Thursday, July 18, 2019

Comments by kindredspirit

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  • This is why so many of us object to research on specific labels such as “schizophrenia”, “bipolar”, “borderline” etc being presented on MIA as if each represents a homogenous cohort within that discreet diagnosis or that the resulting findings could have any real-world validity or application.

  • As a registered and active Green voter, I’m thrilled to see the connection you’ve made between Green environmental values and mental wellbeing, especially for kids. I have for a while been trying to make the connection between my politics and child/adult psych issues so that I can effectively advocate politically in this arena.

    I’m not so thrilled with the idea of schools delivering parent training or family therapy, or any therapy. Schools are struggling hard enough to do the one thing they’re tasked with, and that has a lot to do with overburdening teachers and cutting arts/music/PE/recess and hyper focusing on academics. One really effective way to reduce disciplinary problems in the classroom would be to focus on making schools healthy environments for learning again. Give kids a break. Stop making them perform (work) for the school’s funding. Adding in any way to what teachers or other staff have to deal with in the pursuit of test scores is counterproductive.

    Additionally, I think that schools often take an adversarial approach toward the parents – especially when it comes to medicating or otherwise targeting the child for treatments and I’m generally against anything that gives the education system more power to use with parents. A child’s teacher is not his third parent. Neither is the school counselor. I think the current CPS system should morph into a general Family Services department, and that receiving information from a child’s teachers could help inform Family Services on what help a child and family might need. But these things should not take place under the purview of the school system.

    Overall, I also think that too much focus on being trauma-informed (after the fact) is going down the same rabbit hole as prior notions that some children were “culturally deprived”, lacked cultural capital, and just needed a little extra help, a la Head Start and early literacy programs in order to keep up with their better off peers. But what I’ve found through personal experience and observation is that what kids really need is food in their bellies, safe places to play and gather, love, attention and consistent expectations/rules, safe shelter to sleep, and parents who aren’t stressed from impoverished, abusive, or otherwise oppressive living/working conditions. And a lot of parents are aware of this too. Parent training? Well, that actually might have been helpful to the narcissistic dickwads I had for parents. But it can be really insulting to parents who deeply love and want to care well for their children but mostly lack resources, time and energy. Requiring those parents to spend extra time in counseling and training creates additional hardships for them. So I hope that these trauma-informed school-based approaches take all of these considerations into account. In my experience, these programs are often well-meaning but ultimately barking up the wrong tree and harmful, while stigmatizing and further stressing the parents who really want to be the best they can. Get into the home! Figure out what *supports* the parents need, not simply what program they have to attend and cooperate with. Formulaic approaches that look good on paper and generate funding are not necessarily the best way to help kids and families.

    Still, I appreciate the effort, and am happy to see this. It would be lovely if our Green New Deal really did translate into a better environment for kids, at home, school, and beyond.

  • Bonnie, I have a real problem with defining normal or typical mental or neurological functioning in terms of what is mainstream. What is considered mainstream is the conformity with a set of culturally defined messages that I largely consider unhealthy and even downright pathological sometimes. And so the topic becomes one of values rather than actual health or abilities.

    I value a range of emotional expression; fighting back loudly against oppressive regimes like government schools and working in cubicles; and being in community, cooperation and fellowship with other humans in a naturalistic setting. My values are completely opposite of most because I was not successfully socialized (propagandized) into the accepted practices of the culture I was born into. That does not make me neurodiverse, psychosocially disabled, or mad, though it does make me angry and leave me feeling isolated and strange in this toxic, individualist, bootstrap culture.

    It’s 1984 and we are the Borg. I will die shouting for people to wake up from their stupor. But I won’t fight for the right to be ‘mad’ or ‘neurodiverse’ or ‘psychosocially disabled’. I consider these terms slurs.

  • Hey PD, we agree on a lot of individual points regarding capitalism and the middle class family, but I find your attacks on psychotherapy offensive.

    In a world where no one really cares anymore, I am thankful I have the option to pay someone to listen and pretend to care about my struggles. If you want to change the world, how about starting by changing the need for support rather than suggesting you’d take away the last form of support some people have.

  • There is plenty of debate within the autism community about the ‘neurodiverse’ label. I think the request to stop labeling others as ‘normal’ is actually quite reasonable. The majority of us are suffering to lesser or greater degree, but a great many have been successfully socialized to believe they are alone in their suffering or have learned methods to cover up the fact that they’re suffering or have received intensive therapies they found harmful in order to make them seem more outwardly normal while still suffering inwardly. The idea that there are neurotypical people whose brains work normally and neurodiverse people whose brains work differently actually hurts all of us by setting up opposing categories that are to me entirely arbitrary.

  • “The presence of deficits in cognitive functioning in people with schizophrenia is well-established.”

    This is established pseudoscience. Furthermore, there is no homogeneity to what is currently called “schizophrenia” and this label is known to have at least nine different etiologies. The cognitive deficits associated with this label are well established as caused by the neuroleptics themselves as Dr Andreason’s study accidentally showed.

  • Well, bad people exist and some of them are pretending to be trusted professionals.

    The most important takeaway from this particular story is to remember that adults can be groomed just like children. The basis of any scam begins with the predator emotionally disarming their victim. It’s just as confusing and humiliating and devastating to experience at age 40 as it is at age 10. Adults should be aware of the signs of grooming and be ready to act to take their sanity back when they realize what is being done to them.

  • Bonnie, I understand why some people who embrace these terms feel they ARE different from the “norm” and want to celebrate or acknowledge that.

    Personally, I have the same problem with ‘neurodiverse’ as I do with ‘mad’. I exist on the human spectrum of emotionality and I don’t appreciate anyone implying that there is something diverse or abnormal about me. The problem is not that I’m different, it’s that other people have placed me unfairly outside of the “normal” basket.

    Chickens lay a whole rainbow of egg colors despite only seeing the white and brown ones on the shelves at the grocery store. One might think a blue egg was diverse or strange if one didn’t know this was completely normal. Rather than fighting for the right to be different or abnormal, I’d really rather fight to educate that human emotion, affect, and cognition exist on a spectrum.

    I like your concept of cognitive liberty. I hope it will indeed be unifying.

  • We will all die eventually and I find the suicide wars so mentally exhausting. It should absolutely be the right of the individual to take their own life and it is as personal a decision as whether or not to marry or have children or any other major decision in life. Ultimately the individual has to decide if their life continues to add value to the world and if living is what they want. Conflating suicide with mental illness is just another way to control people and take away that last bit of agency over their own existence.

  • I would have stayed with my foster parents if they could have kept me. But I understand that my experience is unusual and that has led me to oppose foster care in all but the most severe cases. Most of the people I know who have experienced the foster system have experienced additional, sometimes truly horrific abuses in their foster home or group home environments. From the parents, from the other kids, from school children who know you’re a foster kid…

    My father readily admitted to my mother to having had penetrative sexual intercourse with one of my parent’s preteen foster daughters. I have heard horror stories so egregious that I have been forever grateful to have gotten so “lucky”. But I think it may be especially hard for a child who does get a break from abuse and has a super good foster experience to then have to go back home. You don’t ever really forget that strangers took you in and were so kind. So I really think that foster care has a way of being psychologically injurious to the kid even when it isn’t an abusive experience.

