When It Comes to Mental Health Problems, The Disability Framework Fails: A Response to Comments

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On December 8, 2021, my essay appeared on MIA (“When It Comes to Mental Health Problems, The Disability Framework Fails”) arguing that mental disorder is not a disability, and that treating it as such is harmful. Over the ensuing weeks, many people responded with thought-provoking comments and concerns. I intended to reply to each of them in the comments section; however, given their number, complexity, and significance, I thought it deserved a follow-up essay.

I appreciate having this opportunity, as it furthers the discussion and it helps me flesh out my own ideas about this very important topic. I hope this “round 2” is responsive to the comments, clarifies my points, and clears up any confusion that may have existed. From the many comments posted, I distilled seven general themes of concern.

Professional vs. Patient

First, I want to caution against the well-known and perennially raised distinction between professional and “patient.” It was implied in many of the comments to highlight the idea that mental health professionals like me can’t understand mental disorder because we haven’t been there, and thus we can’t grasp how disabling it is. However, in fact, many mental health professionals themselves have been at the receiving end of mental health services. I was one who naively reached out for help several years ago, but fortunately I rejected the “treatment” at the beginning of my exposure to the system. Many other licensed professionals I know have also been in the position of psychiatric patient, with some suffering more harm than others.

Perhaps more important than being in the position of a psychiatric patient, an untold number of people, professionals included, suffer from the kind of problems in life that get diagnosed as mental disorder or mental illness without ever seeking professional help. As such, they are truly experts in mental disorder through personal experience, even though they have never felt the sting of psychiatric control.

Therefore, it is unhelpful to make this tenuous distinction between professional and patient. It leads to ad hominem attacks, distrust, and it distracts us from the very serious problems we see in the orthodox mental health industry that professional dissidents like me are trying to resolve. I suggest we abandon it.

Defining Suffering, Illness, and Disability

It is important to be clear in our definitions. If we don’t agree on standard definitions, we cannot discuss the topic being defined and any attempts to reform the system based on these discussions are doomed to fail. If we tried, we’d be talking past each other as each of us would be talking about different things. If we are loose and fast with definitions, we necessarily wade into an intellectual quagmire that we cannot escape. Perhaps this is what causes so much disagreement, not only with the present MIA discussion, but also with the larger discussion in the public arena about mental disorder.

I’m not the absolute authority on definitions (and neither is Merriam-Webster or Oxford), so I can’t put the matter to rest. But I can make suggestions. In my thinking, suffering is the subjective experience of distress. Illness is like suffering, but it also includes a dysfunction in the individual that is responsible for the distressing experience. Disability is the inability to do something because of how the dysfunction prevents it. If we use these definitions, all of us would be experts on suffering since everyone suffers and will always do so. However, we would be obligated to provide scientific evidence of the internal dysfunction before claiming illness and disability. Resorting to science this way is not haughty or fetishistic, as one commenter suggested.

Now I recognize that not all people hold these definitions. From the comments, it seems a few subscribed to the idea that the experience of suffering is synonymous with illness and disability. But that definition would be so all-inclusive that it would lose meaning. Since everyone suffers, everyone would have an illness and be disabled throughout their life. Mental disorder is very real, and I think we can all agree on that. The point of contention is whether it is caused by a dysfunction in the individual, or whether it is a natural and understandable, but problematic, response to difficult social contexts.

Psychiatric Iatrogenesis

Several comments implied that I had ignored the iatrogenically disabling nature of orthodox mental health treatment. I don’t think I did, as I pointed out in the footnote of my December 8th essay:

“For the purposes of this essay, I am excluding the DSM categories that are physiological illnesses….”

My focus is on the problems that are diagnosed as mental disorders, but that do not have any underlying physiological dysfunction – the great majority of so-called mental patients. The effects of psychiatric drugs, ECT, and psychosurgery can be disabling. But they do not cause mental disorder or mental disability. These psychiatric interventions cause physiological dysfunctions in the individual that are experienced as mental symptoms (e.g., anhedonia, akathisia, memory loss). The same goes for people who are diagnosed mentally disordered, when in fact they are suffering from other types of physiological dysfunctions that have mental symptoms, such as hypothyroidism, urinary tract infections, and Lyme disease.

