Sunday, October 13, 2019

Comments by Steve McCrea

Showing 100 of 5380 comments. Show all.

  • I agree with you. The idea that any one intervention will help in ALL cases of “depression” or “ADHD” or whatever label psychiatry wants to toss out is the central problem. There are real, physiological problems that can affect mood and behavior, and they ought to be identified and dealt with through testing and smart interventions. I only protest when someone suggests that ALL such issues can be handled by nutrition or any other specific intervention. Everyone is different, and how they feel is a very sketchy guide for intervention. Good research and exploration is the key to finding out what is actually needed, instead of assuming that someone feeling depressed or anxious is enough information to know what to do.

  • I can’t say that, and I didn’t say that. I’m saying that no doctor can tell you that your depressed moods and experiences are due to genetics, nor can they say in general (and this is more important) that depression is always or usually due to such genetics, because they don’t know that. They’d be lying to you if they claimed that they did. YOU can make your own observations and believe as you see fit, and I totally support your right to do that for your own situation. It’s when one person starts telling another what THEY should believe that things become dangerous, especially when the person (like a doctor) has a special societal role of translating what is known scientifically for lay people. For a doctor to claim that you or anyone else is suffering from a “genetic predisposition” to depression when they have no way to know if this is true or not is not only dishonest, it should be considered malpractice. Whereas your own assessment of your own situation harms no one and hopefully helps you get a better grasp on how to help yourself to move to a better place. That’s the big difference.

  • Hey, I have never said that I “rule out” biology! I’ve always agreed that there are real biological problems that cause problems with moods and behavior. (One such problem is the adverse effects of drugs one is taking, for instance). What I have said and continue to say is that the fact that one FEELS a certain way or ACTS a certain way does not say ANYTHING about why they feel or act that way, and to suggest that simply because someone feels depressed it means they have a problem with their brains is absolutely ridiculous. It’s very much like a person having a pain in their leg and being diagnosed with “leg pain disorder” and to “treat” it by giving drugs to dull the sensation of pain. There could be 50 reasons why a person’s leg is hurting. Let’s suppose they were hit by a car, or stung by a bee, or have a piece of shrapnel in their leg. Is the pain in the leg the problem? Or is it information that leads us to investigate what is going on?

    I don’t know why it seems to be so hard for you to see this distinction. No one is denying that physical conditions can cause changes in mood or behavior. What we’re objecting to is the idea that ALL changes in mood are behavior are ALL caused by physical conditions, especially when there is absolutely NO physiological finding to support such a ridiculous assertion.

    If you want to believe that you have a genetic condition, you’re welcome to believe that. But there is no scientific evidence showing that there is any genetic basis for depression, and assuming or implying that everyone else who is depressed has a genetic or biological problem is going to be viewed as a problem by most of the people who post here.

  • I actually do think that words define our reality. For instance, if a person is kidnapped and threatened with death, and as a result has moments of intense anxiety that this might happen again, do they have an “anxiety disorder?” Or are they responding pretty normally to a violent and terrifying experience?

    I’d say it matters a lot to the victim whether you tell them that their response is a normal reaction or a “disorder” that needs to be “treated.” Having worked with a lot of traumatized people in my career, I’d say that it makes a HUGE difference to have a person think of their reaction as an understandable response to a difficult or impossible situation. The more I was able to have the person understand why they reacted the way they did, the easier it was for them to recognize that the present moment was different and that perhaps a different response in the present is a possible option. Whereas telling someone that they “have a disorder” tells them they SHOULD have reacted differently to the situation and that the fact they are upset about it is a personal failing that needs to be fixed.

    Words do matter. A lot. Especially words about who you are and what your behavior and feelings mean.

  • Dang, these guys are really making things complex!

    What’s wrong with mind-body dualism, anyway? Why would that philosophical position be outdated? I’d say the majority of the world’s cultures see the spirit and the body as being separate entities that interact with each other. This viewpoint could also have explanatory value if it is not dismissed out of hand. Without knowing what “the mind” really is, how can it be considered “disproven”?