    I also think that the amount of money spent on rehabilitating or otherwise caring for the broken adults that come out of the system could be spent on a different kind of prevention that acknowledges abuses happen within families and works on a harm reduction model rather than a chaotic attempt at harm elimination. Strengthening the family should always be the priority.

    Lastly, I have been somewhat heartened by the changes to foster care practices in states that are overwhelmed by the opioid crisis. Those systems have had to learn different ways than simply removing kids as there just aren’t enough homes for them. Techniques like checking in by phone daily, frequent home visits to put eyes on the kid and the environment, therapy for the parents, but otherwise not removing the child. I really hope that those techniques become much more widespread and we can abandon the model of just taking the kid away. Kids aren’t possessions of either their parents or the state, but rather part of a bonded family unit. The fact remains that most parents who permanently lose their children are those without the financial resources to fight back and regain their shiny object and their reputation. The ripple effects go on for generations and this harm needs to stop. My story of N=1 means nothing in the greater scheme of things. But statistics are a powerful weapon in this fight. The data stand on their own. Taking kids away causes additional harm most of the time.

  • I still find it stunning that the psychiatric profession maintains the farce that SSRI-induced hypo/mania is a feature of emerging bipolar best treated with the addition of “mood stabilizing” drugs rather than an iatrogenic harm reaction best treated by removing the offending drug that is, indeed, poisoning the patient. Extreme depression is nowhere near as dangerous a mental state as drug-induced disconnection from reality and impulse control.

  • I’ve been very slow to embrace the PTMF as well as other models like the psychological injury model – partly because with trauma, we’re talking about actual physical injury to the body. My mind isn’t damaged but my nervous system clearly is. That’s a really big distinction to make.

    I think I agree in spirit with the pushback against all of these new models because it feels like ever more resources are going to fix the problems the system generates rather than to changing the system. (Which system? Psychiatry? Capitalism? Government education? Conformity itself?) But I think it’s shortsighted to suggest that this is a black and white issue and that merely ending capitalism or psychiatry or pick your oppression will end traumas like child abuse, rape, spousal abuse, drug abuse etc, all of which thrive under other economic systems. So, to keep beating the war drum that all we need is collective action feels just as disingenuous as suggesting that trauma-informed communities are any sort of panacea.

    I’m very glad to see this shift in thinking about distress being pushed from within the professional community, and I think activists need to stop lecturing professionals about changing their language and telling them to make changes on the inside, and then shitting on every effort the professional class attempts to change the language of mental distress and to make those changes from the inside.

    Thank you Dr. Johnstone for your efforts and to Zenobia for the interview. I hope to see more collaboration with survivors rather than the current methods of philosophizing about or studying distressed populations. But I think this is a really good start and is certainly leagues better than the current disease model of psychological distress, which most of the emerging “trauma-informed” approaches really don’t sufficiently distance themselves from, well meaning as they seem.

  • This was a very good read and hits super close to home for me. I’ve come to understand my challenging childhood behaviors in a similar way – nervous system damage and dysfunction as a manifestation of traumatic stress. I hope that autonomic disruption and injury becomes more widely understood in educational and psychological settings and actually anywhere traumatized children may receive care.

    One thing that is routinely not addressed in any of the trauma-informed research (or at least in the reporting), but I think is incredibly important, is the real issue that trauma isn’t just something that “happened” to the child. I can say from personal experience and that of the other kids I knew, chances are the child may very well still be experiencing trauma/s even as they’re in therapy and/or behavior modification treatment programs. I had the audacity to report abuse, but most kids aren’t as articulate about abuse at home as I was. I think especially in terms of juvenile justice settings, the possibility that the child is living in a chronically traumatizing environment is so high that to ignore this is criminal in itself.

    I hope that psychological care in the form of individual child therapy, behavior modification programs in schools and punishment a la “juvenile justice” all eventually fade away in favor of a system that treats children and families in the home with roving teams, in a similar fashion to the Open Dialogue approach, and for as long as necessary, making sure that the families needs are met and that the environment remains healthy for kids. I think a multi pronged approach that aims to treat the effects of trauma in various community settings while also addressing the family disfunction will have a far greater positive effect on the long term outcomes for traumatized children. But certainly you can’t expect kids to be taking vicious beatings or be sexually exploited by night and care about earning gold stars for good behavior by day at school. Hopefully the absurdity of the current approach will dawn on the treatment providers sooner rather than later.

    “What happened to you?” Is a fantastic way to understand the adult issues resulting from ACEs. With kids, we need to rapidly move beyond “What happened to you?” to “What’s happening to you?” Kids need healthy environments with an abundance of love and attention, and healthy food and plenty of sleep and tons of play, and parents who aren’t oppressed and stressed. Why is this rocket science? An education is constitutionally guaranteed, but a safe and healthy childhood isn’t. Let’s start getting to the heart of what’s really hurting kids and fix those issues at the source.

  • Sera, if the majority of responses to your piece seem like people misunderstood what you meant to convey, it might behoove you to revisit your article and see if what you meant to say was what you actually said, rather than getting upset at all the people who disagree and insist they either didn’t read what you wrote or somehow misinterpreted it.

    Also, as far as people being deluded for taking psych drugs: it’s absolutely the right of survivors to believe that about people currently happy with their drug regimen. You don’t get to control what people believe. And shaming them for holding this belief is counterproductive, as I hope you’ve learned from the replies to this article. Although from your response, I don’t think you have. That’s unfortunate.

    Do people have the right to drug themselves with neurotoxic and psychoactive pharmaceutical drugs? Yes. Should they? That’s an entirely different question and you should expect and be prepared for fierce debate over it.

  • Thank you, Oldhead. Proud pill shamer here too. I might have gotten off the drugs sooner if this crowd had been a little louder and stood up to the psych propaganda more visibly. This article is over the top.

    The NNH for most of these drugs is smaller than the NNT with more long term data being reported every year. And now the new study that was just published (a larger replication of a previous study) showing that anticholinergics increase odds of developing dementia by 50%… Its hard to believe that people are so focused on not hurting someone else’s feelings that the true dangers of these drugs gets suppressed.

    This article shames survivors who’ve been harmed and who now speak the truth about these drugs. I won’t be shamed out of speaking the truth about these harms just because some people experience a placebo effect and don’t have too many bad side effects. That is not proof the drugs work, just proof some people aren’t harmed by them.

    Lastly, most of the time when you read people talking about pill-shamers, they’re also spreading disinformation about their “mental illnesses” and claiming these drugs treat those “illnesses”. We got to this level of propagandization because people who’ve been harmed are silenced and called pill and treatment “shamers”. It’s an effective, if ruthless tactic.

    It’s unfortunate that this tactic is used because many drugs, not just the psychiatric drugs, are largely harmful and cause other illnesses in the process of treating the target illness. When I tell people I avoided a Lipitor prescription by changing my diet, I largely get praise for the effort. But telling people you got off psych drugs draws blank stares from anyone who hasn’t done it themselves or supported someone who has. So you get support in the strangest places – like a nurse at the dog park who once took zyprexa and was thrilled to hear I wasn’t on the drugs anymore. Foreigners are also more likely to be supportive without putting their SJW pants on and counseling you on not pill shaming.

