The Struggle, and the Challenge: Young Adults in Crisis and the Use of Medication


I face the daily challenge at my urban center in Hartford, Connecticut of working with young adults (18-25) coming out of the juvenile system into adult outpatient care. Most of these youngsters come to us on multiple medications of all classes. Almost all have stories of trauma, abuse and neglect going back some generations. Almost all carry psychiatric labels of bipolar or schizoaffective or personality or behavioral disorders. Very few of them have ever been told of the long-term effects of the medications they have been prescribed.

I see them with their prospective clinician for intake, a complete “psychiatric evaluation,” which for me means “getting their story.” They come with volumes of records — which I don’t view before meeting with them. I want to meet them “where they are at,” and form my initial impressions from my initial contact with them. At least I will record in their record something I have rarely seen in all the records I subsequently review, i.e; their story — their narrative, as told by them, to me. They are the authors of their experience.

Most of the time I simply ask them, after some introductions, to tell me about “Lydell” or “Saphonia.” Most of the time, even with this broad open-ended question, they get into their story, which they then guide me through. Along this initial journey together we develop some rapport and get to know each other.

I work on a team with six clinicians, two MD’s and 30 case managers, with a budget coming directly from our state legislators which was increased after the Sandy Hook tragedy. Of course “the mentally ill are at the core of the shootings,” so a quick fix by the folks at the Capitol — as misguided as it is — provides more money for our services, and activities provided to the young adults.

Once the folks I work with “settle in” and become familiar with all that is offered here as well as in the community (Toivo is a holistic wellness center, high on my referral list). We have talks about medications. I first get from them their experiences on medications and their views of medications as part of their life, their “treatment,” etc., and how they want to proceed. Most have always struggled with being on medications and what being on medications means to them. Usually is means “I’m sick, have a long term brain disease, and need them for the future.”

Most are at least ambivalent about what they have been told. Others more feisty and rebellious, with greater zeal and spirit, want to come off medications. “Now that I’m 18 I can decide for myself right? I’m not a ward of the state right?” Or, “I’m no longer mandated because I’m a minor, right?” Yes to all these questions.

For those who want to work with me coming off medications, we set up a long-term plan of slow tapering. I warn against the ravages of “cold turkey” withdrawal, and warn how others will react to their sudden overwhelming (most of the time) expressions of affects that have become dysregulated.  I discuss with them how the medications might tranquilize their feelings. Most have already expressed to me — when they begin to trust me (since I’m an MD and will hospitalize them if they don’t take medications: they are scared shitless about the power given to MD’s, and rightly so) — how numb they feel at some of the doses they were on.

Then I talk them about the “bad news.”

What is the bad news? Most of these youngsters have been on medications since as early as ten years of age. Most of their behaviors were under medication control while they fought their way  through the DCF system of foster homes and residential placements. Most have had multiple dislocations, never staying long enough in one place to form secure safe attachments with a person who will just listen and be there for them.

(Such persons exist. They are precious folks, scattered throughout the system. One wish of mine is to gather them all up to be part of an alternative network. But I digress.)

So; most have never had the opportunity to feel their passionate feelings — to express them, process them, and cope with them. They have become dependent for affect regulation on medications, and the entire part of the brain designated for that function is undeveloped. So, then; how else do we learn to regulate our affects? You know; with that other affect regulation medicine. It’s called safe, secure, consistent, interpersonal relationships. That stuff we did with our kids. You know; all that pain and heartache, fear if not terror, not knowing how things are going to work out, staying with it no matter the provocations to give up… you know; all that easy stuff! Well how does that all play out in an urban mental health center?

Not well.

To come off medications is an arduous process requiring the people be ready to undergo some painful struggles with the youngster who is going to feel it the most.  The kid whose medications is reduced comes home and gets angry with his brother or mother. The first thing said to Johnny is “did you take your medications?” Now that Johnny can react to his surroundings — which at times might not be all that supportive — and expresses his disagreements, it is seen as part of his “mental illness.”

This is no different than at the mental health center. You would think not, but it is true. Although it is better now than 20 years ago, when I began doing this. Folks then were angry with me for not caring about my clients who were “getting worse since YOU lowered the medications.” The clients began expressing and actually communicating the feelings — perhaps leading to some of the initial overwhelming conflicts — that they had originally not been able to contain in their sensitive souls, and which had came out in disguised “psychotic” ways.

I try to work with staff to tell them what I tell the young adults; that most medications act as an “emotional blanket” (to take a positive approach) covering up intense feelings, thereby quieting them to some extent. This can be useful at the onset of an erupting emotional overwhelming crisis. Unfortunately, once the crisis passes and folks need to process what they went through, people are usually not available long enough and with enough fortitude to go through the next phase. Rather than intense listening and empathic immersion and presence over time;  people simply stay on the medications. ”SEE? THEY WORK AND YOU NEED THEM.”

Thus, the early development of the so-called “chronic patient.”

If we are to avoid the long-term consequences of these medications that we know lessen the likelihood of recovery; we must give every person so desiring to, the opportunity to follow a different path. As the blanket lifts with each dose reduction we have to expect “emotional storms” to brew as the youngster is exposed to the stress of life, to the conflicts never faced unprotected, as they experience “being in the world” with all their feelings, passions and spirit. We have to expect the youngster might be overwhelmed by the intensity of life “flooding in,” not having the necessary coping that was denied them in the years past. Now if they allow us — hopefully with trust secured — to “be with them” in this new crisis, a new opportunity for growth for all of us develops in the space between us.

This is the work. This is the struggle. Since it is all so uncertain as to outcome. We are in unchartered waters without a compass — only the “stars” to guide us, which actually is faith in a process of interpersonal healing. We are triggered by all the pain, tumult, and trauma coming forth, and have to care for ourselves and depend on each other. So our interpersonal relationships and support for each other is on the line too. Can we handle all of this?

It is all too much. I try the best I can with the team we have, but the institutional rigidities, constraints, fears of liability, and risk are major impediments. Additionally, the “love affair” for “evidence-based” approaches to treatment of so-called mental disturbances, the monolithic nature of the medical model, and the primacy of the pharmacological  approach only add to the roadblocks. Cushman and Gilford define evidence-based as “an abhorrence of ambiguity, complexity, uncertainty, perplexity, mystery, imperfection and individual variation in treatment” To that I add an abhorrence of improvisation. No wonder “evidence-based” is the way. Tolerating such affects is not part of anyone’s job description.

I actually went to HR 20 years ago requesting that we put in the job description of mental health workers just such abilities. They laughed… Lovingly, I decided.

