Now that biological psychiatry has been discredited, I am championing a pro-suffering cultural shift. It is time to stop pretending that, with the assistance of hoped-for medical “miracles,” we can eliminate everything we are afraid of. It is time that we get over ourselves and appreciate that a full existence as humans is fleeting and full of pain, suffering . . . and beauty.
It is time we stop stigmatizing suffering and engage in our daily lives. It is time we get up and get on with being human. It is time to work as a community on things that actually matter. Poverty, public spaces conducive to congregation, art and play, et cetera. We need places where people can pass through, heal from, overcome and learn from intense experiences. Drug-based psychiatric “treatment” is evidence that our social fabric is fraying because our communities are not engaged in much of anything. We are not engaged in collective purpose or shared values, and the psych-industry’s presentation of “treatment” becomes something people go along with, out of a lack of choice, rather than face suffering in isolation.
Psychiatric disease-model “treatment” isn’t destroying the bodies of our children and eroding the potential of our communities because people believe in it. We know it doesn’t make a lot of sense to consume drugs daily. We know that disease-model “treatment” for so-called “mental illness” is to be avoided.
Why, then, do we accept a reliance on drugs that lower white blood cell counts, cause diabetes, contribute to violent behavior, cause arrhythmia, and cause sexual dysfunction? Why – when research has failed to find it and the supposed treatments don’t work – do we accept that a person “might have a chemical imbalance” when their experience of the world, or their behavior, is inconvenient?
On August 28, 2013 Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, dealt what should have been a fatal blow to the underpinnings of biological psychiatry when he wrote;
“Recently, results from several studies suggested that these medications may be less effective for the outcomes that matter most to people . . . antipsychotic medication, which seemed so important in the early phase of psychosis, appeared to worsen prospects for recovery over the long-term.” (Insel, Thomas. “Director’s Blog: Antipsychotics: Taking the Long View).
Bio-psychiatry is dead and has been intellectually dead ever since its widespread adoption as a medical discipline. Biological psychiatrists are admitting what psych survivors have long been saying. Society ought to lend an ear. The conceptual underpinnings of psychiatry lack validity. After one hundred years we have failed to root out the biological causality of hypothesized “mental illness,” and drug-based “services” have been found to have tragic outcomes by the very people whose purview the “services” are under.
If we do nothing differently, in one hundred years people will wonder why we stood by while kids developed diabetes. People will be dismayed that we allowed the exponential growth of a system whose very promoters, practitioners, and directors conceded is based on an unproven theory and whose validated outcomes include a twenty-five year loss of lifespan for its customers. So, with psychiatry so fully discredited, why is it still with us?
My mind has been to harrowing places, where loneliness, fear, and the bewildering intensity of it all brought me to my knees. Since then, on both voluntary and paid bases I’ve sat with people in the midst of comparable experiences, either not encouraging or actively discouraging intervention with psych drugs. I’m glad I did it; if you can sit with and through terror – your own or someone else’s – you can do just about anything.
But I have to admit that over the past few months my need for self-preservation required me to avoid these types of interactions. It is hard for me to admit this, but honesty compels me to acknowledge that this avoidance is related to the force which drives biological psychiatry. It would be hard for me to blame others’ failures to confront these challenges, knowing that I have gone to the limit of my ability to do it.
Do we need to continue giving power to a phony industry by fighting it through the lens of it being so sad that so many have been brainwashed into believing in it? No one believes in biological psychiatry. There is a powerful distinction between accepting or going along with a practice, and believing in it.
Assignment of blame will not lift us from our profound cultural crisis. This is a conversation about fearing death and loneliness. This is about the self-contempt I feel when I live as a tourist in the ghettos of Connecticut. It is about needing to be loved and needed by others. This is a conversation about life’s fragility and the reality that being human can be horrible. A conversation about doing something as a civilization that has never been done consistently on a large scale. A collective commitment to the well-being of each and every member of society.
It is about not seeing suffering and struggle as signs of deficiency and aberrance, but rather as part of life fully lived. It is about reclaiming the right to be human, and celebrating the experience.
If I blame psychiatry now it is for enabling me to avoid grappling with the scary aspects of life. If I blame psychiatry it is for approving my lack of optimism, and encouraging me to replace inner torment with psych-drugged malaise. I blame psychiatry for shielding me from self-responsibility, when I asked to be shielded from self-responsibility.
This conversation is, ultimately, about not knowing, and a willingness to not know; not knowing what the future has in store or what the answer to all the things we’re afraid of is. It is about being willing to carry on the adventure together. Indeed, history is full of such stories of triumph; a triumph we currently cede to the failed promises of a discredited profession.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.