One Family’s Encounter with Modern Psychiatry and a Call for Social Change


Prior to the spring of 2010, I had not given much thought to mental health, mental illness, or anything in between. Sure, my husband, Todd, and I both had relatives with “mental health issues” and Todd had experienced situational depression in grad school (who hasn’t?). But for the most part, we didn’t think about it.

We were fine.

In fact, we were more than fine according to all mainstream standards of success. Todd had landed his dream job teaching religious studies at a small liberal arts college. I worked non-stop as a top executive at a software company putting us in the top 5%. Our only daughter, Rebecka, performed well at school, had lots of friends, and was generally pleasant—unusual for 13-year-olds, I hear.

Yes, we were fine.

So when Rebecka one sunny April day told me over pedicures that she was feeling depressed, I had a really difficult time taking it seriously. Depressed? What? She didn’t seem depressed. On the contrary, she was quite the social butterfly. I thought people who were depressed spent most of their time in the fetal position in a dark room (or on the shower floor).

“I cry in the bathroom sometimes,” she said. “I don’t know why.”

After talking about this for a while, I asked her to let me know the next time she felt sad so we could work through it together. Then we moved on to other topics.

Fast forward to May and I noticed one day that Rebecka had slimmed down quite a bit. Perhaps even a bit more than a normal teen growth spurt would cause. I casually mentioned it to her and she walked into the bathroom to step on the scale. She came back with a semi-shocked look on her face. She had lost twenty pounds!

I knew she had a good friend who had been diagnosed with anorexia, and the next question just slipped out: “Do you think you may be anorexic?” I asked. “No, I haven’t been trying to lose weight,” she said. Nevertheless, the very next day, I received a phone call from the anorexic friend’s mother. She made me so worried I immediately made a doctor’s appointment for Rebecka.

The doctor homed in on her depression more than the weight loss and suggested that she see a therapist or a psychiatrist. We voted to start with therapy (seemed less serious). By the time June rolled around, the therapist suggested we “kick-start” the therapy process with medication. Really? Thus, Rebecka’s pediatrician handed Rebecka a piece of paper that would change our lives forever.

It was a prescription for Zoloft.

Over the course of the summer, Zoloft turned into Prozac, and just as school was about to start again, Rebecka started hallucinating and became suicidal. Immediate hospitalization followed and with it the addition of an antipsychotic (Risperdal) and an additional prescription to deal with known side effects of the antipsychotic. This was the beginning of a year of hospitalizations and heartache. Inpatient, outpatient, inpatient, outpatient. A never-ending vicious circle. More medications. Different medications. Higher dosage. Lower dosage.

We were thrown headfirst into a world we didn’t want to know anything about. Mental illness. Stigma. Psychotropics. Medication management. Bipolar. Eating disorders. Anxiety. BPD. CBT.

And through all of this, no therapist sat us down to ask, “How are things at home?” “What can we do differently in Rebecka’s environment to make her feel better?” There was no glimmer of hope. No indication that this might be temporary distress. Situational. Part of growing up. Rather, it all felt very permanent. And on the worst days, we firmly believed that our only child would live in our basement indefinitely.

We thought we were fine. But in reality, we were not. Indeed, when I look in the rearview mirror, I realize we weren’t fine at all. I was a workaholic and also situationally depressed due to work-related stress and dissonance between my job and my value system. Todd was working in a small town four hours away and coming home on the weekends. Our future living situation was uncertain, because Todd’s teaching position at the time was not permanent. Add puberty to that.

So not really fine at all.

Not until the shit hit the fan and Rebecka was hospitalized for the eighth time did the course of our lives change again. When things couldn’t get any worse, Dr. Robert Shedinger, author of Radically Open and a colleague and friend, handed us a copy of Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic. Todd and I read it out loud to each other during the long drive to the nearest in-state psychiatric hospital almost two hours away.

We read the stories and recognized our daughter. Yep, she had become “bipolar” after starting anti-depressants. Yep, she had gained fifty pounds on Zyprexa. Yep. Yep. Yep. We were shocked to learn the truth about modern psychiatry and Big Pharma and angered to read about the dire consequences for millions of people.

It was enough for us to ask the attending psychiatrist to discontinue Rebecka’s psychotropic medications—even though we had just received a bleak psychological evaluation, which stated:

“Rebecka’s test results reveal a very serious acute psychiatric disturbance and also raise concern about the presence of problematic personality traits and relationship behaviors. She seems to be both very depressed and highly anxious. . . . She seems to ruminate about her many perceived faults and failures. She offers that she hates herself and may believe that she is deserving of punishment.”


Asking the psychiatrist to discontinue medication was one of our bravest moments. It went against everything doctors had told us over the past twelve months—against Rebecka’s regular psychiatrist’s vehement opposition (“You can come back when it doesn’t work.”). It went against what we heard repeatedly in the media and in pop culture. It went against what we saw in the advertisements during the evening news.

And it was the turning point in Rebecka’s journey toward optimal mental health.

Of course, we all had some work to do to restore her (and our own) mental health. She spent a total of six weeks at the Mayo Clinic’s eating disorder program. Todd and I reduced our pressures on her by focusing less on school and more on wellness. She attended a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills group for adolescents, which helped her learn coping skills. I quit my job and started consulting, so I could be available when Rebecka came home from school (and to reduce my own stress). She found a sense of purpose. (The list goes on.)

By the spring of 2012, the recovery process was complete. Sassy, opinionated, funny Rebecka was back.

And we lived happily ever after. The end.

Well, this could have been the end of the story. However, this experience had shaken my foundation. I would never look at the world through my former naive lenses. I knew I had to tell our story to empower other parents to ask questions, trust their instincts, and, most importantly, remain hopeful. No psychiatrist or doctor ever gave us hope that Rebecka would recover fully. Not until we turned to the Mayo Clinic, after losing a year of her life to psychotropics, did we hear words of hope—from a brilliant psychologist. This hope allowed us to imagine a brighter future and move toward recovery.

So I started writing. It was therapeutic and painful all at once. I outlined a book, Her Lost Year, with four parts. The first two parts would be our story, including reflections by Rebecka. The third part would discuss what we learned about modern psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. The final part would provide alternative approaches to restoring mental health in kids and teens. I would cover everything from getting enough sleep to family therapy to mindfulness. Everything I knew from experience and research—distilled down and accessible to all parents.

That was going to be it. And it was going to be a great book. Super helpful.

However, the more I read and the more I learned about the mental health crisis, especially related to our young people, the more I realized I couldn’t stop there. It wasn’t sufficient.

One pesky question kept surfacing in my brain:


Why are so many children and teens distressed? Why does a bright, popular, beautiful 13-year-old girl with highly educated parents and a comfortable home become so distressed that it warrants medical intervention? Why does this same girl come to the conclusion that her life has no purpose—that life is not worth living? Why are so many children “disruptive” at school? Why do droves of teens engage in self-harm? Why do so many young people think about suicide? Why do they not feel comfortable in their own skin?

And what can we do about it?

My initial reaction was to sue the pharmaceutical companies. But we’ve been there, done that. These companies are not suffering as a consequence. No, I decided. I want to work from the bottom up to raise resilient, mentally healthy kids in a society that doesn’t medicalize the human experience—a society that values the cues our competent children send us. Steven Epperson stated well this need in a recent MIA post.

“We need a nuanced, humanistic, non-pharmaceutical industry influenced, truly well-informed curriculum for schools, community centres and religious organizations that provides education to children, youth and their parents about the spectrum of human experience, life transitions, and ways in which boyhood (!), distress, unusual experiences and stress can be resiliently handled.”

Yes, we need to nurture children’s innate resilience, but we also need to look beyond the individual and educational programs.

We need to radically change our society so that it is designed to optimize mental health.

It all goes together, folks. Mental health is so much bigger than an individual issue. It is a community issue. It is an environmental issue. It is a moral issue. It is a political issue. We medicate kids to adapt them to their surroundings (think public school or an unstable home). But we don’t talk much about adapting the surroundings to the kids. Too expensive. Too difficult. Not enough profit involved. Maybe we’re not even sure how.

Our children’s distress (along with climate change, daily loss of species, ongoing wars, food insecurity, etc.) is a signal that something is fundamentally wrong with how we live in this world. We can do all the mindfulness meditation and yoga we want (and these are very helpful practices!), but unless we change the system—in a big way—our kids will continue to suffer.

Thus, I added a fifth part to the book. It’s all about how we can optimize children’s mental health through social change. It covers consumerism, politics, parenting, and education. Scratches the surface, really. But we have to start somewhere. We must transition from our competitive, individualistic way of life to a cooperative community model—a society where children (and adults!) can be themselves, feel supported and heard, embrace the human experience, contribute to the common good, connect, create, and thrive.

Will you join me in this transition? It’s time.


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.


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  1. Hi Tabita,

    Your story is both touching and frightening, though we all know that there are tens of thousands of young people who are getting similar mistreatment as your daughter, many of whom will never escape from the system.
    Your point about changing society, and especially changing from a individualistic, competitive society to a more communal one is crucial . We have tended to see ourselves as primarily individuals in North American Society, but there is strong evidence that we are social beings strongly affected by our social environment. This aspect is especially important in the emotional lives of teenagers where peer influence can have a major effect on emotional development. The psychiatric industry tends to ignore this aspect, preferring to either blame the parents or the brain. As peer influences have become stronger and more pervasive, we are seeing an increase in emotional struggles in young people.
    We do need to look at our society and how it is affecting our youth. There are so many issues to address, but efforts like yours are an excellent start and example to all of us.

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    • Thanks Norman. We feel so fortunate that we “got out” when we did. I hope this book will empower other parents and caregivers to start asking questions and advocate for their children’s health. It took me a while to see the social connection, but in hindsight it is glaringly obvious. The research for Her Lost Year has convinced me that social change is required to ease the suffering of our kids and teens. It won’t be easy, but I am hopeful that we can do it!

