Monday, November 20, 2017

Comments by Steve McCrea

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  • One thought that you could change (if you wanted to) might be the idea that you have to change who you are to be acceptable. It sounds like that message was pounded into you by your parents, your school, your peers AND your therapists. I had to learn that same lesson in my 20s, and fortunately had a quality therapist who understood what it was I needed to do. A therapist telling you how you should feel/react is the worst of all of your story – it’s unforgivable! Therapists should be on YOUR side, 100% of the time!

    Thanks for sharing your story. I have to say, I’ve worked with lots of people with the BPD label and didn’t know a single one who didn’t have a story of being abused, labeled and misunderstood in their past. I also found school to be particularly traumatic, but no one wants to look at our society and how it contributed to making people “mad”, figuratively AND literally! I hope you can continue to connect with people who love and accept you for who you are.

  • The challenge I found working in the system wasn’t that I was forced to recommend drugs or any particular “treatment,” it was that the system was so committed (sorry, bad pun!) to that approach that I could make no impact on it. So introducing someone to that system meant introducing them to drugs in most cases, even if I personally did all I could to to keep them on another path. I couldn’t live with myself after a pretty short while! Though I have to say, when I started out doing residential care for teen moms, NO ONE was on drugs (1986). Things have changed dramatically for the worse.

    Grief coach sounds good! How do you get “qualified” to do such work?

    — Steve

  • I tend to agree, bullying is more or less a consequence of our industrialized society where communities have been undermined by the need for mobile workers and homogeneous (if shallow) belief systems. I find it interesting that bullying programs in schools always focus on bullying of kids by other kids, but never address bullying of kids by adults, or the bullying of one adult by another. Kinda missing a big part of the picture, IMHO.

  • My caveat to that is that there ARE biological events and processes which affect “mental health,” such as sleep, nutrition, physical pain, other drugs, toxic environmental exposures, thyroid problems, etc. These should be looked at as potential causes or exacerbating factors. But the concept that you’re depressed or whatever because your brain is acting badly is pitifully lacking in any scientific validity. The vast majority of psychological/emotional issues are indeed stress-induced, as any bright 10 year old already understands. The amazing thing is how marketing techniques have overridden the commonsense understanding that most people have of how and why people get depressed/anxious/angry and how deeply this biological brain disease concept has become embedded in our society!

  • That’s where I’m at, too. There might be some minority percentage of depressed people who have something demonstrably wrong with their brains, but until there is evidence that this is the case, and these people can accurately be identified, medical approaches are dangerous and inappropriate except perhaps in acute and very temporary situations (like pain killers for a broken leg). Using psychiatric drugs to “treat” depression is like doing surgery with a jigsaw. You don’t even know what you’re fixing but you start throwing stuff at it and hope it goes away. We can all accomplish this at the corner bar. It’s not medicine.

  • What would stop a therapist from encouraging and supporting his/her clients’ need for justice through political action? I have been a therapist in the past, and I encouraged many domestic abuse victims to get involved in political action to protect survivors and their kids. I’ve also encouraged youth in foster care to get involved with a group of current and former foster youth that lobbies the legislature and even submits laws every two years (they’ve never failed to get one passed!), and I was an adult supporter of their efforts. And in truth, I had no “doctrine” except that “every person is different and deserves their own unique approach and relationship.” Of course, I had an advantage – I never got any actual training to be a therapist!

  • Yeah, if we’re going to label people, let’s go with “He’s a freakin’ asshole” rather than “He has Bipolar.” We’re both admitting to the fact that we’re making a moral judgment and also creating a context to expect him to behave otherwise, rather than making an excuse for his abusive behavior and creating feelings of pity rather than the appropriate righteous indignation.

  • I had what I consider quality therapy in my 20s, and far from teaching me not to have my feelings, I learned to be more aware of the injustices I’d experienced and to feel properly angry and hurt instead of pretending that nothing happened or that it was my fault or that “they couldn’t help themselves.” There were no excuses made for my parents, brothers, the schools, church, or any other injustice I’d experienced. She just made it feel safe for me to experience what I’d repressed in the past. Sure, it didn’t make the world more just, but it put me in a position where I could avoid or fight injustice where I saw it, and where I could recognize that the injustice that occurs is not caused by the recipient nor does it mean anything about the one being attacked or mistreated. I learned a LOT of important lessons, not because she taught them to me, but because she made it safe to FEEL again. Which is kind of the opposite of what you’re suggesting therapy is about. Now I’m the first to admit, I lucked out, and would be a lot more lucky today to find such a quality therapist, what with everyone trained to diagnose and judge these days. But to suggest that all therapy is about denying injustice and suppressing your feelings is not true, at least in my case.

