How to Spread the News, Part 2

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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.

From Psychiatric Coercion to Libertarianism: A Personal Journey

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My name is Tristano Ajmone. I’m Italian and 42 years old. I consider myself a “psychiatric survivor” — a term by which I don’t merely mean that I’ve been through the psychiatric system and got out of it; I really mean that I’ve survived a psychiatric journey in which some of my comrades weren’t as fortunate as me, and they simply died along the way.

DSM-5 Statement by the Critical Psychiatry Network

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The Critical Psychiatry Network is concerned with the way the controversy over the publication of DSM-5 is being portrayed in the media and by some academic psychiatrists. The issues raised by the DSM are complex and require careful and studied consideration. There are two aspects in particular that concern us. These relate to the portrayal of the controversy as a guild dispute, and the polarisation of the debate as one of nurture versus nature.

The Persecution of Heretics

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Open Letter Re: This Morning‘s Feature on Depression

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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.

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?

Sweeping Benzos Under the Carpet

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Being an ex-accountant I am always interested in figures (not to mention that prescribed benzodiazepine drug addiction has played such a major part in my life). According to a yearly booklet released by the Home Office in the UK, benzodiazepine drugs accounted for more deaths than ALL the so-called hard drugs put together.

Are Supplements Simply Creating Expensive Urine?

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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.

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.

The House of GSK

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In recent months the English pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has assiduously portrayed itself as an advocate of transparency, and in support of access to clinical trial data. Well, in support of "Responsible Access." "Responsible" here essentially means that a researcher commits to the primacy of RCTs and statistical significance over an analysis of adverse events. It would not, for example, be responsible to claim that an SSRI causes suicide, a statin muscle damage or cognitive failure, or hypoglycemics cause hypoglycemia unless a trial has shown this to happen to a Statistically Significant extent – and they never do.

Not So Bad Pharma

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The invitation from the London Review of Books to review Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma™ reads: “We were unsure, at first, what a review could add that isn’t already in the book – scrappy summaries and bits of praise are not for us. The book is of sufficient importance that the main thing is to get someone who knows what they’re talking about to present the material confidently... frame the discussion”. My head said it was inconceivable that the LRB wouldn’t take a review, even if it was at odds with the invitation to praise Bad Pharma. But my gut told me the inconceivable was about to take flesh.

Study 329: Transparency in Limbo at the British Medical Journal

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While making money from the publication of pharmaceutical company trials, and in the face of a complete failure by industry to adhere to basic scientific norms and make data available, BMJ and other journals — although BMJ in particular — have run a series of articles on supposed Academic Fraud. These articles feature instances of fraud sometimes as bizarre as researcher claiming he cannot show the data as it was eaten by termites. The universal feature is that these are academic studies, and academic fraud is an issue in academia.

How Can We Spread the News?

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Ever since I read Mad in America and later Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker, I have been wondering how to spread this knowledge to the masses and how to do this in a way that will make a difference to as many people as possible.

Living Mindfully with Voices

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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.

Doctor Munchausen and Sense about Science

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In June this year the BMJ published an article supposedly about how the Black Box Warning that antidepressants cause suicide had led to a drop in the use of the same antidepressants and an increase in suicides. The message was widely trumpeted in daily newspapers and other news outlets as well as the press office of Harvard University and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In fact there had been no drop in the use of antidepressants and no increase in suicide rates or suicide act rates. The letters sent to the BMJ in response to the article wondering how such a shoddy piece of work could possibly have been published are worth reading – rarely is academic contempt so scathing.

How I’ve Found Nonviolent Communication Helpful

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I want to tell you about a magical tool I use particularly for navigating challenging situations. It's called Non violent communication (NVC). It's a way of understanding and communicating that I've found particularly useful in situations of conflict. I've hyped it up in the first sentence as a magical tool but like all useful things, it's got its limitations too. I guess the key is how and when to use it. So what am I talking about?

Are Vitamins Killing us Softly?

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.

It’s Not Easy Being “Clean”

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I think I have underestimated just how hard it can be for people to approach mental health problems from a psychological and social perspective. The longer I work with people who are experiencing severe psychological distress, the more they teach me about the difficulties involved in breaking away from an “illness” mindset. Medications, by and large, are still the mainstay of helping people with psychological troubles despite an increasingly widespread acceptance that psychological problems are not medical problems. Mental illness is an “illness” only in the same way that love-sickness is an illness.

The Antidepressant Era: the Movie

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"The Antidepressant Era" was written in 1995, and first published in 1997. A paperback came out in 1999. It was close to universally welcomed. It was favorably received by reviewers from the pharmaceutical industry, perhaps because it made clear that this branch of medical history had not been shaped by great men or great institutions but that other players, company people, had been at least as important.

RxISK Stories: Withdrawal from antidepressants – V’s story

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I quit taking Prozac using a step-down method. Started in Sept. 2011 and finally off in January 2012. I experienced severe loss of balance early on, which progressed into full-blown ataxia & parasthesia. Have had extensive blood-testing & MRIs of brain & cervical spine, all negative! I have to believe this is a result of coming off Prozac, although most sites say the withdrawal side effects don't last this long.

Persecution: Dangerous Liaisons

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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.

Winning Friends and Influencing People

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Some readers of Mad in America may be aware that Scientific American published a short blog by me on 17th November 2014 - Why We Need to Abandon the Disease-Model of Mental Health Care. This blog was rather wonderfully (and slightly embarrassingly) described by Phil Hickey on his website, Behaviorism and Mental Health, as “an important milestone.” My blog attempts to summarise many of the key points of a perspective widely shared on Mad in America: