Saturday, January 19, 2019

Comments by kindredspirit

Showing 100 of 654 comments. Show all.

  • Facebook does not exist as a public service. It is a data collection and advertising revenue generation company that functions solely to collect and aggregate data for sale to the highest bidder. They track you around the internet (as many websites do) in order to gain as many data points about your life and behavior as possible so as to extract as many dollars from as many consumers as they possibly can.

    Once you realize that Facebook (and other social media, and in fact most information disseminating sources such as tv and radio) exist not to give you relevant information or help you keep in touch with others, but in order to use you for maximum profit, when you realize what a scam it all is, it’s easier to walk away.

    I don’t see any difference between people like Martin Skrelli and Mark Zuckerberg. I think they are both crooks.

  • “Everyone has their place in society.”

    Frankly that’s just another variation on the bootstrap theory. And so despite agreeing with the insights I shared above about what’s wrong with the ‘timeline we’re cursed to be stuck in’*, it’s still so very easy to justify the current state of affairs with quips about pioneers and everyone occupying their place in society. I’m not really directing this at you, Alex, because I realize this is cherry-pocked from the rest of your reply. But I have to challenge this because it’s a widely held and, I believe, harmful concept.

    What I’m fighting for is a revolution where people live in equity rather than accepting the current status quo of there being winners and losers so that everyone “has their place”.

    I am not a patriotic American. I don’t care about the “pioneers” who stole this land from its inhabitants, killed and enslaved its peoples and systematically destroyed the land we’ve occupied for such a short period of time.

    I do not place a value on productivity, which is largely what got us into the consumerist capitalist world domination quagmire we now live in and which separates the “successful” from the “undeserving”.

    Though labeled American, I consider myself a world citizen and am largely ashamed of this culture’s ignorance of other cultures’ values and this culture’s obsession with money and things and how capitalism has twisted “success” to mean the accumulation of money and things rather than the nurturing of human relationships and caring for each other . And I’m particularly disturbed by the fact that so many people are so unhappy and so many express a desire to make changes that simplify their lives and create more meaningful lives worth living, and yet money and power and control still rule.

    Divide and conquer. We each have our place after all, right?

    *this line is lifted directly from a article about the Netflix show Travelers. Cursed indeed!

  • Alex, I agree in principle because bar one, every unit I’ve been on has been unpleasant, coercive and punitive.

    But man, the place with the volleyball team, ice cream parlor, movie theatre, social events, that one wasn’t too bad. I mean, it was locked. But the treatment was actually humane otherwise. I didn’t want to go home from that unit.

    Thinking about this more now, I wonder how much of the negative practices are intentionally built into the system to discourage people without better options from deciding staying locked up is better than say, being out in the cold homeless and impoverished.

    Underlying the freedoms we supposedly have in America is also a strong work ethic that has evolved into this kind toxic rugged individualism that I’ve brought up before. A lot of people and personality types get left behind in this kind of societal structure.

    And in fact, this kind of “prison can’t be too nice of a place” I think seeps into all imprisonment practices. Money has really messed up human priorities because a lot of the dehumanizing harsh practices are justified by the concept that people need protection from the mentally ill, that were potentially dangerous, and that we don’t deserve nice things. In a country where poor people can’t buy a birthday cake with food stamps without being criticized for their food choices, it’s easy to see why the care of throwaways (criminals, mentally ill, developmentally disabled, etc) is so bad. There has to be public political willpower to treat people fairly and humanely.

    An awful lot of exploited workers don’t feel like they are treated humanely, feel like they have to work endless hours just to make ends meet, they don’t understand why prisoners get tv or why crazy people are deserving of things they can’t afford.

    Divide and conquer.

  • You mentioned advertisements though and one thing to note is that US airwaves (both tv and radio) are heavily saturated with advertising and that tends to be much more strictly regulated throughout most of the rest of the world. The deregulation of the FCC in the 1990s has led to a kind of market based advertising scheme and created an environment where what we see and hear on tv and radio is heavily controlled by corporate advertising and sponsorship. So it’s much easier to manipulate the American public or prevent issues or news stories from ever being aired because an advertiser can just threaten to pull their dollars.

    One thing most of the rest of the world doesn’t see are pharmaceutical ads, for example. Is there any wonder that the chemical imbalance theory (and biomedical model in general) lives on when we the American public are constantly bombarded with extremely misleading advertising about medicines being effective to treat mental distress?

  • Preschoolers are taught how to safely wield an ax in Finland. I’m not sure there can be any direct and meaningful comparison of cultural values between the Fins and Americans.

    However, when it comes to TV, viewing habits in terms of average daily minutes the TV is on is highest in US but not by far.

    Here’s an article showing the US at the top of the list with most minutes watched. You can see many western countries watch almost as much. Finland is not on the graph in this article but the second link has its minute numbers for each year from 2007-2017, for your comparison.

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/276748/average-daily-tv-viewing-time-per-person-in-selected-countries/#0

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/276748/average-daily-tv-viewing-time-per-person-in-selected-countries/#0

  • When you take the law into your own hands with vigilante justice, you deprive the harmed patient the right to face their abuser in a court of law. You are no longer your patient’s advocate. You’re a criminal. I know some people can’t understand this concept and the actions of those few cause a lot more regulatory harm to come to patients as a result.

  • It isn’t actually because of HIPPA, thought a lot of hospital administrators hide behind that excuse. There are units, few and far between, that allow patients more freedoms, such as phone use and internet access. MacLean in Massachusetts has some rather liberal rules on phone and internet access, for example. At least on some units.

    Did you know that there are unlocked units for celebrities and people who can afford to cash pay? Right smack in the middle of otherwise entirely locked psychiatric hospitals, there are units that treat you humanely if you can afford it. The Retreat at Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore is one such unit.

    One of the issues is insurance regulations. For insurance to pay, your stay must be medically necessary. If you are stable enough that you can walk out safely and be trusted, insurance doesn’t consider you sick enough to pay for your treatment. Once again, capitalism is the underlying mechanism used to justify these practices, not privacy.

  • What if there was no abuse on psychiatric units whatsoever. What if they were staffed with kind caring people and there was no coercion of any kind other than forcing people to be there. Would that make detention of targeted peoples ok?

    I don’t think it’s merely the people running the asylum that make asylums bad. If you can’t leave it’s still prison.

    We seem to be going down the path of targeting solely the bad actors involved instead of targeting the institution which imprisons people either in the name of medicine or in the name of public safety.

  • That’s not always true anymore as more inmates are indefinitely civilly committed to forensic psychiatric units after *completing* their prison terms.

    This began with sex offenders and was pretty easy to implement because everyone justifiably hates sex offenders, but this is going to be more widely applied, you mark my words. It’s been upheld by the US Supreme Court as constitutional and doesn’t violate double jeopardy laws.

    So let me be clear, even after completing your potentially decades long prison sentence, you then get faced with a civil commitment proceeding and deemed to be too dangerous too release.

    There is a slippery slope ongoing since the Clintons “tough on crime” approach to winning Americans hearts. It’s why the US imprisons (criminally or psychiatrically) many times more people than the rest of the world, and exponentially more percentage-wise considering population differences between us and other countries Americans themselves consider to have punitive and controlling laws such as China and Russia.

    Let freedom ring, indeed.

  • Hey Alex, I didn’t mean to direct that vengeance comment at you personally, some comment threads are getting mixed up here and I don’t at all in any way think that exposing abuses is vengeful behavior, unlike say, hiring thugs to beat people up, which is where I think the topic of not acting with vengeance came up today.

    I don’t think that effective, institutional disrupting activism is best fueled by vengeance. Vengeance tends to create bigger messes rather than systemic change. I don’t think the people still in the system are best helped with escalating the violence.

    I do like your delineating the difference between being vindictive and being vindicated. Totally different concepts despite being similar sounding words. It does help to be vindicated in a system that tends to give its victims (experiencers) the last and least say on issues that impact them most.

