Thursday, July 18, 2019

Comments by Steve McCrea

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  • 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.

  • I agree with you, Richard, except in one point: I think that Oldhead and Auntie Psychiatry are correct in saying we should not use the term “pill shaming,” as it was invented by and is continuing to be used by those in charge of the system to discredit any criticism. But the phenomenon of someone from an anti- or critical-psychiatry viewpoint acting in ways that effectively disempower those who are being victimized by the system or who are trying to sort out what to do does in fact occur and is harmful, and often gets into what seems like victim blaming. I just think we need a new name for it.

    I think we do best when we recognize that people are where they are and that it’s not our job to “convert” people in low-power situations to our viewpoint, as it reinforces the idea that this person is foolish or incapable of making his/her own decisions with the right information. I do think we are responsible for educating anyone who is in any way receptive in the truth about these drugs, but it needs to be done in a way that respects their autonomy and power to make and live with the consequences of their own decisions.

  • I am not sure you’re really getting what I’m talking about, and I find your comments here more than a bit dismissive of my reality. I ABSOLUTELY was encouraged to fully experience all the pain and confusion and loss that was the reality of my childhood, with tears and hopelessness and anxiety and angry swearing and the whole 9 yards. So your comment that therapists are always about stopping feelings or distracting oneself from reality is not accurate, at least in my case.

    Moreover, though this therapist didn’t specifically suggest getting involved in political activity, she certainly inspired me to understand how widespread my experiences as a child were and how important it was to try to change the real conditions that exist which create understandable fear, anxiety, anger, apathy and other strong emotions in children and continuing into their adulthood. It is fair to say that one of the first steps on my path toward political enlightenment was my engagement with this particular therapist. And led to my eventual career advocating for abused and neglected children in the foster care system, including getting a law passed to help protect them from psychiatric drugging.

    So while I agree with you on the fact that most therapy is crap these days, I don’t agree that all therapy can be categorized that way. I agree completely that feeling emotions that are repressed or intellectualized is essential to becoming a fully functioning human being, but I’d have to say that any therapy that does have that effect will help you get folks to the barriers protesting the injustice of the world.

  • Wow, THAT was a “trauma informed” therapist??? I think they missed the boat by a pretty wide margin, there. It goes to show again that training and qualifications don’t mean much in this world of contradictions and power trips. Finding a person who actually cares enough to get to know you is the real winning game, and there is no guarantee or necessarily even improvement in odds that a person with a degree or training in “trauma-informed therapy” will be that kind of person for you. It absolutely disgusts me to hear this kind of story – thanks for sharing it and good for you for seeing what was really going on!

  • And I would add that she was ANYTHING but protective of my parents. In fact, my mom said to others (naturally, I never heard about this for YEARS later and from a third party) that my therapist was “driving a wedge between us.” We spent most of the time talking about my historical relationship with my mother and her denial of any kind of emotional reality except that “everything is just fine.” And it was VERY helpful to me, and I doubt that selecting an average person off the street to share my issues with would have been remotely as helpful. She had a very useful skill, and I was happy to pay her for the excellent service she provided.

  • You’ve said this stuff before, and I’ve finally realized why some of it bothers me. You claim that all therapy is about making someone “feel OK” without dealing with emotions. But I had a fine therapist back in the 80s (before the DSM III and the “chemical imbalance” theory had taken hold), and it was ALL about me learning to feel the feelings I was avoiding. That was the whole point of it. So while I agree that much if not most therapy today avoids dealing with these awkward realities (and that the DSM III and later editions were, in fact, carefully constructed to allow for this shift in emphasis), there have always been therapists who viewed their jobs as doing exactly what you are saying needs to be done. So I think you are overgeneralizing in these statements – there are a lot of different therapists doing a lot of different things, and with a lot of different competence levels, but the idea that ALL of them are aiming to help people repress their emotional experience and side with their parents against abused kids is just not true in my experience.

  • I’d be the last person in the world to argue against some increased sanity in the foster care system, as I worked as an advocate for foster kids for 20 years. The Kibbutz/commune idea has a lot of merit, and I’d love to see it worked out.

    However, I do think it is important to remind everyone that today’s parents were yesterday’s kids who were usually abused and/or neglected and/or misunderstood by THEIR parents (and other adults responsible for them). While there are certainly parents who overtly wish their kids ill, and I see no reason to have mercy on such parents, there are a hell of a lot more who are just passing on what was done to them. You are an Alice Miller fan, as am I, so you know what I mean. Of course, this does not excuse the parents from the damage they do – I personally find the “don’t blame the parent” meme offensive and destructive to kids (and adults) who are the victims of inadequate or abusive parenting. It’s not the kids’ fault that the parents had a rough upbringing, and the parents are responsible for not passing that on. But most do so inadvertently or unconsciously, and I therefore see no reason why sane approaches to raising kids should not be a legitimate subject of study, as long as we aren’t providing excuses for parents or other adults to continue harming their children with impunity. It is very possible to talk about improving one’s approach to child rearing without making excuses for the parent or supporting child abuse, neglect or exploitation.

  • The correlation between “schizophrenia” diagnosis and childhood abuse (especially sexual abuse) is orders of magnitude hither than any genetic correlation that the most optimistic study has every come up with. Yet we still spend millions on gene studies and almost nothing on researching childhood abuse effects and how to help people resolve them. At this point, it is clear to me that those leading the field are either utterly blind to the obvious or extremely corrupt, or both.

  • It beggars belief that anyone would be so arrogant as to claim neuroleptics increase lifespan. Just based on weight gain, increase in diabetes, and increase in heart disease, it is obvious that these drugs kill people more quickly than if you left them alone. Add in the increase in smoking cigarettes as a means of dealing with “side effects” and you know the death rate will climb.

  • This article reinforces my observation that what people need to “heal,” if that is the proper word for it (a bit medical for my taste), is for someone to connect with them on a real and personal level. There is no technique, training, school of therapy, medical intervention, or special approach that will create this kind of connection. It requires a person being human and being willing to experience with another person what is happening in their lives.

    When therapy works, it’s because such a connection is formed. Most of the time, it appears to me, such a connection is not formed. And having a degree or a license is no guarantee of better odds that a person will be helpful.

    You are blessed and fortunate to have found such people, and others are no doubt very fortunate to have found you so you can pass it on. I wish there were some way to teach people how this works, but I don’t know that such a thing is really possible. Everyone follows their own path, even therapists. I guess a person who wants such an experience needs to know what they’re looking for and spend a lot of time shopping around.

  • That is such a good point! The shame is what comes from the system labeling someone and exerting power over them. Then the system comes and accuses anyone who wants to tear the veil of secrecy over their own shame and tries to project it onto those who is trying to get the facts on the table. It’s classic projection.

    I also agree that “no-pill shaming” is a lot more common, and yet no one seems the least bit disturbed by “did you take your meds?” humor or the pressure that people come under to give in to the psychiatric worldview and accept their shaming label without complaint.

  • Very true. In the world of mediation/negotiation, it’s long been recognized that “shared decision making” is impossible in the presence of large power disparities. It’s hard to think of a greater disparity than a person who is highly distressed talking to a person with high social standing who has the back pocket option of imprisoning them if they don’t go along with the program.

  • Some parents won’t listen. There are a lot of parents who are working on doing the right thing very, very hard. And the answers aren’t always as simple as to take away the video stimulation. Parents are fed a lot of bad information, and it’s hard to sort out what makes sense, especially when so many of them have been treated less than respectfully by their own parents growing up.

    Parenting is a tough job, but at the same time, parents should not be let off the hook for the damage that they may do, intentionally or inadvertently.

  • OK, I was overgeneralizing a bit. There are moments when it IS the correct thing to say. But mostly not, and I’d have to gather a lot of information before deciding to go that route. A person has to be at the right point to be able to process that kind of a push.

    But you’re right – there is a difference between personal communication that is unintentionally shaming and the use of this concept of “pill shaming” in a shamelessly (sorry!) political manner as has been done. Acknowledging that there are moments when people can’t process the idea that their pills may be dangerous really doesn’t connect with the idea of “pill shaming” as put forth by the leaders of the psychiatric/drugging movement.

  • Not at all. I’m saying that if you really want to bring someone to a different place, you need to meet them where they are and understand why they believe what they do rather than starting off by telling them that they’re making bad decisions and should change their minds. I’m by no means tolerant for a second of the concept of “pill shaming,” as it was invented for the purposes of stifling discussion. I’m merely saying that an approach that recognizes the person being harmed as a victim of the system who needs some gentle guidance, vs. someone who needs to be rescued or fixed by again doing what someone else says they should do. What I want from these encounters is to maximize the odds that the person’s going to be able to hear what I’m saying. Anything that smacks in any way of me judging the other person’s decisions as being “bad” or “wrong” or me “correcting” their views generally leads me no where at all. I learned this by much trial and error, and believe me when I say, I have had plenty of time to discover what works, and telling people they’re wrong doesn’t do the job.

    Again, very different from how I’d approach someone accusing ME of “pill shaming.” No need for gentle measures there generally, though there are those who are brainwashed and don’t really believe it themselves who still engender my compassion, even though I have to call out their judgmental behavior. But if I want to be in a position to call out judgmental behavior, I kind of have to avoid it myself, don’t I? Or I end up being way too similar to those whose behavior I am trying to stop.

    Hope that makes a little more sense this time. It is a kind of subtle point, but as far as dealing with domestic abuse survivors, it’s tried and tested over hundreds and hundreds of people who have found my interventions generally very helpful, once I figured out what NOT to do. I haven’t done half bad with psych survivors, either, based on what feedback I’ve gotten. I’m not talking through my hat – I’m sharing what I’ve found to work best for those I’ve worked with.

  • I think this is a very good observation. It being such a normal reaction, I think we all need to be sensitive enough to expect it and not judge people who have been understandably pulled into a system they don’t understand for displaying this predictable sign of resistance to being “wrong” about their investments.

  • Hi, AP,

    I have to say, I have seen some pretty serious insensitivity from some folks about the impact of their statements on the person in question. It seems to me that, as we care about the welfare of the folks we’re trying to educate, we need to start gently and from where the person is rather than overwhelming them with information and pressure to agree with us.

    A useful analogy may be someone in a relationship we see as domestically abusive. We may be absolutely right about our observations and assumptions, but I can assure you that it’s not very helpful to say to someone, “You’re in an abusive relationship – you need to leave right away!” Now, the person who says this may have no intention of shaming the survivor, but the effect will nonetheless be one of shaming – the survivor will almost always feel inadequate and defensive, and will in fact often go into a reactive defense of the abuser as a means of avoiding the perceived judgment that s/he is too stupid to see the obvious reality that we “outsiders” are kind enough to point out.

    I have found it MUCH more helpful to enter into a discussion with the person, to find out his/her own view of what is going on, what the pros and cons are, what they’ve thought about as possible solutions, or just to hear their story and listen supportively. It has become very, very clear to me over time that people are in different places in their processes and that the last thing they need is someone else telling them what they should do or that they are wrong.

    Of course, we also have to consider the possibility that we are wrong, that the person is not feeling abused or mistreated, and that the situation is not the same to them as it looks to us.

    This is a very, very different approach than I would take toward the PERPETRATORS of such ill treatment. I see no reason not to pull out all the stops in challenging those in the position of power to deal with the actual facts of the situation and to let them know we see and know what they are about. But they are the ones committing the heinous acts, whether intentionally or not. Those who are being victimized deserve a high level of sensitivity to how our approach may come across, including making sure that our efforts don’t have the unintended effect of making them feel LESS empowered and more shamed. We can absolutely create a shaming situation without intending to.

    I would also suggest that this is very different than presenting objective DATA to a person in a difficult situation, while allowing that person to decide what it means and what to do with that information. My big objection is when people start objecting to providing objective information on the grounds that “it might discourage people from taking their meds” or “it might be perceived that you are shaming them.” I think sensitivity is still in order, but there is nothing “shaming” about sharing research data, statistics, personal experiences, cross-cultural studies, or whatever solid factual information is known with anyone who is interested in hearing about it, and even with some who aren’t.

    I guess the big difference for me is whether one believes that the other person has the right to make their own decisions based on their own assessment of the data, or if one believes that anyone who doesn’t agree with one’s own interpretation is de facto wrong or deluded or deceived or victimized. I think it is a minimum level of respect to grant to any person in the low power situation the right to make up their own minds about things without having to worry about how I’m going to react or judge them if they make a different decision than I would want them to make.

  • Sometimes the article titles are from the journal or publication that published them. But I agree with you – I’d like to see articles with titles more like, “Kids enjoy school more when they have lots of exercise” or “Active kids learn better when allowed to be active.” Or even, “Kids who are allowed to be active are less likely to end up with an “ADHD” diagnosis.” We can talk about issues without labeling kids.

  • I do think we’d agree on most points. My issue is the professionals pushing these “diagnoses” when we know they are BS. But they have permeated society, and some people do take offense or get confused when I communicate my disagreement with these concepts. I think it’s an inevitable part of the problem, and I blame the doctors and the profession for promoting ideas they know to be false for the bulk of the confusion.

    The most important part of helping anyone is, as you say, recognizing that everyone has different experiences. Unfortunately, the main thrust of the DSM (in my view) is to invalidate those differences and suggest that we can lump people together based on how they feel or behave rather than taking the time to actually find out what’s going on. I am guessing we’d be of a mind that the job of any helper should be to find out from the person they’re trying to help what works or doesn’t work for them, rather than forcing one’s own view of the situation down their throat (in some cases literally). As to how the average clinician views the situation, it might be interesting to do a survey and find out for sure.

  • I know what you’re talking about, as I trained as a chemist undergrad and have done some programming as well. The most important element of creating a functional model is feedback from the model in action. If the model doesn’t predict reality accurately, you have to start redefining your assumptions. And you’re right, the most basic assumptions affect the outcomes most significantly.

    So what I see here is that the psychiatric industry, for reasons of economics and prestige/power/status, made a decision to regard the brain as the source of all mental/emotional/behavioral distress or wide variance from the norm. We are seeing now a lot of the feedback from that model in application and it is not pretty. However, rather than doing what a good scientist would do, and understand that the original assumptions were erroneous or at a minimum simplistic and go back and start altering those assumptions, they have a financial and power-based investment in maintaining the original assumptions as true regardless of any feedback they might receive from the model’s outcomes.

    In other words, they have abandoned the scientific method and have decided to do what makes them the most money/power instead of what helps their clients.

  • I think you underestimate the importance of and the damage done by the DSM. To start with, there is no reason that we can’t say, “X has difficulty eating enough food” or “Y has a difficult relationship with food” or “Z has a very negative body image that she wants to change.” Not labeling something doesn’t mean denying the circumstances that prompted the labeling process. In fact, we can get a MUCH more accurate description of what is going on by simply asking the client to describe the circumstances they feel they are facing and having them identify their own description of the problem. So there is no need to tell someone “you have an eating disorder” to provide helpful intervention. Now if the person him/herself identifies that “I have an eating disorder,” I would certainly not invalidate that. But that’s very, very different than a professional telling you, “You have an eating disorder” and defining your reality for you. This is especially true when the doctors start telling you that you suffer from a “chemical imbalance” or that your “disorder” is hereditary or due to some kind of brain malfunction that no one has even come close to identifying as true. And if you don’t believe this happens, you need to read up on this site or talk to a lot more people who have engaged with the “MH” system.

    More importantly, the DSM is taken VERY seriously by both professionals and the society at large. Not all, but lots and lots. Saying that a person “has depression” implies that there is something wrong with THAT PERSON for feeling that way, that they have a “medical problem” and that they need “treatment.” A survey in the late 2000s showed that over 80% of Americans believed that “depression” was caused by “low serotonin.” This belief did not just happen – it was the result of a large and coordinated effort to convince Americans that “mental health problems” were, in fact, biological. There is plenty of documented evidence that the thrust of the DSM III, which prompted a huge expansion of biological explanations for “mental illnesses” defined in the book, was to expand psychiatry’s market share. It was, in fact, a quite cynical effort to position psychiatry as a “real branch of medicine” and to promote its practices as “scientific” and “proven effective.” Naturally, the pharmaceutical industry was happy to team up with psychiatry in this effort, and continues to provide most of the funding for the continued propaganda campaign to that end.

    It’s easy to think that those who made the DSM are just trying to understand better and refine their model, but the origins of the DSM series belie that suggestion. It is more than possible to provide good support to people who face mental and emotional suffering without the slightest reference to a “diagnosis.” Again, if an individual wants to view him/herself through that lens, they’re welcome to do so, but the profession has no right to promote the idea that these “diagnoses” represent real, biologically-distinct entities when they know absolutely that they do not and never will.

  • What if the “diagnoses” are known to be manufactured and to not represent any kind of medical problem? Is it not a fraud to pretend one is practicing “medicine” beyond “symptom management” when “treating diagnoses” that are known not to be scientifically definable? What’s to stop someone from inventing “nose-picking disorder” or “excessive skipping disorder” or “unreasonable political protest disorder?” If we can just invent “disorders” out of anything we don’t like or find uncomfortable or confusing, where does it end? Hell, they’re prescribing STIMULANTS for “Binge Eating Disorder” now! As if the person is suffering from excessive appetite and suppressing the desire to eat is “treating” the problem! I’m sorry, but these utterly unscientific “disorders” are not advancing the understanding of people’s mental/emotional distress or well being, but is instead creating further confusion.

  • You are absolutely right, the proof is in the pudding, and so far the psychiatric pudding is falling pretty flat. Making more people disabled, reducing people’s lifespan, reducing hope and increasing stigmatization and discrimination – nothing that could be called a success in any sense.

    Real science makes things simpler and more effective over time. The psychiatric model makes things more complex and more confusing and is ultimately very ineffective.

    I agree that people are programmed to categorize, but categories are only as useful as they create better understanding. And any real scientist knows that categories are always approximations and that incoming data has to be considered to improve the model of reality over time. A model is not reality, but psychiatry seems to think the model is more important than the results. Unless you count financial results for their corporate buddies.

  • I’m not going to try and explain myself again. You seem to have difficulty following what I’m saying for some reason. I never assumed that bad brain chemistry causes anything – to the contrary, I think the whole thing is a bunch of pseudoscientific chicanery invented to sell drugs. Anyone who has ever read anything I wrote knows this about me. All I’m saying is that sometimes having hard scientific data proving such assumptions FALSE is helpful in counteracting pseudoscientific propaganda put out by the proponents of the DSM “model” toward their potential victims. You’re free to disagree with me, but not to put words in my mouth that I not only didn’t say, but which are in direct contradiction to what I’ve clearly expressed myself to believe over and over again on this forum.

  • I think you misunderstand me. The only research I’m talking about it that which debunks any idea that there is some medical issue at play. For instance, I have found it extremely valuable to read decades of reviews of the literature on “ADHD,” not because I believe in that bogus concept, but because those decades of research prove what we all intuitively know to be true: giving kids stimulants doesn’t improve their grades, their academic test scores, their social skills, their high school dropout rates, their rates of delinquency, or even their “self esteem,” however they measure that subjective concept. This is very useful to me when someone tries to explain to a parent how “untreated ADHD” leads to high school dropout and delinquency, and I can say, “What most people don’t seem to know is that 50 years of research have shown that “treating ADHD” with stimulants does not change those outcomes one iota, and in some studies it makes them worse.”

    I’m certainly not in favor of wasting good money on studying these idiotic constructs. But I do value people (like Giovanni Fava or Jonathan Leo or Peter Breggin) who do or assemble research showing that the institution of psychiatry has its collective head in a very dark place. Yes, even if they use “those terms.” Because sometimes people just need to hear that psychiatry is lying to them as a place to start their journey to understanding how deeply harmful the industry really is.

  • I agree absolutely. I’ve said to people that even if they DID prove that people “with ADHD” have a difference in their brains from the average person, it would not mean that there was anything wrong with them. After all, genetic diversity is the key to species survival! Or as one foster youth once wisely said to me, “Maybe different people should be allowed to have different brain chemicals.”

  • That is my general practice, and I think it says what needs to be said. This particular use of quotation marks is meant to indicate that this term is used by others but is considered by the “quoter” to have a different value, and usually indicates a degree of disrespect or scorn for the term. Kind of like saying, “So-called schizophrenia.” I have also used “persons who have been labeled as” when talking about research. This allows us to communicate the intent of the researchers without buying into the terminology. That’s just my personal take on it, but I agree with Oldhead here that the quotation marks are the easiest way to show disagreement while still using the recognized term for those who are new to the idea of critiquing the DSM “diagnoses.” (See, it works!)

  • I don’t think that it’s possible to be truly “trauma informed” as long as you are relying on the DSM-driven standard “mental health” system. The only “trauma informed” thing to do is to erase everything people claim to know about “mental illness” and start over from scratch, and rebuild from the viewpoint that the people who have been traumatized are the ones who actually know what they need.

  • The problem is that there is no profit in it for any big corporations, so there is no motivation to do anything different than what is being done. If Maori methods actually help “cure” people of their ostensible “disorders,” that would be a strong reason for many in the industry to try and bury the idea as deeply as possible so they don’t start losing “customers,” whether voluntary or not.

  • I am impressed at how complex and confusing they have made a very simple correlation. Burnout and depression “overlap” because they are both descriptions of how people feel and act when they are overwhelmed, stuck,hopeless, and/or disconnected or unsupported by their communities. Making it seem like they are somehow different things that “overlap” is just a sleazy way to continue to legitimize their medicalization of “depression.” I found it particularly amusing that they assert that “burnout” is a syndrome that can’t be clearly defined, as if “depression” were somehow different.

    Anyway, you can tell when someone’s explanation doesn’t hold water if it continues to make the situation seem more and more complicated instead of simpler.

  • Thanks for your kind words. It baffles me beyond belief that a person who knows they feel lonely and unloved would be secluded in a room and put in a straight jacket and drugged!!!! How could ANYONE think that would help you feel LESS lonely and unloved? Seems like the best way I could think of to make you feel MORE lonely and unloved?

    I can only surmise that a lot of these people don’t really understand or care how other people feel. The lack of empathy is astounding to me. There is nothing wrong with a person who is feeling lonely and unloved! Maybe what they need is connection and love? Radical thought!

  • The system itself is organized along racist/classist/sexist lines, and unless the field suddenly and miraculously divorces itself from the DSM and all the attendant “diagnoses” and similar medicalized language toward people in distress, it will continue to function as an agent of oppression, despite the scattered patches of sanity that one finds here and there fighting for their own survival. The fact that the psychiatrist could make that incredibly racist statement without an outcry from the entire staff shows how completely accepted it is that psychiatrists get to do whatever they want and the rest of the staff either go along with the bully or get bullied themselves. How anyone could get “saner” in such an environment is a miracle that occurs in spite of rather than because of the system itself.

  • Way to get complex about it, researchers. The explanation is both simple and obvious: ADHD is diagnosed based on the degree to which the child creates problems for the teacher. Younger kids are more likely to create problems for the teacher, and are therefore more likely to get a referral or pressure to get diagnosed and “medicated.” The other explanations (2-4) are clearly just attempts to rationalize continuing to drug kids because they are annoying.

  • The first problem is grouping all people who fit the “PTSD” criteria into one group and trying to find one intervention that helps everyone. Some people may like “exposure therapy,” some hate it. Some people find meditation to be a very difficult experience, I personally found it very helpful. People are all different, and different approaches help different people. Why anyone would try to force a “therapy” on someone who said it didn’t feel right is beyond my comprehension.

