Carrie Fisher, Bipolar Disorder, and the Spread of False Information


As a child of the 80s, I had a childhood dream of growing up to be Princess Leia, and — of course — marrying Han Solo.  What I did not dream of was fighting an empire that seems only to grow over time, and with no Harrison Ford by my side to make it all better. The death of Carrie Fisher is heartbreaking; the news coverage of her life and suffering is a tragedy.

From Scientific American to Slate to the New York Times — all reputable news sites that have the prestige of rigorous reporting and the air of truth-telling — the stories all sound similar, conveying the message that: Bipolar Disorder killed her. Bipolar Disorder is a real disease caused by a virus and/or a chemical imbalance. Bipolar Disorder has nothing to do with one’s life circumstances. Bipolar Disorder causes mood swings and brain damage. Some of these articles are written by psychiatrists and/or have support from prominent mental health professionals. Yet, all of these proclamations are 100% false. There is no truth to any of this and the illogic and dogmatic rhetoric infiltrating the public right now is doing everything that Carrie Fisher herself fought tirelessly against: increasing stigma for those who suffer emotionally.

To be clear, this article is not yet another effort to speculate on Carrie Fisher’s personal struggles or her individual experiences — though there is ample evidence of early experiences that are sufficient to explain her later challenges. Rather, it is a brief attempt to address some of these untruths and provide some counter to those who are actually interested in what the science behind these claims are, versus ideological grandstanding. So, without further ado…

Bipolar Disorder is not a Real Entity

Let me be clear: People most certainly have very real experiences of mania and deep depressions, of cycling mood states, and of erratic and wild behavior that ruins relationships and many lives. The term bipolar disorder, however, is a term that simply describes these experiences. There is no entity of bipolar disorder that exists outside of these subjective experiences and behaviors.

Consider, perhaps, the experiences of pain in the head. Many would call this a headache. A headache might occur for numerous reasons: stress, dehydration, fatigue, the weather, inflammation, a brain tumor. One can take an aspirin and perhaps mask the pain, but the cause of the pain still has not been addressed. If it’s stress maybe that’s no big deal. If it’s a brain tumor, well, that’s probably going to be an issue. And no one, anywhere, is asserting that the headache is itself the cause of the pain.

But, in mental health, this is exactly what happens. Saying that bipolar disorder is itself the problem is akin to saying that one’s head hurts because one has a headache, and it is the headache that is causing the head to hurt. This logic, quite literally, gives me a headache.

Bipolar Disorder is Very Much Related to Trauma and Chronic Stress

Dr. Sally Satel, in an article for Slate, describes Fisher’s childhood as “tumultuous” and then goes on to state, authoritatively, “To be sure, a chaotic childhood is not a risk factor for bipolar illness.” This is not only completely untrue, but it is an invalidating and even dangerous statement for a psychiatrist to assert so confidently without any evidence to support it.

In fact, the relationship between a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and chaotic and traumatic childhoods is quite strong. Sexual abuse, specifically, is closely related to this diagnosis, with approximately 28% of women so diagnosed reporting a history of childhood sexual abuse involving bodily contact. Early parental loss increases the risk of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder by up to four-fold. Individuals with this diagnosis are three times more likely to experience interpersonal trauma, with 32% meeting full-criteria for PTSD. Overall, chaotic childhoods are 2.63 times more likely to have occurred in individuals carrying this diagnosis, with emotional abuse having the strongest relationship (an odds ratio of 4.04).

Bipolar Disorder is not due to a Chemical Imbalance

It is hard to believe that there are still media reports of chemical imbalances causing mental illness when even the most hard-lined biological psychiatrists have debunked this myth. Ronald Pies, an eminent psychiatrist, has expressed for years that this hypothesis is one that is an “urban legend” only promoted by uninformed individuals who should know better.

Yet, here we are, now the year 2017, and this uninformed urban legend continues to be perpetuated.

Bipolar Disorder does not cause Brain Damage

Putting aside for the moment the argument that there is no entity of bipolar disorder that can cause anything, there certainly is no evidence to confidently state that it causes brain damage. In an article for Scientific American, Tori Rodriguez suggests that bipolar disorder causes damage to the “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the autonomic nervous system, which are activated both by acute stress and by bipolar mood states.”

Now, this writer clearly understands that the HPA axis, inflammatory responses, and the nervous system are, indeed, affected negatively by stress. What is not mentioned is that these areas are altered by chronic stress throughout childhood (ya know, that chaotic childhood that has no relationship to bipolar disorder?) and that changes in these areas may lead to difficulties managing mood states and emotions. In fact, there has never been a study to demonstrate identifiable brain differences for ANY diagnostic category, nor is there any evidence of damaged brains in individuals carrying psychiatric diagnoses beyond those associated with childhood abuse.

Bipolar Disorder does not Kill People

Again, just as a headache does not cause anything (it is a description of an experience), neither does bipolar disorder. Yes, chronic stress can throw one’s body entirely out of whack and lead to earlier death due to problematic lifestyles, increased inflammation, autoimmune problems, ulcers, cardiovascular problems, etc. So, too, can a lifetime of drug use (illegal and prescription) cause physiological problems that can lead to death. Certainly, the drugs prescribed for many individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder can and do kill (even if they do, also, help prolong life for some).

But, these are factors associated with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, not some disease process itself. Such fairytales might make great sensationalistic headlines, but fairytales are all they are.

Sadly, these assertions, while likely stemming from well-intentioned sources, have the paradoxical effect of increasing stigma associated with bipolar disorder. Biological explanations of disease that are separate from one’s life circumstances have many positive aspects. For instance, they allow for a sense of validation for one’s pain and suffering, they decrease the sense of moral inferiority, and, in the words of Carrie Fisher, they “explain away my behavior.”

Everyone behaves the way they do for a reason. Usually, when one behaves in problematic ways it’s because something is wrong in their life and they are suffering. To decontextualize these behaviors, to absolve oneself of responsibility for their behaviors, and to “blame the brain” have been shown time and again to result in increased negativity, prejudice, social rejection, and fear towards those diagnosed.

As Yoda once wisely proclaimed: “Aah, hard to see, the Dark Side is.” Untruths, ideological rhetoric, and unsupported statements of fact are some tell-tale signs that the Dark Side is at work. Light comes from digging deep and finding truth.


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


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  1. Noelle, Thanks so much for explaining this so clearly.

    The ONLY way to get diagnosed with bipolar is to see a mental health professional. Without these fools, you cannot get diagnosed. Seeing mental health professionals causes stress, addiction to appointments, breakup of marriages and families, incarceration in mental hospitals, long-term unemployment, disability, revolving door syndrome, marginalization, alienation from society, and early death.

    If anyone out there is on their way to see a mental health professional, turn around and do not go. We can find another way. We can do this.

    Julie and Puzzle

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    • Yet here I am. I’ve been treated effectively for bipolar disorder for 25 years. I take my meds. I’m happy and active.

      I see my shrink every 4 months for refills. I don’t do talk therapy. I’ve been married for 33 years. Until we moved to the country and I became a full time “farmer”, “handyperson,” etc, I worked consistently for a solid 30 years. For much of that time I was a veterinary technician and a good one.

      If I die “early,” it’ll be because I was doing something I shouldn’t have. I’ve had a couple of major concussions and over a dozen broken bones. I’m an active person and play with 1100lb prey animals. Stuff happens. I’m pretty tough, but no match for a horse.

      I’ve never been hospitalized or marginalized. I’ve been married to the same man for 33 years.

      Everyone goes through trauma and stress. It’s called life and isn’t necessarily the cause for anything. I’m not a victim of abuse, and even if someone tried to abuse me, it wouldn’t work.

      By your reckoning people like me shouldn’t exist. But here we are. Many of us don’t talk about our diagnoses or treatment, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not out there.

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      • Yet here I am. I’ve been treated effectively for bipolar disorder for 25 years. I take my meds. I’m happy and active.

        Good to hear. But none of us know what your “bipolar disorder” is, neither do we care to know if you don’t wish to tell us.

        I for one dislike my bipolar diagnosis because it is deceiving.

        I was labelled bipolar purely due to mania caused by SSRI antidepressants. Never had one without psychiatric drugs.

        Calling the side effects of mind altering psychiatric drugs a disorder is a deceptive practice and has social and medical implications which I have already faced, and I had to fight my way through to bring the truth out.

        But I do know there are people out there who experience spontaneous manias. Maybe you are one of those people. I don’t know.

        I see my shrink every 4 months for refills. I don’t do talk therapy. I’ve been married for 33 years.

        That’s the way it should be. Ideally, even a larger period to get a refill.

        Until we moved to the country and I became a full time “farmer”, “handyperson,” etc, I worked consistently for a solid 30 years. For much of that time I was a veterinary technician and a good one.”

        Sounds like a good life.

        If I die “early,” it’ll be because I was doing something I shouldn’t have. I’ve had a couple of major concussions and over a dozen broken bones. I’m an active person and play with 1100lb prey animals. Stuff happens. I’m pretty tough, but no match for a horse.

        Nice to know.

        I’ve never been hospitalized or marginalized. I’ve been married to the same man for 33 years.

        Nice to know.

        Everyone goes through trauma and stress. It’s called life and isn’t necessarily the cause for anything.

        Getting raped is not the same as having an argument with your husband.

        Some things in life can cause severe torment and anguish and are causal factors in experiencing depression. It’s silly to dismiss that.

        I’m not a victim of abuse, and even if someone tried to abuse me, it wouldn’t work.

        Nice to know.

        By your reckoning people like me shouldn’t exist. But here we are.

        Of course you are. Just like many of us.

        Many of us don’t talk about our diagnoses or treatment, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not out there.

        Sure you’re out there. That’s well known.

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        • As another person who had the adverse effects of an antidepressant DSM-IV-TR misdiagnosed as “bipolar,” I’ll add to your comment. This misdiagnosis resulted, of course, in mistreatment. Antipsychotics were given to “cure” the adverse effects of the antidepressant / fictitious “bipolar.” Despite the fact every doctor should know that combining the antidepressants and / or antipsychotics can make a person “psychotic,” via anticholinergic toxidrome, which is a form of psychiatric drug poisoning.

          And being made “psychotic” via anticholinergic toxidrome does cause stress and distress, lots and lots of doctors appointments with all the doctors lying through their teeth claiming the drugs could not cause the frightening fictitious “bipolar” / actual anticholinergic toxidrome symptoms.

          This medical / psychiatric desire to deny the adverse effects of the psychiatric drugs does result in doctors lying to a woman’s husband, brainwashing him with BS about “chemical imbalances” and “bipolar” being a “life long incurable genetic disease,” which does destroy mutual respect within a marriage. Psychiatric lies that the common odd effects of the “happy horny skinny drug,” Wellbutrin, are “hyperactive sexual behavior” also destroy a husband’s desire to make love to his wife, and all this defamation of the wife does destroy marriages and families.

          It does also result in “incarceration in mental hospitals, long-term unemployment, disability,” was denied since I medically explained the misdiagnosis and egregious maltreatment. But it did result in many years of the “revolving door syndrome, marginalization,” including denial of medical insurance for my children and I for many years, “alienation from society, and [likely will result in an] early death.” And all this defamation of me resulted in my husband unexpectedly dying at the age of 46, probably in part out of shame at not protecting his wife from all the psychopathic, lying psychological, psychiatric, and even one now FBI convicted mainstream doctor.

          I will mention, according to all my family’s medical records the motives of the doctors, psychologist, and psychiatrists were to cover up easily recognized iatrogenesis and medical evidence of the sexual abuse of one of my children. And given that “the prevalence of childhood trauma exposure within borderline personality disorder patients has been evidenced to be as high as 92% (Yen et al., 2002). Within individuals diagnosed with psychotic or affective disorders, it reaches 82% (Larsson et al., 2012).” It may be an even higher rate of “bipolar” labeled people who are actually child abuse victims than you mentioned, Noel.

          In 2001 “I left the puzzle undone,” but I did eventually figure out the complex psychiatric iatrogenesis. I like the name of your pet, Julie.

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          • i strongly agree that the chances of looking like a major brain disease is very strong when the causes were from early on, went for years and even more so with one to many of the vast number of implicated genetic predispositions. There is a term for this settling in of symptoms that are externally caused which after time are near indistinguishible from born inclination. but this is the reality of all ballanc and unballance. too much yin causes too much yang, yang expires, ….every course is different but the basic causes are not. thiis is hard fr western minds. Mad errs one way, the pharmq another way. Ironic for your side more, perhaps, is the way thi will be unwoven as science gets a look under the hood, and gets away from philosophy like observed behavior and stories of labels. there are labels. they are genetic phenotypes, not ondervations of behaviors. don’t we all detet such surface decisions as are made? bet we have had, such as it has been. some saved, some not. and so we move along. your long term reaction are due to EPIGENETIC resets. they can be shown to transcend generations and be passed on. studies in ww2 famine victims, ptsd among euro jewry have been sturuied. perhap all down the 7 generations of how many the bible says of sins persistence?

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        • I think it’s really hard to change paradigms. For someone who has bought into the medical model for so long, and believes it is their salvation, embracing that the drugs can cost years of life and may not even be helpful is a terrifyingly destabilizing prospect. Then the anger that would come up! The fear! So they try to shore up their paradigm. To survive.

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          • Wow – Great insight– Artemisia, and such a nice way to explain all that. -Even the same for the person on the street– the fear if they dont buy in- where and with whom does it leave them in the event of – either them or a loved one.. becoming..what society thinks- imagines- believes- is informed- is/ or could be-or are mental illness-es-.- still i think you kinda covered that with someone – i guess being anyone- yeh it says so much in only a few lines too- and very fair- i like that- fairs- really- important. Thanks for the lesson in that- as well. now I’ve just gotta- try and keep reminding myself to practice – :-).

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          • please do not refer to THE MEDICAL MODEL. refer to the Allopathic medical model. there are others. science does not belong to them alone. they are, wonderfully, coming to reflect the older ways and even deepening our details by the wonderful tools of technology. in case you wonder, I am of TCM and a big dose of modern meridian theory via ramon y cajals and alan turing and the NIH as well. and I have less respect than you for the gneral theory that still infects us with a school that came from Heildeburg with designer fencing scars on its faces and the slogan of poison and knife. don’t paint us with tht big fat brush!!!

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      • Aurora: How much of your physical injuries are due to emotional blunting (the horse didn’t know how to read you?)

        How much are post drugs (physical dystonias?, misplaced perceptions? again, numbness and not knowing your limitations) ???

        You say you are fine, but present as accident prone. Now I accept that many people are accident prone, but those of us with long years experience with the drugs have realized that many of the things which have gone wrong have been because of drugs and doctors who give them.

        I notice nobody else drew this line, so I thought I would make an observation.

        I don’t know you – I don’t know how your accidents happened – but I am asking you to consider the role that the drugs might have played in those accidents, and consequent pain.