    My best friend got off her drugs after seeing me do it. After stabilizing, she went back to college to advance her (already impressive) career. I’m so thrilled. What if I hadn’t been so forthright about the knowledge I’d gained about these drugs in order to spare her feelings?

    Yes, Oldhead, pill shamers unite and spread the word. Eventually we’ll be louder than those who want us all to step it back a notch so they don’t get too overwhelmed with the feels to participate in the reality of the harmed masses. We can’t all be rich white ladies dictating to oppressed people what is acceptable discourse when discussing oppressive regimes like psychiatry and its drugs. I just don’t have any pearls to clutch when my dignity is offended by someone else speaking out about how they’ve been harmed.

  • Good question, Richard. The closest I can think of to compare would be the media collusion with the defense industry and Bush government to convince Americans there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. (And we all know Vietnam was a hoax too thanks to the Pentagon Papers.) Trillions spent, millions of foreign lives lost, countries destroyed. In both these cases, Pharma and the military industrial complex, it boils down to the capitalist pursuit of profit at any cost.

    Both industries discuss ways to grow the industry, make profit forecasts in economic rags. And in both cases, it’s nearly verboten to question the premise. You’ll be called a pill shamer if you question “mental illness” and a troop shamer and unpatriotic for questioning war. Both topics require massive amounts of propaganda and coordination between government and industry to thrive.

  • My opinion is not directed at the author, but at the topic. I want to make clear that I think the nature of “Trauma-Informed Care” is literally bass-ackwards. What is TIC?

    “The intention of Trauma-Informed Care is not to treat symptoms or issues related to sexual, physical or emotional abuse or any other form of trauma but rather to provide support services in a way that is accessible and appropriate to those who may have experienced trauma.”

    And this is why, of all the state models, only one mentioned families. This “trauma-informed” approach seems to still be focused on altering childrens’ behaviour to get them through the educational system. (A 50 million investment in mental health services was the first clue!) This article mentions health care resources multiple times as well as a school-based clinic. I have read nothing that mentions treating the family situation, and that seems to be because that is intentionally not part of trauma-informed care.

    Speaking as someone who has a high ACE score, the most traumatic part of my childhood was not the physical, sexual, or emotional abuses that took place. Nor the violence I witnessed. The most traumatic part of my childhood was the intense focus paid to my “bad” behaviors, the sympathy and support given to my parents for all they had to “cope with”, and the dismissal of my (and my sister’s) reports of said physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. And the way I read it, trauma-informed care means exactly more of this. No focus whatsoever on the issues causing the trauma, but instead responding to the effects of trauma in social and educational service settings.

    I want to be able to applaud efforts at being more trauma-informed in terms of understanding a child’s behaviour, but I fear that legislation intended to help children by devoting more resources to disadvantaged children’s mental health in the school environment will merely cause more kids to end up in the psychiatric system instead of in the penal system. I don’t view a school to psychiatry pipeline as an improvement over the school to prison pipeline.

    You cannot address the issues that happen in the family and community in a school health clinic – either via therapy or drugs. This focus on the child is inappropriate and harmful, frankly, because it doesn’t address the root causes. A truly trauma-informed approach would start in the community and in the home to address the issues that kids are experiencing at the source, whether that be witnessing violence, experiencing violence, having food or shelter insecurity, changes in caregivers, or just being severely neglected. One thing I know is that kids don’t get to an ACE score of 8 like I have without failings both in and out of the family and social institutions. Severe trauma doesn’t happen accidentally and there is no number of school health clinics that are going to do more than put a bandaid over a hemorrhaging wound.

    Lastly, like many organizations that purport to lobby on behalf of marginalized groups, the board CTIPP is made up of mostly white people, and entirely of professionals. How many of them personally identify as having experienced severe childhood trauma? How many of them have been in foster care or lived in dangerous, violent neighborhoods, or were used as sexual playthings, or were beaten by their caregivers? How many of them have anything more than an academic knowledge of what they’re promoting? You sure don’t get the impression from their bios that they are anything more than SJWs talking over the voices of marginalized people who have experienced these things and have a solid understanding of the kinds of changes necessary to create whole, healthy communities, families, and kids. So I’ll say it loud and clear: Nothing about us without us! Targeting children for behavioral alteration by promoting more mental healthcare in educational settings while having no intention of addressing the root cause of their distress and is immoral and harmful.

  • What wasn’t made clear in this article but is stated in the original paper, is that the clinic the author worked at was in fact located in West Philadelphia, very near to where the MOVE bombing actually occurred. This doctor isn’t just suggesting something random and racist, he suggested bombing the very same community which was once already bombed. And not only was no one ever held accountable, the explosives were procured from the FBI and the bombing was approved at the very highest levels of the federal government.

    We have a cultural narrative that suggests the south is racist and the north isn’t. The difference is that in the south, individual racist people make trouble for Black folk, while in the north, the state and federal governments are happy to take on the role of terrorizing Black communities.

    As Oldhead mentioned, psychiatry is but another tool of the police state and the psychiatric industrial complex is in fact the prison/psychiatric/policing/military industrial complex. Divide and conquer tactics work because if we’re fighting each other, we’re not fighting Them. And by Them, I mean specifically the law enforcement/social control mentality that promotes the notion that we’re safer with policing – policing our schools, communities, workplaces, the world.

    This same policing concept is why the US military has nearly 1000 bases in over 100 foreign nations and why many foreigners accuse the US of policing the world. Social control is part and parcel of the imperialist and colonialist, white male dominant paradigm we live in. Once you realize the purpose that policing/prison/psychiatry/military industrial complex(es) serves, it’s hard to not become an abolitionist. How the heck can we call ourselves free?

    It is not surprising in the least that those in power are fighting so hard to remain in power and that those in power cannot relate to the marginalized. This goes far beyond race relations, and into interrelated and overlapping *systems* of oppression that keep most marginalized folks from fighting back effectively.

  • “When we find ourselves being different, we have to decide, do we want to try to recover from these differences, to try to be more like others so as to avoid any problems or disruption that seem associated with those differences, or do we want to accept and even be proud of our differences, and ask others to accept us as we are and to adjust to accommodate the way we are different?”

    This still presents a false dichotomy and assumes that people enter Mental Health, Inc, voluntarily or otherwise, because they are experiencing a mental health issue that is troubling to themselves or those around them. But for those of us that went to our doctors for a physical illness and left drugged to the gills with psychoactive drugs which then iotrogenically create extreme mental states, this dichotomy is fairly insulting. I am not mad, not now, nor then. That this culture pathologizes crying is another matter entirely and will lead those interested to research the causes and effects of toxic masculinity, toxic individualization, and bootstrap culture.

    There is a great book recently out called Doing Harm by Maya Duysenbery, about the psychopathologization or outright dismissal of women’s physical illnesses. Since women are the drivers of mental health utilization, you might find that this information informs your opinions about who ends up being called Mad, and why some might find it a slur since we were not behaving in ways that would be described as such UNTIL we were inappropriately medicated. Some, myself included, call this for what it is: medical poisoning.

  • Thank you for the donation link. It was heartbreaking to see the old message there from Matt Stevenson. His generosity of heart speaks still from beyond the grave.

    My best wishes to Marci. I certainly understand her anger, and unwillingness to play her captor’s game after being poisoned and losing the most precious thing in her world. The cruelty of this world is just unfathomable at times.

