Professionals are paid to share their wisdom with those who are, typically, less informed. But, when dealing with mental health professionals in the psychiatric arena, it is wise to retain a degree of skepticism about the words spoken by the doctors and nurses commissioned to help reduce human misery and suffering.
During my 33 years of employment within the UK’s mental health services, I witnessed many colleagues, from a range of professions, who strove to alleviate the distress and suffering of the people who sought their help. Some offered humane, person-centred support, recognising that the patients’ emotional and behavioural problems were primarily the products of their life experiences and subsequent – often desperate – attempts to cope with these challenges. In contrast, many others had bought into the dominant bio-medical (‘illness like any other’) approach espoused by traditional psychiatry, thereby instilling an unhelpful and misleading slant to their interactions with service users.
Throughout my career as a clinical psychologist working in the National Health Service, I heard this latter group of psychiatric staff regularly say things, to their patients or to other professionals, which could be classified as invalid, hope-quashing, stigmatising or unethical. Given that the bio-medical approach to human suffering has now been broadly discredited – even many traditional psychiatrists acknowledge the folly of this paradigm – I would expect the frequency of these utterances to be reducing within modern mental health services.
I list below six statements that I heard on a regular basis during my time in the psychiatric system, followed by a brief commentary. Let me know in the comments section whether any of these continue to survive in the lexicons of psychiatric professionals.
- ‘Does the patient have a severe and enduring mental illness?’
As well as conveying undue pessimism about the likelihood of recovery, this question (a favourite of psychiatrists during the weekly multi-disciplinary meeting) assumes there is a clear demarcation between those with a ‘mental illness’ and other overwhelmed, highly distressed people. In addition, the query wrongly implies that psychiatric diagnoses are meaningful.
- ‘Is this illness or behaviour?’
This, rather bizarre, question was often posed when discussing a patient who is chaotic, agitated and challenging. As above, it unhelpfully implies that there is a clear dividing line between the ‘mentally ill’ and the rest of us. Worse still, there are pejorative undercurrents consistent with the idea that people expressing high levels of misery and distress fall into one of two categories, either mad or bad. Typically, what is really being asked is whether the patient’s symptoms fit the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression (regarded as proper illnesses and the sufferers, therefore, deemed worthy of help and compassion) or that of a personality disorder (regarded as not a proper illness and the sufferer undeserving of help or compassion).
- ‘It would be unethical to withdraw his antipsychotic medication; he has a definite diagnosis of schizophrenia’
I’ve heard this kind of comment from psychiatrists when asked – either directly by the patient, or indirectly by a professional working closely with the patient – to consider the withdrawal of psychotropic medication. As well as, again, unduly assuming that psychiatric diagnoses are valid, it conveys the erroneous message that anyone experiencing voice-hearing or unusual beliefs can only be helped by medication, in the same way that someone with Type 1 diabetes can only benefit from daily injections of insulin. Also, the statement indicates no regard for the informed views of the service users.
- ‘I suspect there may be a lurking depression’
This one I always found rather comical, conjuring up images of some pathological intruder hiding in the folds of the brain, waiting to pounce and thereby incapacitate its host with depressive symptoms [come to think of it, I suspect Ruby Wax would concur!]. The comment – a favourite of biological psychiatrists – is another expression underpinned by the spurious assumption that mental health problems are primarily caused by biological defects.
- ‘If you don’t accept treatment you’ll give me no option other than to section you’
This stark example of misuse of power is commonly heard when a patient is expressing reluctance about taking the medication regime prescribed by the psychiatrist. Whether or not a person can be legitimately detained under a section of the Mental Health Act should be determined solely on the basis of the presentation – in the UK legal framework, the assessed level of risk and the presence of a ‘mental disorder’ – not whether the individual is willing to comply with the doctor’s treatment plan.
- ‘We’ll keep on tweaking the medication until we get it right’
What this usually means in practice is that the dose of the current drug will be increased in stages until it reaches the maximum permitted (sometimes well beyond this upper threshold). If the sought-after improvement is not realised, another drug will be introduced, either instead of or in addition to the original one, and the incremental increase in dose will start again. As with example 3, the false assumption underlying this practice is that some form of biological treatment is essential to achieve recovery. Furthermore, when this ‘tweaking’ continues over a long period of time, any noticeable improvement that does occur is immediately credited to the medication rather than any of the multitude of other factors – life events, relationships, community engagement, talking therapy – that could be influencing the person’s wellbeing.
I am keen to discover to what degree these utterances persist in day-to-day practice. Maybe those readers who are still involved in mainstream psychiatric services, either as a service user or a professional, could let me know via the comments section.
