Thursday, December 3, 2020

Comments by kindredspirit

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  • I have to say, although an interesting discussion, I am with Oldhead on the idea of embracing (or not) the labels that have been imposed upon us. The reason I believe this is a poor tactic is that unlike “nigger” which is used exclusively toward the Black community, and “queer” which was originally a slur toward gays though has become a somewhat ambiguous term now that can either refer to sexual orientation or gender identity, the labels used against those deemed “mentally ill” have no common unifying qualities to them other than being one of the many, many different labels currently used as diagnoses. Because of their lack of validity, the people being called “bipolar” often have little in common with each other except for having had the label applied to them. There is no homogeneity to be the glue in the group. I don’t see how this lends in any way toward reclaiming the label when I have little in common with most of the other people who have had that label applied. The same could be said for those who have been labeled with “schizophrenia” or any of the other psychiatric labels in which 5 of 9 symptoms are required. The people in the groups are not similar across the group. (There is a great article just published that I read this morning in Psychology Today about the false history of schizophrenia and how it applies to COVID.)

    The idea of embracing a label also does not take into account those who have matured, learned better ways of coping, are experiencing less adversity, have improved circumstances, etc who no longer have the cluster of distressing emotional/behavioral phenomena that originally got them labeled. Why on earth would THOSE people then claim some pride in that label?

    The only group for whom this strategy of reclaiming a label in some kind of positive sense are those who are still struggling with the issues that got them labeled to begin with and for whom want to avoid the social stigma, shame and blame, that are commonly experienced by the labeled population. I can certainly understand the desire to reclaim harmful terminology but surely there must be some unifying features within the group to provide cohesiveness. For me, the only label that comes with that unifying cohesiveness is Psychiatric Survivor – that label expresses very succinctly what was harmful (psychiatry) and that I have survived it. I know what someone means when they use that term, but I honestly haven’t got any way of knowing what someone means when they claim to be bipolar or autistic or any of the other slurs applied to those who’ve felt the sting of western psychiatry.

  • This retraction notice leaves no mention of why reinforcing sex-based behaviors and expressions is abusive. Nor does it mention that children who now do not display the culturally appropriate behaviors and expressions for their sex are encouraged to think they are transgender. Gender is a harmful social construct and this trend is abuse, full stop. Leave children to express and behave how they naturally are – boys can be feminine and girly and nice and girls can be sporty and masculine and hate pink and dresses. Natural variation in the behaviors and likes does not literally make the child the opposite sex. This propaganda has to stop!

  • It’s really the ultimate trap in an extremely punitive criminal justice system. When the choice is between going into “treatment” for your “illness” or doing hard time behind bars, it would be tough for anyone to choose to do time or to choose a harsher sentence when they could divert to a mental health court.

    I would say it’s also a very hard choice for the severely traumatized to take ownership and culpability for poor behavior or affective states that have obviously been influenced and driven by outside factors. I certainly used the mentally ill excuse for many years, and many of us have. It seems hard enough for the average person to say “I was wrong” or “I behaved poorly, I’m sorry”. But even more so for those who have been out of control emotionally to move beyond the resultant shame.

    There’s also the conflicting messaging. We hear from some quarters that it’s ok to not be ok. But it can be dangerous to admit you’re not ok. When not being ok gets the police called or gets you committed against your will. And then there is the push to screen people at every opportunity and it’s impossible to know beforehand whether what you say will be used against you. What a terrible catch-22. No wonder some people want to blame their illnesses and others want nothing to do with the system even if they really aren’t ok!

    There is no logical rhyme or reason to any of it either. You learn cause and effect and to not do certain things because there is a natural reaction. Don’t touch fire because it burns. We all learn this as humans sooner or later. But there’s no consistency within our cultural response to distress.

    But as for the mental health courts, this is definitely one of those progressive ideas that has backfired terribly as more and more folks get swept up into mental treatment for issues that are largely environmental and cultural.

  • I have noticed this as well and I’ve seen push back against it from educated folks. It seems to be coming from a place of wanting equity in healthcare from those who aren’t maybe as knowledgeable about the harms of the mental treatment system. But it’s why I always say that the Black community is not a monolith any more than any other grouping of people. Although I have been surprised at how much more educated some very poor Black communities are on systemic harm than white communities tend to be. Poor white people are much more likely to attribute their problems to being down on their luck than poor Black people are. So it’s a mixed bag.

  • I tried magic mushrooms (psilosibin) while camping in the forest this summer. What a completely underwhelming experience. I had always been told I should avoid psychedelics, that I’m too high strung and I’d have a bad trip. But it was just a very low key and kind of boring feeling of being semi-connected to something very slightly more spiritual. No big revelations or anything. So I honestly don’t see the appeal. But I am very glad I wasn’t stuck in some clinic or psych office during the experience. At least I was able to enjoy my surroundings in nature while I waited for what amounted to nothing to happen.

  • “My highly atypical emotional outburst was the mental illness equivalent of a heart attack, a seizure, or a stroke. In any of those instances, everyone would have launched into action, calling 911”

    This is everything psychiatric survivors are fighting against. I would NEVER call the police on a person in mental distress, most certainly not a Black person. The odds of her receiving help drop dramatically with that action. Secondly, this is a medicalization of environmental distress. An emotional outburst should be met with compassion and a time out for the person who needs help. It is NOT a medical event. Last, the fact that she was apparently having a medication reaction is buried deeply in this story. We do not live in a culture where drug effects are seen as adverse reactions. The likelihood is that she would have been taken in distress to a psychiatric unit and had more drugs added, not had the offending drug removed. Her colleagues appear to have done exactly what most of us survivors Would have wanted, which is to mind their own business if they couldn’t provide genuine assistance. She is very lucky that she was allowed to deal with her own problem with her own doctor and not had law enforcement and emergency medical personnel barge in and make a bad situation worse.

    I can’t express enough how dismayed I am to see this published here. It’s like one step forward and two steps back with MIA.

    For god’s sake, do not call 911 on a Black person in emotional distress unless you actually want the police to show up and shoot them! Have the messages from Black Lives Matter not gotten through to anyone here?

  • Your opinion is noted. I never mentioned handguns. The number of military grade weapons in the hands of civilians is at issue here as well. The legislation to limit gun ownership by the psychiatrically labeled isn’t about handguns and never has been. It is about creating a fiction that a specific portion of the population is prone to violence and that if those people are not allowed access, then gun violence can be reduced or eliminated. This has ever been true. Large portions of Democrats are gun owners. Many people own guns for hunting purposes or self-defense. There are sensible ways we could reduce gun accidents like going back to teaching gun safety in schools and requiring smart trigger locks, training and certification, etc. Liability insurance could also help in the same way that these programs help reduce accidents with the acceptable deadly weapon we call an automobile.

    Having said all of that, the vast majority of gun violence isn’t committed by depressed people trying to off themselves but rather by criminals shooting each other down in the streets and angry men shooting their domestic partners and their children. Most of the guns used in street crime are also not obtained legally, but rather stolen or trafficked. It is a fiction to believe that the 500 million guns in homes in the United States are going to disappear no matter what the rest of the world thinks of it. We are a gun owning nation, like some other nations that are radically less prone to violence. Our violence problem is a cultural issue and not one that will go away by banning guns or banning some groups from accessing them.

