Sunday, April 5, 2020

Comments by kindredspirit

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  • Miranda, I question the premise of some of the genetic studies to start with. Just because someone’s genes may predispose them to certain kinds of responses to harm doesn’t say anything about the validity of the harm being perpetrated against them. Gene studies, therefore, do more to further pathologize the victims of trauma than they do to explain or help them. In other words, I don’t want to be better adjusted to a profoundly harmful culture, thank you very much! 🙂

  • Thank you, Dr Caplan, for your thoughtful and measured reply. I did miss your reference to moral anguish. I suppose I do think the metaphor of a moral injury is useful. The effects on service members (and the greater population) are far more than anguish could possibly describe. But that’s just my opinion.

    I will add your book on this subject to the reading list. I am not familiar with your work outside of ‘They Say You’re Crazy’, but I am glad to know you are aware of the bigger issues at stake here.

    Of course, sexual assault in the military is a direct effect of the hierarchical power structures the military is based upon. And I think most of us know that rape is about power and not sex. It’s unfortunately quite logical that when all power is removed from a person that many will seek to regain some semblance of control, and that those desperate efforts manifest in often deeply harmful ways. I’m sure we can agree that women are not the only victims of sexual assault in the military and that male on male rape is all too common under the conditions our troops are subject to.

    What I don’t understand is why the masses remain so willfully blinkered. I thought #MeToo was going to bring a social reckoning with these issues out in the spotlight. But, we have, collectively, seemed to respond with “meh” while continuing to argue our political sides as if we can vote our way out of this mess. Where are the protests? Where are the yellow vests? Why are Americans so passive? And now we’re all distracted and trying not to die from a pandemic we were warned was coming. When will we mobilize and rise up against this? Though our collective distress has been pathologized, these aren’t at heart psychiatric issues.

    Please tell me what you think. I’m listening.

  • No, war in the US has nothing to do with keeping citizens safe. We are a propagandized nation. The US goes to war to protect it’s economic interests. We destroy countries when they threaten to stop trading in the petro dollar, which is the only thing giving our currency value since it is no longer based on the gold standard. The US Government is the world’s largest terrorist/mafia organization, and we have a well coordinated media propaganda operation constantly telling the citizenry what to think. It’s not about one nutjob starting a crusade. It is a very finely tuned and massive machine operating to maintain dominance over the rest of the world at a VERY high cost to ALL, at home and abroad.

    I read a line in WaPo the other day about how the pictures of empty shelves in stores would remind you of what you imagine communist Cuba or Venezuela might look like. THIS IS PROPAGANDA. Cuba just sent medical aid to Italy. Cubans are not lacking toilet paper, unlike most Americans. Venezuela has been the target of a US backed coup for years now. Please read about the recent court success of the embassy protectors.

    War is not about protecting anyone. US wars are about maintaining US dominance over the rest of the world. And it comes at an incredible cost to Americans, who are constantly messaged about US exceptionalism and drowning in patriotism. We are told constantly about what a prosperous country we are and yet most of us are struggling. You know who isn’t struggling? The CEOs of the major defense industrial contractors. Half of whom are women! So now we can measure gender equity in how many women participate in the dominance game. This is sickening.

    Soldiers are cannon fodder. The whole purpose of boot camp is to destroy the individual and create a cohesive killing machine out of the unit. Worker bees, soldier ants who will take orders and obey without questioning. Of course they return totally fucked in the head!!

    And if anyone gave two shits about service members, they’d be marching in the streets to protest the terrible economic conditions so many of them and their families live in. Why are so many of them on food stamps? Why are they so poor? Why do most Americans bury their heads in the sand and refuse to take off their blinders?

    Psychiatry is similarly not about nutjobs. Neither the psychiatrists nor the patients are crazy. It’s about power and control. It’s about maintaining the status quo and suppressing anyone who rebels or rejects or crumbles under the oppressive actions of the powerful. Victims of abuse and trauma are thus marginalized because otherwise the harmful conditions that so many of us live under and are subject to would have to be examined in the light.

  • As usual, MIA’s coverage of veterans issues deftly avoids mentioning the largest trauma facing veterans and that is their disillusionment with the US war machine. Service members become traumatized by the knowledge that a large number of civilians are killed in war, that our wars are driven by many factors unrelated to actually protecting the homeland, and that their comrades are dying FOR NO GOOD REASON. When soldiers wake up to the realities of war, of course they are overwhelmed with conflicting feelings. And of course the VA and US Military are heavily invested in keeping the war machine and all its propaganda going. We have massive industries in the US whose profits depend on the US being in a constant state of war. You can’t expect bright eyed 17 and 18 year old recruits to know all this but they return from the front line knowing in many cases that they are essentially mercenaries for the US elite.