As best I can, I inform those I’m privileged to be with about alternatives developing in our community. I encourage visits to the peer-run wellness center, hearing voices groups, as well as alternatives to suicide groups. I inform them about the Maastricht Interview for hearing voices if they are interested. I encourage the “fighters” to consider going to Recovery University — part of the wellness center — to become peer advocates and peer support folks. Hopefully within the next 18 months we will open Connecticut’s first peer respite, and begin developing peer-run Open Dialogue teams, too.

Alternatives to the current institutional or agency models are here and coming forward. I am very hopeful.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Kenneth,

    I really like this essay, and when I first saw it, thought it would make a good MIA entry. Here are my thoughts about it shared previously:

    I thought this excerpt was particularly insightful:

    “How do we learn to regulate our affects? You know with that affect regulator medicine. Never heard of it you say…it’s called safe, secure, consistent interpersonal relationships. That stuff we did with our kids, you know all that pain and heartache, worry, fear if not terror not knowing how things are going to work out, staying with it no matter the provocations to give up…you know all that easy stuff! Well how does that all play out in an urban mental health center? Not well.”

    The trap you describe is real: if the doses of drugs (yes they are drugs, not medications 🙂 …) are lowered, as you described, the young person may become more emotionally volatile; the family or case worker will often respond by saying “this is an expression of your mental illness” and pressure them to take more of the drug. A trusting relationship is not supported by this enactment, because the parent/case worker is not acting as a self-object being responsive to the young person’s genuine needs for affective containment / empathy / understanding. Rather, they are treating the person as an object or a disease needing to be drugged, and not listening to what is really going on with the person emotionally. The parent or case worker thereby reinforces the internal rejected self / rejected object images, over the needed vulnerable self / good object images, to use a little bit of Fairbairn’s object relations language.

    I remember reading a book called Treatment of the Severely Disturbed Adolescent by Donald Rinsley, who was a respected psychiatrist at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. He worked back in the 60s and 70s when people actually tried to engage troubled youngsters in therapeutic relationships instead of just drugging them. Rinsley wrote about “presymbiotic schizophrenia” and “symbiotic psychotic” (i.e. severely borderline) young people from a developmental viewpoint, understanding the young people he worked with according to the quality of their relationships with parents and peers historically and currently.

    Rinsley said that even when he could see a young person in intensive therapy 3 or 4 times a week, and involve the family, it was still very hard work, and it would often take 3-5 years of building a trusting relationship and working through difficult feelings to help a very disturbed young person to become more functional, and this in optimal conditions. And, this was when the culture of drugging everything, and the focus of ejecting people from secure hospital settings as quickly as possible, had not taken hold yet. So I imagine it is even harder for you to work with young people now…

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    • Thanks BPD for your comments. As we previously exchanged some thoughts; I agree about Rinsley’s work and others who worked in intensive psychotherapy with such young adults. Recovery or simply healing from extreme states is a unique process. Each individual seeks what fits them. For some such psychological therapies are useful not so for others. What seems essential is some means to be with another in safety with listening, trust , empathy and capacity to appreciate the others experience without judging, fixing, or advising. There are many roads towards healing. Hopefully we can provide as many paths possible to journey along.

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  2. Kenneth- thanks so much for this insightful post. From the perspective of working w/ traumatized young adults for the past 20 years – I couldn’t agree more.
    I particularly applaud your point; “the institutional rigidities, constraints, fears of liability, and risk are major impediments. Additionally, the “love affair” for “evidence-based” approaches to treatment of so-called mental disturbances, the monolithic nature of the medical model, and the primacy of the pharmacological approach only add to the roadblocks. Cushman and Gilford define evidence-based as “an abhorrence of ambiguity, complexity, uncertainty, perplexity, mystery, imperfection and individual variation in treatment” To that I add an abhorrence of improvisation. No wonder “evidence-based” is the way.”
    That nutshells it pretty well! Despite all of these roadblocks – I share your sense of hope. thanks again

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    • Thanks Wayne. Change is difficult. We get set in our ways. Being with another in crisis is hard. Not only listening and engaging with another but with ourselves. We are all vulnerable. Our sense of self, our identity, our beliefs are all challenged in these encounters. We are fearful moving into the unknown and the uncertain. All these basic emotions I believe contribute to the barriers. For me it is understandable we reach for “science” , the “experts” the “medications” to relieve the anxiety, fears if not terrors we are apt to encounter. The more we allow for all these feelings and openly share them we each other the more supportive, safe spaces we create.

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      • In Australia we go for the throat, the teargas, and the restraint mechanisms.

        It seems strange that when these types of ‘expose’ are done that the ‘experts’ seem to have no idea it is occurring, something any 9 year old Aboriginal child could have told them. I can only assume though that the lack of any discussion of the ‘medical histories’ of these children is not mentioned as it will be offered as a solution after a rigged investigation.

        Lets hope some safe spaces become available for these boys.

        Thanks for the article Dr Blatt

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        • Thanks boans for your comment and letting us see this horrible video. I cringed watching and could feel the youngsters pain and humiliation. Assaults and crimes like this unfortunately continue. We must be vigilant and continue to fight against such aggressive force used in any institution. Over the last 20 years in my state system the numbers of such tragic incidents are much reduced. Seclusion rooms and restraints are rarely used. Of course any aggression like this is absolutely uncalled for and people responsible should face consequences.

          Although not as dramatically depicted, the overuse of medications in our juvenile facilities remains a major problem. Creating safe and healing spaces within institutional settings requires leadership that is sorely lacking. But we must push on.

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          • Thank you Dr Blatt, I should have put a trigger warning with the video I guess. My apologies. This was part of a set of videos which came out of a particular facility and has resulted in all the stakeholders rushing to ‘have something done’.

            The idea of anyone facing consequences for such behaviour here borders on laughable. It simply does not happen for reasons which are easily identified. The authorities do what they call “formal investigations” which result in zero documentation, the distribution of fraudulent documents to anyone asking questions, the slandering of anyone who speaks out, and an admit nothing, deny everything and make counter allegations attitude by everyone from the Minister down. In this particular instance can anyone really believe that the Minister was informed about ‘problems’ but was not shown the videos because they disappeared and well …. we can’t find them anymore?

            And the young boys? Do they not get released from such institutions with the belief that force is a legitimate means of achieving ends? Maybe not, if torture actually works.

            What causes me the greatest concern is that the use of “medications” (or are they drugs?) will clearly be offered as a solution to these problems of the State abusing children in manners which are worse than the reasons the children were removed from their homes in the first place. And that as long as we keep finding ways of not looking, then it will not only continue, but expand as the culture develops.

            Is it that our only option is self imposed sanctions? Because our powerful stakeholders are simply not going to hold themselves to account. They seem too busy maintaining their expensive motorcycles, houses, boats, cars, and finding ways to turn blind eyes to thier complicity in these crimes.

            Push on? Or push back?


