Recently, This Morning featured a story on depression, in which Dr. Chris Steele advised participants that their depression was due to a 'chemical imbalance' (despite obvious environmental explanations) and that antidepressants - possibly for life - were the solution. However both the 'chemical imbalance' notion and the medical solutions it implies, for which there has never been any evidence, are outdated and now known to be harmful. Our letter asks Dr. Steele to refrain from using information that cannot be scientifically substantiated, as doing so has serious implications for the health and well-being of the viewing audience - which may be in violation of broadcasting legislation.
Drug profitability requires three parties to work together – drug companies to make the drugs, psychiatrists to prescribe them and consumers to take them. Too often, though, patients have failed to play nicely and do their bit. They have banged on about tiresome things like adverse reactions and alternative treatments, they have expressed foolish opposition to the very concept of pharmacotherapy and questioned its efficacy. They have become medication non-compliant and undermined the profits of the pharmaceutical industry and the authority of psychiatry. They have been bad and landed themselves on a lot of people’s naughty lists and made the World Health Organization very sad and worried.
Sometimes regarded as “treatment,” psychiatric bullying and harassment can no longer be considered as such. During the past two decades, the often devastating effects of psychiatric bullying and harassment have evidenced themselves on the wellbeing of consumers, and the climate of mental health facilities.The advent of mandatory anti-bullying policies in schools and workplaces has shifted thinking towards an acceptance that bullying occurs, causes harm and should not be tolerated. Could the development of anti-psychiatric bullying policies in mental health institutions make psychiatric abuse visible and create a zero tolerance culture?
I do not wish to discuss an individual patient. I wish to discuss the conduct of the psychiatrists at Upton House, Dr Katz in particular, who have been responsible for the administering of over 50 ECTs consecutively to a patient, and have reportedly repeatedly restrained this patient to a bed, on one occasion for approximately 60 consecutive days.
I believe the video ‘Voices Matter’ has, quite apart from capturing the spirit of the Hearing Voices movement, filmed the first signs, the first moments of professional interest, hinting at the dangers that inevitably are present when a movement threatens the established order of things.
A little over a year ago, there was consternation in psychiatric circles as a French psychiatrist, Daniele Canarelli was found guilty after her patient hacked a man to death. She had not recogized the hazard he posed. Doctors didn’t like the implications they saw. In a series of lectures I have raised the question as to how long it might be before doctors would be found guilty for a suicide or homicide linked to an antidepressant, given that we have known that these drugs can cause suicide or homicide for over 50 years.
For years, drugs were it. If you felt paranoid, heard voices or were diagnosed with schizophrenia, the only thing likely to be on offer was ‘antipsychotic’ medication. Like all drugs, these have a number of different effects on our nervous system. Some of the effects can be helpful, for example calming us down or making our experiences less intense or distressing. Others may be less desirable.
People have used psychoactive substances to dull and deaden pain, misery and suffering since time immemorial, but only recently, in the last few decades, have people been persuaded that what they are doing in this situation is rightly thought of as taking a remedy for an underlying disease. The spread of the use of prescription drugs has gone hand in hand with the increasing medicalization of everyday life, and a corresponding loss of the previous relationship that people had with psychoactive substances.
Recently the problem of publication bias has been shaking the foundations of much of psychology and medicine. In the field of pharmacology, the problem is worse, because the majority of outcome trials (on which medication approval and physician information is based) are conducted by pharmaceutical firms that stand to benefit enormously from positive results, and run the risk of enormous financial loss from negative ones. Numerous studies have found that positive results tend to be published, while negative ones are quietly tucked under the rug.
It was exciting going back to my old stamping ground. Years ago I’d worked in one of the local community mental health teams and had referred many women to the Drayton Park Crisis House. Walking up the steps of the house brought back memories of standing there with desperate and suicidal clients, some of whom had told me that they would rather die than go back into hospital. As you can imagine, to say I had been glad that there was an alternative would have been an understatement.
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.
We want to start an international initiative to promote the writing of recovery stories in every country, with the ultimate goal of sharing at an international level the most compelling ones from each country. Our proposal is born from an awareness that recovery stories are necessary today in order to give back to mental sufferance its meaning and transparency, to fight the biographical opacity of biological theories (the broken brain) and to guarantee decisional power to those who are offered (or imposed) mono-dimensional or dehumanizing treatments.