  • I recall doing an excellent exercise on distinguishing facts from opinions/projections. A person would be asked to look at a picture and say what they know about the person in the picture. People would say things like, “He’s sad.” The facilitator would say, “Do you KNOW he’s sad? What do you actually see that you know to be true?” “Well, he looks sad.” “Looks sad to you – that’s your opinion, too. What do you SEE?” “Well, his face looks sad.” “What about his face looks sad?” “He’s frowning.” “How do you know he’s frowning?” “Well, his lips are turning down at the edges.” “THAT is a fact. The rest of the things we think we “know” are assumptions or judgments.” It was a sobering exercise. Most of what we “observe” is not really an observation at all, it’s a judgment. I would also submit that any “observation” made would need to be checked back with the person being “observed” for accuracy, but far better for the person to make his/her own observations without any suggestions from the “helper.”

  • Solid advice. I’d add that there are some “patients” who have bought into the system as it is and will be difficult to engage on these points. I’d also add that the system personnel will sometimes ask if you are “antipsychiatry” or “a Scientologist” or “anti-science.” You want to be prepared not to engage with this kind of attack, and I’d suggest responding by asking, “Why are you changing the subject? I thought we were talking about whether or not psychiatry works?” But of course, anyone who attacks you in that way is probably not really worth trying to convince, as they are invested in the status quo and maybe even making money off of it.

  • I actually agree with you, and efforts to be “objective” are often a big barrier to helpers connecting emotionally with the people they are trying to help. Perhaps a better description is for the helper to understand that s/he is NOT objective, and to make strong efforts to double and triple check his/her observations and ideas with the person whom they are supposed to be helping.

  • “Why is my car not running?”

    “There is no way of knowing – there are too many factors involved.”

    “So if you don’t know why it’s not working, why should I pay you to fix it?”

    “Trust me, I have 25 years of experience working on problems that I don’t actually understand.”

    Time to get a new mechanic?

  • It is possible, but it is my firm belief that only a tiny percentage of people who are suffering will have any kind of neurological difficulties at all. Because being scared, or angry, or depressed, or bored, or even having fantasies are all completely normal activities that every human being experiences at one time or another. It makes no sense at all that 20% of the population is “mentally ill” – they are in the vast majority just people having normal reactions to life. The idea that there will be some physiological cure for something like “depression” is a fantasy. It’s just as likely as curing something like “pain.” It isn’t going to happen, because pain is a part of life, and so is depression and anxiety and all of it.

  • Actually, beyond direct force there is a lot of manipulation using parental fears. For instance, they tell parents that “untreated ‘ADHD’ leads to delinquency and school dropouts and etc etc.” Of course, they don’t bother to tell them that the “treatment” doesn’t do anything to improve any of those outcomes, nor that most “ADHD” diagnosed kids turn out just fine as adults. So parents are afraid if they don’t “medicate” their child, the child will suffer these awful outcomes that the “treatment” doesn’t even touch. It’s pretty evil!

  • Though it is true that many capitalists claim to be “libertarians” in order to justify their opposition to anything that might help the working stiff have a chance at a better quality of life. The Koch brothers are a great example – they claim to be libertarians who are in favor of minimizing regulations and supporting the “free market,” but when rooftop solar started to out-compete other energy providers in sunny places like Oklahoma, they were first in line to propose a tax on rooftop solar. So much for the free market, guys…

  • He clearly states that the use of the term “illness” to refer to a state of mental or emotional suffering is not a proper use of the term. He (and I) believed that some illnesses could have impacts on thoughts and emotions, such as low thyroid or anemia or a head injury. But those are identified as real illnesses and treated by real branches of medicine. He always was clear that if there is no known physical cause, it’s not an illness. I wanted to make sure you knew I wasn’t denying that things like loss of sleep or the side effects of certain drugs or poor nutrition can cause mental/emotional problems. But to call something like “depression” an “illness” doesn’t make sense to me (or to Szaz), because it assumes that everyone who is feeling depressed has something wrong with them. Indeed, it assumes that all people who are depressed have the same problem. This is about as silly as saying that all people who feel pain have “pain disorder” without bothering to see what is actually causing the pain. Actually, it’s even more silly, because feeling depressed is a normal part of living, it’s not even an indicator of something physically wrong, as pain most often is.

    So to be clear: “Major Depression” is not caused by a physical problem. It is an invented category that does not correlate to any physical abnormality. It is just a label for a phenomenon that could have many different causes. Low thyroid IS a physical problem that can cause a particular person to feel depressed. In this case, “depression” is just an indicator of the problem, no different than weight loss/gain or tingling in the hands and feet. So “depression” is never the “illness.” It is just an emotional experience people have, which in rare cases can be caused by a physiological problem of some sort, but which in most cases is simply a normal emotional response to a difficult environment where one has difficulty figuring out what to do.

    I hope that makes things clearer. But Oldhead is right – Szaz did not believe that “depression” was or could be a “disease” or “mental illness.” He wasn’t opposed to treating actual illnesses that might cause a person to feel depressed, but he was very much against any kind of idea that “depression” as a whole was or could ever be the result of a biological problem.

  • That is exactly what I mean. He is pretty clear about saying that if something is discovered to have a real physiological cause, it is moved into one of the actual medical categories, like neurology or nutrition or internal medicine. Psychiatric “illness” is only reserved for those manifestations that DON’T have an actual known physiological cause, which he properly identifies as a metaphorical use of the term “illness,” since there is no reason to believe there is anything physiologically wrong with the person in question. I’d say his take is, “If you know it’s an actual physical ailment, show me the test and treat it as such. If you can’t show it to be physiological, stop calling it an ‘illness,’ because it isn’t.” I’m no Szaz expert, but that’s what I most recall of his writings.

  • Not at all, and neither does Szaz. The important point is that you can’t DIAGNOSE A DISEASE STATE by looking at HOW SOMEONE ACTS OR FEELS. There is no question that certain physiological conditions can cause mental/emotional symptoms or adverse effects. The problem is claiming that a person has such a condition BECAUSE they have certain mental/emotional effects. For instance, it’s legitimate to say that a person might be depressed because he’s had insufficient sleep, but it’s not legitimate to say that you know he has insufficient sleep because he’s depressed. He MIGHT be depressed due to lack of sleep or due to having a dead end job or because he was abused as a child or because he is lonely and has no connections or because his wife just left him or he lost his job or etc., etc, etc.

    An analogy might be diagnosing a person with “knee pain disorder.” It is meaningless to say that a person has “knee pain disorder” because their knee hurts. You’d have to know WHY the knee was hurting. Maybe it’s arthritis, maybe it’s a muscle cramp, maybe it’s a bruise, maybe it’s nerve damage, who knows? You’d have to analyze it further to find out what was the cause before you made a diagnosis.

    Same with “depression.” Saying “he has depression” tells you nothing at all, except that he’s feeling depressed at that particular time. It may be physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, political, or any mix of the above. So calling “depression” a “disorder” is not only meaningless, it is destructive, because it gives people the idea that the psychiatrists have some understanding that they actually don’t have.

  • You should read his books. Essentially, he says that the idea of “mental illnesses” is only metaphorical – they are not really “illnesses” but “difficulties in living” that have been labeled as such for the purposes of those in positions of power in society. That’s all I’ll say for now – you should read some of his writings. I think they would be very helpful for you to understand why some people say “mental illnesses don’t exist” – very different meaning than “people don’t suffer mentally/emotionally.”

  • They say a lot, but it’s mostly speculation and nonsense. The one thing we do know is that brain chemistry is constantly changing as we encounter different stresses and needs. So to suggest someone’s brain is “chemically imbalanced” means practically nothing. We also now know that the actual physical structure of the brain is changed by experience. So it seems to me we waste a lot of time studying genetics, which can’t be changed, instead of studying which EXPERIENCES help people feel more strong and capable.

  • All of those elements are involved in creating or alleviating distress, for sure. For instance, loss of sleep definitely increases my feelings of hopelessness or anxiety and reduces my ability to communicate effectively. So sleeping could be said to be a “treatment” for my negative feelings, but really, all they are “symptoms” of is a lack of sleep.

    So by all means, we should be addressing deficiencies in our social environment, eating better food, working on our own attitudes, working to improve the economic situation, etc. The problem is that my reacting badly to, say, a very oppressive school environment as a child (I was deeply depressed, did act out one time, had a psychological evaluation, etc.) meant that I had a “disorder” or “disease” or “condition” – it meant that the school’s rules, expectations, and processes and the complete lack of recourse that I or any of the other students had to address any kind of injustice or arbitrariness provided a horrible environment for me to grow in. The real answer wasn’t to ‘treat’ me, but to get me the heck out of there or to change the environment so I didn’t feel so hopeless about having to go there and be bored and lonely and angry and frustrated 5 days a week, 6 hours a day.

    Do I have a tendency more than other people to be anxious or depressed? Yes, I do. Could some of this tendency be built into my personality? Sure, it could. But so is empathy, compassion, willingness to fight for justice, humor, and lots of other things that go along with being “sensitive.” I don’t think I needed to be “assessed” or “evaluated” or “treated,” I needed to be loved and listened to and provided more opportunities to take more control of my own life.

    So I’m all for looking at all the factors that contribute to someone’s distress. I’m just opposed to the idea that being distressed in a particular way that is inconvenient for those in charge means that I have a “disorder.” I think it means I’m human, and we humans are all different and unique in our needs and goals and values and deserve to be treated that way. We don’t deserve to be slotted into categories of “wrongness” for the convenience of those who want to pretend that life is a garden of delights and that anyone who is not loving every minute of it needs to be “fixed.”

  • Given what the “mental health” world has done with ‘mindfulness’ by abstracting it from the Buddhist philosophy that underpins it and in some cases making it a requirement in someone’s “treatment plan,” I am very skeptical that Western Psychiatry will do anything but distort and ruin any helpful practice the Maori may have developed. Maybe we should skip reforming psychiatry and instead pay the Maori what we used to pay the psychiatrists rather than expropriating their spiritual practices and turning them into yet another bastardized western product for sale?

  • I don’t think anyone should invalidate your own perception of what works for you. Certainly, lots of people report finding psych drugs helpful. But that does not make psych diagnoses legitimate. They are not discovered, but literally voted on by committee. Read “So They Say You’re Crazy” by Paula Caplan, who served on the DSM IV task force.

    And yes, they do invent “disorders”. Look at the cases if Juvenile Bipolar or Social Anxiety Disorder or Binge Eating Disorder. Not that such things are not issues for some people, but there is solid documentation that pharmaceutical companies conspired with leading psychiatrists to create these “disorders” in the DSM to sell pharmaceuticals and psychiatric “services.” I know it’s hard to believe, but it is true.

  • But it is important to acknowledge that people DO suffer in various ways, and often need help dealing with their emotions and their experiences. This doesn’t make them ill, but I think it is important to distinguish that these “diagnoses” are crap, in that they are social inventions, but that suffering is real and that we need to get together as a community and look for solutions that actually help but don’t blame the sufferer for suffering too much or in the “wrong” manner.

  • I do see what you’re saying. I think it involves a confusion about language. When people say, “There is no such thing as ‘Bipolar Disorder,'” I think they mostly mean that “Bipolar Disorder” is an invention that doesn’t have a scientific basis as a medical diagnosis. I don’t think people mostly believe that those behaviors defined as “bipolar disorder” don’t occur, or that they don’t cause distress, or that help is not sometimes required. I think the objection is that someone with medical authority is DEFINING these behaviors as a “medical disorder” without cause. But it is often intepreted by readers as meaning that people don’t have these feelings or behaviors, which leads to lots of confusion and, as you say, distraction from the key points. At the same time, I really do understand why people who have survived the system often are very strongly against using these terms, which is why I put them in quotation marks whenever I use them. These generalizations have been used to harm people, often intentionally, and if that had happened to me, and I later found out the “disorder” I was assigned was voted into existence by a committee, I’d never want to see that word in print again!

  • I mean the goal of being “normal” as defined by the social norms promoted by our cultural system of values. It is the slavish adherence to this artificial “normalcy” and its conflict with people’s actual reality that is behind many cases of “mental illness.” This is very different from accomplishing what the client personally wants to create as their own “normal” mode of operation. What I find abhorrent is when therapists/counselors/psychiatrists define “normal” for the client and feel their job is to make them “fit in” better to society, rather than finding their own definition of “normal” that allows them to be comfortable in their own skins.

    As for pissing of psychiatrists, it depends if the psychiatrist is in a position to influence your reputation or your employment potential. There are definitely situations where one’s survival as a therapist in a particular institution depends on not being too vocal about critiques of the DSM or “medication” use. I respect anyone who can operate “behind the lines” without being beaten down or giving up. You appear to have established a certain level of respect and independence that has allowed you to be a maverick with limited consequences, but that takes time and skill to develop, and for some, it appears to be beyond their capacity. Working in a psychiatric institution or one controlled by psychiatric thinking can be extremely oppressive toward the workers as well. It takes a lot of courage not to pass on that oppression to the clients.

  • I never really thought about it, but you’re right, the concept of “baseline” is totally bogus. It assumes a person is a fixed entity that is only temporarily impacted by life circumstances. This is rot, of course. People are always developing, and the whole idea of “therapy” ought to be to help someone move onward to their next step in life, rather than returning to some “baseline” equilibrium defined by another person.

  • I think there is a big difference between a person preferring a particular framing of their situation and a doctor claiming that everyone having a particular behavioral manifestation is suffering from “X disorder.” We are all entitled to view our circumstances in a way that makes sense, but doctors are claiming to have some superior knowledge of the situation. Making unsubstantiated claims of understanding situations that are scientifically inconsistent or mysterious or invalid is something no professional should be allowed to do. I see it as extremely damaging to our society as a whole to allow these false claims to be viewed as some kind of scientific truth. At the same time, I have no problem with anyone choosing to view their own problem as a “mental disorder.” I just don’t support doctors making this kind of assertion unless there is actually evidence it is true. Medical diagnoses should not be something people choose because they prefer them. They should be objectively measurable conditions that can be reliably identified and treated. OCD certainly does not meet those criteria, nor does essentially any other “mental disorder” in the DSM.

  • Hi, PD,

    I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion regarding therapists not being allowed to practice if they don’t follow the priorities you mention above. I have tons of experience with therapists, both as a part of the MH system and as an advocate for foster youth for 20 years. I can assure you that therapists are all over the place in terms of practice, and any generalization you’d like to make is not going to be accurate. Some are unwilling to give any direction at all to the client, no matter how bogged down they get, others think they know everything and constantly tell the client what to do. Some believe that everyone’s issues come from poor parenting, others believe that nothing in the past has any impact on the present. Some have people go over past traumatic events in detail, others avoid them like the plague. Some believe religiously in the DSM, others consider it ridiculously simplistic and only use it for billing purposes. Some seek to be empowering, others seek to define and solve the client’s problems for them. Some feel that sharing personal details of their lives is essential to a successful relationship, others consider any sharing a violation of “professional boundaries.” The only generalization that can be made about therapists is that there is no consistency regarding expectations or results.

    I do get that the CONCEPT behind therapy suggests that fixing the person to make them more “normal” is the goal, and I of course find such a goal abhorrent. But therapy for the most part can be whatever the therapist and client make it, and some people report very positive experiences with therapists that have helped them change their lives for the better. (Though I have to admit that such reports seem to have become rarer over the decades.)

    Bottom line, I think comments about the therapy industry as a whole can be reliably made, but generalizations about what would happen to a particular therapist if they didn’t toe some imaginary party line do not line up with what I’ve seen. Therapists can generally do whatever the heck they want, as long as they can bill the insurance company for their work, and as long as they don’t piss off any psychiatrists they have to answer to by threatening their label-and-drug gravy train.

  • Once again, I think we see how the labeling process actually does as much or more harm than the drugs themselves. What if we just said, “Here are some strategies for those who want to figure out a way to reduce unwanted compulsions” or something like that. Why not just describe the problem in terms that are meaningful for the client, and work toward the client’s goals? Why do we have to ascribe some critical label to the behavior, rather than just identifying that it’s something the client wants to change?

    It is unfortunate that some good tips and ideas can be obscured by these medicalizing terms. I hope we as a community can work to tell the difference between our cultural training to use medicalized terms and the actual potential of the interventions being discussed. Some people with good ideas haven’t yet figured out the problematic nature of these terms just yet.

  • Not sure I agree with you, Ron. I think of survivors of domestic abuse – they are or should be proud that they have survived such horrific abuse and continue to lead semi-functional lives in the wake of it, even if they fully know and understand that they have to continue to work on overcoming the damage done to them. It’s possible to be proud that you came up with ways to get through something difficult while still recognizing that one’s life can be improved yet further by continuing efforts.

  • They will always tell parents that “untreated ADHD” is associated with higher rates of delinquency, school dropout, drug use, lower test scores, lower college enrollment rates, lower self-esteem and so forth. What they DON’T ever tell them is that “treatment” in the form of stimulant drugs has never been shown to improve ANY of these outcomes! It’s a real flim-flam job, though I sometimes think the teachers themselves have mostly been flim-flammed and don’t even really realize what they are saying. It’s like a robot or computerized message, they just all say it because they’re programmed to do so.

  • Posting as moderator: I would also add to Emmeline’s comments that choosing to publish a summary and link to a research article in no way implies that MIA approves of the research or supports the conclusions. It is simply a summary of research that some readers might find helpful. If you don’t, it’s fine to ignore it. I personally find MIA to be the best place to gather ammunition if I’m trying to influence a professional person to take another look at their belief system. Some people make up their minds based on research, and this kind of information is sometimes essential to counteract their narrative.

  • And I think the challenge for me is that the degree confers some kind of confidence in people that this person knows what they are doing. If therapists are to be licensed, there ought to be a much more practical way to do so that is based primarily on the person’s actual impact on the client(s) s/he serves, rather than how many years of education s/he may have consumed.

  • It is my understanding that lot of the “paraprofessionals” used by Mosher at Soteria House were people who had used hallucinogens and had experience as “trip guides.” There are many ways to learn the necessary skills to be a good helping person. And it should be very, very clear that obtaining a Masters Degree or Ph.D. is no guarantee that a person will learn these skills. It is unfortunate that the conferring of an advanced degree is assumed to indicate a minimal level of interpersonal competence when there is really no way to assure such competence by any educational approach now known.

  • I think “trauma” can only realistically be defined by the person reporting the experience. Trying to set some kind of standard only gets us confused. Some people are sexually molested by a family member, yet are believed when they tell their parent or loved one and are protected, and some of those people reportedly have relatively little long-term impact from the experience, while others find it horribly traumatizing. Some folks are yelled at by a parent or teacher or left on their own very young and feel frightened enough that it ends up being a lifelong issue for them. I think you get to decide how traumatic an incident that you experience is for you. Anything else is just authoritarian invalidation of your experience.

  • There are all kinds of fundamentalism, which is why I say that the real enemy is not the Right or the Left, but AUTHORITARIANISM in any form. A certain amount of agreed authority is needed to accomplish many tasks, but the assumption that there are authorities who are “right” and that those who want to be successful have to merely follow the instructions of the wiser “guide” or “leader” without having to think too hard is what screws us over. This happens with a lot people who are hard-line conservatives and a lot of people who are hard-line liberals/progressives/whatever and it happens to lots of folks who don’t identify with either end of the spectrum. It’s not a left-right issue, it’s an issue of whether people want to actually solve real problems or feel safe being in the middle of an ideological herd and not have to tax their intellect or their emotions too much.

  • A little confused by this, because I didn’t suggest that Marxism was a solution. I’m asking what it is? I agree that good must defeat evil, but what is the mechanism by which that happens on a societal scale? I don’t think there are any simple answers, but I think humans tend to be easily mesmerized by attempts to present simple answers, whether it be total government control over everything or elimination of all regulations and letting the “free market” save us all, or following some spiritual leader who seems to “have the answers.” Saying “socialism is bad” is no more sensible than saying “socialism is good.” There are clearly elements of socialism that are embedded in any Western democracy, and there are free markets operating in the most totalitarian economies. It’s not a black and white thing to me – it seems we need a balance between freedom to exercise our own ideas and objectives and the need to act together as a society to make sure that people’s rights are not violated.

    Or to put it in terms of an old joke: What’s the difference between Capitalism and Communism? In Capitalism, man exploits man, while in Communism, it’s the other way around.

    We can do better, but I think we have to have a practical way for “good to fight evil.” I don’t think it’s simple, and it most definitely doesn’t involve trusting all or most corporations to be on the side of “good.” Especially Big Pharma!

  • I do feel compelled to add to your narrative that the current “drug first and ask questions later” approach to “mental health” is driven to a very large extent by pharmaceutical companies in the interests of maximizing profits at the expense of the “patients.” This is not Marxism in action, but the profit motive. Of course, we can go off into explaining how “big government” makes this all possible, but government corruption is also a function of too few people having too much money and using it to influence politicians to do their bidding. So as much as an actual “free market” arguably has shown some large-scale benefits, at least for a proportion of people participating, the redistribution of money to those who already have money and power is something that has to be addressed in my view. How do you see this happening? How do we reduce the vast influence of big pharmaceutical money that is driving this “epidemic” of invented “disorders?”

  • I would add that there is plenty of evidence that maternal SSRI usage is associated with increased autism rates, and that the increase in autism diagnoses corresponded to big increases in SSRI use by adults.

    Of course, there is also the loosening of “criteria” for autism and the constant seeping in of the idea that “diagnosing” kids is more effective than understanding them.

  • Posting as moderators:

    Sorry, it seems to have been moved off. Essentially, all comments are going to be read first before they are posted. This will eliminate spam as well as rude or disrespectful comments in advance, rather than have them posted all day before I can get to reading them. It will slow down the rate of posts, but we have extra people looking over and approving comments at different times of the day, so it shouldn’t be too much different than it is now. But if it really affects your experience, Bob Whitaker is available to answer questions and take feedback.

  • In other words, people who are abused as kid are more likely to abuse their kids than those who aren’t. The old cycle of abuse idea. Hardly groundbreaking research here. The disturbing part is that everyone in the field doesn’t already know that childhood abuse is behind much of what is called “mental illness.” Treat kids better and “mental illness” will be reduced. But oh, that’s “blaming the parents,” isn’t it? Safer to blame the kids’ brains.

  • I actually think there is another factor – I think people often become worried that THEY are the “crazy ones” and are happy to find someone else to be labeled “crazy” so they can feel more “normal.” I think most people suffer confusion, anxiety, depression about our current society and the fragmented and often conflicting and competitive roles they have to play to survive, from grades in school right up through competition for jobs and wages. They seek some sort of order that they can hang onto, including looking for someone “below” them in the social order so they can feel like, “At least I’m not as messed up as THOSE people!” Psychiatry is happy to take on that role so that this kind of “othering” has the backing of the “authorities.”

  • I think it is an excellent and important question. It is the kind of question that gets people tied up in knots when someone suggests eliminating psychiatry altogether. While they don’t understand that psychiatric practice appears to actually increase the suicide rate, people will want to know where they can go for help if there is no doctor/psychiatrist/hospital to go to. I’m not sure I have a great answer yet.

  • I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that grouping people together based on their emotional state is not going to lead to any positive conclusion. Most emotional states are the result of our interaction with the environment. Anxiety is mostly caused by experiencing scary things, depression by hopeless experiences. Now anxiety can also be created by deprivation of oxygen or by taking a lot of stimulants, which are physiological causes, but the idea that there is ONE physiological cause of anxiety is just plain wrong. So what I’m objecting to is not the idea that biology can cause anxiety in some cases, but the idea that anxiety is all caused by the same thing every time, or that anxiety is even always a “disorder.” Anxiety is our body’s way of telling us that something scary is happening and we need to take action to remedy it. What it is that is scary can be very different, depending on the person and the situation. It is not a “mental illness” to be anxious. It may be an indicator of some other illness, but anxiety itself is not an illness. It’s a natural state of the body under stress.

