As a father whose 27-year-old son has been unwillingly trapped in the mental health system, I am painfully aware that I have betrayed him because I have not been able to protect him from harm nor been able to set him free. At age 19, he naively told his mother and his doctor that he was hearing voices, which then marked the beginning of a nine year hellish nightmare that he is still unavoidably immersed in. I would like to explain my perspective on why this is the case.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 450 million people worldwide suffer from debilitating mental illnesses and the numbers are on the rise exponentially. The National Institute of Mental Health states that nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness (44.7 million in 2016). It affects tens of millions each year. In Canada, by age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
Yet, do these so-called diseases actually exist?
Perhaps a more accurate claim is that millions of people diagnosed do not actually have disorders. Rather, they are in disorder. They are in disarray due to inhumane treatment resulting in dis-ease. I label the debilitating condition PBBP (People Betrayed By Psychiatry).
Psychiatrists own the power and have the authority to reel in patients, diagnose them and prescribe psychiatric drugs. Yet, is psychiatric intervention, are diagnosis and medication a benefit to patients? Is it what patients want and ask for?
When people feel melancholic or are in despair, they usually see a doctor. They may have no idea why they feel the way they do and they are extremely vulnerable. Doctors will prescribe antidepressants or if the condition is severe, patients will be referred to a psychiatrist who will make an official diagnosis of depression or some other so-called mental illness. The disease can be verified by checking the definition and symptoms in the psychiatrist’s bible (the DSM).
I contend that people need to be much more careful in seeking help because they have no idea what they are getting into when they are placed in the care of a psychiatrist. They naively expect to be helped in the best possible way which never does happen.
As doctors, psychiatrists betray the Hippocratic oath which they swear to honour because the treatment they utilize causes harm. People who hallucinate and get caught up in the clutches of psychiatry are immediately and forcibly treated with neuroleptics that can cause brain atrophy, premature death, and have other harmful side effects which then require other medications to be taken in order to deal with the many side effects. Also, these drugs are extremely difficult to taper off of. Most patients will be forced to take meds for life and because of their diagnosis they will experience feelings of shame and humiliation.
Why are psychiatrists perceived as all-knowing in regard to patients’ suffering?
We live in a culture that looks to experts for answers. We neglect our own abilities for critical thinking and we don’t trust our own experience. As young children we grow up believing that our parents know everything. As adults, we transfer this belief onto other experts. Transference is the psychological term for this process. It occurs when we transfer our unwavering belief in our parents’ omniscience onto other authority figures (such as omniscient psychiatrists).
However, the philosopher Wittgenstein said that there is no such thing as certainty. It is merely a tone of voice. There is no one to look up to. It is a mistake to put our trust in “experts.”
Why is a psychiatrist the best person to “help” patients who are in despair or who are disturbing to others? Why is it assumed that someone’s problems require medical intervention and that the problems originate from within the person?
Human existence encompasses various states of consciousness. We hallucinate every night when we sleep. We live in a social world and we are affected by our thoughts and emotions, past traumas, our families, and relationships with co-workers and others.
As human beings living our lives do we not struggle constantly with existential problems?
Could the environments we inhabit (or have been in) be causing our problems?
Much suffering in life is caused by a lack of personal power and being treated badly. Ethics and politics are generally ignored when we describe psychological suffering. Western medicine teaches us that the problem is within us, not between us. Yet when someone has power over us, we can easily be exploited and oppressed. This is absolutely the case in the psychiatrist/patient relationship.
Does it make sense to conclude that something is true because psychiatrists were taught in medical school to believe that a multitude of “abnormal” behaviours are indicative of mental illness and that the cause of these illnesses originates in the brain?
Is it not reductionistic to jump from the appearance of “symptoms” (the strange manner in which one acts in social settings) to the assumption of proof of a faulty working brain? Theories of chemical imbalances and brain disease have absolutely no scientific validity yet they still are the prominent theories provided by psychiatrists for explaining so-called depression and psychosis. A psychiatrist makes a diagnosis in a matter of minutes based on a patient’s behaviours and responses to probing questions. When a patient is being interrogated by a psychiatrist and his or her behaviour is being observed, isn’t it normal for one to get upset, to feel self-conscious, threatened or intimidated?
Existential despair, unhappiness, sadness, alienation, anxiety and powerlessness have mistakingly fallen into the category of illness and medicine. Psychiatrists have aligned themselves with pharmaceutical companies who ingeniously invented and marketed psychiatric drugs to treat diseases such as depression prior to the existence of the disease. It gave psychiatrists additional legitimacy and power since they are the only helping professionals who can legally write prescriptions.
Psychiatrists worldwide have also been supported by governments who created archaic mental health laws that ignore peoples’ basic freedoms and human rights. Due to this immense power that has been handed to psychiatrists over the years, they have gained disproportional status and have profited immensely. No wonder they do not want to give it up.
Psychiatry ignores research which refutes their own theories of mental illness and they refuse to acknowledge or legitimize alternative points of view. They even go as far as to ridicule opposing perspectives and prevent such voices from being heard. Psychiatrists are like kings — all-powerful rulers. They are used as expert witnesses in court cases and they have a monopoly in the care of patients who end up seeking help for despair.
As a result of the power of psychiatry and medicalization of despair, patients worldwide are constantly being bamboozled into believing that they are sick (lacking in mental health). And for the more sensitive souls who appear in public looking confused, agitated, angry, awkward, strange, or too quiet, god help them! If one walks into a hospital describing auditory hallucinations, he or she will not be allowed out. Within 15 minutes these poor souls will likely be labelled schizophrenic or something similar and be certified.
The psychiatrist may then determine that these patients need to be hospitalized for their own good in order to protect them from harm or to protect others. In a matter of minutes, people can be instantly stripped of their freedom, dignity and humanity and be branded a mental patient for life.
I believe that people would benefit much more by seeking the company of a good therapist rather than a psychiatrist or psychologist. A loving therapist keeps company with the patient. The relationship that develops between them is paramount. He or she is not in a hurry. As Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing once said, “the treatment is how we attend to and treat one another.” A good therapist takes patients seriously and sees them as unique. Patients have to teach the therapist about their lives and who they are. They are not objectified members of a particular group who all display the same symptoms and have the same mental illness.
