What I Learned at ISPS 2015

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I was fortunate to attend the recent ISPS conference in New York. MIA already has another excellent post on this and I hope there will be more to follow. I suspect each of us will bring a somewhat different perspective based on our own experience and I hope the polyphony of voices will enrich the reporting of this event. There was so much happening – often simultaneously – that my only complaint is that there were many fine workshops that I was not able to attend. I want to extend my sincere thanks to the organizers of this meeting.

Dr. Lieberman’s Swansong

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As my readers know, I am a great fan of Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, President of the APA. In his capacity as president, Dr. Lieberman writes a regular bulletin in Psychiatric News. These literary and intellectual gems have been a wonderful source of inspiration to me in my efforts to draw attention to psychiatry's flaws, and I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that in many respects, Dr. Lieberman has been one of our greatest allies.

Benzodiazepines: Dangerous Drugs

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When the benzodiazepines were first introduced, it was widely claimed, both by psychiatrists and by pharma, that they were non-addictive. This claim was subsequently abandoned in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and the addictive potential of these products is now recognized and generally accepted.

Just Me: A Series of Reflections on Trauma, Motherhood, and Psychiatry

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It took coming off psychotropic drugs completely for me to become awake. I had the doctor I was seeing wean me off, though she didn’t want to (instead she suggested I take different drugs.) But here I am almost two years later and I am feeling all of my emotions and managing them well. I knew best what I needed, and I trusted myself. Life has shown me that I can endure many trials and tribulations without giving up, and I trust myself today to reach out for help if I need it.

MIA Continuing Education Moves into its Next Phase

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The roll-out for Mad in America Continuing Education courses is moving into its next phase —improved presentation of courses and a more aggressive marketing of what we believe are unique CME and CEU resources for professionals and advocates alike. If I needed any reminder of why our continuing education project is so necessary, all I need to do is continue to read through my Psychiatric Times email.

An Unplanned Path to Discovering My Truth

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What began as a story of self-discovery, spiritual awakening, and healing written only for family and friends evolved into a memoir reflecting my path towards liberation that other people might find useful on their journey of awakening to the person they were born to be. A power greater than myself became a wind under my wings moving the creation of this memoir forward. The story was enhanced by the process of creative expression that deepened the intimate look at my experience of loss and grieving that were intertwined with my liberation journey.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

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TMS is a psychiatric treatment that uses a rapidly alternating magnetic field to induce electric currents in the brain. These currents stimulate neurons, causing them to "fire." When used repetitively, TMS is said to alter the excitability of the brain area that has been stimulated. In the psychiatric field, TMS is being used increasingly as a treatment for depression, particularly with so-called treatment-resistant clients. I Googled the string "TMS + depression" and got 1.35 million hits. So the idea is attracting attention.

False Arguments: A Three-Part Story

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In my experience, the world of ‘mental health’ is absolutely overloaded with what I like to call ‘false arguments.’ Literally every day, people are engaged in debates without ever questioning the premises upon which those debates are founded. It’s akin to my husband approaching me and inquiring, “Hey, should we fill our one-year-old daughter’s sippy cup with Pepsi or Coca Cola today?”

UN: Ensure No One is Detained in Any Kind of Mental Health Facility

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The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, authoritative body that interprets this treaty, has now confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that all mental health incarceration violates Article 14 of the CRPD. All governments should take notice, and incarcerated people and human rights defenders should take heart from this welcome development.

The Sociological Study of Mental Illness: A Historical Perspective

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Mental illness, as the eminent historian of psychiatry Michael MacDonald once aptly remarked, “is the most solitary of afflictions to the people who experience it; but it is the most social of maladies to those who observe its effects.” If psychiatry has typically, though far from always, focused on the individual who suffers from various forms of mental disorder, for the sociologist it is - naturally - the social aspects and implications of mental disturbance for the individual, for his or her immediate interactional circle, for the surrounding community, and for society as a whole, that have been the primary intellectual puzzles that have drawn attention.

The Politics of Healing

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Some things are floating around in my mind to try and make sense of. A big part of it is the connection of coercive/biopsychiatry to both race and gender politics. This is connected in my mind to the politics of healing in a larger sense than the singular healing any person might seek through therapy or personal search for wellness. It is a healing that is throughout the individual and society.

Study329.org: The Panorama Files

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Study 329 is probably the most famous clinical trial ever. It is one of the few to attract a Fraud action and is certainly the only one with a $3 Billion fine linked to it. The study began recruiting adolescents to Paxil, imipramine or placebo in 1994 and finished up in 1998. Later in 1998, SmithKline Beecham, the marketers of Paxil (they hadn’t discovered it), acknowledged in an internal document that the study had shown that Paxil didn’t work for Children. This lack of benefit was something they were not inclined to share with the outside world. Instead they decided then they would pick the good bits out of the study and publish these.

