Dialogue with a Psychiatrist


I like being mad. As I explain in my article ‘Being Mad is Liberating’ (which was removed from the site for a year upon my request because I got scared of stigma, silly me), being mad, when properly processed by the brain, can help one to reach enlightenment. Which, in my humble opinion, is the aim of madness in the first place.

Gods are talking to us, the mental, and it’s up to us to hear them. Believing as I do in many different things from all kinds of religions, I think it might be that the animal spirit world tries to wake us all up (not only the mental) in order to push us away from mediocre thinking. Like instead of watching useless TV shows, spending all our money on such craziness as Black Fridays and totally ignoring what is happening in the rest of the world, we should actually stop, reflect, and start caring more about our planet and what matters in this life.

I do reflect on such things and I do consider myself an enlightened human being, thanks to my madness. I also believe that I could have been Buddha in a past life, and that I am still meant for greatness in this life.

That might sound over-ambitious, vain, or like what psychiatrists might call “delusions of grandeur,” but such qualities are necessary in order to survive psychiatry. As Albert Einstein said: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

I have to say that I do miss talking to a good psychiatrist, however. I could sit and argue for ages with a psychiatrist who is intelligent and kind (quite hard to find, but they do exist). Especially now that I have a PhD in philosophy and have read everything that can be found on madness, including the notes they wrote about me when I was in the hospital. Nowadays, psychiatrists have a tendency to sign me off pretty quickly when I come onto their radar. They don’t wish to deal with me, I tire them out.

Therefore, I am left on my own, and so I talk to that nice, clever, invisible psychiatrist while sitting at the salon having my hair and nails done. I feel like a celebrity now, drinking my cappuccino and waiting for that final blow dry. And so, I look into the mirror and I say to the psychiatrist:

“If you want to talk about delusions, let’s first give a diagnosis to psychiatry! I say that it’s you who has delusions of grandeur.”

“Excuse me?” he answers. “Did you forget to take your meds today?”

“Actually, no,” I reply, admiring my new colour in the mirror. “I figured out on my own the precise dose of medication I need in order to walk in a state of semi-permanent psychosis and still lead a productive life. I’m able to see magic and faeries and be directly connected with the divine, but still wake up at a reasonable hour, take my child to school, go to work, buy groceries, write and read and meet with friends and get a manicure.”

Oh really,” he says, looking a bit skeptical.

Yes,” I reply. “I love the psychosis because it’s exactly what they preach will happen in heaven—a feeling of total joy, happiness, being totally free. Neither psychiatry nor the weight of society can deny me this pleasure.”

I can’t really see the psychiatrist (he is in my head), but can imagine him rolling his eyes and rubbing his chin, while giving me that pensive, ‘in the know’ look.

Can you, please, elaborate more on your last statement?” he asks.

“Yes. You think you are real and sit there and preach to me on how I should lead my life and which medication I should take, telling me that I am bipolar, while in reality I am enjoying my day, having a nice cup of coffee, having my hair done and believing in fairies, while you choose to believe in the most stupid manual possible.”

“Which manual do you refer to? We have quite a few,” he replies, taking a sip of coffee. Since I am having one, I don’t want to deny him this small luxury even if he isn’t quite real. So, a nice cup of cappuccino it is. Yes, I confused the staff at the salon when I insisted on two cups of coffee, but they should be used to my eccentricities by now. Last time I brought a Bible to read while my hair was done—I was surprised that my hairdresser managed to keep a straight face the entire time. I do need to live up to my diagnosis of bipolar, you see.

Yes,” I say. “I mean that stupid Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (a title not made for dyslexic people, that’s for sure). I nearly fell asleep by the tenth page, but you have almost a thousand pages in it. Hundreds of ‘disorders’—and every one of them a figment of someone’s imagination.”

The psychiatrist is in the middle of taking another sip from his coffee, but puts his cup promptly back on the table in order to reply. I reckon that this topic is important to him as well.

“Well, since you mentioned it,” he says. “And please, don’t tell anyone I told you this. The truth is that most of us are quite fed up with that manual as well. Pages and pages indeed of totally useless stuff and sciencey jargon. But, this is the strategy psychiatry came up with as an institution, so that we can give you a diagnosis and then treat you accordingly—as much as I, personally, might hate it. How can one judge an individual based on some syllabus?”

I am so bewildered by his response that for a moment I remember that I am not talking with a real person but with myself, and that that nice, kind and insightful psychiatrist is strictly in my head. I miss them so much (the psychiatrists), that I invented one for myself! Like I said, they tend to sign me off too quickly now, telling me that I understand my ‘illness’ better than them. They shouldn’t do that though, in my humble opinion, as I could help them to manage their load if I got the official invitation to help them in their profession. I will come back to that at the end, explaining what I mean by ‘invitation.’

“Hmm, don’t forget, you are just in my head,” I reply to the psychiatrist, since I don’t want him to get too delusional either.

“Am I?” He seems rather sad, and for a moment or so, I wish he was real, and not some imaginary friend sitting in my head, with my hairdresser asking whether I am okay because I pronounced my last statement aloud, forgetting where I am. Did I mention that I am bipolar?

“Well, yes and no,” I reply, deciding that one way or another I will finish the dialogue in a positive fashion. You see, I have had the opportunity to meet some good psychiatrists. It is not the individual doctors who are fault (even if some of them are assholes) but the profession as an institution. If anything, now that we are talking (and I try to make sure that I keep it silent, as I want to come back to this salon in the future), I realise that my imaginary friend reminds me of another psychiatrist who was more than real, and helped me a lot.

“You remind me of Alesha,” I tell him. “The Jewish psychiatrist of Polish origin who treated me after my second psychosis, on the recommendation of my friend. Alesha was a rarity in the profession as he agreed with me that psychosis can indeed be a shamanic experience. He was the first psychiatrist with whom I became friends, and thanks to him, I stopped fearing them all. ”

“Really? Tell me more,” my new friend the psychiatrist replies to me, in a clearly better mood. He even has another sip of coffee.

“Alesha was amazing. He had a small office attached to a large hospital in Amsterdam, the town where I lived when I first became psychotic at the age of 27, and he agreed to see me even though he already had too many clients. He found my case interesting because, despite being bipolar and on medication, before meeting him I explained on the phone that I still believed in magic and that if he denied me that pleasure, I wouldn’t see him. I think he was so taken aback by my statement that he offered me a meeting the next day.”

“And?” The imaginary psychiatrist in my mirror is smiling now. I know. It is hard to find mental people who still like some of them. But it isn’t the individual psychiatrists who are at fault, but rather the State which doesn’t implement the necessary reforms, plus the general stigma in society and total misunderstanding about what madness is. Madness is magic, and one needs to become aware of it.