    Also, tanks are a little 20th century, don’t you think? Modern warfare is committed by drones. But regardless of all of this, the issue is one of fairness. Some people have their constitutional rights taken away under the fiction that they belong to a group of people that is prone to violence when that has been proven repeatedly not to be the case and in fact, former psychiatric inmates have the lowest rates of violence of all groups. If we’re going to take guns from people, it needs to be across the board and not targeted in an unscientific, biased and stigmatizing manner disconnected from the reality of the actual drivers of gun violence. Basing our gun laws on NRA talking points has changed nothing about crime or suicide rates.

  • Rebel, respectfully, If you think that the top richest three people in the world actually deserve to own more resources than the bottom 60+% of the world’s population, I’m not sure we have any room for an actual nuanced discussion of the merits of capitalism because this is what that system has produced. It is an exploitation of labor to concentrate wealth into the hands of a very few. I am discussing economic policy, not the political systems that have been confused with such. A communist government style is not the same as cooperative and employee owned business and communities. Fearmongering about communist governments has been very successful in scaring the uneducated into fighting against their own interests when it comes to sharing the wealth earned from collective labor.

  • I do not support restricting our constitutional rights in the name of suicide prevention. Though suffocation suicides number over half of gun suicides, no one has ever suggested that we limit the sale of ropes or restrict the ability to park inside a garage. However, our right to bear arms is intended to protect us from a tyrannical government. I know almost as many armed democrats as republicans. Both sides largely support gun rights for those not labeled mentally ill not understanding that most gun suicides are completed by middle aged white men who have not been so identified. There is no chance I will ever support taking guns from non-violent non-criminals. The rapid rise of the Socialist Rifle Association says I’m not alone on this issue.

    Suicide prevention has backfired. If you want to prevent suicide, address the economic factors inherent to capitalism that makes so many of us so damned sick and miserable. It’s all good and well to paint suicide as a social justice issue – makes ya feel good. It’s the typical SJW approach. But capitalism is the culprit. Until the “Let Them Eat Ice Cream” Pelosi’s of the world care about the folks at the bottom, the ones that get them elected, nothing will change. I am not a special interest group to pander to before elections and forget about afterward, which is how the Democratic leadership treats its base of minorities and women.

    As for COVID – that’s too big of a topic to break down in one article or comment, however, you might be interested in researching the effect of systemic infections and suicide. Every day, I read about another lyme patient who has taken their own life. The risk of large numbers of people having long term neurological effects from COVID are, in my opinion, an under appreciated tsunami looming.

  • Agreeing to be on a show and consenting to being touched and hugged are two different things. I still find the portrayal of being touched and hugged and joked about not liking it to be deeply offensive and a dangerous thing to dismiss. Active consent is a thing for a reason and it doesn’t just apply to sexual acts.

    Additionally, I find the before and after photos of Judy to be reflections of values that I don’t personally hold. I think she looks better in her comfortable garb. I think it’s offensive to make comments about fashion and hair styles in relation to ones mental state. I personally am very happy and most comfortable without makeup, without shaving, and wearing jeans and tshirts. I am extraordinarily uncomfortable dressed up the way she is portrayed in her after photo. I am sincerely concerned about the message this sends to other butch presenting young women about the acceptability of their preferred style of dress and how they will be judged.

    This entire article is presented as if reality TV is actually reality and not dramatized. It’s misleading and reads as more reinforcement of harmful social norms designed to prop up capitalist ideals.

  • “The viewers at home can see it: Neal Reddy is not happy. He’s out walking his dog near his home in Atlanta when the five chatty, determined, opinionated stars of “Queer Eye” roll up in a pickup, and he’s clearly discombobulated.

    He tries to run away. They run after him, laughing. When they catch up, the hugging starts.

    “You don’t like being touched?” asks Karamo Brown, embracing him anyway. Costar Jonathan Van Ness strokes Reddy’s long hair.”

    Who doesn’t read this absolutely horrified at the fear and feeling of violation this would induce in the majority of traumatized people? How could anyone think this is ok? He RAN FROM THEM!!!

    Bob Whitaker has lost his moral compass for allowing this to be published here. I had already stopped sending articles from this site to others and now I’m glad. I’m horrified to have ever promoted MIA. Reading this made me so deeply sad and embarrassed to have ever participated here.

    In case the editorial staff here doesn’t know, touching someone without their permission isn’t progressive entertainment, it’s ASSAULT!!! It’s a crime. Full stop.

  • Kate, what you express here at MIA often feels very familiar to me. I was severely depressed for many years before I found out I had and got treatment for lyme. And I had loads of trauma and other struggles on top of being physically ill that I had to contend with. Some days still kick my ass. I just want you to know you aren’t alone. Sometimes the only thing you can do is to doggedly put one foot in front of the other and have the temerity and defiance to persist no matter what gets thrown at you. Determination has seen me through when hope failed me. When the system fails you as it did to me, you have no choice but to save yourself. I will be rooting for you.

  • When there is little concordance between clients other than their label, how could it make any sense that a single method of “therapy” would be at all useful? The other problem with studying therapy in this way is that these studies are generally short term. These aren’t real significant relationships between people but a transaction between a professional and their client, and which insurance has put strict limits on. For the cost of therapy with insurance, it would make as much sense to put that money toward things that would actually make life easier. Hire a maid to come in once a week, get a massage once a month, go out to a nice dinner with a friend, go to a movie or the theatre. And if you’re on public insurance, it’s very unlikely you’re getting long-term quality therapy, but instead you’re likely getting drugged to the point you no longer care.

  • I want to comment further as a supplement to what Bob has laid out here about Saphris and dysfunction (corruption) in the FDA drug approval process:

    This very well sourced US News article reports that five times as many people die each year from taking prescription drugs as prescribed than die of either accidental drug overdoses or suicide, which would make this the fourth leading cause of death were it tracked. And these are not medical errors like dosage errors or misdiagnosis, but drugs prescribed appropriately for the patient’s condition. Johns Hopkins University tabulated separately that were it properly accounted for, medical error would become the 3rd leading cause of death.

    These articles are both from 2016, written in the lead up to the passage of the 21ST CENTURY CURES ACT, which we are all familiar with here at MIA, and which successfully eliminated many of the safeguards that were theoretically in place at FDA, but which Bob has shown were already inadequate to protect consumers from predatory pharmaceutical companies and their allies in the agency.

    A wider understanding of this corruption includes the influence of the prospect of future employment in the industry FDA regulators are tasked with policing. Bob detailed this with the case of Thomas Laughren, but it is best understood as a wide scale practice that puts ALL consumers at risk, not just psychiatric patients, as the revolving door between regulatory agencies and the industries they are tasked with overseeing has become the norm.

    I understand the general public’s antipathy toward the psychiatrically labeled, but I don’t understand why the evidence of rampant financial corruption and hundreds of thousands of dead every year aren’t enough to generate widespread public outrage.

    My father’s reaction to Lipitor led to his hospitalization where he contracted flu, which led to respiratory failure that ultimately killed him after 8 months on a vent in rehab. His death certificate simply claims “acute respiratory failure” with no mention of the initial prescription reaction or the hospital acquired infection. This system is broken. It’s broken across the board. And it’s been a bipartisan affair. Ronald Kavanagh sacrificed his career for the greater good, and we need to be clear about what we are really asking of those who stand up to the current power structure.

