The safety of our children is a sacred obligation we strive to preserve. Anything or anyone that harms them becomes the object of our distrust and potential wrath.
I want to raise the possibility that psychiatry, for all its accomplished champions like Thomas Insel of the NIMH, may have forgotten the elemental fear people feel for the safety of their children. If psychiatry becomes perceived as a consistently increasing threat to our children, then are its days as a monolithic social institution numbered?
This essay was prompted when I recently had a pronounced visceral reaction of repulsion as I read about dozens of young children being subjected to new MRI brain scan research. Many friends that I shared this research with had a similarly strong negative reaction. The NIMH-supported research article, “Disrupted Amygdala Reactivity in Depressed 4- to 6-Year-Old Children,” was reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The two experimental groups were described as “… depressed 4- to 6-year-old children and their healthy peers.”
The pathologizing process of diagnosing and labeling a 4-year-old child as being a clinically depressed research subject and therefore unhealthy compared to their peers, is done with the assumption that making that medical diagnosis is in the best interest of the child.
It is harmful to assume something is wrong with a young child’s brain when there is no doubt ample evidence that something has happened or is happening in the child’s life, that is causing them distress, to say nothing about the negative effects of a child receiving a DSM identity-transforming diagnostic label and being officially categorized as an exceptionally young mental patient.
Plus, what does a doctor tell a 4-year-old child before the MRI machine starts? “Please hold very still now, because we need to find out if there is something wrong with your brain.”
The children in this research on depression were also described as being “medication-naive.” None of them had been on medications — yet.
If the word “naive” was instead used to mean that the children were innocent, then that would be accurate because a 4-, 5-, or 6-year-old child is indeed innocent and is helplessly at the mercy of the adults who decide what happens to them.
For over 30 years, I’ve known and worked alongside many child psychiatrists. They are some of the most dedicated and caring people I have ever known.
When I would repeatedly protest to them about the dangers of prescribing antipsychotic meds and SSRI’s to children and teens, the psychiatrists often, with true anguish would respond to me by saying, “But Michael, I have to do it! The latest brain imaging research says that psychosis damages the brain, and it has been shown that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin.”
The solid, peer-reviewed research I would then offer, attempting to counter their biochemical, genetic-based, disease model beliefs, would unfortunately not be taken seriously enough to change my psychiatrist coworkers’ minds.
To no avail, I would urge them to consider that valuable scientific inquiry in the broader field of psychology doesn’t have to be limited to only studying genetics and the physical human brain. They shunned the evidence proving the efficacy of psychosocial alternatives to psychiatric medications. They seemed compelled to elevate applied neuroscience as a reified paradigm of understanding and treating human psychological distress.
It should be no surprise that almost all psychiatrists continue to believe what they were taught in their medical training, and believe what is affirmed in every journal they read about the future of psychiatry being applied neuroscience, and that they believe what is repeated to them by every drug company rep who frequently visits them with medication samples.
The path seems to be clear ahead for even more research on preschool children’s brains, because NIMH Chief Thomas Insel has a clear vision that he is determined to make happen.
When he says, “The future of psychiatry is clinical neuroscience based on a much deeper understanding of the brain,” Dr. Insel means that his five-year plan called the Human Connectome Project, that will build a baseline data base for brain structure and activity using MRI imaging is leaving the DSM era of psychiatry in the dust.
The DSM is an embarrassment for a world class research scientist like Insel. But what he envisions is much more ominous for children and everyone else.
Insel’s leadership at the NIMH has the very strong support of forced treatment advocate, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, who says of Insel: “He is the best director we have ever had.”
Insel and newly-elected APA President Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman want to preside over a new era of psychiatry where it gains the stature of any other medical specialty based on hard science. Insel and Lieberman want a research-proven genetic and biological basis for psychiatry, to qualify it as a fully functioning and respected clinical neuroscience.
Dr. Lieberman has recently said in The Scientific American, that vocal critics of psychiatry are “Misinformed or misinforming self-interested ideologues and self-promoters who are spreading scientific anarchy.”
Dissidents such as may appear on Mad in America are dismissed as scientific anarchists by the head of the APA, while President Obama and Congress are hugely bankrolling the new NIMH research on the brain.
The dramatic future for psychiatry envisioned by Doctors Insel, Torrey and Lieberman as a golden age of applied neuroscience appears to be assured.
Is psychiatry, as such a powerful monolithic social institution, truly “too big to fail?” Or is there a hidden vulnerability present in the proud edifice?
I wrote a blog here on MIA a couple of years ago called “I Don’t Believe in Mental Illness, Do You?”
What that means to me is that I don’t believe in the centuries-long medical model project of pathologizing human emotional suffering that is the hallmark of psychiatry.
The medical model never satisfied my answers about the causes and healings from my own experiences of emotional suffering and madness, or spoke to me as a reliable guide in helping the children and adults I provide therapy for.
If I did believe in the medical model, I would surely do what my child psychiatrist friends unintentionally sometimes do — I would risk harming innocent children while truly believing that I am helping them.
What we believe can dictate what we do. But surely our beliefs should not result in children being harmed.
The problem is, that the medical model belief system sets psychiatrists up to be blind to its harmful applications. Psychiatrists who did lobotomies and sterilizations convinced themselves according to medical model tenets, that such harmful procedures were necessary and in the recipient’s best interest.
The fact that child psychiatrists in Australia will actually administer ECT to children under 4 years old, and that antipsychotic and antidepressant medications are given to toddlers in the U.S., is dramatic continued proof of how the treatments dictated by a morally numb psychiatric science are still failing to pass the caregiver litmus test of “First, do no harm.”
Blindly failing that ethical test means that psychiatry is clearly in the process of losing the moral authority to deserve our trust, especially as we learn more of how our children are at risk of being harmed.
So, I have come to believe in recent years that Dr. Insel’s vision and the incredible psychiatric social experiment of pathologizing human emotional suffering will ultimately fail, because psychiatry will continue to zealously and blindly cross a morally repulsive line and forget that a great many people will never accept their children and grandchildren being exposed to danger.
I believe that at some point, those continued treatment excesses with our children will finally cause the general public to lose faith in and simply abandon psychiatry, moving on to a new paradigm of care where the growing demands for safe and nonpathologizing alternatives are met.
