“It’s not about pills. It’s about power.” — Caroline Mazel-Carlton
Pill shaming. It’s the next big thing. Media outlets we at least intermittently respect (e.g., Upworthy, BBC) are running right alongside those with which we generally struggle much more (e.g., The Mighty), all calling for its end. But, what is this “pill shaming” thing really about?
Pill shaming seems to be spoken of in two distinct forms:
- The ignorant family and friends who “pill shame” by suggesting someone should just be able to “get over” their distress with improved diet, exercise, or sheer willpower alone.
- The well informed activist who — by virtue of sharing their own drug-free story and/or truths about psychiatry — is said to somehow be tacitly shaming the person who still uses psychiatric drugs as a part of making their way through the world.
These two definitions of “pill shaming” are substantively different from one another, yet similarly misguided.
We say that the first definition of ‘pill shaming’ is misguided because the issue often seems much less about discouraging someone from taking pills, and more about the routine dismissal of their distress overall. In this case, the focus on ‘to pill or not to pill’ is typically symbolic at best. Unfortunately, this view of human suffering as inconvenient above all else is a pervasive one. And, it happens not only among family and friends who want their loved one to “just be okay” so everyone can carry on with business as usual (or ignore some deeper familial issue), but also within the provider system itself. Of course, while in family systems, this may look like a denial of the value of pills because the pills themselves represent an uncomfortable reminder that something’s amiss, it looks quite different on the inside of the system’s figurative walls. Because therein, the best way to deny the validity of someone’s feelings is to actually push the pills to try and wash all those pesky emotions away.
On the other hand, the second version of “pill shaming” is driven by a weird sort of counter-counter-narrative which basically means it’s the same old story packaged up as if it were something new and ultra woke. It’s an at least three-quarters straw man argument that seems to suggest that just by speaking truth about how the system has actively lied to us about psychiatric drugs (and more), that we are somehow now “anti-medication,” and shaming those for whom pills are a tool that seems to work. But, of course, challenging the mythology that human distress is caused by “chemical imbalance” rather than external factors such as poverty in so many instances is not the same as denying that a chemical might make tough conditions more bearable. (For more on the Chemical Imbalance Myth, see: Dear Mental Health Professionals, “Please Stop Defending Yourselves and Listen” by Noel Hunter and “Psychiatry’s Grand Confession” by Jonathan Leo and Jeffrey Lcacasse.)
“We’re not pill shaming you. We’re just sick of watching people fucking die.” — Sera Davidow
Now, to be clear, there are some for-reals pill shaming folk out there. The short-term pill shamers are often the ones so damn excited about their own new found success that they can’t help but preach it to everyone around them. Finding the key to their own success by coming off psychiatric drugs has felt so miraculous that it’s near impossible to believe it wouldn’t bring the same results for pretty much everyone else. This is usually a passing phase (and not much different from those who get super excited about the results they’ve achieved on a fad diet, a cleanse, or a 12-step program) as they either relax into their own process enough to once again become aware of the many other paths that people can legitimately take… or their own process becomes messier as time passes, and their choice — even if still the right one for them — stops seeming like quite the panacea it originally appeared to be. So, they grow quiet, or at least a bit more humble, at that point.
On the other hand, the long-term, super committed pill shamers (a very small group, to be sure) have often been so hurt by their own experience (or that of a loved one) in the system that they’ve become rigid in response. Sometimes, in their heart of hearts, they’re able to recognize that pills are not actually the route to all evil, but they nonetheless see them as problematic enough that they don’t care, and don’t want to risk any nuance detracting from their overall message.
They are the ones yelling that pills are to blame for every last problem that they and others have experienced. If only psychiatric drugs weren’t a thing, we’d all be fine. Of course, it’s not possible for that to be true in any global sort of way. Humans have been using drugs of one sort or another since the beginning of time with varying levels of success and demise. Trying to dictate to others what their experience has been or should be isn’t especially useful in any context. But once again, in truth, this group is so small as to have a nearly negligible effect, although they’re talked about enough these days to suggest they may be lurking with their pill shaming ways in every shadow.
Yes, it would seem that there must be some investment in creating this illusory affect that serves to engorge the reality, and justify all the pressured press. Our best guess is that at least one of the two following factors is typically at play:
- Internalized oppression
- The same old oppressive power structures as before
Internalized oppression is not a new topic. (See, for example: “The Language of Internalized Oppression.”) How it plays out here is this: If you were expecting to inform someone that all they’ve been told about psychiatry, and perhaps even about their own human potential, may not be so true, and have them cheer and thank you, you may be disappointed. Often, they’re going to be angry. You have, after all, just challenged the framework around which they may have been organizing their life for quite some time. Suggesting that all that might be based on lies and half-truths will not uncommonly be met with defensiveness, and at least a temporary increase in their desire to hang onto what they’ve believed to be true. This not infrequently includes some solid ‘pill shaming’ accusations.
Meanwhile, if you’ve taken the recent uptick in ‘pill shaming’ media coverage at face value… Well, think again. Though any real paradigm shift is still a ways off, some progress has been made. Progress — particularly when it comes to undoing systemic power imbalances — tends to illicit a response. This is, at least in part, the system’s efforts to silence its detractors. Calling “pill shaming” quite successfully and immediately shifts the dynamic from that of ‘information sharing’ to ‘victim versus bully’. There’s little that is more silencing than calling someone out for taking advantage of another’s vulnerabilities no matter how untrue. How convenient that some of our own should be willing to take on a piece of that work, too. (But, that’s nothing new.)
Meanwhile, in the effort to lend a hand to our oppressors, there’s an even more troubling phenomenon emerging, especially on the part of accusers of Pill Shaming Type II. That phenomenon takes shape when people speak as if the pill shaming deal is somehow equal to the conventional clinical system’s push to take drugs in the first place. Just a mere incidence of “tit for tat.” Yes. Okay. Sure. Pushing someone in any direction is an issue. As was said in “Mind the Gap: The Space Between Alternatives and Force”: “Force is force, of course, of course.” Yet, force without power doesn’t have much… well, force.
Bear with us as we momentarily digress into the lush land of analogies: We believe that women can treat men badly. Some women have quite prejudicial ideas toward the male species in its entirety, and refuse to give even the “best guys” a chance. Yet, we reject wholeheartedly the idea of misandry. Why? Because “reverse sexism” can’t exist in a society where women simply don’t have the power to systemically oppress men. Yes, it’s been many years since women gained the right to vote (for example), but they didn’t have the power to grant that to themselves. As others have pointed out before us, they could fight, boycott, yell, scream, protest, and use every tactic in their “good activist” books, but it was still the men who had the power to actually change the law. Similarly, it remains men (white men, to be precise) who continue to have the power to rule over women’s freedoms as demonstrated by the recent abortion decision in Alabama and several other states.
There’s also still rape culture, pay gaps, and a host of other inequities with which we continue to contend.
Now, most will be able to recognize that a woman’s ability to be mean to (or even withhold certain opportunities from) an individual man or group of men is simply not the same as men’s power to change the very laws which govern all women’s freedoms. The situation is similar in psychiatry. People who engage in pill shaming (of any kind) can be just as mean, dismissive, and damaging as the next person at the individual level, but they lack any real systemic power. Meanwhile, those who wish to push pills have the media, the doctors, corporate power, and (most importantly) the law on their side. When a family member attempts to shame someone out of acknowledging a problem or taking a particular approach to solve it, it can be very painful, but they are limited in what they can do. There are no court orders that legitimately force people who want to take psychiatric drugs not to take them, or who incarcerate people to keep the psychotropics away. Yet, freedom and bodily integrity are at real risk in the reverse.
Moreover, while one may come across a true-blue ‘pill shaming’ person here and there (they’re definitely easier to find than, say, Big Foot), the “non-compliance” police are pretty much everywhere. They’re in all the media stories (fictional and not) ranting about the dangerousness of “untreated mental illness,” and in the court systems with their commitment orders (both inpatient and out). They’re in the violence of restraints and needles forcibly penetrating our skin. And, to top that off, we’re not allowed to actually call that violence because we lack even the power to define the word from our own perspective. There simply is no comparison.
And, yes. For goodness sake, yes. Some small groups and organizations focused on pushing back against all the power absolutely do center (almost exclusively) stories that support the counter-narrative. This is not a bad thing, provided they don’t simultaneously seek to denigrate other stories in the process. It is not an example of “reverse psychiatric oppression” or anything else nefarious. It is based in the tangible reality that those stories — and the truths they represent — are largely ignored or unheard anywhere else. They don’t owe “equal representation” in a world where those in power offer none. On what planet is it fair for the group with 11 pieces of cake to ask the group with one piece of cake to be the only one to share? And when the latter refuses, how does it make any sense at all to then accuse them of abuse? Let’s remember that the pharmaceutical lobby represents one of the most well-funded and powerful corporate aggregates in the world. Pharmaceutical and health product lobbyists operate on a larger budget than any other lobby in the country, including oil, electric, and guns. And it is certainly unlikely that any board-room discussions at Eli Lilly world headquarters involve deep reflection on how to make space for those whose narrative challenges their bottom line.
“Speaking truth about bad science and psychiatric oppression does not equal ‘pill shaming.’” — Sera Davidow
So, what do we do now? Here’s a few suggestions:
1. Check your own ‘pill shaming’ narrative contributions: Stop writing “pill shaming” pushback posts. Stop ‘liking’ them. Stop sharing them on social media. Stop creating, buying, or wearing anti-pill shaming swag. Stop using the phrase entirely. Even if there’s some piece of the message you like, you’re contributing to a larger problem, so find a different way to address that piece and leave the rest behind. At best, the underpinnings of the ‘pill shaming’ accusation are misguided. At worst, they represent a concerted effort on the part of the current power structure to use us against ourselves, and they don’t need any more help. Seriously.
2. Check your roots: Yes, you can write a critique. And I can write a critique of your critique. And then you can critique my critique of your critique whilst I prepare to critique you back, all culminating in a war of words on some overly academic closed Facebook group. But, at some point, we’ll all have lost sight of what in hell we were even trying to accomplish in the first place. Critical thinking is important, especially when up against a system that has tried to numb and force that out of so many of us. Yet, when we get so invested in making arguments and picking apart ideas, we start to miss out on the reality of people’s lives. These issues aren’t actually playing out in books, or journal articles, or even on social media (no matter how it may appear). This is real life, and we need to remember that one prominent tactic in these sorts of battles is for those currently in power to somehow convince those without much power to fight amongst ourselves. The enemy is not us, but it sure is our lives at stake.
3. Check your agenda: While we truly believe that this ‘pill shaming’ focus is off track and far overblown, too many of us nonetheless do have overly specific ideas about how life should look for other people. The only true path to liberation is to focus on how to support people to get their power back (or get it in the first place), never mind how they then choose to use it. That power may come with or without drugs, and those drugs may be prescribed or not. Our job is to illuminate the many paths, not to push anyone down a particular one.
4. Check your privilege: Sometimes the path someone chooses is because they have access to all the paths, and really want to be on that one. But it’s important to be clear that some people choose psychiatric drugs because they lack the support to get off of them, or the resources they would need in order to take as much time off of work as it would require to taper successfully. Lots of people would love for alternatives like exercise to be the answer, but they lack the time, energy or physical capacity to test it out. And, some people are clear that they’re choosing psychiatric drugs as the best option “for now” because that’s what it takes for them to survive in the rapid-fire city where they currently live, or to get through school, or what have you, and any risks involved are worth taking. These are all valid choices, provided people have real information with which to make them.
On the other hand, effective social justice movements make space for (and center) the experiences of those most marginalized. In whatever sphere we do this work, we cannot forget those struggling on locked units under the weight of forced drugging orders. It is often poor people, people of color, and/or foster children who are most impacted by the narrative that anti-dopaminergic drugs “treat” so-called “mental illnesses.” In reality, the people who most need our movement are often dying of organ failure before they even become aware of its existence, let alone counter-counter-narrative critiques. Somehow we must find a way to navigate this tension and hold all these truths.
5. Check your ableism: And finally, it’s important to remember that people get to decide what “working” or “success” looks like for them. The oft unquestioned definition of success tends to come with a full-time job, no hospitalizations, and a series of relational markers (like marriage, children, and so on). But, we need not be so limited in our vision. People’s lives don’t have to necessarily check all the boxes of a capitalist system in order to be of value. It’s okay for us to be in the world as we are, to self-define what makes our lives worth living, to have our stories be anything but “neat and tidy,” and to forget about all the external expectations that try to tell us whether or not we’re “okay.” It’s even alright to not be consumed with trying to “recover,” especially if that comes at the cost of just getting to live.
And, one last point: Please also remember that those of us who are fighting for change and full recognition of the counter-narrative (the one that says the answer does not always lie in a pill bottle, that the drugs are often causing harm, that psychiatric diagnoses lack scientific validity no matter how much someone’s distress is real, and that loss of power is one of the most important issues of all) haven’t gained enough of a foothold yet to merit the counter-counter-narrative response. Sure, when you see someone being pushy, name it and push back, but the concerted backlash is undeserved and harmful. At least give us a bit more of a head start before you allow yourself to be used as a tool of the system to put us back in our place. Give us a fighting chance.
There are things that are deserving of our collective “shame.” Phenomena like rape culture and the growing inequality of our country are deserving of being called out aggressively and often. And we definitely should not seek to shame people for the strategies that they use to survive this world, whether or not those efforts include a prescription pill, a drug purchased on the street, or engaging in self-injury like cutting or burning. But neither can we afford the distraction of conflating pushbacks on Western medicine’s power to define the narrative with shaming attacks on individual liberty.
Remember, “It’s not about pills. It’s about power.” And we sure don’t have much of that (yet).
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.
Not sure what your comment means, Lauren?
“Pill shaming” is as absurd an etiological construct as “mental illness.” Pills feel no shame.
People who have been tricked or forced into taking them do. They have already been hurt, and the truth can be very traumatic, causing them to “kill the messenger.”
Those who squeal loudest about “pill shaming” are usually the Patient Shamers. Psychiatric bigwigs blame everything on their victims in order to exonerate their precious pills. Shame on them!
Thanks, Rachel. And, yes, indeed… shame on the people who attempt to center all the problems in so many different ways within the people they are charged with “helping” ..
Sera, can you point me to a genuine example of “pill shaming”? I have asked this question of several people who write about this subject, and they never reply.
Do you mean the really small group of people who do seem to actually go after the people taking the pills in pretty relentless ways or do you mean something else?
The main point of the article was that “pill shaming” isn’t really a thing, for the most part… that it’s often about something else in the little ways it does happen, and that mostly the term is a misunderstanding of or misuse of power because the very few people who actually criticize people for taking psych drugs still don’t actually hold any power over them, and the argument that “pill shaming” is this real and frightening thing that is somehow equal to the force and coercion out there that makes people think they have to *take* drugs is just off base.
Sorry, I’m writing clumsily from the treadmill so that’s also a clumsy synopsis, but I guess I’m just trying to understand why you are asking Caroline and I for real examples when our emphasis is on pill shaming being an over blown often manufactured sort of thing?
That said, I think if you look around Mad in America in some of the comments sections you will occasionally see the people that absolutely do think we should be telling every single person to get off their drugs and that any person who wants to take them … not just the people who – from a big picture perspective – think they do more harm than good or that we as a society are unable to ethically handle prescribing them without resorting to force and coercion – but those who think that anyone who says they truly benefit from them is just misguided or brainwashed and tells them so. It’s not common, but it happens every now and again.
Sera: “Do you mean the really small group of people who do seem to actually go after the people taking the pills in pretty relentless ways?”
If that’s how you define “pill shamers”, then yes.
The reason I ask is because of the paragraph beginning: “Now, to be clear, there are some for-reals pill shaming folk out there.”
The description that follows of these “pill shaming folk” sounds to me like people expressing their deep feelings and concerns about neurotoxins, and indeed I have come across plenty of that, but I wouldn’t call them “pill-shamers”. To my mind, a “pill shamer” would be someone who sets out with the deliberate intent of triggering a shame response in their chosen target. I’ve never actually come across this in the real world, which is why I ask.
I have to say, I have seen some pretty serious insensitivity from some folks about the impact of their statements on the person in question. It seems to me that, as we care about the welfare of the folks we’re trying to educate, we need to start gently and from where the person is rather than overwhelming them with information and pressure to agree with us.
A useful analogy may be someone in a relationship we see as domestically abusive. We may be absolutely right about our observations and assumptions, but I can assure you that it’s not very helpful to say to someone, “You’re in an abusive relationship – you need to leave right away!” Now, the person who says this may have no intention of shaming the survivor, but the effect will nonetheless be one of shaming – the survivor will almost always feel inadequate and defensive, and will in fact often go into a reactive defense of the abuser as a means of avoiding the perceived judgment that s/he is too stupid to see the obvious reality that we “outsiders” are kind enough to point out.
I have found it MUCH more helpful to enter into a discussion with the person, to find out his/her own view of what is going on, what the pros and cons are, what they’ve thought about as possible solutions, or just to hear their story and listen supportively. It has become very, very clear to me over time that people are in different places in their processes and that the last thing they need is someone else telling them what they should do or that they are wrong.
Of course, we also have to consider the possibility that we are wrong, that the person is not feeling abused or mistreated, and that the situation is not the same to them as it looks to us.
This is a very, very different approach than I would take toward the PERPETRATORS of such ill treatment. I see no reason not to pull out all the stops in challenging those in the position of power to deal with the actual facts of the situation and to let them know we see and know what they are about. But they are the ones committing the heinous acts, whether intentionally or not. Those who are being victimized deserve a high level of sensitivity to how our approach may come across, including making sure that our efforts don’t have the unintended effect of making them feel LESS empowered and more shamed. We can absolutely create a shaming situation without intending to.
I would also suggest that this is very different than presenting objective DATA to a person in a difficult situation, while allowing that person to decide what it means and what to do with that information. My big objection is when people start objecting to providing objective information on the grounds that “it might discourage people from taking their meds” or “it might be perceived that you are shaming them.” I think sensitivity is still in order, but there is nothing “shaming” about sharing research data, statistics, personal experiences, cross-cultural studies, or whatever solid factual information is known with anyone who is interested in hearing about it, and even with some who aren’t.
I guess the big difference for me is whether one believes that the other person has the right to make their own decisions based on their own assessment of the data, or if one believes that anyone who doesn’t agree with one’s own interpretation is de facto wrong or deluded or deceived or victimized. I think it is a minimum level of respect to grant to any person in the low power situation the right to make up their own minds about things without having to worry about how I’m going to react or judge them if they make a different decision than I would want them to make.
Steve, very well-explained and stated!
My reaction to your probing, sensitive well-intentioned comment is that you are falling into the trap of taking the “pill-shaming” trope far too seriously, without the requisite amount of cynicism and attentiveness to the fact that this term is a way of encouraging people to be dependent on anti-depressants en masse. I’m sure it’s a corporate-generated term, meant to guilt trip people who see their friends being destroyed by pharmacology. It should be mocked, as well as the mentality behind it..
What may happen on a one on one level between friends cannot be generalized about. But on a mass/political level these are tools of a vicious and bloody system meant to force us into accepting the demands of a system which has no interest in our needs, other insofar as they interfere with profit-taking. They should be roundly denounced as such. And they should never be called “medications.”
