Reading Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic,1 as well as Irving Kirsch’s proof that antidepressants are placebos,2 emboldened me to finally come out with the anti biological psychiatry sentiments I had harbored for years. I agreed with each word in Whitaker’s book, until he proposed that patients mostly worsen due to chemical effects of their meds. I wondered: He showed that ‘mental illnesses’ aren’t chemically caused, so why suggest that their worsening when ‘treated’ is mainly chemically caused?
Why embrace and legitimize psychiatry’s medical model by joining its hunt for biological causes of human experiences? Since mental illnesses are actually reactions to psychosocial issues, why not instead focus on psychosocial causes of their worsening? Here’s my psychosocial explanation.
In seeking psychiatric treatment, clients transfer responsibility for dealing with life’s struggles to medical authorities. By relinquishing their right to choose how to cope, they become like inmates in asylums: As in asylums, free will is replaced by passive, helpless submission to doctors’ orders, the main one being to take pills to control their feelings, thoughts, and actions. As in asylums, they are assigned a humiliating, dehumanizing ‘mental illness’ identity — its acceptance also leads to their eternal withdrawal from the challenges of life in society and thus their removal/alienation from it.
They thus commit to and get locked into lifelong dependence on psychiatry. As years go by, their ability to use their free will and brains to adaptively cope with life and their feelings will get lost due to disuse. They’ll thus find it increasingly difficult to ever reclaim independence/functionality in the outside world. Labeled/treated kids aren’t even given a chance to learn how to use their free will and their adaptive brains; they thus fall increasingly behind their peers, and never become functional or independent.
So psychiatry didn’t really stop institutionalizing people; it just found new ways to do it.
Even if one day they stop suppressing their brains with ‘meds,’ they may not really break free of psychiatry’s spell; they may still believe that they’re brain disease victims. But now they’ll view their struggles (which will be harder due to having become institutionalized) as symptoms of drug-impaired rather than genetically-impaired brains. This will needlessly deter them from trying to break out of the asylum (use their brains to regain control of their lives), just as faith in having a mental illness had misled them to needlessly give up on their resourceful capabilities in the first place.
Increasing institutionalization explains clients’ downhill course over time. Drug impairment does not, since it’s usually steady, unless the dose is steadily raised due to addiction/withdrawals, or if there’s progressive brain atrophy. But even atrophy in sedated clients’ brains may be due to disuse (as occurs in other body parts not used for long periods) rather than direct chemical effect. In fact, studies suggest that cognitive3 and physical4 exercise (things zombified clients can’t do) prevent brain atrophy in seniors. So psych clients’ brain atrophy may be due to institutionalization instead of drug toxicity. Disuse of their brains and bodies may also slow their metabolic rate, while their inactivity can lead to using food to fill time and stuff down feelings. So weight gain might also be a result of asylum life rather than a direct drug effect.
Institutionalization also best explains why clients get even sicker after going off meds: Since their coping skills have been largely forgotten due to disuse, or never even developed, their only coping tool is using mind-numbing pills. Hence they’ll flounder without them. If drug effects were the main cause of their decline, then they would improve, not worsen, after coming off them.
And drug effects can’t explain why antidepressant users decline over time, since they’re placebos. Their mood-lifting isn’t from their chemical effect, so how could their mood-lowering be from it?
A more likely explanation is: Since people can make themselves extremely happy (manic), clients who trust that antidepressants work can also make themselves manic by the power of suggestion. After all, most people who are fooled into thinking they drank alcohol still act drunk.5 Since the crash from self-induced mania can be saddening, a crash from the high of thinking all one’s woes were solved by pills (once placebo effects fade) can also be saddening. Repeatedly and fruitlessly trying to cure one’s feelings, instead of patiently addressing and mastering the challenges that elicited them, will of course ultimately be demoralizing. How can seeking quick fixes to life’s struggles end well?
Billions of antidepressants were sold, so placebo effects, including extreme or fading ones, must be very strong. In support of this explanation, an extensive review of randomized controlled trials for all modern antidepressants in kids found “many adverse events reported in clinical trials for both active medications and placebos (such as mania, suicidality, and aggression)… Only a handful of these events occurred significantly more frequently in the treatment subjects versus the control subjects.”6 So there’s no need to medicalize antidepressant users’ worsening, just as there was no need to medicalize their emotions in the first place. Institutionalization is instead likely to blame.
Talk of drug-induced brain-chemical aberrations reminds me of the infamous Zoloft commercial, in which brain chemicals travel from one neuron to another while a voice says: “depression is due to a chemical imbalance.” It implanted the cancerous medical model into our culture. Why further nourish this harmful myth by teaching that worsening depression is due to a drug-induced chemical imbalance? Though comforting, since it lets people hold onto the victim role that psychiatry reinforced and trapped them into, it upholds the very premise that psychiatry’s based on — that our woes aren’t life struggles that we can capably, responsibly work on; they’re diseases beyond our control. It thereby continues and strengthens what psychiatry started, by further leading people down the path of learned helplessness, further negating their free will and resilience, and thus further institutionalizing them.
So maybe clients who deteriorate over time aren’t really hopelessly, permanently brain-disabled. Maybe there’s some hope of recovery, albeit not a quick or easy one. Why not tell them that if they choose to, they can awaken from hibernation and re-learn the skills needed to effectively manage their lives? Instead of trying to invent new iatrogenic diseases to add to the DSM, why not discard it and its medical model approach altogether? Why not become truly anti biological psychiatry, by re-examining psychosocial explanations of human experience like those offered by great thinkers such as Freud, Laing, Skinner, Maslow, Erikson, and Goffman (who wrote of institutionalization’s harmful effects7)?
But don’t just take all this on my authority — think it out for yourself!
- Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Whitaker, R. 2010, Crown Publishers, New York. ↩
- The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth. Kirsch, I. 2010, Basic Books, New York. ↩
- Can Cognitive Exercise Prevent the Onset of Dementia? A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials with Longitudinal Follow-Up. Valenzuela, M, Sachdev, P, Am J Geriatric Psych, 2009 Mar 17(3)179-87. ↩
- A Randomized Controlled Trial of Multicomponent Exercise in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Suzuki, T, et al, PLOS/One, April 2013, Vol 8(4)e61483. ↩
- A New Device for Administering Alcohol Placebo. Mendelson, J, et al, Alcohol, 1984 Sep-Oct (5)417-19. ↩
- Review of the Efficacy and Safety of Antidepressants in Youth Depression. Cheung, A, et al, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Jul 2005, 46(7)735-54. ↩
- Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. Goffman, E, 1961, Anchor Books, NY. ↩
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.
This is disgusting.
Done with this guy.
I like your point. I gained 40 pounds after going on pills, but my dosage wasn’t so high, I gained probably due to ‘self-medicating’ the stress of asylum. There is statistical evidence that weight gain is present but not so big (less then 20 pounds in most people)
However some drugs are extremely devastating like risperidone is really destroy your blood sugar. Pills also make you more complaint, drowsy, also make you sleep to much. If you sleep for 12 hours a day and have low energy, how much you can fight?
What Whitaker cites is basically true for long term service users. Take a look for Monica Cassani case, this woman.
So probably both factors – drugs and casted disability role are at play here.
The overeating and reduced mental/physical activity that come with sedated, “institutionalized” life is enough to explain the rise in blood sugar in chronic risperidone or other neuroleptic users. It can’t be just coincidence that the psych drugs that cause the most weight gain and blood sugar spikes are all major tranquilizers.
You would need to compare those who suffer un drugged forced idleness to those who are drugged into placidity to make this case and also look at the short term effects of those drugs on people. As I understand they stimulate appetite which would account for some of the biological changes experienced by people taking these drugs.
SSRIs jack up your cortisol levels. Not only do you gain, but your weight is largely (pun intended) around your gut.
I finally am starting to have a waist again.
dr kelmenson….we still have the model of causation———–bio/psy/soc…
I see different disciplines vying for fame and fortune…psychologist against psychiatrist..
but we need to focus on the truth that we eventually find..
Lawrence, you make some excellent points in this article, and I can understand your criticism of “learned helplessness.” It’s good that you’ve discovered some truth that has lead you to the anti-biological psychiatry position. There’s much more to the story than that, as I’m sure you’re also aware.
I can appreciate the attempt to think through Whitaker’s arguments, because even Whitaker, as great as he is, hasn’t quite grasped certain things that people like Szasz and Kraus grasped so long ago. In my estimation, it would be a grave mistake to underestimate the severe harm that is caused by neurotoxic drugs. It is possible to recover from psychiatric drugging, torture, abuse, shock, involuntary incarceration, and slavery. It is possible, but it’s not nearly as easy as you make it out to be. For the sake of analogy, imagine Frederick Douglass. It was possible for him to escape from slavery, and he did it. But millions of others were not able to escape. In other words, escape and recovery from psychiatric slavery is possible, but very difficult.
Also, you are critical of biological psychiatry and the medical model. This is good. But why insist on preserving psychiatry at all? It isn’t just biological psychiatry that has caused such atrocious harm, it is psychiatry itself. Yes, people are resilient. Yes, people can and do recover. Yes, the human spirit has an amazing capacity to overcome adverse circumstances. Does this mean that we ought to perpetuate the ideologies and the institutions that impose these adverse circumstances on innocent people? Isn’t life difficult enough for all of us as it is already without the additional trouble of psychiatry?
You claim that “mental illnesses” are “actually reactions to psychosocial issues.” As has been shown many times over, such reasoning ends up supporting psychiatry as a whole, including biological, medical model psychiatry. One of the major problems with your argument, although it may hold true for a fraction of the victims of psychiatry, is that there are many people who are dragged into the nefarious web of psychiatry without seeking out psychiatric “care.” In fact, I would venture to guess that most people get sucked into the psychiatric vortex without even realizing it. Even those who have woken up to the truth about psychiatry may have a very difficult time escaping the tentacles of this horrible monster, or the claws and the fangs of this dragon.
I agree that human beings place too much trust in medicine, in doctors, and in psychiatrists. This is a problem. But the source of the problem is usually ignorance, not necessarily learned helplessness or passivity. This ignorance extends to almost every corner of the globe, and psychiatry has done a great job in perpetuating the kinds of myths that keep people ignorant. Even the myth that there is a good kind of psychiatry and a bad kind of psychiatry keeps people ignorant and facilitates the dominion of psychiatry.
You ask an interesting question: “Why further nourish this harmful myth by teaching that worsening depression is due to a drug-induced chemical imbalance?” The myth, however, is not just the “chemical imbalance” hoax, whether it be the myth of the drug-induced “chemical imbalance” or otherwise. The harmful myth is the myth of mental illness itself, and it isn’t just biological psychiatry that fosters this myth. Neurotoxic drugs cause terrible harm. Psychiatry capitalizes on this harm by pretending to “treat” the problems that it causes. But all of this is only possible because the myth of mental illness reigns supreme. Psychiatry, not just biological psychiatry, sustains the myth of mental illness.
Of course it’s all part of the psychiatric enterprise to add iatrogenic “diseases” to the DSM-V, and this needs to be stopped. Of course people can recover from psychiatric abuse, drugging, incarceration, torture, shock, and slavery… people are powerful. There are people who survived Nazi prison camps, the gulags, and chattel slavery. But does this mean that those who didn’t make it through such horrific experiences were just too weak-willed? I don’t think so.
Lawrence, you come so close to the truth. You ask “Why not discard it (the DSM-V) and its medical model approach altogether?” Yes. Discard these things. But how? By discarding PSYCHIATRY altogether. What makes you wish to hold on to the very system that created these problems in the first place? You take a big step: “Why not become truly anti biological psychiatry?” But why not take the full step? Why not become truly anti-PSYCHIATRY?
And just for the record Freud, Laing, Skinner, and Maslow were not great thinkers. Freud was a fraud, and very cunning and clever, but not a great thinker. Laing was a disaster, as Szasz has so clearly articulated. Skinner was radical behaviorist who believed that free will was an illusion, but he was not a great thinker. Maslow, the prophet of “self-actualization,” and Erikson, were not quite great thinkers either. Even though Maslow was critical of Freud, both he and Erikson were still under his spell. Goffman was also under Freud’s spell, but at least he cofounded of the American Association for the Abolition of Involuntary Mental Hospitalization. I wouldn’t even say that Szasz and Kraus were necessarily great thinkers, although they came much closer to being great thinkers than any of the people that you mentioned. In any case, most of these people (perhaps with the exception of Freud), whether almost great thinkers or not, had the advantage of using brains that had not been saturated in neurotoxic, psychotropic drugs.
Those who are fortunate enough to have brains that are free from neurotoxins need to think more deeply and clearly about how we can really help those whose lives have been destroyed by psychiatry. On the other hand, those whose lives have been destroyed by psychiatry can take hope in the assurance that escape and full recovery from psychiatric slavery is possible.
I’m picking on hypocritical thought process. He cuts those down and is very insensitive although claims he is standing up for us. Could be a nurse Ratchet. Same rhetoric.
A highly trained interrogator or a Thomas Harris already knows this man’s real intentions.
I agree institutionalisation plays a part in creating chronic patients.
I have no convincing evidence to counter the arguments that Whittaker et al have proposed that psyche drugs are harmful and stop recovery in most people.
I would welcome an article on learned helplessness and institutionalisation caused by psychiatry. I would not want to share this one because it conflates those ideas with an investigation into the effect of psychiatric drugs.
I would welcome an article on the psychological damage of psyche drugs based on psychological theories and challenging biochemical ideas, eg the nocebo theory, but I would need more evidence for me to take it seriously and for it to be one I would share.
There are non psychiatric drugs that cause psychological harm. I was prescribed one for asthma and having read the potential side effects I decided not to take it. I have a friend who was prescribed another drug that is an antibiotic that affected her state of mind badly, it is a known effect of this drug. Therefore you argument that psychiatric drugs do not cause mental distress seems unlikely and unproved.
I agree. It is very possible that both have an effect on deterioration, given that suicides INCREASE after hospitalization. However, the evidence Whitaker presents shows a DIRECT relationship between increasing use of drugs and dramatic increases in disability. He also presents a clear mechanism by which this occurs. It is not possible to dismiss his hypothesis without refuting the data, and the author fails to do so.
I would also add that the REMOVAL of genuine supportive services over time contributes to the deterioration of clients over time, but that still does not invalidate the data showing strong correlation with the use of psychiatric drugs and the vast increase in disability.
You are rather quickly undoing all of the “good will” and support you accumulated with some of your past blogs critical of psychiatry.
You are clearly DENYING the growing body of evidence that psychiatric drugs perturb, alter, and disable the serotonergic, norepinephrinergic, and dopaminergic neuro-chemical processes in the brain (and in other parts of the body, especially with serotonin being in the gut system). There is clear evidence that SSRI’s reduce the number of serotonin receptors in the brain, and neuroleptics (anti-psychotics) add to the number of D2 dopamine receptors (and cause harmful metabolic changes in the body). The latter (increased D2 dopamine receptors) is the basis for the supersensitivity theory (leading to psychosis) when people too quickly taper off of anti-psychotic drugs. And benzos do serious harm to the gaba receptors in the brain, that can last for long periods of time. Some people may have permanent damage – the jury is still out on the very long term effects.
You said “In seeking psychiatric treatment, clients transfer responsibility for dealing with life’s struggles to medical authorities….They thus commit to and get locked into lifelong dependence on psychiatry.”
Who is primarily to blame for this dependence and what are its major components? You have presented a very strong current of “blame the victim” in the way you have characterized people’s disablement due to psychiatric mistreatment. Of course, “learned helplessness” is a factor in some of the cases of those harmed by today’s “mental health” practitioners, but this is only one small piece of the problem.
In past discussions you have tried to say you were apolitical and you avoided addressing larger political questions. But it sounds like you might be presenting arguments here that back up Right Wing (blame the victim) views of those people stuck in poverty etc. You can’t have it both ways, that is, openly avoiding larger political discussions yet seemingly trumpeting a “conservative” analysis of why people are stuck in the underclasses.
And finally, you said: “And drug effects can’t explain why antidepressant users decline over time, since they’re placebos.”
You have this ALL wrong – antidepressants are ACTIVE placebos. They have a placebo effect, both because they are prescribed by a doctor and advertised as successful, AND because they are chemical agents that intrinsically make people feel different and actually alter neuro-chemical processes. This is one reason why double blind studies are corrupted because almost everyone (including the patient) knows who is actually getting the tested drug.
Lawrence, usually I would say “you can do better than this”, but now I am not so sure where you are coming from with this type of analysis.
John, Steve, Richard, Dragon Slayer, etc.:
Here’s where I’m coming from: I am thinking for myself about why we feel, think, and do what we do, and inviting others to also do so. I am rebelling against psychiatry’s medical model, which is society’s way of suppressing such free/independent thought by blaming everything on “bad brains”. The “anti-psychiatry” movement of the past 25 years is actually pro-psychiatry since it also blames brain chemistry, so of course it’s failing. So I am trying to form a splinter anti-psychiatry group that instead promotes thinking outside the medical-model box, as not only the great thinkers of the 1900s who I referred to did, but many other psychologists, philosophers, and sociologists since Greek times did as well. We can only defeat psychiatry by breaking completely free of its pseudoscience zombiehood which has taken over our culture, and rediscovering our ability to reason logically, as these people did.
Instead of buoying psychiatry by promoting more helpless medicalization by saying: “Antidepressants can induce suicidality in kids”, let’s promote independent thought (psychiatry’s enemy) by saying: “If instead of listening to and understanding your kids and helping them learn to capably address whatever problems upset them, you build up their false hopes by saying it’s due to a disease that can be treated by miracle pills, you’re setting them up for disaster”. This approach may not be as popular since it’s somewhat unflattering of human nature. But helping people think about and face the truth, rather than just telling them what they want to hear (that they bear no responsibility whatsoever for their troubles or for addressing them), will help them take back freedom/power over their lives. So who wants to join me?
The problem is, the drugs DO have adverse effects on the brain. I think it’s a combination: the adults have distanced themselves from the kids partly due to the DSM/bad brain theories, and the drugs make it easier to do that, but the drugs themselves make it easier for the kids (or others) to distance themselves from their feelings and their oppressors. They are not mutually exclusive, and there is plenty of evidence to support that certain drugs in and of themselves make violence more likely. It’s not blaming the brain to note the evidence supporting the drugs’ adverse effects.
Ditto “The problem is, the drugs DO have adverse effects on the brain.” No one knows if or when the brain can heal from the drugs.
“I am rebelling against psychiatry’s medical model, which is society’s way of suppressing such free/independent thought by blaming everything on ‘bad brains’.”
This is very close to the truth. But it isn’t just psychiatry’s medical model that suppresses free/independent thought by blaming everything on “bad” or “broken” brains. It’s psychiatry itself. I agree with you completely that the “bad” or “broken” brain narrative is absolute nonsense. However, these notions come to us directly, or indirectly, from psychiatry itself, and not just from the “medical model.”
“The ‘anti-psychiatry’ movement of the past 25 years is actually pro-psychiatry since it also blames brain chemistry, so of course it’s failing.” This is a caricature of “anti-psychiatry.” Whoever these people are who blame “brain chemistry” are not truly anti-psychiatry. The truth is that neurotoxic, psychotropic drugs cause great damage the brain. The brain damage that is caused by neurotoxic, psychotropic drugs is not a “chemical imbalance” in the brain. The “chemical imbalance” hoax was proved to be false almost as soon as it was concocted, but pharmaceutical companies have marketed this hoax very effectively. In other words, no one who is truly anti-psychiatry blames brain chemistry for anything. However, neurotoxic, psychotropic drugs damage the brain and cause a variety of terrible symptoms from which it may be very difficult to recover.
“So I am trying to form a splinter anti-psychiatry group that instead promotes thinking outside the medical-model box, as not only the great thinkers of the 1900s who I referred to did, but many other psychologists, philosophers, and sociologists since Greek times did as well.”
I appreciate the opposition to the medical model, but frankly, it is rather difficult to form an anti-psychiatry group while still supporting psychiatry in other forms. As I mentioned before, Freud was not a great thinker, and in many ways his false philosophy is part and parcel of psychiatry as a whole, and it is even part of the medical model in particular.
“We can only defeat psychiatry by breaking completely free of its pseudoscience zombiehood which has taken over our culture, and rediscovering our ability to reason logically, as these people did.”
Now I’m confused. It seems as though, in this sentence, you oppose psychiatry as a whole? Is that correct? If so, then you are on the right track. Psychiatry itself IS a pseudoscience. Psychology is not far behind in terms of pseudoscience. Truth, reason, liberty, responsibility, and common sense stand in direct opposition to pseudoscientific psychiatry. Psychiatry, as Szasz noted, is the science of lies. It is based on deception, coercion, fraud, and oppression. It only makes sense to oppose psychiatry in all its viscious forms.
“But helping people think about and face the truth, rather than just telling them what they want to hear (that they bear no responsibility whatsoever for their troubles or for addressing them), will help them take back freedom/power over their lives.” This is exactly right, and this is exactly what I have tried to do with you, Lawrence, since I recognize that you are a free and independent thinker. My hope is to communicate truth directly, rather than telling you what you want to hear. Szasz and Kraus were closer to the truth, and both of them saw Freud for the fraud that he was. It is impossible to support Freud and the long line of psychiatric charlatans while attempting to combat psychiatry.
It is true, as Steve mentioned, that neurotoxic, psychotropic drugs have terrible adverse effects. But these drugs could not be marketed so effectively without the pseudo-scientific myths of psychiatry to promote them. I believe that most of us who truly oppose psychiatry, who are truly antipsychiatry, would especially welcome people like you to join us because, like Szasz, Breggin, and others, you have the perspective of an insider, so to speak. You have the potential to combat psychiatry from the inside as a “professional.” But even Szasz and Breggin run into some major difficulties when they try to preserve some semblance of normalcy in psychiatry.
No where in any of your comments do you address the fact that children and other people living in this society experience daily traumas that have their origins in various unequal and oppressive institutions OTHER than psychiatry.
Lawrence do you believe that poverty can be a form of violence perpetrated on human beings?
If psychiatry disappeared today, there would still be thousands of other human stressors (“Me Too” moments) arising out of the bowels of this society that would still push human beings over the proverbial edge.
These are issues that neither you or “Slaying the Dragon” seem to want to address in your commentary.
Lawrence, there are many things about the more liberal leaning antipsychiatrists that I can appreciate, including their concern for the poor and the vulnerable of society. These are definitely issues that need to be addressed. However, I am reject the progressive ideologies that feed into the psychiatric system. Thanks in advance for your response.
Stick to what you’re good at DS. Your AP analysis is way more sophisticated than your political one, which is misinformed and does not distinguish between leftists and liberals, and is rarely documented.
Nah. I’ll stick to truth, and let the truth cut it’s own path. My political analysis is actually just as sharp, if not sharper than my AP analysis. Truth is troubling to psychiatrists for reasons that are obvious to both you and me. Truth can also be troubling to political ideologues, be they liberals, conservatives, or libertarians.
Then give some documentation for your claims instead of acting like a Hannity wannabe. It adversely affects your credibility.
Ad hominem attacks are not arguments.
I must have missed it, where was there an ad hominem attack? (If you object to being compared to Hannity that’s a good sign though.)
Anyway, making generalized ideological pronouncements without explaining their relevance to the subject at hand is rarely helpful and, I agree, this applies to all “sides.”
oldhead, we’re on the same team – for antipsychiatry – the ad hominem was the Hannity stuff – and as far as making generalized ideological pronouncements, that’s a good description of what most of the political commentary on MIA is all about – I just try to question all that. I question the vast array of ideological political assertions that are made on this website. Someone’s gotta do it. 🙂
There have always been, and will always be harsh experiences in all societies, partly because man’s nature is often harsh. I have no strong views on how best to prevent this. But at least if people are aware that unpleasant emotions/thoughts aren’t brain diseases but are cues that something’s bothering them that they’re capable of working on, they’ll be more likely to effectively address it. I do have a strong view that medicalization of such experiences, which has lately been promoted by both psychiatry and anti-psychiatry camps, has become so widespread in America that it’s the biggest threat to our society’s survival. I suggest we all focus on this before it weakens America any further.
Again, there are no real antipsychiatrists that promote any such medicalization, and it is not helpful to dignify such imposters with the title “antipsychiatry.”
“I have no strong views on how best to prevent this.”
One of the best ways to prevent this is to abolish psychiatry.
You said: “There have always been, and will always be harsh experiences in all societies, partly because man’s nature is often harsh.”
It seems you are saying that human nature is INHERENTLY AND FOREVER “harsh?”
This is an UNSCIENTIFIC AND STATIC VIEW of human nature that serves those who cannot see beyond a class based profit system with all its inequalities and daily forms of violence.
A much more scientific view (both dialectical and historical) would say that human beings have the capacity to be both loving and cooperative in their nature, IF surrounded by an environment that provides for their basic needs, encourages full participation, and maintains a high level of safety.
If the surrounding environment cannot provide the above mentioned basic conditions, then, of course, human beings can be “harsh” and even quite violent.
I suggest we all focus on this before it weakens America any further.
This is a chauvinistic, America-centric viewpoint. “Keeping America Strong” has nothing to do with my anti-psychiatry beliefs, and many if not most of the world’s people would find this offensive.
I agree with the criticism of this ‘blame the victim’ tone. There is truth here but the lens is distorting it. First- Richard Lewis here makes good points- biology matters. And biology cannot be separated from the greater environmental context that puts neurotoxins in the meds and in the food and water in the form of pesticide or lead contamination. Social matters too – we are after all social creatures. There is a challenge here because it’s not just meds that have negative impacts. PTSD and other impairments also cause cognitive problems- I don’t think we’ll ever have the data we need to parse it all with any strong authority. We can all probably agree though that patients in crisis have different needs than when they are functioning fully and we need more good ways to get from one to the other. Patients need help de-institutionalizing no matter whether it is inside or outside of a building. They will never totally be free of the need for some structure, order and connection whether this comes from friends and family and community or from healthcare providers. How does a person go from being told what to do and when to do it to making good choices on their own? From what I’ve seen, it occurs when a person feels safe and secure (#1) with no threats of being cut off from the roof over their heads, the meds that get them to sleep at night, or the resources that keep them from begging for food); once that’s settled, they need daily contact with people who really care about them- they need walks in the park, phone calls, grocery trips, trips to the movies- and everything that passes as normal life. They need opportunities to exercise their decision making legs- and they need a safety net that allows them to be imperfect and not be punished for it. The fact that our culture has succeeded in isolating, compartmentalizing, and separating so many from their community is one of the biggest problems. Until we acknowledge that we are all in this together, pushing people into the ‘other’ category will continue to harm us all.
I think this article was meant tongue and cheek? But I agree with many others here that it really dismisses or even outright denies the true harm the psychiatric drugs can do, which isn’t really funny. Antidepressants are not placebos. A placebo is “a harmless pill,” by definition. It is well know the antidepressants can create “mania,” increase suicides, violence, and they can also create “psychosis,” via anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning. So stating “antidepressants are placebos” is factually incorrect.
