Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Comments by Steve McCrea

Showing 6954 of 7029 comments. Show all.


    At this point, this discussion seems to be moving in a more personalized direction that I don’t think is going to be productive. A couple things are clear: 1) Everyone has a right to identify as they please; 2) Everyone has a right to object to terminology they find objectionable; 3) when there is a general objection a term that an individual might find workable for him/herself, there is a very distinct possibility of feelings getting hurt.

    It seems to me that the primary conflict is around whether the general discussion of the damage done by psychiatric labels is in some way disrespectful to those who identify with such a label. I’m not going to try and be the final judge on this point, but I will say that the conflict is one that is inherent in the subjectivity of the diagnostic system itself, and is unlikely to be resolved by further discussion of this nature.

    So at this point, I am going to ask that we leave this discussion where it is at, with the acknowledgement that the conflict is not resolved, and that different people have different feelings about it, to which each is fully entitled. Others who want to discuss this further with each other are certainly entitled to do so by direct communication off line. If anyone needs/wants to connect with someone through email for further discussion, I am always happy to assist with making such connections.


  • That makes sense to me. You are empowering the client to evaluate his/her own ability to admit being wrong about his/her perceptions, as well as normalizing a very human tendency to fight the possibility of being “wrong” about one’s ideas or perceptions.

  • It’s a difference between a decision or direction being wrong, and a PERSON or their feelings/reactions being wrong. I agree 100% with your statement that “most ‘mental health’ problems result when people have a goal and then are doing things that actually get them going in the opposite direction without their awareness of that.” So the goal of therapy is to help THE CLIENT to gain an awareness of what direction s/he wants to be going and what barriers, internal and/or external, may be preventing that, including false beliefs that seem to force them to go in the opposite direction. Again, that is very different from saying that the person is wrong for feeling anxious or depressed or angry. Long ago, I learned that the proper approach is to validate/normalize FEELINGS, while challenging BELIEFS/THINKING that is getting in the way of the client’s success.

    And I think you are mistaking me if you think this is about the word “wrong.” It is about the invalidation of a person’s knowledge of or ability to know their own mind and ethics and/or to decide for him/herself what is right/wrong, effective/ineffective, valid/invalid. And it most definitely IS imposing one’s idea of rightness/wrongness when we tell or imply that a person’s emotional reaction is somehow “wrong” or that a person suffers from a “mental illness” simply because s/he engages in behavior that seems irrational or unproductive. I find it much more helpful to help a person identify the reason why something that I think is “irrational” makes sense to them. Once the problem they are trying to solve with the “irrational” behavior becomes clear, it may be possible to consider other solutions that are more coherent with their goals.

    Of course, this is more complicated when a person’s connection to what we consider “reality” is more distant. But I think the same principles apply. It is clearly very ineffective to start off telling someone who hears voices that they are imaginary, or telling someone with a “delusional” belief that their belief is wrong. It’s a question of what really works, not a particular antipathy to the word “wrong.”

  • We do not withhold or approve comments based on opinion or topic. The only comments held back are those which violate the posting guidelines, which are available on the home page. You are entitled to post any opinion you have to share, as long as it’s done respectfully. Of course, others may respond in kind.

    That being said, I have to ask: are you suggesting that the poster is making up this story? At least in terms of the dosages prescribed? Or are you simply shocked that your colleagues would engage in such unscrupulous and unethical behavior?

  • The point is more that I have no right to decide what they are doing is “wrong,” unless it is a violation of the rights of others. I would equally not want to tell someone that their behavior is “right,” as I also believe that is their job to evaluate. So telling them that “there is nothing wrong with you” is also not a viable position. It’s just plain not my call. This also doesn’t prevent me from expressing my concern for the direction someone is going, or pointing out potentially adverse consequences of their continuing on the path they’ve chosen.

    I do also agree that there are “better” or “worse” ways to do a particular task, and that we are doing no favors NOT to tell someone they’re going the “wrong way to get to the Pacific Ocean.” But that’s a different context, where the person has made their goals and intentions clear, and you have information to convey that will help them accomplish their goal. That is very different from saying to someone that feeling depressed about something is “wrong,” that it is “right” to listen to your doctor or teacher, that you are “wrong” not to want to go to school or find it dull, that your perception of the world is “wrong” and that if you agree with mine, you will be more “right.” In a therapeutic setting, it is my job to empower the person I’m helping to become more self-determined and to apply their abilities to creating their own lives. Something is only “wrong” to the degree that it fails to move them in the direction they want to go, and again, no one else is able to determine that definitively besides the client him/herself. Again, the only exception to that in my view is when the client is violating the rights of others, and even then, it is ultimately the client him/herself to decide what that means and how to handle the conflict. Therapy is about empowering the client, not enforcing my view of reality on someone else. And the proof is in the pudding – people who are told what to think and do, in my experience, tend to do worse and worse. And the vast majority of the time, the reason they present as “mentally ill” in the first place is because their sense of self-determinism has been systematically snuffed out of existence. The last thing most clients need is someone else’s needs and wishes to accommodate!

  • I don’t agree. I would never say “there is something wrong with the way you are looking at yourself.” I would ask the person what they were trying to accomplish, and ask them whether they believe their current approach is getting them where they are trying to go. I would also listen for things they felt they “couldn’t do” or “have to do” and ask them to explain how they came to these conclusions. If the person had beliefs I saw as irrational or even non-reality based, I’d ask them to explain how they know these things to be true. I might challenge their beliefs with contrary facts and ask them to explain these differences. I might even say I disagreed with them about certain conclusions. But at no point would I ever tell them that something is “wrong” with how they were looking at themselves. That is simply not my job. It is their job, 100%.

  • Absolutely. To determine “overdiagnosis,” one would have to determine objectively the proper level of diagnosis. With the shifty, subjective, hazy criteria designed for “ADHD” or any other DSM “diagnosis,” there is no possible way to objectively diagnose even one single person. So yes, ANY “diagnosis” is overdiagnosis. Or in other words, DSM “diagnoses” are fraudulent, 100%. Not that human suffering isn’t real nor that people don’t need extra support sometimes. But calling these things “diagnoses” is, scientifically speaking, a complete joke.

  • Hi, Ron!

    I think there is a difference between a person deciding for him/herself that there is something “wrong” with their beliefs, assumptions, habits and someone ELSE telling us that something is “wrong” with us, or deciding exactly what it IS that is “wrong” with us. And deciding there is something “wrong” with our own belief systems is highly subjective and personal, very, VERY different than saying there is something wrong with my blood pressure or my ability to breathe or my immune system. The question of what “wrong” means and who gets to decide this is essential to having this kind of conversation make sense.

  • It always bothered me a lot when institutionalized children/adults had hands laid on them by staff, and when they fought back, they were accused of “assault,” and sometimes even charged criminally! The “CLIENTS” were assaulted by the staff and were fighting back! It is stunning that this obvious fact seems to be lost not only on “mental health professionals,” but on our entire legal system. Defending oneself can’t be considered an assault!

  • Couldn’t agree with you more! Detaining someone for being dangerous should NOT in any way be considered as or associated with “treatment” or “diagnosis” at all. Social control is social control. As I’ve said many times, without even arguing about the obvious failings of the destructive psychiatric model, as soon as you introduce force, it can no longer be considered in the realm of “treatment.”

  • I am never one to justify violent behavior, just because someone is enraged. But I find it predictable and understandable, even if it is ineffectual and counterproductive in most cases.

    Of course, there ARE cases where violence IS justified, when one’s safety or the safety of others is involved. In such cases, the minimum force should be used, but the use of force isn’t always “wrong.”

  • I would suggest that King was not advising or supporting violence (he was a VERY strong advocate of a nonviolent approach), but more putting the violence from the poor and disenfranchised into perspective. While he supported nonviolence, he understood that if you push people enough and deny them their voice, their frustration and anger will in many cases be translated into rage and violence. So a person wanting to reduce violence would be wise to start listening to those who are shouting but not being heard.

  • I would add domestic abuse and child abuse to your list. Both are highly associated with “mental health” issues. But of course, that must be because people being abused have bad genes or something. Couldn’t be that the trauma themselves cause “mental health symptoms?”

  • All I can say is, very well said, and I agree completely. I just wonder how many other people we see “acting normal” who go home and order takeout because they are utterly exhausted from “acting normal” and who lay on their couches crying or numbing themselves out watching Netflix.

  • Bruce Perry is a man who tells it like it is, backed by solid research. The psych mainstream really WANTS to dismiss him completely, but can’t, because he’s so solidly based in research. They have chosen to coopt and minimize his contributions, focusing on “trauma changes the brain” as a means to justify more drugging, and forgetting Bruce’s main theme, which is, “Healthy relationships can HEAL the brain, even in adulthood.” The latter message is unacceptable and has been muted by every possible means the psych professions have had at their disposal. This looks like an important read. I hope that Oprah’s stamp of approval gets it the wide viewing it most likely deserves.

  • The whole idea that people can be divided into the “mentally ill” and the “normal” is brought into sharp relief by your analysis. A “normal” person who gets intimidated by his/her boss and starts feeling anxious and avoids him/her is considered to be “under stress.” A “mentally ill” person with the exact same reactions to the exact same situation is considered to be “having symptoms” or “decompensating.” It is nothing but rank prejudice and discrimination, not dissimilar in structure to white people engaging in violent acts being considered “lone wolves” or “troubled men” when black people doing the exact same thing are considered “thugs” and Muslim people doing the same thing are considered “terrorists.” This is perhaps the most important reason that “mental health” labels in general are ultimately destructive, even if a particular person doesn’t mind or appreciates their particular label. These labels are more or less arbitrary, and enable folks to engage in systematic discrimination without consequence against people who have them. In fact, these labels make such discrimination virtually invisible to most people who observe it happening. Instead of seeing it as condescending disrespect, the discriminators can frame it as “helpful concern” and the observers allow that framing unless they are quite enlightened.

  • Same thing happens with “ADHD.” They give the kid stimulants to increase their dopamine levels. They often become aggressive, lose sleep, even hallucinate sometimes. Then they give them antipsychotic drugs to DECRASE the dopamine levels that they are INCREASING with the stimulants! Why not just STOP INCREASING the dopamine by giving them less stimulants? No, that would be too simple and not make them enough money, I guess! That is REAL insanity!

  • All too true! I’m tired of hiking being called “nature therapy,” or expressing oneself through artistic media being called “art therapy,” or meditating on the meaning and purpose of existence being called “mindfulness therapy.” Some things are just good things to do. I would hate to think they will turn Harry Potter into “fantasy fiction therapy” instead of just being a good read!

  • Bullying is, indeed, the more fundamental problem. Psych labels are merely the bully’s tools.

    I appreciate your clarity about why you wanted a “diagnosis.” I’m sure your feeling is shared by many, that lacking a “diagnosis” means you are not taken seriously. But I would toss out the question: why in our society is it necessary to have a “diagnosis” to be taken seriously? Maybe that is a problem even more fundamental than bullying itself!

  • I agree absolutely. The word has been “polluted” by the cultural context surrounding it, at least for me. It is associated in our culture with violence, destructiveness, lack of value, and shame. It is interesting that in other cultures in which “voice hearing” is more accepted, “Voice hearers'” voices are actually more positive and helpful. How we choose to view phenomena and how we choose to name them has power. At a minimum, that power should not be usurped by the “professionals,” but I’m afraid most of these labels have already been appropriated culturally to the point that their personal meaning is difficult to untangle from their cultural meaning.

  • Another of those weird “Medicalized” headlines. Why not just say, “Financial debt is depressing and anxiety-provoking?” Why the resort to “mental health outcomes,” as if getting upset about financial problems is some sort of disease or “disorder” or failing of the person in debt? Why not just admit that being in debt sucks?

  • You write very powerfully! And I appreciate your comments very much, and your kind words for me as well.