The obsolescence of psychiatry may not happen in my lifetime, but you will see the tide turn even more in that direction when a first young blogger appears on Mad in America to proclaim, “I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on antipsychotic medications when I was very young. Please understand, I was only four years old when they started injuring me.”
Your article is an eloquent cri de coeur, a passionate declaration of your faith. However, sadly, your faith that the depravity of psychiatry will lead to its demise is belied by the facts you present in your article. In fact a headline that more adequately conveyed the discussion in your article would have been “Will Psychiatry Continue to Prosper Despite Its Harmful Treatment of Our Children?” Your reasoning leads to that conclusion– or at least to that question.
For example you tell us you have worked with child psychiatrists who are among “the most dedicated and caring people” you know. You tell us when you protest over their giving neuroleptics and SSRIs to children they respond to you “with true anguish”: “But Michael I have to do it.” And you tell us:” The solid, peer-reviewed research I would then offer, attempting to counter their biochemical, genetic-based, disease model beliefs, would unfortunately not be taken seriously enough to change my psychiatrist coworkers’ minds.” Specifically you say,”They shunned the evidence proving the efficacy of psychosocial alternatives to psychiatric medications.”
Presumably this includes the well publicized studies about the harmfulness of neuroleptics, from UNESCO to Harrow, as well as the recent research that Bob presents ( e.g., Wunderink, Open Dialogue), which led to the recent calls for more cautious use of neuroleptics by establishment psychiatrists and psychologists. They must also shun DSM-4 editor Allen Frances’ critique in Saving Normal. They must ignore this statement by Insel (recently cited by Bruce Levine): “For too many people, antipsychotics and antidepressants are not effective, and even when they are helpful, they reduce symptoms without eliciting recovery.”
Whitaker has not called for an end to the medical model. Some of the studies are done by medicalists (as I call them) and their methodology is conservative. Their only nod to phenomenological methods is to include
some “quality of life” indices in their definition of efficacy. Yet they show the drugs don’t work, they cause immense harm–particularly to children– and the diagnoses are not reliable, and pinning a defective brain diagnosis on a 4 year old child sets into motion a self fulfilling prophecy that will handicap her for life –unless she rebels. Had Laura Delano not rebelled instead of Harvard she would still be in day treatment.
One would hoped that the cognitive dissonance caused by the recent studies would lead as Bob hoped to changes in prescribing practices. No instead these child psychiatrists ignore the evidence and continue to drug kids with neuroleptics and SSRIs. They ignore and will continue to ignore studies that show that children will be permanently ruined by chronic ingestion of neuroleptics.
Obviously Michael these “caring” young psychiatrists to whom you refer will not deal with cognitive dissonance by refusing to drug children. You write that “child psychiatrists in Australia will actually administer ECT to children under 4 years old, and that antipsychotic and antidepressant medications are given to toddlers in the U.S.” They will deal with the evidence by ignoring it. Right now psychiatry’s “scientific” status is based upon IOUs and the skillful use of propaganda. They will continue to hide behind a façade of scientific legitimacy, they will read and sign articles that are ghost-written by employees of the drug industry—and, as David Healy showed, they will never see the raw data, only the data after it is massaged by drug industry ghost-writers.
Parents who do not accept their children being drugged will be threatened–as we saw recently in Massachussets– with the removal of their children due to their “negligence.” But how many will
rebel? Most people trust their doctors. What your essay shows us Michael is that “dedicated and caring” (your words) doctors are perfectly capable of acting as functionaries in the psychiatric gulag–no matter how harmful it is to children. This leads to a conclusion that there is no stopping Psychiatry–a conclusion antithetical to the one implied in your title. If even the most caring doctors you know–doctors who are themselves mothers and fathers– will continue to act as Eichmann did– or even Mengele– continue to harm children rather than sacrifice their perceived self interest, upon what do you base your faith that psychiatry’s harmfulness to children will bring about its demise??
Seth Farber, Ph.D.
well, much as I love Mr Whitaker and all that MIA has achieved I still think that concerted non-violent campaigning is the way ahead. That’s invading hospitals and shutting down ECT suite, speak outs outside hospitals, occupations of administrators offices etc etc etc
Here’s little round up of non-violent struggles that might inspire some ideas: http://wagingnonviolence.org/
Whitaker, MIA have never opposed non-violent campaigning.
But what does that have to do with Michael’s piece?
I’m sure it does but what exactly?
I’m saying that journalists and scientific evidence, no matter how comprehensive and disgusting they are in laying out how morally and scientifically bankrupt is psychiatry, which is what Michael’s article says, will probably not be enough to change legislation, public opinion or psychiatric practice.
I think it is likely to need concerted non-violent campaigning.
Forced psychiatric treatment and the drugging of children who have no say in their health being compromised are human rights abuses in my opinion John. If we look at successful human rights struggles, we almost always see a public phase of concerted non-violent campaigning as you say.
Thanks again, Michael
I agree John that non-violent civil disobedience can be a valuable way to effect political change. Thank you for your comment and link.
Best wishes, Michael
I forgot to check the notify box. Sorry. SF
Seth, I don’t believe for a second that psychiatry as a social institution will ever be capable of reforming itself. That would be like the brass at the pentagon and the majority of those in the military industrial complex becoming pacifist Quakers. I believe that ultimately parents and the loved ones of children who are being or have been harmed by psychiatric labels and psych meds, will rebel in large enough numbers to create a wave of political opposition that will forcibly restrict the mistreatment of children and teens via legislation. Young activists like the one I imagine speaking out at the end of my article who were diagnosed bipolar as toddlers and put on antipsychotics, will also be a powerful voice that sways the public against the excesses of psychiatry. Many of us here at MIA are advocates for children’s safety too. Thanks for your comment Seth!
Best wishes, Michael
Michael thanks for speaking out on behalf of the children. Doctors Insel and Torrey really do need to take a think to themselves about the stance they are taking. As a mother and grandmother I am not prepared to let them get away with it. People are desperate and look to doctors for help but there is no excuse for drugging and shocking children. It’s a disgrace. We have to keep speaking out about it until they come to their senses.
They’re clutching at straws because the drugs don’t work so it’s up to us survivors to move forward with alternatives, keep promoting choices for people in distress and altered mind states. Despite their looking in the wrong place for the solution I do believe that the voices of reason will break through and a paradigm shift will happen. There is always hope and I expect to see it in my lifetime.
