Getting A Diagnosis Meant That My Sister Never Had the Chance to Resolve Her Trauma


My sister Valerie was just 15 years old when a professional described her as having depression and hypomania. I’m not sure when after that exactly, but certainly while she still in her teens, she—and my parents—were told that she was bipolar, her brain had a ‘chemical imbalance’ and that if she took some medications everything would be fine.

But everything was not fine, and the ‘medications’ she was prescribed sent her down a path of no return, a rabbit hole of pills and labels, an upside-down world where emotion is numbed and denied, where there is no room for the messy stories of human distress to be explored.

A photo of a teddy bear being stepped on by a work boot

Over the years, sadly, the whole story became a self-fulfilling prophesy. And over time, it became increasingly difficult to know what the original problem was. After many traumas—caused by life and by her mental health difficulties which were never fully understood and were treated only with medications—she died by suicide in 2019.

Not in almost a quarter century involved with the mental health services did one person get close to the root of the pain that bubbled inside her like a toxic compound infecting every part of her. That my sister managed this situation with a smile on her face for large parts of it is a testament to her strength and spirit.

The system ‘treating’ her never saw the real her, the pain behind her smile—because it never really tried. It dispensed pill after pill, took blood, gave diagnoses, told her above all else she was ‘bipolar’—the cold syntax of psychiatry; you could say it’s not really compatible with human life.

Ironically, in places my sister’s medical file is littered with words like low self-esteem, worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt. These insights—tapping into her emotional state, rather than the usual analysis of her mood or diagnosis, only appear in the very early days of repeat hospitalisations when she was in her late teens and early 20s.

As the years passed, the narrative in her file changed to ‘long history of Bipolar Disorder’ as though that’s all there was to say. There was no need to look for any other reason for her behaviours. Bipolar—apparently—said it all.

To me though, those words—low self-esteem, worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt—underscore a deep sadness and loneliness within. Do professionals working in mental health services really believe that human emotions such as those are down to brain biology?

I know that today, mental health services will say they are so much better at recognising the ‘bio-psycho-social’ aspects of mental health, but I never saw any meaningful psychological intervention as regards my sister’s care. Was it because she had the label of being ‘bipolar?”


It is now recognised that most people accessing mental health services have suffered some sort of hurt—or what we call trauma—in their lives, so really, as the science of brain biology tells us, they are initially acting just how a person who is stressed out or distressed should be acting—their nervous system is reacting to protect them. However, instead of seeing a teenager in distress, heartbroken and unable to cope with watching her adored father battle addiction, she was seen as having a mental illness.

Seeking answers as to why their usually perfect daughter was acting erratically, my parents trusted what they were being told by the professionals in the room.

And I know people even today might think, “surely that couldn’t have caused her problems?” But the science of adverse childhood experiences is now well established. Problematic parental alcohol use is up there with the most harmful traumas a child can experience, leading to symptoms such as those associated with PTSD.

This is because the child is hit with a range of emotions that it’s impossible to process: confusion, anxiety, loneliness, embarrassment, guilt, and shame leading them to suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and sometimes thoughts of suicide.

But even though this is what she was dealing with, her behaviours were classified as unreasonable. She had to be medicated, hospitalised, silenced. In fact, when you think about it, her behaviours were a very normal reaction to a very sad and confounding situation.

Indeed, it might surprise many to learn that getting to the heart of people’s trauma isn’t part of mainstream mental health treatment. It’s something that campaigners have been shouting about for years. Now, joining the voices from the ground that have been calling for reform of mental health for so long are global heavy hitters—the UN and WHO.

This year, the World Health Organisation released a report that really signals the failure of biomedical mental health systems. WHO stated that mental health systems over-diagnose human distress and over-rely on psychotropic drugs to the detriment of psychosocial interventions and that a fundamental shift within the mental health field is required.

