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.
Subscribers to Mad in America might be interested in a Keynote Lecture given by Professor Nikolas Rose in Nottingham on May 15th 2013. In this lecture Professor Rose very thoughtfully challenges a number of the assumptions which underpin conventional and contemporary psychiatric practice. He asks five hard questions:
- Is there (really) an epidemic of mental illness?
- Does the path to understanding mental disorder lie through the brain?
- What is the role of diagnosis and of diagnostic manuals?
- Should we seek early identification of those at risk of future mental pathology?
- What is the place of patients, users, survivors, & consumers of mental health systems?
We are profoundly social beings living not as isolated individuals but as integral members of interdependent social systems—our nuclear family system, and the broader social systems of extended family, peers, our community and the broader society. Therefore, psychosis and other forms of human distress often deemed “mental illness” are best seen not so much as something intrinsically “wrong” or “diseased” within the particular individual who is most exhibiting that distress, but rather as systemic problems that are merely being channeled through this individual.
In a belated new-year blog, I thought it would be useful to set out what I think someone needs to think about if they are considering taking a drug for a mental health problem, especially if they think they might end up taking the drug for a long time. These are the questions you might want to ask your doctor if you take a ‘drug-centred’ approach to the use of drugs in mental health.
Psychiatry likes to portray itself as a scientific discipline, and indeed there is a lot of useful science to draw on when evaluating the evidence base connected to mental health problems. Sadly, most of the mainstream psychiatric literature of recent decades has shown a marked preference for rhetoric over scientific accuracy.
I just got back from the Carter Center Mental Health Symposium on Social Inclusion. I guess this is a prestigious invite, and I was expecting to meet people on the cutting edge of mental health research. I got invited based on my work with the Poetry for Personal Power program where I've helped get together over 1800 young people to talk on stage or listen to each other talking about what they do to get through adversity.
Evolutionary psychiatry and breakthroughs in neuroscience are rapidly blurring the lines between adaptive and maladaptive changes. What would be possible if we put our attention on, gave money and resources to mental wellness instead of mental illness? The re-election of President Obama provides another opportunity for us to create a future for ourselves and our children that we could be proud to leave as a legacy, especially as it relates to how mental health is defined and considered in the body politic and media. Imagine mental wellness. Together, we can!
For those of us who have been labeled by medical model psychiatry, it is frightening to watch the wolf of social prejudice being cloaked in the guise of mental health reform. The reality for many of us is that our lives and well-being have been profoundly affected – not only by the bad science and good marketing of pharmaceutical companies - but also by a wholesale refusal to listen. The result is a mental health system that many of us do not trust to operate in good faith. The Murphy bills add fuel to this fire.
The British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology has attracted a fair amount of attention in the past year or two by publicly expressing dissatisfaction with psychiatry's so-called diagnostic system. For almost a hundred years, psychologists who work in this field have gone along with the travesty of psychiatric diagnosis, even though the flaws of such a system are clear to anyone with even cursory training in psychology. What the DCP is saying, if I understand them correctly, is that they will no longer play along with this charade.
On May 16, the New York Times ran an article titled Thousands of Toddlers Are Medicated for A.D.H.D., Report Finds, Raising Worries, by Alan Schwarz. Here is the opening sentence: "More than 10,000 American toddlers 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder outside established pediatric guidelines, according to data presented on Friday by an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
While the following list of political abuses of U.S. psychiatry and psychology begins with the infamous Project MKUltra and recent American Psychological Association torture scandal, this should not be taken to imply that these more sensational abuses are the more important than the everyday political abuse of U.S. psychiatry and psychology to stigmatize and disempower groups, enable dehumanizing institutions, compel compliance, marginalize dissent, depoliticize, and maintain the status quo.
I do not understand how we can continue to avoid the conversation about psychiatric medications and their role in the violence that is affecting far too many of our children, whether Seung-Hui Cho, Eric Harris, Kip Kinkel, or Jeff Weise (all of whom were either taking or withdrawing from psychotropic medications) or the scores of children and adults they have killed and harmed. It is not clear what role medications played in the Newtown tragedy, though news reports are now suggesting there is one.
Anxiety is an awful reality. You feel a horrible paralyzing fear in the core of your chest or stomach, spreading to your arms and legs. The uneasiness gnaws away at you, or spreads into an overwhelming panic. It is paralyzing, and relief can’t come soon enough. However, the myth that anxiety is a biological disease is false. The reason there is no evidence that human problems come from neurotransmitters and genetic defects is because it’s not true.
The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, written by Will Hall and published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Center five years...
With the increasing medicalization of depression, and as more and more physicians see the treatment of depression as falling under their purview, it is imperative to distinguish between actual clinical depression and "healthy depression" — the adaptive and expectable responses to distressing life events that signal a need for rethinking one's life and recalibrating one's self-perceptions and emotions.
The basic idea of the experiential democracy project is to supplement conventional legislative or other forms of diplomatic and moral deliberation with person-centered (“I-Thou”) principles of encounter. These principles, which derive from existential-humanistic psychology and person-centered therapy, stress the attempt to engage participants to more intimately understand each other, and through this context to more intimately understand each other’s often conflicting positions on issues of moral import.
Between 1999-2010, the suicide rate among Americans aged 35-64 years increased 28.4 percent. Major U.S. mental health institutions emphasize mental health treatment as a solution. However, suicide, depression, and many other serious emotional difficulties can be most easily prevented by political courage and different public policies, not by medical treatments.
What depressed pregnant women need is compassionate care and accurate information that recognizes the potentially severe consequences of depression while making it clear that chemicals going into a baby throughout its development will likely have consequences for that development.
After reading Psychiatry Under the Influence I turned to Mistakes Were Made (but not by me). by the cognitive psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson to get a better understanding of cognitive dissonance and how it has influenced my own thinking and behavior. It offers a cautionary tale for all of us.
Remember “Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with the candlestick”? From the game called “Clue” in which you tried to solve a murder mystery? There’s a current, all-too-true and serious mystery involving devastating consequences – even death – for uncounted but vast numbers of people, but in this one the culprits are known to a very few, while their motives remain mysterious. The story starts in 1995, when the man widely considered the world’s most important psychiatrist split a payoff of nearly one million dollars with two colleagues in exchange for doing two patently unethical and illegal things that created the groundwork for a major drug company to market falsely one of the most dangerous psychoactive drugs.
A few weeks ago, while I was at a birthday celebration, a friend who works in a mental health setting remarked that she was...
In Belgium, patients with mental health problems mostly receive drug treatment despite the emphasis in international guidelines on the importance of psychological approaches. Currently one in ten Belgians takes antidepressants. That makes Belgium the European leader when it comes to antidepressant prescriptions and costs our country 300 million euros annually. This has been a glaring concern for our Minister of Health. From January 1, 2016, all psychologists and psychotherapists in Belgium will need to register in an official list. This should slash the number of unqualified therapists and help more Belgians stay off antidepressants.
It turns out that our stress response and inflammatory modeling are set early in our childhood. While our infant microbiome certainly lays a foundation, our beliefs and the thoughts that run like a ticker tape under our life experience cannot be underemphasized. How can we heal our pasts?
In July of 2014, I published an article explaining my concerns about the push to allow prescription privileges for psychologists across the country, after news of the recent legislation in Illinois sanctioning this practice. I cited four main areas of concern, which I will revisit below. More discussion is necessary regarding these issues if we as psychologists, and the general public, are going to be fully informed.
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.