        Additionally, the longer you are on them, the more of a toll they will take on your health. They rob your endocrine & other systems in order to “make you work better.” Are you willing to look at that before it is too late? I’m sure your outdoor lifestyle contributes greatly to your wellness. Would you consider the next step?

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        • This is a dangerous path to go down. Ascribing things to people that they may not have, and telling them that there may be things in place that negatively influenced their life that they are not aware of (which may happen in a few cases) is not something any of us should do unless we have more information regarding the case at hand.

          We can offer a contradicting opinion about our views and our own experiences and that’s it.

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        • By the way, Risperdal causes severe osteoporosis due to missing one’s periods. this SHOULD be a huge lawsuit for women, as it is the same thing that causes breast growth in men. I experienced it myself and that is why a simple fall while walking caused a complete fracture (all the way through, not just a crack) in my femur, the largest bone in the body. That was 1999. I was otherwise fit. When I got that operated on the doc (the ortho, that is) was shocked to see the condition of my bones.

          Later, Seroquel caused such rapid weight gain that the osteoporosis reversed itself due again to hormonal imbalance caused by how rapid the weight gain was. I think it was rise in estrogen, which puts one at risk for many cancers. I am very lucky I’m even alive. After all that they claimed I never had osteoporosis. Well, they were just lucky because the original orthopedist had moved out of town. He would have set them straight.


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          • Julie! – I’m just now asking a Q? that occurred to me a few days ago, when I first read this post…. While not disagreeing w/what you’re saying, – is it possible that the rapid weight gain triggered the bones to rebuild/build up, in the same way that weightlifting might? It could be the same mechanism of action, just slightly more complicated than you’ve described. And, I had a friend whose osteoporosis was caused by Nexium, which she was given for “GERD” – “gastro-espohogeal reflux disease”. Which, *I* *think*, was caused by her traumatic, abusive, stressed-out childhood & upbringing.
            And, there’s a very good chance that there *IS* a pending class-action lawsuit against the makers of Risperdal.
            And, and, in the comment above, I think “waltinseattle” meant LEPTIN, not “lectin”…. Agreed?….
            But, mainly, in this comment, I’m wondering if the weight gain itself triggered the bones rebuilding? Maybe something like that? Seems it would be a fairly complex, multi-step process, to completely understand it….

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      • So glad you have been helped by your treatment. In my view, every person should have access to any treatment they choose to try and also the right to refuse treatment. About 1/3 of all people who try psych drugs receive a benefit from them. Those people should have them of course. But the problem is that other 2/3rds receive no benefit but are told that they need them anyway. After the diagnosis of mental illness is made, all other symptoms of dis-ease or distress are attributed to the disease, not the treatments. And now due to the 21st. century cares act, those with a mental health diagnosis can be forced even more easily (if their families or the authorities in question care to do so) to take the drugs. Anything and everything can be taken away from them including the right to refuse what is put into their bodies. And 1 in 4 people carries a psych diagnosis. This is troubling to me in the extreme. I was one who believed in the system. After I got depressed from taking a non-psychiatric pharmaceutical drug I fell into psychiatry’s sphere. Tried zoloft which made me unable to sleep or eat (along with a whole host of other nasty symptoms) for 2 weeks, and ended up in the psych hospital for 3 days. I am so sensitive to these drugs that even this short exposure led to 2 years of a post acute withdrawal syndrome. I got my own bipolar diagnosis and tried those drugs. Horrible side effects. But no benefit. And when I talked to the professionals about it, the message was always stay the course. My side effects were written off as psychosomatic. Then I found out about THIS community who have recovered from “mental illness”. I was free. I weaned from the poisons and have been symptom free for years. They were poison to me. Not to you hopefully, but if I had stayed on the drugs I would have been truly sick. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop when I thought I had bipolar. I believed I had no power to function because I had “bipolar”. But, all the time it was a withdrawal syndrome and side effects that made me present as being so sick. And I certainly was sick–but not with a chronic progressive brain disease. I was sick from drugs, a withdrawal syndrome that my body was busy healing on it’s own– which the medical industry has no knowledge or understanding of. If I’d believed them I’d still be trapped. If I’d believed them who knows what other harmful (to me) treatments I would have tried. But if even one of them had known about the withdrawal syndrome, and had said “You will heal on your own” I wouldn’t have had to go through years of pain and agony during which I missed out on much of my son’s baby time. Now there is an explosion of bipolar disorder. I don’t claim to know what this bipolar disorder is. I think it is better for each person to decide what works for them. If diagnosis/disease model is really helpful then great! More power to you. But for the 2/3rds. of the rest of us, for whom the drugs are poison, we deserve to have our side seen. This side of the story is lacking in the mainstream consciousness. How many people get knocked down by drugs of all kinds–pharmaceutical and recreational and begin to show this cyclical syndrome which mimics bipolar disorder? How many are trapped in lives of illness and despair because the message is “You are sick and the drugs make you better”? I think many many many. So be glad you are in the 1/3 for whom the dominant paradigm works. Good luck in your healing journey.

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        • we could be all working to separate the 4% of gen pop who have the SMI forms of disorders and really do need the drugs. that they are here 1/2 means of a pill taking population not the gen pop. it would be odd math if they were that and only SMI tho, considering how many are in the 2/3 but not fully born SMI geneticlly. Which, I believe, speaks to the grey area between necessary and sufficient, between born natal chi and …..ACES experiences that literally reset genes (epigenetics) not by mutattion but by EXPRESSION, methylations of the working site on gene spiral DNA parked there clicking and chugging along chug chug.

          We could all be on the same side to fix things! cept for fixatioons on yesterday and past ills and our lingering regrets over the losses.

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        • but we cant work as one as long as you spread error about how when and as alternate to what the AOT would be used. it isnt about a street sweep. it is about a diversion fro jail. is that unreasonable? you have been misled if you buy into the bad family will snap fingers b.s. this is why i com across so mad at MAD sometimes. as for accepting the harms as told in story,,, that is truth,sadly harmed by the Story that came from ?/////////////Mad and all other flat earth throwbacks,

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          • I’d rather be in jail than involuntarily drugged. At least I would know I was being punished, not “treated.”

            But you do perhaps inadvertently highlight the fact that we are talking about control, not medicine.

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          • oldhead, I will take that as your ignorance of how the mentally labeled as well as the SMI are abused in pri
            sons. Dying from pepperspray, 140degree showers you get locked in till your skin peels and sticks to the floor. Beaten and raped for fun and such, left for months in a solitary room 23/7 and no one cares if you take the food this week or not, they will sweep up after you and just insert another problem they want to be rid of. Yes, that certainly beats someone trying to be helpful.

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          • Yeah, prisons are not good places for those labeled with smi. I know someone who has been in solitary confinement for years. To be fair, he is an extremely violent person who beat someone to death. He’t not reflective of most of the mentally ill in prison confinement. However, their methods of dealing with him are counterproductive in the extreme and they are clearly not interested in rehabilitating him. I fear his eventual release because the abuse he has experienced in confinement has reinforced his violent nature instead of treating it. Most sadly, I knew this person as a child and he was extremely traumatized – every abuse you can imagine, he probably experienced it. Watching his life unfold has been like having a front row seat to a case study in how trauma destroys lives. So yeah, a prison environment is no improvement for those with labels.

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          • @PrettyPurplePill

            “Most sadly, I knew this person as a child and he was extremely traumatized – every abuse you can imagine, he probably experienced it. Watching his life unfold has been like having a front row seat to a case study in how trauma destroys lives.”

            It’s funny how in this world people who are already victimised end up becoming even more victimised. Nothing happens to the people who did those nasty things to them. Those destroyers-of-others-lives (some of whom may have been screwed over themselves) escape prison and nut houses. Their victims ending up in nut houses or jails isn’t a triumph of the justice system nor of the mental health industry. It’s a failure of both.

            When the partner of a powerful psychopathic spouse kills the abusive spouse out of desperation and a lack of help (because no one else really gives a shit), does he/she deserve to be in jail? I don’t think so.

            Naturally I would protect myself if someone who was badly screwed over and subsequently became violent tried to harm me. But, god knows how many people that don’t really deserve to be in prison OR nut houses are languishing in those places. It makes me boil just thinking about it.

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          • Oldhead, you are misinformed if you think that the treatment of mental illness in mental hospitals approaches the level of inhumanity mentally ill prisoners face.

            You seem to miss my point: “mental hospitals” ARE prisons. The level of abuse inside this prison vs. that prison is another issue.

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          • Oldhead, we get your point. you seem not to get there is no option this day. if you think that addressing hwlf of the issue is a realistic converstion, go have it. what is your statement to address the two prisons? And regards the sadistic psychopath who is such through no fault of his own…shall we set him free into the world as if he were a sinless pure lamb?

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    • Well said, Julie Greene.

      If people were given full facts and truly knew the damage “mental health care” and psych drugs can do, they’d run very far away very fast!

      It’s a known fact that many psych drugs are known to CAUSE irregular heart beat, heart damage, brain damage and lasting problems, as well as stigma and massive personal and interpersonal problems. To be locked up, tied down and drugged or shocked is appalling, but that is exactly what psychiatrists are allowed, by law, to do, and even if they don’t go to the extremes, their drugs are dangerous and ineffective…research has repeatedly shown this.

      People should not believe it cannot happen to them. I was a well paid professional who at age 50 had her life hijacked by psychiatry. Over a decade later I am still recovering, but at least I have my life. Many others (including Carrie Fisher) don’t.

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      • I’ve concluded we all need to take responsibility for the psych genocide. All of us. We cannot blame one group, psychs, nor blame ourselves, and certainly not our parents nor “society.”

        We need to take our responsibility for our part in it, but solely for the places where we had a choice. When we were given a choice and still agreed to it. When it was presented to us that perhaps there were alternatives, and yet, we stubbornly clung to the psychs, despite those doubts way back in our minds. It may, at the time, been too painful to admit to ourselves, or the grief may have seemed too much to face.

        Our families, too, may have played a part in keeping us as the family sickos, which may have been handy for them or useful for a time. Yet after a time it wasn’t. Upon realizing this, they should have stopped, and yet, they clung to it simply not knowing otherwise, or feared questioning the doctors when by all means, they should have.

        And our friends, who outright rejected us as lost causes when that was totally inexcusable behavior. Our employers who fired us, that, too, was inexcusable and illegal. Our colleges who socially rejected us or even kicked us out illegallly, all these illegal acts need to somehow be paid in restitution.

        The police, too, they should not be excused for profiling. They played a role, and need to recognize their role in murdering innocent people.

        The rest of the medical community who treated us as subhuman, that was either illegal or unethical and these need to be dealt with. All this added up to millions of deaths. We all played a part, and all of us need to face this, even patients. This was not the act of a chemical. Chemicals, as pills, don’t do anything except eventually break down in the atmosphere and then are completely benign. We may have been forced, but for the most part, this was coercion or uninformed choice. We need to acknowledge our part in it, and somehow rectify this.

        And we need acknowledge that if we aren’t “mentally ill” nor “disabled” then everyone else, our employers and those around us must also stop seeing us that way. Should this happen, the job market, along with training and schooling would then open up for us, I would hope. Perhaps some type of tapering off the “handouts” could then be arranged.

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        • With all due respect, Julie, speak for yourself. Yes, we can blame our parents and society. I certainly do with very good reason. The things I experienced as a child at the hands of my mother and father would give Dave Meltzer nightmares. I’ve reduced professionals to tears with my story – people who thought they’d heard everything. I don’t tell it often because I prefer not to traumatize people. But the gist is that my father was a serial child molester and sexually violent sadist and my mother enabled him. My mother knew his taste for little girls before she *planned* my birth and then spent my childhood reminding how grateful I should be for having been a wanted child.

          Maybe *you* don’t blame *your* parents. I certainly do blame mine. The only time blame becomes an issue is if you get stuck there. I certainly did for a long time. I didn’t know how to make the leap from placing blame for the cause to beginning the healing to become who I am today. My parents are not to blame for the poor decisions I made when I was younger that have had a lasting impact on my life, but they certainly are to blame for the damaged neural processes that led to such extreme reactivity and poor decision-making skills to start with.

          Let’s not silence victims by telling them they can’t blame their attackers for the mental damage done to them. We wouldn’t tell a rape victim to not blame her attacker for harming her. Why do we tell child abuse victims not to blame their parents? The psychiatric abuses I endured were an extension of the child abuse that led me to psychiatry’s waiting arms. I will place blame where it is due.

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          • I would bet she is talking at a larger theoretical level, where there is certainly rom for you and those I know who had very blameworthy parents. Once upon a time, in the dark afges of the 20th century it was a popular theory among philosophical psychiatrist that parents, bad mothers to be precise, caused schiz, it was nothing but Freudian balderdash, but it had place in the TRUTHS of powers not yet banished from the throne. Nowdays some try to replace mommy with the mean state. And while there is something to it, they again centralize their particular belief and enshrine it as unquestioned truth .

            I would like to hear what you have found made life better for you.

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  2. I had a psychopathically abusive father. Caused me a lot of depression. I also had mania caused due to SSRI antidepressants (which subsequently led to a bipolar diagnosis).

    How can a chaotic childhood not be a risk factor for experiencing depression, something that is part of the label of “bipolar disorder” (which just says that a person experienced depression and mania and not why they happened).

    “Saying that bipolar disorder is itself the problem is akin to saying that one’s head hurts because one has a headache, and it is the headache that is causing the head to hurt. This logic, quite literally, gives me a headache.”

    How true!

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    • That’s a bunch of convoluted logic. That’s like saying migraine sufferers have migraines because migraines make the head hurt.

      My migraines are the result of a head injury. Other people experience migraines due to hormones, weather, or other as yet undetermined causes.

      Life is full of stressors. My mother grew up during the Great Depression, lost her father at 19, and had bombs dropped on her in London during WWII. Nope, no PTSD. No problems with thunder, fireworks, or gunshots. If I believed your theory, she should have been sitting in a corner drooling.

      There are a lot of people like my mother. My uncles were drafted into the Army during WWII and the Korean war. They saw combat, yet came back to marry, have children, and normal lives and careers. No PTSD there, either.

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      • “That’s like saying migraine sufferers have migraines because migraines make the head hurt. ”

        That’s what the author said.

        “Life is full of stressors. My mother grew up during the Great Depression, lost her father at 19, and had bombs dropped on her in London during WWII. Nope, no PTSD. No problems with thunder, fireworks, or gunshots. If I believed your theory, she should have been sitting in a corner drooling”

        This implies all of us are sitting in corners and drooling. Besides, losing your father is normal thing. Bombs being dropped on London was an event that happened to lots of people at the time. That’s like saying that because I sat through a massive storm last year which caused massive financial and human damage, I should be bummed out.