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      • Dear Norman and Tabitha,

        There is a science of intentional behavioural change, at individual, family, community and societal level which has been incrementally developed over the last 40=-50 years, and which is wonderfully encapsulated in a simply superb new book “The Nuture Effect” – see

        We have the tools to help our families and schools to be more nurturing. Rather than addressing each psychological, behavioral, or health problem as though it is unrelated to every other problem, we need to get all of the organizations working on human wellbeing to band together to help make all of our families and schools more nurturing.

        No matter the context or the problem at hand, following these universal principles of a nurturing environment creates the best chances at success. Nurturing environments do four things:
        Minimize toxic social and biological conditions.
        Teach, promote, and richly reinforce prosocial behavior.
        Limit influences and opportunities for problem behavior.
        Promote psychological flexibility, which is a mindful approach to pursuing one’s values even in the face of emotional, cognitive, and real-world challenges.

        I am not saying the problem is that you’re outlining do not exist, they most certainly do, and Robert’s excellent book, and your book “Her Lost Year” I hope many people disentangle from psychopharmacological pseudoscience, and engage in much more helpful behaviours toward rich and meaningful lives.

        And Tony Biglan’s review of the science of positive intentional behaviour change at all levels over the last 40 years will I hope be of great interest to both of you.

        Warm wishes, Rob Purssey

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  2. Nothing like having the blinders ripped off, huh?

    It’s so important for those with experiences such as yours and your daughter’s to tell your stories to as many people as possible. I’d like to see you take your analysis even a little bit further.

    Since you are clearly open to new paradigms of thinking I strongly recommend that you read a few things by Thomas Szasz and others who have shown that the very foundations of psychiatry are flawed, and that the very notion of “mental illness” itself is a logical and semantic absurdity which not only confuses matters, but which misrepresents human responses to oppression as failures of the individual rather than of the social and political structures to which to which she/he is reacting.

    Regarding your list of semi-rhetorical questions under the heading “Why?”: While I suspect you may already know or at least sense why, my response is that this is exactly how sensitive, feeling human beings should be expected to react to a toxic culture for which the bottom line is obscene profits for corporate rulers who promote self-hatred (and other hatred) as a means of controlling the masses, then capitalize further on the ensuing guilt, anxiety, depression and/or agression by pushing drugs, “therapy,” or whatever — anything but the social change you and many others realize is necessary before our collective psyche will be experiencing the sort of “reality” we yearn for.

    I guess that was a mouthful, I’m tired. But this is supposed to be a thumbs-up for what you’re doing. I hope you keep at it.

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    • Awesome comment. 🙂 I am with you 100%. It’s too bad that it took a crisis for me to realize what needs to be done, but now it’s crystal clear. Capitalism needs to be abolished, corporations need to be disbanded, and we need to take a big step back and take a look at how the heck we *really* want to live on this beautiful planet. I’m very excited about moving forward in my own neck of the woods and working toward creating a resilient, sustainable community. I’m done talking about problems—I’m ready to make positive changes. (And I will definitely read some Szasz.)

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      • Hi Tabita,
        That’s a great post. Great that you are going about attempting to make positive changes. Please don’t get down that it may be a slow process to change all the things that need changing. It’s very easy to get frustrated when things don’t seem to be having enough effect. You’ve already done something great by writing your book. Can’t wait for my copy to get here, it’s on the way.
        In your research, did you come across anything by Adam Curtis, the documentary film maker? Much of his work shows how society got the way it is and was first shown on BBC. The one film he’s most known for is the 4 part (4hrs) The Century of the Self. You can do a search for Adam Curtis on and find most of his work. There should be about 7 films return when you search for him there. Anything he has done is worth the time if you can spare the time. Great stuff.

        So glad you’ve done what you’ve done and are doing. Good for you and your family.

        Take care of you and yours! And have a nice day.

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        • Hi! Thanks for your note. My community group has been watching The Century of the Self series, but I haven’t been able to make it to the screenings. Now I will definitely check it out! Hope you enjoy the book. I appreciate your support!

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          • Hi again,
            Glad others are watching it and that you will check it out. Even though all his stuff is great, my other favorites of his are All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace (3hrs) , The Trap (3 hrs), and The Living Dead (3 hrs). These are all powerful films about how we got where we are today and can be somewhat upsetting, but he attempts to give people hope and the end of each of them.

            One I also wish everyone could see to give hope about climate change that many here probably have in the back of their mind, especially young people. Is this anything that your and your daughter have explored? I suspect it is from some clues I gathered in researching your book and background I gleaned from it and knowing about sustainable communities as I do.
            See if you can find a copy of Symphony of the Soil dvd. Unfortunately I don’t know of a way to watch it unless you have access to the dvd. It is well worth the time if you can find it. The 4 part Nova program Earth: A new Wild dovetails with Symphony very well. There is hope to turn this trainwreck around. Your work is vital to this process and I commend you for what you’ve already done. You and your family have already been though much. Keep the good work up and hold your head high. The world needs you and many more like you. Things are changing, the old guard status quo is squealing loudly and having a temper tantrum, so they know the gig is up!!!

            Take care and be well, the status quo hates it!!!

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  3. Thank you for sharing you experiences Tabitha.

    I too had this experience with my son. After he began having severe hallucinations from taking Risperdal (which I didn’t even know was a side effect and I read the inserts) I began to have doubts. When he went from being on the Asperger’s spectrum to bi-polar (doubt it) I lost all faith that mainstream “treatments” would ever help him move forward with his life. His biggest problem was that despite what everyone said to us, he wasn’t the problem. We said no to medications, I pulled him from public school (because once special ed they would never allow him to be anything else) and he is slowly beginning to find confidence and courage. It helps that he is not in the environment of public education that denies it’s failures, creates anxieties and fails to defend kids or acknowledge the effects that long term bullying has on children. I am also able to see the our life at home is no where near perfect. That idea is not based on the definition of societal norms but rather by how those who are involved are functioning and able to live fully.
    He has inspired me to look more closely at how much of a failure the system is and has been for many decades. Pills as “treatments” maintain illness. Once that is clear there is freedom as you have found.
    Very happy for your family.

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    • Thank you for sharing your own struggles. It’s amazing how many folks have had similar experiences, but you don’t hear about it until you start sharing your own story. When you’re in the middle of it, you feel so alone and you don’t really know what to do other than trust the people society has put in charge of caring for your child.

      We also had to pull Rebecka out of school for a bit so she could stabilize. School was a huge stressor. I have a whole chapter about how we need to do education differently to optimize kids’ mental health. Our one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work one bit. All the best to you and your son as you continue your journey toward health.

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  4. I’m really glad your daughter got well. One has to be bold and ruthless to fight off attacks on a family member’s soul by these predators who pass themselves off as psychiatrists.

    I thought the best quote in your article was,

    “And through all of this, no therapist sat us down to ask, “How are things at home?” “What can we do differently in Rebecka’s environment to make her feel better?” There was no glimmer of hope. No indication that this might be temporary distress. Situational. Part of growing up. Rather, it all felt very permanent.”

    It’s incredible how the most obvious things, like asking what is going on in a distressed person’s life, escape some psychiatrists. This paragraph encapsulates what is done to people by giving them the Scarlet Letters bipolar, borderline, and schizophrenic, and then giving them brain damaging medication to compound the grim diagnosis.

    In a fair world, such actions – labeling people with false illnesses, destroying their hopes for psychological health, and prescribing them brain-damaging medications – would be a crime, and many psychiatrists would be in prison for murdering these people’s souls.

    We should do all we can to spread the word that emotional distress is not reducible to invalid mental illnesses, and that overcoming adversity to build a good life is possible without long-term use of brain damaging medication.

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    • Absolutely! It didn’t even cross our minds to ask ourselves these questions. We were so embedded in the dominant discourse on mental health that says that emotional distress is a chemical imbalance and the best way to treat it is with drugs. In fact, one of Rebecka’s psychiatrists (one of our favorites) said, “I would never take anybody off Prozac, it only does good things for your brain.” He was embedded as well! Yes, let’s spread the word that emotional distress is part of the human experience, not an illness to be cured with medication.

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      • I have a story very similar to that of your daughter. I have been in and out of psychiatric hospitals in the past. At one time the psychiatrist had me on so many medications that I become psychotic. Thankfully my husband intervened and spoke with my family physician about taking me off all of the medications and keeping me only on Prozac. Within two months I was slowly coming back to reality. However, I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager and Prozac always worked for me. Depression runs on both sides of my family. So, please don’t “throw out the baby with the bath water”. Medications are necessary for some people. I am currently on Zoloft and feeling great. My daughter is also on medication for bipolar illness. I do believe that we can meet in the middle when it comes to psychiatric medication. I would not be functioning today without it.

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        • Thanks for your comment. I do say in my book that medication may be necessary for some kids. However, I wonder how much of it is necessary because we live in a toxic environment. It doesn’t necessarily be the immediate environment (e.g. family, school, etc.), but just the general malaise in our culture. What I’m interested in is what we can do to improve our society to improve our mental health for future generations. I appreciate you bringing that balance to the conversation.

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        • msbauer,

          have you looked into orthomolecular (nutrient) therapy? Your diet? The state of your gut? A few books you may want to read before you decide that drugs are necessary:

          Nutrient Power by William Walsh, PhD
          The Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, M.D. and
          The Brain Maker, also by Perlmutter

          I am not foreclosing any other therapies of healing options. I believe that trauma, inherited or experienced during one’s lifetime, is foundational to much of mental distress. But trauma does change one’s biology (that’s the lesson of epigenetics), and body-based interventions should not be taken off the table.

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      • Wow, it is hard to believe that people like this actually exist, like this psychiatrist who said he would never take someone off a medication. Strangely, I think this bizarre species of “doctor” are often well-meaning people who think they are doing the right thing – the problem is that they’re uninformed morons when it comes to understanding that people’s life problems are not brain diseases and that zombification (long-term medication use) is frequently harmful. I have met one “doctor” like this myself so know that this species of psychiatrist are real.