    I think the only REAL way to be non-judgmental is to understand that we are ALL judging all the time, and to become AWARE of and acknowledge one’s judgment, to the degree that one is able to view those very judgments themselves objectively enough to set them aside and not put them onto the other person. It is difficult to describe, but I do believe it is most definitely possible to accomplish, at least enough that the person we are dealing with doesn’t feel they are being judged and sees that you are able to hear what they really are saying instead of what you think they ought to say or mean.

    I am reminded of a quote from the Princess Bride by your closing paragraph: “Live IS pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.”

  • I think the person suffering has every right to identify their “problem” or “issues” however they would like to view them. My objection is when another person tries to take that right away by deciding for you what your “problem” is. It would be one thing if they are saying, “You have a brain tumor” or “Your blood pressure is higher than normal.” But instead, they are judging their clients/patients/whatever based on some set of arbitrary rules and pretending they know what they’re talking about.

    I respect YOUR views on your condition/situation WAY more than any “professional” who might come along and condescend to “diagnose” you!

  • Excellent analysis!

    I always figured the best assessment tool was to ask the client what s/he felt was troubling them, and then ask what they would like to see be different in their lives. Then ask them what barriers they saw to making that happen. Depending on what they said, there would be a whole lot of different things they could do to move in the direction they wanted to. No “clinical judgment” or “diagnosis” or “spectrum disorders” required!

  • Waste of time. The “model” fails to alter the most basic and incorrect assumptions of the DSM, namely, that a “clinician,” by virtue of some level of training and education, can look at someone’s behavior, mood, or thinking and objectively determine if there is something “wrong” with them. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, we’re substituting human judgment for actual scientific observation and attributing “medical” legitimacy to someone’s biases and opinions based solely on what kind of degree or training they have. As long as we pretend that we are “diagnosing” a “mental illness,” it doesn’t matter if we use HiTop or the DSM or the ICD or a dart board, we’re wasting a lot of energy categorizing what kind of iceberg hit the Titanic instead of trying to keep the ship from sinking or getting the passengers to the lifeboats!

  • Well, no community just IS that way, it has to be CREATED that way and continue to be created that way over time. I have experienced that from time to time in my life, but only for a little while. It is difficult to get everyone on board with that kind of ongoing creation. We’ve all grown up in an oppressive society and we all need healing!

  • Humans are social animals/beings. Most don’t do well when isolated. We seem to thrive when living in communities. The failure of psychiatry to even notice let alone try to understand this simple fact makes it impossible for psychiatry to ever be of any help to anyone. The Rat Park experiment alone puts the lie to the vast majority of psychiatric research – obviously, if community and activities can change even a rat from a cocaine addict into a “normal” community member, the idea that addiction or “mental illness” is inherent in the person seems pretty stupid.

  • Usually, when a practitioner “wants to protect you,” it usually means they want to protect THEMSELVES from the feelings you evoke in them. If YOU get “treatment,” then THEY will feel better. It has little to nothing to do with your needs!

  • That sounds like an AWFUL experience! I ran into quite a few of these situations when I worked with foster youth. The easiest “disease” to attribute to your child is a “psychiatric disorder,” because there is no objective way to prove that the “diagnosis” is right or wrong. It is the “Munchhausen parent’s” paradise!

    I hope you have found other adults to validate the bizarreness of this experience. I was not meaning to imply that you were validating the DSM “diagnoses,” I was just expressing my own discomfort with assigning a “disorder” that is in no way validated or validatable, rather than just describing the behavior that is of concern for what it is. You certainly did a fine job of doing the latter!

  • I have always considered “transparency” a joke. “I’m taking bribes from Big Pharma to promote their drugs. Here are the companies paying me off.” And then the get to go ahead and make “recommendations” based on who is paying them, and no one stops them. How about disqualifying anyone on the take from participating in making practice recommendations? How about forbidding researchers at colleges and universities from taking any funds from industry directly, as used to be the case when I was a kid? As soon as you can use your research grant to get a patent and make a ton of money, your scientific objectivity is shot to hell, I don’t care who you are. Publishing one’s conflicts of interest is a useless and ridiculous measure. Preventing conflicts of interest is what we need to be doing.

  • “Munchhausen’s by proxy” to me isn’t something to “diagnose,” it’s just another phenomenon that most likely has multiple causes and multiple effective interventions. Drugs obviously are not one of the effective approaches.

    Rather than call it “Munchhausen’s by proxy,” why not just say, “This person likes/needs to believe that his/her children are ill to meet some personal need of their own.”

  • Generally, yes. If something doesn’t show up and I haven’t sent you a note, by all means, check in with me. Sometimes I think I’ve approved things that somehow don’t get approved, and sometimes I forget to write the note to ask you to explain. It is rare that I change or remove something without connecting with you in some way, so please check back in with me if you are wondering what happened.

  • What it means is that the doctors are not prescribing based on scientific evidence. They are motivated by different factors, including keeping parents happy, feeling like they are “doing something,” fitting in with social expectation, and/or increasing their personal income, to name a few possibilities. It is not a problem of information or knowledge. It is a problem of improper motivation.

  • Posting as moderator:

    I am allowing this comment, despite stopping this thread earlier, because the poster relies on personal experience and research data in her comment and is presenting the evidence she has encountered in a respectful manner. I am not inviting a return to the personalized, escalating rhetoric that was occurring previously. Others who wish to present their own personal experiences with COVID vaccinations are welcome to do so, particularly as it pertains to any pressures, oppression, or neglect based on “mental health” labels. Personal experiences are always welcome. Personal attacks and invalidation are not.

  • I’m not sure I agree. There are power differentials that exist in almost any relationship. It is the negotiated terms of the relationship that allow or disallow connectedness. If the person in the higher power position chooses to be respectful and genuine and chooses not to use that power over the other person, I think connectedness is still possible. But if one person actually views himself as superior and is willing to disregard or condescend or otherwise use his/her “power over,” then I agree there can be no connectedness between them. To connect, there needs to be sufficient safety for both parties.

  • Conflicts of interest are an enormous problem in the government right now, at least in the USA. There’s a revolving door with Big Pharma. I believe more than 50% of the FDA membership should be people who have no relationship to the pharmaceutical or medical industries at all. Indeed, why would we believe the fox when he says he’ll guard the chicken coop for us?

  • They have not researched “deaths of despair” because they don’t recognize despair as a legitimate complaint. There should BE no despair, as far as their model is concerned. Despair is indicative of “illness,” even if it’s caused by being hung upside down in a dungeon and tortured by people who have promised you will never escape. The tortured person should apparently have a better attitude, or else the reason they’re so upset is because their brain chemistry is messed up. If they were “normal,” it would not bother them much to be tortured. They’d just accept it as another one of those crazy things that happen in life!

  • I am sure they don’t cure infections, but they have been noted to have strong effects on pain, nausea, emotional conditions, fatigue, etc. These effects are apparently measurable and observable in the brain.


    More convincingly, how the brain is used has been shown to alter the function of the brain itself. Taxi drivers develop an increase in areas of the brain associated with geography; meditating monks have an increase in areas of the brain associated with calmness and relaxation, as well as alterations in brain wave activity.


    One can say, “Well, they’re using that part of the brain more, so it’s more developed.” But WHO or WHAT is using that part of the brain more? And HOW is that decided? These are things we simply do not understand.

    The mind is and remains a mystery. It appears to have effects on the body, but how these effects are created is not remotely understood by any in the world of science. What “the mind” even IS is not understood by scientists. I don’t claim to have any understanding of it myself, I’m just pointing out that claims that understanding the brain means understanding the mind are similar to claims that understanding electrical circuitry is the same as understanding computer programming. They are very different things.

  • I would say that the brain is an organ, while the mind appears to be an agent of controlling the body. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that the mind does somehow arise from the brain, but that is certainly not proven, nor is there even evidence to say it is so, other than materialists saying, “It must be, because what else could it be?” But regardless of that, there is tons of evidence that the mind, whatever that is, is able to control the body, including the brain, in many, many different ways. The placebo effect is a great example. How can believing that something will work help the body to heal or change? Obviously, there is some form of agency that uses beliefs and goals to move the body to do things. Perhaps the concept of a “programmer” is the best analogy. Lots of people refer to the “hardware” (the brain) and the “software” (whatever programs the brain is running), yet no one seems to remember that someone has to WRITE the programs for a computer to run! So who is the “programmer” of the human brain? That’s what I’d call the mind. And again, it is a mystery – no one really has a clue what it is or how it works, but it is clear that it DOES exist and it DOES work, and pretending that we’re just a brain is as dumb as pretending a computer is just a bunch of electronic components and wires. Try to run a computer without software and see what happens! Try to program a computer without a programmer and see how far you get.

  • I agree 100% on THAT point! I think I’m emphasizing more what people’s attitudes have become, and you are emphasizing more how that attitude has been used to mislead the public. There is nothing “rational” about believing some subset of humanity, with sufficient intelligence and training, can somehow determine what is “true” for the rest of us. It’s just as superstitious as believing in evil spirits. Maybe a little more so!

  • Right you are! The very essence of science is skepticism, the willingness to invalidate any and all conclusions in the face of new data, and in fact, the drive to do all we can to try and invalidate a particular theory that SEEMS to be true, and only accepting it as truth when all other explanations are proven to fail. And even then to be prepared for new data to force modification. The concept of “scientific truth” is badly misused, as “scientific truth” by definition is always subject to change. Even Newton’s Laws of Motion, long held up as the ultimate in “proven fact,” ended up being approximations. Who knows what we’ll discover in the future, if we stop pretending that some “smart people” already know everything and that we can stop looking and just let them tell us what is true!

  • True, but a slightly different issue from what I’m talking about. The idea of science being “value neutral” is extremely problematic, as Robert Pirsig so eloquently elucidates in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” But what I’m talking about is a form of almost religious worship of Scientists as the All Knowing, so smart and informed that us mere parishioners are too ignorant and easily misled to be able to understand their deep knowledge. Doing what the Scientists say makes us Smart and Clever free from the curses of Superstition and Blind Faith! The fact that this is another form of Blind Faith does not occur to the faithful. Science is Truth, and to question this is Sacrilege! Oops, I mean Unscientific! Psychiatry is able to use this kind of blind faith to maintain its hegemony despite the fact that their own scientific researchers (not to mention basic logic) have proven that their diagnoses are nonsense and that their “treatments” tend to make people worse rather than better, and in fact to shorten their lives. To question Psychiatry is to question Science, and who are we to question the wisdom of the Great Scientific Gurus!

  • A lot of people are “pro-scientist” rather than “pro-science.” They thing science is something that other smart people in lab coats do, and they then report their findings honestly and all we need to do is follow their recommendations. The idea that scientists could be dishonest or corrupt or just plain incompetent and narrow-minded is too much for them to process. It’s more like a religion than a logical conclusion. Real science is scary to those people, because it requires them to personally sift and evaluate the evidence, instead of deferring to “the authorities.” So they get very upset at people who question their “pro-scientist” dogma!

  • Getting a Masters Degree in Education disabused me of any delusion that having an advanced degree means you’ve met some much higher standard of knowledge. My grad courses were WAY easier than most of my undergrad education, and a student could easily get through the entire curriculum while having not the slightest skill or motivation toward caring about kids’ learning. I’m absolutely certain the same would apply to a psychology degree. The only truly useful part was my internship, and that was because I was lucky enough to land a good mentor teacher to work with.

    An advanced degree means pretty much nothing about someone’s skill level or integrity.

  • He is ABSOLUTELY a victim of psychiatry. I hope no one is disputing that fact. Again, my disappointment is only that a person with such a large platform has missed an opportunity to get the word out about his victimization, especially since his own philosophy as stated is so consistent with a critical attitude toward the kind of “solutions” psychiatry has offered.

