Memoirs of a Dissident Psychiatrist

Ben Furman, MD
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When I started to specialize in psychiatry in Finland in the early 80’s, the psych-scene looked quite different from today. The dominant rhetoric was psychoanalysis, and we all, including psychologists, social workers and psych nurses, were expected to learn to speak ‘psychoanaleeze’ and see patients one-on-one once a week — sometimes twice a week — for years. Those were the days.

I soon became a disbeliever. Psychodynamic therapy took years and only a minority of people seemed to benefit from it. Lots of patients complained that their therapists were sitting on their chairs silently throughout the sessions. Many became so dependent on their therapists that they needed hospitalization when their therapist was on summer vacation. Others cut their relationship to their parents because they learned from their therapists that all their problems were caused by their parents. Most people who entered individual therapy because of marital dissatisfaction ended up divorcing their spouses. Some could give long and boring lectures about why they had their problems but didn’t have a clue about how to make their life better. Also, children were forced to go to long-term therapy and when their parents complained about lack of progress, or even worsening of the situation, the parents were criticized for sabotaging their child’s therapy and told to obtain individual therapy to work through their own issues.

To me, psychoanalysis appeared like a pseudoscientific cult that had somehow succeeded in infiltrating the medical establishment. It baffled me how they had succeeded in doing so. Representatives of the movement had conquered a position in society where they were not only indoctrinating mental health professionals into Freudian beliefs, but also other medical doctors, educators and even kindergarten teachers. They were adamant in getting the whole world to swallow their unfounded beliefs about the origins of mental health problems.

I didn’t like psychoanalysis. I suggested to my professor, who wanted me to do a doctorate, that I study the adverse effects of psychotherapy. He was a psychoanalyst — not unlike all the other professors of psychiatry and child psychiatry at the time — and of course he immediately rejected the idea. At that time, it was taboo to even suggest that psychotherapy could cause adverse effects. Everyone was supposed to believe that psychodynamic therapy was superior to any other form of therapy. If the symptoms of a patient became worse during the course of therapy, it was not because there was something wrong with the therapy but because the therapy had revealed that the patient was, in fact, more seriously disturbed than was evident at the outset. I abhorred the twisted and self-serving logic of my psychodynamic colleagues.

I was a dissident. I had become interested in family therapy in general, and solution-focused brief therapy in particular. These were promising approaches to helping patients and their families, where the focus was not on the past but on the future. The therapist was not a passive listener but an active participant whose task was not to help patients discover the presumed underlying roots of their suffering, but to support them in finding solutions, in figuring out what they could do to improve their life. Brief therapy made much more sense to me than psychodynamic therapy and instead of keeping the patient in therapy for years, in this kind of therapy the number of sessions was kept to a minimum and patients were not led to believe that all their problems stemmed from their bad childhood.

I tried to question the psychoanalytic belief system, but it was not possible to argue with believers. Their argumentation didn’t follow any logic known to me. One colleague said that psychoanalysis must be a valid system because it had been there for so many years. Another said that my criticism of psychoanalysis must be caused by some mental health issue of my own. He said that I probably had some issues with attachment that made it difficult for me to commit to the kind of long-term relationships that are required for long-term therapy. A third one said that I was not in any position to criticize psychoanalysis because I was not sufficiently analyzed myself. Two colleagues, both psychoanalytic child psychiatrists, filed a complaint about me to the ethical committee of the Finnish Medical Association, accusing me of non-collegial behavior as I had publicly criticized child psychiatric treatment methods without being a child psychiatrist myself. According to the complaint — which was turned down by the ethical committee — adult psychiatrists like me were not entitled to present criticism toward child psychiatry. Criticism toward the field of child psychiatry, according to them, could only be presented by child psychiatrists, not adult psychiatrists.

It was a frustrating struggle. I don’t think I succeeded in bringing about any change. I only managed to piss off my analytically minded colleagues. I think I even became a persona non grata for several years within my profession. But fortunately, I didn’t care too much. I had already set my foot on a different path. I was thrilled about brief therapy and in those days many other people in the field of mental health shared my enthusiasm with these innovative methods.

I focused on spreading information about brief therapy to like-minded professionals and even the public through hosting a mental health-related talk show on national TV that ran for more than 200 episodes. Today, solution-focused therapy (also known as collaborative or resource-oriented therapy) is in my country an officially recognized therapy method that patients can be reimbursed for by national health insurance.

While I was busy spreading the good news about solution-focused therapy and shying away from criticizing psychiatric conventions, psychiatry was going through big changes. The psychoanalytic belief system was thrown out and replaced with the DSM and the biomedical doctrine: everyone should have a diagnosis, and everyone should have medication. All the conditions that had previously been treated with therapy were now treated with medication, which had become the treatment of choice for almost all mental health conditions regardless of whether the patient was an adult, teenager or child. A patient without medication became a rarity. The data system of mental health services required clinicians to diagnose anyone who sought help. For years I had hoped that psychiatry would free itself from the psychoanalytic doctrine, and when my wish finally came true, my profession went from the frying pan to the fire.

But I am struggling on. I am a member of the international critical psychiatry network. Over the years I have written several letters to the editor that have been published in our main newspaper, I am active on the closed Facebook site of the Finnish Psychiatric Association, and sometimes speak directly to policy makers such as the head of our National Health Insurance Institute.

My main goal, currently, is to convince professionals as well as the public that most child psychiatric problems can be handled effectively without medication. Together with my colleagues we developed in the 90’s a method that we have called Kids’ Skills. It is a simple method that anyone can learn which is based on the idea that children’s problems do not need to be thought of as psychiatric disturbances but as a lack of some psychosocial skills that children haven’t learned yet.

Kids’ Skills provides a protocol for figuring out what skill the child needs to learn, and a means of engaging the child’s parents and friends in helping the child develop the missing skill in a fun and rewarding manner. Books and other materials about this method have appeared in more than 20 languages and there are trained Kids’ Skills coaches in many countries around the world. I have even created an app about the method that has been translated by a volunteer translator into several languages including Russian, Spanish and Chinese. I like to think that people will realize that we have come to the end of the rope. It doesn’t make sense to medicalize the entire population. Let’s start making the world a better place by helping our children to overcome their problems not with drugs but with support and help from their peers and parents.

122 COMMENTS

  1. Dr Furmann,

    Do the psychiatrists have to take medication as well or are they outside of the big wheel of life.

    I agree with you about the psychotherapy time wasting. I used to do drama improvisation as a hobby, and interestingly I found that improvisation skills worked (and could be learnt).

  2. Brief therapy?

    We have something similar in Australia. After a three minute disagreement with a doctor over seating arrangements I was diagnosed with three serious mental illnesses. Never seen the guy before, and when he spoke to me like his pet dog I was not impressed with his bedside manner. Brief diagnosis lol His diagnostic notes consist of “Lives with his wife. Has a degree from X University”. Still, Ordained Minister, Order of Australia recipient, Senior Medical Officer, if he can’t stick a needle full of Olanzapine (or was it Qetiapine) into someone for a friend who can? Did I really look like an elephant that need to sleep for a week Doc?

    Not that I actually had these three serious mental illnesses, or maybe I did and they were cured in the hour between the diagnosis and seeing another doctor. All so scientific and difficult for me to understand.

  3. Hi Ben,

    I have known about “Brief Therapy” for years and agree that the concepts involved can be useful in a lot of situations. However, there ARE people (lots of them) who have been screwed up by abusive parents or other adults, and have developed belief systems based on having to cope with being mistreated as kids. Many of these folks, I’ve found (including my wife!), have reported finding the concepts of “brief therapy” kind of insulting and frustrating. Much like CBT, it seems the therapist is telling the client, directly or indirectly, that their past is not a relevant consideration and that they just need to “change their minds” or “develop new skills” without acknowledgment of where their current survival skills (which are often demonized as “symptoms” these days) developed and what purpose they have served and perhaps continue to serve in the present.

    I’d be interested in your comments on this. I personally have found great value in lightly using psychodynamic concepts with some people to help them come to grips with why it was IMPORTANT for them to act in the ways that they are now being criticized for or personally seek to change. I often find that when a person is able to see (for themselves, no “analysis” from me going on here) the role their coping measures played in surviving their own historical trauma, they are often able to realize that it is a skill that has value but doesn’t have to be used ALL THE TIME, and can be reserved selectively for moments it is useful, or modified in some ways to allow it to continue to be effective with fewer adverse consequences from their social contacts or society at large.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on that point.

    — Steve

  4. Thank you, Ben, for sharing your experience and thoughts around psychoanalysis. I find that psychoanalysts especially ones who call themselves “Freudians” take themselves far too seriously. I did not like the dependency that was promoted between therapist and patient. I like some of Freud’s work and do use some of the concepts, “psychodynamic approach” in my practice as a clinical social worker/psychotherapist with adults, but use a variety of methods and techniques from different schools and practices depending on the client and presenting issue.

    Solution-focused, collaborative, strength-based and narrative family therapy are wonderful ways of helping children and families to focus on their resiliences and strengths and it works. Shorter time and often more effective than psychoanalysis.

    I loved watching you speak on Youtube and your website has very interesting books for children. You seem to be a very caring and compassionate person and therapist. Thank you for contributing here on MIA. You made me remember why I love what I do.

  5. “I tried to question the psychoanalytic belief system, but it was not possible to argue with believers. Their argumentation didn’t follow any logic known to me.”

    Yes, I agree that there is no logic in the responses (or non-responses) when questioning the beliefs within this field, despite overwhelming evidence of the failure of it. Which, to me, indicates perfectly how dangerous it can be to sit 1 on 1 with a clinician whose logic and reasonability go flying out the window when questioned in any capacity. That’s where all the negative projections, stigmatizing, and gaslighting begin.

    If you are a clinician and experience deep frustration with other clinicians for this reason, attempting to have an open and fruitful dialogue, imagine how clients feels while vulnerable to this dynamic, and who are expected to be open in their emotions while trying to talk about their issues. That is a recipe for disaster, and it quite often has resulted in just that, for this very reason.

    “Let’s start making the world a better place by helping our children to overcome their problems not with drugs but with support and help from their peers and parents.”

    We can also make the world a better place by supporting parents in how to best guide and nurture their own kids, regardless of any issue they may have. Kids follow the example of their parents in how they deal with the inevitable stressors in life. Sometimes it’s even the parents causing the kids undo stress, and it remains in the shadows due to denial and scapegoating. What then? This is not in the slightest uncommon, and I believe it should be brought to light. There are tons of kids suffering in silence from this.

  6. I know one thing. People mistakes psyche for the brain damage theories. They mistakes psychological reality for biological illness, which is terrible kind of terrorism. Apollonians use false rhetoric to control everyone who is in the other psychological archetype than their own, everyone that is more deep than their shallow point of view, everyone that means more than flesh reality impose.

    They do not understand the proper meaning of words – normalcy, mental illness,. THEY DO NOT USE PSYCHOLOGICAL words like apollonian ego, hades reality, they do not know the proper meaning of psychosis, depression.The just want to ged rid of it, because from their point of view psyche has got no value.

    Authoritarians just want to get rid of psyche, because psyche is seen as a danger to simple flesh reality, to MONEY. And money is the main fetish of apollonian ego. That is why I see the need of psychological socialism, to forget about communism, capitalism. And psychological socialism should treat psyche (death) as a main value, and the worth of psyche in that system would be opposite to contemporary meaning. The death in the center of the state. Because materialists destroyed everything which is difficult to endure, the psyche, the death. They just want easy simple life with insurance and kids. AND THEN THEY CALL IT HARD.

    The most difficult and the most dangerous psychological archetypes are those beyond apollonian ego idiotic crudeness. So they call it —-disturbed, sick, bad, evil, wrong, ill, satan’s breed, possesed.

    Those people should be on the first – line to show “normal people”, how wrong and INJUST they evaluated the psychological reality. Apollonians idiotic attitude towards psyche is pure INJUSTICE, and terrorism. Normal people are unpunished terrorists who are using the inquisition to fight off the human psyche.

    James Hillman “Re- visioning psychology”

  7. Ben

    Thank you for that indepth critical analysis of psychoanalysis and the sharing of your personal struggle in the field of psychiatry.

    It clearly sounds like you are truly helping some people in your work. I would like to push you a bit on a few subjects brought up in your blog.