  • They don’t include them because they have an agenda. Look how hard they worked to explain away Harrow and Wunderlink and the WHO studies! You’d think they’d be interested to find out how they could accomplish 60% funtional recovery rates. But their finanical conflicts of interest drive everything they do, and anyone in the fold who tries to go another direction is shouted down or driven out. It all comes down to MONEY. Psychiatry is hopelessly corrupt, and no amount of data, no matter how convincing, will change their attitudes.

  • You know what I’ve found the best marker of distress to be? I ask the person, “How are you feeling?” If they tell me they’re depressed, or describe a depressing outlook, I conclude they are depressed. I think this whole biological marker idea is just a waste of time. People know how they feel, even if they have a hard time explaining it to you. The only real thing a therapist can do for a person is to help them become aware of their own observations, and perhaps become aware that they can view the situation from a different perspective. I think biological changes are usually effects, not causes, and as such deserve very little scrutiny. And those that ARE causal (such as thyroid problems, lack of sleep, chronic pain, etc.) should be treated in their own right and not in the context of “depression.”

  • Which is why it’s pretty much a waste of time. We know that heart disease is heritable, but there is no gene or set of genes that “cause” heart disease, because there are SO many variables that go beyond genetics that there is no way to even identify the genes that might convey vulnerability. Stress, style of eating, exposure to toxic substances, lack of exercise, diabetes, smoking, legal drug exposure (antipsychotics are particularly horrible in this area) and on and on. If this is true for heart disease, something you can visibly see and measure, how much MORE true is it for “mental disorders,” which are defined solely on behavior and emotional experiences that are far more affected by post-birth variables than heart disease.

    It’s just a losing proposition, which is why they’ve never found a genetic basis for any of these “mental illnesses” as defined by the DSM. The definitions are made up based on social concerns. Why would all people who are depressed, anxious, intense, easily bored, etc. all be that way for the same reason? Why would we assume they have anything at all in common besides their behavior?

    We’d be much better off spending our time and money reducing poverty and childhood trauma, and assisting immigrants with their integration into new cultural milieus. We might also learn a lot from studying cultures where recovery rates are WAY higher than ours, like Columbia and Nigeria and India. Interestingly, one thing those countries have in common is using a lot less antipsychotic drugs!

  • You’re not the first to observe this similarity. It is disturbing, but the use of power and control tactics permeates our society, and any time there is a power imbalance, those who enjoy feeling superior and humiliating others will gravitate to those positions. It also appears that our system is based on the assumption that their must be “authorities” who decide what to do and “clients/patients” who have things done TO them, so the power/control dynamics are built into the system, and even those IN the system who oppose such behavior are often powerless to stop it, as they are themselves abused if they step out of line.

    We need a “new deal!”

  • The disconnect between the data and mainstream practice is so profound, and it seems that logic and research make no dent in it. It seems obvious that if you could safe 20% of people, or even 10%, or 5%, from the long- and short-term consequences of antipsychotics, anyone who cared about their patients would want to know. I can only conclude that caring about patients is a secondary concern (at best) of our leading psychiatric “opinion leaders.”

  • Supposing you identify a subgroup that has a certain gene. What would you suggest could be done to help these people as opposed to those who do not? This is not even considering the fact that 40 years of genetic research has failed to turn up any gene that explains more than a tiny fraction of any psychiatric disorder, or even of the vast majority of known physiological problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. But say we did discover such a gene – what would be the intervention?

  • Let’s say we discover that, say, 10% of cases of “schizophrenia” (whatever that is) have a genetic contribution. What do we do with that? What benefit is there to know this? How will it help us help people who suffer in this particular way?

    We already know that traumatic exposure in childhood has an 80+% correlation to psychotic problems. We have not found anything close to even 15% correlation with genetics, even when multiple genes are included as well as multiple “disorders.” And you can’t do ANYTHING about genetics anyway! Why don’t we spend our time and energy dealing with the 80% effect that we actually CAN do something about, instead of wasting billions researching something that isn’t even within our control? Does that make sense to you?

  • I don’t think the suffering that is called “mental illness” in our society is made up. I think that the CONCEPTS they put forward as “mental illnesses” are in fact made up. In other words, people DO have mood swings, hallucinations, anxiety, etc. But finding someone who is genuinely depressed and saying “you have depression” really is an invention, especially if we regard “depression” as a brain illness of some sort. People are depressed for all sorts of reasons, some of them physiological, some of them psychological, some of them social, some of them spiritual. Calling them all “depression” takes away their meaning and prevents us from really looking into what is going on.