    Veterans for Peace has support groups and activism available for those who are ready to face what they’ve done and fight back against the policies that keep sending our young men and women to kill foreign citizens. The VA is going to continue to pathologize anyone who experiences emotional harm from their military service because they have an image to uphold and that image is of the brave selfless service member fighting an “enemy”. They don’t want you to see that the real enemy are the leaders who keep sending our youth to die and be traumatized by what amount to war crimes.

    It’s time to end the wars and bring our soldiers home!! Right now, we should be thanking doctors and nurses for their service, not soldiers.

  • Thank you, Dr Maisel. I’ve been contemplating the futility of it all a lot lately and this was definitely what I needed to read. In particular, I like the suggestion of actively making meaning rather than seeking it out as if it’s something one might accidentally trip upon. I also like the suggestion to daily ask oneself what are the important things. When I ask that several things and people instantly come to mind. Thanks for the reminder.

    I have bookmarked this page for future reference and will visit your website.

  • I think what I fail to understand about this issue is: if the reason “mentally ill” folks are on the streets is because there was never sufficient funding for community resources, why isn’t there a push to FUND THAT? Why would the leaders just throw up their hands and say well, we didn’t fund the community resources disabled folks need so let’s just lock em up again? It’s not even remotely cost effective to warehouse people for decades upon decades. Supported housing, supported employment, teaching folks how to eat right and making sure they have access to healthy food and good healthcare is all combined FAR cheaper than building new asylums.

    Could it be that our Supreme Racist Slumlord in Chief and his room of white male supporters really just wants to get the poor black and Latino folk out of sight and out of mind at whatever the cost? They can’t just throw em in prison anymore so let’s bring back the asylums.

    The good news is that the ways these games are playing out among racial and class lines makes it easier to fight back. It’s makes it very clear what’s actually going on underneath the rhetoric.

    2016’s The Rent Is Too Damn High Party would be a good org to consult about what’s driving homelessness.

    Medicare For All would also stop people losing their life savings to pay for medical bills. (Not that Medicare isn’t driving a lot of other problems, too, the way it’s been mismanaged.)

    The real problem at its base is that a capitalist society run for profit is inherently antisocial. We are trained to compete instead of cooperate from birth. We are taught to avert our eyes and walk on by when we see others suffering. After all, we worked for what we have, so why shouldn’t they have to also? We will not truly move beyond to real solutions until we realize we are all in this together and we are all better off when we are all better off.

  • The real problem is not that the inflammation theory is totally bogus. The real problem is that when there IS a physical illness contributing to someone’s mental suffering, the psychiatrists have ZERO interest in finding it. I continue to recover from Lyme Disease. I am a thousand times better than I was a year ago after having had a month of antibiotic treatment. I mourn for the time lost to psychiatry when what I mostly needed was an understanding empathetic ear (for my traumas) and a long course of antibiotics for Lyme Disease. Psychiatry greatly hindered my ability to recover by providing brain damaging “treatments” and shrugging it’s shoulders as I slowly deteriorated.

  • As far as helping suicidal folks, I think what Steve says in this comment is paramount:

    What I need when I’m feeling suicidal is not for someone to “treat” me or fix my problems, but just to say “shit, I feel that way sometimes, too”, or, “it’s really hard to survive the unnatural demands of this modern world”, or really any statement that validates and makes clear that the person’s feelings are normal and okay (and also transient.) Resiliency is built from connection and knowing you aren’t all alone in the dark.

    It seems like Chris Hansen’s webinar might go in that direction.

    Frankly, I could care less about the providers and their liability. Fear for their own asses keeps so many of the “helpers” from actually helping. How is the client supposed to feel safe discussing such thoughts when they know the treatment provider cares only about covering their own ass? In this instance, I want to point to all of the Lyme doctors who have risked their licenses to treat chronic Lyme patients. Dr Joseph Jemsek is one such provider who lost his privileges in North Carolina in 2006, and just sent out an email this morning thanking all of his supporters and announcing that the medical board’s censure had been rescinded! It’s too bad so many providers in the “mental health” industry don’t have the same kind of personal bravery to take on the system and do what’s right for their clients.