There are plenty of ex-smokers who act pretty self righteous toward those struggling to quit. And formerly obese people sneering at those who can’t lose or are too busy with other stuff to do 24 hours of step aerobics a week.
@Oldhead (to Steve McCrea): “you are falling into the trap of taking the “pill-shaming” trope far too seriously […] I’m sure it’s a corporate-generated term, meant to guilt trip people who see their friends being destroyed by pharmacology. It should be mocked, as well as the mentality behind it.”
Yes, this sums up my queasiness about the whole thing. When I researched the “pill shaming” trope for my latest cartoon, I found out that it was first coined by a UK patient in 2013 who put together a Buzzword Bingo card of “pill-shaming” words and phrases. This was very quickly picked up and popularised by none other than Professor Sir Simon Wessely and his gang, and if you look at the Bingo card you’ll see why – it’s a psych/pharma-industry dream. It spread rapidly via Twitter (the favoured propaganda vehicle for Psychiatry Inc), and before you know it everyone is accusing everyone else of “pill-shaming” in that shrill, censorious Twitter way. Then, late last year, the Royal College of Psychiatrists went one step further and roped in BBC News to bring the phrase “pill shaming” to greater public awareness. This really made me shudder because they used a patient to make a “video story” promoting their agenda – see for yourself, I have put the link on my website.
Anyway, try as I might I couldn’t find a humorous angle on “pill-shaming”, and the cartoon evolved into “Shill Shaming.” Here is the link…
That is MOST educational! Thanks for that!
I can assure you that it’s not very helpful to say to someone, “You’re in an abusive relationship – you need to leave right away!”
You’re being too categorical, I’m sure there are situations when that’s EXACTLY the kind of thing someone might need to hear. But again, this is the “personal” side of the personal/political dynamic. Generalizations often tend to obscure more than enlighten.
OK, I was overgeneralizing a bit. There are moments when it IS the correct thing to say. But mostly not, and I’d have to gather a lot of information before deciding to go that route. A person has to be at the right point to be able to process that kind of a push.
But you’re right – there is a difference between personal communication that is unintentionally shaming and the use of this concept of “pill shaming” in a shamelessly (sorry!) political manner as has been done. Acknowledging that there are moments when people can’t process the idea that their pills may be dangerous really doesn’t connect with the idea of “pill shaming” as put forth by the leaders of the psychiatric/drugging movement.
Damn Auntie! What a scoop! Your above info on how one misled individual’s personal musings were directly appropriated by the psych/pharm industries’ PR shills sounds almost too blatant to be true, and renders my previous speculations, which at the time may have sounded borderline paranoid, as understated instead.
A research gem!
Twitter has really gone downhill.
A great tool for stirring up angry mobs with minimum appeal to reason. Perfect for a “science” consisting of nothing but political propaganda and marketing campaigns.
To my mind, a “pill shamer” would be someone who sets out with the deliberate intent of triggering a shame response in their chosen target.
Exactly — and that’s what the term should be limited to, if it is to be used at all. I personally see it as an enemy term that should never be used (except in a mocking way towards those who use it.)
@Oldhead – I have tracked down the footage of Prof Sir Simon grandstanding to the crowd and plugging the original “pill-shaming” bingo card. He’s very good at this, I have to say – it is a textbook example of a PR stunt designed to manipulate emotion and shut down rational thought. Nice move!
Psychiatry: the science of shutting down thought
I understand Doc Pies wants a new name to rebrand their image. Maybe trade in “psychiatrists” for “anticogitationists”?
I guess we were talking about the people who go after *individuals* who have chosen to take psych drugs and not try to come off of them either because the coming off is too hard (at least for now), or because they feel the drugs help them. I *do* think there is an intent of sorts to push shame on people in those situations for making the choices that they’ve made.
That said, while we wanted to recognize that that does happen and that it is harmful, I don’t think it’s any way equivalent to what is pushed on us by the system because it lacks power. And, frankly, I’d never actually use the term ‘pill shaming’ at all, because I do – as Oldhead said somewhere in this thread – see it as a term of the ‘enemy’ overall. That is a point we likely could have been clearer about, while still recognizing that it isn’t helpful and can be harmful to push ideas on people at the individual level or insisted that they are making the wrong choice for themselves.
I’m just trying to understand why you are asking Caroline and I for real examples when our emphasis is on pill shaming being an over blown often manufactured sort of thing?
What’s wrong with providing concrete examples?
You must understanding that by talking about something being “overblown” you are acknowledging a grain of truth. So I imagine what Auntie is trying to glean from you is exactly what you consider an example of something being “overblown.”
I gave concrete examples of pill shaming as I have seen and experienced it in a presentation, “Listening is Love: Peeling Back the Layers of Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness, Medication, and Withdrawal.” It may be too simplistic – my brain feels about 2/3 gone with my spirit quickly following. But it’s on the WARM Network website and conveys the intended tone of WARM. Pill shaming mentioned about halfway through:
Bravo! I’ve been concerned about the “pill shaming” trope for a while, and the two of you have laid out the arguments beautifully.
Sera, you’re such a fantastic writer, and I know you’re also a mom. I hope you’ll consider contributing to MIA’s Parent Resources section on a topic of your choice. You can email me at [email protected] or [email protected]. Thanks.
Thanks, Miranda! Would love to contribute to the parents section. I haven’t spent too much time in the parent’s section just yet, but will take another look 🙂
Upworthy, “to change what the world pays attention to”. A lofty goal, sounds a lot more like just propaganda to me. The BBC has been discredited decades ago.
Google has been altering it’s search results too, so you just get the information they want you to get.
Eh, as we said, we have “intermittent respect” for the output of those outlets… not constant. But each of those has certainly sometimes put out useful things and I’d look there before I’d look many other places. But regardless, a critique of which media sources we each like is relatively irrelevant to this topic. Our point was simply that we are starting to see these “pill shaming”-type stories popping up from an array of sources.
You do understand that anti-psychiatry information will soon be going the same route on Twitter, Google, etc. as anti-VAX and other info not consistent with the neoliberal narrative?
Don’t say I didn’t warn you — the more seriously you take these “pill shaming” memes and try to seriously argue with them the more power you will give them. If you really want to defeat them at their own game you need to learn to publicly mock them — and shame them!
This is such a beautiful post: philosophically rigorous, and comprehensive. I wish everyone involved in the mental health system could read this. Heck, I wish everyone in the country could read it. It dances through the false dichotomies and distortions as if they were paper-thin.
I don’t know how you do it. Struggling through this conceptual territory feels to me like drowning in molasses. I know it is populated by straw men, but those straw men are backed by immense sums of money and mass prejudice. I am never able to forget for a moment that anyone who wishes to can call the authorities and attempt to have me committed. They can speak five minutes of boilerplate, and put me in a trap that my best eloquence cannot get me out of: all I can do is shut my mouth and rely on the kindness of strangers with guns. Indeed, momentary eloquence is part of the diagnosis! My only recourse for preventing this seems to be clipping my own wings, pretending to be stupid, and flying below the radar. And keeping an eye on all the tinpot bullies in my life, because I know it only takes a few words for them to have the full power of the state on their side.
We realize we have grown in wisdom when we obtain a balanced perspective. It is so hard to find a balanced perspective when you live in fear of power. I feel like I’ve grown personally through reading this. It also gives me a little more hope that we can turn things around and become free human beings, some day.
God, I am so sick of not being a free human being. I may have begged a judge for my physical freedom, and gotten it, but the virtual asylum seems indestructable. Too much of my waking time, and too much of my dreamtime, is ensnared in figuring out how to protect myself. When I read something like what you both have written, I know it is possible to free your mind even when you lack civil rights. I just don’t know how.
Thank you so much for your comment and for putting to words so well what it can feel like to feel so powerless that you need to hide your humanity and light in order to stay some approximation of free that isn’t really very free at all. That can be so painful, and so soul crushing. I’m sorry that that is your experience, but thank you for sharing a piece of it.
Pill Shaming is just a common sense, if a person believes that the pills used in psychiatry are real medicine – then he is a doctor or just not so smart. Or it’s a person who has never tried to take them, because anyone who has ever tried antipsychotics is well aware of what kind of “medicine” it is. Chemical lobotomy is a very precise definition, and how can someone be considered normal if he voluntarily takes such medicines? The correct term for this is Stockholm Syndrome. Maybe I did not understand the meaning of the article? The “Pill Shaming” phenomenon is when a doctor is ashamed to prescribe such drugs? Especially when it comes to types of psychosis when antipsychotics are contraindicated. And none of the doctors even know that there are such contraindications. But still, large doses are prescribed, causing hallucinations and toxic hepatitis. I think it’s quite natural that there will be people who will not like the fact that somebody take such medicines voluntarily and praise their effectiveness. This is called collaborationism.
I am afraid I can’t agree with a lot of what you are saying here. I know people in my own life who are quite well informed, and hold quite a bit of power, who still choose to take some of the antidopmanergic drugs you are taking at least on an intermittent basis. I also know many many people who experience them and the reasons they ever took them in a way that aligns with what I understand to be your experience.
Some of the point of this article is that it’s generally *not* helpful to put on other people blanket attitudes that assume everything is exactly the same for us all… including things like that psych drugs are uniformly bad and useless for everyone, or that everyone who agrees to them suffers from Stockholm syndrome. However, the larger point of the article is that even though being told something like “you take these drugs because you suffer from Stockholm syndrome” can be hurtful and lead someone to feel pressured, since *all* the real power is in the hands of those who *push* these (yes often harmful and ineffective) drugs, that it’s silly to suggest that making someone feel bad in that way is in anyway equal to actually hold all the power to force them to do anything or influence enough of society to even make the more subtle pressure consistent.
Again, written from a treadmill so a bit more clumsy but hopefully still clarifying…
Not Stockholm Syndrome for all of us.
I honestly believed the lies NAMI pushes. That my “mental illness” was caused by a proven chemical imbalance.
When I found out the truth I was devastated. But instead of “killing the messenger” I planned a suicide. The plan was really an effective one. If a dear friend hadn’t stopped me I almost surely would be dead.
Rachel, very glad you survived learning the truth! A dear friend in need is a dear friend indeed!
Dr. Breggin uses the phrase: spellbinding.
Stockholm Syndrome is similar – you come to be fond of the people who “took such good care of you” while you were kidnapped and held against your will.
Sometimes this is dramatic incarceration and forced drugging like Nchurch describes. Sometimes it is subtle like Mother’s Little Helper. “I just need it to get through the day.”
Sometimes, it’s true – that in order to “adjust” to our toxic society, the Soma is required. Not all of us can leave. Not all of us can afford to live without disability.
But like Sera said, I’m “just sick of watching people fucking die.” And sick of watching cognitive loss, loss of will, loss of personality, the dehumanising of humans as they take these drugs. I’m sick of watching drugged people shit on their families because they can no longer empathise. They are “surviving” with their drugs, but at what cost?
Have you ever tried to take junk away from a junkie? That is what I feel like when I discuss the neurotoxic effects of these drugs. I have tried to take junk away from a junkie. And it’s not possible. Only the junkie can choose to leave the junk behind.
The junkie (and I don’t use this term lightly -though it can also be someone who is addicted to alcohol, or even tobacco – but the addiction is there) will lie, cheat, steal, do whatever it takes to get their junk back. It’s impossible to believe, and it’s hard to trust a junkie, no matter how much you love them.
How hard is, therefore, it to believe that someone Spellbound by psychiatry, Spellbound by the drugs – will be participating in some self-delusion, therefore?
Removed for moderation.
Removed for moderation.
there’s two communities, a helped and a harmed community- the helped talks their helped lingo, the harmed talks their harmed lingo, reals real, fairs fair, its the same with alcohol, tobacco, yet we talk drugs, that help and harm, in the same way alcohol or tobacco does, and the rules are different, but either way, people need to just believe or focus on, in, whats right for them, and accept for others, in the same way some substances aren’t right for them, or wrong for them, & that other people are the same, and are going to want to share harms, what that, those are, to them, as well as what isn’t, in the same normal way others do, -so they can be forewarned, like most parents want to do with their children regards, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, forewarn them, isn’t that the same thing? yet none of them are saying their being shamed, maybe tobacco smokers a bit, its like a big chunk of society knows that and that that’s how its always been, and accepted, i mean they even have AA- and NA clubs, groups of people attacking drugs and alcohol, believing in their hearts that’s the right thing to do, for themselves and others, and no ones telling them their making them feel horrible or awkward for them saying it, or acting it out in a club, yet its different for this group, just seems a bit special or hypocritical, odd, to me,i know its all understandable, just feels spoilt, brattish, no one cares what drugs people have, if their ok, its only if and when, their not OK, that really matters, but if others feel it matters, then fair enough, no one wants to hurt anyone, well usually, most people speak the truth of whats real for them, out of their passion, and their hearts, especially when their talking about their feelings, everyone matters, about their fears, equally, cause their real to them, they matter, their real matters, whatever it is, and everyone should care for everyone, regardless of what they believe or not. with compassion, empathy, and care, before they go into themselves, outside of themselves, cause that usually fixes, whats usually, keeping them inside anyway, insecurities, cause if your true blue about you, what you do, where your at, what your beliefs are, the rest is pretty much, water off a ducks back, just like it should be, over your beliefs, truth, real, etc. accepting were all different, with differing likes and dislikes, personalities, preferences, bodies, constitutions, beliefs, drug effects, etc. etc. that are never going to match up to anyone else, not really. It’s what makes each of us different.
I can appreciate what you’re saying, but I think it’s a bit more complex than that. I rarely here from people who feel they also haven’t been harmed in some ways, for example. That is actually a really interesting topic, I think, because sometimes (most of the time) when someone says ‘the hospital saved my life’ the system just says, “look what we did! hospitals are great!” But few really stop and say, “What exactly was it about your hospital experience that you feel helped, and were there other things that also hurt during that same experience that you wish hadn’t happened?” It’s weirdly all or nothing on a number of levels, and then when we offer any critique of that *we* are the ones painted in that way in an attempt to dismiss us.
In any case, I think a lot of people *do* talk about shaming people who use drugs, cigarettes, etc… talk about AA/NA as very shaming at times, etc. etc… But yes, I think overall I get your point and your right that there’s a boat load of hypocrisy wrapped up in all this and how socially acceptable drugs are regarded and responded to vs those that are not socially acceptable (and socially acceptable has little to do with what is *actually* most harmful). And yes, if each person didn’t have to fight for the power (within or outside of themselves) to simply be who they are and be confident in that, so much would be better… but so much of that is wrapped up in the environmental conditions we all live within that it seems quite the challenge to get there!
still clearly hypocrisy Sera, we’ve been warning our children and people about the harms of drugs since the beginning of time, and we’ve all taken those warnings on board, with respect, without any shaming stories, ever, none that ive ever seen, until the last 12 to 24 months, since those on them, Psyche drugs, have started making noises about feeling shame, or shamed, and started this pill shaming angle, story, about it all, what makes it so wrong is the fact theres one half who’s saying their harmed by it, and their calling them shamers, and not sympathizing, or empathizing with them, the pain and the trauma their feeling, and reporting, which in one way, is telling me, the drugs, might be taking away their empathy and compassion, that should be in the right place, with those harmed, before it goes anywhere near the happy ones, in a normal caring, compassionate. world.
Yeah, only with psychiatry is dependence on consciousness-altering chemicals suddenly considered not only acceptable, but worthy of plaudits.
For the research prone, it would be very interesting to study where this term originated and who originated it!
Hey Johnnyb – this is interesting.
It’s OK for NA to “narcotics shame”
And It’s okay for AA to “alcohol shame”
and it’s okay for SA to “sex and porn shame”
But is this because – people go to these 12-step organisations and surrender to them for “help”?
And in that surrender, they have to accept that their “unacceptable behaviour” will be shamed?
What is the role of shame in psychiatric diagnonsense? We go to the p-doc, and he shames us for not being able to hold our emotions together well enough to work, or not having enough oomph to get through the day, or for being argumentative with our spouse, children, etc…and then offers us pills to “fix” these behavioural strategies?
I may be stepping out of line on this one – I’m trying to expand my connectome and the way I think about this – so this is not necessarily something I believe – just something I’m trying on.
I have been shamed numerous times for not taking my “medicine.” Ironically this was when I took them religiously. They were like food or oxygen to me….I thought.
Then I would be consumed with self loathing and suicidal longings. The pills were magic. So it must be my fault I couldn’t think straight, gained 60 pounds in 3 months, couldn’t study or understand social cues anymore.
Tapered off them. Lo and behold my head didn’t spontaneously combust from all those imbalanced chemicals reacting. And gravity still exists. My folks didn’t know about it for over 32 months. And I was living with them too. They were kind of surprised.
Yep. Psychiatrists were wrong after all.
I can’t believe this.
Pill Shamers Unite!!!
Thank you, Oldhead. Proud pill shamer here too. I might have gotten off the drugs sooner if this crowd had been a little louder and stood up to the psych propaganda more visibly. This article is over the top.
The NNH for most of these drugs is smaller than the NNT with more long term data being reported every year. And now the new study that was just published (a larger replication of a previous study) showing that anticholinergics increase odds of developing dementia by 50%… Its hard to believe that people are so focused on not hurting someone else’s feelings that the true dangers of these drugs gets suppressed.
This article shames survivors who’ve been harmed and who now speak the truth about these drugs. I won’t be shamed out of speaking the truth about these harms just because some people experience a placebo effect and don’t have too many bad side effects. That is not proof the drugs work, just proof some people aren’t harmed by them.
Lastly, most of the time when you read people talking about pill-shamers, they’re also spreading disinformation about their “mental illnesses” and claiming these drugs treat those “illnesses”. We got to this level of propagandization because people who’ve been harmed are silenced and called pill and treatment “shamers”. It’s an effective, if ruthless tactic.
It’s unfortunate that this tactic is used because many drugs, not just the psychiatric drugs, are largely harmful and cause other illnesses in the process of treating the target illness. When I tell people I avoided a Lipitor prescription by changing my diet, I largely get praise for the effort. But telling people you got off psych drugs draws blank stares from anyone who hasn’t done it themselves or supported someone who has. So you get support in the strangest places – like a nurse at the dog park who once took zyprexa and was thrilled to hear I wasn’t on the drugs anymore. Foreigners are also more likely to be supportive without putting their SJW pants on and counseling you on not pill shaming.
My best friend got off her drugs after seeing me do it. After stabilizing, she went back to college to advance her (already impressive) career. I’m so thrilled. What if I hadn’t been so forthright about the knowledge I’d gained about these drugs in order to spare her feelings?
Yes, Oldhead, pill shamers unite and spread the word. Eventually we’ll be louder than those who want us all to step it back a notch so they don’t get too overwhelmed with the feels to participate in the reality of the harmed masses. We can’t all be rich white ladies dictating to oppressed people what is acceptable discourse when discussing oppressive regimes like psychiatry and its drugs. I just don’t have any pearls to clutch when my dignity is offended by someone else speaking out about how they’ve been harmed.
Did you *actually* read the article? Your response suggests not. It’s primarily a push back *against* people who claim ‘pill shaming’ is a legitimate phenomenon. While we acknolwedge that it is largely unhelpful for people to say ‘all psych drugs are bad for all people’ and try to push people into getting off of them, I wonder how you could read lines like:
“At best, the underpinnings of the ‘pill shaming’ accusation are misguided. At worst, they represent a concerted effort on the part of the current power structure to use us against ourselves, and they don’t need any more help. Seriously.”