  • I concur. Guilt, like all of our emotions, has a survival role to play in our lives. Psychiatry’s first mistake is identifying emotions as being “good” or “bad,” and trying to eliminate the bad ones. Emotions aren’t good or bad, they send us messages about how we are surviving and what we can do to survive better. Learning to listen to our emotions is a part of being a rational human being.

  • I have not found that to be true in all cases. I’ve certainly seen many who do, and you may not have encountered any who don’t, but psychotherapists are human beings, too, and since they don’t really have any specific guidelines, my experience is that everyone pretty much does what they think works. Whether they support political activism for their clients is a function of their personal beliefs and goals. If they are a “top-down” therapist who believes that they know best, they can be extremely invalidative. But there are therapists (admittedly in the minority in my experience) who truly do believe in empowerment of the client to be more capable of living his/her life the way s/he wants to, including taking action against oppressive agents if need be. And there are a whole lot who are in the middle, trying to be helpful at they can but not really having a good idea of what they are trying to accomplish.

    As I said before, generalizations about “therapists” lead to mistaken ideas. Not all therapists are alike or believe in the same things.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    A reminder that I am not sitting at my desk with a little red light that goes off when someone posts a comment that requires my attention. Making critical comments regarding moderation decisions is not appropriate in the comments section, as it leads to escalation and further difficulties, and it is for that reason a violation of the guidelines to do so.

    If you have concerns about a comment, please contact me at [email protected]. I may be up to a full day before I’m able to deal with the issue, because I only work 5-10 hours a week and have other things to do besides moderating at MIA.

    In the meanwhile, please don’t make things worse by attacking the commenter yourself or by criticizing the moderation process when I may not have even read the comment for moderation at the point you see it. I left some pointers on how to respond appropriately to inappropriate comments in my original blog:

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2018/08/thars-new-sheriff-town/

    I appreciate your understanding and patience with this process.

  • Making gross generalizations about therapists leads to errors in judgment. There is a huge range of therapists/counselors out there with different orientations and priorities. I was fortunate to have one who was very empowering and focused on me getting better at accomplishing my own goals. She was very much “trauma informed” and the results were quite significant for me. Of course, this was back in 1981 before the DSM III and the ‘chemical imbalance’ model had totally taken over, but there are still folks out there doing good work, though I most definitely consider them to be very much in the minority these days. I’ve certainly spoken to folks who became more radicalized through therapy, not because the therapist wanted to “radicalize” them, but because as they woke up to what led to their so-called “mental illness,” they realized that radicalization was the path they needed to take. I’m one such.

    In fairness, I know a lot more stories about therapists who were either ineffective or were invalidative and destructive, and more and more these days believe wholeheartedly in the DSM and in drugs for “mental illnesses.” So I’d be super careful looking for a therapist, actually, I probably would not consider it for myself these days because I know more than most of them. But there are still some competent people out there.

  • That’s the basic lie, I agree. Calling it “mental illness” means it is the client/patient’s problem instead of a natural outgrowth of living in a social system that is designed to allow a small number of people to thrive at the expense of the masses. “Diagnosing” people clearly and intentionally puts the problem on the individual and exonerates social institutions from any responsibility.

  • I found this very moving. It seems to me that you have learned that humility is the beginning of understanding and being of help to another human being in distress. Sadly, humility is sorely lacking in most of our ‘mental health’ services and professionals. The entire enterprise is based on hubris and prejudice. I wish your attitude would spread among those who errantly believe they are helping. Being willing to hear that kind of feedback is painful but really the only path to gradually unraveling the truth.

  • It’s pretty freakin’ bizarre. I am sure if you thought I said otherwise, you misinterpreted. I have always wondered how ANYONE could look at this idea, “Gosh, I’m feeling depressed, maybe passing an electric current through my brain and inducing a seizure might help,” has got to be pretty darned confused, and anyone who would do it to someone else is either completely lacking in judgment and empathy or else enjoys making others suffer. I am totally against drugging people for “mental illnesses,” but “ECT” seems even worse.

  • I agree 100% that it is an attempt to “get ahead of the story” and control the narrative. I believe it only is happening because the true information about the ineffectiveness and dangers of psychiatric drugs are coming to the surface. They have to deflect attention somewhere, so they are choosing to focus on “withdrawl effects” in order to keep their “diagnostic” and “treatment” systems as intact as possible. So as distorted as the story itself may be, it is a sign that the recent increase in pressure to get the truth out is having an impact. “Cracks in the armor” make space for a well-placed sword strike to do some real damage!

  • Just to be clear, “Biological psychiatry” was alive and well long before the DSM III. Insulin coma therapy, lobotomies, “hydrotherapy,” and all sorts of weird practices went back decades or even centuries before 1980. I would say, though, that 1980 and following was a shift toward a more systematic marketing and disinformation campaign to intentionally and vastly expand the scope of psychiatry’s influence, especially into the “markets” of children, the elderly, and those formerly considered “neurotic.” There was also a coordinated campaign to minimize the impact of social conditions and trauma that served the purpose of improving psychiatry’s “brand.”

  • I believe the reference to “materialism” refers to the idea that the human is just a body, and that nothing can exist outside the physical plane. Whether that philosophy bred psychiatry, it has certainly been seized upon by psychiatry as a means of “proving” their point that “mental illnesses” are in the brain – “because if they aren’t, where could they be?” You and I have both made the point repeatedly that the assumption that mind = brain is at the crux of psychiatry’s “brain disorder” concepts. I think that is the aspect of materialism being referred to here.

  • “Biological psychiatry” goes back way before Thorazine. But I certainly don’t hear Bob calling for a return to the “good old days.” I see him identifying the DSM III as a big shift toward “diagnosing” teens and children, which was a lot less common before that time. They were identified as a new “market.”

    But you make a good point that the attack on the patients’ liberation movement appears to have been coordinated with the release of the DSM III. It stands to reason that if psychiatry was interested in altering their “image” to appear “more scientific,” silencing those who would tarnish that image would have to be part of the plan.

  • I will say, though, that there appears to be a move to acknowledge withdrawal symptoms from “antidepressants” in many media stories all of a sudden. Someone else said this, but I think it is a “damage control” approach, where things are so bad they have to admit something, but want to direct the “flow” to a place where it will minimally interfere with their financial concerns. So it IS a victory of sorts that the narrative has changed, if only in this one respect, and I don’t think it would have happened without MIA and other efforts to make the truth known to the public. Keep the heat on!

  • I actually think Laura’s story is very common. Many people become ensnared in the system because they trust that the “professionals” know what they are doing. Once they are in, many are scared into compliance by stories of what will happen if they go off the drugs, and if they do try, no one is there to explain about or help with the withdrawal symptoms. So they start falling apart when they go off the drugs, and it seems that the psychiatrists were right so they stay on for years or decades. It’s not a rare story.

  • The obvious point that is overlooked here is that the psychiatric profession “diagnosed” these people “treatment resistant depression,” when in fact there was nothing wrong with them that some artificial hope and time passing could not change. How is it possible that these people were deemed “treatment resistant” when they were completely capable of “self-healing,” if there was even anything to heal in the first place? Rather than “regression to the mean,” is it not in fact likely that the withdrawal of psychiatric diagnosis and “treatment” and the hopelessness that it conveys was the biggest variable in these miraculous recoveries from a supposedly hopeless condition?

  • It seems so odd that those in the field are comfortable with the idea that we can choose the theoretical framework we like or don’t like. Can we decide we don’t like the “theoretical framework” for cancer? If some people don’t like the idea that it’s an overgrowth of cells, and prefer to think of it more as a focus of negative energy, and others see it more as a new evolutionary pathway, do they get to pick?

    Real diagnoses refer to real, observable, measurable physical phenomena. No one has to vote on whether a broken leg is broken, or how you fix it. The very fact that we’re having this kind of discussion is proof enough that the “professionals” don’t have any idea what is going on. STOP DIAGNOSING, at least until you actually figure out what small percentage of the “mentally ill” actually have an observable physical problem you can see, measure, and effectively address!

  • I’m glad you mentioned oppression. The big shortcoming of this article is that it makes it seem like there are two equal ideas competing to see which one comes out on top. This is not what is going on. One idea is being FORCED on people, both practitioners AND clients within the system, and the other is being actively suppressed, not because the dominant one is “better,” but because it is more financially rewarding for certain people and because it helps those in power relieve themselves from any responsibility for the damage they cause. I eventually concluded that I had to get out of the profession completely, because change from within seemed impossible and because I felt I was colluding just by participating in such an oppressive system, even if I could help a small number of people along the way to escape or minimize their experience of oppression within the system.

  • I am not at all being facetious. You write very well and articulately, and have important things to say. I say this as a writer myself. Sometimes writing the book is in itself a very empowering exercise, regardless of who reads it. Mine has not sold a lot of copies, but I figure if even one person is helped by what I have written, it makes the entire process worth my time and energy.

  • I am not sure the “middle ground” you’re talking about is what was meant in the article. Your sounds more like a Hegelian “synthesis,” or like the Buddhist concept of the “middle way,” selecting neither of the two opposites. I think what the article is talking about is something more along the lines of, “Well, ECT does do some brain damage to some people, but let’s not forget that other people say they really like it!” Or, “Let’s not be too extreme in how we talk about psychiatric drugs, because some people who take them might have their feelings hurt.” It’s a call for not speaking the whole truth because it’s uncomfortable. Very different than collaborating to find a solution that works for a wider range of people involved in a conflict.

  • I totally get this. A ton of foster youth I worked with were diagnosed with “bipolar” or “emerging schizophrenia” based 90% on the fact that a parent had such a “diagnosis.” Despite the fact that not one of the “diagnoses” has ever been connected to any genetic anomaly, it’s assumed that “he got it from his mom.”

    The expectation of “medication compliance” from “therapists” is also not surprising to me. Sometimes it seemed they spent more time on that than on actually trying to help the kid sort out how to deal with all the bizarre dynamics of being in an abusive family and then being in foster care. I mean, if you can’t get why a foster kid might be feeling depressed or anxious or angry, what the heck are you doing trying to provide “therapy” to them?

  • It has always bugged me when someone says, “Oh, they JUST need attention!” As if needing attention is some trivial thing, or that the child is being somehow selfish by needing it. Attention is survival for young kids, they will literally DIE without attention. And the need for social connection is vital to all humans. The minimization of kids’ need for attention is a sign of people who really don’t like or understand children at all. Which says a little something about the psychiatric profession.

  • Posting as moderator:

    There is certainly a VERY large difference between arbitrary and ambiguous. Arbitrary would suggest a complete lack of any kind of standard except a person’s whim, whereas ambiguous would suggest that the standard is not black and white, which is certainly the case in any moderating scenario.

    It would certainly be possible to censor people based on the content or position their comment takes, but I think a look at the wide variety of comments and views that are allowed to stand that at least in general nothing of a censorship nature is occurring. Of course, when there are subjective standards, individual bias comes into play, and if there is any preferential treatment of which I am unaware, it would be coming from this kind of place rather than an intent to suppress or promote different views. That said, I can say with absolute certainty that I leave most posts up, including ones with which I personally disagree or some of which are critical of MIA or Robert Whitaker or a particular article or author, and the only intent I have is to make sure that people are “playing nice.” There ARE standards, and they are published standards, and decisions regarding moderation must be held to those standards. That’s what moderation is about. It is not based on any intent to sponsor or suppress any particular viewpoint as long as it is expressed within those rules, which everyone can read and which everyone implicitly agrees to by choosing to post.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    We do not moderate for content here. People are free to express whatever views they want to express. The editorial staff also selects a wide range of articles, many of which are not written for MIA but are gleaned from various places on the web. The only moderation that occurs is for potentially offensive or hostile language that would make the comments section an unsafe place for people to express their views. You are, of course, welcome to respectfully express your opinion on the value or lack of value of such questionnaires or articles regarding them.

  • I think you are perhaps not taking into account the impact of the lies and mythology spread so widely by mass marketing. I personally think it should be illegal for ads to claim things that aren’t true (actually, I think Pharmaceutical ads should be banned, as they are in every other industrialized nation except New Zealand), and I think it should be illegal for doctors to lie to their patients about what is supposedly known about “mental illnesses.” I also think it should be illegal to invent “diseases” by committees.

  • I had a similar thought. I believe he’s talking about the caretakers in people’s lives starting from a place of love. I say this based on past reading of his works. He’s very big about the adults being responsible for creating a safe and loving environment for their children, and doesn’t think kids should have to worry about taking care of the adults in their lives. By extension, it would make sense that he means that the “mental health professionals,” if that term applies, would have to be loving toward those in their care. I doubt very much that he means that if you meet your psychiatrist with love, that s/he will somehow magically become a good and loving person. We don’t live in fairy tales!

  • I don’t have a lot of time to make comments, John. I am mostly moderating others’ comments for appropriateness, so I don’t have a lot of time to make lengthy remarks. Additionally, you have summed things up so well in most cases that there isn’t much to say besides, “I agree, and I’m glad you said that!” You’re talking about a lot of things that occurred just as I was coming to adulthood. I grew up in the 60s and early 70s and related to the student protest movements big time. The election of Reagan was such a grave disappointment to me, yet the media and a lot of Americans somehow continued to portray him as some kind of hero or amazing leader when he was mostly a figurehead B-movie actor acting out his greatest role. The same scum that were really behind him were behind Bush, Bush II, and continue to have influence on Trump, though Trump is pretty hard to control. These are not nice people, and you are absolutely right that they were terrified by the youth movements and did all they could to shut them down. Limiting employment and creating economic anxiety were not accidents that happened, but in my view were part of the plan to get us so worried about our daily survival that we (especially the young) had no time or energy left for organizing. It’s been very effective, unfortunately.

  • There are most definitely “secondary gains” for people who’d rather pretend that emotional distress doesn’t exist or is pathological. Makes it easier for folks to discriminate and dismiss anyone whose behavior they don’t approve of.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    John, I understand your feelings, and a lot of people feel that way. I’m going to post this not only for you, but for anyone who is feeling that way. It is an act of power for me or another moderator to choose to remove what someone has posted, and that can easily feel like bullying to anyone. I try to be very, very sensitive to this fact when I make moderation decisions.

    I guess the question is what is meant by “censorship.” If I or anyone is removing comments because their content is considered unacceptable by the management, that would be censorship.

    Definition:

    “the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.”

    https://www.google.com/search?q=censorship+definition&rlz=1C1RLNS_enUS769US769&oq=censor&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j0l5.4226j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    What happens here is that we have certain standards of behavior that are expected and are implicitly agreed to by anyone who posts. These standards are posted and available for anyone to read. When we remove comments, it is intended ONLY to reflect concerns about whether or not it violates the guidelines that are written on the site. I always try to work with anyone whose comments are moderated and give them an opportunity to re-post an edited version that doesn’t violate the guidelines. And I have in a few cases been talked into leaving the post unchanged once I understood the intent.

    So no, we don’t do censorship here, though I understand why it might feel that way. Anyone is free to post any idea or thought or story they have, as long as it fits within the posting guidelines. In fact, I sometimes get pushed to censor certain viewpoints that aren’t popular in the community, and I always refuse to do so. Everyone has a right to their viewpoint and to express it here, as long as it is done in a way that respects others’ rights to do the same.

    I hope that clarifies things, and I do apologize for any hurt feelings that may have happened along the way.

    —- Steve

  • It sounds awful, John! No one should have a parent who doesn’t care. Sadly, it happens far too often. I have worked with foster kids for over 20 years and I have seen a lot, including a teen whose mom in fact backed over her in the driveway. She said she THOUGHT it was accidental, but couldn’t be sure. It’s just wrong to have to feel that way about a parent or caretaker!

  • Once again, your analysis is spot on. He broke the ATC union which had a chilling effect on unions nationwide, and he also promoted the idea that if you’re not doing well, it’s all your fault. “It’s Morning in America,” and if you’re not happy, you’re not trying hard enough. Very good fit with the psychiatric worldview, which not coincidentally began to expand its influence at just about the same time.

  • You said a mouthful! I think that is the real key to good parenting – to teach kids that it’s OK to be who they are and it’s safe to bring up stuff that is uncomfortable. Of course, kids need a lot of guidance and love, but it is so important for them to be able to “bring what’s inside to the outside.” In fact, that sounds like a great title for a book!

  • Of course, you are grieving. It is hard for me to understand how people can be so callous? Is it just because they don’t want to feel the grief themselves? But in any case, it means nothing about you. You’re entitled to feel whatever you feel, and the heck with anyone who says otherwise!

  • This is such a sad story, and really illustrates one of the many unintended consequences of forced “hospitalization.” It is also pretty awful that you are “used to” being looked at in a negative way. I am certain you do not deserve such treatment, yet a “diagnosis” (especially of “Borderline Personality Disorder”) seems to leave one open to any sort of denigrating comments from those claiming to be “helping.” It kind of makes me ill.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    I have not moderated any of the comments between Krista and Kindredspirit, but in both cases, some of the comments are getting pretty personal. I’d ask you both to back off and refocus on the content of the article, or to come up with a more respectful way to discuss the cat issue so I don’t need to intervene. Thanks!

  • I really don’t think it is, if the “bashing” is coming from the victims of the system. I consider it quite natural and necessary for oppressed people to gather up their energy and get good and angry before they can fight back against the oppressors. I don’t consider it quite reasonable to expect those who are being harmed to differentiate between the “good workers” and the “bad workers.” While I think intentional meanness and cruelty should not be practiced against anyone for any reason, but I guess I see it as the job of the “good mental health workers” to listen and hear the harm done by our colleagues and to help the person in question come to terms with it and decide what they want to do about it. At the end of that, it’s up to them to decide if you or I are an exception to the rule or not, no matter what we think of ourselves. And perhaps if we do a good enough job, we can introduce the possibility that not ALL “mental health workers” are abusive or condescending.

    I experienced plenty of oppression from my supervisors when I spoke up and called out things that were wrong and hurtful. But I can’t say I ever experienced the kind of uncontrolled harmful environment that was enforced on those our system claimed to be “helping.” It is different in both kind and in degree.

  • I think what he’s getting at is that psychiatrists pretend to offer the “quick fix” and take advantage of people who are looking for it. I think he’s said elsewhere that he’s not criticizing the patients, but the system for setting up rewards for being compliant and not asking a lot of questions but instead accepting their assigned “identity” as “mental patient.”

  • This is an excellent example about how “privilege” works. Those running the show can do almost whatever they want and get away with it. Some choose not to, but they all have that privilege in the system. Those below them have to accept abuse from their superiors as they dish it out, but they have the privilege of dumping it on the person below them. They may or may not exercise it, but they do have that ability to do it and get away with it. So people can be and are oppressed and yet still have privilege over someone lower down in the hierarchy. I feel bad for those line workers, but they do have a choice not to pass it on and to challenge the oppressive environment they are working in instead of taking it out on the inmates. Someone has to make a decision to toss a monkey wrench in the works, and yes, it’s scary, but continuing to work in the oppressive system without challenging it is tacitly approving of it. That’s what eventually drove me out. I could no longer live with what I had to do, or should I say what happened to some of the people even when I did my job well.

  • Thank you for saying this. I think your experience is pretty typical of “voluntary” patients. They have been told that this is the place they should go for help and that these people know what they’re doing. It’s quite a shock to arrive at the conclusion that they don’t.

    I also very much appreciated that a PTSD “diagnosis” “allowed me to reframe how the trauma in my life had led to my mental distress.” This seems in my experience to be what most people really are looking for – a way to reframe their experience that makes sense to them. Sadly, the DSM “diagnoses” generally do the opposite – cause more confusion and minimize or invalidate completely the role of trauma in the genesis of one’s so-called “mental illness.”

  • I think you may want to add one more incentive: parents or caretakers benefit from “diagnosis” by having the responsibility for figuring out what’s going on and how to help taken from their shoulders. It’s not because you need to develop more effective parenting skills – she has Bipolar Disorder! It’s not that you’re a boring teacher with poor classroom management – he has ADHD! It’s not that we’re neglecting our child – she has Depression! It makes it easy for parents, teachers and other caretakers to blame the child for their inability to care appropriately for him/her or to figure out what s/he needs.

  • Two excellent points, Lee. Morality and ethics are not scientific endeavors, and no amount of scientific experimentation can determine right from wrong – that’s an entirely human individual and social effort.

    I have also argued that the “null hypothesis” for these drugs should always be that they ARE dangerous, and the burden of proof should be on the company selling the drug to prove convincingly that they are not. If they can’t prove safety, we should assume dangerousness and act accordingly. If we did, medical care wouldn’t be the third leading cause of death in the USA today.

  • I think it goes even beyond that. There is an underlying need to believe in materialism, the idea that nothing can exist that goes beyond the physically observable and measurable universe. Any suggestion that there may be such a thing as a spiritual existence beyond the body, or even the idea that there are extra-physiological phenomena (like the mind) that might arise from the body but transcend it, seem anathema to such people. They seem to believe that materialism is the only way to be “scientific.” Ironic, as they are operating on a non-scientific assumption but are unable to recognize it because they’re so committed to making others whose beliefs are based on non-scientific assumptions wrong.

  • You make a valid point. However, in terms of brain damage specifically, it seems likely that both could cause such damage in a similar way due to similar effects. They use benzos, for example, to detox someone from alcohol, so they’re almost interchangeable in terms of effects on the brain. As such, their damage profiles in the brain should be similar. It may be that the livers and hearts of the benzo users are not impacted in the same manner, though again, it may be very much dependent on dosage control, or lack of same.

  • Since Benzos and alcohol both act on the same systems in the brain, if alcohol causes brain damage, it stands to reason that benzos would do the same eventually. Perhaps it depends on the person, dosage, and length of exposure, but it seems we ought to expect benzos to do such damage and be surprised if it doesn’t.

  • Mindfulness is, in the end, a SPIRITUAL practice, which is grounded in Buddhism. Efforts to make it into a utilitarian tool for surviving the rigors of a heartless and isolating modern society I think disrespectful to the true purpose of meditation, which is to free the mind/spirit from its bindings to the cycle of life and death. There is a lot more than “brain activity” going on here!

    —– Steve

  • Commenting as moderator:

    At this point, it appears that this thread has had plenty of time for everyone to air their views, and it feels like the comments have in some cases become excessively personal and disrespectful. My appreciation to those who have maintained equanimity throughout the discussion.

    I will try to summarize what I see happening at this point. It appears that one side of the discussion is focusing on the need for survivors to take a leadership role in the antipsychiatry movement, and it appears that the other side is saying that professionals have a lot to contribute and that it should not be framed as an us-vs-them dynamic between professionals and survivors. I think both of these viewpoints have some validity and that it is very understandable that professionals and survivors are likely to have different points of view, and indeed are likely to have difficulty completely understanding where the other side is coming from. I’m also not certain that either side is actually trying to say what the other side seems to believe they are saying.

    I don’t think there is a lot more to say, and it seems that further discussion, rather than leading to further clarification and understanding, is instead leading to more frustration, hurt feelings and hurtful comments. As such, it seems best that we close this discussion on this thread.

    I am closing the thread for further comments. I will continue to moderate comments that have already been made, as it appears there are some which will need to be addressed, but we will now be ending further discussion on this topic thread.

    —- Steve

  • I agree, John. There is frequently a collaboration between the parents, who want the professionals to “fix” their child, and the professionals, who want the parents’ support in keeping the child in “treatment,” with no respect for what is going on for the child. Often (not always) it is the parents or the family that needs to be “fixed.” It sounds like you needed support you didn’t get.

  • That is one of the less obvious problems with the DSM – it allows abusive parents and professionals to blame the children for their own inability to appropriately handle the children in their care. I read a study at some time in the past where children with abuse histories were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with “ADHD.” Some psychiatrist actually commented that this was because “ADHD” kids are more difficult and it makes it more likely that their parents will abuse them! The least powerful person always gets the blame when the DSM is involved.

