A Not-So-Charmed Life

Redmond O'Hanlon, DPhil
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If you looked at photos of Luke Montagu in the grounds of Mapperton, his stunning ancestral manor, you might well envy his lot. Look closer and you’ll sense that his story has not always been one of wine and roses, for the next Lord Sandwich has spent most of the last seven years in hell, thanks to the interventions of drug-obsessed psychiatrists. Yet, though his experience was heartbreaking, often terrifying, it is now becoming a story full of hope and resilience, of grace and grit, for he has co-founded the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry as his contribution to the information war on the false or misleading claims made about the benefits of psychotropic drugs.

The other main focus of Montagu’s relentless work is the gathering of psychiatric drug-survival stories, but I think that the impact of non-survival stories could be equally powerful. Consider the case of little Rebecca Riley: on Dec. 13, 2006, police found a little four-year-old girl lying dead on the floor next to her parents’ bed, her lungs filled with fluid.  The autopsy revealed that she had died from an overdose of psychiatric drugs designed to tame “an impossible child.” The U.S., unlike us, has targeted millions of children with a series of concerted campaigns to increase, exponentially, the rate of bipolar diagnosis, aided and abetted by a Big Pharma-backed Harvard psychiatrist, Prof. J. Biederman, who is still revered and honoured by the American medical establishment. Rebecca had been treated for bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, since she was barely able to speak. Now this may seem unusual, but in the States it’s not. Even in 2006, it was estimated that there were nearly one million U.S. children diagnosed as bipolar, with drugs being the first-line treatment. Would a cascade of stories like Rebecca’s not bring us all out onto the streets in grief and rage, demanding immediate, zero-tolerance regulation?

As a young student, Montagu had a bad reaction to a sinus operation and fell into the care of a British biomedical GP, who prescribed the antidepressant Prozac for a depression he hadn’t got! This was just the first slide down a very slippery slope as, like so many hopefuls, he was lured into Prozac by a doctor who had fallen for the early hype. Now this was the drug that promised a life-change, happiness and a new, designer personality. What  it did produce, however, was so many thousands of adverse effects in the U.S. within three years of its apparition that the FDA was forced to hold a major hearing, whose very negative findings were shamefully glossed over by a majority on the jury who were in the pay of Big Pharma. And, yet, its popularity grew and grew, despite the fact that in its first ten years of life there were 39,000 adverse reports about it sent to Medwatch. What price a victory for health, ethics and science over brilliant marketing? One is forced here to ask where the real madness lies.

Montagu then ”progressed” to a series of other SSRIs, and then to a cosy little cocktail of other drugs: biomedical psychiatry (BMP) has no qualms about using its patients as guinea pigs for casual drug experiments, in the vague hope that something might “work”. Unfortunately, however, BMP isn’t interested in persons, but in symptoms, so when interpreting psychiatric and Big Pharma research you need to go into sleuth mode and examine very carefully the outcomes section to see what this actually means: it usually means the short-term relief of a few, among many, symptoms and the emotional dumbing-down of its victims, with scant attention being paid to their personal growth and quality of life. Live, horse, and you’ll get poison.

At a later stage, Effexor became Montagu’s next Big White Hope, another miracle drug that promised to sort him out, but which wired him to the moon. To counter this, clonazepam was then summoned to the front, but instead of helping him to sleep, it made him forgetful. Like so many millions of hopeful, gullible, depressed patients, he, too, was seduced by his doctors into swallowing a story that has been completely discredited since the early 90s: the chemical imbalance hypothesis, or “theory”, which was used to justify his multiple antidepressant prescriptions.

Over the years, Montagu tried several times to come off his drugs, but was soon shepherded back onto them by doctors who believed, or said they believed, that it was the return of his “illness”, and not the classic withdrawal symptoms. I was puzzled by the fact that he stayed on these drugs for 20 years, even though there was nothing ”wrong” with him and he was functioning well at work and in relationships, though he did say he wasn’t 100%. Might his persistence have been due to the sheer power of Big Pharma marketing? Might his various withdrawal attempts have been driven by a deep, but unconscious intuition that he was slowly losing his freedom, himself and his vitality through addiction? Whatever the reason, what frightens me is that SSRIs can have such a long-lasting, toxic grip on someone who was perfectly normal, and who didn’t need them; but when we witness daily the ease with which medics prescribe drugs so promiscuously, my astonishment is probably very naïve, indeed. (Only a fortnight ago, I came across three people prescribed Prozac, Xanax and Zoloft for post-operative discomfort, fear of flying and a romantic break-up, respectively!)