““We’re not pill shaming you. We’re just sick of watching people fucking die.”
“Speaking truth about bad science and psychiatric oppression does not equal ‘pill shaming.’”
And see this article as one that is supporting the ‘pill shaming’ concept overall.
Balance is important. So is actually reading what you seek to critique. :p
Removed at request of poster.
I have been holding off on commenting. But Sera, in what way is the field level anyway? As a pill shamer, I get called that a lot and get ganged up on,on social media. It’s usually in the same breath that stigma is used. I have long since reiterated that “I am shaming the psychiatrists”. The patients have nothing to do with it, they are doing what their doctor tells them to do. And as far as I’m concerned, “SHAME ON THEM”. They’re well aware of the hidden risks and the percentages. All they need is 25 patients to figure out what the major problems are with the drugs we’re discussing. The more we learn about these drugs and the more studies and BAKED studies that come out, the more dangerous these psychotropics get. We’re talking exponential growth on psychotropics. Ambilify is at 7 billion dollars a year.
You say I can’t just say “all drugs are bad”. They are!
The studies and the situation we have, right now proves this. Why shouldn’t I say all drugs are bad. And don’t give me the “withdrawal” and some can’t come off. I know this and I believe the doctors should fix what they have started and totally screwed up.
And the only way you stop this epidemic, is stop new prescriptions and demand that doctors fix the problem they started by getting a gentle process for withdrawals. We need the money funneled into societal issues: violence ignored, poverty, not enough good paying jobs, affordable housing, not mind altering drugs so they don’t recognize that the patient is not to blame for their own problems but it is one of a society’s wealth distribution.
Well, I’m pretty sure the point of the article is that the two sides are *NOT* equal, and that the ‘shame’ should be reserved for those who have the power and are doing the harm, etc. so there’s that…
And I guess you can say that ‘all drugs are bad for everyone’, but I personally don’t think it’s a useful or accurate statement… but yes, you get to make it. And no, I don’t think when you make it that makes you equal to those doing systemic harm or forcing people on drugs… But, I guess I’d ask that you consider what else is caught up in making such a blanket statement… Do you believe that we are the true experts on ourselves? Do you believe that we should get to choose whatever we feel helps us get by and make the most of our lives, provided its done freely and in fully informed ways? There’s several other questions I could add in here about disability, freedom to make choices, and all that, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll just say: If yes to those things – any of them – again, I just don’t know how you can then say ‘all drugs are bad for everyone all the time’… I think that is a harmful statement…
But in the end, the real point of this article was that the ‘pill shaming’ concept is a harmful one that is used by those in power to try and get us to undercut ourselves and each other.
Been reading along and not sure how to chime in, this was very layered and spoke to me in different ways. But this right here, Sera, what you say in this response, is the crux of it for me, and I like how you distilled it, that is most clear and I completely agree.
“the two sides are *NOT* equal, and that the ‘shame’ should be reserved for those who have the power and are doing the harm, etc.”
Yes, the shame belongs there because that is their weapon for causing fear/paranoia, creating disability, dividing and marginalizing people, and for fostering a general overall environment/society of oppression and discrimination. Shame is a tool very commonly used to control vulnerable people, and it is powerful until one is no longer vulnerable to it. I do think that’s possible, but it takes inner work, which is what shifts the power dynamic–first internally and then externally.
But if the industry and the individuals who have partaken in this feel shame, then it is for the purpose of waking up, so that they do no more harm. That is appropriate, I think, with an industry that will neither speak nor listen to reason, and turn away hard evidence, thousands upon thousands of personal testimonials, and all kinds of obvious truths in order to keep things good and vague and confused. It serves them and their agenda to do so. What else to do but to send that shame back from where it came? We’re against a wall otherwise, perpetually.
But to shame, judge, or criticize individuals for their life choices in such a complex society with all that goes on for a person that someone on the outside could hardly know, would amount to a blatant projection in my book. What else would it be when we shame others for their life choices, not the same as wanting to shame those who harmed or shamed us and others to begin with, and often as a casual and habitual, unconscious practice–which is REALLY scary.
But when it is peer to peer, it is harmful and divisive in every way–bad for one and all–and in opposition to creating positive change. It causes people even more suffering, last thing they need.
Holding a non-judgmental space for someone is the best way to help anyone through anything. They make the choices, and that’s how it should be. Talking it out, considering options, all good stuff. We all get to speak our truth, but in the end, it is that individual’s choice, and breaking the oppressive system would mean actually respecting and honoring that authentically and unconditionally, imo. And if one can’t, then they are no help to that person at all and should mind their own business. Takes courage for all parties concerned. Good thing to exercise, from time to time, I believe. That is healing.
Alex, check out Auntie’s brilliant expose above of how the term “pill-shaming” was coined and promulgated by the industry as a weapon again those who would hamper their profit making.
We need to understand that “pill-shaming” is not a real problem that arose from the grassroots, but a strategy to promulgate a McCathyesque division among AP ranks over “who are the ‘true’ pill-shamers”; we should reject the entire scheme as the diversion it is, and is meant to be.
Good point Oldhead. Best to reject and discard the whole notion/scheme/invalidity of “pill-shaming” along with the invalidity of the DSM labels.
“Pill-shaming” in and of itself is vague at best to me, which is why I did not use or refer to this specific phrase in my response to Sera.
What I am agreeing with her about is regarding the idea of imposing one’s personal belief (even if it is gospel truth) on another regarding how they address whatever is going on with them, when they are resisting hearing it. That has the potential to trigger all kinds of very bad feelings, and it can be violating and dehumanizing to a person to be invalidated for their personal choices in life, especially when this is due to a political agenda.
That’s more akin to status quo than it is to revolutionary change, because it is imposing beliefs on another, which is a kind of force, to my mind, and it can easily bring up shame, directly and indirectly. We have that already, and it’s rugged, not working. Time for change.
I think when a particular dynamic starts getting labeled as a general behavioral trend, such as the term “pill-shaming,” and it becomes a political tool, then the real issues alluded to and which are directly causing problems–in this case, the feeling of shame and judgments for one’s choices in life–falls by the wayside.
“Shame” is a destructive, toxic energy. It makes people sick and disoriented, and can lead to utter hopelessness and despair. That is suffering, caused by projections.
And I was especially agreeing with Sera that to shame a corrupt and relentlessly harmful industry in order to stop it from doing harm to others is not the same as shaming our peers. The first is impersonal and simply giving back what they have dished out–and we do want it obsolete, that’s the idea–while the latter is definitely personal and potentially wounding to someone trying to heal.
I’ve certainly felt shame projected at me in the past from my peers and that was actually for coming OFF psych drugs! I’ve been called a “pill-shamer” for talking about coming off the drugs, for relaying my experience of healing and coming into wholeness, and I’m not a shamer, that is not in my character. I’m too empathic for that, and it’s been done to me quite a bit, so I know the effort that it can be to get past that in order to stay on course with my life and in my clarity.
“Shame” is probably the most commonly unconsciously projected feeling, given how painful it is to carry. It makes all the difference to be able to discern it, even when it is subtle and insidious, all based on illusions and projected images.
I work with people who suffer with shame until I help them to put their experience in the context of their own lives and personal growth, and not go by outside judgment or social programming. That is how a person can take back their power. We know ourselves better than anyone else can know us, but a person has to believe this in order to live it and be free.
I talk about my experience so people know it is possible if that is what they are thinking about at that time, especially since in my case it was a lot and for a long time that I took these, and I survived the withdrawal and healed my body and fixed my life, back on track and moving forward again, with more ease than before because I learned what I needed to learn, getting far away from psychiatry.
I do have a before and after story which very strikingly brings to light the harms done by psychiatry and the absolute good it can do to get away from that (like night & day) and I can offer support on many levels, which people do take me up on.
But it can become disheartening and discouraging to be met with dismissiveness for one’s truth and personal experience because it does not match a political agenda. It’s why I said no to writing a blog here a long time ago.
I would like to see more sensitivity when people share their personal experiences and their version of truth, and I do believe I walk that talk. It’s always my intention to be respectful of anyone’s personal truth, even when mine is not the same. I believe it ALL matters, no exception, and somehow, it fits together as a whole.
That would be significant change in and of itself, to lighten up on others in this regard, and I have a feeling it would invite in more truth, clarity, and courage–the cornerstones of revolutionary change.
It is just like the different sides of “stigma.” On one hand, it could mean stereotyping, which is a form of bigotry, seeing us as incapable, disabled, and people that society should reject.
It could mean stigma against activists as Untreated MI.
It could mean “i’m a sicko and I’m proud of who I am.” The Mad Pride statement, which I have personally rejected. There’s always the additional “I need help” or “You should just put up with me.”
I don’t think it’s stigmatizing, but more like a fact to say, “We are all different and our differences shouldn’t mean some are set apart.”
Taking pills is a choice. I believe people should make the choice that’s right for them. For many of us, it means getting off pills. For some, getting off is going to be impossible. No one should make anyone feel ashamed for making the best choice.
I am especially shocked when some know-it-all who is decades younger than me says “I can do it, therefore you can.” How absurd and self-centered. I do appreciate a good success story, but let’s not overextend it to telling others what they should do based on our own experience.
I don’t believe that anyone deserves shame or has any reason to feel shame. It’s a fabricated tool of oppression, a program based on social norms–you either meet them or you’re out, and it will not be pretty!
That’s bullshit, we have more power than that as individuals and are free to evolve outside of any and all boxes, rules, and social programming, to be our true selves. If that is the message from the community, then it is oppressive, pure and simple. Middle class, for one thing…
Sound social norms would include flexibility and growth-oriented, rather than punishing and marginalizing. People who challenge norms are, one way or another, calling for change, and that should not be dismissed. Probably means that it is time. The more that is resisted, the more conflict will ensue, and shaming becomes part of that because it is a great way to inflict insidious pain and throw someone off their game.
Free will plus creativity make an extremely powerful combo, and really, the essence of who we are by nature. Both, pills AND shame, cut us off from our nature, so we will not be the fullest expression of who we are. And that is nothing to feel shame about, we’re all healing, growing, evolving at different rates, discovering new aspects of ourselves all the time. We learn as we grow. We also are free to make changes as we go, and it is most natural and common to do so.
It’s not a contest and there is no reason it should be competetive. Personal growth does not work that way, and it’s where people lose support, when it becomes a competition of who knows more than whom. That’s ego crap, not helpful. We know what we know, and there’s always more to learn. We can help each other this way, rather than to compete and put down when there is a disagreement.
“I do appreciate a good success story, but let’s not overextend it to telling others what they should do based on our own experience.”
I think that goes without saying but I’ve never seen anyone go that far. That’s extermely solipsistic. It’s just a matter of speaking our truth and sharing our experience with whatever insights we gained, and people choose what rings true to them and what does not. Anything more would be aggressive and counter-productive, I would imagine.
I’m sure KS read your article in its entirety. And I think at least some of what she is responding to is the idea that there can ever be “balance” when the reality is so obvious and so glaring.
My problem is not with “pill shaming” and ignoring it. Excellent point! And as far as I can see, Aunt Psychiatry is correct on how this all came about. I guess the “Stigma campaign” isn’t working. A lot more people are sharing their stories of what happens in the mental health arena.
My problem is with not seeing that the drugs are the problem. There can not be informed consent ever. The FDA and the drug companies have the FDA drug trial data along with privatized adverse effects list and the true percentages of all the side effects and that includes the suicide percentages, and accurate details of how data points were not included in the data set. Without transparency, informed consent is an illusion. Let’s face it, these toxins are the problem. The side effects create the serious mental illnesses. A side effect of mania ruined my life at one point and I hope to save as many lives as I can to never experience what I did and what the public doesn’t know is that anyone can experience this. The risk does not equal the reward and reward in this case is also an illusion. Do I believe that withdrawal treatment should be free. You bet. They caused the problem. They should fix it. Do I believe that people should have disability, yes and more resources to help them live and get it from Pharma, they caused it. They should pay.
We’re going to have to agree to disagree.
Requiring Big Pharma to shell out $1,000,000 to maintain each of the “mentally ill” brain trauma victims they have created would be a very good thing. Especially since it might force these unaccountable corporations to downsize and focus on medicines that help people. Instead of crippling and killing the formerly healthy. And ban the drug ads
I agree KS.
Many of us who have been damaged by these poisons–and know it–are shamed ALL the freaking time. I was shamed for a bad reaction to Anafranil and given the label “bipolar” for life. Psychiatrists love to punish their test subjects for suffering too visibly.
No offense toward Sera Davidow, but I wish our feelings (and ruined reputations and blighted lives) were taken into account more often. I don’t perceive this article itself as guilty in that respect though.
I don’t disagree with most of what people are saying in the comments section about ‘pill shaming’ (which includes pretty much anything that’s been said right up until it gets to the point where people start claiming that *every and anyone* who chooses to take them is wrong, deluded, and should be regarded as lesser than or what have you), and that was kind of why we wrote the article and have made buttons that we bring to conferences with the two of the three bolded quotes in the article (which were written by me, but inspired by conversations with Caroline). It’s just frustrating to see the finger pointed at us in these comments when there are so few articles pushing back on the ‘pill shaming’ concept and we worked pretty hard to write an article that pushed back on the silliness and harmfulness of ‘pill shaming’ in alignment with most of those comments and people aren’t taking the time to see that.
Hey Kindred Spirit,
I find it a little puzzling that you would say that the article shames people who have spoken out about the harms that psychiatric drugs have had on their lives. I am one of those people, and Sera Davidow invited me to take part of a project called “The Virtues of Non-compliance”, where I was able to speak some to the ways that SSRI drugs really wrecked my life and how I got “better” only by going off all of my medications. That project was made into a movie, “The Virtues Of Non-Compliance.” Sera was involved in another movie project called “Beyond the Medical Model.” I’d encourage you to check them both out.
I appreciate your passion, and want to acknowledge the harm that has been done to you. I do not believe that the spirit of this article is to take away from that. Both Sera and Caroline have written countless articles about the harms of psychiatric drugs and the lies that the pharmaceutical industry has perpetuated in order to defend them. They are both tireless advocates who have lifted up the voices of folks like myself, who have been irreparably harmed by the pharmaceutical industry. I have no doubt that if the causes and conditions came together in the right situation, they would lift your voice up as well. I have seen them work together to do this for countless people.
Kindred Spirit as well as many people are aware of Sera’s history, writings and accomplishments. Comments here are in regard to the content of this particular article. They are not personal attacks and don’t have to be “defended against” as if they were.
Thanks for your support here, Andylion. 🙂
Can’t believe what, Oldhead?
Sera and Caroline
This was a great blog that covered every aspect of this issue from every angle, including ALL the nuances that could be misunderstood and/or turned back on the authors.
It must be VERY frustrating when MIA commenters don’t take the time to read and consider the essential content of what you are struggling about here.
You correctly put the major onus and overall responsibility on the larger examples of systemic power and oppression.
We should NEVER EVER blame or shame anyone form the masses for taking, and/or becoming dependent on (or even addicted to), ANY mind altering substance. OR for using them simply as a means to better cope with a “sick” world and environment that surrounds them.
This oppressive world has so many ways to crush human resilience and render one’s coping mechanisms ineffectual, or just not enough to get by at any given moment.
In their lifetime some people may NEVER be able to move beyond some form of need or dependency on some type of drug, AND that makes them NO LESS of a person. Nor does it make them someone who cannot somehow contribute to making this world a better place, if they so choose to be a part of this struggle.
OF COURSE, in a ONE TO ONE conversation with someone, who was open to the idea of strengthening their coping skills, and/or becoming less reliant on mind altering drugs as a way to cope with the world, I would do my best to share more info on all the negative aspects of these drugs, and discuss (and sometimes even challenge them) about working on alternative ways to strengthen and add to one’s coping skills.
BUT in any public commentary or written statements, THIS is where we should focus ALL issues of blame, shame and responsibility on the “Powers That Be.” Call it, SHAMING AND BLAMING OUR OPPRESSORS and their entire profit driven, meat grinder of a System.
Thanks, Richard! I appreciate your taking the time – as always – to write such a detailed response. I’m in agreement fully that the shame should be on those who are using power to silence and withhold truth.. Particularly appreciating your last paragraph. 🙂
Well said, Richard.
Some people still want to be dismissive of this entire blog and topic – which has had a very long and educational discussion.
They want to deny that “pill shaming” can even exist within our movement against psychiatric abuse.
I think Julie Greene’s comment – https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/06/pill-shaming-phenomenon-whats-it-really-about/#comment-157622 – and reaction resonates strongly with my views on this topic.
I agree with you, Richard, except in one point: I think that Oldhead and Auntie Psychiatry are correct in saying we should not use the term “pill shaming,” as it was invented by and is continuing to be used by those in charge of the system to discredit any criticism. But the phenomenon of someone from an anti- or critical-psychiatry viewpoint acting in ways that effectively disempower those who are being victimized by the system or who are trying to sort out what to do does in fact occur and is harmful, and often gets into what seems like victim blaming. I just think we need a new name for it.
I think we do best when we recognize that people are where they are and that it’s not our job to “convert” people in low-power situations to our viewpoint, as it reinforces the idea that this person is foolish or incapable of making his/her own decisions with the right information. I do think we are responsible for educating anyone who is in any way receptive in the truth about these drugs, but it needs to be done in a way that respects their autonomy and power to make and live with the consequences of their own decisions.
They want to deny that “pill shaming” can even exist within our movement against psychiatric abuse.
Richard, you continue to use this scandalous term even when it has been thoroughly discredited by Auntie Psychiatry’s research, and you fall into the trap of treating it as a serious and systemic problem, when at most it (poorly) describes an unfortunate dynamic which may occur at times between individuals. If this were an ongoing problem within the AP survivor community it would have been raised, as we are nothing if not self-critical. We don’t need the Royal College of Psychiatry defining our issues. The term “pill-shaming” should be mocked and discarded, period. I believe even Sera agrees at this point.
“Again, this is a false issue and even discussing it as though it is otherwise falls into the Pharma trap.”
Oldhead, it was not I who initially mocked this entire blog with the statement:
“I can’t believe this. Pill Shamers Unite!!”
Regardless, what terminology we use (and I’m fine with letting Big Pharma and psychiatry own “pill shaming” here on in) the issue of some psychiatric survivors experiencing “shame” (within the movement) for still using some kind of psychiatric drug, DOES EXIST. And your denial of this issue, only contributes to this phenomena.
Sera and Caroline’s blog only dealt with this issue as one SMALL PART of their overall message, but grasping this particular aspect IS important to thoroughly understanding the totality of their nuanced analysis of the “pill shaming” phenomena.
Again, there IS NO “pill shaming phenomena.” THAT is what I was mocking, not Sera, and will continue to mock, and encourage others to mock, and I don’t think Sera & I are far apart on this; furthermore, this is a survivor issue.
You also know very well that this was introduced to create division among survivors and AP people, yet continue to address it as though it were a reflection of serious concern for our feelings on the part of the Royal College of Psychiatry (rather than concern that people might be influenced to stop using their drugs). I know you’re not that naive.
Did I say something different than that? I thought I agreed with you on that point previously. Or is this a response to someone else?