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        • this is not a bizarre species of doctor…this is the only type of psychiatrist we have ever met with regards to our sons care (uncare) . This is the normal treatment within our health care system and when doctors more easily prescribe a one pill and many pill that does not fix any thing but makes it worse, we are up against something truly horrible. It is so hard to speak up because so many believe the doctors system is right and that the person has a mental illness and it is always the mental illness that is what is causing the problems…The drugs make one sicker and sicker and then there is a true chemical imbalance and one has to crawl back to health …there needs to be continual investigation, whenever anyone is prescribed these ‘meds’, this should not be mainstream.
          We must look at the whole world lifestyle, or should we call it death style and change.

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          • I was diagnosed with manic depression in 1989. Perhaps I could have done a better job of explaining what it was that my housemates were doing that was bothering me. But given that I grew up in an atmosphere of child’ abuse (mean drunk parent) I am not the best at standing up for myself. Also given, that no family member came forward to protect me from this abuse, it made it hard for me to fathom that my mother was saving me from myself by committing me. By 1990, my mother had fanagled the system to the point that I was receiving an SSI check. I went back to college, got married,’obtained a semblance of a career, and managed to avoid being sidelined from life which I sense happens to many with a mental health diagnosis and a disability check.
            I have managed to reduce the psychotropic medication and get the weight gain under control. But I still find myself angry about my experience with the hospitalization and subsequent damage done to my kidneys as a result of the lithium. Also, my displeasure with psychiatry has caused family strife in that my mother feels like she had no choice, and my sister has been in search of the right medication to help with her depression. I also feel like there is also a correlary narrative running along side the critical narrative of psychiatry that we present on MIA. In my own case I was transferred from jail, where I was being held on a pretty minor offense of disturbing the peace to the mental hospital. Much attention on the political left, where I reside, is given to mass incarceration and in particular to the problem, which is described as the imprisonment of the mentally ill. I feel like that this is pretty grey area politically and for me personally. I just recently finished whitaker’s new book, and I feel there is sufficient documentation of the shortcomings of psychiatry to force open the door for a more honest interpretation of psychiatry in our society. In my role as an educator and a youth worker, I have been open about my “history of mental illness”!as well as notifying my employer about becoming more visible in the community and the political arena on this topic. I feel that as someone with credentials who is involved in a many civic endeavors, that I am poised to make a difference. First thing, I will be contacting the graduate school where I feel like I was pushed out for being critical of psychiatry-I have more confidence now, and the case against psychiatry has grown. I will be following up with the teacher’s union regarding the concerns I expressed concerning children and the use of psychiatric medications-previously I was told that they had no written policy on the matter.

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  5. Hi Tabitha,
    I can really relate to your story. Sadly, the problem extends to Physical Medicine as well… the average primary care physician is mainly trained to dispense medicine and knows very little about preventing or reversing disease. Of course, there are Physicians and Psychiatrists who are exceptions. I’ve come to realize through a wonderful Psychiatrist as well as a Integrative Medicine Dr. that nutrition and gut health, in addition to lifestyle factors like exercise, stress reduction, proper sleep are the cornerstone of brain health.

    I’m not sure we need to dismantle Capitalism, but we certainly need to wake up and realize the negative affects of it on our way of life. We can find middle ground, I think.

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      • “Medications are necessary for some people.”
        I can’t really see how that would be since the actual medical evidence, as little as there is of it, shows otherwise. Anti-psychotics prevent people from recovering and make them actually more prone to psychotic episodes as the tolerance and hypersensitivity builds over time. “Anti-depressants” are essentially placebos. Benzos are narcotics which make you sedated and/or high and should never be taken for loner than a month anyway. Amphetamines for “ADHD” – well, they are amphetamines, there’s little more to add. There is no evidence that keeping people on any of psych drugs over a long period of time does any good and plenty of evidence to show otherwise.
        I think people mistake placebo effect and spontaneous recovery with drug working and withdrawal with “oh, I need to be on the drugs forever”.

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      • Medications may be necessary for some people but those people need to make their own decisions about whether or not to take the toxic drugs. As long as they know the long-term effects of the drugs that they are willing to take then fine, let them take them. However, the usual approach is to force the toxic drugs on everyone without true informed consent in any form.

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    • Hi Niklet, yes, there are certainly exceptions. I write about some of these holistic psychiatrists in my book. I’m so glad you’ve found these healers! Regarding capitalism, there are certainly lots of people who believe we can work within the capitalistic system to make improvements toward equality, sustainability, etc. (Robert Reich and Muhammad Yunus come to mind). However, I’m not convinced. I believe we need an alternate, more advanced economic model. At the very least, we need to disconnect things like medical care/pharmaceuticals from the profit-based model. It’s not ethical.

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      • Psychiatrists today are in a similar position to what the tobacco companies were during the 1960s and 1970s, as dramatically illustrated in movies like the Insider – the fraudulent and damaging basis of their “product” is being exposed, but they want to hide the facts to keep making money and keep people sick and medicated as long as possible. Of course, little of this is consciously acknowledged by most psychiatrists; they are not evil people and the cognitive dissonance involved in facing what they are doing while continuing to practice would be unbearable.

        I agree about care for emotional distress needing to be disconnected from the profit-based model. If psychiatrists’ incomes were not reliant on maintaining these distortions about “mental illness” being real and medications being effective, we would see many more psychiatrists coming to Mad In America. But the choices for most psychiatrists are:

        A) Maintain the lies that emotional distress is understandable as illness and that medications effectively treat emotional distress. In return, receive income of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, allowing you to live a comfortable lifestyle even if it means keeping many clients miserable for decades.

        B) Leave the profession, often accepting a significantly reduced income in another field, or switch the way you practice psychiatry to help people primarily with a relationship. This involves longer sessions and a much more limited use of medication. It also involves accepting a significantly reduced income.

        What would you do?

        Unfortunately, very few psychiatrists are courageous or aware enough to stop lying to themselves about mental illness and medication, whether the self-deception is done consciously or (usually) unconsciously. That is why only a handful of psychiatrists are here on Mad In America.

        If the truth that even chronic psychotic states were fully reversible and able to be healed through long-term intimate relationships, as described by many of the authors at ISPS (, were fully appreciated by the public, it would threaten tens of billions of dollars in annual drug company profits and result in a large reduction of income for many psychiatrists.

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        • It’s funny how we still seem to have the same problems as we had over a hundred years ago. I’m just reading Bernard Shaw’s “Doctor’s dilemma” and author’s preface could have been written yesterday.

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  6. Hi Tabita, two things stood out fo me in your article and I believe they are connected. Firstly I found it interesting that you reffered to your own depression as situational. I assume you mean it arose because of specific events/circumstances that arose in your life. I got the impression you were using his description to differemtiate from other types of depression though your daughter’s depression seems to be situational as well because you rightly say that her psychiatrists never asked about her environment and what was going on in her life. Both your depressions are from the environment (I use this broadly environment meaning your living conditions, relationships, employment etc.) as you have realised this is hecause of so called “mental illness” it is our environment from the nuclear family to society as a whole (different for everyone obviously).

    This reminded me of somethig I came across about a year ago. In the country where I live we have a regular ad on TV for a depression webiste. I never used to pay attention to it and thought it was a public/ministry of health production. Eventually once I started getting interested in t he mental health field I visited the site. It wad frightening. They had videos of so-called success stories of people overcoming depression and all bar one ended up on anti-depressants. Each story started with the person talking about events leading up to their depression, examples of these events were: bankruptcy, double mastectomy, car crash and amputation and a refugee story. And you think well it’s obvious why they are depressed it’s only logical, they need love and support from family and community and ways to work through trauma. But each story ends with the person now taking anti-depressants and that’s about it. I was saddened and angered. How can it not be obvious that its the environment and life events that cause this, how can one still believe it’s chemical imbalance after listening to these stories?
    Also I know that gut health is important but the healthiest person with thd perfect diet will be depressed undef the circumstances I mentioned above.
    Anyway, I really enjoyed your article and I’m happy that things turned out for you and your family!

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    • Thanks for commenting. Very interesting observation on your part. I think what all of the discussion around these topics show is that there is so much we don’t know about mental health. What we do know is that trauma negatively affects mental and physical health outcomes. We also know that resilience can help improve the outcomes. That’s why I’m really interested in working with kids in schools and with parents to teach skills that build resilience. I’m also interested in building resilient communities. This doesn’t mean we’ll always be happy, but maybe we’ll be better equipped to cope with life.

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      • Resilient is one thing. But don’t we eventually want to live in a society where you don’t need to be able to take abuse, violence, poverty etc. and have a reasonably “sane” life? I have a problem not only with the medical model but primarily with the “blame the individual” model – that’s why I don’t like most of the psychological approaches either. It’s true that some people may sometimes need someone objective to point them in the right direction or teach them a coping skill but it’s not going to solve the problem of why people get depressed or “crazy” en masse.

        I kind of see the fact that people are able to go crazy as a sort of a good thing. It speaks of tehir humanity and a deeper sensitivity. As awful a PTSD can be for a person who suffers and those around them – do you really want an army of people who can go to another country, kill people, see their friends getting killed and be all fine? For me that is inhumane. If people don’t suffer they don’t have any reason to stand up for change. It’s just like physical pain is there to protect you and teach you about the dangers of the world, mental anguish does the same thing. Sure, too much of either pain can kill you but one has to be able to feel it and feel it deeply. There’s no happiness without suffering – it is what makes us human and what makes our lives fuller. Doesn’t mean we should not try to get rid of the bad things that cause suffering but we should not suppress it and numb ourselves to it, be it with drugs or with “resilience”.

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        • Absolutely. There are so many layers here. The resilience piece to me is an intermediate step in an evolution of creating a society designed to optimize mental health. When I think about resilience as something we want to have, it’s to deal with situations that will always happen such as difficult breakups and deaths of loved ones. I hope that one day we will have created a society that minimizes much of the trauma our kids experience today. I don’t think think of resilience as suppressing “bad things that cause suffering,” but it sure helps folks while we work on creating a better society.