  • As a survivor of high ACEs, I’m appalled and deeply saddened for California’s children and families who will be targeted by this program. After decades of continual assaults of welfare programs, the government is now going to directly target families and children for “interventions” which will likely greatly expand the number of children who are removed from their homes. This is the most backwards way to “help” and is completely consistent with the current harmful ways we “help” children, individuals and families.

    I grow ever more ashamed to call myself an American.

  • But we’re also treating screening for trauma as if it were a preventative, but identifying children experiencing or that have experienced trauma is an intervention – the very first step. This intervention does not prevent trauma and interventions often do more harm than good with little ability to predict ahead of time who might benefit and who won’t.

    Preventing trauma, if we’re indeed serious about it, will require a much more complex conversation about many other facets of our current societal structures, values and norms.

  • This is so sad. The LA Times article, written by her personal friend, gave a fitting tribute to her.

    “With her words, Elizabeth had in fact expressed the paralysis — and trauma — she’d experienced watching the World Trade Center being emulsified from the building next door. Two years later, her dog Augusta was trained as a PTSD service dog, and went with her everywhere; when Augusta died, her beautiful dog Alistair had the same training. Elizabeth with her dogs was a whole Elizabeth.”

    Of course, I can relate to this so much.

  • It’s funny that at the same time I was being fed these same lies, Rachel, I was an honors student, a voting representative for my school’s PTK chapter, volunteering for multiple organizations, traveling with friends and family – even internationally. It seems the only place I’m not allowed, indeed expected not to be CAPABLE of thinking for myself is where it concerns psychiatric drugs. How convenient…

  • Would that be the treatment process that causes one to pile on the pounds or the treatment process that psychiatrizes Lyme symptoms (for many the first major symptom is a swollen arthritic knee). My arthritis knee was chalked up to an “athletic injury” when I was trying to run off the pounds caused by the drugs, so I got the “benefits” of “treatment” coming and going!

  • Well, I can testify that neither SSRIs, nor McMindfulness are effective for depression associated with Lyme infection. It’s possible an anti-inflammatory that crossed the blood brain barrier might “work” to reduce depression associated with cerebral inflammation but it still wouldn’t cure the underlying disease. “Working” in this sense is relative.

  • I agree with Fiachra! Alex, there is so much wisdom in this one comment I’ve had to come back and read it several times to let it all sink in. We are definitely on the same page here and, although I think my light has been flickering an S.O.S. pattern for a while now, I very much appreciate your encouragement!

  • I’m sorry to butt in here but, Dr Cornwall, I have come to realize I need very similar things, not to be a therapist, but to simply be whole and happy and not to be torn apart by this modern world we live in.

    “For me, feeling merciful love for myself without negating that crucial love with toxic guilt and shame for my human failings and limitations, is needed. I also need to risk pursuing deep connection with people who can really love me. I need to reach out to every source of sacred, benevolent, loving and healing energy that I can find to sustain me”

  • I respectfully disagree. I read the blog and see a young woman trying to spread love and light in what seems like a very dark world these days. While such efforts might seem disingenuous when not accompanied by a clear understanding of very complex sociopplitical issues, I think these fledgling efforts should still be encouraged. Nobody wins a Nobel on their first attempt at anything but criticism of a genuine effort threatens to extinguish the spark that created it.

    Maybe this kind of outreach isn’t up your alley or “enough” for your expectations, but it’s a pretty good start with clearly the best of intentions. If we could all let our light shine just a little brighter, imagine the possibilities…

  • You are true guiding light here, Alex. Keep preaching that radical self love and connection with others!

    I am finding that the more time I spend loving myself and others, the less time I spend in fear or anxious or despairing. It’s definitely a shift in perspective.

  • “Previous research has also found associations between children who have a secure attachment style (their early interactions with parents were loving and made them feel safe) and adult psychological well-being. Other studies point to an association between psychosis and avoidant and anxious attachment style. The causes of anxious, insecure, avoidant, or disorganized attachment styles are believed to be uncaring, neglectful, controlling, or threatening parenting. These styles are believed to define people’s relationships into adulthood.”

    It’s very tempting to respond sarcastically to this because it’s hard to understand how this isn’t understood to be a universal truth. Without secure attachments, you cannot learn to trust. Without trust, you can’t feel safe in the world. Without safety, you can’t form a cohesive narrative and stable sense of who you are. In these cases, there is no solid ground to leave footprints upon and to retrace your steps to safety.

    “Drowning typically occurs silently, with only a few people able to wave their hands or call for help.”

  • “It is akin to finding someone as marriage/partnership material.”