    What needs to change is demonstrated in the article – the masquerading of philosophy (such as ethics, epistemology, etc.) as scientific inquiry. Asserting materialistic philosophy as established “truth” does not do science any favors. It’s best to acknowledge when the unknown is unknown, instead of calling a viewpoint “outdated” because it isn’t currently fashionable.

  • This is true, of course. Medical care is the third leading cause of death in the USA. But I consider it even more egregious when the “conditions” being “treated” aren’t even objectively definable, and actually represent social assumptions and biases rather than medical conditions. It’s bad enough we have to trust doctors to treat actual illnesses. I sure don’t want them “treating” my emotions and thoughts!

  • Let’s get rid of the “mental health” language here!

    How about: “Survivors’ reality is badly messed with when people don’t believe them.”

    Or: “Survivors of sexual abuse find it invalidating, infuriating, and depressing when people pretend that what happened to them wasn’t real.”

    Or: “Denying the reality of sexual abuse survivors is another form of abuse.”

    It doesn’t “affect the mental health” of abuse survivors. It attacks them directly and undermines their safety and sense of reality, and it does so intentionally. It is normal to be pissed and confused and self-blaming after someone abuses you, and even more so when those entrusted to protect you protect your abusers instead.

  • How would we react if our doctor told us, “Well, I can’t say for certain what’s wrong, but we think you have a little tiredness disorder, plus a rashy skin disorder and an insomnia disorder plus a headache disorder and a right leg numbness disorder. We have a drug for each of those conditions, but it won’t cure them. It might keep the symptoms under control, but the drugs will make you gain weight and possibly raise your risk of early death through heart disease and/or diabetes. And we still don’t really know what’s causing all of this.”

    I think we’d all realize we were visiting a charlatan.

  • The burden of proof is always on the person supporting the hypothesis. So one can say a hypothesis can’t ever be proven absolutely, because there is always the possibility of new data having to be incorporated into a system. Even Newtonian Mechanics, the ultimate in a set of certain laws of the universe, had to be modified eventually due to relativity and quantum mechanics.

    But science is actually very capable of disproving things. All that’s needed is for the theory to predict something that doesn’t appear to be true in reality. For instance, if there is a claim that “low serotonin causes depression,” it would follow at a minimum that all people who are seriously depressed will have low levels of serotonin compared to normal. That isn’t sufficient to prove it, because of course low serotonin could be an effect rather than a cause, or simply a co-occuring phenomenon that has no relationship to depression. But if depressed people DON’T have lower serotonin on the average than non-depressed people, the theory is shown to be false, because the results conflict with the hypothesis. And in fact, this is the case. People who are depressed don’t always have low levels of serotonin, and people with low levels of serotonin aren’t always depressed. Moreover, increasing serotonin levels doesn’t consistently improve depression, and many “antidepressants” don’t even attack the serotonin system.

    So yes, the theory of low serotonin causing depression has been convincingly disproven. We know it is not true. It isn’t just a lack of data – the data show that that hypothesis does not predict realty, and is therefore false. Similar arguments can be shown for the high dopamine theory of psychosis, and the low dopamine theory of ADHD. The idea that “mental illnesses” are caused by “chemical imbalances” can’t entirely be disproven, but in every case where a concrete hypothesis has been put forward, it has been disproven.

  • I agree with you. I’m not sure whether I was responding to you or just to the topic in general. I think it’s important not to generalize about how to handle specific manifestations as if they all require the same handling. I actually think that point is quite consistent with yours, as the nature and meaning of voice hearing could also be very different depending on the person in question.