“No, the SSRIs did not help me during all those years, and simply led to more drugs, the totality of which has greatly harmed me.  I was put on an SSRI following a bad reaction to an operation and kept on for years through repeat prescriptions; in 2003 I tried to come off, went into severe withdrawal and was then given four new drugs. I decided to come off because I was getting sleepy and forgetful, and felt the benzo wasn’t good to take long term.  But after the detox I educated myself and realised the whole thing was a tragic scam.”

Peter Breggin has often highlighted the addictive nature of most psychotropic drugs, and his book on withdrawal is invaluable in alerting us to the precise dangers posed by them to health, life and sanity. He would not be at all surprised to learn that Montagu’s attempts to extricate himself from his drugs led to the discovery that, in effect, he had become addicted, trapped like a demented butterfly in the bell-jar of psychiatric ignorance, incompetence or complicity with Big Pharma. Each time, he was duly offered the standard, but mindless, knee–jerk response of biomedical psychiatrists when he experienced horrible withdrawal effects: ”Yes, it’s just the return of your ‘psychiatric disorder’; proof positive that you desperately need these drugs for life.” I cannot see why in our present state of knowledge any doctor peddling this standard ploy should not be considered culpably ignorant and guilty of highly unethical behaviour. Should it not now be declared a crime by every responsible government?

The turning-point for Montagu came when he went to The Priory, and was immediately taken off his sleeping pills, which he’d been on for years. Little wonder he is so motivated to highlight withdrawal issues, for in no time this move had disastrous consequences: a fried brain and a tsunami of horrific symptoms. He fled The Priory in terror and disarray, which soon became what Barthes called disreality. However, making the decision to discharge himself was the easy bit, as he now had to face the cataclysmic withdrawal effects, and the loss of any sense of self. Later, in a state of very fragile selfhood, he took a court action against his doctor, whose incredible incompetence cost him £1.35 million, but all the forces of traditional psychiatry were here summoned against Montagu in a frightening, Kafkaesque process.

During his seven-year withdrawal period, Luke Montagu, like Hamlet, soon lost all his mirth, his appreciation of nature and his desire for social contact; and, like Hamlet, he ended up having to play at being himself. This, tragically, is the fate of so many unwitting SSRI victims like him who were betrayed by trusted psychiatric ”experts”; bamboozled into accepting myriad diagnoses and drug switches (in his case, nine of them). This is what must inevitably happen if one is hellbent on conquering a “disease” that doesn’t exist.  I think here of Chekhov, a wise, compassionate doctor with no illusions, who has  Gaev reflect, in Cherry Orchard: “If there’s any illness for which people offer many remedies, you may be sure that particular illness is incurable.” (Guido Cerenetti once asked, provocatively:”Do you want to become a medical specialist? Then specialize, as did the most subtle Egyptians, in Unknown Illnesses.”)

The breaking–point came when Montagu finally collapsed in impotent tears at a meeting, so had to retire from his beloved work in film for three years. He described to me the terrible emptiness of those years when he became incapable of doing anything at all, except mooch around the house, longing for night to come came, with its promise of soothing sleep. “I couldn’t read or even watch TV, but just hung in there, waiting for the balm of sleep.”  This was to be his Via Dolorosa, his long, arduous trek to complete withdrawal, with its awful somatic, psychological and social consequences: he lost several people close to him, who refused to believe that it was the drugs which were nearly destroying him. This is a terrible tribute to the power of Big Pharma marketing and to its psychiatric accomplices who have instilled in us the crazy, almost unshakeable, belief that SSRIs actually work, and do no harm, regardless  of the of the numerous research studies showing the opposite. Plato warned us long ago about the danger posed to truth by the rhetoric of Sophists.

His desperation in those dark days is perhaps best captured by his mother, who has spoken of her own devastation, and that of three generations, at being engulfed by Luke’s distress: on several Christmasses she and his wife tried to hold him together as he shrieked “I want to die!” and lay howling in despair, unable to come downstairs.

With thousands of stories like that of Luke Montagu emerging from the silence, it is little wonder that the renowned British critical psychiatrist, Phil Thomas, should deem it necessary to write: “If the blimp that is psychiatric treatment were a passenger aircraft, the authorities would have grounded it many years ago, but still it continues to inflict harm on countless thousands of people. I read Joanna Moncrieff’s latest book with a growing sense of anger and shame. The roots of drug treatment in psychiatry are thoroughly rotten. They sustain the decaying trunk of psychiatric theory and practice through mis-representations and untruths; it is snake oil peddled by quackery.”

