The Inane Search for Magic Bullets to Treat Mental Illness

Those of you following our posts on Nutrition and Mental Health know that we ended the last one, on ‘history’, by saying that the two of us are essentially devoting our research lives to re-inventing the wheel. It is old knowledge that good nutrition is essential for mental health, and it is really old knowledge that improving nutrition can improve mental health. We are going to spend the next few blogs outlining the science and rationale that supports the role played by nutrition in wellness as well as the expression of mental illness. This information will provide modern scientific validation for the conclusions drawn by some of our ancestors, described in the previous blogs.

What Kind of Forced Treatment Would You Prefer?

The new Danish psychiatric law which has been under development for a while has just been passed by the government and is due to be implemented on 1st June 2015. However the road to this new law, ostentatiously to improve the rights of the patients, has had an interesting history. Denmark was on its way to achieving the dubious title of European champion in the number of people subjected to physical restraints according to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Elimination of Bias, Not Disclosure of Bias, Must be the Standard

Disclosure is an insufficient strategy for mitigating bias because bias does not result from the concealment of financial ties but from their effects. Even worse, social psychologists have demonstrated that when individuals disclose a competing interest, they give even more biased advice.

Reporting Adverse Reactions to Psychiatric Drugs – How Doctors and Regulators Fail Us

In Medicine there’s a saying “if you hear hoofbeats, don’t look for zebras.” It’s a reference to the wisdom of looking for the most likely explanations when making a diagnosis rather than looking for those that are rare and unusual. Hoofbeats are of course more likely to be the common horse than the rare zebra. My encounters with New Zealand’s pharmacovigilance system over the past four years have been akin to a safari, where I have witnessed scientists involved in pharmacovigilance and medicines regulators wildly hunting zebras while a rather large and obvious horse was standing on their toes.

They May not Be Coming for Your Guns, But They Are Definitely Coming for...

In New Zealand, the government is passing legislation called the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill that will limit access to minerals and vitamins. While safety and efficacy are important, this Bill will ban for sale many NHPs that New Zealanders rely on for their health. In so doing, it will ban all of the formulas for which there is scientific evidence of benefit for mental health. We have some evidence that the result could be tragic.

The Persecution of Heretics

Behind the apparent Biblical Authority of the Clinical Trial Literature in medicine lies an Inquisitional-like apparatus run by company PR agencies and agencies whose job it is to manage the perception of science - linking in academics - aimed at silencing dissent and ensuring that prescribing doctors continue to prescribe. It focusses most clearly on anyone who suggests that a brand-name drug might have significant adverse events.

Psychiatry & Suicide Prevention: A 30-year Failed Experiment

It takes courage and integrity to make changes to your beliefs and approach. In 2008 Professor Roger Mulder, head of psychiatry at Otago University, published research in which he concluded “Antidepressant treatment is associated with a rapid and significant reduction in suicidal behaviours. The rate of emergent suicidal behaviour was low and the risk/benefit ratio for antidepressants appears to favour their use.” In Dr. Mulder's conference presentations last week, he stated that the medical/psychiatric paradigm that has dominated approaches to suicide since WWII has largely failed to influence suicide rates. In Dr. Mulder’s view “New approaches are required – possibly public health, sociological, community or combinations in addition to, or instead of, medical approaches.”

Book Review: The Importance of Suffering

This is a very important, well-written book which should become essential reading for anyone involved in the healing arts, since suffering is - or should be - at the heart of our endeavors. Suffering tells us what’s really important to us, and our approach to it tells us what we’re really made of.

New Research into Antipsychotic Discontinuation And Reduction: the RADAR programme

For a long time I have felt that there just isn’t a good enough and long enough study on the pros and cons of long-term antipsychotic treatment versus reduction and discontinuation in people who have psychotic disorders, including those who are classified as having schizophrenia. Moreover, there are increasing reasons to be worried about the effects of long-term treatment with antipsychotics. I put this case to the UK’s National Institute of Health Research recently, and proposed that they fund a trial to assess the long-term outcomes of a gradual programme of antipsychotic reduction compared with standard ‘maintenance treatment.’ The NIHR agreed that this was an important issue, and that a new trial was urgently needed. The RADAR (Research into Antipsychotic Discontinuation And Reduction) study officially started in January 2016.