It is illogical to call these mental illnesses or disorders, even though they are formally listed in the DSM as such (e.g., depressive disorder due to another medical condition). It is equally illogical to call their effects mental disabilities. They are physiological illnesses that have mental symptoms, and they would be treated by professionals of those medical specialties involved (e.g., endocrinology, urology). If they reached certain thresholds, they would cause physiological disabilities. When we know lethargy is caused by hypothyroidism, we’d refer the person to an endocrinologist, not a psychiatrist.

Psychiatrists have an important role to play in this situation, but it is not to treat the condition. Their role is to consult in cases of claimed mental disorder to determine if an underlying physiological dysfunction in the individual is the culprit, and then to refer the patient to the appropriate medical specialist. Imagine how wide psychiatry’s domain would be if any physiological condition with mental and behavioral symptoms was considered a mental disorder. Sadly, though, this is already the case.

Disabling Pain

Another concern was expressed in the physiological analogy of migraines, autoimmune conditions, and arthritis, suggesting that the experience of pain from these ailments is the essential disabling factor, not the ailment or dysfunction itself. My first reaction to this comment was that, while true, those things are the result of physiological dysfunctions and, therefore, are not necessarily germane to the idea of mental disability (see the preceding section). Still, this is an enticing idea, and I can see how the emotional pain of fear, shame, and despair associated with the problems diagnosed as mental disorders are thusly claimed to be disabling.

However, we are more specifically talking here about pain intensity, not just pain. There are many painful experiences, whether classified as physical or mental, that we tolerate and that do not prevent or dictate our actions. If they did, there would be an overabundance of disabled people. Fortunately, it is only when the pain reaches such a high level of intensity or abrupt onset that it overwhelms us to the point of reflexively responding with a total focus on reducing the pain, like the nociceptive withdrawal reflex. I agree that those moments of overwhelming emotional pain are literally disabling—we are not able to do otherwise at that moment because of the total and reflexive nature of the response. Yet, those moments are typically short-lived. In most situations, our reaction to emotional pain is not reflexive. We can tolerate it and continue to function, as is demonstrated in many examples.

In the December 8th essay, I used the extreme examples of a person who kills in the heat of passion and someone who complies with a gun-wielding attacker. These people obviously were experiencing emotional pain (rage and terror, respectively) that motivated their behaviors. But had they entered that brief but totally reflexive disabling state or were they able to inhibit their responses? I suppose we really can’t answer that question since it depends on the specific situation and person. But we must admit there have been plenty of cases when people have in fact inhibited passionate homicidal urges and terrifyingly refused to cooperate with an attacker. Still, when murder and compliance do occur in these situations, we can compassionately understand how the emotional pain forms the rationale for action, even if the person did not enter that totally reflexive state and was disabled. This helps when judging them, either in a court of law or the court of public opinion.

It is important to note that the difference between physical pain and emotional pain is that physical pain is about dysfunction in the individual. Emotional pain is not.

Beliefs, Perspectives, Skills

One commenter suggested that mental disability occurs when people lack certain beliefs, perspectives, and skills. But is this a reasonable definition of mental disability? For example, are atheists disabled from attending church because they don’t believe there is a God? Are Libertarians disabled from voting in favor of socialist laws because of their perspective on individual rights? Do we enable them by encouraging different beliefs and perspectives on life?

The same applies to beliefs and perspectives held by those who suffer from emotional distress. A person may believe they are worthless and, therefore, does not speak up assertively or demand better treatment from others. Still, they never lose the ability to do so, just like how the atheist can go to church despite contrary beliefs. Someone whose perspective is that technology and industrialization are the downfall of society and must be violently overthrown, can nonetheless choose not to carry out violent acts, just how the Libertarian can vote in favor of socialist principles despite a contrary perspective on politics.

Beliefs and perspectives form the rationale for action. They don’t enable or disable them. Although very difficult to do, a person diagnosed with schizophrenia can inhibit speech and actions. Someone diagnosed with major depression can get out of bed. Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder can stop spending excessive amounts of money. Despite their beliefs and perspectives, they can act contrary to them. Certainly, they don’t have the ability to just flip a switch and feel, believe, or perceive differently than they currently do. But there is nothing dysfunctional in them that is in charge. They are acting in accordance with their beliefs and perspectives, thus, their desires in the moments of action. Those beliefs and perspectives do not disable them or dictate their thoughts and actions.

Regarding the situation where a person lacks certain skills or knowledge, does this constitute a disability? If I don’t know how to dance the Tango, is it reasonable to say that I am disabled? Of course, I am not able to dance the Tango without lessons, but is this what we’re talking about as disability? What if I don’t know that my phone is ringing in another room, do I lose the ability to answer it?