    Actually, I think you have made a very good point. Finding someone you’re compatible enough with to like their company and trust their judgements/wisdom is a monumental task, and not one that can be accomplished with just a phone screening aside from weeding out the truly bad apples.

    But in our insurance based system, finding someone you can afford to see and whom you mesh well enough with to really form a therapeutic relationship is Herculean, and rather unlikely.

    The people who have helped me most were not involved directly with the mental health system. When I was younger, the actual helpers included a catholic priest (I’m not even catholic!) and an art therapist.

    The idea that most people in need of help are also able to effectively shop around for that help is a very privileged concept!

  • There are unfortunately two issues being conflated here. One is whether an individual should have the right to access the knowledge and means to self-administer their own Final Exit and have supportive family and friends with them (which would currently be a crime.)

    The other issue is whether doctors should have the right to administer life-ending treatments. They already do this: my fathers death was proof enough of this for me. Administering enough morphine to end his pain was also enough to stop his heart a few hours later. He could no longer tolerate dialysis and the other option would have been to allow toxins to build up in his blood until sepsis took him over a course of days to a week. So let’s be clear that families and doctors already make the decision to hasten death for incapacitated patients in pain.

    The stigma against “mentally ill” patients ending their own pain has gone on for long enough. It’s origin is religious and the effect is cruel.

    For anyone who thinks people already have the knowledge necessary to end their suffering, exhibit A is the number of unsuccessful attempts. The handbook on taking one’s own life – The Final Exit – is not for sale to under 50s, last I checked.

    Jim Gottstien isn’t wrong about mission creep and a slippery slope, but let’s not pretend that “euthanasia” or hurrying death compassionately doesn’t already happen.

  • Thank you, Bob, for letting us know about Zel’s (Helpstillneeded) passing and for respecting his framing of death with dignity. He and I were certainly on the same page on this topic. The dignity part seems very hard for many to grasp still, but all it ultimately means is having supreme agency over one’s own passing as a final act. It’s a choice I fully intend to make for myself when the time comes.

    I have appreciated his comments over the years and will be sad not to see any more of his postings. He understood the anger and despair felt by those of us whose lives have been robbed and bodies destroyed by a forceful, coercive, and deeply harmful therapeutic state.

  • I am regularly reminded of what Avril Levine said about how Lyme Disease patients are treated by the medical system. She said, “They treat you like you’re crazy.” Left unspoken is that she got a taste of how “crazy” people are treated by medical “care” providers. It should be a wake up call to the abuses still shown toward anyone perceived as “crazy”.

  • “Similarly, research shows that common factors like the client’s perception of the therapist’s openness and authenticity are of greater significance than using a particular modality.“

    It’s not a huge leap to understand why seeing someone who validates you as a person instead of someone who is clearly judging you would produce a better outcome at the end of “treatment”. Therapists who view their clients as disordered are more likely to think they know what’s “wrong” with the client and what the client needs to do to “fix” their problems, or believe a particular manualized therapy is the answer. Therapists who view their clients behaviors as ADAPTIVE are more likely to listen to what the client thinks their issues and needs are and allow the client to drive the therapeutic process.

    One is an expert-provider-driven process (One much like medicine has become with matching symptoms to treatments instead of causes) and the other is collaborative and cooperative. The problem is that collaboration doesn’t lend itself well to rigid manualized therapies. It requires a willingness on the part of the provider to view the client as the expert on their own lives and individual problems. It requires a humility that the provider is performing a service at the request and discretion of the client. And it requires knowing who the client really is. The client in many cases not being the person being treated but rather their parents (in the case of minors) or the institution they’re in (hospital, group home, outpatient service, prison), foster care, school, etc.

    In a lot of cases, the providers should really step back and ask, who am I really treating and who is this narrative of disorder actually serving? Therapists, unfortunately, do a great deal of damage by not actually serving the people sitting across from them.

  • That’s not really true and it undermines the rest of your argument. The sanitariums were quite literally nearly emptied in the late 1930s after antibiotic treatment was discovered to cure late stage Syphilis. Incidentally, Syphilis is caused by a spirochetal bacteria very similar to Lyme’s borrelia.

    In 1994, researchers published a study in Schizophrenia Bulletin showing a nearly identical geographic overlap between areas of greatest risk of schizophrenia diagnosis and areas of greatest Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis diagnoses.

    Copper truncheons were discovered to cause madness in the Middle Ages due to reactions from acidic foods leaching toxic amounts of copper into people’s food.