The antipsychotics are a horrendous class of neurotoxins. They, too, can create “psychosis,” via anticholinergic toxidrome. And as a person who was poisoned with these drugs, who did manage to maintain my one hour a day of biking or rowing, I will tell you these drugs do cause weight gain. I managed to not gain a tremendous amount of weight, due to my continued exercise. But I will tell you I lost a fair amount of weight after I was weaned off the antipsychotics. Weight gain is a problem with this drug class, due to the chemical imbalances that the drugs create. The common sense reality that no “chemical imbalances” exist prior to one being given psychiatric drugs, does not mean drugs filled with chemicals can’t create “chemical imbalances.”
You go on to question, “I agreed with each word in Whitaker’s book, until he proposed that patients mostly worsen due to chemical effects of their meds. I wondered: He showed that ‘mental illnesses’ aren’t chemically caused, so why suggest that their worsening when ‘treated’ is mainly chemically caused?” Because the psychiatric drugs are neurotoxins that do cause tremendous harm to those who are forced to take them. Your seeming ignorance of the harm psychiatric drugs can do shows the staggering level of ignorance by psychiatrists, regarding the adverse effects of the drugs your industry prescribes, which is rather shameful.
I found your “institutionalization” rant a bit absurd, and actually highly insulting to those of us defrauded, defamed, and iatrogenically harmed by pedophilia covering up psychiatrists. Personally, I think one reason many do worse after being given the psychiatric drugs is because the drugs have not just short run, but very long run, withdrawal effects – which are of course similar to the DSM disorder symptoms, how convenient for psychiatry. I see your “institutionalization” rant as more psychiatric denial and psychobabble to obfuscate the adverse and withdrawal effects of the drugs your industry is forcing down people’s throats. And I do agree with those who see you as a “blame the patient” type. No, it’s the neurotoxins that are a problem.
You do come to a correct conclusion, the DSM needs to go. The mass psychiatric drugging of the population needs to end as well. But I must confess, the child abuse covering up theologies of the psychologists really are no more morally acceptable than the silencing of the child abuse victims done by the psychiatrists with their neurotoxins. I’d like to see both industries end their paternalistic, but staggeringly profitable, systemic cover ups of the rape of women and children. And that’s basically all either of those industries seems to end up doing, according to your own medical literature. We’d be better off as a society getting rid of both the psychiatric and psychological industries, and starting to arrest the pedophiles and rapists instead.
In the end, Lawrence Kelmenson is right: institutional disempowerment is more serious than psychiatric drug addiction.
@Richard D. Lewis
The “victims” do not exist: there are only social conflicts and the notion of “victim” and “persecutor” is a view of the mind. Besides, the roles can change.
We must stop thinking of people as victims, and ourselves as saviors! Of course, we can help people, but not beyond certain limits; on the other hand, we can not help someone who does not want to help himself. I’m really tired of these psychotics who, using the pretext of a trauma (which is real), make fools to be hospitalized and then be saved by a good Saint-Maritain!
Psychotics are responsible for their actions, whether they like it or not, and we must not encourage them to indulge in irresponsibility.
“Poor little thing, he’s sick, he’s weaning, he’s intoxicated!” No! We can help them, but not beyond a certain limit. Their actions have their consequences: enough mothering!
If “psychotics” are peaceful weirdos talking to little purple men in the walls let them. But I know people who use their labels of “bipolar” or “schizophrenia” as an excuse to act like jerks–even abusers.
On the other hand once you have such a label you are certain to be ostracized and emotionally abused (or worse) yourself.
We need to judge people on the content of their character–not psychiatric labels!
Who the fuck is “we”? Who the fuck is “they”? Such unfounded arrogance!
Sigh, all the trouble these psychiatric doctors take to deny the harmfullness of their pills. These substances are proven toxics, see for example Zyprexa (olanzapine) – https://echa.europa.eu/substance-information/-/substanceinfo/100.125.320 .
So if these are toxic substances and submitting them to a patient or writing prescriptions for them is a crime to do, why is there still debate on whether is would heal people or prevent relapse or whatever ?? It’s is torture to use them, and those who use them are criminals that should be prosecuted.
It is not about the harmfullness, not about the effectiveness, it’s is about that it is criminal to admister a toxic to a patient.
I knew this mental hospital employee who was charged with the task of running groups for patients who didn’t want to leave the hospital despite anything and everything that occurred within the place. I don’t think mental hospitals ever were, in any literal sense, asylums. There is something to the claim that there is a lot wrong with institutionalization.
The drugs are harmful, but within the context of the hospital, a patient hasn’t the liberty to reject them, at least, not in the hospitals where I was confined. The thing is, there are people on the same drugs that have never been confined to a hospital ward, and they stay on them. People take these drugs, in some instances, because they fear for their sanity if they didn’t. Of course, there are others, such as myself, who would fear for our sanity if we did.
I have been relatively lucky. Despite multiple hospitalizations, I never got stuck for a year or more in the hospital. I dread to think of what might have transpired if I had. I have seen people devastated by such an experience to the extent that they were unable to recover their composure. I’d like to think I had more strength than that, but knowing the strength of psych drugs, I’m not sure my own would hold up so well.
I think that institutionalization and drug dependency are both problems. They also exist to different degrees in different people. For example, I’m familiar with people who have rejected the institution, yet are still left struggling with chemical dependency or residual withdrawal effects.
Moreover, your placebo argument didn’t make sense. Even if a drug doesn’t have antidepressant effects for a person it is still capable of changing their brain. I’ll use a vivid example to make it clear to you how a ineffective drug can still do bad things with or without psychiatry: Imagine that your life is painful so you begin drinking to drown your sorrows. The alcohol ends up not helping your mood in the long run because alcohol is actually ‘depressogenic’. However after using it everyday for 10 years, you now try to quit. What a surprise, you end up with awful withdrawal without ever stepping into the system!
Denying the existance of this part of people’s journey to freedom is mean. I agree with your point though about the harm of helplessness. Perhaps we just need to make it clear to everyone that withdrawal isn’t permanent, because people can move on, and because hope is so important.
we think we know about mental suffering…
but we just don’t know very much…
The only way to prove your hypothesis would be to take psychotropics off the market and then monitor the long term effects. And see how much “learned helplessness” adds to the equation.
But unfortunately another factor would have to be taken out. The brain damage already caused by the toxins or drugs prescribed. You’d literally have to wait till everyone died who took psychotropics since 1 out of 5 have taken something in their lifetime.
This theory of yours would be extremely hard to quantify.
The first compliance ritual ,the forced vaccinations at birth , monkey’s blood, formaldehyde, plus heavy metal compounds straight into the bloodstream -then more of the same on going until as many as 72 or so “vitally necessary” peutrafications are forced into the bloodstream. Then we have heavy metal mercury dentistry installing the second deadliest substance on the periodic table as amalgams in close proximity to the brain . Then there’s a good chance of getting beat up or raped by a family member or a “friendly stranger”. In a weakened state ,here comes psychiatry to take full advantage of their perceived opportunity to turn you into a lifetime compliant slave to pharmaceutical poisons and/or electrical hell and/or psychological brainwashing taking away from you every ally you might have left or any you may find in the future . We may know more than we want to. Certainly we know by now, there are guilds whose members can impose pseudo scientific procedures any way they choose on anyone they pick out , all sanctioned by a corrupt government they are part of. Don’t trust these mainstream guild member’s ,they are brainwashed themselves, outsmart them , your future does not include them , learn what you have to, elsewhere , you can overcome. I’m just one person that is living proof it can be done.
I have always been a strong-headed and strong-willed person with my very own and very unique perspective on life. I was convinced, that nothing but myself could influence how I thought and what I felt. But after having been drugged up with antipsychotics, to my dismay and utter amazement, I found out that I was no longer in control over my innermost being. Yes, the institutionalization did also have a crashing effect, but I was in hospital for about five weeks only. And I could have coped with that experience, even with the blatant lies about my ‘brain disease’, the humiliation, the paternalistically treatment, etc., and go on with my life. But the drugs brought me down on my knees because to my horror I experienced myself as internally crippled and paralysed. It is hard to describe to anybody who has not experienced the effect of these drugs themselves for a longer period. Its not only about being tired and sedated. They take away your innermost self and kick you out of your center. Its an assault on your soul. And the tragical thing is that it is incredibly difficult to find your way back to that core being of yourself even long after stopping the drugs. This description may seem exaggerated but for me it is the truth about what it felt to me. And I only ever took antipsychotics for four/five months. Never would I have thought possible that a pill could so easily wipe out the sense of what it means to be ‘me’… Although I never quite believed the biological explanation of my psychosis (which happened after a specific traumatic event) I struggled hard to escape psychiatry and its way of thinking. The drugs make you weak, incredible defenseless and vulnerable. You can no longer repulse things that others force on you. Your internal being lies open and is cracked. Therefore, allthough I understand your train of thought and feel that you mean well and possibly want to strengthen the patient side, I feel the need to tell you, that with this kind of drugs being strong willed and centered is not enough. They are desigend to overwhelm you and make you compliant. I have practised meditation since quite some time, I knew before psychosis and now know again, how to clear my mind and balance my emotiinal state. But it didn’t help me nor did it prepare me for the encounter with antipsychotics…
Thank you for stating this so eloquently.
I think people really believe that our nature as human beings has changed as our mode of living has changed. People have become more separated from family, more mobile, we have lost a little with each new generation, of the things which really we evolved or were designed into as our natural habitat. We need to be in our clan, tribe, community, and have a sense of common identity. Now, people get evaluated, classified, sorted, and treated like objects. We are taught to compete in just about everything. If we put an animal out of its normal habitat, it’s considered cruel. But we allow ourselves to be put out of our natural habitat, and we call it progress.
The powerful deleterious effects of psychotropic drugs have been documented in pharmaceutical company supported clinical trials (though many of these trials have undoubtedly underestimated the harms). And adverse effects can linger long after an individual discontinues a drug. It’s simply not true that stopping a medicine will necessarily stop the harm it causes. People who have been harmed by drugs are indeed victims. Because a drug causes a chemical effect on the brain and body does not mean the chemical imbalance theory of mental illness is correct. That is a logical fallacy. A drug could have no biological benefits and still have biological adverse effects, as ALL drugs do. You minimize this problem by claiming people can overcome the harms caused by medication by changing their attitude. The institutional effects you mention may be real, but that is a separate issue.
I am wondering if the writer is trying to dispute the harmful effects that are clearly stated in a package insert for any psychotropic drug. These drugs are made to and meant to target and effect the brain. That is the actual theorized purpose of them. There is plenty of research about the harmful effects. A good starting point would be to look at clinical trials and then maybe the FDA database of harmful effects reported. Also, keep in mind that many people do not actually report the effects of the drugs. Actual research and statistics about that can be found just as Robert Whitaker has done.
Perhaps you might want to look at the evidence because it sounds like your thoughts about those harmed by psychiatry are speaking out unnecessarily. I, personally, would like to see more of us conveying our stories so that attitudes like yours and from people with no lived-experience as being a psychiatric treatment receiver would see the real picture.
I will bluntly tell you that in my opinion your theory is incorrect. We do NOT “ institutionalize” ourselves. And I will inform you that many people are greatly harmed by psychotropic drugs. That is an actual fact and not theory.
Also, I wonder if the writer could point out the studies that will back the thought about the term “genetically-impaired brains”. Has new scientific information been found that validates any kind of genetic link? Please correct me if I am wrong but I am certain that is an unproven theory. My opinion is that trying to find (unsuccessfully) some kind of genetic link to what psychiatry calls “mental illness” is being done to provide some kind of validation for the practice of psychiatry. There is no scientific way to validate it. And the acts committed by psychiatry are, in my thoughts, nothing less than criminal.
I can speak directly about being “zombified” by the drugs forced on me and I will point out that I did not ask for it. I was involuntarily drugged and I was greatly harmed by the drugs.
I am very capable of following a logical thought process and therefore I was unable to follow your conclusions hence, these comments are given by “my authority” on the topic.
The fact that the DSM is called a medical model approach does not actually make that statement true. If it is a medical model as stated please tell me where the actual science of medicine is contained in that book. I would like the APA or anyone that agrees to explain and scientifically support the claim that “mental Illness” (not my term) is the same as having diabetes.
Perhaps the DSM could include statistics about actual death rates about FDA approved psychiatric drugs. Maybe not, it seems that there is no focus on the fact that real people have been killed by these drugs yet they are still allowed to be marketed. The profit from the drugs seems more important than actual real lives that have been lost to them. One or two lives don’t matter in the whole scheme of things? That seems to be the general attitude if even thought about by anyone.
Where do I cast MY vote to discard the DSM? I would like to see that done because there is no biological basis for it in the first place. There is no actual proof to the theory that exists and because of the DSM much harm is done to people. That statement is a fact and not theory.
I apologize for saying this but because of trying to follow your theory about “institutionalization” I have determined that you might want to consider trying to strengthen the left hemisphere in your brain before making any further suppositions. Maybe a drug cocktail could help with that. The possibilities of combinations of the drugs in it are infinite. If you can think after being on the cocktail of drugs for a time then write about your perspective about that experience.
I wonder who and how it has been determined that you have any kind of authority about this topic or why anything should be considered “your authority”. You actually have no authority whatsoever so please do not think that you do. People with lived experience of being psychiatrically drugged are the ones that have the authority on this subject matter and are more qualified to speak about the problems that exist and to talk about our own unique circumstances and are apt to accurately present things. Please do not continue to define us with any further cookie- cutter descriptions or opinions.
Thank you for your feedback, which certainly made me think. I want to clarify four things: When I said “my authority”, I didn’t mean that to be taken literally; I was being sarcastic, hence the italics. I am totally against people trusting any authorities, especially psychiatrists, which was the main point of my article. When you mentioned my referencing “genetically-impaired brains”, did you think I believe this lie? That’s the total opposite of what I believe, as I discussed in prior blogs. And this article was only about voluntary “outpatients”, not involuntarily-committed, forcefully-drugged ones. I can’t begin to imagine how permanently traumatizing/damaging such experiences would be, and am glad that many have discussed them here at MIA. Finally, of course I agree that psychiatry’s lobotomizing drugs are harmful; my focus here was on alternative explanations of why people who take any psych drug long-term, not just the zombifying ones, invariably deteriorate and have such trouble coming off them. I am sorry for offending you.
Your comment, “my focus here was on alternative explanations of why people who take any psych drug long-term, not just the zombifying ones, invariably deteriorate and have such trouble coming off them.” The reason why people stay on long-term is because they have been told by MDs that they need it. Also when people try getting off they have reactions to coming off that terrify them to get back on. MDs tell individuals you have a brain illness, a disease, and you need to take these “medications”. I have heard MDs tell their patients that “See you tried getting off and look what happened?” The message is “trust me, I know better than you”.
MDs and NPs are the one writing the scripts. Where is the medical professional responsibility knowing the dangerous effects of these drugs to just not prescribe? Why is there not more outrage now among medical professionals now that there is clear evidence that these drugs do nothing at best and certainly do more harm than good. Where are the health care ethics MDs are supposed to follow: beneficence, non maleficence, autonomy and justice?
I still keep a small private practice, because I love my clients and seeing them do well. I have a full-time job so I do not need my private practice to financially support myself so I charge what is affordable to my clients. I do not take away their power by telling them I know better. I work collaboratively. I speak openly to clients on psychiatric drugs and read off the side effects as the MD or NP that prescribe it did not thoroughly do so. I challenge their diagnoses when they come in saying “I am damaged, I have bipolar, I have ADHD, I am depressed, anxious, etc”. I speak openly about getting off these drugs as I have never seen any of my clients benefit from long-term use. Certainly in a crisis situation, a small dose has been helpful to them. I will not argue with them for this. But there is NO SKILL in a pill. I am honest about them and require that they do the work, i.e. look within, examine one’s history with family, friends, work, take a fearless look at their lives, read books, work on their careers, spirituality, stress management, exercise, family relationships, hobbies, express themselves through journaling, blogging, etc. and discuss what they want from their lives and what is meaning to them. My clients are healthy people and I see them as that. Individuals like me struggling in a world that has ups and downs. I am in it with them but my job is to get them to not need me but to find other ways to view the world and their relationships. I want my clients to be happy and fulfilled. Why else would I do this work? Healing and health is the motive. But why do psychiatrists do their work? I am still wondering despite fearfully knowing the answer. How do psychiatrists justify their high fees and the disastrous results?
Lawrence, I wonder where you would suggest I get help dealing with the trauma that I may have that you can’t imagine.
Also, maybe a pharmaceutical company or perhaps the government would fund a study that could help you find the answer you seek. (Sorry about the sarcasm.)
This was the first blog post I have read by you and most likely the last.
I apologize, I keep thinking I am through commenting here and obviously I am not.
You said that you are “totally against people trusting any authorities, especially psychiatrists, which was the main point of my article.”
I am somewhat perplexed by this statement. Unless your Bio is incorrect, It says that you ARE a psychiatrist. I wonder if that statement also includes yourself.
Aside from that, if we are not to trust people with authority and the so-called experts who in this hell that life can be can people trust. Are there no ethical standards left in this world? What about the commitments and vows to “first do no harm”? (Yes, I know that statement has been made frequently.) I wonder why there is defiance of that. It is so plainly clear that psychiatry does not believe in the hypocritical, oops, I meant Hippocratic oath. I wonder if what the namesame of the oath believed in is even known by physicians of any kind; it certainly is not practiced.
Sorry to go on and on. I am sick and tired from it all. Very literally.
Here’s a tidbit of wisdom we can all contemplate from William Osler (one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital):
“One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.”
we don’t know very much…
We certainly know enough! We don’t have to know everything but we now know enough to make some fairly good decisions for ourselves. We will never know everything there is to know but we now know enough.
Too much writing here. Maybe I’m missing something because I admit skimming but I would say that both drugs AND institutionally-bred dependency can have extremely deleterious effects. Is the main argument about which of these is worse, or whether it’s one and not the other?
Kind of a waste of time. IF I beat a guy senseless with a baseball bat AND cause his body temp to rise above 105 degrees for 24 hours, then let him go, it’s a safe bet he will be brain damaged.
Which hurt him more, multiple blows to his cranium or elevated body temp? Who cares!
Thanks, Lawrence, for article and those who responded. “Learned helplessness” is certainly a valid phenomenon. I saw it in the adult units in the state hospital as well as in group homes for those with “severe and persistent mental illness”. This occurs because of the philosophy of these places. I saw the cause as paternalism and a sense that these individuals had permanent disabilities and no chance of being functional human beings. When you have low expectations and that is what you get. Being a “good patient” also meant doing what the staff wanted, i.e. go to groups, take medication and do not cause any disruption to make the staffs’ jobs more difficult.
I would say that this article puts too much blame on the victims. MDs are in a position of power and trust in this society. Many seem to enjoy their status and power position and love the dependency that others transfer on them. Psychiatry truly has taken advantage of those most vulnerable in society: the poor and traumatized. They have lost any trust society placed on them.
Freud certainly was a great intellectual of his day, and I enjoyed reading some of his work, “Civilization and Its Discontent” was my favorite which I remember reading first in theology class in college. Psychoanalysts are always interesting but psychoanalysis is more for the white upper classes and misses race and socioeconomic issues. Freud was obviously wrong about sexual abuse and women. It is 2018 and women fortunately have gotten more social, economic and political power than in Freud’s day. We no longer have to have “penis envy”.
Actually, penis envy is very real. It happens when a man and a woman are out hiking in 38 degree weather and they have to take a leak.
Think about it…
Thanks, Steve, for the laugh. Needing it today!
It’s not real for me guys!
We (ΝΥΞ) try to take value-laden language like “bad”, “ill” “sick” and “diseased” out of our understanding of our own experiences.
We are not our brain.
We /have/ a brain.
It’s the only brain we have and the only one we’ll ever have. Because it is the way it is, our brain is very sensitive to psycho-social stimuli and (most often) reacts in ways we do not always enjoy and can make the life we wish to live difficult to attain.
We’re plural because this is the way our brain developed as a child, and we, ourselves, developed as a plural sisterhood as a response to the trauma of having a brain such as ours.
Even with all of our safeguards and defense mechanisms, we are still not able to fully control how our brain reacts to things beyond those reactions we deem desirable.
There are tools available that can help us in more effectively controlling for the ways in which our brain responds to psycho-social stimuli.
These tools work with our brain at a biological level; a level that we are not well-equipped to address in purely psycho-social ways.
These tools help stabilize the neuro-electric flux in our brain that keep us from reaching our full potential as individuals and as a plural sisterhood.
These tools happen to come in pill-form and we deem the risks associated with them as worth taking.
These pills are not safe, but then again nothing truly is.
The only thing that has proven to be just as, if not more, effective at keeping us in our Reality is self-injury.
We see the available psycho-active medicines as a preferable alternative to SI.
Brain drugs will not solve the psycho-social stressors which we face. They will only work in reducing the neurologically-based challenges we face when attempting to resolve said stressors.
To us, these drugs are a means to an end.
Do we wish we did not have to use them?
But because we have the brain we have, they help us get by and live the lives we wish to live.
-Liberty, Serenity & Mercy
In other words: we’re the only people we know who use brain drugs in order to hear voices (our own and each other’s), not silence them.
We’ve taken issue with the author in the past for being too black-and-white, all-or-nothing in his characterization of his critics.
We don’t kowtow to psychiatry or it’s practitioners.
We don’t see ourselves as helpless victims.
And we certainly don’t use medication as if it were some kind of “cure” for what we experience as neurodivergent people.
Is there nothing to be said for self-/selves-determination?
More with the “neurodivergence,” a term with no clear definition. Anyway,
There are tools available that can help us in more effectively controlling for the ways in which our brain responds to psycho-social stimuli.
Psych drugs, you mean? What do these have with self-determination, other than being one of the many harmful practices one has a right to engage in if he/she chooses? Perhaps sedation has legitimate medical functions in a truly medical situation such as organic brain dysfunction, but this is not a psychiatric matter.
I think our movement…if we have one…has started to examine the drugs very closely and turn its focus on drugs more than it did before. Of course this needs to happen, but there are consequences. Was it okay to take us out of the workforce? Okay to lock us up in the name of treatment, or okay to put us in housing where we never interacted with anyone but other mental patients? Was it okay to put us in a new fake world where we learned that some people were “staff” and others were “patients” and never the two shall mix, a black-and-white scenario that taught us to think like that, black and white, now a new mental illness for which we shall be soon blamed forever?
That was institutionalization. We learned that “staff” were the authorities. We learned that they knew everything. We learned to go crying to them whenever we had the tiniest problem. We learned that we were patients who couldn’t do a darned thing for ourselves. But the handy staff did it all for us. They drove us to appointments, found “providers” for us, called us to remind us of appointments when we really could remember anyway, brought us our drugs and reminded us to take them when we were perfectly capable of remembering, and even read aloud to us stuff we could read ourselves. We got “help” playing children’s games. We were handed stuffed animals and told to role-play, encouraged to carry stuffed animals around in public and encouraged to talk baby-talk. We were encouraged to bawl like little kids and then, told we needed “therapy” because we had cried.
Therapeutic groups were charged to Medicare by the head, sometimes over 50 dollars a head. Sometimes this consisted of watching a filmstrip or video and then, several minutes of discussion afterward. One staff would be in the room, a “staff” who often did not even have a college education. It wasn’t necessary. Staff were called “smart” by default, because they were staff and because they had rights and because they had keys to the unit. We patients usually had far more college education than the staff running the group, but we were too polite or too drugged to say so.
I rarely got through a hospitalization without enduring a game of Bingo. We had to be supervised for these Bingo games because we were considered dangerous. The Bingo board was generally oversized, which baffled me because very few of us, if any, were vision-impaired. The instructions for playing were over-simplified, told to us as if we could not understand or as if the game was so complex that our defective brains couldn’t possibly comprehend it.
Some of the groups were worksheet-type groups. This of course made it easy for the junior staff that had no clue how to run a group. All these staff had to do was read the worksheet as a group, alternating, and then, have the patients fill it out. I personally found reading the worksheet aloud insulting since most of us did not need a read-aloud. I knew that the read-aloud time was only filler for the staff, who didn’t know what else to do with the group time. They needed to claim all this was therapy, after all.
There came times during my patienthood that I became insulted by the selection of groups available to me. So I complained in various ways. “The groups are insulting.” “The groups are beneath my educational and maturity level.” “The groups have no relevance to real life outside the institution.”
What happened? I was told, “You clearly cannot handle the groups and therefore, need to stay longer.” “You cannot cope with the groups. They make you too anxious.” “The groups are too challenging for you.” “You are paranoid.”
My favorite remark was the following: “You are incapable of sitting in a room full of people.” This was told to me by John Gunderson. This one cracks me up and I wish I had tape-recorded it, because I believe this remark alone reflects the entirely of psychiatry’s incompetence.
These days, I compete in public speaking contests, have no stage fright, and plan to compete more in the coming months and years. I get a lot of compliments, too. I love to speak in front of an audience and I do so whenever I get a chance.
I’ve been talking about institutionalization for ages in my blog: http://juliemadblogger.com if anyone wants to come over and have a look.
Your experience with groups in the “hospital” is almost exactly like mine. I was assigned to groups, with no participation from me as to which groups I thought might be beneficial to me. No consultation, I was just assigned because the staff and the psychiatrist knew more about me and my own life than I obviously did! So, I told the psychiatrist that I’d go to each group one time to see what each was like. If, at the end of that one time I believed that I could do a better job leading the group than the person leading the group then I would not attend said group again. I didn’t get to leave the unit because you had to attend 80% of your assigned groups to be able to go to “treatment mall”. Groups were even worse in the private “hospital” where I was held before being sent to the state “hospital”. Staff group leaders didn’t know much of anything and they didn’t really care that they didn’t know anything. After all, they were staff.
The two groups I did attend I was not assigned to. One was a Peer Recovery group and one was Anger Management. I attended the Recovery group because the person leading it was a former “patient” and had some interesting insights on everything. She also let us function as a real group. I went to the Anger Management group because the woman leading it was wonderful. She was perhaps the best group leader I’ve ever experienced and her group often had twenty to twenty-five people in it, most of who were not assigned. People attended because she was wonderful and affirmed our humanity and dignity. I went to observe how she worked with people.
Stephen – In the 1970s, everything was groups, groups, groups. I was the `therapist’ for these groups, thrown in at the deep end, often with little knowledge of the members of the group, why they were there or what they thought about the whole process. As a rookie, I’d read a lot of the theory, but because of other experiences I would use the groups to basically `meet and greet’. I had a slightly different orientation from my fellow `therapists’, I didn’t see any real difference between my `patients’ and myself, and they knew that. I don’t know if I ever did any good, but I hope I didn’t do too much harm. THEN
30 years later, I found myself a member of groups. The experience was extraordinary. Almost without exception the `therapist’, usually a psychologist, ran these as if they were following a list of instructions from a manual. They had little control, frequently allowed people to become very distressed, and didn’t have a clue how to disarm situations and keep the group members safe, a cardinal rule. At first, disgusted by their incompetence, I abdicated and didn’t go, but since there was nothing else to do in these places, I started going again. I often took over if things got stressful, and felt I was rescuing the `therapist’ more often that the `patients’.
