Thursday, July 9, 2020

Muzzled by Psychiatry in a Time of Crisis

The American Psychiatric Association and its former president, Jeffrey Lieberman, have used the Goldwater Rule to try to silence Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee and colleagues who warned, in a collection of essays, about why President Trump is "dangerous." Why would a guild choose to do this?

From Compliance to Activism: A Mother’s Journey

Through years of turmoil and confusion, Cindi Fisher’s enduring love for her involuntarily committed son gradually changed her from compliant mom to mental health civil rights activist. That’s when authorities banned her from even contacting her son. But could she be a bellwether of a coming nation-wide wave of protestors?

Suicide in the Age of Prozac

During the past twenty years, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and American psychiatry have adopted a "medicalized" approach to preventing suicide, claiming that antidepressants are protective against suicide. Yet, the suicide rate in the United States has increased 30% since 2000, a time of rising usage of antidepressants. A review of studies of the effects of mental health treatment and antidepressants on suicide reveals why this medicalized approach has not only failed, but pushed suicide rates higher.
A woman holding a sign that says LA Jails are the Largest Mental Health Institution in the Country."

Bedlam: Public Media, Power, and the Fight for Narrative Justice

A new mental health documentary awakens longstanding tensions around voice, representation, and the power to define problems and solutions.

Lancet Psychiatry Needs to Retract the ADHD-Enigma Study

Lancet Psychiatry, a UK-based medical journal, recently published a study that concluded brain scans showed that individuals diagnosed with ADHD had smaller brains. That conclusion is belied by the study data. The journal needs to retract this study. UPDATE: Lancet Psychiatry (online) has published letters critical of the study, and the authors' response, and a correction.

MIA Survey: Ex-patients Tell of Force, Trauma and Sexual Abuse in America’s Mental Hospitals

In a MIA survey of people who had been patients in mental hospitals, nearly 500 respondents told of an experience that was often traumatic, and frequently characterized by a violation of their legal rights, forced treatment with drugs, and physical or sexual abuse. Only 17% said they were “satisfied” with the “quality of the psychiatric treatment” they received.

Mad Pride Rises in Mexico

The Mad Pride movement continues to spread around the world, with a first-ever march in Mexico City.
AOT

Andrew Rich: “I Didn’t Know Stuff Like This Existed”

In this second part of MIA’s report on compulsory outpatient treatment orders, Michael Simonson tells of how he came to report on this topic, the results from MIA’s survey of people who have experienced such forced treatment, his interviews with several of the survey respondents, and more on Andrew Rich’s life.

The Algorithmic Managing of ‘At-risk’ Children

Part two of a Mad In America investigation into the expansion of psychological screening and electronic surveillance of children and youth. Experts point to mounting evidence that scientifically dubious mental health screening programs are just one part of an international governance shift towards creating all-pervasive surveillance systems for diagnosing 'pre-crime' and managing 'at-risk' children and youth. And not only is this not helping kids, critics argue, it’s demonstrably harming them.

Twenty Years After Kendra’s Law: The Case Against AOT

The proponents of compulsory outpatient treatment claim that it leads to better outcomes for the recipients, and protects society from violent acts by the "seriously mentally ill." Those claims are belied by history, science, and a critical review of the relevant research.

Mutual Support in an Age of Social Distancing

Connection, whether one-on-one or in groups, is at the heart of peer support. In a time when social distancing and stay-at-home orders proliferate, the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community/Wildflower Alliance (WMRLC) is finding creative ways to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances dictated by the novel coronavirus.
Hospital entrance with no visitors sign.

Life Inside America’s Psychiatric Facilities During the Pandemic: Eyewitness Accounts

Insiders paint a picture of chaos and fear in public and private psychiatric hospitals across the country. "Now that she has been discharged, Sevigny is getting the truth out, just as the nurse asked her to do. She also plans to continue to organizing in her state, with and on behalf of those who continue to be subjected to dangerous conditions in the name of care."