    It’s easier to see with something like “ADHD.” We decide that being active and disliking boredom and not liking to sit still or take orders are bad things because kids like that are harder to manage in a classroom. And instead of talking to the kid or finding out when he is bored and why or creating more interesting and engaging things to do or challenging him with more advanced work or putting him into a different classroom with a more stimulating teacher or structure, we say “He has ‘ADHD’ and that’s why he’s having trouble” and we give him stimulants. I’m not saying he isn’t highly active and intolerant of boredom and disorganized, etc, etc, but why do we assume that all kids who act like that have something wrong with them? And why do we assume that all of them have the SAME thing wrong with them, and need the same “treatment?” Especially when we now know that this “treatment” doesn’t actually lead to better long-term outcomes, it seems pretty silly to just group everyone together who acts in a similar fashion and say they have a “disease.” Why not just say, “He likes to run around a lot and doesn’t like doing boring things” and go from there.

    A description of behavior can’t possibly be a disease. It’s the IDEA of these “diseases” defined by behavior and emotion that is invented.

  • I hate to tell you this, but in the USA, where we don’t have “single payer,” you still can’t really get a second opinion. Or you can, but it will almost always be the same as the first opinion, because the system tells providers what they can get paid for. The only way to get a real “second opinion” is to find a rebel who bills with the DSM but otherwise ignores it and does what helps. Such people are rarer than hens’ teeth, even in our “free choice” health system. Besides which, most people don’t have a free choice – their provider is chosen by their employer, and they are stuck with what they get. Of course, if you’re rich enough, you can afford to purchase decent therapy, but for the common man, single payer is not the barrier – psychiatry and its selling of delusional “diseases” is the barrier.

  • Few people would argue that the biological has nothing to do with what are called “mental illnesses.” The difficulty is one of objectivity. Even if the number’s arbitrary, you can at least say that someone has “high blood pressure” when their blood pressure exceeds a certain agreed-upon standard. There is no such standard for “mental illnesses.” In fact, just taking the biological aspect of depression, you are no doubt aware that depression can be caused or made worse by sleep loss, physical pain, vitamin deficiency, poor diet, lack of exercise, thyroid problems, low testosterone, other hormonal variations, and other physiological things? Does it make sense to say you “have depression” when your problem is low thyroid, and that someone else “has depression” when they are suffering from chronic sleep loss due to chronic leg pain? Why would these conditions be lumped together as being the same thing? They have different causes and different effective treatments. So how could you possibly develop an objective scale to measure something that is not really the same thing? It’s like diagnosing “pain” instead of looking for the cause of the pain.

    That’s not even getting into the wide range of psychological/social reasons someone may be depressed. Does the person who was sexually abused as a child need the same kind of intervention as the one who is currently being beaten by her husband weekly or the one who is using methamphetamine or the one who is in a dead-end job and sees no future for him/herself? What about the one who is using heroin because she’s got chronic pain and looses sleep because her husband broke her jaw and she’s afraid to go to the hospital to get it repaired? How could these extremely variable presentations be considered the same “disease?”

    Again, no one is denying that biological factors play a role. But to reduce “depression” to a disease denies the fact that people are depressed for a hundred different reasons and need a hundred different interventions. What is the point of defining a “disease” when the diagnosis doesn’t tell you what kind of help the person would need?

    Hope that makes some sense to you.

    — Steve

  • It is sad in the extreme that our system is so warped that no one even wants to hear about how traumatized you were as a kid, or even as a wife on an ongoing basis! But you are far from alone. The best I can suggest is that you figure out what to tell them so they’ll let you out, and then fade into the woodwork so they can’t find you again, and meanwhile, find a support group for domestic abuse victims or those sexually assaulted as children. Your peers will be a much more reliable source of support than these sadly mis-educated, insecure “professionals” who are too scared to feel anything at all.

    I agree that Borderline PD has been used as a means of silencing or ridiculing those who have experienced abuse. In the end, it is simply a description of how some people act when they have not been protected from harm early in their childhoods. It means nothing about you, but a lot about them that they need to use this label to defend themselves against the reality of childhood abuse and molestation.

    I wonder if you can redirect your anger toward a mission to simply escape their clutches and find another pathway forward for yourself that allows real healing?

  • You’re actually saying the same thing I am – science is not able to study the mind because the mind transcends the physical plane of existence. Studying the brain will never lead to understanding of the mind. Materialism is a school of philosophy, not a requirement for being “scientific.” I do believe that science can study the manifestations of the mind IN the physical universe, but there is no way science can determine that the actions of the mind ” are all automatic.”

    It seems we agree on almost all points.

  • Hey, I am all about mindfulness and meditation and Buddhism. But it’s still not science. It’s philosophy, which I consider VERY important, but it’s not science. My contention is that science has nothing to say about free will, determinism, or mind streams, and my objection was to the statement that “scientific research has shown that all our experiences are automatic.” My philosophical assertion is that this is impossible to prove by any scientific means. Science has no clue what the mind is, and as long as psychiatry or any other discipline insists on studying only the body, it will never have any clue. I agree that Buddhism does the best of any discipline in defining and understanding the mind. But again, Buddhism is not science.