  • Also, LS, the debt owed is by the heads of the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured the poisons she was ingesting. The prescriber could claim no knowledge of the harms of antidepressants but the manufacturer knows and sells it anyway, at a massive profit. I’ve always assumed you have to sell your soul to work for pharma.

  • Hi johnchristine, I have enjoyed your comments and largely agree with you. I think you know very well some of the systemic issues we’re facing. But I also understand why making so many short disjointed comments seem disruptive to some.

    It seems that what you’re going through is very distressing and I’m sorry I don’t know how to help you resolve that situation, but I think you could help us to follow along and better understand your message if you’d make a more concerted effort to consolidate your comments into fewer longer statements. In solidarity…KS

  • Steve M, direct-to-consumer drug advertising didn’t really explode until the FDA relaxed its rules in 1997. For the liberals in the room who might blame the right, this occurred during the Bill Clinton presidency as he was personally strongly in favor of deregulation and it occurred across many government agencies during his tenure, not just at FDA.

    https://www.statnews.com/2015/12/11/untold-story-tvs-first-prescription-drug-ad/

    The first amendment has been the biggest hurdle as the Supreme Court has put in place strong protections for advertising (propaganda). One way around this would be if the Medicare for All idea became a nationalized healthcare system and medical R&D was returned to the universities under strictly public funding to find effective drugs in the public interest. (Which is not at all to say that I support psych drugs, but if the profit motive is removed and the government actuaries begin to realize that disabling people with the drugs is costlier than the profits the industry makes on the drugs, it would undermine the forward momentum to drug everyone in America.) In an environment where corporations are people with stronger protections than actual people, there’s little hope of changing this phenomena.

    I do not think it was any one thing like the DSM III changes, or the introduction of Prozac, or direct to consumer advertising, but they all played significant parts in addition to what Oldhead mentions with the advent of the grateful consumer movement.

  • “The goal, which was largely achieved, was to create the impression that the rowdy, radical rough-edged mental patients’ liberation movement had “evolved” into the clean, polite, largely compliant “mental health consumers” movement”

    It is still the prevailing narrative that survivors should present well and genuflect to their superiors (treatment providers) in all interactions. Many survivors on this very site will demand the right to be “mad” but they don’t seemingly yet understand that they also need to be angry. It’s time to stage acts of civil disobedience and act up, not ask nicely for our rights.

    There is a climate change advocacy group called Extinction Rebellion making a splash in the news this week due to their organized antics. They sign their email letters “in love and rage”. That seems like a pretty good position to take. One must harness both lest you be coopted by a more organized gentler “reasonable” and polished message.

    I do wish some of the movement veterans would take more initiative to mentor this generation’s radicals who have expressed a willingness to act.

  • My own mother would have complained about similar issues with getting services for me. I was a physically, emotionally, and sexually abused child and my poor mommy participated in covering up both her own and others abuses of me.

    I am proud to have been a child who acted out in response to the abuse and control I was put under. It’s time to start asking why kids are acting the way they are instead of assuming the child is disordered and the poor suffering parents need help.

    However, there are two issues being conflated in this article. One is the difficulty involved in getting community services aimed at the impoverished. The other issue is the targeting of impoverished parents by the educational, juvenile justice, and child welfare systems. And only peripherally involves the medical system as psychiatry is used as a tool of control. Control of the child and control of the parents.

    A system of child abuse coverup exists within both the educational and juvenile justice systems, aided by the child welfare system and medicine via psychiatry. The difference between permanent loss of your children and not is merely a matter of whether you can afford an attorney. The child still has no fundamental rights. The right of the state to remove a child is not a child protection and the child that is removed is rarely protected. These are states rights vs parents rights. We should never confuse or pretend that it’s actually about the child. The child is a pawn between opposing parties.

  • It’s rather astounding the level of apathy that the US is displaying about our current 17 year long war which we know our leaders lied to get us into.

    Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers that illuminated that the leaders of the time had lied about the reasons to get into Vietnam. A current democratic presidential candidate from Alaska named Mike Gravel entered the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record so that they couldn’t be suppressed again.

    Where are the people fighting for Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and standing up for whistleblowers and against endless (extremely profitable) wars? When we take to the streets, were labeled as extremists. The mainstream media falls in line with the government and security agencies and paints us as misguided at best, dangerous at worst.

    AMERICA, WHERE ARE YOU? Put down your bottles of Xanax and Prozac, feel the fear and the despair and get off your asses, we need boots on the ground fighting for our freedoms.

    This passivity, this attitude that “my distress is evidence of my mental illness” is exactly what the people in charge at the top want: a compliant populace! DON’T COMPLY!!! Refuse! Act up! Act out! Be loud! Be heard!

    And if you don’t, when you have no rights left, you’ll only have yourselves to blame, not your captors.

    And if this is extremism, then I will proudly wear the label. I will walk in the shadow of the legacies of those activists who came before me. Sometimes you have to be brave.

    Drop the disorder. Fight for your damn rights!!!

  • Psychiatry’s basis is a judge mental book of behavior groupings – none of which are particular to any specific “mental illness” label but are specific to the individual in distress.

    The labels tell us absolutely nothing about the origins of a person’s distress. The people who these labels are applied to have very little in common and the interrater reliability of the labeling process is so fundamentally broken that no common theme can be made about anyone except perhaps that people labeled with the so-called personality disorders are almost universally severely traumatized – first by the original abuse, then by abuse from the medical system.

    The labels are fundamentally flawed and psychiatry as a discipline is as invalid as the practice of blood letting or insulin therapy. (FFS autocorrect…)

    The only reasonable path forward is for other medical specialities to take back their responsibility to proper diagnosis and treatment of the physical illnesses that fall within their disciplines, and for those in distress which is not directly medically treatable to have proper supports in the community that aren’t state controlled and funded.

    There is ample room for change within a humanistic framework but the first step will have to be a recognition of the vast amount of harm that psychiatry is doing by dulling the normal and expected reactions of the populace toward more and more harm. Medicating away any hint of distress means we choose to pacify ourselves rather than to act upon the normal and expected danger signals this bankrupt culture is inducing in more and more of us.

  • What we seem to be calling “effectiveness” referring to the psychiatric drugs is really merely a more rapid change of state. But we know also that the brain adjusts to the drugs so that the next depressive episode will need more of the drug or an additional drug or the “patient” may become “treatment resistant”. So our rush for a rapid improvement sets the “patient” up for a more difficult “recovery” in the next episode, and so on. (And it’s assumed the source of distress is within the individual, of course.)

    Of course, people in distress are no different from each other whether it’s the new mother we sympathize with or the homeless guy who remains invisible to most until we are inconvenienced by having to step over him on the sidewalk.

    Human is human. Distress is distress. Our culture is broken. Humans are not disposable. Drugs don’t make up for lack of community and lack of socializing. They don’t heal the nervous system damage that results from lack of touch and lack of human contact. Drugs don’t make us more sensitive to our own and others emotional existences. They cut us off and emotionally embalm us into our own individual ecosystems so that we not bother anyone else with our troubles.