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  7. Consider yourself lucky. You got out with your daughter “intact.”
    I was “fine” once, too…
    Then the good doctors decided they knew how to “help.”
    Tabita, one day your daughter will thank you for having had the fortitude and intuition
    to save her life.
    My parents did not know what to do.
    I’m sitting here grief-stricken with the memories of my battle with Psychiatry… Please understand,
    it is BAD out there. Real bad. You saved her from being swallowed up by the rabbit hole.

    ECT has almost destroyed me. So have the Benzodiazepines.

    More later, I’m a little overwhelmed right now. Thanks for the post! Thanks for the book!

    Keep up the good work.


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    • Hi Dan, I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience. And we do feel extremely fortunate. We realize that many parents in the same situation do not have the means to do what we did. They may not have the luxury of taking leave of absence, which I did, to care for their child or health insurance to try alternative approaches. It saddens me to think about it. This is why I’m interested in getting at the problem at its root and working in parallel on building resilience in kids right now and working toward a healthier society. I believe it’s the only way!

      Thanks for your encouragement. Hang in there!

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      • Hi Tabita,
        thank you for telling your inspiring story and for giving people hope and encouragement to free themselves (or their loved ones) from the scourge of psychiatric drugs. You were and are indeed lucky in many respects: figuring it out quickly and losing no more than 1 year to our “mental health” system. Most of all, you were lucky not to get entangled in a prolonged withdrawal that is, for the most part, not recognized for what it is (dysregulation of the nervous system due to the habituation of drugs that should not have been prescribed in the first place), and is mistaken for a rebound of unmasking of the “underlying illness.” I hope your book includes a strong warning about the risks of discontinuing or tapering psychiatric drugs. Not that it should not be attempted — everyone deserves the chance to be free of drugs — but not without lots and lots of careful and thorough research, preparation, planning and support. And it makes all the difference whether ones has the economic resources to tap into the various holistic healing options to pieces together a recovery program. That this is not so is a tragedy and a travesty.

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  8. Tabita

    Great blog and great story.

    You said: ” We can do all the mindfulness meditation and yoga we want (and these are very helpful practices!), but unless we change the system—in a big way—our kids will continue to suffer.”

    This sentence jumped off the page for me. It is so important that you pointed out the limitations of focusing only on individual solutions to these problems. There needs to be a unity between “micro” and “macro” approaches to these problems, but major revolutionary systemic change will ultimately be necessary for the broad masses of people to even stand a chance against the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex.

    In my extended family I have a very similar family drama unfolding for a young preteen girl. I only hope the outcome will be as positive as yours. So far my attempts to provide education have met with much resistance and very mixed responses.

    Keep writing and speaking out. We need more people like you taking this type of strong advocacy role.


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  9. Tabita,

    It’s really rather amazing that the mainstream medical community and psychiatrists are still hypocritically railroading trusting families into the psychiatric system in this manner. I, too, was gaslighted via an antidepressant (albeit given under the guise of a “safe smoking cessation med”) leading to a bipolar misdiagnosis, albeit in 2001. And I agree, brainwashing families into believing the ‘patient’ will never recover truly is one of the most evil aspects of this for profit iatrogenic illness creation system.

    I also agree, we are dealing with systemic problems, and distress is not a “mental illness.” According to my medical records I was drugged, in part, for thinking 9.11.2001 was disgusting. But according to all my family’s medical records, I was actually dealing with a medical / religious cover up of the abuse of my small child and easily recognized iatrogenesis. I still think 9.11.2o01 was disgusting, and now know, too, that so are all those utilizing today’s delusional DSM belief system for their own greed inspired and unethical reasons.

    Truly, we need to change the system. We need to work together as one for the betterment of all, however some within society are still functioning as a cancer on humanity. Lets hope and pray we may help bring about a better world by telling our stories and waking people up to the evil within. Best of luck with your book.

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  10. Tabita,

    I read your post with very mixed feelings. The cavalier attitude in the beginning of the post regarding family members’ “mental health issues” and asking “who hasn’t” experienced depression in grad school left me bewildered.

    Then there is the disbelief that your daughter could be depressed when her parents are “so well educated” and she has a “comfortable lifestyle” in the “top 5%” income bracket.

    Mental illness does not care how much money you make. It does not care how educated you are or in what zip code you reside.

    I empathize with all of the struggles your family faced with your daughter’s depression. I cannot imagine going through all of this with my own child with the numerous hospitalizations and medications. I am truly happy for you and your daughter for the remission she is experiencing.

    But there is a cautionary tale here.

    First, just like it is vitally important to collect and recognize family hitory regarding physical issues, it is equally important to pay attention to family history regarding mental issues. These should not be ignored. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, you are more likely to conduct monthly self-exams and speak to your PC in order to get as much preventive care as possible.

    Mental health is no different. You must be equally diligent for your children when you know that specific mental illness runs in your family.

    Second, although you obviously came away with a very poor experience with therapists and medications to treat depression, that does not mean that these treatments do not hold value. Adolescents and anti-depressants are a volatile mix, as the literature has shown. However, they can be extremely helpful in adulthood. I completely agree that the treatment of the whole, individual child is essential, but that does include the possibility of pharmaceuticals.

    I am certainly no expert and only have personal experience to draw from. My maternal grandmother, mother and aunt suffer from depression. I wish that I had been aware of the inheritability of this disease as I am certain I would not have suffered for as long as I did before getting help. I am convinced that medication and therapy, as well as self-awareness techniques, saved my life. I am currently in remission, but have had three different episodes of major depression in my lifetime.

    As a result, I am focused on my children and their mental health. My daughter started showing symptoms of anxiety when she was as young as 7. We watched and waited until she was just shy of 10 and decided her symptoms were starting to interfere with her daily life. After two different therapists and learning how to specifically help her, she is cutting new neural pathways of thinking.

    Yet I am not naive enough to believe she is “cured.”

    There is no cure for depression and anxiety. I will continue to remain in tune with my daughter as well as my son. And I will also continue to keep myself informed regarding the latest research in order to be the best advocate I can.

    Thank you for a different perspective. It’s important that all voices are heard.

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    • Regarding this,

      “Mental illness does not care how much money you make. It does not care how educated you are or in what zip code you reside.”

      In fact, mental illness cares a lot about how much money you make and where you live. It is quite discriminatory because it tends to affect poor minorities much more often than rich white people. For example, 2-3x as many black people get diagnosed schizophrenic compared to wealthy white folks, and mental illness is more common in poor urban environments. A simple Google search for “schizophrenia and ethnicity” or “mental illness and poverty” will give you dozens of reliable sources.

      Therefore, I’ve been trying to talk to mental illness about this and asking it not to discriminate. I felt that mental illness should understand that in today’s enlightened society, we need to treat black and white people and rich and poor people equally. So I’ve respectfully asked mental illness if it would please start affecting different races and social classes equally. We can only hope that it will listen to such a reasonable and fair request.

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        • I don’t think there is going to be an answer for my comment, since its true meaning will likely not be understood 🙂

          Meanwhile, I tried to have a meeting with mental illness today in the local Chick-fil-A, but mental illness declined because there were only white people there and it prefers places with more blacks and Hispanics. I’m getting quite upset with this behavior and think I may discontinue attempts to speak to mental illness if it continues to be so discriminatory.

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    • Thanks for sharing your mixed feelings. I would never tell a caring parent that they don’t know what’s best for their child. The reason I had to write the book was that we only heard the story you’re telling. We didn’t hear the other side—that medication can ruin lives. And I appreciate you saying that it’s important all voices are heard. I also think our differences of opinions on what is the best treatment option (which depends on the person) can distract us from the bigger issue, that we need social change on many levels to improve our collective mental health. That is where I hope to focus my efforts going forward. Again, thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your perspective.

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      • “I would never tell a caring parent that they don’t know what’s best for their child.”

        Well… One probably doesn’t say that because the caring parent usually won’t listen anyway but sometimes you wish they did.

        People do many sh*** things to their kids in the name of care and never realize how much damage they have done until it’s to late. I’m not going to lecture anyone here on what they should and should not do with their kids, especially that I don’t know their real life situation but I have my thoughts about diagnosing 7yr olds with depression/anxiety.

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    • “There is no cure for depression and anxiety.”
      True – but only because they are not illnesses. Depression and anxiety are normal human feelings and they as much run in the families as love, trust, or any other good or bad human emotion.

      “Mental illness does not care how much money you make. It does not care how educated you are or in what zip code you reside.”
      Sure it does. People who are poor, come from migrant or minority communities etc. have higher rates of so-called “mental illness”. Which is very easily explained if you stop thinking about what’s wrong with someone’s brain and think what’s wrong with someone’s environment.

      That being said – if you want to stay in the system and you think it makes you better it’s up to you. I just hope you’re not harming your kids by putting them in hands of psychiatry, especially in the form of drugs.

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    • I believe that you’ve been very mislead. People can get over and heal from all the things that are called “mental illness”. Thousands of us do it all the time, as long as we’re not forced to take the toxic drugs, which induce the very things that they’re supposedly treating.

      So-called “mental illness” is not genetic, you don’t inherit it. With all the research for the genetic source of “mental illness” they’ve never come up with anything to prove this very false claim.

      If you’re willing to believe the information put out by psychiatry and the drug companies and the medical model you’ve probably already condemned your children. NAMI and the drug companies and psychiatry encourage people to believe these untruths so that they’re always have a steady flow of “patients” to fill their offices and their bank accounts.

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  11. The issue of social change is crucial in looking at the mental health of our societies. There are so many people, who like Tibita, think that they are okay because they are going along with their societies norms. One has to sometimes look outside of one’s own society to understand how things can be different. If one looks at countries rated to be the happiest in the world they all appear to have two things in common: good maternity (and paternity) leave and good health care. In Quebec women get one year paid maternity leave. When we speak to people from the U.S. who have had babies, we are appalled by the poor social support given to young families. Happy babies and parents lead to happy children. Stressed families lead to emotional distress. Change is certainly needed.

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    • I agree, and believe that our society’s move away from properly raising children, via a stay at home parent, is a big part of the problem for the children in our current society. I know my friends and I saw huge differences between the success of our children, and those children whose parents both worked outside the home. And research even shows that the value added to society by stay at home moms is much higher than the value added by moms working outside the home – and this does not take into account the better outcomes of children being properly raised.

