Thursday, August 22, 2019

Comments by Steve McCrea

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  • So how would you define a “mental illness,” Milan? How would you distinguish it from “normal suffering?” That’s the part I really struggle with. Plus, if your distress is caused by abuse and oppression around you, is it an “illness” to be upset about it? Seems like a pretty strained concept, even though you’re right, there is lots and lots of agreement about it.

  • I don’t disagree with this at all, in fact, I’ve said the same many times. We’re living in the resurrection of Calvinism – your financial success proves that God is with you. This, however, doesn’t mean that we can’t help each other to deal with the consequences of these destructive postulates, whether in formal or informal ways. Naturally, the psychiatric/psychological industry is an industry and is driven by profits, and that’s the real problem we’re all dealing with.

  • The USA exists only as a result of violence and oppression, a fact which colors every aspect of our society. We are not alone in this, of course, but the particular history of the USA, from the treatment of the native population to the use of slave labor to create wealth to the continued second-class citizenship of certain populations in the USA continues to place violent conquest and subjugation at the center of our politics. And of course, the entire business model of Western society is based on conquest and the implied violence of starvation and hopeless poverty for those who fail to comply with “the rules,” and even for many who do.

  • You know, I had not even thought of that until you just said it. I assumed that he realized he was busted and had no hope of preserving his self-absorbed and abusive lifestyle and therefore decided that death was better than living such an ignominious life. But it is quite possible this process was initiated or exacerbated by antidepressant drugs.

  • I would agree that the conclusions from this study are very limited, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that hospitalizations the way we do them is decreasing the suicide rate. Again, it is the responsibility of those advocating for more hospitalizations to prove that they DO reduce suicidality, not the responsibility of those opposed to prove it does not. There is no evidence here that a reduction is taking place, therefore, the scientific conclusion must be that to date, we can’t say that hospitialization is an appropriate action to prevent suicide, at least as it is done. This doesn’t mean that certain individuals might not choose not to commit suicide if they are kept alive a while longer, but there is no data to suggest that the “treatment” is anything more than simply preventing a person from acting upon impulse and giving them time to consider their decision in a new light.

    What I am uncomfortable with is starting from the assumption that hospitalization DOES reduce suicidal behavior and forcing someone to prove that hypothesis wrong. We should assume that it DOES NOT until those in favor of it prove otherwise, just as a drug has to be proven effective against placebo or it is assumed that it is not effective.

    Hope that is clearer.

  • There is a very distinct difference between not accepting psychotherapy IN GENERAL, and I actually agree with you on this point, and invalidating the personal experience of someone whose experience in something that happened to be called “psychotherapy” who describes specific ways in which it helped that person accomplish the very things you claim to value, including feeling one’s unwanted feelings and taking political action. The first is an opinion, the second is disrespectful to someone else’s experience. The first is allowable, the second is not.

    ise, you are contradicting your own premises.

  • This is not about you “going along” with anything or about me “feeling better.” It’s about your chronic attempts to make gross generalizations and being disrespectful about others’ experiences. Coming back with, “Well, it sounds like your therapy experience worked well for you, but it is not consistent with my experience” might work. Suggesting that I am wrong in my assessment of my own therapy experience is a totally different act, and borders on abusive on your part. There is absolutely no inconsistency with receiving therapy and being willing to fight psychiatry, as my case and the cases of many other people on this site can attest. Your inability/unwillingness to accept that anyone else’s experience might not comport with your predigested views massively undermines your credibility. It seems impossible to have an exchange with you, as you appear to be preaching to your own choir and deleting any notes that don’t fit with your song. At a certain point, it moves beyond expressing your opinion and into the realm of suppressing others’ experiences, which is something I’d think you of all people would be against. You don’t want to be one of those that you’re fighting against, do you?

  • I can testify as an advocate for foster kids for 20 years that the system often does more harm than good. There are most definitely some situations that turn out much better for the kids or the families, but there are just as many where the kids continue to be abused, neglected, or forgotten, including being abused by the “mental health” system during their time in care. Most of our advocacy was done to prevent further harm by the system itself. And statistics most definitely show bias against black people, Native Americans, Latinx people and poor people, all across the country. Child abuse is awful, but foster care is not a great answer, either. We need to look at other ways to deal with the problem.