  • “Interventions should not only emphasize skill building and changes to the self, but also consider the benefits of altering a person’s circumstances.

    Psychotherapists should consider it part of their role to help clients advocate for health insurance, social programs, and opportunities, as well as abating the discrimination and structural barriers they face. To that end, clinical education must include more training in macro skills that help build the supports, policies, and community infrastructures under-served clients need. Mental health workers can also build backing for programs and policies by calling out the damaging consequences of economic hardship, racial discrimination, and other types of inequality, and the importance of reducing those risks.”

    If we have to have “mental health” workers at all, this should, indeed, be a significant part of their focus. Instead of sitting on a couch talking ad nauseum for years about my traumas and being prescribed endless amounts of pharmaceuticals, I would have preferred to have a mentor who helped me identify existing community supports.

    Early treatment for Lyme disease before it became chronic would have been helpful too. And I think it worth noting here that although Lyme affects caucasians at a much higher rate due to exposure factors, people of color are FAR less likely to be diagnosed in the early stage as the EM rash is harder to detect on darker skin tones. Medicine itself HAS TO DO A BETTER JOB of identifying and treating physical illnesses, which will be present in greater numbers among the disadvantaged. The current method of throwing drugs at symptoms is ubiquitous among all doctors – those treating physical maladies as well as those in the “mental health” specialties. I don’t believe we will be able to address any of this until PHRMA’s death grip is removed from the entire medical profession.

    But a greater problem to be solved is the patriarchal response we tend to employ to anyone who is struggling. My experiences seeking help for domestic violence have left me unwilling to ever engage with that system again. It’s a shame that women are treated so punitively for needing help. The homeless population is another where “help” tends to involve paternalism and taking over people’s lives instead of providing the supports needed to thrive. I have to keep asking, who is benefiting from the way we pathologize the vulnerable – whether that be children or BIPOC, the homeless or the sick?

    We need to transform our cultural attitude from one of competition to cooperation – from individualism to collectivism.

    Thank you for your advocacy.

  • It’s not just pregabalin. Gabapentin is increasingly known to increase suicidality. November 2001, I was prescribed gabapentin along with multiple other drugs at a doctor visit. I would take this drug for the next 15 years. I was taking it during all four of my major suicide attempts. I had been taking it for about 6 months, and recently prescribed Effexor, when I made my first attempt.

    These drugs ruined my life. I was considered dangerous to self and others. My children were kept away from me. My heart is broken. It was like a wildfire swept through my life and devoured it. All I can do is try to keep repairing the damage that was done by psychiatry.

    I hope the CEOs of these pharmaceutical companies lay awake at night. I hope that somewhere, deep in their sociopathic heads, they are slowly being eaten alive by the knowledge of the harm they’ve done. How can there ever be adequate justice for the harm that’s been done?

  • Excellent report, Bob! The only problem I’m struggling with here is the timeline. I *know* for a fact that I was pushed to take Saphris in 2008 when I was erroneously placed on a drug unit at the local private mental hospital. IF this was indeed before Saphris was even FDA approved, I’m left to wonder if the attending psychiatrist was actually attempting to enroll me in a drug trial without my knowledge or consent. The timeline otherwise does not make sense to me. I was not at that campus again until 2014, at which point Saphris had been on the market for years. My refusal to try it was due to the lack of available information about it. What other explanation could there be? And is it legal to enroll inpatients into trials without their knowledge and consent?

    I remember this time very clearly as both the physician and psychiatrist laughed and thought I was psychotic for claiming that the bites all over my body were from bed bugs. This, despite the fact that I had photographic proof of the infestation in my house, my boyfriend at the time was also bitten all over, I was participating in an online Flickr photo group sharing images of the bugs and their bites (with their unique ‘breakfast, lunch and dinner’ bite pattern, and had even taken a live bedbug in to show my outpatient psychiatrist. (And of course we all know now that bed bugs have made an explosive return thanks to the banning of DDT.) Yet I was told by the unit’s physician that bed bugs “didn’t exist” and had been eradicated 50 years ago. I was in fact, more educated on the subject than any of my treatment providers and yet treated like it was evidence of psychosis. It was a maddening experience. And I was pushed to try Saphris and told that my bites and itchiness were psychosomatic! It was absolutely summer of 2008. The only explanation I can think of is that they were attempting to wrangle me into a clinical trial.

    I still have trouble wrapping my head around just how abusive psychiatry has been to me and how little credit I’ve been given in my ability to narrate my own story. Great article but it leaves me with more questions than answers.

  • I used golden paste (turmeric paste) pretty religiously during my withdrawal. The SSRI was the first and easiest. Lamictal withdrawal was hell and last. I developed gabapentin withdrawal syndrome multiple times, which is better studied than SSRI withdrawal. I’m coming up on four years off pharmaceuticals entirely. It’s liberating but I always feel the wolf at my heels and the threat of being medicated again with my physical health issues. I can’t ever go back to how I felt on the drugs. We’ve got to get rid of the concept of forced drugging. It’s a constant existential threat in the back of my mind.

  • There is a parallel to be drawn here with the developmentally disabled community. There is a understanding within that community that caretakers have a responsibility to prepare themselves and their charges for the onset of puberty, appropriate sexual relations, and their constitutional right to reproduce and care for their children (with or without substantial supports and supervision, case-depending.)

    I have to wonder why we (at least those of us in the know) understand that sex happens among the developmentally disabled and yet the same desires and behaviors are treated as deviance among the so-called “mad”.

  • I LOVE Dr Johnstone. Dr Aftab seems hostile and argumentative rather than interested in exploring Dr Johnstone’s position. This is the hallmark of a closed mind, shows a lack of authenticity, and has no place in scientific discourse. She handled him brilliantly. I found it interesting that two psychiatrists were given the opportunity to rebut her statements about their positions. I could be wrong but I don’t recall seeing this opportunity extended to Frances’ ideological opponents at the end of his recent interview with Aftab. I also recall Aftab sort of gushing and fawning over Dr Frances while his hostility toward Johnstone and the PTMF seemed thinly veiled. I don’t find him to be a unbiased interviewer in that respect. I think a better interviewer would be a philosopher outside of the psy disciplines.

    Still, Dr Johnstone nailed it!

    On a personal note, since Dr Paul McHugh was mentioned and he was my psychiatrist’s advisor during her residency at Johns Hopkins, I thought it worth mentioning that she may very well have saved me from a schizophrenia diagnosis by warning me to stay away from Hopkins in my early years caught up in psychiatry as McHugh supposedly thought the DID diagnosis was really evidence of schizophrenia. Although I have concluded for years now that the DID diagnosis is complete nonsense, and I’ve personally grown beyond needing that narrative, it did at least serve to justify my distress as a response to extreme chronic trauma. However, the addition of the bipolar (2) diagnosis (among others) muddied the waters and reduced my struggles to a concrete illness. I’m super glad to see clinicians like Johnstone pushing back against these illogical inconsistencies. Patients can’t be best served with being told their problems are both understandable reactions AND a discreet illness that can be medicated away.

    I agree with Dr Johnstone that there does seem to be an ideological divide across the pond, with American doctors (and the public) much more resistant to the idea that difficult life circumstances can precipitate great distress. I think American culture is much more individualistic even than UK culture which lends itself to the public and doctors dismissing the psychosocial factors that lead to distress. “We all have problems.” is a common refrain in America for dismissing others complaints without having to think or care about them. I think the concepts of not bothering others with your problems and not airing your dirty laundry fed people neatly into the narrative to seek professional support. We’ve lost our communities by no longer leaning on each other as we seek professionals to deal with our issues while concurrently being told how important it is to have a robust support system. The entire treatment arena is a land mine of inconsistencies in America.

    I was a skeptic of the PTMF but the more I have read, the more I appreciate this work and hope that it’s principles will be applied more widely.

  • Ha, Rachel, I did google that. Thanks! I found this and laughed my head off.

    If you really want to get worried and worked up about all the what ifs, you should check out Answers With Joe on Youtube. I don’t agree with him on everything but he’s a very smart dude with an interesting perspective.

    I don’t think that we’ll ever necessarily go exactly back to how things were. 2020 kind of shuffled the deck on a lot of traditions. But I also don’t think all of the changes are bad ones to make in the long run. I think uncertainty about the future is driving a lot of worry right now, for sure.

  • Oldhead, I think the question of whether or not it is hubristic for scientists to think they can manipulate nature (immune system, GMOs, etc) is far too broad a scope for this particular discussion. I’m not really interested in debating the merits of vaccination. I’m fully vaccinated concordant with my age, my pets are fully vaccinated. I support individual parents rights to choose when and which vaccines to give. I do not support refusing vaccines entirely as a philosophical stance without valid medical justification. My positions are generally pro vaccine and decidedly libertarian but I do not support the antivaxx agenda. That’s as much of a position on vaccines as I have and I do not want to muddy the debate about masks and infection control with a debate about whether or not vaccines as a whole are a good idea.

    I have reservations about how a COVID vaccine could possibly work and how one could be developed quickly and safely. The reason coronaviruses have been studied so extensively is because we haven’t yet been able to produce a vaccine or good treatment. And we don’t become immune to them. We lose our antibodies relatively quickly and are again susceptible. I think a lot of people have reservations about potential COVID vaccines that they didn’t have about the novel 2009 H1N1. By the way, H1N1 is a misnomer. The name is Novel 2009 H1N1. There are multiple strains of H1N1 and usually one is included in the yearly flu shot often along with an H1N3 as well as a B strain. People who already got the flu shot mostly did not see anything strange with getting a new strain of H1N1 in their shot. COVID is truly novel since there are no vaccinations for coronaviruses. So you’re asking people to take something totally new. And there is increasing resistance to the flu shot because of how poorly it protects against flu, whose numbers have been manipulated for a very long time, as Steve pointed out. So I think the polls coming out showing resistance to a COVID vaccine shouldn’t be any surprise. Anyway, that’s my take on all that.

    I don’t think all vaccines are good or bad but I’m with the people who are concerned about a COVID vaccine. Maybe we can find some mutual ground there.

  • You’re right, Oldhead, I have been lax in my citations because I have a poor cell signal and pay for data by the Gb. This has not been an inexpensive conversation for me. So, no, I did not go google a citation for you.

    I do not find someone who sold a book with biased misinformation scaremongering to parents which probably led more than a few kids into the hands of psychiatry to be a credible source. I’m not sorry.

    The Sean Hannity mention was meant to be a quick guide to my thoughts on him as a source and was not intended to refute whatever study he had linked to. Why do you need Alex Berensen or Dr Breggin as sources to back up your position, anyway, when you could simply share the data? Do you actually understand the data and know what statistical manipulation was used on it? How do you know the data are reliable? You’re trying to get me to believe that everything we know about pandemics and disease transmission should be thrown out the window because you read things that you have yet to actually demonstrate any understanding of.

    As far as Americans being propagandized to fear one another, I think there are far more egregious examples of this in the wider context of the security state we live in. I had not gotten the impression that masking was an example of being afraid of other people. Insofar as I am NOT a patriotic person, I still feel a sense of solidarity with those who have masked up for the common good. Those who know and show that your mask protects me and my mask protects you and we are in this together.

    My wider opinion on COVID overall is that most or all of the economic fallout could have been avoided simply by providing a basic income. Instead the billionaire class got a massive windfall and the rest of us got fucked.

    I think Bernie Sanders decision to drop out of the presidential race was honorable but misguided and now we’re all gonna get red white and blue surveillance cameras with facial recognition at every intersection and probably shoved up our collective asses, and that’s regardless of which sex offender gets elected to the next presidency.

    I really don’t see how any of that has any bearing on time honored traditions of preventing respiratory illness, which was what I jumped in to talk about. I don’t honestly think that the larger issues surrounding COVID, especially the economic issues, really belong in a discussion about infection prevention.

  • Of course, anyone who is paying any attention at all to what’s going on knows that the Left-Right divide is a false dichotomy in America. Compared to pretty much all other countries, what passes for Left among American Liberals would be considered center-right anywhere else. It’s only the constant propaganda we’re fed telling us that liberals are left wing that keeps this ignorant folly alive.

    I can certainly understand the eschewing of mainstream news sources but since NYT was used as a source, I didn’t think this would come up as an issue in the current debate. Here are some sources that you may find more acceptable.

  • Hey Rachel, I hear your frustration. We all have different circumstances and I know that Your experiences this year are probably markedly different from mine, which have been a challenge in their own right. You have had a great deal of dependence forced on you and were well acquainted with social isolation before COVID. I’m really sorry that you’re feeling so distressed by whatever additional restrictions you’re experiencing as a result of COVID.

    I still don’t think that asking the folks who can to mask up is too much to ask. We all want to get back to a sense of normal and the sooner we slow the spread, the sooner that will happen.

  • Hey Oldhead, just want to point out that it is most certainly NOT an ad hominem attack to point out Alex Berensen’s previous distortion of facts as a reason I don’t want to waste any more time with whatever he has to say. An ad hominem attack is using a characteristic of your opponent to unrelated to the subject matter as an argument against their premise. So if you say the sky is blue and I respond with “you’re ugly”. I have not refuted the sky is blue.

    You have used Alex Berensen as an authority, especially noting his credentials as an ex NYT reporter. That IS an appeal to authority, which is a legit logical fallacy.

    I’m more than willing to entertain data from credible sources that show that masks no longer prevent the transmission of respiratory illness. I’ll also expect pigs to fly and hell to freeze over before I see such evidence.

  • Here’s the rub, Oldhead, since I keep being maligned as “afraid” and needing “courage” and other equally condescending framings of my position…

    I have taken courses in biology and chemistry and have a fairly decent, albeit layman’s, understanding of the workings of cell biology and various routes of transmission of diseases. At least enough to follow along with the big words and data presented, though I readily admit I am neither a statistician nor data analyst. There was a point in time where I was preparing to apply to veterinary school but psychiatry had other plans for me. So suffice it to say I feel pretty confident in my ability to break down complex biological issues and at least understand how actual scientists have arrived at the conclusions they do.