I know it’s fatal to state the old person’s mantra, “It was better in the olden days” as one looks through misty lens at the past, but really, it sometimes seems to me that the old `loony bins’ were, in many ways, better places to be than the modern psychiatric facilities.
Dee, my experience likewise. I think due to budgetary concerns the “groups” got considerably worse after the early 80’s. The therapists were not very well trained, if at all, after that. They started those “worksheet”-style groups that pretty much anyone who had as much as a junior high school education could lead. The worksheets were ready-made groups and I recall seeing the group leaders shuffling through the worksheets and saying, “Which one this time?” “Did they do this one last time?” “Shall I do this worksheet, or that one?” “Will they know if I do this one again?” “Shall I just play music and have them do ‘relaxation’? They like that, right?”
I always knew when these programs got paid by the head, because we either had to sign a paper saying we’d attended, and we were pushed into going (so they’d get paid more), or, someone would stand outside and write down who had shown up. Medicare paid for each of us. I cannot believe playing music for us was a group.
Not only that, well-meaning friends of mine would call me, back when I did, in fact, have friends that called, and they’d say, “Oh, how are the therapy groups, are they helping you get better?” I didn’t know what to say to that. I tried to explain, but so often the staff were near the phones. Once I recall I tried to explain to a friend, tried to say, “It’s not really therapy and all they do is–” and I tried to hold back tears, but the staff member stopped me, interrupted my phone call and insisted I get off the phone immediately. They never wanted anyone revealing what a shithole the place was.
My group experiences were also insulting and degrading. I began having nightmares that I was forced to attend 2nd grade as a woman in her 30’s or 40’s. I would ask the teacher when I would be allowed to graduate; she would tell me I was too dumb to ever get out.
Before I kissed the Crazy Making System good bye I started having dreams of escaping this dystopian 2nd grade setting.
I was too unruly, hyper-sensitive, and weird as a kid. So I had to attend an SBD school for developmentally delayed kids. BAD IDEA! I first got depressed in the second grade–hated that school! I got yelled at for reading too much and talking about things the others couldn’t understand.
My IQ is above average, btw. Even on drugs it was. Being forced to watch Despicable Me, The Smurfs, and play Ring Around the Rosie in public (traffic passed by so everyone could see us acting like morons) sounds funny. But it was very humiliating. I think that’s what Day Treatment is about. Breaking spirits and public degradation.
So maybe clients who deteriorate over time aren’t really hopelessly, permanently brain-disabled.
This is what seems to upset some people — i.e. the belief that all is not lost as a result of previous drug use. Dr. K is apparently being pummeled for encouraging hope and suggesting that the body/brain is capable of healing in time.
Drugging is one aspect of institutionalization, but even without drugs it is a destructive force. The two certainly work together to make matters even worse. Kelmenson may understate the true destructiveness of psych drugs. But I still don’t get the anger over his suggestion that people can overcome their circumstances.
You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.
You seem to be posting more & more of these short “put-downy” comments that don’t really communicate much except some sort of exasperation. What part of my comment do you reject, and why?
Exasperation is what I was going for there. I reject your framing of the situation as people being angry about Kelmenson’s suggestion that drug damage isn’t always permanent and that there is reason for hope.
Kelmenson may understate the true destructiveness of psych drugs.
No. He *is* understating the true destructiveness of psych drugs.
I think there certainly is a sensitivity that is very understandable about being “blamed” for getting “institutionalized” by psychiatry when I see the responsibility in the hands of the medical professionals for propagating dependence and profiting off it. I think Lawrence is an ethical person and I think it is unfair for him to hold the whole bag for psychiatry’s sins. He has written extensively about how wrong psychiatry has gone. People certainly can and do overcome their circumstances which should give hope that one has inner strength and their own innate ability instead of reliance on psychiatry and drugs that we know now are harmful. Reduce demand and psychiatry will go away.
Thank you. Maybe the response was partly due to my being somewhat unempathic/abrasive in this blog, and I’m sorry for that. But as Knowledgeispower pointed out, in other blogs I had already consistently held psychiatry to be largely responsible, and I still do. Thank you also, knowledgeispower. As far as the negative reaction to the idea that people can overcome their circumstances, perhaps this is an example of the typical negative reaction people have to different, non-socially accepted ideas. After all, not just psychiatrists, but even many of today’s “anti-psychiatrists” promote the opposite idea. But I’ve been around long enough to know there was a time when the idea that people were capable of healing was mainstream. And judging from your moniker, you probably also remember that time.
As far as the negative reaction to the idea that people can overcome their circumstances, perhaps this is an example of the typical negative reaction people have to different, non-socially accepted ideas.
This is completely out of touch. People are upset because this blog is a slap in the face to anyone who has had their body damaged by psych drugs.
So I shouldn’t search for the truth, and shouldn’t explore alternative explanations that offer people hope of turning their lives around and reaching their potential, out of concern that they’ll feel slapped in the face? I logically argued that deterioration from long-term tranquilizer use isn’t from direct/permanent brain cell damage, which is the socially-accepted idea that maybe you could question along with me. I showed how it’s better explained by a decline in abilities by the brain having been turned off for so many years, that people eventually forget the skills they once possessed due to disuse of them. I then provided evidence for actual brain atrophy being a result of such disuse, just like muscular atrophy resulting from their long-term disuse, rather than being directly from drugs “frying” them. Isn’t this a rational explanation for why only tranquilizers are associated with brain atrophy? Besides, there’s no evidence that psych drugs, despite putting people into stupors, directly kill brain cells as genuine neurotoxic chemicals do.
And a slap in the face isn’t always a bad thing – if while sleepwalking, someone is about to walk off the edge of a cliff, it can wake them up so they’ll realize they’re about to make a big mistake which they can choose to avoid.
I can say that my negative reaction was NOT to the idea that people can overcome their circumstances. My reaction was because your stated theory is that we “institutionalize” ourselves by seeking help.
I believe that people can heal but we also need support at times and not via drugging. To get talk therapy these days a person needs to be diagnosed so the code can be submitted for payment. It’s all about profit. The whole industry of it all.
I am wondering what is defined, in your mind, as “genuine neurotoxic chemicals”? I would be interested in comparing your examples to some of the psych drugs used in people.
Not only are children and the elderly drugged against their will. Animals are now being subjected to the psychiatric experimentation. It is an absolute abuse of power and it is criminal behavior that should be prosecuted!
I would spend more time detailing my thoughts about your comments but would like to spend my time aiding those with real solutions for people. and not theorizing that seekers of help are doing it to themselves.
Where in our society, in any way, are natural remedies, non-DSM trained supportive people and therapies available to people other than those who have money to pay out of pocket. The government and insurance companies dictate the “medicine” we are allowed to use. What choices exist for people needing help and support. I wonder if you think the majority of people taking any kind of psychiatric drug actually ask for it.
What needs to be mandated is TRUE informed consent and actual choice by having options available and paid for by the insurance companies that we are mandated to pay so that they will deny coverage and keep the money to invest for profit.
It is a deeply broken system and to me, it is not worth trying to reform or fight.
I am putting my energies with those who are creating change!
I am taking to heart the words or Buckminster Fuller:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Theorize all you want but I, a psychiatric survivor, do not need the blame you are trying to place on us.
“Us” includes people involuntarily and if you can call it this “voluntarily” psychiatrically drugged. The whole system is to blame and anyone that refers a person to a DSM-minded practitioner is included.
You may not have been speaking directly about my unique situation but you are referring to people who have been “trapped” by psychiatry and went through similar situations that I did because of it.
Just a note that because I am the kind of person who tends to “think outside of the box” psychiatry backed by the law felt that I lacked “insight into my illness.” That load of B.S. is what was used to try to conform me and brain-wash me for more years than I will ever be able to forget. (I won’t bother telling you about the effects of the drugs on me. you wouldn’t believe it anyway. ) They never had to prove any kind of “illness” . The subjectiveness and opinions of people who spent no time concerning themselves about any aspect of me and the DSM was all that it took to ruin my life. No science needed.
(BTW – I am not anywhere close to being any kind of criminal or violent person. Yet police felt it necessary to cuff me and take me away. Numerous times.)
Good luck with your theories.
How do you explain tardive dyskinesia if not toxicity? How do you explain the cognitive decline evidenced by people who take “antipsychotics” or benzodiazepines over extended periods of time, or the increase in autism diagnoses for children born to mothers taking antidepressants, or the neurological up- or down-regulation that has been shown for antipsychotics (up) and stimulants (down) and appears to also be happening for SSRIs? (Not to mention ECT, which clearly causes irreversible brain damage.) While we may not yet have demonstrated significant levels of cell death (but who is researching that question, I ask you?), we certainly have plenty of evidence of brain damage on a broad scale. How can you suggest that this kind of damage does not impede the recovery of even the most hard-working and dedicated citizens working their way out of psychiatry?
It is certain that dependency on the psychiatric system is encouraged at every turn and that institutionalization contributes significantly to challenges in recovery. But the question of brain damaging substances is 100% a different question. It is very possible to have both/and in this situation, and that’s what I think is happening.
Lawrence, with all due respect, I don’t think that anyone is really arguing with the idea that people can overcome their circumstances or that they are capable of healing. Yes. People are resilient. Yes. There are many people who have overcome adverse circumstances. There are even a few people who have managed to escape the foul clutches of psychiatry, and to heal from the traumatic abuse that was forced upon them, including neurotoxic drugging. I also don’t think that there has been a negative reaction to different, non-socially accepted ideas.
If I understand your arguments correctly, Lawrence, biological psychiatry profits from a culture in which learned helplessness is pervasive. Correct me if I am wrong. If I am interpreting your arguments correctly, it appears that you claim that biological psychiatry, or the medical model, is simply capitalizing on the passivity and weakness of the vulnerable in society, including those who are rendered vulnerable by psychotropic drugging and psychiatric labeling. If my understanding of your arguments is correct, there may be some truth to them, but it’s just one small fraction of the problem. The menace of psychiatry is much greater than the biological or medical model, and victims of psychiatry come from all walks of life, not only the docile and subservient, whether drugged or otherwise.
If I understand your arguments about drugs and so-called “chemical imbalances,” you seem to claim that there are “anti-psychiatrists” who promote the “chemical imbalance” hoax, not in its original form, but in a new, supposedly iatrogenic form. I’m not doubting that you have encountered such imposters, but I would be curious to know just who these supposed “anti-psychiatrists” are. They certainly don’t represent antipsychiatry properly understood.
Furthermore, a distinction needs to be made between the false assertion that a iatrogenic “chemical imbalance” in the brain constitutes a psychiatric disease, and the true statement that neurotoxic, psychotropic drugs inflict terrible harm on innocent individuals, harm that causes horrendous suffering, and sometimes even death. We can reject the false notion that there is some iatrogenic “chemical imbalance” that resembles the original “chemical imbalance” hoax while still recognizing the reality that many have been tortured, maimed, and even killed in the name of psychiatric “medicine” and “treatment.”
If I understand your arguments correctly, you oppose biological psychiatry and some cohort of self-proclaimed “anti-psychiatrists” because they facilitate the learned helplessness of vulnerable members of society, including those who have been drugged and led to believe that their psychiatric abuse and torture is indicative of some supposedly real psychiatric “disease.” Am I reading you right? If so, I applaud you for your opposition to biological psychiatry, and for correctly pointing out that even iatrogenic harm caused by drugs cannot be resolved under the purview of psychiatry.
However, it is simply untrue that biological psychiatry or fake “anti-psychiatrists” are the only culprits. Those who truly oppose psychiatry reject psychiatry as a whole. They don’t hold on to some fantasy that there is a way to reform or rethink psychiatry, neither do they entertain the illusion that iatrogenic harm produces psychiatric “disease.”
Are people capable of healing? Of course. Can people overcome their circumstances? Naturally. Frederick Douglass and a fortunate few escaped chattel slavery. Victor Frankl and other resilient souls survived the Holocaust. But does that mean that there was a good form of slavery or Naziism that ought to have been preserved? I don’t think so. Psychiatry, a pseudo-scientific system of slavery, like chattel slavery and Naziism, must be eliminated. Biological psychiatry is just one particularly pernicious manifestation of an entirely corrupt enterprise. The whole dragon of psychiatry must be slain. If we attempt to amputate a limb or to scrape off a few scales, there is always the danger that such appendages will grow back.
Great comments, Slaying the Dragon, right on target. Psychiatry really does need to be abolished. DSM has also to go. I still want to see a class action lawsuit and some legal action against paychiatry. I want to see some justice. Keep discrediting them though MIA writers and readers.
Thanks knowledgeispower. Hopefully Lawrence will respond with some clarifications.
Anybody who says: “Antidepressants induce mania and suicidality in kids”, as opposed to saying: “When kids have false hopes built up by being given fake happy pills and being told: ‘You don’t need to acknowledge/address the real sources of your unhappiness since there are none – it’s just a treatable brain disease!’, then this can lead to their getting themselves initially high, but the higher the high, the lower the crash, and people can get suicidal when crashing from a high whether it’s self-induced by placebo effect or from a genuine upper”, is pro- rather than anti-psychiatry.
The former statement supports the idea that unpleasant feelings and thoughts are the result of chemical processes, and that antidepressants can produce feelings/thoughts through their direct chemical effects. These are the two false tenets by which psychiatry has derived its power/dominance over society. They are the essence of its disease/medical model. Are there any modern so-called anti-psychiatrists that support the latter theory along with me? I don’t know of any. By supporting the former theory, they’ve joined forces with psychiatry, and you can’t beat something by joining it.
Thank you for your reply Lawrence. I appreciate it. I am trying very hard to understand, but I confess that this argument is becoming even more confusing. First of all, as I’m sure that you’re already aware, even the use of the term “antidepressant” indicates a pro-psychiatry position. Dr. Breggin’s use of the word “neurotoxins” is a more appropriate appellation for psychotropic drugs.
In reality, there is no such thing as an “antidepressant.” The word “antidepressant” is a euphemism for a neurotoxic, psychotropic (and what I like to call thanatophoric) drug. As I’m sure that you’re also already aware, the use of the term “mania” indicates a pro-psychiatry position.
But I’m still having difficulty understanding your point. The fact is that neurotoxic, psychotropic, thanatophoric drugs CAUSE a great deal of suffering and may provoke symptoms that lead to violence and even death. This is just a fact. How exactly this happens is a complex matter, but the simple truth is that these poisonous chemical compounds were DESIGNED, with the approval and backing of psychiatry, to do just that. Even though these drugs were DESIGNED to harm the human brain, they were also DESIGNED to do so while hiding behind the claim that such drugs are a type of “medication.” By this same reasoning we might believe that alcohol, nicotine, or cocaine are types of “medication.” Psychiatry is the driving force behind psychotropic drugging, and psychotropic drugging is one of the main mechanisms whereby innocent people are dragged into the web of psychiatric torture and abuse.
I understand your point that many people, including innocent children, are being told lies about these drugs. That is true. But the underlying assumption in your argument, if I understand it correctly, is that these kids have real problems, what psychiatry likes to call “mental illness,” that must be addressed in other ways, and not chemically. Did I understand you correctly? If so, I object to this characterization of the vast majority of the victims of psychiatry. Many victims of psychiatry begin as relatively healthy and competent human beings, who, after they are drugged, begin to experience a wide variety of terrible symptoms that are then interpreted as “mental illness.” Of course there are others who experience problems before encountering psychiatry, but psychiatry produces the vast majority of problems either through drugging or by convincing people that they are “mentally ill.” Escape is always possible, but as I mentioned above, it can be very difficult as well.
I agree with you 100% that all of this talk about so-called “brain disease” or “broken brains” is absolute nonsense. Psychiatry markets madness in many ways. It attempts to convince people that they have “broken brains” or “brain diseases” or “mental illnesses” that are incurable and that must be “treated” with drugs. Sadly, many fall prey to these deceptions.
If I understand you correctly, you claim that kids are given the false hope that drugs will cure their “broken brains,” and when the drugs fail to accomplish this, the same kids crash because of dashed expectations. This is not quite true, but close to the truth. It is close to the truth because the “broken brain” bit is a lie, and because psychotropic drugs don’t “cure” anything. But it is not quite true because psychotropic drugs inflict REAL damage on the human brain in ways that we have yet to fully understand. The reason why victims of psychiatry crash is not just because of dashed hopes or unrealized expectations. Psychotropic drugs CAUSE severe damage to the brain, and may even lead a victim of drugging to suicide or horrendous acts of violence. Dr. Breggin is actually right about this, although I agree with you that drug induced brain damage does not constitute a psychiatric “disease.”
If I have understood your argument correctly, you oppose biological psychiatry and the so-called medical model, not only in its original form, but as it applies to post-drug victims of psychiatry. The point that I believe that you need to clarify regards the effects of the drugs themselves. While it is true that there is no such thing as a “chemical imbalance” in the brain or a “broken brain,” it is also true that psychotropic drugs CAUSE terrible suffering that may manifest itself in a variety of ways, including unwanted thoughts and feelings. This should not be interpreted as “faulty wiring” or bad “brain chemistry,” but psychotropic drugs do act on the human brain in terrible ways that have yet to be fully understood.
I’m still not quite sure what you mean by your “latter theory,” or by “anti-psychiatry.” It would be a very pro-psychiatry position to claim that psychotropic drugs do not cause harm. I hope that is not your position, but I’m having difficulty discerning what you mean. Thank you in advance for your efforts to clarify your meaning.
Sorry, but saying that suicidal feelings can result from taking or withdrawing from drugs is not a “pro-psychiatry” position. If it were so, psychiatrists would be promoting this idea instead of going into apoplexy every time it’s brought up. It is not necessary to deny that substances can change feelings. I used to get drunk as a kid to overcome my shyness. And it worked! I was a lot less shy when drunk. I felt different and acted different. This is not news. Psychiatry is not based on the idea that substances change mood and behavior, which long predates it. Psychiatry is based on the idea that people can be “diagnosed” with a “brain disease” based on how they act and behave, absent any biochemical intervention, and that such “diagnoses” are caused by unproven brain malfunctions.
Denying that substances affect mood and behavior is just plain denying reality.
And you STILL have not explained to us how Tardive Dyskinesia is not a result of brain damage. I find it disrespectful to have avoided this question several times, which I believe Stephen Gilbert also put to you.
However, it is simply untrue that biological psychiatry or fake “anti-psychiatrists” are the only culprits.
Yeah, I keep wondering who these so-called “anti-psychiatrists” are. I hope you also agree that this false distinction between “biological” psychiatry and supposed other forms is unnecessary and confusing.
You admitted to just skim reading his blog. How about reading his ENTIRE blog before making ill informed comments that only encourage “blame the victim” political positions.
I have read it in its entirety since. My responses have been to people apparently believing that to suggest all hope is not lost is somehow oppressive. I will respond to some of the more subtle stuff at a later point.
My responses have been to people apparently believing that to suggest all hope is not lost is somehow oppressive.
Who said anything like that?
That’s how it comes across. Although it is certainly disturbing that Lawrence is challenging the idea of neurotoxicity itself.
I didn’t hear anyone denying this. I heard people objecting to being told they supported the “medical model” by insisting that brain damage from psych drug use is very real, above and beyond the institutionalization that Dr. K rightly identifies. He appears to be saying that damage from drug use is NOT a key factor and anyone that says it is would be supporting the “chemical imbalance theory.” This assertion is just plain wrong and needs to be challenged. It’s too bad, because the bulk of his essay makes a whole lot of sense. Breeding dependency is psychiatry’s stock in trade.
Have you changed your mind, Oldhead? Your comments above sounded different.
Nothing wrong with it if you have. 🙂
Oh. I reread the comments. Uprising was the one who really got angry.
I just wish we could, at the very least, get a refund for all the money many of us poured down the drain for years and years while thinking we were getting some kind of health or support “service,” only to discover later, experientially, that this is all a crock–and a dangerous, harmful, and individually and communally damaging one at that. The expense of it all is staggering.
Healing from psych drugs damage is rugged, complex, and takes some time, but it’s doable, in my experience and things can come back into their natural balance with appropriate attention and focus. And healing from the traumatic stressors of institutionalized social abuse (the blatant stigma, oppression, and a compromising of human rights and dignity that comes from systemic marginalization) is also incredibly hard personal growth and healing work, but I do believe it is possible to individuate from an abusive society, layer by layer; and again from my experience, that is a good healing journey to take, bringing clarity, relief, and ultimately, personal freedom.
However, healing from the financial strife of being vampired by a sorely misguided and even corrupt institution such as psychiatry sure seems to be, with terrible–horrifying!–results all over the place to prove it, is also a challenge that so many survivors face on a daily basis, while others are growing richer and richer in that very same power dynamic, and this is clearly the case, which is called “exploitation.” When justice is finally served, the economic poles should flip.
When justice is finally served, the economic poles should flip.
Or vice versa. (Or both.)
I think people are misreading this blog. I don’t see victim-blaming here. I see psychiatry-blaming and honestly, despite my differences with MIA editors I highly doubt they’d publish something that was damning of patients. Such writing won’t float here. Read it again. I believe Lawrence is right on the mark. Institutionalization causes dependency. Very basic. Very obvious. Very overlooked because it’s so obvious. He is not saying that psych takes advantage of people who are weak to begin with. He says PRECISELY what I say in my own personal blog outside of here (because MIA won’t touch my stuff) and I’ve been saying for years. Psych, particularly at the inpatient and “day treatment” level, consists of heavy-duty brainwashing that causes dependency, causes long-term reliance on “staff,” causes a person to defer to whatever the doctor says, causes a person to default to “patient mode,” and causes a person to assume without question that he/she is unable to work, incapable, and disabled for life. Is this the victim’s fault? NO! This is caused by the horror story called psychiatry. This should be a wake-up call, and not a reason to sit here and bash yet one more great article coming from MIA.
I haven’t misread a damned thing. I don’t think anybody here is saying that psychiatric brainwashing isn’t a problem. We can acknowledge that it is a problem without throwing all the people who have been damaged by psych drugs under the bus.
i mean don’t you guys get it? DON’T LOCK PEOPLE UP! That’s what this blog says. Locking people up harms them. That and nothing more. It’s the elephant in the room all-too often ignored by activists who insist on adding too many spices to the soup, too many arguments and complex statistical data no one can understand but the issue is in fact very basic. Why should people who have only asked for help be locked up? Put behind locked doors? Incarceration defies logic, yet taxpayers pay for these so-called “hospitals” and actually want more built.
Well, that is the most basic thing. I think what people got upset about was being accused of being biological determinists simply because they believe that drugs can alter one’s mood and behavior in negative ways. Other than that, I think it’s a fine blog, but I think that sentiment has been properly taken as an insult.
That being said, I believe the #1 issue we should pursue is the elimination of the psychiatric hold. Arresting people and locking them up is not “treatment” and should not be allowed to be called that. If people need to be arrested for threatening or harming people or otherwise violating their rights, it should be called arrest and jail, not “treatment.” If we can accomplish that, antipsychiatry will be so far ahead of the game as to almost have won.
To Steve, Oldhead, Julie and All Others Minimizing the “blame the victim” theme in this blog:
Reread the following quote from the blog:
“In seeking psychiatric treatment, clients transfer responsibility for dealing with life’s struggles to medical authorities….They thus commit to and get locked into lifelong dependence on psychiatry.”
“…CLIENTS TRANSFER RESPONSIBILITY…THEY THUS COMMIT TO ….LIFELONG DEPENDENCE ON PSYCHIATRY…”
This is a straight up “blame the victim” bullshit. There is no such thing as genuine or real “CONSENT TO TREATMENT” when people are sucked into, through false advertising and billion dollar PR campaigns, and/or coerced into psychiatry’s web of lies and oppressive forms of so-called “treatment.”
Of course, if I had a ONE TO ONE counseling relationship and/or friendship, with someone caught up in the system, yes, I would be challenging them to take control of their life and find ways to not get caught up in any forms of “learned helplessness.
But I would NEVER EVER make ANY broad blanket like public statements that put ANY AMOUNT of blame on the millions of victims of these oppressive institutions, like psychiatry, which both cause and perpetuate poverty and disability.
I can’t believe some of you can’t see the serious problems with this blog, in addition to its denial of specific forms of harm done by psychiatric drugging.
There has to be some difference in degree of victimhood between someone who has their freedom forcefully removed by involuntary commitment and forced drugging (or someone who goes to school and gets shot by someone with an AR15) on the one hand, and someone who voluntarily seeks medical “cures” for their life struggles and then voluntarily continues this path despite their life getting worse, on the other hand. And inversely proportionate to the degree of victimhood there must be some degree of responsibility/choice. Psychiatry is all about fooling people into thinking that they have no responsibility or free will, so that they will helplessly submit to it. So by your insisting that people don’t have any of these capabilities when in reality they do have some, you are being pro-psychiatry, and you are encouraging people to not challenge themselves and to not reach their potential. I am being anti-psychiatry by refuting psychiatry’s false premises, and by encouraging people to not give up on themselves. So how about switching over from psychiatry’s side to my side?
I think psychiatry itself is well aware of the harms it does. It is well aware of the harms of institutionalization, and well aware of the harms of the drugs it and pharma have created (even before the drugs are released, or they are certain suspect) but as soon as they do cause harm and anyone points out the obvious (such as patient death) they shift the responsibility of their crimes onto those they harmed. It works every time. It works even if the patient is alive. It’s called Mental Illness. They lock people up for that.
You said: “So by your insisting that people don’t have any of these capabilities when in reality they do have some, you are being pro-psychiatry…”
Stop putting your words in my mouth and/or creating “straw man” arguments to cover up a wrong position. Where have I EVER said people do not have the capabilities of “choice” and “responsibility?”
What the whole argument centers around here is: where do we place BLAME for these problems? You are making a strong case that the blame should be SHARED by the victims. Bullshit!
So I guess women who are raped should have known better than to have worn provocative cloths and/or drank too much alcohol, and/or been alone with the rapist. According to you, they must SHARE the blame – bullshit!
So I guess the millions of Jews should have refused to “willingly” get on the trains. They should have known better; they should have known better that the Nazis were up to no good. They should have put up more resistance, and therefore they must SHARE the blame for their ultimate demise – bullshit!
And Black people should know better than to show attitude towards cops, show up in high risk places, and/or display any behavior that might be suspicious in any way, and therefore they must SHARE the blame for being gunned down by the cops – bullshit!
People stuck in poverty could have made different choices in their life, and/or “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and therefore they must SHARE the blame for remaining in the bottom rungs of society – bullshit!
You sound like Bill Cosby (we know where he ended up) when he used to moralistically preach to other Black people about SHARING blame for their remaining stuck in poverty, on welfare, and having children without two parents etc., etc. – bullshit!
Again, in ONE TO ONE conversations with individuals in any of these particular situations we would most definitely help someone carefully sum up their choices and options in life, so they might do their best to avoid risky situations, danger, defeatist type mentalities etc.
But on a societal level, we are talking about institutional and systemic forms of violence. In these conversations and public positions we NEVER EVER place ANY blame on the oppressed. This only serves to reinforce the ideology and programs of the oppressor.
