This two-part article comes in response to recent debates about the value of antipsychotic drugs for people labeled as “schizophrenic.” Contributions to the debate included Robert Whitaker’s white paper “The Case Against Antipsychotics” and Ronald Pies and Joseph Pierre’s blog “Quality of Life and the Case for Antipsychotics.”
As a psychiatric survivor who has personally experienced severe psychosis, my responses to these discussions are to emphasize the following points:
- Antipsychotics Are Tranquilizers: We need to be honest about what antipsychotic drugs really are. Most are major tranquilizers – drugs which have a generalized sedating effect and limit the ability to feel emotions strongly. They are not “medications” treating a specific “illness.”
- “Schizophrenia” is a Contested Concept: More clarity will be brought to the drug debate by acknowledging that “schizophrenia” – the supposed target of antipsychotic drugs – is an uncertain, contested concept. Contrary to popular belief, hallucinations, delusions, and inability to function have not been proven to represent a clearly-defined biologically- or genetically-caused illness.
- The Primarily Biological-Genetic Model of “Schizophrenia” is Unproven and Harmful: Research suggests that the predominantly biological model of psychosis taught to psychiatrists leads to pessimism and poorer outcomes. On the other hand, considerable evidence exists to support a predominantly psychosocial model of psychotic states as being expressed through, but not primarily caused by, biology and genes. Viewed in this way, it is apparent that antipsychotic tranquilizers cannot directly address the experiences of trauma, isolation and abuse that often underlie delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia.
- Effective Alternative Approaches Exist: Hope-inspiring and effective approaches for transforming the lives of severely psychotic people are already available, such as the Hearing Voices Network and the Open Dialogue Approach. With such alternatives becoming more widely researched and available, one must question the value of pouring billions of dollars into continued biological research on “schizophrenia” – research which has thus far yielded no measurable improvement in the lives of psychotic people.
My criticisms therefore focus on the relative lack of attention to what psychiatric drugs actually are, and on the uncertain, contested nature of the supposed target of these drugs: “schizophrenia.” I will elaborate on each of these points with references, as well as highlighting alternative approaches to helping psychotic people.
Finally, I will demonstrate the value of giving at least equal importance to the voices of those with lived experience of psychosis. I come to this debate from a perspective that is too rarely heard – that of someone who was once psychotic and took antipsychotic drugs.
From Psychotic To Well: My Story
As a background to my positions, let me briefly recount my own story in relation to “schizophrenia.”
I’m a 31-year-old formerly psychotic man. In my late teens and early 20s, following a childhood of severe physical and emotional abuse, I suffered through many psychotic experiences. These included hearing persecutory voices telling me to kill myself, holding paranoid beliefs about strangers wanting to harm me, feeling unremitting terror for months at a time, and being unable to function in school or work for about two years. During this period, I was quite literally on the edge, suffering through an almost minute-to-minute, second-to-second struggle full of rage, despair, confusion, voice-hearing and paranoia.
Not surprisingly I was psychiatrically hospitalized twice, with one hospitalization occurring after a failed suicide attempt. In the mental health system, I received all the severe psychiatric diagnoses including “schizophrenia.” I took multiple antipsychotic drugs including Seroquel and Zyprexa. Additionally, my father was psychiatrically hospitalized on multiple occasions, labeled “bipolar,” and given ECT and antipsychotic drugs.
The main causes of my psychotic experiences lay in my life story: physical abuse by my father, a lack of trust and security with my parents, the stress of many childhood moves to different countries, having been severely bullied in school, and the pressure of having to function independently as a young adult. The worst of the abuses I experienced included being thrown across rooms onto sharp table edges, having boiling hot drinks poured onto me, and being ridiculed for my skin color and appearance – enough to drive most people crazy! But the worst experience of all was being in a psychic black hole where I felt totally alone and could not trust anyone.
All of my traumas came together to cause terror and rage. These overwhelming emotions in turn led to the use of psychotic defenses to externalize them, including hearing attacking voices (personifications of rage), suspecting other people of harmful thoughts which originated within me, and so on.
Words cannot do justice to how difficult it is to be in terror of being annihilated for most of a several-year period, to have vicious voices ordering you to kill yourself, to have to survive alone in your own mind because you cannot trust others, and to then be told that you have an incurable brain disease and will never fully recover. The latter was the primary contribution of the American mental health system to my distress. This horrifying idea – that my distress represented an incurable brain disease with a poor prognosis – probably represented the biggest obstacle to my recovery, even more so than the other traumas.
Fast forward a decade: I am now quite functional, having worked a steady, professional job for most of the last several years, as well as being socially active. I no longer have significant levels of psychotic experience, no longer hear voices, no longer feel paranoid about strangers harming me. I am often calm now, and I feel quite alive and enjoy what I do. How did this happen?
Well, facing the long emotional war, I never gave up. Through my own research, I eventually found out that the incurable brain disease narrative was wrong. I became a fighter, promising myself that I would get well and do what I wanted to do. The process of working through my psychotic experiences and coming to trust others was extremely difficult, requiring great patience and perseverance, but I gradually accomplished it.
Starting in my early 20s, I derived great benefit from an intensive psychotherapy in which I explored the origin and meaning of my paranoid fears and persecutory voices. In this setting I was able to form a deeply trusting relationship with another person for the first time. As I overcame my fear of trusting and recounted my traumas, I gradually stopped experiencing voices, paranoid suspicions, and extremes of rage and terror.
I was fortunate to encounter a therapist who believed psychotic people could get well, and to have some financial support from my family. I made a couple of friends with whom I could share my story and who supported me no matter what. I found a field of work that I love. And today, having chosen to carefully taper off of them, I no longer take antipsychotic drugs.
While doing therapy, I did extensive research into different historical treatments of problems labeled “schizophrenic.” My research focused especially on those approaches that other psychotic people had used to fully recover, and of which most American mental health professionals remain unaware. I consider this research to have been crucial to my becoming able to function and have hope about recovery from experiences commonly labeled “schizophrenic.”
I learned the most from the writings of Harold Searles, Vamik Volkan, Bryce Boyer, and Silvano Arieti, four experts at helping psychotic people via psychotherapy, whose insights gave me hope. I credit their work with helping me become aware that the biological-disease narrative of “schizophrenia” was fatally flawed.
The Importance of Hearing from the Psychotic Person’s Perspective
With my history, I obviously have much experience with severe psychosis and with antipsychotic drugs, both from the perspective of a sufferer and a family member.
It’s important to note that experiencing psychosis in the first-person – and recovering from it – is a different type of “expertise” about psychosis than one gains from being in medical school, being a journalist, doing psychotherapy with psychotic individuals, or even being a family member. The same point applies to having actually taken antipsychotic drugs, rather than having only prescribed or written about them.
In Western society, we do not often hear from people who were psychotic and recovered. This sad fact is based on many factors, including shame, fear of judgment, fear of job loss, and the fact that our profoundly inadequate mental health system transforms the lives of relatively few individuals. Once the processes of what I call “patientification” (meaning adopting a sick role and believing one has a lifelong brain disease) and “zombification” (meaning taking too many antipsychotics for too long and losing touch with one’s emotions) get underway, it can become increasingly difficult to return to a fulfilling life.
Although rarely heard, the voices of formerly “schizophrenic” people can be particularly important in revealing what experiencing psychosis and taking antipsychotic drugs feels like from the inside. Additionally, one of the most potentially valuable experiences for mental health workers, including psychiatrists, is hearing from once-psychotic people about what helped them to get well.
Keeping this in mind, it concerns me that in the debate about the value of antipsychotic drugs, little has been heard from those who have suffered through psychosis and taken drugs themselves. That is an issue this blog will address, by providing the positions of one formerly psychotic individual regarding antipsychotic drugs and the “schizophrenia” diagnosis.
Further, I am writing this under my real name. In this way I am asserting that one does not have to be scared or ashamed of speaking publicly about having been severely psychotic. Given enough stress, especially severe stresses occurring in childhood and young adulthood, anyone can break down and lose their mind.
Finally, I am not speaking from the perspective of “being in remission from a schizophrenic illness.” I reject the disease model of “schizophrenia,” so I am speaking from my own experience of having been severely psychotic, but without accepting that I had a brain disease. If rejecting the brain disease narrative makes me have “anosognosia” – i.e. a biologically determined inability to agree with professionals’ beliefs about the nature of psychotic experience – then so be it. But if I have anosognosia, then I am one unusually sane and functional ansognosiac.
Contesting Whether Antipsychotic Drugs Are “Medications”
Let us return now to the recent debates between Whitaker and Pies about the value of antipsychotic drugs. My first problem with these dialogues are certain presumptions about the nature of “antipsychotic medications,” presumptions which I believe are based on unproven hypotheses and on circular logic related to the schizophrenia diagnosis.
First, it is important to note that most antipsychotic “medications” are essentially tranquilizers. As authors such as Grace Jackson, Joanna Moncrieff, and Robert Whitaker have documented, the primary effect of these drugs is to chemically numb the brain and limit the ability to feel emotions. They do not treat any specific biologically-caused illness process, nor fix any chemical imbalance underlying such a process. The repeated use of the term “medication” and “illness” in writings by Ronald Pies and other psychiatrists makes it appear as if a valid, discrete brain disease called “schizophrenia” (and supposed symptoms flowing from it) exists as the target of these drugs. But this is not a settled fact.
I would like to clarify here that what I contest is not the reality of psychotic people’s suffering – having gone through what I have, personally and with my family, there can hardly be any doubt about that. What I am contesting are assumptions underlying our use of terms like “medication” and “schizophrenic.”
Regarding the mechanisms by which antipsychotic drugs “work,” the specific action of the drugs on the brain is poorly understood, but what is known is that they mostly damp down the normal chemical functioning of the brain in a generalized way, primarily blocking dopamine receptors. As discussed by Lucy Johnstone, the effects reported by many psychotic individuals include a sense of profound emotional numbness among other serious side effects. From one vantage point, all the effects of the drugs could be viewed as “side effects” in that they interfere with normal reactions of the brain to the environment. Grace Jackson has written powerfully about the dangers of these drugs, the long-term use of which is implicated in lifestyle diseases which contribute to psychotic people dying 20-30 years younger than people not given these labels.
Contrary to popular belief, we do not know that these drugs act in any way similar to how insulin addresses diabetes or how penicillin targets an infection. And yet it is commonly believed that antipsychotic drugs target specific disease processes in the brains of psychotic people. The NIMH even states, on its public webpage about “schizophrenia”:
“Scientists think that an imbalance in the complex, interrelated chemical reactions of the brain involving the neurotransmitters (substances that brain cells use to communicate with each other) dopamine and glutamate, and possibly others, plays a role in schizophrenia.” (emphasis mine)
This vaguely worded statement implies that a disease caused by faulty brain chemistry underlies psychotic experience. But as has been made clear by the authors to be discussed below such as Richard Bentall and John Read, no such disease process has ever been discovered.
Thus, calling the antipsychotic drugs that tranquilize people “medications,” as psychiatrists like Ronald Pies do in their blogs, and as journalists like Robert Whitaker do in responding to them, reinforces a myth. “Medication” is a word commonly used to refer to a chemical compound treating a specific disease process. For example, the Oxford dictionary defines “medication” as “a drug or other form of medicine that is used to treat or prevent disease.” But if we are not sure that tranquilizing agents such as Seroquel and Zyprexa act upon biological disease processes, then perhaps we should not call them “medications.”
“Schizophrenia” is An Emperor with No Clothes
While the debate around the value of antipsychotics to treat “schizophrenia” continues, it should be couched in the admission that we do not know exactly what “schizophrenia” is, or if there is even one such entity. This is my second response to the debate – to observe that judging the value of antipsychotic drugs on such a moving target is unlikely to yield reliable, generalizable results. This is the case no matter how many different studies are done based on an invalid label.
Why is “schizophrenia” invalid? For an answer, we can begin by listening to the leaders of American psychiatry speaking about the validity of DSM diagnoses, of which “schizophrenia” is among the most prominent.
In 2013, discussing psychiatric diagnosis, the psychiatrist and former National Institute of Mental Health director Steven Hyman stated:
“The underlying science remains immature…The molecular and cellular underpinnings of psychiatric disorders remain unknown… psychiatric diagnoses seem arbitrary and lack objective tests; and there are no validated biomarkers with which to judge the success of clinical trials.” (emphasis mine)
Hyman went on to call the DSM model of diagnosis, which includes labels like “schizophrenia,” “Totally wrong… an absolute scientific nightmare.”
Hyman’s successor at NIMH, psychiatrist Thomas Insel, followed up this criticism by saying:
“At best, [the DSM is] a dictionary, creating a set of labels and defining each. The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.” (emphasis mine)
David Kupfer, the DSM 5 chair, while trying to defend the new DSM, admitted that the discovery of biomarkers for supposed illnesses like schizophrenia remains “(D)isappointingly distant… unable to serve us in the here and now.”
And former DSM-IV head Allen Frances went so far as saying, “There is no definition of a mental disorder. It’s bullshit… these concepts are virtually impossible to define precisely.”
To say the least, these admissions by the leading lights of American psychiatry do not inspire confidence in the validity and usefulness of labels such as “schizophrenia.” And while psychiatrists have promised that new brain research will uncover a biological or genetic basis for the elusive “schizophrenia,” no progress on this elusive goal has been forthcoming.
Given the fact that leaders of the psychiatric profession have spoken openly about the lack of validity behind labels such as “schizophrenia,” it is fascinating that psychiatrists continue to use the term as if it referred to a valid, reliable illness entity.
As an example, the actual uncertainty around “schizophrenia” runs counter to the way that Ronald Pies writes. In a recent article, Pies described “patients suffering the debilitating, chronic symptoms of schizophrenia.” This description is clearly a biological illness approach, one which assumes that people (labeled “patients”) “have” a disease (called “schizophrenia”), as well as medicalizing their experiences as “symptoms”. But if we are not sure that such a unitary condition exists, something that Pies appears to tentatively acknowledge in footnotes, then it would be better to write about people’s suffering in a less certain way.
Pies also appears to assume – mistakenly, in my view – that just because many psychotic people he has treated or heard about experience chronic distress, that this is the normal, lifelong, and “chronic” experience to be expected for most people given the schizophrenia label. Chronic psychosis is actually not the long-term outcome for a large proportion of people given the “schizophrenia” label, as shown in this article on the World Health Organization studies, a book on the WHO research and in several longitudinal studies by Bleuler, Ciompi, Harding, and others.
The lack of validity and reliability of “schizophrenia” might also explain why billions of research dollars poured into searching for the holy grail – a genetic or biological basis for “schizophrenia” – have yielded not one iota of functional or emotional improvement for psychotic people.
The Long History of Opposition to Schizophrenia’s Validity
Let us return to the core validity question, which is important when considering if psychiatric studies about antipsychotic drugs say anything reliable or generalizable about what best treats “schizophrenia.” A long line of critics, including Mary Boyle, Richard Bentall, Jeffrey Poland, Stuart Kirk, Richard Mancuso, Colin Ross, Gary Greenberg, John Read, and Thomas Szasz, have questioned the validity of the schizophrenia label through books and articles.
They have variously pointed out the following:
- “Schizophrenia” does not refer to a coherent disease entity which can be reliably identified from the behavior of individuals.
- People with no “symptoms” in common can be given the same “schizophrenia” diagnosis.
- The bias and subjective judgment of psychiatrists is central to the labeling process (marking the difference between a “schizophrenia” label and illness diagnoses in real fields of medicine).
- No biological or genetic test can confirm the supposed diagnosis.
- Labels such as “schizophrenia” provide little to no ability to predict outcomes.
Establishment psychiatrists have historically been unable to refute such assertions that the “schizophrenia” label is unreliable, arbitrary, and scientifically invalid. For the most part they have ignored these critics and doubled down on using “schizophrenia” as if it were a valid diagnosis. It is almost as if they believe that by simply asserting that schizophrenia is a valid, discrete illness over and over again in journals and textbooks, by starting each article with “schizophrenia is a chronic, severe brain disease,” that this magically makes it so.
As Richard Bentall said, the more relevant question may be “not whether to replace schizophrenia, but what to replace it with.”
The Rise of Alternative Definitions of “Schizophrenia” and Psychosis
Now, additional voices seeking to (re)define “schizophrenia” have entered the mix, including the Hearing Voices Network, the British Psychological Society, Mad In America authors, and psychiatrists such as Jim Van Os. Each group has proposed alternative non-medical conceptualizations of severe psychosis that do not presume a biological or genetic cause, nor necessarily presume that a singular illness called “schizophrenia” exists.
These novel approaches include the BPS’s Understanding Psychosis, which redefines psychosis as often representing an understandable reaction to stress or trauma; the HVN’s positions on how voice hearing may have personal meaning and not always requiring drugging; and Van Os’ “Schizophrenia Does Not Exist” website, which contends that psychosis is part of a continuum of serious distress fading into less severe problems of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
These alternatives represent a significant challenge to establishment psychiatry’s illness narrative of “schizophrenia.” With the broad reach of the internet promoting awareness of these alternative views, people experiencing psychosis and their families have new choices about how to understand their suffering. As the New York Times states, “An alternative form of mental healthcare is taking root that is very much anti-mainstream.”