Yes Chrys, we need to provide truly humane alternatives to medications for children and teens who are in distress. More and more I see parents and family members wanting choice for themselves and their children. A good example is the huge interest in the Mother Bear family recovery organization that Lisbeth Cooper-Riis and Jen Mauer write about here on MIA.
Thanks again Chrys!
Antidepressants: puppies, kittens, babies, comedy clubs, races (drag races and figure 8’s), old movies (W.C. Fields, Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Spanky and Our Gang, Shirley Temple, etc.), exercise (run til you hit the “wall” and then keep going for the endorphine rush), sky diving, mountain climbing, volunteering at the homeless shelter or soup kitchen, music!, fishing, and on and on and on….no drugs necessary.
Or blogging, tweeting, activism, campaigning, Emailing high heid yins, facebooking, writing critical pieces, swearing, marching, protesting, resisting, laughing in the face of it, enjoying irony and a sense of the ridiculous, going in the huff, playing games, sticking your tongue out, being silly, keeping on speaking out whatever comes your way, being persistent and stubborn ….. as I enjoy doing anyway!
Yes Pat and Chrys! These are great lists of drug free anti-depressants.
thank you, Michael
Thanks for this powerful article, Michael.
“Dr. Lieberman has recently said in The Scientific American, that vocal critics of psychiatry are ‘Misinformed or misinforming self-interested ideologues and self-promoters who are spreading scientific anarchy.'”
“Scientific anarchists”? I would take that as a compliment, especially since it is coming from an unscientific authoritarian. Lieberman, the high priest of a pseudo-scientific death cult that poisons little children as an act of faith is accusing non-believers of being ideologues. That is some staggering hypocrisy.
I am very grateful for people such as yourself who have fearlessly worked alongside the delusional (psychiatrists) for the sake of others’ well-being. Doing so must require an amount of fortitude that I do not possess and which I greatly admire. Thank you.
Thank you uprising.
Best wishes, Michael
Having been badly abused by psychiatry myself as a child, of course this article really speaks to me. But I agree with Seth Farber, much as I don’t want to, that I don’t think this overreach by psychiatry will lead to its losing its power. There has to be a political movement that uses these issues to get the public to understand what is going on. Some of this is going on in Boston, with the public uproar over the kidnapping and abuse of Justina Pelletier. I can only hope that this will spread. Right now at this moment I’m not so sure.
Ted, I see in the public response to Justina that the awareness of a young person being mistreated, prompts the kind of innate strong protective response that I am suggesting could multiply and translate into legal protections, if more and more focused attention is put on the plight of children and teens who are being harmed by psych meds and forced treatment.
Thanks for your comment Ted!
Best wishes, Michael
I would endorse Dr Cornwall’s grounding thesis. I share the concerns he so succinctly expresses.
The question as to whether psychiatry’s argued for harming of children will effect its existence as an institution, is an important one.
There are dynamics that would suggest so. Activism by clients of psychiatry is now a powerful force. There are dynamics which suggest we might continue to support what is harming is.
The nexus of these things is clearly complex.
I like the idea that we simply do the right thing, we who see things as does Dr Cornwall. That is we act across a determination that things must so change that the institution Dr Cornwall describes will wither away.
Thank you ColinB897 for your comment. I’m glad you share the concerns that prompted me to write this blog post.
Berst wishes, Michael
I was first taken, forced into a mental hospital when I was 16 years old because I believed I must be the messiah.I committed no crime.If all the psychiatrists in the world simply applied to each other all the tortures that psychiatrists as well as social workers yes social workers medical doctors and dentists applied to me, on and off till I was 55 years old, only leaving out for themselves, physically escaping 5 times from mental institutions like I did in desperation and in longing for free air. The handful of them left alive would be scuffling mindless zombies. But there would be none of them left carrying out torture on ever younger children in exponential numbers today.
Education polishes stones and dims diamonds but psychiatry and medical care seeks to brain damage the best and brightest of our children at inception or before or as soon afterwards as possible.
The only logical thing is to ???????????? Sadly ,Tragically, Seth is right. Dr. Michael Cornwall how can you help us ?
Thank you for your powerful comment Fred Abbe. I am glad you survived all you faced from such a young age. I hold onto hope that there will be a moral tipping point where society says never again to what happened to you and to the children who now begin that nightmare as toddlers.
Best wishes, Michael
Here is an excerpt from Time magazine Feb 24 2003 an essay by Lance Morrow titled The Real Meaning of Evil.
Evil , these critics say,is in any case such an elusive term that it can only cause mischief in human affairs and has a way of evaporating-or turning into something else as time passes. Toward the end of World War I, when labor unions threatened strikes in England, Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill sternly blamed “evil and subterranean influences”, meaning ,he said, “pacifism,defeatism and Bolshevism.” Of course, the real evils of World War I, which slaughtered an entire generation of Europe’s young men,were obdurate military stupidity,the effectiveness of newly industrialized war and a monstrous official indifference to the value of human life.(A neglected dimension of evil, by the way, is stupidity.)
But even if it’s elusive and even if the term is used brainlessly, evil is still there-a mystery, a black hole into which reason and sunshine vanish but nonetheless…there. Talk to the children with chopped-off hands in Sierra Leone. It is as fatuous to deny the existence of evil as it is to toss the word around irresponsibly. The children of the Enlightenment sometimes have an inadequate understanding of the possibilities of the Endarkenment. The question is how evil exists, how it works.
Go back 40 years to the controversy that surrounded Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, a study of the Adolf Eichmann trial, in which she coined the famous phrase “the banality of evil.” Arendt did not seem satisfied with the term and afterward wrote in a letter to a friend (the great scholar of Jewish mysticism Gershom Scholem), ” It is indeed my opinion now that evil is never ‘radical’, that it is only extreme,and that it posses neither depth nor any demonic dimension. It can overgrow and lay waste the whole world precisely because it spreads like a fungus on the surface.” This was what W.H. Auden meant: “Evil is unspectacular and always human/ And shares our bed and eats at our own table.” The normality of evil.
The truth about evil that needs attention now is its shallow ,deadly,fungus quality.Nice people-especially in a tiny , multicultural world in which different civilizations inhabit different centuries- are often moved to evil deeds,like blowing up the Other.Don’t bother demonizing people as being inherently evil (as Satan is evil). That’s not how it works. Opportunistic evil passes like an electric current through the world and through people, or wanders like an infection that takes up residence in individuals or cultures from time to time.
