“I Love My Diagnosis”: The Benefits of Mental Illness

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An acquaintance recently shared with me what he apparently felt was outstanding news:

“I just found out I’m clinically depressed!” he beamed with pride.

He perhaps thought that I, as a psychiatrist, would share in his excitement. Maybe he thought it would strike a chord of kinship for me to know he’s “one of my people.” Or part of my “target population.” In line with my training, I was struck with how his affect seemed seriously off-kilter given his proclaimed diagnosis. (Hmm, come to think of it, maybe he really was deeply disturbed).

In inquiring further, I learned that he was supremely satisfied to discover that there is now an explanation for the sense of personal dysfunction (his words) that he says he has experienced his entire life. He wore his new diagnosis like a shiny badge—as if he’d just joined an elite and exclusive club.

The sentiments of my acquaintance are not a mere anomaly. Indeed, after nearly four decades in the mental health industry, I’ve seen more than a few patients (like, WAY more than a few) who visited my office actually hoping for a diagnosis. Once granted that special status, many of them would then promptly inform everyone around them—friends, family, the HR department—so that everyone could get on board and act accordingly, altering any expectations they might otherwise have for this person. (After all, we can only expect so much from someone who is mentally ill.) I have even had patients leave my office angrily when, upon examination, I shared my conclusion that they did not meet the clinical criteria for mental illness. Some announced they would find a physician who would “properly” diagnose them.

I do not intend to make light of these or any patients. And, despite the risk of appearing unsympathetic, I’m bringing this up because it’s a symptom of a larger cultural issue relative to mental health.

How could someone be upset to learn that they are mentally healthy? Most people suspecting a serious physical disease, such as cancer, would certainly like to hear that, despite their worries, they are in fact cancer-free. To celebrate the discovery that one has a “serious illness” seems absurd on the surface, if not masochistic.

All of this points to the reality that mental illness may provide the beholder some unique benefits. A payoff. What inherent benefits or payoffs may exist for identifying oneself as mentally ill?

Here are some areas in which I have seen those carrying a diagnosis of mental illness regarding it as an advantage, and providing a sense of relief:

  1. In the areas of life for which their illness affects them, patients can be less accountable. If they present as ineffective, nonproductive, mean, tired, angry, hopeless, or desperate, they no longer need to take entire responsibility for their actions. Surely, it’s not all “them”—their mental illness can bear some, if not all, of the responsibility for their behavior.

  1. Patients with mental illness do not have to face themselves quite so squarely when they fail in relationships—at work or at home—as a result of how they acted or what they said. Again, given their mental illness, surely others should provide some additional grace or leeway for them to perform less than optimally in these critical areas of life.

  1. Patients no longer have to subject themselves to the emotionally risky business of assessing and altering their lives in areas where they feel weak or deficient. They may instead fall back on their illness as being causative, or at least as appreciably contributing to their failings. (And surely no one would dare to challenge this notion. After all, they are “sick.”)

  1. Patients have the opportunity to remain upset, depressed, anxious and/or ineffective as a baseline. No need to consider alternatives. Again, once clinically diagnosed, there is a limit to what others can reasonably expect.

There is another prevailing social phenomenon that contributes to the empowerment of the “mentally ill” person invoking the four points above. And that is the strong backlash against the stigma of mental illness.

Before I go on, I want to acknowledge that I am fully aware that the position I am sharing here might be perceived by some as bumping into that stigma with significant velocity.

While it may not be apparent at this point in the article, those who know me can attest to the following:

Everything I say is driven by a deep stand for the mentally diagnosed. I am standing for the possibility of a profound level of empowerment, and a full and rich life, for those who have been diagnosed as mentally ill.

I hope that is very clear.

So, we have reviewed some benefits that a diagnosis of “mental illness” can afford patients. But what’s in it for the other side? In other words, why do doctors and mental health workers keep diagnoses alive?

Indeed, it’s not only the patients who “benefit” from a diagnosis. Mental health professionals indeed have a serious stake in the matter. This is how it works:

By declaring someone mentally ill, the clinician instantly creates a new patient. This may result in a long-term arrangement, and for the treating clinician, both a source of personal gratification and income. The clinician gets to feel good about “helping” a sick person, and gets paid for it, too.

This inherent conflict of interest in no way suggests that the mental health industry is simply self-serving or lacking in genuine care and concern for patients. However, it does imply that a redefinition of mental illness would threaten the core of the industry. That’s practically undeniable.

There is little to no incentive to discuss or even examine the possibility of redefining mental illness. As a handsomely paid psychiatrist, for example, why would I want to threaten my livelihood? Perhaps a better question is: why did I give up my livelihood? Because the truth is, I did.

On top of the “benefits” to both patient and clinician, there is another party (parties, really) involved in the equation that makes the reassessment of mental illness seemingly impossible. Specifically, the purveyors of the substances marketed to treat the symptoms.

Not only are the drug companies deeply invested in the current model (what I call diagnose-drug-dismiss), but there is something inherent in the medication itself that seems to validate the mental illness narrative. Specifically, it is my controversial opinion that the first-line treatments currently used for the mentally ill, namely psychotropic medications, may actually reliably perpetuate or even cause the symptoms that they are marketed to treat.

Yes, I know that’s a big claim to make, and one whose implications require further explanation and discussion. I intend to crack those open in future posts.

Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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

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287 COMMENTS

  1. What? No comments? I liked reading your piece and agree heartily. Validation is quite important to most people – perhaps even more to those who do suffer emotional/mental distress. And, for many, in the context of an appointment with a healthcare professional validation is a diagnosis. If I have the opportunity to work with such a person, over time I try – as it sounds like you do – to help them find other ways to feel valid. Thank you for your first piece here.

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    • It is such a rich topic and I love how much passion and commitment people have in whatever their stand is. Compelling to read your first comment and now really appreciating the opportunity to create the inquiry and forum for further discussion. Thank you, Dr. Lynne.

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  2. I like it.

    Mainly because of where I am at in my journey.

    I’ve even stopped talking so much about my prolonged withdrawal situation/experience now. Or expecting any recognition for it. It’s been fierce though. Trying not to hang on to withdrawal woes as my whole identity. I’m 2 plus years off them all now.

    30 years and 30 drugs. I’m kind of lucky though because I don’t ever think I was on more than 2 or 3 maximum at one time. All the classes of them. Many “diagnonsense” labels.

    Yup, I’m trying man. I am. To take responsibility. Learn and grow. Be accountable. And I hear you and think you “get it” and might understand how hard it is. The unlabeling for me is currently a challenge.

    As is my autonomic nervous system in general.

    I did go see my GP, functional doctor not too long ago. I told him I was well.

    Today…..not so much.

    Tomorrow better.

    I liked it though. And would have quoted, highlighted what I really liked but I’ve gone on long enough.

    I’ve still got some letters after my name too.
    manymore MSN(I was in pediatrics and did the NP thing there too, I let my licensure go this year though….I had downgraded to R.N. anyway…..I could not do the work I was educated and trained for after awhile. No pity party though……I had a really nice 20 year career) and also CPS(certified peer support specialist, unemployed, temporarily unavailable as I have ethical concerns around the government guidance/supervision for peers these days, hoping I can find the right balance though soon with this) Yet, I’m thankful for disability from the government. The good kind. I’ve got a little in an IRA to, to help make ends meet.

    Oh and I’m pretty stressed lately trying to climb out of months of isolation. Easily overwhelmed. That kind of thing.

    I don’t know when exactly I’ll find my new nitch in volunteering. I’ve kind of hit a big wave lately.

    Thanks for the space.

    Again. Thumbs up. Liked this piece a lot.

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    • You are very welcome, manymore. I also am grateful that you are fighting the good fight and keeping a target on what matters to you and where you can make a difference in the world. You seem to be in a search that will bring ongoing great contribution to others (including me) without even knowing you are doing so. Thank you.

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  3. Knowing a diagnosis can also be helpful if you know the self-help things you can do to stay sane. For example, knowing you’re “schizophrenic” means you’re obliged to avoid stimulants (avoiding junk food is mandatory, no matter what you’re diagnosed with) and hallucinogens (alcohol is also a no-no, even if Mark Vonnegut thinks otherwise).

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    • So Bcharris, do you recommend a paleo or vegan diet for maximum health? Or maybe pescovegetarian?

      Yes John, the “mentally ill” eat a lot of junk food along with guzzling quarts of coffee and chain smoking in a desperate attempt to counteract the horrible feeling those drugs create.

      Now I drink a cup of coffee a day. More makes me overstimulated. I’ve lost 11% of my body weight and hope to lose more.

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      • I don’t imagine faddish diets will get you anywhere. It depends on your physiology and psychology. It’s an individualized matter and depends on your dietary background and (of course) your income. The avoidance stuff is simple, but what to eat can be more difficult.

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      • Thank you, Rachel. It seems you are on the mend, and now represent those who have been there, and can forge the path for those to learn and discover from what you know.

        Clearly, diet is a critical feature in maintaining general and mental health. And the American diet is linked quite literally to the drug industry, hence the Food and Drug Administation.
        Keto, Paleo, Vegetarian, even Westin-Price and others have been making some very real dents in relearning what there still is left that is good to eat, regarding taste and functionality.

        Congratulations and thank you so much for your comment.

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    • I got that and thank you.
      I have an inquiry….. (not a challenge, but a true query)
      What if you were to learn, somehow and as the result of a true miracle, that you were not Schizophrenic, and maybe never have been, despite overwhelming and completely convincing evidence to the contrary for the years up until now? Maybe that the diagnosis was incorrect, and that the treatments had exacerbated or even caused your symptoms?
      What would be your response to that realization, completely far fetched as it is? Can you imagine?
      If freedom from the notion that you have a defect or afflication or a mental illness was available, would that be desirable and might you find yourself rejecting it?

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    • “Everything you know about obesity is wrong”. Great article.
      —————————————————-

      Szasz saw also connections between mental health and thinness. Those people are privileged. The are using their innate traits to have power over those who are beyond their theories about normalcy. They were never those beyond their own empty measurement.

      In my opinion, when you are beyond statistics you must be extremely strong.

      When you represent something which is more demanding than empty shallow apollonic nature — apollonians will detroy you in the name of “health” ( you must be happy and have convenient life —apollonic life, or you won’t have any kind of life)

      And that normal people, as those privileged, are the weakest, point compared to the polytheistic human nature. They are in easiest psychological archetype, so they are also the weakest.

      Titans do not have any privileges. The are being killed by brainless normalcy. Psychological titans represent changes, their pathology is progress.
      —————————————————
      Life of normal people (apollonian) is only a searching for convenience and happiness. For humanity it means nothing.
      —————————————————–
      Good adjustment to material reality, wealth, means nothing FOR THE PROGRESS OF HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY.

      I despise psychological monotheism, I also despise physical monotheism. Because there is connections between individual psyche and attitude to food. The link between biology and psychopathology is inseparable.
      —————————————————————————————————
      Obese people have right to their obesity.
      —————————————————————————————————–

      https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/everything-you-know-about-obesity-is-wrong/

      Everything you know about psyche is wrong.

      James Hillman “Re-Visioning psychology”

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      • People with diagnosis are terrorized by orthorexics fanatics. Yes, go and exercise for three hours because you have “schizophrenia”.

        Like I said, mentally health means privileged in empty material reality of apollonic destruction. For progress of psyche their shallow attitude toward reality means nothing.

        Apollonians are psychologically blind and they want to drive your car.

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  4. Oh, sorry I’m really rambly today.
    I prefer not to be classed as MI in any way, shape, or form now.

    Yes, bcharris, self help, non-drug coping with life!
    I can’t do recreational drugs or alcohol at all.
    Just a cuppa or two of coffee is tolerable to my system AND a comfort as well for some strange reason. It’s hot, I use coconut milk, honey, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and tumeric. I love my herbal teas as well.

    Working on the best healing diet for me that I can. It’s a work in progress for me. I can’t do extremes anymore.
    Add in nature. Movement/exercise. People in my life too- that part is hard- I just don’t know where I belong wholly, which tribe…….so I skirt around many…..mostly online. AA helps me……the 12 steps. And is everywhere…..so I do it, for community, real people, and to learn how to live, really live again. Wow…..making amends to the loved ones harmed by my psychiatric dependence, as well as the aftermath???!!! Tough stuff yet they tell me it will help…..in the long run, with my faith. Enlightenment. So I do it or am getting back to it and out of so much time on the box, online, computer time. I’ve gone overboard with it. And a different kind of faith now for me. In the Universe. In my own resilience. Accepting others for where they might be at too. Middle of the road stuff I think, for me…….works best.

    Best to all with all our healing!

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    • Your concoctions and teas sound lovely!

      It is a work in progress for all of us, really and thank you for your genuine authenticity. Nature, connection, creativity are all universally healing. AA and 12 Steps is incredible. Actually doing the Steps, with a sponsor, is a life-altering beautiful experience. Do Steps in order if you can. Step 9 has 8 steps before it for a reason. And Step 4 has 3. Acceptance is indeed the name of the game. Getting that all of this, every piece of every piece is simply part of being alive in these difficult and beautiful times.

      Welcome to Humanity is a compassionate way to manage nearly all of what life throws at me, I know.

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  5. Most people with lived experience have known for a long time that the neuroleptics and the so-called “antidepressants” cause the very things that they’re supposed to be “treating”. This is not news to us by any means. I’m just surprised that more clinical people don’t know this. The information is out there and I hold everyone accountable for finding out about it if they work with the supposedly “mentally ill”. There are no excuses in my book for not knowing about this.

    I believe that many psychiatrists actually know this but to acknowledge it would mean that they’d come under the scrutiny of their psychiatry colleagues and would be ostracized. It would also then lead to a reduction of the fatness of their billfolds and pocketbooks, it would lead to their children not being able to attend the wonderful private schools, it would lead to having to drive a smaller vehicle rather than the nice, big SUV’s. Call me cynical but I believe that many who prescribe these drugs and those who force people to take them know what the drugs do and yet they continue to use them on people.

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    • This is a fascinating perspective. I tend to agree and yet find that my psychiatrist friends are often the last to learn. Not always as wealthy as you think, and definitely struggling with life’s many facets as all of us are, they (we) are given lots of incentives to stay the course and lots of respect for doing what we do, and it is seen as very risky to one’s being to consider challenging the exact industry that has been your life’s committment for many years.

      Along with that, by doing so, psychiatrists might be left with having to face the notion that they were not helping the people that they thought they were, and in fact, may even have been inadvertently harming them. A tall task for anyone. Imagine learning that all of these years, you have been hurting your children while you thought you were doing the right, but difficult thing, in the name of helping them. The transition appears to be risky.

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      • There is one psychiatrist who did have the realization that he’d been harming people with the “treatment” he’d given them. He began calling or writing as many of his former and present “patients” as he could get in touch with so that he could apologize to them for the damage he’d inflicted. I’ve not been able to keep an eye on his progress but I suspect that he’s no longer a practicing psychiatrist.

        I have deep respect for this man because of the courage it took to do this. Too bad that there aren’t more psychiatrists like him out there in the world. And by the way, any psychiatrist out there makes more money than I do as I work in the hospital where I was once held as a “mentally ill patient”. Thanks for responding.

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      • Why do you think that psychiatrist are usually the last ones to learn all of this? This is the one and constant question I have when dealing with the psychiatrists where I work. Only two out of thirteen were even willing to try looking at the problem while the other eleven scream and froth at the mouth when you say anything.

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        • Our minds were emptied of being available to listen to new things, during our training, and it really takes something to consider that the dogma we have been trained in might be flawed or outright incorrect. We speak with certainty even when we really don’t know, because that is how we are best accepted. It really is an eye opening experience to learn that what you have been doing may actually have been harming others, when you were certain you were being held to the very highest level of helping from the top of the totem pole.

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          • My suspicion is that medical school should have a lot more of the Humanities in the curriculum, especially philosophy and the like. At least then people might begin actually evaluating what they’re told by the people teaching them.

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  6. While I admit my hackles were raised at the numbered descriptions you posted of ways a diagnosis might be desirable to a patient, I also admit seeing people I know in some of those, and perhaps myself in some. I think this phenomenon speaks A LOT to the present day idea of “mental illness” as a permanent, “just bad brain chemistry” state. That is how ingrained that belief – of a personal brain problem, not a result of life experiences, society, or physical bodily illness. In that mindset, then yes those would indeed be benefits of having a diagnosis – if “you’re depressed / anxious / bipolar etc” was seen as a inherent “disorder” of your brain, likely unescapable and the medications as a lifelong necessity and their wretched side effects as also necessary, then let’s make some lemonade from these crap lemons.
    I bought the brain chemistry malarkey for 11 years of Prozac, taken at a critical age – 16 to 27 – when what was actually wrong with me was undiagnosed physical disease (hugely worsened by the SSRI’s incidentally as well as the lack of treatment the false diagnosis allowed). Recently after in a large part the information on this site and the sources it linked me to, I know it was those incredibly overlooked (and now obvious to me – why did no doctor consider any of this?) diagnoses that I truly AM glad to receive because they mean quite the opposite. Treatable physical ailments, combined with working through lots of ACEs = not actually broken in the brain. From the perspective of HCPs, diagnosis is now necessary in order to bill for insurance as I understand it, and also as you note, to stay in business. Lots of food for thought here.

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    • Thank you.

      Great point. When you come into a psychiatrists office, they MUST diagnose you in order for insurance to pay for you. A large incentive to diagnose because if the patient does not have a diagnosis, then there is not a payable code that represents that. A twisted system towards the creation of mental illness at all cost.

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  7. Dr Fred- I love this!

    With a diagnosis of a “mental Illness” comes the end of personal responsibility. I can’t work, I can’t help, I can’t go, I can’t function. I am too sick and so you cannot blame me or be angry with me.
    Thanks for giving up your livelihood so you may tell the truth to all who need to hear it.
    Keep up the great work, and please keep writing.

    All the best!

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  8. Yeah, pretty much. When the journey to self-fulfillment is turned into a crapshoot, a certain percentage of people will simply bail on it. We’re surrounded by toxic human relationships, and psychiatry is always around, ready to “fix” us, so we’ll NEVER try to fight for our lives.

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    • Thank you.
      What if we could learn that we could leave behind the world of believing you were mentally ill forever? What if, by a miracle, that could actually happen in this lifetime? No more meds, no more docs and no more diagnosis. What would that be like?

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  9. Hi Dr. Moss, I recognize where you were trying to go with this but I think you are barking up the wrong tree by singling out people for embracing their diagnoses considering the amount of outside pressures that you only give lip service to (like the pharmaceutical industry.)

