What Do Santa Claus and the Chemical Imbalance Have in Common?

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It might seem like a silly question, but as we head into the holiday season it’s worth noting that the parallels are striking and instructive. By “chemical imbalance” I’m referring to those explanations that suggest that mental health problems are caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters (or chemicals) in the brain. The two most commonly identified culprits are serotonin and dopamine. Apparently, so the story goes, depression is caused by an imbalance of the neurotransmitter serotonin and schizophrenia is caused by an imbalance of dopamine.

An important detail to clarify at the outset is that a chemical is only identified as a neurotransmitter because of the way it functions in the brain. There is nothing special or unique about its chemical properties that make it particularly neurotransmitterish. A number of peptides, for example, function as either hormones or neurotransmitters depending on where they are located (Purves et al., 2001). And with serotonin, approximately 90% of the bodies’ serotonin lies outside the brain in the gastrointestinal tract (Ruddell, Mann, & Ramm, 2008).

While the similarities between Saint Nick and chemical imbalances are interesting and informative there is at least one fundamental difference between them. Prior to exploring some of their commonalities, emphasising this important difference might provide an important context for what is to come. Whereas, in the Western world at least, Santa Claus is generally associated with kindness, warmth, and good tidings, the chemical imbalance narrative is mostly accompanied by misery and mayhem. Despite this troubling difference, the similarities are noteworthy.

Perhaps the greatest similarity is that both Santa Claus and the chemical imbalance are mythical. Santa Claus, as we know him today, has never existed, and many authors (e.g., Gotzsche, 2015; Healy, 2012; Moncrieff, 2009; and Whitaker, 2010) agree that there is not one shred of evidence for the notion that an imbalance of chemicals in the brain causes mental health problems. Ironically, any imbalance in chemicals associated with mental health problems seems to occur after people have begun ingesting psychotropic medication not before (Gotzsche, 2015; Whitaker, 2010).

Santa Claus by Takeda Naoki
Santa Claus by Takeda Naoki

Both chemical imbalances and Santa Claus have been extraordinary marketing strategies. In fact, the chemical imbalance propaganda may eventually be recognised as one of the greatest marketing manoeuvres of all time. The tactic of promoting mental health problems as consequences of out of balance brain chemicals has literally turned pharmaceutical companies into some of the most successful organisations on the planet with profits that soar into the stratosphere of billion dollar figures. The fallacy that mental health problems “are just like diabetes” so that medication will need to be taken “for the rest of your life” has beguiled health professionals and patients alike despite the emptiness of its claims. While the Santa Claus story hasn’t been as astronomically successful, it has certainly turned a Christian Festival into a very lucrative commercial enterprise.

The function of the Santa Claus and chemical imbalance stories are also practically identical. It could be argued that the main reason for the Santa Claus tale is so that parents have a way to “encourage” their children to behave sweetly.

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice. 

He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.

As Christmas draws closer, children are cautioned about the nonarrival of Santa should they transgress in ways that parents find objectionable. Similarly, mental health prescribers use the fantasy of the chemical imbalance to “encourage” their patients to be compliant with their medication. Despite its fictional nature, it is still not uncommon for patients to be told that the reason they are experiencing mental health problems is because they have a chemical imbalance. This is where the “just like diabetes” silliness enters the script and, of course, the delivery of the nonsensical life sentence remedy follows soon after. Moreover, it may also be the case that one type of medication won’t be enough to restore the balance so multiple prescriptions are also a regular occurrence once people embark on the journey of the chemical cure. Not surprisingly, both the “life sentence” and the multi-pronged approach are both very useful in boosting pharmaceutical profits even further.

Santa Claus and the chemical imbalance are both creations from a Western cultural perspective and they both disregard explanations from other cultures. Despite his multifaceted origins, Santa Claus is now most closely linked to the Western Christian festival of Christmas. The chemical imbalance idea is firmly rooted in the Western bio-medical perspective. Despite their mono-cultural origins they have infiltrated other cultures and societies and usurped the indigenous explanations that exist there. “Mental health literacy” is a particularly insidious form of indoctrination in which people from other cultures are taught to think like Westerners with regard to the manifestation and treatment of mental health problems.

The invisibility of Santa Claus and the chemical imbalance is another shared feature. It is devilishly difficult to identify whether they are present or not. And, of course, the benefit for the chemical imbalance enthusiasts is that “One can never be sure whether something that does not exist has gone away.” (Runkel, 2003, p. 368) so we need to keep taking those l’il ol’ pills just to be sure.

We assess whether or not Santa has visited by the bulging Christmas stockings and the crumbs on the plate where a cookie used to be. To determine the presence of neurotransmitters we mostly rely on measuring metabolites in the blood, however, these substances do not have a straightforward relationship with the chemicals in the brain. There has certainly been progress in recent years in the development of different techniques for measuring neurotransmitters directly (Perry, Li, Kennedy, 2009) although these methods still have limitations. Perhaps the main limitations, however, are conceptual rather than pragmatic. Even if we were able to accurately determine what someone’s dopamine levels were at any point in time, we still would have no idea of what the dopamine levels should be. And, given what we know about the bidirectional influences between the brain and behaviour, it would be a mistake to assume that any particular dopamine level was responsible for a particular mood state. It would be just as defensible to conclude that it was the mood state that changed the dopamine levels. That is assuming of course that we were able to tell that the dopamine levels had, in fact, changed from a previous level.

It is also the case that within the relationships in which the stories of Santa Claus and the chemical imbalance flourish there are distinct power differentials. Santa Claus is most often used in relationships between parents and children. In this context, Santa is the parents’ little helper as they use the omnipotence and moral exactitude of Santa to reign in irascible children. The chemical imbalance is most often used in relationships between a doctor and a patient. In this context the doctor adopts the role of the wise sage and explains tirelessly and compassionately to the patient about their apparent neural deficiency. In this context the seemingly scientific “just like diabetes” sermon is delivered for the purpose of promoting compliance from sceptical, questioning, or otherwise wayward patients.

I intended this article to be a short satire using the similarities between Santa Claus and the chemical imbalance as a way of increasing awareness of the folly of adhering to this particular causal explanation of psychological distress. As I have proceeded, however, it is the differences that now appear more noteworthy to me. I described a contextual difference at the outset and, in closing, it seems appropriate to return to the differences as a way of emphasising the seriousness of the situation with which we are dealing.

Generally, most people, even little people, recognise that Santa is just a game. Children perhaps wholeheartedly believe in the story for a while but flaws in the narrative soon become apparent. The Santa Claus charade is of benefit to them, however, so they are likely to play along way past the time they could have legitimately exposed the deception so that they continue to enjoy a bountiful Festive Season.

Unfortunately, not nearly enough people recognise that the chemical imbalance is also a charade. The “mental illness is just like any other medical illness” has reached axiomatic proportions (Malla, Joober, & Garcia, 2015) despite the shakiness of its foundations. The uncritical acceptance of this idea by many people has had deleterious consequences which may well be the most important difference of all between the chemical imbalance and the Santa Claus fables.

Whether you do or do not believe in Santa Claus doesn’t really matter. People tend to figure out the way they most like to celebrate the festivals and occasions that are important to them and, often, these differences can be an interesting topic of discussion.

Whether you do or do not believe in the chemical imbalance, however, does matter. And it matters both ways. If people do accept a chemical imbalance explanation for their difficulties they may well be reassured initially but they may also then disregard psychological and social treatments (Malla et al., 2015) which could have beneficial effects for them. If they choose pharmacology as their only remedy they risk experiencing some of the damaging consequences of long term psychotropic medication use (Whitaker, 2010). If people don’t accept a chemical imbalance explanation, they may experience fractious relationships with their treating mental health professionals, they may be described as lacking insight, and they may become caught up in a cycle of “nonadherence” (Malla et al., 2015).

While it would be hard to imagine any stigma on a serious or wide-spread scale being associated with believing in Santa Claus, there is good evidence that medical explanations of mental illness such as the chemical imbalance idea are associated with stigma that is both serious and widespread. Malla et al. (2015) report that several well-conducted studies have concluded that when campaigns promote biological explanations for mental health problems this does not reduce stigma. Instead, people are less accepting of those with mental health problems and feel less positively towards them. This can include believing that people with mental health problems such as depression and schizophrenia are dangerous and unpredictable and the endorsement of an increased desire for social distance from these people (Read, Haslam, Sayce, & Davies, 2006; Speerforck, S., Schomerus, G., Pruess, S., & Angermeyer, M. C., 2014).

Believing in, and propagating, the chemical imbalance untruth does matter. It matters for a whole lot of reasons. While the comparison between Santa Claus and the chemical imbalance narrative is instructive, it should not distract from the damage that is done by continuing to promote the manifestation of psychological distress as attributable to out of balance brain chemicals.

People are controlling, autonomous agents. They experience difficulties when their ability to control the things that are important to them is blocked or disrupted (Carey, Mansell, & Tai, 2015). Promoting explanations that are consistent with the way people are designed will lead to more effective treatments and less stigma and other adversity for those who are psychologically distressed.

While Santa only visits once a year, the chemical imbalance hoax is always here. We can look on Santa’s benevolent arrival with whimsical indifference but that is not the case with the chemical imbalance. Like the impostor it is, it needs to be exposed and evicted. When that happens we might look forward to greatly enhanced mental health services for the people who seek what these services have to offer.

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References:

Carey, T. A., Mansell, W., & Tai, S. (2015). Principles-based counselling and psychotherapy: A Method of Levels approach. East Sussex: Routledge.

Gotzsche, P. (2015). Deadly psychiatry and organized denial. Copenhagen: People’s Press.

Healy, D. (2012). Pharmageddon. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Malla, A., Joober, R., & Garcia, A. (2015). “Mental illness is like any other medical illness”: A critical examination of the statement and its impact on patient care and society. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, 40(3), 147-50.

Moncrieff, J. (2009). The myth of the chemical cure: A critique of psychiatric drug treatment. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Purves, D., Augustine, G. J., Fitzpatrick, D., Katz, L. C., LaMantia, A. S., McNamara, J. O., & Williams, S. M. (2001). Neuroscience (2nd ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10957/

Read, J., Haslam, 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, 114(5), 303-18.

Ruddell, R. G., Mann, D. A., & Ramm, G. A. (2008). The function of serotonin within the liver. Journal of Hepatology, 48, 666-75.

Runkel, P. (2003). People as living things: The psychology of perceptual control. Hayward, CA: Living Control Systems Publishing.

Speerforck, S., Schomerus, G., Pruess, S., & Angermeyer, M. C. (2014). Different biogenetic causal explanations and attitudes towards persons with major depression, schizophrenia and alcohol dependence: Is the concept of a chemical imbalance beneficial? Journal of Affective Disorders, 168, 224-8.

Whitaker, R. (2010). Anatomy of an epidemic: Magic bullets, psychiatric drugs, and the astonishing rise of mental illness in America. New York: Broadway Paperbacks.

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

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160 COMMENTS

  1. “…there is good evidence that medical explanations of mental illness such as the chemical imbalance idea are associated with stigma that is both serious and widespread. Malla et al. (2015) report that several well-conducted studies have concluded that when campaigns promote biological explanations for mental health problems this does not reduce stigma.”

    I believe this. I’d say that the chemical imbalance explanation *promotes* stigma–in fact, it is stigmatizing, in and of itself–precisely because it is false, and the stigma becomes “you are chronically ill.” Not only is this a complete falsehood that ruins peoples’ lives, but this also makes current practices fraudulent and extremely dangerous, because they are so largely based on this false premise. The fact that it is an out and out lie is what makes it stigmatizing. It has also been a fantastic marketing tool, because it drums up quite a bit of business and it keeps clients hooked on drugs and the system for life.

    Moreover, professional “advocacy” agencies use ‘stigma reduction’ campaigns to encourage people to walk into the system and get “treatment,” and therefore, embody the stigma. What an over-the-top scam this whole thing is!

    Another difference in Santa Clause and chemical imbalance theory is that usually it’s just the kids who believe in Santa Clause, whereas adults believe the chemical imbalance myth. They will argue and fight about it, relationships are compromised and destroyed from this particular ” is it myth or real?” debate. It is extremely divisive and it triggers rage and hostility in people. While some kids might feel disillusioned when they discover that SC is a myth, the emotional triggers associated with the “chemical imbalance, real or not?” debate are much more profound and potentially sabotaging.

    “If people don’t accept a chemical imbalance explanation, they may experience fractious relationships with their treating mental health professionals, they may be described as lacking insight, and they may become caught up in a cycle of “nonadherence”

    Indeed, and that is called OPPRESSION–“either believe the lie I am telling you about you or there is something even more wrong with you, and I can make things very uncomfortable for you!” And it’s so common, and reprehensible, I believe. How can anyone offering this ultimatum possibly consider themselves a “healer”? That would be an excellent example of delusion and lack of self-insight. I wish there were some way this would be illegal, because it is adult bullying and abuse of power, pure and simple.

    Makes me wonder with what other myths are people walking around, believing them wholly and convinced as the way it is, whereas that is not at all the case–in fact, it’s usually the exact opposite, in reality. All sorts of things, I imagine…

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    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks for taking the time to reply. I’m sure there are lots of other myths that we have – sometimes without even being aware of it. An area I’ve done a lot of work in has to do with how much psychological therapy people need. There are lots of myths here about people needing 10 sessions to get better, or 12, or some other arbitrary number. The evidence is that most people only need a small number of sessions to get to where they want to be and a small number of people need many more. My approach has been to let patients tell me how many sessions they need rather than me telling them. It’s not a common approach though and one that is regarded unfavourably by some clinicians.