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          • Note that the officer in the video was not once, but twice acquitted of aggravated assault. So this sends a message to all and sundry that what is observed in the video has a green light, and if anyone should wish to engage in such conduct, go for it.

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          • A boy of about 14 is in a cell with a mattress on the floor. He had apparently threatened self harm, was agitated’ and playing with a pack of cards. It becomes apparent that staff are going to enter the cell so he stands against the back wall, arms down prepared for what is to come.

            A group of large men enter the cell, one grabs him by the throat and throws him onto the mattress, where he has his pants removed, and is left naked and crying on the floor.

            “accepted practice” apparently which makes me wonder why I find it so difficult to observe.

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          • Circa, the boy is in a correctional facility, and I have no doubt he is a handful. And yes, as a result of this video surfacing I am sure all this will be examined. Does he have a mental illness, how can he? It’s a metaphor, not a disease.

            One thing that does bother me about all this is the shock by those in positions of authority with a duty to these boys. The methods of covering these incidents up is at a point where through a system of negligence, fraud and slander the public who is paying for these rehabilitation services don’t get to see what they are paying for? From personal experience let me say that when the police evidence retrieval unit gets involved, one doesn’t wonder anymore.

            They will intimidate, threaten, silence witnesses, distribute fraudulent documents, and gaslight witnesses to suicide or other behaviours which result in harm to others. They simply deny you any human rights at all.

            And at times I wonder if I need a therapist and drugs so that I don’t care about these things anymore. Though my last therapist became afraid for his family when police requested he gather information about who had the documents I had provided to them demonstrating serious criminal offenses. They were sure they had already retrieved them before others went along with the fraud.

            The whole current affairs program about the matter has been posted on youtube under the title Australias shame. The sin seems to be in getting caught in a system fine tuned to conceal evil.

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          • Is he crazy? I’ve no idea.

            What am I going to do to help him? Given that any attempt to help those in this type of position involves being subjected to forced psychiatry at the hands of the State, nothing. I’m going to agree with them that this is accepted practice.

            Minister, Chief Psychiatrist and everyone below says it’s “reasonable” for citizens to be drugged without their knowledge and have a knife planted on them to make any actions by public officers lawful, then avenues for complaint tend to be shut off.

            The video is in many ways a metaphor for how the State is resolving their complaints about brutality, with more brutality so…..

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          • Understand the reasoning behind not looking at graphic videos.

            No I don’t live in Nth America, in Australia. And yes, I have personally placed proof of serious criminal offenses in front of police, and been referred to Merntal Health Services for “hallucinating”, and when this failed threatened with arrest for serious offenses which wouldn’t ever make it to court, but would sure be useful to slander my character. And the witnesses to these events? “It never happened”. Police literally just call mental health if you should have proof of crimes or corruption by public officers.

            Maintaining law and order lol.

            Think my question for you has been answered

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  3. Humanity and capitalism don’t mix, so good luck with that.

    Perhaps people such as yourself could start considering initiating a massive class action suit, with punitive damages requested, from the APA and pharmaceutical industry based on both the documentable destructive results of psych drugging and the deliberately fraudulent “science” used to justify this.

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    • Hi Oldhead
      You might know there have been many class action suits against a number of the largest pharm companies. Billions have been paid out but has not changed much. Also I believe the biggest companies are leaving the psych field to concentrate on individual genomics and cancer.
      It will take a while for the myths of biological causation of extreme states to wilt in our culture. What will speed up their demise? The alternatives coming forth spreading into society. It is happening, will continue and I’m hopeful.

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    • Oldhead, you can’t file a claim without a cause of action. Well, actually you can … but that’s another story. Tell me exactly what your beef is, please. Who needs to be sued? What did they do wrong? What do you hope to accomplish?

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  4. Great article! I’ve spent my life, first as a peer in the late 70s (before we were ‘peers) then 30 plus years working in our field and in recent years a Mom of teenage and young adult children who have had some bumps in the road. One of these ‘bumps’ was a 2 week period of psychosis, 2 years ago that we successfully got through at home using an Open Dialogue approach as a family. Mindfulness has also helped us, including me. There are better ways. You really get it and I so appreciate your perspective!

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    • Thanks Truth. I’m sure your lived experience guided your training to benefit those you served. You remind us all the “bumps” along our roads of life can be smoother using our authentic selves in healing spaces with others. So glad to hear you and family got through!

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  5. Thank you for reminding us that wisdom, empathy compassion and commitment to listen – (to those whose lives, health and future have been destroyed by the cult like adherence to the delusion of “safe and effective” -) still exists in your field of my profession.
    You must have been persecuted by your peers for being both correct and courageous.
    How many of those you care so deeply about never had any real “psychiatric illness”?
    How many were pilled, poisoned and their adverse experiences plus akathisia used to justify the labels for lifetime failure applied as misdiagnosed serious A.D.R.s?

    SSRIs —-> Akathisia ——> Biologic Psychiatrist = “Psychotic Depression” = Life Chances Devastated.

    ADHD drugging —–> Spiral of devastation to hopes dreams and aspirations.
    Of course there are survivors and your inspirational approach offers some hope of that.

    Better be “guided by the stars” than the Science Fiction evidence base of a cruel and destructive form of psychiatry which has become medicine’s Enron.

    The “experts” are utterly incompetent at differentiating life threatening ADR’s (with their bizarre psychologic and behavioural features) from serious mental illness.

    It is a professional disgrace.

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      • Thanks Stephen for your thoughts. I don’t have a telescope to scan the stars. Here a shout out to Kate Crawford across the pond. She does.

        For me in this work my compass is empathic listening, tolerance for uncomfortable affects, my feelings and faith. Faith in the power of interpersonal healing. Tolerance for not knowing at any particular moment what is going on. Tolerance for the confusion around encounters with passionate beliefs differing from my own. And tolerance for the mystery taking place between two people who are trying to be with each other authentically while also being vulnerable to each other. Not easy..right!
        But when an encounter leads to deep connection love comes forth. Is there a more powerful ingredient in interpersonal healing?

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        • Exactly.

          As a peer worker in a state “hospital” it’s almost impossible to do the work of a peer because there is no choice for the people held against their wills on the units. And yet, you go back onto the units each day with the tolerance you speak so eloquently about. Not knowing, confusion, mystery. Every once in a while the deep connection happens that you refer to and you begin to have the hope that this one person just may be the one to walk out the doors of said “hospital” and never come back.

          Peer work is based on choice and supporting the unique individual that you walk with on their journey seeking wellness and well-being. There is little to no choice in traditional institutions where the psychiatrists hold total sway and dominance over those in their power. It’s disempowering and disheartening, not only for the “patient” but for the peer too. But I keep going back onto the units.

          Thanks for sharing this.