  • Alex, I don’t disagree with any of what you wrote there. And of course, don’t misunderstand me. Humanizing someone complicit in oppressive (or criminal) behavior doesn’t amount to excusing their behavior. It’s simply a gentle reminder of why we don’t want to be just like them by feeding our human lust for vengeance.

  • The woman that did this, in her zealous hunt for child molesters, caused her very young patients to be further molested by medical doctors, including me. My exam was preceded by a sunburn on my face, despite telling her I had helped my dad build a fence and my face was peeling from a sunburn (and, you know, we had a new fence as evidence to show for it), she believes instead that this is evidence that my face has been beaten, and takes it upon herself with zero judicial oversight, to have my private parts examined by a medical doctor unbeknownst to my parents. After writing all of this out, I’m no longer convinced she ever had good intentions, but she clearly had an agenda to get people convicted for child molestation, by any means necessary.

    I know she hurt me and lots of other kids, and I know she hasn’t paid for it. That was 1985, And the people involved later in the little rascals case lost years of their life in prison due to her, only later to have all of their convictions tossed because of her fraud.

    http://pitjournal.unc.edu/article/little-rascals-case-case-regulating-children’s-testimony

    Some of you are old enough to remember this case as a national scandal in the early 90s. Do you support doctors physically examining small children’s genitals? If we’re going to talk about necessary evils and people doing things that harm thinking they’re helping, let’s do it.

    I don’t believe the people causing this harm, even Michelle Zimmerman herself, had the idea that they were causing harm, and even if they did, they’d probably say it was in my best interest. And I think a lot of people would back them up, saying an exam for evidence of sexual molestation was simply a necessary evil and not an institutional harm.

  • And as far as patients narking on you, that also has a lot to do with the general attitude of the milieu. There’s less tendency for patient solidarity on units with high turnover. But I’ve been a couple places that had longer term stays and there can be a surprising amount of patient solidarity and people looking out for each other.

    A lot of these things are highly variable depending on locale. On one longer term unit I was on, a prized nurse who everyone loved was seriously injured by a patient and that patient found themself extremely isolated and unprotected quite suddenly. There is often a secret society in units that even the staff are unaware of what’s going on underneath. Most times, in my personal experience, patients don’t get snitched on unless the person snitching is looking for favors (like a way out) or the person who is snitched on has harmed another patient. It’s not a lot different from the prison underworld.

    You do bring up a good point in that people need to be careful to know what things they do could potentially harm them.

  • Stephen, you’re right in that patients and families should be aware of the particular unit’s search policies – both of rooms and bodies. I managed to hide my phone for several weeks on that unit. Other units I would surely not have risked it due to stricter policies and more intrusive searches. This was at a private hospital where visitors could actually go into patient rooms, so it had a much more lax set of policies.

    There are units that actually allow cell phones, which I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t been told by a patient who’d been there and then looked it up. And there are even those bizarre units that allow internet access to the patients. Shocking, I know.

    I’ve been on a wide spectrum of units and there were places I wouldn’t have dared risked breaking the rules. I’ve been instate hospitals where the patient life was pretty decent with sports teams and an ice cream parlor and movie theatre off unit. Other states hospital psych units look much more like a prison dormitory than a mental health unit.

  • Rachel, you’re correct that much of the abuses are incorporated into acceptable standard of care.

    When I was five, my genitals were examined by a physician under the direction of my court ordered psychotherapist. Her name was Michelle Zimmerman and as an aside she was famous for her participation in The Little Rascals daycare pedophile case, all of whom were accused maintained their innocence, and many of the children she questioned later recanted or said they’d been led to their statements with her method of questioning.

    She very much hurt me because for one thing, here were the good guys touching my genitals in a way that sent my brother to jail. How is a five year old supposed to square these things as okay in one case and abuse in another? But I believe that an awful lot of people would defend the sexual exams of minors as a necessary evil in the collection of evidence of a possible crime. THIS is how good people are led to unwittingly do harm and then even if they do realize they’ve done harm, it still takes an extraordinary strength of chafacter to face that and publicly push for change.

    I consider the sexual exam I had in the hospital emergency room when I ran away to be nothing more than medically sanctioned rape. Would everyone?

    These are extreme examples but I believe they are good examples of how things that are meant to help inadvertently cause a great deal of harm.

  • Alex, I think it helps to separate the institution from the individual and also to divorce the ideas of good and bad from being all encompassing. In my experience, otherwise good people do bad things pretty much all the time, white lies, speeding, not telling a store clerk they’ve given you too much change, etc. Humans have a remarkable capacity for justifying harmful behaviors when they think it “isn’t so bad”. And so then it becomes a matter of judging the individual, their motives, and the degree of harm they caused rather than classifying entire groups of people as being all bad. We can separate the evil of the institution of psychiatry without tarnishing all of its unwitting participants as evil.

    Let’s remember that most of the people employed in the industry started out with good intentions and many probably are not internally saying “I’m okay with hurting this patient”, but probably saying internally “this really sucks but the patient will be better off drugged/treated even if forcefully”. We all have an internal narrative.

    In some ways it’s like the parent who hits their child in the mistaken belief that it’s instilling long term positive values. And the majority of parents who hit their children admit to going too far on occasion out of anger. The whole idea of this is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you is probably at play here in explaining why more people don’t necessarily see their actions as abusive even if they wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end.

    And I also suspect that fear of reprisal, fear of loss of status, loss of career, etc, very human things to tackle with, keep a lot of good people from speaking out.

    Let’s remember that whistleblowers are not generally treated very well in this era. The author of this blog has risked her career to speak up. That should come with accolades, but could very well result in extreme loss of income, loss of professional status, professional censureship, and targeting as potentially mental.

  • There’s also the possibility of personal growth and the realization that vengeance (whether on earth or in a theoretical “afterlife”) is not a particularly helpful concept when you realize that most harm done is a response to having been harmed. The jailer is chained to his role almost as surely as the prisoner, for once he realizes the horrors he’s committed, it takes an incredible bravery and inner fortitude (and an ability to forgive oneself) to take on the system in which he has been complicit.

    Love won’t save the world as the great Dr Breggin would have us believe, but I do believe that nurturing one’s inner capacity for compassion and forgiveness is a more productive position to operate from than feeding the thirst for revenge.

  • The only difference between a pedophile and a heartless sadist afflicting abuse to patients who can’t escape is the choice of victim. Both victims are in a position of trusting their caretakers and having that trust violated.

  • Labels of antisocial personality disorder and sociopathy were used to push three strikes laws and lifetime incarceration for criminals, to label them as super predators. Using labels such as SMI to permanently imprison in a psychiatric unit or civally commit someone to treatment in the community is just the logical extension of ideas American society already holds about the genetic nature of behavior. It’s the same “bad blood” tactic used against the Tuskegee Syphilis patients.

  • Put it on Youtube AFTER the patient is safely out of the unit, or distribute it to news channels if the patient is still detained. Anyone making my life harder and abuse more likely by disturbing the doctors outside of legal assistance won’t be welcome in my life. I’ve had people on the outside try to “help” when I was being given a toxic dose of lithium. All it did was get me transferred and that person barred from contacting me so that they had to start using an alias to get letters through.

    Family can really make life difficult for patients on the inside if they are wreckless with their attempts to “help”. I’d rather have no help at all.

    I did have a boyfriend sneak in an iPhone to me on a unit once. This would be a good tactic for families wanting to help because the patient can surreptitiously record when visitors aren’t on the unit, when staff aren’t on their best behavior. Most hospitals have wifi that visitors can access so even a phone without a SIM chip can be used to upload videos to the internet. In cases of current ongoing abuse, this may work better than just using hidden cameras alone and will bolster any legal case.

    I always think that these kinds of tactics need to be carefully thought through on an individual basis to prevent further institutional harm coming to the patient the family or friends are trying to assist.

    You can also cause a hospital to lose it’s Medicare funding by appealing Medicare payment and using videos of abuse as evidence.