    Patients accept their diagnoses for many reasons:

    They’re “crazy” from the effects of trauma and a diagnosis is the only way they receive any validity and recognition that they are truly struggling – and the social support system that comes to the diagnosed.

    They’re physically ill with an undiagnosed illness with emotional/behavioral manifestations and a diagnosis validates their suffering – even though the diagnosis and treatment are inappropriate for their physical illness.

    They’re poor, uneducated, suffering from our toxic environment and culture and a diagnosis presents help in the form of “disability” – usually patients are convinced they’re “disabled” only because capitalism is a system of winners and losers and underperformers are left to die in the streets so disability is a good alternative to that.

    Or they’re brainwashed by media or anti-stigma campaigns that liberals mistook for compassion but secretly increase stigma.

    Or they’re too young to know any better.

    Their diagnosis gets them a reasonable accommodation that they cannot get otherwise. I have a service dog due to my PTSD diagnosis. I’d love to drop the diagnosis but she serves a real function in my life and I’m not apologetic for that.

    Of course, CNN today wants us to know that the Sandy Hook father that recently took his own life was doing good work on researching the source of violence in the brain (bullshit), and that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance that serotonin drugs fix (also bullshit). The Sandy Hook activists want everyone to believe that there is a thing called “mental illness” (bullshit) that some of us have and that we should be targeted for having our guns taken away – slippery slope to violate the rights of small portions of the population at a time.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/04/health/jeremy-richman-sandy-hook-dad-brain-science/index.html

    “Mental illness” is a political football and suggesting that those who are deluded by the current cultural attitudes embracing treatment are doing anything more than getting their needs met in a culturally acceptable way is in many respects blaming the victim.

    It would be really helpful if the doctors who have been posting recently speculating why their patients believe thy are mentally ill were actually aware of and/or made any attempt to elucidate the actual cultural and socioeconomic causes of social/emotional dysfunction rather than navel gaze at the motivations of the targeted population.

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    • KindredSpirit you make good points. People are brain washed by the media as well as the psychiatric and mental health industry. Also propaganda constantly fed to public to the effect “Mental illness is a illness just like every other illness”. Gag.

      I agree blame does not fall solely on the motivations of people seeking help for difficult life circumstances. There are many other motivations at work here and I am glad Dr. Moss touched on them at the end of his post, including a psychiatrist’s personal gratification, income etc.

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    • I absolutely do NOT blame the patients or those accepting their diagnoses for the perpetuation of the cyclical atrocity. There are plenty of twisted incentives at all levels that allow for good, well meaning people to continue doing what they do, to feed the system in perpetuity, and seemingly not even see the critical role that they have in the process. It certainly is not the patient’s fault and they are not to blame. They are a cog in a great big, massively corrupted system that is not working, at least not as well as it could be.

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      • I think you may want to add one more incentive: parents or caretakers benefit from “diagnosis” by having the responsibility for figuring out what’s going on and how to help taken from their shoulders. It’s not because you need to develop more effective parenting skills – she has Bipolar Disorder! It’s not that you’re a boring teacher with poor classroom management – he has ADHD! It’s not that we’re neglecting our child – she has Depression! It makes it easy for parents, teachers and other caretakers to blame the child for their inability to care appropriately for him/her or to figure out what s/he needs.

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    • Not just guns. The “MI” already have no Second Amendment rights. A lot of do-gooders want us all locked up in institutions. At least the “severe” cases. “Softies” described in this article who like to talk about the “brain disease called depression” will probably be left to lead almost normal lives and praise the miraculous SSRI drugs. Assuming they don’t have a reaction like I did and wind up labeled “bipolar.”

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  10. Szazs would agree that many embrace the role of madman or madwoman.

    I hated mine, but never questioned it. I felt there was something wrong with me. Everyone expected me to be someone I wasn’t. Sweet, soft-spoken, fine-boned, slender, blonde, never angry only gentle tears under the worst circumstances, smiling nearly always. The Perfect Preacher’s Daughter.

    At 20, after I was labeled “Schizo affective” thanks to a bad reaction to Anafranil I hated myself. Couldn’t quit thinking of ways to kill myself.

    They told me no one could ever love a crazy freak like me. Also I could never even earn an independent living since no one hired SMIs. Not like I could work full time. 🙁

    I did Number 1 on the list. But as a consolation prize. I really believed I was a sick, crazy monster.

    It was a relief to realize I wasn’t hopelessly insane. But at 45 my life is mostly over. Not sure there’s much of anything worth saving. 😛

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    • I Really appreciate this heart felt post. Although you feel beaten up and tattered, perhaps, just perhaps, it could be temporary.
      At 45, you might not even be 1/2 way through your life here on Earth. Far from over, maybe it’s time to take what you have learned, everything you have learned, accept it for the unique life experience it has been, and be a contribution to those behind you, or to yourself, in ways that you never thought of before.

      Just an idea.

      Thank you again,

      Dr. Fred

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  11. Thanks for this post. I couldn’t help but feel there is a some lack of compassion in how you’ve characterized people’s motives. I’m not discounting your observations, they certainly have some validity, but you seem to over-look how diagnoses fulfill other more basic, human needs and vulnerabilities. The need to feel hope, for instance – “finally someone with authority has named it”. Relief (often fleeting) that some one gets me & now I have some confidence I’ll get help, get the “right” treatment. Also – “I’m not alone” – I can connect with others with the same label, get more social support etc…
    Don’t get me wrong, I believe the current diagnostic system can be deeply damaging, offering false hope, debilitating treatments and interfering with self understanding and healing.

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    • Well, maybe someone can get another and someone can understand what another is going through, and even name the other without calling them sick, afflicted or defective or ill. Although that may represent how the person feels about themselves at any given time, maybe getting that humanity in and of itself, serves up all kinds of things, including intense pain, discomfort, confusion, fear, etc., can provide a deeper, empowering context to promote healing.
      The question I ask the mentally diagnosed: What if somebody really got you, and did not confirm that you were sick, but instead confirmed that you were well (within humanity’s broad limits) or at least not defective. Would that suffice? Or somehow, is “getting you” a function of agreeing that you are less capable than somebody who meets the (very) vague fleeting criteria of normality?

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      • This is very close to what I try to do with people on the units where I work. It shocks almost every one of them to no end and some even get angry with me for even mentioning something like this. “What if you were not confirmed as defective and sick but instead looked at and accepted as someone having gifts, talents, and abilities that the world truly needs?” Many don’t seem to be able to even think about those possibilities. The system has trained people so well that they’re defective that it’s frightening to them when you try to get them to look at themselves as someone that isn’t defective. Some of them wonder if I’m trying to trick them so that I can report them to the “treatment team” for being noncompliant!

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        • There is such an incentive to stay familiar rather than to consider what appears to be the riskier business of taking on a new realm of reality. Fascinating how we humans are wired, since change is so totally and completely inevitable (as is death, of course) and so ironically, the things we fear the most, to the point of pretending that it is not desirable or at least worth accepting simply as being what is so.

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    • Yes. In other fields of medicine, getting a diagnosis, in better case scenarios, can be the first step toward a cure. Or if not, the diagnosis plus education, following a treatment plan, etc., …at least it gives a patient direction, some sense of control. “Here is the prognosis, here is what I can do to improve outcomes.”. Except that a psychiatric diagnosis can lead…or, in my case, led to loss of control. After I got diagnosed borderline, I read everything I could about it, because I wanted to understand my diagnosis. But the more I read, the more horrified, hopeless and distraught I became. I went to my treatment providers with the concerns I had about what I’d “learned” about my diagnosis, and every one of them told me to stop reading. Stop reading about this illness that we say you have. It won’t do you any good to educate yourself about this. I didn’t know it then, but know it now: I was in upside down world.

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      • What an amazing recollection of your experience you present here. Borderline Personality Disorder is such a difficult diagnosis to endure, for all of its implications, including its apparent incurability, its descriptive criteria and the way that clinicians make meaning and then deal with the BPD person upon learning that, as their diagnosis, one to be aware of and not to get too close to.
        You reference a rather hopeless spiral for the (mostly) women, that accurately does eminate from an upside down world and then creates the condition’s supposed symptoms as a rather predictable direct result of receiving the diagnosis in the first place and how one is interacted with subsequently once it is established.
        The inherent entrapment you describe is palpable. Thank you for your courage to articulate your experience so boldly.

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  12. Wow, a psychiatrist that actually confesses to the truth! The psychiatric drugs “reliably perpetuate or even cause the symptoms that they are marketed to treat.” So true!

    As Whitaker pointed out, the ADHD drugs and antidepressants create the “bipolar” symptoms, not to mention suicidal and homicidal thoughts and actions. And the antipsychotics/neuroleptics reliably create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” The negative symptoms are created via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome, and the positive symptoms are created via anticholinergic toxidrome.

    And some of us consider being stigmatized with a “mental illness,” then poisoned … defamation of character and attempted murder. Not all patients want to be defamed to our loved ones, poisoned, and tortured via anticholinergic toxidrome induced “psychosis” for the rest of our lives.

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  13. Thank you for this post and allowing comments; you make some good points but miss others. I believe that you misunderstand the problems caused by pathologizing natural emotional suffering. Most of your patients (and the community) believe that anxiety and depression are caused by a mythical “mental illness”; affirmation from a diagnosis is therefore often empowering. People have faith in medical treatments including medicines; a diagnosis is a cause for celebration when patients believe that it is the first step in identifying and resolving the cause of anxiety and depression. This is problematic because anxiety is caused by distressful experiences and depression is caused by depressing experiences rather than medical problems.

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    • I see that you are suggesting that the illusion begins even one or more steps earlier. The carrot is that there is an inherent belief that is set in that once one is identified with a psychiatric syndrome, something can be done about it, and that if the right doctor could be found, it will be. Only, as you also imply, that notion is also an illusion, that there is something that a doctor can deliver from his knowledge based pharmacopeia, that can make an appreciable positive difference is flawed from the start.
      Doctors feel that they are doing the right thing and patients feel that they are trusting the system as they should, and together these things fall apart drastically when proven to be rooted in ideas that are not representative of the whole truth.

      Thank you for this thoughtful response, Steve Spiegel.

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      • Thank you, oldhead, for this acknowledgement. I am STILL a psychiatrist, who renounces many pieces of what it presently means to be one. Like a Viet vet, the fact that I am one never changes, and maybe more importantly, having been one, does not dictate that I stand for all of what it has been to be one. I have committed atrocities in my past, like all of us have, and refuse to see them as anything less than atrocities, upon becoming aware of the often grossly negative impact that these acts have had on others, and myself.
        I do however remain a psychiatrist, committed to transforming the narrative of what it means to be one. It’s an uphill battle, perhaps, and the first step, like a GPS, is to get in touch with exactly where we are, in order to head towards a new healing direction, if there ever should be such a thing.

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        • Dr. Moss, As I have been exploited and harmed by psychiatry, I often feel I can never trust the industry again…yet, having said that…I know redemption or change is possible in an individual’s heart and mind.
          Not all police will be a threat to people of color, although some are. Not all gang members are ‘down for life’; some work in the community to end the recruitment and terror. Not all priests are pedophiles.
          I have found threads on many sites there is an absolutism, a purist position that is antithetical to how real-life change occurs. Having an ideal world-goal in mind is admirable, but change happens gradually in most cases, regarding social inequities, injustice, and wrestling power from oppressors. And just talking will never take the place of action. It usually takes a lot of both.

          Gandhi, Dr. King, and Lincoln all negotiated their way to changes with the ‘enemy’, not achieving ‘utopia’, but without losing their fundamental way. Some ran out of time.
          Changing an entrenched, powerful institution like psychiatry will happen in increments, negotiations, and compromises; not at all satisfying to former victims. But that’s the world we live in, if history is any road map.

          I commend you for exposing yourself to a ‘tough’ crowd. Not many industry professionals will step off the pedestal or even ‘middle ground’ to deliver the ‘mea culpa’ and seemingly earnest interest in investing words AND action, changed behavior, in this particular convo.
          Choosing to define yourself as flawed or wrong AND changing your perspective publicly is solid. People can judge you as to your actions in the future.

          Throwing stones and spouting an absolutism regarding a topic that millions have varying personal opinions on, is hypocritical. I respect their position and suggestions, but.. It is often used as a cudgel against anyone who disagrees, even slightly.
          I repudiate anyone who attempts to define my experience and my conclusions. I’m able to articulate that for myself….as they do. I don’t think I know what’s best for anyone, absolutely or otherwise. Like everyone else’s, it’s both universal AND idiosyncratic. And finding common ground is validating. There is common ground in abundance. I do know that everyone is entitled to their opinion.
          I can choose off of the ala carte menu, of ideas and philosophies, forming my own perspective, noting my own caveats, like my spiritual beliefs.

          Some want to declare “What’s best for everybody, absolutely…”
          which is exactly what psychiatry is guilty, guilty, guilty of doing.

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          • Thank you for this thoughtful response. I feel I am in a position to at least catalyze a shift, even to a small extent, but also realize that lots of damage has been done and some sort of scaled reconciliation/peace, or even completion is a ludicrously lofty task to consider.

            If the voices are lost in any direction, then those possibilities that the voices might have carried are lost too.

            One step at a time….large steps when possible, in the direction of what matters and making a difference while we are here.

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  14. I’ve been seen as mentally ill all my life and it really *has* negatively impacted me because I became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I saw myself as someone who should never work on bettering themself because I would always be sick and amount to nothing.

    For example, I’ve been diagnosed with OCD for almost ten years now. For about eight out of those ten years, I’ve been a mess of obsessing about things and following through on those compulsions. I washed my hands until they bled. I restricted food until I was hospitalized. I would avoid physical touch. I avoided leaving the house.

    When I finally started reading this site and the viewpoints of other psychiatric survivors, I realized that I didn’t have to be limited by my diagnosis.

    For whatever reason, this has made me go “Okay, these obsessive thoughts are bullshit. I can do better and work through this.”

    I think that for a lot of people, a formal diagnosis gives them something to hold on to. It’s something that validates their struggles and suffering. A lot of people are unsure about the human condition because we’re all supposed to be our best selves all the time. We’re supposed to be happy and productive all day, every day. We’re not supposed to be sad or angry or fearful or any of those “ugly” feelings.

    But there are a lot of people who are trying their best and still feeling horrible. I don’t know what the right answer is for everybody. I think that an important question to ask is “Am I feeling this way because I’m expected to feel this way?”

    People in general seem to have a hard time with letting themselves feel *anything*.

    Putting the onus fully on the patient’s side seems a little like victim-blaming. Society and capitalism play into it and it’s not as easy as “just be happy” or “don’t be anxious.”

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    • Shrinks talk about the stigma of “mental illness.”
      Americans–and the Western world–stigmatize sadness. It’s viewed as shameful. Stupid to need a permission slip from a doctor to excuse not grinning ear to ear 24/7! 😛 Why the heck do we have to PRETEND we’re happy all the time?

      During the Black Death folks were miserable, but they weren’t shamed for it or forced to fake a stupid grin when weeping was called for.

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    • I am sorry that the article has in any way been seen as putting the onus on the patient. I have only focussed on the patient as one of the many components of a truly multi-factorial system where most people feel that they are contributing to the greater good, or giving people or systems the benefit of the doubt that it is designed to assist people in feeling better. In reality, this exquisite lattice of piecemeal illusions seems to have become a system that perpetuates itself, and not in the direction of promoting the health that might be only a paradigm shift away.

      Feeling terrible and feeling as if you are certainly abnormal are two components that are inherent parts of being a human. Being given confirmation of the above is not truly empowering, but does allow both the diagnoser and the diagnosed to find some pseudo relief for reasons that I have brushed up against in this blog post.
      Thank you for this contribution.

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      • When I read this I thought, Folks will accuse this writer of victim blaming.

        But there really are people who love these labels. Even “hard” ones. Kay Redfield Jamison built a career on being “bipolar.” It’s her personal brand.

        I read a Xojane article where the writer describes how happy she is to know she’s depressed. Which makes you laugh if you think too hard.

        I have also known (a very few) nasty individuals who used “mental illness” as an excuse for abusing spouses, partners, and kids. And seen reports of serial killers who were glad to use the insanity defense to escape full legal penalties.

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        • The excuse that truly makes me sick to my stomach is when people say that child molesters are mentally ill and can’t help themselves. In fact, the whole business of civil commitment after completing a prison sentence for sexual assault of minors (and sometimes violent rapists) goes along this line of thinking – that there is a mental defect and the perpetrators are incapable of change so better lock them up forever.

          We have forgotten – with psychiatry and with civil commitment after prison – to simply hold people accountable for their behavior. Instead, the new labeling system will put you in the appropriate bucket and you will never escape that because you are immutable and incapable of being anything other than severely mentally ill, deviant and disordered. Forever.

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          • Let the guilty off easy by punishing the innocent. (Assume all “bipolars” and “schizophrenics” are guilty of horrible crimes they will commit if they roam at large. “Untreated.”)

            Lock up the innocent eccentrics in a warehouse with violent rapists, serial killers, and child molesters. All “bipolars” are exactly alike after all. Then tell yourself what a benevolent good guy you are while you pocket what Big Pharma paid you.

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        • Kay Redfield Jamison. I thought I had better look her up given one of the labels I was given was ‘bipolar’. I saw some of her stuff on Youtube – couldn’t stomach her for long – the same as most of the other psyche’s I met with a few exceptions – cold, arrogant, certain. Her life was one of extreme privilege from childhood onwards and she is a member of the 1% – hubby a cardiologist and herself one of the directors of John Hopkins Institute.

          She’s scary – like a high priestess of the cult. Hearing her talk to an obsequious shrink on Youtube with her library of books behind her and her ‘interesting’ jumper and necklace, i was reminded of a similar psychiatrist under whose coercive treatment I was ‘held’ for a few years in my 20’s. – She reminded me so much of her – the certainty, the coldness – the message that medication is necessary ‘for life’ otherwise the ‘illness’ will come back and cause terrible suffering. Referring to the shrink who diagnosed her as ‘certain’ and ‘kind’; she talked of bipolar being a disease of the young and that it was hard to convince young people that they needed to take ‘medication for life’ and compared it to the problem that cardiologists have (talks with hubby) about trying to get patients to stay on their meds.

          Her life is poles away from the life of many bipolar people whom I have met and I suppose I am one as I have that diagnosis though it has now been discarded in favour of autism – living on the fringes of society, long term unemployed, perhaps on a disability payment if they are lucky, marginalised and lonely whereas she is right at the apex of the power structure and her ‘illness’ gives her I agree an added caché in the psychiatric universe. Wonder when her lithium or whatever she is on will finish her off – scary, scary woman.