  • It certainly suggests to me that at the minimum, psych hospitalization doesn’t appear to reduce suicidal acts. And from a scientific viewpoint, it’s the responsibility of the “treaters” to prove their treatment works. Saying they are worse to start with and that’s why so many kill themselves afterwards suggests that “Treatment” has had no positive effect.

  • So help me understand how someone learns to face what happened to them as Alice assures us we must do? It’s easy to say that, but as Alice would explain, our defensive symptoms make it very difficult for us to face our pain and instead we tend to pass it on to the next generation. So how does one get through this defensive system so one can feel these undesired feelings?

  • Again, it’s clear you argue from your own personally limited viewpoint and nothing anyone says will sway you from it. You tend to repeat the same statements over and over, but they are full of assumptions, such as the assumption that therapy itself must lead to legal redress, or that therapists are going out of their way to force people to adjust to their circumstances instead of fighting back, which is, of course, only your own assumption and in my case is directly contradicted by the facts I’ve presented.

    You’re also invalidating my assertion that taking on my own parents and reclaiming my power is plenty of redress for me, as it freed me to follow my own path instead of spending all my time worrying about what they think or do. If that is not a positive outcome, I’m not sure what if anything would ever qualify. Perhaps you’d have been satisfied if I’d sued my parents for being insensitive and overwhelmed and not being able to do what they needed to for us kids?

    And you yourself admit that some “stuff” IS between your ears, in the sense that “feeling your feelings” per Alice Miller is an essential part of becoming a whole person, at least if you really believe what Alice was saying. I would think you would support whatever efforts did that for a person, regardless of what it’s called. But you don’t seem to do that. You want to tell everyone else what to think and believe, even when the person him/herself tells you that your beliefs are incorrect in their case. This kind of invalidation doesn’t help anyone, and in fact reminds me of the very failings of the “mental health” system you and I both so vehemently disapprove of. You would be a lot more credible with me, and I think with a lot of people, if you stopped telling me/others what they should believe and started listening a little more and trying to incorporate what you hear from me and others into your philosophy, instead of just ignoring or arguing with me down when I don’t agree 100% with your preconceived philosophical notions.

  • Again, agreed 100%. Cultivating that gut level feeling is something I talk about in my book as the ultimate tool for detecting abusive people, but our society teaches us from early on how to mute that “little voice” and talk ourselves out of believing what we have legitimately observed. A big part of healing on the spiritual level, to me, comes down to learning to listen to those intuitive messages and to take the time to figure out what they’re really about. It’s not always clear exactly why we get those messages, but they are there to be respected and listened to!

  • I agree. Most psychologists and counselors are 4 square with the DSM model and believe most of the mythology about “biological brain diseases.” Some psychologists in some states have even fought for prescribing rights! The therapists/counselors I’m talking about are generally mavericks who aren’t interested in playing along with any system, but are committed to meeting people where they’re at and being present with them to help them figure out their own solutions. I’m not in agreement with any kind of authoritarian approach to counseling, where the counselor somehow “knows more” or tells the client what to think, feel, or do. The only good counselors are the one that help increase the power and capabilities of their clients so that they are able to follow their own paths, not a path the counselor wants them to follow.

  • I don’t disagree. That’s one of the big reasons I moved out of that realm into advocacy. Even the “good ones” are embedded in a system which rewards compliance and challenges any attempt to improve services or humanize clients. At a certain point, it starts to feel like you’re “sleeping with the enemy” and supporting a system that is generally much more damaging than helpful, and not by accident. My personal ethics would not allow me to continue to collaborate with the system.

  • It appears to me that you are unable to accept data from my personal experience that contradicts your philosophical premises. It should be easy enough for you to simply acknowledge that I had this experience and that my therapist, at least, did not have the intention of preventing me from becoming active in asserting my rights or was encouraging me in any way to “adjust” to my environment. Why is this so difficult for you to accept? What would be wrong with recognizing that not all therapists are the same? And that some do, in fact, encourage their clients to stand up against those who are mistreating them, whether in the past or the present or the future, even if the majority do not do this? Is maintaining your philosophical purity more important than respecting the actual data you get from people who actually use this kind of service? Maybe you would do well to stop telling everyone what to think and instead listen to people’s experiences? Maybe you could learn something from listening to survivors yourself?