Separately, writing about suicide in 2019, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to have the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health stated:

“Driven by misconceptions that depression and suicide are a result of chemical imbalances, prioritizing suicide prevention through the treatment of depression is not evidence-based practice, nor is it compliant with the right to health. In fact, there is a growing body of research to suggest that excessive reliance on certain biomedical interventions, including antidepressants and voluntary and involuntary hospitalization, may have a counterproductive effect and lead to increased suicide risk. This is a systemic failure of the imagination that has wasted human and financial resources in the futile pursuit of a panacea, inflicted unnecessary pain and suffering, and costed countless lives….”

And it goes on.

These are hugely powerful messages coming from influential world organisations and, really, they are reflecting things campaigners have been saying for years: Let’s stop medicalising human distress, let’s listen to people’s stories and the growing chorus of expert evidence and research that says mental health systems based on labels and drug treatment are not working and are in fact further harming and stigmatising people.

Just a diagnosis

Faced with a system that offers loss of liberty, drugs with all sorts of nasty side effects, and stigma, is it any wonder that when people hit rock bottom, asking for help isn’t exactly an attractive option? For my own sister, she just could not face any more.

She had been there too many times, been traumatised and retraumatised and hit by the revolving door on the way out. It was a cycle she had endured for 20-plus years: highs, lows, medications, levels, moods, behaviours. Despite this, she survived for so many years, and survived attempts to take her life.

But not one time after any of those attempts did any professional provide a suicide prevention intervention with her or us—her family. The only thing I heard was a deafening silence.

She was no longer a person, just a diagnosis.

This story—that you are disordered, ‘bipolar’ and that medications are the answer—also had the knock-on effect of very early on telling my sister that she was the problem. Her brain, her make-up, her biology. The guilt and shame that this message pushed onto my sister—and indeed our parents—on top of her already low self-esteem was crushing.

This form of misinformation isn’t acceptable really, is it? It certainly wouldn’t be tolerated in any other realm of health care.

To this day, people don’t believe me when I tell them the truth: there is no such thing, really, as bipolar or the chemical imbalance—these are made up constructs to try to explain extreme human behaviours that no one really understands.

Some campaigners go so far as to say that psychiatric diagnoses are responsible for untold iatrogenic harm. I can’t help but agree. Why would you bother delving into your distress and trauma if you are told your issue is a chemical imbalance?

Even more harmful than the labelling is the story that drugs can correct said chemical imbalance. The research now is clear that the vast majority of people who take psychiatric drugs derive little or no benefit from them. Psychiatric drugs are psychoactive substances, like alcohol and heroin. They modify the way the brain functions and by doing so alter thinking, feeling, and behaviour in whomever takes them. How can this be classified as treatment?

What kind of sick society allows its people to be treated this way?

To quote Joanna Moncrieff, Professor of Critical and Social Psychiatry at University College London, and founder of Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry: “Psychiatric drugs do not target underlying disease or symptom-producing mechanisms; they create an altered state of mental functioning that is superimposed on underlying feelings and behaviours.”

Research shows that stopping antidepressants or lithium can actually cause depression or mania. Some doctors will try to say this is ‘relapse’, but many are now starting to recognise it as very real withdrawal effects that have been swept under the carpet for years.  Again—campaigners call it iatrogenic harm—but given all that is known now about the effects of medication, can it really be called inadvertent harm?

My sister would not have known any of this information, and I doubt it had ever been discussed with her that she could potentially taper off her medication. That would have meant a lot of work to help her deal with her underlying issues, and this was never an option.

At the time of her death, she was walking around on a cocktail of drugs powerful enough to put anyone out of their mind. They were: Sertraline (an SSRI antidepressant); Lamictal (a so-called mood stabiliser); Lithium (a so-called mood stabiliser); and Olanzapine (a so-called antipsychotic).

Every day for five months before her death, she was walking around largely unmonitored on this cocktail of strong drugs.

So to say she wasn’t herself in the months leading up to her death is an understatement. To be clear, I am not saying these drugs caused my sister’s death, but they certainly played a part and there is no way she should have been walking around unmonitored on such an amount of drugs.

The real tragedy about the issue of medication is that while academic psychiatry knows and accepts the very serious drawbacks and limitations of medication, in general no one tells the people most affected—those consuming these drugs, or indeed their families—and new research doesn’t seem to trickle downstream or alter the course of treatment.