Distance once helped dampen the effects of human wickedness, and weapons once had limited range . But evil has burst into a new dimension. The globalization,democratization and miniaturization of the instruments of destruction (nuclear weapons or their diabolical chemical-biological stepbrothers)mean a quantum leap in the delivery systems of evil. This levels the playing field- and the level field has fungus on it. Every tinhorn with a chemistry set becomes a potential world-historical force with more discretionary destructive power at hand than the great old monsters, from Caligula to Stalin,ever had. In the new dimension, micro -evil(the dark impulse to rape or murder,say) and macro-evil (the urge to genocide) achieve an ominous reunion in any bid for the apocalyptic gesture. That’s the real evil that is going around.
But why? Society does not see it as an evil that it is willing to tolerate. It sees it as a positive good. The good liberals who demand “moral parity” believe it is evil that makes us unwilling to pay for the treatment of “the mentally ill.” You tell us that the child psychiatrists you know are deeply caring people who also feel a moral obligation to give children drugs. And even you — you say– “would surely do what my child psychiatrist friends unintentionally sometimes do – I would risk harming innocent children while truly believing that I am helping them”–if you believed in the medical model. Why do you think Michael that “the parents and loved ones of children” would be the vanguard? I have met many of these parents. They DO believe in the medical model, they do trust their doctors. They usually demand their children have the right to be given “meds.” They regard people like us as dangerous and deluded fanatics who are against “science.”
You have given us a powerful illustration here Michael of how people can do evil things while being confident they are doing the moral good. You say they do this because they believe in the medical model. Why should the NUMBER of children matter when the perpetrators believe they are acting in childrens’ interest? If the number of children given drugs would not change your child-psychiatrist friends, would not lead them to doubt the medical model, why would it have this effect upon the “parents and the loved one of children.” I’m not saying this might not be true, I just don’t see the logic. It seems likely that your psychiatrist friends would read the Bureau of Child Psychiatry report and say, “We are now catching schizophrenia at an early age and treating it before it damages the brains of children. You see Michael how much good psychiatry does for our children?” The numbers “treated by” Psychiatry would not make the medical model less viable.
Note Michael that Bob Whitaker’s hope is based on completely different premises than yours. He envisions a different scenario. He thinks the revolt must come at least partly from above. Reading the Wunderink study he thinks it is possible that psychiatrists will refuse to carry on as usual. They will see the need for a reformed medical model. They will be convinced by the data. But your answer to Bob seems to be that they will not even read Wunderink! If I understand you correctly, you believe the powerful tropes and rhetoric of the medical model (see Bradley Lewis’ Foucauldian analysis) are sufficient to compel or at least permit belief among child psychiatrists. Why should it be any different among parents? Bob seems to think the doctors will be more influenced or as influenced by the evidence than the parents, since the later are even less likely to read Wunderink?
It would be interesting to see you and Bob debate the topic. Bob believes the evidence will lead Psychiatry to change. You believe parents will lead a revolt that will lead society to “restrict” (but not end?) the mistreatment of children.
The first question to you would be, “Why should the numbers make any difference? Would parents not say: Psychiatry is saving more children from “schizophrenia” and catching bipolar earlier? “What factors will enable parents– who have less access to the studies than child psychiatrists, and have deferred to medical expertise for close to 2 centuries– finally be able to see beyond the veil of the medical model, and revolt?
Why have Bob and you–who have the same moral outrage–come to such different conclusions about what might lead to change, such different scenarios about the process of change?
EXCUSE ME. My last response appeared under Fred’s powerful quotation but the question were addressed to Michael.
Both you and Fred replied to Micheal. Both posts can’t be directly below one post at the same time. If you follow the indentation, you’ll see which post is a reply to which post. It may get a bit confusing.
Thank you Hermes!
I personally do not believe that Bob is correct when he thinks that psychiatrists will reform themselves when they see all the evidence. Very few even look at the evidence from the real studies about all this. It’s the rare psychiatrist who doesn’t have a closed mind to the evidence. They ignore it with impunity and go right on drugging people with the backing of the legal and law systems.
I also do not believe that parents are going to wake up and smell the coffee and proclaim a grand revolt against the system. I remember riding the city bus one day and listening to a young mother state that her two year old daughter was “bi-polar” and had to be on the “meds” and that she got a government check because her daughet was going to be ill for life. I almost jumped up and screamed at the top of my lungs but didn’t because I knew that it wouldn’t do any good. Some of my best friends are drugging their children at the instigation of psychiatrists. We no longer discuss this because they’re such believers in the system and I’m a former “mental patient” so what do I really know?
Ex-patients and survivors of the system are going to have to be the ones to stand up and drive this revolution forward. We can’t depend on psychiatry coming to its senses nor can we rely on parents discovering some good and common sense about all this. It’s up to us to do what must be done to change what’s happening. We have no one else to depend on.
Seth, I see dissident psychiatrists like Peter Breggin, Dan Fisher, Brad Lewis and others, playing a crucial role in legitimizing an alternative model to the psychiatric model, but as I said, I don’t believe there are or will be enough dissident psychiatrists like them to reform the social institution of psychiatry consisting of almost 25,000 MD’s whose average national income is $177,520- from either the inside or the outside. Not that status and money are the key factors, but that the belief in psychiatry as applied neuroscience is so ingrained from med school on, that it won’t give way to a psycho-social paradigm of care and underlying assumptions about the causation of human emotional suffering being adopted by more than a small fraction of psychiatrists.
So I have been tuning into where then, will the change agents in sufficient numbers come from. Like with the dissident psychiatrists , I see the advocates and activists like yourself and many of us with lived experience and those who are psychiatric survivors, represented on MIA as another huge force that will be part of an eventual collapse of psychiatry, but that the most powerful sleeping giant that will bring a moral authority of tangible political power will be parents and loved ones of children who will finally say no more.
A mobilization of parents and loved ones on the scale of NAMI will emerge to get laws like Kendra’s and Laura’s laws passed to outlaw the wholesale drugging of children and minors instead of legalizing forced community treatment like those NAMI co-created laws have done.
Imagine a Justina’s law.