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          • Haven’t read the article yet, sorry, but “peer support” means different things to different people. It might be an empathetic friend who struggles with a similar issue. It might be an Assertive Community Treatment Team member who has swallowed the Kool Aid and insists that you do, too. Here’s look you at, Corey, of the PACT team in Victoria, British Columbia!

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          • Thanks Stephen. You keep going back. For what ever reasons you do your persistence is a gift to those you engage with. Given all the inequities swirling around you the person you engage with has the opportunity to be with another (you) and experience your interest in them without judgment. We never know the impact we might be having simply by being available to another. A great sage once said “should you do one good deed for another on any given day it is like saving the entire world”. Those who engage with you are lucky.

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    • Thanks for comment TRM123.

      Never persecuted by others and never all correct and courage belongs to those dueling with their madness. I just had different beliefs held passionately in conflict with others. Our ways of approaching those in distress are for me life principles. Confronting another who holds a disparate belief is like engaging with another who has an unusual belief or in old language a “delusion”. Telling someone you are wrong in what you believe is to negate the others experience which mostly is just painful. To truly listen is to accept without condition the validity of the others experience. It’s hard. We then have to hold within us contrary notions about something very important to us.

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    • “The ‘experts’ are utterly incompetent at differentiating … ADRs … from serious mental illness.” So true. Glad to hear “alternatives to the institutional or agency model are here and coming forward.” Anything would be better than the “professional disgrace” that is today’s gas lighting, then poisoning psychiatric system.

      I had not seen the Maastricht interview before, it was interesting, and it would have been helpful to my psychiatrist had he given it to me when I was experiencing anticholinergic intoxication syndrome induced “voices” – at a minimum he would have garnered insight into the fact that my “voices” started AFTER I was drugged.

      It’s a shame the psychiatric industry is seemingly completely unaware of the fact the neuroleptics can create “psychosis,” via neuroleptic or poly pharmacy induced anticholinergic toxidrome. And the neuroleptics can also create the negative symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via neuroleptic induced deficit disorder. Given the reality these psychotomimetic illnesses already have medical names, and they are caused by the psychiatric drugs, one would think the psychiatrists would be aware of these adverse effects of their drugs.

      Information is power, and when an industry utilizes information to intentionally harm human beings for profit, truly this is a “professional disgrace.” I do hope change comes quickly.

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      • Thanks Someone Else for sharing your awful experiences. I’m sorry to hear your encounters with so called professionals were painful and harmful.

        I don’t believe in the concept of “mental illness. I believe people suffer in many different and unique ways. That such suffering got “medicalized” was an unfortunate turn in history. The medical approach became embedded in the zeitgeist and culture in a very powerful way. I believe when we are desperate, in pain without knowable ways of relief we are vulnerable to cling to those who provide answers with certainty. This is some of the origin of the placebo effect.

        For decades now folks are coming forward and saying “no more”. With new media we are all easily connected unlike anytime in history. Change is upon us. I wish I could reassure you such change will be quick; but you must know that is not so. It will be slow and feel ponderous and agonizing. None the less together with persistence (like Stephen) and hope change will prevail. I’m hopeful.

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  6. An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure… Maybe the majority of the energy should be spent stopping them from drugging kids just coming into the system.

    The biggest breakthrough for me was learning that psychiatry is scientific fraud, There are no lab tests, brain scans, X-rays or chemical imbalance tests that can verify any mental disorder is a physical condition. This is not to say that people do not get depressed, or that people can’t experience emotional or mental duress, but psychiatry has repackaged these emotions and behaviors as “disease” in order to sell drugs.

    You are not “broken”.

    “Now that I’m 18 I can decide for myself right? I’m not a ward of the state right?” Or, “I’m no longer mandated because I’m a minor, right?”

    That is so horrible, not even having the right to the contents of ones own bloodstream, no right to not have unwanted chemicals inside of your own body. It’s like a NAZI atrocity. If a nation wanted to use drugs to extract information from terrorists or to keep enemy combatants quiet in prisoner camps they would call it a war crime.

    Is it murder if you force someone to take drugs and they die at 60 yo instead of 80 ? Seems to me that if someone is forced to take lithium and then dies of kidney disease then all the people involved caused the death.

    If you fire a deadly shot at someone from a thousand feet with a gun your action results in there death in about 0.35 seconds depending on muzzle velocity. If you force someone to take drugs that results in there death maybe from complications of drug induced diabetes even 35 years later your action still killed them it just took longer. Dead is dead.

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    • Thanks Cat for your impassioned comment. Looking at ourselves is a hazardous undertaking. All that you mention has happened and continues. Even less horrors is too much horror. But we humans, all of us, are capable of horrors and evil. And that’s not all. We will maintain our belief that those who see evil are just misled and not understanding the “good” we are doing. This for me is part of the human condition and has played out throughout the centuries.

      We are not helpless in the face of what is evil. History has shown us that change occurs through the persistent efforts of committed and passionate people. I’m prone to say sometimes; when history looks back at the practice of psychiatry from 1970 to ? (I wish i could put an end date but not yet) people will say in utter confusion and disbelief “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!”

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      • When it comes to the fundamental failure of biological psychiatry: – It is their inability to differentiate the profoundly injurious effects of psycholeptic drugs from serious mental illness which is the cause of such catastrophic physical, psychological and social destruction to individuals, their families and loved ones.
        Might a commitment to critical self vigilance, a return to scientific credibility and the re-discovery of honesty and humility within psychiatry begin to contribute to a necessary conflict resolution?

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        • Nonsense. It is people’s insanity that causes them to suffer. Whatever means are available to help a crazy person should be employed. That may require sedation. Just stating the facts. Let me tell you a story about my own struggles with bipolar mania:

          Fernwood Inn/Victoria City Police
          Penny Farthing Pub
          Bon Sushi/Oak Bay Police
          Pandora Assertive Community Treatment Team
          Vancouver Island Crisis Line

          Contact any of these establishments and have them email me at [email protected] I will give them full permission to release their files to any journalist who cares to write about the issue. My vote is for Susan Inman of the Huffington Post or, better yet, of The Walrus (a Canadian magazine).

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  7. Thanks Cat for your comment.

    As many have said “we are all in this together”. The system is all of US. We are all guilty to some degree. When we are desperate we seek relief. We are in the midst of what I believe will be a paradigm change. Psychiatry has a history filled with false promises of relief from chaining people, to insulin coma, lobotomies, ECT, forced hospitalizations and drugging, to the current love affair of “evidence based models”. Psychiatry is embedded in a culture and has repeated the human story from tyranny to freedom all based on our fears of the unknown and the pressures “TO DO SOMETHING”.
    The peer movements around the globe are freedom movements. The freedom to “be mad” in our unique ways as a pathway to unlink ourselves from the traumas of our past and the chains strangling us. And as we offer alternatives and form our networks we will become subject to the same human corrupting influences ever-present to put us back in the chains. I must have faith our awareness of these tendencies might spare us such repetitions.