  • As for me, I feel no hostility toward him at all, just a certain sadness and disappointment that such a fantastic opportunity to direct his energies toward that profession which is most strenuously opposed to his philosophy, even when he was victimized by that profession. But it is very hard to admit when you’ve been victimized, especially for those who revere doctors as being automatically more trustworthy than the general population.

    I wish him well, and hope he sees soon what seems clear to us who are further down the road.

  • It does seem ironic that he is telling people to face their emotions and not try to “fog” them, while taking antidepressants for years and then getting dependent on Benzos by following his doctors’ advice. Wouldn’t you think he’d see the irony here and come out and acknowledge that he’d been led down the garden path? I feel compassion for him, but he’s missing a great opportunity to promote his ideas by challenging the cultural assumption that “feelings” can be a “disorder” that needs to be “treated” rather than understood and faced as Peterson insists is necessary to get away from our overly “orderly” society.

  • I think the clinical approach is called either “corruption” or “stupidity.” We could give it a fancier name if you’d like.

    Adderall can certainly counteract the effects of “antipsychotics,” especially the traditional ones like Haldol that act solely on dopamine. It appears that is why smoking is so very common for users of neruoleptics. (What, it’s not because they are all lazy, irresponsible addicts? But, but…) But what sense is there to raising dopamine levels with one drug while lowering them with another? Meth would absolutely work similarly. Stimulants are pretty much all the same, except perhaps for cocaine.

  • My understanding is that the shrinkage is primarily in the basal ganglia, where a lot of dopamine is processed on its way to the frontal lobes. (If I recall correctly, this was the part of the brain that lobotomies attacked, leading some to call neuroleptic “treatment” a “chemical lobotomy.”) This makes sense, because dopamine is the target of the “antipsychotics” aka neuroleptic drugs. I also seem to recall something about reduction in white matter, the stuff that surrounds the neurons. Tardive dyskinesia is clearly and unarguably caused by damage to the dopamine system, only seen in people taking dopamine inhibitor drugs like the neuroleptics, and it would stand to reason that damage to the dopamine system would associate with TD, though I have not researched that question.

  • Indeed it does! But apparently, they don’t even respect their own “experts” when they come up with the “wrong answer!” These are not people who are going to suddenly say, “Gosh, we seem to have gotten it wrong – maybe we should listen to our clients in the future.” They are dogmatically committed to their worldview and to taking down anyone who dares to challenge that view. I want to extend my love to such people and hope for their transformation, but we can’t allow such people to decide what is “helpful” for the people they truly don’t give a crap about!

  • Of course, alcohol feels good, too, and I used to enjoy marijuana before it started making me a little paranoid. I have no objection to people using whatever drugs work for them, but it’s sure not a sign of psychiatric drugs “working” to “treat mental disorders!”

  • Not to mention denying the evidence from their own researchers: that “ADHD” is 30% more likely to be “diagnosed” if a child is a year younger, that there are no long-term outcomes that are improved by stimulants for “ADHD”, that “antidepressants” increase the likelihood of aggression and/or suicide rather than decreasing them, that taking “antipsychotics” for more than a brief time dramatically DECREASES the likelihood of recovery, that countries with less “antipsychotic” use have better outcomes, that the likelihood of “psychosis” is strongly affected by social conditions, in particular, migration, urban living, and childhood sexual abuse, that genetics contributes little to nothing to the probability of any psych “diagnosis,” that “antipsychotics kill people decades earlier than the general population… I could go on.

    I agree, the most fundamental evidentiary problem is ignoring the actual experiences and feedback from those they are supposed to be helping. You’d think that would be the MOST important data, and it is considered the least. But even without that vital consideration, the profession’s ability to ignore cartloads of inconvenient evidence disqualifies them for even the vaguest consideration of being “scientific!”

  • I agree completely. School in its entirety was a total violation of any sense of safety or self-determination I had. I was in internal revolt for 13 years, but externally acted like things were OK, except for one or two incidents of acting out over the years. It is very damaging, and is only one of many ways in which we have to deny our intuitive sense of what is right in order to survive.

  • Thanks for pointing out the subtleties of your comment! Your writing borders on the poetic!

    I don’t think it is inevitable that we are required to disrespect our own instincts and rhythms. It seems to relate largely to having too many people for the space we have, and having too few people with too much power to direct others’ behavior for their convenience. And we all accept it at this point, or most of us. I think a lot of ‘mental illness’ comes from internalizing these expectations.

  • It can hardly be considered coffee’s fault that our circadian rhythms are not respected. I’d view coffee as mostly an effect – an attempt by individuals whose circadian rhythms are PERFORCE disrupted by a society that does not respect them to do something to maintain their alertness in spite of the constant assault on their natural rhythms of sleep and lots of other things. This disrespect begins in the cradle (remember forced feeding schedules and intentional waking of babies who “slept too long” for their arbitrary schedules?) and continues through school (how many days were we all forced to “go to sleep on time” and get up at a ridiculous hour to spend a day of largely wasted time in a building we hated with people we were forced to associate with doing things that someone else decided were important?) and of course is brutally enforced in the workplace for most of us who have had to do a “job” to maintain survival for ourselves and our families.

    Let’s not blame coffee for doing a job that our society has created for it! Remember the Rat Park experiment – rats DON’T prefer cocaine to food when their social and emotional needs are met!

  • It is a typical, dense, heavy-handed, insensitive, context-absent psychiatric intervention. If someone doesn’t eat enough, let’s give them a drug to make them hungry! If they eat too much, let’s give them a drug to make them LESS hungry! If they take stimulants (which increase dopamine) and become aggressive, forget DECREASING the stimulants, let’s give them antipsychotics to decrease the dopamine we’re increasing with the stimulants!

    It’s like watching someone try to do sculpture with a pickaxe. They have no tool to do the job, but insist on doing it anyway, and regardless of the damage done, never seem to conclude that perhaps they ought to find a small chisel and hammer, but continue to hack away with the pickaxe and require everyone else to admire their “work.”

  • But cigarettes can also uncover a latent coughing disorder. Which, of course, we can treat with an anti-coughing medication. And later on, you may develop lung cancer. We have found that lung cancer patients seem to have a penchant for cigarettes earlier in their lives. We believe a chemical imbalance in those pre-disposed to lung cancer also leads them to crave cigarettes. Of course, the cigarettes are just a meaningless correlation – the couldn’t POSSIBLY be a causal factor!

  • This seems to be so difficult for some people to understand. To say “there are no ‘mental illnesses’ is not the same as saying that this kind of suffering doesn’t happen. It means that the categories they define don’t mean anything at all! You can group together people with brittle fingernails or people who clean out their ears with their pinkies or people whose hair falls out early or people who have larger breasts on the average, and any one of these can be defined by a list of “criteria” and people can be diagnosed with “Excessive Ear Cleaning Disorder” or whatever you please. But if the grouping of people has nothing in common other than the ostensible “symptoms,” what is the point of it? And to then attribute these “disorders” to “neurodevelopment” without a shred of evidence adds insult to injury! Plus, if some subset of these people really DID have a neurological problem, the psych “diagnoses” immediately become a barrier to discovering this, because they’d be grouped together with a large cohort of people who did NOT have the same problem, and no one would look at these people with an interest in finding the cause.

    There is no scientific validity to any “mental disorder.” They are based on arbitrary judgments and assumptions that have no coherent meaning. This is not to say people don’t suffer these described syndromes at times. It’s saying that calling these collections “mental disorders” is worse than pointless – it actually prevents any recognition of any ACTUAL physiological problems that DO exist, while invalidating the importance of life experience as the most important contributing factor to most mental/emotional distress.

  • I don’t disagree at all. The point is not that acting out of anger is always OK, but that feeling anger is not a “disease” and behavioral choices are not ma “disorder.” They are choices. And choices have consequences. And if we want different consequences, we need to make different choices, and we can use our feelings in different ways rather than trying to snuff them out or feel guilty for having them.

  • Clearly, that is central. The need to define “normal” and to attack or demonize anything that deflects from that “normal” seems to be critical to this effort. This way, everyone is focused on whether they are “happy enough” or “good enough” or “smart enough” or “pretty enough” and so on, instead of wondering where this anxiety and frustration is coming from!

  • “Neoliberalism is contemporarily used to refer to market-oriented reform policies such as “eliminating price controls, deregulating capital markets, lowering trade barriers” and reducing, especially through privatization and austerity, state influence in the economy.”


  • “A more recent analysis estimates 128,000 Americans die each year as a result of taking medications as prescribed – or nearly five times the number of people killed by overdosing on prescription painkillers and heroin. Sep 27, 2016”


  • https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/22/medical-errors-third-leading-cause-of-death-in-america.html

    Note that the now use the term “medical errors,” but over 120,000 deaths included in the original study (back in 2001 or so – more than half!) resulted from properly prescribed and properly administered drugs. So it doesn’t require an “error” for doctors to kill you. Standard medical practice does the job more than half the time.

  • The ultimate subgroup is a single person. If you break it down far enough, you end up with individualized “treatment,” which is what should be happening anyway, if any “treatment” at all is considered appropriate.

    Of course, there is “heterogeneity” in a group you put together based entirely on how they FEEL at a given moment in time. The idea that people who feel depressed are all the same is the most basic deception psychiatry is based on.

  • I’m just going from stats here. Most mass shootings are perpetrated by young men who are misogynistic and have a history of drug abuse, or are on psych drugs. I am certain older men would factor in there as well, as being MALE is the most common characteristic by far of all shooters. My point is, if we’re going to create a profile, we ought to base it on actual correlations, and “mental illness” doesn’t even come close to making the cut!

  • Actually, that is a good point! If they are advertising being “evidence based medicine,” isn’t that a tacit admission that their prior “medicine” was NOT evidence based?

    Of course, it is impossible to have a real evidence base for “disorders” that are not objectively distinguishable from non-“disordered” conditions, which the DSM itself admits in its introduction is the case for any and all of the DSM “diagnoses.” Kind of like collecting “evidence” to “treat” laziness or cowardice or spontaneity or joy. It is an illogical proposition from the word go.

  • Well said. If we were going to “profile” the dangerous person who needs to have an eye kept on them, it would be a younger male domestic abuse perpetrator with a substance abuse problem (or on certain psych drugs) and an obsession with weapons. “Mental illness,” whatever that means, would not even make it onto the board as a risk factor. Most gun owners are safe, most people labeled “mentally ill” are safe. We should be looking at the actual risk factors if we are going to try and prevent such situations from arising.

  • I see it as a constant struggle. There are people who believe they “know best” and should be the authorities, and others who resist are “wrong” and need to change their viewpoints or attitudes to comply with what “we know is true.” This kind of arrogance in a “helper” is incredibly dangerous, because the “helper” has no naturally occurring reason to stop or question his/her activities, since s/he is automatically doing good by virtue of being the authority!

    The other group, which I think is a lot smaller, is those whose intent is to increase the self-determination of the people they help. People in this group would be horrified by the idea of telling someone what to believe or think about their own situation, and instead are focused on helping this person gain sufficient perspective to evaluate their own lives and tell their own stories, unencumbered by any “expected” way of thinking or acting.

    Of course, there are many who don’t really belong to either group and can be swayed one way or the other. Unfortunately, at this time in history at least, Group One has control of the mass media and the main messages we receive are authoritarian ones, and those working for empowerment are considered foolish or dangerous.

    That’s my take, anyway!

  • I don’t think we are talking about the same thing if you are saying that “repressed” memories can’t be spontaneously recalled. If “repression” per se exists, it would involve an immediate action of putting this memory out of consciousness for purposes of self-protection. There is nothing in the concept of “repression” that would say such a memory could not later be spontaneously recalled or triggered, in fact, this is exactly what PTSD researchers find happens when a person gets triggered. They may have had some vague awareness that “something bad happened during the war” or “my uncle used to creep me out when he came in my room,” but then something reminds the person of what actually occurred, and the memory comes back up in more detail.

