Monday, April 24, 2017

Comments by Steve McCrea

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  • And most of the rest by chronic psychological pain, for the most part as a result of traumatization or unrelenting stress. Depression is a natural reaction to feeling trapped in an untenable situation and having (or perceiving) no ability to escape. Address the pain, find another way to move from the apparent trap, and suicide no longer seems like an appealing option. Unfortunately, psychiatry does the opposite – tells you that you have no control and the only hope is to keep things “less miserable” through their drugs. They are purveyors of hopelessness for the most part.

  • This has no bearing on your insulting remarks above. Accusing people of being “fakes” is the problem. I expect an apology to all the people whose suffering you have minimized or ridiculed because you don’t agree with how they handled it. Accusing people of fakery is absolutely not acceptable, a violation of ANY community’s standards for posting if they have any standards at all.

    Think about THAT, Pat!

  • This is not a “beat down.” You are directly insulting people who suffer from similar problems to your own and claiming they are not “really” suffering because they had different experiences than you did. That is disrespectful and hateful behavior in ANY context. I never gave you a “beat down” for your opinions and have ALWAYS respected your own experience as finding the drugs a positive for you personally, and have only argued that you can’t assume that because you personally had that experience, it meant there was scientific proof that your or anyone else’s brain was faulty. You can call that a “beat down” if you want, but I have NEVER suggested that your own experiences and suffering were not legitimate just because you didn’t agree with me! That is absolutely outrageous behavior, and I believe you owe an apology to others on this site who have suffered similar experiences to you but chosen different paths to healing/recovery or whatever word you want to call it.

    There are people here who have been to hell and back several times over and you have NO IDEA the severity of their suffering, but choose to arrogantly assume that “real mentally ill” people could never have “recovered” without drugs, despite my even providing you with some very cogent public examples of people who have.

    You are entitled to your beliefs, but you’re not entitled to insult people with impunity. And you’re not entitled to accuse me of “beating you down” when I step in to defend the folks you so blithely consigned to “fake suffering” status just because you want to protect your own ego.

    —- Steve

  • This all reminds me of the movie, “What About Bob?”, where the psychiatrist (Leo) behaves in a more and more crazy fashion while his client, Bob, gets more and more rational. In the end, he attempts to murder Bob, but calls it “Death Therapy” – “It’s a sure cure!”

    What is wrong with these people??????? It would be funny if it weren’t really happening!

  • “Mimic the real thing?” Now you have gone too far. How do you know what the people writing here have suffered and how do you dare insult them by suggesting their suffering isn’t real???? How would you feel if someone minimized your suffering and suggested it wasn’t bad enough to be real? Just because others find different solutions than you have doesn’t make them wrong and you right. I strongly suggest you take a big dose of humble pie before you post again! BTW, I am reporting your post as a violation of the posting rules, and I am hoping it will be removed, but in any case, your insensitivity is hurtful to others who have worked hard to get where they are, even if they traveled a different path than you chose.

    — Steve

  • It’s not because stories about domestic abusers are boring. It’s because these stories challenge the powerful and empower the victims. Whereas blaming the “mentally ill” blame the powerless and protect those in control. Domestic abuse is symbolic of the dominance model that most of our Western institutions are organized around, including Psychiatry.

  • I especially agree about the “don’t blame the family” meme. Sometimes, in fact often, the family is a BIG contributor to any of the “mental health diagnoses” that the psychiatric profession has manufactured in order to eliminate the hard work of figuring out what would really be helpful. The Authorities are always spared and the weakest and most vulnerable always blamed. Unless that dynamic changes, there is no “healing” going to happen.

  • In other news, scientists have discovered that striking people in the head with a hammer repeatedly leads to both head pain and cognitive decline. It is unclear whether this is due to the particular kind of hammer used or a genetic vulnerability to hammer strikes, or perhaps simply the course of sore head disease causing the deterioration.

    — Steve

  • Seriously, the problem isn’t that some people have privilege and others don’t, it’s that the entire capitalist system is based on the powerful keeping the powerless in their place. Sure, some are lower on the hillside than others and get more shit dumped on them, but the problem is people dumping their shit on people below them. Readjusting and having some with less “privilege” get higher up the hill so they can have someone to dump on really doesn’t change the dumping system in the least.

  • I don’t agree that a drug “working” is evidence of a medical problem with neurotransmitters or anything else. Alcohol is widely used as an anxiety-reducing drug, and is very effective for that purpose. Does that mean everyone who takes a drink or two to relax has a medical problem? Coffee is a stimulant that helps increase alertness, especially if sleep is somewhat lacking. Do people have to have a neurotransmitter problem for coffee to keep them awake? You can’t use reaction to a drug as evidence of a medical problem.

    It should also be noted that changes in brain chemistry and PET scans happen when people talk to someone about their issues, or even when they change what image they are thinking of. Brain chemistry is very fluid and changeable. The idea that there are such things as “neurochemical deficits” is pretty much delusional.

    — Steve

  • Hmm…. I didn’t really find anything about Dewey supporting whole-word reading. I believe that is a much more recent development. But the entire school system has always been geared toward creating an authoritarian society, whether “Socialist” or “Fascist” in philosophy, even before Dewey. Consider the history of “black schools” and Indian schools – they were clearly designed with cultural re-education in mind. Again, a technique used by both the right and left political wings, though with different justifications. The dysfunction in the educational system most definitely predated Dewey, though I have never been a Dewey fan, as I consider him to be a manipulative authoritarian slimebag.

