UK Clinical Psychologists Call for the Abandonment of Psychiatric Diagnosis and the ‘Disease’ Model

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In a bold and unprecedented move for any professional body, the UK Division of Clinical Psychology, a sub-division of the British Psychological Society, issued a Position Statement today calling for the end of the unevidenced biomedical model implied by psychiatric diagnosis. In brief, the argument is that the so-called ‘functional’ diagnoses – schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, ADHD and so on - are not scientifically valid categories and are often damaging in practice.

At War With Ourselves

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If we call someone mentally ill, in some ways we may be recognising their predicament as a powerful one, and their need for support. However, we may also be judging their state of mind as faulty. But what if what seems a faulty mind is much more than that? We can go deeper than trying to say what is wrong with someone, how ill they are, or what category they fit into. We can instead ask: How do parts of them feel? What might different parts of them need? And what are the contexts in which these experiences have emerged?

Mad Economy: Let’s Change the World!

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Everyone in the world is either touched by their own mental health issues or have had a family member affected. What if they directed their buying power to an organization that would use the profits to fund exciting mental health & recovery projects both in the developing world and in their own countries; projects that would be ethical, non-coercive, personal recovery-based, and were aimed at creating recovery communities? What if they could buy products, crafts, services, art, music, books from people who had experienced mental health issues, enabling them to set up their own businesses or buy from social co-operatives that enabled distressed people to work and earn a living wage?

Voices, Then & Now

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As we approach world hearing voices day 2013 Karen and I are in Canada. We have just enjoyed running a preconference workshop for about 100 people in Winnipeg. I am sitting in my room before breakfast writing this piece and as I sit I am thinking back twenty-three years ago; I am in a psych unit in Manchester and I have a new support worker called Lindsay. By then I had been a psych patient for almost ten years and was fast approaching spending the rest of my life in the system. My support worker had convinced me to go to a new group that was starting in Manchester called a hearing voices group.

Critical Psychiatry as Narrative

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This shorter-than-usual contribution signifies a departure from my earlier blogs. It is the first in an occasional series that uses semi-fictional clinical narratives to examine some of the difficulties that face people who use psychiatric services in England, and the psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who work in them.

The Meeting Was Sponsored by Merchants of Death

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Would you accept money "with no strings attached" from a robber who, in the act of stealing, happened to kill some of his victims? Would you accept money that has been stolen? Would you accept sponsorships from tobacco companies for a meeting about lung diseases? Few doctors would. Why is it then that most doctors willingly accept sponsorships from drug companies that have earned much of their money illegally while being fully aware that their criminal activities have killed thousands of patients, the very people whose interests doctors are supposed to take care of?

Is Motivation Worth More Than Expertise?

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The strongest evidence we have as to whether a drug causes a problem does not come from RCTs or any other controlled study but rather from good clinical accounts. Even if RCTs were done by angels, so there was no hiding, no miscoding, nothing untoward, RCTs can still hide adverse events. The onus is on large and powerful corporations who have a lot of resources to pinpoint the populations where the benefit is likely to exceed the risk, if they want to continue to make money out of vulnerable people.

The Hidden Gorilla

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Three weeks ago What would Batman do Now covered the issue of suicide in the military – an issue that had Batman missing in action, and...

Dietary Patterns and Mental Health

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We are constantly hearing that ‘how we eat’ affects our health. The vast majority of studies showing the associations between diet and mental health have emerged in only the last decade, at best. So any professional who graduated over 10 years ago could potentially be completely unfamiliar with this body of research. We are encouraged by the number of professionals starting to pay attention to diet, but we have a long way to go.

What it Means to be a Human, With all the Beauty and Complexity That...

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If not every week, then very often, we receive requests from people not living in Sweden asking if it would be possible to come to the Family Care Foundation and take part in our shared work. I often day-dream that I have a list of different places in different countries where it was obvious that the main task for the organization and everyone involved was to meet those we call clients and their families in a relational and dialogical way, where it was NOT important at all to define people in terms of diagnosis and where it was NO big deal to support people to get off medication. Where the big deal was about something else: to try to create a safe place and to make sense of experiences and to try to share the very hard things with each other.