Therapists can only get to know their patients over time and by developing safety and trust within the therapeutic relationship. They are present with their patients and they listen. Therapists do no harm, unlike psychiatrists, who immediately prescribe psychiatric drugs which alter patients’ nervous symptoms and sedate them in an attempt to diminish undesirable symptoms.
Unlike taking a pill, having a relationship with another is not efficient.
When we examine the outcomes of psychiatrists’ treatment of patients who display behaviours that are labelled psychotic, compared to alternative treatment methods, the results are very interesting. Psychiatrists believe that there is no cure for schizophrenia and that psychiatric drugs are necessary to prevent the disease from becoming worse. In contrast, there are several studies in which patients received either different types of treatments (including a tapering of meds) or no treatment at all, and either they made improvements over time or made a full recovery after a shortened period of illness.
As a psychiatric resident in 1969, Dr. Daniel Dorman (author of Dante’s Cure) came from a background in neurophysiology (brain research). From those years of studies he realized that brain research and the medical model were totally inadequate in attempting to explain the meaning behind a patient’s symptoms. He knew that one could only understand the “why” behind the so-called symptoms by discovering the person’s life story. And so began a more than 7 year adventure with Catherine Penney, a 19-year-old woman diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia (with a very poor prognosis which was confirmed by all the other psychiatrists on the ward). She had been hospitalized two times previously and was receiving psychotropic drugs to relieve her agony of hearing destructive voices, but to no avail.
Dorman took her off meds and met with her in his office for 60 minutes, six days a week. In the beginning she would rock back and forth with her eyes closed in silence. Not much changed in the first year. It was only during the third year of being together that Catherine felt safe and developed enough trust to start talking about her experience. After three and a half years she was discharged from the hospital and moved into her own apartment. She continued seeing Dr. Dorman for seven years, made a full recovery, returned to school and became a registered nurse. Dr. Dorman said afterwards that Catherine taught him how to become a therapist.
Similar positive results have occurred in other settings in which the only treatment utilized was to keep company, listen and talk. Guy Thompson (an American psychoanalyst) described his time working with Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing in England during the 1970’s. He described a residential setting (Portland Road, which was one of several houses Laing set up over a period of about ten years) in which therapists lived together with patients who had recently been in a mental hospital and were diagnosed with some variety of schizophrenia.They no longer took psychiatric medications when they came to live at Portland Road. They wanted to be free of medication. In the beginning some patients were exhibiting behaviours such as delusions or hallucinations, but within two weeks of living there with 14 other residents, the delusions disappeared completely and different persons emerged. They were very direct in their responses, communicable and authentic. They experienced a sense of community which was very beneficial for them.
Over a period of 10 years there were about 500 people who had lived in these houses. All the residents were tracked after they left and 90% of them never set foot in a mental hospital again.
In Sri Lanka, medical anthropologist Nancy Wexler conducted a five-year follow-up study of first admission patients with schizophrenia receiving traditional treatment vs. western psychiatric treatment. The results indicated that outcomes were very good for the patients who received traditional treatments and not good for those who received westernized treatment. The researchers attributed “good prognosis to cultural factors such as the traditional system of beliefs, structure of the belief system and family norms.” This study was consistent with other World Health Organization studies that showed patients in non-industrialized countries fared better than patients in industrialized countries.
In other words, culturally based self-fulfilling prophecies seemed to make the difference. Psychiatrists believe that schizophrenia is an incurable brain disease, whereas healers in Sri Lanka and other non-industrial countries have beliefs and practices that encourage short-term illness and people are expected to return to their normal lives quickly.
Other studies in countries such as Finland and Sweden have demonstrated that patients who taper off psychiatric drugs have much better long-term outcomes than patients who remain on neuroleptics. Although these studies clearly demonstrate that psychiatrists (who treat patients according to the medical model) are barking up the wrong tree, the sad reality is that not much has changed over the last 100 years. Much of what has been presented in recent years that challenges psychiatric practices has fallen on deaf ears and has failed to make an impact on society’s attitudes towards mental illness. There is still a strong push by governments and health authorities to promote “mental health.” Many published articles which have questioned the validity of “mental illness” as opposed to trauma-based suffering, studies which have challenged the so-called scientific evidence of brain disease causing “mental illness,” and articles which have detailed the harm caused by psychiatric medications, have not made much of an impact on how patients are treated.
After nine years of alienation and oppression, my son is still a certified patient in Vancouver, Canada. The high doses of various medications he has been forced to take over the years have done absolutely nothing to improve his overall well-being, his thoughts, emotions and experiences.
However, they have caused him to be strongly sedated, to sleep 15 hours a day, to gain 75 pounds, to put his heart and liver at risk, to make him feel demoralized, to believe that something is wrong with him, to feel a sense of hopelessness and shame, and perhaps to feel captured and tortured for life. If he doesn’t show up for a scheduled meeting with the psychiatrist and he cannot be reached, they will call the police to have him picked up. In 2015 when I took him out of the country for a few months, when we returned he was arrested at the airport and hospitalized.
What can I do in protest other than attempt to make my voice heard and demand more humane treatment for my son and for so many others like him?
Why can’t they just let him be? He is no danger to himself or to anyone else.
I have become somewhat cynical and skeptical, partly due to my experiences talking with various psychiatrists over the years regarding my son’s dis-ease. Yet, in spite of my son’s treatment, I do want to acknowledge that there are psychiatrists and psychologists around the world who are not so closed-minded and who are doing work that is beneficial. R.D. Laing, a true psychiatrist, said decades ago that “in our culture we suffer from psychophobia (a fear of our own minds) and that there is no book that is more explicit about this than the DSM 3.” This indicates to me that those professionals who follow the DSM’s guidelines for defining normal behaviour have a very narrow view of what “normality” entails. My hope is that there are more people out there in the world (including psychiatrists and psychologists) who have open minds, and that this open-mindedness will eventually spread far and wide.
