Saturday, December 14, 2019

Comments by Steve McCrea

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  • I apologize if I seemed to minimize the incredible damage these drugs can do. I find them abominable and the lies about them and the pretense that they are so wonderful and that the “side effects” are someone’s “disorder” reasserting itself incredibly offensive. The point I am making is that the presence or absence of the drugs doesn’t address the bigger issue. I totally agree the drugs are bad news, and it’s my belief that anyone who gets TRUE informed consent about them would be VERY reluctant to use them at all. It is the framing of the problem as “biological” and the promise of FIXING the “imbalance of brain chemicals,” as well as the societal propaganda pushing all the blame for any behavioral or emotional issues that make the ‘status quo’ uncomfortable on the person with the emotions, or worse yet, on their brains, that allows these drugs to be marketed and sold. If that structure is removed, psychiatry is left with, “This might make you feel better temporarily or it might not. It has a bunch of risks and no long-term positive effects. It won’t solve any problem you have, the only thing it might do is temporarily make you feel better, and even that is not a guarantee.” If that is the marketing pitch, they’ll be right down there with the corner drug pusher, which frankly is where the bulk of psychiatrists belong.

  • The question I ask is this: is psychiatry really a “school of thought?” It purports to be a MEDICAL SCIENCE, with no actual support for that claim. It ignores its own research when it conflicts with the basic dogma of the belief system. People who don’t support those dogma are attacked and/or purged from the group. It seems a lot more like a RELIGION than a school of thought. A school of thought implies a philosophical viewpoint that is open to argumentation and new data. Psychiatry is unwilling to admit that it is promoting a philosophical viewpoint with which others may honestly disagree, and relies instead on having social power to enforce its dogma regardless of the truth. Which really prevents any kind of civil discourse with those who are unwilling to recognize the speculative and frankly dishonest nature of psychiatry as a “medical” field. For that reason, having a discussion about it feels like a big waste of time.

  • I think perhaps you are confusing these drugs, which people may find useful on occasion, and psychiatry, which comes up with socially-biased “labels” in committees of entitled old (mostly) men and lies consistently to people about the “biological origins” of their “disorders,” despite masses of evidence showing that 1) there are no identifiable physical indications of ANY of their so-called “disorders,” and 2) the “treatments” for these “disorders” are essentially an uncontrolled “experiment” where the experimenters declare success whenever anything good happens and blame any unexpected or undesired result on the client or the “disorder,” and 3) any and all evidence invalidating their “theories” is dismissed with unfounded “explanations” or ad hominem attacks on anyone who dares to challenge their dogmatic “reality.” I’d be happy to make drugs available (with GENUINE informed consent) to those who want them once the lies and excuses and pressures and marketing bullcrap area taken out of the equation.

    The problem isn’t the drugs – it’s the lies and the abuse of power that are the real core of psychiatry. And that core is, in fact, totally rotten.

  • “Therapists should have innate understandings of themselves, life, and the possibility of themselves being completely wrong.”

    You said a mouthful there! Success of “therapy” of any type has a lot more to do with the qualities and attitudes of the therapist than what “school” they subscribe to. In my experience, the very best counselors have no commitment to any particular approach, and do instead whatever works for their client. But such therapists are rarer than hen’s teeth!

  • I suppose if we define a “real leftist” as someone committed to actual empowerment of the masses, then I would agree with you. But there might not be a lot of “real leftists” around. There could certainly be people who are sincere but confused, or who have difficulty overcoming their authoritarian programming. The folks at the school I refer to for the most part really did believe in the model, at least to start with. They just got nervous and started panicking. It takes a lot of courage to really stick to one’s mission in the face of the training and pressure to the contrary. And there are a few people around pretty much any group who are mainly interested in gaining control of the group, and are only faking commitment. One school I helped create was destroyed by such a person.

    As to legitimate authority, of course, I’d agree with you 100%. When I talk about authoritarianism, I’m talking about the acceptance of certain people as authorities regardless of legitimacy, and authorities expecting compliance with their demands without question, as well as both authorities and members attacking on those who are willing to question the dogma of the authoritarian group.

