Doctors Are Not Trained to Think Critically

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Doctors are not trained to think critically.

I went to medical school in 1977. I was still only 17 years old but it was a great relief after the horrendous years I had spent at an all-girls boarding school. My fellow students and I started our first year ‘pre-clinical’ training with 4 ½ days a week of lectures. We were expected to assimilate a massive amount of information and then to regurgitate it during the end of the year exams. Those who failed would have one chance to re-sit and if unsuccessful, they would have to leave medical school.

University students are expected to be inquisitive, to ask questions, but at medical school, it was the other way round. Medical students were expected to answer questions correctly to the lecturer or teacher’s satisfaction.

Young handsome doctor man pointing with finger at you as if inviting come closer.

I already felt disadvantaged; one of the lecturers had broadcast that any student who did not have ‘A’ level Physics should not have been granted a place at medical school. I was one of those students. I had done Maths ‘A’ level instead. My school didn’t do physics or chemistry and I had had to cycle to a neighbouring school just to get the mandatory ‘A’ level Chemistry lessons.

I clearly remember the time when I dared to pose a question during one of our lectures: We were learning about asthma, and I asked why it was that I suffered from wheezing after a thunderstorm but at no other time.

“Impossible,” said the lecturer, “grass pollen is the wrong size and cannot provoke any kind of allergic reaction in the bronchioles (small airways in the lungs).”

I felt humiliated—he had just denied my experience in front of 80 students.

It was many years later that I discovered that doctors had observed this phenomenon on a regular basis. It is now understood that aerosolization of pollen in thunder storms can indeed provoke dangerous asthma attacks for hay fever sufferers like me.

This was just one small example of how humiliation of medical students was routine. By the time we got to our clinical studies and spent most of our time rotating around the various specialities in the local hospitals, we were well used to being subjected to belittling treatment at the hands of our superiors. The ward round was a time when the consultant showed his (rarely her in those days) colours. It was not enough to dominate their junior doctors; terrorising medical students was a daily occurrence. We would be quizzed over a patient’s condition and if we failed to give a satisfactory answer, then making personal and derogatory comments to our detriment was considered fair game.

I was not looking forward to my psychiatry rotation. The prospect of spending time in the large institution, Springfield Psychiatric Hospital in Tooting, was scary. Medical students were tasked with presenting written cases on a variety of patients, finding examples to illustrate the most common psychiatric diagnoses. I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed the experience of interviewing these interesting patients. I felt privileged to have the time to sit and listen to the reasons why they were in hospital and discover more about their background and circumstances. I did well and was awarded an ‘A’ grade for my efforts.

However, I wanted to be a surgeon, so my interests lay elsewhere. As it happened my life took an unexpected turn when I became pregnant. I had no maternity leave and had no family help. By the end of the training, when I finally qualified as a doctor, I was exhausted. I was told that my decision not to go straight into work as a junior doctor was tantamount to career suicide, but I wanted to give our little daughter the best chance in life by looking after her myself.

I didn’t start work as a junior doctor until 8 years and 3 additional children later. My husband and I role swapped to enable me to work the grueling 80-100 hours a week required to get my full registration as a doctor. My intention was to become a GP, but just before I reached that goal, I was side-lined into postgraduate training to become an A&E consultant.

At that time, there were only a few brave patients who came to A&E following overdoses, and it was very rare to see any other manifestations of self-harm. The medical profession expressed a global disdain towards these individuals; those diagnosed with a mental health condition were highly stigmatised and considered weak or defective characters.

Admittedly I was tired out. I had been present during some very distressing resuscitation attempts of young children and the memories of my awful, traumatic experience of boarding school had just surfaced. I knew the reasons why I was having an emotional crisis and I went to my GP for help. The GP left little room for discussion before telling me I was depressed. I left the GP surgery feeling utterly bewildered and wondered how on earth a pill like Prozac was going to fix my problems. But I was a doctor and conditioned to believe that the experts knew best. The GP must be right.

I took the Prozac for a while, but it just gave me side effects, so I stopped it. I had no idea that stopping antidepressants precipitously was not a good idea. I had been told they were not addictive and had very few side effects.

My circumstances didn’t change, and I was still very tired, very stressed and feeling unhappy. I became increasingly anxious about the responsibility of treating very sick patients with minimal support from more experienced doctors. When I went back to the GP, I was signed off sick and told I must take the antidepressants and the dose was increased.

At home, alone, with no-one to talk to, things went downhill rapidly. I loved my husband but genuinely didn’t want to burden him with what I felt were unreasonable concerns. After all my profession told me I should be able to cope, and the GP had assured me these pills would soon make me better. I just had to wait it out. But I just kept feeling worse. I couldn’t sleep, I felt agitated, my thoughts were going round and round and then I became suicidal. Being suicidal made no sense. I had a loving husband, four beautiful children. I had a job. There was no reason to want to die.