So, like the ancient Greek philosophers and healers who were the skeptics, I also ask questions for all psychiatrists to answer:
Are you sure that what you do for patients causes them no harm?
Is it possible that you are mistaken about your beliefs regarding mental illness?
Will you allow your eyes, ears and hearts to open more before it is too late?
On behalf of all patients around the world who are suffering due to current psychiatric treatment, I encourage you to do so. My son and countless others are depending on it.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
The remedy for the Psychiatric System is not Psychotherapy or Recovery. It is political activism. This is where survivors need to get to.
Thanks for your comment.
My article was not intended to offer a remedy for the psychiatric system.
I was trying to describe how easy it is for one to be misinformed and to inadvertently get caught up in a tangled web.
I agree with you that remedy is political activism. Unfortunately, in providing “help” psychiatry most often uses its power to coerce and exploit the most vunerable and powerless people. However, I do believe that many people who have been treated badly and have experienced trauma can benefit from healing in some way in order to start fresh and become whole again. Whether that is done by oneself or with a friend, or with a one in a million good therapist, it can possibly be helpful.
BC, eh? Maybe you’d better get him to see Frances Fuller, ND (yes, that’s the letter N, not an M). She was Abram Hoffer’s secretary for 30 years, getting a doctorate in naturopathy while she worked for him. He said she had better rapport with his patients than he did, and referred his patients to her when he retired. Her office might still be in Victoria.
Alan, I am very sorry about what psychiatry has done to your son. I feel compassion for you both, but I also want to express the hope that there is life after survival. I sincerely hope that your son can extricate himself from the shackles, and shed the false labels of psychiatry. It may be difficult, but it can be done.
You mentioned Laing several times. While I sympathize with your perspective, and while I understand why Laing’s influence is important to you, I would recommend that readers of this post consider Thomas Szasz’s critique of Laing, as well as Thomas Szasz’s critique of the concept of so-called “schizophrenia” in his book “Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry.” https://www.amazon.com/Schizophrenia-Sacred-Psychiatry-Thomas-Szasz/dp/0815602243
The truth is that there is no such thing as “mental illness,” and “schizophrenia” in particular is a terrible hoax. Psychiatry, as I’m sure that you are now aware, is a pseudo-scientific system of slavery that masquerades as a medical profession. Psychiatry, from its inception, is rotten to the core, and it thrives on the suffering of the innocent. The purpose of psychiatry is to cause the very harm that it purports to remedy. All this psychiatry accomplishes under the guise of “treatment” and “care.”
For these and other reasons many who frequent the Mad in America website advocate for the abolition of psychiatry, and they do so with truth and justice on their side.
Without Hillman’s phenomenology, Szaszz critique means nothing. Szasz did not write about the nature of psyche. Szasz was a nihilist and Laing was a transcendentalist. Hillman created the proper image of the psychological reality and he is the only one who did it.
Slaying the Dragon,
I fully support your contentions.
Coming off strong psychiatric drugs “triggers” a condition of “High Anxiety”, and its how a person can accommodate this, that determines the result (I nearly died in the process).
[In reference to my comment above – I initially attempted to come off strong psychiatric drugs abruptly (with permission); and this resulted in disaster. I then carefully tapered (with help) -and this was successful.]
[I also managed to figure out the dynamic of my “High Anxiety” and to adapt around this].
Thanks for your comment.
Laing also didn’t believe in the notion of mental illness or schizophrenia.
Not sure why Szasz was critical of him.
He did believe that people suffered though because of being hurt, betrayed or badly treated by others, and he believed that there was a general lack of love in the world.
The explanation is in Szasz’s book “Anti-psychiatry: Quackery Squared.”
Szasz’s distaste for Laing need not be your’s, Dragon Slayer.
Even though I disagree with Szasz about many things, including religion and politics, I share his interpretation of the myth of “mental illness” and his well-founded distaste for Laing’s antics.
Szasz has used the treatment Clancy Segal received at the hands of Laing & Co. as part of his argument. Clancy Segal, however, had seemed to reconcile with Laing, at least, in Laing’s case, posthumously. All three are deceased now. Laing, as you might know, successfully fought publication of Segal’s Zone of the Interior (1976) in the UK for a time. Zone of the Interior I think well worth the read in that it gives a pretty accurate, I would imagine, insider account of what was going on at Villa 21 and Kingsley Hall. There’s a final meeting between Laing and Segal at one point, after the incident that Szasz recounts, before they go their separate ways. Had Laing been a more conventional shrink, he might have had Segal “sectioned” in today’s parlance, but, no, he let him walk away, relatively anyway, unscathed.
“Schizophrenia” these days is practically, or literally, if you prefer, “bad outcome” by definition. I wouldn’t suppose you could effectively “cure” a “bad outcome* without believing in a “good outcome”. The necessity of “bad outcomes”, to my way of thinking, is like the necessity of “wagon trains”, that is, they are only necessary to psychiatrists and other “mental health” workers. “Bad outcomes” are not so necessary for the rest of us.
Thomas Szasz had very strong and negative feelings about R. D. Laing and his methods. I myself have more negative feelings about the methods of the likes of E. Fuller Torrey, Jeffrey Lieberman, Joseph Biederman, Thomas Insell, and Allen Frances. I think, in contrast, as a founding member of the Philadelphia Project, and as a mentor of Loren Mosher with his Soteria Project, Laing had a few salvageable qualities. When it comes to involuntary institutionalization, I’d much preferred to have dwelt in an unstructured residence of the sort Laing was offering instead.
I do though think things have been getting worse over the years, with even the more maverick professionals coming to resemble their bio-psychiatric would-be adversaries. Psychiatry itself is practically medicalization by definition. De-medicalization requires cognizance of the fact. Cognizance, and then action to decrease the numbers of people detained under false premises by “mental health” authorities, as well as the numbers of people they’ve, through brainwashing, converted to the “mental illness” religion.
