Robert Whitaker on Rethinking Psychiatry to Address Mental Health Issues


From Journey’s Dream/On Your Mind Podcast: “It’s alarming to know that there’s a rising burden of mental illness globally, especially for those diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar. It’s time to rethink psychiatric care and focus on providing solutions for mentally ill patients. The author of Mad in AmericaRobert Whitaker, shares his knowledge on psychiatric care and what has been wrong for so long. He talks about his argument on modern treatments, medicine, and the human rights model. Robert is an American journalist covering medicine, science, and psychiatric research. In this episode, he joins Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D., to discuss mental health issues, how society views psychiatric patients, and how our societal narrative has been the driving force for what we tolerate and allow. Tune into this conversation and learn what kind of outcomes that mindset would result in and the importance of creating non-traumatic environments today for people.”

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  1. Dear Robert,
    The link I provide here is of a channel on youtube created by a woman who sort of reminds me of your good self. You may need to view a couple of her videos to get a sense of her soft spoken methodical gift. I see a number of subtle parallels between the mass promotion of psychiatric drug treatments and surgical treatments for children with gender dysphoria. I am not sure “treatment” is the right word in either scenario. Selling bliss has always been a form of marketing death.

    You are a pioneer of informed consent. Most drugs are woefully experimental. As so it seems with experimental surgeries. A lot of children who are given drugs, or surgery, cannot possibly consent in any real sense.

    It is an interesting channel to binge watch. The similarities are astonishing to see. It raises issues of medical malpractice. This is dear to your own campaigning. The woman on the channel is a brave whistleblower. Like you, she appraises the data. The link is at the foot of this comment.

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  2. Dear Robert,

    Here is a quote from a very good article on MIA this week, titled “Antidepressant Effects on Serotonin, Plateau at the Minimum Recommended Dose”.

    (The researchers write that “approximately half of the patients stopping or reducing the dose of antidepressants experience withdrawal symptoms, which, among others, may include flu-like symptoms, anxiety, emotional lability, lowering of mood, and irritability.”)

    In reference to my previous comment, quite a number of children may have been on antidepressants and may be experiencing withdrawal panic attacks without being aware this is what it could be. Such daily anxiety for no external reason may cause them to think their body discomfort is to do with not liking their body. Prozac seemed to promise the allure of popularity by instilling a sunny disposition. Masses of populations went on them drugs without hesitation. There is probably not a person anywhere who did not suggest that elixir to friends and strangers. It was “the answer” to life’s nightmare of loneliness, abandonment, bullying, stress, trauma. Everyone offered “that answer” with near religious conviction and fanaticism. Take the pill and “be saved”. I have nothing against grown ups doing as they wish to their physical bodies and I believe some, indeed many, really are saved by that. But children are not grown ups.

    I do think the notion of “mental illness” can be used to corral someone and deprive them of their rights. But I also think that I need the definition of mental illness to help me understand when I am actually sick. There does need to be parents of small children. Why? Because children may run into oncoming traffic or swallow a bottle of perfume or make a sandwich of prozac. Some might say parents are the worst thing for children. Half the worlds parents are traumatizing their children and some are feeding them prozac in their school lunch boxes. That may be true. But just because society has gone to the dogs doesnt mean we chuck out all the ordinary and blatantly obvious ethical principles that have kept humanity going since the dawn of time. Children need protected from those who would bully their free choices, yes, but they sometimes need protected from their own rash choices while they are immature. And occasionally those rash choices must be called “ill” choices. Ill as in not feeling that great. Ill as in sick of life. Ill as in sick enough to not see any positives. A child who is ill may need parental care, even some form of compassionate medical care. But equally a child who is ill may need protected from such medical “answers”. Both can be true. If one dispenses with one of these truths it leaves the child open to abuse.

    There has been a gradual exhalting of the primacy of the child. This is due to psychoanalysis uncovering the importance of early nurturing. But this has been in lockstep with the degrading of what it means to be an adult. Fifty years ago nobody wanted to be a child. Everyone could not wait to be mature, have a spouse, a car, a lifelong career. That has reversed. Adults now dress like children, talk like children, have tantrums like children, want every toy life has to offer, like children. And alarmingly more are such children that they want to exploit actual children. Meanwhile actual children are fed up being children and do not see an adulthood to aspire to. So they become fractious, uncontrollable, unhappy, children who see childhood as a lie and a trap and a feeding ground for disturbed adults. So these actual children still want the childhood they are never getting.

    The term mental illness is useful to draw a boundary between well-being and ill-being. Yet whatever is useful, like a sports car or a barrel of whiskey or scalpel, can be used with wrongful intent.

    Why are adults so reluctant to be mature? In nature animals like maturity.

    Why is the media these days awash with sexuality? This is to the extent that children are indoctrinated into it before they can climb the pedestal to the toilet.

    I fear that what is coming is a time where children will say their self destruction is not “ill” or “sick” behaviour but justified responses to all manner of grievances. Oh I do not mean that an outsider looks on as a child does someting odd and goes…
    “Gosh that seems an unwell thing to do”.

    I mean it that the child themselves will have no way of knowing for themselves that what they are doing is a “not well” thing to do.
    All over the planet little girls are given FGM “surgery” in back rooms by aunts and cousins and many of those children do not have a knowing that what has happened to them is a mentally ill act done by a mentally ill adult. The children blithely think it is routine. The boundary between parent and child is missing. The boundary between well ways and sick ways is missing.

    No mature animal does FGM on its offspring. Animal instincts about what constitutes a child and what constitutes a mature adult are being eroded in humans.

    There does need to be boundaries.

    But all this vogue for trauma sensitivity whilst noble and healing seems to have a weak point where a predatory human adult who dresses as a child can do what he likes since to stop him might traumatize him, and a child can go for a spin in his car since to stop her might traumatize her.

    I honour all you do. I want you to continue to push for a better world that prioritizes trauma and downplays mental illness. But I think there are going to be areas in the future where it wont be simple.

    However, I think what MIA strives mostly for is not in fact trauma focussed care…

    but love.

    The pursuit of a loving world.

    But love is not logic. Love is illogical. No dad collects his kid from school from logic. Love is intuitive and instinctual and feeling and natural and knowing on a deeper level.

    (I must close now because my psychosis spectral being is telling me to…)

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