The Disillusioned Psychiatrist

Eve A. Wood, MD
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7802

Many of us psychiatrists are struggling with where we are as a profession and field. Our burnout rate is off the charts. Suicide is common; 400 doctors in the U.S. kill themselves yearly, and 5% of U.S. physicians have considered suicide in the last 12 months. Isolation and hopelessness abound for us. And 40% of us will not seek help of any sort, out of fear for our licenses. This is surely a serious problem!

We psychiatrists were once “soul teachers,” which is the true meaning of the word psychiatrist. Not that long ago, our work involved stepping into the deepest recesses of our patients’ worlds, and partnering with them to find healing and transformation. Many of us were drawn to the field of psychiatry specifically because it afforded us the best opportunity to get to know, and help, others in need of healing. The therapeutic relationship was broadly understood to be paramount to that process.

We psychiatrists spent a lot of time with our patients, and were deeply mindful of the power of our words to harm or heal. While we may have prescribed some medications, we were not dealing with a universe of ever-expanding, questionable diagnoses and unsubstantiated medication recommendations. We did not feel betrayed by the professional organizations and societies we counted on to provide us the best tools for success. And we were largely happy and fulfilled in our work. That universe has been totally transformed.

The changes I have seen in the field of psychiatry over the course of my 35 years in medicine are stunning! Things once unthinkable are now common. On October 15, 2017, an article appeared on Doximity’s Op-(med) feed written by Jeffrey Alan Vernon, DO, titled: “Why Psychotherapy Training Shouldn’t Be Part of Psychiatry Residency”! For those of you unaware, Doximity is an online social networking service for U.S. clinicians. Launched in March of 2011, Doximity has over 800,000 verified members as of February 2017. Since the publication of Dr. Vernon’s article, 214 physicians, mostly psychiatrists, have commented on it. Most have been deeply troubled by the suggestion that psychotherapy should be relegated elsewhere, and the psychiatrist “freed up” to do more of the “Medical Management.” But 32 have expressed their thumbs up, or like, for the article.

A notion this article reflects, that the psychiatrist is predominantly a medical expert whose job is disease and medical management, has taken over our culture. We psychiatrists are now “providers” rather than healers. This growing movement of questioning the importance of the psychiatrist engaging deeply with our patients, to best address the challenges they experience, is quite disheartening. And I believe it is a driver of our distress as psychiatrists.

Many of us have become disillusioned with our profession. We have experienced a loss of meaning, purpose, connection, and hope. As the field has moved away from the wonder and pathos of human existence, and taken on a model that reduces life to tick boxes and pill dispensing, we have lost touch with what makes us human. The psychoanalytically oriented field I was raised in, psychodynamic psychiatry, told of complex human beings who suffered and struggled. As psychiatrists, we had the opportunity to meet with such people and hear their stories in an intimate way.

“Modern psychiatry gives us all such an impoverished sense of what it means to be human,” Robert Whitaker said to me, “and has led to disaster wherever we look.” The drivers for that cataclysmic change, from sharing stories to taking pills, include the very institutions we most hoped would be there to protect us and prevent it.

Much has been written and shared on this website about the great betrayal by the APA, the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA, and guild interests in building and perpetuating this house of cards. I need not review that here. But what I do need to call out is that many of us psychiatrists are struggling with questions about whether we have helped or harmed our patients by some of our interventions, with confusion about who we can trust, and with a tremendous amount of worry about what we ought and need to do next.

Like many of you, I have been a doctor for my whole adult life. I love that I have had the opportunity to help those in pain, and learn from them in return. I have always felt privileged to be welcomed into the deepest recesses of another’s heart and soul, and be given the opportunity to partner with them for a better outcome. I have felt blessed to be a healer and teacher. I thought I would practice psychiatry forever.

I never expected to have to worry that the tool bag I was being given to do my job would be full of rusty implements and ineffective potions. I never thought I would be pushed to do things that had the potential to harm, or even kill people. But today I know that our drugs can do that. As the curtain has been pulled back, and the ghoulish nature of the pharmaceutical universe revealed, I have felt completely overwhelmed and personally challenged.

During my career, I have seen doctors become “treatment providers.” I have seen the capacity of a doctor to care for their own patients from office to hospital and back again disappear. I used to be the psychiatrist for my patients in and out of hospital. Now we have doctors who only see patients in the hospital. They are called “hospitalists.” And we can’t see our own patients in the hospital, because their insurance carriers control where they go, and who they can see.

We psychiatrists no longer treat patients, we “manage medicines.” Almost all of us use an electronic health record (EHR), in which we need to document the clinical notes and prescriptions. This activity takes precious time away from the few face-to-face moments we have with our patients. All the work of the visit, which is frequently less than 20 minutes long, must be documented in a cumbersome, time-consuming EHR.

In 1997, in the early years of my career, the United States became the first country in the world to allow the pharmaceutical industry to market its products directly to the consumer. Until then, they could only market to us doctors. We physicians could at least be a buffer back then. Now, the marketing budget of the pharmaceutical industry dwarfs its new drug development budget massively, and drug companies bombard the public with messages about everything that is wrong with them, needing another wonderful pill to fix it. Our patients come in demanding specific medications, and a recently published study has shown that we are apt to get bad reviews as doctors if we do not prescribe and order what the patient wants! Unfortunately, many organizations expect us to get consistently good reviews, irrespective of the challenges involved in doing so.

