Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Comments by kindredspirit

Showing 1523 of 1597 comments. Show all.

  • This is spot on, as usual, Meghan. And what you say here about connection is why I am such a huge advocate for intentional community. We have been so divided that I think we are all suffering to an extent with the loss of connection and community.

    If I could strike just one phrase from the English lexicon, it would be “That sounds like a topic to discuss with your therapist.” It seems to be the modern version of not “airing dirty laundry in public” – the pretense among polite society that certain topics are too personal or, in modern parlance, beyond the ability for laypeople to help each other with, requiring professional assistance. The feedback loop of judgements -> self-stigma -> isolation -> poor coping ability -> judgements -> self-stigma -> isolation -> worse coping… ad nauseum.

    Where I have become stuck is in developing strong connections. It takes a LOT of time and energy and caring to build up and maintain strong relationships. It’s a lot easier to remain in an echo chamber and in the safety of like-mindedness where you don’t have to do much but except for stay in line with the herd. But God help you if you object to the herd mentality and find yourself alone again because you’ve gone against the group-think. Society has become a bit like perpetual high school. We can do better.

  • DW, thanks. Though I’ll clarify that I wasn’t actually diagnosed with schizophrenia, just strongly warned that I would be if I went to a certain medical institution that didn’t believe in dissociative disorders. Funny that I reject those now as well, and I can’t help but notice the timing of my DID diagnosis coming so close on the heels after I was polydrugged.

    My point about schizophrenia is that it seems clear that a significant portion of that population is living with some kind of treatable medical condition and that if doctors would pay attention to what is going on in the body, more of those folks could be properly treated and regain their lives. Although the results of certain psychotherapeutic interventions like Open Dialogue make it clear that another significant portion is dealing with something psychological/spiritual. In any case, what psychiatry has to offer is not medical care or psychological support but instead labels and altering brain chemistry – neither of which is a treatment of the underlying issue.

    I think it’s also really important that the diagnosed individual retains the agency to make whatever meaning they can from their experiences. It is never my intent to cause someone upset by sharing my thoughts on the greater political ramifications of certain beliefs. Your point is well taken that at least those commenting here have gotten the memo about Psychiatry’s Book of Libels. But I find myself regularly either holding my tongue or starting a dialogue with people close to me about psychiatry, the labels and the drugs, when they start talking about their “mental illness” and their “medications”. And it is clear that the mass delusion about such – at least the way such phenomena are explained by the APA and their DSM – is alive and well. The general public seems to still be under the spell. Certainly, those in positions of authority are happy to wield the labels to maintain control. It’s just in my nature at this point to challenge beliefs about the diagnoses when I see them coming up. But, if the label works for you, by all means. I have certainly had times in my life where I embraced them as well and I understand their utility. It isn’t my goal to remove agency from anyone and I regret that attempts at dialogue – which for me are for the purpose of understanding, no necessarily convincing – become far more adversarial in these pages than they might if we were just sitting over coffee discussing opposing viewpoints, which I think we need to do more of even when it’s uncomfortable.

    As for the lyme, it is maddening in that it is another instance where a medical society is impeding progress. The IDSA acts as a gatekeeper to proper treatment with their long outdated lyme treatment guidelines that are woefully inadequate and downright antiquated just as the APA acts as a gatekeeper for better and radically different care for those in mental distress. I’d go so far as to say there is a lot of appallingly harmful medicine (and medical research) being practiced in pursuit of profit. It’s hard to even blame the individual doctors who have been taught erroneous concepts in medical school and have them reinforced by their respective medical societies. And doctors who have taken the risk to treat patients more aggressively outside of the accepted guidelines have lost their medical licenses. In fact, that is still happening and just did last year to a lyme literate physician in Virginia. And we all see how some professional critics of psychiatry have been ostracized and shamed as at best looney and at worst actively harming people and making people afraid to “seek help”. So I think it’s prudent to be aware of the interests that keep doctors in line as well. You’ll notice that most of the outspoken critics of psychiatry are retired or near the end of their career and no longer have to worry about censure and losing their livelihood for standing up to these Goliaths.

    I did not know that the neuroleptics can cause pericarditis though I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m sorry you also know what it’s like. I remember it being terrifying not being able to breathe when I lay down. But I was years off of the drugs when I developed pericarditis. My case was the result of a hapless urgent care doctor not understanding my massive wrist swelling and throwing drugs at it. The lesson to be learned is that you never treat a bacterial infection with steroids. Or at least not on their own without antibiotics. The steroids suppress the immune system allowing the bacteria to grow out of control. On the other hand, that appears to be what made me sick enough to get properly diagnosed. I had a smoldering infection for many many years (with the medical receipts to prove it), which is the common course for late lyme patients as psychiatric effects are the most common presentation in adults with lyme.

    Anyway, I’m so sorry about your friend’s husband. Suicide is the number one cause of death for Lyme disease. Heart failure and sudden cardiac death are also common among those with late diagnoses. Cancer is also frequent due to the inflammation from active infection and a damaged immune system. The announcements of deaths of well known figures with Lyme come far too frequently to the community. I suppose I know that my days on this earth are numbered even with treatment. Between the damage from years of psych drugging and ECT, poorly treated Lyme and now Covid – which ran through the house in January – this body is just tired.

    I keep raising awareness primarily because the impact of this disease gets far too little coverage in psychiatric reporting – even here at MIA – despite millions of new infections every year feeding fresh victims into the psychiatric system, and medical propaganda that insists lyme is both easy to treat and that the post-treatment symptoms are evidence of psychiatric illness definable by the DSM. The same has been used on those with CFS after Epstein-Barr reactivation and is now being declared about “post-Covid” patients. The bottom line for me at this point is to pushback against narratives that keep people ill – a “mad” identity will never cure a systemic infection, though it may make an individual feel better, at least for a time, about emotional and behavioral effects they don’t understand. And like I said, I’m all for people making meaning of their experiences. But I want to remind that there ARE physical causes of psychiatric effects beyond the typical thyroid and immune diseases and that those people deserve proper medical care that doesn’t dismiss us as psych patients. Although, as one last note, I’ll point out that even when there is a physical cause, it’s common for those people to ALSO be psych treated and psych drugged under the guise that those conditions *cause* psychiatric illness. So for me, all I see is a system that insists psychiatric “comorbidity” is a thing, a system that reinforces the labels and uses the physical illnesses as a launching pad so that either way, with or without an underlying physical illness the drugs and labels are doled out like candy because it is profitable and serves a convenient narrative.

  • Psychiatry doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what is actually wrong with someone, whether it’s trauma or poverty or chronic illness. The entire playbook is individual brain disorders and manipulating brain chemistry or neural pathways.

    Let’s have medical interventions where they are warranted – and I mean truly addressing the etiology of illness, not just throwing more drugs at people to shut them up – as well as psychotherapeutic interventions where warranted and desired. A general approach of healing and empowerment would be leagues better than the rotten mess we have now.

  • Actually, I think “collusion” is a loaded term suggesting that elected representatives are fully aware that the legislated interventions they are promoting do more harm than good. The issues go a lot deeper than that.

    I think we need to look at two factors, the most important of which is the single biggest barrier to almost all legislation and that is whether or not something will bring short term or long term results. In a system where we hold elections every 2-6 years with few restrictions on time limits in office, for most politicians, their main focus is going to be on what gets them re-elected. Those are the projects that appear cost effective with robust short term results they can use in their next campaign.

    The second issue is looking at who they actually represent. In other words, who are their donors? Whose interests are they beholden to? The interests of rural and suburban voters can appear at direct odds with those of urban voters. Rich and poor voters again, different interests. So politicians are going to choose whose interests they are going to value more. It’s not inherently wrong for a politician to protect the interests of the people in their districts. It becomes more of an issue when districts are so deeply gerrymandered that so many politicians have deeply conflicting interests among their constituents.

    It seems to me like a fixable set of issues but there are for sure many politicians for whom ‘corrupt’ is an apt label. One need only look at the mess in Georgia to understand the attempts to suppress the number of eligible voters because when more people are able to vote – especially those for whom voting is more difficult for myriad legitimate reasons (like the urban poor, BIPOC, etc) – those politicians are less likely to win. You could design an anti-corruption course just from studying Georgia elections.

    I think you’re in the UK so the situation is a little different but to be honest, the UK seems to follow in the US’ footsteps so even though you have more protections and more political parties, your system doesn’t seem to work much different from ours. Power corrupts.

  • Evan, I think this is very close to my own understanding of the multiple etiologies and, indeed presentations, of what is currently labeled schizophrenia. It seemed a few years ago that there was going to be a shift in thinking, with researchers declaring schizophrenia amounted to at least nine different diseases/disorders. Except that push seems to have stagnated since. My own knowledge on this has expanded since my lyme diagnosis as schizophrenia is one of the many misdiagnoses of people with tick borne diseases like lyme and especially bartonella. And being infected with more than one TBD is the norm rather than the exception. But most patients who manage to get treatment for lyme do not also receive treatment for the additional organisms they are infected with, contributing to the ongoing symptoms many of us continue to live with. It is unfortunately very common for lyme patients to receive one or more psychiatric diagnoses, including schizophrenia. This contributes to the delay in diagnosis and treatment of the underlying infections causing the psychiatric phenomena. And the failure to treat for co-infections can contribute to ongoing psychiatric labeled illness. I continue to regard myself as lucky to have gone down the DID/Bipolar pathway rather than the schizophrenia pathway, if for no other reason than the doses of neuroleptics are usually much lower for those labeled bipolar than for schizophrenia.

    One of the things in the literature on psychotic disorders that I find especially intriguing is the connection between those disorders and CVD. I suspect a great deal of that is directly due to the social and medical factors that strongly influence those so labeled. The lack of self-care that heavily drugged individuals tend to exhibit seems to be strongly causative from my viewpoint. Interestingly, though, I have independently noticed that when my episodes of derealization are strongest also tends to correspond with noticeable cardiac effects. Since I have been off the drugs for nearly five years, lead a fairly active lifestyle, haven’t smoked in over a decade, and my episode of pericarditis was diagnosed and linked to the active lyme infection, I have no reason to believe that lifestyle factors are related to the cardiac effects I am dealing with. But I am clearly having cardiac involvement in conjunction with the times when the mental effects are worst. Usually severe joint pain follows within a few days. This leads me to believe that I am indeed living with ongoing infection. (I’d like to point out that I received standard lyme treatment of 30 days of doxycycline and NOT IDSA’s own recommended treatment of ceftriaxone infusions for nervous system disease which cardiac involvement always indicates. Like most lyme patients, I was undertreated for the stage of disease I presented with.) So now two years after my lyme treatment, I am slowly deteriorating again back to as sick as I was physically when I was first diagnosed with the lyme. And mentally it isn’t much better.

    So I guess what I’m getting at is that it is frustrating to me to see the sort of either/or approach to these experiences – that they are either psychological or physical. I suspect for many people there is a great deal of overlap between the physical and psychological depending on the specific etiology of the mental experiences. I appreciate that you point out Dr Hoffer’s work on pellagra and B3 deficiency. I get excited myself when I read new advances in understanding on the connection between inflammation and mental experiences as the primary effect of TBD infection is widespread inflammation. I am hopeful that the study of long-Covid will usher in greater understanding of acute and post-treatment infectious diseases and their mental effects (also seen in PANSS).

    I often hear pushback of the trauma/psychological model of psychotic disorders from those with lived experience who claim to have no experiences of severe trauma and don’t believe that is the source of their experiences and my immediate thought is of the other known etiologies of these effects and so I feel a great deal of sadness at the lack of will in the medical/psychiatric community to find what is actually effecting the person from the long list of potential causes that could potentially be treated and bring the person back to a state of health. It also causes me some distress to see the demands for the right to be mad when I believe many more of us could and should be demanding the right to be well – to have our physical illnesses treated appropriately and without psychiatric labeling or drugging. I am not mad. I am lucid and aware of what is happening to me, including mental deterioration during flares of physical illness with lyme symptoms. And like a great deal of lyme patients, being taken seriously and receiving appropriate treatment by a doctor who takes insurance (because so many LLMDs do not) is proving to be a cruel joke.

    I guess you could say I’m on a mission to raise awareness that the presence of physical illness in psychotic disorders merits treatment of the underlying physical illness and not merely attempts to suppress the mental effects (either through psychology or psychiatry) in order to make the person in an extreme state less problematic to the community. Psychiatric drugging will never truly treat the known physical causes of psychotic symptoms and they don’t appear to be very effective for the effects of psychological trauma either. Nor will psychotherapy or mad pride treat ongoing infection or vitamin deficiencies or genomic errors or the host of other known causes of these effects.

    Some days I just feel like giving up because I feel like there is no place for me, that my experiences of trauma, of psychiatric oppression and of ongoing physical illness are too contradictory to various communities to make me an effective advocate for anything. All I really want is to feel better and to help others do the same without being labeled and drugged by one group of dogooders or told there is nothing wrong with me by another.

    Long-winded way of saying I appreciate your analysis here.

  • This is what makes physics so interesting. Physicists seem the most in pursuit of contradicting everything we think we know about how the universe works! They handle ambiguity really well. And you have to be barking mad to even conceive of some of the more recent experiments going on at CERN.


  • I think lived experience is a useful concept when attempting to gain more control over the policies that directly effect your life and that are being developed by those who have none. It is less useful when one person’s lived experience is in direct conflict with another person’s lived experience. At that point, making an effort to value the diversity of experience and come to agreements that don’t harm or privilege one group over another is desirable but challenging. Many people would consider themselves as having lived experience of help rather than harm from the mental health system and this often places “consumers” at odds with “survivors”. I also think that this is where we can find benefit from evaluating what the long-term data suggest about current methods of help so that someone who has found that help useful in the shorter term can be educated about the risks of that same help over the longer term. Though I don’t think a total meeting of the minds is ever going to be possible and that sometimes knowing the exact nature of another’s experience is less useful than simply connecting with the feelings they have about whatever they’re dealing with since feelings are a much more universal concept. I may not understand exactly why someone is hurting or why what they’ve been through is significant to them. But I can understand THAT they are hurting. So in different contexts, different values emerge.

  • I honestly can’t think of a more ill-fated task for psychiatry than to be charged with researching public health outcomes. Psychiatry has been shown to repeatedly ignore evidence in favor of protecting its guild interests and profit center – drugs. What makes anyone think this will change?

    “There has been a dearth of research on deaths of despair within psychiatry”

    That’s because the main function of Psychiatry has been to medicalize normal human suffering and place the “disease” within the individual. This article shows a clear misunderstanding of the role Psychiatry serves in society!

    “there are other causes of premature mortality such as hypertension or diabetes”

    These are also very closely associated with the same environemental conditions that lead to deaths of despair – i.e., poverty, ACEs, etc. It’s hard to comprehend how a thinking person could view them as a confounding factor.

  • Management of the population is one of the primary demands of government. The basic function of the carceral state – which includes both “corrections” as well as behavioral healthcare – is to keep the population under control. It is in the government’s interest to maintain control over the population even as a portion are harmed by such. One could ask the same kind of question about the “war” on drugs, that educated people know was largely an effort to suppress the Black population and has been assisted over decades by CIA operations in foreign countries to deliberately funnel drugs into US inner cities. Then our police turn around and patrol those places and incarcerate the population, whose labor is in turn exploited by both the state and private corporations. And politicians earn votes for being “tough on crime” and “keeping communities safe”. None of this is a secret. It is also why our “class system” is so effective at keeping us competing with each other instead of following our natural tendency to cooperate for survival. Nobody wants to be the poor schmuck at the bottom of the heap. We give to the homeless and to charity to prove we aren’t like them. But the truth is any one of us could be at any time due to the realities of our economic system and lack of a social safety net.

    I actually believe that this is why so many people fall prey to conspiracy theorists and groups like Qanon. When people know they can no longer trust their elected leaders and government agencies, they are apt to seek out leadership elsewhere and cult-like behavior ensues. In the end, the chaos provides cover for ever greater expansion of privacy-invasion and collection of data in the name of security. It’s a self-perpetuating feedback loop at this point.

    So yes, disabling (maiming and killing) parts of the population serves a very central function of keeping it under control.

  • The notion that one can just change doctors is kind of outdated with modern electronic records. (EPIC really IS epic.) The new doctor is generally able to view other doctors notes about you and will be biased before he even meets you.

    In fact, there really is no clean slate for anyone in the current era. You are who you always were and there is little motivation to change and grow in a culture where you can be canceled for something you wrote or said or thought too loudly when you were younger in a different headspace. That is depressing in and of itself.

  • DW, you certainly seem to be suffering. And you make a good argument for the possibility that the labels were originally meant for the kind of suffering you experience. I have no tangible experience with that degree of psychosis. And I think that those of us who have had the labels erroneously applied also have a right to raise awareness about how the labels function in the greater scheme of things to control social behaviors at the population level.

    But I can’t help but notice that you say everyone has the freedom to describe themselves they way they choose and yet you say that you have no control over how you describe yourself. It seems like you regard others as having more control over their choice of words than you currently think you could have. I guess my inner voice may not be as loud or destructive as yours, but it still tells me to resist these labels and I have learned to listen when she guides me.

    I do very much enjoy your comments and I don’t want to be the cause of your continued upset, and so I can but wish you health and peace and leave you with that.

  • My only problem with others’ choice to accept an othered identity like ‘mad’ is that it does not just identify the individual who doesn’t mind being referred to that way, it effects all whom society has deemed different and to whom they are applied. But they also effect all those to whom they have not been applied as a sort of warning to what could be applied if they don’t follow the social dictates of the era.

    Of course, the social dictate of this era is the absurd notion that someone can identify their way into a group they clearly and objectively are not. And those objecting to the delusion then get more labels. Not very nice labels. Labels intended to socially ostracize them.

    So you see, labels can still actually do a lot a harm even when some don’t mind them or have gotten over minding them. Labels are great when you’re trying to find which jar the sugar is in.

  • Thank you for publishing this.

    The suicide studies hit close to home. Neuropsych effects and suicide are closely linked to the lyme community and I know many late and chronic lyme (stage three and PTLD) patients are also psych drugged. One has to wonder if the drugs are contributing to the high rate of suicide in the lyme community. This disease can be Hell on Earth but suicidal feelings are a lot easier to manage without the disinhibition that comes with SSRIs and akathisia of the neuroleptics.

    I’d really love to have these statistics for all chronic illnesses since so many chronic illness patients are also treated with psychiatric drugs. It would be interesting to know in other chronic illnesses if there is a connection between the psych drugged population and the suicide rate.

  • Steve, science isn’t even about establishing what is true. Old scientific laws and theories are being updated all the time. Science is about developing knowledge through testing and validating hypotheses. A true scientist does not try to make the data fit the conclusion. A true scientist begins with curiosity and when the conclusion does not match the hypothesis, he says “hmm, that’s interesting!”

    Most current “science” is junk because the motive to conduct it is not the accumulation of knowledge but rather profit or prestige. When the advancement of your career depends on you coming up with another tome of bullshit, people comply in the essence of self-interest. Ph.Ds are called “piled higher and deeper” for a reason. There has been a lot of bullshit published in the name of science that humanity could simply compost.

  • Well, I was with you in the first half of this, with the dismay over the American exportation of mental illness and psychopharmaceutical prescribing habits. However, I’m kind of concerned that the steps outlined to address this are solely focused on changing prescribing habits and admonishing folks for wanting to take the drugs when the drugs are all that are available to most people.

    If we are to truly revolutionize the way we approach distress, we must start from a preventive model and not just a response model. A preventive model would begin from the ground up. It would address all the factors that are contributing to increasingly distressed populations. It would address climate change (and consequent weather instability and disasters), the food supply (prioritizing nourishing foods rather than cheap profitable foods), social conditions and community structures (the breakdown of families and communities), the economic policies that produce great GDPs while increasing inequality between the haves and have nots. As Peter Sterling said in his interview, we’d redesign our education systems to meet the developmental needs of children rather than demanding children fit into poorly designed schools that exist to meet the demands of constantly growing economies. We would, in essence, put people and planet before profit.

    We don’t need to revolutionize prescribing habits – we need to revolutionize our entire planet to be people friendly! This won’t stop bad things from happening and resultant distress or the need for caregiving. It won’t stop abuse or illness or disaster or the grief that comes from loving and being loved. But it will provide a much better grounding for acquiring and holding onto the emotional resilience required to survive and thrive in relationship with each other.

    When we realize that multinational conglomerates do not exist to fulfill actual human needs and that nobody should ever have to get stuck in revolving menu hell when calling customer service to the point where they’ve been on the phone for hours and end up screaming at the automated voice on the other end before hanging up in disgust, then we might begin to understand what actually needs to change about modern life to start dialing down the level of stress we are almost all living with and reacting to in some way or another.

    We live in a disabling world because it is profitable. And as we need fewer bodies to perform labor that machines can do more efficiently, it is increasingly profitable to “disable” ever larger percentages of the population through drugging them into complacency with the system and accepting their distress as a personal illness instead of an affliction.

    It shouldn’t be necessary to protect ourselves from algorithms designed to identify and then play on our fears and insecurities, to reward us for clicking, to sell us happiness in the form of things, and to convince us to change ourselves to fit in.

    People didn’t fall into the trap of demanding to be drugged out of their misery because they just want a quick fix! This is literally baked into the design. Misery is extremely profitable and generations of people have been propagandized to believe that competing with each other for more stuff is the definition of a good life.

  • Madmom, I am not defending Oldhead but I can’t entirely disagree with him that additional frameworks aren’t necessary. I would only add that the pontificating by outsiders over the meaning of the experiences of those labeled with madness are not really useful to those experiencing such. The phrase “nothing about us without us” rings true for me here.

    “Caregivers for individuals who tend to act bizarrely are just trying to survive from day to day, trying to maintain a cloak of invisibilty around a loved one because of the risk of psychiatric detainment and chemical straighjacketing is so high.”

    I appreciate this. But I think the needs of caregivers is dramatically different from that of those who are actually living those experiences. I also think that the delineation between caregiver and the person being cared for is sometimes quite fluid. Many people with lived experience of distress are also caregivers – and quite competent ones at that – for others experiencing distress. I am sometimes surprised by how quickly I can shift modes from needing care to providing care. I am also surprised at how rewarding caregiving can be at times while at others, it is very distressing. I think we can honor these experiences in a better way than placing a hard line between caregivers and those they are caring for and without looking to professionals to explain behaviors that those who live them do a fine job of explaining already.

    I also think that you criticize those with privilege, safety and privacy while saying that’s exactly what you’re providing for your loved one. I’m more concerned with those who don’t have someone providing that. We shouldn’t need privilege, safety and privacy!

    The authors here are professionals with a book to sell. They say nothing about their own lived experience or about collaborating with those with lived experience. They researched us and theorized about us and I think the pushback is appropriate. Coming up with ever more frameworks is a pretty good example of the “publish or perish” culture in academia.

  • My mother once explained her concept of the mind to me – that it is the totality of all of the inputs to the collective nervous systems. That’s still probably too reductionist for folks here, but at least it doesn’t reduce it to grey matter inside the skull. And as we learn more about other parts of the body besides the brain – the enteric nervous system and our microbiome – that function independently of the CNS and ANS, I think it’s a reasonable start.

    I’m not at all sure I believe that the mind runs the body, though. I think it’s more like the old adage – I AM my body. Taking care of my body has been for me the foundation of staying well. I am not sure whether it was Sera D. or Meghan W. who wrote about the lengths to which many psych survivors go in their self-care habits, but it rang true for me. When my body suffers, so does my mind follow. And when that is taken out of my control – like how sick I’ve been this year with multiple infections and repeated courses of antimicrobial drugs in span of just a few months, there is no getting around that the mind suffers from the physical state. It seems to me that if the mind really ran the body, then I could just mind over matter myself into wellness. That has not been my experience. The best I can do is keep putting out the spot fires so the whole house doesn’t burn down.

    I also think this is why people who are suffering get upset at notions of self-control. Why people who are severely depressed say if they could get out of bed, they would. And it’s why I bristle at psychological theories that present behaviors at these times as choices. We know enough about sickness behaviors and their evolutionary underpinnings to know fundamentally that the body is responding as it is for a reason even if we don’t fully understand the reason. Non-human animals also display sickness behaviors and it obviously isn’t because of a conscious social conditioning to play a patient role and get better.

    We also know that one of the highest risk times for suicide is during the convalescent period when the body is just beginning to feel enough energy to act on the impulse to end it all. That is why I am somewhat confused by this particular framework presented by the authors here that places extreme states in a bucket of choices like suicide and drug use. It’s far too simplistic and these actions all occur at different times of the coping/recovery process. This is why professionals theorizing about those who experience these states will never truly understand us. They are on the outside looking in on something they don’t know and can only speculate about. Their theorizing replaces one set of labels with another. Psychiatric disorders become “madness” and there are all too many who are ready to embrace the concept of madness when even the authors here admit that “madness” is a rational response to undue levels of stress. (I use “stress” here in the loosest sense of collective inputs.) So again, is it the mind choosing to go mad or is it that the set of inputs to the body result in chaotic processes? I argue for the latter. (I’d also say that whoever designed the BSOD in computing and the task of ctl-alt-dlt to kill processes that are no longer responding understood this on some level.)

    You don’t have to believe in psychiatric jargon OR psychological theories of various flavors of “madness” to understand that inputs = outputs. At best, mind and body are symbiotic. And, you know, I could get behind the idea of neurodiversity if it weren’t used to distinguish “normal” from “abnormal”. If it were truly a spectrum and a fluid one so that it could be normal to be abnormal and to move through states of normal and abnormal as inputs overwhelming the processor. But I find that the labels are mostly used to “other” folks who seem to have reasonable responses to their inputs when those inputs are placed in context.

    I think this also provides a framework for taking responsibility for controlling the inputs. Madness is not something I embrace as a part of who I am. It is, at best, a response to poorly controlled or out of control inputs. It is certainly my experience that the more control I have over the inputs, the more controlled (healed, well, stable) the outputs become. But that’s not mind over matter – mind running the brain – it’s more mindfully attending to matter in a circular never ending process.

  • Very relatable story, Annie. And creatively expressed. You have a gift with words. I was wiping back tears when Maggie died. It must have been a very difficult day for you.

    Congrats on finishing your first year of community college. I hope you will consider continuing on with your education. It is useful in its own right even if you don’t end up taking the path you start out on. If your college has an honors program, you might find honors classes more stimulating and worth the effort. You certainly seem to have the aptitude for it, judging from your writing quality.

    I hope you will submit more of your writing here. I could definitely identify with a lot of what you expressed, as it seemed very familiar to me with some of my experiences as a teen and young adult.

  • I believe good people do bad science under the “publish or perish” conditions in which most academic researchers exist. Other good people do bad science under “do this or lose my job” economic conditions of corporate research. I don’t believe that most researchers who contribute to bad science are personally bad people. Just consider the way this country treats whistleblowers.

    In my experience, people love to speculate about the choices they would make in various situations but you don’t actually know until you’re the one choosing between speaking up and protecting your livelihood. When you’re having to decide if some situation is really all that bad.

    This is a cultural issue where we are all regularly choosing between protecting ourselves and protecting others. I once violated a company policy against telling a security client calling into our inbound call center to escalate to calling 911. I lost my job and I’m not sorry. I don’t know what happened to my caller but I’m convinced her life was in danger. But my managers took me into private meeting when I arrived for my next shift to explain how I had violated the company policy. I was told I could continue on probation or I could resign. I chose to resign. I was a low level employee and a job was a job to me. But for those at higher levels, with more years experience, they have a lot more to lose and may have made a different choice. They may have gone against their instinct and followed policy to begin with despite what they could hear on the line. The point is, we often don’t know the factors that drive individuals to make the choices they do. Good people often make “bad” choices for personal protection. And we need to understand the reasoning before we vilify them.

  • Let me just ask this:

    How do you “treat” a child who is being chronically abused at home by parents and older siblings? Who doesn’t know where they’re going to live from one day to the next because neither parent actually wants them? Who is being chronically bullied at school because they go to school in dirty clothes and unbrushed hair with bad breath and body odor? Who is targeted as a violent juvenile offender when they are old enough and big enough to fight back at home?

    I could go on. Who is it that actually needs treatment in this situation? Is it really the child? Is there never going to come a time when kids’ behaviors are understood in context? How can kids like I was possibly fit into the tidy diagnostic labels matched to treatment methods required for rigorous research? How do researchers control for abject chaos in a child’s life?

    The answer is, they don’t.

    And the reality is that a lot of research is complicated by the inability to control for circumstances in a person’s life. I see the same problems in drug withdrawal research. Investigators treat people as if they are lab rats living under controlled conditions. Whenever I see claims that a person has “relapsed” the very first thing I wonder is what are the external circumstances beyond their drug withdrawal? Are they even safe at home? Why are doctors and researchers so quick to assume that ongoing or recurrent problems are a condition within the study subject?