  • By the way, I understand what you’re saying about the mind stream, and it is arguable that the decisions a person makes are inevitable, since all events and input led them to that decision at that time. But that seems to be freezing time and the moment of decision, and time is not frozen. A person has a decision to make, and they make a decision. Perhaps it is true that they are inevitably going to make that decision under the exact same circumstances, but of course, that premise is completely untestable, since we can’t go back in time. For this reason, I contend that there is no way to “prove” that a decision could or could not be made another way than it is. It is pure philosophical speculation, not science.

  • Sorry, I see absolutely no way that scientific research could possibly determine that all our experiences are automatic. And people do things for their own reasons, not always due to social pressures. In fact, some times people choose to go against advice, suggestion, social convention because of some value-based decision regarding higher priorities. It seems likely to me that you and the other scientists are simply assuming materialism to draw your conclusions. If you can provide me a live link, I could analyze it further, but on the face of it, I see no way that anyone could conclude anything about how decisions are made simply by studying brain scans and the like. Perhaps you could explain how this conclusion is drawn. I am not saying that the belief in independent will power is any more or less scientifically supported. I’m saying that science has nothing to say about it, as the human mind is the most complex and mysterious phenomenon in the world, and I doubt that it will ever be explained by science.

  • I do like this analogy also. The painting is more than the paint and the canvas, and you can study the components of the paint and canvas for years and years and learn exactly nothing about what makes a painting. Because there is MEANING in the painting, there is an intended communication of an idea which is in no way reducible to the medium used to communicate it. It is actually pretty insulting to any human being to suggest that their life and decisions have no meaning. It’s about the same as saying that a painting is no different than a can of paint being spilled on the floor.

  • So are you suggesting that I can’t decide to teach myself to dance or to pitch a base ball or to memorize a list of spelling words? Are you saying that something “leads me” to decide to learn to pitch and that I have no choice about it? Again, determinism is a PHILOSOPHICAL viewpoint, not a scientific one. I’d suggest that it is apparent that humans do, in fact, intentionally reprogram their brains based on their personal intent. This is a free-will argument, and I don’t see you have said anything that suggests it is not true, other than that you don’t believe in that concept personally.

  • I think you can at least conclude that the treatments offered don’t improve the situation. If you looked at knee pain, people with more severe knee pain might get more pain relievers on the average, but one would assume that the overall TREATMENT for knee pain would REDUCE the knee pain over time. What is the point of “treatment” if more severe sufferers don’t accomplish a bigger reduction in suffering from receiving increased treatment? The “more depressed people get more antidepressants” argument doesn’t hold water.

  • That’s a very good point. Unfortunately, psychiatry has defined the terms of engagement, and if one wants to make an impact within the system, one has to start from their definitions, no matter how irrational or subjective. The good news is, even using their own terms and measurements, their drugs fail miserably! Proving such may be a key part of establishing a new paradigm where recognition of the idiocy that underlies defining “diseases” by behavioral or emotional manifestations becomes the new reality.

  • This site exists to distribute actual DATA from scientific studies, as well as anecdotal stories such as your own. Your story is data of a sort, but all it demonstrates is that sometimes these drugs work well for some people. The study, however, looked at many hundreds or thousands of people, and it showed that ON THE AVERAGE, antidepressants made no difference or in fact made things worse, and that most people are better off without them. This finding does NOT conflict with your story in the least. It says that your experience is not what most people will experience, that’s all.

    My question to you is this: if you are so comfortable saying that this approach worked for you, why does it bother you when an honest research study is published whose results are not what you expected? Do you believe that your personal experience must translate into everyone’s personal experience? Do you think psychiatry should be based on science, or individual stories? Why is it difficult to accept that a study might find that most people are not having the same positive experience you have had?

  • It appears to me that knowledge is synthesized information that is useful for the purposes of solving a problem in survival. It does not appear to me that there is a requirement of social interaction to have knowledge – merely a sentient relationship to the environment. A hermit still has the knowledg of how to build a hut, set a trap, light a fire, etc.

    As for mind-body dualism, most definitely not required in the sense of body-spirit as separate entities (though I will note that no one has presented scientific evidence that eliminates that possibility – the requirement that all things reside in the physical universe is a philosophical one, not a scientific one.) It should be very clear that the brain runs the body, but that it is clearly and obviously “programmable” by experience and education. It is easy to observe that the “program” can be massively altered without any change to the “hardware” at all. So it is that some people speak Chinese from birth because that’s what they are taught, but they can learn English or Swahili by reprogramming. I would suggest that the MIND is the analogy for the program. This theory effectively explains all actions of the mind without resorting to mind-body dualism at all.