Matter of fact I’m in the mood for doubling down. One of my earliest MIA comments 5 years ago was to a blog about adolescence by Laura Delano, who was still working at MIA. I said then:
I think that young people are sophisticated enough, and cynical enough (in a good way) that they will respond in a positive way to the way you explain things. My strategy if I were you would be to promote an attitude among youth that, just as signing up lemming-like at the recruiting station to kill for america, inc. is not “cool,” neither is pressuring one’s peers to submit themselves to the orwellian machinations of what you very aptly label the “psychiatric/pharmaceutical industrial complex.”
Remembering this post brought me again to the conclusion that it is a GOOD thing for there to be peer pressure among youth regarding the use of psychiatric drugs. It needn’t be cruel. But something is needed to counter the idea that flaunting a psychiatric label or taking their drugs is “cool,” and it makes sense that this should come from within the ranks of youth themselves. And in the end hurt feelings are better than brain damage. So the more Sir Hooey & Co. try to employ their PR machinations to hook kids on neurotoxins the more disdain for their tactics we are compelled to convey.
I agree completely that confronting propaganda and sharing factual knowledge is essential for changing the system, and that is sometimes going to be uncomfortable for some people. I’ve certainly been accused of “pill shaming” or “being biased” or “not sharing both sides” many times in the past, and it does not deter me from sharing the information. I do think that “peer pressure” plays a big role in how people decide things, and knowing that there is someone who questions this paradigm and has data to back it up can be a big game changer for some people.
The only point I want to emphasize is that this kind of work has to be done with a sensitivity to the potential backlash for some people who are very committed to believing in the paradigm for whatever reason. Again, if it is a professional, I have no problem “shaming” them when they are using their power to do harm. I feel different about how to approach a person who has been a believer in this system from a “service user” point of view. I think it’s important to find out where the person is and how much they are able to process to avoid unnecessary pain and confusion. That doesn’t mean not to share the truth with such a person. It just means it’s important to do it in a way that is at least marginally digestible given their present viewpoint. It has been a path for many of us to get here, and it’s sometimes way too easy for those of us farther down the path to think that the truth is obvious, and to forget that we were once farther back along that path and that it took time and patience and multiple experiences for us to get to where we are today. And it’s also important to remember that others’ paths may look different than ours. We don’t want psychiatrists and “mental health” workers to assume we’re all the same – we ought to make sure not to do that to ourselves.
Removed for moderation.
Steve — My comment above that you reacted to was addressed to Richard, not you.
Sorry, my bad!
You make some excellent points.
Here’s the thing: I watch my friends and family go underwater when they “take the pills.” Maybe it helps them cope. It doesn’t mean I love them any less, but they take the pills, and I see them go further and further from the shores of community, emotional availablility, and closer to impulsivity, lack of empathy, and inability/disability. I watch them estrange their friends and family “I FEEL FINE!” as they forge their way into this drug-brain way of coping.
Meanwhile I watch the toxins destroy their digestive system, endocrine system and cognitive function. Is it any wonder I’m standing on the shore jumping up and down and maybe even screaming “NNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!”
So – okay, yes, I love these people and respect their ill informed choice to take these drugs. But – there is a duty of care of the people giving them out. “Do you know that once you start taking this drug, you may never be able to get off it again?” “Do you know that if your insurance plan or pharmacy changes suppliers of this drug that you might have a withdrawal meltdown?” “Do you know that this can contribute to mysterious long term disorders that we call ‘fibromyalgia,’ ‘chronic fatigue,’ ‘metabolic disorder,’ diabetes, and dementia?” And be sure and be aware that – if you do develop these disorders, it will be blamed on your diagnonsense, or you will be told that the metabolic disorder, diabetes, is your fault, and you need to “lose weight” or “take action” or even take more drugs to treat it? And that “we don’t really know what causes dementia”?
Sure, I respect my loved ones’ choices to go skydiving, join the military, tightrope walk between skyscrapers, climb mountains, or overtrain their bodies with ultra-marathons. Sometimes they really believe in this – and I watch as they return from Afghanistan “not the same.” Or have a complete endocrine or autoimmune meltdown induced by overtraining. And sometimes these things provide pleasure and amazing excitement. Sometimes creating drama does that, too. But as I’ve aged, I’ve learned that – those things which shorten your life, damage your system, deplete your *mana* (for lack of a better word) – will make you die younger and in much more distress – sooner.
So – is it shaming them to say, “Don’t do it!!!!” “COME BACK!” “I miss you!!!!” ? ? ?
I still respect their choices – what choice do I have? The balance is – how do I keep from chewing myself up inside as I watch their inevitable destruction? (note: friends and family, we have the opportunity to watch, over decades, their decline. People on the internets – not so much. People in your life: decades. And the results are visible.)
To empathize with your statement, and I do incredibly, having seen many friends, and then also a whole society, disabled by the allure of believing the way psychiatric drugs disable your mind is some sort of bliss, which it isn’t. To be a social worker, no matter how wise to the truths of psychiatric drugs, and be there to sit and give someone the chance to safely in an office make them feel special to spill out their feelings, this is starkly different than having to deal with that person as a family member or a friend, and see their lives fall apart.
It’s absolutely harrowing. Regularly, when a friend of mine ended up being institutionalized, this made me “psychotic,” being so in turmoil, I couldn’t hear the little voice inside my own head anymore, that might help me to not get blown out of balance by the whirlwind of ridiculously hard liner behavior encountered at the asylums. But I guess that’s it, that little voice is there, and it only becomes stronger when you finally hear it.
But it’s absolutely harrowing, because if you have seen a person go out of balance, and really have compassion with that, and then you see that they are stringently bullied into being made to believe that the harsh intrusions into their civil liberties and their own body chemistry is their salvation; that while you had compassion with what was going on with them to begin with, knowing THAT isn’t going to help; and then you get the person eventually possibly as a survival instinct take on such lies; that’s already three different winds blowing in different directions creating a turmoil that would blow anyone out of balance it seems; and two of the winds in stark contrast to the logical movement the first was trying to allow.
Maybe just detaching and blessing their path is the answer, because any rational discourse becomes bate for more of a feeling they are being attacked. Then maybe they might find their own path, their own inner voice.
But having to deal with a family member or a friend going through all of this, and seeing with wide open eyes in real time, daily without the safety of it being a “professional” relationship, what that person is going through that’s a bit different than framing your thoughts with the anesthesia of I-don’t-know-so-I’ll-agree-with-them.
Because it’s not about whether they are on drugs or not, and if they mimic such jargon, that’s what they are doing, repeating what they were told and equating a disabled state with happiness.
Because the bliss isn’t in taking the drugs, it’s in going one step further and letting into the light whatever they were hiding from to take such disabling agents, because THEN they would see that it’s OK, somehow.
Why people hold onto such guilt in order to create a whole society which banks on it, as if it’s some holy commodity, some pot of gold at the end of a rainbow of ideology that gives them the means to buy entrance into VAST illusions of being part of the gang and the glories thus offered!?
It’s just a shadow, the real glory would be letting go.
Close friends and family members (or clients you’re trying to help on a one to one basis) are a different matter all together than making general public statements. either written or verbal.
I think we should find any, and all, opportunities to educate and help people (close friends, family, and clients) become less reliant on and/or drug free, for all the reasons you stated.
Like any personal (or sensitive subject) we should tread lightly and be mindful of how much these people can handle challenging subjects, or whether or not we have real open and honest avenues of dialogue between us.
We must bear in mind that most people already feel “less than” because they are on these drugs, and also usually have a demeaning label to go with it. Some will even hide their drug taking from us because they know our strong views (regarding negative effect etc.) on the subject. And they may fully agree on an intellectual level.
But there are some people who get down to one drug (from a big cocktail) and just can’t seem to get off that last small dose. They may function overall quite well otherwise with few related medical issues. They have to proceed at their own pace on these questions and NEVER be made to feel less than because they are still not drug free.
But ALL public blame and shame (even with people with serious drug problems) should be directed at the profit driven capitalist system and the class of people who run it. It is THEY and THEIR SYSTEM that have created the material conditions (trauma, stress, violence war etc.) that cause people to be so alienated, stressed out, and just plain unable to cope with this oppressive environment.
Again, this is a false issue and even discussing it as though it is otherwise falls into the Pharma trap.
I think Auntie Psychiatry has exposed the truth — including the “smoking gun” — of how this pseudo-issue was deliberately concocted by honchos within the psych system, and I think we should simply stop repeating and discussing the term, period.
Thank you Nijinsky
I have read and re-read your comment over the past 24+ hours, drinking in the learning you are offering me.
The biggest blessing for me is this: “Maybe just detaching and blessing their path is the answer, because any rational discourse becomes bate for more of a feeling they are being attacked. ”
Yes, and yes. Blessing their path/s (because I’m speaking of many people, not just this one or that one).
I’m going to add – because we don’t live in a very kind society – the element of empathy, compassion, kindness.
I’ll give an example from real life.
One of my friends is declining again. He says, “It’s a medical issue” and has started self harming again, drinking again, ruminating again, having suicidal ideation, extreme fatigue. He is working in a cafe, about 20 hours a week, despite massive brain damage* from 30 years on the drugs. He has stress from this job, but being a poor American on disability, needs to work. But there is nothing left over for him. He cried to me, saying, “This feels medical! I am going to report these 10 things to my psychiatrist…”
Fortunately, the psychiatrist is a good one. I was terrified that it would escalate into hospitalisation or further drugging. But the doctor has been treating him for decades now, and knows that a hospital bill or drug change would only increase the stress.
What the p-doc said was this: “You’ve gained weight. Have you checked on your diabetic / blood sugar status? You cannot keep doing bad things (drinking, etc.) and expect to feel better.” So p-doc advised him to lose weight and start monitoring blood sugar (again – he had full blown diabetes about 10 years ago but embarked on an extreme exercise program – ultra-marathons – and fully recovered = not diabetic until just recently).
Since the last diabetic episode, my friend developed auto-immune disorder (about 5 years ago), severe cognitive struggles, and damaged eyesight from 30 years on Seroquel (and other drugs)… He has been able to lose weight since developing the Hashis, but at some point, the Seroquel is going to say no.
My “Shaming voice of righteous indignation,” says, “Well, that’s all fine and well for the p-doc to tell you to lose weight and mind your blood sugar when he’s giving you drugs which induce metabolic disorder and diabetes….Don’t be disappointed if you cannot lose weight this time – I know you’ve done it before, but at some point, your body is just going to say ‘no.'”
Kindness would stay silent, encourage him in his efforts to stop drinking, quitting smoking, whatever it is that’s “not helping.” (I think Will Hall calls this “Harm Reduction.”) and just listen. Wait. See how it goes. Maybe this time isn’t the time when the body says “there’s only so much you can achieve while drugged.” Maybe he’ll be fine for another 5 years, 10 years, 1 year. My righteous indignation serves no purpose (except to burn at me, and hurt him).
If, then, this is the time when he can no longer lose weight, no longer control the diabetes (Metformin was mentioned, which is a scary drug to add to neuroleptics!), then I say, with my compassionate voice, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ve had a good run. You know these drugs induce metabolic disorder, and you’ve beaten it before, but maybe this time it’s too much for your body to take. Be kind to yourself, make do with the best you can.”
Even that will hurt, but there will come a point where he is slamming against a brick wall. I know I will get push back from even this, “There’s diabetes in my family!” (they are all drugged)
So I bless his path, and pray in sorrow.
I learned a Buddhist meditation the other night. Breathing in suffering, breathing out peace and calm. I can breathe in my own suffering, or the suffering of another. I did this for him. It may not make him feel any better, but it helped me.
* a measured 45 point IQ loss! The “brain damage specialist” claims that this is from an automobile accident when age 16, but I have known him since that age, and watched the decline in lock step with the neuroleptic drugs. NOBODY at the brain damage clinic mentioned neuroleptics as a possible contributing factor to this measured, diagnosed brain damage.
I have had the same kind of friends, and all I can say is you can actually detach from them, and find that in doing so, you actually are not passing judgment on them, and are practicing that over-used word forgiveness.
Maybe it’s just a lesson they have to learn in having demands, and believing they need help in their lives, and they have to go through the whole process of seeing how all of their demands are doing the opposite of helping them.
It’s real easy for anyone to look at their lives and decide what’s wrong with it and start making demands, and then even find people willing to fulfill those demands (especially if they get money for it, or are made out to be charitable good people); but it’s another thing to detach from all of that, and actually see what’s there, or what ends up be allowed to materialize when you stop demanding something you think you need, because something that you never dreamt of could be allowed entrance instead.
I just reread what you posted, and it sounds like you can’t put it on the line logically with your friend, for example mention that the diabetes and weight come from the “medications.” And then you said he started drinking again, that he smokes, that he’s self harming and has suicidal ideation. Honestly, I get so tired of “society,” and everything I see around me, that I understand someone with suicidal ideation, but how are you ever going to find out what could be there instead, how will you ever find out whether there’s some amazing solution to your problems just around the corner, and that that’s what the Universe does, as soon as you show a little patience, tolerance, and endurance, and trust?
Some people just are relentless in focusing on what’s supposed to be different in their life, and why they are victims to that. The same thing, is that people that REALLY have if difficult, like those surviving off of 2 dollars or less a day in a developing country, having to work in a sweat shop or worse, living in a highly toxic environment and having none of the luxuries of life we have, THEY often see beauty and value in the simple things we’ve lost as a “society.”
And being seen as crazy? I was highly involved with spiritualism years ago, and experienced truly amazing things that changed my whole perception of reality, but then you come back to society, and even the mediums themselves, and they have such limitations that their “reality,” is more psychotic than anyone with “schizophrenia,” so I went and studied spiritual healing. Come and find that there was a man named Gene Egidio, and he as a child in the late 30s simply had a gift, and healing would happen, and he would know things the world would say are impossible to; but then the Catholic Church got involved, and thought he was demon possessed; quite a few psychiatrists even thought there was nothing wrong with him when he was brought to them because the Priest had said he needed “help”, but then one who was “Catholic,” enough decided that Gene was “delusional,” because he saw colors around people (now called auras), and also that the Devil had given him special gifts; and with shock therapy the Devil might release his hold on Gene because the Devil would not like those unpleasant feelings shock therapy brought about. Supposed serious “religious” science. Gene was put in an asylum as a young child, and had shock therapy once a week; and then subsequently became normal (and he jokes about being Mr. normal afterwards); until his life supposedly fell apart later on in life, and he lost everything; but then the healing started happening again, you see, although at first when it started happening he thought he had gone crazy. He ended up helping countless people, which he talks about in the video I share a link to below. I had something chronic Gene helped me with, and he still helps me to this day, every day actually, even though he passed away in 2009. But when Gene’s life fell apart, he could have seen himself as a victim, but something else happened, you see.
You can hear Gene tell his whole story about what he went through as a child, and then what happened later, he starts his story himself 12 minutes into this video:
But you see, beyond being a victim, beyond someone’s life falling apart, there’s something else there, beyond all of the fears, beyond all of the despair, beyond all of the hopelessness; and although it’s “crazy,” to believe something invisible beyond the world’s limitations is there, you might find that it is; and the whole “tragedy,” was really just there to show you what’s there beyond it.
People are full of demands, and relentless about it, and determined in believing others have to see that as what needs attention, and then when they’ve created a whole following to do battle, they think they are happy. Maybe happiness is something else, and doesn’t have such limitations?
Hey Nijinsky – the Gene Edigio story is amazing (I’m about halfway through the video) thank you for sharing.
Did he ever lay hands on you? Can you describe what that was like?
My friend, I don’t think he’s about “demands,” but – learned helplessness. He’s learned that the docs think they can fix him, so he goes to them first. (this is true of a lot of my friends and medical doctors, too – when there is a simpler solution often available).
The media says, “Ask your doctor,” your peers and social support tell you to “ask your doctor.” One becomes conditioned over a lifetime to “Ask your doctor,” even though that’s not always the best course (and sometimes, as in the case of psychiatry, is a harmful course.)
He is very dear to my heart, we’ve been friends since 1986, so I wont’ be letting go of the friendship. Instead, it’s an internal letting go, of saying to myself, “Bless your path, dear heart.” I think it’s too late for him to escape, now that he’s lost his brain, as well. If a kindly Doctor Breggin found him, and could help him off the drugs safely, under medical supervision, it would be good.
But the truth is, these resources are not available to very many people – and the hard core do-it-yourselfers have the wherewithal to be disciplined and careful (as is needed).
A pleasure to make your acquaintance. Bless your path, too, and may our paths cross again. If you want to get better acquainted by email, you can find me at https://shamanexplorations.com
Maybe the devil wanted to see Gene tormented through shock therapy. *Eye roll.*
A lot of supposedly religious folk will sell out to pseudo science when it fits their purposes. Like when some church goers argued eugenics to exploit other ethnic groups. Since eugenics presupposes evolution–not arguing that here–but the 19th century church did not, they decided God created whites in His own image. But other people evolved from apes. (Nowadays scientists say “a common ancestor.” I’m talking about Victorian science.)
I’m glad you get something out of Gene’s work, because some people still think it’s “crazy,” I never saw Gene but for a phone healing session. And then nothing much happened, to tell you the truth, except he said something, blirted it out actually, that I didn’t understand. A friend of mine had bought his open eye meditation Video, and I had watched that. Theres a lady, Catherine Oxenburg, that comes lilting onto the Video introducing Gene, and she says he’s one of the nicest people she’s ever met, and relays how many people he’s helped in many countries. But there was apparently another “energy” going on, because just before I had my phone session with Gene, I was looking at a painting I made, and there was something interesting camoflaged in the painting, and then I heard Catherine Oxenburg’s voice in my head, quite sing song say: “you’ll miss him,” almost as if if she was advertising something I would doubt (which I didn’t at all) or that it was more her advertising that was important. I relay all of this, because in the interlope it became really important.