I know “mental patients” now in training to be “licensed social workers”. I would consider myself a failure were I employed as a “social worker”, or as any other sort of “mental health” worker. I guess you could say there are limits to my sense of pathos. Treatment is a business, completely at home with that other big player on the block and in the market, big pHarma. Alternative therapists and critical psychiatrists are part of the same business, with the same result. Patient numbers grow. It’s much easier to hire ex-patient professionals when you’ve got so many “patients” you don’t know what to do. I suggest that it would be easier to decrease the patient load if these professionals, and ex-patients, were doing something else altogether.
I was certainly in total agreement with this article for quite some time, when we got to the “therapy” part I started flinching.
There is therapy for the rich, and therapy for the rest of us. Ninety percent of so-called therapists will immediately send a voice-hearer to a psychiatrist. Most therapists will tell a voice-hearer that he or she has an “illness” or a “defective brain.”
The best therapists will cost you money. If you’ve been put out of work by the System, you aren’t going to be able to afford a decent therapist. Those of us who were on dis-ability payments couldn’t afford even the lowest fees. Not only that, searching for a decent one is hit or miss.
I believe the “Hearing Voices Network” is operational in Canada and I wonder where it fits in here?
If people are open about the “phenomenon” then how can it be a “crime”.
Thanks for your comment.
I totally agree with you.
A good therapist is very costly and likely there are only a handful of good ones to be found throughout the world. It is a big mistake to believe that by going to university to get the credentials to become a psychotherapist that it will teach you how to become one. You would first have to forget almost everything they teach you!
A good friend or loving stranger or any safe connection one can find that doesn’t cost money can be just as good as any good therapist.
“At age 19, he naively told his mother and his doctor that he was hearing voices”
There are many beds in psychiatric hospitals, sometimes doctors even offer a chronic psychiatric diagnosis. This does not mean that you can simply refuse it, but you have to go to another hospital and get a medical certificate, which indicates a different diagnosis. It can happen with a head injury for example.
dmshanin83, I wish that was true. However, what happens is that they lock you in there and will not let you leave to get a second opinion.
So sorry Alan!
Would it be possible to take your son out of Canada permanently? I escaped the System by relocating. Not hard to do in the States.
But once one is heavily drugged you need help from the druggets to legally reduce the drugs.
Yes, I would recommend the same thing. Take him out of the country. Not to the USA, either. I am not sure in Canada if relocating to a different province will work.
After you move, do not ever use medical terms to describe emotional experiences. Don’t get drunk if it causes you to act crazy, and if you ever act crazy, do it alone.
You are helping your son and lots of other people with the publication of this Article.
In my own experience once a person takes “medications” for a period of time, they become “schizophrenic” – (beyond this, I don’t believe there’s any such thing).
Alan, Thank you for sharing this painful story. I am so sorry to read of your son’s predicament. It is so difficult for a loved one, especially a parent, not to be able to protect or free a child from this ordeal.
“My hope is that there are more people out there in the world (including psychiatrists and psychologists) who have open minds, and that this open-mindedness will eventually spread far and wide”.
Yes this is my hope too. The average person has no clue what goes in psychiatry until they or a loved unwittingly gets tangled up with it (myself included) Every voice, every story helps the chorus grow louder. I am grateful there are some open-minded psychiatrists and psychologists out there (and some truly incredible ones that blog on this site) to help with the mission and spread the word of the deception and grave harm being done by psychiatry with their bogus labels, drugs, ECT and forced confinement.
Rachel mentioned relocating outside of Canada, however re-locating to a different province inside of Canada might also work (as each province has its own health record system and are not integrated or national as of yet). You likely contacted the Mental Health Advocate in BC? I don’t know they would be of much help but might be worth a try if you haven’t. Truly hoping for the best for you and your son.
Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments Rosalee !
We live in Newfoundland and are going through a similar situation. Awful.Untreated and reoccurring trauma within the mental health system. Have a look at Todd Leaders book Its not about us (ways to change the mental health care in Canada). Although it is medical model he suggests ways to speak with those in hospitals, etc. Aferall they work for you and your son. They work to provide him with the best care and that may mean changing the way they try and help to be more responsive to him not the psychopharmaceutical complex. Please join the parent discussion group at Mad in America.
After twenty years of both multiple therapists and psychiatrists I do not believe in either. Therapists can absolutely do harm (not all) and their harm isn’t just referral to a psychiatrist for drugs. My diagnoses can all be explained better by a lack of a support network, the kind that can be active in my life. A therapist lets be get all my talking out of my system and then shoves me out of the door after 50 minutes, even if the talk has left me rattled, and always without establishing a network of people that can actually do the active things that friends do together. No therapists show up when my car breaks down, at a funeral when a parent died, when I need someone to come over and take me out of the house for lunch so I’m not so isolated. Not only that but no therapist in twenty years ever caught on to the fact that my support network was so non-existant. That after moving so often and being an only child of dead parents I was alone all the time. Instead we worked through my childhood and techniques like DBT teaches. Or did the unscientific silliness that is EMDR. Until I met my husband and made friends of his friends and had his family be my family I had no idea what was wrong. I couldn’t say I was lonely and afraid because I didn’t know it myself. I felt safe to tell my therapist anything, but self reporting can’t work when you don’t know what to report. And even then, therapists are still a pathologizing authority figure that instill a feeling of dependency in too many of us. They still treat us as unwell individuals in a normal world instead of normal individuals in an unwell world. I didn’t need an hour a month of talk, I needed friends. I needed family. I needed financial stability. I needed community. I needed to be a loved person with a normal life. Therapists can’t provide the active loving situation that those other things do. Friends, family, financial stability, community are the loving environment where people actually heal. I could have talked for another twenty years to someone who listens for money and it never would have helped me. My friends are people who I can give back to. That makes me feel good. I can only give a therapist money. It’s a terrible model for a healing relationship.
Thanks for your comments. I don’t think I wrote my article very clearly. I am not suggesting that a good therapist is the best choice for people in general or the best person to talk with and be with in order to heal.