    The “mind-body dualism is wrong” argument is a bunch of hot air. Too bad so many folks confuse science with the philosophy of materialism. They are not even close to the same thing.

  • If someone hits you with a car, and your leg is broken, is it invalidating to talk about your leg healing? Is it blaming the victim of the car crash to say, “Hey, if you set that bone and splint it, you will probably be able to walk normally again?” Does it make it like the bone was never broken? No. Does it mean you’re able to function better, even if you’re not back to 100%? Yes. Does it excuse the person who hit you with the car? Absolutely not. I am the last person in the world to blame children for the abusive behavior by their parents or by the system. I am simply saying that there are things that a person who is hurt can do to make their lives more livable. Part of that healing might very well involve taking political action to fight the systemic abuse of kids and others.. It often does. But healing does not, in my mind, imply even forgiveness of the abuse, and absolutely does not include blame of the person so harmed. It’s just a question of whether you have to sit on the road with your leg broken for ever, or to take action to help it mend after the trauma of the accident. Hope that makes things clearer.

  • I met a guy when I was advocating for nursing home residents who was so drugged that he could barely open his eyes, and had bruises on his head from running into the doorframe, as he could not navigate through the door. I talked to the activity director, and she said they’d been hitting a volleyball back and forth in the courtyard only a week or so before. They put him on a neuroleptic for “aggressive behavior,” not for a “mental illness” diagnosis. Something tells me his sudden inability to play volleyball (or get out of his chair for that matter) was not because his “mental illness” was so severe.

    — Steve

  • I am with Chaya. I have worked for many years with foster youth and I can say that hitting, beating, burning, sexual abuse are by no means restricted to the poor or working classes. That being said, I do agree, Tireless, that rich and middle class folks are often able to avoid the consequences of their violence and abuse, as they can afford to hire threatening attorneys, they live further away from neighbors and mandated reporters, and their status enables them to claim “I wouldn’t do something like that” with more credibility. That’s the nature of privilege.

    I would also disagree with you that no healing can occur. It’s true, like any injury, that spiritual injuries leave a scar behind, but I have known many people who have made very workable lives for themselves and who have achieved a large degree of happiness and peace of mind despite abuse they experienced. It can never be like it never happened at all, but it is possible to find a way forward for many folks. I think each has their own path to get there, but don’t give up hope – it can and has been done!

  • As usual, they miss the point. The reason they lack “cross-cultural validity” is because the scales are “measuring” cultural constructs loaded with bias. Naturally, different cultures have different biases, so the “tests” look different if you run them in another cultural milieu. The real answer it to stop pretending they are “measuring” anything real, and remember that “psychopathology,” as academic as that word makes it seem, is almost completely a matter of cultural values, and is, therefore, not measurable as a “real” quantity.

  • I have always thought that “boundaries” have become an excuse for avoiding genuine human interaction. And you’re right, they have also become a power exercise for staff who have big control issues. I find it pitiful, as genuine human contact appears to me to be the #1 antidote to “mental health disorders.” The whole industry is corrupt and disturbed. They are the ones who need healing!

  • Fantastically written, very moving testimony! As always, it is love and compassion and shared humanity which heals. Perhaps the psychiatrists and the mean staff have never had this experience themselves and are in need of some hugs from the residents/inmates, who appear to understand far more about “mental health treatment” than the staff does!

  • I think the underlying issue is that we live in a culture that is fundamentally based on oppression. While oppression affects people of color more severely, the fact is that ALL of us operate under some degree of oppression, whether from being female, being children, being elderly, being poor or even working class, or whatever. Even powerful white males experience oppressive conditions, because in order to keep their dominance, they have to agree to operate within certain very restrictive and dehumanizing rules, including being expected to fully support the oppression of others lower on the economic/power scale than themselves. This is easily seen when a kid in school stands up for the “weird kid” or the gay kid or the bully’s victim – even if that kid is not in a despised group, s/he quickly becomes the victim of bullying him/herself as soon as s/he steps outside of the expected behavior of the dominant culture. This will only change when folks band together and realize that the dominant culture itself is the problem, and that bullies can’t bully when the group rises together in resistance.

  • It is interesting that they talk about “differing demographics impacting imaging results” or some such, but overlook the more important conclusion: BRAIN DEVELOPMENT IS MASSIVELY IMPACTED BY ENVIRONMENT! This kind of research should immediately put any speculation about “brain illnesses” explaining “mental health issues” to rest, but of course, the authors don’t even notice this very important issue and focus instead on “sampling problems.” It shows how biased and unbending the medical model worldview really is.

