Revealing the false information provided about psychiatry should cause any thinking person, patient, thought-leader or politician to wonder: “how many otherwise normal or potentially curable people over the last half century of psych drug propaganda have actually been mis-labeled as mentally ill (and then mis-treated) and sent down the convoluted path of therapeutic misadventures – heading toward oblivion?”
In a recent blog, we talked about the fact that nutrition and poverty are linked, and how poor nutrition is likely a mediator variable in the relationship between poverty and illness. In other words, it is the suboptimal nutrition associated with low income which likely explains much of the vulnerability to mental and physical illness. Today we want to tell you about an amazing American program that is making great strides in addressing this issue.
Forced treatment in psychiatry cannot be defended, neither on ethical, legal or scientific grounds. It has never been shown that forced treatment does more good than harm, and it is highly likely that the opposite is true. We need to abolish our laws about this, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which virtually all countries have ratified.
The American Journal of Psychiatry (January, 2103) recently published a series of articles that analyzed the outcomes of the field trials that were conducted by the DSM-5 Task Force, to determine the inter-rater reliability of the multiple diagnostic categories that will comprise the DSM-5. A table below tracks the downward progression of inter-rater reliability from DSM-III through DSM-5.
I have been here at Western State Hospital for almost five years. While I’ve been told that I’ve met all the criteria for a conditional release, the hospital won’t grant me this because I can’t prove that I won’t be dangerous in the future. Can anyone prove this? Even convicts don’t have to prove they’re ‘safe’ before they are freed.
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.
Scapegoating the “mentally ill” every time violence or chaos breaks out allows us to absolve society of any blame. It allows us to ignore the problems that give rise to anger, distress, and violence (i.e., poverty, rejection, discrimination, oppression, injustice, abuse, etc) and instead focus on the one thing that can never be proven or defined and yet so easily can be identified in another. It provides relief without any reflection on how our society and way of life, and the inevitability of death, may be contributing to the terror that overwhelms us.
At the Nordic Cochrane Centre, we have researched antidepressants for several years and I have long wondered why leading professors of psychiatry base their practice on a number of erroneous myths. These myths are harmful to patients. Many psychiatrists are well aware that the myths do not hold and have told me so, but they don’t dare deviate from the official positions because of career concerns. Being a specialist in internal medicince, I don’t risk ruining my career by incurring the professors’ wrath and I shall try here to come to the rescue of the many conscientious but oppressed psychiatrists and patients by listing the worst myths and explain why they are harmful.
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.
It’s stunning what a quarter milligram of a benzodiazepine can do to the body. I’ve been detoxing off a high dose of benzodiazepines since September of 2011. The first few months were a failure. But this past May, I found my expert and thought I had the formula. Things were going well for detoxing off a substance many deem more addictive that heroin. That is, I realized, until they weren’t.
The context in which this article is penned is rule by institutions which are functions of the state, in particular those deemed services; the ways in which these interconnect to create a veritable trap; contrary to current hegemony, the ease with which they can substantially harm those that they “serve.” Pivotal in this article is the “mental health system” and the psychiatric dangers that it presents. At the centre of the discussion are two stories, each involving individuals competently attending to their own needs and/or the needs of their loved ones precisely by keeping one or more of these institutions at bay.
I have opposed involuntary treatment for my entire career and first began criticizing it in the medical literature in 1964. As Thomas Szasz originally taught, involuntary psychiatric treatment is unconstitutional and an assault on basic human rights. I am also against it on scientific grounds, because after hundreds of years, this violation of human rights has generated no scientific studies to show that it benefits its victims. I am encouraged by the excellent blog by Peter C. Gøtzsche on MadinAmerica.com, which inspired me to put a new section, Psychiatric Coercion and Involuntary Treatment, on my website, and to compose these further observations of my own.
I remember the feeling, one of not exactly isolation but otherness. A sense that not only did I not fit in many places where I used to, but also that I lacked the energy to even try — to, like an actor, wear the skin of the old me for an hour or even a few minutes so that others would not feel uncomfortable in my quivering and clearly perturbed presence.