    This isn’t science. It’s wishful thinking.

  • What a spectacular interview! The more I read about Peter Sterling, the more I admire him and his contributions to humanity.

    For US readers, a point to note is that there is a new name for ‘communist’ living called ‘Intentional Community’. Multiple models exist now from ‘cohousing’ which is roughly translated into building intentional neighborhoods, to shared housing. And multiple style from rural eco villages to urban shared housing to suburban cohousing exist. Many are inching toward reopening to visitors as Covid appears to be coming under better control. Those who are interested in moving toward the kind of lifestyle that Peter talks about might be interested in visiting IC.org to learn more.

    Again, thank you for this wonderful interview. It’s so rare that I resonate so much with a medical professional. We need more Peter Sperlings in the world.

  • “Later, after another terrible crying spell, Ramona’s mother asks her, “What are we going to do with you?”

    Ramona answers, “Love me!” Ramona asked for what she wanted. She expressed feelings that most people bottle up, never admit.”


    Perhaps it’s a good time to reread Ramona the Brave in honor of Beverly Cleary’s passing.

  • To follow up on this thread after taking the training, there was absolutely NOTHING in the training itself that in any way conflicted with the goals of survivors in abolishing psychiatry. In fact, I would say that that goal would be reached much more quickly the more the general public had access to these kinds of trainings. I do not view eCPR as an “alternative” to psychiatry but simply a way of life. I am incredibly grateful to those who developed the course as well as those teaching it and those taking the training who will then go on to model the concepts to the people in their lives.

  • Petersen is a good example of a victim of psychiatry who I would not yet label a survivor of psychiatry. He has not (yet) advanced from his victimization to an understanding of what is wrong with that approach to human distress. And certainly not advanced from understanding to application of what he has learned to his own life and his advice to others. Although, I have to say that I am familiar with those early attempts where all you know to say is don’t do what I’ve done.

  • So well said, JC!!!

    I recall my philosophy professor in college who shocked the class by telling us that he was a liberal atheist who’d been married for decades to a conservative Christian and that they were happily married. It was a beautiful illustration that we don’t have to agree on the controversial stuff to be kind to each other and to enjoy common interests. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that starting out this way is probably a stronger foundation than finding someone with whom you have a lot of common beliefs with because you learn how to disagree lovingly from the start and don’t risk growing apart as you mature.

  • Two things come to mind here, Oldhead.

    The first is: sociopolitical activism is not mutually exclusive with receiving or providing needed supports within the confines of “the system” as it currently exists. The system is going to continue to exist and so changing it is the only realistic way forward.

    The second is: don’t stand in the way of those doing the things you insist can’t be done.

    Consciousness raising is but one part of effecting change. You are good at helping folks see how the dots of systemic oppression are connected. But you stand in the way and object when we move beyond that into making actual change. At some point, people have to move past the theoretical, past armchair activism, and create the change they’d like to see in the world.

    The ONLY thing you have to offer here is abolition of psychiatry. Great. I’d like to see psychiatry abolished as well. But that alone will not fix the problems that lead people to psychiatry. There has to be culture change – that will be effected on an individual and community level. That has to be created. It has to be modeled. And then it has to be shown to work so that it can be implemented on a wider scale.

    The idea that systemic supports are wholly unnecessary is foolish. Even my own professional husband on occasion reaches out for help. It’s just that he can do it through an employee assistance line instead of a doctor, therapist or social worker. And he is assumed to have the capacity to maintain his own personal agency throughout the process.

    The suggestion that one cannot be both an activist and promote systemic supports is narrow-minded. In fact, what I have taught my own daughters is that when you want to convince a political leader to change their way of thinking on a subject, you have to be ready to provide an example of a different successful way of doing things. This isn’t promoting “alternatives” to psychiatry. Fuck psychiatry. This is promoting different ways of approaching those in distress. This is understanding that distress is natural and isn’t going to magically go away even if we lived in your version of a communist utopia. This is acknowledging that trauma isn’t going to stop occurring even in an ideal world, that healing is possible, and making sure that the supports exist to facilitate that by creating the changes I’d like to see in the world – even if it’s just my tiny corner of it – are worthwhile endeavors.

    P.S. The way you talk about Matt is dehumanizing and hurts my heart. I think maybe he’d be alive today if he’d had any idea how many people would be effected by his death. I don’t have any claim to have known him on a personal level whatsoever, and yet I know the pain and despair he struggled with, trying and failing to extricate himself from beliefs about his own distress that this culture so strongly reinforces. I can so intensely identify with that struggle and I think so many of the commenters here can identify with that.

    This is precisely WHY we need new ways of responding to and supporting those who are struggling. We need profound cultural change that doesn’t individualize distress (or it’s opposite – success and happiness). Every successful person utilized structural supports that already exist. Joe the Plumber did not build that – to harken back to 2016. He was successful because of the systems that are in place in society that we all contribute to. The individualization – the compare and compete culture – is what needs to change. That is what would have saved Matt and the many like him. This is a struggle I understand. This is what I want to change.

  • It means anyone with a WordPress or Gravatar account who uses the same email address to register on another forum will have their avatar automatically populated and become visually identifiable even if they use a different username and don’t identify themselves as Joe Blow across all the sites they comment on. The entire intent is to identify people across sites. There are even apps that will mine your phone contacts and populate your contacts photos with their Gravatar instead.

    The takeaway is to not use your main email address when registering across sites if you don’t want your normal web activity associated with more controversial stuff like MIA (or anything else you don’t want your boss, your mother or your pastor seeing.) I’m not into constantly curating my image for social consumption, which is the new norm and that’s why this kind of thing bothers me.

  • Thanks, Steve. I have no problem believing that an imbalanced microbiome presents issues with mental functioning. But I was particularly perplexed by the leap to neurodevelopmental disorder and critical windows of development as the culprit. Additionally, the mice whose mothers were given antibiotics during or just before pregnancy and seemed to struggle were assumed to be defective until they were fostered by control mothers and were ok. This seems to suggest that it was the medicated mothers behaviors that was the problem, not the pups own microbiome.

  • I don’t see how viewing oneself as a survivor who was once victimized by something is akin to adopting a victim identity. I DO think that not allowing for the reactions that occur when someone HAS been victimized and calling those reactions a “victim identity” is victim blaming and that it is so deeply entrenched in the culture that we don’t give space for current victims to heal. People who have been victimized often act like it at least for a time. I identify this as the grieving process. A loss of innocence. It takes working through. Not everyone survives. I have, for the most part survived and have written extensively about the factors that facilitated that. I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor. I am also at risk of being victimized by the system again, and I think we are all keen to remember that when we talk about victimization and it’s short and long term effects.

    You may have the luxury of reclaiming your stolen humanity as your experience with the system was decades before electronic medical records, among other things. Those of us more freshly out of the system live in a different world. Neither ‘inmate’ nor ‘outmate’ would be appropriate for someone like me. May ‘21 will mark five years since I saw a psychiatrist. Survivor fits and I encourage others not to fall into the trap of denigrating this concept before fully thinking about what it means.

    There are people writing in these comments sections who truly haven’t made it to ‘survivor’ yet. They are still victimized by the system and trying to find their way out and to something resembling wholeness again. Where they are at is ok too and they deserve support and hope to see what is possible and not to be shit on because they are still responding like the victims they are. It’s not a victim mentality or a victim complex, it’s what victimization looks like for a depressingly long time for far too many people who’ve been badly abused by the system for an extended amount of time.

    As I wrote before, I see the term ‘survivor’ as a triumphant one. YMMV

  • “Mental disorders” are collections of symptoms, with little to no concordance between individuals. “Bipolar” is not a distinct illness, it is a category of similar symptoms. “Schizophrenia” has at least nine known etiologies. Suggesting that “SMD” is now a neorodevelopmental illness is a slap in the face to the millions of severely traumatized children and survivors of childhood trauma who know damn well where the source of their distress lies.

    Reading this site gives me mental whiplash some days.

  • I find Dr Aftab’s interview style to be incredibly manipulative. Putting Dr. Tamimi’s goal to save psychiatrists aside for the moment, I have read enough of these interviews to recognize how Dr Aftab attempts to set the narrative and I am amazed at how deftly Dr Tamimi handled such attempts and how he reasserted his actual beliefs each time. Dr Aftab strikes me as very typical of the psychiatrists I have seen who have put words in my mouth, spoken for and over me, and interpreted my thoughts and actions in ways that completely mischaracterize my own experience and beliefs on such. It almost seems like being a touch sociopathic is a requirement for the job. It’s hard to convey just how uncomfortable I feel reading his interviews.

  • I didn’t have time to read this in its entirety right now but I think it’s important to point out an error here. That some people use disease, illness, disorder and condition interchangeably does not mean most do.

    “For instance, the common cold is usually referred to as an illness, but diabetes is generally called a disease.” These are correct uses of these words according to their definitions!

    There is a very clear line between illness and disease and that is progression. Diseases progress to worse states without treatment or lifestyle changes (albeit, sometimes very slowly.) Diabetes IS a disease. Illnesses on the other hand are self-limiting while the body fights off pathogens. The common cold IS an illness. Sometimes illnesses are severe and disease states minor, but to contribute to the confusion between these without any clarification is sloppy writing and further contributes to the condition (or state of being) that Dr Hickey is alluding to. The fact is all of these words – illness, disease, disorder, and condition – have specific definitions however people use them in ways inconsistent with their meanings at times, generally out of simple ignorance.

    The biggest issue here is presumably with the word disorder because of the judgment it implies about what constitutes an acceptable normal condition. The problem isn’t with the word itself but with the judgements about the individual associated with it.

  • Your fatal flaw here, Oldhead, is in the presumption that you know what other people’s priorities should be. Abolishing psychiatry is a worthy goal but it isn’t the only goal because the need for help doesn’t magically go away with psychiatry gone. Making sure the help people receive when they need it is effective and not more harmful is another goal that some of us have. The idea that natural forms of mutual assistance will just spring up out of nowhere if there isn’t a capitalist government controlling us is ludicrous. Pure and simple. And the idea that capitalism is the mother of all oppressions and when it’s gone so too will be the harm from incest and rape and alcohol/drugs abuse and domestic violence, racism, xenophobia or other power struggles is pure fantasy. And I’m not even for a second going to provide cover for those who do harm by suggesting that they wouldn’t be doing that harm in a more equitable culture because these harms are as old and ubiquitous as humanity itself.

    There DO need to be other forms of help available for those healing from psychological injuries. I think peer work within psychiatry is as nuts as it gets but I am completely in support of survivors or those with lived experience creating and staffing respites and warm lines, crisis response and so on.

  • “Are there psych wards, institutions, etc. that aren’t locked?”

    Insurance rules require that psych patients be in the least restrictive setting possible for the least amount of time as necessary. This is an instance where having very good insurance will work against you. If you have Medicare, they’ll ask to use up your Lifetime Reserve Days, after which, you will find it harder to be admitted. It’s a scam and has little to do with your actual condition. I don’t believe there are inpatient psych units that are covered by insurance that are unlocked because it’s presumed by the insurance company that if you need inpatient care, you’re sufficiently ill as to not be able to walk out safely. However, for cash pay patients, it’s a different story. The Retreat at Sheppard Pratt was still an unlocked totally voluntary unit last I checked. I hope someone else will chime in here if this isn’t accurate.

  • Survivor works for me, tyvm. It is a triumph over oppression and systematic harm. I don’t quite understand the recent shitting on that term as a concept. I am sorry for those who are still struggling within the system or with their anger at the system. I agree that not everyone who has left psychiatry has become a survivor and I think the anger that a lot of us experience when we do get out and off the drugs successfully is simply grieving all that was lost. But you can’t unpack and live in grief forever. This is something I know a lot about. It will eat you alive. Forward motion is healing. Every forward motion, no matter how small.

    There’s nothing wrong with being a victim. Grieving is necessary. But I am proud of all I have survived and I’m not giving up the term psychiatric survivor. I am ok *most* of the time. That’s significant and my triumph to own. Other folks’ mileage may vary.

  • “Let me explain that I was not even angry – some people simply claim for some reason that I am speaking too loud”

    Joanna, I sympathize. I have had mhp suggest that my loud speech is evidence of bipolar or emotional upset and suggest I calm down. But have you had your hearing tested? I have moderate hearing loss and have developed a strategy of asking people to speak up when they tell me I’m speaking too loudly. You *may* be speaking loudly in an attempt to raise the volume so you can hear better. At least, it seems that was what was happening with me and I wondered if that might help you.

  • “Additionally, they observed that participants who identified as left-wing were more likely to experience a stronger sense of loneliness owing to neoliberalism when compared to right-wing participants. The researchers explain why they were interested in examining political orientation and social class:

    “This is because it is conceivable that the effects of neoliberalism are particularly prevalent for those who are left‐wing (because they reject neoliberal systems) and people from lower social classes (because they are most exposed to the impact of a free‐market society in which there is no social security).””

    There is a factor that’s gone unexamined here and that is the role that churches and religious affiliation plays in alleviating feelings of isolation and competition. It’s something that I felt keenly early on in the first decade or so after I left religious faith. The church had been a place where I went for belonging, friendships, material support. When I moved and had little furniture, my church family stepped in to provide. When my truck broke down, the pastor and deacons showed up out of the blue with the parts and labor and had it fixed in a matter of an hour. My church provided social inclusion, I used to sing before the congregation. When I lost my faith, I also lost long-standing friendships with very significant people in my life who turned me away. Some of whom considered my atheism a threat and didn’t want me around their children. Where would I get my morals, after all? Losing that was a crushing blow. So much so that I’ve sometimes considered the idea of feigning belief in God so that I could attend and get back those parts that were lost. I think this loss of community has had profound effects on those who are more liberal minded and as a group, we have to come up with ways to mitigate this and create new ways of being in community with each other. Like-minded people are extremely well connected virtually but are missing the physical connections that kept us strong and in community with each other.


    Better socioeconomic status does not fix this from my experience. Being more comfortable provides temporary relief from the sense of disconnection. But that need to connect physically – to rebuild the village, so to speak – remains despite more creature comforts. And if anything, being better off removes you from the sense of comraderie you may otherwise have felt in shared deprivation. You now become someone who is supposed to be A-ok because you’ve “made it”. But that really isn’t the case. Retail therapy becomes a poor substitute for authentic human connection. Better economic policies are only one rung in the ladder of the changes that need to take place to rebuild what has been lost. We really lost the village.

  • Sorry, DrG, I can’t agree. The whole barrel is rotten!

    Infectious Disease survivors are also known as Lyme Disease patients. We have survived faulty IDSA guidelines, faulty CDC advice, doctors and government officials mocking us as “Lyme loonies”, the entire fractured medical system profiting off our myriad symptoms with improper treatments. As a survivor of psychiatry and inadequate lyme treatment, I’m not a fan of western allopathic medicine which has a strong tendency to see symptoms from different bodily systems in isolation from each other and specialists in those systems not being able to see the bigger picture.

  • Unfortunately no mention of the close association between prior domestic violence and mass shootings. “Legal histories” is an ambiguous term and most of us have at least a traffic ticket or two in our legal history. Also no mention of the overwhelmingly male representation of mass shooters.

    Lastly, no mention of the fact that the organizations fighting for restrictions on gun ownership largely aren’t doing so on the prevention of mass shootings but are purposely muddying the waters with notions of suicide prevention. Gun suicides are largely carried out by middle aged white men who’ve recently suffered an adverse life event such as job loss or divorce.

    The sanest way to regulate firearms is no different from how we regulate other dangerous objects such as motor vehicles. That is, training, licensing, insurance, and built-in safety features like smart trigger locks.

  • That wasn’t what I said and you know it. I said that the people who founded the (now defunct) FMSF and defended the never proven concept of false memory syndrome were the accused and their defenders.

    I think it’s telling that the FMSF folded once its founders became too old to continue to run it. Any other organization with such high stakes and so many victims, as you keep claiming, would surely have people willing to accept the torch.

  • Well I can see why you weren’t impressed with WRAP under those circumstances. And I agree that WRAP was too pro-psychiatry, too “take your meds”, and too “call my psychiatrist if my meds aren’t working” for my liking. Like other truly AP folks, I think psychiatry is an illegitimate and unscientific branch of western colonial medicine that should be abolished. So I wasn’t entirely enthralled with WRAP because of that. But I’m glad to have been exposed to some of the concepts in any case.

    But I think maybe you missed my point. I live in fear of being forcibly treated just as much as any psychiatric survivor. I am entirely opposed to the necessity of such practices (coping skills, self care, etc) in the greater cultural context of capitalist exploitation but the concepts of self-care and self-awareness amount to basic survival skills these days.

    It is because of that that I want to have more tools under my belt to help others. The Village has gone missing and when people truly need help to survive, they often get cops and psychiatry. I want to be part of the change I’d like to see in the world. I don’t just envision psychiatry gone but I envision a culture where community and mutual aid is the norm.

    But no judgment, Rebel. You do you. And if we are misunderstanding each other, I am sorry. Perhaps we are not on the same wavelength on this one and that’s ok too.

  • Rebel, I truly wish that this kind of thing wasn’t necessary, that people would know how to respond in meaningful ways when another person is in distress. My own recent experiences of severe emotional distress and the response of those witnessing it informs me that this isn’t the case and that wishing it was different doesn’t change anything.

    There is nothing about IPS or eCPR that is inherently psychiatric in nature. Even WRAP has some usefulness despite it’s use by the psychiatric community to push compliance with psychiatric care. It is up to the individual receiving the information to choose which parts to incorporate into their own care and use in their responses toward others. The underlying tenets of WRAP, which basically involves radical self-care and self-love, is a strategy many psychiatric survivors have spoken about using in their own lives to maintain their emotional well-being.

    I truly hope that if you find yourself in emotional distress in a public setting that you will also find yourself magically surrounded by empathetic and compassionate psychiatric survivors who are emotionally well enough themselves to both guide you through it and protect you from those who would pathologize your behavior such as police and doctors. But it seems this condition exists largely in mythology and in some people’s desires rather than in the reality that most of us inhabit. That reality sees distressed people shot or otherwise killed by police and/or committed to psychiatric facilities “for their own good”. So I will take the training, use the bits that seem reasonable, discard what doesn’t, and hope that I can be the person there who is offering a useful response when you or someone like us is struggling.

    It’s kind of silly to think that just because someone has survived psychiatry that they will automatically know how to respond to someone else in distress. So, I am happy to learn from others with lived experience because I don’t actually have all the answers myself. Be the change, Rebel.

  • Poorly written, ambiguous, confusing. This article seemed to be suggesting a correlation between parents who receive support and reduced juvenile delinquency. Then almost at the end, was the clarification that kids who perceive greater amounts of support FROM their parents have reduced juvenile delinquency. And that is kind of a “duh” moment, no?

    It seems that in 2021, we’d be ready to move on from elementary ideas that parents who are deeply concerned with their children’s wellbeing and show that in positive supportive ways produce healthier offspring (and conversely, struggling parents produce less healthy offspring) to identifying the factors that reduce parental involvement and support of their children and the ways that those conditions can be mitigated. Those factors are most likely to be along the lines of socioeconomic stressors, substance abuse, serious health conditions impacting the family, generational trauma, justice-involved parents, etc.

    Many of the Progressive ideals that we have been fighting for on the federal and state levels would directly impact the conditions that negatively effect parental engagement and juveniles’ perceptions of their parents’ investment in them. Increasing the minimum wage, establishing a minimum income, child tax credits, a right to housing, free k-16 education, universal healthcare, restorative justice, parental leave, parental education, treating substance abuse as a public health issue, overhauling social services/CPS, designating the internet as a necessary public utility, etc.

  • Susan, while I would dearly love for this story to be true as you’ve described it – as physical proof of the veracity of repressed and recovered memories – the victim in this case wasn’t yet an adult when the perp was arrested. She didn’t recover the memories, she simply did not disclose the abuse at the time it occurred. The videos were made when Kylie Freeman was 10, she disclosed the abuse to her mother when she was 15 (in 2005). An investigator working the child pornography case knew Kylie and recognized her and hence a warrant was issued against Kenneth Freeman in 2006. He was arrested in 2007 when Kylie was 17.

    Beyond the specifics of this case, it’s unfortunate when survivors of abuse and their defenders are backed into this kind of corner demanding hard physical evidence in order to be believed. We don’t demand this level of proof in a court of law despite the known shortcomings of eyewitness testimony. A large portion of civil and criminal cases are decided on the basis of witness testimony rather than hard forensic evidence. It is better to stand up against those who have their own skins to protect, like some of the accused perpetrators in this comment section (Google is your friend, folks) than it is to fall for the demand that we produce forensic evidence in order to believe that abused people can employ all kinds of self-protective mechanisms at the time of abuse.

    It should be very telling that people in positions of power who stand to lose it are the most vocal contingent against believing and supporting survivors. These are parents, teachers, clergy, etc as well as their lawyers. These accused serve the most vulnerable populations and we have every reason to believe they would employ resources to protect themselves when accused of crimes.

    We know what the long term effects of childhood trauma are. We understand how stress interferes with the formation of memories and we have long and well documented proof of how traumatic memories are prone to sudden recall from cues in the environment, even though as a culture we only tend to extend that grace to war veterans instead of all traumatized groups. There is no good reason for those of us who understand the cultural influences regarding childhood sexual trauma as well as the biological factors that contribute to traumatic memory and recall to continue to engage with people who are desperate for their own redemption when we can focus our energy instead on helping heal ourselves and others who have been harmed.

    The demise of the FMSF should be celebrated as this concept continues to find its way into the dustbin of history. Let’s not revive it by serious debate with accused persons.

  • Oldhead, say what you will, I’m looking forward to the training so I can judge for myself whether the material is of any use. It purports to be developed by people with lived experience and the point seems to be to avoid further entanglement with “mental health” services.

    Since I’m privileged enough to afford the course, I’d think you’d be interested in hearing my thoughts on it.

    Of course useful help shouldn’t have a price tag on it but we live in a capitalist society, slavery has been abolished and people have to eat so we compensate them for their effort. Trust that if I could, I’d wave my magic wand and transport you straight into the socialist utopia you so desire.

  • Stupidity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.

    Still, I have trouble swallowing the push for more professional therapy or calling most therapies evidence based when the evidence base shows largely that it’s the relationship that matters, not any particular method. It also seems that these relationships could be cultivated without the exchange of payment or authority but that the ease of going into time limited session and dumping our problems on someone else without any concern about how they will process or handle all that they receive has effectively turned support into a commodity removed from genuine concern in either direction. I think we need to seriously question the cultural values that lead us to think that big problems could have such simple answers as drugs and therapy, especially as the dial of distress continues to trend upward and these methods are obviously not treating anything but rather making folks feel better temporarily, when they have any effect at all.

    I fail to see the goal of these studies, for either the drugs or the various therapies. It’s such a reductionistic approach to human distress.

  • I think you’re confusing the greater “we” and “our” with Bob Whitaker who isn’t a part of “us” when it comes to survivors actions or rights. I read his wish in the spirit of a journalist protesting against “his” beloved, yet clearly corrupt, mainstream media. “We” as survivors have different interests and goals by necessity. But as long as “we” pretend “It” doesn’t exist, “we” are going to continue to argue amongst ourselves and make little traction in either eradicating psychiatric “treatment” or in improving the medical care of those who need and deserve it. A grassroots response must be able to acknowledge all forms of suffering in order to respond appropriately to each case. Some are medical, some are psychosocial, some small amount are unfortunately due to genetic causes. The real tragedy here is the inability to acknowledge the diversity of experiences and causes of suffering. The DSM labels are as harmful as claiming there is nothing wrong with anyone. There aren’t going to be easy answers. “We” need more than catchy sound bites and anger.

  • Pretending psychosis isn’t a real phenomena does nothing to advance better care for those who experience extreme states and who aren’t being served well by the current paradigm of psychiatric drug “treatment”.

    You do not have experience with central nervous system infection. I mean this in the kindest way possible, you do not speak for me, Oldhead. I wouldn’t wish late stage Lyme disease on my worst enemy. The 2016 APA yearly conference included a presentation on neuropsychiatric Lyme disease – stating that there are no known treatments for Lyme once it infects the nervous system and asking for the establishment of psychotropic drug protocols to “treat” the symptoms of this very physical illness, which includes rage attacks, derealization, hallucinations, delusions, dissociation, paranoia, depression, anxiety.

    Please, if you want to be taken seriously, stop erasing the experiences of people you want to call allies. I have a systemic illness. It’s as real as the experiences of those with late stage syphillis. I, and the millions of people like me, deserve to have our illnesses taken seriously by the medical system and by medical researchers so that we can have some hope of a cure or actual treatment that addresses the illness instead of psychiatric treatment as usual.

    There is ample evidence that what is called “mental illness” is the psychological manifestation of impaired physical condition, whether that’s a temporary effect of drugs and alcohol, as appeared to be your case, or the long term effects of trauma, stress, malnutrition, infection, etc as it is for so many others. Being antipsychiatry is reasonable considering psychiatry doesn’t even attempt to do anything other than manipulate the brain. It is fatally reductionistic. But repeating over and over that nothing is wrong just because there was nothing wrong with you, does harm to those of us who desperately want to feel better and for whom the absence of psychotropic drug “treatment” is only the first step to recovery.

  • Actually, Cabrogal, I believe that people should be held to account for their behavior regardless of its origin. This is fairly consistent with a 12 step mindset of making amends. I don’t believe that anyone is “mad” and therefore anything they do goes. I think that people who treat their own behavior in that manner ARE a danger to the rest of society because they refuse to be held to a account for the effects of their behaviors on others. Whether the description is mental illness or madness or an alcoholic blaming the booze. There is a big difference between acknowledging understandable contributing factors like stress or illness or other environmental conditions and having no accountability to others at all. Those of you who say “This is just how I am because of my ‘madness’” show no ability or willingness to be accountable for the effects of your actions on others.

    I’m actually strongly against the penal system as it exists and strongly FOR restorative justice precisely because it fits within these parameters. We can both understand people’s behavior and hold them accountable for repairing the damage they cause. I’m truly sorry if the nuance is lost on you.

  • “Last year, in the northern hemisphere, covid cases also dropped around April, and stayed that way till the normal “flu season” came around again in October / November.”

    This is incorrect. The entire world experienced waves around the same times, differing only in their intensity depending on the individual country’s levels of coordinated response. We would have expected countries in the Southern Hemisphere to have little cold and flu over our winter but Brazil had their worst covid outbreak at the same time the US did debunking the idea that the virus dies back during summer or warm months.

  • “Bipolar illness” in my own personal experience looks an awful lot like a relapsing/remitting inflammatory disorder. When I’m too physically ill to do much more than go from the bed to the couch, am I “depressed” or physically ill? When my body is cooperating and I’m trying to get as much as I can done to make up for the length of time I was ill, am I “manic” or catching up? I have a relapsing/remitting illness that incapacitates me at times. I am extremely high functioning when my body and mind cooperate. Calling that “bipolar” and further disabling me with psych (and other) drugs seems like an unnecessary cruelty. My suicide attempts have only been while I was taking drugs that lowered my inhibitions against such. All of this seems pretty straight-forward to me.

  • I appreciated this interview very much. The evolution of my own understandings in this area has also produced similar complexities and contradictions. I have evolved from believing there was never anything wrong with me that needed fixing and that the drugs were entirely harmful to understanding many of the things I WAS indeed struggling with, yet wishing there had been other versions of help that were empowering rather than disempowering. I understand the harms of current psychiatric approaches while also accepting that sometimes people need help they aren’t going to seek on their own and sometimes others need protection from those acting in harmful ways.

    I remain firmly AP in principle while believing in the benefit of therapeutic communities, Soteria, supported housing and employment, crisis teams, Open Dialogue, etc. I believe that what is framed as “mental illness” has many and often overlapping etiologies and that there is not one right path to supporting those who are suffering. I think that the person who is suffering is often not the only one – with families and friends suffering along with them. I think that meeting me where I was at in the moment has been the best help I’ve ever received. That help has rarely come from professionals and most often come from the people who were deeply and personally invested in my well-being.

    I agree that it can’t be an individual effort but needs to come from better policies, social structures, etc. We need to value the diversity of thought and understand that the labels that some find helpful, others find harmful. We should also understand the evolution of an individual’s own experience. Labels may be helpful in some circumstances and at some points along the journey and not helpful at others.

    The disability label is one that I continue to struggle with personally and I think many psychiatric survivors struggle with. It is undeniable that I have physical illness with mental effects. It is undeniable that I have psychosocial struggles. It is also, at this point in time, seemingly in my best interest to distance myself from a disability identity when the greater culture tends to use this label to remove shared decision making from me and assume that others will know what is best for me. It means that I have stayed in bad situations for fear of seeking support in the form of financial assistance, supported housing or employment. That I am afraid of doctors and that hinders receiving medical care I so desperately need for ongoing chronic and worsening illnesses. When disability is used to remove personal agency, it’s no wonder so many survivors go into self-protection mode. This is no doubt a factor in our decreased lifespans.