      Tim

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      • Hi Tim, thanks for the response. Our entire reality as projected by media and academia is, for the most part, illusory, to my mind. I believe that is why extreme distress is at epidemic proportion right now. People are really confused, and the examples on the political stage don’t offer us much good of anything. I think people are waking up to things that they are having a hard time reconciling, because all of our beliefs are being challenged these days. Hard to know what to believe, based on what we’re told. Especially about people, our leaders.

        Regardless of how long it takes to make this shift, for me, healing occurs when we learn to get our own information, to connect with the truth of our hearts and spirits, so that we do not have to depend on others. Anxiety and depression happen when we feel stuck in fear, and we lose our courage to speak our truth because we are not trusting the process. I think people can suffer from a sense of powerlessness at this point, which can feel devastating.

        Healing allows us to feel our power of creativity and manifesting. I think we can get pretty cranky when we feel that we cannot create what we need and desire. I think that’s what mostly causes distress, when we cannot drive our own creative process. If we’re not in control of our own process, then who is?

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        • Hi Alex,

          This resonates really strongly with my own approach. I base my work on a theory of control called Perceptual Control Theory (www.iapct.org; http://www.pctweb.org) and I’ve developed a therapy called the Method of Levels (www.methodoflevels.com.au) which helps people regain control of their own process. I think lack of control is at the heart of psychological distress. It is really hard to know what to believe but finding our own voice, and allowing others to have theirs, is, I think, a bit part of the solution.

          Tim

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        • “I think lack of control is at the heart of psychological distress.”

          Certainly when we are out to control others, we are setting ourselves up for profound distress and conflict. We have a great deal of influence over our life experience, based on our perspective and beliefs, but we cannot control the natural flow of things. We can try, but that’s what has led to the disaster we call “mainstream society.”

          Part of creating and manifesting is knowing when to surrender to the process of life, and when to act, from inspiration. When we learn to work with nature, rather than against it, we are free of the need to control anything but our own selves, which we can do by owning the choices we make, and being aware of what we gain or learn from each of them, step by step.

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  2. If you look at it as a supply and demand problem, there is a huge demand for the relief from distress, and a limited supply of remedies. So it is appealing to use a substitute like medications. It is like putting sawdust in bread when you don’t have enough flour. The question is why we don’t have enough flour?

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    • That’s a great question Karma! The supply and demand perspective is an interesting angle because some psychotropic medications can be taken as a remedy for one type of distress while at the same time creating other sorts of problems that other drugs are needed for so the kind of have supply and demand all wrapped up in one neat little pill!

      Tim

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  3. Tim

    You are a very good writer, and while using the Santa Claus analogy you have created a very damning exposure of the “chemical imbalance theory” and of those that propagate this Biological Psychiatry myth.

    I would love to label this an “excellent” blog and find ways to spread it far wide, but I CANNOT (and will not) do this for the following reasons: you continue to use the terms “medication,” “mental health”, and mental illness.” Please, please, please, justify for me why you should not rewrite this blog replacing “medication” with “psychiatric drugs” and why you should not place “mental health” and “mental illness” in quotations?

    Tim, You made the following statement:
    “Believing in, and propagating, the chemical imbalance untruth does matter. It matters for a whole lot of reasons. While the comparison between Santa Claus and the chemical imbalance narrative is instructive, it should not distract from the damage that is done by continuing to promote the manifestation of psychological distress as attributable to out of balance brain chemicals.”

    Every single argument you make in the above statement could also apply to the continued use of “medication,” and the use of “mental health” and “mental illness” without quotations. The overall harm done by these above terms is essentially NO LESS than the harm done by excepting and propagating the “chemical imbalance” theory for which you have correctly dissected.

    Medications treat cellular disease processes; mind altering psychiatric “drugs” alter human brain chemistry. Sometimes short term alterations may be helpful to some people (while overall harmful in the long term), but in no way does it change the scientific fact that they are essentially “drugs” not “medications.” And the terms “mental health” and “mental illness” are in their essence “Medical Model” terms that imply that out of the norm (or not so out of the norm) thoughts, emotions, and their resulting behaviors can somehow be declared “ill” and/or the more extreme term, “diseased.” Both the continued use of these terms, and especially the concepts they represent, harm millions of people and reinforce (on a daily basis) the existence of a very oppressive “mental health” System.

    The maturity of our current scientific and political understanding on the use of the terms “medication” vs “psychiatric drug” (and “mental illness” and “mental health”) is such that there is absolutely no longer (if there ever was) any rational reason to make harmful CONCESSIONS in our writings by accepting the continued use of these unscientific and politically backward terms. WE DENIGRATE, AND RENDER LESS PROFOUND, OUR ANALYSES BY CONTINUING TO MAKE THESE CONCESSIONS IN OUR USE OF TERMINOLOGY. THIS DAMAGE BEING DONE WILL NOT STOP HAPPENING UNTIL WE MAKE IT STOP HAPPENING!

    We are all better than this, and we all need to raise our standards of scientific and political critique to make greater strides in the movement against psychiatric abuse and to hasten the advance our historically necessary cause.

    Respectfully, Richard

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    • Richard, I think that I agree with everything you have written here, but why should Tim even bother to put the phrase “mental health” in quotes when MiA’s own troubling new tag line (“a community for remaking mental health”) doesn’t do that?

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      • It’s a good point Karma. I think we could all do a whole lot better with the language that we use. It’s also an area where we will all have difference standards about what is acceptable and appropriate. “Mental health”, for example, probably isn’t the greatest term in the world but I don’t find it hugely offensive. “Mental illness”, however, is a term I almost never use except if I’m referring to a specific context where that term is used. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians prefer to use the term “social and emotional wellbeing” and that sits pretty comfortably with me.

        For me, even having a forum where these sorts of ideas can be discussed is progress!

        Tim

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        • Tim,

          Maori have a similar context in which they view mental distress. They also have developed several of their own Maori-specific models of care (Te Whare Tapa Wha, etc…), which consider their own unique worldview, rather than base their healthcare on a westernized system.

          Regards, Nick.

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          • Hi Nick,

            Thanks for this. I don’t know a lot about the Maori approaches but there seems to be a lot of really positive things to the work they do. There are a small number of places in Australia where traditional healers work in health clinics alongside other health professionals.

            Tim

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        • I would preserve the individual’s right to hold unusual views as in you have a right to be mad. Disagreeing with such views, people bring in the mental health system to force a standardized view of “reality” on individuals seen as erring. I’m against such violence. No disagreement, no problem.

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          • I couldn’t agree more Frank. We need a world where people are a little more accepting of differences. It will be a great time when people can achieve the things that are important to them without preventing other people from doing the same thing.

            Tim

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        • “Mental health”, for example, probably isn’t the greatest term in the world but I don’t find it hugely offensive. “Mental illness”, however, is a term I almost never use except if I’m referring to a specific context where that term is used.

          Those who have been victimized by it consider it highly offensive. “Mental health” implies the existence of “mental illness.”

          I agree that MIA is setting a very poor (and confusing) example with the use of this term in its logo.

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          • I would suggest you’re not victimized by a term. You might have been victimized by health professionals in mental health services but very few of them are even called “mental health somethings”. There are certainly mental health nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, and so on. Are you of the opinion that if they weren’t called “mental health services” then you wouldn’t have been victimized?

            Tim

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          • The fact that you feel compelled to carry on this argument shows how much you have to learn, as “progressive” as you no doubt think you are. (This is a response to the comment below.) The use of medical and pseudo-medical terms vis. a vis. problems in living is a rationalization for drugging and other repressive psychiatric practices. The “chemical imbalance” lie is one part of this; you need to explore the rest and stop being so defensive.

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      • Uprising

        I have made it very clearly known to MIA leadership what my disagreements are with the use of “mental health” in the new MIA tagline. I hope others do so as well.

        Based on a very limited response, I am led to believe that this new tagline may still be a work in progress and not yet firmly set in stone. I truly hope this is the case.

        As to Tim Carey’s use of Medical Model terminology. I would hope that he formulates his own views based on the very best that science currently provides us, and not based on what others find it necessary to concede to doing. If he is truly open minded and uses his critical thinking skills as ruthlessly as he did while exposing the “chemical imbalance theory,” then he should come to see the importance of challenging the use of the term “medications” for psychiatric drugs and using “mental health” and “mental illness” without quotations.

        Thanks for your positive feedback.

        Richard

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        • Hi Richard,

          Unfortunately, what science has to offer isn’t that great! Psychiatry is not a empirical science, however much psychiatry and big pharma dress it up to be. Robert Whitaker’s books certainly highlight the points in regard to ghost-written research studies, data being left out of research findings, etc… Having been a mental health nurse for more than I care to remember in several countries around the globe, my qualitative understanding of human distress doesn’t necessarily require the level of control that many mental health system users around the world offer, does it? Yes, challenging the terms that you describe is important, yet it doesn’t happen overnight and takes a movement, not an individual.

          Regards, Nick.

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        • Hi Richard,

          We each have our own ideas about what will help to progress things. Are you saying that if I don’t come around to your way of thinking then I’m not “truly open minded” and not using my “critical thinking skills”? Hmmm. Doesn’t that seem like the very dogmatic medical attitude that we’re trying to change? I’m not sure that we’re going to change the situation by taking the same single-minded, authoritarian approach that seems to be so pervasive at the moment in mental health services.

          Tim

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          • Tim

            Here again you have mischaracterized my role and involvement in this dialogue by labeling me as “authoritarian” and “dogmatic” and “single-minded” because I have dared to challenged the inconsistencies in your analysis.

            You said:”Are you saying that if I don’t come around to your way of thinking then I’m not “truly open minded” and not using my “critical thinking skills”?

            No, Tim I would NOT characterize this dialogue in the above slanted way you describe. And is it fair for me to question whether or not you always react so defensively to someone who might point out inconsistencies in your thinking?

            Yes, I do hope you will become more scientifically accurate and consistent in using your “critical thinking” skills. Skills for which you have so adeptly and correctly made use of in critiquing the “chemical imbalance theory.” If you do not make these changes (over time) then I believe this historically important political movement we are building will soon pass you by and your many critical thinking skills (i have also read your other blogs as well) will be sorely missed.

            I believe you underestimate the impact of your use of Medical Model terminology with both your readers and the clients you serve in therapy. Your continued non-critical (in a thorough going way) use of the terms “mental illness” and “mental health” may have a negative impact on your clients in ways you are not even currently aware of. Think for a moment how powerful it would be to discuss, in great depth with your clients, the controversy over the use of these terms. The same is most definitely true for the debate about “medications” vs. psychiatric drugs.

            Yes, there are two sides to most controversies. It is NOT being “single-minded” and “authoritarian” to rigorously and passionately (using the very best of science) to argue for one particular side of the controversy over the other.

            One side of the conflict usually represents the forward motion of history and what represents the best way forward for the future of humanity. The other side usually represents maintaining the status quo and what will actually hold back the forward progress of history.

            This is so very true when looking at the battle over climate change and against its many deniers, and no less true (and important) when looking at the battle over the use of Medical Model terminology within the oppressive status quo of today’s “mental health” System.

            Richard

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          • Hi there Richard,

            I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re just not going to agree on this issue and I can’t see us bunkering down into our sides of the argument as being very useful for anything. I have lots of positive and productive things to turn my attention to as I’m sure you do too.

            All the best.

            Tim

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          • Are you saying that if I don’t come around to your way of thinking then I’m not “truly open minded” and not using my “critical thinking skills”? Hmmm. Doesn’t that seem like the very dogmatic medical attitude that we’re trying to change?

            No, it’s simply an obvious observation. If you don’t understand the fallacies of the medical model and the destructive nature of psychiatric labels you should be learning, not insulting those who try to point out your blind spots.

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          • My apologies for the fence sitting comment as I have misunderstood your use of the word medication. A lot of people reading the blog would understand medication as those drugs (marketed by pharmaceutical companies and prescribed by doctors) that interrupt a disease process or correct some physiological abnormality. If I understand you correctly this time round you use it in the broader sense as anything that someone can derive benefit from whether this is psychiatric drugs, alcohol, crystal meth or chocolate. In that case I would suggest you use the term “remedy” just to avoid confusion with actual medication.

            I think that we have made huge progress just because we have questioned and critisised the disease model and many professionals are no longer trapped in that narrative. To me the best example is the Division of Clinical Psychology (BPS) who has publicly stated the problems and limitations of the disease model – I live in hope that the Australian Psychological Society would one day wake up to that too

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          • Hi Gerard,

            Thanks for getting back to me. I find this whole discussion a bit mind-boggling really. This whole thing has arisen because I didn’t put quotations marks around three terms. I clearly just don’t see this as the priority that other people do. I think if you have a look at other articles I’ve posted on this blog you would get a sense of where I’m coming from. I think I do my fair share of questioning and criticising the disease model and, perhaps I’m kidding myself, but I don’t feel trapped in a disease model narrative. Like you, I think the BPS has made some great strides forward. I worked in the NHS in Scotland for 5 years and really liked a lot of what went on over there. I’m still a member of the BPS.