  • Genetic variation is the key to species survival. It is only our weird society that requires certain variations to be eliminated for the benefit of those in control.

    Besides which, there is no evidence to support a general conclusion of a “dopamine dysregulation” in all or most “ADHD”-diagnosed children. I’m open to hearing something to the contrary, but I’m very familiar with the literature on the subject and know of nothing supporting that other than a few odd studies which have never been duplicated.

    And why would we expect to see that all or even most kids that act a certain way have something “wrong” with them, or the same thing “wrong” with them? It is not a logical conclusion that you can diagnose a physiological problem from behavior. Kids act hyper for tons of documented reasons – chaotic families, trauma histories, boredom,lack of sleep, malnutrition, iron deficiency, sleep apnea, certain drug reactions, the list goes on and on… It is ludicrous that you can tell that someone’s brain is malfunctioning based solely on a somewhat arbitrary collection of behavioral indicators, all of which can be summed up as behavior that makes it inconvenient to have this kid in a classroom or to parent them.

    I say this as the parent of two “ADHD” type kids who turned out to be very productive adult citizens without a milligram of stimulant drugs. If you feel these things help you out, by all means, use them, but don’t make out that all kids who don’t like to pay attention to boring lectures or follow adult directions are in some way diseased or disordered. There is simply insufficient evidence to even vaguely support such a notion.

    — Steve

  • Your observations are quite accurate, but I would question blaming “the Left” for this state of affairs. I grew up in the 60s, when “the Right” was running the schools, and it was just as oppressive, though in different ways. Boys were expected to wear boy clothing and be aggressive and go out for football and not cry, and girls were expected to wear skirts and take Home Ec and only go to college to get a husband. But kids were humiliated and shamed and sometimes hit and had zero power.

    The problem is not “the Left” or “the Right” but AUTHORITARIANISM from either end of the spectrum. The idea that we can take kids and put them through some kind of grinder and have them all come out the same is the core problem. Whether it is right-wing authoritarianism, enforced through violence, fear and shame, or left-wing authoritarianism, enforced through fake sympathy and drugs, the effort to make everyone comply with the status quo is the problem with our public schools. And that problem is part of the design – if you read back when public schooling was invented, the effort was to create “good citizens” out of freed black slaves and a large influx of immigrants from Ireland, southern Europe, and Asia, whom the powers that be were worried might decide to become rebellious and take power from the ruling elite. “Good citizen” meant someone who could read and write and who followed the rules and was prepared to be a factory drone in the new industrial America.

    So it’s not about left or right. It’s about authoritarian vs. individual freedom, and putting right-wing authoritarians in who want to bring back prayer and corporal punishment will not make things better for our kids or our society.

    — Steve

  • I am amazed that even the initial research gets so much press and excitement! Even if the findings were true (and I am not the least surprised that they aren’t), all it shows is that a certain small percentage of sufferers may have a certain genetic pattern. The genetic pattern doesn’t occur in all depressed people, nor do all people with the pattern get depressed. So what the fuck? Who cares? And now, shockingly, we find that the link so celebrated is not even valid! Why don’t we just accept that we can’t change genetics, no matter how much or little they are involved, and focus on changing the environmental variables (food, sleep, chronic stress, trauma, etc.) that we actually have some control over?????

  • I have known a ton of therapists and psychiatrists who practiced for years while fully qualifying for a “mental illness” diagnosis. Anxious, depressed, delusional, emotionally unstable – all the labels they throw at their “clients.” There is ZERO accountability until something horrible happens. It seems very clear to me that these “peers” will be held to a much higher standard, based on pre-judgment and bias against their role and them as persons. I find it offensive to assume that “peers” have “mental health issues” and assume that the “real professionals” don’t!

  • I think what it reflects is the bias of the investigators, who claim that “ADHD” diagnosed kids have smaller brains (however unsupportable that claim) and yet intentionally buries the data that these supposedly “smaller-brained” individuals appeared to have higher IQs. The higher IQ point is less important than the fact they chose not to comment on it when it didn’t support their thesis.

  • That’s a very interesting point! I do think part of the reason for a therapist not disclosing too much is supposed to be so the client can kind of project his/her own feelings/needs/expectations onto the therapist without worrying how the therapist is actually feeling about it. That’s kind of a “Freudian” concept, but my therapist seemed to use that approach to some degree. I do find that it’s a balancing act – I don’t want the person I’m talking to to worry about my reactions, but knowing what they are worried about is important to knowing where to go with the person. I have found that honesty is very important, but don’t share details unless they seem relevant to the person I’m trying to help. Sometimes it’s really good for the client to know that I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts because it makes him/her feel like s/he’s not alone or weird. In other cases, it seems more important to just listen to the client’s story and not tell anything at all about me. I just have to gauge it for each individual.

    Class I am sure is a huge variable, one that is very far beyond the scope of my understanding. I do think a history of trauma IS helpful, but ONLY if the therapist has done his/her work and can use it as a tool of understanding rather than using therapy as a way of working out his/her own issues on the client.

    So I think you’re right – it helps a lot to trust the therapist if they can share some personal information, but at the same time, it’s very important not to set up a situation where the client needs to “take care” of the therapist. The therapist does seem to need to have some “elevation” or “authority,” but I found that a big part of my job was to step down from that authority position and help the other person re-tool his/her relationship with authority figures in general. It’s a weird role and one that I don’t think you can really train someone to assume. It requires a lot of tolerance of ambiguity, both in terms of roles and in terms of emotions. That’s my experience, anyway.

