Modern psychiatry claims that psychiatric diagnoses are lifelong, debilitating, organic illnesses, despite the fact that there are no physical tests to determine mental illness. I would say that psychiatric diagnosis seems more like a tool of stigma and manipulation, placed upon a person in an authoritarian manner when the psychiatrist deems fit. I should know; my mother was a psychiatrist.
I put the emphasis on “was” because at the relatively young age of 53 she took her own life, leaving behind my sister, myself, and a duffle bag full of pills for her various diagnoses. Did she die because of all the pills, or in spite of them? She had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder. And it was through this lens that I was inducted into the paradigm of psychiatric care that I have come to loathe.
I was 11 or 12 when my mom had me diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’m not sure of the precipitating factors to this; I do know that I never got along with my mom. I was the outspoken daughter, the feistier one who wouldn’t tolerate my mom’s tumultuous moods and frequent vitriol. But because my mother was a psychiatrist and because she had the diagnosis herself, she knew better. Shortly after she had me diagnosed, I was put on Depakote, and this started my journey into psychiatric offices, hospitalizations, treatment centers, and even more medications.
I have to say that my recollections of this time in my life are emotionally detached. A lot of this time is hazy, some of it blank. Perhaps it’s because of the drugs, but it’s like I’m recounting a movie that I’ve watched a million times.
I wasn’t a bad kid before I was diagnosed. I was on the honor roll, and despite having a volatile relationship with my mother (and having been in therapy for such since the age of 8), I wasn’t terrible. To my mother, on the other hand, I was her burden to bear. After I was diagnosed and put on Depakote, I was “much better,” despite my introverted demeanor and the constant shaking of my hands. She had claimed that my grades were falling, which looking back I can’t find any evidence of, but it’s true that after being put on the Depakote I wasn’t fighting with her as much and my grades did improve.
This twilight period didn’t last long. At some point I began dabbling in recreational drugs, particularly after my mother introduced me to marijuana. This, of course, confirmed my clinical diagnosis, and my first psychiatric hospitalization was in Boston after I decided to throw an unapproved house party, thus continuing on the path of having my deviance medicalized.
I landed in McLean hospital for two weeks. I don’t remember much of my stay except being heavily drugged and taking walks to the duck pond. In addition to the Depakote I acquired some Zoloft because, of course, I was depressed (by being in that wretched place!).
After my hospitalization, my mother became more adamant in her proclamations of how sick I was. She continued to insist that I take my medications because I was so sick! Look what I did! I threw a party. The next thing that validated her point (in her mind) was when I got kicked out of the boarding school she’d sent me to. I hadn’t wanted to go in the first place, and after getting caught smoking pot twice, I was expelled. I freaked out, decided to snort my sleeping pills (which had been thrown into the mix at some point) and landed in the infirmary for three days until she picked me up with her newly acquired boyfriend.
My parents had divorced when I was 10, and when my mom showed up with a man I had never met, I was shocked. Little did I know at the time, but meeting this man, “Tony,” would be pivotal in the lives of everyone in my family.
Tony was a patient of my mother’s and had been for several years. According to her, he was a little depressed and somewhat anxious. She prescribed him OxyContin for his bad back.
Tony turned out to be so much worse than my mom even knew. He claimed to be an “enforcer” and wanted me to work for him. He sensed my mom’s fragile mental state and used that as a weapon against her, claiming (without actually doing so) that he had the phone lines tapped and the trees around our house bugged. He began to groom me, tried to befriend me, gave me marijuana and the anxiety pills my mom prescribed him, and then he began to molest me.
Things really went downhill when, one night, my mother called me while I was staying at my father’s house and told me that my dad was going to send me away to a hospital or program and that I needed to come with her right away. There she was, manipulating me into believing that my father would use the same tactics she used against me.
I snuck out of my father’s house that fateful night and met my mom and Tony down the street. We stayed at my mom’s house, and then the next morning went to a hotel about half an hour away. Tony paid off the receptionist to wipe our names from their records so that if the police were to call, they wouldn’t find me; I was now considered a runaway because my dad didn’t know I had left. My mom and Tony pretended like they didn’t know where I was the entire time.
I was in the hotel for two weeks. The days were spent listlessly consuming marijuana, pills, and alcohol, all provided by Tony and my mom. She would leave at night and Tony would sexually abuse me. I don’t remember if I was on my medications for my “bipolar” at the time.
Finally I got out of there. Tony was driving me around during the day, which was rare; a cop pulled him over and in a panic, Tony told me to jump out of the car; I did, and then the cops took me away. From there I proceeded to a couple of foster homes, the first for a few days, the second for several months. Then I was on to my first long-term treatment facility, Red Rock Canyon School in Utah.
By this time my drug cocktail consisted of the Depakote, Zoloft, sleeping pills and Seroquel. Seroquel was a coma in a pill. The way I had gotten to Red Rock was by my dad saying we were going to visit his friends in Utah; he then me an extra dose of Seroquel on the plane, I conked out, and when I woke up I was in this strange place with people telling me to take out my eyebrow rings or they would “do it for me.”
I’m sure my mother had told the facility all kinds of terrible things about me: how I was a delinquent, ran away, was out of control, etc. This “therapeutic boarding school” really honed in on my diagnosis, and the facility’s doctors experimented with all kinds of pills. I was on so much Seroquel that I was tired all day long and my time at Red Rock is hazy. They also tried me on various mood stabilizers and antidepressants because I had PTSD as a new diagnosis due to the sexual abuse. In addition to keeping me medicated, this facility implemented a paradigm of care called “Positive Peer Culture,” which was a behavioral modification type of modality where your peers could aggressively confront you in a group setting.
It was in this program that I had taken up cutting. I think I just wanted to feel something. I was so numb due to all the meds, yet I was continuously being encouraged to share my feelings or else I wasn’t “working the program.” Physical pain was something I could still feel, though, so I would carve up my legs, unbeknownst to staff.
Here I was, 15 years old and already in a long-term treatment facility. I was, on paper: crazy! This entire time, all the adults in my life had been speaking for me. I never felt like I was any of the things they said, but I went along with it. What else could I have done? Every time I rebelled, it only confirmed to my mother what she thought of me. During the time when I was being shuffled back and forth, I stood in a courtroom with my mother who proceeded to tell the judge how sick and out of control I was. I needed to be medicated, and I needed all the treatment I received.
After I got out of Red Rock my mother became fixated on how severely ill I was, and she began saying that I would be deemed incompetent. She would tell me that I was so sick (and now that I had experimented with drugs, also a drug addict) that I would need to be on SSI and SSDI for the rest of my life. She liked to say to me (and anyone else who would listen, including psychiatrists) that I was “genetically double-whammied” – a drug addict and bipolar. Because of this, she said, I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself past the age of 18. This threat loomed over my head for quite some time.
I was living with my mother in Orlando, FL in my post-Red Rock days (this despite the fact that we didn’t get along and I had been subjected to sexual abuse under her care). It was during this time that I found myself in handcuffs for the first time in my life. She had me Baker Acted, which in Florida means that one is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward for a 72-hour observation.
Because of my mother’s tumultuous moods, she didn’t have a consistent curfew for me. I had been out with a friend, and when I got home my mother decided that I was “late.” I was walking up the stairs to the apartment, smoking a cigarette, and she stormed outside demanding that I come up immediately. I wanted to finish my cigarette and said so. In response she pummeled down the stairs, grabbed me by the arm, nails digging into my flesh, and pulled me up the steps. My defiance was obviously symptomatic of my “illnesses,” so she demanded that I take my medications right away. I told her that I wasn’t going to take the pills, and she proceeded to try to pry open my mouth and force them down my throat. In reaction, I slapped her hand away and the pills rolled under the fridge.
My mother immediately grabbed the phone and called the cops. “I have an out of control teenage daughter!” she wailed to the 911 operator. A few minutes later I was escorted to the cop car, handcuffed and led away to a psychiatric hospital. I remember the maroon-colored scrubs I wore, but little else. After 72 hours I was transferred to another hospital where I spent two weeks.
During this second hospital stay, what really stood out to me was how powerless I felt. I remember feeling that my mother was abusing me and no one would listen. I tried to express myself to doctors, nurses, whoever, but I felt that because my mom was a psychiatrist and I her crazy daughter, I wasn’t taken seriously. I acquired the diagnosis of “Borderline Personality Disorder” at this hospital, despite the fact that the diagnosis couldn’t be given to anyone under the age of 18 and I was 16 at the time. I suppose my cutting and defiance were not symptoms of my environment, the trauma I faced, or being forcibly medicated – no, there was something wrong with my personality.
