Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Comments by Steve McCrea

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  • I would say that true science has helped accomplish a great deal in terms of technology and knowhow. You can’t program a cell phone or create an electrical grid or fly a plan without science. However, what PASSES for science these days is often corrupted, either by money or desire for status, or the need for society to have “answers” to questions that science can’t address. Psychiatry is NOT a science in any sense of the word. It masquerades as a science and pretends knowledge that it does not have.

    This doesn’t mean a true scientific approach can’t be taken toward human beings. It means that science has to be honest about what its findings are. For instance, 50 years of genetic research has failed to indicate any genetic basis for any “mental illness” identified. This ought to be considered proof that “mental illnesses” don’t have a genetic origin. But this result is not accepted. In fact, psychiatry fails from day one in being a science, in that its terms are not definable by any objective means. If you make up “diagnoses” without any reference to objective observation and measurement, any claim to being “scientific” are already out the window.

  • And so what? If they actually had something worthwhile to offer, it might be worth some risk of offending people or risking some false positives to get them some information. But they offer hopelessness and dependence on life-threatening, soul-flattening drugs that may or may not even work to “reduce the symptoms” of a “disorder” (and may in fact bring about the very “disorder” they’re supposed to address) that there is a 50-50 chance they won’t even develop??? Are these people serious????

  • Wow, is this only the 100th time or so that this finding has been made? Maybe we need to spend 20 more years testing to REALLY make sure that there isn’t the SLIGHTEST correlation…

    They are saying that psych research has a “replication problem.” Maybe that’s because they’re framing it wrong – they DO get replication again and again that their hypotheses and theories ARE WRONG. But since it doesn’t validate their preconceived prejudices, they consider it “failure to replicate” instead of the clear and repeated replication that their hypothesis holds no water.

  • As I read this, I think you’re both right. The DSM is, by design, not based on understanding of “mental health” (whatever they claim it to be), nor is it intended to heal anyone. It was originally a billing manual. But the use of the DSM is determined by people who don’t really want to help. So it is evil because it enables abusive “mental health treatments,” but it enables those because it is designed by people who are actually committed to making sure no one gets better.

  • It certainly does provide all the “cover” needed to do lots of disguised harm and have people believe you know what you’re doing. And the DSM III forward were designed specifically to allow psychiatrists to pretend they were doing “science.” There are no doubt many ways to screw our fellow humans over, but there can be no doubt that the DSM exists for the purpose of making the whole psychiatric worldview/deception viable.

  • There is every indication that the very fact of being “diagnosed” leads to stigma, particularly to the degree that such “diagnoses” are associated with biological explanations for the “diagnosed” person’s suffering. It is built into the psychiatric system – the system itself stigmatizes those it serves as a matter of course. The only way to avoid this kind of “stigma” is to develop a different system.

  • The “free market” is a scam. There is no “free market” today. Even Ayn Rand agreed that “free markets” require a way to avoid monopolization. Real “Free markets” exist only in a social context, where there are rules of competition that are either agreed upon or enforceable. They seem to work well in smaller communities where there are direct and immediate consequences for mistreating community members. But to think that today’s corporate grift and corruption even vaguely approximates a “free market” is a joke. Most of those objecting to “regulations” really just want the regulations that keep them from risk-free profits to be eliminated, and love the regulations that protect their market share. There is a sociopathic drive to “profit” regardless of the social effect, or even the legitimacy of the product, as psych drugs definitively prove. The Koch Brothers, supposedly super-advocates for the “free market,” advocated for increasing taxes on rooftop solar in Oklahoma the minute it started threatening their profits. This kind of thing happens all the time.

    I agree that complacency is a huge part of the problem. Unfortunately, a lot of complacency is disguised apathy by people who don’t see any way to “win” or even break even in the current economic structure. The “criminals on the planet” are running the show, whether through manipulating/corrupting government officials, controlling media messages, undercutting or buying out the competition, destroying small farms/businesses with the assistance of the government, and so forth. How much can even the most vigorous individual do against the evil of Novartis or Monsanto? To challenge this requires organized resistance, no matter how spiritually aware and capable the individuals are. Where does this organizational energy and MONEY come from?

  • Well, I don’t disagree. I think Sanders said “AT LEAST” they should be able to afford to live, and the fact is, people making minimum wage and even well above minimum wage do NOT have enough income to feed and shelter themselves and their families. Clearly, that is a VERY low bar, and yet we fail to achieve it. So yes, something is drastically wrong with a system that values real work so poorly and yet rewards screwing around in the casino of Wall Street producing NOTHING of value so well. Better pay and fewer hours for everyone should be goal #1 to help create a better society. People shouldn’t have to work three jobs to make ends meet when others make $10,000/hour or more. But try to tell that to those benefiting from the status quo.

  • I think you get my drift. People should be paid relative to their contributions. There is no “law” to determine this – it is a matter of personal and group ethics, a subject that sorely needs more study and commitment, obviously. So I agree, spiritual growth is at the center. We don’t need a society where some group enforces the rules on value of work, we need a society where those who are in management recognize and reward the contributions of those who contribute well, or better yet, a collective-type workplace where the group agrees on what people get paid for what work. But that takes emotional/spiritual work and courage, and that seems in short supply in our industrialized, corporatized society.

  • I think the point here is not that we should just give people money. It is that the stress of economic poverty is a huge causal factor in “mental illness” as “diagnosed” by the DSM. Creating a plan to deal with poverty will improve “mental heath” more than an army of therapists ever could. To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, anyone working a full time job should be able to make enough money to pay for food, shelter and the basic necessities of life. So, people should get more money as compensation for the valuable work they are already doing. If this were the case, “mental health” would improve dramatically, as well as the economy expanding due to more people having disposable income. No “communism” necessary!

    Or course, the “mental health” industry will object to any such efforts, as they will lose clients and income. But we can come up with re-education programs to train them to become more productive contributors to society. And those rich criminal types (not all rich people, but a large subset who are getting paid lots for doing little) who are skimming money off the top while producing little to nothing will, of course, object strenuously, but what do we expect from non-productive criminals?

  • In other news, death threats are noted to increase anxiety, and permanent incarceration in a dungeon without charge or hope of release has been linked to depressed mood. It is noted that not all respond to death threats with anxiety, and is postulated that this reaction is due to a chemical malfunction in the region of the amygdala which amplifies the fear response. Of course, those who don’t experience increased anxiety score high on tests of psychopathy, but hey, it seems like psychopaths are better equipped to deal with direct threats to their welfare, which is quite adaptive when confronting other psychopathic killers.

  • The only point I’d disagree with is your use of the terms “contamination and degradation” in regards to psychiatry. Psychiatry was already contaminated and degraded plenty long before neoliberalism arrived. I’m sure they were absolutely thrilled to meet each other, as psychiatry as an institution was already committed to the goal of making money and maintaining the status quo, whatever the cost to its patent base, and they have proven a perfect support for Neoliberalism’s most damaging premises, without having to modify themselves in any way.

  • If the car itself had a flaw which only occurred in one car in 100, but that one driver got killed, I’d care a lot about that, and the fact that you had no trouble with your car would not convince me that the car did not pose a danger to drivers. I hope that distinction is clear. The assertions here are not that someone had an accident with the car, but that there is an “intermittent” problem with the car itself that most people won’t see, but those who do see it can be seriously harmed. This is a very real problem seen frequently in psychiatry. Only one person in 20 becomes psychotic on stimulants at normal dosages, but those 1/20 can be severely impacted. Only perhaps one in 200 have a violent outburst due to being on SSRIs, but those small few include murderers. Should we not tell people that this is a risk, even if the risk is small? It is not reasonable to minimize or dismiss real risks just because they don’t happen that often. The stories being told tell me that such risks are very real and should be taken into account as a person considers this treatment, even if some people choose not to risk it as a result.

  • Posting as moderator:

    As I said before, I expect people to respect that others’ experiences are valid. That goes both ways. It sounds as if some are experiencing your comments as invalidating the experiences of those who have had different experiences than you. It sounds like you have felt the same way about others’ comments. That’s what I am concerned about.

  • Interesting. What are these perceived “barriers to implementation,” and from whom do they come? It seems to me that almost any patient would be foursquare behind being actually told the truth and being consulted before agreeing to a treatment plan. It seems to me that the only barriers to implementation have to come from the rigidity of authoritarian practitioners who want their patients to blindly follow their dictates and are afraid that telling the actual truth will lead to pesky difficulties like the patients actually discovering that these “professionals” don’t actually know what they’re talking about.

  • Posted for KindredSpirit:

    MissDolittle, of course, TMS *can* help people because that’s how the placebo effect works. What hasn’t been demonstrated is that the help you believe you got from your treatment should somehow have more weight than the stories of harm from those who were not helped by this treatment. There will always be people who feel that TMS or ECT or psych drugs helped them. There will always been people for whom these treatments were neither helpful nor harmful. But we also have to sit with and reconcile the pain from those who’ve been deeply harmed by these treatments.

    You seem to think “screw you, I’ve got mine” is a reasonable response to someone else sounding the alarm about the damage these treatments have and continue to cause to people who weren’t as lucky as you.

    You haven’t done anything to prove the efficacy of TMS, only your lack of compassion.

  • I am concerned when you say you don’t care what anyone else says. TMS may have worked for you AND harmed others. Does it not concern you that others may have been harmed? Does it invalidate your success that other people may not have experienced the same thing? It is OK that you found it very helpful and other people found it unhelpful?

  • Commenting as moderator:

    I am not speaking to a particular poster in saying this, but I think it needs to be said.

    I think this discussion will be a lot more productive if each person allows that others may have had different experiences, and not try to “explain” how other peoples’ experiences have happened. I think we need to respect that different people experience the world differently, and the fact that something “works” for one person does not mean the other person’s experiences are not due to the “something” that person one feels like works for them. Or vice-versa.

    It seems to me that the science on TMS is not very well determined, and the “science” on “mental health” is almost completely absent. So we’re going to get into different opinions and experiences, and that’s OK. Especially when dealing with something as amorphous as “depression,” there is no reason to believe or expect that any two people will have the same experience just because they’re both feeling “depressed.”

  • I fully acknowledge not knowing what these things mean, mostly because I don’t think they mean anything specific, but are simply descriptive syndromes that don’t really hang together in terms of cause.

    As for politeness, I find it perfectly viable to be both polite and firm. Of course, there are people who won’t respond to politeness, but that’s no reason to toss it out in every single case. There are plenty of people who will listen better if the person speaking doesn’t start off being presumptuous and offensive. I save that for those who don’t seem to be capable of hearing things presented more rationally. Which, admittedly, is a lot more common in this particular field of endeavor.

  • I have a hard time thinking there can be a unitary cause for psychosis, since we know that it can be caused by things as disparate as several days of no sleep and excessive stimulants and childhood sexual molestation and living in an urban environment. But I’m interested to hear – what does Jung say is the cause? I have read some of Jung’s work but this one has not come to my attention. And any explanation that gets away from brain-blaming seems very worth considering to me.

  • The point of putting quotation marks around “psychosis” is not to deny such experience exists, but to take away the implication that “psychosis” is a “thing” that can be viewed as a unity. It’s an experience that has many potential causes, which have been lumped together into one purported entity for purposes of making money and saving the trouble of having to seek out the actual causes.

    Tell you what – I won’t correct your language in the future, and you don’t correct mine. If you wonder why I’m using a particular convention, maybe you could ask instead of assuming and telling me my own reasons? It would seem a lot more polite to me.

  • If I had a repair manual for a lawnmower and tried to apply it to an airplane engine, you’d be pretty disturbed if I said, “If somebody has something better…” you’d think that I was pretty stupid or unethical. Either the model works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, you work on developing a new model. You don’t continue using the model that doesn’t work, and you especially don’t claim that the principles of this model apply to the situations where we know they do not apply.

  • I agree 100%. There are the intentionally evil, a small cadre in charge, and a lot of dupes or petty tyrants who go along with the program. None of it is designed to assist those receiving the “aid.” There are many things that can be done which are not conceived or are actively suppressed by the “mental health authorities” because they disturb the larger agenda of making money and keeping people from gathering together to protest.

  • Actually, I don’t think you get what I’m saying. I’m not suggesting that “lived experience” per se automatically gives one natural authority. It is based on one’s competence in accomplishing the tasks at hand. And you’re right, hierarchy does seem to be a natural outgrowth of human groups. I’m saying that the optimum situation is where the official “authorities” conform as best they can to natural authorities, and that such authorities that do exist in the hierarchy respect the fact that their position does not preclude someone else knowing more than they do about a subject, and that the ostensible “subordinates” don’t assume that the authorities automatically know what they’re doing.

  • I find the ability to temporarily step out of one’s own biases is helpful to making rational decisions. But I agree, engagement is inherently subjective, and trying to permanently remove subjectivity is a road to a dark place.

  • I would say that I DO respect professional expertise whenever it is demonstrated. The problem is, a doctorate is neither necessary nor sufficient proof of “professional expertise.” I’ve know PhDs and MDs who were so incompetent and/or malfeasant as to be extremely dangerous, and I’ve known volunteer crisis line counselors who were incredibly capable and successful in helping their charges consistently and effectively. I don’t really see a direct relationship between training and professional expertise, especially in the “helping professions,” and the pretense that such a relationship exists is part of why the current system fails so badly. I mean, why would someone trained as a medical doctor be expected to have ANY expertise in helping people with emotional/spiritual/behavioral problems they might identify? Let alone the expertise to “diagnose” such people according to the subjective and largely arbitrary rules of the DSM? It’s kind of like hiring a plumber to repair your car.

  • I meant in a large public forum like the WSJ. I know there are plenty of people (like me) who don’t think getting an advanced degree confers some special status on you that entitles you to a special name. But purposely writing an article in a national journal saying that someone shouldn’t be called “doctor” specifically because they’re the First Lady smacks of sexism to me.

  • As to whether it is “sexist” or not, I think the question to ask is, have you ever heard this kind of argument being used to tell a man not to call himself “Doctor?” And how would it fly if a high-ranking male cabinet member were called “kiddo?”

    It is, at best, intentionally demeaning. Of course, I don’t call my doctors “Doctor X” anyway, so she wouldn’t be getting that honorific from me, but I wouldn’t try to rub it in by writing an article or do a TV bit about it!

  • I guess it depends who is stating the dangers. It may be that detractors overstate the risks, but it is clear to me that the psychiatric profession understates them, to the point of violating their own ethics of “informed consent.”

    Again, I’m glad that it worked well for you. But I have talked to many people whose lives were destroyed or severely damaged by ECT. My point is that it makes logical sense that since seizures can and do cause brain damage, ECT would pose a risk of brain damage. It is the responsibility of psychiatry to evaluate this risk, or else acknowledge that the risk exists. This does not appear to be happening with the people I’ve talked to or read about.

    Notwithstanding that scientific reality, there is plenty of evidence that brain damage can and does occur as a regular effect of ECT. The existence of such evidence should in itself be sufficient to insist on a serious warning that this is a significant danger.

    From one internet search:


    http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Templer_1992__AAA__Permanent_brain_damage___Overview___Controversy___Worse_with_pre-existing_brain_damage_.pdf (this is a very pro-ECT article which identifies long-term memory loss and brain damage in a significant number of cases)


  • So it is possible that “Autism,” whatever that is, is simply a combination of high intelligence and certain personality characteristics? Yet there are plenty of “autistic” people who have lower IQ, correct? So are those people “Austistic”? Or are they something else?

    Perhaps we can just go with describing people’s behavior instead of having to slot them into “categories” that limit our ability to see the differences between them?

  • I appreciate your thoughtful reply.

    I truly have no problem with social sciences, as long as they learn to limit themselves to actual observations and understand the problems of variable control that are so prominent.

    Let’s take the “ADHD” diagnosis as a very simple example. We can look at a classroom and say, “Wow, there are some kids who do really well in this classroom, and others who do poorly.” That is an observation. We can say, “A certain subset of those who do poorly seem to have characteristics in common – they have difficulty sitting still, they seek out constant stimulation, they seem impatient with the process, interrupting the teacher and so on, and they don’t like to do exactly as they are told.” These are still legitimate observations.

    We stop doing science when we say, “Those kids who don’t do well in the classroom have something wrong with them.” We are now in the realm of judgment and behavioral control. I suppose we could continue with the assumption that behavioral control is our goal, and then scientifically study better ways to control behavior. But that decision, that behavioral control is the goal, is in no way scientific, even in the very loose social sciences sense.

    If we REALLY want to be scientific, we’d have to break down the classrooms into groups. We’d have to do backgrounds on the groups to see if the ones who hate it have anything in common, and if the ones who tolerate it have anything in common. We may find that the majority of the tolerant group ALSO hate being there, but simply have more skills to cope with feeling oppressed. But maybe that means THEY are the ones with the problem! “Over-accommodation Disorder” could be attached to them, and we could give them drugs or do behavioral training to make them LESS compliant and tolerant of oppressive environments!

    Of course, the question of whether the environment is “oppressive” or not is social and political and not at all scientific, either.

    And we could go on, but I think you get the idea. As soon as VALUE JUDGMENTS get involved, we are leaving the path of science. We can observe behavior and even draw conclusions based on these observations, but what we decide these conclusions mean about how we as humans should act is very much outside the realm of science, and always will be.

    It is also valuable to recall that science is a subcategory of philosophy. So something can be philosophical within the boundaries of science, but if it is a “mix” of science and higher level philosophy, then it’s really no longer science, strictly speaking.

  • I think we’ve both made our points. I’m guessing we’d actually agree closely on what should be done to help people with perceptual or behavioral differences, and I certainly have never claimed in anything I said that biology does NOT impact behavior or perception – I actually said the opposite several times, as I recall.

    The only point I am making is that claiming neurological SAMENESS of people who don’t happen to stand out as “different” does not make scientific sense. We have close to zero idea why people act the way they do. All we know is that certain patterns to emerge, and that expecting people to simply change their perceptual or behavioral style because it’s inconvenient for others is rather oppressive. I am encouraging us to focus less on whose brain is more “different,” and more on how we can help people whose behavioral/perceptual/personality styles don’t fit our largely arbitrary social expectations can find their place in our social system. If someone has to have a “diagnosis” or a “spectrum” identity to be considered worthy of special consideration in this regard, we are leaving millions and millions of kids behind just because they happen to be better at adapting to irrational and oppressive conditions than others.

  • I say “seizure” because that is exactly what ECT does. This question is not in the slightest dispute, even amongst the most fervent supporters. The very idea, as I recall, came because they found that people hospitalized for psychotic episodes were less psychotic after having a seizure. They used to induce seizures by drugs like Metroconazole (I think). The whole point of ECT is to induce a seizure.

    I am not “angry” at ECT – I am angry at psychiatry for pretending they don’t know what the limitations and dangers of ECT really are. I’m glad you found it helpful. But I can’t allow the claim that no one has proven that ECT does damage to the brain stand. It is a basic tenet of science that the person making a claim is responsible for proving the claim – the “null hypothesis” (that there IS no effect) is assumed true until proven otherwise. If you’re trying to prove something has a positive effect, the assumption is that it does not, until proven otherwise. If you’re trying to prove that something which reason would suggest is unsafe is safe, the assumption is that it is NOT safe until proven otherwise by the data. Otherwise, I can claim that “cars are run by angels” or that “sleeping in the rain without a coat at 35 degrees F is safe” and you’d have to prove that cars are NOT run by angels, or that sleeping outdoors in a 35 degree rainstorm without a coat is unhealthy. In the case of ECT, reason would suggest that a grand mal seizure is dangerous, so it’s the promotor of ECT who has to prove it is not.

    The smoking industry and drug manufacturers in general apply the reverse approach – they say, “No one can prove that cigarettes cause cancer. We don’t have to say it can until someone proves it does.” As you can see, this is not “science,” it’s a form of marketing, and the same kind of BS marketing has been done in favor of ECT.

    The following article may illustrate my points:


    As you can see, ECT induces seizures, and there IS evidence of brain damage. But again, it is not the job of critics to prove it ISN’T safe, it is psychiatry’s job to prove that, despite the logical conclusion that seizures can and do induce brain damage, the process of ECT somehow is exempt from this general expectation.

    As you can see below, no one in the medical field outside of psychiatry pretends that seizures are not potentially dangerous to the brain. Why ECT should magically be different is theirs to prove, and they have not even attempted to do so. They just say it isn’t and dare others to prove them wrong, just as the cigarette manufacturers did for decades.


  • I agree 100%. But for some reason, this kind of argument flies over most people’s heads. Whereas pointing out that there is no evidence of long-term benefits almost always has some “bite.” Some people get upset about it and try to tell me I’m wrong, others are shocked, but a small few are induced to explore the question further. I’m afraid the idea that “ADHD” exists is too firmly planted in the minds of at least US society that pointing out its spurious nature seems to induce too much “cognitive dissonance” for most people to handle!

  • And as I said, we are now getting into philosophy, not science. While stating that “all things have a cause” is pretty solid scientifically, the assumption that cause is always biological is a philosophical one, that is often presented as “scientific” (in fact, people are often accused of being “unscientific” when proposing other philosophical positions), but actually in no way proven by any scientific means, and in all likelihood unprovable by such means. We get into a discussion now of what is the MIND vs. what is the BRAIN. The position you present is a “materialist” position, that all causes must be material in nature, and therefore changes in the mind must be caused by something in the physical universe. Yet there are traditions of thousands of years duration that place the mind as transcending the body but being in charge of running it, and would see the brain as more of a “switchboard” used by the mind/spirit to run the body. Less esoteric ideas include the idea of “emergent properties,” in other words, the physiology of the body creates an effect that then is able to act on the physiology itself. It seems pretty clear to me that humans can do a lot to control their bodies, including their brains. Biofeedback and meditation are two examples. There is also the science of epigenetics to consider, which falls within the purview of materialism, but allows that environmental changes are able to change the way the body works and what genes are expressed or muted or turned off.

    So the idea that the brain is the causal factor of all phenomena of the mind is not something I would automatically accept. I have no interest in denying either the very real experience of being a “different” person in a world that ACTS as if there is some “normal” we should aspire to (I am such a person myself, as you might surmise.) I also don’t deny that biology may play a significant role in such differences. I see the problem more in society’s unwillingness to recognize or accommodate to the factual existence of such differences, whether they are obvious or subtle or disguised by the person pretending to be “normal.” I doubt you’d disagree with my last statement, given what you seem to be doing.

    So you ask some excellent questions. They are just more philosophical questions than scientific.

    As a closing example, let’s suppose for the sake of argument (and I suspect that there is some truth to this) that a certain percentage of the population is biologically predisposed to hate sitting still and is very intolerant of boredom and is constantly seeking stimulation. We put children with these characteristics into a standard classroom, and they act out and get into trouble and are extremely unsuccessful. Is the problem that the child is “too active” and “unable to focus” (even though they seem to focus just fine on things involving big movements and interesting experiences)? Or is the problem that the classroom is too dull and rigid and unable to accommodate the needs of these children?

    Not a scientific question. It’s a philosophical one, and a very good one, especially when one makes the scientific observation that children of this personality type do quite well in an open classroom setting where they can set more of their own agenda. We can study these kids in different environments and observe what happens scientifically. But deciding what it means transcends science.

    Again, I do really appreciate the work that you’re doing. I’m sure it would have been a big relief to me as a kid to know I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t so “weird” as I thought. I fully support those efforts. I just don’t want to concede that there is some “normal” neurological configuration that “normal” people have and that we need to only accommodate for those who diverge far enough from this purported “norm” to stand out. There are plenty of “normal” kids in any classroom who are in intense pain and hate every minute of their experience, yet are able to act “normal” as a performing seal might in order to keep their masters happy and less dangerous. I was one of those kids. I could pretend to “fit in” and do what was expected of me, but I was miserable for 12 1/2 years of school. Was I really neurologically “normal” because I could accommodate? Was I neurologically “abnormal” because it was painful to accommodate? Or were the adults simply unreasonable to expect children to comply with such an oppressive system?

    I vote for #3! But science can’t answer that question for us.

  • The question isn’t whether “being autistic” is the cause, it’s whether brain alterations are the cause of “being autistic.” It sounds like there is some evidence in a number of spheres that differences in brain operations, aka how the brain is USED by the person running it, between different groups. But we walk down a VERY slippery slope when we assume without scientific evidence that these differences are necessarily structural or causative.

    The following link shows how imagination can cause changes in brain imaging that mirror real experiences. This demonstrates the power of the individual to alter his/her own brain operation, which to me tells us that there is no way to causatively link brain images to structure – they are simply different measurements that in most cases have little to nothing to do with each other.


    I don’t mean to try and refute that there are people who experience the world differently from the “average” person. I just don’t see at this point any means to objectively distinguish between them. I much prefer to look at it as a human problem – how do we as a society deal with the inevitable differences in needs and skills and preferences that will exist in even the most homogeneous group or community.

  • At the risk of repeating myself, it is not the responsibility of critics to present evidence that inducing a grand mal seizure through electrocution damages one’s brain. It is the responsibility of those claiming therapeutic effects to prove that inducing a grand mal seizure through electrocution does NOT damage one’s brain. We all know that seizures are dangerous and can produce brain damage, which is why people with seizure disorders are immediately put on anti-seizure drugs. Why would we imagine that an intentionally-induced seizure would somehow NOT create brain damage?

  • I get that. But your definition is philosophical, not scientific. There is no objective way to distinguish your two groups. It is a judgment call, which I think is why the term “spectrum” was introduced. I have no objection to philosophical definitions per se, I just object to them posing as scientific ones. You have proposed no specific neurological “structural differences” nor presented any evidence of such. The burden of proof falls to those claiming there is some way to distinguish these groups neurologically, and I have seen nothing that meets even a very loose standard of proof. What I hear is that certain people tend to behave in certain ways, and that some people believe these differences are neurological in nature, but no one can show what the difference is. The definition is entirely based on subjective assessments how people act, feel and think (as all psychiatric “diagnoses”) and so falls into the category of philosophy. I see no scientifically valid entity of “autism” that can be distinguished beyond someone’s opinion or assumptions.

  • Thanks for that.

    As I suspected, these results are based on functional brain scans, rather than structural differences. Additionally, these patterns are based on averages among participants, rather than specific, consistent differences between the groups being measured. So there very well may be many individuals in the study group who do NOT have the characteristic pattern, and many individuals who DO have the characteristic pattern, who are in the control group. The differences do not distinguish between the groups.

    An illustrative quote:

    “No research has uncovered a ‘characteristic’ brain structure for autism, meaning that no single pattern of changes appears in every autistic person. Studies of brain structure often turn up dissimilar results — there is great variety across individuals in general. But some trends have begun to emerge for subsets of autistic people. These differences might one day provide some insight into how some autistic people’s brains function. They may also point to bespoke treatments for particular subtypes of autism.”

    So SOME people diagnosed with autism have certain characteristics in common in terms of FUNCTION. They state clearly that these findings can’t be considered causal, as they might be the result of rather than the cause of “autistic” behavior, and as they are not close to consistent for anything close to all people so labeled.

    The studies are suggestive that there may be some correlates among people labeled as “autistic,” but does not establish that these are either genetic or neurological in origin. Of course, we might expect that from a group of people who are “diagnosed” based on subjective behavioral checklists and clinical judgment. In short, I would conclude from these studies, and what else I know, that “autism” is a loose connection of people who have certain behavioral/emotional/intellectual characteristics in common, but that this group is extremely heterogeneous and that the causes of these shared behaviors have not been determined, nor has it been determined that such behaviors even HAVE a shared cause.