  • I tend to agree. There are other forces not obvious to the doctor-patient relationship that act to make it more difficult to avoid psychiatric “treatment” even in the absence of overt force. For instance, doctors are pressured from insurance companies and their own organizations, as are counselors and therapists, potential patients are pressured by friends, family, workplace, schools put pressure on parents to psychiatrically “treat” their kids, the news media makes it seem like people are foolish for not “taking their meds” as prescribed, movies and TV shows dramatize again and again how those who “don’t take their meds” deteriorate and become dangerous, and yet are magically fixed when they are back “on their meds.” Maybe it’s not “force” but “social coercion,” but there are a lot of people on these drugs against their own better judgement, or lacking any kind of informed consent, who were not ordered by the courts to take them. Lying to people can be a form of coercion if the lies create fear that the person will be damaged or do something dangerous if they don’t comply with the doctor’s “suggestions.”

  • It seems this is where we disagree. If I want to challenge someone regarding psychiatry, it’s not the time pr place to speak out against Scientology, because I see it playing into the hands of the person trying to avoid the question.

    Now if a person GENUINELY thinks that all antpsychiatry activity is started or supported by Scientologists, that’s an opportunity for education. Very different in my mind from a blatant effort to intentionally deflect attention away from a critique of psychiatry by implying that anyone taking such a stance must be irrational and unscientific.

    Anyway, as I said, we can respectfully disagree on this point. I don’t see much point in continuing the discussion, as we’ve both made our positions and arguments clear. People can consider either one and do what works for them.

    Another clever approach was suggested by another poster: “Actually, I’m a Buddhist. What about you? Now that we’re done with talking about religion, let’s get back to talking about psychiatry.”

  • BTW, do you really think that most of the psychiatric profession is asking protesters about Scientology because they are concerned it is a “dangerous cult” and don’t want to interact with it? Or do you think they
    are using a preexisting social reality/fear to manipulate people into thinking that anyone who opposes psychiatry is only acting out of the dogmatic insistence of Scientology’s leadership? I personally doubt very much that any psychiatrist actually has such a concern or would be in the slightest degree reassured if you told them you were not. It seems to me that the goal is to tarnish all resistance with the brush of irrationality, and my preferred response is not to allow that goal to be put forward unchallenged. Because people are easily manipulated by innuendo.

  • That’s my position as well. Social control should be named what it is. It’s not “treatment” of “mental health issues.” It’s an attempt to control “deviant” or “undesirable” behavior from the point of view of the status quo. Naturally, it’s a very slippery slope when we start reframing “He’s doing something that annoys his neighbors and should be stopped” as “He’s got a ‘mental disease’ MAKING him do something annoying and heneeds to be ‘treated.'” Again, what is “deviant” is defined socially, not medically, and it’s a pretty big scam to pretend otherwise.

  • I am never arguing for any kind of “broken brain” theory. I am saying that there ARE brain problems, which are handled by neurology or some other actual medical specialty. I was trying to explain within Rassel’s context of materialism why “mental illness” still does not make sense as a medical problem. I’m not a materialist by any stretch of the imagination!

  • Well, that could work just fine, but it still leaves you potentially vulnerable to someone changing the topic to how bad Scientologists are or how “most” opponents “are Scientologists” even if you are not. It is an attempt at distraction, whether they are accusing you of being a Scientologist or a Zoroastrianist or a Communist or a Nazi. I think the best approach is not to take the bait. But I know we will respectfully disagree on this point.

  • I don’t think anyone here doesn’t believe that a brain can malfunction. I don’t agree that a brain malfunction is the only thing that can be behind someone being violent or depressed or whatever. It sounds like you believe the brain creates the mind and therefore HAS to be responsible for any actions that occur. I don’t see it that way – I see the mind as being the mechanism for controlling the brain, at the minimum an “emergent property” that extends beyond the mechanism that created it. I also hold the strong possibility that we are spiritual entities that are responsible for our bodies, though it is difficult to prove or disprove this kind of premise. In any case, it is pretty clear from direct observation that the mind can and does control most aspects of the brain. Even the revered PET scans show that when someone simply THINKS something different, the PET scan changes. For instance, someone can think of a sad event and their brain shifts gears into a “sad” profile, and shifts back when they think of something that isn’t sad. This belies the idea that feelings “just happen” because our brains are bad.