    I did my final college project on the seasonal flu virus, and in my presentation, I broke down for the class the reasons we have yet to come up with a universal influenza vaccine (in short because the head of the virus is a constantly mutating protein, so any long term vaccine would need to target the more stable “tail” of the virus.) I got every question to every exam in that course correct, even the extra credit. So perhaps I am overconfident in my ability to understand these things but somehow I don’t think so.

    Now you’ve never birthed babies so I suspect that maternal mortality has never really been huge on your radar. But as a mother, grandmother and one time doula, infection control is something I’ve had to know a little about. A Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis is now famous for demonstrating that hand washing saved mother’s and babies lives. Of course, his pleas were ignored and it was another 40 or so years before hand washing in medical settings became an established norm. But I don’t *think* anyone has been recently obtuse enough to try to prove that all that handwashing medical personnel do is all a waste of time. Hand washing as a method of preventing infection is just something we all do because we know it works.

    Likewise, while nobody was really quite sure in the beginning the exact method of transmission of COVID, we know now that like other respiratory diseases, the primary and most direct method of infection is inhalation. (I’m no longer gloved, or wiping down my groceries, as Steve also said.) The jury still seems to be out on just how tiny (aerozolized) those droplets may be and how long they can linger, but nobody serious is actually refuting this data. The question is one of degree only.

    So, knowing that the main risk is through inhalation in enclosed spaces, like Steve has said, wearing masks inside seems both appropriate and responsible. I don’t have to be told this. I owned medical grade masks already and was wearing them when the surgeon general commanded that people stop buying masks. Although I was aghast at his suggestion that they wouldn’t help, I understood that move to be a political one to make sure that the medical personnel on the front lines would have access.

    Over the last few months, I have watched all of this playing out in the news and online with a mixture of confusion, anger, despair, frustration and sadness. I am not afraid. Although I would like to see my grandchildren grow up, I am not afraid of death. I am righteously angry at the abject refusal of a certain crowd to see anything akin to reason, while risking the lives of the vulnerable.

    I am not willing to throw out everything I know about biology, viruses, germ theory, infection prevention and control in order to appease my antiauthoritarian leanings. I am not going to “show it to the man” by cutting my nose off to spite my face.

    I have my own criticisms of the CDC as a lyme survivor, of course, and I’ve voiced them in past comments here on MIA. I have plenty of reason not to trust the government as A sole source of information on anything. That is neither here nor there. The point is that I also am using and applying common sense, which dictates that even when the surgeon general states something emphatically, I am going to do what makes sense to me based on this lifetime’s collection of knowledge and wisdom. That knowledge and wisdom yells “cover your damn mouth” and avoid those who are too obtuse or contrarian to do the same.

    I have to wonder what the folks who are repeating most loudly this nonsensical and, in my opinion quite harmful, anti-mask rhetoric are getting out of it.

  • Oldhead, I am already well acquainted with Alex Berensen and find him to be a disreputable source of anything akin to trustworthy information. I was asked to edit that out of a previous post and perhaps agreeing to that was a mistake.

    Alex Berenson is an anti pot crusader who wrote a scaremongering book about weed. He is known TO ME to be someone who cherry picks data to fit his biases. I find him about as reputable as Judith Miller – another former NYT journalist who did significant harm. I have no desire to read another word by either of them and think they’re are best dealt with by chuckling heartily when they are quoted as a source.

    I hope that clears up any confusion. I am not misinformed.

  • I. E. Cox said: “mask wearing expresses, to some extent, a desire to hide the wearer’s emotions and true feelings or intentions“

    I honestly never thought I’d argue for the merits of consensus reality but this is pushing my limits. I just have to say that I think assigning nefarious intentions to those of us following common sense infection prevention measures is quite a chilling stance.

  • OH said:

    “COVID is pretty much burning itself out in the South & West.”

    Thousands of children test positive as schools return to session.

    Cases increase tenfold in eastern Idaho:

    If COVID were a wildfire, GA would be Hell on earth:

    Mom begs people to wear masks days before dying:

    COVID is not “burning itself out“. Mask mandates are working. Albeit slowly and with a lot of bitter whining and gnashing of teeth from some quarters.

    I think the thing I find most interesting about the vaccine issue is that We Do Not Yet Have A Vaccine. This is currently a nonissue. So until we do, discussion over who will take it and what risks or benefits it might provide are neither here nor there and truly serve to distract from the only thing we can do at this point which is to prevent infection as much as we can in order to save lives until a vaccine or suitable treatments are discovered. It’s the refusal to try to prevent unneeded deaths and disability that just really makes no logical sense to me.

    This isn’t a political issue despite having been seized upon by political vampires whose lifestyles are funded and fueled by scaremongering and extremism. Viruses do not discriminate based on your chosen political totem animal.

  • Meanwhile some of us have the capacity to welcome certain vaccines while eschewing others. Both the hard antivaxxers and the vaccine crusaders are stifling reasoned debate…

    But at least last I checked, the pro-vaxx crowd wasn’t also trying to dismantle known methods of infection control.

    I despair. The only thing this conversation has achieved is to give ammunition to those who think the lot of us are simply “off our meds”. So thanks for that!

  • Like their Lyme counterparts (MyLymeData), COVID long haulers are self organizing and collecting data on recovery. The CDC has now recognized that as many as 1/3 of patients who were never sick enough to be hospitalized are also NOT getting better.

    Forget deaths. It seems we’ve established a thick skin against the pleas of the already aged and infirm. What is the acceptable long term disability rate for healthy folks who don’t recover?

  • I’m also kind of surprised, Oldhead, that you haven’t put two and two together yet. The whole reason for the US’s approach to COVID – essentially wait for a vaccine be damned the number of dead – was in order to justify a massive giveaway to PHRMA.

    If you don’t want to be vaccinated for COVID – I don’t, and less than half of Americans do – do your part to slow the spread of the virus so it can be tamped our for good.

    Herd immunity has never been established by letting a disease run rampant. There are always a continuing influx of freshly hatched humans waiting to be infected. Herd immunity IS A FUNCTION OF VACCINATION. Vaccination is aimed at the youngest of ages to attempt to induce immunity BEFORE exposure.

    You know I’m not on the bandwagon of vaccinating for every ailment either. But it’s a different argument from wearing a mask. And I guess your fundamental misunderstanding of how vaccination induced herd immunity is driving some of your desire to spread COVID far and wide.

    We can still stop COVID through quarantine and masks, though the effort is appearing Herculean at this juncture.

    But if you don’t want to wear a mask and you don’t want to get a vaccine, let me ask, what is an acceptable number of dead and disabled in your mind? Maybe we can at least establish an acceptable death and disability rate. And I wonder, should long haulers get a seat at this discussion to let us know what the long term consequences of surviving a COVID infection will be like? Because I hear it’s very much like what Lyme Disease patients experience and I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through (am still going through) on my worst enemy. YMMV

  • Berenson is so far out there, some of his positions were “too extreme even for [Sean] Hannity.”

    There is a big difference between throwing out everything you know about how respiratory diseases are transmitted cause you’ve drunk the conspiracists koolaid and critiqueing bad science because you actually love science and want to defend it from those who use it maliciously for financial gain (PHRMA). I Am the child of engineers and the wife of a research scientist. I have a profound respect for scientific inquiry and I find it completely mind boggling that we’re having this conversation at all and that you appear to have gone full right-wing Fox News level anti-science here.