This is very much in line with the views of the great visionary Irish psychiatrist, Ivor Browne, who has this to say about our prescription drug culture: “Anything that removes anxiety will be potentially addictive,” echoing the repeated assertions of the world expert in the field, Peter Breggin. “The person experiencing difficulties must work to overcome the traumas they have suffered with the support of a therapist. Psychotherapy, when it’s effectively undertaken, is the only real therapy…Prozac and all other SSRIs are actually dangerous and in my opinion should never be used.”, says Browne, yet it is commonplace for people, even children, to be on an arsenal of such drugs. I met a young woman recently at a conference who told me she was on 13 different drugs for her depression, and then for the numerous side-effects of an expanding series of drugs designed to counter the toxic effects of the previous one.

She, wisely, had decided to get off her drugs, but, unwisely, had decided to manage her own withdrawal.  And the very intelligent film star Brenda Fricker recently announced that she was on a winning cocktail of 23 drugs for her depression: her wonderful, heroic doctors had finally got the right combo that has changed her life, but, as Brecht said: ”Unhappy the land that needs heroes.” She, obviously, has bought the big Pharma story that this change was wrought by magic drugs and wizard doctors, but not by the powerful placebo effect, which, as we know from many recent studies, especially at Harvard, is crucial to physical and psychological healing. Complicit biomedical psychiatrists, and Big Pharma’s marketing campaigns, have successfully convinced most of the world that these are drug effects. “They would, wouldn’t they”, as Mandy Rice-Davies famously said of the British Establishment in the 60s.

After a long conversation with him on Saturday, I felt that Luke Montagu seemed very real, grounded, and hopeful as he makes his painful journey back to himself: “Recently”, he said, “I’ve started to feel like me again. I can think clearly and remember stuff. I still get a lot of physical pain, and cannot risk the pleasure of a pint or a glass of wine, which my body cannot metabolize.” And, for me, what is really frightening is that these after-effects are still affecting his body seven years later. But there’s not a sign here of a stiff upper lip, just a steely determination to draw on his quiet rage, if not his “saeva indignatio.” There are dark times when I feel that the druggie doxa is unassailable, but Montagu is up for the battle. Echoing Darwin and Huxley long ago, he said: “This is an information war that must be fought,” referring to the gap between what numerous impeccable studies show and actual psychiatric practice. But facts and science rarely win us over unaided by powerful, persuasive stories which seize our hearts and imaginations: this is why in 17th.C.France the same training manuals were used by both barristers and actors.  I reckon that this war will have to be fought on several fronts, bearing in mind that where Huxley went for full-frontal scientific attack, Darwin knew that, since their views would undermine a powerful cultural doxa, obliquity and indirection, allied to the slow drip-drip of scientific research, would pave the way to victory. ”Tell it slant,” as Emily Dickinson advised around the same time. Perhaps, then, Montagu’s experience in film, plus his story initiative and an adroit exploitation of the social media, need to be drawn on to counter the Leviathan that is Big Pharma marketing.

Montagu is determined to highlight not only the toxic effects of psychotropic drugs, but the huge time-bomb of drug withdrawal, to which Peter Breggin has devoted a most terrifying and unsettling book, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal (2013). How many biomedical psychiatrists have read Whitaker, Breggin, Thomas or Moncrieff? How many tell their patients the bad news? How many propose a planned withdrawal to their patients? And even if they do, Montagu is convinced that few medics are competent to oversee and titrate such withdrawal. I would like to know how many of them even see it as an issue. Appropriately supervised withdrawal for people on psychotropics for any length of time could be a matter of life and death – hence his question: “Where are the SSRI withdrawal centres?”

“Another thing I’d like to highlight is that there are no studies that show ANY benefits from long-term SSRI use.” I would add here that biomedical psychiatry will point to “good outcomes” in some studies, but here’s the rub: this often means that the patient has been rendered “manageable”, usually with severe emotional blunting. (See the Sansones’ 2010 article on SSRI-induced indifference.)

And we might pose here another awkward question to traditional psychiatrists: “Why do people diagnosed as mentally ill lose, on average, 17 years of precious life?” As many recent studies have shown, this is NOT due to their mental illnesses at all, as biomedical psychiatrists usually claim.