Nobody understood that suicidal thoughts could be caused by the very drugs which are used to treat depression. When I shared my thoughts with a doctor friend, she was alarmed. I was taken to an emergency appointment at the GP, then an emergency appointment at the department of psychiatry and my husband was told I must be admitted straight away.

That was just the start of the seven-year fiasco, where I was continuously treated with a changing cocktail of psychiatric drugs and multiple ECT treatments. I never improved, instead slowly became worse and worse, as a revolving door patient.

I was given psychotherapy all through this time, but the therapists were not impressed by my accounts of childhood trauma. Apparently, nothing I told them was sufficient to cause the state I found myself in. Nobody considered that the treatment I was having could possibly be detrimental in any way. Nobody understood that the drugs I was taking could be responsible for my deterioration. Instead, I was told that my brain was disordered, that I had a chemical imbalance, and I was seriously ill.

When I started to act out on my suicidal thoughts, self-harming to the extent that my life was in danger, I was sectioned and, in the sixth year, admitted to the secure ward and placed under continual observation. The prognosis was so grim that I was offered psychosurgery. I was desperate to get better. I wanted to be normal, live at home and be a mother to my children. I agreed to the surgery, not really knowing what else to do.

At the point of the psychosurgery, the psychiatrists reduced the cocktail of five drugs at extremely high doses down to two drugs at lesser doses. When I made a spectacular recovery, even the psychiatrists thought it was miraculous. But they could not credit the psychosurgery as responsible for what happened when the ‘light switched on in my head’, nor was the reduction in the number and doses of drugs I was taking ever considered to have any bearing on my recovery.

Eventually I was discharged from the hospital, and I started to take myself off the remaining doses of antidepressants against the wishes of the psychiatrists. When I reported brain zaps, the psychiatrist had no idea what to suggest, other than reduce the dose slowly.

But I was only drug free for a couple of years. During this time, I even managed to get back to work and I was writing my memoir, going through my medical notes to glean the necessary information. The psychiatrist was worried when I reported that I wasn’t sleeping well. He convinced me that this was a sign that the depression was returning. What he said scared me so much that I capitulated and went back on antidepressants.

When my book was published in 2006, I was doing ok, but it didn’t last long. Within a year, I was back to being depressed and suicidal. I felt a terrible fraud having told the world about my successful psychiatric treatment. Once again, I was admitted, this time given ECT. This time, when I was discharged, I was told I must take high dose antidepressants for life. I was also told that I would never fully recover and suffer recurrent relapses. I was therefore advised to avoid all stress and that meant I should never work as a doctor again.

When we moved away and my husband started his training to become a counsellor, I started to hear a different story to the one that I had been taught as a doctor and different to what had dominated my life as a psychiatric patient. I had believed the psychiatrists when they told me I had a very biological depression caused by a chemical imbalance or some kind of as-yet-unidentified brain disorder. In addition to being told that my only hope was to take antidepressants, I was also advised that having any further psychotherapy which went over the events of the past was pointless, and would only serve to further destabilise my precarious remission.

But each day my husband came home from his training and started to drip feed me with alternative ways of looking at things. Maybe feeling stressed and unhappy was a normal response to terrible circumstances. Maybe believing that those supposedly negative emotions were abnormal fed the downward spiral. Maybe hearing society reinforce a message that you should be happy all the time while experiencing the stigma from my profession made it all worse. When the psychiatrist told me time and time again that I was ill and would never recover, maybe it had become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

But could these experts really be wrong? After all, they were highly trained, highly skilled doctors involved in research. Surely while these eminent professors of psychiatry said that I was one of the worst cases they had ever treated, there was no way I could have just been a normal person reacting in a normal way to difficult circumstances. Could I?

When I weaned myself off the sedating antipsychotic drug which had been added to the cocktail of high-dose antidepressants, I felt a lot better. The psychiatrist was not happy. He warned me. If I was to stop any more of my drugs, I might once again find myself back in hospital with a relapse.

When I tentatively started to return to work as a doctor—very part time at first—I was fine.

By 2016, I had seriously started to doubt that suffering awful side effects from taking off-licence high doses of two antidepressants was worth my while. Slowly I started to reduce the doses and I was fine. While I became more confident in the robustness of my recovery, I still remained ignorant about withdrawal. If only I had searched online, I would have known better.

Likewise, I was ignorant that other people who had also been sent away to boarding school as young children also suffered severe consequences as adults. If only I had searched online, I would have discovered these important facts earlier in my life. As it was, left in ignorance, I believed that I was somehow uniquely weak, uniquely flawed and terribly, terribly ill just like the psychiatrists had told me.