It should be noted that these alternative groups acknowledge that psychotic experiences such as voice-hearing, paranoia, delusions, severe apathy and so on are real and expressed in brain chemistry. They are not saying that “mental illness doesn’t exist” in the sense of saying that severe psychotic experience is not real or extremely painful (the latter being a simplistic trope commonly trotted out by biological-model advocates to defend against critics). Rather, these alternative groups have their own competing models of severe psychoses – models which acknowledge the expression of distress via biology and genes, but do not necessarily view them as central causes of suffering.
Lastly, before moving on, I would like to highlight an innovative new model for the relationship of genes, environment, and psychotic experience put forward by Brian Koehler, a wonderful therapist of psychotic people at New York University. This model provides a much-expanded role for adverse experiences such as loneliness, stress, trauma, and abuse in modifying biology and genes which together lead to psychotic experience. Of this approach, Koehler says, “I have derived a theory which will make a much stronger case for socio-environmental influences in what was previously thought of in classically genetic terms.”
A More Evolved Model of Psychosis – The Psychosis Spectrum Syndrome
Although they rarely speak publicly about it, I believe that an increasing number of psychiatrists are becoming open to the idea that the suffering which has previously been labeled “schizophrenia” may be better conceptualized as a syndromal continuum of psychotic states with complex individualized causes, often including socio-environmental ones. For example, Dutch psychiatrist Jim Van Os recently published a paper entitled “Psychosis as a Trandiagnostic and Extended Phenotype in the General Population.”
Referring back to the Whitaker-Pies debate, I believe Pies is aware of the difficulty in defining psychosis, but he nevertheless writes about “schizophrenia” as if it were a monolithic medical disease which people “have,” while rarely if ever referring to the adverse experiential and relational factors in people’s lives which may have led them to become psychotic.
This leads to a third point – that the “schizophrenia” label tends to blind us to asking what has happened to psychotic people that may have caused them to become so distressed. To the degree that Pies does not acknowledge trauma and abuse as a major contributor to psychotic states, he is either not up to date on recent research into psychosis and adverse social experience, or he may have other reasons for clinging to an impersonal disease model of “schizophrenia.”
For the primary causal factors leading to psychotic experiences, we have to look at individuals in relation to their past experiences and significant relationships, particularly negative and traumatic ones. The contributions of these adverse social experiences to the distress of many psychotic people reminds us that antipsychotic tranquilizers cannot address the root causes of their suffering.
Trauma, Abuse, Stress, and Breakdowns in Trust as Causing “Schizophrenia”
While reading this section, I ask the reader to keep in mind the possible psychological effects of receiving tranquilizing drugs for people who have been seriously abused and traumatized. One can ponder the effect of presenting these drugs to clients as “medications” that supposedly treat a symptom-causing illness, rather than as tranquilizers numbing the ability to feel one’s rage and fear after a lifetime of adverse social experiences. Perhaps the awareness that this is a misleading presentation by professionals is one reason underlying the fact that up to 75% of psychotic people stop taking their tranquilizers within two years – an issue of “failed compliance” that pharmaceutical corporations apparently have a plan to stop.
In the model of severe psychosis I favor, adverse environmental experiences are frequently (although not always) involved in leading to psychotic breakdowns. In support of this position, a number of psychologists and psychiatrists, such as John Read, Colin Ross, and Richard Bentall, have done research showing a powerful link between being labeled “schizophrenic” and having experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
An article by Noel Hunter reviews this research and provides references to the literature:
“Read et al. concluded in 2005 that child abuse is a causal factor in “schizophrenia.” Read et al., after identifying similarities in the brains of traumatized children and adults who were diagnosed with schizophrenia, demonstrated the neurodevelopmental pathways through which childhood adversity may cause psychosis. In 2004, Janssen et al. established a strong dose-response relationship between childhood abuse and psychosis after following 4045 individuals from the general population for two years. Bentall et al. also found a dose-response relationship between childhood abuse and psychosis (meaning that the greater number of adverse experiences and/or the higher the severity, the greater the risk), wherein those who had a high-severity of childhood abuse were 48.4 times more likely to develop psychosis as an adult. When specificity and dose-response relationships are demonstrated, a causal relationship is strongly probable. In fact, Bentall et al. stated that “experiencing multiple childhood traumas appears to give approximately the same risk of developing psychosis as smoking does for developing lung cancer.” And, lastly, in the same month as the Sekar study was released (January 2016), so too was a nationwide cohort study out of Denmark and Sweden which found that experiencing the death of a first-degree relative before 18 years of age, especially from suicide or accident, resulted in a 39% increased risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia.”
The recent Adverse Childhood Experiences study, in which thousands of people were assessed to see how trauma, abuse, and neglect in childhood related to later severe psychiatric diagnoses in adulthood, further reinforced the connection.
This research does not mean that everyone who gets labeled “schizophrenic” has these adverse social experiences; these studies are based on averages. But they strongly suggest that most people who are labeled “schizophrenic” experience severe traumas, abuse, and/or neglect leading up to their psychoses.
For those who doubt this link, I recommend viewing one of John Read’s provocative Youtube presentations on the issue, including “Who Is Right About the Causes of Psychosis…Psychiatrists or their Patients?” and “Childhood Adversity and Psychosis, From Heresy to Certainty.”
The powerful association between trauma and “schizophrenia” calls into question the model of a schizophrenia arising primarily from within an individual due to a brain chemical imbalance or faulty genes. It may also help to explain why, according to a recent meta analysis of schizophrenia outcomes by Erika Jaaskelainen, antipsychotic drugs have not resulted in increased long-term recovery rates since the mid-20th century.
In my view, tranquilizing people with Seroquel, Zyprexa, Risperdal etc may help contain their distress in the short term, but does little or nothing to make them functional or connected to others in the long term. When one reflects upon the love and support one needs to recover from being poor, unloved, abused, and traumatized, one can better appreciate why being tranquilized alone may not help very much.
In this article, I’ve explored the uncertainty around the medicalized term “schizophrenia”, contested the use of the term “medications” for sedatives not known to address a specific illness, and begun to explore alternative psychosocial models of psychosis. Hopefully I’ve demonstrated that the language used in the Pies-Whitaker debate does not reflect the concepts or terminology for psychosis used or accepted by many helping professionals nor people with lived experience.
In the second article in this series, I will further explore the motivations underlying the usage of these loaded words. I’ll discuss the specific research debated by Pies and Whitaker, discussing when antipsychotic drugs might be valuable. And I’ll present an in-depth look at hopeful alternative approaches to helping psychotic people. These approaches are giving psychotic individuals and their families real choices, beyond the “medication for schizophrenia” approach, both in terms of how to conceptualize suffering and how best to alleviate it.
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Articles on Antipsychotics by Ronald Pies and Robert Whitaker
Pies, Ronald. (2016). “How Antipsychotic Medication May Save Lives.” Blog entry. Retrieved from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/schizophrenia/how-antipsychotic-medication-may-save-lives
Pies, Ronald. (2016). “Quality of Life and the Case for Antipsychotics.” Blog entry. Retrieved from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/schizophrenia/quality-life-and-case-antipsychotics
Whitaker, Robert. (2016).“The Case Against Antipsychotics.” Blog entry. Retrieved from https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/07/the-case-against-antipsychotics/
Whitaker, Robert. (2016). The Case Against Antipsychotics: A Review of Their Long-term Effects. White paper. Retrieved from http://www.madinamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/The-Case-Against-Antipsychotics.pdf
Whitaker, Robert. (2016). “Timberrr! Psychiatry’s Evidence Base for Antipsychotics Comes Crashing to the Ground.” Blog entry. Retrieved from https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/12/timberrr-psychiatrys-evidence-base-for-antipsychotics-comes-crashing-to-the-ground/
Critical Explorations of Antipsychotic Drugs
Bentall, Richard. (2009). Doctoring the Mind: Is Our Current Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good? New York, NY: New York University Press.
Healy, David. (2009). Psychiatric Drugs Explained, 5th Ed. New York, NY: Elsevier.
Jackson, Grace. (2005). Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide for Informed Consent. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse.
Moncrieff, Joanna. (2013). The Bitterest Pills: The Troubling Story of Antipsychotic Drugs. New York, NY: Palgrave Mcmillan.
Whitaker, Robert. (2010). Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.
Analyses of the Potential Harms Done by Biogenetic Explanations for “Mental Illness”
Haslam, Nick. (2015). “Blame it on biology: How explanations of mental illness influence treatment.” In The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/blame-it-on-biology-how-explanations-of-mental-illness-influence-treatment-48578
Kemp J., Lickel J., Deacon B. “Effects of a chemical imbalance causal explanation of individuals’ perceptions of their depressive symptoms.” Behavior Research and Therapy 56 (2014) 47-52. Retrieved from http://www.uw-anxietylab.com/uploads/7/6/0/4/7604142/chemical_imbalance_test_brat.pdf
Read J., Haslem N., Sayce L, Davies E. (2006). “Prejudice and schizophrenia; a review of the “mental illness is an illness like any other” approach.” Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 2006: 114: 303-318. Retrieved from http://www.freedom-center.org/pdf/read_prejudice_schizophrenia_biol_stigma.pdf
Schultz, William. (2015). “More on Neuroessentialism: Theoretical and Clinical Considerations.” Retrived from http://www.madinamerica.com/2015/12/70079/
Unger, Ron. (2012). “It’s Not Just the Drugs: Misinformation Used to Push Drugs Can Make Mental Problems Worse.” Retrieved from http://recoveryfromschizophrenia.org/2012/07/its-not-just-the-drugs-misinformation-used-to-push-drugs-can-also-make-mental-problems-worse/
Books and Articles Contesting the Validity of Schizophrenia as a Medical Disease
Bentall, Richard.(2005). Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature. New York, NY: Penguin.
Boyle, Mary. (2002). Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Greenberg, Gary. (2014). The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry. New York, NY: Penguin.
Kirk, Stuart. (2013). Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Mancuso, Richard, and Theodore Sarbin. (1980). Schizophrenia: Medical Diagnosis or Moral Verdict? New York, NY: Pergamon Press.
Poland, Jeffrey. (2006). “How to Move Beyond the Concept of Schizophrenia.” Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/237140/How_to_Move_Beyond_the_Concept_of_Schizophrenia
Poland, Jeffrey. (2006). “Steps Toward a Schizophrenia-Free World.” Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/237140/How_to_Move_Beyond_the_Concept_of_Schizophrenia
Read, John and Jacqui Dillon, Eds. (2013). Models of Madness: Psychological, Social, and Biological Approaches to Psychosis (The International Society for Psychosocial and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series). New York, NY: Routledge.
Ross, Colin. (2004). Schizophrenia: Innovations in Diagnosis and Treatment. New York, NY: Haworth Press.
Szasz, Thomas. (2004). Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Psychodynamic Depth Approaches to Transforming Psychotic States
Arieti, Silvano. (1974). Interpretation of Schizophrenia, 2nd Ed. New York: Basic Books.
Boyer, Bryce. (1983). The Regressed Patient. New York, NY: Jason Aronson.
Searles, Harold. (1965). Collected Papers on Schizophrenia and Related Subjects. New York, NY: Chatto and Windus.
Steinman, Ira. (2009). Treating the “Untreatable”: Healing in the Realms of Madness. London, UK: Karnac.
Volkan, Vamik. (1995). The Infantile Psychotic Self and its Fates: Understanding and Treating Schizophrenics and Other Difficult Patients. New York, NY: Jason Aronson.
Alternative Models of Psychosis
Cole, Kermit. (2016). Love is Dialogical: The Open Dialogue UK International Conference and Training. Retrieved from https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/03/love-is-dialogical-the-open-dialogue-uk-international-conference-and-training/
Cooke, Anne Ed. (2015) Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believes things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality, and what can help. Retrieved from https://www.bps.org.uk/system/files/user-files/Division%20of%20Clinical%20Psychology/public/understanding_psychosis_-_final_19th_nov_2014.pdf
Hearing Voices Position Statement on DSM 5 and Psychiatric Diagnosis. (2016). Webpage. http://www.hearing-voices.org/about-us/position-statement-on-dsm-5/
Koehler, Brian. (2015). The Deeper Genome: New Research Findings in Genomics and Epigenomics. Retrieved from https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/12/the-deeper-genome-new-research-findings-in-genomics-and-epigenomics/
Van Os, Jim. (2016). Schizophrenia Does Not Exist. Website. https://www.schizofreniebestaatniet.nl/english/
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.
Matt Stevenson, thank you for your article.
The concept of mental illness, along with psychiatry, psychotherapy, recovery, and medications, are all simply ways of facilitating familial child abuse.
The best remedy for the effects of familial child abuse, is political and legal action. And in these areas right now we are horribly weak.
I look forward to the second part of your article.
easier to talk here, please join:
Thank you for your comment. I agree that “we”, if you mean people who are committed to moving our societal approach to severe emotional suffering toward more humane and helpful model, are weak in legal and political action.
We unfortunately do not have access to the huge amounts of money and (bought) political power that corporations pushing the disease model of “schizophrenia” and other serious problems have.
However, what we do have is the power of our own voices. That is why I decided to critique the existing approach to “schizophrenia” and recount my psychotic experience under my own name. This entails some level of risk given that I now work and know many people in my “normal” life outside the mental health system, who don’t know this part of my story but may now discover it. But I hope that as more people speak out directly about their dissatifaction with the existing psychiatric system, that it will create a snowball effect building more public awareness about alternatives as the inconsistencies, lack of effectiveness, and serious harms of the current mental sickcare system are exposed.
But as I have said in this article, it’s important to highglight that there is nothing shameful or “bad” about having gone through extreme states. In sharing our experience directly we can reduce stigma in a real sense (not false, “accepting one has a disease” sense), and hopefully open the minds of others to alternatives.
Another thing we have on our side is the Truth. I am printing a collection of articles and papers by APA “experts” in which they acknowledge the disease model was a lie or “metaphor.” I plan on showing this evidence to my family once I “come out” and have been drug free for a year. People accuse Bob Whittaker of being in it for the money. Ridiculous as that is, no one can accuse Dr. Pies, Dr. Frances or others of being in on some anti-psychiatry conspiracy. I will use their own words to condemn them.
While I know this is private, I’d love to see your list. I have a few collected in various places, but not all in the same place. This list could be valuable to me in my work (activism, helping people see the dangers of these drugs, and helping people get off of them).
While I’m reluctant to post my email on such a spam-ridden site (admin? Please stop the spammers?) I would really find this to be valuable.
w underscore o underscore w at optus dot net dot com dot au”
Aside from Dr. Pies’ noteworthy article on the “chemical imbalance metaphor” I don’t have a portfolio. I have 3 and a half years till I will be able to use it. Very sick with pneumonia now. Withdrawal from effexor–slow as I take it–really lowers my immunity. Little or nothing published on this; but I found it applied to heroin and other street drugs. So I decided it applied to effexor too.
Will contact you in a week or so with an email and a few links to psychiatry’s embarrassing secrets. The kind you find in scholarly journals and trade mags regular people don’t read. (Psychiatrists don’t encourage them to do so, making the writings as mystifying and technical sounding as possible.)
I agree with the article 110%. My boyfriend had severe childhood trauma and was diagnosed with many of the symptoms/diagnosis described here ranging from bipolar, PTSD, schizophrenia, paranoia, psychosis, OCD, etc etc. He ended up hanging himself last June at 46 years old after being prescribed Effexor. But he had been on a slew of anxiety pills, antidepressants, sleep aids, antibiotics, etc etc He was so desperate that he was carrying a rope in his backpack. He could not secure adequate housing because he could not trust anyone. His nervous system was basically fried I think. He complained of headaches, lack of sleep, various pain and troublesome thought patterns. He had enough of that… So sad. RIP my love
I am the parent of a nineteen-year-old who seems to be having trouble distinguishing between our “shared” reality and the reality in his mind. I do not want a diagnosis or labels or anti-psychotic medicines. The problem is that he is violent. He has tried to kill me, my husband, and one of my husband’s business partners. He constantly states that we are not his real parents. He throws and breaks glasses at least once a day. Our lives are at risk. What do we do? We can’t intern him as there are no decent programs apparently. We can’t give him medicines because the medicines do not “cure” his problem. We can’t see doctors because they want to prescribe medicines before even talking to him. His blood work shows NO abnormality whatsoever. I just wish that we could continue living with him as a family and not fear for our lives, his life, and the lives of those around us. Help, please, if you can.
P.S. I know that he lives in fear also of the things that he sees, hears, feels, and has done. He constantly appologizes and then does it again in a moment of anger. At times, he says that he hates and fears us. At other times, he is silent. He has tried to kill himself.