  • I don’t at all disagree. Most therapists are either ineffective or dangerous. There are a small minority that can be very helpful, but most people either lack access to such people or don’t realize what they are really looking for. Just signing up for a therapist is a dangerous act, because the power imbalance is so profound and so few professionals are able to recognize this problem and address it.

  • They have stopped talking about “endogenous” vs. “exogenous” depression, first off because there is no way to actually tell the difference, and secondly, because if they really looked at this question, it would be clear that the vast majority of their client base has very good reasons for being depressed, which would eliminate their justification for drugging anyone they encounter with these “symptoms,” regardless of the reason they might occur.

  • Not necessarily. There is no requirement that a therapist listen from a point of view of superiority or of instructing the client on what is going on or what to do. Certainly the majority of therapists these days DO operate in that way, partly because they’re now trained to look down on their clients, partly because they haven’t done their own work on their own issues.

    But a truly good therapist would, in my view, listen only from the point of an outside observer of their client’s narrative of their own life and experiences. Their job is to ask questions to help the client make up their own minds about what is causing their distress and what THEY want to do about it. The therapist’s job is not to tell the client what to think, in fact, my own therapist years ago pretty much refused to EVER tell me what she thought even if I asked her to. She did share some things from her own life to help me understand that she was NOT coming from a superior point of view, but had been through similar pain and frustration herself. But she never, ever told me what to do or think. She simply helped me unwind my own story and realize some important things regarding “feeling my feelings,” which you correctly point out is so essential to moving beyond the abusive/neglectful/oppressive environments that most kids grow up in. She empowered me by listening without judging, asking pointed questions about what I said, and supporting me in feeling my feelings and acting on the logical consequences of those feelings. It was my parents who viewed my viewpoints as invalid. She never did, and in fact, strengthened my confidence that my own views were, in fact, valid, in contradiction to what I’d come to believe from listening to and being worried about my parents’ and siblings’ views of what I should/should not be or think or do.

  • It is not a majority that go on psych drugs, but it is WAY more than the average for non-foster kids. Over half of teens in foster care are on psych drugs. Usually around 20% of all foster youth are on psych drugs, including even 1-2% of infants! Interestingly, though, kids placed in relative foster care have only slightly higher drug use rates than the general public, whereas non-family foster placements have 3-5 times higher rates of psych drug use.

    Foster kids are most definitely at higher risk of being diagnosed and drugged than the average kid.

  • Well, I still think you’re making generalizations that aren’t true for every therapy relationship. My therapist didn’t specifically suggest that I do anything or not do anything in particular, because she saw her role as helping me process those unconscious feelings you and Alice Miller talk about, and then to decide FOR MYSELF what I should do about it. It certainly did involve confronting family members about how I had been treated, and seeing roles that other family members had been thrust into and helping protect them against the (mostly unconscious) tyranny of my mom and my brothers. There was also a raising of social consciousness regarding the plight of others who had experienced similar family dynamics and were suffering. This led me eventually into social work, and then when I observed what social work systems were doing to people, into advocacy. She most definitely helped me move from being angry at myself to being angry about social injustice, not because she told me to feel that way, but because she helped me find and connect with my own sense of righteous indignation. And as I said before, without this experience, I would never have gotten to advocacy as a career and life path.

    So my therapist did not fit your model of “teach you to adjust to injustice” or “accept your lot in life.” It was much more about, “If you have an issue, what are you going to DO about it?” Which certainly fits into your framework of encouraging people to take action against their oppressors.

    Now this was in the 80s, and I fully acknowledge that such therapists have become more and more rare as the DSM has taken hold. But to pretend that there is some generalized agreement among therapists that their job is to prevent people from holding their oppressors accountable is to me simplistic and not supported by the fact. Therapists are not lawyers, nor are lawyers therapists, but there’s nothing to prevent a therapist from making referrals to lawyers for class action suits and the like, and I certainly have done that with many a person in my social worker days.

    As a wise man once said, “Generalizations are always wrong.”