      So truly, it is improper for the psychiatric industry to target, defame, and torture the active volunteers / artists working on their portfolios / independent researchers / aspiring writers / stay at home parents, due to their delusions such “unemployed” people are “irrelevant to reality.” Some people work toward long run, rather than short run only, goals and income. And psychiatrists who assume other human beings are “w/o work, content, and talent,” because what the person says is “not believed by doctor,” do end up making an ass out of themselves and the person they are poisoning in the long run. “Mindless” psychiatrists are just that.

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      • I think also reducing families to essentially the kid and his/her parents as opposed to multigenerational families is a problem. Having multiple caregivers (like parents, grandparents, aunts etc.) is spreading the stress of raising a child on more shoulders, socializing the kid to different people and generally making everyone happier. Having two or sometimes one person taking care of a child and working is insane.

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      • Not ‘“Mindless” psychiatrists’, it’s greedy psychiatrists because they know full well what they are doing. The things the patients say is ignored by the vast majority of psychiatrists because it doesn’t profit them. They are looking to get the lucrative kick backs from the drug companies. The patient is just a label, a dehumanized object.

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    • Norman,

      You hit the nail right on the head. Thank you. When I emigrated to the U.S. from Sweden 20 years ago, I was shocked to learn that there was no paid maternity. I was even more shocked when I started my first job and my salary was $6.75/hour caring for young children at the most important time of their lives (I worked at a daycare center). Imagine my subsequent surprise when I found out I got exactly two weeks of vacation. What? (I took unpaid leave so I could get more time off.) Then after I completed my college degree and started working in the corporate world, I was surprised to learn that I was expected to work a minimum of 45 hours of billable hours per week and still just got two weeks of vacation. Over time, sadly, this became my new normal. I supposed I surrendered to societal norms. It took a family crisis for me to wake up and realize (again) that it’s all wrong. And I do think we have the power to change things if we unite, stop talking so much about the problems, and start working on—and demanding—solutions.


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  12. Mental health/Neurological care should include a tiered approach including a functional medicine practitioner, MTHFR testing(23 and me is cheap) and nutritional expert.
    MTHFR issues particular 677 and/or MAO gene issues are prevalent in the majority of people.
    Methylation issues are a huge core issue of depression, anxiety, Autism, ADHD, heart disease, stroke, asthma….

    It is a travesty that many health care providers do not care or are not up to speed about MTHFR and the very real and long term effects of sub-optimal methylation cycles.

    Google Dr Lynch, Dr Yasko, Dr Stewart and Dr Neubrander among many others who have shown that many mental health, neurological and chronic conditions are directly affected by MTHFR, diet and inflammation issues.

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  13. I think the author’s personal experience illustrates the dangers of simply turning a child over to the “mental health industry”. I think that the problems of most children and adolescents can be addressed without medication when the problem is “situational”, as it usually is, by changing the “situation” or the child’s perception of or response to it. If the problem is not situational, no change in situation or attitude will matter. Either way, medicating the young is a dicey proposition because it is known that medications suitable for adults may be totally unsuitable for children.

    I agree with the proposition that getting involved with the “3 P’s” (psychiatrists, psychologists, and pharmaceuticals) can be a frustrating and counterproductive experience–especially when the emphasis is on pushing pills as a solution to everything, followed by more or other pills when the expected result does not materialize. I also agree that the “3 P’s” can be positively harmful. I do not agree that all people should avoid all psychiatrists, psychologists, or medications for depression or other “mental illness”. I will offer my own experience for what it may be worth.

    At age 70, I still struggle with a condition that came into full flower when I was 16; that condition is now called “depression”, a term not in wide usage years ago. For me, daily life was and is marked by despondency, but occasionally I have seriously debilitating episodes, severe enough to make me wish I were dead. For most of my life I did not take medications, on the assumption that with self-examination and sufficient grit I could overcome my problem (I knew I had a problem, but I did not know its name). So, I gutted through military service, college, and two advanced degrees. I practiced my profession successfully for thirty years.

    In my mid-40’s I began to experience extreme fatigue (I worked 60-70 hours per week). I thought I might have mononucleosis, so went to see my local sawbones. He told me I was suffering “depression”; that was the first time I had heard that word in a medical context. He prescribed a psychiatric medication (Zoloft), which made matters worse. So, he changed the prescription to Paxil, which made matters worse still. I concluded that maybe I had better see a psychiatrist to make sure that I really had “depression”, and if so, what medication was appropriate.

    I went to a kindly psychiatrist with many decades of experience. After about a dozen interviews, he told me that I did in fact have depression and had had it all my life. I finally told him that I did not want to go through more talk therapy. He told me that I might not have to, if I would accept medication. His words were: “Today, psychiatry IS pharmacology”. He prescribed Depakote (an anti-epileptic used as a mood stabilizer) and Welbutrin (an anti-depressant). After about 6 weeks, I began to feel better; however, these drugs slowed my mental processes, which in my profession I could ill afford. Plus, I had a philosophic objection to taking drugs; I thought it weak and an avoidance of life. So, I quit taking them, and gradually and inevitably slid back into depression, with occasional severe episodes that got more severe as time went on. As the years went by, my condition worsened, and I finally had to accept that suffering is optional, and that I could not deal with my depression without the medications. I am grateful that the mediations work for me. I don’t know where I would be now without them; maybe 6 feet under.

    I agree with the author that modern life is problematic, especially for the young. I agree that it is harder for us–and for our children– to adjust to life as it is than it was for our parents or grandparents, who did not seem to suffer from “mental illness”. I don’t think it is realistic to believe that it is feasible for us to change the economy (capitalism), or the mode of government (ostensibly democracy), or for that matter, any institutional force.

    I do, however, believe the author is doing a service by pointing out that we cannot blindly submit ourselves or our children to the ministrations of the “mental health industry”.

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    • “I don’t think it is realistic to believe that it is feasible for us to change the economy (capitalism), or the mode of government (ostensibly democracy), or for that matter, any institutional force. ”
      Well, then we can just all lay down and die since if we don’t do it and don’t do it fast that’s essentially the fate of our species (things like global warming, environmental destruction and threat of global nuclear war, you know).
      If the drugs make you feel better and you accept the side effects then you’re an adult and you have the right to your own decisions but it’s kind of sad that drugging our brains should be an answer to the insanity of our society.

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  14. Hi, Tabitha-
    I am an LCSW who has been in the mental health field working exclusively with teens since 1984, and I see situations like yours on a regular basis- its frustrating and perilous. Like many things, mental health has indeed become an industry, fraught with guidelines and service contracts, and oceans of bureaucrats to “oversee” it all. What that means on the front lines is, “do as you are told or lose your funding and/or license”. I have watched the march in this direction for the past 30 years and – unfortunately- the focus on diagnosis and medication is now seen as “best practices”, and is institutionalized and codified.
    I part company with to opinion that it is because of capitalism and coprorations, I think its got more to do with the nature of mounting governmental involvement and the ever-increasing coercion that comes with it. “If you want this funding, you will do X, Y, and/or Z, and use this “evidence based” curriculum, drug, training, etc…”. A free market would blow that up in a heart beat- I remember when services were different and focused more on the client and less on the paperwork and mandatory referrals to organizations with the service contracts/agreements secured by government connections. Besides, any attempt to change “society” as a whole ends up being just as tyrannical as the systems we now face- change has to happen in individuals first, and then that freedom becomes attractive to others; I prefer the “attract and join” model to, “drive and coerce”.

    I am glad you made it through the system and advocated for your daughter- some parents are content to settle for , “It runs in the family” (this intellectually lazy statement is thrown around like confetti), and ulitmately blaming the teen for “not responding to treatment” from these self-perpetuating, factory-like, rubber-stamp sorry excuses for “services” that is foisted upon those seeking help. When I refer for medical assessment, its to integrative doctors who have an understanding of possible mitigating factors such as mold exposure, tick-borne and other possible mitigating infections, thyroid function, etc…
    In my experience- likely because of the region I live and work in- stealth infection has been a contributing factor for many with mental health symptoms, particulary with “bipolar”, “OCD”, and “ADD/ADHD”; our systems are not educated on nor are they looking for these things at this time, and people really suffer because of this. Our now “top down” control of services gaurantees that assessment and diagnosis outside of the existing paradigm will remain unwelcome, as are the counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists who use a wider lense in their assessments (speaking from experience).

    All the best to you-
    Nancy Baumgartner, LCSW

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  15. Tabita,
    I agree with 95% of what you say, but I think you may be inadvertently, or purposefully throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    First I could not agree more that we live in a “give me a pill” society. It’s heartbreaking. Can’t sleep? Pill. Anxious? Pill. Depressed? Pill. The list is not exclusive to mental health. High blood pressure? Pill. High cholesterol? Pill. So on that front we agree.

    While you did not come out and say you think it’s all a band-aid (meaning meds) I get that inference from the article. Let me quickly share my story for a little context.

    I’m very anti-medication. I don’t even like taking ibuprofen because I don’t want my liver messed up. For years (15+) I lived with rage, depression and manic states. I recognized that these “states” were harmful to me and the people around me. In an effort to gain control over it I took inventory of my life and changed what I thought would help me mentally and emotionally.

    I started to exercise hard…not just a jog, but really exercised at least 5 days a week. I never drank to excess in the past, but trimmed it down to 1 – 2 drinks a week. I consumed very little sugar. I ate a diet consisting of very little (like 2 times a month) red meat, hardly any processed foods, and a lot of veggies and fish. My job is not that stressful. It can be at times, but every job can be. I stayed with this program (and continue to do so now) for 3 years. It did help…a little.

    In talking with my counselor and reaching the end of my rope with my inability to control these emotional swings I considered medication. Just prior to this, for the first time in my life, I considered suicide. Not the passing thoughts everyone probably has, but all of a sudden it looked attractive as a way to end the constant emotional battle in my head. It scared me because I started to almost long for it all to end. I had never felt that so strongly. I was exhausted.