He still hopes to finish high school using an online home school. We have used traditional Chinese medicine, accupuncture, and now are giving him .5mg of Risperidone. He now has trouble sleeping, which before the medicine could be helped with herbs. The violence changed everything. We have seen five psychiatrists and two psychologists but tried to avoid the medicines until now. He refused to speak with all of them, except for the one psychologist he met today. Who knows?
The problem is that he is getting more violent. Soon, there will be pressure to give him stronger and stronger medicines. I do not want that to happen but I am caught between a rock and a hard place.
hi bennett – i don’t have the answers to yr question but just scrolling thro these comments it strikes me as disappointing to see yr question totally ignored. particularly taking into account the gravity of yr situation. perhaps it’s worth reposting it so that you actually get an answer? good luck with what yr going through. it sounds horrendous for all concerned.
Thanks for your reply. Much has changed for the better, thank G_d. We found an OpenDialogue therapist, a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, a BioEnergetics therapist, and a psychiatrist who believed more in the power of hard physical exercise and less in neuroleptic medicines. My son began using 2mg of Risperidone and in two months was able to taper off to .5mg and then nothing at all. All the while, he was running every day and taking Chinese herbs as anxiolytics, for increased memory and focus, and better sleep. Gradually, his stress lessened, thank G_d. He now uses only Chinese herbs and supplements such as no-flush Niacin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, zinc, magnesium, and melatonin. As parents, I believe that we are beginning to learn about the long-time stressors in our relationships that triggered our son’s crisis. Among other things, we learned that our son believed that he did not have a voice and felt trapped. We have a long way to go yet, but now we feel that our son has a chance, thank G_d.
You might want to look into possible food allergies. It is common that it can trigger this sort of impulsive behavior. There are also some supplements you might want to try, like GABA to calm his brain. Just saying…Maybe a naturopath or functional physician can help. Some tests might be required. You sound like a very caring parent and this is an essential part of the equation.
Matt, because the psychotherapist is not an expert in legal and political action, but instead always counsels inaction, they are also abusers. They are still turning the sufferer’s problems back on themselves.
Nomadic, I would not agree that this is a general rule, i.e. that therapists by nature turn sufferer’s problems back on themselves.
The therapist I worked productively worked certainly did not do this – rather, despite some challenges we had a very positive relationship, one that allowed me to eventually feel loved and esteemed as an individual in a way that was crucial for recovering from my extreme states.
So while I think it is certainly possible that the position of power/authority vested in the therapist can be abused, and that this is something to be cautious of, it is not inevitable. Therapeutic relationships are essentially human relationships, and so there a great variety and complexity between different therapeutic dyads, making generalizations about what therapists do difficult or meaningless, in my opinion.
Excellent article, Matt, thank you so much! I very much appreciate the fact you pointed out that so much of what is called “schizophrenia” today is related to child abuse denial, then tranquilization by the psychiatric industry.
I was diagnosed as “depression caused by self,” while telling a psychologist I was not depressed, although according to her medical records she had secretly gotten lies and gossip from some people who had abused my child, I was still in denial of the child abuse at that point. Then I was misdiagnosed (the common symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome are not) “bipolar.” That label stuck for a while. But when I was egregiously poisoned with the recommended “bipolar” drug cocktails, to the point I was suffering from all the central symptoms of anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning, these were misdiagnosed as “the classic symptoms of schizophrenia.”
But thankfully decent and disgusted nurses from our family PCP’s office finally handed over all my family’s medical records, with the medical evidence of the child abuse. And I was able to escape these evil child abuse denying and profiteering “mental health” practicers and mainstream doctors.
I absolutely agree, “When one reflects upon the love and support one needs to recover from being poor, unloved, abused, and[/or] traumatized, one can better appreciate why being tranquilized alone may not help very much.” Knowing the truth, and learning to accept that there are ungodly injustices in this world, is the better way to heal from trauma. Tranquilizing people to cover up child abuse is not beneficial whatsoever, it just turns doctors into criminals, since covering up child abuse is illegal for doctors, too.
I would like to share my research which shows that the “schizophrenia cure,” the neuroleptics / antipsychotics can create the “negative symptoms of schizophrenia,” via NIDS:
And the “schizophrenia cure” can create the “positive symptoms of schizophrenia,” via anticholinergic toxidrome, also known as anticholinergic intoxication syndrome, specially the central symptoms emulate the “positive symptoms of schizophrenia”:
The good news is that at least I protected my child from psychiatric torture, raised him with love and understanding, and he went from “remedial reading,” after the child abuse, to getting 100% on his state standardized tests in 8th grade, to valedictorian of his high school class.
Absolutely love and compassion heal trauma, tranquilizers do not.
Thank you for your comment – and well done on escaping the mistreatment you faced and making a better future for your child.
It is important to clarify that child abuse is one possible stressor that is involved in many, but certainly not all (not even close to all) cases of when people become psychotic.
Mainstream psychiatric criticisms have commonly distorted the dialogue by claiming, simplistically, that people such as myself believe that “schizophrenia is caused by child abuse”, thus creating a straw man that has little relation to how many critics of the psychiatric system actually think. In fact, not only is child abuse not implicated in many psychotic breakdowns, but there is not even one singular schizophrenia to be caused by childhood abuse, so the situation is more complicated than it is made to appear by such claims.
Absolutely, I agree, “schizophrenia” is not always caused by child abuse. I am one of the minority, since I think it is 82% of so called “psychotic” patients today were abused as a child, and I was not abused as a child. In my case my so called “classic symptoms of schizophrenia” were actually caused by iatrogenic anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning, according to the medical evidence.
The problem seems to be that many of the psychiatrists today have forgotten that combining the antidepressants and antipsychotics or putting a person on more than one antipsychotic is unwise, since this is already known to make a person “psychotic,” via anticholinergic intoxication syndrome. And doctors can’t tell the difference between “psychosis” caused by the psychiatric drugs, and “psychosis” caused by their scientifically invalid DSM disorders.
Thank you for your excellent piece of writing! I, too, was diagnosed with”schizophrenia” at age 19. I agree that the term has no meaning, and the massive doses of Thorazine and the combined insulin/Electroshock nearly killed me. I managed to survive 3 years in hospitals and have been fine for 50+ years due to the gentle kindness of a therapist whom I met towards the end of those terrible 3 years. You have expressed so many of my thoughts on the subject, and I hope more people will speak up here.
This comes with my best wishes and so much respect for you.
It is very nice to hear from someone else diagnosed who recovered and has a good story… one I hope to hear more of! I agree with you, the word “schizophrenia” has less and less meaning for me as time goes by.
I also agree so much with your point that “gentle kindness” is a crucial ingredient in helping recover from extreme psychotic states. Although it is important to note that when psychotic people are terrified, confused, enraged, and hopeless, it can be very difficult for them to trust others and internalize that gentle kindness, as the resistance to forming a positive relationship can be very strong.
Unfortunately, as we know too well, the establishment mental health system via its coercive, labeling, and risk-averse nature tends to make it even harder to reach the vulnerable core of a psychotic person. I am glad you found somebody that could reach you in that way.
Matt: I was diagnosed with Bipolar (Manic Depression) in 1989. Like Schizophrenia, bipolar has fungiiable boundaries. I suffer from kidney disease from years of Lithium abuse. I have a supportive wife who declined to follow the psychiatrist’s lead and have committed this summer, yet as a medical profession she has trouble processing the critique of biologically based human distress. When I experience a long-term course of sleep disruption, it does impact my decision making and tweak my personality. I think my grandiosity is part of who I am, rather than evidence of a
“chemical imbalance.” Since I am addicted to a low level of Zypreza and Klonapin, I have to see a new psychiatrist to write the prescriptions since the primary care physician declines to do so.
As you know from past exchanges we share a similar perspective when viewing a critical approach to Psychiatry and the current “mental health” system. I have great admiration for your passion and spirit of activism.
My experience over many years tells me that guarding a consistent and healthy sleep pattern is critical to everyone’s psychological stability, and especially for those who have encountered more extreme states and been labeled by the system in the past. I hope you find the ways to achieve this.
As to your comment that stated: “ Since I am addicted to a low level of Zypreza and Klonapin…”
I believe it may be more scientifically accurate, as well as helpful to your recovery efforts, to call this a ” physical dependency” rather than an “addiction.”
Most likely these drugs were taken directly as prescribed by a doctor with no intent to obtain a psychological and/or physical “high.” Your physical dependency and possible resulting iatrogenic damage occurred because of medical malpractice and the oppressive practices of Biological Psychiatry.
The current philosophy and medical model treating “addictions” is overall harmful, which makes terminology so important when seeking solutions to problems of physical dependency.
I hope you can find the support in your area from a knowledgeable and sympathetic doctor and/or nurse/therapist etc. If not, check out online “Point of Return.” I know someone who is currently receiving positive medical help with a prolonged taper from a cocktail of psychiatric drugs.
All the best, comradely, Richard
Thank you, Richard. I have been beating myself up lately for being a “drug addict.” I guess that isn’t fair to myself after all.
Sorry to hear about the difficulties you’ve been through but glad to hear your wife is supportive. Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience.
My father also took Lithium for many years and was damaged by it, I believe. And I took Klonopin, although managed to get off of it before becoming strongly dependent.
Thank you for writing this. For those of us who are in Mental Health, Inc. at the moment, its always good to know that there is life after psychiatry, no matter what most “experts” say.
Yes, it is important to keep hope that there is a better life outside of the system – and there is, more than it is possible to imagine and hope for when one is stuck in the system, as I remember.
I think this article below speaks particularly well to the importance of defining wellbeing outside the established psychiatric terminology; please check it out!
Nice article. Nice shades.
“I am writing this under my real name. In this way I am asserting that one does not have to be scared or ashamed of speaking publicly about having been severely psychotic.”
I suppose that’s a start. But it nonetheless demotes psychotic experience as something to be overcome, something that is located in the past, something which once was and is no more, and so is less shameful.
I think a lot of people are being sucked in at the peripheries, and they are often able to scramble out. They were only ever gatecrashing the party but by bad luck and cultural corruption found themselves sucked in.
Well done for dragging yourself away and back up the spout.
But the inner vortex of madness has no way out. It is who you are and where you will remain. It is you. Your person. It isn’t something shameful that happened in the past. It is your being. Past, present and future.
Now this notion that madness arises solely and only from trauma and abuse. There is not a single human being alive or having lived or not yet living that is not, has not, or will not be subjected to some form of trauma and abuse. Not one person.
So if we are going to say that madness arises from trauma and abuse then we must be honest and put all the cards on the table and admit also that sanity arises from trauma and abuse.
Then apply Occam’s razor and we are left with all adult humans come to be who they are as a result of trauma and abuse.
The problem we are left with is the riddle of the ages: why are some mad and some others not mad? And if everyone is emerging at some point from trauma and abuse, exactly what do we mean by recovery?
Thanks! I like those shades. Leonardo DiCaprio wore similar aviator-style shades in the movie The Aviator and since then I liked that kind.
I like your comments. You are right that psychotic experience, as you imply, may not necessarily be something to be overcome. I would say it is something to be overcome to the degree it is preventing you from doing things you want to do, such as being able to have satisfying relationships with other people, or earn an income or work etc. But, as seen in the Hearing Voices Movement, some people do not feel their voices or vision are “bad”, or want to get rid of them. Some of them experiences their voices as helpful. So good point. Actually, myself for a brief time I had one “good” voice, a helper… but most of them were bad and the overall experience was one I did not want.
I think there can be a way out of madness, or a way to change how you understand and relate to the experience. In many of the cases studies in the books I linked to in the article, e.g. Searles/Boyer/Volkan/Steinman etc, there are stories of how people changed their way of relating to others and to their own psychotic experiences and forged a very different, often much more satisfying way of being.
You are right, there are always stresses and traumas in life and none of us escapes them. But it is a matter of degree of trauma, as well as how much support around them and resilience the individual has. In many cases of psychosis, the traumas or environmental stresses in the person’s life has been overwhelming and this causes a breakdown.
But in the article it did say that traumatic events are not always the cause of breakdowns/psychotic experiences/inability to function. They are just often associated. There is no one single cause.
Lastly, I would say that ability to feel/function well, perceive reality relatively accurately, do what you want etc, i.e. what many people consider “sanity”, derives not from trauma mainly but from having enough supportive human relationships and security during childhood and early adulthood. This is my opinion based one experience mainly but also from reading authors like Mahler, Fairbairn, and others who studied children and what they need to become emotionally well adults.
Thanks for the replies. Much to consider. Sincere best wishes.
Re: “Psychotic experiences not necessarily something to overcome”: Personally I have found that if you’re able to block psychotic experiences in a frantic desire to appear “normal” you eventually end up in a very ugly place .
btw I look forward to your reasoning about when you think so-called antipsychotics are best used. They are unfit for human consumption. As the late Dr Lars Martensson asserted, they are “a crime against humanity.” I would think twice about giving them to a rabid dog. Strangely they are very popular amongst many people that take them regularly under the threat of one form of violence or other if they do not take them. These same people are in abundance these days, promoting them to others. It’s exactly the same as what zombies do on the telly and in the movies. Once bitten there is no looking back. And they have an insatiable hunger to share…
Hi again Rasselas,
I would not give antipsychotics to a rabid dog either 🙂
But I think for limited periods, with informed consent, including acknowledging that they are (for most forms of antipsychotic) a very strong tranquilizer that can have a lot of tradeoffs/severe side effects, that there could be a place to use them at least briefly.
However, it is interesting that many of the people advocating even the short-term use of these drugs have never tried them themselves.
I look forward to discussing this with you again.
OK this is getting weird. You cannot portray yourself as “anti-psychiatry” and recommend drug use.
And what a glowing recommendation it was.
Maybe “recommend” is the wrong word. I don’t remember the “rabid dog” comment, I was referring to this:
I’ll discuss the specific research debated by Pies and Whitaker, discussing when antipsychotic drugs might be valuable.
Sorry, but this sounds like shrink talk.
Hi Matt, you write;
“It is almost as if they believe that by simply asserting that schizophrenia is a valid, discrete illness over and over again in journals and textbooks, by starting each article with “schizophrenia is a chronic, severe brain disease,” that this magically makes it so.”
and Dr Goebbels writes;
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Look forward to reading part 2.
Thank you for your comment. Despite what a controversial comparison it is that you make, there are some loose parallels between the misrepresentation of the nature of emotional suffering promoted by our psychiatric institutions, on the one hand, and the many misrepresentations about reality made by authoritarian leaders and their government on the other.
You are right that many people have come to believe falsehoods such as “schizophrenia is a chronic brain disease”. But it’s time for that to change. I believe that hopeful alternatives for helping people, new and understandable models of human suffering, and stories of success are our best tools for changing hearts and minds.
Thank you Matt,
and I really should have made it clear i’m not in the US but Australia where the State has made available the use of police to ensure any and all dissent from the ‘medical model’ of distress is crushed.
Doctors have it within their power to drug people without their knowledge, and have people referred to MHS by planting a knife on them and police will not only take no action, but will assist in retrieving the evidence of any criminality. Sounds mad? Should have seen the response when they found out that they hadn’t managed to get the proof back.
There is just too much money involved for both State authorities and medical research and pharma to be exposing the lie. And it was when I started to realise the consequences of what occurs when the State is authorising crimes against citizens to conceal the crimes they are committing against citizens, that we no longer have ‘elected representatives’, and are therefore not really a National Socialist Democracy (well maybe in name only lol).
The Mental Health system here is being used by police to conceal corruption by public officers. The only success stories which come out of that are when the camps are liberated. And I hope someday they are.
We even have a Doctor here at present who is boasting publicly about killing a patient, and taunting police with the fact there is simply nothing they can do about it. I feel sure she will be silenced, as guild interests are at stake, and she is quite obviously in breach of ethical guidelines (ie keep her mouth shut)
One might wonder how this could be so. It all relies on the medical caste system which trumps our legal system. Doctors get to decide what “schizophrenia” is and is not, and then also get do decide what “medications” are (as opposed to drugs which can do significant harm and hasten the demise of the lower caste “patient”).
Once labelled “patient” all human and civil rights are now removed (patent rights are an option at the discretion of their treating doctor), and any complaint to police/authorities is dismissed on the grounds that the complainant is not human, and the doctor is charged with their ‘care’.
I found this out when I placed documents proving that I had been ‘spiked’ with benzos without my knowledge in front of police only to be told that they didn’t have a copy of the Criminal Code in this large station. Of course this is true, there are no crimes which can be committed against anyone with the legal status of “patient”, ask our Minister lol.
You are right about the money coming in to the system corrupting the official approach. The pharmaceutical companies do help their friends with repayments of one form or another. Part of this process would also have to be about keeping the underdogs compliant.
I think it is hard for people to believe that the narrative about a “schizophrenia” brain disease requiring drugs and (sometimes) coercion is as flawed, harmful and mistaken as it is. This is especially the case when such a narrative is supported, in seemingly democratic nations, by doctors, governmental institutions, hospitals, police, etc.
