Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Comments by sentc15

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  • I haven’t been able to read this through, but is there any mention of the role of early attachment in creating resiliency? If not, then there is no real understanding of psychology or mental health.

    Our culture has been obsessed with genetics both where psychology and physical health are concerned. In both areas, the role and power of genetics has been vastly overstated and over bought-into, in psychology probably more so. We utterly neglect and are ignorant of the many key environmental ingredients that go into creating personality and mental health or ill-health, and the (esp. early) psychological environment’s impact on physical health down the line.

    Genetics is a holy grail in today’s psychological and medical fields, but after decades and decades and millions of dollars worth of research, it has been leading us (esp. re: psychology and also but less so in medicine) mostly nowhere.

    c.f. –John Horgan’s “gene whiz” articles in Scientific American
    –Publications by Jay Joseph, PsyD
    –“When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection” by Gabor Mate, MD (“The war on cancer, for all its triumphs, has generally been a failure because it looks for the causes of malignancy in minute cellular mechanisms. As an astute observer has pointed out, attempting to find the cause of cancer on the cellular level is like trying to understand a traffic jam by examining the internal combustion engine.”)
    –“The Manual: The Definitive Book on Parenting and The Causal Theory” by Faye Snyder, PsyD –> Explains the exact environmental mechanisms (children’s social and emotional needs which are either met or not by their parents) which go into creating mental health vs. ill-health, healthy personalities vs. all the personality disorders.

    Our society needs to become educated in *real* psychology and stop *assuming* genetic causation for which there is generally no real evidence anyway. Come on, people. The causes are right before our eyes. We just have to have the eyes and the knowledge to see them.

  • I agree, Monica – Again, anything “biological” is seized upon in the hopes that ‘mental illness’ will be able to be attributed to purely organic, non-social phenomena (i.e. no one’s – except perhaps the sufferer’s – fault), and chronic stress & trauma are ignored. Are they asking the question, “From whence commeth all this inflammation & immune activity? Could it be that the psychological stress that is already known to be implicated in, well, psychological distress (otherwise known as m.i.) is also behind much of this inflammation & immune activity in the first place?” It’s almost as if many researchers and others have an agenda to avoid looking at chronic stress & trauma at all costs, to avoid looking at parenting and other social forces which shape growing bodies & minds & to implicate anything but.

    Have you read Dr. Mate’s book “When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection”? It is eye-opening. He explains thoroughly the exact ways in which psychological/emotional stress affects the immune and all the other systems of the body – since they are all connected – and can lead to all sorts of physical illness over time (autoimmune diseases [incl. ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, “and many other diseases that are not always recognized to be autoimmune in origin, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease”], cancers, ALS, cardiovascular disease, allergies, asthma, etc.). He describes a sort of medical “bermuda triangle” which has been swallowing up this type of research over the past decades resulting in the medical field’s neglect of and even bias against this very important cause & effect mechanism, but that a new field called “psychoneuroimmunology” is emerging which “studies the ways that the psyche–the mind and its content of emotions–profoundly interacts with the body’s nervous system and how both of them, in turn, form an essential link with our immune defenses… We are discovering the scientific basis of what we have known before and have forgotten, to our great loss.”

  • “Feel upset about anything at all, you immediatley have a life long brain disease.”

    Love that.

    “…a continuing pulling down of communities and society, and an increasing reliance on the medical model to cure everything.”

    Indeed. Ignorant, harmful, and doesn’t work!

  • Guess what also causes gut problems – chronic/acute stress (fear, worry, anger, etc. – emotional upset). You must also know that stress compromises the immune system. I believe that may people who see a connection between digestive/nutrition problems and “mental illness” of various kinds infer a causative relationship but it’s the wrong one. At least in the vast majority of cases, probably, the long-term emotional stress comes first, causing damage to the gut and the poor absorption is a result of that – not the other way around. Again, stress and trauma (including and maybe especially attachment trauma, which is very little understood & acknowledged in our society) are passed over and their extensive effects on the human body and spirit are not recognized.

  • I absolutely agree. Thank you. Childhood and social/stress issues are I believe still the big underrecognized causes of distress (both physical and emotional/mental) in our society. I see this with physical illness too – the corrosive effects of emotional stress – which includes things like attachment trauma and isolation & loneliness which are on the rise – are not given the recognition they deserve in terms of the ravages they exact on the human body. Our society is fundamentally ignorant about key human interpersonal and emotional needs – as fluffybunny said, if you have not experienced something like attachment trauma and have had no reason to really learn much about it, you will not be able to imagine what it feels like and the devastation it wreaks on a human mind/body/life. None at all. It is vastly underrecognized and passed-over as a cause of illness both physical and mental.

    I find the last paragraph of this piece oddly telling –

    “Every one of us wants to solve the terrible problem of the epidemic of mental problems. With no new psychiatric drugs on the horizon, and growing concerns about the value of currently-available medications, the time is ripe to invest in assessing the extent to which micronutrient treatment may improve mental health in our society. And that’s all we are trying to do.”

    It sounds as if you are switching out one magic bullet for another (as if psychiatric drugs are the only real way we have of approaching these problems currently?), and continuing to focus on where the real problem (at least the vast majority of it) does not lie. I agree with fluffybunny. My prediction is that this focus on nutrition is exaggerated and that if anything, it might account for only a very small proportion of what gets called mental illness. The most important and widespread causes are still going neglected and simply not known or understood, or purposefully avoided, as usual.

  • Yeeeeeeesssss….. This is what I’ve been going on about trying to get people to see. *Collective* and *social* problems are being misconstrued as *individual* and *internal,* and thus people are being asked to solve them on their own, which is absolutely nonsensical – the very opposite of what should be done. This in and of itself is just about enough to drive me mad. For such a technologically advanced society, we are extremely socially ignorant/backwards.

  • Or perhaps her book “The Predictor Scale: Predicting and Understanding Behaviors according to Critical Childhood Experiences” might be another good reference on this topic, I can’t remember as I’ve lost my copy and am too poor to buy another at the moment.