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  15. I certainly think the arguments outlined work like this for autism and adult ADHD.

    However I think the blaming of patients for not taking responsibility for themselves is not pleasant to read and counter productive. Most of society refuses to take responsibility for themselves and those whose lives have been especially hard do so more than most. It also is an individual response and not a systemic analysis.

    An analysis which looks at poverty, racism and other systemic injustices in the manufacture of distress and how psychiatry is a distraction from those and how these play out in individual choices would be more interesting to me.

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    • Again, please understand that I am a firm proponent of assisting patients in ways that they never thought imaginable, to reempower themselves genuinely and have been successful in facilitating that process on numerous occasions. Labeling as ill does not contribute to empowerment ultimately and in no way delegitimizes the pain and discomfort. Learning that it is not an illness or affliction, in my experience, or at least considering that idea as a starting point, and therefore not treating with toxic medications, allows for new powerful ways for exploring how to negotiate one’s way through life.

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      • I agree that re educating clients, or just people, that distress does not need to be seen as illness or disorder is entitely sensible. It is an approach that Sammi Timmimi takes in his oo clinics. I am glad you have been succesful in helping people with this approach. However yor style seemrd to have little sympathy for people falling for the trap of diagnosis in your original article, something I fall into too and which I am trying to ameliorate.

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        • Well, I have deep sympathy for that phenomenon. What would one say to those who are with you in order to convey that? Creating alternative possibilities and inviting to explore them seems the best that I can do. I don’t have it that people are ever really stuck in maintaining old and yet disempowering habits.

          But for sure, I sympathize deeply with the counter notion.

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  16. I would have made the exact same observations myself. I did see and know patients who begged for a diagnosis, loved being diagnosed and were happy to walk around practically boasting about it like it was their college major. Some were happy because that meant “there was a treatment,” in other words, they might get some drugs like Klonopin, which was always a bonus, like a lollipop for certain patients. Many really were drug-seeking. They even switched doctors when the first doc refused to give them Ativan or whatever they could fake it and get.

    When I got my diagnosis I kept asking myself how on earth I would live up to it. How was I going to be a convincing voice-hearer if I didn’t really hear voices? Should I lie? What if they ask me what they’re saying and I hadn’t a clue what voices say?

    One time I invented a delusion and I admit I wasn’t good at it. It didn’t pass inspection. It was far easier to act bipolar after they figured out I wasn’t schiz. But really, I was always disappointed at how poorly I fit their molds, any of them.

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      • Fred, it took me decades to admit it. It is also not easy to say I faked my way into hospitals because of the backlash I could get. However, people do not realize the real reason I did it. Every time I had trouble with my eating disorder (dieting cycle, really) I had to take action. I tried, multiple times, to get my therapists and psychs to listen. They never did, and apparently even those who had known me for years had no awareness that I had ED. I went 30 years like that. During that time, if the binge eating got out of control, I would say the word “death” in my session and that got my hospitalized. I now had temporary relief from bingeing. I dreaded leaving because I knew I’d be back at it again. I lied and said I was “suicidal” just to stay in there. Every time I left I felt disappointed, let down because they failed to hear me, failed to recognize what was really bothering me. I went back over and over due to the “unfinished business” feeling. It never worked.

        To most, I appeared “bipolar” but the truth is, if you’re so stuffed with food you can barely move, you’re going to be depressed. I was called “rapid cycling,” for obvious reasons. All those years I figured I must have a brain disorder causing the eating binges. I latched onto bipolar. It took me decades to figure out (on my own) that it wasn’t a brain disorder, that the erratic eating was affecting my moods, not the other way around. I had to realize that the diet had caused the ED. Starvation will affect you for years, changes the way insulin and other chemicals act in your body, and also can change your mentality and outlook. Repeated binge eating will cause you to have insulin spiking and this can go on and on. Breaking the cycle was essential for me (I knew this, but the psychs were just plain clueless!) and the only way I could do it, back then, was to get myself locked up.

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        • You seem to be in such a deeply reflective spot now, and have mastered, at least in a small part, the ability to not make yourself wrong on top of that. What a contribution you are to the world. Do you know how much power you hold to assist others in making a legacy level difference in the world?

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  17. I’ll be on the lookout for more, Fred. My guess at this point is that this is a “delicate” introduction to some anti-anti-stigma 🙂

    Thanks for putting down the money in favor of something less… beneficial to the pharmaceutical industry!

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  18. Dr. Moss, thank you for your post. You make valid points that reflect what is so skewed and wrong about the psychiatric industry. Before my own experience with a young, very arrogant psychiatrist while in cancer treatment, I too was one of the ‘brain-washed’ who believed psychiatrists had access to knowledge that no other doctors did and that psychiatric diagnoses were based on scientific evidence and on this higher level of knowledge. When my younger brother became depressed over the break-up of his marriage and I was trying so hard to help him and support him, I actually felt some relief when he was sent to see a psychiatrist as I believed he was going to be taken care of and helped with his depression. I did not know he was simply going to be drugged up. I did not question that he was actually getting help until we found him dead in his house. I think the biggest issue is people not being aware of the harm that can come from diagnoses and the treatment itself. People must be made aware of what psychiatric drugs can do to their lives and I look forward to your future posts on that.

    Another point that needs to be made is what ‘type’ of diagnosis is given to someone who is suffering for a variety of valid reasons. It is more acceptable and less stigmatizing to have a label of Anxiety Disorder or a Depressive Disorder than say diagnoses of Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia or Borderline Personality Disorder. Although I never could understand how being depressed or anxious because your marriage ended or your spouse died, etc, is considered a “disorder” when it is actually a normal and expected reaction to human suffering.

    To quote something Dr. Kelly Brogan recently put out, “Remember, anxiety is a message. To honor this message, look deeper into what may be out of balance in your body, as well as your life.”
    It is much better to decipher the message and work on resolutions than to mask it with bogus labels and drugs.

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    • If drugs were simply masks, they would not be so insidiously dangerous. Labels have the same quality. Their actual overt contribution to the causation and perpetuation of a condition that may not have existed in the first place is where the system becomes (almost unknowingly) diabolical.

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      • Dr. Moss, thank you for your insight and well-stated reply! That is precisely what happened to me; totally unfounded labels given to me in the midst of cancer treatment were the cause and perpetuation of a condition that never existed in the first place.

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  19. I found this article to be extremely offensive and the attitude behind it fairly typical of the Pysch MDs I saw over the years. I have been given a slew of diagnoses over the years – never asked for one of them – just wanted relief. These included the innocuous “Adjustment Disorder”, “Major Depressive Disorder”, “Anxiety Disorder”, “Eating Disorder”, “Bipolar” and, of course, being female, having an eating disorder, using alcohol as a coping mechanism, and being suicidal, “Borderline Personality Disorder”. It wasn’t until I received a diagnosis of PTSD that things began to fall into place – not that I think that that label is anymore valid than the others, but it allowed me to reframe how the trauma in my life had led to my mental distress.

    I very rarely share this “diagnosis” with others, I have never asked for special accommodations, I have never stopped working (even went back to work the morning after being incarcerated against my will in a mental hospital for a week). I have never asked for drugs (although, with my history of “recreational” drug use, I would have loved a prescription for benzodiazepines) and have never not taken responsibility for my mental state or actions (quite the opposite, in fact).

    All I wanted was some relief from the constant mental anguish I was in and didn’t understand. Instead I got dangerous psychotropics and was called “resistant” and non-compliant when I complained about the side effects and stopped taking them. Non-medical mental health workers were no better – claiming that they were only thinking about my well being but becoming defensive and outright aggressive when I questioned their methods and/or advice.

    I don’t think I’m an anomaly.

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    • Even if you take the drugs that make you suffer you’ll still get punished. Shrinks have angry tantrums when you have the audacity to sieze or fall over or have heart failure or diabetes while faithfully taking their poisons. If you don’t magically improve on massive quantities of drugs you must be #pillshaming. 😛 Like forcing people to wear balls and chains while making them simultaneously run laps.

      They’ll lie to your friends and family. “If she would only take her ‘meds’ she would get better. They NEVER cause people’s eyes to role back in their heads. She’s crazy or lying and faking it.”

      Cause gas lighting is what they do best. Can’t win for losing.

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      • Careful, Rachel. We can’t call out shrinks for participating in systems of harm. Some shrink might show up and school us to be more kind and careful with our words because they’re a victim too…. (sadly this too has actually happened though I won’t name names at this point)

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        • Yes. These poor oppressed psychiatrists are the only ones actually affected by the diagnoses they hand out. Alas!

          We lowly SMI scum can’t appreciate how ONLY these poor professionals endure the stigma. Not even their $100,000 a year can compensate for the bigotry they alone must endure.

          For those of you not forced to take neuroleptics I’m sure what they suffer brings tears to your eyes. *Sniff.*

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      • I wish I’d learned everything there is to know about psychiatry when my oldest (and closest sibling to me) brother was locked up in Yale psych ward and diagnosed schizophrenic. Doctors put him on Haldol. He had a dystonic reaction. Doctors kept him on Haldol – they said he was faking it. Faking a dystonic reaction. I was 11 and didn’t understand what was going on but that is psychiatry in a nutshell. I’d no clue what was going on or what these asshats had in store for me. Sometimes just thinking about things that happened, I literally start shaking with rage. Can’t confide in people about it though because “inappropriate anger” is one of the criteria for borderline, so they’ll just attribute it to my “mental illness”. This website is the only safe place to even share any of this.

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        • The disparity between what is so and what is said is sometimes beyond hair raising. Although (really) not thinking that they were doing anything wrong, their essential cluelessness and lack of compassion shown by some clinicians is astonishing. Unfortunately, as well, it does not shock or surprise me, as I have seen this type of interchange first hand in my practice when I was doing hospital work.
          Is there any way at all to make any gains at all, or really, is it beyond hope? Sometimes I wonder, and then somehow, I keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other.

          Thank you for feeling safe anywhere, and especially here, to share your experience. It is golden and horrendous at the same time. It keeps important eyes open.

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          • I, personality, would love to see the Yale Psych institute permanently shuttered for human rights violations. That would give me a lot of hope. I won’t hold my breath though.
            But really, if one of these places were closed down, for what basically all of these places are doing, would it send a message? I’ve seriously considered protesting in front of YPI, alone. It would get me out of the house.

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    • Thank you for saying this. I think your experience is pretty typical of “voluntary” patients. They have been told that this is the place they should go for help and that these people know what they’re doing. It’s quite a shock to arrive at the conclusion that they don’t.

      I also very much appreciated that a PTSD “diagnosis” “allowed me to reframe how the trauma in my life had led to my mental distress.” This seems in my experience to be what most people really are looking for – a way to reframe their experience that makes sense to them. Sadly, the DSM “diagnoses” generally do the opposite – cause more confusion and minimize or invalidate completely the role of trauma in the genesis of one’s so-called “mental illness.”

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    • Thank you for this authentic post. If your diagnosis and treatment are working well, there definitely is not any reason to consider changing anything. I really mean that. It is great to hear a case where finally after going through diagnoses from so many different spectrums, you have come to one that works for you and seem to be being treated properly.

      Also, please excuse me for any offense you may have felt. Clearly offending you was not my intention, and I am sorry that was the stated effect that this article had on you.

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    • But those of us who know doctors and psychiatrists are not God, are not interested in a diagnosis from one of the lunatic, god complexed, “omnipotent moral busy body” “mental health” workers. I think it’d be more accurate to say people subconsciously feel they need to be properly judged by God in order to get to heaven.

      And the real problem is that our society has given the “mental health” workers “omnipotent” status. The right to – outside the law – play judge, jury, and executioner of innocent humans … with no consequences for their actions. Which has led to the “mental health” workers becoming god complexed, society destroying, lunatics.

      We need to bring back the rule of law, and take away the “omnipotent” status of the fraud based, primarily child abuse covering up, “mental health” workers. But since our country has apparently had child rapists in charge since Regan and “poppy Bush” …

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehleJE5evBI
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uBMXOsryd0

      “Omnipotent” status was inappropriately given to the historically and still, primarily child abuse covering up, “mental health” industries.

      https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/23/18820633.php?fbclid=IwAR2-cgZPcEvbz7yFqMuUwneIuaqGleGiOzackY4N2sPeVXolwmEga5iKxdo
      https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/04/heal-for-life/

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      • Sometimes I wonder if clinician blaming isn’t the exact same dynamic as patient blaming, turned on its head. Although i understand the passion and distaste that can fuel this sentiment, i wonder if there is a place for getting outside of the bashing and creating a new and true empowering context for the patients and the clinicians caught up in this truly terrible mess.

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        • I really don’t think it is, if the “bashing” is coming from the victims of the system. I consider it quite natural and necessary for oppressed people to gather up their energy and get good and angry before they can fight back against the oppressors. I don’t consider it quite reasonable to expect those who are being harmed to differentiate between the “good workers” and the “bad workers.” While I think intentional meanness and cruelty should not be practiced against anyone for any reason, but I guess I see it as the job of the “good mental health workers” to listen and hear the harm done by our colleagues and to help the person in question come to terms with it and decide what they want to do about it. At the end of that, it’s up to them to decide if you or I are an exception to the rule or not, no matter what we think of ourselves. And perhaps if we do a good enough job, we can introduce the possibility that not ALL “mental health workers” are abusive or condescending.

          I experienced plenty of oppression from my supervisors when I spoke up and called out things that were wrong and hurtful. But I can’t say I ever experienced the kind of uncontrolled harmful environment that was enforced on those our system claimed to be “helping.” It is different in both kind and in degree.

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          • Great reply. You are obviously one of those people who actually get it. You only really understand it when you’re there under the power of the people who are running the system and you’re locked there for months and even years at a time.

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        • i wonder if there is a place for getting outside of the bashing and creating a new and true empowering context for the patients and the clinicians caught up in this truly terrible mess.

          There is no “empowering context” when you have defined someone as a “patient”; this is about the most disempowering act one could engage in.

          And pointing out inherent power relationships is not “bashing,” it is analyzing.

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        • “Sometimes I wonder if clinician blaming isn’t the exact same dynamic as patient blaming, turned on its head.”

          Absolutely not. What begins as “critical feedback” to clinicians (which is fair and reasonable in any professional situation) turns into a power struggle because clinicians notoriously don’t accept negative feedback, and instead, turn it on its head (to use your phrase) and use it to project their negative feeling from the feedback onto the client, as though it were their “false perception” causing a “trauma trigger,” instead of hearing the feedback with humility, ownership, and an open mind.

          Clinician/client is not a “family relationship;” it should be a professional one. But clinicians cross all sorts of emotional and relationship boundaries while projecting what they don’t like about themselves onto the client. This is common, and was exactly my experience, repeatedly, and it does harm to the psyche until one wakes up to the abuse happening.

          I’ve known clinicians to be very defensive and basically freaked out when a client leaves their practice dissatisfied. They have to rationalize it in all sorts of ways, always ending up on the client. The kind of abuse we’re talking about can be very subtle, yet insidious in its mind-twisting ways. Last thing a client needs, and it is all too often what they receive in the guise of “psychotherapy.”

          Clinicians get paid, while clients are the ones who do the paying, one way or another, and are left drained of resources and any hope of clarity, well-being, and quality of life. How can “patient blaming” be the same dynamic as “clinician blaming?” The clinician has a JOB to do, it’s why they are paid!

          Clients are there for different reasons, I guess, but I know in my case as with countless others, I was there to heal depression, anxiety, and all kinds of confusion, so that I could have a fruitful, productive, and enjoyable life, to live my dreams. Instead, clinicians made things way, way worse, systematically, over the years. And for a long time, I was paying out-of-pocket until I had to turn to the system because my pockets had been drained from all of this messiness, and in turn, directly because of this, my life got way, way messy.

          When I finally switched tracks to real and true healing, thanks to an exceptional teacher and healer whom I had met, and an entirely new group of healers with an entirely different mindset about life and humanity, and how our mind/body/spirit system works, I got 100% better over a period of a few years, and my life healed as well as my mind, body, heart, and spirit. The messiness transformed into new clarity, and from there I could proceed forward with my new life, feeling newfound relief and freedom.

          I was the constant, wanting only to heal, but what varied were the “clinician/healers” to whom I turned. MH clinicians and these practices tanked me; the energy work healed me. It is simple math!

          “I wonder if there is a place for getting outside of the bashing and creating a new and true empowering context for the patients and the clinicians caught up in this truly terrible mess.”

          Clinicians can do anything they want. As KateL says, they can quit, no one is forcing a job on anyone. But clients are either forced to be there, by law, or they are there voluntarily trying to heal. Of course, there are all kinds of ways in the world which exist that do bring healing, and which are not messy as this is. That’s where I would go with all this, for getting out of the messiness.

          It is where I went and it worked, unequivocally. But that gets bashed, too, and invalidated. I don’t care about that, but it does discourage others. I go with what works, and I know what didn’t work and what did work.

          MH anything is THE terrible mess. Lose that, and things get much, much clearer. It’s a matter of taking leaps of faith and trusting one’s process, AND really and truly being open to change, not just “political lip service.” Without these, it’s status quo until status quo itself burns to the ground from its own internalized mechanisms of oppression. How could it possibly survive at this point in time?

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          • I find myself humbly educated by the responses here. My notion that it is not just the clinicians who are involved in making it what it is, is met with emotional and deeply personal and heartfelt rebuttal. Point taken, with gratitude.

            Is there any miracle of events, any set of circumstances that would now be presently unfathomable, that could leave us in a place of looking at each other across “the table” and even mustering up forgiveness, acceptance and a path forward? Any?

            What would it take to at least begin a path in that direction? Or the the toast too burnt to even consider recovery?

            Maybe it is that just a pipe dream, an event that only can live in imagination and nowhere else? Or maybe, just maybe….. ?

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          • Is there any miracle of events, any set of circumstances that would now be presently unfathomable, that could leave us in a place of looking at each other across “the table” and even mustering up forgiveness, acceptance and a path forward? Any?

            What would it take to at least begin a path in that direction? Or the the toast too burnt to even consider recovery?

            Maybe it is that just a pipe dream, an event that only can live in imagination and nowhere else? Or maybe, just maybe….. ?

            Fred,

            I can’t speak for the others on this website, but when my wife and I first down the path of healing, I had to deal with the anger that kept her and I separated. I realized that some of her anger toward me was completely justified, but also some of her anger was truly because of the abuse she had suffered as a child and I was simply a convenient object for her to vent upon.