    Thanks for the response!

    — Steve

  • Getting “peer specialists” “out of the way” seems to be the point of this. If they won’t be handmaidens to the “authorities,” they have to be bumped off. And Lord help us the “peer” should have any kind of “mental health issues!” Do psychiatrists and psychologists have similar requirements to resign or go on leave when they “have issues?” Are the authors unaware that psychiatrists are at the top of the charts for professionals who commit suicide?

    Unbelievable! Or I wish it were unbelievable…

    — Steve

  • I have been a therapist in the past, and without being egotistical, I have had great feedback from those I have helped. My main thrust was to a) listen very carefully to what the other person shared, trying to help them shape and frame exactly what the problem was from their perspective, b) asking questions to help get at how/why the person came to look at things from the perspective they did (for instance, a woman had never left her kids with a babysitter in 5 years; she shared that she was worried they’d be molested; not surprisingly, she had been molested by a babysitter…), and c) help them generate some other things they might try that would help them look at the problem differently. My caution was always to make sure I did nothing that was focused on making myself feel better – I had to be able to sit comfortably with their pain and NOT try to make it go away just because it was hard for me to hear – but to put all the focus on helping the other person feel safe and confident enough to gain some perspective on his/her situation, normalize and understand how/why they got there and maybe consider thinking/acting in a different way that might help them move forward. Sometimes it meant going back and hearing about some rough stuff that happened in the past, sometimes it meant working out some new things to try out in the present, sometimes it meant looking at new ways of thinking about things that have plagued the person in the past – it all depended on who the person was and what they seemed to need and how they responded to me. Everyone’s “therapy” was different and pretty much invented on the fly as I found out more about them. I never assumed I knew ANYTHING about a client that they had not told me themselves.

    As for honesty, I never hesitated to share personal things with someone coming to me for help IF I thought it would help that person find a new perspective or feel more OK about their decisions in the past. I found it important to be very real and warm and present and this idea that “boundaries” meant being somehow distant or “clinical” always seemed totally wrong to me. Boundaries, for me, meant not putting my crap on the person I was working with, and not taking on their issues as my own so I “had to solve” their dilemmas. I think the most important point was simply being willing to hear their story without making any judgments and being genuinely empathetic to their situation so I could see things from their perspective.

    Of course, I had one huge advantage in being a therapist – I had never had any training in therapy at all! I figured out how to help almost 100% from the clients themselves, who often talked about what other therapists had done that was or wasn’t helpful, and whose reactions and perspectives taught me everything I know about how to be helpful. I wonder if being “trained” would have ruined me?

    — Steve

  • I certainly don’t mean to minimize the incredible damage done by the drugs! What I’m trying to say is that while some experience horrible drug effects and some don’t, the labeling process harms almost everyone who comes in contact with it, and is in fact a large part of how and why they are able to convince their clients to take the drugs they offer. If they really told you, “We don’t know what is going on, but this drug may or may not make you feel temporarily better,” a lot more people would just say “NO” or would contemplate other options for the longer term. The drugs are horrible, horrible abominations, but they would be much less of a problem if the diagnosis and labeling process could be dropped. Additionally, the labeling process invalidates each person’s own knowledge and certainty of what is going on and what might help, and encourages dependence on doctors, which of course helps them to peddle their evil pharmaceutical wares more effectively.

  • Exactly my thought. Why do they have such a need to find these spurious “links?” Even if they found a gene that “influenced” depression, so what? First off, these studies show probability correlations, so it’s quite possible that even with such a link, most depressed people still won’t have the gene in question. Second, what would you do if you found it was true? Splice in a new gene? Feel sorry for the person? Give them more Prozac? There is no real solution that would be rendered even if they find some small percentage of people with a gene that “makes them more vulnerable” to depression.

    Last but not least, if such a gene exists, is it not possible that it is also linked to other positive characteristics like empathy or thoughtfulness toward others? The idea that a gene influences one and only one trait is ridiculous when considering emotional variables.

    Instead of wasting time finding one gene that affects only a percentage of depressed people who are exposed to stress, why not spend our time and money trying to reduce the stresses that might trigger such theoretical vulnerabilities? Why not focus on something we actually have some control over, instead of spending billions trying to find some gene that we don’t really understand and couldn’t change if we wanted to?

    — Steve

  • This is the core problem with the psychiatric model. It’s not the drugs, it’s the MESSAGE that comes along with them – you are permanently faulty, and you personally can do NOTHING to change it. You are doomed to a life of dependency and half-living, never capable of moving beyond because your had the bad luck to be born with an inadequate brain. The message of hopelessness is far worse than any drug side effects, if the poor patient buys into it.

    I would have a lot less trouble with someone saying, “You feel like crap right now. A lot of people have similar experiences, and there is nothing wrong with them. I can provide you with a drug that might blunt those feelings a big while we work on another plan.” That’s at least an honest assessment of what the “doctor” can actually offer. But to say “you have a lifelong disability and will have to take drugs for the rest of your life” – well, if you weren’t depressed before hearing this, you sure would be afterwards!

    Thanks for a very direct and compassionate description of what is really needed – HOPE!