This hospital liked to experiment with my medications. I was on Paxil, Seroquel, Depakote, Trazodone, and I’m sure others that I’m forgetting. After a particularly distressing “therapy” session with my mother, I got so angry that I started screaming at her. The hospital’s response was to feed me Haldol and keep me isolated in my room for the entire day. I remember thinking that at least the meds made me tired so I could sleep to pass the time.
After I was released I went back to living with my mother. Despite me being a “drug addict,” she continued to smoke pot with me and give me her Ativan, which I didn’t mind because she was actually pretty tolerable when she was stoned.
Little did I know that this was her plan to get me into another long-term residential facility. She later admitted to me that she did drugs with me because she knew I would end up doing other drugs as well, and that would allow her to send me to treatment.
I don’t know how she tricked me into going to this place; perhaps it was something as simple as a doctor’s appointment. Where I ended up was hell on earth. It was called S.A.F.E (Substance Abuse Family Education) Inc. It was in an innocuous Orlando strip mall. I didn’t know at the time that the methods they employed were experimental and followed the tenets of brainwashing used in Chinese prison camps. I also didn’t know that the program was an offshoot of another program called Straight Inc. which had been shut down for its abusive methods, only to be reopened the same day under the name of S.A.F.E Inc.! All I knew at the time was that I was screwed.
I could dedicate an entire book to my experiences at S.A.F.E. This place didn’t employ psychiatrists, doctors, social workers, or therapists. It was a “tough-love” program for teen drug addicts, and the only people who could help us wayward souls were those who had been through it themselves, so it was employed by graduated staff. Despite this lack of medical oversight, we were still medicated. The drug addicts were medicated! There have been accounts of S.A.F.E overmedicating people with Adderall, but I wasn’t one of those. I was given my thrice-daily regimen of mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and atypical antipsychotics. If I didn’t take my medication, I was seen as noncompliant and “not working my program.” For such a crime I could be confronted and set back phases (this was a gradual five-phase program). I remember how one girl who was in there with me was so heavily medicated that she would fall asleep standing up and had a constant string of drool dripping off her chin.
My imprisonment at S.A.F.E was an unpleasant experience to say the least. The most notably unpleasant experience (aside from the constant and overarching feeling of dread and doom that I felt every second of every day) was when the staff lost my medication. Even though I was supposedly a horrible drug addict destined to die without the program, I had never experienced drug withdrawals – that is, until they lost my meds! For three days I was a writhing, sweating, vomiting mess as I lay on a plastic mattress on the dusty floor. At the time, I didn’t know how dangerous it could be to go off these medications so suddenly, but I am now aware that I could have suffered a seizure because Depakote is an anticonvulsant.
I got out of the program in a considerably short 14 months (short considering that some individuals had been in there for 4 or 5 years, and 2 years was the mean). After my release, I experienced what sociology calls a sense of “anomie”; that is, normlessness. I didn’t know what to expect from society and I didn’t know what society expected of me. I had been under a form of thought control for the past 14 months and didn’t know what to do with myself.
I couldn’t go back to live with my father (he didn’t want to deal with me) or my mother (halfway through the program she decided she didn’t like it anymore and was consequently excommunicated; I wasn’t allowed to speak to her or even think of her). So I went to live with a parent in the aftercare program for a while, until I decided that I wanted nothing more to do with the program and I left.
Although this was a very volatile time in my life – I was basically homeless, staying with friends, and living in hotels – it was also very enlightening. I decided to get myself off all the medications, and I did it with no medical assistance. I never really felt that I needed the pills anyway, so I decided not to be shackled to them anymore.
I wish I could say that it was like a fog was lifted, but I really can’t remember. I can say that while my brain and body were adjusting to being medication-free, I went through a time of incredible mania. I was like a feral child: wild-eyed and mistrusting. I calmed down and leveled out eventually, but it took a while.
Now, at the age of 29, I have a sense of clarity that I don’t think I would have ever known if I had stayed on the meds. I know that I’m not the only one who has been subjected to the rigmarole of institutions, psychiatric and otherwise. I try to look at the big picture now, and question the methods of treatment that I and so many others received. Why was I voiceless? Why was I stuck in institutions that were supposed to help me but hurt me more? Why didn’t I have a say in my own treatment, and why don’t these institutions view a patient from a holistic perspective as opposed to mere symptoms? These are big questions, but questions that should be asked by patients and doctors alike; particularly doctors treating children. It’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture. What is really going on? And are these treatments helping or hurting?
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.
Sounds like someone in the family was whacked out, and proved it, as well, by suiciding in middle age.
You are right about that! It’s funny because my mother was a psychiatrist, so in my youth people automatically believed what she had to say instead of me.
Hi, and wow I envy you, and sorry you had too go through this.I feel for you. One year ago I went too go get help, and I was depressed, and just not happy. I was also in nursing school at the time. I had tried a lot of meds, and they didn’t work, and if they did they would stop working at three months , or I would experience every side affect. So they found one which is risperidol, it worked for a while, but after 3 months it stopped working, and my doctor didn’t tell me too tapper off. So three months after it altered me in a horrible way. I couldn’t get out of bed, I was sleeping 15 min a day, I was a mess suicidal thoughts, akethesia feeling, and anxiety through the roof. I had too admit myself too buttler for two weeks they put me on a cocktail that was wellbutrin, seraqual, clanozapam, came home shortly after the same symptom’s had returned got out of the hospital in January, and I tried weening myself off, but it got to the point were I was not sleeping for weeks, so I had too take clanazapam, and seraqual that’s the only thing that puts me too sleep. I am sad everyday, I cry all the time, it still feels like akethesia, and I feel all these feelings are permanat it all started September of 2015, I don’t laugh not myself, just feel like someone is running my body. Sorry for the long message. I’m in talk therapy once a week. And I feel that if I stop the meds same thing will happen. :'( ugh I’m 33 and feel my life is over.
No, doctor, or psychiatrist know what to do anymore.
I blame myself for getting help, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be like this. No over the counter meds work, or acupuncture I tried no go. Forgot too add this. Thanks for reading.
Sorry it took me a month to write! If you haven’t found the website yet, try >beyondmeds.com<, and also look for Dr. Kelly Brogan's website. In addition to all the books and authors here at MadinAmerica, I can also recommend Dr. Peter Breggin's book "Toxic Psychiatry". Lots of us here – myself included – have been through dark times and bad people, like you. It's a scary, painful place – for sure! But I do hope this little bit of hope I'm sharing helps you, too! I have faith in you, and I think you can do it. The simple fact that you came here and wrote, is a positive step in the right direction. Please keep trying – you're worth it.
I am so sorry! This is an awful story! I’m glad you at least tried acupuncture. It sounds like you need to find a doctor who specializes in getting people off of psychiatric drugs. It’s been done, but it’s not easy. Maybe there is a group of people who have been “patients” and are working on this in your area?
Wish I had more to say that might help. Good luck!
Thank you Steve, for your response, yes it is tough too find a doctor like that, I have been through hell, I just feel hopeless, I am trying to get through this, it is so hard I can’t explain. I just want to go back to me. I live in R.I. and its tough.
I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through all this! It’s horrible, but please don’t give up! I have been seeing a craniosacral therapist. Maybe something along those lines could work for you. He works with individuals who are getting off their psych meds.
Your life isn’t over. I only have my experience to go by, but I have to say that life is so much better when the fog is lifted and I’m not shackled down by the pills. Withdrawals may be a bitch, and you may go crazy for awhile (I know I did!) but life is so much better without them. It just takes time. Have you tried herbal supplements? Melatonin really helps me with sleep.
I sincerely wish you all the best and hope you get things figured out because your life isn’t over!
Both my psychologist and psychiatrist drugged their own children, too. My theory is that many of those who choose to go into the field of psychiatry do so to figure out their own mental illnesses, sounds like that was the case with your mother. And covering up child abuse does seem to be what is the psychiatric industry’s number one function within humanity today. Sorry about what happened to you. I’m glad you escaped and have turned your life around.
By the way, today’s “bipolar” drug cocktail recommendations are known to make people “psychotic,” via anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning, so this may have been part of your mother’s problem.
I applaud you tenacity!
