Academia has long been the official search engine for knowledge. Here supposedly are the ivory towers where seekers after truth, men and women intellectuals, teach new generations and carry out learned research, to add to the sum of human wisdom. It also has a longstanding history of questionable relationships; from those with the arms trade, to continuing over-reliance on big pharma psychiatric research funding.
Instead of hope and enthusiasm for their futures, too many children now grow up believing they are inherently defective, and controlled by bad genes and biochemical imbalances. They are shackled by the idea that they have ADHD and then subdued by the drugs that inevitably go along with the diagnosis. Unless something intervenes, many of them will go on to pass their days on Earth in a drug-impaired, demoralized state.
Mad in America has featured an article about inflammation and the immune response in the Lancet. It’s great that these things are being studied, but as usual it’s done from a dangerously reductionistic perspective. We must broaden our lenses if we hope to profoundly help people. Again, my favorite meme: everything matters.
There are no set rules for grief. It takes however long it takes, sometimes years, sometimes more. Grieving operates on its own time. The very idea that the DSM-5 gives a two-week grace period before diagnosing a ‘biological depression’ is obscene on the face of it, never mind the handing out of Prozac. Other psychiatrists would like to push the window all the way to three or even four weeks. How compassionate. There is no place for antidepressants, ever
Those of us who are concerned about the state of the behavioral health service system would agree that voluntary, cost-effective services and supports that preclude the need for coerced or institutional treatment should be widely available. Peer respites may be one component of such a system.
As I have various discussions about mental health and disability on the internet, I am disturbed at how many people continue to use the terms “high functioning” and “low functioning” when referring to people with psychiatric or other disabilities. I have heard people refer to their family members as “low functioning.” I have seen these terms used by advocates to bully and discredit other advocates who critique calls for increased levels of involuntary treatment as “high functioning” individuals who don’t know what they’re talking about.
In 2010, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica published a study by Göran Isacsson et al. The paper was titled Antidepressant medication prevents suicide in depression. It's a complicated article, with some tenuous logic, but, in any event, it's all moot, because the article was retracted by the authors and by Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica about sixteen months after publication. The retraction had been requested by the authors because of "… unintentional errors in the analysis of the data …"
That damn dress. It’s everywhere. And, just as much as anyone, I’ve gotten sucked into staring at the computer screen for way too long from all dress different angles, and relentlessly reading all the articles that have popped up to explain the phenomenon involved. Essentially: having a word for something plays a substantial role in allowing one to see what that word represents. What do you see because of the words that you know? What are you missing?
The FDA recently approved lisdexamfetamine (LDF) for the treatment of the newly minted DSM-5 diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder. This caused me some consternation and this blog will be as much about my reaction to this news as to the news itself.
Just this week, a report written by a task force advising on new dietary guidelines commissioned by the US departments of Health and Human Service and Agriculture recognized the importance of nutrition in mental health outcomes for the first time. Is the public ready to accept the importance of nutrition for mental health?
It isn’t easy coming to a point in your career where you begin to question widely held beliefs about the nature of mental illness, and how it should be treated. Indeed it becomes starkly obvious that, no matter what you think and believe, even know in your heart to be true, the world runs along different lines. Sometimes I can be full of hope for change, but frequently it angers and frustrates; often I am rendered melancholic by the mountain that lies ahead. Let me explain.
This is the first of a series of excerpts from Cracked Open, a book whose unintentional beginning came after I became addicted to Ativan in 2010. After a year of following my doctor’s orders for daily use to treat insomnia, my body began to fall apart. My story is much like the stories I’ve read on MIA.
I've previously written about the possible role of compassion focused therapy in helping people relate better to problematic voices, in my posts Could compassionate self talk replace hostile voices?, Feed Your Demons!, and A Paradox: Is Our System for Responding to Threats Itself a Threat? I'm happy to see more interest being taken in this kind of approach, and a video has just become available which, in 5 minutes, very coherently explains how a compassion focused approach can completely transform a person's relationship with their voices and so transform the person's life!
This is Part 1 of a blog addressing key issues raised by Timothy Kelly in his recent critique of Robert Whitaker’s writings, and his call for a new direction in the struggle against psychiatric abuse. Kelly’s blog concentrates (when carefully examined) on two very distinct viewpoints on the current situation and the road forward, and it warrants much deeper critical scrutiny and debate.
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?
It's important that the potential for connection between high sensitivity, trauma and psychiatric diagnosis be explored. Even if it could be proven that I were born more sensitive, I have no idea how the way in which I interact with my everyday world may or may not be interrelated to the shape of my reactions to trauma overall (the same reactions that have, for me, led to psychiatric diagnosis).
It struck me that I ought to interview “experts in the critical psychology field.” I reached out and did just that. There was general agreement that most people held the following ten erroneous assumptions about “the state of mental health services.”
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.
When a pharmaceutical company discovers a potential new drug, they undertake a mammoth project. The aim is to amass sufficient evidence that national organizations such as the FDA will approve sale of the drug, and the type of disorders for which it can be openly prescribed – the so-called “on-label” uses. In order to encourage companies to undertake this risk, governments place a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
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.
For nearly two decades, Big Pharma commercials have falsely told Americans that mental illness is associated with a chemical brain imbalance, but buried SAMHSA survey results tell us that depression and suicidality are associated with poverty, unemployment, and mass incarceration. And these results also point us to the reality that American society has now become so especially oppressive for young people that an embarrassingly large number of American teenagers and young adults are depressed and suicidal.
I have had doubts about the current medication oriented approach to psychiatry for some time. I clearly see that medications can help some folks ease their burden and support a process of recovery. Sadly, far too often medications create problems and even limit recovery. Perhaps the greatest drawback of psychiatric medications is that we lose sight that we have to do more: more assessment, more treatment, more education, more encouragement. Medication currently forms the central and pivotal focus of psychiatric hospitalization in this country. This needs to change.
Back in 2006, when my son Franklin was in his late twenties and living in a group home in the Boston area, he refused to take Clozaril any more because of the required bi-weekly blood draws. His doctor prescribed Zyprexa as a substitute, and Frank suddenly began to gain weight ... a lot of weight. Later, I would learn that UCLA psychiatrist Dr. William Wirshing had said of Zyprexa prior to its 1996 approval by the FDA: “It is just un-stinkin’-believable. It is the best drug for gaining weight I’ve ever seen.” The doctor indicated that taking ten milligrams of the medication was equivalent to ingesting 1,500 extra calories per day. My outrage knew no bounds.
A recent JAMA opinion piece calling for a return to asylums – not the bad kind, the authors insist, but a “safe, modern and humane” kind of asylum – led to a radio debate. Joseph Rogers, executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, talked about his experience in a state hospital: “When I hear the term ‘asylum’ I get my back up because there was no asylum. These places ... are not safe places ... You were warehoused.”
In my last post, I described how attempts of Western social science to quantify human internal experience became oppressive. It was the quantification of feeblemindedness by early applied psychologists that solidified the field as a profitable profession. You may have thought of this effort as ‘the measurement of intelligence,’ but the goal was always to isolate and keep people presumed to be inferior from reproducing.