“Well, he had a small office filled with books and piles of stuff, and it was difficult not to like him. He would smoke a cigarette, ignoring the no-smoking sign above the hospital’s entrance, while trying to clear some sitting space and make me a cup of coffee at the same time. That’s why I made sure you have a nice cup of coffee as well. I do believe in equality, even if some of you don’t. You think you have authority over us, the mad—you give diagnoses too quickly, overdose us and try to kill our souls!”

The psychiatrist starts to tremble.

“Please, don’t forget, I am one of the nice ones… but do explain!”

I remember that he is not real and that I am having my hair done, that Christmas is coming and it is a beautiful day and I shouldn’t get angry, especially since I am among the lucky ones. I figured out the madness, and I figured out psychiatry as a profession and the weight of society in terms of what people might think of you, all by myself. Madness comes from God and we need to hear his voice, and the only way to stay tuned to his message while keeping both feet on the ground is to have either a minimal dose of medication, or none at all. But then, each individual case should be treated as separate, and not as a mass marketing campaign for their stupid manual of diagnosis.

“You need to realise that what we see and hear in our madness might be very real!” I tell the psychiatrist. “It isn’t just delusions, hallucinations or nonexistent voices! What if it is indeed all real? And magic does exist? Do you understand that in that case, you are just killing any remnants of creativity? That if you continue to diagnose us, from as early as five years old, you will soon end up with robots? Robots are nice, but not when you make them out of humans!”

The psychiatrist is again in a pensive mode.

“Okay, let’s imagine that what you say is true. What would your solution be, then? How should we talk with the patients?”

My hair is almost done and so I need to think fast on this matter. Christmas is coming and I want to finish the dialogue on a nice note. Especially since I do believe that a good exchange of ideas with psychiatry is needed, not just a negation of it, and that we can do much more if we indeed talk with each other. Share our experiences, even exchange some jokes.

“Well, how about abolishing forced medication and isolation rooms? How about you stop putting mental patients into prisons? That could be a start, don’t you think? And since you elected President Trump and he quite obviously likes Russians, how about the idea of me leading a reform on mental health in your country? Hmm?”

Didn’t I tell you that I am over-ambitious?

But we will have to finish the conversation another time as they are done with my hair now. And so, removing the hairdresser’s cape with a flourish befitting the Queen of Russia (who I’m quite sure I was in a past life), I am off, to check whether I will see any fairies in the nearest park.

Queen Ekaterina
Queen Ekaterina


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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        • I don’t know:( from what i read here, things in the US are in particular terrible, a total reform is needed. They still prescribe drugs that do so much harm, while in the UK, the tendency is to avoid them, such as benzo-drugs. I think that someone, with actual experience of mental illness should come in, and then just travel around and compare different approaches in psychiatry, etc. In my case, the decision to stay on anti-psychotic (but where I decide on my own dose) is mine. No one can force it on me and no one can ever guess I am even bipolar, but after several hospitalizations I realized that it does help (medication), and after some research I discovered that I am bipolar 1, so i don’t have lows, but can get psychotic, a state i like, but i don’t want to loose touch with reality either, since i have a son, and do like my work, etc. But in psychosis, as beautiful as it can be, i do loose touch with reality. I can go way too high. Now, i experience it in low doses, but also try to lead a productive life, because i enjoy it.

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          • OK I see the problem. You’re just new to this. What you need to realize is that there is no “mental illness,” nor could there ever be. The same with labels such as “bipolar” and “psychotic.” And there are no “meds” in the case of psychiatry, only drugs. You’ve basically bought into the psychiatric drill, and are only scratching the surface in your resistance so far. It’s good to see you starting the process though, it can only lead in one direction.

            I’m sure MIAers will help you realize that these are not “radical” statements.

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          • I think we have to consider that not everyone enjoys their psychotic experiences. Some people have an appalling time – terrible anxiety and terror because voices are abusive and threatening, beliefs that their being taken over etc come `out of the blue’. I don’t believe that psychiatry has any answers at all for this, that alternatives do exist but people do need help and support to get through the really bad times.

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  1. Ekaterina,
    Well done for speaking out with your own truth. I find when you have a deeply felt confidence in what you’re saying based on your lived experience, it doesn’t matter if other people criticize or try to invalidate you. Keep exploring and speaking up the way you have been.

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    • Ah, thank you so much! It was massive amount of work with me and the wonderful editor of Mad in America, Emmeline, working on it non-stop for last 4 days! We wanted something nice and positive for holiday period, especially that there are indeed good psychiatrists around who try to help, there are good cases when people do recover and lead their lives fully (me, mhh), with the help of meds, we have to be thankful to medical staff working on Christmas, and there is hope for us all!

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      • I believe that when we live by, and are grounded in, the wisdom of our hearts, then we are inherently powerful and unlimited in our creativity, like magicians. I think it’s a matter of attuning ourselves to who we really are, as spirit, and living by that inner guidance, authentically, and not by anyone else’s rules, opinions, or expectations. From my experience, that is true freedom, and when life becomes entirely magical.

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        • true, the true freedom is to believe in oneself and find one’s own freedom and choice about how to live. It is a pity that while this article was intended to help other people in the similar situation, some try to discourage me, which is morally wrong and insulting. I believe I found a way which allows me to stay in this society (and since, we are here, then maybe, there is a reason) while also seeing the magic and parallel world. I am also not hiding beyond any other identities and speak from my heart. But then, the hearts which are open, will hear the message. And I am not ashamed to admit that in my case modern medicine did help. If I didn’t end up that first time in the hospital, after 12 days on no-sleep, I would simply be dead.

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          • Ekaterina, your courage and integrity are so clearly evident, and I believe these are the true measures of one’s heart, from where our light shines. This is what I feel from your article, the magic of your light, your personal truth and how you embody it. How you choose to take your journey of life and speak your truth is what makes you uniquely you, as is the case with any of us. We are inherently diverse in this regard, and I wholeheartedly agree with you, that there is no reason to disrespect others for how they live their personal truth. Nor do we need to take to heart others’ opinions and responses, that’s what I’m saying above, about freedom from shame and judgment. That’s not heart-based, but ego projections, clearly.

            Yes, open hearts vs. constricted hearts is a good discernment to make, I think. We do live in a chaotic world at present, very confusing for lot of people, understandably, and a lot of heart wounding, betrayal, all sorts of issues people are sorting out these days. There is tons of anxiety in the collective now, it is hard to escape at the moment, I think.

            I think your clarity about how you choose to walk your path is your gift, and exactly what is needed at this time of global confusion and conflict. I think this makes you an example of heart-based living, which I applaud and cheer.

            At the same time, life is ever-changing, so one never knows what’s around the corner, and how that will impact us, or how we will impact others. So I do believe open-mindedness and flexibility in thinking are also admirable and generous qualities to possess. But I think as long as we are true to ourselves, than we’re always doing the best we can in the moment, and these are the examples I look for around me. I call that “alignment with one’s spirit,” which we do not have enough of in this world, as far as I’m concerned.