    This is the problem with “diagnosis by checklist.” I don’t mean in any way to suggest or imply that people who fit this description don’t have anything in common, nor that such people gathering together isn’t a great idea (it IS a great idea!), nor that there couldn’t be some biological similarities between a big part of such a group. I’m saying that there is no direct evidence that people so grouped have a neurological problem, have a shared neurological problem, or even have a biological problem at all.

    As to “neurodiversity,” my opinion is that the idea that there is some kind of “normal” neurological configuration that can be used as a basis for “neurodiversity” to be determined. I am of the opinion that we’d be far better to consider EVERYONE “neurodiverse” and needing individual, creative interventions that respect our individual rights and needs. Which it sounds like you are making every effort to provide, so WELL DONE!

  • As Whitaker outlines, there are actual physiological changes forced on the brain by these drugs, and depending how long a person’s been on them, it can take a very long time to get back to “normal.” It is exactly the same process as happens with street drugs, yet of course, the psychiatric guild continues to deny that such things even happen, despite the science.

  • I do think it important to remember that something can be intentional without being fully conscious. A lot of times, the staff’s motivations go to maintaining order and avoiding emotional discomfort on their own parts. They are mostly completely unaware of these motivations, yet make decisions with these motivations in the back of their minds. The DSM contributes greatly to making this easier, because rather than admitting they feel uncomfortable because they don’t know what to do or because their own issues have been brought to the surface, they can blame the patient by saying, “Her borderline symptoms are escalating” or “He’s decompensating, we need a PRN injection stat!”

    So the staff may not be aware they are intentionally oppressing their patients, and yet be intentionally oppressing their patients nonetheless, with the full support of the oppressive system.

  • What kind of evidence are you aware of for consistent and objective “neurological differences” in autistic-diagnosed people? I have not seen any such evidence, and have been working with this stuff since the mid-90s. I’m always happy to be educated, but if there is any such evidence, I am not currently aware of it.

  • It depends on what you mean by “works.” If you mean, “Can I manipulate my mental and physiological states by experimenting with mind-altering drugs,” then yes, they “work.” If you are asking can such drugs improve ones’ biological well being, balance brain chemicals that are theoretically “out of balance” (with no evidence, of course), or “heal” some sort of purported “Mental illness,” the answer is a resounding NO.

    As Peter Breggin pointed out almost 20 years back, these drugs don’t fix anything. Every one of them acts by disrupting normal functioning of the brain (and other parts of the body). If someone likes the way this disruption makes him/her feel or think, that’s up to the user. But it’s past time to stop pretending that these drugs “work” in any sense of healing the body, or helping the body heal. They absolutely do not.

  • Certainly. But a very important question that is generally avoided is this: genetics contributes to behavioral decisions. SO WHAT? Genetics is not something that can be modified, except through epigenetics, which is directed by, guess what, EXPERIENCE. So why do we spend millions and millions studying genetic vulnerability when we can’t do anything about it? Wouldn’t it be more productive to direct the bulk of those dollars toward finding what kind of environment helps people succeed emotionally and mentally and toward creating such environments?

    As an example, it’s likely that a certain percentage (but very far from all) of “ADHD” cases are no doubt strongly influenced by a genetic tendency to be more active than other kids. These kids don’t succeed in a regular classroom very easily. So is the answer to try and alter their brain chemistry (seeing as the genes are not changeable)? Or is the answer to create environments that allow such kids to be active and to learn in the way they learn best?

    Finally, before we ascribe specific behavioral tendencies to genetics, ought we not to have evidence of what genes affect what behavior? Yet decades of research provide almost no information about this. Why do we imagine that’s going to change somehow?

  • First off, I don’t see doctors being particularly reluctant to prescribe benzos. Xanax is the second most commonly prescribed psychiatric drug, and Ativan comes in at #7, in 2016. (https://psychcentral.com/blog/top-25-psychiatric-medications-for-2016/)

    Second, restrictions on long-term use appear to be advisory at this point, and the recommendations for short-term use only are well established and long standing. There are exceptions to every rule, but it seems to me that it would be irresponsible not to give appropriate warnings regarding the difficulties of discontinuing Benzos. The guidelines seem appropriate to me, just as it is appropriate to warn adults and youth that stimulants are drugs of abuse, even though it appears that a certain percentage of users report being pleased with the results.

  • You may be correct in your evaluation, but my point still stands: until someone comes up with an objective standard that is based on a real-world, replicable measurement that doesn’t depend on the opinion of “experts,” the boundaries of any “diagnosis” will continue to expand and no argument regarding “overdiagnosis” can ever be made, because there is no standard for diagnosing. The rest is all philosophy, and generally not even very good philosophy at that.

  • It seems scientifically sketchy at best to suggest that something is “overdiagnosed” or “underdiagosed” or “not overdiagnosed” when there is no way to measure what the correct level of “diagnosis” could possibly be. It’s like arguing whether kids need more or less recess or more or less discipline in school. There is not a “right answer,” and it is silly to talk about it as if there were. More or harsher discipline has certain consequences, which some people like and some people don’t. It’s totally subjective. Same with basically all of these psych diagnoses, including autism. There is no way to “over- or underdiagnose” because there is not correct level of “diagnosis,” mostly because these are not definable medical conditions but socially-bound, subjective definitions based on beliefs and values rather than any kind of scientific observations.

  • From a medical/scientific viewpoint, it is a meaningless grouping of people who have little to nothing biologically in common. People can identify that way for themselves, but to me it has all the scientific validity of “diagnosing” people as Catholics or French or greedy or sexually promiscuous. People can be all of those things for as many reasons as their are people. People can identify however they wish to, but it doesn’t make their identification a “diagnosis.”

  • I don’t know that anyone here wants to prevent you from doing something you find helpful. However, it becomes different when doctors lie to people about the supposed causes of their problems and try to force “treatment” on them that is really just giving a drug and hoping it works. Not to mention the incredible levels of denial that occur when the clients themselves report that the drug is making them worse.

    I’m interested by your comment that “Anxiety has been proven to be real and heredity.” Anxiety is certainly real, but I’m pretty familiar with the research on this point, and I am not aware of anything that suggest that “anxiety” IN GENERAL is hereditary. I’m not denying the possibility that some people may struggle more with anxiety (including me) for reasons that may be significantly affected by heredity. But these same anxious people may have lots of other good qualities, like empathy, commitment to bigger goals, willingness to sacrifice, sensitivity in social situations, and so on. And of course, it is obvious that anxiety is HUGELY impacted by environmental factors. It is, in fact, a survival mechanism to help us avoid dangerous situations. So to decide that anxiety is hereditary is, as far as I know, not supported by evidence (please share if you have some!), but more importantly, anxiety is not a “disease state” that needs to be “treated,” even if some people find that there are drugs or other physiological interventions that can ease anxiety.

    Hope that makes sense!

  • Of course, I agree. I just don’t see that much difference, except that stressed parents have to be there with their kids and try to enforce the teachers’ dictates. Virtual learning will work better for some kids, worse for others, be the same for others, but it does not begin to address the flaws within the system, which is my point. Rather than simply observing that some kids are less anxious when they aren’t forced into an unnatural setting under the control of a person they may or may not respect with kids selected at random that they can’t get away from having to do things that may or may not make any sense, maybe they should be asking why going to such a setting induces so much anxiety in so many children, and maybe stop doing those things that make the environment so utterly oppressive? But that would presume that there is a desire to empower rather than oppress the students, which is probably a highly erroneous assumption.

  • So you are saying that “virtual learning” on a large scale amounts to child abuse?

    I’m a little surprised if that’s what you’re saying, since I’d expect you to see the school system as a primary means of keeping the unruly masses from rebelling. The whole enterprise is massively authoritarian from day one, and I believe a lot of what is not working in US society, at least, has to do with little kids being trained to invalidate their own perceptions and being forced to accommodate the “party line” on what is “right” and “wrong.” Not to mention the number of kids routed to the psychiatric system by schools.

  • It’s kind of a joke to talk about ‘differential diagnosis’ when there is no objective way to differentiate between one group and another. I think it’s fine to talk about personality characteristics and how to deal with them, but the idea that these utterly subjective categorizations somehow represent “diagnoses” is laughable, and to talk about “differential diagnosis” as if that were somehow a meaningful phrase is ludicrous to me.

  • “Jerk Radar” concepts are most definitely applicable to psychiatry. They try to charm you initially with promises of a better life, try to quickly engage you with them intensely to isolate you from other help, interfere with other relationships by explaining how they have your best interests at heart and that anyone disagreeing with them is undermining the relationship. Big egos abound, with willingness to lie or manipulate to maintain control, and willingness to blame others for anything that goes wrong. Low responsibility – goes without saying. History of abuse, encouraging others to use drugs, employing denigrating labels and comments… the concordance is quite thorough.

  • This is very well spoken! I would add that what people have in common is more likely to be the stresses that CONTRIBUTED to their “symptoms” rather than the label. For instance, survivors of domestic abuse have a lot in common with each other, even though they might qualify for “PTSD,” “Major Depression,” “Bipolar Disorder,” “Borderline Personality Disorder,” “Anxiety Disorder” or many other possible labels. It would be more functional AND politically powerful to organize around experiences, rather than “reclaiming” a label that was never even relevant to most of the people who had it applied to them.

  • Posting as moderator:

    There is no rule here that participants in comments are or are not “supposed to hate Trump.” I am concerned that this thread is about to go off topic into electoral politics or some other disrelated conversation that will end up being unproductive and hostile, as has happened recently.

    The point of the article is that the White House refused to pay for “mental health care” for separated migrant families. Arguments about whether this is a good or bad thing are welcome. I don’t want to see an argument about whether this means “Trump is bad” or not.

  • Which of course means that the only “evidence based treatments” are going to be drugs, because they’re the only ones with enough research to provide an “evidence base,” however corrupt or flawed or sketchy that evidence base is. For instance, they still call stimulants “evidence based treatment” for “ADHD” even though decades of research show that they do NOTHING to improve long-term outcomes for children. What good is an “evidence base” that doesn’t take long-term effects into account?

    And that’s not even getting into how the grouping of the “DSM disorders” puts together heterogeneous groups who will respond differently to the same approach, so that only the heavy-handed “symptom suppression” approach will be viewed as “effective.”

  • I don’t know that I have one to hand, actually. Whatever you call it, there is a power differential, and any person who is really good at it knows this is a huge part of the dynamic and knows how to step down from their power and return the power to the client, and appreciates that the “peer worker” is actually in a BETTER place to do this. But the DSM attitude/philosophy speaks directly against this, encouraging and even in some ways requiring the “clinician” to see the “Mentally ill” as below them. And by analogy, the “peer worker” is below them, too.

    Maybe we can call them “coaches” or “mentors” or something that doesn’t delineate their value as being a “peer” with people who are identified as being “beneath” the “professionals.” But the real problem isn’t the name, it’s the attitude of the professionals toward their clients, and by analogy to anyone who as been on the “client” side of the relationship. Condescension is both a consequence and a cause of the disempowerment of clients, and I see that condescension clearly indicated in attitudes toward “peer workers,” who are automatically seen as less wise, less emotionally stable, less effective, and less important than the so-called “professionals,” even when the opposite may well be the truth.

  • I honestly have not seen anyone saying that a response to life’s tragic circumstances is not absolutely needed. Perhaps you can let me know what quotes or statements lead you to this conclusion? I think there IS a sense in a lot of people that a “professional” response to human distress is condemned to failure from the get-go due to differences in power and intention between the “helper” and the “helpee.” Perhaps that is what you are referring to?

  • The fact that anyone has to suggest that “person-centered services” should be a model of care tells us enough about the usual attitude of the “mental health” professions toward their ostensible “clients.” What other kind of help could possibly be envisioned, that is not centered on the person one is purporting to “help?”

  • I think my response DOES answer your question, and quite clearly. Each person will need something different, and the first error of psychiatry is clumping people together based on how they feel or act rather than on what their experiences, life conditions and motivations are. The only way to help people in distress is to get to know each and every one of them personally and help them figure out their path. It is much more a spiritual than a physiological thing, though physiology certainly does play a role (exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc.) Psychiatry is destructive largely because it invalidates the humanity of its clients in the interests of money and power. Restoring connections and respect and caring leads to a wide range of solutions that depend on the person and his/her situation. There is no “prescription” for mental well being.

  • Reminds me of the Star Trek Next Generation episode where people from one planet got everyone on another planet addicted to a substance only found on the first planet, and then said they all had a “disease” for which their drug was the only “treatment.” And of course it was VERY expensive, but what’s it worth to be protected from this horrible “disease!”

    It is beyond despicable to create a “disease” with one drug and then sell another to “cure” it!

  • I actually had a very good therapist who worked with me to meet MY goals, never once told me what to think about my life even when I asked her to do so. But this was back in the 80s before the DSM took full hold. I think such people are harder to find these days, but I do think there are times when having an objective person who is willing to listen and ask pointed questions about your thinking and decisions WITHOUT telling you what to do is extremely valuable. The problem is, most therapists seem incapable of being there for the clients without meeting their own needs at the clients’ expense. The DSM structure makes it that much easier to avoid the real issues or to work out the therapists’ issues on the client. And I’m not sure there is a way to actually train therapists to do this. It seems to have a lot more to do with the therapist’s own grasp on his/her personal issues and needs, and corresponding ability to set those needs aside and truly LISTEN to the what the client is saying instead of trying to “fix” the client’s life.

  • I think the problem is connecting psychiatry, which is NOT designed to help people except in the crudest sense of deadening “negative emotions,” and society responding to suffering and misery, which I agree society is responsible to do. In fact, as long as psychiatry is around, our society at large can pretend that psychiatry has the answer and that they don’t need to bother responding to your or anyone else’s emotional difficulties, as they will buy psychiatry’s story that it’s all about flawed brains and doesn’t require any social changes at all.

    As to what society can and should do, I think there is a major problem assuming that there is one answer for all those now considered “mentally ill” by the DSM system. There are many different responses possible, which can be adapted to many different situations. For instance, the main “cure” for ADHD appears to be to restructure schools so that they are more adaptable to the needs of kids. Things like “anxiety” and “depression” can have many causes, and the response should be different for different situations. Does society need to respond the same way to a person in a dead-end job or an unhappy marriage, as opposed to someone abused as a small child, or a person who is being discriminated against systematically because s/he is an immigrant or a black person or a woman?

    Grouping “the mentally ill” together as if “they” are some monolithic entity plays into the hands of the psychiatric community and the drug companies’ needs. It is a false grouping of heterogeneous people into pseudo groups, which obscures any real attempt to analyze and help with a person’s actual situation.

  • Yeah, Freud was a huge improvement over anything else that preceded him, because he at least started from the idea that the what the client says is the most important thing to consider. That postulate alone would invalidate the entire edifice of the DSM and all that passed for “psychiatry” throughout history. It is just a shame that he backed down from his accurate observations. But as we all are, he was a product of his time, and his revelations were just not tolerable in the society he lived in, however accurate they may have been.

  • Freud’s main contributions were that he believed that listening to people’s stories was a path to healing, and that early life trauma unconsciously affected decisions and emotions on an ongoing basis. He was the first to recognize that sexual abuse of children (especially girls) was rampant, and at first he believed these stories and attributed women’s “hysterical” symptoms to the abuse they had experienced. This outraged the Viennese society of the time (one has to wonder how many of his psychiatric colleagues were suddenly worried they’d get busted!) and he came under tremendous pressure to recant. Unfortunately, he did so, and devised all the weird “drive theories” like the Oedipus complex and penis envy and whatnot and the secret of childhood sexual abuse went back under wraps for another hundred years. Most of what he is remembered for is the crap he came up with to explain away his original observations. He may have saved his career by doing so, but his betrayal of his integrity condemned another four generations of children to unrecognized sexual abuse.

  • They are often prescribed “antipsychotics” because they become aggressive from taking stimulants, which is one of the well-known side effects of taking them. These kids get diagnosed with “bipolar disorder” because of their negative adverse reactions to the stimulants, (or sometimes they are prescribed without any further diagnosis) so instead of taking them off the stimulants (which INCREASE dopamine), they keep them on stimulants and give them “antipsychotics” (which DECREASE dopamine!) I mean, if you want to decrease their dopamine levels, why not start by NOT INCREASING THEM?

    There is nothing more logically stupid in the entire field of psychiatry (which is replete with logical stupidities from top to bottom). I saw it dozens, perhaps hundreds of times advocating for kids in foster care. It is appalling that this continues, and speaks to the moral depravity of the institution of psychiatry.

  • There is no question that these drugs have an EFFECT, and sometimes the effect seems positive or worth the cost. This does NOT mean there is something “wrong” with the child, or that the child is being “treated” for some “disease” or “disorder,” or that other children experiencing similar problems will be “helped” by whatever you felt worked for your child. Individual stories are valid, but scientific claims need to be made on overall data, not individual stories.

    Best of luck with your continuing challenges!

  • I’d be pretty f-ing insulted if I were called a “treatment non-responding anxiety patient.” Isn’t it clear how dehumanizing this whole idea is?

    I also wonder that the model here is to only provide therapy to those whose drug “treatment” seems to have “failed.” Why not start by talking to them before you decide to mess with their brain matter?

  • It sounds like we’re substantially on the same page. He has recently revealed some childhood trauma we did not know about, and he was operating with that inner secret (from himself, too), which no doubt made it difficult to make sense out of things. He also had an emotionally abusive partner he was escaping from, and I think the drugs provided escape for him, too. He was guided at first, but the person guiding him also had some serious issues and told him some very not helpful things. I think certain people just don’t do well with any kind of drug intervention. Nothing works for everyone, and we all have to find our own paths.

  • I think we’re getting into the difference between individual actions, which vary widely, and the system that has been devised, which is very narrow and rigid. There are most definitely individuals who can do great things within the system, and those who fight the system itself to do better (I was one of those for a while). I had a great therapist who really helped me back in the 1980s, though in fairness the DSM-III was just taking hold and therapists were more conversant with Jung and Rogers and Hoffer and Maslow and Bowlby and the like. But the system has changed, and is now rigged to encourage labeling and drugs and a discounting of the importance of experience and personality development as well as to ignore social impacts on human experience.

    I’d use the comparison of individual vs. systemic racism. There are individuals who really do choose to hate people based on their skin color or national origin or class. But the majority of people are able to manage relationships with individuals of varying backgrounds without overt hatred. Unfortunately, ALL of us are steeped in a culture of racism, and carry around images and assumptions and reactions that are “programmed” in by the society we’re a part of, to the extent that much of it, we don’t even notice. Some people are able to rise above this training to one degree or another, but most are only partially or marginally aware that such things are even happening.

    That’s how I see the psychiatric system. There are individuals within the system who can rise above the system’s assumptions, but the training and the culture surrounding “mental health” is warped in the direction of believing that “the mentally ill” are a specifically identifiable population, whose value and capabilities in life are less than the “normal” person, which of course the majority practitioners believe themselves to be. So even if people within the system do challenge the system to do better, they tend to make temporary stirs in certain areas which quickly settle back down into the status quo, because the system is supported by a huge culture of discrimination and condescension and power dynamics, and most of the practitioners are comfortable enough with it to keep supporting its basic assumptions.

    This is why I got out of the business myself. I decided at a certain point that continuing to participate, even as a rebel behind enemy lines, was a tacit approval of the system as it was. I saw the damage being done and realized that one person can’t change the entire culture. So I became and advocate, and earned a lot more inner peace.

  • I am most definitely saying that psychiatry as a pseudo-scientific philosophy/religion denies or minimizes the causal role of stress and trauma in any of their “diagnostic” categories. At the same time, they also systematically overlook REAL physiological problems, like sleep apnea or low iron for so-called “ADHD,” and deprive the client of actual medical care that they may need.

  • Looking again, I just thought it was an important distinction to make. It is common to use the term “illness” in a metaphorical sense, like “that is SICK!” or “she has mental illness” without any actual attempt to look for physiological illnesses, and without the consideration that stress and trauma cause physiological symptoms that can easily be interpreted as “illness.” Of course, these ostensible “symptoms” are intentionally framed as “illness” by the psychiatric community.

  • Throwing up suggests “ill.” Feeling depressed suggests “stressed” or “traumatized.” There are some people who are depressed because they are ill (low thyroid, chronic pain, iron deficiency, etc.) There are some people who throw up because they’re stressed or traumatized. To assume someone’s ill because they are depressed is dangerous and unscientific. Screening for illness makes sense. Assuming illness does not.

  • ‘Kwanzaa’s second principle, Kujichagulia, Swahili for “self-determination,” which reflects a sense of “defining, creating, naming, and speaking for oneself.” ‘

    If this second principle were put into place, the DSM and the standard of “care” in the “mental health” system would be immediately put to rest. The DSM’s purpose is to “define, create, name, and speak” for the “patient” and prevent the patient’s voice or viewpoint from being taken seriously.

    The author may actually have been fortunate that her colleagues didn’t immediately call the authorities and allowed the author to exercise her own self-determinism in deciding how to proceed with the assistance of her psychiatrist. I was a bit disturbed to hear her talking about the “stigma” of “mental illness” and even moreso being “stigmatized” for being black. I think the proper word here is “discrimination”, not “stigma!”

  • I think psychiatric practitioners who “treat” imprisoned “patients” are worse than the criminal justice system. At least alleged criminals have to be “Mirandized” and can have an attorney present during questioning, get a full trial and have to be convicted “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and have a specific and limited sentence. The “committed” have almost no rights, other than a “preponderance of evidence” trial in front of judges who are generally heavily biased against them. And they can be “held” indefinitely, or at least as long as their insurance holds out.

  • The other huge problem with “EBM” is that “evidence” will only accumulate when studies are done, and most studies are funded by the pharmaceutical industry. So any non-drug interventions (like peer support) will never gather enough evidence to be called “EBM,” even if the results are far superior to “treatment as usual.”

    And of course, the article does not take on the more fundamental problem, namely, that helping people suffering from emotional distress is not really “medicine” in the first place. Studying “depression” will never lead to a proper “evidence base,” because the researchers are studying a heterogeneous group, where some will be helped by one intervention and others will be not helped or harmed. If people are treated as individuals, we’ll get a lot better result than by lumping together a whole bunch of people with a wide range of issues and trying to “treat” them as if they had a medical problem that no one apparently can actually identify.

  • Yeah, if owning guns reduced crime, we in the USA would have the lowest crime rates in the world!

    But you are right, there is nothing to suggest that having a “mental illness diagnosis” makes one more predisposed to violent gun use. Heavy drug use (including LEGAL drugs like antidepressants and benzos) and domestic abuse are the highest associations with gun violence and have been for a long, long time. The “mentally ill” angle is just to create a scapegoat so those much larger REAL social problems can be ignored or minimized.

  • I recall an experiment where someone designed a computer program to act like a non-directive therapist. It asked basic questions like, “Tell me about your childhood,” and gave generic acknowledgements like “I see” or “Uh huh…” If someone went off on a tangent, the computer would say something like, “Let’s get back to your mother.” The users reported feeling better from using the program. I think it showed how desperate people are just to have someone listen to them, even though the “listening” was totally artificial. Perhaps the machine had an advantage, in that it was unable to give unsolicited advice or demonstrate prejudice or evaluate for the user what the computer thought their “real problem” was.

    Anyway, I think we’re sinking down pretty low when we’re trying to have computers provide “therapy.” Though the computer program may have a big advantage over a psychiatrist with a prescription pad. At least it won’t make you worse.

  • Very true! The problem is not that the information is not known and available, it is that there are so many people invested in the status quo who stand to lose money or status or both, that the facts are no longer relevant to their analysis. The only consideration is how to maintain power as long as possible before one is caught and held accountable. And this attitude extends very far beyond the boundaries of psychiatry.

  • I recall seeing a film of a nice, German family, small house with a garden and a white picket fence. The father was a German officer, was dressed up for work. Walked out the front door, said goodbye to the wife and kids, and turned up the street. The camera shows Buchenwald rising in the background and the father heading off for his job at the death camp.

    Individual humans do not have to be evil for their behavior to be evil, or for the institution they work for to be evil. Many “good” people are able to justify bad actions in a wide range of manners, and evil institutions are very generous in providing plausible justification for the actions they want people to be able to justify. Remember the Milgram experiment!

  • Biederman and company also cherry picked their non-placebo-controlled studies. Studies in Quebec, Australia (Raine Study) and in Finland showed that taking stimulants don’t improve any outcome measured in the “meta-analysis” discussed. Additionally, the OSU Medication Effectiveness Study showed no improvements in any outcome, except for a slight reduction in accidents for “medication” users. This issue has been studied for over 60 years now. If this stuff were so awesome, why aren’t there clear and unambiguous indications of positive results? How many “no result” findings have to happen before we conclude that it simply doesn’t have any long-term benefits?

  • That is my observation also. “Peers” are rarely considered equal partners, but more someone who can “talk at the client’s level” and thereby explain why the system is “right.” I’ve seen plenty of “peers” who intentionally and consistently buck that trend (Stephen Gilbert/Boren, for instance), and they can sometimes get some stuff done, but they are never considered actual peers to the professionals. As long as that condition pertains, “peer support” remains mostly coopted and lacking in significant influence beyond the level of an individual person’s situation.

  • Posting as moderator: It is possible that past moderators handle things differently. The Posting Guidelines do mention profanity, but in the context of being respectful to others. It could be interpreted that all profanity is banned, but I’ve read it as meaning profanity in reference to someone’s person or ideas would be out of bounds.

  • The difference is that I get to define what I think. is “wrong” in the mental/spiritual realm. If a doctor tests and finds I have low thyroid, s/he can then tell me what is “wrong” and we can make a plan. But no one can tell me it’s “wrong” for me to have flashbacks or feel anxious. Sometimes feeling anxious is absolutely RIGHT – it is my body warning me that I’m in danger! Sometimes it is right but not very helpful, like if I’m going for a job interview and there is a “danger” that I won’t get the job. Sometimes it was right at an earlier time but is being applied to a situation today where the application doesn’t work. So I would be “wrong” for applying it to this situation. But the anxiety isn’t in itself “wrong.”

    Establishing order is what we do as humans. So “disorder” can certainly be perceived as “wrong.” But someone else telling me that my emotional state is “wrong” because it doesn’t meet their criteria for “normal” is judgmental and is frequently destructive.

    As a therapist, I have no problem asking a client, “What’s wrong?” from the perspective of the client. But I would NEVER tell a client, “Your reaction to being sexually molested is ‘disordered’ (AKA WRONG!)” It’s not my job to decide, and that’s why the DSM labels are problematic. It makes people feel “wrong” for feeling the way they do, instead of helping them see the challenges they face in a new light, which is what therapy should be doing.

  • “…by convincing them that their troubles are just an inevitable result of what happened to them, and there is no possibility of them changing their reaction to something else and so getting more control over their lives.”

    I don’t think someone needs to believe there is something “wrong” with them to consider the possibility of changing their reactions/coping mechanisms. My emphasis has always been on how they WANT their lives to proceed as opposed to how they can be “fixed” in the sense of “returning to ‘normal’ (as defined by our social norms).

