Monday, August 8, 2022

Comments by Chuck Ruby, PhD

Showing 9 of 9 comments.

  • I rejected psychiatric drugs after experiencing their harmful effects. Luckily, I took them for only a week or so. Simply put, I rejected it because it made me feel terrible, nothing more than that.

    I agree with your focus on the importance of defining things before we have discussions about them. However, I don’t think the issue of normality is relevant. This is because it is an arbitrary judgment that is ultimately based on moral ideas of right/wrong and good/bad. So unless we want the mental health professions to become moral arbiters, I’d steer clear.

    Yes, we can emotionally harm with words, especially if we are spreading falsehoods, but even when we don’t realize we’re harming. That’s why it is essential to value the experience of the person being helped – whether they find it useful or harmful.

    I disagree that the atheist example is a straw man argument. It shows that despite one’s most significant and impactful beliefs and perspectives, one still has the ability to do things contrary to those beliefs and perspectives.

    Let’s dispense with calling these problems “bipolar” or “depression.” This will help in discussing them as those labels distract us from what we’re talking about. There are real emotional difficulties and they range in terms of their intensity. So, someone can be sad and then another can be extremely sad (from their point of view). The latter would be far more difficult to tolerate, obviously, by definition. How one responds to these emotions is the key. The extremely sad person might tolerate the feelings and get out of bed, while the less sad person might stay in bed, even though on average we would assume more sadness results in more attempts to shut down.

  • I understand the intense difficulties you and your wife are experiencing, and I hope the best for you. But I would still see her situation as not one of being literally disabled. Of course, as I explained in the blog, I’m assuming a particular definition of “disability” that you may not be.

    Your description… “Dissociation slices and dices the brain’s ability to access many personality traits and mental functions until those dissociative walls are torn down and the pathways are re-established” is not literal. There is no dissociation that operates in or on the brain. The term is a description of one’s experiences of segregating different aspects of self, and while that is happening, there is corresponding brain activity and changes occurring that aren’t necessarily pathological in a literal sense, just as there is with all experiences. Also, brains don’t access traits and functions, and there are no walls in the brain. These are all figurative terms used to describe the very real and painful experiences. Having said that, if there’s evidence of literal brain atrophy or any other pathological condition of the brain, then I would agree that can be disabling.

  • When I say “mental disorder is real,” I’m referring to the thing that we call “mental disorder.” Those problems are real. They’re just not illnesses to be assessed and treated with a medical model.

    Mental disorder is not caused by the iatrogenesis of psych drugs/ECT/surgery. Those things cause physical disorder that have mental and behavioral symptoms.

  • In no way to I want to ignore inherent power imbalance in a therapist-client relationship. It is always there to differing degrees. However, therapists can greatly reduce its potentially harmful effects. The problem as I see it is to generalize to all “professionals” and all “patients.” Doing so is nothing more than stereotyping. We can address the power imbalance issue but it must be examined one relationship at a time.

    It goes against reason to assume there is a physiological dysfunction present when no evidence supports that assumption.

    If there is physiological dysfunction that causes mental distress, that is not mental disability. It is physical disability. Further, psychological harm is not necessarily the same as disability.

  • You had me until the end. I wholeheartedly agree with you that “mental illness” is not illness and this is the crux of the problem. The term and all the diagnoses reify human struggles and imply they are diseases that make people do things (e.g., “bipolar causes mania”). But at the end of your essay, you said those who perpetrate the mass shootings suffer from “a sick mind.” Minds cannot be sick. And though we might use “sick” metaphorically here, we can also use “mental illness” metaphorically. But, that is the heart of the problem. Those figurative phrases are taken literally by most people. Sick minds do not cause mass shootings. Using that phrase allows us to overlook the very real factors involved in violence. It is no different than saying “the devil made me do it.”

  • ISEPP has lost one of its finest members. Matt Stevenson was a wonderful human being and his contributions to ISEPP were substantial. He was always researching and reaching out to others in order to understand his personal experiences on the receiving end of the mental health system. His assessment of that system was spot on. It unfortunately is not set up to respect the dignity and humanity of people who struggle as he did, and in the end it failed him.

    We in ISEPP valued his thought-provoking involvement on the ISEPP listserv and in personal email exchanges with several of us. He was not shy about sharing his learned ideas and did so in a candid, stimulating, and respectful way. I had the honor of meeting him in person and we talked quite extensively about his life, mine, and his interests in changing the mental health system towards a more humane and compassionate one. Our exchange helped me greatly as I was assuming the position as ISEPP’s Executive Director.

    After having no contact with him since early summer, I reached out to him two weeks ago. He shared that he was having a difficult time with personal and family issues and it was hard getting things “back under control.” He was particularly disturbed by a study that reported poor recovery rates for people experiencing psychosis. I know he reached out to others as well in order to understand this study. But despite his pain he still thought to wish me well.

    I always find choices like his heartbreaking. While I understand a person’s decision in order to soothe severe emotional angst, I wish the decision would be put off, at least just one more day at a time. Circumstances and situations always change, as does one’s hope for the future. Rest well, my friend. You are missed.