Lawrence, you are NOT being anti-psychiatry when you “blame the victims” of psychiatry by saying they must SHARE responsibility for their position as victims. This is bullshit!
I usually don’t use this strong form of language in my comments. But you have refused to be self-critical of your comments, and have doubled down on your arguments while deploying specious methods of debating such important issues.
I must say, I didn’t really notice that section of the blog. I agree 100% that psychiatric practitioners take advantage of social power to deceive and manipulate people into believing they are able to help, and that blaming their “patients” is blaming the victim. I agree also with your later comments that assigning responsibility is different than assigning blame. It is true that the vast majority of those engaged with psychiatry do so “willingly” and have the agency to make another choice, but the combination of our deification of doctors as “scientists” that near godhead, as well as the intentional misinformation provided by doctors, drug companies, and the psychiatric profession as a whole makes such agency extremely difficult to exercise. Not only are trusted doctors providing bad information and pressuring their patients to “take their meds,” our entire society has embraced this “solution” and there is now mounting social pressure from friends and family and even acquaintances to get with the program. We have seen the lengths to which psychiatry and the drug companies go do attack reputable physicians and clinicians and to deny people with personal experience who critique the psychiatric model with hard data from psychiatry’s own research arm. It is difficult to get one’s head around the full pressure that is put on untrained individuals without our level of knowledge and advocacy skills to simply knuckle under and accept the doctors’ advice uncritically, or the attacks they receive if they decide not to take such advice.
So you are absolutely right, Richard, and I apologize for not supporting you fully. Clients can NEVER be responsible for the decisions of the profession to manipulate and pressure them into complying with their misguided or downright nefarious “advice.” Thanks for clarifying the issue for us all!
Thanks so much for that comment. I appreciate all of your critical thinking skills when deconstructing the Medical Model. I also appreciate your willingness to be self-critical when you miss a point or misinterpret someone’s comment.
When will Lawrence be self-critical and admit that he was promoting a theme of “blame the victim” in part of his blog?
He’s having a hard enough time admitting that psychiatric drugs actually can damage the brain. I doubt the victim blaming piece will be resolvable. But we’ll see.
I am pretty sure he is saying that we “institutionalize” ourselves by getting treated by psychiatry. Not necessarily from being put into a physical institution.
I did, for a long time, feel like kicking myself for believing the lies. I felt like a fool. I felt embarrassed that I had been duped. I felt jealous of the younger survivors who got out so much sooner than I did. I felt like a fool for letting them walk all over me.
Now, though, I know that each of us was in different circumstances, that some are more easily able to walk out than others. I no longer ask myself why I stayed in. I know why. I know I stayed in year after year hoping that “the right one” would show up who could cure my eating disorder (which they apparently did not know I had!). “Next year, they’ll figure it out…” I said that to myself, over and over. “This admission will be the one.” “This doctor knows, not like the others.” “This will be the pill that stops the binge eating.” Little did I know, they weren’t trying to cure my ED, they were trying to cure nonexistent bipolar and schiz I never had.
Somewhere in Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye keeps saying, “On the other hand…” and gives in to changing cultural demands, part of the plot. But one day, he blows his top and says, “There is no other hand!”
There was no other hand for me. Probably water deprivation was the last straw. I think people walk out when it gets to the point of there being no other hand left, and that point is not the same for everyone, just like we grow taller at different rates. While I sure wish it was sooner for me rather than 34 years down the line, I’m glad it happened and glad I’m still alive.
I don’t blame myself anymore. I ask how I can help others get out sooner, or not go in at all.
WTF. MIA just glitched on me and erased my whole post I was working on. So I’ll never finish this tonight, as this isn’t sound-bite material. Here’s a recap of what I had begun to say regarding some of the problematic issues here, as “coldly objective” as possible:
[Whitaker] showed that ‘mental illnesses’ aren’t chemically caused, so why suggest that their worsening when ‘treated’ is mainly chemically caused?
First of all there aren’t any “mental illnesses,” with or without quotes, only people’s unique experience. That said, it’s not a big leap to grasp that adding neurotoxicity to any problematic situation is going to make matters worse. So while one’s existing emotional suffering may indeed worsen, the addition of brain damage to the mix represents a new, different, and more serious problem, not just a more severe version of the original.
Why embrace and legitimize psychiatry’s medical model by joining its hunt for biological causes of human experiences?
Searching for biological causes to sociological/politically based problems is the province of psychiatry, and absurd for sure. However organic drug-induced neurological damage is biological, and would be properly the province of medicine (and a medical model) were there a real medical solution at hand.
Since mental illnesses are actually reactions to psychosocial issues, why not instead focus on psychosocial causes of their worsening?
I thought you didn’t accept the notion of “mental illnesses,” Lawrence. This back & forth stuff gets confusing. At any rate, why not focus on both the neurotoxic effects of psych drugs AND on the effects of institutionalization? One doesn’t negate the other; it’s not a competition.
BTW have “asylums”/”mental institutions” been eliminated while I wasn’t looking? One might think so from the talk of submitting to psychiatric care being “like” becoming an inmate in an “asylum.” For myself and many others no analogy is required. Plus the way this is phrased seems to ignore the element of coercion.
Anyway that’s all the energy I have for now, probably there will be a Part 2 & maybe Part 3, as it is a separate issue as to whether or not it is oppressive to suggest that all is not lost following neurotoxicity.
My blog questioned the assumption that tranquilizing drugs actually directly cause permanent neurological (brain) damage through toxicity. There has been no evidence that these drugs directly kill brain cells, which is the actual definition of neurotoxicity; you won’t see them in a list of neurotoxic chemicals. They may just turn the brain off each time they’re absorbed into the brain, in the same way that turning a light switch off prevents you from using a lamp, but doesn’t damage the lamp, which can later be turned back on and work just as well. But unlike a lamp, when people don’t use their brains for long periods due to institutionalization and chronic sedation, their skills become steadily lost from disuse. This can explain the atrophy often seen in their brain scans. This happens to most body parts not used for long periods – for example, muscles also atrophy from disuse.
But just as muscles can be re-strengthened by using them again, people can re-learn lost abilities by using their brains again. So the term “neurotoxic” has been stretched to include temporary sedation, which misleads people to assume that sedatives directly cause irreversible brain damage. This needlessly deters them from trying to get their brains back into shape, by wrongly implying it would be futile, and thus does the work of psychiatry for it by keeping people “lobotomized” even after they’ve stopped their sedatives.
It is of course important to remind people that they can heal. The brain has the lifelong ability to cope with various things through neuroplasticity. I think, the difficulty for persons concerned lies in the anger they feel when they find out how much effort it takes to compensate for the aftereffects of sedatives. For me, it was also not easy to let psychiatry behind and focus on recovery. I wanted the brain damage to be able to rub it in the face of all the advocates of the wrong treatment that I received. To get out of that learned helplessness I found it necessary, to face my angry feelings. But what I wanted to convey in my post above was that it can be quite difficult to activate the inhibited neurological pathways again (“how was I before treatment?”). You need to have a feeling for that what you want to acchieve. Some of the other patients I got to know through hospitalization got caught with psychiatry quite early in life. They told me that they envy me because I at least have memories of a healthy me. Your approach therefore has great value but I think it will be quite difficult for many to get their brains back in shape if they lack a feeling for what that means. And I am pretty sure it is necessary to first stress the damage done, then deal with the anger and only afterwards strive for a new healthy and capable self that can deal with emotional baggage. Also for some long-term patients they often do not even remember what it was that made them react with “symptoms of mental illness”. When someone chains you to a bed, leaving you unable to use your legs and then someone frees you and tells you, that your legs are still functionable, many will react bitter, because it hurts, it means a lot of work and you are preoccupied with the anger you feel against those who restrained you. “I will never walk again!” one may shout, therefore. I think, this is very understandable. And if the focus lies in healing the legs it might feel like the initial attackers are forgotten in the process. I am sorry about my English, but I hope I could convey what I mean.
Very well said. Your comment not only conveyed what I was trying to say much better than I was able to, but also conveyed the thoughts/feelings that go on in the mind of one who was institutionalized that make it so hard to recover from. I wish I had read it before writing my blog. I hope that many others read it, and that maybe you write your own blog about it, since it could help so many people.
Thank you, MIA with all its information has been a great help to regain a well-functioning brain. I probably will write a blog once I have progressed enough with my anger-management that I can write without all the heavy emotions about the kind of treatment I received resurfacing. With all your comments explaining your idea further I now get what you wanted to convey with this blog post. As a former patient I can tell you that at first glance it sounded a bit like ‘stop being a victim and get on your feet again!’. Which is not something that most can bear after having been degraded so heavily by psychiatry. I would prefer something like ‘yes, you are a victim, yes, this drugs did harm you, but still there is a way to get on your feets again because there is a high probability that it needn’t to be permanent damage. Still, this most likely will be a difficult process and you should get a lot of support because thats not something that is done easily or comes naturally. Don’t be ashamed if it takes time!’. But as you can see, your quite straight-forward approach did its job to steer people up. Thank you for that.
I don’t think there is much doubt, looking at animal studies, that neuroleptic use results in brain mass loss (i.e. damages the brain). I also have little doubt that long-term use of neuroleptics results in permanent brain damage. Of course, this is not a direction of research any drug company, nor drug company bought psychiatrist, would be interested in pursuing. The atrophy sets in because the drugs disconnect the lower, more instinctual brain, from the higher, more intellectual brain, and THAT can’t be a good thing. What if you’d “turned off” higher brain functioning for good!?
I wouldn’t argue that institutionalization isn’t a bad thing, nor that it isn’t damaging in it’s own right, however, I don’t think relationship and status damage is comparable with organ damage, not when the organ being damaged is what has been referred to as the executive organ in charge of functionality, or control central, of members of the human species.
Institutionalization is one thing based on a pernicious form of “medicalization”, or medical fraud, while drugging is another. With “medicalization” you treat a well person as if he or she were “sick”, however with drugging you can actually transform a literally healthy individual into a physically unwell invalid. Given this circumstance, I can’t really view these two aspects of the same phenomenon on an equal basis.
The animal studies confirm that long-term neuroleptic use results in brain mass loss, but not that it’s through direct damage to the brain. These are two different things. Brain mass loss is more easily explainable as disuse atrophy rather than direct killing of brain cells, since these drugs have not been found to directly kill brain cells. Animals in these studies probably lay around and do nothing for years due to heavy sedation; thus most parts of their bodies, including their brains, will of course atrophy from disuse over time. And this is hopeful since our bodies, including our brains, can be strengthened via the opposite – active use.
Indirect brain damage is still brain damage. I mean drugging may not do as much damage as a baseball bat, but damage is still there. The instigation (indirect damage) is that something is behind the damage besides the drug, and this instigation is something that I would find highly questionable. I certainly, for instance, wouldn’t think institutionalization as damaging to the brain as head trauma caused by hitting the head with a baseball bat, nor do I think it is as damaging as subjecting it to toxic chemical substances euphemistically thought of as “medicines”.
“Animals in these studies probably did nothing but lie around for years due to heavy sedation.”
Uh, don’t most lab animals lead sedentary, less enriching lives than their wild counterparts? Lab rats generally eat and lie around the cage all day when not being put through a maze or something.
Well, I do like Lawrence idea of overcoming brain-damage allthough I also think, he underestimates how difficult it is in reality and that there are potential physical limits to what degree of healing can be acchieved. Anyways, what I think he truly gets is the importance of your inner state. Humans do possess a lot of potential self-healing ability which in case of permanent damage is often rooted in creativity by finding new ways of accomplishing a specific functionality. As an example, if one has lost a limb they might find a way to compensate, say if you loose your hand that did the writing you could teach yourself to write with the other hand. Maybe there are similar ways to circumvent the original connection between lower and higher brain functions and form a new one? I find the Neurofeedback method quite intriguing. Still, this usually means a lot of work and time for practise as well as the necessaty of a positive plausible expectation (something you can fathom and believe, a model how you will be after reaching that goal) that gives you the motivation and provides the much needed strength.
Now, think about today’s situation in the realm of psychiatry. They take all these abilities away from you. Blocking Dopamine (motivation) is one thing but they also brainwash you into becoming helpless and disabled. As for me, I was told countless times to stop working in my field (IT) because its too stressfull and demands too much complex thinking – with my ‘mental condition’ its not suitable for me. Better do some easy part-time job where I do what somebody else tells me to do step by step. They also told me, I cannot trust my moods and should regularly check my thinking and better listen to the appraisels of others. I was diagnosed as schizoaffective by the way. That left me highly doubting myself and put me on the way of becoming a rather typical example of a ‘mentally ill person’. And it inhibited my emotional recovery because it prevented me from assessing in depth the traumatic situation that had caused my psychosis. I doubted the trauma because I was told that I couldn’t trust my senses and therefore I thought that I had wrongly interpreted the whole situation (partnership violence, which now after my partner sought out therapy he validated my experience, where the physical violence was always clear but the more subtle psychological controlling part was less apparent but even more damaging). Reminding myself of who I was before hospitalisation brought me back on the road to recovery. But it didn’t come easy and I was rehospitalised five times after my initial episode. Short time only and I quit the drugs every time as soon as I left the hospital. Now I am stable since two years and back working full-time while completing my second degree. I would certainly not be able to do this on drugs.
Why am I telling this personal story? Well, Lawrence is right that in addition to quitting the drugs one must also quitt being a victim – allthough one is a victim, I would add. The world as it is today doesn’t have much to offer for any victim in general. It only gives you pity and charity but that rarely equals true life quality. I know how bitter this is because to this day I wait for the warm and empathic embrace of people out there who get what I have been through. I long for the safe environment to lay down and rest, lick my wounds and receive all the time and other ressources I would need to regain my full strength. But it simply doesn’t happen that way (but hopefully some time in the future it will), as the current situation with psychiatry is, most people don’t only have to get on their feets on their own, they even have to find of what little strength they have left to fight psychiatry and their devastating message and escape it. So there you are, burdened with the original difficulties that prompted your mental illness symptoms for which you most likely still don’t have a solution, added by the devastating message of having a chronically malfunctioning brain, confused and overwhelmed by the symptoms itself, impaired and drowsy by the sedating drugs that they forced into your body, decoupled from your inner sense of being yourself, scared of police and medical personnel that will lock you up at the slightest hint you changed from their prescribed treatment on basis of your medical record, therefore scared of quitting your drugs and all-alone with any withdrawal-signs you experience once you do (which you have to hide from the outside world), carrying a heavy stigma because of your diagnosis that make people being highly sceptical and cautious of your person. By complying to be a victim, wether of a brain illness or the damaging result of the treatment, you will initially be endowed with what you crave so desperatly: a little bit of human attention and maybe even warmth. And you will even be allowed to voice a little bit of your angry and hurt feelings when you complain about the burden of carrying such a mean illness or having experienced damaging treatment. I know how tempting that is. Still, as Lawrence pointed out, such a victim-role will inhibit true recovery in the long-term. I am currently in the process myself to leave this role behind. What I have gone through is very unfair – and thats it. If I ever get compensated for that (which could be eg in the form of insight by one or two of those who subjected me to that kind of treatment I forcefully received) I will welcome it and it will give me a burst in healing, but I freed myself of being depended on it – which is not easy and I still struggle with it.
Now, as I said before in another post, I am still lucky because I got into the claws of psychiatry quite late and only short time, having already had many years of well-functioning. But for those who have no ‘healthy self’ that they remember it will be close to impossible to leave the victim-role without a huge amound of support and adaquate ressources, be it money for psychotherapy or any activities that support building their self-awareness or people who help and trust them gaining or regaining their autonomy in all areas of daily life. It is a lonely road because autonomy means leaving the pity and charity and it means you are prone to fail and fall back, where psychiatrist await you as living proof of biological caused chronic mental illness or where your bitter self full of anger and despairing hopelessness reawakens and you see yourself damaged for life. Society needs to pave a way to make it easier to leave these traps because for many its just not possible to leave by themselves. And that is also heavily influenced by outside factors, if you get alternative information, what kind of drugs and how many of them you receive, howmuch you depend on money like disability and so on…
To give you two examples of learned helplessness of friends I got to know from hospital:
One is a fifty year old mother whose children quitt any contact to her after her last psychosis. Though she is heavily zombified by Haldol she still feels sad about that situation. Her doctor told her to get ECT against her depression and told her, that it is very normal for bipolar people to be abandoned by their family because of their behaviour. How will this woman ever find the strength to free herself from her victim-role and face all the challenges I mentioned above after being so humiliated for and made so afraid of her symptoms that she will never risk lowering the dose?
The other is a forty year old male who was diagnosed with 17. He never got a regular job and never developed a truly adult personality. Everyone always treated him as a second-class disabled person. Independent thinking is seen as a sign of illness in him. Some weeks ago he went to a rehabilitation center after more or less sitting at home alone day and night. Of course he needed time to adapt to the new conditions, getting up early, being around many people, doing various activities all day long, etc. He therefore became tired after the first days and often went to his room early and simply was exhausted. His doctor immediatly wanted to add a drug for depression instead of just assessing the obvious causes of him being overwhelmed by all that sudden action. How should he ever learn to cope with his being and inner states if he is always just seen as the illness he has? He never learned about normal mood changes let alone how to cope with them other than chemically surpress them. Who would take the time to coach him out of his learned helplessness? Who will be there when he trips and falls over and needs support and motivation?
I think Lawrence raised a very important point in addressing this subject of deterioration independent of actual brain-damage allthough his wording was a bit unfortunate. Brains can recover maybe not fully but much of the declined life quality is also to be found in being stuck in the victim-role. But worse than this is victim-blaming! Therefore, it is so very difficult to talk about this topic. Its not the victim that wants to be a victim. He or she is a victim because somebody else or some situation or whatever put him or her in that role. Per definition it says that a victim had no choice. Whoever wants to help with that needs to help shape a way for the victim to get out of that dark hole. And if the victim seems to not want to come out then do not blame him or her, it just means, that he or she is still not able to. The trauma sits to deep still, it paralyses him or her, or he or she cannot believe that this way out is not just a trap leading to even more suffering…. It could be many things, why the victim remains in its helpless and dependent role and to give him or her a ‘healthy slap in the face’ must only be done with a lot of prethinking and special care.
Sorry for the long comment, it poured out of me somehow.
The atrophy sets in because the drugs disconnect the lower, more instinctual brain, from the higher, more intellectual brain, and THAT can’t be a good thing.
Interesting. Is that your own estimation or are you paraphrasing from another source?
Paraphrasing? This goes way back, OH. It’s not just my estimation or opinion.
“Q. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS HAPPENING?
A. Well, what exactly do these drugs do? They block basal ganglia activity. The prefrontal cortex doesn’t get the input it needs and is being shut down by drugs. That reduces the psychotic symptoms. It also causes the prefrontal cortex to slowly atrophy.”
A Conversation With Nancy C. Andreasen, THE NEW YORK TIMES, September 16, 2008
The effect produced by neuroleptic drugs before it came to be called a “chemical straitjacket”, or “chemical restraints”, was once referred to as a “chemical lobotomy”. What do you have when you cut away “higher brain functioning”? I imagine you could call that what a lobotomy, chemically or surgically achieved.
What about tardive dyskinesia?
What about the increased autism rates for kids of moms taking antidepressants? What about the brain shrinkage/expansion studies for people on antipsychotics/stimulants over time? What about the measurable cognitive decline in folks taking antipsychotics and/or benzos over time? What about the induction of Tourette’s Syndrome in kids taking stimulants? And those are just the ones that come to mind right off the top. What about those, Lawrence? Do these issues (especially brain shrinkage!) not speak to physiological harm done by these drugs?
I would also submit that admitting these things happen does not minimize or deny the impact of institutionalization as you describe. However, acknowledging these known facts is very, very different than the harebrained and totally unscientific proposals that things like “major depression” and “ADHD” are biological “diseases” resulting from “broken brains.”
It really IS possible to break someone’s brain. A crowbar to the head will do the trick, but electric shocks to the brain and mass screwing with neurochemicals will do it, too.
That I know of, Steve McCrea, they’ve proven the drug damage to brains in autopsies. I am saddened that people have to die to prove it. We may only suspect or guess brain damage and it may slowly still be happening undetected, as we lose small pieces of our lives. We might not be able to add figures in our heads anymore. We can’t do calculus but who cares? We lose at chess when we used to be able to beat a computer at it. We used to have 200 digits of Pi memorized and now…it is all gone. Or we had all the species of North American birds, even the extinct ones, memorized, and now, we cannot remember the meanings of simple vocabulary words. We could knit with our eyes closed. Now, nada. We cannot cry anymore. No one gives a shit. It didn’t matter, did it? It doesn’t. Years and years go by, but then we know for sure when a person is irreparably damaged as still living people, as TD, seizures, or dementia. And then it’s too late. AND STILL called mental illness. AND DRUGGED.
Ok. Finally we’re getting to the heart of the matter, and I can see more clearly now. Basically, Lawrence is simply mistaken in his assumptions about the effects, both short term and long term, of psychotropic drugs. Having never been drugged himself, he just doesn’t know what he is talking about. Of course it is true that people can and do recover from the damage that is inflicted by psychotropic drugs, but it is false that psychotropic drugs don’t cause damage. Psychotropic drugs cause severe damage to the human brain. These injuries can heal, but it is a much more difficult and painful process than simply turning on a lamp. The attempt to claim a status as an “antipsychiatrist” while blaming victims of psychotropic drugging for apathy or weak will is disingenuous at best.
Ding ding ding!
Perhaps he doesn’t want to acknowledge the damage he’s done prescribing those poisons calling themselves ‘medication’…
Just like all the other health care ‘professionals’ I’ve talked to regarding my iatrogenic damage…going on post all meds for 51 months now. Tell me, “Dr” , what do you know about gaba receptors, about their being ‘reabsorbed’ with the ongoing ‘therapy’ with the benzodiazepines, the assault from years of ‘trying to find the right combination’ for my alleged ‘bipolar’ (diagnosed at 46 years old…after antidepressants)…I’m wondering just how up on brain physiology the good doctor is…and all this ‘brain plasticity’ promotion…is that a REAL thing, or is it a trendy, pseudoscientific ‘ catch phrase…and then there’s KINDLING. Look it up, Lawrence…it’s happening to millions of us. Sorry I didn’t have a better option than to turn to psychiatry and drugs…with no counseling available to me at any time for my distress, unless of course I could pay the big bucks.
A lot of folks on the support websites say, “i wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy”…but I tell ya, when I’m not sleeping (again) night after night, year after year, I DO WISH it upon certain, select, “DOCTORS” who prescribed that shit to me, all the while telling me how I NEED it…for years at a time.
Lack of insight? Criminal damages? The loss of my once ‘gifted’ brain?
And then to have the denial about it all here on the pages of MiA…
i accused no one of apathy or weak will. I never said kids who experience sadness, which is 100% of kids (and adults), need therapy. And I never minimized the horrible short-term effects of neuroleptics, which clearly shut down people’s brains. I took a small dose of one during my training to see what was being given to “patients”, and tried to get the other trainees to also do it (they refused), and was basically unconscious for the next three days.
But I challenge the idea that the long-term deterioration of neuroleptic-“treated” people is from direct chemical injury/damage to brain cells. Not only is there no evidence for these drugs doing this (as true neurotoxins do), but there’s no need to consider it to explain why their abilities (and brains) deteriorate, since it’s already been proven that disuse atrophy, or “use it or lose it”, is a fact of human physiology. I could speak Spanish well after four years of high school classes, but haven’t used it much since, and now, many years later, I can no longer speak it. Does that mean my brain was damaged by chemicals? No, since other abilities which I continued to use were not lost/forgotten.
But someone who was basically unconscious due to neuroleptics for 30 years never had a chance to use any of their abilities, so all their abilities will of course become lost over time. Doesn’t that make sense? You’re willing to question so many myths which authorities proclaimed to be facts, so why not consider that the neurotoxic permanent brain damage claim, despite being promoted by most supposedly anti-psychiatry people, may also be a myth? And if it is a myth, then it’s serving the same oppressive function as the myth of mental illness.
Ok. Thanks for clarifying. This helps me to understand your arguments much better. What do you mean that neuroleptics shut down peoples’ brains? Could you please elaborate on what you mean by “shut down”? I’m sorry that you chose to ingest a psychotropic drug or two. Which drug did you test out? Have you ever tried polypharmacy… maybe 7 or 8 drugs at a time? I appreciate your attempt to empathize with those who were labeled as “mentally ill,” but three days of unconsciousness would seem like a pleasant dream compared to years of torture, abuse, drugging, involuntary incarceration, ostracism, and false diagnoses.
I’m still struggling to understand how you consider that neuroleptic-drugged people don’t suffer from long term damage to their brains. I wouldn’t necessarily call it “chemical” damage, because, like you said, that plays into the hands of psychiatry. But there is ample evidence that psychotropic, neurotoxic drugs damage the brain, both short term and long term. You can’t ingest these poisons without causing damage to the brain, just like you can’t be a heavy drinker or smoker without causing some damage to your brain and lungs. These are drugs, chemically similar to many street drugs, some like cocaine or speed.
Another problem with your argument is that many people who have been drugged are using their brains much more than the average person. Many doctors are on these drugs. Also, the brains of people who are drugged or who drug themselves are working over-time to compensate for the damage that is being done. Just because a person has been labeled as “mentally ill” and drugged doesn’t mean that he or she stops using his or her brain. In fact, it takes an intense amount of perseverance, concentration, effort and brain power just to withstand the terrible effects of the drugs, and even more so to withdraw and to heal from the damage that they cause. This is not conjecture. It’s scientific fact.
Porque quedaste de estudiar el español? Verguenza! I’m not sure what your Spanish example proves since you weren’t drugged while studying Spanish or thereafter. If you had been taking 5 or 6 psychotropic drugs at the time, I would be impressed if you could remember “Yo me llamo Lawrence” in Spanish. I’m reading Dante, Virgil, Plato, Tocqueville, and other authors now, but there was a time when I could barely read a sentence from a Dr. Seuss book, and it wasn’t because I had stopped trying. I had to drop out of school because the suffering became so intense. Does that mean my brain was damaged by chemicals? It depends on what you mean by damage, and what you mean by chemicals. Since these drugs are chemicals, and since they do cause damage, I might respond yes to that question. But that would not make me pro-psychiatry at all. Have I recovered? Yes, after 20 years of suffering that you can’t even begin to fathom.
“But someone who was basically unconscious due to neuroleptics for 30 years never had a chance to use any of their abilities, so all their abilities will of course become lost over time. Doesn’t that make sense?” I think that I see where you are coming from, but no, it doesn’t make sense. These drugs don’t just make people unconscious. I would venture to argue that most people who have been drugged and labeled as “mentally ill” still fight through the pain and try to live decent lives. They might be using more of their abilities than ever while their brains are saturated in neurotoxins. It’s something terrible to contemplate, even for those who imposed this kind of suffering on others without knowing it. They may loose some abilities for a time, maybe even a long time, but that is not due merely to lack of use but to the action of the drugs themselves. There is ample evidence that these neurotoxic, psychotropic drugs alter brain structure and functioning. I like to entertain the notion that since my brain was forced to bear an exceedingly heavy load of toxic chemicals for so long that it actually grew stronger in the process, with more neurons, dendrites, synapses, etc., which is one reason why I’m so smart. But then again, I receive frequent reminders, whether in the form of nightmares or other suffering, that the healing process is much longer and much more tedious than anyone who hasn’t experienced can possibly imagine.