  • Steve,
    But *why* was he a misogynistic abusive creep? Why do some people turn out that way, while others turn out with healthier and happier tendencies? Please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaV9uha0lK0 for a discussion of Elliot’s upbringing and the factors which more than likely led to his ending up in the position and with the feelings and drives that he did. These things happen for distinct reasons, and we need to be much better at understanding the causes and effects…

  • Responding to B’s comment which begins: “A few points there.”

    Re: “I don’t think anyone is disputing that genes…contribute to how you react to trauma or stress (that includes how much trauma you can take and what the reaction is going to be). That is called personality.”

    Well, I for one have reason to doubt that genes are responsible for individual personality differences and resiliency. The alleged science backing up that assertion seems to be about as strong as that which claims that “mental illnesses” are genetically determined, biological brain diseases. For a full discussion on the creation of personality and a refutation of the idea that it is caused by individual genetic instruction, see “The Manual: The Definitive Book on Parenting and The Causal Theory” by Faye Snyder, PsyD.

  • All depends on what is meant by “psychiatry” and its “evidence-based treatments” here. Psychiatry is currently made up of two basically distinct, often opposing paradigms – the biomedical and the psychosocial – so I have to look for context clues to try to figure out which is being talked about. Psychiatry as a field needs to address this split personality and decide what it is and what it believes.

  • Steve, you so often express what are my thoughts exactly . We have so much control over “environment,” and yet that is not what is being focused on primarily. All of this searching for a genetic holy grail is taking resources away from what we can and direly need to be changing in the real world, right now. I cannot understand how searching for genes is viewed as more important than addressing the environmental factors which are admitted to be necessary for developing these problems. First of all, if they ever do find genes which are truly associated, it will not be a single gene, that much is clear – tt will involve many genes. Secondly, what are they going to do with that knowledge? Are they going to genetically manipulate all of those genes out of our human DNA? That can’t possibly be wise, can it? Or are they searching for genetic causality merely to defend what has been their stance and practice – their scientific credibility – for decades or more? I’m just wondering what the thought process and plan is in terms of what to do about these “conditions” if genetic predisposal is found. It just seems like so much blindess and eugenics-tinged fool-hardiness on the part of the scientific establishment.

  • Juvenile and emotionally overwrought, my thoughts exactly. My goodness, for an MD and psychiatrist the maturity level sure seems low. That’s disturbing.

    If this individual engages in therapy, that’s scarier, still.

    Physician, heal thyself..

  • 100,000%.

    The impact of stress, especially intra-familial stress, not only on the growing brain but on the body as well as the personality and mind. We just do not see and do not want to see what’s right in front of us. I really like psychologist/author Dr. Faye Snyder on this topic – the reasons why we have a tendency as a culture to “shut the eyes” – to protect those in power (incl./partic. parents) and go on continuing the cycle of injury, scapegoating others, those we see as weaker – often our own children, or other vulnerable/less powerful groups in society – and avoid really looking at and dealing with these tough interpersonal and power dynamics, and rectifying/healing them.

    There are harmful things which many parents do inadvertently to their own children, because similar things were done to them, they haven’t realized, healed and transformed from their own experience yet, and thus they can’t see their own children and their children’s needs clearly, or cannot seem to come up with adequate nurturing or overcome their destructive drives. Then, instead of identifying and sticking up for children’s true needs, we choose to protect what we see as the parents’ egos instead, not “blame” (hold them accountable), and simply “don’t go there.” Many defensive parents refuse to have it any other way, as well, and we as a society give in to their demands.

    Of course this is not the only reason. There’s also the money to be made, and the prestige of a deluded profession to continue propping up. But the parent~child dynamic – and the bias in favor of parents and the powerful at the expense of children and the less powerful – is a central element in play in all of this. This is one of the things that riles me up most about the mental health paradigm, the denial that it’s in, the lack of justice, the way it chooses to collude with the powerful and “shut the eyes” to what by this time should be obvious. That is why this ‘movement’ is very much a social justice movement. Not only is it about flawed science, it is very much about power – a dysfunctional power struggle – and repression/suppression/oppression (?) at its core.

  • johndoe,
    Thank you so much for saying this. I agree 100%.

    “If we are unlikely to ever have a complete picture of the etiology of “extreme” mental states it is because we stubbornly keep looking in the wrong places and avoiding the obvious questions about the impact of stress on the developing brain and the many shapes which stress can take, particularly in intra-familial relationships. But many of these questions are uncomfortable, not just to researchers but also to sons and daughters and fathers and mothers.”

  • This is a fantastic article.

    Well, I could quibble with the statement in the first paragraph: “the problem with mental illness is not that people have it but it’s that they BELIEVE they do.”

    In a sense, you are right, because perhaps if most people did not believe in “mental illness” as such, they would be more open/understanding/supportive of people going through crises, not treat them as alien “other,” and this would go a long way towards the person’s so-called mental health. However, this is still an “if.” It’s still possible to not believe in “mental illness” as such yet be completely unsupportive if not abusive to those going through emotional/psychological/life crises.

    My main thought about that line was that: what gets called “mental illness” is still a major problem in and of itself, even if it is divorced from the biopsychiatric b******* (not sure if we can curse on here!).. So to dismantle the biopsychiatric paradigm is a major part of the solution, but the other part is effective prevention and/or “healing” (an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure) of these problems (where they exist) in the first place.. which itself is a tall order but must be done! Proper understanding of what the problems are about is of course the crucial first step.

  • Me! Me! I agree with oldhead and anothervoice. If there is any real mechanism of karma or justice in the world, human beings are setting ourselves up for an incredible fall, all deserved, for thinking we have the right to do the things we do to other feeling species. C.f. http://investigations.peta.org/nih-baby-monkey-experiments/?utm_campaign=NIH+Investigation&utm_source=PETA+E-Mail&utm_medium=Alert

    Let’s take care of our own da*n problems, especially the problems we should totally understand by now, like human psychology, and leave these creatures to their own lives, they have nothing to do with it. The arrogance, blindness, hypocrisy, and brutality of our species at times are shocking.

  • oldhead,
    Exactly. Very well said. Like “anger.” Some anger is absolutely appropriate and life-affirming/defending. To pathologize it across the board and/or in the abstract is to negate important parts of our humanity.