  • Why anyone would believe that all or most cases of a “disorder” identified by behavioral or emotional characteristics would possibly yield genetic causality is beyond my comprehension. It’s like trying to find the cause of car accidents. Yes, they have the similar appearance of one car crashing into another. But they can be caused by sleepy drivers, ice, poor road signs, aggressive driving behavior, distractions, mechanical malfunctions, and on and on. To postulate that EVERY car crash is caused by something wrong with the car is idiotic. Similarly idiotic to suggest that a particular behavior pattern MUST always be caused by some kind of genetic fault in the person engaging in the behavior. Unfortunately, facts don’t seem to deter these fanatical researchers, because they just KNOW they will find a genetic cause because it HAS to be genetic because, because, well, you know, SCIENCE!

  • Part of the larger issue of corruption and propagandizing by the power elite. If the focus is freedom to make one’s own decisions without lies and force, I think there isn’t as much room between you and the “reformers” than you might imagine. It is for the most part only the hopeful and perhaps delusional belief that these guys will listen to reason that differentiates the two groups, IMHO.

  • Sounds like Alice Miller’s work. She’s amazing if you’ve never read her. Totally gets the impact of even more diffuse trauma, like constantly getting the message you’re not living up to parental expectations, or being expected to emotionally care for a parent who is not specifically abusive but needy and self-centered. Of course, she has been ignored or castigated by the mainstream.That’s usually a sign you’re onto something, when the Powers that Be get upset with you!

  • Right – that’s my objection, because saying “overdiagnosis” suggests there is a correct level of “diagnosis” that is being missed somehow. But how could the correct diagnostic frequency ever be established when there’s no measurement to refer to? Even hokey medical diagnoses like “obesity” have a numerical standard, if a somewhat arbitrary one. You can measure someone’s weight and height or BMI and say where they fall on the scale. You can’t even do that with “mental illness.” You’re ill because someone decided you are ill, and the culture supported it. It’s such BS, but unfortunately most of our society is brainwashed into thinking it makes sense when it does not.

  • I have also known lots of foster kids who were “diagnosed” in their younger years, but who miraculously “recovered” once they escaped the foster care system and their enforced “mental health” treatment. Certainly, many foster youth go on to the adult “MH” system or to the prison system, but I strain to think of even one “recovered” foster youth who attributed his/her success to proper diagnosis and medical “treatment” of his/her “condition.” They always describe a PERSON or RELATIONSHIP or ACTIVITY they engaged in as critical to their success.

    They tend to recover when they have a sense of purpose and are able to assert some control over their own lives. Weird, isn’t it, how having more control of your life and decisions and environment helps make you “mentally healthy?”

  • They are missing the most basic reason – there is no definition for “overdiagnosis” when there are no objective criteria for “diagnosis” in the first place. The main reason for “overdiagnosis” is that anyone can be diagnosed with anything based on someone else’s opinion, and there are HUGE incentives to diagnose and therefore blame kids for creating problems that are actually created by adult inflexibility, neglect, or abuse.

  • This is the ultimate truth that psychiatry and the drug companies have been empowered to cover up. And it’s not just parents – our social institutions are very responsible for abuse, physical and emotional. Churches and schools promote fear of authority. In my case, this included being hit and sent out of the classroom in second grade for speaking up when the teacher tossed a book across the room in a rage, as well as being laughed at and abandoned in a hallway by a Sunday school class at the age of 4. These are only the more obvious manifestations. The maxim “It’s no one’s fault” was created to protect adults from responsibility for their hurtful behavior toward our society’s children, and also from becoming conscious of the fact that they were abused in the same way when they were kids.

    Thanks for speaking the truth, Chaya, and eloquently!

  • This would mean that our bought-off congresspersons will have to bit the hands that feed them. The flow of money from big corporations to our politicians will have to stop before this kind of scandal is actually taken seriously. I just read that Trump’s new appointment for Drug Czar helped right a bill to hamper the DEA investigating drug companies involved in this very problem. Corruption is at the core of these problems, and needs to be our real target!

  • This article provides an excellent analysis of how the diagnosis-focused viewpoint impedes actual investigation of real issues, and how parents can influence school behavior. It unfortunately does not directly address school staff behavior or structural issues that help create these “ADHD” problems. However, it does a great job of showing just how totally subjective this diagnosis is, and why the very concept of diagnosing creates more problems for kids AND schools than it ever can possibly solve.

  • Corruption is, indeed, the key to why things keep staying the same. We have to develop incentives for people to do the right thing, and penalties for doing the wrong thing that are much larger than the profits gained by doing it. It is a very complex process to accomplish this, however. In the meanwhile, people are being hurt TODAY and I believe providing and promoting alternatives is essential to minimize the harm that’s being done, as well as providing a direction for our incentives to push people once we gain control of the wheels of power.