        Expressing the fact that going through horrible stuff and having bad things being done to you by the actions of people (and even by one’s own actions) can cause depression is not some far fetched theory.

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      • Princess

        And I bet your uncles and your mother never talked about their experiences of the Great Depression and WWII either. I am not so sure that you can speak so clearly and surely for these people. It sounds as if you may be making a big bunch of assumptions about what these people experienced and what the results were that developed from these experiences.

        Someone else already asked you why you’re here at this site. If you’re here to share and learn from others about what’s been called “mental illness” then welcome. But if your here to beat the drum for psychiatry, and useless labeling of people, and the drugs that masquerade as “medicine” then welcome but I think you will have a very bumpy ride here. We are here to learn from one another and one of the most important things that we know is that each of us can only speak for ourselves and no one else. And, my experience is not more valuable than yours just because it’s different from yours. I congratulate you on living so well at this point in your life. What you must understand is that the majority of people don’t seem to do as well as you who have been given the label you seem to embrace so proudly.

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      • Princess, each of your comments demonstrates a clear lack of empathy for the experiences of others. I’m sorry you are not able to understand the range of effects of traumatic childhoods. Since it is illegal to experiment on human children to show cause and effect, I suggest you look at the many animal studies of behaviour to see this cause and effect in action.

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  3. Noel,

    Supposing a person is in and out of hospital for 4 years and then stops the drugs and remains well for 32 years – are they still Bipolar? Or are they “diagnosed with Bipolar”?

    Is a person allowed to say they made Recovery through not taking their medication and moving to the Talking Treatments?

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    • I commend those of you who have lived well without drugs. I know a few people like that.

      Some of the very pro-psychiatry guys would call everyone here extremist anti-drug crowd, but they do not understand why some of the people here use terms like “toxins” and “poisons” when it comes to psychotropic drugs.

      Personally, I take an SSRI called Escitalopram for one purpose only. To deal with a low mood. However, they never work the way they’re supposed to, do they? I have to take 2 more drugs just for the side effects of the SSRI. I have to take Lamotrigine because the SSRI gets me high (hypomania, in psychiatric parlance), and also Mirtazapine because it removes SSRI induced tremor.

      Thankfully, with these three drugs (at the appropriate doses) I have no side effects at all. Naturally, I wish that at some point in my life, I will be able to taper down, at least a few of them, if not all. If I feel uneasy, I can take them again, which I have no problem with because I have no side effects.

      Now, why do people call them “toxins” and “poisons”? For 10 years, I was prescribed such horrific garbage, my hands used to shake like a Parkinson’s patient. I couldn’t hold a glass properly, or draw a straight line due to SSRI induced tremor. They tried multiple drugs to treat the tremors, none of which worked, and one of which was actually a blood pressure medication due to which they would check my blood pressure all the time. Other side effects of SSRIs (back then, because of the pointlessly high doses) included sexual dysfunction (thankfully, I don’t have even a bit of that anymore), and last but not by far the least, the wonderful episodes of SSRI induced mania, which royally screwed my life up.

      The other reasons why they would call them that is because they were forced to take garbage which actually made them worse. Else, they were prescribed these drugs for problems in living that had nothing to do with being prescribed drugs.

      The second thing some people point out is the contradiction of the people here, who on the one hand say that the effects of antidepressants can sometimes be just a placebo effect, on the other hand some like me say that they get me high.

      This isn’t actually a contradiction. SSRIs get a subset of those who take them, high.

      From the case study “Antidepressant induced mania: Is it a Risk factor for antidepressant abuse?

      “During these trials, the patient had experienced hypomanic symptoms with amineptine, fluvoxamine and venlafaxine. These hypomanic symptoms would start within 3-4 days of treatment initiation and could last for about 1-2 weeks (maximum 1 month). In this period the patient describes himself as at his creative best with marked increase in his work productivity, increased libido and a top of the world feel (“I am so confident that I feel I can walk into a cabinet meeting”) with significant reduction in his obsessive symptoms.

      This description is exactly how they make me feel. And the reason SSRIs have any antidepressant effect in me at all, is because they create this artificial high (which I have to contain and nullify by using another drug, namely Lamotrigine). So, an “upper” (SSRI) + a “downer” (Lamotrigine)=normal mood. I know “upper” and “downer” are bad terms for these drugs.

      On the other hand, there are people for whom SSRIs do nothing at all. Just like Mirtazapine (even though it an [non-SSRI] antidepressant) does nothing to change my mood (though it causes sedation and vivid dreams).

      The funny thing is, it is because I came on here that I got these new side effectless drugs! And you know why? One of the doctors who writes on MIA is a colleague of the guy who gave me these new side-effectless prescriptions! He was furious that I contacted this doctor! LOL!

      Now, I am mandated by law to seek these mostly useless individuals even for a prescription, which sucks. The negatives of going to these individuals far exceeds any positives. I’m at a risk of being labelled with even more garbage, if I seek any of them out.

      I protested my bipolar diagnosis strongly, which they didn’t like. I kept telling them that it is deceptive and a nonsensical practice for them to label me with “bipolar disorder” for the side effects of SSRIs (that is the causation of mania due to SSRIs).

      Taking drugs to feel a certain way is something people have done since the dawn of time. It isn’t merely ingesting something you want to that’s a problem. There are a whole host of other things.

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      • new gen compounds are, some of them, not just sertonin inhancing but nomalizing. they reverse their signal when things go tooo high, they are not about a simple synaptic level hammer approach. we will see how these atypicals work out. another came out for parkinson dementia that does not have the parkinson “side” effects. remember that the real science of designing and understanding the variations is only a few decades old. hardly time to establish long term safety. and i cant for the life of me wnder why just the other ppsychosis app being “on label”

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    • I’m also interested in how to become “undiagnosed”. How long does someone have to be unsymptomatic for before they can declare that the whole affair was nonsense to start with? With the advent of electronic medical records, I don’t think it will be as easy for me to shed my diagnosis as it was for others I know who got out of the system over a decade ago.

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      • Dear Pretty Purple Pill, You will need to rehearse this well and be conviincing. .Your life depends on it.

        “A psychiatrist? No, I don’t think I ever saw one. I doubt it…not to my recollection, no. I never saw one.”

        “No, I don’t think I ever took anti…anti-what? What are those for? Blood pressure? No, I have been healthy. I am very careful.”

        “No, there hasn’t been any suicide nor mental illness in my family, but actually down the street I heard about that. Not in my family that i know of.”

        “Oh of course, doc. I told my previous provider to send the records twice now. The doc retired but I’ll see to it that somehow they get sent. No, the number is in my old cell phone at home. I’ll have them sent. Can you give me the form? I’ll fill it out and bring it in next time if you don’t have the records by then.” (Don’t.)

        Practice, practice, practice. Be an excellent actor. And NEVER share records. Use fake names and numbers for your relatives. Do not put your primary care doctor’s number on your fridge because your relatives will look there, duh.

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        • I was able to hand-deliver a lot of my medical records and I just deleted certain diagnoses and drugs. One time it slipped by me and my new Primary Care looked at the diagnosis of depression, turned to me and said “this has to be a mistake because that’s not you”.

          There is a knee-jerk reaction with the medical community when they see diagnosis like major depression, bipolar and schizoaffective. All of the sudden your physical complaints to them become imaginary. There are damning diagnoses in some of my charts so I just switch doctors or send the doctor a certified letter which I check on its arrival that nothing in my chart will be forwarded without written consent from me. I’ve been drug-free for a number of years and have learned not to tell new friends and acquaintances about my psychiatric history.

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      • I like your answer Julie!

        Undiagnosed is something you know in your own mind.

        I know I am not a bipolar. I list all of my “bipolar symptoms” as reactions to drugs and situational stress & relationships. I manage my stress carefully, and strive to be kind in all my interactions with other life forms.

        I could go and have it removed from all of my charts. I refer to it as “misdiagnosis” when in Doctor’s office.

        However – if I remove it from the charts, it becomes harder for me to refuse drugs. Oh no, doctor, I can’t take Lyrica for pain…oh no doctor, no Tramadol, please. Oh, no doctor, no prednisone, either. It makes me crazy, you know. And I am quite sane now.

        There are others – especially in forced treatment situations – where the diagnosis is keeping them drugged, and I have great compassion for that situation. I spent 10 years in a numb fog because “we give all bipolars lithium,” and I am certain it is worse for those who show up in full, thrashing, intrusive manifestations.

        So I am undiagnosed, and doctors are beginning to accept that. But I leave it on the charts, in the hopes that doctors can learn from their mistakes.

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        • what a totally fascinating discusson! how long does a childhood misdemeanor last? a kiss at 17 to a friend under 170? so many things are forever…that should not be. once a con , always those damn boxes to check! fascinating perspective for this issue also.

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    • Fiachra, like you, getting off the “bipolar” drugs is what cured me, too. And the DSM-IV-TR does state that misdiagnosing the adverse effects of the antidepressants as “bipolar” is a misdiagnosis for good reason. It’s staggering how many “psychiatric professionals” have committed this type of malpractice, however.

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  4. My “Bipolar 2” disorder was caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain. But it wasn’t a naturally occurring one. It was iatrogenically induced.

    I went to a shrink because I was wrestling with negative thoughts continually. This stemmed from trauma due to high school bullying and sexual harassment. The shrink saw me for ten or fifteen minutes and wrote a prescription for the “antidepressant” anafranil. I started taking it immediately. Within less than 3 days I was higher than a kite. I quit sleeping, because I was too jetted up. Within 3 weeks I was truly psychotic.

    First they put me on massive doses of haldol and stellazine (they used old school drugs because of my parents’ poor insurance.) This is while I was still in withdrawal from anafranil.

    Eventually I wound up on a “cocktail” of drugs and a Bipolar 2 label due to the lack of “highs” in my mood swings.

    Now that I’m coming off this crap I feel almost human again. And since I am going off the antidepressant last due to lengthy tapering and withdrawal symptoms I should be manic. And I’m not.

    I started out with Depression and Anxiety and wound up with Bipolar. There’s no problem so bad that a mainstream psychiatrist can’t make 10 x worse.

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  5. Thanks for taking the time to come up with this Noel.

    It is strange how time and again, the notion that “your borderline disorder” or “your bipolar illness” is causing distress keeps popping up. I have repeatedly stated this to people – a psychiatric label is not a direct cause of anything (distress is usually a derivative of other complex causes). A psych label is simply a label for an experience. Exactly what you said.

    I think these factors you listed are very powerful:

    “Biological explanations of disease that are separate from one’s life circumstances have many positive aspects. For instance, they allow for a sense of validation for one’s pain and suffering, they decrease the sense of moral inferiority, and, in the words of Carrie Fisher, they “explain away my behavior.”

    Other factors would be that the biological decontextualized narrative supports the framing of drugs as a solution to “treating” the problem, and that the biological narrative supports the notion that psychiatrists have some mystical medical expertise about life problems that other psychological professionals don’t.

    Don’t forget that an $18 billion annual industry – antipsychotic drug sales – is riding on the perpetuation of myths that bipolar disorder is a well-defined disease entity that can be effectively treated by drugs.

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    • My “bipolar” continues to stress me out. It truly is a “mental illness” in that it exists solely in the minds of people around me due to the words of the quacks I have seen who can’t even agree on my diagnosis.

      Due to the discrimination related to the people around me who treat me as though I were an imbecile or criminal sociopath, I am distressed from my “bipolar mental disease.”

      First step to recovery is getting off my neuro-toxins. Second is starting life over where no one sees me as that sick, crazy nutter. Maybe I can actually work now that I’m not exhausted due to continuous drug use and the segregating “day treatment.” 🙂

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  6. All this talk of Carrie Fisher, what about Jake Lloyd who played Anakin Skywalker (the guy who goes on to become Darth Vader), who was put in a psychiatric facility labelled with “Schizophrenia”, after he spent 10 months in jail.

    Lloyd voiced displeasure regarding his role and the way his peers in school and college treated him regarding his stint in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. And to be honest, there was quite a backlash from fans over the Star Wars prequels.

    Here’s an interview with him a few years ago on these issues.

    Lloyd’s story did not get much coverage.

    Personally, I think he did just fine as young Anakin.

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    • Unfortunately a lot of mentally ill people land in jail because there are so few hospitals. Jail only makes things worse.

      It’s unfortunate that Lloyd felt bullied, but there are examples of child stars who have gone on to lead happy productive lives, like Jodie Foster, Brooke Shields, the actors from Harry Potter, and Ron Howard. I doubt that they escaped any unpleasantness along the way.

      They probably experienced common “traumas”, but their reactions to these “traumas” were very different.

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      • Are you suggesting that we all ‘cope’ the same way, and that’s what make one ‘mentally healthy’? What does being ‘mentally healthy’ mean to you? Perhaps economic productivity? What is ‘normal’ and just who gets to decide that?

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      • Princess Aurora, If you just take drugs, and you do not see yourself as mentally ill nor are seen as mentally ill, then you aren’t. You’re just a drug-taker. Which is your business. Many people take drugs, legal ones or street ones, for a variety of reasons, including drugs that influence how they think or feel, but they don’t think of themselves as mentally ill nor are perceived as such. They aren’t, either.

        The only disability is perceived disability. You are just taking a drug, and hardly see the shrink at all. Frankly I think that’s completely your business. Things would radically change if you went to go to “day treatment” five days a week, six hours a day, or if you lived in a halfway house, or if the drug side effects made you look like a mental patient in public.


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        • Well, all that would be “her business” as well, as are all such choices if they are made with “informed” consent (which is rare). But yes, just taking a drug is her right and our right. The attempt to cloak it in the trappings of medicine and recommend it to others is what becomes problematic. (I know you know this, just stating it for the record.)

          It should also be acknowledged that in the end Aurora is only repeating what she has been “taught,” she’s not responsible for the agenda behind it and probably hasn’t thought about it a lot, as most people assume psychiatrists know what they’re talking about.

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          • Well, I daresay we have honestly tried to educate people like that on this blog. All we can do is present them with the information. What they choose to do with it is up to them.

            It took me four years to make up my mind to come off my drugs, It was not a lightly made decision. Maybe I’ll write an MIA blog post in the future, as long as anonymity is allowed. Afraid of how my family members would react.

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        • I have heard some people say they were clinically depressed but no one could tell. In other words they had no “symptoms”. But they took a survey and found out they needed antidepressants. How is this possible?
          Well, that’s how Psychiatry works. It is all a matter of descriptions of feelings and then a match game to get the drug cocktail just right. I just read another person who said it “took the doctors three years to get the medications right”.
          This is nonsense. After three years, who knows why she was alright. She might have been healthy after three years anyway, without any so called “medications”, which will shorten her life, among other things.
          The Princess seems to be doing quite well with her drugs and doctor visits.
          But like it or not, drugs catch up with you and cause liver, kidney, thyroid, and all sorts of other biological problems. Just because shrinks believe the brain is abnormal doesn’t mean a damaged brain is the only effect.
          I also don’t understand why some people show up on MIA and then get their bipolar feelings hurt when they express opinions that are pro labels, pro drugs, and with obvious Kool-Aide drinking behaviors.
          If only Princess would get off drugs, maybe she isn’t “mentally ill” at all.