“You’re willing to question so many myths which authorities proclaimed to be facts, so why not consider that the neurotoxic permanent brain damage claim, despite being promoted by most supposedly anti-psychiatry people, may also be a myth?”
I don’t just question the myths and hoaxes of psychiatry. I expose them and reject them. I’m afraid that I will have to do the same thing with the theory that you present, as an authority, because akathisia, tardive dyskinesia, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome are real. I wouldn’t necessarily argue that the brain damage is insuperable, but I guarantee you that it is real, and very difficult to overcome. When a person’s hair turns all white, they bloat up like a balloon, their hands shake uncontrollably, and they look like zombies… something is happening in their brains, and it isn’t pretty.
Of course I agree with you that psychiatry has no business trying to “heal” the people that it tortures and abuses, but the fact that neurotoxic, psychotropic drugs inflict terrible harm on the brains of innocent human beings cannot be wished away as just another psychiatric myth. There are too many people who stand as living, or dead, witness of this sad truth.
Ultimately, your argument that psychotropic, neurotoxic drugs don’t cause damage is very helpful to the cause of psychiatry, which is just one reason why those who oppose psychiatry must reject it.
How can you say this? Tardive Dyskinesia is an acknowledged outcome of long-term neuroleptic use, even among the most mainstream psychiatrists, and it is understood as damage to the dopamine system. Brain shrinkage from neuroleptic usage has been proven by psychiatry’s own minions in research labs. How can you say that there is no evidence of long-term neurological damage?
Well there are indeed self-righteous folks out there that claim you can heal and get very blameful and claim you didn’t “taper” right and if only you listen to some know-it-all young person who claims to know exactly what it’s like to be an older person…I gotta laugh. They are clueless and sometimes arrogant, too, and I am tired of hearing about how there’s some “right” and “wrong” way to taper. I honestly do not want any further lectures from someone 30 years younger than me about how to breathe, when to breathe in and out, how the fuck to cut a pill, how to buy a pill-splitter, when I was alive decades before they were and breathing just find before their egg and sperm ever met. I was in a nuthouse before they ever took a pill, well before Prozac was even invented. I begged for the stuff, too, fell for the hype just like we all did in there. For most of us, those capsules did not do a damned thing anyway, and the SSRI idea was abandoned early on. It did about as much as snapping an elastic band on your wrist. Nothing. Not for me. I felt it was over-advertised, overpriced junk. What a disappointment.
Steve and Dragonslayer:
The goal of this blog was to give hope to people. First psychiatry told them that they have permanently defective brain chemistry and hard-wiring, which make them incapable of managing their lives. Then they’re told this was a lie, and that in actuality their brains were fine before the drugging, but now the drugs have permanently damaged their brain chemicals and structure, suggesting once again that they’re incapable of managing their lives. So it’s the same learned hopelessness/helplessness message – that they should give up. Deja vu.
So I thought – if it was a myth the first time, maybe it’s a myth the second time too. Maybe the brain atrophy that develops isn’t from drugs toxicly/irreversibly killing off brain cells from which there can be no recovery. Maybe it’s the result of chronic disuse, since zombified/institutionalized people are largely blocked from using their brains and bodies for years. And if this is the true explanation, then recovery may be possible by stopping the brain-blocking drugs and exercising/rehabilitating one’s long-dormant brain/skills. So excuse me for going against the grain by trying to be positive.
There is a long history of blogs and comments on MiA that talk about recovery from psych drug damage. I’ve never seen such a message of recovery met with anything but a positive response. The only way that your blog is going against the grain here is in minimizing the dangers of the drugs.
“First psychiatry told them that they have permanently defective brain chemistry and hard-wiring, which make them incapable of managing their lives.” And we AGREE that this is nonsense.
“Then they’re told this was a lie, and that in actuality their brains were fine before the drugging, but now the drugs have permanently damaged their brain chemicals and structure, suggesting once again that they’re incapable of managing their lives.” Ok, who is making this claim? You’re putting two things together that don’t fit. The first part of the sentence is almost true, i.e. psychiatry disseminates lies to people to convince them that their brains are defective or that they have “mental illness.” But I’m not aware of many psychiatrists or pro-psychiatry people who claim that, in actuality, the brains of their victims were fine before drugging.
Also, a distinction needs to be made between the fact that psychotropic drugs CAUSE damage to the human brain, and the notion that people with damaged brains cannot recover. I’m not sure whose claims you are setting forth here. The truth is that even though psychotropic drugs are known to CAUSE damage to the brain, there is no reason to suppose that such damage is permanent or irreparable, although in many cases it might be.
You seem to claim that a person’s brain is not effected by psychotropic drugging. This is simply not true. Then in the same breath you claim that victims of psychotropic drugging experience “brain atrophy” from lack of use. You claim that zombified peoples’ brains atrophy from lack of use, when the opposite is probably the case. These are brains working overtime and without adequate pay.
Again, recovery is possible, but the question is, recovery from what? Victims of psychotropic drugging are not recovering from lack of brain use or reviving dormant brain skills. They are recovering from severe trauma that has been inflicted upon them by psychiatrists. You are not going against the grain here. Such arguments fall right in line with the psychiatric methods that lead to drugging in the first place.
Uprising is actually, in this rare occasion, correct. The only way that you are going against the grain is by downplaying the real effects of psychotropic drugs.
For the record, I agree with you that psychiatry attempts to infantilize its victims, and it imposes a sense of learned helplessness on everyone, including victims of psychotropic drugging. The difference is that a person’s brain may incur real harm from drugs. Of course a person may recover from this harm… many commenters in this thread have done so. But if you want to give people hope, you let them know that recovery is possible, even though it might be difficult, and that the damage that they sustained because of psychotropic drugging will eventually heal. A person’s brain may be damaged, but that doesn’t mean that he or she can’t fight back and grow stronger from the experience. Any denial of the danger and harm caused by psychotropic drugs falls squarely into the category of pro-psychiatry.
Uprising is actually, in this rare occasion, correct.
Cool story, bro.
Thanks man. 😉
Then they’re told this was a lie, and that in actuality their brains were fine before the drugging, but now the drugs have permanently damaged their brain chemicals and structure, suggesting once again that they’re incapable of managing their lives. So it’s the same learned hopelessness/helplessness message – that they should give up.
Not exactly. Biologically based “mental illness” is clearly false. The jury seems to be out on the permanence of neurotoxic damage; it must be acknowledged as at least a possibility in some cases, though I personally believe the body has the information it needs to heal itself from just about anything, and that people have the ability to adapt to more than they might imagine. Also that people need to learn how to use their innate power and encourage others to do the same. I think this is what Dr. K initially was originally hoping to convey before he hopelessly sidetracked and diverted the issue to his rather specious ideas about the destructiveness of neurotoxins, whether they really are neurotoxins, etc.
Lawrence, what “anti-psychiatrists” do you see telling people to give up, btw?
My blog questioned the assumption that tranquilizing drugs actually directly cause permanent neurological (brain) damage through toxicity.
It’s one thing to question, but the only questionable aspect to me is the “permanent” part.
There has been no evidence that these drugs directly kill brain cells, which is the actual definition of neurotoxicity
I consider Breggin to be the expert on this, so if you believe you have conflicting info maybe you should present it to him; meanwhile I would defer to his opinion.
So I’m allowed to be positive about the possibility of recovery, but only if I uphold faith that people’s brains are irreversibly damaged beyond recovery? I think I’ll pass on that impossibility, and instead continue trying to help people reach their potential.
Stop with this form of exaggerating people’s comments and putting your words in other people’s mouth. The jury is out on the question of “irreversibly damaged.”
The question being discussed here: Is there damage from psychiatric drugs that can lead to various forms of disablement?
Ever since I have written and commented at MIA I have ALWAYS promoted the concept of “neuroplasticity” and promoted a belief that people can get better from harm caused by psychiatry.
You have been unfortunately promoting a mixture of “damage denial” and “blame the victim” with some of your other more appropriate criticisms of psychiatry and appropriate belief in people taking control of their lives.
We are calling you out on these negative undercurrents in your blog and you are defensively doubling down on your inappropriate remarks. How about really listening for a change?
People heal from damage all the time. People break their bones in car accidents, have heart attacks and strokes, have their appendix removed and then recover. There is absolutely no assumption that brain damage is not recoverable, as many people with TBIs can tell you. But the brain is no less damaged just because recovery is possible. Talk to someone with Tardive Dyskinesia and ask them if they think it is a result of institutionalization or drugs.
I want people to have hope, too, but it’s not helpful to give dishonest or unreliable information to people. The first step toward recovering from harm is admitting the harm has happened, and the second is understanding what that harm is and what can be done about it. I consider it frankly insulting to those who have struggled to overcome the known, direct adverse effects of these drugs to suggest that their problem is “institutionalization.” Institutionalization DOES occur and is a legitimate phenomenon to explore, but suggesting that these powerful drugs have no damaging effect on the brain, in the face of strong evidence to the contrary, is just plain dishonest. It makes about as much sense as saying a heroin addict who is chronically impaired from long-term use is suffering from being a part of the drug culture, and if he’d stop, he’d just recover his prior functioning.
Drugs do damage our bodies. 120,000 people a year die from properly prescribed and administered medications. A lot of these are psych drugs. Is it really your position that these drugs can kill your body but have no deleterious effects on your brain?
Steve, good summation of the issues. The problem here is posing this as an either/or, drugs vs. institutionalization issue. Both are part of the same dynamic, and both are eminently destructive.
Lawrence, you’re not being positive about the possibility of recovery when you deny that from which victims of psychiatry are actually recovering. The damage is real, though not always irreversible. If your goal is to help people to reach their potential, the first step is to stop drugging them.
However, I believe that you may be onto something in terms of the way in which psychiatry aims to blame the victims of psychiatry or to create a sense that brains are defective, either before or after drugging. The solution is to abolish psychiatry, not to blame the victims of psychiatry. Even though a brain may be harmed terribly by psychiatry, that brain is not defective or “broken.” First psychiatry harms people, and then it attempts to harm the people it has harmed by medicalizing the very torture that they have imposed. It’s as if psychiatry takes a club to a person’s head, or a sledge hammer, and then looks at the damage caused and calls it a “disease” that requires “treatment” by psychiatrists.
Of course none of this is true. Psychiatry causes the harm in the first place, and it causes more harm by trying to fix the harm that it causes. I’m afraid that to deny any of these facts puts you squarely in the pro-psychiatry corner.
The author of The Broken Brain published a paper (not widely publicized *cough cough*) demonstrating that “bipolar brain deterioration” is caused by the multiple drugs these folks are forced to take.
It’s like arguing that a drug isn’t to blame for purple extremities but lack of circulation (that coincidentally occurs in those on the drug.) For those who have had hands or feet amputated the question is almost laughably irrelevant.
Unacknowledged? We were VERY aware it back in the 1960s and 70s when I worked at a large psychiatric hospital. In fact we called a unit that was officially called a `rehabilitation unit’ the `institutionalisation unit’.
That’s precisely the point of this blog – Back in the 60s and 70s the anti-psychiatry movement, and Americans in general, sought psychosocial explanations of human experience, one being institutionalization. But no longer. Since Prozac, the biomedical model has become so accepted/ingrained into our culture, that both pro-psychiatry and anti-psychiatry people now try to explain everything through “defective brain chemistry”. Today’s anti-psychiatry movement may thereby be helping more than harming psychiatry’s dominance. We’ll be more likely to steer people away from psychiatry if we instead rediscover true anti-psychiatrists from the 60s like Szasz (The Myth of Mental Illness), Goffman (Asylums), and Laing (The Divided Self), who refuted rather than endorsed psychiatry’s medical model foundation.
Even Szasz failed to fully comprehend the damage that is caused by psychotropic drugs. But the biomedical model is not the only culprit here. Long before the rise of the so-called bio-medical model, psychiatry had been inflicting harm on the brains of innocent human beings. Szasz did understand correctly, however, that Laing was not really anti-psychiatry. That is why Szasz wrote an entire book called “Anti-psychiatry: Quackery Squared.” Even though Szasz called for the abolition of psychiatry, he opposed the fake anti-psychiatry of Laing. Thus far I haven’t been able to discern any truly anti-psychiatry arguments in Lawrence’s article either, except for his opposition to the bio-medical model, which is at least a start.
I agree. Clear difference here btw Szasz and Laing.
I would caution against over simplifying. Sure, there was a clear difference between Thomas Szasz and R. D. Laing, but crediting R. D. Laing with developing some kind of false antipsychiatry is a little over the top.
Laing admitted he was not antipsychiatry. Laing however did develop with the Philadelphia Association the Kingsley Hall experiment which was, in many ways, quite revolutionary. Soteria houses are, in a sense, the successors of Kingsley Hall. Both could be said to be, if psychiatry is forced treatment, antipsychiatric.
Szasz, early on, targeted any communal answers to his “problems in living”, such as the Laingian experiment, as examples of collectivism which he associated with communism and left wing ideology. Anything besides your typical psychiatrist client shopfront counseling relationship didn’t sit well with him.
Good point Frank. The arguments are much more complex than a simple dichotomy between Szasz and Laing. However, in my opinion, Szasz was right about Laing. In this reading, I wouldn’t call Soteria houses antipsychiatry, but I can certainly see why they would be better than the run of the mill psychiatric torture.
If the arguments are more complex than a simple dichotomy between Szasz and Laing, why, why, why, reduce them to such!?
I’m not here to cast judgment on either Thomas Szasz or R. D. Laing. You say the arguments are complex, and then you automatically simplify the matter by agreeing with Thomas Szasz in castigating R. D. Laing. Apparently, you are here to cast judgment, and negative judgment at that, on Laing.
Szasz basically said that Laing was morally so bad that an ad hominem argument, such as that which he was making, would apply to him. I myself, well, I have a much harder time, when it comes to Laing, at ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’, as the expression goes.
In short, I don’t feel that Szasz “was right about Laing”, at least, not in all regards, or disregards, as the case may be.
The Kingsley Hall idea actually innately questioned the authority of the psychiatric establishment to begin with, and in that sense, I think it truly, and truly rather than falsely, could be said to be an antipsychiatry approach to such matters.
Laing’s The Politics of Experience is a great book, he probably wrote it after he started taking acid. I also liked Sanity, Madness & the Family, an earlier (pre-LSD?) work that while steeped in psychiatric terminology nonetheless exposed the contradictions and psychic power struggles within families that end up with one member being deigned the crazy one. Still he was not really anti-psychiatry, he just used the term to confuse conversations like this 50 years later. 🙂
Not sure Laing took acid btw, just a guess.
Interesting. I agree that he wasn’t really antipsychiatry… but that’s an interesting thesis for a book… and it really happens, so Laing may have correctly figured out a thing or two.
The biggest complaint I have against Laing, and the biggest difference between him and Szasz, as far as I’m concerned, is that Szasz came out publicly against coercive psychiatry, and R. D. Laing never managed to do so. He could come up with a non-structured environment such as existed at Kingsley Hall, but he couldn’t complete the connection between what was all right with that, and what was all wrong with the rest of the system, basically that it was all about force and state sanctioned violence. Szasz was very right to take on any and all psychiatrists who excused or encouraged forced treatment, and Laing, for his part, was one of those psychiatrists who didn’t clearly, strongly, and publicly come out against force, and in that sense, may have looked the other way.
Of course, Laing took acid. There’s no question about that. He dished it out, and he took it, too.
Laing climaxed in the 60s and 70s, after which he went into private practice as some kind of new age shade of himself, pushing re-birthing, and showing his sympathy for parapsychology and other forms of wishful thinking. If Szasz was the voice of moral authority, Laing was a part of the less morally fixated mandate to live of the sixties revolution.
Thomas Szasz, when he looked at the communal living situation that existed in the Laingian alternative, missed a whole history of such communal arrangements (kibbutzes, monasteries, utopian communities) seeing only in such the Eastern block soviet. His own business relationship, a counselor selling his wares, an up and coming bourgeoisie shopkeeper of sorts, might be said to be much more conventional by contrast.
It is with his libertarian stance, the value he placed upon freedom, that Szasz surpasses Laing. Had Laing been more of a libertarian, which he wasn’t, we wouldn’t be any the worse for it.
Steve, good summation of the issues. The problem here is posing this as an either/or, drugs vs. institutionalization issue. Both are part of the same dynamic, and both are eminently destructive.
Back in the 60s and 70s the anti-psychiatry movement, and Americans in general, sought psychosocial explanations of human experience, one being institutionalization. But no longer.
Where do you get your “history,” Lawrence? There was no anti-psychiatry movement in that period other than the mental patients liberation movement. The people you cite were professionals and academics, not ex-inmate activists. You never would have found them at our conferences (largely because they were not invited).
I apologize that I have not kept up with all the great comments here and have in fact only been able to read some of them. So I have missed a lot.
Right now my focus and main work has been on the gross fraud of coerced disability and coerced unemployment since 10+ years of being put out of the workforce, or even a few years, depending on which field of work you’re in, inevitably means you are unemployable even though you are capable of working.
After I was called schiz, I had to go buy a book on schiz (I bought the Torrey book) to see how a “good” schiz should act. I wondered why I couldn’t hear voices. I kept listening and listening, twisting my head different ways, and still, I couldn’t hear them like a proper schiz. I even turned down the radio. Maybe that would do it. But no. Nothing. I wasn’t good enough, I figured. Why couldn’t I hear them? What should I answer when the doc asked me what the voices said? Fake it?
Institutionalization robs us of the ordinary skills that people gain from being immersed in the workforce. Working people may hardly be aware of this. The simple gesture of the handshake is absent in the institution. After 30+ years of intermittent lockup, I had to teach myself to shake hands with people! No one taught me this gesture! You don’t go up to your boss in the workplace and ask for a frozen orange. You don’t excuse yourself because you need to put a paper bag over your head. You don’t cry and share because sharing is “letting it out.” You don’t bring a stuffed animal to work and role-play with it. You don’t go ask your supervisor for a “PRN,” because if you do, your super will ask you what the heck that is. Thankfully, I knew enough not to do these things. I laugh at how useless the “skills” were that we were taught. These were not skills, they were a way to stay mental patients.
If you ever make it as far as a real job interview you’ll have to invent decades of work history and you’ll need to be creative about it just to get your foot into the door of this thing called “work.” Good luck.
Very well said, and I really like how you use humor to get your points across. You should turn this into a blog here. You’ve helped me understand how so many ways of living that people in the work world take for granted, are eliminated and replaced by completely different ways of life in the institutionalized world that are incompatible with success in the work world. Even those who weren’t institutionalized but just took a year or two off from work, for example to raise their kids, nowadays find it extremely hard to catch up with how dramatically things changed since they left due to the non-stop technological innovations.
Lawrence, Much of what I send in to MIA they either ignore or reply that my writing is “too basic” or “too personal.” I sincerely hope my writing is deeply personal and very basic, and I don’t want to prostitute myself by not writing basic and personal stuff. That is my point. That is what many of my blog readers appreciate, and the object of my writing and how I was trained, in my graduate studies in creative writing, to write. I worked very hard to earn my master’s degree, too. I read 60 books, wrote countless term papers, did a teaching practicum, wrote a book-length thesis (which got published) etc. I still write a ton. My writing has yet to find a home outside of my own personal blog…And apparently MIA is not going to be that “right match.” We have come to an impasse over and over and they just don’t want the kind of stuff I write, degree or no degree. Survivor or not. They want statistics instead, which I don’t want to write. It’s not my forte. I have to accept that, pissed as I am, and move on. It isn’t easy to let go and accept it.
With all the money, government support, etc. that psychiatry has behind it, our only chance of defeating it is to pool our resources and work together as a team, rather than attack it separately in fragmented fashion. MIA seems to be the one place where all of us with this goal are contributing. They did publish one of your blogs recently, and although I didn’t agree with it, I agreed with most of your others. Your writing style is fantastic – you have made me laugh so much, and you are willing to analyze your motivations and be honest with yourself and your readers about them. You are also open to different ideas. You clearly have a lot to offer and teach. Please don’t give up on MIA.
Lawrence, I haven’t given up, but how am I supposed to react when my pieces are turned down over and over? Keep trying when it’s futile? Send in a piece and somehow strip my own name sign it “MD” or “Sera Davidow” and then, see if that changes their view of it? Sign it Kelmenson?
As a writer, I figure my job is to move the reader from point A to point B and that means stirring up the pot. That means shaking up what people already think, and making people ask questions they have not yet asked. If I only please people, I’m not doing my job. And if I see something, and I do not say something, I am not doing what I swore I would do when I got my degree. Or probably years before that. To me, writing is a sacred thing. And likely that oath that was never put to me on paper is more sacred than that Hippocratic Oath the doctors never ever follow.
I think what MIA forgets is what their readership consists of. They remember their “regulars,” people they already have as usual readers, but they forget the “out of the blue” readership, those that come in from outer cyberspace. These are the more important readers. These are the new readers who perhaps just left a horrific experience in a hospital and are desperate for answers. They are readers who endured decades of psych and are finally, finally, waking up. They are readers who finally found MIA after years of being brainwashed. This is exactly where I was in 2013 when I first found MIA, and frankly these are our most critical people to reach. I think these are the readers who matter most. We need to think of these very fragile and frightened readers before anyone, frankly, before the seasoned readers who more fully understand the principles, because those that teeter in indecision are on the brink of returning to psych. If we can reach them, we can help bring them to sanity, bring them to make the decision not to go back to the hospitals and doctors offices. But if we do not reach them, alas, we lose them.
Sorry Lawrence, but MIA is not an anti-psychiatry website. It is a “reform” or “critical” psychiatry website. There is a world of difference between antipsychiatry and reform or critical psychiatry.
You got that right, Dr. K.
We probably should keep political discussions to a minimum. Right now there can be no immediate political solution since all elephants and donkeys alike are feeding at the trough of Big Pharma and can’t wait to throw us under the bus for their bribes.
You are so correct in what you state here.
Absolutely, Julie. When I was called bipolar, I spent most of the time during that first consultation with a psychiatrist who, I later found out, diagnosed everyone with it, raking through my life to try to come up with episodes that might have resembled what I knew, from being a psychiatric professional, might support it. I found one period of 3 weeks in which I was deeply in lust, trotted it out as, query, a manic episode. `Aha!’ the psychiatrist almost shouted in delight. He was so thrilled that I, in my ECT fog, was so happy for him that I dug around even further and found a `depressive episode’ as well. A bad reaction to severe workplace bullying that ended as suddenly as it began when the source was removed. This man almost thanked me for making him feel warm and right, while I went on to carry a false and stigmatising diagnosis for the rest of my life.
For 13 years I was treated for what I increasingly knew and often queried, was simply not true. After I quit psychiatry, with not a single symptom of bipolar, I got myself some help for the severe stress problems I had accumulated – I had 24 of the 34 listed symptoms of that and my psychiatrist, who called herself a `PTSD’ specialist, never once followed up on my suggestion that that was what I was suffering from. The reason as I see it was because the issue had been created by psychiatry, an iatrogenic PTSD, and the anxiety created by her cognitive dissonance could not allow her to acknowledge that.
That is not entirely her fault. We, as a society, have put doctors on a pedestal, as the miracle workers and healers they are not. In an increasingly secular society we need heroes. The discovery of the miracle drug, penicillin, gave doctors that role. They have stayed up there by promising basically to save us from death – the cure for cancer is just around the corner, they will eradicate heart disease and heal our broken bodies with science. Of course this is not true, we will all die no matter what they do but too often the doctor believes he/she is miraculous.
I found this small article though I didn’t record the author..
AN “ILLNESS” LIKE NO OTHER.
`Do we want to believe in a “magical” treatment for our worst times? Is the generalized loss of “God” being displaced onto the “doctor” to cure us all with pills, or worse? This then places a huge burden on the doctor because he/she is not God and therefore cannot make us better, but must try. After all he/she belongs to the same beliefs as everybody else in our society. As a “healer” the doctor places a huge expectation on him/herself therefore forever pushing more and more extremes of treatments. Needless to say the more ephemeral “illnesses” will attract the “furore therapeuticus” making it possible for even the most benign and gentle ”healers” to do terrible things in order to “help”. From there the path is not going to be very good for the “sick” person. Nonetheless, aren’t we all complicit.’
Psychiatry, as a belief system, a pseudoscience, without empathy, humility or insight, cashes in on this.
Dee, after I was called schiz, my parents went to the doc and complained that I didn’t seem schiz to them. So the doc, Dr Merrifield, met with my parents and me (my two brothers were not present at the time) in a family meeting and he stated, with much to-do, that I was BIPOLAR. Well that got my poor mom cheering, actually, cheering with some relief that I was not schiz! From then on, though, I was doomed to be bipolar, for the next five years or so. I studied bipolar and acted bipolar. I was never manic but when I was happy they called it mania. I was mildly depressed because they didn’t recognize that I had an eating disorder all that time, and were incompetent at treating it, so there were times that I was in an ED-type fog, that likely resembled depression to anyone that saw me.
Then they did ECT in 1995 and 1996 because my insurance was running out. Now I was dxed with schizoaffective and the added BPD to explain away the effects of ECT. They claimed I was “faking ED for attention” at the time. I lived with the schizoaffective, of which I had no symptoms whatsoever, until I left psychiatry altogether (escaped the country) in 2014.
I think it is sad that the whole time, they were totally convinced I had a psychotic disorder and they were flat out wrong. Oddly, outside of the institution, such as at school or in situations where I did not reveal my dx, people didn’t seem to see me as nutso. This was what got me the idea of relocating, and got me realizing that relocating was going to work. It got me realizing that if you do not act like a nut, you are not a nut. If you are not seen as a nut, you are not a nut. And furthermore, if you do not talk like one, that is, if you do not describe yourself with THEIR language, you aren’t a nut. This involves inventing (or leaving out) a history for some of us if we are approached by a medical professional. And if you refrain from using substances that risk your sanity, such as booze or mind-bending drugs that could cause you to do or say something you might later regret (as in driving drunk) you are not a nut. It is not worth the risk. Are these things that complicated? This is how to stay out of a nuthouse.
As far as relearning life skills is concerned, I don’t think that it’s necessarily as simple as this sounds. Most of the people who I deal with on a daily basis at a state “hospital” never were allowed to learn the basic skills of living and taking care of oneself because they were dragged into the system as children. Many of these people get a check of some sort but are not their own payee, someone else administrates their money and gives them monthly allowances here and there from their own money. They do not know how to go out and find an apartment, how to get the utilities turned on, how to pay the bills to make sure the utilities stay on, and the list goes on and on. Many times, the system sets them up in an apartment and provides “sitters” for them but much of the time they know nothing about paying bills and cooking supper. And even with all this they end up back in the state “hospital” where they started out from in the beginning.