    Again, I’m not trying to say this is hopeless or that we should give up. I am merely saying that one needs to be constantly vigilant about authoritarian types making their way into such an organization, as well as being vigilant that one’s own subconscious needs for control and safety don’t overshadow the goal of empowerment of the populace.

  • By all means, we should never stop working toward that goal. We simply need to do it in awareness that AUTHORITARIANISM is a deadly foe that is larger than capitalism itself. Freedom and mutual respect and support are the goals we need to pursue, not a different system with different bosses and different people in powerful and oppressed roles. But I think you agree with me on that point.

  • And just for the record, I don’t equate efforts to maintain the status quo at all costs, which tends to be the ‘right’ leaning form of authoritarianism, with efforts to force one person or group’s vision of change on society by force, which tends to be the ‘left’ leaning form, in my view. Fascism is fascism, it’s authoritarian for sure, but not all authoritarians lean toward fascism. As you well know, there have been plenty of ‘socialist’ dictatorships and lots of human rights abuses done in the name of “socialism.” My only real point is that ONLY looking to the “right” for authoritarianism fails to take into account the internalized oppression we’ve all experienced which leaves every one of us vulnerable to either kowtow to or engage in authoritarian tactics in the service of what seems to us to be a worthy goal. It is something that must be consciously identified and resisted if we’re going to create a different kind of society.

  • I think I understand you better at this point. I was simply stating that SOME authoritarianism can be found everywhere, because it is endemic to our society. By no means do I mean to suggest (or did I suggest) that it simply “human nature” – I believe, as I stated, that it is TRAINED into us from birth onwards, both explicitly by parents and churches and educational institutions and so forth, and implicitly by being the only game clearly on display, and by the hostility expressed toward those who refuse to go along with the status quo. It is a challenge to overcome that kind of training for anyone. For instance, in the “dictatorship of the proletariat” concept, the idea is that there is a temporary period during which the new ideas will become held by a majority of the people in the society, allowing this dictatorship to melt away. But during that period, there is an authority in charge of what should be taught and how it should be taught, and those doing the “teaching” ALL grew up with these authoritarian models of education. So it requires real care and attention not to replicate the same forms that we’re comfortable with, as my example of the “democratic school” shows so clearly. It is not enough to just believe in a revolution, we have to pay attention to how it will happen and what will happen afterwards. I don’t think it’s doomed to failure, but I do think these challenges are great, because a lot of the ideas and models we carry are not conscious (kind of like implicit racism or other unconscious biases). I have always found it of the greatest importance to address the dilemma of being a person of privilege and authority trying to help others to find their own freedom. How easy it is to fall into saying, “Do it my way, it works for me.” It is a challenge we must all keep at the top of our awareness any time we’re working for real empowerment of ourselves and others. That’s my experience anyway.

  • I didn’t say a lot of what you think I said, Richard. I think it’s important to be careful not to read into posts things that are your assumptions. I’d prefer if you’d simply ask for clarification if what I said is confusing.

    I believe that a lot of the current population is authoritarian, at both ends of the political spectrum, based solely on my own observation of people’s behavior. I believe this is mostly because of our authoritarian means of educating people and our ubiquitous authoritarian structures which seem to be “the only way” because people don’t SEE another way ever demonstrated to work. I certainly know people who are not authoritarian and believe that non-authoritarian structures can be found and/or created, and have spent a good proportion of my time on Earth working to create that possibility. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds, because we have all had this stuff hammered into us from birth, and people who are NOT authoritarian are punished for following their path. Naturally, authoritarianism occurs on a spectrum, and people are pushed back and forth based on how their efforts are perceived and reacted to by those around them. So encouraging anti-authoritarian thinking is possible and will push people in the direction of seeing things that way. But just as obviously, those who are running the current society are very invested in maintaining the current power dynamics and use authoritarian tactics to maintain them and push people to a more authoritarian view of the world. Revolutions have historically not always led to real change, because the internalized authoritarian underpinnings of the social system were not addressed, and the new rulers step into the authoritarian roles that they and the society they are part of feel comfortable with. This is a big part of why the current “liberals” in the USA have such a hard time supporting antipsychiatry as a movement – they are unable or unwilling to challenge the idea that doctors generally have their best interests at heart and should be trusted to make up rules that the rest of us should follow. That’s authoritarianism, and you see how strong it is when you try to talk to some (not all) “liberals” about the human rights concerns of those labeled “mentally ill,” with whom their stated philosophies should have great solidarity. But they don’t, because it’s not in their own structure of what is “right” and “good” and “wrong” and “bad.” They accept the authority of the doctor without questioning it. I saw a lot of this when working on creating democratic schools, where kids are mainly responsible for making up their own school rules and enforcing them. Parents and teachers SAID they believed in these principles, but when the kids’ standardized test scores started to come into play, or the District started complaining about the vagueness of the curriculum, they started getting unconsciously very nervous and bit by bit re-instituted authoritarian structures that were opposed to the mission, because they really weren’t quite comfortable themselves trusting kids to wield all that power themselves, much as they wanted to believe that they backed the mission 100%.