    We need to not only resist binary thinking, but also make an effort to understanding why we end up there. In a perfect world, I think I would have substantial “professional” social support, someone that checks in with me frequently, who could help me get the resources I need when I’m struggling who would also value my contributions when I am doing well. As it is, I have learned to fake it til I make it, as it were. To do what I can when I am well and relatively high functioning, and do my best not to become a target when I’m struggling. It’s a ridiculous tight rope to walk to always have to wear this mask of being A-OK, for all observers, whether that be professionals or AP folks.

    Before more of us take our own lives, like Matt Stevenson did when he couldn’t reconcile where he existed somewhere in between “mentally ill” and A-OK, people in all these camps – the AP folks, the reformers, and the business as usual professionals need to get a whole lot more comfortable with ambiguity. I am neither “mentally ill” nor A-OK, and I need that to be OK. I need it to be ok to have the agency to choose the supports I need without losing agency on the one hand and without being turned out of the AP community as a “reformer” on the other. Matt might still be alive if it had been OK to embrace the help he needed when he needed it and not been under so much pressure to fake it or pick a side.

  • I appreciated this clarification about the authors merely observing effects at various time points. Especially the part about how some of the patients observed off drugs at two years may have gone off the drugs very quickly after starting them. It is unfortunate that there doesn’t appear to be more data about when the patients actually discontinued the drugs. Even self-reported data would be something.

  • I have *very* fond memories of Thorazine. On the adolescent unit, we used to *go off* intentionally just to get a hit of it.

    I still maintain that those who don’t feel the need to recover from trauma and it’s lifelong consequences shouldn’t speak for those who do. Some of us are in recovery and proud to be so because the alternative for many of us is self-destruction in ways that led us to psychiatric treatment to start with. Psych drugs for many of us serve the same purpose as alcohol or street drugs.

    And weed is NOT innocuous and can have deleterious effects, too. If you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re one of those for whom, like me, experiences anxiety and paranoia from levels of THC that are typically found in both street and legal cannabis these days. I have to go out of my way to find products with low amounts of THC and higher CBD to get the synergistic effect without the negative effects I get from most of the easily available cannabis products. And most people still don’t know that the amount of THC in a lot of those products can cause psychosis. Weed can just as easily become a way to numb out feelings and be used the way alcohol, other street drugs, or psych drugs are used. So making a big distinction between them is not very helpful. The biggest difference between legal drugs and illegal ones is who is making the profit. Alcohol destroys as many lives as psych drugs do, probably.

  • Alex, I hear where you’re coming from, but I also think it’s important to hear the voices of those who have tried and failed repeatedly to come off the drugs. It is disheartening for anyone trying to do something and failing to hear that they just have to hold out hope. I have great experience with this with chronic illness. I do not need hope that my illness will be cured. I need support to live each day to the fullest even when they’re really bad. The people who have stopped trying to come off the drugs and are just trying to live each day to the best of their ability, they deserve the respect for forging the path they’re on and not to be forced to hope they can eventually be on the path you think they should be taking.

    Telling people they need to hope for a specific outcome can be just as harmful. There are a lot of people getting caught up in this fight when it comes to opioids and benzos too. The answer is to stop prescribing these drugs to new users, not torture people who’ve been on them for decades and find themselves unable to come off. I don’t know if I’d have been able to successfully withdraw without the support I had. I live a pretty cushy middle class lifestyle with friends and support and there are STILL days four plus years on that I think about going back to the system. I can’t imagine some of the situations I’ve heard people are in and they’re talking about withdrawal on top of that. So, please, coming from you, this kind of judgment leaves a bad taste. Everyone’s situation is different and we can respect that, surely.

  • Recovery as a concept is not bogus. It’s the disease model that is bogus. Something was wrong even if we don’t call that something schizophrenia or bipolar or what not. But it seems important to me that MIA publish research showing the harms of the drugs regardless of the researchers use of terminology. Would the result somehow be more meaningful if the researchers had said “people experiencing extreme states get better quicker when they discontinue neuroleptic drugs”? I know we’d rather they weren’t taking them to begin with but the way to get from here to there seems to be to show the harm being done by them, no? How do we get there, otherwise? Asking the APA nicely and protesting outside their yearly convention is working so well toward that goal…

  • “Speaking personally, my cyclic mood swings, extreme states, acting out, etc are no more ‘because’ of external social circumstances than they are ‘because’ of internal brain chemistry. Nor are my flashes of inspiration, sustained bursts of energy and capacity to stand up to illegitimate authority. They’re because I’m me.”

    I have no problem with rights restrictions for people with this attitude. If there is no reason for your bad behavior (acting out) and you refuse to try to change it, it seems only appropriate that measures be taken to protect others from you. This is the definition of a jerk – and possibly a total sociopath. And it is exactly why the excuse of “madness” is so ludicrous.

  • Evanhaar,

    FWIW, I do not agree with the idea that the mind is an entirely metaphorical concept as Oldhead contends. In my view, the mind is the entirety of the nervous system and all of its sensations and experiences of the physical world. The condition of the physical body has a strong effect on the mind regardless of where we believe the mind resides. I know this to be true of my own illness – Lyme Disease – as it is with other systemic infections and inflammatory/immune-mediated illnesses. Likewise, my understanding of psychological trauma is that it is physically injurious and that these injuries have long term implications for the individual in terms of physical illness and psychological distress.

    Where I diverge and where I am solidly antipsychiatry is in the knowledge that adjusting brain chemicals does not actually address the etiology of psychological distress even if it produces temporary relief for some. Morphine also relieves pain but it won’t set a broken bone. I appreciate Steve’s references to physical injuries as they seem a perfect metaphor for the disconnect between the temporary relief of distress and treatment of the underlying condition.

    I think the continued focus on mental illness as illnesses in and of themselves rather than effects of other physical illnesses and adverse environments is what I see as the underlying problem with the current approach to mental healthcare and it’s obsession with brain chemicals and states. This may place me at odds with some others in the AP community.

  • What does this have to do with Science, Social Justice, or Psychiatry?

    A small study with serious methodological issues is presented here seemingly to malign “anxious and depressed” patients on behalf of Big Pharma. This continues a disturbing trend here at MIA of painting mental patients as not knowing what’s really best for them. It’s not a good look and I know it’s alienating the very people this website and its founders now appear to only pretend to care about.

  • Rebel: As a turn of phrase, I’ve always understood “There’s a method to my madness” to mean something like “I know this looks crazy, but there’s a purpose to how I’m doing this.” It seems to be a statement that the person is NOT “mad” or “crazy” despite temporarily appearing perhaps chaotic. I wouldn’t say it was a use case consistent with the attempts to “reclaim” the term “madness” by psych survivors. I myself get a little “out of control” at times but I would never call that madness. It is something I understand was harmful and apologize for and try to make right. It isn’t something to make normal, even if the circumstances that produced it are understandable. I don’t believe that holding odd thoughts or appearances are “madness”. It seems that like “neurodiverse”, the words “madness” and “mental illness” are often euphemisms for bad behavior that should be corrected, atoned for, changed and the like. “Mad Pride” sounds about as mature as saying “I can’t help it, I’m bipolar”. I’d rather have the context behind difficult behavior understood so that perhaps actual change can take place, whether that change be in the individual that is struggling or in the environment. And I’d rather allow that struggle to inform me that I need to change myself or my environment in a meaningful way.

    Instead of saying I’m “mad” or “bipolar” or “neurodiverse”, I could say something like this:

    “I know I acted out. I’m really struggling with sudden difficulty sleeping. I’ve been in an unusual and extreme amount of physical pain. I’m not sure what’s causing it so I’m stressed and anxious on top of hurting. My intimate partner has been abusive again. I have another loved one who has been making my life intensely stressful. I am really struggling under all of this. Please forgive my outbursts while I try to sort the situation out and get back to some equilibrium.”

    Another person’s circumstances might be “my kid is getting into trouble at school again, if I’m late one more time, I’ll lose my job, I’m three months behind on my rent, I’ve got a shut off notice on my electric Bill” Etc, etc, etc.

    I think that would be a whole lot better approach than simply saying I’ve got something called “madness” that makes unpredictable appearances, don’t you? It accepts responsibility for doing harm while acknowledging the context under which it occurred. I’m no stranger to extreme states, but I don’t ever expect those states to be acceptable and I think part of the path to healing is working hard to right the harms caused while one is experiencing an extreme state, not demanding they be part of the spectrum of normal. I’ve never seen anyone go mad with literally no explanation at all. They are sick or they are stressed. And spiritual emergencies count as stress in my book. Your culture may interpret things differently, but this is my perspective.

    *** I will fully admit that I’m not good at hearing “what can you change?” while I am in the throes of emotional reacting to whatever I’m struggling with. But it almost always boils down to considering what I have the POWER to change. The serenity prayer seems apt here: God (Creator/Mother), grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength (power) to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. The main tenet of Buddhism is that suffering comes from expecting things to be different from how they are. Acceptance of how things are is the first path to feeling better. If you can’t accept it, figuring out what is within your power to change and making those changes is the next step. Wisdom to know when to accept and when to change things is the cumulative effect of surviving long enough on this planet. If I’m going to keep getting older, I don’t want “mad pride”, I want a fuck ton of wisdom. And maybe a tad more power. 😉

  • I think the salient point that is being missed in this discussion is that even if we acknowledge substantial illness with its psychological effects, the answer is not now nor has it ever been to adjust the brain chemicals of the person who is suffering. The only thing this sometimes accomplishes is a relatively temporary reduction in suffering. But as most find, it doesn’t last, different drugs are tried, combinations are tried, and it then becomes a game of chasing mental effects rather than healing the body and subsequently healing the mind.

    Calling a person’s internal distress or outward behaviors a “mental illness” is problematic not because of what some progressive thinking individuals may mean when they say those words, but because of what those words mean in common parlance. We cannot possibly have this discussion every single time we engage with someone about what they mean when they use a word or phrase that has a commonly understood meaning. Therefore, the concept of “mental illness” remains harmful regardless of whether a particular user of that concept has a more nuanced understanding of it. Words have meanings that are both linguistically and culturally understood and it’s important that we stick to those definitions in most cases so that we can understand what people mean when they speak. I will not use “mental illness” for this reason even though I think that I am generally in agreement with both Evanhaar and Steve’s articulated understanding of mental distress and physical illness and how those states interact. Furthermore, my objection to terms like “neurodiversity” and “madness” stem from the same root. “Madness” is defined as “severe mental illness” by all major English dictionaries. “Neurodiversity” implicitly defines some as being outside the spectrum of normal despite the majority of children displaying obvious distress and diverse states of being in this incredibly stressful and toxic culture and world we live in.

    I think it’s important when we are discussing psychiatry, either in terms of eradication or reform, that we are careful to stick to well understood meanings for the terminology we use, lest we repeatedly end up speaking over and past each other and making no substantial forward progress.

  • “In such agony, a loving companion can make the difference between suicide and keeping going. Such companions do not try to persuade us of our worth head on and with cold reason; nor do they go in for any showy displays of affection. They demonstrate that we matter to them in a thousand surreptitious yet fundamental ways. They can tolerate how distressed we are and will stick by us however long it takes. We don’t have to impress them; they won’t worry too much about how scary we are looking and the weird things we might say.

    They’re not going to give up on us, even if it takes a month or six years or sixty. They’re going nowhere. We can call them at strange hours. We can sob or we can sound very adult and reasonable. They seem remarkably to love us in and of ourselves, for who we are rather than anything we do. They hold a loving mirror towards us and help us to tolerate the reflection. It’s pretty much the most beautiful thing in the universe.”

    I loved this. Thank you. In my experience it is a very rare person who offers this kind of love and acceptance. But it seems like a lot more of this would do the world a lot of good. I wish I knew how to be more like this and offer this kind of unconditional love to others. I think self-protection and trauma are comfortable bedfellows.

  • “If your depression puts you in bed full time for months and you can barely resist killing yourself, you may want to risk the drugs. If you do, you must accept the risk that the medications themselves will enable you to get up and commit suicide or harm others.”

    I think the author assumes that a patient will hear about this risk from their physician. Several times recently, I have had emergency and urgent care physicians administer or prescribe drugs with zero informed consent. It has been up to me to ask the doctors involved in my care why I was being given those drugs and what side effects they might cause. In one case, I was only informed the drug was likely to induce severe nausea and vomiting after I asked about side effects and I had to request a prophylactic antinausea drug. For the drugs I was prescribed, I never took two of them, which I believe were prescribed inappropriately. I was never given any counseling on them by the pharmacist even though the paperwork I received with them suggested I had. In fact, the tech had to get the pharmacist to come to the computer and sign off that I had been counseled but I wasn’t. So we’re talking four medications prescribed or administered in which none of two doctors or the pharmacist gave me any informed consent except in one case in which I initiated the discussion.

    This is the norm in my long experience with the medical system. So how is a patient given an antidepressant for moderate depression supposed to know it may make him or her suicidal or violent? This is a complete farce in an era where a significant number of Americans are drugged and “mental health awareness” is ubiquitous.

  • “Working psychiatrists address formidable problems, and we must respect their experience treating severely impaired patients. There is a definite place for their drugs, but they should only be prescribed to a fraction of those who take them now.

    For more healthy individuals—who are victims of the universal overprescribing—the drugs cause much more harm than good.”

    How on Earth does the good doctor propose that we distinguish the severely impaired patients from the less so, especially as severe impairment can be induced by the drugs already given to those with less impairment? Additionally, even among severely impaired populations – a group I might at times include myself in – how are we to say which of us needs psychiatric drugs and should be seen by the psychiatrists he spent the rest of his article/book excoriating, and which need a whole lot more traditional medical care to figure out what is wrong.

    Is someone that is suicidal because of severe chronic pain in need of traditional psychiatric care? Or perhaps should we keep looking for what is underlying the pain? What about someone coping with undisclosed domestic abuse? Or someone struggling with chronically dysfunctional family members? What about the person who is deeply traumatized and holding on to reality by a thread but otherwise generally harmless and well-meaning?

    We need to decide what the end goal of “treatment” is. Is it good coping skills? A productive job? Happiness? Some semblance of physical health? Not bothering others? I’m not at all sure there is any consensus about this even among psychiatrists, much less medicine as a whole. It seems like people are generally allowed to be as miserable as they want just as long as they have financial support and aren’t creating a public nuisance or otherwise disclosing their “depression” to others.

    We will also have to contend with the “mental health awareness” propaganda that Gen Z has been taught in public schools. If we want to move toward more empathic and compassionate responses to distress, we have to stop teaching kids that the answer to feeling bad when bad things are constantly happening is to simply develop better coping skills. Coping is a community affair. If you want psychiatry to stop medicating normal life experiences, a community must exist in which genuine support can be obtained and in which struggle is allowed, without pathologizing normal responses as madness or mental illness or some other moniker to denote othering.

  • It is reasonable to believe that the same factors that lead to mental distress also lead to physical illness. It is not reasonable to suggest that psychological factors cause physical illness. We do not make ourselves sick and any suggestion of the sort is more of the same victim blaming. This is why so many women have had their physical complaints addressed with prescriptions for antidepressants until they become so ill that doctors can’t ignore them any more. This is a costly approach, not just in terms of chronic medical use but that it leads to long-term disability.

    Doing Harm by Maya Dusenbery is a good place to start to understand this. Men are rarely told their physical complaints have a psychological origin. https://www.amazon.com/Doing-Harm-Medicine-Dismissed-Misdiagnosed/dp/0062470809

  • That may be the case, but it would be surprising if it didn’t increase risk for type 1 as well since autoimmunity is well known to correlate with increased ACEs. Type 1 autoimmune diabetes can strike at any age, despite having been colloquially referred to as ‘juvenile’ diabetes. Mixed diabetes is also very prevalent but lesser understood.

    The one conundrum this paper presents is that the researchers didn’t find an increased risk for diabetes in female adults with FMIC as children. But autoimmunity is much more common in women and if they were looking for type 2, I’m left to wonder if type 1 or mixed disease would show an increase in females with a history of childhood FMIC (or high ACEs in general).


  • Lyme Disease patients have been fighting this mindset for years.

    “ Patients need treatments and they need them now. The grindingly slow pace of traditional research won’t do. We need guerrilla research that is fast, agile and “good enough” for now. Research innovation is long overdue. It will benefit all patients everywhere, including those who have Lyme disease.

    In a recent Forbes interview about COVID-19, I said “It is important right now to take the gloves off clinicians and give them access to all available tools. Patients are dying and can’t wait for clinical trials.”

    My comment to Forbes about the need to act quickly drew some heat. Some people countered that we need evidence BEFORE we can treat and that physician reports of what treatments they see working in hospitals are mere anecdotes.

    Sound familiar? Since 2006, that’s what the Infectious Disease Society of America has been saying in its guidelines to deny treatment to Lyme patients who remain ill. The COVID-19 pandemics shines a spotlight on the need to act in the face of uncertainty. Same issue, different disease.”


  • In the past year, my own opposition to the Covid vaccine has dropped significantly. For one, I have learned that RNA vaccines have been largely successful in experiments conducted for the last decade at least. I have learned that someone I know personally has been a subject in one of these experiments several years ago and had no adverse effects. The Pfizer vaccine in particular has shown a 95% effectiveness rate at preventing Covid illness and a 100% rate of preventing severe illness. The few serious adverse events seem almost exclusively to happen with the Moderna vaccine. There have been zero reported serious adverse events for pregnant mothers or their unborn offspring, before or after birth (unlike their extreme risk if they catch Covid). There is little evidence that herd immunity is a realistic prospect with naturally acquired infection. All countries that have taken this route have reversed their official stance because it failed. Indeed, the more community spread there has been, the more and faster mutations develop. The countries that have instituted contact tracing, mandated mask wearing, and severely restricted movement among infected populations have ended up being able to effectively control their outbreaks. Despite the US having a tiny fraction of the world’s population, we have had a fifth of the world’s cases because no political willpower exists even now to infringe upon ‘Muricans Rights.

    It doesn’t matter right now why psychiatric patients are at greater risk. What matters is that encouraging current patients and survivors to flout public health recommendations puts our lives at risk.

    Wear a mask. Get your shot. Social distance. If you can’t or won’t do those things, I won’t be arguing for your freedom. Don’t want ‘Covid camps’? Don’t risk other people’s lives. It’s simple. And those who continue to spread antivax and deeply anti-scientific propaganda without caring who they’re influencing should have to face the consequences of their actions.

  • It’s actually flawed thinking to suggest that only psych drugs are the culprit in psychiatric patients having shorter lifespans or altered immune functioning.

    Teasing apart (controlling for) the many causes including underlying health issues that are ignored and inappropriately treated with psychiatric drugs, adverse living conditions that increase stress and hamper immune response, poor diet (which itself has multiple causes from lack of funds to lack of knowledge to lack of ability or space to prepare healthy meals), poor coping behaviors like smoking and drug/alcohol use, and lack of proper community support are all contributing to the decreased pisfespans and immune response of psychiatric patients. We know, for instance, that once a person has a psychiatric label in their medical file, future medical complaints tend to be taken far less seriously. This is independent of whether that person is taking psychiatric drugs.

  • I support censoring broad antivax positions and I would be happy to see such comments removed here. If you have a problem with a specific vaccination, you should state what that issue is and provide the information you have used to come to the conclusion you have so that the people you’re discussing with can draw their own educated conclusions.

    I agree with Richard that it risks harm in the form of more forced treatment to the survivor community for large numbers of survivors to eschew public health recommendations without providing evidence for their conclusions. I have yet to see any hard evidence in the comments. Twitter photos and fearmongering claims that can be traced back to right wing extremists aren’t scientific evidence.

    Given the stakes here, it is hard to believe these conversations haven’t been shut down yet. I have seen Bob Whitaker end comments for much less egregious infractions and am surprised in this case that nothing has been done about the amount of propaganda about vaccines in general and the Covid vaccine in particular as has been allowed to be posted.

    If those of you participating in this are trying to make survivors look like a bunch of looneys, congrats, it’s working!

  • Everything I’ve heard has attributed the rise and subsequent fall in cases to the holidays. Maybe you have different sources of news. I’ve also heard that anything approaching herd immunity won’t happen until late this year or some time next year. I’ve also heard we may never reach herd immunity due to the speed of mutations, which is what I think is more likely to happen.

  • One of the first scientific advisors for the FMSF was a man named Ralph Underwager. Mr Underwager had this to say about pedophelia, resulting in his resignation from his scientific advisory position.

    “Paedophiles need to become more positive and make the claim that paedophilia is an acceptable expression of God’s will for love and unity among human beings. This is the only way the question is going to be answered, of whether or not it is possible. Does it happen? Can it be good? That’s what we don’t know yet, the ways in which paedophiles can conduct themselves in loving ways. That’s what you need to talk about. You need to get involved in discourse, and to do so while acting. Matthew 11 talks about the wisdom of God, and the way in which God’s wisdom, like ours, can only follow after. Paedophiles need to become more positive and make the claim that paedophiles is an acceptable expression of God’s will for love and unity among human beings.” [8]

    He also suggested that research dollars be allocated for studying “loving” pedophilia on a large scale:

    “It would be nice if someone could get some kind of big research grant to do a longitudinal study of, let’s say, a hundred twelve year old boys in relationships with loving paedophiles. Whoever was doing the study would have to follow that at five year intervals for twenty years.“


  • More from this site:

    William Freyd’s letter. He is the brother of Peter Freyd who cofounded with his wife Pamlea the FSM Foundation. It is Willaim’s answer to a PBS programm:

    “Peter Freyd is my brother. Pamela Freyd is both my stepsister and my sister-in-law. Jennifer and Gwendolyn are my nieces….

    The False Memory Syndrome Foundation is a fraud designed to deny a reality that Peter and Pam have spent most of their lives trying to escape. There is no such thing as a False Memory Syndrome. It is not, by any normal standard, a Foundation. Neither Pam nor Peter have any significant mental health expertise.

    That the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has been able to excite so much media attention has been a great surprise to those of us who would like to admire and respect the objectivity and motives of people in the media…. We do not understand why you would “buy” such an obviously flawed story. But buy it you did, based on the severely biased presentation you made of the memory issue that Peter and Pam created to deny their own difficult reality.

    For the most part, you presented very credible parents and frequently quite incredible bizarre and exotic, alleged victims and therapists. Balance and objectivity would call for the presentation of more credible alleged victims and more bizarre parents. While you did present some highly regarded therapists as commentators (Dr. Herman, for example), most of the therapists you presented as providers of therapy were clearly not in the
    main stream. While this selection of examples may make for much more interesting T.V., it most certainly does not make for objectivity and fairness.

    I would advance the idea that “Divided Memories” hurt victims, helped abusers, and confused the public. I wonder why you thought these results would be in the public interest that Public Broadcasting is funded to support.

    William Freyd”

  • Here is a particularly good take on the morally bankrupt positions of the FMSF and it’s adherents:

    “FMS is a political/legal term contrived to systematically discredit any and every person alleging to have been sexually molested and to have discovered this by having recovered memories of the abuse later in life.
    One of the contributing authors of this book, Elizabeth F. Loftus, (“The Myth of Repressed Memory”) has consistently taken the indefensible position that no memory that emerges later in life can be trusted. This means that if I remember a pleasant summer day 40 years ago, it is a ‘false memory’. What is suspect about her and others of like view is that *sexual* memories, in particular sexual *abuse* memories, are targetted for vehement discreditation. This says something. It says that someone is very very nervous about the resurfacing of abuse memories buried deep in the mind because of their traumatizing nature. Who would be nervous but those who perpetrated or were accessories to the abuse?”


  • But psychiatry doesn’t often even get hold of a patient until after the family doctor has already drugged them. Referrals to psychiatrists include a huge number of people who are ALREADY DRUGGED! I wasn’t referred to a psychiatrist until several months after my family doctor had poly drugged me for fibromyalgia. My bipolar diagnosis came from the SSRI-induced suicide attempt. And I’d already had several drug changes at that point, so in addition to being used as a punching bag by my husband, I was going through sudden withdrawals and effects of new drugs. What happened to me was a crime, and it wasn’t the fault of a psychiatrist (yet). My family doctor’s specialty was in gynecology! And even then, when I became so emotionally volatile from the drugs combined with current spousal abuse, that I started opening up about childhood traumas, he couldn’t get me out of there fast enough because his colleague in the practice was my mother’s business partner and financier of her businesses! If there was anyone I ever should have sued, it was that wreckless asshole!

    But as for Dr Pies, I have an entire binder full of papers from various hospitalizations talking about the chemical imbalance. It’s what we learned in our required “medication education” groups both inpatient and outpatient. We were given pill boxes with the names of psych drugs on them to fill with our medications to help us keep track of taking our “meds”.

    Everyone talked about “better living through chemistry” and all you ever heard in the news was some horrific thing somebody did when they “went off their meds”. The entire culture of mental health is built up around the theory that some people “have” this thing called “severe mental illness” and they are “dangerous” when they’re “off their meds”. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m fucking done being the cultural boogeyman so that the people who cause and perpetuate so very much harm can continue to get away with it.

    There will never be any redemption for the likes of Dr Pies and his ilk. He’s trying to rewrite history to assuage his own guilt and he go to Hell.

  • “But even today, few psychiatrists are interested in learning about childhood trauma, as that field has sold its soul to the pharmaceutical industry. And that is unfortunate, as psychiatrists often misdiagnose adult survivors with conditions like bipolar disorder and then overmedicate them.”

    This is a very important point. And this tendency to acknowledge trauma but then label the client with “mental illnesses” unrelated to that has been harmful to me and great many other survivors of childhood trauma and the psychiatric system.

    The going line, for far too long, has been that childhood trauma “triggered” these biologically-based “mental disorders” in vulnerable individuals as if those with no genetic vulnerabilities would or even somehow should be impervious to the effects of childhood abuse. In fact, it is my belief that the search for genetic causes of “mental illness” is very much a search for a way to remove those deemed vulnerable from the gene pool via prenatal testing much like you might expect for other genetic defects.

    Paul McHugh was the advisor for my psychiatrist when she was in her Psychiatry residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Though she warned me to never go to Johns Hopkins for psychiatric treatment or hospitalization, her methods very much followed this route, paying lip service to my dissociative disorder and childhood trauma while also medicating me for “ADHD” and “bipolar disorder”. The cocktail of medications she prescribed made it impossible for me to function, much less to process the traumatic events of my past. After years off of these drugs, I am still paying for their effects. I refer to that time in my life as living like a junkie, despite taking all of the drugs as prescribed. I was given the tools and encouraged to medicate away feelings that could have given me important insights into my own condition and how to make a meaningful recovery from the harm I’d experienced. Instead, I never had to feel much what with stimulants, painkillers, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzos, sleeping pills, and more. The labels and drugs gave me license to do harm that I am still sorting through with the people I love. Psychoactive drugs effected my thought processes, made me indifferent to others, created an affirmative defense for bad behavior and generally wrecked my life until I made the commitment to get clean and confront the traumas I experienced and the emotions they elicit. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ready to forgive the medical providers that sidetracked my healing in favor of labeling me “mentally ill” and drugging me into a state of complete helplessness. Maybe that step will be there somewhere in the 12 Steps of Recovery From Psychiatric Assault but I’m certainly not there yet. To borrow from a country music song, I’m Not Ready To Make Nice.

  • You couldn’t be more tone deaf here.

    Most of us here consider ourselves psychiatric survivors, not service users, while most of the general population is still taken in by psychiatric propaganda. It would behoove YOU to explore why there is such a strong and vociferously vocal contingent of survivors pushing back against your message here. We are intimately familiar with the harms of the biomedical approach to distress. Most of us have at least read Bob Whitaker’s book Mad In America. Here is a list of other titles you could peruse if you care to actually hear and understand the feedback you’re receiving:

    Anatomy of An Epidemic
    Psychiatry Under the Influence
    They Say You’re Crazy
    Toxic Psychiatry
    Thinking About Suicide
    A Mind of Your Own
    Your Drug May Be Your Problem
    How to Become a Schizophrenic
    The Myth of Mental Illness
    Coping with Panic
    The Emperor’s New Drugs
    Saving Normal
    The Bitterest Pills
    The Collected Schizophrenias
    Lyme Madness
    Big Brother in the Exam Room
    How We Do Harm
    Let Them Eat Prozac
    Resisting Illegitimate Authority
    The Revolt Against Psychiatry

  • Yes, many causes exist that are not specifically trauma-based. Infection is one well-known cause – syphillis is the historic example but Lyme disease also causes extreme depression. Lyme patients describe it as the worst depression they’ve ever experienced. Lyme patients can also experience psychosis due to central nervous system infection and brain inflammation. When lyme is properly treated, the mental effects are relived as well. Autoimmune disorders are another well known cause of mental distress, again due to factors such as systemic inflammation, brain inflammation and poorly controlled pain. Bowel disorders are known to effect the mental functioning and the theories suggest multiple routes from direct messaging from harmful bacterial overgrowths (blautia blooms are implicated in chronic Lyme disease (PTLD)) to faulty enteric nervous system signaling to the brain. Drug abuse is another way to screw up your mental functioning, and the use of high THC content cannabis is correctly implicated in the development of psychosis. Organic brain disorders result from physical trauma such as TBIs and stroke and also tumors. Genetic causes, though rare, are real and include missing chromosomes, duplicated chromosomes, and copy mutations.