            Tim

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        • Hi Richard,
          How can I contact whomever chose/implemented these site format changes? The comment flow is totally confusing, and the tagline off-putting, and I find myself not accessing the site nearly as often as I used to, and I’d like to provide that feedback. Guidance please?

          Report comment

        • There appear to be a couple of very angry old men on here.

          A little ageism in the mix, that’s always fun.

          Nick, if you have specific objections to a particular line of reasoning you should articulate them. Right now this author is simply blowing off challenges to his world view, so maybe you can help him dig out of this.

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          • Individuals who express an opinion other than yours or mine, are entitled to do so, even if we don’t agree. The author has a right to “blow off challenges to his world view”, just as you do. Its the way in which you articulate those views that appears to express your anger. Whether that is accurate or not, as well as my assertion that Richard and yourself are angry old men, is merely a suggestion of my take on your responses. I enjoyed reading Tim’s article, and I am sure that he is proud of his work, as you probably are of your work, or Richard is of his work. Getting into conflict because Tim chose to use quotations is rather petty and doesn’t persuade me to agree with you. I am more persuaded by Tim’s argument.

            “Regards”, Nick.

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          • Nickfitz

            I proudly plead guilty to both charges. I have no control over my age nor do you. And maybe if you post more here at MIA other readers will eventually be able to determine whose ideas (including yours) are actual “young,” that is, innovative and creative enough to contribute towards transforming the world into a less oppressive place to live.

            And yes, I am angry because I live in a world filled with trauma and multiple kinds of oppression, and I cannot, and will not ignore it.

            Are you NOT angry? If you are NOT angry then you are not alive with both your eyes and heart wide open.

            There is nothing wrong with anger (in fact we need more anger not less in this world) it is what we do with it, or how we express or channel the anger that is so important in making positive change.

            Now having said that, I will ask you the same question that I asked Tim (which he repeatedly refused to answer), what words or phrases did I write in ANY of my comments that were disrespectful or represented out of control anger or any other negative label (such as Tim used) that you might wish to give them, OR deserved your very flip and sarcastic remark about anger and age???

            Richard

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          • Reply to Nick (and yes this format is frustrating as LavenderSage said):

            Yes, he has the “right” to remain completely silent except when people are telling him how great he is. But that’s not what discourse is supposed to be about.

            The argument is not simply about his not using quotations; this is just an expression of his obvious acceptance of the medical model. But he refuses to respond to any of the very basic criticisms Richard makes about this except in an arrogant and dismissive way. He has no standing intellectually or morally to do this, as Richard has demonstrated his integrity repeatedly and Carey has not.

            It is no more Carey’s “right” to call people “mentally ill” than it is your or my right to call someone a [insert racial slur here]. And calling mind-numbing drugs “medications” when there is no disease is not only inaccurate but oppressive. It’s chilling to know this guy “treats” people.

            I actually liked the thrust of the article btw, and was about to send it around when I noticed the attitude he was taking towards Richard’s very basic and obvious criticisms. When he began responding even more dismissively and insultingly, the issue changed from enjoying some entertaining (though certainly not unique) observations on the chemical imbalance hoax to defending the anti-psychiatry movement against some loaded and self-serving put-downs by a “mental health” worker. Yeah, that makes me angry. Got a problem with that?

            Also I just realized you are not a psychiatrized person yourself, so I don’t expect you to grasp this, but you could try.

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    • Hi Richard,

      It’s disappointing that you don’t find my article excellent because I didn’t put quotation marks around the terms “mental health”, “mental illness”, and “medication”. I didn’t do that because that the language that is used at the moment. I don’t ordinarily put quotation marks around all made up things I discuss like mermaids, unicorns, Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, lovesickness, heartbreak, and so on. I think I used the term “mental illness” twice in the article. Once it was actually used in quotation marks and on the second occasion I used it in this context “medical explanations of mental illness”. I didn’t use quotes here because, regardless of how erroneous we think it is, that’s what medical explanations are explanations of.

      I also didn’t put quotation marks around “medication” because psychotropic medication is medication. It might be highly problematic medication but it’s still medication. I’m actually not anti-medication. I’m anti mis-information. I think the big problem is that many people are misinformed about the benefits and harms of psychotropic medication. I like to keep in mind, however, that some people take psychotropic medication and experience benefits from it and are happy to keep taking it. In my zeal to inform people about the mis-information surrounding psychotropic medication I don’t want to be disrespectful to these people who have just as much right to take psychotropic medication as other people should have not to take it.

      When I’m discussing my own perspective on mental health problems I refer to them as “psychological distress” but when I’m referring to the context in which services are delivered I generally use the term “mental health problems”.

      We’re definitely on the same page with wanting to raise the bar in terms of our scientific and political standards. In pursuit of these higher standards I do find it curious that you would withhold this otherwise “excellent” article because it doesn’t have as many quotation marks as you would prefer.

      It’s these kinds of differences that make life so interesting.

      Tim

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      • Richard is absolutely correct, and you are being totally clueless with your use of these terms. If Jack Daniels is medication to you then fine, at least that would be consistent. But something makes me doubt you’d make that leap. Without quotation marks around these terms you are essentially engaging in hate speech, so please don’t take this so lightly.

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        • Really? In the context of a discussion about the language we use, you would call me “totally clueless” because I don’t share Richard’s opinion for the way terms are used. I note, also, that you didn’t put quotation marks around “totally clueless” so I’m assuming you literally mean “totally” as in “wholly, completely, entirely” and “clueless” as in “ignorant, uninformed, unaware”. So, I’m entirely uninformed and “engaging in hate speech” simply because I didn’t put quotation marks around the word “medication”. And because of this you make the assumption that “Jack Daniels is medication to you”.
          Amazing.
          Tim

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        • Tim

          BTW, Oldhead is one of my favorite commenters at MIA and I consider him a close comrade in the struggle against psychiatric abuse. But I agree that his use of the phrase “totally clueless” was inappropriate and not helpful in the context of this important dialogue. However his use of the analogy comparing psych drugs to alcohol is worth pursuing in this overall discussion.

          Richard

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      • Tim

        Thanks for responding.

        You said: “I didn’t do that [use quotes around these terms] because that the language that is used at the moment. I don’t ordinarily put quotation marks around all made up things I discuss like mermaids, unicorns, Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, lovesickness, heartbreak, and so on.”

        First off, just because it is the “…language used at the moment.” is NOT a good reason to continue using unscientific and harmful language. Would you say the same thing about continuing to use racist or sexist language that certain backward people still want to use today? Challenging and changing the old language is part of the Revolution that needs to happen if we are going to change the world.

        And there is a world outlook of a difference (in both meaning and political impact) between using the word “mermaid” and the word “schizophrenic”; the latter is infinitely more oppressive when repeated as if it is a real entity with scientific meaning to back it up. Talk to someone who was given this label and told they will have this “disease” and need to be on major tranquilizers for the rest of their life, and then lost years of their life to this myth which became so much of a part of their self identity during this period of time.

        You said: “I also didn’t put quotation marks around “medication” because psychotropic medication is medication.”

        Is this not the equivalent of saying a statement like “mental diseases are diseases.” Both statements lack any scientific credibility and create real harm in the real world.

        Biological Psychiatry, in collusion with Big Pharma, are the ones (going back 40 -50 years ago) who declared psychotropic drugs to be “medications” and declared that people who experience extreme paranoia or hear voices etc. should be diagnosed with the “disease” called “schizophrenia.”

        Where is the science to back up the declaration that mind altering psychiatric drugs are “medications,” or that there is the basis to declare bizarre (bizarre if you are NOT aware of the details of the person’s narrative) behavior and thoughts as a “mental disease?” Is this not the same wishful thinking and speculation that led to the creation of the myth of “chemical imbalances?”

        Doesn’t Psychiatry and Big Pharma have enormous vested interests in propagating the belief that SSRI’s, benzos and neuroleptic drugs are somehow just like “medications” acting as “magic bullets” targeting and correcting “chemical imbalances” in the brain?

        You are NOT disrespecting someone taking these drugs by avoiding the term “medication.” On the contrary, if they were to ask you why you avoid that term this could become a great opportunity to educate people about the true nature of these drugs with ALL their (sometimes) immediate benefits AND long term costs/harm etc.

        And BTW, I am not anti-drug; sometimes mind altering drugs can play a useful role for some people, especially in the short term. But let’s call them what they actually are, not what some people may WANT them to be, for what ever agenda it may serve.

        You said: “…I do find it curious that you would withhold this otherwise “excellent” article because it doesn’t have as many quotation marks as you would prefer. It’s these kinds of differences that make life so interesting.”

        This has NOTHING to do with what I “prefer” or someone else’s personal “preferences.” This is not about choosing chocolate over vanilla or somehow celebrating the variety of “differences” in life. This is about unscientific and harmful language that is part of the very foundation upon which Biological Psychiatry was constructed and now reinforces and justifies all the harm carried out in its oppressive “mental health” System.

        Respectfully, Richard

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        • Actually Richard, this is ALL about preferences. You have a particular recipe for advancing the revolution, I have a different one. So you will not grant me the right to pursue the revolution in the way I think it should pursued. Hmmm. That seems a lot like a mental health professional not letting a patient determine the way they would like to be treated.

          Difference doesn’t necessarily mean wrong.

          Tim

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          • Tim

            As a survivor of the “mental health” system I prefer to not call these chemicals that are used to supposedly treat those of us who’ve experienced some kind of psychological or emotional distress as “medications”. They do not treat an illness of any real kind and they certainly don’t cure anything. They do act as great tranquilizers with many distressing and bad effects.

            I prefer to call them drugs and leave it at that. Yes, some people seem to find them beneficial but for the majority they cause a large number of difficulties.

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          • Thanks Stephen. I appreciate you taking the time to explain your position.

            I completely agree that the psychotropic drugs that are used as medication in the mental health industry do not treat illnesses and don’t “cure” anything. Your point about having a particular preference for the word you would choose to use is well taken.

            To be honest, I wasn’t even aware I had a preference until posting this article. I’m still not sure that I do. I think the words I use depend very much on the context. I’ve been really surprised that the focus of this article for some people has been on a particular word or term.

            To put it in context, the article has 1902 words. Of those, the word “medication” is used 5 times. Twice when it is used it is used as “psychotropic medication” and on the the other three occasions it is used it is being discussed in the context of what mental health service providers frequently try to do from the perspective of the chemical imbalance nonsense.

            I’m sorry that the use of the term “medication” seems to have offended some people but I’m probably even more disappointed that the focus on that term seems to have distracted a lot of discussions from the main point of the article. I think it would be very hard, based on the content of the article, to justify the idea that I support the notion of mental health disorders as “illnesses” or that I’m an advocate for the biomedical model of conceptualising and treating psychological distress.

            Tim

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          • Tim

            This damned new posting system is aggravating. Anyway, I appreciate what you’re saying about what the main point of your article is. Sometimes I think that the system has done such injustice and damage to people that we go through things with a fine tooth comb. Words are important and there’s a desire to have everyone on the same page saying the same things but this does cut out the wiggle room that we all need in expressing our ideas. I just try to take what works for me from a posting or an article and not get too caught up with the things that don’t agree exactly with my individual viewpoints. There’s more that unites us, when it comes right down to it, than what separates us. Thanks for writing.

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        • Tim

          You said: “So you will not grant me the right to pursue the revolution in the way I think it should pursued. Hmmm. That seems a lot like a mental health professional not letting a patient determine the way they would like to be treated.”

          I believe that I have conducted this discussion in a very respectful and non-authoritarian way. Please tell me one word or phrase I used in any of my comments that deserves to be characterized negatively in the way you have in the above comment.

          You just implied (and stated) that I am “denying” you the “right” to believe in a certain way. And that I might also be carrying out the same form of repressive actions with the clients I see in therapy. I would call this a serious mischaracterization of my words and a denigration of my purpose in this particular dialogue. I hope you will again reconsider your words very carefully.

          Yes, I have seriously challenged your use of certain highly politically charged (and unscientific) terms. Is this not how we all learn and transform our thinking? If you can stop the defensiveness maybe this dialogue can proceed in a helpful way. I myself, on many occasions, have had my words written at MIA challenged in the comment section (and by email), and in some instances this has led to very positive and profound changes in my thinking. And yes quite often I was also initially defensive when first challenged.

          Once again I will say that Big Pharma and Psychiatry spent billions of dollars over several decades promoting the false narrative of the “chemical imbalance theory” that can be “fixed” and “corrected” and/or “medicated” by psychiatric drugs thus “curing” the brain “diseases/disorders” that have specific labels set forth in their DSM Bible.

          Tim, you have carried out, in a ruthless and uncompromising way, a powerful critique (which I wholeheartedly support) of the “chemical imbalance theory.”

          Unfortunately, you have have found it necessary to concede Biological Psychiatry certain key aspects (use of the terms “medications,” “mental health,” and “mental illness”) within the other two thirds of their dangerous and mythical narrative. Is it not extremely important for people to point these inconsistencies in your analysis? How is it being “authoritarian” for me or others to do so?

          Richard

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      • Good Day Tim, entertaining article, but you lost me on the medication part of psychotropic medication. We all know about the problematic side of these drugs, but please explain how people are “medicated” when using it, that is, treated for a disease? Also, if you are not anti-medication, please let us know for which diseases and disorders should medication be taken then and what are the benefits you are referring to? I don’t believe you can be a fence sitter like you are on this issue

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      • I wish these threads would put things in the order they are stated.