In the first line of my article I said that protecting our innocent young ones is a sacred obligation. There is an innate, visceral emotional response of outrage I hear when I tell about the children I know who are drugged into submission. Innocence is numinous. We are hard wired as mammals also to protect our offspring. It is the most powerful instinctual mammalian response.
I am counting on the archetypal, sacred obligation to protect innocent children that is inherent in our social contract, and our primitive animal protectiveness to stop psychiatry from harming our children.
Michael yes I agree wholeheartedly as a mother of 3 sons who have been taken in hand by the psychiatric system, and now a psychiatric survivor activist and human rights campaigner, that we have the power and the right to say no more and to demand system change. We are the drivers of this change and it is a sacred trust.
I am speaking out in the land of my birth, Scotland, and will not be silenced. It’s a matter of justice and I deserve to be heard. There are many ways, I believe, to have a voice and to make a difference. We can work with psychiatrists to bring about change, equals at the table, and we can also lead the way by example.
I also believe that government ministers are key protagonists, public servants who have to be reminded of whom they serve and what their duties are. Then there are the government workers in lead roles who can be influenced and guided by our campaigns, and the fact that we won’t “shut up and go to bed” (as I was told by a mental health service user leader).
Some people have got to like their high positions in the user movement and have forgotten where they came from and who they should be fighting for. I, and others, am here to remind them. We can’t let any of them get away with it. This is too important a cause and mission to be taking our eye off the ball. We are not alone in our struggles and this is an encouragement.
Well you are certainly right about psychiatry. But over the years the only group that has come out in large numbers have been those who experienced it–the survivors. But I don’t see parents coming out. My friend John Breeding PhD has had a group of parents you probably know, but I don’t think it’s grown much.
On MIA I believe parents are a small %. People want to continue to believe in doctors. They just do not see it as the violation of innoce nce–to the contrary. So unless it is their child the motivation is not strong enough to break the spell–even then it takes a lot. It’s hard to believe the 60s happened here.
I think of my parents. Here it is 6 years later and copious evidence but and they still will not face the fact that Obomber is not the person he pretended to be in 2008. They just listen to his propaganda on MSNBC. Also psychiatric survivors feel a kinship with other survivors but you don’t see many parents coming out on behalf of children in general.
If one were to build such a movement one should start with African Americans. It used to amaze me when I spoke to them. Unlike white parents they never wanted their kids on drugs. Right away they smelled a rat. Breggin used to get standing ovations when he spoke in Harlem.
I come at this topic from an autistic locus (in Scotland). Professional experts and managers then tend to be persons on “another side of things”; certainly in settings of care and education regulated by the State and much funded by the State. Some parents, some staff, and some professionals; then get drawn into advocating for those on the autistic side of things.
While the autistic is not medicated per se, many presentations (such as anxiety, effective depression, sleeping difficulties, impulsivity) accompanying the autistic are medicated; and there is a current impulse to intervene very early.
It is then arguable that an autistically characterised activist community is emerging. This emergence much mediated by: parental impulse to protect children from harm; parental impulse to see the world changed to better accommodate their children.
It seems to me that what is there happening at this autistic locus, is well positioned to bring about the change Dr Cornwall is looking to. I then think that the frame of reference being developed to secure such change, would generalise and be of use to other constituencies: such as those currently seen and treated as schizophrenic or bipolar.
I would then be optimistic about the dynamics favouring change; even while being realistic about the dynamics which would see us remaining on a “business as usual” trajectory.
Every day, in an educational and care setting, I see young autistic people robustly scenting and demanding what Dr Cornwall looks to. This push factor is vigorous and massively powerful, it driven by and rather reflecting the general changes taking place in our collective life. It’s sensory and socio-political palpability and ground draws in allies beyond parents.
The experts and managers can win every battle, in the sense of overpowering each individual they manage to isolate and define and treat diagnostically: but the line they try to impose and hold is constantly being pressed and pushed back; and they will eventually lose the war (against perceived unhealth) they engage in. As Dr Cornwall suggests, the paradigm they use to inform what they do, is not sufficiently fit for purpose.
Chrys, you certainly are one of the strong advocate parents and mothers I always think of when I imagine a growing force of opposition to children and teens being harmed by psychiatric treatments. Plus you always have the vision of humane alternatives at the ready to provide tangible hope for the future where our young ones can get their needs met!
Best wishes, Michael
Thank you for your encouraging comment ColinB897, about the broad based coalition of advocates you see being possible.
Best wishes, Michael
Michael thanks for your positive response.
I want to advocate on behalf of other mothers and parents who have been persuaded by psychiatry that mental illness is real and drugs are the answer. I think the pressures are great if you have a child or young person in mental distress, and the system tells you what you must do. A good parent will want to relieve the distress and this can lead to trusting the professional who shares the burden.
The difference with me is that I’ve been in the system, diagnosed and medicated, which wasn’t a positive experience and therefore I’m not inclined to believe psychiatry. In fact I will always resist when possible and look for a better way. There has to be a better way that doesn’t involve giving psychiatric drugs/medication to children. And here’s where the campaigning comes in.
Totally agree Stephen.
I have told people that even if the Harrow study totaled 50 years of patients doing better off an antipsychotics than on them, it wouldn’t matter since most psychiatrist just don’t want to believe that people can function better without meds.
Wow, putting a two year old on bipolar meds. Essentially, that kid’s life is destroyed. How heartbreaking.
The awful and horrible fact is that an entire generation of people are being destroyed at the instigation of psychiatry and the drug companies. We can’t even begin to count up the losses to our society and to humanity due to the drugging of children.
That is so very tragically true Stephen. We have to stop it somehow.
Yes, AA. Antipsychotic meds are reported to destroy brain volume at 1% a year.
The 5 year olds I know on meds will have lost 10 percent of their brain cells by the time they are 15.
My heart breaks for them as does yours.
Best wishes, Michael
Chrys’ insightful comment I think enhances my understanding of the problem.
The problem is that once the child is labeled the parents have a problem that requires a solution.
AS Chrys points out very few parents had the reaction she had as a survivor. In other words the desire to help children benefits those who want to build up psychiatry–not to build the opposition. Once the child is labeled the white middle class parent does not doubt the child has a problem. Don’t forget EARLY SCREENING is presented as a program to prevent future problems. Even the left(those most critical of society) will often accept this as a humanitarian program opposed only by anti-psychiatrists and stingy Republicans–and demand more money for these “humanitarian” mental health programs. In this environment left-wing or liberal forces are easily coopted by astro-turf movements like NAMI.