One’s level of skill attainment or knowledge provides know-how and rationale, respectively, to perform certain functions. But I think it is a stretch to take this to mean they are mentally disabled without the skills and knowledge. The disability would be present if they were somehow not able to perform those functions even with the skills and knowledge. What kinds of skills and knowledge are lacking in people said to be mentally disordered? In my professional and personal experience, I’ve found that the great majority of us have the skills and knowledge to make changes in the way we live life, but we resist employing them because of the sheer difficulty and consequential suffering in doing so – no surprise there.

As with the issues above of definitions, iatrogenesis, and emotional pain, imagine the surplus of disabled people if we applied these criteria of beliefs, perspectives, skills, and knowledge to mental disability.

Misunderstanding My Views

I think I failed to explain my views fully and clearly, as some comments suggested a basic misunderstanding of them. One example was summed up in the claim that mine were “a lot of words for ‘Just suck it up.'” Another responded with “it is not always a matter of ‘just stopping.’” The minimizing term “just” is used in statements like these to imply that I think it is easy for people to change. But my view is the exact opposite—significant personal change is very hard and it takes persistence and a willingness to suffer through the inevitable consequences of changing. But this difficulty does not equal disability.

These and other comments also hint that I am morally judging people as lazy, wrong, or bad, and therefore are to be blamed for their predicaments. It is true that my perspective is consistent with the existential psychology concept of freedom and in this sense recognizes that all of us are responsible for experiencing our lives and making decisions about those experiences – it is something we cannot escape. Still, such a perspective does not involve the moralizing concept of blame or fault.

This is also an empowering perspective. It points out that no mental dysfunction in the individual stands in the way of change, even though we can fully understand one’s actions, thoughts, decisions, and resistance to change.

Conflating Disability Accommodations and Compassion

There were some comments that implied I was advocating for the elimination of aid to people who are mentally suffering. I am not, and I emphasized this in the December 8th essay when I said:

“Human diversity of mental experiences and behaviors can be valued without invoking impairment and disability. Let’s find a different way to assist those struggling with life challenges without branding them with the identities of the disordered, dysfunctional, and disabled.”

I am simply pointing out what I think is a flaw in the current system of assistance. In my view, branding people mentally disabled (i.e., defective) not only lacks evidence and logic, but it also perpetuates the problem. It is the basic scaffolding that supports the harmful treatment of people so diagnosed and the denial of their basic human rights. They are mistakenly considered mentally defective and, thus, viewed incapable of exercising those mental faculties. This includes making appropriate choices for their own benefit and whether they need the “treatment” and “protection” of the mental health industry.

We can honor human rights and aid people who are suffering without resorting to disability as a reason. Can’t we show compassion for people, help them to the extent that we can, and afford them basic human rights regardless of their specific situations? The conventional disability system seems to be the only route at present, and I am suggesting that we start looking for a different way to help people without tagging them mentally and behaviorally disabled.

I’ll end this follow-up essay the way I ended the first one … I realize this is an enormous challenge.

***

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.

9 COMMENTS

  1. “Professional vs. Patient” “I suggest we abandon it”.

    I think that Philip Zimbardo might agree with you, and I guess if we abandon the role of Prison Guard versus Prisoner in our “Correctional Facilities’ much of the violence suffered due to ‘role confusion’ might go away? I note that my brother who worked in the prison system for 25 years, was also at one stage early in his life actually held in one such place.

    I think trying to ignore the power imbalance in such ‘relationships’ (particualrly the more abuse ones) is a bad idea. I suggest we abandon it.

    “My focus is on the problems that are diagnosed as mental disorders, but that do not have any underlying physiological dysfunction – the great majority of so-called mental patients.”

    Don’t you mean ‘any IDENTIFIABLE underlying physiological dysfunction’? The inability of doctor to identify the root cause of the issue, does not mean one does not exist. In fact, I think you point to the ‘problem’ with your following sentences.

    “The effects of psychiatric drugs, ECT, and psychosurgery can be disabling. But they do not cause mental disorder or mental disability.”

    In fact, you may find that many ‘mental patients’ are subjected to these so called ‘treatments’ as a means to cause mental disorder or disability. Side effect if you must, but I think Frantz Fanon makes it very clear that the use of electricity during interrogations was not to cause the physiological harm you speak of, but to use the psychological distress caused by that harm to advantage (what he called ‘psychological services’ of the French government in Algeria). Is the same not true when waterboarding? Little harm physically, but the psychological harm of ‘near death experience’ great for overcoming ‘resistance’ to confess?