Luke Montagu is well on the way to transforming his painful experiences of bitter pills into a project that may greatly enhance the quality of life and health of future generations – and save the lives of millions. His Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry will soon be hosting what should be a consciousness-altering international conference on the epidemic of psychiatric drug use, entitled “More Harm than Good”. Although there are still a few places left for this landmark event, it is likely to be standing-room only as many sense already that it will mark a real turning-point in the fight against the promiscuous medicalization of everyday life, enabled by GPs and the psychiatric profession. It will take place in Roehampton University, London, on September 18, and will feature virtually every top name in the field, including Peter Breggin, Bob Whitaker, Jo Moncrieff, and the fiercely independent Cochrane researcher Peter Gøtzsche of the ‘Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry,’ one of the very rare people to have published in the Big Five medical journals.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting story, and some striking parallels with my own–20 years on meds, ending up on 9, then finally coming off all of them, which led to healing and transformation. This particular journey led me to filmmaking, as well.

    I wonder just how many stories there are out there of people who suffered from multiple psych drugs and then came off of them after a long period of time, only to recover their lives, health, and move on to become grounded, centered, and creating joyfully in life. Although for me, psychotherapy also proved to be toxic and harmful. It was when I stopped psychotherapy and began to learn my own intuitive sense of what I needed, that I was able to clear my head and heal my heart. That led to reclaiming my life in full.

    Our stories of healing outside of current mental health practices is the best evidence there is that the mental health field is sorely misguided. There are so many safe and effective ways to find healing on the planet. Although it will be different for everyone.

  2. Redmond,

    This is a fascinating and very well-written story and critique; thank you. After all he’s been through, it’s heartening to see Luke doing something proactive and potentially change-making with his Psychiatry Council initiative.

    For those interested, there are more images of Luke Montagu’s Mapperton estate in the link below, since the article above appears to be behind a paywall. Mapperton is a wonderful English house; it looks like it dates to the year 1086. I like scary movies and it occurs to me that this house would be a great haunted house!

    http://mapperton.com/

    My father was hospitalized at the Priory in the north of England, which I assume is the same one that Montagu got treated at.

    It was the late 90s and my English family had recently been torn apart by my father becoming increasingly severely depressed and unable to function at a job. But at the Priory my father was heavily medicated, and is still on those medications today 20 years later and still unable to function. Plus, his stay at the Priory started a referral process that led him to get electroshock, making him cognitively impaired and unable to think.

    I see in the link below that the psychiatric industry’s lies continue to predominate at the Priory, the website of which says, “Depression is an illness, not a sign of weakness,” and “Antidepressants help nerve cells resume their normal role in regulating mood,” … What a misleading bunch of BS that is.

    http://www.priorygroup.com/mental-health/depression

    Lastly, I have a couple of small quibbles with Redmond’s writing:

    1) “Whatever the reason, what frightens me is that SSRIs can have such a long-lasting, toxic grip on someone who was perfectly normal, and who didn’t need them;”

    This is incredible… however, I don’t think the possible converse implication of this statement is true; i.e. that some people are not “normal” and therefore have an illness (e.g. “major depression”) that causes them to need certain medications. Probably Redmond didn’t mean that. But for example, my father was severe depressed, and many people would have said he had an illness that needed medication (and they did say this, and pressured him to take them).

    But to me, since I knew him intimately, I sensed that the neglect and abuse from his own mother (my grandmother), the horrible stress at his competitive corporate job, and the strain in the relationship between him and my mother, were all the causes my father needed to become depressed. His severe depression could be understood as a normal response to abnormal levels of stress.

    2) “(I met a young woman who) wisely, had decided to get off her drugs, but, unwisely, had decided to manage her own withdrawal.””

    It’s not universally correct to say that managing one’s own withdrawal is unwise; things aren’t that simple. Especially here in America, many people lack the money to access or even the knowledge of where to find an ethical psychiatrist who will help them withdraw from drugs. Their options become to stay on drugs in traditional psychiatry, or go off drugs alone. Withdrawing from drugs alone is harder, but it is possible. I did it… 8 years ago, I was on an antidepresssant, antianxiety, and antipsychotic prescribed for no other reason than to “treat” the anxiety and depression I was having around the time of my parent’s divorce.