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      • Princess, it’s time for you to stop proselytizing and start educating yourself. Most people here find phrases such as “mental illness” highly insulting and invalidating, not to mention scientifically and grammatically impossible. You seem pretty educated, do you know what an analogy is? That’s all the terms “mental” health and “mental” illness are. We’re not talking about actual diseases, as Noel pretty articulately explained above. And therein lies the deception of psychiatry.

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        • how odd to see a mad proponent saying what we want too. “lets give up ‘mental illness’ and say ‘brain disease’, lets get out of the behavioral health b.s. and get the SMI to a neurologic doc.”

          and yes there is DISABILITY. like mental retardation that seeps into autistic spectrum and basic systems of circuits we now see missing but not along the traditional diagnostic boundaries. there are underlying deficiencies. the romanticism of manic highs can not put it all under the rug, and trying to is so dishonesst. it is a disability to not be able to deed ones self, a certain genius also happens to have a disability. he was also abused by a wife. genious and victim and disability all in one well known package. get over the whinning and denialss!

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      • Princess

        You are wrong about Brooke Shields. Brooke (who had a very controlling mother who allowed her to be photographed nude as a child) ended up with a depression diagnosis and put on antidepressants. She became a poster child for Biological Psychiatry’s bogus diagnoses and drug treatments.

        Unfortunately, she became a target of Tom Cruise’s Scientology rants which was not only unfair to Brooke Shields, but also gave *System* critics a bad name.


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  7. Fisher was set up/set herself up to be used later by opportunistic shrinks like Satel. Fisher says this to a ‘bipolar victim’ in the Guardian piece: “You’re lucky to have been diagnosed as bipolar and accepted that diagnosis at such a young age.” Fisher accepted conventional psychiatry’s views and drugs, and will be forever seen as part of the ‘anti-stigma’ crowd that pharma loves and is served by. She was a smart person and could have informed herself otherwise.

    Actor Jim Carey, and Robert Kennedy, Jr, have both been skewered for openly questioning the accepted lines on vaccination. Those of us who are informed on the vaccination issues really admired their public stands. I’m looking forward to the courageous famous person with a public platform who comes out against psychiatric diagnoses and drugs.

    Liz Sydney

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    • Other than Tom Cruise. 🙂

      If communities such as MIA continue to grow and let such people know we have their backs (something we are not currently strong enough to honestly say imo) it seems like it should only be a matter of time. But they will be met with organized corporate brickbats, the likes of which we haven’t seen for some time.

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  8. I’ve been beside myself regarding all of the blatantly false information whirling around, so thank for shedding a bit of light and justice to the cause here!

    In my own journey, I find the allure for a biological narrative, which offers powerful validation, to have been seductive. Falling for this narrative has prevented healing and kept me sick (and many times sicker) longer with psychotropic drugs.

    Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see what kind of attention Psychiatry Today was giving to Carrie Fisher. Well, it’s not pleasant to say the least. Frankly, it’s outright disgusting, which comes in spades with psychiatry and their drugs, and I just nearly vomited when I read the following passage (reader has fair warning–this is what psychiatrists and psychiatrists-in-training are reading): “She [Carrie Fisher] was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 24, but like so many with the condition, she avoided treatment– apparently enjoying the milder manic states. Like many others, perhaps she tried to self-medicate with street drugs and professional treatment. Eventually, the professional treatment seemed to win out. The unjustly stigmatized ECT played an essential role. As she told us, though medication helped some, too, ECT probably saved her life and could save many more if it was more generally available” (H. Steven Moffic, MD 12/29/16).

    I would have commented on their website, but the comments are only open for “qualified healthcare professionals” only. Moffic is advocating the expansion of ECT. Since druggers and electrocutors are so damn trigger happy, it’s best to just stay away from their deranged lunatic frenzied asses! They need to go play in traffic.
    I can say from my own experience psychotropics have only temporary relieved symptoms and have always, always made symptoms worse and always always created new symptoms for druggers to treat. They’re not interested in talking or trained in contextualizing cause-and-effect (e.g. reaction to drugs, psychosocial experiences, & diagnoses). They should be grasping for the last threads of legitimacy to justify themselves as a profession, yet here they are exploiting people’s vulnerabilities and fears while distorting the death of Fisher and Reynolds to advance psychiatric drugs and ECT. Talk about adding insult to injury. We need more MIA news mainstream! I’ve learned to stay away from those alien witch hunters! Going to the movies.

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  9. Thank you all for commenting and for the discussion. I think it’s good that not everyone agrees and that individuals with different perspectives have taken the time to comment on this site. Looking at the world, at our families, at ourselves with nuance and openness is painful and difficult for all of us – there is a reason that people do not wish to question the status quo regardless of the topic at hand.

    To clarify, though, for some who seem to find upset with my article- nowhere do I deny that individuals suffer, sometimes intensely, in the ways that a bipolar label might describe. Nor do I deny that there are complex and interacting factors that contribute to the way any individual experiences and deals with the world. Nothing is so simplistic and linear to say X causes Y or we wouldn’t be having these disagreements in the first place.

    Can psychiatric drugs cause mania? Absolutely. Is all mania caused by psychiatric drugs? no. Can childhood trauma and chronic stress cause extreme emotions and manic states? Absolutely. Are all emotional experiences such as this caused by child abuse? No.

    Further, there is a big difference between chaotic and dysfunctional family dynamics and other “life stressors” and non-relational trauma. Big differences. Plus, I don’t know what “normal” is. Is it being able to witness the most horrific behaviors of mankind in war and go on about your life as if the world is still good and nothing happened “normal”? I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Is normal not being able to consider evidence that contradicts your views or to question authority and the status quo? Maybe it is. In that case, I am proud to not be normal and hope that I never become so.

    This article is brief and is based on solid research. I do not deny that temperament, complex life circumstances, drugs, and other unknown factors cause the troubling experiences often labeled as bipolar. But, like my analogy to the headache suggests, it is important to spend time understanding what is causing these experiences instead of relying on the idea that the experiences are caused by the experiences.

    Again, thanks to all for this conversation. Happy New Year.

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    • But, like my analogy to the headache suggests, it is important to spend time understanding what is causing these experiences instead of relying on the idea that the experiences are caused by the experiences.

      Yes. Definitely a good place to start at least.

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  10. Thanks for clarifying again. I was labeled bipolar for convenience only as I was never manic nor had anything other than normal mood swings. I think the doc that decided changed it from schiz since my parents pointed out that the schiz was obviously false and he agreed but had to call me something to keep his job.

    With much hindsight I can say those shrinks were complete fools.


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    • Shaun, Perhaps you are also aware that this organization from the article (This is my Brave) is funded largely by drug company money, specifically the maker of these two drugs:

      As noted on the right hand side of their website:

      To respond to the actual topic, people don’t “have” or not have “bipolar disorder”: people having feelings of mania and depression exist on continua with less moody, better functioning people/states of mind, and there is no clear cut-off point at which one has a disease, nor are these adverse experiences diseases. That is why no biomarkers for so-called bipolar disorder have been discovered, nor likely will they.

      From the object relations developmental viewpoint that I favor, bipolar states of mind represent a developmental arrest between more severe psychoses and what are called “borderline” states. But these experiences, which are often associated very strongly with adverse psychosocial factors, are not illnesses, nor are they necessarily lifelong or non-transformable, as we discuss over at ISPS (

      If a discrete disease process causing moody ups and downs were discovered, such a problem would become the domain of neurology, anyway, and psychiatry would not be needed.

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      • Matt,
        Thanks for sharing this information. It isn’t surprising, albeit disappointing, that a drug company is funding an organization whose mission is to de-stigmatize mental illness. Obviously, it is their objective to encourage more people to take psych drugs. No doubt there is a financial motivation there. I also checked out the potential side effects of their drugs and if I were in the position of considering taking them, I would probably say no looking at the horrific things that can occur.

        Regarding your second part of the post, I do agree that symptoms/behaviors exist on a continuum. I don’t think we’ve yet developed a better way of describing and categorizing any set of symptoms. What I am most interested in as a therapist is helping people to cope with their symptoms in healthy ways. I don’t want to see any of them drugged up.

        I believe we still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding how the brain works and how to fix brain problems, like a person who has no ability to feel empathy. My hope is that neuroscience will be able to decipher and clarify these issues to prevent modern medicine from harming people by their treatments.

        I do think the field of psychiatry would be better off going into either neurology or psychotherapy. It is clear that most of these prescribed drugs have serious, concerning SEs that aren’t being alleviated anytime soon.

        I do have a question for you, Matt, as it is clear you put a lot of thought into your posts. How would you describe someone who presents as unable to feel empathy and enjoys hurting others? In my field we call it Antisocial Personality Disorder, or sociopathy. I believe that this, like all other human thought and behavior, derives from the brain. It is clear that something is abnormal about people who enjoy killing or harming others, feeling no guilt or remorse. I struggle with accepting that these type of people are like the rest of us, who are able to feel a wide range of emotions such as guilt and shame. Is it fair to say that these folks, who have structurally different brains, are mentally ill?

        Also, here’s some interesting info from MRI scans suggesting that schizophrenia is also a brain disease. They have studied folks who are on psych drugs and those who aren’t.

        Thanks again for the dialogue. These conversations are helpful to deepen my appreciation for the complexity of the human condition.

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        • Shaun, I want to ask why you directed that question to Matt specifically. Do the rest of us lack insight, perhaps because we did more time in the System? Yeah I know Matt does a lot of research on his own into “studies.” I happen to dislike “studies” of that type myself. Know why? I study the arts and my particular master’s degree, which I earned with flying colors by the way, is in creative writing and literature. My own catalog of knowledge is mostly in my head, my multitude of memories of the days, weeks, and months I spent on the wards. Bet my “contact hours” top yours. Frankly, I got enough “study”in my memory to fill volumes. For my master’s degree I read some 60 books, many by “mad” people including a number by Virginia Woolf and wrote a paper on every single book I read. Yet you don’t consider me credible enough, a person with a master’s degree in memoir, to direct a question to me regarding human conscience. That’s funny, we writers write of this question all the time. Not to poke you in an Achilles’ heel or anything, but just to point that out…..We’re are all here in this room. Those group leaders used to remind us, “Talk to the group.” Ha ha.

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        • I know this question was directed at Matt, but I like the question and would like to take a stab at it myself, because it is direct and relevant to our current social dynamic.

          “How would you describe someone who presents as unable to feel empathy and enjoys hurting others?”

          Deep, profound suffering due to chronic heart and spirit wounding. A lifetime of getting kicked to the curb, resulting in feelings of powerlessness. Hurting others is one way to demonstrate power over others.

          I do wonder where it all begins, what are the core wounds? That would be different for everyone. And then, how to heal those wounds, and all that has piled on as the result of them over the years, in order to alleviate the suffering. That would also be unique to each individual.

          What I’m not at all fond of is the DSM version of human suffering. That is based on the illusions of separation and elitism, and sorely lacks empathy in and of itself, as well as any sense of the human experience or true diversity. It’s actually quite insulting to humankind and causes only more suffering, confusion, and wounding for people–literally adding insult to injury.

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          • “I struggle with accepting that these type of people are like the rest of us, who are able to feel a wide range of emotions such as guilt and shame.”

            I respect your confession here, Shaun, but this is a really powerful and revealing statement. Guess again if you think “these types of people” (that phrase alone says it all, along with “like the rest of us”) do not feel a wide range of emotions. Guilt and shame are imposed on people who go through the system, and it is felt profoundly. Where do you think the rage comes from?

            Trust me, we feel a wider range of emotions than you could ever imagine. You need to go through this as a client in the public system to get it, that’s the only way. Were you to feel guilt and shame deeply enough, you’d know what I mean.

            And btw, “these types of people” and “like the rest of us” is the essence of discrimination, marginalization, stigma, and social oppression leading to systemic abuse. It’s called “bigotry.”

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          • I agree. i do not think there’s such think as a psychopath nor such thing as a sociopath and I will not use those words. I will sometimes note if a person seems to present themselves as not sharing their personal possessions when they should be doing so, failing to make space for others, failing to hear when they should, turning away when they should not be turning away, but these are poor choices, not disorders of one’s character. Secondly, we observers do not, by default see the entire story. Think of a stone. We cannot see the entire stone. We see one side. The other side is not visible because it is the on the side not facing us. I can tell you that on the other side of that stone is the other side of the story we have not heard.

            When a woman passes by your house walking a dog and her dog leaves poop and you look out and possibly suggest she pick up the poop, and her reaction is to shrug and walk on, does she lack a conscience? On the visible side, perhaps.

            The other side of the stone is the side we do not see. On that side is that she has just run out of her house very fast because again, her husband has threatened both her and the dog. Much like the Jews who rushed out of Egypt with no time to allow the dough to rise, this woman didn’t have time to grab a plastic bag to pick up the poop. As her dog left a mess in her yard, she is terrified wondering were she and her dog will spend the night tonight, and neglected to apologize. Does she lack a conscience? If she did, she would have left the dog behind! We cannot judge others based on only the half we see.

            We do not know the entire stories of celebrities such as Carrie Fisher. Sure, we know Princess Leia, and we know the very public Carrie, but other than that, there’s a whole other side of that stone that we never saw, and maybe will not see for a long time.


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  11. Hi everyone, I’m new here. I’m a recovering psych pill addict. I had numerous issues with withdrawal syndrome. The most memorable was the most recent one from Pristiq and Lamicatal.

    There was a donut hole in my insurance; for instance, I did not reach my deductible for my insurance company to provide me with Pristiq. Then I was charged 400.00 a bottle because there were no generics at the time.

    I had experienced withdrawal syndrome from the Pristiq after being put on Effexor generic because that’s all the Advantage Plan would cover.

    I was forced to petition Pfizer for free meds. In an effort to recieve better care. I dropped my meds and insurance. This was before the ACA had parity laws.

    When I dropped my Advantage Care plan, Medicare wouldn’t cover the PCP that was perscribing my meds. That forced me into a cold turkey withdrawal. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever been through. I survived sexual abuse,
    mental and physical abuse. I also would’ve done anything to stay on my pills. After all I’ve been on them since I was 12.

    Fast forward to today, I’m up for Social Security review, and I have to see a psychiatrist again. I’m currently waking up drenched in sweat, and I’m having nightmares thinking about going on the pills again.

    I don’t think I can take another withdrawal, so I’m starting to believe it’s much easier, and safer just to deal with crippling panic attacks and undiagnosed trauma, get a job, and pray to find a talk therapist to deal with my trauma because I’m in my 40s, off the pills, and this has been the best time of my life.