    What is completely missing from all of these causes is treatment that treats the cause because the current approach to mental health care does not attempt to discern etiology, instead opting for chemical treatments and groupings of symptoms. My personal experience, and that of a great many others, involved a number of causes from systemic infection to autoimmunity to high ACEs to intimate partner abuse that all converged to produce a barely functioning adult and chemicals weren’t even a bandaid for all of that. They actively did more harm than good from the very start. And telling me the reason for my distress was a chemical imbalance for which I needed a lifetime of drugs produced an extremely poorly functioning person who is actually damn lucky to even be alive at this point.

    So, is it all trauma? No, of course not. But it isn’t a chemical imbalance either. The drugs and psychosurgical techniques used by psychiatry are both actively harmful to the majority who use them and actively disempowering and lead to our disturbingly high suicide rate and our shockingly low recovery rate. The legacy of the last 200 years and particularly the last 40 years of psychiatric “care” will go down in history as one of the greatest missteps in the entire history of medicine. No amount of intensive home treatment involving current psychiatric methods will change this fact.

  • Richard,

    While I agree in principle with your position on Covid and it’s harms, including the extraordinary number of dead, I don’t entirely disagree with Oldhead’s assertion that it is reasonable to question the origins of this pandemic and to whom it is serving. I also agree with him that we are flogging a dead horse and this is distracting and draining energy from more important AP struggles. Survivor solidarity even when we disagree, which is frequent and on a number of topics, is and will remain our priority. And so I am going to personally ask the both of you publicly to bury this hatchet and move on.

  • Anyone who wants to understand the interplay of power dynamics in who gets labeled mentally ill in western culture can just look at the framing between different demographics.

    Young women with sexual abuse histories who attempt suicide are often labeled mood disordered or personality disordered.

    Middle aged white people (mostly men) who are often very successful in their suicide attempts are said to be involved in “deaths of despair”.

    Professionals of all stripes who attempt or complete suicide or experience emotional crises are usually referred to as being burned out.

    There are very clear distinctions made in the framing between those considered seriously mentally ill and those who are unfortunate victims of circumstance. When the poor or those with high ACEs or Black, Brown and sexual minorities or immigrants experience distress, we are generally labeled with one of the more severe DSM labeled and treated until we no longer complain, even if our lack of complaint is because we’re so drugged or brain-damaged that we have no ability to continue to express ourselves sufficiently.

  • So you aren’t a fan of the DSM and yet you’re perfectly fine with labeled Megan with a mood disorder, placing the problem within her instead of within the culture and family. What survivors need is restorative justice that holds abusers accountable. The label of being mood disordered or personality disordered is another subjective judgment from someone in a position of power over someone without it. You perpetuate harm by focusing your attention on the harmed individual rather than those doing harm.

    And yes, physical health problem are a manifestation of abuse survivors. But you cannot properly control for the effects that adult outcomes for abuse survivors often mean struggling financially, experiencing housing insecurity and food insecurity, etc, all of which contribute in significant ways toward those middle aged health problems experienced by abuse survivors. So focusing exclusively on what’s within the harmed individual response to harm rather than providing strong supports housing, meaningful work, good nutrition and non-pathologizing therapy is again, perpetuating harm.

    Psychiatric drugs (they aren’t medications) and psycho surgical interventions greatly harm already harmed persons.

  • The problem, David, is with psychiatric “treatment”, not the location. You don’t seem to understand this as a provider who believes in psychiatric “treatment”. We do not need an alternative to hospitalization that delivers treatment as usual – medication and ECT – in people’s homes. We need an end to medicalized approaches to distress that rely on DSM labels, medications and psycho surgical techniques. Most of us here support psychosocial responses like Soteria houses, “peer” respite, Open Dialogue, mutual aid and similar forms of “alternatives” to psychiatric care either before or in conjunction with abolishing the unscientific field of Psychiatry. But this is not an “alternative” to psychiatric care. This is psychiatric care in a less restrictive setting. That’s what we are objecting to. Whether or not your patients appear willing to accept this in order to avoid medical incarceration is irrelevant. The power dynamics may legitimately be beyond your comprehension for someone in your position. But I can assure you they exist whether or not you are willing to see them and considering how great a percentage of the psychiatrized population ended up that way due to abuse of power and control, and how thoroughly psychiatric drugs and psychosurgical techniques have been shown to do more harm than good, it is indeed surprising to see this here. I can only assume that the funding from Soros Foundation has something to do with the “promoting all sides” approach that seems to be increasingly happening here at MIA.

    I do hope, though, that the MIA editorial staff sufficiently prepared you for the reception this “alternative” would receive here.

  • Thank you. I stopped reading it myself when I realized there are no life preservers in existence buoyant enough to keep my head above the sea of bullshit.

    The take is privileged. It perpetuates harm against harmed populations. It does nothing to hold abusers accountable. And it places the dysfunction within the harmed individual instead of squarely on the shoulders of the powerful who do harm.

  • I have no doubt that your model avoids hospitalization but it still presumes that the best way to help those experiencing an emotional/mental crisis is psychiatric treatment rather than restorative justice and reparations for harm done. Therapy and drugs do not produce long term success for harmed individuals because it keeps them occupied with chasing an internal flaw when their response is the normal response to harm. It creates a situation where the problem is believed to exist within the individual instead of in the family, community and culture.

    Psychiatry is firmly entrenched within a greater carceral state which punishes those whose issues are most commonly boiled down to trauma, poverty, racism, and other oppressions. You can’t fix any of those with intensive home treatment. And it lets the powerful who continue to perpetrate harm off the hook.

  • Let me make it even more clear for you. It’s easy to get away when someone is physically battering you. But the most mentally damaging abuse is not achieved with a man’s fists. It’s coercive control. It’s financial abuse. It’s psychological. It’s emotional cruelty. It’s manipulation to distance her from her family and friends. It’s telling her that if she leaves, all the money will be spent on lawyers and she’ll get nothing. It’s threats to use past psychiatric treatment against her. It’s even more insidious when the abused is disabled and being supported by an affluent spouse. Abuse that leaves bruises is the easiest to escape. Abuse that wears down and breaks a woman’s psyche gets diagnosed as depression and a multitude of other health problems.

    Your suggestion that you can “treat” her emotional crisis in a DV shelter reveals how little you know. I’ll stop here, I’ve made my point.

  • Do you think psychiatric drugs are appropriate treatment for abused women? Wouldn’t prosecutions of their abusers be a better use of resources?

    This also assumes the woman is going to avail herself of crisis services which are almost exclusively directed toward the poor. Class stigma plays a major role here.

    “ But psychiatrists warn that the eleven percent figure masks the true prevalence of domestic violence among the middle classes, upper classes, and even those families in the one percent. Statistics are primarily derived from organizations such as domestic abuse shelters that cater to impoverished victims,

    If spousal abuse is something that happens to “poor people” that society blames for their troubles, then any person who admits to suffering intimate partner violence must contend with the additional shame of being associated with “low class” behavior for which they are somehow responsible. Such contempt compounds the fears of reputational loss that battered spouses suffer, keeping even those who can free themselves from their situation unwilling to seek help. “The notion that ‘silence is violence’ takes on a whole new meaning for the upscale: their silence keeps them bound on the path of abuse,” writes Weitzman.

    In her book, Weitzman maintains that the women she saw in households with annual incomes above a hundred thousand dollars were even reluctant to mention the abuse in therapy. “Only with the greatest reluctance did the women I worked with reveal the abuse they had suffered, even within the safe confines of my office,” she wrote.“


    I was once a poor woman in DV shelter. No woman with any other choice uses those services. And the idea that she needs psychiatric treatment instead of a good lawyer is extremely pervasive. Your response of bringing your treatment to a crisis shelter only makes my point. Poor women are treated so badly that more affluent women suffer in silence.

  • “On average, more than half of the women seen in mental health settings are being or have been abused by an intimate partner. There are specific diagnoses that are commonly experienced by these women: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. In addition, traumatic events produce profound and lasting changes in physiological, arousal, emotion, cognition, and memory- changes that wouldn’t necessarily result in psychological diagnosis.

    It’s important to understand that someone’s mental health can be impacted without having PTSD, depression, or anxiety. Whether or not someone develops PTSD as a result of domestic violence depends on numerous factors, not everyone is impacted in the same way. The ways in which a victim-survivor’s mental health can be impacted can include: difficulties with being productive at work, school, with caregiving, establishing and engaging in healthy relationships, and adapting to change and coping with adversity.

    A victim-survivor’s mental health can also be weaponized and used as another form of violence and harm. Mental health coercion is a commonly used tactic that is targeted toward the victim-survivor’s mental health as part of a broader pattern of abuse and control and includes: deliberately attempting to undermine a survivor’s sanity, preventing a survivor from accessing treatment, controlling a survivor’s medication, using a survivor’s mental to discredit them with sources of protection, support, to manipulate the police or influence child custody decisions, or engaging mental health stigma to make a survivor think no one will believe them.”


  • “ Intimate partner violence may constitute physical, sexual, or psychological harm upon a current or former partner or spouse. In these situations, offenders try to control their victims through fear, intimidation, threats, or force. Perpetrators may humiliate their targets, control what they do, withhold information, isolate them from friends and family, and deny access to money or other basic resources.

    Persons who suffer such interpersonal violence usually report a range of negative mental and physical health outcomes.6 Sometimes, police officers seek this information from individuals caught between reporting their abuser and fearing how the “system” will treat them.”


  • “Know the Warning Signs:

    My partner has injured me badly enough that I needed medical attention

    My partner follows me everywhere I go or needs to know what I am doing at all times

    My partner has threatened to hurt my children or pets

    My partner abuses alcohol or drugs

    My partner has forced me to have sex

    My partner controls my money

    My partner tells me who I can spend time with

    My partner calls me harsh names and makes me feel worthless“

    “Individuals who have experienced IPV may have many health problems beyond any immediate physical injury, including:



    Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

    Suicide attempts

    Substance abuse

    Gastrointestinal disorders”


  • “The first thing that came to mind when I heard about COVID restrictions and mitigation strategies was how exceptionally dangerous this time could be for women living with abusive partners. “Self-isolate,” “stay at home,” “practice social distancing,” and “recession” are all words likely to be terrifying to many women who are living with intimate partner violence (IPV). The lives of these women are often filled with fear and danger under normal circumstances, but during this new normal of the global pandemic, the lives of these very often “invisible victims” are at an increased risk for more violence — and even murder.”


  • “ Domestic violence stems from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partner’s lives, often either because they believe their own feelings and needs should be the priority in the relationship, or because they enjoy exerting the power that such abuse gives them.

    Tactics of abuse (in any form) may be aimed at dismantling equality in the relationship in order to make their partners feel less valuable and undeserving of respect.

    Being abusive is a decision: it’s a strategic behavior by your partner to create their desired power dynamic.

    Regardless of the circumstances of your relationship or past, no one ever deserves to be abused and you’re never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions.”


  • “ For over 10 years, researchers analyzed the lives of 1,052 mothers who had no past history of depression. Throughout the study, participants were interviewed multiple times to assess whether they suffered through violence from their spouses and if they had any mental disorders. It turns out more than one-third of the women suffered violence from their spouses from being either pushed or hit with an object. Those same women were at a three times higher risk for developing symptoms similar to psychotic schizophrenia. If they reported a history of child abuse, the risks automatically doubled and they were also twice as likely to suffer from depression.”


  • “ The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence reveals that 50% of women with mental illnesses are victims of violence. More specifically, 50-84% of female victims suffer from PTSD. According to the same source, 63-77% suffer from depression, whilst, 38-75% of women report feeling anxiety. This indicates that there is some correlation between domestic violence and mental illness. In addition to the aforementioned illnesses, victims of domestic violence may also suffer from substance abuse, psychotic episodes and suicidal thoughts.”


  • “ Sometimes I said no, and he kept going, and I… left. I mean, my body stayed, but the rest of me went floating up and to the right. Dissociation sounds scary, but it doesn’t feel bad. Sometimes it feels like sliding into a warm, cozy bed. A secret, safe place where I can stay as long as I want. It’s the coming back that breaks me open. That’s when I always cry.

    Perfect Victim is the model against which all other (normal, flawed, human) victims are judged, and trust me, we all come up short. Perfect Victim says no clearly and often, fights off her attacker like a honey badger, and if she can’t get away, she continues to profess her non-consent throughout the encounter, ideally by shouting “no” and continuing to fight as best she can. Perfect Victim has the courage of a hundred armchair quarterbacks. Perfect Victim bites and scratches. Perfect Victim spits and sobs. What she doesn’t do is give in. What she doesn’t do is get wet. What she doesn’t do is make her rapist breakfast.“


  • “Violence against women is widely recognised as a violation of human rights and a public health problem. In this Series paper, we argue that violence against women is also a prominent public mental health problem, and that mental health professionals should be identifying, preventing, and responding to violence against women more effectively. The most common forms of violence against women are domestic abuse and sexual violence, and victimisation is associated with an increased risk of mental disorder. Despite clinical guidance on the role of mental health professionals in identifying violence against women and responding appropriately, poor identification persists and can lead to non-engagement with services and poor response to treatment. We highlight that little research has been done on how to improve identification and treatment of victims and perpetrators in contact with mental health services, but that mental health services could play a major role in primary and secondary prevention of violence against women.”


  • “But in all this discussion about the realities of domestic violence, one perspective was clearly left out: the people who are imprisoned for defending themselves against abusers. Where are the stories about how the legal system often punishes abuse survivors for defending themselves, usually after the legal system itself failed to ensure their safety?”


  • “Domestic abuse is a leading problem in American homes and it can take many different forms. When the abuse leaves no physical marks, outsiders may not recognize when all is not well and the abused person can find it challenging to translate what’s happening.

    “Gaslighting” — a term that became popular after the 1944 movie “Gaslight,” in which a husband slowly makes his wife think she’s going crazy through a long game of deceptions — is an insidious form of psychological abuse. It’s an intricate web of lies woven to break down one partner’s sense of self-worth and perception of what is real.

    “When you’re black and blue, you can point to the bruises and you can say ‘This happened to me,’” Dr. Robin Stern, associate director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, told TODAY. “But when somebody is undermining your reality and you simply have this feeling that there’s something wrong … women moreso than men, but men too, tend to point their fingers at themselves and say, ‘I did something wrong.’”


  • “Multiple studies have found that domestic violence survivors have higher-than-average rates of suicidal thoughts, with as many as 23 percent of survivors having attempted suicide compared to 3 percent among populations with no prior domestic violence exposure.

    It’s not just physical violence that’s linked with an increase in suicide. Verbal and emotional abuse are also connected with higher risk, as well as the duration, frequency and severity of abuse, and the presence of other factors such as PTSD, childhood trauma, depression and substance use.”


  • “If intimate partner violence is not stopped, you may develop serious health and mental problems. Examples include headache, body pain, sexually transmitted infection (STI), and diarrhea. Intimate partner violence may lead to severe injuries or become life-threatening. You and your children may feel severe trauma, distress, anxiety, or depression.”


  • “ Marital rape or spousal rape is the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without the spouse’s consent. The lack of consent is the essential element and need not involve physical violence. Marital rape is considered a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Although, historically, sexual intercourse within marriage was regarded as a right of spouses, engaging in the act without the spouse’s consent is now widely classified as rape by many societies around the world, repudiated by international conventions, and increasingly criminalized.

    The issues of sexual and domestic violence within marriage and the family unit, and more specifically, the issue of violence against women, have come to growing international attention from the second half of the 20th century. Still, in many countries, marital rape either remains outside the criminal law, or is illegal but widely tolerated. Laws are rarely being enforced, due to factors ranging from reluctance of authorities to pursue the crime, to lack of public knowledge that sexual intercourse in marriage without consent is illegal.”


  • “Science is very aware of biases and it takes into account those variables.”

    Science is not an entity. You are preaching Scientism. Researcher bias and the corporate influence and profit motive has had a massive influence on current accepted scientific wisdom. Here are researchers at the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center just *yesterday* pushing back strongly against the IDSA Guidelines on Lyme Disease treatment, saying they harm Lyme Disease patients. Lyme patients have been pushing back against these flawed guidelines for decades. Just as psychiatric survivors have been pushing back against the scientism used by psychiatry and other helping professions regarding “mental illness” and its treatments.


    Using “science” as a cudgel to prove your point is crude and ineffective on those who actually appreciate legitimate science driven in the name of curiosity rather than the junk science produced at great cost under our current publish or perish system. You can sound as measured and learned as you want and still be wrong.

    It’s also pretty rich to suggest that Buddhist concepts are too complicated to understand so westerners misinterpret them. I wonder if Buddhists misinterpret the concept of a “loving” father drowning all of his children and starting Humanity 2.0 as the Christian SkyDaddy is supposed to have done. As has been pointed out here before, the western practice of picking and choosing bits and pieces of other cultures to try on and thoroughly bastardize is appropriation.

  • https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/08/conclusions-brain-scan-studies-problematic-not-unsubstantiated/

    We are reducing the mind and mental experience to the brain when we conclude that brain changes are evidence of anything. We are also making the mistake of believing that meditation studied until controlled circumstances has any application to people at large.

    There’s been no demonstration from any of these studies that feeling more calm correlates with improved real-word outcomes in functioning in terms of health, housing, employment, socioeconomic status, educational attainment, disability status, stabler rewarding relationships, etc. We also can’t demonstrate that what is seen on an MRI from someone who has been taught to quiet their mind in a controlled environment has any real world effect when they are under duress in a less controlled environment.

    These studies have little practical applicable value besides the benefit to the careers of the researchers who have published. When I see studies that demonstrate mindfulness meditation having real-world applicable effects with confounding variables well controlled and demonstrating a causal relationship between meditating and positive outcomes, I’ll consider it of more value. Until then, I think it does a massive disservice to the people whose stories you’ve attempted to discount with a few links and claims of evidence.

    If a person can’t “do no harm”, they can at least keep their mouths shut and not respond to stories of harm with “but look at these brains scans and this real evidence”. The amount of “anecdotal” evidence in blogs and comments accumulated on this website could fill volumes. A few brain scan studies cannot refute the harms that have been shared over and over and over on these pages. I find the dismissal of personal stories callous but sadly typical of mental health professionals.

  • Oldhead, do you not see “conscious evolution” as a contradiction of terms? The average IQ of the species has actually fallen in the last 100 years since the development of modern medicine and reproductive technologies. A lot more idiots are surviving to reproduce. Is this a good thing? Can humans be conscious without introducing bias that does more harm than good? We have AI that concludes that Black folk are healthier because they utilize fewer medical services? When you say “conscious” are you using this term as a euphemism for “ethical” or “moral”? I see evolution as being on hold as humans have developed technologies and knowledge that effectively circumvent natural selection.

  • Interestingly, well before DBT became the go-to treatment for Borderline, it was well accepted that the associated behaviors were often “grown out of” by the mid-30s, although clinicians still appear reticent to use the word “recovered” even now in favor of “sustained remission” instead. In order to be considered “recovered”, one must have a full time employment outside the home. So sorry to those with any other disabilities precluding full time employment… if you’re not slaving for someone else’s profit, you aren’t recovered. “Functioning” seems conspicuously tied to capitalist interests.

  • Hey Steve, I totally agree with your first statement. It wasn’t until I looked him up that I realized he had developed the concept of allostatic load. He’s no ordinary neuroscientist calling bullshit on psychiatry; he’s basically the godfather of the very concept of there being social determinants of health.

    I’m also not convinced on your last statement. I don’t think evolution gave us our species core need of survival. I think evolution is rather the result of survival. Survival of the fittest being the core concept of Darwin’s theory of evolution. I think our core need, which contributes to survival of the species, is actually reproduction. The drive to reproduce is fundamental to many of the other needs he mentioned such as exploration, risk taking, and regular small rewards.

  • I have noticed an interesting trend recently. As more research has come out showing people can indeed heal from trauma, and borderline has been framed as having a high rate of recovery, suddenly people are tripping over themselves to reveal their borderline diagnoses. Nobody wanted to be borderline when we were regarded as untreatable and now it’s the diagnosis du jour. And why wouldn’t it be? Who would want one of the labels that are regarded as needing pills for life or that are associated with psychosis, like bipolar increasingly is framed as. And move over neurodiversity, borderline and dissociative disorders are what all the cool kids have. Or something…

  • I’m sorry you misunderstood what I meant by individualized treatment. I’m not talking about meeting an individual’s needs in terms of the supports provided to them. I’m talking about the way “mental illness” is framed as existing as a treatable medical illness within the individual instead of a response to abuse/oppression/exploitation. The individual illness/medicalized approach to treatment doesn’t generally address social and environmental causes/etiology of distress.

    Secondly, when I mention adversity, I never mean oppression, abuse or exploitation. Humans learn by trial and error. Sadness and grief and anger and joy are all within the normal spectrum but our culture tends to see only a very narrow range of emotions as being acceptable. Being too happy or too sad or too angry are all pathologized instead of trying to understand why and use them to our advantage. Our emotions exist to drive us to explore and take risks and learn. There is value to experiencing setbacks, keeping our eyes on the prize, being determined. But all of these have been twisted under capitalism and we rarely truly get to experience the fruits of our labor when our labor is exploited for others’ profit. Oppression and abuse rarely teach us anything more than how to exist/survive within harmful power dynamics.

  • Great article but it left unaddressed the individualism that mental health treatment entails. Yes, we need a more equal society but we also need to educate people that feeling bad is a normal part of the human condition. “Happiness” is not actually the goal of life. Character is built through adversity, perseverance, triumph. We need to understand that taking prescription drugs to avoid feeling is no different than taking street drugs or drinking alcohol to excess to shut down those feelings. Our feelings are what drive us to make the changes we so desperately need and so few people are making change because they’re too busy attempting to drug the bad feelings away and be ok on a personal level only. The politicians aren’t going to change the system without the people participating in holding their feet to the fire.

    Also unspoken was the vast number of people who have tried out the mental health system and either got little help or found it made their situation worse. My opinion is that it’s time to flush awareness campaigns entirely. It’s time to do away with individualized mental health treatment and instead start building up cooperative and supportive housing, employment, and mutual aid that doesn’t depend upon individual pathology.

  • Ok, well done. You’ve convinced me to read your book.

    While I agree with Richard above that the current economic system – capitalism – thrives on all of the conditions that make us ill and miserable, I also think it’s probably too late to change the trajectory for humans (indeed, all of earth’s species) as we have long since passed the 3.5C change in global temperature that predicts runaway climate change. I think there is merit to Paul Beckwith’s suggestion to mourn the end of the species rather than fight an outcome that almost seems completely inevitable at this point. Some models suggest a blue ocean event could occur as early as 2024. https://www.scientistswarning.org/2020/06/04/blue-ocean-event/

    At the most base level, though, that systems change are or would be required to return humans to optimal functioning, I think you’re spot on. Interesting essay and I look forward to reading your books.

  • How exactly is this an improvement when it still categorizes disorder based upon symptomatology rather than etiology? The way a person expresses or manifests their distress appears to have more to do with their environment, upbringing, and their social circles than the actual origin of their issues. If psychopathology is ever to have any legitimacy whatsoever, it must address etiology and stop judging and attempting to interpret behaviors.

    I can assure you that the behaviors of children experiencing abuse at home or school and adults experiencing domestic violence or abuse in the workplace can look an awful lot like most of these “disorders” and without addressing the situation, the response amounts to victim-blaming. Equally, diagnoses of mood disorders or psychosis when someone has an undetected subclinical infection helps no one. We have a medical system that on a good day does a thyroid and rheumatological panel before drugging the life out of people. We have the knowledge that we are what we eat, that the enteric nervous system directly effects mood and cognition, that hunger and malnutrition are rampant despite people getting too many calories, and yet there seems no political will on either side to regulate lucrative industries peddling cheap crap at great profit to large portions of the populous. And on and on and on. One industry after another profits off of human distress that is largely artificially created.

    We don’t need any more research on these issues. We don’t need any more books. We don’t need any more pontificating by academics. We need boots on the ground, we need the folks getting psychology and psychiatry degrees to be raising their voices with us. We need you to read our stories of abuse, of trauma, of illness, of poverty and then elevate our voices to the news and courts and politicians to effect actual change. Fuck this research. Fuck new taxonomies. This isn’t the help anyone needs. This is no alternative to the DSM, it’s just more pathologizing. It’s people getting published in the publish or perish academic environment. You could more good by setting this paper on fire and harvesting the thermal energy from it. At least the PTMF has the guts to point the finger at the power dynamics doing and perpetuating harm.

  • Also Richard, yes, I often think of Matt with a mix of anger and sadness. I know all too keenly how he felt. I know how deep, as you say, the judgements of psychiatry penetrate. I have allowed it to fuel a deep sense of righteous anger to propel me when I might otherwise sink into similar thoughts. I wish I could have shared some of that with Matt. There is a very real way in which Matt’s suicide can be viewed as murder by the system. What it does is a slow murder for all too many who take that path, seeing no other way out, and having internalized the judgments. May he and all those gone but not forgotten Rest In Peace and their memories sustain those of us still fighting the Dragon.

  • Bojana, this is phenomenal. You possess a great intellect along with the capacity for extraordinary creative and illustrative expression.

    Furthermore, I couldn’t agree more with your premise regarding the value of education in its own right, regardless of what one might go on to DO with the knowledge gained. Education, both formal – I have an associate’s degree earned over 14 years of slow and steady pursuit – and informal – time used wisely to learn as much as I could – have served me in many ways above and beyond any work I might have performed instead.

    Additionally, the self—awareness that one’s innermost experiences do not align neatly with the ways they are conjured by others is healing in and of itself. For example, hearing voices versus experiencing obtrusive thoughts or urges. The difference in framing changes everything about how you are treated. My own experience was that various diagnoses were applied depending on how I appeared – they were snapshots in time taken out of context. I have always been kind of shocked that I got the DID label and not the schizophrenia label, though these are each differential diagnoses for the other. My daughter got labeled with RAD which has been changed to Autism. In one, the mother is blamed, the other is seen as a “neurodiversity”. Exactly nothing about her experience changed. As a child, I was labeled as “culturally deprived” for not knowing who Bugs Bunny was at the age of 5, when I had little access to cartoon television and spent most of my time outdoors or with my nose in a book. Again, these labels are others subjective observations of our lives based on their experiences of their lives. It approaches a form of professional bullying and misunderstanding.

    I left psychiatry and therapy for reasons very similar to your own. These systems do not serve me well. They label, pathologize and judge experiences they don’t understand. They “other” and stigmatize what ought to be seen as completely normal. Of course, we all step lightly on a new pair of well-fitting and comfortable (or just adorable) shoes!

    I have always wondered how WE (in the greater cultural sense) can both appreciate creative arts and simultaneously vilify the artist. Van Gogh is at once a creative genius and posthumously diagnosed with every MI label in the book.

    Anyway, “The fear disappeared and I started to recover and gain intellectual self-respect.” This strongly resonates with me. Please keep writing here. I feel a strong sense of identification with what you’ve expressed so far and can’t wait to read more from you. We need more voices like yours in the AP movement.

  • Thank you, Richard. I appreciate your kind words in light of some of the disagreements we’ve had in the past. I’m not sure exactly how to respond; I’m not much of an approval seeker, as I’m sure you know, so I’ll just say this:

    DragonSlayer refers to psychiatry as a Dragon which I think is an extremely apt metaphor as it illustrates how Psychiatry becomes like a living breathing entity in people’s lives with the power to completely destroy. What it took from me were my early aspirations – educationally and career-wise, and severely limited my social status in ways that still follow me despite all I’ve gained. But it did give me time in the form of being declared disabled and left largely to my own devices for many years. And I have used that time to educate myself and learn as much as I can about as many different topics as I could in as great a depth and breadth as possible and I can view that as nothing but a gift. I don’t really suppose any academic or intellectual could ask for more, except maybe fewer labels and stigma. Again, thank you.

  • OK, let’s address what I actually said.