I was trying to contrast what a good psychotherapist does ( if you can find one ) compared to what most psychiatrists and psychologists do in their work. Most people who can afford therapists seek them out precisely because nobody in their lives has ever listened to them or taken them seriously. If you have loving family members or a good friend you may not need or want to see a therapist. Judith Herman ( Trauma and Recovery ) writes that for people who have survived trauma, re establishing safety in one’s life is primary. Once safety has been established one can remember, mourn and grieve , and then eventually begin to re establish a sense of community. There is no recipe for this process and I didn’t mean to suggest that one can only benefit by seeing a therapist. Whatever works for people I applaud.
However, I do disagree with you about paying a therapist. I don’t think that money is the issue. I would have no problem paying someone I truly want to be with because he or she would not diagnose me or try to work through my childhood or do EMDR. A good therapist would attend to me and keep company with me to help relieve some of my loneliness and alienation. They would create a safe space for me so I would eventually be able to teach them about me. My hunch is that the therapists / psychiatrists you were paying were not qualified and were not people who you connected with and felt safe with. I do think that probably 98% of psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists do more harm than good. It means that you would need to search far and wide to find a good therapist if you need one and are able to do that.
No easy answers out there, but one thing is for sure: the current support system sucks big time and most professionals are still in the dark when it comes to helping others.
And lastly, a good therapist would first realize that in order to become one, he or she would have to forget everything that they were taught in school about counselling, psychology, or psychiatry!
Pretty bad current state of affairs I must say.
A therapist/counselor is like a spouse. An abusive one is far worse than none at all.
I quit seeing one when I realized the sessions were pointless. I kept talking about my problems in a loop like a hamster’s wheel. It did not help they were all in the pay of the “Mental Illness” System and basically just parroted stuff like “A disease like any other” and “be sure to take your meds.” In essence remind me I was hopelessly diseased at my innermost core and I should give up all hopes for my future. More depressing than a therapy session with my cat. 😛
Many do benefit. I did at one time–but the good stopped after I was diagnosed SMI. The label made them write me off as hopeless.
In my earlier days, before I wised up, I thought that I would benefit from the help of a therapist after my little stay in the wonderful “hospital” where I now work. So, I went down to the community “mental health” clinic that I’d been assigned to after discharge and asked to see a therapist that I could talk with. They looked at me like I had a third eye or a horn growing out of the middle of my forehead. Then they told me that they’d get in touch with me by phone and to leave. Well….four weeks later I went back because, of course, I’d never received a phone call from them. They told me to sit and wait in the waiting room. Half an hour later someone came out from the office area, looked at me and then went back inside. Eventually someone told me to leave and they’d get in touch with me by phone. I laughed and told them that I was onto them and I knew that they were giving me the runaround. The person at the desk promptly replied that it wasn’t their problem.
Eventually I talked to the CEO of the “hospital” and he gave me a phone number to call. It was the number of the woman who supervised all the community mental health clinics for the entire state. I got her voicemail and left a message. Thirty minutes later I received the promised phone call that I’d been told to expect weeks before. They triaged me over the phone and told me to come in and speak with their financial director. I did so and she arranged for a scholarship for me since I had no money at the time. When I was leaving she whispered to me to not let them keep me from getting what I needed and wanted. She said that they would do everything within their power to keep me from receiving any services. She was right so I called that very special phone number again and miracle of miracles I received a phone call back from the center telling me that they had a therapist for me.
I went for two weeks to the so-called “therapist” and realized that I knew more about how to help people than that woman ever would in her entire adult life. I went through all of that just to find out that I was a better therapist than the woman that they saddled me with!
We can and should outlaw forced treatment, the neurotoxins, electro and insulin shock, and lobotomy.
But this will never happen so long as most of the population believes that ~mental illness~ is real.
Psychotherapy, done by psychiatrists or psychotherapists, is what gets most people hooked, most middle-class people. Otherwise it is just being used to regulate the poor.
We cannot really make it illegal for people to talk to each other. But we can prohibit our government from licensing these con artists. That would, in my opinion, neutralize most of the threat.
I discuss my personal feelings with people in (anonymous) 12 Step Fellowship. They can’t do anything with my Information as the setting is within an “Anonymous” Fellowship.
What I share is more or less what everyone else within fellowship shares – the content is suitable for “Fellowship” but not very suitable outside.
Sounds good to me.
Removed for Moderation.
Thanks for your comments. I think the problem is very complicated. Yes, forced treatment should be outlawed, but I don’t agree with you that psychotherapy is what gets people hooked and that most helping professionals are con artists. I believe that the majority of helping professionals have good intentions. Unfortunately, they just don’t realize that what they are doing causes more harm than good. I think the teaching, training , schooling is the biggest part of the problem of why the helping profession is in such a mess. Just like most young new parents don’t intend to mess up their kids. They just have no clue about good parenting.
Our whole system needs changing for sure and that mostly means teaching people that there is no such thing as mental illness and taking away power from psychiatrists !
A helping professional in many cases is coming from a background of conformity and compliance. The helping professional believes that you don’t have to fight back and publicly reclaim your social and civil standing. They believe that you just learn to use more sophisticated systems of denial. They are secondary abusers.
They don’t represent their clients, they represent their professions and the established order which is where they get their licenses.
If you are teaching someone that they should comply with what is clearly injustice, then you are collaborating with the abusers.
Thank you for sharing your son’s and your story, Alan. I’m sorry the satanic psychiatric system has him in its clutches, and I know from personal experience that the psychiatrists will break laws to attempt to keep people within their disempowering system. I agree with others here, moving out of province may help.
I also found it helpful to find an ethical, high self esteem, non-psychiatric doctor. I went to the head of family medicine at a nationally well respected hospital. And if you rationally explain to him or her that the neuroleptics can create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” The negative symptoms can be created via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome. And the positive symptoms, like “psychosis,” can be created via antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome.
If the doctor has ethics and common sense, no decent doctor can deny these truths. But he or she may be impressed with your “one in a million” medical research skills. And if you politely request your child be weaned from the drugs, it may work?
