Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Blogs

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).

Intentional Peer Support: Creating Relationships, Creating Change

IPS is about creating a power-balanced, relational context in which we can begin to explore and even challenge the stories we have been taught. We can name our experiences, and challenge the meaning that we have constructed around those experiences. This fundamentally alters what we think of as “help,” but also challenges social and political constructs of disability.

Integrative Mental Health: 27 Non-drug Options that Work

Four years ago I dove into a deep and murky pond: the bottomless depths of medical databases that hold mental health research. After examining over 4000 studies, and hundreds of meta-analyses, I surfaced from my research and was hit with a startling “Aha” moment: non-drug approaches really work.

Sir Robin Murray and Our Collective Mea Culpa

Sir Robin Murray, a distinguished British professor of psychiatry, recently published a paper in Schizophrenia Bulletin titled, “Mistakes I Have Made in My Research Career.” I wonder what leads Robin Murray to acknowledge his mistakes when others seem to hunker down. I also wonder how I can know when I am misled in my assumptions.

Understanding Extreme States: An Interview with Lloyd Ross

In this interview, Lloyd Ross of ISEPP and I discuss how to help people experiencing delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and other problems commonly associated with a diagnosis of “schizophrenia.” We discuss the problems with the biological model of “mental illness” as contrasted with a more psychosocial, contextual model of distress.

ISEPP Calling for Organizations to Join in Petition

Using an invalid diagnostic tool flies in the face of professional ethical guidelines. The International Society for Ethical Psychology & Psychiatry has drafted an open letter to the APA and other professional organizations, publicizing concerns with the DSM's lack of validity and asking for ethical guidance. ISEPP is soliciting other groups to join us in this effort.

Killing “Schizophrenics”: Contemporary U.S. Psychiatry Versus Nazi Psychiatry

In any society that prioritizes economic efficiency, productivity and order above life and all of life’s varieties, people experiencing altered and extreme emotional states will be seen as defective and as burdens—monkey wrenches that disturb the societal assembly line.
Split

Spoiling Split: Hollywood’s Latest Run at ‘Alternative Facts’ 

Will ‘Split’ lead directly to someone dying or being beaten up? No, probably not. But, is it a pretty outrageous piece of evidence illustrating cultural trends that regularly represent people with psychiatric diagnoses as frightening and volatile? Absolutely.

Venomagnosia

In Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants, Dr. Peter Kramer makes two arguments that I agree with. The trouble for me is that Kramer’s clinical vision seems strangely rose-tinted. He is an advocate of using antidepressants to treat depression, but he doesn’t seem to see any of the problems antidepressants cause.

Chemical or Psychological Psychotherapy?

Prolonged use of psychotropic drugs can cause permanent brain damage, which can make it impossible for the patient ever to return to normal, and also cause a return to the disease state the patient originally came from.

Preventing Suicide in the UK – a Policy and Practice Divide

The Place of Calm’s innovative Peer Support Approach means suicidal people can stay up to 24 hours in a safe place in the community and receive practical and emotional support from trained professionals who have their own lived experience of mental health challenges. Evidence suggests that it saves lives and is cost effective. Yet its funding is now due to be cut.

SAMHSA’s Rose-Colored Lens

SAMHSA should be commended for undertaking an important educational task with laudable goals. Unfortunately, I have to conclude that SAMHSA’s Recovery to Practice module on medications for psychiatrists is a very minimal and even misleading attempt at educating psychiatrists.

Service Dogs, Allergies and Trauma: Making Spaces Inclusive

Obstacles to accessibility are increasing in mental health settings, as well as settings designed to be alternatives to psychiatry, which ideally should be accessible to people with disabilities — including disabling allergies.

CYP Testing to Help Prevent Dangerous Adverse Drug Reactions

Drug-drug interactions can be extremely dangerous, even if the CYPs are genetically normal. The picture becomes even more grim if we take into account drug-gene interactions. Genetic testing for variants in the CYP enzyme system will definitely save lives.

Soteria Shelter Program in Hungary: Crisis as Danger and Opportunity

We believe that if we do no harm, crisis is not only danger but opportunity. We do not “treat” anybody or force anyone to do anything. We are together in order to help the people in crisis by means of our presence. Our ethical motto is: “It can happen to you, too.”

Peer-run Organizations Help People with Criminal Justice Involvement Return to the Community

Because of the enormous obstacles confronting individuals with behavioral health conditions who have been incarcerated, many peer-run organizations have risen to the challenge and have created programs to help these people rejoin the community.

Allen Frances and the “Overdiagnosing” of Children

What Dr. Frances calls "massive mislabeling" is not the assignment of psychiatry's spurious labels as such, but rather what he calls the overuse of these labels. This notion of conservative, careful and accurate diagnosis is a common theme in Dr. Frances's writing, but in fact, it's an empty exhortation, because the criteria are inherently vague and ill-defined.

The DSM and the Medical Model: New Video

Since mainstream “mental health” care directly affects the public, the public deserves an overview of the issues raised by the critics of these practices. For this reason, I have created a short video lecture titled The DSM and the Medical Model, summarizing criticism of the medical model of mental distress and offering a sharp rebuke of psychiatry and its narrative.

Ruby Wax: From Shark Bait to the Doyenne of Disease

I ended 2016 as I started it: listening to a celebrity reducing the complex interplay between society and the psyche to a matter of simple biology. This deprives people of the opportunity to really understand their suffering and find meaning in it — and it undermines the case for prevention.

Healing Madness

After 35 years in medicine, and three years with the same large health care organization where I am now the Medical Director of Integrative Services, I have decided I must quit. I am not willing to be a part of any machine where I doubt in the benefit of what I am being asked to do, and fear it might even be making people sick.

MIA in the Year 2017

We have always conceived of Mad in America as a forum for a community to come together and “rethink” psychiatry and its current paradigm of care. This past year was our first operating as a 501c3, and the support we received from our readers and from charitable foundations has reinforced and strengthened this sense of our mission. As such, we thought it would be useful to briefly review how we expanded our operations in the past year, and detail our ambitions for 2017.

The NIMH in 2017: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

The official announcement of the NIMH's new director proudly proclaimed he had been studying things such as “the role of the hippocampus, a brain structure known to be important for memory and emotional processes associated with anxiety and depression.” Is there any evidence that anything will come of these theories — and the expenses demanded of such endeavors?

How Psychiatric Drugs Really Work

A case study of a former soldier illustrated that mefloquine can cause persisting brain injury with unrelenting, permanent emotional and cognitive problems. As my fellow psychiatrists commonly do, they diagnosed the former soldier with psychiatric disorders and treated him with multiple drugs, worsening his brain injury and overall mental condition.

The Biological Evidence for “Mental Illness”

Partners' comment in response to my Carrie Fisher article essentially consists of unsubstantiated assertions, non sequiturs, and appeals to psychiatric authority. Because it comes from, and presumably represents the views of, an extremely large psychiatric practice, it warrants a close look.

What We Are Talking About When We Talk About Community Mental Health

While I struggle with whether I can work in an ethical way when there are forces and perspectives prominent in our culture that are antithetical to mine, I have kept my day job as a psychiatrist in a community mental health center in Vermont. This is a reflection on that work and the value I observe in the efforts of my colleagues day in and day out.

Pioneering New Zealand Antipsychotic Medication Study Focuses on Patient Experiences

Miriam Larsen-Barr's study is the largest to date on the subjective experiences of antipsychotic withdrawal, and the first to explore how people who have successfully stopped antipsychotics are able to maintain their well-being.

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