    I did some research on the best psychiatrists in my area, found one and set up an appointment with him. I saw him and actually had a great experience. I explained my distaste of medication to him and his response was “I don’t blame you, all medication is poison”. I thought, wow I like this guy already. After talking it through he gave a diagnosis and put me on Lamictal. He also wanted me to follow up with a psychologist as he felt it would be beneficial to get a full picture.

    The psychologist was great as well. Took an hour and half just talking to me and seemed genuinely interested in my well being. He had some disagreements with the first doctor, but they both agreed to stick with the lamical for a month and see how I did on it.

    I started on the Lamictal and, this is uncommon but was true for me, I felt effects the very first day. By the third day I commented to my wife “the noise in my head is quieting down, I can actually think!” By the second week I was in a couple situations that would have triggered immediate emotional responses and they didn’t. I felt in control. My wife began to comment how much more stable I seemed. It was actually working for me. It wasn’t without it’s side effects. For the first week I got headaches and had periods of anxiety, but it all leveled out. I had never felt this good in my entire life. I told my wife “if this is how normal people feel I’m so jealous!”

    I’m still on my very small initial dosage amount of lamictal. Everyone metabolizes it differently and apparently it has a direct route from my liver to my brain. 🙂 I feel amazing. I feel like the person I was supposed to be, but literally could not be in the past. I can’t tell you how many self-help books, counseling, meditation and things I tried. They helped in small bits. I’m not saying there was no value because like you, I think you have to start with your environment and what you put into your body.

    I would venture to guess the vast majority of people on mediation, both mental and physical could do away with them if they simply took care of themselves. It’s not a Dr’s job to make your life better, it’s yours. As a society we need to take responsibility for our own lives and well being. I think if you are honest with yourself that was your mistake in the beginning. I feel that it’s disingenuous to blame the Dr’s your daughter saw for what happened. It’s really your and your husband’s fault, evidenced by the fact that when you took charge and changed what you could control you fixed it. Did the Dr’s have any culpability? Probably, but again it’s not their job to make us well, it’s ours. I think our expectations of Dr’s need to change.

    Psychiatric medicine, just like physical medicine, has it’s place, and a great one at that. My life has changed immeasurably for the better. I am someone who really does need a pill. No different than the person who has high blood pressure and has done everything within their power to control it (exercise, diet and stress), but can’t. They really need medication to bring it down.

    Are their abuses of medication and people out for money? Absolutely. This is true of every profession you can find. Dr’s are no different. Every profession has good, mediocre and bad. I feel very fortunate that I found a good Dr.

    In closing I would encourage those who are struggling with some type of mental issue to change the things you can control. It is no secret that diet, lack of exercise, alcohol abuse, drugs and stress contribute to the majority of mental and physical maladies. You can control that so change it. Get counseling. If they don’t help seek out help. I’m so glad I did.

    If you are on the train of bashing all psychiatry and medication I would encourage you to be open minded. Yes there are abuses. Yes mediation is over prescribed. Yes we should take responsibility for our own well-being….but there are people who need it and the mediation is a life changer. There is no right answer for every person. Be kind and less judgmental. It will help you mentally. 🙂

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    • Hi Lord of the Fries,

      I agree with much of what you say but wanted to add a couple of things. I think the reasons why people are so angry at` psychiatry’ is more to do with the ‘lack of informed choice’ and ‘psychiatric power’. A psychiatrist from Ireland, Pat Bracken writes some very good articles about this.

      You should be able to choose medication and it should be available to you for the life changing results you describe. However, I really take issue with you suggesting Tabitha was to blame for what happened to her daughter. Tabitha and her husband and daughter deserved to be informed properly about the effects of medication, they should have been told about the lack of an ‘ ‘evidence base’ for the medical treatment she received, they should have been told about the different opinions in the field, and the many alternative approaches that people recommend. If they had been properly informed (particularly about the dangers of prozac to teenagers) I believe they would have made different choices. (And as Tabitha says the doctors too seem to be also uninformed which speaks to the ‘institutional corruption Whitaker writes about’) The problem is that in our society psychiatrists dominate the treatment of emotional distress, even though so many people report that their conditions are worse after treatment. Once psychiatry is no longer considered to be the sole ‘experts’ in the field, and once they no longer dominate the treatment of mental health, then psychiatrist could have things to offer to a select number to people. If they were ‘invited guests’ to someone’s treatment program (as it sounds like they were in your case) then that would be fine.

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        • I don’t disagree with anything you say. I think it would be extrememly helpful and is necessary for medicine in general to look at the whole person. Only treating symptoms rarely ends in success. There should be much more information provided up front about the meds and treatment plan.

          However, I stand by my statement that at the end of the day it was still their responsibility. We can hope for, but not expect that the Dr we deal with will make you fully aware and informed of side effects of a treatment plan. Before I took one Lamictal I did a lot of reading and research on the good and bad of the meds. What I could expect. I felt fully informed, but not because my Dr fully informed me. For example, neither my pyschiatrist nor the pharmacist told me I shouldn’t drink at while on Lamictal. I learned that myself.

          My point is before putting any meds in your body it is ultimately your and my responsibility to become informed and make the best choice. Dr’s are fallible, some are greedy and some just don’t care. Just make sure you are in charge or your life.

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          • I agree with both of you largely, but you’re points bring up the reality that, as many of us here have learned, doctors should never be trusted. Not necessarily because they are bad people, but because they are being misinformed by so called fraudulent “evidence based medicine.” And what the APA and AMA propagandize is “trust your doctor” and “never go off a drug without your doctor’s approval.” The potential impropriety of this propagandizing should be pointed out, given the magnitude of misinformation being given to the medical community, due to fraudulent pharmacutical industry drug testing.

            And your comments also point out the impropriety of forced or coerced medication of any kind. I’ve been researching, for ten years, into iatrogenic bipolar. And I would love to say all the antidepressants and antipsychotics should be banned, “because the doctors can’t handle them.” However, I have run into people who say they are helped by them, like you LordOfTheFlies. I’m glad you’ve been helped. But your choice of screen names is disconcerting, since “it is the literal translation of Beelzabub,” which is “another name for the devil,” which may undermine your potential credibility.

            Nonetheless, I believe it is possible that the antipsychotics may help those truly suffering from “psychosis.” However, the antipsychotics do turn those suffering from so called “psychosis,” due to misdiagnoses of ADRs or withdrawal effects of antidepressants or ADHD drugs, into actual “psychotics.” My research indicates most often due to poly drugging, which results in various stages of anticholinergic toxidrome, which emulates the symptoms of ‘schizophrenia.’

            But this does mean the DSM5’s new claims that ADHD drug and antidepressant induced iatrogenic ‘bipolar’ creation is an appropriate “standard of care” is grotesquely wrong. Most of today’s ‘bipolar’ patients are likely dealing with anticholinergic toxidrome, not the unproven ‘bipolar disorder’ or ‘schizophrenia.’

            We need a return to the understanding everyone is different, and medicine is an art, thus the patient’s comments are the most important. “Evidence based medicine” is fraud.

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  16. All sorts of deeply troubling emotional distress can occur in the life of a 13-year-old. Profound physical and mental changes are taking place due to puberty… Extreme pressure to achieve, conform, to be accepted by the “in” crowd, and to appear “attractive” or even “sexy”… Physical and psychological bulling of all types can occur at school, on Facebook, etc…

    Perhaps some of the above was happening, but you didn’t realize the extent or harm of it. You mentioned you were very busy with work and that your husband was only coming home on weekends (when I image he may have remained occupied preparing lesson plans and grading papers, etc.)

    I just don’t believe psychoactive drugs are a solution for any of this, especially for a child.

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  17. I think that your story about your experience with distress and medication is important. There are psychiatrists who believe, as yours does, that “all (psychiatric) medication is poison”, but who also understand that when used appropriately can provide some relief. One of the important issues in prescribing medication is to not buy into the diseased brain model nor to use medication in high doses or constantly add medication. Good psychiatrists will understand that medication does interfere with normal brain function, but can dull certain symptoms so that a person can feel somewhat better while trying to deal with underlying life problems.
    On the other hand, the use of psychiatric medication in children and adolescents should be avoided at all cost. There is very little evidence that in young populations that these medications do anything useful. There is substantial evidence that they interfere with normal brain development and a young person’s ability to grow emotionally.

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    • Norman

      I like some of your ideas and the effort you are making to be a different kind of doctor/psychiatrist.

      Consider not calling psychotropic drugs “medications.” To call them “medications” heavily implies the whole disease concept of “mental illness” and reinforces everything that is wrong with the current mental health system.

      Psychiatric drugs are mind altering substances just like cocaine and opiates. Certain mind altering substances may, in some circumstances and for a short period of time, have an overall positive effect on a human being. However, there needs to be an accurate cost/benefit analysis completed to avoid serious harm in the long run.


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      • Hi Richard,

        I do like and agree with your distinction between medication and drugs. Perhaps we should be using the word medication for a chemical that makes an abnormal situation normal, such as an antibiotic, and the word drug for a chemical that makes a normal body response abnormal though it may alter symptoms. This does leave a grey area though, as in the case of using anti-histamines for allergies, where the release of histamines is a normal body response but the allergic response itself could be seen as abnormal.

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  18. I am very grateful and relieved to see emotionally tempered responses now. I have worked in the emergency rooms, in jails, in county locked units and I have seen extreme states that needed medication as a first line strategy for avoiding self-injury. There is no warm and loving embrace for an individual who is so agitated, in such distress that they are willing and capable to harming others in order to be able to harm themselves. Again after this there should be a full evaluation and then reconsideration of what kind of intervention is needed. Unfortunately this does not happen in crowded, emergency departments or jail. So the failure is on the second step and that is only going to become worse since beds are being cut and resources allocated to the AOT and community mental health centers that don’t usually see individuals who are in emergency states of distress. There are several populations that we are dealing with here; the extreme, emergency states of emotional distress and then the serious, persistent states that can be and should be managed very differently. We need to be clear about differences in intensity of emotional pain as well as the context and situation that they are in. Treating everyone alike is not realistic or helpful.