    I’ll start out with pointing out this sentence that you didn’t seem to read:

    “I respect your right and self-determination to identify in this way…”

    Secondly, I was addressing your comment, not anyone else’s. I am not aware of the ethnic, racial or cultural backgrounds of most of the commenters here who use pseudonyms and do not have profile photos identifying themselves. And I am careful to identify my own background since my own photo and screen name also leaves that ambiguous. So with that said, I am addressing what for all appearances seems to be another person in my subculture – white, educated, and female within the dominant class.

    Third, these issues are near and dear to my heart for many reasons but as the grandmother of an Afro-Indigenous child, I am extremely careful to NEVER speak on her behalf when I am talking about my own experiences and identity. I also do not speak for my friends of various descent when I am referring to my own cultural heritage and identity. The experiences of historically oppressed peoples are not mine to use for my own purposes. My oppressions have been unique and within the framework of the still-dominant WASP culture. And I find it abhorrent when other white women within my subculture appropriate these people’s experiences when speaking of their own identity. You are not the cultural spokesperson of oppressed people but you wear the “mad” identity like white women typically wear ceremonial dress without understanding appropriation. I’ve heard “shouldn’t they be glad I’m taking an interest in their culture” too many times to not speak up on this matter.

    Fourth, spirituality is not synonymous with cultural heritage. Your religious beliefs, whatever they may be, are not on the same level as Indigenous and Aboriginal beliefs of connection with the dead, spirit realms, etc. Even the spiritual baptism of Pentacostals speaking in tongues is still operating within the framework of a Judeo-Christian God, being filled with the Holy Spirit. In no way has this ever been interpreted as “madness” – it is fully accepted within Judeo-Christian belief systems.

    Fifth, when advocating for the right of those experiencing altered mental states to be free from police brutality, for example, it has to be acknowledged that other people generally find those states extremely disturbing. We are not just talking about someone who is having a spiritual experience with odd beliefs. We are often talking about someone standing in the road at midnight in their underwear, brandishing a weapon, and completely disconnected from consensus reality. If we want to advocate for those people not to be shot and killed on sight, we have to be able to acknowledge that witnessing these disturbances can be extremely traumatizing, and not pretend that that person represents zero threat to anyone. Otherwise, those who might be sympathetic to dialing down police use of force will dismiss us. So let’s stop pretending that we all fit in the same bowl of skittles when we are talking about the current cultural response to people experiencing extreme states.

    Sixth, as for psychiatry, it is not necessary to use the cultural aspects of Black and Brown people’s experiences to also identify as oppressed psychiatric survivors with our own unique cultural backgrounds. However, under Intersectional theory, it’s entirely appropriate for psychiatrically oppressed people within those subcultures to say “psychiatric oppression” adds another layer to the oppressions I already experience. That is their experience and one you’ll never fully grok despite whatever spiritual and religious views you have. The fact is that Psychiatry as a profession is still dominated by white male figures and that Psychotherapy as a profession is still dominated by white female figures. These people exist within the same cultural subset as you and I. In most of your and my experiences within psychiatric oppression, we will have been oppressed by people who look like us, and who are oppressing us for not fitting within that dominant cultural paradigm in which we were born and raised.

    Seventh, under Capitalism, the dominant economic theory promoted by white, male europeans, there is now a concept of “multi-racial whiteness”, which is the idea that whiteness is becoming more of an economic status than simply a skin color. You are right that many are oppressed by psychiatry for responding poorly to what are largely economic struggles in their lives. Cornell West refers to this concept as the “Niggerization of America”, where poor whites have slowly been “Niggerized” in social status. It’s an interesting theory in economic terms but still never really quite intersects with the lived experience of actual Black and Brown experience. The reason being that oppressed white folk generally have within their reach a much greater possibility of climbing back up and reattaining a respectable socialeconomic status. I personally had the intellect to date and marry my way back into the dominant socioeconomic class. I can piggyback on my husband’s professional status and I can be careful to present in such a way that I am not targeted, which is a luxury that more visually oppressed peoples do not have even when they possess far greater amounts of money and social status than I have.

    For these reasons, I do not ever find it appropriate for white women like you and I to take on the identity of “madness”. I have been psychiatrically oppressed. I am a psychiatric survivor. I am in no way ever going to be oppressed on the same level as my granddaughter, who is likely to be labeled Autistic before long, showing behaviors both I and her mother displayed at that age. Her gorgeous brown skin and natural afro add layers to her oppression I will never experience; You have not and never will experience. When she is old enough to identify in any way, within her Indigenous cultural heritage, it still won’t be “madness” but instead a gift that her people value.

    I am a psychiatric survivor. I am not “mad” and I will not fight for my or your right to assume that identity. Feel free to identify however you wish. I respect your perspective and that it differs from mine. But if you cannot respect that I have a different experience and viewpoint without denigrating it and drawing upon other people’s oppressions to back up your idenity, you are exercising your privilege. That’s not advocacy.

  • Hi Jenny,

    I step into this with some trepidation as I have no real dog in this fight between you and Oldhead and don’t want to get involved in that aspect about what to do with MNN which is way before my time.

    I would only like to clarify that there are survivors that object to the term “madness” for very similar reasons to why you say you embrace it. My own feeling is that these many states of consciousness are not ‘altered’ per se, but exist on the spectrum of normality. It pains me to see references to “madness” for the same reasons I object to terms like “neurodiversity”. It creates an “other” through which we are stigmatized.

    You are correct that in other cultures, these states of being are accepted and even cultivated. The identification of future shamans, for example. In some cultures, the ability to connect to the spiritual realm is seen as a gift. But I don’t understand why should I identify as “mad” or call this experience an altered reality when that concept is so heavily stigmatized in THIS culture that I actually live in? And doesn’t this reference to other cultures approach cultural appropriation were I to use it here as a middle class white female American?

    I see this situation as very similar to the fight for acceptance that the gay community experienced in the 80s and 90s. Many in the gay community that are not flamboyant simply wanted to be seen as being just like everyone else. They’re people with jobs and houses and families who go to church and the movies and are as normal as the straight community. But there is another contingent of the gay community that IS flamboyant, who DOES want their differences celebrated, who DOES want to have all sorts of PDA and participate in big marches and be in your face about their gayness. It turns out that both sides have solid points. And that doesn’t seem to be any different for the mad/survivor community. Some of us just want to exist and do our thing and not be pathologized when we’re struggling. I personally have no desire to be pathologized as mad or autistic or different. Even though the number of autism labeled people in my family has skyrocketed, and though I share their experiences, I personally want to be viewed as being on the spectrum of normal.

    Additionally, there are of studies on prison conditions that show that anyone can become “psychotic” from solitary confinement. It takes about two weeks. Or from sleep deprivation, which only takes a few days. Are these people gifted or tortured? I don’t feel like it is right to appropriate other cultures to suggest that a born and raised American is reaching some other spiritual realm when the likelihood is they are simply severely traumatized.

    I hope that clarifies why some of us do not embrace these labels. I respect your right and self-determination to identify in this way, but on this particular point, I am with Oldhead. “Mad”, “Autistic”, and similar labels do not serve me. “Psychiatric Survivor” does.

    Thanks for the article, by the way. I find the history of the survivor movement fascinating.

  • “ sometimes after the withdrawal think you should return to the horror and terror of the psychiatrists, etc. again”

    Psychiatry is like an abusive partner whose insults get under your skin and wear down your own sense of yourself so that even after you leave for good, and especially during tough times, you might question yourself and think you still need them. You still hear words like “mentally ill”, “crazy”, “noncompliant” etc the same way you might hear “fat”, “stupid”, and “worthless” from your abuser. The whole point of psychiatry is to instill the idea that what is wrong in your life is something wrong with you and that you need them (drugs, therapy) in order to survive. It’s incredibly abusive and destructive, and it targets and grooms its victims just as stealthily as any abuser does.

  • I read a Yahoo Health article yesterday that referred to Serotonin as one of the chemicals that controls mood and how it’s important to have enough of this neurotransmitter. This is part of popular knowledge that continues to repeat itself like a self-replicating virus. Viral falsehoods are extremely damaging. It is through articles such as this one that the next generation CAN be educated on this matter since the mainstream media has done little to correct the record. Why does it matter that the angle of this article is to hold accountable a psychiatric authority who is trying to rewrite his own history of propagating this myth?

    Max Planck’s quote is interesting but new knowledge isn’t absorbed by the next generation by itself. It is transmitted by people like Phil who write the history of prior falsehoods. Another quote comes to my mind: Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

  • There are many who think socialists and communists are self-serving narcs as well. That we’re lazy takers not willing to do any of the work required to keep a society functioning. These people offer their opinions without ever examining the reasons behind our philosophy – reasons that are backed by strong moral and ethical stances against oppression and beliefs that we’re all better off when we’re all better off. That working together to create a more just and fair and egalitarian society isn’t stealing or lazy or entitled or narcissistic. It really quite clearly demonstrates how social labels have very little use. COMMUNICATION so we understand eachother, listening and caring and working together for the betterment of all is what we need. Not labels. Not of the medical kind. Not of the social kind.

  • Ditching the Goldwater Rule will do absolutely NOTHING to address the behaviors of his sycophants in Congress who have ignored Trump’s threat for years in pursuit of political power and personal gain. However, our democratic election in November DID allow the people to act. We not only didn’t re-elect Trump, we also voted out many of his supporters and have a Democratic majority in Congress. (Thank you, Georgia voters!) This is how Democracy works. Now it is up to law enforcement, federal investigative agencies (DOJ, FBI, Homeland Security), and courts to PROSECUTE and hold accountable those who broke the law, including Trump and his allies in Congress and state houses around the country.

    There is ample research to show that psychiatrists and psychologists cannot accurately predict the future or anyone’s behavior. They can’t reliably predict suicide. They can’t reliably predict violence. They are not clairvoyants. Bandy Lee has been promoting psychiatric propaganda for years, playing on the public’s fear and stigma against those with psychiatric labels in her attempt to get us to see Trump as crazy instead of dangerously entitled. He is drunk on power, not mentally ill. It would be a terrible miscarriage of justice to allow that kind of stigma to affect future citizens who struggle with their mental state but do not share Trump’s lack of ethics and morals from being able to hold the presidency. Trump isn’t psychotic or delusional or suffer from any diagnosable predicament – he’s coddled and protected by those who also have no ethical or moral qualms.

    Trump was voted in as President in 2016 in part because of poor strategy on the part of the DNC and Hillary Clinton who called him the “pied-piper” candidate who had no chance of being elected. Boy did he show them! Trump has done this country an enormous favor. He has clearly shown for the second time why the Electoral College method of electing presidents is flawed and should be abolished in favor of a majority of overall votes. He’s also clearly demonstrated what the FBI has been quietly pointing out for years – that domestic white terrorism is a clear and present danger. More so than any other threat. He has brought out into the full light of day just how many people agree with his extreme beliefs, just how many people are itching for a violent revolution.

    Trump has always been a walking train wreck of a person. But to call him crazy without acknowledging the enormous number of people in this country who think like him and would give (have given) their lives in support of him shows dangerous shortsightedness. That segment of the population that is reacting violently to the thought of this country being anything but a White paradise and who are willing to go to such extreme lengths to keep their privilege – that is what Trumpism exposed. Trump was never the real threat. But he did very clearly expose the actual threat. Now the real work begins. We are not out of danger with Trump gone as president. That threat still exists, quietly waiting for the next powerful person who is sympathetic to it. It will rise again if it isn’t dealt with.

  • Caroline,

    I want to jump in here and provide some clarifications on the subject of not taking prescribed meds and how that can affect a disability determination by the SSA. This is a topic area that haunts many psychiatric patients who receive disability benefits. Here is what the Social Security Administration has to say about the failure to follow prescribed treatments during a Continuing Disability Review, meaning this specific section applies only to patients who are already receiving disability and are up for review of their case by SSA.

    “H. Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR)
    When we conduct a CDR, we will make a failure to follow prescribed treatment determination when the individual’s own medical source(s) prescribed a new treatment for the disabling impairment(s) since the last favorable determination or decision and the individual did not follow the prescribed treatment.
    We will also make a failure to follow prescribed treatment determination during a CDR if we find that an individual would continue to be entitled to disability or blindness benefits based upon an impairment first alleged during the CDR and there is evidence that the individual has not followed his or her own medical source’s prescribed treatment for that impairment.
    If we determine an individual does not have good cause for failing to follow the prescribed treatment that we have determined would restore the individual’s ability engage in SGA, we will issue a predetermination notice and, because benefits may be terminated, offer the individual an opportunity to respond before terminating benefits. Individuals are entitled to benefits while we develop evidence to determine whether they failed to follow prescribed treatment. If we determine that an individual failed to follow prescribed treatment without good cause in either situation, we will cease benefits two months after the month of the determination or decision that the individual is no longer disabled or statutorily blind.”


    TL;DR: Unless the medications prescribed would be expected to return you to substantial gainful activity (SGA), your noncompliance with prescribed medications will not effect your case.

    Personal opinion: how this unfolds in practice is another matter entirely and may completely depend on how busy your local SSA regional office is and how opposed to disability for psychiatric issues your review officer is. So I would personally probably still worry about the effect of noncompliance and the risk to my own benefits if I were on them, but others may take this to mean it is safe not to take prescribed drugs.

  • I hear you on the criticism of the population studied, but it is in fact a replication of other studies that have been done in western countries. There have been many studies on the value of a universal basic income As well as studies on paying offenders not to commit crimes, paying drug addicts to quit their addictions and stay clean, and paying parents to go to college to transition them off welfare. Over and over and over, we’ve seen the value of giving those in struggle a helping hand, but we are a punitive culture who see some as deserving and some not. And we continue to dole out punishment to those we don’t see as deserving even though it costs more in the long run to deal with the problems that poverty and oppression directly cause.

  • I disagree Steve. The concept of money and financial value has corrupted the fact that we all have inherent worth and we all contribute in unique ways. A software engineer is not worth more than a janitor or a garbage man or a grocery stocker or cashier. This is the whole crux of the class system – that some people are worth more than others. Not everyone has the ability to be a pilot or a doctor but we sure know the value of quality construction workers when a building or bridge collapses. Road crews risk their lives daily to build and maintain our roads. And we often send prisoners to do cleanup on the sides of busy highways, which will tell you hw much we value that job. Why do we insist on thinking that some jobs and the people who do them are inherently more valuable? Everyone who isn’t in a coma contributes *something*. Without farmers, there would be no way to sustain our population, and yet they have some of the hardest jobs and are among those with the highest suicide rates. Every day, family farms go belly up because they can no longer compete.

    I also don’t believe in what Sanders said. That someone who works 40 hours a week should be able to afford food, rent and “basic necessities”. That’s what we have now, actually. That’s ALL they can afford. Meanwhile, those in positions we value more have jewels, high end cars, fancy things, vacations, savings for emergencies. THAT is the problem. At the end of the day, it’s the menial jobs we actually can’t live without. The guy collecting trash and the one at the sewage plant – those are the essential workers who should be getting rewarded handsomely for the shit their shoveling. The guy in the corner office is useless when it actually comes down to human survival.

    Industrialization and automation were supposed to make life easier on us all. In many countries that has been the case. But not in the US, where we insist that working 40 hours a week should be the norm. The entire gig economy and hustle culture has sprung up out of the fact that there aren’t enough jobs with enough hours to survive on. Something has to give. Better pay and fewer hours for EVERYONE should be the most obvious first step toward bringing equity to those on the bottom performing absolutely essential work for our survival as a species. Addressing consumption and throwaway culture needs to be the next step after that if we actually want to have a planet to live on in ten years.

  • It took a lot of intent, effort, and communication to get here, but using the principles of intentional community worked. So many people are looking for close friendships but don’t know you have to create them. It is work. Rewarding, but work. And that really gets to what Megan is trying to say here. In a hustle culture where we’re all too busy for meaningful interactions with each other, the push to funnel people’s problems off to the professionals rather than tackle them together is very alluring but ultimately leaves most of us feeling lonely, unsupported and disconnected. You have to be a friend first. And you may have to teach others how to be good friends by your example. But I firmly believe we all have the capacity to relearn how to love and care for each other. 🙂

  • “ Stealing from some people in order to keep others unemployed because they can’t find a “good” job only works if there are a lot more jobs than people seeking work or if you think that the people working are somehow morally deficient and thus need to be stolen from in order to provide charity for choosy job seekers.”

    I have no idea why you keep referring to wage equity as ‘stealing’ and ‘charity’. Or why you believe that paid employment is the only valid kind of work. This attitude culturally is part of the problem. My own household which includes four adults as well as children only has two wage earners. One of those makes SIX TIMES the pay for less than HALF of the hours the other wage earner makes, and the lower paid earner has an extremely physically demanding job Where yes he is exploited. One “unemployed” adult cares for the children and part of the home while I do the vast majority of literally everything else that has to be done around here, including cooking, cleaning, maintenance inside and outside, gardening, paying bills, sewing, fermenting, organizing, chauffeuring, liaising with all outside utilities and contractors, vehicle maintenance, backup childcare, etc. We are ALL busting our butts on a daily basis and we all split the take, more or less. There is no charity here. And there’s no reason this can’t work for others except that we’ve built up an incredibly selfish economic system with slogans like ”I built this” which allows the well off to complain about taxation while ignoring all the necessary but unseen work and infrastructure that makes their lifestyles possible. We’ve been propagandized to compete and compare instead of sharing in a more egalitarian way.

    If income sharing isn’t for you, I’m happy to see a resurgence of the labor movement and a revival of #wagesforhousework so that we can value all work fairly and not just that which is currently exchanged for money. There’s no reason for some people to work easy jobs for a lot, some to work hard jobs for a little, and some to bust their ass day in and day out for this kind of social stigma.

  • Well done, Megan! I always love your perspective and couldn’t agree more.

    As for therapy, all I can say is that the most valuable and helpful counsel I’ve ever received has been given for free from a place of genuine caring and love. It is supportive, non-pathologising, and most importantly, it is reciprocal, allowing me to be in the helper position at times. It takes practice to learn how to be careful with someone else’s vulnerability but it is ultimately empowering in a way that therapy will never be able to replicate. I will never sit across the couch from a paid therapist again.

  • Still lacking nuance. Unemployment is actually better for ones health than a bad job.


    “ Being in poor-quality work which, perhaps, is boring, routine or represents underemployment or a poor match for the employee’s skills is widely regarded as a good way for the unemployed to remain connected to the labour market – and to keep the work habit. But Butterworth’s data contradicts this. The HILDA data shows unambiguously that the psychosocial quality of bad jobs is worse than unemployment. Butterworth looked at those moving from unemployment into employment and found that:

    Those who moved into optimal jobs showed significant improvement in mental health compared to those who remained unemployed. Those respondents who moved into poor-quality jobs showed a significant worsening in their mental health compared to those who remained unemployed.

    So now we have a slightly different answer to the question about the unemployed being better off in work. Yes they are, as long as they are in good-quality jobs. If they are in bad jobs, there is a perversely strong chance that they will be worse off – especially in terms of their mental health.”


    Income sharing for those in lower paid positions to be supported by those with higher paid positions, as well as cutting out unnecessary positions, and reducing the workload for everyone are better answers than simply having any job that may be available.



  • Standard fare for those who jump down the psychiatric rabbit hole. Sadly, the vast majority learn the hard way by experience as most of us here have. Your story adds to a very large tome that continues its rapid growth unabated by any will of the political class or news media to change anything, power dynamics being what they are. Welcome to the club no one wants to be in. I wish you the best in your path to recovery.

  • Hey, just for the record, the idea that doctors are guided by taking the Hyppocratic Oath is a bit of an urban legend. That’s probably why that psychiatrist looked at you funny. We really aught to stop propagating this myth as it is part of why physicians are so revered, assumed to have such strong ethics. The truth is they are human with the same ethical foibles and tendencies as any other. They don’t, by and large, behave by any proscribed ethical standards beyond “cover thy ass with malpractice insurance”.


  • “What does the term “mass psychogenic illness” impart to a mind(s) trying to understand a speed of learning by which people are coming to know an evolving culture being challenged?”

    Thank you. This is exactly what I was going to address. I can’t help but think that the framing here of illness is an imposition of western cultural values rather than truly being open minded to learning from what another culture understands a behavioral phenomena to mean. We can’t understand until we ask rather than framing our understanding in a medical manner from the start. I think the researchers missed the mark. Anthropology isn’t, or isn’t supposed to be another form of colonization but this is clearly colonization of thought at the very least.

  • You have touched on an important concept here and that is that all of these individual issues have to be examined in the larger context in which they effect society. We have a piecemeal approach to fixing problems, as you showed with the suggestion of Klonopin to overcome the sleep disturbance from noise pollution. The airplane noise by itself might seem minor until you consider the tsunami of other issues effecting most of us. You have to be able to fit all of the issues into the larger puzzle of what is wrong with our culture and values to understand how to begin to approach fixes that will do more good than harm. Antidepressants and opioids (the current second and third most prescribed drugs in America) are NOT the answer – they are simply more ways big business have found to profit off the ills of a broken culture when the will of politicians and community leaders to address the underlying and pervasive problems is lacking.

  • Reality is the combination of an individual’s current and all former experiences. We do not experience life the same as those around us with a different collection of past experiences. This is why eyewitness testimony is so notoriously bad and why you can have a group of people who give wildly different accounts of what happened. Your own reality is subjective and unique to you, the subject, experiencing it.

    Also, “how things should be” is a judgment when actually how things are varies greatly between both cultures and generations.

    Reality is fungible. It’s imposed by those with power onto those with less power or none. The child labeled with adhd has a very different experience of reality than do the teachers, doctors and parents doing the labeling and, usually, drugging. Then the drug changes the reality of the child. Children most often experience this change negatively while the adults experience it positively. Whose “reality” matters more or is more real and valid?

  • It springs from the fact that the people who do the necessary work like farming and teaching and trash collection and nursing and grocery work – all of those “essential workers” – generally get paid lower wages while truly unnecessary work like most management positions get paid handsomely. Most of the work that benefits society is performed by women and minorities while most unnecessary work is performed by white men. The “professional class” is overpaid and overvalued while laboring for the good of society is devalued. Our traditional artisans are a dying class as well because capitalism has valued cheap mass produced products with built-in expected lifetimes so you’ll keep buying crap that breaks trapping people in regular consumption cycles.

    This argument isn’t about encouraging laziness, it’s about valuing those doing necessary work as well as valuing the environment by shunning consumption – both of which are baked into the greater plan to make as much profit as possible. Human kind would be better working in cooperation but capitalism, and the class system specifically, requires outright exploitation while constantly messaging that the people who get to the top did so because of hard work (meritocracy) while those working themselves to the bone usually can’t get ahead and are being hamstrung at every turn.

    Hey, can we talk about payday and title loans next? How about credit card interest or student loans? Let’s talk about how middle class stay at home moms get praise while poor moms are shamed as welfare queens and forced into the wage labor market…

    This has never been about people not wanting to work. Praising “work” as a nebulous concept is a way to keep those at the bottom down because that is what the capitalist class system requires. It requires those who’ve been lucky enough to be born in the right families (Money, education, connections) or to be able bodied and intelligent to judge those who aren’t as able to move up the class ladder. It’s intentional, it’s insidious, it’s pervasive, and changing things will require that those who are better off join the fight for those who aren’t to get a fair share. But asking people to give up some of their privilege, whether financial or otherwise, has proven to be folly. Because deep down, we all know the system is set up in such a way that it’s all too easy to lose your place and slip back down the ladder, which keeps people competing to get an ever bigger share.

  • Of course “work” and labor that benefits society are two very different things. It’s why we have highly paid mid level management jobs and have totally devalued “house” and “women’s” work. We have been very heavily propagandized, as evidence by the pushback in the comments here to what aught to be a very obvious concept. “Work” is a function of capitalist exploitation and fed by religious dogma.

  • “Marijuana is a drug that has negative effects.”

    Marijuana is a holdover term from the drug war. The plant is called cannabis. Cannabis CAN have negative effects. It can also have very positive effects, including helping those living with chronic pain to withdraw from long term opioid use, present company included. I was prescribed opioid pain relievers for over ten years. The resulting chronic constipation led to my prolapse and hysterectomy. This was a major surgery that had long term medical complications Including two follow up corrective surgeries. Using cannabis would have been (and has been) much better for me medically.

    I completely agree with you on smoking, though. There are better ways to ingest the drug that aren’t harmful to the lung tissues.

  • “I’ve seen people basically live off these drugs and have no unwanted effects. For many they do cause unwanted effects.”

    A big reason for this is because cannabis requires experimentation to figure out what proportion of THC and CBD works for the individual. When one has access to legal and, importantly, chemically tested forms of the drug, one is able to determine which ratio of cannabinoids produces the desired effect for the individual.

    I *always* reject untested (read: illicit) supplies of cannabis because I already know that higher percentages of THC produce undesirable effects. I’d rather go without pain relief and calming than experience the paranoia and depression that higher amounts of THC result in for me. But everyone is different and I personally know people who do not get sufficient pain relief from the same chemical makeup (strains) that work for me. Those people require higher amounts of THC and it does not result in “psychosis”. And this is why talking about “cannabis” as if all cannabis is the same thing is wrong and uneducated.

  • “A significant limitation of the study was its exclusion of gender identity in its analysis“

    It is appropriate to control for gender ideology when researching issues affecting the LGB (gay) community, since, in my observation, a vocal contingent of the transactivist community has criticized/shamed gay and lesbian people for rejecting lovers based on their sex organs. It is telling that the author still attempts to change the subject in the report from sexual orientation to include gender issues.

  • “ Limited longitudinal testing was done twice, 6 years apart, which confirmed previous findings, but only 4 participants were involved in these later tests.”

    Micah, this is not science. FOUR participants? This is propaganda.

    “Cannabis” is not a homogenous substance and research cannot identify “cannabis” as the subject. Research that does not control for cannabinoids levels is useless. The legal definition defining hemp from cannabis is that any plant with less than 1% THC is hemp and over that threshold is cannabis. I guarantee you that cannabis with less than 8-10% THC does NOT produce these effects despite producing a pleasant feeling for the user. The vast majority of cannabis products contain 20-30% and even higher amounts of THC. Additionally, strains with an equal or greater proportion of CBD to THC also will NOT produce these effects, even with relatively large amounts of THC as CBD modulates the effects of THC.

    It is extremely bad science and reporting to refer to cannabis in a generic sense without clearly indicating the dosage of various cannabinoids participants were exposed to.

    Thirdly, there is an implicit assumption here that western values regarding sanity and “psychosis” are both applicable and preferable to other cultures values. This study was produced in studying another culture but has taken the cannabis use and isolated it from all of the other aspects of that culture. It presumes that there is no benefit to “psychosis” in other cultural contexts such as identifying and training potential shamans. It reads like it’s straight from the European colonizer’s handbook.

    This report and the original “study” should both be retracted.

  • “If your intersectionality is not woman-centered, it is not feminism” – Ninotchka Rosca

    Sexuality, by which I can only assume you intended to say sexual orientation, is not a social construct – it is biologically hard-wired. Sex is also not a social construct – is a biological fact. Gender, race, class ARE social constructs and are therefore subject to deconstruction.

    It is all fine and good to acknowledge the social determinants of health. It’s another thing altogether to change the subject from fighting oppression to merely incorporating it into research. Science doesn’t give a damn about anyone’s identity and matching scientists with subjects based on personal identities is one of the most horrifying proposals I’ve ever heard. Science is driven by the careful pursuit of the scientific method and nothing else. We need science to stay far away from both liberalism AND conservatism or else we end up with scientism.

  • I need to point out as well that the “them and us” is not between actual autistic people and their high functioning peers abusing the label. The “them and us” is the false division promoted between higher functioning “on the spectrum” folks and the so-called “neurotypical” community. It is insulting to people like me to have very high functioning people referring to themselves as neurodiverse and suggesting they need special treatment that is otherwise unavailable to lower functioning people without the autism label. That’s where this label is doing vast amounts of harm. This is highjacking a medical label for special treatment for folks who now how to game the system. I won’t do that – it is unethical. But it is clear that a growing number of people realize that they will get the help that we all deserve when they apply this label to themselves. I am glad you pointed out that there are doctors and psychiatrists who see through the charade. It does anger me that MIA gave this blog a platform since it basically reads as a set of directions for unethical people to abuse systems of help designed for those in actual need. There are autistic people. I know some. They deserve better than to have what amount to crooks looking for special treatment highjacking their condition.

  • “Autism is an umbrella diagnosis at this point. There is a huge variation in presentations and symptoms that all fit into this one category.“

    Exactly. It has no meaning anymore. When you say you’re autistic, I understand it to be an identity that helps you cope with the world, but not a medical condition with any validity whatsoever.

