Showing 33 of 33 comments.
Too bad. It would be nice to meet people. Thanks for letting me know Julie.
On that topic… is anyone here going to be in San Francisco next month?
Sweet. I was going to encourage myself “get out there” more this year, but maybe I’ll just wait a little longer and take this pill when it’s available. 😛
I’m a fan of ditching euphemisms – if we’re looking for ways to change things here. I still use the term “I was put on antidepressants” sometimes because people might listen to me more than if I say the truth that “I was lied to and drugged”, but I definitely believe that euphemisms protect perpetrators.
This is so terrible. I had not heard of it before. Thanks for the article.
Thanks for increasing awareness about this issue. Yes, drug withdrawal is very real. I don’t think though that the solution is opening a lot of psychiatry led withdrawal centres. That might be helpful temporarily, but I ultimately think that the best thing psychiatry could do is to admit to their mistakes, and admit to the impact on people’s lives, and then release their grip. Actually allow the public to breathe and liberate each other from the mess without interference. For me, true “self-empowerment” is coming from rejecting further control and listening to survivors.
Amazing writing, I’m looking forward to your how-to guide.
I’m very impressed by how you figured all of this out and stood up for yourself throughout it. You write it all so clearly too.
“It was a farce as either way my reality wasn’t counted.” – This line really spoke to me for some reason. Thanks.
I’m not sure how they differ, but I can tell you a few ways in which they are similar… They are both tools for categorising people who have painful, unusual, or offensive experiences; they can both isolate the diagnosed person from mainstream society; and they were both originally developed by powerful people with minimal input from oppressed groups.
Cats are wonderful Rachel. Ya, my ability to love was affected by the drugs for many years. It’s coming back in spurts, but trust remains low because of the years of deceit. Now when someone says that they want to “help” me in any way, I run in the opposite direction. I even had a bad dream last weekend where I was unable to get away from people trying to “help” me. Aaahhh! I am beginning to meet people who I can share love with though.
The people in the article who are directly affected by climate issues caused by others could still spread their stories to motivate people to change their ways. I don’t like to think that it’s all so hopeless. For a lot of us too, instead of grieving the loss of nature, we could start grieving the things we will have to give up in order to keep nature. Like saying goodbye to unnecessary purchases and consumption.
Yup, I’ve noticed that paradox too.
Hey littleturtle, If it’s about building a bio/psy/soc model, I wonder if other groups might be better at that than psychiatry. For example, a family doctor or internist could make sure there is no biologic issue happening, such as a nutritional deficiency or hormonal problem. Psychological issues may be better addressed through the individual working with their neighbours/loved ones/counsellor/coach etc. The social issues might be better dealt with through healthier and more equitable public policy. I have actually found psychiatry to be a huge distraction from these three issues that you mentioned. Perhaps it could reform, but I’m not going to be holding my breath on that.
I love your articles, especially this one. The anger and extremes of power inside that courtroom were palpable. I’m familiar with that experience you describe of wanting to protest but having to stop yourself to avoid digging the hole deeper. I really hope that things work out for you.
Thanks for posting this Megan. I’m so glad to see that you were able to figure out what was actually happening in that confusing situation. It seems to me like a lot of therapists blame the patient for how they have been treated – either openly like your marriage counsellor did or covertly through diagnoses. This is not to say that we are helpless, we can still work to make our lives better, but let’s at least not lie to each other about what is happening around us! That is crazy-making. I also find compassionate friends to be more helpful, along with returning to regular common sense. Peace.
This is amazing, thanks for posting it. I appreciated the paths in a field analogy. I like to think though that we can change paths – if not by free will, then maybe by something new in our lives giving us enough strength to push through the tall grass and find a different path.
“Binary distinctions between ‘service users’ and ‘professionals’ or the ‘mad’ and the ‘sane’ are often unhelpful as we all experience distress at some point in our lives.”
I agree with you that – in real life – these distinctions are inaccurate and simplistic because as people we exist in all kinds of ways. We go through periods of suffering more and less, and of helping others, and of being helped.