    The risk to cure is just too great. I already have fat stranding in my pancreas and pancreatitis. I am getting older and I wish to live my life free, healthy and without coercion.

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    • HumanMusic, welcome. I sympathize. The Social Security Disability system basically requires you to be hooked on psychiatric drugs in order to receive disability even if you have a documented history of the pills not helping. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of someone unmedicated who passed their review as that is usually considered non-compliant. (Someone chime in if I’m wrong, please!) However, there is nothing saying you have to take the pills that are prescribed, and few of them have blood level tests available. Hope that helps.

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    • There is no requirement for you to cooperate with biological psychiatry treatments like drug treatment for you to collect Social Security Disability payments or Veterans Affairs disability payments. Once your psychiatric disability has been officially established, the agency concerned would have to have you examined by one of their own psychiatrists who would have to certify that (absent any fraud on your part) your “illness” no longer exists. That ain’t gonna happen. You might be found to be in remission, but your “incurable brain disease” could flare up again at any time – especially under the stress of having your income cut off.

      Any number of “support groups” spread the disinformation that you must continue your medication and “therapy” or risk loss of your pension. Look closer and you will find that these groups are running dogs of establishment biological psychiatry and the drug industry.

      I was called in for a Social Security Disability review after I had recovered ( my Veterans Affairs fee-basis doctor termed it a spontaneous remission) my health through orthomolecular therapy at my own expense. I was quite open about my experience with the examiner and yet he wrote in the record that my “disability was continuing” and I was never called in again. I began to work again at my own little business under the SS Trial Work Program and I obtained a letter for SS from my Veterans Adminstration general practitioner which stated that my orthomolecular program should be considered “a reasonable and necessary work-related expense” which allowed me to deduct the cost from the amount I earned under SSD. With that deduction, and all the other deductions you have in a small business, I never exceeded the income limits for disability and SSD and Medicare continued until they changed to retirement at age 65. Now I can earn as much as I want.

      The attitude of the Veterans Administration was quite similar (APA biological psychiatry) and my service-connected disability was made permanent and total with no restrictions on employment or income. Some say I gamed the system, but the system is a very dangerous game itself when “mental illness” is involved. Biological psychiatry has attached itself like a cancer to legitimate medicine and spreads corruption throughout the profession.

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        • For sure! So today I turn 59. In six years I can earn as much as I want without penalty. I do not like them looking over my shoulder. It is the Biggest Fraud Ever. However, we did not commit this fraud. I say this because….

          There is a segment of the population who were falsely told they had epilepsy. This was merely a form of epilepsy that is transient. However, they were told it was permanent and advised to get sterilized. Many did, only to discover the doctors were incorrect. I have no clue if there was ever any sort of class action lawsuit. One article I read was totally sugar-coated saying that the woman involved ended up conceiving despite going through sterilization. I felt it was irresponsible of the journalist to leave out how the woman felt about having her life stolen because she had to live as “disabled” for many years. And what of the others? I knew someone, in fact. Because of this error, he came close to suicide.

          And what of us? Welfare fraud. I feel that this is the worst of psych crimes. Taking us out of society. Putting us out of work. Calling us disabled. Many of us could have worked. Some needed a break. I, certainly, did not need a three-decade break. I can’t find a job due to this lengthy gap in my work history. It has been hard enough to lie and explain it away. I think the docs should PAY UP. It was inexcusable.

          I agree, we did play some part in it, but mostly, it was the docs and therapists who continued to insist “You are….”

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          • “And what of us? Welfare fraud. I feel that this is the worst of psych crimes. Taking us out of society. Putting us out of work. Calling us disabled. Many of us could have worked. Some needed a break. I, certainly, did not need a three-decade break. I can’t find a job due to this lengthy gap in my work history. It has been hard enough to lie and explain it away. I think the docs should PAY UP. It was inexcusable.”

            This right here. I believe I was funneled onto the disability system. My psychotherapist at the time told me I “needed a break” and “my brother is on the disability board and your application will go across his desk so it’ll be approved”. I don’t know what I’m more embarrassed about – the fact that I didn’t catch that as fraud at the young age of 23, or that I allowed that break to go on for 14 years under the guise of being a “compliant patient” even when their treatments created (seriously) crazy where it did not previously exist.

            “I agree, we did play some part in it, but mostly, it was the docs and therapists who continued to insist “You are….””

            The whole concept of compliance sets up a ‘good patient/bad patient’ dichotomy. “Trust the doctor.” “Do as the doctor orders.” “The doctor knows best.” “You’re ill.” “The doctor says you need this medicine.” These messages, which all fall under the logical fallacy of Appeal to Authority take wisdom and maturity to see through and resist.

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      • “There is no requirement for you to cooperate with biological psychiatry treatments like drug treatment for you to collect Social Security Disability payments or Veterans Affairs disability payments. Once your psychiatric disability has been officially established, the agency concerned would have to have you examined by one of their own psychiatrists who would have to certify that (absent any fraud on your part) your “illness” no longer exists.”

        Actually, the debate is not over whether SSA requires compliance with drug treatment to receive disability, it is over how someone could possibly prove they continue to be disabled if they are no longer in treatment. The SSA’s focus on treatment compliance is because they do not consider people disabled if the treatment heals them (say, like taking insulin for diabetes). So if you stop treatment, you not only have to prove that you continue to be symptomatic, you also have to prove that you didn’t stop a treatment that made you substantially better.

        “Some say I gamed the system, but the system is a very dangerous game itself when “mental illness” is involved.”

        Yes, it does sound like your case is unique. I doubt it happens very often that someone goes into natural remission and is still considered disabled. And you don’t have to go to NAMI or other pharma front groups to get this info. There are plenty of disability rights and support forums where people come to complain about an unfavorable CDR determination after they have dropped out of treatment. And they get appropriately mocked because well, exactly HOW do you prove you’re psychiatrically disabled without being in psychiatric treatment? What observable metric are you using?

        Social Security Administration is pretty clear about compliance.

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        • “INTRODUCTION: Individuals with a disabling impairment which is amenable to treatment that could be expected to restore their ability to work must follow the prescribed treatment to be found under a disability, unless there is a justifiable cause for the failure to follow such treatment. This policy statement discusses failure to follow prescribed treatment, explains in detail the requirements necessary for such a finding, explains the consequences of such action, and illustrates examples of justifiable causes for “failure.”

          That part of Social Security Disability law is primarily concerned with physical disabilities. Mental disabilities (which as many of us know are frequently the direct result of “compliance with treatment”) are not even mentioned. Once a person has been found to be totally and permanently mentally disabled by the VA or SS, I can’t imagine any psychiatrist prescribing a drug with the expectation that that drug will enable the person to again take up substantial and gainful employment. And if our government tried to make the taking of that drug a requirement for receipt of disability payments for the above-mentioned permanent and total disability, civil rights lawyers would have a field day. The fact that a very few people, like Carrie Fisher, are able to comply with treatment and yet be gainfully employed does not generalize to the population of “seriously mentally ill” as a whole.

          My situation was somewhat unique and I will be the first to say that I could never be so lucky again. I will re-post below the narrative I related in another Carrie Fisher story here on MIA. My experience in the US Submarine Force enabled me to deconstruct the lithium/bipolar scam, which is the soft underbelly of biological psychiatry and an easy target for those inclined to retaliate. My last psychiatrist misjudged me and probably figured I’d just pick up my winnings and disappear, afraid to say anything that could cut off the payments. He later rose to presidency of the APA.

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          • My remission was not “natural”. I used the services of Analytical Research Labs and followed a strict diet plan and took about 45 supplements tablets per day starting in 1982. After a difficult withdrawal from Haldol, I never required another medication again, not even an aspirin.

            I had been working for a government contractor in nuke weapons at the time of my first diagnosis (mid-1970s).

            In 1968, lithium (lithium hydroxide) actually saved the lives of the crew on the old diesel boat I was on. When we could not surface or snorkel after being discovered at a yacht club where we not members, the lithium hydroxide from sealed one gallon GI cans was spread on the bunks whee it absorbed CO2 and turned to LiCO (the “medication”) and water, H2O. Lithium Hydroxide is a very dangerous toxin and caused respiratory irritation before it turned to a moist mush.

            When I was first prescribed lithium, I told the doctor about this exposure, but he was not interested and neither were the numerous other psychiatrists I encountered in the next eight years. One even wrote in my records that I was under the delusion that lithium pills were spread on my bunk on the submarine.

            Fortunately some co-workers were curious when they saw my severe tremors and when I told them they were lithium shakes, they said the doctor who gave me that stuff must have his head up his ass. Lithium is an atomic bomb element, and they knew all about it. They said to look it up in the Toxic Substances Act, and I did. One also suggested I get a tissue mineral analysis from Analytical Research Labs which was doing security clearances for the National Nuke Labs, and I did. From the lab I learned about orthomolecular therapy and the work of Drs. Hoffer, Smythies, Osmond, Pauling, Pfeiffer, Eck et al. who were my deliverance from the biological psychiatry scam.

            The lithium/manic-depression scam is quite simple. Lithium, a toxin in any amount, is chemically similar to potassium, an essential found in every cell of the body. If an individual has a severe potassium deficiency, often accompanied by an inversion of the normal sodium/potassium ratio, “mood swings” can result.

            Prior to Cade’s discovery of lithium therapy for manic- depression in Australia (a very bad place to be diagnosed with “mental illness I hear) in the 1960s, the compound potassium bromide was the drug of choice for the disorder, and it worked quite well except for bromine toxicity. All “The Old Bromides” were abandoned during that same era, and the chelated mineral supplements we had by the late 1970s were not yet available. They would be non-prescription in any case and not of interest to APA-type psychopharmachologists.

            A dangerous, prescription potassium compound, potassium chloride, KCL, trade name Klyte has been used by some doctors who recognized the obvious potassium deficiency in “bi-polar” patients. Lithium ingestion is well-known to cause potassium deficiency.

            Lithium was perfect. It quieted down those pesky mood swings and creative outbursts, but it was also dangerous and required regular (read lifetime) monitoring with blood work. If the patients were still unruly, and most were, an anti-psychotic like Thorazine or Haldol could be added to the mix, and new diagnoses like schizo-affective disorder created to describe the horror which resulted from substituting a toxin for an essential element.

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          • I did a study of lithium for a research paper in college, the name Cade rings a bell. They accidentally “discovered” lithium value to the psych industry while using it with guinea pigs for other reasons. What they liked about it was that it would sedate someone without overt symptoms, such a drooling in the corner or doing the “Thorazine shuffle.”

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          • “That part of Social Security Disability law is primarily concerned with physical disabilities. Mental disabilities (which as many of us know are frequently the direct result of “compliance with treatment”) are not even mentioned. Once a person has been found to be totally and permanently mentally disabled by the VA or SS, I can’t imagine any psychiatrist prescribing a drug with the expectation that that drug will enable the person to again take up substantial and gainful employment. And if our government tried to make the taking of that drug a requirement for receipt of disability payments for the above-mentioned permanent and total disability, civil rights lawyers would have a field day. The fact that a very few people, like Carrie Fisher, are able to comply with treatment and yet be gainfully employed does not generalize to the population of “seriously mentally ill” as a whole.”

            Ok, I agree and that makes perfect sense logically. Still, how does one prove one is still disabled if one is no longer in treatment?

            This is kind of personal to me and that is why I am pressing the issue. The last therapist I saw (very briefly) both admitted that she moonlighted as a paid CDR examiner for the Social Security Administration and also stated quite explicitly that she didn’t believe *anyone* with mental illness should be receiving disability payments at all. “Everyone can contribute meaningful work” were pretty close to her exact words. There seems to be a strong political push to purge the system – and depending on which social channel you’re tuned into, those of us with so-called SMI are either mental defectives in need of coercive care or we’re malingerers gaming the system. Thanks to the massive amount of stigma from all quarters toward the mentally ill, sometimes I feel like I’m seen as both malingering and in need of forced treatment all at the same time. The act of recovery can put you in a precarious position of needing assistance while rejecting the most widely available and publicly acceptable “treatment” that exists.

            Subvet, I think one of the differences in your case is that you were still under the care of a physician willing to say you were still disabled, and you had treatment record showing you were doing something – even if it wasn’t psychiatric drugs. I am neither in the VA system, nor do I have the funds to pursue alternative care that Medicare doesn’t cover. That is why I say your situation is atypical. You were still under care. I am not. It doesn’t sound like HumanMusic is receiving alternative care either. I would venture to say that many, if not most, people who drop out of the traditional psychiatric system cannot afford cash-pay alternative treatments that Medicare does not cover. During a CDR, SSA looks at the last year of medical treatment to prove continuing disability. If you have simply dropped out of the system, what evidence can you produce to prove continuing disability? I have heard of too many in this situation to chock it up to NAMI fear-mongering.

            To bring the conversation back to topic, the ability of Carrie Fisher to stay in treatment and remain gainfully employed is a ruse in my opinion. This is purely speculation, but I wonder how long Fisher would have lasted gainfully employed as a drugged up checkout clerk or a telemarketer or a personal health aide making minimum wage rather than a pampered celebrity. No disrespect meant to Fisher, just, she isn’t who I think of at all when I think of someone living well with SMI because her lifestyle was so unlike those of us non-celebrities. Not that money buys happiness, but I’m pretty sure I could buy some coping ability if I was loaded with millions too. The fact that she blamed her street drug abuse on mental illness but claimed to need psychiatric drugs to be a good person, suggests to me that she chose one set of drugs over another simply because society told her that was what was expected of her. The fact that she continued to struggle despite being medicated tells me the legal drugs didn’t truly work for her. The fact that she called mental illness “like a virus” sounds like blaming biology for bad behavior that unfortunately further enables those who wish to view us as fundamentally defective.

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          • As for not receiving treatment and still getting disability I think it’s an individual matter. Let’s put it this way. They damaged my kidneys. Then, they failed to notice I had diabetes insipidus (which is kidney damage) for 27 years and instead called it “addiction to water.” No, it wasn’t. I really do need to consume six liters of water on a normal day. I cannot get by on one liter as I will become dangerously dehydrated. Secondly, they failed to inform me that my kidneys were failing. Thirdly, when I went into kidney failure and full code, and then, revived me, again, they did not inform me of this. So now I live with damaged kidneys due to their gross errors. I doubt they expect me to trust them again! What am I supposed to do, go back and let them muck it up worse?

            They gave me Risperdal which caused bone deterioration, which they never admitted even after I broke my leg. They gave me Seroquel which caused my weight to double. I got raped and they didn’t notice. When my boyfriend died, they didn’t seem to notice that, either. When I ended up with a cracked tooth, they handed me a Haldol.

            They have demonstrated such wonderful competence, I’d say…I’d recommend them in an instant…well, if you wanna get killed, but other than that, no. I think SS is embarrassed, and looking over three decades of this circus they are most likely having a good chuckle for themselves.