As noted in Anatomy of an Epidemic, the prognosis for someone experiencing psychosis is far better in developing countries than in industrialized countries. Robert Whitaker and others posit that this is due to the treatment models used in the developing world, as well as to debility and chronicity caused by psychiatric drugs themselves. I think it's also important to explore traditional tribal and village based models of helping people experiencing psychosis and examine why they may be effective. Do these traditional societies know something we don't?
In 2012, I found out that the ten biggest drug companies in the world commit repeated and serious crimes to such a degree that they fulfill the criteria for organised crime under US law. I also found out how huge the consequences of the crimes are. They involve colossal thefts of public monies and they contribute substantially to the fact that our drugs are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
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.
Recent years have seen an influx of numerous studies providing an undeniable link between childhood/ chronic trauma and psychotic states. Although many researchers (i.e., Richard Bentall, Anthony Morrison, John Read) have been publishing and speaking at events around the world discussing the implications of this link, they are still largely ignored by mainstream practitioners, researchers, and even those with lived experience. While this may be partially due to an understandable (but not necessarily defensible) tendency to deny the existence of trauma, in general, there are also certainly many political, ideological, and financial reasons for this as well.
Shamans are the magician spirit healers in tribal, non-technological societies around the world. Anthropologists use the word “shamanism,” from the Tungus people of Siberia, to mean the commonalities between different traditions. Shamans find their calling through a life-threatening initiatory illness or crisis, go into visioning and trance to connect to other realities, shapeshift out of their regular identity to identify with animals, spirits, and even illnesses, and return to the ordinary world to share skills of healing and creativity. Living at the edge of society and defying conventional norms, conduct, and even gender, shamans are respected as a powerful community link to the divine.
The 90s were labeled - rather optimistically - as the ‘decade of recovery.’ More recently, recovery has been placed slap bang central in mental health policy. Is supporting recovery pretty much good common sense? Or is the term being misused to pressure those suffering to behave in certain ways?
At the present time psychiatry, because of intense pressure from its critics, is retreating somewhat from the chemical imbalance theory. But instead of acknowledging that this notion was flawed, that they knew it was flawed, and that they promoted it for self-gain, they are claiming that they never really said it in the first place.
Suicidal torment is magnified by the loss of hope. People in life-or-death survival conditions, such as being lost in the wilderness or being held prisoner of war, will dream and plan for the future in order to make their present conditions tolerable. The critically ill heart patient expresses his faith in his upcoming surgery by making a date to play golf six weeks after the operation. But the depressed person sees no viable future. There is nothing to look forward to, no dreams to fulfill, only the never-ending hell of the eternal present.
Both Michel Foucault and Thomas Szasz dated the beginnings of a distinct Western institutional response to madness to the late 1500s-early 1600s. But while for Foucault it started in France with the creation of the public “hôpital général” for the poor insane, for Szasz it began in England with the appearance of for-profit madhouses where upper class families shut away inconvenient relatives. Regardless of their different ideas on the beginnings of anything resembling a mental health system, both authors agree that it was characterized by the coercive incarceration of a specially labeled group.
What if I told you that, in 6 decades of research, the serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) theory of depression and anxiety - the claim that “Depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance, and Zoloft works to correct this imbalance” - has not achieved scientific credibility? You’d want some supporting arguments for this shocking claim. So, here you go:
In psychiatry, there has always been a swing between the two poles of nature and nurture. Unfortunately, psychiatry is firmly back in the nature camp. Lip service is paid to the emotional environment and trauma. But that is as far as it goes. The accepted (and dangerous) belief is that psychiatry deals with brain diseases – inherited brain diseases. We are back to absolute genetic determinism.
Since a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee, on June 4, recommended approval of flibanserin (AddyiTM) in June, there have been numerous editorials and news stories about the controversies surrounding the first “pink Viagra” to hit the market. We have sought to understand the process and financial incentives that led the advisory committee to recommend its approval, with Sprout Pharmaceuticals prepared to market it as a treatment for a new disorder in DSM 5: Female sexual interest/arousal disorder.