    I am certain that there are people who have chosen to distort this admittedly theoretical mechanism to explain how such events happen in order to justify “pulling out” memories that the client is “repressing,” then I say they are behaving reprehensibly. As I think I’ve made clear, there is no excuse for such a shabby form of “therapy.” It sounds like we agree on most points, and are perhaps having different meanings for the term “repression” that are causing us to think we’re disagreeing.

    Thanks for working through this with me.

  • I agree with you – not knowing is quite dangerous!

    When I say “unethical,” I’m referring to acting on the therapist’s idea of what they “should do” rather than on the observable effects on the client. It would follow that there are a lot of unethical therapists practicing. A truly ethical therapist is humble, knowing first off that it’s better to do nothing than to do harm, and knowing secondly that anything they DO attempt needs to be filtered through the knowledge that inadvertent harm is easily done and not always readily observable. A competent therapist is one who is constantly getting feedback from the client, verbally and nonverbally, and altering one’s approach to meet the needs of the client rather than the therapist’s need to be perceived as “competent” or “insightful” or “skilled” or to prove that the therapist’s school of thought is “correct.”

    In my experience, there is nothing that harms a client more than telling the client what to think about his/her own narrative. Telling them that their memories are “false” or telling them that they “have memories that they don’t recall” are equally destructive, and it should be obvious to anyone looking at the client’s reaction that such actions create confusion and uncertainty, and those are two things we should NOT be creating as therapists!

    My biggest objection to the DSM is not the drugs, it is the action of the doctor/therapist telling the client what to think or believe about their “condition” or needs. Even if such an evaluation were based on facts, it is still not going to be helpful to tell the client “here’s what’s wrong with you.” When such an evaluation is based on raw speculation or invention, as the DSM “diagnoses” almost entirely are, it probably crosses over from unethical treatment to criminal fraud in my view.

  • Wow, that’s a pretty bent assumption there! I know many people who believe that people could recall prior abuse that they have not recalled previously who would find the idea of “recovered memory therapy” horrific and abusive. Perhaps we travel in different circles. There is absolutely no connection between the ability to recall memories previously not available to the conscious mind and the vindication of therapy that implants “memories” that never occurred, or assumes the presence of “memories” from a vague and subjective list of “signs and symptoms” that has no scientific validation.

    And I would add that the possibility of this discussion is certainly NOT foreclosed upon just because of the observations that some abusers have used the concept to discredit their accusers. Both can be valid at the same time. There is no contradiction that I can see.

  • So we are playing semantic games now? You know no more than I do about why someone doesn’t recall something that happens, or what mechanism is involved in them being “spontaneously recalled.” I hear no science about this, just a redefinition on your part.

    So we can agree that a traumatic memory could be “forgotten” and then “spontaneously recalled” based on some environmental stimulus? In that case, there isn’t much we are arguing about. We’re both saying that something could be forgotten and then recalled later, and the fact that it wasn’t recalled doesn’t mean that the spontaneous recollection is false. Seems like splitting some pretty fine hairs to me.

  • You can say the same thing over and over, but it doesn’t make it true. First off, there is nothing “fantastical” about the idea that people would choose on some level not to consciously recall something that was troubling them. If they can “spontaneously recall” something they didn’t before, why could that thing they “spontaneously recall” be a traumatic event??? Your argument makes no sense at all!

    My point regarding memories is that YOU are not in a position to tell ME what I recall is true or false. OF COURSE, people have inaccurate recollection that are contaminated by later experience or poor questioning or whatever. My point is that NO ONE can say if the recollection is true or false absent confirmation from objective data. As this is almost never possible, we are left with the subjective problem with memory in general.

    For instance, the person who recalls what they believe was abuse may be confused or recall incorrectly. Absolutely. But why does this same reasoning not apply to the person who denies that it happens? Could the alleged abuser or other family members not have their recalls contaminated by later experience, or by their on conflict of interest in wanting to minimize the damage they have done or to avoid legal consequences? Do we require a “mechanism” to explain how people who are guilty of abuse claim to be innocent, and often BELIEVE themselves to be innocent in contradiction to actual facts?

    It is very interesting how the recollections of those claiming abuse are so closely scrutinized, and frankly thoughtlessly invalidated on occasion, while the recollections of those denying the abuse are so readily accepted as true? Why do THOSE “false memories” not concern the “false memory” crowd?

  • Again, these two things have nothing in common. One is a spontaneous process that occurs within a person, the other is an effort to induce or implant memories in people who have none. The latter is NOT caused by the concept of repression, it is caused by unethical therapists who are either greedy or unable to deal with their own issues and act them out on their clients. If they did not have “repression” to use as a blunt instrument, they’d come up with another one. And many do. How many professionals believe they can “detect bipolar disorder” (or whatever other “disorder du jour”) and tell people they “have it” without any objective way to say it is true, and without the slightest consideration of the viewpoint of their “client?” This is not caused by the concept of “bipolar disorder.” It is caused by unethical practitioners, and is far, far more common than the “false memory” phenomenon.

    It is important not to blame a concept or idea for how people choose to use it. No one should be telling anyone what they should believe about their own experience. THAT is the problem!

  • The majority of experts also believe that psychiatric drugs address biological anomalies in human brains, despite the complete lack of evidence that “mental illness” of any sort is associated with biological anomalies, nor that psychiatric “diagnoses” are meaningful entities that identify homogeneous groups, nor that people so “treated” do better in the long run (and significant evidence that on the average, they do NOT do better). The majority of experts are comfortable with a 30+% Caesarian section rate. The majority of experts believe that “treating” youth with “antidepressants” is good treatment, despite overwhelming evidence that there is no benefit to such “treatment” for children and that the recipients of such “treatment” are MORE likely to kill themselves or feel like doing so. The majority of experts once believed that Thalidomide was safe, that Benzodiazepines were not addictive, that Benzedrine was not addictive, that Tardive Dyskinesia was NOT caused by antipsychotic drugs, that there were no withdrawal effects from antidepressants, and that Viiox was a safe and effective pain reliever. They believed that sexual abuse was explained by “Oedipus complexes” or frustrated sexual drives in three year olds. Experts believe a lot of things that are not true. The “resort to authority” argument doesn’t hold a lot of water in the area of “mental health.”

  • I don’t agree. It is scientifically improper to assume repression can’t exist, just as it is scientifically improper to assume that it does. I agree that it is easier to prove that repression does occur than proving it doesn’t, but there is plenty of suggestive evidence that it does occur, even if it is not conclusive. The evidence that people do, in fact, recall memories that they previously did not and that these memories reflect actual events that happened is pretty powerful in the community of people who treat “PTSD” and other trauma phenomenon. It is not scientifically valid in any sense to invalidate such evidence simply because occasions occur where such memories are implanted by poor or unethical therapists or professionals. Stories of repressed memories have been recorded for over 100 years and cannot be simply discounted because someone says “prove it.” The proper scientific position on repressed memories should be, “We really don’t know for sure.” To invalidate memories of a person who recalls them can be just as damaging as trying to induce memories that don’t exist. In the end, the only real judge of the reality of a memory, absent confirmatory evidence, is the person doing the remembering.

  • Of course, these are not criteria that are generally accepted in the “mental health” system, which we know has pretty low standards to start with. I would say the important missing information is that the allegations were made after influence by a professional or other adult who has encouraged the person to believe they have memories which they don’t recall. I think denials by perpetrators are completely meaningless and should not even be a consideration, and denial by family members would also extremely questionable and need to be viewed in context. Not sure why the perpetrator would have to have any kind of dependency on substances, or “bipolar disorder” (which is, of course, totally unverifiable), or a history of molestation or abuse. Many, many perpetrators do so when stone cold sober, and many, many perpetrators have no record whatsoever, especially in family situations. As to “bipolar disorder,” it is a ridiculous criterion. Are they really suggesting that being diagnosed with “bipolar disorder” is a requirement for molestation? That “bipolar disorder” predisposes people to molesting children? I find such a suggestion utterly ludicrous in my experience (and I worked for 20 years with foster youth, seen plenty of abuse victims and perpetrators). And what’s that weird point about “bestiality appears in prehistoric art?” Are they trying to normalize bestiality? Or what?

    These seem like extremely questionable criteria for any “diagnosis,” and the stakes involved here are enormous. Surely, the authors could do better than this!

  • Or they are dealing with a person who is overwhelmed, whose life has turned upside down and who has insufficient support or is being actively undermined. It is very common for overt domestic abuse to begin during pregnancy or shortly after the birth of a child. Additionally, the mother usually has to deal with loss of sleep, physical stress of nursing, change of body image, loss of connection through employment, loss of income, isolation, triggering of childhood memories of abuse/neglect, shock or disappointment about the realities of having a baby not matching social expectations… I could go on. There are a lot of good reasons to be depressed after a child is born that have nothing to do with the body. That said, I totally support nutritional interventions, as a lot is changing on a physiological level as well.

    In short, the idea that “postpartum depression” is a medical problem is laughable for anyone who has actually become a new parent of an infant.

  • I don’t agree. There are people who are still receiving “treatment” involuntarily, including those forced by law and those who are in a bad position where detoxing from these drugs is dangerous or sometimes even not feasible due to alterations to the brain caused by the drugs. Additionally, I’d say that anyone who has recognized the contradictions and dangers the system has put them through and is trying to get out is also a “survivor” by any measure. They have survived, even if they are still being abused.

  • I think you summed it up very well. I have absolutely no problem with folks being careful about the details of such memories being potentially altered by mixing up with later experiences. We all know this can happen. But I take absolute exception to the idea that a vague, hazy recollection can be clarified and retrieved more completely by writing or talking to someone about what is recalled, nor that a memory can be brought to consciousness by external events that has not been held in conscious memory for very long periods of time. The phenomenon of PTSD suggests that memories being triggered by external factors similar to the unrecalled events can and does occur and has been very well documented. I have no problem saying that we don’t fully understand how memories work and how accurate such spontaneous recollections of previously unconscious memories might be. I have a BIG problem with one person telling another person such memories are false simply because they were forgotten (for whatever reason) and then later recalled. AND I have a big problem with someone telling someone they DO have a memory that they have NOT recalled as well!!! It is for the person having the recollection to judge how accurate or believable it is, absent any external proof regarding such recollections. The problem with the FMS concept is that it can very easily be used to invalidate the recollections of others that are NOT induced by bad therapists or malfeasant professionals. If a therapist is seen to have intentionally implanted or insisted on the presence of “memories” the client has never recalled, then I think “FMS” has some validity. But to say it is somehow “proven” that memory repression can’t happen is going WAY beyond where the science of memory can possibly take us today.

  • Richard McNally can say whatever he wants to say. “Recovered Memory Therapy” is a sham, and we all know that. But it does not follow AT ALL that “repression” does not exist. And there are certainly many in the “false memory crowd” who suggest that ANY memory that was not recalled all along is almost certainly false. One such post was approved (with provisos) just a moment ago and is in this thread for you to read.

    I still see absolutely nothing in your post to even distinguish the difference between a “spontaneous recall” of a previously unrecalled memory and a memory temporarily “repressed” under stressful circumstances that is later “spontaneously recalled,” let alone evidence that the former exists and the latter does not. It is not logical or scientific to deny that something happens in order to address unethical practitioners who choose to take advantage of their clients’ vulnerability by suggesting that they have “memories” which the clients have never originated having recalled. The latter should be handled by the criminal courts and by stripping such practitioners of their licenses. Their unethical behavior has NOTHING TO DO with whether or not a person can “repress” a memory in a moment of stress and then “spontaneously recall” such a memory at a later time.