        So let’s get this clear Mr. Carey — You don’t like the term “mental illness” so much but you consider psychiatric drugs “medications” for an “illness”?

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      • Hi Richard,

        We agree! We have no control over our ages!! I post as I am able, and to issues of interest. I guess your idea of being innovative and transformational are different to mine. I don’t necessarily need to be angry to achieve change, rather a more pragmatic approach, where emotions are contained.

        ” Are you NOT angry? If you are NOT angry then you are not alive with both your eyes and heart wide open”. I disagree, I can be quiet and reserved and be alive with my eyes and heart open wide, as you suggest (or did you plagiarize that statement?)

        There is nothing wrong with anger (in fact we need more anger not less in this world) it is what we do with it, or how we express or channel the anger that is so important in making positive change. Again, we don’t need more anger, we need more humanity, which I assume you are trying to promote, by reducing oppression??

        Now having said that, I will ask you the same question that I asked Tim (which he repeatedly refused to answer), what words or phrases did I write in ANY of my comments that were disrespectful or represented out of control anger or any other negative label (such as Tim used) that you might wish to give them, OR deserved your very flip and sarcastic remark about anger and age??? Who said anything about ‘out of control anger”? And to add an extra hint of sarcasm, it is “flippant”, rather than “flip”!!

        Good luck and best wishes for your future anger-filled change and transformation!

        Nick.

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        • Nickfitz

          You said:”Good luck and best wishes for your future anger-filled change and transformation!”

          Is this how you want to conduct dialogue at MIA by using arrogant sarcasm and English lessons to mischaracterize and denigrate other people’s viewpoints? Your arrogance in the above comment matches similar comments made to me at the end of several responses from Tim Carey, the author of this blog. You apparently share several things in common.

          I find it hard to believe that you never get angry and always function in an emotionally “contained” and “pragmatic” manner. It may reflect why your views do not contain a sense of urgency for overcoming oppression in the world, and you look down upon those whose emotional responses to this oppression might contain anger. Or perhaps you channel all your alienation and anger into the passive AGGRESSIVE forms of sarcasm and put downs such as above.

          Of course the world needs more humanity. If you read any of my writings here at MIA (including the body of my comments) or were aware of the content of my work for several decades, you might become aware that human compassion and love is the foundation and driving force of my motivation for change.

          But Nickfitz you labeled me an “angry old man,” so I addressed the issue of “anger” not the issue of the need for more humanity in the world. And when I called you on it and asked you to justify your remark about anger your reply dodged the issue and focused on the fact that I added the words “out of control” (which I thought was your implied meaning).

          So again, why the original comment about anger, and what was wrong with my political critique of Tim.C’s blog?

          Richard

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          • Hi Richard,

            I’m jumping in here to clarify one last point here. I was waiting until the previous comments had been restored but that doesn’t look like happening soon. In one of my last posts I wished you all the best with your revolution and you replied saying it was “dripping” with arrogance (or some other similar term. I can’t remember exactly which one it was). Here again in this post you refer to my arrogance. I wanted to post this just to emphasise that, when I sent that comment, I had no intent other than wishing you the best for you in terms of where you’d like to head. There was no arrogance “dripping” from the words when I clicked on “Post Comment”. All you got were words on a screen Richard so if there was arrogance dripping from the message that was your interpretation. But it is our inability to even agree on simple matters like that that reveals the huge gulf there is between us in how we communicate and what we communicate about. Again, that’s not written from a position of arrogance or superiority. It’s just an observation of the pattern of communication with this article. It’s for that reason that I can’t see any purpose in us continuing our conversation. That doesn’t mean I think you’re bad or inferior or unworthy it just means I think we have different priorities. I genuinely hope you’re able to bring about the change you’d like to see. I genuinely hope I’ll be able to do that as well.

            I can’t type it any more clearly than that. That’s where I’m coming from.

            Over and out.

            Tim

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  4. Tim,

    A great article that has been well written and shows how much of the chemical imbalance narrative is actually a joke. I’ve just been reading an article by Robles and colleagues (2016) that argues against the inclusion of transgender into the next ICD-11 as a classified mental disorder. It amazes me that the World Health Organization that promotes social inclusion and destigmatization, actually promotes an individuals expression of “being” as a mental disorder. Sufficed to say, the APA already have a ready-made classification in the DSM-V, so no surprises there! Again, a great post that I enjoyed immensely so close to christmas. A real christmas tale!!

    Regards, Nick.

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  5. They are both justified as “Noble Lies”? The difference being that only one results in brain damage and cycles of addiction and withdrawal symptoms that get labelled as illness and disease, which results in cycles of addiction and withdrawal symptoms that ….. oh you get the picture.

    Satan’s Goat is certainly in Town, and pretending to be a Doctor lol.

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  6. In July of 2015. it was discovered that I got type 2 diabetes, By the end of the July month. I was given a prescription for the Metformin, I stated with the ADA diet and followed it completely for several weeks but was unable to get my blood sugar below 140, Without results whatever I did, I really panicked and called my doctor. His response?? Deal with it yourself, I started to feel that something wasn’t right and do my own research, Then I found Lisa’s great blog (google ” HOW I FREED MYSELF FROM THE DIABETES ” ) .. I read it from cover to cover and I started with the diet and by the next morning. my blood sugar was 100, Since then. I get a fasting reading between the mid 70s and 80s, My doctor was very surprised at the results that. the next week. he took me off the Metformin drug, I lost 35 pounds in my two month and lost more than 8 inches off my own waist as well as I can exercise twice per day and still having a lot of energy.The truth is that we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods..

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    • Elaine, congratulations on your success but unfortunately, the site you have suggested is nothing but an infomercial.

      As an alternative, I would suggest people google ketogenic or high fat, low carb diet in which there is plenty of free information. Many people have had great success using this diet to get the same results as you did.

      I would also suggest that people go to https://lowcarbrn.wordpress.com/ to educate yourself on the issues of metabolic problems and why this type of diet works very well for alot of people.

      Do agree that ADA diet is a disaster. They remind me of psychiatry because of their continuing to push high carb diets that are destroying diabetics’ health. Their attitude is it can be covered my medications which makes it all the more disgusting.

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  7. I’m thinking now that “chemical imbalance” is a cover-up to avoid the real imbalance which causes distress–social imbalance. Society blames certain individuals and most individuals blame society. Problem is, we’re all connected. The biggest myth in life is that we are separate from each other.

    I think the majority of the people on the planet recognize by now that we are, indeed, unified by one all-that-is energy field/consciousness. There is quite a bit of study and research about this with fascinating results, it has gone way beyond “philosophical” and “new agey.” And it’s a Godsend of wisdom, because it is a radical shift in perspective from how the mainstream operates, in duality, which is what creates othering and marginalization, like the scarlet letter, leading to grave social injustice, oppression, and a lot of suffering, without a doubt.

    So do individuals create society or does society create its members? What is the dominant factor in our development as human beings? How can harmony and clarity come from all this social chaos? Harmony is easier on the ears, and on the body and mind in general, than are discord and cacophony. That’s what is stressful. And when it is chronic, it is dangerous to our health and well-being.

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    • Thanks, “Alex”! I like what you wrote, so let me add: (This comes from my readings in Mahayana Buddhism – that Dalai Lama guy!) Dualism exists, and we CAN reconcile it peacefully. Strong healthy people create strong healthy societies. Strong healthy societies create strong healthy persons. It works BOTH ways, it is NOT “one way or the other” – it is BOTH/AND. Sometimes, we influence society, and sometimes, it influences us. We need to find, and CREATE, and PERPETUATE, peace in BOTH ourselves, AND society. I always enjoy your comments here. Thnx again! ~B./

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      • Hi Bradford,

        I really like the way you’ve expressed this. The mutually interdependent, bidirectional nature of influences is really important isn’t it? All of my work is based on the idea of circular, rather than lineal, causality which very much speaks to these ideas as well. At the same time that we are influencing we are also influenced. It’s a very cool concept!

        Tim

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        • In my years of effort recovering from alcoholism, with the 12 Steps of A.A., we learn that is really our *relationships* which are unhealthy, and at root of our troubles. Our relationships with alcohol / drugs, with ourselves, and with others. By looking deeply at these relationships, we see what ways WE can change for the better, and so bring better cards to the table. We’re more likely to “win”, when we play a better hand, in better ways. The current “blame-the-victim” mentality of psychiatry does more harm than good. The psychs actually create stigma by labeling. ALL of the so-called “mental illnesses” in the DSM-5 were INVENTED, (NOT “discovered”….), as excuses to write Rx’s, to $ell Drug$….to make money for PhRMA, and the shrinks. Psychiatry is nothing more than 21st century Phrenology, with toxic drugs. And yes, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse in childhood – “developmental traumas” – to say nothing of violence or sexual abuse, are MOST of the roots of MOST of what’s later mis-diagnosed as so-called “mental illnesses”.

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          • Hi Bradford,

            Yes, the invention of the DSM (I’ve suggested elsewhere that this might stand for “Damn Smoke n Mirrors”) categories is a big part of the problem. The importance of things like current relationships and past trauma is ever so slowly being recognised but there’s a mountain to move when it comes to industry of diagnosing and medicating.

            It’s great to have a forum like this where we can communicate our ideas and perspectives on these issues and help to keep the ground swell swelling 🙂

            Tim

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        • I agree with you both that’s it’s a matter of interdependence. However, we can only control ourselves, not others, so when we master self-control, then we are in charge of how we influence society, and we choose whether to influence it from love, fear, anger, etc., depending on what we project outward. What we put out comes back to us, that’s the nature of energy. And what we put out starts from within.

          No, it is not linear, it is multi-dimensional. The signal from an antenna ripples in all directions. From what I understand, we, as humans, put out signals in the exact same way. We are senders and receivers of energy signals, way above and beyond simply speaking words to each other. Our thoughts and feelings are energy, and they influence everything about us, whether we disclose our thoughts and feelings or not. I think everyone is pretty transparent these days, one way or another. Those veils of non-disclosure are lifting, from what I’ve observed.

          We are multi-dimensional beings, not linear. Linearity is based on limited perception. Awakening is about perceiving our multi-dimensional nature. That’s a whole new ballgame of life, as it speaks to our creative process as limitless, universally, when we can perceive it as such.

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          • Plus, we do not have to let society influence us if it not an influence we want. We have boundaries we can develop, to where if we want to feel love, joy, and peace in our lives, and we live in a violent fear-based world (as we do), then we can create boundaries and seniority to the fear, and not allow it to influence us. That is, we can connect with a really broad and compassionate perspective, regardless of anything, when we choose to do so.

            That is life-mastery and self-mastery, and in turn, our insistence on feeling good despite the crap around us will outweigh the negativity, if we can hold to our center and stand our ground. It will be tested, and of course we can get triggered, that is human. But if we are aligned with our intention to feel good and stay focused on that, without being distracted by attempts to interfere with that, then the trigger will be guidance toward further evolution, and we will pass that test, and self-love has won out. That would be a very positive influence on society, I believe.

            If enough people were to insist on feeling good about themselves, to make that a priority, and not let society fuel our fears and doubts, I believe that would, in turn, eventually crush all the corruption and saboteurs, because we, as individuals, would not be allowing negativity to influence us, and everything would come to light. That’s my vision, in any event.

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  8. Even on wikipedia BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY is pseudo science,
    dealing with serotonin imbalance hypothesis-is proposed explain
    for phenomenon named depression.There is also this dopamine
    and glutamat hypothesis-proposed explain for really infamous
    phenomenon named Schizophrenia.

    Biological psychiatry and chemical imbalance are fraud and myth.
    Science treat my crazy kind,like their lives are phenomenon.This
    isn’t only psychiatry+ big pharma madeup.You are all to focused
    on both of them,but other parts of medecine and science are very
    connected in this dirty fraud.Existence mentality or mental illness is
    completly against biology and evolution.Also psychology was once
    based on brains-mind connection.Now is on brains-mentality lie.
    Simple is to make conclusion,that psychology do this in support
    of Mental Health system and in support and for existence of fictional
    mental illness.Some can also say,that psychology architect Mental
    Health system.At least many psychologists act as pharmacy gurues.

    Sorry for my bad english and to Author good post,but we all really need
    wider display of phenomenon named mental illness.

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  9. It’s a shame that in the process of process of debunking the chemical imbalance myth this author feels the need to respond to very basic criticisms of his use of medical model labels in such a defensive and hostile/passive-aggressive manner. In the process he basically disses the anti-psychiatry movement and its analyses of the medical model, especially when Richard Lewis politely points out Mr. Carey’s oppressive use of labeling terminology. To this he basically responds that he’ll use whatever terms he chooses, no matter how offensive or inaccurate. This attitude diminishes the value of this article, as it is clear that the writer is interested only in promoting his own ideas, regardless of their validity.

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    • ….even acknowledging a supposed “anti-psychiatry movement” give the pseudoscience of psychiatry more credibility than it deserves….it’s a form of “false flag” argument….
      So-called “mental illnesses” have no OBJECTIBVE reality, only subjective….
      They are exactly as “real” as presents from Santa Claus are “real”….
      Check my comment history here….
      I’ve been posting that for many, many months now….