    The world is not a black and white place. I can certainly go into examples from our current world where people on the “left” engage in authoritarian behavior and don’t recognize it as such. Examples on the “right” are perhaps more obvious and easy to identify, but the idea that all authoritarians are right-leaning politically is just plain not borne out by the facts. There are also people who identify as “conservative” who are actually quite anti-authoritarian. We need to become more aware of this if we really want to change the way we’re doing business. Because in the end, “society” exists within the people who create and participate in it, and if we want to create a new society, we have to understand our internalized oppression and deal with it, or else we will perpetrate it in our new society as well. As the Who sagely suggested, we want to avoid a “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” situation. It is not enough to change the external structures of society. We have to change our own internalized structures, too. And that’s a lot of hard work that few are ready to take on, in my experience. That may seem jaded, and maybe it is, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think it can be done. I am saying that, as discouraging as it sounds, this reality MUST be dealt with, and pretending that it doesn’t exist will doom further revolutionary efforts to failure or limited success. We do ourselves no favors by ignoring this particular set of facts about human behavior.

    I hope that clarifies things.

  • The trick is, they portray anyone who actually gets caught as a “bad apple” and an outlier and assure everyone that they are HORRIFIED that any doctor would act this way, and THEY certainly don’t ever do anything like that! It is a great way to distract attention from any deeper investigation or analysis.

  • NA might not be a bad idea, I don’t know. It seems that familiarity with dealing with withdrawal might be valuable. I knew a former heroin addict who took SSRIs for a time, and she had bad withdrawals. She said she felt lucky she’d had to withdraw from heroin, because otherwise, she would not have understood what was happening or how to deal with it. Of course, the doctors never bothered to tell her that she might experience withdrawal.

  • A message from Sharon Crestinger, who has been an MIA poster in the past:

    I am thinking of Julie Greene today and am very sad for her transition from this dimension. I have many comrades and friends, but few contemporaries in the world of survivor and abolitionist essayists. Julie was usually the first one I could name. This was the context of our relationship.

    Writing was never a problem for Julie. She wrote and wrote, every day. It’s beyond an outrage that she was murdered by psychiatry at 62 with so much left to say. And, I am glad she said so much while she was here. Julie got discouraged and frustrated sometimes that her work didn’t find a wider audience, but she never gave up. I greatly admired how she kept going through the discrimination, marginalization, health problems, and everything else she faced as a survivor. She believed her writing and her activism made a difference and that if she and others just kept going, abolition would be a real possibility one day. Julie believed the work of abolition would eventually succeed in a very real and material way I greatly wish I could share.

    Julie was my best editor. The way she lived her life inspired me.

    I see a lot a grief for the end of Julie’s life. I’m trying hard to be outraged, but I am so sad and tired.

    I wish more people were outraged. I wish more people used the words murder and genocide to mark our passings.

    Safe travels, comrade. I’m so sorry you won’t see your writings elevated to the place of importance they will eventually occupy in our history.

    Sharon Jean Cretsinger
    Tijuana, December 7 2019

  • Your point about the “hostile takeover” is very well taken. There appeared to be little in the way of hostility – it was more of a merger made in the interests of monopolizing the market. Both sides agreed from the start, and both sides benefited massively from the collaboration. The only hostility was toward any whistle-blower who tried to point out what was really going on.