    I will also counter your statement of “providing cover” by saying that the overreach of the concept of “false memory syndrome,” which properly applies ONLY to “memories” evoked or created by poor questioning or unethical acts by a therapist to implant memories the client has never said they recalled, has provided cover for people who have committed acts of abuse against children and yet can claim that their child’s recollection is a “false memory” in order to avoid the consequences of their criminal behavior. Surely, this should be as great a concern as therapists implanting “false memories” with poor technique or unethical attitudes toward profiting from creating upset in their own clients.



    I am allowing this post to stand, ONLY because there is already a reply posted that indicates that the case in question is not about a person who is posting here. I have already asked that people be VERY careful not to intentionally or accidentally invalidate the recollections of any person who is sharing their personal narrative. This kind of post is extremely dismissive and invalidating, and if it were in response to someone’s own story, could be extremely hurtful. PLEASE do not post anything that could call another person’s recollections into question! This is NOT a place where people should have to “prove” their personal stories are correct, and those who demand such “proof” will be moderated without exception, and may ultimately be blocked from posting if this kind of thoughtless behavior continues.

  • I think you are splitting hairs here. The big question is not whether someone can introduce false memories with poor questioning techniques or intentional manipulation – we all know this happens, and there are systematic trainings on how to question kids to avoid such events happening.

    The big question is whether memories can exist of which a person is not consciously aware, but which can come to awareness at a later time. If you call this “spontaneous recollection,” that’s your right, I suppose, but I fail to see any distinction between a memory a person files away to the “unconscious” file that can later be retrieved and the basic assumptions behind “repression.” Repressed memories, to me, would be memories that a person on some level becomes unaware of as a self-protection mechanism against being overwhelmed by pain or fear, or perhaps simply because they are unpleasant to recall. If those memories later become retrievable under less stressful circumstances, I think we have the full mechanism of “repression” in view, no matter what term you choose to refer to it. As long as someone isn’t “pulling” the memory out, I think “recovered memories” are a very valid phenomenon. Whether these memories contain all the information recorded with 100% accuracy remains debatable, but in the instance noted, a person is “triggered” to recall a memory of something that in all likelihood really happened. A lot of folks in the “false memory” school of thinking would question or deny that this memory could be a memory of a real thing that happened, and that I find to be a very destructive and unscientific viewpoint.


    I generally don’t remove moderated comments until the end of the month. At that time, it often occurs that a long string of “removed for moderation” comments appear at the same time. It is not the result of a change of policy, it’s just an administrative issue, based on the most efficient approach to saving copies of moderated posts before deleting them.

    Hope that explains things!

  • “Precision psychiatry” can start as soon as psychiatry is able to precisely distinguish between an “ill” person and a “well” person. And I won’t hold my breath that this ability will develop in my lifetime, or ever. Because there is no way anyone can establish with precision that someone’s emotional condition is specifically caused by a “mental illness” that is based on committee consensus and voting.


    A reminder that generalized comments about COVID-19 are going to be moderated at this point as “off topic.” The topic of the blog is whether or not those labeled “mentally ill” should be prioritized for the COVID vaccination. The wider discussion has led to deteriorating civility and increasing personalization of comments without contributing anything to the main topic, and also without much evidence that an actual exchange of information was going on. I apologize to those who are posting appropriate comments, but for the good of the community, this particular aspect of the discussion is closed.

    Feel free to make comments on the basic premises of the article.

  • I am glad to hear that you were able to heal, and I’ve known many who have been able to, probably a majority. But I have run into a number who seem to be set up now so that stopping the “antipsychotics” leads to massive “relapses,” and despite slow tapering and support, it seems they have now become dependent on these drugs for stability. Bob goes over the mechanism in his book, and it makes perfect sense. So I agree that keeping hope alive is critical to recovering from the “help” usually doled out by the psychiatric industry, but it does seem to become harder the longer one is on these (on the average), and there does seem to be some lasting damage that some folks are not able to shake, in my experience.

    The spirit, however, can always be healed!

  • I have no problem with “madness” as a self-description of a certain act or behavior – “I went mad!” Or “I had this mad idea…” I do see what you mean about it potentially becoming a counter-identity for someone being attacked or dismissed by psychiatry. I’m not sure I find that a bad thing – certainly better than kowtowing to the “authorities” and letting oneself be dismissed as “mentally ill.” But I can also see how it could still be viewed as accepting one’s “otherness.” In the end, I tend to agree that we’re all a bit “mad” in one way or another, and the distinction seems to fade away if it is viewed that way. Though it does provide a nice double-entendre, because we’re all freakin’ pissed at the system!

  • An excellent question. I do believe that self-healing has to happen before one can truly be of help to others in their struggle. What I hope we will work towards is communities of people caring about each other, as opposed to the “winner takes all” philosophy that seems to have the world it its grip right now. But this will mean challenging those who are benefiting so extremely from the status quo, and that will take love to a higher level of seeking justice for those we don’t personally know. It’s a big hill to climb!


    OK, Richard, you get the last word here. We are now going to stop any further discussion of the generalities of COVID. Further discussion on this thread will be focused on the particular question of COVID vaccine prioritization for the so-called “mentally ill.” Any divergent comments regarding the possible causes and general approaches to COVID not specific to the article will be moderated as “off topic.”

  • Does it seem completely outside the realm of possibility that the virus DID accidentally escape from the lab and that the people who run the lab didn’t want anyone to know about it? I am pretty surprised at your complete confidence in the authorities to always tell the truth, given your experiences in the world of “mental health” where the authorities lie through their teeth as a matter of course. It seems contradictory to say that you can’t say with certainty that COVID 19 was not a lab experiment gone wrong, and yet say a moment before there is “NONE, WHATSOEVER” evidence that this might have happened. I think there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that such a release is quite a strong possibility, even if is is not a proven fact.

  • Does your question mean that YOU think it is a GOOD idea to create extra-infectious deadly viruses in labs, trusting that ALL the human beings in charge will ALWAYS act with complete and utter security to make sure there is NEVER an accidental release? If anyone really believes this is a good idea, I think I have some farmland near Chernobyl that they might be interested in.

    It means the idea that somehow a coronavirus that is particularly virulent is coincidentally released just a few miles away from a lab doing research on making coronaviruses more virulent but that it is from bats at the local grocery stretches credulity well beyond comfortable bounds. Besides which, there is now some evidence emerging from China (via the US State Department) that some of the Wuhan Lab workers were ill with a flu-like illness just a few weeks before the huge outbreak was identified. I am by no means buying anything suggesting this is some kind of planned “plandemic” for some kind of nefarious but as yet vague plot of the Shadow Government to somehow obtain worldwide control by forcing everyone to wear masks or some such nonsense. However, history tells us that “High security” labs and the like are far from perfect, and escapes and leaks are not a rare phenomenon. Additionally, the Chinese have been quite protective of any information regarding this lab and how the pandemic got started. So while I can’t be certain of this, all the evidence leans toward the likelihood that this virus did, in fact, accidentally escape from the lab in some way. As the saying goes, “Never attribute to malice that which is easily explained by incompetence.”

    Even if the virus did not escape from the lab, the possibility of such escapes is certainly more than negligible, and the idea of creating viruses that COULD cause a worldwide pandemic as a means of PREVENTING a worldwide pandemic seems quite foolish, to say the least. This research was discontinued by the Obama administration for a very good reason. It needs to be stopped, permanently.

    I would appreciate it if you are a little more careful in your between-the-lines implications in your “questions” in the future.

  • I agree absolutely, modeling and education is what helps other people see the possibilities. As I said above, my only concern is that we need to go beyond the individual’s experience and work on system problems. I spent a lot of years advocating for foster kids, and despite repeated successes with individuals, saw the exact same situations arising again and again, because they were only responding to my or my CASA volunteer bugging them and pressing them to do the right thing, and never really learned why it was the “right thing” in the first place.

  • Oh, believe me, I agree with you completely, but it just can’t stop at the individual level, and we can’t allow those running the show to reframe all of this as “individual problems.” You know as well as I that the personal melds into the family which melds into the institutions we participate in which melds into the survival of the species as a whole. Each affects the other, back and forth, and I think that needs to be recognized for us to be successful.

  • You are probably right. I know of a few cases personally where the person had zero history of suicidal or homicidal impulses before the drugs. But I know from both research and direct personal conversations that the suppression of inhibitions is one of the cardinal effects of cranking up serotonin artificially. It is too consistent a report to be chance, according to my “inner p-value test!”

  • Although I think it is important to recall that this is not all about our individual abilities to empathize, listen, etc. There is also a very widespread lack of community connections that impact the most skilled communicators among us. There is more going on than a lack of individual skills here. It is, as they say, a “system problem.”

  • I am sorry if you thought I was referring to you when I said “beyond stupid.” I was referring to the authors of the DSM who make that claim, that if I’m not “over it” when my spouse dies within two weeks, I have a “mental illness.” It is the most absurd of many absurd things in the DSM.

    It appears you are simply defining “illness” as “distress.” I don’t define it that way. I believe there is plenty of distress that is natural and normal and healthy and not a part of any disease process. I also believe that calling these things “disorders,” as the DSM clearly suggests we ought to, prevents research and interest in actual physiological problems that may be in play.

    But it sounds like we are substantially in agreement on most points, except for that definition.

  • I don’t think we’re far apart here. You are choosing to define “illness” more broadly by far.

    Just for the record, I have never regarded SUFFERING as metaphorical in any sense, and I don’t believe I said anything like that. The problem with the term “mental illness” at this point is that it is used intentionally as a means of denying that suffering has any kind of meaning beyond messed up brain chemicals. The idea of the “mind” being “ill” in the same sense as the body is the metaphor we’re talking about here. Suffering is very real. Saying someone “is mentally ill” because they are suffering is metaphorical.

  • Dang, we need someone to try and refute it! Of course, the fact that they haven’t even tried means they know how badly they would lose if they did. They want to preserve their ability to con most people by allowing those who have the resources to fight to get away with it.

    What about a class action?

  • Do you realize that the bulk of those “homeless mentally ill” who are talking with themselves are either taking “psych drugs” or have taken them without any real success? Do you know that some people have reported BECOMING psychotic after taking psychiatric drugs when they had none before? Have you noticed that the number of such people has dramatically INCREASED in the years since psychiatric drugs became the “treatment of choice” for such people? If these drugs are so great, why are there more and more “mentally ill” people living on the streets?

    Were you aware that studies show that long-term use of antipsychotic drugs DECREASES chances of recovery? Were you aware that providing shelter for homeless people, with no other intervention, IMPROVES their “mental health” symptoms? Did you know that people are more likely to attempt suicide AFTER they leave the hospital than before?

  • I still don’t get why you don’t get what I’m saying here. There ARE physical illnesses that can be DIAGNOSED based on CAUSE. These are real illnesses/injuries of the BODY. They may cause what is currently called “mental illness symptoms,” but they are PHYSIOLOGICAL PROBLEMS that can be diagnosed as such. Would you say a person with low thyroid has a “mental illness” if they become depressed as a result? Is the child who is hyperactive because of disturbed sleep (sleep apnea or other sleep disruptions) “mentally ill?” Or do they have a physical problem that makes them act hyperactive?

    Compare this to someone who is depressed. Diagnosing them with “major depression” can be done without the slightest reference to cause. They could be depressed due to a head injury, due to domestic abuse victimization, due to having a dead-end job and no chance of promotion, due to feeling unable to pay one’s bills, due to the loss of a loved one or a pet, due to confronting the difficulties of aging, due to lack of sleep, due to wondering what the point of life is, due to anemia, due to Lyme Disease… you get the idea, I hope? The “mind” is not “ill” because a person feels depressed. They may be struggling with something difficult, but that does not make them ILL. Their body can be ill/injured in a way that affects their mind via their brain (which is a part of the body). But being depressed does NOT suggest any sort of “illness” that can possibly be defined! It’s kind of like saying I pick my nose because I have “nose-picking disorder.” It is completely tautological and means nothing at all. It CAN be used metaphorically (“I experienced psychic injury as a result of my abuse” or “I need to heal from my difficult childhood,”) but until someone can show me the location in the body of the “psychic injury,” it is a metaphor and not an “illness” in the medical sense.