Imagining a different future

I do believe that my sister’s right to health and life was denied by a system that does not treat people holistically and that medicates human distress over understanding it. And if we want this to change, we need to start demanding it.

Doctors and everyone who works in the field of mental health must understand that until people are told the truth—that their problem isn’t down to a brain disorder or a chemical imbalance—they will not be able to fully recover and flourish.

For me, I would just love some honesty from mental health professionals.

If my sister was 15 or 16 now, imagine if:

  • We had been given some knowledge about child development, brain development, stress, and that having big emotions doesn’t need to mean you have a brain disorder, it just means you are dsyregulated—your system is out of whack and you need to bring it back to baseline.
  • We had known that high or low levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—are associated with depression and mania in people with what psychiatry calls bipolar disorder
  • We had known that a feature of what psychiatry calls bipolar disorder is a dysregulated internal clock—things that control biological processes including the sleep/wake cycle and body temperature regulation are out of whack, and that most—if not all—of the so-called ‘bipolar’ symptoms connect to the human stress response. (Read Sarah Knutson on MIA)
  • We had known that there is no scientific reason why suffering should be stigmatised as disordered and pathological because no clinical biological markers have ever been found for ‘mental disorders’ nor have any genetic influences been verified despite the common belief that it’s ‘genetic.’
  • We had known that SSRI antidepressants could actually make manic symptoms worse and that all psychiatric drugs shouldn’t really be used long-term.

There is so much more evidence now about trauma, brain development, and the harm of psychiatric drugs that there is no excuse for continuing to harm people by ’treating’ them using a medical model of care.

It is no longer acceptable that mental health services do not actively seek to get to the root of people’s trauma—this should be their very raison d’etre, above anything else.

Given all we know, at the very least and as a matter of urgency:

  • Mental health services must provide accurate and objective information to clients about medication and should inform them of updated scientific information as it emerges and incorporate that into their treatment.
  • All mental health professionals should be trained in trauma, and trauma-informed care must become the norm, not the exception.
  • People should not be maintained on psychiatric drugs without close monitoring and psychosocial interventions and a plan to reduce and minimise as much as possible.
  • As outlined in the World Health Organisation report on mental health supports, environmental and psychosocial supports for people struggling with mental health issues should be available as an alternative to mainstream drug-led treatments.

These apply to services across the western world, where mental health outcomes are actually getting worse, not better. We all need to start asking our doctors, prescribers, politicians: With all of the knowledge we now have, with both WHO and the UN calling for an urgent shift and rethinking of services and systems that have failed so many, what is doing nothing called?

Is it willful blindness, iatrogenic harm—or something far worse?


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


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  1. I am sorry for the loss of your sister. I lost my sister, also, in 2002, but it was to cancer. To this day, I question how the chemotherapy and radiation therapy may have contributed to her passing as she somehow developed a second cancer in addition to her first cancer. I miss her terribly. I understand your reluctance to say that the drugs caused her to commit suicide. As a survivor of over twenty or more years on psychiatric drugs, in fact up to six or seven or more different prescriptions at a time and nearly dying myself from these drugs. I was nearly comatose in the spring of 2013 and only by the grace of God am I still here, I would gently beg to disagree with you. I would consider, although I know the death certificate, would never say such, that these psychiatric drugs did cause her suicide. The main thing different between your sister is that she was put on these drugs as a developing teenager when the brain is still developing; I did not get put on these horrific drugs until I was an adult over the age of 25 (the age they claim the brain is allegedly fully developed.) But, the main thing I think is that these psych drugs and I, also add the usual accompanying therapies and treatments are dangerous for people of any age. These drugs cause a hundred-fold times more suffering than they claim they prevent. These drugs are nothing but evil incarnate. I am so sorry that you lost your sister. I hope writing this article helps you and helps other who are thinking about this route to deal with their trauma. These drugs are just “adding insult to injury.” Please take care of yourself. Thank you.