            No way to control others, if we are serious about abolishing oppression (or maybe “ascending from oppression” would be more accurate?) via the oppressors tools of force, deceit, and blatant manipulation (gaslighting). Trust in our own process is vital. I believe this is what most of us are complaining about when it comes to the “institution of psychiatry,” on the whole. It’s really a crap shoot, from what it seems at this point.

            My experience with the entire mental health field–from training, to interning, to being a client, to being a social worker–was beyond horrendous and totally catastrophic, and I was 100% compliant and respectful to the protocol, as I would be with anything that I thought was there to help and support me in healing.

            I was wrong, though, as it nearly destroyed me, after 20 years of trusting it. And I’ve also talked and written about it quite a bit over the years, including in a film I made about truth-speaking as a healing avenue, for the purpose of helping others to avoid the pitfalls I did, and to offer better (to my mind) pathways of healing.

            I’ve been off all psych drugs for over 14 years now, after having taken a variety of them (including lithium, klonopin, the usual suspects) for almost 20 years. That is what saved *my* life, I would have been dead or institutionalized or homeless had I stayed on them, they made me so ill and eventually severely disabled me, which was temporary, thank God. At one point, we weren’t sure about that. It was quite scary, but all worked out fine, for which I’m grateful on a daily basis.

            Instead, I healed from the drugs, healed from my original wounds, and all that came from the psych world, which was more social abuse and spirit wounding than I could possibly write about it here, and moved on to a grounded, stable, creative, spiritual and fulfilling life. I did a 180 after coming off the psych drugs, life has transformed for me.

            So our experiences have been opposite in this regard, still we both know and recognize the magic. I think that’s totally awesome 🙂

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        • Hello Alex,
          for some reason, I can’t reply to your last comment directly under:)
          Well, one day, yes, i might try to go of the meds completely. I am on such a low dose though that I decided i continue for now as it is the only thing which helps me to sleep and switch off my over-creative brain:) Otherwise, I can become too busy (with writing). I tried it last year after 5 years of nothing but it went wrong, and I ended up in the hospital, where i went by myself as was terrified and wanted help. I regret that decision now, but on the other hand, it did open my eyes on how psychiatry has changed in the past 5 years and for the worse. It can be due to the fact that NHS (medical system in the UK) is indeed facing a crisis and there is no plausible way to be a good doctor when you have 20 patients and can spend only 5 minutes with each of them in two weeks. They tried to put me on lithium, which thanks god i stopped on time, immediately after, and now, i can say, that i was ‘tricked’ into taking it. I am back on the old, proven for me, Seroquel, at a minimal dose, without seeing any psychiatrists.
          I think, apart from forced drugs, looking at people experiencing ‘magic’ as some sort of invalids, etc, etc, is also the doses they prescribe. There is no way one can lead a productive life on 300 mg of Seroquel a day. I am on 50-75 and manage to work across 3 jobs with it. But one day, i might try something different and say goodbye to meds. I also know that stress can trigger psychosis in my case, and you are right saying that we live in very stressful times, and raising my child is a priority:) Can you share a link with your film and also the book?

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          • Indeed, it is all so personal depending on your life circumstances. We’re all on a learning curve, that is human, which I believe we ALL share, regardless of absolutely anything.

            Thanks for asking about it, here’s the link to my film, Voices That Heal (96 minutes). 6 of us share our stories of healing and of going through the system. We discuss a variety of related issues and are all on different healing paths and not necessarily of like mind, we are highly diverse. We were all part of the same speaker bureau at the time (5 years ago), which is how we came together for this.

            What we really explore here is the notion and feeling of being “othered,” as a primary cause of chronic distress, where this originates and how we inadvertently internalize these stigmatizing messages, and how we shift this through our self-perception. To me, that is how we can be our own healers.


            No book yet, I’m working on that now, with a co-author. Stay tuned! I hope you find the film engaging and valuable.

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          • Ekaterina and pulpamor, thank you both, I really appreciate your kind words. It is always so gratifying to hear when the film speaks to others and gives hope, and perhaps a bit of clarity around these complex issues, from the inside out. I’d never felt so vulnerable in my life as when I published this on YouTube! I’m grateful for your comments, makes it all worthwhile.

            *Sorry, just noticed this posted above where I had intended. I’m referring to the comments below this post.

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          • Thank you Alex for sharing again the link to your film.

            I saw it a few years back, and went looking for it to share with someone who needed your messages of diversity, of mad pride, of lovingkindness toward ourselves, and of affirming our jounreys into wellness.

            Your film does this quite nicely and I’m thrilled to find it again, so that I can share it with others. Bless you and your work.

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  2. Thank you for writing your insights and sharing them! I agree with Netchitailova on many levels and largely agree that context is so important. Unfortunately, the framework of a typical psychiatrist’s appointment in the US doesn’t allow this context to emerge for a variety of reasons. In my head, too, I’ve had so many conversations with psychiatrists. In my appointments, they never ever reflect how I imagine the brief encounter would go, which is largely dismissive or trivial–and always ends in prescription.

    We have a medical disaster and it is going to take a lot of ongoing dialogue. Imaginary dialogue is valid and just as important as face-to-face dialogue. Imaginary dialogue, especially when exercised verbally, is healthy and helps to validate our experiences. I find that this exercise is essential in that it helps me to prepare to meet many of life’s challenges.

    I’d like to share a bit of my background and raise a bit more awareness around benzodiazepine dependence.

    My nervous system is currently healing from a benzo drug damage. I have been off of Xanax for 8 days and my psychiatrist didn’t know how to titrate appropriately. Unfortunately, I came across The Ashton Manual and the benzo community I was iatrogenically dependent for benzos, mainly Klonopin for nearly 10 years, which were introduced to me during my first year in graduate school. Recently, I came across The Ashton Manual; I feel this manual describes what I’ve been experiencing all these years. Also, to help I’ve recently come to contextualize through the Bardo Thodol. Netchitailova is right to suggest this is a shamanic experience is appropriately contextualized. In my experience, benzo withdraw is absolutely horrifying; it is safe to say that I’ve never experience anything remotely close to it; it’s what I imagine surviving a protracted near death experience to be. It’s extraordinarily isolating and misunderstood and should not be drugged away.

    For a couple years, I had the symptoms of what I thought were MS and since I have relatives with the condition, I decided to have the appropriate neurological tests–luckily, for me, they came back negative. I had gastro issue–got the appropriate tests, and to my surprise they came back negative. At this point, I had a battery of psychological testing, which brought in the DSM narrative of Somatoform Disorder and BP I Mixed Episodes with Psychotics Features, but I was never complete comfortable with these narrative and was deeply skeptical. In retrospect, this fact has probably saved my life. I admit that I took some solace, but not much, in the “the diagnosis doesn’t define you” idea that was pushed on me. True, but I continued to deeply feel that the diagnoses were inaccurate and nobody wanted to hear me out. I was banging my head against a brick wall. I was frustrated and tired.