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.
Yep, these ideas continue to have a strong hold in American psychiatry today. Just look at the latest claptrap from ignorant politicians like Tim Murphy, who keeps repeating that “those with serious mental illness” (as if there’s a clear dividing line) need a kind of treatment (i.e. involuntary drugging) different from the rest of us. I think the situation’s probably worse in America than any other country, as we were the country which shamefully invented the medicalized DSMs and propagated the myths about biological mental illnesses all over the world.
America is corporate capitalism’s world headquarters, so this is totally consistent.
Yes oldhead agree. It is very harmful that our country is so focused on profit, achievement, controlling others, rugged individualism, etc. I can see that my young friends are really harmed emotionally by the desperate struggle to survive that our capitalistic financial system creates for young adults. It makes me be ruthless to profit from my own work enough that I will not be in danger of falling through the cracks. It’s a bad deal all around but hard to change… well, only a good deal if you have the advantages and connections needed to profit and survive in such a system. If you don’t you can be fucked.
To the article author, I also like the title of the article, “Unhelpful Utterances”. That would be a succinct way to describe most of what biological psychiatrists say.
And I’m glad you like the title – I rarely miss the opportunity for a bit of alliteration!
Are these guys inhabitants of this planet, or were they dropped off by space aliens as part of an anthropological study and disguised as psychiatrists?
Bc, my scientific research, which is just as valid as the research published in journals by biological psychiatrists, indicates that psychiatrists may be covert emissaries sent by superadvanced aliens that have established a forward base on the superhabitable planets surrounding Proxima Centauri, the star located 4.3 light years from Earth 🙂
The idea is simple: to implant the aliens-disguised-as-psychiatrists in order to get everyone on Earth so drugged up that we won’t be able to resist when the aliens invade. It looks like this process is succeeding and they’re only a few years away from launching an interstellar invasion.
Haha I realize this idea could probably get me diagnosed as having “schizophrenia”. I’ll let you all know how my “treatment” goes.
Sadly, as I suspected
Yes, the biological skew is prominent in the UK, but I understand it is even more so in the USA.
It wouldn’t be so bad if shrinks were actually taught about matters in the rest of the body that can readily induce mental symptoms, such as spikes in blood sugar, thyroid disease, subclinical heavy metal poisoning, glandular or amino acid irregularities, dietary deficiencies or dependencies, food sensitivities and such. As it is, I don’t know if even an oldster, such as general paresis, is even mentioned in psychiatric training any more (or should that be “training”?).
I consequently think of the image of people held by orthodox biological psychiatrists to be that of a gigantic head being toted about by a tiny useless body that only exists to keep the head from falling to the pavement.
But the psychiatric profession is built on the premise that mental health problems are primarily caused by biochemical or anatomical abnormalities in the brain – take this away from them, and the whole profession cannot justify its place at the top table of the medical sciences (alongside orthopaedics, gynaecology, coronary care etc.). So I’d suggest that – although you are of course correct about how these genuine biological disturbances in other parts of the body can produce mental health problems – these conditions (general paresis, thyroid disease etc.) are outside of psychiatry’s remit.
No wonder the only thing most of these guys can do is make zombies of most of their patients, even the ones with readily treatable biological conditions, because they refuse to learn anything about their existence.
But the psychiatric profession is built on the premise that mental health problems are primarily caused by biochemical or anatomical abnormalities in the brain
Actually it was first built upon the premise that “mental health” is a viable concept and not a just figure of speech; the rest is just an extension of the original misconception.
Agreed, we should never hear any of those things, EVER. But I think it also comes down to refusing to hear any of those things and stay passive.
If they were spoken to me, I would go into Marine Corps Drill Sargent mode and tell the guy off 25.4mm from his face.
We need to start standing up for ourselves, teaching people to stand up for themselves, and teaching children to stand up for themselves.
Though this is about corporal punishment, not mental health, it is still an outstanding example of children being taught to stand up for themselves.
Nomadic – I think you make a relevant point about the degree to which we challenge these unhelpful comments when we hear them.
When I worked in the psychiatric system I often discussed with like-minded colleagues about challenging the nonsense as and when we witnessed it. It was generally felt that it was not feasible to challenge each and every time as we would be doing it multiple times each day and would soon be viewed – given our impotent position in a place where bio-medical ideas dominated – as troublemakers with extreme views. As such we’d be ostracised and lose any small influence we had gained. Typically, therefore, we’d all choose our battles, confronting some of the unhelpful utterances, while biting our tongues when we witnessed others.