    And frankly, our environments are so polluted now, and our food of such poor quality (for many debatable reasons) that it’s perfectly plausible that some of the rise of neuropsychiatric illness now seen is a direct result of these things.

    The problem arises when the person’s distress is removed from their environment and placed within them, which is what the DSM does. The focus on the brain and genetics doesn’t allow for infection (except sometimes for PANS) or nutritional deficiencies or lead leaching from urban pipes, or pharmaceutical contamination of water systems, or Roundup in our food (killing off our microbiome), or toxic stress from living under constant surveillance in a racist, sexist, nationalist, capitalist-driven, materialist-obsessed culture, or bad parenting, or neglect, or domestic violence. Or just having the terrible bad luck to have dealt with many of these things at once. That’s where the DSM does it’s best work to create a narrative where none of these environmental causes matter.

    You may very well have an illness or a state of disease in your body causing you mental distress and extreme states as an effect from a toxic environment, but adjusting your neuro chemicals and searching for causative genes will NEVER discover or cure those causes.

    The DSM has worked very well to classify behaviors as if they were the actual issue needing treatment, and the psychology industry (Therapy) has played right into their hands for their share of the profit pie.

  • You know, if they were honest about neuroleptics being major tranquilizers and didn’t wrongly and euphemistically call them “antipsychotics”, which they aren’t, I’d bet a lot of people would still choose to try them. I’d bet that if the public knew the truth about these drugs and the damage they can do long-term (and sometimes also short-term), a great deal of deeply distressed individuals would still beg to try something, even just short term and perhaps lower doses.

    What I find really appalling though is the number of people like me who were originally prescribed a psychiatric medicine off label and whose lives fell apart. I didn’t see a psychiatrist for six months after the male OB/Gyn at my primary care doctors office had drugged me with pain killers, muscle relaxers, gabapentin and psych meds. All this for “fibromyalgia” which was Lyme Disease. And at home, my drunk husband was beating me and neglecting our child while I worked. And so when the SSRI was added in and I became hypomanic and attempted suicide, it was decided I had bipolar.

    My story is not unique. Even with all the trauma in my early life, I was trying very hard to care for my second daughter, I had a fulll time job and a small apartment, and I was sick with chronic Lyme. And I was made disabled by my primary care doctor who decided all of my problems were psychological.

    I wasn’t crazy or seeing/hearings things, or suffering delusions. I was working hard and making wiser choices but with no family support and being physically ill and being beaten at home and being drugged with psych drugs, I was victimized by an industry that has spent decades lying to doctors and the general public in pursuit of runaway profits. And I’m done pretending that I was or am somehow mad. This is something that is common and has happened to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.

    Additionally, as early as 1991, a graph was made showing the geographic prevalence of Lyme disease overlapped pretty closely with area of high numbers of scitzophreania and psychotic disorders diagnoses, which the insurance industry has collided with the IDSA and the CDC to prevent proper treatment of Lyme disease and therefore funneling a large percentage of people into psychiatric care as pyme is a neuropsychiatric illness for so many.

    So while I do think that people would still choose to use these drugs in perhaps more limited ways if the truth was widely known about them, wouldn’t it be really smarter to addrsss the issues causing widespread and growing mental distress in the population? There are well known causes of extreme states and even just unrelenting depression that drives people into psychiatric care and it behooves folks to stick to finding cures for causes and not just sedate people even if that were preferable in some extreme cases.

    The Lyme disease community has made major inroads in 2019, we have reason to celebrate.

    Unfortunately, nearly twenty years after I needed assistance of that kind, there are still VERY LIMITED resources for women (especially impoverished, young, traumatized, ill educated, minority). And the school system seems to be the perfect reservoir for inducting large numbers of children into psychiatric care. A recent NPR article speaks of the alarming rate of restraint and seclusion (and lack of oversight) in public schools with almost no palpable alarm in its tone.

    We’re almost all fat and sick and malnourished and polluted and surveilled and quantified and stratified and bought and sold on the open market and we wonder what’s wrong and what can be done and we drive ourselves to therapy and take our prescriptions and vitamins and argue about politics and religion and read our bubble news and associate with the like minded.

    Somewhere the ghost of George Carlin is whispering for the sheeple to wake the fuck up.

    So, how do we truly measure, once and for all, whether the drugs actually work? Well, with one simple question. Are the profits still rolling in? If yes, the drugs are working great for our owners. The sheeple are exactly where They want them. Sick, stupid, and entertained.