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    • I know, psychiatry is such an atrocity and I do try keep NAZI out of the comments but often fail. Been through it locked doors and “mouth checks” to make sure I swallowed the nerve toxins. If I had not gone to the ER with anxiety attacks and gotten kidnapped into that wrenched world of inpatient psych I never would have even known such an atrocity existed. When this is over I am going to speak out… and here I am. I survived alot.

      Like I sort of said above I think the most effective way to damage psychiatry as it is today is exposing the fraud of the medical model. It is a house of cards built on lies.

      Recently got into an argument with someone over the “low serotonin” myth. Did you get you serotonin level tested ? Have you ever been offered a serotonin level test ? Have you ever met anyone who has had their level tested ?

      Have you or anyone you know ever been offered any test using medical science to confirm the presence of a mental illness ?

      Why does it take 6 weeks for anti depressants to maybe work but if I have a glass of wine I feel it in 6 minutes every time ? It has to get into ” your system” he tells me. What system ? Where in this system does it get into ? If it gets into “the system” and builds up won’t it eventually build up to toxic levels ? Why can’t I just take 6 weeks worth all at once instead of waiting ?

      If I have a headache does it mean my brain has an Advil deficiency ?

      Why does the fine print on all psychiatric drugs say “mechanism of action is unknown” if scientists know how it works, why would they possibly write that on all the package inserts ?

      I have done this with so many people I have met in addiction recovery who believe all that broken brain crap, its not that easy, some people have called me a “conspiracy theorist” but no one has ever taken the $100 I offer if they can find me any information to prove what I am telling them is wrong. Go ahead prove me wrong, go to the library or use the internet, I bet you $100 you will fail.

      I do this not only to slam the industry I have a resentment against for hurting me and treating me like shit, I think people need to know they have been lied to, they are not “broken”and they can get better if they want or at least have a chance at it. I tell them go ahead and take all those pills if they make you feel better, nothing wrong with that, but don’t believe all those lies they tell you in rehab.

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  8. We, the survivors of the middle-class family, need to set up our own foster care group homes. The present set up is horrid because it is designed to be so, otherwise it would undermine the justifications for the middle-class family. Brilliant political leaders have come out of orphanages. To prevent this from happening, is why our foster care is horrid.

    Drugging of kids, just like scapegoating them by using psychotherapy, is child abuse. And as it is intentionally being directed against children, it is also Crimes Against Humanity. And it violates Mandatory Reporting, a felony.

    We must not be doing anything which gives kids more psychiatric medications, as that is like trying to use alcohol to cure someone who has been turned into an alcoholic.

    I agree with Oldhead and Cat. And people have to learn to feel their feelings and regulate themselves. You don’t get that with more prescription meds, more street drugs, or more alcohol.


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    • Psychiatry and Psychotherapy must be responded to with lawsuits. When the newspapers fill with stories of parents losing all their money and having it go into trust funds for their children, then the use of therapists to help them abuse their children will stop.

      And likewise when the papers are filled with stories of Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists being imprisoned because they are helping parents to abuse their children, then they will stop.

      So attorneys and strategic lawsuits, plus some legislative changes are the answer.

      “The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.”


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    • Thanks Nomadic for your comment. What you propose already exists in Sweden. Perhaps we can learn from the Swedes and develop “Healing Homes ” in US. Here is Daniel Mackler’s Introduction to his film of the same name. Just go to You Tube to view it.

      “Healing Homes, a feature-length documentary film directed by Daniel Mackler, chronicles the work of the Family Care Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden — a program which, in this era of multi-drug cocktails and psychiatric diagnoses-for-life, helps people recover from psychosis without medication.

      The organization, backed by over twenty years of experience, places people who have been failed by traditional psychiatry in host families — predominately farm families in the Swedish countryside — as a start for a whole new life journey.

      Host families are chosen not for any psychiatric expertise, rather, for their compassion, stability, and desire to give back. People live with these families for upwards of a year or two and become an integral part of a functioning family system. Staff members offer clients intensive psychotherapy and provide host families with intensive supervision.

      The Family Care Foundation eschews the use of diagnosis, works within a framework of striving to help people come safely off psychiatric medication, and provides their services, which operate within the context of Swedish socialized medicine, for free.

      Healing Homes weaves together interviews with clients, farm families, and staff members to create both a powerful vision of medication-free recovery and an eye-opening critique of the medical model of psychiatry.

      Bonus features: In addition to the 79-minute film, the DVD contains an in-depth interview with the director, Daniel Mackler.

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      • Kenneth, thank you for that information. I am interested in learning more about Healing Homes. And I think a great deal could be learned from the Social Democracies of Western Europe, and that that is the direction we need to be going.

        But about the idea of “Healing”, that sounds a great deal like Recovery and Therapy, putting the blame back on the victim, and so I oppose it.

        As far as Daniel Mackler, he says a great many very astute things, like, “Suicide is the Ultimate Victory for the Family System”.

        But beyond that, I strongly disagree with Daniel Mackler, because he opposes redress. He endorses the denial systems of Recovery, Therapy, and “Live and Let Live”. He supports tune outs, surrendering lived social reality to the abusers, instead of fighting them street by street and house by house and reclaiming the social legitimacy which has been usurped.

        Mackler wears holes in the knees of his pants, venerating the Holy Family. He has placed it on such a high pedestal that it is unreachable. “Oh if only I had grown up in a Good Family, have pity on me.”

        Mackler does not understand that what he is saying solves nothing. He tells people not to have children and then makes them wrong when they do. He talks about enlightenment and opposes this to dissociation. He seems not to understand that in both the East and the West, enlightenment was a concept invented by male celibates, in order to escape for the power of women. Enlightenment is dissociation.

        You will never get women to admit that there is something they need which they do not already have to be ready for maternity. You don’t accomplish anything by telling people not to have children or for making them wrong when they do. Mackler is a lost soul.

        What you can do is hold parents accountable, and in a civilized society this means taking them to court. Macker refuses to accept this. And this is why people become therapists, because they are committed to no redress, because then they don’t have to feel their own pain.

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      • While I totally respect what you are saying and trying to do, equally I see someone who cannot comprehend the reality of developmental trauma, and how that impacts on a developing brain, nor how disturbed attachment disorders can really be.

        Young children cannot process trauma the way an adult might. They are trying to work out how they can avoid the next rape, the next bashing or the like. Problem is doing that at a very young age, does not go well. Bruce Perry talks about these children’s brains being incubated in terror. The child as a teenager is walking across the school ground, someone shrugs their shoulders, some 10 feet away, the child runs over and bashes them, completely unprovoked. but for the child, not – they saw someone when they were 2 shrugging their shoulders before they raped or bashed them, now every time someone does it they step in to stop it first. They do not comprehend an evil person doing that. They do not comprehend it happening in one place. Nor do they comprehend that the shrugging of the shoulders probably had nothing to do with it. These kids have hyper vigilance to such an extreme level they are almost having a heart attach, given how high the blood pressure is, with the level of flight or fight response they constantly live in.