The issue you raise is one worthy of further discussion – in fact it might be a useful theme of a future blogpost. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Of course I would never voluntarily be in the mental health system. So what I said was meaningless. Actually it is on Internet forums that people usually use psychiatric labels. Can’t do much about it there either.
But I do believe that we should mobilize and act, start actively campaigning against the mental health system.
Totally agree – Although for many years I believed that the psychiatric system could be changed, incrementally, from within I no longer take that view. It requires some form of revolution.
Yes, revolution. But it is not just psychiatry and psychotherapy, it is our whole society.
As I see it, its
2. Middle-Class Family
3. Psychotherapy / Psychiatry
It used to be Bourgeoisie v. Proletariat.
But today its Parents v. Children.
So we should attack at any and all targets of opportunity, because it is already a state of war.
Again, great article.
I most definitely still hear the “behavior vs. mental health” dichotomy. I’ve never been able to figure out what the hell they are talking about, since every “mental health disorder” is essentially defined solely by behavior! It’s like “situational” vs. “clinical” depression. We are always told that there is this big difference and that those with “situational depression” need therapy and support but that this won’t help “clinical” depression, yet there are not even any ham-handed, subjective DSM criteria requirements that attempt to make this distinction. Depression’s severity is solely evidenced by the clinician’s subjective assessment of the severity and duration of the “symptoms” that define the “disorder.” The question of “situational” vs. “clinical” doesn’t even come up, yet we continue to be fed this BS, meanwhile, the DSM 5 committees decide that being immobilized by the loss of a loved one for more than two weeks now qualifies us for being diagnosed as MDD!
And yes, the skew to the biological does appear to be worst here in the USA, where drug companies have a stranglehold on our government and can charge obscene prices for their questionable products.
Yes, because 2 minutes into day 15 you have Major Depression, and 30 seconds before the end of day 14 you don’t have the disease…
And that two-week line was, of course, chosen after years of precise scientific research into EXACTLY when “normal” people are supposed to start feeling better after the loss of a loved one, and EVERY person who doesn’t feel better at that time is PROVEN to have a “chemical imbalance” that prevents them from just freakin’ burying Mom and getting on with their lives.
Grief is SO inefficient!
Steve – I could have usefully included the ‘is this depression situational or clinical’ in my list, or other similarly dubious distinctions like reactive/endogenous. I believe it to be all a part of biological psychiatry’s desperate efforts to retain the upper hand, by claiming that severe/’proper’ mental disorders require medical expertise to cure them.
Yeah, I hear that too, as if there were some way to distinguish objectively between “endogenous” and “reactive” depression. The whole thing starts with the error of defining “depression” as the problem, rather than an indication of other potential problems, which could be physiological, psychological, social or spiritual in nature. And of course, you’re correct, the real driving motivation behind this is to be able to assume some medical “knowledge” whose purpose is not to cure, but to control and profit from those too naive or ill-informed to understand that they’re being played. It is sooooo obvious to me at this point that it’s hard to understand why so many people are taken in by this ruse.
Thanks for your reply!
Yes, Steve, I agree that it is perplexing how so many people can buy into the bio-medical approach to human suffering. But then again, I guess it’s a seductively simplistic explanation that discourages people from thinking more widely about the ills within society, as well as getting politicians off the hook – they can just say that people are reacting in challenging/unexpected ways simply because they have some assumed aberration in their brains. And then, of course, we have the vested interests of biological psychiatry and drug companies (plus the power of advertising).
I think it supports people’s denial systems all too well – “I’m not a crappy parent – my kid has Oppositional Defiant Disorder!” “My classroom isn’t boring – I just have a lot of “ADHD” kids for some reason – bad luck!” “I’ve always been depressed – I’m sure it has nothing to do with the sex abuse history I’ve been trying so hard to repress!”
And as you say, it lets all the professionals off the hook as well. Blame the brain and you don’t really have to do anything. Seductive, indeed!
I’d say the skew is more to the pharmaceutical than the biological. There are no megabucks for proper biological treatments, which are more likely to use substances that can’t be patented, like vitamins and amino acids.
bcharris – Fair point – the drug companies have a lot to answer for. But I’d also argue that the psychiatry profession has got a huge amount to lose should society’s responses to human misery and suffering change from a primarily medical one to a primarily social one. For a start, psychiatry would not be able to maintain its position around the top table of medical specialists – with implications for status, power, salary etc.
They should be aware that it happens to the best of specialties. Look what happened to pellagrology when niacinamide was discovered to be curative for pellagra, or syphilology when penicillin came into civilian use around 1950.