    I knew, having suffered trauma and having the unfortunate experience of having to concoct elaborate schemes to confront abusers so that I have sufficient prove to not be invalidated, that something was not right. This is another point where practicing with imaginary conversations can be a huge help. Now, having read The Ashton Manuel, I have appropriate context: benzos were creating these symptoms. I can’t tell you why I didn’t see it earlier; I don’t know why myself except that I felt (and knew) that the benzos (Klonopin, Ativan, Xanax, Librium or hypnotics like Lunesta or Ambien) were helping, but the consequence was not exposed–not by neurologists, internists, psychiatrists and so on. As a patient, I was sharing information among providers. What a failure!

    This is a medical disaster, a pandemic.

    Dialogue with psychiatrists is very important. Yes! Many of us are still on psych meds and they cannot be discontinued abruptly. I’m experiencing what can best be described and most accurately described as benzo neurotoxicity or benzo drug damage (withdrawal), which comes with a whole host of symptoms (Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome). The Ashton Manual shows a way to remove these drugs, but clearly, after several appeals and over several appointments, I’ve come to the conclusion that past and current psychiatrist don’t know the existence of this manual and appears to have little to no knowledge of the real effects of what they’re prescribing.

    I now know that my psychiatrist doesn’t know. Now, I find myself in a position where I have to go to my next appointment with him early in the new year. Yes, I’m mad as hell at him and the institution! Yes, I feel deeply hurt and betrayed!! Yes, I want to back out! Yes, I think he is a coward and has sold his soul to the profession, is utterly reckless!! Yes, I want to share with him what I’ve learned, but fear it’ll fall on deaf ears and be thwarted by a narrow-mind, a narrow agenda as has happened so many times in the past. To say the least, it’s a difficult position to be.

    For these reasons and many more, I’m grateful for brave articles like these and websites that give a platform for their voices to emerge.

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    • The last drug I tapered off of was a benzo. I have never had panic attacks like I did until I was tapering. When I looked at my old Med records I saw the psychiatrist had me on 3 different benzos at a time.

      I have felt your rage realizing my prescribing psychiatrist didn’t know what the hell he was doing and yes I did confront him about the poly drugging (every type of psych drugs). I’m one of the few people on any forum who has had their psychiatrist break down sobbing asking for my forgiveness. He turned around and wrote a letter to someone (I got a copy of it) discrediting my mental capacities because he was trying to save his medical license. I’ve been drug-free for 10 years, it was not easy to do but I did it. The numerous and distressing toxic physical and emotional effects the psychiatric drugs were causing went away. At the time I had no idea the drugs were doing this and I was going from one specialist to another. I never saw a psychiatrist again.

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      • OMG aria–Rage is the right word! I’m struggling with how I’ll confront my medicator next week. And, I am going to confront him about this issue. He had me on 2 benzos–Klonopin & Xanax. And Vistaril to help with the transition–and I thought I was having an allergic reaction to it, but it was benzo drug damage that I was experiencing. Fortunately, at this point in the game, I know enough to not take both at once, but I didn’t know 2 months ago that it was a good idea to transition from Klonopin to Xanax. It was/is a jolting nightmare. I’m off all benzos now for 8 days. I’ve got a bottle in the closet and have absolutely no desire to touch the poison after what I’ve been learning. Since I won’t have much time with the medicator (and I do feel obligated to inform and educate him–silly me for thinking it’s my responsibility or within my power to change an institution), I am thinking to tell him: “Look, I thought benzos might be safe in a low dose, but there is NO safe dose.”

        Sounds like your crazy doctor was a complete asshole and that you made the right decision.

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        • Pulpamor,
          My former psychiatrist was considered my city’s premier psychiatrist and I found out that meant very little when it came to prescribing. Even though he realized I never had the various diagnoses (they were all drug-induced) he still would not accept this as a fact. I got the majority of my medical notes from him (had to get a lawyer ) but it was an eye-opener to see this man had no clue. You said you would confront your psychiatrist next week but please do not be surprised if he doesn’t hear one word you say. Have you thought about bringing a friend with you because this will give you added support during this meeting. Psychiatrists get a little edgy when people bring in someone on the visits.

          I will always regret ever seeing a psychiatrist and realize I was nothing but a pharmaceutical experiment. I had to go see another psychiatrist to get the psychiatric drugs for tapering and he told me there was nothing wrong with me at all. These so-called treatment psychiatric drugs alter, change, our perceptions but psychiatry only see this as a worsening mental illness.

          Best of luck on your journey.

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          • Aria
            Thanks for the reality check. My medicator too comes highly recommended, holds many prestigious positions in the community, (considered a hero by one business publication–for what I don’t know), maintains positions at higher ed institutions, and sits on the state’s medical board. It’s a very frustrating position to be in since I know that he is in a powerful position to create change, but then again I am only another patient to him in his luxurious office.

            I think that I will take your advice about bringing a friend. I have been on the fence about it since I wanted to do it directly, but you’re right. It wasn’t until recently that I have taken others with me–and, wow! the dynamics and the whole line of questioning really do change!!

            Perhaps with a friend there I can focus my message (without the usual sabotage/assault that usually happens in the one-on-one at least to my mind). I already have the expectation that he’s not going to want to hear it–and nearly don’t even want to go, but feel compel, obligated despite the rage, the stigma, having perceptions altered and distorted, being a drug experiment. Not out of the wood yet. Well, this will be my my farewell visit with the crazy medicator. Hooray!!

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      • Sounds like your shrink was grieving over losing his pseudo medical career than the pain he had caused you or anyone else. I say this because of his immediate behavior after seeing you. Remorseless creep! No empathy at all. People like him are the monsters who should be locked up.

        Congratulations on escaping!

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    • Be very careful stopping any benzos because tapering is essential coming off this type drug. When I was reading my psychiatrist office notes he kept saying I was a mystery to him as he kept changing my diagnosis and the drugs I was on. You can’t have informed consent when you’re drugged especially as drugged as I was. A friend of mine called it a chemical straitjacket or a chemical lobotomy. Trying to carry on a conversation with a psychiatrist after he realized I was a malpractice liability became a joke. He tried his damnedest to convince me I had been profoundly mentally ill (when drugged) but had no rational to explain my “recovery” drug free? Just remember how hilarious psychiatry is.

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      • Pulpamoor,

        While it may be beneficial to burn that bridge with that psychiatrist, you may still need someone in the profession.

        Abrupt discontinuation might call for a tiny reinstatement to keep from getting worse. GP’s are more and more reluctant to get involved in benzos, even in the event of emergency (and so tend to give out quantity rather than exactly what you need.)