To begin with Gene never said that he healed people, but that he helped them heal themselves. Anyhow, when I had the phone session with Gene, and I had only started to mention that I heard a voice, or something like that, and he immediately blirted out: “that’s not you,” and then went on. I actually didn’t know what he meant, and even wondered whether he was criticizing me painting, which he certainly wasn’t. Well. Years later, I did acquire a physical problem. I got prostatitas, and it can really bog you down when it’s active, and has other unpleasant side effects I won’t get into. So, I felt I should have another phone session with Gene. This was around 2001. I talked to his secretary, I would first have to write out a check, and then they’d let me know when I could call in (he then had one day of the week when he did phone session, I think); I had actually written out the check, and was going to send it in, but then I decided to watch his open eye healing video, and it did help me go to sleep. That is how the healing often happens with Gene, and as I was falling asleep I somehow knew that the physical problem would go away. In retrospect it’s an amazingly curious memory, almost as if you’re falling into an amazing lake of energy, of consciousness, something that can take away all pain and suffering, but then also dissolves the ego which is scary to most people, so you have to be pushed into it a bit because you might hesitate otherwise, or simply be allowed to be a bit out of balance in order to fall into it. In Gene’s meditation CD he tries to get you to see that at night while asleep the higher self is more awake and attends the schools of thought (perhaps where the word University comes from, which comes from Uni Verse, One song). You see, even while I’m typing this, I have in my head what I want to do, and when I’ve done it, then I have a feeling of satisfaction, as well as the drive to do it; in that other realm that’s not quite the same, whether you expand into something beyond that or you gain perspective that something beyond your ego’s ability to take control is creating an amazing harmony that was there the whole time or whether it’s dream time, it’s simply different. When I woke up the problem was gone, I could feel it, and it has stayed away. When I looked inside my soul, or whatever my spirit, my imagination would tell me about where I went to or what happened when the healing occurred, I saw that I went someplace where everything I would think is unforgivable about myself was washed away. I think one could scientifically call that Heaven, because I’ve heard from people with Near Dear experiences that our judgments of others simply don’t hold in Heaven, that they are impossible, and that would begin with how we judge ourselves. You could also go into quantum Physics, things like the uncertainty principle, how there’s entanglement, which might point out that different points of a matrix of time resonate with each other, or what is a photon that it doesn’t age and can’t be destroyed while having no mass; but if there’s any resonance with different points in time, when time becomes multidimensional rather than our belief that it’s linear (something our imagination can fathom while our physical senses only see on point in time ever), and if communication itself depends on photons or other subatomic particles that remain wave patterns, or other wave patterns such as sound, as well as particles; this all might be pointing out that there’s a perfection in what happens in life, and that when we judge people or anything at all with our ego, that we’re interfering, while we could look past our judgments and in seeing the resonance with time that gives meaning to everything allow what we wanted in the first place to emerge, rather than perpetuating what we didn’t thinking we’re fixing it and must be in control or the world will fall apart, which it consequently in the end does. That all might sound quite complicated, but I’m just trying to say something different than that Heaven is guarded by Saint Peter, and there’s an old man with a beard and a gavel waiting to see if you’re worth being allowed to enter, often supposedly depending on whether you subscribed to certain beliefs giving you such rewards rather than the beliefs add up in themselves at all.
What’s interesting also is that Catherine Oxenburg has had a big problem because she introduced her daughter into a cult in 2011, and her daughter got stuck there. Her daughter is out of it now, though. I just saw that their planning a whole “Lifetime” move about it. And I’m just mentioning it, because when I tried to say something about hearing her sing song voice advertising Gene, he IMMEDIATELY blirted out: “that’s not you,” because he could feel that something was taking away my ability to allow my own quiet inner voice make the right decisions for me. Even when it was advertising him. Catherine Oxenburg is a really caring person, and can only be commended to have been interested in something as amazing as Gene, but that’s more than image or even physical healing or getting something in life. Or advertising what’s “the best,” and the most high quality like a Pepsi commercial or whatever item, commodity or issue used to promote a person’s celebrity, or the other way around. And there’s no comparison between what Gene Egidio did and this cult Catherine Oxenburg introduced her daughter into. I could go on quite awhile about Hollywood people myself, but never mind. And I hadn’t said ANYTHING about what the voice said, who it sounded like, all I had said was that I heard a voice, and he blirted out: “that’s not you,” and then continued. But when I did get the healing, and it was without having first a phone session, that again strengthened that I have it within myself.
And to go back to the topic up there, the headline, I don’t think that’s pill shaming to somehow get a person to see they have it within themselves. I don’t think it’s pill bullying, it’s not pill stigmatizing, I don’t think it’s having a plot against the drug companies, it’s simply finding out what it is to be human, which has more “crazy” in it than is usually allowed.
Rachel777 I wasn’t even making that up as part of a plot in a movie with an evil psychiatrist, a Catholic psychiatrist actually thought that giving Gene (as a child) shock therapy (which he had for a year one a week as an inmate of an asylum) would loosen the devil’s grip on Gene, because the Devil wouldn’t like the sensation of the shock therapy, and then Gene could have a good life, rather than turning into an evil person. His parents even tried to explain this to him, that he might supposedly become a horrible person otherwise, something Gene didn’t want to become, other than that having no understanding at all of what this was all about, as if he could. He was just a child. And his parents didn’t know exactly what kind of torture he went through in the asylum, because the asylum managed to always make Gene look a bit presentable when they visited him.
It just goes to show how wrong humans can be when they think that because in their minds they can add up what they believe is a construct of cause and effect, that such a construct is then true, and they’re safe. There HAS to consequently be something else beyond that, beyond such duality.
Njinsky I know it wasn’t a movie. I wish it were.
Totally stupid. And, as others have pointed out, beating someone over the head with a wooden ball bat can have similar benefits.
I remember reading a report by Dr. Abrams about how some institutionalized people were cured of “schizophrenia” by accidentally spilling boiling water on themselves. The only reason psychiatrists have not tried boiling water is it would be hard to cook up some sciencey sounding gobbledy-gook to establish how they ARE SO REAL DOCTORS! 😛
Thanks so much for this– and yes, really, really well written.
All I could add is that pill shaming is really insidious and tacitly seductive. My personal belief is that most of the “acceptable” ideas about psychiatric medication are pretty much backwards– benzos and even opiates are generally less harmful than newer drugs, like SSRIs and ‘atypical’ antipsychotics, which are supposed to be safer.
But when I talk about this to friends and colleagues, I do get pretty worked up about it– and I have had friends and paraprofessionals who take SSRIs, and have found them helpful, warn me that the way I’m making my point sounds the hell of a lot like pill shaming, even though that’s not what I intend. This usually results in a fair amount of back-pedaling by yours truly… “I’m really sorry if I misspoke; I think I’ve said previously that I don’t see as many side effects with Lexapro and that you’re taking a very low dosage, and that I don’t have all the answers.”
Shaming didn’t get me to stop smoking cigarettes and weed and drinking alcohol. Even if I did want to get my friends to stop taking SSRIs– and I generally don’t, because the few friends I have who have stayed on them do seem to take the ones that generally seem have fewer harms and take them in lower doses– shaming would be the WORST way to do that.
Thanks again. Great stuff!
It’s harder than quitting booze or cigarettes. Harder than quitting heroine even. Because your “dealer” has the legal ability to hunt you down, lock you up, and torture you for “just saying no.”
The courts defer to the dealers and their mobster cronies (Pfizer, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, etc.) buy all our politicians. Sickening!
I do hope that you hear (and I can’t quite be sure from what you’ve written) that we ultimately really don’t want to create an environment where ‘pill shaming’ is lingo that is put upon people, or that the people who’ve been harmed, forced, etc., carry the burden of needing to worry too much about making people who do take psych drugs uncomfortable. Ultimately, we want an environment where all the truths are able to be spoken without any back pedaling… One where we stop short of blanket statements about all drugs being bad and all people who take them being bad, wrong, misguided, ignorant, etc (we need not diagnose each other any more!)… but where we speak truth and get to express our anger at all the bad science and pushing of drugs that come at us without anyone trying to undercut us by calling us ‘pill shamers’ because in the end pretty much all the force and power in this society is on the side of those who push the drugs on us. So, yeah, agendas and blanket statements and intentionally trying to tell other people they’re bad for not choosing the way you have chosen isn’t generally helpful (and, as you say, doesn’t typically move people toward where you’re actually trying to move them even if it *would* be useful to them to move in that way), but I hope you get to continue to speak your truth with all the passion and anger you hold and without needing to back pedal. 🙂
I have to say that this was one of the most shocking things to encounter, once I ventured forth into what goes on in places that seem to at an institutional level be there to support someone who is marginalized.
My mind reels just thinking where to start.
Having to deal with people in charge that are on medications, and thus apologetic to not only the system that put them on it, but keep their inability to be articulate maintained by the pills, which modulates into their administrative powers, and having to deal with them for the most basic things such as that money goes to mundane situations already there that will help rather than grandiose schemes towards something that hasn’t even been really started yet but has this glorious sheen to it.
Can you feel my mind reeling with that loooooooooooooooong sentence I just wrote, trying to say something?
And that I, thanks to mindfreedom, actually knew the truth about psychiatric drugs, and could state that as fact; the same as you might say that alcohol makes you drunk, that adapting to the fashion around you won’t magically make you a good human being nor that that’s pride, and all the rest of it, and wanted to share that to find out I can’t say the truth about psychiatric drugs in any positive vital way, which I was doing in order to help people, but that it’s then pill shaming.
I was totally shocked. I heard then that the head of the organization – a different one from the one that needed a gleaming glory before money was considered to help – had children on antidepressants, and she was on them, and this was because her husband had committed suicide; and all of a sudden the truth about anti-depressants had become something that insults a family with grief when their father/husband had committed suicide. I didn’t say anything about perhaps being able to deal with sadness or hopelessness rather than dousing it with ant-depressants might have prevented suicide. Real statistics again have another story about anti-depressants. And then she said someone at the drop in center was just crying all the time when she was off of her anti-depressants so she had seen bad results, I was so horribly naive as to suggest they have a get together to help people get off of their psychiatric medications, No she couldn’t approve that. Later I found out who this other person was, someone that was really nice (energetic, positive), but more like the celebrities in Hollywood that can’t tell the difference between playing social games and real issues, and so go bouncing around in the spotlight. I can imagine she would start crying would her bubble burst, not that I really know what was going on with her.
It’s still shocking and overwhelming to remember the kind of response I got, just to report the truth about psychiatric drugs. And the extreme resentments. Simply stating the truth or wanting there to be a facility to help people would they want to come off their medications (I had suggested a get together to help people get off of their medications, I hadn’t said forced, or coerced); that was turned into sarcastic statements like:
“I’m not going around saying no one should take psychiatric medications.”
And that’s what gets me:
Psychiatric drugs correlate with an extreme spike in what they say they are healing.
There’s no conclusive proof they are treating a chemical imbalance but there is that they are creating one.
They are consistently forced on people without real informed consent, while being made out to be treating a chemical imbalance rather than honestly reported to be causing one.
They correlate with suicides, violence, causing car accidents (that’s hardly reported), homicide, loss of life expectancy, an enormous list of side effect, etc. etc.
But when in total they according to statistics based on whether someone has adapted to a society which doesn’t care to honestly report all of that above: when they “help” even then really only a minority of the people on such drugs; one has to start there, or you’re “pill shaming.”
And it continued when I got involved with the anti-psychiatry stuff. I had never had facebook, but mindfreedom had a shield action, so I signed up for facebook, to get more involved. Right away someone else from that action started private messaging me, then she wanted to talk on the phone, and I thought I could help someone struggling against the mental health barriers. She’s call me all the time, and wanted to get me involved with other stuff she was busy with. Again I couldn’t express the truth, which again becomes almost too much to get into dealing with someone who seems to be a victim of the fact that she could heal, because of what she’d have to give up that’s lacking when she’s not a victim anymore. And they have it all regulated, they need their pills as maintenance because they were a victim to ever being put on them, and if you actually step into the amazing labyrinth of possibility beyond all of that, would they give their mind the freedom to do what it does without such disabling….
I’ll be honest that I’m having a hell of a time figuring out whether a lot of these comments (not just yours) are misunderstanding our article and criticizing/attempting to educate us, or if they’re just riffing on their own take on things. In any case, as someone who has spent literal years, writing, training, and making films about the lack of real evidence of ‘chemical imbalance’ any any number of other elements to do with the psychiatric system, you’ll get no argument from me for most of what you say. And yet, I’m not going to argue with people who say that they want to be on psych drugs and that they’re somehow helpful to them. Pretending I know someone else’s truth – everyone else’s truth – is not something I’m willing to do. It’s a replication of the system that we fight against… I’d rather live in the ‘I don’t know’, so long as we also get to be really clear that the psychiatric system also clearly don’t know either and shouldn’t get to pretend that they do.
I was just simply going over how shocking it was to have studied the real science about psychiatric drugs, and thinking that one could talk about that openly.
It IS disturbing when you see someone’s behavior influenced by psychiatric drugs, but you can’t say anything about it without being called a pill shamer. When someone is drunk, you can say that.
And when a social worker is jumping to conclusions making very bigoted diagnosis of people feeling free to misinterpret anything they do thanks to her suspicions and the DSM, and she’s on anti-depressants and also a tranquilizer, one can’t say anything about that either.
Most people in an asylum can’t say anything either.
Many people ward of the state, the same.
Many people with the wrong family, or part of the wrong church, or institution, or what have you, the same.
I’ve learned one can’t argue with someone on psychiatric drugs, just like you can’t argue with a hardened alcoholic, and that maybe you can engage with them in a conversation where the deep emotional wounds are let out, and they might then be able to see themselves what they are doing; but that doesn’t mean I’m not aware how the drugs are influencing them, and disabling their reactions and ability to relate to their own behavior, or history, or inner world. At a certain level of articulateness, psychiatric drugs just disable the mind too much. And that’s scientific. That doesn’t mean I judge those people and try to argue with them about something that they aren’t going to be able to deal with. That I’ve learned.
It’s quite interesting that most of the historical figures called a genius have been labeled with one or other disorder that’s supposed to be drugged, rather than that “disorder,’ was their mind actually being able to relate to reality one step beyond society’s approval and accepted norms and truths.
It’s quite mind boggling that these psychiatrists with help of the DSM are going to improve people who have tended to the well being of the human mind for centuries, that while causing a never before seen epidemic with the treatments prevalent (and not prevalent then).
I’ve really just learned how to detach myself. And it’s not like I completely avoid people on psychiatric drugs. Someone who’s a hard liner for some ideology can be way more disabled in their thinking, and hopelessly so; but that’s what’s so sad about people on psychiatric drugs. With a different approach (which statistics has shown and science backs up), they could have found the strength to really break free of such programming completely, rather than disabling their mind when their dissent becomes uncomfortable and they don’t understand it, nor are given any help in understanding it, just those pills that disable their mind.
And it’s a real shame. Because they are amazing people.
And I’m not going to make an object out of some fill in the blank “symptom” that the psychiatric drugs supposedly tend to, all qualified by a diagnosis that’s not scientific, that while those drugs are causing a chemical imbalance. I might try to help a person see that they aren’t a victim, and what they think is a symptom is really just their mind trying to point something out, and when looked at closer unlocks reflexes in the subconscious that were getting in the way of their personal growth.
If they have difficulty with that, they might like the psychiatric drugs disabling the mind, just like others self medicate, or the other indulgences. I won’t judge that, I won’t argue with them about that as if it’s the main issue, and I certainly won’t try to shame them about it (or any of a number of other behavior I’m supposed to shame them about), because it’s completely understandable, but I’m not going to say it’s a treatment that in the end is helpful to them aided by all of the false premises of diagnosis, chemical imbalance, genetics and social norms. I’ll make the space for them to go deeper and more logically into what’s going on. And if they don’t like it, God Bless it. It’s their life.
Yeah, I think that’s very true: That one can’t argue with someone on psych drugs. I’ve been incredibly frustrated many times by seeing people who are shaking, falling down, etc. and are just at least appearing to be regurgitating what they’ve been fed for so long that this is what ‘recovery’ looks like for them and they’re doing so well (because they’re not getting in trouble)… I regularly share in trainings that there is usually a small group of people that seem to do better on psych drugs longer term in most studies on psych drug efficacy, but that a) We don’t know why and if it is really all about the psych drugs or some other factor given the limited options available for alternatives and b) that small group is tiny compared to the number of people that are *told* in the US that they need to be on psych drugs… and so, if 20% do actually seem to do better, but 100% are being told that they are that 20% (if its even true about the 20%) … what do we do about that?
Honestly, I believe wholeheartedly what we said in there about the most important thing being about people having their power back, and us not worrying so much what they then do with it. Even if we are far more “right” about what would be useful to them, taking people’s power away isn’t useful and often just results in a power struggle. I feel like when people find themselves arguing with someone about what would be right for that person for themselves we’ve lost our way. We have a job to put information out there based on our own experiences and based on science and truth and all that. We have a job to illuminate paths. But the moment we start pushing someone down a path, we are failing to do that most important thing… focus on them holding their own power. We can’t claim people know themselves best and then tack on ‘unless you’re on drugs… then we know better’ without invalidating so much of what we say (those of us who say/believe that anyway). I don’t think it’s comparable in any way to what the system does when we do choose to argue and push an individual person because we don’t have any systemic power… but I still think it means we’ve lost their way.
I’ve seen *so* many people get mad at first when just presented with information… I’ve personally been attacked during trainings for unraveling the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory for people because – even though I’m speaking truth – it shakes their belief system about themselves too much. And while I do *NOT* owe it to them to stop sharing that… not ever… I *do* owe them the right to go through their own process with it…
So yes, ultimately, “It’s their life”, as you said, and we’ve got to focus on illuminating life’s potential and psychiatry’s lies without getting too stuck on the idea that everyone therefore needs to come to the exact same conclusion for what that means they need or want to do.
Sera, I reread what I said, and I can see it might be confusing. I actually agree with you about knowing that at a certain point people can be so accustomed, addicted and thus reliant on their medications that you simply can’t bring out what’s the statistical and/or scientific truth about psychiatry drugs anymore. Or at least not with any persistence. It just doesn’t work.
It’s the same with a whole list of other logical things that involve fundamentalism or addiction.
And it’s an incredible trap, because so often when someone wants to get off of their pills, and they haven’t reached equilibrium with their emotion wounds, or simply found an environment where they can safely get in touch with them, and are are going to be judged for it, their behavior can be again harshly misunderstood. When a more healthy environment would have allowed them to have a healthy brain that can express what otherwise would be seen as inappropriate, when it’s really what they need to express in order to heal.
What I couldn’t stop myself from going on about was how confusing, overloading and traumatizing it was, that when I simply in a positive manner, with no intention but to improve people’s lives, not only found out that they responded with alarm, paranoia, and in the process tried to make me out to be disruptive or even crazy; but that there were all sorts of disruptive behaviors THEY had because of their “medicated” state. Even someone who had tried to get off of his lithium but couldn’t.
I simply had to get away from the situation. It was shocking and traumatizing. It wasn’t even about trying to convince them of anything regarding whether psychiatric drugs helped them, it was because they were inarticulate, disorganized, and unwilling to see it. And I don’t think that I’m wrong in stating that their psychiatric drug use was a factor in how their “professional” behavior came out. And I don’t think that I was pill shaming when I simply stepped away from having to deal with them.
All I had done was that I was positive about the truth, in the beginning.
Njinksy, thank you for this.
This balance of when to speak, when to keep silent, how much to invest in the drugged – you’ve addressed this very eloquently.
Just reading your words, I heard myself saying, Yes, Yes, Yes.
And Sera, before you go back to portending that people haven’t read your article, or that we’re trying to educate you; I actually agree with you to not argue with people that say that psychiatric drugs are helping them; because that’s not the issue, if they are comfortable disabling their minds to that extent there’s something else going on that needs attention, and that’s why they feel comfortable disabling their mind. But I’m not going to renege on being articulate about what psychiatric drugs really do, would they come to themselves enough to see what they are doing to themselves.
Neither am I going to allow them to muddy up my life when I could detach and do something that shows that there’s another way, which might be what the whole issue is. And they’re not going to see that either, would I continue to “not argue” with them rather than just stepping away from it.
I didn’t accuse you of not reading. I said it was hard to tell where you were coming from, and hard to tell with most comments… But some of them – those that accuse *us* of shaming people for speaking truth – certainly indicate they didn’t read it at all. Which is – I would hope you understand – quite frustrating.
The article doesn’t ask anyone to silence their own truth or the overall truth about psychiatric drugs or the system. Quite the opposite.
Peace Sara, I agree with you.