Furthermore the labeling often makes the child symptomatic. Chrys writes,”I think the pressures are great if you have a child or young person in mental distress, and the system tells you what you must do. ,A good parent will want to relieve the distress and this can lead to trusting the professional who shares the burden. ” Exactly.
What alternative does the critical psychiatry movement have? I prefer to use the term “anti-psychiatry” but many people in our camp will reject it, so I’ll alternate/ In other words, to paraphrase David Icke, they have created the problems–but they are also there to provide the nervous parents with a solution. Icke calls it, “problem, reaction, solution.” In this situation the anti-drugging forces do not APPEAR as the protector of innocence, but as opponents of services for the disadvantaged!
We are trying to persuade the parents there is no problem. Or that the problem lies in the school system Or psychiatry. Or society. Or them!! How many white parents want to hear that. (I mentioned above how different black parents are.) NAMI will say, “There they are–blaming the parents again.”
Here in NYC it is usually impossible for a distressed or labeled ADULT to find a psychiatrist who will agree not to drug the patient or to help them get off drugs. The critical psychiatry psychiatrists usually either do not see patients, or do not take insurance–one such “holistic” doctor will put her patients on vitamins (not drugs) but she insists upon weekly visits for which she charges $425.
I think Michael and I agree: The system creates the problem. But the problem exists and we don’t have a “solution” that is acceptable. While psychiatric drugs will destroy the child in the long run, in the short term it appears as a solution because it makes her more obedient. So it is the destroyers of innocence who appear as the protectors of innocence. This is the dynamic of our upside down world that I think Michael and others are overlooking. Chrys writes,. ” I will always resist when possible and look for a better way.” Exactly the way I feel. Probably the majority of us here were–like Chrys–rebels from a young age.
Most middle class and working class white Americans were not.
Seth Farber, Ph.D.
Thanks again Seth for your wise and thoughtful contributions to this conversation about the care of our children and the future of psychiatry as a social institution. I’d hoped this article would prompt such a conversation with MIA writers like you and Chrys, and the other commenters. It has been well received on Facebook, with almost 550 “Likes” and over 1060 views here on MIA. I wish it had been featured here on MIA because more parents and people may have benefited from exploring the issues it raises.
Best wishes, Michael
I see a couple major problems, which it seems Chrys and Seth are touching on. First, society as a whole, trusts in mainstream medicine. And mainstream medicine has taken psychiatry under it’s wings, and given psychiatry legitimacy. Mainstream medicine, in my opinion, needs to begin distancing themselves from psychiatry if they are to keep their credibility in the long run. No one yet has mentioned mainstream medical doctors as a force for change, but I believe they could and should be.
I agree, psychiatry creates the “problem,” there’s a “reaction,” then the psychiatrist comes in with the “solution.” But I’ve found that those who are unaware of how ungodly sick psychiatric drugs can make a person, can’t comprehend or believe “trusted doctors” would ever give an innocent child (or anyone) drugs that could cause “mania, suicides, and violence” or atrophy of the brain at 1% per year, or diabetes, or breast growth in little boys, etc., etc.. What the psycho / pharmaceutical industries have been doing for the past several decades is so evil, it’s simply incomprehensible for any decent person to even believe, especially given all the pharmaceutical industry propaganda. Chrys, is a unique mother, because she had lived experience so understood.
And Stephen, I agree it’s heartbreaking, “an entire generation of people are being destroyed.” I keep hoping I can stop being shocked by the magnitude of the psychiatric industries’ current crimes against so many children (and adults). It’s so disgusting it blows my mind, and it’s so difficult to get others to understand how serious the damage they are doing may turn out to be to humanity in the long run.
And it is this fraud of psychiatry, pretending they know what they’re doing, when in fact they don’t know how their drugs will affect the human race in the long run, that is so frightening to me. Today’s psycho / pharmaceutical industries’ could actually be destroying the human race as we know it, for their short term profits and ego trips. No one knows. But you are right, Michael, “We have to stop it somehow.” Thank you for the article – and please try to get mainstream doctors to stop advocating psychiatric quackery.
Thank you for your powerful comment Someone Else. As an Army medic 50 years ago, I started working alongside mainstream doctors. I agree with you that now psychiatry is becoming more legitimate in other MD’s eyes- I would say probably that is happening because of psychiatry reinventing itself as applied neuroscience.
Best wishes, Michael
I look to what Foucault examined as madness and deviance for resource. Resource to resist.
There is something of a system in place and running in human collective life. In some of its aspects that system is monstrous, and not open to being immediately combatted.
As the process of that system bears on individuals who resist it, we encounter the constituency who implement and sustain that system, and we encounter that constituency who resist that system.
The butcher’s shop of that system’s suppression of those who resist, is also the laboratory and workshop of the means of resistance.
The interface is asymmetric, and the means of resistance being forged are not on open display; but rather must be sought out by those with an interest in them.
What we then require are the meta-perspectives of resistance. Frames of reference which recognise and valorise the resisting the system sets out to grind into oblivion. Frames of reference which can recognise and retrieve and makes use of the means of resistance forged by those in the grinder.
But Someone Else thinks mainstream doctors might become a “force for change” re Psychiatry. That will not happen. Besides although medicine is not as bogus as psychiatry it too is corrupt. The AMA is not much better than the APA. The drug companies and insurance companies have turned all of medicine into an industry.
ColinB makes some brilliant points. Foucault’s writings are prophetic but the system has gone beyond anything Foucault imagined. You write: “What we then require are the meta-perspectives of resistance.” We have meta-perspectives—of heroic resistance, not yet of effective resistance
because the system has no bounds–there is no inside that remains a sanctum .