Abolishing Forced Treatment in Psychiatry is an Ethical Imperative

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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 Petition Against DSM-5

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The International DSM-5 Response Committee, sponsored by Division 32 of the American Psychological Association — the Society for Humanistic Psychology — now has an online petition against the DSM-5.  This is a truly international effort. Please support the petition by signing it at http://dsm5response.com

RxISK Stories: Gambling on the Side Effects of Antidepressants

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In June last year, three months into a prescription for anti-depressant drug Efexor, former financial analyst Tim Hillier left his hotel to wander the empty streets of Alice Springs in an attempt to clear his head. An hour earlier, he had wagered $80,000 -- almost the entirety of his life-savings -- on a first-round Wimbledon tennis match featuring Aussie hope Sam Stosur.

The Shameful Story that Runs and Runs: A Review of The Bitterest Pills

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If the blimp that is psychiatric treatment were a passenger aircraft, the authorities would have grounded it many years ago, but still it continues to inflict harm on countless thousands of people. I read Joanna Moncrieff's latest book with a growing sense of anger and shame. The roots of drug treatment in psychiatry are thoroughly rotten. They sustain the decaying trunk of psychiatric theory and practice through misrepresentations and untruths; it is snake oil peddled by quackery.

‘Angels and Demons’: the Politics of Psychoactive Drugs

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Prescription drugs like antidepressants, antipsychotics and so-called ‘mood stabilisers’ are widely promoted as good for your health. But the history of prescription and recreational drug use is more intimately intertwined than most people recognise. Attempts to disentangle the two have created a false dichotomy – with prescription drugs, at least some of them, set up as the ‘angels’ that can do no wrong, and recreational drugs cast as the ‘demons’.

American Woman

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On Thursday, May 31, 2001, a woman whose name is known only to GlaxoSmithKline emailed the company:   "My name is... I was diagnosed with panic...

A Journey Into Madness and Back Again: Part 1

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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.

Human Beings Are More Than a Combination of Letters, or; Why We Needed a...

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We are among an increasing number of people around the world who know the importance of holding on to a humanistic idea, and of keeping in mind that people need—first and foremost—other people. People who are willing to take part, to share with us the horror and confusion, to invite the telling of a narrative, and to keep the hope alive.

Can Madness Save the World?

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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.

Causing a Stir: Launching “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia” in New York City

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Those of you who read the New York Times may have seen its coverage of the British Psychological Society’s recent report, ‘Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality, and what can help.’ The report has been widely welcomed and many have seen it as a marker of how our understanding of these experiences is changing. The report has not been without its critics. We (Editor Anne Cooke and co-author Peter Kinderman) are coming to New York this month to launch the report in America.

Over the Falls Without a Barrel: The Patent Cliff and Prescriber Impartiality

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When a pharmaceutical company discovers a potential new drug, they undertake a mammoth project. The aim is to amass sufficient evidence that national organizations such as the FDA will approve sale of the drug, and the type of disorders for which it can be openly prescribed – the so-called “on-label” uses. In order to encourage companies to undertake this risk, governments place a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The Truth About Antidepressant Research: An Invitation to Dialogue

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The Finnish Psychological Association held a meeting in Helsinki on 1 Sept 2014 titled “Mental Health and Medicalization.” I spoke at the meeting and four days later I sent a letter to another speaker, psychiatrist Erkki Isometsä. Professor Isometsä replied: “I will respond to it in detail within a few days..." As "Open Dialogue" is essential in science, I have published my letter to Isometsä here as well as on my own website, although I didn’t succeed in starting a dialogue.

May Your Psychache be Minimal

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Suicide needs to come 'out of the closet' as a public health issue. But this in turn requires a broad, ongoing community conversation rather than the current status quo of 'experts' talking about us without us. We also need to move beyond the excessive medicalisation of suicide that blames it on some notional 'mental illness'. This is my first post where I introduce myself, telling you a little of how I came to do a PhD in Suicidology. And an invitation to join me in a radically different conversation about suicide, here at Mad in America.

Brand Fascism

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The norm in science is that there is free access to the data underpinning experiments. If free access is denied; it’s not science. In the case of branded pharmaceuticals, we do not even know what trials have been done. What is put in the public domain is not data. The selected highlights of a football game and the comments of the pundits afterwards don't change the score. The selected highlights of pharma studies and the comments of pundits routinely change the score.

Madness and the Family (Part Two): Towards a Unified Theory of Family Dynamics and...

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In Part One of this article series, we reviewed the contemporary research into the links between psychosis, problematic family dynamics, and other forms of childhood trauma. After reviewing this research, we find that a very interesting and important question emerges: What do all of these have in common? In other words, is there some common denominator that all of these types of trauma and patterns of problematic family dynamics share, a single underlying factor that makes someone particularly vulnerable to experiencing a psychotic crisis? Indeed, I believe that there is.