I didn’t want to tell doctors about my symptoms during withdrawal. I had no desire to draw attention to what I was doing, and risk being re-diagnosed or medicated again. By trial and error, I discovered that reducing the dose of the psychiatric drugs had to be very, very slow. It wasn’t scientific but I found myself cutting tiny slivers off the tablets and carrying them around with me, to make sure I could take a tiny amount when the feelings like electric shocks became too much. I had to reinstate the other drug when I found the rebound insomnia, the restless legs, the cramps intolerable. But my emotions were alive. I was living in three dimensions after years of feeling like the world was unreal and that I was completely numb. I cried and cried, but I also laughed and felt joy. It was incredibly scary at times, when I felt panic stricken and afraid. Occasionally I had suicidal thoughts, but somehow, I knew they would pass.

One day, it was like the penny dropped and I laughed out loud when I realised that I had been prescribed medication to treat my psychiatrists’ anxieties. They should have been the ones taking my pills.

I found a counsellor and talked over what had happened to me as a child at boarding school. She was amazed. How on earth had nobody taken this seriously all those years ago? I had been through hell back then, and it had been re-enacted by the psychiatric system which re-traumatised me every time I was admitted to hospital. At last, I started to process memories and emotions that had remained suppressed for decades. I had to learn to recognise my survival persona, one who was easily controlled and coerced. One who knew only how to drive herself harder in response to difficulty. I had to meet my inner children and give them the love and comfort which they had been deprived of while I was growing up.

I made a grave error when I decided to go cold turkey on one of the antidepressants – within two days I had severe burning pain and to this day, I still have the symptoms of small fibre neuropathy. I haven’t slept through the night since that time and now I know that these symptoms are very likely manifestations of a protracted withdrawal syndrome.

In the last few years, I have met two educators in different parts of the country. Both were involved in teaching medical students and/or doctors. Neither of them were medical themselves but both qualified teachers and had the academic credentials to be recognised as experts in education. One of them was employed by a medical school, but suddenly their expertise was no longer required to teach ‘problem-based learning’. The other person was also ousted from their role. They are happy to speculate that this is because the students had learned how to apply their critical thinking too effectively. They were becoming bold, asking awkward questions, no longer willing to learn by rote.

Medical research is largely funded by the pharmaceutical industry, papers ghostwritten by the pharmaceutical industry and influencers paid by the pharmaceutical industry. Regulators are not independent either and so it is that most doctors have become pawns in a system, used to deliver the drugs which provide the fundholders with the maximum profit. So far, the system has failed to eliminate corruption and bias, for one reason only, that is there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Most doctors are not capable of critically appraising the research and ‘evidence’ is sold to us as ‘gospel’. Doctors lack time and training, and are part of a historical, culture which trusts in the academic expertise of influential colleagues. My own medical training had simply reinforced the myth that expert doctors knew best. I had denied my own personhood, ignored my gut instincts and succumbed to the traditional biomedical psychiatric paradigm.

There could have been a quicker route to reach the same conclusions as I have now. There was no need for me to have done this alone; there are plenty of other voices out there, plenty of people who can guide the way.

We might think we choose what we believe but it very much depends on what information is fed to us and importantly, what is withheld. We live in a culture which is heavily influenced by social media and the advertising industry. We cannot rely on the medical profession to take the lead.

While some patients may find psychiatric drugs helpful, at the very least all patients need to be fully informed of the risks of potentially dangerous side effects, and the risks of withdrawal.

I am one of the lucky ones who survived, but others have lost their lives as a direct result of psychiatric drugs. I have written a sequel to my original memoir which reflects the turnaround in my thinking. Unshackled Mind will be published in the coming year. Please join me in speaking out, so that others may be spared from unnecessary suffering and life-threatening risks, all of which may follow an innocent request for help during an emotional crisis.

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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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25 COMMENTS

  1. There is little value in thinking critically, or thinking at all, if you have never examined critically what thought and thinking is, or have never discovered what thought and thinking is – not theoretically, but actually. How can I know anything if I don’t even know what this ‘I’ is, or ‘knowing’ is? We have knowledge, which is drawn from memory of perception and social experience: we have an intellectual perspective based on the accumulation of memory and knowledge: we have awareness, which sees what is as it is without labelling it: we have understanding which streams from perception but is a wordless, subtle, quiet aspect that is drowned out and obscured by the noise of thought: and we have imagination which helps to make comprehensible that which has never been seen, for example imagining what a genuinely good, compassionate, wise and loving POTUS might look like. Where is the ‘me’ in all of this? Can you answer this question without merely reasserting this fictitious ‘me’ which is nothing besides a thought? These are the questions the East have explored for thousands of years, and found corresponding answers that are not theoretical but perceptual. It is a mark of our terminal stupidity in the West that we have never, as a culture, done the same, and don’t seem capable of absorbing the true import of even doing so.