Coercive psychiatric practices comes to seem normal and acceptable when it becomes “business as usual” over many years and it integrated into the profit model of healthcare professionals and government institutions. In this way it grows organically, like a voracious weed that winds its tendrils around those who fall through the cracks… who do not have the normal/supportive enough family experience and resources to keep them out of the psychiatric system.
This sad state of affairs does not really speak to psychiatrists / mental health workers / police being evil or “bad” for the most part. Rather, it speaks to deep levels of corruption, ignorance, distortion, inequality, poverty, and greed, these factors operating at a systemic level to encourage the abuses and disease model distortions like “schizophrenia” that paper over and give a veneer of legitimacy to what is really going on.
Congratulations Matt, You certainly know your subject.
Thanks for stating clearly:-
That There is Available Non Medical, Full Recovery To “Schizophrenia” .
I would describe “crisis” as a type of breakdown or the manifestation of underlying problems coming to a head – and I think the crisis itself shouldn’t be rated as a big deal.
I stopped taking strong medication after a number of years and then suffered horrendous anxiety – but I also found a means (that I didn’t have before) of coping with this anxiety and have since remained well as a result, for generations.
I think your writing is brilliant, and I’m looking forward to the book!
Hi Fiachra, I agree that the crisis right before or leading to the psychotic breakdown is usually the result of a long process of many traumas / deficits / stresses / conflicts / isolated periods. The psychotic experiences such as paranoia, terror, delusions etc could be viewed as the outcome of failure to cope or get enough support to overcome earlier traumas/challenges. I see this model which gives significant weight to past adverse experiences as more meaningful and hopeful.
I have read many of your comments at MIA, like your viewpoints very much, and encourage you to write publicly about your recovery if you can do so safely, as many people would benefit from hearing your story.
Thanks a lot Matt.
The idea behind longterm drugging as treatment is that psychotherapy doesn’t work for the “Schizophrenics” – but evidence of genuine Recovery demonstrates this to be wrong. So if psychotherapy does work then obviously this is what the model should offer.
People often talk about not using drugs or how bad drugs are but they don’t really offer much by way of alternative as if everything just rights itself. I’m sure that this is not always true.
Thanks Fiachra, I am looking forward to discussing this topic more in my next article; as there is actually a lot of encouraging data out there showing that psychotic people can get better using alternative approaches.
A good test of whether a psychiatric term is offensive is whether it is used in the common lingo derisively. “Psychotic” passes the test, and such should be considered hate speech, nothing more.
Sounds like when you were at you worst you were suffering terribly. From a psychiatrists point of view they would say why not take a small dose of an antipsychotic? Answer: once you start it’s hard to stop.
Yes, the worst periods of terror / nonfunctionality were pretty terrible. I am going to write in the second part of this series how I am not totally against drugs and think they can be useful at least for limited periods. But of course, I do not agree that antipsychotic tranquilizing agents are “medications” needed indefinitely to treat an “illness.” Also, it’s important to repeat that antipsychotic drugs do nothing to address the experiential, relational and stress-related issues causing psychotic states: in my view these will resurface once the drugs are withdrawn, having remained dormant/suppressed while strong drugs are given.
Despite my childhood I “functioned” & I grew up to become a psychiatric nurse (useless to my patients). I colluded in the failure to address “experiential, relational & stress related issues” (I’m retired). I’m not sure these drugs are safe for short periods considering their potential for physiological addiction.
Matt, your commen ts that neuroleptics should be used as major tranquilizers is not one I totally agree with.
I agree that sedation can be very desirable in a state of crisis, but I believe that the neuroleptics, which cause destructive brain changes, are a damaging choice.
I am well aware that modern medicine has moved away from the original tranquilizers, the barbituates and now, the benzos, and not without cause. But the barbituates are less brain changing than the neuroleptics.
We need an alternative for sedation that does not destroy neurotransmitter pathways.
I am a firm believer in the “rest cure,” and sometimes sedation can be helpful (though again, not a one-size-fits-all cure). But the neuroleptics are not the best agents for inducing this effect.
While the debate around the value of antipsychotics to treat “schizophrenia” continues, it should be couched in the admission that we do not know exactly what “schizophrenia” is, or if there is even one such entity.
Glad to see the quotation marks. “Schizophrenia” is not something that needs to be “better understood”; “it” is not a thing at all, simply a scientific-sounding term some use to convince themselves that they understand what’s going on with other people.
Hi Oldhead, thanks for commenting. Yes, it’s a bit tiring to put quotations around every instance of the word “schizophrenia”, but I think it is necessary to point out the uncertainty and lack of scientific validity of the term “schizophrenia” in relation to well-established disease entities in real fields of medicine.
Beyond that the term implies a valid category of behavior (even if mislabeled) when in fact there is no real category. Bonnie Burstow has some good analysis of what she calls “decontextualized behavior”; you should check it out. The way I’ve taken to describing this is that the problem isn’t that “it” is misunderstood; in fact, there’s no “it” there.
I think it’s very important to realize that the whole field of psychology is an ART, not an inexact science like medicine. That’s why there’s no scientifically valid measure for ANY mental illness.
I guess it depends on your taste in art. On the other hand, psychology is not psychiatry, which claims to be MEDICINE…
Ha! If the shrinks set up a gallery for their funky “art” exhibits, I wouldn’t go near one of those nightmares if you paid me.
The only “art” that brands innocent people with damning labels to show everyone how depraved and incurably evil they are. Then they lock them up and poison them and do their best to break the human spirit. Sounds like the kind of art the Nazis would have endorsed.
Like Californian said, medicine is an “inexact science”.
If psychiatry has been labeled medicine, it’s a mislabeling.
Psychiatry falls under the broad umbrella of psychology.
They also use the term to show that the “schizophrenic” is stupid and dangerous. (Weird how they think we are criminal masterminds on one hand and stupidly childish on the other. How do they reconcile these conflicting stereotypes?) Furthermore, because the “schizophrenic” is “mentally ill” their thoughts and feelings are completely irrelevant.
If they claim the “medicines” make them feel worse instead of better and cause daily seizures, their friends and family members know that they’re lying/delusional. Cause Dr. Quackenbush says so! Who to believe? A respected psychiatrist or a “schizophrenic?” We all know the answer to that, unfortunately.
Incredibly cogent take down of Pies’ assertions. As someone with lived experiences as a voice hearer, who also happens to work, it heartens me to read and/or hear of brave survivors challenging the status quo in very meaningful ways. Thank you for speaking up against this system of benign mental torture.
Thank you for your support. As I’ve responded to others, I encourage you to speak out publicly to the degree that you safely can, in terms of sharing your experiences and your individual way of understanding voice-hearing. Your understanding would probably be quite different than mainstream psychiatry’s, and would encourage other laypeople that they can think for themselves and not uncritically accept the disease model, top-down, one size fits all, “schizophrenia”/other reductionistic labels way of understanding these experiences.
I am grateful for your encouragement and warm words. You, Naas, Julie, Corine and other truth tellers light candles in spaces devoid of any light.
This one of the very best blogs ever to appear on the MIA website. I do not make this statement lightly. The writing style is first rate and the the depth of research and the ability to combined such research with with firsthand experiences is outstanding. I look forward to your future writings here and believe you have a critically important leadership role to play in human rights struggle against all forms of psychiatric oppression.
This blog should put to rest, once and for all, the need by some writers here at MIA, who still feel it is essential to use the words “medications” or “schizophrenia” as way to sustain some form of credibility in scientific debates within the deconstructing critiques of the current “mental health” system.
Yes, these are mind altering psychiatric drugs NOT “medications.” And “schizophrenia” is a very harmful construct that remains one of THE most important constructs perpetuating the scientific underpinnings of Biological Psychiatry.
Matt, I hope you find the following quote from my very first blog at MIA in 2012 (titled, “Addiction, Biological Psychiatry, and the Disease Model”) consistent with your model explaining psychosis and other extreme psychological reactions to stress in the environment:
(Quote) “In opposition to the disease model we might find it helpful to conceptualize and understand both addiction and symptoms that get labeled as “mental illness,” more simply as useful coping mechanisms that over time “get stuck in the on position….Some people have also postulated that human beings are, at times, attracted to altered states of consciousness. This can be a way to avoid boredom through experimentation, or, perhaps more often, become a creative way to escape or rise above the resulting discomfort or trauma experienced in a threatening environment. In the beginning stages of drug use, these substances may provide a temporary pleasurable escape from a harsh reality and/or become a very successful short term coping mechanism that actually prevents more dangerous reactive behaviors (including suicide), or perhaps even helps prevent the person from going “crazy.”
“Similarly, extreme states of psychological distress can lead to altered states of consciousness that are mislabeled as a “mental illness” and a “disease,” but could instead be better looked at as a creative and necessary coping mechanism dealing with an experienced and/or perceived hostile and threatening environment. This coping mechanism, as with addiction, may also prevent more extreme reactive behaviors or provide an escape or temporary relief from intense physical or emotional pain.”
“Here is the rub. A problem often arises with both substance use leading to addiction and also with extreme states of psychological distress, when these behaviors and related thought patterns are sustained for extended periods of time, the formerly helpful coping mechanisms can gradually, or even suddenly, turn into their opposite and now become primarily self- destructive, self-defeating, and socially unacceptable.* This is especially true when the short term benefits of the behavior and resulting thought patterns start to shift and begin to cause far more immediate, as well as long term negative consequences for the individual and the people around them. Some people may now actually get stuck in this new state of being and be unable to find their way out by themselves. This is the point when we might say that these once helpful coping mechanisms have now seemingly become “stuck in the on position.” (* I am aware that socially unacceptable behavior can be both useful and necessary in changing the world for the better).”
Matt, again please keep writing, and I am sure I speak for many of us who hope to see you more active here at MIA.
Thanks this means a lot coming from you. I have read many of your articles and comments and am not surprised we agree on many things, as we think remarkably similarly about psychiatric diagnoses, drugs, and the mental health system.
In Vamik Volkan’s book, The Infantile Psychotic Self, he described how severe psychosis can be understood as a “best possible solution” – as maladaptive as psychotic coping mechanisms may seem – to a truly intolerable environmental/interpersonal situation. Specifically, in severe psychotic states, there is usually overwhelming terror, rage, despair, and the inability to trust others in depth, and this toxic brew of emotions fragments the psyche and results in the use of defenses such as fusion/splitting/projection. But yes, to relate it to the parallel you drew to how to conceptualize addiction, psychotic states can be understood meaningfully as coping mechanisms (or as outcomes of failure to cope in more adaptive ways with life challenges).
And yes, “schizophrenia” is the “sacred symbol” of psychiatry, as Thomas Szasz wrote, and is also in a way an Achilles heel of the field, given that so little actual research and evidence support the existence of any unitary disease entity named “schizophrenia.”
I agree also that there is no reason to have to pander to the mainstream by calling drugs “medications” and psychotic experiences “schizophrenia”. I thank you for bringing this to my attention in your earlier articles, as it was actually you specifically who got me to change my thinking about “medications” 🙂 No need to answer that, but I think you’ll understand what I’m saying.
I do intend to be back with future articles, and look forward to interfacing with you again and to hopefully reading more articles from you.
I liked your article, but after Richard’s particularly effusive response I guess I should read it again more carefully. Meanwhile,
I agree also that there is no reason to have to pander to the mainstream by calling drugs “medications” and psychotic experiences “schizophrenia”.
Can you explain (you are not alone in this) why you put quotation marks around “schizophrenic” but not “psychotic”?
Hi Oldhead, I think you and I have actually discussed this before 🙂 You will know what I mean, but keep it between us.
Anyway, you may know what I am going to say. Psychotic to my mind refers to a spectrum of experiences that are considered anomalous or not in touch with reality, at least as most people judge reality. But, I see that from your perspective this could be construed as a judgment or label of behavior/thinking that is not so different from “schizophrenia.” But to my mind, the word “psychotic” is less medical and does not denote a singular disease entity, and does not have covert implications of being caused by biological or genetic malfunction. So, it is a vaguer, more descriptive word less laden with negative or pessimistic implications.
I think people who experience severe/chronic states that get labeled psychotic, and which make them not able to have satisfying relationships or to function in society, are terrified/enraged/hopeless/very lonely a lot of the time. So, underneath what gets labeled psychotic states is often a whole lot of emotional pain and often a history of isolation/stress/neglect or abuse. But, it depends, this isn’t true of every individual.
In reality is is very difficult to describe many of these extreme experiences using words, because people’s experiences are so different and individual. So, the word “psychotic” is best used lightly, and not considered to be applicable necessarily to an individual.
You can 9f course share your understanding of these words again if you want, since I’m not sure I’m remembering it right.
“Psychotic” is used to imply a medical condition, I don’t see how anyone can argue otherwise.
It seems that the coping techniques to the problems of living that we see practiced by those around us don’t solve problems but are just activity used to remain distracted long enough to make it through another day without attracting unwanted attention from authorities because authorities torture people by any means whatsoever , back into accepted distracting and ever more monitored activity or inactivity so that days can pass without attracting more unwanted attention from authorities especially those attentions of the mental death profession. I guess pharma profits will continue to rise . For those that dare try to actually live a life I say good luck .
Thanks for your comment. I personally do not think things in society are this bad, or at least do not have to be, but it depends on one’s individual experience of course. There is a lot of corruption and it can be easy to see our society as Orwellian or Kafkaesque, but nevertheless, I would say many people are able to live fulfilling lives and resist these influences. There is some interesting research on this by Ed Diener, who researches what factors c0ntribute to or detract from wellbeing in different countries.
Matt: I love your article & can’t wait for part 2. I agree with Fred that coping techniques to the problems of living don’t solve problems but perhaps are activities to be distracted long enough to make it through another day without attracting unwanted attention from authorities. I believe that things are this bad.
Viiu, thank your for reading the article and for your thoughtful comments in several places. I look forward to hearing more from you.
And “schizophrenia” is a very harmful construct that remains one of THE most important constructs perpetuating the scientific underpinnings of Biological Psychiatry.
True; but equally true for any supposed category of supposed “mental illness” — which, terminologically speaking, is the Mother Of All Deceptions so far as psychiatry is concerned.
Some people have also postulated that human beings are, at times, attracted to altered states of consciousness. This can be a way to avoid boredom through experimentation, or, perhaps more often, become a creative way to escape or rise above the resulting discomfort or trauma experienced in a threatening environment.
Though you’re thinking in a slightly different direction, I am reminded of Timothy Leary, who considered the drive to alter one’s consciousness to be instinctual, along with hunger, libido, etc. Though he may have said “expand” rather than “alter,” as the psychoactive chemicals he primarily studied were not addictive or dependency forming.
“Schizophrenia” is the bread and butter of psychiatry – there is no food on the table without “Schizophrenia”.
Yes, I am glad that you have critiqued the existing model of “schizophrenia”, recounted your “psychotic” experiences, and I know that doing this with your real name has entailed taking on risk.
But do you really want people to express their dissatisfaction with the “psychiatric system”, or do you want like I do to abolish it and see doctors criminally prosecuted, and to start filing law suits? And as most of this does originate with middle-class child abuse, do you want as I do, to start suing parents, and to reform the inheritance laws?
And do you want to oppose the Murphy Bill, by making it clear that the psychiatric system is simply preying on the survivors of familial childhood abuses, and also by making it clear that its more draconian components will be completely unenforceable? Do you, as I do, support the idea of zero cooperation of any type with psychiatry, psychotherapy, or recovery?
You wrote, “Nomadic, I would not agree that this is a general rule, i.e. that therapists by nature turn sufferer’s problems back on themselves.”
Well, what else is it that they do?
Imagine if a rape victim walked into a police station to report the crime, and what she was told was about,
* healing and recovery
* not having to be angry anymore, and that her feelings can be changed
* about getting support with her recovery
This is what anti-rape activists have long referred to as Second Rape. It may not be that the other party, your therapist, does not believe you. It is simply that your therapist is committed to the premise that doing absolutely nothing is the morally superior course to take.
Now given that ours is a civilized country, there are strict limits on the sorts of actions which can be used in order to obtain redress. So redress is obtained in a court room, either civil, criminal, or both.
If your therapist believed that you were entitled to redress, they would have experience helping people obtain such. But in fact, they are only a therapist because they believe that you are not entitled to redress. They believe that the problem, and any solutions, lies between your own two ears. They believe that the only problem is simply that you have not yet learned to live with the abuses, and to conform to societal expectations.
No matter what they do with you, you will still be left with zero legitimated biography. And the reason for this is that you, following their counsel, have declined to take any actions whatsoever to even attempt to obtain redress.
Psychotherapy is a scam, it is another layer of abuse, and what they offer you is not care or concern, it is pity. And I say this because they don’t want you to stand up for yourself and regain a legitimated social identity. Rather, they are just waiting for you to give up, and accept the very limited social reality you have been left with. Your psychotherapist is a collaborator with child abusers.