  • My understanding is that esketamine is just one of the steroisomers (two different mirror image molecules) of ketamine, which contains both stereoisomers. What difference that makes is not something that is obvious. It could make a difference in some cases, but I’m guessing (as a chemist) that in most cases, the actions of stereoisomers would be very similar unless they’re engaging some system that only accepts one isomer over the other. And even if only one isomer is active, the ketamine contains both, so if there is a difference, the most likely one is that it would be a more powerful impact of the same effect.

  • I merely commented that Ketamine has been used as a date rape drug.

    “Ketamine
    What is Ketamine?
    Ketamine was developed in the 1960’s as an anesthetic for surgeries. Today it is used mostly by veterinarians. Ketamine causes unconsciousness, hallucinations, loss of body control and numbing. Overdose can be fatal. Ketamine is found in a white powder or a liquid and has a horrible, strong bitter flavor. Ketamine works very quickly, so if you tasted it in your drink you would only have a few seconds before losing consciousness.”

    https://www.ramapo.edu/aod/date-rape-drugs-xtc-rohypnol-ketamine/

  • I think you are more than a bit optimistic about the intentions of the psychiatric profession when you say it’s obvious that “mental health is not a medical issue.” In fact, this is the song the profession has been singing loud and clear since the DSM III came out in 1980. Millions of the so-called “mentally ill” have been told by their doctors, their psychiatrists, the Oprah Winfrey show, TV shows and movies, and of course, those wonderful DTC advertisements showing Zoloft “rebalancing” the chemicals in our cartooned synapses while failing to mention the dramatic reduction of serotonin receptors that results from this supposed “balancing.” It is thus VERY far from “obvious” that “mental illnesses” are not biological entities. A few years back, over 80% of surveyed Americans believed that “low serotonin” causes depression, despite the fact that this idea was convincingly disproven by the mid 1980s.

    I’m glad you “get” that, but I don’t think you’re going to convince anyone that the psychiatric profession agrees with your assessment or shares it with their clientele in most cases.

  • This was my strong reaction! For every case where someone was dense enough not to recognize that stimulants were causing the problem and instead the child was diagnoses with a “psychotic disorder” and prescribed another drug, there have to be at least 10 where the doctor or the parent or the child him/herself was smart enough to say, “Hey, this shit’s making him/her nuts! We need to get them off immediately!” If this is true, then suddenly we’re going from .2% to 2%, which is hardly negligible. And we’re only talking about psychotic episodes here. A Canadian Journal of Psychiatry retrospective study of 100 kids’ files showed an over 6% rate of psychotic symptoms in kids taking stimulants for “ADHD,” which means it’s happening in one kid out of every 16 kids who is taking the drug. With millions of prescriptions out there, there are at least hundreds of thousands of kids experiencing psychotic symptoms as a result of their “treatment.” Yet we’re just “discovering” this now?

    “And in other news, people who are cut have a tendency to bleed…”

  • I have seen many, many cases of this working with foster kids. Stimulants cause aggressive behavior, or less commonly, mania and even frank psychosis, and instead of stopping the stimulants, they add more drugs to “treat” the adverse effects, and of course that requires new “diagnoses” as well. Part of the “juvenile bipolar” explosion was due to stimulant adverse effects being diagnosed as ‘bipolar disorder.’ Ironically, they are often prescribed antipsychotics, which reduce dopamine transmission, while still being given stimulants, which INCREASE dopamine transmission. But as many times as I pointed out this contradiction, only one psychiatrist ever listened to me that I remember.

  • I actually believe the medical education system chases off critical thinkers from the word “go.” The hypercompetitive atmosphere, the extreme authoritarian approach, the intentional overstressing of trainess by loss of sleep and ridiculous expectations – an antiauthoritarian or non-authoritarian would run the other way screaming. I think the field also attracts authoritarians because being a doctor conveys status and financial success, which are less important to antiauthoritarian types.

  • “Narcissism” is just a description of a way of behaving, nothing more or less. A pretty obnoxious way, admittedly, but it’s just a description. Anyone who thinks that people fall into two classes, “good” and “evil,” will not be very successful in understanding human behavior.

    As one wise person once said, “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us.”

  • I agree with you about antiauthoritarian vs. anarchist. It is very much a real possibility to have government that respects people’s rights to make their own decisions. Such governments are, sadly, very rare, as most people are in the end authoritarians, and are in fact heavily trained to be so by our school system and other institutions. But I have, on rare occasions, been part of a group that governed itself in a truly democratic fashion, and it is a joy to participate in.

  • This has become our policy ever since our 18-year-old son was “screened” for depression by a doctor, who afterwards went into the usual tirade about how “depression is a disease, just like diabetes” and “it’s now treatable” and so on when he told them he’d been suicidal. The doctor never for ONE MOMENT asked why he had felt that way. It actually pissed him off big time, as he had been struggling with an assault and other issues and so had many good reasons to feel hopeless or discouraged at the time. Now if someone asks, we simply decline to answer those questions, or else say, “I’m just fine!”

  • The fact that stimulants can be perceived as helpful for some people doesn’t make “ADHD” a “disorder.” It appears to me that people who “have ADHD” are simply different in that they are less tolerant of arbitrary rules and boredom, and have a more difficult time getting organized and planning things. This is no more a “disorder” that being a person who doesn’t like big groups of people or who lacks athletic skills or who finds doing artwork challenging. I’m not for a moment suggesting that these challenges are not real or difficult, or that stimulants can’t be helpful in dealing with them. I have two (of my three) boys who all fit the “ADHD” criteria, and believe me, I know what the challenges can be! But to call something a “disorder” just because people have particular personality characteristics that are difficult for them or for people dealing with them is just not scientific. People can “have ADHD” for dozens of different reasons (at least 50, by one author’s count), including sleep apnea, low iron, rigid classrooms, high intelligence relative to peers, poor parenting skills, abuse/neglect/trauma at home, nutritional deficiencies, allergies, and on and on and on. Or maybe that’s just the way they are.

    If folks want to take stimulants to help them focus or pay attention to dull things they need to do, I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with a doctor telling you that you are deficient simply because your personality doesn’t fit with the expectations of modern society. “ADHD” behavior has survival value for our species, and it should not be disrespected or diminished in value.

    One quick example: a recent study put groups of three kids together, elementary age. One half the groups had an “ADHD” diagnosed child in it, the other half did not. They were each given a set of problem-solving tasks to do. The groups with the “ADHD” child in them spent significantly less time working on the problems and significantly more goofing around, while the other groups stayed with the problem most of the time. But in the end, the “ADHD” groups solved all the problems, while those without the “ADHD” child didn’t solve any.

    Staying “on task” is overrated, especially when the task is mindless and pointless and repetitive. Being able to look at things from different angles and try out new ideas is critical to solving problems. Of course, if we had a group with THREE “ADHD” kids, who knows if they’d ever get anything done? But the “ADHD” types were essential to the more straight-ahead reasoners, and when they worked together and valued each other, they had more fun AND they came up with better results!

  • There is definitely incredible value in reclaiming one’s own narrative, telling one’s story in public, defining one’s own experience. It’s vital to empowerment. It’s just that it doesn’t sound like that’s the true purpose of this arrangement, as the people running the contest seem to have their own agenda as to what an acceptable narrative is. At least that’s how it sounded in Sera’s case.

  • I see it as a PR thing, as well as providing protection to those who are so unfortunate to run into this kind of situation while we’re trying to unravel it. Psychiatry’s not going to end tomorrow, and even if it did, there are still plenty of other options for extrajudicial incarceration that will arise. I think they all should be viewed as what they are, namely arrests, and be treated accordingly. Otherwise, people are tricked into “confessing” their “symptoms” to someone they thought was there to help.

  • Yeah, the 80s was kind of a nightmare from a dating perspective, wasn’t it? I remember avoiding discos at all costs because I didn’t want everyone judging my dancing or my clothing as “not cool enough.” Plus the music I grew up with was all about protest and revolution and fun and love, not about money, sex and drugs! OK, well, there was a lot about drugs in there, too, but you get my point.

  • I think the Miranda Warning makes it more clear to non-involved people that this is not about helping, it’s about incarceration. Plus it increases the odds that the potential prisoner will get legal counsel, which means fewer people locked up. Naturally, it’s not anything close to a total answer, but I think it would be an important statement and provide needed protection.

  • That was my first thought – we have more and more kids “in the system,” and particularly taking one or more psychiatric drugs, and we have more kids with worse “psychopathology.” If this shit remotely worked, wouldn’t our “new technology” be REDUCING the burden of “mental illness?” Yet this theme is essentially never, ever heard in the media or the psychiatric research world. At best, we can easily conclude that all the extra drugs are not helping. But based on the long-term research, there’s a good possibility that they are actually making things worse with their “diagnoses” and “treatments.” WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  • It also occurs to me that even these “candidate genes” in the most POSITIVE light presented by biased researchers never came within orders of magnitude of the known effect of trauma and environmental stress on so-called “mental disorders.” Most likely, nutrition, exercise, sunlight exposure, change of environment, laughing, hugs, and all sorts of other things have more measurable effect than the most optimistic estimates for any gene. Yet somehow, these studies continue to get funded. It’s a total dead end, and high time the research literature stated this out loud.

  • The real question is why placebo so often equals or beats the drugs. I often wonder what would happen if active placebos were used to avoid accidental unblinding.

    Additionally, remember that most psych drug trials are 4-8 weeks at the longest. There are lots of drugs that can temporarily make you “feel better.” Alcohol is a great example. It’s a superb “antianxiety agent” and would certainly beat the pants off of placebo in a 6-week trial for anxiety. Unfortunately, the withdrawal effects have a tendency to counterbalance the benefits, don’t they? Especially after 10 years. Of course, the exact same thing can be said for Xanax, Valium, Klonapin and the other benzodiazepines. But somehow, these are considered “medications” rather than simply a way to distract oneself temporarily from the pain of living. What’s the difference? Someone’s making a lot more money off the benzos. That’s about it.

  • Yes. Because panic attacks have never been shown to be caused by one thing only. They are caused by many different things, including physiological (like insufficient oxygen), psychological (such as reactions from childhood abuse), social (as happened to me when I retired, sold my house and bought a huge camper to live in), and spiritual (such as losing faith in God and not knowing what happens when one dies). There are as many causes as there are individuals, and the idea that genetics would cause such a temporary and conditional situation is actually so unlikely as to approach zero probability. And to date, there is absolutely not one iota of evidence, despite decades of research, to suggest a genetic cause to ANY “mental illness.”

    We should look at what is going with each individual and stop trying to blame normal emotions like anxiety on “bad brains” with zero evidence that it is true.

  • “Little boxes on the hillside
    Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
    Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes, all the same
    There’s a green one, and a red one, and a blue one, and a yellow one
    And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same.”

    “And they all play on the golf course
    And drink their martinis dry
    And they all have pretty children
    And the children go to school,
    And the children go to summer camp
    And then to the university
    Where they are put in boxes
    And they come out all the same.”

    Malvina Reynolds, 1962

  • I am pretty disgusted by the movement to silence ANY discussion of vaccine science that doesn’t totally support that every vaccine ever invented is safe and necessary. I got temporarily tossed off another site for mentioning that the flu vaccine is not generally very effective against the flu, and should probably not be a priority for anyone who isn’t in a high-risk group. I provided a link to scientific research on the point I raised. But I was accused of posting “antivax propaganda.” Pretty authoritarian, and ironic, as people accusing others of being antiscientific are denying anyone else the right to post scientific information and to discuss its implications. I complained to the moderators, to no effect. Disgusting.

  • Very true. The first thing a scientist should do when presented with evidence that a particular hypothesis is true is to generate any other possible explanation that might also be valid and start testing those, too, while setting up to have others try to replicate the experiment you did. Apparently, something like 50% or or more of recent accepted studies fail when replication efforts are made. We would be much better off being a lot more humble about what we “know,” especially in a “soft” science like psychology. Unless, as you say, our purpose is marketing, in which case we spin every “positive” study to make it seem better than it is, and either spin “negative” studies to sound positive, or make sure they are never published. That’s Marketing as Science, and it seems to be how business is done these days.

  • Quite so, and that is my point. What is called “major depressive disorder” could be caused by childhood trauma, iron deficiency, low thyroid, chemotherapy, finding out about a serious life-changing diagnosis, having a dead-end job, being in a domestic abuse relationship, not knowing the meaning of life, having Lyme Disease, or a long, long list of other possibilities. As Kindred Spirit points out, they don’t even bother to check for well-known biological causes. All of which tells us that “mental disorders” AS DEFINED IN THE DSM are nonsensical entities that have no meaningful value, and that claiming any such “disorder” is caused in the main by a “brain disorder” is rank idiocy without a shred of scientific evidence.

    If we ditch the DSM, we might actually find out what IS causing the problem, be it biological, psychological, social, or spiritual in nature.

  • It is perhaps a generalization, and as I often say, “All generalizations are wrong.” However, what I’m talking about here is an extreme of strong reaction to normal feedback, for instance, a person says, “I’ve felt really weird since taking this drug, it doesn’t seem to be working and it’s keeping me from sleeping and making me itchy.” The doctor says, “This has nothing to do with the drug. You have to wait for it to work, you can’t expect instant results, besides, maybe you’re just not used to feeling good and it seems weird.” Or even worse, “I’m the doctor here, and I know what these drugs do. Just report your experiences and I’ll decide what’s working. I have medical training and experience, you can’t possibly understand these things.” This person is clearly uncomfortable with plain old FACTS as presented by the patient. To me, it’s a bad sign. Sure, it might be caused by something else, but the odds are very strong that this person is trying to establish authority over you for some reason, and very often that reason is that they don’t know how to help you and that this drug is their only tool, but they can’t admit it. To me, it would be a HUGE red flag that I want to go elsewhere for advice.

    There is no reason for a professional person to feel threatened by a client reporting the results of an intervention. At a minimum, it would take a very insecure doctor to find this kind of feedback disturbing or upsetting. But I guess there are a lot more insecure doctors around than one might expect, especially in psychiatry.

  • Well, THAT was an impressive list! Perhaps we’re missing each other a bit because of what is defined as “mental illnesses.” I have never had any interest in denying that there are biological causes of mental DISTRESS or CONFUSION. What I have a problem with is when the DSM creates a “disorder” like “ADHD” or “bipolar disorder” and claim that ALL people with these ill-defined and subjective “diagnoses” have the SAME biological cause! What you said toward the end is what I believe also – that each case is different and no one-size-fits-all approach will suffice for any “disorder,” especially those defined by behavioral observation rather than any kind of scientific measurement and analysis. In fact, one of psychiatry’s great crimes (and there are many) is their insistence on “diagnosing” people without even bothering to do a physical workup to see what might be causing their “symptoms.” This doesn’t even get into environmental stresses (both physiological and psychological) that contribute beyond a person’s own biological variables.

    So sure, there are biological causes of mental/emotional distress, and you’ve documented a ton of them here, which is appreciated. The question I pose is, can anyone name one DSM-defined disorder that is reliably caused by any specific biological problem? I think we all know the answer to that one.

  • I think you are right on. Any time a supposedly professional person gets defensive with someone they’re supposedly trying to help, it suggests that the person doesn’t actually know the subject matter at hand and their client/customer is hitting too close to home.

  • Yes, it is, unless your goal is to “capture a maximum market share” by implying that any divergence from being mildly happy to mildly irritated is a sign of “mental illness.” It is also rooted in the assumption that “normal” people are always happy (but not TOO happy, that would be MANIC!) with things just the way they are. This kind of thinking lets our leaders off the hook for the damage their institutions, agencies and corporations are doing by blaming anyone who is unhappy for having a “bad brain” instead of seeing if maybe we have some bad institutions creating problems.

  • Just to clarify, I’m not a fan of “crazy” or “bonkers” either. But I’m saying that I find “mental illness” a far more damaging term, even though professionals claim that they use it to decrease “stigma.” If you say I’m nuts, at least I know you’re not trying to help me out!

  • I think “mental clarity” is a very different term than “mental health.” Clarity is a much more specific quality than “health”, especially in the “mental” sense of it. I’m also OK with “spiritual well being.” I think the problem now is that “mental health” as a term has been coopted by the industry, and brings a whole lot of negative assumptions along with it. I’m for not using it except in quotation marks. But that’s just MHO.

  • The underlying problem is trying to categorize all these people who are suffering some kind of emotional/mental distress as being in a group that has anything in common with each other. Kind of like talking about Native Americans as if they were a group who are all the same, or children, or women, or gay people, or any large group. It’s bigoted at the least to view people as being the same based on one shared characteristic. The terms “mental health” or “mental illness” both seem to imply that there are some people whose brains work right and others whose brains work wrong, and that being in the second group implies some kind of pathology. It’s not a good starting point for a positive discussion of how to help people who are suffering for whatever reason.

  • My understanding is that “neuroleptic” generally refers to a class of drugs that act by decreasing dopamine transmission in the brain. Thorazine, Haldol, Stelazine, were the original neuroleptics. The “second generation” antipsychotics are hybrid neuroleptic/SSRIs. There are lots of neurotoxins that are not neuroleptics, but all neuroleptics are neurotoxins.

  • You may be an exception, or your school may be. But I don’t think this has changed. Schools are very concerned with liability and try to “counsel” students with “mental health difficulties” to go on leave, at least in the USA. The confidentiality violations alone in this story are hair raising. I think the advice to be VERY careful about college counseling centers is very much on target.

  • Following up on Miranda’s comment, I find it interesting that the fact that the clients are feeling too intimidated to speak up is not considered to be the central problem in this interaction. If you want “shared decision making”, you need shared power, and the current model goes against that. “Clinical authority” is simply the asserted right of the psychiatrist to dominate the decision-making process. In other words, most psychiatrists don’t BELIEVE in shared decision making. This should be the primary focus if someone really wants to change that dynamic. I actually make it very clear to any doctor I have to see that I am, in fact, the one making decisions here, and that their advice is advice which I may accept or reject, and if they don’t like this attitude, they should let me know now so I can find another doctor. But most people are very uncomfortable taking that assertive a position.

    This also belies the “blame the patient” approach to explaining away the steady increase in prescribing by doctors in every area of medicine. These things are not happening because the clients saw Drug X on TV and are demanding it. In most cases, it is the doctor who is deciding what the patient is supposed to take, and it’s clear from this discussion that most patients don’t have the skills or the wherewithal to challenge the doctor’s opinion on any recommendation.

  • I think the problem with “mental health” is that it implies that people who are suffering are somehow “ill” and that “healthy” means not being upset in any way with the status quo. I’d rather go with “crazy” or “nuts” or “bonkers” than “mentally ill.” But there are better terms that can be used. I believe that controlling language is part of controlling the narrative.

  • Wow, well done! There are SO many things that can be done to help a kid succeed, but we have to actually both observe and care about the child instead of trying to shut him/her up! It’s not rocket science, but it starts with understanding that kids do what they do for a reason – and it’s NOT because they have broken brains!

  • For a lot of us, the function of a family is to raise capable and empowered children and to support each other in surviving the insanity that is our modern world. Admittedly, it would be a lot easier if we had much bigger units than “nuclear families,” but I see that more as a symptom of the larger problem of intentional community destruction by our “leaders.”

  • I think the correct statement is that people who TOOK ANTIPSYCHOTICS showed brain shrinkage, regardless of their spurious psych “diagnosis.” But I agree that avoiding psych terminology is an important strategy in decreasing the power of the psychiatric profession to control the narrative.

  • “Our” case means the case of anyone who wants to ditch the current DSM label-drug-and-shock paradigm of doing business. These folks aren’t going away without a fight. I don’t see the “brain shrinkage” argument as being about permanent brain damage (though we know that does occur – Tardive Dyskenesia and the like) so much as being about undermining the disingenuous and unsupported arguments from the psychiatric mainstream that there are good reasons to believe these “disorders” are biological in nature, and that their wonderful drugs actually repair some “imbalance.” The entire enterprise is founded on that faulty mythology, and I don’t think it’s possible to undermine people’s faith in it without some hard evidence that the psychiatrists are full of crap. Science alone won’t do it, but it is part of the picture if ending psychiatry is the goal.

  • I have always viewed authoritarianism as more of an attitude as a system. An authoritarian believes that some people are above and others below, and that those above get to give orders and do as they please, while those below have to follow orders and do as they’re told. Of course, one can be below someone and above someone else, so the basic rule of authoritarianism is “fecal matter descends to the area of lowest gravitational potential.” Those higher in the structure have entitlements and different rules, but any frustration the authoritarian may feel can be dumped on those lower than them in the structure. It’s all about in-groups and out-groups and hierarchies and entitlement and force and power.

    As Oldhead properly observes, any political party or structure, as well as commercial and religious groups, or really any group of people can have an authoritarian set of social expectations. It is more about how people interact with each other and how decisions are made in the group than it is about political orientation.

  • I think the importance of this particular study is that it was done by a mainstream psychiatrist whose interest was to prove that “the disease” was causing loss of brain matter, and accidentally proved it was the drugs which did so. The loss of brain matter (on the average) claimed to be seen in long-term “schizophrenia”-diagnosed people was used to support the idea that “untreated schizophrenia” was dangerous and was used to promote “early intervention” for anyone with the slightest indication of what they call a “thought disorder.” This study has almost silenced that argument. I think it’s important to know about and use these studies to make our case, even as we all know that every individual case is different, and that recovering even from long-term use of these drugs is possible for many so exposed.

  • The challenge I see here is that you can’t really compare a car accident to being suicidal or hearing voices. In a car accident, you can see broken bones, bleeding, bruises, you can check pupil dilation or reflexes or a hundred other little things that tell you what’s going on. But as you say, you can’t do this with psychiatric diagnoses. In fact, one could easily invent a psychiatric diagnosis by choosing any behavior you think is “unhealthy” and calling it a “disorder.” We have stupid things like “internet addiction disorder” and “mathematics disorder” and “oppositional defiant disorder” which are obviously just observations and judgments about certain behavior. There is, as you say, no test.

    The part I’d like you to think about is the question of why, when there is so much research and information on the dangers of these drugs, the psychiatric profession is not interested in investigating things like Soteria House or Open Dialog or even stuff like nutritional approaches or other forms of helping like “hearing voices” groups and other peer support? While they often give lip service to some of these ideas, they are always considered secondary or additional to the REAL treatment, which is drugs. Do you really believe the billions of dollars raked in by the drug companies don’t come into play here? There is now strong data showing that long-term use of antipsychotic drugs leads to a LOWER likelihood of ever recovering. And yet the profession continues to recommend immediate and ongoing drug “treatment” to every single person who presents as “psychotic.” Why is this?

    I’m not suggesting that the individuals at the front line are all bought off and corrupt. I’m suggesting that they all participate in a system that is based on a dishonest model of reality, and that model was constructed with the idea of making money in the forefront, not the idea of helping people get better. You said you have read “Anatomy of an Epidemic?” Bob Whitaker talks about this at length in his book.

  • Most of those who buy the current paradigm fully actually think the brain IS the mind, that there is nothing else to “treat” except the brain, in my observation. They get quite confused when I talk about mind being more than just brain. They think they are being “Scientific” by not believing that anything beyond “brain” could exist.

  • Which is rank discrimination, plain and simple. I could easily have been diagnosed, in fact, I probably was in my 20s when I went for therapy for a year or so. I’ve been tremendously successful as a counselor and social worker, according to my clients, which is the only measure that’s worth looking at. Why would they not want me as a social worker? Some of the best social workers I’ve known have had rough lives. It helps them empathize with the clients.