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  10. Tim

    Oh, so now you want to bale out on this discussion without addressing ANY of my criticisms of the way you mischaracterized my responses to your using highly charged words (like “authoritarian,” “dogmatic”, and “single-minded”) to describe both my ideas and the way I conduct political discourse at MIA, and even implying that this might be how I would treat a client of mine.

    And then you have to throw in the zinger at the end that you have better use for your time then to engage in dialogue with the likes of someone like me.

    I will repeat a previous question I raised in a prior comment: “I believe that I have conducted this discussion in a very respectful and non-authoritarian way. Please tell me one word or phrase I used in any of my comments that deserves to be characterized negatively in the way you have…”

    If you can explain to me where I somehow became disrespectful or “authoritarian” I will seriously listen, for I do NOT want to EVER become like that. And in the spirit of “criticism/self-criticism,” I would hope you would be also be open to taking another look at your defensive responses in several of your comments where you directed negative labels towards me without foundation.

    I spent a great deal of effort engaging in very respectful and principled dialogue with you explaining in great detail why I could not rate your blog as “excellent” and where I thought there were significant enough inconsistencies in some of your arguments that prevented me from wanting to spread widely your overall analysis.

    I liked many aspects of your blog and told you so, and even resorted to a kind of begging by saying “please, please, please” justify why you shouldn’t make some changes in the content related to three key points so as to improve its overall political impact. I sincerely wanted this blog to become better and a more useful tool in the struggle against Biological Psychiatry.

    Tim, I take my reputation at MIA, reflected both in the content of my more than a dozen blogs, and also regarding the way I conduct dialogue within the comment section, very seriously. If you choose to disengage at this time, after making comments that I believe denigrate my reputation with no willingness to substantiate the use of your negative labels, I will have lost all respect at this time for your participation here. Please reconsider this, for this doe not and should not end like this.

    Respectfully, Richard

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  11. Hi Richard,

    From my perspective our conversation has been characterised by misinterpreting each other’s email. I can’t see a way to correct that so my solution is to leave things alone.

    In the most recent exchange, for example, I wrote “If there are things that are useful in this discussion you then that’s terrific. It’s gone way past being productive or useful for me.”

    To which you replied “And then you have to throw in the zinger at the end that you have better use for your time then to engage in dialogue with the likes of someone like me.”

    So my idea of respectfully allowing us both to do what we’d like to do is an insult to you with the implication that I don’t want “to engage in dialogue with the likes of someone like me.”

    I think it’s worth remembering that this whole discussion has arisen because my use of the terms “mental health”, “mental illness”, and “medication” didn’t match the way you thought I should be using those terms. Because I didn’t use quotation marks in the way that you thought I should there have been statements like “This is about unscientific and harmful language that is part of the very foundation upon which Biological Psychiatry was constructed and now reinforces and justifies all the harm carried out in its oppressive “mental health” System.”; “making comments that I believe denigrate my reputation”; “totally clueless”; “you have have found it necessary to concede Biological Psychiatry certain key aspects (use of the terms “medications,” “mental health,” and “mental illness”) within the other two thirds of their dangerous and mythical narrative”; “Every single argument you make in the above statement could also apply to the continued use of “medication,” and the use of “mental health” and “mental illness” without quotations. The overall harm done by these above terms is essentially NO LESS than the harm done by excepting and propagating the “chemical imbalance” theory for which you have correctly dissected.” and; “The maturity of our current scientific and political understanding on the use of the terms “medication” vs “psychiatric drug” (and “mental illness” and “mental health”) is such that there is absolutely no longer (if there ever was) any rational reason to make harmful CONCESSIONS in our writings by accepting the continued use of these unscientific and politically backward terms. WE DENIGRATE, AND RENDER LESS PROFOUND, OUR ANALYSES BY CONTINUING TO MAKE THESE CONCESSIONS IN OUR USE OF TERMINOLOGY. THIS DAMAGE BEING DONE WILL NOT STOP HAPPENING UNTIL WE MAKE IT STOP HAPPENING!”

    This is clearly a topic you feel very strongly about. I don’t feel as strongly about the use of quotation marks in this manner. I think you should be able to conduct the revolution in the way that you think it will be most effective and I think I should be able to do the same thing. We just have different views on this that’s all. I don’t think your view is wrong, it’s just different. From everything you’ve written I think it’s safe to conclude that you think my view (with regard to the use of quotation marks) is wrong. I don’t think there’s anything I can do about that. That’s why I’m bowing out of the conversation.

    I really do hope you get the revolution you’re after.

    Tim

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  12. Tim

    Ok, you have finally exhausted me since you choose not to directly respond to any of the questions I have asked you to defend, especially those in which you used negative labels to describe me and my methods of political discourse.

    I must point out (once again) that in the context of this entire discussion the use of quotations for key terminology is not a minor or trivial matter as you have recently implied in your last few comments. These involve hugely important and highly contested issues that will surely be discussed and debated for years to come.

    And as for my comment about your “zinger” regarding having better things to do than dialogue with me, this was in response to your joint response to Oldhead and myself where you stated the following:
    “Hi Richard and Oldhead,
    I’ll have to bow out of this one. If there are things that are useful in this discussion you then that’s terrific. It’s gone way past being productive or useful for me.”

    Tim, I clearly get the message that you believe you could learn nothing of importance by dialoguing with me. I guess I wasted my time with you, but I do hope others were listening.

    And you should be more careful about attributing a quote to me, involving the use of the phrase “totally clueless,” which, in fact, was made by Oldhead.

    And if you would carefully read all the comments here, you would know that I was not hesitant to criticize Oldhead twice for using this arrogant phrase, which I believe was NOT helpful in promoting positive dialogue in this discussion.

    And finally, your very last little diddy of a comment to me was quite passively arrogant. You said:”I really do hope you get the revolution you’re after.”

    Do you not see the arrogance dripping from this comment? As if the whole concept of “Revolution” is a personal matter aimed at pleasing someone’s individual agenda. And in this case (based on your prior comments about me), my supposed narrow and “dogmatic” approach to political change for which you declared without foundation or substance to back up the personal sleight.

    “Dare to struggle, Dare to Win” Richard

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  13. Thank you for writing this really insightful article. The portion on culture and Westernizing the definition of extreme states really spoke to me.

    I hope those on the fence of the debate, the ones willing to change their minds, read what you have to say.

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  14. Tim,
    WHAT!…No Santa….I’m shocked. A very cleverly written piece, I must say; you can only hope that a little Fiction Dust will fall over the Facts of the matter. You claim that a chemical imbalance in the brain is a myth. Here is an ‘inconvenient truth’ that you must address. Researchers have found that Children with ADHD, can be treated successfully with stimulant medication, which allows them to function at ‘near normal behavior’ levels. Here is how it works:

    Stimulants are Dopamine re-uptake inhibitors. Kids with ADHD have ‘lower than normal’ levels of dopamine in their brain. The re-uptake inhibitors work by interrupting the normal flow of dopamine in the neuronal synapse. Normally, unused dopamine flows back to the pre-synapse to be used again. The inhibitors block the pathway back to the pre-synapse and trap the dopamine in the neuronal cleft. The Child now has sufficient dopamine available throughout the effective period of the stimulant medication.
    Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) work basically the same way.

    Clinical Depression and Schizophrenia are conditions where the brain has ‘too much’ dopamine available. The treatment for these conditions is anti-psychotics. They work By blocking the dopamine receptor cells in the brain.

    So you see Tim, it is because of chemical imbalance in the brain that Big Pharma is making billions of $$$$$$. Fortunately there are many non-chemical ways to control Dopamine and serotonin levels. I do not advocate chemical intervention due to adverse
    Side effects. I have read about ADHD cases, so far out of control, that chemical Intervention was necessary just to regain control of the child. The goal, however, should Be a non-chemical treatment plan. Harvard Prof. John Ratey has written an excellent Book “SPARK”, that describes how to increase dopamine and serotonin levels through
    Exercise.

    Chet

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    • Hi Chet,

      I appreciate you posting this information but, from my perspective, there’s nothing here to address. Identify people as having a particular “disorder” and then looking for things they might have in common that help to explain the disorder is exactly the reverse of the logic that is needed. Demonstrating that people experience some benefits when they take various medications does not provide any support for the chemical imbalance idea. If that were the case then headaches would be caused by a panadol deficiency and the people who report benefits from taking lithium would be experiencing a lithium deficiency.

      Like I said in my article, the chemical deficiency is created after the medications are ingested. So, in a way, you’re very correct. It is because of a chemical imbalance that Big Pharma is making billions of dollars. It’s an iatrogenic chemical imbalance caused by the chemicals.

      I think approaches that attempt to “regain control of the child” are actually part of the problem. My perspective is that people need to control the things that are important to them not be controlled by others. When children are behaving chaotically it’s often because, from their perspective, they’re in the middle of a chaotic environment.

      There are certainly lots of things to address and the longevity of the chemical imbalance fallacy is one of them.

      It would be nice if we had more common ground but, on this issue, we see things very differently.

      Tim

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      • Tim

        You said: “Like I said in my article, the chemical deficiency is created after the medications are ingested. So, in a way, you’re very correct. It is because of a chemical imbalance that Big Pharma is making billions of dollars. It’s an iatrogenic chemical imbalance caused by the chemicals.”

        When you say “Its an iatrogenic chemical imbalance caused by the chemicals,” this is precisely why it is SO important to call these substances exactly what they are – mind altering psychiatric drugs. This is both more scientific AND, most importantly, counters the false narrative promoted by Biological Psychiatry and Big Pharma.

        Why is it so difficult for you to accept my feedback regarding the vital importance of contesting Medical Model terminology? Historically, changing language has been a critical part of making social change, and this is so necessary and true when taking on the whole “mental health” industry.

        Richard

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  15. Since many regular medications are nothing more than symptoms suppressors, I personally am not going to be too critical of a writer for using the term, “psych medications” if this person agrees with a good portion of our issues. It seemed to me that Tim qualified on this basis but perhaps I am missing something.

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    • Thanks AA. I definitely think psychiatric medications are at the top of the list in terms of wildly exaggerated benefits and grossly minimised harms but it’s a really important point you make. I really like Peter Gotzsche’s work in this area. He makes the point that all drugs can cause harm. In fact, according to him, prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death in Europe and the US behind heart disease and cancer. It’s a staggering statistic.
      I guess we all have our big ticket items. For me quotation marks aren’t one of them despite how useful they can be.

      Tim

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    • AA

      You said:”… I personally am not going to be too critical of a writer for using the term, “psych medications” if this person agrees with a good portion of our issues. It seemed to me that Tim qualified on this basis but perhaps I am missing something.”

      I think the major point here is not whether or not the author “agrees with a good portion of our issues” but rather how does his writings influence the broader public? That is, how are we educating the masses about the critical difference between what has been advertised (with billion dollar PR campaigns over 4 decades) as “medications” but are, in fact, mind altering psychiatric drugs that overall cause great harm to people?

      Is it not vitally important to counter the Biological Psychiatry (Medical Model) narrative that these psych drugs “correct,” “fix,” and/or act as “magic bullets” targeting the brain’s “chemical imbalances?” What better way to do this than to completely dispel the myth that these drugs are, in fact, some type of “medication.” “Medications” that are promoted as allegedly curing brain “diseases?disorders.”

      In this situation language and terminology are critically important to advancing our movement by further educating the masses about the dangers of the Medical Model. Tim C’s critique of “chemical imbalances” was very good but he weakened his overall analysis by conceding to Biological Psychiatry the use of THEIR terminology (for which they spent billions to promote) in regards to “medication” vs. psych drugs and the use of “mental health” and “mental illness” without the necessary challenging use of quotations.

      Unfortunately, my attempts to make the above points have been met with derision and defensiveness from the author. This defensiveness led to him label me as “authoritarian,” “dogmatic,” and “single-minded.”
      Do you believe my analysis above is making valid points to be discussed here at MIA? And do you believe that his use of negative labels was an appropriate response to make in this important dialogue?

      Respectfully, Richard

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      • Hi Richard,

        You said, “”I think the major point here is not whether or not the author “agrees with a good portion of our issues” but rather how does his writings influence the broader public? That is, how are we educating the masses about the critical difference between what has been advertised (with billion dollar PR campaigns over 4 decades) as “medications” but are, in fact, mind altering psychiatric drugs that overall cause great harm to people?””

        Why does this have to be an either or situation? In my opinion, whether you say psychiatric drugs or psychiatric medications, the issue is they cause great harm. That is what the focus on the message needs to be.

        And again, what about my point that most drugs are really symptom suppressors that can cause great harm to people. Are we going to insist that all medical specialties make the necessary distinction?

        You are right, Tim was defensive with you at some points. So thank you for pointing that out.

        Yup, your analysis of various points definitely needs to be discussed.

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        • AA

          Thanks for the response;

          You said: “In my opinion, whether you say psychiatric drugs or psychiatric medications, the issue is they cause great harm. That is what the focus on the message needs to be.”

          The important aspect of this discussion is to look at the fact that medications are viewed in general as “healing agents” that cure diseases and/or treat cellular abnormalities. In this sense they are almost always viewed as very positive and necessary substances to put in your body.

          Big Pharma and Psychiatry colluded at the highest levels (for 4 decades), spending billions of dollars to convince hundreds of millions of people that their newly developed psychotropic drugs were in fact “medications” that heal
          psychiatric “diseases/disorders.”