    Haven’t got much time so have to leave my comments there. Bit busy trying to over come the trauma of being deliberately ‘fuking destroyed’ by an Operations Manager (as representative of the State) at a mental institution where they subjected me to 7 hours of interrogation whilst drugged with date rape drugs without my knowledge, and with Police weapons pointed at me forcing me to ‘confess’ to my ‘disability’ or ‘disorder’.

  2. Just noticed this in your C.V. Dr Ruby

    “Executive Director of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP)”

    How ethical would it be for a psychologist who was informed of the events I mention above, to be used by Police to find out “who else has the documents?” for them, and to conceal an attempt by police to refer me to mental health services for complaining about being ‘spiked’ before being interrogated. ie this particular psychologist spent quite some time going over the documents they State thought they had retrieved from the nutjob, before sending the fraudulent set to my legal representatives. Questions the ‘client’ would never answer to police spoken about under the false belief that the matters were confidential? same as the use of criminal lawyers by police as informants? (see Nicola Gobbo lawyer X) Clever really, though quite a breach of trust and confidence in my opinion.

    Police were of course concerned when I turned up with those documents wanting to make a complaint about being tortured by them, and so threatened this psychologists family to ensure his silence, and to have him use his position of trust with me to find out who else was aware of their misconduct that had been ‘covered up’ by the State government.

    I get it that he was threatened, but it seems a bit misleading to have someone you claim to be trying to help with therapy, only to exploit their trust to obtain information for police to enable the concealment of acts of torture and kidnapping. Which is exactly the sort of thing you would expect from a government that is enabling torture methods via the Mental Health Act. (the loophole of “inherent in or incidental to lawful sanction” combined with arbitrary detentions making torture available to public officers at ‘street level’)

  3. This new discussion touches on many of the basic issues and problems connected with anyone who seeks to help another out. In so doing, he or she takes the role of “healer” (or helper) more or less forcing the other to admit to being “ill” or needing help.

    When a beggar walks up to me and asks for money and I give him some, while I can assume I have helped him to some degree, I dare not fool myself that I have healed him. If I interact with him in some other way, and later I see him again and he is happy and thriving and walks up to me to shake my hand to thank me, I can then be a little more certain that I’ve healed him. Yet in the end I should be humble enough to remember that I really only helped him decide to heal himself. That is the first barrier that any healer in this field must face.

    If I am a “professional healer” and someone is brought to me who is in obvious distress and I do something to relieve that distress, did I help the one in distress or the one who brought them to me because their distress was upsetting to them? When a doctor sets a fracture even though the patient never asked him to, then the patient heals (or, perhaps, fails to heal), what exactly occurred there, anyway? This is entire realm of concern for many ex-“patients” as they were not aware of ever asking for help and feel the “help” they got was destructive.

    If we can wade through these basic questions of what is help and healing, we still are left with the problem of the skill and exact intent of the healer. And the general agreement – at least on this website – seems to be that professional-level skills and noble intentions are often lacking in the “professionals” that many patients have interacted with.

    This speaks somewhat to the topic of this article: Should a condition of mental distress be seen as a disability? The meanings here become so exacting and intertwined with various legal definitions that I feel unqualified to give a proper answer. But clearly, the “disabled” have been granted access to certain legal remedies in recent years that the simply distressed cannot take advantage of. And to the extent that “treatments” are unsuccessful and the distress becomes a chronic problem, it begins to look more and more like a disability, even though this doesn’t make that much rational sense.

    In this way, we could see the willingness of the mental health community to get mental disorders treated as disabilities as a form of admission of failure. A person with a mental problem should not have to walk around thinking he or she is permanently disabled, yet this aligns with the actual experience of many such people.

    I know a woman who has been dealing with mental-emotional problems her entire life. Though in a perfect world she in theory could have been cured, this is not what happened to her. And though she works 40 hours a week at a real job, she has also developed obesity and other body problems to the point where she has been declared by a doctor to be actually disabled. She no longer has any hope of overcoming her mental conditions, and her physical problems now only add to her suffering. This is a failure of our “system” and I am sure not at all unique or special. And though I am convinced that a professional healer could have cured her long ago, and dug her out of any relapses, the average American – much less Indian or African – has nearly zero access to people that good. The “system” doesn’t aspire to be that good, even though it has that potential.

