Monday, November 20, 2017

Comments by Bean

Showing 21 of 21 comments.

  • Absolutely. We need to understand that psychiatry is a fundamentally reactionary profession that blames people’s brains and genes for the harm they suffer under our social system. Call it ‘capitalism’, ‘The West’, ‘modernity’, whatever you like, but our society is deeply oppressive and we are compelled to expand our criticism of psychiatry to the broader world and its various systems of profit and control.

    Antipsychiatry must be political.

  • Hmm. I’m glad to see MiA criticizing alternative medicine here — we should debunk all bad medicine, because too often I think we’re seen as pseudoscientific cranks — but I think this article lumps together two very different problems and overstates the influence of homeopathy in the U.S..

    According to Bloomberg, “About 3.3 million Americans spent $2.9 billion on homeopathic treatments in 2007, according to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), though private industry research suggests a smaller market.” That’s not nothing, but it’s maybe one percent of the population spending less than a third of the yearly sales of Abilify. Or the dangerous teething gel they use as an example: only 370 children over ten years. Meanwhile, how big are the sales of prescription drugs? Hundreds of billions a year. How many people do they harm? It’s hard to say, but over one percent of Americans take an ‘antipsychotic’, those weight-gaining-brain-damaging devil’s pills. And prescription opioids have killed enough people in the last few decades to populate a modest-sized city. Is it any surprise people don’t trust pharma and turn to quackery?

    So I think homeopathy is nonsense, but as far as the scale of the problem is concerned, it’s important to not let (valid) criticisms of alternative medicine be used to defend the bigger villains within mainstream pharma.

    Meanwhile, the other story is that traditional Chinese medicine is huge — $114 billion and nearly 29% of the Chinese pharma industry. That’s terrible. China has a big problem, but I really don’t think alternative medicine in the U.S. and TCM are comparable issues.

  • Dr. Nardo was one of a very small number of psychiatrists I respect. I suspect we may have had very different views on coercion and the possibility for reform of the profession, but I truly admired his dogged commitment to exposing corruption and bad science in clinical trials. His writing consistently reflected a human approach to distress that’s been largely forgotten in psychiatry since its biomedical turn.

    He will be missed.

  • I’ve been suspicious of that site for a while. Back in October 2015, The Mighty was promoting the #MedicatedAndMighty hashtag, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the higher-ups were planning to sell out to pharma from the beginning. After all, The Mighty is a private company beholden to its investors, and pharma is where you go if you want to chase the big money.

    Good for you to leave, and best of luck.

  • Thank you. Stories like yours are part of why I don’t think reform of psychiatry is possible — despite the many thoughtful professionals who write here on “our side”, I don’t believe the profession will ever voluntarily give up its harmful and stigmatizing authority.

    The only real answer is anti-psychiatry. Burn the profession to the ground and replace it with non-stigmatizing, non-labeling, non-hierarchical forms of peer support and caring. May we see a day when being a psychiatrist is more shameful than any label.

  • Thinking more on this, I suspect the belief that most of the kids who are being drugged have behavior problems may be an exaggeration. No doubt some do, but I didn’t — I was just lonely and anxious. My abusive psychologist (not a psychiatrist!) slapped a bogus label of ‘aspergers’ on me, then decided, “Hey, antipsychotics are used for autism. Let’s give him somma doze.”

    And so on her recommendation, the psychiatrist rubber-stamped a script for a neuroleptic, and I spent the next three years of high school as a zombie.

    Frankly, I think we’re underestimating how much drugging happens with only the barest of justifications to kids with no behavior problems at all. We know how J&J falsely marketed Risperdal to children, (resulting in over a billion dollar fine) and now we’ve got a fair number of shrinks who think it’s reasonable to prescribe these drugs willy-nilly as if they’re harmless as vitamins.

  • I was given neuroleptics as a kid. It is straight up child abuse. I wish they’d just hit me instead, because then the abuse would’ve been obvious.

    It’s a shame we can’t criminally charge the people within the pharma companies who were responsible for pushing these drugs on children, and sue every doctor who participated into the bankruptcy. There are countless people in prison who have done less harm than these ‘professionals’.

  • “According to the researchers, diagnosing ADHD in children with ASD only became possible in 2013, when the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM-5) was published. The previous edition did not permit both diagnoses together, but the new edition does.”

    Nonsense. I have personal experience that proves otherwise. They could and did diagnose children with both under the DSM-IV, because in practice the quacks don’t even follow the made-up standards of the DSM.

