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

Fred Moss, MD
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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.

286 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.

  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.

  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).

    • 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.

        • Or the cake is what they got from the food bank. One time I went to a food bank around Easter and they had no actual food but they were happy to send me home with a large bag of Easter candy.

          We act as if everyone has the same resources, knowledge, opportunities, time, innate abilities, physical health, etc to “take responsibility for themselves”.

          Some people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Some people don’t have boots. It’s not a hard concept to grasp.

      • 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.

    • “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”

      • 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.

  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!

  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.

  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.

  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!

  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.

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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.”

  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. 😛

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

  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.

  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.”

    • 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.

  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.

  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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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)

        • 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.*

      • 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.

    • 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.”

    • 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/

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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…

  22. 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…

    • 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.”

  23. 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

    • 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.

  24. 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

    • 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.

      • 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

  25. 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.

  26. 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

    • 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.

  27. 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.

    • 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 ♥

  28. 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

  29. 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

    • 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”.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

    • 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….”

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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!

  33. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.

          • 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.

        • 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.

          • Horrifying, but not entirely shocking to me. People who like power and control like to find jobs where they “care” for vulnerable people so they can get their jollies.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  34. 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?

  35. 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.

      • 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!

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

    • 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.

  38. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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!

          • 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.

        • 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.

  39. 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..

    • 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?

      • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

  40. 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.”

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

  41. 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.