  • You seem to be coming from the assumption that all people with the “ADHD” label have the same problem or need the same kind of help. “ADHD” is just a name for a certain set of behaviors that have been identified as problematic. There are all kinds of reasons why people act that way, and hence all kinds of different things that might help different people. It makes total sense that some “ADHD” labeled people would do better with meditation and some would not, because they’re all different. Acting in a certain way doesn’t make people actually similar – it’s just a surface manifestation. Unless you know why it’s happening, you can’t say they are similar at all.

    Besides which, some people who act in ways that are called “ADHD” don’t believe they have any problem, just because other people have a problem with their behavior. And I tend to agree with them.

  • I’m so glad you said that! Science is MUCH better at disproving things than proving them. Scientific proof really consists of vigorous attempts at DISPROVING a hypothesis failing over an extended period of time. A scientific finding that can’t be replicated isn’t scientifically true any longer, but of course, psychiatry does not hold itself to such standards.

  • Ditching the DSM should be on the list. The DSM a highly trauma-misinformed or trauma-denying or trauma-delegitimizing document, and to attempt to provide “trauma-informed care” while working in a DSM framework is utterly impossible to accomplish. Those who really do effective trauma work either ignore the DSM entirely or use it for insurance billing. It has no place in actual therapeutic intervention for trauma survivors.

  • I think what bugs me about this is that it begs the very important question of why there would be debate in the first place. I bet you can’t find 8 or even 4 different audience critiques over clinical practice guidelines for heart attacks or broken limbs. Sure, there will be different opinions on particular approaches taken, and on the possible conflicts of interest with drug companies and others which plague the entire medical profession, but no one will be arguing that heart attacks don’t really happen or that it is a medicalization of a normal human variation. The main reason there are debates of this nature is specifically BECAUSE there is no scientific basis on which these “diagnoses” are formed. So yes, it is a social document, for sure, but one that has little to nothing to do with science and a lot to do with economics and sociology.

  • The problem with the label “PPD” is that it implies something you HAVE rather than something that is happening to you as the result of complex circumstances. Anyone who has had a child knows there are 50 reasons why you might be feeling depressed after the birth of a child. To mention one that never gets mentioned, domestic abuse often starts or escalates immediately after childbirth, and DV is hardly a rare occurrence. How many cases of emerging domestic abuse are papered over by the term “PPD?”

    I know I’m preaching to the choir here, and we are not in disagreement, but I wanted to make it clear from my viewpoint why the term PPD is particularly offensive to me.

  • Anecdotal evidence can be useful, but these studies are controlled and more intentionally screen out “false positives” and “false negatives.” The placebo effect is a HUGE part of why some people find their antidepressants effective. There are also many who find them effective to start with and then the effectiveness fades over time. There are also many who start on ADs and then have trouble coming off due to withdrawal effects, and many of these are told that this is their “depression coming back” and proof that the ADs are “working.” And of course, there are some who derive actual benefit from them in terms of feeling better, however that may be defined.

    Talking about understanding the “nuances of psychiatric care” is likely to be considered pretty insulting in this particular community, as most of the posters have been exposed to those “nuances” personally and can tell you a thing or two about just how “nuanced” the approach was in their particular case. I get that you have found ADs helpful for you or your clients, but it should be clear very quickly from reading these posts that this is NOT the case for everyone, and I think it would be wise to listen a little more to what people have to say about their own experiences before leaping to the conclusions that they “don’t understand” what psychiatric care is all about.

    BTW, have you read Anatomy of an Epidemic yet? You really should read it. It is the basis for this entire site and community, and might open your eyes a bit to what people here are protesting. Hint: the use of medication is not the main issue.

  • I guess some kids must not be “tough enough” to deal with the abuse and need to be diagnosed because their brains just aren’t up to the task of being forcibly separated from their families and kept in overcrowded little rooms or cages without knowing if or when they’ll ever be released. I guess the “mentally healthy” ones either lapse into total apathy or “look on the bright side” because “they control their own narrative.”