          Unfortunately, the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex has been highly successful in their PR campaigns and have won over the broad masses to believe that psych drugs are , indeed, “medications.” That is, people now believe they are both safe and very “HELPFUL/HEALING” substances to put in their bodies. All this promotes the belief that these mind altering substances “cure” people’s “broken brains” and therefore can resolve all their psychological distress.

          Why should we continue to CONCEDE to Big Pharma/Psychiatry’s need to pass off these mind altering substances as “medications” and all that this word connotes to the general public? Why should we acquiesce to promoting a key aspect of the Biological Psychiatry narrative?

          Every time we use the word drugs instead of “medications” (and explain exactly why when necessary and when asked) we are undermining their efforts to promote their view of psych drugs as “magic bullets” healing damaged brains. Please reconsider and ponder the importance of how they use language and why we need to emphasize this as an important issue in our movement.

          AA, as to your point that psych drugs are in fact, “symptom suppressors.” I think we need to be careful here. When someone becomes depressed after their mother dies or becomes highly anxious after a sexual assault, should these human reactions be labeled as “symptoms.” This is a medical term that implies that the depression or anxiety are some type of “internally caused” problem in the person experiencing them. The oppressive Medical Model makes sure to convince people that these are as a form of “ill health” and/or a brain “abnormality.”

          We know that in these circumstances the person’s depression and anxiety are actually normal human reactions to abnormal conditions of life. We must oppose all attempts to pathologize these normal human responses and promote psych drugs as the solution by passing them off as “medications.”

          If anything, the use of the word “symptom” might more accurately apply to our using the analogy that we live in a “sick” and “diseased” society that produces enormous stressors and forms of trauma on a daily basis. In this context we are making it clear that people’s extreme psychological distress (that gets incorrectly labeled as “mental illness”) flows from people’s conflict with their environment, not from brain “abnormalities.” Unless we plan on developing further this type of analogy I think we should probably avoid the use of the commonly accepted medical term, “symptom.”

          AA, more food for thought, but in this case making sure we eat the “best” food makes an important difference to our overall nutrition. (if I can use a food analogy in this highly important scientific and political dialogue).

          Richard

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      • Hi AA. The point is not just his defensiveness but his assaultive-ness (though they may be interrelated). It’s a shame because his valuable comments about the chemical imbalance myth are also under assault here by psychiatric drugging shills, and we should be addressing that as well.

        What Richard was pointing out side from the purely semantic considerations is the disempowering effect of falsely telling someone that they are taking a “medication,” which contributes to a self-image of being somehow diseased.

        Not sure about your other point — do you mean that physical conditions are sometimes treated with medications that don’t cure the actual problem? This is true but physical conditions are physical, not figures of speech.

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        • Hi Oldhead,

          I will have to go back and reread the thread which I may not be able to do for a few days.

          Frankly, whether the term psych drug or psych med is used, it is still disempowering if someone is given the message they are diseased.

          By the way, I went back to the Surviving Antidepressants website to see if a particular term (drug vs. medication) is favored and they seem to be used interchangeably. I mean, when you are suffering horribly from withdrawals symptoms, I think it really doesn’t matter but that is my opinion.

          Yeah, my point is that physical conditions many times are treated with medications that don’t cure the problem.

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        • AA:

          Frankly, whether the term psych drug or psych med is used, it is still disempowering if someone is given the message they are diseased.

          Absolutely, just like the term “mental illness.”

          I mean, when you are suffering horribly from withdrawals symptoms, I think it really doesn’t matter but that is my opinion.

          Exactly, but at that point it’s a little late — a situation that might have been prevented had those so suffering not been told they were taking “medications.”

          This is something the people at Surviving Antidepressants might want to consider, as calling these chemicals “medications” tends to encourage people to “stick with them,” don’t you think?

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  16. Hello Tim,

    I seemed to have failed in getting my point over to you. I’ll try again. A person can have a dopamine level that is higher than normal (schizophrenia) or they can have dopamine levels that are lower than normal (ADHD). Dopamine is an organic chemical. Do you see a chemical imbalance in either of these statements? If you do, well…..

    I don’t believe that ADHD or any of its co-morbid problems are diseases or disorders. We judge children and label them by the behaviors they present. Take away the behavior, and you have a perfectly normal child. Some behaviors can be very helpful. Take for instanced, a cough, sneeze or Flatulence; they are not very nice, but necessary and can be therapeutic.

    I have stopped pulling down Railroad crossing gates and expecting a train to go by; it has helped my thinking process considerably. But every now and then……

    Tim, if you believe as I do that….We humans do and say thing because we
    Derive some benefit from that activity, either consciously or unconsciously, then we perhaps we may find some common ground.. If you don’t believe this, then I guess there will be no milk and cookies for you.

    Chet

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    • Hi Chet,

      The problem lies in this sentence “A person can have a dopamine level that is higher than normal (schizophrenia) or they can have dopamine levels that are lower than normal (ADHD).” We have absolutely no idea what “normal” dopamine levels are. Then to try and assume a particular amount of dopamine is “causing” a particular problem called “schizophrenia” or “ADHD” is a massive leap in flawed logic. “Schizophrenia” and “ADHD” are made up categories. They’re not illnesses or dysfunctions in the same way that breast cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, malaria, and diabetes are. So even if we knew what “normal” dopamine levels were (which we don’t) we still wouldn’t have solved the problem of the diagnostic categories.

      I definitely believe that “We humans say and do things because we derive some benefit from that activity”. From my perspective, that’s called a process of control. Problems then, arise when people aren’t able to derive the benefit they would wish for from the activities they prefer.

      Tim

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  17. I was told at age 21 that I had a chemical imbalance because I was so anxious and depressed most of the time. So I began taking Lithium and went back to work.

    Over the years, I began to develop panic attacks, so I was put on benzos, in addition to the Lithium. I proceeded with work, then school, then work and then school again.

    After 20 years of this, my body started to break down, which is when I got off all the psych drugs, all 9 of them by this time. That was right after grad school, where I was training as MFT. The mess and chaos that followed is well told on this website, and elsewhere, it has become a common story. That’s when I discovered the extreme social ills of the mental health system, and how toxic, dangerous, and sabotaging to humanity this all was.

    I healed naturally, confronted every inner demon I could tag at the time, did some hardy neural shifting, and have had no more of these debilitating symptoms. Turns out it was bad family dynamics, in the first place, in which I could only play if I were drugged.

    Once I got off the drugs, healed, and gained perspective, my family became distant, they could not understand me. They seemed kind of angry at me, but would not disclose.

    I made a film talking about how I perceived what had happened and sent it to my family members. Discussions ensued and a lot of air was cleared.

    They still have a hard time understanding me, because I am now my own person, and I don’t carry their values or beliefs, but of course I love them, and we carry on long-distance relationships just fine. One sibling is actually taking my example of healing and personal growth, she got it. Finally, they were able to celebrate my turnaround, but at first it really threatened and confused them, because I had so much gone against their grain in order to find my healing.

    And mostly, they were somewhat disoriented because I spoke my truth about family abuse. This was hard for them, understandably, but it was vital in order for me or anyone to heal. At least, I was giving them the opportunity to look at themselves, as I had been doing with myself for all those years. I was fortunate, in that the family healing took. I had to break the family system several times, which was extremely challenging on many levels.

    So we’re all clear on this now, and everyone is in present time. I’ve gotten on with my life and am well-settled in it now, moving forward daily and creating quite a bit. I’m also feeling healthier and more grounded than ever.

    I haven’t taken psych drugs in 14 years. If my chemicals had been out of whack, it was because my environment was chaotic. That is natural, and I believe that’s how it works. But I wasn’t born with it, I inherited it from my environment, without a doubt.

    The drugs exacerbated internal imbalance, and caused more symptoms to appear, for which more drugs were needed. That led to a disabling crash. It was slow and insidious, took 20 years to catch up with me. Coming off of them allowed me to heal and put myself and my life back together.

    Couldn’t be more black & white, and that is exactly what happened.

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  18. Hi Alex,

    Thanks loads for sharing this. What a profound and moving story. It’s a great comment on the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Your point about the chaotic environment really resonated with me. You say towards the end “If my chemicals had been out of whack” … it’s a big “if” :-)!! My interpretation would be you reacting very normally to a very abnormal environment!

    Thanks again.

    Tim

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    • Thanks, Tim. The reason I say that about the chemicals is because yes, my response to go into perpetual anxiety was very normal and natural, given the double-binding circumstances. I wasn’t misreading the situation, of course, it was extremely unsafe, for years, during my development. But hard as I tried as, first, a young kid would do, and then as a teenager, I could not change it. You know how stubborn family systems (or any social system, for that matter) can get–the more you try to change them, the more adamant they are about staying the same. And it can get brutal, like a cult.

      What happened is that I got stuck in that anxiety and it would be with me in any environment, even when it was light and fun, I could not take it in. My thoughts were extremely self-deprecating and I began to worry about everything. I’m sure that was the result of neural pathways that were created during these years, and they got stuck in that mode, until I was able to identify all of this and do the neural re-rerouting work, which is something I learned to do along my healing journey decades later.

      At the time, I was calling this “mental illness” without a second thought, because that’s exactly what it felt like. It wasn’t until years later that the stigma thing reared its ugly head. Until then, I had no issue with this. It’s what it was, or so I thought at the time. I was also very open about it, all my friends knew, so did my employers. I wasn’t an angry person, other than toward myself. Of course I had anger like anyone, but I was not likely to externalize it. I was just extremely down on myself, and I know why that is. I had to develop a better internal dialogue to heal the crippling anxiety and depression that would come from these chronically negative ruminations. And, I had to give myself permission to express my anger, which was radical for me.

      But up to that time, my synapsis misfired quite a bit. I’m not a brain scientist, but to me, this seems like it would affect brain chemicals, simply from the toxic environment. Although, indeed, on the drugs, I DID have a chemical imbalance, because those cause it for sure! Nothing natural about them, they force the brain in a way that should not be forced, and makes it fixed and rigid. That’s how I think about it, at least. That’s gonna cause lots of trouble down the road, inevitably, as we all know.

      So for me, healing from all this meant discovering neuroplasticity and applying it with diligence. That’s very hard work, but it does work, and it pays off in all ways. It’s a radical shift in consciousness, which, in turn, changes reality for the better. Worked somewhat miraculously for me, I was rather stunned by the extent to which shifting how I talked to myself and felt about myself, really and truly, deep down inside, affected my entire life and reality. And it happened pretty quickly, once I took this road. I had to get used to quantum healing, which was an adjustment, in and of itself.

      Being in a high stress environment while vulnerable–especially as a kid–will throw things off internally, how can it not? BUT, they can be corrected and brought back into balance, if one wants to do that. That’s the big IF, to my mind! Not everyone can buy this perspective. But as far as I’m concerned, that’s my message of healing.

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      • Hi Alex,

        I’m really enjoying reading about your journey. There is so much overlap with the work that I do, it’s uncanny. We’re using different words but I get the sense that we’re talking about the same kind of thing. The therapy I use is called the Method of Levels (MOL; http://www.methodoflevels.com.au) which is based on Perceptual Control Theory (PCT, http://www.pctweb.org). MOL is all about having people listen to their own talk so that they can become conscious of their problems in different ways and reorganise neuronally (this is the neuroplasticity bit) to arrive at new perspectives, new insights so control (you might call that balance) is restored.

        I also share the big “IF” that you describe. None of this can happen unless the person wants it to. And even when they want it to, it still can be gruelling, emotionally draining work. An important part of my work has been what I’ve called “patient-led treatment” so the person who is accessing the service is the one who makes the appointments and the one who decides how many they will have and how often they will have them. I’ve also started to develop an idea lately called “patient-perspective care” which in the services I’ve worked in would be much more helpful than “patient-centred care”. In my experience, “patients” can be at the centre of a clinicians deliberations while decisions are still made about them and for them and on them. That might be a lot harder to do if it was the perspective of the person accessing the service that had to be used to guide decision making.

        Tim

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        • Yes, we are having a meeting of the minds here. Seems as though we’re coming from the same perspective of calming inner world struggle and internal conflict. I was having trouble at first understanding your use of the word “control” in this context, but I think I get it now—you mean controlling our focus and thoughts, our perception? If that’s what you mean, then yes, this is the heart of my work, too.

          When we learn deliberate focus (my phrase for it), then we are really driving the car and affecting our own reality. Where and how we focus, and by what perspective, determines how we feel, as thoughts trigger feelings. We can choose how to feel by choosing where to focus and how to perceive that on which we’re focused. To me, that would be control in a way that we feel in charge of our lives, so it releases all the stress of powerlessness, even to a corrupt world, and this will turn things around for us because we are coming from an entirely new and self-affirming perspective. Are we on the same page, here?

          Having been a client, myself, in the most hard core sense of the word for such a long time, I’ve gone back and forth quite a bit regarding how to work with clients in way that we’re in clear, netural communication. People know me as a psych survivor, so I can easily not be respected as a healer (I’ve got stories about this!). I’m on my sleeve about it, so for some, it’s an asset and for others, it’s confusing, to say the least. Having this dual identity has made it interesting for me, part of my journey of evolution.