    My daughter has been diagnosed “on the spectrum” as have two nephews. I would have been diagnosed as a child if girls had been so targeted in the 80s. I was also targeted for special education. I’ve always been different. I refuse to jump on the autism bandwagon. It’s no different from the bipolar bandwagon or the borderline bandwagon or the adult adhd bandwagon.

    We’ve all got demons we’re fighting. We’ve all got quirks. Neurodiversity applies to all of us, not a special group who seem to want special treatment because they happen to identify with a particular subjective label.

  • 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. https://hub.jhu.edu/2016/05/03/medical-errors-third-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. https://www.theregreview.org/2019/05/07/kaplan-21st-century-cures-act/

    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. https://youtu.be/STh4RRvbKLc

    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. https://answerswithjoe.com

    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. https://www.newsweek.com/over-2000-tennessee-children-test-positive-covid-2-weeks-schools-reopen-state-1526200

    Cases increase tenfold in eastern Idaho: https://www.idahostatejournal.com/coronavirus/since-june-eastern-idahos-covid-cases-increased-tenfold/article_0c66b5ef-08e2-5a4c-88e3-e0a8d4fa6587.html

    If COVID were a wildfire, GA would be Hell on earth: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/youre-most-likely-catch-covid-114209338.html

    Mom begs people to wear masks days before dying: https://people.com/health/texas-mom-tells-people-put-your-masks-on-before-dying-coronavirus/

    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.

  • I understand your son’s pain. Death would be a relief for me as well but the risk of forced psychiatry is too great, and that is this societies punishment for seeking to exit.

    Your eulogy to your son is beautiful and refreshing after the last several people I’ve known whose children have taken their own lives have said it was a relief they were gone. I know people grieve in their own ways but I can’t help but think my family would be very relieved by my final exit.

    Thank you for sharing this story and speaking out about the pain psychiatry inflicted on your son and how this kind of “treatment” is what is ultimately taking lives.

  • “As you know, Lieberman has slimed Bob as “a menace to society” for his excellent work on the dangers of the psychotropic drugs.”

    The saying “the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend” springs to mind. Leiberman’s tactics with Bob Whitaker do not invalidate his enforcement of the Goldwater Rule or validate Bandy Lee’s assertions about Trump. We can even agree that Leiberman is a bully without validating Bandy Lee.

    I don’t think anything about this piece proved anything whatsoever about the DSM framework. I wouldn’t even say that was within the scope of the subject of your article. If it was, I think it was misplaced. The two subjects aren’t related and disproving the validity of the DSM is and should be done on a scientific basis and not subject to popularity contests about who supports it or doesn’t.

    “it shows how he and his allies in the APA can get the NYT both to buy into his pseudoscience and his harassment of colleagues and to celebrate him as some kind of paragon of both integrity and wisdom”

    You know, I may be having an old folks moment here, and I think I have demonstrated a rather good grasp of the English language and reading comprehension, but I did NOT read this in what you wrote. This is conjecture, pure and simple. You can’t just say NYT won’t promote Bandy Lee’s smears against Trump and Leiberman is a bully, therefore NYT are celebrating Leiberman as a paragon of integrity and wisdom.

    I suspect most guilds have professional rules of conduct and ethics. I would be just as upset if a neurologist diagnosed Joe Biden with dementia without personally examining him (even though we can hopefully ALL see it). There may be no precedent for this in the field of neurology, but there may become one if neurologists start taking to Fox News morning talk shows to influence the 2020 campaign. See, this works both ways.

    There are a lot of reasons to dislike and actively work against Jeffrey Leiberman and Psychiatry as a whole – of course we agree it is a pseudoscience, and a deeply harmful societal institution. However, I believe you chose the wrong cause to champion with this piece. The scope of the article was not narrow enough and is largely emotion rather than logic or reason based.

    I think one thing this article demonstrated very well is how extraordinarily difficult it is to remain objective and unbiased when the stakes are so high. I think most of us here in the comments can agree Trump is a slow moving train wreck and Leiberman (and many of his predecessors like Allen Francis, Thomas Insel, etc) have done extraordinary damage to society with the defamatory DSM. It makes arguing in their favor all the more difficult. But it’s incumbent upon reputable journalists such as yourself and Bob Whitaker to “stick to the facts, ma’am” – a phrase so many of us current and former patients have had drilled into our skulls by the psy-professions.

    I’ll exit with a quote from Ivanka Trump. “Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true.” With Psychiatry, Leiberman AND Bandy Lee, this is really what we’re up against.

  • You keep referring to the book when we are discussing their lack of ability to promote their book in The Times. The book was a bestseller on pre-order before it was even published. It has not been banned. Folks who are inclined to read it will, I’m sure. So I think to continue to refer to the book as if it were the main topic of this discussion is, again, disingenuous.

    What is being objected to is the use of a national news platform to promote their basic premise that Trump is dangerous – and using their positions as psychiatrists and self-described mental health ‘experts’ to do so. It is the appeal to their authority that they have been stopped from promoting, and rightly so.

    As for whether individuals have or are lacking personal agency, I would simply like to refer you to the massive increase in calls to poison control lines, and the number of deaths that have occurred from Trump’s suggestion that doctors try injecting disinfectants in patients to “see what happens”. The term ‘low information voter’ exists for a reason. 80% of news readers read the headline only. Those of us here having a robust debate about this are not the majority of the electorate.

    I don’t even read NYT – we can agree that it’s a corrupt institution. Most folks my age and under get their news from alternative sources already as we are aware of the wide scale corruption of the mainstream news media. Trump’s cries of “fake news” wouldn’t be nearly as effective if there weren’t a large degree of truth behind it. Trump exploits the systemic issues that were already there. He didn’t create them. Focusing on him as some clear and present danger is a large part of why we haven’t and seemingly can’t make any progress on the underlying and massive systemic oppression taking America down. The world was still burning under No Drama Obama. So, no, I’m not going to be sidetracked by fearmongering about Trump.

  • Fois gras, gestation crates, debeaking.

    Cows are stunned with a bolt between their eyes before being hung and having their throats cut. Thankfully, you don’t have to think about how your food was raised and killed, you can just buy ground beef at the grocery store in a convenient package for dinner.

    Humans possess a remarkable amount of cognitive dissonance. That we behave in these ways toward other humans as a matter of routine course is nothing new. If human (and civil) rights were obvious to everyone, we’d all have them.

  • I find this comment disingenuous. The American public are swayed by the news they absorb. They are swayed by the advertisements they see. If these avenues did not have an effect onthe vote, politicians (and companies) wouldn’t spend so much time trying to get press and publicity.

    Companies like Nielsen exist for the sole purpose of measuring what consumers have been exposed to, with algorithms developed to correlate consumer spending or other habits with such exposure. A great deal of effort is spent – billions and billions of dollars and much labor, in the attempt to predict and capitalize upon influencing consumer behavior, including their votes.

    To suggest that Bandy Lee, et al were not attempting to capitalize upon their credentials to influence the electorate is at best deliberately obtuse and at worst wholly ignorant. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if her book had been titled “27 Plumbers and Sanitation Experts Assess the President”.

    The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Asses the President is a book of slander intended to spread fear among the electorate because fear is a very powerful way of causing people to act – it’s the manipulators main weapon. It’s shameful and the basest form of political theatre. The authors should be facing inquiries from their state licensing boards, not whining that they’ve been prevented from writing in The Times. Maybe Barnes and Noble will have them for a book reading…

  • Sounds like how many young boys try out the scientific method…

    GWB was at least smart enough to not stick fireworks up his own bum. But for a good time, there are videos on Youtube as well as a What Could Go Wrong? subReddit for the folks that were not smart enough to blow up frogs. Some did indeed blow up their own derrière.

  • I certainly appreciate the efforts of activist psychiatrists fighting the system from within. Whistleblowers should largely be revered. What those doctors are doing – exposing corruption from within – is wholly different from what these psychiatrists are doing, which is using their professional status to influence the electorate.

    However, I still have no respect for any of their (Breggin’s, Moncrief’s) opinions about Donald Trump that are based on their professional expertise. I weigh all information presented based on its merits, not on the professional credentials of the presenters. I am, always have been and always will be an antiauthoritarian. I’m not sure why so many people let their own brains drip out of their ears and bow to the “knowledge” of experts. All I can say is that people give and receive bad advise and ignorant opinions all the time and one must be able to think for oneself – it’s quite possibly the most crucial skill a person can ever develop. You start by asking yourself “What do I believe?” And then you relentlessly pursue the answer to that question to your dying breath.

  • I do think we largely agree on many points. We’ll have to agree to disagree on the subject of COVID-19.

    For the record, I’m NOT a Democrat, nor a “progressive”. I’m a Libertarian Socialist (Left Libertarian on the Political Compass – politicalcompass.com), and an anarchist (theanarchistlibrary.org). My views are generally in line with Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Emma Goldman, and Chris Hedges.

  • With all due respect, Bob, I think you erroneously conflate public debate with a group of professionals attempting to use their professional position to influence the electorate.

    The public debate has raged on in social media platforms and living rooms and debate halls and college classrooms ever since Trump threw his hat in the ring for President. The public has not been silenced. What is being silenced, rightly in my opinion, is a group of professionals with a political agenda who’ve been told they can’t use their professional positions to influence politics. I agree with this wholeheartedly. I am sorry that it seems that I support the tactics of Lieberman, et al. But in this case, I believe that it is the right thing to suppress a group of individuals from being given a national platform to promote an opinion of Trump’s fitness for office, or lack thereof, using again, their professional positions to create an air of legitimacy regarding those personal opinions.

    As has been noted in the article, Lee has not been silenced in using Twitter to promote her personal opinion of the president. But the news media, as the unfortunately woefully uneducated public believes, is supposed to disseminate unbiased facts to educate the public. Unfortunately, there is already WAY too much in the way of opinion pieces treated as factual news.

    As I said privately to a friend, you don’t side with one set of tyrants over another and call it justice. Bandy Lee has not been suppressed from disseminating her personal opinion. She has now published two books on the topic and has a large Twitter following. The public debate rages on. Her professional opinion is irrelevant and the Times is correct to not give her a platform to promote what amounts to libelous opinion about Trump’s mental fitness. How about instead of demanding she be given equal time, we instead simply criticize the Times for publishing Leiberman’s opinion that Trump is a jerk? This is also not news.

  • I also feel obliged to point out the elephant in the room and that is that any reasoned discussion of ethics – which is the domain of philosophy, not psychiatry – would immediately dismiss the appeal to expertise (authority) on the grounds that it is a logical fallacy. The arguments need to be made on the basis of their merit and not because a set of “experts” told you so.

  • A personal opinion is different from giving someone a national platform based on their professional expertise. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. We aren’t all entitled to a national news platform amplifying that opinion. Psychiatry remains a pseudoscience and amplifying the voices of some psychiatrists because it fits in with a particular agenda is still wrong.

  • Let me clarify my position. The DNC, in collusion with the large media outlets like NYT and WaPo, promoted the “pied piper” candidate in 2016 in order to attempt to guarantee Clinton’s win in the general election. Their attempts to promote Trump as the Republican candidate the Democratic nominee would face was based on the belief that there was no way Trump could win. They also tipped the scales in favor of Clinton during the primary and admitted in the DNC lawsuit (which was brought in Federal Court in Florida) that they felt no obligation to elect the candidate with the most votes in the primary, thus perpetuating the harms of the electoral college and superdelegates.

    Unfortunately, due to the nature of the US Election system with it’s combination of decades of gerrymandering and it’s electoral college, we ended up in a situation where the two most unpopular presidential candidates in history faced off against each other and despite Clinton having 3 million more votes, Trump won the election. This is an indictment of the dysfunction in the US electoral system, and not a suggestion that either candidate was fit for office.

    As for COVID-19, I think the evidence is fairly robust that we are dealing with a unique situation that is wholly unlike the seasonal flu. I think Dr Fauci has done a remarkable job of promoting the known risks and that social distancing and shutdown measures have indeed worked to flatten the curve. My criticism is of Congress doing nothing to protect the American people from the devastating effects of poverty in the face of a severe economic collapse. We already knew that the majority of Americans could not afford a $400 emergency. Now there are millions out of work, tens of thousands facing eviction, looming food shortages, and seemingly no political will to do more than prop up corporations – the exact failed response of the 2008 bailouts. These failures are across the political spectrum and occurring in CONGRESS. Our president is not a king, nor a dictator, by any reasonable definition. We must hold CONGRESS to account for this inaction.

  • Hey Bob, this isn’t the first time we’ve disagreed about Trump. May not be the last. And we’re probably never going to get beyond an agreement to disagree.

    I think Steve made a very good point in that there is no objective measure (beyond the crimes already discussed) to prove one way or the other, this supposed dangerousness of Trump.

    I do indeed believe that psychiatrists should NOT be allowed to weigh in on anything when they’re using their supposed psychiatric expertise, which many of us commenters have for years rightly called a pseudoscience. The ethics of psychiatry itself are fundamentally flawed. The rigors of the “science” are a joke. This article and indeed, Bandy Lee, have offered little more than conjecture and supposition about why they were silenced. The Goldwater Rule is there for a reason and it’s protection of public figures aside, it also protects the rest of us from armchair psychiatry. Suggesting that it should be altered or stricken is for convenience to remove Trump at the peril of the rest of us.

    We could have a robust debate over the actual dangerous acts by beloved presidents that have severely damaged the United States and its citizenry. We could discuss the enormous social and environmental toll of Bush’s wars. We could discuss Biden’s career-long racist agenda that culminated with the 1994 Crime Bill. Let’s talk about the trauma of the millions of black children whose fathers have been incarcerated over small amounts of drugs or three strikes rules. Let’s talk about the last form of legalized slavery, which keeps the private prison industrial complex so profitable. Let’s talk about the children and families plunged into abject poverty by Clinton’s Welfare Reform. Let’s talk about Wall Street running away with greater and greater shares of the American economy while millions are lined up in bread lines right now. Let’s talk about how people are desperate to reopen the economy because there is no political will to institute a more socialized (and humane) distribution of the American Pie. Let’s talk about the ritualistic dumbing down of the American Public School System. Let’s talk about our faux meritocracy and constant competition between the classes perpetuated by nearly ALL across the political spectrum.

    Frankly, if Trump’s followers are stupid enough to drink/inject bleach after his idiotic press conference, can we but hope they will win a Darwin Award and take themselves out before reproducing?

    I am an unapologetic antipsychiatry activist. I do not recognize the expertise this group of psychiatrists present nor do I care if they get a professional platform on the New York Times – a rag so in bed with the CIA and American Government, and that so strongly suppresses the voices of the actual Left in this country that they shouldn’t be given the time of day. This would be the same NYT that published Judith Miller’s false accounts of Weapons of Mass Destruction that convinced the American public to support the Iraq War – a national crime that every president since has continued and that no one has yet been held accountable for.

  • The Goldwater Rule is not the problem. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to criticize Donald Trump on his supposed dangerousness. Donald Trump has committed crimes in office that would get an ordinary man arrested. His crimes include incitement to violence at his rallies and against journalists, encouraging citizens to break public quarantine orders they disagree with, repeatedly lying during presidential addresses, repeatedly violating the emoluments clause, and many more actionable offenses.

    Donald Trump is narcissistic but he is not crazy and this is not a version of “dangerousness” that should ever become precedent in removing someone from office. Try him for the crimes he’s committed.

    Remember once upon a time when Mad In America published articles criticizing the biases and inconsistencies in violence prediction? Remember when Mad In America rejected the narrative myth of the violent mental patient? Now we’re supposed to embrace two violence prediction “experts” because it fits the narrative against a man we don’t like?

    This is low, MIA. Donald Trump is a criminal. Demand that your leaders follow the law and try him for his crimes. Please don’t support the setting of bad precedent for convenience.

    And please remember that our choices in the 2020 election now boil down to President Pussygrabber and Former Vice President Just a Little Rapey. I believe Tara Reade. I voted for Bernie Sanders. I will never vote for Trump or Biden. The DNC did this.

  • I found this article to be one of the clearest written to date about why we should all be wearing masks – to protect others. Maybe you will find it helpful in understanding this issue as well.


    Of course, your underwear does not stop a fart, it does however offer some protection to your outerwear from a shart. Likewise, with masks and COVID-19, we’re not talking about stopping microtized vapors but rather liquid droplets. Hopefully, you can see the association between these a little more clearly now.

  • I’m compelled to comment because both the article and the comments are misleading. The idea that the body (and hence the brain) needs adequate nutrition to function aught to be patently obvious to all. The criticisms of processed food are absolutely legitimate. Those who can afford the time and money to shop the perimeter of their grocery stores are privileged, full stop.

    The problem is not that people don’t know how to eat properly but that processed foods are largely made from heavily subsidized cheap cereals, grains and sugars. Large swaths of Americans can neither afford the money nor time it takes to prepare nutritious meals at home. The American Academy of Dietician’s All Foods Fit approach is utter horse shit meant to make people feel better about their lack of choices when it comes to nutrition. It follows the same nonsensical line of thinking as the “Healthy at every size” movement, which is similarly about making people feel better about unhealthy body size, and the lengthy list of diseases and drugs required to treat them, that go along with obesity.

    It’s a bit of a cruel joke that the current epidemic is hitting exactly the populations that can least afford to change their lifestyle factors that would massively increase their overall health – including their mental functioning. Obesity appears to be the greatest risk factor to those under 50.

    We need to stop reassuring people that their poor diets are sufficient, stop telling them they’re going to be fine with just sufficient calories, and get them fired up and angry at how US Government politicians and agencies, and the revolving door of corporate influence heading these agencies, have royally screwed them, from cheap crop subsidies to dairy/meat industry subsidies to SNAP benefits to food pyramids. We absolutely DO know how to help folks improve their health, we DO know it begins with nutrition and that nutrition effects every cellular process in the body, and we know what happens when cells aren’t adequately nourished. We’ve got very robust, long-term data from the China Study, The Cornish Study, The Nurse’s Study, etc, that show over and over again that processed foods are bad (in particular ultra-processed foods) and that a whole foods plant based diet with minimal animal products and a great deal of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds vastly improves health.

    This is very much a political issue and neither harping on people about what they SHOULD be eating, not reassuring those who can’t that they’ll be just fine anyway is the way to fix these problems. Like most issues with American life, these are systemic issues that will take POLITICAL ACTION to fix.

    Beyond all of that, the water, energy and oil it takes to create all the processed crap Americans eat is directly contributing to climate change. The American lifestyle is not just killing us, it’s killing the planet. It’s time we have a political discussion that doesn’t aim to make anyone feel better emotionally, but instead aims to repair the harms we’re doing to ourselves and to our home. There is no Planet B and the body you have is the only one you’re going to get. It’s time to truly care for both and address the underlying factors destroying both.

  • I completely agree that this is very prevalent on social media. I called it ‘positivity bullying’ and it’s one reason I don’t operate in those spaces.

    However, when someone is describing in detail how desperate their situation really is, you offer them concrete help – the kind of help you wish someone might have offered you once upon a time – and they refuse because it doesn’t come in the exact form they envision, you have to wonder if homelessness and starvation are better options for them? In that case, I choose to remove myself from the drama go round because that is all I can control and remaining engaged in that dynamic causes me harm.

    I DO think there is some use to telling people to try to let go of the things they can’t control. But I can’t imagine saying that in the context of job loss, hunger and homelessness. I think this is best saved for interpersonal dynamics. Context matters.

  • I decided to revisit this after having a gander through my genome. I have only one SNP associated with the development of PTSD, and at that only one allele, conferring but a “mildly increased risk of PTSD”. This confirms to me that one’s actual environment plays a much greater role in one’s mental responses than one’s genome does.

    While I find genetics and epigenetics in particular fascinating, it sure seem like we’re barking up the wrong tree by trying to identify vulnerable genes rather than trying to identify and eliminate traumatic circumstances.

  • I agree with this, Madmom. This scenario is a perfect illustration for why a UBI is necessary. I still believe that it should be means tested and that upper income bracket folks should NOT receive it. But it just boggles my mind that the right wingers are determined to reopen the country because saving the “economy” is more important than saving lives. A true UBI at this time would eliminate these issues.

    We need not just a UBI but for housing to be a human right and Medical care, not insurance, for all. Our current economic system is immoral – sustained on the backs of the poor, the incarcerated and other marginalized and oppressed groups for the benefit of the rich. It pits the classes against each other as the poor are clawing for scraps and the middle class is desperately trying to maintain what little wealth it has managed to accumulate, but slowly slipping further down. It’s sustained on brutal competition and judgements of who is worthy and who isn’t.

  • “But the lessons need to go a good deal further. There is a danger of “individualising” a crisis as well as a person’s reactions to it, even though all the evidence suggests that COVID-19 is not just a random disaster. It has been predicted for years, based on the known impact of destruction of animal habitats, which increases the likelihood of viruses being transmitted to humans. This environmental destruction is, in turn, a consequence of the exploitation of the natural world driven by the demands of industrialisation. Truly, the planet is fighting back. One day, unless we take drastic collective action to change the whole economic and value base of our Western industrialised way of life, there will be a virus we cannot beat.”

    Thank you. It’s important to keep making the connections between human behavior and natural disasters, and to keep pointing out why so many of us recognize this as the existential threat it is.

  • What utter horseshit. Yes, people want to do meaningful work which is why SO MANY are disillusioned with their pointless jobs. And it turns out the jobs that really do matter pay shit and we look down on those people.

    Of course there’s going to be a mental health fallout from mass unemployment because we all basically know there’s nothing and no one left to catch you. That lack of a safety net started with Clinton’s “welfare reform” and it continues through now to these constant messages about this nebulous concept called “work” which we have defined in this country to really mean hustling for scraps for anyone who finds themselves at the lower eschelons of society.

    My daughter is very happy to be home taking care of her baby instead of continuing to slave away at Waffle House for a pittance. What she’s not happy about is the whole underclass of people like her who have been virtually forgotten in all the complaining about how terrible it is for the middle class to be stuck at home working remotely in secure jobs that will provide unemployment benefits if they are lost. Fuck the maids and waitresses and janitors and Uber drivers and long term temp workers in factories and undocumented planting and picking the fields. Some of us are worried about the cost of basic necessities going up. Others are worried about starving and evictions.

    When we talk about mental health disparities and effects of unemployment, let’s be clear that some people have EVERYTHING to lose. Shame on and how dare those with privileged positions talk about how what’s really wrong is that people actually want to be doing these shitty jobs for shitty pay and stigma of being considered “uneducated”.

    What this crisis SHOULD be teaching us is the incredible service that SERVICE WORKERS contribute to society and how deeply shameful it should be that they often live in abject poverty with very little security. And then when life becomes too much, we call them mental ill. It makes me sick to my stomach. SHAME ON THIS CULTURE!!!!

    How wonderful it would be if our grocery workers and delivery workers and Amazon warehouse workers were to walk out en masse until they received their rightful share of the damn pie….

  • 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…

  • I think there’s still a lot of static on my channel but you’ve clearly got a better signal. 🙂

    “From a spiritual perspective, healing happens through the heart. I believe the idea of a higher power is to have a foundational focus of Faith, which can inspire the feeling of love. When we feel love, our hearts are open and expansive, and this creates an entirely different self-perception and experience of life than when our hearts are constricted from chronic fear and hopelessness.”

    Keep preaching, Alex! The world needs more of this.

  • Better yet, how can we dismantle the “mental” healthcare system entirely and instead focus our efforts to ending all of the negative SDOH that drive the majority of psychosocial distress? Then we could refocus those “mental health care” dollars to curing the diseases that contribute to poor emotional wellbeing, like Lyme disease. The overlap between Lyme endemic areas of the US is identical with the geographic distribution of schizophrenia and this has been known by researchers since 1994.

    When will the medical community return to curing physical illnesses? As importantly, when will our politicians care about those without deep pockets?

    This is a farce and trying to make a form of social control more culturally diverse is akin to sticking lipstick on a pig and calling it Sarah Palin.

  • “They determine that exploration which leans on the interconnections of “mind, body, and society” and interdependence of “mental, medical, and social health” is needed in order to expand the field’s ability to meet the needs of individuals requiring relational care to effectively and humanely relieve suffering.”

    Thank you for this article, Hannah. Lovely job, especially at the end. ‘Relational care’, also sometimes referred to as ‘spiritual care’ was what Jesus practiced and preached, and is also a familiar concept in Judaism. I think a major challenge of an increasingly secular society is learning how to provide this kind of care for each other. (Can we learn to care for each other absent religious dogma and judgment?)

    I think it’s also highly telling that the only presidential candidate preaching this message of love and caring for each other – Marianne Williamson – has been roundly criticized in the mainstream media as “nutty”, “kooky” and similar derogatory descriptors. I find myself increasingly on the side of Dr Breggin’s Team Love. To love and be loved is what it’s all about. Everything else is window dressing. But how do we bring this into mainstream consciousness? That’s where I despair.

  • Excellent follow up and acknowledgment about the perils of using the term ‘psychiatry’, as well as the harms inherent in the current system of “help”.

    “Help” is definitely needed. I think people get caught up in thinking there is an either/or. If we don’t want psychiatry then we must be denying the need for “help”, which couldn’t be further from the truth – speaking only for myself, of course.

  • Great blog, Dr K. I abandoned religious faith almost two decades ago, so I didn’t take any offense from your criticisms and comparisons.

    I agree completely that psychiatry is structured like a religion – with faith in the drugs and doctors being the core tenet of its belief system. The individual diagnoses are, to me, simply another manifestation of The Devil (borrowing from Christianity) or “bad” demons/spirits. Psychiatry also requires faith, of course, because it’s beliefs of “chemical imbalances” and “genetic diseases” continue to be disproven or else responsible for only a tiny fraction of what is euphemistically called “mental illness”.

    I have opened my heart to the concept of spirituality and the interconnected nature of all living things, which is a giant leap into the unknown for me. I call this energy Gaia – the great primordial mother – but I struggle to envision this as a conscious being and instead see it as an energy flowing through and connecting all living things.

    I still get a giggle out of the term ‘sky daddy’ in reference to the Judeo-Christian concept of God. The God of the Bible is such a vicious, vengeful, frankly immature “toddler” like being that I can’t bring myself to respect it all as a concept, much less a “loving father”. Any half functioning adult human aught to be able to behave better than that so I just can’t give it any creed.

    Thanks for this article. It seems to still take some bravery to criticize religion as from the comments, I can see that even some outspoken people take offense at their deeply held beliefs being challenged. I appreciate that MIA published this anyway. Good one, Dr K!

  • Thank, Will. There is a lot of wisdom in this article. I especially liked these parts:

    “Instead, at each step remember your truth and trust and love yourself, knowing you are doing the best you can. You got mistreated, you are trying to heal and live in the world and be a responsible person to yourself. That’s enough.“


    “Be absolutely uncompromising that the people close to you must love and support you…”

    Honestly, if the people close to you don’t love and support you, stop everything else and fix that first.

  • The problem in a super competitive society like ours is that people take great pride in winning. Just look at Trump or the First Lady’s ‘Be Best’ motto. There’s no good in winning if you’re the only person on the dais celebrating.

    When you’ve been through hell, there’s nothing wrong with being proud of emerging intact on the other side. But if you’re not reaching back in to pull others out behind you, then your accomplishment eventually rings hollow as it was entirely self-serving. Unfortunately, cooperation and seeking a collective purpose is not heavily emphasized in this culture.

    Pride can be fuel for doing good, or it can be a stepping stone to vanity.

  • My understanding is that loneliness is actually much worse among Millennials than any other generation. Specifically, the number of Millennials who report having ZERO friends is more than double that of seniors. Although the problem may be compounded for seniors by isolation, which isn’t quite the same issue. There have been stories about renting units in senior housing to younger people that commit to socializing with the older residents and I’m sure there are other ways to address senior isolation. Maybe programs should aim to address both issues of senior and millennial loneliness by creating more opportunities for intergenerational socializing and friendships to form.


  • Very well put, Darby.

    It’s unfortunate that truly peer-run organizations outside of mainstream mental health struggle so much with funding.

    The current psychiatric system is run a bit like the civil rights movement. POC have only gotten the rights white people have given, and attempts to organize from Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter are heavily suppressed.

    My conclusion? One never gains one’s freedom and human rights by working nicely under one’s oppressor.

  • I find the microbiome – mind-gut-axis – approach much more realistic. It also explains why ptsd is so hard to export to other cultures after natural disasters. One thing Westerners, Americans in particular, share is a similar microbiome. So similar, in fact, that immigrants begin to lose their native bacterial loads almost immediately upon arrival even when they keep their traditional diet.

    A new study backs up the notion that PTSD is correlated with changes in gut bacteria that effect the brains ability to recover from traumatic experiences. I’ve really had enough of the mindfulness angle. It’s essentially gaslighting to continue with the “change your mind, change your life” narrative.


