It’s taken me a while to write part 2 of this series, and honestly I’ve been torn between several compelling topics. But, here I land. Just a brief re-cap before I get rolling: The foundation of this ‘False Arguments’ series is that sometimes I, you, we... all get drawn into arguments and belief systems that are based on a particular starting point that is assumed to be, or acted upon, as if they are valid.
This week, MIA highlighted a recently published study of the four most commonly prescribed neurolpetics. As noted in the post, the major outcome was that these drugs were not found to be effective or safe. This important study, co-authored by Dilip Jeste the current president of the American Psychiatric Association, is worth reviewing in greater detail.
Over the years of my explorations into psychosis and human evolution a very interesting irony became increasingly apparent. It is well-known that people who fall into those deeply transformative and chaotic states typically referred to as “psychosis” often feel, at different points throughout their journeys, that they have received a special calling to save the world, or at least the human race. Indeed, this experience played a particularly prominent role in my own extreme states, as well as within those of at least two of my own family members. From a pathological perspective, this is often referred to as a kind of “delusion of grandeur,” though in my own research and writing, I have come to feel that the term “heroic (or messianic) striving” is generally more accurate and helpful.
So, thanks to everyone who has read and commented on my stories of reentry into the mental health system. I have now had eight nights of very good sleep and my mental health symptoms are back to the baseline. Baseline for me means I only get separated from consensus reality when a significant trauma occurs at the same time I'm having a pretty good sleep deficit. Usually I can manage it myself simply by being aggressive about handling — and increasing — the sleep. So this time I was unable to break that cycle and got some more drugs to help.
It is often not appreciated by the individuals receiving electrically induced convulsions that any gains they receive from the procedure will almost certainly be short-lived, and that the "treatment" will need to be repeated more or less indefinitely at intervals of about a month. Case studies can be helpful and informative, but they tell us little or nothing on the general questions of safety and efficacy.
I recently finished reading Joseph LeDoux’s wonderful book Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety. LeDoux has written numerous books and articles on fear over many decades now, with an accessible that makes neuroanatomy and neuroscience easy to understand. LeDoux studies the brain, but readers of this site would want to know that he is dubious about drugs being the answer to ameliorating anxiety or fear. He raises questions regarding which domains of behavior belong to the brain and which domains belong to mind.
When I first heard of the proposed “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013” (H.R. 3717)”, I felt relieved and thought “maybe somebody has finally got it!” However, as I read and processed the words I realized just how much Tim Murphy didn’t get it. Is this mental health system broke? Yes it is. Can it be fixed? Yes it can. But we must do it collectively and with the experience and voices of those with true lived experiences including their families and allies. I stand with millions of others who have shown through our resiliency that our movement is real, has saved lives and most of all we have people that can give voice to what really needs to be changed within the system. If only people will listen.
When patients come to me with complaints of low libido, low or flat mood, weight gain, hair loss, and cloudy thinking, one of my first questions is “Are you on the Pill?”. When they come complaining about premenstrual irritability, insomnia, tearfulness, bloating, and breast tenderness, requesting that I sanction beginning a course of oral contraceptives and perhaps an antidepressant, the one-size-fits-all-cure-all of psychiatrists and gynecologists nationwide, my first comment is “There’s a better way.”
During the past 29 years I have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD, Biploar II and complex PTSD. I have tried numerous drug combinations and have been through ECT several times. None of this helped me. My road to recovery started when I decided to rebel against conventional psychiatry.
KMSP News has aired a report of yet another mentally ill man pressured to enroll in a study of an unapproved antipsychotic drug, with near-disastrous results. His story bears a striking resemblance to the case of Dan Markingson, who committed suicide in a University of Minnesota study in 2004.
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!
In order for an experience to create a life mission and strong sense of purpose, it has to affect you to the core. Though I was only on psychiatric drugs for a few years of my life (and the very lowest “clinical” doses available), they affected me so strongly and took away so much that I could never forget or simply leave that experience behind me. I share this list, not to torture people who are on them or struggling to get off, reminding them of how much is being taken away (or could be taken away), but rather to validate the desire that many won't have to take these substances, and will be supported in better ways.
Evidence that antipsychotics cause brain shrinkage has been accumulating over the last few years, but the psychiatric research establishment is finding its own results difficult to swallow. A new paper by a group of American researchers once again tries to ‘blame the disease,’ a time-honoured tactic for diverting attention from the nasty and dangerous effects of some psychiatric treatments. People need to know about this research because it indicates that antipsychotics are not the innocuous substances that they have frequently been portrayed as. We still have no conclusive evidence that the disorders labeled as schizophrenia or psychosis are associated with any underlying abnormalities of the brain, but we do have strong evidence that the drugs we use to treat these conditions cause brain changes.