Out of my Mind. Driven to Drink.

This is an article written by a woman named Anne-Marie. I am publishing it here because it epitomizes what, a company I have founded, is all about. It tells of one woman extraordinarily getting to grips with a problem she has on treatment. My hope is that when is up and running we will be able to make it easier for people like Anne-Marie to engage with their doctors to solve problems like this.

How Reliable is the DSM-5?

More than a year on from the release of DSM-5, a Medscape survey found that just under half of clinicians had switched to using the new manual. Most non-users cited practical reasons, typically explaining that the health care system where they work has not yet changed over to the DSM-5. Many, however, said that they had concerns about the reliability of the DSM, which at least partially accounted for their non-use. Throughout the controversies that surrounded the development and launch of the DSM-5 reliability has been a contested issue: the APA has insisted that the DSM-5 is very reliable, others have expressed doubts. Here I reconsider the issues: What is reliability? Does it matter? What did the DSM-5 field trials show?

A Journey Into Madness and Back Again: Part 1

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.

Doctor Munchausen: Hear no, See no – What?

Doctors in the 1950s and 1960s made psychiatric diagnoses on orphaned children that led to treatment with antipsychotic drugs, and one of the drivers of this seemed to be that the Church got more money from the State as a result. The doctors, of course, also got paid. This feels like a seriously corrupt nexus operating with near impunity on the basis that no one is going to be bothered to investigate the fate of some orphans.

‘Angels and Demons’: the Politics of Psychoactive Drugs

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’.

May Your Psychache be Minimal

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.

Colonization or Postpsychiatry?

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.

If Not Meds, Then WHAT?

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.

Should Consumer/Survivors Help Psychiatrists Become Better Psychiatrists?

I was recently surfing the internet and came across an Etsy ad selling a lobotomy tool set - hammer and orbitoclast. I was tempted to make the purchase and indulge my penchant for this historical “apparatus” especially given its rise as heroic therapeutic intervention for three decades. It was a mere $168.00. Although I didn’t buy the historical torture device, that ad left me with one penetrating realization: psychiatry is here to stay.

Just Who is the Naked One Here?

On the 7th of November, Robert Whitaker was here in Copenhagen to officially launch the Danish translation of his book, . While we were celebrating the day, in another part of Denmark, psychiatry was preparing its attack. A professor of psychiatry Poul Videbech, one of our finest, specializing in depression with a particular emphasis on electroshock, was busy writing a review. The title of his review is “The Boy Has No Clothes On” and as you can imagine with such a title, the review is hardly going to be favorable, indeed it smacks of condescending paternalism framing the well-worn scenario for establishing psychiatric supremacy.

A Critique of Genetic Research on Schizophrenia – Expensive Castles in the Air

In the light of the much trumpeted claims that recent research has identified genes for schizophrenia, it is important to review the track record of this type of endeavor. Despite thousands of studies costing millions of dollars, and endless predictions that the genetics of schizophrenia would shortly be revealed, the field has so far failed to identify any genes that substantially increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.

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

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.


On Monday a new study was published with the finding that there is a three- to four-fold increase in the rates of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Delay in children, especially boys, born to mothers who have been on antidepressants through pregnancy. There are further studies with comparable findings in the offing. Not only this but it looks as though the SSRIs may redefine what it means to be a teratogen. Other teratogens produce their effects in the first trimester of pregnancy when organs are first being formed. But it looks like antidepressants used in the third trimester can lead to autistic spectrum disorder and developmental delay.

Me, My Brain, and Baked Beans

I’ve spent much of my professional life studying psychological aspects of mental health problems. Inevitably, this has also meant discussing the role of biology. That’s my academic day-job. But it’s not just academic for me. I’m probably not untypical of most people reading this; I can see clear examples of how my experiences may have affected my own mental health, but I can also see reasons to suspect biological, heritable, traits. As in all aspects of human behaviour, both nature and nurture are involved and they have been intimately entwined in a complex interactive dance throughout my childhood and adult life.

Time for a Policy Against Psychiatric Bullying

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?

Patient Centred-Care Doesn’t Go Far Enough: We Need Patient-Perspective Care

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.