    Over the course of a year or so I became dependent on these drugs and had numerous bad side effects. I did my own research, and realized I’d been lied to about the efficacy and safety of the drugs. Since I was not yet financially independent,and couldn’t afford to see a psychiatrist apart from the one my father subsidized me to see, I decided that I would (initially) lie to my current psychiatrist (who to his credit was helping me by talking to me, just not with the drugs) and deceive my parents, gradually titrate myself down over a period of many months, and see if I could exit the psychiatric system and function on my own. And this scheme worked. So although it might be ideal, one doesn’t always need a psychiatrist to successfully titrate off psych meds, and often a good psychiatrist who can be honest about drugs’ limitations cannot be found or afforded anyway.

    • I agree, I live in Australia, difficult to find anyone to help get off the meds. Why? Because it is only now that people are trying to do it………… I now see only my gp, and he learns, from me………… if it works, it works, the only support I have ever had has been surviving antidepressants website because they basically say “”you are not alone”…. and what works for others, may work for me……………

      I went to a new psychiatrist about 4 years ago, saying I wanted to get off the drugs, he said nothing………… I didnt know the hell it would be, ended up like most, on a whole bigger cocktail of more……………..I am basically 12 months out from the stuff now, and I truly believe it will take me another 6 years to get well,,,,,,,, so yes, the 17 years lost life, I agree with, lost finances, lost marriage, lost friendships………… all gone.

      • Hi ang

        I too am in Australia and I too had to manage my own withdrawal with no help from doctors. This website was an invaluable resource, but at the time (5 years ago) there was much less information around than there is now.

        The doctors here, however, don’t seem to know, or even want to know about it, and like elsewhere there are strong pushes towards early diagnoses and treatment for “mental illness”…almost exclusively drug “treatment”.

        I am still not entirely out of the woods – I came off far to quickly, it would seem – but I am just so glad that resources are improving all the time.

        Over time we can only hope that work like CEP, MIA and a range of individuals are doing will work its way into the mainstream, and people will no longer be able to ignore the damage being done by these horrible drugs.

        …and thanks, Redmond, for an excellent piece.

  3. Having a member of British royalty campaigning against psychiatric atrocities is very helpful. And I am very impressed with all the anti- or critical psychiatry activity in the UK among academics and professionals. This is great.

    And the raising of consciousness among a certain class of people is very important.

    But transforming all this into the kind of political changes needed to actually stop these atrocities will not be that easy. There needs to be a mass political movement to turn this talk into action, and force the politicians to actually do something meaningful to stop all the suffering and exploitation. This requires a very focused kind of political campaign, because our real enemy is not (just) the psychiatric profession, but the multinational drug corporations that own it. These same companies own the politicians who have the power to stop the abuses.

    One would think this fight would, and should, be coming from the movement of psychiatric survivors that already exists. But that movement is busily destroying itself, turning against one another and especially those within it who call for doing more than clicking the “like” button on Facebook.

    Mass movements of the kind we need cannot function without solidarity, without a sense that we are all in this together. Who would join in such a difficult task when what awaits them is the same kind of degrading treatment they received on the psychiatric ward?

    I don’t know how to change this. I don’t have a magic wand that I can wave. All I know is that the political moves in the U.S to strip us of our human rights, to turn us into the Jews, the lepers, the subhumans, the scapegoats of the twenty-first century, are moving closer and closer to being adopted. And meanwhile we allow a few people to destroy from within, the movement that ought to be in the forefront of fighting for our survival.

    And I am afraid, for myself and everyone else to come.

      • There are too many instances to describe. It even happens that you might praise someone for their ideas or their work and they turn on you. I have been seeing this for several years, but now it happens every day instead of every week or so. It is impossible to function in this movement. You don’t see it here on MIA because the comment section is closely moderated. But out there on Facebook etc. it is really nasty.

        • Not that this addresses your main concern, but I can’t imagine why anyone would use Facebook anyway, especially target populations such as psychiatric “survivors” whose personal information sometimes makes them vulnerable to all sorts of exploitation. We need to learn what Facebook is and what it’s really for before it comes back to bite us.

        • I see. Because yes I hadn’t seen much of it on MIA. But then again yes on MIA people know if they are attacking that there may be consequences. What Facebook sites do you go to? I never go on FB anymore but am curious what’s on there regarding (anti)psychiatry.

          This discussion brings to mind an earlier topic about how online people can say anything and be spared the “normal” consequences of retaliation verbally or even physically if they are rude.

          Your comment seems to point to the fact that much more in-person connection and organizing would be good, for multiple reasons.