          I feel a client and I are “partners in healing,” that’s what I call it. After all, when I do healing work with others, I’m also healing and growing. There’s always something to shift or refine. I think it goes both ways, so I’m always prepared to grow. I’m really rather flexible and transparent as a healer, but my boundaries can be tested. Always a growth opportunity.

          Where I consult with a client is on the fee. We do that together. I’ve got a reference as a standard, but really I’m open to anything, and I let them tell me what they can pay. If they cannot, we work something out. I’m fine working for free, which I’ve done quite a bit. But sometimes, I get taken advantage of. I’ve had all sorts of situations experimenting with all this. That would be my balance to achieve!

          Money is a hard one. I’d prefer to be funded so I can do it at no charge for anyone. But that hasn’t happened…yet! I don’t like taking money for healing work, but I do have my own survival to consider.

          I appreciate your wonderful feedback, Tim, thank you. If you have time, I thought you might feel like checking out my film, Voices That Heal. Based on all you write about, I’m thinking it may resonate with you. It’s 96 minutes, so not a short one. I just screened it yesterday for an alternative healing group and they were taken with it. Kind of a “presentation from the heart,” so it goes quickly, from what I hear. 6 of us tell our stories of going through the system, and what we experienced in terms of stigma, discrimination and social abuse in general. Also our family dynamics, how the diagnosis thing got started for each of us, and about our individual healing paths.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtDGxJWmj5w

          There’s a second film on my YT page which is only 28 minutes, a musical documentary I made this past year called The Dreamcatchers Follies: Music for the Ages, if you’re interested in checking that one out, too. They were filmed 5 years apart (VTH was revised very slightly in 2014, but I filmed it in 2011), so you can see evidence of how this work was transformational for, both, my partner and me.

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  19. Thanks Alex. I’ll check out the films. They sound really interesting.

    Yes, the way you’re using the term “control” is the way I understand it. A few years ago I came across an entire field devoted to the study of control as it occurs in living things. From this perspective, control is a process that is essential to life. In fact, control is life. In order to keep living, we need to be able to control things like our body temperature, the amount of oxygen in our blood, and so on. At another level we also need to be able to control things like the amount of trust and openness in our relationships, the extent to which we think well about ourselves etc.

    From this perspective, problems occur when this natural control process is disrupted or interfered with. It’s a big reason for me as to why mental health services fail so spectacularly most of the time. Because of the extent to which they go to control “patients”, they actually interfere with that person’s own control and set up a recipe for disaster!

    The point about therapy impacting on the therapist as well as the “therapee” is a really important point too. It’s a really humbling experience for me to be a therapist. To be entrusted with someone else’s stories is an enormous privilege. And you’re right, there’s definitely a learning and growing for therapist … if they’re open to it :-)!

    Tim

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    • “It’s a big reason for me as to why mental health services fail so spectacularly most of the time. Because of the extent to which they go to control “patients”, they actually interfere with that person’s own control and set up a recipe for disaster!”

      I believe you nailed it, Tim, spot on! Keyword: interference. Not helpful!

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  20. Thanks Alex. Yep, interference is the key. It’s the problem with medications (or psych drugs or whatever you want to call them) too – they interfere with the bodies’ own processes. And lots of times the mental health professionals don’t even know they are interfering so they take resistance, not as a sign of how functional the person is, but how they “lack insight” so the mental health person does more of what they were doing, hence more interference, the person being “treated” tries to do more to protect themselves, and so it spirals!

    At least while we’re talking like this and bringing these issues into the light there’s a chance to change them. Those new perspectives we’ve both been talking about!

    Tim

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    • To me, that would be about relationship issues. That’s one thing I ran into a lot while in psychotherapy. I had no intention of enmeshing nor working through any kind of transference. I was always in present time with my issues. Even the past time stuff I knew to keep separate.

      But I’d get counter-transferred onto constantly. It’s why I eventually bowed out of all that and turned to what I do now, which is energy healing and spiritual work. That has a whole different set of boundaries, it’s not psychotherapy. If it’s not a match, it’s not a match. I don’t try to convince clients to stay or anything remotely like that. It’s all optional, based on choice. Healing can be an enjoyable experience, even if it means facing hard stuff. If it’s not at least interesting, then I don’t see the point in it. Resistance is normal and to be expected, but if there is chronic resistance that leads to conflict, then I’d ask, “Then why are you here?”

      Usually three sessions does the trick–presenting issues, self-healing exercises, then completion. If it takes longer than that, best to work in a group, I think.

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  21. Each time I read your posts Alex, I find myself smiling by the end of them. This is so similar to what I do. I call what I do “psychotherapy” or “therapy” or “psychological treatment” but it’s really facilitating the other person having a conversation with themselves about difficult issues. Nothing happens unless they want it to. Even not having “therapy” is OK. The whole focus of MOL is on present time, in fact it’s about the “right now” of what’s happening for the person as they’re talking about all this difficult stuff.

    And yes, even in the face of all the hard stuff, there’s often humour and almost a “playfulness”. I’ve also found that most people only need a small number of sessions. I think about 4 or 5 is the average people seem to come a long to see me for.

    Tim

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    • This is pretty awesome, Tim. Perhaps there is a bridge being built here. I’d be interested in discussing more about this, if you’re game. I’m about to logoff for a while, but if you go to my YouTube page via the link I posted above, feel free to contact me through there and either you can send me your email address or I’ll be happy to send you mine. If you feel compelled, of course, no worries if not. I don’t have a business email at present and I’d prefer to not post my personal email on here. But I find this extremely interesting and worth pursuing. I like that we are both seeing this the same way. I’m not so academic research oriented, though, I’m an experiential researcher. Perhaps they can go together in a way that will reveal some good stuff.

      This has been validating and incredibly clarifying for me, Tim, I’m extremely grateful for this discussion.
      Alex.

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  22. Hi Tim,

    Normal dopamine and serotonin level charts are readily available. They are based on age and gender. I thought the Advert. below was informational.

    Ad. in a Psyc. Mag.

    Determine Natural Serotonin Levels with a Serotonin Test
    Testing for low serotonin levels is available and helpful in determining an appropriate treatment. Neurotransmitter tests can now provide precise information on deficiencies or overloads in key neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. A serotonin test can measure serotonin levels to determine if a serotonin imbalance is present.

    Chet

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  23. Hi Chet,

    Thanks for the extra information. We just have a very different perspective on all this. I’ve never heard of dopamine and serotonin levels charts and I have no idea how they would possibly even have established them. Even if those charts were accurate at a population level they still wouldn’t be meaningful for an individual. Think about height and weight charts. What is “normal” height? Should we give growth supplements or bone grafts to people whose height is normal (whatever that is)?

    Also, I don’t place too much (read “any”) faith in commercials about drugs or neurotransmitters. I’m sceptical of all advertisements. I think we generally accept and acknowledge that advertisements about things like shampoo and cars are probably exaggerating their claims and distorting the information somewhat to portray a glowing image. That is magnified exponentially when the topic is psychotropic medication.

    As I said in my article, 80% to 90% of the bodies’ serotonin lies _outside_ the brain. I wonder how their tests cope with that. In doing research for this article I contacted a couple of expert researchers who are involved in this area and they weren’t aware of “precise” neurotransmitter tests that were available.

    We just have different views, that’s all. I get the sense that you’re pretty happy with where you’re at. Me too 🙂

    Tim

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  24. Chet
    An ‘informational ad’???….if these tests are available, and the parameters are known for what is considered *normal* for these neurotransmitters, then surely we can figure out what dosages are needed for a cure for an individual’s ‘chemical imbalance’. But that never happens. Look at disability rates for ‘mental illness’ in this country.
    Just like the myth that neuroscientists can test for a person’s genetic makeup (or *horrors*–test inutero) for schizophrenia, bipolar, ADHD etc., right?

    Follow the money.

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  25. I take serious issue with your suggestion that Santa Claus is as mythical as the theory that mental illnesses are caused by chemical imbalances. Not only is Santa Claus real (i.e. 4th century Bishop of Myra), but the bio-medical model of psychiatry is based on two heresies condemned by two Catholic Ecumenical Councils. As such, Catholic bishops are within their right to ban practices based on these pseudo-scientific theories from any Catholic hospitals.

    Thank you for being the catalyst for the blog post I wrote this night, which makes reference to this one on Mad in America:
    http://sophiaidios.blogspot.ca/2016/10/what-do-santa-claus-and-chemical.html

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  26. One of the tragedies in this chemical imbalance myth is that it has become so pervasive in society. I have yet to read all posts so far (119 at my writing this and I look forward to reading these.) However, in reference to my introductory sentence, the pervasiveness is so great I can hardly pick up a magazine at the grocery store, especially those considered “women’s magazines” where sandwiched in the pages of what to wear, and how to feed your children, is some story of how a women or several women were “saved” by some sort of ant-depressant or even anti-anxiety medication. The woman allegedly was diagnosed with depression, bi-polar disorder or some sort of anxiety. And, after taking these medications, their “chemical imbalances: have been corrected and life is well, “jolly.” As a victim of such myths, I just get almost sick to my stomach. I would like to write to the magazine and tell them of my experiences, but, as of his date, I would probably not be believed and my letter would not be published, probably considered as “heresy” However, I am confident that soon my and other victims stories will come forward, just as stories that have remained hidden on other peoples’ issues had remained hidden. I will say one thing, as far as the myth of Santa Claus in contrast to the myth of chemical imbalance. I was never hurt by the myth of Santa Claus, as opposed to the myth of chemical imbalance which made me into a zombie without a self, personality, or soul, took my talents and gifts, and almost killed me. There is hope and joy in the myth of Santa Claus. There is only pain and death in the myth of chemical imbalance. But, now, I can say I have been saved from this myth and as the Late Nancy Reagan told us in the 1980s to say no to drugs. I say no to these drugs and basically all drugs, recovering my true whole self back, and I live quite happily despite it all!

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    • Yes, Rebel, there is a Santa Claus… and it’s actually the chemical imbalance myth that is a “heresy.” Not only that, Santa’s been known to punch a heretic in the face. Persons such as yourself would be a bit safer if modern day bishops took such as stance as the famous Bishop of Myra now commonly known as Santa Claus.

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  27. I can definitely tell that this is something very important to all of us or otherwise there would not be all these comments with a great deal of “emotions” involved. To the person who stated that “jack daniels” is a drug. I think, if I remember correctly it was classified at one time as a drug; that is “alcohol as we drink it, cook with it, etc.” If it were not a drug, would we not have alcohol addiction, “AA”, and an age limit for legal purchase. In my personal experience, it can only be a “drug” as in the end, I had similar reactions to both the incredible amount of “psychiatric drugs” coerced into my system and “alcohol.” I almost died from both! I do think we can get really tied up in words used, how words are used, and other such terminology. As a psychiatric survivor, three things are important to me. 1) Yes, there is “bad science” but that is the history of all studies dealing with the brain, intelligence, etc of a person. This bad science is shifting into traditional medical science also. 2.) Each person has a unique and important story to tell. It is in listening to these stories that we achieve “good science.” 3.) Perhaps, it is not our terminology that is important, but our desire to eradicate this system that causes so much horrific, terrorist suffering. I believe that science, as we have known it, particularly in the modern age, as applied to humans and humanity can only be bad science and cause suffering. Sadly, all science forgets that each one of us is a unique being. We say, such and such, is useless because it can not be replicated. Only when we do become robots, “replicants” “borg’ or some such non-human humanoid could these experiments be replicated. It is time we give up looking to science to solve our ills and return to ourselves as the beautiful works of art we are. Please leave science to the climate and the rocks until it is time for them to speak up. Thank you.

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    • Hi there, you totally didn’t get my “Jack Daniels” reference. Specifically:

      If Jack Daniels is medication to you then fine, at least that would be consistent. But something makes me doubt you’d make that leap.

      The point being that if Carey considers psychiatric mind-numbing chemicals “medications,” he must likewise consider JD the be the same, as they serve the same function.

      All psychiatry is bad science btw. Also:

      Perhaps, it is not our terminology that is important, but our desire to eradicate this system that causes so much horrific, terrorist suffering.

      Desire only gets you so far. Without naming the system for what it is, and deconstructing the lies upon which it is built, a winning strategy based on an accurate analysis of the problem is impossible. When people accept that the poisons they are taking are “medications” they are more likely to be “compliant.”

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      • I was actually trying to make the comment that through my own personal experience; “Jack Daniels” and the like, and the “psychiatric drugs” are in many ways alike. They are both horribly addictive, cause a person to act in dangerous and zombie-like ways, both take away your “personhood”, both metabolize through the liver, both are sanctioned by society and are very dangerous to society in that they cause both economic, social, physical, and personal damage. From my personal experience, I had the same physical, mental and emotional “feelings” when I finally stopped them. However, also from personal experience, the withdrawal and detox from the “psychiatric drugs” takes longer to accomplish and seems to have more horrific symptoms that one must encounter. As far as terminology, I do respect what you say. Yes, sometimes, we do use certain words to make something that is actually not good for a person to be good for you. This is a common practice in medicine and is used to the detriment of the person in “psychiatry.” Let’s be blunt, psychiatrists and their (and I borrow a term used a lot in politics these days) “surrogates” are just “drug pushers” sanctioned by society and its institutions. I see the same behavior in them that they use to advertise on television to keep the Kids off the drugs. Just like the “illegal drug pusher” they say, Come, take this. It will be all right…” Perhaps, it would be to the benefit of those of us who are psychiatric survivors to be truly blunt about the terminology and as my parents would say, “not mince any words.” If anything, our terminology, if we could agree upon it, should emphasize the danger not only to individuals, but to society and the country as a whole. Thank you.