  • Yes. I suspect the majority of patients can identify with even a small amount of fear and uncertainty (if not outright panic) when those industrial hospital doors slam shut and locked behind them, knowing they are now completely at the mercy of their treatment team. Those who go in voluntarily are desperately seeking “help” and “help” begins with stripping the patient of agency, human rights, and dignity. Control begins with dehumanization.

    For the parents reading this, your child will almost certainly be strip searched “for their safety”. They may be forced to undergo a sexual abuse screening, with or without law enforcement in the room, and you don’t have to be told that a strange doctor will be examine your daughter’s vagina without your consent. Even if they don’t undergo a full penetrative medical exam with law enforcement in the room, children are often still made to bend over and “spread em” like adult criminals entering prison. I have been exposed to these dehumanizing sexual assaults on both juvenile and adult units. Your daughters may not forgive you for this, fair warning.

    They have to lock the units because 100% of everyone wants to go home and shower after they’ve been strip searched by strangers in the name of “help”. Strip searches are disturbingly common, with more or less dignity offered depending on how burnt out or sadistic the staff on duty happen to be.

  • It would be really helpful if MIA would organize a section of this website dedicated solely to book reviews such as this one in order for patients and families to easily find a collated resource of reading materials related to the goals of Mad in America. There are many authors here: Levine, Brogan, Breggin, etc, and I don’t see an obvious link to an easily accessible collection of titles right now.

    Speaking directly to Bob and team, I hope that a virtual “reading room” of sorts might be something you’d consider worth making the time to create, and perhaps in future book reviews, a link to “further reading” with a page dedicated to titles of interest to MIA readers, such as the titles previously chosen for review, might be considered. It seems like a ‘Reading Room’ could be tucked under the Editorial link and would be a valuable resource to those looking for additional titles of interest.

  • It’s interesting what I’ve learned since my Lyme Disease diagnosis, especially about its frequent coinfections. For example, Bartonellosis is a common tick-borne infection that can be transmitted with or without cooccuring Lyme infection. Bartonella is known to cause “rage attacks”. Children are the most frequently infected with tick borne infections because of the greater amount of time spent playing outdoors in tick habitat. Why aren’t children being tested for infectious diseases that cause these symptoms? The answer is that labeling them with mental illness and treating them with long term psychotropics is far more profitable than trying to find an underlying medical problem or identify the social factors contributing to a child’s hostility and impulsivity.

    Divide and conquer, always.

  • The system is set up to divide and conquer so that the patients who go voluntarily and whose behaviors are less violative of others rights will see other patients as more deserving to be there and fundamentally this helps them keep patients at each other’s throats as well.

    If they set up the game so that some patients histories of abuse and adversity can be disregarded as tertiary to an underlying illness of the brain that would have happened anyway, then they can justify locking up those psychiatric prisoners and subjecting them to brain damaging yet profitable “treatments”.

    What they don’t say is that those who just have “behavior issues” instead of illness can also be locked up. But if it’s just their behavior is bad, where do those people go? Prison. The only difference between the psychiatric inmate and the criminal is that the psychiatric inmate is locked up pre-crime.

    The same divide and conquer tactics are used in our political system to divide people into good and bad, contributors and takers, deserving and undeserving. It’s all very plain to see for anyone willing to examine the underlying social forces and actors involved. If the system weren’t set up to pit groups of people against each other, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

  • SomeoneElse, I don’t mean to nitpick because you always have such an important point with this and it bears repeating frequently for the newcomers, but I’d like to add a caveat that even our offenders in prison, guilty or not, are overwhelmingly victims of adverse childhood experiences and a great deal of them came in contact at some point during their childhood with the foster care system, also incredibly abusive and further damaging to most children in it.

    While there is a big difference between someone harming themselves and someone harming others, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between imprisonment in psychiatric hospitals, with the lifelong labels that are attached and it’s forced treatments and forced compliance, and imprisonment in criminal lockup. And in fact, this high rate of ACEs in prisoners is why the US prison system is also the largest mental health system in the country.

    While criminals absolutely should serve their time and be isolated from the community they have harmed until they can safely be reintegrated, they are overwhelmingly people who have been dehumanized and locked away because of their crimes and behaviors which very often have the same roots as those who end up in civil commitment to mental hospitals.

    Once you realize that the etiology is so often the same between criminal and non criminal mental distress, you can begin to rehumanize those whom our society (specifically the US in this case) has decided are worth less dignity, care and concern than even abused animals are afforded, and see them as damaged humans worthy of love and care and investment with tax dollars toward the goal of rehabilitating them because our current system of locking them up indefinitely is too expensive and also isn’t working.

  • Credible threats are also legally actionable, including restraining orders that ultimately prevent the family member from visiting the patient. Threats can also lead to the treatment team considering the family member a danger to the patient, perhaps leading to an adult care order for someone considered vulnerable.

    The only threat that has any validity is the threat of legal action. A good tactic in cases of forced hospitalization would be for the patient’s family to hire an attorney to represent the patient, and to silently document abuses that can be brought to the attention of medical boards and law enforcement.

  • Thank you for your willingness to witness and share this powerful personal story of your experience. Patient and family stories stories are easily dismissed as anecdotes, one offs. And patient groups are so often split into the good vs bad patients, with the implication that harsher treatment for the bad patients is more acceptable or somehow less illegal. It’s so important, for change to occur, that the professional staff witnessing these abuses speak up and voice the outrage these injustices should elicit in all who hear about them. Your courage is commendable.

    “Internally I wonder why, by that logic, they don’t just put all of these people down.”

    Let’s not forget the Nazi Aktion T4 program which did exactly that at a time when forced sterilization of “defectives” was the law in the United States. No one should fool themselves into thinking these things can’t happen again.

  • Abrianna,

    I apologize for saying that you do not deserve sympathy for the abuse you have encountered. I do not agree with many of the views you have espoused in your essay, in the comments section, or on your website. I think you have a lot of listening and learning to do to incorporate more than your own experiences into your world view, but it was wrong of me to write you off entirely based on beliefs you have developed due to your traumas, however erroneous and ultimately harmful to others those beliefs may be. I could have handled myself more diplomatically and instead I let the argument get out of control. Please forgive me for that.

    I’d like to welcome you to the community and hope you will continue to both share and to listen so that you may gain a deeper insight into the causes of your distress which ultimately leads to long-term healing and happiness for you.

  • You’re so right. I’m sorry. Since I’m clearly the only person who objected to this, I’ll just apologize and go on my way now. I’m sure I was only overreacting based on my label. How wrong of me. I can see now the error of my ways.

    For the record, THIS IS SARCASM!

  • No one ever invalidated the abuse you have experienced. But I and others object to you targeting a whole class of people with unscientific assertions based on a narrow interpretation of your experiences.

    Your story would have been received very well here if not for the hateful commentary about people labeled with personality disorders, people with drug addictions, people experiencing psychosis. You seem to be under the impression that 75% of psychiatric inmates are bad terrible mean abusers. There is no scientific justification or rationale for these assertions, just the ramblings of someone who has been victimized.

    Anyone paying attention will know that the Groveland Four were just pardoned 70 years after their ordeal. It behooves ALL of us to call out sweeping generalizations because what they experienced is the logical result of how it plays out in the real world when we assign our troubles to a boogeyman instead of holding the individuals who harmed us to account.

  • You’re right, sometimes you mess up and the right thing to do would be to own the mistake and apologize instead of doubling down on the nasty commentary against a fellow subset of patients.

    It is possible to say everything you’ve said about your own experiences, even those of being abused by fellow patients, without targeting an entire diagnostic group. I was raped as a teen by three black boys. I don’t go around calling all black men rapists. You target the individuals that hurt you, but don’t color everyone with a diagnosis with the same brush or you are behaving the same way as those who have done harm to you.

    I would suggest you stick around and read the comments on other articles and get a feel for the place before making any more sweeping statements about anything or anyone.

  • Yes and I caught your comment above about the post being previously published under an associate’s name.

    I agree with your description of the mention of personality disorders as being “gratuitously offensive” with no added value to the rest of the story.