As I write these words, a deep sadness wells up in me for what we have all lost. We have all lost the soul of caring for those in deep pain, and the optimism and faith that we can recover from the bumps, bruises and setbacks that are the stuff of life. We have been herded into pill dispensaries, blindly, and without logic or justification. We have not been respected or heard. We have been given few choices. And we have come to rely on, and believe we need, things that may be interfering with our good lives. We have all been done a horrible disservice. We deserve much more!

I believe, and perhaps you do too, that medical care should be about helping people. It should not be primarily profit driven. The patient should be the center of the model, and the priority. One’s professional organization should be the bulwark against which we can all stand for support of our best efforts. But the whole field has gone mad. And we psychiatrists, and our patients, have been the victims. This is truly tragic. Understanding this is enough to make us all want to curl into a ball and give up. But we are resilient and capable. So, we will pick ourselves up, dust off, and begin looking at where to go from here.

I decided to write this blog, instead of the one I originally thought I would be writing on this site, because I believe we disillusioned psychiatrists need a forum to connect, be heard, supported, and helped. It is hard to speak up and out against the prevailing model. And it is hard to know where to go, or what to do, when all the jobs open to you — and there are thousands of them — are fundamentally the same.

Today’s senior residents in psychiatry get an average of 100 job offers to do medication management. And there are no other options out there. Many graduating residents have huge medical school loans to pay back, and may not even have much knowledge of the risks inherent in the prevailing models. Psychotherapy training in psychiatric residency programs is quite minimal today, so many newly minted psychiatrists may not even be able to employ therapy options to address distress and promote transformation in their patients.

Many of us psychiatrists can’t abide by the prevailing paradigm, and are struggling with what to do instead. I myself tried to work within the new model for about 10 years. And it made me quite unwell. I was seeing patients non-stop, lost a lot of weight, was anxious and unsettled, and had trouble sleeping. I tried working for a series of different organizations, thinking that it might be different elsewhere. But I learned that the model, and challenges, were basically the same in all of them. In my last employed position, I had as many patient visits in three years as I had once had in my full-time private practice in 10 years. And I wrote more prescriptions in the three years I was in my last job than I had written for the previous 20 years!

Ultimately, I found myself unable to keep working in the universe of med management, that tick box place where many of us now reside. But leaving was hard to do! I had no idea what I would do next. And I love being a doctor, and didn’t really want to give it up. Yet, what I was doing, and being asked to do, ran counter to my deepest beliefs about what it meant to participate in healing. I struggled a lot. And there really weren’t many safe places to talk about it. I couldn’t raise it with my supervisors at work, where it would challenge the financially driven model of the organization. I couldn’t write about it in a broad manner, for fear of losing credibility as a psychiatrist. I saw no way to make it better, and I kept feeling more and more isolated and distressed. So, I finally did leave, in March of 2017.

Since then, I have been learning a lot about what ails us all, and what keeps us from getting help. I have been able to speak more openly about where I am, and what I believe. And, I have decided that I need to provide help and support as a coach to my colleagues who may be experiencing similar difficulties and have nowhere to go with them. Our distress is literally killing us.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the first ever American Conference on Physician Health in San Francisco, co-sponsored by the AMA and Stanford University. There were 375 places, but given extraordinary demand, they accepted 425 participants, and had a waiting list of 100 more! We are clearly struggling for support and guidance.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Murthy spoke to us about the growing dehumanization and depersonalization in medicine. He discussed our need to be valued, understood, wanted, and appreciated. He said, “Workplaces don’t prioritize social connections with our colleagues” and that “Doctors are in pain, and their pain matters.” He spoke of the lack of self-efficacy many of us feel, and the extreme personal cost involved in doing great work for our patients. The 2shoes app was used for questions, so attendees could vote on questions pending for each speaker, to let the moderator know which ones they most wanted answered. The first and most voted on question for Dr. Murthy was: “How do we destigmatize physicians seeking help?” I applaud Stanford University, the AMA, the conference speakers and Dr. Murthy for validating this crucial problem.

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70 COMMENTS

  1. Eve

    I applaud your willingness to speak out and share the depth of your alienation and moral dilemmas working as a psychiatrist in this country.

    In my own experience, I also witnessed, first hand (while working as a therapist for 23 years in community mental health) the complete takeover of this oppressive (disease/drug based) medical model. I finally resigned in protest in Sept. of 2015. I share your utter contempt for what is happening and your angst while searching for a way to now make a meaningful difference in the world.

    I would, however, ask you to ponder for a moment your following statement:

    “We psychiatrists were once “soul teachers,” which is the true meaning of the word psychiatrist. Not that long ago, our work involved stepping into the deepest recesses of our patients’ worlds, and partnering with them to find healing and transformation.”

    While this above statement bears some truth regarding the role of some people working as psychiatrists in the past, it does also ignore the very dark history related to the history of lobotomies, Electro-Shock, and other harmful forms of control and experimentation on millions of psychiatric victims.

    Even if all psychiatric drug prescriptions were ended today, there would still be a critically important supportive role that dissident psychiatrists could play (for several decades) in helping millions of victims find a way to safely withdraw from (and/or reduce their reliance on) toxic drug substances.

    Dissident psychiatrists could also organize and systematically find ways to to challenge and expose every facet of Biological Psychiatry’s oppressive paradigm, by disrupting business as usual in every professional gathering of psychiatrists and other doctors around the world.

    And lastly, I would challenge all dissident psychiatrists writing here at MIA to consider the decisive role they could play by now calling for the actual end of Psychiatry as a specific medical specialty. Since there is no scientific basis to support DSM diagnoses along with the specious concept of so-called “mental illness,” current psychiatrists could choose to become some type of therapist/counselor or choose to transition to neurology.