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          • “Subvet, I think one of the differences in your case is that you were still under the care of a physician willing to say you were still disabled, and you had treatment record showing you were doing something – even if it wasn’t psychiatric drugs.”

            No, in fact the eminent psychiatrist refused to make anymore appointments with me once I had withdrawn from Haldol with his cautious approval and presented in what he termed a “spontaneous remission”. Not only did he make no mention of my independent use of orthomolecular therapy in my records (now lost), but he would not even say the words “orthomolecular therapy”, calling instead “The Hoffer Thing”.

            “The last therapist I saw (very briefly) both admitted that she moonlighted as a paid CDR examiner for the Social Security Administration and also stated quite explicitly that she didn’t believe *anyone* with mental illness should be receiving disability payments at all. “Everyone can contribute meaningful work” were pretty close to her exact words.”

            I doubt that therapist was a psycho pharmacologist, although I can understand how many psychologists or social workers might have that attitude. Biological psychiatrists depend on permanent mental disability cases for far too much of their income and for the income of the drug companies they pimp for to say such a thing. Most biological psychiatrists just want anyone who recovers by drug-free alternative means to quietly go away. The fear of losing income helps to guarantee the silence of the recovered, and so the myth is perpetuated throughout the industry.

            When I had the one CDR in all the years I received SSD (and worked most of them) I had not had any mental health treatment for about ten years.

            I suggest that you seek the assistance of a good law firm, experienced in Social Security Law, Constitutional Rights and malpractice. If you try to fight this by yourself you might well have your benefits cut by an administrative judge and have to appeal anyway. Why don’t you contact Jim Gottstein who contributes to MIA and see what he suggests?

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          • Julie, that is truly horrific. I am so sorry. I am grateful that I do not appear to be suffering any long-term physical ill effects from the treatments other than significant memory deficits which I attribute to the ECT and long-term antipsychotic use and inability to reliably structure my time effectively. And even that is improving . . . simply with the passing of time.

            I don’t yet feel comfortable sharing too many specifics – I’m still in the delicate time period of proving I’m not crazy without drugs, but I so so sympathize with the weight-gain. I had already had one surgery due to the excess weight and I was teetering on the edge of having gastric bypass surgery when a friend suggested I ditch the Seroquel – lost 100 lbs in four months after doing that and have kept it off. I remember the insatiable hunger – waking up in the middle of the night to make a meal – and the extra skin that I developed from the rapid weight gain from Seroquel and that I still have is a reminder that I never want to experience that again.

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          • You know what is really funny…..I’ll be out, say, for a few hours and then get so thirsty and stop at a store and get maybe a liter bottle of water, gatorade, or whatever is cheapest, even coke if it’s on sale. If I didn’t have to drink it in public I’d get the 2 liter bottles (never mind have to carry them). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in cash register lines and can’t wait to break into that bottle. I feel like I am going to die of thirst if I don’t. So within minutes, down goes that entire liter. Yes, I do get stared at. I’m waiting for the day someone ‘informs” me, “You can die doing that, you know…” I will laugh my butt off. Just try lithium, Dear. Yes I know what I am doing.

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  12. Psychiatric patients themselves often espouse the alleged virtues of psychiatric treatment, including drug treatment, and many even believe it. To understand this phenomenon it may be helpful to review some of the chief and fundamental differences between objective and subjective modes of perception.

    An objective fact is an assertion about the nature of reality that can be verified objectively, that is, by using logic and empirical methods. It is therefore exactly transferable to others, which is its chief scientific value. In scientific terms it is said that the results of an experiment to test the validity of an hypothesis can be “replicated”.

    Subjective belief, on the other hand, is by definition, that which we believe without any recourse to objective verification or “validation”. Opinion has no scientific value per se. Even if a method of objective validation of hypothesis exists, it remains only an hypothesis or belief in the mind of a subject until the method of validation has been applied or at least understood by same subject; at which point, and only then, does the confirmed hypothesis become meaningfully and exactly transferable to others by that subject. That, essentially, is science.

    With that in mind consider now that all psychiatric dogma has not only never been objectively verified, but there exists no method of ever doing so, since all judgments about the “efficacy” of any kind of psychiatric treatment (pharmaceutical or other), be it by the psychiatrists, the drug companies or even the patients themselves, are, in the absence of any bio-markers for any psychiatric disorder, necessarily subjective and ideological in nature. This is important to understand.

    What this means, for instance, is that a person who is gullible/temporarily insane/misinformed enough to voluntarily take any kind of psychiatric poison has no way of proving that an effect he ascribes to the drug is a truly objective (and thus significantly transferable) result of taking it, and not simply some kind of psychologically/physiologically rooted response specific to himself. Furthermore any judgments about the value of an effect ascribed to a psychiatric drug, as well as any judgments about the acceptability, or lack thereof, of the so-called “side-effects” of a drug, are also completely subjective, and thus may be based on a value system or ideology that is fundamentally unsound, even if it has the support of the general consensus…….this applies not only to the judgments of patients, but also to the dubious judgments of psychiatrists who ‘test’ and prescribe the drugs, and of course the even more dubious judgments of those who give psychiatrists investiture, that is, those who financially and politically support the psychiatric enterprise.

    The ideological and subjective nature of the testing of the “efficacy” of psychiatric drugs is especially alarming when we consider the fact that many people are forced to ingest these poisons involuntarily – and this in countries that seriously consider themselves to be “free” and “democratic”. (What an infernal joke!)

    Finally we should perhaps also note that in addition to the above mentioned variabilities, subjective reporting has always inherent in it the possibility of deceit and misdirection. For example…. if a person has invested a large part of his life and identity, and perhaps also his means, believing in a certain paradigm, it may be difficult to admit to himself and others later that he has been wrong, or perhaps harder still, duped. Keep in mind that self deceit is not entirely conscious. Alternatively there may be some perceived advantage to be gained by the subjective reporter, or perhaps the group he represents, by deliberately deceiving others.

    In short, objective reality is the only place where you and I truly meet. Subjective perception on the other hand is isolating by its very nature. The chief difference between a person who has seen through the psychiatry racket and one who has not is that the former has recourse to objectively verified conclusions to support his view, and the latter does not.

    And that dear people, is all the difference in the world.

    Note: the above is an excerpt from the article “Psychiatry: Science or Fraud?” which can be read in its entirety at

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    • The Emperor is Naked,
      Too bad the writer of the article you cited is anti-Semitic. I have Jewish relatives and I find this absolutely offensive. Not sure why he had to go there, because he does have good points to bring up otherwise. But bigotry and ad hoc attacks aren’t going to help his argument.

      Example: “And when one considers also the complete dominance of the American and British mass media and Hollywood by Jewry(3) and Jewish policy, the disturbingly disproportionate amount of power wielded by that spiritually bankrupt minority race over our minds in recent times becomes even more apparent. The inevitable result of the continual onslaught on our minds of content at best mundane, at worst perverse and almost always manipulative, is mental disorder and spiritual death, as slowly but surely, over the decades, we have traded the spiritual soundness and fortitude of our Christian forefathers and the Word of God for the spiritual emptiness and destitution of our anti-christian manipulators and a continual stream of professionally delivered lies, propaganda and depravity – especially in the English speaking world.”

      Real psychological testing, which psychiatrists rarely do or are trained for, are valid and reliable, but the the problem is that we rarely do complete testing (as we should) due to managed care restrictions. Most of the time patients are diagnosed in less than an hour of face-to-face time, which is completely unethical. I would suggest that anyone who is seen for mental health reasons get a full medical and mental health workup, e.g., neuropsych testing.

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      • I would suggest that anyone experiencing distress stay far far away from psychiatry and therapists.

        Cultivating friendships and community is the way to keep yourself connected and supported…while you also learn to support and nurture others.

        Anyone who makes money off another person’s distress is messed up.

        Lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors etc.

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        • Humanbeing, no doubt you are right that one of the best ways to be well in the world is to be connected and having meaningful relationships with others.

          I am saddened you do not support the counseling field, however. I think that is a short sighted. Most of us do not believe in the medical model and we seek to understand and support our clients goals, wishes, etc. We are trained not to push people in any direction, unlike family and friends can often do (and psychiatrists), because they are usually more invested in certain outcomes. My only agenda as a therapist is to help the client “be well” on their own terms, whatever road that might take (so long as it is ethical and legal). Many of the people I have worked with over the years feel that everyone in their lives has let them down, and thus they have few, if any, sources of support whom they can lean on. Believe me many counselors and social workers don’t make much money. When I worked at a homeless agency I made $32,000 a year for two years with a master’s degree. In no way are we getting rich or are well off doing the work we do. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, who often spend less than 30 minutes every 3-4 months with their patients, on average make between $150-250k a year. Counselors do care about our client’s happiness and well being (as do many of the other helping professionals I’ve worked with), and the vast majority of us do not believe that our client’s brains aren’t broken or un-healable. To the contrary, we believe that every person has a unique set of skills, attributes, and general positive qualities. We believe in building from strengths rather than focusing on so-called deficits. Have you ever heard of Solution Focused Brief Therapy? That is a good example of therapy that can help a person focus on what works rather than what doesn’t. DBT is the same. I follow a Strength’s Model when working with clients.

          There is an obvious disdain for therapy from some posters here, and frankly I find that to be sad. I know for sure that most of my clients have been better off because they had access to care (I was better off too when I’ve seen a counselor–actually, I still am seeing one to deal with my stuff). And I want to reiterate that we do not force clients to take psych drugs. Many of my clients are “therapy only” in the system I work for, and frankly I think that is the better place to be for most of them to be. As a system we rush to “medicate” clients, but that to me should be the last resort and not the first treatment offered. Unfortunately, many people get placed on psych drugs by PCPs who know very little about mental health. I am baffled by these doctor’s lack of common sense when the sometimes prescribe benzos, opioiods, sleeping pills, antidepressants, etc., all to the same person! I find that doctors do harm every day, mostly unintentionally, because they are overworked, have little time to actually spend with their patients and get to know them (the average PCP visit in America is a whopping 6-7 minutes), prescribe drugs because that is one of their only interventions, and because many patients who come to clinics demand and expect their docs to give them pills. It’s a sad state of affairs and I think we can blame managed care and big pharma for much of the mess. Doctors used to do home visits, had the freedom to get to know their patients. Now their patients are just another number, so of course outcomes will worsen. I do expect life expectancy to decline given the current state of affairs with human health in general and the desecration of the environment.


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          • Humanbeing, humans have always been somewhat “dysfunctional.” We are imperfect beings after all, and being flawed we too often don’t set up society in a way that serves everyone. I’d argue that all previous systems, except for some small outliers, were abusive, hierarchical, used slavery as a means of production, etc. Things weren’t exactly great for the common person before capitalism and industrialization, either. It is rare for any society to share and spread power equally amongst it’s members.

            Therapist is a pretty damn good substitute in my experience. Also, it is unrealistic to ask people to talk about their feelings of shame and experiences of trauma with loved ones or friends. It is too painful to expect these folks to hold onto our experiences for us. Therapy, in my estimation, can be immensely powerful, as I have seen and results firsthand. I am sorry to hear you haven’t had the same experience. That is a shame.

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          • Shaun therapy should be okay, I mean, theoretically, it is a service you purchase and that service SHOULD deliver what it promises. As far as I am concerned what should happen rarely does.

            I am okay with a person CHOOSING therapy after very careful consideration of the very real risks. Therapy, like any other project, has to have a beginning, middle, and ending. Much as some folks think therapy can’t work unless it’s long-term, I do not believe that because that’s when the risk of dependency is too high. As soon as you sign on to longer term therapy, you are taking such a risk. First of all you are counting on that therapist being employed and being your therapist for the entire long-term therapy. How many years? Chances are, you’ll get transferred to a less skilled therapist with an entirely different agenda, perhaps one that does not suit you.

            Secondly, you are counting on the therapy being a certain set number of times per week, but quite often things change and the antes go up, then the therapy increases in frequency, increasing the risk of dependency. Even worse is the risk for ending up in something like day treatment. These programs will sell anyone into the MH System.

            Seeing a T twice a week for years starts to get like marriage. At that point it can really start to run your life if there’s no end in sight. When is the therapy ending? Is the patient simply being “maintained”? Or…”managed”? And why manage? Managing is takiing away the power to make one’s own decisions. If a therapist is managing, that therapist needs to wean the patient off the management. It would be to the therapist’s credit to do so and see the patient to complete independence. This should be explained from the beginning and reiterated.

            These are the risks of my being a permanent fixture in your life.

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          • Julie & others:

            It’s hard to discuss “therapy” with any specificity as it means a zillion different things, some helpful, some destructive. People who speak of “therapy” should at least clarify what they’re referring to.

            Also if you want to see what you’re dealing with here check out Corrina’s article & the comments, or what’s left anyway.

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          • Julie, thank you for your thoughtful post. I can see what you mean looking at therapy through a “dependency” lens. I will tell you that over the last couple of years my agency has gone away from thinking that clients would forever be in the system. Now, there is actual pressure to discharge clients who aren’t coming in regularly. Also, we do work on co-creating mid and long-term (ideally tangible) goals (e.g., six month treatment plans) with clients so we know when progress and goals have been achieved. I have no desire to have clients feel dependent on me, which is why I work to help clients identify a wide array of resources to help support them in creating a “life worth living.” I don’t have any interest in “managing” my clients…they are adults who are almost always able to manage their own decisions and relationships. I see therapy as temporary for nearly every person. There are the rare exceptions where people have been so traumatized in life that they probably need long-term therapy to help them heal. Now, therapy is by no means a cure all. I see it as providing a safe space for clients to explore their lived experiences, values, goals, wishes, emotions, etc. It works for some but not all.

            I do believe that many therapy interventions can be short-term, and successfully so. Many of my clients tell me they get benefit from therapy simply because they feel heard and understood. I do my best to avoid judging them, since I am not in their shoes and haven’t experienced what they have. That would be pure arrogance on my part to think I know what is best for anybody. Obviously, I do talk with my clients about lifestyle choices and things that objectively might make a difference in how they feel, but I always encourage them to explore for themselves what works and what resonates for them.


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      • Shaun I saw that too. I’m not sure who created the webpage nor which organization that is, but I think the webmasters should be alerted to the poster, especially if such posts continue. This type of thing is not tolerated around here. Psychiatry is racist at its core, since it practices eugenics. We do not tolerate racism such as antisemitism here. It seems to me to be a contradiction. There are many in this world, of course. I suppose if there weren’t opposing forces, we’d fall off the planet.

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        • Thanks, Julie. Unfortunately, there is racism and bigotry in all walks of life. The recent election in America just highlighted that. I am very worried for our country given our president-elect’s tacit approval of groups like the KKK and the alt right. If we think marginalized groups had it bad before, I think we are in for a rude awakening.