    Also, any talk of “overdiagnosis” is complete BS when we’re talking about invalid social constructs like ADHD and autism. Properly speaking, they aren’t even diagnoses — they’re just labels. Calling it “overdiagnosis” implies that psychiatric diagnosis is a process of scientific inference that sometimes goes awry, rather than the pseudo-medical pathologization ritual it actually is. No one who criticizes psychiatry with the phrase “overdiagnosis” goes far enough, because the whole scheme is rank charlatanism.

    (N.B., regarding the link to Allen Frances’ ‘overdiagnosis’ HuffPo article: Frances is a scumbag who pimped Risperdal for J&J, enabled the pathologization of countless children with his DSM-IV, and continues to argue that psychiatry should have the power to violate the rights of “the seriously ill”. Even if it’s just a link, I’m disappointed he still gets uncritically referenced here.)

  • It’s not actually necessary to abandon materialism to question biopsychiatry though. Non-materialist perspectives are fine, but as I see it, the psychiatry’s real philosophical errors are a greedy reductionism that believes psychological processes are best explained at the level of neurons and brain chemistry (and that chemicals are somehow more “real” and scientific than thoughts and feelings), and the assumption that human beings are isolated systems whose mental states simply bubble up from genetically determined physiological processes.

    Neither belief really makes much sense — first, where greedy reductionism is concerned, why not go even deeper? Molecules are more basic than neurons, so why don’t we try explaining the mind through the actions of individual molecules reacting and moving about by the laws of chemistry? Or we can go deeper still, and try to explain human beings on the subatomic level. The problem of course, is that while it’s possible in principle (assuming a materialist metaphysics) to reduce everything to the interactions of subatomic particles, it’s a completely intractable approach, and there’s no reason to assume working at such a low level will grant any insight into what’s really going wrong. So why should we find insight even at the level of neurons? Perhaps the most fruitful way to understand human beings is at a more abstract psychological level.

    And second, I think the naive view of psychiatry is that psychological function (or at least ‘abnormal’ function) is a determinist process where genes determine your brain and its chemical balance, which then gives rise to your thoughts and feelings. But this is ridiculous! We’re deeply embedded in the world! Our thoughts and feelings (again, from a materialist perspective) come from the interaction between our bodies and the things we eat, our social interactions, and the world we live in. The possibility that trauma can change one’s physiology and hence one’s thoughts and feelings is entirely compatible with a materialist worldview. It isn’t however, consistent with the view that human behavior is solely a product of our genes.

    I think Steve is correct that many people are resistant to alternative explanations because they think they’re “superstitious” or “mystical”, but I believe there’s a subtler issue here — many critiques of biopsychiatry actually don’t require a non-materialist worldview to make sense, but psychiatry’s defenders are too mired in reductionist, determinist thinking to see the philosophical error.

  • whoops! In the third paragraph, I meant to say “Neuro-reductionism seems more humane and scientific”. We justify the accommodations of the psychiatry sick-role with the argument that the patient can’t help it, it’s a biological illness. If we don’t call it a disease however, people seem to think the only alternative is to throw everyone with ‘schizophrenia’ in prison, and tell people with depression or anxiety to just suck it up — and that doesn’t seem very humane.

  • Yeah, it baffles me that people will argue for women’s rights to bodily autonomy when it comes to sexual assault or abortion, but restraining someone, removing their clothing, and forcibly injecting a drug is apparently A-ok. Is bodily autonomy only for the ‘sane’?

    I think there’s a lot to unpack here. The ignorance self-identified liberals and progressives have toward psychiatric oppression is often mysterious, but I do have a few ideas. In my experience, self-identified liberals often draw ‘us-them’ distinctions like everyone else, but they draw the lines differently. Oppression on the basis of race or sex is verboten, but I’ve known people who wouldn’t dream of insulting another on the basis of race or sex who still sneer at working-class ‘white trash’, or think it’s fine to insult someone who doesn’t have a high-school diploma. I’m pretty left-leaning myself, but I’m afraid lack of compassion and understanding really isn’t a monopoly of the right. People on the left will categorize ‘the mentally-ill’ (when we aren’t talking about the acceptable sorts of ‘mental-illness’ like anxiety and depression) as ‘them’ just as readily as anyone else. My liberal friends in college thought nothing of throwing a Halloween party with a mental asylum theme.