  • Harrow showed that people with more favorable prognoses prior tom the study had worse outcomes on drugs than those with less favorable diagnoses had when off drugs. So “favorable prognostic factors” did not associate with better outcomes, whatever Harrow might have speculated about it. I also understand that he reconsidered his first analysis in the light of further data and critiques, and I’m wondering if you were reading his first assessment.


    If there are specific posts that aren’t there, please let me know. Your posts are pretty much always posted without moderation, so I’m not sure what could be missing. E-mail me directly if you find something specific I need to look for.


  • I agree, children are their weakest point. They can’t portray a two-year-old as a potential mass murderer needing to be “treated.” When you tell people about kids under one year old being on psych drugs, they are stunned. When you let people know that over half of foster youth over 12 are on psych drugs, people pay attention. A lot of the arguments for psych drugging and incarceration don’t sound nearly so convincing when kids are the victims.

  • Hi, Sandra,

    I guess I have a little concern about the idea of “diversity of opinions” in this context. My problem with it is this: those in the psychiatric world have a MUCH greater power and privilege than those that they ostensibly “treat.” I believe that conveys a much higher responsibility on them to insist that their “opinions” are based firmly upon scientific facts and knowledge. I think one reason you don’t have an answer is because opinions or “voices” can be valued differently by different people, and it is of course very, very easy for those in power to simply ignore the voices of those they have power over. So if we REALLY want to have a conversation where “all voices are heard,” I think we have to start with amplifying the voices of those who receive the services in question, such that their EXPERIENCES (not their OPINIONS) are considered the most vital data being examined. At the same time, those who have the power to ignore such voices would have to be restricted from positing their opinions as fact – they would have to present scientific data to support their opinions, AND would have to have their positions jibe with the reports of their “patients” or else not be considered valid.

    It is, indeed, difficult to manage, but not because there is a diversity of opinion, but because there is a differential of power, and those who have the power to make their opinions sound like facts are unwilling to set that power aside long enough to hear what the real effects of their “treatments” are. Present company excluded, I think.

  • I agree wholeheartedly – the tendency of the “professional” is often to force the person to be “reasonable,” and to re-a. ssume the roles they are rebelling against. Which is actually the very WORST thing you can do! A “mental health” crisis generally means that whatever role a person HAS been playing is not working. Maybe they need to reconsider how they’re living their life! Forcing them back into their old roles would drive them into apathy.

    Having a crisis is not an illness! And the solution is not to. force someone back to “normal,” whatever that is.


    In fairness to Oldhead, I have posted this last response (since Richard specifically referred to him in his post).

    I will be following Robert’s directive from here onward, and post things that relate to Terror Management Theory. Comments re: COVID are welcome as long as they are presented in that context. Any attempts to personalize negative responses will not be posted.

  • Pretty much, yeah. They don’t have to agree with each other or with US law, though US law can supersede them depending on the issue. “State’s Rights” vs. centralized government control has been an issue since the first Continental Congress back in the 1700s. It continues to play out today, right in front of our eyes. The intensity of the conflict over “mask mandates” is a reflection of that ongoing conflict. “Let’s act together in everybody’s interests” vs. “Washington isn’t going to tell US what to do!” Our current “liberal-conservative” spectrum is closely related to that theme, IMHO. Unfortunately, I think it can blind us to bigger issues on different spectra.

  • I agree, we know what we need to know about them. We know: 1) They mess with our brain chemistry, and indirectly, our brain structure, just like any “psychoactive drug,” including heroin, meth, alcohol, LSD, etc.; 2) there is no identifiable “illness” being treated, no means of distinguishing the “ill” from the “well,” so at best, these can be considered palliative drugs, similar to heroin for pain or aspirin for headaches; 3) all of these drugs have serious and in some cases deadly adverse effects, such that people taking the APs die 20-25 years earlier than the average person in society; 4) they all have withdrawal effects that generally lead to MORE of the “symptom” they are supposed to be suppressing; and 5) whatever unstudied long-term consequences exist, the evidence suggests that they are not good or helpful.

    What more needs to be known? A simple cost-benefit analysis says that we’re “treating” an unknown condition (if it even is a condition) with a drug that has largely unknown long-term consequences (other than early death and diabetes) and known short-term adverse effects which can be severe, and known withdrawal effects which can be worse than the “condition” being “treated.” The only benefit appears to be a temporary lessening of uncomfortable “symptoms” for an unknown proportion of the population using them. What argument is there for their continued widespread use? What happened to “first, do no harm?”

  • Certainly, state legislatures have done a ton of things that have forced the national government or national/international corporations to take notice. For instance, California set fuel emission standards that were higher than any other state. Because they wanted to sell cars in California, auto makers targeted making cars to meet those standards, even if other states didn’t require it.

    Laws governing “involuntary commitment” are made by the states and differ from state to state. Setting a different standard in a particular state and proving that it worked better is one very legitimate approach to handling the problem. The city of Berkeley, CA banned “electroshock therapy” for a while back in the 80s, and even though a judge overturned it, it got plenty of news coverage. It’s a legit strategy.

  • Thank you, Larry! That is very helpful.

    And I agree with you – it is one of those arguments like nature/nurture that can go on forever but not be resolved. Some of it gets down to values and priorities, and some comes down to perceptions vs. reality. The second part can be addressed through research, at least in part. The first is not resolvable except through quality communication, which I find few take the time to learn or execute.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    I have a suggestion. It is clear that we could go on and on about how this is proven or not proven or this is the right approach or that approach is really dumb and anyone who agrees with it is a fascist traitor and on and on. But I think you’re right – science does not make political decisions, and political decisions themselves can’t be altered by science. So let’s stick to the stuff that CAN be determined with more certainty!

    If someone believes hydrochloroquine works, please, share the studies showing that is true! If someone believes it’s dangerous, please share the source of that information – what side effects have been shown in studies to occur, and what’s the cost-benefit analysis? If someone thinks masks are dangerous, where is the data? If you believe they’re helpful, let us know the scientific reasons why.

    The last time this discussion got started, it degenerated into a rhetorical shouting match that had to be discontinued. I don’t want that happening again. Let’s debate the issue like the intelligent, mature adults we all are, and put out the pros and cons without the hype and fear. After all, we’re not going to change the minds of most people by telling them they are wrong. Let’s put the data out there and let people decide for themselves! I’d be happy to be educated, especially about the value of Zinc and Vitamin C and D.

    So my suggestion here: instead of wasting time about whether Trump’s or Biden’s plans are good or bad or bad and worse, why don’t WE bring the science together and examine it? How about educating each other in a mutually respectful environment, and then we can all decide which plan(s) seems best to us? Does that sound do-able?

    I very much doubt bringing psychiatry to an end will realistically occur if people on the same side can’t work out a way of communicating respectfully about things we don’t agree about. Thoughts?

  • Working as an advocate for foster youth, I saw this same pattern over and over. Stimulants for “ADHD” leading to deterioration/aggression, leading to more drugs, leading to more deterioration, eventually leading to kids on 4-5 drugs who can’t maintain in a foster home and end up in residential “treatment” centers. And yet mentioning that the “treatment plan” seems to be leading to more and more deterioration is met with hurt feelings and outrage, or with complete dismissal. Isn’t “treatment” supposed to make you better?

  • Yeah, there was some study way back that claimed that “combined therapy was better than either medication or therapy alone.” It became some sort of mantra such that any challenge to it was met with derision, at least in the circles I was traveling in at the time, even though many future studies showed no such thing. It’s one of those myths like the “broken brain” myth that has little to no support, and yet persists like a bad case of poison oak.

  • Are these people freakin’ serious? What about a voice pattern could POSSIBLY be considered a “biomarker” for anything? I suppose that they will discover that “depressed” people speak in a flatter and less variable tone. Or we could just ASK the person how s/he is feeling instead of using all this technology to analyze their voices? How does this kind of idiocy pass for science?

  • And a lot of people given antidepressants don’t feel better or feel worse. See Kirsch’s works for the minuscule difference between AD’s and placebo when you look at all the trials together instead of cherry picking the ones they submit to the FDA. As for antipsychotics, yes, they do tend to reduce hallucinations and in some cases delusions in the short run, though certainly not for everyone. Unfortunately, long-term followup studies suggest that this is very much a temporary phenomenon, and that over the long term, people chronically using antipsychotics have MORE episodes of psychosis than those who use them intermittently or not at all. If you would read “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” you could see this research for yourself.

    I’m afraid a lot of what you’ve been led to believe about psych drugs is not actually true.

  • I’d be interested in hearing your “evidence of brain pathology” for any “mental illness” you’d like to name. Of course, all such research is tainted from the beginning, since the definitions of “Schizophrenia” and “bipolar” and “Borderline Personality Disorder” are all extremely vague and subjective, leading inevitably to heterogeneous groupings who can’t possibly have significant shared biological traits. But even accepting such vague definitions, the research I am familiar with shows at best very small correlations with any biological “cause,” the most optimistic being around 15% correlation with a mess of a hundred or more genes, and using multiple “disorders” for the correlation. Whereas the correlation between traumatic events and any of the “mental disorders,” including “schizophrenia” and “bipolar,” is extremely high, usually over 80%.

    And if you’re talking instead about fMRIs and PET scans, this research has long been critiqued for not being able to distinguish cause from function. What I mean is, if a “depressed brain” has a certain pattern (which has NOT been consistently shown, by the way), there is no way to know if that pattern CAUSES depression or RESULTS FROM the person feeling depressed. In fact, there is evidence that thinking depressing thoughts shifts the brain’s function in the direction associated with “depressed brains,” and thinking of something else returns to a more “normal” pattern.

    The other problem is that these scans are AVERAGED. So even if there is a tendency, for instance, for people who are diagnosed with “ADHD” to have a certain pattern when confronted with difficult tasks, only SOME of those so diagnosed have this pattern – there is a wide range of individual results, some of which conform closely to the pattern and some of which vary widely. This is why PET scans can’t be used as a diagnostic tool – there is NO consistent finding across large numbers of “ADHD”-diagnosed people.

    So the science I know of says that biology probably plays some role in how we react, but that there is no consistent biological pattern with any of the “mental illnesses” as defined in the DSM. The science also says that traumatic experiences are MUCH more highly correlated with any “mental illness” than any biological findings to date.

    I’m happy to read any research you have that would speak to this question. But so far, I can’t agree that the science to date agrees with or even suggests the conclusions you propose.

  • In other words, listening to a black young person’s experience and validating it can help them feel better? This title makes it seem like “discussing racial stress” is some kind of a special “therapeutic technique” for black youth with “mental health problems.”

    Systemic change will happen when we stop talking about common experiences and reactions to our social and economic system as if they are somehow “illnesses” that need to be “treated.” And when listening to someone is considered what kind-hearted and compassionate people do when meeting someone in distress, rather than some sort of “treatment” for “mental illness.”

  • Of course, they don’t really have an opinion of you. They haven’t bothered to find out who you are. They have an “opinion” of “bipolars” or “borderlines” or whatever box they want to put you in. The only “success” with such people is escaping their boxing game and finding someone who actually cares about you as a human being.

  • “Overtreated” suggests that there is a proper amount of “treatment.” It seems a devious term to be used in this context, as of course, having no objective way to “diagnose” “bipolar” or any of the other so-called “disorders,” it is impossible to even establish what is being “treated,” let alone what the “proper amount of treatment” would look like.

    Maybe the title should be, “Overheated, then overwhelmed with attempts to define and control my life.”

  • I think you’re right on that indifference is the big problem that underlies the ability of some “mental health professionals” to continue to do harm and feel OK about it, and that the public has unfortunately largely bought into this idea to a large extent.

    I do want to take a moment to remind everyone that psychiatrists are human beings, like everyone else, and they come in all varieties. I don’t think we can say that all of them are “soulless” and “cynical.” Certainly, there is an attraction to the soulless and the cynical to a profession that handles pain by repression and blaming, and makes lots of money for its followers while creating permanent clients. However, my experience of rank-and-file psychiatrists is that most are more “hypnotized” and think they are doing good works. They have been trained, as it were, in a cynical system of thought, and behave in accordance with that system. And there are a handful who see the foolishness of their training and are trying to do something better, some ow whom post on MIA.

    But in the end, you are correct in saying that it will require organization and resistance from the potential clients/victims of such a soulless system to bring it to an end. Connectedness is the cure to soulless cynicism, in my book.

  • I don’t think we really disagree with each other much here. I think we’re just emphasizing different aspects of the problem. Being biased against someone for differences is certainly not something invented by psychiatry. They just tend to make it a lot worse, and then blame others for their poor outcomes.

  • It is true, we ought not to think less of people regardless of whatever struggles, physically or psychologically or whatever, they may experience.

    My point is that how a problem is framed has a lot to do with what people believe can be done to resolve it. The placebo response is a perfect example – if people are given hope that they will improve, they can often rally their internal resources and they actually DO get better without intervention. This is particularly true of so-called “mental/emotional disorders.” Telling someone they’ve “had a rough childhood but that other people have experienced the same and have overcome it, let me connect you with some of them” will give the person both validation and hope. Telling someone their “brain is genetically defective and they’ll have to take drugs for the rest of their lives to deal with the symptoms, but there is no cure” removes agency and blunts hope. Since the latter has not been shown to be true in the overwhelming majority of cases, why would we not start with a framing that provides hope and agency, rather than one that promotes hopelessness and passivity?

    There is a reason psychiatry frames things the way they do, and it has not much to do with helping people achieve better control of their lives.

  • I would add that suggesting Open Dialog might work is no more of a fantasy than suggesting that taking antipsychotics for the rest of one’s life is a viable solution for most people. Or more of a fantasy than NOT telling clients the known potential adverse effects of the drugs being recommended because it might make them decide not to cooperate. Or the fantasy of choosing a list of undesirable behaviors that tend to occur together and calling it a “diagnosis” and then claiming that “it” is caused by a “biological brain disease.”

    The entire enterprise of psychiatry seems to be founded on fantasy. Not sure why trying Open Dialog would be any more fantastical than what is already accepted as “standard treatment.”

  • “They were dysfunctional before I treated them.” I always find this a very lame line of “reasoning” and don’t understand why it seems to work to deflect so many people’s concerns. If I went in for a sore shin and came out of the doctor’s office with a broken leg, I don’t think they’d get away with saying, “Well, the leg was dysfunctional before I treated it.” Treatment, if we may even use such a term, is supposed to improve the condition. Even accepting that the person was “ill,” if they continue to act “ill” despite your “treatment,” how does that let you off the hook? If your “treatment” doesn’t work, why are you accepting money for “treating” them in the first place?

  • Posting as moderator:

    Anyone who wants to post here is allowed to post, as long as they follow the Posting Guidelines. We have never moderated family members who chose to participate based on their being family members or on their not having a family member embroiled in the system. It is true that some of our community distrust family members’ intentions, based on their own experiences. But family member voices have always been welcome at MIA. I’m not sure where you are getting the idea that family members are “not allowed to post” if their loved ones are not caught up in the system. What would stop such a person from posting?

  • Multiple studies have indicated that the process of telling someone they have a “Brain disorder,” or telling someone else that “mental illness” results from brain malfunction, increases “stigma,” in contrast to telling people that it is the result of struggling with difficult life experiences. So a large percentage of the “stigma” is the result of the very psychiatric system that later decries it.

  • Posting as moderator:

    I want to be clear that voices of those who feel they are helped by psychiatric drugs have always been welcome here. It is admittedly sometimes a challenging environment, as they will hear stories and feelings which don’t comport with their experience, but attacking or downgrading people because they choose a pathway that includes psychiatric drugs is never accepted here. Now if someone starts arguing that people HERE need to accept their reality and validate the reality of DSM diagnoses or something of the sort, they’re going to be in for an argument. But civil exchange of views is the central theme of the comments section, and no one is allowed to be censored or attacked for having a contrary view.

  • Akathesia is often not reported and not understood by people who work with children, even the psychiatrists. I had a young lady (14) who specifically reported being “unable to sit still” (the literal meaning of “akathesia”), and was on a special program where she could raise her hand to leave class because it was so hard for her to stay in one place. They had a goal of staying in class longer. After my CASA volunteer and I got them to reduce her Risperdal and Lithium dosages, her in-class percentages went up significantly. But the psychiatrist still denied that akathesia had been an issue. A survey of the residential staff showed that none of them had been trained on what to look for as adverse effects, nor were they told that watching for adverse effects was a part of their job. The level of denial is unbelievable.

  • I’m saying that not all the individuals who play the role of police are acting in defense only of the rich and powerful. I suppose the same could be said of psychiatrists, though in my observation, there are a hell of a lot more police of integrity than there are psychiatrists. The school system is very similarly messed up to me. There are a goodly percentage of teachers who care, but they work in a system that disempowers the students and they can’t really fix it themselves.

    I’ll look at your links, but I was interested in YOUR answer – what do YOU think we do about bullies and aggressive people when there are no more police?

  • I have to take issue with this to some degree. I have known many police/sheriffs who have done a fantastic job of “protecting and serving” the community they are in, including handling some situations involving “mental health clients” with particular aplomb. I’ve also seen unwarranted brutality, dismissiveness, and threatening behavior that would make anyone distrust the force. Both kinds of officers exist. And while accountability issues are critical, particularly with darker-skinned people, and systemic racism is very, very real, I am not sure we really want to live in a society where there is NO police function at all. We saw what happened in the CHOP zone when there was no law enforcement – people got shot and died. Every society has some form of law enforcement, formal or informal. There will always be people who threaten the community in some way. While the current system appears to have been coopted by the rich and powerful, and this has been true for a long, long time, I have to ask what means will we have to deal with people who want to harm and take advantage of others if the police are entirely “defunded?” And even if they are defunded, what’s to prevent psychiatry from coming in to take over their role by “diagnosing” people who don’t behave as society expects, for whatever reason?

  • Ah, but the ones who are in denial are the ones deemed “mentally healthy!” If you’re too worried about it, you have an “anxiety disorder!” If you’re working hard to stop it, you’re “Manic!” If you give up and feel hopeless, you have “major depression!” The only acceptable response is to not be too worried about it and assume it will work itself out.

  • The problem with this is that once you make it OK to use these in “extreme cases,” very quickly, it becomes OK to use in ANY case, because there is no objective standard to justify their use. And making people more tractable isn’t really a “medical” issue, anyway, it’s a social management issue.

    There are also lots of ways to intervene with dementia patients that don’t involve drugging them into submission, and these are rarely even considered before going to the drug solution. Yet information on these is buried deep! I just did a search on “alternative approaches for dementia” and got only drugs and “complimentary medicine” (herbs and homeopathy, etc). I had to go for “psychosocial approaches to Dementia” to get any hits worth looking at. This is because dementia has been redefined and captured by the psychiatric industry and all other approaches have been suppressed.

    My wife’s dad had Alzheimer’s and was put on Risperdal because he was grabbing the nurses arms too hard. He went from being quite interactive and gregarious within a very short time to being unable to sit up, head thrashing from side to side, trying to but unable to talk, obviously in utter misery. No one at the facility seemed to know or care that the drug had done this. Ginny got her mom to take him off the drug, and within three days, he had recovered most of his personality and communication ability. When he grabbed her arms to tightly, she said, “Dad, you’re grabbing too hard, it hurts!” And he stopped grabbing. That easy! And yet they felt it was OK to drug him into insensibility and near paralysis because he didn’t just do what they wanted without having to communicate with him respectfully.

    Yes, dementia is very difficult to deal with, and yes, antipsychotics make them easier for caretakers to manage, but the dangers of abuse of power by the facilities or other caretakers are extreme, not to mention the risk of early death that they convey. I would not allow my loved ones to be put on these drugs. They are for the convenience of the caretakers, and remove any incentive for them to actually figure out a loving way to handle the difficulties such people present.

  • Posting as moderator:

    OK, that’s it! Everybody out of the pool! This thread has deteriorated and has become nothing but a back and forth between people completely fixed in their positions. It is time to end it. Again, I am not “banning posts on COVID” or “censoring,” I am stopping this deteriorating thread of subtle insults, straw-man arguments, defensiveness and disrespectful analogies. EVERYONE has had their say. I will not post any more comments on this theme on this thread.

    We can do a lot better than this, folks!


  • Richard, it is too difficult and time consuming for me to address the various assumptions and implications in your responses. You’ve made your point, people can read it, and I’ve made my point, people can read it. It is time to end this conversation, as it is not only going in circles, but going on extreme tangents at this point. We agree that COVID is real and that it needs to be taken seriously and that there are people with hidden agendas opposing taking it seriously or taking advantage of it for political gains, and that those forces need to be opposed. Let’s focus on what we agree upon and move on.

  • Oh, believe me, you’re not the only one! I’m still waiting for that moment of crystallization when suddenly it becomes clear to enough people that something shady is going on. In the meanwhile, I keep trying to educate and support, educate and support. But it doesn’t feel very hopeful.

    Still, I never thought the Berlin Wall would come down, and it did. So the world can surprise us sometimes. I’m hoping it will be sooner rather than later! What will it take for the masses to rise up and say “NO!”

  • POSTING AS MODERATOR: So we are in agreement that black and white rules of moderation are not possible?

    I tend to agree with you that using terms such as “fascist” out of context would constitute ad hominem attacks. I will continue to try and be more sensitive to this kind of language, and will appreciate people reporting posts where I have missed such statements. Of course, it is quite legitimate to say, “My therapist was a bully, because s/he would tell me I was stupid every time I questioned her.” Or to say, “This person subscribes to fascist ideology, as indicated by his references to quotes from Mussolini and his use of nationalistic slogans and identification of external threats as excuses to curtail civil liberties,” or that sort of thing. The issue would come if the person is trying to discredit an author or another poster by the use of such terms to refer to them or their writings without any such context. My preference is for folks to simply refer to the offending comment, such as “Mr. X uses the term ‘redskin,’ which I and I think most people consider racist” rather than “Mr. X is a racist because he said the word ‘redskin.'”

    So there is always a degree of subjectivity. But I don’t think we want a community where someone can say, “Oldhead is a slimy bag of feces” without being called out on it. Nor do I think we want a site where someone can’t say, “I think vaccine policy is highly influenced by unethical government agents in cahoots with the drug industry” without being called names or shunned or having his/her opinion censored just because their position may be viewed by others or MIA staff as controversial. Which is why we have the posting guidelines. But again, they’re guidelines, not rigid laws, and the goal is to have a free-flowing conversation while avoiding as far as possible unnecessary personal hostility, bigotry, and hurt feelings. As long as we keep that goal in mind, I think we can all live with the uncertainty of it. And as you know, I am always willing to listen to and discuss if anyone feels they are being treated unfairly. I am not sure how we can do any better than this.

  • Well, if we’re talking about whom we support politically, there are sides. I took your comments to be referring to the larger questions of knowledge/facts regarding COVID and other issues that are in conflict. I was objecting to the idea that there are “sides” when it comes to exploring the truth of a particular assertion. I don’t consider science to have “sides,” except for seeking the truth and using “science” to avoid or distort it. But using “science” to distort truth is not science at all.

    I do know the song you refer to. But as I recall, it was in reference to being on the side of those who are exercising power for their own benefits, vs. on the side of those who are attempting to come together to resist them. This seems pretty different from questions regarding what the actual threat from COVID is and how best to deal with it. As I have already stated clearly, politicians from both sides have tried to engage in “information management” or “messaging” to take advantage of this world-shaking issue and benefit themselves. I’m definitely NOT on their side. But I can’t embrace the idea that there is a “side of truth” and a “side of dishonesty” in this particular case. (Well, OK, there MAY be a side of dishonesty!) The sides I see are the side of using a disaster to manipulate people to support or oppose a political agenda, and those who are trying to figure out the best thing to do to ensure the safety of our population while remembering the limitations of our knowledge, and maximizing our ability to remain engaged and productive in our lives. That’s the only side I support fully.

    What I don’t support is the idea that there are those who believe and agree with everything you said above and those who don’t think COVID is real and don’t give a crap about anyone else but themselves (or those who are too foolish to avoid the deception of the Forces of Evil). I’ll provide a simple example: should one wear a mask while hiking in the woods, or at least when passing someone else on a hike? If I told you that the science suggests that outdoor mask-wearing outside of a close gathering of people is pretty much pointless, would you consider me part of the “other side?” Well, a recent tracking study in China tracked 7000 cases as to origin. Exactly ONE case out of 7000 was caught outdoors, and that one case involved a person talking to an infected person at close range for more than 15-20 minutes. So I don’t wear a mask outdoors, unless I am in a crowd. This is in violation of the CDC guidelines, which from a scientific point of view appear to be wrong. Does that make me one of those deceived by the forces of evil? Do I have to wear a mask while hiking to be considered on the “right side?”

    To reiterate: Politics has sides. Science does not have sides. Things are proven true, proven false, or are uncertain. Very, very few things fit into the first category. Generally, things are scientifically false or are uncertain. Uncertain situations require judgement, and judgement is based on data, not political agendas. Mixing science with politics creates bad science.

    I hope that clarifies my point. As to the Bush comment, it was just what came to mind when you said what you said. I’d certainly never compare you to Bush II, with whom I’d guess you have almost nothing in common. But I’m also not going to apologize for what thought came to mind when you said it, nor for sharing it. I hope it gives you pause to consider that you may be creating an impression that you don’t want to create.

  • POSTING AS MODERATOR: I challenge you to find an objective way to decide whether someone’s comments are “shaming” or make generalizations based upon a label or are an attack on a person vs. on what that person said. Moderation is unavoidably subjective, no matter how objective I try to make it. If we are in grey areas, I tend to use consultations with others, but again, not purely objective. Sometimes I pass something through and it ends up offending others for reasons I could not have understood until explained to me, and I have to reconsider.

    Sorry, but there will always be grey areas in moderation. Nature of the beast.

  • POSTING AS MODERATOR: When a certain number of “levels” are reached under a particular thread, the “reply” button disappears on new comments, and you have to go back to the last one that has a “reply” button and use it, and your post will end up at the end of the thread. It’s a feature of WordPress and not something we have control over.

    Hope that helps!


  • POSTING AS MODERATOR: Oldhead, you cut off the part of the last sentence you quoted about insisting that others agree with their personally-derived “truths.” MIA is and should continue to be a place to explore the truth, but when the discussion itself becomes increasingly authoritarian as it progresses, there is a point at which it is no longer productive of truth, as both sides are merely stating and restating their own ‘truth’ in a louder and louder voice, and things get more personal and insulting and it gets plain ugly.

    Admittedly, it is hardly an objective standard, but in the thread I asked people to let go of, it was most definitely getting into that realm and very far afield from the original topic.

    Sorry, there are no black and white rules in moderation! But I’m not moderating for content, except to the degree that off-topic conversations on any subject, when they become unproductive and backbiting, will be discouraged.

    Your idea of a different place to have this discussion is a good one. Not sure exactly how to bring that about, though. I’ll give it some thought.