    • Ted — like you, I don’t know what the most effective path is from present reality to a better place in the healing arts. But I can confirm your instinct that many in the anti-psychiatry movement seem to lack an appreciation for the need to act effectively and in solidarity.

      Though I’ve had one editorial published here at Mad In America, and several commentaries to the work of others, I’ve been pretty much run out of the place by the more polarized among members. As nearly as I can tell, my “error” has been in daring to suggest that it’s unrealistic and self-defeating to expect psychiatry to wither away — and irresponsible to propose that it be forced to do so — without offering verifiable and reliable alternative means for assisting people who need help through emotional or cognitive crisis, and who ask for it.

      Revealing the failures of psychiatry and the brain chemical imbalance mythology is necessary. But it isn’t enough to bring about healing.

      Best wishes,

      • Right on the mark Richard. Exposing the damages due to the pharmaceutical industry is a necessary condition, but NOT sufficient. How does one effect change against an industry with global sales of close to one trillion dollars and profits of three hundred BILLION?

        Think of the immense lobbying efforts to both politicians and the medical profession. But there is hope – and it can be found by understanding the history of the similarly corrupt tobacco industry.

        Thank you Richard
        Rick Fearn

      • Funny how you show up any time there seems to be a squabble you can exploit in order to undermine the anti-psychiatry movement.

        my “error” has been in daring to suggest that it’s unrealistic and self-defeating to expect psychiatry to wither away — and irresponsible to propose that it be forced to do so — without offering verifiable and reliable alternative means for assisting people who need help

        This is a false argument often used to try to turn the movement (or what currently passes as such) against itself. (Those with a sincere interest in examining this line of argument I would refer back to Bonnie Burstow’s article and the ensuing comments.) Your actual error is assuming that psychiatry offers something valuable which would be missed if it were to be done away with. Another is accepting the falsehood that psychiatry is primarily interested in healing, as opposed to social control.

        • There is no argument…medicating the brain, mind, body and spirit IS and always has been WRONG. Labelling a human being in distress IS WRONG. There IS something else we as fellow human beings can do to help a person in emotional and psychological distress and that is to listen with love, understanding for the person and human kindness. As this IS the individual and unique experience and process for this person in that moment. Love as we are all human and we all have mental health…<3

      • ” I’ve been pretty much run out of the place by the more polarized among members. As nearly as I can tell, my “error” has been in daring to suggest that it’s unrealistic and self-defeating to expect psychiatry to wither away — and irresponsible to propose that it be forced to do so — without offering verifiable and reliable alternative means for assisting people…”

        Hi Richard:

        I am sorry to hear this, but not surprised. I agree with you. It is not enough to curse darkness (what passes for mainstream, coercive psychiatry); we must like candles (show alternative recovery model(s) that are validated, verifiable, and reproducible. Exposing what is wrong with mainstream psychiatry is indispensable, but not sufficient. Please do not give up on the MIA site; your voice is needed.

        • I think that the goal should be as it is expressed in Thich Nhat Hanh’s third mindfulness teaching: “Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever—such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination—to adopt our views. We will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through compassionate dialogue.”

          What we are working against is fixed views; of people, of science, of others, of ourselves. We don’t further the cause by reacting to fixed views with equally opposite fixed views. We can only engage in “compassionate dialogue.” This is a timeless effort; it began the first time words were uttered, and will continue until we’ve destroyed ourselves. I don’t think that vivisecting anyone whose perspective we don’t understand, and who frightens us, will end that. We can only struggle to try to understand why people see things differently, and what about their view might be right as well as wha about ours might be wrong.

          • “Fixed views?”

            It seems that you are taking issue with certain comments here, maybe mine, maybe others’, but your post is so generally stated that it’s hard to tell. If you could more specifically pinpoint what views you consider problematic we could engage in more of the dialogue that you claim to support, and in fewer veiled attacks.

        • This is bordering on what people here like to call “straw man” argumentation.

          It is a falsehood to suggest that to be anti-psychiatry is to be unconcerned with “alternatives.” Alternatives are always there, it is up to the people to seize them. The alternative is not a different sort of “program” designed to eliminate the manifestations of misery caused by definable and objectively observable material conditions, i.e. capitalism. While we can maybe find more effective ways of nursing one another’s psychic wounds along the way, the only true alternative is to eliminate the conditions which cause chronic suffering among all people. That means eliminating capitalism.

