Tuesday, February 19, 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).

Autism as a Mode of Being

Autism is not a disease or an entity. It is not something that we must seek out to eradicate. Rather, it is a mode...

Children are Vulnerable Targets on the Algorithm Superhighway

It is close to midnight and a group of eight high-level CFOs from the major pharmaceutical companies sit anxiously around a conference table. They all have binders with TransCelerate BioPharma written boldly in black across the cover. TransCelerate is a consortium born in 2012, whose mission is to accelerate the development of new drugs and bring them quickly to market. There are two reasons for the high level of anxiety that the CFOs in the above meeting are feeling; first, the research and development of new drugs has been slower than predicted and profits not as massive as hoped for. The second reason is alarming; NIMH may soon start cutting research funding and the pharmaceutical companies have depended upon their liaison with NIMH for funds and for political leverage.

‘We’re Not Buying It!” — Survey on Emotional Distress and Diagnosis Reveals Mistrust of...

Very few public opinion polls on mental health issues have been conducted, and those that do exist are "forced choice" and presuppose an illness model. We at the East Side Institute wanted people to get the opportunity to reflect on and socialize their thoughts about the medical-mental illness-diagnostic model and its impact on their lives. And that is what they did!

[Un]Settling In for the Long Haul: The Interplay of Complacency, Stagnation, and Psychotropic...

By the time most of us have gotten into our 30’s and 40’s, a certain order has started to take place. We look for ways to increase convenience and amusement in the midst of our busy lives. We often purge those practices that don’t seem necessary to get through the day. We tend to avoid areas that unnecessarily challenge us to think differently, remain flexible, and push the envelope. We start settling in for the long haul. When complacency and stagnation set in, our human nature, especially of today, seeks immediate promises of relief. And marketers know this. This is where psychotropic drugs, among other artificial endeavors, enter the equation.

One Gutsy Woman

The childhood and psychiatric abuse altered my neurological, hormonal and other bodily functions and it was difficult to say which abuse left what mark. The doctors used medication to fix the changes and the taking of prescription pills became a habit. I took pills to calm me, pills to sleep, and pills to make me happy. A few months after stopping all medications, I was a bundle of nerves and I opened the cupboard for a pill. Living on autopilot as I had been doing for so long had to stop. I switched gears from absentmindedly resorting to pills, to purposefully calming myself without using drugs by breathing the way the psychologist had taught me.

Psychiatry Ignores an Elephant in the Room

Large cohort studies of people with a first-episode psychosis provide a unique opportunity for finding out why so many young people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders die at a young age. However, it seems that those psychiatrists who have access to the mortality data generally do not want the facts to come out.

Stumble Biscuits and the Murk of Benzo Disability

Two years ago, when I first felt the dizzy confusion of benzo disability, I talked about it openly. I remember discussing it briefly with an older friend who found my plight strangely fascinating. He asked if I remembered Quaaludes, a sedative-hypnotic that was all the rage in the 1960s and ‘70s. “We called them ‘Stumble Biscuits,’” he told me, “because you’d stumble down the street and hit one car and then stumble over and hit something else and it was just happy and goofy. It’s too bad they took them off the market. Those things were great.”

My Response To Dr. Pies

In the October 2015 issue of The Behavior Therapist (pages 206-213), Jeffrey Lacasse, PhD, and Jonathan Leo, PhD, published an article titled Antidepressants and the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Depression: A Reflection and Update on the Discourse. I thought the article had particular merit, and I drew attention to it in a post dated November 2.  In an email, Dr. Ronald Pies raised two objections: That the phrase "little white lie" as applied to the chemical imbalance theory was misattributed to him, and that he has never accepted payment from pharmaceutical companies with the intent or purpose of promoting their products. (Editor's note: Dr. Pies' response is now appended to this post.)

A Massachusetts Benzo Bill That Mandates Informed Consent

H. 3594 would require pharmacists to distribute pamphlets containing information on benzodiazepine misuse and abuse, risk of dependency and addiction, handling and addiction treatment resources. This would be a major legislative response to the prescribing patterns for these drugs today.

101 Uses for a Dead Journal

There used to be a wonderful cartoon series called 101 Uses for a Dead Cat, which led me 25 years ago to give a talk at a British Association for Psychopharmacology meeting entitled 101 Uses for a Dead Psychiatrist. That was back in the days when Psychopharmacology meetings were places of debate and the British Journal of Psychiatry was guaranteed to have something of real interest in every issue.

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.

Jung’s First Dream, The Mad God Dionysus and a Madness Sanctuary called Diabasis

With a loud piercing cry, the bare chested Native American warrior hurled his tomahawk at John Weir Perry with full force. John told me...