  • The idea of common sense suggests that a person with little to no education should be able to see the truth in it intuitively. I truly believe this is the case when it comes to understanding human beings and what we need from each other. Too much training, as you say, creates more and more confusion, because they’re making things more complicated than they really are. And then we get weird studies showing that “racism and oppression increase mental illness symptoms.” Gosh, who knew? It really isn’t that complicated, though it requires courage and willingness to experience intense feelings to fully understand, and that’s where a lot of “professionals” fail.

  • Though Oldhead may disagree with you, I do not. While psychiatry as a “profession” may not be a legitimate “service” that actually intends to meet anyone’s needs but their own need for money and power, most people who seek out psychiatry DO have a need of some sort that our society is not meeting. While there is no real hope for reforming psychiatry, as its intentions are not actually to help (though individuals within the system may have that intention), there are people who need real support and caring which our society fails to provide (or at times actively opposes). We need a plan to help such folks (which let’s be honest has included most of us at one time or another), and I do think that having such a plan will make it easier to get rid of psychiatry, as it will remove one excuse/justification for psychiatry’s existence. Naturally, the psychiatric hierarchy will attack any such attempt with vigor, but that is to be expected, as they will see their gravy train being derailed. So we’re not talking of an “alternative to psychiatry,” but a viable way to help folks who are suffering from the oppression of our patriarchal, authoritarian and capitalistic greed-and-power based system of social control.

  • Do you know of any evidence that any of these “disorders” are physical problems? I don’t. For sure, physiology can be involved, including things like sleep, diet, exercise, drug intake, physical pain, etc. And there ARE physiological conditions that can cause mental/emotional effects (like Lyme Disease). But so far as I know, there is no proof that any “mental illness” is consistently CAUSED by a physiological problem. Remember that these entities are defined by committees voting, not by any kind of scientific process. How would they even know the cause if they are defined by a list of behaviors and feelings?

  • I have found the same. You can’t fully trust someone until they’ve seen you let loose with your most difficult feelings and behavior and find they still want to be around you. There is no intimacy without vulnerability, but we’re taught all the time (which actually starts making it true) that sharing our true selves is foolish and dangerous and we’d better keep those masks on, or else!

    I personally found school particularly awful in this way. Keeping one’s own integrity in place in a standard school environment is next to impossible for most kids.

  • And our society as a whole makes it even harder, as even those women with no trauma history are taught that their value lies in sexual attractiveness and acceptability of appearance to others. But naturally, this kind of issue does not appear to carry any weight with the paternalistic psychiatric profession, which seems myopically committed to blaming the victim and letting social institutions off the hook.

  • I heard an almost exact replica of your description from a coworker who was taking Zoloft for migraine headaches, not “depression.” She was shocked with how “reasonable” the idea of suicide seemed to her, just a casual thought, like, “I could go to the store. I could kill myself.” I do think the “positive effect” of SSRIs is a lessening of empathic connection to others. For some people, this will feel like a relief. For others, it will make things seem reasonable that would have seemed outrageous before. Including suicide or murder in some cases.

  • Commenting as moderator: Just so you know, I will never moderate you for including accurate descriptions of your experience, no matter how ugly it was. Moderation is only for things that attack or distract, not for things that are true but uncomfortable. Sharing the true but uncomfortable is a lot of what this site is all about!

  • I think you hit it on the head. “Mentally healthy” in these circles seems to mean not experiencing any strong emotion of any type. Like Stepford Wives or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. “Once you do the transformation, you’ll understand.” If those pea pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers really existed, the psychiatric profession would be very excited about them.

  • Wish they’d be a little more definitive in their conclusions: “The use of ADM for adolescent depressive symptoms is not supported, as the risks far outweigh the ostensible benefits.” Or “Doctors should not use ADM as a treatment modality for children or adolescents having depressive symptoms.”

    Of course, the idea of “treating” depression is problematic in itself.

  • ““Partnership-based relationships seem to promote personal recovery more than traditional expert–patient relationships. Our findings also indicate that mental health services need to be organized, more individually tailored, and “bottom-up,” starting with the needs, preferences, and goals of service users.”