    — Steve

  • It is hard to imagine neuroscience fully or even mostly supporting the psychiatric worldview, primarily because the “diagnoses” they have promoted have no actual connection to any physiological reality, and as such, the “groups” they are purporting to study are almost completely heterogeneous. It is quite possible that SOME members of a particular group may have some kind of genetic or physiological problem causing their “mental” difficulties (such as porphyria) , but these would only be a small proportion of the whole and might even span a number of different “diagnoses.” Medicine can’t even find genetic causes for obviously physiological things like heart attacks – what is the likelihood that such causes would ever exist for such a nebulous and subjective category as “depression” or “anxiety disorders?”

  • I agree, psychiatry as practiced is a form of spiritual abuse. It insists that you believe in a set of dogma and punishes you if you don’t. It involves a set of “scriptures” which are not something that can be questioned. It is authoritarian – the “parishioners” have no say in the rules, and even the higher authorities (the psychiatrists) have no power to question the rules set by THEIR superiors, and they are attacked or shunned if they challenge the dogma of the group. All they are missing in being a solid cult is a single charismatic leader. They also invalidate any effort of the “parishioners” to empower themselves, and in fact are able and willing to use force to gain “membership.” I think the analogy is pretty complete.

  • I agree 100%! If someone (like a certain political figure) is an evil bastard, let’s call him that and not give him the “out” of a “mental illness” (especially since all of those “mental illnesses” are made up anyway!)

  • I like “labeled with X” as a way of describing the reality without buying into it. “X”, of course, always in quotation marks. Sometimes I even add “so-called” in front of the quotes to make sure no one is misinterpreting.

  • I usually say “emotional distress” rather than “mental,” but it is a shame that the term “mental” has been so co-opted by the current system. As soon as one says “mental,” people either think “mentally retarded” or “chemical imbalance.” Sad, but that seems to be where our culture has moved.

  • SO the long and the short of it is, it is always a very bad idea to assume that ALL cases of “mental illness” or a particular “diagnosis” are caused by the same thing or require the same kind of intervention. Even the DSM admits as much: “There is also no assumption that all persons qualifying for the same disorder are alike in all important ways.” (From the intro of the DSM IV) That’s the real problem with psych diagnosis – it is based literally on NOTHING except a set of social assumptions and biases about a certain set of behaviors. The idea that we can “diagnose” a particular problem simply by looking at how a person is acting or feeling. To postulate that all “eating disorders” are caused by sexual abuse is dumb; to assume that all “eating disorders” are caused by nutritional problems is equally dumb. Everybody is different!

  • Yeah, I wonder if the “savages” had any “mental health consequences” of surviving genocide? Perhaps if they were able to return to their original healthy diet, their accommodation to the dominance of the violent European culture and over a century of intentional suppression of their culture and way of life would be much simpler, eh?

    — Steve

  • So you really are saying that all “mental illness” is caused by poor nutrition? Can you PLEASE answer that question with a simple YES or NO?

    As for “what is the proof of that?”, I think the ACES study by itself is absolute proof that early childhood stress and trauma is a causal factor not only in “mental health” problems as defined in the DSM, but also in a wide array of physical health problems. It seems absurd to suggest that a person being abused by his/her parents systematically and then being removed and put into multiple foster homes while separating him from his siblings and other relatives would not cause anxiety/depression/anger issues, not as “disease states” or nutritional deficiencies, but as very normal reactions to very abnormal childhood circumstances. To deny that these circumstances substantially affect kids’ emotional well-being, mood, and ways of thinking seems just plain ridiculous.

    I think you risk substituting nutritional dogma for psychiatric dogma. Again, I agree 100% that nutrition is massively ignored in both psychiatry and general medicine as both cause and treatment of a wide variety of conditions, and that SOME conditions will resolve with nutritional interventions (and in some cases ONLY by nutritional interventions), but it is a very, very large leap to move from there to saying that all “mental distress” is caused primarily or only by nutritional deficiencies, as if how you were raised or the social conditions that affect you are irrelevant. I think it would be insulting to the vast majority of my foster youth clients to suggest that all they need to do is eat better to overcome 15-20 years of abuse and neglect by their parents and the system.

    —- Steve

  • Nobody is saying you are wrong, just that there is more to the picture than ONLY nutrition. It is misleading to tell someone who was raped by his dad repeatedly for 15 years and whose mother didn’t protect her and who later got into an abusive relationship because this guy put her on a pedestal at first and she had no way to screen his behavior for abuse that if she just ate better and got some exercise, all of that past trauma would no longer concern her. I think giving her nutritional counseling is not only good, but excellent advice, but it would only be the beginning of how to reconsider the meaning of the survival strategies she learned in all those years of abuse.

    I hope that is clearer. Thanks for hanging in the conversation!

    —- Steve

  • I’m certainly not arguing against anything you said. But there are often issues much more deep-seated than a current bad relationship. I have worked for 20 years with foster youth and even longer with domestic abuse victims and adults with childhood sexual abuse issues. I guarantee you that nutrition alone, or even spiritual practices, are not sufficient in most of these cases to create a positive outlook. These people need help sorting out why their lives went the way they did, why they hate themselves and/or others, why they can’t make friends, etc. so they can DO something about the coping measures they adopted to survive the awful situations they were in. What is your approach to such people BEYOND improving their nutrition or exercising or even practicing mindfulness? Or do you believe all such cases can be addressed by nutritional approaches alone?

  • So the big question I still need to hear your answer to: Do you believe that nutrition is always the best approach to what we call “mental health” issues in our culture? Do you or do you not think that traumatic experiences or chronic unresolved stress can cause “mental health” problems as defined in the DSM? If so, what would you do or suggest beyond nutrition and exercise?