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          • Yes, You are right. Abilify and the others that seem to almost come out every month or so with such Madison Ave. promises. Cigarette ads came off the television because the Surgeon General of the United States was worried that such ads would promote cigarettes to children. And of course there were the cancer fears for all age groups.
            We have had further “studies” that show second-hand smoke also contributes to cancer; thus, even in many tobacco producing states, as in other states, you can not smoke hardly anywhere outside your home or car. Cigarette smoke causes an allergic reaction in me, so I do not complain. When I see the “drug ” ads on tv, I almost want to throw my sneakers at the tv; but neither the sneakers nor my tv need that kind of abuse. What we need very much is someone with the status of a Surgeon General to speak for us; to advocate for us; to be on our side. Who in the psychiatric/medical profession is so righteous and ethical they can give up greed and money to help save the world? Somewhere, sometime soon, I pray, there well be someone well respected who can be our spokesperson? Thank you.

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  28. Hello again Tim,

    I detected, by your last post to me, that you are ready to end our discourse And I agree, for all the same reasons. I wanted you to know that the AdvertisementThat I cited, was purposeful. In your previous post to me, you seemed almost Startled when I mentioned that there are charts that indicate the normal levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Purpose – to show you that these tests for neurotransmitter imbalance, are so common that they often show up in Scientific Magazines. You also expressed concern that serotonin was found in other parts of The body (by the way, so is dopamine in the PNS to control BP) and that some peopleAre bigger than others and would naturally have more dopamine and serotonin.

    Here is how it works: Dopamine is a catecholamine. There is a blood test and a Urine
    Test for dopamine. The Urine test is the most accurate when preparation guidelines Are followed. The test is called : Homovanillic Acid (HVA) 24 Hour, Urine Test.

    The test can be useful in screening children for catecholamine-secreting tumors, monitoring for neuroblastoma treatment and for screening patients for internally caused Catecholamine metabolism (dopamine sufficiency or deficiency).

    As mentioned before, the test is age and gender sensitive and covers ages, less than a Year to adulthood.
    A sample Reference Value would be: ages 5-9 years: less than 15.0 mg/g creatinine

    Serotonin levels are determined by a 5-HT Level Blood Test. I will not go into it.

    Reference: Mayo Medical Laboratories.

    Tim, a question of mine and hopefully yours is; Why have ‘normal levels’ of neurotransmitters been established, if your contention is that: A Chemical Imbalance In The Brain is a Myth, ie never change?

    I conclude that ‘A Chemical Imbalance In the Brain is a Myth’, is a myth.
    We both know that “Two Myths Do Not Make A Truth”.

    Best of luck and Merry Christmas

    Chet

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    • Hi Ceebee1,

      Yes, I did suggest that neither of us were going to get much mileage out of continuing this conversation. We just operate in different worlds. My understanding is that blood and urine tests detect metabolites of neurotransmitters which do not have a straightforward relationship with levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.

      But these are all just details. The bottom line is that you’re happy believing that the chemical imbalance myth is not a myth and I’m firmly convinced that it is.

      There’s not a lot of room for discussion there 🙂

      Tim

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  29. Yes, Self Control is a big problem in the twenty-first century, especially in America, but other places see it, too, especially the Western World. Usually, it is the emotion of anger in relation to Self Control that is the problem. Anger is the emotion that usually can lead to aggression and violence, which are endemic problems in our world. Anger is not the only emotion that can lead to aggression and violence; but, unlike other emotions, anger can beget anger. It is contagious, especially in group situations. There are many causes to anger. I do think these horrible psychiatric drugs can be a real and definite dangerous cause!

    Yet, in the area of Self Control and there are so many people and situations that lead us into anger; even the “best of us.” But, it is to our betterment, that we maintain Self-Control. Believe it or not, one of the very best ways to maintain self control, especially if not “drugged” is to think of Louisa May Alcott’s Book, Little Women, a childhood favorite of mine, hopefully others. I know this is “old fashioned” but very simple. Marmee, the mother character, told Jo, probably based on Miss Alcott, who at times had problems with teenage anger, Just wait, and count to ten before you speak. I think she wanted all her girls to remember that. Now, that I am no longer drugged, I try to remember that. Perhaps, it is something more of us should think about and maybe even teach our children. Wait, before speaking and/or acting and count to ten. Thank you.

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    • Anger is the emotion that usually can lead to aggression and violence

      “Usually can” is an odd phrasing. If you mean anger usually does lead to aggression and violence that would be untrue.

      Anger is a valuable emotion when appropriately channeled.

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      • Yes, anger is a valuable emotion when appropriately channeled. All emotions are valuable. I say that anger is an anger is an emotion that can usually lead to aggression and violence; because it does, at least in present day America. I say “usually can” because there are times anger can be channeled for good. The problem is that in our “society” we do not teach people how to channel their anger for any good. We look at anger as bad. You are not allowed to be angry at someone or something. Since, you are not allowed this emotion, it starts to spin out of control and sometime horrible things do happen. However, since neither party knows how to deal with the anger, one party may assert the angry person needs drugs or counseling or both or gets locked up. In our society, we are so afraid of our anger, we do suppress it with alcohol, drugs, food, tv, etc. Any models of anger, being used for good, are minimized or deleted from our “story.” What happens to anger? It turns into bullying, racism, bigotry, sexism, sexual violence, etc. The list goes on and on. What we need to do is relearn how to appropriately channel the anger and all emotions; because within the fear of anger is the fear of all emotions. And from this fear springs the extremely maladjusted and greedy industry of “psychiatry” and “their treatments” including drugs, electroshock, clubhouses, fake therapy, fake hospitals, psychosocial and vocational rehabilitation, etc. Thank you.

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        • You are correct, “rebel” – anger *USUALLY*CAN* lead to violence, or worse….
          One “worse”, is that persons labelled as “mentally ill”, are not allowed to express their legitimate anger without risk of medical incarceration, or forced drugging….
          When a person who is NOT labelled as having a so-called “mental illness”, THEIR anger is quickly validated, then ignored and forgotten….
          Just one more example of how the pseudoscience LIES of the drug racket known as psychiatry have done – and continue to do – FAR MORE HARM than good….
          Psych drugs often cause unprovoked anger in persons, due to their harmful effect on the limbic system….
          I understand exactly what you’re saying here….

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        • Nothing there to argue with.

          As a footnote, a psychoanalyst once told me that, although it would seem that people would be the most uncomfortable talking about sex, it is actually feelings of anger and aggression that people try to repress the most.

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  30. Hi Rebel,

    Little Women was a favourite in our family when I was a child too!

    I agree that anger can be a big problem for both individuals and social relationships. Ironically, in the work I do, self-control is considered to be a form of internal conflict. The reason people experience this sense of needing to control themselves is because they want to do something (maybe yell at someone) but they also don’t want to do it (they want to treat people respectfully) at the same time. When people are unconflicted and pursuing important life goals it doesn’t feel like self-control. It doesn’t feel like anything really it’s just kind of going with the flow.

    Maybe the reason that counting to 10 can be so effective is that it gives people a chance to step back (in their own minds), see the bigger picture, and remind themselves of the things that are really important to them.

    Thanks for the reference to Little Women … that was a delightful trip down memory lane :-)!

    Tim

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  31. I am so happy that my reference to Little Women brought back “fond memories.” I am very impressed that a man would enjoy the first and greatest “chick” and sister book ever! Louisa May Alcott had so much to say about the relationship amongst sisters and women. She also had a lot to say about the potential of women and their unique identities. Almost every woman who has read the book identifies with at least one of the sisters or perhaps Marmee, the Mother. I am glad it not only speaks to women, but to men. Louisa May Alcott, I am sure, would be happy in that thought. Too many times, we divide the world into male and female. Perhaps, it is time we stop dividing the world and start uniting the world with the wonderful knowledge of the immense diversity of our “uniqueness.” I think this is why the book is a classic and stands the test of time. Each of the sisters is unique with her own personality and talents and come together in love for a better world for the whole family and their neighbors. Thank you.

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    • It’s one of those timeless classics isn’t it?

      By the way, I also really go along with your idea stopping the dividing up we do and focus more on our individual uniqueness. I think it’s possible to recognise that we all share some common fundamental features as being part of the same species but, within it that, we are all marvellously unique.

      If we recognised that and celebrated it a little more we might be in a different place.

      Tim

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  32. Great article. Slowly but surely, people are waking up to the fact that mental illness is not because of chemical imbalances. There are a number of underlying factors to consider, and simply pegging depression for example as a deficiency of serotonin is nonsensical.

    Thyroid problems are something that need to be looked at as well. A lot of conventional practitioners don’t recognize that underactive thyroid can contribute to a number of psychiatric problems. Fixing my thyroid really helped me overcome my depression, and hopefully more people become aware of this. These steps really helped me with my thyroid: http://www.optimallivingdynamics.com/blog/13-ways-to-support-your-thyroid-for-better-mental-health-brain-increase-improve-boost-hormone-t3-t4-hashimotos-autoimmune-depression-anxiety-hypothyroidism-hyperthyroidism-underactive-low-naturally-supplements-mood-disorders-schizophrenia-psychosis

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    • Thanks for your perspective Jordanfallis. Yes, there could be many explanations for why people are feeling the way they are feeling. Unfortunately, when we label something as “depression” we think that’s an explanation and stop looking for other reasons.

      Tim

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  33. I honestly think that one of the problems in our culture/society is that we rely on some sort of “outside authority” with the answers or the solution to our problems. It is not that we don’t learn from others, from books, the internet, nature, etc. It is just that we forget to ask ourselves the important question, “Is this true for me?” This is not a selfish, “me-generation” or a question of “narcissism.” This is a question of realizing that we are each of one of us unique beings, even “genetically” separate from our parents or other family members. I, personally, have a faith focus to my life, so I do not rely only on myself, but on my personal interpretation of God. In my Mind, God is the “Boss”, but yet we work together realizing there is no outside “human authority” that can decide for me what is best for me. I do not expect everyone to share my belief system. This would definitely cancel out my belief in the “authority” (for lack of a better word) of each unique being, each one of us. Even as much as our interpretation of God, our beliefs about Him, etc are totally contingent on my uniqueness. No one on Earth can share my unique belief system. This, I believe, is important and releases from the falsehood that “the Doctor always knows best.” He or she is most probably speaking a distinct language from you, that even if it is English, it is as foreign as any other foreign language. I also sincerely believe that when we can really learn to honor ourselves and who we are, then and only then will we truly make a headway into solving the many conflicts of the world from local to international. Thank you for letting me express my opinion.

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    • Thanks Rebel. I think it would be great if people would listen to themselves a little more. Understanding who I am as an individual and what I need to move in the direction I want to go in is surely one of the most important things I can do. I wonder if the first step in solving some of the conflicts of the world is first resolving our own internal conflicts.

      Tim

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  34. I love not only the content of this article, but the very clever writing, comparing and contrasting the two myths.

    But I have a problem with this sentence that does not fit any of the other content, in my opinion:

    “Promoting explanations that are consistent with the way people are designed will lead to more effective treatments and less stigma and other adversity for those who are psychologically distressed.”

    What’s meant “by the way people are designed.” This is getting to sound clinical or even biological–the design part.

    Can you please explain?

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  35. Thanks Don. It’s a great question and, I agree, that paragraph probably did stand out a bit from the others. All of my work is based on the premise that we are designed as living control systems as described by Perceptual Control Theory (www.pctweb.org; http://www.iapct.org). I’ve developed a transdiagnostic cognitive therapy based on these ideas (Method of Levels; http://www.methodoflevels.com.au). Being controlled by other people is so damaging because we’re designed to control the things that matter to us ourselves. No-one else can do that for us because no-one else knows how it is to be another individual or what the life is that that individual would like to carve out for themselves.

    Does that help?

    Tim

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    • Thanks for your reply and the information. I looked at the sites and watched the TED Talk and another video.

      Coming from the perspective of lived experience, and also retired from a career as an R&D chemist, I have a good grasp of the material, but disagree.

      I do not think science and cybernetics can describe consciousness and the mind. The mind is not in the brain, but is non-local. Look at how feelings are affected by the digestive and immune systems, for just a couple of examples.

      In my opinion and from my direct experience, healing transformation necessitates models that are trauma-informed and listening-based where people are accepted for where they are at no matter what their weird behaviors. This is where peer support and perhaps even shamanism come in.

      The scientific models usually seem to go to the medical model and we are back to Santa Claus.

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  36. Thanks for your further thoughts Don. Of course, you’re perfectly entitled to disagree. I disagree with your disagreement :-)!

    It’s great that you’re interested in things like consciousness and the mind. I’ve actually just finished writing a book chapter about consciousness from a PCT perspective. It’s due to be published in May next year.

    PCT is a first person perspective theory. That is, it explains behaviour and the process of living from the inside looking out not from an observer’s perspective. As such it is entirely compatible with, and accommodates, trauma-informed work and listening-based approaches. The Method of Levels is almost entirely “listening-based” and trauma-informed work is an important aspect of working effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

    PCT and MOL are definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. I’d love it if they were, but they’re not. That’s OK.

    Tim

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