It’s amazing that the “mental health” profiteers defend and exonerate abusers simply by taking away your ability to have a voice. Sickening actually because the abusers are never brought to account for their actions.
Glad you escaped and now give a voice to others.
Thank you! I try! The thing is, I for the longest time, I thought the residential facilities in which I was placed were actually normal modalities of treatment. It took me awhile to understand that it wasn’t normal! Especially S.A.F.E!!! Fortunately it has been closed down, but unfortunately, there are other similar programs still in existence.
“…similar programmes still in existence.”
I’m not normally an advocate of violent methods but maybe in this case I will make an exception. You are basically describing torture, such as used the by US government in Guantanomo bay and used against troubled teenagers.
If you are interested, read the book “Help at Any Cost”. It is so informative. It really helped me understand the Troubled Teen Industry, and how malicious it is.
Have you considered writing a book yourself? You write well, and have a compelling story to tell!
Reasons why the mental health system needs a total overhaul: (condensed version)
1. Up to 75% of those who have received a mental health diagnosis actually have physical conditions which can cause or exacerbate psychiatric symptoms.
2. The current treatment regime used by most licensed professionals for mental illness actually increases likelihood of violence.
3. The methods and procedures used by licensed mental illness professionals, including the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and others are substandard and typically ignore evidence which would allow individuals to recover and lead full, satisfying lives.
4. While the current substandard criteria for diagnosing and treating individuals who have been labeled mentally ill may largely be due to over-specialization within the field of psychiatry, the field of psychiatry has an abundant history of abuse of power for political purposes. This implementation may be such an example.
Item 1 – Up to 75% of those who have received a mental health diagnosis actually have physical conditions which can cause or exacerbate psychiatric symptoms.
A. “Many mental health programs are not staffed by physicians practiced in medical diagnosis and are thus unprepared to detect a large proportion of physical disease in their patients. ..California’s state mental health programs fail to detect many diseases that could be causing or exacerbating psychiatric disorders”
Many of these physical conditions are treatable, although some currently are not. While the Koran Algorithm(1), devised at Stanford University more than 25 years ago, and requires ten items of medical history, measurement of blood pressure, and sixteen laboratory tests (thirteen blood tests and three urine tests) will not identify all possible conditions which can cause or exacerbate psychiatric symptoms, failure to run these tests pretty much guarantees individuals, family members and society will all needlessly suffer. Yet, few agencies or psychiatrists are aware of this medical algorithm which has been proven to identify individuals who have physical conditions which can cause or exacerbate psychiatric disorders, allowing them to be treated appropriately. In this study 39% of patients (509 patients in study) were found to have such a disease, 12% of which were previously unknown. (2)
In his book, A Dose of Sanity, Walker cites studies which show from 41% to 75% of patients are initially misdiagnosed, often due to treatable conditions. Hoffman, Robert Science News, Vol. 122, September 11, 1982; Herringm M. M., Debate over ‘false positive schizophrenics’
Medicine Tribune, September 25, 1985. Pg 3; Koranyi, Erwin K., “Undiagnosed physical illness in psychiatric patients,” American Family Physician, Vol. 41, No. 4, April 1990;
Christensen RC, Grace GD, Byrd JC. Refer more patients for medical evaluation. Curr Psychiatr 2009;8:73–74.
Item 2 – The current treatment regime used by most licensed professionals for mental illness actually increases likelihood of violence.
A. Excerpts from The FDA Is Hiding Reports Linking Psych Drugs to Homicides by ANDREW THIBAULT May 6, 2016, http://www.madinamerica.com/2016/05/the-fda-is-hiding-reports-linking-psych-drugs-to-homicides/?delete-trans=true
B. Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others
By Thomas J. Moore , Joseph Glenmullen, Curt D. Furberg, Published: December 15, 2010
ITEM 3. That the methods and procedures used by licensed mental illness professionals, including the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and others are substandard and typically ignore evidence which would allow individuals to recover and lead full, satisfying lives.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV), cautions against using the manual in a cookbook fashion , yet many in the field of mental health use it exactly that way. There are four main causes of brain dysfunction.
1. Anatomical abnormalities or damage, 2. Lack of oxygen or glucose 3. Electrolyte imbalance, 4. Neurotransmitter deregulation; the imbalance of brain chemistry.
Anatomical abnormalities or damage
“Trauma exposure has been linked to later substance abuse, mental illness, increased risk of suicide, obesity, heart disease, and early death.”
Trauma has been proven to shrink a portion of the brain , resulting in various symptoms which can increase in severity over time. Therefor psychological trauma should be considered as evidence of a physical abnormality, or damage to the brain, and not the result of a chemical imbalance.
There are various proven non-drug therapies for treating trauma. The least expensive – and possibly the most effective of these are a series of simple Tension &Trauma Releasing Exercises.(2) This method should be taught during basic training in all military services – and practiced at least weekly in conflict areas to prevent service people from developing PTSD. It should also be widely available for any who have received significant psychological trauma regardless of the origins of the trauma.
Somatic Experiencing(3) (SE) is a body-awareness approach to trauma being taught throughout the world, the result of over forty years of observation, research, and hands-on development by Peter Levine, Ph.D. Based upon the realization that human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma, SE employs awareness of body sensation to help people “renegotiate” and heal rather than relive or reenact trauma.
Lack of oxygen or glucose
An intimate link exists between the brain and the metabolism of sugar—one that has too long been overlooked by the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry . . . insulin appears to be important in the development of several neuropsychiatric disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s . . . an essential step in the development of preventive treatments, and targeting insulin-related pathways in the brain could lead to new approaches for treating neurological and psychiatric disorders. (4)
The thyroid is involved in the regulation of glucose. A poorly functioning thyroid is one of several often overlooked conditions in psychiatry. Psychiatric symptoms of hyperthyroidism include generalized anxiety, depression, irritability, hypomania, cognitive dysfunction, and mania (in severe hyperthyroidism— thyrotoxicosis, or thyroid storm). Psychiatric symptoms of hypothyroidism include depression, cognitive dysfunction, psychosis (in severe hypothyroidism—myxedema madness). Other psychiatric symptoms include depression, rapid cycling in bipolar disorder (a common cause), and subtle signs of cognitive dysfunction. (5)
Magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and calcium are known as electrolytes, minerals that dissolve in water and form electrically charged particles called ions. These ions are essential for transmitting electrical impulses along nerves and for muscle contraction. They create electrical impulses that let cells in our body send messages back and forth to one another (cell communication) and through this allow individuals to perform the bioelectrical functions, such as thinking, moving, and seeing.
Electrolyte deficiencies, especially of magnesium, due to the decreased nutritional value of the food we now eat, may be one of the major reasons so many people are being diagnosed with mental health problems.
“Magnesium deficiency causes serotonin-deficiency with possible resultant aberrant behaviors, including depression, suicide or irrational violence.” (6)
Neurotransmitter deregulation; the imbalance of brain chemistry.
Neurological studies have shown that there are extremely long cells which go from the brain within the spinal column.(7) The entire spinal column, including the brain, also resembles the cells within the brain and acts similarly in sending and receiving chemical messages. However, the spinal column also gathers information from the body and transmits this information, also in the form of chemical messengers which are then retrieved by the brain. For more information on this subject, please refer to The Body is the Sub-Conscious Mind by Candice Pert.
A study published in 1975, compared chiropractic care with drug treatment in children with learning and behavioral impairments due to neurological dysfunction. It was reported that chiropractic care “was more effective for the wide range of symptoms common in the neurological dysfunction syndrome in which thirteen symptom or problem areas were considered.” The author also reported that chiropractic care was 24% more effective than commonly used medications. (8)
Neurotoxins as a cause of mental illnesses:
Korean scientists found that eight- to eleven-year-old children who had higher levels of breakdown products of one type of phthalate (DEHP) in their urine were more likely to demonstrate inattentive and hyperactive behavior. Additionally, higher levels of the breakdown product of a different type of phthalate (DBP) were associated with inattentive and impulsive performance on a standardized behavioral test. Phthalates are a class of chemicals best known for their roles in keeping plastics soft and liquids mixed. Phthalates are very common in consumer products and may be found in perfumes and other personal care products, medications, food packaging, medical devices, and vinyls. (9)
Reality Therapy and Choice Theory:
William Glasser began developing reality therapy during his time at UCLA in the 1960s, evolving it into choice theory by the 1990s. According to choice theory, the five basic needs are survival, love and belonging, power, fun, and freedom. These needs can interact and overlap, and each person has the ability to translate these needs into specific wants—the people, objects, or circumstances that meet their needs. These wants can be revised throughout life. The survival need is the only one that is not completely psychological. To satisfy every other need, we must have relations with other people. Satisfying the need for love and belonging is a key to satisfying all other needs. Power needs can be satisfied by a sense of accomplishment and competence. Fun is the quest for enjoyment—a playfulness and deep intimacy. Freedom is part of the desire for autonomy—the ability to make a choice from several relatively unrestricted options; often this involves creativity.