    We don’t need more drug studies, we need more humanity. We need less competition for resources and a guidebook on how to cooperate again. We need to rid ourselves of culturally imposed notions of success that involve accomplishments and material wealth and start judging ourselves and others on our measure of kindness and cooperation and love…

    We must learn to be human again or we will not recover. We are not the Borg. We must not assimilate any further. Wake up, people!!!

  • Hi Ron, I don’t think you really understood what I meant. I used “extreme” in quote because the word is oft used to imply that the opposition’s position actually is extreme, which may only be the opinion or accusation of the party that doesn’t wish to negotiate.

    I don’t view antipsychiatry as extreme because antipsychiatry does not deny that there are medical causes of distress. What it does is say that the field of psychiatry is based on a judgmental book of behaviors that have been fairly well shown to be responses to social traumas and environmental toxins and that none of the diagnoses really represents distinct illnesses so much as arbitrarily voted upon groupings and labels.

    The collections of behaviors therefore are not scientifically legitimate and have been used tautaulogically in an effort to spend lots of time and money on a very lucrative wild good chase for causes of the so-called mental illnesses. So that doesn’t mean that there aren’t medical causes of behaviors and perceptions. But psychiatry and it’s book of diagnonsense is invalid. Let the neurologists take on the demonstrably brain based disorders as they already do with the dementias. Let the GI docs and nutritionists take on the gastrointestinal dysbioses and nutritional deficiencies. Let the infectious diseases doctors deal with the infectious causes of mental disturbances, etc.

    But psychiatry has no foundation left, and the first floor is already flooded with its lies and deceptions to an unsuspecting people. Eventually it will collapse simply due to the rate of knowledge gain of actual causes of mental distress, which are largely environmental toxins and social traumas.

    Being antipsychiatry need not be anti-medicine or anti-science because Psychiatry is focused on behaviors and their supposed genetic causes and chemical cures, which isn’t sustainable when the known social and environmental causes become more and more clear. You cannot vote something into scientific legitimacy the way the book of diagnonsense has been devised.

  • My view of morality is the set of things that one might find shocking or offensive but not necessarily criminal, and they most often seem to govern women’s behavior or have more of an effect on women when dictated by the church. Things like sex before marriage or how much skin one can show (modesty). But there are other ways we might moralize our own unethical behaviors, such as the thief who only steals from the rich to appease his own conscience about the act of stealing.

    So that’s the distinction really broken down from my perspective.

  • “Well it’s better than suffering and not learning anything, isn’t it?”

    Rachel, I’m not accusing you of meanness. I’m taking this statement to its logical conclusion and saying that it would be mean and we’d never do it.

    There’s nothing particularly valuable about suffering in and of itself, even if normal life events cause temporary pain. Learning from the suffering caused by the consequences of your actions is not the same. That’s the distinction I want to make.

    Not al suffering is the same and so a statement that it’s better to learn than not is not universally applicable.

  • Ethics guide the social contract which dictates acceptable social behavior and what we owe to each other; morals guide your personal norms and are subjective and personal to the individual. Religious morals enforce the beliefs of the church, which (generally) uphold patriarchal views of behavior that others may not value.

    You do not need to accept anyone else’s (religiously guided) moral beliefs in order to behave ethically and not cause harm to others.

  • I didn’t twist her words or accuse her of doing anything, especially not maliciously.

    Rachel is also more than capable of defending herself if she feels attacked. I’m sharing how I received her words. She may not have intended to sound dismissive. Good for you if you had a different response.

    I don’t find value in unnecessary suffering, so I don’t find value in learning from gratuitous painful experiences, especially when chronic traumatic stress has such extreme long term health effects.

  • Dismissing suffering because to suffer is part of living is a way of shaming those who are currently suffering or have experienced suffering they couldn’t change and didn’t deserve. Suggesting that one needs to find the silver lining in traumatic experiences is pretty mean. You wouldn’t ask a rape victim what she learned from the experience. You’d want her attacker prosecuted. So perhaps it’s time to start validating that suffering just hurts and we don’t need to rise above it or learn something from it, rather, we need justice, we need our stories heard, validated, our suffering compensated, and for the assault to stop against others.

  • Ron what I hear you saying is that you choose a critical psychiatry stance because it appears more reasonable; less vulnerable to attack. This is logically questionable but it’s also not particularly effective as an activist tactic. You start from the “extreme” in order to bring your “opponent” closer to your position. If your opponent can only claim your position is “extreme”, he reveals how flimsy the ground he stands on actually is.

    The antipsychiatry “side” has ample evidence, in part thanks to RW himself, that the purpose of psychiatry is control over the population. We currently have a population that chooses pills and labels to soothe any and all discomforts. We have a government controlled by business interests and a passive population that would rather medicate away any hint of distress rather than fight for their rights in the street.

    1984 was not an instruction manual. We have to attack the apathy of the population and remind humanity of their collective need to act. We’re rapidly approaching a point where psychiatry will be irrelevant because the planet is literally going to become uninhabitable and that is in large part due to the lifestyles of the white affluent class. So we can argue over semantics or we can do something to make a difference but it’s largely past time for this to be an intellectual excercise. Without decisive action on multiple fronts, we will simply medicate ourselves into oblivion as the world burns around us.

  • Of course there are other options. Both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein would have been better presidents than either of the two faux choices Americans were led to believe were the only real choices, and which were both to the right of anything that might have once upon a time been declared the center.

    The problem with middle ground thinking is assuming it actually is the middle ground. But the middle is a constantly shifting and nebulous entity because the right and left aren’t fixed and agreed upon points.

    Take a look at corporate news media to see the “right” trashing the “left” and vice versa. It doesn’t take long to see it’s a shit flinging exercise and that both “sides” intentionally mischaracterize the opposition.

  • Why are you twisting my words?

    I don’t have any belief whatsoever in a higher force, especially not the patriarchal version of such which is called Christianity. If a higher force created the conditions and then sits back and watches poor choices unfold (that he already knows the suffering which will result) without intervening, that’s not love or free will, that’s entertainment for a sick mind. It’s sadism and a gross abuse of power.

    Morality is largely subjective and religious morality is an oxymoron. I am against mob mentality enforcing arbitrary rules on conduct. Hold people accountable for harmful behavior directed toward others. Otherwise, you do you and believe whatever you want but you don’t get to enforce your values, morals or ethics on others, lest you end up being the one without choice and a mob chooses and enforces you to behave in ways that go against your morals. Do you see how that works?

  • If god knows everything that will ever happen – omnipotence – free will is a delusion.

    Religion is a tool of social control and morality enforcement, no different in its intent than psychiatry. It’s the rule by the few over the many using shame and fear as its primary weapons to elicit compliance, if not from the individual, then from society writ large.

  • Jesus should be offended!!! Christianity teaches that we have free will and that god is omnipotent and all knowing. Our lives were designed under this model to include all of the suffering we have experienced and it was God’s will because he did nothing to change it.

    The Christian God is a sociopathic megalomaniac by “his” own admission.

  • Steve, when you are diagnosed with an SMI like bipolar or schizophrenia, it’s common for treating therapists to expect med compliance – not necessarily expect all of their patients to be on meds. Sorry, I worded that poorly.