    You said: “…most child psychiatric problems can be handled effectively without medication…”

    I have three things to challenge about this statement. By using the term “most” aren’t you giving up enormous ground to the current Medical Model paradigm by suggesting that drugs have a significant role to play in “helping” children. After all “most” could mean anything under 50% of the time.

    Shouldn’t we be saying that these psychiatric drugs should “rarely, if ever be used.” And if used at ALL, it should be for an extremely brief period of time.

    Also, you used the term “psychiatric problems.” Exactly what are “psychiatric problems.” Are you you not leaving the door open to accepting the the “brain disease” and/or “chemical imbalance” pseudo-scientific theories and harmful labeling? Are these not more correctly described as problems that emerge from a child’s conflict with their environment. – an environment that is filled with much trauma and multiple kinds of injustices?

    And by referring to psychiatric drugs as “medications” are you not conceding to the Medical Model a false narrative that they have spent hundreds of billions of dollars propagating in the world’s largest medical hoax over the past half century? Should we not ALWAYS call these mind altering drugs exactly what they are – “psychiatric drugs?”

    And finally, since you have now settled into providing some forms of helpful THERAPY to the people you see in your work, isn’t it time that dissident psychiatrists begin to declare that psychiatry is NOT a legitimate medical specialty? Shouldn’t you also declare that psychiatry has become a very harmful instrument of social control in society and needs to be abolished? And those dissident psychiatrists who wish to be a caregivers, can either move on to neurology or settle into a role as a therapist.

    Just think how powerful your example in the world would be if you took such a highly controversial and moral stance in your profession.

    Thanks again for writing and being open to dialogue here at MIA.

    Respectfully, Richard

    • Richard I think psychiatry is a legitimate medical specialty..
      psychiatry is the specialty between neurology and psychology…
      the specialty is not wrong… the current practices need to go down..
      what needs to be taken down is the apa and corrupt pharm..
      and corrupt doctors…and corrupt anything else….and drugs that
      do not fix the underlying problem…the quick fix…

      • hi littleturtle,

        I think psychiatry could become a specialty that combines neuro-science and psychology.
        I have a psychiatrist that is different too.
        She is learning a lot, and so am I and we look at research together as well.
        My psychiatrist is also starting to see that we don’t need “mental illness” diagnoses.
        She went to a conference lately where other psychiatrists were learning the same thing.
        My psychiatrist doesn’t push drugs either, we do therapy where we talk about things and she helps me put the pieces of my life back together, so I can tell my own story and understand my feelings and why I do things. As we learn together, the world starts to look different – better and safer.
        Sometimes the sessions go for 2 hours. She also believes that people can get through the past, and move on but it just takes more time for some people. She gave me lots of cool books to read on how brains grow and change as we learn in relationships with people. She helps with giving a good relationship to learn in.
        We don’t always agree, but we learn from each other and we both change.
        I hope that all the other psychiatrists start to learn these things too.
        Because things have been getting much better since I met my psychiatrist.
        Thanks for posting this – I’m sorry I misunderstood your post before.
        I think I was angry and needed to get some things out that hadn’t felt heard. I think I needed to say some things about the world and hear some things about the world to work out some things I wasn’t sure about. I couldn’t see your post clearly before. Those things were in the way. Thanks for your posts – they are awesome.

  8. isn’t it time that dissident psychiatrists begin to declare that psychiatry is NOT a legitimate medical specialty?

    Yes, and for everyone else to start taking this issue seriously as well. This is one campaign which could be effectively spearheaded by coalitions of professionals and ex-professionals as opposed to survivors alone, who would be disregarded due to lack of “professional expertise.”

    • It is happening oldhead.

      The british psychological society has openly declared the paradigm needs to change and has been developing alternative models to psychiatric diagnoses.

      Mad in the UK just launched as a space for professionals, survivours, service-users, consumer reps etc. They seem to be keen to get us all past our polarisations ;-).

      It just takes time. Someone once described it to me as “dripping on a stone”.

      Critical psychiatry network are trying to “reform” psychiatry but they are a mixed bag – and seem a bit stuck on “mental health” and “madness” and some even on “social control”. I think perhaps believing in psychiatry gets deep into people’s brains and it takes time and discussion (relationship) for them to get back out again. Because even a lot of the ones who say they want to see change are pretty distorted. I guess training one’s mind to look for those patterns over and over again changes it, on a cellular level.

      I think the key is that psychiatry – as it stands – is not a legitimate medical discipline, but if it evolves and gets rid of “mental illness”/dsm/icd and drugging people out of their wits, medicine could still be a pathway for legitimate therapists.

      Perhaps what we need to get past is thinking that something has to be a “medical illness” and follow the same pattern of symptom-diagnose-test-treat a cookie-cut illness to benefit from an understanding of biology and how the body works? Psychiatry as it is never followed that model anyway, it skipped test, and the medical research that accompanies a genuine medical problem originating in, rather than being mediated by, the brain.

      It seems one of the pressures keeping psychiatry as it is in place is that some, at least, believe that for psychiatry to survive as a legitimate medical discipline, it hinges on the concept of “abnormality”. But not all psychiatrists believe that and some even sent a petition to the WHO to get rid of ICD classifications of “mental illness”.

      I guess there a lot of ways it could go. As this relationship-experience-psyche-brain-body continuum starts to unwind, the ability to resolve life problems and complex relationships with the present and past might start becoming attractive to medical doctors. My mum has diabetes and is drugged up to the hilt to manage that. But it’s pretty obvious that her situation was caused by stress. She’s always reflected on how for her stress comes out as physical problems.

      “Stress” seems to be just what they call it when they don’t call it “mental illness” – because someone keeps going to work and paying all the bills. But stepping back, it still seems to be the pressure of unresolved life problems – including jobs that demand way too much, or other untenable pressures like abuse etc. If it isn’t dealt with, I guess that pressure has to come out some way or another for everyone.

      I think part of the problem is that the art of therapy was being lost, and there was no attention to actually solving the external situational problems that were leading people to break. Even psychology was getting manual-based. That is changing now, slowly. One thing that seems to be getting consensus is that the “therapeutic relationship” is what brings about change – not drugs or “manualised treatments”.

      Once more and more people start getting good results with the right things changing, and more gets learned about reality, the rest I think isn’t that difficult. One possible future is that either psychiatry reforms itself, or a new discipline of neurotherapists or some such could start up that sets itself apart with a medical background.

      If they’re getting better results with the same people, and offering a training pathway for others to move across. The legal battle to end psychiatry with massive lawsuits is a matter of time. Then again, if psychiatry doesn’t reform that is probably an inevitablilty anyway. The evidence that drugs don’t work and psychosocial approaches do can only grow as more people turn away from “mental illness”, towards alternative models, and find they get past the problems it once claimed to describe.

      As the evidence grows, the evidence that psychiatric journals, and psychiatric governing bodies rejected the papers on that evidence also grows. As the evidence grows, governments listen – particularly to things that will save them money. As governments listen they stop funding “anti-stigma” campaigns and reframe their laws on things. As the evidence grows, showing that torturing people in psychiatric wards is causing their “illness”, not curing it, will get easier. Little by little things start to change.

      But change has always happened relatively in the shadows, mainstream media is a pretty fickle thing. It’s just really sad for all the people who are going to keep being abused by psychiatry while things change slowly.

      But if it goes in the other direction, and psychiatry decides to reinvent itself as therapy informed by neuro-science and an understanding of neuroplasticity and how it affects the body and brain in reality all the better. Ironically, it seems that psychiatry could actually become a legitimate medical specialty – but only if it drops all those trappings it thought it had to cling to in order to be one. DSM/ICD and the whole idea of “abnormality” and “mental illness” don’t make sense except as self-defeating or “iatrogenic” agents when we factor in the enormous power of suggestion and the way it can shape not only our minds, but our brains.

  9. Reality & Choice Therapy. Here’s a Reality question for you Ben.

    Being Human You Walk and Talk. Habitually performing these two quintessential behaviors with repetitious ease. Can you write a few word’s about HOW you walk and talk?

    Dr Glasser uses the word habit twice in the video you recommend & l ask you this question about the subconsciously directed habit of walking & talking, because l’m curious about how to make conscious choices when we are so subconsciously motivated by an early life process of habit-formation that we simply take for granted.

    I’m confident that neither you or anyone in this comment thread will respond to this question of HOW we do being Human or why the prophetic comment: they seeing see not and no wise perceive, is a thousands of years old assessment of mental health that has not changed in its accuracy, because human anatomy & the subconscious processes by which we do being human have not changed either.

    The Recognition of Words is not a Recognition of Reality. Yet we posture the pretense that we know reality because of our early life adaptation to literacy and numeracy skill.

    And we are trapped in a third person dichotomy of mind, perceiving ourselves from the outside looking in.

    • Hey BigPictureAwareness, awesome post.

      “Being Human You Walk and Talk. Habitually performing these two quintessential behaviors with repetitious ease. Can you write a few word’s about HOW you walk and talk?”

      It’s a question that occupied computer scientists for many years. Try as they might, there was just no satisfactory way to break down walking motion and reconstruct it so that it looked natural.

      Eventually, they turned to “genetic algorithms” that learned to replicate the walking motion by evolving their ability to copy walking.

      It is still unknown how to break down the motion of walking and reconstruct it so that it looks natural. But this doesn’t trouble computer scientists anymore because they have realised that there is no need. It’s just generally accepted that it’s a very silly thing to try and do because the motion of walking does not break down into simple steps and is best learned naturally in context.

      “l ask you this question about the subconsciously directed habit of walking & talking, because l’m curious about how to make conscious choices when we are so subconsciously motivated by an early life process of habit-formation that we simply take for granted.”

      I think you’ve got the nail on the head. We never truly can make conscious choices. Every choice that every single human makes is influenced by a host of subconscious processes. Or conscious ones being denied for a host of subconscious reasons.

      It’s a mess, being human. I think a lot of people learn a sort of “default” set of subconscious motivations and responses by dominant forces in the society they grow up in.

      In an African village with a a shamanic culture there would be a completely different response to an experience that would be seen as “madness” here. And there could be any number of responses in different societies if they were allowed to evolve in isolation.

      The same thing might apply to notions of what constitutes “success” or whether we see each other part of a wider shared community or individuals ruthlessly competing and always looking for an advantage.

      Then of course there’s the double-think by which we hide those positions from ourselves.

      “The Recognition of Words is not a Recognition of Reality. Yet we posture the pretense that we know reality because of our early life adaptation to literacy and numeracy skill.”

      I think the pretense seems to come from some idea of believing in certainty – that there is some easy, reductive answer to all life’s difficulties. But my impression is also that does seem to come from learning to read and write and study the world through theories at an early age. Without any critical understanding that they aren’t the real world.

      The natural world makes pretty short work of creatures that believe in certainty. The theory world doesn’t, it leaves a huge buffer for differing from reality outside. Real consequences can be put off as long as they happen later – or happen to someone else.

      “And we are trapped in a third person dichotomy of mind, perceiving ourselves from the outside looking in.”

      It’s such a simple distortion, yet it keeps coming up in a myriad of different ways. It does seem to be applied more to some people than others. Some seem to be completely free of self-reflection, while spending their days observing others. I have never quite been able to understand that. Perhaps it’s a subconscious desire to be the observer rather than the observed. Powerful rather than powerless. Mobile rather than trapped. It’s a bit sad. It all seems completely unnecessary because we humans are all so imbued with our own subconscious learnings that we can’t genuinely understand another without starting to understand ourselves.

      That reminds me of my favourite ever Conrad quote:

      “There are those who say that a
      native will not speak to a white man. Error. No man will speak to
      his master; but to a wanderer and a friend, to him who does not
      come to teach or to rule, to him who asks for nothing and accepts
      all things, words are spoken by the camp-fires, in the shared
      solitude of the sea, in riverside villages, in resting-places sur-
      rounded by forests— words are spoken that take no account of race
      or colour. One heart speaks— another one listens; and the earth,
      the sea, the sky, the passing wind and the stirring leaf, hear also the
      futile tale of the burden of life. “

      • Hi Fred77, l’ve commented on this webzine in years past, that the now global debate on mental health is not just a human rights issue, it’s about HOW we do being human.

