Teenagers on SSRIs

Last week, the Wall Street Journal has an article titled The Medication Generation by Katherine Sharpe which questioned the fact that a large number of teenagers are...

Psychiatry and the Problem of the Medical Model – Part 1

The mental health industry has a lot to answer. The psychologization of everyday life has eroded the range of human experience seen as normal, disempowered people to manage their own life challenges, professionalized helping relationships and undermined the already decaying support structures through which people found meaning and connection, stigmatized people through psychiatric labeling, led to iatrogenic misery from harmful treatments and traumatized already vulnerable individuals through excessively coercive practices.

A New Paradigm for Psychiatry

Here’s a newsflash – the hope for a molecular-biochemical explanation for psychiatry is a false hope. Most of my field has come to expect and believe that we are on the verge of a new paradigm. This paradigm is based on the illusion that the workings of the brain on the molecular level has anything to do with psychiatric conditions. The proponents believe we are on the verge of proving that psychiatry is a brain disease no different from cancer or diabetes. But all that the research has come up with is - nothing.

May the ‘Force’ NEVER EVER Be With You! The Case for Abolition

A growing body of evidence indicates that forced “treatment” in today’s mental health system, including all forms of forced hospitalization and forced drugging, may actually cause FAR more harm than good. Recent published studies and articles point towards evidence of physical and psychological harm that, in some cases, may contribute to more suicidality and patient deaths, as well as overall worse outcomes in a person’s state of recovery.

Take the ADHD “Test”: An Inside Look at ADHD’s Diagnosis

Just so we are clear, on page 61 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the "creators" of the diagnosis for ADHD admit there is no test sensitive or specific enough to actually diagnose ADHD. Given that the Drug Company-funded "experts" in charge of writing the ADHD diagnosis for the APA admit there is no test capable of diagnosing ADHD, nor are there any biological markers or brain scans capable of serving as a diagnostic, how can they diagnose 6.5 million kids with ADHD?

Neuroleptics and Tardive Dyskinesia in Children

There's an interesting February 11, 2014, article on Peter Breggin's website: $1.5 Million Award in Child Tardive Dyskinesia Malpractice. Apparently the individual in Dr. Breggin's paper was diagnosed with autism as a child and was prescribed SSRI's before the age of seven. The SSRI's caused some deterioration in the child's behavior and mental condition, to combat which his first psychiatrist prescribed Risperdal (risperidone). Subsequently a second psychiatrist added Zyprexa (olanzapine) to the cocktail. Both Risperdal and Zyprexa are neuroleptics (euphemistically known in psychiatric circles as antipsychotics), and are known to cause tardive dyskinesia.

Why an Assassinated Psychologist — Ignored by U.S. Psychologists — Is Being Honored

On November 16, 1989 in El Salvador, liberation psychologist Ignacio Martin-Baró was murdered by a Salvadoran government’s “counter-insurgency unit” created at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas. This year, 25 years after his assassination, peace and justice activists around the world will honor Martin-Baró. Embarrassingly, the vast majority of U.S. psychologists and psychiatrists know nothing about Martin-Baró and liberation psychology. Why would mainstream mental health institutions keep U.S. psychologists and psychiatrists and the general public ignorant of the life and work of Martin-Baró?

Psychiatry: Still Trying To Rewrite History

Psychiatry clings to the broken brain theory, because without it, there is no justification for the employment of medical techniques in this area. Without the broken brain theory, psychiatrists are unnecessary, and even counterproductive. In their hearts, all psychiatrists know this, which is why they never address the fundamental question: why should all significant problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving be considered illnesses?

Studies of Reared-Apart (Separated) Twins: Facts and Fallacies

Twin studies supply the most frequently cited evidence in favor of important genetic influences on human behavioral differences. In an extremely small yet influential handful of studies, twin pairs were said to have been reared apart in different families. Twin researchers and others view this occurrence as the ultimate test of the relative influences of nature (genes) and nurture (environment). According to this view all behavioral resemblance between reared-apart MZ twin pairs (known as “MZA” pairs) must be the result of their 100% genetic similarity, because such pairs share no environmental similarity. But, far from being separated at birth and reared apart in randomly selected homes representing the full range of potential behavior-influencing environments, and meeting each other for the first time when studied, most MZA pairs were only partially reared apart, and grew up in similar cultural and socioeconomic environments at the same time.

War on Civilization: What Would Happen if Patients Radicalize?

In Paris today we have a lot of people mouthing words that come easily: "Je Suis Charlie." For anyone who wants to be Charlie, who wants to get to know what modern politics is all about, by feeling it in your marrow, try reporting an adverse event on treatment to your doctor. Outside your doctor’s surgery/clinic/ consultation room you can believe you are operating in a democracy. Inside the room you may be treated with courtesy and apparent friendliness but you are being treated in an arrangement set in place to police addicts. This is not a domain in which ideals of Liberty, Equality or Fraternity are welcome.

Addiction, Biological Psychiatry and the Disease Model (Part 1)

Both addiction and “mental illness” are far more prevalent where there is poverty, patriarchy, and other forms of mental and physical violence; all this creates fertile ground for various forms of trauma experiences on a daily basis. Addiction and extreme states of psychological distress will never be fully eradicated, or even humanely treated on a broad scale, until the material conditions from which they have emerged are transformed in a truly revolutionary way.