  • I am so sorry! That is just awful! Your story is emblematic of exactly what is wrong with this whole idea of “broken brains.” There is no healing that way, only more and more damage. And I HATE how they minimize memory loss as no big deal, just a minor “side effect,” when it is evidence of brain damage and can ruin someone’s life. I know a survivor who can’t remember her own wedding. It is too sad for words, but it also pisses me off big time!

  • Another psychiatric success story!

    A very sad tale, that the doctor himself was taken in by the psychiatric/big pharma mythology, to the extent of being told he was condemned to a life of drug “treatment” and anxiety. No one apparently told him there was anything else he could do, and the “diagnosis” itself appeared to be the final straw. How very sad – no one created a safe space for him to talk about why his life wasn’t working for him, about the pressures and tensions at work and whatever else was happening, including the pressure to keep pretending everything was AOK. It is a classic example of how and why the psychiatric paradigm is not only not helpful, but significantly adds to the kind of problems it purports to know how to fix.

  • I believe those suffering from what are metaphorically called “mental illnesses” might be much better off if “mental health” were NOT a central plank of the candidates’ platforms. Unless there are some uniquely well-informed and courageous candidates who are willing to argue for the removal of “mental health” from the field of medicine altogether, or to prevent any kind of forced “treatment” (which is an oxymoron to me), it would be better for all if “mental health” is left in the background, as it will be easier that way for those wanting to avoid the system to fly under the radar.

  • I agree. Calling something a “last resort” is admitting that you’re desperate and don’t know what else to do. Any “medical” person in a state of despair will no longer be providing ME service, that’s for sure! I’d much prefer if the person says, “I’m not sure what to do that would help you” than have them engaging in some desperate “treatment” that might kill me or leave me wishing that it had.

  • I wish I were surprised by this. Good for you for having the guts to speak up! The idea that they are somehow able to induce “different” seizures is beyond comprehension. Do the other doctors really BELIEVE this? Or are they in on the not-so-funny “joke?”

  • I think the problem with your statement is the word “treatment.” People deserve HELP, but the term “treatment” redefines these issues as medical problems and invalidates the reality that trauma, pain, physical illness and social conditions all impact what is defined as “mental illness.” This may be very different from what you’ve been told or read about, but that’s because most people seem to have bought into this very idea that “mental illnesses” are something a psychiatrist can measure and identify and “treat.” You just stated yourself that there are no tests. To me, this means that “diagnosis” is completely subjective and could be given to anyone for any reason. Which means the “treatment,” including ECT, can be given to anyone for any reason.

    I think the link you provide is moving more in the right direction – nutrition, exercise, change of environment, listening, all of these serve to return the power to the person with the problem. Drugs and electrically-induced seizures do nothing but damage the brain and do essentially nothing to help the person even figure out what’s going on, let alone what the person can do about it.

    So by all means, let’s offer help and support to anyone who is suffering! But there is no need to redefine their suffering as a “disease” nor the helping as “treatment.” Let’s just call it helping each other out!

  • Sigh… This is what happens when you brand “anxiety” as a problem instead of looking for its cause. Their conception of “anxiety” is a disembodied head with a weird expression on its face and the word “anxiety” written across the forehead, as if anxiety were just some “thing” associated with heads and having no relationship to the school, its staff, its students, their parents, or the community in which the anxious person lives.

    Where is the curiosity? Doesn’t anyone wonder WHY the kids are feeling anxious? Is “school refusal” in a particular case due to some disembodied “anxiety,” or is it due to being worried about the bullies waiting for you at school, or the mean teacher you have to put up with all year long, or the incredibly DULL class periods where you always fall asleep and get in trouble, or the reading group where you’re forced to read out loud and are so worried about making an error and having kids laugh at you that you can’t read at all and they laugh at you anyway?

    This kind of idiotic research shows how the DSM “diagnoses” prevent meaningful research from actually occurring, because everyone stops at the “diagnosis” as if this means they understand the situation.

  • I have known plenty of people with physical disabilities, and very, very few ever lived lives of luxury, and none did so on the government. The amount provided by SSI is generally barely enough to survive, and many of the “mentally ill” who are so disserved by the “system” have physical disabilities, too, many induced by their “treatment.” I don’t think it’s proper to make generalizations about people with physical disabilities – they are an extremely diverse group!

  • Hope you can find your way not to feel guilty about your thoughts. There is no harm to thinking thoughts, as long as you don’t act on them. There are lots and lots of people who have similar fantasies, as well as parents with thoughts about killing their children. My wife and I always share our brief homicidal impulses with each other – most of the time, we just laugh about it!

  • I also find that a good percentage of alternative practitioners have adopted the DSM “diagnostic” terminology, which affects both how they talk to people about their difficulties and the kinds of strategies they tend to employ. I’d keep clear of anyone who is still talking about “natural remedies for bipolar disorder” and the like – they are still steeped in the medical model, just coming up with other “magic bullets” within that model.

  • I agree completely. There is an entirety of Buddhist theory and beliefs that underlies the whole idea of why we meditate and what is to be gained from it. It is ironic that someone could think of scheduling a “mindfulness seminar” in the midst of an insane, “monkey-mind” world where real mindfulness would create nothing but horror as the person gained real awareness of what was going on!

    Psychiatry aims at removing any idea of spiritual existence and awareness in favor of worshiping the material world under the guide of corporate capitalism. Buddhism moves away from materialism to spiritual awareness of the meaninglessness of striving to control the material world. It is in some ways the essence of anticapitalism.

  • “Treatment-resistant depression” translates loosely to “I have no idea how to be helpful to you, but want to pretend that it’s your fault, or better, your DEPRESSION’S fault.”

    Would we ever want to take a car to a mechanic who told us we had “repair-resistant fuel injectors?” Or a tutor who said we had an “education-resistant child?” How do they get away with this nonsense?

  • Instead of calling it “sinking,” let’s call what happened to the Titanic “assuming a lower floating equilibrium.” That way, everyone will feel better as they go under.

    What the heck difference does it make if it’s renamed? Do we have to “gain consensus” before we decide whether cancer is an illness? If “schizophrenia” is decided NOT to define a “disease” category, why would you rename it instead of just tossing it out?

    Or maybe we can rename each person’s experience without forcing them all into a category – maybe ask the client him/herself what name seems most appropriate to them? But then where would the research money come from, and how could we justify drugging if every person’s needs are different and can’t be categorized?

  • When people have grand mal seizures in any other context, doctors will do anything they can to stop them. It is known that people with seizure disorders experience brain damage if the seizures are not controlled. Why on earth would anyone expect that inducing a seizure would have a different effect?

  • I would add that in Buddhism, participation is always voluntary, and no one is “the authority” who can tell you that “you are doing it wrong.” It is understood that it is a practice that will unfold differently for each person, and that the person him/herself is the judge of what it all means. VERY different than the “mental health” version.

  • It is one of the underrecognized ill effects of the DSM and the “chemical imbalance” concept – it gives adults permission to not take responsibility for their condition, or more nefariously, to blame their children or others in their care for not “appreciating” their abusive behavior sufficiently. I think the problem is painting with too broad a brush. This is one of the forces at work, but even that force is created and encouraged by the psychiatric profession for power and profit. The fact that other misguided or ill-intended people are willing to buy into the fiction in no wise alleviates the responsibility for the psychiatric “profession” for creating this mess in the first place.

  • I totally agree that there are individual physicians who are corrupt and evil and know absolutely what they’re doing. I don’t think most of them are – I think most are simply entitled and believe they know a lot more than they do. Some are also report being afraid to “disappoint” patients by not prescribing something. But there are definitely evil docs out there – I have met more than a couple.

  • I agree 100%. We do seem to have lost some of this “grit” over time, for many reasons, and of course, every person is responsible for their own attitude toward the current dire set of circumstances. But the psychiatric profession has led the charge to promote this idea – their concept is that “no one should have to suffer,” even though suffering is a key part of learning how to live, and even though of course they have no real solution for suffering and generally create more and more suffering in the long term. I’m all for helping create cultural change, and it starts by recognizing the economic and power incentives for those telling the tale that we can’t handle adversity. I believe most people still have this in them, but some of us need help bringing it to the surface, usually through moving from fear or hopelessness to righteous indignation. Casting blame on the victims of these evil machinations doesn’t help them get there. Educating them regarding what’s happened and why and that they are not alone is a much better path, IMHO.

  • Psychiatrists are almost ALWAYS portrayed in movies and TV as caring therapist types who know how to listen and help people safely explore their conflicts and issues. If someone’s only image of psychiatrists was from the media, it’s easy to see how they might expect that they could be helpful. I don’t think it’s by chance that such portrayals so massively predominate. I think it’s part of the propaganda effort, just like it is to show “patients” who “go off their meds” and do something dangerous. They’re painting a picture, and it is hardly surprising that most people expect that picture to reflect reality.

  • I am NOT trying to minimize medical errors as a cause of death! I’m trying not to allow a reframing of this issue as one of “errors” in medical care when a huge proportion of the deaths come from “standard care.”

    “Estimates dating back nearly two decades put the number at 100,000 or more deaths annually, which includes a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 that projected 106,000 deaths. A more recent analysis estimates 128,000 Americans die each year as a result of taking medications as prescribed – or nearly five times the number of people killed by overdosing on prescription painkillers and heroin.”

    https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2016-09-27/the-danger-in-taking-prescribed-medications

    While medical errors in and of themselves are a HUGE problem, looking like something over 200,000 annually, I don’t want to minimize 128,000 deaths as “errors” when the doctors were simply following the standard protocols and dosages. Even a “good doctor” could kill you!

  • I realize the real problem with Lawrence’s statement: that people “knowingly” turn over their lives to psychiatry. If they did this “knowingly,” it would mean that they knew and understood the likely outcomes, including the potential negative consequences, and that they knew and understood the fictional nature of the idea of “mental illness” diagnoses and related concepts. VERY few people who actually know this would be willing to turn their lives over to those in charge of such a mass deception!

  • Actually, it wasn’t “medical errors,” though it has been spun that way by the propaganda machine. It was actually MEDICAL CARE that measured out as the third leading cause of death in the USA. And the most common cause of death by medicine was not an “error,” but side effects of properly prescribed and properly administered “medication.” I think the attempt to spin this as “medical error” is an intentional PR effort to make it seem like “bad doctors” are the problem, rather than bad drugs and bad medical training.

  • I think you may be confusing intent to avoid responsibility with trust. We humans need to develop trust with our clan. These “doctors” are selling trust – “We’ve got you covered, don’t worry, we have the answers!” While it is true that looking for simple answers is part of the problem, I think it’s pretty unrealistic to expect the entire culture to decide not to trust doctors when they are told from birth onward that doctors can be trusted. I think there is a difference between WANTING to give up responsibility and BELIEVING that someone can be trusted when they can’t. It takes a lot of courage to challenge cultural mythology, and I personally think fear plays a much larger role than desire to avoid responsibility. That being said, I do believe that learning to assume maximum responsibility for what we control is critical to our getting out of the current capitalistic trap. But I don’t think framing it as laziness on the part of those who succumb to the propaganda machine really helps move us forward.

  • Sam,

    Just to clarify, there really WAS an epidemic of falsely accused people, which led to some much-needed reforms in forensic interviewing of children, which have taken hold nationwide, and maybe internationally as well. The McMartin Preschool case was most definitely an example of implanted or extracted “memories” of things that did not happen, and the therapists were in the main culpable for creating this disaster.

    What I’m objecting to is jumping from the clear and fully supportable observation that false memories CAN be implanted to the conclusion that there is no possibility of suppressing a memory of something that really did happen. There are people who can’t remember anything before they’re 10 or 12. I doubt that they really can’t remember anything during that time, but I do believe it’s possible not to WANT to remember bad stuff and to wall it off from conscious recollection.

    But it’s a very delicate area, and it is very easy for a person to inadvertently (or intentionally) encourage or induce “recollections” of things that did not happen. I’m not in a position to know what has happened in your family’s case, nor do I really want to weigh in on that question. I just don’t want you to come away thinking that I believe implanted or created “memories” are a fantasy. They are very real and very, very destructive to all involved.

  • I don’t think it requires encouraging people to alter their beliefs about past events to validate that such events may not be entirely conscious in their memories. I have a clear example from my own past where my second grade teacher hit me in the head and tossed me and another kid out in the hallway. I shared this story with a classmate at our 30th high school reunion, and she remembered the incident, including some parts I was not aware of (like the part after she hit me in the head!) While I still did not recall this part of the event, I did remember going down to the nurse after heading to the office, and I remember her checking my head for signs of injury, which I did not recall previously. I also knew there was another kid in the hallway, but she reminded me of who it was, which helped me flesh out the memory.

    Was that recollection 100% accurate? I very much doubt it. Did my teacher hit me in the head? I am absolutely certain that this is what happened. And the parts I recovered were not manufactured or imaginary, but were very much connected to the events I had recalled before. There is no reason to doubt that I was hit, that Freddy Baughman was crying (which I also recalled after telling the story) and was tossed out in the hallway with me, and that I did make a visit to the nurse. The exact details of the event will no doubt never be known, and I’m sure different people who were present would have different recollections of what occurred. That’s the nature of memory.

    So I don’t think it’s anyone’s job to tell anyone else what is true or not true, and especially to tell anyone what to BELIEVE about their historical trauma. But I do think it is absolutely wrong to deny the possibility of recalling or fleshing out memories of abuse that a person comes up with themselves. In fact, telling them NOT to believe their recollection IS telling someone what to believe about their historical trauma, which we both agree is wrong. It is up to that person to determine for him/herself what is and is not true about their own past. And I agree, the relevant point is to process the emotion attached to such events, including any conclusions or decisions the person may consider they have made in regards to their interpretation of such events. But the client owns the recollection and their own sense of how certain that memory is in their reality.

  • Bummer!! Two years can feel like a VERY long time!

    Where I live (West Coast USA), there is an organization that does legal advocacy for teens in difficult legal situations. Have you looked for that kind of service near you? The “age of consent” is generally regarded to be around 14-16 in most states, so you may have a legal right to decide this for yourself. I would definitely recommend you talk to an attorney in your area and find out the laws in your state. Of course, a parent can always claim that you are “a danger to self or others,” but from what you’ve said, you’re not threatening to kill yourself or anyone else, and are obviously rational and articulate enough to care for your own basic needs, by a very long margin. Who knows? Maybe you can win this one!

  • You may be right on some level, Lawrence, but it seems to me that such motivations as you discuss are largely unconscious and are fed by general social agreement and expectations. It’s true that we have the free will to challenge or refuse to comply with these expectations, but that often comes with consequences that people aren’t willing to contemplate. I’ve found plenty who are seeing psychiatrists because they literally have no idea that there is any other option. While I’m all for empowering them to realize they have other options, blaming such people for lacking the levels of awareness and responsibility to recognize psychiatry’s shenanigans and manipulations is unproductive and in some cases could be seen as downright hurtful.

  • Interesting discussion – clients are certainly going to do better with such an approach than “treatment as usual” (and I use the term “treatment” very loosely).

    Unfortunately, the discussion doesn’t go deep enough to get to the core of what is really going on here. The two client examples are people who were TOLD that their “moods” and “anxiety” were, indeed, things that descended upon them for no reason, and they were TOLD this by the “mental health professionals” they were seeing. The fact that the client had “never been asked” these questions before tells us enough to know that the people dealing with him either were completely incompetent or were corrupt and didn’t care about the outcome. It’s time to move beyond the question of “what to do when people ask for ‘medication,'” and start informing them of the misinformation they have been fed, and the actual hope that they can go way beyond “not feeling bad” in their lives.

  • But you CAN prove that the “treatments” provided make things worse, which Harrow and Wunderlink and many others have successfully done without setting out to do so. The studies proving that antipsychotics cause brain shrinkage, done by someone who deeply believed in the “medical model,” were particularly useful in debunking the idea that “schizophrenia causes brain shrinkage.” There is no need to embrace psychiatric terminology or “diagnoses” to debunk the bullcrap “research” that is out there. Obviously, this by itself does little, as the APA and their profiteering supporters will simply discount such research as irrelevant or biased, but it does provide a base for making deeper strikes into the PR machine.

  • Hi, Sam,

    Are you suggesting that the current dilapidated and destructive state of psychiatry as a profession is not strongly linked to corruption within the field, due to huge financial incentives and the desire for professional credentials and power? I can’t agree that the current state of affairs is solely the result of confusion and fear on the part of professionals and others who want to make things more comfortable. This plays a role, but what I see is the APA and the drug companies SELLING an idea that somehow they have a magical solution in the form of a pill that will obviate the need for the kind of personal work and commitment that you and I both know is really necessary to do things like healing attachments and gaining insight into the impact of traumatic experiences and learning how to love oneself enough to stand up and take action in an increasingly hostile world.

    So I agree that the psychiatric model is a tool, but I don’t believe it’s designed to actually accomplish the things that you have spent much of your adult life working towards. I see the model being designed to make things more comfortable for those in control and to increase financial gain for big corporations and associated “professionals” who profit from having clients that never get better. If this were not the case, why is the APA so resistant to the evidence that these drugs are only useful, if they ever are, for short-term suppression of symptoms, and that long-term use creates the very problems that they purport to address? Why the powerful resistance within the ranks to the results of their own research, if not to protect their personal prerogatives and their funding?

  • Posting as moderator here:

    I am feeling that this back and forth regarding who is really saying what about how antipsychiatry should move forward is unproductive and is getting kind of personal. I am not inclined to go through and moderate/edit all the negative comments and tones that are emerging, but I really think we’re all in position to hear where both parties are coming from, and I don’t see much point in trading competing accusations. I am still going to go through and remove anything egregious, but if the two of you could please take this discussion back channel, I’d appreciate it. It’s really gone quite far off the topic of the article at hand.

  • I don’t buy that it is ignorance. I believe it is not so simple to revise one’s beliefs without understanding the emotional reasons for adopting one’s original belief system, especially when early life trauma or attachment issues are present.

  • You probably told us this already, but if so, I missed it. Are you under 18? If not, is your mom your guardian? There ought to be some way an articulate person such as yourself could be in a better position to make your own decisions!

  • Absolutely! Cognitive therapy methods are, in my view, only ethical if the client identifies what thoughts (if any) they find troublesome and what kind of changes they would want to make. If the therapist has an agenda, the process is going to go south quickly, though many therapists don’t seem to notice when this happens, and mistake compliance for engagement.

  • Well, you do make a good point here. We have to start somewhere, and building strong attachments always seemed to me to be the easiest place to make the biggest impact, because the kids aren’t messed up yet! But of course, the kids are raised by parents who have their own attachment issues, and have also been trained by our social system to believe certain things that aren’t necessarily very helpful to creating a connected community of human beings. So we have to somehow help the parents attach to the children despite their own fractured attachments. A monumental task. Alice Miller has a lot to say about this. I guess my wife and I decided to simply start with our own kids and build out from there. It wasn’t perfect, but they are certainly some of the least sexist, racist, whatever-ist boys I’ve ever met. Modeling is the most important part of learning, including learning that the world is a safe place to be who you are.

  • Stigma is a euphemism for prejudice and discrimination and bigotry. “Stigma” suggests that the poor “mentally ill” are unable/unwilling to “get help” because they’re afraid their families or friends will be ashamed of them, or that they’ll be ashamed of themselves. It is intended to be rooted in the unreasoning fear of the potential “patient.” Whereas prejudice and discrimination clearly lie in the treatment of the potential “patient” by the very system that purports to “help” them. It’s a very important distinction, I believe. These terms are chosen strategically.

  • I do agree that attachment is central, as I’ve said, however, there are plenty of outside influences, such as racism, sexism, etc., oppressive schools and churches, our mobile, disconnected society (lack of community), and other influences which can result in anxiety, depression, anger, distractedness, and anything else in the psychiatric hierarchy. I want to make sure that people who don’t perceive themselves as having been mistreated or having had poor parental attachment are not considered of less importance or have their suffering minimized.

  • I think you are missing the point here. It’s not that people are arguing against being happy, it’s the EXPECTATION that everyone is happy, all the time, regardless of circumstance. The corollary to this is that if one is unhappy, it’s one’s own fool fault for not “thinking the right thoughts.” While it is helpful to maximize one’s ability to choose his/her reaction to events, we do not control all of the events around us, not even vaguely.

    For instance, I was miserable in school. I was a very smart kid who was very shy. Elementary school in particular varied between weeks of massive, soul-crushing boredom and discrete oppressive events, the majority of which were perpetrated by the teachers. Now, one could say that I had a choice – I could have “made the most” of the situation, I could have left in protest, I could have learned to meditate so the boredom and anxiety I felt were reduced… sure, I had options, but realistically, I was in a very bad situation and had no way to really change it. I think depression is a very natural reaction to being trapped in a miserable situation. I think if I were cheerful about it, it would have been at the cost of utterly denying my humanity.

    Was I “disordered” because I was massively depressed and anxious and “maladjusted” to the school environment?

  • I agree, attachment is fundamental, and without it, a person has no sense of safety and can’t relate to others. Naturally, any kind of therapeutic intervention (the real kind, anyway!) depends on connecting to the counselor/therapist/helper/group, and absent the ability to attach, it’s almost impossible to process traumatic experiences of any kind. It is the most overlooked and most important element in a child developing what is so euphemistically called “mental illness.” So I don’t minimize the importance at all. I only wanted to be clear that there are other people who have good attachments but experience other kinds of abuse and trauma and oppression that lead to “mental illnesses” as defined in the DSM. Of course, the psychiatric profession doesn’t want to look at any of these valid and real sources of distress, because it upsets their political and financial power base.

  • That was my philosophy – you do what works for the client, and if it doesn’t work, you stop doing it. Pretty simple, really, but it is based on the idea that the therapist actually gets to know and care about the client, and is able to empathize with the client’s suffering and understand how s/he thinks about things. In other words, human connection guides a helper toward things that work. In fact, a person in excellent communication with another can actually invent “techniques” on the spot, specific to that person. Eric Erickson said, “Therapy has to be reinvented with each client.” I believe he was right.

  • I’d say that attachment is one important factor in development, but there are many others. We don’t want to go down the same path as the psychiatric profession by assigning all distress to one single cause and approaching it with one single approach. That being said, the current reality in the “mental health” field is for the most part to excuse parents’ behavior as “doing the best they can” while refusing to acknowledge the damage parents (and siblings, BTW) can do inadvertently, even with the best of intentions. So it’s good to have articles talking about attachment – it really does affect everyone, but it doesn’t explain everything.

  • Perhaps I worded that carelessly. Helping people find some ACTION they can take to improve their lives provides hope, whereas telling them their brains are broken and that there is nothing to be done about their “lifetime illness” drives people into despair, unless they are smart enough to understand that they’re being scammed. I don’t believe in broken brains, or if there is brain damage, it is observable and is dealt with by neurologists based on actual evidence.

  • In my experience, CBT is simply one of many potential techniques one can use depending on the person you’re working with and their needs and goals. To make it a “therapy school” has always seemed like a delusion and a deception to me. Why would someone restrict themselves to a particular technique and apply it to everyone? Different people have different needs. I’ve also seen/heard of CBT being used to blame the victim of abuse for not “thinking correct thoughts” instead of dealing with the traumatic experiences that led a person to the kind of beliefs they have.

    It seems like the movement was driven by ego and money-making. Starting from the assumption that someone’s thoughts are somehow “wrong,” and that these thoughts occur in a vacuum, having no relationship whatsoever to past or current experiences, is both idiotic and guaranteed to create bad effects. I’m glad someone is writing about this, but as usual, the facts will do little to nothing to disturb the professionals from their greed and egotism.

  • I also wonder if OrthoPsych contributes to increasing hope and a sense of agency in the recipient, beyond whatever concrete physiological health issues are being addressed. One of the worst things about the psychiatric model is that it tells people there is nothing they can do about their “broken brains.” It seems that OMP challenges that directly and says, “Yes, you can!”