        You may need a positive relationship with *a* psychiatrist, if not with that one.

        I am a fan of tapering, though people can survive CT’s too, with a higher than proportionate amount of suffering.

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  3. Hello, thank you so much for sharing your experience! Benzo drugs as well as such med as respiridone should be abolished. I am sorry to hear that you had to experience this! This is what should be banned from psychiatry and yes, I am aware about the nightmare you face in the US, but things are not that different any more in other parts of the world! That’s why I wrote for this site and pray to god that a reform on mental health is going to happen, and I think you have chances with President Trump! Well, I hope so!

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    • Can you change a psychiatrist? You need to find someone who is aware about what you experienced and advice you accordingly! Otherwise you seem to be clever enough to do your own research. I am sorry but I don’t know anything on benzo drugs but is there any advice on the net? The only advice I can give is that if you have the tendency to go high, (like me) then seroquel is the best medicine and you can adjust your own dose, but it isn’t best medication if you also go low. I hope someone else will comment and give you some hints so that you just come to your psychiatrist with a list!

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          • Queen Ekaterina:
            I can speak for myself, so I shall…. yes, *sometimes*, *some* people do better on *some* *small* dose of *some* drug or other, for *some* *short* length of time…. But that’s not how the game is played. The shrinks get you hooked on as many different drugs as possible, at the highest doses possible, for the longest time – because that’s what makes the MOST MONEY for the drug companies. (….”PhRMA”, here in the U.S., is their common term for the whole pharmaceutical industry…). That’s because psychiatry is a pseudoscience, and a drug racket. It’s 21st Century Phrenology, with toxic drugs. If you don’t know what “phrenology” is, try Wikipedia. Until the early 20th Century, most large U.S. cities had Colleges of Phrenology, where you could get a degree, and set yourself up as a practicing Phrenologist….. So-called “mental illnesses” are exactly as “real” as presents from Santa Claus, (Saint Nicholas”!), and they were ALL INVENTED as excuses to sell drugs. Think about it. Were so-called “mental illnesses” invented, or discovered….????…. We longtimers here at MiA are very much enjoying talking w/you, Queen Ekaterina! ~(….I also left a comment on one of your blogs.) You have a right to your own experience, thoughts, and words. THANK-YOU!….

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  4. Thank you for your reply and I’ll try and address some concerns you bring up.

    When it comes to benzos, the only way out is through. Dr Heather Ashton has done a tremendous amount of work on benzos and has made it available online. The manual has been translated into some dozen languages; yet, many in the mental health community are unaware of its existence. Apparently, there is no substitute for benzo taper except through a substitution with Valium equivalent and at the patient’s own pace, which can take years.

    My my experience, it took me 2 years where I unwittingly came down from 2mg of Klonopin 3 times a day (with 4 other psych meds onboard) to .5mg 3 times a day. The business where my former psychiatrist was practicing downsized in July 2015. So, I started seeing a new medicator in August; by this point I’d made significant progress in pulling back from many psych drugs, not necessarily with the blessing of the prescriber, but, hell!, it is my body after all. This new medicator continued the Klonopin. I expressed my desire to come off of it. He expressed his desire to get me on a new antipsychotic. I told him that many of them should be illegal. He replied, well, that’s fine, and rolled his eyes. He persisted. We finally settled on what he dubbed “a weak mood stabilizer” (an anticonvulsant)–Topamax. I didn’t take it for a couple of weeks, then I started to. He continued Klonopin and added Vistaril. On the next visit and the next, he persisted in wanting to get me on an antipsychotic. Luckily, I’m not the most compliant patient! Had he known about how to taper benzos correctly, he probably could have provided insight to what I was experiencing. I sure didn’t know at the time. I finally got Klonopin down; I thought I was having a bad reaction to Vistaril, but now know I was experiencing nervous system healing from decreasing Klonopin. Later on, again, I expressed my desire to get off of Klonopin, so he suggested Xanax .5 twice a day. Totally wrong move! Another upheavel–another round of pushing antipsychotics–this time novel ones like Rexulti and Vaylar! and he asked me to research them and come back in 2 weeks with a decision. I told him that I don’t give a damn how novel they are; I don’t want any more neuroleptics (well, I actually told that to my therapist)! After 2 weeks, I walked back into his sacred groove, and having momentarily forgotten my long-term goal to get off of benzos, I told him that the Xanax is too short and not working, so he agreed to up the dose to 3 times a day. Wow, I could go on. I’ve come to believe that my physiological need for the drug was being expressed as interdose withdraw. This interdose withdraw was misinterpreted by my doctor and by myself.

    My current goal is to just get the hell of of these nightmarish drugs. I’ve come to recognize the feelings, which is a epic shit storm–the crazies, the feeling that I’m going to die, absolutely insane insomnia, horrendous body pain everywhere, no comfort anywhere, a total assault on all the senses. What I once conceptualized with the eager assistance of my mental health team as mania, panic, or mixed state, I now recognize too painfully as interdose withdraw. These are part of benzo injury/withdrawal. Everything causes panic. In the past, the rapid response was to increase the benzo dosage and/or mixed up the other meds.

    I’ve got a lot of history with psychiatry meds. Risperdal and Seroquel are among them. I found them helpful temporally–a few months a most. It’s true that once I get more out of this benzo injury, this brain & CNS injury I will need to re-evaluate and see to what extent if at all I need other psychiatric medication. No doubt it’ll be hard. This is the stuff they give to calm down recovering alcoholics, heroin and cocaine addicts in rehabs. If I’d only known. Here, terminology is important since I am not an addict–and I know addicts. If I were, I would claim it. I am a iatrogenic victim.

    The way I’ve come to understand it is that, yes, I do have a natural penchant to get keyed up (anxiety), and, yes, I can get high (hyper, hypo, manic) and I can get low (dysphoric, etc.). I can also have a much wider ranger of mood and emotion than those suggested in the DSM. Mary Cappello’s Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack makes the DSM look pitiful and the profession of psychiatry even more desperate as it clings for validity (at least to my mind). I imagine that it does have a very real purpose somewhere (not sure where), but I do think it is reckless. In other words, moods are much more dynamic than we are lead to believe by our culture and by our psychiatric professionals. This fact goes unacknowledged in the “sacred groove” of a psychiatrist’s office.

    Doctors have benzomania and it needs to stop. One must wonder, though, that if it stops what will step in and take its place. I’m lucky in that I’ve had a lot of preparation that has lead me up to this point. I’ve come this far and am able to contextual my situation more. It hasn’t been an easy ride for sure and there have been close calls. Having said that, I do strongly believe in social justice reform in psychiatry. I will be fine and I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t be. In a very true sense of the word, I am a benzo survivor.