Certainly the system teaches learned helplessness without a doubt. But, I also believe that the drugs have chemical effects on people’s bodies and brains that also affect their ability to make life decisions. I’ve seen people put on fifty pounds due to the effects of Seroquel.
Stephen, it was only very recent that “patient” learned how to use the internet due to the proliferation of the “smartphone.” Before that, “patients” were not getting online. This meant the online world was “safe” from patient infiltration. It also meant that most patients did not have access to the wealth of information accessible via the web, information about the drugs that had been kept from us for decades. Of course, we could have guessed, but the Web verified that they KNEW all along, they knew the drugs caused organ damage such as kidney failure, they knew about heart damage, they knew about QT damage, they knew about diabetes and TD, but they failed to inform us, or told us it was a “trade-off.” The web also allowed us to connect with each other despite physical distance between us, connect and communicate despite being financially unable to meet in person, even some who are locked up can get online and “talk” to others. This strengthens us and scares psychiatry, and challenges them in a way they were never challenged before.
Yes, the internet has been a great thing for us. Unfortunately, where I work “patients” are still not allowed to access the internet. However, I think this will change because we are instituting a committee made up of program staff and people elected from the units to talk about and plan making things like this available to people. It’s taken almost eight years to get to this point but you don’t turn an ocean liner all of a sudden, but must plan for the turn long before the need to do so.
I’ve gotten a few psychiatrists to admit that the drugs do harm to people but none of them will speak up and take a stand about this.
Stephen, when the slaves die of kidney failure from the drugs, where do they stash the bodies? They must stack hundreds of them each year in a tower somewhere in utter shame. Most who took lithium don’t even live to be my age, so taxpayers won’t even have to worry about paying for their dialysis. No worries about wasting money on “those people.”
If they took a stand they would probably get fired and replaced by other sheeple and drones. It wouldn’t help psychiatry’s victims anyhow.
I do not like the anti-psychiatry thing…
it will cause more harm than good…
szasz talked about anti-coercive psychiatry..
I like that …
I have been helped by a very good psychiatrist..
and to eliminate psychiatry you are eliminating
biology which is not a good move..
How is eliminating psychiatry eliminating biology? That’s not logical. Psychiatry doesn’t address “biology.” Psychiatry, or, rather, its “care,” diagnoses people with mental defects according to arbitrary standards that have nothing to do with biology, then, uses these non-biological standards set by rich white guys to designate who will lose their rights. For life. Who will be declared disabled. For life. Who will be out of the workforce even though they are likely plenty capable. For life. Who will never earn an income. For life. Who will be separated from society, shunned, called “dangerous,” or predicted as “dangerous’ based on nothing biologically sound, nothing scientifically reasonable, only guesswork…for life. This, decided in a few minutes…decades ago. This, decided by a signature. This, decided because someone got paid, because someone needed an excuse, because someone decided to do it for convenience and nothing more. Because someone wasn’t willing to open their mouth and explain the whole nasty truth of the matter. Or listen. Or care. And for that reason, lives are wasted, people die, and no one ever knows.
Speaking of psychiatric `science’, an oxymoron in fact I’m reminded of a comment by one of the researchers into ECT back in 1980, the so-called best of the ECT placebo studies where they found that the `sham’ ECT, the placebo, had worked just as well for patients with `endogenous’ depression, a `biological’ depression that was not expected to respond to placebos. The reason they proposed was the “extra CARE the subjects experienced during the trial.’
No one saw anything significant in that statement. It echoes what I was taught about Insulin Coma treatment, gone by the time I was trained, where any good results were assumed to be because of “all the extra attention the patients got during treatment”.
Nobody then or now hears what they are actually saying – that CARING is what is actually HELPING in SPITE of the treatment.
Psychiatry’s own words tell us what they can’t hear.
I agree, Julie. It’s easy to attack people who don’t support psychiatry as being “anti-science” or “not believing in biological causes.” These are handy ways to discredit people, but that argument assumes that psychiatry is scientific and deals in biological causes. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is not one psychiatric diagnosis that any psychiatrist could tell you the cause of in even a small percentage of cases. And the psychiatric profession ignores the actual science that should inform its practice. There are plenty of real biological conditions that can cause hallucinations, agitation, anxiety, or depressed feelings (including, of course, reactions to the drugs they give you to “treat” such feelings), and we’d be a lot better off if we tried to actually look at real biological causes and peel off those cases of “major depression” or “psychosis” that really DID have a biological cause, and admit that the rest are not “treatable” in the medical sense. The big mistake psychiatry makes is creating a set of labels for conditions they don’t understand, and then assuming biological causation for everyone who fits their subjective criteria. Any real scientist would never put up with that kind of shabby pretense.
Steve Mc, that, is precisely what I was saying in my Eating Disorders piece (which Dr. K says he does not agree with but I think he and a few others just did not understand!). If you starve, I mean very very seriously starve, you will then get “stuck” into a very bad dieting cycle that is hard to get out of and can last a long time. This was proven in the Minnesota Starvation experiment. Starvation causes a diet cycle. This, of course, is why people are stuck on yo-yo diets for decades. They can’t stop, can’t lose weight, can’t seem to control themselves, and this isn’t gluttony nor perfectionism nor a mental disorder, it is a dieting disorder. It happened due to a diet, due to starvation, which kicked off a bad cycle. Unfortunately, you will appear to have a mental disorder if it gets really bad. You might act depressed or even racy or hyper, or lethargic. In elders, anorexia will be misinterpreted as Alzheimer’s and this happens frequently I imagine. You cannot think straight if you are eating 300 calories a day, nor can you tell a doctor really what is going on, and next thing you know, you’re in a nursing home called incompetent and unable to care for yourself.
This IS biological, misunderstood as mentally caused, but it is caused by a diet, by poor nutrition, erratic nutrition, gross nutritional imbalance, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, no nutrition at all, diabetes, organ failure, or being massively overweight or so underweight you can’t think straight anymore. When I almost died and wasn’t eating I was unable to dress myself and unable to braid my hair anymore. I let it hang loose and I could barely stand up. Then my kidneys failed and they called THAT a mental disorder. I had no potassium left in my body. They were very stupid.
I have biologically based depression. Been suffering from it for a few days.
The biological bases are anemia, low Vitamin-B, and hormone fluctuations since I’m turning into an old hag. (Just after I got my life back.)
And Scientologists too. Lucky for Big Pharma and Psychiatry the Church of Scientology exists or they would have had to invent it for their Two Minutes of Hate. Big Brother loves you!
Unfortunately, it is logical to believe that psychiatry is a valuable, biological (medical) perspective of mental distress since it is an accredited medical (biological) science. Medical schools will pay a high price for legitimizing the pseudoscience of psychiatry and the calamity of pathologizing natural emotional suffering (natural, painful reactions to distressful experiences).
Never forget leeches and bloodletting were once considered a valid modality of treatment for cholera patients. “Dr.” Benjamin Rush claimed blood letting was a great way to treat “mental illness” since it made people passive and quiet.
my psychiatrist does not use dsm5 diagnosis….
my psychiatrist is paid cash only…
because my psychiatrist thinks that
the psychiatry specialty has a sickness..
the present model is bio/bio/bio and $$$…
and I have a mental illness… I say that
because I do not know the cause of my
depression suffering and neither does he…
we are working on it…
Just a suggestion…have you looked at the `Life Traps’ (Schema Therapy) concept? A very good psychotherapist, in fact, one of the ONLY good psychotherapists I’ve met pointed me at that simple questionnaire and it opened a whole new set of possibilities for me.
Also, another suggested that all mental illness is really grief, unrecognised and unvalidated –
If you haven’t already looked at these, it might be an option.
Sadly, today’s psychiatrists have very limited training in psychotherapy, whilst clinical psychologists have several years of specialising in it – mind you, most have now embraced the DSM, to the detriment of their profession.
Truly good psychotherapy is dependent on the insight, empathy, compassion and humility of the therapist themselves. The value, no matter what is done, comes from the trusting relationship between the two people involved.
I hope you find peace of mind in the future.
Are you surrounded by friends and loved ones? Can you look back at your life with satisfaction? Can you look forward with hope?
By calling yourself “mentally ill” you are treating yourself in an insensitive manner. I bet you have very good reasons to grieve. I do.
Just because our lives stink does not make us sick, crazy or subhuman.
I have thought about this issue myself, some time ago.
My conclusion runs thusly:
Some people have a vested interest in denying brain damage/impairment/disablement induced by psychiatric drugs which, for some unfortunate souls, is altogether permanent and insurmountable.
My observations of this tendency to denialism, is that the closer someone has been to this damaging process (ie. prescribing the actual drugs to human beings of their own volition) the greater the likelihood is that they will hold a determinedly denialist position with regards brain damage.
For some ex-/prescibers, denial of brain damage is a common defence mechanism. To let go of this defence mechanism they would have to come to terms with the fullness of their own involvement in human cruelty. Generally a denialist will refer to things like “brain plasticity” and the ability of people to will themselves better. In other words, no matter how damaged someone is by being prescribed psychiatric drugs, the prescriber gets off the hook.
This article is an appeal from, I assume, an ex-prescriber, addressing all those people out there with drug-induced brain (and body) damage and impairment, to shift the focus of blame away from the prescriber and focus it entirely on themselves.
It stands as an egregious example of the kind of arrogance psychiatry fosters as a profession, which mustn’t be so easy to entirely grow and develop from, and realise one’s true potential as an ethical human being.
Good point. I believe that most prescribers don’t really know what they have done, just like most victims of drugging hardly realize what has happened to them. The best thing for a former prescriber to do is to recognize the harm that he or she has caused, whether unwittingly or not, and to renounce psychiatry. In fact, a penitent former drugger and jailer may become a great ally to his former victims as well as to many future survivors of psychiatric abuse.
I agree with you, other than the bit where an enlightened ex-/prescriber must renounce psychiatry. Personally, I think it would be sufficient to renounce antipsychotics and antidepressants as inhumane responses to madness and misery, and then take it from there. Otherwise, they will easily be written off as cranks with an axe to grind.
Akathisia is an effective form of torture which can break the will of even the most resilient individual. Akathisia is not a side-effect in many cases, or an unfortunate effect. It’s a known torture device that can be utilised to bring about behaviour change, in a classic behavioral sense. It is a weapon to enforce a sadomasochistic relationship.
Tardive Akathisia rarely gets a mention. It’s just too easy to put it down to a character flaw, a misguided will, or an attitude problem, or a symptom of delusion or psychosis. The disablement is real, though. How prevalent it is is anyone’s guess. Try and find a health professional willing to diagnose it…
Magical thinking cannot overcome these drug-induced disablements. They cannot be overcome through willpower or positive thinking. One cannot overcome tardive akathisia (or dystonia or dyskinesia) with that universal prayer of (false-) Hope. To even suggest to someone stricken with these disablements that they should have hope that they can be magicked away by thinking is another form of sadism, another human cruelty to stack on top of the cruelty that led to the permanent impairment in the first place.
Exactly. The brain damage I have is the result of drugging and 2 rounds of ECT I was given. Will I “recover”. No. I lived a great life for 54 years, had a 30 year career, but fell into the evil clutches of psychiatry after a drug reaction. In 12 months they poisoned and electrocuted me. I lost 27 IQ points and 20 years of memory. I was in the hospital/lunatic asylum for 4 weeks on 2 occasions for drug induced iatrogenic illness.
“Institutionalization” had fuck all to do with the brain damage- but it certainly caused severe trauma.
What a pathetic article.
It is far beyond anger , it is fury , if not justice then at least dreams of payback , much like in the movie Inglorious Bastards . There is a war going on and only one side is firing weapons and the other side remains targets, manufactured now from the youngest of ages to the very last breath into convenient , exploitable, stripped of any protections , useable and disposable at will , humans stripped of all their human rights , checkmated , laughed at and even subjected to specially choreographed kangaroo courts . A modern day Inquisition. Is it the Jesuits again behind this so they can continue molesting children and torturing everyone else even remotely suspected of non-compliance?
Recently in a department grocery store I ran into the social worker that had power over me for some 20 years . Now retired and 84 years old , looking like he could keel over any second , still an embodiment of that arrogant soft spoken superior aire of one who routinely determines the fate of others with a stroke of a pen. I asked him how many in his over 30 year “career” had he seen like me who escaped psychiatry ? He said there were only 2 counting me .He was still suspicious , judgemental , analyzing , and threatening . I guess it came from decades of knowing psychiatry , big pharma , and the government , had his back.
Lots a people experience a unique perfect storm of circumstances that make them visible to the butterfly net carriers of the Inquisition. Once captured probably the majority, in the millions , in the USA anyways have an income of less than $750 a month plus food stamps and run out of funds before the end of the month, all while subjected to debilitating pseudo scientific coerced physical and psychological “treatment”.
Is this enough funds to explore the escape hatches a relatively few more financially fortunate victims have been able to explore ? Come on you employees, you soldiers , you designers of the Inquisition , you assholes , give the reparations you owe and stop the continued perpetration of this modern day eugenic nitemare holocaust.
Fred, if he only “noticed” two escapees, then he is outright lying, totally naive, or maybe lost count.
Maybe they avoided him from fear. I am in no hurry to inform “Mental Health” of my whereabouts.
Doctor, thank you for making a logical medical (biological) analysis about the correlation between reduced brain volume and mental distress: it is the normal physiology of atrophy. Neuroleptic drugs have a sedative effect that reduces brain functioning; like all body tissues, nervous tissue will atrophy from reduced usage.
That doesn’t make sense, Steve S. What does in fact make sense is if you sit and do nothing for decades, or do only very passive activity, what they call sitting on a couch (instead of reading, writing, playing chess, playing football, exercising, riding a bike, playing an interactive game, listening to music, doing art, knitting, praying, working a job, fixing computers, shooting baskets, raising kids, etc) then maybe your brain won’t work as well.
Brains work better if they are used, and the parts of your brain that you do use will get better as you continue to use them. I have not used the math part in many ways that I used to have, and I suspect it has not stayed developed due to years of disuse.
Should I give up reading and start to use a “screen reader,” what will happen? I suspect the part of my brain that reads text will shrink after a few years. Even though I truly struggle to see text, because my eyes do not work well, I don’t want to lose the reading/writing part of my brain! So I don’t resort to “screen reader.” I keep it very strong. Or try.
I feel sorry for patients who are coerced into believing they are disabled. I feel sorry for those that believe they have brain diseases or fall into a place where they become unmotivated. I feel bad when they do nothing but watch TV and smoke. I did that a few years because I believed I was schizophrenic and good for nothing else. I smoked and waited for my “shows” to come on. Wow I could never live like that now.
I smoked and waited for the doctor to call. I remember sometimes waiting all day. He didn’t call. There were days I was afraid to leave the house because I was afraid i would miss his call. I would wait five or six hours.
Then, the moment would come. I remember hearing the phone, putting down my cigarette and rushing to pick it up. It was him.
“Why don’t you just take a Thorazine,” he said. Then, he hung up.
So that was it. After hours of waiting.
That was my life when I was 27.
my psychiatrist believes in the bio/psy/soc model of causation….
LittleTurtle, i can’t find the comment of yours that ended up in my email, but I agree that there is a biological component. We cannot deny our biology. I can’t deny that I am short in stature and this of course led to my being teased a lot in elementary school. Wearing glasses at a young age also led to further teasing. Having dark skin causes many people to be discriminated against, and has for ages. If you have Middle Eastern appearance you might worry about flying because you could be suspected as a terrorist by TSA. All of these social reactions to people’s appearance alone shapes how we interact and view the world. If a person has had a stroke, injury, or heart attack, that, too, is biology, and cannot be ignored, either. I don’t think the Movement ignores these biological realities. In fact, we know psychiatry fails to recognize when a person’s biology caused discrimination, exclusion, or alienation, but gets called a mental disorder by mistake.
Oh, LittleTurtle I even know someone who was called a mental disorder because of the biological reality of PREGNANCY.
Is it more productive to say “antipsychiatry movement” or “psychiatric survivor movement”? Both get bashed by pro-psych groups but there’s a difference.
I am confused over what is “neurodiversity” because some of them talk about “I’m bipolar so please don’t stigmatize me.” I cannot align with this line of thinking, but I feel obliged to respect it because right alongside it is “I’m an artist so please bug off.” or, “I’m a little different and that is okay.” Which I do agree with. Or, “I hear voices, let me do this.” Which is fine by me. I don’t align with “bipolar” since that is a disease proclamation, unless of course the word is intended otherwise. But then, of course, we are getting very confusing here.
Plus I am starting to get involved with other groups, too. Such as anti-bullying groups.
Is it more productive to say “antipsychiatry movement” or “psychiatric survivor movement”?
Two different things. I don’t know what a “survivors'” movement would be moving toward, though, if they were not anti-psychiatry survivors (by whom the AP movement must be led).
I agree about neurodiversity, and am yet to see a truly coherent definition.
Two different things (AP & PS) is right.
What we used to call the ‘mental patients’ liberation movement’ we now tend to call the ‘psychiatric survivor movement’. I basically see those two movements as one and the same movement. In answer to what would the ‘psychiatric survivor movement’ be moving towards, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still ‘mental patients’ liberation’. The ‘psychiatric survivor’- ‘mental patients’ liberation movement’ can converge at this juncture with the ‘antipsychiatry movement’ in that you don’t promote psychiatry by liberating people from it. You liberate yourself and others from the ‘mental patient’ role by rejecting psychiatry, and the entire ‘mental health treatment’ racket that goes along with it. In that direction resides physical health, the only health that matters.
Well, then, I, for one, do not endorse therapy. I cannot agree with those who claim therapy is great when I do not see therapy doing great things simply because therapy might not use drugs.
I see therapy causing dependency, addiction to therapy, abuse, outright unethical practices, complete ineffectiveness (this is hard to prove, in fact), loss of life functioning, unemployment, disability due to chronic unemployment, encouragement to use drugs, coerced diagnosis, forced diagnosis, forced higher level of care, very bad habits including self-disclosure, threats, bribery, accusations, gaslighting, sexual abuse and seduction, and more.
MIA rarely takes a stance on this due to the proliferation of therapists on this site…therapists provide an income…they more often publish a therapist than take a stance.
I say NO MORE. Therapy addiction is harmful, causes disability, is literally killing people, and needs to stop.
I’ve experienced “therapy” that was as bad as you’ve described, but I’ve also experienced therapy that was very helpful.
Uprising, that’s fine, but a few people get help from the pills, too, and they don’t experience negative “effects.” They might argue the same, or they might say…
I had bad pills but I also had some that helped.
Does this mean we should ignore that the drugs wreck some people’s lives? They don’t wreck everyone’s life, only some people’s. Therapy ruins more lives than is reported, and therapy abuse goes unreported and abusive therapists keep on practicing. Just because there might be a few good ones, should we discredit the massive numbers of patients that were harmed and call them nuts?
If someone says, “I’ve had bad pills but I’ve also had some that helped,” then my response is, “Good for you!” Psych drugs have wrecked my life, but I don’t personally care what other people ingest as long as they are getting informed consent and they are not promoting the chemical imbalance myth.
Do you see me discrediting anyone who has been damaged by therapy? Nope. I think that the inherent power imbalance in therapy is dangerous, but that doesn’t make therapy completely worthless. I think that the anti-therapy position is misguided and myopic, and I wonder why you would want me to not get therapy when I am telling you that I find it helpful at times.
I sometimes thing “neurodiversity” cedes way too much to the psychiatric model, and in doing so makes things more complex than they need to be. If we keep it as “The human species is made up of a wide range of different people, all of whom are potential contributors to our survival,” it gets a lot simpler. I don’t think we need to give extra credence to the idea that we are how we are because of our “wiring”. Some difference is sure to be due to genetics, and some due to education/programming, but who cares? People survive as best they can with the tools they’ve been given. Why not just focus on finding the gifts that each of us brings to the table and helping each other expand on what we have to offer? No “neuro” explanations are required!
Good way of putting it. The “neuro” screams “brain” so what are we talking about? It almost sounds like a “PC” term for brain damage or deficiency (whether or not this is the case), sort of like “differently abled,” in a slippery way associating brain dysfunction with “mental illness” on one hand but on another level alluding to identity politics and “diverse lifestyles.” All this can easily have the reverse effect of creating “stigma” where there need not be any. So I agree, it’s quite possibly an unnecessary term.
I agree, Steve McCrea, no “wiring” explanation, just “we are different and these differences are necessary to human survival.”
PS to Julie —
“I’m bipolar so please don’t stigmatize me.”
Would it help to point out that by accepting such a label people stigmatize themselves?
Yes, certainly that might work. I’ll remember that, Oldhead. Next time.
I can’t find the comment about brain damage by dragon slayer. It is hard to prove brain damage on a living person, easier on a cadaver. Either way, psych drugs damage the heart, damage the thyroid, damage the kidneys and pituitary, cause diabetes mellitus, cause massive weight gain, and more. Oh and can cause seizures, double vision, other eye disorders, possibly blindness, hormone disorders, bone thinning, sexual dysfunctions of all sorts, reproductive harm, poison breast milk, harm during pregnancy and during nursing, and outright kill an elderly person or very young person. I personally have damaged kidneys, damaged thyroid, diabetes insipidus, permanently poor quality blood that is always anemic, scary low GFR (and I plan to refuse dialysis), and according to my naturopath, the reason I can’t sleep is due to damage to my pituitary. As far as I know, the massive amount of “antipsychotics” I was given that I dutifully took for years caused permanent rebound insomnia and there has been no improvement in that for 7 years. Apparently I am not the only one! This runs rampant!
Just last night a very kind and sympathetic “professional” with whom I spoke over the phone suggested I try to obtain medical marijuana, which I have not yet tried, and since this person is local I very well may enlist this person’s assistance in finding a physician who will prescribe a strain that will sedate but will not cause me to restart binge eating. This is the first time someone has listened to me, believed me, was concerned, and suggested a workable, reasonable and soon-to-be legal solution to this, considering my age and circumstances.
Lawrence I am laughing because you said during medical training you snuck into the “meds” drawer and took one of the pills! Ha ha! And then, slept a few days. Really, you should have rented a bed in the nuthouse. I don’t think they charge much per night if you stay there. You could have billed taxpayers, no one would have noticed. They must have had room service and a nonsmoking room for you, no? Or were you …ahem…SMOKING back then? Smoking what? You know they restrain you for that, do you not?
Either way, if it made you sleep a few days, imagine taking several of those per day, building up a “tolerance,” then, having to take a higher dose since you were “tolerating” the drug, or, because the drug made you pace. They needed to “medicate” the pacing, after all. They do that. Then what? Suppose then, you “tolerated” those drugs. Then, they’d add another drug, then, you’d spend a few weeks in a nuthouse “stabilizing.” By then, I think your medical career would have been long gone out the window.
Then, some three decades later, this is what will happen. You’ll notice that no matter what, you can never, ever sleep. Never. Pills or none, you can’t. Your body cannot initiate nor sustain sleep no matter how tired you are, because your body completely forgot how, in all the years those drugs did it for you.
You are now 65 years old. You are constantly exhausted. Your marriage is hardly worth it since you lose your temper all the time. You have alienated your neighbors and friends. You and your wife decide to separate. You can’t get a thing done during the day. You keep nodding off, and yet, you can never ever sleep.
You have decision to make. Is life really worth it, living in constant exhaustion, constant nether-world? You are alone now. You suddenly realize that taking all those drugs, all those years, somehow did this to you. You feel deeply enraged, that you were cheated, duped, and that you were robbed of everything decent any person could ever have.
Thank you for this great artcle.
my psychiatrist believes this anti-psychiatry movement
is going to have an overall negative effect…
psychiatry needs drastic changes but a frontal attack
usually causes more problems than it helps…
we patients have the possibility of pushing the TRUTH not lies..
that is where the strength is….my psychiatrist wants big changes
which might include him being out of work…
but he wants to go where the TRUTH is….bio/psy/soc
I’d be very interested in hearing where your psychiatrist is coming from. What big changes does he foresee or recommend?
Unfortunately, most psychiatrists I have known and/or heard about are not interested in “big changes” and are unable to even accept hard scientific data from their own researchers. It is hard for me to imagine any kind of reform when the majority of practitioners appear allergic to any kind of factual analysis and are instead religiously committed to their “bio-bio-bio” views.
More $$$$ in pre$erving the $tatu$ quo.
Which or what antipsychiatry movement is that, pray tell?
Antipsychiatry was first coined by psychiatrist as a pejorative term for anybody with the audacity to question psychiatric authority early in the twentieth century. It has since that time evolved into high comedy.
This biological cause is only invoked to bolster the medical status of the psychiatry profession. There is a great deal of “mental disturbance”, for lack of a better term, that is completely socio-psychological in nature, while the biological often tends to be solely iatrogenic, physician caused, and a matter of injury sustained through the ingestion of neurotoxins.
As for any antipsychiatry movement that exists, yeah, sure. If psychiatry is, as illustrated, basically a destructive force, hopefully it can have a very negative effect upon it indeed. Doing so would be a very positive thing.
Antipsychiatry was first coined by psychiatrist as a pejorative term for anybody with the audacity to question psychiatric authority early in the twentieth century.
Probably because they were prescient and highly threatened by the impending demise of their “profession.”
Threatened maybe, but not with impending demise. This was very nearly 100 years ago.
Prescient in the sense of anticipating anti-psychiatry, that is.
I distrust most psychotherapies (that is, “talk” therapy) having been badly harmed by an abusive one, actually several that were abusive or just outright incompetent. Therapy promotes dependency, if not on anything else, the therapist. Therapy is extremely addictive. You get addicted to self-disclosure, which is a horrible bad habit, a habit you need to button up in many social situation and find, suddenly, you can’t due to years of that terrible habit. Talk therapy induces helplessness, sometimes far worse than psychiatry does. My psychiatrist only met with me once a month, while the therapist insisted on twice a week and insisted on forced weigh-ins, threatened me constantly, and coerced me to play with children’s toys, claiming it was “role-playing.” She made me change chairs, and talk to the stuffed animals in baby-talk. If she could get me to cry, that, she claimed, was “healing.” No it wasn’t, it was satisfying her intense and very sick desire to control her vulnerable patients. I suspect she had a controlling mother and was just transferring the abuse. This she did with no drugs whatsoever, just with threats and manipulation. It was pretty bad narcissism, but I do not use such labels, it was a behavior. I refuse to excuse her unethical and illegal behavior by claiming she had a disease that caused it. I cannot submit myself to therapy again.
Szazs and Glasser never did counseling on anyone against their will. If your therapist is a butt hole and you can’t fire her/him it’s not a therapeutic relationship.
NEUROTOXICITY — POINT OF INFORMATION:
Just checked out the link Fred Abbe unceremoniously posted, http://www.neurotox.com Some interesting info.
Neurotoxicity is the poisonous effects of harmful substances on nervous system function, and a cause of brain damage. Common symptoms can include problems with memory, concentration, learning, mental processing speed, sleep, thinking, language, as well as anxiety, depression, confusion, personality changes, fatigue, and numbness of the hands and feet.