  • Would you please stop making this about me? It isn’t about me and it IS insulting that you’re implying that I’m reacting to a personal label. I don’t give a shit about the few clinicians (out of the dozens I’ve seen) that suggested I had borderline because I cut myself (a LONG time ago). Borderline is not the label I object to. Borderline doesn’t get you forcibly medicated with antipsychotics, antidepressants, and “mood stabilizers”. The label that bothers me is bipolar. Nobody gives a shit about people labeled borderline. The mental health system doesn’t bother borderline labeled people (mostly women). My objection is based on an entire class of “personality disordered” people being targeted. The author has adjusted her position several times throughout the comments and sometimes sounds reasonable and sometimes doubles down on the unscientific rhetoric about personality disordered people as if she’s some kind of expert.

    I realize she is new and still believes in her labels. That doesn’t mean I have to make space for bigoted commentary about a fellow group of marginalized people. All of the negative comments made about people she sees as different from herself reduce the impact of the clearly terrible things that she’s survived. I wish her story had been focused solely on her own experiences rather than trying to present herself as one of the “good” patients.

  • Well let’s step back from the wild assumption that objecting to whole classes of people being vilified is a silly overreaction to an insult. You don’t have to be black to object to racism. You don’t have to be poor to object to class inequality. You don’t have to identify as someone struggling with or wrongly labeled with a personality disorder to object to the vilification of all such labeled people.

    “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” – Martin Neimoller

  • Your definition of complex ptsd is also entirely wrong. I had therapy throughout my childhood, as do many other sexual abuse victims targeted as the identified patient in their dysfunctional families.

    All of these comments you’ve made about the nature of various disorders are conjecture without any scientific basis.

  • Well having spent a fair amount of time on psychiatric units, including state hospitals in three different states, children’s psychiatric hospitals in two states, and many adult units on both freestanding psych hospitals and psychiatric units within acute care hospitals , I can say, respectfully that this is some of the stinkiest cow manure I’ve ever read on this site. There is no scientific basis for calling psychotic people mean. Furthermore, this started as a claim that it was the personality disordered patients that were bad, now has grown to include the psychotic patients.

  • This has nothing to do with the small number of bad apples often found on psych wards. These people live amongst us. They exist in every niche of society at every socioeconomic level from bankers and lawyers to petty criminals and scam artists. Bad behavior should be called out and punished.

    Lumping all “personality disordered” people into the same bin is intellectually dishonest, mean, unscientific, and shameful on the part of someone attempting to tell a story that would otherwise be sympathetic if she weren’t in fact, targeting another group of patients in order to lend herself more legitimacy as a harmed person. She’s no more harmed than any other improperly labeled survivor of the harmful institution known as psychiatry.

    I’m far from the only one that has felt this essay was problematic. Shoving other psychiatric survivors under the bus isn’t a good way to introduce yourself around here.

  • I’m not surprised to see you rejected by NYT. Counterpunch is the only news outlet I pay for. NYT (and it’s main competitor, WaPo) are best used for toilet paper and fire starter. Rarely, a sane op-ed comes out of those two.

    As for Ketamine, well I just have to say it once again goes to show that drugs are bad unless and until they come from a doctor /pharma or are otherwise taxed and regulated so as to benefit the state like alcohol and legal cannabis are.

    While I believe all drugs should be legal (and addiction treated as a public health instead of a criminal issue) I don’t believe for a second that ketamine is the answer to my depression but I’ll bet someone along the way is making a profit (or a name for themselves in research) off of it as a newfound “treatment”. I also have to wonder if there will soon be a legal to illegal pipeline for ketamine the way there currently exists for prescribed opioid dependency leading to heroin use. Ketamine doesn’t permanently erase depression. What’s going to happen to users who lose access? PCP and/or illicit ketamine on the streets for some of them would be a logical assumption.

    Thanks for raising the alarm about ketamine, Bruce.

  • “Also by definition, most substance abusers are criminals”

    Honestly, I’m not sure whether to be disturbed or laugh out loud. I do enjoy looking back on those diagnoses of “cannabis use disorder” in my old records now that I’m a legal registered cannabis patient. I did not get caught up in the opioid crisis only by the chance happenstance that opioids make me feel awful so I have refused then almost entirely despite being in severe pain for many years. When I told my new doctor that I was a registered patient, her response was not to label me as a drug addict, as doctors had done before cannabis was legalized for medical use in my state. No, her response was “THANK GOD YOU HAVE SOMETHING FOR THE PAIN!”

    Some criminal I am huh? It just happens that I’m both a severe child abuse victim and someone who has had undiagnosed Lyme disease for many years so I have had more than my fair share of being blamed for my circumstances, being treated as a criminal because the justice code still contains laws against cannabis whose origins are known to both be racist and to have favored the sisel industry over the hemp industry, and being targeted as disordered because I dare speak truth to injustice.

    I really really do not appreciate the level of shaming and blaming going in the article and in these comments. Steve, I understand you’re trying to be diplomatic but frankly everyone at MIA is asleep on the job right now. The moral compass of this website is currently broken.

  • I stopped caring about the abuse inflicted upon you when you attempted to differentiate yourself from the Other patients in order to gain further sympathy for your situation. And in fact, some would call this triangulating and manipulative on your part and consider it evidence of being personality disordered.

    You can present your case without shaming other patients but you chose not to.

    The fact that this got past the editors shows a serious lapse of judgement at MIA. Shame on all involved.

    Having a gruff, cynical, jaded, and untrusting personality is often used to diagnose difficult patients as having a disordered personality but being untrusting is not the same as untrustworthy and is not the same as being manipulative, lying, stealing, cheating, or otherwise criminally bad behavior which separates those in distress from those harming others willfully.

    Your description of those unfairly labeled with personality disorders again, is shameful. You do not deserve the sympathy you withhold from other equally harmed and labeled patients.

  • “These people don’t have mental disorders, they have personality disorders. Which means they are manipulative, sadistic, dishonest, violent and emotional.”

    I just want it to be clear where I stopped reading. Shaming one group of patients by using the weaponized labels and definitions of psychiatric diagnoses against them while trying to gain sympathy for the “good” patients is victim blaming. It’s not okay when it comes from medicine and it’s not okay when it comes from survivors.

  • With all due respect Dr Breggin, I am not going to address this point by point because I understand that this was written with the best of intentions but I found most of it problematic. I have to say it’s the deepest pile of psychobabble and “change your mind change your life” kind of feel good self help advice that survivors of psychiatric abuse have largely had enough of. I don’t need anyone else to tell me I need an attitude adjustment – just a little more love – or how my own fears or some such are precluding my finding love. However well intentioned, this is so overly simplistic and woo woo it’s hard to believe it was actually presented seriously and wasn’t instead saved for a light hearted Valentine’s Day blog.

    What people really need is for the self help gurus to start passing out actual boots instead of merely suggesting ways to feel better when it’s freezing. Love and mindfulness don’t prevent frostbite. We need fundamental changes at the most basic levels to change a societal structure and economic system that is currently harmful to almost all who participate in it.

    One last note, if we are to receive instruction on how to survive the injustices of the world we live in, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be coming from white male professionals, no matter how well intended. Surely black men and oppressed communities generally are in a better position to speak about how they retain spiritual wholeness and give and receive love whilst living in such an unjust and inequitable world. I just don’t think this is within a successful white male professional’s expertise. However much empathy Dr Breggin has for the psychiatrized, his perspective is still one of privilege and affluence.

    I want to know what drives people like Pam Africa and Mumia Abu Jamal. Now that surely must be love.

  • Richard, I have repeatedly said I was not being sarcastic. I don’t appreciate the continued accusation after I said I was being quite serious. (https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/01/contributory-injustice-psychiatry/)

    I would appreciate if you would address the subject matter of the concerns I raised about the concept of work being problematic and enforcing your social values that others don’t necessarily share instead of turning this into an argument about Oldhead. I’m not prepared to play along with the deflections any more.