To Glasser, people exhibiting maladjustment were not to be considered as mentally ill, but examples of ways people choose to behave when they feel thwarted in the attempt to satisfy any of the five basic needs. What others consider to be mental illness, he saw as ways in which huge numbers of people choose to deal with the pain of loneliness or disconnection in order to avoid even greater pain. Choosing intense symptoms such as depression and anxiety keeps angering under control and enables people to avoid what they are afraid of doing. A person’s every behavior—thinking, doing, feeling, and physiology—constitute his or her best effort to meet his or her basic needs. Behaviors may be responsible or irresponsible and effective or ineffective. Responsible behavior fulfills ones needs without preventing others from fulfilling theirs. Irresponsible behaviors fulfill one’s needs in a way that prevents others from fulfilling theirs. One can influence but not control others. If one wants to have the highest probability of successful change, one needs to target areas that one can control. Healthy functioning is characterized by responsible behavior. For more information on choice theory, go to www. wglasserinst.com or read Choice Theory (1998) by William Glasser.
Item 4. While the current substandard criteria for diagnosing and treating individuals who have been labeled mentally ill may largely be due to over-specialization within the field of psychiatry, the field of psychiatry has an abundant history of abuse of power for political purposes. This implementation may be such an example.
While it is possible that over-specialization has run amok among in the profession of psychiatry, helping to fuel a drive to find acceptable scapegoats for the problems of the world, those experiencing mental health problems, it is also possible that this phenomena also has political roots.
During the Nazi era, for the first time in history, psychiatrists sought to systematically exterminate their patients. It has been acknowledged that the medical profession was profoundly involved in crimes against humanity during this period, with various publications describing this malevolent period of medical history. It is less known, however, that psychiatrists were among the worst transgressors. At each stage of the descent of the profession into the depths of criminal and genocidal clinical practice lay a series of unethical decisions and immoral professional judgments.
Psychiatrists, along with many other physicians, facilitated the resolution of many of the regime’s ideological and practical challenges, rather than taking a passive or even active stance of resistance. Psychiatrists played a prominent and central role in two categories of the crimes against humanity, namely sterilization and euthanasia. It was psychiatrists (many of whom were senior professors in academia) who sat on planning committees for both processes and who provided the theoretical backing for what transpired. It was psychiatrists who reported their patients to the authorities and coordinated their transfer from all over Germany to gas chambers situated on the premises of the six psychiatric institutions: Brandenburg, Grafeneck, Hartheim, Sonnenstein, Bernburg, and Hadamar. It was psychiatrists who coordinated the “channeling” of patients on arrival into specially modified rooms where gassing took place. It was psychiatrists who saw to the killing of the patients (initially using carbon monoxide and later, starvation and injection). Finally, it was psychiatrists who faked causes of death on certificates sent to these patients’ next of kin. It has been estimated that over 200,000 individuals with mental disorders of all subtypes were put to death in this manner. Much of this process took place before the plan to annihilate the Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals of Europe. (10)
1. A Medical Algorithm for Detecting Physical Disease in Psychiatric Patients, Hospital and Community Psychiatry Vol. 40 No. 12 Dec 1989, p. 1270
2. TheRevolutionary Trauma Release Process: Transcend Your ToughestTimes by David Berceli, PhD. http://www.traumaprevention.com
3. Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, http://www.traumahealing.org ; Healing Trauma by Peter Levine PhD, 2005
4. Metabolism and the Brain – Evidence for the role of insulin in mediating normal and abnormal brain function may lead to new treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. By Oksana Kaidanovich-Beilin, Danielle S. Cha, and Roger S. McIntyre http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33338/title/
Metabolism-and-the-Brain/| December 1, 2012
5. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments in Psychiatry (p. 28) Levenson, JL. Psychiatric issues in endocrinology. Primary Psychiatry 2006;13:27–30. Canaris GJ, Manowitz NR, Mayor G,Ridgway EC. The Colorado thyroid disease study prevalence. Arch Intern Med 2000;160:526–534 Cole DP, Thase ME, Mallinger AG, et al. Slower treatment response in bipolar depression predicted by lower pretreatment thyroid function. Am J Psychiatry 2002;159:116–121.
6. Transdermal Magnesium Therapy 2007 by Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, p. 172
7. Biology and Human Behavior by Professor Robert Sapolsky, Sanford University © 1996, The Teaching Company, lesson 3
8. Children, ADD/ADHD, and Chiropractic by Dr. Christopher Kent
9.Phthalates may play a role in ADHD symptoms .http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/phthalates-may-havea-role-in-adhd/
10. Psychiatry during the Nazi era: ethical lessons for the modern professional by Rael D Strous
Thank you for your very thorough and informative response! I have had a very long day in the sun, but will spend some time this week reading through your facts and data. Very interesting!
Not sure about the alternative organic causes of mental problems. But if you are correct, there are causes of those causes. As Sera Davidow (a prolific writer for MIA) says: “I talk about prejudice, discrimination, and oppression, because that’s really what it is in the end.”
Please consider poverty, homelessness, racism, etc. as causes.
You’re experience is scary and I’m glad to see you surviving and on your feet. There’s a lot of mental illness promotion around and pay offs for connected people.
It was like you had to cut a limb off to escape!
I was imprisoned by the withdrawal syndromes attached to the drugs (which I saw as “illness”) and my trust in the medical system which had me seriously diagnosed. My very first impression of the Mental Health system though, was that of slimyness.
I’m “in” a program myself but the rule us nobody tells you what to do – they only suggest.
I only had a brief experience of the really bad withdrawals, although I must admit, when I took myself off the meds completely, I went a little crazy! It certainly is like a prison, because you need the meds to get out of the withdrawal, but you don’t want to be on them in the first place!
It sounds like your program isn’t a bad one. They aren’t all bad. I work at a treatment facility for people with special needs, and although the individuals are on an obscene amount of medication, the program isn’t at all like what I experienced. I wish you the best of luck on your journey! : )
Thanks, I hope to see you writing again here.
1. I’m so sorry, and
2. Your research about munchausen’s – and, by extension, how families cast outliers as containers for their sickness, and how this is mutually enforced/constructed with medical / legal / economic authorities – sounds fascinating. And I’m really, really, curious if you have any perspective you’d like to share on the Justina Peltier case? Wherein a hospital said that Peltier’s parents had munchausens and were misdiagnosing her, and said hospital proceded to detain Peltier in a psych ward for an extended time. It’s an absurd case that I can’t wrap my head around.
About the Justina Peltier case, please refer to the website I write for: https://proxyprojectresearch.wordpress.com/
We have a couple of posts about this exact case, and how we hypothesize that it is a provider type of MSbP.
Ms. Chance’s parents were psychiatric terrorists. Her father checked out of her life and her mother both served AND drank the psychiatry kool-aid. This story should be turned into a public health ad campaign about the hazards of psychiatry, the “troubled-teen” industry, and pathogenic parents. It should also be used as proof that even the “sickest” and most unwanted people can live free, productive, and happy lives.
Many years ago I was in the hospital and a person I made friends with, another patient, was the doctors receptionists kid.
I didn’t know what I know now but even at the time back when I was still sick and thought the stuff making me sick was the answer I knew he was there because they screwed him up too.
Its just scary.
And the doctor told me not to be telling people in the waiting room I was in the hospital with the receptionists kid. Again this was way before I figured out they were keeping me sick but I knew the reason he was in that hospital too was the treatment not what ever his problem was labeled.
What an incredible story. Thank you for your courage in sharing this – truly incredible that you survived and are now functioning; well done!
Your mother truly sounds like a nightmare. A terrible example of material projection, splitting, denial, identity diffusion in terms of the mother using the child to externalize her own problems, etc.
It’s scary to think there are psychiatrists out there “treating” people who are this fucked up themselves.
I was also diagnosed borderline, shot up on loads of drugs for years, and hospitalized multiple times.