          It is similarly false for anyone to suggest that they have been “run out” of these discussions simply because they have not been able to garner more support for their attacks on the anti-psychiatry movement. The moderators wouldn’t allow it.

  4. Thanks for drawing the distinction between the US and the UK. I also appreciate your shout out to Dr. Lieberman and Harvard, even though I suspect Dr. Lieberman will never take up your gauntlet in a public forum involving interdisciplinary topics that required knowledge of other disciplines such as philosophy, economics, anthropology, history, religion, or psychology. I suppose such vacuus individuals are only good for tips on where to launder money…oops I mean where to park your mutual funds

    I’m glad the next ISPS international conference is in Liverpool and nation that gave birth to HVN. Unless your immigration authorities want to deal with a large influx of American immigrants fleeing the US’s mental health system, you better say something hopeful about the US?

  5. Well said, Ted! This pretty much lays out the territory that has to be broached:

    “But transforming all this into the kind of political changes needed to actually stop these atrocities will not be that easy. There needs to be a mass political movement to turn this talk into action, and force the politicians to actually do something meaningful to stop all the suffering and exploitation. This requires a very focused kind of political campaign, because our real enemy is not (just) the psychiatric profession, but the multinational drug corporations that own it. These same companies own the politicians who have the power to stop the abuses.”

    I think you are talking about arousing public outrage? That is the key to political change. There are plenty of good examples on this site of the means for raising public awareness in concert with public education, which is a crucial aspect of the mind changing campaign that lays the foundation for political change. MIA authors and commenters share messages here that resonate with individuals and groups who are grappling with the bottom line : the powerful forces behind the abuses. That said, Redmond O’Hanlon’s post above, is a treasure. It is so much more than a report on raising the consciousness of a certain class of people. It is a harbinger of the tipping point that is very close at hand. So naturally, per Murphy’s Laws :” Something that requires your full attention will occur simultaneously with a compelling distraction” .

    Psychiatric survivor’s are the heart of this campaign. They are the force that distilled the information and circulated the truth about psychiatry. You, Ted, are a distinguished leader in the psychiatric survivors movement, a pioneer of the evidence base that refutes nearly every claim psychiatry has put forth to maintain it’s power. All of us who have achieved some type of victory over the powerful forces that support psychiatric abuse of vulnerable people, owes a debt of gratitude to the courageous voices of the psychiatric survivors movement. Anyone can confidently stand on your shoulders- even those with absolutely no affiliation with any critical psychiatry reform or abolition group. Hopefully, something like this realization can rekindle the spirit of solidarity that created your movement. But — nonetheless..

    We are approaching a point where the most important message is one that resonates across the gamut of diversity that IS the public. This message does not have to come from any specific organized group, or from any particular strategy (i.e, public protests, book promotions, etc.) It has to be a message that clearly informs the public that the alliance of psychiatry & Pharma is a threat to all of us. The internet is our advantage, as clearly demonstrated by Aaron Swartz in his victory speech, after SOPA was defeated by 20-30 something, computer wizards/political activists.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=Fgh2dFngFsg

    The challenge is to formulate the message, widely disseminate it (social media and web sites like *Demand Progress*); capturing public attention — like a public alert, the language should be sufficiently provocative.
    (RE: Aaron Swartz’s playbook :”SOPA is internet blacklisting”–)
    Referencing soon to be fully open to the public:”Paxil Study329 is evidence of collusion- Psychiatry & Pharma (GSK) willful deceit, fraud– unaffected by harm/deaths of kids- psychiatry and Pharma reaped billions in profits – *Crime*
    not malpractice.

    Back to this blog post and the tipping point phenomenon- this important announcement at the end of the blog post:

    -“His Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry will soon be hosting what should be a consciousness-altering international conference on the epidemic of psychiatric drug use, entitled “More Harm than Good”. Although there are still a few places left for this landmark event, it is likely to be standing-room only as many sense already that it will mark a real turning-point in the fight against the promiscuous medicalization of everyday life, enabled by GPs and the psychiatric profession. It will take place in Roehampton University, London, on September 18, and will feature virtually every top name in the field, including Peter Breggin, Bob Whitaker, Jo Moncrieff, and the fiercely independent Cochrane researcher Peter Gøtzsche of the ‘Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry,’ one of the very rare people to have published in the Big Five medical journals.”