            It took me about 6 months of asking forgiveness for anything and everything she accused me of. I NEVER defended myself because I took the position that IF she felt this, then I would value our relationship over who was right, or trying to give my side of the story.

            About 6 months later her anger was extinguished. A couple years later she even came back and apologized a little for her part in things…but until I had extinguished the anger, she simply couldn’t see past it.

            I understand your commitment level is probably a lot lower here than mine was to my wife, but that’s what it took to bring her and I completely back in harmony with each other.
            Sam

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  20. the whole industry is largely destructive bullshit. its not just the psychiatrists, either. honestly…psychiatrists are dangerous and all, but other patients can be, too. especially in a hospital or even some clinic settings. patients who diagnose other patients and encourage others to ‘get help!,’ etc. back to the article at hand…

    a young person from a dysfunctional family is labeled ‘bipolar i-iii,’ whatever. -you- only see the individual’s excitement and relief. what the shrink doesn’t see is an entire messed up system that gets to run a bit more smoothly.
    a stressed out, abused, working class woman is diagnosed w/ “Schizophrenia.” the psych wonders why she’s ok with it, even kind of…happy. what the psychiatrist does not see, ignores if it comes into his or her mind, is the relief it offers. husband bails, there’s ssdi. kids mess up, she’s the Schizophrenic martyr of a mother. if there is an extended family system in place, they might rev up and help her and her family out.

    im also reminded of something i read…maybe it was betty friedan, maybe someone else…about why, oh why, do so many people end up psychiatrized voluntarily…at least, voluntarily at the start of the misadventures? answer: aside from psychiatrists, who else will -listen- (or…pretend to, until the person/patient is destroyed and/or low status enough to be drugged and ignored) ?

    the whole thing is a dirty, rotten, no good, very bad, possibly evil industry.

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  21. People seem to be trying to do whatever gives them some social traction. This might be a clue about what is missing. Maybe enough tolerance and compassion for people we think are weak and shameful, will help turn them into people of emotional strength.

    If shame was a good tool to help people, we’d all be perfect by now.

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    • good things for us to do.
      Listen and learn.
      Create, self-express and communicate.
      Detoxify and help others whenever possible.

      There are terrible things all around us, and it is really part of our existence. Managing them is life’s challenge. These suggestions always work, at least to some degree. Welcome to Humanity.

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  22. what would you say about this one—
    a person comes to the doctor with
    extreme anxiety…it is found out that
    this person has a genetic problem…
    a problem with very few GABA receptors…
    is this person just going thru life like
    everyone else…are we all the same…
    do we have differences in the brain that
    make life more difficult…who should this person
    go to for help…

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      • We would have to really look at more than what you think you have come up with as an explanation for anxiety here. Genetics and GABA and these rare diagnoses are fraught with peril, as so much of it is uncertain cause and effect considerations that we act like we know more about than we do, maybe.
        A neurologist could be helpful, but really, there is so man possible pathways to consider to relieve yourself of the mental discomfort you might experience or being experienced.
        Thank you deeply for you sharing.

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        • Dr. Moss, Regarding Littleturtle’s question of GABA receptors, I recently watched a presentation by a doctor of Integrative medicine say anti-depressants don’t make serotonin, they only help you hang on the serotonin you have, but worse is AD’s quit working because of what is called “down regulation” whereby receptor sites in the brain start to shrivel and disappear and you can lose up to 40-60% of these receptor sites. People go on to develop tolerance to the AD’s and increase the dose, lose more receptor sites…and so on from taking AD’s. This seems a possible explanation for what LittleTurtle was told about having very few GABA receptors?

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  23. I have a problem with this blog…
    I think fred moss is a good guy…
    and there are people who take
    advantage of the system…
    but most people who see a doctor
    or psychiatrist are suffering…
    and want help now…we are all
    looking for the quick fix…everywhere..
    but that doesn’t work with life very
    well…

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    • What if you learned you did not and do not have a psychiatric or neurological defect at all. In fact, that you are a variant of normal or perhaps even beyond that, a chosen contributor to the world around you. An you learned that relief from anxiety could come from doing something that you never even considered to this point. Would that be enticing to you?

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    • I think what he’s getting at is that psychiatrists pretend to offer the “quick fix” and take advantage of people who are looking for it. I think he’s said elsewhere that he’s not criticizing the patients, but the system for setting up rewards for being compliant and not asking a lot of questions but instead accepting their assigned “identity” as “mental patient.”

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      • There is a lot of things that are implied here. I am not saying that doctors are taking advantage of people who are looking for it, per se, or that it is the patients fault to have become a patient. What I am suggesting is that it is a sick system over all and each and every component has a say in how things are going.

        I am suggesting also that it is a system that can change however, though it requires an honest look at where we are followed by a new conversation about how things can become and then taking action in a direction that can make a difference.

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        • And how many people who run the system are going to sit down and have these discussions with the honest look at what needs to change? Most of them have no idea that the system is totally broken. How do you convince them that they need to have the conversations?

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          • If they don’t know that it totally broken, then a good place to start would be to simply inform them. Although ignorance is no defense to a crime committed, positive change, in my experience can only occur with dialogue, uncomfortable as that might be to consider. Anger does not always have to be displayed as disrespect especially when confronting the truly blinded.
            Many, (and clearly not all, unfortunately) mental health professionals truly believe that they are doing what is right, even when it is many clear to others that they are far from that. But if they don’t even know, and sometimes they really don’t, respectful conversation is the first prerequisite necessary to affect any transformative change. Is it possible?

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  24. I’d like to throw in that we are, as citizens, propagandized to by the news media and by celebrity activists who participate in the “I Love My Diagnosis!” game. The news that Any Schumer dropped about her husband’s late-in-life “autism” diagnosis was in my news feed this morning and I find it profoundly insensitive when massively successful people hop on the bandwagon of the “disordered” as if it’s an exclusive club they’ve been admitted to.

    https://www.yahoo.com/amphtml/entertainment/amy-schumers-autism-awareness-day-post-upsets-parents-should-we-pretend-having-autism-is-awesome-141052238.html

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    • Exactly, Kindred. In a presentation I gave I likened diagnosis to a college major. We really did boast on the wards. It was a status symbol. Especially among the “almost dying” crowd. That can even win you brownie points. Or, it was like, “What are you in here for?” Like what crime did you do? Depression, bipolar, these were the sins we committed, just by being labeled, that got us in there.

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    • I find it entirely fascinating that this conversation regarding mental health and mental illness creates a sense of inherent discrimination between “us and them” . Doctors and clinicians feel somehow different than patients, and vice versa. It is fascinating that this conversation seems to naturally suggest that there are at least 2 groups (the sick and the not sick) rather than the one group of humanity that we are all members of. Polarization is the inevitable outcome and nothing good can come from that starting point.

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      • That would fly if everyone were on the same footing, but that is not the case. You are conveniently ignoring/dismissing the enormous power differential between the two groups (which, btw, most of us would NOT characterize as ‘sick’ and ‘not sick,’ and the fact that you do is very telling): one group has the power to strip the other group of their civil and human rights. As long as this is the case, there is an inherent us v. them dynamic; survivors didn’t put it there. To paraphrase Animal Farm, all humans are equal, but some are more equal than others.

        Wanna be really fascinated? Go get yourself a nice juicy SMI label and walk a mile in our moccasins, doc. See whether your equal humanity gets respected, or acknowledged. See how fascinated you are by how quickly you get othered, maligned, infantilized, disregarded. Write it up for scientific research.

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        • I absolutely accept your bitterness, every piece of it. Will you allow me to do that? Or does my place in the world, as one really wanting and able to facilitate a transformation in this narrative, preclude me from ever understanding anything or ever being able to get it and then move to make a genuine difference in the way that things go in this terribly vicious and corrupt system?
          Am I really disqualified from having any understanding because I am me and you are you, and if so, is there any bridge that can be built to allow me to better understand and get your experience wholeheartedly, honestly and authentically?

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          • How about addressing my valid points instead of my perceived “bitterness” and show us what you can understand.

            You characterized the divide here as “sick” and “not sick,” address that.
            One group holds power over the other; address that.

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        • I really do not see anyone, anywhere as being mentally ill or in any way more mentally sick than any other person. That goes for all 7.6 billion of us on the planet. The “sick” (diagnosed) are sometimes self-described as such, and see themselves as a group with similar concerns and desires. Often they have been guided that way by the so called “not sick” diagnosers (who in many ways deserve the title “sick” even more than those they are describing, by taking on the audacious notion that they can call anybody else “sick”). Ultimately, one group is not very much in touch with the workings of the other and a dangerous “us and them” mentality arises and polarizes the already nearly un-reviveable mess we are in, making any progress that might be made even less readily available.

          When I use the words “sick” and “not sick”, it was meant to be essentially rhetorical. Would it have been better if I would have used italics initially? Please pardon me. From the patient’s standpoints, the clinicians are the “them”, and the patients are the us. From the clinician’s standpoint, it is of course the other way around.
          Once embroiled into the system, however, the power does seems to shift. I am suggesting that maybe one’s power is never actually totally usurped, (see V. Frankel, Man’s Search for Meaning) though certainly the sense of imprisonment that some face in this mental health system is unfathomable from an uneducated, outsider’s perspective. I am sorry if that is what your experience is, and it is my life’s intention to make a dent in this dynamic so that these misrepresentations and misdeeds are no longer propagated by a system which declares itself to be a helping profession.

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          • The system is incapable of self correction because the people running it are incapable of admitting error or wrongdoing. I say this as a former patient who submitted a formal complaint 6 months ago through the Yale Patient Relations Department. The complaint was ignored and the people I was in contact with in Patient Relations stopped answering my emails. They patronized me, in the beginning, saying that they were “very interested” in hearing about my experience as a patient of both the IOP and the Yale Psych Ward. I spoke with 3 of them on the phone for 45 minutes and I followed up with an email that provided more detail regarding what I’d spoken of on the phone. I never heard another word about it. My guess is that they recognized that I did have serious grounds for complaint and… maybe they were afraid of a lawsuit if they admitted that? I can only guess.

            The first time I ever tried to file a complaint was about 15 years ago. I’d been seeing a psychiatrist once a week for 6 years for talk therapy and medication. When after 6 years he decided he couldn’t help me, he referred me to the psychiatrist who ultimately performed the brain shocks on me and then, when those didn’t work, that psychiatrist told me it was because I have borderline.
            The ECT psychiatrist, after my initial evaluation appointment with him, asked me to ask the referring psychiatrist to send the records of my six years of treatment. I found out from the referring psychiatrist that there were no records. He told me that he hadn’t kept records of anything, not even the medications he prescribed over the course of six years. Upon learning this I became furious and I contacted the APA to file a complaint. They told me that unless I could conclusively prove that this psychiatrist not keeping records had caused me serious harm, there was nothing that they would do. They would not take a complaint from me.

            The cherry on top of this s*** sundae was that the ECT psychiatrist determined that my anger about psychiatrist #1 not keeping any records was inappropriate. The inappropriate anger I displayed about the lack of record-keeping was a main reason I received a borderline diagnosis.

            In my experience, mental health professionals are so used to not having to answer to anyone at all that they are, as a group, incapable of change. As they are incapable of reforming, they need to have their power wrested away by any means necessary, to protect the innocent.

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  25. Hi Fred,

    for 20 years my wife and I struggled in our marriage. We loved each other but things just weren’t right, and when she finally agreed to get some counseling after I led the way by working on my own issues, it was suggested she might be experiencing some severe dissociation as a result of her early childhood trauma…and that was the key that finally unlocked our confusion and the impasse of 20 years.

    Now we didn’t go the typical route to deal with said trauma and dissociation. She never had ANY contact with any professional ‘mental health experts.’ But we kind of fell into attachment principles and when I learned more about that, I became more intentional about some of the key concepts from that theory that helped address her attachment issues, dissociation issues and other things. But it did start with that ‘possible’ diagnosis.

    As much as I firmly stand against the bio-chemical narrative of mental health, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real issues like dissociation, neural plasticity, trauma, ptsd symptoms, etc that have to be addressed. Neither my wife nor I ‘wear’ her diagnosis as a badge. Other than me, our son and her non-traditional counselor she refuses to tell anyone else and most would be surprised, to say the least, that she is dealing with anything. She tells me she’s one of the few in her group of friends and acquaintances who doesn’t take any kind of medicines for stress, anxiety, etc.

    I know we are an anomaly; I’ve been told that repeatedly on this website. But this website is strongly tilted by those who have had HORRIBLE experiences within the mh system. And I’m not belittling that at all, but I do take issue when people try to blame ALL their mental health distress upon the system as if nothing really drove them into the lion’s den at first and all their problems came as a result of the mh system. People suffer from real mental health issues, and when I finally took those seriously in my wife, that’s when I became effective in helping her heal and move forward.

    Wishing you well.
    Sam

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    • I understood neuro plasticity to be a form of healing.

      Btw Sam, many here have suffered horribly from the MH system. But I haven’t heard any regulars say their lives were idyllic before. Julie Greene was in an abusive relationship which caused a lot of other problems leading to the ED she sought help for. Frank admits he had an “episode” due to stressful crap in his life. KS was abused as a child by her parents and others. I moved around a lot and struggled with attachment issues since I gave up trying to make new friends in my teens. Betrayal by an older woman friend who got my dad fired and my family evicted for petty reasons. Two prolonged periods we were forced to stay with relatives since Dad couldn’t keep work due to his lofty idealism. Two years of sexual harassment in high school and the teachers laughed when I told them. Went off to college but was scared of people….stuff adds up.

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      • Rachel,
        at the most basic, neural plasticity, I believe, can be summed up as ‘the brain rewards what we use, and punishes what we don’t.” It’s really the same with the rest of our bodies. Muscles that we use a lot become stronger; muscles that we don’t atrophy.

        The brain is essentially the same: when we exercise parts of the brain, those pathways are strengthened and fine tuned, for example creating the skill needed to play a piano thru years of practice. But when parts of the brain are ignored, or worse dissociated from trauma, then those pathways are neglected and atrophy.

        And to un-do years of extreme dissociation, it’s no simple process to just ‘flip the switch’ and start accessing those areas of the brain again. It’s been a far, far, far more difficult process to help her gain access to those dissociated areas, than helping my wife deal with the actual issues surrounding the trauma.

        As for other people’s experiences on this website, my statement was not intended to belittle anyone’s experiences or victim blame them for being caught up in the system. We were fortunate, but not because we were so smart and wise. It just was outside our natural bent to go for help, and it was only later that I realized how fortunate we were to have missed the horrors that so many describe on this website. But sometimes when I read comments, the reaction toward the abuses of the mh system are so focused on just that, that the original issues get lost in the context. I understand why that is so, but I wanted to clarify that our case may be considered a ‘control group’ in that we have not been tainted by the system at all and yet we are still struggling 11 years later to undo the real issues caused from her childhood despite her tremendous healing and progress.

        Sam

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    • Great story and congratulations.

      A diagnosis is not what was critical to your successes in this relationship, as I see it. Instead, I see that you were able to connect with your wife, and to get what she was going through, in a compassionate and empathic way. From there, the 2 of you were able to create a new way of being that allowed for honest growth and development from a empowered starting point. Maybe it was not the diagnosis itself that promoted this growth directly.

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      • Fred,
        respectfully, the diagnosis was critical. If you’ve never lived with someone who dissociates and yet is a master at hiding it(like many are), you may not understand how confusing it can be to both people. Neither of us understood what was happening. Once we got the diagnosis that was my ‘aha’ moment, and things began to make sense and I could then reorient my thinking to include something I had never before considered and then begin to grow in that understanding.

        Yes, the relationship was key to staying at this and walking this TOGETHER, but one can’t fight and overcome something if one has no concept of what is going on like the first 20 years of our marriage.
        Sam

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  26. Thank you for this perspective. I have heard this before, that diagnoses absolve one of self-responsibility. And it may apply to some people who use “illness,” or a label, as an excuse to not be accountable, but I don’t think that is either the norm or the majority of people, and it certainly doesn’t apply to me. I believe one needs to be careful about generalizations like this, as it can create a totally false projection onto those to whom this does not apply, and that is not helpful in healing because it is not truth.

    The first time I ever heard of “manic-depression” (as it was called in the 1970s) was on a Maude episode called “Maude’s Moods.” A few years later, in college, I began to experience alternating bouts of depression/anxiety, and then relief from that for several months, which put me in my usual chipper and sociable mood. That had mostly been my “normal.” Outwardly, I’d been a pretty happy-go-lucky and fun-loving kid.

    Then it happened again, that same cycling of emotions, and I went to see a counselor on campus. I told her that I thought I might be manic-depressive (as per the Maude episode, that’s all I knew about this), and she administered some standardized tests and then suggested I see a psychiatrist. At that time, there was no association between m-d and violent outbursts, suicide, hospitalization, or in any way being a “threat” to society, so as far as I knew there was really no stigma associated with it. It was about having extreme moods (welcome to humanity, right?), and there was something one could take for it. Seemed perfectly respectable, like Valium, also middle-class popular in the 1970s.

    I didn’t “self-diagnose” to get out of responsbility, however. What I wanted was relief from all that anxiety which this brought with it, and which made it impossible for me to focus on point. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to function in life if I did not get this taken care of. I knew it had a “solution” to manage the “symptoms” (Lithium), and taking that would allow me to be able to live like a “normal” person, work for a living, have a life, etc. This was my program from the suburbs, and I followed the protocol. It was all I knew.

    That’s exactly what I learned from the media, and I went with it. It kind of worked–I worked full time, went back to school, and began a relationship which continues to this day, 34 years later.

    But of course, thanks to taking the “psychiatric path,” I suffered many side-effects, which I dealt with one way or another but kept my medical bills hardy, and I was eventually met with dire consequences which completely tanked my health and almost cost me my life, and I had to go to great lengths and expense to correct all of this on my own with blind faith. I had no example at the time of coming off psych drugs, nor of “healing from mental illness” (as I thought about it at the time).

    I did find my healing path away from psych drugs and diagnosis, thank goodness, and got my head on straight, my issues integrated, and my life back on track. But it was a close call, way too close for comfort. This was my personal wake up call to the shadow underbelly of society, going through the “mental health” industry and all its tangents.

    Fortunately, I discovered 20 years after my initial diagnosis that I was wrong, the Dr’s were wrong, and none of this was ever true, and I never had anything more than emotions and some issues from my family which I had to eventually address and clean up, and bring in my own information so that I could make my life choices in a reasonably sound and discerning way, rather than driven by chronic negative internalized voices and self-image.