        I know families in the UK who have taken in the most profoundly attachment disordered 8 year old imaginable. For the first 3 years, someone had to be actively awake next to him 24/7. for the first 18 months there was no school capable of tolerating him. For a period of 12 months, they had to have paid staff in the house at all times to assist with containing him, when he became so out of control, no one could ever be alone with him. He was not medicated. They were working with therapists trained by Dan Huges in attachment disorders and Bruce Perrry in terms of acute trauma. There was a team around the child. Doesn’t mean it was as simple as loving him, or only short term, and he was 8. Try putting a teenager who is bigger and has more baggage and it is even more problematic. 4 years after placement, in a family trained to support his needs and therapeutic support, the mother is driving him in the car, she realises that she has forgotten to the take the meat out of the freezer for dinner, the next thing she knows the child has undone the seatbelt and is trying to get out of the car. She pulls over, no easy feat on a 6 lane freeway. He cowers saying do not hit me, do not hit me. Finally she says, why would I do that, response, the look you just gave it means you will hit me, that is what my mum used to do. 6 years after being removed from the birth family, 4 years in the most therapeutic family possible and his hypervigilance is still that high. They took him in as a long term foster placement, agreeing to keep him until he was 18, and longer, which occurred. Things improved, but he will always be one incredibly emotionally unstable person, who will always need people around him to care for him. They consider him part of their family, other children consider him as a brother, but love alone is and never was enough, nor was the most therapeutic environment imaginable. He improved out of sight from what he was, but not to the point that people believe is possible.

        Theraputic care in the child protection stems from when love is not enough. We used to have the belief that if we just got them into loving adoptive homes all would be fine. Reality is 99.99% of the population are not capable of caring for most of the most profoundly disturbed children in the system, even with extensive supports in place. Personally I question how anyone does it. These kids brains are incubated in terror they have never known anything else it is not the same as some veteran going to war, which you can understand. People cannot and do not understand their inability to love or form attachments, it is not simply about someone being there for them, even with that it still does not happen. These children can be stabilised and make significant gains in therapeutic environments, but most will have lifelong attachment disorders and always remain on edge. The mental health system, even when it acknowledges trauma is completely unprepared for the level of disturbance these kids show and face.

        I have read the books of the family care foundation and also own their DVD and while I think it is great, it is completely not going to work for someone as profoundly traumatised as most of those exiting the child protection system – and most of that trauma was caused by their original families of origin, not the system itself, although the system hardly helps it. Much of the problem stems from children being left in families in the guise of not over removing children and then by the time they are removed, they are a thousand times more disturbed than they should have been. It is a double edge sword.

        In terms of medications, something as simple as clonidine, a blood pressure medication, which is incredibly safe, can make a world of difference by reducing the fight or flight response inside of them, something antipsychotics and antidepressants do not do.

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        • Belinda,

          Thank you for your commentary and I acknowledge everything you say. But people do recover.

          I’ve heard plenty of dreadful experiences like you’ve related from people – that have recovered and gone on to live normal, fulfilling successful lives.

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        • Thanks Belinda your comprehensive and impassioned post.

          I agree with you there will be some despite all our “best” efforts who will not benefit from the second chances/opportunities for change and growth. This is a sad truth of life.

          For me I never know who that will be. I never know when starting with someone what the future will bring. I fall back on my basic beliefs. Until I know otherwise (which may take a very long time) I assume there is potential growth in everyone not to the same degree of course since this is unique to each individual. I try to settle in and provide as best I can given the circumstance and contexts in which I am working some optimal environment. This is extraordinarily variable depending on the setting and again even in the most optimal however defined there are some who might not benefit. So this includes a “loving, caring, compassionate, empathic, safe and secure setting even then it is “not enough”.

          So knowing this only makes it harder. Here is the uncertainty staring us in the face. The journey we begin we know will be fraught with the drama of life; the tragedies and the comedies. We don’t know exactly where we are heading, for how long and to what end. As long as the other allows me in their space and seeks to share with me their concerns I will try to be there without thought, memory or desire (Bion). To be a presence. Sometimes experienced as caring if not loving and sometimes cruel, hostile and murderous. Two human beings relating in the cauldron of mutual traumas.

          So you remind us with your vivid examples there is no love that is enough. A truth we must carry and yet put into the background somehow so we can even begin the journey.
          My hope is we develop as many “healing safe spaces” as we can so anyone seeking such will be able to come in from their cold.

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      • Circa, I assume you are speaking to me. Yes, I am a survivor of the middle-class family.

        But rather than just moaning about it, or tuning out via drugs or therapy, I am working online and on the ground to organize fellow survivors so that we can take back the social standing which has been usurped, and to protect the children of today from exploitation and abuse.

        We must not ever go along with the pity seeking approaches of Therapy, Recovery, and Religion.

        People see that life is hard, but far too often they are unwilling to see why it is so hard.


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  9. Yours is a truly unenviable position to be in. To know what the better option is but only be able to offer it on a limited basis, with the risk of making the situation worse by raising hope in these young adults and then having it eroded by financial and bureaucratic constraints. No matter that it is a false economy in the longer term (not to mention incredibly destructive to individuals) to manage the problems arising from trauma and abuse through drugging, hospitalisation and detention.

    I know from personal experience what it is like to come off long term psychiatric medication and have to deal with a long and horrible withdrawal followed by emotional dysregulation and then to have to deal, unmedicated, with the underlying traumas that led to the “mental illness”, while repeatedly facing criticism of my decision to discontinue drugs and pressure to recommence them because I am now perceived as a difficult, time-consuming and risky patient. From working with a good therapist I understand and appreciate the healing power of a safe and supportive relationship and of being heard, but it is a very slow process, and there are big risks of retraumatisation if this level of support is not available for as long as is needed – it has the potential to simply repeat a life-long pattern of loss and betrayal. I am a middle-aged professional with the necessary personal and financial resources to make this option work for me, and I still struggle immensely. I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for those who do not have these resources.

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    • Thanks Madcat for your comment. You must have courage to have pursued your journey and endured through all the travails. That struggle is ever-present is so but it seems you embrace it and have a perspective that promotes continued growth. I hope this is so.

      I appreciate your consideration though I don’t feel I am in an unenviable position. On the contrary I believe i can use my position to make a little contribution. That more favorable conditions don’t yet exist I have to bear this frustration and seek change as I do.

      i believe our task is to provide those we engage with a safe and secure space. Within this space to create a collaborative trusting relationship for whatever is to develop. Then it is my faith that what will come forth will be useful to the other in moving out of madness.