    Also, (general comment on the article) there are reasons some folks seem more “pre-disposed” to forgiveness (and all other manner of behaviors/temperament/tendencies) that have to do with quality of attachment (primarily) and/or discipline in their critical early years, and their resulting degree of resilience. See Dr. Faye Snyder, esp. “The Manual: The Definitive Book on Parenting and the Causal Theory” and “The Predictor Scale: Predicting and Understanding Behaviors According to Critical Childhood Experiences.”

  • Vegwellian, “However, my grandmother had no serious trauma and had depression so severe in her later life that she had shock treatments. So it is fairly reasonable to conclude that something runs through my family that creates a vulnerability to persistent and disabling brain symptoms.”

    Ok. Let’s look at that. First of all, as I mentioned in another comment, it is not only the outwardly “serious” and recognizable (to most people) traumas that create vulnerability to depression and other kinds of mental/emotional distress (what you call “brain symptoms”). Again, please refer to Dr. Faye Snyder, she is brilliant on this. Secondly, “something” could be “running through your family,” indeed, that is causing these sorts of psychological issues to develop, but you (as well as the field of psychiatric genetics and, now, almost our whole society) jump to the conclusion that this “something” is genetic rather than environmental/interpersonal (mainly the result of parenting) and passed down through generations and between family members the same way other family quirks and styles are shared/transmitted. The genetic assumption is just that – an *assumption.* It is not proven via any consistent, replicable research, while on the other hand the evidence in favor of the social/parenting/human development argument is *replicable* and *consistent.* It is simply not very visible or audible in the mainstream as of yet – can you guess why? Because it goes against gigantic and very vested interests (not only financial).

    Two excerpts from the sections, “Misrepresentation by the So-Called Experts” and “The War of the Researchers,” from Dr. Faye’s book, “The Manual: The Definitive Book on Parenting and the Causal Theory”:

    “MISREPRESENTATION BY THE SO-CALLED EXPERTS

    There is an ongoing debate as to whether personality stems from ‘nature vs. nurture.’ We have good reason to believe there are no genes for personality, both from experience and scientific research. Alan Zametkin asked whether there is a gene linked to ADHD in his 1995 JAMA article, ‘Attention Deficit Disorder: Born to be Hyperactive?’ In his article in 2000, Jonathan Leo answered, “to even seriously consider that ADHD is due to a single gene goes against everything that science knows about genes and behavior.” Leo pointed out that Cal Tech geneticist Seymour Benzer has shown that even in fruit flies, a behavior as simple as moving toward a light involves hundreds of genes.

    Any genetic predisposition for temperament is just as unlikely. I cannot assume it like many of my colleagues. Temperament appears to be the result of an unconscious process between parent and child. Temperament is simply an extended and unmitigated mood that ultimately creates a parent’s projected expectation of that mood. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and finally some harder wiring results as the child experiences the same treatment again and again…

    …This section on Misrepresentation of the Experts has been included because so many of our students, the general public and even honest scientists have been led to believe that their genetic makeup has a determining role in their mental health, their pathology or their ability to heal. This section briefly shows you reasons to question what you have been hearing regarding the validity of genetic influence on personality traits.

    For my entire career as a psychotherapist, clients who come to heal want to know how much of their problems are genetic, asking, “How can you argue the research?” Here is my response: There are two opposing camps of research and only the one with the funds reaches you. Follow their motives. Question the research you hear about and find the other research that’s not publicized.

    The research that promotes the notion that pathology originates in our genes is predominately generated by the pharmaceutical industry, which uses its false results to convince the public that psychological symptoms of all degrees are genetic and thereby treatable with drugs rather than healable with guided work. Some give lip service to parenting, but in the final analysis, we are led to believe that the symptoms we treat are genetic.”


    THE WAR OF THE RESEARCHERS

    “I have been observing a war of the researchers over the causes of pathology. Anyone who looks closely into the issue of nature vs. nurture will see this battle. Some of the contenders are misinformed yet sincere. Others are very proper yet dishonest. Others are so angry they sling mud as if they are defending their own parents to the end. All of them appear to represent the voice of authority. It is our job to identify researchers’ agendas as they oppose one another and to identify which research is credible, not which research gets the most press.

    The clinical field is represented by multiple theories designed to either protect the parent at the expense of the child (pro-parent) or protect the child at the possible cost of the parent’s ego (pro-child). While a pro-parent theory may explain behavior in terms of the child’s responsibility by blaming his genes, another pro-child theory will explain the very same behavior in terms of the parenting.

    Researchers may approach this primary issue using the terms “nature vs. nurture.” Ultimately, the compromise of the open-minded seems to be a combination of both. However, in practice, the nature-and-nurture-together theory ends up simply being pro-nature. I say this because it seems that under this model we assume whatever we don’t’ understand in behavior must be inborn, and we choose to understand so little. In effect, espousing nature *and* nurture is essentially espousing nature. If it leads us to assume the parents were not essentially the cause, the assumption in nature. I assume nurture because parents must be ultimately responsible for whatever happened. [? poorly-written sentence]. I have clients who reveal a trauma they have been keeping secret for their entire lives in order to protect their parents. Even in this case, I hold the parents responsible for not teaching their children that they can handle the truth and to always bring their problems to them.

    Behind every theory there are motives and ramifications. This field, as I have said, has been divided between pro-parent thinking and pro-child thinking since Freud. Research has been produced to prove that genes cause traits, and research has been produced to prove that parenting causes traits. Both findings cannot be true. It cannot be true that genes create personality and pathology if parenting creates it. It’s as if one child is saying “She did it,” and the other child is saying, “He did it.” Who’s telling the truth? How do you figure out which one is lying?

    My field, from the bottom to the very top, has accepted that both sides are telling the truth and it is not the job of our leadership to get to the bottom of the conflicting information, even though deception is unethical, something a clinician would lose her license for, and so much is at stake. Inaccuracy leads to unnecessary suffering. The scientists and their sponsors are expected to be self-regulating but they aren’t.

    One side has been consistently more truthful and more rigorous in their research. The other side has a history of rigging results. My field sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil. They don’t look at the two children blaming one another with any parental responsibility for getting to the truth. This, in my opinion, is malpractice at the top.