    The real problem is that “power corrupts,” and it is always possible, maybe even likely, that if people within this movement gained control, they would perpetrate similar oppression on those without. So the ultimate goal, I think, is shared power, and that CAN be promoted both locally/immediately to those in need, as well as politically, as we work to get money sidelined in political matters. But that will not happen without a big fight, and we need to join together with other anti-oppression/human rights movements on some shared goals and strategies.

    So I don’t agree 100% with the “failure” assessment – every movement has to have a base, and again, we can’t forget those who are suffering today in pursuing larger goals. But you are absolutely correct – financial incentives drive the current system, and it won’t change without changing the incentives, no matter how much data or stories we present.

  • It is fascinating that this whole article regards “social isolation” entirely as a failing or deficiency on the part of the individual, rather than recognizing that our social and economic system CREATES social isolation as an inevitable “side effect.” This fits with the entire psychiatric paradigm where the individual is always responsible for any ill effects that occur as a result of our social institutions. Those in power to effect changes in these institutions are, as always, let off the hook.

    — Steve

  • The concept of using “CBT” to enforce “medication compliance” violates the most basic tenets of therapy. The therapist is supposed to form an alliance with the CLIENT, not to “collaborate” with the psychiatrist or the client’s parents to enforce their will! It shows just how far “therapy” has drifted from actually trying to help the clients to becoming a part of the oppressive system that creates “mental health issues” in the first place.

  • Well, dogs got protection from abuse before children – maybe if dog owners start getting upset about their doggie friends being screwed up by SSRIs, the idea will eventually translate into protecting children, and maybe someday even adults!

  • ‘Common in the literature are statements like “While the short-term efficacy of stimulants for ADHD is well established, information about their long-term effects is sparse.” ‘

    This kind of claim is rather disingenuous – it leaves out that the fact that what studies have been done (and there are several at this point) suggest that stimulants have either no effect or a deteriorating effect on the outcomes that ADHD supposedly puts at risk. Extensive reviews have been done in 1978 (Barkley), 1993 (Swanson) and 2001 (Oregon State University), all showing that there is no major long-term outcome area in which “treated” kids do better than “untreated,” including academic test scores, high school completion, college enrollment, delinquency scores, social skills, or self-esteem measures.

    Moreover, the naturalistic studies which have been done, including the Quebec study, the Raine study, the MTA (mentioned above) and the USA-Finland comparison study all showed NO positive long-term effects for stimulant users as compared to short-term or non-users. The Quebec study showed higher rates of emotional issue for stimulant users, especially girls, and the Raine study showed much more likelihood of being held back for stimulant users.

    So to claim that evidence is “sparse” denies reality. Such evidence as has been collected is uniform in showing no long-term effect on social or academic outcomes for stimulant use. It is high time the academic psychiatry world acknowledges what should now be an accepted fact.

    — Steve

  • People with privilege don’t need to be denounced; we simply need to be aware of such privilege and how it arises. It is not the fault of the privileged that they are privileged, but it does create a much higher level of responsibility for critiquing and altering the system when it harms those with less privilege. Ultimately, the goal I would pursue would be to minimize privilege differences, which is actually part of the “American Dream” we’re all supposed to be allowed to pursue – essentially, everyone deserves a fair shot at success, but the game is rigged.

    I’m a white male from an upper-middle-class background and so have plenty of privilege automatically sent my way by this society. I don’t need to feel bad about that or apologize for it, but I do need to use that privilege consciously and wisely to help empower and improve the lot of my fellow humans. I am sure I fail at this all the time, but that’s one of the reasons that issues of psychiatric oppression, as well as racism, domestic abuse, and the mistreatment of children, have been big focus areas in my life – the folks I mentioned don’t have social power and I do, and it’s my job to try and alter the system so that those with less power are able to get more of it and have a better chance at survival.

    It is unfortunate that “privileged” is seen or is even intentionally used as an insult or put down. It should be neither. It should be a call to action to empower those lower on the privilege scale, as well as a call for compassion and understanding for those who are not so fortunate as yourself, rather than blaming those without privilege for their condition when a large part of their condition is a result of social dysfunction and is not within their control. The parallels to the “mentally ill” being drugged and institutionalized should be pretty obvious in this context.

    —- Steve

  • It is a possibility, but marketing is not really something I’m any good at. CatNight also outlined some of the limitations – when you work without insurance, you’re working with the rich or well to do, and those who are most in need of help can’t afford it. My adjustment has been to go into advocacy, which requires no specific license and enables me to help change the system which creates much of the distress which I would end up listening to in therapy. My bottom line is that real therapy has to involve engaging in a reassessment of the social system in which one lives, not only a re-examination of one’s own beliefs and values. And that can be done from other perspectives besides being a therapist. Of course, a lot of folks get free counseling from me on a short-term basis, just because that’s the way I am and sometimes I’m called into service. But I have never figured out a way to make a business out of it. It’s kind of not me, I guess.