  • All very true. My wife has been a doula and I used to live with a homebirth midwife, plus I worked at a teen moms’ home, so I’ve seen plenty of “standard of care” obstetrics, and its brutality and disrespect and complete disconnection with both science and common sense is exceeded by only one other discipline – psychiatry! The parallels between psychiatry and obstetric care in America are legion. Both need to be started over from scratch!

    — Steve

  • It sounds to me like drugs are his main issue right now, and rehab seems like the best option. And you do what has worked in the past to get him there, by all means.

    That being said, there is almost always something else that made using drugs seem like a good idea initially. Perhaps the stints in rehab didn’t go far enough in exploring what triggered his initial move to drug use?

    There are also lots of other physiological things that can contribute. Loss of sleep is the most relevant. Nutrition also makes a big impact in some cases – gluten intolerance in particular is associated with hallucinations and delusions, in my very limited understanding.

    I think the most important step after rehab is to get him interested in the question of what HE can do to make this easier on himself and everyone else. And sometimes making it easier means going through some harder stuff that he may be avoiding. A discussion of his own experience of childhood, including an atmosphere where he is free to critique your parenting, his siblings, his school, etc. without any fear of judgment or reaction from you, can be an excellent place to start.

    There are, in my experience, SOME counselors/therapists, a minority but some, who don’t buy into the diagnose-and-drug paradigm, but are interested in exploring ways to empower their clients to take more control of their own lives. A counselor of this ilk could also be very helpful.

    Finally, group support from others who have had similar experiences, both drug use and/or psychotic experiences, can also be very, very helpful. Folks who have been there are both less judgmental and more creative in finding options that the rest of us would never imagine. Have you ever watched the Ted Talk by Elenor Longden? If you haven’t, you should, and so should he. She is a voice-hearer who has found ways to accept and even embrace her voice-hearing experience. It is quite eye-opening and inspirational, or at least it was for me.

    I hope that is of some help. You are right, it doesn’t help much to say “Psychiatry’s a sham” but not provide other options. I hope this helps you start to see another path that you all can follow together to a better future.

    — Steve

  • Just to clarify, are you saying that the ONLY reason people feel mentally/emotionally unwell is because of poor nutrition? Do you discount the impact of childhood trauma, poor relationships, the incredible stress of working a mindless job in an industrial society, exposure to racism, sexism, etc. as contributory factors? Because I agree that nutrition is very important and can resolve some cases, but to suggest that ALL cases are caused by poor nutrition seems a very large leap!

    — Steve

  • Perhaps the real problem is assuming that “mental disorders” all have the same cause or type of cause. My belief is that SOME depression is the result of physical things like diet, sleep, other drugs, etc., but that much or maybe most is stress-related. Of course, unresolved stress also results in loss of sleep, poor nutrition, etc., so there is no way to separate the effects entirely. Bottom line, it is the idea that “depression” is a disease state that creates the impression that there should be a “treatment” that works for all situations. That impression is absolutely false.

    — Steve

  • Sheesh! Talk about making things more complex than they need to be!

    ‘The researchers also find, “the more that a mother identifies as a mother the less likely she is to experience depressive symptomology after giving birth.”’

    My wife has done research into “Postpartum Depression” (I HATE that term!) in other cultures. She found that there are cultures where there is essentially NO incidence of the “PPD” phenomenon! Not surprisingly, these are cultures where the new mother is supported by a big social network and rituals that welcome them into motherhood. The more the mother can focus on just being a mother and taking care of her baby, with the other women in the group providing cooking, cleaning, childcare, and emotional support, the less likely the women will be depressed. DUH!

    Finally, the authors make a somewhat bizarre statement near the end: ‘The authors state, “given that the vast majority of mothers refuse pharmacological treatment due to concerns about side effects and breast feeding, a program that targets social (rather than individual) dysfunction may be preferable for many women.”’

    So now, despite what should be the obvious conclusion that social support should ALWAYS be the provided BEFORE “PPD” develops, they are saying that the reason they should provide this “SMIC” (otherwise known as “being a supportive human being”) is because most moms refuse to take antidepressants! As if the two were somehow equivalent????

    Again, SHEESH! Way to make the obvious conclusion as obscure as possible!

    — Steve

  • Agreed. The critiques offered don’t get to the fundamental problem with the DSM concept – namely, that adaptive strategies to cope with unrelenting chronic stress are somehow diseases or disorders or dysfuntions, as if the “normal” reaction to every situation is to be mildly happy or mildly annoyed, and any more severe reaction to the status quo, however horrible that status quo might be, is an aberration. There is no acknowledgement that what they call “mental illnesses” are 90% or more of the time normal reactions to abnormal circumstances. And since there is no way to refute one’s diagnosis, they also provide excellent cover for drugging any manifestations of stress into submission without the slightest effort to understand the origins or purpose of the person’s behavior or emotions.

    — Steve

  • I agree wholeheartedly, and think the harm done by diagnosis is substantial and sometimes irreversible, even more so in cases where overt abuse is involved. I worked with foster youth for 20 years, and saw so many cases of hurt, insult, confusion, and anger created by the invalidation of the youth’s difficult experiences prior to and during their stay in foster care. It is the very opposite of what is helpful, namely, NORMALIZING the youth’s experiences and reactions and helping them make sense of what happened to them and what they want in their lives. There is not much you can do worse than taking the meaning away from someone’s painful experiences.