        I’ve given criticism of the fixation with medications, as a miss-step in understanding the experience of what we perceive to be madness or extreme states of consciousness, because the med’s issue does not address what it is that brings a person before the “doctor knows best” treatment oriented, prescription writer, for the very first time.

        We’ve all seen this community get excited from time to time about new books, new reports, New movements like hearing voices and Eleanor Longden’s wonderful Ted Talks revelation that people can cope with hearing voices and thrive, as well.

        Yet, paradoxically, little changes and in my humble opinion this communities failure to address Michael Cornwell’s koan: if mental illness is not what psychiatrist’s say it is, what is it? Is shameful.

        While perversely, l was howled down by members of this community for writing a true story of how l talked my way out an acute care ward, by embarrassing a Judge and the Hospital’s head of psychiatry. I seen was as a traitor to the “us vs them” cause of abolitionists.

        My attempts to draw attention to the polyvagal theory of nervous system structure and function, dismissed out of hand by the politics of experience agenda of advocacy and the need to feel like one is doing something worthy.

        Contact’s poem is “nice” Fred, the words resonate “intellectually” and ‘affect’ warm sensation within the body. But HOW does the reciprocal influence between brain and heart orchestrate such visceral states of being?

        Do our 12 cranial nerves play a role? Especially the tenth nerve, as it’s the longest nerve in our body & brings news of the environment within, to our brain.

        Within weeks of my release from captivity in 2007 l spotted a book title which began my now eleven year long journey of drug free self-regulation: Affect Regulation & the Origins of the Self.

        And my drug free self-regulation is based on a simultaneous thought & felt sense of perception. Of which l’ve given an example on Ron Unger’s post on Process Work.

        Personally, l believe a breakthrough is coming, as the data from the 1990’s decade of the brain, continues its transformational journey from the highly technical language of laboratory science, into everyday consciousness.

        As Tolle suggests in his teaching about ‘presence’ what 21st century youth need now, is not more knowledge, but the wisdom of insight and his first law of enlightenment is: You are not your mind!

        Of course l like the ‘intellectualism’ of this webzine, l do that too, in my need of Self-Nurture.

        But statements of the ‘bleeding obvious’ as they say in North England, lack insight, wisdom and true self-awareness, in my humble opinion.

        Again, a recognition of words is not a true recognition of reality, yet we tend to behave as though language is actually our human nature and not simply a product of memory.

        I teach in parables because they seeing see not and hearing hear not, and neither do they understand. -Jesus the Christ.

        Richard may see this quote of Jesus as Religious, but does it come from a synthesis of a wisdom of the ages understanding of the Human condition, that walked out of Africa 70,000 years ago?

  10. Little turtle,

    Unfortunately psychiatry isn’t the speciality between neurology and psychology. It should have been.

    Psychiatry has been around much longer than neurology, since long before we had any tools at all to directly study brains in living creatures.

    Most psychiatrists today know very little about the brain compared to what neuroscience has gathered. And neuroscience has still gathered precious little when it comes to understanding how our psyche interacts with our brain.

    I understand the desire to have faith in the person you look to for healing and solace but unfortunately this is how things have been. I wish it were different, and hope it will be someday. Some psychiatrists really do try to get a genuine understanding. But unfortunately there is still a conflict of interest because, at the moment, if they are honest about what has happened they will lose face. So only the very brave ones do admit the problems.

    Mental illnesses are defined by committees of psychiatrists, who get together and discuss what lists of behaviours, feelings and thoughts will be called illness. Those lists have been growing over the past 28 years since they were first written. Now there are literally hundreds of mental illnesses. No neuroscience went into the writing of any of these lists. No neuroscience goes into “testing” for any of those lists.

    In an interview, a psychiatrist believes they can correctly identify how a person is thinking and feeling by a combination of what the person says, their facial expressions and body language, how they dress, how fast or how much they speak etc. If you want a full list Google mental status exam checklist. No neuroscience went into any of the beliefs about how a person’s appearance relates to their genuine inner thought processes or feelings.

    Medications were discovered by accident when drugs designed as major tranquilizers that then seemed to make people’s “psychotic” behaviour disappear or drugs designed to treat infectious diseases that seemed to make people feel less miserable. That’s what led to the “chemical imbalance” theory. By measuring that some neurotransmitter levels were lowered, or raised by the drugs, it was concluded that everything the people taking these drugs had been going through was caused by too much, or too little of the neurotransmitter.

    That isn’t what a respectable scientist would do. They might suggest there could be some interesting information to look into but that a lot of research would be needed to find out the real truth. Scientists have it drummed into them to do this, unfortunately psychiatrist don’t. Unfortunately, most psychiatrists are never trained in scientific methods. They are trained in medicine, which isn’t the same thing. Medical trainees learn a lot of things by rote. That might work OK in general medicine, where genuine scientific research went into the things that were learned. Unfortunately in psychiatry, they weren’t.

    So psychiatrists have historically been given a lot of power over some very vulnerable people without ever having done the necessary research to demonstrate that what they were doing was safe or helpful. Unfortunately, psychiatrists also believe, and tell their patients, that there is never any true recovery from “serious mental illness”. Because of this, even when people can’t learn to understand and resolve the problems they are experiencing, they might still believe everything because the psychiatrist told them in advance that their problem would never go away. Thankfully, there is also no neuroscience behind this belief. Psychiatrists have no evidence to believe anyone’s “mental illness” is permanent or can’t be resolved and understood.

    Can I ask, why is it important to believe in a mental illness? I know a lot of people do but I have never been able to fully understand it. Recognising that there are complex reasons why we can experience (or even do) really difficult things, that can be really hard to understand feels so much better to me than being told I have an illness, that has never been found in nature. I understand some people prefer to believe or think of it as an illness – is it an analogy, perhaps, that it feels like being unwell?

  11. I’d like to draw attention to the posts above of lavendersage, Alex, Richard D. Lewis, oldhead, and BigPictureAwareness because I think they are really getting to the heart of this issue.

    For over a century psychiatrists and psychologists have played professional poker with unsubstantiated ideas.
    When a paradigm changes there seems to be a lot of backslapping, as if a great work has already been completed. Ultimately, it is another unsubstantiated idea that is being trialled – whether it pans out or not is left to the future.

    The unfolding of the truth about biomedical paradigm hasn’t come from the revelations of psychotherapists. It’s been fought hard for by survivors and their allies over decades. Mostly without pay, not to talk of the other hardships.

    If any therapy works, it’s because someone worked their butt off on themselves. If it works really well, it’s because the therapist also worked their butt off *on themselves*.

    Anyone who finds they are standing back and watching an amazing transformation take place for a client and thinking “wow, I did that, I love my job!”, I’m sorry to say is completely off the mark, and is needing to do a lot more inner work. If a client transforms, its because they transformed themselves.

    If a therapist went on that journey truly with their client, as some therapists actually do, the therapist would also be transformed in the process. That therapist would have gained genuine insight and understanding about themselves that would strip back the layers and, by it’s nature, be calming and humbling. It would not be cause for celebration, self-congratulation, backslapping or taking credit for someone else’s inner work. It wouldn’t be used for professional networking, at survivors expense. Those are things we do only when we still see our clients as mortgage payments, to a greater or lesser extent.

    To Steve, Ben, knowledge is power and any other therapists on this thread, respectfully I ask if you would please read carefully the comments posted by survivors and take some time to consider and post a response to each of them. Especially the challenging ones, as this is how we make change – and after all, isn’t it how progress works? Whether it is in therapy or in genuine discussion of an issue. Ultimately, with good therapy at least it’s the same thing, and it’s a challenge to both sides to get to the truth. Not a battle for power, or a squirm for market share and reputation.

    Unfortunately, if this isn’t done there isn’t a discussion happening. Instead, quite ironically, the non-responses first outlined and criticised in the process of psychoanalysis have been happening in this very thread.

    It would be great to see that turn around.

    • Wow, Fred, this is a fantastic post. I’d like to flash neon red arrows all around it and pointing to it. It is truth to perfection, in my estimation, and potentially transformative in and of itself. The discussion does need to transform in this direction to be fruitful from here forward, I agree hardily with that.

      In how many ways can one coldly and distantly analyze away, “I’m just trying to make what I feel is a very important point based on my experience” in order to avoid the truth! Facing hard truths is, indeed, where change and transformation occur. We’re human, it happens.

      Stop analyzing, start feeling, create empathy, tell the truth. At least that’s a start. And from there, there is *a lot* of work to do to see that change through to completion. There’s your transformation.

      Thank you, Fred, for the inspiration.

      • Alex, I think your posts are spot on too, and a lot ofther people’s besides.

        “Facing hard truths is, indeed, where change and transformation occur. We’re human, it happens.”

        MIA and therapy are both potentially a place where people can hash out or empathetically discuss their similarities and differences in experience and view. Either can have it’s merits. But the empathetic discussion isn’t possible unless both sides can look under their own hood in context and be honest about what’s going on. Otherwise one side gives, the other takes and it isn’t discussion. In a therapy context, that leads to exploitation -deliberately or inadvertently/subconsciously.

        Hard questions can be hard partly because most people who consider the “normal/abnormal” boundary to be a real thing seem to be repressing a lot of their own demons – all those wild human emotions, unresolved resentments, unexplored or unexpressed feelings, wants etc that they had to push out to act, think and feel in the increasingly narrow way that is defined as “normal”, or even just to pay the bills. I’m not thinking of Freud, but of Jeckyll and Hyde.

        Expressing anger, bitterness, discontent or even strong disagreement or challenge are often not part of what’s considered “normal” or “respectable” in some circles. There’s nothing in the polite code of conduct for how to engage or understand these human aspects.

        Therapists of all walks often write off their frustrations with clients by describing their clients in harsh dehumanising tones, to vent their own anger at feeling mistreated – but stuck with the client because they want to be paid and are not allowed to communicate directly how they feel to the client because that’s ‘unprofessional’. Clients deal with their own frustrations of being dehumanised and the cycle goes on.

        The truth has two sides and when it comes out sometimes it really isn’t pretty, but I think that can be tractable when it’s actually the truth. And both sides are prepared to work with it. Empathetically wherever possible, but honestly when anger comes up because it has a way of blocking empathy temporarily in all humans I’ve come across.

        Pushing truth away and presenting a white washed cheery view isn’t going to get us humans to a point of understanding and going forward. It hasn’t ever before, and it’s not going to start now.

        Ultimately the binaries hurt everyone even role binaries like therapist/client and parent/child can be problematic if they don’t have mutually respectful shared ground- unless the honest feelings of both are allowed space to be there honestly and safely, and be heard and learned from there’s not a communication, it becomes something else. Something quite damaging.

        We all do it, so we may as well just admit it from the outset and deal with it when it comes along. At least that way it can be recognised and resolved when it happens

        But binaries aside, there is a vast difference in experience in a world as polarised as ours has been. I would like to see more articles by survivors on MIA. They seem to be very rare..and very necessary.

          • Richard, I don’t think he will. But there isn’t any reason why we can’t keep discussing things amongst ourselves.

            At the end of the day therapy is a business. Whether the therapist studied medicine or psychology first, once they decided to be a therapist and hung out a therapy shingle, they started selling a particular product to the public.

            The author has clearly put a lot of effort into building his product. He’s not about to ditch it and start selling another one because a few survivors had different opinions.

            As far as I can see he’s a human and a business person and is likely to keep selling his product as long as people are buying it.

            I don’t see anything so bad in that. After all there are lots of other products out there and (most) individuals are free to choose. Caged birds might take a while to get out of their cages even after the doors are opened, but that’s a different story.

            The author may not even have a clue what most of us are on about. But we do, and therapists aren’t the only ones who can have theories about what it means to be human.

            Incidentally, training as a psychologist, counsellor or any of the other many pathways towards providing people help with their “emotional problems” is actually not that hard. Each one varies according to how much time one puts into it.

            And there are no formal qualifications for life-coaching or any other way that people want to brand a service they feel like offering the world.

          • I have to take back, with apologies, my comment about the author. I watched his kid-skills video and it is actually pretty awesome.

            It’s a sick-sad world that children would be labelled as having “psychiatric problems” but from what Ben Furman posted in his Glasser video – he doesn’t support DSM and thinks it’s really harmful and is genuinely trying to spread the word that kids need to learn skills.