I can’t envisage psychiatry disappearing quietly!
If psychiatry based on biologically-based diagnosing and drugging dies it would only die like Arnold’s Terminator in the classic movie… very hard to kill, needs to be thrown into a vat of molten lava to be completely destroyed so it won’t get reform.
The only way to stop psychiatry is to cut off its food supply, aka MONEY. Which also means cutting off its main supplier of money, the pharmaceutical industry. Which is very challenging in today’s neoliberal oligarchic world!
“the doctors and nurses commissioned to help reduce human misery and suffering.”
Ya , the suffering of the people around the person with the mental so called illness by shutting them up like the suffering of the boring teachers with energetic students.
But number 6 on the list is the real scary one,
When this ‘tweaking’ continues over a long period of time, any noticeable improvement that does occur is immediately credited to the improvement when compared to the damage done by the previous drugs long after the patients original condition has been forgotten.
I like to asking people I meet that have been looking for the ‘right meds’ what they were like BEFORE ever taking any psychiatric drugs.
Yes, how did you feel and what was going on n your life 5 – 6 – 7 years ago before you started on psychiatric drugs ?
The answers are always different but the reaction of “I never thought of that” is usually the same.
I never thought that way myself, I just always needed a pill to fix the damage from the previous ones.
Yes, the ‘what were you like before you started psychiatric drugs?’ is an enlightening question to ask people who have been on continually-changing drug regimes for a long time. And, sadly, I suspect it is a question that is rarely asked.
I am currently coming off Venlafaxine & Mirtrazapine with my own carefully worked out method. It isn’t easy but I know that if I had consulted my doctor he would have been against it.
I was given the confidence to reevaluate my situation after researching online & then reading Kelly Brogan’s “A Mind of your Own”, after 23 years of often “tweaked ” medication.
The catalyst for my change was having to watch my 30 year old son go through exactly the same treatment I received. If I wasn’t ‘cured’after all this time what are his chances? I am hoping that my example will help him.
One of the many things that I am experiencing just now is the emergence of my true self. It would have had me reaching for the medication in the past, but I now have the confidence to get to know & accept this person.
Thanks for the useful Article!
1. ‘Does the patient have a severe and enduring mental illness?’
But there’s no difference between them and us.
“…..without our making any conscious choice to shift our focus we slip into a dream-like state in which we’re rehashing a dispute, or fantasizing about something pleasant, or worrying about some situation in our lives…..
…..These periods of distraction can be so intense that they are like hypnotic states. They’re like dreams. They’re like mental bubbles of an internal virtual reality drama …..
….When we’re inside these hypnotic, dream-like states, they entirely capture our attention. They hold us spellbound. They’re irresistibly compelling. And yet, when the bubble eventually bursts, I find them to be rather lame! Noticing this lameness helps me to stay more disengaged from them…..”
I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. And the ‘normal vs severe/enduring mental illness’ is indeed a lame distinction.
There is a cure for ‘severe and enduring mental illness’, and it’s been there all along.
Not If The ‘Patient’ Recovers Through ‘Psychotherapy’ ; And Can Explain How They Recovered:-
HOW TO SORT OUT YOUR QoF MENTAL HEALTH
Dr Axxxc J xxxxxx FRCGP (2006)
“…Once an approved code is added to the patient’s record, there is no easy way to
remove the patient from the MH register.
The rationale is that any patient with a severe illness, even if controlled or in
remission, has a significant chance of relapse and hence should have an annual
review, rather like patients with certain cancers should…”
Shows how effective their “treatments” are…and their drugs.
EVERY psychiatric “diagnosis”, even if it is only one word, is a sentence….and a life sentence at that.
Anyone reading this who has not yet seen a psychiatrist or is in a position to escape, GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!
Yes, once labelled as ‘severe and enduring’, it is assumed one has a life-long brain disease and it is extremely difficult to escape the clutches of biological psychiatry.
Yes, as a patient, I heard all of these.
The one that my psychiatrist seemed to like most was :
‘Is this illness or behaviour?’…if I didn’t behave as he would prefer/like/dictate he would threaten me with a “borderline” diagnosis and say how good he was to work with me because most doctors wouldn’t take borderline cases and I certainly didn’t want that on my records. Whether he put it there or not I’ll never know, because when my next doctor wanted to see my records, the original shrink said I’d become dangerous if MY DOCTOR was to see my records.
Another one I heard after release from my first hospital admission was that I was now on the revolving door of medications and hospital admissions for the rest on my life, but I guess that’s related to No. 1…enduring condition.