However, even though the binary is artificial, it also happens. We are dreaming if we are to ignore the binary that we have created. Say you enter a psychiatric clinic or hospital, you will need to either be on the giving or the receiving end of treatment, and this will decide your experience (where families fit into this is a whole other story). In these settings though, the “professional” group will gain money and job satisfaction out of the interaction. Decision-making power is given to them freely. Meanwhile, the “patient” group may be pathologized, disempowered, and will often leave the interaction with a treatment that may help or may completely derail their life and health. It’s terrifying and there’s no free movement between the groups. Voluntary or forced, if you try to explain to the nurse on the psych ward or in the clinic that today you feel more like providing than receiving, you won’t get anywhere. Your role was decided upon when you walked in.
Then afterwards when we are not in that environment and we are talking to people, we sometimes like to explain which part of the binary we were forced into, so then we may identify ourselves as professionals, patients, ex-patients etc. It can be helpful to know also what angle a person is coming at this from. For some people at certain points in their life (such as me right now fighting for personal liberation from the system), it could even be dangerous to try and ignore the binary and to trust professionals as regular people. Overall though, I agree with you that it would be nice for both our interactions with each other and our views of ourselves to be more natural and fluid.
Thank you so much for all the work that you are doing. I’ll buy your book when it comes out! I’ll be interested to learn why Don found that change from the inside wasn’t working, and what worked for him instead. I’m new to all of this and am still trying to understand it.
Glad to hear you got away Julie :). I believed their evaluations of me for waaay too long, I think in part because it all seemed so official. At one place I had to go where they made me do questionnaires, the doc brought me into his office at one month of treatment. He said that my results indicated a 30% improvement. They were very confident and professional about their evaluations. They appeared as though they were “helping” and measuring my progress. I now see that clinic as just another place that harmed me bigtime. I’m still struggling to make sense of my time in the system, still coming off the drugs too, it’s like waking up from a really bad dream.
Exactly. And ya, having your attention brought back to every nuance of “what is wrong with you” repeatedly through these questions, might cause harm.
Agreed Julie. Researchers and clinicians validate scales before they are used. They often become the exclusive “we”. However, I see it as super messy because not only might they “we” be blind to the patient’s perspective, but in general, the different ideas and experiences that any person is exposed to will shape what elements are seen as problematic and therefore worthy of measurement by a scale.
Let me illustrate this with some of my problems with scales. The first time that I was introduced to evaluation of my mood was when I was younger and my well-meaning parents said something like “we are worried that you might have depression”, however, prior to that, I had often thought of my unhappiness being because “my life sucks”. If I were to have made a scale as a teen it might have involved elements for my dislike of various things. My perspective changed with involvement in the system, and I then learned to think more in terms of symptoms. I had assessments, phq9s and treatment for depression which followed me into adulthood. After many years of treatment I was even enrolled in something where I had to take a form of the BDI almost every day. Overall, this approach generated by other people had harmed me.
I have since departed from thinking like that and I now have a similar but more mature view than when I was a teen. I’m now working to improve both the circumstances of my life and my acceptance of circumstances that I cannot change. (As well as other things.)
Would I want to take a scale now? No, because at this point in my life, I actively resist thinking about my life in terms of “symptoms” which seems to be serving me well. Who would I trust to create a useful scale to be used for everyone? I don’t know because every person has a different perspective. Could some people or computers somewhere make a scale that could be useful for some people? I think so.
I share some of Alex’s concerns. I rarely comment, but I read here daily, and am writing now because seeing that half of the respondents wanted to hear less from survivors was a little crushing. MIA is one of the few places where I can read and feel respected as a survivor. Almost every other place values professional opinion above all.
I very much believe in unbiased research with useful outcomes, and professionals would be really helpful with that; however, that is rare stuff. Professionals can also be really valuable to shed light on injustices, and to raise interest among other professionals, which would be great. Either way, they will still need input from survivors.
The problem is that it’s so unbalanced in the world right now that the simple opinion of a professional has the power to ruin the life of a psychiatric patient. We can’t assume that the imbalance disappears in MIA internet discussions with ex-patients, although I think we should keep trying.