            Though it’s kind of a shock that someone has to go around teaching that. I guess I’d heard that child diagnosis was a thing, but had no idea it had gotten that bad 🙁

          • Glasser has always been a stalwart opponent of the idea of labeling people with “disorders.” He is a big advocate for working with what you have and taking responsibility for moving in the direction you want to go, no matter what the barriers. He never identified as “antipsychiatry” but he really has been.

    • Thanks, Fred, for your comments and since you named me I will try my best to respond to your comments. “Anyone who finds they are standing back and watching an amazing transformation take place for a client and thinking “wow, I did that, I love my job!”, I’m sorry to say is completely off the mark, and is needing to do a lot more inner work. If a client transforms, its because they transformed themselves.”. I agree completely that if someone makes changes in his/her life the kudos goes to the person who did the hard work to get there, not the therapist. I have never taken credit for someone changing. It does make me content that I tried my best to be of service to another and to listen and learn from others, but a lot of trial and error, and mistakes. I never stop learning and growing and I am truly blessed to be able to be of service to others. I am sorry if you misunderstood my comment to Ben. I liked his comments and his work is interesting. I remember a supervisor telling me “You are irrelevant” when I was a young therapist and though it hurt at the time, he was right that despite the numerous hours working on behalf of someone, I had missed that it was the client not I who was the agent of change.

      I can certainly address individual posts more often but I also ask that some MIA readers hold back generalizations and listen and hear as well. I understand that many have had negative past experiences with professionals but it does seem that this precludes dialogue as many have already made negative assumptions. It is really hard to not see and talk to people in person. A lot is lost online.

      • Knowledgeispower,

        Thanks for your post. It is a relief to see a therapist post here so honestly about their feelings.

        I do know it can be daunting -even exhausting work, and it is different online. But there is something I do need to raise a question on:

        “I understand that many have had negative past experiences with professionals but it does seem that this precludes dialogue as many have already made negative assumptions”

        I understand it can be daunting. But the challenge here is that if therapists are to put their hand up for the daunting task of helping someone regain some measure of justified trust in a process or profession if the members of that profession aren’t brave enough to try and figure out how to deal with and respond to the negative assumptions in a constructive way.

        Many of us have survived some pretty horrific circumstances at the hands of people who promised us, our families and our governments that they knew how to help us heal – were ‘experts’ no less.

        We have had to learn how to stand on our own two feet and be heard and respected in a world that would prefer to keep us drugged and tortured, voiceless to tell anyone even about the facts – let alone how it affected us.

        That might sound dramatic but unfortunately for many survivors it is not even slightly an exaggeration. Our freedom and autonomy itself has been hard won.

        So you might find people here voicing their opinions without couching them in sensitive language or making generalisations that might even be genuinely untrue.

        But we have found the courage to speak up in circumstances far more terrifying than an internet site. Is it too much to ask professionals to enter into a discussion that’s a bit challenging in text, behind an assumed name? At the end of the day nobody will even know if you got something wrong, and as you said – it’s all trial and error. So who cares as long as we all learn something real.

        Finally, if it’s too challenging online, then surely it is more challenging in person when someone comes in fed up with a whole profession. Perhaps I’m wrong, but that’s fine, it’s trial and error for me to understand you too ;-).

        I do have to say though, these generalisations may be daunting but they are entirely understandable given the circumstances leading up to them. I don’t think they preclude discussion. I think the only thing that precludes discussion is non-response…

        Of course some discussions can explode but that is another story. Exchanges are still being made, humans are still learning from each other.

        From what I’ve seen on this site so far it doesn’t look like authors and other professionals are walking away from discussion because survivors are generalising. It looks like they are walking away when the questions are too hard…

        I don’t know what is really going on inside the minds of professionals and authors but unfortunately, over a few different threads I have seen this happen as an apparent trend in the replies…

        • Thanks, Fred77. I do not want to be in a position of defending mental health professionals. I can only speak to my own words and actions. I am outraged by many of the postings I read here and what “professionals” have done to those they were supposed to serve. Serious professional ethics violations that never got prosecuted.

          I want to practice ethically and authentically. I am very honest with telling my clients what I think of psychiatric drugs. I do not believe in having clients dependent on me as I want them to be their own expert. Empowerment and self-sufficiency is what drives me. It sickened me when I worked in DMH group homes as a direct care provider and Director to see how workers talked down to clients like they were children. It is a tough system to change. I just choose not to work directly with psychiatrists in psychiatric units nor DMH facilities any longer. There are great people who do great work with challenging clients and very difficult environments. I just see the need for radical change and MIA provides great information and has helped me in my pursuit. I am part of different organizations that question the status quo and professionals thinking.

      • Well said.

        “If a client transforms, its because they transformed themselves.” I agree completely that if someone makes changes in his/her life the kudos goes to the person who did the hard work to get there, not the therapist.””

        Very true. I can take little credit or blame for how my clients’ lives turn out. I mean I only see them about 1-3 hours a month!

        Also, if a client struggles, it isn’t necessarily because the client is “resistant”, “non-med compliant”, “personality disordered”, or “difficult”. It could also be because the systems they find themselves in are the problem. For many years I struggled as a counselor with the concept that poor outcomes are a matter of life. I worked with folks who are homeless, and it was difficult to see them struggle so much to survive. I got angry at hospitals for discharging these folks to the streets when they were still medically compromised. The various systems, not these individuals, are at fault. Social Security doesn’t get people benefits who need them quick enough. The local housing authority is inadequately resourced. Affordable housing is wholly under supported. Access to quality healthcare, like dental and vision, is usually lacking. And so forth…

        • Thanks for expressing this, Shaun. I can see how therapists and social workers could feel extremely powerless. The system (and its funders/supporters) renders everyone powerless, which is why it is rife with anger and ever-present conflict. “The system” is the ultimate “sick society.” Adjusting to it undermines everyone’s health and well-being, clinician and client alike. There’s way better stuff out here in the world, away from all that.

          • Yes, I’m fine. Although I find this to be an odd response, and ironically, rather aligned with what we’re discussing here.

            I have to say, Shaun, after all the dialoguing we’ve done on and offline over the last few weeks, I honestly don’t know in the slightest from where you are coming. You confuse me, and I do wonder why it is I’m feeling this from you?

          • Alex,

            “I have to say, Shaun, after all the dialoguing we’ve done on and offline over the last few weeks, I honestly don’t know in the slightest from where you are coming. You confuse me, and I do wonder why it is I’m feeling this from you?”

            I don’t know what you are talking about. Can you clarify with examples?

          • I’m talking about a *feeling.* Something about how you communicate in your responses causes me to feel confusion. That’s what I’m noticing, and I’m wondering from where this feeling is coming.

            “I don’t know what you are talking about” is a good start. I can see that you don’t. Does this make it any clearer, the way I am explaining this to you? I’m wondering if there is an open line of communication here without the confusion. If not, so be it. That’s exactly what we are discussing in this thread, so it’s helpful to see it in action, as an example of what many of us are talking about.

          • Alex,
            I can’t speak to your subjective emotional experience of my posts. If there is something that seems confusing, giving me some concrete examples may help me understand where you are coming from and maybe I can clarify.

            I will tell you that I have some ambivalence because I see merit to the various perspectives on the MH system. I think people have good reasons for how they feel, such as LittleTurtle with liking their psychiatrist and believing in the concept of “mental illness.” I can also see why other posters feel that the system needs to be abolished. I am still trying to figure out exactly where I stand in all of this. I am not anti-psychiatry per se but also have become dismayed by the practices psychiatry endorses. All I can say is it’s a journey and I don’t expect to have it all figured out anytime soon, if ever.

          • I am the example. I’m being an example in present time of someone who is confused by you. I can’t help but to wonder if others have this experience of you, or is it just me? I’m just following the thread of my emotional response to you, which is how I know my truth.

            And no, we should no longer dialogue about the system. Our positions are clear, and clearly incompatible. You take your path, I take mine, and that’s all he wrote.

          • Alex,

            It’s pretty easy to get confused by others over the internet. The truth is that most communication is nonverbal anyway, which is totally missed here. I really don’t have anything else to add. I’ll continue doing my thing, as you will continue to do yours. Have a good afternoon.

          • I don’t have this problem in general. I communicate with a lot of people over the internet and about complex issues and also feelings, and I don’t generally feel confused. Just to be clear about that.

            It’s no big deal, Shaun, I was simply expressing a FEELING. Just my subjective truth of our communication. Seems to trigger you, so maybe there’s some good information for you there, I don’t know.

            You’re a therapist, process the feedback neutrally. I certainly do, but I process it through my feelings (not analyzing it from observation and defensiveness), so that I am in ownership of my experience. That’s the only way I know how to learn, grow, and evolve.

            In any case, thanks as always for the dialogue.

          • Alex,

            Well I guess the confusion is mutual, as in this most recent thread. I’m not sure how we started with you thanking me for expressing my feelings and then it quickly moved into you expressing a feeling of vague confusion (without any clarification about what, exactly, is confusing). It’s a head scratcher. Now you are claiming that I’m “triggered” by this feeling you are having. If some online acquaintance feels confused by me, there could be so many reasons for this. All I asked for was clarification which you haven’t provided. Honestly, peoples’ emotions change all the time, and “confusion” is more a cognitive concept to me than a feeling like love or anger.

            Truth be told as I am processing your feedback, I feel annoyed. If you want to get down to feelings, there you have it. After all this back and forth I still have no clarity on what you have felt confused by.

            Be well.

          • Ah, ok, I think I can connect some dots for you, been sitting in meditation with this for a few and I’m realizing why this feeling is. However, it’s going to have to wait until later this evening because I have been engaging here on breaks I’ve been taking from a project on which I’m working and I’m trying to meet a deadline this evening. I also have a few other things to do, so I’m quite far behind at this point, need to focus and detach from this right now.

            I had not expected to get into a dialogue like this today, but your first reply to my response to your comment is what initially threw me and why I said something about it, and I think that’s why this dialogue took the path it took. Which is fine, I’m glad, I think it’s interesting, truly, and will hopefully bring some clarity to what these blocks are in communication between people with divergent perspectives and roles in this particular community.

            And I appreciate your emotional transparency, and your desire to know clarity around what I am saying. I just needed to start out by saying I was having this very strong feeling because that was my experience in the moment I read your post, it was totally authentic.

            This feeling was triggered by “I hope you are well,” followed by a smiley face, which is what confused me here, in this instance. I wasn’t sure how this was a response to my post. Was their non-verbal communication taking place here? If so, you’d have to be more direct for me to get it because if that’s the case, then I definitely know why I’m confused. Especially online, clarity is contingent upon using mindful language and saying what you mean. Once you start with innuendo and undercurrents of meaning, then you are creating confusion, that’s inevitable.

            But I have a bigger picture, too, because I’d felt this before, and this was the opportunity I took to say something about it, because the feeling in me was flagrant after reading that response. That’s where I was scratching my head, as I have before with a few things you’ve said. I’ll bbl to paint you a clear picture of where I’m coming from here, see if we can reach some point of truth, or at the very least, mutual understanding and clarity.

          • Alex,

            Thanks for the comment. My comment was more of just saying hi and hope all things are good in your world. I use smiley faces to try and convey friendliness. This is exactly what I meant when I said that online communication is rife with challenges and people can easily be misunderstood in their messaging. It is helpful to me when people are clear about their concerns or wanting clarification. If I don’t know what the issue is, I can’t address it.

          • I think people have good reasons for how they feel, such as LittleTurtle with liking their psychiatrist and believing in the concept of “mental illness.” I can also see why other posters feel that the system needs to be abolished.

            Maybe some might consider this semantics (which it is) but intellectual conclusions on subjects such as the concept of “mental illness” or the abolition of psychiatry should not be based on “feelings,” but on logic and dispassionate reason. Feelings come into the picture at a different level.

          • Oldhead,

            People have the right to conclude whatever they wish about their treatment in the MH system. If they feel or think it is helpful, that is what matters to them. You may not agree with their conclusions, but that might be more to do with your experience than theirs.

          • I’m reminded of the narrator in Babakiuaria who, when the children of the white family are being removed for their protection states that she had an Aunt who went on holidays overseas for 4 weeks, so “I know how they feel”.
            And the family? Oh yes, it’s for the best.
            Best to exit some relationships gently.