    I recovered from it all, but damn, what a waste of time, energy, money, and effort. Lesson learned! I do wish I could get a refund, however. This was costlier than I could possibly say. After 20+ years of being shit on by this so called “helping profession,” a full refund would make me a very wealthy man. Psychiatry took me to the cleaners and my partner and I only suffered even more in return.

    So, I take full responsbility for walking into these offices in the first place, and for believing Norman Lear, but it was the popular belief at the time, and I was actually being SELF-responsible, that was my sole intention. Still, I have to say this to psychiatry in general and to the “mental health” industry on the whole, with full sincerity: thanks for nothing.

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  27. Thank goodness for who you have become. You are amazing. Have you got it in you to be a stand for other people who might unknowingly be ready to head down a similar road and find the same sham that took you decades to discover? If so, please continue to be that voice. You are unique and spectacular, and again, thank you.

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    • You are too kind, Dr. Moss. This was my path, for better or worse. I did learn so much and I do recognize now that life is amazing, I will say that. Miraculous, even.

      To answer your question, I’m a bit ahead of you. I made a film about just this subject several years ago, simply with storytellers (including myself) recounting our journeys, and sharing our perspective in a unique conversation amongst ourselves. We are not of one mind or voice, but more so, we are diverse in our thinking. My intention was to present our perspectives in a way that was harmonious, what I call “A choir of voices” taking the audience through unique journeys of being and healing.

      I read about your upcoming documentary on your website, and it made me think of my film. And, I think it fits perfectly with “Welcome to Humanity,” because that is exactly what my film is–simply our humanity, expressed and embodied through our own voices of healing.

      I had no resources for this, so production values aren’t the greatest, but I believe the messages are clear and worthy of note. Certainly we tell an eye-opening story. It was also my first attempt at making a film, which I hope to do more, film is a passion of mine, and I think a great medium for truth speaking in all kinds of creative and engaging, entertaining ways. If you choose to check it out, I hope you enjoy–

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtDGxJWmj5w

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        • Thank you, Dr. Fred, I hope it helps to expand your awareness from a client perspective.

          Since your work is about personal transformation–as is mine–I do have one more piece to offer, again in the form of a film, the follow up to Voices That Heal. This time it’s short, only 28 minutes.

          This is all about music, love, healing and community service. On a personal level, it is my transformation, my example of it. This was 5 years after I made VTH, after my life had transformed thanks to the very thorough and in depth healing work I did, which also served as my training as a healer and teacher. I credit my truth-speaking, mostly, for moving me forward. It is directly because of that I ended up in a new and very beautiful, peaceful, and healing environment–among the Redwoods. Direct correlation between speaking my truth and transforming my life, the dots connect directly.

          Aside from being a healing guide for people, which is my life vocation, I am also music director and accompanist for a band which performs as a way of giving back to the community and raising the energy, this time with our musical voices.

          This is the result of my eschewing diagnoses and any kind of label, getting off of toxic psych drugs and withstanding a terrifying and painful withdrawal, and then getting on with my life in a way that makes my journey most meaningful and fulfiling to me, grounded, alive, and with enthusiasm for life in all of its abundant creativity.

          Littleturtle, I have a feeling you would enjoy this, too, I hope so at least. And certainly I invite anyone to watch this short film, who is in the mood for a bit of a joy elixir for the weekend. All of my films are intended to heal and uplift our spirits on some level, and to open our hearts.

          This film is purely heart-based, a musical documentation of a moment in time, and I think it’s fun and uplifting, certainly my intention. Anything to bring light to this dense society of ours and create some relief from the undue suffering. Love, music, volunteerism, giving back–those are our highest frequencies of energy, and they do bring healing to all who participate and who can take it in.

          This was our gift to the community of residents in the assisted living facillity where we performed, and their families. They ate it up!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8epJMOi3cwY

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  28. Dr. Moss

    I appreciate that you are speaking out about the problems with the Medical Model and writing about it here at MIA.

    However, I have some SERIOUS problems with part of the way you are characterizing the problem here.

    I will preface my criticism by letting you know that I worked for 22 years in community mental heath as an LMHC, with a strong focus on addiction issues. All those years I fought the take over of Biological Psychiatry and the Disease/Drug/Based Medical Model. I have multiple blogs here at MIA that make my positions quite clear on the problems with the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex.

    You stated the following:

    “All of this points to the reality that mental illness may provide the beholder some unique benefits. A payoff. What inherent benefits or payoffs may exist for identifying oneself as mentally ill?”

    First off, you did NOT put “mental Illness” in quotes. These are NOT medical problems people are dealing with here, but major conflicts with their environment that cause extreme forms of psychological distress. To make big changes in the world we must FIRST challenge the language of an oppressive status quo.

    Secondly, before we should EVER talk about the so-called “unique benefits” of a “mental health” diagnosis, we must FIRST thoroughly expose and analyze ALL the harm done by psychiatric labels. You did not do this. You placed an emphasis on the so-called “benefits.” This, unfortunately, gives power to, and reinforces, some of the negative stereotypes that exist in society about people with psychiatric labels who are declared “disabled” and receiving benefits.

    With some other more aware counselors I worked with over the years, we used the phrase “secondary gain” to describe the phenomena you are describing about people deriving some MINOR benefits from a “mental health” diagnosis.

    BUT notice the term “SECONDARY GAIN,” this is a far better way to characterize this issue, AND a far more accurate description that acknowledges the PRIMARY HARM and oppressive nature of psychiatric diagnoses.

    EVERYONE with a psychiatric diagnosis is PRIMARILY harmed by it, even if they are not currently conscious of this harm. While there may be surface benefits from these labels, do you really think these people are happy, and living lives to the fullest of their human potential???

    For anyone to accept a psychiatric diagnosis (and all the implications of said diagnosis) is a certain recipe to accept less in life. These diagnoses are psychologically crippling and the equivalence of “mental chains.”

    People who have unfortunately “bought into” the concept of a “mental health” diagnosis, are very much victims of a very oppressive System that has *brain washed* millions of people into believing a false narrative about the origins of psychological distress in society.

    We should NEVER talk about so-called “benefits” of psychiatric diagnoses without FIRST discussing the fact that people in society are victims of the biggest PR hoax ever successfully promoted in human society.

    Big Pharma and psychiatry have literally spent several hundred BILLION dollars over 4 decades to promote its false narrative about “chemical imbalances” and so-called “mental illness.” All of their “genetic theories of original sin” serve to hide (and misdirect people away from ) the inherent inequalities and forms of trauma in a class based capitalist society, that are the REAL causative factors for extreme psychological distress.

    We should NEVER write an article about people “LOVING” their diagnosis or gaining “BENEFITS” from it, without making it DOMINATELY clear where we are placing blame for ALL the psychological chains that are crippling human beings, and preventing us from obtaining REAL freedom and the fullest of our human potential.

    Fred, I hope you are open to important feedback about some of the problems with this blog.

    Richard

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    • Well thank you for this very thoughtful and thorough response. I must say that I find it ironic at a deep level. Like the pot calling the kettle green.

      I could not agree with what you are saying more. Really. I totally love your stand without qualification. I nearly always put the words “mental illness” in quotes (or dont use it at all) and have written many articles about how it is conversation alone, misdirected and often evil in its intent that created the language of mental illness as we know it now.
      As you might see from my numerous responses in this blog, I at no time will succumb to believing for one second that there is an entity called mental illness that is inherent and afflicting in nature. I am a stand for all experiences, ALL experiences that we are having, including this one right now, as being part of the only life we have, and not representative of mental illness as a condition ever. Welcome to Humanity. We have no idea what normal is. How then, do we pretend to describe and give any credibility to something called mentally abnormal?

      I believe that you will never find a greater proponent for the stand I hear you taking than me. In my first entry to this MAD environment, I thought that I was making that clear, but I have apparently fallen short. Please allow me to continue to learn, develop and contribute in a direction that can make a positive difference in thIS multi billion dollar funded atrocity known as the “mental health system”.

      WITH DEEP RESPECT,

      Dr Fred

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      • Dr. Moss, I agree with you on this one. While we already know these diagnoses are harmful, that is, our community here is very aware that a diagnosis will marginalize you, put you out of work, wreck your reputation, etc. As for drug harm, that’s publicly available knowledge also. There are varied reasons why people get into the rabbit hole of MH, often force or coercion or not knowing that it’s a rabbit hole.

        However, the question remains, why do people stay patients? Why do people stay even when, if they took a broader look at the situation, they see that MH world did not help, but actually caused deterioration. Why do so few doctors notice? Why do patients accept the deterioration instead of taking action?

        Those that are court-committed clearly do not want to take the drugs and often do not agree with the diagnosis. I’m certainly not referring to those who are in MH by force. Force wouldn’t be necessary if the patient can start identifying as a mental patient. Most of us did, sadly.

        When you identify as an MP without the use of force, or if force is only used occasionally, then the establishment has what it wants. Permanent patients.

        Therapists push this, many without realizing what they’re doing. Docs invariably do also. There’s a lot of peer pressure in the system to identify as an MP, and all this serves a purpose for the establishment.

        I believe it also serves a purpose for the patients. Many are terrified of being taken off disability payments because that means a major source of income will be cut off. Many are afraid to stop therapy for a variety of reasons. Many are also afraid to stop drugs, even if they suspect they might not even need them anymore.

        The System provides security for many. It’s a place to go. It’s where your friends are. It might even be where you have an identity or social role. Many patients still believe it’s helpful, even though they aren’t sure why and can’t seem to say exactly how it has improved their lives. They’re told it’s life-saving, and many still believe this.

        There are many redeeming factors about being a patient. That nice nurse or nice mental health worker. That one doc or therapist that you can spill your guts to. Therapy, which for many, feels good. But it’s all a trap. Every trap out there, including religious cults, has redeeming qualities, which is why we get sucked in in the first place, and often, why we can’t drag ourselves away.

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        • Treatment made me afraid of myself and afraid of the world. The labeling convinced me I was garbage. I believed if I couldn’t even get along with the people who were there to help me, the treaters – and I couldn’t – how would I get along with anyone else. For a few years after the borderline diagnosis, I told every new person in my life that I had the diagnosis, out of fairness I felt I should warn them. The drugs and iatrogenic abuse weakened me physically and mentally. People were constantly pushing me away from them and toward treatment – “have you talked to your therapist about that?” “Maybe it’s time for a meds adjustment?”. These are some of the reasons it was hard or impossible for me to leave. But what actually had to happen is, it had to get to a point where they wouldn’t treat me anymore. I couldn’t leave on my own. Now I’m in hiding. I can’t even go to a regular doctor because they’ll see my “affect” and tell me I need to “talk to someone/go back to my psychiatrist/go to the hospital/get back on meds.
          I always had this fantasy that someday I would meet a therapist who I could tell my whole story to, and they would hear me, and understand how one thing had led to another, and with that I would start to heal. That’s all it was, a fantasy. No one had the time or inclination to hear my story.

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          • Kate, I feel your pain as many others in our shoes do. We are led to believe you are going to get “help” dealing with difficult circumstances but instead we are ambushed. It is bad enough when a psychiatrist betrays you but even worse when a family member we reasonably assume will be an ally, joins in and throws you under the bus too. Someone mentioned on here the book “The Body Keeps the Score” and I have just started reading it. It seems to be helpful so far in understanding and processing trauma. Best to you.

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          • Rosalee, I also read that same book on trauma, or maybe a similar one. I agreed with much of it until I got to the part about trauma causing brain changes which are permanent that only a trauma therapist can heal. I cannot believe that these changes are permanent unless you make them permanent or sustain them by going to a mental health professional. Just getting away from the source of trauma is a start to healing, even though it is true that the worst of the traumatic reaction comes later on. It isn’t logical that going to a mental health professional is going to heal what mental health treatment caused. It makes so little sense…and yet people do this all the time, without even realizing it.

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          • Hi Julie, I am only at chapter 4 of the book and so far it’s been good but thanks for the heads-up.

            Btw, searching the net I came across a link to your MIA blogs. You write very well! Love your humor and wit. Also got a kick out of remarks in the comment section, i.e. the dog poop/recycling thing and the therapist not fitting thru the door. Life is short and we need to laugh once in while. Keep writing!

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        • I have felt, since my mid teens, like I was an embarrassment to my family.

          As a preacher’s daughter I was in the public eye–on a small scale. Instead of open rebellion I became obsessed with winning approval by being as thin as possible, wearing the appropriate amount of makeup, earning good grades but not showing off my intelligence in public (unfeminine.) Not to mention currying favor with high ranking, wealthy parishioners and kissing the butts of the nastiest elders’ wives who would make trouble for Dad otherwise.

          Sadly I could never say the Right Thing all the time. Mom would take me aside often and harp on my social inadequacies and failings. Nothing was good enough!

          I learned it wasn’t about Jesus or holy living but looking good and keeping up appearances. And kissing up to the “right people.” 😛

          I took after Dad. I read a lot, was interested in ideas instead of things, and couldn’t figure out what came naturally to other girls. Like talking for hour after hour about nothing. Or expressing interest in a guy without actually telling him. Or keeping abreast the latest fashion trends and pop culture.

          At 15, after a prolonged period of homelessness I felt responsible for, I decided to go quiet and try to become invisible. Since everything I said or did was wrong and brought shame upon my family.

          As the new girl I made an easy target. Serious, bookish, and quiet. A group of the nastiest male students would describe graphic sex acts to me in the halls. Try as I would to conceal my distress and ignore them–which everyone told me to do–my face would look weird and my body would tremble. The sight of my emotional pain brought them exquisite delight. But none of them were “diagnosed SMI.”

          According to the APA that kind of bullying is healthy and normal. Lol. (Maybe the psychiatrists who write the DSM identify with school bullies. Or enjoyed bullying weaker kids when in high school themselves.)

          This led to severe social anxiety at 18. Too afraid to leave my college dorm room.

          I readily believed I was SMI when told, unhappy as the diagnosis made me. What else could it be? I “knew” there was something terribly wrong with me since I couldn’t win the love and approval of all I met.

          It relieved my family a little–shameful and scandalous as the label was. At least they understood why I couldn’t play the stupid social games to perfection! (Ever tried social hobnobbing and butt kissing while drugged out of your gourd? It’s a bummer!)

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          • This is awful, Rachel. I’m sorry. Although my family background is different, I totally relate to your story in terms of not fitting in to a very circumscribed, impossible role and then being made a scapegoat.
            When I was in the hospital waiting for my first ECT treatment, the psychiatrist called a family meeting, ostensibly because he wanted to see if I was playing some role in the family by having depression. I’ve been depressed since I was a teenager and I was then in my late 30s. I had not responded to 6 years of weekly appointments with a psychiatrist. That was why he recommended the ECT. So he called this meeting to see if I was playing some role in my family. My mother, my sister, and my sister’s husband showed up. My sister started the meeting by saying to the doctor, “the problem here is that nothing has ever been good enough for my little sister.” Her tone was just dripping with hate. For the next 40 minutes or so, my sister, my brother-in-law and my mother took turns taking jabs at me. I don’t remember that the psychiatrist said anything. The family members were all in agreement that whatever this illness I had was all my fault because I was a spoiled brat. The hilarious part is that, from what I remember, this meeting had no impact on my psychiatrist and it was never spoken of again. Several weeks later, after having had eight or nine shock treatments that I didn’t respond to, I got the borderline diagnosis. Sometimes the memory of this meeting surfaces and I want to call up that psychiatrist on the phone and say, “Really?” But I know it wouldn’t get me anywhere and he’s about the last person I want to talk to anyway.

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          • Kate, your story reminds me of a stay I had on a long term term trauma unit where they kept suggesting that my boyfriend coming to visit daily was somehow interfering with my progress in treatment. They didn’t provide any context as to what they meant and I’m really bad at reading between the lines. Then when I finally left him after ten years and my psychiatrist told me how relieved she was that I finally moved on and my best friend told me she and her husband couldn’t stand my ex and I wanted to just start screaming at everyone WHY DIDN’T ANYONE SAY SOMETHING??? It really made no sense to me that for ten years I was in this awful relationship not recognizing the gaslighting and the way he was manipulating and controlling me into being “multiple” and nobody once made any kind of specific charge that might have empowered me to leave him sooner. The most I ever got from anyone was the people on that one unit suggesting politely that he might be holding up my progress in treatment.

            I can also relate to the whole concept of being treated by family as if you’re just a spoiled brat. This was the dynamic I grew up with too and I have no doubt that if my toxic siblings had ever been involved in my therapy as an adult that they’d make the same charge still. I’ve been the family scapegoat for so long it’s almost comical at this point. This year will mark twenty years since I’ve spoken to my next oldest sister who participated the most in blaming me as the baby of the family for our familiy’s dysfunction. This speaks to that whole “shit flows downhill” concept that’s come up in recent discussions.

            I do find more and more, the older I get, that I don’t have the mental energy for these impossible victim blaming dynamics. Anyway, it’s good to see you posting again. Those of us who see this system for what it is and are willing to keep calling it out need to stick together. While some commenters around here are content to sycophantically suck up to professionals and participate in victim blaming in exchange for positive attention from their former captors, I left that behavioral dynamic behind with the drugs and treatments.

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          • On the positive side, my “diagnosis” cured me of perfectionism. I no longer had to play the role of Perfect since I had been assigned the one of Madwoman.

            My parents were not perfect, but the real abuse came from bizarre, controlling adults at church. Like sometimes good parents discover their kids are being molested. (Someone Else’s situation.) Church can be a very good thing. Like an extended family. If a family turns dysfunctional though, you need to set some boundaries. Now, as an adult, I can finally. 🙂

            My family was more accepting of my choice to leave psychiatry than I dared hope. Going was my idea (originally) to “fix” the problem that I was too smart, interested in abstract ideas, and bored by pop culture. 😛

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    • littleturtle, it means so much to me to know that Voices That Heal has touched your heart, thank you for sharing this ♥

      I truly hope, more than ANYTHING, that watching the film has helped to bring you some healing and relief. That is, first and foremost, always my intention.

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  29. I have been censored and my responses to Dr. Moss removed. I can only assume that it was a single post suggesting that a quick internet search may show that he is not quite the advocate he claims to be (I didn’t even say that overtly).

    I have been silenced by “mental health professionals” like him in the past – which probably contributes to what he called my “bitterness” – this being the wild wild web, I’m not overly concerned, just a little saddened that a site such as this would contribute to that.

    I suspect this post will be deleted as well, but I’m bowing out of this particular conversation and will decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to read future “articles” by him.