    Even if we accept the premise that it’s all in the physical universe, there is still the “computer model” to consider. While I don’t believe that the human brain is much like a computer really, it is fair to suggest that we have “hardware” and “software” operating, in the sense that there are physiological structures that are used while thinking and making decisions and emoting, but there are also “programs” in the sense that we make MEANING out of things and we make decisions based on values that are programmed in starting early in life.

    Using this metaphor/analogy, what if the problem is not in the hardware, but in the programming? You can’t solve a programming problem by replacing memory chips or rerouting the power supply. The program is contained within the chips, and really consists only of on/off switches. It is only because the programmer assigns MEANING to the switches that the computer works at all. It seems to me that what is wrong with the “mind” most of the time is faulty programming, or perhaps more accurately programming that doesn’t create the desired result from a social perspective. Of course, then we get into the question of who gets to decide what the “desired result” is, which is a whole different question. However, it is likely that those who are violent have, in most cases, grown up with and/or developed value systems in which murdering people is not wrong or is justifiable under certain circumstances. This is something that can not ever be improved by physiological intervention.

    So the catch-all of “mental illness” does not necessarily imply any kind of problem in physiology, even if you take a strict materialist point of view, any more than a computer malfunction has to be a function of the hardware. The vast majority of computer problems are programming issues, and the same analogy almost certainly holds true for “mental illnesses” as identified by the committee-driven DSM.

  • Actually, even allowing the discussion of whether antipsychiatry and Scientology are the same or not still gives in to the tactic. When we were at the APA protest in Philadelphia, a psychiatrist said she’d talk with us, but wanted to know if we were Scientologists. We shouted her down, saying, “Oh, no, you’re not pulling that crap! We’re here to talk about psychiatry, not religion!” And various statements of that order. The topic of Scientology vs. antipsychiatry was never breached, because she understood we were not willing to play that game with her.

  • Psychiatry claims to be helping with “mental health problems.” We are seeing a VAST increase in the use of psychiatric “treatments” (especially drugs), and yet we’re seeing a steady worsening of the “mental health problems” that these “treatments” are supposed to solve. Isn’t it psychiatry’s job to address these “worsening conditions of society” through their helpful interventions? Doesn’t seem to be working too well, does it?

    And this trend is seen to happen again and again in countries where drugs and the “treatments” are introduced – more and more people on disability and unable to participate in normal social interactions and expectations. What exactly is psychiatry claiming to be doing about these societal problems? It seems at best to be drugging the brains and bodies of those harmed by these societal woes, and at the same time denying (through their claims of physical causality) that there is any connection whatsoever between the suffering experienced and the social issues that you have identified. In all likelihood, psychiatry as practiced is not helping, but in fact making those conditions worse by providing a handy way to blame and silence the victims of our post-industrial society’s insanities and adding to that insanity by its stigmatizing labels and “treatments” for “disorders” that are voted into existence by committees.

    If mental health problems are caused or exacerbated by social conditions, what exactly does psychiatry propose to do about them, Stevie? Maybe start by discontinuing the blaming of people’s “malfunctioning brains” for their suffering?

    Of course, the bitter irony of you blaming psychiatrists’ high suicide rates on social conditions while the profession blames their clients’ genetics is not lost on anyone reading your comment.

  • It comes from a fear of how others who don’t understand may characterize you. Depending what position one is in, it might make sense not to advertise it. But I don’t think it’s something one needs to defend or explain. It’s the psychiatrists who need to do the explaining. But they are way too often let off the hook by people buying into these rhetorical tactics.

  • I call it the Ad Homenem Attack, based on ancient Greek definitions of rhetorical techniques. The Greeks recognized that attacking the character of the person involved through generalization or implication is a tactic relied on when someone is lacking a logical argument. Ad Hominem means an attack “on the person” rather than on the subject or the argument or the data.