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  2. How ghastly for you to have such a loss. I am glad you have found a good way for you to deal with your sadness about it. Honestly, MIA is getting like a funeral these days as more and more articles like this appear.

    I hate that you do not have your sister anymore. Too many people feel grief when they should have been spared it.

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  3. “Getting A Diagnosis Meant That My Sister Never Had the Chance to Resolve Her Trauma.” Distraction is the primary reason for DSM stigmatizing, and majorly tranquilizing, people … especially child abuse survivors.

    “Is it willful blindness,” well, the DSM is set up as a child abuse covering up system, by design. Since the “mental health” workers can’t bill for helping child abuse survivors, they have to misdiagnose child abuse survivors with the other DSM disorders, in order to get paid. And, wah lah! it’s then easy to be willfully blind to all child abuse concerns.

    Is it “iatrogenic harm—” When it comes to psychiatry’s “bipolar” drug recommendations – most of such drug cocktails can create ‘psychosis,’ via anticholinergic toxidrome – so I’d say that’s a highly likely reality.

    “or something far worse?” I’m not certain the “mental health” industry could be something worse than a multibillion dollar, scientific fraud based, iatrogenic illness creating, systemic, child abuse and rape covering up system. That’s a pretty sick reality.

    However, that then leads us to the even sicker reality. Which is that only a government controlled by and with pedophilia, would give undeserved power to a multibillion dollar, primarily child abuse and rape covering up, group of “mental health” and social worker industries. And sadly, we do all now find ourselves living in a “pedophile empire.”

    But this seemingly explains why Western governments are still doing nothing to reign in a run amok “mental health” industry.

    I’m sorry your sister never escaped the “mental health” system, Jennifer. My condolences on her passing, and thank you for so eloquently and truthfully telling her story.

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  4. That is a travesty. I am very sorry your sister died of psychiatry‘s Incompetence. I, too was misdiagnosed with Bipolar, ADHD, and Epilepsy and by age 36 was on 7 psychotropic medications against my will. I have since successfully tapered off all but one. Now I am not even on a therapeutic dose and have had no mood problems or recurrence of symptoms for a year and a half. My story will go public shortly. I am currently working with a Mad In America editor. I hope to help and inspire others in the same boat. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. I am so very sorry about your loss. It was a tragedy.

    I have been diagnosed as cPTSD. May I share my viewpoint? I’m in my 40s. Growing up my memories are of both of my parents being functional alcoholics. My first boyfriend was years of Statuatory Rape: it started when I was 15 (he was 25 & controlling) I clung to him for years because — to the mind of someone who has suffered serious emotional trauma — being abused again almost feels comfortable or deserved.

    Fast forward several decades. I have been through the mental healthcare system my whole life so I’ve seen it from the inside. I’ve also been on the outside, earning my license as RN & doing my own research.

    Question: Is labeling patients with diagnoses bad?

    Here’s the thing: maybe not ideal but necessary. It’s for insurance (stupid American health care), disability claims, schools (eg. IEP plans) . It’s also so that a patient can get the right type of care across multiple mental health specialists. For example, only a psychiatrist (or medical doctor) can prescribe medications, but that’s mainly what they specialize in. Other professionals such as Psychologists, psychotherapists, and counselors are who specialize the behavioral & psychological therapies. And here’s where it can be frustrating: there are many different types of therapies,. eg talk, Cbt, dialectical, family therapy, etc. It’s very unfortunate your sister didn’t get referred to the right type of therapist and/or her therapists did a poor job. I read somewhere it can take an average of 7 years for an adult to get the right diagnosis for mental health issue in the US. To add to the confusion, there are different tiers of training and qualifications. For example bad insurance or bad advice will keep someone seeing only a counselor, a license that has very low training requirements. Many insurance plans don’t like to cover more serious problems: it’s cheaper to manage the symptoms with a medication and occasional psychiatrist check-ins. They’ll do anything they can to not cover extensive long term therapy or psychiatric hospital treatments. The ONLY way this will change is if our government makes *proper* mental health care treatments mandatory for insurance. Or if the US goes to a single payer system where the law mandates full coverage.