  • I am saying that it depends very much on who the psychotherapist is and what they’re about. I would say that it is true that most therapists these days are fully indoctrinated into the DSM system and see people’s problems as “mental illnesses.” But as Bonnie points out, there are therapists who take a very different view of what therapy is or should be, and there are many people, including myself, who have had very positive therapy experiences themselves. I can pretty much guarantee you that I would not have become an antipsychiatry activist and advocate for stopping the mass drugging of kids in our society (and adults, of course, but kids were my specialty) without having gone through that experience myself. You have talked about Alice Miller and the need for people to get in touch with, feel, and validate their own experiences in order not to perpetuate the same offenses on the next generation. I agree totally with Alice, and I would also submit that most therapists haven’t done this work and are either useless or dangerous. But not all.

    So my objection is not to making generalizations about the practice of therapy as a profession, but to generalizing that all THERAPISTS have the objective of removing someone’s honor and having them accept themselves as inferior beings. That was not at all my experience, and others report finding therapists who have helped them gain new and helpful perspectives on how to live their lives without worrying about how “the system” or “the middle class” would judge them. I think this is very valuable when it happens, even if it is rare, and I don’t want folks who have had that kind of experience or who have provided that kind of experience to be invalidated by sweeping generalizations about what “all therapists” are intending to do.

  • I would agree that psychiatry is an organized system with a specific purpose and a political apparatus to support it, including mass funding through the drug companies, and it is much easier to make accurate generalizations about psychiatry. I would still maintain that saying that “all psychiatrists” are the same is inaccurate, but in the case of psychiatry, the defectors from the status quo are much fewer and much more exposed to blackballing and other punishment from the powers that be.

  • That is what I have always suspected. SSRIs appear to create a sense of not caring what others think about your behavior. This might be seen as a good thing of someone is spending a lot of time worrying that others don’t think they are good enough. Being able to say, “Screw mom, I’m gonna do what I want to do,” might feel really good to some people. But what if someone is being prevented from doing something violent because s/he is concerned about the consequences, that they might be shamed or put in jail? In that case, removing empathy or concern for the views of others may be deadly!

  • Denial is not “trauma informed.”

    This is more proof that anyone can take any concept and turn it into a means of oppression. The attitude is what has to change, and calling one’s oppressive attitude “trauma informed” is just another way of coopting the drive to expose abuse of power for what it is and turning it into a way to protect the perpetrators.

  • This is kind of sad to me. Talking about the person’s neighborhood they grew up in or other aspects of their culture should be standard practice for anyone who actually wants someone to feel safe talking to them. Sharing about one’s own background is also helps build trust. If psychiatrists understood that building trust is the beginning of doing anything remotely helpful, this would not be a necessary exercise.

  • I wish I had one! Big social changes take time, and also usually money. I think maybe we have to start with getting money out of politics so our representatives are representing us rather than big corporations. But that in itself is a huge task, and probably starts with political organizing at a local level and commitment for years to making changes. It is a daunting task!

  • I would submit that we don’t KNOW anything that we haven’t personally examined and found to be true based on our own standards. You don’t “know” something just because someone else told it to you. All you know is that this is what you were told. The lack of intellectual curiosity and rigor amongst people who claim to be representing scientific or technological advances is disheartening, though no longer even slightly surprising.

  • Sandra,

    As a psychiatrist whom I respect greatly, I’d be very pleased to hear whether you have seen psychiatrists or the APA promoting the “chemical imbalance” or “brain disorder” hypothesis. It’s hard for me to imagine you have not heard this being put out there all the time, as I ran into it frequently just in the foster care system. What’s your experience?

  • So either they are not psychiatrists, or the entire psychiatric profession in New Zealand has to be regarded as “not serious” by Pies and his ilk. Of course, there is also the possibility that they are lying for the purpose of increasing their “market share,” but no, that COULDN’T be true! Psychiatrists would NEVER be corrupted!

  • Even if psychiatrists did not promote the “chemical imbalance hypothesis” (which of course we all know they did and continue to do), they certainly said and did NOTHING to correct any “misimpressions” created by the Pharmaceutical Industry or whoever else made them look like they believed in it. Failing to take action to correct false information is pretty close to promoting it, in my view.