  • This truly accomplishes a new level of idiocy. We now want a pill so that people don’t care if they are isolated and disconnected from their community? The need to communicate, organize, and work together is as fundamental to humans as the need to breathe and eat. It seems that the drug industry and psychiatry are bent on making sure that basic humanity is drugged out of existence.

  • I used to be a staff person for the Long Term Care Ombudsman program in Oregon. I was called once to a nursing home to see a guy whose daughter thought he was “overmedicated.” I could barely get him to open his eyes. He had bruises on his head because he’d walked into the doorframe instead of through the opening in the door. I interviewed the activities director and she told me that a week ago, he’d been hitting a volleyball back and forth with her in the courtyard! The difference: he was now on Risperdal.

    How anyone could call this an “improvement” is beyond my comprehension. It shouldn’t take an outsider coming in to point out that they’ve now disabled a perfectly capable person for nothing but the convenience of the staff.

  • “Moreover, the study suggests that although it may seem that further questioning about suicidal ideation would elicit more information to facilitate accuracy in assessment, it is also associated with a higher false positive rate. In other words, detailed questioning increases the likelihood of inaccurately assessing people as at-risk for suicide when that is not the case.”

    “Clinicians sometimes rely on suicidal ideation as a crucial test for short-term suicide risk, and it has been argued that asking about suicidal ideation could form part of a screening test for later suicide.”

    I think these paragraphs highlight the real problem with this kind of questioning. The clinician is “assessing” or “screening” or “testing” for “short-term suicide risk.” They aren’t having a real conversation with the client – there is nothing here about establishing rapport, about finding out what is going on in this person’s life, about exploring why the client would feel that ending his/her life was a good or necessary idea. It is no small wonder that their clients/patients aren’t willing to share the truth with them. Would you tell someone whom you knew was “assessing” you that you were considering suicide, when that their “assessment” could get you locked up if it went the wrong way?

    There is nothing wrong with asking someone if they’re thinking about suicide, IF you have a sufficiently trusting relationship and have the clear intent of listening and helping rather than “evaluating” the person you’re talking to from some elevated pseudo-“objective” viewpoint. The problem isn’t the question, it’s the intent of the person asking it that causes the difficulty.

  • I think perhaps you are confusing the effect on certain individuals with the character of the institutions involved. The fact that there may be some psych wards that get good reviews, or that some teachers run very democratic and engaging classrooms, or that some kids love school for whatever reason, does not change a thing about the underlying purpose and structure of the institutions involved. If the basic design of schools is to teach children compliance and snuff out creative thinking, and that is the general effect on the population as a whole, the fact that a small or even moderate number enjoy their time being brainwashed and trained to bark on command doesn’t alter that effect.

    A similar argument is commonly made about DSM diagnoses – “Some people like their diagnoses.” Well, sure, they do. But does that change for one second the fact that the diagnoses themselves are complete social constructs with no actual validity in the real world, or that they are used to undermine and blame those who experience psychological and social oppression by claiming their adverse reaction to their oppression is due to malfunctioning brains, rather than a malfunctioning social and economic system?

    When I worked as an advocate in nursing homes, a home was taken over and put into federal receivership because it was so awful in terms of patient care. Yet they received approval ratings in the mid to high 80% range. Most people are satisfied with the status quo, even if it isn’t something they ought to have to put up with. They simply aren’t aware that other options exist.

  • In addition, there are misunderstandings and personality misfits between parents and children which contribute to later “mental illness” diagnoses. Moreover, there is research showing that sibling relationships can do a lot of damage, especially in families where feelings are not processed and problem-solving is done in a mostly unconscious manner. No overt abuse or trauma need necessarily be present. For instance, I was assigned a role as a “scapegoat” in my family and was picked on by an older sibling. I became seriously ill and was no longer an acceptable target, and my youngest brother was born about the same time, so my next youngest brother got the job of “scapegoat.” I suddenly became aware, though I could not have verbalized it, that I wasn’t the scapegoat because of some flaw, it was an assigned JOB.

    Anyone looking at my family would have thought that all was well. There was very little in the way of overt trauma per se, but plenty of subtle undertones of hostility and unspoken emotion and unspoken rules and defined roles, all of which caused a great deal of emotional damage without any discreet “trauma” on which to hang one’s hat.

  • I would recommend it. DV professionals seem to be the ones who really understand and speak from a position of empowerment and understanding of oppression and the pain it causes. I don’t know Seattle at all (I live in Olympia, and before that Portland), but the DV programs there might be able to help you find a good person to help. At the least, you will experience that you are very far from the only one to experience such disrespect and foolishness in the Court system.

  • I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. The research in question is about children healing while still children, and the ability to have a safe dependency on a caring adult appears to be the most important aspect of their psychic healing, which apparently manifests in the brain as well. When we get to adulthood, we have to figure it out on our own if we are not fortunate enough to have had such a person, but similar considerations still come into play. What is quality therapy but a person listening to and caring about another person in a safe space? And why can’t non-professionals do the same for each other? Of course they can, and they do, as you (and I) have observed.

  • Ornish was absolutely on target when he started writing this stuff back in the 70s. Naturally, he was roundly attacked and ostracized by his peers at the time. Now everyone makes Ornish’s recommendations, but I never heard any apologies or crow-eating on the part of the big medical system. It is amazing how often truth is obscured in medicine when it conflicts with habit or profits.

  • As JRR Tolkien wisely said, “It takes but one enemy to make a war.” And we know who created THIS war. It’s not the fault of the downtrodden who rise up against the oppressors that the oppressors fight to maintain their power. They could simply acknowledge that these drugs have little positive effect and a lot of potential harms, and redo their “algorithms” accordingly. No war would be necessary if those in charge would simply admit the facts and work from them.

  • I often do the same. If we’re going to use a label, I use the ones that indicate damage from trauma. Though I talked to a psychiatrist once who said “PTSD” was not caused by the trauma, because not everyone who was traumatized got “PTSD.” What? So being hit by a car doesn’t cause broken bones, because not everyone’s bones break when they get hit by a car??? The problem is apparently “vulnerability,” because I guess everyone should be able to handle being traumatized without having flashbacks or nightmares. Very weird!

  • I am SO sorry to hear all this! I wish it were an isolated incident, but it is not. What amazes me is not that abusers engage in this behavior, but that the “professionals” seem so ready to fall for it. The fact that you’re teaching school all this time despite the abusive crap he’s been spewing at you should be enough to make it clear you’re a very sane person in an insane situation. Additionally, his focus on controlling how much time you spend with your child and ACCUSING you of wanting to spend more should be an obvious indication that he is abusive and controlling and doesn’t care a whit about the child.

    Are you connected with any kind of domestic abuse agency or services? They can be really helpful! And keep reading your Lundy Bancroft – he is the best guide to how to deal with these suckers.

  • That is an excellent point! The psychiatric worldview is in actuality a religious one, and it attempts to supplant other belief systems. Perhaps enforced “treatment” can be objected to on the grounds of freedom of religion?

  • I very much like your first statement – if anyone is “mentally ill,” we all must be, because there is really no way to distinguish “normal” from “abnormal” people.

  • I would rather suggest that the new/old way of thinking is not at all compatible with the DSM or any of its definitions. If things defined as “mental illness” are to be considered common reactions to difficult circumstances, we need to dispense with the idea that a particular emotional/behavioral reaction is in any way a “disorder” or “disease.” Moreover, the idea that lumping people together based on their particular reaction to their particular history and context and saying they all are “suffering from the same disorder” is, to me, inherently invalidative of the very context it seems you and I both want to see brought to the forefront. I hope that makes sense!

  • I have seen this many times in my work with foster kids and Juvenile Court. I got to the point where when I saw a crying, emotional, seemingly out of control mom and a super calm, confident, under-control dad, I thought, “OK, we know who the real problem is here, and it’s not her.” I also saw how things changed in the cases where the survivor was believed and things started turning against the abuser. All of a sudden, the calm, confident person became increasingly angry, agitated, and even bizarre as the control slipped away from him. But someone has to start by believing that the person who is upset has a reason for it, and the reason is usually sitting across the courtroom from her.

  • I have to agree. The very fact of being told that your brain is broken and there is nothing you can do about it would make anyone feel hopeless. Add to that the frequent invalidation of one’s own experience and internal knowledge about what is going on, and you don’t need a drug to make someone give up. Not even getting into the horrors of “involuntary treatment.”

  • https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meanwhile

    meanwhile adverb
    Definition of meanwhile (Entry 2 of 2)
    1 : during the intervening time
    meanwhile, however, new projects are being undertaken this year
    — Jonathan Eberhart
    2 : at the same time
    You can set the table, and meanwhile I’ll start cooking dinner.

    Seems like you were thinking of the first definition, while I was intending the second.

  • I don’t disagree with a word you said. Helping people “game” the system and helping them recognize the true sources of oppression in their lives is a huge effort that has its own challenges and rewards, and is very clearly distinguishable from “helping people accept their illness” and other such nonsense. Domestic abuse is a good analogy – we all want to stop domestic abuse from happening, and working at a societal level to alter perceptions and biases and privileges enjoyed by abusers is the ultimate game. But meanwhile, helping those ensnared in such a situation is most definitely needed and contributes to the larger goal, especially when part of the process is political engagement for the survivor.

  • For one thing, many “antidepressants” don’t affect serotonin and still are considered “antidepressants.” For another, studies back in the 80s showed that lots of “normal” people have lower serotonin levels. For a third point, no one knows what a “normal” level of serotonin is – serotonin levels vary widely from moment to moment. Have you read Anatomy of an Epidemic yet?

  • Gotta say, I see both viewpoints here. On the one hand, we don’t want to do anything to validate the dangerous nonsense that is the current system. On the other hand, I don’t want to simply abandon those in the clutches of the system when they are suffering. I think we need to do both – provide practical support to those in trouble while still insisting that the current system is utterly wrong from the ground up. How to do that is the tough question, but I think both/and is the essential way to go.

  • It is my understanding that his withdrawal of the trauma theory was made under great pressure from his colleagues and Victorian society in general. However, we can’t absolve Freud of his decision to create a confusing and dishonest counterexplanation that served to baffle and mislead the public and the profession for generations. His cowardice in the face of social pressures had enormous negative consequences for millions of people.

  • There are definitely points at which men experience bias, but on the balance, women are far more likely to get the short end of the stick, even today (though it is better than it used to be by a long way). For instance, there is this idea that women usually get custody in divorce proceedings. But this is mostly because men usually don’t contest. Many studies done in many US states in different jurisdictions have showed the same thing: men who contest win custody 60-70% of the time.

    There’s a lot more I could say about this, but suffice it to say that while things are better than they were in 1965, men still receive plenty of protection just because they’re men. The Kavanaugh hearing and DT’s comments on how “hard it is for young men” now that they have to worry about being called to task if they’re too aggressive toward an unwilling “partner” should be enough to remind us that there is a LOT of work still to be done.

  • Just my two cents here. I don’t hear anyone wanting to deny membership or participation to people like me or others who don’t fit the “survivor” description. And I’m not sure the most important issue is honesty or trust, either, though I don’t want to invalidate Kindred’s raising of this as a vital issue. It seems to me that the issue is one of social power. It is pretty easy for those in the one-up situation to believe they are being “fair and equitable” when they are actually exerting their unearned authority based on social biases. So making sure that the direction and priorities of an antipsychiatry movement are not only informed by, but directed by survivors seems a very important point to me. It’s not that others can’t help and be passionate and come up with new ideas. To me it’s that the ultimate test of any idea is whether those who have been through the ringer think it makes sense and would work. Survivors have to ultimately direct the effort, even if a lot of hard work is done by people from all walks of life who interact with the system in some way.

    That’s MHO, for what it’s worth.

  • Wow, that doesn’t even make any kind of sense! “However, given the increased risk of suicide in untreated depression and the absence of an increased risk of suicide associated with pharmacotherapy, currently available evidence does not support the avoidance of initiation and continuation of pharmacotherapy for depression in children and adolescents.” Didn’t he just say there WAS an increased risk of suicide with SSRIs???

  • Such a fantastic story of how your own “commonsense” understanding of the situation was repeatedly invalidated or ignored by the “professionals” in favor of their own worldviews and beliefs. It is wonderful that you had the courage and historical models to tell the doctors to shove off when you needed to do so. I also find it important to note that your political analysis of the society you grew up in factored into your ability to resist the inappropriate and abusive authorities. I think such political awakening is often critical to folks “recovering” from their ostensible “disorders.” In the end, our social system has abuse built right into it from the foundations, and recognizing that may be the most “therapeutic” act a person can engage in.

  • I appreciate the perspective of unearned privilege that you lay out in this piece. I had not really thought of it that way, but it makes total sense. “There are some good ones out there” doesn’t do a thing to address systemic oppression, and in fact impedes the effort. I love the idea of convincing local NAMIs who “get it” to go rogue and disavow the NAMI moniker and all the nasty history (right up to the present!) that goes with it. I’d love to see that happen, but even people with respectable levels of integrity have a hard time walking away from privilege, however unearned it may be.

    Thanks for another great article!

  • I agree with all of this, and could go on for days talking about it. My book is in part an effort to raise consciousness, especially in women, regarding how our culture tells us men and women should act, and how acts of abuse are normalized and even romanticized (fighting over a woman, pursuing someone who says “no” as a sign of how much he “loves you,” etc.) I think this is particularly true for those victimized early in life,o or who witnessed their parent being abused, who have little or no model of what a loving relationship looks like and who are therefore less able to distinguish grooming tactics from genuine affection. Our culture does them no favors by romanticizing “bad boys” and making excuses for abusive behavior by men, and putting women in the role of “peacemakers” or “fixers” if the relationship doesn’t seem to be working as it should.

    Domestic abuse is a very, very complex dynamic. It is perhaps natural for those who aren’t aware of this to ask, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” but too few are willing to look at the very real and very dark and difficult answers to that question when they make the perhaps understandable mistake of asking it.

  • Depression may “feel like a disease,” but that doesn’t make it a disease. I say this as a person who struggled with depression and anxiety for the first 30-40 years of my life, including times of feeling suicidal and seeing no point in life at all. I am GRATEFUL that no one ever “diagnosed” me with a “brain disease,” but instead people (including my therapist) encouraged me to believe that I could DO something about it, and helped me take small steps, one at a time, that led me to a place where I actually spent most of my day NOT feeling anxious or depressed, and where I knew what to DO if I felt that way to find my way quickly to a more effective approach to whatever was bothering me.

    Some approaches that helped: recognizing being over tired or having low blood sugar, learning to meditate, learning to emotionally process difficult experiences from my past in a safe place, spending time hiking and biking, finding meaningful work, listening to clients about their own experiences and seeing what they seemed to find helpful, challenging myself to confront injustice when I was scared of the outcome, raising some wonderful but at times incredibly difficult children, learning how to grow with my wonderful but at times incredibly difficult partner…

    ALL of these things and more have contributed to my learning how NOT to be depressed, and it took a couple of decades and a lot of support from a lot of people, some professionals but mostly just “regular people” who cared about me, or for whom I was responsible in some way or another. How could such a complex interaction of forces be considered a “disease?” Depression didn’t just HAPPEN to me – it was the result of many years of experiences and decisions and goals and accomplishments and failures and relationships. The body was certainly involved, and may perhaps have colored the way I reacted to things. But to reduce my feelings of depression to a random problem in my brain would be absurdly reductionistic and invalidative – it would take away the meaning of the work I’ve done and the things I’ve learned in the process.

    There may be a tiny percentage of depressed people who actually have something wrong with their bodies, and they certainly deserve medical help if it is available. But the vast majority of depressed people have a history of their own, very different than mine and yet in some ways very similar. Reducing their suffering and their emotional experiences to a malfunctioning brain is not only insulting, it is ultimately disempowering in that it denies that person’s ability to look at, sort out, and address whatever range of experiences lie underneath their emotions and behavior. If the indications of depression can be in any way viewed as “symptoms,” they can only be considered “symptoms” (aka clues) of the actual problems or challenges a person has to face. And those problems and challenges are intensely personal and unique to each person, and will never be able to be categorized as a “mental illness” in the physiological sense.

  • Again, we know from scientific research that meditation can change the actual structure of the brain – MENTAL activity can restructure the brain! So to suggest that fixing the brain can fix the mind seems to fly in the face of evidence that it is the mind (whatever that is) that affects the brain, or that at a minimum, it’s a two-way street.

  • Not sure how else I can put it. Mental/emotional suffering does exist. That is not in dispute. The dispute is the idea that “mental illness” can be defined in scientifically precise terms. “Mental illness” is an analogy, a metaphor, a squishy-soft social construct that has no scientific definition at all. Even the former head of NIMH agrees with this. But it is a common argument in favor of the concept of “mental illness” to say that, “saying mental illness isn’t real means that you’re saying that mental suffering isn’t real.” It’s a false equivalence.

  • Your statements are very consistent with my experience with hundreds of domestic abuse survivors. Accusing partners of being “mentally ill” is a very common and very effective tactic used by abusers in domestic relations hearings and in juvenile court child abuse cases. There has been a lot of improvement in terms of professionals’ understanding of domestic abuse, but this strategy still works in way too many cases. And intentionally pushing a partner to retaliate is also very, very common in domestic abuse situations. The threat of involuntary commitment and/or loss of children is a very powerful tool that a “diagnosis” puts into the hands of the abuser, yet a lot of mental heath professionals seem to have no awareness of this kind of manipulation.

  • Expert opinion is, in my view, not relevant to this discussion. We’re talking about science, or I thought we were. The concept of “neural connections” is very soft science at this point – there are not “connections” in the same sense that wires connect to each other. It is certain that neurology comes into play when talking about distressed states, but saying that provides no evidence regarding the causes of distressed states, which is the really relevant point here.

  • I’m not arguing against studying the brain, Shaun. I’m arguing against the idea that you can assume that the brain and the mind are identical, and that studying the brain will yield an understanding of the mind. And I reiterate: the results to date suggest strongly that we are barking up the wrong tree, and in fact probably in the wrong forest. Studying the brain gives information about the brain, which may be very useful information. But so far, the study of the brain seems to have created nothing but confusion about what the mind even is, while studies like Buddhism, which look at the mind as a separate entity, seem to have let to much more satisfying results.

  • The question is not whether distressed states exist. No one disputes that. The question is whether these states can be explained and understood by studying the organ of the brain. I suggest that they can not.

    Of course you can see no distinction, because it violates your basic beliefs. I do assert that the mind boils down to the decisions we make, but more importantly, WHY we decide to make the decisions we do. And I defy you to show where values and principles and priorities are stored in the brain. We don’t even have a clue how memories are stored. You can’t tell me where to find values.

    Perhaps a clearer way to put it is that the brain is kind of like the computer processor. It doesn’t work without a program, which you can NEVER understand just by studying the circuits. But more importantly, the computer requires an OPERATOR. To me, the mind is the operator of the brain. We may one day find the operator within the brain’s structures, but as of now, no one can say where the operator is or how it works. A true scientist would have to admit that this is the case.

  • Millions of people believe a lot of stuff that isn’t true. What is the scientific underpinning of any “mental illness” you can name? How is a person objectively determined to “have” vs. “not have” a particular “disorder?” And even if such “disorders” could be objectively identified (which they can’t), what evidence is there that all people with the same “disorder” have the same thing wrong with them or need the same kind of help?

    The DSM itself proves that neither of the above conditions can be met. It admits in the introduction that there is no line between having one disorder or another or no disorder at all. It also states that there is “no assumption that people with the same disorder are alike in all important ways.” In other words, they admit that these “diagnoses” are actually heterogeneous groups of people who may have little to nothing in common with each other. What on earth is the use of a “diagnosis” that labels people arbitrarily into groups where the people don’t even share common characteristics? It makes about as much sense as saying someone whose knee hurts has “knee pain disorder” which causes his knee to hurt.

    If you claim to believe in science, you ought to think carefully about how these “diagnoses” are arrived at. There is very little science involved, actually.

  • So in other words, yes, you do think the mind and the brain are the same.

    The fact that all information goes back to the brain to be processed proves nothing. The fact that science can’t distinguish between “mind” and “brain” simply means that science has no idea what “mind” is and is incapable of speaking intelligently on the topic.

    MIND, to me, is that part of us that has intentions, valued, priorities, goals, scruples, etc. It demonstrates such qualities as courage, anticipation, regret, integrity, faith, etc. As long as none of these qualities and qualities like them aren’t definable in terms of the brain, then science can not claim the brain is the same as the mind.

    For materialists (like you, I guess), there is no possibility of anything existing beyond the physical. This forces them into a position where they can have no clue what “mind” is, and yet be completely certain it must be part of the brain, “Because where else could it be?” But again, that’s a matter for philosophical discussion, not scientific.

    Science is supposed to be skeptical. This means that if something is not shown by data to be true, it is simply unknown. It can’t be assumed to be true, in fact, any such hypothesis would need to be thoroughly tested and all alternative possible explanations eliminated before we could conclude this is the case. Obviously, nothing remotely close to this has ever been accomplished, or as far as I know even attempted. The fact is, the mind is a MYSTERY to science. It can’t even be defined, let alone located in the brain. (Let me know when you find where “courage” or “integrity” are located in a brain.) Just because you or others are materialists doesn’t mean materialism is “right” or “true.”

  • For a very long time, producers of any product had the luxury of dumping their waste into the environment for free. It’s only recently that the levels of waste have gotten so high that people demand some action, yet it is still not accounted for when calculating the cost of production. There is still this sense that making corporations pay to clean up their own messes is somehow unfair or undermining of “competition.” But of course, anything that is dumped leads to a cost, and most of the time, the taxpayers end up paying that cost and the producer gets off with little or no responsibility for the effects of their production.

  • True enough! Or give them enough Risperdal that they’re unable to stand or walk, and suicide rates would be expected to drop. The only problem is “underdosing” such that the patient is still able to move and formulate any kind of plan of action.

  • There is one difference in psych research, though. They are researching “entities” that can’t be objectively defined or observed, which is perhaps the worst possible sin in science. When we start dealing with metaphorical entities, we’re dealing with philosophy, not science. Not that most doctors are concerned with science, either, mind you. It’s just harder to get away with pure BS when you have to at least demonstrate that your drug has a measurable effect theoretically considered positive by the recipient rather than the doctor and the family and the society at large.

  • Your points regarding brain development are well taken. However, you’re still not dealing with the question of what the mind is. We know that actions of the mind can not only “reprogram” the brain (to use an idiotically oversimplistic metaphor), they can actually cause the structure of the brain to change. It can alter the expression of DNA. So what is this “mind” that can fix up the brain itself? Is the mind more than the brain? And if so, should we not engage the mind in overcoming unfortunate developmental results of early neglect or abuse?

    I’d also add that we know that 90% of serotonin receptors are in the gut region, and that there are some who theorize that some level of “thinking” is moderated by the gut. People don’t say they have a “gut feeling” about something for no reason – they really do appear to judge things with their guts!

  • Of all the idiotic things they do in psych hospitals, waking up “patients” in the nighttime or early in the AM may well be the most idiotic of all. Anyone alive knows that sleep deprivation impacts the emotions and the brain’s operation in a destructive way. Especially someone suffering from any kind of hallucinations needs, above all, SLEEP! A “normal” person deprived of sleep for a long enough time will start hallucinating. Why the f%$k would you wake up someone who was hallucinating once they fell asleep? Unless you WANTED the person to keep hallucinating…

  • You seem to be operating on the reductionistic assumption that mental distress is “driven by” something wrong with the brain. I don’t agree. There is, at this point, no evidence to suggest that malfunctioning brains create any “mental illness.” Even if you choose not to believe in the possibility of non-material entities, the evidence to date strongly suggests that there is a process (or a SOMETHING) we call “mind” that transcends the mere interaction of cells, just as a computer program transcends the diodes and transistors and capacitors in the processing unit. It is clear from research on Buddhist monks, for instance, that directing the mind to do certain activities changes the actual STRUCTURE of the brain.

