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.

How to Parent a Dead Child

Being the parent of a dead child is hard. Being the parent of a child who died from suicide may be even harder. I love my son and am proud of him and work to make sure that his having lived makes the world a better place.

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

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.

Could Your Doctor Be Mentally Ill or Suicidal?

At a time when psychiatrists are considering whether suicidal behavior constitutes a disorder rather than a symptom, there is strong evidence that physicians have far higher rates of suicide than the general population, with psychiatrists found to be at the highest risk of suicide. In light of this information, you may be asking yourself, as I am, whether it would be wise to conduct a brief mental state examination of any physician we consult (particularly any psychiatrist) as a way of ensuring our physical and emotional safety? To this end I have prepared a quick diagnostic test that you may carry in your pocket or purse for easy administration next time you are visiting a health professional.

The Bitterest Pills: The Troubling Story of Antipsychotic Drugs

As I see it this website is about filling the gaping hole in the official literature on mental health problems and their treatment. Since these problems were declared to be diseases, ‘just like any other’, academic papers present them as if they were simply technical glitches in the way the brain or mind works. They can be identified by ticking a few boxes, and easily treated by tweaking the corresponding defect with a drug or a few sessions of quick-fix therapy. What it is like to experience these problems and their treatments is nowhere to be found. Yet in post after post on this site among others, we hear about the harm produced by drugs that are prescribed for mental health problems.

Psychiatric Language: Perception, Reality, & Breakfast

There are terms in psychiatry that are designed to portray violent and distressing events as benign, and normal human rights, feelings and behaviours as threatening – things I think we need to name for what they are. The term ‘antidepressant’, for instance, shapes the way we think of these drugs. It renders the fact that they can worsen depression and cause suicidal thinking and behavior counter-intuitive, and makes people skeptical of claims they don’t work and make distressed people feel worse.

Are Supplements Simply Creating Expensive Urine?

We suspect that many people would benefit from an alteration in diet and there is certainly growing evidence that improving diet affects physical health. Whether that is true for mental health needs to be more rigorously tested, and we are encouraged that there are studies currently being conducted around the world attempting to manipulate diet to directly test this hypothesis.

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.”

At War With Ourselves

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?

Voices, Then & Now

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.

Elephants and Flamingos

I am walking through my local park in Copenhagen, Denmark, early in the morning breathing in the fresh smell of damp soil and late summer blooms. I am thinking about my thesis that I have just handed in and the fact that if it is passed I will be a certified psychologist! But, I will not be just any psychologist. I will be Denmark's first official 'Mad' psychologist, joining the ranks of others such as Rufus May, Eleanor Longden, Arnhild Lauveng, and Pat Deegan.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The DSM-5

What does the new DSM-5 have in common with an Alfred Hitchcock mystery?  They both use a plot device, a “MacGuffin,” to drive the story. Hitchcock explained a MacGuffin as on the one hand “ridiculous”, “non-existent”, “empty” and inherently without meaning, and at the same time the central point around which the entire story turns.  Which narratives, and whose, are served by the "diagnosis MacGuffin”? Are there more socially desirable alternatives to replace this particular plot vehicle? 

Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Health Care

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.

A Journey Into Madness and Back Again: Part 3

The idea of spending more time as a bureaucrat in the US Embassy in Iceland did not appeal to me. I longed for the freedom that academics have. While pursuing that dream I stumbled into the world of international media, “chemical imbalance”, book publishing and a greedy professor of psychiatry which was a prelude to my second annus horribilis.

Technology and Suicide

Large numbers of studies are being conducted with many claiming internet use causes structural changes in the brain similar to those found in the brains of drug addicts. No snorting, smoking or injecting required. You just have to look at this drug for long enough and your brain is damaged. Is it possible your laptop and mobile phone are the crack cocaine of gadgets?

Forced Psychiatric Treatment (and Protection against it) in Germany in 2013

For years, people in Germany who act like they are radical antipsychiatry activists have said that in this country psychiatric violent (forced) treatment has been forbidden. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Dietary Patterns and Mental Health

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.

A Journey Into Madness and Back Again: Part 2

In 1995 I had a very frightening experience that I have never discussed publicly before. At that time the main symptoms I was experiencing...

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.

Symptom or Experience: Does Language Matter?

Of all the beliefs that I have had about my experiences, the belief that I was ‘schizophrenic’ was the most damaging. In adopting the story that others told about me, and abandoning my own sense-making process, I held on to a belief that both hid my traumatic life experiences and rendered them irrelevant. Does it matter if we sometimes slip into the language of illness when we all agree that these experiences are meaningful, personal and have value? Yes. It does.

Long-Term Antipsychotics: Making Sense of the Evidence in the Light of the Dutch Follow-Up...

In the 1950s, when the drugs we now call ‘antipsychotics’ first came along, psychiatrists recognised that they were toxic substances that happened to have the ability to suppress thoughts and emotions without simply putting people to sleep in the way the old sedatives did. The mental restriction the drugs produced was noted to be part of a general state of physical and mental inhibition that at extremes resembled Parkinson’s disease. Early psychiatrists didn’t doubt that this state of neurological suppression was potentially damaging to the brain.

The Power of the Written Word

Since the invention of the printing press, community-controlled publications have enabled the voices of those with little power in society to be heard. Gandhi said that without a journal, a community could not be united. Asylum magazine is a printed magazine, in existence since 1986, which provides a place where alternative voices in mental health can be heard.

Raising Our Voices at TED 2013

At the end of my TED Talk one of the conference’s co-hosts came onto the stage and asked me, with a respectful interest, whether I still hear voices. For a split second I hesitated, wondering whether to play it down with an airy “oh, not all that much now.” Instead I opted for the truth: “All the time,” I said cheerfully, “In fact I heard them while I did the talk – they were reminding me what to say!”

Rethinking Mental Health, Part 1: From Positivism to a Holistic/Organismic Paradigm

We find ourselves in very interesting times with regard to our understanding of mental health. We find ever more heated, passionate and polarized discussions taking place with regard to the so-called mental disorders — how or even whether to try to classify them, which factors are generally helpful in recovery vs. which factors are generally harmful, what does “mental disorder” or “mental illness” even mean, and what does “recovery” even mean. Given the way my own mind works, I find it helpful, when such conundrums appear, to try to take the issues all the way down to the most fundamental assumptions and experiences that give rise to them, and then try to reconstruct an understanding that is more conducive to meeting our needs. This discussion, then, is an attempt to do just that.

Antipsychotics and Brain Shrinkage: An Update

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.