    Pro-parent research has to falsify the truth in order to contend. It is my intention to clarify what tricks geneticists usually use. I want my students to know what questions to ask of studies to see if the ‘evidence’ they’ve been presented measures up. Unfortunately, more and more recently the studies are written in such code that even other scientists cannot follow a study well enough to question it. I would like my field to call for transparency in research. I would like us to insist that any study that cannot be scrutinized should be discarded and that our field will take no study seriously until it has been replicated.

    Even pro-child researchers get timid under the pressure to ‘believe in genes.’ They sneak their theories and observations past the pro-parent gatekeepers by agreeing with the premise that human personalities are made of nature and nurture. Then when you read what constitutes nature and what constitutes nurture, they actually represent that personality adaptations come from experience. The genes provide for the body-self and experiences provide the personality adaptations. By nurture they do mean experience and only experience. By nature, they mean the genetic instructions given to all humans across the board and not uniquely variable from person to person, so as to constitute personality or temperament.

    None of us are born speaking Chinese. Only those of us exposed to Chinese speak Chinese. Yet all of us are designed to learn to understand and ultimately speak to one another in shared verbal symbols that convey information regarding the interactions of matter and energy. A linguist would say that Chinese is learned, but could say that speaking Chinese by a Chinese-born person is genetic and environmental. We must assume that the actual specific Chinese version of language rather than any other language is the environmental part.

    However, when it comes to personality, a great leap is regularly taken in assuming that the personality of any given person could possibly be genetic. In the most serous cases, we assume that the Psychopath, Sociopath or Antisocial personality is the result of bad genes, at least in large part. If we assumed all the behaviors of serial killers were created by their parents, then we would be seeking interviews with these parents and we would want to hear the hard questions and the hard answers. Brutal parents might begin to fear the repercussions of their parenting and get help if enough of these parents were interviewed.

    Even one of my all-time favorite skeptics, neurobiologist Sam Harris, makes the tragic assumption that, “The men and women on death row have some combination of bad genes, bad parents, bad ideas, and bad luck–which of these qualities, exactly were they responsible for (p. 109)?” In another reveal of the genetic orthodoxy of this thinking, he writes, “While it may be difficult to accept, the research strongly suggests that some people cannot learn to care about others (p. 99).” It’s hard to imagine someone as skeptical as Harris being so blind, or perhaps sheltered, to evidence to the contrary. I wish he would become as skeptical of the myth of genes as the origin of personality as he is of religion. The truth is, if an infant is not protected and shown empathy, he cannot give it later on. Good science would rule out the acute neglect during infancy and/or the terrible abuse that happens to all violent predators during their youngest years before assuming any of their traits are due to their genes. Just find one predator who wasn’t violently abused or severely unattached or both, and then we can discuss genes as the origin of personality (Lewis, 1998).

    The problem is that where Harris works and studies, everyone assumes the source is genes. He may even be a bit of a renegade for factoring in parenting as much as he does. The rigorous studies that account for all pathological behavior by environment or parenting are strategically ignored in his environment ,just as evolution is ignored by the very religious. Children will continue to turn out violent as long as they are treated in the cruelest of ways. As long as we make allowances that these symptoms may be the result of bad genes, suffering children will continue to slip through the widely woven net of science and we will be pawns of deception on the moral landscape.

    If pro-child scientists were braver or more suspicious of the pro-parent research results, they would report unequivocally that genes provide the blueprint for the body while experience creates the individual personality. They could clearly educate us that there is not yet any scientific evidence that nature designs personality or even temperament. None. Those who believe otherwise are operating on faith and mutually reinforced assumptions (Ross & Pam, 1995); Valenstein, 1998; Leo, 2000; Lewontin, 2000; Whitaker, 2002; Galves, 2002; Joseph, 2004; Scott, 2006; Wilbur, 2008).”

    If you are confused by the pro-child/pro-parent language, here is a quick snapshot of what she’s talking about ~ http://www.thecausaltheory.com/war-of-the-researchers-and-theoreticians.html

    She then goes on to discuss the “Business of Science” and lists out the various forms of “Research Fraud” used, under the following categories: Standard Practices; Adoption Studies; Identical Twins Separated at Birth; All in the Family; Statistical Problems; Chemistry and DNA; Interpretation of the Data; Chemical Imbalance and Brain Abnormalities; and Politics.

    I’m not sure if those two quoted passages were the absolute most fitting/apropos for the discussion, but you get the idea.

  • CannotSay, “particularly people who have experienced things like happiness, love, betrayal, deep sadness as a result of a loved one, etc -which is most of us (with the probable exception of the APA quacks who write the DSM),” heh, good one. No joke, it’s as if they don’t understand human feelings and have never experienced real, colorful, human life, judging by how blind they are to what’s in front of their eyes. It’s as if they are a set of androids with a very underdeveloped social sense and capacity for empathy.

  • Vegwellian, “Last I knew, the predominant medical theories for mental illness involve the “double blow” hypothesis. That is, a genetic predisposition may exist, but something enviromental, be it exposure to a virus, or child abuse or growing up in a war zone, also has to happen in order tfor that potential to be fully expressed.”

    What you don’t know is that this “theory,” which in reality is actually only an unproven hypothesis, has no replicable science backing it up. Are you familiar with Jay Joseph’s critiques of genetic research in psychology & psychiatry? http://www.jayjoseph.net/publications I have not read his work, but it is extensive. He talks specifically about the twin studies. I also encourage you to read the work of Dr. Faye Snyder, who explains the flaws in these genetics studies and, again, the lack of consistent, significant, replicable results in ANY of the psychiatric genetic research to date. Additionally, she explains human psychological development thoroughly, from birth through to adulthood, including what creates resiliency (unbroken, quality attachment in at least the first year of life) and the ins and outs of what creates personality. It’s a fascinating read and, imo, extremely important for our currently socially/psychologically ignorant society to understand – we have so little understanding of the extreme importance of attachment in human development, and of all the various ramifications of broken or insecure attachments as well as disciplining problems in the second year on. (I noted her book, “The Manual,” in another comment, but she has written another one which discusses the genetic research, “The Predictor Scale: Predicting and Understanding Behaviors According to Critical Childhood Experiences.”) A person doesn’t have to have had an overtly (to the naked eye) abusive or what we think of as “traumatic” childhood to nevertheless have gone with certain key needs unmet, which create ramifications for their resiliency and success vs. floundering later in life.