    I think that is as clear as clear can be. I understand that “mental illness” is used generically to refer to any kind of emotional upset or reaction, but it’s obviously beyond stupid to say someone is “ill” because they feel sad that their dog died, or because they are anxious about asking a girl for a date, or because they find school boring. There is a clear and distinct difference between a physical illness that has emotional effects, and an emotional situation that has no physiological cause. If that’s not enough to explain it, I’ll have to just agree to disagree. It seems obvious to me that these are very different realities.

  • Of course, there is no actual way to objectively determine who “has bipolar illness,” so this provides a handy excuse to let the drug off the hook and blame the patient. I think it’s fair to say that suicidal and/or violent behavior can be caused by exposure to SSRI drugs, regardless of “diagnosis.” It may be that people with a “bipolar” diagnosis are more likely on the average to react in this way, though I have seen no scientific study ever done to prove this (and it would be difficult to prove anyway, as again “bipolar” is such a vague and subjective “diagnosis” as to defy any clear definition of who “has” or “does not have” such an ostensible “condition.”)

    I am not in the least inclined to let doctors and drug manufacturers off the hook by blaming their victims as being “bipolar.” If they don’t know their craft well enough to judge who will and won’t become suicidal taking SSRIs, then they ought to admit that up front and warn everybody of this possible danger, rather than trying to hide it for decades and then complaining when the FDA forced them to put it on the label, claiming that “lives will be lost” if we tell people the truth. Well, guess what, making people suicidal and/or homicidal loses lives, too!

    The hiding and denial of the adverse effects of SSRIs is one of the many heinous acts that prove psychiatry to be essentially a corrupt industry that is more interested in covering up their failure than in learning how to do their jobs better.

  • I am not saying that at all. I am saying that the legal definition is a SOCIAL definition, and that the legal system acknowledges the uncertainty and subjectivity of such judgments, and makes no claim to scientific verity (hence the need for a jury of 12 to make final decisions). The problem with psychiatrists in the legal system is that they claim to be able to KNOW who is and is not dangerous, who is and is not responsible, who is and is not aware of right and wrong, in some sort of expert or “scientific” way, such that other people’s judgment should be subordinated to them. It gives them WAY too much power, and is based on no actual knowledge that differentiates them from anyone else’s judgment, as has been shown again and again when the question of predicting danger or recidivism is concerned. Psychiatry has no right to claim expert knowledge of danger assessment or evaluation of a person’s state of mind at the time of committing a crime, because they as a profession have proven incompetent in such assessments. We are better off by far admitting that, and giving that latitude to the judges and juries who are appointed to make difficult, subjective judgments. Having psychiatrists in this role makes it way too easy for judges and juries to pass the buck and accept their judgments, rather than those parties having to personally wrestle with the difficult questions of capacity and safety.

  • It is true, the SSRIs most definitely can take away someone’s inhibitions, such that something which seemed horrible (I can’t kill myself, how would my mother feel?) can now seem acceptable, (“Ah, she’ll be fine, not my problem anyway…”) I had a friend once who called it “Zolofting” – where she simply didn’t care about what anyone or society thought about anything. This might seem like a relief to someone who was always worrying, but if someone was always repressing a desire to go on a shooting spree for fear of the consequences, it might not be such a great idea…

    Still, there are plenty of reports of people who had no suicidal and/or homicidal impulses beforehand contemplating these actions after being “medicated” with SSRIs. And in any case, removal of inhibitions is NOT the same as “providing the energy” to do something. It is an alteration of one’s moral compass, a muting or deletion of the sense of right and wrong. And it is pretty damned dangerous! Though I’m sure you’d agree with me on that last point.

  • My research into the subject supports Cabrogal’s assertions. The recidivism rate, at the least, for intrafamilial sexual abuse is dramatically lower than for extrafamilial abuse. This doesn’t of course mean for a moment that serial sexual abusers don’t abuse their own children, but I think if we’re talking statistics, this pretty dramatic differentiation should be noted.

  • “Insanity” as a legal principle grew up as a completely separate concept from “mental illness” in the psychiatric world. Psychiatrists have made every possible effort to co-opt this judgment, and I find this extremely problematic. There is no objective way to determine who “has” and “does not have” a DSM diagnosis. While the concept of “diminished capacity” and “awareness of right and wrong” can be executed in the legal arena without any “help” from psychiatrists. Psychiatrists need to get out of the legal arena, because their claims of being able to determine “legal responsibility” are not grounded in science or even in legal tradition. They are grounded mostly in fantasy and in social biases that have no place in courts.

  • I also want to note the subtle but damaging implication in the statement, “…you must accept the risk that the medications themselves will enable you to get up and commit suicide or harm others.” The word “enable” is the problematic term. It makes it sound as if the depressed person is lying in bed, thinking about suicide or murder, but only doesn’t kill people because s/he lacks the energy to do so. It buys into the mythological trope that the “antidepressants” are not themselves creating suicidal or homicidal impulses, but that depressed people are ticking time bombs just waiting for the burst of energy enabling them to act on their dastardly deeds.

    SSRI antidepressants, at the least, have been tested on non-suicidal people and a small but significant number of those become suicidal. THey were not “lacking energy,” they BECAME suicidal after taking the drugs. Similarly, these drugs were initially banned in Germany due to an increase in aggressive behavior in those taking the drugs. This information has been known for decades. Pretending that the “activation” of the SSRIs “enables” suicidal or homicidal people to act out their impulses is a false narrative created to absolve the SSRIs and their prescribers from responsibility for their known adverse effects.

  • I don’t want to seem impertinent, but I feel I need to ask one question: is it still “psychiatry” if it is focused on moving people through art and writing to change how we relate to each other’s suffering? That doesn’t sound like a “reform.” It sounds like an utter repudiation of everything psychiatry currently represents. Sort of like transforming a cannon into a flower planter. It’s not really a cannon any longer, even if it’s the same shape.

  • Just for the record, there are uses of the word “mad” (and I don’t just mean “angry”) that do not imply insanity. “Crazy” comes from the little cracks that appear in the patina of a glazed piece of pottery as it ages. So being “crazy” means having an interesting array of fine detail that transcends the original design.

    But I do understand what you’re saying. No one has to identify as “disabled” to attack the status quo.


    I am getting the very strong impression that this conversation is on the verge of escalating into a more personal one. I am not really seeing an exchange of views as much as an exposition of different positions, any of which have their perspective and reasoning behind them from the viewpoint of the poster. What I’m NOT seeing as much of is 1) exchange of statistical or scientific data or studies supporting one’s position; 2) personal stories to support the viewpoint being taken; 3) attempts by one “side” to understand where the other “side” is coming from.

    The original point of the article was not to debate COVID or even the safety profile of the vaccines released to date. The article is about whether or not it makes sense to prioritize/encourage/enforce vaccines for people “diagnosed” with “mental illnesses.” There are many issues that this raises, including the question of what message it sends to make this kind of “prioritization,” whether force is being contemplated, whether or not the vaccine interacts with psychiatric drugs, etc. I think we’d do better to focus our energies on those questions. I think everyone has stated their positions fully and with passion, and further discussion along these lines seems likely to deteriorate as it has in the past.

    If folks have actual articles, research, statistics to share, please feel free, but we really aren’t learning much by simply restating our positions louder and with more emphasis, and stating or implying that those who disagree with us are irrational or dangerous. Let’s either start listening and focusing on known facts, or get back to the topic at hand.

  • Perhaps I misread your comment. Good to know we’re on the same page.

    Though I don’t agree with your last statement. You are, I believe, referring to the “governmental” meaning of authoritarian. Being “Authoritarian” in my view does not require you to be the “authority” yourself. Every authoritarian leader requires followers who are unquestioning in their loyalty and allegiance to the leader. In fact, there are generally power hierarchies where the people at the top expect compliance from those beneath them, and those in the middle have to comply with those above, but get to order about those below, and it’s only those at the absolute bottom that don’t have anyone to dump on. To me, an authoritarian is anyone who believes in and subscribes to this kind of structure. As you can see, the key is unquestioning allegiance to those above you in the chain, and the absence of independent thought at anywhere in the hierarchy. Those who say that psychiatry must work “Because they are doctors, and they know what they’re talking about, and you aren’t, so I don’t care what you think” are as authoritarian as the psychiatrists that set up the system.

    “According to Adorno’s theory, the elements of the Authoritarian personality type are:

    Blind allegiance to conventional beliefs about right and wrong
    Respect for submission to acknowledged authority
    Belief in aggression toward those who do not subscribe to conventional thinking, or who are different
    A negative view of people in general – i.e. the belief that people would all lie, cheat or steal if given the opportunity
    A need for strong leadership which displays uncompromising power
    A belief in simple answers and polemics – i.e. The media controls us all or The source of all our problems is the loss of morals these days.
    Resistance to creative, dangerous ideas. A black and white worldview.
    A tendency to project one’s own feelings of inadequacy, rage and fear onto a scapegoated group
    A preoccupation with violence and sex”


  • Just to clarify: to assume that vaccines or any drugs are likely to present unknown dangers until proven otherwise is rational. To assume that all vaccines ARE unsafe or that the dangers out weigh the benefits REGARDLESS of actual evidence is irrational. I am not advocating for mindless acceptance of drug company or CDC assertions, as your post perhaps seems to imply. I’m arguing against automatically rejecting the possibility that something might be helpful based on past bad experiences with vaccines or drug companies or governments, or based on someone suggesting without evidence that there is some nefarious purpose behind such efforts and therefore not bothering to do one’s own research on the subject.

    In other words, I’m opposed to authoritarian approaches, regardless of who is the “authority.”

  • Because not all of them have proven dangerous. It is irrational to assume that even all drugs are dangerous without evidence one way or the other. I do think it’s wise to be SAFE, namely to assume it is LIKELY there are unknown risks of ANY intervention until proven otherwise. But SSRIs are of course a horrible example. They are factually known to be dangerous, and those claiming otherwise are just ignoring the facts. But it would be foolish to assume that any new drug that came to the market would automatically be dangerous just because SSRIs are dangerous. That doesn’t mean I’d take something just because it wasn’t yet PROVEN to be dangerous. It means I would be extremely cautious about taking a stand before I knew the evidence. I generally never take ANY drugs, largely because EVIDENCE suggests that drug companies don’t do safety testing and hide bad information from the public. But if I do need to take a drug for any reason, I do a thorough research of what is known about it, and have no problem whatsoever telling the doctor or pharmacist that I’m not going to do what they say I should, even if they get snide or condescending with me. In fact, I avoid doctors as much as possible, and use nurse practitioners or physician assistants instead. And I currently have the good fortune to have a naturopath as my PCP! So I’m not apologist for the drug industry, which you should know very well by this point. However, being rational means allowing that despite their history, the drug industry may develop some useful things from time to time, and I need to be open to that possibility, particularly when a whole society is being affected by this particular “viral phenomenon.” It doesn’t mean I assume they are not lying to us or pretending to know things they don’t, as I think I made VERY clear in my prior comment. It just means I don’t rule out the possibility that the vaccine may be an overall benefit without gathering actual data as to the pros and cons. Which seems to be just what you advocate for in your other post.

  • I want to be clear in my view that seeing all vaccinations as dangerous and ill-intended is foolish, but assuming that all vaccines are effective and benign and are intended to help is just as wrong. Each vaccine needs to be evaluated on its own merits. At this point, it does appear from what I’ve seen and read that the COVID vaccines are, in fact, generally effective in preventing infections. However, there has certainly not been enough time or research to determine what the long-term effects of these vaccines will be, and which people may have more severe reactions than the average. It also remains to be seen if those so vaccinated can still pass COVID to someone else (are they not able to be infected, or if they just become asymptomatic). It does appear that people with a history of allergic reactions may be at risk. There is also some suggestion, though this has not been studied, that older folks may be more likely to have adverse reactions.