Are you aware of groups of “targeted individuals”? MK-Ultra was never stopped. When Church Congessional committee outlawed such experiments in the 1970s, they simply went underground. They now have the ability literally to read people’s minds and put voices in their head through Voice to Skull technology using electro-magnetic or microwaves wave frequencies. This technology has been written about by Robert Duncan who has MIT doctorate and interviewed 600+ targeted persons. Here is the description by European Coalition against Covert Harrassment. This describes video that you can watch online :Using detailed research, the EUCACH.ORG panelists—Magnus Olsson, Dr. Henning Witte, and Melanie Vritschan– describe Transhumanist Agenda that is now using advanced scalar technologies, super quantum computers, a quantum cloud, a super grid of over 1000 grids that is connected to HAARP for global coordinated mind control of a growing population of human robots that are created via these technologies for a global control and enslavement agenda. EUCACH.ORG Panel
Magnus Olsson, Dr. Henning Witte, and Melanie Vritschan, three experts from the European Coalition Against Covert Harassment, revealed recent technological advances in human robotization and nano implant technologies, and an acceleration of what Melanie Vritschan characterized as a “global enslavement program”.\
People ARE resisting but they cannot yet stop the invasion of their brains. But they resist.
Seth, I think I’ve reflexively retreated from the material plane of things, across my biographical development. I think I’ve done so as reaction and response to the degree of asymmetry involved in the spectrum of empowerment. The material and what stands around it representing an extreme of a type of empowerment; those seen as unhealthy across diagnosis representing an extreme of a type of empowerment.
Foucault then seems to me to make a good fist of considering how discourse plays crucial part in mediating that spectrum of empowerment.
The fundamentally disempowered are then not passive non-agents in all of this. Across their existentiality those who are so disempowered resist the power that disempowers them.
That resistance is active and intelligent. It scans and evaluates the disempowering environment. It researches the ground and dynamics of the disempowering power; it researches what countervails that power. It is a deeply empirical activity.
That activity yields sensing and cognition and theorising with potential to countervail the disempowering power. What is so produced has to then be retrieved from the overall field where an environing power will nonetheless grind on to effectively destroy the capacity of the individual to produce such countervailing resource.
That grinding destruction is crucially mediated by the discursive process which Foucault points to. Psychiatry (as we currently find it) and other disciplinary projects are crucial components and players in that discursive process. Psychiatric perception and understanding constitutes a knowledge prism which deconstructs and reconstructs what countervails the disempowering power, in realtime. What in fact and truth countervails the disempowering power, is reconstructed by psychiatry as symptom and indicator of unhealthy; psychiatry thereby eviscerating the ground of effective countervailing.
In this patient/client-psychiatrist interaction and exchange, the patient-client faces defeat in any immediacy; but the countervailing resource can be saved. That saved resource then embedded in the being of the persons coming out the other end of the healthcare grinder.
The crucial matter then, is to retrieve the saved resource; the very human and existential moment of effective resistance. Effective micro resistance. People have to recover themselves around and across such retrieved moments and resources. Groupings and movements and systems have to be built around and across that recovery and retrieval.
Sympathetic Professionals and concerned parents and allies, can pre-empt the destruction of the resisting individual, can prevent the destruction running its course.
Effective micro-resistance can involved the destruction of the resisting individual. What arises in the field of such micro-resisting can be streamed into what takes on macro force.
The question then is what is involved in the meta-resourcing of that streaming. Clearly that meta-resourcing is counter-cultural, because what it intends opposes what a prevailing culture is mediating.
My sense is that the seed-insight for that meta-resource is already in play in the existentiality of those psychiatry sorely treats.
“The material and what stands around it representing an extreme of a type of empowerment; those seen as unhealthy across diagnosis representing an extreme of a type of empowerment.”
“The material and what stands around it representing an extreme of a type of empowerment; those seen as unhealthy across diagnosis representing an extreme of a type of disempowerment.”
Thank you again ColinB897 for your important contributions to this ongoing discussion. Examining the broad social, interpersonal and personally subjective processes involved in how mega social institutions are gradually evolved, and then may be gradually or dramatically transformed, is very valuable as we think about how psychiatry may be effected by a revolutionary process of change.
ColinB897 Thanks for your lucid analysis” . “Groupings and movements and systems have to be built around and across that recovery and retrieval.”
” It researches the ground and dynamics of the disempowering power; it researches what countervails that power. ”
“The question then is what is involved in the meta-resourcing of that streaming. Clearly that meta-resourcing is counter-cultural, because what it intends opposes what a prevailing culture is mediating.”
What is IT that countervails that power? It is NOT power. It is the opposite of the power Foucault so well describes. It is love, a culture based upon love. I don’t know if Foucault ever acknowledged his mistake..He engaged in a performative self contradiction since his critique–and it was a critique– assumed something outside and beyond the will to power. It must be love– which presumes ontological equality . Such a resourcing is INDEED counter-cultural. Its contestation must be more than local. It must be universal, metaphysical, it must be based upon a vision cosmic in its scope–it must constitute a counter-culture. The 60s Resistance knew this –before it became sectarian. For example “Make love, not war.” The feminists knew this: “The personal is political.” Love is the basis for a critique of domination, for an alternative culture.
My latest book argues that premise–and argues that the anticipation of a radical counter-culture, the “seed -insight,” can be found in the visions of the Mad. (“My sense is that the seed-insight for that meta-resource is already in play in the existentiality of those psychiatry sorely treats.”) To abdicate such a vision in favor of single issue campaigns has been the doom of the anti-psychiatry movement, of the survivors’ movement. The Mad movement betrays its calling when its chooses identity politics over universality, rationality over its own utopian-messianic vision of human– of cosmic –redemption.
If you allow that I am riding the dragon of your existential impulse Seth. I very rarely have the opportunity to have my impulse play out in the locus your investing. So I can better understand my positioning in terms of where I’m coming from, than I can fully grapple with the horizon of perspective which you open up.
I understand myself in terms of resistance by an isolated individual. I understand those I support, in terms of their resisting when isolated by the machination of collective process and its power. I sense and think-about and theorise-about and talk-about the nexus of this, in terms of an autistic-social dynamic. My life concern is autistic-survival: where the exigency in this is so great, and the mechanics of the autistic-social dynamic so fills the existential foreground; that I am pinned down in the immediacy of resisting and surviving.
The consequence then is that I do not articulate (with discourse) the genre of broader contextualising perspective that you do.
This perspective obtains for me aesthetically (cf. Daniel Tammet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pzd7ReqiQnE ) or emotionally. There it has ontological and epistemological dimension (so satisfying your condition that “Its contestation must be more than local. It must be universal, metaphysical, it must be based upon a vision cosmic in its scope–it must constitute a counter-culture.”). However, that perspectivising is predicated on and consumed in the resisting of a moment, and is never positioned to become structural across the ever-shifting dynamics of the autistic-social nexus.