    I’m not trying to get you to answer the question of what you are or what thought or awareness actually is, but I merely want to point out that if we don’t even know these basic things about the thought process or about ‘ourselves’, and we can only find answers to these questions through observation and understanding of our own conscious life, then what is the value of any of our thinking, whether it be critical or otherwise? If thought doesn’t even know what it is, why do we imagine it’s capable of grasping the vastly more mysterious, unreachable, and unfathomably complex natural substrata that gave birth to conceptual thought in the last blink of humanities total evolutionary history?

    I really do feel we have the intelligence of factory farm animals who don’t understand there predicament compared to the utter immeasurable genious that comes out of psychotic, psychadelic, meditative and spiritual experiences. You guys have built a wall against this intelligence called the intellect, and I don’t know what we can possibly do to help the likes of you. Who are we wanting to help you? The psychotics. Who are the ones we want to help? The physicians and psychiatrists, and indeed the whole of society. There’s justice in this realization, because in the psychosis is the answer to all our social problems. A psychosis is the very negative truth of society, and to understand the psychosis is to understand the whole truth of mind and society. And that enables the mysteries of consciousness to manifest and express themselves directly. There is nothing in the whole of human civilization that compares to what we can glimpes for a second within our own consciousness. And not a thing in human civilization has any intrinsic meaning whatsoever without understanding some of the basic truths of this consciousness.

    You won’t argue with this last point. Whatever you are, you are the truth, the fact, the actual. Insofar as you stray from the truth, therefore, you stray from yourself, and that is our sickness as human beings. We strayed from what we actually were by trying to become something other then we are, which is the root of desire, and the root of time and fear itself. Before that we were bliss, consciousness, existence. We were just happenings in the forest and all there was were happenings in the forest. All was happenings in the forest. We were the forest and the sky and the Earth, part of the total picture. I’ve experienced it and it isn’t a vision or a hallucination: it is rather that all things are unified by this ungraspable and mysterious awareness, the secret place where all beauty is. You are consciousness having the privilage to oversea a miracle of nature, and a total social process, and the human mind, but you don’t realize this, and you don’t see the foolishness of judging another piece of nature or another confused and conditioned mind. Blaming a person is no different to blaming a river or a star. We can only judge ourselves. if we cultivate a butcher in our heads it will have us in the end. We are consciousness overseeing a process of conflict and confusion. Don’t feed into the conflict and confusion: don’t feed into the divisions that destroy us. The division between us and Mother Nature is the fundamental division in yourself. If you stand only with your thought and your society then you have estranged yourself from your own body, your own heart, and the whole of nature, all the things which mind and society have single handedly destroyed.

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  2. “One day, it was like the penny dropped and I laughed out loud when I realised that I had been prescribed medication to treat my psychiatrists’ anxieties. They should have been the ones taking my pills.”

    In my notes, the doctor who ‘diagnosed’ me (with notes from a clinic which had released my medical records unlawfully) and who made the date rape drugs I had been ‘spiked’ with my “Regular Medications” writes that I had;

    “Potential for violence but no history or clear intent”

    And that’s a description of my illness? Sounds more like I was to be drugged for his paranoid delusions, and how many others?

    I was wondering if you might put the drugs you were taking and the dose levels in your articles Dr Weild?

    I can’t say I fully agree with you about critical thinking being absent in the medical area….. the Prof of Cardiology who noticed what they might do about my complaint of being arbitrarily detained and tortured (‘spike’ with benzos, have police cause “acute stress reaction” then interrogate for 7 hours without informing of the drugging) certainly needed critical thinking to be there at the right time….. that is, just as they were about to restrain me and inject the lethal cocktail which could be euphemistically described as an ‘unintended negative outcome’. haha, can’t find where the morphine came from Coroner.

    Minus critical thinking, I’d have been on the slab. Of course, this was a doctor who tells me he “doesn’t have the stomach for it”….. but the State is aware of those who do, and are quite prepared to enable their “just doing my job” conduct.

    Clever little ruse if anyone is interested, using the old three card monte which has been around since the 1500s I believe. Though if your a Doctor, you’d understand what I’m talking about it’s simply a matter of making the ‘good death’ (a ‘Harold Shipman’ if you like) appear to meet the ‘standards’ (The Head of the Medical Association called it a “sophisticated knowledge of the law” aka ‘keep your mouth shut and police won’t do anything’)….. which is easy given what the State (and the FOI Officer) calls “editing”.