Here is my story:
Thank you for sharing your story. Your perseverance and survival are remarkable. I have read another account of a young person – also from Boston- who had a similar experience.
Another commenter brought up Justin P. Her case was championed in these pages. In that instance, the outcry was in the use of Munchausen’s by proxy to invalidiate the family’s concerns.
I worry about the use of that label since labels – as you know as much as anyone – tend to get reified just by their utterance by anyone with a voice of authority. Rather than saying, these constructs – Bipolar disorder – have no validity and the treatments – drugs – are in effective and harmful, why do we need to add MBP?
I realize, this is not the body of your post but it is in your bio. I ask this with genuine curiosity to a thoughtful and intelligent person – not to challenge or discount your story in any way.
As a student of sociology, I understand the importance of labels. It is human nature to categorize things; it makes it easier for us to understand things. Now, I am certainly against psychiatric labeling, as I believe it is stigmatizing. However, current literature on MSbP states it as a mental disorder, which we on the Proxy Project are trying to get away from. It’s as much of a mental disorder as any other- that is, it is just a cluster of abstract “symptoms”, but we use this label to categorize certain behaviors which, when thrust upon an innocent victim can be very dangerous. It’s like, when a past therapist first suggested this could be a possibility for me, it was like, “Wow! There’s a name for it!” I guess it makes it easier to grasp in some ways. But we do understand that it’s not an organic pathology, just perhaps a learned behavior, and we aren’t advocating the use of medications in any way. I hope this clarifies things a bit!
Thanks for the info /framework stuff, seriously.
I learned this term, Munchausen by Proxy, fairly recently and I immediately recognized the significance of it.
I agree, labels and categories, neutrally applied (rather than stigmatizing and with all of these distorted, negative, fear and judgment-based connotations) can be helpful to find much needed clarity–IF, and only if, they are founded on something real and tangible for the purpose of deeper understanding that would lead to the betterment of an individual, and in turn, society.
MBP is a very real and toxic issue that is most relevant when discussing issues of and related to “mental illness.” It is a huge part of the confusion. Your story gives excellent clarity to a taboo subject, seriously brave and enlightening.
Wonderful work, very significant, and exciting, I feel. Thanks so very much for bringing light to it.
Thank you so much for your kind words! In the literature on MSbP, there is a lot disagreement about what name it should be called, and whether it should be considered a mental illness or not; that is, what labels should be attributed to it. However, like I have said, I don’t think it’s a mental illness at all; just a list of behaviors and while the literature will exhaust one with all the case studies, we at the Proxy Project want to find out why it happens, what happens to its victims, and what we can do about healing. While different PHDs are being tit for tat about what to call it, we want to do something about it!
Well, I do consider it to be as close to whatever it is I might refer to as “mental illness,” in that it is directly sabotaging to others specifically through lies and betrayal, and seriously crazy-making behaviors, which I call gaslighting and double-binding, both of which are considered to be extreme and insidious mental cruelty, with which I agree.
I’m sure the perpetrator of this would not see it this way, I guess in their minds they are perceiving what they say they are perceiving, but it is a total delusion/projection. Were I to assign a traditional DSM label, I would call it “extreme narcissism,” in that there is such core wounding that leads to such extreme emotional neediness, that all empathy is lost in relationships. I think it’s based a lot on jealousy, too–jealous of a person’s light and, perhaps, ability to love. Those who perpetrate MSbP, I would say, are not attuned to their hearts whatsoever, and love and light threaten them, rather than soothe them, so it’s very toxic.
I had this experience with my older brother, and I am in the process of trying to forgive him. He caused me great pain which I had not realized the seeds he was planting everywhere, which others in my family were buying into, much to my detriment. I woke up to it 50 years into our relationship, and it was a very rude awakening. By that time, I had a lot of healing to do around this, but I’ve kept my distance for a while now. No reason to allow that into my life any longer.
I really support what you are doing, because I feel it is so core to the messiness of these issues, where clarity eludes us all. What you are working on here, I feel, will bring a lot of clarity because it is, naturally, quite well-hidden, and I think it’s way more prevalent than we realize. I believe this is how a vast majority of “mentally ill” clients are created, via negative and stigmatizing projections made by very insecure, wounded, and jealous people who cannot come to terms with their own wounding. It’s treacherous.
So thank you again from the bottom of my heart for this courageous work, I think it will be a game-changer, seriously. I’ve been meaning to check out your website and haven’t had a chance to, yet, which I will do this evening. So I’m glad you posted this to bring it around again!
Btw, my family is highly academic, to the core, my dad and brother both post grad professors. And this was also my experience within the mental health system, they just made things up right and left that had profound negative impact on my life, until I freed myself from all of this via my very intensive and multi-layered healing which brought me back my personal power, like soul-retrieval. Took years, though.
I had no idea to what truths this would lead me, and I was really stunned at the profundity of this phenomenon, and how insidious and damaging it is. Then I realized how common it seemed to be, kind of social norm/epidemic, I fear.
Fortunately, it also brought to me a lot of meaningful information regarding who I am and about my life path and purpose, which I guess is the point of our trials and tribulations in life, to guide us to who we really are.
I’ve noticed these types of projections to occur a lot from the academic world. I’ve always felt the extreme competitiveness and pressure to perform and to fit into this tiny little box of social and
professional “acceptability,” can really lead people astray, embed them in their ego, and these fears of being marginalized (ironically) in their own communities eclipse their hearts.
Combined with having brilliant and focused minds that can be quite clever, this can all be so very toxic, that is what I found these relationships to be. All of them ring of the MSbP phenomenon.
It’s not my intention to put the academic world on the defensive, but this is definitely a pattern I’ve noticed, so I thought I’d say this in case it rang true to you or others. I just think this is such a key issue. When this truth really comes to light, a lot of significant change will begin to take place, I really believe that.
I’m glad you are getting something out of my writing. I really hope you to check out our blog. Maybe you will find some guidance and healing there. I’m sorry to hear about what happened with your brother; it’s terrible and “extreme narcissism” is just the tip of it. If you want to apply a DSM label that even comes close it would have to be “antisocial personality disorder”, although I’m not too much a fan of the idea of a personality disorder. I just think that some people are completely devoid of compassion, empathy, and a conscience. It really is sad.
I love that you used the term “gaslighting”! That explains it perfectly!
It also does seem that a lot of people who are highly educated are often perpetrators, and I attribute some of that to the fact that often perpetrators are in the healthcare field; they just gravitate to that. And you have to be highly educated to be an MD, or whatever.
I really hope you do find healing and it’s great that you are forgiving your brother. That has to be so hard. I’m often asked if I forgive my mother, and it is hard to answer. I mean she took her own life, and she looked so sad when I saw her dead, and of course I don’t want that for anyone. But, forgiveness… I’m not too sure.
Anyways, thanks for your comments!
Thanks, Mariel, the website is great, I think it talks about all the right things.
Indeed, some things might be impossible to forgive. I just heard recently, “when you can’t forgive some, at least pray for them.” At least that gets us in our hearts in a more loving way.
This blog and discussion has been profoundly healing for me. Thank you very, very much 🙂
I just have to butt in and comment on FORGIVENESS. To not forgive is to maintain, – and even nurture in a perverse way, – an attachment to the pain and hurt. Forgiveness can be very difficult, and it usually doesn’t happen all at once. I had to break it down into tiny baby steps – first was just being *willing* to forgive. My Father was very abusive to me when I was a little kid, mostly when he got drunk. It was decades later that I forgave him, to his face. That was a very powerful, healing and cleansing thing for me to do. It was a key part of my own recovery. And, yes, I had lots of help from many “spiritual” – but not really “religious” – books, and persons and groups. The “mental health system” is generally CLUELESS, largely because so many people go into the “mental healthcare field” to deal with and try to heal from their OWN pain and trauma. But, at least please make the decision to begin the process of forgiving. I learned that tears are washing the pain away….
Bradford, telling someone that they have to forgive abuse can add to that abuse, even if forgiveness works for you and you think it would help.
I find the concept of “forgiveness” more puzzling and less valid than most psychiatric diagnostic terms!
As I understand it, “forgiveness” is commonly considered to be a two-part act which involves something like…. 1. Choosing to let go of resentment that we have the right to feel, but that may bring harm upon ourselves if we allow ill feelings to fester, and 2. Choosing to extend compassion and pardon to those that have wronged us.