  • Personally I think the term “social science” is a misnomer and used to lend scientific legitimacy to the fields of social studies. Science at its core refers to the use of the scientific method to test, refute and/or validate hypotheses to develop into theories and laws. And the information gleaned is additive and built upon prior knowledge.

    For the most part, philosophers are great thinkers rather than researchers, and mostly not attempting to be strictly scientific in their treatises, however applicable and thought provoking and relevant their conclusions might be.

  • The problem with all medical studies is the underlying assumption that the diagnosis is valid. Psychiatry is not alone in collecting bogus data.

    My mother participated in a study at the NIH in the late 1990s, was diagnosed by NIH doctors as having Sjogren’s Syndrome, her data is now part of that study set. My mother does not have Sjogren’s Syndrome. Her symptoms turned out to be a combination of Lyme Disease and seasonal allergies. Anyone studying anything can be fooled into seeing what they’re looking for. It is always appropriate to question the validity of the data gathered and not just the conclusions drawn from that data.

  • The problem at its base is that psychiatry addresses the symptoms of social problems as being in the medical domain and reactions to social problems as existing solely within the individual. But also actual medical issues are being treated and pathologized by psychiatry when they would be appropriately addressed by a physician.

    I fall into both groups now (it’s a new place I’m still figuring out my feelings about) yet I feel pretty confident saying psychiatry has not served my medical needs with an infectious disease nor has it served me as a survivor of severe trauma by labeling and shaming my struggles as bipolar (genetically inferior, brain diseased) or borderline (drama queen, trouble maker, bad patient, bad victim), or otherwise placing the responsibility and locus of control on me, the injured party.

    And so regardless of whether someone is experiencing emotional distress (or distressing others) due to an actual medical issues, reacting to an oppressive culture, or has a history of trauma, psychiatry is BAD at treating all etiologies of mental distress.

  • It does tend to become a lifestyle in some circles with the robotics competitions and science fair entries. And no offense meant because science geeks are my favorite people.

    I fell from grace and lost my nerd cred by sharing Retraction Watch articles on Facebook. That’s when I started to realize that the notion that everything can be explained with science does border on a religious belief for some.

  • I think more accurately, not all atheists practice scientism. (*implied is that many do in fact worship at the altar of science and in the same breath as discussing quarks and quasars also virulently deny anything not objectively “real”.)

    I believe in the personal significance and power of mystical experiences. I don’t believe in Magic, special powers, other worlds, planes of existence, heaven, hell, gods, etc. it usually means that I piss off both sides when I participate in conversations about anything supernatural whether it be a belief in personal powers or religion. Oh well. Better mostly to keep out of it.

  • I don’t think my critique of your last sentence (which was about everyone having responsibility for their own lives) was in any way a critique or invalidation of your personal experience and the meaning you’ve made of it. I didn’t malign you and I’m surprised you interpreted it that way. I didn’t address your personal experiences at all.

    I did say “you” when underscoring that people aren’t equally responsible for outcomes when they didn’t all have the same start or abilities. I have previous said “we” in this situation and been called out by Oldhead asking who I mean by “we”. I mean culturally there is an undercurrent and tendency to blame lack of personal responsibility, integrity, or moral character to explain why some people thrive and others don’t. It has a whole lot more to do with luck than personal responsibility.

    Still, sorry you thought that was some critique of your own situation – it wasn’t meant to be taken that way.

  • I’m a nontheist humanist with atheist roots and I’ll be the first to say the rumors are true – Dawkins is an asshole. I have personally sat fifteen feet from the man and witnessed him belittle and mock someone’s question during the Q and A at a reading and book signing I attended back in 2007 during the release and promotion of The God Delusion. He should not be quoted in support of atheism. Or science. He’s not only arrogant about the superiority of science, he’s arrogant about his own superiority over anyone who doesn’t understand the world as he does. Dan Baker and Steven Batchelor are better examples of atheists/humanists who are also nice people.

  • Richard, I was not being sarcastic and you took offense where none was intended to begin with.

    I will adamantly defend against the way you’re bashing someone for not conforming to your social values. I disagree with the concept that “work” has intrinsic value, regardless of whether it originated from a place of necessity or devotion.

    I agree with the concept that it is easier for criticism to be taken if praise is received first. I’m sorry you found my lighthearted example offensive.

    I do not believe that an author’s labor should be respected and praised out of hand. I certainly do not respect many writers and consider the labor wasted and a lot of writing hateful and harmful. So no, I don’t believe that praising hard work amounts to basic human respect. I don’t generally praise fellow commenters, though many also “work” hard on their thorough and helpful responses.

    I do not say that sarcastically. It was not my intention to start an argument with you. Your issues with Oldhead aside, I believe the concept of work as intrinsically valuable is worth contesting.

  • Steve, this is totally fair criticism. The original intent I described is how it was sold to ordinary citizens and not what was intended by those orchestrating the system.

    The original intent of public education has far more to do with economic and political principles favoring white landholders and at its core our educational system is used primarily as a means of social control.

    I should have made that more clear and not implied that the system ever had actual good intentions.

  • Hey Richard, I don’t disagree with you in concept and I’m probably arguing semantics here. But I think to start that we have a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of “work” as you’re using it as a value measurement. As it’s currently defined, the vast majority of labor in the world is exploitative and the system continues because of largely unquestioned societal values about hard “work” being good and godly and such. It’s easy to suppress the lower classes with concepts of work and fairness when work is used as a value judgement.

    I think what you really mean is a little more Mary Poppins at its core and has nothing to do with “work”. Known as the carrot and stick theory in business management – essentially it’s easier to accept criticism if it is first dampened by praise, however faint. A little sugar helps the medicine go down and all that?

  • Reread the article. You did not parse apparently that the very legitimacy of “disorders” was at question.

    Additionally, there are actually well understood medical causes of “psychiatric” symptoms, but psychiatrists don’t generally look for them. So dismissing medical causes out of hand is not helpful.

    Thirdly, there is also well documented, though not yet well understood, evidence of systemic inflammation negatively effecting the health of individuals exposed to chronic or multiple traumas (regardless of their exposure to psychiatry, so can’t be blamed on drug effects). Understanding how to mitigate this inflammation so it does less damage long term would be helpful to those of us experiencing it.

    The most disturbing thought arising from psychiatry looking for genetic markers for mental disorders is that it seems what they’re really looking for is to be able to create a human that is emotionally impervious to mistreatment, in the same way that a animal breeder might try to breed a certain kind of temperament into a bloodline – the implications of this are staggering if you stop to think about their logical conclusion.

  • Why were they being transferred during a state of emergency in the first place? Who prioritized the private transport of two prisoners while the rest of us were told to stay the hell off the roads? While the driver showed extremely poor judgement by driving around a barricade into a flooded river, these officers got their orders from somewhere and it would be good to see some responsibility shared by the person or people who decided this was a good idea in the aftermath of a hurricane.

  • Yes, Alex, it was certainly interesting up until your last point. We are not each responsible for our own lives and can’t possibly be expected to be.

    I think we’re treading dangerously close to victim blaming when we assume that everyone has similar power over their life trajectories and decision making.

    At the age of 22, I went to my doctor with complaints of physical illness, not initially for any emotional complaint. I did not own a working computer, much less have an internet search engine to consult with before and after my visit. I did not have older and wiser family members around to help guide my decisions or to advocate for me. The last grade I had completed was fifth (I attended 6th, 7th, and 8th grades for less than two months each.)

    I went home from that appointment with at least five prescriptions (as I recall), and many of those drugs are known now to directly cause depression. https://health.usnews.com/health-care/articles/2018-06-12/are-your-meds-making-you-depressed

    It’s funny because the longer I’m off the drugs (two years and counting), the more I am able to make a cohesive narrative of the factors that led to my psychiatrization.

    I was not able to make different decisions at the time. I did what I could with the knowledge I had, which was very little. I now have 17 years additional life experience, a college degree, and the ability to look up virtually anything online and, with enough study, develop a fairly broad knowledge base on almost any topic. And I can say without hesitation that I make very very different decisions than I did at 22.