    In the US, many areas are extremely under served for mental health care – period In my whole county there are only a handful of providers taking my insurance, and one can expect to be on a wait list 4-6 weeks before anyone will talk to you. Some are overwhelmed and never return phone calls. Obviously this discourages someone who is already struggling from getting more care. Don’t blame the profession. Blame insurance companies, high college costs, big forprofit corporations replacing clinics, and the challenges of the job. Reducing human beings to mere diagnosis labels is a function of insurance, but very few patients can afford to pay cash for their mental healthcare.

    When it comes to trauma, there are NO easy answers. Even if it is identified early and the person has great insurance, there isn’t one treatment that clearly gets great results. in the past few decades there are newer methods such as EMDR that are showing to get an improvement of symptoms in a majority of patients in the studies. There’s experimental work being done at the moment using guided sessions under esketamine (Ketamine), psycilocibin (mushrooms), and ecstasy. Esketamine has gotten FDA approval for mental health use, but training/use isn’t widespread yet. When your sister was younger, available were things like talk therapy, dialectical therapy, maybe some CBT — but these are hit or miss on who gets lasting improvement. For some, the wrong therapy can re-traumatize them and reinforce how broken/worthless they see themselves as.
    There’s no way to know if your sister would’ve had a significantly different outcome if her treatment wasn’t so medication focused.

    For anyone interested in research: if you like podcasts, I recommend Dr Huberman of Stanford University: The Huberman Lab. He is very science based and he covers trauma, brain chemistry imbalance, and the mechanisms behind neurotransmitters & of meds. Meds aren’t evil. It’s more like science is still in its infancy, trying to understand how the brain works.

    There is no clear cut fix for trauma, especially when it has its roots in childhood. Medications help people fit into society so we can hold a job & maintain relationships better. Therapy may or may not help. Family/relationship therapy might help, but the traumatized person cannot control if their loved ones will attend or are able to implement it. When it’s a situation of parent(s) who are addicts, all the treatment in the world may not help the child until she is able 59 permanently live elsewhere and can develop her identity away from the toxic person. Nobody can force the addict to get clean;he or she must do it on their own. Blaming the over use of meds may be overlooking the larger social, cultural, and financial issues. How do we prevent kids from being raised by addicts in the first place, in a culture where “partying” is cool and we value personal pleasure over obligation to family/community. The addict parent embraces their denial: “how could I be hurting my child? I love them and work hard to provide for them. If I need a few drinks after work to relax, it’s *normal*.” It comes as no surprise that many addict suffered their own trauma(s) in their own past. Trauma is like this infection that passes from one person to those around them.

    I understand the desire for an improvement on suicide prevention. But what could that look like? Currently a person can call a hotline, call 911, or drive to an emergency room. If someone hides their suicidal ideation, nobody could know to intervene. Simply admitting pain to a therapist or psychiatrist is common, and many people live in pain without ever considering suicide. Since about the 1960s, it’s been illegal to commit someone to a psyc hospital against their wishes (beyond a short hold period) . Perhaps I lack imagination but I don’t see any other way to prevent suicides?

    This is such a complicated issue. Any feelings of anger or outrage you have are valid. The world we live in does seem so uncaring and harsh. One thing I grapple with in my own trauma/depression struggles: accepting that things are not fair. Awful things happen to good people. People — even those we love or trust — are what they are. Flawed. Weak. Selfish. Dysfunctional. Mental health professionals are what they are: limited to the tools they were trained to use, limited how much they can do (insurance/financial), and unable to get too emotionally invested (risk for burn out). Government politics & regulations and cultural beliefs limit funding & freedom to try new treatments. We live in a world where having cancer gets a person sympathy but having a mental health diagnosis gets them shamed, distrusted, sometimes even losing a job or a relationship.

    In short: the world is a f-d up place. Identify the things that can be changed and pour yourself into that. Some things will never change. Crappy things happen to good people. You didn’t deserve that family environment yourself. You didn’t deserve watching your sister suffer so long and then losing her. You have my deepest sympathies. But be careful that you don’t own her pain and let it keep your from your own happiness.