  • How about if they are informed of the multiple long-term studies showing that stimulants do not improve ANY long-term outcomes for “medicated” vs. “unmedicated” students, including academic test scores, high school graduation, college enrollment, grades passed, delinquency rates, teen pregnancy rates, social skills, or even self-esteem ratings? Why is this rarely if ever mentioned in critiques of stimulant drugs for “ADHD”-diagnosed children? If long-term outcomes are not improved (or in some studies, made worse), what is the purpose of drugging these kids, even if one accepts the concept that “ADHD” exists as a disease state (which I do not)?

  • I have also worked with foster youth, and found that the “trauma brain” trainings, rather than increasing empathy as they ought to, for some people provide yet another way to say that “his brain is broken because he’s traumatized” and use it to justify more drugging and diagnosing. What is needed for traumatized people (which is pretty much all of us!) is empathy and kindness and honesty and human vulnerability. It doesn’t matter how many trainings are done – we need to impact the ethics of the people involved such that they start thinking about how they might accidentally be harming someone rather than assuming that everything they do is magically helpful.

  • The problem with mindfulness is that it has been abstracted from its spiritual roots in Buddhism and is now being used as a gimmick to deal with anxiety. Which it does help with, but it seems a shame (but typical) to remove the spiritual focus that provides a context for why one might meditate and what one might get out of such a practice over time. It should not be a means to escape the rigors of capitalism. It is a lot bigger than that.

  • That is very well said. Unless someone has an identifiable neurological disease that one can accurately test for, whatever people do is “neurotypical.” Genetic diversity is the key to species survival. We need all different kinds of people, and the sooner we learn to value what gifts everyone brings to the table, the healthier we’ll be as a society. But I’m not holding my breath on that one…

  • I respectfully disagree, based on personal experience. You appear to be committed dogmatically to a viewpoint that is not supported by the reported experiences of many people. I agree that the run-of-the-mill therapist is likely to be supportive of the status quo, and that there are certainly a significant number who are married to diagnoses or other client-blaming theories, and that such “help” is not very helpful. However, to say that all psychotherapy has the client yielding as the goal, or the client putting all problems in the past, is simply not true, no matter how many times that idea is repeated. It feels very disrespectful both to people who have found counseling/therapy beneficial and to those therapists (admittedly a minority these days) who work very hard at helping the client meet his/her own goals in an empowering way.

  • I don’t think that everyone knows what is good for themselves, not by a long shot. What I do believe is that everyone has a right to make his/her own decisions, and the job of a helper is to assist that person in gaining sufficient perspective to see the options available and the likely consequences of whatever decision they make. Forcing someone to do something “for their own good” is so fraught with problems that it is far better to decide never to force someone to do anything at all in the name of helping. Sometimes we do need to use force to keep them from hurting someone else, but at that point, we’re helping the potential victim, not the person we’re using force on.

    It is very painful to watch someone doing things you know will lead to pain, but everyone has to learn in their own way. We can provide information, show love, set boundaries, share perspectives, but in the end, each person is responsible for charting their own course in life, even if we don’t like the results.

  • “We do need a model to help clinicians and service users understand why their emotions and behaviors are maladaptive for them.”

    I would respectfully disagree with this statement, as a former counselor/therapist. I believe any “model” needs to understand why their emotions and behaviors are, or were at one time, ADAPTIVE for them, and help them decide if that behavior is still adaptive or if different options might be more effective in accomplishing their goals. Calling clients’ behavior “maladaptive”, in my experience, leads to defensiveness or self-shaming, whereas acknowledging that “all behavior meets a need” (as the saying goes) and that people aren’t acting or feeling random things, but are making decisions based on their own perception of what makes sense in their world. And of course, no one can really understand what makes sense in their world except the client him/herself. As soon as an helping person starts deciding for the person they’re helping what is and isn’t “adaptive,” they stop helping.

  • In my experience, this is very much the norm – it takes an act of Congress to get a doctor to support withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, and the desire to do so is often regarded as a “symptom of the illness” rather than a rational decision based on the pros and cons of the situation. Many docs seem to believe that being “mentally ill” eliminates the ability to think and reason and make decisions.

    It is true that it is getting easier to find clinicians to help someone wean, but such professionals are still the exception rather than the rule. And even when one does find someone “willing” to help them taper safely, there is an almost constant message that it’s a bad idea and will probably go wrong soon. Plus a lot of the “supporters” don’t appear to understand how to taper safely anyway. So it’s not really a very easy process, and some people can’t find anyone willing to help at all.