    Perhaps holding on to the psychiatric M.D. ONLY to provide support for psychiatric victims involved in drug tapering, AND to maintain a credential for organizing purposes while shaking up professional medical gatherings.

    Eve, thanks again for writing, and I hope you are open to critical feedback as well as support for your valiant efforts in speaking out.

    Richard

    • Yes, me too, my parenthetical comrade. I was also thrown onto the ropes by that claim.

      Given, I assume, the author is harking back to the 60s, 70s, possibly 80s, of the last century, in which time psychiatry endured the most intense backlash to its healing pretenses, with the birth of the antipsychiatry movement, the challenge and then downfall of its mighty institutions of abuse, its hunger for lobotomy and leucotomy, and other diverse brutalities… all this against the background of the MKULTRA experiments, with its first international president, Dr Ewen Cameron, conducting unlawful CIA-funded experiments on unwitting Canadian victims and so on.

      Begs more questions than my weary soul can bring itself to ask.

      However, despite the delusional bubble-popping, people like Eve A. Wood should always be welcome to sit at the table and share the manna so many others refuse.

    • Cool it, would you? There have always been *A FEW* good psychiatrists, even in psychiatry’s lobotomy-and-insulin coma days. For as long as she could, Dr. Wood attempted to reform psychiatry from the inside. Almost NOBODY attempts to do that. Her efforts took a lot of faith, compassion, and courage. She’s EARNED our congratulations and support.

    • You may have missed something in your psychiatric research. Read – ‘The CIA Doctors: Human Rights Violations by American Psychiatrists’ by Colin A. Ross or ‘Bluebird : Deliberate Creation of Multiple Personality’ by Psychiatrists Paperback – December 6, 2000 by Colin A. Ross.

  2. Psychoanalysis is extremely valuable therapy but it is not a medical intervention. I consider psychoanalysis invaluable “psychology theory” but harmful “medical theory” because I believe psychiatry pathologizes natural problems with living (including emotional suffering). Unfortunately, the value of psychoanalysis is rapidly becoming “forgotten knowledge” as Freudian psychiatrists retire and psychiatry seeks legitimacy through a stronger connection to medical science. Nevertheless, Freudian psychiatrists could offer valuable healing services to the community by promoting psychoanalysis through creating a new field: “Therapists with a Medical Degree.” As noted by Richard, dissident psychiatrists could also address the drug epidemic that was promoted by mainstream medical science.

  3. So, you seem to feel more compassion for the poor depressed, anxious, disillusioned psychiatrists poisoning and admittedly killing some of their patients than you do for their victims.
    Perhaps they could use some “psychiatric help”, maybe fairly high doses of Abilify, effexor, lorazepam, Zopiclone (for their sleep issues), and definitely some ECT to “reboot” their sick brains…
    So you prescribed the same amount of drugs in 3 years that you did in a previous 20?? And you were upset by this, but still did it? How do you think it impacted on the lives of the people it was unnecessarily prescribed to?
    Want to do some good? Work with the patients who have been seriously damaged by psychiatrists.
    Psychiatry doesn’t need support and understanding. It needs to be abolished for the useless, dangerous faux “specialty” it is.

  4. Thank you for your honesty and the courage to write.

    I have always held the view that psychiatrists are not “bad people” but are doing their jobs (using check-lists and giving medicines) thinking and truly believing that it is the correct thing to do (due to extensive training they have been provided by people who also simply ‘believed’ in these things). As long as I remember, when I said this in a comment long ago (that psychiatrists are not purposely harming), some at MIA did not agree with me.

    I suppose a big re-think is necessary for the field of psychiatry to go forward (such as eliminating meds altogether and taking over psychological therapies perhaps until this profession is gradually eliminated).

    I wish you the very best in your endeavours…

        • Huh?

          “psychiatrists could also address the current drug epidemic.”

          you mean the one they started?

          It appears to me that psychiatrists have no clue about the drugs they prescribe to those who end up in the ‘MH’ system; they have no clue about the long term damages caused by their drugs, or any knowledge about how to safely wean people off them.

          Please…

          • Exactly!!
            And how, given the books by Breggin and Whitaker and Moncrieff and others pointing out the dangers and lack of efficacy of these drugs and the revelations about study 329 and other scandals, how is it that psychiatrists remain uninformed?? How long can they claim ignorance? How long can schools that educate (too funny) psychiatrists ignore the reality that what they are doing is stupid, wrong, and harmful??
            Is this a giant secret that only a handful of people know about??

        • Nancy99, what about those of us patients now forced to live on $11,000 disability after becoming so disabled by our psych meds we can no longer hold a job when we could before? Why should we give up our lives for those knowingly prescribe extremely addicting, dangerous, deadly psychiatric drugs and then we’re forced to endure the mentally torturous withdrawals ‘cold-turkey’ by ignorant doctors?

  5. hi, eve. first, i’d like to applaud you for waking up to the truth- better late than never- and for recognizing the tremendous harm you and your fellow psychiatrists have caused humanity.

    i like richard’s idea of working and prescribing only to help people withdraw from these evil pills. people withdrawing lie to their mds in order to keep getting prescriptions so they can safely withdraw and it would be so great if they could be honest with an md about their actions and intentions. truly wonderful.

    be careful about ” getting help”. most psych victims are in the terrible states they are in because they sought help, instead of recognizing the power inside themselves and finding tools to deal with their unique struggles- which is all anybody ever needs.

    please use your position to do good and right some wrongs. you may then see all that you experienced as a prelude to your unique current oh-so important task in life.

    much luck,

    -erin

    • Agree completely.
      And in response to “they were just doing their jobs, as they were told and taught”… So were the Nazis
      in the camps…
      And if people “need jobs” that are all about neurotoxic poisoning and electrocuting, there is a problem.
      Psychiatrists continue poisoning little kids with “ADHD” and electrocuting anyone who “qualifies” for this torture and we should feel bad for them?
      These are crimes against humanity indeed, and anyone taking part needs to bebeheld accountable, including, as you say, the clueless nurses and social workers.