  • The answer is obviously NO. Science, for starters, needs to be self-skeptical, needs to test and re-test its own assumptions in the search for new knowledge. It also needs to have clear definitions that can be verified by external observer. Neither of these most basic assumptions of science are even vaguely attended to by psychiatry. They invent unverifiable categories based on untestable criteria, and insist on the correctness of their theoretical framework despite any and all evidence to the contrary. Those who challenge them from within are ostracized, those who challenge them from without are ridiculed and attacked. They have no interest in advancing their understanding of the people they are trying to help. They use technology and shiny lights and biochemical smoke and mirrors to obfusticate and distract from the fact that they don’t have the first idea what causes ANY of their spurious “mental illnesses” nor what anyone could do to actually “cure” their “diseases.” It is, in fact, the antithesis of science, with much more in common with a religious practice than a medical one.

  • I’d say we have to discount anyone who says they are “necessary for the treatment of my disease” as being genuinely positive. Such comments don’t support a positive experience, merely an assumption that things would be worse if they stopped, which is really a fear-based rationale. Obviously, there are some good experiences that people have with antidepressants, but if that’s the main “positive experience,” it’s not very convincing, because “treating a disease” isn’t an experience, it’s a belief system, one that many are indoctrinated into believing.

    As an example, my wife and I were asked in our childbirth class for our second son how the birth of our first son went. We both replied it was “pretty good,” until we were asked some more specific questions, during which we recalled not being allowed to eat, not being allowed to open a window, my wife being called out of the shower to visit the doctor who never arrived, my wife being given sleeping pills under pressure from the nurse, only to be awakened an hour later by someone taking her blood… but none of these experiences were conscious as we said the birth was “pretty good,” because we did as we were told we had to, and were not aware of any other options. Today, having experienced two homebirths, one with Ginny in a hot Jacuzzi tub, with capable midwives in attendance, I can say that our first birth pretty much sucked. Antidepressant users who don’t know of other options are likely having similar experiences and reporting similarly unmeaningful responses to the question of “do they help?”

  • Weird how they try to provide such a range of provisos. But it seems pretty clear – long-term stimulant use provides no benefits, even at the symptom reduction level. It’s a waste of time. And this is from JS Swanson, a long-time mainstream researcher who has supported stimulant use his whole career. Yet despite this dismal record, there are recommendations for expanded treatment?

  • This article really sums up the difference between helpful or unhelpful interventions: do they validate or invalidate the experiences of the people needing help? Do they bring hope or destroy hope? Do they move people toward feeling more capable or less capable? Too bad the world of psychiatry will never pay any attention, because empowering people doesn’t pay well enough!

  • They are missing another important aspect of this finding: part of the reason antidepressants come out with positive results is BECAUSE so many people drop out. Dropouts are commonly NOT counted in figuring the final success figures, but most people drop out because of ineffectiveness or bad side effects, so discounting those people skews the results (quite intentionally) toward a positive outcome. Combine this with the nefarious “placebo washout” protocol (where they test people for placebo response and remove them from the study before starting), and it’s easy to see how and why antidepressants are reported to be a lot more effective in treatment studies than they are in the actual reality of life.

  • This is an excellent point. Many more privileged people engage freely in oppression of lower-status groups in order to project their own feelings of inadequacy onto someone else. This is particularly obvious in domestic abuse situations, where the person who has all the power seems to NEED to confuse, oppress and control their partner, even when the partner is doing everything she can to accommodate. I think it’s wrong to think that the powerful have no anxiety. They just have more options on how to deal with it, including making others feel even more anxious than them.

  • You didn’t answer my last question, though. Is it possible that a human being has a significant level of control over how and what fires in the brain? Is not the simple expedient of breathing slowly and deeply universally understood to alter pulse and blood pressure and to calm the body and reduce anxiety? There is also excellent evidence that long-term Buddhist monks, when their brains are studied, have built up certain regions of the brain associated with calmness and focus through their meditative practice – they can change the actual PHYSICAL STRUCTURE of the brain through meditation!

    Everything human has a “biological component.” That doesn’t leave us in a situation where we are dependent on chemical or physiological interventions to alter our psyches. A smart man once drew the analogy of hardware and software – a computer is totally dependent on its electrical structure, but without a program it’s totally useless. The programs have an “electrical component,” but if you try to solve a software problem by altering the hardware, you’ll be in big trouble.

    So far, there is neither proof of any specific hardware problem, nor any specific universally effective solution, for ANY of the so-called “mental illnesses.” It seems to me that psychiatry would do very well to be a hell of a lot more humble about their pronouncements, especially as they are completely and utterly unable to explain the John Nashes or Elanor Longdens of this world.

    So sure, drugs may “work” for some people by creating what they consider positive effects, but that’s a long, long way from your claim that schizophrenia (and what is that, really) or any other “mental illness” is caused by misfiring neurons. I think we have a lot more to say about which neurons fire or don’t fire than you’re giving us credit for.

    —- Steve

  • If that’s the case, how do folks like John Nash or Elenor Longden or Will Hall recover without any drug interventions, in your view? Why do their nerves suddenly start firing differently? Could it have something to do with how they respond to their situations? Do we as human beings have the ability to alter how our nerves fire?

  • It seems you are confusing your own personal experience with scientific data. You may have found these drugs to be helpful, even life saving. This doesn’t mean that others have the same experience you did. The data show the likelihood that any particular person may or may not benefit, and people can make their choices based on that data. I think it is important to acknowledge that some people do report benefits, even very strong benefits, from taking antidepressants. However, it is JUST as important to acknowledge that some people have damage, even very strong damage, from taking these very same drugs. I think it should be very clear from the postings here that doctors not only don’t share this information with their clients, they go out of their way to deny it or blame their patients for not reacting the way the doctors want them to.