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    • No, please don’t go! I am not interested in censoring you or anything. And please keep saying everything that is important to you. Never stop that. I have never lost my license in ANY state, though there has been a discipline event for which I have had to follow my tracks. I had a DUI in September, 2002, and was on probation as a result of that years later in 2005 (indiana) and 2006-2008 (ohio) when they realized late that I was not disciplined on time in 2002. At various times, in NC and Illinois, I did not report that event properly and was dinged for that. Recently, I voluntarily gave up my license in Michigan, due to not doing any more conventional work there, and having not done the typically drug company sponsored CME requirement, and this also shows as a disciplinary action. My licenses now in California and Illinois are full and active.
      That is the extent of my formal disciplinary actions.

      Among other things, I am indeed a “coach” now as I don’t perform regular psychiatric care because that require diagnosing and medicating. i don’t accept insurance for my services and am gearing that practice to high ticket customers who then can carry this message to others in their space. I still perform with no or very low reimbursement when the calling comes. The prices listed on my website are for work I can do for those with the money to pay that, to assist them in getting (for REAL) that indeed mental illness is just a conversation and with proper attention to different components, can be transformed, by many means, including, but not limited to, removing the assailing medications and the damaging diagnoses and replacing them with the universal healing techniques of creativity and connection and detoxification.

      I don’t work for any corporations or businesses and my offer for them is to go into those facilities and assist them to learn about the misdirection that mental illness industry has taken and to redirect attention to the empowerment of everybody, the families and the friends and the identified “mentally ill”. These speaking gigs are being toned now and have not gathered real steam yet, and the circumstances around them are meant to be customizable to the challenges I am hired to face, in each unique circumstance.

      Regarding my negative reviews on the internet, there was a time that I was stingy with giving out medications (benzos and pain pills in particular), instead standing for sobriety and alternative ways of dealing with distress, and the patients who were seeking them from me thought that I was being mean to them. I was threatened with slander and did not budge. Then it actually happened. There was a concerted effort to malign me and make things up about my personal life and professional life that were simply untrue and also literally unremovable and un-respondable. They have stayed on the internet as a reminder as to the treacherousness of this platform and the possibility of easily getting character assassinated for things that did not even occur. I am so sorry that this misperception still lingers.

      I am priced high for my coaching services but actually those services are meant to and intended to remove mental illness from the conversations of my clients and the people they associate with, for once and for all, because really there is not any inherent entity as mental illness. Finding new ways to deal with, describe and treat those who have been saddled with these conditions is the only thing left for me to address in my lifetime, as a legacy level committment. Hence, the Global Madness project.

      I am passionate about my stand to end mental illness as an entity on a global scale. It really is with deep and full conviction that I do this. I have been around to many, many nooks and crannies of the national and international system and have plenty to offer if given the opportunity. I still have my credentials, and my passion and interest, so I proceed.

      There is nothing etched in stone about how I may be of service to anyone in the future. I certainly am not here to fight anyone about my legitimacy in the field as my record is long and although not unscathed, represents experience in many relevant areas over time. That I survived at all, let alone with a willingness, desire and passion to alter the sick system from the ground up on a global scale is way more surprising to me than having some serious battle scars to show for my ride through the meat grinder.

      Can I be forgiven for who I have been, at times conventional, at times revolutionary, at times loved, other times rejected, at times larger than life, at other times human? I hope so, but if not, well, life is rough and I have learned that first hand many times.

      If you feel my services can benefit you or somebody you know or an association you are involved with to really assist in altering the narrative about mental illness on a global scale, please let me know. I am flexible and much of my work, if purposeful, is done without charge and with the same level of deep committment. Other pieces of my work can have a price tag, to be determined.

      The money I will make when providing my payable services will be funneled back to the system directly. Althiugh I travel and attend to growth and development educational courses, I live modestly. I have minimal material goods, including no car, no TV, virtually no furniture, etc. I plan to reinvest my earnings directly to the cause of altering the narrative of mental health for all people for the rest of my life. I ask that you do not judge me by what the market can bear for my unique services, and somehow get, sooner or later, that I am a stand for the end of mental illness, using whatever means possible, on a global scale, for the rest of my life.

      Are you willing to extend that level of honor and courtesy to consider that? If so, please do. I am a true and deep stand for this work.

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      • FWIW, Dr. Peter Breggin was threatened with the loss of his license by NAMI.

        So…even if a psychiatrist is reprimanded it could just as easily be for doing the right thing as something unusually bad (and not covering it up cleverly.)

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      • Hi again, Fred. I appreciate the honesty and candidness in this reply. I’d like to know, do you consider your position to be antipsychiatry? Are you committed to ending psychiatry as a medical discipline and freeing the “patients” from the system?

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        • Psychiatry, as a profession, as it is presently understood to be, is not doing a valuable service to the population as a whole, and is actually doing a grave disservice. As stated before, it is more about manufacturing “patients”, the “mentally ill” and a polarization of the populace, leaving many otherwise innocent, yet troubled people disempowered and worse than they were when they arrived. From this perspective, it cannot be tolerated as a discipline and needs to be either totally eliminated, or perhaps, thoroughly revised as a profession from the ground up, a full transformative redefinition of its purpose.

          If it was to become a profession that properly assisted people to find ways that actually worked to empower themselves and others when in despair or when mentally challenged or discomforted, using techniques that did not inherently cause any damage, it would be a different field altogether. Even if it kept its original name, it would not have to be eradicated entirely as a profession, if somehow this level of transformation could be realized. As a newly exemplary subspecialty in the conventional medical world, it could then ideally take the lead, with other disciplines following its footsteps towards healthy practices, realigning themselves with the actual healing arts rather than the multibillion dollar corporate albatross that our medical system has become over the last several decades.

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          • Fred

            The following was my response in a recent blog to a question about the future of psychiatry:

            “In a JUST world ,where real science was taught to regular physicians, they would know that “psychosis” could occur from certain medical conditions, and then act accordingly. This DOES NOT require the need for psychiatry.

            In a JUST world, those people currently labeled as genuine dissident psychiatrists, could either choose to do therapy (and now call themselves therapists) OR choose to become neurologists, for which there is genuine science to describe certain actual brain disorders and the respective forms of legitimate treatment.

            There is NO science to justify the existence of medicalizing psychological distress and responding to these problems as if they required medical “treatment.”

            The existence of modern psychiatry has a definite role in shifting people’s attention away from the inherent systemic problems (injustice and inequality) within the class based capitalist system.”

            Richard

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          • The medicalization of psychological distress is fraught with dangerous implications and complications. What if psychiatry could, as a unique field, lead the medical world away from the medicalization of many questionable human phenomena, towards its rightful desirable place as a central healing art?

            Being a therapist or a neurologist does not, in and of itself, remove one from being an inherent part of the medicalization of psychological stress, in my experience. Obviously, it is in one’s way of being with others that healing can occur, more so than in the professional title they choose to hang on their wall.

            Would that be acceptable or expectable in a just world?

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          • OK so I take it that your response to Kindred Spirit is NO, as it was a yes or no question. Dr. Moss is a nice guy but is NOT anti-psychiatry, as he holds out hope that is can be “improved.”

            However something built on fraudulent premises can not be improved. So it looks like we’re back to square one.

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      • Dr. Fred, I checked out your services. We basically do the same thing and have similar goals with clients, to help free them of negative self-beliefs and feel their creative power. To me, that is a heart based energy, specifically. The idea of “mental illness” doesn’t even enter the picture, unless they bring it up as past experience, or they are looking for that new perspective. I work with people of all walks of life, with this same goal of personal freedom, starting from within. That is universal to all souls, the desire to be free.

        I was wondering if you are familiar with the concept of grounding, that is one thing I notice might be missing in your work, based on my perspective of healing and transformation. I am not seeing grounding here, does that make sense to you? Being in our bodies, grounded to the Earth. That is how we make manifest our vision.

        At some point, as we are guided by our own intution, we have to surrender our vision to the universal life flow of energy and trust the process without the intention of controlling anything, wouldn’t you agree? Detaching from outcome? Would you agree that this is a vital component of our personal power in the process of manifesting our lives? And specifically, to transformation? At some point, it’s necessary to let go and trust, if change is to occur with relative ease. I ask because it seems aligned with your work, if I’m reading it correctly.

        My second film is an exact example of this. It is of the Earth, and you can see it in the film, Earth and nature are visible. Humanity is on Earth, that is the nature of being human. Music is considered of the Earth, which is why it brings people together and speaks on many levels, transcending language. We feel it in our hearts,, and when we GROUND this feeling, we are bringing light to the Earth, to all of humanity. This is healing on so many levels!

        I believe we all have this power, to bring light to humanity, simply by grounding, coming down to Earth, and opening our hearts, just a bit to start. Is this at all copacetic or overlapping with how you help to guide and empower your clients and audiences? It’s all I’m ever trying to get across, and I wonder to what extent this rings true to you, especially given our similar goals in our client work–to empower via their own sense of personal freedom and self-regard.

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        • I love what you are saying here about grounding, Alex. I have not yet officially worked that into my platform somehow but yes, it is critically important and may in fact be the straw that stirs the drink, in so many ways. Once grounded, our humanity is realized and music and the arts come to life in ways that otherwise are unobtainable.
          It is totally copacetic and overlapping with who I am as a healer and I will be using it as part of my toolset from now on.
          Thank you for reminding me of this, in such a gentle, inspiring way.

          With Great appreciation,

          Dr Fred

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          • Dr. Fred, that is MUSIC to my ears, as my own dad would say. Thank you, yes, indeed, I’m a Renaissance kind of person, the world came alive with art, music, theater, a new paradigm of thought and living, out of the Dark Ages. It was a grand transformation.

            When I went to see a medical intuit in 2001 to guide me off of a lot of psych drugs safely (out of dire medical necessity, all of a sudden), the very first thing she said to me was that I needed to learn how to ground my energy. This had been the cause of my anxiety and ups and downs all along.

            Had someone told me this in 1982, it would have saved me sooooo much trouble, I can hardly calculate it. Really, none of what I went through would have been necessary, I’ve no doubt. This was new info to me. Drugs are the last thing one needs when one lacks grounding. They unground us even more, keep us out of our feelings and in our heads, spinning in thoughts. So it’s a double-whammy.

            So grounding was step 1, to bring some peace to the system, a bit of calm and deep breathing to just feel slightly more ease, that feeling of surrender just for the moment, and then things fell into place so much more easily because we are creating what we need along the way, is how I look at it. Amazing the difference it made.

            And it’s not easy, life is ungrounding as it is, but mutliple trauma makes it ever more so, because we keep ourselves unwittingly ungrounded with our own thoughts. There is healing to do here. It does take practice. This is what I learned of most value, I think, and what helped me to get on with things. Came to me from a variety of sources along the way, I had to synthesize it.

            Only other thing I feel compelled to say here is that trust is something to be earned nowadays, we’ve all been so betrayed by one person/community/institution or others. We are, indeed, all in it together, like it or not! We all serve, one way or another.

            Thank you for your presence and work in the world, and for putting all of your skills to good use. We’ve all challenges to overcome. I’ve enjoyed the exchange and sharing 🙂 Cheers!

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      • Dr. Fred, thanks for your candor and transparency in this comment.

        This statement really resonated… “There was a concerted effort to malign me and make things up about my personal life and professional life that were simply untrue and also literally unremovable and un-respondable.”

        This is the same thing that happens to those who get the bogus DSM labels put into their medical records, along with other damaging and utterly false statements about who they are as a person, and then even with irrefutable hard evidence to the contrary these labels and lies can NEVER be removed or even amended.

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    • I just posted a reply to your first post, then saw this. Thank you again so much for taking the time to view the film and for sharing your reaction, littleturtle. Messy, indeed! I hope we can begin to get some fruitful clarity around it all sooner than later. Healing blessings to you ♥

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  30. Fred I agree with Kindredspirit about the candidness of your responses and your willingness to be open to all ideas and criticisms, if they ring true. I, also know that dissident psychiatrists can be open to many attacks for operating outside the confines of the oppressive Medical Model paradigm.

    There is a Dr. Kelmenson who posts blogs here (with some good points) but has often promoted a “blame the victim” political line about the “willingness” of psych patients to take drugs and accept diagnoses and disability benefits.

    My response to this has been that in a ONE TO ONE conversation with such a person I would definitely challenge their acceptance of psychiatric labels and believing they are disabled, or any other approach of accepting less in life.

    HOWEVER, publicly when addressing these issues I would NEVER EVER place ANY blame on the masses for ANY collective sense of low self esteem or desire to numb themselves from a trauma filled world. We must ALWYS place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the “powers that be.”

    NOBODY IS BORN THIS WAY! It is a powerful ruling class (including the leaders of Big Pharma and psychiatry) who have created a world and a System that all too often crushes the human spirit, and some people end up accepting less in life and will engage in many type of self defeating behaviors. This is NOT their fault.

    We must always point the finger of blame directly towards those people, institutions, and classes in society who DIRECTLY BENEFIT from any human being accepting the concept of “mental illness” and all the disability diagnoses and drugs that may go with it.

    Fred, thanks for writing and staying down in the difficult trenches in the comment section.

    Richard

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  31. Rosalee

    Thank you very much for that comment. And I always appreciate your input at MIA as well.

    Things can get rough at times in the comment section, but we can’t forget that this will be a long and treacherous Long March to do what is necessary to change this world into a better place.

    “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

    Richard

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    • Thanks Richard, and yes… let us not give up the fight as this is an epidemic of human rights violations being inflicted on so many.
      I believe it was you who stated it well in a previous post, something like “lets unite all those that can be united”.

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  32. Getting a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder 13 years ago effectively ruined my life. It was delivered thus: “You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work.”. Innumerable psych meds, treaters and treatments later, I’m now fully disabled with no friends and no family. I rarely leave the house. I had a full time job and had just completed a graduate degree when I got the diagnosis. I went home and googled bpd, as I’d never heard of it, and read about Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Congratulations, psychiatry.

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    • Kate, you can contact me anytime. Reaching out to you. Find me on my blog, juliemadblogger.com. There is a Contact Me page there and I respond as soon as I see it. I was dxed BPD right after shock to excuse away the confusion from the shock. I was lucky that the dx was taken off later on, but years after that, my ex-friends distance-diagnosed me with BPD and somehow that got spread around. I also have “paranoia” on my social record, which caused me to lose all my friends. I have not really recovered from that.

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  33. Hi Dr. Moss, I loved your essay. Having been in the ‘beast’ for 11 years and finally fighting my way out with a vacated diagnosis, I felt uncomfortable and ashamed when people asked why I didn’t get out sooner. I was aware that at diagnosis I felt a kind of relief at the moment of vulnerability that the experts recognized something and had a plan. I didn’t, which was why I was there. Out of my hands, into theirs. Unburdened. EZ-PZ…and that made me responsible or the next decade, my fault. It’s taken years to dig myself out of that self-blaming.

    What was to come was not what I thought I was signing up for.
    Being drugged with the side effects initially felt like a penance of sorts (the industry allowed me to think just that) and others I met shared those incongruous feelings. Over the years as I got more profoundly blunted, sicker, and more damaged from the side effects, I realized that it was sinister and there was nothing wrong with me that warranted this kind of ‘correction’/punishment. Not one damn thing.

    Of course, I had been relieved of any credibility at the moment of diagnosis. Being drugged, I could have fallen back into the stuporous ennui that defined me for a decade. Finding the energy and intellectual organization on the drugs to make an effective push-back was out of my reach.
    Fear and rage finally propelled me out. It was a controlled violence towards my captors and I took back what was salvageable.

    My point is that while I was ‘in’ the system, I was active in groups and had eyes wide open to what was going on around me. I know there were folks very comfortable with the identity of the diagnosed bipolar. I knew that feeling. I have no doubt in my mind they were some also comfortable being described by a doctor instead of tackling the hard bits of life. I also think many people don’t have the skill set to navigate life for all kinds of ‘legitimate’ reasons. And depression in others confounds and frightens me. I only know it as a side effect. Each person’s ‘story’ is as different as fingerprints. My takeaway was that the drugs sooner or later exacerbated any pejoratives, reinforcing more drug ‘treatment’. And that’s some Texas-sized BS there. And it’s not new news.

    I believe the marketing machine of pharma and the APA have successfully convinced many that a bipolar diagnosis is the indicator of a sensitive, good individual dealt a crappy hand and defines them as ‘special’ and cared for. Maybe. No
    .
    I only believe THAT from a non-prescription writing psychologist whose only skin in the game is an expanding client base. Talking good, drugs bad.

    You struck just the right note when explaining what you’ve seen and it takes some big ones to say that in your professional context here on MIA.

    The fear everybody has in criticizing the diagnosed when most know the ‘inside baseball’ game of ambiguous language, false diagnoses, meta-drugs, and retaining conscription, is self-defeating.

    The industry has been correctly defamed for their venal behaviors, yet there are a few ‘good ones’ (doctors); conversely, people have terrible challenges they need help overcoming, but languishing in a diagnosis to wield it as an excuse happens also. We can hold more than one view of an enormously complex model.

    As a feminist, it reminds me of the few bad apples who use false sexual assault claims that poison the well for the many, many more true victims. Or the recent Smollet case where many are conflicted or a wide variety of cultural reasons; it should be “it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove”. But sometimes we just know and that’s still an opinion…. Psychiatry has taught us unintentionally that only works sometimes. Their claim of absolutes is specious and inflicts harm.

    You spoke about a taboo among clients and former clients and good for you. You got it just right. I’m glad you had the boldness to put it out there.

    I apologize for being long-winded. You hit a nerve that I believe, only the diagnosed (& the diagnosers) understand. It’s messy.

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    • Your thoughtful and comprehensive reply is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Krista.

      The ability to see this as a personal and sociological phenomena, as a multi-dimensional atrocity that is obscured and tainted by whatever viewpoint one can take from the standpoint they are in at any time, and to be articulately descriptive about it all is a gift that you possess. An extraordinary gift at that.

      The way through all of this towards any transformative gain, in my view, starts with really being able to see where we (as humans generally) all are now with respect to this topic of “mental illness”. We actually may have an opportunity to make a difference here and now, given the available technology, the interest and the willingness and capacity for so many to speak their truth and amalgamate what arises into a distilled spectrum of what is really so. Then move from there.

      Now is the best time to take the next step. Thank you for doing so.