    I do hope to return to my home in England at some point. I was disgusted to watch the series Litvinenko, and to hear how much protection was afforded someone who was a British subject, and yet I was left for dead and offered zero assistance from the British Consulate when I provided them with the documented proof of what I am alleging.

    My reasoning is that the corruption in our ‘medical’ and police services seems to be from ex pats, and if they’re being dealt with in the UK and coming here to set up shop, surely it’s got to be better there? They’re certainly not being dealt with here, ……. as whilst you might say they covered it up, they left these people in place to harm many others over a two year period.

    Anyway, good luck with your book.

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Cathy. I look forward to reading your book.

    I’ve often commiserated with other psych survivors (particularly other women who wound up with a borderline diagnosis like I did) about how we felt that we were punished as patients any time we questioned a treatment provider. Skepticism was definitely not welcome and was often labeled as non-compliance or hostility. Now I understand better where these authoritarian attitudes originate.

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  4. Thank you Doctor Cathy,

    I was deeply moved to read of the ‘treatment’ you had endured in the hands of psychiatrists who are alleged to be our clinical colleagues.

    I have seen similar inhuman destruction induced in a loved one. My training had indoctrinated me into believing that these were skilled, scientific, caring clinical colleagues. They were not. The use of the term ‘Hospital’ in the context of psychiatry is unacceptable to me. They are not ‘hospitals’ but centres of incarceration and calculated cruelty in my experience.
    Our loved one never had, does not have, any ‘mental illness’.

    SSRIs inappropriately prescribed for normal exam stress caused intense AKATHISIA which was misdiagnosed as ‘psychotic depression’. There was no depression whatsoever. The cascade of toxic psychotropic, enforced poly-pharmacy caused symptoms of organic brain disease/brain injury, and even more intense akathisia: all of which were ignored’ or misdiagnosed as “Emergent” (aka Iatrogenic) ‘Serious Mental Illness’ (SMI).

    A previously enchanting, beautiful human-being finally escaped from this incarceration and chemical poisoning; with a precious life completely devastated by arrogance, dogma, cruelty, ignorance and diagnostic incompetence. We have never seen that person again despite 11 years free of all unnecessary psychiatric drugs. This is not only due to chemical injuries for life, but due to the cruelty and abuse endured whilst inappropriately ‘detained’.

    All life’s opportunities and potential joys have been destroyed.

    No-one in primary care appears able to accept the serial reports of an internationally acknowledged expert in differentiating her real adverse psychotropic drug reactions (ADRs) from her none-existent SMIs.

    Primary care physicians need to learn to think critically of what psychiatrists and their injurious drugs are doing to their patients. They need to become aware of prescription drug induced AKATHISIA, emotional blunting, disinhibition and suicidality. They need to listen to their patients describing post SSRI sexual dysfunction. They need to become experts in
    de-prescibing, minimising withdrawal syndromes, and not misdiagnosing withdrawal syndromes as new/emergent/recurrent ‘mental illness’.

    In the U.K. it is currently considered politically expedient to condemn those unable to work as not willing to work. How many thousands are excluded from the work force by the lifelong, multi-systems injuries caused by the ADRs to prescribed drugs to which they were never afforded the opportunity to give full, fair and informed consent?

    Your medical school and pre-registration (Residency) experiences were uncomfortable to read.

    I started medical school in 1968, and after the intense first three years of ‘basic medical sciences’ loved the clinical medicine training, albeit with the challenges of the teaching ward round as you describe. Like you, I was fascinated by my undergraduate training in psychiatry which preceded the ‘biological brain disease’ propaganda. I won the Clinical Psychiatry Prize in our final exams.

    Qualification changed joy into indescribable sleep deprivation.

    During the last month of my first Pre-registration House Officer post, I was required to be continuously on-duty for 336 hours!

    I am filled with respect that you returned to medical practice.

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    • “I won the Clinical Psychiatry Prize in our final exams.”

      I know a guy who won the Taliban Prize for Technological Advancement for Women lol….. serious though Doc, I like this bit of writing;

      “I have seen similar inhuman destruction induced in a loved one. My training had indoctrinated me into believing that these were skilled, scientific, caring clinical colleagues. They were not. The use of the term ‘Hospital’ in the context of psychiatry is unacceptable to me. They are not ‘hospitals’ but centres of incarceration and calculated cruelty in my experience.”

      You bet your life they are, so why did it take you so long to work this out? I did suggest to the place that kidnapped and tortured me (that’s if you use the real terms instead of using the “edited” documents the State prefers) that they change their name to the Ariel Castro Memorial Hospital but they rejected the idea.

      And on this notion of “editing” I have some real concerns given what they mean by “editing” and our Euthanasia Law protections, which given what they mean by “editing” would allow involuntary euthanising which could then be made into voluntary post hoc. Depends if you have the stomach for it of course, not all doctors do apparently. Maybe they could use the complaint form signature to put on the consent forms? You know, like the Law Centre used the Chief Psychiatrist signature to put on the poison pen letter they forged and then handed to me?

