REAL starvation in my life. The human workers of “the state” were hell-bent and determined that I was hiding a cocaine habit. I’ve never touched that vile, loathesome drug in all my life! To have been nearly witch hunted for THEIR sick obsessions, falsely accused!, ALL THE WHILE I WAS ACTUALLY STARVING, just reinforces in my mind the REALITY of ABSOLUTE evil on this planet.

        Plain and simple.

        They are not likely to EVER come forward, admit THEIR errors, apologize and ask for my forgiveness. Isn’t that when I’m supposed to hear the endless laughter?

        I’ve been psych warded SEVEN TIMES in my life. The very last one WAS THE VERY LAST ONE. There will absolutely not ever be any other. While I was homeless, severely malnourished, skeletal and severely sleep deprived (with a life-long sleep disorder AND a cardiac condition) I was actually DYING IN THE STREET and got psych warded!!

        I needed a REAL hospital. I needed REAL medical attention and REAL care.

        Imagine THAT.

        psychiatry is a BRAIN CAGE. It is an OBSTRUCTION to GENUINE medical attention. It is an OBSESSION. A SICK one.

        And it is BRILLIANCE and EXCELLENCE to take from their own language and apply it directly right back to them. It is highly revelatory. I almost always apply things to reality and gee, when I do, it is AMAZING what is revealed, what crumbles and what is left standing!

        Enough of my “soul puking” and “crazy person rambling”. For as much as I’ve said there’s SO MUCH that I haven’t.