    I do not in any way agree with those who reduce this to simply being responsible for our own lives. This is another version of the bootstrap theory that is one of the cruelest jokes concerning self determination that has ever been played.

    Yes, we are all responsible for what we do and decisions we make in terms of living with the consequences. But we are not all starting out from the same decision making ability, so in terms of responsibility for how I got to be psychiatrized? I was not responsible for that. It was done to me because I didn’t know any better and once I was drugged, I was unable to think clearly enough to make an informed decision.

    Furthermore, I would likely never have come off the drugs without my boyfriend’s (now husband) prompting and support. I would have continued with the revolving door of hospitalizations and medication adjustments because I was too blinkered by the effects of the drugs to do anything different. I had moments of clarity that never lasted or were put down promptly with a dosage adjustment if I mentioned them to my shrink.

    And as I continue to gain cognitive function, retrieve lost memories, add clarity to my timeline, and find meaning from my experiences, it all feels a little like emerging from a fog I wasn’t aware I was in.

    So, no, we can’t possibly reduce this to personal responsibility or self determination when we’re talking about people who are, in fact, being chemically lobotomized in the name of psychiatric treatment and progress in mental healthcare parity. You cannot possibly expect people to have any meaningful level of self determination if they start out without knowledge, wisdom, and experience, and you drug them into not being able to contemplate an alternative.

  • Hey Richard,

    I thought it was a great blog on general good parenting tips. I did not think any of it was specific to a distracted child. I would hope that all parents were practicing these things with all children.

    I’m with Oldhead on questioning the validity of the concept of distraction in children because it’s invariably used to describe kids who don’t function well in the current educational paradigm. I have never once heard of a free range kid being too distracted to learn from a parent teaching them in a natural environment.

    We have reduced the knowledge of the world to abstract concepts taught from the pages of textbooks in rigid overcrowded classroom environments. While it’s laudible to want to increase the educational level of a populous, our educational institutions have been in a constant state of failure and reform almost since their inception. What started out as an effort to make sure everyone had a basic understanding of the three Rs has turned into a system where parents largely can’t opt out and are forced to send their children to be raised by institutions where they will be pathologized if they don’t pay adequate attention or if they have more energy than can be “managed” in a classroom setting.

    We now have a population of families that by and large can not afford to have one adult stay at home and raise good citizens so it gets left to the state with little ability to rethink whether the institution really serves us as a whole.

    We have large urban centers full of people who behave as little more than automatons, making daily movements to and from “work” to make money for corporations and their stockholders so they can fill their homes with cheap crap from Walmart, and precious few willing to examine why we are all so miserable with this lifestyle.

    Our families and communities are broken and fewer and fewer people have the time or energy to attempt to fix anything.

    So I don’t think Oldhead’s criticism that there is something wrong with the premise is wrong because something is wrong with the assumption that government schools are good and the locus of control for fixing children’s distraction should be placed inside the child who isn’t being served by a broken system.

    We need to end the school to prison pipeline and it has to start with fixing (or – gasp – abolishing!) the institutions, and not with blaming the child for malfunctioning in a broken system.

  • I have stayed out of this because I don’t want this to come across as a personal attack. However…

    Having been a “DID” patient (for a decade!) who was being manipulated by my SO, I can certainly understand the skepticism towards you by those of us who have been harmed by our significant others. It turned out I did not have DID at all and all of the alters were created by my SO while I was so drugged I could barely think at all. My ex also dated several other “DID” patients who lost their diagnoses upon breaking up with him or shortly after. So color me skeptical of the label to start with.

    You rarely talk about any specifics things you do to help your wife, instead using undefined nebulous terms like “attachment”. And encouraging her “alters” to interact with you (and your child!) does not encourage them to integrate within her, if they exist at all. So I would expect there are probably others who have read your comments about your family structure with concern for the kid being raised in this chaos, who is not getting the opportunity to form a cohesive attachment to his mom because he doesn’t have a “mom” to attach to, just a body with who knows which personality will be at the surface at any one time. You rarely speak about what you do to protect your child from being exposed to this. On the contrary, the kid is quite involved in this three ring circus apparently.

    My skepticism also arises from having known quite a few supposedly “DID” patients, all of whom successfully “integrated” when the label no longer worked for them. Just like all the other DSM labels, it’s a description of behavior.

    What you describe sounds to me like enmeshment. It’s a commonly known feature of codependency. I feel a sense of sadness every time I see you here speaking in vague terms, always praising yourself and your efforts, and I’m concerned about the mental health of the child being raised in this situation.

  • The comments on the Yahoo article are very illuminating. Many people insist they are chemically imbalanced and interpret a criticism of psychiatry lacking the data to safely remove patients from psych drugs as medication shaming. This shows a need for a public education campaign to correct the record about the so-called (and thoroughly debunked) “chemical imbalance” theory. It’s harmful to the consumer to believe such lies. It’s especially harmful to children whose parents are pressured to medicate them but they don’t know that the chemical imbalance theory is a myth.

    Our entire arsenal of psychiatric drugs is based on the notion of fixing a chemical imbalance and this is harming the health of millions of people including an enormous number of children.

  • I certainly do not intend to victim blame. I was lucky to start out intelligent enough to actually realize I had lost a couple of orders of magnitude of cognitive ability. And if someone with high intelligence can see their own cognitive decline, imagine what a similar decline in someone of ‘average’ intelligence might look like. I continue to regain cognitive function even two years off all the drugs. I imagine it might not have been quite so evident to someone who hadn’t previously been so intellectually driven. And to be clear, I am speaking to the neurotoxic effects of the drugs only and not about anyone’s value as an individual. Innate intelligence has nothing to do with anyone’s value either, it’s just that I was painfully aware of what I’d lost. And the drugs do kind of turn ordinary people into drooling zombies, which I think amounts to a criminal assault on their freedom and basic fundamental human rights.

    I think Roberta’s blog about her dad clearly elucidates the damage that can be wrought by psychiatry’s neurotoxins.

  • Rachel, my state offers free tuition to community college students who are receiving disability benefits. Pell grant is good for books and fees. And I was lucky enough to get scholarships (cash back in practical terms) from my college’s Honors Association for receiving As in my honors classes.

    I have enjoyed volunteering at the regional food bank warehouse with a Meetup group, which was good for just having something feelgood to do, but nobody really talked to each other. Eventually decided I wasn’t getting enough out of it to keep it up.

    Toast Masters? I love carbs as much as the next person. Are vegan and gluten free options available? (I doubt this is actually a group that gets together for toast, so I’m having fun here.) 😉

  • Intelligent people with disabilites looking for community involvement outside of traditional venues like church will get much more out of taking a community college class than they will by going to a drop in mental health center.

    The local one is filled with shuffling zombies – is literally nothing more than adult day care. The day I dropped in to check it out, I was immediately tapped for my potential as a peer support worker but it was also immediately clear to me that I was infinitely more functional than any of my “peers” there and still retained a significant portion of my intelligence, even as drugged as I was. I never went back. The idea of ever being so dull and lifeless is one of my worst nightmares. Death would be preferable than to be reduced to that.

  • Shaun, I have started referring to this as “toxic individualism”.

    I’ve been geeking out lately on the research on cytokines and illness behavior, which is so closely associated with depression and other “mental health” disorders. Illness behavior has for generations been left to the realm of psychology and sociology to explain, but the actual underlying physiological mechanism causing it was not understood. Until the role of cytokines in the immune response started to be better understood, the concept of “acting sick” was primarily thought to be psychological (something only effecting the weak willed) and the best known attempt to explain it is Talcott Parsons 1951 definition of the Sick Role in Role Theory, in which he delineated the rights and responsibilities of the sick person in greater societal terms.