    The DATA say that antidepressants should not be recommended for everyone, and that each case should be treated differently. They also say that we should be very aware of the possibility of serious side effects in every case, and remove people immediately if they emerge. I’d venture to say also that the data tell us that antidepressants alone are VERY unlikely to make things better for most people, and in fact may make things worse ON THE AVERAGE over the long run. So kudos for you for finding your own path that works for you, but it feels quite disrespectful to suggest that everyone having a different experiences should shut up, especially in light of this kind of study.

    As to Robin Williams, I would suggest you study up on his childhood before you attribute his long-term depression to biological causes alone. It appears he had a miserable upbringing and used comedy as a way of coping with feelings of inadequacy that went back to his earliest childhood. I don’t want to pretend that biology doesn’t play a role, because it most likely always does, but I am saying that we DO NOT KNOW the degree to which biology affects someone’s reaction to abuse and neglect, and we DO no for sure the impact of abusive behavior on a range of behaviors and emotions. EVERY “mental health” diagnosis is correlated with early childhood trauma and abuse. And since there is nothing we can do about genetics, and there is LOTS we can do about childhood abuse, it appears the conversation has been badly, badly skewed in the direction of biological causation. This site provides the rest of the story. You can call it biased, but it is vital for you and others to understand that the standard viewpoint on “mental health” is badly biased in the other direction. It is an absolutely vital counter-narrative to the constant droning on about how it’s all biological and antidepressants are the only answer.

    I hope that clarifies things. You’re entitled to your viewpoint and experience, but I strongly urge you to remember that others have had dramatically different experiences and they are just as valid. And beyond that, I want you to respect that conveying scientific data is never wrong, even if it conflicts with your personal experience, as decisions depend on good data and everyone is entitled to it, even if it messes with the accepted “take your drugs forever” narrative.

    — Steve

  • The first problem is, how would you be able to tell who “needed them” and who didn’t. The second problem is that when they DON’T work, which (looking at the data above) appears to be very frequently, are the doctors able to notice and admit that they are making people worse? My experience, and I have lots of it over 20 years working with foster kids and ten more working as a counselor, is that they don’t.

    The bloggers here appear to me for the most part to be trying to tell a story that the “mental health” industry doesn’t want told, and this article says it well – most of the time, drugs do more harm than good, and doctors are just plain incapable of being objective enough to sort out who they do and don’t work for, or to even bother to ask. The data in this study basically say that if there is a group the antidepressants work for, it is either very, very small, or thoroughly offset by an equally large group who are made worse. This is important information. I have no idea why you would not want folks to share it. Perhaps you can explain why asking these questions or sharing this data is bad?

  • A change of venue can be an excellent “treatment,”especially when the old environment has assholes in it who are committed to making you miserable. But none of that counts in psychiatry. You’re supposed to be happy and effective regardless of whatever abuse you may be experiencing, and if you’re not, it’s your brain that needs fixing, not the bully. Idiocy, but that’s “modern” psychiatry for you.

  • Two answers: one – too much money being made to allow any critique, however rational, to stand. Two: the narrative fits a lot of cultural needs, such as blaming the poor for their poverty or black people for objecting to their subjugation, or blaming children for asserting their needs when we’d rather control and abuse them. In short, the powerful elite love the idea that “mental illness” is a physiological thing, because they get to make money and resist any inkling that we might have to make changes to our system rather than blaming the victims.

    — Steve

  • Wow, so legalizing same-sex marriage apparently improves “neurotransmitter imbalances” all by itself! Nah, can’t be. Must be that the populations in same-sex-marriage states share some genetic commonalities that make them more sensitive to changes in political climate. Need to do a study there…


    —- Steve

  • “Overdiagnosis” is kind of an oxymoron when it is impossible to actually determine who merits a diagnosis by any kind of objective criteria. There is no objective standard for diagnosis, therefore, no standard for “overdiagnosis,” which is a fundamental problem with the entire idea of diagnosing “mental illness” based on social constructs that have no valid, objective indicators of their presence or absence.

    — Steve

  • Real science does everything it can to DISPROVE any hypothesis before accepting it as truth. Science is crappy at proving things true, but very good at proving things false. Every other reasonable hypothesis or explanation needs to be considered and eliminated before a model is accepted as “truth.” And then it’s only true until further data invalidates or modifies it.

    Unfortunately, these days “scientists” are allowed to run with biased data and positive results are published and studies disproving popular theories are buried as deep as possible and those profiting from the current “truth” spend time and money discrediting known facts. Even in physical medicine, we’re getting increasingly crappy results, and as for psychiatry, it left the vaguest impression of scientific integrity in the dust decades ago.

  • As I said, “PPD” is an invention like any other diagnosis. Most “PPD” is caused by high levels of stress – loss of income, deteriorated body image, interrupted sex life, changes in relationship due to change in status to “mother,” loss of friendships, increased isolation, loss of sleep, and on and on. Not to mention that a huge percentage of domestic abuse starts during pregnancy or right after birth. To suggest that “postpartum depression” is a disease state is rank ignorance or else intentional greed and manipulation. As I stated above, there are cultures where “PPD” DOES NOT HAPPEN AT ALL. If it is “biological,” why is it so much more common in modern industrial societies and so rare in tribal cultures?