    Additionally, (and I think this is related to a susceptibility to scorn people with less education) I think self-identified liberals often grant scientific and intellectual authorities respect where the right grants respect to the police, military, religious figures, etc. The established intellectual consensus is that mental illness reflects some sort of underlying biological problem, and most people who haven’t looked closely trust that if the doctors say so, well it’s probably true. Of course, there are exceptions — the left has it’s fair share of opponents to scientific consensus in the form of anti-vaxxers, GMO opponents and so on, but I think as long as psychiatry claims to be a science and progressives fancy themselves on the rational and scientific side (against a “creationist, superstitious right-wing”), the left will perceive opposition to psychiatry as anti-science superstition. Whenever I try to argue that not all forms of distress are biological in nature, the response I get suggests the person I’m talking to thinks I’m trying to argue that neurons and brain chemistry aren’t involved at all — that I’m really making a moral judgement about someone’s distress or talking about something religious like a soul. (or even that I’m secretly a Scientologist!) Neuro-reductionism seems more more human and more scientific than squishy psychological theories, especially when people think you’re implying Cartesian dualism.

    And of course, what psychiatry promotes sounds progressive! If psychiatrists really do help people with biological problems, then of course, access to treatment and a proper diagnosis should be a right! Progressives want healthcare for everyone, so shouldn’t that mean mental healthcare too? Liberals end up on the side of oppression out of a misguided attempt to help, and pharma and the psychiatric establishment are only too happy to say they’re defending people’s rights in doing so. Consider how a Republican like Tim Murphy can use the Orwellian phrase “right to be well” to justify psychiatric coercion. We’re fighting against a terrible amount of misinformation and propaganda that criticism of psychiatry means being both anti-science and hurtful to people with ‘mental-illnesses’. The right says we’re dangerous, and the left says we need more access to ‘treatment’. Is it any wonder so many self-identified liberals think they’re on the side of compassion and truth?

  • Yeah, that was astonishingly arrogant. It’s not like the doctors responsible for contemporary psychiatry lack for education! Plenty of credentialed, highly literate people eagerly defend the profession, so something else must be going on. I’m certain there’s a more subtle sociological argument here for why self-identified progressives fail to see psychiatric oppression than ‘people are dumb’.

  • Oh $%&^. How does Frances consistently manage to convince others he’s the voice of reason? The labels themselves are the problem, not the possibility “mislabelling” people. His DSM was a thoroughgoing pseudoscientific fraud, and all the problems of depression screening that he opposes were created by the perspective of treating all forms of psychological distress as distinct, diagnosable entities in an implied disease model. Oh, and he still wants to stigmatize and separate the “really sick” from the rest of humanity.

  • Yeah, I’ll never speak to a psychiatrist about my troubles again either — never been committed myself, but I’ve experienced enough harm from psychiatry and seen enough of how it hurts others to know shrinks are not to be trusted. I don’t think your or my decision to never again talk to someone who could take away our rights is at all uncommon. How many of us are there? As I see it, the argument that forced treatment is harmful and a violation of human rights isn’t a very strong one with the public, so I have to wonder if it wouldn’t be a useful tactic to point out the ways forced treatment is counterproductive even according to its own standards because it discourages people from seeking care. The first priority is to eliminate psychiatry’s legal power to compel “treatment” and strip people of their rights, because it’s among the profession’s greatest evils. After that, we can focus on delegitimizing psychiatry as a whole.

  • Speaking of pragmatic, non-rights based arguments, has anyone ever studied how often forced treatment is a deterrent to people seeking help? Arguments for commitment talk about the people they benefit (though I’m skeptical), but what about the people psychiatry’s legal authority drives away? I know that at a particularly dark point in my life, I was reluctant to tell anyone for fear that “help” would come in the form of authoritarian and unempathetic bio-bio-bio quackery. I feared being legally stripped of my autonomy, dispossessed from whatever bits of care and support I still had — it would’ve been worse than anything I was already dealing with. (I think mainstream psychiatry completely discounts how much isolation and lack of autonomy can fuel feelings of despair, else its standard “treatments” wouldn’t be so disempowering.) I’d imagine that for many people, the mere the threat of losing one’s rights is itself an impediment to care.

  • If you’re going to call Allen Frances out on Huffpo, check to see if your comments show up when you’re logged out of Facebook. I got stealth banned after bringing up his J&J corruption, and anything you say might go through review now. Good luck.