    It seems you go back and forth between the idea that caring for people and creating safe spaces is paramount to hoping that studying the brain will somehow provide some answer that transcends the human needs and priorities that occupy our attention as human beings.

    I don’t think you can have it both ways. The brain is certainly a participant in all human interaction, but so is the heart and the spleen and the liver. Participation is not the same as causation. In my view, the problem with the “medical model” is not the complexity of the brain, but the effort to seek a generalized solution for problems of the mind by trying to study and manipulate the body. We can see from the results to date that this approach is doomed to failure, and further study of the brain is highly unlikely to lead to anything but further confusion.

  • Sounds like a SUPER healthy environment! Especially for people who are anxious or paranoid – to actually spy on them and reinforce their sense of insecurity? Brilliant plan. But I guess “normal” people don’t mind being spied on…

  • From my understanding, it is not drug-based, but does use drugs in a minority of cases. Mostly, it’s about talking and listening as a group. I had a training on it and drugs were never even mentioned. I think they would use them only if their standard intervention wasn’t taking hold, and for a short period of time in most cases. Not saying that doesn’t raise concerns, but the data I have read suggests that 80% come out without any drugs at all, and that’s a pretty big improvement over 85% ON drugs in “standard treatment.”

  • I don’t disagree at all, and I believe chosen labels are more relevant for critique than those foisted on one by someone else. But I still hold that making complete assumptions or generalizations, even about psychiatrists, should not be allowed. Saying “all psychiatrists are NAZIs” neglects the fact that some psychiatrists, such as Peter Breggin or a handful of others, have been major critics and providers of helpful data to fight the status quo.

    A very good point, though, and I’m glad you raised it.

  • Posting as moderator:

    I appreciate you sharing your views on this. I want to make sure to clarify that there is no requirement that people avoid the use of “psychiatric language” and that people will never be moderated for that reason. The reason many posts on this thread were moderated was a specific violation of the guidelines against making assumptions regarding a group of people based on their psychiatric label or other chosen or assigned identity. The issue of “psychiatric language” is something that people in the community get to hash out among themselves.

    That said, I do agree with you that folks would do well to consider the potential impact on a poster, including authors, when they comment. It’s important to remember that many of us were at a different place when first exposed to the kind of views one hears here, and that we may be running off potential allies by being overly harsh in our assessments and our language, because most people can and do learn if they are able to hear and process the information. But that goes well beyond the purview of the moderator.

  • Commenting as moderator: Posts are moderated ONLY for violating the posting guidelines. I have explained clearly the reason why posts making generalizations about “personality disorders” or any other diagnosis will be removed, and provided a specific quotation from the guidelines that outlines this exact situation for purposes of clarity. You agreed to these guidelines before you started posting here, and you should not be surprised when violations of these guidelines lead to posts being moderated.

    It is not appropriate to raise these issues on the threads, and I have explained to you each time why the post removed has violated the guidelines. Any future comments about “censorship” will be immediately moderated. I have only allowed this to stand so I can explain to any readers who may be confused the actual cause of posts being removed, which has nothing to do with any political agenda and everything to do with the posting guidelines that everyone has agreed to by choosing to post here.

  • It sounds like you had VERY real reasons to be afraid! While you might have identified some “wrong targets,” your fear of your ex appears to be very well founded. Good job getting away from him, and well done to your husband for doing what the “mental health experts” were too blind to figure out. Just goes to show you don’t have to be a “counselor” to understand how to help someone in distress.

  • I agree that this is often the case. Unfortunately, due to the sketchy way these “diagnoses” are made, it’s unlikely that one cause can possibly be identified for any of these “disorders.” But we most definitely should be looking at prenatal pharmaceutical exposure. We know that street drug exposure does damage to the growing embryo/fetus – why would pharmaceuticals be any different?

  • Thanks for sharing that. You’ve outlined the basics of how these “PD” diagnoses are used to invalidate and dismiss clients who have abuse histories. A minimum qualification for any counselor in my world is someone who recognizes that the DSM labels are BS and who understands that most “mental illness” is a result of being treated shabbily when one is vulnerable.

  • You sound like you’re quoting from my own writings. What you’re describing is very real. I don’t think it’s always due to “low self esteem.” I think women in our culture are trained from early on to like “bad boys” and believe they can “save them.” Some men do this, too, but women are primed for it from the first time they read “Beauty and the Beast.”

  • Posting as moderator:

    To a large extent, I have failed to moderate this thread effectively. Comments which are generalizations regarding people with a particular psychiatric label are expressly identified as violations of the posting guidelines, to wit:

    “We are an oppression-free zone. Comments that are racist, sexist, transphobic or otherwise oppressive may be subject to removal. Statements that attack or assume things about a person based on a label they carry (i.e. “psychiatrist” or “schizophrenic”) are similarly not condoned.”

    I take full responsibility for failing to intervene effectively, and I intend to change that starting immediately.

    That being said, it is acceptable for people not to appreciate certain aspects of an author’s blog and to say so in the comments section, as long as the comments themselves are within the guidelines. I know this can be tough for authors, but it is a reality that has to be respected if we are to have any kind of meaningful conversation about these topics. It is a balance that has to be struck, and the guidelines are the best way I think we have to strike such a balance.

    I will add that anyone seeing a post violating the guidelines is again welcome and encouraged to report it. It helps the community when the members of the community participate in setting standards they would like to see respected.

  • Posting as moderator:

    I have been very soft on my moderation of this thread, and I think that has been a mistake. That time is over and I am returning to full moderation policies as always. Comments that generalize about “the personality disordered” or any other psychiatric label will be moderated from this point forward. Please restrict your comments to the specific people you have direct experience with. “The people in the ward I was in” or “the other residents” is acceptable language. Generalized statements about “Drug addicts” or “people with personality disorders” is a violation of the posting guidelines, specifically,

    “We are an oppression-free zone. Comments that are racist, sexist, transphobic or otherwise oppressive may be subject to removal. Statements that attack or assume things about a person based on a label they carry (i.e. “psychiatrist” or “schizophrenic”) are similarly not condoned.”

    All commenters are to follow these guidelines, and further comments in violation will be removed. If you see a violation, PLEASE do not react with further escalation – report the comment to me via the reporting button, or by e-mailing me at “[email protected]

  • I think the point you are missing here is that nobody disbelieves your story or that you were harmed by other “patients” in the “hospital.” The problem arises when you speak of “the personality disordered” as if they are a homogeneous group who can all be assumed to believe and behave in the same way. If you were talking about “people who are violent” or “people who are emotionally abusive,” you would have no objections from this quarter.

  • Of course, it makes no sense to have placed you there. My point is only that it is the STAFF who make these decisions, and the staff are the ones who are responsible for making sure that the residents are safe. They failed you, miserably, and you suffered extreme and unnecessary harm as a result.

  • Thanks for that reply. Almost all of what you say, I agree with. The main purpose of the DSM is to allow billing, and if it were used just for that, I would have a lot less problem with it. And I don’t really have a problem with a CONCEPT like “narcissistic” or “antisocial” – these can be used as descriptive language to characterize someone’s behavior for purposes of discussion. But when such subjective concepts are somehow codified into purported scientific entities or medical “diagnoses” that can be assigned to someone by a person in authority, we are very quickly into deep trouble.

  • I agree, any of the staff/psychs who toss about “personality disorder” toward clients ought to look in the mirror. A lot of them meet their own subjective “criteria” for Narcissistic PD. Though I prefer more colloquial descriptors myself. I won’t specify, but use your imagination.

  • In my mind, what happens is that a particular client is unable to get his/her needs met by the standard system of “care.” Because they have learned a certain set of coping skills for whatever reason (usually a totally abusive childhood and and almost complete lack of love or caring in their lives), they are unwilling to sit by and just accept that their needs go unmet, so they call more often or figure out ways to try and pressure the clinicians into meeting those needs. (I have to acknowledge here that very often, the needs are more than a clinician alone can meet, but the clinicans should know that and understand the paramaters of working with this person). The person then gets labeled as “uncooperative” or “high service user” or “frequent flyer” and is then treated with even less concern and is dismissed more easily due to the group’s agreement that they ‘need boundaries to be set.’ Such a person then seeks other caregivers, who are warned ahead of time not to trust this person or put in too much time on them, so the client is more and more frustrated, escalates to more extreme behavior, thereby “proving” that “they’re borderline” and are not deserving of the clinicians’ time. Word gets around, and soon this person is treated as a pariah almost everywhere they go. That’s what I’ve seen, anyway. I think such people are to a large extent created, first by having their childhood needs go so dramatically unmet, and then by the “caregivers” putting the blame back on them instead of helping them figure out what needs they are trying to meet by their behavior.

  • I think this is more to the point. The staff are responsible for protecting those in their “care” from harming each other. This responsibility is chronically ignored, and that’s the issue for me. And if we are talking about “mean people” (AKA people who engage in harmful behavior), that’s a big difference for me than focusing on what label these particular “mean people” may have been assigned.

  • I think I see what you’re saying here, but I don’t think anyone’s upset about a “diagnosis” being “insulted.” I think the point is that when one is LABELED with such a “disorder” (usually against one’s will), one experiences prejudice and discrimination, even if one believes the labels are crap. I don’t personally want to continue to further the concept that people “have personality disorders” which can then be used to categorize them behaviorally as “mean.”

    This is not to dispute that mean people exist and indeed suck it big time. I am only disputing that such people can be identified by seeing if they fit a list of “criteria” invented by a bunch of arrogant wealthy folks meeting in conference rooms in a hotel in San Francisco for a few days.

  • That’s just what I was talking about below! What business does your mom have telling you that “you have Borderline Personality Disorder?” Or any other such label? How is that helpful to anyone? And you can also see, apparently, how the label is used to distract from or disguise the abuse that happens to children, instead blaming the victim by labeling them “BPD.” The very act of labeling creates this opportunity. I sometimes wonder if that is the actual point of the DSM.

  • I would disagree slightly with your last comment – I believe most people here believe the DSM is invalid as a guide to “medical diagnosis” and is, from a scientific point of view, completely lacking in scientific validity. This does not mean that the DESCRPTIONS in the DSM don’t describe things that actually happen, or that a certain framing of a person’s experience might not be helpful to them, even if it is framed in terms that parallel or even totally reflect the DSM. In my mind, the objection is to claiming scientific or medical meaning to these “disorders,” when a simple review of the “criteria” for such “disorders” show them to be utterly subjective and lacking in any kind of cohesion. Moreover, the DSM itself states in its introduction (apparently not read or pointedly ignored by most psychiatrists or other “diagnosers”) that the DSM “disorders” don’t assume any kind of firm boundary between those who “have” or “don’t have” a “disorder,” and even more tellingly, don’t assume that people with the same “diagnosis” “are alike in all important ways.” The last quote is particularly telling, as it essentially admits that even people who completely fit the criteria to a tee may have completely different problems or issues and may have completely different needs which can’t be met by one approach or intervention type. Well, if the people who fit the criteria don’t have important things in common, what the heck is the meaning of the “diagnosis?” I mean, everyone with cancer has tumors, everyone with thrombosis has a stuck blood clot, everyone with diabetes has problems with his/her insulin system. But these “diagnoses” apparently don’t work like that. A person who is “depressed” may be grieving, escaping from a violent relationship, stuck in a dead-end job, suffering “empty nest syndrome,” reeling from the shock of having a new baby, or living with the long-term consequences of early childhood trauma, just to name a few. What is the point of labeling all of those people as “having major depression?” Why not just deal with their actual issues?

    I could go on, but I hope that helps clarify a little why I, at least, find these “diagnoses” utterly objectionable. It’s not that people don’t get depressed, and even seriously so. It’s that labeling them as “suffering from Depression” provides no extra help in understanding what is happening, and in fact, makes it easier for clinicians to ignore the causes and simply try and make the effects go away.

  • Wow, I don’t think I’m familiar with a hospital that has a “psychotic ward” and a “depressed ward!” Not that I’ve seen that many, but the ones around here seem to just put all of the “patients” into the same place. There was a differentiation between the ward for people with good insurance coverage, where actual therapy was practiced (or at least attempted) and people were allowed to come and go, and the locked ward, where most of the people were involuntary and where the only apparent “therapy” was trying out different drugs until the person seemed “stable” enough to be released into the community.

    The issue you raise here seems to be twofold, to me – one, that people are put together randomly and without any sense of self-control or even rational selection criteria, and that this sets up bad patient dynamics. And two, that the staff do a crappy job of providing any kind of protection from physical or emotional traumatization by other patients. I think both of these are very important issues and are pretty widespread. I’m not sure that selecting out the “less damaging” patients for one ward and putting the “mean ones” in another would solve anything, though, as the “mean ones” would then be hurting each other, even if you had been protected from them to some degree. Mean people are everywhere, and if the “hospital” is going to take on patients and put them together in a ward, I’d say they have a responsibility to create safety for all the patients, regardless of the “diagnoses” of the people on the ward of the label characterizing the ward itself. Does that make any sense?

  • I appreciate your comment very much. It is a particularly sensitive subject for a lot of folks who have been exposed to that particular label. I think I understand that you are talking about a particular behavior pattern or patterns that tend to get that diagnosis assigned. I also know that such terms are used colloquially, not by “mental health experts,” and that the concept of, for instance, someone engaging in “narcissistic” behavior, or being “a narcissist, can actually be quite helpful to some people who have been victimized and need a frame to understand it.

    I agree that people who do engage in that kind of damaging behavior can be incredibly difficult to be around, and that staff often do an incredibly poor job of protecting clients/detainees or whatever word we want to use to describe them from each other. I’ve dealt with many folks who have had similar experiences, and in some cases, the staff even joined in on bullying the scapegoat. Such behavior is awful, particularly if you are forced to be there and can not escape!!! I wish I had included that proviso more clearly in my comment, and again, I very much appreciate your willingness to recognize the charged nature of that particular label in this community. I apologize for any distress my comments may have created for you.

  • It is, indeed, daunting. However, one strategy followed by those in power is to create the impression that nothing can be done about it. If we all accept that, it makes their position into the truth.

    Fight back where you can! Even if you only accomplish making other clinicians aware that you feel the same way and that their perceptions are correct, that’s still something important.

  • The list of “symptoms” of “personality disorders” are simply a list of behaviors that most people find obnoxious or disturbing. It should not be surprising that people who are addicted to substances might more frequently engage in behavior that most people find obnoxious or disturbing. I will also note that many of the “symptoms” on your list don’t apply to all or even most “personality disorders. It looks like what you wrote mostly applies to the “symptoms” of “Antisocial” or “Narcissistic” PD diagnoses, which is a small subset of all “personality disordered” people, even if we accept that such categorizations are valid, which I do not.

    It would be much preferable to me and I think many others here if you would stop talking about ‘personality disorders’ and instead talk about “people who are self-centered and disrespectful to others.” PD “diagnoses” are extremely problematic for many reasons, and it can be very hurtful to some so diagnosed to be grouped together with “people who are self-centered and disrespectful to others” and dismissed without any effort to differentiate whether or not those people fit your pre-determined assumptions about what “having a Personality Disorder” means about them.

  • I don’t see any difference in definition. Both are defined by subjective judgments made against a person without their agreement, and both represent generalizations which don’t appear to have any consistent basis in reality. They are both decided on in committee by consensus or vote, and there is no way to objectively determine if anyone has either type of “disorder.” All the DSM diagnoses suffer from similar limitations.

  • I don’t believe that would work. Big Pharma has plenty of money to buy ads and sell their false ideas on TV without any help from the government. In fact, they could lie even more effectively with even less accountability – at least the FDA puts some limits on what they can claim is true. They have tremendous power through their billions of income, and smaller government won’t do anything to change that. Or am I missing something? Can you explain how having less government will lead to less control by big corporations over our lives?

    Less CORRUPTION would definitely help. Less restrictions on pharmaceutical company crimes? Not what I would recommend.

  • Yes, that was FASCINATING! Physiological changes in the brain’s STRUCTURE result from meditation. Similar observations have been made about taxi drivers – the part of the brain dealing with geography is bigger and more functional. Epigentics explains all of this – our activities alter how our genes are expressed. But that doesn’t fit with the DSM philosophy, so it is quietly dismissed or not talked about, even though it has everything to do with how to help people deal with whatever distress they are experiencing.

    Ah, well, psychiatry and science, nay truth, never had much to say to each other.

  • My point would be that at least in part, women are less resistant to authority because they have been “feminized.” So the war is not on men. It is on men AND women AND children, and has been going on for a long, long time against the women and children. It feels like women are being blamed for “emasculating” men when in fact it is for the most part OTHER MEN who are trying to create a more docile population so that they can continue to dominate. To suggest that there is a “war on men” denies the fact that there has been a “war on women” since at least the appearance of Cro Magnionoid culture tens of thousands of years ago.

  • I think sometimes rage is necessary to get out of the less empowering emotions, like fear, grief, and apathy. I personally had to go through a rage “phase” to stop being anxious all the time, and I’ve seen many who do the same.

    Rage has its uses, but it’s not a place I want to get stuck.

  • I do think there are a lot of clinicians who think the way you do. But it takes a lot of course, and willingness to accept harsh consequences, for people in the system to take a stand. Maybe you can create a subgroup of those who think differently and start supporting each other in speaking up?

  • Actually, I think the biggest confounding factor is the fact that no one can objectively decide who “has bipolar” and who does not. So whatever groupings you create, they are likely highly heterogeneous and not really comparable to each other.

    The best we get from these studies is “the drugs do something. Some people think it’s good. Other people don’t. They also do bad things. We don’t know who will get the bad things. So essentially, we’re guessing. Try it out and see if you like it or not.”

  • Now you’re talking about dissent, and I agree with that sentiment. Why do you try to make it into a gender/sex thing? Don’t you believe women are capable of effective dissent? Or perhaps you should also be critiquing the feminization of WOMEN, who are driven into a far more disempowered role in society than the men you are complaining of. Are you not complaining of men being forced into behavior that women are expected to accept and deal with every single day? And which gender, I may ask, is the one engaging in this ostensible “war on men?” Are not the Captains of Industry and the rich elite primarily comprised of white MEN?

    I think it’s time to broaden your analysis. The war is not on men. It is on anyone who is willing to stand up to the authorities, and women and children get hit far worse than what men are exposed to, often quite literally.

  • I don’t disagree. I was referring more to the idea of deciding that “mind=brain” in order to avoid the rather obvious fact that nobody really understand what “mind” actually is. Thinking that somehow studying the brain will lead to an understanding of how/why people act in a particular way, or even the idea that all people act in a similar way for similar reasons, is mythological.

  • Posting as moderator: This is not directed at a specific person, but it seems we are diverging from a discussion of the topic at hand. It is best not to make comments that characterize other people’s actions or beliefs. I’d like to see the commentary return to the subject of the blog. I’d add that if another commenter is feeling hurt or misunderstood, it is best to attempt to find out why rather than continuing to insist we were correct in our original comment. Or simply to apologize and clarify or move on. I hope everyone reading can apply this here – I don’t want to start removing posts, but this exchange is getting too personal and hurtful to allow it to continue in the same vein.

  • There is a lot more to science than the scientific method. The scientific method is a MEANS to accomplish the ends of science. Science is based on the assumption that there is an objective reality that can be studied and understood independent of the person observing it. It also assumes that humans are inaccurate observers of reality, and that special means must be employed to assure that we are objective despite the inherently subjective nature of our lives.

    Other scientific values are that the primary means of proof is negation of alternative hypotheses; that given several explanations to explain a phenomenon, the simplest is most likely the best one; and that a hypothesis is true only for as long as data doesn’t contradict it. There are a great number of smaller postulates that are in operation as well, such as the idea that a hypothesis is assumed false unless it is proven true, and that replication of an observation is required to substantiate its validity, among many others.

    Use of the scientific method doesn’t define science.

  • Commenting as moderator: Wow, thanks for doing that! I am not sure where these were residing, but I really appreciate you hunting them up. I have spammed all of the above. If they are still there for some reason, please let me know. I will look into finding out how/why these are not being blocked by the SPAM blockers.

  • “Social sciences” are only concerned with probabilities and statistics, and can never be precise and accurate in the sense that the hard sciences are. I’m not saying the “scientific method” can’t be applied, but it requires a great deal more humility and willingness to tolerate ambiguity, because the number of variables is overwhelming. Naturally, psychiatry chooses to ignore that fact and even the results of its own soft-scientific studies, in the interests of maintaining power and profits.

  • The idea that psychiatry is trying to implement or support socialism is lacking in any kind of empirical support. Psychiatry works closely with large, multinational pharmaceutical corporations to maximize profits. In classic socialism, such corporations aren’t even allowable. It is basic to socialism that corporate control of the means of production is the central problem to be resolved.

    As an aside, are you suggesting that only MEN are being controlled by this approach? Or that “masculine” behavior, whether undertaken by men or women, is the target? And if “masculine” behavior is the target, why is so much of the DSM focused on not engaging in any kind of emotional interaction?

  • There are plenty of psychiatrists and also some therapists who are told and believe that one should not talk to a client about the content of the voices they hear. They are told that engaging in such discussions strengthens the voices. Some are told that they are actually supposed to tell people that the voices are imaginary and that they have no meaning, being simply random outputs of a diseased brain.

    You may not have been trained that way, but I’d be willing to bet that lots of commenters here have heard similar messages. I’d be interested in seeing how others have been treated in this regard.

  • I think that is the key point – psychiatry’s pretentions to science are false and disingenuous. They know well themselves that the data doesn’t support their contentions, but they proceed anyway, because it’s not about science, it’s about convincing people to believe you no matter what kind of BS you spew out. AKA MARKETING!

  • I wouldn’t call Buddhism a science per se, but I think it can be approached in a scientific manner, and it appears that many Buddhists (and the Buddha himself) have done so. I think the variance in Buddhism is that it studies the human spirit, and the number of variables is huge. But I think it is a far more honest and humble study of it than psychology, and the conclusions it draws have much wider applicability.

  • I’m a total science nerd, and back in middle school or so, I was very much committed to the idea that materialism was the right viewpoint. Thankfully, I have matured a lot since then, but part of my transition away from that view has been following science itself and observing its limitations, as stated in my earlier post. I think the need to believe that science will answer all the questions there are comes from the same need that religions often fill: the need to believe that there is an explanation and the fear that if we don’t know the explanation, we will be vulnerable. For me, though, I get a lot more security from acknowledging that much is beyond our grasp, and may remain that way. Isaac Newton once remarked that everything he knew was like a handful of sand on an endless beach. One of the greatest scientific minds of history recognized that the mysterious is much, much larger than the sum total of everything we humans know, or believe we do.

  • It is an assumption that all mysteries will eventually yield to the methods of science. There is no scientific proof to back up this assumption. As soon as we’re operating on unverified assumptions, we’re in the area of philosophy, not science. It IS arrogant to presume that science will answer all questions and to thereby dismiss anyone who believes otherwise. Both operate on assumptions that are not provable or disprovable by science.

    Having a scientific attitude begins with admitting what is not known. Science is most effective at proving hypotheses false. What is true scientifically is always subject to change given new data. Even the most scientific field of all, physics, eventually leads to unexplainable conclusions, such as matter being able to move from one space to another without occupying the space in between, or being unable to actually make 100% accurate measurements (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle). It is extremely unscientific to assume science will answer all questions. Scientific proof of such a thing is required but will never be available.