What is Love? An Ode to Motherhood on Mother’s Day

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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.

Community Discussions NOW That Actually Want Our Perspective

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President Obama called for a national mental health discussion a while ago and here are the details. It has the chance to be a dog and pony show as our peers were excluded from part of the planning process (making the discussion guide). But the organization that is running this has now recognized that problem and is working to balance different viewpoints on mental health. If we jump on it now, we have a chance to really get heard.

Biology and Genetics are Irrelevant Once True Causes are Recognized

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The psychiatric genetics literature contains few references to specific environmental factors that cause psychiatric disorders, and while researchers acknowledge a role for these factors, they usually claim that environmental causes are mysterious or unknown. As a leading group of psychiatric genetic researchers recently put it, while claiming that schizophrenia “has a substantial genetic contribution,” the “underlying causes and pathogenesis of the disorder remains unknown.” But research suggests otherwise.

The Great “Crazy” Cover-up: Harm Results from Rewriting the History of DSM

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I have been immersed in the field of psychiatric diagnosis – and resistance to it – for more than a quarter of a century. In the late 1980s, I was a consultant to two committees appointed by DSM-IV Task Force head Allen Frances to decide what DSM-IV should contain. I resigned from those committees after two years because I was appalled by the way I saw that good scientific research was often being ignored, distorted, or lied about and the way that junk science was being used as though it were of high quality . . . if that suited the aims of those in charge.

The Antidepressant Era: the Movie

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"The Antidepressant Era" was written in 1995, and first published in 1997. A paperback came out in 1999. It was close to universally welcomed. It was favorably received by reviewers from the pharmaceutical industry, perhaps because it made clear that this branch of medical history had not been shaped by great men or great institutions but that other players, company people, had been at least as important.

Overtreatment, Bereavement, and Antidepressants

A recent paper argues that prescribing antidepressants shortly after the death of a loved one is problematic . . . and a few days later, a Harvard academic publicly suggests prescribing antidepressants FOR bereavement. Wait, what?

Doctor Munchausen and Sense about Science

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In June this year the BMJ published an article supposedly about how the Black Box Warning that antidepressants cause suicide had led to a drop in the use of the same antidepressants and an increase in suicides. The message was widely trumpeted in daily newspapers and other news outlets as well as the press office of Harvard University and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In fact there had been no drop in the use of antidepressants and no increase in suicide rates or suicide act rates. The letters sent to the BMJ in response to the article wondering how such a shoddy piece of work could possibly have been published are worth reading – rarely is academic contempt so scathing.

Slow Psychiatry: Integrating Need-Adapted Approaches with Drug-Centered Pharmacology

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For the past four years, I have been deconstructing my views of my profession. My focus has been primarily in two areas: the efficacy and safety of the drugs I prescribe and the so-called “alternative” approaches (in this I include many things such as Open Dialogue, Hearing Voices groups, and Intentional Peer Support to name a few). I have shared much of this in the blogs I wrote during this time. I am also interested in how we can improve and reform the public mental health system since this is not only where I work but where most people seek services and help. I wonder where – if anywhere – psychiatrists fit in to a reformed system.

My Healing Protocol Detailed

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Someone in one of my healing groups asked me the below question, as I've been rapidly getting healthier and people are noticing: "Monica what do you think has been helping you the most to get better?" I figured I'd answer by putting this post together for her and my readers here and on Beyond Meds. The bottom line is that everything I do is important. Yup, again, Everything matters.

Remembering the 2003 Fast For Freedom: Time for Another?

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On August 16, 2003, six individuals who had travelled from all over the country – Brooklyn; Wilmington, Delaware; Chicago; Portland – to Pasadena, California,...

Pinball Wizards and the Doomed Project of Psychiatric Diagnosis

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The DSM claims to be a scientific system of classification. The validity of any system of scientific classification is the extent to which it can be shown to reflect the real world. Fifty years of study and investigation, and huge sums of money spent across the Western world on neuroscientific research institutes, on careers and equipment, has failed to establish the validity of a single psychiatric diagnosis.

Backsliding in the Bay State

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The drumbeat for more "Risk Management" just gets louder. And nowhere is this so alarmingly evident as a new policy proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) in November 2012.
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The MD and the Imaginary Eating Disorder

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He could have asked me if there was a specific event that had precipitated my suicide attempt. He could have asked if I had a history of trauma. He could have simply asked, “What happened?” “What are you feeling?” or “So what’s going on?” Nope. He chose to open our meeting with an accusatory remark about a make-believe eating disorder.