  • I find it interesting that the group that received both the ketamine infusion and the alcohol reward task had a much higher baseline of drinking than the other two groups. I suspect this is the biggest reason that group had the most improvement over time. They had the most room for improvement. I’d find it very hard to believe that this group wasn’t specifically cherry picked for that very reason and it underscores the need for both double-blinding and random assignment of participants. Great reporting, Peter!

  • Why is there such a push for individuals to do more? Because there is ZERO political will to hold the US Military (Industrial Complex) responsible for being the world’s worst polluter. 116 Democrats voted this week for the Military Defense Reauthorization Act so that the US Empire can continue dominating and polluting the world.

    As long as voters continue to prioritize ONLY social issues such as abortion and kindergarteners right to transition- Dems for/Rethugs against- we will continue to get screwed by leaders who vote against ALL of our interests. Speaking of rich neoliberals screwing us over, please see the number of billionaire congresspeople. They don’t represent us. They are slowly killing us.

    Here is my plan as an individual with very little control over the votes of rich sociopaths in Congress:

  • I loved this whole piece! Honestly! And this part especially:

    “Take the recommendation that children should be screened for signs of mental disturbance. Will the psychologist tell the parents: “Your little Johnny is playing up at [kindergarten] because of all the arguing at home, he’s just copying what he sees.” Or “Your little Emma is seriously anxious because her father yells and punches walls while her mother is out doctor-shopping for drugs.” That won’t happen. What will happen is that the parents will be told “Johnny has ADHD and needs to be on drugs for life,” or “Emma has ASD and Social Phobia and needs to be on drugs for life.” And they won’t get better.”

    But, that ending… Could you maybe not refer to people experiencing extreme states as “mentally disturbed”. Language really does matter. Thank you!

  • Don’t forget those of us who were psychiatrically drugged for physical illnesses. Like many chronically ill women, my Lyme disease was called “fibromyalgia”. I didn’t go to my doctor with emotional issues. Even with all the early trauma I’d survived, I didn’t develop serious psychological issues until I was given psych drugs for a medical illness. Psych drugs are poor substitutes for antimicrobials when someone has a systemic infection. It took 17 years after I was drugged to get a Lyme disease diagnosis, and only because the doctor can deny the seriousness of painful swollen joints but they can’t deny pericarditis!

    Suicide is strongly associated with Lyme disease. How many more people have to die before we get a cure and before women stop having their real physical illnesses dismissed as psychosomatic?

  • “Effective treatment consists of helping them learn to use their thoughts, emotions, intentions, perceptions and behavior to love the way they want to love and express themselves the way they want to express themselves.”

    This is typical treatment provider speak, assuming that the problem is within the patient and not within their environment. One reason I greatly respect Robert Whitaker despite our differences in outlook on the potential redemption of psychiatry is because I believe this is one aspect of psychiatric harm that he truly understands.

    Psychiatry harms because it pathologizes the “patient” and attempts to correct the “patient” when the malfunction is in the space between people in social relationships. This is the crux of the medical model, no matter how many nice sounding psychology terms you couch it in.

  • “Al, I don’t see what yoga, exercise, sports, dance, meditation, and spiritual practices have to do with psychotherapy.”

    I want to piggyback on this one and add both agreement and disagreement.

    I agree completely that these things should not be viewed in the context of alternatives to psychiatric care. These are things that are good for everyone and should be available to folks, but largely aren’t. And I am of the mindset that people who want to see these sorts of things available socially should work to create community spaces where these sorts of group activities can be offered. I am entirely against the idea that these things should become part of the medical paradigm.

    On the other hand, I also believe that alternatives to psychiatry – things like Soteria House and Open Dialogue and RLCs and peer run respites – are absolutely critical to providing safe places for folks who are in or recovering from extreme states. If “we”, the patients and former patients, don’t take these initiatives, “they” will continue to believe that “we” need “help” which “they” have deemed themselves to be the “experts” on providing.

  • I am of two minds. You seem very sincere and have taken great risks to stand up to the psychiatric and medical establishment at the governmental level. That should certainly be applauded. I’m sure you’re a wonderful person that it would be a pleasure to know.

    I am also in agreement with those who say “no thanks, not interested in ‘professional’ ‘help'” – those are two words that when strung together should be considered an oxymoron. I’d sooner declare mad pride than trust a treatment professional again.

  • Thank you, Leah. I always appreciate the clarity and depth of your reporting.