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    • There are definitely alternatives to medication for people in extreme states, it is just not how our current system is set up. People helped people through extreme states for centuries before medication, and modern day ‘sanctuaries’ such as Soteria house etc. are more recent examples. There is also medications to help someone calm down and sleep while they are in an extreme state, which is different then putting people on more powerful psychotropic medications. The reason why I write this is because the introduction of powerful medications for some people starts off a vicious cycle which makes it difficult for them not to continue on the medications, and can lead to much worsening symptoms and withdrawal effects. We had to help our love one through an extreme state without outside help, and yes, warm and loving interactions, setting up a safe environment, 24/7 vigilance worked – it wasn’t easy but it worked in the end, and even the `warm and loving embraces’ happened although, I grant you, that didn’t happen until much. much later!!!

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    • Let’s start with the fact that if you’re raping someone with a needle and then do it over and over again it’s hard to expect they will ever get better. I’ve seen how these “hospitals” look like and if I were a sadistic psychopath I’d immediately go work there. You don’t treat anything with torture, period.
      Btw, everyone has a right to self injury.

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  19. Sure haldol is good for a guy banging his head against the wall. But in general the meds just aren’t that good. ADD meds work well for some people, but antidepressants, in general, suck. Antipsychotics, in general, cause harm.

    I am diagnosed bipolar because a doctor gave me wellbutrin four years ago and it drove me insane.

    My life has been destroyed partly due to psychiatry. Dirty business.

    Tabita, great article. Thank God you saved your daughter from psychiatry. Sucks that you lost a year though. I lost four, and counting…..

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    • “Sure haldol is good for a guy banging his head against the wall.”
      No it is not. I’ve been there, I was suicidal and the worst thing that people do is to treat you like a freaking criminal and rape you with their drugs. It only makes things worse and suicidal people more suicidal (personal experience) and aggressive people more aggressive. you don’t put the fire out by pouring gasoline on it. Nobody deserves needle rape.

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    • Hi John,

      It has certainly crossed my mind to send a copy of my book to several of Rebecka’s psychiatrists—and now this article. My guess is that they don’t often hear these type of “success stories,” because families such as ours want to stay far, far away. I will give it some more thought. I honestly have no idea what the response would be. I would hope that it would at least plant a seed that there is a different way.

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  20. Hundreds of people who are brought into the psych emergency or medical emergency rooms have no families to be with them 24/7, . I worked with individuals who have been homeless for years and there is no one to care for them when they are in extreme states. The respite centers are few and far between, not anywhere near Los Angeles and beds are limited. Mostly families who can do a bit of research can access these preferred environments. I am referring here and talking about a population that has no one to turn to. That is why they wind up sitting in isolated jail cells, in great emotional pain for months and months, no family or friends to advocate for them. Again, this is a huge population that is invisible to most people unless you work with them

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  21. Even this story is extremely superficial. A 13-year old does not like to be addressed as a kid. They are young adults and want everything the world has to offer and most of it is denied them. They are interested in sex and can’t have sex or are denied sexual contacts. They are interested in power and attaining it through relations with older people. They are interested in learning through the experience of seniors. A 13-year old understands everything. You can tell him/her everything, what an 18-year old won’t understand, because they have been tutored by “grownups” – regular teachers, parents and superiors who know how the world works and what is expected of people who are supposed to enter it. A 13-year old doesn’t know this shit, and you can regularly call it crap. Talking about your children as “children” devoids their meaning and makes them suicidal because their lives are left meaningless. The same thing happens to psychiatric inmates. Why are psychiatric inmates suicidal? Because they are in psychiatry. Let’s not call it psychiatry, it has nothing to do with health care. Let’s call it imprisonment.

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  22. Let me start by saying thank you for the work you do for people. I have read your articles and believe your advocacy must have provided great hope and comfort for people who are truly disenfranchised.

    However, what you are saying is exactly my point – our current system is not set up to allow most people to have a viable option to psychotropic medication. Although I admire so much people who try to provide good care by working in the trenches of the system, we still have to fight to create a system for all that does not further harm people by giving medications without inform consent , or because there are not other viable options (and this type of system would certainly not need to be more expensive than our current medical system).

    There are survivors who post here who strongly say they would prefer prison (if they did not need to be medicated) than being forced to take medication because of the lasting damage they feel they have suffered from these medications. I am so adamant about this because of seeing my loved suffer severe damage from medication. The way our system is set up did not allow us the opportunity to access a ‘preferred environment’. Our only option to this was to do it ourselves and it was extremely difficult. Yes our loved one and us were lucky that we at least had that option, but I also want people in prison and homeless people to have the right to have options free of psychotropic medications in case they too are of the group to suffer worsening symptoms and lasting damage from the drugs. I wonder if part of this solution is using other drugs rather than antipsychotics during extreme states as some of the psychiatrists that post here suggest, and of course the other solution is diverting money from hospitals to sanctuaries in terms of extreme distress.

    I wonder if our difference is because you are speaking ‘practically’ in terms of the system we have now; and I am saying that this is a crucial issue to fight to change. Once my own family is back in tact, that is certainly the area where I will be devoting my energies.

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    • Let me know when you are ready to fight for change…..I will join in. However, as you know, hospitals are now on the no-fund list so diverting money is not an option, States and the Fed have decided to put funds into the out-patient system since this is more economical than funding in-patient beds at 800 per day. The better option is to work on the medication issue; I know from experience that the drugs used as a first line treatment are only used once and then we wait and if I am on the case I try desperately to find family or friends. It’s a very tough situation with dozens of people coming in, less and less staff, no beds and people in terrible states, physically and emotionally. They are usually medically sick as you can imagine.

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      • Thank you for your response – and I am truly, truly grateful that there are people like you out there. You must have amazing compassion and stamina. I really will contact you when our recovery is further along ……..

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          • margiealtman,
            I feel that I am still in the middle of my narrative but when we are further along I would be very interested in contacting you about a narrative for your book
            ( ….-something wierd happened to the comments on this thread – I can no longer see your comment previous to this)..

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  23. I would like to say this. You are a very courageous mother and woman. I applaud what you have you done. I don’t care what anyone may say. The medications-all medications- are very dangerous and especially to those still growing like your precious daughter. I am very glad for you that she is doing better. I have my doubts about DBT; but, am glad it worked for your daughter.
    I did not get into the medication racket until I was in my thirties; no longer a child. I have finally stopped taking the meds in the last two years. I can no longer take any pills. I do take “liquid Tylenol” occasionally for the “withdrawal aches, pains, and headaches.”
    I do remember what my late sister said when I first got prescribed the toxic, addictive psychiatric medications back in the winter of 1991. She said in despair, ” I DON’T WANT TO LOSE YOU!!!”
    Sadly, I lost her to cancer and a blood clot in her brain. The cancer is horrible and probably would have caused her death; but the blood clot that really killed her was a side effect from all the chemotherapy and treatments she received. I have no proof. My parents refused to do an autopsy.
    I don’t care what anyone says. DRUGS KILL-ALL DRUGS;JUST LISTEN TO THE ADDS AND THE SIDE EFFECTS THEY DESCRIBE!!! Please listen. I know the cancer was killing my sister; but, I believe the drugs and treatments assisted in her untimely death. We should think about this in terms of psychiatry, also and definitely and in all medicine likewise. Buyer beware, as they say; is so very important because the well-being and lives of ourselves and our loved ones and the population of the planet are at stake. Now, they even have drugs for our pet dogs that have “deadly side effects.” All we have now is God. Please help us! Thank you.

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    • Yes, while I have spent the last three years focusing on psychiatric and alternative treatments for kids suffering emotional distress and behavioral problems, I know this is a bigger issue. Someone who interviewed me on a radio show last week actually brought this up as well. I thought that was very perceptive. There are so many chronic illnesses that I believe would also diminish if we created a society designed to optimize mental health, because it all goes together! I am not fundamentally anti medication, but I do believe that having a profit-based medical system is completely unethical. Health care should be about individual people’s best interest, not the bottom line.

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  24. Beautiful and brave story, thank you for sharing it. You brought great meaning to your journey.

    I agree completely that a becoming truly nurturing society would bring much-needed radical change. Each of us, one at a time, with ourselves and each other, then as a family, then as a community, rippling out into the world at large.

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  25. This is the way the psychiatrist thinks: I state that I do not want to do any more “drugs” I feel like I do when I stopped drinking alcohol in my twenties; clean inside and out. I do convince her to take me off lithium, finally; but, she then, upon my objections and after what I told her, prescribes a low dose of risperidal; probably one of the toxic drugs that caused me all the horrific trouble in the first place. WHY? She was afraid that I would “relapse” so this was supposed to be a “prevention?” She did not listen to me. I refuse to see her. Earlier, this year she was admonishing me for not sticking with Seroquel long enough for it to work. Seroquel gave me zombieism and “psychotic thinking.” Before, any of these “drugs”, I was never psychotic; just normal depression, maybe some anxiety, a prolonged identity and career crisis, and then grief from my sister’s death. I did have a occasional suicidal thoughts and self-harming thoughts as a young person. My father served in Vietnam. I had some obstacles to overcome; but, would have been fine without the “drugs.” On the “drugs” I somehow got OCD, schizo-affective disorder and who knows what else. Before the “drugs” I had my bad days and maybe months, but, I was ME. After the “drugs”, I am trying to restore “ME” to “ME” Thank God, I have found salvation through Jesus Christ and He has guided me to a local church, books, scripture, and daily walks that help me. With the help of Jesus Christ, I am coming home to myself free from the “drugs” that are against His teachings and Love.

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    • Exactly what happened to me. I was “sane” only a bit unhappy in a toxic relationship (well, quite a bit unhappy). With the meds I got batsh*t crazy to the point I could not eat, sleep, work or do anything but cry in between panic attacks. Weird how it all went away with trashing the pills and the toxic bf.