    • Because the power structure assures that any dissident is knocked out of the running early on. Kind of like how our political parties work.

      I agree that it was a complete error to every subsume the care of the human spirit into the world of medicine. That being said, I appreciate psychiatric insiders doing what they can to revise the current model of understanding (or misunderstanding) why people feel and act the way they do and what can help. Like it or not, our current culture puts extra value on the opinions of MDs, and the more MDs and former psychiatrists we can get supporting a change, the better off we will be.

      Sometimes it’s necessary to understand that all of us have to figure this out somehow, and some figure it out faster than others. I appreciate insider who can figure it out and be a voice of reason in a world of irrationality and greed.

      • It would be interesting to know what percentage of psychiatrists are aware of the harms they are doing and how many are willing to change how they “practice” if it means giving up the $$ they make with the drug and shock model.
        Would this be 10% or 50% or what? Hard to give up the perks and income the current system rewards them with.

        It is good to see doctors who are willing to speak out and
        attempt to make a positive change.

        • That is an excellent question! I also wonder what percentage are actually sympathetic with a critical view but feel unable to talk about it because they will be attacked by their more avaricious colleagues. Probably a much smaller percentage, I’m guessing, but they do exist.

  6. dr wood is here to help change psychiatry….we need her with us….I do not like the attacks that some are making….I have a MENTAL ILLNESS and I have been helped by a psychiatrist..i am for CRITICAL PSYCHIATRY not extremism….we should be very careful about what we want to throw out…and we should not treat dr wood badly the way some of us have been abused…

  7. Thank you for being one of the few psychiatrists out there who is willing to speak about the human cost to your profession as well of the medical model. People quote Dr. Szasz all the time, but tend to forget that he, too, was a psychiatrist. I hope there will be more like you in the future.

  8. Eve, I’m glad you’ve overcome at least some of your delusional beliefs in the scientifically invalid DSM, and the toxic and deadly psychiatric “wonder drugs.” Many of us here who have been defamed, tortured, and massively poisoned by psychiatrists, psychiatrists who have yet to properly compensate us for the harm they’ve done to us despite having malpractice insurance for this exact purpose, find it difficult to have sympathy for those who unrepentantly defamed, tortured, stole from us, and destroyed our lives and marriages.

    Although I do understand how difficult it must be for the psychiatrists to have to come to grips with the reality that everything you were taught in school and believe in, is based upon scientific fraud, and is wrong. I have no doubt any non-psychopathic psychiatrists should indeed be distressed, by the massive in scope crimes against humanity that today’s psychiatric industry is still relentlessly perpetrating against millions of innocent people, including millions of children.

    “She is worried about the well-being of her colleagues in medicine, and now works with them as a coach, outside the medical model, to remove stigma and fear of professional consequences.” As I said, I agree the doctors should be distressed regarding what they’re doing, thus some may indeed need help. But the need for a different type of help being given to the medical community, than the general population, is a staggeringly hypocritical position. No one should be stigmatized, irregardless of their profession. The DSM based “medical model” should be gotten rid of, for the entire population, not just for the doctors.

  9. Dear Eve: Thank you for writing this courageous post. I’m glad to have you with us.

    You’ve received a lot of good responses already, some supportive, some critical. I do question your version of psychiatry’s “good old days,” as others have done, and add the observation that psychoanalysis deserves rich criticism for many reasons including its basis in pseudoscientific ideas and dearth of evidence to support its effectiveness. You wrote, “Not that long ago, our work involved stepping into the deepest recesses of our patients’ worlds, and partnering with them to find healing and transformation.” That may be true, but it must be said the psychoanalytic approach to healing and transformation was fundamentally misguided, which helps to explain why it has faded away. In the latter half of the 20th century, psychiatry transitioned from pseudoscientific psychotherapy to pseudoscientific polypharmacy while largely ignoring credible psychological approaches to understanding and alleviating psychological problems.

    You wrote: “I never expected to have to worry that the tool bag I was being given to do my job would be full of rusty implements and ineffective potions. I never thought I would be pushed to do things that had the potential to harm, or even kill people. But today I know that our drugs can do that. As the curtain has been pulled back, and the ghoulish nature of the pharmaceutical universe revealed, I have felt completely overwhelmed and personally challenged.”

    I’m pleased you now see what is behind the curtain. As you know, the evidence described by Robert Whitaker in Anatomy of an Epidemic (and detailed in many other places) has been available for decades. Given this, I’m curious how you have only recently come to the realization that your tool bag is full of “rusty implements and ineffective potions.” How is it possible that you were not aware of this all along? Wasn’t it important to you to understand the scientific evidence regarding the “treatments” you provide every day?

    You wrote, “One’s professional organization should be the bulwark against which we can all stand for support of our best efforts. But the whole field has gone mad. And we psychiatrists, and our patients, have been the victims.”

    I implore you not to cast yourself, and your fellow psychiatrists, as victims in the same breath where you acknowledge providing “treatments” that have “the potential to harm, or even kill people.” I understand where you’re coming from, but the real victims here are those in society who have been harmed by psychiatry’s biomedical paradigm (and before that, psychoanalysis and a host of barbaric somatic treatments).