    One thing I think was not well spelled out in this piece are the environmental conditions that contribute to the mental distress that disproportionately leads minorities and the impoverished (two groups that overlap considerably) into forced treatment. It isn’t just racism in the doctors office causing these disparities, let’s talk about lead in the urban water systems, police patrolling of certain communities, food and housing insecurity, the school to prison pipeline, the gig economy, wages that haven’t kept up with inflation, the unbanked, generational trauma (which is a much deeper and more nuanced topic than simply familial abuse), never-ending wars (see the newly released ‘Afghanistan Papers’) that siphon money away from maintaining basic infrastructure (crumbling bridges, aging water systems, and mold in schools).

    We’re hearing a lot about the effects of trauma these days but very little in policy proposals to address that on a societal scale (beyond taking children away from home and subjecting them to the additional traumas of foster care) and the so-called “trauma-informed“ community is still largely taking an individualistic and responsive approach to traumatized individuals (a la teaching mental health and coping strategies in schools, for example) instead of addressing the conditions that are causing it. I find these efforts to create “trauma informed” spaces to be extraordinarily disingenuous. It’s almost as if there is NO political will at all to see the extraordinarily oppressive conditions so many people experience in the third world country known as the United States of America.

    One last note is that Kamala Harris spent her career locking people up – including many POC without her own privilege. It’s not in the slightest bit surprising that her approach to emotionally distressed individuals is similarly laced with the language of force and control. If anything, these efforts bolster the arguments of those of us who understand psychiatry to be an extension of law enforcement for the purpose of social control.

  • I appreciate your comments on this, sam. I understand the author’s intent but I too struggled with feeling like doctors don’t need any additional ammunition to claim pain, or any other symptom, is all in our heads.

    The head of infectious diseases at the CDC referred to chronic Lyme Disease patients as “Lyme loonies” in internal documents. I am literally fighting my own government to have my illness taken seriously. The fact that Lyme Disease is now an epidemic, and that Maryland is second in new cases only behind Pennsylvania, is a direct result of suppression by the most powerful And influential health agency in the world. That they’re charged with controlling infectious diseases raises the absurdity to new and historic levels.

    So while I understand that a particular person may understand their own pain and depression in this way, I believe it’s neither scientific (e.g. cytokines and “sickness behavior”) nor helpful, to promote the idea of a psychosomatic origin of physical symptoms.

  • I have no words for this. Not so soon after Stephen. Julie and I didn’t always see eye to eye but I was lucky to know her in a private space where she spoke even more freely than here at MIA and I had a secret admiration for her fighting spirit. We agreed on far more than we disagreed over. I thought of her when driving through SWPA recently and I almost mentioned so to her on her last reply to me here. I’m so sorry now that I didn’t.

    Julie was a fellow comrade in struggle and won’t soon be forgotten. Rest in Power, sweetie.

  • On the face of it, this sounds like a good thing. Let’s find out exactly what “they” think of “us”. But I wonder how many people would approve of this is we rephrased it to “Measuring How White People View Black People’s Rights” or “Measuring How Americans View Middle Easterners Rights” or “Measuring How Israelis View Palestinians’ Rights”. Or how about “Measuring How Endocrinologists View Diabetics’ Rights” which is absurd and illustrates how some groups are seen to have rights and others not so much. It quickly becomes apparent that the opinions of dominant groups over subordinate groups is largely irrelevant. And we all should know that appeal to expertise is a logical fallacy. We all deserve human rights as detailed by the UN, full stop.

  • I remember Stephen not just as a tireless fighter for the voiceless, but as someone who in the face of his own cancer battle continued to exude care and compassion for others. When I reached out to Stephen earlier this year to offer support, without batting a virtual eye, he reached back to comfort me, offering to answer any questions I might have about his cancer and treatments. That was just the kind of person he was. He will be dearly missed.

  • Well put, Frank. Especially the difference between crazy and “mentally ill”.

    I’ll add that this is why I don’t identify as “mad”. Anyone can become mad under the right circumstances and it isn’t a solid state one becomes but rather one that is passed through. It isn’t something binary that some people are and others aren’t.

  • I found this part worth repeating:

    “We talk a lot about #selfcare on social media and it has this trite kind of consumerist association, but I’ll tell you, self-care is the path for so many survivors to get their lives back. Every survivor I know who went from frequent hospitalizations to thriving lives like a monk with their own rules and is all-in with maintaining their health and well-being.”