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    • The fact that you promote CBT for those with cPTSD and childhood trauma indicates you have little experience in this arena.

      One way to improve suicide prevention is to stop using police with handcuffs as the first point of contact.
      Another improvement would be to force hotlines to be transparent about call-tracing.
      Another would be to actually keep proper records on involuntary hospitalization, something that does not exist in over half of the United States, according to UCLA public health research.
      Another would be to crack down on the misuse of restraints, a widely documented epidemic condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.
      Another would be to make even the slightest effort to combat the institutionalized racism and misogyny in coercive care as evidenced by countries that do collect complete records on forced psychiatric practices.
      Another would be to reform the kangaroo court of involuntary commitment to their obligation to honor habeas corpus.
      Another way would be to reform the sham psychiatric intake process to align with evidence-based diagnostic discipline.
      Another would be to provide watchdog access to locked wards to protect a population that cannot defend against malpractice as victims of testimonial injustice.
      Another would be to demand mental healthcare legislation and funding to set trackable KPIs.
      Another would be to draw a hard legal line between voluntary and involuntary psychiatry and enforce consequences for institutions that fail to provide informed consent for “voluntary” patients.
      Another would be to include trauma-informed care to suicide services which everyone can keep pretending exists but public health data across the board indicate otherwise, which fail to document whether patients are being abused, which causes institutions to empower and enable abusers and thwart victims’ attempts to escape abuse.
      Another would be to investigate institutions that commit fraud and warehouse patients under for-profit forced “care” illegally, something the DOD and FBI are looking into right now with UHS Florida.
      Another would be to fund investigative journalism into how many private prison companies also own involuntary psychiatry facilities for ~noncriminal~ patients.
      Another would be to formalize Psychiatric Advance Directives and make them legally honored documents.

      I got more. This is an abbreviated list.

      I was never stigmatized for having a mental illness diagnosis. I was stigmatized for rejecting a persecutory label that obscured the fact that I was legally, financially, and physically vulnerable to my abusive family and daring to criticize the mental healthcare industry and exercising my right to revoke consent when the person who has not lifted a finger in violence — unlike psychiatry, unlike my family — is scapegoated as the dangerous one.

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      • Wow, great post! I’d only add that involuntarily committed people should not ever be charged for their “care.” This would remove a big financial incentive for locking people up. Prisoners don’t pay for their imprisonment, neither should psychiatric inmates.

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        • What an appropriate comment that is! State laws vary, but the result seems similar. Someone, anyone, makes an accusation of mental illness. Police make the arrest. Medical incarceration follows with forced medication. Forget harmful drug interactions ordered by ignorant staff. Dependence may follow.

          Yes, the mentally accused must pay for his/her incarceration. If no insurance covers incarceration, the patient must pay. I accessed the law in one state and found that family are lawfully billed for this incarceration.Homes are lost. It really does happen. The accused must pay for their own kidnappings. How, then, is this not extortion?

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  6. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your sister.

    I do think that psychiatry is full of willful blindness. Eventually everyone in the system knows that what they preach is a lie, or at least most do.

    That is WHY the WHO is starting to make their “concerns” public, although, only because they realize that the public is catching on and becoming more aware.

    So I hear you when you say that people don’t “believe” you. I can guarantee that it is not that they don’t believe you, it’s that it is too much work for them to bother thinking about. Like people involved and caught up in the dogma of the day, why bother thinking?

    I have friends who take their pills and believe in them, sort of, 🙂 but they also do not think :).

    Now lots of folks will challenge you to come up with solutions to people’s problems if not psychiatry. And even Lieberman says such mindless garbage.
    That is only said to shut you down and try to intimidate, because of not having a definite answer.

    Psychiatry has the answers and they are ALL wrong. Deaths, disability, unhapiness, suffering has never been greater, not just for the person who went for their “mental checkup”, but for the families.

    Thanks for being gutsy and standing up for what you know.