    Also, I’m pretty surprised that you are even on this site if you don’t understand why many of us speak of “mental distress” and if you believe only in “mental illness/disease.”

  • *fight for your life, your DIGNITY, and the TRUTH.

    In other words Dr. Pies, I’m asking the members of your profession to show some *maturity* and *ethics.* Do you think that’s at all possible?

    If it’s not, I can only hope that those who can tell your profession what to do, namely the government, learns in a timely fashion that what you are up to is abusive nonsense and forces you to cease and desist, while making you pay for not voluntarily doing so.

    This is a total power struggle and a fight for social justice. Medical-model psychiatry is squarely on the wrong side of history and is going to occupy an embarrassing, shameful place in the history books. If you don’t see the light, you will be among those remembered as having been blind, ignorant, and wrong, factually and morally. Decide for yourself if that’s what you want.

  • Dr. Pies, psychiatrists playing the victim is pretty stomach-turning. The invective comes from the knowledge that arrogant, blind people with no understanding of you (the “patient”) or your life whatsoever have legal power over you that they absolutely should not have. It is infuriating and unjust. Can you put yourself in our shoes and think about it from that perspective? Imagine being overpowered by someone who doesn’t understand you and doesn’t care for you– in a way that makes you want to fight back, fight for your life, in a way you know is SIMPLY WRONG. Yet the state has given the power to these blind, ignorant abusers to act as they will with you. Stop being (intentionally?) obtuse and twisting words like “illness.” Own up to the responsibility that the field of psychiatry has to come clean and admit it has been very wrong for a very long time. Have some integrity. If you honestly don’t realize how wrong you/your profession is, try LISTENING with a bit of humility to some of the more cogent arguments and you may just learn something. This nonsense, the nonsense and abuse of your profession, has gone on for far too long and we are tired of it.

  • Psychiatry deserves to be taken down very publicly and very embarrassingly. They should also be responsible for reparations for the harm they’ve done and the cluelessness they’ve spread for decades. The field of psychiatry should be abolished, and former medical-model psychiatrists should have to carry the shame of having been part of a bogus, abusive, ridiculous, non-profession.

  • “By the early 20th century, it was accepted wisdom that mental illness was caused by suboptimal nutrition.” Um, what? That’s a mighty broad statement, is this what you believe too?

    I bet that if you study it for long enough you will actually discover that food and nutrition are *not* the answers to all of life’s problems. There are other things going on in life, some of which are more important for our functioning than attaining 100% perfect, *optimal* nutrition, if you can believe that.

    This seems to be along the lines of the kind of nutritional religious fundamentalism/myopia that rubs me completely the wrong way. Because our society really needs more encouragement to keep ignoring all of the trauma, abuse, neglect and stress reported by the majority if not all of its mental patients – doesn’t it? Let’s just keep ignoring all of that (as usual), act like it’s not as important or harmful as it really is, not address unhealthy family systems and oppressive social conditions, & boil it all down to food instead. How neat (& blame-free).

    I’m sorry, I guess I’ve known too many people who were ignorant of/desiring to hide or ignore what should be glaring social/power/family systems problems (particularly those they were perpetrating) and, instead, put their faith in nutrition – obsessing over it as if it’s the holy grail that will right all of life’s major wrongs. I think that’s utter folly and worse, it helps us continue to ignore, miss, and misunderstand what really are the drivers of so much mental/emotional distress.

  • Nice essay, if anything I would say it’s actually too accommodating and not forceful enough. For example, “sometimes normal difficult emotions are (mis)diagnosed as an illness requiring medication…” Sometimes? How about, very frequently or almost all the time? “sometimes the (mis)diagnosing of human experience for a ‘depressive illness’”.. Sometimes, again? In my experience, the medicalization and invalidation are relentless. One has to fight tooth and nail, or happen upon just the right people who really get it, who seem to be few and far between, in order for it to be understood that there is a *valid reason* for one’s emotions, when it comes to depression, when it comes to shyness or anxiety, when it comes to anger, feeling mistreated or abandoned, etc. I find our society to be almost relentlessly ignorant and invalidating. I like this piece but I would have used stronger language – not to alienate, but to say “Enough.” We have had to take more than too much bullshit – as you so aptly mention in your last line – for too long now. The right information and practices exist out there, so no more excuses. Enough of the medieval ignorance, power abuses, and bullshit. ENOUGH.

  • Ooh, good comment JeffreyC. There really should be major consequences for psychiatry’s ruination of people’s lives/torture and all the other injustices/crimes against humanity this field has committed. It doesn’t matter if they ‘should have known better’ or not; what they have done (continue to do) is so unjust, backwards, wrong, and harmful that it needs to be recognized as such on a massive/official scale. (Obviously this doesn’t go for all psychiatrists, but the misleading biological/forced contingent of the field – [although it’s my belief that the existence of the field at all as a medical specialty is unnecessary and even nonsensical. Perhaps psychiatrists could specialize in ferreting out any real medical conditions that are causing psychological/behavioral symptoms, and leave the problems-in-living to psychologists/therapists/counselors and the like.])

  • Hi pamgon,

    Do you have any clues as to what may have precipitated his psychosis? Was he having trouble launching into his adult life, for example – did he feel lost as to where to go & what to do after college, perhaps? Were there clues from earlier on in his life that things weren’t going so well, or did he lose important friendships/relationships/activities shortly before he started to act psychotic?

    I think it’s important to understand what the psychosis is about in order to help someone find their way out of it.

    Unfortunately, what can often happen is that someone is going through a traumatic moment which makes them feel & act in seemingly bizarre, scary ways, and the typical reaction of mainstream psychiatry is additionally traumatic which actually makes the problem worse. I wonder if that’s what happened with your son.

    You may want to read some books that illuminate examples of psychosocial causes of extreme distress/psychosis, if that is indeed what your son is suffering from. One that comes to mind that I would recommend is Ty Colbert’s “Broken Brains or Wounded Hearts: What Causes Mental Illness.” His other books are good as well.