What I want to ask you is to please not let this just become another place where professionals come to boost themselves. I have seen it happen and it’s really off-putting and unhelpful. Could you please keep in mind: who is the mental health system supposed to be serving anyway?
It’s brave of you to write this as a mental health professional, and it’s so sad that you we’re treated like that as a child. I’d consider it a form of abuse too. Thanks for writing this. I can relate to some of the things in your story.
“This kind of socially-sanctioned victim-blaming literally makes people crazy. It strips us of our human need and right to recognize and name what hurts us — and then take rational action to protect ourselves from it and defend ourselves against it.”
So clearly stated. Thank you.
I think that institutionalization and drug dependency are both problems. They also exist to different degrees in different people. For example, I’m familiar with people who have rejected the institution, yet are still left struggling with chemical dependency or residual withdrawal effects.
Moreover, your placebo argument didn’t make sense. Even if a drug doesn’t have antidepressant effects for a person it is still capable of changing their brain. I’ll use a vivid example to make it clear to you how a ineffective drug can still do bad things with or without psychiatry: Imagine that your life is painful so you begin drinking to drown your sorrows. The alcohol ends up not helping your mood in the long run because alcohol is actually ‘depressogenic’. However after using it everyday for 10 years, you now try to quit. What a surprise, you end up with awful withdrawal without ever stepping into the system!
Denying the existance of this part of people’s journey to freedom is mean. I agree with your point though about the harm of helplessness. Perhaps we just need to make it clear to everyone that withdrawal isn’t permanent, because people can move on, and because hope is so important.
Words are important but the concepts are the bigger problem. Whether you’re called a ‘person with depression’ or a ‘depressed person’ or a ‘depressive’, the implication is the same – you’re thought to have something wrong with your brain, you will be given drugs, and the real problems which made you hopelessly sad in the first place will often be ignored.
Thanks for bringing our attention to these studies. The authors of the Norwegian study seem to get it. When they talk about patient ownership it sounds like more than lip-service. Their article was refreshing to read. I like how they went right for the source of people’s distress, in this situation it was the ‘existential catastrophe anxiety’, and the authors generally bypassed the participants’ varied diagnoses. The study outcomes are something I can relate to as well.
I don’t know why mainstream studies continue to report the narrow outcomes. Maybe it’s that the pharma profits are so compelling, maybe the psychiatrists are in a hurry to publish something that their peers will approve of, maybe the power imbalance blinds psychiatrists to what really matters in people’s lives, or perhaps it’s just a habit that has been perpetuated?????
It’s still confusing to me, but I know people who are being harmed by the narrow short term focus of current treatments, and like someone just mentioned, people are more than statistics. There are real people with real losses due to this issue. Thanks for writing about it.
This is sadistic. I don’t know how anyone can think that torture would help a person. Too much power. These “students” at JRC might now be traumatized for life. Thank you Cal for your work.
Awesome. You’re bringing serious attention to the problem. I’m also so happy to hear that you were able to escape from that oppressive situation when you did, yikes. Thanks for this article.
“I understand how those who wish to abolish the entire mental health system might react negatively to the tone of Robert’s article.”
This is missing the point. I commented on his tone, not because I have an opinion about the future of psychiatry, but rather because his article was overly simplistic and disempowering towards survivors. He sounded like he was trying to shut certain people up rather than create dialogue with them. My internal power radar started beeping.
I just want to comment on the tone of this article. It comes across as condescending. I get the impression that the people who you mentioned have experienced real suffering and have gathered wisdom through those experiences. To dismiss what they’ve said as a “black and white view” sounds shallow.
That was so concisely written. Thank you.
The withdrawal depressive symptoms from these medications can be painful and lengthy; I can’t imagine how people would consider it appropriate to do placebo crossovers like they are doing. It appears to be both cruel and unscientific.
Real nutritious foods would make more sense than piles of supplements. Supplements are better than meds though. Great comments everyone.