    Thanks for your interest, and thanks to CatNight for your in-depth response as to why it’s not as easy as hanging out a shingle.

  • This seems off the topic of the blog. The question at hand is whether psychological phenomena are the consequence of brain activity, or independent phenomena that can be studied or acted upon independent of the brain. You seem to be saying you accept the former. However, I wonder if you are recognizing the fact that both positions are philosophical, not scientific, positions. As I think has been stated multiple times directly to you, there is no actual evidence that any of these “mental disorders” have a consistent biological cause or treatment. So depression may SOMETIMES be the result of a bodily system breakdown or even of “low serotonin” in specific cases, but there is no GENERAL condition that “causes depression,” because “depression” is not a thing that can be caused, it’s a natural body reaction that is caused by many different potential things. The idea that “depression” is a specific state that is always caused by the same thing and requires the same “treatment” is exactly the concept that has led psychiatry down the false path it currently follows.

  • * Exercise
    * Sleep
    * Support groups
    * Journaling
    * Talk therapy with a COMPETENT trauma-focused therapist
    * Meditation and other spiritual practices
    * Changes in life circumstances that create unresolved stress (boring job, bad relationships, kids out of control, etc.)
    * Active volunteer work
    * Political activism to resolve poverty, racism, and other issues that impact lots of people’s emotional state
    * Seems silly but highly underrated: stop watching/reading the news!

    Love to hear others’ ideas on this! Great question!

    — Steve

  • Not sure where I read that communism or even socialism were antidotes to psychiatry. I don’t think capitalism is, either. It appears to me that the fundamental issue with psychiatry has to do with believing that humans can be grouped into those who “live correctly” and those who “have problems,” and that “having problems” with the status quo means you are “mentally ill.” I think it’s pretty obvious that this kind of oppression is not dependent on political beliefs, but on an unwillingness to face the true level of oppression that exists within our society and a willingness to “blame the victim” when something goes wrong. In other words, those in power, regardless of party affiliation or of political orientation, are happy to use the “mental health system” to keep their populations under control. We saw Stalin use psychiatrists to herd dissidents into internment camps. We saw Hitler use psychiatrists (or was it the other way around?) to herd Jews and other “undesirables” into concentration camps for forced labor or extermination. Psychiatry is an equal opportunity oppressor – it can be and is used by both ends of the political spectrum to keep the common person in line.

    Or as Mad Magazine once cleverly put it: what’s the difference between Capitalism and Communism? In Capitalism, Man exploits Man, while in Communism, it’s the other way around.

    — Steve

  • I haven’t been “in the biz” for decades. My last job involved evaluating people at the hospital for involuntary detention in the psych ward. Three days in, I knew I had to get out of that job, though it took months to find something else. Don’t get me wrong, those who met me were very fortunate, as I worked my ass off to keep them as far away from the hospital as possible, and had some pretty amazing results right in the ER. But I couldn’t help everyone, and it tore my heart apart when I saw what happened to them in the psych ward. That was when I knew I had to go into a different role, and have been an advocate for either the elderly or for foster kids ever since. Which is perhaps a shame, because I was the kind of therapist that people really wanted to see – I actually cared about their viewpoint and tried to help them come up with their own plans, and even shared a lot of my own experiences as needed to help create safety and common reality, and I was always interested in any current or past trauma and how these affected them, as well as checking eating and sleeping habits, work stress, etc, depending on what was called for. But I felt like I was in collusion with an evil system, especially as DSM diagnoses and drugs took over from listening and caring.

    So that’s my story. I still consider myself a caring and competent therapist, but any work I do now is informal and on a volunteer basis. I can’t work with a crazy system!

  • The greatest privilege of those who have it is the privilege of pretending or believing that your privilege doesn’t exist.

    The concept of privilege is by no means supportive of a victim culture – to the contrary, it is a concept that deals very directly with power dynamics such as those shown by most “mental health professionals” when they are confronted with their patients’ reality. Because they have power, they can freely ignore or minimize their clients’ complaints – they have a whole system of diagnoses they can use to blame the clients for not liking their “treatment.” Rather than hearing that “your treatment made me barely able to move and I lacked the will to even complain, so I stopped,” they can claim that you have “anosognosia” and therefore “don’t understand you are ill” and therefore can be forced to receive “treatment” at their discretion. To understand psychiatry’s ability to ignore facts and feedback from their own clientele is to understand privilege. It really is that simple. They abuse you because they have the power to do so and you don’t have any recourse within the system when so abused. It’s not a victim culture, it’s very simply the reality of the power dynamics that exist within the system, and the exact same or very similar dynamics exist at all levels of our social system and are very highly responsible for much of the “mental illness” that same system later feels compelled to “diagnose.”