  • It depends who uses them and how. I have no problem with a person him/herself identifying as “mad” or “neurodiverse” if that is an identity they find helpful. The problem comes in when we start studying “neurodiverse” people to find out “what is different (aka wrong) with them” based on the same brain-based reasoning that the psychiatrists use. So “neurodiverse” in particular doesn’t challenge the psychiatric paradigm to recognize that THERE IS NO NORMAL in terms of “brain function” – everyone’s brain is different, and should be! After all, genetic diversity is the key to species survival. The term also tends to imply for me that one’s brain condition is fixed – I’m “neurodiverse” because I was born that way, you’re not, because you “fit in” better to our society’s expectations. Now, I understand that some people do believe that they were born particularly different, and that may even be absolutely true in their particular case. But brains change and develop over time, and everyone has their gifts and challenges biologically. I do very much appreciate the reflection that people who get diagnosed “ADHD” or “Autistic” or whatever can find positive characteristics associated within the groups that are diagnosed that way, and I often pass on or comment similarly when someone starts talking about “brain-based disabilities” and such crap. But those labels are still based on the DSM and the “adapt or you are diseased” way of thinking, and I’d rather do away with them altogether.

    So again, I’m not against a particular person identifying that way as a person, I just don’t like to use these terms myself because they reinforce the biological model for me. Others are certainly very much entitled to their own views on this, and those views may be far more informed than my own. It was just that the comments on this article brought to my attention why the term bothered me, as I would guess I’m pretty “diverse” based on what is actually expected of human beings in our society, but because I chose a quiet way to rebel and to deal with the oppression I was experiencing, I am considered to be somehow a “normal” person. I don’t think such a “normal” person exists on this earth.

    I hope that makes things a bit clearer.

  • Posting as moderator:

    All comments are put into the moderation queue upon receiving them. Some comments are approved by other people than me, depending on length, complexity, and/or potentially controversial content. I only get to look at them once or twice a day, depending, so some of your shorter or simpler comments might be approved by a different person while one that is longer or more complex may have to wait until later when I get to it. Which means some comments may be approved earlier, even if posted later.

    Hope that explains it!

    — Steve

  • An excellent question, and very kindly put!

    I do support that kind of use of the word – I have never had any problem with people advocating for “mad pride” or seeing themselves as “neurodiverse.” I think my issue is more one of assuming, for instance, that the kids who don’t act out in school and do their homework and try to keep the teachers happy are “normal” while kids who can’t manage that intense effort are “diverse.” I was one of those kids who did what he was told and tried to play the game so that I wouldn’t get in trouble. But I hated every minute of it. It was totally traumatic on a daily basis. So I was no more “neurotypical” than the kid who was being sent to the principal’s office for acting out. I was just being harmed in a different way because I did have the capability of pretending I was OK more than other kids did. I totally support anyone identifying as “neurotypical,” because I know some people have a rougher time than I have had. I just want to make sure everyone is clear that the kids (or adults) acting “normal” may be suffering in their own way from the oppressive system that we have to deal with. Just because I can “fit in” doesn’t make me “typical.” Those who “fit in” are an extremely diverse group that have little in common beyond their ability to dance to the masters’ tune well enough not to be singled out for special discrimination.

    I hope that makes my view a little clearer.

  • You are so right, the “helpers” seem to believe that they are automatically being helpful and are incapable of abuse and harm, and so are blind to the damage they do. People believe that taking a kid from an abusive situation and putting them into foster care makes it all better for them, but it does not. There is automatic instability and craziness inherent to the situation, not to mention unavoidable breaking of almost every social bond the child has had to date, but kids are frequently overtly abused by the system itself beyond those unavoidable challenges. Any helping agency that can’t admit it could inadvertently do ill should not be trusted for human beings.

  • I just realized what it is about using the term “neurodiverse” that’s bugged me. It seems to imply that there is some monolithic mass of people with “normal” brains from whom the “neurodiverse,” well, DIVERGE. But isn’t the real truth that ALL of us are “neurodiverse,” and that it is the practice of expecting everyone to think and act the same that is causing the distress? Shouldn’t the concepts of allowing people to think and feel as they see fit apply to ALL of us, rather than just a category of people who are already judged to be “weird” by the judgmental “mainstream” of oppressive social institutions?