Well, I did have another hospital admission after I attempted suicide following the first (apparently a common response to being locked up and drugged), but that was over a decade ago, and while I still have severe reactions to any stress at all…good or bad, and trauma from all I experienced, I have been clear of meds for over 5 years and will never go anywhere near the “mental health” industry again.
It is an industry of insults, drugging, total hopelessness, death and destruction…and it nearly claimed me as another of its victims.
While it is dispiriting to hear that you’ve been exposed to a lot of these nonsense utterances, it is great to hear that you’ve been drug free for five years and are now functioning without biological psychiatry – long may it last.
thank you Gary
I am now totally psychiatry and psychology free, not just biological..all modalities.
I have come to believe the “mental health” industry as a whole is destructive – both psychiatrists and psychologists really do believe in the illness model, and even if they don’t, they still have to assign diagnoses to get paid.
Diagnoses made by both are based on the DSM (or its European counterpart), and quite fundamentally label and keep you captive for life one way or another.
Until the diagnostic labelling systems go, seeing a person capable of giving such a sticky label is, quite simply, extremely dangerous. It is a life sentence when it is possible only one single circumstance needs to change for a person to be symptom-free and fully functional. Yet even when this circumstance changes, psychiatry will never reverse the diagnosis.
I have found that reading a lot, both literature and some of the psychiatric, self help and philosophical classics, provides a path into the essential humanness that has been a part of our evolution as a species.
There’s very little indeed I see in black and white, but psychiatry…well…that is totally dehumanising….BLACKER than BLACK!
Kim – I share your distaste for diagnostic labels, and I see them as invalid, stigmatising and often a generator of hopelessness.
Considered read for all:
This New Yorker article thou dated (2011); is one woman’s story.
Now in film.
‘We’ll keep on tweaking the medication until we get it right’
This is code for “we have no idea how these drugs work”
My personal favourite is the the distinction between “reactive” and “endogenous” depression. I remember my father being told by his doctor that he had the latter soon after his retirement (?)
No, it’s code for- “we have no idea what we’re doing but we’re going to do something, even if it kills you.”
Gerard – the dubious reactive- endogenous distinction is also one that I’ve heard many times.
And yes, I think you’re right about the doctors having no idea about how the drugs work (although, after saying this, I’d have a bit more respect for them if they openly admitted that the drugs they are prescribing will produce abnormal brain states, rather than clinging to the myth that they are somehow restoring balance).
25 years ago, I was faced with either “endogenous”, or “exogenous”. The distinction *seemed* to make *some* sense, but it was all bogus word-games, and head games. The ONLY “psychiatric” diagnosis I will agree to now, is IATROGENIC NEUROLEPSIS. i even got the Docs to put it in my medical record. I’ve had nurses – RN’s, that didn’t even know what iatrogenic neurolepsis is…. I’ve been shrink-proof for 20+ years, and psychiatry has done, and continues to do, far more harm than good. The single biggest regret of my life, is ever going to a quack shrink in the first place…. THANK-YOU for this post, and ALL the comments/
1. ‘Does the patient have a severe and enduring mental illness?’ My psychologist and psychiatrist brainwashed my husband, and tried to convince me I had a, “lifelong, incurable, genetic mental illness.” The only problem was, I had no genetic predisposition to such, so I never really fully bought in. But both utterances convey a staggering pessimism, unless in your gut you know it is a lie.
2. ‘Is this illness or behavior?’ I was never “chaotic, agitated and challenging,” I was “smiling, and inappropriately laughing,” when repeatedly questioned about the odd sexual side effects of the Wellbutrin. Thus, I never heard this one. I will say now that I am embarrassed that I used to trust doctors, and thought they’d took the Hippocratic Oath. Now I understand to never trust them, since their sources of information are filled with fraudulent science. And the mainstream medical field has an appallingly unethical “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.”
3. ‘It would be unethical to withdraw his antipsychotic medication; he has a definite diagnosis of schizophrenia.’ A little background is needed to answer this one comprehensively, I believe. I had the ADRs of Ultram, Voltaren, and Wellbutrin misdiagnosed as “bipolar,” when the DSM-IV-TR strictly claimed this was a misdiagnosis. But my PCP’s husband had, unbeknownst to me at the time, been the “attending physician” at a “bad fix” on a broken bone of mine, and I did agree with her I should stop smoking. But combining and opioid and an antidepressant is known to be the second most deadly combination of drugs, so it’s now obvious my PCP’s paranoid delusions made it seem to her that that it would be clever, to proactively prevent a non-existent malpractice suit for her husband, by participating in “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.”