  10. The concept of “mental illness” takes away people’s free will to adaptively cope with life’s struggles in ways of their own choosing, and puts it into the hands of medical authorities who claim to know the best way to cope, claim that they’re the only ones who can “heal”, and have been given power by the state to enforce compliance with their “treatments” which usually benefit the state rather than the client. I read Szasz’s “The Myth of Mental Illness” before starting my psychiatric residency training, so I was not disillusioned – I knew this was a big part of my field, and spoke against it during my residency, for which I was nearly thrown out of the program.
    But I have been able to be a private-practice therapist who doesn’t put himself above his clients, and doesn’t label/sedate/commit/lie to people, or tell them they need to change. As far as I am concerned, “To each his own” – People have philosophized for thousands of years about ways to deal with life’s struggles. It’s not my place to claim that my medical education has given me any answers. I just give them a place to talk, while I listen, understand, and care about what they say. And since I’m not friend or family, they value my confidentiality and impartiality, since friends/family often are biased and tell people what they want to hear even if they don’t think it’s true. And we all tend to block certain things out of our awareness, and can at times benefit from someone else helping us see this. But there are many social workers, psychologists, and other therapists out there who can do this just as well as psychiatrists, and probably better since psychiatrists are no longer trained in therapy, and since it’s hard for them to resist the temptation to play the superior, authoritative, controlling role. So it’s best that we here at Mad in America put an end to psychiatry before it harms our entire society beyond repair. But I have enjoyed my work.

    • Lawrence Kemelson writes:

      “The concept of “mental illness” takes away people’s free will to adaptively cope with life’s struggles in ways of their own choosing, and puts it into the hands of medical authorities who claim to know the best way to cope, claim that they’re the only ones who can “heal”, and have been given power by the state to enforce compliance with their “treatments” which usually benefit the state rather than the client. I read Szasz’s “The Myth of Mental Illness” before starting my psychiatric residency training, so I was not disillusioned – I knew this was a big part of my field, and spoke against it during my residency, for which I was nearly thrown out of the program.”

      “It’s not my place to claim that my medical education has given me any answers.”

      This is one of the most positively amazing things I have heard a psychiatrist write. If the majority of people in the “medical profession” of psychiatry thought like this, it would collapse a large part of the work-force.

    • Lawrence

      You said: “So it’s best that we here at Mad in America put an end to psychiatry before it harms our entire society beyond repair.”

      I have followed and commented on your writings here at MIA over the past year, but this is the FIRST TIME you have taken a decisive ALL THE WAY “anti-psychiatry” position.

      I applaud your in depth exposures of the oppressive psychiatric paradigm of so-called “treatment,” and now your leap to a full blown position calling for an end to Psychiatry. YOU ARE THE FIRST PSYCHIATRIST WHO WRITES HERE AT MIA TO TAKE SUCH A RADICAL POLITICAL STANCE!

      This is a VERY SIGNIFICANT political development in the movement against all forms of psychiatric abuse and in the long term efforts to eventually abolish Psychiatry.

      I hope you, along with all of us other anti-psychiatry activists, can find a way to build upon and expand this form of political and scientific protest. History demands this from us. “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win.”

      Richard

  11. I have a MENTAL ILLNESS….I have been helped by a psychiatrist….with psych drugs…it in no way took away my free will to cope with lifes struggles….I also have been helped by a psychologist and a minister….two friends also helped me…I do not believe that mental illness is a myth…it is real and we need to find the many causes…my model is bio/psych/soc…we don’t know that much at this time..anti-psychiatry is too extreme….I like critical psychiatry….searching for the truth…

    • I will never deny that people can have issues and that these issues often cause much pain for them and those around them. But, I’ve come to the point in my understanding where I will not label all of this a mental “illness”. There are no broken brains nor chemical imbalances. The only chemical imbalances are the ones caused by the toxic psychiatric drugs themselves. I do not and will not accept that any of this is an experience of illness.

      As far as who healed me I would have to say that I healed myself. I dealt with five psychiatrists in my journey through the system. Two were absolutely abusive, one was a good man but not really helpful, and two tried to be helpful but only one of the two had any idea how to approach me in a way that might open the avenue to healing and well-being. But they did not heal me. I had to do the hard work of getting my life back in balance once more. I had to go through the struggles and deal with my issues. I was the one in the end who had to expend the energy. Four of them drugged me and only one was willing to allow me to work at my pace without the toxic drugs. All the drugs did was to make me into a zombie who didn’t give a damn about anything that was happening around me. All the drugs did was separate me from my feelings and emotions, throwing a blanket over everything in an effort to hold things down. Once I got away from psychiatrists and the “hospital”, where I now work, I was able to finish my healing.

      What the system did do was provide a time and space for be to begin the process of finding balance in my life once again. And it was provided for a very expensive price to the tune of $64,500!

      However, I will support anyone in their beliefs, especially if they’re informed about it all. I don’t have to agree with you to support you in what you want to believe. It took me a long time to understand that I don’t need to get people to believe what I believe and that I can support them regardless.

  12. Dear Eve, thank you for this powerful blog article – I have shed and strongly encouraged my doctor colleagues, esp psychiatrists to please read. The very critical comments in the thread above of course have a great deal of justification – many of those within the MIA community have been lied to by organised psychiatry and much more seriously personally harmed, losing their family members et cetera, than ourselves in the profession.