It’s just so incredibly sad. Like you said: ““We’re not pill shaming you. We’re just sick of watching people fucking die.” — Sera Davidow”
One friend, who committed suicide, would be against NAMI and their pro drugging. And last time she got out of the asylum, having been forced committed and forced drugged, she showed me how she couldn’t stop her hands from vibrating after a psychiatrist had aggressively intimidated her with you either take this cocktail of drugs or you’re staying here. But then, at other times, she regularly had found a drug she thought was helping her (I didn’t argue with her about it), but she’d regularly get “manic” again and end up re-institutionalized. She had quietly told me, before her last affair with the asylums, in rationally explaining why she had tried to commit suicide (but failed), how extremely depressed you get when you get out. And so that’s what happened, even though I had warned her mother that I thought that if they had her committed again that they would lose her. And I had argued with her friends having her committed (who lied quite profusely exaggerating her behavior when having her committed) not to do it.
this same girl that talked about how depressed she’d get after getting out of the asylum, had before this taken someone in to then have them committed when he was just being difficult at worst, and she could have just kicked him out, instead. But then, with his NAMI dearest parents had him committed. That I couldn’t argue with her about at that time either. In fact she got really mad that I did.
If I’d try to be rational, she’d come back with: “You don’t know what it’s like.” And during one manic fling, in visiting her father out of state, she regularly went up to anyone stating she was mentally ill and needed help, asking for donations or expecting to work her way into their life. And when she started acting up, before she got admitted, or when she was in the asylum and still “mad,” she would make more sense about the dangers of being committed, and what the drugs could do to you, but then she’d get depressed, become more compliant, have given up after awhile.
And after her suicide, her “friends” would regularly come up to me, ignoring that I had warned them EXACTLY about what happened, and act like I was part of their social cult. In fact, a notice about her death had been hung around the area she lived, and a lady who had given examples of trance medium ship at a local college saw them and had “channeled” a message from Lilly, stating of all things that committing suicide didn’t help her depression, along with going on prosaically about being together with them in reincarnation, with some personal messages. I only heard the message, because a friend of the channel just happened to put her hand on it during a phone conversation, having for who knows what reason it in her possession (she didn’t know Lilly at all). But when I told one of Lilly’s friends that the message said that committing suicide hadn’t helped her depression, and that it was a dead set, this “friend” that had had her committed said she hoped that wasn’t case.
Is that another miracle cure? Will various scientific experiments promoting suicide, with certain trance mediums make that out to be a cure for depression?
Sorry about my extreme sarcasm up to this point, but this is what happens when you simply say something rational about cures. Or rather recover from “cures.”
Lilly’s mother, in a conversation with me on the phone, had stated that, along with extreme negative depictions about how negative Lilly’s behavior was and why she should be in an asylum, she actually agreed with me about the “medications,” but then stated that she had looked into rehab centers to get her daughter off of psychiatric drugs, and they were way too expensive.
That takes “pill shaming” to a whole other level. Taken into account that to try to help someone by telling them the truth about psychiatric medications might put them in such a situation that there’s no help for them to actually get off of them. From “pill shaming” to being so irrational that its like believing that when you’re starving, dying of proper nutrition, or simply sick from it, you should be able to walk into a grocery store and ask for food without being seen as disruptive and then get kicked out or arrested.
Peace Sara. I’m on your side.
Sera, to address your original response. Because honestly, I also was “having a hell of a time,” trying to figure out where you were coming from, in this incredibly complex matrix, this labyrinth where knowing the truth can become blame for all sorts of charges. It’s really like being in a communist regime (which isn’t communist, that’s just a label they take on, communism is something else entirely) and when you know the corruption going on you’re seen as trying to destroy well being. And what do you do? And how much have you taken on fears of even seeing what’s going on given the reaction to it?
I wasn’t trying to educate you, nor was I riffing on my viewpoint. Experience is something else. You have to understand that for someone who never was forced on psychiatric medications, never believed they would help and has always had a clear mind about them; to get into the world of mental health, and see all of the spooky behavior regarding psychiatric drugs, and the disabling, and not be able to say a fresh word about it without being called a pill shamer, or a host of other things (not being able to state true scientific data without being called one sided, not being able to state clear side effects of drugs, not being able to know what the statistics or scientific truths are about psychiatric drugs without being said that you’re interfering with healing) — this does become extremely frustrating and traumatizing.
And no, I’ve never had to believe that psychiatric pills helped me, or otherwise be in trouble with others who were in control of my life. Over the years, and being put in shock enough in trying to say the simplest thing, I’ve learned not to argue with people about psychiatric drugs although I will quietly and articulately mention the truth about psychiatric drugs. That psychiatric drugs CAUSE chemical imbalance rather than treating one, and that’s how they disable the mind to repress symptoms that after an initial period of suppression end up coming back causing more relapsing, more disability and the spike current in “mental illness.”
I have noticed quite a few people who are anti-psychiatry, who are anti-drugs, and yet they can’t get off of the medications that they often at first voluntarily started on, and in their war against psychiatry leave themselves no space to do that. And that’s in ways the same stuff that got them to think they needed the drugs to begin with, because otherwise they’d have to simply deal with themselves, and find healing there.
People get an awful lot of attention from the system when they are compliant. And as such an ego state builds up, it inevitably can break, and they suddenly become rebellious against the system, but have no real help, and are thrown back into it. I had one conversation with a lady, who on her own stated that she wanted to have nothing to do with psychiatry anymore, that she wanted to find a lawyer and sue them; and then within the conversation took an 180 degree shift to saying that the medications kept her in line, and that the system was helping. Then she’d simply drop her idea of rebellion pretty much, wouldn’t engage in any practical talk about it. And in another conversation she stated that she wanted to get off of the medications, and would I agree with her, later on suddenly according to her I had a problem with people on psychiatric drugs, when she had brought it up. In other words I was supposed to be completely contradictory, and just go along with her whim of the moment, supporting either side at her whim.
Although I’ve helped quite a few get off of their medications,even people trying to get off of their medications I’ve had to step away from trying to help when they would have unreasonable demands backed up by the excuse that they needed help to get off of them, thus having means to decide how I was supposed to be there for them. It’s a whole other responsibility to take getting of your medications beyond a whim, or a political stance, you have to deal with parts of yourself you might not want to, and I don’t believe that drafting other people into avoiding themselves by helping you works either.
There’s that also, you either have to be someone’s “salvation,” or you’re a pill shamer. People have to find their own answers.
If someone is taking psychiatric drugs, then it is just like it is with alcohol and street drugs. They have decided that they don’t want to feel their feelings. White Coats have conned them, or whatever. So then, one cannot deal with such people at any social level.
They guy I helped put into the state prison for molesting his daugthers was one such, using first cocaine and alcohol, then advancing in his addictions to salvation religion and psychiatric drugs. And his trial defense was almost entire centered on mental health arguments. If he had not been using psychiatric drugs, the problems would likely not have happened.
Feeling one’s feelings, learning to live inside of your own skin is a life’s work. Any kind of chemical mood alterants will interfere with this essential project.
And if you’re going to defend the use of psychiatric neuro toxins, then you will never be able to argue effectively against things like the Murphy Bill and forced treatments, because the public will believe that these lethal drugs must be a necessity for some people, and so they have to be administered FYOG.
Justina Pelletier, 3 posts
I quite enjoy my altering drugs when I have them… They just aren’t psych drugs which I refuse to touch for a number of reasons. It’s hard to tell from your comment – as it is unfortunately hard to tell from many of the comments here – if you read through the entire article and saw that we very clearly took a position *against* ‘pill shaming’ being a legitimate thing. HOWEVER, at the same time, I’m not comfortable with speaking against people who take drugs (whatever drugs they choose) to numb feelings at times, as long as they do so knowingly (knowing that that’s the goal, knowing the risks of doing that, etc.). The problem isn’t that people sometimes want to numb out (frankly, I’d like to numb out after reading some of these comments that so blatantly speak to people not having read what we put quite a lot of effort into writing and fully intend to do so a bit later), it’s that those in power want to force, coerce, and trick them into doing so and in ways that come with dire consequences for those that would be numbed.
^^^^ But Sera, unless people renounce all of these numb outs, then they aren’t going to be able to do the very hard work which takes them back to feeling their feelings. And we need this to be able to stand up and reclaim all that has been taken from us.
So no, I don’t feel that a tendency to want to numb out is a serious moral failing. But I do see the quest to undermine the premises of the mental health system and to take back what has been taken from us to be a special calling.
I first learned the importance of a rigorous commitment to non-escapism and to feeling your feelings, from studies in mysticism. But then later it was what I took away from Alice Miller.
I see the tendency to tune out as just how Capitalism keeps people from thinking too critically.
Now, for those who use psychmeds, these people are really strange, in my observation. And so you cannot deal with them, not socially, not any other way. This has been my experience.
I see such people as victims, not perpetrators. But there are still huge consequences to their choices.
So no, I do not at all agree with your article.
And I take especial offense when there are articles, or when I meet people, who say that prescription psych drugs, or street drugs are good for you, opening some doors of understanding or such. And we have this now, someone advocating MDMA, where they had been advocating LSD.
All of this denigrates survivors, makes it sound like our concerns are just the result of refusing to take our meds. So I am honor bound to oppose it, as I am the sorts of things you say in your article. I took great offense at the things you were writing to the Boston Globe about the Murphy Bill.
You are welcome to oppose the article. That’s fine. People can speak their truth about anything, including this article, provided they are speaking to what it says. (And I guess even if they’re not, although that’s substantially more upsetting because it feels like we’re being used to make a point that’s not representative of what we worked hard to say and being misrepresented in the process.) I personally would and do feel quite denigrated by the idea that I don’t know myself well enough to know that the drugs I *do* use to numb out some time (not psych drugs, but alcohol for one), and that I’m somehow a ‘victim’ as a result of seeing the value in that for myself… It also feels hard to hear that I’m somehow also not able to do the work that I apparently need to do to process my feelings, etc, if I’m using such substances and am somehow – if I’m reading you right – lesser than for that.
Drugs have been used since the beginning of time to bring about experiences or numb out from them. I do not think that is the issue. It’s the power that comes behind them, in a system that feels it should get to say ‘We force (or punish) you not to take this one that we’ve labeled as bad, and we force you to take this one that we’ve labeled as good and punish you if you try to resist’ while using that same power to lie about why… that’s the problem. The people who then come along and tell me that they also thing I’m bad or wrong for choosing what I do take even in the most well informed way don’t have the same power or cause the same harm in any way, but they surely don’t help.
I suspect Pill shaming is about fear.
I was on benzos for 32 years, in that time I was also a well loved and reasonably successful Teacher. But in 32 years I lived in terror at my employers finding out I was dependent on benzos. Michael Gove, Education Minister had actually encouraged whistle blowing on Teachers who were on drugs. I can only imagine the parents and Students reactions if they had known. Also in application forms I was asked if I suffered from depression, anxiety etc. I ignored all that same as I ignored all that on Holiday Insurance forms. The shame of keeping this a secret was HUGE. I had a few Drs who called me an addict…and I used to say I would like to come off benzos BUT how? and who will help me?
Can anyone honesty tell me I did not do the right thing for me. Guilt as I got into my car kinda ‘ Stoned’ Guilt as I accidently dropped a 10mg diazepam pill in the classroom worried that a child might pick it up. If it had been a paracetamol tablet I could have asked the class to look for it and then hand it too me.
This shame only left me in 2015 when I discovered the online community. I began the tortuous Journey to come off benzos in 2015 and finally realised via The Ashton Manual the Shame lay with the prescribers not me. People are desperate usually when they go to a Dr/GP Psychiatrist. It is at THIS point there should be informed consent. But as long as The medical profession is trusted, desperate people are going to take what is offered. Where else can they go? I don’t think it takes that long to get dependent on a psychoactive drug. The prescribers tell those on depression pills, to be well for at least six months until you consider coming off. I believe the only thing we can do is educate people BEFORE they take these pills especially children and young people. As a Counsellor I see many people contemplating taking psychiatric drugs and I do warn them RE The dangers, I also work with people on drugs who express how shit these drugs sometimes make them feel, but they are too SCARED to come off especially as there is no withdrawal guidelines, no support and no recognition of withdrawal effects, I think we have to put ourselves in others shoes….Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself…….If you are an alcoholic there is state funded help and recognition, if you are ‘addicted’ dependent on benzos, ADs, Quetiapine etc there is no help. I have had to watch a family member being totally abused by Psychiatry, 25 years later, she is on a huge cocktail of damaging drugs, she knows the Score and is very angry and fearful…especially of dementia, as am I after my benzo use, but still she cannot get off them…pill shaming her is pointless.
Thanks so much for sharing some of your story here. It can be *so* hard to get off these drugs, even after all the risks and truth are known. It’s not a pain I’ve personally known. (Effexor was the hardest for me to get off of, but not by any stretch as hard as what I’ve heard so many people go through.) However, even having not been through withdrawal as intense as that myself, I’ve seen so many others try to make their way through it – some successfully, and some not.. And I am so horrified by how many doctors just want to deny that it is a thing at all. (I recently had a conversation with a psych doctor who works at a hospital that was offended that I even used the word ‘withdrawal’ in connection to psych drugs, because in her mind, they simply aren’t addictive.) Of course, ‘denial’ is yet another word that the system uses on us freely, but that we’re prohibited from using back against them (at least in any widely accepted sort of way). Thanks again for sharing some of your experience.
I’m writing this comment separate from response to everyone’s individual comments just to try and make a point here that I find myself repeating through a number of the comment threads:
No one is obligated to like or support this article. However, I do feel frustrated by the apparent misunderstanding of it through a handful of the comments being made, and I want to clarify.
This article was written with a lot of intentional nuance and balance, but the fundamental underlying point here is that we find the ‘pill shaming’ concept to be highly problematic, which I hope is clear from the bolded quotes even if you don’t read anything else. In fact, we have buttons made up with some of those quotes that we take to conferences in an effort to push back on people who would claim ‘pill shaming’ when another person simply speaks to the harms they’ve suffered at the hands of the psychiatric system, or when they speak truth about what science *actually* tells us about psych drugs and their efficacy and potential harms.
Where people seem to be getting lost – as best I can tell – is in our recognition that there *are* sometimes people who claim that no one should ever be on any kind of drug or that they know that anyone who says drugs help them is somehow misguided or “deluded”. People who push in this way are *NOT* equal to the system that pushes drugs because (as we say several times in the article) those people have no systemic power.
However, my personal wish is that this movement will eventually get to the point where the focus *is* on power. Not on ‘recovery’… Not on what people should or shouldn’t be doing… but simply on their right to have real information, make real choices, be treated equally where their rights are concerned, and be the holder of power where their own lives are concerned. And along with that hope is one where once people’s power is restored, that we are clear to not tell them what they should do with that power, even if that means they make different choices than we would like. Because if we can’t let go of that agenda – even if we are for more right and more justified than others in what we believe – we just contribute to chipping away at that power once again… or at least don’t contribute to people really owning power for themselves.
I’m sorry if some of my responses above have been snippy, but it is hard to put something out there and then have it not be heard for what it actually says… again, hearing does not need to mean agreeing… but it’s the lack of hearing that feels most bad. Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to truly take it in – whether you agree or not! 🙂
Sera, if the majority of responses to your piece seem like people misunderstood what you meant to convey, it might behoove you to revisit your article and see if what you meant to say was what you actually said, rather than getting upset at all the people who disagree and insist they either didn’t read what you wrote or somehow misinterpreted it.
Also, as far as people being deluded for taking psych drugs: it’s absolutely the right of survivors to believe that about people currently happy with their drug regimen. You don’t get to control what people believe. And shaming them for holding this belief is counterproductive, as I hope you’ve learned from the replies to this article. Although from your response, I don’t think you have. That’s unfortunate.
Do people have the right to drug themselves with neurotoxic and psychoactive pharmaceutical drugs? Yes. Should they? That’s an entirely different question and you should expect and be prepared for fierce debate over it.
Fortunately, it’s not the majority, kindredspirit!! Just a handful here, it would seem, and given so many others have found it to be clear, it’s hard not to imagine that at least some people are just skimming and making assumptions. Fierce debate is fine. It would just be good to be debating over what was actually said. In any case, I’m not going to keep arguing on this point. People are welcome to respond how they are… It’s just frustrating.
Removed for moderation.
Thank you for putting out this blog. What you’re feeling/describing just sounds so much like what the system does- attend (perhaps) to what you say, the words so carefully chosen to articulate exactly what you mean and not something else… and then hear almost exactly the opposite of what you said. It’s another way the system silences. This is me empathizing with that experience, and offering a pat on the back.
I think it’s a little more complicated than this LS but I’m glad to see you checking in; hope you hang around, as I sense this thread is barely getting started.
Thank you, LavendarSage. I suppose it is indeed something like that, although without all the power to hurt me in the way the system has. 🙂 But it’s okay. We all misunderstand or read into each other’s words at times, and for any number of reasons. 🙂 Provided we don’t have the power to force our perspectives on each other in any substantive way (as the system does), that’s okay. 🙂
There’s a thing called the Sunken Cost Fallacy. After a heavy investment–be it money, time, effort–people prefer to keep investing in it though common sense would be to cut their losses and bail out.
I think that’s at work among the “consumers” who get angry at the messenger. Perfectly normal human reaction.
I think that’s very true… and of providers who have spent a bunch of money on education, as well! Thanks for making mention of it.
I think this is a very good observation. It being such a normal reaction, I think we all need to be sensitive enough to expect it and not judge people who have been understandably pulled into a system they don’t understand for displaying this predictable sign of resistance to being “wrong” about their investments.
Sunken Cost Fallacy sounds like a fancy way of saying “in for a penny; in for a pound.” 🙂
Hello Sera Davidow and Caroline Mazel-Carlton.
You’ve both done a good job here of dissescting the “pill-shaming!” exclamation and raised some interesting issues. There is a lot more that can be said on this subject and I hope either or both of you return to it at some future point.
Like many aggressive exclamations, the “pill-shaming!” exclamation is an attempt to both hold or retain personal power against a percieved attack, as well as a quite violent way to shut down discussion. But it also acts, as I think you’ve acknowledged, to push back against overly zealous antipsychiatry activists/trolls who refuse to allow psychiatric pills to play any meaningful or helpful role in an individual’s life.
Like you and many people I have close and longlasting relationships with people who choose to take the pills. And when younger I would find their decisions an irritant, a distraction from my antipsychiatry antiselfdrugging zeal. Most commonly as people age, they temper down. I’m glad to say that, putting aside the occasional outbreak of antichoice pox, I’ve tempered down.
One issue you haven’t touched on but worth considering is the power people attain once they are on the pills for some time. For instance, I know and have known a number of people who, well-aware of the withdrawal syndrome of cold turkeying antipsychotics, choose from time to time to coldturkey withdrawal because of the power they feel it gives them, ie a swift re-entry into the psychiatric system, or a way to take control of tricky social situations that have been burgeoning for some time, and which are maybe loking like the social tide is turning against them, if they’ve been up to no good and troubling the hornets nest, a tactically chosen coldturkey withdrawal can have the magnificent effect of them gaining significant power over others, and they can rapidly retreat or leave behind any scrutiny or critiscism of their prior behavior because like you know now they are in relapse, and nothing else matters.