    The only caveat I would add to Steve’s otherwise great advice is that at the part at the end where he says “these are things that he will have to struggle to determine for himself – where does he want to go, what does he think is important, what kind of life does he want to live,” I think it’s essential to stress that while he does need to be in charge of determining what he wants to happen with his life, it is virtually impossible to act & decide this in a vacuum – in other words, it’s likely that he’ll need a great deal of support/solidarity/assistance, at least at first, but it’s key that it be the right kind of support & interaction, which really understands where he’s coming from, what he’s going through, and what he ultimately wants to have happen, and helps him get there. I highly recommend that you read some books that can help explain this more, such as the one I mentioned above – and if I can think of other helpful resources (there are many, but I don’t have at the top of my head which ones may be most helpful, at the moment) – I’ll come back & post them.

    I’ll echo Steven is saying that a Hearing Voices organization (http://www.hearingvoicesusa.org/), or an alternative psychotherapy/healing/respite center may be very helpful. Depending on where you live, some examples are Sequoia Psychotherapy Center in Fresno, CA http://www.medsfree.com/default.htm, Associated Psychological Health Services in Sheboygan, WI http://www.abcmedsfree.com/, and the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community in Western Mass http://www.westernmassrlc.org/defining-principles (actually, here is a longer list: http://www.psychintegrity.org/links.php). Or you may want to consult an alternative (non-mainstream-psychiatry) psychologist such as those recommended in the Mindfreedom Directory of Mental Health Alternatives http://www.mindfreedom.org/mfdb/mfdb-search-form. If you would like to listen to some stories of people who have recovered from extreme states and ‘psychiatric diagnosis,’ I recommend the videos at http://openparadigmproject.com/, particularly that of Dr. Dan Fisher, Lauren Sprio, Daniel Mackler, Amy Long, the “Voices Matter” video, etc. Additional resources: Emotional CPR (eCPR) http://www.emotional-cpr.org/; Mother Bear: Families for Mental Health http://motherbearcan.com/.

    Best of luck to you & your son.

  • Dr.,

    You don’t think it’s at all disingenuous to describe the actions you listed as “psychosocial interventions”?

    And yes, forgiveness and acceptance and reconciliation and support and inclusion and attention and love are too rare in our society. So instead of stressing how critical it is for our society to become more the way it needs to be to support human life and flourishing, we should make peace with the idea of replacing these healthy and necessary values and actions with prescription drugs. Replacing love and all the rest of what we actually need to function on earth with a daily pill that will play with our thoughts and emotions. This philosophy and approach is so damn dehumanizing.

    You know, if people want to make up for the lack of their basic psychological, social, emotional needs being met with various kinds of mood- and mind-altering substances, that’s their choice. But the least we can do is be honest about what is actually taking place. Taking psych drugs to deal with our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is no different than drinking to deal with our problems, or relying on any other kind of psychoactive drug. yet one of these is condemned in our society, the other supported. Doctors need to be honest about what it is they are actually doing and we need to clear up the hypocrisy on this issue.

  • “It has to be dismantled by making coercive psychiatry history. People who want to destroy their neurons with psychotropic drugs should be free to do so but nobody should be forced to take these drugs nor should they be presented as “medicines like insulin”. Information about the toxicity of these drugs should be presented to anybody willing to engage in its usage.”

    Exactly. In addition to this, quality, effective alternatives to drugs must be seriously developed and offered. These two tasks are imperative and urgent. Anyone disagreeing with this, should have their head examined….

  • Is this typical in medicine? (if you can consider prescribing mood-altering chemicals to people with emotional/life problems “medicine”) Do the effects and performance of non-psychiatric drugs also tend to vary so wildly from person to person that it’s essentially a crap shoot each time they’re given as to whether they’ll make the person better, worse, or no change at all?

  • madmom,

    Such awful abuse and suffering inflicted on one who is already at wit’s end – it’s a crime. Can I just say, though, that this is an amazing piece of writing you’ve posted here? You’ve analyzed and understood everything so well. I sincerely wish you, your daughter, and all your family the very best.

    I can only imagine the outcome if your daughter and family had had a program like Open Dialogue to resort to rather than the backwards, dysfunctional nightmare that is ‘mental health care’ in the U.S.

    I’m so glad you found your way to the MiA community.

  • Corinna,
    I think what Peter is taking issue with is not the distinction between cause and mechanism, it’s the claim that simple dopamine IS the mechanism. He’s saying that pointing to just dopamine as that mechanism seems to be another of psychiatry’s assumptions that are not actually based in thorough, valid science…
    Peter,
    Thanks for that “street light” comparison! That’s exactly how I feel biopsychiatry approaches research most of the time.

  • Unfortunately, it seems like the right to act like self-centered and self-indulgent teenagers is one of America’s most highly valued freedoms, lately. It is especially obvious in our pop culture. That along with the skittishness and (perhaps unintentional) coldness with which we often conduct our daily lives… seems to create a very bad environment in which to suffer emotionally and need help – a desert where love and warmth and inclusion are only available to the very (previously) blessed or lucky (or to those who agree to profess to some religious belief or other). Those who fall through the cracks often have nowhere to go but down in such an environment. I’ve experienced this myself. What we do currently is relegate all emotional problems in those who are not fortunate enough to have good friends & family & other support structures to turn to, to the mental health system. The mental health system is currently pretty much bollocks. Those like me who know the system is very unlikely to help and even has the possibility or probability of harming, where do I go? This is why I see the development of safe-haven type communities as so important. Truly what we need is to provide these loving & healing communities for those in the most distress while we rehumanize our entire society & way of life, making it more hospitable to life. Gosh knows when or if we will achieve that. My hope is to simply make it to another country which does value family, community, and the human heart more than we do. Where interdependence is valued, not just independence.

  • Insightful comments, Anonymous. I agree that “bizarre delusions/hallucinations” are not necessary for someone to become frustrated, desperate, and enraged enough to kill. If it is so clear that many in our society are so frustrated and desperate, I wonder why we cannot devote more of our time, attention, and energy to helping each other out – looking out for younger people (all ages, really), being there for them, lending our ears, our hearts, our time. A society so focused on “me, myself, and I” cannot long stay healthy. Young people struggling with failure and becoming lost and hopeless need somewhere to turn, real people to turn to who will actually care about them and lend them some guidance. Right now, that can be next to impossible, if not impossible, to find. So much of people’s individual success right now depends on their personally having a strong family/support system of their own, because the sense of community in this country is so generally lacking. So, those who are not blessed with this strong family and support system – to whom do they turn? The mental health system is often not a solution, though it purports to be. Left alone with no healthy social interaction to turn these thoughts and feelings around, they generally fester til you get to this crisis point. With all of the prosperity and the resources this country has, we need to turn off the celebrity reality shows and actually concern ourselves with each other – or this alienation and societal ill-health will just keep getting worse. (I’m betting on the latter, unfortunately.)