    I have no problem calling out AP folks who abuse or deny science any more than I’ll call out psychiatry and it’s backers for doing exactly the same thing. Bad science is bad science is bad science and should be called out no matter who is promoting it. This anti mask rhetoric is bad science, it’s biased and it’s fueling an ongoing pandemic that is taking hundreds of thousands of lives In the US alone. It’s time to stop beating around the bush and start calling it what it is. A willful cull of the old and infirm.

    The problem here seems to be that you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of thinking COVID is just like the flu (it’s not – see the death toll), that herd immunity is possible (it’s likely not since immunity is now expected to last but a few months except perhaps for those lucky folks making the right T cells), that Sweden’s very recent drop in figures means their approach is working (Sweden has had five times the death rate of neighboring Nordic countries, and no studies are controlling for voluntary behavior changes as they deal with their dead, Sweden also encouraged mask wearing), that Sweden’s rate won’t increase again when kids return to school, or controlled for differences in population health (Sweden has nowhere near the rate of underlying cardiac and metabolic conditions that the US/UK have that have a direct correlation with our high death toll – in other words, Sweden is a healthier population than the US). Strikingly, Sweden has had a HIGHER per capita death rate than even the USA because of these lax measures and there is certainly not agreement between Sweden’s government and it’s top doctors (epidemiologists and virologists) about this approach. None of these factors make Sweden’s approach look like a reasonable course of action, and Sweden has been roundly denounced for months because of it.

    Barriers work at arresting vapor transmission. Full stop. We sneeze into our elbows in order to catch the large and small (aerosolized) droplets that contain our germs from floating away and into other people’s lungs. Think of it like a condom for your breathing space.

    I honestly can’t think of a more abusive behavior from the dominant class right now than demanding the right to continue to spread COVID among vulnerable populations.

  • Newsflash, it is possible to think for oneself without going Full Alex Jones. It’s frustrating to see otherwise intelligent people jumping down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories when the facts we know are damning enough on their own.

    It’s certainly plausible that COVID-19 is an escaped lab virus. The US military is widely known to have bio weapons laboratories now and in the past. An escaped pathogen is something they train to prevent but humans are imperfect and make mistakes. So fine, it could potentially be an escapee from the Wuhan lab. Big deal. That doesn’t mean that every conspiratorial story you hear is true. And why should that cause you to then believe that basic concepts regarding airborne pathogens and their spread is now suspect? Have we all been sneezing into our elbows or hankies for nothing or do we still believe in the ability of vapor barriers to protect us from sharing each other’s infected breathing spaces? Have we completely abandoned established science on the transmission of diseases?

    I am compelled to comment again on the borderline paranoid anti-mask rhetoric I’m seeing here because for some people it’s literally a matter of life and death. Coming from someone with a compromised immune system and considerable experience in this arena pre-COVID, masks absolutely DO provide protection to both the wearer and to others. Is a barrier like this imperfect? Absolutely! Does it reduce infection rates and save lives? Yes! The protection to the wearer is WHY immune compromised people wear them! It’s why I personally owned and wore my own stockpile of masks when I was sickest early last year and why I happily wear a high quality medical grade mask in public spaces again. But it is also true that your wearing a mask protects others because if you are infected but asymptomatic, you can still shed enough viral load to make other people sick. And yes it is true that SOME people should not wear masks due to specific medical issues (respiratory and cardiac, generally), but most people can and should take precautions to protect themselves and more importantly protect the people around them that they could potentially kill. People like me are depending upon the healthy population to do the right thing and stop the spread of this virus. I don’t know how else to put that. But I suppose it is some measure of kismet that a small percentage of otherwise healthy people are going to learn the hard way.

    From another perspective which makes the anti-mask diatribes of the resisters especially frustrating is that many people already wore masks for many different reasons including the immune compromised like me, infectious people, cancer patients, asthmatics in cold or polluted environments, and people who are just feeling under the weather and have the decency to not infect others. Multiple other cultures have already normalized mask wearing and have been multiple times successful in stopping prior coronaviruses like SARS and MERS and indeed brought COVID-19 under control rather swiftly. mask wearing has been practiced and studied and shown to reduce infection rates for generations without causing harm to the wearer. And last I heard there really and truly have NOT been hoards of people dropping dead from wearing masks, unlike with COVID, which at this point appears to be a willful genocide of the sickest and most marginalized American citizens, which have made up a majority of the deaths. And the tone deafness of the likes of the good Dr Breggin himself are hard to reconcile in the age of Black Lives Matter and the recognition of the role privilege plays in determining who lives and dies in this country

    Neither self isolating nor wearing a mask will kill people but COVID could kill me and people like me. And it IS killing our marginalized and oppressed comrades at a frightening rate!! And since immunity after infection appears to be short lived, there is near zero chance of creating herd immunity, with or without a vaccine, so I suspect masks are going to be around for quite a while in the US. It doesn’t seem like a big ask for everyone (but especially of healthy and asymptomatic infected people) to do their part to stop the spread of this devastating disease. Wearing a mask doesn’t require a lot of effort, but you do have to at least give a shit about not killing the people at risk around you.”

  • “There is always an exception“ – bingo! And Americans love the exceptions. It is why poverty porn and disability porn and the like are so popular. The idea that some extraordinary (and probably very lucky) people manage to “rise above” their circumstances is the justification for oppressing the masses. It feeds into the “hard work”/“bootstrap”/“competition is healthy” mentality that is at the core of the capitalist/colonist/opportunist/classist economic system in which the majority end up at the lower end while a relative few are held up as shining examples for all to try to emulate.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
    — John Steinbeck

  • This is such an important topic and I’m disappointed there was absolutely zero sourcing of the wealth of information delivered here. “It has been shown” – where? “Obviously” – to whom? This could have been a really powerful article but instead comes across as some random ex-pat (therapist?) artist’s opinion. MIA can do better.

  • It’s been a shitty year for a whole lot of people and even some of my highly successful friends are seriously struggling right now. I don’t know how headlines can day after day warm about unemployment numbers, an eviction and foreclosure crisis, deaths and severe disability from COVID, but we’re supposed to believe that our distress is a manifestation of mental illness rather than a justified and reasonable response to extreme adversity and structural failure of the state to support and protect us.

    If you can’t find your chemical imbalance amidst all this bullshit, try looking behind the couch cushions. You probably won’t find it, but there might be some stray quarters down there that you can use at the laundromat…

  • No, we mostly don’t work with parents to make them better parents. We mostly target abused and neglected kids for treatment.

    There is definitely an element of oppression affecting many parents. I have experienced such. I’ve also experienced being the identified patient in a broken family with affluent parents who were NOT held accountable for their abuses and neglect. I know this system from both ends.

  • I’m not talking about sympathy, actually. I don’t really place any value on sympathy. When I’m struggling or in pain, sympathy does shit all for me. Talking to me, checking up on me, distracting me with tales of your own woes, those are all helpful and welcome. Expressions of sympathy seem to me designed to make the person expressing it feel better and like they’ve “done something” when they’ve really only comforted themselves. This is specifically why I mentioned the messages the bereaved hear. When my dad died, I wanted to start punching people after about the tenth “I’m sorry for your loss”. These canned messages of sympathy are about as useful as “thoughts and prayers” during times of public tragedy. There are kinder ways to express heartfelt sadness (empathy) for another person’s pain. That’s all I’m saying.