ADHD: A Return to Psychology

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become the province of geneticists, neuropsychologists, and physicians. The prevailing view is that ADHD behaviors are caused by a neurobiological delay and that treatment must include medication and stringent management. While this general attitude may continue to prosper, there is increasing concern that we are proposing the existence of a medical problem when there are no biological markers or dysfunctions that reliably correspond with the behavioral criteria. It is vital that we more closely examine traditional beliefs about ADHD and review the shortcomings of commonly used treatments.

How Biological Psychiatry Can Harm: A Mother’s View

A complex set of cultural forces that have come together in a way that amounts to prejudice against children. A range of professionals who care for children, including psychiatrists, pediatricians, occupational therapists, educators, and many others, must join together with parents to overcome this prejudice. We must recognize the value and necessity of protecting time and space to listen to these youngest voices.

Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness

In Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness, Bruce Cohen explains the expanding power and influence of psychiatry in terms of its usefulness to the capitalist system — the more useful it is, the more power it is given, and the greater its power, the more useful it becomes.

Upon Leaving Soteria-Alaska

Soteria-Alaska, a program modeled after the highly effective Soteria developed in the 1970s by the late Loren Mosher, M.D., opened its doors in 2009. It is also impossible to convey the actual simplicity which in fact is the crowning jewel of the Soteria approach. A conservative review of the effectiveness of the Soteria approach revealed that it is at least as effective as traditional hospital-based treatment — without the use of antipsychotic medication as the primary treatment. Considering that people treated in the conventional way die on average 25 years younger than the general population, this is a substantial finding.
medical model

Dr. Pies Defending Psychiatry’s Position on Auditory Hallucinations

On September 4, 2017, psychiatrist Ronald Pies published an article titled: "Hearing Voices and Psychiatry’s (Real) Medical Model." Let's take a look at the six fundamental assumptions that the eminent and scholarly Dr. Pies assures us "underlie the model most psychiatrists actually use in their clinical work."

The Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative

Psychiatry assumes that individuals who meet its vague criteria for anorexia nervosa have a disease, and the "disease-causing problem" resides in the genome. If we wish to understand what motivates individuals who systematically under-nourish themselves, however, we need to do two things: Abandon the empty, disempowering psychiatric labels, and recognize that it is through the uniqueness of each individual that we come to understand his or her perspective, and second, we need to sit down with the individual in a spirit of trust and collaboration, and listen to his or her concerns.

It’s Not Going To Get Better Soon

I’ve been thinking a lot about George Saslow since I came south to take a timeout and think. I miss him. A lot. Dr....

Mis- (and Dis-) Information about UN Disability Convention

The November 5 hearing on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations reached new heights of absurdity and opens new ground for concern. It may be worse for us to ratify with the reservations, understandings and declarations (RUDs) being proposed, and with the legislative record that is being created for the specific purpose of rejecting any application of the treaty's standards to US law than not to ratify at all. All the proponents of CRPD ratification who are allowed a voice in these discussions are in agreement that the US ratification is aimed ONLY at giving the US greater influence over other countries and over the development of customary international law, and NOT at improving the enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities in the US itself.

Turning Distress Into Joy, Part I:  Forgiveness

The human condition is both incredibly unique and yet so much the same. Our experiences are as vast as the oceans and as similar as the atoms that comprise them. Our calls range from the most secluded of hermits to the most exposed of world leaders. But we are all faced with betrayal and disappointment. We are all faced with each other.

Resolution for the New Year: Lay Down the Burden of Proof

It falls upon us survivors to prove that we were damaged, and that we aren’t malingerers or attention hounds or “mentally ill”— if we have any energy amidst the maelstrom to plead our case. Because if we don’t, we risk having our narratives rewritten by others’ “good intentions,” misinformed though they may be by the mainstream narrative. People get weird and pushy about this stuff, both because suffering is ugly and because our truth threatens their worldview.

Quantitative Mental Health & Oppression, Part Two: The Case of the ‘American Indian’

In my last post, I described how attempts of Western social science to quantify human internal experience became oppressive. It was the quantification of feeblemindedness by early applied psychologists that solidified the field as a profitable profession. You may have thought of this effort as ‘the measurement of intelligence,’ but the goal was always to isolate and keep people presumed to be inferior from reproducing.

The Unbearable Heaviness of Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

Last week Matt Samet posted about a setback he’s recently had. Setbacks for me remain routine and normal. They are part of the excruciatingly non-linear process of recovery.

To the Heart of the Matter, Part II: Perceptions of Public and Personal Stigma

Public perception of mental health stigma does not entirely reflect a reality that exists. Many of you reading this that have experienced truly negative reactions from others (due to mental health concerns and/or treatment) may be angered or offended by this proposition. However, no one (especially myself) is saying that stigma is not a serious concern that doesn’t need to be addressed. It is. Although in some ways I do feel that people can seek out treatment with less apprehension today than decades ago, there is no doubt that many still experience negative reactions (intentionally or unintentionally) from what others perceive in them.

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