    My usual retort to such an effort is, “Why are you talking about religion/philosophy/(whatever they’re using to distract) when I was talking about scientific facts? Is it possible that you don’t really have a counter argument and are resorting instead to trying to attack my character due to the weakness of your argument?” This immediately shifts the discussion back to the topic at hand and identifies the tactic to the listener. If the person continues the attack, it’s easy to say, “Well, I guess we know who has data to back up their argument and who doesn’t. Come back when you have some actual science to share with the audience.”

    The biggest mistake people make is trying to prove they are NOT “antipsychiatry” or “a Scientologist” or whatever. As soon as you take that bait, they have won, because now the topic is your credibility instead of the data you’ve presented.

    That’s my take on it, anyway. I know not everyone agrees with this.

  • Not only because of, but in support of the demonization of Scientologists, antipsychiatrists, or anybody who threatens their control of the market. The idea that people who oppose psychiatry are anti-scientific, biased and/or irrational is a PRODUCT that has been SOLD by the psychiatric industry in order to deflect criticism. Robert is quite clear about this in Anatomy, where he outlines how the psych profession collaborated with Time Magazine to do a cover hit piece that established and connected any resistance to psychiatric hegemony to irrationality and self-serving bias. To suggest he doesn’t understand this suggests that perhaps a person might need to reread Anatomy again, because they’re forgetting what RW has said about this very subject.

  • Scientific theories are not based on “popularity,” or should not be. The general exception to psychiatry is not that one of its theories got shot down, but that the entire edifice is based on false scientific premises, namely that one can group behaviors together and define “illnesses” based on checklists of behavioral characteristics, all of which might exist in people who might have little to nothing in common except for certain aspects of their external presentation. There are actually diagnoses where people could literally have NO criteria in common and still both have the same “diagnosis.” Additionally, psychiatrists have been chronically resistant to actual data that contradicts their theories. The “chemical imbalance” theory was essentially disproven in the late 80s, and yet continues to be perpetuated to this day by many claiming “scientific basis” for these DSM “disorders.”

    I would not have an objection to an honest science of the brain, as long as it adhered to basic scientific processes and assumptions and admitted to error when conflicting data shot down a theory. Oh, but there already is such a science – it’s called neurology!

  • It sounds like you are defining “mental illness” as any condition that results in people behaving in dangerous or destructive ways. Do you really see these behaviors as “illnesses” in the medical sense? Do you believe that something is physiologically wrong with someone who does these things, and that this explains fully why they do so? Or are you simply stating that these people may meet the “criteria for mental illness” as defined by the DSM, which we all know is something decided on in committees and voted on by the APA, rather than detected by any legitimate test of “health” or “illness?”

    If it is the latter, then claims that all shooters are “mentally ill” is pretty meaningless, as it seems to be defined simply as behavior that a society disapproves of.

  • I agree, and that was actually my point. It’s not “fragile” to need and want safety and agency in one’s life. It’s a normal part of being human. What is abnormal and unfortunate is when humans intentionally take away other humans’ safety and agency in order to profit or dominate others. We should, indeed, be focused on stopping abusers instead of accusing their victims of “fragility.”

  • I agree with this thinking 100%. The primary error in the DSM is the assumption that all depressed people are the same, all anxious people are the same, all hallucinating people are the same… these assumptions are absolutely not true, and there is no reason to suspect they would be. Some people who are depressed love meditation! Others find it completely useless or damaging. Same with CBT, regressive therapies, micronutrients, etc. Every person’s needs are different, and what will help is different, too. There is nothing to suggest that all depressed people will be helped by the same approach.

  • “Working well” is the key phrase here. The vast majority of conventional systems do not “work well” for the majority of those exposed to them. The WHO cross-cultural studies bear this out. A person who hears voices is far better off (in terms of effective help) living in Brazil or Nigeria than in the USA or Great Britain.