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      • “Where is the trauma in medical care?”

        Well often medical care is an integral component of middle-class child abuse. We used to call this Muchausen’s by Proxy. But now we just call it Medical Child Abuse. The parent is getting some payoff by finding fault with the child and making the child believe that there is something wrong with them.

        And then when you look at psychotherapy and psychiatry, the parent is using the pretext of completely nonexistent illnesses to have the doctor to break and suppress the child, rather like the ways that primitive societies use sharp stones and hot coals to convert children into what they see as adults.

        The main concept the middle-class family works on is the Self-Reliance Ethic, a Capitalism originated adaption of Original Sin.

        Now there are two main groups of professional child abusers, the first uses drugs, and the second is anti drug. Both groups hire themselves out to the parents. And today these two groups are in competition for market share. Some of this second group advertise by posting on MadInAmerica.

        But almost always, when these types of therapists and doctors are treating children, they are committing the felony of Violating Mandatory Reporting, they are committing the felony of Child Endangerment, and they are committing the felony of Psychological Child Abuse.

        Now sometimes adults will walk into the office of a psychiatrist or psychotherapist on their own. They don’t understand that the anxiety and helplessness they are feeling is the direct result of childhood exploitation and abuses. And the doctors are not going to help them find this out either. Drugs help nothing. And psychotherapy is designed to reinforce the feeling that the problems lie in your own head, rather than in the absolute reality of living in this world with a nullified social identity.


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  10. I’m compelled to respond. (Of course, that might give me a diagnosis.) Thank you for your heartfelt and honest sharing. I work in Juvenile Court where I wrestle with how to give information about drugs and diagnoses when it’s too often a fact of how life is managed. Giving this information is asking for people to step into the less charted water with those of us who are seeking and trying to create affordable, accessible alternatives that are not here yet. It’s why people keep trying to make sure I’m not anti-medication since there just don’t seem to be a lot of alternatives. I helped start a Holistic Mental Health Network in Cincinnati so we can have these conversations. We are looking to start a peer respite center and/or open dialogue team. I am writing this because it all seems like a dream unless we keep speaking these truths and sharing our visions.

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    • Thanks DJ for sharing your dreams. You know it is said that change begins with one person’s dreams.

      If you are in the position of providing information relating to drugs/medications full disclosure is the ethical thing to do. That means both sides. “Tranqilizers” of some sort in acute situations for a very brief time might play a useful role to even begin an engagement. The problems starts when the acute situation begins to resolve. What then?

      Please continue to dream. Share your dreams with like minded people. It all starts from there.

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  11. Dear Dr Blatt – this is a great story. I can only imagine what it’s like to be medicated since childhood.

    I found it was possible to have my cake and eat it. It was possible to drop down to a reasonable drug dose – and then deal with the ‘rebound’ (or underlying difficulties) before moving further.

    I tried cold turkey at the start – but it didn’t work for me.

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        I had 2 Suicide attempts (akathesia) and 4 years of neurological disability on ‘medications’.

        Maximum doses Largactil, Haloperidol +
        Fluphenazine decoanate depot injection + Lithium months (+ECT) 1980/1981.

        Then Fluphenazine Decoanate 25 mg depot per month on its own until October 1983.

        Then Cold Turkey withdrawal (with permission following my complaints regarding extrapyramidal side effects). Then 4 hospitalizations until April 1984 culminating with an injection of Depixol.

        Post 1984 just oral medication – and Recovery.

        By 1990 25 mg mellaril per day (suitable for very mild anxiety).

        In 2005, 25mg Seroquel per day – which became nothing.

        In 1986 after I had recovered – I broached the subject of medications, suicidal reactions, and drug induced disability with my Psychiatrist – he acknowledged all of these.

        But he went on the produce promotional research papers on their benifits:-

        He had a long association with the manufacturer….
        (€9.6 million)

        …and a high death rate.

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        • Sounds like an awful lot of meds. Holy shit! Don’t recognize some of the names. Are you in North America?

          Haven’t experienced that kind of withdrawal. Guess my body chemistry is just different from yours.

          Was your ECT voluntary? Or was it “voluntary”? Or was it forced? Those are actually 3 different things. Are you aware of Linda Andre’s wonderful book “Doctors of Deception”? I highly recommend it (although it will likely make you angry).

          Anyway, I’m so glad you made it through for yourself and also the world so that you can speak the truth. You’re a hero. I truly mean that. Best wishes,


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          • Thanks a lot Francesca.

            Largactil is the same as chlorpromazine which is much the same as mellaril.
            Fluphenazine Decoanate in the US is the same as Proxlin (I believe). Seroquel you might know and Haloperidol you might know as well.

            The ECT – I couldn’t tell you exactly whether I did or didn’t give permission.

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          • Very familiar with Seroquel. Last time I was in the bin, I was offered breakfast and I declined, saying offhandedly that I preferred to starve to death. Well, that’ll only get you more drugs, right? The stupid bitch gave me a Seroquel & Ativan combo to stave off my latent anorexia. (Sorry to be so flip but I have just had enough of this bullshit for a lifetime. I’m sure you have, too.) By the way, I weigh 130 pounds, not the least bit underweight.

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          • Hi Circa

            I was treated in Ireland but I moved back to the UK in 1986.

            As regards Doctors of Deception:- My ‘Psychiatrist’ registered in Ontario (57892) in 1986 but returned to Ireland after a year (and after he retired he took up a longterm position on the Irish Medical Council).

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    • Thanks Fiachra for your comment. I’m glad to hear a drug taper for you has been helpful. “Cold turkey” for most on these drugs/medications for a length of time ( 1+ years) is ill advised given the risk of withdrawal psychosis. Sounds like you learned from a difficult experience about that. And you had the support necessary to drop down to a reasonable dose. I wish you well.

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      • Dear Dr Blatt,

        Thank you for acknowledging my difficult experience (and the benefits of support).

        I found listening to other people share in groups very helpful – as just
        listening freed me from my own baggage.

        I also experienced longterm ‘dysregulation’. I found ‘CBT’ techniques helpful for this.

        For me the drugs were the main obstacle to my recovery. The drugs did not make me ‘Safer’, and my Disability Expense ended when I cut the drugs to a ‘thereuptic’ level.

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  12. Kenneth,
    I am a patient under the blanket of medication. Although I have dealt with some pretty terrible emotions….lifting the meds puts me in crisis and absolutely terrifying emotions. I become very unstable and even do self injury. I feel I am stuck for safety reasons….and for the fact that I may be stuck in a hospital and abused as usual. I also don’t know if I can tolerate the onslaught of emotions.