  • My grandfather had Parkinson’s. I’m very familiar with the disease and recognized my own symptoms even in a state of severe cognitive decline.

    My grandfather’s case was idiopathic and due to exposure to agricultural strength pesticides. He supplemented his income as a musician by being a seasonal farm worker.

    Thankfully, we know what his exposure was as well as he’s from my moms side with no history of “mental illness” or “bipolar”.

    My father is the only person that brings a supposed history of “bipolar” which he wasn’t diagnosed with until after he started Prozac off label for weight control in 1988.

    NIH researchers tried very hard to recruit me for a study on Parkinson’s back around 2006. I eventually decided not to participate in the study due to how many psych drugs I was taking which I knew would confound results. The recruiters actually became quite hostile when I dropped out. Now I know why. I was the perfect guinea pig for their mad science!

    PD is caused by a lack of dopamine – exactly the conditions neuroleptic drugs create. They might as well have entitled their study “Inducing Parkinson’s by Drugging the Crazies!” They know exactly what they’re doing!

  • I also think the headline should read ‘People Treated for Bipolar Disorder at Increased Risk for Parkinson’s’. Because the researchers refuse to control for medication use, and because they assume virtually 100% of participants are taking these drugs, there absolutely has NOT been a correlation established between “bipolar disorder“ and Parkinson’s Disease, but it does in fact reinforce previous studies that have implicated these and other drugs in causing Parkinsonism. But don’t worry, we HAVE to poison the “mentally ill” for their own good. Meanwhile the sheep line up for slaughter calling for ever more of this mind-liberating “treatment”.

    A shot gun would be preferable to any more of that slow death.

  • “The researchers write that their results may also be due to the use of lithium, antipsychotics, and antiepileptics since they found it “particularly difficult” to exclude these confounds. They did not attempt to control for the use of these drugs, because they consider them “foundational” aspects of treatment. They assumed that every participant was taking at least one type of these drugs.”

    It’s hard to read this without feeling enraged. I developed Parkinsonism after taking Latuda. I started recovering pretty much immediately upon cessation and made significant progress even before the Lyme treatment. Thirty days of doxycycline combined with cessation of psychiatric neurotoxins have come close to restoring my previous level of cognitive and neurological functioning. These monsters at NIH would have let me continue to deteriorate and called it bipolar and PD. My heart aches for all the people in these studies who are allowed to continue to decline cognitively and having it blamed on the diseases of bipolar and PD. This is government sponsored propaganda against labeled and thus marginalized populations. It seems to still be perfectly okay to conduct these unethical experiments on anyone stigmatized as “crazy”, “mad”, “mentally ill”, etc.

    NIH researchers also misdiagnosed my mother with Sjogren’s Syndrome when she in fact had Lyme disease. Her results (likely combined with many others misdiagnosed and mistreated) confound study results and lead to continued mistreatment in the medical care system.

    Disgusting! Unethical! Barbaric! These are just a few of the words that come to mind about this study and these researchers, and frankly NIH researchers on the whole, given the history. It’s still seemingly staffed by Nazis and eugenics is alive and well.

  • It is not lost on me that the response is calls for more mental healthcare. I wonder how many black parents would agree to mental healthcare for their children if they knew of the systemic racism in the medical system and that their children are disproportionately more likely to be diagnosed with SMI and heavily medicated.

    In fact, this must leave any thinking person wondering how many of these black youth suicides are due to drug reactions and self-stigma from these diagnoses…

  • The real problem with all of these blogs about the social determinants of health and psychiatry is that the authors don’t seem to get the fundamental conflict between the two. Psychologists and social workers are in a perfect position to deal with social and cultural issues. Psychiatry is the medical discipline that treats the individual for illnesses it’s own bible has placed within the individual. If psychiatry were actually concerned with medical causes of extreme states, it would be looking at the body, not observing, judging and labeling behavior. DSM 5 doesn’t even require an interview with the patient!

    The notion that the medical discipline of psychiatry can reform itself to be concerned with SDOH would be laughable if not for the apparent sincerity of the few pushing for this.

    So again, if the cause isn’t medical but rather social and cultural, why would we expect DOCTORS to treat it. This is as absurd as expecting police to deal with domestic issues. Cops train to dispense threats with lethal force. Doctors train to treat medical illnesses. Therefore expecting doctors to act like social workers is as stupid as expecting cops to act like social workers.

    It’s time to end psychiatry as we know it to be a pseudoscience masquerading as medicine and compounding people’s problems by trying to address social issues by adjusting neurotransmitters. What on earth is there to reform or save? And why isn’t there instead a push to return these problems of living to the domain of those who train to understand human social dynamics?

  • Julie, I spent a lot of time in detention. I’m very proud of that now. I stood up for something – for myself and others.

    When I was attacked and hit in the head by two boys the day I returned to school after major head surgery, not only did the teacher not care about punishing the boys that attacked me, I got punished with detention for cursing while describing what they did to me. The lesson learned of course is that it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters what you can get away with – not exactly the ethical lesson the adults should be aiming for… But it’s the one they’re teaching kids nonetheless. Adults are the reason bullying is still so pervasive in schools. It’s the adult hierarchy the children are learning and emulating.

  • If psychiatry actually looked for medical issues with the patient, it would be finding a lot of Lyme Disease and a lot of Syphilis – sadly, our lack of screening for Syphilis, an easily treatable antiquated disease, has led to a spike in newborn Syphilis cases! And despite its known neuropsychiatric complications, the latest draft guidelines out of the IDSA recommends against testing psychiatric patients for Lyme Disease. Gotta protect the long term pharmaceutical profits at all costs.

  • Cannabis sativa (marijuana is a slur leftover from reefer madness) is not actually a single uniform substance. Some cannabis has no THC, such as what is termed ‘industrial hemp’. Cannabis in retail stores have many different properties. Some strains have little to no THC while having greater amounts of other cannabinoids and terpenes – each of which produces unique effects in the body. Much of what is available in legal (medical and especially recreational) stores however has very high amounts of THC and almost no detectable amounts of other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes. When speaking about cannabis, marijuana or weed, one needs to be very clear about the properties of the specific product one is using. Leaving this information out of the discussion means we’re not necessarily talking about the same substance. Unfortunately, this level of education about the plant is not yet well disseminated and so people read (and repeat) misleading headlines like “marijuana causes psychosis” (or laziness) and don’t know that other strains with different chemical compositions actually treat psychosis (or can be stimulating).

  • The lack of patient representation is also a major issue in other disciplines that psychopathologize its patients such as the professional medical Lyme Disease community does. MyLymeData is a patient led and focused initiative to gather data directly from those with lived experience of Lyme Disease/TBD. I think a similar type of initiative will be necessary to change the discussion about “mental illness”.

    One thing to note about the groups of people that have extricated themselves (at least to some extent) from psychiatric pathologizing is that they formed mass campaigns to normalize gayness and feminism. That’s going to be harder for those who embrace the term “madness” and admit to experiencing altered states since that notion strikes fear into the population at large.

    Truthdig – a far left alternative news publication – just today published a hit piece on the “mentally ill”, homelessness, and the need to bring back institutions. The only thing this article proves is that psychiatric propaganda has no left or right bias. The Right wants to lock us up out of fear. The Left wants to lock us up in the name of social justice.

    I actually welcome the dire headlines about the massive increase in “mental illness”. They can’t target all of us. There is strength in numbers. That was the real winning tactic for those other groups too.

  • I appreciate the professor’s perspective on DID as a cultural epidemic as opposed to a legitimate illness or affliction, and especially how the expectations of our families, friends, and providers shape our individual experience of a particular diagnosis. If we could only get the well-meaning helpers to understand that their beliefs about these diagnoses actually help shape the experiences of their loved ones, so that they would stop labeling them with such nonsense and instead help them heal as whole individuals, that would be transformative for so many traumatized people who have been led to believe these constructs are real.

    As for the DSM, it’s harmful to EVERYONE, not just Americans or westerners. The issue isn’t that it’s not culturally sensitive to indigenous peoples, it’s a steaming pile of horse shit that’s harmful to all it’s applied to.

    Lastly, speaking of “American” culture as if there is such a thing – like we’re not a young country with many overlapping and competing cultures, is rather ignorant.

  • “Who wouldn’t fall apart after surviving that horror show of a childhood?”

    Too close to home for me. Sounds way too much like my own father and the insanity I and my sisters grew up with.

    One of the hardest things about surviving such horrors is learning to forgive yourself for the effects of what others have done to you.

  • Hear, hear!

    I’m a huge fan of Summerhill, and of the current “Wild and Free” movement in childraising and homeschooling.

    However, it’s all just another symptom of the dysfunction of capitalism. All it needs is obedient workers. It surely doesn’t want you to think or question or protest. School is the method used to prepare the population en masse to accept the exploitative labor practices they will be subjected to under the rule of the top .01%.

    In addition to that, school is also where American patriotism is force fed to young children so they will be conditioned to accept the massive war state and it’s attendant costs to the taxpayer going largely to private military contractors.

    School (whether public or private) is very, very important to the continued running of the system.

  • Teaching mindfulness in school as an approach to emotional distress caused by environmental factors such as poverty and family dysfunction has got to be the most utterly shameful, do-nothing approach that I’ve ever heard and the fact that it’s gaining steam is mind-boggling.

    The term McMindfulness has been used to describe the mindfulness trend and it seem appropriate here. It’s difficult to read the promotion of yet another method of changing the distressed child instead of fighting back against the causes of psychosocial distress. School is a major source of distress for many children. And the adults are clearly aware of contributing stressors such as poverty, hunger, housing insecurity, family violence, and community discord, so the response to merely teach children coping skills is rather disheartening. I have to wonder why, when reporting on such plans, there isn’t more of an effort made to point out the flaws of these bandaid solutions and demand better for our kids.

  • “Our work is to lay a foundation around the person that’s sufficiently solid for them to continue making progress psychologically.””

    This is the only kind of reform I can get behind and it’s exactly what I’ve been saying we need in terms of human support. It’s what psychiatry should be, it’s what child protection should be, it’s frankly what our justice system should be aiming for. Our society right now is about fear and control and punishment. It needs to be about caring and cooperation and camaraderie. We’re all in this shit show together, after all.

  • “For many, good, quality therapy could even be a tool for escaping long term medication use.”

    I would never suggest this connection. Medication use has been shown to impede therapeutic advancement. I am far from alone in feeling like therapy is a waste of time, and in fact, counterproductive when one is having medication-induced behavior they don’t understand or even know is being caused by the medications.

    Hypomania can be a very dangerous state – one I never experienced before SSRIs. They are a gateway to suicide because they eliminate the inhibitory feelings we naturally experience upon thoughts of death.

    There’s the additional concern that many therapists drop clients who stop taking medications or don’t have a psychiatrist. It’s happened to me and plenty of others. Therapists have to learn how to diagnose and psychopharmacology, at least in Maryland, just to be licensed.

    I lied my way through my entire withdrawal. “Yep, doc, I’m great, thanks.” Even as I was in deep distress. Good therapy is possible but it certainly isn’t common. I’d never advise someone to inform their therapist they were going off meds. Or to use therapy as a way to get off meds. It seems like many of us only get out of the system by dropping out completely.

    In short, I don’t equate healing and recovery with professional therapy. Therapy *can* be helpful but that is so rare in our current system. There’s no substitute for having/developing strong connections with other humans, but I think that is rare and unlikely to occur in a genuine way with a professional you’re paying.

  • There is also physical illness with neuropsychiatric effects. I continue to heal from Lyme. As well, chronic psychic distress takes a toll on the body. These are what the link between ACEs and chronic illness is partly about.

    I am not just referring to mental processes as such, but the dynamic interplay between our bodies and our environment that create and exacerbate poor physical health which often translates into distressed mental states.

  • I disagree.

    We DO need more legal action and political activism.

    We also need recovery and healing from the abuses that took place. When people learn ways of being that aren’t helpful to themselves or anyone else, a court victory may make them feel good but will not help them learn how to interact with others or to be able to function within society.

    We need both.

  • Gender roles – a 100% cultural construct that varies by culture – are harmful, full stop. Suggesting to children that it’s even possible to have been born with the “wrong” sex parts because they don’t conform to cultural expectations for their assigned sex is abuse.

    Not confirming a person’s desired gender expression is also abuse. But just because someone expresses themselves differently from the way our culture has pigeonholed expression of sex, sexuality, and gender roles does NOT make them the LITERAL opposite sex.

    It’s mindboggling to me the amount of damage this cultural programming is doing to young people – both men and women. What should have ended in a freer society – one in which people can express themselves however they want – men wearing makeup and dresses, women not doing so, not shaving, not conforming – has instead become an even more highly enforced gendered culture.

    A man doesn’t need a vagina for permission to be gentle and loving or to be allowed to wear skirts. I don’t need a penis to be dominant, to wear jeans, not shave and eschew toxic, chemical-laden beauty products.

    Gendered expectations are the problem, not what sex parts one has.

    – An Unapologetic Radical Feminist

  • No, loneliness does not increase risk of “common mental disorders” and I will not use the language of the DSM to make the point so that those who are still enjoying their privileged existences can other me as part of the “afflicted”. Loneliness increases risk of severe emotional distress and psychic anguish. It is a kind of psychic death. It is an effect of a toxically individualistic, and fear-promoting culture that values productivity, competition and a veneer of cheerfulness far more than love, genuine nurturing and cooperation.

    I’m sorry to say that neither Cigna nor any workplace wellness program (nor even the well intended events arranged by my strictly ruled corporate owned apartment complex) will be leading the way back to happiness. This can’t be fixed by the same entities causing the problem to begin with.

  • The fact that people have to be coerced into receiving “care” should tell us all we need to know about the quality of that “care” and what people think of it.

    The fact that coercive practices have been designed into the “care” system and codified into the law of the land reveals that it isn’t about “care” but rather about control.

  • What an incredible interview and I haven’t quite finished it yet. This line I thought is particularly cogent and worth highlighting:

    “might you be having an emotional but sane response to an insane situation”

    The pathologization of emotion intensity to mean “big emotions = insane” is essentially the crux of psychiatric gaslighting. Big emotions are often entirely appropriate.

  • There used to be a saying “before diagnosing yourself with depression, make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes”. It seems the new motto is: if you can’t cope with the assholes, something is wrong with you. It’s not other people’s abusive behavior that’s the problem, it’s your inability to cope quietly.

    We’d have been better off sticking with Jefferson Airplane’s red and blue pills… at least those provided a good time.

  • The problem with DBT is that it’s a secularized, westernized and thoroughly homogenized, terrible facsimile of Buddhism, often applied by professionals in authoritarian and punitive ways.

    The underlying concepts aren’t awful but the adherents of this fledgling religion aren’t readily distinguishable from the followers of any other religion. “Don’t reason. Just have faith and do what we tell you to do….Or else.”

  • Yes, my disclosures as an adult have often been met with distancing and treatment like I’m unstable or even weird. I guess I’ve had to learn to be ok with that.

    My first mother-in-law – the mother of the 29 year old man who married me at 16 – told me straight to my face that she didn’t believe a word I said about childhood abuse of any kind because she knew my parents and they were “good people”. My parents are/were likeable in many ways and have/had many great qualities. That doesn’t change my mother’s history of neglect and physical abuse or my father’s proclivities for sexual activities with toddlers.

    I think the most stunning responses for me to cope with still were the people who, after hearing me disclose clear abuses, gave my parents suggestions on further abusive techniques as they saw my “bad” behavior as the “real” issue.

    I had a babysitter who would say “if you were my kid I’d make you kneel on hard rice patties with your nose stuck to a circle on the wall. A few hours of that would straighten you out!” Or my favorite still, the middle school principle who instructed my father to whip me below the knees because he couldn’t be prosecuted for bruises below my knees. When my sister-in-law found out my brother had been convicted for molesting me, she went on a tirade about how horrible it was for a little girl to falsely accuse her brother of rape – a word I’ve never used since five year olds don’t usually have to be forced.

    People would not just deny the abuses, they’d outright excuse them – Virginia Beach Social Services called my mother admitting to sitting on me and beating my head into a concrete floor “parent-child conflict”. Her excuse? I was just such a BAD KID, she “lost her temper.”

    The biggest issue that continues to plague efforts at protecting kids is people’s judgments about specific parents and specific children. Parents who can afford lawyers are usually fine and get away with untold horrors. Parents who can’t often lose children due to simple neglect that is poverty induced. Kids who fight back like I did get targeted. Kids who don’t may be just as miserable but will have better outcomes if they aren’t targeted for intervention.

    The whole state of affairs is a complete shit show when it comes to helping victims of abuse at any age. I suppose at the ripe old age of 40, I should be “over it” by now. And in many ways I am. But I still feel an obligation to speak up against the increasing targeting of abused kids and young adults struggling to finish raising themselves in a world that seems harsher by the day. I’m really at the point of saying fuck anyone who can’t handle the unvarnished truth about abuse – especially sexual abuse, which still seems to be the ultimate taboo subject, despite the current “Me Too” era.

  • Thanks Rosalee. It’s certainly a topic I’m very ambivalent about. I do believe that children are harmed by abuses within the family, but I am no longer convinced that either our child protective services or pediatric mental health system is helpful in the majority of cases when one looks at the outcomes of intensive intervention that focuses on the child. It is heartbreaking that what is billed as “help” so often adds additional layers of harm.

  • “I’d call it a certainty. But it doesn’t stop with ditching the drugs and labels, that’s only step one. There are layers of healing to do, it’s a process, and it’s important to specifically be on a healing path. Healing & change is hard work and it requires flexibility in thinking, letting go of old beliefs and considering new perspectives. This is a big change and some will embrace it while others will be resistant to making that kind of core shift. Different paths, outcomes, and realities happen from this particular variable–allowing vs. resistance.”

    Keep speaking your heart-truth, Alex. It’s a wonderful example for those of us walking a similar path.

  • “That Peter’s would like to see psychiatrists treating children to be employed by the authority also in charge of education provision.”

    This was where you lost my interest, considering the amount of damage schools do in the process of preparing kids to be worker bees for capitalism. The last things kids need is more “mental healthcare” delivered through the school system.

  • We all rely on the government and this is code speak for the toxic independence this culture fosters. I honestly wish people would stop using this ridiculous phrase.

    If you don’t want to rely on the government, please don’t breathe or drink the water – keeping those safe is a function of the EPA. Don’t eat food – the FDA and USDA are responsible for keeping that safe. Don’t fly – the FAA clearly serves no function there. Don’t watch TV or use the internet or a cell phone – of course, the FCC is kind of screwing the pooch these days anyway. Please don’t call 911 if your house is burning down or you have a heart attack. God forbid those socialist programs should have to care for your needs in an emergency.

    Oh wait, we like these programs that help the deserving. It’s food stamps, welfare and disability payments going to all the useless lazy hedonists we don’t like. Got it.

    If anyone deserves a payout for the abuse she’s taken, it’s Marci. It should be the government and the pharmaceutical companies paying out for a wrongful death lawsuit.

  • “With this in mind, the authors proposed several points of improvement and intervention. First, they stressed that parents need to understand that their affirmation and care following abuse is essential. They then called for more ubiquitous legal and welfare interventions, early detection for at-risk children, for trauma-informed care in healthcare practitioners and community agencies, and, ultimately, for societal change to overcome denial and silence.”

    No. This absolutely breaks my heart. The worst thing I ever did was tell a neighbor what was happening to me. It changed my life. It brought social services, foster care, years and years and years of harmful child therapy. It allowed my family to target me as the problem and still get away with abuse. Sexual abuse was not the worst thing that ever happened to me. Professional intervention was. This is the worst advice I’ve ever read published here. The mental health system abuses children after they’ve been abused and they do it with the aid of courts, CPS, teachers.

    If I could change one thing about my life, I would have kept silent about childhood sexual abuse. Intervention hurts kids.

  • “RW inappropriately considers such views worthy of respect rather than mockery.”

    I do not now and never have had the impression that RW considers such views respectable, merely that those arguments are used successfully because of the generally negative view the public holds against Scientology.

  • Ten years!!! Congrats!!!

    I agree, too, the idea that under treatment has hazards is completely bogus, because what people need are love and validating support and community resources, not “treatment” via drugs and labels. The mental health community is doing its level best to deny the social determinants of health in favor of an outdated disease model that only benefits the owners and Pharma.

  • Alex, the new research implicating osteocalcin in the fight or flight response doesn’t negate previously discovered hormonal responses to stress, it’s just saying that the physical reaction to adrenalin and cortisol doesn’t happen as quickly as they once thought and so they went off looking for other hormones that would explain that rapid response. The adrenals and cortisol depletion are *definitely* still involved and adrenal fatigue is known to be a big factor in all sorts of things but especially ME/CFS type symptoms that so many survivors have to deal with during/after withdrawal.

    I think what Steve meant by “real” science was comparing it to psychiatric pseudoscience. 🙂

  • Respectfully, there is an entire organization made up of family, friends, and concerned others speaking for and over those labeled as “mentally ill”. It’s called NAMI.

    I don’t want families brought in so they can be supported in fixing their broken loved ones. I want systems change to address family dysfunction that is one source of perpetual distress to so many.

  • There is a significant percentage of of people who privately dismiss western medicine as dangerously hubristic and often harmful. When they speak up about other ways of healing, they are summarily dismisses by the masses as anti-science. The propaganda is deep and pervasive. Your doctor is not god.

    Ask a doctor how to stay well. They will often say to stay away from doctors. That is very telling all by itself!

  • Psychiatry is an illegitimate and pseudoscientific branch of medicine. But it is still a branch of medicine. Also, much of medicine is still not understood and a series of trial and error, which is why promoting any belief that western medicine is actually evidenced based and doctors are authority figures or healers is truly the definition of delusional.

  • I agree with this. It’s telling that psychiatrists want nothing to do with legitimate brain-effecting illnesses, referring those to neurologists, rheumatologists and infectious disease specialists. The domain of psychiatry is psychiatric drugging of behavior, not curing physical illnesses.

  • Lymedisease.org is THE authority on Lyme Disease. The membership is worth it to have access to the Lyme Times newsletter. There is also MyLymeData, run by the same org, which is providing the first of its kind, patient-centered data repository for Lyme symptoms and treatments.

    Mary Beth Pfeiffer is the Robert Whitaker equivalent in investigative Lyme journalism. Her book is from 2012 but still full of relevant info.

    Avril Lavigne released just this year what have quickly become known as the Lyme anthems – Head Above Water and Warrior.

    Finally, Steven Jarrod Buhner is an herbalist who came up with what’s known as the “Buhner Protocol”, which many chronic (late diagnosed) Lyme patients find helpful. He has a stack of books on herbal antibiotics and antivirals.

    NatCapLyme and Bay Area Lyme are the two largest and best known patient advocacy groups in the US, with lots of free good info, too.

    *** Sadly, the Lyme community often pushes traditional psychiatric treatments under the delusion that they’re real medicine. With suicide the number one cause of death for Lyme Disease, desperation drives many of us into the hands of witch doctors; both psychiatrists and a good portion of those claiming to be “Lyme literate” and offering treatments such as IV peroxide infusions. So it’s really a massive mine field to navigate, especially for those without a significant pre-existing medical knowledge base to draw on.

  • The truly sad part is that the medical/psychiatric community is completely ignoring real illnesses like Lyme Disease that have known neuropsychiatric effects, among them dissociative states, psychosis, and mood lability.


    There is an epidemic of neuro-Lyme mimicking psychiatric disturbances, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America recommends against testing psychiatric patients for Lyme Disease.


    Additionally, Moderator Steve commented the other day that the medical community generally harms an enormous number of patients. This is true. If medical error were properly accounted for on death certificates and were a reportable condition, it would amount to the third leading cause of death.


    While this blog was generally well-received, I think you err in your position that it is Psychiatry alone (or primarily) that is doing active (known) harm to its patients while other disciplines are ‘real’ or ‘good’ medicine. There are guild interests going on in virtually all of medicine.

    The American Heart Association for example, accepts meat industry funding and has close ties with pharmaceutical companies promoting statins for almost everyone.


    The IDSA has close ties to the health insurance industry with enough evidence that a RICO case has been allowed to proceed.


    Women are routinely harmed by the entire medical industry.


    The US is the most dangerous developed country in which to give birth.


    This is just what immediately comes to mind. So I think it’s wise to recognize that medicine does harm, full stop. It is always a gamble when you receive medical care. The privileged get to seek multiple opinions and choose what care they receive. But most don’t have that option with our current capitalist, profit-based and profit-seeking, health care delivery system. Emergency medicine is always a crapshoot. Always. Both in delivery and cost.

    Psychiatry does enormous and largely still untold harm. But western medicine is not to be praised at this moment in time. On the whole, the lot of us are sicker and more dependent on chronic pharmaceuticals than ever before. This is not a win and it’s not progress and it’s not limited to psychiatry.

    Otherwise, right on!

  • I suppose this reminds me that August 2015 was when I quit Lexapro – four years seems odd, as if it hasn’t really been that long. I was so heavily drugged that the SSRI was the easiest to withdraw from and marked the beginning of my withdrawal journey. Gabapentin and Lamictal were the difficult ones for me. I’m still approaching three years off them all which feels like a real accomplishment.

    I developed tinnitus only about a year ago but I sympathize. I believe it’s not withdrawal related but symptomatic of Lyme Disease. It is maddening at times though. Loud music in headphones is the only relief I get from it.

    Anyway, congrats on your sustained recovery from psych drugs. Likewise, I find all of my moods much easier to cope with – and spring back from – now than when I was popping pills.

  • I would really love to see the Open dialogue approach adapted to suit the response to children and families in crisis. So many children end up in psychiatric care and/or protective custody due to trauma/poverty/family dynamics, and yet the focus is almost always on treating the child in isolation from its distressing environment as if the child were the problem and not the environment. This damages children, it damages families when siblings and parents resent the distressed child’s needs, and it costs so much over the child’s lifetime in terms of recovering from such treatments and targeting. I don’t believe the current approaches to “trauma-informed” care in schools and community settings are adequate or correctly oriented toward helping families.

    “In Open Dialogue, Valtanen explains, “supporting the individual and family’s agency from the beginning of the work is prioritized above the professional assessment of the situation or the diagnosis of the individual.” When professionals are too quick to make conclusions or interpretations of a client’s situation or decisions, it may lead to a reduction in the client, family, and network involvement.””

    This is precisely the direction that CPS, schools and community settings need to be moving in. Help families and you’ll help kids.

  • What a refreshing read, Lauren, thank you! Some of the most disturbing material published on this site has been in the calls for tighter background checks in response to indiscriminate acts of public gun violence, which is a white, MALE, driven scourge. Given that women are responsible for roughly 3% of these crimes and yet women make up a majority of those in psychiatric care, it doesn’t follow that “mental illness” is strongly correlated with such acts. But we do not yet have the cultural will to address toxic masculinity and systemic racism, which often combine to fuel these mostly well planned heinous acts.

    I do see some value in red flag laws as applied to those with a demonstrated history of domestic violence since that is so strongly correlated with those who go on to commit public acts of gun violence. Studies have shown that women remain at risk of being murdered by their abusers for decades after they escape abusive situations. So again, I think that what is largely missing from these discussions is the risk of MALE violence. I do find some amusement in the fact that my abuser (the one who put a loaded gun to my head while drunk) can purchase a gun while I can’t. It’s a sad testament to who really runs the show.

    Can we really expect Trump and Cuomo – white men – to target their own demographic?

  • I don’t have any problems with your explanations of the science but I do think you speak in overly praising terms about psychotherapists and therapy itself. Much of what passed as therapy for me was further traumatizing – especially the childhood intervention you promote so strongly. This tends to lead advocates to push for more family separation in order to protect the child, but the foster care statistics are abysmal and troubled children especially are often further abused by non-familial foster caregivers, increasing, not decreasing that child’s trauma load.

    Twenty-five years of therapy made it possible for me to speak of horrific traumas without really feeling the pain. That doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there, it means I learned to perform for therapists. Acting okay isn’t the same as being okay.

    The current licensing guidelines in maryland for psychotherapists requires multiple courses each on DSM diagnosing and psychopharmacology. This directly promotes psychiatry, not healing from personal connection and safe emotional exploration.

    Additionally, I do not think that even excellent psychotherapy is a panacea for the very clear and alarming science about chronic disease and early death among those of us with high ACEs. My understanding of epigenetic changes is that deletions of genetic code are permanent. I have accepted that despite the long telomeres I inherited which have meant my female family members routinely live into their 90s, I will probably die young.

    I think this topic deserves a lot more discussion but I am extremely leery of simple solutions such as therapy, especially when promoted with such glowing prose. I can only imagine you aren’t personally familiar with how much damage this system doles out to those already deeply harmed.