All of this sounds noble on the surface but is so often used to manipulate people into setting aside grievances, with the veiled threat that they will regret it later on, if they don’t let bygones be bygones.
I simply don’t see that “forgiveness” is necessary or sufficient for emotional healing to take place. It is quite possible, in my experience, to reach a place of peace within one’s own heart and mind that a certain event from the past shall no longer preoccupy or harm us, without the neex to extend a pardon to the person that offended us. It’s obviously not healthy to ruminate ourselves into an early grave, but there’s nothing wrong or unhealthy in my mind about taking an emphatic decision that some behaviours are beyond the pale, and standing firm in a conviction that we simply will not pardon these behaviours. Just… no. And I feel happy and empowered to say this!
I don’t think we can make someone forgive or tell someone to do so, that is a personal decision to be made, and I believe it’s an inevitable part of any healing process. That comes when we are inspired to do so, there are many stages and layers to healing.
To forgive is not to forget or to justify behavior, at least not to my mind, but it is, as said above, letting go of resentment (and, indeed, it can be very justifiable) for the sake of one’s own health. It is not about “ok, that’s all in the past, let’s continue this relationship,” but more so about calling for some sort of change. When we forgive and let go of ruminating dialogues which only lead us into physical constrictions and mental loops, we free ourselves from the trauma of past abuse. That takes inner work, focus, trust, and practice. It’s hard personal work, and imo, well worth it, if we want to heal.
It’s about cutting ALL ties with abusers–not just physical, but psychic ties. At some point, we can perceive our experiences as our life education rather than a path of victimization, but the true value of our experience will be lost if we simply allow anger to fester, in addition to sabotaging our own well-being.
As Bradford says, it’s a process, and it does not mean going back to abuse, it means *ascending* from it. When we hang onto resentment about something, we will inevitable draw that back into our experience, that is how we repeat relationship patterns.
When we forgive (let go of resentment and focus on something more productive, that makes us actually feel good and creative), then we free ourselves to change these patterns. It is for the well-being of the “forgiver,” as well as for the greater good, but only when that stage is reached, which is a personal choice and decision. Like anything, forgiveness (letting go of the past) cannot be forced unto another, that is impossible.
This is about stopping the cycle of abuse. Someone has to be the first to get a broader perspective and not repeat the cycle–with ourselves or with others. That would be (r)evolution.
One can cut ties without forgiving. You say that forgiveness is a personal choice that can’t be dictated, but then you say it’s inevitable part of any healing process. I say that telling someone that they have to forgive their abuser is itself abuse, regardless of the rationale.
If there is contrition on the part of the abuser and they make an effort to set things right, then I can see how forgiveness might be a healthy option. But if the abuser refuses to own what they have done and sees nothing wrong with it, then it can be self-destructive to forgive them. They should probably be made irrelevant, yes, but you cannot insist that they be must forgiven. That’s essentially forcing your religion/metaphysics/spirituality on others.
I’m not forcing anything on anyone, I’m simply talking about my own personal experience with how I handled similar situation as described in this blog–family betrayal, resentment, jealousies, all passed down generationally via abusive projections. I like for people to not suffer, but I have no say or stake in their personal decision-making and perception of their own experience. That goes without saying, but I felt the need to say that here, from your implication, because it is incorrect as far as my intention and actions go.
It’s not my business whether others forgive or not. If speaking my truth about my own experience constitutes “force” and “compounding abuse,” then we really have a problem here where dialogue and learning from each other because I have no control over the perception that speaking ones truth of their own experience is abusive to others. That’s a perfect double-bind, and speaks more of the person receiving the information than offering it, with complete neutrality and ownership.
In any event, if one can heal from relationship trauma without forgiving, more power to them. For me, it was impossible. But that’s just me.
Main thing for me about this is that when we hang onto resentment, then we have not cut ties, but are still enmeshed, somehow, with the abuse. As a result, we, ourselves, are giving it power over us, even if we are on the other side of the world. In turn, we will more than likely pass it on to others, or we will self-abuse, or both.
Generational abuse occurs when we do not forgive the past, but instead, hang onto it as a way to self-identify. That makes it easy to justify abuse toward self or others, and even be unaware that we are doing just that.
If we are neither victims, abusers, or enablers, then who are we?
Really, Alex? What happened to “indeed, some things might be impossible to forgive”? Now you are trying to say that abuse victims turn into abusers because they don’t forgive? That’s bullshit.
And it’s not claiming an identity as a victim for someone to acknowledge that they were on the receiving end of abuse vis-a-vis another person or persons. It’s just telling the truth, which is incidentally what abusers always HATE. What they love more than almost anything is your doctrine of mandatory forgiveness.
I don’t identify with anything you’re saying here, uprising. We are speaking past each other, as usual. I’m sorry you are so angry, but this is an exploration, there is nothing definitive being spoken here. We’re looking for forward movement, not backsliding into more and more conflict. That seems unavoidable with you.
I’ve said before that I’m not here to fight, but to dialogue and discuss for the sake of trying to help achieve clarity for all concerned, the greater good. It will never happen in an environment where it is all about grinding axes, getting revenge, and making false accusations toward OTHER SURVIVORS.
I was abused by family members and then again by the system. And I faced a lot of hard truths, and spoke them to my abusers, as well, in order to heal and get over it–with a lot of inner work, focus, and support from wise people. I spoke about my abuse to the world in a film I made. That was not easy at all and took a lot of trust on my part–a leap of faith–but it was healing. And I’ve helped others heal from abuse PTS in my practice. What you do or personally think about my experience and perspective is your business, not mine.
This website is rife with cyber-bullying. To me, you are coming across as abusive and totally invalidating of my experience, while attaching your own negative interpretation to what I’m saying, without regard or consideration, a total repeat of the system.
That is your negativity and rage, not mine. I don’t see how that is any kind of change from what we’ve experienced from the mental health field. Good luck with it all.
That’s interesting, Alex, because I’ve said nothing at all about your experience. I’ve only taken exception to you posting on this blog (which includes stories of serious abuse) with sermons about how victims of abuse need to forgive the people who hurt them. No they fucking don’t.
We’re looking for forward movement, not backsliding into more and more conflict.
@Uprising — “We”? Is Alex your therapist now? 🙂 You bully!
I agree, uprising, no one has to do anything. Everything is a choice. To forgive is one option, but not everyone chooses to take it. It’s a personal decision.
Does this article hit a little too close to home Sandra? Recognize yourself a little bit? Don’t you assign people labels for a living? Why are you in a space for psychiatric survivors and telling us what to call our abusers?
Amazing story. Thank you for sharing your extremely valuable insights from your very troubling experience. I believe your courageous story brings a great deal of clarity through hard truths. Very best wishes to you on your path of healing and helping others.
Thank you so much for your kind words!
You are strikingly articulate telling an important story; thank you for your community service.
Best wishes, Steve
Thank you Mariel for writing as you have, and for surviving, and for mustering all you have been through to help others. I feel sure you are and will be a strong force of both activism and healing. There is no much more to say but not tonight. Enough to say, I am grateful for you, your life ~ that you are so very alive, and speak with power and clarity. I am hoping our paths will cross. respectfully, Louisa
Thank you so much for those kind words! It means a lot to me; how someone who doesn’t even know me can be so kind. I really appreciate it and hope our paths will cross as well. : )
Thank you for sharing your painful story. You are very, very brave.
This article hits so close to home! Although I do not have anyone in my immediate family who is a psychiatrist, I do have several family members that have fallen for the “magic pill” theory hook line and sinker and nothing a person could say or do, and nothing adverse that may happen will change their minds.
To put it bluntly, psych meds destroyed my sister. She is a shell of the person I once knew and loved. She’s merely a breathing mental vegetable today. My heart breaks when I allow myself to remember what she used to be …… the wonderful mother, wife, daughter and sister. She was always spunky and strong willed but to me, she had it all. My God, I miss her!
My wonderful sister started through a challenging “change of life” period at the appropriate time of life around 49 years old. With that came all the flucuating hormonal changes that women face during that time of life. She was no different. She became a huge target of the medical industry though as many women do during this time. During one of her visits to her primary care doctor in the late 80’s, he decided that she would benefit from an antidepressant. I cannot remember which one because, as of today, she has been on them all. It didn’t take long for her to start having uncomfortable side affects from this drug. She made a second trip to her doctor who switched the drug to another, but her side affects were no better. In a 3rd visit, instead of her physician deciding that these drugs may not be right for her, he added to her medication with another, and in the months to come he added another and another. And so starts her journey into a drug induced hell on earth which has rendered her disabled today.
