Thursday, June 27, 2019


Essays by a diverse group of writers, in the United States and abroad, engaged in rethinking psychiatry. (The directory of personal stories can be found here, and initiatives here).

Unwarranted Criticism of “Psychiatry Gone Astray”

On 6 January 2014, I published the article “Psychiatry Gone Astray” in a major Danish newspaper (Politiken), which started an important debate about the use and abuse of psychiatric drugs. Numerous articles followed, some written by psychiatrists who agreed with my views. For more than a month, there wasn’t a single day without discussion of these issues on radio, TV or in newspapers, and there were also debates at departments of psychiatry. People in Norway and Sweden have thanked me for having started the discussion, saying that it’s impossible to have such public debates about psychiatry in their country, and I have received hundreds of emails from patients that have confirmed with their own stories that what I wrote in my article is true.

Do the Math

Being a woman of a certain age, I dutifully went in for a “routine” colonoscopy a few weeks ago. My doctor came to see me before the procedure. She spent about 5 minutes reviewing the procedure and asked me to sign the consent form. I was in the procedure room for about 10 minutes and then we were done. A few days ago, I got the bill. It got me to wondering about the reimbursement for the work I do.

Allen Frances on Anti-Psychiatry

On February 22, Allen Frances, MD, published an article titled Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry on the HuffPost Blog.  The general theme of the article is that psychiatry may have some problems, but it is basically sound, wholesome, and necessary. The impression being conveyed here is that psychiatry's abandonment of a biopsychosocial approach and embracing of the brief med-check was the result of "drastic cuts in the funding of the mental health services." This is very misleading. The fact is that psychiatry set its own course when it jumped enthusiastically on the pharma bandwagon, and apart, from a miniscule minority who remained aloof from the drug-pushing, has made no attempt to alight.

A Challenge to Dr. Lieberman

On a national Canadian radio show on Sunday (April 26), former APA president Jeffrey Lieberman called me a "menace to society" for my writings on the long-term effects of psychiatric medications (and other writings.) He said there was abundant evidence that psychiatric medications improved long-term outcomes for various psychiatric disorders. And so now we would like to issue a challenge: Dr. Lieberman, please point out these studies for us.
ECT electroshock hazard warning

Litigation Update: ECT Device Manufacturer Issues “Permanent Brain Damage” Warning

After spending the entire litigation vehemently denying that brain injury was even a possible result of ECT, Somatics, LLC has now issued a warning of "permanent brain damage" in its new risk disclosures. We think this makes the case of anyone who underwent ECT within the statute of limitations MUCH stronger.

My Journey – A Child Psychiatrist’s Struggle to Change the System

After majoring in psychology in college, I entered medical school in 1986 with a strong interest in psychiatry. While in medical school, I was exposed to the subspecialty of child psychiatry, and was very attracted to the idea of making a difference in the lives of vulnerable youth. Child Psychiatrists were experts in understanding normal development through the life cycle. This was particularly fascinating to me and I believed that it would be personally meaningful and fun to work with children. During this time, child psychiatrists often directly provided individual psychotherapy and family therapy to their patients. The use of psychotropic medications in children was not typically a first line treatment.

The House of GSK

In recent months the English pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has assiduously portrayed itself as an advocate of transparency, and in support of access to clinical trial data. Well, in support of "Responsible Access." "Responsible" here essentially means that a researcher commits to the primacy of RCTs and statistical significance over an analysis of adverse events. It would not, for example, be responsible to claim that an SSRI causes suicide, a statin muscle damage or cognitive failure, or hypoglycemics cause hypoglycemia unless a trial has shown this to happen to a Statistically Significant extent – and they never do.

Remembering the 2003 Fast For Freedom: Time for Another?

On August 16, 2003, six individuals who had travelled from all over the country – Brooklyn; Wilmington, Delaware; Chicago; Portland – to Pasadena, California,...
antipsychotic study magnifying glass

A Commentary on the Finnish Analysis of Outcomes of First Episode Schizophrenia

There are a number of well-recognised problems with this sort of study and we should be very cautious about accepting its conclusions at face value. The main problem is that it is an ‘observational’ study, not a randomised controlled trial, and these analyses can be seriously misleading. 

Doing It Alone Together: Core Issues In Dutch Self-Managed Residential Programs

For the last six years we, a group of researchers, social work students, peer experts, and social professionals associated with the Amsterdam University for Applied Sciences, have been studying and facilitating the development of self-managed programs in homelessness and mental health care in the Netherlands. With our research we want to contribute to the development of new and existing programs through critical reflection. With this blog, I hope to share some of our findings, to give back to the respites from which we learned so much.

Antidepressants and Overall Wellbeing

There's an interesting article in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.  It's called The Efficacy of Antidepressants on Overall Well-Being and Self-Reported Depression Symptom Severity in Youth: A Meta-Analysis. The authors concluded: "Though limited by a small number of trials, our analyses suggest that antidepressants offer little to no benefit in improving overall well-being among depressed children and adolescents." In the Discussion section of the paper, they stated, "We found no evidence that antidepressants offer any sort of clinically meaningful benefit for youth on self-report measures of depression, quality of life, global mental health, or parent reports of autonomy."