    I believe that abuse does happen in psychiatry however “benign” it might appear. Abuse needs 3 factors to exist: opportunity, power, and secrecy. One practical solution that can be implement is to have a trusted adviser accompany the patient on all visit the the psychiatrist’s office. I get the desire for privacy, but there are ways to work with this such as having the adviser step out for 5 minutes. In my experience, the line of questioning that comes from the psychiatrist changes drastically. It’s surprising how that happens.

    Keep up the good fight!

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    • Right ok,I hope someone else will comment on it as well! Good job you are fighting and surviving! Don’t forget there are other people in similar situation! You are also very clever and did your own research, keep at that! You might be able to help other people in similar situation after! You mentioned seroquel and that it didn’t help, if you are bipolar 2 (with mood swings during the day) you might try lithium at very law dose,you will need to monitor kidneys though and not drink too much. Lithium is good for those who have constant mood change! I don’t have it, and therefore seroquel works for me fine, but your case does prove that each of us should be treated individually

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      • “if you are bipolar 2”

        Wow, Ekaterina–you really are quite mainstream, aren’t you.

        There is *no such thing* as ‘bipolar 2’…that diagnosis only came about with the advent of SSRIs–I can’t tell you how many people I know who were prescribed an SSRI for an ‘event’ in their lives, only to be diagnosed later with ‘bipolar 2’–skyrocketing the polydrugging of a huge population that all of a sudden were ‘severely mentally ill’ requiring drugs for life (according to psychiatrists and drug companies). Lithium has *severe* side effects, and a true informed consent, even with such an ‘old’ drug, doesn’t exist.

        Wondering about MiA’s mission *again*.

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        • thank you for categorizing, but never mind.
          no one ever called me ‘bipolar 1’, and definitely not the doctors. It was just something which i found while reading about diagnoses and which helped me to understand why seroquel does help in my case, such as leading a productive life and avoiding the hospitals, even if with my dose, i can still end up in psychosis and need to monitor it.
          As to MIA mission, i don’t know if you noticed but i actually go against their most articles, by arguing that a dialogue with psychiatry is needed. There is massive amount of scientific research, as well as meds which do work. I am sorry but I did meet violent individuals who refused any sort of medication and would put themselves and people around them at such a risk, that i wonder what the solution indeed should be. Definitely not forced injections, but some sort of monitoring perhaps. I had to change a country of residence due to such an individual. As to lithium, honestly, i have no idea, i know that i should never take it myself. But a friend of mine has been happy on it for years, while in the past he struggled, lost his marriage and couldn’t work. Nowadays he is happily married and has a great job and tells me that lithium saved his life.
          I think there are always different sides of the story and negation of psychiatry (and any sort of medical care) and science as such is simply wrong.

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          • I think there are always different sides of the story and negation of psychiatry (and any sort of medical care) and science as such is simply wrong.

            This is sheer confusion. Psychiatry is not science. Also science opposes “magic.” You seem like a nice person but like humanbeing I am also wondering what the purpose of MIA’s publishing this article might have been.

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        • so that you don’t misunderstand me, i think that what is wrong is when things are forced on an individual. But it is also wrong to blame all doctors and psychiatrists. There are bad people in every profession, but there are also bad people among those who claim they are mad, and personally i am fed up of seeing the media blaming people if they commit a crime on their ‘mental illness’. It is just bad people who give a bad name to the real, good, mad people. As i try to say in the article, i believe madness is a gift from god, and one needs to hear good things he/she is trying to say. I also know that some people get ‘mad’ because of how they were treated by psychiatry, and this is totally wrong as well.

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          • There are bad people in every profession, but there are also bad people among those who claim they are mad

            Conversations on MIA are not based on “good people” vs. “bad people”; they are at least theoretically based on logic vs. illogic. The psychiatric profession is based on specious, even fraudulent principles, it’s not a matter of “good shrinks” vs. “bad shrinks.” (And I still don’t get why anyone would “claim” to be “mad.”)

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    • Great post, pulpamor.

      You have found BenzoBuddies, right? You’ve done an amazing job of educating yourself, and I like your attitude!:)

      Benzos are the worst thing (well, besides one other traumatic event) that has ever happened to me.

      Yup, you just gotta go thru it…if people/the medicos only knew how brave and strong we are. But *we* know. Good luck…

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  5. Thank you humanbeing. Yes, I’ve found benzobuddies. It’s taken me a long time to get here and there, but it’s worth it. It’s true that we need to do our own research on these issues a lot of the time because our providers aren’t, unfortunately, up-to-speed. I posted a few other resources that may be helpful in response to Peter Simons report on benzos as-needed.

    To focus Dr Netchitailova though, her insights and comments are very important.

    I think above all I really enjoy her article and reflections in that it conveys the importance of being available: we already have the stigma. Check. Now, we need to fight as if our lives depend on it. Because, well, our lives really do depend on it!

    I totally want to use that line when I go to see the crazy doctor next time: “Did you forget to take your meds today?” Big smile. We can’t go in there powerless.

    One time, near Father’s Day, I walked into my psychiatrist’s office with a stack of poems (about a dozen or so) reflecting on the nature of the father figure. I was totally amused at his utterly baffled look at what I thought was just a random act of kindness in the season, but clearly it had deeper meaning too (the paternalistic nature of psychiatry stemming from Emil Kraepelin conceptions).

    Part of the brilliance I see in her insightful and playful reflections here is how the constructive conversation we have with ourselves RADICALLY rebuilds confidence and that shifts the dynamics of the psychiatrist-patient relationship, especially for those of us who need to continue to have an ongoing dialogue with them. There is beauty in weirdness; it is a different kind of beauty. Very helpful and very timely!

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    • I totally want to use that line when I go to see the crazy doctor next time: “Did you forget to take your meds today?” Big smile. We can’t go in there powerless.

      And why the f would you do that? I.e. “go in there” at all. A little self-destructive, wouldn’t you say?

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      • well, how about i passed the stage of resistance? resistance to what? Society hasn’t yet accepted madness, and if there are individuals around who manage to stay mad and still stay in the society, then maybe it is a way to go.
        My opinion, yes, and don’t try to change it, please. As to psychiatry, the only way to change it is from within. No one will abolish it as institution any time soon, so a way to go is to change it for the better, make it human.
        There is a difference between well-thought resistance and negation of things for the sake of negation.

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      • Yeah, I suppose it is self-destructive on some level. On the other hand, I’ve been in the gripes of psychiatry for a long time (10yrs+). It’s tough getting out of it. I’ve come a long way and hope to be completely off of head meds within the next few months if possible. It’s not easy when were basically in a psychological war. To really be a post-psychiatric survivor takes some time, a lot of adjusting, and reconciliation. The destruction comes from accepting the disabling narratives the mental health providers dole out and the disabling drugs that can and often do can in the process.