    However, I would encourage all to please understand how HARD it is to make such a leap that Eve describes – which can cost one’s entire livelihood, rendering decades of training futile/worthless, AND irreparably separate a person from one’s peers, and friends. And consider how depressing are these paragraphs…
    “Today’s senior residents in psychiatry get an average of 100 job offers to do medication management. And there are no other options out there. Many graduating residents have huge medical school loans to pay back, and may not even have much knowledge of the risks inherent in the prevailing models…” This is undoubtedly true, and devastating.
    Thank you for your brave blog post – (brave even from my perspective – a psychiatrist who became aware of the problems from the late 90s onward.)

  13. What about all of us suffering with nowhere to get help. Try telling psychiatrist that the medication doesn’t help nor does basic therapy like CBT and they just label you a difficult patient. While psychiatrists need a new direction I hear no sympathy for the patients who have been wanting help for years, lost their jobs, families and sense of worth because psychiatry does not want to accept what they hear from patients and really don’t research for real causes for mental illness and look for ways to actually help and find cures

  14. too little too late. last week i saw a world famous “expert” having a crafty smoke he told me he was sick, how do you feel now about your career ? i asked “l harmed too many people and their families” my reply “too little too late i hope someone forgives you i can’t” his reply ..”i dont blame you” Things ill done and done to others harm…

    • Or you can go orthomolecular, which will make you an Untouchable in the eyes of your orthodox colleagues and the Pharma reps you can then chase out of your office without feeling guilty. You’ll have to know more medicine and clinical nutrition than you probably know now, and be ready to receive the castoffs from orthodox shrinks’ patient loads. You may also expect exceptionally sophisticated patients, too; but they’ll become your friends once you demonstrate your therapeutic competence.

  15. I wish you well in your journey.

    You say: “Since then, I have been learning a lot about what ails us all, and what keeps us from getting help. I have been able to speak more openly about where I am, and what I believe. And, I have decided that I need to provide help and support as a coach to my colleagues who may be experiencing similar difficulties and have nowhere to go with them. Our distress is literally killing us.”

    I believe that the distress you and like minded colleagues are experiencing will be best alleviated if you can find a way to make real change for clients, so by the end of the day, you can feel that you have helped as many people as you feel you have harmed.

    There are so many ways to do this: We need a powerful group of insiders to stand up and fight against the current practices of forced treatment. As you no longer believe in the validity of psychiatric treatment, you can see the urgency of this action. If you feel upset about receiving money for over 35 years, for treatment that caused illness or death to clients, you could donate a portion of that money or your time to provide a foundation to help clients in different ways. I personally believe that the best help you could provide to colleagues that feel the same way as you do, is to provide practical ways of working together that will improve the picture for those harmed by the system.

    I truly do wish you well and welcome you to MIA – it is not easy at all to ‘face the piper’ as I am sure you must realize by some of the critical comments you have received here, not to mention what you must be experiencing at the hands of your colleagues etc – I am sure this was not what you were thinking you were signing up for when you first entered medical school.

    • Hi Eve,
      I just thought of something. You may well be familiar with the blog ‘oneboringoldman’ that was written by the late psychiatrist Dr. Mickey Nardo. Although Dr. Nardo died earlier this year, his blog is still up and his daughter plans to do something with all the entries such as write a book, with the help of another psychiatrist, Dr. Carroll, who was a regular commenter on the blog. Dr. Nardo’s daughter Abby, at one time posted that she would be happy to consider ‘guest posts’ to go up on the site if people had some things they wanted to post about.

      I just wondered if you might want to ask her if you could post your contribution on the blog as a guest post – I think there you would be able to reach an audience of very critical and forward thinking psychiatrists. I know that there was a lot of discussion on the blog about the worry people had about the direction of psychiatric care: probably the same kind of worry and distress you had about the changes particularly over the last few years of your practice that caused you to see more patients and prescribe more etc. (I don’t really know all the details as not being a psychiatrist myself I tended to skip over those discussion pieces.)

  16. My condolences Dr. Wood. It must be hard to enter a field to help suffering people and watch them get worse and die decades early with 0% recovery.

    Many of us here are not psychiatrists nor specialists in the “mental health” field. I am a disillusioned ex-consumer who finally realized my mood swings were drug induced all along. I also feel guilty for turning suicidal friends in to be locked up and making an 8-year-old take his “meds.”

    Even after reading many books that psych drugs did not work I was afraid to go off; I knew withdrawal could make me very sick and cause hallucinations. In order to avoid suspicion I continued group therapy and other nonsense, fearful of saying the wrong thing. Like a member of the former Soviet Union who could no longer believe communist propaganda and dreamed of defecting.

    Finally I relocated quietly. I promised to find new “mental health services” and didn’t. My head has yet to explode. 🙂

    • FeelingDiscouraged,

      It is sad you do almost need to move in order to escape the “system,” but it’s true. I had a psychopathic psychiatrist who was fraudulently listing me as her “out patient” at a hospital I’d never been to, for years, according to an insurance company. Once I learned about this, I called and asked her to stop doing that.

      She then decided to fraudulently list me as her “outpatient” at the hospital where I met her and her now FBI arrested partner. He was finally arrested because he was having lots and lots of patients medically unnecessarily shipped long distances to himself, having the patients “snowed” in the hopes of making them unable to breath, so he could do unneeded tracheotomies on them for profit.

      I’m pretty certain I finally got her to stop fraudulently listing me as her “out patient” when I explained to her lackeys, who called me to find out why I didn’t come to an appointment, that I did not make an appointment with that psychiatrist, I would never choose her as my doctor, and I no longer even lived in that state. So they will be making themselves look like criminal fools if they continue to fraudulently claim I am that doctor’s “out patient.”

      It’s truly staggering the criminal lengths today’s psychiatrists go to cover up their crimes against their so called “patients” and all of humanity.

