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.”
The basic idea behind successful psychotherapy is that our thoughts create our feelings. And, luckily, our thoughts are changeable. I have personally experienced how liberating only one thought can be to a complex problem. That's why I would precent some of the thoughts that I have found most useful personally, and in therapy with patients, over 25 years.
I’ve been teaching a course on substance abuse for about 30 years now. In this course, I cover a new drug class each week and always review the history of the drug. All of the drugs of abuse, cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, opiates are not new on the human scene. They date back to the Sumerians and the Greeks. The question for me is what accounts for epidemics? I have come to believe that epidemics are supplier driven rather than a function of consumer demand. For the current opiate epidemic, the suppliers were the pharmaceutical houses.
“Don’t look at me! Save yourself!” Andrew* was a 25 year old with an imposing build that was mollified only by his despair and terror. Andrew was losing his mind. I didn’t have to see Andrew and I somewhat wish I never did. I had received a call late at night from Andrew’s nurse. “You gotta give him something man, I mean, he’s freaking out and I feel really bad.”
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."
For four decades I have been an activist challenging the mental health industry. More and more I feel that the climate crisis should be one of the highest priorities for social change led by people who have personally experienced psychiatric abuse, and our allies. I affectionately call us The Mad Movement. It seems that almost every speaker against global warming ends their message the same way, that we can stop this catastrophe if society has the “will.” I believe that participants in The Mad Movement have an important insight into real sickness in society. As a psychiatric survivor, I have seen too much labeling of creative maladjustment as ill. We need to shake off our world’s complacency and numbness, also known as “normality.”
In the current issue of the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Australian dissident psychiatrist Niall McLaren titles his article, “Psychiatry as Bullshit” and makes a case for just that. The great controversies in psychiatry are no longer about its chemical-imbalance theory of mental illness or its DSM diagnostic system, both of which have now been declared invalid even by the pillars of the psychiatry establishment. The great controversy today has now become just how psychiatry can be most fairly characterized given its record of being proven wrong about virtually all of its assertions, most notably about its classifications of behaviors, theories of “mental illness,” and treatment effectiveness/adverse effects.
Marijuana is now legal in two states, and legal for medical use in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Polls show the majority of Americans support cannabis legalization, and more and more of the country is joining the legalization trend. As a counselor working with people diagnosed with psychosis and mental illness I am often asked about my opinion and clinical experience — as well as my personal experience — with medical cannabis.
ADHD (or “Attention Deficit Disorder” - with or without Hyperactivity) is not among the “cutting-edge pathologies” of contemporary clinical practice, such as the addictions, eating disorders, narcissistic disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, or fibromyalgia; however, in my view ADHD is paradigmatic of the contemporary ethos that some have described as hypermodernity. The advocates of ADHD explain to us that a hyperactive child with an attention disorder is a disturbed and often disturbing child, who does not comply with the adults’ rule, often has his own idea of development, and whose problems, unless they are treated, threaten to undermine his autonomy and self-esteem; the two supreme values of the hypermodern society.
My new book, Debunking ADHD: 10 Reasons to Stop Drugging Kids for Acting Like Kids, is scheduled to be released tomorrow, on April 1st. Really, no joke. To be honest, when my editor informed me of this unique release date, it didn't strike me as the most complimentary day to publish research that has been years in the making and is ultimately a very serious subject. As time passed and the big day has slowly approached, however, the release date has come to feel completely serendipitous! April Fool's Day is indeed the perfect day to re-energize a powerful movement to put an end to the drugging of kids for acting like kids. Like an unkind April Fool's Day prank, ADHD is a complete joke.
A key psychiatric genetic concept is heritability. The concept was originally developed as a tool to help predict the results of selective breeding programs of farm animals,1 but has been extended in the past few decades as an indicator of the strength or magnitude of genetic influences on various psychiatric disorders and behavioral characteristics. Numerical heritability estimates have been a mainstay of the field of behavioral genetics, but here I would like to focus on problems with the heritability concept in psychiatry, while keeping in mind that most of the points made here and by previous critics apply to the use of heritability estimates in all areas of human behavior.
Dutch peer support education has changed dramatically over time since its inception. Peer support education has evolved over time from empowered and independent peer support education to institutionalized peer support education. In effect the (future) peer support workers in the Netherlands could become clinician-friendly peer support workers who merely represent peer support work in name but not in practice.
There has been a lot of attention on clinical trial registration over the last decade. Essentially, because of some very clever and courageous researchers and clinicians the public have increasingly become aware that the literature base to support medications, including psychiatric medications, is tainted and biased at best and fraudulent at worst. What has been exposed is that medications, that we have been led to believe are evidenced based, are not as good as we thought they were. Negative trials haven’t been published, and researchers have been changing primary outcome measures.