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          • Oldhead–Thank you for the validation and words of support. No doubt, the psychiatric narrative is so powerful and is not to be underestimated by any means. The narrative wasn’t planted overnight.

            For example, 3 years ago my crazy doctor at the time suggested that I start seeing a therapist in the office and I did. It turns out that her office was right next door to the crazy doctor’s. When it was quiet enough, one could overhear what was being said next door. That’s how creepy it was. Well, long story short, the therapist was essentially the wing pilot to the medicator in assisting with doling out the narrative and reinforcing the diagnosis. I fought against this unwelcomed assistance, but one gets tired banging the head against the wall. , no doubt, in obstructing the process. Since I have been fortunate enough to develop a good education and develop critically, I had a lot of questions (still do) and they were always thwarted.

            Like with many people here, a lot of insights come from our own research (outside of assistance from mental health providers ironically) and online community building. Now, too, I’m in a position where I’m working with a well-trained therapist who seems to have a critical eye to psychiatry and maintains a respectful, attentive therapeutic relationship with me.

            To be sure, I’ve been fed up with psychiatry and their drugs for a long, long time, but felt I had nowhere else to go–for understanding or to get off of them. I strongly suspect I’m not alone in this; in other words, yes, psychiatry’s narrative is so damn awfully powerful that it has saturated the corridors of just about every corridor in our society (if not all) including those in the mental health community who are supposed to be independent thinkers from psychiatry.

            Anyway, that’s a bleak thought. I’m new to this community and am happy to have found it and the great voices I’m hearing!!

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  6. I will never try to reason with a shrink. Again. If taken captive I will communicate with my captors as little as possible. Just like a POW. Name, age, and the day’s date. Since they hold the cards they can force me to confess to whatever lies they cook up against me which I will do so with a “flattened affect” indicative of torture and brainwashing–though they are far too stupid to realize this.

    No matter what I say they will only invalidate it as a proof of my alleged insanity. For my part, I have little interest in conversing with someone I know to be a sociopath who lies all the time. More success talking to a piece of furniture–say a salon mirror! 😉

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    • again, i met some good psychiatrists and also bad, and one way to go is indeed to come prepared. I want this, try this, at this dose. I also had a psychiatrist (the one i mention in the article) who agreed with me about not trying any medication when i landed up in the hospital, but we changed our opinion (together), after I started to go deeper and deeper into psychosis. If everyone had more time (and also the hospital in terms of beds), then maybe, yes, it would work. But it didn’t. And for me i find it important to be a full member of the society and still slightly mad, and change things from within.

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      • Perhaps those things are possible where you live. If so, I’m glad for the sake of people like you where you live.

        In America we can be locked up for no reason whatsoever now–merely at some shrink’s say-so. A positive effect may be fewer people will be stupid enough to to trust those quacks and will go out of their way to avoid them.

        Here it is impossible to be perceived as even slightly mad and allowed a peripheral role in mainstream society. A survey shows people would rather have a convicted ex-felon for a neighbor than someone diagnosed as “mentally ill.”

        The argument was that felons can change; the mad cannot because they’re biologically defective, genetically flawed in their reasoning and morals. We have the psychiatric industry to thank for this bigotry.

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        • that attitude towards ‘mental illness’ is similar all across the Western hemisphere. As i explain in the article I did fight with stigma or rather fear of it for long time, and decided enough is enough. In terms of medication, i have very low dose of seroquel, and it is my personal choice. I am not complying with anything and don’t have to see any psychiatrist. Last time I saw one, was my own choice, as well. I think we should accept different truths,etc, and my own truth is that i like my job, my friends, and especially my son, and living in this society while being also in communication with the divine is my choice as well. I hope you don’t feel discouraged by the fact that some people look down on you, this is wrong.

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      • Ekaterina

        In my situation I’ve dealt with five psychiatrists. Two were absolutely and totally abusive, both psychologically and emotionally. One was a nice man but had no idea how to go about helping me since I refused the toxic drugs. One meant well but was totally paternalistic and very patronizing, to say the least. The best one of the group was a young intern who actually sat down and dialogued with me about what I needed. I work in a state “hospital” among about fourteen psychiatrists. None of them are totally terrible people. Some are arrogant as all get out. Some are lazy and not very intelligent. There are a few who really do try to help the people put in their “care”. But all in all, the entire group believes in forced drugging and that they are the experts on the lives of the people held in the “hospital”. There are very few that have even the smallest desire to dialogue about madness. After all, when you’re the expert why do you have to dialogue?

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      • Ekatarina, you wrote: ” after I started to go deeper and deeper into psychosis.”

        Which is not a sign that uncontrollable “psychosis” is your native state, it is instead a sign that – whatever speed you tapered at – you tapered too fast. Coming off psych drugs – especially neuroleptics – induces psychosis.

        Consider, what if you could have the magick and not damage your liver, your eyesight, your endocrine system with long term use? And still be able to take your son to school?

        What if you could awake to every symbol and connect to each spark of divinity – and still hold a job?

        You haven’t really tried “undrugged,” unless you’ve tried “slow taper.”

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        • I am at a low dose of anti-psychotic (seroquel) which i don’t plan to stop for now, as indeed, i am at that stage where i enjoy magic and can work and look after my son at the same time, and be full member of the society, something i do like as i love working and other things life has to offer. In the past when i would stop medication, i could be without it for 2 years but in case of major stress, could get psychosis. So, i rather not risk full blown-up psychosis which will incapacitate me for good 2 months and will affect my son, who is my priority. I think that a good balance can be found on low dose of anti-psychotic.
          What do you mean by slow taper?

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          • I respect your choice, and can support with studies that low dose neuroleptics can be used successfully in the long term (the usual problem with this is finding p-docs who will use low doses, and not polydrug)

            A slow taper is sneaking the drug out by tiny tiny decrements, so as to fool your nervous system – such tiny amounts that your brain doesn’t notice it is missing.

            The commonest example is 10% of prior dose per month.

            The key piece is waiting until all symptoms subside before doing the next taper.

            These tiny decrements are achieved with liquid dosing.

            For more information, consider survivingantidepressants dot org. (where you will see p-doc sponsored tapers frequently going wrong, much as yours did.)

            If, after a slow taper, you come back to the drugs in a few years time, then I believe you have exhausted all options for a drug free life.

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  7. One could dialogue with a violent, abusive husband. Dialogues won’t help as much as a good restraining order. Sometimes fleeing with the kids is necessary.

    Not all psychiatrists are outright sadists, but psychiatry is inherently abusive and encourages abuse in other people. Even my friends and family look down on me now. If I say something they don’t like or disagree with they ask, “Did you take your meds today?” with a patronizing smile. Ironically I have a long history of “med” compliance and “good insight.”