  17. “We psychiatrists were once ‘soul teachers,’ which is the true meaning of the word psychiatrist.”

    Say what? I’m sorry, but that is simply false. A simple examination of the etymology of the word reveals the absurdity inherent in the practice itself. The term psychiatry is derives from the Greek words “psyche” and “iatros,” which together mean “medical treatment of the soul.” I’m sure that you are a wonderful person, and that you have sincere desires to help others, for which you are to be commended. But in your journey of discovery regarding the truth about psychiatry I’m afraid that you’re going to continue to bump into some very unpleasant realities. I recommend reading more Thomas Szasz, Peter Breggin, Robert Whitaker, etc. to discover the truth about psychiatry.

    The clearly moral thing to do is to abolish psychiatry. Psychiatry causes untold harm to millions of innocent people on a daily basis. This may come as a shock to those who consider themselves to be medical professionals and “soul teachers,” but it is the truth. The best thing to do is to embrace the truth, and to set about working to abolish psychiatry, since it is psychiatry that is causing immense suffering. Apparently even psychiatrists themselves are suffering because they are beginning to come to grips with the reality that their so-called “profession” is the exact opposite of a healing art. The good news is that psychiatrists like Szasz and Breggin have been able to expose the truth about psychiatry from the inside, and therefore a psychiatrist who comes to the realization of these sad facts can do much good by helping to abolish psychiatry. All the best.

  18. Thank you Eve. I will share your piece as I have reached the same conclusion as you. My daughter saw a half dozen psychiatrists who continued to prescribe her uppers (Adderall) and downers (klonopin). She tried getting off the klonopin but no one told her how slowly you should taper. She finally got off them and I believe her anxiety (made worse by the adderall – so much so that she couldn’t sleep the last week of her life). She took her own life a month after switching to diazepam from the klonopin. My daughter was not helped by the psychiatrists. I ended up thinking they were playing with fire, using people as guinea pigs, as they really don’t know how different people react to ‘meds.’

    • I’m very sorry for your loss, too, Leighgage. And you’re right, the psychiatrists are “playing with fire, using people as guinea pigs, as they really don’t know how different people react to ‘meds.’” It’s really quite sick for a person to fraudulently claimed to “know everything about the meds,” when in reality everything they “know” is wrong, especially when it results in the death of an innocent child. My condolences, and I hope you find a lawyer to help you sue the psychiatrist who killed your daughter.

    • Leighgage – Sorry to hear of the death of your daughter. So wrong.
      My family member died of profound hyperglycemia from Zyprexa – Eli Lilly lied, hid, and obfuscated about the side effects, for profit, of course. Finally, with many front page news stories, the FDA (which had been sitting on the evidence) required them to place a warning on the label for “diabetes, hyperglycemia, and death”…something two other countries had already required Lilly to do (Japan, the UK). Lilly was given the largest corporate fine in U.S. history ($1.4 billion) for criminal charges – off-label marketing of Zyprexa. And now, Trump has picked Alex Azar (from Lilly) to run HHS. Wrote both my senators to ask them to oppose, not confirm, his nomination.

    • Leighgage, I truly am sorry for the loss of your daughter. After my mental health care workers told me it was ‘just fine’ to cold-turkey off my 10+ yrs on Klonopin, I too prayed for a gun every second of every minute of every hour of everyday for weeks to end the mental torture/psychosis induced by my K-pin withdrawal. So many have no idea how we suffer during withdrawals from psychiatric drugs because psychiatrists refuse to listen or believe a word we say. They just consider us mentally ill, therefore, what could we possibly know? For what it’s worth, I became so homicidal while cold-turkeying off Effexor, Trazodone & Lithium that it’s amazing I didn’t murder anyone and I’m a 62 year old grandmother. Psychiatric drugs have no place in society what so ever. I know the truth about the drugs now. I researched them non-stop for over 2 years. Dr’s know the truth too. But their lucrative paychecks are more important than our well-being, safety & humanity.

  19. Well, you could look in to orthomoledular, nutritional ways of helping out. Or help people taper off the toxic and often lethal drugs they are on….you could set up a booth outside the American Psychiatric convention and encourage your fellow psychiatrists to bail, too – a booth such as Lucy has in the “Peanuts” cartoon. All is not lost, except a lucrative living.

  20. One of the worst things that derives from psychiatrists’ believing they are medical doctors of the brain is that it opened the door for all doctors to think they are medical doctors of the brain. Patients who didn’t believe the pros outweighed the cons of remaining in any ward of a hospital, who stated a desire to go home, which is their human and legal right, and attempted to leave, have been tied up and drugged and kept for days, to be stabilized, when doctor and some authoritarian-minded nurses considered them irrational and therefore incapable of knowing what was best for them. Doctors know that it means staying in their control at any cost. They call this “beneficience,” misusing the word when they really mean false imprisonment, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and a few other felonies, depending on how far they take things.

    They decide someone is irrational if they don’t share the doctor’s view of what’s best for them. Considering the many thousands of us killed by medical mistakes (as opposed to failure of an appropriate, properly administered therapeutic intervention) and how few of them we kill by mistake, I’ll put my money on patients’ judgement when lives are on the line.