    So, from my point of view, a wide variety of factors have led us to this unhappy place. People with mere disorders that should be curable are being turned into disabled who can now hope for no better than to get some sort of compensating action from society because of their disability. Of course this whole “framework” does not promote a very hopeful attitude or productive approach for the mentally ill, but is does reflect the sad reality of our current condition.

  4. I missed your first blog, and the active discussion afterwards, and will go back and read it when time permits. But I do have some comments on this blog.

    “we would be obligated to provide scientific evidence of the internal dysfunction before claiming illness and disability.” And this is precisely what the industries that bill utilizing the “invalid” DSM “bible,” do NOT do.

    “Mental disorder is very real, and I think we can all agree on that.” Distress is real, but I’m not so certain about “mental disorder.” My former psychologist finally admitted to me, when I was picking up her medical records, that she believed distress caused by 9/11/2001, shortly after 9/11/2001, was distress caused by a “chemical imbalance” in my brain alone. That, of course, merely proved – all the more to me – that she was a nut job.

    “The point of contention is whether it is caused by a dysfunction in the individual, or whether it is a natural and understandable, but problematic, response to difficult social contexts.”

    Or if the so called “mental disorder” is caused by iatrogenesis. As in my case, where a psychologist misdiagnosed “brain zaps” – a now commonly known symptom of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome – as “bipolar.” The antidepressant, Wellbutrin, was prescribed under the untrue guise of a “safe smoking cessation med,” not for depression, just an FYI.

    “The effects of psychiatric drugs, ECT, and psychosurgery can be disabling. But they do not cause mental disorder or mental disability.” I completely disagree, and even the DSM-IV-TR states:

    “Note: Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.”

    So even the psychiatrists used to know that calling the common adverse or withdrawal effects of an antidepressant “bipolar” was malpractice. And as to the antipsychotics / neuroleptics, every doctor is taught in med school that both the antidepressants and the antipsychotics can “cause” “psychosis,” via anticholinergic toxidrome.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxidrome

    And the neuroleptics can create the negative symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome, as well.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroleptic-induced_deficit_syndrome

    “In my view, branding people mentally disabled (i.e., defective) not only lacks evidence and logic, but it also perpetuates the problem.”

    No, it creates a problem, so as to distract a person from their real life concerns. As in my case where it turned out, according to my family’s medical records, my misdiagnosing psychologist was actually just trying to cover up the sexual assault of my very young child for her pastor and his pedophile friends. And it is defamation of character to call someone “defective” or “w/o work, content, and talent,” especially, prior to looking at a person’s work. Once my psychiatrist finally bothered to look at my work, he described it as “insightful,” “work of smart female,” and he weaned me off his neurotoxins.

    “I am suggesting that we start looking for a different way to help people without tagging them mentally and behaviorally disabled.”

    Absolutely, I agree, and I believe MiA is trying to do just that … like, for example, pointing out the success of the Open Dialogue program and the Hearing Voices Network.

    I do not see, however, too many of the psychologists and psychiatrists working to find viable alternatives. For example, about twenty years after I was attacked by that first child abuse covering up psychologist, I was attacked by another one. Who freely admitted to me – after I refused to sign his appalling conservatorship contract, disingenuously dressed up as an “art manager” contract – that his goal was to “maintain the status quo.”

    But I do thank you for being one of the psychologists who is calling for real change of the stigmatize / defame and neurotoxic poison – and systemic child abuse covering up – industries.

    https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/23/18820633.php?fbclid=IwAR2-cgZPcEvbz7yFqMuUwneIuaqGleGiOzackY4N2sPeVXolwmEga5iKxdo
    https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/04/heal-for-life/
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-child-does-not-have-bipolar-disorder/201402/dsm-5-and-child-neglect-and-abuse-1
    https://books.google.com/books?id=xI01AlxH1uAC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

    The DSM really should be flushed, it’s full of “bullshit,” even according to its former editor. And it lacks relevant information, like about anticholinergic toxidrome, neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome, antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, and the ability to truthfully bill for helping about 80% of the “mental health” industries’ clients.