And, unfortunately for me, despite the fact I was wise enough to pay outside my insurance for a second opinion regarding these ADRs. I ended up being recommended to a psychologist who also likes to profiteer of covering up sexual abuse of small children, for her pastor and friends, via the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.”
What was good, however, is the psychiatrist was in the dark, as was I at the time, and once the psychologist stopped mandating I see her, since I was “hyper” about the etiology of my illness. My psychiatrist started blaming my psychologist for the “bipolar” misdiagnosis, in his medical records, since he did seem to know that opioids, and even NSAIs, were mind altering drugs, since almost all information regarding this was deleted from the medical records he handed over. No doubt at the request of the psychologist, however, since her corresponding medical records were also not handed over. Good thing I kept copious and impeccable calendar notes, and the psychiatrist’s drug notes do prove this. But keeping good calendar notes was the only way I could continue to function, given the egregious poisonings with which I was dealing at that time.
Nonetheless, once my psychiatrist stopped being deluded by the psychologist’s lies, he did start to wean me off the drugs, since all three of his anticholinergic toxidrome inducing drug combos, of course, had made me “psychotic,” to the point he had delusions the central symptoms of anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning were “the classic symptoms of schizophrenia.” And I had been a “pleasant, slim, white female” on my first appointment with him. So I would say I was one of the few, who did not deal with a psychiatrist who thought I had a definite diagnosis of schizophrenia.
4.‘I suspect there may be a lurking depression.’ I personally never complained of depression, quite the opposite. I was quite the optimist prior to leaving psychiatric treatment, researching medicine and learning about the almost unfathomable in scope crimes against humanity, by today’s entire psychiatric industry, particularly the US medical industry’s completely iatrogenic childhood bipolar epidemic. Digesting the magnitude of these societal crimes has left me heartbroken. Especially, given my medical research, which proves today’s “bipolar” drug cocktail recommendations, which include combining the antidepressants with the antipsychotics, is already medically known to create “psychosis,” via anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning. And today’s psychiatrists will not take this out of their “bipolar” recommendations.
5.‘If you don’t accept treatment you’ll give me no option other than to section you’ This stark example of misuse of power is commonly heard …” After I was withdrawn from the drugs, I did suffer from a drug withdrawal induced manic “psychosis” / actually an awakening to my dreams. It was a spiritual journey, a learning about the collective unconscious, a born again type story, so not scary, instead helpful, and amazingly serendipitous actually.
Nonetheless, since my husband had been brainwashed into believing I had a “lifelong, incurable, genetic mental illness,” and neither of us had been forewarned of the withdrawal effects of the “bipolar” drug cocktails. My husband called the paramedics when I suffered from a sleep walking / talking issue one night, which landed me in an actual illegal hospitalization. Not just illegal, since I did awake and agreed to go back to bed, and was “neither a danger to myself nor anyone else,” according to one of the paramedics, who’d objected to illegally dragging me out of my bed.
But also illegal according to the court and medical documents. In the US, if one does not agree to be forcibly treated, rather than going through the required legal proceedings, the unethical doctors and hospitals, just forge the patient’s signature on the voluntary commitment papers, so they may defraud that person’s health insurance company out of $30,000, not to mention switch a $6000 antique gold bracelet that patient is wearing out for a cheap gold copy.
And the doctor who had me medically unnecessarily shipped a long distance to himself, rather than to the closest hospital that took my new insurance, has even now been convicted of committing the same crimes against lots of Medicare and Medicaid patients, at a different hospital. Although he was not convicted for the worse crimes, including murder, he committed against others, according to my research. Apparently today’s American lawyers and judges and the US government are on the side of America’s doctors, who are killing millions.
If you think the US psychiatric and the mainstream medical industries’ haven’t been absolutely corrupted, you’re mistaken. I’m not certain how bad it is in the UK, but it’s appalling in the US. We’re living through pre-WWII Nazi Germany with our psychiatrists out of control behavior, not to mention our Federal Reserve’s fiscally irresponsible and out of control behavior.
6. ‘We’ll keep on tweaking the medication until we get it right.’ As mentioned previously, each of my “tweaking,” was a different combination of “bipolar” drugs, medically known to create “psychosis,” via anticholinergic toxidrome. I do so hope the psychiatric industry does learn some day that their drugs and drug cocktails are mind altering, toxic, “torture” drugs. And that their DSM is nothing more than a handbook describing the serious iatrogenic illnesses they can create with the psychiatric drugs.