Peer Respite Centers and Medication Free Madness Sanctuaries: Why We Need Them Both Very...

Yana Jacobs and I both served at medication free madness sanctuaries. She at Soteria House and I at I-Ward. In this television interview, Yana...
ADHD school boy

ADHD: Disempowerment By Diagnosis

Giving a diagnosis of ADHD can profoundly disempower students and lead to what psychologists call “learned helplessness.” Isn’t it time for those of us in education to reclaim our profession? Who are the teaching and learning experts? Doctors? Drug companies? We are! And if we don’t stand up—for our students—against disempowering diagnoses and harmful drugs, who will?

There’s No Duct Tape for Benzo Withdrawal

It’s stunning what a quarter milligram of a benzodiazepine can do to the body. I’ve been detoxing off a high dose of benzodiazepines since September of 2011. The first few months were a failure. But this past May, I found my expert and thought I had the formula. Things were going well for detoxing off a substance many deem more addictive that heroin. That is, I realized, until they weren’t.

There Is no Shame in Being Safe

You might wonder why it’s so important to include gun stores in suicide prevention efforts. No one wants to be the one who sells someone the weapon they use to end their life. My father has experienced this once. The guilt is overwhelming. There is no shame in being safe. The shame lies in the lives that could have been saved.

How FDA Avoided Finding Adult Antidepressant Suicidality

The studies that the FDA relied upon for adults over age 24 were dismally flawed and untrustworthy compared to the ones used for children. The child studies showed that antidepressants can cause suicidality — the adult studies showed nothing other than FDA collusion with drug companies.

Is Motivation Worth More Than Expertise?

The strongest evidence we have as to whether a drug causes a problem does not come from RCTs or any other controlled study but rather from good clinical accounts. Even if RCTs were done by angels, so there was no hiding, no miscoding, nothing untoward, RCTs can still hide adverse events. The onus is on large and powerful corporations who have a lot of resources to pinpoint the populations where the benefit is likely to exceed the risk, if they want to continue to make money out of vulnerable people.
Cruz school shooting

Psychiatrist Says: More Psychiatry Means More Shootings

Psychiatry not only increases the risk of violence by giving violence-inducing drugs, it lulls patients, families, professionals, schools and the public into an unrealistic and even disastrous sense of security. It's an irony of tragic proportions: Cruz was left unsupervised and free to buy a gun because he was faithfully taking psychiatric drugs that can cause violence.

Replacing Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists

During World War II 2.5% of the world’s population died. Imagine a German youth of 18, A Russian youth of 18, a British youth of 18, an American Jewish youth of 18, a French youth of 18, a Japanese youth of 18. Think of the parents of each of these young men. Think of their grandparents. Think of their sisters, their younger brothers — think about everyone affected by that calamity. To say that the “mental health” of all of these people was affected by the fact of a world conflagration is to make a bad joke.

The Questions Are Not the Problem

It is possible that if we ask “What happened to you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?”, we wouldn’t see much of a change at all. Those people who are inclined to think of mental health problems as illnesses, as something “wrong,” would be able to explain that what happened to you was the cause of the illness; it produced what is wrong with you. It is much more crucial to understand “What is happening for you now?”

Withdrawing From Psychiatric Drugs: What Psychiatrists Don’t Learn

“What I’d really like to do is stop everything,” I say. The reality is that psychiatrists are not the experts when it comes to getting people off psychiatric drugs.

Sluggish Cognitive Tempo – A New Diagnosis?

On April 11, 2014, journalist Alan Schwarz published an article in the New York Times on this topic, titled Idea of New attention Disorder Spurs Research, and Debate. In the article Alan draws attention to the fact that sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) is being promoted as a new disorder  "… characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing."  He makes the obviously valid point, that the formalization of such an entity  "… could vastly expand the ranks of young people treated for attention problems."

Backsliding in the Bay State

The drumbeat for more "Risk Management" just gets louder. And nowhere is this so alarmingly evident as a new policy proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) in November 2012.

The Head Bone’s Connected to the Body Bone

We have long been told that “low levels” of serotonin in the brain equal bad and sad, and we have been educated by the Pharmaceutical industry about the opportunity we have, through the use of antidepressants, to retrain our wayward neurons: by making the proverbial holes in the strainer that much smaller. But even if you accept the conventional wisdom regarding the role of serotonin in the narrative of mind, merriness, and misery, from where do we think that this magical neurochemical arises?
medicalization of conversation

The Medicalization of Conversation

Language, and how we use it, are important to counselling’s conversational work. As a counsellor, my language for understanding and addressing client concerns often fits poorly with the diagnostic and treatment language used to manage services within that system.

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