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    • Thanks for your comment medicatedme. I’m sorry to hear you feel stuck in your present situation.
      From the responses so far I’ve come to use a different metaphor for the “blanket”. Perhaps the burden for some on these medications is like a “lead apron”. You know that heavy blanket dentists drape over you covering your torso and neck (to cover the thyroid I’ve learned). This lead apron is to protect us from the radiation.

      So what would it be like if we are to wear this lead apron all the time in our life? We are slowed down; can’t walk or run as fast. We are preoccupied with the heaviness affecting our thinking and mood. Although we might be protected from the outside emotional radiation=the stress of life we also don’t get the advantage of the radiation. Remember radiation is used to shrink tumors so is not “all bad” depending on how it is used.

      Belinda pointed out earlier the complexities of things. sShe also noted medications(clonidine) can have value. I agree. I am not “never medications”. I am not anti-medications. Just like the lead apron the judicious use of a “barrier” might protect ourselves from harm or harming ourselves. And the lead apron judiciously used in the context of getting x-rays contributing to our dental health; it is removed when that context is longer present. We leave the office. This is the problem.

      With the onset of the DSM and overuse of medication CONTEXT is no longer in the forefront. The medications (antipsychotics and others) are tested for only 12 weeks and then approved. Whenever a new medication is advertised a warning is given like use of these medications for more than 12 weeks should be considered
      carefully (I’m paraphrasing). The context for the original use of all the antipsychotics was in acute situations where they are highly effective for tranquilization. The lead apron in the appropriate context. But unlike when we leave the dentist and the lead apron is removed; after the acute situation a person is expected to wear their “lead apron” for much longer with consequences.
      For some (hopefully many) the lead apron can become a light blanket. Given their experiences and current life situation some bear their light blanket quite well with little interference in their functioning. Depending on their situation they might at times do without a blanket, sunny and warm times and support abound.

      Each person must have the right, the freedom and opportunity to determine for themselves what they “wear” on any given day.

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  13. I am not able to have normal emotions on these meds.I worry I can’t clear my trauma completely if I am unable to feel . I do have emotion….but it is remarkable that I am unable to cry…..I used to cry non stop. They certainly put a stop to that. Without the meds I go into panic,excessive crying etc. I suppose a trail reduction is in order. I just hope my therapist can handle that. I hope I can handle that. Thank you for your response….I think the peer respite is a brilliant idea. I wish you luck. You are not disruptive, you are smart. It is about time a Dr. Thought differently about the system.

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  14. Hi medicatedme

    If your are pursuing reduction folks who have reduced advise us the adage is “slow with plenty of support”. The emphasis is on support meaning more than you and your therapist.
    BTW: Ironically here at the center I’m called a “disruptive innovator”. Go figure. Good luck.

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    • Hi Medicatedme,

      A great source of information and support regarding stopping psych meds is Don’t let the name fool you as there is excellent information on very slowly stopping other classes of meds besides antidepressants.

      Lots of luck in getting off of meds.

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    • Diagnostic Statistical Manual. The 5th edition. This is a compilation of diagnostic categories created by various committees of psychiatrists staking claim to their favorite “disorders”.
      I have never believed in psychiatric diagnosis. People suffer. They can be in emotional pain. They struggle to cope with their pain and function in life. Their pain is usually in the context of current stressful situations and for some who have had traumatic childhood experiences of all sorts these “ghosts” of the past came to roust and stir up and contribute to the despair of the present. It is all so HUMAN and so COMPLICATED.

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      • Kennth
        Yes , The popular diagnosis of personality disorder is given to people like me who are a mess of symptoms. I think this dx was given bc they threw up their hands and said we have no idea what’s going on but it is a mess. That dx followed me and got me medicated. I was medicated to not be a nuisance to the staff anymore, Rather then deal with the fact of my trauma and what was making me act out they did a quick tidy up and put me on a ton of Seroquel. That was easier for them,,,,,but left me with serious trauma reaction that no one seemed to care about. Which made me act out even more. At least I recognize this now. Sometimes I think the Drs just want to medicate you so you aren’t a problem anymore.

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        • Medicated me… I believe what is a mess is not a person but the situation they find themselves in. That our emotions are intense, heavy, all over the place happens. It becomes messy when others see as there goal to control your emotions without engaging with you enough to actually do so in a helpful way. Most of us with “inner fire” will resist attempts to control us. We are then seen as more of a “mess” and more control is called upon as fears rise of the “mess” becoming “a bigger mess”; you might not remember the sci-fi 1950’s movie “The Blob”.

          This scenario is repeated often in placements for youth 13-18. An extremely difficult task to work in any such place. That’s for a larger discussion.

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  15. Hi Kenneth

    Thank you for sharing this story, and for your work.

    I especially like your reference to the movie “The Blob” I often cite it . Younger folks may remember on of the four or five dismal remakes more than the magnificent original b-movie with 17-yr old Steve McQueen.

    Of course The Blob represented all kinds of menace , notably the cold war and living on the cusp of all that M.A.D. madness but also that then-new cultural phenomenon and menace to society – The Teenagers.

    Still afraid, today we call teenagers the “mentally ill” and visit all kinds of unspeakable horrors upon them.

    Yet, in the movie it is the teenagers who come to take the lead in figuring how to tackle The Blob and so save us from the menace. Meanwhile, on set, the fearsome blob was easily contained in a single galvanized steel bucket.

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  16. I was institutionalized at 14 and kept until so many days before my 18th birthday. After that, I would be admitted off and on until a judge ordered my mother out of my life. She had told me to leave her house, and I did. She reported me as a runaway, but I was so sheltered that I went to school the next day…I was sent to a runaway shelter, and upon hearing what medication I had been taking, I was moved to a psychiatric facility. I was smart enough to claim to be a drug addict even though I had never even seen a drug, and that kept me off the more unsettling wards for 90 days. I took the MAPPI, IQ tests. etc. No one ever talked to me. They accepted the original diagnose and shoved me to the next facility, and they got more and more dangerous as the years progressed. I caught a treatment doctor giving nonsense focuses in group… quotes from Alice in Wonderland, and I called him on it in group. Being smart in an institutional setting is not encouraged. They told me that now that I was “fixed” everything else in my life would be. I didn’t even know what year it was or how to balance a bank account. I didn’t even really figure out how to be with people…

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    • Hi Deena

      Thank you for sharing this with us. The “inner fire” you had then to fight for what you needed continues to simmer today. This strength and passion of yours and many amongst us will prevail through the current obstacles. Whether the “organized mental systems” will change enough in the future remains a wide open question. Some systems are trying to employ peers, have HV groups and are developing OD teams. But a system is still a system and by it’s very nature has barriers that might dilute if not co-opt the changes.
      A non-medically peer driven set of safe places for those in need is coming. There are no simple pathways through emotional crises. We can create spaces now for those who seek healing.

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