But do be aware of the fact that being weaned from the psych drugs can cause a “drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis,” which will be misdiagnosed as a “return of the disease,” if your child lands back in a hospital. Personally, I recommend weaning over years, not merely months. And a “drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis” can happen even years after withdrawal, contrary to what the psychiatrists claim.
I also recommend you suggest to your child that he rationalize with his “voices.” He should explain to them that he cannot function with “voices,” thus all the voices may no longer be able to speak, unless all the “voices” agree on what is to be said. At least I found it helpful to turn my drug withdrawal induced “voices” into a “voice” of “common sense,” rather than individual “voices.” It worked for me, in just a day, so it may work for him.
Nonetheless, you should keep some neuroleptics on hand, as a possible short run treatment for these possible withdrawal symptoms. And, in general, be prepared for possible chaos. Because withdrawal from the psych drugs can be difficult and unpredictable. There’s a reason the psychiatrists want nothing to do with it.
God bless, and I’m truly sorry your family has been caught up in today’s, unmentioned in the mainstream, pharmaceutically controlled, “fake news,” media’s cover up of an all western civilization psychiatric holocaust of innocents.
I hope you’re successful in setting your child free. I’ll say a prayer for you both.
This is not psychiatry, this is apollonian ego fundamentalism. They do not even understand what psyche is.
James Hillman “Re-visioning psychology”
Thomas Szasz “Manufacture of madness”
We must become our own “experts” rather than looking to others to guide us.
become our own “experts”
We have to do this, look to those who have fought back, rather than to those who listened to therapists and had their experience of injustice turned into a self-improvement project.
Thanks for your comment.
In essence I do agree with you, but it isn’t expertise or guidance that a good therapist or a friend can provide. It is attention, support, safety, and encouragement. Sometimes when we feel lost ot cut off from ourselves and alienated, it is the relationship between us that can be heipful for us to heal and to be able to rediscover ourselves. From then on, we can reconnect to our own experience and our desires and become our own “experts”.
Therapist always will try to turn your experience of injustice into a self-improvement project.
This is just an extension of the self-reliance ethic, which is the basis of Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family.
The life affirming alternative is revolutionary political activism. And it starts when you fire your psychotherapist.
**trigger** mention of rape
Not ALL therapists. I’ve see many therapists/counsellors in the past 30 years. One was actively abusive. Most were simply doing a job, and were exactly as described in your post and others, above. They were either actively destructive or simply useless.
However, two counsellors have been caring, person-centered allies who actively cared for me and helped me to figure out my cr*ap (still ongoing). Both treated me as an equal, listened to months of mostly shallow babbling until I trusted them enough to open up, cried/got angry/physically reacted to a few things I said (despite attempts to maintain professional distance), gave me a contact number for use in dire emergencies (used once), and cared enough for me that they charged me a token fee* for years, even as one went through financial problems that resulted in him sleeping in his office.
Both are politically active and actively discuss the influence of government oppression, lack of medical care, poverty, disability, structural barriers, etc. on my current emotional state. My current counsellor actively inquired into my support system, and has numbers for my partners and a friend, just in case. They have hers, as well. (Again, for dire emergencies – never used.) Both of them worked to help me to dismantle some of my extreme self-reliance, and helped me to learn to rely on others (still a work in progress, but I’m doing really well).
So some counsellors can be amazing. I’ve found two of them (although one was a rape crisis referral, so I won’t use the word “lucky”). I guess I’m just saying that if one is prepared to look hard and sort through a large quantity of chaff, and one has funding or is lucky enough to get it, one might find a gem…
* I suspect that both would have seen me for free, but both of them had figured out that I wouldn’t have been able to accept free help.
Your comments reflect my experience completely. There are people who are able to be helpful in more than a run of the mill way, but they are rare and a degree or license or “school of therapy” certainly does nothing to identify such people. They are human, real, caring, and allow themselves to be affected by our stories, and even share some of their own experiences when it is helpful. They make mistakes and apologize for doing so, they are properly horrified by horrific things, they are, in short, real humans who are there to help in whatever way they can. And again, they are quite rare.
It’s the human relationship shared with someone whom we know truly cares about us which provides the opportunity for healing and well-being. This relationship is the basis for all other things. I have two best friends who’re better therapists than most therapists I’ve dealt with either as fellow staff or as the person on the receiving end of the therapy.
Yes it is so much about human relationships and the environment we must live in. Be sure to read this excellent article on MIA today by Dr. Gabor Mate from Vancouver, BC:
I adore Gabor Mate.
Dear Alan, Thank you so much for writing this article. As fellow parents, we read your article with much interest, sympathy and recognition. We experience daily the horror of having found ourselves powerless to protect our son, once he was introduced, to the violence of the psychopharma “mental illness” system.
One group you and your son might consider connecting with is the HV Study Club, which meets monthly, Friday nights, at Olympic Village Community Centre, run by peers outside of the confines of the system. There are two more meetings this season. Diana & Steven https://bchearingvoicesnetwork.wordpress.com/local-groups/vancouver/
Hello, so sorry to read about what happened to your son and this so-called mental health system which now seems to dominate almost every aspect of our lives today. This happened in my family too, I still suffer from this experience, very terrifying. It is a tyrannical system, fueled by mind-altering drugs that have the potential to kill people! These conditions/diagnostic symbols the psychiatric world utilizes are a complete and utter joke. Then, to top it off with central nervous system depressants that have no long-term studies attached with their use is abhorrent, who do they think they are, I wonder how they can sleep at night? Psychiatry is evil. Run as fast and as far as you can away from it! Know an escape plan if you come up against it! And, those Black Box Warnings they have on the labels of Many of these drugs, warning people against them! They are tyrants pure and simple. I notified countless people during this dark-age time. I screamed at many of them…to the top of my lungs. The evilness of it all!