Again, thank you for your article, and I look forward to the second part. Congratulations on the ways in which you educated yourself. Notice I make no mention of anything like Recovery or Therapy.
Attorney’s Needed! We should be suing institutions, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and parents. This, and not psychotherapy, is how WE the survivors, gain a legitimated social identity.
Please join, easier to talk:
Probably about 90% of your philosophy, if not your tactics, I can go along with (again with the caveat that the family is not the only institution which has been perverted by capitalism).
However, you engage in overgeneralization by projecting predetermined characteristics onto all counselors, psychoanalysts, etc. and implicitly denying the possibility of ever gaining insight or “life skills” as a result of such intimate one-on-one discussion. While one could make the claim that this is the exception which proves the rule, it is not impossible. (Though in a less toxic culture it might not be necessary either.)
Oldhead, are you replying to me?
Of course it is possible that someone could gain some insight from one on one sessions with a counselor. But is that the best way to learn? Hardly. And what has a counselor ever done to obtain vindication for a client? The idea that the client is in need of “healing” or “recovery” is a scam. It is just another layer of abuse. What survivors need is vindication, and the only way to get this is to fight back and win.
As far as The Family being the only institution corrupted by Capitalism, no I have never said such a thing. But I will say that the exploitation which the middle-class family was developed to inflict, is the reason people are so crippled, turned into neurotics on the couch, or in the psych ward bed, instead of out vanquishing foes.
Tactics, as far as my tactics I don’t have any because doing much of anything requires comrades. This means people who want to fight back and win, rather than asking for pity in the recovery group, the evangelical pews, or on the therapist’s couch.
And what has a counselor ever done to obtain vindication for a client? The idea that the client is in need of “healing” or “recovery” is a scam.
I don’t know what you mean by “vindication” in this sense, as for the other terms it’s a question of semantics. Certainly we’re not talking about diseases here. It’s just that saying “never” or “ever” is sure to yield a few exceptions.
As for the family being an agent of capitalism, while you didn’t say it is the only one, you generally make it your sole focus. Not that there’s anything wrong with “specializing,” just sayin’…tactically though, if the family is serving the system then focusing on lawsuits against family members for basically carrying out their “orders” is missing the target somewhat, wouldn’t you say?
I want people to know they can do their own research, access helpful resources outside of / possibly replacing (for their case) the use of psychiatric resources, and come to their own understanding of what is called “schizophrenia” and other “mental illnesses”, as well as make their own choices about how to deal with these experiences, which may or may not include using a psychiatrist’s help.
This approach is obviously threatening to the psychiatric approach, which is that anyone given some arbitrary label is in need of “treatment” including (usually) drugging.
No, I do not support the idea of no cooperation with psychiatrists/psychotherapy/recovery. I used to believe this (about psychiatrists), but there are some good understanding psychiatrists who can think critically and they are worth talking to. Also, there are many good psychotherapists who do not endorse the disease model and only use it when they have to for insurance. Many, many of these.
And as for recovery, it depends on how one understands that word. I do not really think recovery is the right word for getting better from whatever problem, because it implies simplistically that one was well or “normal”, then fell ill with some disease, and then needs medicalized “treatment” to get better. In other words “recovery” is a covert word of the disease/medical model. But sometimes when used generally, I think “recovery” is not such a bad word.
I would say that good psychotherapists can provide empathic understanding, respect, and love – of a kind – and that within the boundaries of the relationship this can be very helpful. Of course, this may not happen in many cases, but psychotherapeutic relationships are just human relationships and so they vary greatly and generalization are kind of meaningless.
But I am with you in being opposed in general to the disease model, and especially being opposed to the common psychiatric practice of imposing meaning/what people should do to “treat” their problems onto anybody in distress, rather than listening to them and respecting their viewpoint and desires.
Thank you for your eloquent work.
My son received his diagnosis six years ago. We all floundered, with many difficult consequences. As a result of his experiences, I have pursued many avenues to try and be supportive. One was to accept that he did not want to take antipsychotics. He experienced no relief. The medications you list were all administered during periods when he was “unstable” to “stabilize” him.
Currently, he lives with us. Upstairs. Isolated but stable. He has been uncommunicative with us for about a year. Occasionally, he will work on a computer or someone’s phone for them. But, for the most part, his communication with the outside world is through a computer. Seldom has he left the house, but he has a couple of times. Recently.
He is 4 years younger than you. Personally, I believe time is on his side. I could regret listening to so-called professionals, but there is no sense going backward. What we can offer is the comfort of a safe place to live, meals, and our unconditional love. I believe his abandonment of alcohol has helped his state immensely. It would really set him off. He would lose complete control. He has figured this out, I believe.
If trauma or abuse are the source of his negative experiences, I would love to figure out a way of bringing the right therapy into his world. ( I know that his reaction to illicit drugs was also disorienting.) The problem for the emotionally attached is that we are emotionally attached, which may be counter-productive to his recovery. To facilitate this connection is something that would help. I have not yet figured out how.
While we do not hear from him now, almost three ago, when he was living in another city. Alone. He wrote so eloquently about his experience. You got the realize a real sense of psychosis. It was so well done. Where he is today, I am unsure, without his sharing anything with us. When his mother did see him early one morning, She was shocked to see how “clear” he was, even though he used few words and did not want to interact.
I believe that he really needs us as his caregivers. He marginally takes care of himself( not sure he brushes his teeth, but he takes daily showers) and his environment. But, I believe we are on the right path and pray that we will have contact again.
As one parent to another, may I recommend an excellent online course Recovering our Families? http://familieshealingtogether.com/courses/recovering-our-families/ It is unique in that it’s aimed (mainly at parents) to help them learn effective communication skills when they are struggling with relatives in extreme states. Recently, author Pete Earley had this to say about his son’s recovery:
“For me, shifting from the role of being a parent to becoming my son’s partner was crucial.
I learned about active listening. I learned to show my son empathy and respect. By listening and showing empathy and respect, I hoped to develop trust and rapport. And with trust and rapport, I hoped to gain influence. This didn’t mean that I opposed involuntary commitment. But it became my last choice in emergencies, not my first. Active listening, empathy, respect, trust, and rapport — if I had tried to use those skills initially and at different intersections during Kevin’s breakdowns, I believe we could have avoided much of the trauma that both of us experienced. I believe we could have become partners in his recovery, rather than adversaries. I believe, I could have engaged him earlier in his treatment.”
Thank you for your kind and informative reply, Rossa.
Pete Early is great. Crazy was the first book I read on the subject of mental illness and our country’s so-called mental health care system. The article you reference adopts the LEAP approach that Xavier Amador writes about in his books. The key is forming a partnership, as describe. Xavier has a video on his site that shows a father and son coming to terms. That is one I would hope to achieve with my son.
I should disclose that I have been a NAMI Family Support Group facilitator for about a year. Been attending this group, weekly, for almost three. Have two friends in recovery, former NAMI Peer Group facilitators, who I visited weekly for about a year to try and understand their experience and make a connection. My oldest son was actually allowed to film them for a future documentary project we started. My youngest had helped us in filming and perform transcription before he withdrew to his present isolated state. He liked doing it and it was the kind of work he wanted to be do. Remote.
Where I connect with Matt is, I was never enamored with medication. Read many of his sites. (I slo like Peter and Ginger Breggin of Ithaca, NY.) However, I recognized that it worked for some when combined with therapy. It’s all about helping a person fulfill their lives. So, establishing the trust that you describe is critical. It’s critical to all human connection. Once we lose trust, it’s tough to get it back, unless both parties desire it.
I realize that I missed opportunities. While I don’t beat myself up about it, I know so much more about the condition than I did. I needed to have read Amador’s book and take NAMI’s Family to Family course years ago to be prepared, even though I would have eventually become skeptical of neuroleptics. The Finnish method of Open Dialogue makes the most sense on approach to crisis and recovery. They resort to medication last and in controlled doses.
Recently, I finished Jackie Goldstein’s book about Geel, Belgium and more. For two years I have also been looking into housing and community design solutions. I tend to look at stigma as more acceptance. It’s softer and implies more working together. I like the Fairweather Lodge model (circa 1963). Know the people well there. Been to 6 lodges. But also, I knew about cohousing before mental illness. So did my youngest son, who liked it. With my local NAMI families, five os us, we are looking into developing a cohousing community on the grounds surrounding the Eastern State Hospital, the first mental health hospital built in North America. Some MBA students at the College of William and Mary are supporting our team, which includes both family members and loved ones in the discussion.
All of this is a long response. Somehow family members and their loved ones, or peers who come together, have to find a way to work together, while recognizing the need for independence and privacy. I have concluded from reading much on the subject that government-based solutions are not the answer. My instinct is that families and communities are.
Thank you, again. And I wish you the best.
Thanks, Cory, and best wishes for you and your family. The reason I was never enamored with NAMI is because of its stand on medications and its ties to the pharmaceutical industry. But that doesn’t mean that the Organization doesn’t have its good points and many families say that they have benefited. What NAMI and other organizations haven’t fully appreciated is that recovery begins at home and in the close relationships that we foster. Too many people want the mental health system to “fix” their relatives. The mental health system is a blunt force instrument and not designed for to help individuals recover. I’m glad to see that more and more people like yourself and Pete Earley are expressing a more personal responsibility version of the recovery model.
You say the “families” have benefitted — what about the “designated mental patients” in those families? Are their testimonies as uniformly glowing when they get an opportunity to express themselves away from their family members?
Thanks so much for sharing your experience with your son. My parents were also very worried about me when I was going through difficult experiences like this some years ago, and would often isolate myself.
I think psychotherapy can be very, very helpful for psychotic states if the person wants it and if they are able to form a good empathic bond with the therapist – something which can take a long time, i.e. years in some cases.
You might be interested to check out the narrative accounts of such psychotherapy in two books, Treating the Untreatable by Ira Steinman and Weathering the Storms by Murray Jackson. You will see that such treatment is much more in depth than the “CBT for psychosis” 6 or 12 week courses of therapy that are often discussed as the psychotherapeutic treatment of choice for “schizophrenia” today. They involve being with the person for long periods, tolerating uncertainty, containing negative feelings of terror/confusion/rage, gradually understanding through the relationship what are the reason why the person is so isolated and untrusting and withdrawn, and developing trust so that the broken connections with the outside world can be repaired or established for the first time.
Also, it is not necessarily trauma and abuse that causes psychotic experiences/withdrawal. It can be stress of any kind, isolation, fear for any number of reasons. The potential causes are many and they all interact with each other. But I think there is always a set of reasons and a story behind why people are withdrawn and psychotic at a given time. Such experiences are not a meaningless brain disease.
Am also glad to hear your son has your support; your simple physical presence may mean more to him than you realize. Keep hope and you may be surprised at what can happen in the long term.
I have really appreciated your article and your comments here, particularly in this paragraph: “… it is not necessarily trauma and abuse that causes psychotic experiences/withdrawal. It can be stress of any kind, isolation, fear for any number of reasons. The potential causes are many and they all interact with each other. But I think there is always a set of reasons and a story behind why people are withdrawn and psychotic at a given time. Such experiences are not a meaningless brain disease.” Our family has been working very hard to try and provide the type of environment at home that will best support our loved one. It has been a few years now, but what I realize is that our loved one is at least no longer experiencing the type of ‘terror’ I used to see. I still see distress, and I worry very much about the limited communication and interaction with the world. Hearing stories like yours are vital for giving me the hope and the confidence I need. I believe as more people bravely come forward to tell their stories, the hope these stories provide will snowball and more and more families will feel empowered to stand up to the mental health system when their loved one needs them to stand with them.
Thanks,,,so does this mean you are Matt? I was trying to figure out which commenter Matt was! . I am very happy for you that you feel able to use your real name now.
If so can we all have two identities? That way there will always be at least one person who agrees with us. 🙂
This whole thing about people using their real names is pretty weird to me. If someone has been living in shame over their psych history it could be “therapeutic” to shout it out and maybe feel less tormented about it. But there’s absolutely no reason that people should be expected to use their names if they don’t want to, and this certainly shouldn’t be considered a “test” of any sort. There are also plenty of good reasons NOT to use one’s name here; it’s a purely personal decision.
“I am very happy for you that you feel able to use your real name now.”
So am I, I know how you have struggled with this. It’s always so wonderful to witness personal growth through transparency and trusting the process of life, walking courageously up to our personal edge. That is exactly where change happens. Bravo for being such a shining example of change and transformation.
Thank you for your support. Yes, I have previously used the other name to comment on others’ work and to write about “borderline” states, something I also experienced.
I am glad that you will now know I have not disappeared, but have switched into using my real name. I have always liked all of your three’s comments on here.
I agree with Oldhead that there is no reason online commenters have to user their given name, and that there is value in anonymity and innate value in the content of one’s message. However, there is also value and power in speaking out under one’s real name and being seen. This can also lead to advocating and speaking in more public offline settings. I hope to do some of this eventually.
your thoughts and writings on these topics are too good (and important) to not be attributed to Matt Stevenson.
As far as anonymity goes, denying that any retribution will be taken as a result of ‘speaking out’ is as foolish as the belief in ‘confidentiality’ in the Mental Health system. Still, caveat emptor huh?
Not to argue but to add — there are also benefits to be gained by keeping one’s personality out of the equation except when there’s a “need to know.” There are more than a couple people in the anti-psych movement who know exactly who I am, but interjecting my personality and personal history into discussions here would be unnecessary and largely irrelevant. Some of my most satisfyingly successful bits of organizing over the years have been in situations where virtually no one had any idea that I was even involved. When you can focus on ideas, goals and analyses rather than individuals you help prevent a situation where your work can be defeated by “disappearing” the leaders, because you are led by ideas and not “leaders.” So it cuts down on martyrdom.
Thanks for the references, Matt. There is also a really good interview, with Krista MacKinnon, that I heard on Madness Radio. This approach to crisis and therapy could really help many families who are not sure what to do. http://www.madnessradio.net/madness-radio-effective-family-support-krista-mackinnon/ I like the work of Will Hall and other survivors who show another way.
Dear Askforcor: I’m gobsmacked by your account. I sense that you are now a blessing in your son’s life. I loved:
-“I could regret but there’s no sense going backward”.
-“The problem for the emotionally attached is that we’re emotionally attached which may be counterproductive to his recovery. To facilitate this connection is something that would help. I have not yet figured out.”
Thank you. Very considerate. It’s a long journey for everyone.
I am working on a housing community option that supports all concerned. Ever since our family started down this road, it struck me that the missing elements were community care and acceptance. Our society is too short on patience.
As individual human begins, we never asked to be born into this world, it stands to reason that we not deserve but come here with our individual rights and liberties. We should honor them in every law we construct. I am not a big fan of top-down solutions. People, all people, are much smarter than they are given credit. it would not surprise me in the least if someone in this thread or on this site, and who suffered greatly over their lives, saved mankind. Saved this world. I wish more people would be open to this possibility.
There are a couple kinds of really effective therapy you should ask your son to try–if they are available. One is Choice Theory/Reality Therapy. The other is the Finnish Dialogue Therapy. Unfortunately they may not be possible where you live and Medicaid will usually not cover them.
Your essay is excellent. Thanks for taking the plunge into the murky water of self-disclosure. COURAGE/risk, the ongoing choices that propel us to pursue living our lives more fully.
Thank you for your supportive comment. We have spoken at least once before I think, and it is good to hear from you again – I feel mutual respect for your book and disclosing your struggle to “be”. I agree with you that courage/taking risks is an important part of establishing one’s identity, both in general and in opposition to the psychiatric system.
Hi Matt: Since I just registered for Mad In America to view yours and others writings (Robert Whitaker did invite me to do so following our recent correspondence, which I did not get a chance to do until now), I thought I could copy and post here my response to your announcement of your Op-Ed on ISPS Listserv through which we have come to know each other and shared many opinions on some of the same issue you highlighted in your article. Appreciate that you had a chance to read my note and communicated a positive feedback.
Here is my copy of what I wrote for the benefit of MIA readership on the ISPS Listserv on 9/25/2016 addressed to you:
“Enjoyed reading your very thoughtful, well researched, and informative stimulating piece on the issue of societal response to “extreme behavioral anomalies” of transient or persistent nature, (such as “schizophrenia” or “psychosis”, or any other label that one may choose to identify), and the controversy over appropriateness for application of “illness model “and use of “medication treatment,” and your strong advocacy for the need for change in social cultures and mores as how best to deal or help people experiencing such “extreme behavioral anomalies” drawing from your personal experiences.