      Dr Fred

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  34. Thank you, Kindred spirit and Rosalee. I wasn’t sure how to reply to either of your comments directly. KS, yes, but it is the patient, supposedly, who needs to work on her communication skills. Shit rolls downhill, also yes – I’m also the baby, youngest of 4. Your last paragraph 🙂
    Rosalee, I have this book. It’s very good. I keep meaning to crack it open again. I heard Dr. Van der Kolk speak once, at the Yale BPD conference. I have so much respect for him. He is willing to stand up in front of a roomful of prescribers and well meaning (to give them the benefit of the doubt) therapists whose focus is mainly on teaching the patient to think and behave more effectively in the present. He stands up in front of all those people and says that the root cause, severe childhood trauma, needs to be acknowledged and addressed. And, as per his book title, it’s not just in the patient’s head. It’s in their body at the cellular level.
    I can’t say that DBT never helped me, but when I was in the DBT program the philosophy was that the patient’s history was irrelevant. It was all a matter of changing behavior, replacing “ineffective” coping with effective coping. I found that stance very invalidating but stayed in the program because the lead clinician was smart and compassionate, and he did listen, just not about the past. I did my last stint in that program 5 years ago. They have since added a trauma treatment aspect – prolonged exposure therapy – to the program.

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    • A few years ago my theradude said it seemed like I had done DBT on myself. I never particularly cared for the group dynamic and the way DBT is often presented in a way that was ultimately shaming to the person who was genuinely seeking help and wanted to interact in more mature ways. So after a couple attempts to do a DBT group, I just read Linehan’s material and did the big workbook on my own. I used what seemed helpful and dismissed without judgement what didn’t apply to me.

      DBT reminds me a lot of AA’s “working the steps” in terms of its regimented thinking about what a “borderline” or “alcoholic” actually is. It seems to largely start from the perspective that you’ve been a terrible person who needs to fundamentally change how you interact with the world. It’s seems to me that whatever push-pull kind of tendencies I may have don’t need to be thought of as pathological, but rather they make sense as a coping mechanism in response to extreme trauma. So learning more effective ways to communicate and to handle distressing feelings in interpersonal relationships isn’t about being a “better person” to others but finding a way to be happier within myself. And largely AA strikes me the same way. I never did anything worse than send loose-lipped texts when I was drunk – nothing earth shattering. And I don’t need to work the steps to understand that nothing good ever came of getting drunk or that I like getting drunk. The AA foks would call me a dry drunk but I just think it’s rational to not drink and I don’t have to pathologize myself as some kind of bad drunk and participate in the self-shaming circle jerk at meetings in order to police my own self-destructive tendencies.

      I think largely these programs would be much more helpful if they came with some instruction and practice on just speaking honestly with yourself and not judging yourself and then learning to turn that honesty outwards. I think those of us who’ve been subject to trauma (prior to trauma from treatment) could take the “lessons” better if they weren’t delivered with the notion that the way one is currently functioning is fundamentally flawed.

      As for trauma’s effects at the cellular level, I think the research on epigenetic changes in the way our own DNA is expressed as a result of trauma concretely explains why it has such extreme long term health implications. Physical disability from psychological trauma is real. The individual should never be blamed for these effects.

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      • Kindred, I agree totally about DBT being blameful toward the patient. I read the first few pages of the manual and did not go any further. First sentence: Life is hard. I’m fine with that. But then it went on to show two girls, one of them shown as a sicko, and the other one, non-sicko. So the manual said this is for you sicko folks. After reading that, I was so turned off I wouldn’t read anymore of that nonsense.

        I’ve been in DBT groups. The last one, everyone was fidgeting from their anti-d drugs. That was hard to endure, seeing everyone in that room fidgeting constantly. i kept wondering how the staff could stand it. Anyway, the concepts were so basic that I was surprised that most of the patients couldn’t understand them. I ended up feeling like I was leading the group explaining these things to them. I believed at the time that the drugs caused them to have cognitive difficulties. I can’t think of any reason why they seemed so slow-minded. I felt like I was back in grade school, but these were grown women, some well-educated, too. Many also played with stuffed animals…..

        I finally left the day program after three days, realizing it just wasn’t for me. Then, not much later, I found the Movement and I have not looked back. Sept 13 was my last psychiatrist appointment. She asked me five times if I felt like killing anyone, then she threatened me and said I had to take anti-p drugs and if I didn’t, she wouldn’t treat me. The answer? You guess.

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        • Julie, this is so familiar, so in line with what I experienced. Did the sicko girl in your DBT book have a cartoon drawing where her face was all screwed up? I stayed in the DBT program as long as I did because I trusted the lead clinician. Not anymore. He let so many abusive behaviors from other treatment providers slide. It was always a matter of me learning to use my communication skills to get them to stop abusing me.
          In my group there was a lot of fidgeting too. Also some people were sound asleep in their chairs, often due to being on high doses of antipsychotics. The clinicians would tell these patients to hold a bag of ice to stay awake, or to go splash cold water on their face. How about lowering the antipsychotic dose, clinicians, since that’s why they’re sound asleep in their chairs (either that or it was methadone maintenance since I was in the substance track)?
          I’ve had similar ultimatums from treatment providers, the “I won’t treat you unless you’re ingesting X.” Even from self-billed trauma therapists who had no education or training in medications. That in itself is a trauma.

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    • What is DBT precisely?

      I guess I never experienced it; I don’t even know what the letters stand for.

      None of my “therapists” followed any real theory. Some helped a little–or would have if I hadn’t been drugged and labeled. Many just repeated, “Take your meds. Realize you’ll always be insane. Take your meds. Don’t follow your dreams, or have dreams. Take your meds….”

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      • Rachel, it stands for dialectical behavior therapy. The idea that two seemingly opposing ideas both have truth, and finding the truth in both, finding the middle ground, or something like that. It’s a nice idea I guess. Everyone has access to the truth but some people’s access is better than others because they’re not deranged, is what it really comes down to. The clinician’s truth always trumps the patient’s truth, in my experience with DBT.

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        • Rachel, DBT is a way of telling patients, mostly women, that they’re defective and need “therapy” to heal from something that the clinician is delusional about. Some doctors will label anyone that walks into their office as BPD. BPD is a way of discrediting you and permanently wrecking your reputation. It will work well if a person has been abused because then, the abuser is now safe because the woman’s accusation is nothing but a symptom.

          It worked very well for the doctors who knew that shock had harmed me. BPD silenced me and it was their excuse, ultimately, to threaten to put me in State. They HAD to do that to cover up ECT harm.

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          • Very true. This diagnosis is all over my medical records. After first being diagnosed and winding up in DBT, I was naive enough to think that I needed to tell any doctor I saw, whether and internist or specialist of any kind, about my diagnosis. Because then they would be able to help me better. What the diagnosis really meant was that nothing I said from that point on would be given any credence by any medical person. If I spoke of pain, I was hysterical or drug seeking.
            One of the worst things that happened was I had been put on a trial of Parnate by the psychiatrist at the IOP program I was attending (the DBT group met downstairs, in the windowless basement of this building that had originally been a morgue). My blood pressure got crazy high within a week of being on the parnate. I was taken off the parnate and my blood pressure was monitored. Everyone including me fully expected for my blood pressure to come back to normal. I was getting readings every day in the 170/140 range. Back then I was really healthy physically. I was a good weight and I exercised everyday. I juiced for god sakes. Noone – not the psychiatrist nor the internist I was seeing nor the cardiologist that the internist referred me to nor the ER doctors that I saw on one occasion when my BP got even higher than high – would acknowledge any connection between the parnate and the blood pressure. They just said things like, it’s out of your system now. One psychiatrist wrote in my chart that the reason for the hypertension was that I hadn’t followed the restricted diet for people on parnate, which was absolutely false. Cardiologist ran the usual stress tests and ultimately concluded that this sudden hypertension was due to age. “Welcome to your forties, you have hypertension.” All of these doctors did everything in their power to make this problem not about parnate. I had no history of hypertension of any kind prior to the trial. At one point, I said to the psychiatrist who had prescribed it, “since parnate is contraindicated for anyone who has any history of hypertension, did you check to see that I had no history before prescribing the parnate? And if so, you would have seen that I had no history of hypertension.” He said, “I don’t know Kate, maybe you just really get to people” and that all the anger that I had was raising my blood pressure. The internist had me on three different blood pressure meds. I was responding to none of them and she kept raising the doses. Eventually I asked for my records from the Yale psych ward, since every morning when you’re an inpatient they take your blood pressure. I made clear when I requested the records that I was only interested in the BP readings. What I received was a stack of paperwork, most of it scribbled or otherwise unreadable. There was one doctor’s note in my chart that said, “patient is thought to have poor judgment.”
            Another note repeated the accusation that I had failed to comply with the parnate diet.
            Finally the doctors came up with the line that I had had some kind of latent hypertension all along and that being on the parnate just made that latent hypertension un-latent. The night I showed up at the ER, they almost admitted me to the psych ward. Why? I wasn’t suicidal. I believe it’s because I had the nerve to challenge them, to challenge their authority, which is the same thing that got me the borderline diagnosis to begin with. I’ll never forget the doctor who shook his finger in my face and said “the problem here is that you don’t listen to your doctors!”. No one came to bat for me. Not the DBT clinician I had so much trust in.
            I totally identify with your experience, Julie.

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          • Kate, my experience was so similar to yours. My complaints about my eating disorder were misconstrued as, “You are just a spoiled Jewish girl, so…” When I had pimples from lithium they never informed me that pimples are a side effect. They claimed it was “poor self care.” When I broke my leg because Risperdal messed with my hormones, causing osteoporosis, it was “bad luck.” When Seroquel caused me to gain 100 pounds, I was the one who was too lazy to go to the gym. When Imipramine caused racing pulse, I was told it was “nothing” even though my pulse was never under 90. BP was raised on that drug, also, again, “nothing.” Imipramine caused agitation, again, “We don’t know, maybe you need more therapy.” When my feet and legs swelled up from kidney disease caused by lithium…oh no, that is poor self-care and likely from your eating disorder. One doc even said it wasn’t edema when it obviously was. When I started getting very painful muscle cramps in my toes, fingers, feet, etc, caused by kidney disease, it was “anxiety.” Really, it was impending kidney failure. When finally my kidneys outright failed, it was “suicidality” when in fact, it was from lithium all along. Trauma from hospital abuse was mistaken for paranoia and mania. Can they ever get anything right? Best to stay away!

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  35. The ‘way out’ for me and many I know was to rouse ourselves from the isolating comfort of our bedrooms, homes, keyboards, relentless routine of self-examination, ‘picking a scab’, and help others.

    It’s not deep or original; many will reject it out of hand, it’s tired, it’s trite, it’s blah, blah, blah…I can’t find any interests….I hate people…no one understands MY specific pain….I’m uncomfortable…

    Getting outside my own head was rewarded with PERSPECTIVE…a dry, boring, undramatic term……. that only quietly changes everything. But you’ve got to show up.

    I learned that mine was (very, very) far from the worst circumstances and tragedy that can happen to a human being or living creature. I had been saturated for years by shame, anger, damages, nobody ‘gets’ it-itis, and queen-of-pain syndrome. And apparently comfortable there for awhile. I was not confined to a wheelchair, and despite my interior denials, I still had freedom of choice as to how I was going to spend my time on earth.
    I had to come to terms with ‘it’s not a contest’, ‘get in line’….and some tough self-love.

    Occasionally writing Comments here and there and reading about others had a limited effect after awhile; seemingly cathartic, but to what end? For me, the answer was more of the same, on an endless loop. I had to step off. I was devoting most of my time immersed in the situation and people from the past that I loathed the most. I CHOSE to do this. I was giving away my power and years freely to these old monsters. Eeeuuw.

    Volunteering took awhile (years), but what it delivered in pride of alleviating the suffering of those less fortunate, was tiny compared to the maturity, humility, compassion, and PERSPECTIVE it delivered.

    I did this while I was still in the machine, suffering everyday with side effects that made me legless at times. The beauty of volunteering is that you can bow out during the rough patches; they’re delighted to have you back whenever you can come..guilt free & for me, with an abundance of compassion.
    It was transformational.

    For me, it was easier to relate to animals and like-minded folks. There was less talk and more eyeball-to-eyeball with unwanted, non-judgemental, damaged critters who only saw their position in the world through the lens of kindness vs pain, contentment vs fear, survival vs death. I could relate.

    My heartrate dropped, anxiety diminished, well-being creeped in, and I allowed myself to trust and feel things, even when the outcome wasn’t positive, which happened too often.

    And THAT was a big test; would I careen into sadness? No, there was always more (unfortunately) that needed what I could offer. Staying home and being depressed was self-indulgent when they sat in cages waiting for a small kindness; I could deliver that and STILL be depressed, if I chose. They just wanted a little pat on the head and some fresh water.

    Yeah, I took Tai Chi, Qi Gong, etc., but it just reinforced what I was being schooled in every interaction at the shelter regarding unfairness, cruelty, and pain.

    They don’t care what your past is, they only know NOW…the “Be Here Now”-Eastern philosophy stuff turns out to be true. Take what is valuable from the past, cut away the rest, and keep it moving towards Happy, even if ‘you don’t mean it’. The ACTION is the therapy. It’s not pretentious or deep. I was astonished how simple and clear it became for me.

    I know my Comments are long, but I don’t frequently Comment and have to gather it all up after reading others. I’m also aware of how easy this will be to dismiss and perhaps mock. I’m fine with that.

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    • I actually did volunteer at an animal shelter for a long while, which led to a part time job at the animal shelter, which led to being relentlessly bullied by other staff. I lasted about 6 months, eventually couldn’t take any more and quit. While I was there, I adopted a cat who I loved dearly. Had him for several years. Wound up having to surrender him a month ago after former DBT therapist called cops on me sending me to ER. Cat was left alone and by the time I found someone – my landlord – to bring cat to the vet for boarding, vet said I should surrender him, so I did since I have no backup if something happens to me. I’m broken hearted and exhausted and not sure I can blast anything anymore. People can look at me as self pitying or victimy or any way they choose, as people have always taken a disparaging view toward me I’m very used to it.

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      • Aw, Kate, your cat. I’m so sorry. My heart breaks with you, and tears are rolling down my face as I type this. You keep getting kicked, your supports getting kicked out from under you (damn that therapist!).

        I don’t see you in the ways you describe at the end of your comment, Not At All. I don’t imagine that any of the other regular commenters here that you have connected with see you that way either. I see you as someone who is still trying to be okay, still trying to find some enjoyment in life and reasons to keep wanting to. I see you as part of my tribe. I see you as a potential friend (when I let myself feel social). I see you, Kate. You are not alone.

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      • Kate, I’m so so sorry no one was there for you to help with your cat. Im literally heartbroken to read what happened to you and your kitty. A friend of mine was once in a similar situation where she’d had to leave her cats in her apartment when she went to the hospital precipitously. Her landlord called animal control and they locked up the kitties. But my friend called me and I went to animal control to break them out of kitty jail and care for them while she was away. It grieves me that you did not have that kind of support. I’d like to punch that vet right in the face for telling you to give up your kitty, to be honest. It is so heartbreaking to me when people that can help (like a vet with boarding) instead choose to tell poor people to give up their animals. My cats kept me sane during all the years I was drugged and my dog gives me unconditional love now. I can’t imagine not having her.

        I hope that when you’re ready, you find another kitty companion. You might consider seeing if you can find a rescue that will work with you to agree to foster the kitty if you have to be inpatient. I know when I did rescue and all the rescues I worked with, our policy was to always take back one of our cats we’d adopted out, no questions asked. It seems like you could probably find a rescue that would work with you knowing you may need a hand once in a while. I would have been open to such an arrangement if I’d been asked. So, it’s just a suggestion but you never know what you might be able to arrange with a little negotiation with the right people.

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        • kindredspirit, you’re absolutely correct regarding many shelter policies. It was incorporated in our adoption contract that the animal would be returned to us should anything prevent the owner from providing. I lived in an area with many seniors who, by definition, had challenges occasionally. I directed a foster program for older animals who were often overlooked, pairing them with their human counterparts, with almost 400 clients..we picked up the tab for ongoing health care, but they had a foster home with an adoring, often isolated senior….a win, win, win.

          But…
          I take respectful exception to your somewhat angry comments regarding a vet’s practice providing boarding for an animal without an official arrangement. An emergency intake with no fixed p,u date can disrupt the already scheduled intake system which includes surgeries and accidents of their current client base. There are finite space/cage limitations, questions of liability regarding ongoing health care, and expenses involved. They might not know the animal’s medical history, possibly jeopardizing the other animals in place. The vet’s office is a business (not a dirty word) and just because it’s a medical practice lead by a doctor, does not translate to bushels of cash.

          The shelter I worked for was a destination/solution for hundreds of people a month, wishing to leave an animal with no intake fee (ours was the lowest in a very large county) for hundreds of reasons. Many were heartbreaking. We were emotionally blackmailed on the regular (ex,’ If u don’t take this cat, I’ll kill, drown, shoot it’). Our waiting list was always (for my 7 years there) 3 months long.

          There wasn’t enough cages, volunteers for care, food and medical supplies, or funding/$ to keep the lights on, pay employees, or maintain insurance and rent.

          The times we DID take pets in for health for financial hardship as boarders never ended well; the ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ syndrome with ugly social media posts and zero thanx.

          I’ve been poor and sick with an animal who needs care. It’s gut-wrenching at a time when you’re at your lowest.

          But there are 2 sides and you KNOW, having worked there… people who work in this industry are not indifferent to terrible situations of pet ownership; just the opposite.
          The hard, anguished decisions are every single day. The saying in the business, so you don’t burn out too quickly, is that “You can’t save them all”.
          Unfortunately… I feel sure you know this to be true.
          This is ‘off-topic’ for MH specifically, but there are many threads that wander somewhat…and I expounded on the topic of the benefits of shelter work earlier.

          Perhaps KateL can approach a shelter just to ‘socialize’ the existing population, a little grooming, play, and/or feeding,,no stress, once a week for an hour or so, not taking on too much responsibility and interaction with staff. Small steps. I can’t imagine a shelter turning that valuable contribution away.

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          • Hi Krista,

            I ran rescue out of my home actively for 8 years, I volunteered for a feral spay/neuter clinic for several years, I managed a feral colony and I coordinated with other rescuers. I did it all on a shoestring budget and I am intimately familiar with the hard choices everyone in the veterinary and rescue industry face because I’ve faced them. So your schooling on the subject is unecessary and rather rude.

            I have, in fact, worked with multiple entirely selfless vets that would help any pet owner in a pinch. One of them is one of my all time heroes, and was the medical director of the city shelter, which takes in hundreds of animals a day and was one of the early 100% no-kill city shelters.