“Not Fragile”: Survivor-Led Mutual Aid Projects Flourish in a Time of Crisis

During the current pandemic, the practice of mutual aid—defined broadly as the ways that people join together to meet one another’s needs for survival and relationship—has become mainstream. Yet, often missing from major media coverage of mutual aid is any acknowledgment of its roots in movements led by marginalized people, including Black and Brown people, disabled people, mad people, and psychiatric survivors.
adverse childhood experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences: When Will the Lessons of the ACE Study Inform Societal Care?

The ACE study tells of how adverse childhood experiences increase the risk of psychological and physical problems in adulthood. When will we start incorporating these findings into public health policy and medical care?

DRC Will Challenge California’s Outpatient Committal Laws in Court

Disability Rights California will challenge Los Angeles’ Assisted Outpatient Treatment program in court this fall, DRC attorney Pamela Cohen announced Friday. According to Cohen, California’s AB-1241 or “Laura’s Law” diverts funding from community mental health services and towards police, administrators and courts, doesn’t reach the people it purports to be trying to help, and violates people’s civil rights. “This is an illegal program,” said Cohen.
cartoon drawing of many eyes on red background

Mental Health Apps: AI Surveillance Enters Our World

While the developers are promoting the apps as a public health initiative, they are effectively an AI that would be snooping on you at all times—ostensibly coming to know you better than you know yourself. And ultimately doing so for commercial purposes that will expand the psychiatric enterprise.
digital antipsychotic

The Rise of the Digital Asylum

The digital pill Abilify MyCite, which is now being introduced into the market, foretells of a future where such technology is used to monitor the behavior, location and "medication compliance" of a person 24 hours a day.

The Proactive Search for Mental Illnesses in Children

Part one of a two-part Mad In America investigation into the expansion of psychological screening and electronic surveillance of children and youth. A new government-funded mental health training program for British Columbia family physicians and school staff promotes screening for mental disorders in all children and youth. Critics say the program omits key scientific evidence, seems more like drug promotion than medical education, and downplays serious potential harms. Nevertheless, programs like it are rolling out across Canada and the US.
veteran suicides

Screening + Drug Treatment = Increase in Veteran Suicides

For the past 15 years, the VA's suicide prevention efforts have focused on getting veterans screened and treated for psychiatric disorders, with antidepressants a first-line therapy. This effort has caused veteran suicide rates to steadily rise.

Exploring Psychiatry’s “Black Hole”: The International Institute on Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

When Carina Håkansson sent out an invitation for a symposium on "Pharmaceuticals: Risks and Alternatives," some of the world's top scientists, along with experts-by-experience, came from 13 countries to explore better ways to respond to people in crisis.
veterans do shakespeare

Veterans Find A Path to Healing Through Shakespeare

Veterans struggling with a diagnosis of PTSD, or depression and other difficulties find that learning to perform Shakespearean monologues, and developing their own dramatic monologues, can help them "unwire" from the traumas of war.

William Styron: His Struggles with Psychiatry and Its Pills

Author William Styron is often remembered for speaking about depression as an illness. But a review of his life reveals that psychiatric drugs may have triggered and even worsened his depressive episodes.

Where Critical Psychiatry Meets Community Resilience

The International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry had the clout to draw a stellar line-up of presenters to its recent conference, including internationally prominent critics like David Healy, Peter Gøtzsche, Robert Whitaker and Allen Frances. There were lots of learnings and even some tense discussions, but one of the most intriguing aspects of the entire conference was the way in which scientific and social issues became deeply intertwined, especially when presenters reached for better pathways forward.

Prescribing an Epidemic: A Veteran’s Story

Had I known what I know now, I never would have taken any of these drugs, and I absolutely would not have taken a role in which my outreach efforts to get veterans into mental health treatment might place thousands of lives at risk.

Love is Dialogical: The Open Dialogue UK International Conference and Training

In the past five years, there has been a dramatic explosion of interest in the Open Dialogue Therapy practiced in Tornio, Finland. It is a humanistic “treatment” that has produced five-year outcomes for psychotic patients that are, by far, the best in the developed world, and there are now groups in the United States, Europe and beyond that are seeking to “import” this care. However, the challenges for doing so are many and, last month, Open Dialogue UK - on the occasion of the first-ever fully recognized Open Dialogue training outside of Tornio - organized a conference in London to hold an open dialogue about Open Dialogue.

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