  • Hi, Richard,

    I appreciate your inclusion of a lot more factual material in this comment. However, I do find using language like “Which side are you on?” does contribute to divisiveness. It reminds me of GW Bush’s “You’re with us or you’re against us” rhetoric back in the Iraq Ward run-up. I do agree that these issues are serious and we need to make our decisions based on facts rather than rhetoric, and that there are political agendas behind much of the supposed “facts” that we have been provided with. But not having reliable fact sources does put us all in the position of having to educate ourselves about how to evaluate what information is true. I’m hoping MIA will run an article or blog on this point, because I think people need help sorting out what is or isn’t true, and many don’t even know they need that help. I believe that acknowledging the point that it is difficult to know whom to believe is very important if we want to help more people make better evaluations of what “information” to believe.

  • Note how cleverly they say that “chemicals… MAY be unbalanced,” but then claim that the “medication” helps “restore the balance” of chemicals that they later admit they don’t know are actually “imbalanced” (which is why they say MAY). It is a clever workaround of “truth in advertising” laws, but I think it should never be allowed, because by claiming to restore the “balance,” they are essentially asserting a truth that is actually not known to be true.

  • Posting as moderator: COVID is a valid point of discussion if it is relevant to the article at hand. In this case, there is a claim that COVID is somehow moderated by psychostimulants, so that would be the topic of the conversation. Clearly, comments relating to COVID would be germane to the discussion. However, if the thread gets hijacked into talking about related issues that go too far afield from the article’s topic, I might end up asking folks to end the discussion, particularly if the discussion is becoming repetitive and escalating into personal attacks, as happened in the thread I believe you are referring to.

    I have never said that talking about COVID is off limits, just that we need to stay on the topic at hand and be respectful to each other in the discussion. The difficulty seems to come in when instead of sharing their perspective, folks begin to assert “truths” that are not objectively established and telling others who disagree with them that they are fools or dupes for believing it. I think we can all agree there has been a lot of disinformation about COVID coming from various people with political or personal agendas. I would just call for restraint in staying on the topic of the article and allowing for the possibility that our viewpoint may not be “right” in an absolute sense of the word.

  • I think the first thing to remember is that things like “anhedonia” and “fatigue” happen for a hundred different reasons. Labeling these phenomena as “illness” obviates the need to look further for the actual causes and potential cures for any REAL illnesses that might exist (such as anemia, low thyroid, heavy metal poisoning, etc.), and ALSO prevents the consideration that such phenomena may in fact be NORMAL reactions to adverse circumstances. Depression, anxiety, anger, hopelessness, excitement, all are part of the human experience, and to relegate them to “malfunctions” when they are in fact essential survival factors in life is in itself depressing and discouraging to people trying to make sense of their experience.

    So no, people aren’t lying about what happened to them – no one denies that suffering occurs. The problem is the simplistic reduction of suffering to a “malfunction” in a person, as if suffering were not a normal part of life, as if everyone should always be “happy” regardless of their circumstances (but not TOO happy – that might be MANIC!)

    It is not a choice between denying suffering exists and calling it an illness. We can all acknowledge suffering as an unavoidable and necessary part of life, as well as recognizing that people need support when they ARE suffering. We can also acknowledge that there MAY be physiological causes for SOME psychological suffering, but that absent an actual understanding of the cause or evidence of specific physiological pathology, we should assume that psychological suffering is the simple result of living in a confusing and at times challenging world, and that compassion, not medicine, is the best place to go to help.

  • I am very sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience! Apparently, you are not alone. However, I would not necessarily agree that you have nothing to lose by trying “ECT.” There are many people who have described horrific “side effects” of ECT, especially loss of memories, including the good as well as the bad. I strongly suggest you read up carefully and read some stories from people who have tried it out. I’ve never actually met someone where it “worked” for more than a very short period of time, and I’ve met a good number where it did essentially nothing or where they deeply regretted the damage it did to their brains. I don’t want you to feel like a fool yet again!

  • Richard and Nijinsky,

    I really see two very separate issues being argued here. One is that people can promote misleading information on the internet. It appears that both of you agree that is true and there is no real argument about it. The COVID discussion seemed more about what to DO if such information is put out by people who believe it is true. It seems the real point of disagreement is whether or not it is helpful to use pejorative language like “nonsense” and “dangerous” and “conspiracy theory.”

    Clearly, people can disagree about the wisdom of using particular language. I guess the question I would ask is how it helps the discussion to use this kind of language? Does it discourage people from considering such information? Does it drive the proponents deeper into defending their positions? Does it create a meaningful discussion or does it undermine opportunities to truly examine the data that is presented?

    I tend to agree with Nijinsky on this point. There really ARE conspiracies operating, and the term “conspiracy theory” has been used broadly to discredit any questioning of the status quo, no matter how rational or well supported. Antipsychiatry activists have been accused of being “conspiracy theorists” or “anti-science,” and it is a very effective way of silencing dissent. If we don’t want that kind of language used against us, I think we need to be more creative in our language rather than relying on general put-downs and characterizations that don’t involve any kind of analysis. I liked learning, for instance, the very low number of deaths claimed by the website in question. This was MUCH more influential in my assessment of this person’s claims than saying he is “promoting conspiracy theories” or “spouting nonsense.” To me, the more we stick to citing and responding to actual facts or claims, the more effective we can be in undermining inaccurate sources and theories. Calling names makes the name-caller less credible in my book, plus it legitimizes the kind of fact-free attacks that are often leveled at those who oppose psychiatry’s hegemony.

  • One of the worst things about the DSM is that it immediately disempowers the labeled person. Instead of seeing your emotions, pains, fears, joys, etc. as a result of your ACTIONS, they take away your agency and tell you that you feel this way because you are broken in some way. And they give you no hope of anything YOU can do about it, except to try their drugs and hope you’re one of the lucky ones that they work for.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • I don’t disagree with your assessment that psychologists and psychiatrists are involved with the COVID response, and not in a particularly helpful way, and discussion of this connection or similar material relating to our mission here is more than welcome. The issue becomes unclear when we are talking about whether or not COVID is a serious risk, whether or not masks help prevent infections, whether or not there is some international conspiracy to use COVID to accomplish some other political goals and so on. These are certainly legitimate areas of concern and valid for conversation, but threads have been completely hijacked and gone way off topic when I have allowed this kind of discussion to expand beyond the boundaries of the effects on behavior and emotions and the way that the psychological/psychiatric industries have tried to capitalize on COVID to convince us that a “wave of mental illness” is occurring instead of recognizing that being afraid of a pandemic virus is a normal thing, or comments of that nature. There is a moment when it stops being about the psych industries and it starts being about political issues that transcend psychiatry/psychology by a very large distance. For instance, arguing about whether or not COVID cases are overcounted or undercounted or whether or not “shutdowns” were needed or whether the Democrats are fear mongering to help their election chances or Republicans downplaying it to appeal to their base and so on have nothing to do with the psych industries. Those kind of posts are not going to be allowed without a direct connection to the material in the blog/article in question.

    Hope that clarifies things.


    I have allowed a lot of off-topic remarks regarding COVID on threads that have nothing to do with COVID. I think it is time to stop this. We are not a site about COVID, and it is a very controversial subject that goes very far afield from rethinking or ending the practice of psychiatry. I am not going to allow any more COVID posts that are not directly relevant to the article at hand. There are plenty of other forums where such discussions are more appropriate to conduct.


    I have allowed a lot of off-topic remarks regarding COVID on threads that have nothing to do with COVID. I think it is time to stop this. We are not a site about COVID, and it is a very controversial subject that goes very far afield from rethinking or ending the practice of psychiatry. I am not going to allow any more COVID posts that are not directly relevant to the article at hand. There are plenty of other forums where such discussions are more appropriate to conduct.

  • “Stopping suffering” or “controlling symptoms” are extremely nihilistic concepts that deny the reality of being human. Instead of “stopping suffering,” any real help has to focus on making SENSE of suffering and helping people assume more control of their lives, including dealing with the ongoing effects of past and current abuse. If we focus more on stopping ABUSE (including the abuse of power) than stopping the feelings of those who have been abused, we’d be getting more onto the right track.

  • There is not only “not a lot of evidence,” there is NONE. The only “help” that neuroleptics provide in those with dementia is for the staff who have to deal with it. It makes the residents more “manageable”, that’s all. And of course, it kills them off early, too, per the black box warning. But that doesn’t seem to bother most of the people involved in the adult care industry.

  • It does sound very suspicious, to say the least!

    I agree, the “false memory syndrome” thing was originally about implanting memories by asking questions to kids the wrong way. Somehow it got altered into the idea that recovering memory from moments of limited awareness somehow never happens. It’s bullshit, but met the needs of those who want to blame clients or their brains for what happened to them.


  • Great data! I will just take a moment to remind people that prescribing drugs within the standard of care is not a “medical error,” it is standard medical care. So the fourth leading cause of death in the USA is STANDARD MEDICAL CARE! There have been efforts to spin this as “medical errors,” so they can make it seem like these are mistakes made by “bad doctors.” But the truth is, this is not a result of “bad doctors,” the vast majority of these deaths, over 200,000 yearly, up to 400,000 in some estimates, result from standard medical care. This should be a terrifying statistic, yet somehow we are much more worried about the very rare possibility of a terrorist attack than we are about the carnage going on around us every day due to the awful outcomes of our own medical system.

  • I totally feel you on the “coping strategies.” There was a recent article on “ecotherapy” that made the same impression on me. Don’t take my hikes in the woods and turn them into some form of “therapy!” They are walks in the woods, and I love them, and that’s all that needs to be said! I don’t need “coping strategies”, I need meaningful and fun activities that make my life feel worthwhile. It’s not therapy, it’s called LIFE!

  • I think the first mistake of psychiatry is to assume that everyone who acts or feels a particular way should be grouped together and “treated” as if they have the same “disorder.” The evidence you report supports this. There most definitely could be biological factors that cause any sort of “psychiatric symptom.” But then we need to detect and treat the REAL problem instead of just suppressing the overt manifestations with drugs. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but biochemistry can easily be addressed without resorting to the subjective and largely nonsensical DSM. Real science looks for causes and relationships, which I’m hearing you call for. I have no problem with that, as long as we don’t assume that “schizophrenia” is a legitimate category that groups together people who have some causal factor in common.

  • That is so sad, Kate! I can say that I absolutely believe you. It is not hard at all to believe. There are others who will believe you, too. I think you can connect with those who really do understand. As for the rest, they can go ahead and take their drugs and deceive themselves. But once you’ve seen “the man behind the curtain,” you can’t believe in the Wizard any more.

  • “…clinicians often problematize the sexual needs and practices of residents.”

    That’s pretty damned euphemistic! Why not say, “Clinicians tried to shut down any opportunites for sexual expression due to their own discomfort, and used their power to deny residents their civil right to meet their sexual needs without interference.” This is a matter of a violation of rights, not some philosophical discussion of “problematization!”

  • I think the hook for me is that anyone who recognizes psychiatry is messed up and is doing damage is someone I want to engage with. Most “antipsyciatry” people have had less radical views earlier in their lives/careers. We don’t like to believe that a social institution is actually intending the opposite of what it purports to be doing. That is an awareness that occurs only after long examination of the facts, unless someone is thrown into the system and experiences it directly and undeniably, and even for the latter, it often takes a long time to come to full awareness. This group appears to have come a long way down the path to understanding what is wrong with psychiatry. My view is we should welcome such folks and try to help them see further, rather than criticizing them for not being “antipsychiatry enough” to meet our exacting standards.

    That’s my take on it.

  • Actually, it is the job of the researcher to prove that genetic/biological causes exist and are causative, not the job of detractors to disprove it. Scentifically speaking, lack of proof of genetic causation means it is assumed to be scentifically untrue, at least for the moment. And the fact that something “runs in families” is certainly no proof of a genetic origin! Speaking Chinese or using silverware to eat with both run in families, but are not in the least genetically related. Culture is passed on through families, and explains a great deal of similarity between parents’ and children’s behavior.

    If we want to be scentific, we have to be VERY careful about what we assume to be true. 50+ years of research have failed to demonstrate a specific biological cause of ANY of the “mental health” diagnoses in the DSM. Scientifically speaking, this suggests that such causes are very unlikely to exist, at least in a general sense. Specific instances of these “diagnoses” may have biological origins, but unless ALL or almost all cases of “depression” are shown to be biologically caused, we can not say that “depression” is biologically-caused condition.

  • Posting as moderator:

    I am agreeing with Oldhead that this topic has been thoroughly hashed out and further argumentation is not going to add much to anyone’s understanding and may lead to hurt feelings. I’m already seeing things getting more emotional and some hurt feelings being generated, yet little to no progress toward agreement for the effort. It seems there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue, and we have seen some links to data enough that people who are reading this can hear the arguments and make up their own minds.

    Besides which, this is pretty far afield from the original topic. So I’m going to ask that we wind this down quickly. There are a couple more comments that I have to consider whether to post or moderate, and that may engender a reply or two, but let’s try to bring it to a civil end. Sometimes we just need to agree to disagree.

  • So what’s the beef with the masks, then? And I did not intent to imply that KS was engaging in conspiratorial thinking. There were other comments (including some comments from your source person, Berensen) that suggested required mask-wearing was part of some larger conspiracy to gain control of people through fear. I am trying to decouple the idea that people are promting fear (which they are) and the idea that wearing masks can reduce the passage of pathogens from one person to another (which they can).

  • Like I said, I know there is a lot of shimmy-shammy with the statistics. I think I noted way back that the death rates from other things dropped suddenly when COVID came in, most likely due to a preference for labeling deaths COVID-related (I think there was some financial incentive involved). I also remember the stuff about how the flu killed 60,000 a year, but we discovered that this was an “estimate” based on pneumonia deaths, and did not actually count flu deaths at all!

    But again, there IS a virus, it IS contagious, it is almost always spread with extended time together indoors through breathing, and it therefore makes a lot of sense to wear a mask indoors. If it doesn’t help, it doesn’t, but there is nothing irrational about the concept, nor is it a new idea invented to expand the “plandemic.” There is plenty of real conspiracy going on, and arguing about masks seems like a pretty useless distraction at this point. It makes as much sense to me as telling people not to cover their mouths when coughing because the CDC said we should.

  • I did not hear Kindred or anyone else saying this was not a political issue. I heard her specifically say that she understood there WAS politics going on but that politics does not cancel out basic precautions that are known to be effective. She pointed out the general recommendation of covering one’s mouth and nose when sneezing. Do you really think that recommendation is based on “conspiracy” to make people more anxious? Or is it based on the knowledge that people who are sneezing may be ill and possibly pass on a virus or bacterium to others? How big a leap is it from there to saying that selective mask-wearing could help protect individuals and slow the spread of the disease, regardless of how many scare tactics are in use?

    I absolutely think that political entities are using COVID to grind their own political grist, as they do with almost anything that comes up. It doesn’t mean COVID isn’t real or that masks have no effect. It seems irrational to me to assume that because people may be trying to scare us, that everything they say should be resisted. The proper approach is to discount scary but unsupported “data” from ANY source, and to research from real data and draw our own conclusions. I also think there are people who want to scare us about the possibility that COVID is an intentional “plandemic” and I find them just as non-credible as those who claim that it’s all from some bat crap on a piece of fruit that just happened to be in the same town as a wet lab working on making coronaviruses more virulent.

    We’re all getting lines of crap, and it’s coming from all directions. It’s time to calm ourselves down and return to “common sense” and rational discussion of actual data.

  • Of course, I don’t consider the CDC to be “scientific” – I think I made it clear I was talking about research, and that should havee been very obvious from my comments.



    This is from Vox, but cites and summarizes research directly, and appears quite rational, and even goes into how false research led people to believe that running past someone put them at risk:



    No harder to come by than Alex Berenson.

  • I don’t disagree at all that the mainstream media is primarily propaganda from the current elite and is not trustable. Which is why I said I use the internet to look at actual scientific studies and data rather than trusting anyone else’s interpretation of events. There are huge exaggerations and manipulations of data from both the “left” and the “right,” but mostly from those who have an interest in keeping control of society so they can make money.

    One of the things which makes me doubt that the release of COVID was planful is the fact that a lot of folks are losing money as a result. At the same time, the current surge in stock prices does suggest that some insider knowledge may exist that we don’t know about. But we will never know about that stuff for sure. What we CAN know is that there IS a virus and it IS contagious and we have some means of lessening the spread of it. That is not from the mainstream media, that is from direct research published in scientific journals. Most of the good stuff to argue against psychiatry’s insanity also comes from that kind of research. Of course, some of that is biased, but we are also capable as intelligent, rational humans to evaluate that as well.

    So perhaps I didn’t make myself clear: I don’t accept anything from a media source that interprets the data for me. I look at the data as best I can. The data does exist and can be located if one is persistent enough and can filter for conflicts of interest. Far better to do the research than to assume that no truth can be found because the MSM and others with their own agendas alter the data that is easiest to find.

  • I have to evaluate the information for myself. It doesn’t really matter to me if someone does or doesn’t want me to use a mask, I have to decide based on what I know about science and diseases and this particular disease. It is not a matter of “deciding who I believe.” But unfortunately, most people are not scentifically literate and don’t seem to have learned how to evaluate data. So they are depending on someone else to do their “evaluation” for them, and instead of deciding WHAT to believe based on data, they have to decide WHOM to believe, based on God knows what standard.

    Hence, we get “infowars” and “left-right” unresolvable arguments, because one person believes Person X who says “all psychiatrists are helpful people who are doing all they can to help humanity, despite a few mistakes” and others believe Person Y who says, “All psychiatrists are evil and they are the cause of all that is wrong with the world.” But neither person really KNOWS what psychiatrists do, so there is no real end to the argument, and it becomes easy for the powerful to dismiss antipsychiatry activists as “anti-scientific” despite evidence that they have no interest in following any scientific principles at all. Because they are doctors, after all, and so they should be trusted. And so on.

    So I revert to first principles: let me see the data. The data right now indicates that masks make little to no sense to enforce outdoors (unless you are in close proximity to someone who appears to be ill), whereas indoor mask wearing makes scientific sense, since we know that all the “superspreader” events involved indoor contact and that cumulative intake of “droplets” appears to be the means of transmission. I’ve stopped washing off surfaces unless they are already wet, I don’t wear gloves. I do wash my hands when making contact with a questionable person or surface based on my perception of what may or may not have been “shared” with me, just like I always have. I was advised to consider washing off my shoes after cleaning our bathrooms – I ignored this advice. I don’t do something because the CDC says so, I do it based on the data. I did not wear a mask initially, but have become persuaded by the data regarding how the virus is passed that masking does have a positive effect indoors. So I wear a mask while shopping, etc, and avoid being in indoor spaces with other potentially infected people for extended periods of time. That’s my analysis of the data collected so far.

    There ARE real scientists out there doing real work. They DO collect actual data. Some of it is hidden, some sensationalized, but with the internet, we can get back to the real source of the data. While I have no doubt whatsoever that lots of people are trying to manipulate this set of events for political or economic gain, and that we can’t trust any source without full vetting, I also know that COVID is a real thing and I neither want to get it nor to pass it along to anyone else whose immune system is less vigorous than my own.

    I think the real challenge that we have failed to meet is that this is a COMMUNITY problem, and we are an extremely selfish society. Calls to reduce selfishness and work together on finding workable solutions should be supported and not denigrated, and we should be evaluating what to do based on actual information, not on “theories” propounded by people who actually have a conflict of interest in getting power or money or attention for spreading “news” that is of a questionable nature. The fact that this encompasses a large proportion of our news media is discouraging, but should not prevent us from seeking out real data and acting on it.

  • I think the point, though, is whatever conspiracy might be behind it, COVID is a very real disease and can kill people. The point about masks seems to be a big stretch to associate with any conspiracy, as I hardly see how any international criminals will be served by people wearing surgical masks, besides which, they are recognized as a reliable way to reduce the spread of disease.

    Personally, I think the science says that outdoor transmission is practically nil, so arguing that people should wear masks while jogging in the park seem over the top. But big transmissions have happened in indoor spaces where people are in the same place for a longer time and where the air circulation is poor or recycled. So indoor masks are of value for both the user and for others possibly vulnerable to infection by a maskless person.

    There is a lot of hyperbole on both sides, but there are people doing real research, as there are on many subjects. While spreading fear certainly can be an intentional means of controlling voting behavior or preventing or encouraging certain mass activities, mask wearing seems sensible when applied to indoor spaces. I’m not sure how any “international conspiracy” could possibly be served by people wearing masks. But having people arguing about whether or not to wear them and creating political upset over this pretty minor issue most definitely COULD serve the purposes of these ostensible conspirators.

  • I would also remind everyone that a great number of people who eventually become antipsychiatry activists started out as “reformers.” I am one. People evolve over time, and I think that insisting on “ideological purity” does a lot of damage to progressive and radical causes. That is not to say that people should not be firmly educated regarding the truth about psych drugs and the DSM and the history of psychiatry as a “profession” and their knee-jerk refusal to consider any research data that conflicts with their incomes. But harshly criticizing people who are beginning to understand the destructiveness of the psychiatric system for not “getting it” tends to drive away people who have a real chance of “getting it” if nurtured toward that understanding.

    There are, of course, power issues involved that have nothing to do with reformism vs abolitionism, but I think these need to be dealt with as separate issues. My personal view is that anyone who thinks psychiatry as practiced is messed up, I welcome in for further discussion. And I try to find out why they think it’s a problem and what they think should be done about it before I start telling them where I want to see their thinking go. After all, we all agree that self-determination is a primary issue in any critique of psychiatry. I don’t think any movement is going to get where it needs to go if we don’t support the self-determination of adherents to the movement itself.

  • Remember the Helen Keller story? Told to us to show how “if we work hard enough, we can overcome adversity?” As it turns out, Helen Keller fought her whole adult life against that message, and in fact was a passionate advocate for workplace safety and other socialist issues, as she discovered that most blindness came from preventable accidents and poverty.

    “But there is much more to Helen Keller’s history than a brilliant deaf and blind woman who surmounted incredible obstacles. Helen Keller worked throughout her long life to achieve social change; she was an integral part of many important social movements in the 20th century. She was a socialist who believed she was able to overcome many of the difficulties in her life because of her class privilege—a privilege not shared by most of her blind or deaf contemporaries. “I owed my success partly to the advantages of my birth and environment,” she said. “I have learned that the power to rise is not within the reach of everyone.”


    Her story was intentionally turned around from the idea that she had privileges and protections that should be but are not extended to everyone, to “You can make it if you try hard – just look at poor Helen Keller.” There is active hostility toward the idea that success is largely moderated by privilege.

  • Oh, I’ve talked to more than a few psychiatrists who are convinced they are fixing brains, or that the brain is the cause of all forms of distress. The usual argument is, “It has to be, because if it’s not the brain, what is it?” A complete denial that a mind may be something that transcends the operations of the brain. I really do believe they are taught that, a reductionistic philosophy that disguises itself as “science.” Naturally, I’d love to do all I can to support the Kelly Brogans of the world who are trying to do something different, but they’ve got a lot of money and power aligned against them. But I really think removing the idea of mind=brain has to be central to undermining the mindless drugging and surgery that is proliferating under the guise of “treatment,” because if we are not “treating” problems in the body, the idea of drugs and surgery immediately stops making any sense at all.

  • It is true, people who get pulled into psychiatry are looking for something, some way to change or improve their lives. It is the deception and chicanery that characterizes psychiatry that is problematic. Lying to people in order to make money does not improve their mental/emotional/spiritual condition.

    It does seem to me that differentiating between treatments for the BODY need to clearly be separated from efforts to help someone make sense out of his/her life and be more effective in living. I think the term “mental illness” implies a “wrongness” that is pseudo-medical in nature, which is why I think we need to strongly object to the term. Offering someone help with “life goals” or “spiritual distress” or “dealing with the effects of historical trauma” allows for some differentiation in both apparent cause and in what approach might be taken. A person who is depressed due to having a dead-end job but being too finanically strapped to quit requires a very different approach than a person who is long-term depressed due to having been abused as a child and developing some unhealthy ways of avoiding further damage, and yet a different approach from someone who feels depressed due to a thyroid condition or anemia. I also believe that allowing/encouraging the person in need to both define the nature of their problem and to fully agree with the strategy to address the problem is going to be far more helpful than having someone “diagnose” him or her (absent any actual, objectively observable illness or injury). These things will not happen as long as “mental illness” is something handled in the medical system.

    There are also some major philosphical problems that are ignored or hidden by the DSM diagnostic process. The question of “what is the mind?” is one that no one really talks about. The psychiatrists assume the mind is the brain, and therefore they try to “fix the brain” by mechanical means, which makes as much sense as fixing a computer program by removing transistors or capacitors or deleting memory chips. But they are doctors (or claim to be), and doctors deal with bodies. If we are something more than a body, then we don’t need medical personnel dealing with our challenges in planning and executing our lives.

  • The term “ecotherapy” has an interesting effect on me. It feels like taking a normal activity that feels good and makes me happy and turns it into some kind of “treatment” for whatever “ailments” or “disorders” I might be having.

    I can more easily wrap my head around “ecopsychology,” because it suggests more of an understanding of how poor environments lead to feeling anxious or sad, and that respecting our need for nature and growing things is important to our welfare. Perhaps it is more appropriate to identify the damage done by forcing people to live in eco-poor environments, rather than to suggest that nature is some kind of “therapy” for those who can’t tolerate the stressful living conditions we “modern” humans are forced to put up with every day.

  • The “peer movement” was mostly created to undermine the “patients’ liberation” movement that was effectively undermining psychiatry’s bottom line in the 70s or so. They never did value “peers,” but they wanted to coopt those who were objecting by allowing them a limited role and paying them a little money. They gave the idea that “peers” would have an influence on policy and practice, but in reality, they were expected to toe the party line and not do anything “radical” like suggesting that people might be better off without “taking their meds.” That’s my read on the situation.

  • That’s the biggest problem of all I see with “the system.” No matter what great approaches are invented, no matter what level of training is offered, no matter what written expectations are, the staff have the power over the clients, and “power tends to corrupt” is a very true statement. “Mental health professionals” will say they are doing “Trauma informed care” or whatever, but simply continue their dominating way and put a veneer of “trauma informed care” over top of it. They can’t really ever be “trauma informed” until they are aware of and deal with both their own traumatic histories and the times they have traumatized others intentionally or inadvertently. And there are no real incentives to do this. Anyone with the proper degree(s) and/or credentials can become a “mental health professional.” There is no requirement of emotional stability or emotional availability or personal insight or sensitivity whatsoever. A jerk doing “WRAP” is going to be a jerk, no matter what you try to do to “train” him otherwise.

    As long as the power differential is there, any form of “therapy” can be potentially destructive.

  • I worked with a girl who was temporarily in residential “treatment” for issues having nothing to do with “depression,” even by their own loose standards. When she would spend a lot of time in her room reading, they said she was “isolating” and tried to force her to join the group in “voluntary” activities! It was ridiculous. She was fortunate to have an assigned advocate who stood up for her and to have a fairly strong ability to assert herself respectfully. I’m sure lots of other kids were criticized for “isolating” when they were just taking care of thesmselves in various ways. It was highly disrespectful!

  • That is very true. I also see “marketing” of surgeries and various drug interventions like anti-cholesterol drugs and flu shots and blood thinners and “ED” drugs and even botulism toxin injections to smooth out one’s wrinkles. It isn’t always for money specifically, either. Sometimes it is a need for their training and system to be “right” and to assert control over the patient. Which is one reason that nutritional approaches and chiropractors and acupuncturists get attacked by the mainstream – they are elbowing in on the MD’s control of the market. It’s not only financial, but also prestige and power that are at stake.