    I’m not saying this as a criticism, just asking what folks think about it?

  • And yet studies where they simply provide food and shelter and basic necessities to people living on the streets, without any requirement to do anything else (the “Housing First” concept) appear to start getting better without any further intervention. Imagine, getting enough sleep, being able to have food and shelter and to be able to wash and use the toilet safely actually helps people feel better and stay safer. What a concept!

  • Your comments reflect my experience completely. There are people who are able to be helpful in more than a run of the mill way, but they are rare and a degree or license or “school of therapy” certainly does nothing to identify such people. They are human, real, caring, and allow themselves to be affected by our stories, and even share some of their own experiences when it is helpful. They make mistakes and apologize for doing so, they are properly horrified by horrific things, they are, in short, real humans who are there to help in whatever way they can. And again, they are quite rare.

  • Little irks me more than when they give someone a bunch of fat-inducing “SGAs” and then put the person on a diet because they “make bad food choices.” Saw it happen all the time in the foster kids I advocated for. Then there was the kid who spent two years working through a tendency not to want to eat anything. She was eating well and doing great, then they decided she had “ADHD” and put her on stimulants. Lo and behold, she appeared to “relapse!” I was apparently the only one who saw the obvious causal factor. They were totally ready to see it as a resurgence of her “eating disorder.”

  • I agree completely that confronting propaganda and sharing factual knowledge is essential for changing the system, and that is sometimes going to be uncomfortable for some people. I’ve certainly been accused of “pill shaming” or “being biased” or “not sharing both sides” many times in the past, and it does not deter me from sharing the information. I do think that “peer pressure” plays a big role in how people decide things, and knowing that there is someone who questions this paradigm and has data to back it up can be a big game changer for some people.

    The only point I want to emphasize is that this kind of work has to be done with a sensitivity to the potential backlash for some people who are very committed to believing in the paradigm for whatever reason. Again, if it is a professional, I have no problem “shaming” them when they are using their power to do harm. I feel different about how to approach a person who has been a believer in this system from a “service user” point of view. I think it’s important to find out where the person is and how much they are able to process to avoid unnecessary pain and confusion. That doesn’t mean not to share the truth with such a person. It just means it’s important to do it in a way that is at least marginally digestible given their present viewpoint. It has been a path for many of us to get here, and it’s sometimes way too easy for those of us farther down the path to think that the truth is obvious, and to forget that we were once farther back along that path and that it took time and patience and multiple experiences for us to get to where we are today. And it’s also important to remember that others’ paths may look different than ours. We don’t want psychiatrists and “mental health” workers to assume we’re all the same – we ought to make sure not to do that to ourselves.

  • You as a client should NEVER have to give the “benefit of a doubt” to your supposed caretakers/helpers. It is THEIR responsibility to figure out what is helpful, or to admit that they don’t know how to help. It infuriates me (though it’s not surprising) to hear the staff telling YOU that you need to understand and take care of the staff who are supposed to be there to help YOU. I find it disgusting.

  • Have you looked into “Hearing Voices” groups? They are run by other people who have had similar experiences and can make suggestions of what may or may not be worth trying. If I were in your situation, I think I might start there.

  • It is certain that feelings of self-deprecation are present in most of us who grew up in this highly shaming society. They are exploited by the system in order to create more compliant “patients,” and this can be very effective. It’s easy to say “not to be open” to shaming, but that has been a journey of decades for me, and I don’t think we can expect most people to be free from it. The real shaming that goes on is the labeling of someone as inadequate or insufficient in the first place, and the responsibility for that shaming lies squarely on the shoulders of the “professionals” who engage in it.

  • I totally respect yours, Julie. I’m simply saying that therapy experiences are all different and that I have an issue with making gross generalizations about what therapists intend, even if in most cases it ends up being fruitless or counterproductive. Believe me, I recognize how fortunate I was to find the person I did! I also recognize that she could have taken the same approach with a different person and not gotten good results. (To her credit, she recognized and stated this to me as well.) It was a good match, for whatever reason, and worked for me.

    I also recognize that therapists such as Elissa would be much harder to find nowadays, since so many people have been trained and propagandized into the DSM model of reality.