I understand why you associate the construction “identity politics” with such moments of playing out.
I then understand the position of an autistically situated constituency to be relatively benign compared to the exigency of constituencies aggregated across other diagnoses and treatments. I see their point-present struggle for survival and the continuance of resistance, as more onerous. The point then being that structural or metaphysical outcome is then even less possible than with the autistic. Seed-insight is consumed as it arises, and it is fundamentally difficult to stream evidence of it out of a consuming inferno. Counter-culture here takes on terrible existential form.
I’m not sure what the impulse to resist and survive translates to. On one interpretation it translates to an integrity dynamic. We have evolved as earth-bound sentient creatures, and perhaps a radical integrity dynamic simply cleaves to the truth of what we have evolved to be, and refuses to partake of collective mythology. Maybe that sense of things comes close to what you phrase as ontological equality.
In the sense that cleaving to the truth of what we have evolved to be, would be optimally functional: then we would there have effective caring; and perhaps that caring merits the term love.
I think we may be dealing with echoes of the same events in human life. You articulating what you derive from these echoes on a cosmic and universal horizon; you concerned that bettering macro-effect should emerge. Myself concerned that the existentiality of the individuals embedded in events should not be overwhelmed in this moment.
So much to ponder in Michael’s blog and the comments that follow ,their truths still turning in my mind especially the exchanges between Seth and Colin ,with my dictionary in hand their voices like poetry .What an exchange !
So what have I retrieved as a resource for healing and/or resistance?
and who will hear or even believe or understand how it is useful, no one I know of for sure so far but me. 1. The path of persistence and determination 2.Prayer, We’ve all heard the saying ” There are no atheists in a foxhole.”3.Helping others along the way. 4. 37 years ago I discovered that swallowing 1200mg.of flushing niacin for body weight of 180lbs. and entering a hot bath tub of water with 6 handfuls of batherapy the green mineral bath formula not the original and rubbing the body with a foot long luffa is very helpful for extreme state of 2 days of no sleep,with unwanted voices,and stress. 5.I found I could make a gemstone tranquilizer necklace much more powerful than anyone could imagine that can take a person too stressed out to sleep into a meditative empty mind state within 20 minutes (Baltic amber big chunks),amethyst, rose quartz, and lapis.) 6. That energy healing is for real ,the most remarkable method I learned was YuenMethod. With help from exceptional teachers I also taught myself Homeopathy, Traditonal Naturopathy and other natural modalities the most valuable for me was Hal Huggins protocol dentistry (removal of mercury fillings and root canals and checked for cavitations)see Paracelsus Klinic ( Dr. Rau). also specific herbal formulas Bach Flower Remedies, fresh made vegetable and dark green leave green juices or smoothies ,and along with what Dr. Michael Collins knows along with Will Hall and recommendations from Beyond Meds and other survivors I believe a guerrilla survival kit can be created that could work almost anywhere a person could find shelter even their own apartment ,preventing interventions by the bio psych gulag dragnet. I have put these things out before to others who basically grew silent and showed no real interest.There is more to say. I hope this is of help to those who have need and that our enemies see all this as inconsequential and those souls still battling have not been harmed by our honest conversation.Of course Bob Whitaker’s 2 books are of great value. I look forward to reading more of all of your writings .Read “Sick and Tired” by Robert Young . In Solidarity, Fred
Thank you Fred Abbe for sharing your valuable healing and/or resistance resources.
I appreciate learning about what helps you that may also help me and others in the days ahead.
Best wishes, Michael
Coming at this late Fred: been pinned down in a draining difference of opinion at work; should children in their autistic foxholes have their perspectives heard and respected, or should they be seen as getting it wrong when they disagree with those exercising authority over them.
Your “who will hear or even believe or understand how it is useful, no one I know of for sure so far but me”, applies there. The perspicacious perspective they come to in their existential foxholes, so exquisitely tailored to meeting their own needs to survive and thrive, that its veracity simply passes unnoticed and un-noted through the membrane of interface with a contextualising collective.
Your reference to prayer sees me thinking in terms of “faith”. I’m thinking of ontology and epistemology in one person. It strikes me that what provides individual integrity in the foxhole, is akin to the collective ontological/epistemological exercise being run within one person. Such that we have something akin to an absolutely self-reliant faith action at the centre of things.
So there is an indeterminate constituency running perspective (sensing, feeing, thinking) a contextualising collective is in others instances deeming madness (and crucifying individuals thereby), who are not being drawn completely into the vortex of a collective’s reductive meaning-making. There is a constituency of guerrilla survivors in foxholes.
I think Dr Cornwall’s linking of neuroscience and psychiatry and the effects of a psychiatry defining itself in term of neuroscience, then succeeds in placing the overall field of this in perspective; giving grasp of fundamentals thereby. Discourse becomes possible because succinct grasp of a phenomenon has been offered.
One of the difficulties then is (and I think of my situation at work this week), that it is challenging to bring that comprehensive perspective into play (with colleagues) in realtime practice.. Part of that difficulty is that such potential discursive partners would themselves have to imaginatively cross the Rubicon of entertaining what is collectively deemed in and of the realm of madness (mad sensing, feeling, thinking, talking, theorising).
Here is another remarkable survival tool,safe for all including children. The strength and form is adjustable. Can be a daily tea drunk any time or made into a herbal extract to stop voices or tone down extreme states .Usable for any situation or condition by anyone safely. Used as an extract if head ache or diarrhea occur it will pass next time use smaller amount. As tea or extract it makes anyone relaxed without making thinking dull.
The Formula was taught to me by Joseph Liss ND the most brilliant human being I ever met for whom curing cancer was a routine event. He called this his All Purpose Compound Tea and he drunk it daily . I experimented with it and used it as an extract when going through an extreme state.Here finally ,to be mixed in equal parts and organic is Doc’s Tea……Fennel,Alfalfa,Elderberry,Nettle,Anise,Dandelion,Uva Ursi,Yarrow,Comfrey
Make it ,Enjoy it, Use it
ColinB897, Make some of this tea for everyone in a discussion. Communication will be better. Even for the kids in your care if they will allow it.
Thank you Fred for this very good sounding natural remedy.
I will try it!