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  13. Replying to shaun @ 12:05 Jan 5

    Whelp, shaun, I’ve been to a goodly number of counselors/therapists, some of which gave me bad advice, btw…and it all felt, I dunno, *icky*…like paying a whore. Inauthentic. Ya know?

    As far as the ‘dysfunctionality’ of other cultures; how can you deny that we have become more isolated and cut off from family/friends/community with the advent of the *automobile*, the ‘mobil phone’ and the ‘internet’. How many hours do folks spend on Faceborg these days instead of interacting in their neighborhoods? We are being atomized and isolated, and then we are blamed as individuals for our misfortunes, the result of our ‘character flaws’ and our ‘broken brains’. Divide and conquer. A very old technique with a new, post-modern, twist.

    Yup. I do think real community is possible, I have experienced it. But people must be given the space and time to create it and it’s nigh on impossible in these late days of capitalism. We just need to slow down and not have to work so hard to survive.

    Oh, and ps: there’s, what, 7.4 humans on the planet? The petri dish is getting crowded and people need their ‘stuff’.

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    • I am sorry to hear, humanbeing, that you were given poor advice by therapists. Frankly, we are trained these days to give as little advice as possible. Anyway, clients need to make up their minds what they want from life, and me telling them to do X or Z doesn’t help. It doesn’t do anybody any good to act in a paternalistic fashion.

      I am in total agreement that technology has further separated us in general. We are strangers amongst neighbors in most parts of the country. I know very few people who live on my street, for instance. I do agree that creating real community is possible, but it does take work. I interned at a very small community mental health clinic and found that the key to their success was building a sense of community which came from the clients and not directed by the staff so much. They have a “consumer” board which has equal power to a professional board of directors. They have a real say in their care and creating their community. In my estimation this is one of the best models out there. I wish all community health centers were small, because the larger any entity gets, the more it will get away from it’s original purpose and the less connected everyone will be who is involved. The agency I currently work for has about 700 employees, and there is no way we can know each other nor can we possibly get to know the thousands of people we serve.

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      • Thing is, shaun, I don’t *believe* in ‘mental health’ care. ‘Mental Health’ care has harmed me, possibly irreparably.

        But you keep on acting like it’s some kind of panacea for humanity’s ills.

        O, right. Your income depends on it.


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        • No, therapy is an opportunity to heal. People also heal through spirituality, relationships, meditation, etc. Therapy is only one possible solution of many, or a nice adjunct to others.

          Again, my hope and goal is to NEVER, EVER harm anybody through the treatment I provide. Specifically, I provide Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Person Centered Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I have a harm reduction perspective, meaning that I believe in reducing the harm where possible (e.g., for a person who uses dirty needles when doing drugs, I would educate them about clean needle exchanges).

          I generally see people who are on Medicaid. We have an overabundance of people seeking services, usually with a waitlist of 1-2 months. Again, I’d happily do another job and eradicate the need for mental health services, but until we eliminate trauma from this world, healers of all kinds will be needed. We all need support. Life is hard, and traumatic events are inevitable.

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        • Well that’s the thing, humanbeing, I notice this on my listserv, too. See, I USED to be a patient, and to denounce my patienthood took one helluva lot of grieving. Know why? Cuz I had to give up my entire career as patient. To deny the existence of mental illness as an entity also means therapists will lose their careers for the most part, just like I lost my patient career, so this means turning their backs on MH as is, which means a lot of pain and grieving that most are completely unwilling to do. So most are like I was, quite understandably, clinging to the myths out of desperation. Yes, you lose, and it hurts like hell, but what you win is priceless.

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    • That’s another risk of therapy and actually I have seen that, too, when the patient becomes isolated in the therapy and cuts of other relationships. Sadly, (I am addressing Shaun here, too), what happens is two-fold.

      First of all, the patient is incredibly relieved to find someone. As was I. Finally someone to talk to. To let it out. Finally someone I can tell this stuff to. But…What happens is that while you CAN tell this stuff to the therapist, who is a PROFESSIONAL, this creates a split. The professional whom you can tell stuff to, and the others, to whom you cannot.

      Now comes the other part. Others begin to sense this split. There’s a privileged person who knows your secrets and even your husband doesn’t know these secrets. Not everyone is like this but when that therapist gets into the inner circle closer than family, closer than the best friend, closer than the spouse, then, there’s trouble, I guarantee it, especially if this goes on and on.

      Who is the patient really married to? The spouse starts to feel like he/she is playing second fiddle, deferring to the therapist. Almost as if the therapist is right there in the bedroom with them. Now is the time he/she may run off and have an affair while the patient’s mind is off with the therapist.

      In the patient’s community circles, too, others pull away. They aren’t needed anymore. The therapist can do better, the therapist knows better, he/she is the PROFESSIONAL, after all, the one with the “expertise.” Often, if there’s a crisis, I see such patients refusing to speak with anyone but a “qualified professional” and telling their friends “I must speak to a therapist.” Even one on call. Thus, the dependency, and to me, this shows not only dependency, but a significant disconnect with the surrounding community, family, and spouse.

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      • Thank you Julie for continuing to share your experience. I have experienced what you are talking about, as clients tell me that they say stuff to me they’d never tell other people in their lives. I think the reasons for this are many. In some instances the individual is worried about the judgment they may face if they share some things with the people in their lives. Also, clients face serious consequences sharing real information with the people in their lives. There are many examples I can think of, such as being molested as a child. I have been told by many of my clients that family members dismissed, minimized, or blamed them for these kinds of events happening. I think one of the most damaging things a family can do is invalidate the pain of a child in that family (or adult). So in other words therapy is a safe place that is confidential (with a few obvious exceptions). I know of many people who did not share what they feel or experience with loved ones because of fear of rejection, humiliation, and further victimization. What it boils down to in this instance is a feeling of safety.

        When someone is psychological vulnerable there is a risk that they may latch onto a helper and in some ways stop helping themselves (they feel powerless, hopeless, etc). It can look like a co-dependent relationship of sorts, which is why therapists and other helpers need to do their own work (through supervision, self care, therapy) to ensure that their own needs are getting met by their clients.

        I also have the experience of being idealized by my clients as being some kind of perfect being. Of course I say very little of myself (to avoid making sessions about me), so they believe that I have it all figured out. I don’t have life figured out but many choose to believe this, partially because they want to believe that the person who is helping them is well adjusted and doesn’t have any serious issues in their lives (they want to believe I can help them, which I do believe I often can by being a caring person). When clients are letting down their guard, they put faith in the helper’s ability to be there for them. I think there is a point where clients aren’t being helped if therapy goes on too long without any results. Therapists are taught to terminate (and refer) counseling if we believe the person isn’t benefiting from our services.

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  14. I don’t know…Every time I say, “Therapy harmed me,” I am told of some great therapist out there. Yet I had about 20 therapists and I cannot say any of them cured me. The profession has a bad track record I’d say, a large percentage abuse, a large percentage completely incompetent, and most important, we have no measurable way to rate them. We take our cars to car repair people and the cars run, or they do not. I get my dog groomed and photos will tell you if the groomer did a good job, photos of a hair color job might tell you if the colorist did a decent job or not. One look at the asphalt on the road will tell you if the workers who laid down the asphalt (and the stuff underneath) did it right. Yet a person goes to therapy and a few weeks later they cannot tell you a thing about the therapy’s effectiveness. Decades later, yes, but by then the therapist has run off with the dough. Same deal with malpractice, as pointed out by many writers I have read. Malpractice is a terrific crime to commit because it takes years before the victim realizes what has happened. Malpractice exhausts the victim, denial is high, victim-blaming is high, and blaming either the family, or causing the family to turn against the victim (if hte victim is still living), or even the entire surrounding community to turn against the victim or victim’s family is also so high that the offending doc is rarely caught. And by then, he has retired or skipped off to some other country. As per Adam Lanza’s therapist who skipped off to New Zealand. I hear he was caught.

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    • Julie, to be clear no ethical therapist will assert that they can “cure” anyone. That isn’t the purpose of therapy.

      Can you tell me what the credentials of your therapists were? I can say that I’ve had the most luck with master’s level social workers and therapists. I’ve found that when psychiatrist, for instance, try to do therapy it is more problematic, in part because they are trained in the medical model and not from a holistic perspective.

      And no doubt abuse happens in my field (as it does in all others). For decades doctors and therapists abused patients by having sex with them and other terrible things. This is now against the law, starting in the 80s in America. That is a shameful and any “clinician” who engages in this kind of abuse deserves to be jailed.

      I will also state that therapy is unlike those other services you mention. Humans are much more complicated than a car or laying down asphalt. There are many factors which impact human beings–finances, personal relationships, access to resources, loss, etc. To expect a therapist to be able and “fix” all of these variables which are out of our control is completely impossible. I believe that healing can and does come from having trusting, caring relationships, but it isn’t a panacea for all of life’s problems. That would be pure hyperbole. Any therapist who tells you they can “cure” everything in your life is a quack and should not be practicing.

      Finally, I will say that I’ve had three therapists myself, all of whom have been respectful, compassionate, and insightful. I trust all of them. That really bums me out that others have had radically different, terrifying experiences.

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  15. Let’s see….First was a master’s level, MA I believe. Second LICSW, third LICSW, next was an arts sort of therapist I know master’s level, the next MA, the next LICSW, the next psychologist, the next psychiatrist, the next….psychiatrist, the next psychiatrist, the next MA, then…PsyD, then….PhD.

    The very best was a Psychiatry Resident and I started with her in her second year. First of all she was my age. She was not a haughty know-it-all, which was cool. Too bad she was supervised that whole time and handed to me as “severe borderline” and no one told her I had just had ECT. They told her I was “faking an eating disorder for attention.” After five years she concluded that i really had one. Gee, finally.

    The next one was a PhD, and eating disorders specialist, I swear she knew nothing of ED. Next one LICSW, absolute fool I guess I was her therapist the entire time (didn’t notice when I was raped). The next one, was a rape crisis counselor, master’s level, not bad. Next one, Licensed counselor, also decent art therapist which, I think, can work but is rarely done well. She was a really good art therapist. What sucked was every time I saw my psychiatrist she bashed the therapist in my presence. That particular therapist got laid off after a short time. She quit the business shortly after that.

    She and I worked things out. Mutually. She tried the force method and I told her NO WAY. So we talked about it. I explained that forcing me into weekly blind weigh-ins was treating me like a child and she agreed. We designed our own program. She agreed that it was stereotyping to assume all anorexics exercise compulsively, and what we found was that running actually helped me to eat better. I was really on my way. And then she got laid off, and dumped me into the hands of a cruel abuser. It was around the time of my 53rd birthday.

    That’s when things got tons worse. Because of Maria Mellano, I was put in the psych hospital for a broken tooth. I was worse off when I got out, immediately lost my two best friends, completely disabled by the drugs they gave me (I fixed that by noncompliance eventually) then Maria repeatedly threatened to put me in State. I rebelled. It was out and out war. I was not the only one abused by her. She was master’s level, too. Tons of credentials, private practice.

    After I fired her I eventually picked up another. She knew nothing of ED so I moved on. The next one didn’t either. The next one asked me out on a date. My psychiatrist called me “paranoid,” saying it was “Impossible,” but he had.

    It was 2013. I went to a new agency. There, I went through three. The first one, clearly incompetent, threatened me in her office and didn’t know anything about ED (darned obvious). The next one shooed me away, called me an alcoholic, told me I had a “useless master’s degree” and said he knew nothing of ED and said he only did CBT. The next one clearly knew nothing of ED, asked me where I lived, then said, “I’ll see you in six weeks. Go talk to your social worker.” I walked out of there, barely able to stand up by then I was so thin, realizing I didn’t even have a social worker and wondered why she thought I did, fell down from being so weak, got myself onto the bus wondering what I was going to do, and then, a few days later, my kidneys failed.

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    • Julie, I am disappointed to say the least that your experience was so horrible. From your description, however, it sounds like you found some of these folks to be helpful to you, so that is something I guess. I do get frustrated by the high turnover in my field, which I think has many causes and many negative impacts on the people we serve. I think that when a client builds a good rapport and trust with a helper, and that helper departs, it can be very damaging and not fun to have to retell one’s story to another person. This happens even more frequently in the case management realm, as many of these folks are new to the field and don’t get good supervision. Also, documentation requirements are burdensome and take us away from clinical work.

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      • They finally insisted on giving me a state case manager. Wow that was a joke. They couldn’t seem to show up on time.

        I didn’t understand why I had them. I wanted to go to the library and it seemed a nuisance to go home to meet them, then find out they weren’t showing. I told them I already had appointment software. They said, “What? YOU know how to use a computer?” I said, “Yes, I have a master’s degree and I know how to use a computer. My father had two master’s degrees, in fact, one in computer science.” “What? None of our clients know that!” Like I had no right to be educated……I have to laugh because I recall explaining to over half of the people I saw over the years what an eating disorder was. As a matter of fact, most people do not know, and rightfully so, it’s an oddity you don’t encounter every day unless it’s your life.

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      • Shaun, many burned out. I recall some who admitted they were. And you are right some therapists make very little money, while others are making a fortune. I know because I have been friends with therapists over the years. Some jobs are ripoffs, too. Fee for service can be a problem, working conditions can be terrible, or they might have unfair hiring and firing practices. Never mind the hierarchy problems such as bullying supervisors.

        To my recollection, paycheck has little to do with the quality of the therapist. I knew many who cost very little, who were paid peanuts but were excellent. Or worked part time and lived on nothing, but were very very good. Rich ones who had big names were not always the better ones. This was not always true, but what I am saying is that reputation was not something you could count on. Same with locale, just because they’re in a big city, or in a really good clinic means nothing.

        However, it’s a crapshoot overall since very few are actually worthwhile.

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        • So true, Julie. The burnt out ones shouldn’t be practicing or should take a break and get their shit figured out. The system we work in frankly supports efficiency over ethical practice.

          Generally the money in mental health is made by prescribing psychiatrists and some psychologists who do testing. I know many great clinicians who do make very little and often have the most demands placed on them. If we value quantity over quality, everybody loses.

          I can also say that the quality of supervision is generally lacking. Most managers are encouraged to focus on making sure we workers are doing our paperwork so we can bill, such as treatment plans and progress summaries. If I didn’t have to do another one of those damn forms again in my life, I would be a very happy person. Very few of us got into the field to do paperwork, but it is how we often spend our time.

          There is a newer trend in healthcare, which I’m sure you’ve seen, called concurrent documentation. Part of it is good in that the client gets to participate in writing the note from the visit (ideally, but this doesn’t happen when I go to PCPs). The downside, of course, is that it frankly takes time away from talking about what the clients actually wants to address. Very few of my clients tell me, “Yes, I would love it if we complete more forms today! That will help me feel better!”

          There’s more work to be done, that is for sure. Thanks. Peace.