          • …….I’m sure they made them to fit on the end of pencils at one stage too.

            Oh sorry folk, didn’t realise you were here. Good spot Alex, with the benefit of the doubt.

      • knowledgeispower,

        You are responding here to fred77”s comment that began with:
        I’d like to draw attention to the posts above of lavendersage, Alex, Richard D. Lewis, oldhead, and BigPictureAwareness because I think they are really getting to the heart of this issue.

        and you start off replying with “since you named me…:”

        But, he didn’t name you. He named me, Alex, Richard, oldhead, and BPA and pointed to us because we are survivors with an important message to be heard and considered.

        Your next sentence quotes fred77:
        “Anyone who finds they are standing back and watching an amazing transformation take place for a client and thinking “wow, I did that, I love my job!”, I’m sorry to say is completely off the mark, and is needing to do a lot more inner work. If a client transforms, its because they transformed themselves.”
        and then you proceed to respond to/defend yourself about this.

        So if that shoe doesn’t fit you, why put your foot in it?

        • Dear LavenderSage,
          Actually I was responding to what Fred77 who referenced me in his post: “To Steve, Ben, knowledge is power and any other therapists on this thread, respectfully I ask if you would please read carefully the comments posted by survivors and take some time to consider and post a response to each of them.” I have a right to say respectfully what I think just as much as you do. If that offends you I guess that is your issue not mine. There is no rules around how to engage in discussions here except to be respectful. I liked what Ben had to offer.

          • ah, yes, I see he adressed you further down in the comment… where he asked you and others to read, consider, and respond to the posts that I, and the other survivors he named, had written.

            how you respond (or not), and what you choose to zone in on (or ignore), speaks volumes.

          • Ok, knowledgeispower, let’s recap:

            You pulled out a quote from the beginning of Fred’s comment, and began your response to that part of his comment, not the part you now claim to be responding to as if he had called you out by name to address that part. He had not.

            Fred calls you out by name at the end of his comment, where he makes a request of you, and others:
            ” respectfully I ask if you would please read carefully the comments posted by survivors and take some time to consider and post a response to each of them.”

            So you address (defensively) something he didn’t ask you to, and claim he did, but you remain silent on what Fred actually asked you to respond to (the end part) except to assert that that was the part you were responding to, when clearly you were not.

            I point this out to you, and you reply by getting all huffy and defensive about your right to respond to Fred’s comment (something which, btw, I did not challenge) rather than doing any self-reflection.

            And you’re a therapist.
            ————————————

            Does anyone else recognize the gaslighting behavior in this exchange? Or is it just me??

          • Hi,

            lavendersage – it isn’t just you

            sigh.

            I guess it comes down to this from my perspective. If knowlegeispower were your therapist and this was happening in therapy, I’d say run, get the hell out.

            A genuine therapist’s skill comes down to how well they can cast aside any preconceptions or generalisations they might have and understand the worldview of the person who has chosen them as a client. To do that, they have to be able to take the client as they are – including with any generalisations or distrust that the client may have about therapists, and the way these are communicated by the client when they first come to therapy.

            Some therapists are more skilled than others. Clients who find themselves in situations where they don’t feel heard need to get out of there and find someone different to work with.

            Knowledgeispower:
            I know there was a misunderstanding over who was named, but I think what lavendersage was trying to point out was that she didn’t get any further replies to her original point – fleshing out it’s very important message.

            I understand that you mentioned in your reply to me that you feel generalised against and that you feel that precludes discussion. But you’ve also pointed out that you like what you learn on MIA so you can use it in your work to change the status-quo, and in developing your therapy practice.

            lavendersage has a lot of knowledge and insight, that you won’t be able to get from any other therapist. if you ignore the survivors here and just create an echo-chamber of therapists, none of you will ever learn what is really going on or how to understand all people who might come to you as clients. You’ll also never come to understand some of the general themes that create “challenging therapists” for clients to work with, or how to make sure you don’t inadvertently become one. There are reasons why people have come to make generalisations.

            Survivours who post here have a lot of experience working with a lot of different people who take up professions in therapy-related spheres. They have a great deal of insight into things that might be very hard, or indeed impossible, to see from inside the professional sphere.

            lavendersage is also working to change the status quo – and until MIA starts posting more articles written by surviours, starting discussions with comments is the only way it can be done here. That means reading, trying to understand and responding to survivours comments, however confusing or challenging they may seem to you is the only way you can get any insight what is happening outside the echo-chamber.

            I know lavender came out with guns blazing, but, with respect isn’t it the work of a good therapist to see past all that and hear the message that someone is trying to communicate?

            If a therapist can’t learn to listen to survivours on MIA and really get what they are trying to say, even when the language isn’t what the therapist might want or be used to -then how can therapists who post here hope to be able to hear what their clients are trying to say – even when the language isn’t what they might want or be used to? And if they can’t hear what clients are trying to say, then how can there be any kind of therapeutic relationship?

            “I have a right to say respectfully what I think just as much as you do. If that offends you I guess that is your issue not mine. There is no rules around how to engage in discussions here except to be respectful. I liked what Ben had to offer.”

            You do have a right to say respectfully what you think. But, with respect, if you are working to change the status-quo, you won’t be doing that if you don’t start learning to listen to and communicate with survivours – however they speak. If you like what Ben is offering, it’s only worthwhile if you’re looking to choose it for your own therapy or point it out as an option to a client. Lavender was making the very valid point that therapists shouldn’t be choosing from manual-based methods *for* their clients.

            Why do I draw a distinction between survivours speaking in differnt ways, but not therapists, who are also people? Because in therapy, you will always be dealing with survivours of something – whether that is domestic violence, child abuse, psychiatric abuse, workplace bullying, racism, sexism, other forms of family violence, unsafe workplace pressues… and on to eternity. When people have problems that they need help sorting out, they are usually of a complex nature and involve surviving something untenable and those untenable circumstances are usually also of an interpersonal nature.

            That leads to survivours of all kinds communicating in all kinds of different ways, ways that therapists need to develop the skill of understanding and hearing the message being communicated if they are truly to provide a meaningful therapeutic environment. Of course, and I hate that I feel like I have to say this, that doesn’t mean survivours can be grouped into different “types”, whether based on the way they are communicating, or based on the kind of abuse, or the abuse environment, or any other kind of categorisation. I just meant the word in the common sense as in “people of all kinds”, sigh..

            Also, the purpose of MIA is to reframe the status quo and get rid of power and abuse in the therapy field. It isn’t just for therapists to network and make more money. If that’s what therapists are trying to do they should possibly be better suited to networking on how to make the best quality golf balls – except that if they didn’t hear what the golfer community had to say about their golf balls, they wouldn’t really get much headway there either……

            I know it’s challenging, but it is worthwhile and we all learn from it. As you said in an earlier post- it’s trial and error and we all make mistakes along the way.. And I’m sure the tension between golfers and golf-ball manufacturers isn’t always rosy either… at any rate..

  12. my psychiatrist is different….he believes that psychiatry is a medical discipline…
    that looks at bio/psy/soc…or anything else…he believes that mental illness
    is an appropriate term for some…and for others it is not…he is most interested
    in understanding human suffering and what we can do about it…
    he only works half-time and studies about the causes of depression the other
    half…he lives very modestly and he helps me with my many problems…
    I know a lot about him because he believes in sharing his problems with me..
    we are both interested in evidence not just talk…he does not believe in anti-psychiatry..
    he likes critical psychiatry very much….he likes to take down only those parts of
    psychiatry that are sick and corrupt….those parts that are harmful…thank you..

    • There is – almost (I’m thinking Breggin) – nothing about psychiatry that is not sick and corrupt because it is based on harmful labels that stigmatise people for the rest of their lives; neurotoxic drugs that destroy and shorten lives; monumental hypocrisy which has allowed powerful psychiatrists to get away with promoting these drugs for monumental profits. What we are living in is a pharma-psych-caust. Which is more devious and slower than when the doctors (yes doctors did the act) dropped the lethal gas into the gas chambers killing their psych patients. And almost ALL the psychiatrists in Germany murdered their patients. The psychiatrists methods of killing was taken up by the Nazi’s, it wasn’t the other way round.. it was not the case of a few under the boot of Hitler. They have corrupted pretty much anything that can stop them – regulation has been removed, the media only seem to talk their book of deluded lies signed off by an expert professional. They seem to think and demand we should thank and respect them for this.

      • Hi Streetphotobeing,

        I don’t know Breggin? That’s one I haven’t come across.

        I think you raise some very interesting points:

        “There is – almost … – nothing about psychiatry that is not sick and corrupt because it is based on harmful labels that stigmatise people for the rest of their lives;”

        Indeed, can psychiatry ever reform itself so long as it allies itself with diagnostic labels? They are represented in some psychiatric bodies’ guidelines as socially defined constructs, “pragmatic” groupings whose use should not be “taken as reification”.

        However, as we have seen in this discussion gross generalisations about groups of people seem to leave humans feeling misunderstood, at the very least. It has even been learned that some people feel generalisations preclude discussion.

        How then, can a person’s most deep and personal inner workings be understood and grow to be whole again if any conversation they have about them must be predicated on exactly such a generalisation?

        Do all therapists operate on a diagnostic framework? Or are some actively eschewing diagnoses for the harmful generalisations they are? And where do they stand on “mental illness”?

        “neurotoxic drugs that destroy and shorten lives; monumental hypocrisy which has allowed powerful psychiatrists to get away with promoting these drugs for monumental profits.”

        Indeed, the drugs are toxic and this is well known. It is also the case that a great deal of evidence points to any of the ‘desired effects’ of such drugs being likely to be caused by an ‘activated placebo’ effect. If this is true, it means that drugs known to be harmful are being handed out like buzz-lollies and people who are taking them have no idea it is really their own psyches doing the work.

        There have been powerful psychiatrists acting very badly, very publically. With one even claiming that psychiatrists never promoted the “chemical imbalance theory” – despite it still being promoted today in journals written by psychiatrists for psychiatrists.

        It does, unfortunately seem to be a very corrupt institution. How can it reform, while those elements are still so widespread within its ranks?

        I have noticed those psychiatrists who have broken ranks with the drugs-only set are either very, very quiet on the subject of diagnosis and “mental illness” or they freely use diagnoses in a reified fashion in their publications, with no attempts made to substantiate.

        Psychotherapists also appear in articles side-by-side with psycho-pharmachologists who are still plying their trade and spruiking their methods to psychotherapists of all backgrounds. Yet they don’t call the psycho-pharmachologists out on ethics, there or elsewhere. Is there still a lot of professional bullying that makes this really daunting?

        There is, like it or not, a lot of hypocrisy in the industry.

        That makes people angry, it’s an understandable thing. You guys just do this for a living. Some of us have lost family to the financial endeavours of others. We’re upset, understandably.

        “They have corrupted pretty much anything that can stop them – regulation has been removed, the media only seem to talk their book of deluded lies signed off by an expert professional. They seem to think and demand we should thank and respect them for this.”

        There does seem to be a lot of regulation removal going on. It seems some medical bodies’ codes of ethics no longer even to refer to doing no harm or ensuring the best choice of treatment etc. The media are awfully preoccupied with diagnoses and don’t seem to be interested in informing the public that there is no scientific basis for these after all, aside from the odd exception. And one does start to naturally wonder at what commercial forces are pushing such media bias and deregulation.

        And yet, it has been my experience that it can be tricky to get through the pride of some professionals. Unfortunately that pride is obscuring the truth. Without truth, there can be no healing.

        The state of affairs is a mess. And it is quite unsettling as there are a lot of good people who are still trapped in a world where they believe in “mental illness” as a real and tangible thing. So putatively, their psyches are thus working to make them ill. They are taking many toxic drugs for this.

        I hope I have correctly understood your post Streetphotobeing, please let me know if I missed anything or got it wrong.

        • Hi Fred77, “Do all therapists operate on a diagnostic framework? Or are some actively eschewing diagnoses for the harmful generalisations they are? And where do they stand on ‘mental illness’?”. If you bill health insurance you need to put in a DSV or ICD-10 code. I tell clients this and it should be best practice for therapists to inform the client what they are going to put down as it does have ramifications, i.e. possible denial of life insurance. The lightest diagnosis is “Adjustment Disorder”. There is no way out of that except private pay. I like EAP, because I do not have to put down a DSV or ICD-10 diagnostic code. I think mental illness or what I prefer to call “mental well-being” is a continuum and that any one of us under stressful circumstances can get anxious, depressed or even psychotic. I have worked with many with horrendous, traumatic childhoods that has made working and relating to others difficult, and use drugs and alcohol to cope or just have lots of unresolved grief.