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    • Thank you Dr Cathy and thank you Retired Physician. I’m so sorry for both your experiences and I so agree with all you have to say about psychiatry and the lack of critical thinking in medical culture for the reasons you’ve described. I’ve too experienced a serious adverse drug reaction in recent times, resulting in significant harm, and experienced psychiatry and some psychiatrists whose basic clinical skills – let alone the fact that the fundamental premises of psychiatry are based on a load of nonsense – were so utterly disgraceful they shouldn’t be practicing and perhaps if they spent a year cleaning the toilets that might be the best outcome for everyone and they might have a chance to wake themselves up. Oh so ironically, I too have a reference as the best final year student in psychiatry. This isn’t to denigrate all of medicine, or the good character of some psychiatrists, but medicine and psychiatry needs to urgently examine itself and change. It was terrifying to be so unwell from a serious adverse drug reaction and still be more skilled than the psychiatrist in front of me – and even worse that his feeling intimated fueled further abusive care. I’m so sorry that when I was practicing that I didn’t know what was going on, nor about the culture of medicine. The apprenticeship model, and lack of time and lack of a culture of deeper and broader reflection, alongside powerful forces, certainly keeps everything in place. Training and working pre-internet times make it harder to articulate all the things that felt off or didn’t make sense. Medicine and mental health systems and structures urgently needs to understand coercive control as well, at all levels, from doctors up to the way the system is structured, and within society – and walk itself into a humane way of being that is good for everyone. We need to understand love and respect and work together to walk into loving wisdom for us all. Healing ourselves and other from the heart, with love and with wisdom is the medicine we all need, and a very beautiful way to practice.

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      • “I’ve too experienced a serious adverse drug reaction in recent times, resulting in significant harm, and experienced psychiatry and some psychiatrists whose basic clinical skills – let alone the fact that the fundamental premises of psychiatry are based on a load of nonsense –”

        And medically known iatrogenesis, like anticholinergic toxidrome poisonings.

        “were so utterly disgraceful they shouldn’t be practicing and perhaps if they spent a year cleaning the toilets that might be the best outcome for everyone and they might have a chance to wake themselves up.”

        Lol, was my initial reaction to your comment, please forgive my statement of the likely blatantly obvious, to a mainstream doctor.

        All mainstream doctors and psychologists should be speaking out against psychiatry … but they’re not, because drugging the children is “too profitable,” according to a pediatrician of my former religion.

        “When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange Who you are into what you’re gonna be.” And most definitely it’s time to end psychiatric hegemony … mainstream medical community, psychologists and other DSM “bible” billing industries, police, military, and everyone.

        Oh, thank you so much, Cathy, there were so many of your good points I wanted to agree with, I was slow in commenting. Excellent blog, thank you, Cathy.

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  5. Thank you again Dr Wield for sharing your remarkable story. It’s a unique one that needs to be widely known.

    It’s important for the general public to be aware that psychiatrists are trained in a closed-minded environment that does not welcome critical thinking, the consequences of which have proven to be devastating for way too many ‘patients’. It’s a tragedy that people’s emotional problems are so poorly interpreted.

    I hope your book helps lots of people make more informed decisions in the future.

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  6. thank you for sharing this harrowing story – so glad that you have (mainly) come out the other side though still experiencing physiological effects of the drugs you have taken. Yes, its shocking how uninformed medical students are to this day regarding psych drugs and the harms of falling into the clutches of mainstream psychiatry. I’m glad you had a wonderful husband to support you and your children to keep you going.

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  7. Yale doctors destroyed my life with ECT, preceded and followed by toxic polypharmacy, always blaming me, adding the borderline diagnosis immediately after ECT to seal my fate. Every single medical professional I saw during this time (and I saw a lot of them, as the cascade of brutal physical “side effects” occurred) and every single one of these people was in absolute lockstep with the Yale doctors on blaming and demonizing me. It really is a dangerous cult.

    I am alone at 57, my disability pension was just terminated, and I am too physically ill for “van life” (what many of the disenfranchised are doing since having a roof over one’s head is now a luxury).

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  8. I think we need to take a second look at Freud. A lot of what we are learning recently seems to rhyme with his ideas.

    The more I learn about SSRIs the more similarities I see to his idea of using cocaine as a side effect free antidepressant. Hos anal retentive theory sounds a lot like current theories of the digestive system being part of the nervous system and the role of gut bacteria in mental health.