In my view, a part of the issue relates to uncertainty and risk management considerations that the “significant others” in the persons life” come to attribute to people exhibiting “extreme behavior anomalies” as if presenting “at risk” behaviors to persons and/or to society, with perceived impairments in terms of compromised ability for “independent caring” (transient or not) that are not consistent with societal age norm or other accepted socially prevalent criteria. This often leads to all kinds biological and psycho-social interventions, which are not necessarily guided by “functional outcomes” or any evidence based benefits in terms of demonstrated improvement in the over-all quality of life for people involved. There is also a lack of acknowledgement in society in general about accepting the reality that the present science and knowledge, or societal values and responses have not evolved yet to a level to address these issues meaningfully to satisfy all stake holders involved. So often faith, beliefs, collective impulses guide societal responses. The efficacy of a limited knowledge base that is available or validated through controlled experimental studies often gets extrapolated to many individual situations that may not be appropriate, or it may be appropriate for a for given time or period of one’s life, but not for always. The criteria, when and under what circumstances a finding found to be efficacious is effective to a given individual and when not, given the immense variability in people, are not well known yet. And then there are the iatrogenic effects that compound the picture of any “outcome,” be it biological or psycho-social, and that any “labelling stigma” itself has the negative impact on one’s sense of wellbeing, vitiating one’s inner strengths and adaptive resiliency that are present to a degree in all of us. Use of a label has often serves the perspective of the service providers and not necessarily the service recipients, as often the case in the mental health delivery system. Now with the increased empowerment of mental health consumers knowledge, this dynamics is changing.
The “extreme behavior-experiential anomalies” labeled as mental illness has been a very complicated and “challenging human experience” both in terms of people who experience them (In transient or in a persistent manner), and people or the society at large who must deal with others who are experiencing them. It has been with us for centuries, baffling human mind, and it involves multidimensional and multi-focus perspectives. So there will always be expected differing opinions, as no one has the monopoly of the “truth,” but we all need to move forward in a collaborative exchange of ideas and opinions within a mutual respect of each others to address these issues.
Sometimes, though, for the advocacy sake, highlighting only One Aspect of Reality, and use of confrontational tactics do contribute positively to bring about changes!
My sense is that changes in our understanding how best to deal with this kind of mental health issues are happening at a faster rate in our modern times with increased knowledge and availability of communication media, allowing for greater empowerments in terms of informed decisions by all segments of mental health community: mental health consumers, advocates, service providers, and other stakeholders.
So there are more exciting possibilities for innovative thinking, with younger people like you entering this collaborative “Dialogue” challenging the status quo.
I also had a chance to read some of your readers comments on you Opinion Piece in Mad in America, which testify to my positive comments about your contribution!
Congratulations on the writing piece, and keep it up, as many already have encouraged you to do so.”
mental health consumers, advocates, service providers
Also known as oxymorons.
Probably it should have been phrased: mental health service consumers, providers, and advocates? Thanks for feedback!
No, I should have just kept my mouth shut. I mean there is no “mental health”; there are no “mental health consumers,” you’ve been deceived. It’s too long to go into tonight…
It is good to see you on here. First, I must congratulate you on your incredible command of large words which is impressive for someone using a second language!
And more importantly, thanks for your kind comments.
I agree particularly with your point that generalized studies about what drugs or therapy do at a group level tend to get applied without consideration for individual situations, and that this can be harmful.
Additionally, you are correct that people often tend to get scared by behaviors that don’t fit social norms, and then they reach for simplistic labels like “schizophrenia”, which create the illusion that they know what is going on with that person (i.e. they have a brain disease causing these behaviors/experiences), and they reach for easy “treatments” i.e. drugging. Meanwhile, the meaning of the psychotic experiences and the possible causes, which often lie in experiences in the individual’s past life, and lost and not explored.
Thank you for eloquently pointing out these difficult realities. I think what you said fits quite well with Ken Blatt’ s (from the ISPS listserv) recent essay on Mad In America about the challenges of keeping a relational/depth/individualized approach going when faced with the challenges of risk-aversion, overdrugging, belief in concrete diagnoses as destiny, insurance pressures, and so on, within the context of an American psychiatric hospital.
Again my friend good to see you on here. Now you just have to encourage Tyler to post on here too. You know what I mean 🙂
Yes, I do have to struggle with English language, having required to learn Bengali, English, Arabic, Urdu – all at the same time, around age 6, with four different scripts (Roman, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian) , and never really mastered any to a proficient level during childhood and early adulthood, but had to focus on mastering English as part of graduate school training and professional work in my adult years. I still needs to watch for typos, basic grammar errors, or use of long winded or vague sentence constructions!
My primary work experience has been with people with severe psychological problems who have been in inpatient and outpatient for years. Besides seven years of work with developmentally disabled people, and some years of working with children and adolescents in and out of various work, my major work has been with what is described as persons with “schizophrenia,,” and almost all of them had this clinical label and have had consistent history of hospitalization or under some form of supervised community care programs , and on average have this for 10-20 years or so. Their “atypical thinking and behavior habits” can be considered to be of long-established and entrenched nature. This is that the group I suggested should be labelled as having Type 2 Psychosis,. I believe, it is a huge group of people being served in a variety of inpatient and outpatient and community support programs, as well as in prisons and nursing homes, and many could be homeless. I have taken a position, as you know, through the development and use of Mind Stimulation Therapy model ( which I pioneered through my years of work experience, and the model was further developed and refined through my years of collaborative work with Charles Boisvert, a former student of mine, and now Professor at Rhode Island College), that the use of past analysis may be counter-productive and may further reinforce the “illness-identified” persona, plus the fact the presumed causative factors in terms trying to find what they are by post hoc analysis by going back in time will always perhaps remain unknown or highly speculative., and may be Unknowable. Moreover this process of past analysis negates the need to explore and stimulate “intact and positive traits” that all these people, including all of us have within ourselves to figure out how best to manage our present life circumstances adaptively.
From an existential time dimension perspective, it is the Present that is Real and counts, past is gone and cannot be retrieved, and Future is not there yet, and is Unknown.
In my work, I have fostered the development of a new personal identity in patients, the every Now moment of our Existence, which we all do in a way. Fostering this, in my opinions, independent of what has or has not happened in the past , might be a better way to promote well- being for people that I have described.
Moreover, many of them, I found, already have a lot of insights into their psychological conditions and history, if they are probed within a supportive listening framework. It is the long-standing emotional conditioning of agitation arousal to specific situational or emotional cues, and associated behavioral habits, plus how society and mental health agencies deal with them,( often from a standpoint of “blind leading the blind” in my view, as we don’t have real hard knowledge base yet, which we don’t want to admit), complicates the picture.
Past insight oriented exploration is very much okay for what I described for the Type 1 Psychosis, where people are experiencing transient state of psychosis, and have the capacity to internalize therapeutic experiences from past explorations and able to effect meaningful change into their behaviors , with or without much external support. They may benefit from medications to stabilize their mood and vegetative functions, as many may have, and many are able move forward in their lives.
In the YouTube vide I made in support of our Opinion piece in Psychiatric Services “Back to the Future” written in collaboration with two other ISPS members (https://plus.google.com/105275650416461653536/posts/Xy7gb64UmDf0 as well as my posting in debategraph Isps Issue: (http://debategraph.org/Stream.aspx?nid=437381&vt=spacetree&dc=1) both of which you may have seen through my posting on ISPS, but I am posting them here nevertheless.
The other issue is that because of Western cultural values, much more emphasis has been placed on the role of operant condition model, beyond its actual role, where behaviors are guided by awareness of consequences. This perspective fits in with the Western sense of personal freedom and accepted values, but less has been made on the influence of associative process, a la classical conditioning paradigm, and of the use of active “redirection” away from negative thoughts and feelings that often influence much of our every day adaptive behaviors.
We all live, in reality, in a compartmentalized values and behavior systems within us, some of which are guided operant principles, much more may be guided by this associative conditioning process. And emotions, faith and imaginations play much more role than logic and science in our lives. We try to highlight some of these aspects in the Mind Stimulation Therapy model, but I need to do more writings on this aspect in the future as to what I mean,
Charlie and I are working on a follow up book to the one published on the model: Mind Stimulation Therapy: Cognitive Intervention for Persons with Schizophrenia, 2013. By the way, I was supposed to co-present with Charlie at the Annual Conference of ISPS in Boston on October 29, but because of a family commitment in Florida, Charlie will be doing that presentation. I will miss many people who I have been corresponding on the Listserv, including you, if you were planning to attend.
My interests in existential perspective comes from early graduate training in both Western and Eastern Philosophy before I switched to Clinical Psychology. As I am writing this response, as I have done so in the ISPS Listserv, I am refining my understanding , and I am learning from various feedbacks. Yours is one of the postings, which often stimulate me to write lengthy posts as you may have noticed.
Thanks for discussing some of your theoretical concerns; I find this type of discussion very interesting.
I have a few critiques though:
1) I would say that the Type 1 / Type 2 psychosis separation is artificial and overly concrete.
Human experience is too complex and variable to reliably separate people into these two groups; these are ideas that exist in our minds about psychotic people, not what those people actually are at a given time. Your categories are what psychiatrists have long labeled “acute” and “chronic” “schizophrenia”; however I never gave these designations much weight. In much psychiatry writing I read, the idea existed that once a person had been functioning in some way that a psychiatrist labeled as “crazy” for at least two years, then they suddenly became “chronic” whereas before they had been acute. But it doesn’t make sense to me to divide what is a complex continuum or spectrum into these two concrete categories.
But the question remains, as I like to humorously ask, why is the cutoff point not two years, four months, 18 days, 9 hours, 36 minutes, and 11 seconds, rather than two years exactly? This question just shows how arbitrary and subjective these divisions of labeling other people, based on lengths of time we think they have some behavioral label, are.
Also, many of the people you worked with have probably been drugged very heavily for very long periods. This can cause major harm to their ability to think clearly, and may result in many of the thinking problems / inability to function that you are seeing in your “chronic” group.
2) I think that analyzing the past may or may not be counter-productive; it depends. In the long cases studies in Murray Jackson’s Weathering the Storms, and in Ira Steinman’s Treating the Untreatable, and in Harold Searles’ Collected Papers on Schizophrenia and Related Subjects, these psychoanalytic psychiatrists described clients who were severely psychotic for many, many years – as long in many cases as the people you are describing – and yet, if they met frequently enough with a therapist for a long enough period, they were able to gain meaningful insight into how their past experiences and relationships influenced their current problems. They were eventually, after much struggle, able to internalize therapeutic experiences related to talking about their past, despite starting in a “chronic” or “out-of-contact” (Searles’ word for the clients you are describing) position. So, it depends on the individual and on the resources that are available. I do not think we should seek to make generalizations or find absolute laws based on arbitrary labels like “Type 2 Psychosis”, because the complexity and unpredictability of human nature is likely to mean that these rules do not apply when the conditions/resources available in any given case changes.
3) I also disagree that past analysis negates the need to explore and stimulate the ego strengths of these people. It is not all or nothing; one does not preclude the other. If a trusting relationship is established, and if a previously psychotic person is less overwhelmed by constant confusion/terror/rage, then one can both explore past experiences and support the healthy aspects of personality that remain. And, I would say that either one of these processes could even support the other, depending on the context and timing.
It sounds like I disagree with you on a lot. I think this is misleading though; as I know we share the same concern for having psychotic people understood as people with potential, with their own stories and individuality, who deserve understanding, respect, and love.
I also agree strongly that many psychotic people already have insights into their psychological conditions and their history. But like you say, one has to talk to psychotic people and listen carefully to what they say to learn about this, something that is difficult when one presumes they have a brain disease probably caused by faulty genes/misfiring brain chemistry, and that their utterances are thus unlikely to be meaningful.
I will be there in Boston; am sorry we cannot meet then, but I’ll try to look out for Charlie and his presentation.
I appreciate all your thoughts; I also feel as if I’m learning from the feedbacks you and others have given me on all these issues related to how to understand psychotic states and support people who go through them.
Not trying to rain on your debut, but if you (and others)continue to call people “psychotic” I will continue to describe this as hate speech.
You should also consider that by constantly citing studies by “experts” to support your positions you are contributing to a mindset where people hesitate to trust their own perceptions without them being validated by “experts.”
PS The fact that you apply this epithet to yourself, or your past self, doesn’t make it better. Why don’t you just describe the thoughts and feelings without labeling them with disease terms?
That is ok, you have a right to label the word “psychotic” however you want.
I agree with you that there should be less reliance on “experts” when discussing controversial topics. Maybe I do that too much, but at least I do not give too much credence to what the experts within research/biologically-focused psychiatry said. If I had given them much more credence, and not sought alternative ways of coping with my most difficult periods, I might well be nonfunctional, homeless, imprisoned or dead right now.
However… I have never considered the word “psychotic” to be a disease term. To me it is a vague descriptive word which describes a way of experiencing considered by one observer to be out of touch with what many or most people consider to be consensus reality. Of course how to define the latter is contentious. I would add that what people experience when they are extremely distressed, terrified, nonfunctional etc always makes sense and has reasons for why it transpires in the way it does. So in a sense, there is no “craziness” and “psychotic” people are having logical, understandable reactions to what most people would describe as crazy-making environments or interpersonal situations. Someone would be crazy not to react as they do when faced with overwhelming stresses or experiences that don’t make sense…
Obviously we need entire blog discussion about the use of the term “psychotic.” Having myself been labeled as both “schizophrenic” and “psychotic” — once in the same “diagnostic impression” — I fail to see why one is ok with you and the other isn’t. And I’ll repeat that there is an inherent problem with a term which is used both as an insult and as a “diagnosis.” It should be discarded.
To expand a bit — you don’t hear people trash-talk by saying things like “that guy is out of touch with consensus reality”; you do hear them say “that guy is psycho!” — short for “psychotic.”
I liked this citation of NIMH: “Scientists think that an imbalance in the complex, interrelated chemical reactions of the brain involving the neurotransmitters (substances that brain cells use to communicate with each other) dopamine and glutamate, and possibly others, plays a role in schizophrenia.”
This is similar to a current line of thought that, despite little evidence for the serotonin imbalance theory of depression, serotonin still “plays a role” in depression. It’s so vague that its practically unfalsifiable, and therefore unscientific by Karl Popper’s conception of science, as I understand it.
See the Demarcation problem and Falsifiability:
It’s like saying neurons play a role in depression or schizophrenia, so therefore the drugs must be fixing something if they cause neuronal changes… But wait, maybe those changes aren’t good after all.
This is similar to a current line of thought that, despite little evidence for the serotonin imbalance theory of depression, serotonin still “plays a role” in depression.
It may well “play a role.” Adrenalin plays a role in the experience of fear and anger; so what?
Hey, maybe all we need to do to cure all the violence around us is keep people’s adrenal glands from functioning properly. No adrenalin–no fear or anger. And we all go dancing around in circles, singing “Kum Bayah” and weaving daisy chains!
Don’t assume they’ve never considered it.
Thanks for these astute comments. You are quite right about this. Because psychiatrists have failed to identify clear biological/genetic causal pathways behind people’s distress, they are forced into vague unfalsifiable statements like “dopamine may play a role in schizophrenia” as a way of supporting and falsely legitimizing the disease model. In this way they try to walk a tightrope where they carefully and deftly give as much credence as they can to a brain disease model which is actually a hypothesis, and not even a theory (e.g. the idea that serotonin plays a role in “causing” depression, with the idea of cause being only implied, not even said directly, as a way of trying to guard against quite valid criticism that there is no real science behind any of these speculations). You see what I am saying.
And yes, they imply that the drugs may remedy whatever it is that the serotonin or dopamine “plays a role in”, but they don’t dare say it directly, because they simply don’t have the evidence that these brain chemicals are causing (rather than expressing) the distress… not to mention the lack of validity of the diagnoses.
Thanks again for your support Chris. I have read your MIA articles from past years and enjoyed them.
Whatever we call the end result, life’s trauma can be crazy-making for anyone, especially if it is generated by those whom we trust to be there for our well-being. Betrayal trauma is powerful and insidious, and has long-lasting effects when it comes to trusting, even ourselves. When you consider health care systems, governments, media, etc. then it would seem as though trauma and betrayal are universal. We live in an abusive and traumatized society, paying it forward.
These psych drugs cause trauma of all kinds–physical and emotional–while at the same time suppressing the trauma which really needs to be explored in order for healing to occur. Snowballs into one big mess, eventually.
When we can separate ourselves from this social madness and have clarity around our own path and who we are in our hearts and spirits, then we can ascend this traumatizing lifestyle, and find our true voice and freedom. And that includes ditching the drugs and finding our natural healing path.
Sounds like you’ve done just that, congratulations on your healing accomplishments! Speaking out from experience is the most powerful tool we each have to make sorely needed changes.
One big change would be to actually wake up and address the abusive tendencies of a family or community system, rather than to drug the victim in order to suppress the truth of the matter. Were we to have the courage and humility to do this, then many things would change for the better, to my mind, from this truthful clarity, because then we’d have the opportunity to heal, rather than to appease community denial.
Alex, thank you for your comment. I certainly agree that addressing/acknowledging (in the first place) abuse and trauma would be a very important step in addressing the causes of not all, but many psychotic states as well as less severe problems in functioning/feeling. Obviously, one cannot really deal with things one does not look at or is not willing to talk about. You would think that as a society we would have learned that by now!
