Adverse Effects: The Perils of Deep Brain Stimulation for Depression

Hundreds of people have been given remote control deep brain stimulation implants for psychiatric disorders such as depression, OCD and Tourette’s. Yet DBS specialists still have no clue about its mechanisms of action and research suggests its hefty health and safety risks far outweigh benefits.

Harvard’s Madras Critiques University of Pittsburgh Marijuana Study

Bertha Madras, professor of psychobiology at Harvard Medical School, has printed a critique listing 20 flaws to a recent study finding no differences in physical or mental health problems between users and non-users of marijuana.

Upon Leaving Soteria-Alaska

Soteria-Alaska, a program modeled after the highly effective Soteria developed in the 1970s by the late Loren Mosher, M.D., opened its doors in 2009. It is also impossible to convey the actual simplicity which in fact is the crowning jewel of the Soteria approach. A conservative review of the effectiveness of the Soteria approach revealed that it is at least as effective as traditional hospital-based treatment — without the use of antipsychotic medication as the primary treatment. Considering that people treated in the conventional way die on average 25 years younger than the general population, this is a substantial finding.

How Young is Too Young? Part 1: Prescribing Psychiatric Drugs – Infancy to Toddlerhood

Do you remember feeling pressure as a child to do better at school, fit in socially, or behave more appropriately? Making the right decision was not always as easy as adults and cheerful children's books sometimes painted it. Today's expectations and demands placed on children for Disney-like perfection, however, are exponentially greater and strangely different. At an ever increasingly early age, we are expecting kids to behave years beyond their developmental ability and maturation.

Pilots Crashing on Antidepressants: A (Not So) Brief History

With the current focus on the possible contribution of psychoactive drugs to the crash of GermanWings flight A320 on Tuesday, March 24, it is useful to identify potential links between the effect of the antidepressants and the events.  In all 47 cases listed on SSRIstories, the pilots were taking antidepressant medications, mostly SSRIs, often in combination with other medications and sometimes with alcohol.

Winging it: Antidepressants and Plane Crashes

The crash last week of the Germanwings plane has shocked many. In view of the apparent mental health record of the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, questions have been asked about the screening policies of airlines. The focus has generally been on the conditions pilots may have or the arguments they might be having with partners or other situational factors that might make them unstable. Even when the issue of the medication a pilot may be taking is raised, it is in the context of policies that permit pilots to continue on drugs like antidepressants to ensure any underlying conditions are effectively treated. But fewer treatments in medicine are effective in this sense than people might think and even when effective they come with effects that need to be balanced against the likely effects of the underlying condition.

Towards a New Psychiatry: Say ‘No’ to the Fiction of Brain Diseases

During my lifetime I have witnessed the fall of Freudian psychiatry and the ascension of molecular psychiatry. Unfortunately, we have gone from the frying pan into the fire. I certainly do not subscribe to old-fashioned psychoanalytic ideas which had been beset by considerable problems throughout the years. Its practice suffered from dogmatic theories and miscast beliefs, which worked to the detriment of responsiveness to our patients. I love and value the work of psychiatry. Nothing is more gratifying than helping people heal from painful symptoms, and to fulfill their ability to love and recover their authenticity. I am proposing a new and different paradigm for psychiatry.

Creatively Managing Voice-Hearing Through Spiritual Writing

I am a psychiatric survivor of over thirty-six years. Since my nervous breakdown in 1978, I have undergone multitudinous experiences ranging from the subtly humiliating to the horrifically debilitating at the hands of incompetent psychiatrists and psychopharmacologists who, in the name of medicine, did more harm than good.

Publication Bias: Does Unpublished Data Make Science Pseudo?

Recently the problem of publication bias has been shaking the foundations of much of psychology and medicine. In the field of pharmacology, the problem is worse, because the majority of outcome trials (on which medication approval and physician information is based) are conducted by pharmaceutical firms that stand to benefit enormously from positive results, and run the risk of enormous financial loss from negative ones. Numerous studies have found that positive results tend to be published, while negative ones are quietly tucked under the rug.

A History of Anglo-American Psychiatry

It comes as something of a shock to realize that I have been researching and writing about the history of Anglo-American psychiatry for more than forty years now. It scarcely seems possible that more than three decades have passed since I first begun burrowing around in the archives of those Victorian museums of madness that in the early 1970s were still the all-too-concrete legacy of the enthusiasms of an earlier generation - those warehouses of the unwanted whose distinctive buildings for so long haunted the countryside and provided mute testimony to the emergence of segregative responses to the management of the mad.

Why Is There An Anti-psychiatry Movement?

On February 18, the eminent psychiatrist Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, former President of the APA, published a video and transcript on Medscape.  The article was titled What Does the New York Times Have Against Psychiatry?, and was essentially a fatuous diatribe against Tanya Lurhmann, PhD, a Stanford anthropologist, who had written for the New York Times an op-ed article that was mildly critical of psychiatry.  The essence of Dr. Lieberman's rebuttal was that an anthropologist had no business expressing any criticism of psychiatry, and he extended his denunciation to the editors of the NY Times.