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.
Today is the fourth anniversary of the suicide of my only child. Supporting someone dealing with the grief of losing a child to suicide can be challenging. For all those who have been hurt by well-intentioned comments or interventions, I want to offer the following suggestions to friends, family and helping professionals.
In many respects it is difficult to fault the report Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia, recently published by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP)[i]; indeed, as recent posts on Mad in America have observed, there is much to admire in it. Whilst not overtly attacking biomedical interpretations of psychosis, it rightly draws attention to the limitations and problems of this model, and points instead to the importance of contexts of adversity, oppression and abuse in understanding psychosis. But the report makes only scant, fleeting references to the role of cultural differences and the complex relationships that are apparent between such differences and individual experiences of psychosis.
From 1951, a system designed for heroin and cocaine addicts – prescription-only status – was applied to all new drugs. Why? These were after all the first truly effective drugs in medicine. But the ability to do good came with a likelihood of doing harm. There was a trade-off to be made between risks and benefits. The new complex trade-offs could not be put on to the label of a drug or even captured in a forty page package insert. They needed to be individual to each person.
Delegates attending the International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists at London’s Barbican Centre in June this year will almost certainly not hear about the results of the seven-year outcome of the Dutch First Episode (FE) study widely discussed on Mad in America in recent months.
I am proud and happy to announce that our webpage DrivingUsCrazy was launched today. It will help us to get the word out about the international film festival taking place in Gothenburg, 16-18 October, 2015, and also to highlight the issue of madness every day until then — and hopefully for many days afterwards.
This has got to stop. Around the world a million people die from suicide each year and the response internationally is to pour more funding and channel more people into psychiatric services. Three large studies have now found that the more we spend on mental health services the higher our suicide rates. In addition, a recent study has completely discredited claims that 90% of those who die from suicide are mentally ill at the time of their death. We need to use this evidence to stop the expansion of psychiatry as a suicide prevention measure.
I believe if the public really knew and understood the reason why we who have survived medically-induced harm, and who do not have the human right to — with real evidence — legally expose this, they would support psychiatric survivors and help us to put an end to what has been called ‘the tyranny of good will.’
A great deal of the information published on MadInAmerica is devoted to this very important question, so many constructive ideas are often presented. We think that nutrition and diet should always be part of the conversation.
The area of politics that counts most for most of us is healthcare. Big Healthcare is now the biggest business in the United States and in the Western World. We desperately need a new compact between we the people and those who govern our healthcare – or at least a new compact between the doctors who make money for pharma by putting pills in our mouths and the pharmas of this world. Instead, we are told that to question the judgments of the scientific literature is to engage in an irrational War on Science itself.
Global leaders in the critical psychiatry movement met on 18 Sep 2015 for a one-day conference to address an urgent public health issue: the iatrogenic harm caused by the over-prescription of psychiatric medications. We were treated to an expert review of the ways in which the widespread use of harmful and barely (if at all) helpful medicines has become the mainstay of psychiatry’s contribution to society. At gatherings such as this, when people discover I am a psychiatrist I often become a lightning rod for their anger and frustration. It’s okay; it comes with the job, but a couple of things happened at Roehampton which reminded me why this can happen, and why all of this is so much more complicated than the simple black-and-white “Pharma and psychiatry bad, everyone else good.”
Recently, two more waves of criticism have broken onto the beach of opinion concerning mental health services and practice. Allen Frances has mourned approval of DSM-5 in his Psychology Today blog and the British Journal of Psychiatry has published a paper by members of the UK Critical Psychiatry Network. What is notable about both of these is that they give further voice to criticism of conventional mental health services by those who have spent years providing and researching them.
Julia has received a lot of media attention in the last few days as a result of her blinded RCT published in a prominent journal, the British Journal of Psychiatry, showing that micronutrients were better than placebo at improving ADHD and mood symptoms in adults. But what interests us far more is the amount of public emails we get as a result of this work. And the theme running through almost every email is that the child/adult/husband/wife has tried all kinds of medications and the symptoms are still there and, often, getting worse. Could the micronutrients help?