          I do not like the classification codes (DSM-V) nor do I like managed care companies. I want greater protection and privacy for clients from managed care companies.

          • No such thing as “DSM-V”. It’s DSM-5. The APA did away with the Roman numerals. Details matter.
            BTW, the DSM is nothing more than a catalog of billing codes. ALL the bogus “diagnoses” in it were INVENTED, not “discovered”. *IF* so-called “mental illnesses” were “real”, then they would have been discovered. So-called “mental illnesses” are exactly as real as presents from Santa Claus, but not more real….

          • thanks for this post knowledgeispower.

            It’s good to get that view and realise that therapists are being as tied down by the diagnosis problem as clients and other survivours are being.

            Have you heard about the work that the british psychological society have been doing to try and change the field in the UK?

            They’re offering an alternative view on it that goes beyond “mental illness” and recognises that all life difficulties are normal and understandable once they are put into context – removing the need for terms like ‘psychosis’, ‘depression’, ‘anxiety’ etc. It unfortunately won’t change the billables situation short-term. But long-term, the more people understand that “mental illness” and diagnoses aren’t necessary the easier it will be to push for a more reasonable and equitable situation for billing.

            There’s a few options they are exploring as alternatives to diagnosis and ways of shifting thinking from “mental illness” and “mental health problems” to helping human beings sort out their normal, although sometimes very complex, life problems.

            There’s an article about psychological formulation here, it’s a pretty good read.
            https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318734743_Psychological_Formulation_as_an_Alternative_to_Psychiatric_Diagnosis

    • Littleturtle,
      Thank you for providing your experience with your doctor. You are not alone in your experience “with the system.” Certainly, many people do find relief working with their doctors. I’m glad to hear that you are one of them! Your doctor seems open-minded and moderate in his beliefs, which I wish was the case for all doctors! I also like that your doc shows their human side. We need helpers to do more of this IMO.

      • Shaun f,

        Mate…

        Little turtle didn’t clarify whether the psychiatrist’s thoughts about mental illness being an appropriate term for some and not for others came down to the individual human getting to decide what term they wanted or whether the psychiatrist had decided for them.

        Many people do find relief working with a doctor, purely because they are drugged up to the eyeballs and/or desperate for acceptance, understanding and time off work at any cost. Sometimes people take advantage of that and it is heartbreaking.

        The fact of the matter is that as it stands the professional bodies’ guidelines for psychiatrists offer no protection against exploitation and abuse. There might be individual psychiatrists who don’t abuse, but there are a lot who do and nothing to stop them. Some people might want to think of themselves as having a “mental illness” but that doesn’t give them the right to reify the concept and say it should be a valid “medical diagnosis” – accepted by courts in matters relating to everything, including family law as a sound indication of a person’s incompetence. Even to raise their own children. Even if it’s an experience from the distant past.

        People get so tied up in the system that sometimes it can be triggering for them to look at the reality of the circumstances.

        There is a huge burden of responsibility on psychiatrists and I’ve seen very little evidence of their guild bodies or publications rising to the task of meeting it. Even from a basic perspective of do-no-harm.

        It gets left to unpaid consumer-consultants and advocates to lobby, cajole and gently lead psychiatrists towards even the most basic human decency. And that is far more exhausting work than even genuine therapy for broken people and often goes largely unpaid. Everytime you see a psychiatrist change, even an iota, there have been years of work by survivors going into that behind the scenes. Whether the individual psychiatrist knows it or not.

        A lot of psychiatrists have responded to the information that labelling with a diagnosis could destroy a person’s self-image and become a self-fulfilling prophecy by withholding the diagnosis from their clients. Can you imagine a real doctor with-holding a diagnosis?

        The situation is a mess.

        LittleTurtle, only you can decide what is right for you. But I really am interested to hear whether your psychiatrist’s point about “mental illness” being appropriate for some and not for others referred to each person making their own decision, or him/her making it for them?

        When I originally asked the question about why some people like to use the term “mental illness”, I was wondering what you thought about this. -I don’t fully understand why some genuine service users choose this term or identity and I would like to.

        • Fred,
          You make a lot of good points. All I’m saying is that there are plenty of “service users” who feel similarly to Littleturtle in their experience. That is a fact, whether anyone here on MIA likes it or not.

          I’m definitely not a fan of psychiatry these days; I see little value in what they do with overdiagnosisng and overprescribing. However, it does remain that many folks do believe in the “mental illness” paradigm and find it helpful in addressing their concerns.

          My guess is that the doctor does believe in mental illness but thinks it’s over diagnosed. I’m guessing they think that there is clinical mania, for instance. I, for one, have seen the damaging effects on peoples’ lives who have experienced this level of distress.

          I frankly have no idea if mental illness is real or not; I have yet to see hard evidence to support the diagnostic categories.

          • Shaun f

            “You make a lot of good points. All I’m saying is that there are plenty of “service users” who feel similarly to Littleturtle in their experience. That is a fact, whether anyone here on MIA likes it or not.”

            How exactly do you know how little turtle or any other service user feels?

            I don’t know how little turtle feels, or what has influenced little turtle to feel the way they do.

            There is also potentially a difference between feeling, thinking and believing.

            All that is complex stuff and deserves to be explored in a context that is not disgustingly distorted by the financial interests of those porporting to “help”. It deserves a space for a person to form their own narrative and recover their own threads untethered to unsubstantiated nonsense about mythical illnesses.

            I find it very disturbing that you would dare to speak for others in stating something as a “fact”.

            Here is something I know to be an actual fact. When I have been through times when I decided the “mental illness” paradigm was fine it was because I experienced the relief of believing I lived in a safe and caring world where the kinds of ugly financial conflicts we are finally discussing openly did not exist. But they do exist. That is very unpleasant and hard to deal with.

            “I frankly have no idea if mental illness is real or not; I have yet to see hard evidence to support the diagnostic categories.”

            That is just the point. There is no hard evidence. There has never been any hard evidence. And yet doctors, who were once sworn to do no harm are telling vulnerable people, with all the authority and trust vested by their society that they wear that white coat on the basis of hard evidence are telling vulnerable people that they have an illness, of which there is no hard evidence. Not only that but they are telling them that they will have this illness for the rest of their lives and the best they can do is try to manage it with medication.

            People are taking this diagnosis with all the veracity and seriousness as they would one of heart disease or cancer. Yet in all this the doctors are not even looking for the genuine causes of human emotional distress. And ignoring the nonmedical processes that *DO* have hard evidence.

            Such processes include neuroplasticity and the very strong evidence that the structure and function of our brain change as we learn. That we learn in relationships. We adapt to what we think we know about the world.

            Take that and adapt it to learning to believe you have a “mental illness” which you can never recover from and can only learn to manage the symptoms of.

            Throw in a supportive environment, kindness, the absence of blame, compassion for those problems that you can never solve or learn to understand and just have to live with. Sedatives to take away the worst of the emotional pain of knowing more than you ever wanted to know about the darkness in the world. And all you have to trade is an identity, in which you had none of those things and we’re being told to just “pull your socks up” and “get on with it”.

            That, in a nutshell is the “blame or brain” dichotomy. Does “brain” feel better than “blame”? To some perhaps but you have to look at that *in context*.

            My opinion/subjective observation from spending time around service users is that for a lot of people invested in the “mental illness” paradigm, ripping that away is like taking away their identity. They have *become* “mentally ill”. It is a source of support, understanding, care and validation. But have they ever been offered any of that *without* having to become “mentally ill”? Why is the paradigm not offered honestly, as an analogy, as one way of looking at things with no scientific substantiation? Why is it represented as “fact”?

            What happens when a person starts to experience difficulties for the first time, they don’t yet have an identity of “mental illness” they are just a vulnerable person looking for help understanding a very complex set of life circumstances and history. Should we really be telling them they have an illness they will never recover from? One that we have no evidence of existing?

            Does doing that even make financial sense, from an insurance actuarial point of view? If we must be gauche about it. Wouldn’t the insurance companies benefit if *people were actually facilitated to make a full recovery* from overwhelming life stress?

            How is that possible if we are busy indoctrinating them to believe, based on no evidence whatsoever, that they have an illness they will have for the rest of their lives?

            “My guess is that the doctor does believe in mental illness but thinks it’s over diagnosed. I’m guessing they think that there is clinical mania, for instance. I, for one, have seen the damaging effects on peoples’ lives who have experienced this level of distress.”

            Ugh, in my experience, doctors have been well indoctrinated too. And I’m tired of having to be deprogramming them from that brainwashing. I’d like to see some responsibility taken. The APA and the WHO have no right to declare diseases which are ideologically based and for which there is no evidence. They have been looking for evidence for a long, long time and still not found it.

            This is 2018, not 1800 doctors who have no evidence have no right to make up diseases that don’t exist. It is frankly both literally and figuratively sickening.

          • Fred,

            I know how service user feels/thinks because I listen to them. I have talked with hundreds of such folks, most of whom say positive or neutral things about their treatment. I have read little turtles comments for quite some time, and it is clear where they stand. While you think “mental illness” is “mythical”, service users like little turtle and others clearly disagree. They have said so in their posts.

            I agree with your concerns and criticisms of diagnosing and the DSM. I plan to get out of the MH system because I’m sick of being required to use these non-scientific labels on people. The main benefit to diagnosing is that the service becomes billable. But of course the client doesn’t benefit from this!

          • I think there is a big difference between saying that clients often appreciate the services you provide and that the concept of “mental illness” is metaphorical and to a large degree mythological. It’s important to remember that “mental illnesses” are GROUPINGS of “symptoms” that are categorized as “illnesses” by the medical profession, and that the DSM is the current set of such definitions. If you think the DSM is bullshit, you’re agreeing that “mental illnesses” as construed by the DSM are mythological.

            I think the point has been made too many times to count that saying that “mental illnesses” as medical entities that can be studied, diagnosed, or “treated” are mythological does not mean that SUFFERING is mythological, or that genuine help for such suffering is not possible. The myth we’re talking about here is the idea that a person can run someone through a checklist of “symptoms” and conclude that they “Have depression” or that someone can magically distinguish between “situational depression” and “clinical depression” or that we can conclude that “mania” is a brain problem because the brain does stuff differently when someone is elated or intense. Those are the myths. The fact that you are able to help people or at least not harm them when they come to you for help is a worthy accomplishment. But the fact that they appreciate your assistance does nothing to show that “mental illnesses” are anything more than the social constructs you see in the DSM.

          • fred77,

            Good post (tho I only read the first half so far) — the only thing I would point out is (and this is a hair-pulling-out obvious kind of thing to me) that there can NEVER be “hard evidence” for “mental” illness since the mind is not an organ. The “mind” can no more have a disease than it can have a color, or a new car. It is an abstraction that can have a “disease” on in a metaphorical, poetic sense; upon autopsy the “mind” cannot be examined for “schizophrenia,” et al.

            There can be “hard evidence” for “mental illness” only when one has hard evidence that language no longer means the things it used to, that analogies are the same as equivalencies, and that cats and dogs come out of the sky when it rains real hard.

          • I’ll just gently remind us all that we don’t diagnose heart problems or cancer based on how someone feels about the diagnosis. The fact that such criteria are even considered in such a discussion proves the point that these “mental illnesses” are not objectively observable and are, in fact, social constructs that people choose to use or not use as best fits their needs and cultural belief systems.

          • Steve,
            I agree that the DSM is social construction. My point is that many clients don’t view “mental illness” as an invalid construct. Mental illness as a scientific concept is yet to be proven. I tell my clients these days that there is no evidence to support the labels; nevertheless, many of them still conclude that the description is helpful and makes sense of their experience.

          • I agree that this is the case. But what that means is that we are in the area of PHILOSOPHY, not science or medicine. We don’t assign medical diagnoses because people “find them helpful.” Cancer is not a way of thinking about yourself – it is an observable THING or that is growing inside you that will kill you if you don’t do something about it. If people want to think of themselves as “ill” or “neurodivergent” or whatever, that’s their choice. That doesn’t make it OK for the psychiatric profession to pretend that these phenomena are “illnesses” in the same sense as diabetes or cancer or a blood clot in your artery.