    I did not previously understand why so many have such irreverence for the healer role (physician) and why we are so culturally programmed to take our problems to the physician, but I believe a lot of the underlying conflict is a cultural demand that sick people have a responsibility to go to the doctor and do as the doctor says in order to get better as quickly as possible and return to the roles we play. This is entirely a culturally and socially defined construct and it explains the animosity those with chronic illnesses (including chronic depression) face. It’s a daily assault of “what’s wrong with you anyway?” from people when what they’re really asking is “why are you such a lazy faker sitting at home collecting a check while the rest of us have to work?”

    As the article below explains, it has outlived its usefulness in light of more recent understanding of what drives illness behavior.

    http://sociologyinfocus.com/2012/12/the-sick-role-conflict/

    For more info on cytokines and illness behavior, this research article is relatively easy to understand:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2740752/#__ffn_sectitle

  • Rachel, good plan. I found great success with homemade kombucha, kefir, and fermented foods. I stopped doing that when my husband and I went traveling full time and I’m convinced that’s what led to the current flare I’m having.

    Incidentally, people are told to have yogurt for the probiotics but commercial yogurt has very little nutritional value and the sugar content feeds bad bacteria in your gut. The S. cerevisiae that’s in kombucha is well studied as protective in preventing candida and c.diff infections in those taking antibiotics.

    Also, don’t forget to eat foods with prebiotics (a type of fiber) to feed your good gut bacteria.

    I also highly suggest a turmeric (golden paste) or curcumin supplement. Curcumin is as or more effective as SSRIS (without the side effects) in multiple drug trials comparing them. Not that you’ll hear that on the news.

    (It sounds like I’m speaking to the choir here, so this is mostly for others reading and learning about gut health.)

  • Good luck with that. Our media portrays depressed people as potential mass shooters, with decades of help from anti gun groups targeting service users as public enemy number one.

    Netflix just celebrated its most downloaded show ever with BirdBox, which literally portrays mentally ill people as monsters.

    As long as the public continues to view “mental illnesses” in the DSM as discreet illnesses instead of descriptions of behavior, they’re going to continue to think of the “mentally ill” as a group they need protection from, as irrational, unpredictable, unstable, and ultimately frightening.

    I don’t think this is rectifiable until such time as the DSM is relegated to the trash heap of history and medicine stops making convenient analogies about chemical imbalances to lure people to take its pharmaceuticals.

  • I think one of the biggest hurdles when discussing “mad” people is differentiating between those with odd behaviors or mannerisms that disturb others (social misfits), those who’ve been seriously traumatized (which I think there is sufficient evidence to show amounts to a physical injury that statistically has nasty long term health implications), those who are simply struggling to survive under the weight of an oppressive profit driven capitalist (racist/sexist) system, those who are physically ill with any number of infectious or inflammatory diseases, and those who are quite literally stark raving mad for unknown reasons. These are five very different cohorts, unfortunately with frequent overlap between groups to confuse issues. I don’t think it helps any of these groups to speak of them as if they are a single population of “mad” people.

    I am still on the fence as to the mad pride movement. I’m certainly happy for the mentally relatively well adjusted social misfits to reclaim their right to be weird without being targeted. But I don’t see how this does much for the other groups who are struggling against forces way larger than themselves, be it poverty, trauma, or infection. A lot of people, including myself at times, have desperately struggled to simply survive our own thoughts in our deepest depressions.

    I was one of many many people who was disturbed by distressing symptoms and honestly thought I was receiving real medical care through psychiatry.

    I am comfortable with calling out current psychiatric “medical” practices as being anything but evidenced based. I don’t think we need to glorify any previous eras in order to make that case. It didn’t used to be better. Just different.

  • This is the most shockingly ignorant suggestion from the field of psychiatry I’ve seen in quite a long time.

    How many people have to die from antidepressant induced suicide before the industry stops its doubling down on the same old failed “treatments”?

    They know the drugs don’t work. They know polypharnacy with multiple classes of drugs don’t work. They’re literally grasping at straws and to do it in the name of suicide prevention is disgusting. People will die from this.

  • I should add that the political attitude toward fibromyalgia in the early aughts was fraught with patient abuse from literally all spheres. The public was skeptical and treated (and still do treat) people with invisible illnesses pretty poorly, and doctors mostly considered it a somatoform illness.

    I think it’s now pretty well established that people with that label are experiencing real dibilitating illness. What isn’t really firmly established yet is whether the people so diagnosed are mostly experiencing a discreet illness in common that we’ve decided to call fibromyalgia or mostly have other illnesses that simply haven’t been properly diagnosed.

    I don’t know where exactly I sit on this fence but I tend to look at fibromyalgia research with a skeptical lens. I think doctors invented a syndrome category to place their difficult cases. Some of this is driven by insurance companies who will refuse to pay for more extensive testing when the usual common panels come back negative. A doctor can easily be sanctioned or lose their participation rights with an insurance company if they run too many tests on a patient that isn’t literally dying. Medicare’s rules are even more stringent and they pay less. So it’s not entirely the physician’s fault. Underlying capitalist forces are driving these malpractices.

  • Pretty sure I’m a mixed bag of distressed and sometimes distressing to others. Mostly I just don’t have much of a filter anymore and say what I’m thinking, which definitely distresses others! I find men get much more leeway in terms of having a gruff or pessimistic personality. Whatever, I’ve earned it. What is that saying about comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable… It’s not actually a bad goal in life. Sometimes people need to be disturbed out of their false senses of security.

  • Shaunf, my heart truly aches for all of the people who have been treated this way. It’s so common and it’s tantamount to widescale medical malpractice.

    If I accomplish nothing else in life I hope to be a thorn in the side of those who would continue to inappropriately assign psychiatric labels to physically sick people because it so substantially impacts health outcomes.

    This has been a painful, sad, ultimately lonely and wastefully expensive journey to get to the correct diagnosis.

    There’s a semicolon on my right ankle. My story isn’t over yet. And maybe telling it will help someone else avoid such a difficult journey and painful outcome. I hope.

  • I had long since discarded the fibromyalgia diagnosis partially because there is a very strong history of autoimmune diseases in my family and the fibromyalgia was always clearly a label for something doctors didn’t understand and didn’t really want to treat.

    I fired my last primary care doctor (and wrote about it here at the time last year) for dismissing my symptoms as “just my fibromyalgia”. And by the time she said that in March of ‘17 I was already seeing a cardiologist and had been having large joint issues for 6 years. I was a textbook case of late Lyme disease and didn’t know it.

    Over the years my joint issues have been called fibromyalgia, a compensation injury, a sports injury, carpal tunnel, mixed connective tissue disease, and finally Lyme arthritis. When different doctors come up with so many different diagnoses, it’s nice to have the strongly positive serological confirmation of what it actually is.

  • Most of my insanity was also created by the psychiatric treatment I received.

    I have learned to place an intersectional feminist and humanist lens on my early struggles in life. It was all such a predictable reaction to the many traumas I’d survived. I’ve even learned to embrace the PTSD label insofar as necessary to get my needs met, and as an acknowledgement that trauma has significantly impacted my life.

    What I know about trauma and chronic inflammation also leads me to view it as more of a physical injury than a mental reaction or behavior. And of course there is the lyme, which is indisputably widely disseminated and I’ve been in essentially one long flare for the past 14 months, only the severity of which finally led to a proper diagnosis.

    At some point you just have to say to yourself that even a perfectly sane person with no trauma history would have struggled with decades of misdiagnosed chronic illness while being labeled as certifiably crazy and written off. I’ve simply had to learn to humanize my struggles as understandable and not indicative of personal or moral failure. I think that’s the hardest part of getting out of the system – the process of undoing so many years of self-stigma, and learning to refute those internalized judgements when I feel them.

  • It’s funny because I have my medical records from my physician during the leadup to my bipolar diagnosis.

    I had been increasingly ill during the six months prior with an inflammatory skin disorder and emerging GI issues (I shed the lining of my colon). I know now that these are clear indicators of autoimmune dysfunction and, though we had moved and I was seeing a new doctor, there is lab work from my first visit indicating a basic investigation into possible inflammatory disorders (Lupus, RA, Celiac) but no written description of the physical complaints. I went home with multiple prescriptions appropriate to a fibromyalgia diagnosis.