    • I agree with you here. I believe that doctors of all medical specialties have become way too arrogant, believing that they know what is best for their patients, no matter what. But we are the ones who allowed them to reach this level of hubris because of our subservient attitude that the doctors are the supposed experts about our own lives. It’s time that we begin putting doctors in their place and if they don’t like it then that’s just too bad. I’ve walked away from two medical doctors who I felt were abusive in their arrogant attitudes towards me. It’s time that we took the power back into our own hands so that they can no longer do what you’ve described here. I worked in hospitals for fifteen years and observed the very thing that you talk about here. Doctors called security on patients who wanted to leave and said patients were held in the hospital against their will. And the doctor claimed that he was doing this for the person’s benefit and in their best interests. And it all came down to the fact that the patient was of a different opinion about what should have been done about their situation from what the doctor wanted to do. The patients was rational and aware.

    • “One of the worst things that derives from psychiatrists’ believing they are medical doctors of the brain is that it opened the door for all doctors to think they are medical doctors of the brain.” I agree, many within today’s mainstream medical community have lost their own minds due to their unchecked power to force “treat,” and their greed. And much of what psychiatry is used for today is covering up easily recognized iatrogenesis for the incompetent mainstream medical doctors. But of course the primary actual function of today’s psychiatrists is covering up child abuse, according to their own medical literature, which is actually illegal.

  21. Dr. Wood,

    I’ve been observing the movement to prevent physician suicide for several years now. One of the biggest drivers of psychiatric abuse (besides the overmedicalization of human suffering in your field generally) is related to a problem faced by doctors in all specialties, not just psychiatry. It is the sadistic practices in place at medical schools and hospitals. These practices are a twisted form of hazing. Residents are forced to work long hours and are treated like sh*t by senior staff. They then turn around and direct the abuse they received onto their patients, thinking it is normal.

    We must reject ‘normality’ in all of its perverse forms. ‘Normal’ behavior is killing the planet. We are demineralizing food, polluting the earth, air, and water, and turning the helping professions into institutions of harm and corruption.. Corporate owned media is dumbing down our society, and institutionalizing people in warehouses is viewed as ‘progress’.

    I’m sorry to say this, but while I am slightly sympathetic if you took out a loan of $200,000 to make it through medical school, making you virtually into an indentured servant for three decades, but there is a huge problem with the status and level of reimbursement afforded to members of your profession. We pay child care providers and care givers for the elderly about 3% of your hourly wages. They lift and transfer patients, massage them, bathe and help with their hygiene, nourish them, take them to appointments, etc. and yet our society values their labor at $10/hr v.s. your $300/hr.

    My brother left the practice of medicine after twenty years doling out pills to his patients and became a landscaper. Now he heals the earth. He has never been happier.

  22. Psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug racket, and a means of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins. All of the so-called “diagnoses” in the DSM-5 are bogus, all were invented/created, – not discovered, – to serve as excuses to $ELL DRUG$, and produ$e billing. So-called “mental illnesses” are exactly as real as presents from Santa Claus, but not more real. There, that’s my spiel…. My parents took me to a shrink in 10th grade. I got an Rx and a “diagnosis”. I got literally dozens more of each in the next 20+ years. Psychiatry DESTROYED what should have been the BEST 20 years of my life. As much as I’m heartened to see another brick in the wall fall out, as Eve has done here, still, well, I don’t know….
    I have to assume there have been *some* concentration camp guards who wrote similar pieces in the late 1940’s/50’s…. Sorry, not trying to be nasty, but I still see my friends literally poisoned and tortured by young shrinks who weren’t even born when I was first drugged…. So please, Eve, I thank-you, but please understand MY contempt for your profession. It’s not personal to you….. I also mostly agree with most of the other commenters here.
    How would *YOU* like to live on ~$750./month SSDI….????…. Oh, yeah, I get food stamps, and help with housing, too…. But at least I’ve been SHRINK-PROOF for 20+ years now…..
    (Trust me, Eve, but the rose-colored glasses, LA LA Land description of psychiatry *YOU* describe, is NOT what *I* experienced…. I narrowly escaped literal murder, by guards in one lock-up I found myself in, while in the thrall of psychs…. GET IT….????…. It’s not anger, but PAIN and TRAUMA, and FEAR, that feed my words here….
    ~Bradford

  23. This idea just occurred to me, so it won’t be worded well, or a fully-developed idea.
    Why don’t you, Eve, explore the idea of *OFFICIALLY* creating(whatever that means….), a special category of persons, who have been hurt by psychiatry, and who should NOT be subjected to ANY so-called “treatment?
    A couple years ago, I was literally arrested and charged with a totally bogus criminal charge, just because of my *past* *psych* *record*. Think about that, please, Eve. The human carnage psychiatry has inflicts on humanity continues….

  24. First off, I have no sympathy what so ever for Psychiatris’s who would rather choose to keep their $80,000-100,00 lucrative jobs by continually poisoning, maiming & murdering their patients through over prescribing of psychiatric drugs while we, their patients, struggle to live on $11,000 a year after becoming so disabled by their cocktail of toxic drugs when we never were before. I was misdiagnosed and heavily drugged for 35 years. I had to give up my life over this imaginary ‘chemically imbalanced’ brain they claimed I had. My psychiatarist even informed me after being on my meds for 35 years that it’s ‘just fine’ to stop taking them as my world spiraled into nothing short of pure psychotic, endless hell. If I with a 10th grade education is able to research and discover just how dangerous, addicting & deadly psychiatric drugs really are, why can’t a damn psychiatrist who has higher education. If I sound angry I am. I’m outraged. Psychiatry has no idea how we suffer at their hands because we’re not listened to or believed. Nor do they care. Their paycheck becomes more important than a patients needless, endless suffering. After all, according to them, what the hell could we possibly know? We’re ‘mentally ill’. So what’s my reward for being a psychiatric drug survivor? Now I get to watch the exact same toxic psychiatric drugs destroy my daughters life in ‘real time’.