I’ve seen that play out so often, I’m sure it must happen all over.
Not that I condemn those who do it. Desperate situations call for desperate actions, and in the UK at least, a tactical coldturkey withdrawal is perhaps the only way someone can access the help they feel they need.
(apologies for the numerous typos. I banged that out and must depart the keyboard, sharpish)
Hmmm… An interesting point you’re bringing up. I wonder if that’s truly ‘power’ or more ‘learned helplessness’ that you’re talking about, though? Or learning how to play a system and meet needs based on how the system has played us? I’ll think about it more.
Thanks for bringing it up. 🙂
Thanks for explaining this recent phenomenon of accusing people with uncomfortable/unwanted information about pharma of pill shaming. In my experience this “pill shaming” label enters most quickly into discussions with still healthy people who’ve had some privilege. Privilege of using the system and not feeling the system has used them. For example, a white male grad student and a hipster band performer who enhance their performance and maintaining equilibrium with prescribed drugs and who have not been exposed to the stories of people who have been victims of the sustained health-destroying violence and oppression of forced psy treatment over years. Some people have not experienced the drug cocktails meant to insure the comfort of one class by controlling the behaviour, or merely feared or imagined behaviour, of another. Some people are allowed to take a drug of choice at the dosage they desire and it is natural for them to defend the drugs and the system that is serving them. Some of us can not even imagine such status.
I think that’s for sure true that people with a lot of privilege are sometimes the ones that are making this argument… I think others, though, have been at the depths of having no privilege at all and it’s just to painful to think that they got where they are because they were lied to… I’ve literally had people say (in trainings where I’m offering some of this info), “Are you saying that maybe my life didn’t need to be like this?” That’s really painful. It’s a sort of grieving. Sometimes people make their way out the other side, and sometimes it is just too much pain… or too much perceived risk (especially if their whole life – housing, income, etc. – revolves around that identity)… It’s comlicated, but I appreciate you bringing up the privilege end of that, because that’s definitely a part of the story!
Thank you for your response, which acknowledges the pain and a much greater variety of people involved in these difficult discussions.
“I personally would and do feel quite denigrated by the idea that I don’t know myself well enough to know that the drugs I *do* use to numb out some time (not psych drugs, but alcohol for one), and that I’m somehow a ‘victim’ as a result of seeing the value in that for myself… It also feels hard to hear that I’m somehow also not able to do the work that I apparently need to do to process my feelings, etc, if I’m using such substances and am somehow – if I’m reading you right – lesser than for that.”
Feeling ones feelings, and staying mindful, is extremely hard work. It can feel like your bones are being eaten in acid.
This book here puts it the best that I have seen, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy turn your experience of injustice into a medical problem and a self improvement project.
So who is going to challenge this? Who is going to stop the survivors of familial abuses from ending up in mental health, psychotherapy, and recovery movement.
You say that you process your feelings. I’m not talking about anything like that. Processing feelings, usually what it means is just getting to where you can comply with social standards again. And so some people get their doctor to write them a prescription. You have learned how to prescribe for yourself to get the same result.
When I talk about feeling your feelings, I mean a long term commitment to regressions, starting with present feelings and working back. I am talking about re-constructing oneself. I mean collecting up the pieces which have been torn off and then re-membering yourself.
Unless we have people doing this, then nothing will change. People will still be able to have children so that they don’t have to deal with their own issues, and then break the wills and esteems of those children, knowing that they will end up in mental health and recovery.
I know that there have been numb out drugs from the beginning of time. But I also know that they are a problem for those of use who want to reclaim what has been taken from us. The numb out drugs help mental health, and the recovery movement, because they bring people down to their level.
People who just want to numb out are never going to offer effective opposition.
And in calling for the arbitrary individual decision to take what you want and to not take what you don’t want, you are simply arguing for Libertarianism, and this is a fallacy. Right now people are driving their children to the doctor, and they are being put on drugs. And people who have grown up in very oppressive environments and been made to feel that it is there fault, they are being conned by psychotherapists. And this being done via government licensing.
So while you ingest what you want, a horrible state of affairs persists. The only way you would be able to see this though, would be if you were committed to the very hard work of feeling your feelings.
The people who then come along and tell me that they also thing I’m bad or wrong for choosing what I do take even in the most well informed way don’t have the same power or cause the same harm in any way, but they surely don’t help.
But you aren’t helping either, you aren’t opposing psych drugs, psychotherapy, the recovery movement, or the FixMyKid industry.
Where people seem to be getting lost – as best I can tell – is in our recognition that there *are* sometimes people who claim that no one should ever be on any kind of drug or that they know that anyone who says drugs help them is somehow misguided or “deluded”.
Talk about drugs is a direct attack on survivors. It creates the impression that they are the problem, and that drugs which attack the functioning of their central nervous system are the remedy.
It’s just like how rape has always been handled, trying to blame it on the victim, and making the pacification of the victim the intended outcome.
People who push in this way are *NOT* equal to the system that pushes drugs because (as we say several times in the article) those people have no systemic power.
Where there is power is in holding parents accountable, in holding the mental health system accountable, and in getting our government out of the recovery and salvation businesses.
But when there is conflict out at the barricades, it is those who want chemical tune out who are most likely to be AWOL.
Our society is sick, in that people work meaningless jobs and then use chemicals to tune out. And this is what the middle-class family and the mental health system prepare people to accept. So chemical tune outs is submission. Where as the one who always seems to have their tail on fire is the one who is resisting.
However, my personal wish is that this movement will eventually get to the point where the focus *is* on power. Not on ‘recovery’… Not on what people should or shouldn’t be doing… but simply on their right to have real information, make real choices, be treated equally where their rights are concerned, and be the holder of power where their own lives are concerned.
But it can never get like this until some deeply embedded forms of abuse, in the middle-class family, and in its white coat enforcers, are exposed and eradicated. And the only way to do this is public punishment of the perpetrators. Its no different than it was with the de-Nazification of Germany, there have to be public consequences for the perpetrators, or it will just continue.
Sera, I do not agree with your article or with the message you are putting out. You are not supporting mindful resistance, you are pleading that people like me will go along with you on pills and alcohol.
Its just like when you were trying to oppose the Murphy Bill, you were not calling for resistance to the mental health system. You were pleading with Murphy and his supporters for tolerance for those who are in some way going along with the mental health idea. You were not telling Murphy how every aspect of his proposed legislation would be resisted, and by any means necessary. You were not telling Murphy and his supporters that they were torturing their own children.
We do have to resist the mental health system, and we have to resist tune out. No this is not a legal requirement, there would be no way to enforce such a thing. But I for one promise unceasing resistance to any articles or posts which encourage tune out, or cooperation with the mental health system or the recovery movement, or which encourage support for psychotherapists playing god in what should be seen as child abuse cases.
1459 Days of Resistance, how a political activist talks. It is not pleading for tolerance.
PD: thank you for your well articulated position here. I have always said that one has to face one’s traumas and feel the feelings related to them in order to recover. The only way I was able to achieve any recovery from the repeated traumatic events of childhood and my consequent alcoholism and drugs addiction was to get sober and become completely abstinent of all artificial chemicals, so I could begin recalling what had happened to me and to feel my feelings all the way through. I had been dissociated from myself and my feelings related to the traumas so I had to face all of it directly and feel them. Through my recovery from alcoholism and drugs addiction I also learned how many people simply don’t want to feel reality at all and would rather be numb. I understand that because that’s what I did for several decades but I also know that one cannot fully recover from any addiction or anything else without facing and accepting reality as it is and to feel the feelings all the way through. I’ve discovered that many people would rather be given validation for not feeling and for numbing out so they seek that validation by claiming there is no harm in numbing out because people have been doing that since time immemorial. Nothing is more dangerous to the chance of recovery than claiming numbing out is ok because “people have always done that.” People have always killed other people, too, but that doesn’t make killing acceptable.
“They’re in the violence of restraints and needles forcibly penetrating our skin. And, to top that off, we’re not allowed to actually call that violence because we lack even the power to define the word from our own perspective.”
That sentence really resonated with me. The fact that we are also deprived a language to describe the the horrors that goes under the inocuos euphemism ‘treatment’
Thanks for the article
Good to see you pop up here. 🙂 Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment! The actions that harm us in the psychiatric system are the ones that ultimately harm us most in the moment, but the system’s ability to control the words that are used to define and explain us and all that happens around and to us are what – I believe – really stick with us over time. It’s so painful.
I’m late for the party here but wanted to be somewhat organized and prepared rather than make assumptions about what Sera’s saying. But I’m still not that organized so will respond to quotes that seem to stand out to me. I haven’t read the other comments yet. I will pre-state my suspicion that these issues would seem less ambiguous and debatable if psychiatry were understood to be a parallel police force, rather than a flawed branch of medicine.
It’s an at least three-quarters straw man argument that seems to suggest that just by speaking truth about how the system has actively lied to us about psychiatric drugs (and more), that we are somehow now “anti-medication,”
If the suggestion here is that psychiatric survivors and other opponents of psychiatry should not be anti-drug I’m afraid there’s a problem with who this “we” is. It’s one thing to assert that people have the right to fuck themselves up with any chemical known to humankind. But to continually euphemize these toxic tools of repression as “medications” (in quotes or not) as anything but what they are, or to imply that calling out this practice of self-toxification is in any way oppressive, is not an anti-psychiatry position. We should not be defensive about being anti-toxin, especially when this is done in the name of healing. And we should never be defensive about being anti-psychiatry.
Actually I’ll have to change my approach here in mid-stream, as the more I read the more convoluted and intertwined all these arguments Sera is making become. And any time I see words such as “woke” and rhetoric about “checking your privilege”appearing the less seriously I tend to take the arguments at hand, as these are bits of jargon I have come to associate with upper-middle class privileged liberals with no systemic analysis of the inherent alienation that characterizes this society. Anyway I do intend to delve into some of these convolutions while this blog remains current. But for now This is what I think is most important:
Brain-damaging, mind-ravaging neurotoxic psych drugs are NOT “medications,” no matter how much anyone is upset by this reality or prefers to remain in denial. The scourge of psychiatric drugs is a major institutional tool used to hold this system in place by redefining the inherent misery it generates as individual “failings” rather than the logical and eternal consequence of its own putrid essence. People should not be forced NOT to take these poisons. But they should not be enabled in doing so by implying that it’s ok, just another “personal choice.” It’s not ok if your friend is self-destructing due to being fraudulently misled into believing they have a “disease,” “disorder” or whatever phony-ass construct they adhere to. That doesn’t mean you must stop being their friend or must constantly browbeat them.
But if a friend comes to you professing belief in all these lies and announcing that he or she is about to start ingesting prescribed neurotoxins for some metaphorical illness, what else is there to say but “That’s a Damn Shame”???
I’ve personally done away with referring to psychiatric drugs as ‘medication’ in standard practice, but the phrase that is used against is us is nonetheless “anti-medication” which is why we used it here. I agree it’s a distortion of reality and a marketing tactic, as well as one that attempts to enforce the system’s absurd differentiation between what they want to call us bad for taking (marijuana, heroin, etc.) and what they want to force on us (neuroleptics, and so on). It is – as you noted – in quotes here to suggest that it is not a term we buy into overall, but maybe you’re right that we need to be even more careful with it. I’m not sure, and will have to think about that.
Also, I *think* we were pretty clear here that actual oppression requires power, and those stating the harms of these drugs don’t have it… So, I’d not personally use the word ‘oppressive’ in any serious manner against people who take that stance. However, as also stated above, I don’t think it is especially useful for people to claim they know all that is ‘right’ for other people. Doctors certainly don’t understand these drugs and their full scope or impact, and neither do we… I’d rather be honest about that. Which isn’t to say we can’t know for our own bodies (at least, certainly better than anyone else), or can’t and shouldn’t speak of the very real harms and lies we *are* aware of… But there is a line that gets crossed that involves individuals telling other individuals what is best for them that I simply don’t think is helpful in any regard. More over, at least some of the ‘I know what is best for you stuff’ is intertwined with privilege, ableism, and so on.
However, none of that was the main point of this piece which is, simply(ish) put: There is no such thing as ‘pill shaming’ in the way it is described in the articles that circulate accusing people of it, because all the power lies on the other side (those who push people to *take* the drugs sometimes under threat of force or loss of liberty), and we have every right to be out there talking, yelling, and screaming about how we’ve been harmed and how the pill pushing – backed by capitalism and corporate interests and the desire to control – is full of lies.
That we think – in offering up that message – that there needs to be nuance and effort to avoid erasure or denigration of those who (being the experts on themselves) knowingly and in well-informed ways decide that psych drugs should be a part of their lives seems to be what has tripped things up here for some, but I guess I’m okay with that.
OK, a reasonable response. The problem is — and I won’t “blame” you for this as it goes beyond any one person — there are at least two levels of something being wildly conflated here.
The first is the “personal,” and primarily involves what methods of argumentation or persuasion should be used to reach out to or convince a specific friend or individual that you believe they are making a destructive choice. This is highly personal and cannot be generalized about; it depends on the people involved. So of course if you know your friend is going to stubbornly resist your efforts to change his/her mind it probably makes little sense to browbeat them. In fact I don’t accept that the purpose of the anti-psychiatry movement is to “talk people out” of psychiatric “treatment.” I think our goal should be to have the information people need when they’re ready to receive it, as well as a coherent analysis of what has been done to them by psychiatry and a sound plan for exposing and defeating it.
The second level is political, and there we play by different rules — i.e. via “cold” analysis of the situation, not concerned with how people “feel” about it but what it objectively is. And on this level we should regard the whole “pill-shaming” canard as a shameless concoction of the psych/pharma establishment, designed to guilt-trip those who are wont to being concerned about their friends’ pharmaceutical demise and utterly unworthy of serious discussion — any more than would be discussions of racial or sexual matters based on other demeaning stereotypes.
We need to relegate the entire notion of the “pill-shamer” to wherever they keep ogres of the past such as the “welfare queen” and the like. I know we’re largely on the same page here. But the devil is in the details.
P.S. I want to second Auntie’s observation — I also am unaware of any instance on MIA of anyone being “shamed” about taking psych drugs, if “shaming” is understood as being an attempt to make someone feel bad about themselves.
I think this is a very important clarification. Thanks for sharing it.
I think we are on the same page even about getting rid of the phrase altogether, as per this part of the article above!:
“1. Check your own ‘pill shaming’ narrative contributions: Stop writing “pill shaming” pushback posts. Stop ‘liking’ them. Stop sharing them on social media. Stop creating, buying, or wearing anti-pill shaming swag. Stop using the phrase entirely. Even if there’s some piece of the message you like, you’re contributing to a larger problem, so find a different way to address that piece and leave the rest behind. At best, the underpinnings of the ‘pill shaming’ accusation are misguided. At worst, they represent a concerted effort on the part of the current power structure to use us against ourselves, and they don’t need any more help. Seriously.”
Cool, absolutely nothing about that point that I wouldn’t support.
Sera and Caroline, Your blog is thorough in presenting all the variables, arguments and the different sides of the coin so to speak. My take away was in keeping with your last sentence “It’s not about pills. It’s about power.” and about taking back your power from the oppression of psychiatry. I think most psych survivors know psych drugs are harmful but to criticize or blame them or anyone who is still taking psych drugs would be ‘blaming the victim’.
Thanks, Rosalee. Yes, I love Caroline’s quote, and agree that ‘power’ is at the root of this and *so many* other struggles that end up getting labeled and wrapped up in our various systems.
“The only true path to liberation is to focus on how to support people to get their power back (or get it in the first place), never mind how they then choose to use it. That power may come with or without drugs, and those drugs may be prescribed or not. Our job is to illuminate the many paths, not to push anyone down a particular one.”
For me, this was the core of your article.
Fully informed consent would go a long way for me.
I’ve had eight years of college, and another eight years in and out of mental hospitals. Is something wrong with me in that I fail to understand a lot of this wordy article?
I do see that I need to take great care in talking to those who suffer from but are still are ingrained in the medical model. And I see others who need to blast mainstream psychiatry at all costs, which I think wrong.
Any ideas on how to deal with either of these?
I think Akiko Hart’s article, “Choice Not Truth” says what you two do in a way that’s more immediate, at least for me.
“Pursuing choice, not truth: debates around diagnosis in mental health,” by Akiko Hart
I was a little surprised by how much you said you liked the article on Facebook, and seem critical of it here, but fair enough! 🙂 I absolutely agree that the quote you pulled out is at the heart of what we are saying. Haven’t read what you linked to from Akiko (yet), but she does indeed offer many good contributions to these dialogues, and many contributions are needed as different ones will resonate with different people 🙂 !
“if psychiatry were understood to be a parallel police force”
It’s psychiatry, psychotherapy, and the recovery and salvation industries which are a parallel police force. They are just presented in such a way that people do not see this. It’s all what Deleuze and Guattari called “Oedipalizing”, making people believe in and accept The Family, making them neurotic. And it seems to also be what Foucault is calling Biopower or Biopolitics.
And Sera, presenting the idea that chemical mood alterants could somehow be good for people makes it just about impossible to stop the dispensing of psychiatric drugs. Most of these drugs are ingested voluntarily.
While an absolute prohibition approach has never worked, that does not mean that an anti-psychiatry anti-mental health movement could ever tolerate people who say that drugs might be good for you.
How would you feel about someone who says that alcohol is good for rape victims, because that helps them to “just get over it”?
PD: “Most of these drugs are ingested voluntarily.”
No. They are not. When they give the drug to you with the lie that “you will need this for the rest of your life” and “the side effects will be worth the benefits” and “it won’t harm you in the long term”
Then they are forcing something. Would someone really take that pill if they knew that they may never get off of it again? Or that they might be going down the rapids of prescription and diagnostic cascades? Or that the drug will, in the long run, make them worse?
Until this is the knowledge of the people (and it is not), then these pills are being forced.
Some are administered by force. But as I know, most are ingested by someone who is being fed lies. They are being told that there could be no legitimate reason to refuse. And that is what puts someone into the hands of the doctor in the first place, that their social legitimacy has been voided. So it is preying on a vulnerable population.
1. Remove those drugs from the market.
2. Stop our government from licensing Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists.
3. For those who have been giving such lethal drugs to children, prosecution for Crimes Against Humanity.
IMO the lies mean it’s not truly voluntary.
Were Dr. Farid Fata’s patients voluntary victims when he subjected them to numerous rounds of chemo under the pretext that they had leukemia? If a doctor sells heroine to his patients by telling them they have diabetes and it’s insulin are they voluntary?
The only excuse I can give for psychiatrists is that SOME–not sure how many–actually believe the lies they promote about the “chemical imbalance.” According to Dr. Pies they are uninformed. Tsk tsk. So bad to accuse his profession of ignorance. He’s proud of what a well-informed, professionally competent charlatan he is. 😀
Chronic depression and anxiety are not “distress” (your definition 1). They are serious psychological conditions. I would love to see some quotes included in this piece from people who have been able to live normal lives because of daily medication (not “drugs”). Do *they* think pill shaming is a real thing? And wouldn’t it be the responsible thing to include these kinds of people in the conversation about their lives and the future of their access to medication?
There are places like BipolarHope, NAMI, WellnessPlace, etc. where you can do that.
Why do you call them psychological instead of neurological BTW? What’s the difference? And if there isn’t one why is the terminology different?