    STEM teaches doctors memorization and regurgitation and they never learn the critical thinking skills associated with a quality liberal arts education. Being good at taking tests is a very poor predictor of someone’s ability practice medicine in a way that benefits patients. The instant availability of information means it is time to reevaluate the type of person accepted for medical training.

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  9. Thank you for sharing your powerful story and kudos to you for finding a way out of the drug insanity. I’d love to know more about Survivors and Families Empowered—perhaps you’ll tell us about that as well–super important.

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  10. Generally, none of us are trained to think critically. Education is indoctrination, and industrial schooling, from grade to grad schools, trains people in habits of conformity to command-obey human relations to serve as docile workers in institutions which rule ‘our’ society for benefit of the few over the many. Ours is not to question why but only to do and die, and do as you’re told is the motto of what we’re taught in performing assignments laid down by bosses from the get-go, reinforced by reward and punishment of grades to assign our value within a social system extracting profit from our labor.

    Higher (l)earning trains those who will assume middle management positions of authority in the pyramid schemes of power over the machinery of production for profit. These professional class coordinators are cogs in the machine like the masses of us, just better paid and rewarded with privileges of more conspicuous consumption, which typically convinces the bribed and bought they are better than others who have not merited such superior status.

    Modern medicine is Big Bizzness, organized crime of the Pharmafia above all, which since the early 20th century has increasingly monopolized a medical industrial complex to extract enormous wealth for elites like the founding Rockefeller family. What it calls ‘science’ is subordinated to profit over people to make medicine one of the largest sectors of the capitalist controlled economy, and one of the leading causes of injury and death among us. Its purpose is not health care but sick care to create a permanent customer base for poisonous chemicals and snake oils sold to human lab rats. Profit, not people, is why Big pHarma controls medical schools, licensing boards, professional associations like the AMA, peer review journals, research and development.

    Nothing short of social revolution truly valuing people over profit in all we learn and do will change this sick system.

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  11. First, you got the training right. In order to upheld power and embody it, you must lose power and become unconscious: “…but at medical school, it was the other way round. Medical students were expected to answer questions correctly to the lecturer or teacher’s satisfaction.” You must defer to authority/teachers and that is THE training…except unfortunately you took it literally and almost risked your life in the process.

    The second take: I was recently at a mental health conference, and after leaving, I felt incredibly drained. It took me a while to understand why. Although all of us were professionals, our approaches varied significantly. I realized that everyone was operating from a position of power, privilege, and knowledge on purpose and in fact aggressively, so they couldn’t shift their perspectives to consider the experiences of their clients or patients. It is what we do without any indication of how it may land! or only when it lands positively!

    In such cases, there is no power without a target, and they seemed confused when I insisted that although I speak from a position of power, I am also able to comment how my influencing may impact on the receiving end. This means I must be conscious of how my influence may affect others and be able to explain if needed and not take any technique at face value and that it will work for all. This loop is a must in order to work not one directional power drunk!

    For example, no one could understand how domestic abuse actually occurs in practical sense and some were demanding that certain words trauma, power, and other factors were distracting when in fact, a dynamic of family or two people can often be scaled up to the societal levels (abuse in the family is small scale of oppression at societal level). Violence between two people follows same paths as violence among two groups or nations!

    They grasped it as a theory (which was nauseating how much one can cite a dead guy) because they had the knowledge and education which gives the power, but they never deeply considered or felt or admit experienced what domestic abuse means for the victim on a practical, bodily level. They couldn’t understand that one option for a powerless person might be to detach from the reality—the external environment of you are damned if you do and dammed if you do not—and still remain functional or adaptive. But, unfortunately that state of mind is not sustainable for a long time and one will have many options including breaks of reality, mental illness, or violence in order to attempt to reset the situation…no difference we must protest now and then when the societal consent breaks down or at worst have curfews or wars!

    Their ideas were let us not talk about that but only how it may be normal or beneficial for everybody! I think everybody was for themselves.
    The demand to control emotions and to consistently use positive ones, along with their purported benefits, was so overwhelming that I felt like I was in a cult.

    What surprised me the most was how vulnerable that makes them in the process as the author in this piece incredibly illustrated!

    And the flip side is due to their (the conference attendees) vulnerability, their harm on others will not be even recognized. But I am hopeful that maybe when they with clients, something is different!

    fingers crossed is my saving grace!

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    • I have a question about doctors and ethics.

      After I was unlawfully detained and tortured, my wife and the FOI Officer tried to keep me and my legal representatives for obtaining the documents proving what I am alleging. Once I started going to the Police, the matters escalated (to say the least)

      An Operations Manager suggested she would do a “formal investigation” of the matters, and they invited me for a meeting. At this meeting was a psychiatrist, who suggested that the Form 1 statutory declaration was meaningless, and that there were no protections for the public from being snatched form their bed anytime mental health wished. I begged to differ, in fact I was taken aback by his ignorance tbh.