After about 8 years of switching these meds, adding to them, etc., she had had enough and decided to go off of them without the proper help to do so. It didn’t take long for the severe withdrawal to begin subsequently causing mania so severe, it would scare anyone to death. I knew then, this was no longer my sister. Freakishly enough, her doctor then proclaimed that she was bipolar, as if she had always been. It was total and complete hogwash. This opened up a whole new drug store of anti-psychotics that would add to her hellish journey.
My sister, my friend, a wonderful soul, ended up going off her meds a second time and landed herself in a psych ward from the withdrawal. The only caveat was, they did not admit that it was from the withdrawal, but insisted she was merely bipolar and completely mentally ill. Over the following decade, she was admitted 2 other times. Each admission was worst the one before it and with each submission there were more drugs.
Today, she is completely disabled. She sleeps 22 hours a day. Basically she is not living at all. If there is a hell, she is in it with no way out, none. She is one of 3 people I know that suffered greatly from these drugs. My heart is broken, broken but extremely angry. Angry at what they did to her, afraid of what the future holds for an entire nation of addicted “head med” users at the hands of our medical and psychiatric system. I’m just afraid!
I applaud the ones who were able to see though the drug lies …… the ones that were courageous enough to lift themselves out of the denial that there is a better way (because there is), and the ones that help people actually cure it, not cover it up with drugs, because it can be done.
I am so sorry to hear about your sister! It terrifies me that doctors hand out psychiatric medications like they are candy. It’s appalling because they are so dangerous and your sister is proof of that! My sister had a bad trip on the psych meds as well. My mom killed herself, and she got prescribed an antidepressant for being (reasonably) upset, and then she attempts suicide herself! Then goes manic, and bam! She’s bipolar! I think she has gotten a bit better now, although I don’t speak with her much. She is too much like my mother.
I work kind of on the outskirts of the healthcare system; I’m a case manager for individuals with disabilities and sometimes I have to administer medications. It really disturbs me because they are on so many psych drugs. It’s like because they are developmentally delayed, they need to be diagnosed with every mental disorder in existence. I really think we are a bunch of guinea pigs with this whole psychopharmacology thing!
Anyways, sorry to ramble, but I can certainly understand your frustration. Keep your head up!
Thank you for sharing your harrowing story. I’m so glad you made it through.
Ah-HAH! NOW I’ve got you, my little “uprising”….. I saw your comment to me, above, last Friday, but couldn’t get back online to reply, until today…. In the meantime, others seem to have commented/replied for me…. “Alex” did a pretty good job explaining about “forgiveness”.
I have to add, that I was NOT “telling” anybody – even Mariel – to forgive, merely offering some thoughts from my experience, in response to what Mariel had written. Mariel wrote about her struggles over “forgiveness” both in the story above, and in replies to others on here. *BUT*, in the last month, she didn’t reply to me, although she could have. So, I’m guessing you, “uprising”, misread & misconstrued my comments?….. A couple of other folks ALSO “got it wrong” on a minor point or 2, but I’m not gonna sweat the small stuff…. I’ve read a lot of your comments on here, so I feel like I “know” you – I certainly recognize you – and I usually agree with 99% of what you say here. As I said, “Alex” gives a pretty good explanation here, above, and I assume you read that. Let’s not quibble over details! But yes, I do know what you mean, about “forgiveness” sometimes being misused and manipulated into more “blame-the-victim”. But that’s not what I was talking about. Thanks again! ~B./
I applaud both this piece and your life. Typical ‘Identified Patient’ story; sane people surrounded by insane people and an insane system.
I can relate.
“Why was I voiceless? Why was I stuck in institutions that were supposed to help me but hurt me more? Why didn’t I have a say in my own treatment, and why don’t these institutions view a patient from a holistic perspective as opposed to mere symptoms”: Let’s change things. I’m a 30 yr old survivor myself beginning a MSW in Boston in the Fall.
I look forward into checking out the Proxy Project,, never heard of it.
First I would like to thank you for sharing your experience, I hadn’t read such a touching and eye-opening text for a long time.
Me and other survivors of psychiatry run a french webzine that critiques psychiatry ant its abuses, in an anti-oppression approach, it’s called Zinzin Zine, and we would like to know if we could participate spreading the world by translating your text in french and publishing it in our webzine (with all the credits clearly indicated), for our french readers?
I already participated in the translation of many important texts in english, including material from The Icarus Project, and I think it’s very important to spread those ideas worldwide!
Thank you so much for your kind words! Yes, you can translate my text and put it on your web zine. It would be an honor.
Mariel, your powerful and compelling writing, your generous gift of sharing your simply awful experiences are profoundly moving and important. When your words are related to our own experiences and/or observations of the institutionalised brutality that is marketed as a caring medical speciality, they combine to pierce the soul.
I doubt many mainstream psychiatrists will have their souls pierced however. To comprehend the enormity of extreme adversity and unrelenting cruelty pelted upon you for so long and so mercilessly requires “compassion empathy and a conscience”. As you observe later, some people are completely devoid of these characteristics.
It appears that medical graduates who are themselves devoid of these humanising qualities are not professionally disadvantaged. They are destined to rise to great professional heights in psychiatry.
Thank you for moving me so deeply. I have taken a week or so to respond as the power and utterly compelling nature of your narrative deserved the most careful contemplation.
Mariel: Sorry I missed this story recently….Only time now to skim, and scan a few comments….
As for “MBP” – try thinking “relationships”. Instead of a “he said/she said”, or “he did this,/she did that”, try thinking about it in terms of relationships, especially including “scapegoating”, and “black-sheep-ing”….
I hope to get back here soon, to read more, and comment better! I’m GLAD you’re HERE NOW! ~LOL
I’m so sorry and so shocked at what you’ve been through.
You write so beautifully and you seem to have come through this nightmare so amazingly well. I’d buy your book without hesitation and sincerely hope you will write more so that we can learn from you.
I am very confused by your posts. In my opinion, Uprising made some excellent points regarding your posts on abuse and then you claimed that you were only talking about your own experience.
However, using “we” language in my opinion is not doing that. If that is what you are truly doing, you might want to say, “it has been my experience” — and then at the end of the post, say that your milage will vary. Just a suggestion.
Finally, I am absolutely stunned that you would claim that Uprising was being abusive towards you when nothing was done of the kind. He/she simply was pointing out some legitimate issues regarding the subject of abuse which for some reason you took unfair exception to in my opinion.
Anyway, I agree with Uprising and anyone else who feels that forgiveness is not mandatory to heal from from horrific abuses and that forcing someone to forgive when they don’t want to is adding to that person’s trauma.
Thanks for your comment, AA. Enough is enough. This is my last word on the issue here–
I really appreciate that, AA. Thank you.
I came back to this article as a result of a search. I remember reading it at the time of publication but didn’t comment at that time.
After rereading it though I find myself pondering the use of labels and drugs, not as a means to assist someone in distressing circumstances, but as a method of stripping human and civil rights from another with a medical gloss.
It also made me glad that my mother was a sewing machinist and not a psychiatrist. Imagine being Prince Charles though? Queen Elizabeth could have had him beheaded for not doing his homework properly sooooo
Anywho, hope your doing well.
I am the son of a psychiatrist. My story is different, but the psychological (re)actions of your mother and mine are vastly similar. Yours is dead. Mine isn’t. I understood it was something like SMbP when I read my medical records, roughly 5 years ago. I now spend a huge amount of time, effort and money attempting to hide away from psychiatry.
What I find astonishing in my scenario, dunno about yours, is the almost sect-like identification of the caregiver with all the culture (as a whole) of psychiatry, with the added cherry-picking of psychoanalytical moral values or whatever cultural opinion may value their role as a caregiver. The lies in the medical records are always directed at upholding this status as the good caregivers, and also serve specific purposes concerning the child’s future, however misguided. It’s kind of a parody of wilful compliance for the sake only of compliance. On the child’s end, you do not even need to be non-compliant to be declared as non-compliant. You are already thought of as sick and non-compliant, the game is simply to make up a show around that.