“You would think that as a society we would have learned that by now!”
Which, to me, begs the question: Then what is exactly is preventing society from learning what it needs to learn in order to evolve into a better and more enlightened, just, and peace-achieving network of communities?
Personally, I think it has a great deal to do with communication, and there are all sorts of factors involved in resisting change. But the mainstream is in dire need of education, and when it refuses to learn, it is hard to know where to begin, really. Almost feels as though it is in the hands of fate, at this point.
I love your term “betrayal trauma”. And your comment that the most powerful tool we have is to make sorely needed changes.
Matt, I commend you for educating yourself and no longer allowing psychiatrists to prey on you.
But as long as you offer cooperation to psychotherapists and recovery, then you are still going along with the idea that people have mental or moral defects, and need to be talked into compliance.
Hardly any of the ‘symptoms’ of psychological distress may correctly be seen as medical matters. The so-called psychiatric ‘disorders’ are nothing to do with faulty biology, nor indeed are they the outcome of individual moral weakness or other personal failing. They are the creation of the social world in which we live, and that world is structured by power.
Social power may be defined as the means of obtaining security or advantage, and it will be exercised within any given society in a variety of forms: coercive (force), economic (money power) and ideological (the control of meaning). Power is the dynamic which keeps the social world in motion. It may be used for good or for ill.
You are standing in the way of those who want vindication, and not further victimization.
Please join, easier to talk:
I’ve said that this is a civilized country, so that we have to handle things in court rooms.
Well, for a child being subjected to psychological and emotional abuse in the middle-class family, this is not a civilized society, not at all. There is no outside protection, and there is no redress.
Underlying the physical, sexual, medical, and religious abuse, there is always psychological abuse. The intent behind all these kinds of abuse is to break the child’s spirit. And the middle-class family never would have emerged if it were not able to use child abuse to justify itself.
So while there are some protections against sexual abuse, and some very limited protections against physical abuse, the protections against medical abuse are very few, and the protections against religious abuse are near to none. But the protections against psychological and emotional abuse are zero.
The writer Stephen King has always done a great job in depicting these kinds of normative middle-class family situations. And for decades now, he has always been getting help from his wife Tabitha. I recommend Gerald’s Game.
Why would someone submit to psychiatry, psychotherapy, or recovery, unless they had already been convinced that their feelings and their desires and impulses were wrong?
Its rather like saying, “My parents abused me every day. But clearly that was not sufficient, because I still needed psychiatrists and psychotherapists to further abuse me. But now I am in recovery, so I abuse myself, and soon I will be dead.”
There were mad houses and lunatic asylums long before “schizophrenia” became a word. I think basic human rights issues are at stake here, and these are the things that need to be addressed. I was locked up in a mental hospital, and I wasn’t given any choice in the matter. It was a pill, or manhandling by thugs, and a shot in the rear. I was a prisoner in two senses. I was imprisoned by the institution in which I found myself, and I was a prisoner of the chemical concoction I was being force fed. I think, in the first instance, madness shouldn’t be suppressed by the state, that is, people shouldn’t be locked up for being different, ‘acting out’, being themselves, distressed, in an altered state, or whatever. Mental health workers, for one thing, are not my idea of heroes/(heroines). Not when, as long as the doors are locked, they are essentially “screws” in a psychiatric prison. Self-congratulations aside. I don’t think the “disease” fantasy, nor the “recovery” fantasy, are the problem. I think the problem stems from treating human beings like something less than human beings. We’ve got, according to law, a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (or property), that is, until you get to mental health law. It’s good that you’re looking towards solutions, if that’s what you’re doing, but I think you have to be wary, about, with ‘the best of intentions’, contributing to the growth of this man-made ‘epidemic’ of fantasy “disease” and unfortunate fates that we are presently experiencing.
Hi Frank, I was also a prisoner in such environments, and these people are certainly not my idea of heroes either. That is why I often think of psych hospitals as “psych prisons” and the healthcare system as the “sickcare system” in my own mind at least.
When I speak to troubled people, I usually encourage them to think about how they can avoid entanglement in the system/”hospitalization” and get help via alternative means, including using their own strengths/resources/ability to think critically and research, plus family support and psychotherapy (and yes I do think it can be very helpful, but the fit has to be good).
Perhaps my tone was more negative than it should have been. Still I have my qualms….
I’m more worried about the expansive aspects of the psychiatric system, and psycho-dynamic approaches to the problem, if applied, would be no less a part of this expansion. Treatment is big big big business, and due to this big big big business, they say 1 in 5, some say 1 in 4, people are said to be a “sufferer” from “mind sickness”. This is absolute nonsense, but it’s nonsense that’s gone over like hotcakes.
A problem with the movement we now have, as opposed to the movement we once had, is that due to government funding, and with it subversion (or co-optation), ending force has been, as a demand, almost shuttled beside the demand for alternatives. These alternatives would be working, out of necessity in some cases, with the conventional system. Both alternatives and the conventional system are catalysts when it comes to this expansion.
I never found psychoanalysis very helpful in my own case. I think the tab to such “professional relationships” altogether too costly. There are all sorts of people in the world at large, and they aren’t charging quite so much for their time. What’s more, I don’t think the benefits are any less real from knowing them, that is, people besides mental health specialists of one sort or another.
I have to support Open Dialogue and other programs because of the atrocious outcomes we’ve got given bio-psychiatry, and I’m hopeful when it comes to professionals grasping the science. They won’t even do what works, when it is shown to work, but hopefully things are changing. I just worry about the way it is implemented, and I realize, when it comes down to it, the less bad is harm reduction while the bad is that industrial expansion I’ve been going on about.
I entered “less bad” in the above comment in reference to ‘harm reduction’ because, in my book, ‘harm reduction’ can be never be the improvement that harm elimination would be. Harm maintenance and harm escalation are, of course, bad. Not harming, by way of contrast, is good.
As a remorseful retired psychiatric nurse I paid close attention to Matt’s & Franks’ dialogue. I agree with the advice to avoid entanglements in the system.
That is why I often think of psych hospitals as “psych prisons”
It’s the subtleties in your phraseology which I believe reveal a perhaps unconscious reluctance to completely dispense with psychiatry. In this case, you refer to “psych prisons” as though the term is an analogy, when you would be more accurate speaking of prisons being mislabeled as “psych hospitals” (note that the quotation marks are reversed).
Absolutely a human rights issue. Absolutely be wary of “best intentions”
Great writing- excellent article-thanks Matt- easy to read and understand- some great comments too- top stuff.
Thanks for your support Johnny!
thank you Matt great work and lovely to see you responding to everyone
a much wider cross section of comments than usual including some family members,
essentially for most of us in this boat there are either professionals over drugging,psychiatric imprisonment, labeling of anyone they feel like labeling or nothing at all other than trying to work things out for yourself and avoiding hospitals at all costs.
Thank you for your references list much appreciated take care
Thanks for your comment; good luck with your family member. For me, it was trying to work things out at all costs and avoiding too many hospitalizations. Luckily, I had just enough resources to do what I wanted.
Matt and Frank,
I am sorry that you each were subjected to forced treatment. There is no conceivable justification for that. It should never happen, and we must act to make sure that it stops and never happens again.
But having said this, I ask each of you to consider some other things. Do we really want to be sanctioning debates and clinical trials, to decide whether or not psychiatric medications are effective, or if people should just be given psychotherapy and then be considered as “in recovery”? Shouldn’t we instead be saying that it makes no difference what psychiatric medications do, because no one is going to be taking them anymore because what they are intended to do is wrong?
And then I ask you to further consider, if we leave any door open and act like psychotherapy or recovery could be solutions to people’s problems, then that still is also leaving a door open that in some cases, psychiatric medications could still be necessary.
So there really is no way that we can fight against this Murphy Bill, unless we completely reject all aspects of this idea that the problem and the cure are in someone’s own head. So what we have are people approaching the situation by asking for pity for the afflicted, and writing this kind of stuff in letters to the Boston Globe. All the while Murphy stands behind the parents, and their designation of a child as the scapegoat, and while our Capitalist system needs this in order to maintain compliance and control. So what has been created in this country today is a massive industry which exists to scapegoat children, at the behest of the parents, and we have ended up with a vast untouchable caste which lives on alcohol, street drugs, tobacco, and psychiatric medications, and then dances around calling out the name of an idol, hoping that he will finally hear them and make it rain on them.
Countless numbers of persons are growing up in environments when they are psychologically abused until they feel that their own desires and inclinations are evil, and that they must instead submit to these outside normative standards. Usually this is justified under the doctrine of Self-Reliance. But what it really is, is simply that the parent does not want to face their own pain, and they don’t want the child to have any chance of growing up differently than they did.
The middle-class is after all the first group of people who really see themselves as having choices in how they live. But rather than face these choices, they instead try to hide behind outer appearances. So they have children in order to give themselves social legitimacy, and they try to hide behind these children, and they expect the children to go along with this.
When it doesn’t work, bring on the doctors.
And none of this will ever change until the parents are held accountable. But in most cases, as the children go along with it, there is no way anything could be done. But in a few cases the children do resist. But then as long as these children end up in Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Recovery, that chance to take effective action is lost.
And we the survivors will never have a legitimated social identity until the world understands what our struggle has been, and until we have got some tangible victories to show. And it is absolutely impossible that we ever could have this, so long as we are supporting any aspect of psychiatry, psychotherapy, or recovery.
Look for my newest posts here, and please join:
Psychiatric drugging may be “wrong”, as you put it, but more importantly, when it is done long-term, and without a great deal of caution, it can be very harmful, too. Psychiatric drugs aren’t effective. Some studies have shown as much. The problem is that they are the panacea of psychiatry, and it is other people, including professionals, that you would need to convince first, not me. I don’t take psychiatric drugs, and no longer being in the system, I don’t have to take psychiatric drugs.
What you are talking about is not, strictly speaking, a problem with the Murphy bill. It is a problem with mental health law. The Murphy bill would make matters worse, surely, but they are bad to begin with.
I don’t think psychiatry should be labeling and drugging children in the name of “mental health issue” prevention, yes, nor should it be expanding into schools for monitoring and surveillance purposes, but you need to tell the public and the “mental illness” industry that, not me.
We disagree on “the middle class family”. Rich people and poor people have families, too. Were we to entirely get rid of “the middle class” and its families, I don’t think that would be an improvement, but maybe we are heading in that direction anyway. Eliminate “the middle class”, and you will only have rich and poor people, and I don’t think doing so will prevent them from having either children nor problems either.
Parents are guardians of their children by nature and law. That some of them seem unaware of this “accountability” is not my doing.
I like to put a ‘psychiatric’ in front of my ‘survivor’ to distinguish him or her from the touted ‘consumer/survivor’, if ‘consumer/survivor’ of ‘mental health services’. I can survive psychiatric oppression and murder much better without ‘consuming’ it.
As for ‘tangible victories’, I’m wondering when your sense of realism is ever going to kick in. I’m opposed to forced treatment, of course, however, I also know that being opposed to forced treatment won’t end the “broken-people repair” business that they’ve got going. I can’t prevent this kind of thing from happening in a free and open society, accent on free and open. Commerce and commercialism, capitalist propaganda, surely, is a big part of the problem, but it is beyond that. “Victory” here can only be relative. The only way that I know of to effectively prevent people from seeking treatment would be to install a tyrant to outlaw such pursuits, and opposing the tyranny of psychiatry, I’m not jumping on the despot bandwagon either.
thank you Matt for your excellent article it was good to see a wider cross section of responders than is often the case on this site including some family members and your due diligence in replying to people.
I often find the responses quite negative and aggressive and there appears to be no moderation applied at all.. it is very easy to take a hard line about drugs and psychiatry and have a little tantrum about it and them but at the end of the day everyone has do what is right for them and usually with the odds stacked completely against them. So people on this site attacking others for their opinions is not helpful or supportive in any way and in fact you are just emulating the bullying moronic behavior of most psychiatrists and others in the field who do not give a toss about people in the slightest and enjoy locking them up and drugging them to within an inch of their life.
If you have a problem with what someone wrote, click on the “Report Comment” at the end of the post and it will definitely be reviewed. Yes, as one who has had posts deleted, I can assure you this site is moderated.
Not sure what the rest of your post is referring to but I can give you my take on things. I don’t see meds as either or situation as long as the person taking them is given a fully informed choice which is a whole other discussion.
To be honest, when I first got off of psych meds, I was a black and white thinker regarding the issues. But when I developed sleep issues, to be honest, if I could have found a med that worked (I didn’t), I would have taken it in a heartbeat. It made me realize the issues aren’t always that simple.
Hope this helps.
Matt, this is wonderful. Absolutely brilliant. I applaud your tremendous courage!
After a childhood of unbearable trauma, including my mother trying to gas us all to death when I was twelve, I had a “nervous breakdown” at the age of fourteen and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Like you, my terrifying psychosis lasted two years.
Today I am sixty-three years old. I am a Mensa member, a former nurse, a wife, mom, and grandmother. My oldest granddaughter is a student at Harvard University. My younger granddaughter is in nursing school. My daughter is a life coach and a hypnotherapist. My elder son manages two motels, and my younger son works in a jewelry store. Not bad, for the children and grandchildren of a “schizophrenic!”
Today I am the happiest and healthiest that I have ever been. I take no “psychotropic” drugs. I am married to my best friend, a U.S. Marine combat veteran of the war in Vietnam. Between the two of us old nuts, we put the FUN in dysfunction.
I am very busy these days, writing a memoir. I begin my real life horror to healing story with the time that my former husband and I were on the Oprah Show, featured in one of her “Remembering Your Spirit” segments.
Many doctors and therapists have told me over the years that I must have been badly misdiagnosed, because “schizophrenia is forever” and I am not the least bit schizophrenic. But, as much as I would like to believe that I never was psychotic, the truth is that I was, very much so, from the age of fourteen to sixteen. And then, I got over it.
I have no doubt that at least part of why I got over the psychosis was because I secretly spit out my prescribed Thorazine every chance I got. Bad, non-compliant me. 🙂
Good to see you on here my blogging friend!
That is so impressive to see how you married, had kids and to read about what all your kids are doing now. Although your story is not scientific evidence, it’s a powerful anecdote. It shows that “schizophrenia” is on one level just a label, that psychotic experience is modifiable depending on the environment, and that “schizophrenia” is not a disease that gets genetically transferred down generations condemning one’s offspring to a bad life.
It is sometimes necessary to take one’s “treatment” into one’s own hands when it turns out that doctors do not know what they are doing with helping psychotic people, which in this country is far too often.
In my case, I unilaterally decided at one point that I was going to stop taking antipsychotics, and did so without telling my psychiatrist. So I self-tapered myself off, a process requiring some continued deception unfortunately. In psychiatry this would be evidence of having “anosognosia” (a brain-based inability to agree with your psychiatrist!) and “noncompliance”.
But it worked out fine, and I have never taken the drugs again. And now I live independently and work and am doing fine. We are the people who don’t show up in the follow-up studies of being given severe mental illness labels, because we drop out of the system.
Courtenay Harding, the researcher, once told me about the dozens of young men who had called in to report their experience when she had done a radio show about “severe mental illness.” Many of these had been labeled “schizophrenic” and committed in their teens or 20s, but they got out, left the system, and went on to have normal lives while never telling anyone about their experiences because of the fear of being judged for having been so labeled. Many of these people are out there.
I am sad to say that I have already been hearing it from people both in relation to the “schizophrenia” and “borderline” labels who say that I couldn’t have “had these disorders” because people don’t get better from them. It doesn’t bother me one bit because I know they are wrong, in multiple ways – both in terms of misunderstanding these labels as permanent illnesses, and being ignorant of the huge number of narrative accounts by severely distressed people who have gotten well. It is kind of morbidly funny if you don’t take it seriously. But it is also harmful and very discouraging to others.
Good to hear from you.
Thank goodness for the bad and non-compliant you! You are the proof that most people can resolve the issues they experience with what the system wants to call “schizophrenia” if they’re given good support and time. The demand and directive to immediately drug people with these issues with heavy doses of the toxic drugs stymies the process of working through the issues and creates a chronic situation for the person to deal with for the rest of their lives. We’ve turned something that was once episodic for most people into a chronic experience. The recovery rates prior to when you were placed in the “hospital” were around 60%. Today’s recovery rate is no higher than about 16%
Your life puts the lie to the accepted malarkey that masquerades as the truth. Thanks for sharing your story.
Linda Lee: Like Stephen I say thank goodness for non-compliant you. I was a psych nurse (& still feel guilty). Towards the end of my career I became aware that I was pissing off my colleagues (slow to force prn’s). Nice to hear that a “non-compliant patient” did well away from the system.
Thank you Matt for starting all of this dialogue
Congratulations on coming out
Someday for me
The process of coming to terms with fully acknowledging our history is a story in and of itself
Keep on going
Thank you CatNight. “The process of coming to terms with fully acknowledging our history is a story in & of itself”. You have succinctly expressed something that I have been muddling toward. “Someday for me”.