    I have decided they are really only trying to insult me–that in fact they believe I have taken my poisons. If I point out the fact that they are trying to insult me they become highly offended, and my sister-in-law will often cry.

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      • By all rights psychiatric diagnoses should be punishable by law as libelous slander and defamation of character.

        It strikes me as ironic how shrinks will go on the air and tell the public how “bipolars” completely lack empathy and go on killing sprees due to their “illnesses.” In the next breath they will talk about the need to end stigma.

        It seems psychiatrists like stigma when it serves their purposes–enforcing coercive “treatments” and “med” compliance. They don’t like stigma when it makes less dumb or desperate people nervous about seeking out said “treatment.”

        Used as they are to getting their way all the time psych doctors refuse to recognize that it has to work both ways. You can’t expect people to welcome having their reputations ruined.

        My conclusion?

        Shrinks are clueless idiots, dumber than rocks when it comes to human motivation and oblivious to their own innermost feelings–especially as regards turpitude and depravity!

        Shrinks are pathological liars barely able to distinguish between truth and falsehood where their own interests are at stake–due of course to the fact that they lie so consistently.

        This is probably what renders them so gullible to their own patient/victims. It’s surprising how much bologna they are happy to swallow–almost like Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes–from anyone willing to feign “good insight”, engage in flattery (the more far-fetched and grandiose the better), and parrot back little snippets of Dr. Quackenbush’s own words. “Of course my patient is sane and well on the road to recovery! He thinks exactly as I do and believes everything I say. He even has the good taste to laugh at my jokes.”

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        • It’s interesting that studies show that the most stigmatizing group towards the “mentally ill” in our society just happens to be psychiatrists themselves!! I find that very interesting. I saw a person who is supposed to be an expert on stigma concerning “mental illness” tell a group of psychiatrists this. The roof just about blew off the meeting room where these grand rounds were held!

          I also agree with you about how gullible so many psychiatrists can be. Tell them what they want to hear and show them what they want to see and you having them eating out of the palm of your hand. It would be laughable if they weren’t so destructive of people’s lives.

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  8. Thank you for your article.
    Although I don’t think your opinion would please the majority, you have offered me a new perspective.
    I mean, who knows? So many people are claiming that they have seen ghosts and experienced supernatural, but instead of chains and confinement, they get applaud. So why “pathological”? Why “illness”? I don’t mean to be radical, but, just what’s wrong? Things became different after I have taken an introductory sociology course. What is considered “abnormal” depends largely on social context. I think those so-called therapists and psychiatrists should always consider further studies in such topics.

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  9. I really liked reading this. Very good.

    I have recently been reading and thinking about the materialist philosophy predominating in modern society and just how unfounded it is. And obviously, it has influenced psychiatry greatly.

    Here’s the problem: There isn’t a single element in the human brain that you don’t find in the rest of the universe. There isn’t a special type of atomic particle that makes these brains conscious. So how do we explain this?

    1.One idea is that of panpsychism. Every single particle in the universe is conscious in some way, it just becomes more complex when neurology is involved. But this is really a terrible way to explain the unitary nature of our individual minds. It’s a stretch to imagine that these small conscious particles could form our unified self-reflections. Not to mention our rationality, our values, etc. So I would intuitively say that panpsychism is false.

    2.Emergentism. The mind emerges out of complex arrangement of matter. So we can investigate which arrangements lead to this happening. But this is a lazy, ad hoc explanation. Why, exactly, should these arrangements lead to consciousness? No matter how it’s arranged, how and why should the material give rise to something so radically different from it, a subjective, self-aware experience?

    Now here are some viable explanations:

    1.Dualism: There are two fundamentally different substances that interact with one another.

    2.Idealism: There is only consciousness.

    Both of these are anti-materialistic, and as such, are not taken seriously in the current intellectual climate. And yet, that intellectual climate is nothing other than the triumph of ideology over common sense. It is completely intellectually, factually and logically bankrupt.

    There are people who can explain the problem better than I can, but I think that’s the gist of it.

    Some people would respond to this by explaining consciousness as having an evolutionary advantage. I don’t know about that. If they’re referring to Darwinian evolution, it has serious problems and limitations of its own (and I accept that many will now call me a loon, but that’s life). Some type of evolution obviously exists, but I believe the Darwinian interpretation is fundamentally inadequate and missing something. For example, it simply cannot account for the rapid formation of new forms. That’s why you now have so-called evo devo theorists who question its validity (even though they assume the materialist position, usually). If Darwinism doesn’t fit reality, then so much worse for Darwinism.

    Also: Even if Natural Selection guides evolution, it can only explain why consciousness survived: it cannot explain how something so different from matter can arise in the first place. And we often do forget how fundamentally different the purely objective is from the subjective. For example, can you explain the redness of red using biochemical explanations?

    Oh and speaking of “psychopathology”, let’s take one extreme example: Near Death Experiences. Why is it that people who report such intense and life-changing experiences actually have minimal brain activity levels (by the way, brain activity is also reduced, although not to the same extent, when people trip on psychedelics, as Bernardo Kastrup notes)? From a materialistic perspective, this makes no sense at all. And if you add reports where people report things that happened in the room they clearly would not be able to report “normally”, you start to a get a very interesting picture of the phenomenon.

    Then there is the extensive research on paranormal phenomena such as telepathy and other variants strongly indicating something very interesting is going on (e.g. Dean Radin is a good reference).

    Now add the Anthropic Cosmological Principle: The notion that if conditions were even slightly different at the beginning of the Universe, human life would never evolve. It is telling that Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA (of all people!), was well-aware of the problem. He put forward the “directed panspermia” hypothesis, the idea that an advanced civilization from outer space planted the seeds of life on Earth, based on the premise that other planets had more favorable conditions for life to evolve much before ours (although even he admits that he has absolutely no hard data for such a claim).

    Also, here’s something Thomas Nagel has to say about congnition present in “higher” forms of life, and then later of the problem of value: “Just as consciousness cannot be explained as a mere extension or complication of physical evolution, so reason cannot be explained as a mere extension or complication of consciousness. To explain our rationality will require something in addition to what is needed to explain our consciousness and its evidently adaptive forms, something at a different level. Reason can take us beyond the appearances because it has completely general validity, rather than merely local utility. If we have it, we recognize that it can be neither confirmed nor undermined by a theory of its evolutionary origins, nor by any other external view of itself. We cannot distance ourselves from it….

    This, then is what a theory of everything has to explain: not only the emergence from a lifeless universe of reproducing organisms and their development by evolution to greater and greater functional complexity; not only the consciousness of some of those organisms and its central role in their lives; but also the development of consciousness into an instrument of transcendence that can grasp objective reality and objective value.”

    On value: “Whether practical reason is emergent or reducible to activity at the micro level through some form of psychological monism, value realism requires consciousness to be active and rules out epiphenomenalism in human action.”

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