  13. Shaun f,

    “I’m guessing they think that there is clinical mania, for instance. I, for one, have seen the damaging effects on peoples’ lives who have experienced this level of distress”

    Apologies, in making my last post I actually read this to mean that your guess was that doctors believed there was “clinical mania” – in the sense of a mania for doctors to diagnose everyone who walks in their door with a difficult life problem. It actually didn’t occur to me that you were referring to anything else. I thought you were referring to the phenomenon complained about by Allan Frances.

    High levels of distress do have damaging effects. That’s not what is in dispute here. What is in dispute is the idea of “mania” as a medical notion about the distressed people.

    Language affects us. “mania” is defined in the common sense by one dictionary as “an excessive enthusiasm or desire; an obsession.” This is what I took you to mean: excessive enthusiasm or desire for and obsession with clinically diagnosing.

    But on second look, I think you actually meant “mania” as defined by the same dictionary as “mental illness marked by periods of great excitement or euphoria, delusions, and overactivity.”

    My response to the correction is essentially the same. Doctors have been indoctrinated into believing in this construct. As have their patients. That is not to say that people do not go through periods of great excitement or euphoria. Lots of people do. To varying degrees. It is not always harmful and doctors are not very good at delineating which is or isn’t harmful. Largely because they rely on the mental status exam, which entirely decontextualised a person from their history, context an subjective and complex inner workings and motivations. Similarly people can experience or express things that doctors interpret as delusions but this is equally fraught for a wide variety of reasons it would take too long, and too much energy to discuss here. I refer you to Mary Boyle’s excellent book “Schizophrenia, a scientific delusion?”.

    Sometimes, such experiences can be genuinely extreme and have a damaging effect in people’s lives. But that is not in any way a reason to suddenly decide they are caused by a “disease” or “brain disorder”, stripping away all context of a person’s life history and subjective inner experience. To jump to such an unsubstantiated position, has so little logical impetus that it has the character of what is considered “delusion” itself.

    Often what doctors consider “delusion” can be a complex, heterogeneous and varied set of different thought processes in different people. Or just plain misunderstanding of what the person is trying to say. A person may be making meaning in metaphors, as one of many, many different examples.

    Grouping people together based on what a doctor thinks is “delusion” is absurd. And doesn’t help a person recover, or unwind and make sense of their own unique complex emotional and thinking patterns in their own subjective and inner and outer interpersonal context.

    These groupings are often traced back to Emile Kraepilin who was born in 1856. He was not a very good person. In one “symptom”, he named “involuntary obedience” where he noted the patient continued to stick out his tongue when Kraepilin asked him to, despite Kraepilin threatening to stab it with a needle. The patients were involuntarily locked up in Kraepilin’s care and completely under his power. That is the level of decontextualised that has gone into psychiatrists’ history.

    It might sound barbaric but there are many barbaric acts being committed as we speak in psychiatric wards around the world. Psychiatrists are not trained to empower people to understand and explore their inner world’s, or to make people feel safe when they are traumatized and terrified to the point of extreme distress. They are trained in general medicine and then they learn from what other psychiatrists are doing that’s basically drugs. Neuroleptics are still the primary form of treatment for “mood disorders” and “schizophrenia and related disorders” in Australia and probably elsewhere. Where there are therapies indicated what is considered “evidence based” just means what got published in a comparative study. None of it takes on the juggernaut if admitting that psychiatrists do not have a clue what is going on. That’s a good starting point. When we admit what we don’t know we can start to learn.

    The history of psychiatry is that it got in through the “back door” of medicine – it started before medical science truly existed in the physical sphere. So-called biological psychiatry with its assumptions that severe emotional distress was caused by a brain defect (originally assumed to be a brain lesion and reinvented since then) the science was assumed to come along and prove them right later. They didn’t need any science to have a belief in the 19th century. It was perfectly OK to conduct medicine based on whatever popped into your head, or suited your financial interests, delusions or fancies. That was not so very uncommon.

    But in 2018 to still be conducting medicine this way just so that a professional organisation dies not have to admit they were wrong and didn’t look too closely at the evidence or the history is culpable.

    Human beings have a psyche. Our brains’ structure and function changes throughout our lives as we learn and grow in our relationship to ourselves and others. There is ample evidence for this. Teaching people that they have a “mental illness”, that there is no connection to be found between their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and their inner and outer personal subjective experience, that sense can’t be made, that healing can’t be found, is culpable. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that training people to believe they are “sick” will help them to get well. There is a lot of evidence that suggests it is entirely plausible that training people to believe they will be sick forever and suffer the same patterns over and over again – training people to decontextualised their already complex problems even further, will make them “sick”. They are being given the identity and expectation of a chronic illness. And they have a neuroplasticity brain.

    Try getting the ethics approval for that long term experiment. “Can I make a person sick by convincing them everything they think, feel and do is a symptom of an illness and altering the entire society around them to believe it too”.

    Well…nobody did.

  14. Hi,

    In one of my posts, I described what happened to involuntary patients in psychiatric wards. That passage seems to have been lost, or at least I can’t find it by searching.

    So I’m going to say it again because I think it’s very important that it is heard. Please accept my apologies if this is a replication due to my poor text-searching.

    When a patient is admitted to a psychiatric ward, the default treatment is neuroleptics. If the neuroleptics do not “work” in producing the desired response in the patient, stronger neuroleptics are given, as well as additional medications. When the medication option has been exhausted, the psychiatrist then turns to inducing a convulsion, similar to an epileptic fit. This is what used to be called “shock therapy”. It is now called Electro-Convulsive therapy or ECT. ECT is administered under an anaesthetic, and other drugs are given to prevent the body from actually appearing to convulse. But in terms of what is being done to the brain, it is still the same shock therapy. Patients who get this experience large chunks of memory loss, some of which may be permanent and potentially other brain damage. The effects have not been widely studied. Few sham controls with a double blind including the full procedure without the convulsion. Those few that had showed no significant “improvement” over controls. It is still often a default resort after neuroleptics have failed to produce the desired result. There is also a “neurosurgery” option available as a last, last resort. I do not know exactly what this entails or how similar or different it is to the old “lobotomy”. But it exists. All of these measures, save neurosurgery, are routinely used involuntarily. There are laws allowing neurosurgery to be used involuntarily. What I have described is essentially the standard course of “treatment” for so-called ‘serious mental illness’ in public hospitals in Australia today, still. As far as I have heard it is similar in the US and other places.

    Patients are essentially punished for the failure of treatment. First with neuroleptics, then with ECT and it is possible to even go so far as neurosurgery.

    As well as this patients who are involuntarily detained in such an environment, who act out in flight or fight are routinely strappex to beds or secluded – which means being locked in solitary confinement. It is not legal to do so, but I have frequently seen seclusion used or threatened as a punishment by frustrated nurses, for anything from talking back to not being able to decide when to take night meds. Some nurses believe that seclusion is actually a form of “treatment”. Although this is not legal it appears to be a gap in their training or understanding.

    I wonder what all of that might be doing to a neuroplastic brain, already traumatised when the person comes to hospital?

    This is not medicine.

    There are good reasons why you may see survivors on this site talk about things that might sound strange to you, like “pharma-pocalypse”. These are not fantasies or delusions. Yet, the attempt to speak out about this injustice is seen as a “symptom”, usually a “delusion”.

    I have seen one young lady, in a ward who was medicated souch that she could not talk. (This is called “chemical restraint” and it is legal in my state). She could, however yell through the chemical restraint with concentrated effort. Each time she would try to speak and it would come out as an unintelligible mumble. She would keep trying as we asked her what she was wanting to say. Finally, she would screw up her face in concentration and yell through the restraint. She shouted, clear as a bell “HDU is a human rights abuse. HDU should be shut down”. HDU is the ‘High Dependency Unit”, the most locked part of the ward where seclusion and chemical restraint take place. For attempting to communicate she was immediately grabbed and locked in seclusion.

    It was 2017.

    As I have said. This is not medicine. It is a very different beast.

    • Hi fred

      You mention “chemical restraints” being lawful in Australia, which is totally accurate. I would add from a report by our Chief psychiatrist that there is “no National Standard as to what constitutes a chemical restraint”. Think about that for a little. Saying no means you have opened the gate for a chemical restraint with no holds barred. Dribble therapy I once called it. Franchises of Chelmsford setting up all over the country.

      • Dribble is apt.

        But the scary thing is that chemical restraint doesn’t even pretend to be therapy.

        So to the non survivors here, this is why we object so strongly when notable psychiatrists, with a reputation for being “groundbreaking” in exposing the myth of medication post on MIA actually advocating for some kind of supra-legal “social control” of people seen to have a “mental illness”.

        It’s brutal, I know but it is a brutal truth.

        Unfortunately, these people often have no idea of the reality of what that “social control” entails. At least, I certainly hope that is the case.

        Others, who work in nursing see it or practice it on a daily basis and still advocate it. Such is the empathy gap.

        So please, tell me if you may – what makes them “the experts”?

        • I once had someone tell me that in mathematics X usually equals zero, and a spert is a drip put under pressure.

          Our Chief psychiatrist provides “expert legal advice to the Minister”, but sent me a letter stating he didn’t understand the “reasonable person standard”. Authorities, not experts. Power with no understanding of the science.

          • Funnily enough, I called it dribble therapy after meeting a Finn in the locked ward. People were struggling to understand him due to the “chemical restraint” that had been administered. Speaking in tongues being the symptom.
            His flight response had been cut off by police with handcuffs, and when they told him they were going to have him pack raped at the station, he went balistic. Off to the psych unit and he was dribbling for 8 weeks. Released on a CTO and a belief he had a mental illness lol. He got drunk and stoned and smashed his stuff up with reason ffs.
            Should have seen his face light up when I said to the two nurses bringing his drugs “Ahhhh Satana and Perkele are here” lol

  15. Hi,

    My concluding remarks. I put in a special effort here because yesterday was world suicide day. Thank you everyone so much for your awesomeness, your insights and your patience with my long posts.

    Boans posted, quite rightly:
    “Authorities, not experts. Power with no understanding of the science.”

    But I think there’s a need to be careful about “the science”

    There has been some very interesting work looking into neuroplasticity and development, neuroplasticity and relationships, neuroplasticity in trauma.

    It does yield some fascinating insight into the human mind and some of the interesting work was done by some gebuinely unusual psychiatrists.

    But they were still of their field and started out, to varying degrees, still looking for patterns and groupings between and amongst person’s with the view of defining another “mental disorder”.

    Breaking this issue open is about exposing the underlying, often unacknowledged assumptions. That there is a good reason to group people into different “mental disorders” under the assumption that these groupings are anything other than an artefact of the underlying assotion that such categories exist and are meaningful for all humans.

    Rather than recognising that neuroplasticity means we hans are all, entirely unique and our way of developing uniqueness is also entirely unique.

    Patterns can be found anywhere, even a snowstorm. That doesn’t mean the patterns are the important thing to note.

    But learning is so flexible that it can produce entirely individual, unique psyches.

    We all have the capacity to experience and make meaning of our experiences in entirely individual ways.

    Creating a unified bio-psych-social model of “mental disorder” is already being pushed. But it is just another case of “the paradigm is dead, long live the paradigm”.

    The essence of neuroplasticity research, to me is that it demonstrates the physical analogue of what we already knew – we learn and grow and as we do our psyche changes.

    Science is not by any means the only way to explore the world. An individual exploration of the world through metaphor, symbolism, allegory have all long been part of literature.

    Any human psyche can evolve into any unique being, as varied as the billions of lifeforms that we share this world with.

    We like to group and categorise them too, but it always runs into difficulties and taxonomists always argue vehemently about their, ironically individual, systems of categorisation.

    Patterns can be seen anywhere, even in a snowstorm, that does not translate into those patterns or the search for them being meaningful. We do not know how much they were an artefact of starting out with the assumption that we could categorise people and experience into meaningful groups. I would suggest – by and large a great deal. There are too many weird and wonderful ways that a human can develop and change and develop and change again.

    We search for patterns in the annals and plants to track evolutionary biology of isolated or semi-isolated groups.