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  7. Thank you for your article. How very tragic that even those with people around them who love them get swallowed up in the mental ‘health’ business. And those who care watch helplessly while the “experts” prescribe drugs and expose the ‘patient’ to attitudes/ideas/environments/substances ,etc. that alter the delicate machinery of the brain.
    Every person is an individual-there are always causes for any kind of illness. It takes time and truth and caring to search out those causes and get to the roots-not just try to suppress/cover up the symptoms. Reasoning from cause to effect takes a higher intelligence Some causal factors may not be changeable, but usually many are. It takes time to heal. It takes the right environment and care. A broken bone takes proper setting and time and nourishment to heal. A broken heart/mind can also surely heal with care.
    If the people around a person suffering mental trauma are toxic and are unable or unwilling to see their part in the trauma-that creates a prison difficult to escape from. The people the suffering one depends on are happy to bypass any personal accountability with the ‘chemical imbalance” lie. Their secret will never be found out-often even to themselves-they put on such a good show.
    “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
    Hearing truth is freeing. It cannot change what has happened in the past-but it can remove some of the confusion, shame, guilt, etc. the victim of the mental ‘health’ system may be carrying. And for one who has witnessed someone they love be destroyed by this system such as Jennifer-it must be very healing to channel their grief in a way that offers relief to others needing to hear the truth.

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  8. I’m very sorry for your loss, I’m sure she appreciated having such a strong sister (even though you probably don’t feel so at times). I have spent all my adult life in the psychiatric system in the UK and I would have made very different choices had I known the facts. Facts about the limitations of the various models we view mental illness by, the efficacy (or not) of the treatments and by implication whether the mental health act is really valid. The need for labels is far less in the NHS because no insurance company needs to be billed but it doesn’t prevent the human need to neatly package everything. Users/patients often comment that the cleaners and domestics offered most support because with no specialist training they were “just” left with the ability to listen on a human level. And sometimes that also gave them the ability to give constructive criticism rather than dance around the subject.

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  9. The answer to your final question is, in my view, medical negligence, malpractice, wilful stupidity, criminal behaviour, murder, manslaughter etc … all of which should be brought before a court of law. I am continually gobsmacked by the horror stories of violence enacted upon innocent people who end up in the wrong hands, and no punishment of the wrongdoer is sought, no accountability demanded.

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  10. This article speaks to me; and I am sorry for your loss.

    I have lost my brother, although he is not dead and he is not being drugged by psychiatry.
    I am the person being scapegoated; and he will not speak to me.
    I am under threat of being drugged.
    I am being silenced for speaking out against my mom who was instrumental in my getting a SMI label.
    I am being silenced for recognizing that the person, my mom, who made sure I got a stigmatizing label was the person that was negligent when I was run over in the driveway in 1966, suffering a traumatic brain injury (although she made sure that it was never called that, because it would have implicated her).
    She later called me names, told me I was ambidextrous, etc. when I asked about throwing a ball right handed but writing left handed.

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    • Getting a Diagnosis Meant that my Sister Never had a Chance to Resolve Her Trauma.

      That is the problem with psychiatry, of course. It distracts from the main problem: the trauma
      and/or the cover up of the trauma.

      Again, it is very interesting to me that the very people who are responsible for the trauma
      (usually the parents) are the same people who are searching desperately for a “diagnosis” that will distract from the original trauma and/or cover up of trauma.

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      • “Mental health diagnoses” serve a lot of social needs that have absolutely nothing to do with the health of the individuals so labeled. It has more to do with defining acceptable behavioral norms, removing blame from those in power, and silencing direct or indirect objections to the status quo. A kid gets “diagnosed” with “ADHD,” for instance, not because there is any identified medial problem, but because the child’s behavior is inconvenient for the adults involved. “Diagnosis” enables the adults to name and blame the child without the bother and the risk of finding out what is really happening. This is of course doubly beneficial to those who are guilty of abuse or neglect of the child, because they have something to cover up, and the “diagnosis” provides cover for them to continue to act out their own problems on the child without the danger of being called out or consequenced for it.

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