    Now as you said, if someone sticks around and the conversation keeps going after that, it’s a different story. But my experience has been that most inquiries into how others are doing are superficial and pointless. I’ve discovered that when someone asks how I am in that superficial way, a good response is a simple “hi!”

  • The problem as I see it is a lack of sincerity across the board. We seem to have collectively decided to have a polite but very superficial, egotistical and competitive society rather than a sincere, compassionate, collectivist society.

    It’s definitely a different situation when the conversation is between professional and client where there is a power imbalance than it is between friends, family or acquaintances. But to specifically answer OH: “I’m sorry to hear that” has always been one of my pet peeves because I tend to interpret people very literally. The literal interpretation of those words is that you’re sorry you just heard what they told you and that’s kind of a crappy thing to say to someone in pain if you stop to think about it. It’s part of a culture of positivity bullying where politeness is valued more than sincerity. We are taught to ask people how they are merely to be polite, and we are also taught to give a polite answer during these meaningless and superficial interactions, which we euphemistically call having “good social skills”. It can be kind of privately amusing to watch people stammer and struggle to respond when you give them a tragic story in response to their canned and completely insincere inquiry.

    There’s no wonder the suicide rate is as high as it is. Polite white culture (which dominates American culture overall) demands that no matter what is happening, you don’t react to it, you “cope” with it. You put on a happy face, you don’t complain, you don’t burden others, everyone has problems, etc, etc. You certainly don’t yell, cry, show anger or really any emotion – no matter how egregiously you’ve been or are being violated. You seek appropriate professional help and fake it til you make it.

    Consider these two responses to hearing someone is in pain:

    “I’m sorry to hear that”


    “That’s awful. I hope you feel better soon.”


    “I’m so sorry for your loss” is another phrase that transmits just about zero sincerity to the grieving person.

    Contrary to popular thought, it doesn’t take more effort to be sincere and caring and genuine in your interactions with others. There’s no requirement to solve or take responsibility for fixing people’s problems. It takes almost no effort to be kind. But it might take practice for those who have been socialized to be polite.

    Obviously, people have different values and behave accordingly. YMMV.

  • “For me, it gets down to genuineness. A person can use a lot of different ways to express regret that they have harmed you, whether accidentally or intentionally. I have no button on “sorry” per se, but it is often used in insincere ways. Something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” isn’t really acknowledging any causal responsibility on the part of the speaker, whereas something like, “I’m really sorry you’re feeling hurt – it wasn’t my intention, and I want to understand what I did that hurt you,” would come off as a person who really regrets his/her action. So the term “sorry” isn’t really the issue for me, it’s whether the person is interested in understanding my experience and making sure it doesn’t happen again, or is just “apologizing” without really recognizing what happened or having any intention of doing anything differently should the same situation arise in the future.”

    This part, specifically. Another word for apologizing repeatedly for the same transgression but never changing ones behavior is ‘abuse’.

  • Shout it from the mountaintops, Megan! This is soul food and so desperately needed right now, especially the parts about accountability and pseudo-apologies.

    “what makes me stronger is belonging, love, connecting with people I know believe in me and can see my best even when I feel I’m at my worst (or actually am at my worst)” This part literally brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. (And you know who you are – so much LOVE back at you for loving me through all of this ugliness right now.)

  • What a brilliant interview, Miranda, thank you! I like Dr Gold’s approach to child behavioral issues and hope we will hear more from her. Certainly her style would have done wonders for me as a child. It seems so obvious to me that children’s issues are family and parent’s issues and the child’s behavior can’t be so neatly extracted from its environmental influences as it is so often treated in traditional children’s mental health treatment. How refreshing!

  • Logic and reason are not the opposites of emotion. One can be very emotional and still have a rational, logical, well-reasoned position. We have a cultural tendency to treat people who we view as overly emotional as if they aren’t also being logical and then erroneously dismiss whatever they’re saying or doing as mental or call them mentally ill.

  • Thank you, Miranda, for shining a light on how the mainstream media spins stories about psychiatric and institutional care to present a false illusion of, well, care for the so-called “mentally ill”. The caricatures of violent patients are particularly egregious. Sadly, they haven’t done a much better job with the prison or police brutality topics either, and the myopic view of the “violent criminal” continues to perpetuate those systems as well.

    One needn’t support Trump or the GOP to see why the cries of “fake news” have been so popular. MIA continues to be an important source of information about psychiatry in the alternative media, and I hope as an institution it never sinks to the level of the Pulitzer winning organizations who so blatantly propagandize the American public.

  • Actually, anyone can have fears and emotional upset. What matters is that they don’t get expressed to people who will cause you harm or take away your freedom in order to assuage THEIR fears – it’s fine to fear for your professional license, for example, and to lock someone up in order to protect yourself. So, to be clear, only those of us not in positions of power need to be careful who we express ourselves to. This is why mutual aid will always be a better method of support than going to see any professional anywhere.

  • This right here, Rachel! I spent so many years beating myself up and lamenting why I couldn’t ever seem to *get better* from an “illness” that seemed beyond my control. Now when I’m feeling down, I can *always* ascribe it to circumstantial issues. Even the ones beyond my control (people are assholes) are easier to deal with because I can identify them. Simply knowing it’s not an internal flaw helps me shrug it off when life is stressful.

    I do think those of us who have spent so much effort and energy getting to this state of mind are having an easier time coping with COVID stress than those who don’t have our histories of struggle with the system.

  • I can’t disagree more with this perspective. A person can be physically ill and exhibit symptoms of mental distress but that does NOT make the condition a mental illness. Syphilis, Lyme Disease, and a host of other medically curable pathogens that can exhibit emotional manifestations are never going to be cured with improved living conditions, they are merely physical illnesses with mental effects. Likewise, altered mental states due to horrid living conditions are NOT a physical illness that can be cured with medicine. That these states get conflated is the real issue.

    Mental illness is a misnomer that hurts both physically ill people as well as the masses of emotionally distressed people whom are reacting to culturally created violent oppression.

  • Thank you for the kind words, madmother. I sure had a run of intense anger there for a while. I’ve mellowed in tandem with significantly improved physical health so I suppose I’ve had less spleen to vent. 🙂 Working on making the world a better place has been a more private affair, for now at least. I am still here reading regularly and appreciate catching your perspective on these issues.

  • I find this comment suggesting better training to “handle” “unruly” people with “moderate” physical force to be very disturbing in this milieu.

    There are many alternatives to force and coercion in care for distressed people which have been discussed ad nauseum in both articles and comments here. The most obvious alternative is prevention of these distressed states to begin with. Once you’re talking about any need for force, you’ve long since demonstrated you don’t understand the basic issues at the heart of the systemic oppression that leads to extreme states.

    Very disappointed this wasn’t moderated or at least better expressed.

  • What an incredible testimony about your experience. Thank you so much for sharing this. I especially appreciated your gentle description of other patients whose behavior was problematic, as well as your understandable resistance to medication which was used to further label you. I hope that when I do finally tell my story openly that I can be as eloquent as you have been here.