    Unless we aim to turn humans into isolated or semi-isolated groups it makes no sense to categorise them as “normal” or “abnormal”. This is the first and worst grouping.

    The attempts to categorise have, predictably lead to shifting and reshifting boundaries and an absurd amount of “comorbidities” and other such nonsense. But the first problem was starting with “abnormal” it “normal”. There is no such thing except in the eyes who want to put it there.

    There are problems, big and small but the number of ways they can mend an the number of ways they can form are both infinite.

    There can be no unified theory of grouping into “normal” or “abnormal”, when we do this we are setting up a boundary in order to create isolated, and semi-isolated groups in the shared environment. This is when we get the group dynamics. Such as survivors all knowing that other survivors are likely to have had shared experiences, even though they have never met.

    To give people, all people back their personhood, we need to start by understanding all problems are normal. And there is no reason for anyone to cry “disorder”or “abnormal” because it looks weird to you.

    The environment may be shared but we all have individual responses. It’s just easier to understand and have compassion and empathy for someone whose experience more closely resembles your own.

    Making people with vastly different experiences the experts is absurd. They then resort to studying their fellow humans as if they were under a microscope.

    We each need access to compassion and understanding that allows each of us to find our own meaning, our own way. That means diversity of services and freedom of choice and when I say we each I mean all humans.

    If we must decide who can get “billables” let it be down to the problem at hand. Can I get a billable for an existential crisis? Of course, it doesn’t matter what a person calls it what matters is that whatever it is it has become too much for that person to handle alone or in their available social network.

    Should it go on their medical record? I don’t think so frankly. It isn’t a medical problem.

    If there is to be resilience screening for a job or a placement let it treat all people equally. Whether someone solves their crisis with professional support or family or pastoral support should not be remotely relevant. What is relevant is their problem solving ability, as it stands today.

    Should governments and insurance companies provide payment for these services. Absolutely. It’s a wise thing to do. If we solve our difficult life problems we will all be more healthy. The link between genuine physical illness and stress is a no-brainer.

    Insurance pay for dental checks. That’s not a medical problem. That doesn’t meanI am advocating “mental health checks” no-one can administer a test to see if someone is having a problem. If you ask someone if they are having a problem, they may probably find one. That’s not the same as someone coming to you because they are struggling with a problem they can’t solve by themselves and want your help finding a way to find the right kind of support and help for them.

    Where should people go when they are having a life problem? To a range of places , professional and non professional none of whom should label, diagnose or categorise them or impose any of their preconceptions. Each should honestly describe the service they offer, make sure the person knows there are others and support the person to decide for themselves. Perhaps describing this landscape would be what we could think about in reframing “mental illness” or “mental health” to difficult life problems. Advertising of products and services in this space is already an ethical juggernaut. But to be honest, that is only when it’s exploitative. Examples of this might be the “mental illness is real” advertising – marketed as “anti-stigma”, drug advertising to doctors, professional advertising of cognitive-behavioural approaches. Strangely all of the “standard” or purportedly “evidenced based” responses that have made it into psychiatric and other medicalisation guidelines have been heavily advertised. But if there are going to be “therapists” then honestly, should they really be competing business-people looking to corner a market:in a particular mode or model? Or wouldn’t it be more ethical to learn to be as flexible as possible and learn from reality?

    We need to give up on trying to find ways to categorise and isolate ourselves and each other and look around, smell the roses, check out the incredible diversity of the world.

    A world where it should be possible to seek genuine help without either labelling or shame. Or both.

  16. “Rather than recognising that neuroplasticity means we hans are all, entirely unique and our way of developing uniqueness is also entirely unique.

    Patterns can be found anywhere, even a snowstorm. That doesn’t mean the patterns are the important thing to note.”

    Human beings are not entirely unique. In fact, it goes even further than that. For a long time our anthropocentrism got the better of us, and our long-gone cousins were depicted in science and popular culture as entirely unique, bestial. Whereas, cor blimey and strike a light, it’s now understood that they weren’t entirely unique, but humblingly very alike indeed. Just read about the neanderthals in europe.

    It’s interesting — to me at least — that the same people that claim snowflake uniqueness are also often to be found aggrandising Jung. And Jung gave rise to the Myers Briggs testing of personality types…

    People are not entirely unique. Even one hominid compared to another, are not entirely unique. And what a horror show it would be if we were. What a desperately lonely planet…

    “We need to give up on trying to find ways to categorise and isolate ourselves and each other and look around, smell the roses, check out the incredible diversity of the world.”

    Yeah man. Like ants and frogs and tuna. Noted for their interpersonal uniqueness?

    Smell the rose in Prague or smell the Rose in Kentucky. Not the same rose but close your eyes and you could be anywhere.

    “A world where it should be possible to seek genuine help without either labelling or shame. Or both.”

    Do you extend this to the socially more acceptable (although nonetheless stigmatising) diagnoses such as fibromyalgia and migraine headaches?

    • There seems to be an angry subtext in this comment but it’s not explicit. Something like “aren’t you a special little snowflake”?

      What exactly are you saying RR?

      I don’t see anything exceptionalist about believing that every experience of existence is unique, including whatever ants frogs and tuna experience, or that people (and maybe other beings, for all I know) are more fluid than we ever imagined, in being able to change what and how we experience. That maybe those tracks our minds slip into so effortlessly are habits that can move, and that even small digressions can show that we were kidding ourselves that we thought we knew much of anything.

      It seems that what you seem to feel quite defensive about is more of a consensus than a reality. We need consensus, but I don’t quite understand why you feel so protective of any particular one. They are not exactly endangered species.

    • RR,

      I tried a few replies to your post, but at the end of the day I just don’t get it.

      Either we’re all unique or we’re all alike – either way where is the argument here that we should have stupid mental health diagnoses, and how are they any more valid then Myers-Briggs, which is a crock?

      I’ve never read jung and I referred to a snowstorm as something that doesn’t have any real obvious patterns in it – but you could still find them if you already believed they were there, as with cloud pictures, or myers-briggs, or DSM5, or ICD-11.

      The diversity I was talking about was that there are frogs and tuna and roses and so forth. Or are you saying that frogs are exactly like tuna? They each evolved differently to fit a different ecological niche – over billions of years by interacting with different environments, in different ways they became different.

      Neuroplasticity research has demonstrated that our brains change their structure and function throughout a person’s life, as the person learns and adapts. So why would you want to teach your brain to think that you are “mentally ill” and have to keep repeating the same patterns over and over? Wouldn’t you rather teach it that you are not mentally ill, that whatever patterns you have were adapted to try and cope from (a probably completely horrible) set of complex life experiences and in understanding that (and maybe something about how they were learned) and that with the right support you can learn to change them? That this might be difficult and take work and time and support. But that it isn’t impossible?

      If not then you are choosing to spend the rest of your life as mentally ill. Sorry but that’s really how it looks to me. Its one thing to say, at the end of life – I did all I could and thanks for the support along the way. It’s another thing to say: the moment I started suffering, I decided I was going to have a mental illness for the rest of my life – and drag everyone else down with me because if I can’t get over it then they can’t either. – That is what a diagnosis does. We all get labelled the same, whether or not we are entirely different.

      Why should I support my life being dragged through the mud because someone else wants to manufacture an illness? So if I ever vaguely resembled something they periodically resemble and don’t want to change I now also have to be diagnosed with “serious mental illness that can never be cured” and drag it with me to every job questionaire for the rest of my life? Even if I’ve done the hard work and taken the time and actually made sense of my complex experience and changed my brain and/or ways of coping with and relating with life and with past experiences I hadn’t previously resolved?

      Should children who talk back to their parents, be now diagnosed with a “mental illness” just so that stalwarts who like that identity don’t have to give it up? Should young people who hit an existential crisis and end up fragmented, and need help recovering and cementing their sense of selves and moving on with the rest of their lives have to instead spend it as people with “serious mental illness”, repeating the unresolved experience over and over – just so you can?

      Sorry, it’s bollocks. It needs to go and the writing is on the wall.

      ““A world where it should be possible to seek genuine help without either labelling or shame. Or both.”

      Do you extend this to the socially more acceptable (although nonetheless stigmatising) diagnoses such as fibromyalgia and migraine headaches?”

      Wow, I never saw them before. Migraines have been around forever, and some people are prone to migraines more than others. But this “diagnosis” of “migraine disorder” is new. So up until now, people have been having migraines, being prone to migraines and going to the GP, natropath and whoever else for sensible help on migraines – are now supposed to be diagnosed with “migraine disorder” and treated with psychiatric drugs?

      You don’t see a problem with that?

      Did you know that the research into SSRI’s indicates that they work, at least in part, but possibly entirely as an activated placebo? The power of suggestion is huge.

      If migraines and pain are being found to be able to be treated with psychological techniques then yes- I do extend that logic. Migraines have been dealt with for decades without a diagnosis of migraine disorder. If psychological treatments can treat them, that’s awesome. But why the hell does someone need a label attached to the person- not the migraine? It was never needed before.

      But when it comes to what gets called “mental illness” when you break open the box of arbitrarily assigned “symptoms”, the emotions and thought processes that are going on are different for each person.

      If I’m afraid of something, and then I get diagnosed with “generalised anxiety disorder” how does that go any distance towards figuring out why I’m getting afraid, if I can’t figure out why I’m getting afraid, how do I stop getting afraid.

      Can you point me to anything about being diagnosed with a mental illness that helps sort out whatever problem a person was experiencing that brought them to the place where they got diagnosed?

      Can you point me to anything, at all in the “mental status exam” that makes one iota of logical sense?

      Can you point out how the practices that were described that are used to “treat mental illness” in a psychiatric ward demonstrate any understanding whatsoever of what the clients are going through, any genuine medical basis or any result other than producing drugged-out or brain-damaged people with behavioural problems?

      Why in gods name would you want to keep this ridiculous paradigm?

      What I do think, is that people should be able to get support for as long as they need it. What I don’t think is that if I see someone going through an experience that is difficult, I should call it “psychosis” or “mania” or “depression” and then label the person with a disorder. I think its our responsibility to talk to the person, learn about their world and figure out what is really going on and how to genuinely help them.

      Sorry, I just realised I assumed you were a consumer – are you a consumer or a therapist?

      • I’m not an ignoramaus so’s I’ll bash out a reply just as soon as I feel confident that my prose gives me the edge.

        In the meantime try and think of one thing about yourself that no other human being possesses. You are not allowed to say “my mind” because it’s an hallucination and thus doesn’t exist. Something which doesn’t exist is not unique.

  17. my psychiatrist refuses to see drug reps….
    my psychiatrist will not force his patients
    into the hospital against their will..
    my psychiatrist does not pressure patients
    to take psych drugs…
    my psychiatrist refuses to see a patient
    every 15 minutes…
    my psychiatrist is not rich…

    • littleturtle

      I believe that you spoke volumes with your last line. “my psychiatrist is not rich…” says it all. I think that this is one of two driving factors driving the majority of psychiatrists today. They want the nice big cars, the fat bank accounts, the private schools for their kids, their nice big houses in gated communities. Actually sitting down and interacting with people to see where the Journey might take the two of them would get in the way of all these things because the insurance will pay for nothing but the drugging of people.

      The second big reason driving psychiatrists to do what they do today is that they need their egos stroked so that they can think of themselves as being real doctors. They were never accepted in the medical community as real doctors until the advent of the damned toxic drugs.

      I’m glad that you’ve found a true treasure in your psychiatrist. There are a few out there but they’re not the majority.

  18. It’s “littleturtle”, with no caps, & no spaces. Not “LittleTurtle”, or “Little Turtle”.
    Can’t you people pay attention?
    I originally clicked “reply”, about 20 – 25 comments above,
    but somehow my comment ended up down here!….
    Hey, littleturtle has over 370 comments. I always look forward to them, even tho littleturtle and I don’t agree
    on some things. littleturtle still has a valuable voice, and point of view.
    And I agree with what Steve McCrae says:
    littleturtle and their psychiatrist seem to be exceptions which prove the rule…..

  19. littleturtle is awesome and shouldn’t have got dragged into that poofight, it was poor form, sorry 🙁

    but the caps and spaces were phone autocorrect

    I don’t know that I can say littleturtle’s psychiatrist is awesome though, without knowing more…