As Peter Breggin wrote in Toxic Psychiatry 1991, people are depressed because they are living depressing lives. Its bad careers, bad marriages, and other unredressed stuff.
In my opinion, if one is not able to feel their feelings, they are at an increasing risk of a nervous break down. But that is still not ~Mental Illness~.
Feeling feelings is very hard work, it can feel like your bones are being eaten in acid.
But no one can lead a fulfilling life unless they feel their feelings and do everything in their power to work with comrades and to hold the abusers accountable and to seize reparations.
The idea that just “feeling better” makes things fine is one of the lies of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Religion. It is one of the ways they further abuse survivors and promote drugs.
Sure lots of people believe that their lives are made better by cocaine and heroin too.
Rachel777, my objection to BipolarHope, NAMI, WellnessPlace is simply that these at least support the idea of ~Recovery~ if not the idea of ~Mental Illness~ too. Fine to have safe places for people. But ~Recovery~ still implies that they have something wrong with them, that innate moral defect, Original Sin.
As I am constantly telling the Born Again Ministries, someone who has been treated with dignity and respect and been allowed to develop and apply their abilities, is very unlikely to ever have a serious problem with drugs or alcohol. And the same goes for the Sham of ~Mental Illness~.
You’ve said this stuff before, and I’ve finally realized why some of it bothers me. You claim that all therapy is about making someone “feel OK” without dealing with emotions. But I had a fine therapist back in the 80s (before the DSM III and the “chemical imbalance” theory had taken hold), and it was ALL about me learning to feel the feelings I was avoiding. That was the whole point of it. So while I agree that much if not most therapy today avoids dealing with these awkward realities (and that the DSM III and later editions were, in fact, carefully constructed to allow for this shift in emphasis), there have always been therapists who viewed their jobs as doing exactly what you are saying needs to be done. So I think you are overgeneralizing in these statements – there are a lot of different therapists doing a lot of different things, and with a lot of different competence levels, but the idea that ALL of them are aiming to help people repress their emotional experience and side with their parents against abused kids is just not true in my experience.
And I would add that she was ANYTHING but protective of my parents. In fact, my mom said to others (naturally, I never heard about this for YEARS later and from a third party) that my therapist was “driving a wedge between us.” We spent most of the time talking about my historical relationship with my mother and her denial of any kind of emotional reality except that “everything is just fine.” And it was VERY helpful to me, and I doubt that selecting an average person off the street to share my issues with would have been remotely as helpful. She had a very useful skill, and I was happy to pay her for the excellent service she provided.
PD, I don’t subscribe or write to NAMI, BipolarHope, Wellness Place, etc. Just pointing out to those who want to sing the praises of their psych remedies that there are dozens if not hundreds of other sites on the internet that allow them to do so.
And, just to be clear, I am not defining “normal life” as fitting into some sort of capitalist machinery. I am defining it as being able to leave the house (or even just the bed). These are not the same thing.
How about avoiding homelessness or an institution?
Taking my “meds” did not help me with either.
Now I can finally work again. My own anecdote.
Well, feelings of anxiety and extreme distress are evolutionarily developed self-protective responses.
When our social and civil standing are being nullified, then that means that we are being ostracized and so our survival is being threatened. So we will likely feel extreme emotional and bodily pains, and we may act to limit our public exposure. There is nothing wrong with these responses.
This happens to survivors because our life histories are not validated. We are considered to be at fault, and not the abusers. The abusers are legitimated by our society, where as we are considered culpable and a social hygiene menace.
The reason this is so bad is that survivors have not learned the importance of public redress. Abusers must be punished, and survivors must obtain reparations.
As it is now, the survivors are led to believe in therapy and recovery, which are just more abuse. And then the abusers get to recite all the things which are wrong with their scapegoat survivors.
We survivors must organize and use what ever means are necessary to make sure that this changes.
As a start, I helped 3 girls get their father a lengthy term in the state penitentiary for molesting them.
As it had been, he had the 100% backing of their Pentecostal Church, because in that church most everyone has at least one scapegoat child and one scapegoat sibling.
The mother however is still running around telling people that the allegations are unwarranted and that the girls are liars. I told the DA that if it were up to me, she would be in prison too.
I think Francis 3 has a good idea.
This is supposed to be a Critical Psychiatry site as opposed to Anti Psychiatry.
Get a bunch of anecdotes together for a just and balanced view of the psych treatments. Both sides though.
Should we also discuss both sides of the Holocaust?
MIA is whatever RW decides it is. But the end result of “critical” psychiatry should be antipsychiatry.
I also doubt that before the dawn of psych drugs physically health people simply stayed in bed until they died.
Rachel777, should rape victims be sent to Critical Psychiatrists?
I have never seen anything in RW’s books which endorses any kind of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, or Recovery. If I am missing it, please give me the page number and the quote.
All his books do, is demonstrate the extremely important proposition that the drugs have caused an epidemic of ~mental illness~ cases, and that these drugs destroy consciousness.
On everything else, as I can see, he is silent. And this makes sense, he has a point to prove, and he does so completely.
Where a problem ensues though is on a board like this. Most of its tone is just from what people post. I say that Psychiatrists, Psychotherapists, Parents, and Recovery Program Leaders are abusing this board.
It becomes impossible for people to act, when they are constantly having to deal with claims of needing drugs, therapy, and recovery, and when people can continue to abuse their scapegoat children.
So RW’s books are great. What is happening on this board though is another story.
Place to organize and then take actions:
Never heard of a school of psychiatry called “critical.” It refers to a way of perceiving psychiatry versus “anti” or “pro/mainstream.”
Yes “therapists” who exist solely for the purpose of forcing kids to repress abuse memories are pretty evil, though I have not actually met any.
My mom’s counselor did the exact opposite and helped her remember stuff she had buried and deal with it. Encouraged her to get her 4 year degree in education and pursue a career as a teacher. A great “treatment” for depression before the bio-model took over.
Now all they do is throw pills at everything. Counselors provide no advice to those branded SMI beyond “take your meds and accept how hopeless your life will always be.” Because of this wide-spread sell out I avoid counseling and urge others to do likewise. Especially at those “Mental Health” Indoctrination Centers. 😛
Rachel777, I think the issue is just that survivors need to go hardline and make it clear that we are not going to let people abuse and denigrate us.
Its just like it was with Rape Victims in the 1970’s.
Got lost in the 80’s, got turned into “Recovery”.
We have to get really militant and score some definitive victories, like putting some Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists out of business, and in holding some parents accountable.
Tangible Results, not Therapeutic Release.
I have indeed experienced pill shaming. I’m not sure if I should put quotation marks around that or not. When I was about 28 I visited a friend. I was on drugs, a cocktail of them. She looked at my bottles, which I was then opening, and she said to me, “Ugh, well, okay, so it’s time for your DRUGS.” It was the look on her face of utter disgust that said everything.
The other pill-shaming I have received was from the withdrawal community. I found that I was too embarrassed to tell anyone that I still needed drugs to get to sleep. I had tried for five years and I had barely slept. I made the decision to reinstate and get my life back. I reinstated for three years. I think it was about a month ago that I stopped successfully. I wish, in retrospect, that people wouldn’t put such a huge value judgement on “drug-free.” Like there’s an either/or. We have chemicals in our food, in our air and water, no one in fact is “drug-free” so please get off your high horses. I understand the exuberance but just don’t shove it in others’ faces.
And mind the ageism also. Older people have complex medical needs. Some of us have organ damage from the drugs. Much of this is life-shortening. I have kidney disease and yes, it causes inability to sleep. Using the drugs to get to sleep was the only thing I could do until I figured out another way. I ended up staying away from the withdrawal community.
It gets to the point where you have to decide about quality of life. Who decides? YOU. Not your friends, not your doctor, not even your family. You.
she said to me, “Ugh, well, okay, so it’s time for your DRUGS.” It was the look on her face of utter disgust that said everything.
That’s how she felt though, I don’t think being horrified at what someone is doing counts as “shaming.”
I’m not saying no one engages in this, but again we also need to separate the personal aspects of this from the political.
Auntie Psychiatry has clearly exposed once and for all how this term came about, and her revelations should change the entire nature of this “debate” before it even gets started. Survivors are very good at defining what oppresses them; “pill shaming” has never been one of them and was artificially introduced by the other side.
I usually tell people who are upset about their past decision to take psych pills that it isn’t their fault. We were coerced or forced. If you first took drugs behind locked doors, even if you think it was willingly, it was force because you were incarcerated. We were lied to, told half-truths, told overblown stories of how effective they are. Likely, at the time, we made the best decision, or thought we were. They were doctors. Not very clever or insightful, but they wore lab coats (often) and actually in my case, they towered over me, too.
Sounds like you’re talking more here about people who are shaming themselves.
It is nonetheless important that those of us who have taken an AP stand but somehow find themselves back in the throes of drug dependency don’t feel that they have “betrayed” the movement, or anyone, by not being the perfect heroic storybook role model for resisting psychiatry. We are all human. I’m thinking particularly of Matt here.
This is ridiculous. I’m unsubscribing to this post in utter disgust. Yes, pill-shaming exists and just because some readers here have never experienced it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. If there’s a human trait (choosing to take pills, choosing not to, being forced onto them) then there’s going to be someone out there that shames you. There are tactful and not-so-tactful humans in the world. I’m not sure that those that shame people for taking drugs are doing them a favor since often pill-takers become more staunch in their belief that this is “medicine.” Shaming is cruel, and it often backfires.
If this is such a widespread problem why did it take a corporate psychiatric propagandist to identify it?
Anyway, “shaming” is only effective if you’re open to it. Or if you’re guilty of something. Otherwise the feelings of self-deprecation are already there, waiting to be “triggered” or exploited.
It is certain that feelings of self-deprecation are present in most of us who grew up in this highly shaming society. They are exploited by the system in order to create more compliant “patients,” and this can be very effective. It’s easy to say “not to be open” to shaming, but that has been a journey of decades for me, and I don’t think we can expect most people to be free from it. The real shaming that goes on is the labeling of someone as inadequate or insufficient in the first place, and the responsibility for that shaming lies squarely on the shoulders of the “professionals” who engage in it.
It’s also easy to defensively react to people’s genuine concern as “shaming” when making someone feel “ashamed” is not at all the person’s intent.
There IS a moral component in my view in blotting out or distorting one’s consciousness to avoid the truth, or “reality,” but this is a matter between oneself and one’s own conscience and absolutely not subject to others’ judgemental pontificating.
Also the concerns expressed here have nothing to do with the real motivation behind the “pill-shaming” meme as presented by those who originated it, which is simply to sell more product.
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Maybe what is needed is a piece on how to talk to folks or dialogue with them in regards to getting help or if they have pondered medication.
Because of the vast amount of Pharma ads and the way they are designed and implemented one would think of them as a solution. The madmen and madwomen know humans and are good at manipulation and propaganda.
There actually is a medical advertising hall of fame or should I say Shame?
So we all are immersed in this level of subtle manipulation on an ongoing basis.
So this is what I have done in my best self way- not every day is my best self and the rage comes and goes but when things are calm.
Okay so you want to work in some things- nite here- try to wait until I think I need help with this ————- full in the blank issue. To intervene as in an intervention do not do this unless you are prepared to accept responsibility from any negative fallout and do not cherry pick asking others about concerned person I would say don’t go there at all. Wait, be patient trust folks to know they may be in crisis.
I had an intervention done to me and as someone I lived once said to me the path to hell is paved with good intentions.
That being said if someone does identify a need of their own give them multiple options and information. If for sin reason in too much crisis do reflective listening and give simple options.
Most of the time the problem is the LACK of GOOD OPTIONS.
Ask for help from someone else or with lived experience.
I refer folks here and say I can tell you my story and thoughts.
U suggest all the alternative therapies saying – this is a journey, some may work , some may not.
Try to give low cost options or creative ways to get low cost options for alternatives ie massage schools, yoga teacher training – FREEBIES!
For talk therapy say try at least three folks – hit or miss- research each therapist
What do you want help with? What do you want to do yourself?
Sometimes some people have found help with medication but no one really knows why and then issues with taking are threefold and tell them.
Offer to go with them and be an ear and eye. One can ask to record interview or session.
And again I would repeat over and over this is your journey yeah it s—— that you are here but use it as a tool and sometimes better actually comes. And if they don’t believe okay but if I am right you buy me lunch? Humor is essential. And listen and shut up until specifically asked.
And the best thing is not to go away even if asked. Wait, sometimes the tuner stumbles and really does need a help or and or the finish line is reached and they want to process the journey.
And be truthful.If you don’t know you really don’t know.
So these are my thoughts/ do whatever with them as you all see fit.
Thanks for sharing this – I think it is brilliant!
What we need is political activism, as militant as possible. Survivors should only confess to comrades on the barricades, never to any kind of therapist, recoveryist, or religionist.
And Julie and Rachel, in the 1970’s Feminists uncovered the prevalence of incest and rape. And they did not let people turn it back on them. They defended themselves and each other.
But then in the 1980’s, this got turned into a need for therapy and recovery groups, completely neutralizing the political dimension.
Excellent book, no therapy or recovery at all.
Survivors of the Mental Health and Recovery Movement and of the Middle-Class Family need to start defending themselves. The assaults against us are all day everyday. But things start to change when you become a Resistance Fighter and so you stop talking, stop taking questions, stop looking for approval.
To go the next step though we need organized actions, and some victories to show.
I think though that people are going to do what they are going to do, if there is to be effective collective action, then there has to be an agreement that there should never be any need for mood altering chemicals.
“bans alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and recreational drugs”
If it is not handled this way, then some people will still argue that the NEED this or NEED that, and then it will be some who also NEED Electroshock and NEED Transcranial Magnet Zaps.
The 18th Amendment did not work. So we cannot impose this on the general population. I’m just talking about an Anti-Psychiatry guerrilla army.
I read the article. It doesn’t resonate with me as an unashamed pill-shamer.
Psych drugs differ little from street drugs.
Reminding people that they may die, become disabled, are making bad choices, can choose differently, are self-harming and causing long term damage can be vitally important to their awareness and recovery and is never frowned on when dealing with other drugs. Suggesting that the same tools are not transferable to psych drugs, smacks of continuing to hide the hidden.
Putting psych drug users (who absolutely fuel the problem) in a different category than street drug user is disingenuous. It ignores that Allopathic medicine is inherently garbage and the misnomer ‘medicine” is a sorry euphemism that obscures how pervasive misdirection and ignorance is, in perpetuate the problem.
I’ve never met a drug addict I’d want anywhere near my life. Drugs are drugs and drug addicts are drug addicts.
Maybe if we ever get clear about the facts and are allowed the freedom to speak to those truths, drug users would be able to examine the reasoning for their choices more fully and honestly.
Any conversation about drug use that omits the fraud of “MI”, chemical imbalances and the host of other lies upholding the drug lies, is just another lie.
How about as an experiment we encourage people to find past MIA posts which allegedly contain “pill shaming” language and evaluate them (before abandoning the entire subject once & for all)?
I’ve never heard of pill shaming before reading the above. I’m familiar with propaganda though and while I’m not a medical professional I’d recommend lowering the dosage of Mad In America. Side effects from exposure may include permanent emotional, social and political blunting.
Pills don’t feel shame. People do.
When a shrink–or at least as often a Big Pharma marketing huckster–points a finger at someone putting down someone being harmed by their quackery they have four fingers pointing back at themselves!
Psychiatry is nothing but SHAME if you take away the trappings of drugs and psycho-surgery.
What a great collection of truths! And lovely concise suggestions to minimize the potential for oppression! My favorite part is this…
“We’re not pill shaming you. We’re just sick of watching people fucking die.” — Sera Davidow
Similar to diet pills, or patches medications can provide some relief of what ails us, but do they really in the long run is always good to assess. Marius Romme stated that psychiatric medications are similar to smoking cigarettes and there is research to support this! This truth needs to be spoken strongly and loudly to power to stop the oppression surrounding human choice, and the tendency for those trying to help from collaborating without me and then trying to dictate what they think is best!
Thanks for writing this truth to power Sera and Caroline!
Sera, above you wrote, “The main point of the article was that “pill shaming” isn’t really a thing, for the most part… that it’s often about something else in the little ways it does happen, and that mostly the term is a misunderstanding of or misuse of power because the very few people who actually criticize people for taking psych drugs still don’t actually hold any power over them, and the argument that “pill shaming” is this real and frightening thing that is somehow equal to the force and coercion out there that makes people think they have to *take* drugs is just off base.”
Throughout your article and replies, you’ve talked about power. I agree with you that we should be looking first and foremost at how power is being used.
My thinking about this is in part based on the work of David Smail ( website down now ). He explained that we have to look at how power is being used, and that the experience of distress is something evolutionarily developed, to draw our attention to conditions which are making us socially marginalized.
And then in part my views have been influenced by Alice Miller, especially her book number 3, “Thou Shalt Not Be Aware”. When she wrote this she was at her very best, denouncing any and all forms of Psychtherapy, showing how they are simply interpretive schema’s for promoting denial.
Now unfortunately she was not able to hold to this. Not unlike R. D. Laing before her, she got wound into regression therapies and was never the same after. She often had opened doors, but was then unable to walk through them herself.
Psychotherapy is based on getting people to believe the lie that their pain is caused primarily by things which happened long long ago, and that they should ignore the things which socially marginalize them today. [Sentence removed for moderation.]
So in light of this, how could it make much difference if people take pills or drink alcohol? It doesn’t really, they are just getting by as best they can.
Well, part of the problem is that many still argue, even on this forum, that drugs and alcohol are good for people, that they help with this “healing”, and that they “expand consciousness”.
If we are going to fight back, we need people who are straight, I would say straight like Air Traffic Controllers. I would say that, but it goes even further. Even if someone has no mood alterants in their blood stream, but they still occasionally take them, then they are not really committed to feeling their pain. They believe in escape, and so their abilities will be limited.
Let me tell you this, I helped to get a man a long term in our state prison for molesting his daughters. And his entire Pentecostal Church was standing behind him and making it into an anti-government case. And his defense was based on ~mental health~ ~anti-feminism~ and ~anti-government~ arguments and sentiments in the jury pool.
When he was finally convicted and remanded, and then moved from the county jail to the state pen, the elation I felt was extreme.
I would never want to replace even one instance of that with a lifetime of something done by chemicals. Chemicals do not change anything in your objective life, just like psychotherapy does not change anything in our objective lives.
What we need are anti-mental health guerrillas, people committed to feeling their feelings and to getting results. So it’s not just being drug and alcohol free while carrying out duties, it’s a life style based on total commitment to staying drug and alcohol free, which will give us the kind of determined people we need.
To Live With Honor and to Die With Honor
So in the case of that man, he was using his “mental illness” label to hurt others as opposed to having others use it to hurt him?
Sounds plausible. I have seen cases of that, though they’re fewer than most people admit.
Something you never hear about is “non compliance shaming.”
There are dozens–no hundreds of websites and mags where people can praise their pills, shots, shocks. NOWHERE but MIA and a couple private sites are available for those of us who know we have been damaged.
Weird how happy consumers keep logging in here to yell at us instead of going to one of the countless other sites to tell how happy and productive their “meds” have made them and how they found salvation in psychiatry alone.
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I pill-shamed someone out of pills they didn’t really need once.
This is an excellent article. Thank you.