For decades, one of the most prominent voices for radical change, or “non-violent revolution” in mental health care has been David Oaks, former director of MindFreedom International. Many activists today were drawn into their work due to David’s influence. Robert Whitaker, for example has credited an interview he did with David in 1998 for propelling him into noticing and writing about the way psychiatric drugs were harming more than helping. My own journey in becoming outspoken on these issues has also been massively influenced by David’s activism and ideas, which is one reason I care strongly about the issue I am bringing up here. While David has been helpful, directly or indirectly, to so many of us, he now needs our help.
In our nation's history, in the face of fear, we have often risen to achieve noble goals. Other times we have behaved tragically — for instance, interning and seizing property from Japanese Americans during World War II. Certainly, there were spies among us then. Only in hindsight did we recognize that our treatment of the larger group — who were not — was gravely mistaken. We are on the verge of witnessing such an event in our own time.
I’ve given the “the speech” hundreds of times to skeptical young people, to frightened families and to many homeless men and women. I’ve assured them all that “mental illness is like diabetes and your medications are like insulin.” I delivered this speech with all good intentions and unquestioned certainty of its veracity and helpfulness. I really bought the whole chemical imbalance narrative — hook, line and Seroquel.
You never know what you’re going to accomplish when you start something. Who could have predicted that Tom Insel and NIMH would throw the APA and the DSM under the bus? My guess is that two factors played a big part in NIMH’s decision. First, the unceasing barrage of criticism directed at the DSM – its lack of construct validity; its declining inter-rater reliability – had damaged its credibility beyond repair. On top of that, thirty years of DSM-based research had produced no biomarkers.
This article is about my testimony at the Massachusetts State House hearings on September 10, 2013 supporting legal reform of rights of patients in mental hospitals in Massachusetts. The state Legislature’s Committee on Mental Health & Substance Abuse heard testimony on a proposed bill, House Bill #1806, guaranteeing patients in mental hospitals the right to get outside for fresh air breaks every day, and in the same bill is a proposal to put “teeth” into a weak existing law by strengthening enforcement powers to protect rights already granted people in hospitals. These rights may be unique to Massachusetts. It was hard to get them.
The assertion that the so-called antidepressants are being over-prescribed implies that there is a correct and appropriate level of prescribing and that depression is a chronic illness (just like diabetes). It has been an integral part of psychiatry's message that although depression might have been triggered by an external event, it is essentially an illness residing within the person's neurochemistry. The issue is not whether people should or shouldn't take pills. The issue is psychiatry pushing these dangerous serotonin-disruptive chemicals on people, under the pretense that they have an illness.
It’s time to speak about what is happening with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the United States. I have been...
The Bay Area survivor and peer movement came out strong recently, pushing the Alameda Board of Supervisors to table a proposed expansion of forced outpatient commitment. AB 1421, more commonly known as Laura's Law, says that if a court or judge decides that a person with mental health issues requires treatment, they must abide by a plan determined by a team of professionals on an outpatient basis. The law was passed in California in 2002 but is conditional on California county approval for implementation. Fueled by sensational accounts of the death of Laura Wilcox, who was killed by a man with a psychiatric diagnosis, AB 1421 holds the false promise that force and coercion are the solution to help people in emotional distress.
Many advocates for a long time have been unhappy with federally funded conferences that have a budget in the six figure area that are only held at luxury hotels. I've tried to come up with an alternative to Alternatives. I'm partnering with Paul Komarek of Defying Mental Illness to host our very first event. We're calling this the UnDiagnosing UnPlanned UnConference series. Our first event is in Cincinnati next week, Feb. 15 - 17, and we'd love for you to come.
As the medical director of a community mental health center, my colleagues look to me for guidance on how to approach the new edition of the DSM. How many should we buy? How much time should be devoted to staff training? This is my answer.
The New Zealand government has just published research showing the numbers of children aged 2-14 years being diagnosed with mental disorders has doubled in the last five years with the key driver being an increase in anxiety disorders.
My friend Jake, in his words, experienced two decades of intense declining psychosis, terrifying and agonizing beyond comprehension. These states were triggered when he was in college and tried out a simple chakra meditation every day for one year. He describes the states of consciousness he couldn't understand that resulted from it as possibly kundalini energy and/or psychic attack.