    But it’s still significant because the biomedical genetic theories of mental illness heritability reinforce generational diagnoses and medicating of people with certain diagnoses. In many cases, it’s generational poverty and/or systemic racism (traumas) that keeps families locked into dysfunction and causes the severe distress labeled as these SMIs. But it’s quite common for people with those diagnoses to be expected to be med compliant by virtually the entire medical profession and the mental health professionals and workers such as the nurses, psychotherapists and social workers. Mistaking the physiological effects on the body of the SDOH for severe mental illnesses and requiring those patients to be stable on meds before being willing to talk to them reinforces generational oppression rather than curing illness and protecting the vulnerable.

  • Jesus, I just had a revelation.

    What if the real problem we call “attention deficit disorder” isn’t that a child can’t “pay attention” but that they need to be “paid attention to”. Why is inability to sit still in school or conform to rigid rules in social institutions considered a deficit within the child rather than a deficit within the family and culture?

  • I’m not sure how I missed this article, but MIA just pointed it out to me at the end of another recent article.

    I was one of those children who was shamed for seeking attention. I was the youngest child of two working parents and three much older siblings in the home. I was an “only child” by 12. My siblings left home young and never looked back. A very common refrain growing up was “K*** will take any attention she can get, positive or negative.” They never took this as a sign that I actually needed attention.

    I grew up relatively feral, I was alone much of the time, I wandered the neighborhood alone from a young age, missed a lot of school because no one was home to care if I went, and I missed a lot of meals because my siblings were old enough to fend for themselves and my mother sometimes didn’t come home for several days at a time.

    It does seem like this “attention deficit” carried over into an adult – at least in terms of how I think of my own attention needs. Of course, now we have the put down “attention whore” to shame people’s need for intimacy and connection. I have recently started reaching out to try to form closer relationships and I’ve been rewarded for the effort, but there’s still that nagging voice inside that I’m “bothering” people simply for existing and it still feels like I’m making demands on people’s time.

    I think you bring up really good points about how people end up being shamed and ostracized for simply needing human connection. Thanks, Megan.

  • Rachel, there is a wide variation in what constitutes a “life coach”. Almost anyone can hang out their shingle as a life coach. I have never ran into one that wouldn’t take former mental patients. In fact, in my experience, they’re happy to poach from the psychotherapists because many (if not most) don’t believe in the mental illness paradigm. (Which doesn’t mean they won’t blame you for your problems.)

    Life coaches are probably the least offensive of the lot when comparing the techniques of therapists, coaches and clergy. Personally, I would have preferred a life coach than a therapist because they actually try to help you get your life on track instead of trying to convince you how ill and broken you are.

    Church is second best. Clergy play up god as the primary savior but they may also have resources or know of resources for help.

    The new trend in therapy is to refuse patients who aren’t also in psychiatric care. Therapists are the worst because they are licensed by the state and paid for by medical insurance, or by taxpayers for community mental health centers.

  • Hey Sam,

    If you’re going to live in a glass house, please don’t complain about other people’s generalizations.

    Democrats are NOT the LEFT! The majority of both the democrats I know and the left-wing people I know do indeed practice some form of religious belief.

    As an actual left-wing (Green Party) atheist, I see people like you equating a message condemning religious harm with a left wing political viewpoint, and I wonder: do you understand that religion and politics are separate subjects?

    PacificDawn is condemning religious harm, especially when it’s practiced in medicine and payed for by insurance. I do think that she is right on the money when she says these industries, including religion and “salvation seeking” denigrates the narratives of survivors.

    It would help if you’d address the issues specifically rather than crying for help to have her censored. Denying that religion harms many and suggesting that we have no right to voice those harms puts you on the side of the abusers.

  • Yes, rewriting your own narrative of your life experiences is important to “recovering” your ability to function in this disturbed way of living we have collectively adopted. But there is a huge caveat here that hasn’t been mentioned and that is that the language that is necessary to reframe our experiences in the context of the world we live in is entirely missing from the therapist’s office.

    I learned that my struggles had a larger context when I studied feminism and philosophy and economic systems and a lot of history. I learned this stuff in college and by surrounding myself with other educated people and other activists. I was never aided in this reframing and contextualizing by a therapist because that’s not really what therapists do. Even my favorite theradude who practices Positive Psychology would say lots of nice lovely things about my resilience and perseverance but that still placed the onus of either being well or dysfunctional on me and within me and did not contextualize my distress.

    A reframing of one’s experiences has to happen in conjunction with becoming educated about the systems of oppression that contribute to human misery. That provides a foundation and a framework not just for survival in the face of overwhelming adversity, but the ability to carry those messages to others to help them contextualize and reframe their own narratives.

  • Therapy is a tool to help individuals learn to adapt to adversity so that they can continue to survive under adverse conditions, it’s never been about changing the conditions that caused the adversity.

    I will not assimilate. We must never assimilate to systemic injustices. We are not The Borg.

    Julian Assange was carried out of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London this morning screaming “RESIST!” He is today’s hero. We live in an interventionist culture. Maybe it’s just time to stop the interventions and simply respond to the actual criminal harm being committed against the many by the few.

  • “I never had this expectation that Robert Whitaker’s opinion of the matter had to agree with that of OldHead and KindredSpirit. Who thinks that way?“

    One, I’m somewhat amused to be name dropped with Oldhead as if we are a monolith in lock step with each other. Oldhead and I disagree on plenty of things but we don’t have those conversations publicly so as to allow others opportunities to pit us against each other. That’s just a common sense activist survival skill, Frank. Two, who ever suggested Robert Whitaker had to agree with me and Oldhead? Three, what exactly are we supposed to be agreeing on here? (Please go back to point one so you recall that Oldhead and I actually disagree on things.)

    This is an amusing diversion from the topic though. Asking survivors “what have you done lately?” (The answer is ‘a lot’ and it’s still none of your business) in an attempt to silence criticism is a tactic the oppressors use to divide and conquer, Frank. You become a tool of the oppressors when you engage in such talk.

    I will not stop criticizing positions I see as wrong. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate Bob or his efforts.

  • Bruce, your comments about Laura are the same as I’ve been saying and I appreciate you pointing this out publicly. The criticisms against the article have sounded at times to be personal attacks against Laura as if she had written it or had editorial control over its direction. That said, the parts of the article about Laura were fascinating and heartbreaking and I thought it did a particularly good job of humanizing her where a lot of people might have trouble connecting with someone they see as being so privileged and whose specific troubles they might otherwise not identify with.

    I still wish Laura would take a more bold and clear antipsychiatry stance, but I only hold her to her own words and not what’s written in an article about her.

  • Bob, I think what Sam meant is that your biggest critics are sometimes also among your biggest fans. Praise may not always be as forthcoming as criticism but I think we obviously all appreciate that the platform exists. If we didn’t have different perspectives, there would be nothing to debate and I think we all learn from each other here despite our differences.

  • I don’t think anyone who is benefitting should be forcefully removed from the drugs, as is currently being perpetrated against chronic pain patients and long term benzo users. Physicians could certainly supervise those patients. But banning new prescriptions in drug naieve patients seems more realistic considering we do have an FDA and Consumer Product Safety Commission tasked with ensuring the safety of products and we ought to be able to expect that the drugs and medical devices currently on and those entering the market are indeed safe to use.

  • Well, I didn’t see this as an attack. I heard a bit of dismay because of a message that seemed out of place with the reality of many psych survivors. And criticism isn’t synonymous with attack. Nobody is dissing the good doctor.