      This was the Operations Manager who as a result of her “formal investigation” would have been fully aware of what had occurred, and made it clear they would “fuking destroy” me and my family (they had already threatened my wife to have her conspire to pervert with the FOI Officer… so doubled down).

      What really interests me is that the psychiatrists role at that meeting was to do a psychological assessment as to HOW they should ‘fuking destroy’ me.

      Now I understand that the State would encourage such conduct on the part of the Operations Manager, but what sort of doctor would engage in a process of looking for a way to do maximum damage to a person? Especially given they were fully aware I had been subjected to torture? I really do struggle to come to terms with that.

      Imagine a surgeon looking for a way to ensure their patient lived out their life with the maximum amount of pain possible? If I just deliberately damage the nerve endings they will be in excruciating pain for the rest of their lives? And is this common ‘real’ medicine? Call in an expert to instruct you on how to do the damage?

      Sure I’m ready for the amateurs’ making diagnoses of my claim, and the “they wouldn’t do that’s”. And i’m pleased to announce that this doctor has been assisting in deliberately damaging people for quite some time now. And as I say, the State is no doubt encouraging his unethical behaviour, and his colleagues are not going to hold him to his OATH…… simply ask the Operations Manager. She can explain her ‘expert assistance’ in the process of fuking destroying anyone who dares have a legitimate complaint about their little State sanctioned torture program.

      I heard something interesting on a cop show tonight. Something along the lines of “when police are allowing crimes to occur, it’s no longer policing”. Their material assistance in concealing these acts of torture occurring at this hospital makes them co conspirators in the matters….. they’re no longer police, but organised criminals……though I doubt very much they actually see it that way….. apparently they were just following orders. Such a shame they didn’t realise it the orders came from organised criminals right?

      Ah yes but, the big fish was caught in the E.D. ……. and then left in place for more than two years to commit other offences, and assume impunity because ….. might explain why the psychologist and her psychiatrist husband had to get outta town overnight? One way or another the criminals or police were going to be upset with them… or maybe both? Always a problem when your what Sun Tzu calls a “double agent”, doing a few for the crims and a few for police. No motivation to act once the cover up had been done, and then they went to a Code Brown when the documents turned up…. mainly because their criminal negligence (not in the public interest to know people are being tortured in hospitals) enabled these criminals. And I’m sure they got some ‘intel’ out of it all. Which would no doubt be worthless if it became public they are torturing people.

      Personally I think a doctor that assists in acts of torture, or killings etc with State sanction shouldn’t be encouraged. But I understand that they do have the defence of “Just doing their job” when the State is more important than their “patient” who should be arriving very soon……. once Police pick them up and deliver them for the ‘treatment’ (and the list of questions they would like doctor to ask and receive answers to)

      Shame the paranoids have taken over the asylum, but it is kind of a consequence of torturing people so you can hear what you want to hear, rather than the truth. And if people here didn’t have to vote (compulsory) I think we’d get a better picture of how the public feels about these disgraceful slugs who place themselves above the laws they pass.

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  12. Thank you Cathy Wield for having the strength and character to come out the other end of crazy making experiences-from so many years worth, a that-and do the hard work of making sense of it for the uninitiated and the initiator’s alike.

    FWIW. I completely concur with niko’s comments on education. I’d just add that “critical pedagogy-as fathered by Paulo Freire, is “systematically” absent from most all classrooms, specifically in the US. Try implementing a critical pedagogy curriculum in your local school system and you will meet with a level of resistance on par with advocating for Pot Brownie Day every Friday. Thinking critically (i.e., morally, ethically, and grounded in dynamic-relational intellectualism) is anathemas to most every structure and organization in 21st century neoliberal societies. To think critically (consciously as malleable knowledge in salient perpetuitious relationship, is to initiate alienation.(and further consciousness as well).

    Lastly, What Dr. Cathy’s story illustrated, imho, is how “instrumental” knowledge (and its materialist shackles) usurps or otherwise systemically forecloses a myriad of other forms of “integral” knowledge; and “we all” pay a price when it does…

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  13. Dusty boxes, Gilbertson – hand in back spine fingers curl
    F*cking on a pile of junk, legs and face fast frozen/merged
    Leg/face – Picasso butchered us, made us wait in stringent knots
    Staining, groaning, trunks collapse – rolls untroubled, hand in back
    Creaking boxes flex and strain, flex back into shape again,
    I wonder why I looked so hard, while life was clotting nauseously
    While life was oceanic hate, with halos hanging on the butchers hook

    Tight curl, slit crust
    There is space for rape in the toolbox
    Carpet bag her.

    So we won’t kill.
    A little bad moon pill.
    Yr genes showing through.

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