The substances they have tested included “Prozac, psychiatric drugs (anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, tranquilizers, sleep drugs)” and the neurotoxic conditions listed include “psychiatric-drug induced disorders (agitation, mania, psychosis, executive dysfunction, suicide, violent behavior).” Also, “The rare doctor who does have training in toxicology often does not have adequate training in diagnosing and identifying the symptoms of neurotoxicity, and may simply brush off the symptoms as being caused by a pre-existing mental disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or hypochondriasis.”
The official definition of neurotoxicity is destruction/damage of nervous tissue, rather than effects on nervous system function. If you broaden it to include any chemical that negatively affects nervous function, then the list becomes endless, and of course will include all psychiatric drugs. I use the original, unbroadened definition. I believe that such broadening of definitions has been a major way that psychiatry (and modern anti-psychiatry) have misled many people to believe their situation is hopeless/helpless/permanent. As we all agree here at MIA, psychiatry’s use, or misuse, of certain words has itself influenced people’s thoughts/perceptions greatly, so we should be careful about how we use words that convey certain assumptions.
I think we’re splitting hairs here. Definitions vary and I’m not a neurotoxicologist. But I see no logical implication that by identifying something as toxic/poisonous the toxicity in question is to be construed as irreversible.
The distinction between functional and anatomical abnormality is not only huge, psychiatry’s wrongly equating one with the other is how it tricked millions into thinking that unusual thoughts/feelings/behaviors are due to permanent neurological/brain defects. It’s the whole basis of its false medical model. You can’t get any huger than that.
I can only speak based on my experience but recovery does actually feel a bit like ‘stretching a long forgotten limb’, so your concept makes sense to me. After having been forced to take a mix of neuroleptics I first only felt very irritated and surprised when I discovered their power to influence and distort my perception and awareness but then I got terrified because I experienced states of being that are completely alien for me (inner tension, anxiety, panic attacks, very critical, cataclysmic and judgemental thinking, powerlessness and so on). Interestingly, psychosis was different. It was also a distortion of my perception and awareness, but it felt personal and not foreign, it was MY way of distortion and therefore I felt control of it on some level (allthough overwhelmed at the moment it felt that with some help and guidance or time I would be able to figure it out). This zombie feeling very well feels like you are robbed of inner pathways like you cannot access certain parts of the brain. Have you ever seen a website only displaying its basic structure without styling, images or any higher functionality like fancy animation? Its still working to a certain degree but only if you care to read the text will you recognise that it is the original website because it has lost much of its appearence. Styling and functionality is usually seperated in additional files that the basic html template of the website has to load when you call it. If there is a connection problem the basic html structured content is still displayed but in its raw state having lost much functionality. Anyways, the necessary files still exist. If the website does not load these for say many months or even years, these file do not corrupt but they are not maintained, not adapted to the html that changes over time and not updated with new findings of technology. If you finally reestablish connection you could very well have a whole system crash or nothing happens at all because of missing comparability. From a technical point of view Lawrence approach is very valuable because he tries to figure out and understand the underlying process that is leaving so-called mentally ill people so disfunctional and often degrading. I could even see the former popular various kind of shock treatment leading to a similar kind of disruption of certain brain pathways because either they truly physically get damaged as with ECT or the patient is ‘tortured’ as long as it needs for him or her to learn to give up a certain thinking or behaviour, psychologically inhibiting the pathway until it is weakened and lost. Or overwritten as it happens if you delete something on your computer. It is not lost immediatly its space in memory is just freed for other content. So your original thinking and behaviour gets replaced by whats psychiatry deems right for you. To recover as it feels to me I have very well to reestablish connection to my original sense of being – sense of a healthy and capable being. And when I reach connection to all this parts I have to update, adapt and modify them to be tailored to my current being who has advanced (and sadly declined), has changed, which means work and often creative solutions because I need to understand the old configuration as well as my new level and needs and then figure out a way to make this work.
Great, illustrative analogies. Again, I wish I had used them in my blog, since they bring the point home much better than just an abstract theory. And since you used technology, everyone can identify with it.
It’s the whole basis of its false medical model.
For one, no, the medical model came into play as soon as the concept of “mental illness” was invented.
I don’t see which of my statements you’re responding to. Brain damage is an anatomical abnormality. Psychiatry routinely conflates the real effects of its drugs with false ideas of chemical imbalances, etc., masking the social/political nature of what’s happening.
So Lawrence, can you please answer the oft-placed question: is Tardive Dyskinesia a result of institutionalization? Or is it evidence of old-style brain damage? What about the demonstrated cognitive decline in long-term antipsychotic or benzo users? Or the development of Tourette’s Syndrome in a subset of stimulant users?
Your definition of brain damage is pretty narrow here. I’d suggest that brain damage should be defined as something that makes the brain unable to effectively function as it is supposed to on a long-term basis. But however you define “brain damage,” the adverse effects of long-term psychiatric drug use are well documented above and beyond the effects of institutionalization. At a minimum, you are speculating without evidence. It might be an interesting area to explore, but as a scientist, you can’t assume your hypothesis to be true, you have to test it.
Your lack of response to this question continues to concern me greatly. Are you unwilling to deal with data that don’t fit with your hypothesis?
Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’ll start with cognitive decline seen with chronic tranquilizer use, and brain damage: Equating the former with the latter is right out of biological psychiatry’s lying playbook – Psychiatry’s owes its “success” to tricking people into thinking that societally-disapproved-of feelings/thoughts/actions (functioning) are the result of defective/damaged brains (anatomy). The truth is that a healthy brain is capable of infinitely diverse types of functioning. So when the cognitive functioning of chronically sedated people declines over time, assuming this means that the sedatives anatomically damaged their brains, is incorrect in the same way. Our brains can acquire cognitive skills from practice, or lose them from disuse, as I lost my ability to speak Spanish from 30 years of disuse. Please look at phoenix’s comments above for better examples.
Similarly, if someone gets more depressed after years of antidepressant usage, that doesn’t suggest that the antidepressants damaged their brains. It just implies that sadness is a normal human function that’s more likely to occur if people turn to placebos to “cure” their troubles, since their coping tools will thus decline due to years of disuse, and their neglected troubles will likely fester.
When people wrongly assume that “abnormal” functioning equates with abnormal anatomy, then maybe it’s due to the false medical model having become so ingrained into our culture’s subconscious, that most people now believe/apply it without realizing it. But that doesn’t mean that they’re brain damaged to the point of being unable to think logically – it’s just an example of how all healthy people are capable of irrational thinking/functioning, especially if everyone else is doing it.
As far as ECT damaging the brain, that’s different – putting high voltage electricity into brains clearly fries them. I think I remember seeing smoke coming from Jack Nicholson’s head while he was getting ECT in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. As far the autism epidemic being caused by antidepressants, that’s just one theory. I ascribe more to Marilyn Wedge’s idea that when babies/young kids don’t interact with their parents (and the outside world in general) since they and their parents are instead constantly engaged with virtual screens, and since they spend too much time in impersonal day care centers, then their learning how to bond/socialize will be stunted. As far as tics in stimulant users, that’s doesn’t suggest brain damage – that’s an expectable result of overstimulation.
As far as tardive dyskinesias, no – I don’t think it’s from insitutionalization. The older antipsychotics clearly caused many horrible muscular side effects like stiffness, dystonic reactions, and TDs, as well as other awful side effects. As far as I know, there has been no demonstrated brain damage found to account for these side effects. It’s unfortunate that drug companies developed newer antipsychotics without these muscular effects, since parents are more willing to put their kids on them since they don’t seem as bad. Yet they’re just as sedating and thus just as capable of preventing kids from learning anything, and thus just as capable of resulting in adults’ loss of cognitive skills from chronic disuse of them.
I would add again from a technical perspective and my experience that anxiety, nervousness, this akathisia feeling, has a lot to do with setting the nervous system out of balance. On the uppermost level of my experience, the conscious part, I freaked out because due to the sedatives I couldn’t access certain attitudes that normally belong to my person. Like calming myself, finding humour even in difficult situations, reaching a hopeful inner state or at least some sarcasm… The insidious thing was that I consciously knew (sort of remembered) how I “should” react but it didn’t happen. The familiar reaction, the feeling, didn’t come whilst being in that zombie state. Much of what I have learned through experience, healthy reactions that I had build up through life, were blocked. Therefore, I got anxious and scared and exhausted and even panicked. I remember sitting in front of a supermarket in my car and going in to shop some grocery seemed to be impossible. I tried to logically understand what happened but I found no reason. I became afraid of ordinary things although I have never been easily frightened. On one occasion I bursted into tears because I was afraid to drive to my mother’s home (ok, that was 350 km away, but a trip that I had done fairly regularly so far). It was just so confusing, what has happened to me that brought forward such feelings. And with the prevailing culture of bio-psychiatry you are very inclined to start to believe the doctors that it is a sign of a mental illness that finally broke through. Especially, as you desperately try to explain that you are completely different normally and they just look at you calmingly with a soothing smile but utter disbelief in their eyes, telling you that your self-perception and -assessment is not to be taken seriously. Thus, jumping on the train of Lawrence way of thinking, the drugs disrupted certain pathways and therefore I couldn’t access my natural coping strategies. And I could have very well have forgotten them and developed a completely new personality according to the new situation – which would have been a very deteriorated version of myself. I know that I struggled very hard to “remember” how it felt being me.
The physical side-effects were still real and a burden, sweating, feeling bloated, eyesight problems, sleeping issues, and so on, but having no coping strategies and much functionality of my brain not available, dealing with these difficulties brought me down to my knees. See, with pain, lets say headaches, I often practised to just endure it and focus my mind to be able to bear it to learn strengthening the mind. I couldn’t do that for many of the last years although I practised it in the years befor “mental illness”. So if nobody reminds you of the things that Lawrence tries to point out (that humans have great capabilities and are not just biological robots), then you decline and get more and more dependent … and sad and frustrated.
And I also find it important to remind of the original causes that lead to smptoms of mental illness. They developed because of failure to find a functioning way of dealing with whatever issues there were. With no guilt or fault attached for the one who couldn’t cope. As I said before, there are many reasons why somebody breaks down and he or she could very well be a total victim of some social condition or whatever. As somebody that experienced symptoms of mental illness, there has been something that was an illness, caused by something. If this is never adressed it most likely will stay and cause further deterioration. Combine this with all the detrimental and burdening experiences caused by hospitalization and drugging and a person is very easily “broken”, but not biologically broken (which is much more irreversible), but psychologically broken.
And there is one more thing: As I have been rediscovering my original self, I felt not only rage but also shame. It brought me to tears how I reacted and thought in the last years because of my lost connection to my inner self. I have been weak and submissive and anxious and conformist and begging for warmth and attention. This is not easy to bear to see myself from my original perspective. It is thus tempting to not go this painful way of self-re-discovery. I also am still horrified that this could happen although I felt so centered and strong-willed and full of self-confidence. And at the same time I am afraid of that psychotic overcompensation where I thought I am the world’s next saviour… How to recover and become healthy again, that is the big question and it feels as being a psychological one. It also has much to do with learning about attitudes and beliefs that caused me to have a breakdown. And modifying them to be better prepared in the future to prevent a reaction like this. For me trying to figure out who is guilty of what happened to me feels hindering my recovery. But at the same time the most important realization was understanding how much I was hurt by several things and people and truly feel and accept that pain. I am still working on that.
I really hope, that psychiatry will change to offer a safe and warm environment without blame that just gives support and wise guiding to let people figure out whats wrong with them or the situation that they are in. No therapist, no psychologist, and no psychiatrist can do this for you because the only one that knows what made you mad or depressed or manic or agitated is yourself. It could be as simple as mal-nutrition or as complicated as several traumatic events coupled with toxic effects of something physical. Psychiatrist should see themselves more as detectives that have to figure out a crime. The perpetrator causes the mental illness symptoms but who is he or she? Is it something biological like hormones or gut imbalances or individual psychological problems or social things or a combination.
Lawrence, this theory of yours, which has no evidence to support it, is as pro-psychiatry as they come. There is a vast chasm between pyschiatry’s false claim that “mental illness” requires “treatment” because biologically defective brains don’t function normally, and the universally recognized and incontrovertible fact that psychotropic drugs alter the brain and CAUSE the very symptoms that they are purported to cure. Moreover, your theory plays right into the hands of psychiatry because you continue to use psychiatric terminology such as “antipsychotics” and “antidepressants.” There is no such thing as an “antipsychotric” or an “antidepressant.” These neurotoxic drugs would more aptly be named “psychotics” or “depressants.”
You claim that the “cognitive functioning” of “sedated people” declines over time. This is precisely what psychiatrists would like the general public to believe. What can possibly be meant by “sedated people”? Some substance was prescribed, or forced upon these victims of psychiatry, and that substance clearly does something to the brains of victims of psychiatry to “sedate” them. The fact is that psychotropic, neurotoxic drugs DAMAGE the brain in ways that have yet to be fully understood, because, as you mentioned, the human brain is infinitely more complex than anyone can possibly begin to understand.
Your theory that victims of psychotropic drugging lose capacities because of disuse is simply unfounded. If I smack you on the head with a sledge-hammer, and you forget all the Spanish that you learned in high school, should I assume that your enfeebled memory is a result of disuse? Of course sadness is a normal human experience. Even drug-induced despair and suicidal ideation is a reasonable, though painful, response to psychotropic drugging. But psychiatry, through its poisonous chemical compounds that masquerade as “medicine,” CAUSES many, if not most of these symptoms.
I oppose the medical model more than anyone on this planet because I oppose psychiatry itself. There is a difference between the psychiatric claim that “abnormal anatomy” causes “abnormal functioning” and the scientific fact that psychotropic drugs damage the brain and the rest of the body in ways that have yet to be fully explained. These drugs are not “placebos.” They are drugs. You know that as well as anyone. Are drugs good for the brain? No. Do they damage the brain? Yes. Is that brain damage a psychiatric disease? No. Is psychiatry responsible for these crimes? Yes.
You claim that ECT is different because it clearly fries the brain. In a different, though similarly painful way, drugs CLEARLY fry the brain. An electrical current is different from chemical interventions, but that doesn’t mean that chemical interventions are harmless. And just as a side note, if you buy into the “Autism” myth, you have already bought into the psychiatric paradigm that you so ardently claim to oppose.
Brain damage isn’t measured merely by the symptoms that you mention, such as tics, etc. We may not fully understand how psychotropic, neurotoxic drugs damage the brain, but unless we admit that the drugs were designed to do just that, namely, damage the brain, then we are already taking the side of psychiatry.
Another point. Any use of the term “side-effects” demonstrates a lack of understanding concerning psychotropic drugs. The term “side-effects” is a misnomer because it assumes that psychotropic drugs have some primary therapeutic value, which is simply false. These drugs are not “medications” with “side-effects.” The so-called “side-effects” ARE THE INTENDED EFFECTS of the drugs, but they are called “side-effects” in order to create the illusion that the other effects of the drugs, such as sedation or stimulation, are the primary, intended effects of the drugs.
May i ask you what “mental illness” is for you then? Because as for me I clearly know that I had a very strange reaction, a psychosis, and although the experience had a lot of value hidden in its symbology I would still call it an illness. Even in shaman cultures where psychosis is seen as a sign for a shamanic talent, the initial confused state is seen as a sickness that needs to be overcome to develop the talent. When you write that the drugs cause the illness, what about the first episodes of depression or mania or psychosis or whatever? Do you have the opinion that mental illness do not exist and are some form of discrimination? Which is plausible in some cases like it was with homosexuality which is not a mental illness. And I agree, that it is a very difficult thing to determine what is just normal and what is not. Oh, and please don’t look to critical on my writing and usage of terminology because English is not my mother tongue and it is difficult to find words that truly convey what I want to say and also hit the right tone because I do not know about subtleties of wording.
For me if I take your view it would feel as if I tried to mask my original struggles, my psychotic thinking and exaggerated behaviour. I do feel ashamed that I lost control but I want this feeling as long as it is in a right measure/degree. It is needed for me to develop myself so that it will never happen again. I never ever want to get psychotic again. And if I do not own my experience I will never become independent I feel. That doesn’t mean that I am totally responsible for my reaction, it was caused by many outside factors, but it also happened because I was inexperienced how to cope with these outside factors in a functional way. I should have left the abusive relationship and come back only after my partner accepted therapy. But I was naive. And thought I am invincible. So maybe you could explain to me how you see mental illness.
Please read the comment phoenix made at 8:38 AM today to understand my true views, since I think I haven’t made myself clear, and phoenix’s various comments do a much better job of it. And by “side effects”, I refer to effects on other parts of the body than the brain. Of course the shutting down of all thoughts/feelings/initiative/behaviors, or oppression, is the purpose of these drugs.
I don’t know why you avoid all the substantive questions Lawrence. A lot depends on what you mean by “permanent” damage. It is quite possible, and even likely, that the brain damage caused by drugs may be permanent in some respects, but that a person may still fully recover from the trauma and even develop new strengths. Sadly, Phoenix, like many victims of psychiatric abuse, still adheres to a pro-psychiatry paradigm, a paradigm that your present theory fully supports.
“Of course the shutting down of all thoughts/feelings/initiative/behaviors, or oppression, is the purpose of these drugs.” Not quite. These are the RESULTS of the drugging. The immediate EFFECTS are to DAMAGE receptors, neurons, and various parts of the human brain. The virus analogy doesn’t hold. The hammer analogy is more appropriate.
Of course you are free to launch your very tenuous hypothesis. But your case is made worse by the attempt to connect such a tenuous, pro-psychiatry hypothesis with anything that is truly antipsychiatry.
Phoenix. I have empathy and sympathy for your dilemma. I would recommend reading anything written by Robert Whitaker or Peter Breggin. After that, read Thomas Szasz’ “The Myth of Mental Illness.” That is a good starting point.
You hit Dr. K. over the head with a sledge hammer and he’s out cold for three days.
The sledge hammer is not actually to blame for any brain damage. That’s because Dr.K. loafed around in bed for three days not doing anything.
Tsk tsk, Dr.K. Why were you foolish enough to be around Slaying_the_Dragon in the first place? Don’t you realize that by your needy and naive behavior you were BEGGING him to hit your head with a sledge hammer?
No more whining about your head ache. Up and at ’em.
Rather than swim against the tide of mad peoples’ knowledge and experience, consider the virtues of humbleness and self-forgiveness.
We all have some so-called recovery to work on.
All that you are writing here is an index to what psychologist’s call, rationalisation. I can kind of appreciate why you are choosing this self-defence. Your truck in life was once to administer brain-disabling treatments. You will be more easily forgiven and maybe will be better able to forgive yourself if you face up to the fullness of what these drugs do to people and, by implication, what you have personally been involved in.
Behind you, in your past, will be many, many victims, who to this day are still struggling with the disabling effects of treatment.
Acknowledge them. Respect them. Allow them their full humanity, their fullness as human beings. Saving your conscience from the travails of guilt and shame is not more important than the many shattered lives and ruined souls that you’ve undoubtedly left in your wake.
I respect that you have left all that behind. But your attempts here to rationalise all that carnage leaves a bitter taste.
We are here to help one another. Some of your message I can get along with, is important. But we owe a duty to one another in the survivor movement to help one another grow, and one cannot grow if one does not embrace authenticity. Embrace authenticity and growth will occur. And this as true for you as anyone.
As far as I know, there has been no demonstrated brain damage found to account for these side effects.
“Side-effects”? C’mon Lawrence, ALL drug reactions are EFFECTS, not “side” effects. Anyway are you claiming that tardive dyskinesia is not brain damage? Can you cite any neurotoxicologists who would support your hypotheses regarding all this?
Dragonslayer: cant find the reply button on your comment, but cheers mate ^^
One comment to purpose and effect and result and damage because you seem so very keen on words and interpretation: I was trained in natural science and now technical domains and mathematics… Where precise and objective thinking is a requirement, being sloppy is not working when programming machines that have no leeway of interpreting syntax and meaning. Its very human to fight over (political) interpretation and wording, but when working in a technical field you need to understand the concept and not debate about everything because it needs to work. You immediatly see if something was true or false because it functions or it does not. ‘damage’ in many cases is prone to your point of view, because if I break connections or dwlete files it could also be a necessary process although it interupts functionality. Damage for me means senseless destruction. At least this wasn’t on the minds of those who ‘treated’ me. They were convinced of something thus it was wrong but not senseless. It gets harder considering ECT for instance but I am tired of discussing semantics. Maybe you sort of get what I mean…
From what I read, it’s thought that in TD the brain’s physiology is dysfunctional as a result of drug exposure, rather than there being actual tissue or anatomical damage. But I admit to not being that knowledgeable about TD; my blog focused on cognitive decline and weight gain. And the last thing I want to do is seem like I am minimizing how chronic sedative use ruins people’s lives. I’m just suggesting that they ruin lives via a different mechanism than is widely thought, one that may be at least somewhat recoverable from with patience and hard work.
“And the last thing I want to do is seem like I am minimizing how chronic sedative use ruins people’s lives.” But that’s precisely what your article did, which is why there was such a pronounced reaction to your claims.
“I’m just suggesting that they ruin lives via a different mechanism than is widely thought, one that may be at least somewhat recoverable from with patience and hard work.” And what is this elusive “mechanism” of which you write? We really ought to begin with what is already known, much of which has been outlined in the work of Burstow, Moncrieff, and Breggin. We can also begin with the testimonies of victims of psychiatry. When they tell you about their experiences, they are not making them up. It is an insult to the immense suffering of psychiatric survivors to claim that recovery is simply a matter of patience and hard work, as if the drugs were just a little glitch to get through. Perhaps you didn’t mean it that way, but that’s how many commenters seemed to understand your arguments.
No one who has not experienced psychotropic drugging first hand can possibly begin to fathom the intensity of the suffering that that results from such psychiatric abuse. That is why there is such a terrible disconnect between so-called “professionals,” even the best of them, and actual victims of psychiatry.
Thanks for your reply. While I can’t refute your assertion that cognitive decline is directly caused by brain damage, you also can’t refute that it is caused by the drugs. Studies that have been done have specifically correlated the use of benzos and antipsychotics with cognitive decline. I am not aware of any studies that correlate cognitive decline with institutionalization. I also know of nothing that compares institutionalization to psych drug use as relates to cognitive decline.
So given the data to date, the hypothesis that cognitive decline is associated with psych drug use IS supported by evidence, if not conclusively. There is also ancillary evidence from drug abuse studies showing long-term cognitive decline with alcohol and other drugs, and alcohol is particularly similar to benzos in its effects and mechanism of aciton.
Your hypothesis is not supported by any evidence at all that I am aware of. So it seems very rational to me, and not brain-blaming in the least, to say that damage from psych drugs is or at least is likely to contribute to difficulties in recovering from psychiatric “treatment.” This is VERY different from saying that someone’s brain is damaged at birth due to some theoretical “chemical imbalance” that is unsupported by even the slightest degree of evidence, or that diagnoses like “major depressive disorder” and “ADHD” are real disorders despite no evidence that people in such subjective groupings have anything in common with each other. It’s hard to understand why the difference is not as obvious to you as it is to me. One case involves an actual, physical substance being put into the body and measurable differences in cognitive ability being associated with using that specific drug. The other case involves using subjective social constructs to create groupings of people having no known connection besides their behavior, and postulating brain damage in the complete absence of any evidence whatsoever. Do those sound the same to you, Lawrence? Is it so hard to see why it would be insulting and infuriating to be accused of the latter type of assertion, when actually working from real evidence measured from real events that happen to someone’s body in the real world?
I would be very interested to know if there is any actual data to support your hypothesis. Until I hear such data, I’d say “Occam’s Razor” applies here. The most likely explanation is the simplest one: the drugs cause the decline in cognitive ability. The drugs directly impact the brain, brain damage from other drugs has already been shown to occur (Tardive Dyskinesia is only one example of many), there is a correlation directly between these drugs and cognitive decline. Any alternative explanation needs some kind of evidence beyond that you think it’s probably true.
You keep saying that the strong correlation of drug use with cognitive decline suggests that drugs damage the brain. But as I’ve said, adults who are on drugs can’t use their cognitive skills since their brains are too sedated to do so, so their cognitive skills will expectably gradually decline from continual disuse. And kids on drugs predictably won’t develop cognitive skills since they’re too sedated to do so. How could a chemically-impaired brain learn or remember anything? So there’s no need to theorize about direct biological causation (brain damage). It’s simple logic. Besides, there’s no evidence that psych drugs directly kill brain tissue.
This reminds me of biological psychiatry’s claim that since “mental illnesses” run in families, they must be genetically produced. This completely ignores how kids emulate, mimic, and are taught coping styles by their families, so of course they’ll pick up traits that are part of their family culture. How could they learn ways of living other than what they’re exposed to? Again, no need to theorize about biological causation (genetic predetermination). Again, simple logic explains it. Besides, no “mental illness” genes have been discovered. I’m having deja vu all over again. Checkmate (That’s for Dragonslayer).
“Simple logic” is not science. Science is built on evidence. You present no evidence whatsoever. For instance, saying “chemically impaired brains can’t learn or remember anything.” You provide zero evidence for this assertion. Logic would suggest that what can or can’t be learned would differ depending on who is drugged, how drugged they are, what they are drugged with, how long they are on the drugs, what they are taught, etc, etc. There are far too many variables to even make such a statement, let alone evidence to support it. It’s kind of ironic that you’re criticizing my evidence as potentially circumstantial, and yet running solely on your own “logic” without any evidence whatsoever.
In summary, your assertion that cognitive decline MUST BE due to disuse and atrophy, and CANNOT BE due to the drugs, is completely unsupported speculation. It COULD be due to disuse and atrophy, but it COULD also be due to drug use, and only an experiment controlling other variables and testing this question could say for sure. As a result, your assertion that people supporting the idea that drugs COULD cause cognitive decline are somehow unwitting supporters of biological psychiatry is ridiculous. There is evidence to support the possible link between cognitive decline and long-term drug use. There is NO evidence supporting the idea that DSM diagnoses are due to brain diseases, and plenty of evidence (and logic) that they are not. There is and can be absolutely no comparison.
Here is just one example of many where evidence of a connection between long-term drug use and cognitive decline is presented:
I’ve been testing my hypothesis: reading Lawrence’s speculative article and comments causes cognitive decline. There seems to be much evidence thus far to support the conclusion that Lawrence’s writing of this speculative article and comments was a result of cognitive decline, but thus far, miraculously, Steve and others do not seem to have experienced the same cognitive decline while reading them.
Joking aside, allow me to lay to rest the false and damaging notion that “adults who are on drugs can’t use their cognitive skills since their brains are too sedated to do so, so their cognitive skills will expectably gradually decline from continual disuse.” First of all, Lawrence would need to define what it means to be “on drugs.” Is this a person who takes who takes an Ambien every so often, or a is this someone who has been riddled with ritalin, adderall, or subjected to polypharmacy and forced injections? Then he would have to define “cognitive skills.” Even drugged up human beings use plenty of “cognitive skills,” and as I mentioned earlier, it might take more brain power just to operate on a basic level. What is meant by “too sedated.” A person’s brain cannot be “sedated” unless something is “sedating” it, and that “sedation” is the result of a real interaction between a chemical compound and the brain. Next, I think that the word that Lawrence was looking for was “expectedly.”