  • My wife saved her dad from a similar fate. I wrote a blog about it a while back. He was put on Risperdal and became rigid and tense and unable to sit up or talk. After she got him off, in three days he was chatting and laughing and trying to feed himself. And yet somehow, none of the staff seem to have noticed that the drugs had almost completely disabled him. Or more likely, they considered it a “successful treatment.” Honestly, it would be kinder to kill the people outright, but I guess they couldn’t collect insurance for them if they were dead.

    The normal psych world is dark enough, but what they do to senior without even the pretense of something actually medically wrong with them is downright evil.

    — Steve

  • “Encouraged” to discuss the realities with their patients???? Why aren’t the authors calling for doctors engaging in these practices to have sanctions on their licenses? Why should there not be class action lawsuits against doctors for ignoring the most basic instructions for the use of Benzos?

    And I agree with Richard – the problem is not failing to provide psychotherapy alongside benzos, it is ignoring the fact that Benzos are not recommended for us for more than two weeks due to the risk of dependency, and that they are simply not appropriate for the uses they’re being prescribed. The only potential legitimate use (and I find this questionable) is for short-term use in anxiety attacks. These doctors are engaging in MALPRACTICE and should be called to account for it.

  • I agree. “Postpartum depression” is an invention to cover the fact that we set up mothers for stress and disappointment in our oppressive society. It is a fact that certain cultures have essentially ZERO cases of “postpartum depression.” mostly because they provide continuous and ongoing support for the mom and baby after birth. “Postpartum depression” is a Western industrial society disease that is a function of how we treat new moms and babies. It is NOT because of hormones – it’s because of unresolved stress in 99% of cases.

    — Steve

  • Odd that they identify increased contact with providers as a confounding factor. Isn’t that the point? That contact with caring people reduces feelings of isolation and hopelessness?

    And notice we’re talking about 6 group sessions, four before and two after the birth. There is no specific intervention based on the needs of the specific mother in question. And despite this, double the number in the control group fell into deep depression in the control group.

    Given the anemic response level for antidepressants, the broad side effect profile, and the lack of any evidence of long-term advantage, even within psychiatry’s own warped viewpoint, this intervention is clearly superior. What would happen if someone actually paid some individual attention to the mothers’ specific stressors and helped them plan for their families’ futures?

    — Steve

  • Never heard of the HOD or the EWI. I personally never bothered with testing of any kind when I worked with people in distress. I generally found that asking them the questions instead of having a test do it for me allowed a lot more nuanced approach. The challenge is maintaining sufficient objectivity and being OK not knowing what you have to do until you get enough information. I wish there were some “objective test” but I haven’t seen one yet that even comes close. I will look into those, though.

  • Do you really think that assigning a DSM diagnosis improves one’s understanding of the problem? I totally disagree. Even mainstream psychiatrists like Insel have acknowledged that the DSM categories don’t relate to any particular physical anomaly or problem, and that in fact we are clumping together heterogeneous groups and assuming they have the same causes and effective treatments. If a mainstreamer like Insel is saying this, please explain how lumping people into subjective categories like this helps us understand them better? Isn’t it more effective just to talk about what behavior they engage in that is distressing or problematic? Wouldn’t we understand more if we asked the client about his/her perspective on what the problem is in their terms, rather than trying to force them into our artificial frame of reference?

  • So are you going to the “brain problem” model here? Do you think Trump is an asshole because he has a “brain problem?” Or do you think he’s learned to be an asshole because it’s gotten him power and control in the past and he continues to use what works?

  • Not to mention the people who are depressed because they are trapped in a dead-end job or an unhappy or dangerous marriage or kids (like me) who are forced to attend school every day for 13 years in a soul-crushing environment and have no sense of self-efficacy. Sometimes depression is not due to bad nutrition, it’s because depression is a normal expression of distress when in distressing circumstances, regardless of someone’s nutritional state.

    It is just too much work for them to figure out what’s actually going on. Much easier to blame the patient and drug them into submission!

  • When you say “mentally ill,” I think you mean what I would call “irrational.” He is most definitely irrational and makes decisions based on emotions and biases. But that doesn’t really address what Sera is saying here – that using labels to identify his irrationality both validates these subjective and irrational labels AND minimizes our ability to truly analyze what is not working about Trump as President. It is his irrationality and dedication to being RIGHT at all costs that leads to many of his bad decisions and allows him to be manipulated by others who are “handling” him to their own advantage. It seems far better to me to describe what he’s doing that is dangerous or irrational than simply labeling him as “mentally ill.”

  • Great article! The one thing I think is missing, though, is a recognition that OF COURSE not all instances of depression are caused by poor diet or will be remediated by improved diet, because DEPRESSION IS NOT A LEGITIMATE DIAGNOSTIC CATEGORY. But we DO see that at least a third of depressed people could be dramatically improved in their mood by eating better. What is going on with the other two-thirds should be investigated, of course, but we would expect that not all of them will improve with ANY particular intervention, because DEPRESSED PEOPLE NEED DIFFERENT THINGS.

    This is vitally important, because analysis of this kind of study is dramatically hampered by the categorical clumping of depressed people into one group. This subjective grouping serves the interests of the drug companies, because they can say, “Well, nutritional counseling only helped a third of depressed patients, while antidepressants helped 45%, so antidepressants are better.” I strongly encourage you to write unequivocally on this point, as it is a very important argument to undercut any efforts by mainstream psychiatry to minimize the importance of these results.