Oh, but my research indicates that the psychiatric industry has switched from claiming Jews are “mentally ill,” to claiming child abuse victims and their concerned mothers are “mentally ill.” I don’t think this makes them morally superior to the Nazi psychiatrists, however, I will say they are now more insideous than the Nazi psychiatrists.
I personally believe today’s psychiatric industries’ crimes against, primarily abused children, should be stopped. And at some point, we all realize the importance of treating all others, as we would like to be treated. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Today’s US psychiatric industry is absolutely corrupt to the core.
You clearly have a wealth of personal experience relevant to the issues raised in my article. Thank you for taking the time to share them. And as for the system in the UK, I don’t think the situation is quite as bad as in the US, but it’s not too far away.
Regarding the 6
1)‘Does the patient have a severe and enduring mental illness?’
The illness is given by the doctors and medical workers, it endures from external stigma (family friends) and internal stigma-belief of being diseased because a doctor said you were sick. If the patients is not being MADE mentally ill (every day) from the psychiatric drugs. As long as you take drugs you have limited insight into your actions and behaviour. Cause and effect is limited . If you perform well that day do you feel it/if you perform badly that day do you feel it?
2‘Is this illness or behaviour?’
illness would be a chemical imbalance causing (for example) the face to contract (TD or neuroleptic malignant syndrome), versus choices a person makes from freewill.
There is not just 2, there is the third one of unconscious behaviour, such as a accidentally being late ( always) or accidentally breaking something from unconscious(suppressed) anger.
3‘It would be unethical to withdraw his antipsychotic medication; he has a definite diagnosis of schizophrenia’
They would have to face the brain disease they have caused by giving drugs to an innocent person if they withdrew the drugs.“Neuroleptic-induced supersensitivity psychosis” written by Chouinard G, Jones BD, Annable L. : Am J Psychiatry. 1978 Nov;135(11):1409-10
4‘I suspect there may be a lurking depression’
Everyone who is no longer a child has something to grieve over, which if dwelled on , can be called depression.
5 ‘If you don’t accept treatment you’ll give me no option other than to section you’
Same a the drug dealer saying if you don’t use my drugs I ‘m gonna bust your head open.
6‘We’ll keep on tweaking the medication until we get it right’
The religion of drugs, that everyone says are medications. People can not see the difference between a drug and a medicine. How a drug becomes a medicine magically when it is prescribed by a doctor. Which all leads back to who defines what illness is. Can the disease be seen in a unbiased blood examination? Is it a disease?
Mark – you make some very valid points. And I particularly like your drug dealer/’bust your head open’ analogy.
All of the quotations on your list, as you say, are extremely unhelpful and “hope quashing”. I think that in the USA use of this kind of language varies from institution to institution or practice to practice, depending on the leadership style and opinions voiced by members of the specific “mental health” organization. We see this type of language most commonly communicated (in epidemic proportions) in high volume inpatient institutions or organizations composed entirely by or under the direction of insecure psychiatrists. (Psychology practices that adhere dogmatically to psychoanalytic doctrine may be largely biopsych free, but can also enact a similar form of blind “hope quashing” nevertheless.)
The organizational culture of a mental health institution, and how that culture is defended impacts the choices made by clinicians which can limit the potential for “recovery” (or whatever word you want to use for what I’m talking about) for the patient. In its worst form, the culture maintains itself as a group- think mentality that uncritically protects the unsubstantiated and dogmatic claims of biopsych and represses critical discourse.
The critical analyses that you offered for each statement appear to be “common sense” and certainly can be understood by the vast majority of clinicians. I would suspect that clinicians who would not be open to such a discussion would be those caught in a repressive system where they experience their work situation as so fraught with physical, emotional, social, and financial danger that critical discussion is not a safe option. The danger I am talking about, as I’m sure we both know, is not only the danger of working with aggressive patients, but also the social, financial, and emotional danger threatened overtly or subtly by repressive “colleagues”.
I think that continuing the anthropological approach to the study of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic culture(s) is one very effective way to bring these unhelpful patterns of communication, values, and symbols to light and to understand the social dynamics through which these perpetuate themselves. Such analyses can be used to develop better explanations for what is going on in practice to offer better outcomes (or lives, really) for everyone involved in the “therapeutic situation”.
Thanks for your article!
Rooster – It is interesting to read about the variation in degree of bio-medical thinking across the different services. And I think you’ve raised a central point around the idea of staff feeling under threat (including that related to status & money) and how this makes them less receptive to change/alternative approaches.
I appreciate your thoughtful comments and feedback.