  5. My weight gain is disabling. It is putting extra pressure on my knees and muscular skeletal frame which in turn causes pain and inflammation which results in a vicious cycle of avoidance of physical activity which leads to more weight gain. I am obese by medical standards. As a result of my obesity I have developed sleep apnea, a swallowing disorder, a chronic cough related to acid reflex as well as a host of negative self perceptions fed by shame and guilt. I identify with proponents of social change who want to remove the shame I feel such fat phobia and fat-shaming in the media. I want full exclusion in society. But will the elimination of fat-shaming help me get up the stairs faster without losing my breath? Of course not. Every person at some time in their life will face severe physical limitations caused by aging–this is inevitable. Some people experience physical disabilities due to self harming activities like like over-eating or smoking. Some people experience physical disabilities due to a tragic accident or iatrogenic harm. People with physical disabilities are in one camp. People with Intellectual or developmental disabilities belong to a whole different camp. People disabled by self harming activity are in another camp. People who are perceived to have psychiatric disabilities are in yet another camp. These camps or tribes rarely dialogue, just like trumpers rarely communicate with neo-liberals. Thanks for being willing to start a difficult dialogue. Hooe you dont get shot down too much for your effort.

    • Wow. The woman I know is in almost the exact same physical condition.
      And her frustration with her situation is likewise upsetting to me.
      For me to know that this started with an emotional-spiritual cause that could have been addressed and handled but was not puts some sadness in my life that I could do without.
      Yet with me it is at least an informed sadness. My challenge now is not to discover what could have been done, but to discover ways to get others to realize that there is something they can do.

  6. Hi Chuck,
    well apparently I missed your original essay, but I’ll take a stab at this one.

    For the last 15 years my wife and I have been walking the healing journey together from her early childhood abuse and extreme dissociation. I do understand your concern. I NEVER treat my wife as if she is disabled or dysfunctional and yet, the simple fact is, right now, she is clearly disabled and dysfunctional, literally. There are MANY basic things she is unable to do right now. Dissociation slices and dices the brain’s ability to access many personality traits and mental functions until those dissociative walls are torn down and the pathways are re-established. It’s not a matter of she could if she just tried hard enough. It’s a matter of those neural pathways have atrophied after 4 decades of disuse and it has taken us 14 years of constant, daily work to begin to reinvigorate them. And though she has come a long way, it’s mind numbingly complex and exhaustively tiring and takes both of us to help her undo the problem.

    But that doesn’t mean i treat her as if she is PERMANENTLY disabled or dysfunctional. I look at the goal, her complete healing, as I walk with her and help her heal and re-establish the mental pathways to access the things she lost to the trauma and dissociation. I never belittle her, but I do accept her limitations for now and i help her heal and grow stronger toward our mutual goal.

    It’s a complex problem and one our culture and the mental health system gets terribly wrong. I sympathize with your desire NOT to label anyone as disabled or dysfunctional because I have NEVER treated my wife that way…and yet, right now, she would definitely struggle, to put it mildly, if she was on her own and had to hold down any kind of a job.
    Sincerely,
    Sam

  7. “The effects of psychiatric drugs, ECT, and psychosurgery can be disabling. But they do not cause mental disorder or mental disability.”

    I think at this point there needs to be a category for people who have been disabled by psychiatric “interventions”. Prior to ECT, even though I had already experienced a great deal of harm from psychiatry, I was still able to maintain a full-time job. After ECT, and several other treatment induced harms including forced antipsychotics, I was no longer able to work. I was actually told by my employer after a year of them threatening to fire me that I should apply for disability (after being called into yet another meeting with my supervisor and human resources, where my failings were listed, where I was humiliated.) I think they saw, as frustrated as they were with me, that there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t control. They were right. I had brain damage. But I couldn’t apply for disability based on that. If I could have, I would have, but no doctor would even certify that I did in fact have brain damage from ECT and psychiatric drugging. I needed to not have to go to work and to still be able to pay my bills and the only way to do this was to apply as someone who had severe mental illness, in my case the diagnoses were borderline personality and treatment resistant depression. As far as social security and all the forms were concerned, I was a person who had severe mental illness and who had not responded to multiple treatments for said illness and so had to finally go on disability. That was not the truth of the situation. The ECT, the forced drugging and the treatment induced trauma is what prevented me from being able to continue to work to support myself. But there was no category for that. There was no one who – even if I were so bold as to make that claim – would back it up.
    It has taken 15 years since that ECT, 15 years of trauma shame isolation fear remorse illness terror humiliation, for me to finally realize that not being able to perform at work anymore was not my fault. It was the fault of the treatment and the people who decided that that was what I needed. There needs to be a category for people in my situation. A quick glance through this website will show any doubters that there are many many people who fall into this category.

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