    The first thing I do when I meet any doctor I need something from is to explain to them that I’m an intelligent and well-educated individual and will be making my own decisions about what to do, which may or may not coincide with their expert advice. I’m paying them mostly for information and suggestions, but bottom line, it’s my body and I get to make the final call. And I let them know if they have a problem with this, I can find another practitioner. They almost always assure me that it’s my right to decide what I do, but I don’t think that happens with all of their patients. I think most doctors like to BELIEVE they are empowering or providing informed consent, but a lot of them don’t like to be questioned or contradicted by their patients and will use pressuring tactics and outright dishonesty sometimes to get the patient to do what they want. Of course, this is easiest and most pronounced in psychiatry, where there is no actual accountability for even defining the entity being “treated,” so they can say almost anything and can’t be “proven wrong.” But that kind of attitude is what makes US medicine more expensive and less effective than most other industrialized countries.

  • And so you see the true intentions of the “mental health professionals” you were dealing with. There is not any real interest in making people healthy in evidence there. As soon as you started threatening their control of the situation, their interest was in fact to stop you by any means possible. One can only conclude that their real intent was to maintain these people as “disabled patients” for as long as they could get away with it.

  • When I am speaking of marketing, I’m talking about the self-centered kind, where you have no concern for the truth but only for convincing the person to buy your product, regardless of the quality. This is different than couching one’s message in terms the other person can understand. But it’s a slippery slope as soon as one starts assuming one knows better than the subject what is or is not going to be helpful. Educating about real ideas can certainly require a certain about of framing or consideration of the other person’s ability to receive the message. But that is different in my mind from knowing that something is false and attempting to convince someone otherwise by manipulative means. And if you think about it, even if something IS helpful, if a person feels coerced or manipulated into doing it, they’re not usually going to be able to realize the benefits, are they? Compared to a situation where they drew their own conclusions from the honest data?

  • I’d say the first problem is seeking a “treatment for depression.” This assumes that “depression” is the problem and that all people having “depression” have the same thing wrong with them and need the same “treatment.” I certainly don’t know enough about you to say what you might need or benefit from in terms of intervention, but “depression” has multiple possible causes that vary from past abuse/neglect/trauma to dietary problems to physiological issues like thyroid malfunction or Lyme Disease to current life circumstances like domestic abuse or a job you hate to existential questions about the meaning of life. Everyone is different, and the idea there is one “cause” for depression is a myth created by psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry in the interest of selling their wares.

    This is not to say that antidepressants or any other intervention can’t be felt to be workable by a particular person. It’s more that pretending that you have a medical problem when they actually have not the slightest idea what, if anything, is wrong with you is never going to lead to any real solutions. If you think about it, drinking controlled amounts of alcohol can and does provide direct relief from intense anxiety, and frankly with fewer side effects than the benzodiazepines so readily prescribed for that “diagnosis.” But drinking alcohol would never be considered a “treatment” for anything, and benzodiazepines should not be, either. They are just a drug people take that makes them temporarily feel better. Unless you really understand what is causing the anxiety, there is no “treatment plan” that will predictably handle the problem. There are drugs that create all kinds of effects, some desirable, some undesirable, some desirable to people dealing with the “problem person” while undesirable to that person him/herself.

    So I don’t think there is a simple answer to your question. Every person is different. But I think telling people that they have a “chemical imbalance” or that something is wrong with their brains is utterly irresponsible and lends to further feelings of depression and hopelessness.

    I say this as a person who has struggled plenty with depression in my life, including feeling suicidal at times. I no longer feel depressed most of the time, and have learned to recognize when I’m going down that path and have things I can do to redirect my attention and behavior into a new route. For me, things that helped have been meditation, caring friends, inspiring work that forced me to face my fears, real talk therapy (none of this “evidence based practice” crap, just a real person who got interested in my life and helped me realize some things about my family and my own way of thinking about the world), self-help books, exercise, and creative activities like singing, home film making, and the like. Others will have their own approaches. You can develop one, as well. Maybe it will continue to include antidepressants. Maybe it won’t. That’s your call. But the beginning of wisdom is realizing that the psychiatric profession has nothing else to offer but their speculative “disorders” and their pharmaceuticals, and there are SO many other things that can be done! It starts by recognizing that you are not “treating an illness,” but dealing with a life circumstance that has its reasons for being there, whether they are physiological, psychological, or spiritual in nature.

    Best of luck to you in finding your path!


  • It seems you consider the facts I’ve presented as “arguments.” They are not. What I have presented are scientific conclusions arrived at by psychiatry’s own researchers, clear statements made by psychiatry’s own spokespersons, and hard facts about how the DSM is put together. None of these things are my opinions. They are all known to be true from research or from direct statements from unbiased participants. Actually, in the case of Pies, a participant highly biased in favor of psychiatry, who still admits there is no “chemical imbalance” and attributes this idea’s promotion to the pharmaceutical industry, and asserts that psychiatry has never supported this claim (though there is also plenty of evidence that they have done so vigorously).

    Have you read Anatomy of an Epidemic? It sounds like you have not. I’d strongly suggest you do so if you want to undestand what is going on here. There is plenty of research supporting a view questioning the validity of the psychiatric worldview.

    If you have, as you state, scientific evidence of the ability to identify and detect “chemical imbalances,” I would be very interested in reading these studies. I’ve been studying this area for decades and have found nothing but the most circumstantial “evidence” presented on this, and as I’ve stated, even the psychiatric community is now backing away from these claims as being, at best, “simplistic.”

    It is true that everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, but we’re not entitled to our own facts. I would like to discuss the actual research you’re talking about. If you choose not to, that’s your choice, but I absolutely do not accept the characterization that I am “anti-science” simply because I don’t agree with your point of view.

    I wish you well.

  • I’d be interested to hear where you’re saying that people are being anti-scientific. I believe it is very much possible to feel that psychiatric drugs are USEFUL to you without accepting that you have a “chemical imbalance” or that the drugs are actually “fixing” anything wrong with your brain.

    I like your comment that the environment and the brain/body are interacting all the time and affecting each other, and that early trauma does sometimes lead to alterations in the operation of the brain. What most people do NOT know is that the “decade of the brain” was also the time of discovery of “neuroplasticity”, or the idea that the brain can adapt later in life, including the idea that the brain can and does adapt in POSITIVE ways to a positive environment. Psychiatry has grabbed onto only the half of the story that suits them, and portrays that a “broken brain” from childhood can only be “fixed” with their drug interventions. This is NOT science, this is a marketing ploy. Science tells us that brains are not “broken” by trauma, but that they adapt to survive in the environment they are in, so the real key to healthy brains is healthy environments.

    Additionally, the DSM “diagnoses” (I’m sure you’ve been given some of these over time) are also NOT scientifically determined, but are voted on in committees, and are based on subjective evaluations of another person which are ripe for bias and discrimination to enter in. There is no test for any “chemical imbalance” in anyone’s brain, nor even a concept of what a normal “balance” would look like. Mainstream psychiatrists like Ronald Pies and Thomas Insel have acknowledged this, and Pies called the chemical imbalance theory an “urban legend” that no well-informed psychaitrist takes seriously. Yet you have clearly been told that you have a “chemical imbalance,” even though no one knows that such a thing exists. This, again, is not scientific, and opposing it is not anti-scientific.

    So while many views expressed her are not accepted by the psychiatric mainstream, my experience is that folks here are MUCH more interested and committed to science than the psychiatric industry itself, and that’s a gigantic understatement. This may be hard for you to believe, and I can certainly see how the statements made here seem shocking and out of line with what you’ve been told. But I encourage you to read some of the articles, especially the scientific research articles. There is solid scientific research showing that antidepressants increase rather than decrease the suicide rate, that people diagnosed with “schizophrenia” do better in the long run the less “antipsychotics” they take, that twin studies don’t actually prove any genetic heritability of any “mental illness,” and that labeling someone with DSM “diagnoses” increases rather than decreases the “stigma” that they experience, both from their own view and from other people’s treatment. All of these things are scientifically shown to be true. It sounds odd, but to find out what is scientific, you have to start by unlearning whatever you’ve been told about “mental illnesses” and “medication” and “diagnoses” and start over with an open mind, looking at the actual data. You may still draw the same conclusions in the end, but the psychiatric profession has some gigantic conflicts of interest that make them a very unreliable source of information.

    Hope that helps a bit. I’m really interested to hear what parts you find “anti-science.” It should be an interesting discussion if we all are respectful and keep open minds.

  • For me, it gets down to genuineness. A person can use a lot of different ways to express regret that they have harmed you, whether accidentally or intentionally. I have no button on “sorry” per se, but it is often used in insincere ways. Something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” isn’t really acknowledging any causal responsibility on the part of the speaker, whereas something like, “I’m really sorry you’re feeling hurt – it wasn’t my intention, and I want to understand what I did that hurt you,” would come off as a person who really regrets his/her action. So the term “sorry” isn’t really the issue for me, it’s whether the person is interested in understanding my experience and making sure it doesn’t happen again, or is just “apologizing” without really recognizing what happened or having any intention of doing anything differently should the same situation arise in the future.

    There is also a very legitimate use of “sorry” in the sense of, “I’m so sorry to hear you had to go through all that shit!” Or “I’m sorry to hear that you were treated disrespectfully.” This works OK for me if the person has taken the time to hear and understand my story and is acknowledging the pain/frustration or whatever involved. But it can be a slippery slope. “I’m sorry that happened to you” or “I’m sorry things didn’t work out the way you wanted” can come across as dismissive or condescending.

    Bottom line, to me, it’s about the sincerity of the message, not the specific words used. But others may feel differently.

  • Agreed. There is nothing more to expose, and they are not interested in “facts.” They want to keep their power and their money, and no number of studies will change that. If they cared about science, they’d have stopped doing it long, long ago.

  • “Messaging” is marketing. The public should not be “given a message,” they should be given the truth, in terms they are able to understand and personally digest. “Messaging” is already a move into authoritarian thinking, that we should tell people the things that make them do what we want instead of just informing them of what we know and don’t know and allowing them to make adult decisions about how to proceed.

  • I often use the car accident analogy – if people at a certain streetcorner are being hit by cars at a high rate, and only 35% of them break bones in the process, do we diagnose those people whose legs break with”brittle bone disorder” and try to find out why, or do we put in a stop sign or traffic controls to ensure fewer people get injured?

  • I’d suggest that the American Psychiatric Association and their “opinion leaders” are the ones who are trying to control the narrative, along with their friends in the pharmaecutical industry. That’s an oversimplification, but what it comes down to is that there are people whose salary depends on promoting the label-and-drug model in the biggest possible way, and such people are not the least interested in learning anything about the actual needs of individuals, and in fact will argue in the most intense and irrational ways about how “wrong” anyone is who questions their paradigm. The recent Phil Hickey article critiquing Ron Pies and his associate gives a little meat to that comment.

    I don’t quite get what you mean by “Unselor” still.

  • The fact that you are able to say, “Of course I could be wrong…” puts you miles ahead of many others. I think that humility is the core of being a good helper, because it’s the only antidote to the power imbalance. We have to each realize the potential damage we can do and how possible or even likely it is that we will misapprehend things, so that we are constantly checking and re-checking things to make sure we’re on the right track and continuing to be helpful.

    I am certainly not in any place to say someone is “born with” the ability to connect or if it is learned over time or more likely “unlearned” (I like your point about too MUCH training – people can get very invested in their group’s agreement as to what is going on). There are also financial incentives involved for a lot of people in the “mental health” industry that make the idea of the client having his/her own ideas about what is the right thing to do rather threatening. And there is also internal pressure from those who have such conflicts of interests upon clinicians to maintain the status quo. General education in life can be a big counter to our inappropriate concepts and training, but I have no idea how to specifically train someone to be compassionate.

    A good example would be “cultural competency training.” There ARE people who benefit from such training, but these are generally people who are already oriented toward wanting to create that kind of environment. Those who are committed to NOT being culturally competent, for whatever reasons, tend to avoid such trainings like the plague. And if they are forced to go, they go under protest and generally make fun of the process. There may be one or two here or there whose eyes are opened by the process, in which case, I’d say it’s well worth it, but the bulk of people attending are going to trend they way they’ve always trended, because they’re not motivated to do differently.

    Can you “train” a person with deeply-held racist views not to be racist? Most of the time, no. Can you train a person who sees “the mentally ill” as someone beneath them on the scale of life, who doesn’t understand what he needs and requires the pateralistic wisdom of his/her counselor/psychiatyrist, to see that person as a person instead of “a schizphrenic” or “having ADHD?” I’d say usually not.

    So training for sure has value, but only if some preconditions are met. And if those preconditions are NOT met, training people on techniques or skills or whatever is going to have a limited effect. I wish there were a way to train people to be more sensitive. Perhaps the only real answer on that line is for the person to do his/her own healing to the point where s/he can recognize when his/her own issues are getting in the way, and can differentiate between the counselor’s needs and those of the client. But the person would have to recognize that need before such healing could even begin.

    Or another way to say it: disempowered counselors are not going to be able to empower their clients. As long as we have to subordinate ourselves to some control system, whether external or internal, that tells us how we have to do or think about things, we won’t be able to be flexible and sensitive enough to know what will be helpful to the client.

  • It very much sounds like the right idea (see my other post). However, you already have seen at least one person who can not process whaet you’re talking about. I don’t think it’s likely because they lack training. I think it’s likely because they lack the perspective and strength of character, or have not done sufficient work on their own issues, or come from a strongly authoritarian viewpoint, such that the idea of the client finding his/her own path seems impossible to imagine. I could be wrong, of course – maybe a round of training in IFS would open her eyes. But I would bet you a whole bunch of money that if you took 100 psychiatrists and put them through intensive IFS training, at least 95 of them would be completely unmoved in their views on what the human mind is capable of. Fixed ideas don’t yield to training very easily, and people’s vulnerability is generally their first and most important concern. Given the ability to use one’s power to protect oneself vs. opening up one’s mind and being vulnerable to feeling confused and wrong and hurt, etc., the vast majority of folks will choose protecting themselves every time. I think this is particularly true for the field of psychiatry, which pre-selects people who already see their roles as “fixing” other people’s brains. Maybe if you could get to them when they’re still undergrads, you’d catch a few more, but most of the psychiatrists I’ve known over the years would die on the hilltop of “drugs are the answer” before yielding to any counseling concept, let alone one which emphasizes empowering the patient to make his/her own choices.

    That’s my experience, anyway. It sounds like IFS might be a wonderful thing to learn and develop from, but it would be profoundly threatening to the psychiatric establishment, and would be rejected out of hand by a large percentage of those in control of the industry.

  • I am saying that training in and of itself is neither necessary nor sufficient to make someone a competent counselor, if that’s the term we want to use. Naturally, a person who has the gifts/understandings necessary to connect with someone else can benefit from some wisdom and experience that others have gleaned from their own efforts. But no amount of training can teach a person how to connect emotionally and safely with another person. Someone can use all the “I” statements in the world, and to do “active listening” and to follow all the precepts of DBT or CBT or whatever and still be incompetent or totally destructive as a counselor. You can actually use the skills taught in your training to give someone the idea you CAN be trusted, and after they share with you their deep secrets, you find your own issues get engaged and you get annoyed or bossy with them or turn cold or send them off for antidepressants and you have SCREWED them over. A person would be MUCH better off seeing right up front that a person doesn’t really care about them than to have the person learn “skills” that make it seem like they care more than they do.

    So sure, one can train in skills. But it doesn’t make you a counselor/helper, and it can make you more dangerous. And a person who has zero training and excellent empathy can actually CREATE skills and approaches or help the CLIENT create such skills and strategies him/herself! Becuase they start with UNDERSANDING the person in front of them rather than seeing the client through some clinical “lens” or applying some “evidence-based practice” in a mechanical or robotic fashion without being able to observe the needs of the client or the effect of the intervention on him/her.

    Setting up a patient/client relationship sets up a power imbalance automatically from the word go. The number of people who can operate in such a situation without taking advantage of their power is, in my experience, pretty small compared to the number of people selling “clinical services.” I recall a study telling us that a person is just as likely to experience relief/improvement talking to a good friend than to a counselor. I find this very easy to believe, because the degree and training confer no assurance that the person is competent or caring, and a caring friend is a far better resource, however untrained they may be, than a supercilious or insensitive “counselor.”

  • I have to agree with you. I don’t think anyone can be “trained” to be a counselor/advisor/mnetor in more than the most rudimentary way. There is a presence that a person can adopt with me that is healing, and that presence has mostly to do with being willing to be there and accept who I am and genuinely respond to me as one person to another without putting me in the position of having to edit or explain or justify my own thoughts and feelings. There is no “technique” involved, no “method” that one could emulate, no “treatment plan” involved – it is simply the proper mindset and attitude of being present and caring and being willing to experience whatever is coming up and in fact NOT knowing or deciding what all of it means or what the helping person should DO with it. I think this has to be experienced directly, and some people are not really able to do it for whatever reason, no matter what training they receive, and others seem to come by it naturally without any training at all. I’m not saying it can’t be learned, but it’s not something you can teach someone else, like how to repair a car or make a recipie. It’s not some kind of “program” you can put in a manual – it requires genuine outreach of one human to another and a willingness to be vulnerable and to NOT know ahead of time “what to do.” We need to ditch the idea that getting a PhD or whatever makes anyone any better than anyone else in the realm of caring!

  • I am amazed that they can write this stuff seriously! Especially the stuff about how “anxiety disorders” are shown to CAUSE anxiety and are not mere labels, yet in the same sentence state that the anxiety could be caused by any number of very different things. It seems they disproved their own statement by the end of the paragraph, yet did not seem to notice.

  • I agree – removing the incentives for lying and minimizing adverse effects and overblowing “positive” results is the real game here. If you pay people more when they lie, a lot more people will lie. Also, taking away Big Pharma’s power to influence academic research is very “do-able” but would require a lot of piggies to remove their snouts from the trough, and we’ll hear a LOT of unpleasant squealing if we do that!

  • I like that example and have used it myself. What if we dianosed kids who aren’t good at sports with “athletic deficit disorder.” It would be “treatable” with stimulants, too! Stimulants would improve athletic performance, speed, quickness, concentration, intensity… what would parents and teachers have to say if stimulants were recommended “treatment” to make kids better at sports?

  • Repeated failed attempts to prove something scientifically is the definition of DISPROVING that very thing. If these psychaitric “professionals” were truly scientific, they’d realize their experiment was successful – they have successfully proven that none of these “diagnoses” have a physiological cause or even correlation. Convincingly proven.

    Which leaves us with the sad conclusion that they are not scientists at all. I think they are mostly either dupes or marekting agents.

  • And “progress” includes reducing lifespans by 25 years on average for the “seriously mentally ill.” More “treatment” seems to lead to shorter lives. Where else in medicine would this be remotely acceptable?

    Just for the record, though, the “medical model” has deep roots that go back at least to Kraepelin and probably long before. I think the DSM III just codified the ‘medical model’ and launched the most complete takeover of the “mental health” industry by doctors in history. But doctors back in the 19th century still had an investment in the idea of biological causation, which meshed very tightly with the eugenics movement, of which psychiatry was always an integral part.

  • “Fritz et al. propose transdiagnostic interventions that can “correct” these disruptions.”

    If interventions need to be “transdiagnostic,” then what is the point of having a diagnosis? Isn’t the whole point of a diagnosis to figure out what’s going on and what plan to make to address the cause? If a diagnosis doesn’t tell you how to intervene, it needs to be trashed! Which pretty much means the entire DSM.

    This whole set of ideas is ridiculously complex! A good scientific theory should make things easier to understand. It seems like a very complicated effort to “explain” the DSM “diagnoses” that really don’t merit explanation. There is no need to do intense gymnastics to try and make these false concepts “work.” Just admit they don’t, and start over, preferably by ditching the whole idea of “mental illness” and “psychopathology” for starters.

  • If I had to gamble on psychiatrist vs. library assistant on helping me with my “mental health,” I’d definitely start with the library assistant. At a minimum, they are trained to help people find what they want rather than deciding what book the peson “needs” to read and trying to force or manipulate them into reading it.

  • Commenting as moderator:

    I do see some importance in this line of discussion, but I also do see things getting a little personal on both sides, to the point that I was considering how best to intervene. I think we need to stick to the concepts and move away from more personalized comments that seem to accuse the other commenters of insincerity or mean-spiritedness. There is plenty of room in the general concept of “socialism” in our society for lots of confusion and different viewpoints. Perhaps if each person can simply discuss what definition they are operating from, it would be more productive than trying to state or imply that the other person’s definition is “wrong?”

  • This is one of the most extreme dangers (of many) regarding the idea of DSM “diagnoses.” Once they decide on a psych label, they stop looking, as if the label somehow explains anything relating to WHY you are having these difficulties. The book itself says it makes no representations as to cause, and yet, once that label comes down, they think they “know” all about it and stop looking for anything else. It is incredibly destructive, as you unfortunately now know from direct experience!

  • Sadly, and predictably, no one really ever studies the long-term effects of these drugs. So it’s hard to say. But most people I’ve talked to who take these drugs, especially if it’s not for a long period of time, report at least some significant recovery after stopping. There are exceptions to that, but most get back to some semblance of “normal functioning” over time.

    What issues are you struggling with that you think may be related to the Zyprexa?

  • Gotta watch the psychologists, too. Many are wannabe psychiatrists who believe fully in the “biological brain disease” concept, especially for “schizophrenia” or “bipolar” diagnoses. If you are looking for a therapist who might have a chance of being really helpful, start by finding one who firmly believes the DSM is a useless doorstop and is more interested in what YOU think you need than in slapping some label on you. Just being a psychologist is no guarantee you won’t be routed down the same label-and-drug pathway!

  • “Forced” and “help” in the case of mental/emotional issues are contradictory. The presence of force belies any purported intention to “help.” At best, you are stopping someone from doing something that you don’t think they should do. But many other and worse things happen as soon as you decide that you get to decide what “help” another person should get. There is no such thing as “involuntary treatment.”

  • You’d have to be in denial to take up the sword for psychiatry. The “mentally ill people commit more suicide” trope is easily debunked, because most every trial ever done removes suicidal people from the pool before starting the trials. So there should actually be FEWER suicidal people in the trial than the general population, and an increase in suicide rates is even MORE condemning of the drugs. Besides, that’s the whole point of the control group. They are “mentally ill” too, and commit suicide at a lower rate. That’s all you need to know, except if you don’t WANT to know.

  • In fact, there are many situations where the emotion involved is quite logical and necessary. If one is being chased by a bear and does NOT experience fear, absent a VERY powerful shotgun or other effective weapon, NOT feeling fear would be quite illogical!

  • It helps temporarily to drink a couple of beers after work, but I don’t think we can call it “healing” quite!

    You’re absolutely right – in the realm of the mind, there is no “healing” through drugs. The idea of using drugs rests on the hard materialist assumption that the only thing “wrong” with a person must be a physical thing, and the elitist assumption that anything that doesn’t indicate full agreement with the current status quo is de facto a ‘disease’ that needs “healing.” Both assumptions are extremely dangerous!

  • I agree. It is only a “controversy” because certain people continue to make money from this destructive and barbaric act. Seizures aren’t good for you, folks. Why should anyone have to “prove” that fact? Those proposing intentionally invoking seizures by electrocution better have some pretty AMAZING data proving what wonderful benefits exist to justify damaging someone’s brain and life in this way. And we know they don’t. So where is the “controversy?” Whether or not we should harm our patients for profit?

  • Well, of course, there are medical issues that affect someone’s mind/behavior/emotions. These ARE real medical problems that a physician should deal with. Equally obvious, the system of “disorders” prevents the differentiation between actual medical issues and mental/emotional/spiritual issues which have little to nothing to do with any kind of medical problem at all.

  • It is aimed very much at detecting Romantic Jerks. But a lot of the principles do apply to other Jerks, particularly the tendency to blame others for one’s own shortcomings, the tendency to charm someone into agreement before altering the terms unilaterally, and the tendency to group people into those who are above or below each other in the hierarchy of life (not to mention a strong need to make up or blindly follow the rules of such a hierarchy and enforce them on those the person sees as “beneath them” on the ladder of life.) And perhaps the most important – we get a kind of a sick or uncomfortable feeling around such people, which we often try to explain away to ourselves. Lots of it is very applicable, though hopefully their sexual behavior doesn’t come into play!

    Thanks for the words of support!

  • I think the psychiatric industry is deeply threatened by anything that actually has a chance of working, and the more it humanizes the “mentally ill,” the more threatening they seem to find it. Their response to “Open Dialog” is pretty solid proof of this. 80% success without drugs should be considered a miracle, but it is relegated to a fringe approach that no serious psychiatrist can take seriously without being attacked by his/her compatriots. I think that says a lot about the actual purposes of the psychiatric “profession.”

  • Well, certainly. It is not the individuals per se but the structure that is abusive. I have worked with these folks and know well that there are some sane or at least semi-sane individuals who do this work. And I’m not opposed to the concept of “healers.” I just don’t think that it has much if anything to do with medical “treatment” in most cases. But I think you’ll agree with me on that point.

  • The answer to the question of “what happened to ‘radical psychiatry'” is contained in the question. It was, of course, rubbed out by “real psychiatry,” which could no more be “radical” than water can be dehydrated. Psychiatry is based on oppressive assumptions, and the only “radical psychiatry” possible would be to oppose psychiatry itself. Now that WOULD be pretty radical, but would it any longer be “psychiatry?” I would say not. Why not be a “radical empowerer of the downtrodden” instead of a “radical psychiatrist” and eliminate the inherent contradiction in the terms?

  • True words. Unfortunately, we have mostly been exposed heavily to indoctrination most of our lives and are pretty used to it. Plus, stepping outside of the “normal” viewpoint can be dangerous, including being labeled “mentally ill” and being punished for diverging too far from “acceptable” emotions or behavior, even if nothing you say or do is really a danger to anyone else’s rights. The entire school system is pretty much all about indoctrination from start to finish. Why it is that I somehow escaped the worst of it remains a bit mysterious to me, but I now realize that the “problems” I had in school were mostly due to me maintaining my integrity and not going along with the crowd. It takes courage to educate and empower, because we have to have faith that the other person has the capacity to think and reason sufficiently to observe reality with reasonable acuity. Certainly, schools lack that courage in the overewhelming majority of cases.

    Glad to know there are some of us working for the same goals, though!

  • I tend to focus on a person by person effort to educate and empower, attempting to consolidate and group together with people of like mind. I think we’d both agree that people have a right to make their own decisions about things, as long as that right doesn’t run afoul of the rights of others. So trying to indoctrinate people into any “right way of thinking” is ultimately doomed. The only effective approach appears to be to help each person see things in a new light and to assert their own truth and follow the path that seems rationally and spiritually right for them to follow. But it’s a lot of work, and it takes time, and the opposition has no compunction about indoctrination and brainwashing! I suppose we have got to find each other and support each other in expanding people’s understanding of people and of sanity, and to build a stronger and stronger base of rational and respectful group ideals, but society is improved in a pretty gradual manner, while it can be wrecked quite precipitously. I get discouraged sometimes!

  • ““To this day we continue to disproportionately incarcerate black people and coerce them into treatment. Moreover, if you are black you are more likely to die under restraint whilst receiving mental health care than if you are white.”