My very good friend Marcia Meyers of Portland, Oregon is one of the most powerful leaders I have seen in my nearly 40 years of activism in the little-known movement for deep change in the mental health industry. She joined my amazing wife Debra, some friends and me for a backyard party at our Eugene home this summer and brought to my attention an issue that deserves a larger audience. Marcia’s story riveted me because it involves activism, madness, psychiatric torture of her beloved daughter, Unitarianism, secret poisoned-pen letters, Scientology and global warming!
Access intimacy is the intimacy I feel with many other disabled and sick people who have an automatic understanding of access needs out of our shared similar lived experience of the many different ways ableism manifests in our lives. Together, we share a kind of access intimacy that is ground-level, with no need for explanations. Instantly, we can hold the weight, emotion, logistics, isolation, trauma, fear, anxiety and pain of access.
Some time ago, a pediatrician that I respect greatly stopped by my office to chat. In the midst of the conversation, he smiled, and spontaneously mentioned that he had seen a rash of a particular condition lately. When I inquired what it was, he stated Helpless Parent Syndrome.
Medicating children for a host of mental disorders has become very popular in some parts of the USA. More than 8 million kids from 6 months to 17 years of age are on pharmaceutical drugs in this wonderful country. We lead the world in drugging youth for behavioral, cognitive and attention issues. We are once again #1. But I would like to share with parents as well as adults working with children a few not so readily available facts related to medicating kids for behavior issues.
As I write these words on a Monday evening, my spirit aches. It aches with grief for the lives lost in Connecticut last week; it aches with dread for our collective American future in Sandy Hook’s aftermath; and it aches with love and empathy for Michael, a thirteen-year old boy whose once private life has, for the last day and a half, been on display for millions to see, exploited by a mother whose opinions are representative of America’s most pervasive mass delusion: that “mental illness” is a biologically-based condition requiring psychopharmaceutical “treatment” and “mental health care”, and that “the mentally ill” are a class of Other that threatens the safety, security, and health of America.
My tipping point came last week after learning about the killing of 3 police officers in New Orleans, which had followed very shortly after the murder of five police officers in Dallas. I felt a deep and ancient fear and anxiety rumbling within. I wondered if others felt this tremblement de terre - this inner earthquake. My heart aches from the pain inflicted on others, as well as experienced by the individuals who acted out their fear in a murderous rampage.
A little background for MIA readers on the recently published Huffington Post review about the documentary Healing Voices (see below), which I got published so as to help get the film gain publicity and screenings. I’ve been a Huffington Post blogger since 2007, but I’ve routinely had pieces that run counter to the psychiatry establishment censored. The current review was published within a few hours of my submitting it, and I can only speculate as to why. Perhaps it has to do with what department I submitted it to (which may have permitted it to avoid the Huffington Post medical review board); perhaps it was the references to the mainstream TED and the NIMH; or perhaps our movement is making so much progress that the Huffington Post is less reluctant to shut me up on pieces like this.
The Ct.Post.com website ran an article yesterday titled, Sandy Hook Study Dragging, which on its face is one of the most biased and misinformed articles of “news” this writer has seen in some time. As is so typical of the reporting in Connecticut, the Ct.Post.com uses the Sandy Hook shooting as an excuse to attack the gun lobby and cheerlead for increased mental health services in the state. The problem with this self-serving reporting is that there is absolutely no proof that Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza, lacked good mental health services. In fact, according to the records that have been made available, Lanza received abundant mental health care throughout his life.
In the light of the much trumpeted claims that recent research has identified genes for schizophrenia, it is important to review the track record of this type of endeavor. Despite thousands of studies costing millions of dollars, and endless predictions that the genetics of schizophrenia would shortly be revealed, the field has so far failed to identify any genes that substantially increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.
If we believe that emotional problems are primarily disorders of the brain, then perhaps taking a “fill-in-the-blank” medical history is sufficient. However, if we believe that emotional crises and dis-ease are problems that exist between people, in our sticky or not-so-sticky web of relationships, then whether families, survivors and those in crisis can heal together is a much more relevant, if still complicated, question. Perhaps the most honest answer to this question is: “It depends..."
For Mother’s Day this blog will not address the pressing issues of psychiatry today. Suffice it to say that the harm done by the twin traumas of deprivation and abuse generate all the psychiatric struggles we are all subject to. This is the other side of the story - in appreciation for what I have learned about love from my wife.
On October 23, Simon Wessely, MD, a British psychiatrist, published an article, The real crisis in psychiatry is that there isn’t enough of it, at the online site The Conversation. Dr. Wessely is the Professor of Psychological Medicine at King’s College, London, and is also the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The Conversation is an independent non-profit online media outlet that delivers “…news and views from the academic and research community…” directly to the public. Their aim is “…to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues.”