    On subsequent visits, my doctor still made no written record about my physical complaints but did make extremely judgemental comments in my patient record about my living situation and family status, and months later, my increasingly manic behaviors (shortly after being prescribed Effexor). He simply wrote “bipolar?”

    This was the first doctor to tell me I had fibromyalgia, and prescribed (among other things anticonvulsants, antidepressants, painkillers, muscle relaxers, and sleeping pills) accordingly, though there is no record of my physical complaints, nor of the trigger point test he performed (later found to be unreliable in diagnosis of fibromyalgia), or of the actual diagnosis anywhere in the written record. There is plenty of shaming leading up to and after my suicide attempt. But the record reads as entirely psychiatric without mention of my physical symptoms leading me to believe he thought them to be psychosomatic from the beginning, which was very much how fibromyalgia was viewed back then. It’s still not much more than a wastebasket “we don’t know what’s really wrong with you” diagnosis.

    So the point of this rambling is that it doesn’t really seem to matter if there is a compassionate diagnostic label for someone who is struggling with social adversity if the doctors begin with no compassion towards the struggling patient. Maybe medical school needs to have a designated class on empathy or simply incorporate empathic care practices into its teaching texts and curricula.

    My life wasn’t any crazier than any other Appalachian hillbilly and I didn’t deserve his judgements influencing the medical care he gave me or the psychiatric disability he induced. My physical complaints (that I now finally know we’re underlying Lyme disease) should have been his primary focus. I feel a bit cheated out of the last 17 years but mostly I feel really jaded and pessimistic that it will change. So many other people have been treated just as poorly by medical providers. It’s a disgrace and the medical profession should be ashamed of the level of shaming that makes its way into patient “care”, which seems less and less caring the deeper you look.

  • “It’s a scandal, really,” – Daryl Hall of music duo Hall and Oates, on the misdiagnosis of so many patients with hidden Lyme Disease – many of whom receive psychiatric diagnoses and, without adequate treatment, progress on to dementia, alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, ALS, and other neuroinflammatory disorders. https://www.lymedisease.org/members/lyme-times/2017-summer-features/daryl-hall-doctors-denying-chronic-lyme/

    The Latuda I took for almost two years provided my first glimpse of Parkinsonism. I thought at the time and ever since that it was just a bad side effect of the drug. Now, since the lyme diagnosis, I believe it revealed an underlying neuroinflammatory process I wasn’t aware was happening.

    “Bipolar” is associated with later development of FTD (fronto-temporal dementia), and should be a concern to anyone so diagnosed and treated, not just because of iotrogenically induced bipolar symptoms after starting SSRI medication, but also to anyone looking for a differential diagnosis. Proper Lyme (and associated diseases) treatment can reverse the “symptoms” of dementia.

    Infections create the symptoms of dementia. This is why these “old age” dementias are increasing so rapidly, why they cost so much, and why scientists are trying to find a cure for them – the new version of old age isn’t what it used to be and treating it is becoming more and more costly as the research failures mount. The infectious etiology of the dementias (alzheimers, Parkinson’s, LBD, FTD) has been pretty firmly established in the literature.

    The question is when is the medical community going to start treating people properly for infection rather than simply labeling them with psychiatric disorders and adjusting their brain chemicals fruitlessly?

  • Murphy did not pass the Senate. It was tucked into Cures before it had a chance to become its own law. It was promoted heavily by anti gun groups and many mental health advocates were aware of how horrific it was. And that’s what I was referring to. There was a ramp up in opposition during the fall of 2016, and had it been made to pass the Senate and then go through the process of reconciliation between the two chambers of Congress, it would not have passed in the grotesque form it did. But as you’ve said, much of it’s funding is tied to Obamacare, which is one of the worst healthcare laws ever devised, and Medicare Part D has previously taken the cake on that one.

    If the destruction of Obamacare is the only good thing Trump does, well it won’t have been worth all the other nonsense but at least there will be a silver lining to the chaos.

  • The Murphy bill had enough pushback that it would have not have passed in that form if it hadn’t been snuck into the must-pass 21st Century Cures Act. It was a last hurrah in a lame duck session just before Tinyhands took office. And the reasoning I remember from Big D oriented liberals at the time was that there was so much good in the bill (there is! Especially for lyme research!) that it makes the bad (Murphy is really bad!) merely distasteful rather than criminal. I think they call this compromise but to me it just feels like no matter what gets passed, some group gets shoved under the bus.

  • Thinking people can and do buck the trends. Sometimes thinking people create the trends. This notion that we are all automatons acting instinctually really does a disservice to most thinking people. It’s also the same attitude that encourages war by othering the enemy and promotes the slavery of and consumption of animals – this notion that animals are just instinctually acting creatures that don’t think, love, and mourn because they don’t have verbal language. Too simplistic for me.

    If you think it’s useless to try to take down the pseudoscientific medical branch of psychiatry, get out of the way while others do it. I do believe that the fields of psychoneuroimmunology and psychogastroenterology and just plain social progress are going to make ordinary psychiatry with its behavior based “illnesses” obsolete anyway.

    If you read the literature, you will see that research on brain-behavior based illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, FTL dementia, are moving in the direction of infectious etiology – oral spirochetes, Lyme borrelliosis, etc.

    We’ll probably all be dead within ten years due to runaway climate change, but in the offchance that doesn’t happen, progress is being made. And the people currently standing up to the abuses, the gaslighting and shaming of trauma victims, of people sick with physical illnesses with neuropsychiatric effects, of those who find themselves at the bottom of the trash heap of the capitalist nightmare we live in, those people, all of them, deserve an award for bravery because it’s a David and Goliath situation. One wrong move and you’re in custody being “treated” against your will.

    So if you don’t have any more to offer than were all wasting our time, ok thanks for sharing. Good luck with that approach.

  • I think another piece of this project I dislike is that it’s very one dimensional. The experience of psychosis can encompass so many more phenomena than just voices, (visions, beliefs, sensory feelings, etc) and it comes in such a wide range of severity. I’m afraid someone would take this simulation and it’s scariness to portray all non objectively real experiences as frightening and unwanted or disabling intrusions.

    The fact is that everyone experiences things that aren’t there, unexplained physical sensations or thinking you see a bug out of the corner of your eye, or thinking you’ve heard something. Feeling phantom phone text sounds or vibrations are ubiquitous. Everyone with a smart phone has experienced this. Our new apartment has keyless entry doorlocks that beep when they’re unlocked. Every time I hear a similar beep, my first thought is that someone is unlocking the door. Does that make me crazy or just mean I am habituated to beeps meaning door opening? It’s classic Pavlovian training and response but an argument could be made that I look at the door out of paranoia if one was ignorant of Pavlov’s experiments, I suppose.

    So portraying hearing voices in such a scary way means those people getting this training are likely to walk away feeling fearful of and perhaps pity for the poor mental patient when what we really need is a public service project that aims to make people more aware of the widespread nature of altered experiences, how completely normal they actually are, and humanizing those who are disturbed by severe psychosis.

  • Kate, it depends on the author. Some authors prefer to keep comments on topic. But I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    As for feeling “nuts”, well, of course you do. It’s a nutty, upside down unfair world with more and more people finding themselves at the bottom of the heap. A big of part of recovering from psychiatric abuse is processing everything you’ve been through when you finally realize what a sham it all is. And added to the physical effects of withdrawal, I’m sure it does feel pretty “crazy”. It’s good that you can see that this is a totally normal human response. We spend so much time humanizing and empathizing with others. It’s important to humanize ourselves and remember we are experiencing normal human emotions and strong emotions are ok.

    Check out the ICI and also Laura Delano’s personal website – I found her writing to be very helpful in my early days of withdrawal. She speaks so eloquently about how wonderful it is to allow ourselves to fully embrace and FEEL our feelings without judging them. http://www.recoveringfrompsychiatry.com