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  16. Could we maybe inch back towards the subject of the article? I believe the primary points Noel wanted this article to inform people about were a) “bipolar disorder is not a real entity,” b) that the many states of mind and emotion which are fraudulently labeled as such are generally due to traumatizing life experiences, and c) that the notion of “chemical imbalances” in relation to such is an “urban legend” which even top psychiatrists are backing away from.

    I think an intrinsically related issue is how celebrities are used, and allow themselves to be used, to promote Big Pharma.

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    • Oldhead,

      I greatly resent you trying to play moderator on this thread. If Noel hasn’t said anything about the comments, I am not sure why you feel the need to.

      And even if the comments weren’t even intrinsically related, there was still alot of valuable discussions such as deeeoo42 doing an excellent job of refuting Shook’s contentions that ECT has minimal risk. No, his/her mind isn’t going to be changed but it might save someone who is considering it from going down the tragic path which you should be applauding based on your previous statements about protecting people from misinformation.

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      • WTF? What are you talking about? Deeeooo has indeed been doing a great job at this and I do applaud her (I believe I have the pronoun right). But that’s another article and comment section entirely. This one is again being diverted to chatting about someone’s therapy business, which is irrelevant to the subject. And this is NOT directed at Julie, who was just being polite and engaging him. Something wrong with staying on topic?

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    • “Noel wanted this article to inform people about were a) “bipolar disorder is not a real entity,” b) that the many states of mind and emotion which are fraudulently labeled as such are generally due to traumatizing life experiences, and c) that the notion of “chemical imbalances” in relation to such is an “urban legend” which even top psychiatrists are backing away from.”

      a) The symptoms of “bipolar disorder”, severe mood swings, are quite real and troublesome even if the disorder itself is a myth.
      b)Traumatizing life experiences can cause negative states of mind and emotion due to physical damage to and depletion of the body’s organs and hormonal reserves. So there is a “chemical imbalance”, but biological psychiatry’s ways of attempting to correct it are ass-backwards and doomed to fail.

      c)”The notion of “chemical imbalances” in relation to such is an “urban legend” which even top psychiatrists are backing away from.”

      Big Pharma itself is backing away from investment in psychiatric drugs. Watch for “top psychiatrists” to push for the prescription control of basic nutritional supplements as is happening in Europe right now with Codex Alimentarious.

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      • This was in the news today.
        “…once this regime is established, it will be only a short step to expand it to all US consumers, not just the military. Then the pharmaceutical industry will have what it really wants: complete control over the supplement industry. Many supplements will become drugs and soar in price while their availability is restricted. As with any monopoly, quality will also decline, because regulations are never a substitute for real competition involving new and small as well as old and large companies.”

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        • What I was responding to was that you had provided a June 2016 link claiming there was a move to make buying OTC supplements illegal. I was wondering if there was a current article about that because I haven’t heard that there was.

          Even though there might not have been any deaths from supplements, people still need to be careful when taking them. They are not harmless and can cause adverse reactions, particularly in folks tapering off of psych meds who have very sensitive nervous systems.

          Even vitamin D isn’t harmless and if one is taking it, be sure to test your levels to make sure you are not above the optimum level.

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          • The effort to gain control of vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements by drug companies and medical doctors in the United States has been on-going for years. These efforts are not well-publicized because they always provoke a reaction for a certain segment of the population. It’s your responsibility to stay informed. Nothing drastic has changed since last June.

            It is best not to to take any dietary supplement or make significant dietary changes without comprehensive testing first. See “Why testing matters.” by Dr. Charles Parker

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          • Well, if people want to throw their money down the drain, by all means, do the testing, like the neurotransmitter test which is a total ripoff because it is based on the assumption that someone has a chemical imbalance. But yet, because the alternative folks are doing this, we accept what they say without question.

            By the way, one of the testing authorities listed wanted to charge me $4000 for an initial consultation when I was going through withdrawal issues. I didn’t accept the offer.

            And instead of spending $219 for a food sensitivities test, for free, one can eliminate foods for 30 days and then slowly introduce them to see if there is a problem.

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          • Woody Guthrie’s ode to Pretty Boy Floyd the Outlaw, a modern era Robbin Hood, contains the line.
            “Some rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.”

            Anyone who insists on payment for healing is a crook in my book. Healing is and should be its own reward. However, given the choice between a crook who could help me and an “eminent, ethical” psychiatrist who was pointing me to an early grave, I’ll take the crook every time.

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          • Yes, if it costs a fortune, undoubtedly it’s a scam. I’ve found that just about anything that is decent out there is free or almost free.

            For instance…Extremely useful items such as…wooden clothes pins. Lemons. Common household spices. Buckets. Brooms. Rope for clothesline. A knapsack. A decent pair of boots. a tarp, Twigs, brushwood you find outside. Stones. Common household cleaners such as peroxide. A cigarette lighter. A pocketknife. Chapstick. A cup. Your housekeys. total cost most likely mostly the boots. However, our feet hold up the entire body, if we have feet and use them, help many of us travel from place to place, and connect us to the ground.

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      • Subvet,

        (Itemizing makes things easier to respond to, doesn’t it? )

        a) Anti-psychiatry people emphasize that it is not the existence of “pain and suffering” we are contesting but its construal as a medical issue;

        b) General poor nutrition, hormonal depletion, etc. are not what shrinks mean when they talk about chemical imbalances, they’re talking about serotonin and dopamine. Also poor diet and healthful lifestyles are not the exclusive domain of the psychiatrized;

        c) Totally agree that this would be a predictable direction for Pharma to take. Which is why any holistic common sense strategies and proposals for eradicating cancer will continue to be suppressed. Like maybe a “Manhattan Project” to reduce environmental toxicity by 90%, for starters. Big business would love that, huh?

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          • Of course, I remember talking in the nuthouse was always in hushed whispers, lest you be accused of sharing “war stories”. And I interpreted that as “How dare patients share their experiences with one another and compare notes?” Mental Health personnel HATE when an educated veteran patient is on the unit.

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          • They hated me telling other inmates that their drug-induced symptoms were drug induced symptoms.

            Julie — your comment reminds me of the part in “Alice’s Restaurant” where Arlo gets sent to the “Group W” bench at the draft board exam and has to sit with the “father-rapers” because he had been convicted of littering.

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    • You and Oldhead are right, I made a mistake about threads. My apologies.

      Human Being, you made a few off topic remarks which I don’t have an objection to. But if you’re going to insist that comments stay on topic, you have to practice what you preach.

      Oldhead, ideally threads should be on topic 100% of the time. But that isn’t reality. It just seems that instead of acting as a de facto moderator, if you want to get something back on topic to simply post a new comment and ask for follow-up remarks to it.

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      • Why am I a “de facto moderator” for pointing out when things are sliding out of control? Aren’t we all supposed to pay attention to such? — the moderator can’t do everything.

        You’re correct, this isn’t a new thing and I’ve certainly contributed to this as well. But I did post a “new” comment, which involved my understanding of the thrust of the original topic.

        I regret in retrospect that the same thing happened to Corrina’s article, it maybe should have been nipped in the bud. The response to snook and that interchange with Deeeoo would have remained relevant since ECT was part of Fisher’s experience, and likely her demise.

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      • I’ll just point out that that I have found some of the best information on this entire website exists hidden deep in runaway comment sections. I don’t necessarily agree that comment threads should *ideally* be on topic 100% of the time. The articles are great but (and?) there is a great deal of relevant information to be gleaned from reading the many off-topic but often poignant comments.

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        • Agreed, but sometimes people divert the thread to endlessly pursue personal and self-absorbed ramblings. It’s mostly a matter of general discretion and politeness. It would help if some people could just learn to express their thoughts in a more succinct way, not that anyone should be chased away simply for not having these skills.

          I also think a words-per-week or words-per-month limitation might encourage people not to ramble so much. Even if it’s very liberal.

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  17. “The spread of false information” is now called “fake news.” And our mainstream media is guilty of a lot of “fake news” these days, especially when it comes to covering up child abuse, just google “pizzagate” for more on this.

    And I’d just like to point out that today’s “bipolar” drug cocktail recommendations, particularly combining the antidepressants and/or antipsychotics, can create the positive symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via the central symptoms of anticholinergic toxidrome / anticholinergic intoxication syndrome:

    And the antipsychotics (aka neuroleptics) alone can create the negative symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome:

    But since neither of these psychiatric drug induced toxidrome/syndrome are listed in the DSM as a possible cause of any of the DSM “mental illness” symptoms, these psychiatric drug induced illnesses are almost always misdiagnosed as one of the billable DSM disorders, because this is the only way the “mental health professionals” can get paid.

    I do hope the psychiatric industry will change their “bipolar” drug cocktail recommendations in the future.

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  18. Hi Noel,

    yes, Carrie’s death has saddened me that she has been used as a poster child to affirm the biomedical model of the brain when she ought to be a warning of the harm that model brings to people. Her death is just another reminder of how happy I am that I kept my wife out of the influence of that paradigm and so her/our healing journey together has had such a differently happy and positive outcome.

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  19. How is it a non sequitur? I am recapitulating the main points of the article but pointing out the hypocrisy of the author ridiculing articles for discussing bipolar disorder as if it were a disease process in one paragraph while talking about co-morbid conditions and risk factors for bipolar disorder as if it were a disease process.

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  20. Great article- thanks heaps – very enlightening- well written too–Ive got quad polar – beat that- (up and down- bi-polar)- (up- down- back- forward- quad polar)- (up down- back forward- left right- hexa-or sexa- polar)- (around in circles -octo polar) —

    Bi- winning, Bi- OK,_ Bi- guidance- Bi-some hope and help- Bi- cognitive based therapies– Bi- life as a roller-coaster- Bi ups and downs, Bi –reality, Bi –a plan, and a recipe-Bi- empathy, Bi- learn that all unwell, has a reason, and requires you, to Bi- time, for you to learn, and to overcome, temporary insecurities, called immaturity.
    don’t bi- a poison, don’t bi- an illness, don’t bi-sick, don’t bi-sick seeing views, don’t bi- helplessness, and hopelessness, don’t bi- a crippling tag.

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  21. Real mental order implies freedom from subjectively preconceived parameters of thought. Which does not mean simply adopting any kind of thought, but rather giving ourselves the psychological space to go where the facts lead us, wherever that may be. Clearly then, the subjectively preconceived notions or systems of politically acceptable thought found in psychiatry and elsewhere are inconsistent with mental order. This is important to understand. It is also important to be aware of the effect of other influential sources of subjective ideology on the collective mind. No man truly serious about the restoration of mental order in himself and/or others (and in that order, obviously) can ignore the role that the mainstream media and the so-called educational institutions play, or have played, in giving us what to think. Neither can he ignore the role that psychiatry plays in enforcing it.

    The all-important quest for mental order isn’t a game, or some kind of meaningless mutual affirmation session. Nor is it a mere commodity one can get in the marketplace. It is not a question of belief or mere guess-work. It is rather a question of intelligent (sensible) experimentation and finding out, which is life itself. That means disconnecting from the perception management machine (which is mis-management) and learning to think for oneself again. If you have not already done so, try turning off the TV and giving up the cinema and the mainstream press for a full year (including the internet outlets) and reporting back (to yourself) on how you feel at the end of it. And if you have trouble with withdrawal ask yourself if you can really afford to go through your whole life not knowing what it feels like to have a mind uncluttered by all that. Keep in mind that it was only a blink of an eye ago in our common history when that condition was the rule and not the exception, and from time immemorial. Clearly mental disorder is not progress.

    Ideology does not come from nowhere. It has a definite source and it carries with it the values of those who give it investiture. It also carries with it their mental disorder. Therefore there are some important questions we need to be asking ourselves about the context in which we imbibe and impart ideology. For example, does what I do for money place parameters around my thought and expression which are unreasonable, arbitrary and ideological in nature? Is my “education” really about learning or is it rather about seeking affirmation from others? Is my so-called “learning” merely a means to an end other than its real inherent value? Is my mind cluttered by idols (that is, by notions of what I think I ought to be or ought not to be, or how I appear to others, or how I appear to myself) so that I am unable to perceive things in a simple, uncomplicated way and move thus beyond mere posturing and speculation to effective decision-making? Can my mind ever really be free of such idols, when money invariably carries with it the (albeit often tacit) set of values of those who issue, control and demand compliance to it? Have I become a mere set of responses to expectations which I have never even bothered to seriously question or understand? Am I at least aware of the bargains I make psychologically? Or is it more or less unconscious? Or am I conscious of only the more tangible and superficial conditions and not the psychological ones? It takes extraordinary self awareness to answer these questions honestly. Therefore, turning away from the mainstream media may not be in itself sufficient for a return to mental order, but it is at least a significant beginning.

    We understand well enough not to eat bad things if we would keep our bodies in order, why is it we do not do the same for our minds? Clearly the latter is far more important since our physical experience is always overcome by our psychological one. I am not talking about physical food. Information is the food of the mind; a well-fed mind soon heals. Please understand, it is not a question of belief, it is a question of try and see. Actually our minds are so starved for real nourishment, for the plain speaking truth beyond rhetoric, sophistry and make-believe, we need only make room for it by cutting out the endless stream of junk. Guard against any self-deceptive notions of moderation and selectivity in this regard – there can be no such compromise with that which is rotten to the core, and light will not share a space with darkness. We are the stewards of our own minds. Who will we blame then if the thieves get in?

    I may be able to maintain a due sense of proportion about what is physically possible and impossible when I watch the TV or the cinema screen, but what about the psychologically possible and impossible? That may not be so clear. Am I aware of the extent to which I am traumatised, brutalised, desensitised or dehumanised by what I see and hear? Am I aware of the extent to which I am being complicated by it? Or confounded by it. Or hyper-sexualised and consumerised by it. Am I aware of its effect on my ability to keep my desires from overwhelming or undermining me? Am I relating to reality or to a graven image? And do I take that idol with me psychologically wherever I go? Is the idol a politically correct one?

    Objective fact, gentlemen, is not politically correct. It has nothing to do with subjectively preconceived parameters of thought.

    It is what it is.

    Note: The above is an excerpt from the article “Psychiatry: Science or Fraud” which can be read in its entirety at

    See also:

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  22. Jail would be- a way more better place- to do time- than a bin- 99/100– without a doubt- at least you’d be alive inside- still be able to laugh loud and hearty – walk- talk- relate normally- feel normally- be normally- un drugged- fogged – outside of not being free to come and go- but the main reason would have to be- that your punishment times- over- when you get out- theirs takes you oppressively to your grave- on CTOs- and never being able to withdraw from what just brings you down- without going mad-especially when its forced and your intolerant- way better than what mental health or psychiatry’s got for you- that’s for sure- in fact i reckon id do twice the time – lets say an average 3 months in facility care- and then a CTO till your grave- id do two years in jail happily- rather than anything like that mental health/psychiatric misery.

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