The Death of Common Sense: When Love and Grief Become ‘Disordered’

There is some hullabaloo going on about "prolonged grief disorder," AKA "complicated grief disorder." Yep, another grief-related 'mental illness.'  According to an NEJM blog the "condition is characterized by intense grief that lasts longer than would be expected according to social norms and that causes impairment in daily functioning." I think certain groups are at risk of - again - being diagnosed and "treated" for absolutely normal feelings and experiences after an excruciatingly painful and traumatic loss.

Human Rights, Disclosing the Truth, and Psychiatric Diagnosis

When I turned on NPR recently and heard the tail-end of an interview with a psychiatrist and former American Psychiatric Association president about his new book — Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry — my first thought (will I ever learn?) was a hopeful one: "At last, someone high up in that power structure is telling the truth!" As I listened, though, I heard the author, Jeffery Lieberman, state that psychiatry is a medical discipline just like other medical disciplines, and I began to suspect that my first thought was wrong.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!

"I want to change the way we think about mental health care so that any child, whether they have a mental illness or simply need support through a difficult time, can get the right help at the right time." This was said by Care Minister Norman Lamb and quoted by the BBC on March 17th 2015. Mr. Lamb is known to have a son who has suffered mental health difficulties and it may well have come from the heart as much as it did from the election fever which is beginning to infect British politicians. However it says something worth picking up upon. I want to change the way we think about mental health care… and … simply need support through a difficult time. These are important shifts of language, and doubly important when they come from a government health minister.

Shrinks: A Self-Portrait of a Profession

After finishing Jeffrey Lieberman’s new book, Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry, I was tempted to put it aside and not write anything, even though I had purchased the book with the intention of doing so. The reason was that I found it impossible to take the book seriously, and actually, I don’t think it is meant to be a serious book. But eventually it dawned on me: The revelatory aspect of Shrinks is that it serves as an institutional self-portrait. What you hear in this book is the story that the APA and its leaders have been telling to themselves for some time.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Does Not Exist

Since the 1980s, a type of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has become dominant. Like it or loathe it, CBT is now so ubiquitous it is often the only talking therapy available in both public and voluntary health settings. It is increasingly spoken about in the media and in living rooms across the country. Yet when we speak about CBT, what are we talking of? For CBT only exists - as we will see - as a political convenience.

No, There is no Such Thing as ADHD

Somewhere along the line we have lost the understanding that kids come in all shapes and sizes. Some kids are active, some are quiet; some kids are dreamers, others are daring; some kids are dramatic, others are observers; some impulsive, others reserved; some leaders, others followers; some athletic, others thinkers. Where did we ever get the notion that kids should all be one way?

Article on “Rethinking Criminal Responsibility”

My law review article entitled "Rethinking criminal responsibility from a critical disability perspective: The abolition of insanity/incapacity acquittals and unfitness to plead, and beyond" has been published in Griffith Law Review. The article attempts to find a way to deal with concerns for a degree of toleration towards socially disruptive behavior that may be criminalized, without making some people categorically and legally irresponsible as happens with the insanity defense.

The Drugging of Children in Foster Care

It's no secret that here in America, foster children are being prescribed psychiatric drugs, especially neuroleptics, as a means of controlling their behavior. A great deal has been said and written on the matter. Politicians have declared the practice deplorable. Children's advocacy groups have expressed concern, and, of course, those of us in the antipsychiatry movement have screamed till we're hoarse. But the problem persists.

Cracked Open – Installment 2

This is the second of a series of excerpts from Cracked Open, a book whose unintentional beginning came after I became physically dependent on Ativan in 2010. After a year of following my doctor’s orders for daily use to treat insomnia, my body and mind began to fall apart. I’m serializing the book here – before sending it out into the world – because MIA became a lighthouse for me. I want this community’s feedback because I want to help make a difference. I want my words and message to be clear and strong.

Do the Math

Being a woman of a certain age, I dutifully went in for a “routine” colonoscopy a few weeks ago. My doctor came to see me before the procedure. She spent about 5 minutes reviewing the procedure and asked me to sign the consent form. I was in the procedure room for about 10 minutes and then we were done. A few days ago, I got the bill. It got me to wondering about the reimbursement for the work I do.

Retreat From the Social: a Review of Hegel’s Theory of Madness

I read some Hegel in a reading group a few years ago and was bowled over by it. So I was excited to find a book that analyses Hegel’s ideas about the nature of madness, and wanted to review it even though it was written 20 years ago. Hegel may not have been the first to have made this point, but for me his writing brings home, more clearly than any other thinker, the intrinsically social nature of human thought and existence.

Causing a Stir: Launching “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia” in New York City

Those of you who read the New York Times may have seen its coverage of the British Psychological Society’s recent report, ‘Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality, and what can help.’ The report has been widely welcomed and many have seen it as a marker of how our understanding of these experiences is changing. The report has not been without its critics. We (Editor Anne Cooke and co-author Peter Kinderman) are coming to New York this month to launch the report in America.

A Disease Called Childhood

When I started my practice as a child therapist in 1988, I had barely heard of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. The diagnosis had arrived on the scene a year earlier, in the revised third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders (DSM-III-R). Despite its codification in the DSM, at the time ADHD was not widely discussed among child therapists, let alone parents, teachers and pediatricians. Until the middle of the 1990’s, not one mother or father asked me if their child had ADD or ADHD. By 2012, things had radically changed.

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.