It was May 19, 2003, in San Francisco; the first-ever (we think) symposium on micronutrient treatment to be on the schedule for the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. There was moderate interest. This year, the two of us (both psychologists) presented many, many studies on the use of micronutrients to treat anxiety, stress, depressive symptoms, ADHD, aggression, mood, and addictions. The amount of data differed dramatically from 12 years ago, but the biggest difference was the response from psychiatrists!
There was a heart-breaking and disturbing story in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper entitled, My Daughter, the Schizophrenic’, which featured edited extracts from a book written by the father of a child called Jani. He describes how Jani is admitted into a psychiatric hospital when she is 5, diagnosed with schizophrenia when she is 6 and by the time she is 7, she has been put on a potent cocktail of psychotropic medications.
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.
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.
Dr Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, recently published a book called: “Killing Us Softly: The sense and nonsense of alternative medicine.” It also goes under the title: “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine” The book presents some evidence on alternative medicines like homeopathy, Chinese herbs, chiropractic adjustments and, of greatest interest to us, the evidence for and against nutrient supplements for the treatment of illness.
The version of psychiatry that many professionals, politicians and laypeople would like to be true is that mental illnesses are specific brain disorders with specific drug treatments, to which they are very responsive if identified early. In reality, the way we categorise mental illnesses is arbitrary, and the diagnostic criteria are over inclusive. Whilst psychiatric drugs can be helpful, the dream of a quick fix by targeted drugs has become a nightmare where we often do more harm than good in the way we use drugs, e.g. against depression, schizophrenia and ADHD.
One of the suggestions in the comments from my last post has really got my imagination going. Chaya Grossberg suggested that we can all edit Wikipedia entries. I went in and got surprised at how easy this was. Then I checked the hit rates on Wikipedia to see how big an impact this could have, and I was totally amazed.
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.’
This is the final of four installments about the bizarre, ongoing conduct of psychiatrists at Upton House, an Eastern Health psychiatric facility in Melbourne, and the collusion with their conduct by all relevant agencies. This last installment will document the failure, so far, of the State and Federal Governments to intervene in even this most extreme and blatant example of abuse of power by psychiatry. If I, as a Professor of Clinical Psychology with 40 years clinical and research experience in this field, can be so easily dismissed/ignored by the relevant systems in Victoria, what chance do the average users of mental health services and their families have of being heard in this State?
In a belated new-year blog, I thought it would be useful to set out what I think someone needs to think about if they are considering taking a drug for a mental health problem, especially if they think they might end up taking the drug for a long time. These are the questions you might want to ask your doctor if you take a ‘drug-centred’ approach to the use of drugs in mental health.
When the idea that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might make people feel suicidal first started to be discussed, I admit I was sceptical. It didn’t seem to me the drugs had much effect at all, and I couldn’t understand how a chemical substance could produce a specific thought. Because these effects did not show up in randomised controlled trials, they were dismissed and few efforts were made to study them properly. Then some large meta-analyses started to find an association between the use of modern antidepressants and suicidal thoughts and actions, especially in children.
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.
There are some things to applaud about the recently released update of the NICE bipolar guidelines, not least the recognition that the diagnosis has been inappropriately applied to children with behavioural problems. Hopefully this will help curtail the worrying trend of using toxic bipolar drugs in this age group. As usual, however, the Guidelines overlook glaring problems with the evidence base for drug treatment in general, and miss an opportunity to stem the diagnostic creep that has come to the UK and Europe via the United States.
Before the early 1990’s the use of antipsychotic medications was largely reserved for adults with severe psychotic disorders; unpleasant involuntary movement disorders (extrapyramidal side-effects) and cardiovascular risks appear to have largely limited their use outside these disorders. The introduction and intense marketing of what seemed to be better tolerated and safer (now proven not to be), second generation atypical antipsychotics (AAPs) such as risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, ziprasidone and aripiprazole from the mid 1990’s led to a rapid expansion of antipsychotic medication use for a wide variety of unlicensed conditions and in more diverse clinical populations.
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.
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 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
Two pieces of research have been published over the last two years that should prompt a major reorientation of the treatment of schizophrenia and psychosis, and a fundamental reappraisal of the use of antipsychotic drugs in general. Put together, these studies suggest that the standard approach to treating serious mental health problems may cause more harm than good. Long-term treatment with antipsychotic drugs has adverse effects on the brain, and may impair rather than improve chances of recovery for some. Many people ask me how the psychiatric profession has responded to this data. Surely, they think, it must have stimulated a major debate within the profession, and some critical reflection about why it took so long to recognise these worrying effects? Sadly, this does not appear to be happening.
A couple of days ago, after two years of fighting, I received Mylan Pharmaceuticals assessment of the causal link between their drug Fluox and my son's suicide. Their conclusion is identical to that of the New Zealand drug regulator Medsafe, that the SSRI antidepressant Fluoxetine is the probable cause of Toran's death. The rating of 'probable' includes an assessment that Toran's suicide was 'unlikely to be attributed to disease or other drugs.'
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 growing appreciation of the importance of involving people in their own health care has seen the development of initiatives such as “patient-centred care.” Patient-centred care has been defined as “providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.” While this definition seems reasonable enough, it appears to be very difficult to translate into practice; particularly in the area of mental health.
There is a hunger out there for a foundational critique of psychiatry—something that pulls no punches, minces no words. That is, there is a hunger for a reasoned antipsychiatry position. Something that explains how we ended up here, provides solid evidence that psychiatry should be abandoned, and begins theorizing what we might do instead.
Subscribers to Mad in America might be interested in a Keynote Lecture given by Professor Nikolas Rose in Nottingham on May 15th 2013. In this lecture Professor Rose very thoughtfully challenges a number of the assumptions which underpin conventional and contemporary psychiatric practice. He asks five hard questions:
- Is there (really) an epidemic of mental illness?
- Does the path to understanding mental disorder lie through the brain?
- What is the role of diagnosis and of diagnostic manuals?
- Should we seek early identification of those at risk of future mental pathology?
- What is the place of patients, users, survivors, & consumers of mental health systems?
I hope this will be of help to people who hear voices and their friends and supporters. I also hope it will be helpful to the voices which are parts of many people's lives. Many voices I have come across and the people that hear them are convinced that their voices are spiritual in nature. I take an agnostic position on this, and therefore endeavour to respect different spiritual understandings. My intention is not to explain all voices psychologically but to help people make peace with their voices so they can get on with their lives.
The serotonin reuptake inhibiting (SSRI) group of drugs came on stream in the late 1980s, nearly two decades after first being mooted. The delay centred on finding an indication. They did not have hoped-for lucrative antihypertensive or antiobesity profiles. Even though a 1960s idea that serotonin concentrations might be lowered in depression had been rejected, drug companies marketed SSRIs for depression even though they were weaker than older tricyclic antidepressants. They sold the idea that depression was the deeper illness behind the superficial manifestations of anxiety. The approach was an astonishing success, central to which was the notion that SSRIs restored serotonin levels to normal, a notion that later transmuted into the idea that they remedied a chemical imbalance.