  • Wow… Powerful… What a wretched experience, wretched bogus “system,” and thank you so much for introducing me to the DSM’s ancestor, Malleus Maleficarum! I am totally going to use it in arguments against those modern-day witch-hunters – the “brain disease-ers.”

  • Yep. People want to believe that “mental illnesses” are discreet entities that can be detected and “treated” by science & medicine. Well, that’s what they’ve been told, ad nauseum, is the case, by the powers that be. So they believe it as they are told to do, because what do they know? You have to investigate and dig really deep to discover that the powers that be are full of it. Most people will not go to that extent to discover the truth – only those of us who really care and have reason to doubt. And even when you do start to realize it, it’s hard to believe. The faux-scientific spin sounds so believable. These are top scientists and researchers, right? How could they be so wrong… it sounds preposterous. Anyway, we’re up against a mighty beast but we must keep working to chip away at it until, hopefully, we can reach a tipping point where the whole idiotic house of cards blows over. Kudos Stephen for your important work in the system. It is such a tough fight but thanks to forums like MiA we can find our comrades and give each other hope… We’re in this together…

  • Excellently said, Stephen. I wish we had a “like” button for these comments.

    “Psychiatry and Big Pharma have created an unholy alliance where psychiatrists catch and trap people and the drug companies provide the “treatment” for everyone.

    You would think everyone in the American public could see this but you really have to wonder about just how smart the public really is at this point.”

  • Right on, brother. So that “we can all understand one another”? How about, so we can all continue to misunderstand and fail to understand one another? That’s all that that language gets us. I have really had it up to here with this ignorant, arrogant paradigm and its undeserved power. We in this movement really need to strategize because this nonsense needs to go the way of bloodletting and alchemy, stat.

  • Personally, I generally refuse to use a lot of their invented words to describe states that they don’t understand. I think using the “sick” language – including words like:

    symptom
    disorder
    mental illness
    ill
    sick
    remission
    patient
    doctor
    psychiatrist
    psychiatry
    psychiatric
    diagnosis
    schizophrenia
    bipolar
    DSM acronyms
    medication (and definitely not “medicine”)

    and even words like “mental health,” “recovery,” and “cure,” sometimes

    only add to the power of the biomedical model and obscure the real nature of the problems.

    What usually ends up happening is that I use a lot of quotations and “so-called”s.

    When I was going through emotional difficulties, I think I could have been easily “diagnosed” by this sham profession, but none of the sick language ever made sense, ever seemed to fit my situation. I didn’t feel sick, I felt distraught. I felt worried. I felt scared, sad, hopeless – but never “sick.” I think the “sick” language is a major impediment in our society’s attempts to understand so-called “mental illness,” it’s inaccurate, misleading, and it needs to go.

  • Love it, Stephen. Enough is enough. They’ve had plenty of time to work through and try to substantiate their hypotheses and play around at being brain doctors. Time to face the fact that they’ve been wrong all along and have totally misunderstood what they supposedly had expertise in. Grow up, face the music, realize (first, if you haven’t realized yet) and admit that your profession’s bogus – it must be tough to do, but tougher still is to get caught up in their vortex as a vulnerable, defenseless person – so they can deal with it. It’s 2013. Enough with the medieval superstitious mindsets and barbaric practices. More than marriage equality, I believe this is the biggest civil and human rights issue of our age. We just have to raise more hell about it so that anyone even notices.

  • “anti-stupidity, anti-abuse, anti-lying, anti-greed and anti-coercion.” You’ve just described the field, as a whole. When a field is this corrupt and this out of touch, it makes sense to be against it. Also, as I commented somewhere else on this post, the entire underpinnings of the profession seem to be illegitimate, from its founding. People defending the existence of the medical specialty of psychiatry, what do you see as its role? Should they become specialists in the detection and treatment of the various medical problems that can masquerade as psychological problems? That could be a valid mission for the profession, but that’s not what it was invented to do & that’s really not what it does now. I suggested elsewhere that perhaps they could become a kind of sorting department where they try to separate out medical from psychological issues, and refer accordingly. I’m not sure how well that would work. But the problem remains that a medical specialty is attempting to deal with largely psychological-emotional-spiritual-social problems, and that mismatch is going to continue causing problems unless we think about why medicine is dealing with these problems in the first place, and whether it should continue having a role, and what that role should be.

  • You’ve said it well, Cheryl – and about your last line, well, the thing is is that until psychiatry is dismantled (i.e. exposed as clueless pseudoscience), it will continue getting in the way of providing real understanding of and help to those in need of it. It is a (seemingly) easy target, and one in dire need of being taken down. Of course that’s not all that needs to be done, as people still need to be helped – but it’s a big and important part of what needs to be done, and seems to be the first step in truly improving “the system.” It’s like the elephant in the room making it difficult to move around, and impeding any progress, as people are so focused on “brain diseases” and think that science has the solution, that they are blind to any other explanation and approach.

  • This is exactly the analogy that occurred to me as well. Just as in the times of slavery, I’m sure there are many vocal proponents who will look for any way to discredit or intimidate those who oppose them. We have to be extremely strong and stand up to them, because if not we will just get pushed down & aside as those in power continue to get their way.

    I feel that allowing ourselves to use unequivocal terms like anti-psychiatry is one way of standing up to their intimidation and not letting them dilute our power and righteous indignation (or anger, as it is otherwise known. Let them not pathologize us out of our right to feel that natural human emotion, either).