    Maybe the first action should be to look in the mirror and see how your profession is structured to maintain oppressive conditions and excuse the oppressors while “diagnosing” the oppressed. Or would that be too simple?

  • This is so utterly blatant and predictable. And I don’t believe it is a choice of “easy” vs. “effective” in most cases. It is a choice of “making money” vs. “makinig a lot less or no money,” at least in the USA. Providing “no treatment” not only makes doctors feel less valuable, it means they can’t bill for their continuing “services” to their drug-dependent patients. Hence, WORSE outcomes mean MORE MONEY for the doctors, so the science has no impact, because improved outcomes (consciously or unconsciously) don’t appear to be the goal of many if not most psychiatric practitioners. Otherwise, they’d be excited to learn about this kind of thing instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.

  • Yeah, it doesn’t really mean anything to be “diagnosed” with a “personality disorder.” I’m just saying that it has no more meaning than calling someone an “asshole.” I’ve actually been very fond of a lot of people who have gotten “borderline” “diagnoses” in the past. I put no weight on them. I’d be more inclined to say things like, “This person has a hard time trusting others” or “he likes to exert power over people arbitrarily.” This is a more realistic way to talk, such that others could compare notes or agree or disagree or work together to come to a better understanding of a particular person and his/her motivations. Labeling stops the discussion at the label, and I don’t like any of them, whether you say “asshole” or “narcissistic personality.” It’s all just opinion posing as fact.

  • I agree that we can all do a PERSONAL evaluation by talking to someone, but obtaining agreement in a society as to who is considered “antisocial” and who is not is a more challenging process. There would have to be agreement as to specific acts which are taken that qualify someone as a danger to society, which should, of course, be enshrined in rational laws and social mores regarding behavior. The unfortunate fact is that “antisocial” people, as you describe them, are often part of creating said laws, which means that people who are genuinely productive get attacked, while those creating havoc are too often rewarded, particularly if they are privileged in the power structure. Our current national government is proof of this point. “Narcissistic” people are grossly overrepresented in US CEOs, according to my research.

    Additionally, some “antisocial” people are pretty crafty, and you and I may be trained to recognize them, but others less savvy are too easily taken in by their “charming” behavior. (That’s what my book, “Jerk Radar,” is all about.) To teach everyone to recognize them is a Herculean task. I think it is more realistic to expect those who are able to detect them to work to rid the world of their influence by education and collective action and leadership. But it’s a tough row to hoe!

  • Saying someone has a “personality disorder” is very similar to saying “he’s an asshole.” It has exactly that degree of scientific validity, but it’s certainly possible to look at someone and observe that s/he commits a lot of criminal acts and decide that s/he needs to be removed from society or stopped in some other way. It’s the conflation with “mental illness” and “diagnosis” that creates the problem.

  • As often happens, the authors are way too careful in their analysis. The title should not say “misleading” but “false” beliefs, and the attribution of responsibility to drug companies belies their own data that doctors who are fully aware of the science about both placebo and withdrawal effects continue to prescribe despite their knowledge. This suggests that the problem is not merely with pharmaceutical companies nor with academic interests alone, but that many individual psychiatrists are themselves corrupt, most likely receiving either direct kickbacks or gifts and perks provided for prescribing sufficient numbers of a particular drug, or else establishing some kind of prestige in their profession for supporting this kind of narrative, in contravention of the facts. It is apparent from this research that knowing the facts does not deter psychiatrists from believing whatever belief serves them best. So it is a much bigger problem than insufficient medical education. It comes down to an entire profession committed to a false narrative, and knowing on some level that backing away from full support for these beliefs that they KNOW to be false will lead to the collapse of their profession and their personal prestige and wealth.

  • I agree with you, stigma and discrimination do emanate from the society at large, and the society needs correction. Unfortunately, psychiatrists, on the whole, rather than helping demystify and normalize emotional distress and behavioral difficulties, appear to have doubled down on labeling and stigmatizing those who don’t “fit in” to our society. There is scientific proof that assigning biological causation to “mental illnesses,” as you are clearly promoting, INCREASES stigma and discrimination, while framing them as reactions to stressful events DECRASES stigma and increases empathy for the victims of trauma and social stresses.

    GIven that there is not one “mental disorder” that has a physical cause or even a physical CORRELATION associated with all or most “cases,” and given that these “disorders” are all defined by social criteria which are based on the very social assumptions and stigma you are trying to elminiate, it seems a lot more sane to frame “mental disorders,” if we need to define them as such, as common reactions to stress and trauma.

    Since we know that the current system supports and increases stigma and discrimination, what do you suggest be changed in the system to ameliorate that? Can you see ways in which psychiatry itself is contributing to the stigmatization?

  • Appalling! Very much like Kindergarten, except we didn’t have to take drugs and weren’t labeled as malfunctioning. They at least recognized that we were children, not robots.

    It seems particularly ironic when they tell you on the one hand that you have no control over your symptoms, only the drugs can help, and yet they punish you for failing to participate or to control your behavior in the way they want you do. Which is it people?

  • You really think that any drug that has an effect is somehow neuroprotective???? Improvement is not a sign of neuroprotection. Look it up. Alcohol is very effective at reducing anxiety. Does that mean drinking alcohol is “neuroprotective?”

    I’m not doing your research for you. You obviously don’t have any research to hand and have simply swallowed up what someone wrote or said in your training classes. I’m not interested in hearing quotations from your “abnormal psych” professor. Come up with some real data or drop it.

  • Once again, your views are equated with scientific truth. Just saying things don’t make them true. If we want to have dueling personal experiences, I have helped people who have “severe suicidal ideations” to huge turnarounds in their lives with no assistance from any drugs whatsoever. I’ve also talked to many people who have taken drugs and become MORE suicidal, or suicidal for the first time ever in their lives, and it went away when they stopped.

    The scientific evidence is strong that antidepressants DO NOT prevent or reduce suicides, and they likely increase the probability on the average. Perhaps you simply lack the skills to help these people, which is not a black mark for you, just a fact. But claiming that the fact you can’t help them means that nobody else can is very much an arrogant and self-centered viewpoint. A little humility might be a good starting point, rather than simply stating your opinions louder and louder when actual scientific data goes against your viewpoint.

  • That is an interesting statement. You understand that scientific analysis of the data from multiple studies has shown that there is an increase in suicide for those on antidepressants over placebo. Perhaps you don’t understand that the people in these studies are screened for suicidality before the studies begin. So these are people who were NOT suicidal who BECAME suicidal during the study. This was so clear that the US FDA demanded that a black box warning be put onto the label. And yet you state your BELIEF that suicidality is not caused by antidepressants? How do you expect to have the slightest credibility when making such statements of faith that directly contradict scientific data? Because of your personal observations, you get to invalidate actual scientific studies?

    Don’t bother responding if you’re going to continue just telling us you’re right because you say so.

  • They are also frequentely accused of assault and sometimes charged criminally, especially in institutional settings, when they react defensively to what is actually an assault by the staff. Any time a staff person lays hands on a person, any defensive reactions should be considered expected and understandable efforts to defend one’s person from attack. It is a manifestation of the power imbalance between patient and staff that the staff can assault patients with impunity and yet any attempt by a patient/resident to defend him/herself is automatically considered an assault.

  • Your point is very well taken! There is no such thing as “rights for the mentally ill,” they are the same rights everyone else has. The question is why they are not regualrlly afforded to those labeled as “mentally ill,” and why the failure to enforce them doesn’t seem to bother people too much. It is an issue of prejudice and discriination, not of a lack of “rights” under the law.

  • There is really nothing “scientific” about the idea that the mind is synonymous with the brain. It’s a philosophical position posing as a scientific one. A real scientific approach would be to postulate what would predictably result if the mind WERE inside the brain and what would predictably result if it were NOT insde the brain, and then start reasoning from your observations. But since no one can truly define WHAT the mind is, let alone WHERE it resides, the proper scientific knowledge in the sphere is simply, “We don’t know.”

  • From the article you link:

    “These results suggested a differential effect of antipsychotic agents on BDNF levels inpatients with schizophrenia. Peripheral BDNF may play a role in the disease process of a subset ofpatients, related to the use of antipsychotic agents”

    The authors are talking about a “differential effect” with SOME patients, and it says it “MAY play a role,” so not clearly established. There is nothing about protection from harm to the brain in this link, so claims of “neuroprotectiveness” are not shown by this link.

    Additionally, we’d need to know what kind of ostensible damage naturally happens in cases of “schizophrenia,” which is, of course, extremely problematic in that there is no objective way to diagnose who “has schizophrenia” and who does not, so any study on “schizophenia” may be and is most likely being done on heterogeneous populations, making any claims of neurological damage due to “schizophrenia” moot, let alone claims of “neuroprotectiveness.”

    Such a well educated person as you must certainly be aware that even mainstream psychiatry has questioned the validity of schizophrenia as a concept: https://theconversation.com/the-concept-of-schizophrenia-is-coming-to-an-end-heres-why-82775

    Of course, we DO know for certain at this point that “antipsychotic” drugs, formerly known as “major tranquilizers” and “neuroleptics,” do actually CAUSE brain damage, in that they create a loss of grey matter over time (on the average): “Viewed together with data from animal studies, our study suggests that antipsychotics have a subtle but measurable influence on brain tissue loss over time, suggesting the importance of careful risk-benefit review of dosage and duration of treatment as well as their off-label use.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3476840/

    I find it a bit hard to see the argument that something which reduces grey matter volume in the brain (the actual NEURONS are less dense!) is somehow “neuroprotective.” In fact, the mechanism of “synaptic pruning” is well known in studies of long-term street drug users, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the exact same process occurs when other psychiatric drugs that mess with neurotransmitter levels are used. Hardly an indication of protection of the brain from damage.

    Sorry, you’ll have to do a lot better than that to have any credibility in this quarter.

    As for your suggestion regarding antidepressants, I can only refer to the best insult in the history of film, from the Wizard of Oz:

    Auntie Em (To Miss Gulch): “Elmira Gulch! Just because you own half the county doesn’t mean you can run the rest of us! For twenty-five years, I’ve been DYING to tell you what I really think of you. And now… well… being a Christian woman, I can’t say it!”

    Hope that’s not too subtle for you to parse out.

    Enjoy your evening!

  • Yeah, gotta love that concept of “treatment resistant.” If our “treatment” doesn’t work, it’s not our fault, you are “treatment resistant.” Which justifies us doing MORE of the “treatment” that didn’t work or forcing a worse “treatment” on you against your will. “I KNOW this will work, if only she’d stop RESISTING…” Why do people believe this kind of obviously illogical nonsense? Hammering harder on a screw will not screw it in!

  • It sounds like you are here to promote a viewpoint. It’s my expectation that a person claiming research needs to provide their own links rather than saying “do a search on Google.” Do you have anything specific? I’m pretty familiar with the literature and any study I’ve seen on “neuroprotective effects” of psychotropics has been refuted or is not replicable. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not going to search for studies that you claim exist. Please provide some links and we can talk.

    As for “side effects,” sure, all drugs have side effects. The question is always whether the risks outweigh the benefits, remembering the Hippocratic Oath to “first, do no harm.” When people diagnosed with “serious mental illnesses” are dying 25 years earlier than the general population, when studies show that people NOT taking antipsychotic drugs do BETTER than those who take them in the long term, even if they had a worse prognosis to start with, when people in “developing” countries do far better in terms of recovery than those who have the “benefits” of modern psychiatry, arguments about “neuroprotectiveness” start to sound pretty foolish.

  • Your assumption that a “suicidal patient” will die or kill is, of course, a ridiculous one. I have talked to hundreds of suicidal people in my role as a crisis line supervisor and doing involuntary “hospitalization” evaluations and advocating for foster youth and just being a human being encountering other human beings in our crazy culture today. I would suggest that 98% of the people I talked to felt better JUST BECAUSE THEY FOUND SOMEONE WHO WAS INTERESTED IN THEIR STORY. Not once did I ever recommend or require psychiatric drugs to “prevent suicide.” But you might be interested to know that I did encounter a significant number who were suicidal ONLY AFTER they took one of psychiatry’s magic “antidepressant” pills. I met many, many more who found the drugs marginally helpful, utterly useless, or making things worse.

    The message that we are somehow taking a huge risk by NOT drugging a suicidal person flies in the face of massive evidence that a) “antidepressants” do nothing to prevent suicide, b) “antidepressants” actually CAUSE suicidal feelings or actions in a small but significant proportion of those who take them, and c) there are many ways to help a person considering suicide that have nothing to do with giving them drugs of questionable value and unquestionable risk.

    I think you have come to the wrong place if you want to sell the idea that we only have a choice between drugging people and letting them die. We know better. I hope you’ll read some of the stories here and you can learn that there is another viewpoint.

  • I know what you mean. I was just being flippant, as I have a tendency to do. Naturally, if a person has experienced lots of rejection over his/her life, rejection by psychiatry will at least initially feel like other rejections. It is to be hoped that over time and with education, a person might come to understand that s/he may have “dodged a bullet,” but it is hardly reasonable to expect a client to see this up front.

  • I agree. It is the psychiatrist who should make certain that any such interactions happen in a non-threatening manner for the PATIENT! Te psychiatrist has all the power, and expecting the client to protect the psychiatrist’s ego is very much like expecting the victim of an assault not to upset his assailant too much for fear of “provoking” further attacks. The person with the most power is the most responsible for creating a safe atmosphere for discussion. If the psychiatrist’s ego is so weak that s/he can’t accept feedback, s/he should not be in the business of “helping” people at all.

  • I went to a counselor one time. I told him I would feel angry sometimes when I got home from work. He said, “So you get angry when you come home from work?” I said, “Yes, I just said that!” He was like a freakin’ parrot! Just repeated back what I said to him, and then invited us to join his church. At least he didn’t “diagnose” me. I’d have had to tell him what my “diagnosis” was and no doubt he’d have repeated it back to me. How can people feel OK taking money and not providing a service of any value? I mean, they have to know that they aren’t helping, don’t they?

  • Perhaps instead of saying, “Opposing corruption in psychiatric science,” we could just call it “opposing psychatric corruption posing as science.” As I commented in another post, it’s a pretty big stretch to even use the term “psychiatric science.” It’s kind of an oxymoron, because if psychiatry were at all interested in science, it would have to tear down the entire structure and start over again.

    Unless they mean the “science” of making lots of money through clever marketing of destructive ideas…

  • It seems to me that the conclusions, as usual, were dramatically soft-pedaled compared to the actual conclusions one ought to draw from this. If the most experienced professionals in the field can’t draw a common conclusion from the same data, there are only two possible conclusions: SPECT scans or PET scans actually tell us nothing significant or meaningful about the brain or its functioning, or that the people analyzing the data are either so incompetent or so utterly biased as to remove any possibility of gaining any reliable intepretation of ANY data from these scans, at least as far as “mental health” is concerned. Or both may be equally true.

    These people are taking in millions of dollars, including our tax dollars, doing worthless research and making claims that are not substantiated, otherwise known as LIES. This is a dire situation and calls for a complete reconsideration of the value of spending significant money on what is either a fraudulent field or one in such a stage of infancy that nothing of value can be expected for decades to come. Particularly given that such studies are granted such high value and yet are almost worthless, these studies are contributing confusion rather than knowledge, and should be discontinued or else relegated to a very cool back burner while somebody figures out if there is anything of scientific value that will ever come out of this kind of study.

  • I see no alcohol wipes, no blood drawing equipment, no stethoscopes, not even a blood pressure cuff or thermometer or a scale. Usually just a desk, books and a filing cabinet. Pens, papers, coffee, whatever, but no sign of a medical exam being even a possibility. And clients I’ve spoken to almost never report any kind of medical workup, and most that do are sent to someone or someplace else to do it. Psychiatrists don’t do medical exams in the vast majority of cases, based on my observations and data.

  • Having an open mind includes being open to the possibility that other people have experiences you have not yourself had or imagined. Remember that we’re not only dealing with withdrawal here, we’re dealing with brain changes that happen over time and take a lot longer to heal than simply removing the drug from the system. Meth, for instance, should be out of the system within a couple days at the most, but the consequences of bathing one’s brain in dopamine for years are evident in a range of difficulties that can last months or years after the last dose.

  • Power dynamics really are the ultimate problem, which Mirandizing the potential victims does not resolve in any way. It might just let a few more people escape from knowing what they’re up against. But I’m sure it would only stop a very small proportion of the current batch of forcibly “hospitalized” people (inmates). At the least, giving such a warning would be an acknowledgement to the larger society that we are not talking about “treatment” when we lock someone up.

  • I think it is very possible to have therapy of many kinds without a doctor/psychiatrist’s involvement. And I don’t think it’s a problem of “inadequate training.” It’s more a problem of following a completely false and destructive model, which they are very adequately trained to apply. The model they are applying is the problem, as it is based on the ideas that 1) behavior outside of the “social norm” indicates a “disorder” just because it isn’t “normal,” and 2) that any such manifestation must indicate a physiological problem with the person acting that way, since apparently everyone should be moderately satisfied to moderately dissatisfied with the current status quo, and anyone who has more extreme reactions is defacto “ill.”

    I don’t think ANY positive change can be possible when operating on such a nihilistic and destructive model of the human mind and behavior. As long as no agency or decision-making capacity is assigned to the client, there is nothing that psychiatry can do but destroy lives, and it does that very well, indeed.

    And “insufficient numbers of psychiatrists” would not be on my list of things to be fixed. We have far too many, and they appear for the most part to wreak destruction wherever they go. The average 12 year old has a better grip on how to help a person in distress than the average “DSM-trained” psychiatrist. At least the 12 year old would have the sense to ask a person WHY they are sad, instead of blaming it on his/her brain!

  • I would say any time the “professional” is considering the possibility of “hospitalization,” it becomes an assessment. If someone asks questions that lead them to decide you need to be “hospitalized,” and they haven’t warned you they were “assessing,” none of that data is useable for petitioning the court. It’s thrown out, just like an illegal search. And no one gets to “prep” the official “assessor” with any lead-ins, like “He’s my patient and I’m really worried about him,” or anything like that. Just facts, with any self-disclosures eliminated that have not been “Mirandized.” That’s my thinking.

  • Those who are pretending but don’t have an actual grasp of their subject are always threatened by any person with real knowledge and understanding, as they know they are always vulnerable to being “outed” as the charlatans they are.

  • I think what you just said agrees wholeheartedly with the concept that “mental illness” is a metaphor (“Thus a mental “illness” might be called an “illness” just because there might be certain behaviors connected with it that mimic physical illness, like expressions of pain.”) With which I agree, but my reasons for not using the term “mental illness” still stand. It adds confusion and makes it easy for the psychiatric industry to continue to convince people that they need to see a DOCTOR, rather than a friend or spiritual guide or wise elder or another person who understands what it’s like to be in your circumstances.

  • How about “dangerously irrational?”

    But of course, his “illness” lies to a large extent in the society in which he practices. His behavior is sanctioned by the social mores of the time he lives in, so he is considered “sane” while his victims are considered “ill,” simply because he pronounces it is so. This “illness” would not be possible without the huge power imbalance he enjoys. So again, if the psychiatrist is “mentally ill,” what is actually ill? Him? His theories? His group (psychiatrists)? Society at large?

  • Let me ask you this. From a purely personal viewpoint, what do you think a “mind” is? Is it a part of the body, a section of the brain? Is it an outgrowth of the brain, like a computer program creates images on a screen that are not understandable in terms of the structure of the computer? Is it something external that resides in the brain, a spiritual entity? Or an interface or control mechanism for running the body?

    If the mind is NOT a part of the body, what would it mean for the mind to be “ill?” Can the concept of “illness” extend to a spiritual entity? Certainly, distress is obvious, as is happiness or confidence. But is lack of confidence an “illness?” Or is it a lack of an ability to believe in oneself? If we’re talking about beliefs, it’s hard for me to see beliefs or ideas or even spiritual entities as having “illnesses” in the same sense that a body has infections, cancer, broken bones, etc. How can a mind be ill if it is not a part of the physical universe? And who would decide what “ill” would mean?

    The other point I made already is that the term “mental illness” has been utterly claimed at this point by the psychiatric profession and their allies, and is fully associated in the public mind with “brain disorders” or “chemical imbalances” and such. To me, it makes no sense to use a term that feeds into the hierarchy of psychiatric dogma, as it is way too easily misunderstood or misappropriated. I much prefer to speak of “mental/emotional distress” or “suffering” or “confusion” or “altered perceptions” or “sadness” or “worry.” You may think it is splitting hairs, but in terms of reclaiming power from the “mental health professions,” I believe discarding this very confusing and coopted term is essential, regardless of what other considerations exist.

  • I agree that “mental illness” at this point is such a tainted term, it can’t even be referred to in the metaphorical sense without instant connection to the DSM and all the stupidities inherent in assuming a “real disease” is present and exists in the brain. It is a term that needs to be tossed and never used. For certain, people experience confusion, illogical urges, emotional distress, even experience seemingly unavoidable sensations, voices, etc. that other people don’t perceive. None of this implies “illness.” It might very well imply some sort of causation, which in SOME cases COULD be physiological, but the idea that we lump all “depressed” people together as having an “illness” that needs to be “treated” is reductionistic and scientifically invalid.

    I very much favor the idea of simply describing what the person is experiencing and going from there. “I feel hopeless and am not sure why my life is worth living” is something I can related to. “I feel like killing myself because I’m mentally ill” is not something that I can find any shared reality with. It doesn’t really mean anything. The first one allows that a person is doing something and can potentially take action to remedy the situation by answering some of these difficult questions or refocusing his/her attention on meaningful activities. The second implies powerlessness and lack of agency, and that for me is enough reason to bag the idea of “mental illness” altogether, bad “science” notwithstanding.

  • New title: “The use of induction of grand mal seizures by electrocution should no longer be allowed or justified through pretending it is some sort of ‘treamtent’ when it is actually electrically-induced brain damage.”

    Or “Induction of seizures is not ‘treatment.’ It is intentional brain damage.”

    There are many other options, but you get the idea.

  • I love this – when we use proper mathematical analysis, the findings are “no longer valid.” Meaning they were NEVER VALID in the first place! Isn’t the real conclusion, “The findings were fraudulent, as the researchers used inappropriate methods to draw the conclusion they wanted to find?” Why not call a spade a spade?

  • Well, by all accounts, sneaking in wouldn’t be very difficult. “Empty, hollow, thud.” (The Rosenhahn Experiment.) The challenge would be getting the phone in. Perhaps one might find a staff person who is concerned about abuse who is willing to assist. Inmates get phones and drugs and other contraband inside jails, and it’s usually with the help of the guards.

  • Yeah, the placebo effect kind of refutes the “brain disease” concept all by itself. But most psychiatric researchers view it as an annoying impediment instead of real and meaningful data. If a third of your cases can resolve based on BELIEVING that they’re going to resolve, it sounds like there is something pretty powerful about believing things that affects the entire body and all its systems! But it’s hard to make money off of that kind of data, and it keeps making their drug trials look bad!

  • Hi, Furies,

    Not sure I said what you think I said. I have no problem with the term PC. It was objecting to it being turned into a term of hostility because it undermines what was a very legitimate effort to look at the purpose and effect of certain terms from a perspective of power in relationships. But that’s what the term has come to mean, and it is used that way, and everyone understands that. So I wasn’t criticizing you or anyone else for using the term. I was only observing that the real purpose of looking at “correcting” language wasn’t to make people wrong, it was to address issues of inequality, and it’s been coopted to another purpose by those in power who don’t want the power dynamics to change.

    I’m sorry if you got the impression I was criticizing you. I was not, not at all.


  • Wow, who would have GUESSED that feeling like killing oneself could be related to unmet needs? Such radical thinking! Just when we were all convinced it was a brain disorder that had nothing whatsoever to do with the person’s place in the world and experiences!

    It is sad that such research is even needed. Seems to me kind of like discovering that “based on interpersonal theories of infant communication, crying in babies is often caused by unmet needs for food and nurturance.”

  • I agree. It appears to me to be a term that has been appropriated and turned into a negative. It is unfortunately true that a lot of shaming has gone on in the name of “political correctness,” but in reality, words have great power and choice of language generally frames both what people see as the problem and what solutions are to be considered.

  • MIA is a news magazine. It operates on a skeleton staff and accomplishes an amazing amount with a tiny budget and a lot of volunteer work hours. There is no bandwidth to start creating other organizations, but of course, if readers see such a need, they are encouraged to come up with ways to make it better. We put the information out there for others to use in whatever way seems productive to them.

  • I agree, most people go to NAMI because they need support, just like most people go to psychiatrists because they feel desperate and are looking for answers. But the organizations themselves have to answer for being corrupt and misleading people intentionally, because that’s what they do.

    NAMI is a very interesting phenomenon. There are plenty of people who go to NAMI genuinely looking for support, and some even find it to some extent. There are also a good segment, by my observation, who go to NAMI to be absolved of responsibility for any contribution they may have made to their child’s distress, and these are the ones who really grab onto the “bioligical brain disorder” terminology and ideology. The people in the second group, I have found almost impossible to talk to, because their identity is very much tied up in blaming their child’s brain for everything, which means toeing the party line on the “liftime brain disorder” and “drugs for life” concepts.

    I truly wish there were other places for families to go for support. I mean, there ARE, but NAMI pretty much has taken all the air out of the room so any such effort is generally small, local, and relatively unknown (sorry, bad pun there!) And it becomes a real problem when families really do need genuine support and they get a choice between NAMI and nothing. But the needs of family members are very different than those of the survivors of psychiatry, and in all too many cases, those needs conflict too strongly for both to get support in the same venue. Open Dialog appears to make an effort to bridge that gap, which I’m sure can be very helpful in many cases, but it’s also generally not available, and depending on the family members’ attitudes, might or might not provide what they needed.

    It’s a problem, for real.

  • I don’t disagree. It is amazing how many normal activities are coopted into “therapy” so that someone can charge you for it and still maintain the fiction that they are “treating” some “disease state.” I get apoplectic when they start talking about “mindfulness” or “exercise as therapy” and that kind of nonsense. “Therapy” appears to be anything that can be marketed to convince people that someone else has an answer to their problems.

    My point in that comment is that people in the “biz” try to come up with some magical “therapeutic school” such that if everyone does this, their clients will all get happy. And of course, whenever the client does not, they are “treatment resistant,” because our “treatment” is “evidence based,” so any “failures” are the fault of the client, or the “disease.” It’s 99.9% hogwash. Deep breathing isn’t therapy. It’s breathing. Available to anyone for free.

    When I was a “counselor,” I had the great advantage of having no training whatsoever to be a counselor. So I basically just listened to people and tried to understand their issues, and occasionally came up with an idea or suggestion for them to consider at their own determinism. There was no need for a “school of therapy,” I considered myself just another human being who had somehow earned the privilege of their trusting me with their thoughts and feelings, and I acted accordingly. If that’s “therapy,” then “therapy” is pretty much anything that someone finds helpful in confronting life. The idea that telling everyone to “change their thoughts” is somehow going to produce uniform results is stupid. Just be human. That’s what people need.