In any case, the simple truth that can’t be avoided is that psychiatry CAUSES damage to the brain’s of its victims, first by the direct impact of psychotropic, neurotoxic drugs, and secondly by convincing its victims that the natural responses to the drugging is just a manifestation of some mysterious, underlying “mental illness.” Even worse, psychiatry then blames the victims of psychotropic drugging and psychiatric labeling for the suffering that they experience as a result of psychiatric interventions.
“How could a chemically-impaired brain learn or remember anything?” Lawrence, I thought that you didn’t believe that drugs can chemically impair the brain. At least that’s what your article and previous comments seem to imply. Do drugs chemically impair the brain or not? Yes. They do.
Lawrence’s speculations are not only tenuous at best, but they are also an affront to the victims of psychotropic drugging. Victims of psychotropic drugging come from all walks of life. I would venture to argue that if psychiatry had developed its arsenal of brain damaging drugs much earlier, many of the great minds of the past might have been destroyed. Actually, many great minds were destroyed by psychiatry in the past anyhow, and many more are being destroyed in the present. There are young Lincolns, Einsteins, Mozarts, Rembrandts, and Miltons whose brains have been assaulted by psychiatrists, and who may never recover or live long enough to fully overcome psychiatric abuse. This is a travesty of colossal proportions.
One last thing. Just as a personal testimony, I can guarantee our MIA audience that when I was forced to drop out of school, not just once, but twice, and when the suffering caused by the drugs was so severe that death would have seemed sweet to me at the time – I can guarantee you that what I experienced was not “cognitive decline due to disuse.” It was torture, abuse, and drugging. I didn’t have difficulty reading because I had stopped trying to read. For a time, the drugs made it next to impossible to read, to sleep, to have normal emotions, and good relationships. Like many victims of psychotropic drugging, I struggled with all my might just to survive and finally to escape the foul clutches of psychiatry. Thus my brain, along with the rest of me, grew stronger under the shackles of psychiatry. If we want to talk about disuse and atrophy, we might want to consider the disuse and atrophy of the brains and consciences of psychiatrists and mental health workers. It may still be possible for psychiatrists to recover from the disuse and atrophy of their brains and their consciences, but since their salary depends on such disuse and atrophy, recovery can be very difficult.
Great post, SlayingtheDragon! I think I’ve said my piece and will leave it at that. Your support is greatly appreciated!
Years ago, I came across literature discussing tardive dyskinesia as a result of manganese deficiency brought on by “antipsychotic” therapy. What you won’t enjoy is the realization that tardive dyskinesia can be prevented by adding 2mg Mn to every tablet used for such treatments.
Which of course no manufacturer or psychiatrist (well, the overwhelming majority, anyway) would be willing to even consider for a second. It would appear they are not really interested in solving anything at all. I guess the status quo is working for them, even if it is killing off their clients.
Let’s be glad about that. “OK take your poison — and don’t forget the magnesium supplements!” Sheesh! 🙁
I escaped with minimal TD damage. I have ticks like pill rolling that won’t go away, but I can hide them in public by keeping my hands clasped or hidden.
A beautiful, intelligent, funny friend of mine suddenly got horrible, disfiguring TD. She couldn’t think straight anymore either.
This motivated me to continue my taper. The whole thing scared me since I had been told repeatedly I would run around like a rabid dog, unable to talk and biting people without my “meds.”
I escaped a month later.
my psychiatrist thinks that anti-psychiatry is the wrong way to go…
he believes there is good and bad in psychiatry…
he wants to take down the bad stuff…
you take down the bad stuff with evidence and facts..
and you keep pushing the evidence in every way possible…
but you are wrong in taking down the good…
The drugs in that release are also sedating. That can’t be just coincidence. The odds are astronomically against every single drug associated with cognitive decline coincidentally also happening to be sedating. There must be some connection -what could it possibly be? The odds are astronomically in favor of this being explained by the chronic sedation itself, by virtue of its continually preventing people from using their cognitive abilities, leading to gradual decline of those abilities. Use it or lose it. Thank you for providing more logical proof for me.
“Sedating” is a euphemism for causing severe damage to the brain. Psychiatry revels in euphemisms.
Tell me how you can “chronically sedate” people without drugs? I just say if institutionalization itself is bad, with drugs it’s much, much worse. When a ‘drug free treatment’ is not an option, here’s another example of the extent to which people are deprived of their freedom (i.e. civil liberties), and in this particular case, it has had a tragic consequences on their overall physical health. Just look at the recent studies showing people in treatment dying at an age on average 15 to 25 years younger than the rest of the population. Were something done about this drugging, you’d be saving lives. Institutionalization by itself is just not that deadly.
Lawrence, your defenses of psych drugs have been pretty clearly refuted. I think you might be dealing with some ego issues at this point.
In other words, you have no scientific data to back up your “obvious” conclusion. Sorry, but “checkmate.”
Exactly. But I really hope that none of our disagreements will encourage Lawrence to go on a wild goose chase after “scientific data” for such a poorly conceived hypothesis. That wild goose chase would lead nowhere, and be even less fruitful than the hopeless psychiatric witch hunt for so-called “biological markers” for mythical “mental illness.” I’m sure that those of us who are truly antipsychiatry would still be happy to have Lawrence come back to the side of the truth in defense of victims of psychiatry.
I certainly would. And honestly, I don’t think we need scientific proof that institutionalization is bad! It is BAD! So let’s get on with fighting it and stop bickering about whether psych drugs cause “cell death” or “temporary brain damage” or “sedation leading to atrophy.” They are also BAD for your brain and your spirit! Science can assist us in the battle, but truth transcends science, and we all know the truth: labeling, drugging and incarcerating people for feeling or acting in inconvenient ways is BAD!
Ditto to that ditto.
Steve, if incarceration is “BAD” then why are they pushing for more “hospitals” and why do so many people call it “care” when it’s not?
I talk to a lot of people who have never known what it’s like inside one of those places. When I reveal to them the very basics, that the wards are locked, that people stay for months at a time never seeing daylight, that people are deprived of human rights, treated like animals and the therapy consists of Bingo games, they are shocked and they tell me this is an outrage. “Why is this still going on?” they ask me. “You mean our taxes pay for this?”
Well, perhaps I should qualify that it is BAD for those incarcerated. It provides income and status and power for those who run the asylum. The reasons it continue include 1) people make money out of it , 2) people get to feel superior, 3) people get to take out their aggressive feelings on those less powerful and feel OK about it, 4) society gets to scapegoat the “mentally ill” and avoid having to deal with the real challenges of our society. There are probably more reasons, but they all kind of fit into that mold, I think. There is no patient-centered reason why mental hospitals should be the way they are. Even if one could justify arresting and incarcerating someone on the speculative ground of “danger to self or others,” the conditions in the average psych ward, as you describe, are anything but healing. If the people in charge really cared, these institutions would look very different.
I believe the longterm jail population in the US is about 1 million, with jails being run by the private sector.
Standards in “Mental health care” have been falling over the years to the extent, that now – any type of standard “would be acceptable”. So there is a real private sector “incarceration solution” available for “the mental health problem”.
“Psychiatric facilities” the private sector has been competing to run for some time now, too, so it isn’t just prisons. It’s psychiatric prisons as well. When the state can get somebody else to pay for it, the state tends to be okay with that, especially when you’ve got politicians with their hands in the kitty. In Florida, for example, governor Rick Scott has some kind of vested interest in “mental health” “privatization”.
Frank, I can’t find your other comment and I know I should be posting under that one. While it is obvious that drugging causes earlier deaths, causes disabling effects such as diabetes and more, we cannot ignore the rampant corruption in the therapy and “help” industry. I know this from my brief stint as “life coach.” While my training was genuine and did teach good principles, in real life I’d say for sure, ethics go out the window. From what I observed in over three decades as insider/patient, therapists totally love to get people hooked on therapy! This is how they make a buck, and about the only way they make a buck. Get clients, get customers, keep your customers. Get your numbers up, which is another way of saying ensure they show up for appointments otherwise you lose your job. Bribe, threaten, lie if you have to. I have seen them charging insurance for appointments that never happened, or making claims that dubious therapy methods are actually effective, then, when these methods don’t work, blaming the patient for their “attitude problem” or claiming the patient “isn’t ready for therapy.” And sexual abuse is so under-reported it is a joke. The patient is psychotic or has a personality disorder or looking for attention.
The harms of therapy alone are undestated here on MIA. They kinda have to be since so many MIA subscribers practice therapy themselves. I have talked to a few. They claim therapy is great since therapy does not use drugs. Some are clueless and have never heard of therapy addiction. They don’t even realize that therapy causes dependency on therapy, that is, they are teaching terrible habits without usiing a single drug.
I know a few patients who actually think it’s great they got off drugs, but they never learned to make their own decisions because they’re hooked on therapy. They turn to case managers to make any decisions for them, or to drive them around like they need chauffeurs (because they never learned to take public transit) or do their cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping for them when they need to learn to do this themselves. Hey, Now We Are Six….But the mental health professionals didn’t like it when we reminded them we’re legally adults and have adult human rights. Because if we were allowed to do for ourselves and end the insulting handouts they’d be out of a job.
Frank, that’s what it is.
I thought a lot about your pointing out that I had no scientific evidence for institutionalization’s occurrence. I realized that not only do I have none, but that no pro- or anti-psychiatry theory, or even any psychological theory, will ever be scientifically provable, since not only is our field not within medicine, it’s by definition outside of the sciences as well. We only deal with arbitrary perceptions and value judgments. They’re mere concepts which we create, markedly vary according to the eye of the beholder, are constantly changing, and are only used in certain cultures. Thus, I can call you “crazy” since you disagree with me, and you can call me “crazy” since I disagree with you. So all hypotheses about such random, non-existent premises will never be testable.
What we discuss should be within the humanities, since it’s more like philosophy. Trying to scientifically understand and explain abstract ideas like “depression” or “psychosis” makes no sense; you can’t discover the cause of something that only exists as a conceptual perception. This would be as ridiculous as starting with a premise that certain types of music/art are inherently “good” and others are inherently “bad”, and then trying to fudge together some “scientific data” to support your preferences. But perhaps even this is being done?
A good observation. Science can only go so far. At a certain point, we’re really talking about philosophy. What becomes important is what we VALUE rather than what is objectively true, or rather, objective truth only becomes available in the context of what we value and prioritize. If you’ve never read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” you should. He goes right at this question of “What is Best?” and comes up with some valuable conclusions. Among them, he very effectively debunks the idea that science is or can be “value free” – what we consider a “good hypothesis” or a “true result” is determined in part by what we think is “good.” It’s a great read.
I should mention that the author of “Zen and the Art…”, Robert Pirsig, is an ECT survivor whose personality and historical memory was completely erased by the process, and he unravels his amazing philosophical discoveries during a motorcycle trip with his son during which he gradually rediscovers reclaims his true self that was taken from him by the psychiatrists. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and would be very meaningful to anyone recovering from the grasp of psychiatric abuse.
Technically, I would understand it the way that its not related to total nerve damage/destruction but the way Lawrence describes it, there is disruption to the original functionality, communication error and misfiring and probably too much traffic on other pathways to cope with the dirsupted ones, leading to overload, triggering other functionalities to misfunction. That too means damage, I think Lawrence is not really arguing about all the detrimental effects of neuroleptica. In my view he rather tries to discuss the idea, that malfunction resulting from an outbalanced, disrupted system can be restored, even if it means much work and in severe cases much creativity. This is very different from real permanent destruction because of dead brain cells.
See, if somebody takes the computer that hosts my webserver and takes a hammer to destroy its harddisk, there is no way I could repair it. But if he or she only introduces a virus or deletes some files or overwrites some connections, there still is a way to get the system working again. The decisive aspect of this issue is how much work, knowledge, ressources, and effort it takes to acchieve this. Thus, as I interpret his blog post by now, he tried to make us understand, that if we insist on permanent damage done, this is similar to the bio-psychiatrist’s approach of explaining the original “malfunctioning” by a given brain illness caused by malformed genes – a sort of construction error. Thats like jumping out of the frying pan into fire. Before you were deemed having a broken brain from birth and afterwards you are told that your brain was fine but unfortunately now its not anymore. Instead we should focus on repairing the disrupted system by finding the causes for original malfunctioning, that could very well be (partly) physiological (hormones, gut bacteria, what have you…) or due to social causes (that influence the physiological system). Then, we need to find out, how the psychiatric treatment further caused damage, but it is very important to understand what kind of damage we are talking about. Irreversible damage like destruction is a tough subject, like the completely destroyed hard disk, where there is nothing you can do anymore but buy a new one and try to rewrite everything that was on that hard disk. But if its ‘only’ wiring and “overwritten or outdated files” and connection pathways, hope still exists. You can retrieve much data even from a very corrupted hard disk, repair the disk and make it work again, as long as it is not torn into peaces completely. And then you can reestablish the original system, allthough it might be much effort and not always possible due to missing resources or expert knowledge.
Of course, as a concerned person who has been harmed by the psychiatric system, it is not easy to listen to this concept because there is so much anger – or as someone framed it above, even fury and rage like in Inglorious Bastards, a feeling I know – about what has been done to us. So much shaming and degrading and taken away what comes so naturally to brainwise “healthy” people. As Julie tells in her many posts, it is just so unfair what a person labeled as mentally ill has to go through in terms of humiliation and difficulties regarding things that are perfectly normal and a given to others. We get treated like we are stupid and incapable just related to just about everything. We are not allowed to have mood swings or just be grumpy or high on a good feeling. We are watched with suspicion on just about every thing that we do. And the worst thing is, that we ourselves adapt this attitude which makes it hard to relax and let yourself be the way you are. This gives way to an awefull lot of frustration and I think Lawrence got his share of that frustration as a reaction to the perceived insensitivity of his idea. As far as I can see, it just hurts that he spotted that by passively remaining in the victim-role nobody of us “mental patients” will ever get back to being healthy and capable of thriving (in comparison to merely functioning or getting by while still grieving what happened to us and complaining of how hard it is for us). As I said in another comment above, what happened to us is incredibly unfair but most of the world doesn’t care and never will. And even if they did, it wouldn’t completely help us. Because it cannot make undone what humilation and damaging treatment we had to endure and it will defenitely not be a solution for the original problems that caused our “mad” reaction. Yes, we needed help and were further burdened and even made disfunctional, intensifying and prolonging our suffering. The ideal treatment would most probably be a secure and relaxed atmosphere that would allow for “getting back on our feet and getting back to normal” by providing a safe but not a restricting environment as long as it takes to make the symptoms of mental illness subside. A pause, to become strong again, and afterwards help and support in coping with whatever situation we failed to get by in a constructive manner before the symptoms showed up.
Often when I read comments from other survivors of psychiatry on this board I can hear and feel the pain they carry. Its a pain about having been rejected for whatever struggle they had. I know about this pain, there is nothing worse than be deemed a second class human because there is something not quite ok with your brain. This humiliation goes so unbelievable deep and it may well be the primary reason for deterioration. In my opinion, there will never be a true “mad pride”, because becoming mad is nothing to be proud of. It is a severe reaction to traumatic events, things that hurt you so much, that you were not able to function anymore. It is also not something to be ashamed about or that can be attributed to individual fault. Very often the trauma is within a social construct and its just a combination of various factors that lets one individual of that social construct break down. The one who is the most vulnerable at that moment or the one who happens to be on that part of that social construct that experiences the most pressure… It is something that needs to be seen and treated. It is pointless for me, to celebrate my breakdown, rather I am celebrating overcoming it. We don’t need mad pride, we need a well-thought-out way to recovery. Is there a “cancer-pride” movement? No. We need the shame in experiencing a mental illness to stop, but it is still an illness. It doesn’t help to identify oneself with being mad, even if we try to describe it as “special” or “having my own mind” or “being different, more sensitive”, whatever. This in my opinion is just a reaction of having been rejected by society. The pain makes us react with a sort of “ok, you don’t like me, so I pretend to be happy without you!”. I like exotic people, but it should come from the heart and the core of your being rather than stem from having been hurt and discriminated.
And with all that I think Lawrence wanted to show that it is very important to leave the victim position and focus on total recovery instead. Although I am feeling the same rage and want to voice the unfair treatment I received to just about anyone to get the much needed human attention and warmth (which is the opposite to beeing stigmatised and shunned by society), this again would mean to rely on the reaction and perspective of other people. If I would always stress the unfair treatment I received in the last 7 years, the hardship, the difficulties, the setbacks, I would stay a very lonely and isolated person that has no chance to truly be accepted back as a fully capable person. I would stay the victim. And thats not beccause people out there are all bad. Complaining and lamenting doesn’t help in everyday life, as hard as it is, especially when it was so much unfair treatment that one received. I identify as a psychiatric survivor and I could see a “psychiatric survivor pride”-movement. Therefore, I think we should get financial compensation for the medical error that lead to so much suffering (social stigma, social decline related to job chances and lost years of “unconsciousness” including all kinds of physiological problems from side-effects of heavy drugging). But we need to stop the bitter tone. Subconscious guilt of psychiatrist might be a factor in their behavour of denial, but nobody will ever listen if we come full of anger presenting as a victim. We are heard when we present ourselves as balanced, clearheaded, calm and coherent. Not forgiving but also without bitter judgement. I am sorry, if I offended anyone with my opinion. My intention is to find a way of strength. I am done with feeling belittled and humiliated. And I very much want the world to know about the medical errors of psychiatry. And I don’t want them – the psychiatric personnel, the police officers that dragged me away, the family members and friends that tried to get me to comply with standard treatment, etc. – to be humiliated or tortured themselves, no, I simply want them to pay. By law. Its none of my business, what opinion they individually have and if they believe in a broken brain or not. If the treatment that is given today is legally accepted as a severe medical error and if I would get compensation for the lost years and immense suffering I had to endure, I would just shrug my shoulders and go on and catch up with life. It would be official that I was treated wrong and nobody would ever try to do it to me again. So I would be freed from the constant fear to be locked up again.
In real time reality what is Lawrence Kelmenson, MD offering us that we don’t already have enough of. Therapy ?
So how much has changed for the better since World War 1? We have for the great most part the increasing epidemic of psychiatry and we have compliance monitored by social workers with the real threat of being referred back to more drastic measures by the psychiatrist if compliance to the present psychiatric orders are not followed , as determined by the social worker. Now with the looming/actual added threat of unwanted home visits and the added threat of being forced into local Guantanamo like camera and voice recorder 24/7 monitored behavioral control facilities if not compliant in “regular” local mental institutions. While at the same time the Pharma Cartel is developing even more deadly neurotoxins and electrical devices to apply to our brains . Considering all the additional neurotoxins (those identified and not) “contributed” by industry. It must be that the human being has more potential resilience and drive to freedom than psychiatry wishes. Myself having been captured by psychiatry , forced in and even escaped out of institutions 6 times among numerous other forced stays and forced “treatments” including one series of 15 ESTorture in one institution and in another country’s institution out of the USA, forced injections till breath is stopped in retaliation after being recaptured after unauthorized escape, having evidently reached the status as available subject it was ok to do life threatening experiments on for the benefit of the state , satisfying their need to develop more effective interrogation techniques for their own and the US military. What about those electric shock devices used in Canton , Mass. on 80 out of 240 disabled people including children as described in detail in MIA’s blog on March 9, 2018 Massachusetts -Torture .
During 39 years between the ages 16 and 55 psychiatry still had some kind of a hold on me . Now that I’m 71 I realize psychiatry itself is a growing holocaust.
How many people is Lawrence weaning off neurotoxins? Does he even know how to do it ? On what basis does he disagree with Breggin ? You telling me he doesn’t even realize psychiatric neurotoxins and their prescribers and suppliers need to take responsibility for their part in mass school shootings , suicides , murders ,and violence ? Why aren’t psychiatrists that say they are different and kinder and gentler and care about us even more and say they are more knowledgeable than the mainstream psychiatrists , not demonstrating together on our behalf… using activist techniques like Code Pink used for the women’s rights cause in the white house , congress ,at APA meetings,universities, and elsewhere ? Then maybe we could begin to believe that dissident psychiatrists are for real and not primarily and secondarily interested in their own financial security and in their own power place in the pecking order.
Toward psychiatry there must be defiance ! Just even the words Anti-Psychiatry bothers them . Just think if it was properly activated by an educated population !
Who needs free access to organically grown foods , water distillers , green plant powder supplements ,top quality vitamins and minerals , nutriceuticals, advanced heavy mental free dental work , ,psychiatry free zones,natural healers ,traditional naturopaths, chiropractors, traditional chinese medicine, energy healers , acupuncturists, etc. ,that which first does no harm, more than those who have been tortured by psychiatry , big pharma , and the government. Show us the money !
Sorry I meant to write ( advanced heavy metal free , dental work )
below is an interesting link
Then choose what you wish from the list :for example :
Permanent muscle twitching from antipsychotics Tardive Dyskinesia and Tardive Dystonia
Why aren’t psychiatrists that say they are different and kinder and gentler and care about us even more and say they are more knowledgeable than the mainstream psychiatrists , not demonstrating together on our behalf… using activist techniques like Code Pink used for the women’s rights cause in the white house , congress ,at APA meetings, universities, and elsewhere ?
Hard to say — or maybe not so hard. What this points out is that ultimately we must take the lead.
i did read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, along with works by various other philosophers prior to starting psychiatric training. I never understood why we students entering the “happiness business” weren’t advised to study some philosophy before or during our training. Freud himself felt that the capacity for “free human insight” was crucial for a therapist.
Time to read Karl Kraus, a contemporary of Freud who understood what he was up to.
Great suggestion! I found Freud to be egoistical and consumed with creating a. false medical science. Freud was a Jewish man who was discriminated in his time. He found a way to make himself important. I spent a year reading his work and just found a lack of care and appreciation for the patients he treated. I found him to be condescending toward his patients. Smart man undoubtedly but troubled himself. Perhaps too much cocaine use.
Knowledgeispower, I suspect Freud did quite a bit of projecting himself! In fact, so did many of my “therapists.” I remember one of them accused me of lying, accused me sneaking, accused me of manipulation…..Wow she must have been looking straight in the mirror. In fact, given her level of narcissism, she likely looked in it all day!
Szazs had some wry stuff to say about Siggy. He certainly was full of himself–and very devoted to his mommy. 🙂
Lawrence — Why ultimately does the exact mechanism of neurotoxic brain dysfunction matter? It’s like focusing on fission vs. fusion as they pertain to nuclear weaponry. The bottom line is that PSYCH DRUGS FUCK PEOPLE UP, regardless of whether it is possible to recover, something which seems to vary. There is no evidence to prove that those who don’t are simply the victims of their own negative projections (not that this never happens).
What’s more immediate to me is finding a way to lift the media blackout on the homicidal effects of psych drugs. One or two well-placed signs in a “March For Our Lives” could have an immense effect. Meanwhile be sure to check out the Dr. Oz show on April 10!
I personally want financial compensation for being kept on disability when clearly I was not disabled. Were those doctors crazy? Delusional, I guess. Or just wanted to stay in business…… I keep wondering what the total lost wages would be for over 35 years, and counting since what they did affects my ability to get hired now.
Dr. K this article seems to pose a false and unnecessary dichotomy.
Do drugs damage brains or does segregation and enforced idleness?
Hmm. How about both?
You see this as unduly pessimistic; I do not.
Recovery from brain injury happens all the time. Why else do stroke victims go through therapy?
Full recovery after 20-30 years is unlikely. But every bit counts.
Good points Rachell777.
another cause of outpatient deterioration….
my psychiatrist believes that he and the person have total confidentiality..
just like the lawyer has…why not the psychiatrist…
my psychiatrist also believes that psychiatry should be talking about
biology———healthy eating and healthy exercise and healthy
relationships…see dr lustig book the Hacking of the American Mind..
William Glasser also believed poor relationships caused most “creative symptoms” or “mental illness.”
yes rachel777….I learned from that psychiatrist/glasser
about the 7 caring habits….
which I try to use in treating—-the side that blames myself….
Thanks, Rachel, for your comment. I do agree that poor relationships especially abusive and toxic relationships can cause and contribute to severe mental symptoms of depression and anxiety and even psychosis. Alcoholism and addiction to drugs are often from attachment issues.
How does one learn how to have healthy relationships? Therapy certainly can be helpful in understanding relationship patterns, childhood family dynamics and with healing trauma, as well as learning what healthy relationships are. I think everyone can relate to relationship issues at certain times, whether with spouse, parent, one’s child, supervisor, etc. Life can be very difficult at times. Understanding, acceptance, love is needed but all of us.
How one relates to relationships with institutions of society such as school, work, church and one’s community are vital as well. Those can become unhealthy as well. Bibliotherapy and support groups can be very helpful. Having a meaningful role on society, i.e. caregiver, worker, student, volunteer, parent, can bring purpose.
Oftentimes I know in my own life I have had to take a hard look at myself and reassess my values, my career goals, my health and nutrition, finances, and my relationships and find ways to continue to grow and change. I continually want to be a better partner, friend, sister, daughter, worker, community member, etc. Healing and growth takes courage and self reflection but also resources. I wish more funds for “mental health” went to supporting and building more caring and supportive communities. Disconnection is harmful.
Being labeled “severely mentally ill” is a great way to ruin relationships.
The drugs make you loonier than Minnesota in the spring. Your loving family sees it and calls the “doctor” in distress.
“The meds have been proven 100% safe and effective,” he parrots. “X must be skipping doses on the sly or there would be no problems.”
They accuse you of skipping the “meds” since that’s the only possible explanation you’re worse than ever. With tears in your eyes, you protest. You take these pills religiously. But to no avail.
Then you contemplate suicide. Must be your “mental illness” to blame since multiple mini-seizures, having your nearest and dearest turn on you, an inability to read or enjoy anything, and profound social isolation could never lead to despair. 😛
Well said, Rachel777! I am impressed with your humor and intelligence. How crazy making, disempowering and demeaning to label someone with a diagnosis that is not evidenced-based, is really a short-term problem in most cases, a temporary reaction to an environmental stressor, and then the treatment is a medication that causes side effects that are disabling and makes you even sicker, feel worse about yourself causing more isolation. I am so sorry for the hurt and pain you endured. I see it all too often. Peace and loving kindness to you.
Your psychiatrist and I agree, it would appear. Unfortunately, it appears to me that he is a rare bird in the forest of psychiatry. The majority believe in labels and drugs, as their leadership directs them to do. You are very fortunate to have found someone with a different perspective.
In the UK to claim mental health benefit a person needs to have themselves categorized as suffering from longterm severe and disabling mental illness symptoms. So their medical records are not going to reflect their true “mental health” condition – as they will need to exaggerate to survive.
But a person consuming neuroleptics is unlikely to be physically capable of occupational functioning anyway; and most UK “mental health consumers” buy into the “mental health” “illness” system.
My own experience is that I was only capable of functioning when I came off strong neuroleptic “medication”.
I believe I am suffering from Crohn’s disease or something at least as nasty. Thank God I’m off my brain drugs and not wasting valuable energy at “day treatment” now. Ironically coming off my SSRI was all it took to end a 10+ year bout with depression. 😀