  • Hi john, I was similarly disturbed by Dr Breggin’s fluff piece on love and no it didn’t make sense from a psych survivor perspective. I know he meant well and he is an ally but it’s ok to not like everything someone does or to say you didn’t find the piece helpful.

    In my book, love is overrated and many are unnecessarily hurt by mistaking friendship, loyalty, and companionship for amorous love. They confuse feelings for actions. And then we wonder why love hurts when the actions are incongruent with the feelings we thought were love. It’s a trap. Love comes and goes but a rock solid friendship at the core is the basis for the attachment and security so many in the world are lacking.

  • This is a very incisive analysis, Frank. Would that the psychiatrists could think so clearly. The best they seem to be able to come up with is the myth of the dangerous mental patient and their own fear of loss of control over the patient. Plenty among their own ranks admit the chemical imbalance theory is bunk and the pharmaceutical small prints always start with an acknowledgement that they don’t really know how the drugs “work”. Well of course they don’t, because they don’t. This is unscientific at best and openly corrupt at worst.

    The one thing I wish we could agree on was the idea that voluntary psychiatry should also be abolished. When the drugs themselves can cause dangerous changes in thinking that end with violence – against the self or others – shouldn’t those of us who walk around in the public have some protection from the potential acts of those voluntary patients? I can’t see how if psychiatry is unscientific and the treatments can make people violent, how it’s at all ethical or reasonable to allow people to sign up voluntarily.

    Interested in what you think about that.

  • I find it truly ironic that doctors in different disciplines often times pathologize their patients resistance to harmful treatments, and how guild interests are largely to blame.

    Lyme Disease patients are similarly pathologized as either never having been sick to begin with, or were accused of doctor shopping, told were being taken advantage of by quack doctors with harmful unproven treatments, or just that were crazy.

    Cancer patients have been pathologized for refusing harmful chemotherapy regimens despite cancer deaths being accelerated by the toxic cocktails called chemo.

    I’m certain at this point that many disciplines have similar attitudes toward patients. We’re doctors, we know what’s best, in other words.

    I read a suggestion the other day that air passengers would need to organize and essentially unionize in order to prevent have enough collective power to hold companies accountable for fatal design flaws like the Boeing 737 Max aircraft that was changed to an aerodynamic that makes it stall-prone rather than stall-resistant. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that citizens need to unionize our different rights groups into an umbrella organization to create a body so large that we actually have some power to change the way western medicine is delivered, especially as it relates to its sexist and racist research history that leaves women and communities of color with inferior care.

    If we hope to fight back against these harmful narratives, we cannot just be the angry psych patients but instead the informed, loud, and demanding consumer of medical care that we all are. Unscientific treatments must go and they must not continue to be propped up by those who stand to lose the most from their demise – physicians.

    End the corruption. End the medicalization of human distress. It’s time to create a medical system that honors the human experience in all its diversity, including in its justified response to a pathological and toxic world.

  • Hi Krista,

    I ran rescue out of my home actively for 8 years, I volunteered for a feral spay/neuter clinic for several years, I managed a feral colony and I coordinated with other rescuers. I did it all on a shoestring budget and I am intimately familiar with the hard choices everyone in the veterinary and rescue industry face because I’ve faced them. So your schooling on the subject is unecessary and rather rude.

    I have, in fact, worked with multiple entirely selfless vets that would help any pet owner in a pinch. One of them is one of my all time heroes, and was the medical director of the city shelter, which takes in hundreds of animals a day and was one of the early 100% no-kill city shelters.

    The reasons you give are all very diplomatic but what it really boils down to for vets is a very small amount of income. Almost all vets will take in a sick animal whether or not the owner can pay – ethically, they will take it off your hands and either treat or euthanize. A large number will treat the animal and work with a shelter on adoption, giving the shelter a massive discount on fees (yes, I got a great discount on vet fees for being a shelter). These discounts can handily be extended to those who can’t afford to pay just as easily. Vets make a decent percentage of their money from the food they sell under contract from the prescription vet diet companies. Food that’s actually shown to often be quite harmful for animals. Hill’s is known to contain the 4 Ds (a term you should know if you are so into animals). Just like in any other profession, there are vets doing it for the love of animals and vets doing it for money and prestige – veterinary specialties are as lucrative as human specialties. Same problems exist with “thought leaders” and deals with prescription companies. Notice how quickly vets will prescribe a little chemical helper for your anxious four legged angel.

    So, please. Let’s be real if we’re going to debate anything.

  • Kate, I’m so so sorry no one was there for you to help with your cat. Im literally heartbroken to read what happened to you and your kitty. A friend of mine was once in a similar situation where she’d had to leave her cats in her apartment when she went to the hospital precipitously. Her landlord called animal control and they locked up the kitties. But my friend called me and I went to animal control to break them out of kitty jail and care for them while she was away. It grieves me that you did not have that kind of support. I’d like to punch that vet right in the face for telling you to give up your kitty, to be honest. It is so heartbreaking to me when people that can help (like a vet with boarding) instead choose to tell poor people to give up their animals. My cats kept me sane during all the years I was drugged and my dog gives me unconditional love now. I can’t imagine not having her.

    I hope that when you’re ready, you find another kitty companion. You might consider seeing if you can find a rescue that will work with you to agree to foster the kitty if you have to be inpatient. I know when I did rescue and all the rescues I worked with, our policy was to always take back one of our cats we’d adopted out, no questions asked. It seems like you could probably find a rescue that would work with you knowing you may need a hand once in a while. I would have been open to such an arrangement if I’d been asked. So, it’s just a suggestion but you never know what you might be able to arrange with a little negotiation with the right people.

  • A few years ago my theradude said it seemed like I had done DBT on myself. I never particularly cared for the group dynamic and the way DBT is often presented in a way that was ultimately shaming to the person who was genuinely seeking help and wanted to interact in more mature ways. So after a couple attempts to do a DBT group, I just read Linehan’s material and did the big workbook on my own. I used what seemed helpful and dismissed without judgement what didn’t apply to me.

    DBT reminds me a lot of AA’s “working the steps” in terms of its regimented thinking about what a “borderline” or “alcoholic” actually is. It seems to largely start from the perspective that you’ve been a terrible person who needs to fundamentally change how you interact with the world. It’s seems to me that whatever push-pull kind of tendencies I may have don’t need to be thought of as pathological, but rather they make sense as a coping mechanism in response to extreme trauma. So learning more effective ways to communicate and to handle distressing feelings in interpersonal relationships isn’t about being a “better person” to others but finding a way to be happier within myself. And largely AA strikes me the same way. I never did anything worse than send loose-lipped texts when I was drunk – nothing earth shattering. And I don’t need to work the steps to understand that nothing good ever came of getting drunk or that I like getting drunk. The AA foks would call me a dry drunk but I just think it’s rational to not drink and I don’t have to pathologize myself as some kind of bad drunk and participate in the self-shaming circle jerk at meetings in order to police my own self-destructive tendencies.

    I think largely these programs would be much more helpful if they came with some instruction and practice on just speaking honestly with yourself and not judging yourself and then learning to turn that honesty outwards. I think those of us who’ve been subject to trauma (prior to trauma from treatment) could take the “lessons” better if they weren’t delivered with the notion that the way one is currently functioning is fundamentally flawed.