    This has been my experience. I put myself to bed on time. I eat healthy, avoiding sugar and other junk foods. I meditate and practice gratitude and strictly control my environmental stimulation. I exercise as much as I can and get appropriate sunlight using the Army’s Vitamin D calculator. I avoid social media and toxic “bubble” environments that are highly conflictual and socially coercive. I do all of the self-care all the time. And it’s still hard. But it’s the only way.

    I’ll be honest that the Mental Health Media site doesn’t appeal to me due to its overwhelming acceptance of DSM slurs by its authors, nor do podcasts about living with “bipolar” or any other label. I am sure there is a segment of the population who does believe they have a definable illness to treat who might find it helpful, but I really wish we could get away from the illness model and reframe to a distress and recovery model. As long as people think there is an illness to treat, the medical profession (and overall culture) will continue to place the origin of the distress inappropriately within the individual being “treated”.

  • Bob, it was your Mad In America book that gave me the knowledge I needed to muster the determination to get off the drugs. This month marked three years pharmaceutical free for me. December will be 6 years since my last (overnight) hospital stay at JHU Mood Disorders Unit, where they removed my bipolar diagnosis and replaced it with MDD. It’s been 9 years since my last actual hospitalization for more than one night. My diagnosis was further downgraded last year to PTSD and Mood Disorder Due To a General Medical Condition, reflecting my ongoing struggle with Lyme Disease and coinfections. I embrace these only as they help me get my basic needs met – specifically my service dog. I don’t know where I’d be right now if it were not for the information and support I’ve found through MIA.

    Although I am regularly critical of articles posted here, please count me among your biggest fans. I do think that your book and this site are very slowly changing the narrative in the public discourse. When I read mainstream news stories praising psychiatric advancement and its newest “treatments”, it is very heartening to read the massive pushback in the various comments sections. Whether using real names or pseudonyms, it takes bravery to put oneself out there at all to stand up against the prevailing narrative. But people DO seem to be seeing through the lies and it is truly unique to have this site in particular where former patients have been given space to tell their stories of harm. I have particularly appreciated the recent articles written by those who are currently under ACT orders – a particularly marginalized group. Please keep up this focus on those who are most directly impacted by mental health treatment and policy – current and former patients.

    In short, thank you.

  • I think it’s time to start involuntarily detaining all the diabetics who have been rationing their insulin in the face of ever expanding profiteering by Pharma. They clearly show lack of insight into their disease and their risk of death increases if they don’t take their meds as prescribed. Then after we detain and hospitalize them against their will in a for profit general community hospital, preferably with a costly ambulance ride on the way, we should sue them in small claims court for the medical bills they can’t pay since they’re now forced to buy their insulin as prescribed by the Assisted Outpatient Treatment team. It’s such a brilliant plan, I’m surprised Pharma Bro didn’t think of it first!

  • Interesting research, breaking down the various bases of criticism of psychiatry. Of course, they’re all valid in their own way and some of us have quite comprehensive antipsychiatry analyses that incorporate some or all of these positions. That the current systems require embracing some diagnostic labeling for many folks to get their basic needs met is also not the same as actually believing in the labels, although I suspect that last “necessary evil” group includes a number of folks who consider the labels a “necessary evil” insofar as they facilitate forcing their loved ones into any kind of “treatment” that could relieve them of their own distress caused by being a caregiver to someone else in acute (or chronic) distress. (Say that three times fast!)

  • This is, of course, nothing new. George Washington Carver Intermediate School in Chesapeake Va utilized isolation booths in the early 1990s. They didn’t have doors or padded walls but I otherwise see little difference. I was suspended for cursing when describing how I was attacked by two boys. Suspension meant sitting in a desk in a three sided concrete booth by yourself in silence for the entire day (or 3 days as ISS was usually doled out). The black male principal at this school instructed my father to whip me below the knees in order to avoid child abuse charges or cps interference. Schools appear to be inherently dangerous to children’s health and yet we send them day after day to the miniature prisons. This is child abuse and it is sanctioned by people who are supposed to be caring for kids.

  • ‘Marijuana’ is a slur leftover from the days of reefer madness. The plant is cannabis. Furthermore, there can be zero conclusions drawn about cannabis as a plant when different forms have vastly different chemical makeups and hence vastly different effects on the body. I’m surprised and disappointed MIA would publish such a sloppy and utterly unscientific story.

  • As a survivor of childhood trauma and intensely harmful professional intervention, I DO NOT IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER support governmental efforts to tackle childhood trauma as a public health issue. I have zero doubt this will produce tragic results as children are funneled into mental health treatment and families are destroyed by CPS involvement.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions and all that…