  • I always thought of CBT as a technique, not a “therapy” by itself. It works great in some situations, and is awful in others. Works really well for some people, others find it intrustive and invalidative. Any therapist worthy of his/her fee would adjust his/her approach to the person in front of him/her. The best therapy is what gets the person you’re working with to where they want to go. Rigidly applying one technique as the be-all and end-all is a sure sign of incompetence.

  • Sam, I really DO think the way you describe your approach is an exception. Most family members are neither committed nor skilled enough to find a way to either elude the “helpers” who “know better” or find people who actually CAN help or develop his/her own approach. Family members most defintely CAN be incredibly helpful, but as often as not, they can also be incredibly harmful, and are sometimes the very reason the person was traumatized and overwhelmed in the first place. So it is possible, even likely, that there is some bias toward distrusting family members who claim to be “here to help.” Personally, I think each person is different and should be considered individually. But I’m in general agreement that the voice of the person ostensibly being “helped” has to be raised above that of any family member, however well intended, because in the end, that is the person who has to live with the results of any “helping” that is going on.

  • I’m not saying at all that he didn’t say that, just that I am not sure it means what you think it means. I don’t think you are casting aspersions, either. I just see the logic in the decisions he’s made, and the effect it has had.

    I did check the mission statement, and it is a “reimagining” statement. So it may be you are right. But I’ll leave it to Bob to say.

  • This is NOT me as moderator. I will let Bob answer for himself on this, but my view is that this is a misperception of what he has said. For sure, he wants to be seen as scientific and objective, and I think the pursuit of disseminating information and letting people draw their own conclusions from it is the most effective way to make that happen. And I certainly see that his work AND MIA has had a huge impact on causing people to question the dominant paradigm, more than any other person I can think of. I think his impact speaks for itself and I have certainly not accomplished 1/100th of what he has, so whatever approach he is taking, my hat is off to him.

  • Posting as moderator: I do want to point out here that MIA is not taking any specific point of view regarding reform vs. abolition. MIA was created as an alternative news source to put out any and all information that questions the validity of the current paradigm of care. It is not intended to take a political position on an antipsychiatry vs. critical psychiatry viewpoint. It is intended to encourage discussion of a range of viewpoints that are not normally made visible, and to allow voices that are normally silenced to be heard. As such, MIA is not taking any particular viewpoint supporting or opposing the abolition of psychiatry. That is up to the readers to determine for themselves.

  • Exactly. Mainstream schools are a positive for a small minority of kids, I think. Most are bored to death, feel resentful of the many restrictions on their activities, feel restless and anxious to do something of their own choosing. Bullying and shaming are generally epidemic, often due to institutionally approved bullying by school staff.

    I remember very well being in 6th grade on the last day of school. The last 5 minutes, no one said a word. We had a clock on the wall that had no second hand, but which gave a buzz 4-5 seconds before moving to the next minute. As we went through the last minute, the tension was palpable. The clock buzzed, the minute hand ticked, and the bell rang. Suddenly, pretty much every kid in the room stood up cheering in joy and picked up their stuff and ran out of the school as fast as they could go! If school was such an appropriate and helpful place for kids to learn, why was everyone so elated and relieved to be allowed to escape?

  • In “mainstreaming,” there is an unspoken assumption that adaptation to the “mainstream” is good, and that the “mainstream” way of “educating” kids is the ideal, and that kids who can’t manage that are “special education.” I disagree with all three of these assumptions. I think that “Mainstream” schools are actually quite damaging, both educationally and emotionally, to a majority of kids who attend. The lack of creative alternatives condemns all of our kids to this unproductive and at times destructive “mainstream.” When kids can’t manage it and fall out for one reason or another, it should be a sign that this “mainstream” is not working for these kids and that there is a need to approach them differently. But instead, we assume that the child is flawed for finally letting us know that our system doesn’t meet their needs. How many kids are in the “mainstream,” suffering every day (as I did) and yet swallowing their needs and “fitting in” to avoid punishment and humiliation?

    Assuming “mainstream” schooling is healthy or appropriate allows schools the luxury of not confronting or improving on their failures. They can blame the child and keep on doing what they are doing. It is very much analogous to the assumptions of the psychiatric worldview.

  • You make an excellent point!

    Plus, people probably DO feel better when they take Ketamine. Until they stop taking it. Or until they become addicted and tolerance builds up. That is not a solution, even if the study WERE really double blinded, and really were positive for Ketamine.

    I could do a double blind study for alcohol, and I guarantee that alcohol would show significant anti-anxiety properties. There is no doubt about it. But does that make it a “treatment” for anxiety? It is ancient history that taking substances can alter one’s mental state temporarily. Is this really all that has to be proven for a drug to become a “treatment?”

  • People come out worse from psychiatric interventions all the time, and it is almost always blamed on “the disease”, aka blamed on the “patient.” Take a look at “treatment resistant depression.” All it means is “our approach failed.” But rather than take responsibility for failing and looking for another approach, they blame “depression” for “resisting” their “treatment.” It is a pervasive tactic that absolves the psychiatric “professionals” of any responsibility no matter how much worse the “patient” is upon release that at admission. It remains baffling to me that this is not obvious to more people who watch the process.

  • I think it means that they have given up on testing on drug-naive patients because 99% of the patients they deal with are or have been drugged, usually with multiple drugs. A pretty weak argument scientifically. Reminds me of how they used to say they can’t ethically have “control groups” with “schizophrenia”-diagnosed patients because it would be unethical to deprive half the group of their wonderful “treatments.” Even though their odds of recovery would improve as a result. Go figure!

  • When I worked at a crisis line, we used to get calls all the time from people who used cutting to cope. They said they could not tell their doctors or therapists because they’d be hospitalized. They were uniformly NOT interested in killing themselves, they used it as you describe, as a way to reduce tension or frustration or pain. It was clear to me that it met a need and was not specifically dangerous, so enforced “hospitalization” even by their own “danger to self and others” standards didn’t apply. I found it quite ironic that they were doing “therapy” with people who could not handle talking to a person who used cutting as a a means of coping with a difficult reality. How could any therapist be helpful if they aren’t actually safe to talk with?

  • Posting as moderator: Just a reminder that most MIA articles are either already on the internet or are submitted by folks who are telling their own stories or summarizing their own research. MIA doesn’t decide whether the author uses quotations around certain “mental health” related terms except when it is an article published by MIA itself.

  • They do. I used to work with foster kids and I always attended foster youth panels where the kids presented on what THEY thought should be different in the system to make it work for them. At one such meeting, I asked them what was good or not good about their “mental health” support. They talked a bunch about therapy but not a word about “medication.” When the topic came up later in the discussion, it became clear that they did not see “medication” as a “mental health treatment” but as a means for adults to manage “bad” behavior. They understood it as something that happened if you acted out and the intention was to stop you from acting that way. They knew intuitively that it had nothing to do with their health, “mental” or otherwise.

  • “Moving cars are a “risk factor” for broken legs, but clearly, there is a biological vulnerability for people whose legs break when hit by moving cars, because after all, not ALL people who get hit by cars break their legs, so there MUST be something different about those “weak-legged people” who just can’t take the hit and keep on walking!”

  • Of course, that begs the question of how any person could be determined to “have a mental illness” when these “illnesses” are clearly subjective judgments about a person’s behavior or character, without any objective way to determine who does and doesn’t “have” these spurious “disorders.”

  • Most people would allow that electrocution and grand mal seizures would be things that anyone would want to avoid at any cost. It shows how utterly distorted the world of psychiatry is that opponents of “ECT” have to do anything at all to debunk the obvious harms that inducing a grand mal seizure would create. People who have near-death experiences often recover an appreciation for the fragility of life and make big changes to make their lives more meaningful. Does this suggest we should push people in front of cars as a form of “therapy?”

    I also doubt the patient ratings are reliable. After 3-4 “treatments,” I’m guessing most of the “patients” are very much inclined to say, “I am feeling SO much better! I feel COMPLETELY cured! Now, can you please open that door and let me the hell out of this place?”

  • I think we would have to create a bank of lawyers who were serious about enforcing the laws, not the “reasonable” lawyers generally employed in these roles today. Of course, some of these lawyers would be excited to actually be able to defend their clients and would be happy to step into the new role. But it would mean hiring lawyers who would actually be willing to challenge the system. It would also mean collecting stories and data to change the laws so that they are enforced and effective. It would be a big change from the status quo.

  • Are psychiatrists really challenged by this question? It seems likely there will be no actual research into what happens or why. Perhaps the challenge they don’t want to face is why more people will suddenly qualify as “mentally ill” when it’s all supposed to be a “biological brain disease.” But we know that no one will really challenge them on that point except their “patients,” whom no one will listen to, because, after all, they are “crazy.”

  • I would add that the “overreach” is driven by intentional bias in the direction of making genetic explanations stick even when there is no or only circumstantial evidence for them being true. This, in turh, is driven by both professional and financial conflicts of interest, as there is more profit to be made and more responsibility to be evaded by those in powerful positions if the “biological explanation” can be propped up enough for people to buy into it.

  • On the other hand, some people won’t make it to the doctor to get “evaluated for depression” and hence will not start on SSRIs or other such drugs, which may bring the suicide rate down. I know a person who has gotten off of antipsychotics because the doctors were unwilling to come to his/her home to administer it. This person is doing quite well in the aftermath, despite trying many times to stop in the past without success. I’m using s/he construction to obscure any guesses at the person’s identity.

  • I guess it seems like a sneaky way to suggest that somehow Covid19 and “harm to self and others” are connected. I guess as I read it again, the implication is that people with “serious mental illnesses” could be incarcerated because they are judged as too stupid or incompetent to take proper protective measure against Covid19. Which is, of course, is ridiculous, because COVID19 isn’t necessarily dangerous to everyone, and because the fact of someone “having a mental illness” is probably completely unrelated to their ability to protect themselves in the first place. Hey, people with “OCD” characteristics or who are afraid to go out of their homes would actually be at an advantage! But naturally, they can’t just come out and say what they mean, they have to raise fears by vague generalizations. That guy is a dangerous person! He is a “danger to others” with his whacky ideas!

  • There used to be a crisis line whose name was “Let’s talk.” It seems like such an obvious thing. What do you do when you see a car wreck? First thing you do is tell someone, go over what happened and how you felt, they ask you questions, etc. It’s what you do when something scary happens. It is only massive propaganda that has moved people away from this basic, intuitive understanding of what people need from each other. Any “therapy” that isn’t primarily based on listening should be immediately shitcanned!

  • A sad comparison!

    “Hospitalizing” someone for suicidal thoughts or plans is one of the most counterintuitive things I can think of. And someone PRETENDING you are suicidal is far worse!!!! I can’t imagine my rage – but of course, my rage would be “evidence of my disorder” and be held against me, too.

  • In fairness, there are some rational helpers scattered about in the “mental health” system, and if you’re needing someone to listen and they have the capacity and skills and proper attitude to do so, it would be a shame to blot them out by generalization. On the other hand, Muhammad Ali used the analogy that if you’ve got a hundred snakes outside you’re room and 90% of them are nice snakes and only 10% are planning to bite and kill you, are you going to go out and check and see which ones you can trust, or are you going to just keep your damned door shut?

  • I LOVED the graphic! I am envisioning a potential client approaching a “professional” with this in hand. “Before I agree to share my feelings and experiences with you, I have a few questions I’d like to ask. First off, do you feel you are in a better position to know what to do that some of your client? Please elaborate…”

  • Milton Erickson used to say that therapy has to be reinvented anew for each client. I believe he was absolutely correct. Labels only distract from the fact that all people have unique needs and strengths and that nothing is going to work for everyone based on some external characteristics.

    There are some educational techniques we can use with kids who have difficulty communicating, just like there are approaches that work better or worse for kids who are seeking lots of stimulation or don’t like to sit still. But these are adaptations to personalities and personal needs, not “diagnoses” of “disease states.” Any kind of “treatment” requires creativity and a willingness to communicate with the person you’re trying to help, verbally or non-verbally. The rest is all window dressing, or more often, marketing.

  • In the real world of science, “spectrum” always denontes a continuous range from one extreme to another. As much as people are defined as “on the (autism) spectrum,” a real spectrum has no defined point of differentiation except at the extreme ends. If there is a spectrum involving people, then EVERYONE is on the spectrum somewhere. I know that’s not how the word is used by most people in this context, but scientifically/mathematically speaking, that’s the nature of a spectrum. It doesn’t suddenly stop at a certain arbitrary distance from “normal.” The recognition that there ARE spectra of human behavior and emotion that exist around any definable “norm” is a very good thing, but deleting the idea that there are people “ON” the spectrum and those “OFF” the spectrum is really not a sustainable concept.

  • I tend to agree. We don’t know in any case even whether it’s “neuro”, that the person is somehow neurologically different, nor do we know if that difference in a particular case is a result of any kind of abnormal disease process. There are probably some people “on the spectrum” who actually do have something physiologically wrong with them, but we don’t know what it is or how to differentiate those who really do have a physiological problem from those who simply act in ways that are unusual or that make some “normal” people unconfortable for some reason.

  • Excellent analogy with “sex offenders.” A sex offender has committed a CRIMINAL ACT, and his/her label is based on that act(s). This is defined by law and enforcable with known penalties. A person who “has a personality disorder” is so labeled based on a general opinion of what some people have decided is a “problem personality.” Such a label does not require ANY specific act, it is NOT defined by law, or actually by even any objective meausrement at all, and the penalty can be whatever the people in charge want to assess, including incarceration on a more or less permanent basis, enforced drug-taking, public shaming, discouragement, being discriminated against in employment or education, and on and on. It is not in any way a legitimate analogy.

  • I would add that asking people questions, per the Socratic method or something like it, is a better way to lead people into making observations that conflict with their own assumptions than telling them they are wrong. Most people hate being wrong. As Albus Dumbledore wisely stated, “Most people find it much easier to forgive you for being wrong than they do for being right.” Or something like that.

  • My concern is not with fairness or unfairness to Donald Trump per se. My concern is that allowing “professionals” of any stripe to “diagnose” public figures reinforces the idea that “mental illnesses” CAN be objectively “diagnosed” and that these professionals have some inside knowledge that makes them more capable of validly assessing the capacity of a particular person to continue in the office of President. It empowers the DSM and its adherents in a way I find unacceptable, regardless of the reasons given. Since the author acknowledges early in the piece that the DSM “diagnoses” lack any sort of validity, the labeling process he is describing is no more nor less meaningful than any lay person getting together with another lay person and saying, “I think Trump is crazy!” Or “I think people opposed to him have ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome.'” Sure, any psychiatrist or psychologist has the right to come up with a descriptive label of Trump’s or any other President’s behavior or conduct, just as any other citizen has that right. We still have freedom of speech in the USA, last I heard. The question is, why should their label carry any more weight than the guy in the machine shop or the woman serving her country in the armed forces or the teenager trying to figure out what politics is all about? Why should a Ph.D. or M.D after someone’s name privilege them to provide a “professional” opinion regarding labels which the author himself admits are essentially fraudulent?

  • It shows an incredible degree of defensiveness and insecurity. What’s the big deal about admitting that you don’t know what’s going on and are trying to figure it out? Or that you’re disappointed that the drug didn’t live up to its advertising? If a doctor cares more about patients than ego or income, we wouldn’t see this kind of behavior.

  • Hear, hear! It is the responsibility of the researchers to prove their intervention is safe and effective, not the responsibility of detractors to prove them wrong. If there is no proof that “depression,” let alone “treatmeant-resistant depresssion,” actually even exists as an entity, it’s pretty rich to accuse people of being “treatment resistant” just because you don’t know how to help them or are making them worse.

  • The concept of “treatment resistance” is utterly ridiculous. If I am being paid to fix a car, I don’t get to say the car is “repair resistant” when I can’t figure out how to fix it. It irks the crap out of me that they get away with this kind of nonsense. If they need a label, why not just say, “People who are not helped by our interventions?” Or why not just admit that their whole “treatment regimen” is guesswork and there is no actual expectation that any drug will necessarily be helpful?

    Fava does some really important work. We need more researchers willing to challenge the status quo. But I wish they’d been a little more blunt about calling out the nonsensical and defensive nature of this entire concept.

  • I was talking more about perpetuating and supporting habits, ideas and institutions through our training, mostly on an unconscious level. I contrast this to the idea that somehow it’s always “those other people” who are racists, sexist, violent, abusive, etc. Naturally, there are people who are more or less aware of these tendencies and are more or less active in combatting both the internalized and external forms of oppression, such as not allowing ourselves or others to blame “the mentally ill” or black people or even gun owners as the “cause” of violence, but instead reminding everyone that violence is possible in any of us, and its more frequent emergence in our society is not caused by some external force or group of “other people,” but is actually a function of the society in which we are all participating (however voluntarily or involuntarily).

  • Yeah, apparently you’re supposed to be HAPPY that you’re physically ill or that your life may be in danger. God help us we should find it discouraging or overwhleming to have an actual phsyical disease process going on! Apparently we’re supposed to face pain and death cheerfully (but not TOO cheerfully – that would be manic!)

  • We are also encouraged to group people into “those oppressive bad people” vs. “the rest of us,” rather than recognizing that all of us participate in some ways in maintaining oppressive systems. It’s easier to maintain the status quo if we can blame “those other people” for being the cause of the “bad stuff,” so we can pretend that if only we get rid of the “bad people,” the rest of us “good people” can get on with doing good. And of course, “the mentally ill” (as conveniently defined by the status quo) are often put into that scapegoat role of the “bad people” who are causing all the problems and need to be “controlled” for “their own good” or the good of society.

  • I do like a spectrum approach to these discussions – it allows for variation without discrimination, and also includes the possibility that people who aren’t near the center of the graph can still have a lot to contribute that those closer to the “average” would not be able to provide. Ironically, every population biologist knows that diversity of phenotypes is the core of species survival – adaptation is only possible if there is a range of potential responses available within the species, and those who are too adapted to a particular niche are wiped out when change becomes necessary. As long as the concept doesn’t lump people into those who ARE and ARE NOT “neurodiverse,” I think it works, but we both know there are forces who can take any reframing and smash it back into two-valued “logic” for their own nefarious purposes!

    Thanks for your thougts on this!

  • The only problem I have with the concept of “neurodiverse” is that it seems to imply or could be thought to imply that there is a “neuro-normal” that describes most people. I don’t think that is the case. I think we’re all “neurodiverse” to a large extent. Unfortunately, our society picks on certain “neurodiversities” and condemns them, which is pretty sad. But I do get that normalizing “different” presentations is a very sane thing to do, and I totally support that idea!

  • I think the biggest problem with even quality therapy is that it is not really the proper mode to deal with current or ongoing abuse or oppression. It can be valuable for a person to discuss the pain of living with a dead-end job, and may even help motivate a person to seek a better one, but it can’t take care of the question of why so many jobs are dull and lifeless and why so many people are forced to work in them for inadequate pay in order to merely survive to face another day. Therapy can be valuable, but it is limited and can’t really handle the bigger social issues with which our current Western society is riddled.

  • Yeah, I think I’d volunteer for that one. Except if you’re a kid, they might lock you in a “residential treatment home” until you learn to knuckle under.

    The best diagnosis is “don’t know what happened to that guy – he seems to have disappeared.”

  • Lack of long-term outcome data means you have no idea if your “treatment” is actually effective. Which means from a purely scientific viewpoint, your “treatment” is not legitimate. We assume something doesn’t work until proven that it does, not the other way around. That’s how science is supposed to work. Anything else is marketing.

  • Well, of course, the algorithm is only as good as the programmer. I’m sure someone could program a discriminatory app. But at least they won’t have to manage their emotional reactions to our statements, appearance, etc. I’m sure they’d totally suck, because they’d be made by people who have no comprehension of what is helpful, otherwise, they’d realize that a computer can’t provide what is needed.

  • Hey, people do it all the time. I was just making it clear that there is a difference between people calling someone names because they don’t like their behavior vs. calling someone official names with the power of a medical degree behind it. It’s still name calling, and I am generally opposed to name calling, as it is usually very unproductive and avoids planning to overcome the problem. But there is a very important difference in quality between being called a name by someone who is no more or less powerful than you are vs. being officially sanctioned by the medical profession to call people names as “medical diagnoses.” The second is far more insidious and destructive.

    Hope that makes my point clearer. At least in the colloquial situation, we KNOW it’s a matter of name calling or generalizations with no scientific basis. No one is pretending that the other person “has” some brain problem or whatever. They’re just saying the othe person is a jerk.

  • Nah, they just liked high school for some inexplicable reason. I guess maybe they would miss their friends, but I didn’t have that many, and in any case, I could still be friends with them absent the authoritarian regime. And that was in the days when we had MORE freedom in high schools, right at the end of the 60s “student rights” movements. Student rights have massively deteriorated since that time, in my observation, other than that physical abuse has been MOSTLY outlawed.

    My high school was in suburban Philadelphia. Supposedly one of the top 10 public high schools in the country. And there were a lot of good teachers. But it was still school.

    And there were still a few, like Mr. Mims, who probably belonged in jail. Even as naive as I was back then, I suspected he was sleeping with at least one of the students.

    I guess I’m impatient with injustice and authoritarianism. Probably a “mental illness” of some sort. Otherwise, I would have loved being pushed around and bored and bullied and neglected and prevented from exploring anything not on the curriculum. What was wrong with me?

  • “Narcissistic” is a colloquial description of a certain kind of behavior, kind of like “cowardly” or “noble” or “conscientious.” “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” is an alleged “mental disorder” that can purportedly be “diagnosed” by people with a “professional background.” What would you think if they diagnosed someone with “Cowardly Personality Disorder?” Wouldn’t that seem pretty far out there, to take a set of personality characteristics and call it a name and then claim it is somehow a “diagnosis?”

    You could replace “narcissistic” with “childish” or “selfish” or “ill tempered” or “thoughtless” or “mean-spirited” and it would still just be a description of a person’s behavior. A description of a person’s behavior can not logically be a medical “diagnosis.” That’s the difference.

  • I remember they had an overnight party the day of graduation, with a hypnotist and dancing and punch and the usual entertainments. I saw different clutches of kids hugging each other, some with tears in their eyes, talking about how sad they were it was all over. I was thinking, “What high school did YOU go to?” I am sure that their experiences were very real to them and I admire them for being able to emote about them publicly, but it was TOTALLY unreal to me. I felt a huge weight off of me, along with the thought, “Wow, I’m free! Now what am I going to do with my life?”

  • I think you’re making total sense. My point is only that there are, in fact, any number of imponderables, and it is possible, even likely, that some measures in place are not particularly helpful while there are others we will later learn we ought to be doing. We’re flying blind to a large extent, as there is not much prior experience to draw on, and we don’t have time to do controlled experiments. So “playing it safe” and reducing risk is probably the best we can do. But I do think it’s important to acknowledge (not saying that you aren’t) that our knowledge is limited and to some extent we’re making educated guesses as to what will be most helpful, which explains at least in part why at first we were told no masks, then we were told to mask up. New information is coming in and best practices will change as we learn more.

  • Because traditional meditation approaches are grounded in Hindu and Buddhist spirituality, I see meditation as being utterly incompatible with psychiatry. “Mindfulness” is something appropriated from Buddhism without the nasty entanglements of silly questions like “What is a person?” and “How should I conduct myself on Earth?” and “What happens when I die?” Buddhism is based on the assumption that we are spiritual beings who suffer because of our own attitudes toward life, and offers a means of attaining greater peace and satisfaction through expanded use and understanding of our minds. Psychiatry teaches us that we are bodies, that there is no spiritual existence, that the mind is just a function of the brain, and that the mind is incapable of having more than a marginal influence on a person’s “mental health.” Meditation in every way contradicts the basic tenets of psychiatry, unless you go for “McMindfulness” that says you can sit there and breathe and it can calm you down. Which can be true, but it certainly misses the point, especially when people are told they HAVE to meditate or are shamed for failing to “succeed” at it.

  • Do we know that reduction of droplets extruded reduces the likelihood of infection when distancing and surface sanatiziation and hand washing are all in effect? A recent study showed that outdoor transmission almost never has been shown to occur. So maybe we should only wear masks indoors? There are lots of imponderables, which is my point.

  • It seems that only a certain number of comments in a thread can “nest” as replies, after which they are just listed one after the other, with no “reply” button. You have to go back up the chain to the last one that had a “reply” button on it if you want to continue on this thread.

    I agree that there are things which are concretely known and some which are purely speculative, but there are also partly-knowns which have to be evaluated, and that’s where a lot of conflict occurs. For instance, it is known that COVID19 virus can be found in droplets in the air 2-3 hours after they have been deposited. But what does that mean? Are they still infectious at that point? Do ACTUAL cases get passed that way or don’t they? Is this important for people who are infected to prevent spread, or people who are trying to prevent infection in themselves? These are all questions that people are willing to weigh in on heavily, either shaming people for not wearing masks or dismissing the possible risks as nothing but hype. The truth is, we don’t know if masks help or not, or how much, or on whom. A lot of this stuff is guessing.

    As to how Trump is handling all this, again, I think this subject is pretty well pooped out, and I’m going to ask more directly that the two of you move on from this subject, as it is now deteriorating into a more personal “thing” that is not productive.

  • Posting as moderator:

    I agree that this exchange has been interesting, but has perhaps reached as far as it can go. I think we’ve seen both perspectives fleshed out pretty thoroughly, and I doubt very much if either of you will sway the other. Part of the challenge of this set of events is the inability to know what information is reliable or not. I think this exchange makes that point very clear.

  • “The problem is that common approaches to deploying AI tools are not improving outcomes.”

    No, the problem is that common approaches to “helping” with mental/emotional/spiritual distress don’t improve outcomes, and no amount of AI is going to change the fact that the basic model of distress and helping is fatally flawed. Well, flawed unless your “outcome” is increased profits. Maybe that’s what they mean – AI isn’t improving income, therefore, it isn’t working?

  • I wasn’t so much bullied by peers as by teachers (we had some mean ones!), plus very lonely and bored out of my mind. I hated taking arbitrary orders from anyone, and still do. Particularly when I was smarter than most of the teachers and was always way ahead in almost every subject, which instead of counting as a positive made me a problem for them. The kids who liked school were the ones who had lots of friends, mostly, or the ones whose home lives were so bad that school seemed like a big step up. I was neither, and I hated every minute of elementary school. Junior high was only better because they had sports and I was a good athlete, and so finally got a few friends, too. When I graduated high school, I felt like the allied troops had freed us from the POW camp!

  • Well, we wouldn’t want to get in the way of commerce, now, would we? What about the danger to the individual of a poorly-programmed driverless truck? Oh, but I guess actual PEOPLE would be expendable in this futuristic world.

  • That’s been my experience, both as a helper and as a “helpee.” These “disorders” are just a way of experiencing the world, and we have to be the ones to decide what is and isn’t the best way to approach it. Most of the time, people have adapted to difficult circumstances by developing a way of thinking about the world or interacting with the world that seemed to work at the time. So accepting that these thoughts/behaviors/emotions have served a purpose, and then asking oneself what purpose they continue to serve, has been a successful path for me. Others would frame that differently. But in any case, what is helpful is NORMALIZING the experience as part of your own process, rather than externalizing it and making it seem like “OCD” or “ED” is some external agent that is attacking you! It reminds me a lot of demon possession. Not saying some people might not find it helpful, but it sure seems counterproductive to me.