    This is a very euphemistic way of saying that seeing a doctor is not likely to be helpful, and that services that ARE actually helpful are ones that start from the client’s needs and preferences. Is this news to anyone? But good for them for making it explicit.

  • That was my experience as well. I remember being a safety patrol and having to keep the kids outside the building when it was 20 degrees out while the teachers walked around inside drinking coffee in their comfy sweaters. I think that was the first time it really struck me clearly just how systematically abusive the system was.

  • Well, ugh! But in addition, what does he think the chemicals in the brain are made from? Food, obviously. Even if one fully embraces the “chemical imbalance” myth (which even psychiatrists are now finally backing away from), it would still make sense that nutrition would be a viable intervention.

    I wonder how much money he gets from Big Pharma every year? Sounds more like a drug salesman than a doctor.

  • And I’d probably be much more interested in talking to one who did than one who simply believed in the “status quo” mythology.

    It is my understanding that traditional healers are part and parcel of psychiatric care in Brazil, and they do, in fact, come in and deal with spirits. I also know of a case in Texas, I believe, where a spiritual healer came over from Mexico and cured a person deemed “severely treatment resistant” by the doctors.

    Compared to “standard treatment,” I’d take spirit dispossession any day of the week.

  • The authors’ experience is not in the least bit surprising, and they properly identify the privilege and power of the academic elite who don’t want their authority challenged. I would have liked to hear more of a connection made between that power and the money flowing to institutions from psychiatry, from equipment makers, and from the pharmaceutical industry. Academia has been largely corrupted when the door was opened to big corporations essentially buying research that promotes their product, including the right to not publish research which is critical. This ethos permeates the entire academic world (not just in psychiatry) to the extent that it is almost invisible to those who swim in that particular water. We don’t bite the hand that feeds us, especially when the owner of the hand can now bite back so painfully. We have to get big corporations disconnected from academic research!

  • The term “social psychiatry” appears to me to be an oxymoron. It fails to recognize the corrupt nature of the current biomedical model and suggests that it is feasible to “integrate” this model with more social/psychological views of emotional distress. This is in my view impossible, because the biomedical model is driven by profits and the interests of the APA to control the narrative, and is not in any way directed toward “health,” even in the metaphorical sense. It is directed toward profit and control, and as such, can’t be integrated into anything rationally focused on improving people’s lives. If you want a socially responsible and flexible approach to people’s emotional well being, don’t bother with the current model. You’d need to start over from scratch.

  • If someone were NOT a therapist, just a friend or colleague, do you believe that that person might listen to someone else’s experience in a non-exploitative way? And that such listening could be helpful to the person telling their story? Is it possible that those “on the barricades” might tell each other stories during lulls in the fighting, and that they might benefit from sharing their stories with each other?

  • If I really wanted to reform schools to improve what they metaphorically and euphemistically refer to as the children’s “mental health,” they could start by reforming the authoritarian nature of the student-teacher relationship and give the students more control and some genuine recourse when they have been wronged by the staff or other students. There are any number of “democratic schools” around the country and the world, starting with Summerhill way back in the early 1900s. At Summerhill, students got to choose what classes they attended, including not attending any class at all. And yet the students chose to attend classes most of the time and would ask kids who were not serious about studying to leave. They made their own rules and had their own justice system for kids AND adults who might have transgressed the school’s agreed laws. The students and staff all got one vote at the meetings, and staff were frequently overruled in their suggestions. This is the kind of approach that is needed if we want our students to be “mentally healthy” – an environment where they are trusted, where they have responsibility and control, where they are able to protect themselves from abusive or coercive behavior of others, where adults are there to help the students pursue their own goals instead of forcing the students to pursue the adults’ goals. Most adults are horrified by such an arrangement and believe that students will never learn anything unless they are forced and coerced and punished into compliance. This is because our culture hates and disrespects children, and most of adult “mental illness” starts from the disrespect and mistreatment of children as they grow up.

    It is laughable in my view for schools to talk about improving students’ “mental health” when the reality is that schools do a huge amount of mental/emotional damage to our kids that many never recover from.

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