  • Effrat, I have spoken on all of these topics here in the comments; it is clear to me that you have a solid understanding of the issues people are facing and the environmental factors driving psychic distress in western (US) culture.

    This was an extraordinarily well-written and organized article that I was very pleased to read. I think there is a desperate need for people with your knowledge set in psych academia. You have clearly studied well and were a perfect choice for the first antipsychiatry scholarship award. I’m sure you’ve made Dr. Burstow very proud!

  • I don’t think this is true. The Christian conservatism of my childhood taught that Jesus eschewed the moneylenders and stood up for the poor, for sex workers and otherwise marginalized populations. The church has traditionally provided the services that now fall upon the (supposedly, but not really) secular state. As Rachel has pointed out repeatedly, the church has been corrupted over the last 30 years into accepting psychiatry (specifically, psychiatric drugs).

    I am not religious (I am Buddhist-oriented but do not embrace the idea of anthropomorphic gods) and I am further Left politically than just about anyone I know, but I have been Left Libertarian since the early aughts – long before I embraced antipsychiatry. I still think that salvation has more to offer people in terms of hope and community support than psychiatry does. The trick would be finding a church family willing to tolerate the discomfort of being labeled anti-science. How convoluted it has all become, eh?

  • Yes, graduate doctors with hundreds of thousands in student loan debt and then be surprised that they’re corruptible with cash payments, vacations, and gifts! There’s a reason that extreme debt is a disqualification for a government security clearance. It’s too easy to bribe people with large debts.

    Propublica’s Dollars for Docs is still one of the best resources for checking out physicians conflicts of interest. I remember finding out my gastroenterologist was an industry “thought leader” and had made over half a million dollars from giving speeches at conferences. I never went back. How can you trust someone like that?

  • But how can this kind of research hold any validity if the “personality disorders” are as invalid as the rest of the DSM labels? This is where the neuropsych field continues to run into replication issues. The DSM labels are unscientific to start with, so any correlations between adverse events and specific diagnoses needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Much better to simply assert that adverse prenatal environments have adverse effects on child development. This would be inclusive of other research that attempts to correlate prenatal infection, stress, drug exposure, etc on “autism”, “adhd”, “schizophrenia”, “psychopathy” etc.

  • My problem with “mad pride”, “neurodiversity”, and similar labels is that they serve only to continue “othering” folks experiencing the normal range of human emotion and reaction.

    Trauma did not make me “mad”, “crazy”, or “mentally ill”. Extreme states resulting from adverse experiences should be viewed as part of the spectrum of normal response. I resent the idea that being distressed in response to adversity is something to celebrate. It’s not special, it’s evidence of harm.

    Likewise, the altered mental functioning (neuropsychiatric effects) that result from infection and inflammation in the central nervous system from serious physical illnesses like Lyme Disease, syphilis, HIV (even Alzheimer’s is increasingly looking like it has an infectious etiology), is NOT something to be celebrated as “madness”.

    Unlike being gay, I wasn’t “born this way” and I certainly won’t give any credence to the debunked biological/genetic theories of “mental illness” etiology by embracing such a position. I refuse to glorify the effects of environmental harm when what is needed is systems change – both in medicine and culturally.

    I understand that the labeled population wants better treatment from society in general, but arguing that we’re fundamentally different is a good way to remain targeted for eradication, not inclusion.

    Frankly, I think “Pharma Bro”, Jamie Dimon, The Sackler family, Bernie Madoff, The Trumps, etc, are far more dangerous to us societally than the odd “crazy” who does something sensational. How much press does one person being pushed in front of a subway train deserve when despotic wealth hoarders are screwing us all while smiling and gladhanding? I’m going to guess that far more deaths and misery are associated with the names above than with the one off stories that hog media attention and cause distressed folks to remain targeted as some kind of massive danger to society.

    No, I won’t fight for “mad pride” and I don’t see it as being particularly compatible with antipsychiatry. Given my own circumstances, I’m a shining beacon of normality and goodness, so I will not participate in my own othering and beg for acceptance of my supposed “madness”. Fighting for systems change is my only focus.

  • Hi Alex, I tend to view conflict as a normal part of all relationships, not just something that happens once or twice and then you get on swimmingly from then on. I don’t think I’d say I can judge someone from a single conflict, though a BIG conflict early on would certainly make me hesitate to invest deeper trust in the other person. I think trust is gained in stages, therefore, after one has learned that the other person can communicate and behave in validating and nonabusive ways. I also believe that this requires any potential therapist to have the capacity to absorb some client issues early on while building that trust and while the client is learning that the enrvionment is a safe one where issues and feelings can be expressed honestly.

    The problem with the mh industry and notions of conflict with a treatment provider is that most of mental health is delivered in an authoritarian manner (FYOG, as some say) rather than with truly shared and guided decision making. With the former, it’s not ever really possible for the client/provider team to build authentic trust and navigate conflict because the provider will always win any power struggle. The latter requires building trust between strangers and I think the normal rules of learning how to interact with different kinds of people applies. My comment about learning to navigate conflict was made under the assumption that the provider is acting as a helper/guide/assistant rather than as an authority but from my own experience I know that is rare, so your point is taken. The fact remains that the system of help is pretty broke.

  • There’s nothing wrong with learning new ways of being in the world as one matures and heals, alongside receiving the assistance one needs to survive.

    My disdain for the manualized therapies is precisely that they rely upon learning coping skills but don’t help the individual make the changes necessary – changes that often entail long-term support and financial assistance. I didn’t need a psychotherapist or medication. I needed help escaping from an extremely abusive spouse, a proper education, and antibiotics to treat the symptoms of what I now know was Lyme disease. No one should ever be forced to “cope” with abuse or a treatable illness.

    Coping skills have their place, but almost all of what the helping professions offer is medications combined with coping skills, when what most people need the most is a restoration of the social contract. This boils down to a lack of public will to help poor people. Welfare assistance and paid college/daycare would have been a much cheaper investment for the taxpayer than the fifteen year long disability path I ended up being forced into.

    I have no problem with learning how to cope with life’s natural sadnesses and difficulties – they are fodder for building one’s inner fortitude and grit. Much of modern life stressors are very far removed from anything natural, and are imposed by a sociopathic capitalist class system in which there are few winners and many losers.

  • Connecting “severe mental illness” with “monstrous crimes” is not only stigmatizing but factually incorrect. And you wonder why nobody wants to “adopt” us.

    The biggest barrier to these kinds of projects is funding, not lack of desire to help people. When the majority of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency, how are you expecting people to do much more than cheerlead? The majority are suffering – by design of a system that prioritizes self sufficiency over cooperation.

    I have had a desire for some time to establish an intentional community for psych survivors, but doing anything outside of the system takes funds that most survivors don’t have, including me, since of course, household wealth is not the same as personal wealth.

  • Point of contention: showering daily is not healthy for anyone who is not being exposed to healthcare pathogens. For one thing, it washes off the vitamin d that your skin oils produce in response to exposure to UVB light and which takes time to absorb back into the skin and blood stream. It’s also not particularly good for your surface microbiome, and the skin is our first line of defense against illness. Also, literally none of the most financially successful people I know showers on a daily basis.

    Secondly, CBT (actually ALL of the manualized therapies) places the onus on an individual to adapt to their situation and develop better coping skills and internal regulation rather than acknowledging and assisting the client to change the circumstances leading to the distress.

    It’s no wonder that treating people as if they’re to blame for their problems and calling it “therapy” doesn’t make them feel better. Most of the time I was in “therapy”, I was high achieving, an honors student, traveling, involved in my community and being gaslighted by treatment providers as not really being invested in my own wellbeing or simply being “seriously mentally ill”. Too bad it took so long and I took so much abuse before my Lyme diagnosis. Even with my trauma history, I was kicking ass and taking names while being tremendously physically ill.

    I certainly hope the providers of these “services” will take the feedback from service users to heart.

  • This is an interesting finding. One of my favorite people, who happens to be a former therapist, has expressed very similar thoughts about what makes an effective therapist.

    “Interestingly, the findings suggested that it may take an interpersonally challenging situation to arise in therapy for these therapist effects to emerge. In other words, how therapists respond when faced with challenging moments differentiate the effective therapists, who respond with empathy, self-control, and emotional containment, from the less effective ones.”

    This concept of navigating conflict is especially one we’ve explored as friends, with us both believing that real trust isn’t built until you’ve successfully navigated a conflict (or several).

    My personal view on the manualized therapies is that they are basically useless in helping the client create permanent improvements in their living situation – they focus on coping skills and changing the patient, who may very well be having a totally normal and expected response to adverse circumstances. An effective therapist, in my view, will help the client create change in their circumstances that are leading to distress. That doesn’t always come quickly. Of course, if the client is nothing more than a source of income for the therapist, marginal (or short-lived) results can be expected. There must be some level of real attachment and caring for the client.

    Timely piece!

  • Nice, well sourced blog, Corinna! I’m so sorry to hear about your friend.

    “The reality of being an advocate is also this: We are trying (with no resources) to heal from medical harm while trying to defend our methods of healing from constant criticism, while trying to help other patients heal, while trying (with no resources) to change a system that isn’t rewarded for creating healing.”

    I hear you. The system isn’t designed for healing and/or recovery, it’s designed for profit. Even nonprofits have to compete in ways that were optimized to benefit a for-profit system. It’s designed for quick, cheap solutions that make nice political sound bites, not to address expensive, long-term root issues.

    I don’t think you should frame the changes you’re making as ‘quitting’, with all the negative connotations that are attached to that word. You’re shifting gears into a different, equally valuable and needed role. Suicidal thoughts thrive on these notions of ‘quitting’ and ‘failure’ but you and your work are necessary. You should be very proud of what you’ve built and really try to internalize that handing off of roles to new fresh players has always been part of progress.

  • These are the same agencies who were perfectly fine with adding SSI recipients to the NICS database under Obama. Remember the Murphy Bill that every democrat voted for? It’s not even been three years since Democrats we’re losing their minds over Trump blocking the implementation of that rule and writing in the Post about how awful it was the “dangerously mentally ill” might retain their 2nd amendment rights.

    This is why knowing political history matters. This is politicking. It has nothing to do with being able to speak about science and everything to do with being pissed about not being able to oppose the policies of the current administration.

  • Oh dear, I never even looked at the comments. “Sick grammar” 😀

    Personally, if I’m going to be completely disabled by drugs, I’m gonna have some fun in the process. Why anyone who isn’t propagandized about “mental illness” would choose Seroquel over cannabis is beyond me. Both give you the munchies and couch lock but at least cannabis makes you happy! And there’s evidence that CBD in cannabis helps regulate blood sugar whereas Seroquel and other neuroleptics can cause diabetes. It’s a no-brainer to me!

  • Yesterday, my apartment building sent out a reminder to parents that there are no play areas on site and that children under the age of 16 may not be unattended at any time on any area of the property. If parents cannot meet them at the bus and they are old enough to legally stay home alone, they must go directly to their apartment alone until a parent arrives home.

    I am eternally glad to have grown up before screens, the internet, and constant contact with helicopter parents and communities more concerned with legal liability than providing spaces for kids to be kids.

  • Recovery is real and need not be from “mental illness”. For some of us, recovery is from the traumatic harm of the medical system misdiagnosing our physical ailments as “mental illnesses”. I also recover from bouts of inflammation – when my joints swell up and the night sweats are in full swing again, the depression hits me like a brick wall. This is an inadequately treated systemic infection, not “mental illness”. It doesn’t mean I’m not sick and don’t have to recover over and over again. For all I know the OP has something similarly *physical* happening in his body that precipitates his psychosis in a cyclical nature. Embracing notions of recovery does not equate to embracing modern notions of “mental illness”, but physical ailments can and DO have mental effects.

  • Speaking from my own experience of treatment for “bipolar disorder”, the psychiatric practitioners themselves are extremely inconsistent in their own approach, taking neither a strictly biomedical nor a psychosocial approach to patients behaviors and affect. In this way, it is possible to both blame the patient for their behavior and keep the patient believing they have an illness outside their control that requires pharmaceutical treatment.

    It’s also easy to see why the “just like insulin for diabetes” metaphor is so useful to them in keeping patients compliant with pharmaceutical treatment. With diabetes, especially with type 2 diabetes, there is a measure of patient control over diet and exercise that will mitigate the illness, but some patients will still need insulin therapy or blood sugar regulating medications – especially when there is a hybrid type disease. Not all patients can fully control their diabetes (an actual progressive disease) with lifestyle factors, in other words.

    In using this metaphor with the “severe mental illnesses”, it is possible for the practitioners to push both the recovery and biomedical models at the same time. My experience was that my reactions to external circumstances beyond my control (social and family situations) were often met with medication changes at the same time as I was being “educated” about recovery methods such as good diet, exercise, reducing stress and conscious behavior alterations. Unfortunately, the medication changes have their own strong effects on the behavior of the drug consumer in terms of inducing hypomania with the antidepressants and stimulants, or conversely inducing stupor-like states with the neuroleptics.

    I have come to see this hybrid response as a type of psychiatric/medical gaslighting. In contrast to using insulin judiciously to lower blood sugar – something that can be instantly measured and that an educated and experienced patient can and should themselves learn to adjust the amount of insulin they inject – there are no direct measurements or patient control over the psychoactive effects of psychiatric drugs. And in fact, it would be dangerous to allow the patient in an altered state induced by the drugs to make such decisions.

    The problem therefore with these notions that there is either a biomedical or a recovery focus – either psychiatric or psychosocial – and notions of external vs internal loci of control, is that you cannot separate the effects of the drugs from the psychosocial conditions the patient is living in and any amount of personal growth or maturity the patient might be capable of gaining. Psychiatry, in my experience, is very adept at claiming the patient is ill while blaming them for behaviors directly induced by the psychiatric drugs. It becomes a hamster wheel of trying to learn new ways of being while also chasing drug effects.

    I have a binder of handouts leftover from my days as a patient that perfectly illustrates both the “you are sick and need drugs/interventions” and the “you can recognize the warning signs and/or alter your behavior”. Again, this is gaslighting. There is no either/or once the patient is medicated and targeted as being “mentally ill”, which the statistic show usually happens in that order, with most patients being given antidepressants by general practitioners without psychiatric diagnoses, and only then progressing on to psychiatric care after they’ve been exposed to the psychoactive effects of the drugs.

    The question then becomes, how do we stop the introduction of psychoactive drugs by general practitioners to those in mild distress or to those who are indeed ill with physical illnesses inducing altered mental states? How do we change the approach to those in distress to be both more humane and to include sound social and medical understandings of the effects of physical illness and psychodynamics?

    In my own case, recovery has included eliminating contact with my traumatic family of origin; antibiotic and herbal treatment for Lyme Disease and coinfections (TBD); CPAP treatment for sleep apnea; dating/marrying my way out of poverty so that I had access to the things that financial security provides in this culture such as a healthy diet (gut *and* brain health), a safe neighborhood to live in, alternative supports like massage/yoga/etc; and completely eliminating psychiatric drugs so that (now two years and ten months later) my intellect and emotions are stable enough such that I can invest in others to a degree that I am developing that elusive support system I was always told I needed but could not obtain while my behaviors and affect were so unstable. The only remaining effects of my time in psychiatric care are my electronic health records and the scars on my arms from my psychiatric-drug-induced suicide attempt (17 years ago) which remain a visible and readily identifiable way to target me despite all the progress I have made.

    In a culture that systematically refuses to actually address the underlying issues that lead to extreme mental states, and that continues to demand more “mental health care” – which, for most of us translates into pharmaceutical management – I do not foresee the majority of (extraordinarily oppressed) people being able to access the kinds of lifestyle and environmental changes that will lead them out of their distress, regardless of whether they personally believe they have an internal vs external locus of control. And surely not for those who do not possess the amount of privilege I have as a white, decently educated, and relatively non-targeted woman passing as straight and aligned with a high-earning white male spouse. I did not personally earn most of the privilege I enjoy, and my method of “recovery” is not widely available. I will never have to worry about being stopped and frisked, driving while black, having my immigration status questioned, or even having my socioeconomic status questioned as long as I continue to play the social games this totally upside-down rich white dominating society requires.

    External vs internal locus of control? Biomedical vs recovery orientation? It is SOOOO much more complicated than that and reducing people’s personal difficulties or extreme states to such trivial factors for tidy research papers is a way to continue to ignore how complicated and interwoven both psychosocial *and* biomedical factors are in creating (and perpetuating) emotional distress and extreme mental states. This is essentially the real crux of living in a capitalist bootstrap culture – the continued elusive search for easy answers.

  • Oldhead, bandaids do not, in and of themselves, stop bleeding. Sometimes a wound continues to bleed and seeps out around the edges of the bandaid, sometimes the wound is too large for a bandaid and must be sutured, sometimes a coagulant must be administered.

    I do not want to put a bandaid over the problems the western world is facing for the same reason that antidepressants are a poor choice for treating psychic pain. It doesn’t treat the underlying issues causing the disfunction, it merely distracts and politicians who promote such false cures pat themselves on the back for doing “something”.

    See my pain. See the collective pain that is driving misery. Don’t promote false treatments. Demand real change. A UBI is a financial antidepressant. It allows those in power, those who are actively doing harm, to continue to do so with impunity.

    A bandaid would be great if, collectively, we could actually figure out how to stop the bleeding first.

  • Rachel, I hear you. I’m hoping to encourage you to write because it’s a talent you possess. It needn’t be here at MIA, it needn’t be your psych story specifically. But it’s a talent that you can harness even though your physical issues make finding and working a traditional job difficult. I believe there is a market calling for your experience – your experience as the preacher’s daughter, your fall from Grace, the years lost – feeling alienated and separated from the flock, eventual, if albeit slow and scary, redemption. It needn’t be autobiographical or even published under your name. But you have a talent for writing and a perspective of both harm and recovery in a unique setting. Maybe I am seeing something that you’re not ready for, but I can imagine having your book on my shelf. I hope that you will give it some thought and consider what I’m suggesting. The fact that your faith remains strong even through all of your struggles is remarkable, and I think you have the linguistic ability and psychic fortitude to pull such a feat off.

  • “It’s not paranoia if they really are after you.” – Harold Finch

    In the current sociopolitical climate, there are many people who have very legitimate reasons to be afraid and to know (not believe, but know) they are part of a targeted group. Forget claims of surveillance, metadata collection, or targeting by any of the alphabet soup agencies; one merely need to be visually identifiable as different from the dominant group to rapidly become a target. This is not paranoia, it’s common sense based on a massive and rapidly growing evidence base.

    Why are researchers wasting time and money on continued “studies” when we all sort of know in our hearts that it’s long past time for a cultural paradigm shift? You really don’t have to be very “woke” at all to see the exploitation, oppression, and widespread misery right in front of us all the time.

  • Well, psych drugs certainly don’t help people make wise, kind or caring choices. And the self-shame that comes with diagnosis can make people give up on being good, make them believe they are fundamentally flawed, actually encourages fatalistic thinking, a la biological determinism.

    In recovering from the effects of psychiatry, there may well be a place for twelve step type thinking and action in terms of setting to rights the ill effects of behaviors displayed while drugged, even if they were unintentional – the concept of taking a fearless moral inventory, admitting wrongs done, making amends. One needn’t embrace any of the religious aspects to become accountable once one feels recovered from the damage enough to face such. It seems like a better approach than claiming one is diseased and unable to control oneself, which surely would only beg for more control over the supposedly “sick” individual.

  • Little turtle, I call my distress exactly what it is – distress. Fear and panic, feeling discouraged, guilty or ashamed, I am so familiar with these. (Aren’t we all, really?) I have a few special people in my life who swarm me with LOVE and validation and reassurance when I need it. Psychiatry made me worse, made me feel damaged, broken, diseased, unlovable. Indeed, my family discarded me as such. If your family doesn’t love you in your darkest moments, who will?

    As the Beatles once sang, I get by with a little help from my friends. There are no drugs that can deliver the healing balm that a few caring words or a warm embrace do for the psyche in moments of distress. Doctors and drugs are no substitute for community and human connection.

  • Thank you very much for sharing Jean’s story. So many of us here can empathize and have our own first-hand experience with prescribed drug harm.

    “Jean’s story may sound extreme, but it illustrates the many barriers to care and justice that patients with benzodiazepine injury endure. Her story is like those of thousands of others who have shared their stories all over the internet. They follow a similar trajectory: First, a symptom brings a patient to a doctor’s office, where they are given a seemingly innocent prescription without informed consent. Next, their physical and mental health deteriorates, without medical personnel ever connecting the dots to the prescribed benzodiazepine. What often follows are a misdiagnosis, polypharmacy, thousands of dollars in unnecessary medical testing, psychiatric holds, severe withdrawal syndromes with no medical validation, barriers to justice for medical negligence, and no support during the healing process.”

    If I could change one word in this paragraph, from “benzodiazepines” to broadly include prescribed drugs such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and narcotic pain medication, it would perfectly describe the many more of us who have suffered similarly devastating effects from prescribed medication when our “symptoms” were not psychiatric in nature before we were treated for such.

  • Rachel, the eloquence with which you share the harm you’ve experienced is exceptional. I hope you will eventually write about your psychiatric career, and the events precipitating it, on a wider scale than just here in the peanut gallery of MIA. Your ability to describe the harms without transmitting the underlying current of rage some of us struggle with, is unique.

  • I don’t think that you’re intending to imply that people in distress are evil, but that seems to be the connotation here, nonetheless. Notions of good and evil are largely based in religion and superstition and are generally harmful. The Bible considers suicide to be a major sin because it deprives “God” of the right to give and take life, so therefore it is “evil”. But this is just another way to target those who are legitimately distressed by intolerable circumstances.

    A different cohort believes that mindfulness is the correct path out of distress, with notions of radical acceptance and non-judgment. Your pain is not driven by external circumstances beyond your control but instead by your refusal to accept things as they are. A suicidal domestic violence victim is therefore expected to radically accept the situation and remain calm and solution-focused despite ongoing gaslighting, violence, control, and isolation. Victims of other traumas and problems of modern living are treated as similarly lacking this ability to radically accept hostile environments.

    A third cohort believes these distress signals and behaviors are a result of biological and genetic diseases only “triggered” by environmental conditions but that were otherwise lurking, waiting to strike the afflicted. Biological determinism, in other words.

    All of these belief systems fail to address the root causes of distress.

    I prefer not to dehumanize my abusers with terms like “evil” as well. My parents are/were deeply damaged people and also worthy of love. The intimate partners who have harmed me do not exist in the bucket of evil but rather had their own struggles that they, for various reasons, were not able to address. I do not need to accept my ex-husband’s violent alcoholism, nor do I need to think of him as an evil person unworthy of his own care and help out of his distress.

    The inability to see the nuance under all of the issues afflicting humans is one reason why people choose easy answers such as taking (or prescribing) psychiatric drugs in response to distress that would be better addressed in more humanistic ways.

  • They not only make you lethargic, they make you HUNGRY, so that you eat nonstop, pile on the pounds and then moving often starts to hurt when the excess weight starts to damage your joints. It’s a horrific self-perpetuating cycle. And then my doctors wanted me to do low impact exercises like swimming. I never quite understood whose swimming pool they wanted me to break into…

  • Dr K, I apologize for giving you such a hard time previously. This was fantastic! Made me literally laugh out loud. You knocked it out of the ballpark. We need more satirical pieces like this to really drive home the utter lunacy of treating environmental problems as illnesses.

    Maybe someone can do a piece on how domestic violence victims are similarly genetically defective. After all, if your parents were perpetrators or victims of domestic violence, your chances of being a victim or perpetrator are also greatly increased. Clearly it’s a hardwired biological defect.

  • Oldhead is right. We have one political party in the US and they keep us in line by passing the ball back and forth every 4-12 years.

    As for immigrant detention centers, Trump’s latest attempt to get around the limits on child detention was first accomplished by Obama in 2014. https://www.thedailybeast.com/thank-obama-for-trumps-child-detentions-immigrant-advocates-say

    NoDramaObama did not walk on water. NaftaSuperpredatorClinton did not walk on water. In my lifetime, we’ve had 16 years of Third Way neoliberalism and 22 years of Third Reich conservatism. At no point have we had a president or congress fighting for the people.

    The faux outrage when a president from the “opposing” party does something your own party previously practiced is vomit inducing. Only when the sheeple wake up and are willing to stop worshipping their “side” will this change. Most millennials are independents for a reason. Both parties are screwing the lowly citizenry, so bought by the corporations they’ve become.

    But if you think there are significant differences in policy between them, I’ve got oceanfront property in Nevada to sell you.

  • Why should you “go after” anyone? These policies are being implemented in lieu of taking measures to reduce the underlying systemic causes of despair, which The WHO has been pointing out for years to little effect.

    The system is founded on chaos, violence and coercion and sustained with massive inequality forcing ever increasing competition for resources driving people to their breaking points and fueled by hateful rhetoric emanating seemingly from all sides.

    And it’s not like the removal of “assault” weapons is going to give those with psychiatric histories their gun rights back since we still have to be “protected” from ourselves, lest we decide not to continue playing along with the capitalist shit show both major political parties insist we must participate in.

    Additionally, with an increasingly militarized police presence in the US, I am of the opinion that we DO need stockpiles of these weapons precisely to defend ourselves from an increasingly tyrannical state. Bonus: when we’re invaded by the coming robot armies being developed by our enemies, our allies, and by our own DoD, we’ll be well prepared to be armed and ready with those “military style” weapons.

  • Yes, exactly! Unrelenting depression after long-term “AD” use is known as tardive dysphoria. It’s surprising to see research presented in a way that doesn’t incorporate this known condition since this outcome supports prior research on the “pro-depressant” nature of so-called “anti-depressants”.


  • Oldhead, in my attempt at a balanced appeal to all sides, I think it wise to insert here the difference between presenting news (just the facts, ma’am) and analyzing the larger sociopolitical implications of new information and current events. I am perfectly capable of doing the latter and don’t need someone whose sociopolitical views do not align with mine attempting to incorporate their own political opinions into the delivery of new information.

    I appreciated his answer to a direct question to determine what his opinion was on prioritizing disarmament over societal change, and I will personally value his journalistic contribution more if he keeps his personal opinions (which I feel are bourgie-elitist) out of his delivery of factual information. This is what news delivery was before it became entertainment and outright propaganda, and it is what any researcher should aspire to.

    I am grateful for the space to analyze and discuss in the comments section, censored though it remains. I can always read Truthout, Counterpunch, or watch The Jimmy Dore Show for hard-hitting analysis that agrees with my world view. 🙂

  • A fundamental problem is that a universal basic income is a replacement for a progressive welfare system and is at its core incredibly inequitable in its application. My husband and I DO NOT NEED any financial help, thank you. And people like Rachel (who is in the exact same financial situation I was in on SSI) will get very little additional benefit from another $220 dollars a month. (To be clear, the most frequently discussed number is a UBI of $1000/mo) This has the same shortcomings as a flat income tax, which would take the same percentage from those who have next to nothing as it would from millionaires. That’s not equitable.

    My position is not that people should starve, which is exactly what would continue to happen to those at the bottom of the income scale with those receiving the UBI as their only source of income, such as the disabled. My point is that if a UBI can be legislated by congress or state governments, then better, more equitable distribution of resources can also be legislated by those governments. I am FOR canceling all mortgage debt and nationalizing the housing stock because housing is a human right. We’ve removed people from the natural world and concentrated them in cities where they can’t make their own homes, then we make them participate in debt bondage to meet their needs.

    I am FOR nationalizing food production and distribution as we still produce enough food in the US to feed the world but the government provides economic incentives to allow food to rot in the fields, and for corporations to intentionally spoil good food they throw away and the write the loss off their taxes.

    I am FOR an NHS that entirely removes the profit motive from healthcare, that returns health research to the universities with government funding, and that promotes health in communities through access to healthy environments and healthy foods rather than making people sick and then profiting off their needs for insulin and Lipitor.

    “We”, in terms of the corporate-controlled US govt, behave in completely sociopathic ways toward the citizenry and then we’re surprised that people are cracking up? Please, start getting your heads out of the sand.

    And yes, we do need to be moving back toward more primitive ways. We are already well past the 350 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere that scientists have been warning for over 40 years as being the point at which a 2 degree Celsius plus warming becomes irreversible. We’re already well past the 400+ ppm carbon that we were warned would trigger feedback loops that we’re already seeing as far as melting permafrost and flooding the atmosphere with much more damaging methane. I know you continue to think our technological overlords will pull a Hail Mary and save us, and I’m convinced you don’t really understand climate science, the colonialist nature of resource domination primarily practiced on the North American continent, and what needs to change in order to create a ecologically sustainable and just society. But considering the level of misery that modern lifestyles cause, why wouldn’t we want to return to a more primitive, collectivist approach?

    A UBI is a bandaid, once again, not a fix. We’re all better off when we’re all better off, and a UBI doesn’t make us all better off.