    As for trauma’s effects at the cellular level, I think the research on epigenetic changes in the way our own DNA is expressed as a result of trauma concretely explains why it has such extreme long term health implications. Physical disability from psychological trauma is real. The individual should never be blamed for these effects.

  • Megan, I can relate so much to the family dynamics you describe and the destructiveness to the self that happens when one is scapegoated for the family dysfunction. Kudos to you for standing up for yourself, as hard as that is. I hope you and your sister are able to both recognize and resolve your issues and restore a loving sisterly bond. I haven’t spoken with my sisters in a very long time and that brings a different kind of pain I wouldn’t wish upon you.

    Thank you for sharing more of your story and for the message to place blame where it belongs rather than shrinking from the idea that anyone could be to blame. When you’re on the receiving end of misplaced blame, it’s so important to take your story back and own your own life’s narrative. And it’s wonderful to model that for others whenever possible, as you’ve so eloquently done here.

  • Hi johnchristine,

    I just wanted to say that I enjoy your commentary, and completely agree with all that you’ve posted here about the state of things in the world and some of the political events and players that led us here. Your comments remind me very much of some of my favorite “news” comedians – Jimmy Dore, Lee Camp, and their ilk – with directly calling things out for how they are without pulling punches or beating around the bush as if their were some silver lining to be found among all the corruption. I won’t pretend to understand what you’re currently struggling with but I wanted to let you know I appreciate what you’ve been writing here.

  • Kate, your story reminds me of a stay I had on a long term term trauma unit where they kept suggesting that my boyfriend coming to visit daily was somehow interfering with my progress in treatment. They didn’t provide any context as to what they meant and I’m really bad at reading between the lines. Then when I finally left him after ten years and my psychiatrist told me how relieved she was that I finally moved on and my best friend told me she and her husband couldn’t stand my ex and I wanted to just start screaming at everyone WHY DIDN’T ANYONE SAY SOMETHING??? It really made no sense to me that for ten years I was in this awful relationship not recognizing the gaslighting and the way he was manipulating and controlling me into being “multiple” and nobody once made any kind of specific charge that might have empowered me to leave him sooner. The most I ever got from anyone was the people on that one unit suggesting politely that he might be holding up my progress in treatment.

    I can also relate to the whole concept of being treated by family as if you’re just a spoiled brat. This was the dynamic I grew up with too and I have no doubt that if my toxic siblings had ever been involved in my therapy as an adult that they’d make the same charge still. I’ve been the family scapegoat for so long it’s almost comical at this point. This year will mark twenty years since I’ve spoken to my next oldest sister who participated the most in blaming me as the baby of the family for our familiy’s dysfunction. This speaks to that whole “shit flows downhill” concept that’s come up in recent discussions.

    I do find more and more, the older I get, that I don’t have the mental energy for these impossible victim blaming dynamics. Anyway, it’s good to see you posting again. Those of us who see this system for what it is and are willing to keep calling it out need to stick together. While some commenters around here are content to sycophantically suck up to professionals and participate in victim blaming in exchange for positive attention from their former captors, I left that behavioral dynamic behind with the drugs and treatments.

  • The excuse that truly makes me sick to my stomach is when people say that child molesters are mentally ill and can’t help themselves. In fact, the whole business of civil commitment after completing a prison sentence for sexual assault of minors (and sometimes violent rapists) goes along this line of thinking – that there is a mental defect and the perpetrators are incapable of change so better lock them up forever.

    We have forgotten – with psychiatry and with civil commitment after prison – to simply hold people accountable for their behavior. Instead, the new labeling system will put you in the appropriate bucket and you will never escape that because you are immutable and incapable of being anything other than severely mentally ill, deviant and disordered. Forever.

  • I’d like to throw in that we are, as citizens, propagandized to by the news media and by celebrity activists who participate in the “I Love My Diagnosis!” game. The news that Any Schumer dropped about her husband’s late-in-life “autism” diagnosis was in my news feed this morning and I find it profoundly insensitive when massively successful people hop on the bandwagon of the “disordered” as if it’s an exclusive club they’ve been admitted to.

    https://www.yahoo.com/amphtml/entertainment/amy-schumers-autism-awareness-day-post-upsets-parents-should-we-pretend-having-autism-is-awesome-141052238.html

  • To everyone who may have read this comment thread between Daniel Smith and I and who were offended or hurt by my use of the term “Uncle Tom”, I want to offer my sincerest apology and say I am deeply remorseful for any pain or upset that I caused by being so insensitive.

    It was brought to my attention that this term is racially charged and I regret, after reading about the history and literary context of the term, that I used it in a way that was profoundly insensitive and (unintentionally) racist.

    I would especially like to apologize to those in the community of color who were harmed by my using this term so carelessly. I understand I was wrong and I hope you will accept my sincerest apology, and that it will help to heal the harm my words caused.

  • I have rarely read so many unjustified attacks against my character in all the time I’ve been commenting here.

    This is vile and shameful and so profoundly unprofessional I’m simply speechless.

    I made so many concessions and explained how patients could even be defensive and protective of kind nurses. I thanked Daniel for calling out areas he thought I was wrong so I could explain.

    This is exactly the kind of targeting and pathologizing crap from those in the industry that I have been protesting and your words are both untrue and hurtful.

    Please do comment again, as many times as you’d like. I could care less about having the last word and will remember to avoid you in the future.

  • You walked into this by taking someone else’s story of harm from abusive mental health workers personally. What you did would be the same as if someone called out abusive parents as a group and you came in to defend the idea that not all parents are bad. It wasn’t about you until you responded to someone else as if you’d been personally attacked. You can’t even own up to your own participation here. This is why we call this crap out.
    SomeoneElse’s comment wasn’t about you.

  • Or the cake is what they got from the food bank. One time I went to a food bank around Easter and they had no actual food but they were happy to send me home with a large bag of Easter candy.

    We act as if everyone has the same resources, knowledge, opportunities, time, innate abilities, physical health, etc to “take responsibility for themselves”.

    Some people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Some people don’t have boots. It’s not a hard concept to grasp.

  • I also do think it’s a bit odd to suggest there isn’t a character difference between the person who witnesses injustice and speaks up vs the person who witnesses injustice and looks the other way.

    I have also been on the receiving end of abuse from the “sitters”, and nurses (usually the LPNs and aides), and social workers that Julie referred to above. They are complicit. There’s no way around that. It’s just that we accept that “shit flows downhill” rather than seeing those below us as being in our care, our charge. How is it ever okay to inflict harm on those beneath you simply because you’re also near the bottom of the pile.

    The whole “look out for #1”, look out for yourself first, has really far surpassed whatever usefulness the idea of putting your own oxygen mask on first might have had to offer. We live in times where many only look out for number 1 under the perverted excuse that they have nothing left to risk. I do not accept that as a valid excuse for participating in harm.

  • Well I have to admit that I’m absolutely astounded at the words you’re putting in my mouth.

    Yes, if those at the bottom will not act in solidarity with the rest of the oppressed, they are siding with the oppressors and I don’t have sympathy or time for that. And asking me as someone who’s had the stuffing knocked out of me in my life to accommodate people who would take the easy way even as I fight tooth and claw for freedom and equality is the height of bullshit.