  • Ooh! I want to talk about strategy too! Richard, here’s the point that I always come back to: Psychiatry is a medical specialty. Why? Does that make any sense? The very nature of the field/specialty is the first and biggest statement on its illegitimacy, in my opinion. The field was literally invented a century or two ago (I don’t have the exact dates/movements down) by asylum doctors (who were there to attend to the general medical needs of the asylum populations) who basically wanted to play more of a role or who wanted to test out their own theories by experimenting on the inmates/’patients.’ I believe I read about this history in Mad In America (the book), and I’d love to research it more. It appears that the medical discipline of psychiatry was invented based off of half-baked scientific/medical hypotheses, which means it was illegitimate as a whole, from the start. And the very nature of the medical specialty of psychiatry will mean that it it always tied to biology, because without that, what else do they have? Why would they go to the trouble and expense of going to med school, just to end up doing psychology? Where’s the prestige and the money in that? No, the very nature of psychiatry – being a medical discipline – means it will stick with its biological paradigm because it’s the only thing that distinguishes the field enough from lowly psychology or social work. Pointing out the lack of validity underpinning the field’s existence as a whole seems to me the quickest, or most sustainable (I’m not sure which), way to achieve the changes we want. That’s how I see it, anyway. Maybe I should go back to school to study the origins and development of the field of psychiatry, and write a thesis, and prove myself right.. :p

  • I’m anti-psychiatry because it’s a scientifically illegitimate (i.e. fraudulent) and abusive enterprise which has no right to exist as is. I don’t see a need to qualify that statement. There are many practitioners who work in ‘mental health’ whom I have the greatest respect for. The field of psychiatry on the other hand, not so much, unless it loses its pretensions of being a medical specialty and admits it has nothing more to offer than the field of psychology. Actually, I do have one idea. If the field really wants to exist and show that it occupies a useful place in between psychology and neurology/medicine, perhaps it could convert itself into a triage department, determining whether “symptoms” are due to a legitimate medical issue or a psychological issue, and refer accordingly. That’s where I could see some use for the quasi-medical field of psychiatry. Otherwise..?

  • Ted’s right on the money: We should ALL be anti-psychiatry! Anyone in their right minds should be against a practice, a power structure, that bastardizes science and makes a fool of medicine, and traumatizes and abuses people in the process, just to make money or to feel powerful or simply out of ignorance! Any human being worth anything should be against that. We should ALL be anti-psychiatry, our whole society, the sooner to tear it down and bring some sanity and humanity into our “treatment” of those struggling with life, or those struggling with a genuine bodily ailment. Would you guys worry about the ‘ad-hominem’ or ‘categorical’ nature of being anti-slavery back in the day? Would you worry about offending slaveholders or their sympathizers? Would slavery ever have gotten abolished without the likes of John Brown and others willing to step up and take a real stand, and to fight, as was necessary? I, like Ted, feel that psychiatry is evil and harmful enough to be battled outright. Otherwise it will continue on for years and decades more on end, easily putting down wishy-washy attempts to challenge it, what with the immense power and ill-gotten respect it enjoys. I’m sorry to say but we have to be fighters if we want to see changes in our lifetime. Dismantling psychiatry may seem like an academic exercise for some, but for others it’s a matter of life and death. I think about those people and the sheer insult and injustice that psychiatry represents, the insult and injustice to our souls, to our lives, to ourselves. I am certainly anti-psychiatry in that sense, and if the field doesn’t like that, they better take a good hard look at themselves and their practices, and fix them, yesterday. Otherwise, I’m going to stand up and explain to the world how psychiatry is a shameful, ridiculous joke which needs to be abolished, and its practitioners essentially tarred & feathered (not the good ones, obv). And I’m not going to let a few pathetic hecklers crying “Scientologist!” stop me.

  • I have so little respect for the field of psychiatry as a whole, that I have no problem saying I’m anti-psychiatry. As Ted said, that doesn’t mean I hate or am even against all people who call themselves psychiatrists. However, the field was developed off of a faulty premise, and remains that way to this day, more than a century later. I have absolutely no respect for a field that is so blind and has perpetrated so many human rights abuses, and is so frankly stupid. I think that grownups can recognize the difference between being anti- actions, which is what the field represents, and anti- people. (That said, there are definitely some people in the field who deserve no respect either and should be in prison). I’m not afraid to say I’m anti-psychiatry, and I’m perfectly able and willing to explain what I mean. If people are grownup enough to listen to the whole argument, they will get it. If they are simply looking for an excuse to fling the “Scientologist” label, they are not really ‘on the level’ anyway, and arguing with them is usually a waste of time, anyway.

  • Love it, Ted! I am totally anti-psychiatry because I realize the profession was built on and continues to rest on a fraudulent house of cards! I am anti-psychiatry because I know that those going through horrible, distressing situations need REAL help and REAL respect, which is not easy to find in psychiatry nor in much of the mental health system as a whole. I am anti-psychiatry because I can’t stomach the ignorance and arrogance endemic in the field, and because human beings deserve something much better and more sensible. The corruption, the sheer blindness, and the abuses are just inexcusable. Thank you for your straight talk, as always Ted. I, like you, think we need to be much more clear, coherent, and forceful in our advocacy or we will never be heard.

  • Do these people want to drive us literally all the way insane, if we are not already there? It seems like that’s what they’re trying to achieve, with these comments. It’s like, if you’re already having severe issues and trying to stay afloat, the insane “mental health” system will finish the job and just completely obliterate you, mentally, psychologically, emotionally. If that’s not insane and sick, I don’t know what is.

  • Francesca – same here! I end up frothing as well & then just getting really depressed about it all. These idiots are too powerful & persistent. Somehow we have to organize ourselves better as well as encourage sympathetic professional organizations to SPEAK UP MORE. This nonsense should NOT still be going on in 2013!

  • Of course she buys into it, anon, it’s what the “experts” tell us ad nauseum. To not believe in it requires some serious going against the grain, some kind of experience which opens one’s eyes & keeps them open even amidst an onslaught of “information” to the contrary. There are two narratives here, one of the efficacy and power of compassion, and one of the supposed latest science of the medical model. People just truly don’t realize that the medical model is bullshit because it is not called out as bullshit often enough if ever. That’s where we need to come in. I think a lot of people saw the power of her compassion but they just don’t know what to think because science and medicine have apparently told us that they can detect differences in people’s brains or the genes which cause these ‘disorders’ (none of which is true), but if it’s framed as “official science,” people believe it.