    So it’s never a black and white thing. I’d welcome people submitting actual studies or epidemiological statistics on the pros and cons of this particular vaccine, but I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to either condemn anyone supporting vaccines as a fool or a dupe, nor is it sensible attacking anyone who expresses concerns about the lack of safety testing or long-term experience. We are doing a rather uncontrolled experiment here, and folks do have a right to do their own research, and are not obligated to automatically assume that “these vaccines are safe” just because the authorities say so. But I also think we do a large disservice to assume that the vaccines are dangerous or intended to harm without gathering data to actually support or refute that position. Again, just because someone says it’s true, doesn’t make it so. Let’s allow people to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, helped by whatever data and research can be shared with each other.

  • And when force IS used as a last resort, that does not excuse forcing “treatment” on someone regardless of their agreement and intentions. I believe detaining someone for a criminal act needs to be completely separated from any idea of “treatment.” “Forced treatment” by definition is no longer “treatment” at all. It is force.

  • How is “forgetting things and later remembering them” any different from “recovering memories?” My experience as a counselor who does not EVER try to tell any client what to think or believe about their own experience is that many clients have the vague notion that “something” happened to them but can not recall at all what that “something is.” Yet when a safe enough space is created, they feel OK about remembering the details, without any prompting from me. Did they “forget something and later remember it?” Did they choose not to be aware of the information that they knew had happened so they didn’t have to deal with the consequences? Should I automatically discount these recollections because they did not have them before?

    I used to have a vague recollection of my second grade teacher tossing a book across the room after yelling at us and shaking that book for some reason. I seemed to recall standing up in my seat, and then being out in the hall with another kid. That was it. I wasn’t really sure it had actually happened. It had a dreamlike quality about it. At my 30th high school reunion, I told this recollection to a classmate of mine. She remembered it really happening! She remembered me standing up in my seat and saying, “Miss Vaughn!” in an incredulous voice. She recalled her marching down the aisle, hitting me on the side of the head, and tossing me and Freddy Baughman out in the hallway. She even knew the name of the kid who was out there with me, which totally validated my recollection.

    After hearing this, I recalled more information about it – what Freddy said to me, going to the office, seeing the nurse who checked out my left ear (which would have been the one exposed to her right hand as she hit me). I still don’t recall being hit, but it all made sense and checked out with what she remembered, and she was completely certain about it happening. She had “forgotten” the incident as well until I mentioned it, but instantly recalled it in detail.

    So was my original haziness an indication that the incident was made up? Or that I had altered recalls? Do the additional tidbits I later recalled qualify as “recovered memories?” Or did I just “forget” and then “remember?” How on earth can anyone make that distinction? Who can possibly judge the accuracy and validity of these recalls besides ME, the person who was there? Of course, I will never know for certain exactly what happened, and it is possible that the details I recalled may be somewhat of an alteration of the actual events. But I have absolutely NO DOUBT that such an incident did occur, and that I had invalidated the reality of this recollection before getting validation and additional details from my friend Susan’s perspective.

    I find the act of inducing “recovered memories” based on some therapist’s idea of what “signs” they see in the client to be utterly reprehensible. If that happened to you or your family, you have all my sympathy. However, to extrapolate from “memories can be induced by unethical therapists” to “clients are not able to remember things they may in the past have chosen to forget,” is unforgivably unscientific.

    You are correct that “proving a negative” is particularly challenging for science. But just because science can’t “prove a negative” doesn’t mean the phenomenon does not exist. It just means we don’t know the answer. Practically speaking, I’ve found without exception that respecting the client’s recollections and perception of reality as their own, and respecting their right to create and modify their own narrative, is essential to any kind of effective therapy. Many people are suffering specifically because they have had their narrative invalidated or manipulated by others, including by unethical therapists. Each of us has to evaluate the quality of our recollections based on our own standards of judgment.

    Let’s not make the leap to invalidating someone’s recollections for our own comfort. Each of us is entitled to define our story, and it’s not you job or mine or any other person’s to tell people what is and is not true for them.


    I am not going to get into the semantics of what a “repressed” vs. “unconscious” vs. “forgotten” memory means. It seems like splitting of hairs to me. But I can state unequivocally that someone whose comment invalidated someone’s individual recollections/narrative would not be allowed to be published, so you would of course not read it. I trust you can read between the lines on this point.

    NOT posting as moderator, I believe there is a pretty massive distinction between saying “repressed memory therapy” is nonsense and probably quite dangerous, and saying that no one can bring an unconscious memory (whatever you’d like to call it) to greater consciousness and awareness. The two factually have nothing to do with each other. One is a method of ostensibly “helping” someone recover assumed “memories” at the insistence of the “therapist,” the other is an observation of a process of how we recall (or don’t recall) things that are in our past. I think it is fair to say that scientific research has thoroughly invalidated the first, but that the second remains as much a mystery as the nature of the mind itself.


    To be clear, this is NOT a response to andersone’s comment, I just put it here because I have to put it somewhere I think it will be read.

    I want to note here for everyone that this is a VERY sensitive subject, and folks need to be EXTREMELY careful what they say, in terms of how it might affect another person who is reading. There are many people posting on this site who have been abused physically, sexually, or otherwise, and it is absolutely their right to tell their own stories and have their own reactions and opinions to this essay. The main way “false memories” are implanted or altered is by a person in a power position telling the person they are working with what is/is not true and invalidating the clients’ own recollections and sense of “rightness.” Please, let us NOT do this to each other here!

    My read of the data is that 1) false memories CAN be implanted by poor technique by questioners, and 2) the question of whether “recovered memories” can happen is one that remains undetermined. As such, it is NOT going to be accepted by me as moderator for anyone to tell anyone else that their own memories are false or that recovered memories don’t exist. We need to respect that each person has the right to make their own evaluation on this question, which I believe is a question that actually goes well beyond what science can tell us today, and maybe will ever be able to tell us. Additionally, there are an unknown number of posters on this site who have already been TOLD by clinicians and family members, and in some cases even the courts, that their known, certain, clear recollections are “false memories!”

    So please, tell your own stories, share what research you have, but be very careful not to suggest or imply that others’ recollections and experiences are not valid!

  • Agree 100%. The whole subject and industry is corrupt from top to bottom. But that’s another reason that these DSM “diagnoses” are so dangerous – they allow the industry to continue the fiction that these drugs are “treating” some sort of “medical condition,” rather than prescribing them to suppress feelings/thoughts/behavior about which they have no rational understanding, nor any intent to come up with one.

  • I am sure that lots of people who have been forcibly psych “hospitalized” would give your approach a big thumbs up. I think you are missing the context of these comments that doing a better job of using less force and coercion and attending more to social conditions would be an IMPROVEMENT, but that it does not address fundamental issues of power and pretense of “scientific-ness” in the current model, that are both misleading and potentially dangerous.

    I once worked at a nursing home ombudsman’s office for the State of Oregon. I recall a home that was shut down and put into federal receivership still received over 80% “good” or “excellent” ratings. A lot of folks are willing to go along with whatever is offered and feel like if they’re treated with some level of respect, they’re AOK. They are generally unaware of the damage that may be done to others, and sometimes even to their own potential growth, because they’re doing what they’re “supposed to do” and they don’t know of any other way.

    There are any number of folks who post here who might in the past have given in-home treatment high marks, and only realized over time that the “treatment” wasn’t really helping or was making their lives worse. And like I said, it sounds WAY better (in most cases) than being locked up after being arrested by the police! I mean, who can’t see the relative advantages there! Yet the basic assumptions of the system, that people “have bipolar,” that they “need treatment,” that drugs “correct chemical imbalances” or some physiological/genetic problem, are all still there.

    So the question to me isn’t what your customer satisfaction ratings are, or whether “acceptance of treatment” is higher. The real question is what COULD happen to these folks if the current paradigm were scrapped and they were approached from a standpoint of people who have experienced difficult times and need support, rather than people who “have” a “disorder” and need to be “fixed?”

    I want to say that I do appreciate your efforts. But I would encourage you to listen a little more deeply to the feedback you are receiving, and don’t be so quick to dismiss it as people who “don’t understand” or “reject treatment.” I’d suggest you listen from a standpoint of saying, “These are people who report having been severely damaged by the system I essentially believe in and promote. How and when is this happening, and am I inadvertently contributing to this kind of event, even when I think I’m doing things right?”

  • I would agree with the “multiple cause” theory, and that overt or specific trauma is not required to fit the “criteria” a “mental illness.” Of course, the fact that someone “fits the criteria” means essentially nothing at all if the “diagnosis” has a wide array of possible causes.

    The main problem I have with these “diagnoses” (and others will raise other problems, I’m sure) is that they lump together people who have nothing else in common besides feeling, thinking or acting in a certain way and ASSUME that 1) all these people have something wrong with them, 2) they all have the SAME thing wrong with them, and 3) some form of “treatment” should help ALL of them “get better” in someone’s eyes. Of course, these “diagnoses” have absolutely no scientific validity at all, as Thomas Insel, the head of the NIMH, himself admitted years back. He said it’s like someone diagnosing “chest pain.” It is meaningless to make such a subjective and broad “diagnosis,” because it includes people who have literally nothing in common with each other besides a surface manifestation of some sort. It is not possible to conduct any meaningful research on a group of people who have no common trait. What would you be studying?

    As to “innate vulnerability,” I’ll go to an analogy. If 50 people got hit by a car at a certain intersection, and 35 of them broke their legs, would we be studying that group for a diagnosis of “weak bone disorder” and find out what kind of “genetic vulnerability” they had to their leg breaking? Or would we study the intersection or crossing and find out why it is that so many people are getting hit by cars there?

    Just for a little icing on the cake, the most optimistic estimate of the “genetic” contribution to any single “mental disorder” is well below 10%. Whereas people diagnosed with “schizophrenia” correlate with childhood abuse/neglect at an 80% rate or higher. Correlations between abuse and “anxiety” or “depression” are even higher. So the very idea that these “disorders” have a “genetic etiology” is over 90% mythology.

    One question to leave you with is this: If there is a less than 10% genetic component and a more than 80% environmental component, and the genetic component is the one thing in the equation that can absolutely NOT be altered by any means, why are 90% of the dollars spent on studying genetics and physical interventions and a paltry sum being spent on studying environmental effects and how to ameliorate them? I think the answer says a lot about the ostensible “objectivity” of the current system leaders, don’t you?

  • I agree. I’ve seen many articles on the high suicide rates among doctors, and there is not a single word about “chemical imbalances” or “genetics” or even DSM “diagnoses.” It is all about stress, burnout, loss of sleep, rough schedules, inability to maintain relationships, poor training… not a word about “mental illness” is raised. And the remedies are all about creating better working conditions, selecting for a wider range of personality traits, improving the training process, changing expectations. In short, changing the environment rather than blaming the person who has a hard time adapting to it. Why does this reasoning not apply to kids in school, or foster youth, or victims of domestic and sexual violence, or victims of racism, sexism, and other oppressive structures?

  • While there is no doubt that some people would find this approach far less oppressive, it does not reduce the power imbalance and the frequency of coercion or abuse. I’d say that a person who agrees to “voluntarily” be treated at home under fear of being forcibly “hospitalized” is in no wise voluntary. Additionally, if the recipients of these voluntary “services” are only offered biological interventions, or are forced to accept biological interventions as a part of the package, or are misinformed about the limited benefits and potential long-term costs of these interventions (including the very real possibility of a significantly reduced lifespan), or are not offered the full range of alternative options (including sending y’all away at the door), we are still dealing with degrees of coercion, and the “voluntary” nature of these services is undermined.