  • They are both important. You focus on getting good sleep, eating well, working with supportive providers to address any possible physiological problems. But you make sure that they have a real way to TEST for these problems, rather than just telling you that you “have a disorder” because you meet some biological checklist of criteria voted on in some meeting at the APA convention. AND you focus on environmental factors, managing stress, deciding on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, creating the kind of life you want, staying away from destructive people, etc. AND you focus on social things – connecting with other people, making sure you are engaged in productive activity that has meaning for you, etc. They are all important. The problem with the DSM is that it ASSUMES biological cause without testing it out, and at the same time minimizes the impact of the psychological, social and spiritual issues that create most of the “mental health” issues that are “diagnosed.” I say this as a person who used to be VERY anxious much of the time, who had frequent thoughts of suicide when under stress, who was tremendously shy and isolated as a child with really limited social skills. But now I’m very easy to talk with, have excellent social skills in most situations, am willing to engage with total strangers, have learned how to have difficult conversations with hostile people – LOTS of things that I could never do before. Do I get anxious sometimes? Sure. Depressed? Absolutely. But I know what to do about it now, and I don’t get stuck there.

    I managed all of this with no “treatment” except for 15 months of weekly therapy in my 20s. The rest I learned by reading and sharing with others and by challenging myself to do things I was scared of through my employment and my drive to improve myself. I have learned that lack of sleep leads me to being more depressed and anxious. That’s biological. But I don’t need a drug, I need SLEEP! And when I get it, I find it easier to deal with stress. It doesn’t cure it, but it makes it easier.

    So I do believe it’s all of the above, but I don’t believe, based on research and observation and stories from others, that the psychiatrists have the slightest idea what might be “biologically” wrong with someone who is anxious or depressed or whatever, if anything. Their claims about ‘chemical imbalances’ are outright lies, and some (like Ron Pies) admit that this is the case. Yet they still try to tell you it’s all because of your “bad brain.” I see the system as being corrupt and misleading and very destructive. Each of us has to come up with our own approach that works for us. Any therapy or other help should be focused on helping YOU find YOUR path rather than telling you what they think is wrong with you and providing false explanations in order to sell drugs.

  • I have no problem with that framing. The problem is that the DSM categories have nothing to do with biology – literally NOTHING AT ALL to do with biology. If you have a thyroid problem, or anemia, or syphilis, you’d better get medical treatment! But that has zero correlation with any DSM category – they are real medical problems that are treatable, unlike the DSM labels. Other issues like food, sleep, exercise, physical pain, all can contribute to feeling bad or being confused or whatever. Those are biological. “Depression” is not biological, “Anxiety disorders” are not biological. They are catchall phrases made up for lazy clinicians who don’t want to bother to actually figure out what’s going on.

  • I have done this, actually. Just heard back from the guy today. He’s doing a lot, a lot better than when I started, but it’s taken years. He was in and out of “hospitalization” and on lots of drugs, now has worked for a year plus in construction, is studying, is able to communicate effectively with others, not using, has made amends to a number of people he’s hurt… still on a very low dose of “antipsychotics” to stave off withdrawal, but tapering gradually. I had no professional relationships with this guy. He was a friend of my oldest son, but everyone had disconnected from him and I was the only one who believed in him.

    So yeah, it happened.

  • I’m not sure I see the similarities you mention. As I understand it, Scientology is based on the idea that we are spiritual beings being held back by physical and emotional pain, and that the answer is reexperiencing this pain to release it. It seemed very individualistic as I have read about it. That’s my understanding, correct me if I’m wrong about that. I’m unaware of any kind of family approach, and there was no talk about “different internal voices” or a lot of talk about “different parts” of people and so on as Schwartz seems to go on about. I don’t really see what is so similar about them. Do you have any specifics?

  • I think you hit the key point – people can label themselves whatever they want, and more power to them. But when credentialed doctors who have the trust of their patients and the general public start promoting “theories” they know to be wrong or speculative as if they are certain and settled science, they are being extremely unethical. And when their clients are concretely harmed by such deception, they have moved from unethical to criminal behavior.