Hi Alan, Happy to see your post. Also in YVR (coincidentally near OV as in diana’s comment above). Your bio indicated that you write, so I looked online but didn’t find a website. In a quick search (no privacy online anymore!) I was surprised to find a common link to Or Shalom (had my kids there). Did you have a connection to Gabor Maté? If so it’s surprising, because it means that even a personal connection to a forward-thinking local professional can’t secure better support for a family member. BC is thought to be so ‘West Coast New Age,’ but clearly is no more progressive for ‘mental health’ issues than anywhere else. Confirms why I kept my family issues under the radar. If you’re interested in chatting with a like-minded local parent about ‘MH’ issues, feel free to email me at [email protected]
“Why can’t they just let him be? He is no danger to himself or to anyone else. “
It’s their job, and they get paid a lot of money to do it.
“have become somewhat cynical and skeptical, partly due to my experiences talking with various psychiatrists over the years regarding my son’s dis-ease. Yet, in spite of my son’s treatment, I do want to acknowledge that there are psychiatrists and psychologists around the world who are not so closed-minded and who are doing work that is beneficial. “
Have you had this experience with a psychiatrist, and if so, are you sure they weren’t just humoring you since they obviously weren’t involved in your sons treatment (else they’d stop it if they truly cared)? Or do you mean in the sense of writing books critical of psychiatry, or otherwise being critical of the profession?
I’ve observed that many of the worst psychiatrists I’d ever been harmed by would turn around and tell other people, including and especially my parents, things that demonstrated them being completely two-faced. And of course David Healey has been criticized for just that; attacking “anti-depressants” in the guise of patient safety while advocating for and profiting from electroshock.
E.G.: Suffering from dyskinesia and intermittent dystonia following a days long dystonic reaction, being told that it’s just a “side effect” and even that I’ll “get used to it” and being left on the drug that caused it, then hearing that psychiatrist tell my horrified parents visiting me at the hospital something along the lines of “oh yes, so terrible, 1 in 6000 it’s so rare, we’re doing everything we can, it should be over soon. Oh no it’s not permanent, it’s an allergic reaction, we took him off that ‘medication’ and put him on another and it’s gotten better, soon it will go away and we’ll get his meds sorted out, like finding the right keys to the locks.”
And all the meanwhile I was still on the very drug that caused the dystonic reaction (risperdal) and was just doped up on benadryl and cogentin for as long as I was there.
I can’t remember the name of the shrink who put me on 10 mg of Haldol. Caused some terrifying seizures with eyes rolling back and tardive psychosis. (Yes, that’s a thing.)
The “doctor” told my parents Haldol never, ever caused that kind of thing. Either I was faking it or it was my “schizo effective disorder” to blame. Looking back some of the orderlies–who treated me kindly because I gave them no problems and nicely pulled my pants down for the injection–reassured me the Parkinsonism, eye rolling, mini seizures were common and happened all the time. Hmm..either the shrink was pulling a fast one or knew less than the CNAs and orderlies. Take your pick. 😛
Faking it? ?! Where do they get these ideas from?!
Thank you for your story and thoughts. I am so sorry for all you have been through. I thought I understood what is going on, but I was truly shocked that your son was arrested at the airport.
I am in Toronto and I cannot understand why there is no discernible outcry or organization of angry families. We need people with the resources to construct a MAD in Canada website. Surely we could at least set up a listserv! (I do not think “social media” is the best idea.)
I too have a son, my only child. I am ashamed that I did not understand the truth sooner and find a way to act more effectively. I was made a fool and all but destroyed in the process.
My son is 33 and lives in the city where he attended university. Eleven years ago he was assaulted and left with severe PTSD. After his Dad died suddenly in 2013, he fell apart. He got no meaningful psychological help despite having been connected to a psychiatrist at the specialized MH hospital at that point, and despite me providing the history. He deteriorated into terrible dysfunction and a delusional belief system, which I had no idea was a known phenomenon more rare than schizophrenia, and twice as likely in those who have had trauma. It was bewildering in that his fears are based in real events. There have been several hospitalizations elsewhere, but by the grace of God and his own caution he has not been caught in the drug trap or “certified”.
I was profoundly traumatized as I begged the large mental health agency involved for *a year and a half* for cooperation to protect his stable and affordable housing so that he would not be evicted and end up dead or in jail– to no avail. (This was doable– these people simply did not *want* to work toward solutions.) He was afraid for years on end to go out at all as he thought he would be murdered.
My son’s former girlfriend and I carried him for years with no help or advice, when he could do nothing to help himself, including cooperate.
He has been doing better for the past few months, so there is hope. Our relationship is pretty much destroyed. He blames me for everything though I gave everything and lost everything, and heard language I cannot forget. I try to remain present to some extent but cannot physically tolerate the stress very well anymore.
>>I contend that people need to be much more careful in seeking help because they have no idea what they are getting into when they are placed in the care of a psychiatrist. They naively expect to be helped in the best possible way which never does happen.
Wow, is this ever the truth. I was totally naive. There is a propaganda machine which implies there is a viable (and helpful) system. There is not. (Let’s talk, *indeed*.) I knew the things that would help and ASSUMED these would be put together logically in order to address the problem intelligently. He needed someone to help him sort out his thoughts and reorient himself, after his worldview was shattered by a traumatic event and he had to confront the death of a parent while already in distress. I provided comprehensive information and made appropriate suggestions. I was totally ignored and nothing wise or even sensible EVER occurred.
By the time things got really bad, I had learned enough to realize I had better not yell too loudly or criticize the psychiatrist, lest it make things *worse*. So then I was really stuck, because I had no family who understood what was happening, or cared to learn. No advice or champion. And no money to pay professionals. I could not even find a community of people who grasped the truth.
>>Could the environments we inhabit (or have been in) be causing our problems?
>>Much suffering in life is caused by a lack of personal power and being treated badly. Ethics and politics are generally ignored when we describe psychological suffering. Western medicine teaches us that the problem is within us, not between us. Yet when someone has power over us, we can easily be exploited and oppressed. This is absolutely the case in the psychiatrist/patient relationship.