Inpatient Hospitalization: An Inside Perspective

When someone is in severe crisis due to feeling emotionally overwhelmed, one of the main access points for care is an inpatient hospital setting.  Though many disparage the hospital setting, there are few alternatives to this setting during an acute mental and emotional crisis. At the same time, there are a number of barriers to individuals getting optimal care. I will try to examine some of these barriers and some of the main critiques of hospitalization. In a perfect world, those experiencing severe emotional crisis would be able to find true sanctuary; a place for rest and healing. With enough time, nourishment and self-care, people experiencing severe emotional distress can and do get better.

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.

MIA Continuing Education: Help Us Get The Word Out

With great regularity, I receive emails from people—“patients,” family members, and mental health workers—who are frustrated by this fact: the psychiatrists they meet, and the larger psychiatric community, are simply not aware of research that questions the merits of psychiatric medications. Many providers, for instance, do not know of Martin Harrow’s long-term study of schizophrenia outcomes. We at Mad in America started Mad in America Continuing Education to produce online courses that will fill in this knowledge gap. And now that we have our first courses up, we need your help.

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.

Science and Pseudoscience in Psychiatric Training: What Psychiatrists Don’t Learn and What Psychiatrists Should...

Evidence based care is supposed to drive up standards, ensure uniformity, establish best practice, guide clinicians and protect patients. This should be celebrated. Instead, evidence-based mental health is openly disparaged, and when psychiatrists don’t get the results they want, they ignore them, suppress them, or denounce them. These attitudes have repercussions on the training of psychiatrists.

The Media Missed the Story: Civil Rights and the Helping Families in Mental Health...

There’s a fierce debate brewing on Capitol Hill over two competing bills that seek to overhaul our nation’s mental health system. Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), a survivor of Jared Loughner’s 2011 mass shooting, has proposed the Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014, a bill that would provide additional funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). Barber’s legislation specifically targets at-risk populations who may be underserved − young people, seniors, veterans, and Native American communities − and seeks to provide patient-driven treatment before the illness becomes unmanageable.

Grieving the Loss of A Child to Suicide

Today is the fourth anniversary of the suicide of my only child. Supporting someone dealing with the grief of losing a child to suicide can be challenging. For all those who have been hurt by well-intentioned comments or interventions, I want to offer the following suggestions to friends, family and helping professionals.

Bring Back the Asylum?

This week a commentary, written by members of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy and titled “Improving Long-term Psychiatric Care: Bring Back the Asylum” was published in JAMA Online. The authors recommend a return to asylum care, albeit not as a replacement for but as an addition to improved community services and only for those who have “severe and treatment-resistant psychotic disorders, who are too unstable or unsafe for community based treatment.” The authors seem to accept the notion of transinstitutionalization (TI) which suggests that people who in another generation would have lived in state hospitals are now incarcerated in jails and prisons. While I do not agree, I do find there is a need for a safe place for people to stay while they work through their crisis.

Letter to the Mother of a “Schizophrenic”: We Must Do Better Than Forced Treatment...

Again and again I am told the ‘severely mentally ill’ are impaired and incapable, not quite human. I am told the “high utilizers” and “frequent flyers” burden services because they are different than the rest of us. And when I finally do meet the people carrying that terrible, stigmatizing label of schizophrenia, what do I find? I find – a human being. A human who responds to the same listening and curiosity that I, or anyone, responds to. I find a human who is above all terrified, absolutely terrified, by some horrible trauma we may not see or understand.

Shamans and Psychiatrists: A Comparison

The Scottish Anthropologist Ioan Lewis, wrote the book Ecstatic Religion in 1971, in which he suggested a ‘shaman is not less than a psychiatrist, he is more.’   He claimed psychiatry was just one of the functions of the shaman, and he invited comparison between shamans and psychiatrists.  Some diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia appeared rather similar to the desired conditions of shamans in an altered state of consciousness.  Other terms used (and misused) for therapeutic practitioners included: native or traditional healer, medicine man, witch doctor, soul doctor, sorcerer, magician, spirit medium, exorcist, curer, diviner and diagnostician.

The End of Psychiatry

People are very confused about what psychiatry is. Psychiatry is a bit confused. Collapsing psychiatry into neurology would be clearer. If you want an evaluation to understand possible medical causes of your problem go to the nerve doctor. If you want to know if there is a pill for you, go to the nerve doctor. If you want to understand your experience as a human and the nature of your suffering, leave medicine out of it.

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.

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.

From Surviving to Thriving: Unleashing Creativity

There were days that I’d wake up and all I could do was cry for no particular reason, just another miserable day of withdrawal. However, the idea of taking photos would get me out of the house. Especially on those days, the absolutely only thing that would get me to move at all was the idea of taking photos. One particular day, I was just crying, crying, crying, and as soon as I got to a beautiful spot that I loved, I stopped crying, took photos, and felt at peace. I even found that the days I felt the worst were the days I took the best photos.