            The reasons you give are all very diplomatic but what it really boils down to for vets is a very small amount of income. Almost all vets will take in a sick animal whether or not the owner can pay – ethically, they will take it off your hands and either treat or euthanize. A large number will treat the animal and work with a shelter on adoption, giving the shelter a massive discount on fees (yes, I got a great discount on vet fees for being a shelter). These discounts can handily be extended to those who can’t afford to pay just as easily. Vets make a decent percentage of their money from the food they sell under contract from the prescription vet diet companies. Food that’s actually shown to often be quite harmful for animals. Hill’s is known to contain the 4 Ds (a term you should know if you are so into animals). Just like in any other profession, there are vets doing it for the love of animals and vets doing it for money and prestige – veterinary specialties are as lucrative as human specialties. Same problems exist with “thought leaders” and deals with prescription companies. Notice how quickly vets will prescribe a little chemical helper for your anxious four legged angel.

            So, please. Let’s be real if we’re going to debate anything.

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        • Thank you, Kindred Spirit, for your compassion. One day when I’m doing better, and probably when I’m in more stable housing, I do hope to get another kitty. When I know I can make a commitment and have a backup in place. It’s something to strive for.

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      • This is such a sad story, and really illustrates one of the many unintended consequences of forced “hospitalization.” It is also pretty awful that you are “used to” being looked at in a negative way. I am certain you do not deserve such treatment, yet a “diagnosis” (especially of “Borderline Personality Disorder”) seems to leave one open to any sort of denigrating comments from those claiming to be “helping.” It kind of makes me ill.

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          • Kate, Ditto to what Steve said. The MH system causes people to see themselves as losers. This is so hard to stop. You can’t just change out of loser mode instantly just because someone says so. In fact, telling people to change their thinking sometimes backfires.

            People can, though, change things bit by bit, in realistic-sized chunks. I think the idea of not using clinical language to describe ordinary experiences is likely a start for many people. However, you really have to distinguish between stuff that should be called by clinical language, and that which should not. Total abolition of clinical language just isn’t realistic. If I do not drink enough water I am going to be dehydrated, and that is an unarguable medical fact, not a feeling and not an opinion.

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        • Yes, I’ve seen a staff person in Admissions go out of their way to bother, harass, incite people who come in with the label of “BPD”. The staff person gets this look of disgust and disdain as she does this. The object of her behavior is to set the labeled person off because the staff person gets some kind of pleasure out of this. The rest of the staff put her in her place and eventually she was fired. People with this label get treated horribly before they even get to the unit they’re assigned to.

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    • Krista from where I am now, I find your advice helpful as well as motivating.

      But I don’t think Katel is coming from the same place you and I are at. There was a time reading something like that stirring comment would have made me gloomier than before.

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      • Hey Rachel777, it’s nice to hear from a mature, calm voice. Considering the original essay that was the genesis of this thread, the topic may not be a happy read for many. As I mentioned in a comment, it made me uncomfortable; talking about it in what is an ostensibly ‘safe’ place was good.
        Be well.

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      • Thank you, Rachel. I’m so distraught over my cat right now and yes, probably stewing in my own pain. Marinating in it. Swathed in it, etc. It’s just been a frankly awful couple of years. I know I will need to find a way forward at some point but seem to have lost my compass at the moment. For now, I find MIA to be a safe space where I can find validation for my anger at the system and be reminded that I’m not alone. And also a safe space to vent, something that I learned in DBT treatment was “ineffective”. There may be some truth to that, but at a certain point it amounts to self censorship. In a feminist theory class I took in college, the professor said, “Ask yourself, who does it serve?” Who does it serve that I remain silent about my past? Is it incidental that my silence serves the people in the mental health system who did what they did?
        I really want to get back to working with animals, one way or another. There’s a shelter within walking distance of my apartment that I hesitated to get involved with for a long while because they had so many reviews posted about the animals being kept in very substandard living situations and a lot of people had adopted from the shelter animals who turned out to be very sick with infections etc. In the past year or so, the reviews seem to have gotten better and I thought maybe they had cleaned up their act. It turns out though, that the state is currently trying to shut this shelter down for all sorts of violations. It would be so painful to see animals being treated this way. This shelter and the one that I worked at are the only two that are local to me. I’m not ready to adopt again as I am still grieving the loss of my cat.

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  36. Well, hey there kindredspirit, why you think I was “schooling you” and “rude” for expressing a counterpoint to a remark you made about figuratively (I assume) assaulting someone who chooses not to give help when someone asks… is baffling.
    As you read, I also acknowledged your experience and insight several times on the subject of shelter work and hard choices.

    For you to define what a “very small amount of income” is for the vet in question is impossible unless you’re their bookkeeper. I feel I can say with some certainty that you are not informed If the vet in question had already ‘helped’ 1, 2 or 10 ’emergencies’ that day, week, or month.
    Further, you reference vets intaking a sick animal regardless of payments. Yes, that has been my experience also. I missed that detail in KateL’s narrative. I thought it was because she was out of her home for a time.

    As far as vet’s contracts with vendors, of course, but again, not sure how that is relevant. And let me assure you, I am “so into animals”. But I don’t consider it a contest. You can be ‘more into animals’ than me…no problem.

    One more thing, your “let’s be real” remark indicates you’re upset,…was it my “diplomacy”, your word to describe my earlier Comment…or what exactly?

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  37. kindredspirit, If you don’t find value in my remarks, that’s fine., although I find your descriptor “sanctimonious” applied to my sharing, ironic, regarding some of your own posts.
    My suggestion; avoid mine in the future.
    As I use my full name, it shouldn’t be hard.

    Either way, my wish for you is to be happier. There is no debate. Chill out. Life is short.

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    • Krista, you turned a genuine show of support toward someone in distress over the loss of her cat into an opportunity to slug it out. No I don’t have much respect for that. And I will always be on the side of the underdog in every single discussion.

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      • Commenting as moderator:

        I have not moderated any of the comments between Krista and Kindredspirit, but in both cases, some of the comments are getting pretty personal. I’d ask you both to back off and refocus on the content of the article, or to come up with a more respectful way to discuss the cat issue so I don’t need to intervene. Thanks!

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  38. DBT is so invalidating. It is avoidant in its very nature. It is also silencing. Many of us were harmed and we’re supposed to “cope” with it now? No way! In other words, “We don’t want to hear your shit because we don’t want to take action to stop abuse. Here’s some therapy instead. You’re the sicko. The abuser is irrelevant now, part of the past.”

    DBT is perfect to let rapists and other abusers off the hook. “She was a sicko, right?” She was just imagining it all. Paranoid. Personality-disordered. They walk because of this nonsense.

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  39. In our Indian culture-tradition-social-political setup,the entire burden of your illness and the complications arising out of it is shoved upon the patient.Neither the govt,the society or the medical profession will support or own you.
    Contrary to that,a normal person will have multitude of support system from their political parties,trade onions,govt and society,banking system,housing system,loan and insurance etc.Those social incentives.Essentially the entire govt and private institution in India are providing their services only to life style diseased people and other “normals”.They are actually the most corrupt and the most irresponsible people who are carrying the nation backward to the stone age.Not the psychiatry patients.Because they are already thrown out of all social institutions.They are not wanted anywhere.They are not involved in our nation’s progression or regression.Most of them do not even have voting rights.Because they are not seen as SANE CITIZENS!And the criteria for a sane citizen is one who should be just be able to identify the symbol of a political party!Everything else will be taken care of the politician who suffers from Wernickes encephalopathy,speaking that which has no meaning.
    So,I do not see anything that allows me to take pride in my diagnosis,from an Indian stand point of view.
    The American patient’s view could be different because they have a better psychiatric health care system and accountability.Here, no one is accountable.The psychiatry guys can do anything and can get away with it.
    Indian govt spends less than 0.006% of its GDP for psychiatry;not for psychiatry patients!Because all of the money goes to pay off the salaries to the workers in psychiatry and other establishment and recurring expenditures with nothing left for the patient’s treatment and welfare.They don’t even have the money to print posters to create awareness about psychiatry.Much of the amount gets lapsed because the psychiatrists do not use whatever little amount is given to them from the central or state govt.This only shows their lack of initiative and will power.Or, the money is diverted and the beneficiaries turns out to be the politicians,their loyals and other normal/life style diseased people.

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    • Ramesh,
      Thank you for providing this perspective. It’s scary to learn that as bad as it is in the U.S., it could be that much worse. It makes me wonder if at present there are any cultures in which people showing signs of mental distress or simply acting outside cultural norms are treated humanely. I’ve heard that in the Scandinavian countries, treatment is a little more compassionate.

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  40. Julie, your experiences sound horrifying and yet I’m not surprised. How have they gotten away with so much for so long?
    A plain clothes police man knocked on my apartment door earlier today. I spoke to him and the social worker who accompanied him through the door. They wanted to talk, they said, to make sure I was okay. I told them I was fine and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t know who sent them. My only guess is that this was prompted by a Google review I wrote about the hospital where I was in the CIU a few weeks back. in my review I told the story about how the hospital security department had my car and house keys when I was discharged from there once. They refuse to look for them. I was stranded in the ER oh, my car in the parking lot but I couldn’t get into it. This was a long and horrible saga. Finally three days after my discharge, a friend of mine called and reamed out the security department head. That prompted him to finally look for my keys. They had them in their possession the whole time. So in my review I wrote, people say don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re in mental distress oh, but there are so so many reasons to be afraid to ask for help. I guess that prompted them to me to do a safety check on me so they could cover their butts.

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    • Kate, since that happened to me once for blowing the whistle, I am not surprised. One time I started noticing the minister at the church I was going to seemed be very bigoted and elitist. I wrote a complaint letter to a church higherup, that is, someone over his head. Next thing you know, the cops were coming knocking at my door. Believe it or not, they were accusing me of planning to kill the church minister.

      I was shocked. There’s nothing worse than being called dangerous when you are not. It was like they were afraid of me. They threatened me and demanded that I stop writing.

      I knew at that point I had to leave town, leave and go as far away as possible. I also knew I couldn’t tell anyone. Is another continent far away enough?

      Every day when I write, even as I write this, I am thankful that I got away from a place where I was threatened and told I wasn’t allowed to write. I guess whatever I wrote was powerful indeed. Maybe I should be proud of how scary I was, just by writing stuff.

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      • Julie, that’s crazy (on their part). Sounds like a police state. What happened to freedom of speech. Are people really afraid of us or of their precious world view being shattered? I was just trying to make a point in my review. The point was that staff at this hospital discriminate against certain groups of people. Case in point, the security department had my keys but refused to look for them because I was coming out of a psych ward. 10 years ago, I would have never written a public review like that because I would have been to ashamed to admit that I had been in a psych ward. Now I’m fine admitting it because now I have some better understanding of what happened to me. There was nothing in the review that warranted them sending the police to my door but they did. I’m glad I knew what my rights were and that I didn’t have to open the door for them.

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        • Hi Kate, I read this recent article, even though it has the usual psychiatric spin on things it does validate/acknowledge that a label of BPD means a psychiatrist (or any mental health worker) is going to “manage” a person rather than support them.

          https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(19)30051-3/fulltext

          I am so sorry you had the latest experience of them attempting to “manage” you again. Kudos to you for taking back your power and standing your ground!

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          • Thanks Rosalee. I love reading things like this article, I think because I feel validated. All those times when I thought treatment providers were being dismissive toward me, felt they were blaming me for the problems I came to them with, instead of offering any semblance of support or understanding…I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t being paranoid. They really were being dismissive. It’s nice when someone in the field lays this out…like, yup, that’s the reality.
            I met a couple times with this one therapist who talked to me about a paper he had written with some colleagues. The paper was called Compassion Deficit Disorder. It talked about all of the ways that therapists blame and mistreat patients with a borderline diagnosis. I only wound up seeing the therapist a couple of times because I wound up moving away but he seemed like a cool guy. He mailed me a copy of the paper at my new address. I think I still have it around somewhere.

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        • Kate, Using our words is about the most powerful thing we can do. I started writing most of my Yelp reviews when I was safely out of Massachusetts. I wrote so many that I moved up the Yelp ranks (I’m a premier Yelper or some such thing) because people liked my reviews so much. I have even been contacted by people who read my reviews. I have successfully turned people away from facilities that harmed me. People read what I have written and then are concerned that the same thing will happen to them. I so much feel the need to tell the truth, even if it is the bitter truth. It is my duty to warn other people so they won’t have to go through the same shit I went through.

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    • This is hair raising and frankly not unusual. The level of overt discrimination that you reference is akin to any rascism, sexism, ageism that is so deeply present in this culture. To be on the recieving end, and have the outcome response be a fear to ask for help when it is needed, is nothing less than an atrocity of the highest order.

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  41. oldhead and rachel777———————-

    I don’t think the awful things in psychiatry
    will be taken down by changing names..
    I think we need to be supporting what is TRUE…
    I have a mental illness…I have no idea what
    caused it and the treatment didn’t wash it away..

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    • It’s not a name change, it’s a total destruction of psychiatry as a specialty of medicine. What is true is that the system, and its supposed “treatment” is harming people to the point of killing us. I wonder why it is that you embrace the idea so strongly that you are ill? What is so disturbing to you for you to think of yourself as a person who just has issues, which were caused probably by a multitude of things that you experienced?

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      • Psychiatry’s basis is a judge mental book of behavior groupings – none of which are particular to any specific “mental illness” label but are specific to the individual in distress.

        The labels tell us absolutely nothing about the origins of a person’s distress. The people who these labels are applied to have very little in common and the interrater reliability of the labeling process is so fundamentally broken that no common theme can be made about anyone except perhaps that people labeled with the so-called personality disorders are almost universally severely traumatized – first by the original abuse, then by abuse from the medical system.

        The labels are fundamentally flawed and psychiatry as a discipline is as invalid as the practice of blood letting or insulin therapy. (FFS autocorrect…)

        The only reasonable path forward is for other medical specialities to take back their responsibility to proper diagnosis and treatment of the physical illnesses that fall within their disciplines, and for those in distress which is not directly medically treatable to have proper supports in the community that aren’t state controlled and funded.

        There is ample room for change within a humanistic framework but the first step will have to be a recognition of the vast amount of harm that psychiatry is doing by dulling the normal and expected reactions of the populace toward more and more harm. Medicating away any hint of distress means we choose to pacify ourselves rather than to act upon the normal and expected danger signals this bankrupt culture is inducing in more and more of us.

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          • and leaches excrete a very powerful anticoagulant that makes them incredibly helpful in re-establishing blood flow to a re-attached finger or other situations where blood flow has been compromised and needs a boost, frostbite and such. I have read of this, but have no personal experience…

            However… I saved my wife from certain leg amputation by treating the MRSA lesions on her shin with medical maggots. We got them shipped direct from the lab where they were grown, with a Dr’s prescription. They excrete digestive enzymes that not only break down the dead tissue, but are also amazing antibiotics- delivered directly into the wound! She also had a prescription antibiotic, but it was not effective. We know this because there were a couple times when she had to go a day or two without “the critters” (sometimes they run out at the lab and need to grow more larvae) and each time, the wound got red, inflamed, hot, painful, and within an hour of getting the new batch of critters in the wound, those symptoms would resolve again.

            People are too quick to dismiss the old ways of healing.

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          • Bloodletting is still practiced. Kidney dialysis is bloodletting. They gradually remove your blood, send it through a filter, then, put it back in, supposedly clear of the toxins your kidneys can’t get rid of. I keep thinking a transfusion might work just as well. I imagine very wealthy people opt for this, paying out of pocket. People with kidney disease typically are anemic and often the red blood cells swell in attempt to get oxygen.

            Dialysis is big business, a huge profit-maker for the dialysis companies. I believe it can be safely avoided by taking simple (not expensive) dietary measures. Kidneys normally are very good at eliminating toxic waste (by-products). When your kidneys don’t work well, toxins accumulate in the body. It is not that hard to follow a healthy diet, except it’s inconvenient sometimes to find something edible at a restaurant. Avoiding certain foods, you can be assured that the toxins (some from food, some created by food synthesis) don’t accumulate to begin with. These toxins include sodium, phosporus, calcium, and protein, and for many, also potassium, unless you took lithium, because many lithium survivors lose potassium and have to replenish it. Some people have to reduce fluids, but if you took lithium, chances are this restriction is also not applicable. There are herbs you can take that help, also, and a few vitamins. While creatinine is a by-product of exercise, in my the benefits of cardio-type exercise outweigh the risks. The increase in creatinine following exercise is temporary.

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        • If what medications actually did was actually pacify those who took them, it would be one thing and bad enough. But if in fact, they are causing or at least perpetuating the symptoms that they are marketed to treat, that is a disservice at an entirely different level.

          I am not at all certain that that is not exactly what these medications are doing, all the while leaving the illusion that pacifying the medicated was the primary desired, intended and achieved function.

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  42. Sometimes I lie awake remembering things people did, things they got away with, and it makes my blood boil. Many years ago, about 5 apartments ago, one of the therapists had called for a safety check on me. There were 4 cops and 2 EMTs in my apartment. One of the cops was looking through a pile of mail I’d left on the table; my guess is his reason for doing this was to show me that he could do it – just invade my privacy like that. He said to the other officers, “things can’t be that bad, living on Everit Street.”

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    • The exact same thing happened to me with the exception that they were determined to take me to the ER. This one cop got on top of me, pulled my arms back, and tightly handcuffed me. He kept his knee in my back and wouldn’t get up and finally the EMT’s told him to let up and get off me so that they could do their work. While they took me downstairs to the ambulance he stayed in my apartment going through things. He eventually came down to the ambulance before they drove me off and harassed me by telling me how he’d gone through all my private things. It was at that point that I began to wonder who truly had the issues that needed huge amounts of “medication”. The guy was totally unstable and had pulled his gun on me when they all first came in. I’d kind of blocked all that out until just now when I read your response here. All of the police were dismissive and disrespectful and all I can say is thank goodness for the EMT’s. They were actually concerned about saving my life after my suicide attempt. They were also glad to get away from the police.

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      • Wow, Stephen, that’s awful. I’m sorry my comment brought that up for you. I’m glad the EMTs were doing their job and acted with decency. I spend so much time on these memories, like I can’t get my brain off them. I’m going to a new volunteer job in a little bit. maybe it will help shift my focus.

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        • Hey, no problem. I don’t really have problems with being triggered by these kinds of things. It was just amazing to me that I’d blocked this experience out so well that I’d not thought about it in ten years. I am grateful to you for stirring my memory here. That cop was one sick dude and it’s frightening that he was allowed to carry a gun and have control over people. I now wonder if he’s still on the force in that city.

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  43. Yeah, I have some memories like that one that have been popping up lately. I wonder too, about some of the people I encountered. Some were kind, a lot weren’t. I keep telling myself when the memories pop up, “that never needs to happen again. I’m in control,.,.” I think I’ll make it.

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