I’m glad there are still Mental Health, Inc. people willing to stand up and speak out. My own experience has been that they (Mental Health, Inc. employees I’ve encountered in the US) strive to make good patients, but do not want the people/patients to become good people, good citizens.
Of course, that was my experience when I was younger and my people were considered “rinky dink middle class” (a former counselor’s exact words). Now, I’m a tad older and my people are well-established and more affluent, and I find that, suddenly, the Mental Health, Inc. employees at least go through the motions of showing compassion and listening to me. Not to get all Marxist on everybody, but my own life experiences have led me to believe that race, gender, and SOCIAL CLASS (screaming caps intentional..sorry) play a huge role in “Treatment.”
Again, good article.
Many of my anti-psychiatry colleagues in the UK would agree with you about the contribution of class and the various types of discrimination. Some would go as far as to suggest that we’ll never achieve radical improvement in the way we respond to human suffering while we inhabit a capitalist system. Speaking personally, I’m not convinced that abuse of power and damaging inequalities would not occur under alternative political systems, but perhaps I’m opening up another (huge) issue there!
The distinction between so called real mental illness and ‘BPD’ is commonly seen in the response of staff It seems any
woman with a history of abuse + trauma has this label inflicted on them. Staff then see you as less deserving and morally defective. I have lost count of the completely retraumatisimg things that have been said to me because of this ‘diagnosis: All labels are just pseudo medical and pseudo scientific Yet I am treated as if my issues are character flaws and inherent deficit. A clear line is drawn between ‘PD’ and Bipolar etc.I think it works like this -Woman+abuse, Iabel disordered then punish them for it.I would suggest anyone in distress should keep away from Psychiatrists. And if given ‘PD’label, be aware that within NHS there is entrenched stigma and often hostility.You end up trying to survive the label. And I don:t understand why MHS feel such contempt and loathing for victims of child abuse. Because that is what lies behind many’ ‘Psychiatric Diagnosis. So maybe only need one label for all. Survivors of Trauma and Abuse? Sorry may have gone off topic!
There are no clear divisions in terms of discrete diagnostic categories between actual experiences of primitive, as I described here:
I agree that past trauma plays a major role in the development of mental health problems. And, sadly, I too have witnessed the apartheid in the NHS psychiatric system around the ‘personality disorder/mental illness’ distinction.
Thanks for reply. I know there are good people in MHS.It must be extremely difficult to initiate change when bio medical model and Psychiatry is so dominant. Very sad.
Yes I’m aware that Borderline Borderline was originally a a psychoanalytic concept. The problem is that the criteria within the DSM is simply a list of behaviours. Social and moral judgements. It has become a deeply stigmatising label in MHS. Where all your issues are seen as a result of a disordered personality!When in fact a ‘PD’ is nothing more than a social construct that Psychiatrists inflict ion trauma survivors, further damaging them. It is far removed from it’s psychoanalytic origins and is toxic to those seeking help.NHS MHS treat trauma reactions by pathologising and blaming the individual It makes no sense. And only causes more harm.
Thank you for this. I have recently tried within a group of fairly well-enlightened people who are attempting to change the “mental health” system that even transpersonally-focused therapists are loathe to give up these concepts. Worse, I think, is condescension seems to be part of the curriculum, no matter what the spin on “treatment” and that becomes the underlying edge to communications.
I would add one more utterance that should be unacceptable. “You’ll have to take these the rest of your life”. I might not have fallen for that one had my mother not committed suicide because the psychiatrist added, “or you’ll wind up in your mother’s condition and nothing will help.” Then he went on to describe the “kindling effect”.
I was a person who got drug after drug added to the protocol, increased dosages and for 13 years, I struggled to care for myself under the influence of so many drugs. After 10 years of increasing anxiety, panic attacks, the addition of a trained service dog to help me in public and a whole host of noxious drugs including Klonopin, the psychiatrist saying, “Well, maybe if we took you off the Welbutrin, you wouldn’t have so much anxiety” gave me the hint. OMG, he is treating side effects of the drugs by prescribing more drugs! This is the get a bigger hammer approach and I had had enough battering.
I’m celebrating four months psych drug free now. The combination of drug neurotoxicity (withdrawal syndrome) and the processing of deep grief and working through the trauma that got buried under the drug blanket is a 24/7 task. I’m grateful for MIA and my friends with lived experience for sneaking me in the key to my own personal cage so I could free myself.
Seventhsense – Great to hear you’ve been drug free for 4 months – I wish you sustained success for the future
Here is a newly released story of a daughter’s story, after receiving her father’s 1000+ page transcript of his hospitalization experiences, recently headed for the screen as well.