*Yes*, absolutely the external environment is causing massive despair– and addiction (See The Globalization of Addiction by Bruce Alexander). The exploitation reflected in the psychiatrist/ patient relationship– and the corruption of psychiatry by pharmaceutical interests: see Whitaker’s ‘Psychiatry Under the Influence’– extends to the broader reality. It should be seen in the context of the unprecedented “neoliberal” global economic/ ideological framework, the concentration of wealth and the giant financial casino. Cultures and populations are being destroyed worldwide, not to mention other species and the planet. (The entire house of cards rests on oil…)
>>As Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing once said, “the treatment is how we attend to and treat one another.”
This is such a profound observation. That is what Peter R Breggin would say also.
This is about protecting fundamental human rights and values for all.
A note re: the discussion about psychotherapy… even a loving stranger can help… That is the only reason I survived. I met someone who listened to me and got me out and fed me and loved me. Every other connection failed the test– and that was a big part of the damage in all of this.
The mainstream doesn’t see this or want to. The people being funded/ paid are too close to it and don’t want to hear about it– including the “family support” programs.
Here is a 2017 piece written to the Globe and Mail by several parents, notable because such straightforward criticism is rarely seen: ‘Why has Ontario’s Health Care System Abandoned Our Kids?’ These people aren’t even questioning psychiatry– their point is nothing has worked to address the life-threatening afflictions of their children, and the specialized residential programs which are likely to be helpful do not exist. Further, the Ontario government is blocking funding for out-of-country care.
I am also a father of a son who felt into both schizophrenia and psychiatry. So, I can relate and I want to thank you for your testimony. Too few fathers do that.
Above psychiatry, there is big money. For instance, in its 2018 BioTech Report, Goldman Sachs raised the question: “To cure patients, is it a sustainable business?”… Money corrupts everything…
Below big money and big pharma, we have the psychiatric “dogma”: “psychosis, bipolarity, schizophrenia are incurable illnesses rendering sufferers disabled for life and psych-drugs-dependant for life!”
DOGMA, according to Wikipedia tonight:
“Dogma is an official system of principles or doctrines of a religion, such as Roman Catholicism, or the positions of a philosopher or of a philosophical school such as Stoicism.
In the pejorative sense, dogma refers to enforced decisions, such as those of aggressive political interests or authorities. More generally, it is applied to some strong belief whose adherents are not willing to discuss it rationally. This attitude is named as a dogmatic one.”
Therefore, we can never discuss with 99.99% of the psychiatrists. They will never accept to discuss their dogma rationally. It is too money-making for them.
What we can do is to organise ourselves to stop paying them. Hence they will become powerless.
After all, we parents, we are tax-payers, and via our heath insurances, psychiatrists are paid by our taxes. We are customers, and customers are King!
So, let’s stop paying them, i.e. both psychiatrists and big-pharma, and let’s use our money for shifting the paradigm towards the existing, but little known therapies for healing, back to a psych-drugs-free and natural life.
Simple, isn’t it?
Kind regards from the little Kingdom of Belgium,
Hi Alan, thank you for the well written article. I am also in Canada.
You are wise man. I am glad to see that, first off, you don’t see “it”
as mental illness. The only reason it ever came to be named is
because we know nothing.
It would not even matter if the so called scientists reveal the exact area responsible,
or the exact treatment.
The whole falsity is in the idea of disease or illness, because that part is purely
a human perspective.
I see any deviation from what many of us think of as “norms”, as certain
parts to ourselves that for various reasons, WHICH no one knows, get activated.
Of course we are all very unique in our “chemical” makeup, that is not news.
The thing is, what is inside of me and your son is part of a very complex system
of the past, present and future of society. We cannot see the present for what it is,
let alone the future and thus we have no clue as to which neuron or chemical
is needed for preservation etc.
Our uniqueness, our reactions are not illness. To buy into that, is in fact the biggest
problem right now.
It is evidenced by how we are treated after a label. Evidenced by how labels make one feel. Evidence abounds at the fallacy of mental illness.
I could believe in psychiatry if NOT for the absolute abuses, and how all agency is no longer
allowed. Real care looks NOTHING like psychiatry or the fall out from psychiatry.
It operates like a cult. There is no “expert” in psychiatry.
The client is the expert.
One can see the meaningless in psychiatry in all areas, starting with an ability for them to
want to dialogue.
The rigid and inflexibility within psychiatry is telling.
The best advice I have is to take his drugs and flee the country, where one can do a slow taper.
Perhaps Norway? Where they have a new option?
I very much believe in the idea of resituating…..the recreating of environment.
There is no such thing as “permanent”. Psychiatry IS what creates permanent.
They have NEVER cured an ill person. But many have changed without them, since the human
never stops growing, changing. Of course, depending on environment.
Psychiatry found out that the brain is capable of changing and have not followed along with that idea and not worked in conjunction with parents and clients.
Their changing of the brain is produced by experiments, nothing more, nothing less.
Most shrinks don’t want to be bothered with satisfaction of consumer. They forgot LONG ago that we pay them. There is no “service”. And they will be the first to be very demanding if the service they get is not optimal. Forever looking for the “respect” they think they deserve.
I have NO respect for a so called care system that “tags” people and arrests them for an illness.
Sorry that your son was forced back into psychiatry upon his return to Canada.
Living in Belgium, that did not happened to mine. As yet!
« Medicine » means « the Art to cure! »
Although curing therapies exist, dogmatic psychiatrists pretend that so-called mental illnesses are incurable and they do not practice the Art to cure, i.e they do not deliver the service that we, parents-tax-payers, we pay for.
Therefore, we, parents-tax-payers, we must unite and organize ourselves for stopping to pay them, so that we can invest our money in curing therapies.
Stop the flow of our money to the pharmaceutico-psychiatric industry, and the system will collapse!
Psychiatric Drugs are profoundly disabling – even, for people that have been misdiagnosed or were not mentally ill to begin with.
Exposure to Psychiatric Drugs can cause ‘Mental Illness’ even in well people, through the creation of changes to the brain.
“..so that we can invest our money in curing therapies…” even the most basic Psychotherapeutic principles can cure the so called “major mental illnesses”.
Eckhart Tolle:- Break Free From Fear And Anxiety
(This approach works)
“Good time is work time” – that’s prison saying.