  • And when folks ask the question of what alternatives do we have to psychiatry, I’m going to point them to this answer, Susan. The alternative is, of course, to reinstate the social contract – we start by providing for the basic needs of every member of society. Poverty, homelessness, preventable illness, educational inequities – these are crimes perpetrated by the financial elites with the privileged wannabes acting as accomplices in their scramble to the top of the pile. Yes, the so-called “middle class” is complicit. The class system itself is what must be abolished. Police, prison, psychiatry, these are all just tools of the oppressor. But the oppressor is not just the Bezos and Gates and Kochs of the world. The oppressor is the comfortable middle class folks working from home in their safe neighborhoods having their groceries delivered and never having to think too hard about those who don’t have that privilege. They gave at the office, contributed to the food drive, put a twenty in the offering plate at church. We have to stop letting those folks off the hook for not fighting harder for the increasing number fighting for scraps at the bottom. With an ever shrinking middle class, I think more folks are starting to realize this. But it isn’t enough to criticize the super rich. They got to that position by the same tokenism to the poor that the comfortable have always given.

  • “Where the insurance for psychiatry never runs out.”

    This is precisely my fear under a Medicare for All scenario. Getting off Medicare was one of the best parts of marrying into a modicum of money and becoming ineligible for my SSI payments, which was 90% of my disability. Went off disability, finally got off Medicare. I have good private insurance but it’s still insurance. I go to the doctor only if I truly need it.

    I’d love for everyone to have the medical care they need but I fear for the day that we all have access to unlimited amounts of psychiatric “care”. It won’t come from psychiatrists for most people. There aren’t enough of them. It will come from primary doctors who will drug you into a stupor for being crazy enough to complain about your physical illnesses.

    O.O., your story could easily have been my journey with Lyme Disease, with ever worsening health to the point that I ended up with pericarditis before the various doctors finally believed there was something legitimately physically wrong.

  • Wow. I usually have a pretty knee-jerk response to most MHP, but I recognize the incredible humility in your story – your transformation from authoritarian treatment provider to student of human distress. Well done.

    I suspect you may get piled on for your promotion of alternatives to psychiatry, but I am in agreement with your assessment that alternatives are necessary. I’m only not convinced that more study on alternative *treatments* is what is needed. I believe what is truly needed – besides major systemic changes in our economic and justice systems – is the empathy you have expressed in this article. I consider that, truly caring about the welfare of others, the first step to creating the kind of environment where healing and growth flourish.

    I hope that you will also come to realize that more research on treatments are futile and join the activist community pushing for an end to the inhumane oppressions so many of us face. My own pursuit has been in creating intentional community, beginning with very intentional relationships. On it’s own it has nothing to do with psychiatry, but I’m working on a ground up approach that I hope will inspire others.

    Welcome to MIA, I hope you will write more.

  • “ (1) White people’s ‘mental health’–as judged by the psychiatric paradigm–is poorer than black people’s in general. In 2014, Whites’ suicide rate was three times that of Blacks and white Americans are twice as likely to take psychiatric drugs as other races.”

    +1 While I don’t treat white or Black ppl as a monolith, I do think there is far more cohesiveness and community among Black ppl due to shared historical struggle. That struggle has been so severe that my impression is that many Black ppl don’t have time or space to fall apart. Indeed, this seems to be the basis for comments like white fragility and white women’s tears. It also seems to me that the oppression leveled at the Black community has conversely been a glue of sorts that fuels the struggle. In terms of community, white ppl seem far more atomized on the whole with the nuclear family structure and bootstrap mentality and increasingly the loss of social structures like church that still seems stronger among the Black community on the whole.

    I always love hearing your thoughts on these issues. You pull no punches. Keep it up.

  • I do believe this is the most radical article I’ve ever read on this website and I heartily approve. It comes very close to my own stance that we need to completely abolish the Carceral State including police, prisons, and psychiatry. Very well written, Will! Thank you!

    I used to joke that my donations were going to pay for Moderator Steve. Please feel free to earmark my contributions for more pieces like this!

  • This response reads like Patriarchy 101 and reaffirms my decision to stay as far away from the medical system (principally, doctors) as possible in order to best maintain my physical health and emotional wellbeing.

    Most of us get off meds without a doctor’s oversight for exactly these reasons.

    Psychiatric drugs are not medications. They do not treat any known conditions or disease state. They are sedatives. They make oppression easier to “cope” with. But they don’t help anyone to fight back and change systems of oppression.

  • I experienced five juvenile psychiatric hospitals and the best one hands down was the state hospital in Maryland that had a volleyball team and tournaments. We weren’t just exercising, we were cooperating, building team spirit and having a great time. We also had an ice cream parlor on campus that you could earn trips out to. Seems a lot more humane than what passes for treatment now. That was almost 30 years ago and I was one of the last patients on that unit as we were all transferred or released so it could be converted to a geriatric only campus.

  • Well, I have to point out that cannabis isn’t a single standardized product like a Pepsi or a prescription drug. I’m an unapologetic pothead, but I won’t go near most of what’s available in dispensaries. The higher THC products are especially dangerous for inducing paranoia and severe depression and I don’t understand why this isn’t better understood. Most of what you can get isn’t anything like our parent’s hippie pot. Cannabis with specific properties especially useful for sleep, pain and PTS symptoms but only at very low doses, high CBD (10% and up is great), very low THC (less than 5%).

    This isn’t in response to the original poster. Don’t want to do drugs, that’s your business. But I bristle when cannabis is described as if it’s a standardized product rather than many different plants with a range of effects depending on it’s chemical constituents.

  • Thanks. It’s always a balancing act. I think individual people who happened to be called to the field of therapy *can* do amazing work in helping others heal. But not when the task is approached by addressing “symptoms” with “treatments” – especially not the manualized versions. Even psychodynamic therapy approaches distress in the wrong ways.

    I wish there were greater progress toward humanizing distress and normalizing trauma-related behaviors and emotions so as to propel the effected to change the system rather than their response to it.

  • There are no manualized therapies that can overcome the constant existential threat the majority of us live under. It’s insulting to people’s intelligence that we keep getting these therapies repackaged as some sort of treatment when the cure is to dismantle the abusive power systems that keep folks oppressed and anxious.

    Let’s start with calling out campaigns that increase anxiety, such as those encouraging people to “say something when they see something”.

    Threat, and the fear response it provokes, is literally baked into the system.

  • “I am trying to track down the study that allegedly shows people avoid care for fear of involuntary commitment. I think it is one of those mental health propagated myths that has no basis in fact,”

    They won’t see us. Survival demands remaining invisible. A philosophical argument could be made that psychiatric survivors don’t truly exist in any meaningful way.

    Thank you, Sera. I appreciated the effort. You made some good points.

  • Therapy has been used to reinforce internalizing reactions to trauma and oppresion by promoting coping skills in leui of concrete personal and political action to change oppressive systems. Mutual aid between equals removes the disempowering professional/client dynamic so that folks can focus their energy on effective action to create change.

    Therapy is less than useless in this context.

  • I don’t want any more therapy. I want justice. I just don’t know how that could ever be achieved. No one can give me back the years of motherhood lost or the stigma from all directions from being a mental patient or the lost income from being shuffled onto the disability system. The mental health system piles additional harm onto already harmed individuals.

    This can’t be repaired by changing how we feel about it or being heard and validated. How do we get justice? That’s all I care about now.