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  26. Nice story. As a parent I identified on so many levels with it. I’m glad you saw the light.
    My suggestion is that you will be more effective as a mother repeating your personal story than making a skewed leap into dismantling capitalism. Seriously? Russia once did the same. While it’s tempting to hate big bad pharma, and most of us probably do on this site, why not work tirelessly to educate people to stop being suckered and coerced into making bad decisions that affect themselves and others. There’s a sucker born every minute, as the old saying goes. You’ll have plenty of work just focusing on that growing segment and you won’t risk alienating people who need to hear your message but may be fine with computers, synthetic materials, flying machines and motorized vehicles, or even non-organic food. I believe that most of us do well to focus on what we know best. Yours is a powerful story and you’ve got lived experience as a parent. We haven’t yet won the biggest battle – making everyone an informed consumer when it comes to psych drugs and learning about how to grow resiliency instead of reaching for a pill.

    “We need a nuanced, humanistic, non-pharmaceutical industry influenced, truly well-informed curriculum for schools, community centres and religious organizations that provides education to children, youth and their parents about the spectrum of human experience, life transitions, and ways in which boyhood (!), distress, unusual experiences and stress can be resiliently handled.”

    Keep telling your story.

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    • Capitalism is a huge problem. It’s unsustainable too since it requires economy to forever “grow” which can’t happen on this one planet. It’s already killing the environment.
      I don’t know what an answer is, some form of socialism or something else but we have to find it and do it fast.

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      • Your comment beautifully captures the problem with mixing excellence in mental health care with people’s personal views on just about anything else. Debating the merits of capitalism versus socialism leads people on huge detours around helping themselves and others to get to the goal of wellness. (Consider that it’s not the form of government, it’s how any of these systems can be corrupted by lax laws and lack of oversight.) Tabitha Green’s post is good on so many levels that would resonate with any parent who has been rudely awakened by a mental health label slapped on their child. Her post also ties in very well with Ron Unger’s post that appears today, especially the chillingly clinical assessment of her daughter. Hope dies right there. Do these mental health “professionals” have any idea of how these assessments prevent parents carrying a healing message into the home?

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        • Rossa, thanks for your thoughts. My conclusion from years of research and conversation and thinking about this topic is that there is no way to separate mental health from social, political, and ethical issues. So much of the suffering we see today is a direct result of a profit-at-all-cost system. As several readers have pointed out, capitalism as we know it is not sustainable. I appreciate your pointers on how to be most effective, but my conscience tells me I must work toward building a different society—one based on cooperation, kindness, equality, and sustainability. We can all start doing this where we live, family by family, community by community.

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    • Obviously you don’t get it.

      My suggestion is that you will be more effective as a mother repeating your personal story than making a skewed leap into dismantling capitalism. Seriously? Russia once did the same. While it’s tempting to hate big bad pharma, and most of us probably do on this site, why not work tirelessly to educate people to stop being suckered and coerced into making bad decisions that affect themselves and others.

      There is no contradiction between Tabitha relaying her story on a personal mother/child level and at the same time making the connection to capitalism as the primary source of and perpetuator of the emotional pain which we are conned into believing is an individual problem rather than a collective, and political, one.

      “A skewed leap into abandoning capitalism”? Skewed how? Russia — i.e. the USSR — never abandoned capitalism, incidentally, it just held it in check for awhile. We need to learn from the mistakes of history and explore how socialism was undermined and overthrown in the places where it briefly thrived, and quickly out. We need to understand that the political function of institutional psychiatry, regardless of all the babble about “help,” is to keep people holding themselves responsible for their own oppression instead of the powers-that-be. It is unhelpful and simplistic to maintain that it’s merely a matter of “people making choices.” The “choices” we make come from a stacked deck, like the choice between Coke and Pepsi.

      Debating the merits of capitalism versus socialism leads people on huge detours around helping themselves and others to get to the goal of wellness.

      Clearly I differ. I would say that such a debate is a mandatory precursor to eliminating the evils of this system and creating life-sustaining alternatives; included amongst these evils is the scourge of psychiatry. Not acknowledging the rule of profit over people, and the need to stop it, would be not only a detour but a dead end. How would this contribute to “wellness”?

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  27. “We medicate kids to adapt them to their surroundings (think public school or an unstable home). But we don’t talk much about adapting the surroundings to the kids. ”

    I’m so happy that you’ve been able to save your daughter from the monster of psychiatry. She “only” lost a year, some people lose their lives. She’s lucky to have you.

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  28. This time, I respectfully disagree with you, B. Capitalism is a huge problem in that it can breed contempt corruption, and greed; however, I am afraid that socialism may breed dehumization and an even more Orwellian life than we are already inhabitating. I know that many will not agree with me or find me either not politically correct or trying to convert you to a belief system you find difficult to consider; but I am thoroughly convinced after all I have been through in this life, that JESUS IS THE ANSWER; to all questions. Thank you for letting me state my opinion.

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    • If you believe that Jesus is the answer, then you should also be aware that Jesus was fundamentally a socialist. He fought against corporate and establishment interests and tried to bring equality to the people. Free health care, using a caring relationship as a basis, is one of the main points Jesus is known for. Americans tend to have a distorted view of socialism based on propaganda. All the countries in the world that are rated as the happiest places to live have strong socialistic policies.

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      • This is a very good point, Norman. As a naturalized English-born US citizen (now dual citizen of America and England), I think that socialism is misunderstood by many, perhaps most Americans and that the social benefits of well-run state healthcare programs are indeed, as you say, a key factor in supporting the happiest, healthiest societies in the world. As I’ve written elsewhere, American seems to suffer from the illusion that absolute freedom, individualism, autonomy and achievement, are values to be promoted over community, dependence, love, and shared sacrifice. I believe this dates back to the earliest values of the Puritan settlers which are, unfortunately, not always relevant to our very different modern society. I hope this will change over time and I think it will as young people mature.

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  29. Wow Tabita, you have hit the nail on the head. Firstly let me say ‘thank goodness you only lost a year’!!! So many have lost so much more. The friend that gave you the book is such a blessing! and good on you for taking to to heart and taking action – again many dont.

    I totally agree that we need to change the system but there is no money to be made in that so I dont know how we can do it. I have tried in my own way – I homeschooled my kids to keep them out of the toxicity of that institutional system and I currently work to build community/friendship based mental health supports that allow space for peer based support rather than expert/sick person support. This means better connection and real support as opposed to all that weird professional boundary shit where a practitioner cant actually be a human!! ( I work in that system too as a mental health support person – paid job)

    But ultimately our society is broken. We have to build an inclusive, family centric community again and I dont know how we do that. Mums are at work and kids are in care and we are so focused on individuality and homogenisation – government cant see that the structures they put in place are the things that are actually causing the epidemic we are facing. If we paid mums to stay at home (and let them network and go to play group and give them time so they arent so stressed, and volunteer at the local kinder gym where their kids go etc etc) then we might see the beginnings of change…. but until then….

    I want to start a movement that looks at where all this begins not something that tries to ‘educate’ professionals (that are currently doing their best in a flawed system) to somehow do better. Its rediculous to think we can hand over our kids to professionals and they can somehow raise them for us.

    i havent read your book so maybe you are not advocating that…. and Im not trying to be critical or negative I just have trouble seeing how system change works without families at the centre.

    Sending blessing to you and thankyou so much for your writings1!!!!Q!!

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  30. Thanks for your comment. Families absolutely have to be at the center! That’s why a lot of the policy changes I advocate for have to do with families: parental leave, living wages, child-centered education, etc. But the more I’ve pondered the topic, I’ve realized that change has to start with families and communities—a bottom-up approach. It won’t be easy, but I can’t think of a better way to spend the rest of my living days. I hope you have a chance to check out my book! Peace to you.

    P.S. If you want your mind blown—and a model for how to do it without money—check out Michael Tellinger’s “UBUNTU Contributionism.”

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    • Tabita, I am so happy to see you bring up Tellinger and UBUNTU contributionsim. I’ve seen one of his videos, and that was enough. This is one of the things I learned along my healing journey that was a game-changer, and it DID blow my mind, still does.

      Indeed, it is not about money, but about creating abundance. Learning this will change the world, because it will release our financial dependence and shift the collective into a cooperative rather than competitive space. It also brings to light our own power to create freely, at will.

      I can’t say enough how my life changed in every way for the better once I learned and practiced ‘abundance.’ Has nothing to do with money, but more about faith in community, trusting a process, and making sharing a priority. Same principles as Kabbalah, and other ancient spiritual teachings (non-religious). I think that’s the ticket. Thank you!

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  31. Great story! And great comments!
    I too live in Iowa and we had a son that was off in college in Boston when his life fell apart. Try that commute. We followed your path because this seems to be the one most traveled today. Until I found Whitakers books and realized there was another way. What a journey our mind can take us on.

    We humans are creatures that love to pattern match to form habits and addictions that are routine to the mind because of our survival mechanism. They become our reality and get stored in our subconscious mind. Learning to go to the edge of our minds is important but coming back can be treacherous but necessary. Time is a major factor (or the lack of) and one that is in short supply today because of our modern lifestyles. We want the quick fix and we even read this in your book title.

    Practice the mindfulness, meditation, dreaming out loud, and telling a great story. Then give this to others and most importantly your children.


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  32. When you struggle agains, psychiatric prejudice, and an ingrained belief system, that is both profitable, and deadly. It can feel a little like the lone voice crying in the wilderness.

    Anorexia, is one of the most deadly illnesses that affect children, it is often a condition that goes on for decades, with residential treatments, and their regimentation becoming a part of every families lives.

    While you desperately search for answers, and wonder why this happens to your child, and your family.

    What you find in the end, often is that the end, is just as puzzling as the beginning, though not as examined.

    Drugs, are what psychiatry has to offer, and behavior mod, and really nothing else. The Yoga and mindfulness, are adjuncts that really mean they don’t know what to do therapeutically, because it wasn’t in the text books they read to get their degree.

    Yes, Yoga, can help but its a self discipline, something everyone needs, but it isn’t a therapy.

    Good luck to you and your family, and thanks fore writing this.

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