    This event follows an unprecedented internet event that is set to go-live on September 15th. Public access to the full report on the restructuring Paxil 329- a 2 year project using the willfully concealed raw data from the RCTs that — opened the flood gates for the scourge of psych drugging our kids (2001)– This site, study329.org which is already up-,provides the background via full exposure of all pertinent historical events around this scourge. Videos of the Panorama series, Time lines around the black box warning scandal, documents, narratives– provided in a very user friendly , independent study format; this site is a virtual tool kit for the public. A groundswell of public outrage is sure to follow–IF the clear message is disseminated widely to the public that ALL 99% of us are in real danger. (see above references to Aaron Swartz’s tutorial)

    I am as saddened to hear about the self-defeating turmoil brewing in the psych survivor movement as I was devastated by the same dynamic appearing in the group of nurses who were my comrades in a campaign to stop the abuses of Harvard’s child psychiatrists at Boston Children’s Hospital (2010) . Not only was I personally attacked by those who were cowered by fear of losing their jobs, but I did lose mine– only to wake up to the realization in 2013, that is was all for naught. Silencing and dismissing me, emboldened with their success in managing the threat that whistleblowing initially was, my former colleagues marched on to collude in the kidnapping and torture of Justina Pelletier.

    ” Familiarity breeds contempt , you know” some wise cracker told me at the height of my despair–But, for me, there was no comfort in hearing yet another aspect of human darkness explained away by a cliche. The group that could have been contenders in the battle against powerful dark forces had a formidable membership roster. What became of those rebel members of my group who held other prominent positions at BCH and at the state regulatory agency, DMH? They slithered back into the shadows and silently condoned worse than what we aimed to stop.

    Oh, well.

    I decided that only if I gave up the fight could I ever be defeated. My choice to contemplate the power of one, one amongst many other powerful ones; a single drop of water in a swelling tide; I envisioned riding a wave that has now swelled to Tsunami proportions. I have nearly forgotten the bitter sting of betrayal and the slander of my former comrades, but I take to heart the realization that this is a dynamic that is almost inevitable in any close knit group. Steven Covey says in a book he wrote on community building that, the real work and full potential of the *community*/group happens after it implodes. No pain, no gain? More cliches that may not stick any better than a band aid– but, nonetheless-

    There is power in one; one single dedicated person who does not give up the fight.

    With the advent of a chance to use solid evidence that seriously discredits and leads to criminal prosecution of high ranking members of both psychiatry and Pharma; an event that can thrust the abuses of these corrupt institutions into the political arena; a literal gold mine of evidence in the public domain is only 10 days away. It would be a shame to allow any personal issue to become a compelling distraction to your participation in this history making victory.

    study329.org

    Best,
    Katie

  6. Thank you for your support, Katie, and for reminding me of the sacrifices you have made for this cause.

    I guess working for social justice is never easy. But what is most difficult is when the people who attack you for it are not from psychiatry or the drug corporations, but the people who should be your comrades.

  7. Redmond,

    Thank you for this well written tale. I am also grateful Luke Montagu has started up the Center for Evidence-Based Psychiatry, and look forward to the media coverage it produces. We are truly in the midst of mis-information wars, especially in the US where our media is basically controlled by the pharmacutical industry. Information is power, I hope you are able to help get truthful information out to the masses, so we may some day end psychiatry’s current reign of terror. Please pass on my thanks.

  8. I would like to thank you as well Redmond for highlighting this Civil Rights issue – I nearly went mad myself when I withdrew from psychotropics. The drugs cause the disability (that country pays for).

    Dr Ivor Browne condemns these drugs, but he also offers solutions to the normal crisis and problems of life that people suffer from.

  9. Luckily Mantagu escaped electroshock. It looks like he was headed down that path since today shock therapy, euphemistically called ECT, is considered a treatment of last resort for patients who no longer respond to psychiatric drugs. Perhaps we would have gained another ally in our ongoing effort to expose this archaic and very damaging intervention. Many survivors, myself included, believe that electroshock belongs in the dust-bin as it is the absolute worst that biomedical psychiatry has to offer and a crime against humanity. It is still as feared and reviled today as it was in the good old days although main stream psychiatry would like us to believe otherwise. It is also perhaps more damaging today because many of its victims are already seriously disabled from drugs when the shock machine is rolled in.

    • Correct.

      And the problem with shock today is that it’s even more dangerous than it was in the old days. Because they give people anesthesia now, that raises the threshold of the amount of electricity that must be given to induce the convulsion. So, as psychiatry is touting how “safe” shock is today for people they’re lying through their teeth and they know it as they’re doing it.