    Just a question: does your service tell those who are recommended to take antipsychotic drugs that they are risking shortening their lives by a decade or two by accepting this “service?”

  • How do you know she “had a mood disorder?” By how she acted? How do you know that how she acted was not simply a reaction to her abuse and oppression? What objective means do you have to distinguish who “has a mood disorder,” other than your own opinion or a subjective behavioral checklist?

    When I used to do hospital evaluations, I ran into many women who were diagnosed with “bipolar disorder” or “anxiety disorders” who were feeling suicidal or panicky. I asked every one of them about their current relationships and abuse history, and every one (except two who would not talk to me) shared horrible abuse that occurred when they were young.

    Maybe a “mood disorder” is no more or less than what happens to people when the stresses in their lives overwhelm their coping measures. In which case, do they have a “mood disorder,” or are they victims of a thoughtless and oppressive culture that continually puts people in a place where they can’t cope with the harm that they are repeatedly exposed to.

  • I totally agree! I’ll talk with anyone who wants to change things, no matter what they think the “new solution” is. Even those who are “reformers” are potential recruits for a more radical analysis. Heck, I was a “reformer” once upon a time! And we can work to get agreement with “reformers” on certain goals that will help in either purpose, like getting Miranda rights read to people receiving an “evaluation.” We need to generate power, and ideological purity isn’t a requirement to get things done.

  • Bright, bored, or troubled. Exactly.

    At this point, I often bring up the fact that there is NO evidence, despite 50 years of biased research LOOKING for such evidence, that “ADHD” drugs improve ANY long term outcome, including delinquency rates, academic test scores, high school completion, college enrollment, mental/emotional well being, social skills ratings, teen pregnancy rates, drug abuse rates, or even self-esteem ratings. A number of long-term studies suggest diminished functioning in one or more of the above areas. So we are exposing millions of kids to the risks of stimulants, including psychosis, mania, weight/appetite loss, reduced adult height, alterations in personality, and a small but not insignificant chance of heart damage or death, to name just some. And yet there is no evidence to suggest that these risks are associated with ANY long-term benefits at all, in any area.

    So WHO has the “mental illness” here?

  • I think that is an important distinction. The conceptualization of emotional distress as existing in the BODY of the distressed person is the central evil that psychiatry is based on. The rest is all footnotes to blaming the patient/client for their own suffering. If it’s in their bodies, then it’s not something the powerful (or anyone) in society needs to worry or think about.

  • I am aware that “mindfulness” is part of DBT, and a significant number of commenters on MIA have stated that they were coerced into doing “mindfulness” during DBT, or else suffering some kind of consequence from the group leader. While this is completely contradictory to actual meditation practice, it is being done, and frankly gives a very bad name to what I’ve found to be an extremely powerful and helpful practice.

  • Absolutely not. I’m always amazed that the same doctors who hand out drugs that demonstrably cause earlier death in recipients, and warn strenuously that taking large doses of niacin or vitamin C is dangerous, or that homeopathic stuff is a terrible hoax and waste of money.

  • I have seen brain studies on Buddhist monks who have meditated for decades. It indicates that the areas of the brain associated with calmness and focus are larger. Now that doesn’t mean that people being forced to “meditate” are going to see any benefits, and I’m guessing they probably are likely to be harmful in some cases. I do have serious doubts about actual brain damage occurring, but psychological damage seems likely whenever force or coercion is involved.

  • There are dupes who believe this is for the benefit of the “patient,” but these people are duped. The forces behind anti-stigma campaigns are not concerned with the welfare of the “mentally ill.” They are trying to protect and expand their markets. It’s true that NAMI feels like they are helping out, but they are funded to a very large extent by Big Pharma.

  • I don’t see awareness campaigns as “symbolic,” I see them as marketing schemes for the psych system. They are selling the idea that people have “mental illnesses” and that the system has solutions to these “mental illnesses” and that anyone who says otherwise is “shaming” the “mentally ill.” It has no other real function than to publicize and sell the concepts above, as far as I can see.

  • The “mental health” version of “mindfulness” was also appropriated from Buddhism and Hinduism, and as such, misses a lot of the substance of what “mindfulness meditation” is really about and what it is intended to accomplish. It’s not about breathing deeply to make us feel less anxious, even if it happens to have that effect. But anything spiritual seems to be anathema to the mental health industry, and in particular to most of the psychiatrists I’ve encountered.


    Just to be clear, there was never any kind of ban on the SUBJECT of COVID. The last conversation was shut down because of the tone of the participants, and the escalating personalization and attacking nature of the comments. Facts and experiences on any subject are always welcome to be discussed, as long as it is within the Posting Guidelines.

  • My point has nothing to do with the “learning” aspect of school. I always knew from the start that school was not about “learning,” it was about COMPLIANCE and HIERARCHY. Knowing your place. Dumping the shit downhill on the person on the next lower step. Not challenging the basic assumptions. Trusting the “authorities” to have the answers and subduing any independent sense of reality.

    The advantages of online school for me would have been

    1) No need to be with rude and obnoxious and bullying teachers all day. Having a mute button or the ability to walk away from the screen if they were abusive. Not having to stay in at recess because I talked to someone at the end of lunch. Not having my teacher be able to throw a book across the room and hit me on the head when I objected.

    2) No need to be with obnoxious and bullying peers all day. No recess sitting wondering if anyone would want to play with me. No having to stand by and watch when other kids were being abused.

    3) No need to get up at the wee hours and take the bus. ‘Nuff said there.

    4) Ability to proceed at my own pace on things without having to wait for the class to catch up.

    5) Plus, I could have gone to the bathroom without getting their freakin’ approval!

    Naturally, it is quite possible to make distance learning just as obnoxiously authoritarian as in-classroom school. But it would have made me feel a lot less anxious just to know I could be where I was and not be subject to the whims of the teacher and can turn my camera off at my discretion, even if they got mad at me. I’d have given a lot for those privileges.


  • I agree. The title should read, “Antidepressants can cause manic behavior in many who take them.” Honestly, from talking to a number of people who have taken them, I kind of think that’s what they do. For people who are really withdrawn or super anxious, it probably feels good as long as it doesn’t go too far. But I’ve never taken them myself, so I really don’t know. In all likelihood, different people have totally different experiences. Which is really not a good thing if everyone who “has depression” is encouraged/forced to take them.


    I am going to agree here that this has most definitely veered in too personal a direction. I think everyone has had a chance to make their points, and folks can go ahead and read and make up their own minds about it. Or better yet, visit the site and see what you think.

    At this point, I am not going to post any further comments along this line of discussion. It is apparent that there are personal feelings and disagreements here that are best resolved by individual conversations. I’m happy to connect people who feel the need to talk to each other via email, but for purposes of this discussion, we need to refer back to the content of the article, and any personal complaints or criticisms will no longer be published.

  • Psych “diagnoses” are opinions, every one of them. It is ridiculous to apply such a term to a so-called “illness” that is not objectively observable or determinable. Like saying someone who doesn’t acknowledge that they’re “cowardly” is suffering from “anosognosia.” There is a proper application of the term to a known, observable neurological problem that can be tested for and verified. Saying someone has “anosognosia” because they disagree with your opinion is about as far away from scientific as you can get.

  • I don’t expect him to. I don’t know of any politician, “liberal,” “conservative,” “independent,” or anything else, who has done diddly squat for the survivors/victims of the psychiatric industry. They mostly are partly owned by the pharmaceutical industry. But that’s kind of a weird question to ask in the context of my question. I just want to know if there is any initiative that I need to get my energy behind.

  • Additionally, since 90% or more of the funding goes to drugs, naturally, the only “evidence base” that exists is for the drugs. So anything else, except DBT apparently, can’t be considered “evidence based,” because the lack of financial incentive means no one has bothered to study it!

  • Right you are! What if he said, “Well, we don’t know what really causes depression, but microwave radiation from cell phone towers may play a role?” Everyone would be immediately (and appropriately) up at arms! Science doesn’t speculate, except in the formation of hypotheses. It makes zero sense to share hypotheses that are purely speculative as if they were somehow sharing some budding scientific discovery that is “just around the corner.”

  • “The authors emphasize that many intervention techniques currently available to relieve CMDs miss the mark. Tension exists between some orientations to intervention harbored by mental health professionals, and issues of access and effectiveness continue to compromise the impact of existing supports.”

    This is impressive double-speak! To say that an intervention “misses the mark?” Doesn’t that mean that we are spending money and time and energy on things that DO NOT WORK? If an engineer “misses the mark,” his bridge falls down and he gets fired! And tension between “some orientations” and “effectiveness” seems another way of saying that practitioners continue to insist on using interventions that DO NOT WORK!

    Sounds like job protectionism for the incompetent to me!

  • There were lots of “good people” who participated in atrocities in Nazi Germany, and lots of other places around the world. The Milgram experiment ought to have taught us all that years ago. “Good people” who don’t think for themselves are always vulnerable to being manipulated or “educated” into doing horrible things.

  • His behavior is consistent with a person lacking in ethics and willing to bully and harm others in the interests of pursuing his own goals. His speeches from day one appeared to be calculated to play on peoples’ fears and prejudices and to bring out the worst in terms of hatred and division between Americans. It was also clear from the people he hired and who traveled in his circles that he had criminal connections and engaged in his own personal forms of corruption. Not to mention the constant lying about everything, and his tendency to turn violently against his “friends” as soon as they said or did something he found threatening or even disagreeable. I didn’t even consider his personal life, though of course, it is totally coherent with my observations that he is selfish and bullying and corrupt. (Paying off prostitutes to keep quiet? Cheating on his wife? Bragging about grabbing women’s private parts?)

    As to the insurrection, he started telling everyone back in March or April how the election was going to be “corrupt” because of “fraud” due to voting by mail. It was obvious that this was going to be his backup strategy in the likely case that he lost the election. It became more obvious in the summer how desperate he was, as COVID raged and his popularity ratings tanked. The hiring of a postal service head who intentionally slowed the mails showed just how lacking in any kind of ethics he was. The civil suits aimed to make sure that the mail-in votes (likely to be heavily Democratic due to his previous lies about the unreliability of mail-in votes) were counted last were a pretty obvious ploy to make it look like he was ahead at the start and have Biden catch up later in the evening, leaving him free to claim “victory” before all the votes were counted and to claim “fraud” and being “cheated” out of his supposed victory by those evil mail-in ballots. The eventual end game was for him to inflame his supporters to go to bat to keep him installed as “President for Life” regardless of the electoral count.

    So yes, it was utterly predictable that something of this sort was part of the plan. The “stand by” message to the right-wing militias should have made it obvious to anyone whose eyes were open.

  • Actually, according to quantum mechanics, all matter has both a wave and a particle aspect. The wave aspect of large, solid objects is so small as to be negligible, but when you break it down to a molecular/atomic level, the chair you’re sitting on is a particle/wave phenomenon, and there is an infinitesimal possibility that it could suddenly become empty space and you’ll fall on the floor on your butt!

  • I am actually working on a comedy routine and am ready to roll it out for the public as soon as “open mic night” is back in operation. I call it, “Intelligent design.” I agree with folks that design by a Creator is a reasonable position to take. But then I ask the question, “If we were designed, I have to ask – how intelligent is it?” Of course, psychiatry is going to have a place in the routine at some point.

  • That is my feeling. A person should be removed from office based on their inability/unwillingness to execute the duties of the office with integrity. Corruption, neglect, malfeasance, poor judgment, dishonesty for personal gain, these should be the things that are considered. Behavior, not “diagnosis,” is what matters.

  • There is no data indicating that psychiatrists or psychologists are any better than anyone else at determining levels of dangerousness than the average Joe on the street. And there are plenty who are “diagnosing” him at a distance.

    And BTW, I do consider him very dangerous.

  • 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