  • A lot of science is also rooted in what is known NOT to be true. It’s a lot easier to disprove a hypothesis than it is to prove one unequivocally. The most certain data in science are which theories are absolutley wrong. Unfortunately, these days such vital information is often buried or at least not published. Especially when conflicts of interest are involved. Peer review’s job ought to be to poke holes in the methods or conclusions of the researcher based on the data. Unfortunately, that role is not always played fully by the reviewers these days.

  • I think calling it a “disorder” IS shaming! THe non-shaming approach is to assume that it is a normal reaction to circumstances, or else a manifestation of a legitimate and observable physiological problem (lack of sleep, thyroid problems, etc.) It is hard to think of a much more shaming approach than to say your emotions mean nothing, your brain is broken, but there’s nothing anyone can do to actually fix the problem, it’s just you have an inherently bad brain. Tough luck!

  • A point I have always shared and agreed with. Corporations are a force of their own and are often subject to no government at all, yet can do as much ore more damage than any government, and many of the problems with government (though certainly not all) are due to their being in bed with Corporations and/or Crime. And I do see an increasing crossover between Corporate and Crime that also needs to be addressed.

  • I stand by what I said. And it does appear that you misinterpreted my comment. While it does come across as rather flippant, nothing in that comment says that JWR or beer or “antipsychotics” have no effect. All I am saying in this comment is that just because something DOES have an effect that someone likes does not make that something a “treatment” for a “disorder.” Alcohol reduces anxiety significantly. It’s a fact. Why isn’t it considered a “treatment” for “anxiety disorders?” I certainly used it as a teen and young adult to reduce my anxiety in social groups, and so do lots of other people. How is this different from taking Xanax?

    You say “APs” saved your life. I have no desire or data to disagree with or refute your reality on that point. Other people say “APs” ruined their lives, including ruining their health. Neither you nor I have any data to disagree with or refute their reality, either.

    The only real point here is not to confuse a drug’s effects, which may be perceived as positive, negative or neutral, as evidence of any particular “mental health” issue being present or absent. We don’t diagnose cancer based on whether people feel like cancer treatment worked. We don’t diagnose a skin rash based on whether steroid cream makes it go away or not. We look for the CAUSE.

    We should not diagnose “mental disorders” based on people’s reaction to drugs. I don’t want to prevent people from using substances they find helpful. I just want to keep doctors away from “diagnosing” people with speculative “diseases” that no one can objectively observe to exist.

    OK, I broke my vow. That’s really it, Martin. No more.

  • I absolutely agree, Trump is NOT the problem. Which is why simply removing him is NOT the answer. He’s a symptom of a much larger, more difficult problem that besets our whole society. But it’s easier to blame Trump and imagine that somehow if Biden gets elected things will magically improve. I hope people aren’t holding their breath for that one.

  • Sometimes we believe we can change things, or the pile of data doesn’t reach critical mass until a certain point. There are many of us here who had “epiphanies” at one time or another in our lives/careers. At a certain point, I think a person comes to see that it’s not just a matter of confusion or needing training, it is the intention of the SYSTEM that is wrong headed. I’d guess a DSM IV conference would make that point pretty clear to anyone who was participating.

  • So you can’t see the difference between, “The majority (defined as more than half) of scientific studies can’t be replicated” and “Scientific data is not replicable?” Even when I stated clearly that TRUE scientific data IS replicable (around half of the studies I’m talking about), and that this is the only way we can tell if it is true? To put it another way, half of what is put forward in journals as “scientific data” later turns out to be false. Does that state it more clearly? Data that can be replicated are true, those which cannot are false, scientifically speaking. So SOME scientific studies can be validated, but according to the article, more than half cannot be replicated. Which leaves us with plenty of valid scientific data, it’s just a lot less than we’ve been led to believe by leaders in the medical/psychiatric industries. I refer you again to the Viiox scandal. We were told that it was safe, when there were plenty of studies saying that it wasn’t. But those studies were hidden and not published. The studies used to promote its safety could not be replicated, and the drug company promoting Viiox knew this but chose not to share. The studies they used were false. They were put forward as if they were true by people who knew they were false, but who had an interest in profiting off of Viiox’s sale and use. That seems pretty simple to me.

    You never did read the article, did you? It would really help if you did.

    We really need to end this. It seems we are unable to listen to or understand each other’s viewpoints. For you to suggest that I have ever said that antipsychotic medication has no effect on people shows how far we are from being able to communicate.

    I am not going to respond to further comments from you on this topic. I would suggest that if you find the comments here offensive, you might do better to seek another community that is more comfortable for you and aligns more closely with your values. I certainly have no intent to frustrate you, but it is apparent from our conversation that you are not getting what I’m saying, and I’m sure you feel the same way. So let’s just stop, OK?

  • There is nothing in the first statement that contradicts the second. Both say that the majority of today’s scientific research is not replicable. Majority means more than half. If you read the article, you’d perhaps understand why I’m saying that. Scientific analysis of the data says that over half of scientific studies are not replicable. I suppose that study could be wrong as well. But that’s why I read them, so I can make up my own mind. I wouldn’t believe the article unless I read and analyzed it myself. Which is the real point here.

  • Again, I did not say that scientific data is not replicable – you are putting words in my mouth. You either did not read the article, or did not get the main points it makes. The point is that TRUE scientific data IS replicable. But data that is NOT replicable is, BY DEFINITION, not scientifically true. Just because one study shows that X drug has Y effect, that doesn’t make it scientifically factual. Other studies would have to be done testing this hypothesis, and actually working hard to look for other explanations (like the placebo effect, selection bias, statistical manipulations, etc.) to undermine the result that the original researchers may WANT to be true. Only when a theory can withstand the rigors of repeated testing with intent to DISPROVE it or provide an alternate explanation, and yet continue provide the same result, is it regarded to be scientifically “true,” and then only as long as conflicting data don’t come in to create more questions. Unfortunately, this re-testing seldom happens today, largely because it is rarely funded. And even when it does occur, such retesting results are rarely published. This is especially true when these studies clash with the preliminary results that have been shared worldwide as if they were a new and amazing breakthrough rather than just a promising lead, or when some person or corporation stands to reel in healthy profits from the preferred “truth” reported in the initial study.

    So the point of the article is not that scientific studies can’t be replicated. It’s that people often have preexisting biases that make them WANT a certain result, and that they regard studies that don’t provide that result as “failure” and therefore unworthy of pubication, or in need of overt suppression. It is also a problem that many “positive” studies are only positive because of intentional design changes (like “placebo washouts” or not counting dropouts as failures or changing the primary outcome measure when a secondary measure gives you the answer you want) or sometimes outright dishonesty in reporting the data. THOSE are the studies that are not replicable, the biased studies that DON’T follow true scientific method, and they are not replicable because their underlying hypothesis IS NOT TRUE, and for no other reason.

    So those area my views on the finer points of the scientific method, and I ask that you respect what I am saying as what I really mean and not try to “interpret” some other meaning that is not contained in these words.

    Suffice it to say, I think we’ve had our talk, and it’s starting to deteriorate into a more negative exchange. I think we should leave it at this point, and agree to disagree. It seems unlikely that further discussion will be productive.

  • Well, you were very fortunate. Bullying was common in the schools I attended. There were plenty of good teachers, but also some totally crazy ones. My second grade teacher was screaming and yelling at us one day and tossed a book over our heads against the back wall of the classroom. When I stood up to object (and I NEVER talked back or did ANYTHING to get in trouble, but this was just too much even for me), she came down the aisle and smacked me in the back of the head and took me and another kid who was crying and tossed us out in the hallway. I never even told my mom, it was so NOT surprising that such things happened. A friend of mine was shoved down onto the gravel track by Miss Cooper at the end of recess in front of 100 kids and some staff. Yelling at kids and forcing them to stand at attention for a half hour, flicking them in the head with fingers – all of these were totally normal and accepted by the school staff.

    I think it is pretty biased to say that homeschooling automatically deprives kids of anything. It obviously depends on how it is done.

  • Wow, you REALLY need to stop projecting your assumptions onto me, dude! I AM a scientist (chemist) by training and I would be DEAD at the age of 8 from a ruptured appendix and peritonitis without modern medicine. I am ABSOLUTELY a full supporter of modern medical science, and I fully understand what good and bad research looks like. Where we appear to disagree is that you believe psychiatrists are scientists. I think there is massive SCIENTIFIC evidence that the vast majority are not, and that the entire edifice of psychiatry is built on a foundation of sand and wishes. This does extend to medicine as a whole to some extent, but psychiatry is entirely based on unscientific or antiscientific premises. Look into how those DSM categories are determined, and if you have any degree of intellectual honesty, you will agree with me.

    And in case you think my skepticism re: modern medical research is misplaced or based on emotion, try reading the following, which outlines why the majority of scientific research done today is not replicable, which from a REAL scientific perspective, means it is scientifically untrue:


    Again, I am NOT saying that the drugs prescribed for “psychiatric conditions” can’t be perceived as helpful by those taking them, even life-saving by some. But you and I both know that anecdotes don’t make science, and there is a lot of good science out there that is buried because monied interests don’t want it to come to light. This is covered in the article. Please read it before you come back and try to imply that I am antiscientific again.

  • Yeah, I would have felt the same way! I’d have been SOOOO happy to be at home and able to pursue what made sense to me instead of being bossed around by bullies and teacher/bullies and forced to be together with people I didn’t choose doing activities I had mostly no interest in at all. Homeschooling must be a Godsend for a good percentage of kids, at least the ones who don’t need to escape from their parents/siblings.

  • Maybe they should just get the drug companies to buy them coats, and they can wear the “colors” of their sponsors, kind of like race car drivers. “And now, in the southeast corner, in the bright red coat, representing Eli Lilly, Dr. JO-seph… LIEEEEBERMAAAAAN!”

  • Given the widespread agreement amongst professionals and informed laypeople that “scientific” studies are massively affected by economic and professional conflicts of interest, I’d rather trust my own ability to judge amongst the many stories that told, both by journalists and by professionals, and by those who have experienced the effects of the drugs directly. If we start with the rather obvious and undeniable facts that these drugs cause huge weight gain, diabetes, and heart problems, and knowing that any number of studies have shown extremely shortened lifespans in those diagnosed with “serious mental illnesses” since the pre-drug era, and actually KNOWING people who have died early directly as a result of taking these drugs, the prospect that they shorten lives seems by far the more believable story. Scientists who are schooled in analysis and methodology are also those most capable of abusing their abilities, and recent history is replete with examples of their having done so (Bidedermann’s “juvenile bipolar disorder,” the Viiox scandal, the lies about antidepressants and suicide, the lies about Benzedrine, then Valium, then Xanax being “non-habit forming,” the denial that Tardive Dyskinesia is caused by neruoleptic drugs – shall I go on?) So someone being a scientist does not convince me of their superior reasoning ability OR superior ethics. Maybe that’s where you and I differ here. You trust psychiatrists to be legitimate scientists. I don’t. You believe you have very good reasons for trusting them. And I have very good reasons for not doing so.

  • Fair enough, but still there is no actual way yet established to measure that difference, let alone studies that have actually done so. How many become suicidal coming off their “meds” and becoming psychotic? How many become suicidal going ONTO antipsychotics? How many because sucidal because they are WITHDRAWING FROM antipsychotics? How many would never have been suicidal in the first place if they’d taken another path? These are things we do not know the answers to, so claiming that “lives are saved” when we also know that lives are lost is very, very premature at this point. We don’t know the cost/benefit analysis and will never really find out what it is when so-called “scientists” are dishonest and manipulate data to serve their own interests instead of the interests of the public.

  • Nothing is more stunningly idiotic in recent years than the idea of giving stimulants for “Binge Eating Disorder.” The disorder itself is laughable, clearly invented solely to sell more drugs (not saying that people don’t binge eat, but the “disorder” is defined in the usual superficial, blameful manner). But to “treat” it with stimulants is ridiculous. As if the problem is appetite. And of course, there is no effort to actually look at WHY the person may be eating in this way, only an attempt to bludgeon the body into submission. I find stomach stapling more rational.

  • I would submit that the moment when we are “two people talking” is when real therapy can take place. As for “countertransference,” it is totally and completely normal for therapist and client to form a bond, and for them each to have feelings about the other. The difference SHOULD be that the therapist uses his/her feelings in the service of therapy, and does not take advantage of the client’s vulnerability in even the slightest way. I often found it helpful to share my feelings of the moment with the client when it seemed likely to increase trust or open up a new perspective. After all, they’re sharing their feelings with me, shouldn’t they get to know that they are having an impact, that I’m not a block of wood trained to say, “Go on” every three sentences? People want to talk to another PERSON, a REAL PERSON who interacts with them in a meaningful way. Nobody wants to talk to a “blank slate.”

    That’s my experience, anyway, but I was not a DSM-trained standard therapist. I pretty much made it up as I went along, depending on the client. Kind of Milton Ericson style. I’d probably be fired in a second from most places nowadays.

  • It sounds like you agree that antipsychotics do play a role in shortening lifespan, but that poverty’s role is greater. This is possible but certainly we don’t have data to prove or disprove this hypothesis. But saying “studies show you live longer if you stay on your medication” is a misstatement of fact, and actually contradicts your earlier statements that antipsychotics do, in fact, contribute to the undeniably shortened lifespans that have been reported. The truth is, there are studies claiming one and the other, and the question as to why lifespans for the so-called “SMI” and the role that antipsychotics play is at this point is very complex and can not definitively be answered as you claim.

    The point of this article is that the claims that people live longer on “APs” put forward in THIS set of studies are based on manipulation of data. I think you should be able to admit that there is a major conflict of interest when people who make their money selling drugs and drug prescriptions do such research, and that intentional manipulation of data has been shown to be extremely common in all branches of medicine. The studies in question clearly don’t prove anything, especially given the basis of “person-years” on medication, which even a layperson can see is a pretty poor substitute for the actual lifspans of actual human beings who are on/off antipsychotic drugs.

  • I think there is a big difference between saying, “Corporal punishment won’t destroy kids’ psyches in and of itself” and “It’s really no problem for parents to use corporal punishment.” It’s one of those things where the truth sometimes hurts, and it feels like a criticism of the person who has used spanking, but it’s still the truth. I think it’s fine to say, “You don’t have to worry that you’ve destroyed your kids’ lives just because you spanked them now and then,” and certainly removing kids to foster care for spanking is massive overkill (given the incredible damage done by the very act of foster care placement), but I think it is important to be honest and say that spanking has been shown to be ineffective and potentially damaging, and that there are more child-friendly ways that work better in accomplishing the same goals.

  • Poverty is, of course, a factor in the lifespan differential. But even between the most rich and the most poor, the differential does not even begin to approach 20 years.

    “More precisely, the study shows that in the U.S., the richest 1 percent of men lives 14.6 years longer on average than the poorest 1 percent of men, while among women in those wealth percentiles, the difference is 10.1 years on average.”


    Why is it difficult to believe that drugs which cause obesity, diabetes, and heart disease would be responsible for shortening the lifespan of those who take them? I should think it would be almost impossible to believe they would NOT shorten lifespans, as heart disease and diabetes are very high on the list of killing diseases in the USA and around the world. I find it difficult to take anyone seriously who doesn’t see the almost certain impact of these drugs on lifespan.

    Of course, we should also be asking why our “mental health” system is leaving the huge majority of its “seriously mentally ill” in lifetime poverty. Does that not convey a responsibility for decreasing lifespans, when our “treatment” fails to take into account the quality of life of those being “helped?”

  • Well, of course. I was responding with the idea of “psychiatry” as “carers for the spirit,” psychiatry as it COULD be if they started off by actually believing that such a thing as a human spirit exists.

    Psychiatry is worse than nonsense, or it would already be interested in all the above things I mentioned. The “ADHD” example alone proves that they will bury useful evidence that would reduce the number of diagnosed/drugged kids and promote things that will sell more stimulants. They are a bankrupt profession.

  • For example, looking at indigenous healing practices and indigenous cultures and seeing what they do for “mental health problems.”
    -Looking into why people diagnosed who hear voices have more positive content in countries where culture supports voice healing as a normative experience, and exploring how altering our cultural attitude toward voices might help those suffering right now.
    – Looking at different classroom settings and observing that “ADHD”-diagnosed children do so much better in “open classrooms” than those who are in standard classrooms that they are indistinguishable from “normal” children, and then advocating for revisions in classroom settings instead of drugging the kids who don’t “fit in.”
    – Looking at why it is that certain cultures have almost ZERO incidence of “postpartum depression” while in our culture, it is almost epidemic. Helping move our culture in a direction that emulates those who support new moms in a way that they don’t suffer, based on the evidence of the absence of this suffering in their culture.
    – Studying the interesting phenomenon whereby immigrants develop Western maladies, both “mental” and “physical,” by three generations living in a Western culture. See what it is about Western culture that makes them ill and see if we can stop it.
    – Look at the impact of racism on group experience in terms of emotional experience and behavior.
    – Examine the connection of job satisfaction/”stuckness” to other life indicators, such as mood, marriage success, etc.

    The list is endless. These are things that could be studied using social science methods and might lead to improvements in our social welfare. None of them require labeling anyone as “ill” or “bad” for diverging from what the society considers “normal.” In fact, a real “doctor of the spirit” would dbe working to redefine “normal” toward what works for people instead of what works for the institutions of society. Psychiatry appears to be doing the opposite. If you don’t “fit in,” you’re abnormal and need to be “fixed.” Those who don’t create any problems for the status quo are “normal” and don’t need fixing. “Fixed” is defined as being happy with the status quo (but not TOO happy – then you’d be manic!) It is not working in the interests of improving people’s lives, unless you count the people who are making big bucks out of the enterprise. Sure, there are a number of people who feel better taking their drugs. But people also feel better smoking dope or drinking beer every day. Drinking beer to feel better can be helpful for some, but it’s not a medical treatment.

    So there’s lots to do, but drugging people unhappy with their lives is not particularly productive, IMHO. Especially if you label them as “abnormal” for feeling, thinking or behaving the way they do.

  • Once we allow for subjective “diagnosis” based on observer opinions, there is no end to who and what may get “diagnosed.” I think that’s the clear and obvious conclusion from this observation – when there is no objectively definable line of “normal,” sooner or later, everyone is diagnosable. Which, as you say, makes “abnormal” the new normal!

  • Thanks for your passionate reply.

    There are a couple of things you say that I have to take issue with. First, there is plenty of evidence of significant brain changes due to trauma. This was the primary finding of the “Decade of the Brain” research, which was actually quite different than what was anticipated. More importantly, and less well known, are the findings that the brain can continue to change in a POSITIVE direction when a traumatized person is supported by a healthy adult caretaker or support system. Dr. Bruce Perry is one of the best resources for this. Easy internet searches for these items. Here is one just to get you started: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201809/how-ptsd-and-trauma-affect-your-brain-functioning

    You also seem to conflate “cognitive disability” with “mental illness.” You suggest that most of those severely affected by the syndrome called “schizophrenia” are affected by brain damage. I know of no evidence that this would be true in most cases – there has been a long, intense and frankly biased search for brain damage associations with “schizophrenia” and many other “mental disorders” with little to no results. There is evidence of brain matter loss in people diagnosed with “schizophrenia” over the long term, but Nancy Andreasen’s own research, which she really didn’t WANT to believe at first, showed that antipsychotic drugs cause loss of brain matter when used over the long term, so such studies are meaningless unless controlling for AP use, which is almost never done.

    Finally, you also assume that the “schizophrenia syndrome” is due to different types of “brain malfunction.” As I’m sure you are aware, science proceeds from hypothesis to proof, and it doesn’t work to assume the conclusion that brain malfunction is the cause when that has not been shown to be the case. And your suggestion that the fact that certain drugs “work” to decrease these loosely defined groups of “symptoms” proves an underlying disorder is similarly flawed. Under that reasoning, alcohol must be addressing an underlying “brain malfunction” because anxious people feel better when they get mildly intoxicated. Correlation can’t be used to diagnose anything.

    I very much respect your reframing of “schizophrenia” as a syndrome, something which would really help if we all operated from that assumption. Unfortunately, the current reality in “mental health” research is that these syndromes are being treated as unitary entities for investigation, and that leads to a lot of misleading, trivial and/or meaningless results. I also agree that it is easy to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” if one is too committed to dogma on either side of these questions. I’m a scientist in the end, and at this point, I see no science that really proves that “schizophrenia” is caused by any kind of a brain malfunction, and I am doubtful that continued research will prove any such thing. Partly because, as you say, it is a syndrome, and there may be (probably are) some subgroups that DO have biological causation, but these will never be discovered as long as research is done on “schizophrenia” with the assumption that all cases have the same cause and that this cause is necessarily biological in nature. It is clear from research that trauma has a very high correlation with the syndrome in question, as does urbanization and migration to a foreign culture. It’s also very clear that the manifestations of this “disorder” vary widely depending on the culture in which they occur and how the culture in question responds to such issues. It is, as you suggest, a much more nuanced picture, and until proven otherwise, I think it makes a lot of sense to assume that both nature AND nurture are involved.

  • No, I don’t disagree that we can make factual observations about what people believe. My only point is that science can’t determine “what is right” by the scientific method, and it appears we agree on that point. Sorry if my post sounded dismissive – I was kind of in a hurry last night! And I do think qualitative research is a valid means of studying ethics, though it gets more into sociology/anthropology and is a far distance from medicine. I guess that’s what I’m really getting at here – we can study history and use scientific means to determine certain things about history, but using those methods to make claims about medical treatment of one’s body would be ludicrous. Medicine can be studied from an anthropological/sociological viewpoint, and it has been (“Medicine and Culture” was a great read, comparing medical practices in France, England, Germany and the USA and demonstrating how much of even non-psychiatric medical decisions are made based on cultural beliefs), but this is not a way to determine what is actually wrong with someone or what kind of treatments are effective. Psychiatry would be FAR better off if it viewed itself as a sociological/anthropological soft science and proceeded accordingly, but there’s a lot less drug company money in such an approach.

  • I love your last paragraph! I think it gets to the core of why very few within the ranks question the basic assumptions of psychiatry. I was a dissident voice in the “mental health” field and I can tell you, it is not a comfortable position!

    I do take issue, though, with your assertion that “there is absolutely no possibility that eventually a psychiatrist could not come to the conclusion that it is all a lie.” There are certainly psychiatrists and other “mental health” workers who have come to this conclusion from observing the fact, though admittedly, it is a small minority by my observation. I would suggest that it is very difficult to work in this field at all after having drawing such a conclusion, and most who do so will be unable to live with themselves if they continue to practice as they have done in the past. So they mostly leave an do private work or find another profession. Very few remain in the public “mental health” system once they see what it is actually doing, and those that do, I admire for their courage.

  • It is pretty common for people recovering from a traumatic experience to want to help others do the same. I’d say you’re on the right track in contacting people who have experienced similar things. I wouldn’t waste a lot of time on the “true believers” who can’t consider anything but their own rigid beliefs for fear of their world collapsing, but there are plenty of people who are “on the fence” or who haven’t been helped as promised or who have deteriorated in “psychiatric care” who need people like you to help them out. It’s just a matter of connecting with such people, which isn’t always easy. I also think it’s very important to stay connected with others who agree with your view of things so you don’t start feeling like you’re the “only one.” MIA is really good for that.

    I hope someone who has been exactly where you are can chime in and share how they managed to move forward after this kind of trauma.

  • Ethics is a branch of philosophy. Philosophy is senior to science. Science depends upon a certain philosophy of what is true vs. not true. Ethics has to do with what is GOOD or NOT GOOD. Science can’t answer those questions, except in a mechanical way of measuring X outcome when ethic Y is agreed upon by a society. The decision of what is good or bad is both an individual and a social one and is not really subject to scientific analysis, as it does not provide measurable inputs or outcomes.

    Read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for an incredible exploration of this very subject. It is one of my favorite books of all time.

  • Consensus is completely unrelated to scientific truth. Scientific truth requires proof, usually in the form of vigorous efforts to DISPROVE a particular hypothesis repeatedly failing. The fact that “scientists agree” to something does not make it true or untrue – opinion is not science. And while “beyond a reasonable doubt” certainty is not always attainable, it should be the goal. Instead, what we see is so-called ‘scientists’ collecting evidence to support their own views and hiding things that would cause doubt. That is not science. That is marketing.

  • Hi, William,

    Doctors can prescribe drugs for any indication. It is not a requirement that they have a DSM “diagnosis.” Lots of people get antipsychotic drugs prescribed with no DSM “diagnosis” at all. They prescribe them for sleep problems, for “behavioral disorders,” to “augment antidepressants,” etc.

    Besides which, billing codes are not the same as actual medical diagnoses. If they need to invent a billing code, let them invent a billing code, but let’s not get confused and pretend that a billing code means anything more than that you get paid by the insurance company. The original DSM was, in fact, invented so they could bill insurance companies for “therapy.” The idea that these codes represented actual disease states is quite a distortion of their original purpose, and is utterly unscientific, as there is little to no evidence to suggest that any of these arbitrary groupings by symptom create groups who actually have anything physiologically relevant in common. It would be like billing for “stomach pain.” Sure, you can bill the insurance company for that, but is it indigestion? An ulcer? A gall stone? An intestinal blockage? Appendicitis? Bowel cancer? Each of the things I listed could cause “stomach pain.” So doctors neither diagnose nor treat “stomach pain,” not if they are in any way competent. They’d look for the CAUSE of the stomach pain and treat THAT.” Psychiatry as a profession makes no effort to differentiate between depression due to a loss vs. depression due to a bad boss vs. depression due to insomnia vs. depression due to a low thyroid condition vs. depression due to a long struggle in a dead-end, meaningless job vs. depression due to my husband beating me randomly and controlling everything I do and trying to drive me nuts on purpose. So saying someone “has depression” is pretty close to meaningless.

    I believe the same is true for “schizophrenia.” Many people in the psychiatric field even agree with me on this, and there have been proposals to scrap it as a concept altogether. The fact that professionals in the field disagree as to whether it exists should be reason enough to see that it is not a real scientific concept. Nobody argues about whether cancer or broken legs or syphilis actually exist.

    So if you need a “diagnosis” to get the drug that you feel is necessary, by all means, get a “diagnosis.” I just ask that you not confuse this with an actual, scientific analysis of what is happening that is causing this phenomenon, nor even what to do about it. Antipsychotics can diminish hallucinations, and to a lesser degree, delusions, at least temporarily and at least in some people. That’s about all you can say about it. It is not “treating” a known disease, because no one knows what causes “schizophrenia” or if it’s even a “thing” that has a cause, vs. a phenomenon that is associated with many different causes and possible interventions.

    I hope that clarifies my position on this.

  • I’ve seen kids put on a diet and told they need to exercise more as a response to “antipsychotic” weight gain. Of course, they almost never told the kids there was any relationship with the drugs. I saw one girl’s diabetes disappear within a week or two of discontinuing Seroquel. Crickets from the psychiatrists, of course. I saw one kind graduate from a year-plus long eating disorder program, only to be put on Adderall for “ADHD”. Strangely enough, she stopped eating again. If my CASA volunteer hadn’t intervened, no one would have noticed that the “treatment” for “ADHD” was eliminating her appetite, and would have said her “eating disorder” is “coming out of remission.”

    Not much real medicine being practiced by psychiatrists, at least for the kids in the foster care system.