  • I do think that humans enjoy engaging in productive behavior. I think the problem comes from who gets to define what is “productive.” Nobody enjoys slaving away for someone else’s benefits. Nobody likes someone else telling them that if they don’t do as indicated, they will starve to death. The concept of “work” has been co-opted by our exploitative culture into meaning “doing what someone else says you have to do.” This starts early in school, where “work” is defined as what the teachers make you do, while anything you personally enjoy is considered “play” and defined as non-productive or even wasteful. If we can overcome this kind of brainwashing, it can be true that “work” as in productive activity as defined by ourselves and those we care about is in fact extremely valuable. It is wage slavery that reduces the concept of “work” to something odious.

  • Posting as moderator:

    After long thought, I have left this comment up, but I find it problematic. MIA makes editorial decisions all the time about which blogs do and do not get posted, often based on the content, quality of writing, number of other blogs to be posted, and other factors. It appears you may have had some difficulty finding out why, but it seems the appropriate approach would be to communicate further with the editors, or with Robert Whitaker. The post seems to have criticizing MIA’s editorial policies as its main objective, and while there is no ban on criticizing MIA by any stretch of the imagination, it would seem to me to be more responsible to find out what the actual policy is before publicizing such a critique.

  • I think you’re missing my point. First, I’m not defaulting to the idea that SOs are automatically unhelpful. I don’t know how you get that from my comment, but I suggest you re-read it. What I said is that in SOME cases, SOs can be incredibly destructive. I would think that should be kind of an obvious point. It is not fair to assume that someone’s SO or parent or other relative is going to be helpful – it’s something the client has to be able to decide. I’ll happily acknowledge that this kind of decision is a lot more complex in a situation involving multiple identities.

    Second, it is certainly your right to decide what YOU think is helpful, based on your own observations. However, it is NOT your right to decide what your wife or anyone else thinks is helpful for them. Obviously, caring people try to do the best thing for the person they are trying to help, and sometimes we have to proceed on our best estimation of what is likely to be helpful. However, and this is critical, we MUST OBSERVE HONESTLY from the behavior and reactions of the person we are trying to help whether or not our plan is helpful FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE. This is where psychiatry fails utterly as a profession and an industry. They don’t do what they hope might help and observe if it is helpful. If they did this, they’d have recognized long ago that their labels and their drugs are making people worse on the average, both from direct personal observation and from looking at the research. They’d be talking about taking individualized approaches with each client, about the high correlations between adult “mental illness” and childhood abuse and neglect, about the long-term damage to the brain done by the drugs they so happily prescribe.

    It’s not about assuming all SOs are destructive or dangerous. It’s about not assuming the opposite. I’ve seen way too many situations where family members increased their power over their partners or children, with the assistance of the medical/social services system. Clients need first to be protected. SOs can be extremely helpful, but I would by no means make that assumption about any SO without looking carefully into the situation first.

  • “What started out as an effort to make sure everyone had a basic understanding of the three Rs…”

    I would contest that this was the original purpose of universal public schooling. Documents from the time (mid- to late-1800s) suggest that the main purpose was to create “good citizens,” which pretty much meant people who could read and write enough to participate in society but who were conditioned to behave and know their stations in life. There was big concern at the time regarding both freed slaves and immigrants from Italy, Ireland, Poland, China, etc. threatening the supremacy of the white male elite of the time. They wanted to train compliance to authority, and you can see the essential principle of compliance to authority running through all but very unusual schools. So like psychiatry, the idea that “the system is broken” doesn’t necessarily hold true if the purpose is not to help people, but instead to control them.

  • Responsibility requires knowledge. We can’t be responsible for what we don’t know. This is why false advertising and DTC advertising of drugs have to be a target for our efforts, as well as challenging media characterizations of violent or dangerous people as “mentally ill.” Misinformation is a huge part of how this whole juggernaut gets away with what it does.

  • I agree that both occur and are related to how the DSM views people who are suffering – it is both blameful and destructive of society’s “misfits”, however it may be that they don’t fit in. So whether poverty exposes you to the MH system, or the system makes you poor, it all pretty much adds up to “disposable people” as the central problem.

  • Ah, but pathologizing and drugging IS the core, Shaun! It’s like saying that the school system is controlling children and discouraging independent thinking because they are misguided. Sorry, but that’s the purpose of the school system, and many documents from the mid- late-1800s verify this. Good teachers or administrators can make it more tolerable, and there are schools that exemplify a totally different approach. But it doesn’t change the essential purpose of the system.

    The DSM III was created in order to improve psychiatry’s standing as a “medical specialty” and to increase their market share, which was being undermined by non-MD therapists. This is all clearly documented at the time of these decisions. The decision to make the DSM “atheoretical” was specifically done to make it possible to engage in creating “disorders” and coordination with the drug companies was started very early in the process. To suggest it was anything else than a power play is rewriting history.

    And as such, I continue to maintain that psychiatry is rotten to its core. I won’t even go into other “core” practices such as lobotomies, ECT, insulin coma therapy, etc., nor their participation in eugenics and total support for the NAZI war atrocities. I’m not saying that people can’t help people by listening and caring and asking the right questions and being real. I’m saying that psychiatry itself is based on false premises and corrupt practices, and there is no way to “reform” it other than starting over. Psychology or counseling/therapy may be salvageable in some form, but psychiatry is not. If you take away the DSM diagnoses and their drugs, what do they have left?

  • I think “antipsychiatry” folks are also pretty diverse as a group. It’s hard to make generalizations about such a group. I find it more productive to address particular concepts or ideas rather than critiquing the whole idea of “antipsychiatry.” The bottom line for me is that I don’t see psychiatry as it is practices doing anything but harm. Such “help” as they provide is, if it even works, temporary and dangerous. I’m not against the concept of “professional help,” but in the current system, it’s pretty dangerous to even engage with a “therapist” unless you’re already well educated on how the DSM is used and how to avoid it. You found your own pathway forward, but a lot of people can’t do that for a lot of reasons. So on the balance, I think we’re much better off without the psychiatric profession and its antiscientific “theories” and “treatments.” It’s not that people shouldn’t help each other. It’s that people shouldn’t be pretending that they understand and can “help” when they actually have no idea how.

  • I have to point out here that sometimes, SOs are very much the cause of great distress for the “identified patient.” Every situation is different, and the client is ultimately the one who has to decide if they are helpful or not helpful. The real problem is when the psychiatrist or mental health professional thinks they can decide for the client whether or not the parent/SO or other involved person is an ally or not.

  • I believe the honest study of human beings and how they develop, learn and grow is extremely valuable. The issue is, it needs to be done honestly. Piaget, Eric Erickson, Carl Rogers, William Glasser, and plenty of others have presented very valuable information that has helped us learn to be better parents and better human beings. I see this as very separate from the current “mental health system” and its pseudoscientific pretensions of being able to “diagnose” someone with a “disorder” based on a set of unusual or inconvenient behaviors. Psychiatry appears to be a total wasteland today, if it ever had anything at all of value to contribute, which history suggests is an extremely long shot. Psychology has been more of a mixed bag, but to the degree that psychologists subscribe to the DSM labels and attendant pseudoscientific concepts of “chemical imbalances” or “bad circuitry” as the causal agents in “mental illness,” it needs to go as well. I’d add further that the need for “therapy” seems to suggest some deep failings in our social system that need to be addressed, rather than have to “heal” people from the resultant damage. It is possible to view therapy as an enabling concept that again puts the cause of one’s suffering in oneself and not one’s relationship to the expectations and demands of the society one is part of.

    So for me, I’ve seen good ideas come from psychology and I’ve known some good therapists, and like to think I’ve provided some quality experiences to people who came to me for help. But I don’t think it matters much how good or kind or capable the individuals in the current system may be – the system itself is rotten to the core, and if that doesn’t change, no amount of honest study will help.

  • There is, of course, zero evidence that “depressed” people are more likely to be violent than non-depressed people. In fact, depression by its very nature suggests a restriction of action and a turning of hostility toward oneself rather than others. I’d guess that the rate of violence from non-“treated” depressed people would be lower than the general population.

  • I find it sad that people want to come that far and spend that much time going to a place of such artificiality as a “mental health center.” While it may be better than nothing, it is a sad commentary on the deterioration of our communities. Folks ought to be able to find people who care about them and can relate to them within easy walking distance of their homes, maybe even right on their blocks. The “need” for “mental health centers” is a result of the bizarrely dysfunctional social system we’re living with, and in many ways, such outlets “enable” the current system to continue to be as screwed up as it is, because those being harmed are siphoned off into enclaves rather than gathering with their neighbors to protest or revolt. I don’t want to take away the idea that some good work happens in “mental health” centers. But there were always people who treated their slaves well and men who didn’t abuse their partners and children and teachers who didn’t use the arbitrary authority they had to harm their charges. When the system is messed up, individuals being kind within the system doesn’t really create the kind of change to the system that is needed.

  • This is true for basically all the DSM diagnoses. All contain a social judgment about what is “good” and “bad” behavior, and try to explain “bad” behavior by arguments re: faulty wiring or brain chemistry. The DSM is a clever way of disguising social judgments and criticism as a neutral “medical diagnosis.” It’s quite insidious.

  • Understanding what is actually going on is what helps. Diagnoses may in some cases help understand what is going on, but in most cases, my observation is that they act to obscure what is going on, or trivialize it. Saying someone has “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” tells you that the person tends to not go along with what they’re asked to do. It tells you NOTHING about why or what one might do to improve the situation.

    In your wife’s case, it appears that the diagnosis helped create some understanding of what was going on so you’d know what to do. But you didn’t do what the “mental health” system would have told you to do, you figured it out yourself. So what was helpful wasn’t the diagnosis per se, but your ability to use that information to craft a good approach. The key elements of the improvement were you and her. The diagnosis would have been useless or perhaps even destructive if you’d followed the advice of the “professionals.”

  • This is very much reminiscent of my wife’s father’s experience. He really did have some dementia going on, but they put him on Risperdal and had him close to paralyzed. He was showing obvious signs of distress, trying to talk, rolling his eyes, moving his head side to side, but couldn’t make any coordinated movements of his body.

    Once my wife got her mom to take him off, within three days, he was sitting up, making eye contact, talking, joking, laughing, feeding himself. Yet in his nearly frozen state, not one of the staff people or the doctor showed any concern that this previously vigorous and energetic person suddenly was unable to move or talk. The doctor, in fact, was very angry that Ginny’s mom had exercised her right to informed consent and stopped the drug!

    One can only conclude that a) they don’t care, or b) the inert state achieved is considered the desirable outcome. It is amazing that 20 years of complete and utter treatment failure, in your dad’s case, led to absolutely no reassessment of the situation or any attempt to try something besides more drugs. It is sickening, yet all too common. I’m glad you were able to find your way out of the maze.

  • Flu vaccines are notoriously ineffective; I seem to remember one year when it was estimated to protect a paltry 10% of the population. I’ve had the flu a number of times in my life, last in 2009 or so. It’s a pain in the ass, but unless there is some reason you’re weakened, it’s most likely just a temporary discomfort. Most of the deaths are in the very old or the very young. It looks like this year’s version is 60% effective, meaning there is slightly less than a 50-50 chance you’re being immunized for zero benefit. Everyone has to make their own decisions, but the flu vaccine is definitely overhyped (sorry, bad pun!) in my view.

  • I think you’re absolutely right. It’s clear that the focus is on everything a person can’t control, so they can claim there’s nothing you can do about it but submit to their “treatments” and pray. At the same time, if it’s all biological, we don’t have to change any of our institutions that are causing distress, because after all, it’s all in the brain, eh?

    Not to mention the profit motive…

  • Have you considered finding a group of people who have had similar concerns – a support group? You have to be careful that you don’t get one of those sponsored by the drug companies or the MH system – a lot of those are spouting propaganda and will tell you to get “back on your meds.” But I think other people who have had similar experiences are the best source of good advice about how to move forward, including others who have come off “ADs” in the past. This website can be a good source, and other internet communities can help, too.

    Hope that helps a bit. There are a few good counselors around, or life coaches, so that might also be worth exploring, but you definitely have to shop around very carefully, because these days, it appears that most of the “professionals” involved in the system have bought into the label-and-drug philosophy.

  • It is always interesting to get specifics on what his “improved behavior” constitutes. It is usually what the child DOESN’T do (He doesn’t yell anymore, he hasn’t hit me, I don’t have to get him from school, etc.) There is no focus at all on the child’s quality of life. “He stares blankly out the window for minutes at a time.” “He is very isolated.” “He falls asleep in class.” “His hand vibrates and twitches unceasingly.” These observations are not noted. The focus is usually that the child is less annoying to the adults around him/her.

  • “Belief perseverance?” I think they mean arrogance and pride and need for power. Semmelweiz wasn’t chastised because they didn’t believe he was right. It was because he insulted the powerful men of society by suggesting they had “dirty hands.” The question of whether or not he was right was never even raised. “Belief perseverance” makes it sound like some benign and inherent human trait, but it is, in fact, quite a pernicious and often violent effort to protect the status quo power brokers from accountability for their actions.

  • I have also noticed that the criticism of the troop withdrawal never gets into talking about how they got there in the first place and how they contributed to the current mess and the mass migration and other consequences of our own stupidity.

    When has our intervention in another country to alter their government ever led to anything but disaster? And yet we never seem to learn or even talk about it.

  • That is a very good description of what happens. For most psychiatrists (or physicians or police officers or teachers or whatever), their behavior is governed by how they are trained and by what their peers believe, as well as what their supervisors will reward, tolerate, or punish. Real independent thinkers are rare in any profession, and tend to be seen as threatening. And with psychiatry’s complete lack of objective statistics and decision-making tools, they are particularly vulnerable to this group-think kind of “logic.” The issue isn’t whether the individuals in the system care or don’t care (well, that IS a big issue, but not the main one), it’s what the system expects and incentivizes that determines most people’s behavior. Which gets into power dynamics and oppression, which is probably too much for a response to your well-written comment.

  • Well, I don’t really disagree with you, Richard. However, I think change of power has to start somewhere, and I choose to start with making people aware that they do have some kind of power. The kind of revolution we’re talking about isn’t going to happen in the next few months. People have to wake up, and it starts by reassuming responsibility for the government we DO have. At least, that’s how I look at it. Abandoning electoral politics or the use of media to distribute information doesn’t lead toward resolving the situation. Sure, using FB does pay off the enemy, but it’s a great organizing tool. I don’t see any magical path forward, especially with the huge majority of people being convinced daily that their efforts to assert their power are doomed to failure. Help me with a better practical way to get that started beyond getting saner people elected, and I’m happy to listen.

  • Anyone telling you there is “irrefutable proof” that “schizophrenia is caused by structural abnormalities of the brain” is having you on. There is increasing agreement even among mainstream researchers that “schizophrenia,” like pretty much all of the DSM ‘diagnoses,’ is not actually an entity that can be scientifically defined. I believe Japanese researchers have scrapped the term altogether and are looking at multiple causes.

    We do all agree that drug company money creates corruption, but it is sometimes hard to see the full scope of that corruption. Have you read “Anatomy of an Epidemic?” It will be a great education for you if you have not. It explains how the entire DSM model is built on a desire for psychiatrists to give an impression of scientific competence to a field that has never demonstrated scientific support for its models. If you haven’t, READ IT. It is essential at this point in your education.

  • I think you hit the nail when you talked about profiting from harming people. We, the people, theoretically own the government, and if we get the right people making decisions without their own views being polluted by corruption, we can remove the incentives for hurting people. That IS possible, even if it seems very difficult, and to my mind, humans being what we are, changing incentives is the key to changing how people act. If you pay people to hurt other people, you’ll find people willing to do it.

  • I never have found these simulations very realistic. Of course, I’ve never had the experience, but some of them seem to be designed by other people who are totally speculating and have no such direct experience themselves. How real are these simulations? Do people who actually KNOW what it’s like participate in making them? How many are dedicated to the purpose of compassion and understanding and how many are designed to sell drugs?

  • Very weird framing here. Why go to “Increasing physical activity improves mental health?” Would it not be more correct to say, “Kids shouldn’t have to sit still all day” or “Kids need exercise?” We’re not “preventing mental health problems” or “improving mental health,” we’re actually meeting the needs of children in ways that have been known for millennia to be necessary.

  • I agree 100%. We start with removing direct force, but we have to also remove false advertising, manipulation, lying, and use of authority to intimidate or pressure one into submission. What we really need is a change in the basic mythology that underpins our understanding of people’s emotional needs, starting with ditching the idea that it’s all individual and all genetic, and expanding to include the fact that much of what passes for “mental illness” is a result of our decaying communities and ruthless economic system.

    But I’d be happy if we could start with removing force.

  • Almost all totalitarian societies (I know of no exceptions) are run by men, who, far from being emasculated, have masses of unearned and undeserved power. Women in such societies (on the average) are generally FAR more disempowered than men, though of course, there are many men who are also lower in the power structure and have limited power. These societies are generally organized in authoritarian structures where people are considered above or below other people and where those considered “above” in the system are allowed to abuse those “below” but have to accept the abuse of those “above” them in the system. So the problem isn’t the “emasculation of men,” it is the authoritarian structure of entitlement based on power, regardless of gender. That being said, when gender IS taken into consideration, it is clear that, at least on Planet Earth, women are in almost every case held below men in the hierarchy. I’d challenge you to come up with an example of a totalitarian society where women were in charge, outside of the world of science fiction. Blaming it on “emasculation” of men appears to me to be missing the point.

  • Do genes determine brain? To an extent, yes – they appear to determine development potential. But the Decade of the Brain research and more recent research into “epigenetics” has proven unequivocally that large structural and functional changes in the brain occur as a direct result of personal experience. So the idea that genes determine brain is not entirely true – genes PLUS experience determine brain.

    Does brain determine mind? This is a question that transcends the realm of science. No one really knows that the “mind” is, and the assumption that the mind is a direct result of the brain is based on the philosophical school called “materialism,” that assumes there can be nothing that is not observable and measurable in the physical world. Of course, quantum physicists have already shown that this school of thinking doesn’t explain everything, including such fascinating phenomena as a particle being able to move from one place to another without occupying the space in between, or the fact that you can’t measure anything to 100% accuracy, so in fact, all scientific measurements are approximations, which is not a big deal with big objects, but gets very significant when looking at tiny things like electrons. So the idea that “Brain determines mind” is not established scientifically, but is a conclusion drawn from a particular philosophical school. There are many schools of philosophy that draw different conclusions on that question.

    “Brain determines emotions” – True in a very physiological sense, though apparently gut and other organs can also influence emotions dramatically. But without knowing what MIND is, to say that “brain determines emotions” cuts out the possibility that mind affects brain which then determines emotions as a result. That’s the reality I observe.

    Brain drives survival and reproduction – for sure this is true, but again, without the question of what MIND is being answered, we can’t really say that all is driven only by the brain.

    I suppose I’d ask you the question: do you believe humans can exercise free will?

    Depending on your answer, I might present some other questions or arguments that have a bearing on this. Suffice it to say, it is not such a simple question as you seem to want it to be, in my view. The interaction between brain and mind is the biggest mystery of human beings, and anyone who tells you this mystery has been solved scientifically is blowing smoke. The main reason that decades of genetic research has turned up close to nothing regarding genetic underpinnings of mental/emotional/behavioral phenomena is that, in most cases, such underpinnings either don’t exist or are so incredibly complex and subtle that they provide no explanation whatsoever as to why a person is acting the way they are.

  • Obviously, it would be modified to the situation. The most important parts are “What you say may be used by the evaluator to hold you in the hospital against your will and force you to accept drugs which you may not wish to take” and “you have a right to an attorney, who may be present during your examination by the evaluator.” I think both statements would put both the evaluator and the potential victim in a much clearer relationship to each other. I used to do these evaluations (briefly – worst job I EVER had!) and no one ever said, “I’d rather not talk to you because it might result in my being held here against my will.” I really think most people in the situation don’t understand what is at stake until it’s too late.

  • People will think what they think. And if they invite reviews, I don’t think you can get in trouble for giving them feedback. I think the Court’s view would be, “Well, if you don’t want to hear feedback, don’t accept reviews.” I do think how you write it might have an impact on whether people take it seriously. I think the best reviews are mainly factual, with a brief introduction and conclusion to add a little emotional context. Simply, “Dr. X insisted I had Y disease and recommended treatment Z. When I asked what the side effects were, he said there were none. I looked it up and found a long list of adverse effect about which he failed to inform me. I quickly decided he could not be trusted.”

  • I think armchair diagnosis reminds them that there is no technical skill or know-how involved, and that, in fact, the entire process is simply a matter of judging others’ behavior that we find uncomfortable or inconvenient. They have to protect the image that only a “professional” can “diagnose” someone with a “mental disorder.” Though a 5-minute perusal of any “diagnosis” would quickly result in the conclusion that it’s about as complicated a process as making chocolate chip cookies from scratch. But the results aren’t nearly as tasty!

  • HIS “treatment” failed because YOU have the wrong “diagnosis?” Even for a “real” doctor with a meaningful diagnosis, this would be an idiotic statement! If he knew you “had Borderline Personality Disorder,” and that “ECT” didn’t work on “BPD” clients, why would he have offered you this “treatment?” Or was he saying he “discovered” that you “had BPD” simply BECAUSE the “ECT” didn’t “work?” Sounds like pure justification to me!

  • I would agree. It is incorrect to generalize that all counselors/therapists/treatment providers are dangerous or misguided. It’s not incorrect to assume that they are until proven otherwise, however. I’ve certainly known a significant number of professional people who actually care about those they are trying to help, and some who have helped me significantly, particularly my therapist in my 20s. However, such people are in the minority in my experience, so assuming that a person cares BECAUSE they are a MHP is, in fact, very dangerous. The other thing that’s VERY important is to remember that there are plenty of people who are NOT “MHPs” who care and are skilled in connecting and helping others. The key is not to seek out or avoid people with a particular title, it’s to understand that what is needed is not a professional so much as someone who cares and is willing to listen and be real and help you sort things out rather than acting to enforce his/her views in the name of “help.”

  • Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone take that position with me… I agree, it would be just as wrong to expect everyone to be unhappy as to expect them to be happy – people have a right to feel whatever they want to feel. It’s just that psychiatry has put such a focus on erasing any “negative” feelings, the message seems to be that everyone should be at least mildly pleased with the current state of affairs no matter what kind of indignities or stresses they might experience.

  • That is exactly why this seems important to me. On the path to getting rid of enforced “treatment” to go away, the first step is a public acknowledgement that enforced “treatment” is potentially extremely damaging, and that denying a person’s right to free movement and free association and informed consent to medical “treatment” of any sort is something one has the right to resist as an offense against one’s basic rights as a citizen.

    People’s opinions are amazingly weak and changeable in general. There are always hard core believers at either end of the spectrum, but many people’s opinions are formed and altered by what they hear in the media. (For instance, it was nearly impossible to find anyone who would admit to voting for GW Bush in 2008 after the Iraq mess and the economic collapse, even though obviously a lot of people voted for him not once, but twice.) So influencing public opinion is very, very important, and a legal fight to ensure the right to real legal protection against involuntary commitment would make very, very good press, IMHO.

  • It’s very similar to “supersensitivity psychosis.” If you block a pain receptor, the brain compensates by creating more receptors, and when you stop blocking, the extra receptors make one extra sensitive to pain. This is very well known in the world of substance abuse, yet somehow, the exact same or very similar drugs aren’t acknowledged to create the same effect, apparently because they are prescribed by doctors which magically prevents them from doing the same things as their street drug cousins. It is amazingly idiotic, and yet that’s what people continue to believe. And now the solution is to pull them off the drugs that the doctors have gotten them addicted to, without any plans on how to deal with the induced damage to their nervous systems? It is beyond comprehension.