Frank, I do not agree with you. Psychiatric drugging is wrong because what is being intended, manipulating people and cutting them off from their feelings, is wrong. So I am not interested in debates about it’s effectiveness, because it is being used to try and achieve an effect which is wrong.
And Frank, we’ve discussed this before, being middle-class is not to be of an income level. It is more a way of thinking. In a place like the US today, there is no other class.
Yale’s John Merriman
It is a reactionary identification system, and it is predicated on the exploitation and abuse of children. There are people who operate against the interests of the middle-class, but there still is no other class.
“Parents are guardians of their children by nature and law. That some of them seem unaware of this “accountability” is not my doing. ”
What on earth are you talking about? Children are not property, and this is by matter of law.
The isolation and lack of protection which most children live in is the direct result of the rise of the middle-class family, and of the ideologies which justify it.
“As for ‘tangible victories’, I’m wondering when your sense of realism is ever going to kick in. ”
And again, what non-sense are you talking? Tangible victories means real world results, rather than venting in your therapist’s office. Thing will change when parents are held accountable, and in most cases this will mean taking their money away from them. Right now people can make babies with the intent of abusing them, and this is often profitable, because of our antiquated inheritance laws. When parents can no longer do this, use child exploitation, scapegoating, and abuse to make themselves look good, and instead it costs them and makes them into public examples, then things will change.
Frank wrote, “The Murphy bill would make matters worse, surely, but they are bad to begin with.”
Yes of course. And for this reason, we cannot oppose the Murphy Bill while still acting like Psychotherapy and Recovery and the entire Fix Me industry are anything other than more abuse and a con. We need to also act against these. Putting some of them out of business will not be that hard. Myself, I was involved in getting an Alano Club evicted. And I also helped to get a Pentecostal Daughter Molester, he and the wife using sexual molestation on the girls and the concept of mental illness on the boy, to make themselves look good, into our state prison.
Tangible results can be had if people are willing to work to achieve them, but not if people invent reactionary lines of argumentation and instead decide to live in the very small social space which abuse survivors have left open to them.
And then like this, the suicide of Rick Warren’s son, we need to be standing up and offering the other and obvious interpretation:
Forced drugging is wrong. Correct me if I’m wrong, I think we both agree on that much.
I don’t think America is a Middle Class society. I, for one, don’t have my own private jet. Some people do.
Corporate imperialism, rule by rich oligarchs, I see as a bigger problem than the pretensions of the vanishing middle class.
I don’t have a therapist. That, to my way of thinking, is a real world “victory”.
I’m not opposed to making babies.
“Yes of course. And for this reason, we cannot oppose the Murphy Bill while still acting like Psychotherapy and Recovery and the entire Fix Me industry are anything other than more abuse and a con. We need to also act against these.”
You’re talking two thing here. Opposing the Murphy bill, and opposing “psychotherapy and recovery and the entire Fix Me industry”. Opposition to one, given the vast majority people who are opposed, is irrelevant to opposition to the other. I don’t necessarily disagree with you. They would disagree with you.
I’m opposed to child molestation.
Tangible results do require people working together to achieve them, yes. Sometimes doing so is not as easy as one might imagine it to be. I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying to change things.
Yes, forced drugging is wrong. It is wrong because there should not be involuntary treatments, except maybe for when the patient is unable to speak for themselves and it is necessary for their life. Psych meds would never be included in this. But it is also wrong for doctors to be giving people such drugs, because the drugs are intended to do the same things which Psychotherapy does, dissociate people from their feelings, and this is wrong.
So if we have to have such drugs at all, maybe they could be offered along with decriminalized street drugs or with herbal and homeopathic remedies, with no prescription and no FDA approvals.
America is a Middle-Class society because being middle-class is a way of thinking, not a range of income levels. Mostly it comes down to the idea that people are expected to conform with the earning a living ethic, and that their social legitimacy is measured this way. It is unclear if in America there ever was any other class, but there certainly is not today. Even the poorest of the poor, the homeless, usually profess belief in middle-class values. All the more so because this profession of belief is usually the only claim to social legitimacy and mental health that they have left. Someone who does not profess allegiance to middle-class norms is usually seen as mentally ill.
But, there are people, who though not a member of any other class, still act against the interests of the middle-class. 🙂
My sources for this view are Hardt and Negri, and Deleuze and Guattari, but there are lots of others too. And lots of people have over the last 160 years written updates to the Communist Manifesto, because they don’t see there as being a proletariat anymore.
Corporate imperialism and rule by rich oligarchs is a serious problem and it does have much to do with the shaping of our society. But these oligarchs still rule by promoting middle class norms. Politics, religion, and commercial advertising all use images of the middle-class family in order to promote themselves.
And this middle-class is the first group which has actually had choice in how it lives. But it does not want to feel this choice, so it hides behind a reactionary identity. And as such it has children by choice, but it does not want to admit that it was a choice. So they use children, exploit them. And this is how the children end up getting sent to doctors and end up getting convinced that they have something wrong with them. And there are doctors who market themselves to parents, with this fix my kid doctrine, and always completely exonerating the parents. Some of these are even anti-psych med doctors. But they still are committed to exonerating the parents, disregarding mandatory reporting, and making the child feel that they were wrong for ever feeling their feelings and seeing how their parents are psychically maiming them.
I believe that if there were aggressive outside intervention early on, a full parentectomy, this Matthew Warren, son of Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren could have been saved from a life of grief and suicide. All the better if the son could have been publicly vindicated by seeing the assets of his parents confiscated and put into a trust for the children. I do not have evidence to show this yet, but I will be looking for it.
Yes, Frank, I agree with you, if you are not seeing a therapist, and for anyone who is not seeing a therapist, that is at least a first level real world victory. At least we are not confessing our private matters to someone who is not a Comrade in any sense, but is only a Commiserator.
I am not opposed to making babies either. And I would never try to stop people from doing such. But I think if one wants to understand what is happening today, then one needs to look at what is driving most of the people who do it. I say that Simone de Beauvoir got it right, “For most women maternity is an inauthentic choice.”
Fascinating book, tracing this idea through the entire corpus of de Beauvoir’s writings:
And I am not trying to put the entire responsibility onto the women either. It is just that the sentimentalization of babies and maternity is focused on women.
Opposing the Murphy bill is inseparably linked with opposing the goals and objectives of Psychotherapy, opposing the identical goals and objectives of Psychiatry, and opposing the Fix Me and Fix My Kid industries. These are all based on the premise that people have some kind of innate moral defect.
What is a Saddleback?
“second chance grace place … everybody needs RECOVERY … You need RECOVERY in every area of your life.”
Listen to this imbecile talk. I can’t take more than a few minutes of it without my blood vaporizing. But after listening some, are you surprised at all to hear that he had a son, who supposedly “struggled with mental illness”, and that two years after Rick Warren gave this talk, that 27 year old son finally took his own life by shooting himself in the head?
And then the next year, Rick Warren starting a “Mental Health Ministry”, and receiving letters from 10,000 church members explaining how their families have “struggled with mental illness”, does that concern you?
“Saddleback Church is a Hospital for Sinners, not a Hotel for Saints.”
He has made needing Recovery into the new Original Sin.
Frank writes, “I’m opposed to child molestation.”
Great. But do you understand that most familial child abuse is done under the cover of the idea that the child is defective, and that the abuse is for the child’s own good. Of the guy I helped put into our state prison, his entire Pentecostal church was standing behind him, saying that everyone must forgive and that his daughters are liars.
He was afraid that his children were not going to turn out like himself and the other members of his church. So with the son, they got him removed from the home and from regular high school, under the pretext that he had a ~~Brain Chemical Imbalance~~, and that he was dangerous to himself and others, and that he needed to be on mind destroying drugs for the rest of his life.
And then with the girls, sexual molestation. And then sometimes apologizing to them the next day.
Does it bother you that Saddleback Church has trained thousands of counselors, who go out and get people to confess their private matters to them, so that they can make them believe that the only one wrong is themselves, for not forgiving?
Without this idea that people need to be fixed, NO MURPHY BILL. But as long as we believe that people’s problems exist only in their own heads and in their own unwillingness to forgive, then we have Psychotherapy, Psychiatry, Medications, Forced Treatment, the Murphy bill, and people like Rick Warren and his followers.
Frank wrote, “Tangible results do require people working together to achieve them, yes. Sometimes doing so is not as easy as one might imagine it to be. I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying to change things.”
That’s great. But as long as people believe that their problems reside between their own two ears, and that they are supposed to forgive instead of fight, then they are rendered incapable of working for tangible results.
I think Senator Al Franken of Minnesota is someone who would be reachable.
look for my latest posts here, and please join:
America is a Middle-Class society because being middle-class is a way of thinking, not a range of income levels. Mostly it comes down to the idea that people are expected to conform with the earning a living ethic, and that their social legitimacy is measured this way. It is unclear if in America there ever was any other class, but there certainly is not today.
This is blatantly anti-historical.
Uprising, here, Yale’s John Merriman explains it better than I ever could, about how the middle-class invented childhood, and about how it is merely a reactionary identity system:
And then here, full text online, and also widely available on paper, a classic text:
Highly referenced and critically acclaimed:
And then the greatest:
Hmm. Seems like Rick Warren has bought into the idea that all sin or bad behavior is caused by chemical imbalances or bad genes. Kind of like the Lutheran ministers who bought into the “Master Race” ideology. According to orthodox theology we are all sinners. Condemning certain people for “inferior genes” is actually a form of heresy. Taken to its logical conclusion, “good” people with “superior genes” would have no need to attend church at all. Like a lot of shallow, idealogues Warren has failed to take into account that his activism is poles away from orthodoxy. It smacks more of eugenics, social Darwinism, and biological determinism than Biblical teachings. Perhaps the Saddleback Church will replace communion with “medication time!” Cause drugs are the solution to all human suffering and sinfulness.
Matt, Therapists have their own denial systems, and they need to defend them. So they really are not in any position to be hearing another person’s pain. All they do is let you talk yourself out, and then tell you that you just have to learn to live with it. They would not be therapists unless they were committed to the premise that it is morally superior to respond to abuse and injustice by doing NOTHING!
I don’t know what you mean by “vindication” in this sense, as for the other terms it’s a question of semantics. Certainly we’re not talking about diseases here. It’s just that saying “never” or “ever” is sure to yield a few exceptions.
As for the family being an agent of capitalism, while you didn’t say it is the only one, you generally make it your sole focus. Not that there’s anything wrong with “specializing,” just sayin’…tactically though, if the family is serving the system then focusing on lawsuits against family members for basically carrying out their “orders” is missing the target somewhat, wouldn’t you say?
What do I mean by vindication? Well, like Peter Breggin has written in “Beyond Conflict”, underneath all of these issues which are getting “treated” in Psychotherapy and Psychiatry, is conflict. There is not something “wrong” with the client, there is some substantial and legitimate conflict at issue.
And then going a bit further and following Alice Miller and just my own day in day out observations, under the surface of most of the issues being dealt with by those who end up in Psychotherapy and Psychiatry is Parent v Child conflict.
And if anyone is willing to just get saturated in this, just spend some time with any of our Evangelical Churches. Most every family has a scapegoat child, and usually a scapegoat sibling too.
And then as I did, get involved in a paternal child sexual molestation case, I listened to the scapegoating, and in every communication I made to the court and the DA I emphasized this and the role of the evangelical church.
So as we live in a civilized nation state, the government monopolizes the power of redress. So to vindicate the family scapegoat, you have to help them win a lawsuit. Usually it will be against their parents and against any therapists, psychiatrists, or other doctors who have helped them inflict harm. And the suit will be over money, either for immediate compensation or to prevent disinheritance, or probably both. You might look at it as a kind of divorce from one’s parents. No one should ever be able to have children and abuse them, and then keep money or assets. When they can do this, they brag about it. Go to any evangelical church and you will hear it. Go to mainline churches and you will hear it, though in a softened language.
“if the family is serving the system then focusing on lawsuits against family members for basically carrying out their “orders” is missing the target somewhat”
Well, people rob banks, and you could say that they are a product of their environment, but we still put them in prison.
Yes, the middle-class family is serving the system, and for this reason the system is evil, because it depends upon the middle-class family, and that means child exploitation. But it is still going to continue because the parents brag about how they exploit and abuse their children. What allows them to do this is that they are still holding on to money and assets. So I am not really talking about lowering the bar for incarcerating parents, only for taking their money away from them.
They have to understand that children are not property, and that they will be held 100% accountable for any deliberate harm, certainly including emotional and psychological.
And the US needs to become like other industrialized countries, Western Europe, Latin America, and increasingly Asia, in requiring equal share inheritance. Otherwise abuse survivors get silenced, and the public and jury pools will continue to live in denial.
In the overwhelming majority of these ne’er do well, substance addiction, and “mental health” cases, the cause is simply that someone’s social identity has been shattered by the abuses of the middle-class family.
And remember that there are several things about the middle-class family which make it unlike anything which has ever before existed:
1. Has children deliberately in order to gain legitimated adult identity.
2. Reads and follows pedagogy and child development manuals.
3. Hires therapists and doctors who violate mandatory reporting, to make child more compliant.
4. Lives in Bad Faith, does not admit to itself that it has choices. ( Sartre and de Beauvoir insight )
Where is there a more radical forum, people who are taking legal and political action on behalf of the survivors of the middle-class family and psychotherapy and psychiatry, instead of talking about whether or not drugs are effective and about therapy, recovery, and healing?
Matt–very poignant account here in conceptualizing anew, having a new and better vision, for yourselves and for others!!
Hi, thanks for your support pulpamor and glad you found this. Articles tend to drop quickly into the labyrinths of MIA past…
My mother was diagnosed schizonphrenia after 2 psycotic episodes following a devastating divorce. Now almost 62 she quitted seroquel after 10 years of use.
I am at my wits end worrying about her and about myself, ’cause the whole situation gradually kills our two lives. Now she suffers physcially from what seems to be an awful withdrawal (can it last for months? or it’s something else?), she is agressive which can also be a part of medication abuse and she still has some strange ideas like “cats do not eat mice cause mice are disgusting” (a mild and funny example, but it shows where we are).
I am writing this all because I am trying to reach for some advice and support …wherever it can be. I’m outside the US and alone with this since 2005 (first episode).
Regarding “can it last for months?” yes. You are telling us from age 52 to 62 your mom took seroquel?
If your mother can not look after herself, as in pay the bills, get groceries and feed herself, keep herself, clothing and living area clean, then some one must be in charge of her. The person in charge wants the person under them to follow orders, and sometimes psychiatric drugs can dampen the subordinates/slaves fight or disobedience.
Aggression can come from feeling pain, as in anger usually has a reason. Where can pain come from? The feeling of hunger and the opposite , the feeling of constipation.
If a person displays anger from either feeling, they get more psychiatric medication/drugs for their bad behaviour. ( but the drugs affect the nerves in the intestine/colon/stomach the same as they affect the brain, so it is an endless cycle of drugging)
She could look after herself, now she cannot (after quitting). Mind, that I am the last person to keep her medicated unless she needs it. But I have to know where we stand and what to expect in terms of recovery.
When seroquel was prescribed to her in the first place, she got better (after haldol). No psycotic symtoms, no depression or agression for the most part of the time, quite active physically (not working but could do the house chores). But she never liked the fact that she was on the meds (and who would….). That I can understand somewhat.
After quitting the medication, however, she is where she is now.
The worst part of the whole story is that she changed mentally, I mean her cognitive function IS badly impaired. And I ignore what to blame: disease or meds.
To recover after psychiatric drugs, the person has to look after themselves and (self) moderate their mood from the inside, unlike the moderation that came/comes from the outside in the form of drugs (by force or willingly).
You wrote “When seroquel was prescribed she got better”
You conveniently leave out the details.
What was wrong with her that seroquel was prescribed? How do you define “got better”? Would she define herself as “got better”? I think not. That was not medicine.
The seroquel medicating/drugging is equivalent to hiding the problem( unresolved emotions-thoughts). Like hiding dirt, by sweeping it under a rug. After a time, you can no long hide dirt under the rug due to the quantity of dirt.
“After quitting the medication,”The slave has revolted, took off the chains. If the slave is disobedient to authority , those in power will force the chains back on.
Cognitive decline will happen to all of us, given enough time.
Senility and physical disability will occur, making the person dependent on those around them for support/help until the person dies.
I do not cover. It is my mother, by the way. The only living person I have ever had around. The only.
If it was bad, it was: hallucinations, dilusions, voices, going out undressed in winter (luckily I happened to return earlier and catch her…), all that sort of things. Then hospitaliztion, then haldol, then seroquel. When on Seroquel, she was more or less herself (unlike haldol which turns people into vegetables). Speaking of slaves….however I love her, a slave here is me (of the situation). For more than a decade.