What is so “funny” (no it’s not…) is that the medical record concerning my second forced commitment (where she appointed herself as my primary care physician, and my psychiatrist) essentially records my mother’s discourse on me. It goes to great length to describe me as a schizophrenic using a mix of symptom exaggeration and fabrication, as well as freudian self-description/self-deception. You can read the SMbP symptoms in there almost line by line. You simply have to drop the psychiatric or psychoanalytic frame of mind when reading the record, and they lie there. Openly.
Then you get to know the psychiatric literature in details to know where you stand in the whole darn picture.
That’s when you know you’re definitely screwed, and that you will have to go in hiding until she dies.
One of the most shocking experiences after all that is that, when I opened up and asked my insurance what to do about the whole mess, the written answer was: “SMbP is a pathology that should be treated in psychiatry”.
I can totally see your mom killing herself. she worked herself into a life of total brain damage, dystonia, parkinsonism, dyskinisia, secretive memory lapses, cognitive trouble, physical pain, emotional pain etc. she was slowed down by the medications and finally she decided to kill herself as a result of all the problems taking it’s toll to twist her will to do so.
amazingly somehow you as a child barely made it through yourself. I know many kids who have bad parents inflicted by drug damage and brainwashing, or who are just abusive and neglectful, who put their children on drugs to oppress and destroy their children. one of my close psych movement friends moms used drugs on her to sedate her, using the drugs to kill the child inside of her, and try to detach her from having a relationship or closeness with the mother. now as an adult while she has managed to get a job as a peer support specialist she has permanent scars and brain damage- she notes she has emotional immaturity from brain damage. sad I suppose.
the entire field of psychiatry really has no place in society. the profits in the trillions keep it around even when science says we should ban it entirely. social money supports and other treatment methods seem like a better way to go. people also need better education so they understand things that effect the brain and nervous system even commercial psychiatric medications hurt people irreversably, and Brain damage is brain damage. you can’t regain lost brain function or material. every person takes a hit from it. some manage to cope and move on with their brain damage, others don’t and have permanent life long disorders from it that never get acknowledges or diagnosed.
thinking about how destructive it was to my own life because similar happened to me, I was subjected to sexual assault and physical assaults by staff in a mental hospital, the staff who did it went on to have sex with other patients and marry them, even participate in escape plots, covered up my victimization and had drugs used on me as a weapon to erase my memories and incapacitate me. they even had access to classified military mind control technology and surveillance of the national security state and used radiation on my body and brain to hurt me during the cover up, acts my current doctors support happened but while I was in custody was covered up and hidden even though events were caught on security video and audio.
all the crime the joke psychiatrists have done over the years makes it clear the profession is dangerous and should be banned for human rights protection.
I have severe lasting brain damage and chronic traumatic encephalopathy now and severe dystonia. I will die young.. I am just 31 years old.. a few years of psychiatry madness did it all after I got age 19 and was abducted into the Oregon State Hospital.
Mariel, I love your story. You are a great writer. My friend Karin Witt and I want to talk to you about a project. Visit my website, you can contact me directly via http://www.etsy.com/shop/GlenisBatley
Mariem, I want to express my deep, deep gratitude for you for sharing your story, which is soaked with the same familiar emotions I went through. My story is different from yours and yet it is so similar. My mother is also a psychiatrist, and I have been searching the net for similar stories that happened to psychiatrist’s children and I found none (until now). And then I thought maybe I am a miracle survivor, because in these days if you have a psychiatrist diploma you can do anything with other human beings. A very corrupt system of institutions and colleagues will always defend you readily. There is huge money in the pharmaceutical industry, and I think one or the most profitable branch is psychiatric pills, because patients cannot stop taking them easily, these patients also are very vulnerable and will not question anything doctors or relatives say them to take, and they need pills on the long run generally.
So my story is different: my mother is narcissistic and so wanted to see me mentally sick and of course wanted to see all relatives, friends, everybody in the world to see me that as well, including me myself, and see her as a wonderful loving mother. She did not give us (family, close friends or anybody else living in our home at the moment) much medication, though we always had them at home while she was working as a drug agent popularizing psychiatric medicines, and encouraged us to try them if we wanted or take them if we want (without any control) like it was candy.
The trigger of your and my stories is same: I was the biggest burden for my mother among all my siblings. I was not behaving like she wanted me (although I tried very hard because otherwise she punished me emotionally), I just had different personality that she hated. When I became a little older, around 6 she started to see me as a rival because unlike her I had very good relationship with my father and her mother-in-law and also her own parents loved me (they never really loved or cared about her: their daughter). After some tragical but very common family happenings which my mother blamed on me (though I was also a victim like she was), my mother started to systematically destroy me: my realtionships and my mental health (and also physical health indirectly but it may not have been intentional: not cooking or taking care of our eating and not ensuring a quiet time and place to retreat to work or sleep, the rooms were all common). It meant alienating me from all my family members, all my friends, all relatives, everybody, convincing everybody that I was mentally ill, evil and not even a human being, only a crazy animal that they can hurt because I do not have feelings anyway. She lied, she exaggerated, she left out parts of stories, she manipulated others nonverbally with facial expression, with tones of her voice with gestures, at the same time seeming to be a great mother a great person a knowleadgable psychiatrist that many people turned to for personal advice about their own kids. All her colleague friends were convinced by her. The only exceptions were my fathers uneducated friends whom she did not like and used some of the same techniques against them. These people emphatized with me and saw what she was doing at least roughly saw that something was very wrong, but could not do anything against it, could not defend me. Of course: an undeducated person against a professional psychiatrist? No chance. I also believed everything my mother wanted me to believe about her and myself and other family members. I knew that I am not like that (same as you put it) but just believed her anyway, she used emotional manipulation, which really worked on me, because I am a Highly Sensitive Person or empath. I was a perfect object for her manipulations.
Anyway victims of narcissistic parents probably should be also categorized under Munchausen by proxy syndrome (if they are not yet), because if not physically/chemically but the parent want to see their child sick mentally and will not use pills but will use emotional/verbal/psychological manipulation to make the child mentally weak and sick. They try to project all their negative traits, negative emotions, negative part of their personality on the “chosen” scapegoat child, so they can get rid of those nasty things and not having to connect those with themselves or face their own weaknesses.
I think children of psychiatrists are one of the most endangered ones, because of solidarity of colleagues and of the professionalism of the parent to pretend they are normal. They know very well what to say to another psychiatrist to convince them that the child is sick and that they tried everything and are good parents (narcissistic people can find the proper voice with mostly anyone), and can very professionally manipulate the child themself. I think most of these children (even adult children) do not know what is happening to them, even if they feel something is terribly wrong and they are constantly suffering they think it is their own fault. It is so confusing, so difficult to get out of the constant control of that parent, mainly because the whole world, everybody around the scapegoat child is suggesting the same “reality” the narcissistic parent want to see. Almost impossible to get out. I am very lucky indeed that I found a well- functioning psychopath husband whom my mother could not manipulate so easily and who got me out of this soul asylum called family. Now I can see more clearly about my past, but of course most of the destruction to my personality is permanent. Maybe with a good therapist there would be hope, but until now I did not find such a person even among psychiatrist professors I went to (they could not even identify the situation)…Still I feel and see myself much more healthy than my psychiatrist mother, who cannot face her life, her own self, her past, her family situation,her problems and hurts and destroys everybody around her to keep up her pink reality bubble that does not exist.
I do think that in your case and in my case parents should be sentenced by law as they not only abused their profession and diploma but also their child and possibly so many other people. Psychiatric disease identification should work the other way around: if there is a psychological problem with a kid, the parents should be treated in almost every case, not the child…But of course, the parents are the ones who pay for the treatment and pills…It is almost like an untold agreement between the parents and psychiatrist about keeping the child on pills and taking them to regular treatments: it is financially good for the psychiatrist and the industry (psychiatrists get bonuses, gifts, travels, etc. for prescribing more and more medicines from pharmaceutical companies), good also for the resume of the profession, and also good for the parent as they get rid of or can finally control their child.
In case of extreme cases that effect the society as well: criminals, mentally ill people, drug users, suiciders, etc. the law should have the parents accountable as well, because these deeds all are evidences for very severe child torture and abuse.
People should unmotivate themselves to be parents if they are not convinced they will be good ones, and if they are already parents, they should prioritize this very task in their life above all other things. If they do not want to do that, it is OK, then they should ask for help and help should be provided to them. Generally it would be very important that a child has more than two people that they can trust, other permanent caregivers added to the parents. Parenting is a very exhausting task mentally and physically and 2 people are not enough for that generally.